FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions:
- Did anything land with you during worship?
- What did it make you think? How did it make you feel?
- What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word?
- What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
- Did you hear any good news? If so, when and where?
Words For Reflection:
Jesus is strong…but he’s also approachable. He is able to carry our load…but he will never make us feel embarrassed or defeated for asking.... Sometimes God allows what he hates in order to accomplish what he loves. – Joni Eareckson Tada
What is the relationship between church and state? How should Christians relate to and participate in contemporary society and culture? What is the role of the church gathered and scattered in daily life? These are big questions that resist black and white answers and therefore require wisdom. Where do we begin wrestling with these kinds of questions? Well one place to start is a book written by D.A Carson, research professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, called Christ & Culture Revisited. It is historically informed and constructively thoughtful for living wisely as followers of Jesus in a fast paced, complicated time.
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Psalm 127
Praise to the Lord - Adoration
Be Thou My Vision - Confession
The Gospel is Good News Indeed - Grace
Come, O Come Thou Quickening Spirit - Response
Jesus, I am Resting - Communion
Doxology - Old 100th
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of Joel.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may findthis approach and this app helpful.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Streams of Living Water Flow
See, from Zion's sacred mountain,
Streams of living water flow;
God has opened there a fountain,
That supplies the plains below;
They are blessed, they are blessed
Who its sovereign virtues know.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, we confess that our glory has been our comfort, rather than your Son's cross. We confess that we crave the fellowship of those already like us, rather than the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. We confess that we work to save our own lives, rather than lose our lives for Christ’s sake and the gospel. Have mercy on us, Father, and grant us the gift of gospel repentance. Cleanse us by the finished work of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and restore to us the joy of your salvation. Amen.
Words of Grace
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 1:8-2:2
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text – Psalm 126
A Song of Ascents.
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
1. The source of joy today (v. 1-3)
2. The promise of joy tomorrow (v. 4-6)
Psalms 126-131, like 120-125, are about the journey of faith but with a new emphasis. Psalms 120-125 emphasized the path of the journey. Whereas, Psalms 126-131 focus on the heart of the pilgrim.
What is the mark of a supernaturally changed heart? How would you answer that question?
Psalm 126 gives us several clues. The whole Psalm is built on two verbs, one looking to the past (vs. 1 "restored") and one looking to the future (v. 4 "restore"). At the center of the Psalm is the sentence, "we are glad" (v. 3b). It is a statement of present experience based on what God has done in the past and will do in the future. In light of these clues, what is the mark of a pilgrim heart that has experienced the great things God has done (v. 3a)? The answer is JOY! (v. 2,3,5,6)
Where does this joy come from? It comes from remembering the great things God has done! Some suggest the Psalmist is talking about God bringing his people back to Israel from exile in Babylon. Those events certainly fit this Psalm. But so too do numerous events of God's restoring work in scripture. The phrase translated "restored the fortunes of Zion" is literally "God turned the turnings of Zion." Again and again throughout scripture from Genesis through Revelation men and women turn away from God and God in his grace "turns their turnings." This is language of grace. God's people can't turn themselves back! God must do that! Even a cursory knowledge of the weaknesses and failings of God's people in the OT or even our own lives means this is really good news. It's almost too good to be true (we were like those who dream, v. 1). It changes what comes out of us (v. 2a). It catches the attention of neighbors to the point they too recognize the Lord's greatness (v. 3). It leads to a life of joy!
But it's important to notice that biblical joy is not the same thing the world means by happiness. For starters Psalm 126 teaches us that joy has a past (v. 1-3) and a future (v. 4-6). True joy is rooted in God's story. It grows out of what he has done and is sustained by the hope of what he will do. In contrast, happiness is "getting control of your life in order to keep your circumstances favorable." Happiness is the subtraction of circumstances in our lives we don't want. Joy is very different. Why? The apostle Paul tells us why. "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, butwe rejoice in our sufferings." (Rom. 5:1-3a).
You see biblical joy recognizes experiences - even very painful experiences - that you can't change or outrun. God never explains those way. He adds promises to them. Whether we are spiritually dry and withered (v. 4) or full of sorrow and stricken with grief (v. 5-6), God promises to turn our tears into shouts of joy. Have you ever thought of your tears as seed that God will transform into joy? How strange! How remarkable! As one writer put it, "Sow it in God and he will, finally, bring a crop of joy from it….! One of the most interesting and remarkable things Christians learn is that laughter does not exclude weeping. Christian joy is not an escape from sorrow. Pain and hardship still come, but they are unable to drive out the happiness of the redeemed."
So how does joy really work? It doesn't come from subtracting but from adding! Joy comes from adding the "great things God has done for us." If we can't change the facts in our lives, then what facts do we need to add? The facts of Jesus! Jesus rejoiced in his sufferings even as he wept over going to the cross (Mk. 14:36). It was for the joy set before him that he endured the cross (Heb. 12:2). The death and resurrection of Jesus is our guarantee that tears do give way to joy; that death will give way to life; that sowing in tears now is not in vain or without hope!
Sermon Reflection Questions
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What is the source of joy according to Psalm 126? Have you experienced this joy? Why or why not?
- What makes the joy of Psalm 126 so different than happiness defined as "getting control of your life in order to keep circumstances favorable?"
- Discuss the following statement: Joy doesn’t come from subtracting hard things in your life. It comes from adding the “great things God has done for us in Christ." What gospel facts do you need to add to your life this week?
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism c. 1647
Q.67: Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, You shall not kill.
Q.68: What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment requires all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.
Q. 69: What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tends thereunto.