MVOPC 22 January 2017
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 12 “Exalt the LORD, His Praise Proclaim”
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 10:10-13
Hymn of Preparation: 345 “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”
Old Covenant Reading: Leviticus 19:9-18
New Covenant Reading: John 7:1-24
Sermon: Who Knows?
Hymn of Response: 355 “We Are God’s People”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured”
OT: Genesis 34:1-31
NT: Revelation 18:1-24
Violation and Violence
Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism
Shorter Catechism Q/A #78
Q. 78.What is forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbor’s good name.
Monday (1/16) Read and discuss John 7:1-24. Edward Klink writes:
The stark contrast between the natural affinity between brothers in the ancient world and the rejection – not just the lack of reception – displayed between Jesus and his brothers allows the reader to see the depth of the conflict between the darkness and the light (1:5). What makes this conflict most shocking is that it is the last place one would have expected to find it. One may fight against the whole world, but one’s family would be the last to be reckoned the enemy. Yet in the family of Jesus the war was inevitable. The reason was made clear in v. 7: Jesus’s brothers were not really his brother; they belonged to the family of the world. They shared the same biological mother, but they were not children of the same Father.
The Christian finds no greater kinship than in the family of God. It is one’s Father, the heavenly Father, who alone gives ultimate definition to “family.” There is only one blood relation that ultimately matters – the blood of Christ. This is not to disparage biological families but simply to take heed of their fallibility and shaky foundation. This pericope exhorts us to align ourselves to our brother, Jesus Christ. When we are separated from Him, it is not Christ who separated from us, it is we who have separated from Him. Ironically, when the world or even our biological families begin to hate us on account of Christ, it is then that we know that we are home, residents of the family of God.
Read or sing 12 “Exalt the LORD, His Praise Proclaim” Prayer: As our nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day, pray that in the Church we would live out the reality that all in Christ are brothers and sisters without regard to race, gender, nationality, or socio-economic status.
Tuesday (1/17) Read and discuss John 6:60-71. Jesus makes clear, that in the visible Church, even amongst those who may appear to be His closest disciples – there are those who will deny and betray Him. There are two great blessings that flow from this truth. First, and most obviously, it was necessary for Jesus to be betrayed so that He could die for the sins of His people. This betrayal was the most wicked act that had ever been perpetrated – an act so wicked that Jesus here calls Judas a devil and elsewhere says that it would have been better for Judas if he had never been born. And yet, this most wicked act of a man was part of the perfect and glorious plan of God to bring about the salvation of all His people. This is why at Pentecost, Peter would declare:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
It is rightly said that only God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. At the end of this great Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus is making clear that the wicked betrayal of one of the inner circle of disciples was not a surprising tragedy – but part of the perfect plan of God. Second, we are sometimes rattled when prominent Christians – in particular well known pastors and teachers – renounce the faith they formerly taught. Jesus is preparing us for those moments. If even one of the twelve could betray Jesus, we should be saddened but not shaken by the betrayal of modern apostates. Read or sing Hymn 345 “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” Prayer: Ask the LORD to cause all the members of our church family to persevere in faith until the end.
Wednesday (1/18) Read and discuss Leviticus 19:9-18. Derek Tidball writes:
Sociologists are increasingly speaking of the need for ‘social capital’ if a society is to function smoothly. Any society needs more than financial capital and physical infrastructure in order to be prosperous; it also needs quality social relationships and secure networks that share a common set of values. A society that has made a good investment in social capital will not be one in which people are distrustful and suspicious of one another or one that has to devote endless resources to dealing with crime. It will be comfortable to live in, and its members will enjoy sharing common resources. It will function much more efficiently than those in which society’s social capital is low. The fear of many today is that the social capital of all cultures of advanced individualism is disappearing fast. From one viewpoint, Leviticus 19 is about how every member of a community can invest in its social capital.
Yet, we must be careful not to advance down this particular road too fast. For though the laws of Leviticus 19 will lead to the creation of a wholesome community and the banking of wonderful reserves of social capital this is not the chapter’s raison d’etre. The rules are designed first and foremost not as a matter of social convenience but as a matter of divine holiness. They arise from God’s invitation to be holy because I the LORD your God, am holy.
It may be helpful to recognize that the issues of holiness and social capital naturally belong together. Since holiness means being set apart as belonging to (or dedicated to) God; and living a life of holiness means living in light of belonging to God and therefore reflecting God’s character into the world; we shouldn’t be surprised that when the members of a community reflect God’s character into the world this leads to society functioning better. In fact, if everyone reflected God’s character perfectly we would be in a Garden civilization like that of the New Heaven and Earth. We, of course, are incapable of doing that ourselves – but one day Christ Himself will bring that to pass. Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has set apart the children of one or more believing parents as holy and pray that the LORD would sovereignly call all the children in our church to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
Thursday (1/19) Read and discuss Revelation 18:1-24. N.T. Wright observes:
John does not say that the gold, silver, precious stones and the rest were bad things which nobody should have celebrated place in the New Jerusalem of chapter 21. Rome was able to bring all these fine commodities, listed in verses 12-14, from the ends of the earth. Among the things John mentions are goods that would have come from India, China, and Africa, as well as Arabia, Armenia and beyond. This was truly a world-wide-trade.
But the giveaway point comes at the end of verse 13. John has built up a marvelous catalogue of luxury goods as well as the basics of trade – flour, wheat, cattle and so on. But then, right at the end, we find the horror. Among the goods are bodies – yes, human lives. When you worship idols, the idols demand sacrifices. When you worship Mammon the money god (or Mars the war-god; or Aphrodite the sex-goddess), they will demand sacrifices all right. And some of those sacrifices will be human. Here, in the middle of this lament over Babylon, we find one of the many places in the New Testament where a small but significant note of implacable protest is raised against the entire system upon which the ancient world was built. Slavery – the buying, selling, using and abusing of human beings as though they were on par with gold and silver, ivory and marble (except that you could ill-treat them in a way you would never do with your luxury jewels and furnishings!) – was the dark thread that ran through everything else. Slavery was to the ancient world, more or less, what steam, oil, gas, electricity and nuclear power are to the modern world. Slavery was how things got done. Life was almost literally unthinkable without it.
Read or sing Hymn 355 “We Are God’s People” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Pilgrim Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Dover, NH.
Friday (1/20) Read and discuss Genesis 34:1-31. This shocking chapter has led to several diverse interpretations. At the least we should see that Israel was at risk both in terms of cultural accommodation and also in terms of scandalous acts of violence being perpetrated against them by the Canaanites. Bruce Waltke writes:
The narrator censures the rape by his terminology: “violated” (34:2), “defiled” (34:5), “grief” and “disgraceful in Israel” (34:7). For that reason, he gives the sons as his agents the last word to express his own point of view: “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” Neither Shechem nor Hamor find anything offensive about the rape. Now that Shechem truly loves her, they overlook the offense and only want to negotiate a financial settlement for the marriage. Jacob here is sadly comparable to the Canaanites. He shows no moral indignation and wants only to settle the matter prudently. With the sons, however, the narrator affirms that it is a moral outrage in Israel that should be punished.
Prayer: Please pray for the officer training as the men meet tomorrow morning.
Saturday (1/21) Read and discuss John 7:1-24. Chuck Swindoll writes:
The Feast of Tabernacles is a weeklong celebration. On the third or fourth day of the celebration, Jesus stood in the temple to teach – not unusual for a rabbi. The teacher’s credibility, however, depended heavily on his educational pedigree. Who trained him? With which school is he associated? Gamaliel? Shamai? John the Baptizer? The religious authorities (not the common Jews) felt astonished, not because He could read and write; most Jewish men could. Nor did they object to His having the hubris to teach without a degree. But they could not understand how He could amass such knowledge without seminary training, as it were.
Jesus responded with a stinging rebuke, based on elementary logic. Those who are intimately knowledgeable with the ultimate source of truth (God) will have no trouble spotting other truth tellers. Moreover, people who care about the truth do not care about credentials so long as the truth is taught. He then offered another standard by which to judge the qualifications of a teacher: his obedience to previously revealed truth, the law.
This is an ironic turn. The religious officials were angry with Jesus and had rebuked Him for breaking with tradition, manmade rules they had substituted for the law of Moses. With this statement, Jesus turned the tables. He accused them of seeking to kill Him despite their own violation of the law.
Read or sing Hymn:
Closing Hymn: 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.