Thursday, June 22, 2017

Looking at our Assurance (yes again!!)

Preparing Your Heart for Worship - June 25, 2017

As we continue our series titled “The Great Hymn of Assurance,” we’ll be singing some of the great hymns of our faith and celebrating the security we have in Christ. 

Victory In Jesus

It is because of the victory that Jesus won on the cross that we are saved. As the lyrics so beautifully put it - “He sought me and bought me with His redeeming love.” I’m so thankful for His great work on my behalf. What a joy it always is as we sing this song together! 

Blessed Assurance

Oh what a foretaste of glory divine! When we sing together, we get a glimpse of what it will be like when we gather before the Throne in Heaven. The weight of eternal glory far outweighs the difficulties we face in our daily lives. Christ alone is our rock and our salvation. We are heirs of salvation!  

Prayer of Praise
Remember that as we are led in prayer, we are coming before the Father TOGETHER! And at the conclusion of the prayer, when we all say “Amen!” together it is a beautiful indicator of our unity in Christ. 

Worship through Giving
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.  
As we take up the offering this Sunday, we’ll begin learning a new song titled “Glorious Christ.” This song is a beautiful expression of who He is. You can listen to the song on the Spotify playlist or watch/listen on YouTube. 

Meditating on God’s Word
We’ll hear directly from God as His Word is read. God desires for us to simply hear His Word read when we gather for worship. Let this element of our worship gathering do as the old hymn says “tune my heart to sing Thy praise.” 

Pastoral Prayer of Petition
What a joy and privilege it is to not just pray for you throughout the week, but to come before the Lord, on behalf of the assembled Body, and pray. I’m truly honored and humbled to be your pastor. I love praying for our church in our worship gathering!

The Solid Rock

At the beginning of the sermon last week, we sang just a few lines from this song. We’ll be singing the entire song together this Sunday reminding us that our salvation is built on what Christ has done, not on anything we might do.  It really is who Christ is and what He has done that provides the rock solid foundation for our hope. As we’ll see in verse 31 this coming Sunday, verses 29-30 are the foundation for our hope. It is because God knows us that we can sing of our great assurance. 

It Is Well with My Soul

Pointing back to verse 28 (“all things work together”) and verse 18 (“the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with [heaven]”) we can have a right perspective in the midst of any trials or difficulties in life. Verse 3 has a great phrase reminding me that all of my confidence lies in His personal, intimate knowledge of me: That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood For my soul. Wow! - He did this for ME!

Sermon: The Great Hymn of Assurance, part 2 - Romans 8:30-39
As we near our conclusion of Romans 8, Paul wraps up this great chapter by taking everything he’s said since verse 1 and summarizing it in to what really is an awesome crescendo of assurance. I know we’ve been talking about security and assurance for weeks now - but how can we ever tire of hearing that, as verse 31 says - God is for us - and what hope does anyone or anything that stands against us have? And yes - I LOVE rhetorical questions. 

He Will Hold Me Fast

We’ve sung this song together several times this year - I could sing it every week. What a beautiful reminder of our security this song always is. And my security is not based on my ability to remain true to God or the strength of my own faith. My security comes because HE holds ME!! I’ll be looking forward to singing this song with my church family all weekend!

Galatians
Sunday Nights @ Fellowship returns this week and we’ll be walking through Galatians. If you have a chance to sit down and read through this entire letter in one sitting, it would really help you be prepared for our study this Sunday night. 

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 Mike Walker as he prepares to teach us Galatians Sunday night. 
• Pray for me as I prepare to preach God’s inerrant Word!

I’m truly looking forward, as I do each week, to our time together as the Body. What a joy and privilege is it to be able to gather together as brothers and sisters in Christ and exalt our Lord together. 


Rob

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Our Awesome Assurance in Christ!


Preparing Your Heart for Worship - June 4, 2017

One of the main points in last week’s message (you can watch it here if you weren’t able to be with us) was that everything that happens in our lives, whether we would call it “good” or “bad,” is going to be used by God for our ultimate good. We might not always understand it, but we can be confident that God is in control and that He is working for His glory and our good.

Blessed Be Your Name

The book of Job is usually considered to be the first book written in the Old Testament. I find it very encouraging that, from the beginning, we’re taught how to deal with the trials and struggles of life. This song, inspired by Job 1:21 is a beautiful way to begin our time of worshiping the Lord. We all face difficulty and suffering in our lives, we’ll begin our time together declaring that we will worship God in the midst of whatever we are going through. 

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)

There truly are far more than 10,000 reasons to worship God. The blessings that He pours out on us on a daily basis - every day - every time the sun comes up - give us reason after reason after reason to worship Him. The song says, “For all Your goodness I will keep on singing. Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.” God is good. All the time. 


Prayer of Praise
Even though there is one person leading us in this prayer, we can all join in as he’s praying. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to praise the Lord together, quietly, as we’re led into the throneroom. Remember: our hearty “AMEN!” at the end of the prayer is how we, collectively, say, “I agree!!!” 

Worship through Giving
We should never forget that giving of not just our time and talents, but also of our resources is an act of worship. Whether you give weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly - use this time to meditate on all that God has blessed you with resource-wise and your commitment to give back to him. 

Meditating on God’s Word
We’ll hear directly from God as His Word is read. God desires for us to simply hear His Word read when we gather for worship. Let this element of our worship gathering do as the old hymn says “tune my heart to sing Thy praise.” 

Pastoral Prayer of Petition
What a joy and privilege it is to not just pray for you throughout the week, but to come before the Lord, on behalf of the assembled Body, and pray. I’m truly honored and humbled to be your pastor. I love praying for our church in our worship gathering!

How Firm a Foundation

Again, this song lays out God’s Word as the foundation for our assurance. Whether sickness, health, poverty, wealth, at home, abroad, short days, or long days, we look to God’s Word for it is in His excellent Word that we find the foundation of our faith. God has spoken! What a joy to sing about this.  

Blessed Assurance

Since this song provided the title for the message this week, how can we not sing it?  “Watching and waiting looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love.” What a beautiful expression of our attitude - always looking toward heaven! (the video is a fun bluegrass version of the song - not how we'll do it on Sunday, LOL!)

Sermon: Blessed Assurance, part 2 - Romans 8:28-30
While verse 28 tells us that no matter what we’re going through, God is right in the middle of it - working it for our ultimate good, the next two verses show us both the purpose of our salvation (sanctification) and the progress of our salvation (based on God’s choosing us and reaching it’s fullness in our glorification). Again, what a blessing to see God’s faithfulness in working not just the details of our lives, but the entire timeline of history to our good and His glory. 
As you prepare for our time together, Read through Romans 8:18-30 several times this week and, looking at verses 29-30, think through these questions:
• What does it mean to be “conformed to the image of His Son?”
• What are the five primary terms that stand out in these two verses?
• What is the meaning of each of these words?
• The word “glorified” is a past tense word used for a future event. Why is that? 
• Ultimately, what does these verses teach us about our hope/assurance in Christ?

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be
What a deep and abiding comfort this is!

Is Genesis History

Don’t forget that we’ll be watching the film “Is Genesis History” for two consecutive Sundays, June 4 and June 11 in our evening service. This film will equip you to not only understand the truth of a literal six day creation, but help you to defend the truth of Genesis in a culture that desperately wants to deny 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 inerrant Word!

I’m truly looking forward, as I do each week, to our time together as the Body. What a joy and privilege is it to be able to gather together as brothers and sisters in Christ and exalt our Lord together. 

Rob

P.S. - In the next couple of weeks, we'll be learning a new song. This song has some amazing lyrics that extol the awesomeness of Christ in a great way - I'm really looking forward to singing this song together as a family. If you have a few minutes, listen to it a time or two ahead of time:


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Beauty of the Gospel!

Note: if you only have a few minutes, scroll down to **This weeks Message** for a guide to thinking through the passage I'll be preaching on this coming Sunday. If you've got a few minutes, read through the entire post and listen to the songs we'll be singing.

The Beauty of the Gospel
God, who created everything. 
Who is holy, and righteous and good and unimaginably awesome
He created me in His image to know Him and glorify Him. 
But I sinned - and sinned greatly against Him
From the very beginning my heart was desperately wicked
I was not righteous
I did not seek God, but I sought myself
I did not do any good. I rebelled against Him. I rejected Him.
I sinned greatly...
But even in the midst of my complete and utter depravity, 
HE. SAVED. ME. 
God showed His love for me in sending Jesus Christ, His Son
who became a man, 
lived a perfect life, and 
suffered and died on the cross on my behalf.
He endured the punishment that I deserved.
He became sin so that I could become righteous
And He did it to bring me to God
He was condemned so that I would receive NO condemnation.
None of this was my own doing - God did it all. 
He forgave me
He adopted me
And He freed me from slavery to sin
He gave me the Holy Spirit
who pours out God’s love in my heart
and gently, but firmly leads me toward holiness
God did all of this so that when I repented of my sins and believed in Him - when I trusted in, relied on, and clung to what He did on the cross, I became a fellow participant of the Victory that Jesus won on the cross.
When I turn to Him, when I cling to Him, His Amazing grace not only saves me, but also carries me through all the struggles of life and He leads me all the way home to Heaven. 
As we look again at Romans 8 this Sunday morning, there’s no better introduction to the passage than to simply meditate on who Christ is and what He has done for us. Every Sunday, I really look forward to gathering with my church family to celebrate the Gospel (and the resurrection is an indispensable part of it - so we gather to celebrate the resurrection every week, not just once a year - how exciting that prospect should be to us weekly).

It is because of His finished work on the cross that we do not stand condemned. We truly deserve not only to be declared guilty, but also condemned to eternal punishment. We have not only been released from the penalty of our sin, but also declared NOT guilty and clothed with the righteousness of Christ. What a joy that is!

As you think toward our time gathered together this coming Sunday, here are the songs we’ll be singing along with some thoughts and suggestions to help you make the most of our time together. 

As we begin our time together

We’ll begin by singing May the People’s Praise You. This song is a fantastic way to begin our time together as we gather to “sing the wonders of the risen Christ.” As one of the verses says - “this is our holy privilege to declare Your praises and Your name.” How true that is. We have the PRIVILEGE of gathering together to sing praises to the One who died to redeem us from our sinfulness! WOW!


Next, we’ll sing Holy, Holy, Holy - remember how this song was, for so many years, the first song in the hymnal? There’s a reason for that. This classic hymn is a wonderful reminder of so many elements of worship. From a reminder of the Trinity, to a picture of the throne room in heaven, to declaring the awesome works and holiness of God - I can’t wait to sing this with everyone!

After our Prayer of Praise, the choir will lead us in one of their favorite songs: Yahweh! This song tells the story of Jesus from His birth all the way to His return. What a great reminder this song is!
After Meditating on God’s Word through both the Fighter Verse and our Scripture Reading, we’ll worship through giving, and then sing again. 


We’ll sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing - I love the opening of this song:
     Come Thou fount of ev’ry blessing
     Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
     Streams of mercy never ceasing
     Call for songs of loudest praise
God speaks to us through His Word, we speak back to Him through our prayers and songs, so when we sing “tune my heart to sing thy Grace” we’re asking the Lord to help us to focus on Him and praise Him for His unending grace and mercy. Wow! That most certainly calls for songs of loudest praise - we should be singing LOUD when we gather for worship!


The song Speak O Lord is such a wonderful song/prayer and what a beautiful request we’re making of the Lord - we desire to hear what He would say to us through His Word. Since the preaching of God’s Word is the central act of Christian Worship, this really should be our prayer every time we gather. His Word truly is food to our souls. We must come and receive it regularly. We desire to be shaped and fashioned into His likeness. As we sing this song, let this be the prayer of your heart as you prepare to hear from Him through His Word. 

**This weeks Message** picks up where we left off last week and looks specifically at Romans 8:3-4. This is where the “No Condemnation” declaration becomes intensely practical as we walk according to the Spirit. True salvation always results in sanctification.
As you prepare your heart this week, read
Romans 7:14-8:11 several times.  
Think through these questions:
• What has God done? Specifically, in your life, what has He done?
• What does “weakened by the flesh” mean? How would you explain this phrase to someone unfamiliar with the gospel?
• Read Hebrews 4:15 - how does that inform your understanding of the phrase in the likeness of sinful flesh?”
• What do you think is meant by “the righteous requirement of the law?” What attributes of God might be the basis for the moral law? How are the 10 Commandments a reflection of God’s holiness?
• Is the second half of verse 4, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit a command, correction, or a statement of fact? 
• Since the term “walk” refers to lifestyle, habits of living, and how we think - think through your own “walk” and ask, “does it reflect walking according to the flesh, or to the Spirit?”


After the message, in our “Responding to God’s Word” time, we’ll sing the song Trust and Obey together. What a great expression of what it looks like to live a life of faithful obedience to the Lord! I love the final verse:
     Then in fellowship sweet
     We will sit at His feet
     Or we'll walk by His side in the way
     What He says we will do
     Where He sends we will go
     Never fear only trust and obey

As always, I covet your prayers as I prepare to preach God’s Word this Sunday. Rex and all the others who will be leading in the service do as well. 

Also be in prayer for yourself and others in our body that we would all come on Sunday morning prepared to engage in intense, focused, exaltation of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Rob

Thursday, April 13, 2017

CELEBRATE the Risen CHRIST!

Preparing Your Heart for Worship - April 9, 2017

Sunday is always the highlight of my week, and this week is no different. As we intensify our focus on the resurrection of Christ this Sunday - we should continually be in awe of His glory, and always increasing in our attitude of thanksgiving to Him in whom we live and move and have our being!

Victory In Jesus

I heard an old, old story - how a Savior came from glory. How He gave His life on calvary to save a wretch like me. He won the victory on the cross on my behalf. He is my Savior FOREVER! HE bought me with His blood. As we gather to celebrate the RISEN Savior, these words so perfectly celebrate what He has accomplished on our behalf!! (I can’t wait to sing this song with everyone!!!!!!! No. Really!!!!!!)

Come People of the Risen King

Psalm 96 tells us to sing to the Lord - declare HIS glory among the nations. As we continue to worship - we can delight in praising His glorious name! 
Rejoice rejoice let ev'ry tongue rejoice
One heart one voice
O Church of Christ rejoice!!!
What a joy and privilege it is each week to join together as God’s people and lift our hearts in one voice to worship Him!

Prayer of Praise
As we continue to celebrate our Risen Lord, we’ll turn our hearts toward Him in prayer. We’ll join our hearts together in prayer – praising Him for His goodness, grace, and mercy toward us. 

See What a Morning

What a wonderful musical our choir presented to us last Sunday evening helping to prepare our hearts for this Sunday. They’ll sing the song “See What a Morning” from the musical. I love this from the song:
As the angels announce, “Christ is risen!” 
See God’s salvation plan, 
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice, 
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man, 
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead! 
This song truly excites us to the truth that Christ is risen!! What a wonderful reminder this song is that on that morning history was changed forever. The third verse is a response of praise as we realize the amazing consequence of Christ's resurrection for our lives, drawing us into relationship with the triune God.

Meditating on God’s Word
We’ll hear directly from God as His Word is read. God desires for us to simply hear His Word read when we gather for worship. Let this element of our worship gathering do as the old hymn says “tune my heart to sing Thy praise.” 

Worship through Giving & Behold the Man
Even our giving back to the Lord is an act of worship. As we participate in this, we’ll again have our thoughts turned toward the true reason that we give back to Him - we give in recognition and response to all He did in accomplishing our redemption. As the song says:
it was for our sins He died
for su the Son of God was crucified
in love He bore our sorrow and pain
in love He willingly suffered. 
He did all of this for us! How can we not respond by bringing Him our entire lives, every detail, as an act of worship?

Stronger

This song is a fantastic summary of our reason for gathering together - not just on Resurrection Sunday, but every week. We celebrate His love, the cross, and the fact that He broke our shame and our sinfulness when He rose. He is stronger. Stronger than what? Stronger than who? Well, to begin with - stronger than death. And yes, you can fill in that blank with anything. No matter what, Jesus has demonstrated that He is stronger. 

In Christ Alone

This is another one of those songs that we could sing every single week. This modern hymn is such a beautiful expression of the gospel. It is only in the stronger power of Christ that we stand. 

Sermon: Romans 8:1-11
It’s so amazing to see God working things to His glory. God planned things so that we would come to Romans 8 this Sunday. I can’t think of a better passage to study this Sunday than the majestic beauty of Romans 8. As you prepare for our time together this Sunday, read through Romans 7:14-8:11 a couple of times. 

Amazing Grace

There’s not really much to say here, right? This is probably one of the best, most loved hymns of all time. The reason everyone universally loves this hymn is because of the lyrics. Click here to see the lyrics (not that you need it - you know this song, right?)

Victory In Jesus
We’ll close our time together as we opened. Singing about the victory that Christ won on our behalf!

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.

As always, I’m so excited as I think toward our time together celebrating the Risen Christ this Sunday!!!


Rob

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Preparing Your Heart for Worship - April 9, 2017

So the past couple of weeks have been busier than normal (or maybe busy just is normal) and I haven’t done this blog - we’re back today and I pray that you come tomorrow morning with your heart prepared to pursue intense, focused exaltation of God, As we’re back in Romans, and even preparing for both the Lord’s Table in the morning as well as Resurrection Sunday next week, tomorrow promises to be a great Lord’s Day Worship Gathering.  

It’s truly been a joy to worship together during this time of looking deeper into who we are as a church and all that God has laid out in His Word to guide us in how we are to worship Him in our time together. 

We’re beginning our time this week singing the song “Come, Now is the Time to Worship”

Hosannah (Praise Is Rising)

It’s always such a blessing when our children are involved in the service. The energy they bring is fantastic. As we begin our time together this week, we’ll sing about our praises rising to the Lord and turning our hearts to Him. What a great song to sing together!

Prayer of Praise
What a joy it is to join together in prayer as we’re led by someone in praise to our great God. 

Meditating on God’s Word
As we look to God’s Word to hear from Him, our Scripture Reading will be from 2 Peter 1:3-11. It’s a great reminder of the need to strive toward spiritual growth in some very specific ways. 

Worship through Giving
As we worship the Lord through giving back to Him from the abundant resources He has given us stewardship over, take time to meditate on the many blessings He has poured out on you. Read James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.


The Solid Rock

Just the opening phrase of this song is such a wonderful reminder of the fact that Christ has accomplished our redemption. Even in our sanctification, we should always look to Christ for everything. He not only saved us, but He also graciously maintains our salvation. (This version is a little different, but I love it)

He Will Hold Me Fast

Ever since I first heard this song a couple of years ago, it’s been such a wonderful expression of the security of my salvation in Him. The sinful “flesh suit” that I live in will often distract me, and even occasionally win the battle, but no matter how much my strength wavers - Christ will hold me fast!

Sermon: The Struggle Is Real, part 2
As we’re back in Romans, we’ll look at the struggle every mature believer faces in the daily battle against sin. There really is only one solution. Read Romans 7:14-25 a couple of times in preparation for our time digging into God’s Word. 

Let Me Be

We’ll conclude our study of God’s Word a little differently tomorrow. Instead of singing a song, then spending time in contemplation, we’re going to watch a video/prayer/meditation as we think through how to respond to what God is saying to us in Romans 7:14-25.  (this isn't the video we're watching in the morning  - pay attention to the lyrics, not the video - it's the only one I could find.)

The Lord’s Table
We’ll conclude our gathering by coming to the Lord’s Table to celebrate the Gospel. In preparation, we’ll sing This is Our Freedom, a wonderful song that turns our thoughts to this ordinance given to us by Christ. We’ll also sing Nothing But the Blood, a beautiful song written in 1876 that expresses our reliance on the sacrifice of Christ as what we place our hope in. I could sing this song every week!!

Wonderful, Merciful Savior

While this song was only written a few years ago (1989), it’s a beautiful expression of adoring our Savior. As we conclude our time together - what a great song to sing celebrating the both attributes of God and what He has done for us.. I love the chorus:
You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Healing and grace is exactly what God has done in our hearts. And he continues to pour out His grace continually. What a wonderful merciful God we serve! What a joy and privilege it is to gather to worship Him!!!



Don’t forget to come back at 6:00 for “The Risen Christ” - a celebration of the resurrection of Christ presented by our music ministry. 

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 finish preparing to preach tomorrow.

As always, I can’t wait to gather with y’all this Sunday and celebrate our great God!


Rob