Worship Preparation – February 9, 2014

We return to Acts this week as we continue with the story of the early church in chapter 23.  We took a hiatus from Acts at the start of Advent as Paul was about to be taken to Caesarea.  We return to the story at the point in which Paul’s nephew is the Lord’s means of protection for Paul.  In this way, God ensured Paul would “testify also in Rome” as he had testified in Jerusalem.

Come worship with us this Sunday as the Lord strengthens the faith of His people at Christ Community.

Song of Ascent: Nothing But the Blood

Call to Worship: Isaiah 45:22-23

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Song of Praise: Great is Thy Faithfulness

Corporate Confession: Psalm 32:1-2

Leader: Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

People: whose sin is covered.

Leader: Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,

People: and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Promise of Forgiveness: Acts 13:38-39; Psalm 150:1-2

Leader: “…through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

People: “Praise the Lord! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!”

Affirmation of Faith:  The Heidelberg Catechism Q. 37-39

Leader: What do you understand by the words, “He suffered”?

People: That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favor of God, righteousness and eternal life.

Leader: Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate, as judge”?

People: That he, being innocent, and yet condemned by a temporal judge, might thereby free us from the severe judgment of God to which we were exposed.

Leader: Is there anything more in his being “crucified”, than if he had died some other death?

People: Yes there is; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; for the death of the cross was accursed of God.

Song of Rejoicing: What Wondrous Love is This

Scripture Reading: Acts 23:12-35

The Sacrament of Communion

The Response of Praise

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,  Opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day!

Worship Preparation – February 2, 2014

The temptations of this earth seek to make us lay up our treasure here.  The domain of darkness does not believe this world is wasting away.  It rebels against all that is good with the hope of making us utilize God’s good gifts, which come down from heaven, for our own glory rather than for the edification of the church.  In worship this Sunday, we will examine the call from the kingdom of God, which tells us to store our treasures in heaven, where neither rust, moth, nor thief can touch them.

Come worship with us this Sunday as the Lord strengthens the faith of His people at Christ Community.

Song of Ascent: There is a Fountain Filled with Blood

Call to Worship: Psalm 99:1-3

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!

Song of Praise: O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

Corporate Confession: Romans 3:10-12

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

Promise of Forgiveness: Romans 3:23-24

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Affirmation of Faith: The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic[1] church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.


[1] Universal

Song of Rejoicing: It is Finished – Part II

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:19-21

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Worship Preparation – January 26, 2014

We have been looking at the idea of faith in the past few weeks and will continue that this week as we study Romans 1:16-17.  The righteous shall live by faith.  This gift of faith is given to ungodly and unrighteous men who suppress the truth.  It is through faith that we are brought near to God and through faith that the Spirit of God delivers His people “from the domain of darkness….to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

Come worship with us this Sunday as the Lord strengthens the faith of His people at Christ Community.

Song of Ascent: Jesus Cast a Look on Me

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-5

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! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered

Song of Praise: Lord, Dissolve My Frozen Heart

Corporate Confession: Psalm 27:7-9

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!“

Promise of Forgiveness: Colossians 1:13-14

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.

Affirmation of Faith: Questions 34 & 35 (Lord’s Day 14)

Leader: What is the meaning of these words “He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary”?
People: That God’s eternal Son, who is, and continues (a) true and eternal God, (b) took upon him the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, (c) by the operation of the Holy Ghost; (d) that he might also be the true seed of David, (e) like unto his brethren in all things, (f) sin excepted. (g)

Leader: What profit dost thou receive by Christ’s holy conception and nativity?
People: That he is our Mediator; (a) and with His innocence and perfect holiness, covers in the sight of God, my sins, wherein I was conceived and brought forth. (b)

Song of Rejoicing: My Jesus, I love Thee

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

 

Worship Preparation – January 19, 2014

For those joining us this Lord’s day, read through the following ahead of time with your family in preparation.

SERMON TEXT

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

CALL TO WORSHIP, CONFESSION OF SIN, & PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS

Psalm 136:1-3, Mark 1:15, Psalm 139:23-24, 1 Timothy 2:5-6

SONGS OF ASCENT, PRAISE, & REJOICING

Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace
Jesus I Long for Thee
The Solid Rock

THE AFFIRMATION OF FAITH

The Heidelberg Catechism Questions 33 and 34

Leader:  Why is Christ called the “only begotten Son” of God, since we are also the children of God?

People:  Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God; but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for his sake.

Leader:  Why do we call Him “our Lord”?

People:  Because he has redeemed us, both soul and body, from all our sins, not with silver or gold, but with his precious blood, and has delivered us from all the power of the devil; and thus has made us his own property.

Worship Preparation – January 12

Read through the songs and verses below in preparation for our time of worship this coming Sunday.  Each week we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ as we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in our hearts to God.  It is wise and good to prepare for this time of worship together.

The Song of Ascent: Holy, Holy, Holy
The Call to Worship: Psalm 66:1-5
The Song of Praise: Before the Throne of God Above
The Affirmation of Faith: The Heidelberg Catechism Q. 31-32
The Prayer of Confession: Mark 1:15
The Promise of Forgiveness: Galatians 4:4-7
The Song of Rejoicing: O Worship the King
The Response of Praise: Doxology

 

The Heidelberg Catechism

Question 31: Why is he called “Christ”, that is anointed?
Answer: Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in that salvation he has purchased for us.

Question 32: But why are you called a Christian?
Answer: Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of his anointing; so that I may confess his name and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him: and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life and afterwards I reign with him eternally, over all creatures.

 

Happy New Year

As we begin 2014, lets us all look forward with hope in Jesus Christ. May we not boast arrogantly in our plans for the year, but instead say “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15).

Christmas 2013 – Looking Back & Forth

The birth of Christ took place in the manner described in Matthew 1:20 “to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet” in Isaiah 7:14.  The virgin did give birth to a son and did name him Immanuel.  God had come and was with them.  Not only was he with them, but his kingdom will never end (Lk 1:33) so this means he is with us too.  Immanuel, God with us.

During the Christmas season, we focus attention on the birth of Christ so the world might know that God used what was foolish to shame the wise.  He chose to use a child born not into royalty, but in a lowly manner to save the world.  The Angels proclaimed his birth, the prophets foretold it, and heaven & earth rejoiced at its coming.  God had fulfilled his promise to send the seed of the women who would crush the head of the serpent.  The one who would fulfill the law perfectly and be the righteousness of God for us had come.  This one, the Messiah, would be in the lineage of David, born in Bethlehem, and would sit on his father’s throne forever.  Prophecy fulfilled perfectly is what we find at the manger.  History proves out God’s faithfulness and our view into the Old Testament through the light of Christ reveals the wonderful story of redemption that was hidden to previous generations.

Christmas is a time to rejoice in fulfillment.  It is a time to reflect on the rest found in the Christ child.  It is also a time to look forward with hope expectantly awaiting the day he “will come in the same way” as the Apostles saw him leave in the ascension.  We look back upon the birth of Jesus, and this reminds us to look forward to see our rebirth finally and fully revealed in his coming again.  God wrote the back story to strengthen our faith in what He is bringing forth!

Speaking Truth Freely

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 9.32.59 PMBeginning in verse 24 of Acts 4, we see a prayer of the Apostles recorded by Luke.  This prayer shows the hearts of those involved as we see that they know and rest upon the truth of God’s word.  We also see that the Holy Spirit has shown them they are experiencing the fulfillment of Psalm 2.  A great need was uncovered in their quest for holiness and perfect obedience to the Lord’s command to go forth and make disciples of all nations.  They needed boldness.

The council of religious leaders had forbidden them from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus.  Knowing they did not have the option to stop proclaiming what they had seen and heard, the Apostles turned to the Lord and asked for boldness.  Luke does not record a petition to remove these leaders from their position nor do they ask for freedom from this yolk in any way.  They knew true freedom came from the power of God; thus, they asked the Lord to give them freedom of speech or the freedom to speak without hindrance.  This is translated, “grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” in the ESV.

Scripture clearly teaches the Lord ordained kings and rulers to set themselves, “against the Lord and against his Anointed” (Acts 4:26).  This truth was known by the Apostles and led them to ask the Lord to help them obey the commission given them by Christ.  They knew the temptation to walk away from it all would grow as the intensity of this opposition grew; thus, they leaned upon the great power of the Holy Spirit that rested upon them in Acts 2.  The Lord then shook the building they were in as a way to remind them of the Spirit’s power and to ensure them He would help them as they had asked.

The Lord commands us to be obedient yet He has not ordained obedience and holiness to be easily grasped.  He ordained the perfect holiness by which he judges us to be imputed to us through faith in Christ, and says we “ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6) while on this earth.  He commands obedience and provides for it in Christ.  This is the glory of God shining forth!  As we walk in this life, we are to seek perfection (knowing we will only attain it at the resurrection) through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.  In this prayer recorded in Acts 4 the Apostles show us the outworking of God’s Spirit as He moves in hearts that know the truth revealed in Scripture.

There are many principles to be taken from this passage.  First and foremost we should notice the greatness of God’s sovereignty as He works to faithfully fulfill His promise of redemption.  We can also glean a lesson about prayer.  The Apostles prayer arose from a need.  If you struggle with prayer, diligently seek obedience and your difficulty in this, which will definitely come, will lead to groanings of your heart toward God in prayer.  Striving for obedience to God is hard work, and you will need God’s help, and from there your prayers will flow.  Your intimacy with the Lord will grow and this intimacy is used by the Spirit to assure us that we can rest in Christ.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2

The power of God was seen at Pentecost when His Spirit came to and rested upon the Apostles yet we know this was not a full manifestation of His power.  After all He did create the universe out of nothing!  In Acts 2 we see a momentary reversal of God’s work at the Tower of Babel.  Pentecost is evidence that the one true God who confused the languages can unify them in one instant.  We know the future hope for God’s people is perfect communion with God and with each other, and the power behind this work is manifest as the Holy Spirit is poured out at Pentecost.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit rushes in and rests upon the Apostles in an unmistakable fashion.  The sound was such that many came to see what was happening.  The Spirit’s presence led to unprecedented boldness and an amazing harvest of souls.  This is all quite amazing, but we must not lose sight of what was going on there.  If we exalt Peter and his words as saving agents in and of themselves we evidence our misunderstanding of the truth and place a burden on ourselves that Scripture does not place on us.  Peter was an instrument of God, and it is God who accomplishes the whole work of salvation.

Those experiencing the events recorded in Acts 2 were “amazed and perplexed” and they attributed these works to the Apostles being “filled with new wine” (Acts 2:13). Peter is quick to let them (and us) know, however, that the power behind these events is the almighty Creator of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Acts 2 records the historical outworking of His Spirit being poured out as promised in Joel 2, and this pouring out was not limited and temporary, but rather overflowing and eternal as the Spirit “rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:3).

God’s Spirit rested on His people then and we are promised that He continues to mark His people by resting on them today.  The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of the promise and He dwells in us.  While He does not regularly manifest His power to the eyes of men in the same manner now as he did then (removing language barriers, entering as a mighty rushing wind, etc.), His power is clearly seen as He regenerates the dead, stale hearts of His enemies.

While the message of Scripture points us toward Christ and calls us to be witnesses to the work of Christ in our lives, it is the Holy Spirit that works in us “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).  It is God’s Spirit that quickens us and enables us to “see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  It is the Holy Spirit that moves us to lift up our voices as witnesses to the person and work of Christ as Peter does in Acts 2:14.  It is this movement of God’s Spirit that caused the people to be “cut to the heart” and cry out “what shall we do” bringing “about three thousand souls” into the kingdom.

When we read Acts 2, we may long to see the Spirit of God move in powerful ways in the Church today.  It is right for us ask for this since we are told, “let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).  When the Spirit desires the Church to thrive He moves and makes it thrive, and it is a great pleasure to the body of Christ when this power is shown on earth.  We must not lose sight, however, that the final victory and greatest joy for the Christian is in the eternal kingdom.  Christians throughout the ages have been called to look toward Christ in hope regardless of where they live and regardless of the apparent strength of the Church in that time and place.  The hope points their eyes to the kingdom that is here, but not yet fully revealed.

We are to be witnesses to this kingdom and to the awesome power of God that turned the world upside down in the 1st century.  God poured out His Spirit not to restore the kingdom of Israel on earth, but to glorify the Son who is the Savior of the world.  A Savior and King whose kingdom “is not of this world” (John 18:36).  Rest assured, the Holy Spirit of God is alive and active today, and we should find joy in knowing that this Spirit living in us has the power to do what He will as is evidenced in the events of Acts chapter 2.

An Unbelievable Story?

The Acts of the ApostlesHave you read the book of Acts lately?  If not, allow me to commend it to you.  It is an exciting view into the working of the Lord in the early days of the Church.  Luke does a superb job of recording the outworking of God’s hand, and he includes for us a few lengthy proclamations of the good news of Christ as given by Peter, Paul, and others.  Probably the most amazing part of the book is the holistic view we gain into the hand of God at work as He begins to move among His people.

When you read Acts, read it as you would any book.  Allow yourself to become caught up in the story.  Let the characters endear themselves to you.  You may have experienced this in a novel or a long running T.V. series where you are sad to see it end because you will miss the characters on some level.  The book of Acts is powerful, and the people God used to do amazing things appear mighty in themselves yet proclaim, “We also are men, of like nature with you.” (Acts 14:15).

This book gives us a window to peer into the power and control of our almighty God.  It is comforting, motivating, and extremely informative.  If you imagine these things happening in today’s world you will find yourself thinking, “this is unbelievable.”  This is what many said.  Luke explains that large numbers of people believed and were counted among the Church.  He also tells us large numbers found the story to be ludicrous remaining under the condemnation of their sin.

As you read it through this time, may I suggest that you not be looking for life lessons and for ways that you might change, but that you simply sit back and watch the power of God.  Notice how the the Gospel moves, “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” as Christ said it would in Acts 1:8.  Be amazed that the one who promised to save us has the power to change hearts and minds as He pleases.  Stand in awe not at the power of Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and others to withstand persecution and punishment, but be amazed that our Lord was able to help them continue to speak His word “with all boldness” as they asked (Acts 4:29) and able to move in them to stand strong in the face of adversity that would crush the will of any man.

To the Christian this book screams, “Rejoice!  Your Lord is all powerful and you have nothing to fear.”  To those who have yet to believe upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ this book demands repentance.  It shows the folly of our world is no different today than it was 2000 years ago.  Powerful men and ideologies seek to sieze the hearts and minds of the masses and fight earnestly to keep them.  Rest assured, though, as Acts makes very clear, the message of Scripture is true.  Jesus is the Christ, the chosen one.  He is the Messiah prophesied in ages past, and He will return to gather the elect to Himself.  Read and enjoy the book of Acts and let it move you to a more fervent passion to honor the Lord with obedience.