(an image of our Ephesians set design, courtesy of our Tech Director, Wyatt Johnston)
This week our pastor, Joe Hishmeh, continued our discipleship series, "Ephesians - United in Christ." In his message, Joe shared from Ephesians 3:14-21 about submitting our lives to Jesus, and asking for His presence to dwell in us, His love to thrive in us, and His character to fill us. This, Joe said, is the greatest prayer we can pray as believers. When these things are a reality in our lives, the gospel will advance through us to others. You can listen to or watch the entire message and service here.
For our singing this week, we focused on the powerful love of God, which surpasses all we can imagine.
Here's our service plan from this weekend:
"In Tenderness" (G) [W. Spencer Walton, Adoniram J. Gordon, Nate Garvey]
"God Is Able" (B) [Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan]
"One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)" (B) [Brian Johnson, Christa Black, Jeremy Riddle]
"Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)" (G) [Scott Ligertwood, Brooke Ligertwood]
Message - "Ephesians 3:14-21" [Joe Hishmeh]
"Stronger" (B) [Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan]
"In Tenderness" - We taught this song over a few weekends recently, and this was a refresher weekend for the song. It is quickly becoming one of my new favorites, and it is a great fit as we walk through the book of Ephesians. The chorus captures the heart of God in the gospel very succinctly - "O, the love that sought me/ O, the blood that bought me/ O, the grace that brought me to the fold of God/ Grace that brought me to the fold of God!" I simply love declaring this together with the Church!
"God Is Able"- We sang this song coming out of the welcome and greeting time, and it focused us right in on where we were going this morning. We sang this song in particular because part of our passage this week was Ephesians 3:20-21:
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
This is a solid staple in our worship song vocabulary here at Fellowship, and it does a great job of building our confidence in the one who is truly able, our Lord Jesus Christ. He conquered sin and death, and He has redeemed us and given us life. There is no one else who has done what He has done, or who could do what He can do.
"One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)" - This is another fairly new song that we introduced about two months ago. I love the strong declaration that this song makes regarding God's faithful love. Again, this song builds our hope and our confidence in who Christ is and what He has done/will do.
"Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)" - This is a new song that our NextGen director Erik Oldberg and his wife Sarah introduced last weekend. We continued teaching it this weekend, and one of our newer worship team members, Cindy Gular, led us on this song. It is a very strong and beautiful song, but I'm not sure yet of how it serves as a congregational song in which our people can participate besides the chorus.
As an aside, I also wanted to make a note about using this song: we made one change before we introduced it, in that we adjusted one line of the song. In the second verse, the original recording by Hillsong has the line, "Salvation through repentance." This elevates a result of saving faith to a causal position with regards to our salvation. We are "saved by grace through faith," according to Ephesians 2:8-9. Repentance and baptism, which are connected with salvation by Peter in the book of Acts (Acts 2:38), are demonstrations of our faith, but faith comes first. We believe and therefore we are saved. Repentance and baptism are not salvific, meaning they do not cause salvation or result in our redemption. When we truly believe in Christ, we will do those things that are fitting of a saving relationship with Christ, but salvation does not come through those things. They are not the means of salvation--faith is. While most people would not notice or make a big deal about the word "through" in this line, I think it is a huge deal, because it communicates that salvation is somehow in our hands, which is not the case. Salvation is a gift, and nothing we can do can earn it. We simply place our trust in Him as our divine substitute at the cross, recognizing our own sinfulness and desperate need for rescuing. Because of this, we changed the line to say, "Salvation to repentance," trying to clarify that we repent because we have saving faith. The bottom line is this: as leaders, we are responsible for what we teach our people (and yes, we ARE teaching our people through the songs that we sing together). I want us to be as clear as possible with the message of the gospel. It has been entrusted to us as His Church and we must be crystal clear with it, because the world around us is doing everything possible to muddy up the truth about salvation.
"Stronger" - We sang this song for our response and communion song. We quietly sang the first part of the song (everything prior to the bridge) while the elements were being passed out, and then we sang the bridge and repeated the chorus after we took the elements. I was reminded how much I love this song when we attended the Hillsong Live concert in Kansas City a few weeks ago. It is a solid song about the gospel and what Jesus has done for us, and therefore it was a great fit for the message this weekend and for our time of communion.
This weekend was a good weekend of worship overall. Our team did a great job, and played and sang well together. I felt like the change to colder weather slowed our people down a little bit, but we celebrated the gospel and Jesus was lifted up as a result. I am so thankful for our church, and pray that the Lord continues to point us to His gospel and the salvation that is found in Him alone.
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were!
What were your thoughts or experiences on your worship experience from this weekend?
p.s. don't forget to check out The Worship Community!