Friday, May 19, 2017

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, May 21

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, May 21
Sermon Text: A Review of Isaiah 40-55

During the past six months we have journeyed through Isaiah 40-55.  Through the prophetic vision of Isaiah we have stood on the mountaintop of God’s sovereignty and seen the glorious plan of God and the finished work of Christ.  When we began this section last November I wrote, “To read the words of Isaiah …. and believe them means you can rest in the confidence that in Christ Jesus God is working in human history to accomplish his gospel plan.  To read the words of Isaiah….. and believe them means that God’s word is sure and it can be trusted.  To read the words of Isaiah ….. and believe them means you can rest in the confidence that his kingdom will come and it will know no end.  To read these words and believe them means you can rest in the confidence that the Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, and eternally blessed are those who trust in him.” 

Last Sunday we heard God’s gracious invitation to,
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourselves in rich food. (Isaiah 55:1-2)

This Sunday we will share in the Lord’s Supper.  The Lord’s Supper is the continuing sign of belonging to God’s people.  The specifics of how it should be served and received are not mentioned in New Testament and are not important.  It is meant to be simple. 

Each time we gather at the Lord’s Table for Communion we take three ‘looks’.  First, we look within ourselves, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin that needs to be repented of, confessed and forgiven (I Cor. 11:27-30, I Jn 1:9).  Second, we look back to the finished work of Christ, his substitutionary death and resurrection ( Lk 22:19-20, I Cor. 11:23-26).  Third, we look ahead to the return of Christ, anticipating his return and the gathering of God’s people at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19: 6-9)

The Gospel is demonstrated in the Lord’s Supper. It is one of the ways you publically testify to your personal relationship with Jesus.  It is not to be taken lightly or casually.  Paul wrote a letter of stern correction to the Christians in Corinth because they were allowing those who were in unrepentant sin to take the Lord’s Supper.  Paul told them that this should not be.

God called us all to repentance in Isaiah 55:
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; 
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way, 
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, t
hat he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, 
for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

The Lord’s Supper is only for sinners.  But it is only for repentant sinners.  As you prepare for worship I encourage you to prayerfully read Isaiah 53, 54 and 55.  Let the prayer of David be yours: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps 51:10)

I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, May 14

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, May 14
Sermon Text: Isaiah 55

“Come”, God says.  We hear it five times in the first three verses! 

In this week’s passage God is inviting you to come receive what you cannot earn.  He is inviting you come and know what it is to have soul satisfied. (55:1-5)  At first sight it sounds strange – buying “without money and without price”.   God’s best is available to us because his Servant ahs already paid the price.  Satisfaction can only be found in what God offers  - provision for our souls in the form of a love that lasts and a place in his kingdom. 

In this week’s passage God is also inviting you to come while you still can, and receive God’s full and free forgiveness. (55:6-8) Here is one of the greatest promises in the Bible: God hears and responds to the humble cry for forgiveness.  He stands ready to generously forgive, and does so when we seek him and cry out to him.  You are not promised tomorrow.  You may not be here this Sunday.  So Isaiah tells us there is a sense of urgency to this call - repentance must be an intense priority for us.  He tells us there is a certainty to this promise.  We will receive God’s generous abounding mercy.  

In Isaiah 55 God is inviting you to take him at his Word, even when you cannot understand it.  “The logic of grace doesn’t compute with us.”  It is both surprising and sustaining.  Like the rain from heaven, God’s Word is life-giving.  Like the rain, God’s Word is:  1) The source of life that comes from beyond us.  We can't control it – we only receive it.  2) The life it brings springs forth from death – it overcomes death.  It waters, saturates, sprouts life and allows the cycle of provision.  3) It fulfills and accomplishes the purposes of God.  The way God works is through his Word.  The way we live is through his Word. 

Finally, Isaiah 55 invites us to come sing with joy, and go out in peace.  (Is 55:12-13)   The chapter concludes with a vision of God’s triumphant grace.  It is a procession of praise involving all of the redeemed – including creation itself.  The effects of the fall are reversed and God is forever glorified through the display of his saving grace.   

As you prepare for worship read Isaiah 55.  I would encourage you to read the extended section (Isaiah 52:13 – Isaiah 55)

Pay especially close attention to Isaiah 55: 6-8. 
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; 
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way, 
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, 
that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

These words are not just for the lost.  All of us struggle with seeking satisfaction in places and from sources that will never suffice.  Ask God to reveal the affections and attractions of your heart that need to be repented of.  He will answer this prayer.  He will have compassion and will forgive.  This is his promise.  This is his unfailing Word. 

“Come” join us this Sunday as we gather for worship, just as we do every Lord’s Day.  Invite someone to come with you.  We will greet one another and extend to each other the hand and hug of fellowship.  We will sing songs & hymns of the faith, songs grounded in the truths of God and the good news of the gospel.  We will pray, both within our small groups and in our large gathering.  And we will read the Word of God and hear it taught.  We do that knowing and trusting that “No one loves the Word of God more than the God whose Word it is, and he, the eternal, almighty, impeccably faithful Lord, has pledged that his Word will never be fruitless, never come back empty handed.” (A. Motyer)

I look forward to seeing your there.  I will be praying for you until then. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, May 7

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, May 7
Sermon Text: Isaiah 54

This Sunday we will hear the prophet Isaiah describe the benefits and blessings that are our because of the what we saw God’s Suffering Servant accomplish in Isaiah 53. 

These blessings and benefits are describes by Isaiah as “the heritage (inheritance) of the servants of the Lord” (Is 54:17).   That inheritance includes the miraculous growth of a family to one who was barren, a family so large the dwelling places have to be expanded.  It includes  a broken marriage restored, compassion conquering abandonment, love overcoming wrath and God eternal covenant of peace to those who had previously been his enemies.  It includes an eternal dwelling place, the city of God, beautifully built on righteousness and eternally secure. 

All of this God accomplished through his Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ.  What does this passage ask of us?  Joyful songs of praise!  “Sing O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud” (Is 54:1).  Our response should be one of songs of praise and faces that reflect the joy of the Lord.  “The test of a church’s faith is not only in the wording to its creed but also in the gladness of its worship.  If we aren’t going to hell anymore, if we stand to inherit every blessing Almighty God can think of, if nothing can stand in the way of our restored humanness because it’s all through the merits of Christ, the friend of sinners – if that can’t make us smile, what can?” (Ray Ortland, Isaiah, God Saves Sinners, p. 364)

As you prepare for this weeks time of worship I encourage you to read Isaiah 53 and 54. 
Then come prepared to obey these words from the Lord:

Sing praises to God, sing praises! 
Sing praises to our King, sing praises! (Ps 46:7

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; 
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; 
tell of his salvation from day to day.  (Ps 96:1-2)

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you,
 O LORD, I will make music. (Ps 101:1)

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; 
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
 tell of all his wondrous works! (Ps 105:1-2)

Sing praises to God and to his name! 
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the LORD— rejoice in his presence! (Ps 68:4)