MVOPC 28 December 2014 – Rev. Stephen Michaud preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 26 “Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the LORD”
Confession of Sin
Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good; And all our shortcomings and offenses. You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts; In forgetting Your love. But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You. Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son. And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 10:16-18
Hymn of Preparation: 194 “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
New Covenant Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
Sermon: Receive Our Immanuel
Hymn of Response: 225 “Once in Royal David’s City”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 217 “All My Heart This Night Rejoices”
Sermon Text: Micah 5
Adult Sunday School: No Sunday School Today
Shorter Catechism Q/A #79.
Q. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.
Monday (12/22) Read and discuss Matthew 1:18-25. Let’s focus on verse 19:
And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
We get that breaking off the betrothal rather than celebrating marriage with a woman who apparently cheated on him was a just act by a just man – but how is this connected with Joseph resolving to divorce her quietly to avoid putting Mary to shame? It turns out that Joseph was not merely a religious man he was a godly man. Micah 6:8 makes clear what being a man of God truly demands. Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Do you want to know what that looks like? Look closely at Joseph. In the midst of all his pain and confusion, Joseph did justice, he loved mercy, and he walked humbly with his God. It would not be easy. Nearly everyone in his town would think that Joseph had been guilty of fornication. But Joseph chose to suffer the abuse of his fellow men in order to seek the praise of God. Do you want to be that sort of man of God? We will not get there simply be affirming that mercy is good while professing true things about God. Instead, by God’s grace, we will need to LOVE mercy and we will need to WALK humbly with our God. The gift of that first Christmas gives us every reason to do so. Read or sing Hymn 26 “Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the LORD” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would cause you to respond to His love by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with Him.
Tuesday (12/23) Read and discuss Luke 1:26-38. This story is about Jesus. The Bible does give us a great deal of information about many people, but they are in the biblical narrative primary to help us see: (1) Who God is; and (2) How we should respond to and live in light of who God is. Today’s passage is no different. The Lutheran scholar Arthur Just, Jr. points out that “the brevity of the sketch of Mary as a person is arresting; the only significant piece of information is her status as a ‘virgin,’ which is referred to twice in 1:27. The weight of the text falls not on Mary herself, but upon her miraculous conception.” Just goes on to show that he literary structure of this passage forms a chiasm with the virgin conception at the center framed by the designations of the Messiah whom she would conceive:
A1. Mary is going to conceive.
B1. Designations of the Messiah
The child will be great
Son of the Most High
King over the house of Jacob forever
C. The virgin will conceive.
Mary’s question: “How will this be, since
I do not know a man?”
Gabriel’s answer: “The Holy Spirit will come
upon you, and the power of the Most
High will overshadow you.”
B2. Designations of the Messiah
The child to be born will be holy.
He will be called the Son of God
A2. Elizabeth has conceived in her old age.
As this structure makes clear, even in the section on the virgin birth, the emphasis is on the involvement of the Holy Spirit in conceiving the Messiah and not upon Mary herself. Matthew is keeping Christ where He belongs – at the center. Prayer: Pray for the Roman Catholic Church that they would become centered on Jesus Christ and that they would come to embrace the Gospel in its purity and power.
Wednesday (12/24) Read and discuss Isaiah 7:10-14. Alec Motyer writes:
“Promises, promises!!” we say, mockingly, when we know or suspect that promise is not going to be kept! But when the LORD makes promises he means them, he means to keep them, and he means his people to trust them as they plan the future. He looks to us to obey his commands; he looks to us to trust his promises. Indeed it is as we trust his promises that we find ourselves able to obey his commands: it’s called ‘the obedience of faith’. Abraham is the father of those who believe (rom. 4:11). Genesis 15:3-6 tells how he ‘simply’ believed what God had promised: Romans 4:18-22 reveals how totally his faith rested on the word of promise, taking account of everything that stood against it; Hebrews 11:17-19 describes how he held to the promise even when it was challenged by death itself. And he was proved right. … Is that not the way to tackle every problem – to look up to our almighty, ever-loving God and say ‘I trust you’? [Ahaz fell down at] this very point. It was natural to fear the stronger northern powers; it was logical to want to do something about Jerusalem’s water supply. But it was not the reaction of a believer to whom the LORD had said ‘it won’t happen’. Faith, indeed, would teach a different logic: your enemy sounds impressive (Aram … Damascus) but what does it amount to? Only Rezin and Remaliah’s boy! Apply the same reasoning to Jerusalem and we arrive at the ‘House of David’, the repository of God’s promises, and behind that the King of all kings who has promised his city security! Faith is not a ‘leap in the dark’; it is a leap into the light, decision on the basis of evidence.
Read or sing Hymn 194 “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” Prayer: Ask that some of your unbelieving family, friends, and neighbors would understand the gospel for the first time and embrace Christ this Christmas season.
Thursday (12/25) Read and discuss Psalm 32:1-11. A story has often been told, I don’t know if it is true, of the terrible scare that a woman received one day coming home from a supermarket. It was just another day of picking up some groceries. She put them in her trunk, jumped into the front seat, and started to head home. Then she noticed a pick-up truck race out of the parking lot behind her. At first she was startled but then she became worried. It seemed like the man driving the truck was following her. As she came up to a yellow light she decided to gun the engine and race through – but the man in the pick-up ran the red light, nearly causing an accident, in order to stay behind her. With her heart pounding she raced into her driveway at home only to have the pick-up fly up behind her. As she leaped from her car the large man driving the pick-up was almost on top of her … when he threw open the car’s back door and pulled a man out of the back-seat who had been stalking this woman. All along, the man that appeared to be the threat was actually the one that was rushing to save her! Today’s psalm reminds us that we sometimes view God like the man in the pick-up truck. We are afraid to go to Him with our struggles and sins and so our “bones waste away” and our strength is “dried up”. Yet, when through His grace we finally turn to Him, the LORD washes away our guilt, shelters us from the storm, and makes our hearts glad. Read or sing Hymn 225 “Once in Royal David’s City” Prayer: Give thanks for the gift of God in a manger.
Friday (12/26) Read and discuss Micah 5:1-15. Commenting on verses 10-15, Gary Smith writes:
This passage addresses three modern cultural trends that people in the church need to take a stand on: the tendency of nations and individuals to anchor their hopes for the future on the military strength of a nation; the belief that any religious expression will be honored by God and provide a legitimate hope for the future; and the contention that a loving God would not establish his rule by punishing people who look at things a little differently from the biblical way.
Although there is nothing wrong with having an army, religious beliefs, or a positive view of God’s character, every conceptualization of reality (especially spiritual reality) is in danger of being incomplete, unbalanced, culturally biased, or half-true. Such ideas may have the form, vocabulary, or flavor of true faith in God but in actuality be deceptive and misleading. Of course, some tolerance of religious diversity is necessary for people from different backgrounds and belief systems to live together in peace, but toleration should not be seen as approval of behavior and beliefs that are inconsistent with what God has said. Micah is clear: Either you listen to what God has said and follow it, or you will have to answer to God Himself (5:15).
Prayer: Lift up those who are struggling with emotional pain because of ruptured relationships.
Saturday (12/27) Read and discuss Matthew 1:18-25. For some reason, when Christians think about the Exodus we tend to focus on the deliverance out of the bondage of Egypt – what Israel was rescued from – rather what Israel was being rescued for. Perhaps it is the dramatic nature of the plagues and crossing the Red Sea that has etched this part of the story so clearly in our minds. But the LORD wasn’t simply delivering Israel out of the House of Bondage so they could go their own way. The LORD delivered Israel so that they, out of the all the nations of the earth, would be His own treasured possession. The LORD would pitch His tent and dwell in the midst of Israel. He would be their God and they would be His people.
Christians frequently have the same lapse in our thinking when it comes to the work of Christ. We frequently talk as though the primary point of Christ dying for our sins is that we would not go to hell. Let me be clear, not suffering eternally suffering the punishment our sins deserve is a really good thing. But if we were to stop thee we would miss the main point. Jesus didn’t merely save us from something – He saved us to something. He redeemed us so that we would be His own treasured possession; so that we would become part of His family. Christ redeemed us so that we would live with Him forever.
All of this is shown in the two names the Angel of the LORD announces for Mary’s child: Jesus and Emmanuel. This Christmas, surely you will remember the first command: “You shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Let’s remember the second name as well: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Indeed, Matthew begins with the promise that Jesus would be Immanuel – God with us. It ends with Jesus promising us this: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Read or sing Hymn: 217 “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.