Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 27 July 2014 Sunday, Jul 20 2014 

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

Sermon: Jubilee!

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

Suggested Preparations

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.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 20 July 2014 Sunday, Jul 13 2014 

MVOPC 20 July 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 44 “How Great Thou Art”

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: Exodus 34:5-7

Old Covenant Reading: 1 Chronicles 17:16-27

New Covenant Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

Hymn of Preparation: 100 “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 24:10-23

Sermon: Safeguarding God’s Name

Hymn of Response:  101 “Come, Thou Almighty King”

Confession of Faith:  Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 585 “Take My Life and Let It Be”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 26:1-25 – The Righteous Future King

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #56

Q. 56. What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the third commandment is that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.

Monday (7/14) Read and discuss Leviticus 24:10-23.  Derek Tidball writes:

The incident reported here is one of only two narrative interludes in the book of Leviticus. It occurred when a half-Israelite, whose father was Egyptian but whose mother was an Israelite, blasphemed the Name with a curse. The details of the curse are not repeated for us, but it was obviously considered a serious infringement of the third commandment by those who heard it. George Knight suggests that the offender must have been more than merely using God’s name as a swear-word, and ‘was actually trying to destroy the faith of the people of Israel by saying that Yahweh, the Lord, was not like his name. He would therefore be insinuating that the ideal of the covenant was a lot of nonsense. Blasphemy was high treason against God.

The man was held in temporary custody (a rare reference in the Old Testament to incarceration) until the will of the LORD should be made clear to them. Again, the details are missing. How were they to determine the will of the LORD? It reads as if the will of the LORD came directly to Moses rather than by Aaron’s using the Urim and Thummim. Whatever the means of communication, the verdict was that the man should be subjected to the death penalty. The offence was a capital crime, since it dishonored God and undermined the whole basis of Israel’s identity and calling. An offence of this nature, though primarily an offence against God, was also ‘an offence against the state that depended on him.’ So he was taken out and stoned to death by the entire assembly of Israel, probably acting through the tribal leaders and representatives. It made no difference that the man was not a pure Israelite. Full Israelite, half Israelite, or alien, the brazen insolence shown to the sacred name of God and all that it stood for could in no way be tolerated. The sacred name must be safeguarded.

Read or sing Hymn: 44 “How Great Thou Art”Prayer: Please lift up the troubled nation of Syria in prayer asking that the LORD would establish a just peace and that His people would be able to freely worship Him.

Tuesday (7/15) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 24:1-9. In Genesis 12 we read that the LORD called Abraham. We will only understand this call if we set it against the backdrop of Adam’s rebellion against God and the LORD’s commitment to reversing the curse. The LORD promises Abraham: : “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So, we shouldn’t be surprised to find the LORD promising to bring Abraham’s descendents into a Land Flowing with Milk and Honey. Beyond that, the LORD makes astonishing promises to Israel. Consider these words from Deuteronomy 28 right before they were to enter the Promised Land:

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.  2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.  3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.  4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.  5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. … 8 The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.  9 The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. …  And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.  12 The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.

That is what today’s passage is all about. The bread symbolized God’s provision for Israel and NOT Israel’s provision for God. This is one of the fundamental differences between Biblical religion and nearly all pagan religions. In paganism, the people provide for the gods while in Biblical religion the true and Living God provides for His people. As Isaiah put it in Isaiah 64:4 “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Prayer: Please pray for Session of our church as it meets this evening.

Wednesday (7/16) Read and discuss 1 Chronicles 17:16-27. The establishment of the Davidic Covenant is one of the great turning points in redemptive history. As today’s passage clearly reveals – David is overwhelmed at the LORD’s grace toward him. Andrew Bowling writes:

David, as we should do, approaches God in prayer, in awe of what God has done for him. He fosters no pride in his own accomplishments or greatness; his boasting is in God. David then repeats two of the great themes of Old Testament theology: (1) God’s unique work in choosing a nation for his special possession; and (2) God’s great signs and wonders. David accepts the covenant and desires its permanence.

When we rightly apprehend what the LORD has done for us in Christ we are also overwhelmed by what He has done for us. Then, no matter how the LORD might use us to further His Kingdom, we realize that it is entirely of His grace which leaves no room for human boasting. Read or sing Hymn 100 “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to overwhelm you with a sense of the grace that is yours in Jesus Christ.

Thursday (7/17) Read and discuss 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12. Sometimes we struggle with seeing the relatively just suffering terribly while those who appear to be more wicked seem to be living the highlife – even while they are persecuting God’s people. This struggle can be found in the Psalms and in every age of the Church. In today’s passage the Apostle Paul addresses this reality. John Stott writes:

On the one hand, Jesus had taught that suffering was the unavoidable path to glory, both for himself and for his followers. Similarly, Paul had insisted that it is only through many tribulations that we can enter God’s kingdom, and that only if we share in Christ’s sufferings will we ever share in his glory. So suffering and glory, tribulation and the kingdom, belong inseparably to one another. Therefore, since God was allowing the Thessalonians to suffer, they could know that he was preparing them for glory. Their suffering was itself evidence of the justice of God, because it was the first part of the equation which guaranteed that the second part (glory) would follow.

On the other hand, although God was allowing the persecutors some rope, it was evidently in the Thessalonians that he was especially at work. He was on their side, sustaining and sanctifying them. He was using their persecutions aas a means through which to develop their faith, love and perseverance, in contrast to the prejudice, anger and bitterness of their persecutors, and so was preparing them for his eternal kingdom. By these qualities they were not ‘made worthy’ (RSV) of the kingdom, in the sense of deserving it, but they were counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which they were suffering. …

Indeed, because God is just, he will vindicate them publically one day. He will reverse the fortunes of both groups, the persecutors wand the persecuted when Christ comes. He will pay back trouble to the trouble-makers and will give relief (from affliction) to those who have been afflicted, including the apostles. … We see the malice, cruelty, power and arrogance of the evil men who persecute. We see also the sufferings of the people of God, who are opposed, ridiculed, boycotted, harassed, imprisoned, tortured and killed. In other words, what we see is injustice – the wicked flourishing and the righteous suffering. It seems completely topsy-turvy. We are tempted to inveigh against God and against the miscarriage of justice. ‘Why doesn’t God do something?’ we complain indignantly. And the answer is that he is doing something and will go on doing it. He is allowing his people to suffer, in order to qualify them for his heavenly kingdom. He is allowing the wicked to triumph temporarily, but his just judgment will fall upon them in the end. Thus Paul sees evidence that God’s judgment is right in the very situation which we might see nothing but injustice.

Read or Sing 101 “Come, Thou Almighty King” Prayer: Please pray our mission work among the Karamojan people.

Friday (7/18)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 26:1-25. This passage repeats an important theme we saw earlier in chapter 24 when David cut off the corner of Saul’s garment but refused to kill the king: David would not stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed to gain the throne through unjust means. Today’s passage, however, also shows David’s remarkable daring in going into Saul’s camp. We are also told that the LORD made it possible for David and Abishai to move freely through Saul’s camp by sending a deep sleep upon Saul’s army. Tony Cartledge elaborates:

David dared to cut a corner from Saul’s robe in the cave above En-gedi, but here he chooses to take Saul’s personal spear and water jar, both of which stood at Saul’s head. Earlier narratives often showed Saul with his spear in hand as a symbol of his power. More than once, Saul had hurled his spear at David. Undoubtedly, David would have found some special satisfaction in taking from Saul his status symbol. The water jug was a personal item that David also took as an obvious symbol that Saul had been in David’s power. Anyone who could pull the sword out of the ground at Saul’s head also could have plunged it through his neck. Anyone who could have taken Saul’s water jar also could have smashed it over his head. David would later return the spear but not the water jar. Perhaps he kept it as a personal trophy, a reminder of Yahweh’s blessing, and a token of greater victories yet to come.

Prayer: Pray for the youth of our congregation that they would both delight in the Summer and make good use of this time away from school.

Saturday (7/19) Read and discuss Leviticus 24:10-23. On Monday we looked at the particular case of the blasphemer recounted in verses 10-16. Today we will look at how this particular case led to a consideration of the entire law. Derek Tidball writes:

The general principle of law is known as the lex talionis: life for life … fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Justice was to be based on the principle of exact reciprocity. This law fulfilled a number of purposes. It emphasized, as other laws in Leviticus had previously done, the sacredness of life. No-one could take a life without surrendering his own, although due allowance was made for the difference between premeditated murder and manslaughter. … The law was also designed to set a limit on the punishments meted out, to check the unleashing of vengeance and to forestall the igniting of spirals of retaliation. If an eye was lost, no-one had the right to take a life in return, or to blow up and house and render a family homeless. The punishment had to be equal to the crime, not more, not less. The punishment also had to be administered on behalf of the community and the offended parties by the courts and magistrates. This was not a charter for taking the law into one’s hands.

There are two clarifications which are important to take note of: (1) First, the law did not literally mean that eyes were to be put nor that hands were to be cut off. This was a figurative way of saying that the punishment must fit the crime; (2) Second, it is very important to remember that these are principles for the State to use in dealing with crimes and not for individuals to use in dealing with their neighbors. That latter error had crept into Judaism by the time of Christ and Jesus took pains to correct that error in the Sermon on the Mount:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42 ESV)

Regretfully, some Christians have taken Christ’s teaching and reversed the error. While Jesus was teaching that we aren’t to treat our neighbor the way civil governments are supposed to through the courts, some Christians have imagined that we are now to operate our courts on the basis of the personal morality that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. The right way of holding both parts of the teaching of God’s word together is to remember that civil courts are to focus on justice while interpersonal relationships are to focus on mercy and grace. Read or Sing Hymn 585 “Take My Life and Let It Be” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 13 July 2014 Sunday, Jul 6 2014 

MVOPC 13 July 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 57 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul”

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: Ephesians 1:7-10

Old Covenant Reading: 1 Samuel 21:1-6

New Covenant Reading: John 6:22-51

Hymn of Preparation: 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 24:1-9

Sermon: The Bread of Presence

Hymn of Response:  422 “’Twas on That Night When Doomed to Know”

Confession of Faith:  Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship:1 Samuel 25:32-44 – The LORD Will Repay

Adult Sunday School: The Covenant of Grace: Part II

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #55

Q. 55. What is forbidden in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God maketh himself known.

Monday (7/07) Read and discuss Leviticus 24:1-9.  Philip Eveson writes:

Unlike Israel’s neighbors who had bread baked daily to put on tables for their gods to eat, there is no thought here of feeding God. God later says through the Psalmist, ‘If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine, and all its fullness’ (Ps. 50:12). This holy bread was a token offering changed regularly every Sabbath as ‘an everlasting covenant’ (24:8). The same is said of the Sabbath itself (see Exod. 31:16). Both were to act as signs of the Sinai covenant. As the high priest symbolically bore the names of the twelve tribes on his holy garments before the Lord (Exod. 28:12, 21, 29), so the twelve loaves spread ‘before the LORD’ each Sabbath day served as a reminder of God’s covenant with Israel. The loaves came ‘from the children of Israel’ so that this special grain offering served as a weekly renewal of the covenant.

Read or sing Hymn: 57 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul” Prayer: Please lift up the troubled nation of Iraq and pray that the LORD would halt the brutality of ISIS and bring a just peace to this land.

Tuesday (7/08) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 24:1-9. The Golden Lampstand in the Tabernacle was a picture of God’s gracious presence with His people in Ancient Israel; but it also pointed forward to the time when God would Tabernacle among us as Immanuel – God with us – where Jesus would plainly declare: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” How wicked and perverse it is that so many then and now reject him bring just judgment upon themselves: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” Thankfully, that isn’t the end of the story. The Golden Lampstand not only pointed to Christ at His first coming but to our life with Him after His Second coming. In Revelation 21 and 22 we read of the New Jerusalem that awaits all those who trust in Jesus. There the Apostle John tells us:

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,  25 and its gates will never be shut by day- and there will be no night there.  26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.  27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

If we focus on the darkness and all the wickedness we see in this world it could easily leave us to despair. But the Golden Lampstand reminds us that we are not to focus upon the darkness but on the Light of Life. We are to remember that the Sovereign LORD will not allow sin to have the final word. Man’s rebellious NO! to God will ultimately be swallowed up by God’s Yes! and Amen! In Christ Jesus our Lord. So, let us look to Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith – with the confidence that because of His life, death, and resurrection; one day the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the LORD even as the waters cover the sea. And let us remember that “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Prayer: Ask the LORD to lift your eyes off the problems of this world to fix them on your High Priest who is enthroned in heaven as the universe’s King.

Wednesday (7/09) Read and discuss 1 Samuel 21:1-6. Ahimelech, who is apparently a godly and faithful high priest, is confronted with a difficult situation. David has appeared before him in need of sustenance and all that he has on hand is the Bread of the Presence or Showbread which normally only the priests were allowed to eat. What should he do? The high priest rightly gives the bread to David. We know that this was the right choice because Jesus Himself affirms this decision in the New Testament. But how could it be right to give to a non-priest food that was specifically designated by God for the priests to eat? Most commentators suggest a rather straight-forward solution. They suggest that human need trumps ceremonial law. There is something to this, but on closer examination this turns out not to be an entirely satisfactory answer. After all, Ahimelech offers the bread to David and his men on the condition that they are all ceremonially clean. If human need simply trumps the ceremonial law that condition wouldn’t make any sense. If we look closer at the meaning of the showbread we will realize that stood for God’s commitment to provide food for His people. Here was the LORD’s anointed fleeing, hungry, and in need of food. The meaning of the showbread actually demanded that the showbread be given to David provided that he were ceremonially clean. To do anything else would be to embrace the symbolizing of the showbread while denying the very thing that symbolism pointed to. Just as Jesus told the Pharisees: “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath”; we might say, “The Showbread was prepared and displayed for Israel and not Israel for the Showbread.” Read or sing Hymn 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has committed Himself to you.

Thursday (7/10) Read and discuss John 6:22-51. After Jesus does the remarkable sign of feeding thousands of people with just a few loafs of bread the crowd responds in an amazing way: They ask Him to perform a sign. Specifically, they want Jesus to send down manna from heaven like they though Moses had done. Starting in verse 32 Jesus corrects their multiple misunderstandings. F.F. Bruce comments:

Jesus reminds them that it was not Moses, but God, who gave their forefathers the manna in the wilderness. And God, who fed his people with material food in those earlier days – and in fact still did so – was now offering them spiritual food, heavenly manna, life-giving bread. Like the loaves and fishes with which the multitude had recently been fed, the manna which Israel ate in the days of Moses was also material food, ‘bread out of heaven’ though it was. But there is another kind of bread which comes down from heaven – true, real bread sustaining the inmost and most lasting life of men and women – and it is of no perishable or material nature.

The expression ‘the bread of God’ is used occasionally in the OT of the ‘showbread’ the manna is called ‘bread of the mighty’ or ‘bread of the angels’ in Ps. 78.25. But here ‘the bread of God’ is the bread which God supplies: like the manna, it comes down from heaven, but unlike the manna, it gives life – eternal life – to all mankind.

Like the Samaritan woman, who said, ‘Sir, give me this water’ when she heard Jesus speak of the living water which he could give, the congregation responds to his words about the true bread with an eager request that they may receive this bread for evermore. But they still understand his words in a material sense; he therefore uses a new form of words to make his meaning plainer.

Jesus’ hearers had not understood what he meant by the ‘bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ Now he tells them plainly what he means. In the former section of the discourse he had spoken of himself as the giver of this bread: in this section he identifies himself with it. ‘For Jesus is himself the gift of which he is the giver (B. Lindars).’ He has come to give himself that men and women may live by him. To partake of the bread of life they must come to him, they must believe in him. This total self-commitment to Christ, this appropriating him by faith, is the secret of eternal life and perpetual soul-refreshment.

Read or Sing 422 “’Twas on That Night When Doomed to Know” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Pilgrim OPC in Dover, NH.

Friday (7/11)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 25:32-44. The portrait this chapter paints of Abigail is remarkable. Although she must have suffered terribly being married to such churlish man, she demonstrates remarkable strength, wisdom, courage, and humility. As Richard Phillips observes:

In contrast to her husband’s depraved folly, Abigail is an image of feminine virtue. What a calamity it was for such a woman to be married to so worthless a man as Nabal. One suspects that Nabal’s material wealth explains this union, perhaps through an injudicious arrangement on the part of Abigail’s father. … How lamentable it is today when young Christian women give their hearts to ungodly men, simply because of their worldly attractions, facing as a result a lifetime of spiritual disunity and marital strife. Paul speaks on this vital matter with forceful language: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). Still, through faith in the LORD, Abigail’s virtue had not been destroyed even in such a marriage. William Blaikie comments that “luxury had not impaired the energy of her spirit, and wealth had not destroyed the regularity of her habits.”

Abigail’s character also provides something of an ideal for Christian men who seek for a bride. Not only is Abigail cited for beauty, but more importantly she is noted for discretion and wisdom, generosity of spirit, humble servant-hood, and biblical devotion. As Proverbs 31:10 exclaims of such a woman, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” Young women would likewise do well to seek in Abigail a model for their own godly character. For all her outward beauty, it is mainly the beauty of her holiness that shines forth. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,” concludes Proverbs 31, “but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

Prayer: Ask that the LORD would make you into a man or woman of great character.

Saturday (7/12) Read and discuss Leviticus 24:1-9. Mark Rooker writes:

The Israelites were not only to provide oil but also bread for the sanctuary. Twelve loaves, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, were to be baked and set in two rows, six in each row, on the table of showbread that stood before the LORD in the Holy Place. Bread and pure incense were to be supplied each Sabbath. Josephus mentions that the bread was baked the day before the Sabbath and was unleavened. It was to be food for the priests. Later we find that the Kohathites specifically had the responsibility for the loaves of bread. The bread, which was separated from the Holy of Holies only by a curtain, was closely associated with the covenant and was a symbol of fellowship with God. The bread thus symbolized the covenant God had made with Israel (Leviticus 24:8).

The Bible is filled with promises of the LORD caring for His people if we will own turn from our wicked ways and trust them. One of these passages is from the book of Isaiah where the LORD makes clear that He will judge His people for their rebellion yet He also makes clear if they will turn back to Him that He will abundantly bless them. We need to hear these words as well: Isaiah 58:13-14: “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;  14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Read or Sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 6 July 2014 Sunday, Jun 29 2014 

MVOPC 6 July 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 12 “Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim”

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: Titus 3:4-7

Old Covenant Reading: 1 Samuel 21:1-6

New Covenant Reading: John 6:22-51

Hymn of Preparation: 30 “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 24:1-9

Sermon: Pure Oil and Holy Bread

Hymn of Response:  32 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

Confession of Faith:  Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 261 “What Wondrous Love Is This”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 25:1-31 – Be Angry But Do Not Sin

Adult Sunday School: Covenant of Grace

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #54

Q. 54. What is required in the third commandment?
A. The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works.

Monday (6/30) Read and discuss Leviticus 24:1-9.  When we read today’s passage it seems rather mundane. We can easily find ourselves wanting to go back to the exciting events of Leviticus chapter 23 rather than work through the daily work prescribed in the first nine verses of chapter 24. That, in fact, is part of the point. Derek Tidball explains:

The brief instructions about maintaining the lights and caring for the bread include the word continually four times (2, 3, 4, 8). This gives us both the clue to why they are included at this point and the key principle they seek to inculcate. Chapter 23 had outlined the major events of the year. By contrast, these verses deal with the routine events of every day and every week. The lamps are to be tended daily and the bread on the table replaced weekly. It was by any measure unspectacular, mundane and routine service for God, but, for all that, it was no less important than presiding over the big celebrations or offering a multitude of sacrifices.

The danger of much of today’s Christianity, with its concentration on major gatherings and celebrity speakers, is that it sets wrong aspirations before emerging Christian leaders. Some see the glamour and glitz and want to have a prominent place in the celebration event or on the big platform before they are ready. They do not see, and they fail to grasp, the significance of serving God faithfully in the unremarkable, small and routine work that characterizes most service for God.

Read or sing Hymn: 12 “Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim” Prayer: Please lift up Wayne and Joyce as they move today.

Tuesday (7/1) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 23:23-44. In verses 26-32 we come to the Day of Atonement. The elaborate sacrifices of the Day of the Atonement, which so clearly pointed to Christ, were described in Leviticus chapter 16. Here the emphasis is on the people. I think we can get at the point of this passage by asking two questions:

  1. First, why would the LORD establish a fast right in the midst of the harvest. Isn’t this a time to celebrate God’s gracious and abundant provision?
  2. Second, why would the LORD place the Day of Atonement on the calendar at time that is celebration the consummation of the ingathering of God’s people looking toward Christ’s Second Coming when the sacrifice seems so similar in meaning to the Passover Sacrifice in the first month of the ritual year?

Once we ask those questions the answers become fairly obvious:

  1. Fasting in the midst of the great final harvest reminded Israel that man does not live by bread alone, that we have a thirst that can never be quenched by the fruit of the vine, and a hunger that no meal of grain and beef can ever satisfy. We were created to dwell with God in paradise and so long as we live as sinners in a fallen world we cannot be ultimately satisfied.
  2. That still leaves us with the intriguing question of why there needed to be a separate day of Atonement at all. Why couldn’t this have all been included at Passover where we celebrated the Lamb of God whose blood covered over the sins of His people? I think the answer is rather straightforward: While there is only one sacrifice of Christ; Passover is about Exodus – that is about leaving the world behind. The Day of Atonement is not so much about Exodus but about Eisodos – that is about entrance into the eternal Promised Land. Taken together these two sacrifices make it clear that we start with Christ and we end with Christ. We never move beyond the cross. This is an important message for us to hear. Throughout the history of the church an error keeps creeping in that somehow we begin with grace but we maintain our position in the Kingdom through our own faithfulness. This error is making quite a revival in our day – but rather than it being a revival to new life – it is the restoration of an old death putting upon God’s people a burden that we can never bear. The good news is that your salvation is in Christ from start to finish.

Prayer: Please pray for the English for Kids camp being held in Quebec this week.

Wednesday (7/2) Read and discuss 1 Samuel 21:1-6. Richard Phillips writes:

Occasionally, you will hear the name of a place that seems strangely familiar. Though you cannot quite place it, it seems that you have been there before. Most Christians should respond this way to a reading of 1 Samuel 21. We hear the name “Nob,” and ask, “Haven’t I been there?” We read of “Gath,” and ponder, “Isn’t that a place I have visited?”

I say this not because most Christians have physically visited Palestine, where these ancient sites were located. Instead, we have frequented the spiritual reality that they represent. Nob is the place of David’s unholy flight of fear, and Gath is the city of David’s mad refuge. Few who have sought to follow Jesus Christ for any length of time have avoided these travel stops; most of us can recognize from our own experience the bitterness of what they represent.

Fortunately, God also knows Nob and Gath very well, and therefore knows how to rescue His people from these places and to use them to challenge and mold our faith. As we study David’s flight through Nob and refuge in Gath, we will not only consider the follow of a believer gripped by fear, but also learn, as Dale Ralph Davis writes, that “even in the most desperate moments [the LORD] does not let go of His servants, least of all David, His king-elect.

Read or sing Hymn 30 “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has promised to never leave nor forsake you.

Thursday (7/3) Read and discuss John 6:22-51. Fallen human beings often have difficulty acknowledging that life comes from Chris alone and only on His terms. N.T. Wright explains:

C.S. Lewis was once interviewed by an American Christian journalist who was writing about well-known characters who had converted to Christianity during adult life. The theme was ‘decision.’ He wanted to get Lewis to say how he had ‘made his decision’.

Unfortunately for his project, Lewis refused to put it in those terms. He hadn’t ‘made a decision’, he said. God had closed in on him and he couldn’t escape though at the time he had badly wanted to). The closest he would get to using the language the reporter was interested in was to say, ‘I was decided upon.’ In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, he describes it in a more evocative phrase: ‘His compulsion is our liberation.’

One of the hard lessons the children of Israel had to learn in the wilderness was that their God, YHWH, was not at their beck and call. He wasn’t obliged to them. He hadn’t decided to rescue them from Egypt because they were a great nation, more powerful and numerous than others. He certainly hadn’t discovered that they were a particularly moral or godly people. There was nothing in them, as they stood, to commend them to him. It was simply that in his loving choice he had decided to make them his own people, so that they would be the nation through whom his purposes and love would be made known to the world. This is particularly emphasized in Deuteronomy 7:7-11 – which is, significantly, set in the context of Moses going through the story of how much Israel had grumbled and provoked their God in the wilderness.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that we find the same blend of themes here. The Judeans – Jesus’ regular opponents in this gospel – are here grumbling, like the people in the wilderness in the Exodus story. They are looking for the kind of leader, or Messiah, who will give them what they want. Jesus’ rather startling emphasis on the sovereignty of Israel’s God in choosing the people is he is going to ‘draw’ to believe in Jesus has the same function as the warnings of Deuteronomy 7: Don’t suppose that, because you are part of God’s chosen people, that must mean that you are special in and of yourselves.

Prayer: Please pray for the war-torn nation of Iraq.

Friday (7/4)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 25:1-31. Robert Chisholm writes:

God’s chosen servants should embrace the wise advice that he provides. As Solomon acknowledges, God’s chosen servants need divine wisdom (1 Kings 3), especially, as in the case of David, when their honor is offended and they are tempted to vindicate themselves. But attempts at self-vindication, even when one has a seemingly just cause, can compromise one’s integrity and prove to be the antithesis of faith in God. Abigail reminds David that bloodshed will be unbecoming for the king of Israel and that his destiny is safe and secure within the Lord’s promise. As the embodiment of wisdom, she has been set by the Lord to David. To his credit, he listens to the voice of wisdom, correctly perceives her as God’s messenger, and decides to trust in the God’s promise and timing, rather than in his sword. Violent retaliation for perceived wrongs is rarely, if even, a wise response, for the wisdom that comes from God promotes peace, not strife.

Prayer: Ask that the LORD would send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would be used to build up this local church.

Saturday (7/5) Read and discuss Leviticus 24:1-9. Sometimes people wonder about the similarities between ancient Jewish and ancient pagan worship. Since both offered food sacrifices to their gods/God – did that mean that they were basically doing the same thing? John Kleinig comments:

The bread gained its function and significance from its location in the LORD’s presence. It was therefore called the “bread of (the) Presence.” Its table was called “the Table of the Presence.” It was the only food offering that was set before the LORD in the Tabernacle. But, unlike the food offered to pagan gods, it did not provide a meal for the LORD. None of it was offered to God by being burned on the incense altar or the altar for the burnt offering. Only the incense that accompanied it was burnt. All the bread was eaten by the priests on duty in the sanctuary on the Sabbath.

We therefore have a case of ritual reversal. The divine service instituted by the LORD is the reverse of pagan rites. There was indeed a meal, but God was the host of the meal. In that meal he provided bread each Sabbath for his servants the priests. …

This is one of the fundamental differences between Biblical religion and nearly all pagan religions. In paganism, the people provide for the gods while in Biblical religion the true and Living God provides for His people. As Isaiah put it in Isaiah 64:4 “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”  Read or Sing Hymn 261 “What Wondrous Love Is This” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 29 June 2014 Sunday, Jun 22 2014 

MVOPC 29 June 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 11 “Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God”

Confession of Sin

Almighty and most merciful Father;  We have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep.  We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.  We have offended against Your holy laws.  We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.  And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;  and there is no health in us.  But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.  Spare those, O God, who confess their faults.  Restore those who are penitent;  According to Your promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And grant, O most merciful Father;  For His sake;  That we may hereby live a godly, righteous, and sober life;  To the glory of Your holy name.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 55:7-9

Old Covenant Reading: Numbers 29:12-40

New Covenant Reading: John 7:1-39

Hymn of Preparation:32 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 23:23-44

Sermon: Patterns in Time

Hymn of Response: 521 “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”

Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 431 “A Parting Hymn We Sing”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 24:1-22 – Whose Vengeance?

Adult Sunday School: What is Sin?

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #53

Q. 53. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Monday (6/23) Read and discuss Leviticus 23:23-44.  The seventh month of the Jewish year began with the Feast of Trumpets. As we will see when we look at the Feast of Tabernacles this ceremony points forward to Christ’s Second Coming which is also announced with trumpets. First we should see what the big deal is about the seventh month. Philip Eveson explains:

The ‘seventh month’ is set apart, just like the seventh day and the seventh year. In fact, the seventh month is to the other months of the year what the seventh day is to the other days of the week. The more haunting horn blasts, in contrast to the clear notes of the trumpets, proclaimed the first day of the holy month and summoned the people to make their special offerings and to prepare themselves for the solemn Day of Atonement and the final great festival of joy.

The blasts are also a reminder, or ‘memorial’, in that they call out to God on Israel’s behalf that he would remember his covenant with them and continue to be favorable towards them. In the midst of their rejoicing at the end of the agricultural year the horn blasts drew attention to their need to implore God’s mercy that he would be gracious as they looked towards a new season. At the same time the sound of the horns would have had the effect of reminding Israel of her responsibilities.

Read or sing Hymn: 11 “Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God”Prayer: Please pray for the people of Iraq as they suffer through another civil war.

Tuesday (6/24) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 23:15-22. Fine flour baked with leaven was a sign of abundance. This wasn’t the hurried unleavened bread that was to be eaten at Passover this was the richer fair that came from being settled by God in a Land flowing with Milk and Honey. I’m sure that you’ve heard that leaven in the Bible is a type of sin. That is wrong. Leaven is a sign of something that grows dramatically. Sometimes that is used for sin, but sometimes it is used to signify material and spiritual abundance or even the growth of the Kingdom of God. We see the latter usage of leaven in Luke 13. There Jesus says:

“The Mustard Seed and the Leaven He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’ And again he said, ‘To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.’”

Jesus is saying: Look at these tiny things – a mustard seed and leaven. That’s what the Kingdom of God is like. Right now the Kingdom is so small that hardly anyone can notice it – but that is not the end of the story. Just as the mustard seed will grow into a tree and the nearly invisible leaven will leaven the entire loaf of bread – so will the Kingdom of God spread. The way that this connects to the Christian Pentecost is obvious. In the ten days after Christ’s ascension into heaven the Kingdom of God looked powerless. It was just a handful of people huddled together waiting on the LORD. But when the Father and the Son poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost 3,000 were saved in a single day – and this was just a down payment on the vast multitude that would be gathered into the Kingdom of God. Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to renew a right spirit within you and give thanks that Pentecost is down payment on the promise that one day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD even as the waters cover the sea.

Wednesday (6/25) Read and discuss Numbers 29:12-40. The Spring festivals of First Fruits and Pentecost celebrated the grain harvests. The olive and grape harvests were in the Fall and were celebrated at the Feast of Tabernacles (also commonly called the Feast of Booths). This feast started five days after the Day of Atonement and lasted for seven days or eight days depending on whether or not the last great day of the feast is included. Peter Naylor helps us grasp how this Feast both celebrated Israel’s past and pointed forward to our future:

There is a great spiritual analogy in these festivals. Passover (commemorating deliverance form Egypt and death) corresponds with Christ’s crucifixion; Weeks or Pentecost corresponds with the sending of the Holy Spirit and the first fruits of the gospel harvest (Acts 2). So Tabernacles corresponds with Christ’s second coming at the close of the age, marking the end of the harvest. The time between Weeks and Tabernacles was a busy period when Israel labored for the harvest. Similarly, between Pentecost and the second coming laborers are sent to reap the harvest among the Gentiles. At the end of the age, the harvest will be gathered in and the weeks thrown into the fire.

The harvest was also a time to remember that God had brought them into the land and blessed them bountifully there (this was why they lived in booths, recalling their journey to the land). Similarly, at the end of the age, God’s people will rejoice in Him who has brought them into the eternal kingdom. Thus the Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the inheritance, the key theme in chapters 26-36. Finally, there is a further point of analogy. Just as trumpets called the people to this greatest of feasts, so at the end, the trumpet will summon people to assemble before the God who is the judge of the living and the dead.

Read or sing Hymn 32 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has not only delivered you from the kingdom of darkness but that He has committed Himself to bringing you to the new Promised Land of the New Heavens and New Earth.

Thursday (6/26) Read and discuss John 7:1-39. John chapters 7-9 record Jesus in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. Knowing the OT and Intertestamental background will help us understand what He was doing there. As commonly happens with celebratory events, new traditions get added over time. One extra-Biblical tradition that had become part of the customary celebration of Tabernacles at the time of Christ was the water ceremony. Because Israel is a dry land, and the Fall in Israel is normally is a time of drought, people were very sensitive to the importance of water. So, Israel began to celebrate the LORD’s miraculous provision of water from the rock during the Exodus during the Feast of Tabernacles. Every day of the feast a group of priests would make a procession to the Gihon Spring where they would fill a golden pitcher with water while a choir of priests chanted Isaiah 12:3: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” The crowd would sing Hallel psalms before the priests as the water was carried to the Temple and poured out on the altar. This was repeated every day. What is the payoff from knowing this? Listen to and meditate on these words from John 7:37-39:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Read or Sing 521 “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”Read or sing Hymn 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would send revival and reformation to New England.

Friday (6/27)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 24:1-22. One of the great themes of this chapter is that the LORD vindicates His servants when they trust in Him. But how can we know that we are trusting in Him? One key is that we are not trying to vindicate ourselves! That is easier said than done.  Yet, just as we don’t grow in faith by focusing on faith; we need to realize that we will not turn away from self-justification by focusing on making ourselves more humble. Both of these virtues are the side effects of focusing on who the LORD is and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ. David wrote Psalm 54 when Saul was pursuing his life:

O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them.

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.

For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Sometimes it helps to read a story or a psalm backwards so we can understand each line in light of where it is going. Notice the three phrases in bold print. (1) First, we see that David’s confidence in entrusting that God would vindicate him was based on the fact that the LORD had already worked to deliver him in the past. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for Christians to keep reminding themselves and each other that Jesus has already conquered Satan, sin, and death on behalf of His people; (2) Second, based on who the LORD is David expresses confidence that God is his helper and the upholder of his life in the present; (3) Third, David therefore has to confidence to entrust his vindication to the LORD. This makes complete sense. To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards, if you seek to vindicate yourself the extent of your vindication will depend on your abilities. By contrast, the LORD will completely vindicate those who place their confidence in Him. Prayer: Ask that the LORD would increase your faith and to teach you more and more to rest in Him.

Saturday (6/28) Read and discuss Leviticus 23:23-44. Sometimes people imagine that “serious” Christianity must be a somber or heavy affair. If you asked such individuals how frequently Old Testament believers were required to fast they would probably answer that they had to do so frequently. It turns out that, while there were forty-nine days of feasting stipulated in the Mosaic law there was only one day of mandatory fasting and that was on the Day of Atonement. Philip Eveson helps us understand what this was all about:

On the tenth day of this holy month the people were to keep the ‘Day of Atonement’ (Yom Kippur). The day has been mentioned in Leviticus 16, where we are given details of the special rituals at the tabernacle and the important work of the high priest. Here we see the day in the context of the other calendar events and emphasis falls on the people’s responsibilities. It is the only place in the calendar where the precise time is given for keeping the day – ‘on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening’ (23:32). There are obvious practical reasons for giving this detail. It was important for the people to know exactly when the fast should begin and end, both for their own physical heal and to save them from the disaster of being ‘cut off’ from their people (23:29).

… This ‘holy convocation’ day is like the weekly Sabbath. It is called ‘your Sabbath’ and a ‘Sabbath of solemn rest’ (23:32). Three times it is stressed that no work was to be done, with the warning that God would destroy offenders. As the earlier legislation laid down, the people are called to ‘afflict’ themselves. As we see from Isaiah’s prophesy against false fasting (Isa. 58:3-10), the affliction or deprivation involved going without food and expressing signs of mourning. The people’s attitude was to coincide with what was taking place in the tabernacle when the high priest was making ‘full atonement’.

Read or Sing Hymn 431 “A Parting Hymn We Sing” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 22 June 2014 Sunday, Jun 15 2014 

MVOPC 22 June 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing”

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: 2 Chronicles 7:14

Old Covenant Reading: Joel 2:12-32

New Covenant Reading: Acts 2:1-21

Hymn of Preparation: 102 “All Glory Be to Thee, Most High”

Sermon Text:  Leviticus 23:15-22

Sermon: Pentecost

Hymn of Response: 337 “O Spirit of the Living God”

Confession of Faith:   Q/A 1 Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 689 “Be Still, My Soul”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 23:15-29 – Role Reversal

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism 21-23 The First Sin

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #52

Q. 52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.

Monday (6/16) Read and discuss Leviticus 23:15-22.  Derek Tidball writes:

If the presentation of the firstfruits signaled the beginning of the barley harvest, the Feast of Weeks signaled its end. Its name is derived from the practice of counting seven weeks from the offering of the firstfruits as a way of determining when this festival should be held. On the fiftieth day the people enjoyed another sacred assembly and had a day off work.  On this occasion the ritual consisted of presenting God with two loaves baked from the fresh grain but this time baked with yeast, making them representative of Israel’s normal and richer fare. …

An interesting footnote is appended to these regulations. In the midst of their celebration of abundance the children of Israel are reminded of their obligation to the poor. Harvest and holiness belonged together. They could not truly express dedication and thankfulness to God while being indifferent to the needs of their neighbors.

The fifty days mention in verse 16 led to this feast being known as the Feast of Pentecost. Much later the feast became associated with the giving of the law, another of God’s rich provisions for his people. But for Christians it is inextricably associated with yet a third gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church.

Read or sing Hymn: 1 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq as the nation descends into civil war.

Tuesday (6/17) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 23:1-14. Everyone enjoys public festivals and holidays. Through them, we not only take time off to relax, but we tell stories that are important to our shared history and our community or national identity. When we celebrate Thanksgiving or Independence Day on the 4th of July we self-identify with the Pilgrims and with those who fought on the side of the Colonists during the revolutionary war. It is, in fact, very unlikely that your physical ancestry traces its way back to the Pilgrims. Yet, it doesn’t matter if your family tree first put down roots in the United States in the twentieth century – if you engage in these public festivals and holidays with sufficient regularity you will soon start to merge your history into America’s history. Of course, if you are visiting another country or are simply new immigrants, you will naturally want to keep alive your family’s connection to where you came from. Part of the way you will do this will be by maintaining traditions and celebrations from that land. Of course, God knew this aspect of how our identities were formed from before the foundations of the world. So the LORD didn’t simply give Israel a list of Instructions. He gave them feasts and festivals whereby they would celebrate His saving acts and bountiful provision so that it would become part of the warp and woof of their lives. In today’s passage we see four holy days being commanded: (1) The Sabbath; (2) Passover; (3) The Feast of Unleavened Bread; and (4) The Feast of First Fruits. These pointed respectively to (1) TRUSTING the LORD by resting in Him with the confidence that He would act on our behalf; (2) CELEBRATING the LORD’s great salvific act of delivering His people from Egypt; (3) FLEEING with haste from worldliness as Pilgrims to the Promised Land; and (4) Our GRATEFUL response of offering back to God the first-fruits of what He blesses us with. Those four items would be great things for us to do this week and every week until the LORD calls us home. Prayer: Ask the LORD to search your heart and to lead you to quickly turn away from sin and temptation and to embrace Jesus Christ more fully.

Wednesday (6/18) Read and discuss Joel 2:12-32. Doug Stuart writes:

After a lengthy description of an enemy invasion and call for repentance, Joel’s inspired message shifts to a joyous promise of relief, compensation, and blessing. Of the ten types of restoration blessings that could have been used to depict the coming era of renewal as described in 2:18-3:5, six are attested here (renewal of divine favor and presence, renewal of the covenant, restoration of orthodoxy, agricultural bounty, power over enemies, and freedom from death/destruction). Two (agricultural bound, renewal of divine favor) predominate. God’s people may expect that the time will come when he already will have given them more food production than they or the animals can eat, and that he will be with them – all of them – in a new and special way via the outpouring and filling of his Spirit.

Thus the passage looks happily to an era in which both the physical and spiritual needs of God’s people will be fully met. … For in the new age, salvation will not only be available to all who turn in faith to the true God, but there will be no distinction of spirituality on the basis of age, gender, or social status. God’s spirit will be available to both young and old, to both male and female, and to both slave and free.

Read or sing Hymn 582 “My Hope Is Built” Prayer: Please lift up the General Assembly of our sister denomination the Presbyterian Church in America as it is currently meeting.

Thursday (6/19) Read and discuss Acts 2:1-21. R.C. Sproul writes:

When we look at this text of what happened at Pentecost, particularly in light of Pentecostalism in our day, almost all the attention goes to the phenomenon of glossolalia, the speaking in tongues, which I do not want to minimize or underestimate, but I want us to focus on two other dimensions, the sound and the sight of what happened on Pentecost, because therein we see it great significance.

What happened on Pentecost was the rushing pneuma (Spirit/wind) of God. The mighty power of the Holy Spirit came roaring through a room filled with people whom Jesus had selected to be there to receive power from heaven to fulfill their mission in this world, and they heard the wind. What they saw was fire, tongues of fire, appearing over each one’s head. This was no ordinary wind. This was the wind of God, a theophany, a visible manifestation of the invisible God. The most common visible manifestation of God in the Old Testament was through fire. In the Midianite wilderness, the theophany was a bush burning but not consumed, and out of that fire God spoke to Moses and changed the course of history. When God led the children of Israel through the wilderness, He did so through a pillar of cloud and a pillar of smoke, or fire. The judgment throne of God that went across the sky, the whirlwind into which people were caught up, was a chariot of fire, so much so that the New Testament tells us, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). When God gave the law to the people at Mount Sinai, flames were visible on the mountain, symbolizing the power of the transcendent majesty of God.

Here is the amazing part. Instead of the fire simple descending upon a distant mountain, the fire of the Holy Spirit descended and remained upon Christ’s disciples. We are now a special place where God manifests Himself to the world. Read or Sing 579 “Be Still, My Soul” Read or sing Hymn 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!” Prayer: Lift up President Obama, the members of the Supreme Court, the Congress of the United States, and all who are in positions of authority over us that they would lead with humility and wisdom.

Friday (6/20)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 23:15-29. Robert Chisholm writes:

The LORD takes care of David amid danger, proving that when he leads his people into harm’s way, he does not abandon them. The LORD warns David that Keilah is not a safe place to stay, ironically through the ephod brought by Abiathar. When Saul killed the priests of Nob, he effectively cut off communication with God. Abiathar escaped, bringing with him the ephod that David uses to gain vital information that allows him to escape. By the LORD’s providence, right after David hears that Saul has indeed come out to  take his life (v. 15), Saul’s son and heir apparent Jonathan shows up and encourages David by reminding him of his destiny. David surely is tempted to walk by sight, not faith, but Jonathan helps David to see beyond circumstances. Finally, the LORD even uses the Philistines to divert Saul so that David can escape. Believers today cannot expect direct revelation form God, but they can find assurance in the realization that God providentially guides his people.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to help you see beyond the circumstances and to walk by faith instead of sight.

Saturday (6/21) Read and discuss Leviticus 23:15-22. Because the Old Testament ceremonial law was but a shadow of what was to come, we should always be looking to see how these Old Testament signs find fulfillment in New Testament realities. Philip Eveson writes:

The law finds its consummation in the events surrounding the coming of the Holy Spirit as a result of the death and resurrection of Christ. Luke draws our attention to this when he describes the promised Holy Spirit descending in power on Christ’s disciples who had met together in Jerusalem. In the original Greek the opening clause, translated, ‘When the day of Pentecost had fully come …’, suggests that the Festival of Weeks was being fulfilled that day. This was ‘the day of the first fruits’ of the harvest when representatives from different parts of the Roman Empire heard the gospel and three thousand of them became believers and formed the New Testament church, the body of Christ. It was the beginning, a first-fruits presentation to the LORD, as Luke indicates in the book of Acts, of a worldwide harvest to be gathered in.

Pentecost is not only the first day of a new week, but the first day of a new week of weeks and, on the basis of the date in Exodus 19:1, it was regard by the Jews as the day when the law was given at Mount Sinai. Instead of its being associated with the law, the old covenant and ethnic Israel, Pentecost is now associated with the new covenant, the gift of the Spirit and the Israel of God from all nations.

Read or Sing Hymn 693 “Blessed Assurance” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 15 June 2014 Sunday, Jun 8 2014 

MVOPC 15 June 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 12 “Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim”

Confession of Sin

Almighty God, Who are rich in mercy to all those who call upon You;  Hear us as we humbly come to You confessing our sins;  And imploring Your mercy and forgiveness.  We have broken Your holy laws by our deeds and by our words;  And by the sinful affections of our hearts.  We confess before You our disobedience and ingratitude, our pride and willfulness;  And all our failures and  shortcomings toward You and toward fellow men.  Have mercy upon us, Most merciful Father;  And of Your great goodness grant that we may hereafter serve and please You in newness of life;  Through the merit and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Matthew 1:18-21

Old Covenant Reading: Exodus 12:1-28

New Covenant Reading: Mark 14:1-25

Hymn of Preparation:14 “New Songs of Celebration Render”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 23:1-14

Sermon: Holy Days

Hymn of Response: 30 “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”

Confession of Faith:   Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 23:1-14 – Not By Bread Alone

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #51

Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshiping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word.

Monday (6/9) Read and discuss Leviticus 23:1-14.  Philip Eveson writes:

The festival associated with the Passover, lasting ‘seven days’ and beginning on the following day, ‘the fifteenth’, was the first of the three great occasions (the others being Pentecost and Tabernacles) when all adult males in Israel were to attend the central sanctuary. This is why it is called ‘the Feast of Unleavened Bread’ (23:6). The word translated ‘Feast’ is not the same as the earlier term in the expression ‘feasts of the LORD’ (23:4). Here the Hebrew word means ‘pilgrimage festival’ or ‘festival gathering’ and is related to the Arabic word ‘hajj’. A ‘holy convocation’, when no work was allowed, was to be held on the first and last days of this festival. The festival called Matzoth and takes its name from the command to eat bread with no yeast in it. Besides eating unleavened bread during this week-long festival, they were also required to offer food gifts each day, the details of which are given in Numbers 28:19-23.

Read or sing Hymn: 12 “Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim” Prayer: Please continue to pray for the General Assembly of the OPC which is scheduled to conclude business tomorrow.

Tuesday (6/10) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 22:1-33. The contents of chapters 21 and 22 are rounded off with inspiriting words that urge the people to keep God’s commandments. They include for the sixth and final time, ‘I am the LORD who sanctifies …’ Why should God’s people observe these laws and be careful to do His will?

  1. Firstly, because of who God is and what He has done for His people. He is ‘the LORD’ whose name is ‘holy’. He is their Savior who brought them ‘out of the land of Egypt’ and has graciously and unashamedly associated Himself with them as ‘our God.’ He is the Savior, who laid down His life for us to deliver us out of the Kingdom of Darkness and into the Kingdom of His Marvelous Light.
  2. Secondly, because this is the way God is sanctified among His people. If they keep His commands God ‘will be hallowed’. Otherwise, they will desecrate, or ‘profane’, God’s ‘holy name’ by bringing shame upon it. Their violation of God’s law will reflect badly on God in the eyes of the pagan nations. This is true for the Church in our day as well.
  3. Thirdly, because God sanctifies His people. Acceptable worship is not about being good enough for God but is simply our grateful response to His prior grace.

Remember: We do not bring in the Kingdom of God, Jesus has already brought in His Kingdom. We do not make ourselves acceptable to God, Jesus has already made us acceptable through His life, death, and resurrection. We do not strive to finish what God has begun, but rest confidently in the sure hope that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion. Yet, because we rest in Christ by faith we ought to be all the more zealous to worship our Savior and King in Spirit and in truth – for the Father is actively seeking those who will so worship Him. Prayer: Please lift up the people of the Ukraine as leaders seek to end the violence there.

Wednesday (6/11) Read and discuss Exodus 12:1-28. Americans have a delightful wedding custom that may be unique to us – the rehearsal dinner. On the night before the wedding, the families of the bride and groom (usually with the wedding party) get together for a celebratory dinner. This is a time of great joy but also of genuine intimacy. Commonly such dinners involve expressions of love and loyalty that Americans rarely display. The interesting thing about this dinner is that it is celebrated prior to the wedding actually taking place. The first Passover (like the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the upper room) is very much like this. The first Passover takes place in Egypt before the LORD has brought His people into the Promised Land. Everyone who rightly partook of this meal did so based upon trusting the LORD’s promises about the future. Once Israel entered the Promised Land, this theme of trusting God’s promises for the future continued to be central to the Passover meal. After all, the Promised Land was merely a type, and the lamb but a shadow, of the glorious blessings the LORD has prepared for His people. Yet, now the covenant community could look back to the accomplished work of the Exodus to strengthen their (and our!) faith about the coming Exodus which was accomplished in Christ. Although we live on the other side of the resurrection, we too look forward in hope. While Christ has, in principle, accomplished the Exodus for His people, we do not yet live in that city whose builder and maker is God. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together we look back to Christ’s victorious death and resurrection but we also look forward proclaiming that victorious death until He comes again. So, let us enjoy the Lord’s Supper as a great rehearsal dinner and let us look forward to the consummation of the great marriage supper of the Lamb. Read or sing Hymn 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render”Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Thursday (6/12) Read and discuss Mark 14:1-9. We see things most clearly when we see them in contrast to their opposites. This is why a fine jeweler will often lay down a fine black cloth before showing you a diamond. The radiance of the diamond shines most clearly against the perfect blackness of the cloth.  In today’s passage there are two black cloths laid down. The first is that of the chief priests and the scribes who were seeking to arrest Jesus and to have Him killed. Were they simply making a mistake? Absolutely not! Honest people make their mistakes in the open because they are trying to do the right thing. These men were seeking to arrest Jesus with stealth so as to hide their wickedness under the cover of darkness. The second black cloth comes in the form of those who grumbled that such a lavish gift should be poured out simply for the sake of honoring Jesus. Regretfully, this is an attitude that keeps bubbling up in the life of the church. No one will ever admit that it is their own greed that causes them to regret such beautiful acts of worship, so they suggest that the money would have been better spent on helping the poor. This is utter hypocrisy. Jesus reminds the crowd that they can help the poor anytime they want to – but they will not always have the Christ in their presence to so honor. Our LORD has nothing but praise for this woman. The truth is that there is no rational defense for what she did except that Jesus is who He claimed to be. This is a good time to look at our own lives and ask: “Is there anything about my life that can only be explained in light of the fact that Jesus is my Lord and Savior?” Read or Sing 30 “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you an extravagant joy over who He is and what He has done for you.

Friday (6/13)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 23:1-14. One of the striking things about today’s passage is that it reveals David, driven out of the land through the madness of King Saul, still serving as the military savior of Israel. Dale Ralph Davis observes:

Anyone coming fresh from 1 Samuel 21 and 22 into chapter 23 can easily note some fascinating contrasts. At Nob Saul is the destroyer of Israel, but here, at Keilah, David becomes the savior of Israel. Saul complains that no one discloses urgent matters to him, but God discloses via Abiathar all that David needs to know. Saul’s companion is Doeg, the Edomite killer, who covers Saul’s hands with blood; David’s support is Jonathan, the royal son, who strengthens his hand in God. Previously, the Philistines were a dangerous threat to David; now they are his welcome saviors.

David, however, can hardly afford to ponder literary contrast. He is a wandering outlaw on the run from Saul, his life always at risk. David needs assurance that Yahweh provides for his servants in their desolate, trying times. Apparently, he received that – if Psalm 54 is any indication. In the fact of human treachery, David bears his witness: “Surely God is my help; the LORD is the one who sustains me” (Ps. 54:4 NIV).

Prayer: Please lift up the young people in our church as they transition from the school year to their Summer routines.

Saturday (6/14) Read and discuss Leviticus 23:1-14. Philip Eveson writes:

‘First fruits’ is not another feast, or festival, as many insist on calling it. It is an important day within the Festival of Unleavened Bread, for it was the time when the first sheaf of the grain harvest was offered to the LORD. The first grain t ripen was barley, as we are told in Exodus 9:31-31. Ruth and Naomi came back to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. … It looked forward to the time when Israel would be settled in Canaan. As the name implied, the fist ‘sheaf’, or bundle of barley that they harvested symbolically represented their entire harvest.

… The act of waving, or elevating, the sheaf symbolized that this was a gift dedicated to God as an expression of praise and thanksgiving. It also indicated that the whole crop belonged to him and expressed the hope that God would bless them with the new crop. No grain or bread was to be eaten until the first sheaf had been offered. Along with the bundle of barley they were to offer propitiatory sacrifices (‘for a sweet aroma’): a burnt offering, a grain offering consisting of double the regular daily offering of flour mixed with oil and a drink offering of wine.

Read or Sing Hymn 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 8 June 2014 Sunday, Jun 1 2014 

MVOPC 8 June 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 8 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You”

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: Romans 1:16-17

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 24:1-10

New Covenant Reading: Romans 11:25-12:2

Hymn of Preparation: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 22:1-33

Sermon: Holy Sacrifices

Hymn of Response:  429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured”

Confession of Faith:  Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 242 “Not All the Blood of Beasts”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 22:1-23 – A Blood Thirsty Act

Adult Sunday School: Providence

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #50

Q. 50. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.

Monday (6/2) Read and discuss Leviticus 22:1-33.  John Currid writes:

The New Testament underscores the point that Jesus is a sacrificial lamb without defect and, therefore, he is an appropriate and proper sacrifice to God. The apostle Peter proclaims that Christians have been redeemed ‘with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ’ (1 Peter 1:19). Indeed, he is the Lamb of God (John 1:29) who has no moral defect and no blemish of sin (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Thus he is an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of his people, and through the sacrifice of his people have been made righteous. As Paul says, ‘He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Cor. 5:21). The perfect God requires a perfect sacrifice for imperfect man, and it is found in Jesus Christ.

Read or sing Hymn: 8 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine as they continue to live in much uncertainty.

Tuesday (6/3) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 21:1-24. The Tabernacle, the priests, and the High Priest were all given in the Old Testament to serve as signs pointing to God’s future plans for His people. Today’s passage breaks up into three paragraphs that each deal with aspects of this truth.

  1. First, in verses 1-9 we see how the priests as a group serve as signs of our lives in the New Heavens and New Earth and also as those who live in the present age in light of the age to come.
  2. Second, in verses 10-15 we see the High Priest as a type of Christ that points to both Christ’s first and particularly to His Second Coming. This is why the High Priest could never stop interceding for the people to mourn for the dead and why he had to marry a virgin.
  3. Third, in verses 16-24 we see a sign of the promise of the restoration of our physical well being in the New Heavens and New Earth. The blind will see, the lame will walk, and all the consequences of sin will be eradicated.

Although the Tabernacle/Temple and the Levitical Priesthood passed away with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord; Christians today are also called to serve as signposts which point toward life in the age to come. We do this not so much by following a defined set of rules but through organizing our lives around Jesus Christ. So, we look back to the Death of Death in the Death of Christ.. We look up to see Jesus seated at the right hand of His Father, the ruler of the kings of the earth, governing all things for our good and for His own glory; and we see Him also as our Great High Priest always making intercession for us. Then we look forward to see the Second Coming when Jesus will judge the living and the dead and usher in the New Heavens and New Earth in which righteousness dwells – and we seek the grace to live today in light of eternity. Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you effective in your vocation to serve as salt and light right where you are.

Wednesday (6/4) Read and discuss Psalm 24:1-10. Today’s passage is a liturgical psalm that celebrates the victory procession of the LORD into the Temple sanctuary. Allen Ross notes:

From the detailed analysis of the psalm we can suggest a reconstruction of the occasion and setting of the piece. The internal evidence suggests that the Israelites had just returned from a victorious battle with the Canaanites. They were proceeding to the sanctuary to give praise to the LORD for the great and mighty victory in battle, carrying with them the glorious ark of the covenant, the symbol of the LORD’s presence with them. As they approached the gates they were met by the Levitical gatekeepers. It was the worshiper’s part to ask who could enter the sanctuary of the LORD; and it was the gatekeepers’ part to answer with the standards set down in the Law – perfect righteousness. The worshipers in this case did not claim to be qualified to enter; rather, they responded that they were simply seeking the LORD’s favor – a response that indicates that they wanted to meet the LORD’s requirements but had to bring sacrifices to do that. The psalm concludes with the procession of the people into the sanctuary with shouts of acclamation for the LORD’s greatness expressed in the form of an encouraging refrain.

Two additional comments are in order:

  1. Whether or not Ross is entirely right in capturing the original setting of the Psalm, the Psalms are composed in such a way that they were intended to be used down through the centuries by believers. It is not only legitimate, but an intended function of this Psalm, that subsequent generations of believers would use it to celebrate the God who is victorious over His and our enemies; to celebrate the LORD’s majesty; and to confess that only those with clean hands and a pure heart are fit to come into his presence.
  2. It is fair to read verses 3-5 Christologically, realizing that the only man fully qualified “to ascend the hill of the LORD” is the man Christ Jesus. On the other hand, verse six is clearly intended to apply to believers and is not restricted to Jesus.

Read or sing Hymn 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”Prayer: Please pray for the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as it begins meeting today.

Thursday (6/5) Read and discuss Romans 11:25-12:2. The phrase “renewing your minds” in Romans 12 has become the theme of Ligonier Ministries which is familiar to most of us. But what exactly is the significance of this command to renew our minds? Doug Moo writes:

The fact that Paul calls on believers to engage in this renewing of the mind shows that it does not automatically happen to us when we believe. God’s Spirit comes to reside in us, and he provides a whole new orientation to our thinking. But our thinking itself is not instantaneously changed. The ruts of the old life are not always easy to get out of. Some of our ways of thinking are deeply ingrained, and they will not disappear overnight.

I came to Christ as a twenty-year-old college student, and, almost thirty years later, I am still fighting against the mental habits I developed in my first twenty years. Through his Spirit, God wants to reprogram my thinking. But I must respond to the Spirit’s work and actively engage in the process if it is to happen.

The key question then becomes: What are we feeding into our minds? Most Christians have little choice but to spend forty or fifty hours every week in “the world,” making a living. It is hope that most Christians also seek to spend time with unbelievers as a means of ministry and evangelism. But if we spend all our discretionary time watching network television, reading secular books, and listening to secular music, it will be a wonder if our minds are not fundamentally secular. Our job is to cooperate with God’s Spirit by seeking to feed into our minds information that will reprogram our thinking in line with the values of the kingdom.

Read or Sing 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured”Read or sing Hymn 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church.

Friday (6/6)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 22:1-23. Today’s passage highlights how Saul was increasingly giving himself over to barbaric madness. Yet, perhaps the key element in the chapter is how it ends. William Blaikie writes:

The very presence in his camp of Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, who escaped the massacre, with his ephod – an official means of consulting God in all cases of difficulty – would be a visible proof to his followers and to the community at large, that God was on his side. … The feeling could not fail to gain strength that David’s cause was the cause of God, and the cause of the country, and that, in due time, his patient sufferings and his noble services would be crowned with the due reward.

In the coming chapters take note of how David consults the LORD and how the LORD answers him in contrast to Saul’s inability to get a word of guidance from God. Prayer: Thank the LORD that He speaks to you through His written word the Bible.

Saturday (6/7) Read and discuss Leviticus 22:1-33. Louis Goldberg writes:

All gifts presented to God were sacred, and the priest had to treat each offering with the greatest of respect. People presented their offerings to god himself and the priest had to realize they were only the intermediaries, offering these gifts on behalf of the people. …

No one outside a priest’s family could eat of the sacred food; it was reserved for the priest, his family, and the servants in his household. When a priest’s daughter married outside of her tribe, she was no longer eligible to eat of the sacred offerings; but if she ever became a widow with no children or was divorced, she could return to live in her father’s house and eat of his food.

Should anyone eat of this reserved food by mistake, he was required to offer the sin and guilt offerings, making restitution: the value of the offering he ate plus one fifth.

Regulations spelled out what kind of sacrifices were permissible: none were to be presented which were defective in any way. How could people offer to God their worst when he had showered Israel with every blessing? Furthermore, defective offerings as types within Israel only mocked the Antitype, Jesus the Messiah.

Further instructions reflect humane considerations. No newborn animals were to be used as sacrifices before they were eight days old out of consideration for the mother, but after this time period, such young sacrifices were desirable. No female and its newborn young were to be slaughtered on the same day, again out of consideration for the female who had just given birth. The Israelites had to be careful with their sacrifices because the sacrificial system was designed to give glory to the Lord and also to be an attraction to visitors from surrounding nations whereby some would want to be converted.

Read or Sing Hymn 242 “Not All the Blood of Beasts” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 1 June 2014 Sunday, May 25 2014 

MVOPC 1 June 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 1 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”

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: Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Old Covenant Reading: Exodus 19:1-25

New Covenant Reading: 1 Peter 2:1-12

Hymn of Preparation: 582 “My Hope Is Built”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 21:1-24

Sermon: A Holy Priesthood

Hymn of Response:  579 “Be Still, My Soul”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 693 “Blessed Assurance”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 21:1-15 – David’s Need, Saul’s Rage

Adult Sunday School: Deacon Mathison: Suffering Part II

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #49

Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?
A. These words before me in the first commandment teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Monday (5/26) Read and discuss Leviticus 21:1-24.  Philip Eveson writes:

While all God’s covenant people were called to be holy, and therefore separate from the pagan world around them, the priests were in a special position within the Israelite community. Beside the separation laws that applied to all the Israelites, the priests were called to express a degree of holiness that would even separate them from the rest of the nation. The priest were to be unique examples of the high standards that God required from his holy people. In addition, the high priest was to exhibit an even higher degree of holiness commensurate with his office. The division of Israel into three distinct classes – the people, the priests, and the high priest – coincided with the three sections of the tabernacle: the outer courtyard, open to the people to come with their sacrifices; the Holy Place, where only the priests were allowed to enter; and the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest could enter once a year. The closer a person was to the symbol of God’s presence, the greater the degree of holiness.

Though these instructions were addressed to the priests in particular, ‘all the children of Israel’ were to hear and understand the reasons for the stringent measures and were to be involved in helping to keep the priests in their especially holy state.

Read or sing Hymn: 1 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”Prayer: Please pray for the people of Ukraine that yesterday’s elections would lead to a new, peaceful and prosperous page in their history.

Tuesday (5/27) Read and discuss Read Leviticus 20:1-27. One of the things that today’s passage does is that it helps reform our thinking to appreciate what God thinks is most important. We naturally grow up learning to value those things that our culture values and to condemn those things our culture condemns. In some cultures being respective to parents or others in positions of authority is considered to be very important. In other cultures, it is almost considered a right-of-passage for teenagers to become dismissive of their parents. Of course, what we want to adopt is not simply our culture’s priorities but God’s. One barrier to have our thought reformed in this way is the common but erroneous notion that the Old Testament law attaches the death penalty to almost anything. This could lead us to reading today’s passage and unconsciously responding: “Sure, the LORD gives the death penalty to those who practice witchcraft and those who curse the parents – but the Pentateuch gives the death penalty for all sorts of relatively minor offenses.  It turns out that the Torah actually only assigns the death penalty in 17 cases. As Derek Tidball has pointed out, this means that there were a lot more things that a person could be put to death for in medieval England than in ancient Israel. This also means that those things which the LORD assigned capital punishment to in the OT ought to get our attention. These are sins which God puts at the top of His list in terms of how destructive they are to society living in harmony and reflecting His character into this world. As you read through today’s passage ask yourself: “Do I see these sins the same way that God does?” Prayer: Please pray for the students in our congregation who are transitioning to summer jobs and other activities.

Wednesday (5/28) Read and discuss Exodus 19:1-25. It is striking that this entire chapter is given over to preparing to hear from the LORD. This shows both the seriousness with which we are to treat the Living God and also the seriousness with which we are to treat His Law. In order to grasp the Law it is necessary for us to remember that God had called Israel to be a Kingdom of Priest. They had the extraordinary vocation of being instruments for the reconciliation of the world to its Creator. Israel failed in this vocation but the LORD has given the very same calling to His Church. It is therefore vital that we understand what this vocation entails: Doug Stuart explains:

Israel’s assignment from God involved intermediation. They were not to be a people unto themselves, enjoying their special relationship with God and paying no attention to the rest of the world. Rather, they were to represent him to the rest of the world and attempt to bring the rest of the world to him. In other words, the challenge to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” represented the responsibility inherent in the original promise to Abraham in Gen 12:2-3: “You will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you … and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Priests stand between God and humans to help bring the humans closer to God and to help dispense God’s truth, justice, favor, discipline, and holiness to humans. Israel was called to such a function. How? The answer is not spelled out in the present context, but it surely was to take place in four ways: (1) Israel would be an example to the people of other nations, who would see its holy beliefs and actions and be impressed enough to want to know personally the same God the Israelites knew. (2) Israel would proclaim the truth of God and invite people from other nations to accept him in faith as shown by confession of belief in him and acceptance of his covenant, as Jethro had already done. (3) Israel would intercede for the rest of the world by offering acceptable offerings to God and thus ameliorate the general distance between God and humankind. (4) Israel would keep the promises of God, preserving his word already spoken and recording his word as it was revealed to them so that once the fullness of time had come, anyone in the whole world could promptly benefit from that great body of divinely revealed truth, that is, the Scriptures.

Read or sing Hymn 582 “My Hope Is Built” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey Presbyterian Church in Jaffrey, NH.

Thursday (5/29) Read and discuss 1 Peter 2:1-12. Chuck Swindoll writes: “Want to ruin your year? Make sure that you worry a lot, fix your attention on getting rich, compare yourself with others, lengthen your list of enemies, and cling to unrealistic expectations.” Of course, no one sets out to ruin the coming year – but the absurdity of doing so helps us pay closer attention to what the Holy Spirit is telling us through the Apostle Peter:

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Why wouldn’t we all do this? Because we think we deserve to be treated better right now than we actually are in this world. That is why we rationalize our petty deceits, hypocrisy, and envy – we think we deserve better. On the other hand, Peter agrees with that sentiment but he points out two truths that should revolutionize are attitude toward life:

  1. First, look to Jesus. If anyone was treated far worse than He deserved – it was Jesus. Our Lord was rejected by men but chosen and precious to God.
  2. Second, we who follow Jesus should expect to be treated just like He was. The amazing thing is that, in Him, we too are precious and honored by God the Father. Peter writes: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” It is pretty hard to feel sorry for yourself while contemplating these words.

Read or Sing 579 “Be Still, My Soul” Read or sing Hymn 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to strip envy and jealousy out of your life.

Friday (5/30)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 21:1-15. Richard Phillips writes:

Occasionally, you will hear the name of a place that seems strangely familiar. Though you cannot quite place it, it seems that you have been there before. Most Christians should respond this way to a reading of 1 Samuel 21. We hear the name “Nob,” and ask, “Haven’t I been there?” We read of “Gath,” and ponder, “Isn’t that a place I have visited?”

I say this not because most Christians have physically visited Palestine, where these ancient sites were located. Instead, we have frequented the spiritual reality that they represent. Nob is the place of David’s unholy flight of fear, and Gath is the city of David’s mad refuge. Few who have sought to follow Jesus Christ for any length of time have avoided these travel stops; most of us can recognize from our own experience the bitterness of what they represent.

Fortunately, God also knows Nob and Gath very well, and therefore knows how to rescue his people from these places and to use them to challenge and mold our faith. As we study David’s flight through Nob and refuge in Gath, we will not only consider the folly of a believer gripped by fear, but also learn, as Dale Ralph Davis writes, that “even in their most desperate moments [the Lord] does not let go of his servants, least of all David, his king-elect.”

Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD is an ever present help in times of trouble.

Saturday (5/31) Read and discuss Leviticus 21:1-24. John Currid writes:

No matter how many purity laws like this there are in the Old Testament, the reality is that there was no priest who was without defect. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says that ‘the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak’ (Heb. 7:28) and who are ‘beset with weakness’ (Heb. 5:2). There is no perfection when it comes to men, and even to those who were set apart to serve in the tabernacle. Thus, the mediation exercised in the tabernacle by the priesthood was flawed because these were flawed men. This truth calls out for a flawless and perfec mediator who can properly stand between God and mandkind. And that is what we have in the high priesthood of Jesus Christ! ‘For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens … made perfect for ever’ (Heb. 7:26-28). Indeed, when Christ appeared as a high priest … he entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle … and not through the blood of goats and calves, bu through his own blood,’ and he ‘offered himself without blemish to God’ (Heb. 9:11-12:14). Christ is the perfect High Priest who offered the perfect sacrifice – himself!

Read or Sing Hymn 693 “Blessed Assurance” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 25 May 2014 Sunday, May 18 2014 

MVOPC 25 May 2014

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 53 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

Confession of Sin

Almighty and most merciful Father;  We have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep.  We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.  We have offended against Your holy laws.  We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.  And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;  and there is no health in us.  But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.  Spare those, O God, who confess their faults.  Restore those who are penitent;  According to Your promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And grant, O most merciful Father;  For His sake;  That we may hereby live a godly, righteous, and sober life;  To the glory of Your holy name.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 103:17-18

Old Covenant Reading: Proverbs 31:1-9

New Covenant Reading: Romans 13:1-7

Hymn of Preparation:558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God”

Sermon Text: Leviticus 20:1-27

Sermon: Administering Justice

Hymn of Response: 559 “Father, I Know That All My Life”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 649 “More Love to Thee, O Christ”

PM Worship:1 Samuel 20:1-42 – Covenant Loyalty

Adult Sunday School: Deacon Mathison teaching – Christian Suffering

Suggested Preparations

CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #48

Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?
A. These words before me in the first commandment teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Monday (5/19) Read and discuss Leviticus 20:1-27.  Derek Tidball writes:

Bill Shankly, the great post-war football manager, once famously said, ‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.’ This chapter is a way of declaring, in a form that would have been easily understood among the Semitic people at the time, ‘that obedience to God is a life and death matter’ [indeed, it is even more important than that]. They would not have concluded, [as some modern Westerners do], that it painted a picture of God as cruel and barbaric. They would rather have understood it to indicate that the gracious God of salvation has a right to be supreme in our lives and that by giving Him pre-eminence and obeying His commands we shall live. Only through obedience would Israel enjoy the prosperity of the land they were to inherit. The path of disobedience was the path of treason and could only lead to death and disaster. Refusal to obey Him would mean that the land to which they were going would spit them out, as it had done to the occupants who were there before them.

Read or sing Hymn: 53 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Southern California who are suffering with extensive wildfires.

Tuesday (5/20) Read and discuss Read and discuss Leviticus 19:19-37. What does the life of holiness look like? When we looked at the first half of this chapter we answered that question with one word: LOVE. That is a good answer because holiness means being set apart to God as His own treasured possession. If we are set apart to God we will reflect God’s holy character into the world and, since God is love, this means that we will manifest holiness by loving God and loving our neighbors. As verse 18 commands us: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” That is the right answer but it is also a dangerous answer. The problem is that we are prone to excuse our self-serving behavior under the claim that we are doing these things with love in our hearts. In today’s passage the LORD addresses this problem by telling us: As you love your neighbor who is in the world you need to separate yourself from worldliness. God has called us to be salt and light which means that we cannot try to reach the world by becoming like it. We must reach the world while rightly representing our Holy Father to the lost. Today’s passage largely consists of examples of deviant Canaanite behavior the Israelites were to avoid. While the ceremonial and civil laws are no longer binding after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the principles of being in the world while being separated from worldliness remain. We need to think through how we have been compromised in our vocations through worldliness and, by God’s grace, be turned back to the paths of righteousness that the LORD teaches us in His Law. It is vital for us to remember that God has given us His Law not as a scorecard by which we would judge and condemn others but as a mirror to show us what we are truly like and to move us to more faithfully fulfill His call on our lives to be instruments of reconciliation. Prayer: Please lift up the First Congregational Church of Merrimack which is voting this evening on whether or not to join the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Wednesday (5/21) Read and discuss Proverbs 31:1-9. Andrew Steinmann writes:

These verses go beyond encouraging Lemuel to soothe the pain of the needy and oppressed to encouraging him to be an advocate for the defenseless, who will have no other defender unless the believer speaks up with conviction. Lemuel’s mother echoes Scripture’s expectations for all good kings when she states that she expects him to place a high value on justice and righteousness so that the rich and powerful may not take advantage of the poor and weak. … Those in high positions in government are often swayed by their friendships with the rich and influential people of society. The result is government favoritism and policies that, intentionally or not, deny justice for the powerless. This saying reminds those in high office of the potentially corrupting effect of friendship with the mighty.

In modern times, abortion of unwanted children has become commonplace, and even infanticide is increasingly tolerated, as also is euthanasia and the selective denial of life-preserving care (even the basic necessities of food and water) when a person is judged to be a burden or no longer useful to society. Infants still in the womb cannot physically speak for themselves; they are wholly dependent on God and their mothers to protect their lives. Many who are incapacitated or elderly likewise cannot protest inhumane treatment. Even those who have the physical ability to speak may be deprived of due rights to defend themselves in the judicial and legal systems.

These proverbs remind those in power, and indeed all believers, that God calls them to defend the defenseless. Wise leaders are friends of God, who watches over the poor and lowly.

Read or sing Hymn 558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God” Prayer: Please lift up those in our congregation who have recently moved or who are moving in the next few weeks.

Thursday (5/22) Read and discuss Romans 13:1-7. How should we think about and relate to the civil government? What if the civil government is overtly hostile to Christianity? Paul is writing Romans to the very seat of the Roman Empire. This was no abstract political philosophy but a very practical application of theology to living under the rule of a government that would ultimate put the Apostles Paul and Peter to death.  How should Christians relate to that sort of civil government? Paul tells the Christians in Rome that, “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment … for he is God’s servant for your good.” Protestant theologians have often pointed out that bad government is still better than anarchy. While that is true – it is not Paul’s primary point. Paul starts with the fact that God is the King who is governing the universe and the civil magistrate is His servant. The term servant can also be translated minister.  This is where the title Prime Minister comes from. The Prime Minister is the highest servant of a nation’s king. Paul is saying that every president, king, governor, or emperor is God’s minister and has his or her position because God has put him or her into that position. This reality has profound ramifications both for rulers and for the ruled. Since the civil magistrate is God’s servant he must strive to be a faithful servant to God. Earthly kings are not autonomous and they will have to answer for their conduct to the King of Kings. While it is right to separate Church and State it is impossible to separate God from government (whether personal, civil, or ecclesiastical). Everyone in authority will give account for how he or she uses that authority. This raises an obvious question for the ruled: Is Paul saying that we should always obey the civil magistrate no matter what the government does or tells us to do? This is a very complex issue, but the most biblically faithful answer is probably that we are only to disobey the civil magistrate when the government is commanding us to do something that God forbids (Exodus 1:17) or is forbidding us to do something that God commands (Acts 5:29). Furthermore, we are not only to obey those in authority – we are to honor them for their offices (Romans 13:7). A persistent temptation throughout the ages is to believe that we are an exception to this command. Beloved, we are not an exception. Read or Sing 559 “Father, I Know That All My Life”Read or sing Hymn 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!” Prayer: Please pray for those finishing their Spring semester of school that they might find good jobs for the Summer.

Friday (5/23)Read and discuss 1 Samuel 20:1-42. One of the remarkable aspects of this passage is to see how Jonathan, that great man of God, walked by faith. We can miss how astonishing this is because we all know what David would become. Yet, at the moment, David appears to be little more than an enemy of the king. Jonathan, on the other hand as crown prince, apparently has vast resources at his disposal. That’s how things look to those who judge by appearances, but Jonathan has his eyes fixed on the plans and promises of the Living God. Rick Phillips explains:

Having accepted God’s Word, Jonathan sought his own refuge through covenant promises. For this, having bound himself to faithfulness toward David, he now bound David in covenant faithfulness to him, knowing through faith in God’s Word that the royal destiny lay with David, despite his father’s threats on David’s life. “May the LORD be with you,” he said, “as he has been with my father. If I am still alive show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth” (1 Sam. 20:13015).

When there was a change of dynasty in the ancient world, the universal practice called for the complete slaughter of the prior ruler’s household. Jonathan thus appealed to David to spare his life and that of his children when God cleared the way for David’s kingship. Jonathan was acting out of his covenant responsibility to his children and their children. To provide for them after the fall of his father’s house, “Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul” (1 Sam. 20:17). “There has seldom, if ever, been exhibited a finer instance of triumphant faith, writes William Blaikie, “than when the prince, with all the resources of his kingdom at his beck, made request of the helpless outlaw.” In this way alone, by faith in God’s Word as it spoke to his situation, Jonathan secured a future for his descendants, as David later fulfilled his part of this covenant by bringing Jonathan’s lame son, Mephibosheth, into his own household.

Prayer: Ask the LORD of the Harvest to send people to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Saturday (5/24) Read and discuss Leviticus 20:1-27. Holiness is about God separating us from the world and devoting us exclusively to Himself. The life of holiness, is therefore a life that is lived in light of the truth that we belong to the LORD as His own treasured possession. Derek Tidball helps us see how this works out practically in our lives when he writes:

Holiness is about consecration. Holiness does not just happen. It is not a warm fuzzy feeling of saintliness. It develops from intentional decisions and affirmative actions. As it was for the Israelites, so it is for us. To be holy means to commit ourselves to following God and abstaining from actions that offend Him.

Holiness is about separation. Much of the behavior outlawed here played a significant part in the lives and the worship of Israel’s neighbors. These practices were forbidden both because they were wrong in themselves and because of their associations with pagan culture. Hence Israel was told, ‘You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you’ (23). Being holy still entails living a lifestyple that runs counter to the customs of the people around us where they live in ignorance or opposition to the revealed will of God (2 Cor 6:14-7:1). Our calling is not to be fashionable, acceptable or conventional but to be the best we can be for God. The reason for our separation, however, is not negative but positive. It is because we belong to God and enjoy a special relationship with him: ‘I have set you apart from the nations to be my own’ (26).

Holiness is about sanctification. God says, ‘I am the LORD, who makes you holy.’ The process of being made holy is one that God himself brings about in our lives. …

Holiness is about purification (25). Many struggle with the inclusion of a verse about clean and unclean animals at this juncture, as it seems like an interruption to the flow of the chapter and a deviation from the topic being addressed. But it serves as another reminder that holiness has a comprehensive reach into our lives. It is neither just about piety nor just about morality. God claims total allegiance in every department of our lives and calls us to live with purity.

Holiness is about imitation (26). Reduced to its essence, to be holy is to reflect the purity and character of God in one’s life, as we saw in considering 19:2.

Read or Sing Hymn 649 “More Love to Thee, O Christ” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

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