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Downtown Sunday Morning Service (9:30)
January 27 @ 9:30 am - 11:30 am
Announcements & Meditation
– Call to Worship –
Minister: The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who are in awe of Him.
Congregation: He will hear their cry and save them. Amen.
Minister: Lift up your hearts!
Congregation: We lift them up to the Lord!
O Worship the King, p. 321
– Confession –
Psalm 15, bulletin p. 9
CONFESSION OF SIN
Congregation is invited to kneel if able
+ ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Minister: Your sins are forgiven through Christ.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!
Minister: Christian, what do you believe?
Congregation: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Minister: Be merciful unto me, O God; for man would swallow me up;
Congregation: When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
Minister: In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.
Congregation: What flesh can do unto me?
Minister: Put my tears into Your bottle:
Congregation: Are they not in Your book?
Minister: When I cry unto You, then shall my enemies turn back:
Congregation: This I know; for God is for me.
All Glory Be to God on High, p. 291
– Consecration –
+ SCRIPTURE READING
2 Samuel 22:1-7; Acts 16:25-34
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
Congregation: Thanks be to God!
Bless Now the Man Who Does Not Walk, p. 2
Opening: Matthew 6:13
Thanksgiving: Psalm 69:30
Petitions: Matthew 6:9-10, 13
We All Believe in One True God, pp. 404-405
CC: Under the Mercy (Toby Sumpter)Sermon
17 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.23 And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house. 1 Kings 21:17-29
There was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, committing abominations, following idols, and stirred up to great evil by his wife Jezebel. And yet when Ahab humbled himself before the Lord, the Lord relented from the immediate judgment he had promised. This story reminds us that God’s merciful kindness is great.
Summary of the Text
Getting a running start, remember that we first met Ahab in 1 Kings 16 when he became King of the northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria), and we are told that Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him (1 Kgs. 16:33). Under Ahab’s reign Jericho was rebuilt, with the foundations dedicated in the blood of two sons (16:34). Recall the animosity of Ahab for Elijah, beginning with Elijah’s announcement of a severe drought on the land (17:1), followed by the great showdown between Ahab’s prophets of Baal and Elijah three years later (18:17-46), and the great manhunt for Elijah forcing him into exile in the wilderness (19:1-21). Just before our text, Ahab has displayed manic-like bouts of rage and depression, where the Lord gave great military victories, but Ahab failed to deliver a crushing blow and he went home to his house in a furious displeasure (1 Kgs. 20:43). Following this, Ahab tried to buy Naboth’s vineyard, but failing that he once again throws a royal fit on his bed (21:4). And it is after his wife, Jezebel, has orchestrated the lynching of Naboth that our text picks up with the Lord instructing Elijah to go to Ahab and pronounce His sentence of the utter destruction of his family (1 Kgs. 21:17-24). The narrator once again reminds us (as if we needed reminding) that there was none like Ahab who did wickedness in the sight of the Lord (21:25-26). But when Ahab tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth, fasts, and goes about in humility, the Lord takes notice and tells Elijah that Ahab has humbled himself and therefore the judgment will be postponed (21:27-28).
Arise and Go Down to Meet Ahab
This whole story really is astounding. First off, put yourself in Elijah’s shoes. Ahab had married Jezebel – daughter of the king of the Sidonians and champion of Baal worship (1 Kgs. 16:31). Remember all the prophets murdered, and all the prophets still hiding from Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kgs. 18:13). Remember Jezebel’s oath to kill Elijah and him running for his life (1 Kgs. 19:2-3). Remember Elijah’s exhaustion and deep discouragement after the Mt. Carmel showdown (1 Kgs. 19:10). Remember how so many in Israel had turned away from God (1 Kgs. 19:14). Remember Ahab’s awful attitude (1 Kgs. 20:43, 21:4). Remember Jezebel’s plotting and Naboth’s murder – and think of Naboth’s family. The assignment of going to Ahab yet again to announce God’s judgment would have been very hard. What good would it do? Why tell him of his wickedness again? There was no one who had sold himself to work more wickedness in the sight of the Lord than Ahab (1 Kgs. 21:25). Even Ahab’s initial greeting is utterly disheartening and dripping with hatred: “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” (1 Kgs. 21:20). Are there people in this world, in your life that seem to be in the same category? Could they be more hard-hearted? Could they be more antagonistic? Could they be more of an enemy? Is there something in you that says, Why bother? What good will it do?
Bright Light for a Dark World
Part of our problem is that we have been fed the lie that we must choose between law and grace, high standards and mercy. But that is the one thing, as Christians, we must notdo. There is no radical grace apart from the law establishing our pitch-black guilt, and there is no pure mercy apart from the high standards we have utterly failed. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10). “Grace, mercy, and peace be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 Jn. 1:3). Mercy and truth, righteousness and grace can only be rightly held together in Jesus Christ. Otherwise, well-meaning people will veer between crushing legalism and sentimental licentiousness. We will swerve between pure condemnation and pliable accommodation. But this means that every refusal to hold mercy and truth together is a rejection of Jesus.
This is why we insist on proclaiming the horror of sin in all of its hideousness because Jesus was crucified for our hideous sin. “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did abominably in following idols…” (1 Kgs. 21:25-26). The message from Elijah was not sugar-coated; it was direct and harsh in its delivery (1 Kgs. 21:20-23). The point of this is not to encourage you to deliver this exact message to every pro-abort person in your family, office, or Facebook feed. The point is simply that we must name sin biblically – hatred, adultery, murder, lust, idolatry, prostitution, abomination, vile affections, perversion, unnatural affection, shameful. All our excuses, all our blaming, all of our “victimologies” and rapidly multiplying “intersectionalities” of victimhood are attempts to lighten certain sins, and this is fundamentally an attack on grace, an attempt to rob the world of God’s merciful kindness. We name sin in all of its hideousness because Jesus endured the hideousness of the cross. We proclaim the darkness of sin so that the light of complete forgiveness might shine on every man. We speak the truth in this love (Eph. 4:15).
For His Merciful Kindness is Great
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Tim. 1:15-16). So the first application is straightforward: What have you done? What have you thought? What have you said? What have you looked at? What have you failed to do? Do you think you are beyond the reach of God’s mercy? Do you think that it is so dark, so disgusting, so shameful that God cannot have anything to do with it? But the Bible is the story of God’s grace. This is why we should love the genealogies. Long lists of sinners, mostly unknown to us, belovedto their God. The only difference between the saved and the damned is pride. The saved were not better people, the damned were not worse. The saved humbled themselves, cast themselves on God’s mercy, but the damned refuse His offer. If God notices the fleeting, desperate humility of Ahab will he not notice you when you call out to Him? If God saved Paul to show forth all longsuffering, then this was a pattern for you.
But all of this is also for the world. What is your attitude toward the other Ahabs and Jezebels of this world? Do you hate sin because you love grace? Are you eagerfor their forgiveness?
CCD: Christ Hidden in Our Calling (Douglas Wilson)Sermon
First we must begin with a statement of our problem. Many glorious truths were recovered in the Reformation, and one of them was the doctrine of vocation. Unfortunately, this is part of our Protestant heritage that we have shamefully neglected, and have almost lost. One of the principal indications that we have lost this doctrine is that we speak so easily and readily of “full-time Christian work,” as though there were anything else for a Christian to do. The reestablishment of two “holiness” layers of occupation in Christendom has been a terrible loss.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship” (Exodus 31:1-5).
Summary of the Text
So the word of the Lord comes to Moses (v. 1). A particular man was called by name out of the tribe of Judah. His name was Bezaleel (v. 2), and the Lord filled him with the Spirit of God (v. 3). This is the first instance of anyone being described as filled with the Spirit in the Bible.
And what were the indications of the Spirit’s filling? They were wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and craftsmanship (v. 3), which gave him the ability to do cunning work—as a goldsmith, a silversmith, a worker in brass (v. 4), as a jeweler (or possibly a mason), a woodworker, along with any other similar work.
So when the Spirit descends to fill a man for the first time in the Bible, it is surprisingly not to come down upon a theologian reading a big, fat scroll. He does do that, but later. Now the important thing here is that Bezaleel was called. The Latin verb that means “to call” is vocare, from which we get our word “vocation,” calling. This is not to disparage the importance of a call to the mission field, or the ministry—of course not. But all Christians are called, and are called to labor self-consciously and faithfully in their calling, whether it is law, real estate, carpentry, medicine, brick-laying, shop-keeping, changing diapers, writing novels or songs, digging latrines, or planting trees. All of God is in all of it. Christians who think like Christians should function in terms of calling, and not in terms of “a job.”
We do not hold to this on the basis of a mere assertion. There is a doctrinal foundation for it. We must fix it in our minds that God is in everything, and works through everything. If God is sovereign in this way, which we affirm, this means that Christ is hidden in the artisan, and Christ is hidden in the customer. Christ is hidden in the one behind the counter, and He is hidden in the one in front of the counter. He is hidden in the dentist, and hidden in the patient in the chair.
First, God provides for us through means. We benefit from the work of the farmer, the fertilizer salesman, the trucker, the grocery store clerk, the dairyman, and when we bow our heads to thank God for the breakfast cereal, we are thanking Him for His work in and through all of these people, whether they know Him or not. We receive from Godthrough the work of others. We acknowledge this when we pray for our daily bread (Matt. 6:11). We know that God is working in and through all things (Rom. 8:28), and this includes all of our countless daily kindnesses.
Second, Christ receives from us as we work in each of our vocations. God gratefully receives from us through the work we do for others. “Lord, when did I ever give you hot French fries when you were famished?” “Don’t you remember? It was that time at the drive-through window.” This is the other side of vocation, the flip side of it. God keeps track of every cup of cold water (Matt. 10:42), and He reckons everything we do for others as done to and for Him (Matt. 25: 34-46).
This means that Christ is hidden in our vocation, and He is hidden in our neighbor. We are to discover Him there with the eye of faith. We were created for work (Gen. 2:15), and called to work diligently six days out of seven (Ex. 20:9-11). We are to render all our work to Christ, and not just to the boss when he is present. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Col. 3:23). Christ is in your boss, and Christ is in your customer, and Christ is in you.
And so we are to receive all the work done for us as a gift from Jesus Himself (Matt. 6:11). The mother gives milk to the child, but who fills her breasts with milk in the first place? When the farmer first planted the wheat, he did not know he was making milk for the baby.
What Vocation Does Not Mean
All work is full of glory but it is a glory apprehended by faith. This faith does not necessarily mean that a Christian carpenter pounds nails differently than an unregenerate carpenter does. But it does mean that he should understand the meaning of what he does, and, over time, this should result in differences in craft competence.
Neither should this doctrine be taken as an excuse to become a one-trick pony. Your vocation is varied, and extends to every aspect of your life. This means that you are not only called to be, say, a software designer, but you are also called to be a son, a student, a husband, a brother, a citizen, a churchman, and a putter of model ships into bottles. Incidentally, parents, this means that education should be equipping your child for his or her vocation in this broad sense, not the narrow sense. And this, incidentally, is the meaning of a liberal arts education.
And vocation is not a talisman against worldly difficulties. Americans love “three steps to automatic success,” but that is not what the Scriptures promise. Diligence in this vocational way of thinking will generally result in long term satisfaction with what you do—instead of the constant flitting from job to job that is so common in our day—but don’t think that God-given changes are a sign that something is necessarily wrong. And don’t think that vocation means that you will just float through your work day—the diapers can really stink, the customers can really be unreasonably irate, the promised shipments really can be subject to exasperating delays. Rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). And Christ is in all.
Finding Your Way
We are called, all of us, to live in the will of God. But remember the difference between His revealed will for all Christians, and, after that, what are yourabilities, youropportunities, and yourdesires. The first is a function of obedience. The second is a function of wisdom.
When those three things line up, then go for it. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). And as you go, remember this: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Prov. 22:29). This is not carnal ambition—it is what enables us to see death and resurrectionin our daily callings.
A message on this subject would be grossly deficient if we did not quote Luther at some point. His wonderful grasp of vocation, the most heavenly and earthy of truths, was remarkable. “God Himself milks the cows through the vocation of the milkmaid.” And amen.
Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Malachi 3:10, bulletin p. 10
– Communion –
The King of Love My Shepherd Is, p. 35
O Let My Name Engraven Stand, pp. 370-371
– Commissioning –
+ CLOSING DOXOLOGY
The congregation may raise hands
Gloria Patri, p. 436
CHARGE & BENEDICTION
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessings of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon, and remain with you always. Amen.