July 25, 2011

The Months Ahead

Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. Eph. 6.19

So requested the apostle Paul of his brothers and sisters in Ephesus. And so I request of you as life settles down, fall draws nearer, and a few new series of sermon lie before us. I’m hoping to accomplish three main things (and various and sundry others) in the pulpit over the next four months or so. Would you pray that, in each one, God would bless “the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel”?

Romans 12 is one of the great ‘how-to’ chapters in all the Bible, beginning with that great and lofty calling that we present our bodies as living sacrifices. Starting this week, I hope to spend a couple of months’ worth of these summer Sundays perusing it, and bringing out it’s treasures for you to enjoy. So ask the Lord to help me immensely in “the opening of my mouth”, that I will faithfully make known “the mystery of the gospel” in its wonderful, practical applications.

Psalms 61-70 are next in our multi-year (perhaps multi-decade!) trek through the Psalms. Taking ten or fifteen of these Bible hymns at a time, every year or two, maybe someday we’ll make it all the way to the end! This year’s ten or fifteen, on Wednesday nights this late summer and fall, will cover the 60’s, up to Psalm 70. There are a good number similarities in many of these Psalms. So pray that God will help me trace the common themes all the way through, but also bring out that which is fresh and unique in each poem … to the invigorating of our souls.

Ephesians is perhaps (with the exception of Romans) Paul’s most influential letter. It’s from Ephesians that we quote “by grace you are saved … not as a result of works.” It’s in Ephesians that we read of “the full armor of God”. It’s Ephesians that teaches us, in most detail, about Christian family life. And the list could go on. Indeed, a study of Ephesians could go on and on, too … for years! Just check our Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermons on it! But we’re going to attempt the difficult (but doable!) task of studying it in eight weeks on Sundays this fall. Since brevity is not my forte, you might pray for me in that regard! And since this is such a rich, helpful book, you might pray that the Spirit breathes life into our studies, making known to us the richness and “mystery of the gospel” in Ephesians!

As an addendum, I have a potential opportunity to take the material I gather on Ephesians and gather it together in book form. Prayers for God’s direction and blessing on that front are appreciated, too!

Finally, next to all these plans, I should post a reminder of James 4.15: “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (emphasis mine). I am very well aware that the plans of a man are not always the same as the plans of the Lord! So pray that, as I move through the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be open to the possibility that God may want me to go in different directions, to study different books and passages, and to tweak (or even scrap) the plans I have made. Pray that I’ll keep my plans, as it were, written in pencil … and always be open to the Spirit’s direction.

Grateful for your prayers … and looking forward to the months ahead!

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