MVOPC 27 July 2014
Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3
Opening Hymn: 53 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty”
Confession of Sin
O You whose chosen dwelling is the heart that longs for Your presence and humbly seeks Your love: We come to You to acknowledge and confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed; We have not loved You with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength; We have not even loved our neighbor as ourselves. Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, or for the good we have left undone. But You, O Lord, are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy; there is forgiveness with You. Restore to us the joy of Your salvation; Bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills and rest to our souls. Speak to each of us the word that we need, and let Your Word abide with us until it has wrought in us Your holy will. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Romans 3:21-26
Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 34:1-22
New Covenant Reading: John 8:31-38
Hymn of Preparation:457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Sermon Text: Leviticus 25:1-23
Hymn of Response: 460 “Amazing Grace”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 1
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!
PM Worship:1 Samuel 27:1-28:2 – A Dangerous Ploy
Adult Sunday School: The Incarnation: Larger Catechism 37-40
CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #57
Q. 57. Which is the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Monday (7/21) Read and discuss Leviticus 25:1-23. John Currid writes:
The film Glory describes the history of the 54th Massachusetts infantry, an all-black unit during the American Civil War. In one of the most poignant scenes, the unit is marching through South Carolina, which had been the first state to secede from the union and upheld black slavery. As the black troops are marching through one town, a bunch of black youngsters run up to the troops and cheer. A character played by Morgan Freeman turns to the children and says, ‘Run on home and tell your parents that the jubilee has come!’
The historical incident of the freedom of black slaves in America is not the biblical jubilee. But it should also be noted that even in the Old Testament there is not one historical episode recorded that involves the jubilee – for all we know, it may never have been celebrated in ancient Israel. But that does not mean that some in Israel did not long for it. In fact, the prophet Isaiah predicts that one is coming who will inaugurate the jubilee, and this Suffering Servant says:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives,
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning …
The fulfillment of this prophesy of the coming one is seen in the New Testament with the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In his first public ministry occurring in Nazareth, recorded in Luke 4, Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah 61, and then says, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’
Read or sing Hymn: 53 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty”Prayer: Ask the LORD to help you rejoice in the freedom you have in Him and to liberate you to hold the property He has entrusted you with loosely.
Tuesday (7/22) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 24:10-23. Verse 11 reads: “and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed.” The first word translated “blasphemed” conveys the idea of attacking God’s name and the term translated “cursed” conveys treating God’s name as a light or vaporous thing. While these two ideas go together I want to focus on the second one for a moment. The Hebrew word for “glory” carries the idea of “weightiness.” When we glorify God we treat Him as weighty or of utmost significance. The word translated “cursed” in the ESV means the exact opposite of that. It is to dishonor God by treating Him as “lightweight” or “insignificant.” We need to feel how wrong it is to treat God and His name in this way – and I’m not sure that we get it. Evangelicals clearly grasp how wrong it is to curse God but do we then turn around and treat Him as lightweight – something to joke about or to compare to consumer products? Isn’t it wrong to turn the tag line of Budweiser “This bud’s for you” into “This blood’s for you” or to re-write the Coca-Cola logo with Jesus being the real thing? Beloved – we ought not to trifle with God in this way. The fact that the LORD required the death penalty for those who blaspheme His name should remind us of how serious an offense this is as well as His call on our lives to glorify Him in everything we do and say. Prayer: Ask that the LORD would exalt His name in your home and community and that He would begin with you.
Wednesday (7/23) Read and discuss Jeremiah 34:1-22. The Babylonian captivity is a type of reverse exodus. In the great exodus out of Egypt, the LORD freed His people from bondage so that they could worship Him in freedom in the Promised Land. Part of the way Israel was to ascribe worth to God was through setting free their slaves every seventh year as a way of celebrating how the LORD had set them from slavery in Egypt. The people refused to do this and so the LORD took away their freedom and expelled them from the Promised Land. Terence Fretheim writes:
The reason that the law regarding the release of slaves (see Deut 15:12-18) is used to illustrate the people’s sinfulness may be evident in the explicit reference to the exodus from Egypt and God’s liberation of Israel from its slavery (v. 13). By not attending to this law in particular the people are violating their own history with God. God (“I myself”) had made it possible for Israel to be freed from slavery in Egypt and had made a covenant with them, which entailed a law regarding freedom for their slaves after a six-year period. This law was specifically motivated by the call to “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt” (Deut 15:15). Disobedience of this law on the part of the Israelites demonstrates that the exodus – God’s act of freeing them when they were slaves – no longer motivates their action or shapes their lives.
This linkage to the exodus suggests that disobedience of this law regarding the treatment of slaves is not just one illustration among others that could have been used, as if to say that to break one law is to break them all. This law and Israel’s specific covenantal commitment regarding its enforcement goes to the heart of their identity as the people of God: they were once slaves and God did not renege on a personal commitment to deliver them from slavery. Their violation of this law, together with their fickle commitment to covenants made, also demonstrates the need for a new saving act of God, promised in no little detail in the immediately preceding chapters.
Read or sing Hymn 457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Prayer: Pray for peace in Israel.
Thursday (7/24) Read and discuss John 8:31-38. Commenting on this passage, N.T. Write observes:
So Jesus is offering – we might have thought – what everybody in Israel was longing for! Freedom at last! And at an even deeper level than they had imagined. Surely this will catch people’s attention, especially with those who, as John says, have now come to believe that he really is the Messiah?
Surprisingly, no. They hear straight away that he is offering a freedom which goes far beyond the national hope of freedom from Rome, and they react against the idea. ‘How can you say such a thing? We are Abraham’s children, and we’ve always been free!’
Jesus doesn’t point out, as he might have done, that the foundation of their national life and faith was not just Abraham but the Exodus which had taken place after their national slavery in Egypt. He goes straight to the heart of what he means. There is a worse slavery than that which they had suffered in Egypt, or the semi-slavery they were suffering under the rule of Rome. It is the slavery that grips not only individuals but also groups, nations, and families of nations. It is the slavery we know as ‘sin.’
The trouble with saying that out loud is that many people in the Western world are bored of hearing about sin. They think it just means offences against someone else’s old-fashioned morality, often in matters to do with sex. But that’s far too small-minded a view. Sexual sins matter, of course; they matter very much. They can destroy a person, a marriage, a family, a community. But there is more to sin than sex, and sin as a whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. When people rebel against God in whatever way, …individuals and societies alike become enslaved just as surely as if every single one of them wore chains and was hounded to work every day by a strong man with a whip.
So what is the truth, and how can it set people free, then and now?
Throughout John’s gospel the answer is clear: Jesus himself is the truth. But we mustn’t forget that the Jesus who is described as the truth is the Jesus of the whole story John is telling, and above all the Jesus who dies on the cross as the supreme act of love, the act in which the father’s glory is finally revealed.
Read or Sing Hymn: 460 “Amazing Grace” Read or sing Hymn 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our congregation and whose gifts would be used to build up the local body.
Friday (7/25)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 27:1-28:2. Today’s chapter is not a highlight in David’s illustrious career. Although the LORD had repeated delivered him from Saul, David imagines that he needs to take decisive actions to avoid being killed. So, David takes his family and 600 men and returns to Achish the Philistine king. Robert Chisholm comments:
Convinced that Saul will never really abandon his quest to kill him, David, for the second time in the story, seeks asylum with Achish, the Philistine king of Gath. On the first occasion David was alone, got cold feet, and left in fear. But on this second occasion, he has his own private army with him. He offers his services to Achish as a mercenary and border guard. Achish assigns him to Ziklag, located about twenty-five miles south-southwest of Gath.
On his first visit to Gath, David deceived Achish into thinking he was insane. On this second occasion, David again deceives Achish. After convincing Achish to assign him to a relatively distant outpost, where he can operate free from the king’s scrutiny, David raids the nearby non-Israelite peoples to acquire food and provisions for his men and their families. However, David reports to Achish that he is raiding Judah and its allies (the Kenites), so that the king will think he has transferred his loyalties from his homeland to Achish. To ensure that Achish does not discover what he is really up to, David leaves no survivors among his victims. This account supports the narrator’s defense of David by showing that he does not really become a traitor to Israel. Though he moves to Philistine territory and even claims to kill Judahites and Kenites, he is really killing the enemies of Israel.
Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine that the LORD would protect them and cause them to be a blessing to their neighbors. Ask also that the LORD would establish a just peace in this troubled nation.
Saturday (7/26) Read and discuss Leviticus 25:1-23. Phillip Eveson writes:
Jesus uses the words of Isaiah 61:1-2 to announce the commencement of this new age of Messiah. He came to deal with the deep underlying causes of all the troubles and struggles of society. Jesus did not read the part of the paragraph from Isaiah that spoke of vengeance, for he had come not to judge the world but to save it. The jubilee age that began with Christ’s first coming will find its grand consummation at his second coming with the resurrection of the body and the ‘restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21). Then the Lord’s rule will be seen in all its fullness and glory and the old cures will finally be removed. This hope is not a pipe dream, but is based solidly on what happened to Jesus himself, who died to bear the curse and rose to be the guarantee and living proof of all that the prophets and apostles have promised.
The church of Jesus Christ therefore has something very wonderful and exciting to announce to a sad world enslaved by the dark powers of the Evil One. Individual Christians can also be involved in relieving poverty and exercising their democratic rights in bringing pressure to bear on governments and commercial organizations to show more understanding and to act in a just and honorable way towards peoples and nations in dire distress. They should be in the forefront in their concern for social justice, as they have been, and still are, in bringing relief and showing compassion to those with physical and mental ailments and disabilities. But the Christian’s greatest service to a needy world, and certainly the primary task of the church of Jesus Christ, is to proclaim the good news of a Redeemer who delivers from sin and Satan and who sets us on the road to glorious future beyond this present world order.
Read or Sing Hymn 426 “Til He Come”! Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.