＊会堂で礼拝を持ち、ZOOMで様子をライブ配信。This service: in person at our church spaces and shared via ZOOM.
(For those interested in an English summary of the sermon, please contact us.)
礼拝式順 Order of Worship １０：４５〜１２：００
|招きの言葉||Call to Worship||詩篇 Psalm 111:1~5|
|さ ん び||Opening Praise||「偉大な方 How Great Is our God」|
|さ ん び||Praise||「おどろくばかりの〜罪とがを自由にされて Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)」|
|賛 美||Hymn||教会福音讃美歌番 40番 「父の神の真実」|
|聖書朗読||Scripture Reading||申命記 Deuteronomy 8:1~20|
|聖書の話||Sermon||“A Call to Remember, Reflect and Hope in our Faithful God / 誠実な神を覚え、その栄光を映し、待ち望む招き”
|賛 美||Hymn of Response||教会福音讃美歌 355番 「私の望みは」1~3節|
|頌 栄||Doxology||教会福音讃美歌 271番 「「父・子・聖霊の」|
|後 奏||Amen||讃美歌 567番[V]「アーメン・アーメン・アーメン」|
説教 “A Call to Remember, Reflect and Hope in our Faithful God / 誠実な神を覚え、その栄光を映し、待ち望む招き”
SCRIPTURE CONTEXT/ INTRO: As we begin, I invite you to consider the unique context in which Moses spoke the words we have just read from Deuteronomy chapter 8. This passage is part of a longer “address” that Moses gave to God’s people as they were camped east of the Jordan river, just outside of the promised land.
It’s very important when we read Deuteronomy to remember that God (through Moses) is addressing the adult children of those who left Egypt 40 years ago. God decreed that their parents would die in the wilderness because of their unbelief and lack of trust in God and his promises! (The only exceptions were Caleb and Joshua who were faithful to the Lord.)
It’s good to remember that the oldest group, who are now in their 40’s and 50’s, actually witnessed the crossing of the Red Sea when they were children or teenagers! It is these people plus those born in the desert who Moses is challenging to be faithful to the one true covenant God. Moses encourages them to believe in God’s promises, to obey his commands, and to be strong and courageous – to conquer the land promised to them. It was a time of change and anticipation but also of weariness, pressures, and anxiety about the future.
Moses’ message has some surprising parallels to our situation today. Today, we face many uncertainties, challenges, and fears but also exciting new opportunities to trust and obey our faithful God! There are also times that we naturally reflect on our life: perhaps when we change jobs, experience a crisis, or move to a new place or just as a new year begins. As a church, it seems that KMGC may be experiencing a special time of growth and change – so perhaps this is also a good time as a church to reflect on how God has been at work and consider where He may lead us in the days ahead!
I believe that this passage of scripture can be summarized as “A Call to Remember, Reflect and Hope in – our Faithful God”!
- A call to Remember – our Faithful God! Let’s look at the first point together… we are called to REMEMBER! But what exactly does this mean?
In verses 1-5, the Lord highlights the covenant relationship with his people! We could describe a covenant as “a sovereign bond of love between God and his people”. A typical “echo” or “chorus” of Covenant promise that God sings throughout scripture sounds like this: “I Will be your God, and you will be my people.”
A specific aspect of the Lord’s relationship highlighted in this text is his Fatherly care! It may sound strange, but God caused his covenant people to wander in the wilderness for their good. This passage reminds us that one of the ways, that our Heavenly Father cares for us includes trials and discipline. Let’s read v. 2-3 again to see how God uses trials and hardships to care for his children! Read 8:2-3 We see that God uses trials first of all: to humble us. For those the Lord addresses today, the point of their “suffering” was not primarily a punitive punishment, but rather Fatherly discipline, used to humble them. This helped them realize their true dependence on their heavenly Father for everything they need.
God ministers to us as whole people and he provides for real physical needs. (In Deuteronomy 29:5 – the Lord reminds the Israelites… “Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet.”) Our heavenly father graciously provided desert-proof clothing and footgear with a 40-year guarantee! He also sent mana from heaven and quail each day. He provided a cloud for shade from the desert sun and a pillar of fire for warmth and guidance.
Secondly, God word says that He used the wilderness to to test the hearts of his people. So that they might believe his promises and obey! Notice that God used these trials in the desert, to help the Israelites realize that even greater than their physical needs – were there spiritual needs. We need God himself, as this passage reminds us “that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD”. (v. 3)
APLICATION 1: We are called to REMEMBER God’s Covenant blessings and His fatherly care which guides and sustains us. As you think about the past months, years or even just the last week… we should ask ourselves: “How is our memory?” That is to say, “With what spirit or attitude do we remember?”
- Are we quick to remember the actions of our Faithful father – with hearts full of humility, and gratitude and faith?
- Or do we only remember life’s difficulties with worry, fear, irritation, anger, bitterness or regret?
ILUSTRATION & TRANSITION: When we lived in Chile, 2019 was a particularly challenging year. There was an unexpected outbreak of political and social unrest. Also, many families (including ours) experienced difficulties and health challenges that year. On December 31st, we celebrated new year with friends. At midnight, one of our dear Christian friends prayed these words with sincerity: “Lord, thank you for this year that you have given us.” I thought to myself as she prayed, ‘This year?… Can I truly thank the Lord for a year like this?’ It’s a good question: Can you and I pray – and live – with gratitude in our hearts – even in difficult times? By God’s grace, let’s Remember God’s covenant promises and his Fatherly care for us – because he is faithful!
Secondly, this text also calls us to…
- Reflect our faithful God in the present! (v. 6-17)
How do we reflect God in our lives day-to-day? The simple answer is that we reflect God by loving him – and with a sincere desire to obey him! As we do so we are called to REFLECT God and his character – as a mirror reflects light! As we Read Deut 8: 11-17, let’s think about the ways in which both we and the Israelites are called to Reflect our Faithful God. [For brevity, as it is read aloud in Japanese, I would ask English-speakers to please read along in your Bibles.]
Moses’ message to God’s people – gives us three real-life situations or places in which we are called to Reflect the Lord.
- We we need to reflect God in the Desert – As with the Israelites wandering in the desert… we also experience times of testing and trials… sometimes we may experience physical needs or perhaps times of spiritual “drought”. We reflect him, even in these hard circumstances – by following his precepts, loving his ways, and honoring his name. Just as he did for the Israelites in our passage, Lord often uses these trials and adverse conditions for our good – to train, test and strengthen us!
The second place in which the Israelites (and we) are called to REFLCT the Lord is…
2) In the Promised Land – In Deuteronomy 8, the Lord warns this generation of Israelites, that their greatest challenge may not come from the scarcity of the desert… but rather from the temptation of abundance, peace and comfort. Ironically, Moses warns that as Israel experiences the riches of God’s blessing in the Promised Land of Canaan, they will be tempted to abandon the Lord. He warns them not to become prideful – pretending to be self-sufficient, and ignoring their need for God. How will they respond? How do we respond to the Lord when things are going well?
There is a third setting in which God is calling Israel to be faithful on the battlefield!
3) In Battle – This battle, is is the challenging task that their parent’s generation feared. To successfully enter the land that God has promised… will require them to trust in God and his strength (rather than their own)!
Let’s read a few verses from God’s instructions about this upcoming battle back one chapter in Deuteronomy 7:17-18.
They will indeed face a very real battle – requiring much courage and dependence on the Lord. Yet, the main battle for the Israelites (and for us) is the battle to trust in God and his promises – especially when we’re under pressure! It’s a battle of the heart. Essentially God is saying: ‘Just as I accomplished my purposes in delivering you from Egypt, I will also give you this land. Obey me, trust me and I will equip you to walk in obedience and to reflect my Glory in these upcoming battles. For this is not your battle, it is my battle.’
Application 2: Where are you today? Perhaps in the desert, or in a time of blessing and abundance, or in the pressure of a battle? Are you facing times of adversity, and perhaps feel that you have a small, dry faith? Or do you think that abundance or ease is tempting you to abandon your dependence on God? Or perhaps your faith is coming under some extreme pressure or you are facing a task that you fear is too big for you – much like a battle…
Whatever our current situation, our faithful God is calling us to REFLECT him! I would encourage you perhaps this afternoon or this week to consider – in what specific way is God is calling you to reflect HIM. We could also ask the Lord how is calling us to reflect Him together as His body!
Not only are we called to Remember and to Reflect our faithful God – but as we look to the future, we are called to…
- Hope in our faithful God! (v. 18-20)
There is both an encouragement and a challenge as we examine the last point which Moses teaches in this passage. It is a sober warning that we should be careful to examine our faith. Let’s read Deut. 8:18-20 together.
Let’s face it, if it were up to us to remember God’s covenant… if it were up to me to faithfully reflect my Lord – in the desert times, in abundance and under the pressure of battle… I am bound to fail! In my own strength, I cannot even REMEMBER His goodness with proper humility, trust and gratitude! So, I if I don’t even properly remember the Lord’s faithfulness to me – I certainly can’t guarantee that I’ll REFLECT him faithfully to the end of my life (or even the end of the week!) So, as we read verses like these… and examine our lives, where is our HOPE?
My only hope is not in our faithfulness, our goodness or our efforts… but rather in the Lord! So, a sobering, yet important question for us to ask ourselves is: “Do I trust in Christ’s work on my behalf?
- Do I believe that there is One who perfectly withstood the temptations of Satan in the desert … whose life and lips declare ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’? (Mt. 4:4 / Deut. 8:3)
- Do I believe that there is One ‘who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God?’ (Heb 12:2)
If you can truly answer yes to these questions – and are trusting and believing in Jesus as our only hope of salvation… then there is nothing to fear, our Faithful God is your sure hope!
This is why the Apostle Paul can write with confidence about the believers in Philippi, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6) For all who are united to Christ by faith, our faithful Triune God is our sure Hope!
IL: Wedding picture… As I am impacted by the truth of today’s passage, I think a simple photo might be able to help us clarify God’s calling. This is a picture of Stacy and I on our wedding day…
- As we look back to the past… Stacy and I Remember God’s Faithfulness over our 22 years of marriage – both in good times and difficult moments. We remember our Father’s faithfulness – giving thanks to him for his gracious care – to protect, sustain and guide us.
- Also, when we look at this picture together and focus on the glass… we see our own reflection in the frame. That reminds us to ask, how are we reflecting God in the present? Whatever circumstance… whether desert trials, the pressure of a battlefield or the benefits abundance… we see our reflection and are prompted to ask… How are we reflecting the Lord today?
- Yet, there’s a third way that we can look at this picture. As Pastor Tim Keller reminds us in one of his writings, when we look at our spouse (or anyone in our lives), we shouldn’t just see them with all of their sin and imperfections. Perhaps we have a few more wrinkles and a bit less hair. Certainly, we also have some annoying traits and sinful attitudes or actions that we can’t seem to shake. Though we must always humbly confess our sin and admit our weakness, the Lord would also encourage us to look at each other (and ourselves) with great hope – as we look forward to who God is making us to be! If we know Christ as our Savior, He is at work molding us and shaping us. We can look forward assured by the faithfulness of our God, that he will complete his work in us!
As Christians and as a Church community – our calling today to… Remember, Reflect and Hope in our Faithful God!