Most people don’t like to talk about sin, especially our own personal sin. However, talking about sin is necessary to lead us to the Savior. As it’s often said, the bad news has to come before the good news. And the greater we understand our sin, the greater we see the cross of Christ and the more glorious the empty tomb.
Nevertheless, sometimes talk of sin and our depravity can leave us discouraged. That should not be the case. As John Newton wrote:
Humbled I ought to be, to find I am so totally depraved; but not discouraged, since Jesus is appointed to me of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; and since I find that, in the midst of all this darkness and deadness, he keeps alive the principle of grace which he has implanted in my heart
It is inseparable from us, as the shadow from our bodies when the sun shines upon us . The holiness of a sinner does not consist in a deliverance from it, but in being sensible of it, striving against it, and being humbled under it, and taking occasion from thence to admire our Savior, and rejoice in him as our complete righteousness and sanctification.
Holy Father, you have given us another day of life. As we look up into the sky we are reminded that it hangs in the balance but by your sustaining grace. On every continent, today, people will worship, because we were made to…we can’t help but not worship. Creation declares your glory.
Your word comes to us like a bright and shinning shaft of light in the midst of darkness. It revives and restores our soul as it teaches us through your Spirit to ride on a circuit like the Sun. It teaches us how to run our course like the strong man, with joy in our hearts. And it shows us where to go to find grace as we are confronted with our many wrongs. It shows us how the Redeemer can become OUR Redeemer. We Praise you for your Word…and we praise you for the Word that became Flesh and dwelt among us, Christ Jesus the Lord…our true and living hope…the One on whom we have all things.
You are full of splendor and majesty….and your righteousness endures forever. How kind of you to extend a pathway to peace for rebels like us…thank you.
Thank you that in Christ you forgive all the sins of those that trust in the person and work of Christ. Thank you that ALL of your promises are YES in Jesus. Thank you that though we were lazy and slothful towards you this past week, you see the work and energy of your Son bestowed upon us. Thank you that, though we were sometimes disinterested in you, Christ’s interest in your glory, gets counted to us. Thank you that while there were times our actions were shameful…that Christ took that shame that we might become the righteousness of God. Whom do we have in heaven but you? Teach us, Lord to delight in the Supremacy of your Son. It often times seems so distant to some of us.
We fiddle about with work and travel, hardly taking time to notice…this is not home. How comfortable we have become…have mercy on us. Thank you, that heaven is reserved for men/women who have tasted that sweet elixir of grace. How we need it every day.
Thank you Lord for the many here that are striving after faithfulness every day. From the people like G.P. & N.T. that invited neighbors, co-workers, and strangers to follow the Gospel. Thank you for the Mom’s who labor, some of them working a full time job in the day, coming home to love their child and their husband and you. Give them the energy they need, Lord. Thank you for the many faithful Fathers in this congregation that told their sons and daughters and wives this week that they loved them. Thank you for the ways they lead in prayer and sacrificial service. Thank you for the hands and feet of this congregation that has likely moved more people from one location in the city to another than some moving companies…and never with complaint. Thank you for the homes that were opened up where meals were prepared and conversations were had amongst a group of people that would make no sense unless Christ is truly king. Thank you for the those that chose to step up and make disciples among children. Thank you for those that showed up early to pray, this morning. Thank you for those that serve us in song, and those that serve us in facilitating sound. Thank you for the many who give of their money sacrificially in order that this church might continue providing the light of the Gospel to NW DC and beyond.
Fill our ranks with even more, Lord. Give us more men and women in the latter halves of their lives to teach the young people how to finish well. Give us men and women in the prime of their working careers in order to show the young people how to work hard and love Jesus. Give us more people like B and D…who will go into the baptismal waters today in order to swear their allegiance to Christ!
The amount of good things and good works that you are doing in and through this church is all in and through your grace and by your infinite mercy. We are nothing but dirty rags…and yet you throw us like sails to the wind in order that this tiny ship might blow and pick up weary passengers that long to make it to their heavenly home. Thank you.
Lord, as we consider our city, we pray for Mayor Bowser as she and her staff try and make sense of the increasing homicide rate of our city. Grant wisdom and direction to her and her team and help them to curb the violence that has caused more than 100 people to be murdered senselessly in our city this year. Grant comfort and care to those families that are mourning the loss of loved ones. We pray for Anacostia River Church that sits in the middle of where so many of those murders occurred…give their people opportunities to speak into that community so that they can show them the way to peace.
As we think about murder, Lord, we also pray for the unborn. Our prayer is not simply to bring down an entity…our prayer is for the hearts and minds of those that think it wise to terminate the lives of children in the womb. We ask that you would turn their hearts and cause them to see that children are a blessing…that life is precious and worth preserving…help them to see that even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Finally Lord, we also want to intercede for those who are suffering under persecution in places like Vietnam and in Khartoum, of Northern Sudan. Specifically for the 19 year old girl that was whipped for having gone to church…as she heals, would you give her comfort in this time? In the horror of that tragedy, would you even remind her of the lashes of her Lord and how they were able to heal her from all of her sin. Have mercy on our brothers and sisters that are being persecuted even as we pray, right now, in Northern Sudan. Replace that government with a peaceful government that will encourage justice and peace for your children.
Give grace to our brother Joey this morning as he comes to deliver us your word. Give him freedom to preach the word. Give us eyes and ears to see the meal that you through our brother have prepared for us. May we receive it with great gladness and be full. Thank you for Jesus Christ. Point us to Him as we listen…show us that there is no King that is better than Him.
“What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
The stone building sits amid a lawn overgrown with weeds. The signs facing the street, indicating the pastors and Bible classes, haven’t been changed in almost a decade. The walkway leading up to the wooden doors are cracked and crumbling.
And the congregation that meets in this building is not in much better shape.
The elders at the church claim to serve the surrounding community of Barlanark, a district within the Scottish city of Glasgow. But there seems to be little concern for who shows up on a Sunday morning, the weekday Bible studies have ceased to meet and the heralding of the Gospel is blatantly absent from the pulpit.
This isn’t a new state of affairs for the church either, leaving a people completely devoid of the Gospel and Biblical knowledge. Nor did it seem like an uncommon phenomenon among Scottish churches.
A team from Restoration Church recently returned from a trip to this church where we were able to help two youth pastors put on a Holiday Club for the neighborhoods kids.
These pastors, Pete Bell and Pete Stewart, as well as their families, will soon leave this dying – if not dead – church to prepare to plant a new, Gospel-preaching church in Barlanark with the support of 20Schemes.
The Holiday Club, similar to our Vacation Bible School, was their last contribution to the congregation, and for many of the children and teenage leaders who participated, it may be the last time they hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
By the end of the week – after working with the kids in the Holiday Club and leading Bible studies with the teens – it was evident how little knowledge or true belief existed in the community. Many of the children and teens belonged to families that once attended the church services for years, yet the Gospel was absent. The families could sit through service upon service and still not hear of Christ as Savior nor learn why Jesus served as a sacrifice for our sin.
As a believer in a healthy, Gospel-preaching church I cannot understand how complete Biblical illiteracy could be so rampant among individuals who could attend any number of churches in their neighborhood.
You expect to find unreached people in isolated, poorer countries. You expect to find the unreached in India or any number of African or Middle Eastern countries. You do not expect to find them in countries that seem so similar to the United States, or at least have a similar history.
And yet, here was a group of unreached people in a small neighborhood near Glasgow’s city center. A people who desperately need someone to tell them the truth.
Fortunately for them, there will soon be a church preaching the Truth. But that’s not the case for every group.
Jesus commands us, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15).
So go to the unreached. Yes, go to India, China, Iraq, Africa, or Haiti if that’s where God is calling you.
But there are still the unreached in Scotland. There are still the unreached in D.C. proper. There are still the unreached in your apartment building. Don’t forget to go there too.
A church building does not mean the Gospel is present.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation; the Sovereign eternal ruler of all things; the gracious Redeemer of his people. Yes, Lord, we praise your holy and awesome name. You are the everlasting God. You reign forever. You are our strong deliverer. Praise the Lord all that is within us adore him and him alone.
Jesus we praise you this morning, for you defeated sin and conquered death. Holy Spirit we praise you this morning, for you breathe life into dead souls and seal us for the day of redemption. Holy triune God, we gather here this morning and sing your praise and declare your goodness and hallow your name.
Fill us with a deep delight and fresh joy in Christ. Father, we pray for those here this morning struggling with discouragement and despair. Remind them of your steadfast love. Some of us here this morning cry out from the depths of our soul, “How long of the Lord, how long will you forget me and hide your face from me?” Would you mightily minister to those crying out to you in this way. From your word give them a fresh hope, a confident assurance.
For those of us this morning that find ourselves walking joyfully in Christ, spur us on all the more. Give us the grace to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ. Enlarge our capacity to more fully delight in the supremacy of Jesus.
We thank you Lord for the abundance of your grace evident among us. We praise you for Matt and Lynn and the many ways they serve our body. We thank you for the hospitality of Jim and Laurie. We praise you for Christ exalting gifts you have given to Michelle and Matt and Jodie and Mike and so many others. We thank you for the selfless service of Joseph and Elaine and Ruth and of Ryan and Sarah. Continue to use every member of this body to build each other up into maturity in Christ.
We praise you that there is forgiveness and reconciliation in Jesus; we confess our sin. We are not perfect; far from it. This past week alone we have been harsh to others and unfairly critical to puff ourselves up. We’ve loved our jobs and our paycheck more than you. We’ve looked at pornography. We lied to protect our kingdom while neglecting to seek your kingdom and your righteousness. We’ve doubted your goodness and neglected you acting as though we are independent from you. We confess and repent of these sins.
We plead the blood of Christ, and praise you that because of his finished work on the cross and victorious resurrection we are reconciled back to you. We praise you that because of Christ and in the power of your Holy Spirit we can live joyful lives fully pleasing to you in every way. Help us Lord rejoice in this glorious news of salvation and satisfaction. Cause us to be a people that exude joy and happily serve others because of the love that you’ve shown us.
We pray this glorious gospel would continue to resound forth us not only from Restoration but also from Redemption Hill and Capitol Hill Baptist and GraceDC. Also use McLean Bible and National Community Church and Redeemer Arlington to faithfully proclaim Christ and make disciples. Grant our brother Wright Wall at All Nations DC and Shawn and Thomas at Pillar DC the perseverance to plant gospel churches. We praise you Lord that there are several other gospel churches here in Washington DC laboring to make much of Jesus.
Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, give your people in this country, and all around the world, the courage and the wisdom to stand up for all your image bearers. We pray in the name of Jesus for an end to human sex slave trafficking. We pray in the name of Jesus for an end to racism. We pray in the name of Jesus for and end to abortion. We pray in the name of Jesus for an end to terrorism. We pray in the name of Jesus for an end to religious persecution. Raise up men and women who will fight for the vulnerable. Help us seek the good of all people, even those who disagree us, even those who fight against us. Raise up government leaders who will pursue justice and rule with wisdom. Do this, Father, for the good of all humanity we pray.
Continue to use our time of worship this morning, O Lord, to mold us and shape us. As we sing, as we pray, as we listen to the preaching of your word, do a work in us so that we do not leave this place without being changed. We ask all of this in the powerful name of Christ, the name that is above every name. Amen.
Father, we gather here this morning in the name of Jesus Christ. We gather to hallow your great and glorious name. You, O Lord, are faithful never forgetting your promises, never forsaking your people. We come this morning to behold the wondrous mystery of the gospel. We come to behold a rugged cross; we come to behold an empty tomb and we rejoice that Satan is defeated, sin is conquered and death is swallowed up in victory.
Holy triune God – Father, Son and Spirit – we praise you this gospel message is advancing. We praise for you the gospel unity of our church, and the ways you’re using this church to proclaim the excellencies of Christ. For your namesake, O Lord, use our ministry at Friendship Terrace to exalt Christ. Use American Friends to see people come to faith in Jesus. Use every member of Restoration to zealously and boldly make disciples that delight in Jesus.
We praise you for our mission trip to Scotland this past week. We pray that all those who heard the gospel would repent and believe. Grant saving faith to A and J, M and D. For the glory of your name, save and sanctify D and N and C. We pray for those children living in broken, messy homes. Grant them grace to know you as the perfect, loving Father in heaven. Use the few Christians – M, J, S, L, and S – to labor alongside P and C, and P and L. For the glory of your name, advance the gospel in Barlanark. Use 20 Schemes to plant gospel church among Scotland’s’ poorest.
We also pray for our dear brother and sister, R and E, in Duhok. As turmoil brews all around continue to grant them safety. We praise you that their city continues to be safe and a place of refuge. Give them wisdom as they seek to care for the flood of refugees physically and spiritually. Help R and E to continue learning the language. Give them grace in their parenting and patience with each other. As they learn the language and meet others in their city, bring people to faith in Jesus. Raise up disciples and pastors and healthy churches among the Bedhini Kurds we pray.
Holy Sovereign God, we pray to you this morning pleading for an end to the global turmoil. We pray for peace to swallow up persecution. We pray for the leaders around the world: for Barrack Obama, Vladimir Putin, David Cameron, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ahmet Davutoğlu, the leaders of NATO. Father, give these leaders wisdom and a sense of divine justice that they might use their influence and power to serve and protect your image bearers. We pray for our enemies. We pray for the leaders of ISIS and Al Qaeda and Boko Haram and the Taliban. Bring these wicked and ruthless leaders to repentance and faith in Jesus. Just like you did with the Apostle Paul, turn these leaders from gospel haters to gospel heralds. Do this Lord, we pray, for the glory of your name and the good of your people.
Father, we thank you that we live in a nation of peace where we can worship openly and freely; where we can voice our agreements and disagreements with our government and leaders. Give us the grace to respect those in charge even when we disagree. And give us the graceful boldness to stand up for what is right, godly, and good. We pray that we’d use our freedom to protect the unborn, those image bearers still in the womb. We pray that we’d use our freedom to promote a view of marriage and sexuality that benefits all of your image bearers. We pray that we’d use our freedom to serve those with less material resources.
Cause us to not take this freedom for granted and be complacent in our worship and following of Jesus. Give us the grace to use the freedoms we have to build each other up and spread the gospel. We praise you for ways the members of this church seek to actively live out the gospel day after day. We praise you for the many servants in this church. Father, in particular, we praise you for our brother R and sister R, and thank you for the countless ways they have built up the body. Give them grace as they move to Seoul. As they settle in, help them find a gospel community where they can serve and be served. Build them up in their marriage that they might increasingly reflect Christ and the church.
Lord, use the rest of our time this morning to help us behold Jesus Christ. By the indwelling Holy Spirit, give us a deep and abiding joy in Christ. Do this as we sing of gospel truth, listen to the preaching of the Word, and through the fellowship of the saints. We pray this all in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
O Lord, we come to this table confessing and forsaking our sin. We confess our idolatry and vanity. We confess that we often seek ultimate pleasure and comfort apart from you. We confess that we look for ultimate happiness in our spouse or in unhealthy longings for a spouse. We confess that we look for happiness in money and material possessions, in illicit sex, or in getting drunk or using drugs, or in power grabs for personal authority.
We have been selfish and gossips. We have been prideful, anger and unforgiving. Forgive us Lord. We plead the blood of Christ. Give us the grace to not just be remorseful, but truly repentant turning to Jesus for satisfaction and salvation.
We praise you that there is no sin big enough, no shame deep enough to keep us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We praise you that Jesus is the sum of Psalm 15. We rejoice in our blameless Savior who ascends your holy hill; who speaks only truth, even to his own hurt. We praise you that though much evil was done to Jesus, he did no evil to his neighbors, but instead laid his life down that he might call us brothers and sisters.
As we come to this table, give us a fresh understanding and awareness of this sin-shattering, life-defining, hope-giving grace found in Christ Jesus. As we celebrate this meal, we look to our great High Priest, Jesus Christ the all-sufficient Priest who died a criminal’s death. And we praise you that our Great High Priest not only atoned for our sins, but rose again and ascended to the heavens to make intercession for his people.
Use this meal to comfort the distressed; to replenish the weary; to call back the wayward; to clean the conscience of the shamed; to spur on the encouraged. We come eating and drinking to remember what our High Priest Jesus has done, is doing, and look forward to the great banquet feast where we will sit in the holy place in the presence of the holy One. Amen.
Oh God, you are faithful…faithful as the moon and sun in the sky. Faithful as the changing of seasons and the flowing of rivers…your faithfulness knows no end.
By your Faithfulness you led Abraham from Mesopotamia and took him home to the Land you promised him. By your faithfulness you gave him a son when all seemed lost. Your faithfulness raised up another son who gave another son that eventually gave rise to a people that number as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, again, just as you promised…you were faithful.
In your faithfulness you led them into Egypt to find food, and by your faithfulness you heard your people’s cry for help and you delivered them out by the blood of an unblemished lamb…passing them through the baptismal waters of the Red Sea and eventually back into the Land that you faithfully promised to their forefathers. You are faithful.
You faithfully delivered to your people the Law. You faithfully raised up laborers to build a Temple and in your faithfulness you set your presence in their midst, just as you promised them long before. Your faithfulness led you to raise up kings and prophets that spoke the Truth and reminded them of their waywardness and your faithfulness.
Till eventually…just as you told Adam and Eve at the beginning…some hundreds and hundreds, even thousands of years passed and your faithfulness delivered your Son…just as you promised. The Son of David, the Son of Abraham…born of a Virgin, come to deliver us from all of our faithlessness.
What joy is found in we faithless people petitioning you, the Faithful God of whom we have rebelled. To know that you not only welcome, but are glad to hear from us, invigorates ours hearts and minds. Sometimes we wonder why you would be willing to spend so much to bring us home to you, knowing that we are so often faithless and you, so faithful.
So, with broken hearts and, some of us, tear filled eyes and glad hearts, we ask your forgiveness. Like that Prodigal son…we are back again at your doorstep this morning, pleading your grace and forgiveness and oh what Joy there is to know that you so freely offer it!
We pray your forgiveness on our slothfulness…how slow we are to cultivate a love for you when you have done so much to quicken a love for us. We pray your forgiveness for the ways we have used our time, money, and talents this week. Many of us hardly gave a thought as to how we used them, forgetting all the while that we have nothing that was not given to us by you…forgetting that every resource was lent to us out of the storehouses of your glory. Have mercy on us.
Forgive us for where our minds drifted this week and forgive us for entertaining the prospect of sin in crude jokes, gossip, slander, and idolatry. You tell us that we are to be a City set upon a Hill for all to see. A people that are Holy…set apart, not conforming to the world, and too often we conform out of a desire to be accepted and approved by the very same world that hung up your Son to our shame though He had done nothing but love.
How thankful we are that you remain faithful in our faithlessness. How thankful we are that you will forgive our every sin as we lay claim to the work of Christ.
How thankful we are that, even though we are so often like babes in our faith, you are patient with us and show us a better way after we have wandered off the path of life. How thankful for the ASSURANCE of Pardon…thank you that we do not have to perform to earn your favor, since our hope is in Christ who faithfully performed the works of the Law though we do not. May Christ’s faithfulness move us into a faithfulness of our own as it is drawn from the well of your grace and empowered by your spirit.
God…many of us are despondent this morning. In your faithfulness, would you image forth your smile upon those that are…and may the picture of your love for us move them into a hope so strong that the fog of despondency lift!
Many of us are anxious. Remind us of your faithfulness and that no amount of worrying can add a single hour to our span of life. And may that fact cause calm and gladness to the anxious.
Many of us feel shame. Remind us that Christ was shamed FOR US, so there is no need to feel any shame for our sin…remind us that you are SO HAPPY to call us sons/daughters…Remind us that we are no longer defined by our sin, but by our Savior as we hope in Him.
Many of us are full of fear. Fearful of the prospects of dreams not coming true, jobs not being all that we had hoped, relationships not working the way we had thought, and life being more difficult than we thought they would be. Full of fear to share the good news to a world that seems increasingly hostile to it…Remind us that no weapon formed against Christ will stand. May we live in that confidence.
God…we are your people and you are our great shepherd. Lye us down in green pastures and lead us next to still waters and restore our souls. Lead us in paths of righteousness for your names sake. We confess the strong pull of our own names and our own preservation and our own acceptance and our own comforts…we want…we NEED you to birth in us a better hope than the lies we are told. Birth it in us by the reminder of your faithful and tender love.
Lastly, Lord we pray your faithfulness would be born in the hearts of this newly formed marriage in Matt and Kat. Oh how glad we are to consider your faithfulness to bring them together. Now lead them on to be faithful as they begin their work together as one.
And Lord, may your faithfulness lead the team that leaves for Scotland on Thursday. Make us bold in evangelism and eager to serve the poor and destitute. And bring us back here to testify once again to the faithfulness of your abiding love. Do it, Lord, for your glory. Make much of yourselves in the remaining portions of this service and even into this afternoon and into tomorrow for your glory. Amen.