It was the fifth week of our Irresistable Influence series. The focus this week was from Isaiah 58:1-12 when God speaks to the Israelites as a whole through Isaiah about how they are totally missing what is important to God. They are so caught up in doing their religious rituals, that they have missed the true heart of God in expressing justice and mercy to the people around them. They are making a mockery of God even in their religious expressions because they have nothing to do with God at the heart of them. Because of that, God is not answering them when they call and tells them that if they truly worship Him the way He wants to be worshipped, He will show up and empower them in a huge way.
I had the opportunity to preach the message this week, and it was an adventure getting to that point. It was a challenging text to deal with because of the content and the obvious implications to the Church of today where many people think if they show up on Sunday mornings and throw a few dollars in the plate, then God is happy. I was also sick during the week, so preparation time was crunched. However, I believe that God was really present and that the Holy Spirit really spoke through me that morning. I’m very thankful.
Our service flow:
Call to Worship
Everlasting God (G) (Brown/Riley)
Holy Is the Lord (G) (Tomlin/Giglio)
Offering w/ video from Floodgate Productions – “Worship: What Is It“
Time of Reflection and Confession
Jesus Paid It All (A) (Nifong/Hall/Grape)
You Are My King (D) (Foote)
Words of Assurance from Colossians 1:13-14
Communion w/ 1 Peter 2:24-25
Special Music: “I Then Shall Live”
Reading of Ephesians 2:4-10
I was a little nervous going into the service (not only because I was preaching), but because the instrumentation was greatly reduced. I know some folks do acoustic sets on purpose. This just kind of happened, so I was changing stuff up even as we prepared to practice during the week.
During our greeting time, we again had people share something that they were thankful for from the week prior. We’re trying to do this more to be faithful to the biblical principle to begin times of worship with an attitude of thanksgiving.
I started the message talking about lighthouses and how they have been powered, with the obvious connection that an unpowered lighthouse is pretty useless. As we began to move through the passage, I started by describing the scene where it would have been delivered, and then read it to the congregation from the Message version (read it here), which is a great translation of the passage. We then moved through the tough stuff that was in there. I ended by drawing the people to focus on a time of confession and repentance, which is what the next chapter in Isaiah is about.
We then sang of God’s forgiveness through Christ in preparation for Communion. I took the opportunity to remind the congregation again of the significance of Communion to the Church throughout the ages and the huge amount of symbolism present every time we gather at the table.
The special music that followed really highlighted the fact that because we are forgiven and cleansed through Christ, we can actually live the life He calls us to live of justice and mercy and love. We then read the Scripture passage together with boldness to remind us all of what Christ had done in and for us and what that meant.
Despite being nervous about stuff, I think it was a great morning and that people were really able to connect with what God is calling us to do and be as a church and as individuals.
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