Preparing For Worship

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It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. The last seven weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for seven weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, God’s power, God’s patience, God’s grace, God’s holiness, and God’s faithfulness. This week I want to focus on the immutability of God.

A.W. Pink writes that God’s immutability: “Is One of the divine perfections which is not sufficiently pondered. It is one of the excellencies of the Creator which distinguishes Him from all His creatures. God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations. Therefore God is compared to a rock (Deut. 32:4) which remains immovable, when the entire ocean surrounding it is continually in a fluctuating state. Even so, though all creatures are subject to change, God is immutable. Because God has no beginning and no ending, He can know no change. He is everlastingly “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

John MacArthur writes this on God’s immutability:

“The Bible repeatedly and unapologetically underscores the fact that God does not change. In fact, He cannot change because He cannot improve on absolute perfection or decline in His eternally fixed nature. His person does not change: “‘For I the Lord do not change’” (Mal. 3:6). His plans do not change: “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11). His purpose does not change: “So when God desired to show more convincingly … the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath” (Heb. 6:17). God does not change His mind: “‘The Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret’” (1 Sam. 15:29); or His words: “The Holy One of Israel … does not call back his words” (Isa. 31:1-2); or His calling: “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29; cf. Heb. 13:8; James 1:17). There are absolutely no changes in God, no variations, and no surprises (cf. Ps. 102:27).

God does not increase or decrease. He does not improve or decline. He does not change due to some altered circumstances—there are no unforeseen emergencies to the One who is eternally all-knowing. His eternal purposes stand forever because He stands forever (Ps. 33:11). He does not react, He only acts—and He does so however He pleases (Ps. 115:3)….

God cannot change, His Word cannot change, and His purpose cannot change. His truth is the same because He is the Truth (cf. Ps. 119:160; John 17:17; Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18)…the Bible presents God as the all-knowing Sovereign of all events, past, present, and future. In the words of Isaiah 46:9b-10:

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

When I think about God’s immutability I think about Hebrews 13:8 which says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” So, what are some practical applications of God’s immutability. I think just like the other attributes of God we are reminded again as A.W. Pink writes of:”the infinite distance which separates the highest creature from the Creator.” Pink goes on to saw that: “We are entirely dependent on the Creator for every breath we draw…The realization of this ought to make us lie down under a sense of our own nothingness in the presence of Him “in whom we live and move, and have our being.”

I think another implication is that we should remember that we as human beings are mutable and inconstant, but God is not. A.W. Pink is so helpful here when he says: “However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will stable, His word is sure. Here then is a rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent sweeps away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee” (Isa. 54:10).

As we prepare our hearts for worship we should spend time in prayer for ourselves and for the service tomorrow. We should pray for Nathan and Elizabeth Long who will lead us in worship tomorrow. Let’s be sure to pray for Allen as he leads us in a time of confession. Let’s also be sure to pray for Mark as he will open up God’s Word to us. Mark will be looking at Galatians 1 again. The link to the ESV text is below.

Galatians 1

 

 

Preparing For Worship

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It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. The last six weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for six weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, God’s power, God’s patience, God’s grace, and God’s holiness. This week I want to focus on the faithfulness of God.

Before thinking about the faithfulness of God let’s start by thinking about our own unfaithfulness to God. A.W. Pink says: “in how many ways have we been unfaithful to Christ, and to the light and privileges which God has entrusted to us!” James Boice says: “Without a knowledge of our unfaithfulness and rebellion we will never come to know God as the God of truth and grace.”

So, here are some verses on the faithfulness of God:

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”-Psalm 36:5  (A.W. Pink says this about this verse: “Far above all finite comprehension is the unchanging faithfulness of God.”)

“Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.”-Psalm 119:90

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”-2nd Thessalonians 3:3

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”-Psalm 91:4

 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”-Hebrews 10:23  (William Hendriksen commenting on this verse says: “Because God is faithful, His promises are infallibly reliable.”)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,”-Deuteronomy 7:9

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”-Lamentations 3:22-23

Charles Spurgeon commenting on the great faithfulness of God mentioned in Lamentations 3 says:

“So great that there has never been an exception. Through the ages, our God has had billions of people to deal with. Yet there does not stand under heaven’s cover, or above the stars, or in hell itself a single soul who can say that God is not absolutely faithful. No item in the list of our divine promises is unfulfilled. God remembers every promise that He ever made, and He honors each in the experience of those who believe in Him. They who trust in the Lord will find Him faithful, not only in great things, but also in little things. His faintest word will stand firm and steadfast. His least truth will never grow dim. The glory of God’s faithfulness is that no sin of ours has ever made Him unfaithful. Unbelief is a damning thing, yet even when we do not believe, God is faithful. His children might rebel. They might wander far from His statutes and be chastened with many stripes. Nevertheless, He says,

My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips” (Psalm. 89:33–34).

God’s saints may fall under the cloud of His displeasure and provoke the Most High by their transgressions, still He will have compassion on them. He says,

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” ( Isaiah 43:25 ).

Thus, no sin of ours can make God unfaithful.”

Implications of God’s Faithfulness

What are some practical implications of God’s faithfulness? We should rest on the faithfulness of God like Paul did when he said: “for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12) When we are fully persuaded of God’s love and faithfulness we should “trustfully resign ourselves, and all our affairs into God’s hands” as A.W. Pink says. Hudson Taylor says that we should: “Hold on to the faithfulness of God.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones expands on that when he says: “Faith is holding on to the faithfulness of God and, as long as you do that, you cannot go wrong. Faith does not look at the difficulties. . . . Faith does not look at itself or at the person who is exercising it. Faith looks at God . . . . Faith is interested in God only, and it talks about God and it praises God and it extols the virtues of God.”

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 “so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Just in passing I will mention the word guiltless that Paul uses in verse 8 above. That word moves me almost every time I read this passage. How on earth can we who are so guilty be guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ? I will let Charles Spurgeon answer: “The man may have been everything that was bad before he believed in Jesus, but as soon as he trusted Christ, the merits of Christ became his merits, and he stands before God as though he were perfect, “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,” through the righteousness of Christ.” Amazing!

Back to the faithfulness of God. Paul says “God is faithful, by whom you were called…” John Piper says: “In other words, the assurance of the believer is not that God will save him even if he stops believing, but that God will keep him believing—God will sustain you in faith, he will make your hope firm and stable to the end. He will cause you to persevere…What is at stake in our perseverance is God’s purpose of election (Romans 9:11). That’s why his faithfulness is at stake. If God has chosen us for himself (Ephesians 1:4), if he has destined us for glory (1 Corinthians 2:7), then his faithfulness commits him to keep us in the faith. For outside the faith there is no fellowship with God and no glory.”

Lastly, Piper says: “So I close this morning by urging you to understand yourself in relation to God. When you look back, know yourself as called by God. When you look forward, know yourself kept by God. What happened to make you a Christian is the call of God. What will happen to keep you a Christian is the faithfulness of God. Know who you are!! Called by God! Kept by God!”

Let’s be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Ethan as they lead us in worship. Let’s be sure to pray for Jerry as he leads us in our time of confession. Let’s also pray for Mark as he will open up God’s Word to us. Mark will be looking at Galatians 1 tomorrow. The link to the ESV text is below.

Galatians 1

Special thanks to Haley Steptoe for the picture that I used at the top of this post.

Preparing For Worship

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It is once again time to prepare for worship. The last five weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for five weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, God’s power, God’s patience, and God’s grace. This week I want to focus on the holiness of God.

Let me just start by mentioning several verses on the holiness of God:

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”-Exodus 15:11

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”-Isaiah 57:15

I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.”-Isaiah 43:15

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”-Isaiah 40:25

God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.”-Psalm 47:8

Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!”-Psalm 99:5

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;the whole earth is full of his glory!”-Isaiah 6:1-3

R.C. Sproul says this about Isaiah 6: “Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.”

In Isaiah 6:5 after Isaiah gets a vision of the absolute holiness of God, he pronounces a judgement on himself and says: “So I said: Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”

R.C. Sproul says that Isaiah: “was a together type of a fellow. He was considered by his contemporaries as the most righteous man in the nation. He was respected as a paragon of virtue. Then he caught one sudden glimpse of a Holy God. In that single moment all of his self-esteem was shattered. In a brief second he was exposed, made naked beneath the gaze of the absolute standard of holiness. As long as Isaiah could compare himself to other mortals, he was able to sustain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed―morally and spiritually annihilated. He was undone. He came apart…He saw the holiness of God. For the first time in his life Isaiah really understood who God was. At the same instant, for the first time Isaiah really understood who Isaiah was.”

A.W. Pink says that: “God only is independently, infinitely, immutably holy. In Scripture he is frequently styled ‘The Holy One”: He is so because the sum of all moral excellency is found in him. He is absolute Purity, unsullied even by the shadow of sin. ‘God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). Holiness is the very excellency of the Divine nature: the great God is ‘glorious in holiness’ (Exodus 15:11).

A.W. Pink goes on to say that if we really want to see something of God’s holiness we should go to the cross. “God’s holiness is manifest at the Cross. Wondrously and yet most solemnly does the Atonement display God’s infinite holiness and abhorrence of sin. How hateful must sin be to God for Him to punish it to its utmost deserts when it was imputed to His Son!”

Stephen Charnock says it powerfully: “When God had turned His smiling face from Jesus, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which forced that terrible cry from Him, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He adores this perfection—”Thou art holy,”

Implications of the holiness of God

What are some practical implications of God’s holiness? One thing is that we should approach Him with reverence. A.W. Pink says: “Because God is holy the utmost reverence becomes our approaches unto Him.” Psalm 89:6-7 says: “For who in the skies can be compared to the LordWho among the heavenly beings is like the Lorda God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?”

I would say another practical implication of the holiness of God is that apart from the shed blood of Jesus covering us we are utterly ruined and undone! We have committed cosmic treason against a holy, holy, holy God every day of our lives. How on earth could such a God allow us into His presence? As Voddie Baucham has said: “Look me in my eyes and ask me this: “How on earth can a holy and righteous God know what I did and thought and said yesterday and not kill me in my sleep last night?”

Then Voddie reminds us of the gospel: “But in the merciful providence of God there came a day when God the Father crushed and killed his one and only Son in our stead in order to satisfy his wrath, “so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26 ESV). Was that enough for the sins of Adam, Abraham, and Moses? Can you hear the rhetorical questions from Calvary? Was that enough for your sin? Was that enough for you to recognize the supremacy of Christ in truth as it relates to redemption? There was nothing else that could have been done that would have allowed God to be both just and justifier. But in the humiliation and exaltation of Jesus Christ we find a resolution to the question, “How can what is wrong be made right?” Listen as the hymn writers proclaim:

‘What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.’

And:

‘There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.’

How can what is wrong be made right? The spotless, sinless Lamb of God was crushed, rejected, and killed to pay a debt that he did not owe on behalf of sinners who could never pay him back.”

Let’s be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Molly as they will lead us in worship. If you could pray for me as I will be doing the time of confession I would appreciate it. Also, let’s be sure to pray for Mark as he will open up God’s Word to us. Mark will be looking at Galatians 1:1-5 this week. The link to the ESV text of chapter 1 is below:

Galatians 1

Preparing For Worship

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It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. Tomorrow we have the privilege of celebrating Communion as a church.  Joni Eareckson Tada said: “Sometimes I know that I come to Communion unprepared, not paying attention to the housecleaning that my heart needs.” Paul says in 1st Corinthians 11:28: “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.” So, as we prepare for worship let’s be sure to do some housecleaning on our hearts and let’s be sure to examine ourselves before we come to the Lord’s table tomorrow.

The last 4 weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for four weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, God’s power, and God’s patience. This week I want to focus on the grace of God.

A.W. Tozer writes that: “grace is an incomprehensibly immense and overwhelming plenitude of kindness and goodness. If we could only remember it, we wouldn’t have to be played with and entertained so much. If we could only remember the grace of God toward us who have nothing but demerit, we would be overwhelmed by this incomprehensibly immense attribute, so vast, so huge, that nobody can ever grasp it or hope to understand it.”

A.W. Pink said that: “Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in bestowing blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded. Nay, more; it is the favor of God to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but also who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed.

Grace cannot be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is said to be of “grace” we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it, that it was in no wise due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.”

God’s grace should continually stun us. We should be constantly amazed by His amazing grace towards us, but often times we are not stunned by His grace. Sinclair Ferguson helps us understand why we often times fail to find God’s grace amazing. He writes: “There are many reasons, but usually they involve three things. First, we have such a low sense of the holiness of God and we are insensitive to the sheer intensity of it. To whatever extent our sense of God’s holiness is diminished, to that extent our sense of amazement at God’s grace will be diminished. Second, we adopt superficial views of our sinfulness and too often guard against the ministry of the Word and Spirit exposing it. Jesus said that it is those who are much forgiven who love much. The reason is that those who are most conscious of their sin become most conscious of their need of grace, and therefore most aware of the wonders of grace. Third, we think too little of the costliness of grace. It comes freely to us because it was so expensive to Christ to satisfy the justice of God on our behalf.”

So, as we prepare for worship let’s think about the holiness of God and the sheer intensity of it. Maybe we need to spend time reading through Isaiah 6. We should also think of the costliness of grace. We should spend time reflecting on what it cost Jesus to satisfy the justice of God on our behalf. As A.W. Tozer said: “If I want to know this immeasurable grace, this overwhelming, astounding kindness of God, I have to step under that shadow of the cross. I must come where God releases grace…I must look…to that cross where Jesus died. Grace flowed out of His wounded side. The grace that flowed there saved Abel―and that same grace saves you. ‘No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). And Peter said, ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).”

Tozer ends his chapter on God’s grace with a wonderful little prayer. He says: “Father, we pray for all of us, that You will sweep away our self-righteousness, even any little, ragged traces of self-righteousness that may be left. Save us from ourselves. Let grace abound from Calvary, and teach us that it is not by grace and something else, but by grace alone, Thy goodness, Thy kindness in Christ Jesus. This we ask in the name of the Lord who loves us. Amen.”

Let’s be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Ethan as they lead us in worship tomorrow. Let’s also pray for Jerry as he will lead us in a time of confession tomorrow. Let’s also pray for Mark as he will be opening up God’s Word to us. We will be starting our study of the book of Galatians. Mark will be preaching on Galatians 1:1-5. The link to the ESV text of chapter 1 of Galatians is below.

Galatians 1

Picture of Symmes Chapel in South Carolina from here

Preparing For Worship

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It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. This Sunday will be our last sermon in the book of Genesis. The last three weeks we have considered this quote from Ligon Duncan: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, for three weeks in a row we have looked at a different attribute of God. We have looked at God’s immensity, God’s omniscience, and God’s power. This week I want to focus on the patience of God.

Here are several verses on the patience of God: Psalm 145:8 tells us: “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8 -“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Exodus 34:6 -“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” Psalm 86:15 -“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Joel 2:13 -“and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and he relents over disaster.” A.W. Pink said: “Certainly we lose much if we do not frequently meditate upon the patience of God…”

So, as we prepare our hearts for worship today and tomorrow let’s all spend some time thinking about God’s patience. Specifically think about His patience in your own life. John Piper said: “If God’s anger had a hair trigger, his love would not last one day in my life. If rockets of wrath shot out from God’s eyes every time I sinned, I would be blown to smithereens before I got out of bed in the morning. But he shouts on Mount Sinai, “I am slow to anger!” He holds back his wrath by the reigns of his love. He is long-suffering. He is extraordinarily patient. And so he keeps steadfast love. He guards it and preserves it by being slow to anger.”

Similarly Stephen Charnock said: “He is slow to anger, he takes not the first occasions of a provocation; he is long-suffering (Rom. 9:22), and (Psalm 86:15) he forbears punishment upon many occasions offered him. It is long before he consents to give fire to his wrath, and shoot out his thunderbolts. Sin hath a loud cry, but God seems to stop his ears, not to hear the clamor it raises and the charge it presents.”

Think about how amazing Isaiah 65 is that says: “I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually,” Then think of Jesus spreading out his hands on the cross as Matthew Henry says: “When Christ was crucified his hands were spread out and stretched forth, as if he were preparing to receive returning sinners into his bosom and this all the day, all the gospel-day. He waited to be gracious, and was not weary of waiting even those that came in at the eleventh hour of the day were not rejected.”

We were all provoking God to His face continually as Isaiah 65 says. This was the first 23 years of my life, just absolutely provoking God to His face everyday. Any of those days during my first 23 years of life, God could have justly ended my life. He could have justly sent me to Hell for eternity, which is where my sins deserved. I am so thankful that God is patient and that He has been incredibly patient with me. As 2 Peter 3 says: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

A.W. Pink writes: “Let us review our own lives. It is not long since we followed a multitude to do evil, had no concern for God’s glory, and lived only to gratify self. How patiently He bore with our vile conduct! Now that grace has snatched us as brands from the burning, and given us a place in God’s family, and begotten us unto an eternal inheritance in glory; how miserably we requite Him. How shallow our gratitude, how tardy our obedience, how frequent our backslidings! One reason why God suffers the flesh to remain in the believer is that He may exhibit His “longsuffering to us…” (2 Pet. 3:9).”

As we prepare for worship let’s be sure to thank God for His patience with us. Let’s also be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Molly who will lead us in worship. Let’s also pray for Jerry who will lead us in a time of confession. Let’s also be sure to pray for Mark as he preaches the last sermon on the book of Genesis. We will look at Genesis 50 tomorrow. The link to the ESV text is below:

Genesis 50

Preparing For Worship

preparing-our-hearts-for-worship

It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. The last two weeks we have been thinking through something that Ligon Duncan said. He said this: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” So, we have been looking at one attribute of God each week to help us prepare for worship. The first week we looked at God’s immensity and last week we looked at God’s omniscience. This week I want to look at God’s power.

Stephen Charnock said: “God’s power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature.” Psalm 18 says: “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire. And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O Lordat the blast of the breath of your nostrils.” Every thunderstorm should remind us of God’s power and as Charles Spurgeon says a storm should also “assure us of the real power of him who is our Father and our friend,…” A.W. Pink says: “There is infinitely more power lodged in the nature of God than is expressed in all his works.” He goes on to say that: “Not a creature in the entire universe has an atom of power save what God delegates. But God’s power is not acquired, nor does it depend upon any recognition by any other authority. It belongs to him inherently.”

Psalm 89 says: “For who in the skies can be compared to the LordWho among the heavenly beings is like the Lorda God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
and awesome above all who are around him? O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord,” Psalm 50:1 says: “The Mighty One, God the Lordspeaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” Isaiah 40 tells us: “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard?The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”

What are some practical implications of God’s power? I think one would be a holy awe must come upon us as Matthew Henry says: “A holy awe of God must fall upon us, and fill us, in all our approaches to God, even in secret…” Another implication of His power would be that we should trust Him fully. A.W. Pink says: “He is worthy of implicit confidence. Nothing is too hard for Him. If God were stinted in might and had a limit to His strength we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). 

God’s power should also remind us that He can do far more than we ask or think. As Paul tells us in Ephesians 3: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Lastly, I think we should be stunned that the Almighty God of the universe, who is infinite in power has adopted us into His family and He is our Father! As 2nd Corinthians 6 tells us: “and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Let’s be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Molly as they will lead us in worship tomorrow. Let’s also pray for Allen as he will be leading us in a time of confession. Let’s also be sure to pray for Mark as he will open up God’s Word to us. Mark will be talking about the authority of scripture tomorrow and we will look at Genesis 49. The link to the ESV text is below:

Genesis 49

 

Preparing For Worship

I-Will-Prepare-for-Worship

It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. Last week I quoted Ligon Duncan who said that one way to prepare for worship would be to: “Reflect on and pray through the attributes of God. Consider what makes Him worthy of our worship. Consider yourself, and spend time in confession of sin. Pray that God would prepare your heart to hear the proclamation of His Word.” I thought that praying through the attributes of God was a great idea and I thought it would be good to discuss a different attribute of God every week for several weeks. Last week I mentioned God’s immensity. As a quick reminder about God’s immensity A.W. Tozer said: “God has the attribute of immanence and immensity. God is immanent, which means you don’t have to go distances to find God…He is right here…God is above all things presiding, beneath all things sustaining, outside of all things embracing and inside all things filling. That is the immanence of God.”

Psalm 139: 7-10 says: “Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.”

This week I want to focus on God’s omniscience. A.W. Pink says: “God is omniscient. He knows everything: everything possible, everything actual; all events, all creatures of the past, the present and the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven, in earth and in hell…His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything.” Hebrews 4:13 reminds us: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Sam Storms says that God: “sees things at once and in their totality, whereas we know only as the objects of knowledge are brought before us, one bit after another. With God the act of perception is complete and instantaneous. God thinks about all things at once.” Wayne Grudem helpfully tells us: “If he [God] should wish to tell us the number of grains of sand on the seashore or the number of stars in the sky, he would not have to count them all quickly like some kind of giant computer, nor would he have to call the number to mind because it was something he had not thought about for a time. Rather, he knows all things at once. All of these facts and all other things that he knows are always fully present in his consciousness” This is the God we are preparing to worship! Psalm 147:5 says: “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”

Sam Storms reminds us: “God’s knows exhaustively all his own deeds and plans. He also knows us thoroughly and exhaustively. No secret of the human heart, no thought of the mind or feeling of the soul escapes his gaze. Carl Henry points out: “Psychologists and psychoanalysts speak of deep areas of subconscious experience of which human beings are hardly aware. But God knows all men thoroughgoingly, psychologists and psychoanalysts and theologians included.”

What are some practical implications of God’s omniscience for us? John Piper is helpful here when he says: “It means that there are no complete secrets in your life. You may have succeeded in hiding something all your life from everyone on this earth. But you have not hidden it from Jesus. The person who matters most knows most. The person whose judgment about you is all important knows all. Let that sink in. You are totally known. Totally. There is not the slightest part of your heart unknown to Jesus, at this hour, and every hour.”

God’s omniscience should fill us with adoration and comfort. Sam Storms says: “What is even more glorious is that this doctrine which makes us fearful of sin is also the foundation of comfort and assurance. If God is omniscient, then he knows the worst about us, but loves us notwithstanding! The apostle John writes: “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:19-20) A.W. Pink similarly says: “The apprehension of God’s infinite knowledge should fill the Christian with adoration. The whole of my life stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before Him!”

Lastly and powerfully John Piper tells us: “Let me close with one word about the cross of Christ—the death of Christ. You would think that a man who can see perfectly into the heart of every soul and know what everyone is thinking and feeling and planning—you would think that such a man could move through life by avoiding all human danger. He can simply see all thoughts of ill-will and get out of reach. That’s true. He could. If that was his plan.

But it wasn’t Jesus’ plan. He knew what was in man—including Judas (John 6:64). And so he chose when and where and how and why he would die. And he did it for you. If you see him and his cross as the greatest glory and believe on him, the Lamb of God takes away all your sins, you will have eternal life. He is a glorious Savior.”

As we prepare our hearts for worship let’s be sure to pray for Ian and Erin as they will be leading us in worship. If you would pray for me as I will be doing the confession I would appreciate it. Let’s be sure to pray for Mark as well, who will open up God’s Word to us. He will be preaching on Genesis 46-47. The links to the ESV text are below:

Genesis 46

Genesis 47

Picture from here