MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship Sunday March 14 2021
  • Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (Nettleton)
  • This Is The Day
  • Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
  • #78 The Heart Of Worship
  • Several years ago during the Lenten season I was with a group of men meeting for prayer and Bible study. In that meeting we read several psalms as the spring board of those prayers. At the conclusion of one of the men’s turns reading one of the psalms, he commented, “That’s about the most depressing thing I’ve ever read.”
    The season of Lent is a season of recognizing just how lost we are without Christ. It is a season where we come face to face with how often we are willing to overlook our own sinfulness. It is a time when we come to recognize that by our own strength we cannot do anything about it - but Christ can! And so we recognize - to use some reformed theological language - our “Total depravity”. That on our own we have no power to save ourselves, our salvation rests solely, and totally in the hands of our Lord God.
    As our Lenten Season continues, we are on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and I will continue to use the Lectionary readings for us. Let us listen carefully to God’s Holy Word.
    Our old Testament reading comes from Numbers 21:4-9.
    Numbers 21:4–9 ESV
    From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
    Our New Testament reading is from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 1-10.
    Ephesians 2:1–10 ESV
    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    Finally, our Gospel reading, comes from a very familiar passage to us. It’s from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. John 3:14-21, you’ll note that he begins referring to our Old Testament reading in Numbers:
    John 3:14–21 ESV
    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
    The Word of the Lord,
    Thanks be to God.

    Raised Up

    I’ve spent a good amount of time in the Old Testament recently, reading of the Exodus from Egypt. And as a leader, as a pastor, I feel sorry for him. Seriously!
    God had made a promise to Israel to lead them into the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. A land where the crops would grow. A land that God promised to give them for their possession. But they didn’t believe God. They didn’t believe the promises. So God sent them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation had died off.
    You may remember that they had sent spies into the land to scope it out, and see what was there. They sent 12 spies, and all but 2 came back and said, “No way.”
    Then as they were on this journey it seems every few chapters the people of Israel are complaining, “did you bring us out here to starve”, “or go thirsty”, “to die!”
    In contrast, when they see the wonder of God working before them, they continually say, “All you have commanded we will do!” And of course they do, and then they don’t.
    Does that sound familiar?
    As a pastor, I know it does. As a Christian, I know it does.
    How often after hearing or reading something particularly inspiring have you or I made a commitment to follow God more nearly, love God more dearly. And for a few days, weeks, perhaps even months you are on fire. The fire glows for a while, then the fire wanes, and eventually seem to have died. And for many of us it can seem like we’re back where we started.
    The truth though, as Christians, as followers of Christ, we’re not back where we started.
    In our Gospel reading we read from a conversation with Nicodemus. The context of that conversation is Jesus is speaking of being born again, and Nicodemus is not understanding. Jesus then shares a veiled reference to Himself being lifted up and we get to the verse that most of us have memorized in some form in our lives, John 3:16
    John 3:16 ESV
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
    We hear these words and our heart is turned once again to our faith, our belief in the One, the eternal, Son of God and the knowledge that God loves us. God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn us, but to save us!
    We are reminded in our Gospel passage today that
    John 3:20 ESV
    For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
    No one likes to have their sin exposed. Yet, for the Christian we know that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. We recognize that our sin is just yet another evidence of our need for a Savior, and another opportunity to throw ourselves at the mercy of our God.
    So we are more open to confessing our short comings openly because we recognize that we are all in the same boat. We don’t need to prove ourselves sinless - we know we all sin. As one author has put it, we can live with nothing to prove, nothing to hide and therefore nothing to lose.
    That brings us to the New Testament reading this morning:
    It is true.
    Ephesians 2:1 ESV
    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
    Dead. Done. Gone.
    and then in verse 4, we get to that word of contradiction. A word that negates everything that comes before it. You know the word I’m talking about...
    “But...”
    Ephesians 2:4 ESV
    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
    “But God...”
    It didn’t matter where we were, God, is bigger. God is more powerful. God rich in mercy, and because of his great love did something for us.
    Ephesians 2:5–6 ESV
    even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
    Yes! Even when we were dead in our trespasses, in our sins, in our failings, in our love for the darkness - God broke through, and God
    “Made us alive together with Christ”
    If creating a new slide show in Proclaim you will want to highlight each of these in your presentation.
    Ephesians 2:5–6 ESV
    even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
    You might want to underline that in your own Bibles. You have been MADE ALIVE together with Christ. And you have been RAISED UP with Him.
    Ephesians 2:5–6 ESV
    even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
    and you have been SEATED with him in the heavenly places...
    Ephesians 2:5–6 ESV
    even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
    And how was all of this done?
    Ephesians 2:5–6 ESV
    even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
    It is all by God’s AMAZING grace! Truly, it is by grace. Without God’s grace we could not be saved. This is God’s work, not our own. We read later in our passage:
    Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    It is God’s gift, not our doing
    Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    Nope, it’s not our own doing. It’s not by anything we have done, no matter how good with think we might have been. It’s not a result of works.
    Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    Why? So that no one may boast.
    Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    I think this is where people often get confused. If our good works don’t get us to heaven, then why do we want to do good things as Christians.
    It is true. There is no way for you and I to earn our way to heaven anymore than there should be any way for a child to earn a parents love. Our good works are not the reason for God’s love, they are our response to God’s love.
    We do the good things we do, not out of fear, not out of obligation, but as our gift in return to God because God is the one and only one truly worthy of glory and honor.
    Ephesians 2:10 ESV
    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    What a gift we have been given in our ability to join in what God is doing. To love others because God loves them. To give to others because God has given to us. To bless others because God has blessed us. To forgive because God has forgiven us. You see, it all flows out of our understanding of who God is and what God has done for us.
    Our Gospel reading this morning read
    John 3:21 ESV
    But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
    We can not carry out works in God, if God has not first shone his light into our lives. I see Christ in you. And thus my prayer for all of you is that you might continue to let that light shine.
    To God, be the glory. AMEN.
      • Numbers 21:4–9ESV

      • Ephesians 2:1–10ESV

      • John 3:14–21ESV

      • John 3:16ESV

      • John 3:20ESV

      • Ephesians 2:1ESV

      • Ephesians 2:4ESV

      • Ephesians 2:5–6ESV

      • Ephesians 2:5–6ESV

      • Ephesians 2:5–6ESV

      • Ephesians 2:5–6ESV

      • Ephesians 2:5–6ESV

      • Ephesians 2:8–9ESV

      • Ephesians 2:8–9ESV

      • Ephesians 2:8–9ESV

      • Ephesians 2:8–9ESV

      • Ephesians 2:10ESV

      • John 3:21ESV

  • O Lord , You're Beautiful
  • Benediction Song

Let us get to know you!

Please take a moment to send us your information so that we may stay connected with you. Your information is carefully managed and protected.
I am a:
Age:
How did you hear about us?