Monday 13 August 2012

Diary of a sermon prep: A fairly typical Sunday at the Chinese Church

[0730] Wake up and pray. I pull out a list of names of all my family members, every single person in my congregation, most pastors I know of in Cambridge (especially those I know are preaching this morning), and pray quick-fire bullet-point prayers for each. I pray for the gospel.
[0800] Devotional. “For the Love of God” by Don Carson.

[0830] Final sermon preparations. I produce a two-page outline and rework the headings to my main points. Retitled sermon: “Outsiders, insiders and Inbetweeners”

[0930] Breakfast and off to a local church.

[1130] Lunch
[1200] Last-minute idea to get snacks for after-church party.
[1230] Print off sermon outline and rush for church
[1300] In Chinese Church. The musicians begin their practice. Get to catch up with the guys back from PHAT camp. It’s really hot!

[1400] Sunday Meeting begins. Love the songs chosen by David. Everyone is singing sooo loudly (especially the men)! How encouraging to hear Jesus praised as Lord and Saviour!
[1445] I begin my sermon and speak for 30 minutes from Isaiah Chapter 2.
[1520] Closing song. We end with the words of the grace.
[1530] Impromptu birthday party for Sarah and Lisa followed by group photo (we haven’t had one of these for ages!)
[1600] Hang out with the guys at Weatherspoons. We talk about the service, give thanks for one brother who just recently professed faith in Jesus, make plans for this week’s bible study and next Sunday’s arrangements for the guest speaker (Bartow Wylie). This is always one of the best parts of my Sundays - to be able to cut back, do life and talk about Jesus with my best buds.
[1730] Home. Dinner and the Olympics closing ceremony.


1.    Question: What does it mean for us to be a church in the city?
a.    Impact on Cambridge
b.    Aware of it’s impact on us, songs, sermons
c.    Culture - Just another Chinese gathering?
2.    Isaiah: God addresses the city
a.    City of Righteousness, City of Faithness
b.    NOT because it is righteous, but as part of his act of redemption, he transforms the city and imparts his righteousness
c.    Ch2: Isaiah again addresses Jerusalem
d.    City on a Hill
3.    3 groups of people
a.    Outsiders (verses 1-5)
b.    Insiders (verses 6-19)
c.    Inbetweeners (verses 19-22)
a.    READ: ISAIAH 2:1-5
b.    Nations - outsiders, outcasts, not the people of God
c.    They are saying to one another “Come, let’s go” (verse 3)
d.    This is weird for Isaiah’s friends to here
e.    Chinese church
                                      i.Big sign in chinese
                                     ii.One day, filled with non-Chinese
f.     The result of the gospel (verse 3b)
                                      i.He will teach us his ways, so that we might walk in his paths
                                     ii.God’s word goes out, all nations come in
                                    iii.Submission - not just listening to a good sermon, living according to God’s way
g.    Peace
                                      i.Evidence of submission
                                     ii.READ: verse 4 “He will judge between the nations, settle disputes for many peoples; They will beat their swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks
                                    iii.World peace - Miss Universe
                                   iv.Submission to God’s rule that comes from submission to God’s law
                                    v.Not just compromise, but living under a loving authority
                                   vi.David - good brother and friend, helps us to be good friends to one another; trips: David organiser, guys need to take charge, responsibility - people want to be able to trust that you are fair & loving
h.    Come, O house of Jacob
                                      i.What about you?
                                     ii.Let US walk in God’s light. Are the outsiders putting the insiders to shame?
a.    God looks at the insiders and sees FULLNESS
b.    READ: Verses 6 to 9
                                      i.FULL of superstitions
                                     ii.FULL of silver and gold
                                    iii.FULL of horses
                                   iv.FULL of idols
c.    What is our city best known for?
                                      i.FULL of students
                                     ii.FULL of nobel prize-winners
                                    iii.FULL of churches
d.    Verse 8: Their land is full of idols, they bow down to the work of their hands
e.    Contrast between the OUTSIDERS and INSIDERS
                                      i.OUTSIDERS are leaving their mountains, coming to God’s mountain
INSIDERS are filling God’s city with pagan worship
                                     ii.OUTSIDERS are humbling themselves before God, his word, his rule
INSIDERS are proud of their silver and gold
f.     DO NOT FORGIVE THEM (verse 9)
                                      i.Just because they have the temple
                                     ii.Just because they have the membership card (House of Jacob)
                                    iii.Isaiah sees what God sees - a city full of idolatry - and even on his own people, prays for judgement
                                   iv.WHY? Because God alone deserves to be worshipped
1.    READ Verses 10 to 11
2.    The LORD alone will be worshipped/exalted
3.    Problem is not having too much money, education
4.    Worship our money, education, achievement
5.    Instead of serving God with your money, you serve money as your God - Jesus: You cannot serve 2 masters
6.    In the end, God alone will be worshipped
7.    A Day....
6.    INSIDERS (PART 2) - The Day of the LORD
a.    READ: verses 12 to 18
b.    For all the proud
                                      i.all the exalted
                                     ii.all the cedars
                                    iii.all the oaks
                                   iv.all the mountains
                                    v.all the high hills
                                   vi.all the towers
                                  vii.all the strong (fortified) walls
c.    What are the symbols of pride?
                                      i.Yes, strength, speed, intellect
                                     ii.But also, stable economy (verse 16 - the trading ship), architecture (lofty tower - verse 15), natural resources (oaks of Bashan - verse 13), even beauty (stately ship - beautiful/elegant vessel of verse 16)
                                    iii.Symbols of pride
1.    The arrogance of man, the pride of men (verse 17)
                                   iv.God has set aside a day when the proud will fall
1.    It does NOT say that he will destroy the ships, mountains, the hills
2.    But it does say that the idols will disappear
3.    How will that happen?
4.    We will get rid of our idols
5.    One day God will show up!
a.    READ: Verses 19 to 21
b.    Men will throw away their idols (silver and gold)
                             bats and rodents
                                     ii.unclean animals - these are junk, with the trash
c.    Many look to Rev 6
                                      i.JUDGEMENT - 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, fire on earth, famine, disease, war
                                     ii.Climax - kings, princes, free man hid in caves among the rocks of the mountains “Fall on us, hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
d.    But there is none of that here
                                      i.Not because God won’t judge, he will
                                     ii.Not because it won’t be terrifying and awesome and fearful, it will
                                    iii.But because when it comes to our idols, God doesn’t need to, he just needs to SHOW UP!
                                      i.Those who try to keep both - idols and God
                                     ii.Those who end up losing both
                                    iii.Verse 20: They throw idols of silver and gold to the rodents and bats
                                   iv.When you see God, it doesn’t compare
                                    v.But at the same time, you lose your appetite for true greatness
f.     Jesus said to the Samaritan woman
                                      i.A time is coming when you will neither worship on this mountain or that
                                     ii.Worship the Father in spirit and truth
                                    iii.His death - the hour in John’s gospel is always a reference to the cross
                                   iv.You worship what you do not know - outsiders
                                    v.You worship what you do know - insiders - but even that is going away
                                   vi.One day, worshippers - spirit and truth
8.    Conclusion
a.    outsiders
                                      i.Come in, hear the gospel and come in
b.    insiders
                             is going to be tempting to take God for granted
                                     ii.In the past, the songs remind you of GOd, now they’re just songs; bible reading, prayer
                                    iii.Keep coming, keep turning
c.    Inbetweeners
                                      i.You cannot serve two masters
                                     ii.Spoiling your appetite - addiction, it draws you in, damages your tastebuds, you need more
                                    iii.The only solution: See Jesus for his glory
                                   iv.On the cross: God showed up - in all his glory, all his humility, all his greatness

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