FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
The gardening metaphor shows that both success and faithfulness by themselves are insufficient criteria for evaluating ministry. Gardeners must be faithful in their work, but they must also be skillful, or the garden will fail. Yet in the end, the degree of the success of the garden (or the ministry) is determined by factors beyond the control of the gardener. The level of fruitfulness varies due to “soil conditions” (that is, some groups of people have a greater hardness of heart than others) and “weather conditions” (that is, the work of God’s sovereign Spirit) as well. – Tim Keller
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Romans 6:1-14
Holy, Holy, Holy - Adoration
Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior - Confession
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us - Grace
Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts - Response
Hark! the Voice of Love and Mercy - 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 Numbers.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
The most recent TED Radio Hour show is a must listen for all of us at RMC. It is about BUILDING HUMAN CITIES and it is excellent, touching on a number of themes I could only barely mention two weeks ago when we looked at CITY FOCUS. If you can, please carve out some time to listen to this.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
He Leadeth Me
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden's flowers bloom,
by waters calm, o'er troubled sea,
still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by his own hand he leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each day of our lives has proved us guilty in your sight. Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; our best efforts to love you and others are but filthy rags. All things in us call for our rejection but all things in Christ plead for our acceptance. We appeal from your throne of perfect justice to your throne of boundless grace. Grant us to hear your word assuring us of the gospel of your Son: that by his stripes we are healed, that he was bruised for our iniquities, that he was made sin for us that we might be declared righteous before you, that our many sins, are all forgiven. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
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. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - 2 Peter 1:3-11
1. The foundation for fruitfulness (v. 3-4)
2. The character of fruitfulness (v. 5-7)
3. The key to fruitfulness (v. 8-9)
4. The hope of fruitfulness (v. 10-11)
The Heart of the Message
This week we finished up our vision series by looking at our goals: Connecting people to God, Connecting people to one another, Connecting people to the city, and Connecting people to the culture.Why is it important to have these four goals? First, because they serve as a diagnostic tool to assess how we’ve been doing. Second, because they serve as directional guides as we look ahead to where we need to grow. Put simply our goals force us to ask a very important question. Are we successful? Or to ask the same question using biblical language, “Are we fruitful?” It is this question that Peter takes up in this passage. He does so by asking two key questions. First, “Why do we need to grow?” and second, “Why do we fail to grow?” By answering these two questions, Peter teaches us the key to fruitfulness. We need to grow because without it we become ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus. (v. 8) In other words, we fail to make every effort to lay hold of all the blessings we’ve been given by grace through faith in Christ. (re: v. 3-4) We fail to grow because we forget the gospel. (v. 9) Forgetting the gospel is vividly illustrated in the phrase “so nearsighted that he is blind.” (v. 9) The implication is fruitfulness follows remembering the gospel! Why should we make every effort to remember the gospel and thereby grow in the qualities Peter lists? Because it’s worth it! (v. 10-11) Think of it like this. What if all of a sudden you were given the abilities of Tiger Woods or Steph Curry or Yo-Yo Ma? What would you do with your new-found abilities? It would be unthinkable to not put those gifts to good use. It is this precise situation we find ourselves in, in light of vs. 3-4. God in Christ has given us all we need for life and godliness, that is, to be fruitful! Therefore, make every effort…to abide in Jesus!! (re: John 15:4-5)
What features of this passage stand out to you the most? What words or phrases or ideas grab your attention?
What is your reaction to the question, “Are we successful or are we fruitful?” Should we even be asking that question? Why or why not?
Why don’t we grow or increase in fruitfulness? What is your default tactic for dealing with this problem?
What is the key to fruitfulness according to Peter? (Discuss the following: the phrase “so nearsighted that he is blind” and the word “forgotten”)
Why should we try to grow? Why should we care about being successful/fruitful?
Confession of Faith: The New City Catechism, 2017
Q. 39. With what attitude should we pray?
A. With love, perseverance, and gratefulness; in humble submission to God’s will, knowing that, for the sake of Christ, he always hears our prayers.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.