FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
But the blessing Christ promised, the blessing of great reward, is a reward of grace. The blessing is promised even though it is not earned. Augustine said it this way: Our rewards in heaven are a result of God’s crowning His own gifts.”
For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Genesis 26:1-33
Christ the Solid Rock - Adoration
Come, Holy Ghost - Adoration
Amazing Grace - Grace
Streams of Living Water - Response
Jesus, Refuge of the Weary - Communion (new)
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.
This week check out Character in Biblical Narrative.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
For several weeks we've been experimenting with setting up the theater lengthwise. We will set up sideways this week. If you have any thoughts or feedback on setting up the theater sideways vs. lengthwise please send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. We greatly appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Jesus! What A Friend For Sinners
Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! lover of my soul;
friends may fail me, foes assail me,
he, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
he is with me to the end.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Merciful Father, forgive us the sins of our tongues—for deception and untruthfulness in our dealings with others; for resentment, coldness, impatience, and ill temper. Forgive us for the sins of our eyes—for impurity in our glances and imagination; for pining after more beauty, comfort, status, and wealth than you have given us. Forgive us the sins of our hearts—for hard-heartedness toward you and our neighbors; for pride, self-absorption, self-pity; and above all for rebelling against you and doubting your love. Father, transform us by your grace to live wholly for your glory, for it is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
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 2:1-2
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - Genesis 25:19-34
1. How People Undermine God's Blessing
2. How God's Mercy Undermines Peoples' Undermining of God's Blessing
The Heart of the Message
The story of Jacob and Esau portrays a crisis point in the history of God’s people. With so much conflict and family dysfunction, would this people survive, or would they kill each other off, and God’s blessing with them? How could God possibly bless all nations with a family like this? Many of us may feel similarly about the church today. With so many dysfunctional people within it, and so much bad history of using the Bible to promote selfish ends, how can the church possibly bless anyone? Jacob and Esau’s story allows us to wrestle with this question by showing two agendas going on at the same time. First, the characters in this story go about undermining God’s blessing in a variety of ways. Esau values God’s blessing only as long as it doesn’t get in the way of his immediate desires. Jacob is afraid of being insignificant and lets his fears dictate his behavior. And the family culture makes these issues worse with its favoritism. What a mess! Yet a mess that likely seems all too familiar in our own time. However, the book of Genesis as a whole, as well as Romans chapter 9, show us that there is another agenda at work behind the scenes: A God using all this dysfunction to display His mercy. In His divine wisdom, God chose to give Jacob His blessing not because of his maturity, but in order to show that His blessing is a gift and not something to be achieved. It is Jacob, the fearful and reactionary man, through whom God would bring His full blessing to all nations in Jesus Christ. Now, because of Christ, fearful and reactionary people like you and me can also share in God’s blessing. In other words, God’s peoples’ undermining of His blessing is in turn undermined by God as it becomes the occasion though which God showcases His true blessing: His mercy.
What features of these passages stand out to you the most? What words or phrases or ideas grab your attention?
What discourages you most about God’s people? Where are you most afraid that God’s blessing is being undermined?
How do you relate to either Jacob or Esau in your own life?
If you were to view your life as a showcase of God’s mercy, what would it change about you? What would it free you from? What new obligations would it give you?
How would God’s mercy impact how you relate to others inside the church? What about those outside the church?
Confession of Faith: The Westminster Shorter Catechism, c. 1648
Q. 5. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.