Friday, May 31, 2013

The Presence and Pleasure of God

And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.


Do you want that? If you want to know the presence and pleasure of the Lord, join us this Lord's Day for worship, as we press further in our quest to know the Lord and make him known.

God Himself Is Present
Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness (#400)
A Debtor to Mercy Alone (#614)
Amazing Grace (#247)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 23:1-22; Psalm 121
New Testament: Luke 13:21-35

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Keeping Covenant and Our Worship - Leviticus 26

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Inviting Judgment

Inviting God's judgment is not a hobby for the faint of heart. But we can't avoid it if we want to see the Lord's salvation. Joe Rigney points out the right questions to ask in the culture wars.

Having done that, we should then begin to alter the sorts of questions that dominate our discussions of what it means to faithfully proclaim the truth. Instead of mainly asking, “How can we speak and live so that the world will listen?”, what if we asked “How can we speak and live so that God will act?” Instead of worrying about being counted worthy of respect in the eyes of the world, what if we labored to be men of whom the world is not worthy, living in such a way that God is not ashamed to be called our God? Instead of mainly pondering how to persuade a godless and passions-enslaved people that sex belongs in monogamous marriage and only monogamous marriage, what if we labored to faithfully and forthrightly declare the word of God concerning his design for sexuality: that marriage is one man, one woman, one lifetime, to display the riches and glory of Christ and his church, until the Great Day that we join in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb?

Read his whole post, "Turning Babel into a Beast."

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Quest of Love

We were created to dream the impossible dream. We are finite creatures created for Infinity. We were made for the knowledge of The Holy One. We were made to know Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is eternal life.

This all-consuming love for God has one crucial correlate - we must love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no real love for God which does not entail love for the real people around us.

Perhaps the apostle Paul was meditating upon our text for this coming Lord's Day when the Spirit moved him to pen the words of Romans 13:8-10: "The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments...are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Join us this Lord's Day to see how you can practically pursue the love of God by loving your neighbor.

Psalm 84
We Gather Together (#709)
Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild (#714)
There Is a Happy Land (#722)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 22:17-33; Psalm 133
New Testament: Luke 13:10-20

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Neighbor Love and Our Worship - Leviticus 19

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pure Love and Our Worship

In Leviticus 18 and 20, the Lord outlawed specific kinds of sexual relations.

Sexual relations...rather a hot topic in our current cultural climate, isn't it? But these texts do nothing to stimulate prurient interest in wickedness. To the pornographic mind, these texts are more like a club over the head than anything else.

At the same time, however, to read these chapters as primarily about prohibiting certain forms of sexual relations is to completely miss what they are driving at. At their heart, these texts are about holy love for the Lord and for our neighbor. Flowing from that holy love is a deep abhorrence for anything which would destroy the life of our neighbor in relationship with the Lord.

At the heart of holiness is love. Loving life means hating that which destroys life. Join us this Lord's Day to learn how to show pure love.

O Father, Thou Whose Love Profound (#29)
Jesus Loves Me (#719)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (#137)
Let Us Love (#483)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 22:1-16; Psalm 50
New Testament: Luke 13:1-9

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Pure Love and Our Worship - Leviticus 18, 20 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Good Reading

Earlier today I pointed you toward a book giveaway, and now I'd like to draw your attention to a couple book recommendations I've posted on the Religious Affections Ministry website. You can find them here.

As always, check RAM's content regularly. In Scott, Kevin, Ryan, and David, you will find some the most thoughtful, gracious, and articulate proponents of conservative worship on the web today.

Book Giveaway

My sister-in-law Amanda is an up-and-coming writer, and right now Money Saving Mom is hosting a 48-hour giveaway of her first book, The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse. Head on over there and enter to win! If you don't win a free copy, you can always purchase one at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc. It is available in a Kindle edition, too.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Eating Blood

That surely sounds like a scandalous topic for a sermon. But if Moses and Jesus preached about it, I think we ought to as well. In fact, to a curious soul, it is an irresistible invitation to investigate the meaning. Why did God strictly forbid eating blood? But then, why did Jesus tell people to eat his blood? And of all things, what would this have to do with dwelling in the presence of the holy Lord? The world is stranger than we thought, but it is also more full of wonder.

Join us this Lord's Day to sup with God.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (#243)
Nothing But the Blood (#240)
To Calvary, Lord, in Spirit Now (#235)
Amazing Grace (#247)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 21:1-24; Psalm 3
New Testament: Luke 12:49-59

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Eating Blood and Our Worship - Leviticus 17

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Reminder

In our current sermon series we have mined a shaft pretty deep into the old covenant laws. When you get that deep in the mountain, there is gold to be found, but it is also easy to forget what the point of all this mining is. So today I'd like to summarize a bit from an early sermon in this series to help us keep it all in perspective.

Jesus' Work and Our Worship

The centerpiece of God’s presence in the world today is found in the church, and our gathered worship is the pinnacle of his presence. The preaching of the Word is more potent than Congress, for God is present and speaking when his word is proclaimed. The songs you sing are more primary than the vote you cast for president. The proper worship of God is much more significant to our health and social well-being than gun control laws or fiscal cliff deals. In short, worship drives culture. Worship directs our work. We need the wisdom to work out our worship into all of life, so that we consistently proclaim Jesus as Lord. We want to make the true God inescapable in our own lives and the lives of those around us. We want men to know that he is the Lord. That is our goal for this series of studies from the Scripture. We want to gather new insights from the Word of God about how to worship God aright, drive that deep into our hearts, and then work it out of our feet and our fingertips. 

Our plan in this series of sermons is to learn from old covenant worship about how we ought to worship in the new covenant. Of course, in order to do this, we need to pay careful attention to the work that Jesus has done. As always, the good news of Jesus is central to our worship and our work. So, we are going to start with the epistle to the Hebrews in the NT, then we are going to go back to the book of Leviticus to give a fully biblical structure to our worship. Once that is done, I believe we will be better prepared to wisely live according to our new covenant relationship with God in our present day. We will study some of this on a very practical level from the book of Proverbs. 

We are like pioneers, clearing ‘new’ ground in order to become productive for the Lord. We want to build a culture of faithfulness, making the church the city of God that it is designed to be, calling the city of man to repent and trust in Jesus as Lord. 

We are going to walk briskly through the central section of Hebrews, and we will see that Jesus’ work transforms our lives into lives of true worship because   
Jesus is a superior priest (4:14-7:28).
Jesus is a superior priest of a superior covenant (8:1-9:28).
Jesus is a superior priest of a superior covenant who offers a superior sacrifice (9:1-10:18).
And so what we see as we round out the book Hebrews is that through Jesus we enjoy living in the presence of God (10:19-25; 12:18-29; 13:7-16). Jesus’ work sets the entire context for our worship, and his work is the reason we work on our worship.Without Jesus’ work, our worship is worthless. We may strive to get the details ever so right, but it cannot bring us to God. But at the same time, precisely because Jesus has worked, we can and must worship God acceptably. We must press into knowing him and making him known, responding to him gloriously as he reveals himself powerfully in our midst. Because he is our great high priest, mediating the new covenant, having offered the perfect sacrifice for sins, we are enabled to participate with him in the life of God.

You might be thinking, “Does it really matter all that much how we worship? Why do we keep working on it?” If we see it only as ‘getting it right,’ then working on how we worship isn’t all that much benefit to us nor is it a blessing to God. That is, if we see it in legalistic terms, then we might as well just forget about it and go with the flow of the culture. But if we see it rightly as pressing into full participation with Christ by his Spirit, then it will be a fountainhead of glory to God. It will lead to cultural and personal renewal, for Jesus will be exalted as the saving Lord as we worship him in spirit and truth. Jesus’ work transforms our lives into lives of true worship. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Virtue, Character, Purity, and Worship

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Jesus (Matthew 15:18)

It may be that no other words of Jesus are as crucial to our worship at this time in history as these words.

If we want to offer to God acceptable worship, we must offer what is both holy and clean, not what is common, and never what is unclean. Now that Jesus has come and achieved his glorious cross-work, these distinctions no longer have to do with kinds of animals or our bodily reproductive cycles. All of those old creation distinctions were merely shadows of the substance that has now come.

In the new age brought by Jesus, the distinctions still apply, but now in a way not possible before they are taken up into our very being. We become living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit works out into everything we do. In other words, if we are to give to God acceptable worship, our character must be shaped to image Jesus Christ. Yet in a kind of feedback loop, our worship shapes our character. The shape of our heart is the issue, and thus everything we do matters.We will either work out of our hearts the worship of the holy triune Lord, or we will work out systems of defiling idolatry.

Do we have the virtue to act in ways which are fitting to the holiness of our God? Do we love what is good and have the skill to discern it? Join us this Lord's Day as we continue to be shaped by the Holy Spirit's discussion of the cleanness laws in Leviticus.

Holy, Holy, Holy (#3)
Take My Life, and Let It Be (#560)
Am I a Soldier of the Cross? (#585)
How Glorious Zion's Courts Appear (#631)

Scripture Reading
Old Testament: Leviticus 20:10-27; Psalm 93
New Testament: Luke 12:35-48

Worship, Wisdom, and Work Series: Holy vs. Unclean Worship Today - Matthew 15:18