FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition…. If I become content by having my desire satisfied, that is only self-love; but when I am contented with the hand of God and am willing to be at His disposal, that comes from my love to God. – Jeremiah Burroughs
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Genesis 17
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing - Adoration
Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder - Adoration
The Gospel is Good News Indeed - Grace
The Lord’s Prayer
He Leadeth Me - Response
God is My Refuge and Strength - 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 Jude.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
This past week elders from all over the country met in Atlanta, GA for the 46th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. One of those elders, Pastor David Coffin, writes a review of the week after each assembly. If you would like to get a sense of what took place you may do so here.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Jesus, I Come
Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come; Jesus I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my wanting and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
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
1And you weredead in the trespasses and sins…4ButGod, beingrich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - Genesis 16
1. Our point of contact: Frustrated Hopes
2. The temptation to strategize rather than trust
3. The God who sees
The Heart of the Message
So often in the biblical story and in our own lives, God’s promises seem to clash painfully with our lived experience. Abram and Sarai are 85/86 and 75/76 years old respectively as we come to chapter 16. They have lived in Canaan, the promised land (see Gen. 12:1-3), for 10 years. Yet God still has not seen fit to give them a child. Sarai is frustrated and hopeless but unwilling to give up and so hatches a plan to make up for God’s tardiness and/or failure (v. 2-3). However, this plan leads to a host of negative consequences: pride, blame-shifting, and indifference (v. 4-6). But the real problem of this story is the unwillingness of all involved to submit to God’s promise; or put positively to believe God’s promise. Nevertheless, God, through his messenger, pursues Hagar in her desperate flight from Sarai to Egypt. He is the God who sees us in our fear, pride, rebellion, and unbelief (v. 13). But there is a problem. We are no different than Abram and Sarai in our frustrated hopes. What hope is there for people like us? The good news is God doesn’t just see us, he comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who perfectly trusted God and believed him even to the point of dying on the cross. Jesus faced the reality of his life saying, “let this cup pass from me, but not my will, your will be done.” (Mk. 14:36) Jesus believes God’s promises for us and in doing so bears the penalty of the judgment we deserve. He is THE seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16) through whom we receive God’s blessing promised to Abraham!
- What features of this passage stand out to you the most? What words or phrases or ideas grab your attention?
- What is an example of frustrated hopes in your life? How did you/are you responding to those unfulfilled hopes?
- What do you learn about God from his interaction with Hagar in verses 7-16?
- Why do you need Jesus to face your frustrated hopes and still have hope?
Confession of Faith: The New City Catechism, 2017
Q. 24.Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?
A. Since death is the punishment for sin, Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God. By his substitutionary atoning death, he alone redeems us from hell and gains for us forgiveness of sin, righteousness, and everlasting life.
Colossians 1:21–22And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.