Getting Ready For Sunday: How to Prepare for Worship at Uptown, November 30, 2014

Growing up I was a typical middle brother. I often got in trouble and acted out to a higher degree than my siblings. My brother and sister were much better children. They made good grades and stayed out of trouble which is pretty much all my parents asked of us, something I had a hard time obeying. I became a Christian when I was in my junior year of college and it really surprised for my family to see how God had saved me and was changing my heart. One afternoon when I was in a conversation with my sister in the car we were talking about how God had worked in our lives. I asked her what she thought about God saving me and how He may be at work in our lives now. She made the off handed comment that it was great to see God at work in my life, but out of the children I needed His grace the most. I was surprised by her remark not only because it was wrong, but because I considered her an evangelical Christian. I thought that most evangelical Christians understood the totality and utter need by all men of God’s saving grace.

As I spoke with more people about this I have realized that even some conservative evangelical Christians do not understand God’s grace to be this way. They may acknowledge it in their minds, but they fail to recognize its truth in their hearts. In my case I believe that God allowed me to be so broken that I truly came to understand what saving grace actually meant. I could see my brokenness and sin so clearly. However to someone who lives an upright and respectful life they can live with unchecked pride and self-righteousness. What we have to understand is just how far gone we are when we look to ourselves. There is nothing in us that could possibly save us and make us right with God. Worst of all is our attempts to justify ourselves with our good works wether that is respect we seek from our peers or pride and arrogance we get from doing our job well. Our worst sins can often be covered in the veneer of respectfulness. This pride in our own works can well up into conceit as we look down at other’s sin and brokenness. We see in the parable of the pharisee and tax collector the pharisee who is praying but is swelling with pride. He not only condemns the man near him praying, but misses his own self-righteousness. 

We are all broken, sinful and in dire need of God’s grace. However, there is hope in our brokenness and sin. God has sent a perfect sacrifice for our iniquities and transgressions. We can not approach God with a prideful and haughty spirit. See your brokenness and the ways in which you have sinned against a perfect and holy God. Confess these sins to Him. Repent of them and cast yourself wholly on the savior Jesus Christ. He will hear your pleas for mercy and will save you. All he requires is that we repent and put our faith in Him. This is true grace and mercy. Even though we may seem on the outside to have varying degrees of rebellion there is a deep seeded core issue and that is the sin that is throughout our whole being. The only hope we have is to seek the savior in repentance and faith that he may show his grace and mercy and forgive us. The more fully we comprehend this grace the more we will be moved to worship an awesome, loving, powerful and holy God. 

THE WORD

Scripture: Ezra 10:1-17
Sermon: Even Now There Is Hope

SONGS

Come to Us Emmanuel (arr. Ordinary Time)
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Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (arr. Red Mountain Music)
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Once in Royal David’s City  (arr. Traditional)
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God Be Merciful to Me  (arr. Indelible Grace)
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Beneath the Cross of Jesus  (arr. Indelible Grace)
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Song of Preparation: Laden With Guilt (arr. Sandra McCracken)
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Song of Response: Thy Mercy
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