Worship Guide :: Sunday July 5

On behalf of Lake Osborne Presbyterian Church, I wish you and yours a very, happy Independence Day weekend. I continue to thank God for the privilege it is to live in this great country and for the freedoms we enjoy as one nation, under God. I continue to thank God for the men and women in uniform that serve and protect those freedoms. I continue to thank God for the Christian foundation this nation was built upon, and though we have strayed from such foundation in many ways, continue to pray that the Lord would lead us back as only he can.

As you celebrate this weekend, take a moment to thank God for his goodness and generosity to us as a nation, and take a moment to pray for our governing authorities (Rom. 13) that God would grant them the wisdom they need, and that they would ultimately be vessels of his sovereign will.

Call to Worship:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:1-2)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for setting us free in Christ from the curse of our sin.  Thank you for transferring us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of your marvelous light.  Thank you for transforming us from slaves of sin to your redeemed and sanctified sons and daughters.  We pray that you would now be pleased with the offering of worship we bring you, this day.  In Jesus name, amen.

Song:

“I Choose to Worship” – Rend Collective

Call to Confession:
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Gal. 5:13-14)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we again thank you for the freedom you have given and we enjoy in Christ Jesus.  We thank you for purchasing us, as your own, through the precious blood of Christ Jesus.  Yet, Father, we confess that too often we do not use our freedom to serve you, to further your kingdom, to love our neighbor, but instead we look only to ourselves and our own interests.  Father, forgive us, we pray, and empower us afresh through your Spirit to do your will.  In Jesus name, amen.

Assurance of Pardon:
“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through Jesus forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)

Song:

“Only A Holy God” – CityAlight

Prayer:
Our Father and our God, we praise your name once again this day.  We praise and thank you for the freedom we enjoy and the blessing it is to live in the United States of America, we think especially of that gift this Independence Day weekend.  We thank you for those who have gone before us, and for those who continue to serve and make such freedom possible.  Father, at the same time, we express sorrow and concern for the ways in which our country has drifted from its founding principles.  We express sorrow and concern for the ways in which, we as a country, too often use our freedom to indulge the flesh and not to follow after your ways.  We pray Lord for revival, we pray Lord for a return in this country to our Christian foundation.  Father, we pray now, especially in these most volatile and uncertain times – times stricken by viruses and division – for your grace and peace to come and rest.  We pray for your Gospel to go forth and transform lives that we, as a people, might follow after you and forsake our sinful ways.  Only your Spirit can bring the transformation we need.  Only your Spirit can bring true life, liberty, and love to our land, so we ask for you to please do it, in the name of Jesus.  Now, Lord, as we turn to your timeless Word, we pray for your blessing, guidance, and application to our lives.  In Jesus name, amen.

Reflection:
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Closing Song:

“All My Ways are Known to You” – CityAlight

Please remember to support your local church during this time.
You can give online by clicking here or
through sending tithes and offerings by check, through mail to the church address: 

Lake Osborne Presbyterian Church
2101 Sixth Avenue South
Lake Worth, FL 33461

 

Midweek Bible Study – James 4

James 4 (ESV)

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Reflection:

4:1-12
This chapter bears much resemblance to many portions of the Sermon on the Mount and shares many of the same concepts (see the cross-reference in the beginning of this study). In verse 2 we can’t be sure if James is addressing a literal murderer or is instead equating covetous, evil desires in one’s heart with murder just like Christ does in the Sermon on the Mount.  In either case, James is making it clear that evil dwells deep within the heart of every man and that is why the Gospel is so desperately needed to provide the saving cure and life-long remedy.  We must always remember that the Gospel is not just for non-Christians to become saved, it is not just the ticket into Heaven, but rather is also the continuing life-blood of the Christian.  The Christian must preach the Gospel to themselves anew everyday, not to become saved again (for genuine salvation is a one-time thing) but rather to continually re-orient oneself with the redemptive mission of Christ.

In verse 4, James uses “friendship with the world” language that must be clarified.  James does not call Christians to not be friends with unbelievers, for that would contradict Christ’s own actions, and how then would one evangelize?  Rather, James is saying that Christians must not be “friends with the world” in the sense of buying into the world’s standards and values and running after the same priorities.  John Piper once said that the reason people don’t ask us to give “an account for the hope that is within us” is because all too often Christians look like they are hoping in the same things the world is.  James calls the church to be at odds with the world’s misguided or corrupted priorities (for example we live in a Me-first society, yet the Gospel tells us the first shall be last and the last shall be first) yet still “friends” with the world in the sense of our arms being open to minister the Gospel.

This realization also has bearing on verse 12 which advises against judging one’s neighbor. This sounds very politically correct in our relativistic society but we must dig deeper.  This doesn’t mean Christians can’t have convictions and standards.  Rather, we learn elsewhere from Paul that as Christians we are called to be “fruit inspectors” examining one another’s lives inside the church, making sure we are practicing what we preach. We are not called to judge our unbelieving neighbors, for Romans 1 tells us that those without the Spirit will by nature act wickedly. Only after one has claimed to have God’s Spirit within them should we judge (examine in love) and inspect, urging one another toward Godliness.

4:13-16
James offers us in his own words a poignant reminder that, “the grass withers, and the flower fades, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”  James reminds us that each day is a gift granted by the Lord and that each tomorrow is one more outpouring of God’s grace.  As the children’s song reminds us, “He holds the whole world in his hands” and he also is sovereign over every one of our days – no matter how many or how few.  As a result, we must acknowledge the fact that we are not the commanders of our own destiny, and when we do acknowledge this there is great liberation.  There is great comfort in knowing that the God who spoke the cosmos into existence has control over our lives and not us frail sinners who cannot even tame our own tongues!  Therefore, the Christian does two things.  First, the Christian focuses on today, heeding the words of Christ when he told us not to worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself and today has enough worries of its own. The Christian focuses on today, embodying the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) when he taught us to only ask for daily bread, relying on the Lord each day for new provisions.  If he gives us an abundance which can be stored (or better yet, given to others) praise the Lord!  If he only gives us enough for day to day, also praise the Lord!  Secondly, though the Christian makes plans for the future and is prudent, he always does so with the continuing realization that God is in control and not us and whatever He wills (not us) comes to pass.  Therefore, we should put James’ words into practice literally and whenever speaking of the future say, “If the Lord wills…”

Worship Guide :: Sunday June 28

Call to Worship:
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, though we ourselves live in uncertain times, though we ourselves live in a world that shakes and teeters, though we live in volatile, unstable days, we thank you and praise you that through faith in Jesus Christ we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  We thank you that you have firmly planted us on the solid ground, the rock of Jesus Christ.  Father we ask that your grace and peace would continue to permeate this unsettled world and that it would continue to expand your kingdom of light.  Yet, today, as we draw near to you in worship, we pray that you would encourage our hearts and you would accept our praise through Jesus, for you alone are worthy.  Amen.

Songs:

“Build Your Kingdom Here” – Rend Collective

“O Praise the Name” – Hillsong Worship

Call to Confession:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we thank you that we do not live this Christian life alone, we do not run the race set before us alone, but you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses – those men and women of the faith who went before us, and those who continue this day alongside us.  Father, may we remember that in our times of need this day and in these challenging cultural moments.  Father, we confess and ask your forgiveness for the times where we stumble and falter and fail to run as we have been commissioned to do.  We confess and ask your forgiveness for the times where we do not cast aside the weight of sin and diligently run after you, but allow ourselves to be bogged down and detoured instead.  Father, would you remind us of Jesus, we pray, who ran and followed perfectly, who endured infinitely more difficulty and trial than we ever will, and who authored, and perfected our faith.  Help us to continue to fix our eyes on him, more and more each day, in Jesus name, amen.

Assurance of Pardon:
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

‘This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,’

then he adds,

‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Heb. 10:11-18)

Song:

“King of Kings”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your word which continues to speak with power today.  Father, thank you that you have not left us alone but have surrounded us with that great cloud of witnesses, and also have given us the gift of your word which remains forever.  As we consider it now, we ask for your blessing.  We pray this in Jesus name, amen.

1 Peter 2:6-10

6 For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

8 and

“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Reflection:
Last week we noticed the imagery Peter uses in chapter 2 of stones to describe believers. He said that we are “living stones” who through faith are being built into a spiritual house or temple, laid upon the foundation or cornerstone, which is Jesus Christ. This talk of “stones” by Peter, whose own name means “rock” thanks to Jesus’ commissioning of him, reminds us that the Christian faith begins with Jesus – as he is the Alpha, the starting point, the originator, the cornerstone of our faith, and he is the Omega, the end goal of what we are to be about, who we are to put on display to the world as his spiritual house, his living temple. This again, gives us great dignity, worth, and purpose. Through faith, we are not faceless nobodies, we are not just bodies in the pew, but as we mentioned last week and continue to see this morning – we have been built into a new kind of temple (the church universal) where Jesus and his ways should be put on grand display and we have been commissioned as a new kind of priesthood (2:5) that offers to God a sacrifice of praise, because the sacrifice for sin has been made fully and finally by Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest who passed through the Heavens (Heb. 4:14).

In verses 6-8 of todays passage, Peter elaborates a bit more on the Living Stone that is Jesus Christ who was “rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious” (2:4) by identifying him with the Cornerstone language in places like Isaiah and the Psalms from which he quotes. This is important for several reasons.  First, notice that both Jesus earlier in the chapter (2:4) is called “the” living stone and we are also “living stones.”  This is a reminder that all we are is derivative from God.  When we are saved, when we are regenerated, we are connected to Christ in whom we “live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We are members of the body, of which he is the head (1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 4:15). Christ is our all in all.  As living stones connected to and derivative of “the” Living Stone, we are to image him here on earth, be his ambassadors.  As the songs says, “I am his, he is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

Secondly, in these verses, Peter continues the apostolic tradition in the New Testament of deliberately detailing that the arrival of Jesus and the work of God for all mankind in the New Covenant was not a detour or fork in the road of God’s plan, but was foreshadowed and sprang from a foundation that had been laid in the Old Testament and was always intended to be built upon (think again of the living stone image), finally and fully, in the arrival of Jesus and the institution of the Church. This is where we think again, even, of the words of Jesus to Peter whereby Jesus promises he will build his church upon the “rock” of Peter’s faith and all who follow after him (Matt. 16:18).  How comforting, assuring, empowering, and encouraging it is to know that when we are a part of the church of Christ, we are members of so much more than the local congregation we attend on Sundays.  We are a part of the New Covenant edifice that God has built on the cornerstone first laid in Zion, a cornerstone that one either unites their lives to in faith, or stumbles over in unbelief (1 Cor. 1:23), but an edifice that grew out of Zion to include men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation, and threads its way through every period in history. This edifice may suffer harm, this edifice may at times fall into disrepair, or even be thought to shuttering its doors, but it will always persevere and stand the test of time, for it is built on a sure foundation, that of Christ, and it is an unshakeable kingdom (Heb. 12:28) whose builder and architect are God (Heb. 11:10).

Lastly, in this passage Peter continues the trend he started from the beginning of the letter of employing beautiful, meaningful imagery as he applies it to our identity in Christ.  Not only are we living stones, but he tells us we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.”  This is as incredible today as it was when Peter wrote it.  Recall, he is writing to a mixed congregation of Jewish converts, Gentile converts, and everything in between.  So it continues today, that the church of Christ is a melting pot, a beautiful mosaic, and it is this very living, breathing, organism that Peter says is a chosen race, chosen solely by God’s grace.  We are a royal priesthood, as was noted in last week’s passage and again today, commissioned for the work of offering to God a sacrifice of praise through Jesus.  We are a holy nation, made up of every skin color, ethnicity, and demographic, all bearing the image of God, and so it is that the church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (as I said two weeks ago) remains the only hope for the world and the only true source of reconciliation and equality that we seek.  We are a people for God’s own possession, meaning we belong to him and he to us, we are part of the divine family which is an amazing and humbling reality, but that identity is granted to us that we might then, “proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  This remains our function and calling today. God’s grace has transformed us.  God’s grace has transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of marvelous light.  Now, we are called to be agents of transformation to the world, proclaiming that grace to others.  We are called to be agents of light in dark world, extending the kingdom of Christ, far as the curse of sin is found.  May God grant us the power to do just that, through his Holy Spirit, amen.

Closing Song:
(This is a familiar song, but Anna sent this different video of it being played in the quarantine of homes, which Hillsong called the “Church Online Version” and I agreed with her that it is special and meaningful.  It shows that worship continues, no matter the location or context!  Thanks be to our God.)

Please remember to support your local church during this time.
You can give online by clicking here or
through sending tithes and offerings by check, through mail to the church address: 

Lake Osborne Presbyterian Church
2101 Sixth Avenue South
Lake Worth, FL 33461