MVOPC 9 March 2014
Call to Worship: Psalm 66:1-4
Opening Hymn: 44 “How Great Thou Art”
Confession of Sin
O great and everlasting God, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Who searches and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart; We confess that we have not loved You with all our heart, nor with all our soul, nor with all our mind, nor with all our strength; Nor our neighbors as ourselves. We have loved what we ought not to have loved; We have coveted what is not ours; We have not been content with Your provisions for us. We have complained in our hearts about our family, about our friends, about our health, about our occupations, about Your church, and about our trials. We have sought our security in those things which perish, rather than in You, the Everlasting God. Chasten, cleanse, and forgive us, through Jesus Christ, who is able for all time to save us who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 103:8-10
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 84:1-12
New Covenant Reading: Mark 2:13-17
Hymn of Preparation: 457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Sermon Text: Leviticus 14:33-57
Sermon: There is No Place Like (a clean) Home
Hymn of Response: 460 “Amazing Grace”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 172 “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder”
PM Worship: 1 Samuel 14:47-15:23 – Better than Sacrifice
Adult Sunday School: Creation: Part II
CATECHISM Q/A FOR THE WEEK: Shorter Catechism #37
Q. 37. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.
Monday (3/3) Read and discuss Leviticus 14:33-57. Philip Eveson writes:
Just as ‘leprosy’ in humans is a pointer to the sad effects of sin in spoiling our lives and separating us from God and others, so ‘leprosy’ in houses is a reminder of the way human sin has led to a disfigured and distorted creation. The creation ‘was subjected to futility’ and under ‘the bondage of corruption’ (Rom. 8:20-22). Not only do we humans need rescuing, the very creation needs releasing from the effects of sin and God’s judgment.
Just as the purification ritual for the cleansing of a house and its ‘atonement’ is similar to the ritual for healed humans to be brought back into the holy community, so the atoning death of Christ is effective not only for believing sinners to be members of God’s heavenly city, but for the very creation itself to be reconstituted so that God may be as much at home on the earth as in heaven. By his cross, Jesus has reconciled all things to himself. Our Lord died to bring about a new heaven and earth. As we are delivered from the bondage of corruption. Believers groan, eagerly awaiting the redemption of the body, and the creation also groans, looking with keen expectation for the new creation.
Read or sing Hymn: 44 “How Great Thou Art” Prayer: Please pray for the people of the Ukraine as Russian troops occupy the eastern part of their country.
Tuesday (3/4) Read and discuss Leviticus 14:1-32. It is a painful thing to be left on the outside looking in on the group that you want to be a part of. Exclusion from the group is particularly meaningful when that group is the family of God. Up until the coming of Christ this was the position of all Gentiles by birth. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 2:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands – remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
You were alienated and hopeless, but in Christ Jesus you have been called, cleansed, and commissioned to serve the Living God. That’s what today’s passage is all about. We begin with the leper who has been excluded from the camp of Israel and cut off from access to the Tabernacle where the LORD had set His special presence. There was nothing that he or she could do to restore this broken relation with God unless the LORD acted. Significantly, the priest had to come to the cleansed leper outside the camp just as Christ left the true sanctuary in heaven to live with sinners in order to redeem us and to call us into His Kingdom. The ceremony with the two birds reminds us that our life (symbolized by the bird which is dipped in the blood of the other and set free) is dependent upon the death of another. Interestingly, this cleansing right is followed by a seven day ceremony that is analogous to the ordaining of priests. We are not cleansed merely to keep us from going to hell. We are commissioned to represent Christ in this world and to work for the praise of His glory and the discipling of the nations. Prayer: Give thanks that you have been cleansed by the grace of God in Christ and ask that the LORD would make you more diligent as a disciple.
Wednesday (3/5) Read and discuss Psalm 84:1-12. Psalm 84 can be outlined in four movements:
- Verses 1-4: Longing for the Courts of the LORD
- Verses 5-7: The Blessings of Pilgrims Who are Away from these Courts
- Verse 8: Prayer for God’s Blessing on the King
- Verses 9-12: Longing for the Courts of the LORD
As the conclusion of the Psalm makes clear, the psalmist’s longing for the Courts of the LORD is actually a longing for the LORD Himself. “He longs for God, because God alone can give His people favor and honor (Willem Van Gemeren).” The psalm gives voice to our desire for enjoying the LORD’s presence, shelter, beauty, and grace. It expresses our spiritual longing using moving physical metaphors. As we read in verse 2: “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” C.S. Lewis nicely reflects this desire when he writes:
I have rather – though the expression may seem harsh to some – called this the ‘appetite for God’ than ‘the love of God.’ The ‘love of God’ too easily suggests the word ‘spiritual’ in all those negative or restrictive senses which it has unhappily acquired. … [The appetite for God] has all the cheerful spontaneity of a natural, even a physical desire.
We can be grateful that the psalmist included verses 5-7 lest we would simply bemoan the fact that we are not currently home in the LORD’s Courts. There is strength for us on the pilgrimage. While not yet dwelling with unceasing joy in God’s presence we do enjoy His refreshing grace on our journey so long as we remember that it is a pilgrimage. Being on a pilgrimage is not simply a matter of being away from God’s Courts – it is about heading towards God’s Courts while on His mission. We are on a pilgrimage in the spirit of Hebrews 11:14-16:
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Read or sing Hymn 457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Prayer: Give thanks for the LORD’s presence in your daily life.
Thursday (3/6) Read and discuss Mark 2:13-17. It is helpful to read this passage in light of the broader ministry of Jesus as the Messiah. The passage begins with Jesus’ teaching and preaching. We know that His teaching centered on the coming of the Kingdom of God and what that meant. Recently, He had preached the Sermon on the Mount. One of the obvious questions to ask is: “Who had the Messiah come to call into His kingdom?” The startling answer that Jesus gives in this passage is that He came to call horrible sinners like Levi. Keep in mind that Levi really was a scoundrel. Jesus didn’t come announcing that Levi was acceptable just as he was. Jesus came and called Levi to repent and follow Him. What was the response? The Gospel according to Luke tells us that Levi left everything and followed Jesus (Luke 5:28). It is worth noting that Levi was also called Matthew. He became one of Jesus’ Apostles. By very good tradition, he also became the author of the Gospel According to Matthew and a missionary to India. This passage challenges us in at least two ways: (1) First, it challenges us in terms of our ministry to others. When we look at sinners in the world, those whom we would not like to spend time with, we need to remember that Jesus called precisely such people to repent and become His followers. So should we. (2) Second, like the Pharisees, we need to acknowledge that we too are in need of the Great Physician. The good news is that Jesus came to save sinners like us. What a Friend we have in Jesus! Read or sing Hymn 460 “Amazing Grace” Prayer: Please pray that the LORD would lead visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by becoming part of our church family.
Friday (3/7) Read and discuss 1 Samuel 14:47-15:23. Richard Phillips writes:
Saul’s defense of his actions reminds us that obedience to God requires unpopular actions. When Samuel pointed out the bleating of sheep and the lowing of oxen, Saul replied, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” Notice how Saul speaks “of the people” and “they” when it comes to disobedience, but when it comes to obedience, the terminology suddenly becomes inclusive: “we”! In this way, Saul argues that he had devoted most of the Amalekite possessions, except those that the people thought should be kept for themselves, which happened to be “the best of the sheep and of the oxen. “ In a suspicious explanation, Soul piously adds that they were spared so as to be offered as a sacrifice to the LORD.
Saul’s behavior reminds us that spiritual leaders who would seek God’s blessing must be willing to obey the Bible’s commands even when they are unpopular. Paul exhorted Timothy that along with false teachers and imposters, the church will be plagued with people who “will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Timothy should nonetheless “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed” and faithfully “preach the word.” An example to avoid was given by Aaron, Moses’ brother and Israel’s first high priest, when he presided over the making and worship of the golden calf. When Moses returned from the mountaintop, livid, Aaron provided an immortal and perennial explanation for leadership failure: “You know the people, that they are sent on evil” (Ex. 32:22).
Saul was cut from the same cloth as Aaron and many other failed leaders who did not obey the LORD because they feared the scorn of the people. Saul would have honored God in obedience only if he had forbidden the people to take the Amalekites’ sheep and oxen and insisted that all things be done in accordance with God’s actual commands. The same is true of pastors, parents, and individual Christians today, who honor God truly when they insist that all things be done in accordance with God’s clear commands in the Bible.
Prayer: Ask that the LORD would work the obedience of faith more deeply into the warp and woof of your life.
Saturday (3/8) Read and discuss Leviticus 14:33-57. John D. Currid writes:
Again, we are reminded that holiness means wholeness. Thus, if a house is disfigured because it has fungus, then it is considered unclean and impure. The Hebrews are reminded of holiness even in their houses, and they are set apart by the buildings in which they live.
Derrett suggests that Jesus’ cleansing of the temple may be analogically based on Leviticus 14 and the cleansing of an unclean house. Jesus calls the temple the ‘house of God’ in each of the cleansing passages in the Gospels. He prophesies that the house will be torn down. He empties the temple of impurity and uncleanness by driving out the money changers. And, finally, it is clear that the house cannot be salvaged and thus, ti will be taken down stone by stone.
Read or Sing Hymn 172 “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.