Preparing for Worship // July 16, 2017

Preparing for Worship // July 16, 2017

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[This week’s worship preparation was written by Nathanael Miller, Uptown’s Pastoral Intern for Outreach]

We all know that appearances can be deceiving. I think that the food in a fast food ad looks delicious. The perfectly crafted meal is aesthetically pleasing, with the light hitting the food in just the right way to make it shine. The sight evokes sensations of tastes and smells which point to some hypothetical ideal hamburger which I will never have. I once spoke with a friend familiar with how these sort of advertisements are made, and the illusions I had were shattered. The food in the ad is actually an inedible material specifically crafted by professional food stylists to resemble an appetizing meal. Each sesame seed is affixed to the bun by super glue, and the food is often not actually cooked- it is merely browned with blowtorches to get the right look. The food in these ads looks good, but a bite might actually kill you, due to a toxic combination of paints, oils, glycerin, and uncooked food.

The religious leaders for whom Jesus is telling the parable in today’s text lived out a similar deception. Though they tried very hard to appear outwardly righteous and virtuous before others, the reality was that, on the inside, they were full of venom and wickedness. They were seeking sinful self-rule, not repenting of their sins. In their minds, they had no sins of which they needed to repent! Jesus calls them “whitewashed tombs” later in Matthew, because though they appear pure and righteous on the outside, on the inside they are dead.

Neither are we exempt from this problem today. We may delude ourselves into thinking that our sins are not serious enough to merit repentance. Or, we may think that our sins are too heinous; if we attempted to seek forgiveness before the cross, we would be rejected. These are both dangerous lies, that we should not believe. We run the risk of becoming like the Pharisees- whitewashed tombs, looking put-together and upright on the outside, but dead on the inside. As you prepare for worship this week with devotional reading, scripture, and prayer, meditate upon what Christ has done for you, your utter inability to deal with even your smallest sin, and the readiness, loving kindness, and ability of God through Christ to forgive even your greatest sins. Confess and repent of your sins before Him. You have a Savior in whom you are safe.

THE WORD

Scripture: Matthew 21:23-22:14
Sermon: “Are You a Pretender or a Repenter?”

SONGS

Arise My Soul, Arise (Indelible Grace)
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Depth of Mercy (Red Mountain Music)
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Lord I Need You  (Matt Maher)
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Song of Preparation: Judge of the Secrets (Sovereign Grace Music)
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Song for the Supper: Communion Hymn (Hiram Ring)
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Song of Response: Jesus I Come  (Indelible Grace)
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