Weekly sermons from Rivermont EPC in Lynchburg, VA
Weekly sermons from Rivermont EPC in Lynchburg, VA
Prayer in an Open World
Is the world an open or a closed system? Is material existence the only reality or are there unseen spiritual forces at work in this world that have true effects on nature, history, and humanity? In the premodern world it was very difficult to conceive of a closed existence. Spiritual realities played a central role in everything from family life to medicine; physics to politics. There was a sense that spiritual realities effected the material world and a belief that man lived in the cross point between these two realities as both a physical and a spiritual being. Yet today the assumption is that we live in a closed world. A world that is only physical. Everything that happens has a natural cause. All concept of spiritual involvement in the world is bracketed out of the realm of possibility. All that exists is that which can be measured and quantified. The book of Psalms, however, invites us to see the world not as closed but radically open to spiritual power and influences. In particular, Psalm 36 teaches us that there are spiritual forces of both good and evil that effect our lives. And it seeks to train us to pray as one who believes in such an open world. To come prepared for the sermon take time this week to read and to meditate upon Psalm 36, Psalm 139, Matthew 12:45, Mark 5:1-20, John 1:4-5; 3:19-21, Acts 9:1-19, Romans 3:18, and Westminster Confession of Faith 10.
Life Together in Unity
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1)! Thinking of the blessings of peace and fellowship, we are bound together in life through innumerable ways. We often enjoy ties of relationship or friendship, common tastes, personal likings, and occupation. At times, we come together to live above the world and to serve others with compassion and grace. By God’s grace, we aspire to live life together with the common bonds of peace and love that Christ alone secures. This Sunday in worship, we’ll look to Psalm 133:1-3 and embrace “Life Together in Unity.” Established by Jesus Christ through the power of His kingdom, God Himself blesses us with the unity that joins us to our Savior and to one another. Like oil poured down on Aaron’s head and the dew of Mount Hermon falling on the mountains of Zion (Psalm 133:2-3b), the eternal blessings of God’s unity flow down upon us from heaven above.
The Everlasting Kingdom of Jesus Christ
With unsurpassed poetry, the Psalms guide us through the full range of human experience. With various themes as thanksgiving, praise, enthronement, pilgrimage, lament, and wisdom, the Psalms consistently point us to Christ in worship and praise! This Sunday, we continue our Journey through the Psalms for ongoing encouragement and direction. Using Psalm 72:8-11, Pastor Lowell Sykes will highlight “The Everlasting Kingdom of Jesus Christ.” Embracing Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, we’ll see the beauty of Epiphany as we celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the world. As the Gospel of Jesus Christ is extended to the Magi, to the Gentiles, from the East, the Gospel is also extended to you and to me. To come prepared for worship, please be in prayer. Take time to read and to meditate upon Psalm 72:8-11, Isaiah 11:6-9, Matthew 28:18-20, and Philippians 2:6-11
We Are Dusty People
We live in a world that is all about strength and that tries to extend our days on this earth as long as possible. Yet Scripture, as usual, paints a different picture of humanity and we are told that we are dusty people. We are just a chronic disease, a tragic accident, or an injury away from being reminded of the reality of our frailty. The beauty of it all is that God knows us better than we know ourselves and He remembers what we are like because He is the one who made us. In response to our condition, we will see that God is gracious, merciful, and forgiving. He also has provided us a way to become a heavenly people through His Son, our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. To come prepared for the sermon take time this week to read and to meditate upon Psalm 103, Genesis 2:7, Exodus 34:5-7, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, Philippians 3:21, and Heidelberg Question 11. As we gather this first Sunday after Christmas Day, we will join our hearts in song, singing the Hymn of Praise “Angels We Have Heard On High”, the Acclamation of Praise “Good Christian Men, Rejoice”, and the Hymn of Response “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.” Let us come to worship this Sunday prepared to hear God’s Word, to receive it in faith, to love and treasure it in our hearts, and to practice it in our lives that we may continue to glorify and enjoy Him!
Longing to Trust
When we are in a place of need we tend to grasp for anything in which to trust. This week I heard a public service announcement warning people about debt consolidation schemes. While there are legitimate debt consolidators, there are also many who see an opportunity to take advantage of those in need. A promise that all your financial struggles will be erased is tempting to believe. Therefore, those in places of need are willing to trust such promises. They are willing to pay a company a few thousand dollars to make their debt of twenty thousand dollars go away. Those with financial security are not tempted to believe such outlandish claims that tens of thousands of dollars in debt can be cleared with a simple phone call. Those in need, however, are willing to trust even the most untrustworthy. In life we all find ourselves in places of need. Situations arise in which we have no power to deliver ourselves. In these times we look for someone or something in which to trust: a political figure who will save the economy; a military figure who will win the battle; a doctor who will cure the disease; a lawyer who will make the charges go away. We all have a longing to trust a savior, a promise, or a purpose that will deliver us from our place of need. Yet what we will see in our passage for this week is that our need to trust will only be fulfilled by trusting in the Lord. To come prepared for the sermon take time this week to read and to meditate upon Psalm 146, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 118:8-9, Isaiah 51:12-13, Matthew 11:3-5, Hebrews 7:23-25, and Westminster Confession of Faith 14.
Longing for Justice
“That is not fair!” I am not sure how children learn the concept of fairness so quickly but almost instinctively they have a desire and a hope for equity. They want to make sure that they get their fair share of the good things in life. Siblings will fight over having a just division of screen time. Children all over the world say things like, “That is not fair, Johnny’s parents let him get an iPhone.” In remote villages in South America brothers are fighting over who will get the last serving of dinner. A longing for justice comes naturally. Yet it is not just children who feel that things should be fair. Adults often will see another's prosperity as a sign of their deprivation. It doesn’t seem fair that someone should have so much more money, so much more power, or so much more hair. Why do parents, who do not even want another child, get pregnant when those who desperately desire a child struggle with infertility? Why is it that the man who works out and eats well gets cancer but the man who cares nothing for his own health lives to 95? Life just doesn’t seem fair. There is always someone who has better presents. How then do we deal with this longing for fairness in a world that is obviously not fair? How do we find satisfaction for our longing for justice? In our text for this Sunday what we will see is that if we would experience true fairness we must long for the coming of a righteous king. A king who will rule in complete justice. To come prepared take time this week to read and meditate upon Psalm 72, 1 Deuteronomy 10:17-18, Isaiah 11:1-9, Luke 1:31-33; 4:18-19, Timothy 2:1-3 and Westminster Confession of Faith 23. As we gather this third Sunday of Advent, we will join our hearts in song, singing the Hymn of Praise “Joy to the World”, the Acclamation of Praise “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates!”, and the Hymn of Response “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Let us come to worship this Sunday prepared to hear God’s Word, to receive it in faith, to love and treasure it in our hearts, and to practice it in our lives that we may continue to glorify and enjoy Him! The Advent Wreath expresses our longing for the coming of Christ. This Sunday, we light the one rose colored candle representing the joy of the arrival of Christ, the Rose of Sharon. (https://www.reformedworship.org/article/september-1986/advent-wreath)