Wise Counsel from a Young Pastor

mccheyne

Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne

Learn much of your own heart;
And when you have learned all you can,
Remember you have seen but a few yards
into a pit that is unfathomable.
“The heart if deceitful above all things and desperately wicked:
Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Learn much of the Lord Jesus.
For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.
He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty,
And yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief!

Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in His beams.
Feel His all-seeing eye settled on you (not in judgment) but in love,
and rest in His almighty arms.

Cry after divine knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding.
Seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure,
according to the word in Proverbs 2:4.
See that v. 10 be fulfilled in you.

Let wisdom enter into your hearts and knowledge be pleasant to your soul; so you will be delivered from the snares mentioned in the following verses. Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense
of the sweetness and excellency of Christ
and all that is in Him.
Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart;
And so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.
Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne

Grace – The Fuel for Worship

The people of God gather on the Lord’s Day to worship Him.
We do this in the power of the Holy Spirit,
out of gratitude to our Almighty God
as He is revealed himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

We humble ourselves before Him by declaring His worth,
confessing His lordship,and rendering to Him honor and glory
according to His Word.

There are many reasons to do this.
None is more compelling than grace.
God’s grace is unmerited favor from an unobligated giver.
God owes us nothing yet gives us His all —
the indescribable gift of His Son.

John Newton, who wrote the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,”
summarizes the essence of grace
in his simple yet profound testimony in his latter years:

“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things:
That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!”

May we embrace Newton’s testimony as our own and delight to cherish this grace ourselves and commend it to others!

Two Alternate Paths to Take in Life

thoreau_1050x700Henry David Thoreau, in his classic Walden, sets forth two alternate paths that lie before each of us: One is broad, common and natural. The other is narrow, uncommon and supernatural:

 

” The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation
and go to the grave with the song still in them.
What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
A stereotyped but unconscious despair
is concealed under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.
However, I would fain improve every opportunity
to wonder and worship as a sunflower welcomes the light.”

Advent is a season to “improve every opportunity to wonder and worship” our Savior who is Christ the Lord!

Worship – A Dress Rehearsal for Eternity

Every Lord’s Day serves as a dress rehearsal for life in our eternal home in heaven. Gabe Statom, our Minister of Music, has written a wonderful treatment of this in his book, Practice for Heaven. How wonderful to know that history is moving towards a great end: The worship of the one, true, living God. This is the goal and climax of human history. How do we know this?

Revelation 7:9 describes the heavenly scene:

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

1 Peter 2:9-10 informs us that worship is not only the goal of human history, but also the goal of our salvation We are saved “to declare his excellencies” (1 Peter 2:9). If worship is what God has saved us for, then it is worship to which we ought to zealously devote ourselves. It should be the most important activity of our earthly lives

A steady zeal for worship comes as we remember why we worship. According to 1 Peter 2:9, there are three reasons why we praise the Lord:

  • He has “called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
  • He has made us His people.
  • He has given us great mercy.

John Calvin offers this rationale for why we should reflect on how indebted we are to God’s mercy: “Men will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey Him with suf cient zeal, until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy ”

Word-Saturated Worship

Scripture suffuses every part of our worship services.

  • We call one another to our awesome task of worshipping God with Scripture.
  • We sing God’s praise with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in order to make God’s Word memorable and vivid.
  • The Spirit uses God’s Word to convict us of sin and to show us our fresh need of His forgiveness and grace.
  • We use the precious promises of God’s Word to assure us of His pardon.
  • We give attention to reading His sacred Scriptures because faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
  • We preach His Word because, through it, God chooses to save and cause some to be spiritually reborn (1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Peter 1:25).
  • Also, His Word equips us to live for Christ and to make an impact His kingdom during the perilous times in which we live (2 Timothy 3).
  • Lastly, God sends us out with His blessing to serve a needy world. This benediction comes from His Word!

Why do we make such a big deal about the Word saturating all of our worship? Because… “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24).

Through the eternal, profitable, inerrant, and living Word of God, we hear and receive “the good news” by which we experience eternal salvation. Therefore, it is imperative that we carefully prepare our hearts to give our undivided attention to His Word when we gather with God’s people to worship Him!

Prepare Your Heart for Worship

Here is a simple prayer to pray through and reflect upon as you prepare to worship God personally and with others. It is based upon the beautiful hymn: “May the Mind of Christ My Savior.”

Almighty God, may my worship of you cause the
mind of Christ to be more fully present in me
this week so that I may think your thoughts
and do your deeds.
May Your Word dwell in me
so that I delight to do what You command.
May Your peace so umpire my life that I am
progressively set free from anxieties and fears.
May Your love so fill me that I am empowered
to love others that may prove difficult to love.
Lastly, may Your beauty rest on me in such a life
transforming way that others might truly see
Christ in me and be drawn to Him. AMEN.

Another way to do this is to turn this into a prayer of confession of sin.
Here is an example:

Almighty and Gracious Father,
Your Word says that You have given us the mind of Christ
so that we can think Your thoughts and do Your deeds.
Forgive us for allowing worldly-mindedness to creep in –
causing sin to seem normal and holiness to seem strange.
Pardon us for filling our lives with so many other things
rather than Your Word.
We confess that anxiety and fear rule us rather than Your peace.
We acknowledge that envy and greed fill us rather than Your love
We lament that a spirit of despair rests upon us instead of Your beauty.
So transform us that others see Jesus in us and are drawn to Him.
For we make our prayer in His matchless name, AMEN.

A Three-fold Cycle of Worship

There is a notable pattern to many of the worship encounters that we find in the Bible. For example, the prophet Isaiah’s encounter with the great God of heaven in Isaiah 6 offers us a three fold cycle for corporate and personal worship: Praise-Pardon-Petition. This pattern serves as a broad structure to our church’s worship services.

A vision of the one, true, living God leads us to awe and reverence as we declare “our God is mighty” and “worthy of all praising.” This leads us to acknowledge our unworthiness and how we have not gladly submitted to His kingship. A true knowledge of God always leads to a true knowledge of ourselves. Therefore, we candidly and specifically confess our sins to the Lord and experience His pardoning grace. Experiencing His generosity moves us to become generous in offering all that we are and have to Him.

Then our service moves into a cycle employing the various means of God’s grace. We turn to the Scriptures and devote ourselves to reading and preaching them. We give ourselves to intercessory prayer and to the sacraments so that we receive God’s needed grace to strengthen us spiritually.

Our service concludes with a hymn of commitment where we renew our resolve to lead others to our Savior. Then, we receive the benediction as the Lord sends us forth to serve Him just as He sent the prophet Isaiah long ago (See Isaiah 6:8).