Sunday Recap | October 22nd, 2017

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:

As Christians do the jobs and tasks assigned to them in what the world calls work, we learn to pay attention to and practice what God is doing in love and justice, in helping and healing, in liberating and cheering. – Eugene Peterson

Suggested Resource:
How does change happen? And by change I don't just mean the things we do but the things we love. How does grace change the heart? One of the things I am starting to do with our staff is to include some time for us to learn and grow together. We are going to read through a book called How People Change, which walks through the basic teaching of scripture on how grace changes us now in addition to securing our future destiny. If you are wondering how change can happen in your life, consider giving this a read and lets talk.

For next Sunday:

Sermon Text: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Alleluia, Sing to Jesus - Adoration
Come, Holy Ghost - Adoration
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross - Grace
He Leadeth Me - Response
Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies - 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 Amos.

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)

Jesus, I Am Resting
Jesus I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
As Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
Jesus I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)

Prayer of Confession
Loving and gracious Father, the more we delve into the depths of our sin, the uglier and more heinous it becomes. If we promise to do better, we lie. If we try to clean ourselves up, we are frauds. If we give because we feel guilty, we are schemers. If we serve to feel good about ourselves, we are self-righteous. If we pray only to get what we want, we are self-serving. If we read your Word so you will be pleased with us, we are manipulators. The selfish motivations of even our best actions condemn us. They are un-holy, un-pleasing, and un-like the One in whose image we are created. Please forgive us and help us to look only to the life-saving, life-giving, life-changing power of Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
 
Words of Grace
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
 
Ephesians 1:3-7

Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)

Sunday's Sermon: Our Work, God's Work

Sermon Text – Psalm 127
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
 
1           Unless the Lord builds the house,
                        those who build it labor in vain.
            Unless the Lord watches over the city,
                        the watchman stays awake in vain. 
2           It is in vain that you rise up early
                        and go late to rest,
            eating the bread of anxious toil;
                        for he gives to his beloved sleep. 
 
3           Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
                        the fruit of the womb a reward. 
4           Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
                        are the children of one’s youth. 
5           Blessed is the man
                        who fills his quiver with them!
            He shall not be put to shame
                        when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Sermon Outline:
1. Why do we live anxious lives? (v. 1-2)
2. How can we live fruitful lives? (v. 3-5)

Sermon Reflection

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil. Does that sound familiar? Do you, as often as not, feel like despite your best efforts your work proves fruitless or pointless never quite achieving what you hope it will?

David Brooks, NY Times writer, playing off the idea that we live in a democracy says we also live in a meritocracy and so writes, “Starting at birth, middle-class Americans are called on to master skills, do well in school, practice sports, excel in extracurricular activities, get into college, build their resumes, change careers, [excel in romance], set up retirement plans, and so on. This is a way of life that emphasizes individual achievement, self-propulsion, perpetual movement, and permanent exertion.” In other words, your abilities and achievements are who you are not merely things you have. It is an approach to life that implicitly if not explicitly says, "my plans and efforts are ultimate."

So why do we live anxious lives? Because deep down we know our "labor" (v. 1) and our "watching" (v. 1) can't deal with the anxious toil of our hearts (v. 2). If someone were to ask you what is the opposite of rest what would you say? My answer would be "work." However, Psalm 127 goes deeper. The opposite of rest isn't work. Work is good and dignifying. God works (v. 1, 3; Genesis 1). The opposite of rest isn't work but restlessness. A restlessness of the heart. To ignore the warning of verse 1 about our attitude toward God and our efforts is to labor and watch in vain.

So what's the remedy to our anxious toil and restless hearts? First it begins with admitting you have a problem, that anxious toil is evidence of a spiritual problem no amount of effort or ability can fix. Why? Because only God gives to his beloved sleep (v. 2). Only God can give the deep soul rest of which peaceful, restful sleep is a metaphor.

There is a lot in Psalm 127 about children and lots of them (v. 3-5). So much for restful sleep. Why does the Psalmist move from the warning about our work and anxious toil in v. 1-2 to the blessing of children in v. 3-5. Remember what this whole Psalm is about...the daily work of the journey of faith (building, watching, family). All of it amounts to nothing if God isn't at work! Without Him all our efforts, no matter how well intended are vain. So how does our work overlap with God's work. The answer: the gift of children. None of us would say the act of love between a husband and wife that yields a child is work as we normally think of work. And it is out of this act of love that God creates new life. Given all that goes into the miracle of a new born child, the "work" of a husband and wife is relatively small (though let's be clear the wife does way more work than the husband:)). The example of children in verses 3-5 illustrate how God works in and through our work. God is the author of life who brings fruitfulness out of our efforts. God is the one who establishes the work of our hands.

But we ought not stop there. The good news isn't merely that God's work overlaps with our work. The good news is that God can take away the anxious toil of our hearts through another and greater act of love. For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son! In Jesus Christ we see the divine and the human overlap in one person to be for us what we could never be. The good news for the believer is that the daily journey of faith unfolds within God's greater story of redemption in Christ. It means God's work is ultimate! It means we can go about or days and give ourselves to our work without it withering our souls. Why? Because your work isn't who you are! Who you are is a beloved son or daughter of God who is committed to complete the good work he has begun in and through you! He isn't playing games with you. He isn't holding out on you. He can't because he has already given you everything in Christ! (Rom.8:32).

The end of our anxious toil is living our lives by faith in light of God's work more than in light of our own work!  Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain!

Sermon Reflection Questions

  1. What stood out to you from these verses?
  2. What questions do they raise for you?
  3. Was there anything that bothered you?
  4. What phrases or images most connect with you from this Psalm and why?
  5. What does the example of children in vs. 3-5 teaches about our work and God's work?
  6. What do you meditate on that stokes your anxious toil?
  7. What could you meditate on that has the power to set you free from your anxious toil?

Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism c. 1647
Q. 70. Which is the seventh commandment?
 
A. The seventh commandment is, You shall not commit adultery.
 
Q. 71. What is required in the seventh commandment?
 
A. The seventh commandment requires the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior.
 
Q. 72. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
 
A. The seventh commandment forbids all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions.