Jesus reserved his strongest words, His harshest rebukes, for the self-righteous Pharisees in His day. At one point, when these legalists asked Jesus why His own disciples did not adhere to their regulations regarding hand washing, Jesus told them that they were the living embodiment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 29:13. “You hypocrites!” Jesus said. “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me…’”
On Monday this week at the Getty Music Sing! Conference in Nashville, John Piper cited that verse as he challenged all of us to ask ourselves if we have ever been guilty of honoring God with our lips while our hearts were far from Him. Have any of us ever been guilty of hypocritical, Pharisaical vain worship?
I’ve had times at church when I’m singing praise to God while I’m distracted with other things. I’ve had times when my love for God is thin. In other words, I’ve had times when my heart was far from God.
Because of my role and the Sing! Event this week, I had the opportunity, along with the co-emcee of the event Trillia Newbell, to visit with Dr. Piper about his message. And because I thought you’d be interested in the conversation, I asked if I could get access to the video clip.
They said yes. I hope you’ll take 10 minutes and watch.
|I’m encouraged to know that I’m not the only one who has to, from time to time, realign my heart, repent, and with joy and love offer my praise and adoration to the God who loves me and who has rescued me from my sin.
Are you ever guilty of the same problem that faced the church of Ephesus in the first century? That’s the church Jesus rebuked for having lost their first love (Revelation 2:4). He told them that they were to return, repent and do the works they did when their relationship with God was fresh and new. It’s a good place for any of us to start when our own hearts are weary or heavy.
The good news is that when we repent and rekindle our love for Jesus, He is always there with open arms to restore to us the joy of our salvation.
One of my prayers for our church is that we would be known as people who worship God passionately – with heart, soul, mind and strength. Having come from the Sing! Conference, I am freshly aware that God’s Spirit is at work among His people. I saw thousands of men and women who responded to great hymns and the powerful preaching of His word with joy and thanks and love poured out to God. Would that as we gather for worship each week, we would be passionate worshippers of our God.
I’ve shared this quote before, but it’s one of those gems I turn back to often. It’s from the great Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle, who reminds us that our hearts need to be engaged as we draw near to God.
“Let us never forget this: However much the world may sneer at ‘feelings’ in religion, and however false or unhealthy religious feelings may sometimes be, the great truth still remains behind, that feeling is the secret of doing. The heart must be engaged for Christ, or the hands will soon hang down. The affections must be enlisted into His service, or our obedience will soon stand still. It will always be the loving workman who will do most in the Lord’s vineyard.”
Let’s be loving workmen. Not Pharisees who worship God with our lips while our hearts are far from Him.
Thanks to all of you who completed the recent church survey. We will be reviewing the responses in the coming days, and we will plan to share what we learn with you.
FALL SMALL GROUPS
Things really get into gear next week at Redeemer.
First, our small groups will be re-connecting after a summer hiatus. If you’re not part of a small group, you’re missing out on a vital part of what it means for us to be members of one another at Redeemer. Small groups are where we connect, love, serve, pray for, encourage, challenge, support… well, you get the idea.
Here’s info on when and where our small groups are meeting this fall. And as always, if you have any questions about small groups, contact Pastor Matt.
WOMEN’S EVENTS AT REDEEMER
|Also ladies, the Fall Women’s Gathering happens this Monday, September 12. Click here to register so we can know how many to expect that evening.
|And the Fall Women’s Bible Study in the book of Proverbs begins the following Monday night, September 19.
|And registration is now open for the Fall Women’s Retreat, November 11-13. You can click here to reserve your spot! Any questions about any of these activities, see Jen Gurney.
BAPTISM CELEBRATION | sUN SEP 18
|A week from this Sunday, September 18, we’ll be gathering at 4:00 pm as a church to witness several people, young and old in our church, who will be making a public declaration of their faith in Christ by being baptized. We’ll be gathering at a pool here in town for a potluck, swim party and baptism celebration all rolled into one big event.
|If you are interested in being baptized and have not yet contacted Pastor Matt, please connect with him this week with any questions you have or to let him know you’re interested.
MEN’S STUDY | BOOK OF HEBREWS
Looking for an opportunity to connect with other men and study God’s word together? Here’s info about a study in the book of Hebrews that’s happening starting next week on Thursdays at lunch time. There is more info on the study, along with registration information here.
GOSPEL ZONE | 6-11 YEARS OLD
|Remember, Gospel Zone for kids is now open three Sundays a month, including this Sunday!
AWANA – WEDNESDAY NIGHTS
|And great things are happening with kids in Awana, every Wednesday night at church.
|We are move back to our ongoing study of the Gospel of John this Sunday. We’ll be in chapter 16, in the middle of Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse, where He is preparing His disciples for life and ministry after He has ascended to heaven. And perhaps the most important thing the disciples need to know is that even though Jesus will be gone, the age of the Spirit is about to begin. And when the Holy Spirit comes, watch out!
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!