Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sunday - the highlight of my week!!

Preparing Your Heart for Worship - October 1, 2017

I always look forward to being together with my church family every Sunday!. This week, we’ll be turning our thoughts to what it means to be the Body of Christ and the role we are meant to play in each other’s lives. The many elements of our day together have all been put together not only to remind us of the gospel, but to think on and celebrate that God has brought us all together as members of Fellowship Baptist Church. We’ll sing together, study God’s Word together, hear from others as they share about being a part of Fellowship, and take the Lord’s Supper together. The day will culminate in our annual church picnic (at Parr Hill park this year), one of my favorite yearly events. It’s a time to just enjoy being together as brothers and sisters in Christ as well as being “very Baptist” and enjoying a lot of food together!

Preparing Your Heart
Over the next couple of days, as you think toward our time together, read the following passages and think through the list of questions so that we can make the most of our time together. 
Colossians 3:12-17
• How are God’s people described?
• What are we told to put on?
• Who are we supposed to bear with? (what does “bear with” mean?)
• Why do we forgive others?
• What are we to do more than anything?
• What should rule in your heart?
• What should dwell in your heart?
• As a result of that, what two things are you to do for one another?
• What are we to do everything in?
Ephesians 4:29
• What kind of speech is “only” to come out of your mouth?
Hebrews 10:24-25
• What are we to consider?
• What are we not to neglect?
• What are we to do instead? 

The goal of reading the passages and answering these questions is to help you think through the passage I’m preaching on this Sunday. 


Here are the songs we’ll be singing together this week. 

Oh How Good It Is

What an amazing declaration of why we gather each week! As the lyrics of this song say: with one heart we sing to the Lord, and with one voice we live out His Word!  

Trust and Obey

There are two simple words that are repeated over and over in this song, and they summarize very well what our response should always be to God’s instructions to us!

Amazing Grace

There’s a reason that this is considered to be one of the best hymns ever written. What a wonderful expression of what Christ has done for us. Just the first verse alone is something that would be beneficial to meditate on again and again.   

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

When Isaac Watts wrote this song in 1707, it was intended to be a communion hymn. It remains to this day, a wonderful meditation on the cross and our response to it. Based on Galatians 6:14 (But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ...) the song begins contemplating the cross and that all of our own accomplishments pale in comparison. He then points us to Christ’s love for us, and, in a powerful image, points to the diety of our Suffering Savior - “Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?" The final verse is our proper response to Christ’s overwhelming love for us.
Here's my favorite version of this song: https://sovereigngracemusic.bandcamp.com/track/when-i-survey-the-wondrous-cross

You Are My All In All

The chorus of this song reminds me of John 1:29 when John said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” May Christ’s sacrifice for us ever be on our lips. 


As always, be in prayer for:
• Pray first and foremost for yourself, that you would come with your heart prepared to worship Christ and celebrate the gospel as we come to the Lord’s Table together as the conclusion of our time together this Sunday. 
• Rex and all those who lead the music in our time together.
• Pray that we all come together on Sunday with hearts prepared to engage in intense, focused exaltation of God. 
• Pray that we demonstrate holiness, unity, and love in both our personal lives as well as together as the Body.
• Pray for me as I prepare to preach God’s inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative Word.


Rob

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Faith Alone in Christ Alone


Preparing Your Heart for Worship - September 24, 2017

This Sunday, we’ll conclude Romans 9. Paul’s conclusion is fantastic! We’ll see the first part of his conclusion this week, and the full picture when we begin Romans 10. 

Call to Worship
Our Choir will be calling us to worship with the song “Blessing and Honor.” What a great way to begin our time together - declaring that we are here to bless and honor our Great God and lift up the name of Jesus!  




Come People of the Risen King
We come together, united to sing praises to our King! While this version is different than how we'll do it, I've always been a big fan of the Melodica (the strange mouth blown keyboard instrument in the beginning). But pay attention mostly to the great lyrics!

Rejoice the Lord is King
As verse 4 of this song says, we rejoice in the glorious hope that Christ is returning! This hope is a settled assurance - knowing that He will come for His children! 

Prayer of Praise
As we continue worshiping together, and are led in praising God through prayer, join in praising God with the one leading this time - and when we conclude - we all say “AMEN!” to affirm that this is our prayer. Even though we’re hearing the words of one person as they lead us, we’re all coming to God together in praise of His glory and grace.  

Worship through Giving
This month, we’re collecting an over and above offering for Missouri Missions. This offering goes to support various gospel efforts here in the state of Missouri. If you were with us a couple of weeks ago, we heard from Jason and Matt, pastors at The Church @ Affton. They have benefitted from this offering more than once. We have set a goal of $3,500 this year. Pray about what God would have you give to this offering over and above your tithe.

Meditating on God’s Word
In 1 Timothy 4:13, we’re exhorted to ...devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture. This time in our worship gathering is intended to do just that. When we hear God’s Word read, we are hearing directly from Him. We also meditate on His Word through memorizing it, and hearing from others as they have memorized it. What a joy it is to hear others quoting the Word that they have hidden in their heart. 

In Christ Alone, My Hope is Found

This modern hymn, declares the whole life of Christ and what it means. It teaches us the foundations of what we believe in Christ the God who changed all of history and who wants a relationship us. 
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live

The author of the hymn writes: “No matter how many times I hear that verse, I get chills up my spine. The picture of Christ standing in victory, the image of sin’s grip being broken and the promise that I am his and knowing that he in fact is mine brings him incredibly close to me.”

Show Us Christ

This song is a wonderful declaration for the congregation to make together as we prepare to hear from God’s Word. Every word on every page of the Bible is about Christ - who He is and what He came to do. The challenge to the preacher is always to bring the weight of that to bear in the sermon. When God’s Word is planted deep in our hearts, it will always bear fruit.


Sermon: By Faith, Romans 9:24-33
This week, we’ll be looking at a larger section of Scripture than we usually do, but this section stands together as a “whole” and a sort of conclusion to Romans 9. In verse 30, Paul says (as he often does), “what shall we say then?” - and draws us to the conclusion of what he’s been teaching. 
As you read through this passage a few times, consider the following questions to help you make the most of our time together on Sunday:
  • who is the “us” that are called?
  • what is the back story in Hosea?
  • who are the “sons of Israel” in v. 27?
  • who did not pursue righteousness?
  • how did Israel pursue righteousness?
  • who attained righteousness?
  • how did they attain it?
  • who is the “stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense?”
  • who will not be put to shame?

By Faith

You just can't argue with bagpipes for the opening of a song now, can you? 
While we have sang this song before, it’s certainly going to be unfamiliar to many. As we consider one of the main things that this Sunday’s passage teaches - righteousness is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ - this song is a great summary and conclusion, as well as a call to proclaim the gospel of Christ to all. 


As always, be in prayer for:
• Rex and all those who lead the music in our time together.
• Pray that we all come together on Sunday with hearts prepared to engage in intense, focused exaltation of God. 
• Pray that we demonstrate holiness, unity, and love in both our personal lives as well as together as the Body.
• Pray for me as I prepare to preach God’s inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative Word.


Rob

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Are We Vessels Prepared to Worship?



Preparing Your Heart for Worship - September 10, 2017

As we continue our study of Romans 9, last week and this week are the “thick” of this chapter. There are certainly different views of the Doctrine of Election, there always have been, and there probably always will be. As we work our way through Romans 9, probably the most “election dense” passage of Scripture in the Bible, we must remember that while this is part of Paul's explanation of the Gospel, your interpretation of what Romans 9 teaches about the doctrine of election is not a “primary/central gospel issue.” Proclaiming the gospel to everyone we can does not hinge on this particular issue. There are godly, growing Christians that have come to different conclusions in their study of this passage. What unites us is our commitment to being obedient to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), Acts 1:8, and many other passages, including Colossians 4:2-4 and 1 Peter 3:15-16. As we consider the purposes of the church, which are so clearly expressed in our Purpose Statement: “Worshiping Jesus, Following Jesus, Sharing Jesus... TOGETHER!,”  let us keep the “TOGETHER” as the lens through which we strive to exalt God, edify each other, and evangelize the lost. 

Scriptural Call to Worship
As God’s Word should always remain central, what better way to begin our time together than hearing His voice calling us to turn our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection to Him   

This Is Amazing Grace

The title of this song clearly calls us to be amazed at His grace. How can we not be? Consider how the words to this song describe so many elements of what He has done for us.  

At Calvary

God’s mercy is great. At the cross I was declared “NOT GUILTY” of my sins. As we sing this song together, may we truly meditate on the freedom we have in Christ. (P.S. - the version in the video is a different tune than what we'll sing on Sunday, but a really cool version of the song)

Prayer of Praise
As we continue worshiping together, and are led in praising God through prayer, join in praising God with the one leading this time - and when we conclude - we all say “AMEN!” to affirm that this is our prayer. Even though we’re hearing the words of one person as they lead us, we’re all coming to God together in praise of His glory and grace.  

Worship through Giving
We should always pause during this time to remember that every resource we have, whether it is finances, material possessions, or time, is a gift from God. This is a time to acknowledge that. Whether you give weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, this is a time to meditate on worshiping God through giving back to Him.

Meditating on God’s Word
In 1 Timothy 4:13, we’re exhorted to ...devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture. This time in our worship gathering is intended to do just that. When we hear God’s Word read, we are hearing directly from Him. We also meditate on His Word through memorizing it, and hearing from others as they have memorized it. What a joy it is to hear others quoting the Word that they have hidden in their heart. 

Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King

Just the first line of this song is enough to draw me in - “tune my heart to sing Thy praise.” As we continue our time together, let this line be our prayer that we praise Him for His excellent grace. 

Change My Heart Oh God (with “Take My Life”)

As we prepare to study a passage of Scripture that speaks of God’s active work in our hearts, let us remind ourselves that not only do we need His activity in our lives, but we should seek to be transformed by His Word and His Spirit. We need His holiness, righteousness, and transformation in our lives continually.

Sermon: Vessels, Romans 9:19-23
In this passage, Paul is responding to objections to what He has been teaching. As I’ve said many times - this is a difficult passage and there are some tensions that come as we work our way through it. As you prepare your heart for the teaching of God’s Word, read the passage and consider the following questions so that we can make the most of our time together:
  • What is causing Paul’s opponent to ask this question?
  • In this illustration, who is the potter? Who is the clay?
  • What might Paul be referring to in using the terms “honored” and “dishonorable?”
  • What are the terms “wrath” and “power” referring to?
  • What are the “riches of His glory?”
May the Holy Spirit open our minds and hearts to what He is saying to us through His Word. 

Now Why This Fear

For those who have repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ, there is no need to fear God’s wrath. The line “no wrath remains for us to face....” is a wonderful response of the believing heart to this passage. Those who are saved are truly “vessles of mercy” and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As always, be in prayer for:
• Rex and all those who lead the music in our time together.
• Pray that we all come together on Sunday with hearts prepared to engage in intense, focused exaltation of God. 
• Pray that we demonstrate holiness, unity, and love in both our personal lives as well as together as the Body.
• Pray for me as I prepare to preach God’s inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative Word.


Rob

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Salvation is of the LORD!

Preparing Your Heart for Worship - August 27, 2017

As you think toward our time together this coming Sunday morning, here are some thoughts about what we'll be doing in our worship gathering to help you make the most of our time together.  

Scriptural Call to Worship
We’ll be starting our worship gathering a little differently this Sunday. While we typically begin with a few verses of a Psalm or another passage, then have a more lengthy Scripture reading later in the service, we’ll be opening our time with our “Meditation on God’s Word” this Sunday - it will certainly have a different “feel,” but how can you go wrong when you begin by turning your mind and heart to God’s Word?  

Amazing Grace
All I’m really going to say here is that there’s a reason this is universally considered to be the best loved hymn of all time.


Prayer of Praise
This element of our service is, in the big picture, still relatively new. The goal of this time is to turn our thought to praising God. This is a significant time of being very intentional to come in heartfelt adoration of our Lord. When preparing to lead the congregation in praise, it is absolutely honoring to the Lord to be prepared to lead the congregation in prayer and praise. Some of these prayers will be more “scripted” and some will be more “extemporaneous” (but no less prepared and thought out). As we are led in prayer, always remember that these men leading us are striving to facilitate our corporate exaltation of God by leading us to praise our Awesome God! 

Worship through Giving
We should always pause during this time to remember that every resource we have, whether it is finances, material possessions, or time, is a gift from God. This is a time to acknowledge that. Whether you give weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, this is a time to meditate on worshiping God through giving back to Him.

At Calvary
As we prepare our hearts to study God’s mercy poured out to us on the cross, this song is a great reminder of God’s mercy, grace, pardon and the freedom we have at Calvary. 

Sermon: Our Merciful God, Romans 9:16
The best short paraphrase of this verse is: “salvation is of the Lord.” While verse 16 is self-contained and packed with rich, deep theological truth, it’s also a summary and conclusion of what Paul has been saying since 8:28. As you prepare to make the most of our time together this Sunday, read verses 14-16 and consider the following questions:
  • Why does Paul ask if there is injustice on God’s part?
  • What is his response to this question? 
  • What Old Testament story does he point us to in answering the “injustice” question?
  • What is the meaning of “mercy?”
  • What is meant by “compassion?”
  • What is the connection between the two words? 
  • Who is God saying He will have compassion on?
  • What does salvation not depend on?
  • What does salvation depend on?
  • How might we be relying on our own will or exertion?
  • What attribute of God is highlighted here? Why do you think that is?

As we did last week, we’ve moved the “bulk” of our singing to the end of the sermon so that we can sing in response to His Word. While this is certainly different than how we’ve structured our time together in recent years, the goal is to move from receiving God’s Word to exalting and praising Him in response to what He has said to us through Scripture. 

In Christ Alone
The opening phrase of this song is such a great truth - my hope is found only in Christ. 


Grace Greater than Our Sin
Any time we celebrate what Christ has done for us, we must see it in light of our extreme unworthiness. Not only was there nothing in me worthy of God looking on me with any favor, but my sin actually pushed me even farther down the “unworthy” path. I’m not just unworthy of His grace, I absolutely deserve eternal punishment in hell. But God’s grace has overwhelmed my sin. I’ll never be able to adequately express how thankful I am for HIs grace that is greater than my sin, but I’m certainly going to make every effort anyway. 


Trust and Obey
As we leave and head back out into our daily lives, this song is always a great reminder that we should walk in trusting obedience to what God has commanded us in the Bible. Believers are those who both trust in His inerrant Word, and obey it. 


As always, be in prayer for:
• Rex and all those who lead the music in our time together.
• Pray that we all come together on Sunday with hearts prepared to engage in intense, focused exaltation of God. 
• Pray that we demonstrate holiness, unity, and love in both our personal lives as well as together as the Body.
• Pray for me as I prepare to preach God’s inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative Word.


Rob

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Celebration of Grace!

Preparing Your Heart for Worship - August 8, 2017

As we turn our thoughts to Romans 9, there will be many things that come out in our study of this great chapter. God’s continued faithfulness to His people, the trustworthiness of His Word, and the abundant overflow of His grace toward us are just a few things that stand out. As you think toward our time together this coming Sunday, be in prayer for those who will be leading as well as carefully thinking through the lyrics to the songs we’ll be singing. The songs are so rich and deep in directing our minds and hearts toward the Lord. As always, I’m really looking forward to our worship gathering this Sunday.  

May the Peoples Praise You
What amazing lyrics! This song is a wonderful expression of thankfulness “to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-13) As those who have been saved - we gather together to exalt Him for His glorious grace!  

Hallelujah for the Cross

As we continue to sing about what Christ has done for us, this song leads us to think about the gospel again. I love Verse 2: What good I've done could never save, my debt too great for deeds to pay. But God my Savior made a way, Hallelujah for the cross!

Prayer of Praise
Each week, someone is asked to lead us in a prayer of praise to God. We place this prayer right after a time of singing so that we can continue praising God together. As I’ve mentioned before - let this be a time where you’re very intentional to track with the person leading the prayer and when he’s finished praying, join with the congregation in saying “AMEN!”

Worship through Giving
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) This
Giving is an act of worship. The New Testament teaches that our giving should be sacrificial and joyous. When we give back to God, we are acknowledging that everything we have is because of His grace toward us. Whether you give weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or otherwise, use this time as an opportunity to meditate on your giving back to the Lord through Tithes & Offerings. 

Meditating on God’s Word
What a joy it is each week to hear someone reading directly from God’s Word. As the Scripture is read this morning, make effort to truly focus on hearing the Word. 

The Ligonier Statement on Christology
A couple of weeks ago, in the sermon, I presented four things that characterize a True Christian. First on that list is “Believes in Christ.” It is absolutely critical that when we speak of Christ, that we speak accurately. As we read this statement together, let this time 

Pastoral Prayer of Petition
As we turn our thoughts back to the Lord and prepare to praise Him, we tune our minds and hearts to His amazing grace and declare together our desire to hear from Him. 

Nothing But the Blood

This song, along with the next one, is what we would call a “classic hymn.” There’s a reason these songs have been sung by Christians for many years. The truth contained in these two songs is both deep and should drive us to passionately praise Him for what He has done for us. After declaring who He is through the Ligonier Statement, we turn to celebrate what He has done for us! It is through what Jesus did that our sins are forgiven, our brokenness made whole, and our lives are turned back to God. (P.S. - The version in the video is a little different than we'll be singing it)

The Solid Rock

As we have been talking about for several weeks, our hope is not built on anything we would do, anything we own, our own strength, or even a great Godly heritage. Our hope is built on the Righteousness of Christ that is “infused” into us in salvation.  

Sermon: God’s Grace in Salvation - Romans 9:10-13
As you prepare for our time together, read through Romans 9. It’s ideal to read from Romans 8:28 all the way through to the end of chapter 9, but if you only have a couple of minutes read Romans 9:6-13 a time or two. 
Our study tomorrow is primarily in verses 10-13 - as you think through these verses, consider the following questions:
1. What does the phrase “not only so, but also” point to?
2. List all the things that Jacob & Esau had in common. 
3. What was Rebecca told about her unborn twin sons?
4. When she was told this, what had Jacob & Esau done?
5. What was the purpose of the Lord telling Rebbeca this?
6. What does Paul mean by “loved” and “hated” in verse 13?
7. Which of the twins deserved God’s love more?
(yes, that last one is a trick question - for the answer, read Romans 3:10-18)

Grace Greater than Our Sins

We should be struck by “Jacob I loved,” for Jacob certainly wasn’t deserving of God’s love. When we think about God’s grace, it not only overwhelms our sinfulness, it comes in spite of our sinfulness. None of us deserve God’s love or His grace even in the slightest bit - but thanks be to God that though we were His enemies - HE. SAVED. US!

This Is Amazing Grace

This song will be our “Benediction.” The closing thought. As we prepare to head back to our daily lives, all the things that God’s amazing grace is to us should echo in our minds and hearts as we strive to live out the gospel in the details of how we live our lives. 

Sunday Evening: 1, 2, & 3 John.
We’ve got a different approach planned for our study of 1, 2, & 3 John this Sunday night. As always, we’ll be doing a zoomed-out big-picture summary of these three New Testament books, but as we survey the New Testament, looking at the books in a more summary fashion helps us to see some of the interconnectedness of the Bible as well as the recurring themes.  

As always, be in prayer for:
• Rex and all those who lead the music in our time together.
• Pray that we all come together on Sunday with hearts prepared to engage in intense, focused exaltation of God. 
• Pray that we demonstrate holiness, unity, and love in both our personal lives as well as together as the Body.
• Pray for me as I prepare to preach God’s inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative Word.


Rob