FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
The gospel is Jesus Christ given to us with all the blessings of God contained in him. – Ian Murray
If you are looking for something to read as we enter into advent this week, let me suggest to you this little gem by Sinclair Ferguson.
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: John 13:36-14:11
O Come, O Come Emmanuel - Advent
Holy, Holy, Holy - Adoration
Come, Light Our Hearts - Grace
Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts - Response
The People that Darkness Sat - 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 Habakkuk.
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)
Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit;
On Him my soul shall rest, His word
Upholds my fainting spirit;
His promised mercy is my fort,
My comfort and my sweet support;
I wait for it with patience
I wait for it with patience
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, we need to be forgiven. We have tried to work off our guilt and shame; to pile up good deeds that outweigh our sins. We have tried to change through our own efforts. When this doesn’t work, we turn to denial and distraction, leaving some of us arrogant and the rest of us anxious and depressed. Forgive us for thinking we could save ourselves rather than resting in the merits of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for our pride. Forgive us and heal us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Words of Grace
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:21-24
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text – Psalm 130
A Song of Ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
1. The cry of despair (v. 1-4)
2. The practice of waiting (v. 5-6)
3. The nurturing of hope (v. 7-8)
A Psalm like Psalm 130 is likely to resonate deeply with you or feel foreign to you. But either way it is essential to the life of faith because just as Psalm 129 showed us the life of faith is resilient, Psalm 130 shows us the life of faith goes deep.
Borrowing from the imagery of water, the Psalmist begins crying for help out of the depths. It's a picture of drowning, of overwhelming trouble. (see Psalm 69:1-2) Implied in the plea for mercy in verse 2 and made explicit in verse 3-4 is the reason for the Psalmist's despair. If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? Guilt and shame are overwhelming him and he recognizes if God were to keep track and bring them all up he would be utterly undone. However, as guilty and ashamed as he may feel it is the knowledge that God forgives that enables him to cry out for mercy. God forgives! He doesn't keep a running list! He removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10-12) What does this mean for you and for me? It means that God relates to us by grace not by merit! We don't cry out to God from the depths so that God will be gracious. We cry out to God from the depths because God has been gracious. It is who he is. It is what he does. Therefore, Psalm 130 teaches us nothing is a barrier to prayer! This is good news especially when we are in trouble and feel hopeless and alone and beyond earshot of anyone listening.
But as the opening verses suggest, prayer often means waiting. What can you do when you feel overwhelmed and barely able to make it? Practice being a watchman waiting for the morning (v. 6). A watchman waits longingly, hopefully because he knows the morning is coming. The Psalmist waits longingly, hopefully because he knows God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (2 Peter 1:19) Waiting often feels futile, like a waste of time. But sometimes, waiting is the best and most important act of faith. Waiting is letting God be God. It is trusting, hoping in his word and not someone else's or our good ideas.
But waiting is hard. Hoping is often painful. Therefore, hope must be nurtured in us. It must be watered and feed. O Israel, hope in the Lord! (v. 7) Encouragement is the water of hope. What does encouragement sprinkle that yields hope in the heart? The steadfast love of the Lord, his plentiful redemption, and his complete salvation. (v. 7b-8) God's love is unbreakable, abundant, and liberating.
Why should we hope in the Lord? Because all the reasons we are given come to us in the person of Jesus. In Jesus we discover what it means for God to be steadfast, rich in grace, and powerful to save. It is in him that we find our standing with God. Even more than that, it is in Jesus that we learn what it means for God's name to be Emmanuel, God with us!
No matter how deep we descend God is there, with us, in Christ! He drank the cup we deserve (Mk. 14:36). He was forsaken, so we never would be (Mt. 27:26). Jesus took what we deserve so that when we are in the depths we can pray this prayer and know God will forgive, God will remain faithful, God will rescue!
Sermon Reflection Questions
- What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- Which words of this Psalm do you resonate with?
- Why is it hard for you to wait?
- How does God encourage you through this Psalm?
- How can you encourage one person this week to hope in the Lord?
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism c. 1646
Q. 85. What does God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption.