The Priesthood of All Believers

Psalm 99:6 (ESV) – Moses and Aaron were among his priests…

 

Great God of highest heaven, thank you for making a way to have fellowship with us.  We praise and magnify your name!  You would have been perfectly just to disregard us eternally.  We could only sit in deafening silence if you had chosen to let us all continue in going our own way like rebellious, lost sheep.  But you kept reaching out.  Thank you for reaching out through your choice servants of old who served as priests and mediated your love to your people.  Most of all we thank you for the Lord Jesus who has come and put en end to that earthly priesthood of the select few.  Thank you that he is now the one and only Great High Priest forever and that he forever lives to make intercession for us. Thank you that we can therefore come to you through him and taste the sweet blessings of saving grace over and over again.  Thank you for making each believer a priest so that our ministry to each other can now be a means by which your savory gifts are enjoyed.  Thank you that we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the recapturing of the truth of the priesthood of all believers.  Please be gracious and help me to learn how to be a better priest to my brothers and sisters in Christ that the heavenly work of Jesus might be extended through my meager earthly efforts.  I humbly ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, priest forever! Amen.

A Prayer from Psalm 99

Dear Lord, you are great. I am not.  You reign over everybody, and that includes me.  You are the great God who sat enthroned on the cherubim that stretched their wings out over the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament tabernacle, the center of worship for your chosen people. But your greatness among your people only displayed your greatness over all the people on the earth.  You truly are holy, completely distinct from me in every way. For this I thank and praise you.  What good would it be to worship a God who is anything less?!  Please forgive me for thinking so lowly of you so often. But may I ever be grateful that you lowered yourself to my level, and even lower.  Thank you for becoming a man, a slave, for being treated like a common criminal on my behalf. Thank you for perfectly keeping every just and demanding requirement of the law in every thought you pondered, every word you uttered, and every action you performed, and then thank you for taking the punishment of someone like me who sometimes seems like I can’t ever do anything right.  Thank you for removing all of my failures, that pile of stench that reaches to the heavens.  And thank you for ignoring the smell and for guiding me step by step so that I might live a just and righteous life by the power of the indwelling Spirit.   It is my honor to exalt you and to worship you in spirit and in truth for the sake of Jesus, the Great King himself, Amen.

Thoughtful Action: Discussion from Sunday's Sermon

Most Importantly

1 Peter 4:7-11

 

1.     How would you fill in the blank?

 

Then end of all things is at hand, Therefore, _____________________________________.

 

2.     What is the difference between being worthy enough to pray to God and doing worthwhile things to protect your prayer life?

 

3.     What are the greatest hindrances to your spending time in prayer?  What practical steps do you take to protect your prayer life?

 

4.     Love covers a multitude of sins. 

 

a.     In what ways do you struggle with forgiving other people?

 

b.     How can you practically love somebody and continually forgive them without enabling a sinful habit or simply being afraid to confront sin?

 

5.     What hardships do you find in being hospitable?  What are some creative ways to be hospitable without “putting on the ritz”?

 

6.     Describe your spiritual giftedness? 

 

a.     In what ways are you eager to serve others through your spiritual giftedness?

 

b.     In what ways are you afraid to serve others through your spiritual giftedness?

Psalm for Prayer - October 16, 2017

Psalm 99 (ESV)

1 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

2 The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.

3 Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!

4 The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

5 Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them.

7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.

8 O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

9 Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!

Thoughtful Action: Discussion from Sunday's Sermon

 

  • Why does Peter repeatedly make a connection between holiness and suffering in the Book of 1 Peter and especially in chapter 4 verse 1? (See 1:12, 2:21-22, 3:14-15, and 5:8-9).
  • In 1 Peter 4:1 it says that “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” Can you think of a Bible verse that proves that Peter cannot mean that we are completely freed from all sin in this life?
  • Why do Americans tend to believe the spiritual dangers we face in North America are less severe than those experienced by our fellow Christians in places like Sudan, and North Korea? Which is a greater danger to our souls, physical persecution or spiritual complacency?
  • Is 1 Peter 4:5 a comfort to you, or would you prefer to think of God as too gracious to judge anyone harshly?
  • Does the thought of persecution or being “maligned” (verse 4) prevent you from being an open witness for Christ? How can you battle that fear scripturally?

Psalm for Prayer - October 9, 2017

Psalm 106:1–6, 19-23 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?

3 Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

4 Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,

5 that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance.

6 Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.

19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a metal image.

20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.

21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,

22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.

23 Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.

Thoughtful Action: Discussion from Sunday's Sermon

Real Salvation

1 Peter 3:18-22

 

1.     What do the key prepositions, conjunctions, and adverbs in v.18 each mean in helping us understand the Gospel?

2.     How does your Bible version translate the ESV “in the spirit” at the end of v.18?  How does that particular translation influence your understanding of the rest of the passage? – We will talk about this in particular and in detail next Wednesday night, but it may be helpful to begin looking at it now.

3.     The person and work of Christ is what brings all of us together each Sunday as a church family.  With your own personal testimony, relate how the unity we have in the Gospel allows you to love other believers who are from very different backgrounds than you are.

4.     From your own experience, what are the dangers of placing too much emphasis on the supernatural world (v.19-20)? What are the dangers of placing too little emphasis?

5.     How encouraging is it for you to know that because Jesus’ resurrection (v.21-22) sealed the doom of all supernatural foes, he is able to direct your life, including your sufferings, for your good and his glory?

6.     What does the phrase “baptism now saves you” mean? What does it not mean? How does the context of comparing the ark to Jesus’ resurrection and the flood waters to baptismal waters help answer this question?

7.     How important is baptism in the overall savings work of God in Christ from justification to sanctification to glorification? 

a.     What role does it play?

b.     What would you say to the person who says, “I’m saved, but I’m not really interested in being baptized”? 

c.      Is it possible for a person to have a “good conscience” before God and not be baptized?

d.      Does this passage insist on believer's baptism as opposed to infant baptism, in your opinion?

Psalm for Prayer - October 2, 2017

Psalm 19 (ESV)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,

5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Don't Be THAT Generation

It has been said that it only took a few months to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took forty years to get Egypt out of Israel.

 

In praying through our Psalm for prayer this week, Psalm 78, I’m struck again by the stubbornness of that generation.  One of the big points for prayer in the psalm is, “Don’t be like THAT generation.” 

 

Psalm 78:8 (ESV) – and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

 

Tell your children not to be like that stubborn generation.  They saw God do so much and yet remembered so little of what God had done.  They witnessed unparalleled miracles among them, but so few experienced the miraculous within them. 

 

Please, please, please warn your children not to be like them. “Don’t harden your hearts.  Keep listening to the voice of God in his written word.”  Show them Hebrews chapters 3 and 4.  “These things happened for an example to us,” Paul told the Corinthians, in order that we might not indulge in the same evil lusts (1 Cor.10:6).  Our children need to hear this so that they won’t be THAT generation.

 

God does what he does in our lives so that we might hope in God and then flesh out that hope in a faithful, obedient life (v.7).  The Spirit of God, Omnipotence Himself, indwells our mortal bodies and is completely capable of working this out of us and he works his good pleasure in us.  He has made an even better covenant with us, new covenant believers, and in Christ has given us even more good reason to stay soft-hearted toward God.

 

Jesus made a way. The Spirit provides the necessary strength. It’s the Father’s amazing plan.  Teach this to your children, over, and over, over again.  Point out the wondrous works of God in both the exodus and the cross. Mix in some special stories of how God has led your family in particular. And urge your children to not be like THAT generation.