We continued our series from Acts 20, called “O Precious Church.” We are reminded that Jesus’ love is not just about love for us as individuals, though He certainly does love us individually. He has a supreme love for the church.
In Acts 20:17-27, Paul begins his “farewell” message to the elders at Ephesus. As he does, he points to his past examples of (1) faithful “slaving” (Acts 20:19), (2) faithful motives (v. 20), (3) faithful witness (v.21), and (4) his faithfulness to the Gospel (v. 21). Paul also points to his future prospects, and in doing so, exemplifies his trust in God during future trials (v. 22-23). He trusts that his own life is of no value, but only that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed (v. 24). His ultimate source of confidence is in the sufficiency of God’s word (v. 25-27).
It was a sweet time of worship in which we celebrated the Lord’s table together, heard from God’s Word, and sang songs of praise together.
Among our songs of worship were:
1. Open My Eyes
4. Alive In Us
What a great joy it is to gather together as a church! I trust you were encouraged by yesterday’s service.
In the message we learned that the local church was a plan and purpose of Christ and God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, from eternity past. (the message will be posted by Tuesday at http://www.fbchurch.org/media/sermon-audio) From passages in Isaiah 53:10-12, Mark 10:45, and Acts 20:28, we saw that Christ purchased the church (the “many”, not just the individual) because He values it…we should, too. Christ’s purpose for the church is to display His glory (Ephesians 3:7-12, 20-21). We do this practically by promoting and protecting Gospel truth (1 Timothy 3:14-15), displaying our new lives in Christ (1 Peter 2:9-12), and being His ambassadors to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20). Christ’s plan for the church is to create and establish: a living body that loves each other (Ephesians 2:16), a family out of foreigners (Ephesians 2:19), an institution that grows (Ephesians 2:21), a movement of enduring sacrifice (Ephesians 5:1-2), and a Holy Bride (Ephesians 5:25-27, 29-30, 32).
We loved celebrating the baptism of one of our Russians brothers, Sergei Avdeyev.
Songs sung in worship were: “Because of Your Love“, “My Savior Lives“, “There Is No Other Name” (recording coming!), “Jesus, Firm Foundation“, “Man of Sorrows” (one of our new songs), and “Endless Hallelujah.”
We’re praying for you this week as you strive to live your lives in the strength and grace that God supplies…
Dear ones, as we begin this new year, please be encouraged in your life of prayer by this devotional thought by C.H. Spurgeon. It comes from his classic book of devotions, called “Morning and Evening”.
“Continue in prayer.”
— Colossians 4:2
It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob—there a Daniel who prayed three times a day—and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises.
What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.
Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”
This Sunday we will welcome new members during a time of recognition both services. It’s always a joy to join our lives together in committed service and growth in the local body. That’s what membership is all about. As Dan has said in the past, “becoming a member says that ‘I am here for you, and you are here for me’.”
The choir will be sharing special music with us. In this month in which we set aside time for giving thanks, it is good for us to remember “All His Benefits.” This beautiful piece is based on the opening verses of Psalm 103. You can preview the song here.
Several of our worship songs will be based on the Psalms. Our opening song, “Oh Magnify the Lord”, is based on Psalm 34:1-3. “God My Rock” combines the themes of several Psalms.
Dan will continue preaching from Acts 17. Here’s a preview:
We’ll close our time of worship singing an FBC favorite, “Come Ye Sinners”, followed by a song that looks forward to our heavenly home, “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks.”
I’m praying for you. See you Sunday…
Yesterday was a particularly sweet time of worship with the body of Christ at FBC. We celebrated the Lord’s table together by coming together in family groups. As one commenter on Facebook said, “Dads leading families in prayer is always a good thing.” I trust that you were blessed and encouraged by our time together.
Keep your eye out for upcoming posts discussing the hymn, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.” I love this story of our life in Christ, with all its joy and all its suffering, so beautifully expressed in this song. I hope you will take advantage of the posts to dialogue with me about it.
A few key points from Dan’s sermon on Acts 17:16-21:
1. Worship is the most important thing I can do; worship is the thing I am doing right now.
2. “Worship is displaying from my heart, by thoughts, word and actions (and investments), what is of supreme importance to me.”
3. True worship is the ultimate motive and aim of gospeling (preaching the Gospel).
4. Anyone who takes God’s perspective will be provoked when God is not worshiped in spirit and truth.
5. Am I provoked by the false worship within me?
Am I zealous for God’s glory? Do I feel injured for God when He doesn’t get the worship He deserves?
What could my day by day conversations look like if I was consumed by Christ’s glory?
Our worship team is coming up with some great new arrangements of familiar worship songs. Yesterday was no exception, with the debut of a new take on “You Are My King.” Please pray for us as we are attempting to get into the recording studio to make recordings of these that we can share with you all.
Remember to be praying for the persecuted church around the world.
I’m praying for you this week…
We will be celebrating communion this Sunday, so be prayerfully preparing your hearts for this time of worship. Again this month, we will be coming to the table together, moving from our seats in the auditorium in families and groups. We encourage fathers to lead their families in receiving the elements. As always, use our guidelines for who can take communion. As you move to receive the elements, the worship team will be leading in song, “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken.” We encourage you to sing along as you feel comfortable doing so. Once everyone has returned to their seats, we’ll sing “You Are My King” together.
The sermon passage for this week is Acts 17:16-21, Paul’s arrival in Athens. We learn that Paul was disturbed by the idolatry exhibited there. I spoke with Dan today about how Paul’s motivation for sharing the gospel was rooted in the desire to see the true God worshiped.
Other songs of worship this week will be:
“Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven” (this video is of the songwriter, Matthew Smith, performing an “acoustic” version)
I’m praying for you this week. See you Sunday…
I’m back in the office today after two weeks away. I am so thankful for Tim Widmer and Jacob Wilkinson and the whole FBC worship team!
I only got to see Tim lead via a video recording of the service. I love his contagious enthusiasm and his tender heart. I trust you were all blessed by his leadership. Thanks also to Juli White for singing the lovely hymn, “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul.” I don’t have a recording of her to post, unfortunately, but you can hear another recording if you click here.
I was encouraged by the worship team yesterday. I particularly enjoyed singing “Your Name”, then reflecting on Psalm 61. Thanks for leading us in that, Jacob…
Why don’t you take a moment right now to listen?
Gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Remember who you are in Christ. Rest in His goodness and grace. Act in faith.
I’m praying for you this week…