Preparing our Hearts to Worship
In an effort to help you prepare for the January 14, 2018, Sunday morning corporate worship gathering and to aid you in your own reflections on God’s Story of Salvation, I wanted to pose a few questions and provide a few resources to prayerfully consider over the coming days. Our sermon is entitled, “God Builds a Nation.” The main Scriptures for the day are Genesis 12-13; 15-17; 21-22; 32-33; 35. The other passages are either referenced in the message or provide additional insight for reflection.
(Pick and choose from the many resources and options, which I have tried to make available for your devotional life.)
From the Scriptures
Please read through Chapter 2 of The Story this week. This is a lightly edited selection of Scriptures from Genesis 12-35 that seeks to maintain the broad story line of the Scriptures.
From the Creeds and Confessions
Belgic Confession Article 24
We believe that this true faith, produced in us by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates us and makes us new creatures, causing us to live a new life and freeing us from the slavery of sin. Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned. So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls “faith working through love,” which moves people to do by themselves the works that God has commanded in the Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by God’s grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification— for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place. So then, we do good works, but not for merit— for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not God to us, since God “is at work in [us], enabling [us] both to will and to work for his good pleasure” —thus keeping in mind what is written:
“When you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done.’“
Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works— but it is by grace that God crowns these gifts. Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work. So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.
Heidelberg Catechism Q124
Q124: What does the third petition mean?
“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” means: Help us and all people to reject our own wills and to obey your will without any back talk. Your will alone is good. Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to, as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.
1 Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1-2; Tit. 2:11-12
2 1 Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9
3 Ps. 103:20-21
Heidelberg Catechism Q28
Q 28: How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?
We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love. For all creatures are so completely in God’s hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.
1 Job 1:21-22; James 1:3
2 Deut. 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:18
3 Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38-39
4 Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28
From the songs, hymns and spiritual songs of the Church
For Thoughtful Reflection, Prayer, or further Study
Read and reflect on this devotional entitled “Abraham and Isaac: Obedience.”
The Sermon will be available online on January 7, 2018 at 12:30 pm.
Disclaimer: Reference to a particular article or website does not constitute endorsement or agreement with everything in that article or on that website.