Suggested readings for week of May 1st
Psalm 115 and 116
Hello all! This week we are in the book of Psalms, and the suggested reading is chapters 115 and 116. These chapters focus on God’s work, and in giving the glory to him. I particularly like verse one of chapter 115:
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
(taken from the ESV)
As I was getting ready to write this blog, I was listening to a couple of contemporary Christian songs and was struck by the contrast between them and these Psalms. They were good songs, and communicated biblical truth, but the difference in emphasis was noticeable. While those seemed to talk primarily about choices made by the believer, the believer taking a stand, giving his all, and the like, the emphasis seemed to be “I”. In these Psalms, the focus seems to be not on I, but on He. The focus is God, his glory, his work in us and for us, and his deliverance of his people. There were certainly expressions here of what our right response to God should be as well, and that’s good, but God is clearly presented as the source our benefits and our salvation.
In the same way, most of the unsaved people you will talk to will focus on the “I”, looking inward for salvation, depending on themselves to clean themselves up. If they believe in a god of another religion, it is still their actions that they think will or will not make them right with that god. Even an atheist will generally present themselves as a good person, and claim to have the best interests of society as a whole at heart. We need to show them that their dependence must be on the true God alone for salvation, the Lord of the heavens, who does as he pleases. All praise to him that he was pleased to save us.
So for your gospel presentation, I would encourage you to ask people what they are depending on. An idol? Their own good works?
Then discuss sin, and how we are deserving of judgment and hell for our moral crimes against a holy God.
Then talk about God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, and that God is patient, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Remind your listeners that God will hear our pleas for mercy if we come to him in humility. He rejects the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
I would also encourage you to work on your own at finding additional supplemental verses dealing with subjects such as idolatry, the lack of goodness in man, God’s anger at and hatred of sin, faith rather than works as the source of salvation, and other verses that represent the pieces of a biblical gospel presentation. They will be immensely helpful in adding clarity to your preaching.
All for His glory!