Rockport Sermon

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"God Be Gracious to Us and Bless Us" But Why?

“God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us that Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.”
Psalm 67: 1-2

Psalm 67 is about missions! It’s a cry for God’s blessing. But unlike so many who cry for God to bless them, the Psalmist is not thinking only of himself He has a much greater goal in mind. He prays that God would bless us and be with us, not so we can be blessed, but so that through us the nations might hear and know and worship God as He deserves to be known and worshiped!

This has always been the motive behind the saint’s desire for the blessing of God. God does not bless us so we can hoard the blessing to ourselves. He blesses us that we might be a link in the chain He ordains to bring the blessing of Christ to others through the preaching of the Gospel.

We saw this in the call God gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 (That sermon can be found here) when He said, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing and all nations on earth will be blessed through you!” Clearly God doesn’t bless us so we can look in the mirror and say, “How wonderful to be blessed?” God blesses us so that other nations and people we’ve never met might be blessed through us! How? By hearing and responding to the Gospel of Christ that we preach and send to them through missions! This has always been God’s plan. It was God’s plan for Abraham. It was also His plan for Isaac and, as we’ll see this morning (Rockport Sermon for 12/12/10), for Jacob and his sons as well! Indeed, the Bible itself is a missionary book! It’s a call for us to realize what God is doing in our lives. He is blessing us for the purpose of making His glory known and enabling us to carry His Good News to the ends of the earth so that “all peoples” and “all nations” may hear and be glad in Him!

May God enable us to orient our lives and our church to that holy calling as we remember to give and pray for and go on mission until the whole world has heard and acknowledged the Salvation that has come in Christ!!

Don’t forget to make missions a part of your giving this year!
Pastor Scott Lee

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Song of Assurance

We were talking about assurance in our C-Group last week, from Romans 8, when I remembered an old Welsh hymn I once heard Martyn Lloyd-Jones quote. I couldn't recall the words exactly, so i looked them up. It can be sung to the tune of "Come Thou Fount". There are other verses, also, but I can't seem to find them right now. I hope this is a blessing to someone.


Sung to the tune of Come Thou Fount


Speak I Pray


Speak, I pray, Thou gentle Jesus.

O, how passing sweet Thy Word.

Breathing o’er my troubled spirit

Peace that never earth affords


Tell me Thou art mine,O Savior

Grant me an assurance clear.

Banish all my dark misgivings

Still my doubtings, calm my fears.


O my soul within me yearneth

Now to hear Thy voice Divine

So shall grief be gone forever

And Despair no more be mine.


Tell me Thou art mine, O Savior

Grant me an assurance clear.

Banish all my dark misgivings

Still my doubtings, calm my fears

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Reformation Day!

So many, today, are unaware of the great significance of October 31st. Greater than Halloween (or Pumpkin Day), for it was on October 31st, 1517 that God used a timid young monk to begin one of the greatest revivals in history: The Reformation. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Apostle Paul wrote, in Romans 1:16-17,

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed,
a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:
"The righteous will live by faith."

When he read these words, nearly 500 years ago, they stunned the young monk who's name happened to be Martin. Up to that point, he’d been taught by his Church that salvation came as a result of his own efforts to be righteous by doing good and trying his hardest to keep the commands of the Law laid down by the priests and bishops. And try, he did – as hard as any man could. He fasted. He prayed. He wept. He confessed his sins. Yet still he was plagued by doubts and tormented by the guilt of his sins. It nearly drove him mad!

How could he, sinner that he knew he was, ever hope to be righteous in the eyes of God! That was his problem. He knew his sin. He knew God was holy. He understood that even if he did manage to purge the sin from his life (as impossible as that was!) and even if he did come to the place where he could believe he was righteous 98% of the time, with only 2% sin remaining, still he knew he would fall short of God’s perfect standards. What could he do? When told by his superiors that he must simply “Love God”, in the agony of his soul he cried out,”Love God? Sometimes I think I hate Him!”

But God had mercy upon young Martin. He was assigned the task, by one of his superiors, of teaching the New Testament. And there, in the book of Romans, God opened his eyes and let him see the simple, life-giving truth of the Gospel – that God gives the righteousness He requires freely, as a gift, to all who put their faith in Christ alone to save them. Not by works! Not by religion! Not by morality! Not by ritual! But by grace alone through faith in Christ, sinners may be saved!

That realization changed everything for Martin, who’s last name was Luther. He began to share the good news with others, thinking it would find as welcome a home in their hearts as it did in his. It was that drive to let others know what he had found that drove Luther, on that cool October day, to post his 95 Theses (95 points of debate he wished to raise about the religious system of his day). He thought his publication would lead to a lively debate among scholars and perhaps even a return to the truths of Scripture for some. Instead, it touched off a firestorm that would erupt into the Protestant Reformation. Europe would never be the same. Millions who came to faith through his preaching and the preaching of those who followed him would never be the same. And now 500 years later I, as an heir of the Reformation, can never be the same.

The message that God used to open the eyes of a terrified monk, has come home to me as well. By faith in Christ I know that my sins are forgiven, and I have been accepted by God as righteous, not because of any good thing I have done, but because of the finished work of Christ received by faith! It is my hope that this same message will come home to you as well. There is hope for every sinner, who by faith will repent of his sin and trust in Jesus, God's Son, by Grace, through faith alone.

Oh! What a rich mercy!

Pastor Scott Lee

Monday, October 18, 2010

Psalm 32:6

The following few bits is taken from Thomas Watson's "Godly Man's Picture."  I pray that it might be a blessing to you as well!

Aaron

For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee. Psalm 32:6

David at the beginning of this psalm shows us wherein true happiness consists; not in  beauty, honour, riches (the world's trinity), but in the forgiveness of sin. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven" (Psalm 32:1)

Here are the basic points made by Watson:

1.  Forgiveness of sin is an act of God's free Grace (Isaiah 43:25)
2.  God, in forgiving sin, remits the guilt and penalty (Genesis 3)
3.  Forgiveness of sin is through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:22)
4.  Before sin is forgiven, it must be repented of (Luke 24:47)
5.  God having forgiven sin, he will no longer call it to remembrance (Jeremiah 31:34)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Private Prayer

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2


In all the ages of the world, the saints have kept up secret prayer. In spite of all opposers and persecutors, in prisons, in dungeons, in caves, in chains, on racks, in banishments, and in the very flames--the saints have still kept up secret, private prayer.

A Christian can as well
hear without ears, live without food, fight without hands, and walk without feet as he is able to live without private prayer! Private prayer is the life of our lives--the soul, the sweet, the heaven of all our earthly enjoyments. Of all the duties of piety, prayer alone is the most soul-sweetening, strengthening, enriching, spiritually fattening, refreshing, satisfying, and encouraging duty.

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace--that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

- Thomas Brooks

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rick Warren at the Desiring God Conference

So, some have asked me to comment on my thoughts regarding Rick Warren's talk at the Desiring God National Conference.  Here we go with a humble attempt to offer some (not exhaustive) thoughts concerning this.

First, I was grieved at the amount of energy, time, bandwidth, and emotion was given to using personal attacks and assumptions prior to the conference.  I remember standing in line at the conference to register and they announced that Rick Warren would not be able to appear personally because of family emergencies.  There were some in the crowd that were filled with bitter anger and were expressing this verbally because they were looking forward to the opportunity to publicly take a stand against him.  After one of the sessions there was a man with a public address system holding signs outside of the convention center condemning Rick Warren and publicly mocking him and associating him with the promotion of sin which the scripture condemns. I heard people claim that John Piper should apologize for asking him to speak. All that filled my mind at this point was "what is the watching world thinking of us biting and devouring each other?"  So many people in the conference hall next to us could see what was going on, could feel the tension of some (though not many).

With those things in mind, I attending the session that would be presented by Rick Warren via video.  He was up until midnight the night before recording this video.  Then I heard him give a talk on some practical applications based on the theme of "Think."  What I heard Rick say during this talk could not be considered heretical.  There were many things (especially close to the end of his talk) that many of us would have "rephrased" to "tickle the ears" of some of the "reformed and angry" listeners.  However, Rick Warren either did not know how to say those biblical words for which "reformed people" look for or he was not interested in using them.

Rick's talk contained a different "meter" or design then you would find from RC Sproul, John Piper, or others.  Then again, it is not proper to judge one's work on the standard of another man.  There could be a reasonable objection to the use of some of his statistics and what others perceived as "self exalting" numbers that described the amount of missionaries sent by his church. For all we know He could have been making a statement with no hint of selfish pride.  If we were a close friend of his or a mentor we might ask him about his intentions behind these statements, but the statements in and of themselves were not cause for rebuke.

In summary, I found several points very convicting and enlightening to those who are more content with our books, studies, discussion over coffee, and less familiar with being on the "front line."  Should John Piper apologize?  Well, if John Piper or the Elders with whom he serves are convicting that what has been done is wrong in the sight of the Lord, then yes.  Do I believe anything was said that is going to "shipwreck" the faith of God's elect?  Certainly not!  Would you and I say things in the same way, lead a congregation in the same way?  Probably not.  However, my dear friends, on the day of our Lord's returning we will see the results of labor.

There is more to say...but I hope that this is a gracious start.

Beloved, let us love one another

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 ESV

A group called The Rizers have recently put together some scripture memory songs and this verse is included in one of the tracks.  On a side note I would highly recommend taking time to download these songs for free and use them with your family. 

The other morning I woke up around 3:00am and could not fall back asleep.  It turned out to be a blessing because I was able to do some reading and some praying (and a few facebook posts - I must confess).  As I was praying I was also meditating on the passage from 1 John 4:7 "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God."

Love (in this verse) - agapao (greek).  The New American Standard Greek Lexicon defines this as: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of.  John Piper gives great insight to the work of such love.  He says, "Love labors to enthrall us with what is eternally satisfying, namely, God."

Beloved, may we love one another!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

From the 2010 Desiring God National Conference

We just finished our last session at the 2010 Desiring God National Conference. There are several things for which I would like to comment. I would like to encourage you to subscribe to the podcast, or listen/watch the conference online by visiting the Desiring God website.

First, I would like to encourage you to specifically listen to to the sermon by Francis Chan, on humility. This session I would have to say was the most "emotional" for me as I listened to the truth and observed the passion with which this dear brother shared the Word of Christ.

Second, and probably the main point of this post is the fact that I am grateful for the time of fellowship the Lord gives at these types of events. The Lord providentially put me in touch with Herb and John, men from different parts of the country who share of love of the Gospel and were great encouragements. Second, I am grateful for the time that I was able to spend with John and Shannon Jordan (from Tennessee), share some laughs, and encouragement in the Lord.

It is possible for us to "listen to the sermons from home" in the privacy of our own home, study, time at the gym, commute, or wherever else you listen to your mp3 player. I submit to you that there is great value in gathering together with other believers, listening to the Word being taught, rejoicing together over the truth, challenging and exhorting each other, singing together, praying together, and doing so in a context that it outside the norm of your everyday experience. We do this every Sunday when we meet together.

This leads to another point. This point concerns community groups that meet throughout the week. It is healthy for us as believers, to meet together in homes, to "wrestle through" the Word together, and to seek God's face more than just at a cooperate gathering in large numbers. Perhaps the Lord might use the written text, video, or audio (all available online) as discussion starters for your family and for your small group gatherings.

It is my hope to post a few more thoughts on here concerning missions as well as some comments on the talk given by Rick Warren.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trusting in God's Future Grace for my daughter

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV



Last night we were reviewing Olivia’s catechism questions before dinner. The question was “Does God have a body like ours?” The answer to the question is “No. God is a Spirit, infinite and eternal.” Now, for a second I was tempted to think, well are we going “overboard” with this because she doesn’t even understand these words and therefore cannot grasp their true meaning?



Isn’t this true of all of us? We teach children the ABCs and the same question could be asked regarding the reason behind this. Should we trouble our children with the learning of these items that cannot fully and completely be grasped? Of course we should because even though children do not understand fully the reason why we have letters, the significance of them, and the reason for learning the sounds of the alphabet, it serves as those building blocks upon which further development will base itself upon.



In a sense, our training our own minds with the discipline of reading through the Scripture, even though passages that we don’t fully understand, serves us in the long run by piercing our minds with that which the Lord will use in the future to bless us. Yet another example of “future grace” I would say. Sowing generously will reap a harvest of blessings upon you and your family.



It troubles me to write this post because I sense a real danger is doing this because it could cause an opportunity for pride, and could cause others to despair. Please take this as one pitiful, needy husband and father to others struggling along the way. You will not waste your life (or the lives of your children) in devoting yourself to the study of God, His Character, His attributes, His ways, and His law. By God’s grace, His eternal Word will be a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path. Though you may not see this immediately and you may not “feel” any different at the time, put your hope in Christ, not your feelings.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Missions Moment 09/05/2010

Information from the Missions Moment 09/05/2010

If you were present for this morning's service at Rockport, you received the following information. However, if you were not with us, or would like to follow up in praying for the nations, here are some ways that you can be praying for the mission "Iglesia Bautista de la Gracia."

  • Pray for Brother Marco Sanchez as he preaches not only at IBG, but also leads Iglesia Bautista Maranata in Granite City, Illinois. Pray that he would be faithful in teaching the Word of Truth. Currently pray concerning his transportation as his only vehicle is broken down and is dependent on others to assist him.
  • Pray for the believers that currently attend and for those who have returned to their home country. (We have multiple families that have returned and that are currently attending Bible-beveling congregations!
  • We praise the Lord for the generous giving that has taken place by many. The giving has provided what we believe to be Christ-honoring biblical resources such as "The Religious Affections" by Johnathon Edwards, "The Supremacy of God in Preaching" by John Piper, and many other items. In addition to this we were able to provide Pastor Marco with a copy of a set of Puritan Commentaries.
  • We praise the Lord for brother Juanito Cantu who is preparing to be baptized soon! We are going to invite the rest of Rockport to attend this special service and celebrate "La Cena del Se ├▒or or "The Lord's Supper" with us very soon!

In the "Missions Moment" today I mentioned a resource for how we might pray for nations. That resource is "Operation World" by Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk. This resource will serve well in times of personal devotion as well as family worship as a guide to remind us how we can be praying for the work of Christ throughout the world.

Some of the highlights brought about in today's "missions moment" include:

  • Most of those who attend "Iglesia Bautista de la Gracia" come from the country of Mexico.
  • According to Operation World, in the year 2000, there were 298 known languages spoken in Mexico. Of those languages only 5 had the entire scriptures translated. Forty-four had the New Testament and 98 had portions of the scriptures translated. (438) Please pray for this nation that the Lord might speed the many works in progress in this area.
  • One of the areas for potential opportunities for evangelism for the country of Mexico is the area of migrant workers.

Thank you again for praying, giving, and going. May the Word of Christ dwell richly in the hearts of people in the Spanish speaking communities both local and global.

Aaron

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More exhortations for Worship from Bro Bob Schembre

Ecclesiastes 5:2-3

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.


So many have not been taught well concerning spiritual etiquette when gathering for worship. Please consider God's word concerning this.


My first thoughts are on the word "rash". This Hebrew word "bahal" is translated "trouble" 17 times and "haste" 4 times. Think here of Jesus words to Martha. "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary." In the context of this passage our thoughts here would be concerned with reverent consideration rather than a hasty rushing in accompanied by babbling about much of nothing. Seeking the Lord quietly would do so much for our hearts preparation for worship.


So often we appear so concerned to tell all our troubles, yet we have spent little time telling the Lord about our troubles and preparing our hearts for exactly the divine encounter in His Word that may be the answer we are seeking.


This passage also spoke to me about the reasonableness of well prepared worship. Shooting from the hip is not more spiritual than well thought out, prepared and contemplative worship. It was actually Aaron hastily making the golden calf, Nadab and Abihus' hasty and irreverent offering and King Saul's brazen worship that brought the judgment of God. We are approaching GOD! We especially, as people of grace, ought to be so filled with gratitude that all we can think about is, "I am coming before the King." "I am coming to worship my King." "He is the One who has set me free." "We have an audience with the KING!"


It's time we stop looking like we are so concerned about what others think about us and focus on the reality of what is taking place as we gather to worship the LORD, the MASTER, the KING! (and that would of course necessitate arriving in a timely manner and being sensitive to distractions during worship that would draw attention away from Him and His WORD! This also requires grace and wisdom.)


There is a real difference between being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and being carelessly unprepared when gathering before the LORD. But preparation is not only the responsibility of the Elders. We ought to be both prepared and yet subjected to His Lordship. He can do whatever He wants, and if our hearts are prepared, then and only then will we be ready to yield to Him. Personal preparation is so important here.

"God is in heaven and you are on earth" speaks of the fact that He is the Creator and we are the creatures. Coming boldly into the throne room never implies irreverence.

Let your words be few.


Then, when we have ended the service with prayer, it is appropriate to leave. It is not appropriate to leave before the last Amen. Let us be considerate to all. And let us then love those who are visiting, new comers, new members and those who are hurting, with true care, concern and prayer.


All in the Love of Christ Jesus, our LORD


bob

An Exhortation from Bro Bob Schembre

I gave a brief exhortation regarding preparation for worship at our business meeting yesterday. I thought I would briefly encourage further. My mentor sent me a few thoughts, which I have expanded upon.

Ecclesiastes 5:1

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.

The concept of preparing for Worship seems lost in our busy lives. As if because God is a God of grace, we should feel fine to simply rush into His presence, having taken no thought as to how prepared we were for the encounter. As if preparation for worship was not a "real-life" need and trivial conversation with people were so critical to our spiritual lives that we ought not to leave it out. On Sunday morning we rush into the church, talk all the way through until the time we attempt to calm people down before the call to Worship and get them "focused on God", and then wonder why we didn't "sense the presence of God" this morning.


For the Puritans, preparing for worship started the night before. The Puritans were people concerned with being prepared for Worship. It was common for there to be prayer meetings on Saturday evening, simply in preparation for Sunday Morning.

The Westminster Confession states: "When the congregation is to meet for public worship, the people (having prepared beforehand their hearts thereunto) ought all to come…"

Certainly, some may give 10 or 20 seconds to prayer the morning of worship, but the question must be raised as to whether this is sufficient. We need for God to work in our hearts before the worship time ever begins.

It is God we are worshiping.

Perhaps we should consider the last few words in Ecclesiastes 5:1. "we don't know the evil we are doing".

Listen to the words of Stephen Charnock:

"Worship is an act of the understanding, applying itself to the knowledge of the excellency of God, and actual thoughts of his majesty….It is also an act of the will, whereby the soul adores and reverenceth his majesty, is ravished with his amiableness, embraceth His goodness, enters itself into an intimate communion with this most lovely object, and pitcheth all his affections upon Him" (Steven Charnock)

What is at the root of the matter is the condition of our heart. Do we even care? Our hearts need preparedness for worship. JI Packer said: "An aimless, careless, casual, routine habit of church-going is neither rational nor reverent."

Please hear this admonition. Beginning on Saturday evening, spend much time with God. Seeking His face, for His smile, crying out for the power of God on the preacher, exalting Jesus as Lord in your life, humbly submitting yourself to His supremacy, begging for His grace and for the display of His glorious majesty as we humbly and reverently gather to bow before His throne in worship, praise, prayer and preaching. We are not walking into Walmart, neither are we entering the house of God. The people of God, His house, are gathering together for Worship. When we gather, be preparing your heart for this awesome occasion. Be ready to stand trembling, yet joyfully lavishing praise on the One who has raised us from the dead and given us life.


Bob