It's so good to be able to gather with friends to worship the Lord at New Hope. It was awesome to see Bill and Harriet Standifer back from their holiday travels as well as others who were visiting. I shared with the congregation just how grateful I was for the blessing of worship today.
We had rehearsed four songs which is a lot for us. We usually only do three in the set, but we did all four today plus the commitment song.
Better Is One Day
God With Us
In Christ Alone
I Will Rise
My Jesus I Love Thee
We did pretty well I thought with them, but I didn't like the way they didn't flow together (or feel like it, anyway.) I'm praying about how we can find a "zone" in worship where we just let God be God and exalt His name in praise. Sometimes it all just seems so "this is the part when we sing", and now "here's the preaching." Really going to spend some time praying through it this week. Pray with me.
We continued the focus on going deeper with a look at the parable of the soils in Mark 4. There's so much information and contextual depth that it's a real challenge to preach. I opened with a video of world famous violinist Joshua Bell playing in the Washington DC metro station as commuters just stream by without stopping to listen. Bell sells out performances all over the world, performing with his priceless Stradivarious. But in that context, with those people, very few heard him. The music and the messenger were the same that had sold out the theater the night before. The problem was the listeners didn't "have ears to hear."
Then I began the message. The powerpoint is below.
It's hard to gauge response after sermons like today's. Having been here for over ten years now, I know a lot about the "back stories" some of us come to worship having lived. The personalities and struggles of some are known as well. But for me, my hope is that I teach the truth in a way that lets the Holy Spirit do the convicting and not the pastor's words. My prayer today is that some who found themselves as one of the three "soils" who were not growing to become what God had planned for them will decide to change.
If they don't, it's not because the Word failed them.
He who has ears to hear let him hear.