Sunday, March 23, 2008

Amazing Grace, Music, and Josh Harris

This morning may be the first Easter Sunday morning I have not attended church - celebrating Christ's resurrection with a community. Not because of lack of want, but because of presence of pain. I find it very painful to sit for more than 15 minutes at a time (that would just be the ride to church much less the service). But, I also know I can celebrate right here because God is omnipresent and the Spirit dwells within me (He is alive in me).
This morning will consist of three things: Amazing Grace (the third time I've watched it this weekend), Easter songs on iTunes, and a sermon from Palm Sunday. Two things I've relished about the movie Amazing Grace:
1. Twas grace that taught my heart to fear. How many times have I sung that line. Grace is work in our lives of the Spirit drawing us to to fear the God of wrath, to fear because we know we are sinners. God is holy. But, grace is also the saving agent - along with faith - in the death of Christ and his BODILY resurrection.
2. I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior. John Newton said those words. How true they are. How often do we think the gospel starts with the cross. The gospel doesn't start with the cross. The gospel starts with the fact that God is holy and perfect and we have despised and turned away from that - we are sinners. If we don't start there - what good is the cross. So, one can't preach the gospel without mentioning the fact that we are sinners, lost and dying and going to an eternity in hell without the cross. Oh, praise God for the cross. There will be many people in White Plains NY who get to hear the gospel this week. Maybe many for the first time. May grace draw them, the gospel (sin and the cross) compel them to come poor and needy to a Savior who loves them. Please pray for the people of White Plains this week as a mission team from NC is there - sharing the gospel in practical ways. May they not stop with the starbucks, food, and newspaper - may they be bold and share JESUS - the true gospel.
I Stand Amazed (Chris Tomlin) - I remember playing this song in church growing up too. I love this song. How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love for me.
He Lives (Lakewood) - 1 Cor 15:55...
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Jesus Paid It All (Kristian Stanfill) - Just a tad different then the hymn I played growing up, but just a few additions and a bigger drum beat. Sang this first at the Summit, too. "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, my sin had left this crimson stain - he washed it white as snow." I love the bridge "Oh praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead."
Sermon: Jesus in Jeremiah, Part 8 - Josh Harris (Covenant Life, Gaithersburg, MD)
What does Jesus have to do with Jeremiah? (600 years before the birth of Christ, and what does it matter to us) "Every story in the Bible whispers His name - Jesus"
1. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's warnings of judgment. 6.16; 7.17-20. The God of the OT and the God of the NT (embodied in Christ) are the same God. Love and judgment are in both - and God never changes. We have the same great need of grace - Jer 6.16 - we have not taken the way that God has prescribed. We have gone our own way.
2. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's theme of mediation. Mediate - to intervene between people in a dispute and seek reconciliation. Jeremiah (as God's prophet) is between God and man (he is speaking to the people of Judah for God). Jeremiah also speaks on behalf of the people to God. 14.7, 18.20 (remember how I stood before you to speak good for them) - have mercy on these people. This is what Jesus did. (my side note: I love the OT - and even listening to this sermon - you can see Christ in it so much! Every word!) Only Jesus who is without sin - greater then Moses and Samuel. This is what the NT celebrates - someone to plead our cause. One Mediator! (CJ Mahaney's book - Christ Our Mediator). He has turned the wrath of God into favor. (Before the Throne of God Above)
3. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's prophecies of restoration (30-33) God will restore the Israelites. Nehemiah...(no king in that time) - there is a distant fulfillment (person of Jesus) - in the line of David. The King who will reign. All the chapters mentioned above point to the coming of Christ. Jer 31.7-11 "sing aloud with gladness, chief of the nations, save your people, the blind, the lame, they shall return here, with weaping they shall come, pleas of mercy I will lead them back, straight paths, I am a Father, He will gather him and will keep him as a Shepherd keeps his flock."
4. We hear Jesus whispered in Jeremiah's promise of a new covenant. Covenant: Philip Graham Ryken - a biblical covenant is a binding relationship of eternal consequence in which God blesses and people obey. We can't obey - our heart's our deceitful (17.9) - we commit spiritual adultery. We are trapped - we can't approach - yet we need God to change us so we can obey. He announces that His plan is to do what we can't do for ourselves - to save us, to rescue and redeem. Jer 31.31 - "a new relationship, a new covenant, I will put their law within them and write it on their hearts, I will be their God and they shall be my people, they shall know me, I will forgive their sin, I will remember their sin no more." What incredible news! Goats and animals and sheep can never remove - forever!
God - thank you for Jesus - all along the way - you were painting a picture. Help me never forget that picture.
This has been an amazing sermon. I think I will go back and listen to the whole series. Josh is starting a series on the Psalms next week.
Enjoy the covenant of God!

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