Preparing for Worship - August 13, 2017

By Pastor Matt Sikes

Worship as Nourishment for Our Hope

Scripture is certainly not short on passages that talk about or deal with the topic of hope. Hope is one of the most important gifts from God that motivates our faith every day.  Peter says that we have been “born again to a living hope” through Christ (1 Peter 1:3). A few questions that I would like to briefly explore today are: What is hope? Why is it important? And how does corporate worship feed our hope?

What is Hope?

As I mentioned above, there are many passages, in the New Testament especially, that explore the theology of hope. For our purposes today, I want to look at what 1 Peter says. 1 Peter 1:3-5 says this:

”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Notice first that hope is something that we are born again to. God causes us to be born again to a living hope. How? It’s through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And what is this living hope that we are born again to? Verse 4 tells us that it is to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us.

One definition of biblical hope is this: having faith and assurance in the promises of God that are not yet seen, but are fully certain.  This definition of hope is far greater than our typical earthly understanding of hope because our earthly understanding is not met with certainty. The beauty of God’s promises to us is that they are certain. What’s even greater is that our ultimate hope is of an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. The inheritance we have in Christ – the promise of eternal life living fully in his presence – will never perish, be defiled, or diminish in its glory!

Why Is It Important?

Hope is one of the pillars of the Christian faith and is interwoven with faith and love (1 Cor. 13:13). We must live every day with the assurance of hope in what is to come (Heb. 6:11), but we must also understand, like with everything else in the Christian life, we live in the midst of the already, but not yet. This is the period between first coming of Christ, where the Kingdom of God was established on earth through the church, and the second coming of Christ, where the Kingdom will be fully consummated and death and sin will be finally defeated and all of creation will fully realize the lordship of Jesus.

This is one of the reasons why, I believe, that Peter says we have a living hope. We have full access to the benefits of eternal life in Christ now, while we still live on this fallen earth.

How Does Corporate Worship Feed Our Hope?

How do we access this living hope now? One of the primary means that we access the living hope of Christ is through the ordinary means of grace that Christ has given the church. We offer up our lives as living sacrifices through daily immersing ourselves in the Word of God to hear his voice. We walk by faith as we pour out our hearts to God in prayer. And we come back together weekly to meet with God’s people, as pictured in the local church, to worship the triune God who has caused us to be born again to this living hope.

As we have talked about in previous posts, our corporate worship with God’s people fuels our private worship, and vice versa. But we must remember that God has not designed us to live the Christian life in solitude and that it is nearly impossible (if not altogether impossible) to live a life of faith and dependence on Christ without the church.

As we continue the habit of weekly worship with God’s family, retelling the story of his redemption of his people, we continuously counteract the false stories of reality that we are regularly immersed in in the world (the cultural liturgies that we talked about in a previous post). In doing this our hope in this life and what is to come is continually nourished and strengthened, enabling us to more fully cling to the promises of our Risen Savior!

Let’s be reminded of this once again as we prepare to gather this weekend.

For this Sunday:

The songs we will be singing are:

Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken

My Worth Is Not in What I Own

For the Cause

Man of Sorrows

Be Thou My Vision with Doxology

The choir and orchestra will be presenting an arrangement of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross for the offertory. We will continue in our Wisdom series and Pastor Brady will be preaching on having wisdom with money. As usual, we ask that you would spend some time asking the Lord to prepare us for meeting him in worship. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works yet again this week.

See you Sunday!