PRELUDE – “Come As You Are” by David Crowder

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Psalm 9:1-2

The Psalmist writes

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

Let’s stand and sing praise to the most high God.

SONG –

We Will Feast in the House of Zion” by Joshua Moore and Sandra McCracken

CONFESSION OF SIN – 

Let’s confess our sins together by praying this prayer aloud

God of love, it is your will that we should love you with heart, soul, mind, strength, 

and our neighbor as ourselves, 

but we are not sufficient for these things. 

We confess that our affections continually turn away from you: 

from purity to lust, from freedom to slavery,

from compassion to indifference, from fullness to emptiness. 

Have mercy on us. 

Order our lives by your holy Word, and make your commandments the joy of our hearts. Conform us to the image of your loving Son, Jesus, 

that we may shine before the world to your glory. 

Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Luke 7:48

And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

SONG – 

There Is A Fountain Filled with Blood” by William Cowper

Promises” by Maverick City

PRAYER Be Seated

SCRIPTURE READING – Zechariah 9:1-17 Please stand for the reading. End with “This is the word of the Lord.” 

SERMON – 

SONG –

Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn)” by Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend

LORD’S TABLE – 

SONG— 

Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE—“I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe

PRELUDE – “Come As You Are” by David Crowder

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Psalm 29:1-2

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

SONG –

Be Thou My Vision” by Ascend the Hill

CONFESSION OF SIN – Psalm 38:18-22

I confess my iniquity;

I am sorry for my sin.

But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,

and many are those who hate me wrongfully.

Those who render me evil for good

accuse me because I follow after good.

Do not forsake me, O Lord!

O my God, be not far from me!

Make haste to help me,

O Lord, my salvation!

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 For the law of the Spirit of life 

has set youfree in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. 

By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, 

he condemned sin in the flesh,

in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, 

who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

SONG – 

Not for a Moment” by Meredith Andrews

You Alone Can Rescue” by Matt Redman

PRAYER Be Seated

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH—XVIII. Of the World to Come

We believe that the end of the world is approaching;

that at the Last Day Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution;

that a solemn separation will then take place;

that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy;

and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell,

on principles of righteousness.

SCRIPTURE READING – Zechariah 8:1-23 Please Stand For The Reading Of God’s Word. Answer with “Thanks Be To God”

SERMON – “A New Jerusalem”

SONG –

In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

LORD’S TABLE – 

SONG— 

We Will Feast in the House of Zion” by Joshua Moore and Sandra McCracken

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE—“I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe

PRELUDE – “Give us Clean Hands” by Charlie Hall

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Psalm 95:1-2

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Let’s stand and sing to the rock of our salvation.

SONG –

Holy, Holy, Holy” by John Bacchus Dykes and Reginald Heber                                        

CONFESSION OF SIN – Hebrews 3:7-13

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
    and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Let’s confess our sins before the Lord as we pray for soft hearts tender to the Spirit’s rebuke and correction.

SONG—

Not in Me” by David L. Ward and Eric Shumacher

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Isaiah 55:6-7

Isaiah declares to the people of God

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

SONG – 

Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me” by CityAlight

PRAYER Be Seated

SCRIPTURE READING (Sophia 9:00/ Emma 11:00) – Exodus 14 Please stand for the reading of God’s word. End with “This is the word of the Lord.” 

SERMON – “Hard Hearts”

SONG –

Worthy Worthy” by Jacob Sooter and Mia Fieldes

LORD’S TABLE – 

SONG—

O Praise the Name (Anástasis)” by Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, and Marty Sampson

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE—“East to West” by Casting Crowns 

PRELUDE – “Oh Great God Give Us Rest” by David Crowder Band

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Deuteronomy 32:3-4

For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
    ascribe greatness to our God!

“The Rock, his work is perfect,
    for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
    just and upright is he.

Let’s stand and sing about our faithful and just God.

SONG –

All Praise to Him” by Bob Kauflin and Matt Merker

CONFESSION OF SIN – 

Let’s confess our sins aloud together reading this corporate confession

Lord, though you should guide us, we inform ourselves;
though you should rule us, we control ourselves;
though you should fulfill us, we console ourselves.
We think your truth too high, your will too hard,
your power too remote, your love too free. But they are not!
And without them, we are of all people most miserable.
Now heal our confused minds with your word,
heal our divided wills with your law,
heal our troubled consciences with your love,
heal our anxious hearts with your presence,
all for the sake of your Son,
who loved us and gave himself for us. 

Amen.

SONG—

Be Magnified” by Lynn DeShazo

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Luke 5:23

When Jesus sees our faith in repenting of our sins and turning to him, he declares to us:

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

SONG – 

He Will Hold Me Fast” by Ada Ruth 

PRAYER Be Seated

SCRIPTURE READING – Exodus 14 Please stand for the reading. End with “This is the word of the Lord.” 

SERMON – 

SONG –

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin, John Newton, and Louie Giglio

LORD’S TABLE – 

SONG— 

 “Sing to the King” by Billy Foote

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE—“Washed by the Water” by NeedToBreathe

PRELUDE – “Good and Gracious King” by City Alight

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Psalm 47:6-8

Sing praises to God, sing praises!

Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

For God is the King of all the earth;

sing praises with a psalm!

God reigns over the nations;

God sits on his holy throne.

Song –

Behold, Our God” by Jonathan, Meghan, and Ryan Baird and Mark Altrogge

CONFESSION OF SIN – Isaiah 6:5

Woe is me!

For I am lost;

for I am a man of unclean lips;

for my eyes have seen the King,

the LORD of hosts!

Song –

Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy” by Fernando Ortega, John Andrew Schreiner, and Joseph Hart

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Isaiah 6:7

Your guilt is taken away

and your sin atoned for.

Song –

Now Why This Fear?” by Augustus Toplady and Doug Plank

PRAYER

SCRIPTURE READING – Zechariah 6:9-15

9 And the word of the Lord came to me: 10 “Take from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon, and go the same day to the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah. 11 Take from them silver and gold, and make a crown, and set it on the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12 And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. 13 It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’ 14 And the crown shall be in the temple of the Lord as a reminder to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah.

15 “And those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.”

SERMON – “The Priest Who Became King”

Song –

All Praise to Him” by Bob Kauflin and Matt Merker

THE LORD’S TABLE

Song –

O Church Arise” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “Ghost of a King” by The Gray Havens

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14

By Pastoral Apprentice Yong Zhou

During this Holy Week, we have been talking about ‘putting away’. ‘Putting away’ is about what not to do. Today we are learning what it means to ‘put on’, which is about what to do. In real life, it’s important for us to learn both the negative (‘put away’) and the positive (‘put on’).

When we think of what ‘put on’ means, we usually think of putting on clothing. But in today’s passage – Colossians 3:12-14 – we are going to talk about putting on certain character qualities.

But first it’s important that we do this as God’s chosen ones. As Christians, we often try to put on the imperatives without the indicatives. ‘Indicative’ refers to who we are already in Christ. I know it is a difficult concept for us to remember the indicative because we are by nature Pharisees. We want to prove to God and others that we are competent and great at something, therefore we put on the imperatives without the indicatives. This happens very often to Christians. Colossians 3:12-14 gives us imperatives, but only after reminding us of the indicatives. The order matters.

Christians are called to put on as God’s chosen ones. God’s chosen ones, not just chosen ones. When we think of chosen ones, we usually think of LeBron James, the CHOSEN ONE. Or ‘chosen one’ means status and power. However, God’s chosen ones means that God has chosen us to be with him. It’s not a matter of our own work, but the completely free will of God. No one chooses to be a Christian until God has first chosen him or her. It’s 100% free grace. This is such a humbling truth because we can never boast to God of how great we are and how much we have earned his favor.

Because we have been chosen, we have also been made holy and are beloved by God. Once we have truly understood these indicatives, then we are finally able to live the imperatives. Because God has chosen us and made us his holy and beloved children, now we can practice compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

All of us struggle to live a compassionate life, a life of kindness, a humble life, a meek life, and a patient life. Some of us may struggle more with one or the other. Just pick one or a few that you are struggling with and ask yourself why you are not living this way. Why are you not living a loving life? Why are you not living a humble life? Why are you always so impatient?

The heart issue in your struggle is a matter of the indicative and not the imperative. You must re-orient your heart to what it means to be and live as God’s chosen, holy, and beloved one. Once your heart re-orients back to these indicatives, then finally are you able to practice compassion, humility, meekness, and patience. For example, the real solution to impatience with your spouse, kids, and annoying people is not being more patience towards them but to re-orient your heart back to being God’s chosen, holy, and beloved one. Therefore, when your heart is re-oriented back to these truths, then you are more willing to be patient toward your spouse, kids, and annoying people. You can apply this to compassion, kindness, humility, and meekness.

Similarly, because we are God’s chosen ones, then we can bear with one another. It is extremely difficult to bear with one another because we are so different in socio-economic status, life stage, education, personality, hobbies, and other preferences. We rub one another the wrong way at times. It is tough to bear with one another. We are all sinners. However, as a church, we are called to bear with one another. What are some ways you have struggled to bear with someone else in the body? What are some ways that you have succeeded in bearing with one another?

It’s not enough for us to just bear with one another, but we also have to forgive each other. In order for us to forgive one another, we have to remember God’s forgiveness of us. What are some ways that you have failed to forgive your brothers/sisters in Christ or other people? Why is it difficult to forgive others? The main reason why we don’t forgive others is because they have sinned against us. And you want retribution on that person. However, that’s not true forgiveness. True forgiveness of someone is really understanding the ultimate forgiveness that we have in God. Forgiven people forgive.

Finally, as God’s chosen, holy, and beloved ones, we are called to put on love. What a glorious word – ‘love’! This love is supernatural, not natural. As God’s beloved ones we are called to live out the love of God to others. Is the love of God the ultimate source of your life? Is your life dominated by the love God? Oh may the love of God dominate your whole life. Beloved saints of IBC, I pray for you and plead with you today to live as God’s chosen ones.

“So put away… slander…”

1 Peter 2:1e

By Pastoral Apprentice Michael Wang

The 2020 California Wildfires were the deadliest the state has ever seen. Over the course of 7 months, over 9,000 fires set ablaze 4.5 million acres of land. In a forest, the air can reach temperatures up to 1,470 °F and can spread as fast as you can run. If you’ve seen any of the videos it’s truly terrifying. A giant fireball in the distance, shining brightly, consuming everything in its path. There are tragic videos of people driving through a burning street, trying their best to drive out of harm’s way, packing their cars to the brim because they won’t have a house tomorrow. Fire fighters have bravely fought against these dangerous forces of nature, and some have even lost their lives. All that’s needed to start one of these fires is a small spark.

Even if you’re not an arsonist, you may be starting fires that you are not aware of. The Bible describes a deadly fire started not by matches, but by the words that come out of our mouths. James 3:5b-6 says: “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” As terrifying as a forest fire is, it is nothing compared to the fire from hell that you can unleash on your brothers and sisters with your tongue.

One of the many ways we hurt one another is through slander. Slander is any act of speaking negatively against someone else without the intention of loving them. You might be wondering, “What’s the big deal? Everyone has a person in their lives that they can’t stand. You have no idea what he/she is like! What’s wrong with venting about him/her to your friends? What I’m saying is all true!”

More often than not, however, the motive we have is not to love this person, but to speak out of our impatience and a desire for others to validate our feelings toward the people we slander. Even if we don’t intend to, the person hearing the slander will inevitably be influenced by what you say to view the person being slandered in a negative light. Even if what we’re saying is true, if the purpose is not to build up and give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29), it is sin.

This is a serious sin that breaks up the body of Christ. I know a church that had two members who experienced a bad break up. The ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend spread gossip about one another and quickly formed factions within the church who wouldn’t sit next to one another. The elders got involved and told them: “You are destroying the church!”

Perhaps the one we sin against the most is not one another, but against God, who sent his Son and paid the infinite debt of sin that we owed. How strange is it for us, who have been forgiven much, to yet withhold a small forgiveness from others and instead choose to slander them?! We scorn him, who redeemed us for good works, when we choose to hold a grudge against others, and seek to destroy them with our words.

But praise be to God in that even though we have slandered others, he still holds his hands out ready to forgive us! There is no sin too great that he cannot forgive, and he paid for all our sins past, present, and future with his death on the Cross. And he lives again and gives us new life and even makes us co-heirs to the kingdom of God!

So we are no longer slaves to slander, but slaves to Jesus. We can obey God with our tongues – no matter how hard it seems, no matter how impossible it feels – because his Spirit is working in us! Ephesians 4:32 says: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Only when we are shaken by God’s radical forgiveness for us can we begin to follow Christ by forgiving others and putting off slander.

So next time you feel the temptation to say nasty things about someone behind her back, remember your sin before God and how he freely forgave you and does not slander you, but presents you before God holy and blameless (Col. 1:22). May you do the same to one another.

“So put away… envy…”

1 Peter 2:1d

By Pastoral Apprentice Di

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that babies don’t need to be taught to grab others’ toys. I can remember how envious I was as a child when I saw my classmate showing off his new pencil case. This kind of envy does not decrease as I get older, but grows more and more. I envy others who have good jobs, good cars, and so on. Envy is one of the weaknesses of human nature.

When someone else has something I don’t have or if others also have what I have, discontent and greed arise in my heart. This is a manifestation of envy. In reality, envy is easily underestimated as a harmless personal emotion, but it is accompanied by other negative emotions such as resentment, hurt, and anger. If you let this emotion go, it can have serious consequences. Not only will you hurt yourself, but also others. We can even see many cases of murder in this world because of envy.

The Bible says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Prov. 14:30). It tells us that envy is a serious sin. “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). We can find many examples of envy in the Bible, such as when the Philistines envied Isaac (Gen. 26:12-14), Leah and Rachel envied each other (Gen. 29:30 – 30:1), and Joseph was envied by his brothers (Gen. 37:6-11, Acts 7:9). The chief priests handed Jesus over to the Roman governor because of envy (Mt. 27:18, Mk. 15:10). Envy rises up from deep within the sinful human heart (cf. Mk. 7:22). All of these verses remind us not to tolerate envy, but to resist it.

“We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Tit. 3:3). Perhaps as Christians we think we will not commit the same sins as non-Christians. But because of the old self, we are still tempted to envy. Yes, maybe we won’t envy others who have nice cars and houses. But could we be equally envious in the church of those who are more gifted than ourselves? Why does s/he get more recognition for leading worship, while I feel I am doing better than s/he? Why does s/he get more praise than I do for doing the same ministry? Don’t forget that Satan will not miss an opportunity to tempt us to sin in any way he can.

An envious person does not know how to be thankful because s/he thinks s/he deserves more. An envious person does not truly know how to love another because envy breeds hate. To put away envy, Paul tells us what we should do. First, ask for humility. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Ph. 2:3). Second, ask for love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” (1Cor. 13:4). Paul reminds us that we are members of one another in Christ, and that each member has a unique function that is irreplaceable (1Cor. 12:27-30). If we have a humble attitude and compensate for each other’s shortcomings with love, envy will dissipate.

In these two respects, Jesus Christ is the best example for us. And the humility and love of Jesus Christ reached its highest peak on the Cross. “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Ph. 2:8) and “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

We cannot put away envy by our own willpower, but only by letting the humility and love of Jesus Christ fill us so that there is no place for envy in our hearts. Let us meditate during this week on the fact that Jesus Christ paid for our sins with his life and rose again three days later. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

PRELUDE – “Preis und Dank” by J.S. Bach, Easter Oratorio

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Matthew 28:1-9

Leader:

Christ is Risen!

Everyone:

He is Risen Indeed!

 

Toward the dawn of the first day of the week,

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

And behold, there was a great earthquake,

for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven

and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.

And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid,

for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.

Come, see the place where he lay.

Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead,

and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.

See, I have told you.”

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy,

and ran to tell his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!”

And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

Song –

Christ the Lord is Risen Today” by Charles Wesley

CONFESSION OF SIN – 1 Peter 2:1

Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – 1 Corinthians 15:17, 20a

If Christ has not been raised,

your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead!

Songs –

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery” by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, and Michael Bleecker

In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – The Apostles’ Creed

EVERYONE:

We believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ

his only Son our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, dead, and buried,

he descended to hell

and on the third day he rose again from the dead,

he ascended into heaven,

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,

from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of the saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Amen.

PRAYER

SCRIPTURE READING – Galatians 3:26-28

SERMON – “Putting on Christ”

Song –

And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley

LORD’S TABLE

Song –

Low in the Grave He Lay (Christ Arose)” by Robert Lowry

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “Jesus Is Alive (House of Tea Remix)” by Shai Linne

“So put away… hypocrisy…”

1 Peter 2:1c

By Pastoral Apprentice Tim Easterday

If you’ve ever seen a play or a drama, you can appreciate the ability of the actors to walk, talk, and even think like the character they’re seeking to portray. It’s really pretty impressive how certain actors can play a part so well that an audience can forget who the actor actually is.

This was made clear to me in high school when our drama club performed Shrek: The Musical. The student who got the lead role as the foul-speaking and resentful ogre, Shrek, turned out to be my friend, Henry – one of the nicest and most caring guys I know. As I watched the performance, Henry embodied his character with such resolve and enthusiasm (and a heavy Scottish accent) that I forgot the real identity of my friend. All that I perceived was an angry, territorial, green beast. You see: his public impression was completely at odds with his real identity and demeanor. And for an actor, that’s a good thing.

While the ability to pretend is a positive attribute on a stage, Scripture always discusses this idea negatively. The word “hypocrisy” that we find in 1 Peter 2:1 was used in the first century to indicate the vocation of “play-acting” or putting on an outward show. Hypocrisy (“role-playing”) is universally described in Scripture as uncharacteristic of God’s people and inconsistent with the character of Christ.

You may recall one of Jesus’ most scathing and frequent rebukes to the Pharisees in the Gospels: “You hypocrites!” Hypocrisy was said to be the “yeast of the Pharisees” (Lk. 12:1). And when Jesus gives a warning in Matthew 23 about the scribes and Pharisees, he calls them hypocrites seven times, spelling out the real issue: “On the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (v. 28). This is the crux of hypocrisy: an outward-focused way of living that is preoccupied with pleasing people and marked by a heart issue. Jesus saw right through the ‘show’ and exposed the inward problem.

It’s really easy to ‘fake it’ or ‘go through the motions’. I can catch myself praying a prayer that’s meant to be directed toward God, but in reality my heart is more concerned about what others hear than the God who hears. There are often days when I’m frustrated, confused, or simply annoyed. On those days when someone asks, “How are you?” I can forego an honest answer and instead respond with, “I’m good. We’re good. It’s all good.” Even activities like gathering on Sundays with the church, singing praise songs, and partaking of the Lord’s Table can be done from a place of drudgery and mere obligation in my hardened heart.

The expectations of pleasing other people as well as the inward disconnect between heart and action always results in vain worship. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mk. 7:6). Yet whatever our reason for play-acting, God has made provision for our misplaced motivations.

When we look at God’s Word, we see a clear priority for the inward heart. In the Old Testament, God’s people were called not merely to a life of law-keeping, but to a life of love for God and others (e.g. Lev. 19:18; Dt. 6:5-6). In their rebellion, God made a promise to his people, saying, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). And ultimately, God pours out his love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ who indwells us and makes us God’s children (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 4:6). This work is accomplished definitively in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in whose death and resurrection we participate.

So on days when you’re more bothered by the sin of others than by your own sin – quick to accuse and slow to repent – Christ calls you to come to him for the log to be removed and genuine love to be produced (Mt. 7:4-5). When you feel the weight of trying to be perfect and pretend, Christ is the Light in the darkness who invites you to walk with him and confess your need (1Jn. 1:7-9). And when you’re ready to give up on reading God’s Word or quit the media fast because it seems pointless, the love of God and the endurance of Christ are where the Lord “directs your heart” (1Thess. 3:5).

This heart transformation is the foundation from which we live our lives. After all, the Spirit of God who lives in us is the One who produces fruit (Gal. 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit isn’t manufactured or fabricated (imagine someone trying to glue an apple to an apple tree, or staple a grape to a vine…), and therefore the Spirit-led and heart-softened lifestyle is not a role to play. At the end of the day, we can put away hypocrisy as we live fully into our identity in Christ – not as an actor, but as a child of God.

Search me, God, and know my heart;

Test me and know my concerns.

See if there is any offensive way in me;

Lead me in the everlasting way.

Ps. 139:23-24

Lord, as I do this task [working, changing a diaper, praying, etc…], reveal why I am doing this. Expose the attitude of my heart. And may everything I do, in word and deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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