MVOPC 2 October 2016
Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
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: Romans 4:20-25
Hymn of Preparation: 486 “God, Be Merciful to Me”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 118:14-29
New Covenant Reading: John 3:16-21
Sermon: Responding to God’s Love
Hymn of Response: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!
OT: Genesis 27:30-28:9
NT: Galatians 6:1-10
Reaping What We Sow
Adult Sunday School: The Larger Catechism
Shorter Catechism Q/A #62
Q. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day.
Monday (9/26) Read and discuss John 3:16-21. Heinrich Bullinger writes:
Our Lord Jesus will come, in fact, in the clouds of heaven as a judge of the living and the dead, but not until the end of the world. But now he comes not as a judge and avenger but as a most compassionate defender. Therefore, even though your great sins accuse and condemn you, consider that this is the time of grace and mercy, hope well and be assured, you will be received in grace. For if you have been converted and placed all your trust in Christ the Son of God, who suffered for you and made satisfaction for your sins, reconciling you to God, you will be saved.
Read or sing Hymn 12 “Exalt the LORD, His Praise Proclaim” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus has become your compassionate defender.
Tuesday (9/27) Read and discuss John 2:23-3:15. What sort of man was Nicodemus? Some commentators have assumed that we can detect something a bit cowardly in Nicodemus from the fact that he comes to Jesus at night – almost as though he were coming to Jesus under the cloak of darkness. I think that this is both wrong and detrimental to the point that John is making. There is simply nothing wrong with wanting to meet with Jesus at night. After all, Nicodemus probably has a day-job and a meeting in the evening would have provided the opportunity for a longer and more leisurely conversation. In fact, some of the comments Jesus directs towards Nicodemus are in the second person plural – making it at least possible that Nicodemus brought other people with him to Jesus – something he would hardly have done if he was trying to keep his visit secret. Later on, we will see Nicodemus stand up for the right thing in the Sanhedrin even when it is unpopular to do so. And pay attention to the way Nicodemus addresses Jesus and what this says about Nicodemus’ character. Nicodemus is probably 20 years older than Jesus, and he is such a renowned teacher that Jesus refers to Nicodemus as “the” teacher”, not simply “a teacher”, but “the teacher” in Israel. This renowned teacher is coming out to meet with a Galilean carpenter with no advanced formal education and yet Nicodemus treats Jesus not as a student but with a respect that reveals Nicodemus’ own humility. While the portrait is incomplete, what we know about Nicodemus suggests that he is the epitome of Jewish piety – and that is why this particular conversation is so important. If even Nicodemus needs new life from above in order to enter the Kingdom of God – then so does everyone else! Read or sing Hymn 486 “God, Be Merciful to Me” Prayer: Pray for a friend or a loved one who does not yet know the LORD that God would graciously give him or her new life from above.
Wednesday (9/28) Read and discuss Psalm 118:14-29. Commenting on “the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”, John Calvin writes:
David proceeds to repeat that it is erroneous to estimate the kingdom of Christ by the sentiments and opinions of men, because, in spite of the opposition of the world, it is erected in an astonishing manner by the invisible power of God. In the meantime, we ought to remember, that all that was accomplished in the person of Christ extends to the gradual development of his kingdom, even until the end of the world. When Christ dwelt on the earth, he was despised by the chief priests; and now, those who call themselves the successors of Peter and Paul, but who are truly Ananiases and Caiaphases, giant-like wage war against the Gospel and the Holy Ghost. Not that this furious rebellion ought to give us any uneasiness: let us rather humbly adore that wonderful power of God which reverses the perverse decisions of the world. If our limited understandings could comprehend the course which God follows for the protection and preservation of his Church, there would be no mention made of a miracle. From this we conclude, that his mode of working is incomprehensible, baffling the understandings of men.
Prayer: Give thanks that Christ is building His Church, and the gates of hell cannot stand against it.
Thursday (9/29) Read and discuss Galatians 6:1-10. The Christian Church is not an all-star team of individual heroes. It is the family of God, redeemed by Christ, where every member contributes to the building up of each other and the whole congregation. This means that one of the most important character traits of a genuinely productive Christian is humility. Paul hits on this point in verse three. Leon Morris explains:
It is easy to deceive ourselves about our own importance. We can think that we are something, when in fact it is basic to the Christian understanding that we can do nothing at all for our salvation. All we have and all we are we owe to God. Christ came to this earth and lived and died so that there would be a way of salvation. For salvation we can do nothing at all. We are called on simply to believe, to trust Christ alone. And when it comes to living out the Christian life we are wholly dependent on the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We may (or, of course, may not) amount to something in the earthly circles in which we live and move and have our being. But where it counts, in the issues of eternal salvation, we are nothing. To hold otherwise is to deceive ourselves.
Two qualifications are in order: (1) First, while it is entirely correct to point out, in Luther’s words, that the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary, that is not the entire story. Because we have been created in the image of God and redeemed by Christ to be God’s very own daughters and sons – we are of inestimable value. The point Morris is trying to drive home is that this value is entirely through God’s grace. (2) Second, it is wise to remember the words of C.S. Lewis when he says that humility is not thinking poorly of ourselves, humility is not thinking of ourselves at all. Biblical humility is evidenced by our willingness to think about other people and to act for their benefit. Read or sing Hymn 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name” Prayer: Please lift up the Supreme Court of our nation.
Friday (9/30) Read and discuss Genesis 27:30-28:9. Iain Duguid writes:
This is a classic case of the sins of the parents being visited one hundred times upon the children. Abraham first set the pattern of deceit in small ways, pretending that Sarah was his sister, not his wife (Gen 12:13; 20:2). Not only was that pattern of behavior directly imitated by Isaac and Rebekah (Gen 26:7), but also deceit apparently had become a commonplace of life for them. Jacob was brought up in a world of scheming and conniving parents, with Isaac looking out for Esau and Rebekah looking out for him. So it is little wonder that he grew up understanding how to lie and cheat and deceive. He learned those childhood lessons well. Unlearning them would prove to be far more difficult. It would take long years in the wilderness before Jacob was ready for his place in God’s program, and even then the scars of his past would never disappear.
That fact makes me wonder, therefore, what sins we are passing on to our children day by day. We are typically so blind to our shortcomings as parents, until they are reproduced in magnified form in the lives of our children. What are our cherished sins and wrong ways of relating that we will transmit to our offspring? Will they learn from us merely how to abound in sin while successfully concealing it from the sight of others, or will they learn from our constant example how to repent of sin and turn from it? Are you setting an example for your children of godliness and holiness and of rapid and heartfelt repentance when your sin becomes plain, or are you merely modeling for them how to live as an effective sinner? Are there those around you who can freely confront you over areas of your life where you are going astray, or are you defensive and slow to receive criticism?
Prayer: Please lift up our visit with Missionary Ben Hopp.
Saturday (10/1) Read and discuss John 3:16-21. William C. Weinrich writes:
“Whoever does the truth comes to the Light” (Jn 3:21). The text does not say that the one who first does the truth is the one who then comes to the Light, as though doing the truth precedes coming to the Light. “To do the truth” is to conform one’s life to the truth. In the Gospel of John Jesus is “the Truth” (Jn 14:6). Thus, “to do the truth” is to assume Christ to oneself as the reality of one’s life, in whom one lives and according to whom one lives. Precisely this assuming to one’s self occurs in the event of the begetting from above (Jn 3:3, 7) through water and the Spirit (Jn 3:5). The new life, united with the Crucified by faith and given by the divine Spirit, is a life enlightened by him who is the Light, so it manifests itself by the works effected by God.
Read or sing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”! Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.