Preparing our Hearts to Worship
In an effort to help you prepare for the July 2nd, 2017, Sunday morning corporate worship gathering and to aid you in your own reflections on the Life of Elijah. I wanted to pose a few questions and provide a few resources to prayerfully consider over the coming days. Our sermon is entitled, “Reclaiming Hearts: Elijah at Mt. Carmel”. The main Scripture for the day is 1Kings 18:17-40. 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
Read and prayerfully reflect upon some or all of these Scriptures. Ask God to shape your life and your church’s life to match the heart of God:
Read or listen to 1Kings 18:17-40, Luke 6:45, Lev 9:24, Num 15:5-10.
(You can read or listen to all of these passages in a variety of translations at Bible.is.)
From the Creeds and Confessions
Belgic Confession Article 16
Article 16: The Doctrine of Election
We believe that—
all Adam’s descendants having thus fallen
into perdition and ruin
by the sin of Adam—
God showed himself to be as he is:
merciful and just.
God is merciful
in withdrawing and saving from this perdition those who,
in the eternal and unchangeable divine counsel,
have been elected and chosen in Jesus Christ our Lord
by his pure goodness,
without any consideration of their works.
God is just
in leaving the others in their ruin and fall
into which they plunged themselves
Belgic Confession Article 17
Article 17: The Recovery of Fallen Humanity
We believe that our good God,
by marvelous divine wisdom and goodness,
seeing that Adam and Eve had plunged themselves in this manner
into both physical and spiritual death
and made themselves completely miserable,
set out to find them,
trembling all over,
were fleeing from God.
And God comforted them,
promising to give them his Son,
born of a woman,32
to crush the head of the serpent,33
and to make them blessed.
Canons of Dort Main Point 5 Articles 6-10
Article 6: God’s Saving Intervention
For God, who is rich in mercy, according to the unchangeable purpose of election does not take the Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does God let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by God, into eternal ruin.
Article 7: Renewal to Repentance
For, in the first place, God preserves in those saints when they fall the imperishable seed from which they have been born again, lest it perish or be dislodged. Secondly, by his Word and Spirit God certainly and effectively renews them to repentance so that they have a heartfelt and godly sorrow for the sins they have committed; seek and obtain, through faith and with a contrite heart, forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator; experience again the grace of a reconciled God; through faith adore God’s mercies; and from then on more eagerly work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.
Article 8: The Certainty of This Preservation
So it is not by their own merits or strength but by God’s undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost. With respect to themselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to God it cannot possibly happen. God’s plan cannot be changed; God’s promise cannot fail; the calling according to God’s purpose cannot be revoked; the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified; and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.
Article 9: The Assurance of This Preservation
Concerning this preservation of those chosen to salvation and concerning the perseverance of true believers in faith, believers themselves can and do become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith. By this faith they firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Article 10: The Ground of This Assurance
Accordingly, this assurance does not derive from some private revelation beyond or outside the Word, but from faith in the promises of God which are very plentifully revealed in the Word for our comfort, from the testimony of “the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are God’s children and heirs” (Rom. 8:16-17), and finally from a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works. If God’s chosen ones in this world did not have this well-founded comfort that the victory will be theirs and this reliable guarantee of eternal glory, they would be of all people most miserable.
From the songs, hymns and spiritual songs of the Church
Lift up your hearts unto the Lord (PH#309): Lyrics
For Thoughtful Reflection, Prayer, or further Study
How have you seen God reclaim your own heart when it has strayed?
How does God work through Elijah to invite the people back into worship?
What role does prayer play in reclaiming the hearts of the Lost?
Read and reflect on Ligonier’s Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
Read and Reflect: Elijah on Mount Carmel
Watch The Bible Project’s 8 minute summary of 1-2 Kings
The Sermon will be available online on July 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm.