Here’s our weekly recap of the Sunday service at my home church. This time, I led the worship service while Peter preached from 1 Timothy 2:3-6, carefully explaining through some quite tough gospel dilemmas. We concluded the service by taking communion together in remembrance of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Order of service

Call to worship: In light of the Pike River coal miner incident, I tried to acknowledge the fact that we don’t worship in a vacuum but in real life, where there’s troubles, difficulties and events that sometimes just make it difficult to focus on God on a Sunday. This is what I said:

I’m sure many of you have been listening to the news to try and find out the latest about the 29 miners trapped in the Pike River coal mine. I don’t know what you were thinking this morning as you walked in, whether you’ve been wondering where God is in all this. And you may have your own trials, you might even be finding it hard to think of reasons praise God right now. It’s a difficult truth to grasp at the best of times, but we worship a God who is sovereign, who is in control.

Let’s remind ourselves then, as people reconciled to God through Christ, we have so many reasons to praise God!

In Psalm 147 it says: “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praise to our God… he heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!”

Well we’ve got more than a lyre this morning, we’ve got the voices of Howick Baptist here – let’s stand together and sing to our amazing God.

The funny thing is, I had prepared a completely different call to worship beforehand. but once the mining events that transpired became apparent, it didn’t feel as appropriate. I guess it always pays to be keeping up with current events. In any case these miners are still very much on my mind even today…

1. Indescribable by Laura Story. Much of the beautiful imagery in the lyrics about God’s authorship over creation comes from the book of Job, where God responds him in a declaration of His sovereignty. He asks Job: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:4) “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons, or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (Job 38:31-32). So it’s actually quite fitting therefore to sing in response:

“All-powerful, untameable, awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim You are amazing God!”

2. Salvation Belongs to our God by Adrian Howard and Pat Turner. This is a firm HBC favourite, from the 1980’s. The words are taken straight from Revelation 5, in the scene where multitudes worship the Lamb who was slain (i.e. Jesus Christ), saying: “Praise and glory wisdom and thanks, honour and power and strength be to our God forever and ever, amen!”

3. Come Thou Fount by Robert Robinson. An older hymn that speaks so strongly of God’s sovereign grace for His people. To help the younger congregants, we used a modified version which used another line in place of “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” (which is  an obscure, not well-understood reference to 1 Samuel 7); and changed a few words like “hitherto” and “fetter”, which people don’t really use today.

4. Grace Unmeasured by Bob Kauflin. A newer song by Sovereign Grace Music that do a really good job of presenting the gospel from the perspective of God’s amazing, undeserved grace.

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-24. Francelle read out one of the passages that speaks of God’s sovereign grace and mercy to believers, redeemed in Christ.

5. Oh the Mercy of God by Geoff Bullock. The words from this song are pretty much drawn from Ephesians 1, and also Colossians 1 in speaking of the divinity of Christ. It’s got a rousing chorus where in response to the gospel, we get to sing:

“To the praise of His glorious grace! To the praise of His glory and power. To him be all glory, honour and praise, forever and ever, and ever, Amen!”

How can you get more God-centred than that!

Sermon: 1 Timothy 2:3-6. This is definitely a sermon to rewatch and go over again. Peter revisited the text from last week and tried to work through a number of gospel dilemmas, apparent contradictions in scripture regarding salvation and Jesus’s work on the cross. As Peter holds a moderate Reformed position (he explains it in the message), many of our songs this morning were deliberately chosen to emphasise and support the sovereignty of God in His work of salvation.

6. Salvation’s Song by Stuart Townend. We played this for the church as they contemplated the cross and took part in communion. They’re beautiful words that work well in helping to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made to pay for the sins of the world.

7. All I Have Is Christ by Devon Kauflin. A profoundly moving way to finish, by singing through the gospel:

“And as I ran my hellbound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
As I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace…”

Once again it was a great morning of worship. I didn’t feel too confident about some aspects earlier on in the week, and my voice deserted me for a bit on Saturday – so it’s in times like these you really learn to trust and rely on God’s strength, not your own.

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-William Chong

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