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Sermon Application

Ordinary People: Work as Worship

Highlights by Sydney Gautier

Work should lead to worship.

When Barry first said this, it sounded strange to me. I’ve worked as a waitress, a hostess, a substitute teacher, an ice cream scooper, and even a carousel attendant. I can’t say that any of those felt like acts of worship, but as strange as it sounds, God cared about my ice cream scooping and the carousel attending. He cares about the way I work in these incredibly mundane jobs. I should, too. 

God ordained work. 

There was work in the garden of Eden before there was sin. Adam and Eve worked in the garden before they sinned, so it’s important to remember that work isn’t a punishment. Work is good. God even works every day to sustain His creation and make all things new. Jesus worked too. “My father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17). God called us to be workers as well. He would not have done so unless it was good for us. He has called us to be teachers and construction workers and baristas and ice cream scoopers because he is a good father and knows what is best for us.

We are to work as living sacrifices.

God wants us to be totally dedicated and devoted to Him in our work. Paul puts it this way, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men...You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24). For me, this would mean scooping ice cream as if Jesus was the one I would be handing the cone to. Or setting a table as if Jesus was the one that was about to sit down and eat. If this is the way I would go about my work, my attitude would be completely different. I would go from being indifferent to being vigilant and engaged.

Extraordinary things happen when ordinary people do ordinary things with gospel intentionality.

What would happen if we went to work with this mindset everyday? A lot of the time, for me anyways, work can feel mundane and ordinary. Gospel intentionality changes this, though. We can use work as an act of worship. The gospel allows us to treat the people we work with differently because God’s glorification is the end goal. We are able to love the boss who is constantly breathing down our neck. We can show patience to the co-worker who has a hard time following directions. When we succeed at a project, we give the glory to God and are able to be grateful to him. 

Barry calculated that over our lifetimes, each of us will work on average 80,000 hours. That’s over 9 years of our lives that could be transformed from an act of weariness to an act of worship.

 

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Three Keys to Prayer from Gethsemane

This post was written by Pastor Barry Rager. Pastor Barry is the Pastor of Vision and Preaching at New Circle Church.

The Bible is an amazing book.  So often, as I prepare for and write sermons, I struggle to limit myself to one primary idea.  This week was no exception. Luke's account of Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane is packed full of truth. One of the blessings of this blog is that I can pass on some of the gold I found in prep that didn't support the overall theme of the sermon.

The following is an adaptation of one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons 'Gethsemane.'  I hope it speaks to you as much as it did to me.  

Jesus prayed a lonely prayer. 

Jesus withdrew from his friends a stones throw to seek his Father.  Throughout Jesus’ life we see him often engaging in solitary prayer.  Spurgeon wrote, “Believer, especially in temptation, be much in solitary prayer. As private prayer is the key to open Heaven, so is it the key to shut the gates of Hell. As it is a shield to prevent, so is it the sword with which to fight against temptation.”

Jesus prayed a Son’s prayer.

Jesus began his prayer by saying, “O My Father.”  Mark uses the words “Abba, Father.”   When Jesus taught his followers how to pray he encouraged them to come to God as Father.  As you pray to God in the face of hardship come to him as a child, as an adopted son or daughter of the King.  Again, Spurgeon wrote, “You have no rights as a subject. You have forfeited them by your treason, but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a father’s protection.”

Jesus prayed a prayer of resignation.

When Jesus was seeking God he prayed, ‘…not as I will, but as You will.”  Jesus put aside his own self-preservation and chose obedience to his Father.  Last, Spurgeon wrote, “Be perfectly content to leave the result of your prayer in His hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold.”

May these words be a blessing and an encouragement to you as you seek God in prayer!

May the LORD bless you and keep you this week,
Pastor Barry

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Look Back. Look at the Present. Look Forward.

This post was written by Kasey Clark. Kasey is a pastoral assistant at New Circle Church.

Communion is a compelling call to evangelism. Pastor Barry encourages us, as the body of Christ, to take communion from this stance: “Look back, look at the present, and look forward.” My goal is to help you do that as we consider the significance of Christ’s last Passover meal in the final hours of his life. Let’s commit to accomplishing this by saturating our considerations with Scripture. And finally, let’s work toward this goal by structuring our considerations with the phrasing of Paul, who summed up the Lord’s supper in 1 Corinthians 11:26 like this: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1. “The Lord’s Death” – Look Back


We initially see the story of the Passover take place in Exodus 12:1-32. (If you have never read this account, it would be extremely beneficial to you to take 5 minutes to read it.) The command is given that the people must kill the “Passover lamb”, one which is without spot or blemish (vs.5), and the blood of the lamb must be placed on the doorposts (vs.7). This was because the LORD was going to “pass through the land of Egypt that night.” His mission was to “strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt [He] will execute judgments.” And he did this that all may know that “I am the LORD.” The blood of the lamb is important because God said, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you.” God goes public with His holiness (or we could say – His “separateness” from the god’s of Egypt) by establishing that judgment is the just consequence of sin, rebellion, and idolatry.

We see that the lamb gave his life so that those within the household did not have to give theirs. The lamb’s blood covered the household from the just judgment of God, designating safety for all inside the covering. The lamb’s blood signaled that those within the family were God’s people. If we take the above considerations and substitute each lowercase “l” in “lamb” with a capital “L”, we begin to see the continuity between the death of the Passover lamb in Egypt and the death of the Passover Lamb on Calvary. Next, let’s explore how the Israelites reacted to this information and how we must respond.

2. “You Proclaim” – Look at the Present


When Moses finishes telling the people of Israel about the institution of the Passover lamb, we see at the end of Exodus 12:27 that the people responded like this, “And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.” When the joy of this good news hit their ears, the result was an overflow of worship at the wisdom of God. The joy of finding out that there was a substitute could not be suppressed, and rather poured over into a humble worship.

This is the joy that Peter wrote about. 1 Peter 1:8 says, “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” Later in the same chapter, Peter explains the purpose behind this joy. He says:

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave Him glory.“

The plan all along was that Christ would be our substitute. And Peter ends chapter one by saying, “This word is the good news that was [proclaimed] to you.” The Lord’s supper is a compelling call to proclaim the gospel both to believers and nonbelievers alike!

3. “Until He Comes” – Looking Forward


Finally, we long for the day when we will eat the Lord’s supper with the Lamb of God. Jesus says in Luke 22:18:

“For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine
until of the kingdom of God comes.”

We, his bride, yearn for that day. For now, we eat and drink, proclaiming his death and his resurrection. All the while, we soar above the “here and now” in our hearts and crave the “there and then.” We ache to behold the King of Kings face to face and sing these songs with the angels in heaven:

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” – Revelation 5:9-10

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  – Revelation 7:10

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen!”  – Revelation 7:12

If these songs do not swell up the inexpressible joy in your heart for Christ, consider that we will wear white in the presence of God because of our Passover Lamb. Our sin will be gone. Our unrighteousness will no longer have a hold on us. Listen to how one of the elders describes why we will be clothed in white in the presence of God:

They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
– Revelation 7:14

When you take communion, do you look back to Christ’s death? Do you look at the present by proclaiming the gospel? And do you look forward to the time when Christ comes back? If not, it’s not too late to change. Paul gives the solution, “You proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

In essence, Paul says this to you, joyfully proclaim the white-washing blood of the slain Lamb until He comes to sup with you and the rest of His bride in the kingdom! How magnificent is this Passover proclamation! Let these considerations not only move you the next time you partake in communion but let them also compel you toward evangelism of those who may not have been cleansed by the white-washing blood of the Lamb.

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White Flag

This post was written by Kasey Clark. Kasey is a pastoral assistant at New Circle Church.

“Go in peace.” These consoling words were spoken by Jesus after a sinful woman wept on and washed his feet. How weird was this situation? A woman walked up behind Jesus eating dinner, profusely sobbed onto his feet, then proceeded to mop His feet with her hair. Pastor Barry interprets this action as being “her declaration that she was the lowest of the low.” The woman waved her white flag of surrender, and literally bowed down to worship Jesus. This story of the sinful woman who met Jesus that day is a powerful example to us of how we must lay down our lives in response to Christ’s forgiveness. We must respond to Christ in surrender, humility, and joy. We will be cherishing these responses as we reflect on the beautiful old song, “All to Jesus I Surrender.”

SURRENDER

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Have you surrendered all to Jesus? Have you freely given everything to him? One thing we learn as we read Scripture and experience life is there is a war in our hearts. We are born with hearts that are actively at war with God. We are born as part of the army of darkness, and so we wage war on the light of God at every turn. In our rebellion against the light of God, He actively makes an effort to release us from our rebellion. Like Pastor Barry says, “If you think to yourself, ‘I came to Jesus.’ Jesus says in response, ‘No, I came to you!’” How He does this is by shining the light of the gospel into our hearts. Regarding this, Paul explains,

“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed…For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 3:16, 4:6)

When the light of the gospel shines in our hearts and reveals to us the glory of God, the waving of our white flag is the only right response. Wave the white flag today. Give up your war on God today, and turn to a lifestyle of loving and trusting Him as the song compels us. This leads us to consider how we surrender our all to God.

HUMILITY

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

The humility displayed by the sinful-turned-saint woman is breathtaking. This woman acted in pure humility when she took a jar of ointment and anointed Jesus’ feet. Along with this, she wiped down His feet with her hair. Then on top of all that, she kissed His stinky, sweaty feet.

Pastor Barry shows not only how her action would have been seen as the ultimate sign of humility, but also the contrast to how proud Jesus’ host was. The impudence of this Pharisee to invite a well-known Rabbi and a sought-after Prophet who had just recently raised a man from the dead to your home and not wash his feet was rude. He finishes his display of pride by questioning in his heart the actions of the Son of God, which is a slap to the face of God himself. This “religious leader” did not desire to surrender all and humbly bow to his God. He decided to clench tightly to his worldly pleasures and reject Jesus.

What will you do? Will you wave your white flag,  humbly bow your knees, forsake all worldly pleasure, and cling to Jesus? If you do, there are innumerable joys that await you at His feet.

JOY

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory to His name!

After the humble surrender of your heart to Christ, His goal is to glorify God by satisfying you. He satisfies you by lighting the wick of your soul with His eternal flame so that you experience a spectacular joy in God. This is the fire that blazed in King David’s heart when he said,

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him.”
(Ps. 34:8)

It was no mistake then that when David turned his back on God to his worldly pleasures, the fire of his heart was faintly flickering. During this dark time, he pleaded with God,

“Return to me the joy of my salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
(Ps. 51:12)

The desire of David’s heart was joy. The aftermath of humbly surrendering your heart to God is joy. The aftermath of this sinful woman’s waving of her white flag is the comforting benediction of peace. The aftermath of your surrendering all to God is the forgiveness of your sins, all-satisfying joy in God, and a peaceful reconciliation with God. Please, do not pridefully shrug at this Jesus. The angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14) Jesus’ mission was to bring peace to the enemies of God. So don’t shrug. Surrender, humble yourself, and pursue the only fountain of all-satisfying joy there is. It’s not far from you. It’s found in the face of Jesus. Look at His face. There, you will find peace. There, He will whisper in your ear, “Go in peace.”

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