Standing on Solid Ground - John 14, 2 Timothy 3
A service plan for personal growth in the Christian faith by a deep grounding in the truth and grace of God.
Also in this Series
This series explores the importance of worshiping well, the privilege of leading God's people in worship, and the responsibility to carry out such tasks with excellence.
Theme of the Service
The theme of worship this week is our personal growth in the Christian faith by grounding ourselves deeply in the truth and grace of God.
Last week our worship included the commissioning of all lay leaders who serve in the worship/music ministry; our worship today will include the commissioning of all those who serve in the educational ministry of the congregation. For this reason we will focus on the privilege of knowing God's truth, the need to grow in our understanding of his truth, and our steadfast obedience as a response to such knowledge.
WE GATHER IN WORSHIP
Prelude: "Partita on 'Be Thou My Vision' ", Callahan [organ]
or: "Be Thou My Vision", Leavitt [piano]
or: "Be Thou My Vision", Hopson [handbells]
The Call to Worship
*Song of Approach: "Be Thou My Vision" PH339, RL67, RN151, TH642, TWC532, WOV776
*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
*Song of Response: "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High" RN4, SNC157
WE ARE RENEWED IN GOD'S GRACE
The Call to Confession
Sung: "Seek the Lord", Carter
Having heard God's plea to return to Him, we confess our sins and turn from them.
(Spoken by the worship leader)
Our Prayer of Confession - Psalm 51:1-12
The Assurance of God's Pardon - Psalm 32:5,1
Prayer and Song of Gratitude: "I Will Sing of My Redeemer" (Hyfrydol: PsH479, 3vv.; TWC492, 4vv.; My Redeemer: TH650, 4vv.)
God's Guide for Grateful Living
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NIV)
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©
1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights
The Children's Moment
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS WORD
*Song of Preparation: "Blessed Jesus, at Your Word/We Are Here" PH454, PsH280, RL530, RN93, SFL56, TH303
The Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-9
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
The New Testament Readings: John 14:5-14 and 2 Timothy 3:14-17
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
The Prayer for Illumination
You are the light, O Lord, that shines in our darkness. Yours is the Word that steps into the confusion of our world. Speak clearly today from your Word. Illumine our minds that we may be able to hear as clearly as you speak. May your servant today be a faithful expression of your voice. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Sermon: Standing on Solid Ground
(Full Membership - #2)
The Prayer of Application
*Hymn of Application: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" RN152, SNC77, TWC539, WOV649
WE RESPOND TO GOD WITH OUR COMMITMENTS
The Introduction of the Educational Staff
The Charge from the Congregation:
We are the people of God, called to serve him in all things.
We desire to grow in his grace; encourage us.
We desire to grow in his knowledge; teach us.
We desire to serve together; coordinate and lead us.
We desire to teach others also; challenge us.
We have many gifts and resources.
Help us to catch a larger vision, to love others, to work for mercy and justice, and
to follow our Lord in faith.
And above all, teach us that all glory be given to Him!
The Commissioning of the Educational Staff:
Peter speaks pointedly to Christians trying to live faithfully in a world that is often not a friend of the truth. He says, "Therefore, dear friends.be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:17,18)
Paul cautions us to be careful how we build: "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light." (1 Corinthians 3:11-13) And Paul prays with the Ephesians that they may ".in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is Christ.." (Ephesians 4:15)
So we ask you:
Will you teach us those things which are right and true?
Will you approach your task by praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Will you stand fast in your own faith?
Will you teach us the Word of God and pray that it will transform our lives?
Will you respect our questions and searching?
Will you now take up your tasks with such a commitment before God?
Response: Yes, we will, God helping us!
*Song: "Seek Ye First the Kingdom" (Lafferty: PH333, PsH 209, SFL155, TWC447, WOV783; Cranham: RL263)
The Prayers of the People
Offertory: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light", Biery [organ] or Behnke [handbells]
*Our Affirmation of Faith:
In our world, bent under the weight of sin,
Christ gathers a new community.
Satan and his evil forces seek
whom they may confuse and swallow;
but Jesus builds his church, his Spirit guides, and grace abounds.
God has not left this world
without ways of knowing him.
He shows his power and majesty
in the creation;
he has mercifully spoken
through prophets, history writers, poets,
gospel writers, and apostles -
and most clearly through the Son.
The Spirit who moved humans
to write the Word of God
speaks to us in the Bible.
The Bible is the Word of God,
record and tool of his redeeming work.
It is the Word of Truth,
fully reliable in leading us
to know God
and have life
in Jesus Christ.
(Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, arts. 37,34,35, © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1-800-333-8300. Used by permission.)
WE DEPART TO SERVE IN GOD'S WORLD
*Song: "Lord, We Hear Your Word with Gladness" (Holy Manna) SNC89
*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!
*A Moment of Meditation
Postlude: "Lord, We Hear Your Word with Gladness", Held [organ] or Carter [piano]
* - you are invited to stand
This sermon is intended to be the second in a series of four on what full membership in the body of Christ involves and implies. The first sermon focused on the commitment to be faithful in worship. This sermon calls the church member to a faithful and regular study of the Word of God for the sake of his/her growth in the truth and grace of God. The sermon title, "Standing on Solid Ground", implies the perilous situation of Christians who are not well-grounded in the scriptures, and this message warns hearers of such danger. We are surrounded and bombarded by all kinds of viewpoints, some of them very dangerous, and only believers on "solid ground" will be able to stand fast. The Deuteronomy passage helps us to see God's concern (and Moses') that a new generation of Hebrews were trained in truth.
I have developed this sermon along the lines of the other two passages which together form a double foundation of "solid ground".
In John 14, Jesus points to himself as the only Savior in whom to trust. I found it helpful to highlight two dangers. Some folks will affirm only the bland "I believe in God" and by it mean only a very general spirituality that includes any and all religious viewpoints. Others hold to a monotheism in which they affirm a divine Being, but do not necessarily see him as personal, nor do they believe Jesus Christ is his Son. Christ calls us to acknowledge that he alone is our hope for salvation and is the only way to the Father.
The other passage, from 2 Timothy 3, expresses that the Bible is the authoritative and inspired written Word of God which provides the foundation for our faith and the equipment for our growth in grace. The Paul who wrote this to Timothy is the same Paul who exhorted Christians everywhere to continue in the Word of God. See Acts 20:32. Those who are committed to Jesus Christ as the only Savior must, therefore, be children of His who commune with him and learn from his Word on a daily basis.
I concluded this message with some questions of self-evaluation about personal and family practices, and called my hearers to new commitments to personal study.
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)
Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult
- The suggestions for prelude music can be found in the following sources:
- "Partita on 'Slane' " by Charles Callahan, published by Concordia 97-6046  (M)
- "How Sweet the Sound", a collection of hymn transcriptions for piano by John Leavitt published by Concordia 97-6891  (M)
- "Be Thou My Vision" by Hal H. Hopson for 3 octave handbell choir published by Coronet CP2004  (E).
- The SATB anthem (based on Isaiah 55:6-7), used as a call to confession, is composed by John Carter and published by Hope JC 287  (E-M).
- An alternative harmonization for "I Will Sing of My Redeemer" (Hyfrydol) can be found in "Preludes and Postludes vol. 1" by Wilbur Held, published by Augsburg 11-9318  (E).
- "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" is arranged for SATB choir by Benjamin Harlan and is published by Alfred 19876  (E). While it is preferable to have the congregation sing this text, you may wish to consider this anthem, also based on the tune Houston.
- The offertory suggestions can be found in:
- "Twentieth Century Hymn Tune Settings" by James Biery, published by Morningstar MSM-10-865  (E)
- "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" arranged by John Behnke for 3 or 5 octaves and published by Concordia 97-6611  (M).
- The postlude music can be found in:
- "Preludes and Postludes vol. 1" by Wilbur Held and published by Augsburg 11-9318  (E)
- "Folk Hymns for Piano" by John Carter, published by Hope 240  (E-M).
1. The intent and theme of this service (see above) should be stated clearly at the beginning in the Call to Worship to focus the hearts and minds of worshipers.
2. The Service of Renewal uses the direct words of Scripture for our confession of sin and the assurance of pardon. Both are words of David. The prayer of confession (from Psalm 51) can be prayed in unison, or responsively. It may be more convenient to print the text in the worship sheet. Notice that the assurance of pardon reverses David's exclamations from Psalm 32 - first the word about forgiveness and then the grateful exclamation about blessedness.
We are suggesting the weaving of prayer and song following the assurance of pardon. The prayer would consist of the reading of the verses of "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" (PH376, 4vv.; PsH568, 3vv.; RL464, 3vv.; RN196, 3vv.; TH529, 4vv. [Beecher]; TWC558, 4vv. [Beecher]). The leader would pray the text of "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" verse 1, followed by the congregation's singing of verse 1 of "I Will Sing of My Redeemer". The leader would then continue by praying verse 2 of "Love Divine" followed by the singing of "I Will Sing of My Redeemer" verse 2. The pattern would continue with the third stanza of each of these songs, spoken and sung. [NOTE: Some hymnals have set these hymns with 3 verses, some 4, and some are set to different tunes; also, not all hymnals contain both of these hymns. All of these differences are shown above or in the service.]
3. Because of its location, we suggest that the Children's Moment might best deal with the theme of our grateful living as forgiven people. Perhaps begin with the question, "how do we know what someone (a parent, teacher, etc.) wants us to do?" The only way to know is to have them tell or instruct us - and we listen well. Then we can make the next point about the importance of listening to God (from his Word) explain how we should live as forgiven people.
4. The three Scripture passages are a complementary trio. In Deuteronomy, Moses speaks about the importance of grounding the next generation in the truth of God. In John, Jesus speaks of himself as "the way and the truth and the life". And Paul, in 2 Timothy, speaks of the inspired Word of God as "useful".
5. For the commissioning of the educational staff we have included everyone who anticipates being involved in the educational ministry of the congregation during the coming year. We include the education/training of all ages - children, youth and adults. We include the committee members, supervisors, sponsors, and teachers. It is important to be as inclusive as possible so none are overlooked. During the commissioning part of the service, we have asked them to stand and hear the challenge and commission, and express their commitment. They remain standing from the time of their introduction until they have expressed their commitment. We have found it helpful to print the list of all such groups, and perhaps even individuals, with the worship sheet.
6. The Prayers of the People may involve the usual congregational and pastoral concerns, but should also include intercession for those just commissioned. Each of the groups just commissioned should be lifted up for God's support and blessing. It may be helpful to have a variety of persons intercede for different age groups, or have some pray for the teachers and others for the learners.
7. Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony is a contemporary formulation of faith and commitment that was adopted by the Christian Reformed Church in 1986 for use in its worship (PsH pp. 1030, 1029). For copyright permission, please contact CRC Publications at (616) 224-0819, 1-800-333-8300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.