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Archive for the Sermon Preview Category


Sep 7

Creation in the Psalms

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Preview

This Sunday Ryan will return to his series through the Psalms, Pour Out Your Heart to Him, with the first of three sermons from what are sometimes called, “Creation Psalms.” This kind of psalm draws on the colors, sounds, things, and realities of creation to show us the beauty, majesty, sovereignty, and saving power of the Creator.

For example, consider how Psalm 96 calls on all of creation to praise God, showing the breadth of God’s sovereign and gracious rule:

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord,
for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

To help you prepare ahead of each Sunday, here are the texts for the next three weeks:

Everyone lives in God’s world, and everything God made points to him. But we need divine revelation to overcome the hardness of our heart toward the Creator revealed in creation. With that in mind, this would be a great time to invite a friend to join you at church. May God do a great work to glorify him in our church and in the lives of those we bring, to show himself great as Creator, and as Redeemer!

For a refresher on the nature and purpose of the Book of Psalms, here’s an excerpt from the “Introduction to the Psalms” by Jack Collins from the ESV Study Bible.

The Psalter is the songbook of the people of God in their gathered worship.

These songs cover a wide range of experiences and emotions, and give God’s people the words to express these emotions and to bring these experiences before God.

At the same time, the psalms do not simply express emotions: when sung in faith, they actually shape the emotions of the godly. The emotions are therefore not a problem to be solved but are part of the raw material of now-fallen humanity that can be shaped to good and noble ends. The psalms, as songs, act deeply on the emotions, for the good of God’s people. It is not “natural” to trust God in hardship, and yet the Psalms provide a way of doing just that, and enable the singers to trust better as a result of singing them. A person staring at the night sky might not know quite what to do with the mixed fear and wonder he finds in himself, and singing Psalm 8 will enrich his ability to respond.

The Psalms also provide guidance in the approach to worship: at times they offer content that is difficult to digest, calling on God’s people to use their minds as well as their hearts and voices.

They show profound respect for God as well as uninhibited delight in him.

They enable the whole congregation to take upon themselves, to own, the troubles and victories of the individual members, so that everyone can “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

They enable God’s people more fully to enjoy being under his care, and to want more keenly to be pure and holy, seeing purity and holiness as part of God’s fatherly gift rather than as a burden.

You can purchase a copy of the ESV Study Bible online or at our newly refreshed Resource Center which will reopen on Sunday, September 16.

Jul 20

Piper: Ten Preparations for Sunday Morning

After a short bout with shingles last weekend (many thanks to Trent for pinch-hitting!), I’m eager to get back to and wrap up our mini-series of praise in the Psalms. This coming Sunday, Lord willing, we’ll look at “The Aims” of praise, according to the Psalms.

Here are a few things you could do between now and Sunday AM to make the most of your time with others and the Lord.

You could read through and seek to apply these 10 suggested preparations for Sunday AM from John Piper:

1. Pray that God Would Give You a Good and Honest Heart

The heart we need is a work of God. That’s why we pray for it. “I will give you a new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). “I will give them a heart to know Me” (Jeremiah 24:7). Let’s pray, “O Lord, give me a heart for you. Give me a good and honest heart. Give me a soft and receptive heart. Give me a humble and meek heart. Give me an fruitful heart.”

2. Meditate on the Word of God

“O taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). On Saturday night, read some delicious portion of your Bible with a view to stirring up hunger for God. This is the appetizer for Sunday morning’s meal.

3. Purify Your Mind by Turning Away from Worldly Entertainment

“Putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). It astonishes me how many Christians watch the same banal, empty, silly, trivial, titillating, suggestive, immodest TV shows that most unbelievers watch. This makes us small and weak and worldly and inauthentic in worship. Instead, turn off the television on Saturday night and read something true and great and beautiful and pure and honorable and excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Your heart will unshrivel and be able to feel greatness again.

4. Trust in the Truth That You Already Have

The hearing of the Word of God that fails during trial has no root (Luke 8:13). What is the root we need? It is trust. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream.” Trusting in the truth is the best way to prepare yourself to receive more.

5. Rest Long Enough Saturday Night to be Alert and Hopeful Sunday Morning

“All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). I am not laying down any law here. I am saying: there are Saturday night ways that ruin Sunday morning worship. Don’t be enslaved by them. Without sufficient sleep, our minds are dull, our emotions are flat, our proneness to depression is higher, and our fuses are short. My counsel: decide when you must get up on Sunday in order to have time to eat, get dressed, pray and meditate on the Word, prepare the family, and travel to church; and then compute backward eight hours and be sure that you are in bed 15 minutes before that. Read your Bible in bed and fall asleep with the Word of God in your mind. I especially exhort parents to teach teenagers that Saturday is not the night to stay out late with friends. If there is a special late night, make if Friday. It is a terrible thing to teach children that worship is so optional that it doesn’t matter if you are exhausted when you come.

6. Forebear One Another Sunday Morning Without Grumbling and Criticism

“They grumbled in their tents; they did not listen to the voice of the LORD” (Psalm 106:25). Sunday morning grumbling and controversy and quarreling can ruin a worship service for a family. When there is something you are angry about or some conflict that you genuinely think needs to be talked about, forebear. Of course if you are clearly the problem and need to apologize, do it as quickly as you can (Matthew 5:23-24). But if you are fuming because of the children’s or spouse’s delinquency, forebear, that is, be slow to anger and quick to listen (James 1:19). In worship, open yourself to God’s exposing the log in your own eye. It may be that all of you will be humbled and chastened so that no serious conflict is necessary.

7. Be Meek and Teachable When You Come

“Receive with meekness the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Meekness and teachability are not gullibility. You have your Bible and you have your brain. Use them. But if we come with a chip on our shoulders and a suspicion of the preaching, week after week, we will not hear the Word of God. Meekness is a humble openness to God’s truth with a longing to be changed by it.

8. Be Still as You Enter the Room and Focus Your Mind’s Attention and Heart’s Affection on God

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). As we enter the sanctuary, let us come on the lookout for God, and leave on the lookout for people. Come with a quiet passion to seek God and his power. We will not be an unfriendly church if we are aggressive in our pursuit of God during the prelude and aggressive in our pursuit of visitors during the postlude.

9. Think Earnestly About What Is Sung and Prayed and Preached

“Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). So Paul says to Timothy, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). Anything worth hearing is worth thinking about. If you would take heed how you hear, think about what you hear.

10. Desire the Truth of God’s Word More Than You Desire Riches or Food

“Like newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). As you sit quietly and pray and meditate on the text and the songs, remind yourself of what Psalm 19:10-11 says about the Words of God: “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”

Of course, if you’ve missed any of the three previous messages on praise on the Psalms, you could also get caught up today or tomorrow. We’ve looked at “The Basics” of praise, “The Ingredients” of praise, and “The Form” of praise.

You could remind yourself a few of John Wesley’s “Directions for Singing:”

Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, then when you sung the songs of Satan.

Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually….

Or you could simply read one of the most exultant Psalms, Psalm 145. This coming Sunday we’ll be all over the Psalms, but we’ll give special attention to this crescendo of the Psalter.

And, of course, pray! Pray that God would help us come eager, expectant, and exultant. Pray, “satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psa. 90:14). I’m praying that for you now.

Apr 20

Sunday Preview: May God Bless Us!

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Preview

This Sunday, we will return to our series, Pour Out Your Heart to Him: A Study Through The Psalms, with a sermon by Ryan from Psalm 67.

In the translation of Hebrew poetry, we do lose some of its original beauty. For example, if we were to translate an English poem with a memorable rhyming scheme, that would be lost in translation, since words that rhyme don’t translate to words that rhyme.

As you look forward to Sunday morning, read and pray this version of Psalm 67, adapted for meter and rhyme:

God be merciful and bless us;
shine upon us with your face,
That the earth may know your actions
and all lands your saving grace.

O God, may the people praise you;
may all the people sing your praise.
For you judge the nations justly,
ruling over every race.

May they sing with joy and gladness;
may they all rejoice as one.
O God, may the peoples praise you
as they all unite in song.

Then the land will yield its harvest;
God will pour his gifts abroad.
God, our God, will surely bless us;
All the earth will fear our God.

– From Sing Psalms: New Metrical Versions of the Book of Psalms (Free Church of Scotland, 2003).

Mar 1

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?” – Psalm 42-43

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Preview

This Sunday, Ryan will be back in the pulpit preaching from Psalm 42 and 43, two psalms with several familiar lines. For example, 42:1 reads, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

But if you read these two psalms together you’ll notice a refrain repeated three times, in 42:5, 42:11, and 43:5.

Why are you cast down,
O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

The psalmist asks a good question. And he gives himself a good answer. Of course, we all need to do this kind of thing. Perhaps you would write this down on a note card and keep it near you from now through Sunday.

Dec 17

Psalm 23

2011 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Sermon Preview,This Sunday

This Sunday, we’re looking at the psalm of the shepherd, Psalm 23. Invite a friend to come along at 9:00 or 10:45 AM.

The Lord is my shepherd; no want shall I know.
He makes me lie down where the green pastures grow;
He leads me to rest where the calm waters flow.

My wandering steps he brings back to his way,
In straight paths of righteousness making me stay;
And this he has done his great name to display.

Though I walk in death’s valley, where darkness is near,
Because you are with me, no evil I’ll fear;
Your rod and your staff bring me comfort and cheer.

In the sight of my enemies a table you spread.
The oil of rejoicing you pour on my head;
My cup overflows and I’m graciously fed.

So surely your covenant mercy and grace
Will follow me closely in all my ways;
I will dwell in the house of the Lord all my days.

– From Sing Psalms: New Metrical Versions of the Book of Psalms (Free Church of Scotland, 2003).