Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 2 October 2016 Sunday, Sep 25 2016 

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”!

PM Worship

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.

Suggested Preparations

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.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 25 September 2016 Sunday, Sep 18 2016 

MVOPC 25 September 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

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: Psalm 78:38-39

Hymn of Preparation:  463 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”

Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 36:22-28

New Covenant Reading: John 2:23-3:15

Sermon: You Must Be Born From Above

Hymn of Response: 460 “Amazing Grace!”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 689 “Be Still My Soul”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 27:1-29

NT: Luke 21:29-38

Stealing What God Freely Gives

Adult Sunday School: The Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #61

Q. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (9/19) Read and discuss John 2:23-3:15. It can be difficult for particularly gifted or well-educated people to function well when they don’t understand what is going on. Jesus’ is explaining to Nicodemus that just as he feels the wind without understanding it, so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus shouldn’t expect that the Holy Spirit would be limited to what human minds can fully comprehend. But Nicodemus is resistant, and in verse 9 he responds: “How can these things be?” Martin Luther comments:

It’s as if the LORD is saying, “Know that there is much I would tell you which you will not and cannot understand. You especially will not understand how people born again of water and the Holy Spirit come into the eternal life. That you should just believe. You do not need to know where the wind comes from; you are happy that you can feel and hear its passage. … But you, Nicodemus, if you cannot know where the wind goes, why do you not say here, “I will gladly humble myself and learn because I cannot know how it is that the wind moves.’ And here you should do the same,’ Even though I cannot understand with my reason what it is to be born again, yet I will believe it as the truth that we must be born again of the water and the Holy Spirit.’” …

There are many things which we can sense with our five senses and yet not understand. Should I not give God honor and say, “O God, should I not believe in you? I do not know how I was made, but I will believe that you can do more than I see or understand.”

Read or sing Hymn 5 “God My King Thy Might Confessing” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Haiti that the LORD would send them revival and reformation.

Tuesday (9/20) Read and discuss John 2:13-22. I wonder what Peter, John, and the other disciples were thinking as they watched Jesus making a whip? Jesus had been a builder and He was in the prime of His physical life. Watching His muscles flex as Christ tied together this whip of chords … His disciples must have realized that Jesus wasn’t simply enjoying a sight-seeing visit to the Temple – but they scarcely could have imagined what He was about to do:

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

Let’s not rush over this two quickly. If you went to the Olympics, or some other huge public event, and tried to do something like this you would quickly end up in jail. Furthermore, oxen are big animals. You start whipping oxen to drive them out of the Temple while it was packed with people and you are going to cause an enormous commotion. Many people would have been running away even as others drew near to see what this apparent “mad-man” was doing. Well what exactly was He doing? The first thing to recognize was that Jesus is fulfilling Old Testament prophesies. You will recall that Malachi had prophesied about the forerunner of the Messiah – that is John the Baptist. In Malachi chapter 3 verse 1 we read:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.”

That speaks, of course, about John the Baptist. Do you remember what comes next? Malachi continues:

And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Will the LORD suddenly coming to His Temple be good news? That is what many Jews thought. They couldn’t wait for the Messiah to come to deliver them from the Romans. But what did Malachi prophesy. He continues:

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

When the LORD comes to His Temple, Malachi warns, He isn’t coming simply to pat everyone on the back. He is coming to judge and to purify. The Messiah’s chief concern will not be with Israel’s comfort but with God’s glory. Read or sing Hymn 463 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” Prayer: Please lift up the Outreach Committee of our congregation as they meet this evening.

Wednesday (9/21) Read and discuss Ezekiel 36:22-32. This passage is written while the LORD’s people are in exile and this reality creates a problem. Other nations, who wouldn’t have understood that God was judging His people for their rebellion against Him, could easily have imagined that the God of Israel was not very powerful. Why should they turn to worship the LORD when He couldn’t even protect His own people from exile at the hands of those who served other gods? One “solution” would be for the LORD to restore His people and thereby reveal His own power – but how could He do this without compromising His own holiness? Old Testament scholar Doug Stuart helps us grasp God’s solution to this dilemma when he writes:

The clear promise of a general return from exile is proclaimed in verse 24. But how can a holy God reward a notoriously unholy people in this way? Will the Lord simply bring them back to Canaan to sin again as they had always done? The answer contains a condition for the restoration of Israel that demonstrates that such a restoration is intended not for ethnic Israel that but for a new people” they will be made pure by God’s miraculous action (v. 25). Sprinkled with holy water symbolizing their acceptance by God for worship, they will also be given a new mind (“heart”) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (vv. 26-27). This is, of course, the language of conversion. Change of mind is exactly what the New Testament term for repentance means; the new mind is the converted mind that will love and follow Christ and keep God’s commands faithfully, as also predicted for the new covenant age by the prophet Jeremiah (31:33-34). The fact of the Spirit of God indwelling all who are converted is a dramatically different picture of people’s relationship to the Spirit than that of the old covenant, in which the Spirit wasoccasionally given to some people, often temporarily (cf. 1 Sam 16:14).

In the new covenant age, people and God will once again be united. Having turned to God and received the righteousness He alone offers, the new Israel will enjoy bounty and respect. They will also have a conscience about the past, hating the sin, including idolatry, that characterized the previous era (v. 31). The Lord will bring this about. Israel won’t be able to do it. They can only receive, not produce righteousness. Furthermore, God will accomplish this purification and renewal of His people for His own sake, not theirs. They don’t deserve it in the slightest. A nation that has done almost nothing during its history to honor God hardly deserves honor in return. But a God who has determined that His glory and saving power should be known in the whole world is willing to redeem a people not otherwise worthy of redemption. For in so doing, He invites sinners everywhere to repent and turn to Him for rescue from their sin. In other words, Ezekiel’s prophecy is making the point that God’s control of Israel’s history is not focused so much on Israel as it is on the world as a whole. Israel is an example to others – all others – of the power and mercy of God. Israel deserves only to be ashamed of itself; God deserves to be honored everywhere, within and without ethnic Israel.

Prayer: Ask that the LORD’s name would be hallowed in your home, at your school, or at your workplace.

Thursday (9/22) Read and discuss Luke 21:29-38. Darrell Bock writes:

Luke wants his readers to see that the end is certain and that the church will be under intense pressure until it comes. Disciples need to be prepared. But Jesus’ authority, which is reflected in his return, also means an obligation to live in a way that is honoring to God. Only those dependent upon god and relying on the strength he provides will endure the pressure of this interim period. Jesus prepares disciples for his departure, reminding them that his return is more certain than the continuation of creation. Jesus assures his disciples that, despite his absence, he is in control, is watching, and will be returning to gather his own. He will show his authority to the world. Disciples are to live faithfully, watch, and pray until he returns.

Read or sing Hymn 460 “Amazing Grace!” Prayer: Please lift up the Supreme Court of our nation.

Friday (9/23) Read and discuss Genesis 27:1-29.  Sometimes Christians are puzzled by the fact that Rebekah and Jacob’s deceit still ends up with Jacob receiving the blessing of the LORD. Tremper Longman writes:

Don’t the ends justify the means? Of course not.

In the first place, to manipulate in this way shows an utter lack of confidence in Go. As he made clear with the birth of Isaac, God will fulfill his promises and he will achieve his ends no matter how unlikely it looks from a human perspective. In the second place, though Jacob rightly receives the blessing, the deceptive way in which he was chosen and blessed by his father led to undesirable consequences.

Those negative consequences will play themselves out in the remainder of the book of Genesis. Indeed, they will play out through the history of the Old Testament and, arguably, into the New Testament.

The most immediate consequence is Esau’s threat to the life of Jacob, causing Rebekah to convince Isaac to send Jacob away, and we will see that his sojourn in Paddan Aram (northwest Mesopotamia) will be a difficult period in his life. More long term, even though Jacob and Esau appear to reconcile later, the latter’s descendants, the Edomites, will become long term adversaries of Jacob’s descendants, the Israelites. AS we noted in the “Explain the Story” section the rivalry begins at the time the Edomites refuse the wilderness generation to cross through their land to get to the promised land down to the exilic and postexilic periods.

It may not be too much of a stretch to see this rivalry continuing into the time period of the New Testament. After all, Herod the Great and his family were Idumeans, the descendants of the Edomites.

Prayer: Please lift up Amoskeag Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH.

Saturday (9/24) Read and discuss John 2:23-3:15. R.C. Sproul writes:

No one is born a Christian. The flesh does not produce redemption. This was a common error the Jewish people made. They thought that because they were Jews, being descend from the Old Testament patriarch Abraham, that they were numbered among the people of God and would enter heaven. The Old Testament prophets and then the New Testament teachers had to show the people that this was not the case. Likewise, you may have been born to Christian parents, raised in a Christian home, and gone to a Christian school or a Christian college, but none of those things make you a Christian. All that your natural birth has given you is flesh, and flesh of that sort is powerless to enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Unless you are born of the Spirit of the living God, whatever you do in your flesh will avail nothing toward entering the kingdom of God.

Read or sing Hymn: 689 “Be Still My Soul” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 18 September 2016 Sunday, Sep 11 2016 

MVOPC 18 September 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 30 “Our God Our Help in Ages Past”

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: John 14:1-3

Hymn of Preparation:  599 “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us”

Old Covenant Reading: 2 Chronicles 7:1-11

New Covenant Reading: John 2:13-25

Sermon: My Father’s House

Hymn of Response: 670 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 646 “Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”

PM Worship – Dan Borvan Preaching

OT: Jonah 2:1-9

NT: Ephesians 1:11-14

Salvation Belongs to the Lord

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School

Shorter Catechism Q/A #60

Q. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (9/12) Read and discuss John 2:13-25. Unless we first understand that Jesus is King, His actions in the Temple are utterly shocking. John Calvin writes:

But it may be asked: “Why did he not rather begin with doctrine?” For it seems to be a disorderly and improper method to apply the hand for correcting faults before the remedy of doctrine has been applied. But Christ had a different object in view: for the time being now at hand when he would publicly discharge the office assigned to him by the Father, he wished in some way to take possession of the temple and to give a proof of his divine authority. And that all might be attentive to his doctrine, it was necessary that something new and strange should be done to awaken their sluggish and drowsy minds. Now, the temple was a sanctuary of heavenly doctrine and of true religion. Because he wished to restore purity of doctrine, it was of great importance that he should prove himself to be the Lord of the temple. Besides, there was no other way in which he could bring back sacrifices and the other exercises of religion to their spiritual design than by removing the abuse of them. What he did at that time was therefore, a sort of preface to that reformation which the Father had sent him to accomplish. In a word, it was proper that the Jews should be aroused by this example to expect from Christ something that was unusual and out of the ordinary course; and it was also necessary to remind them that the worship of God had been corrupted and perverted, that they might not object to the reformation of those abuses.

Regretfully, most of the people in Jerusalem rejected the message of Christ’s enacted parable as a call to repentance and this points toward what Christ was symbolizing. This passage is frequently described as “Christ cleansing the Temple.” This designation fits well with the words of Calvin above. Nevertheless, we should also see Christ’s enacted parable as a symbolic judgment on the Temple with the more jarring message: “Unless you are turned to God this Temple will be utterly destroyed.” Read or sing Hymn 30 “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Ask that our local congregation, and all the churches in our area, would be grasped by Christ’s commitment that God would be rightly and zealously worshipped.

Tuesday (9/13) Read and discuss Philippians 4:10-20. Sometimes we view relationships in a reciprocal manner. We are nice to people who are nice to us and kind to those who can directly benefit our lives. Yet, as Christians who support the spread of the gospel we are not looking to find missionaries who can somehow pay us back or whose fame and prestige will somehow rub off on us if we are numbered among his supporters. Our goal is to spread the gospel and not to receive anything back. Nevertheless, as verses 18-20 make clear, the LORD does reward those who open their hands and hearts to support the spread of the gospel. Gordon Fee writes:

The mention of God at the end of verse 18 leads directly to Paul’s great master stroke – verse 19. The reciprocity of friendship is now back in Paul’s court. But he is in prison and cannot reciprocate directly. So he does an even better thing: Since their gift had the effect of being a sweet-smelling sacrifice, pleasing to God, Paul assures them that God, whom he deliberately designates as my God, will assume responsibility for reciprocity. Thus picking up the language of “my need” from verse 16 and “fill to the full” from verse 18, he promises them that “my God will fill up every need of yours.”

From his point of view, they obviously have the better of it! First, he promises that god’s reciprocation will cover “every need of yours,” especially their material needs, as the context demands – but also every other kind of need, as the language demands. One cannot imagine a more fitting way for this letter to conclude, in terms of Paul’s final word to them personally, In the midst of their “poverty,” God will richly supply their material needs. In their present suffering in the face of opposition, God will richly supply what is needed (steadfastness, joy, encouragement). In their need to advance in faith with one mindset, God will richly supply the grace and humility necessary for it. In the place of both “grumbling” (2:14) and “anxiety” (4:6) God will be present with them as the “God of peace.” My God, Paul says, will act for me on your behalf by “filling to the full” all your needs.

Read or sing Hymn 599 “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Give thanks that you belong to the Good King who has committed Himself to making you productive for the sake of His Kingdom and to giving you abundant provision that you might do so with great joy.

Wednesday (9/14) Read and discuss 2 Chronicles 7:1-11. Eugene Merrill writes:

The Chronicler relates a number of stages to this commemoration. First of all, when the priests withdrew from depositing the ark in the most holy place, the LORD “moved in,” indicating his residence there by the cloud of his glory (2 Chron. 5:14). Solomon acknowledged this by exclaiming, “I have built an exalted temple for You, a place for Your residence forever” (6:2). He then enlarged on this understanding by quoting the words of the LORD to the assembly that the choice to live among mankind was not of human invention but at God’s own initiative: “I have chosen Jerusalem so that My name will be there,” He said, “and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel” (v. 6). In one brief statement the rich theological ideas of sacred space and sacred persons are brought together, the temple standing as a microcosm of all creation over which the LORD rules through the representative of all mankind created as His image. …

Solomon’s amen was immediately punctuated by fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifices prepared for the occasion. God’s glory again filled the temple, causing the throngs to fall prostrate in worship and thanksgiving (2 Chron. 7:1-3). Their response to this epiphany communicates clearly the people’s sense of the presence of the LORD among them, a presence that can be acknowledged only by obedient submission. All through the Festival of Tabernacles, the celebration continued until at last, on the twenty-third day of the seventh month, the people, who had come from the length and breadth of the land, were dismissed to their homes.

Prayer: Give thanks that in the New Covenant God has made you a living stone in His Temple which He has filled with His Holy Spirit.

Thursday (9/15Read and discuss Jonah 2:1-9.  While Jonah went to Nineveh, the book of Jonah went to Israel. In light of that fact, there are four key things to observe in this passage. (1) First, this is a prayer of thanksgiving offered after God had delivered Jonah from death in the sea. Because few of us fancy the prospect of spending three days in the belly of a fish, we tend to think of that as punishment. Actually, the fish was God’s gracious way of delivering Jonah from death and transporting Him to the place where He could return to fruitful service to the LORD. (2) Second, we need to realize that Israel was in a state of hard-hearted rebellion against God when Jonah was sent to Ninevah. (3) Jonah is a representative of Israel.  His outrageous rebellion in chapter 1 naturally leads the reader to ask “How could he?” But Jonah 1 is given to lead Israel (and us) to ask “How could we?” (4) Fourth, when even God’s appointed prophet rebels against God’s clear commands we might have expected God to simply destroy Him. But God reveals His gracious character by literally and miraculously rescuing Jonah at the last moment – right when “the gates of hell” were about to close around him. The message to rebellious Israel was this: “It’s not too late.  If you repent like Jonah, I will not only forgive you – I will restore you to your mission as the light to the nations.” But Israel remained hard hearted and was ultimately judged by being sent into the Babylonian exile. What about you? Many people, even true Christians, have difficulty fully repenting because they don’t believe that God will fully forgive someone who has sinned like they have. But God is like the Father who forgave the prodigal son. God is the gracious LORD who forgave and delivered the crassly rebellious Jonah simply because He cried out to Him for deliverance. Confess your sins to the LORD and He will wash them away and make you whiter than snow. Read or sing Hymn 670 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would give you a tender heart of childlike trust in Him. Ask that He would turn you from being self-willed to desiring that His will would be done.

Friday (9/16) Read and discuss Ephesians 1:3-14.  Clinton Arnold writes:

Christ preexisted with the Father and has now been revealed as the means of redemption and the source of intimacy with God. This passage portrays the Father in eternity past as not alone, but jointly planning with Christ the redemption of humanity. This plan involved making Christ the means for atonement by his death and then the connection point of a relationship with God. Paul emphasizes this in 1:3-14 with his repeated emphasis on “in Christ.” Some form of this expression occurs eleven times in these twelve verses. Paul thus prefigures this as a major them throughout this letter.

It is also a principle theme in Paul’s theology that speaks of our participation in Christ. It refers objectively to our participation in his death, resurrection, ascension, as well as to his present position of power and authority at the right hand of God. Because of this identification with the victorious Lord, those who are “in Christ” will have power for living lives of obedience and for engaging in spiritual warfare. But “in Christ” also refers to the present dynamic experience of closeness and unity with Christ, who cherishes them, nourishes them, provides for them, and gives them direction.

Prayer: Please pray for the Officer’s Training Class of our congregation that meets tomorrow morning.

Saturday (9/17) Read and discuss John 2:13-25. F.F. Bruce writes:

B.F. Westcott, probably rightly, sees in this incident a commentary on Malachi 3:1 ff. (‘the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; … and he will purify …’), following on Zechariah 14:21: ‘there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of Hosts on that day’. The second of these passages may indeed be echoed in Jesus’ remonstrance.

The improvised whip was useful for driving the animals out. Some preachers and others who express surprise that Jesus should have used force of this mild kind even on animals have probably had little experience in moving cattle about in the streets and open spaces of a busy town. Modern drovers can rely on the help of dogs, but this was not available. Whatever the degree of force that was used, the action took on nothing of the riotous character that would have attracted swift and sharp intervention from the roman garrison in the Antonia fortress, which overlooked the temple area on the north-west and communicated with the outer court by two flights of steps.

What Jesus did is best classified as a prophetic act of symbolism. If he had Zech. 14:21 in his mind when he protested against his Father’s house (cf. Luke 2:49) being turned into a supermarket, we may recall that the preceding verses of Zech. 14 tell how all nations will go up to Jerusalem to worship. The only place within the temple precincts which was open to people of ‘all nations’ was the outer court (sometimes called the ‘court of the Gentiles’); if this area were taken up for trading it could not be used for worship. Jesus’ action reinforced his spoken protest.

Read or sing Hymn: 646 “Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 11 September 2016 Sunday, Sep 4 2016 

MVOPC 11 September 2016 – Dan Borvan Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 44 “How Great Thou Art”

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: Galatians 2:20

Hymn of Preparation:  599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 34:1-22

New Covenant Reading: 1 Peter 2:1-3

Sermon: The Pilgrim Journey

Hymn of Response: 610 “‘Take Up Your Cross,’ the Savior Said”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 598 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

PM Worship

OT: Isaiah 8:11-22

NT: 1 Peter 2:4-10

Our Christian Identity

Adult Sunday School: Jason Donald Teaching

Shorter Catechism Q/A #59

Q. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly sabbath?
A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (9/5) Read and discuss 1 Peter 1:22-2:3. Karen Jobes writes:

Peter continues to draw out the consequential moral and ethical implications for the Christian’s life by presenting the third and fourth imperatives of the series that he began in 1:13. He has already exhorted his readers to set their hope fully on God’s grace (1:13) and to be holy after the character of their heavenly Father (1:15). He continues his ethical instruction on how Christians are to live in community with each other with the commands to love one another earnestly (1:22) and to grow in Christ by craving pure spiritual milk (2:2). This begins his teaching on how the community of believers, and not society at larger, is to be the Christians’ primary social context, for their faith in Christ has brought them into the eternal fellowship of God’s people. Peter presents earnest love within the Christian community as the hallmark of having been converted. They are to love one another earnestly and to crave the spiritual nourishment that fosters a vital Christian community.

Read or sing Hymn 44 “How Great Thou Art” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send revival and reformation to New England.

Tuesday (9/6) Read and discuss John 2:1-12. It may be a bit puzzling to read that the disciples, having seen the sign which Jesus performed, believed in him. Hadn’t they already come to faith? Last week we heard Christ’s first disciples professing that He was “the Messiah,” “the Son of God,” and “the King of Israel,” which were all clear statements of their belief. Furthermore, if they didn’t already believe in Jesus how could they be called His disciples? What may at first appear puzzling is actually quite instructive for us. It turns out that faith is not merely a light switch which is either on or off. Rather, faith is something that we grow in throughout out Christian lives. John Calvin puts it like this:

If they were disciples, they must already have possessed some faith; but as they had hitherto followed him with a faith which was not distinct and firm, they began at that time to devote themselves to him, so as to acknowledge him to be the Messiah, such as he had already announced to them. The forbearance of Christ is great in reckoning as disciples those whose faith is so small. And indeed this doctrine extends generally to us all; for the faith which is now full grown had at first its infancy, nor is it so perfect in any as not to make it necessary that all to a person should make progress in believing. Thus, they who now believed may be said to bring to believe, so far as they daily make progress toward the end of their faith. Let those who have obtained the firstfruits of faith labor always to make progress. These words point out likewise the advantage of miracles; namely, that they ought to be viewed as intended for the confirmation and progress of faith.

Read or sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Ask the LORD to cause your faith to grow and mature.

Wednesday (9/7) Read and discuss Psalm 34:1-22. James Montgomery Boice writes:

When I was living in Switzerland in the mid-1960s, I had a friend for whom the first half of Psalm 34:8 was probably her favorite passage in the Bible: “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” She liked the strong physical quality of it and probably, because she was liturgically inclined, viewed its best fulfillment in the communion service.

I do not think this verse is about communion, though that is not an inappropriate application of the principle. But my friend was certainly right in this, that the verse encourages us to try God out, almost physically, just as we would some great treat or delicacy. Does that seem indelicate or impious to say? To compare God to good food? Maybe. But although God is more than this image suggests, he is certainly not less. Our problem is not that we think of him too literally but that we do not think of him literally enough. Moreover, as far as the communion service goes, the eating of the broken bread and the drinking of wine is to teach us that that God becomes as literally a part of us by faith as food becomes a part of our bodies by the eating of it.

How does God become a part of you, a part of your thinking, of what you really are? It is by faith, and faith means believing God and acting upon that belief. In other words, it is exactly what David is speaking of in this stanza, though in other words. He wants us to act on what we know of God and his goodness, for only then will we actually experience for ourselves how good God truly is.

“I found Him to be good,” says David. “He delivered me from all my fears and enemies, and provided for me too. I want you to experience his provision as I have.”

Prayer: Please lift up the people of the Ukraine who are still struggling under the threat of further Russian aggression.

Thursday (9/8) Read and discuss Isaiah 8:11-22. Alec Motyer writes:

The word translated ‘a holy sanctuary’ in verse 14 is found in Exodus 25:8, where the LORD commands, ‘Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.’ This was Israel’s privilege and pride: they were allowed to provide a Tent (later a House, 1 Kings 8:12-13) where the LORD himself would come to live. But Isaiah turned the idea on its head; in the calamitous times ahead the LORD would be the ‘sanctuary/holy shrine’ and his true believers could take shelter with him. As Psalm 61:2-4 develops the thought, he the Rock, he the shelter/refuge, the strong tower, the tabernacle and the sheltering wings. This is the secret of the unworrying people in a worried world: ‘fear him, ye saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear’ (see v. 13); they are different form the ‘world’ which sees a new scare around every corner (v. 12). They are ‘safe in the shelter of the LORD, beneath his hand and power’ (T. Dudley-Smith), and they are nourished by a hope that cannot fail (v. 17). … This is their light in the darkness. The LORD himself has spoken the ‘Word’; in this way he has ‘testified’ about himself and his truth, and given his true people ‘teaching’ to hold, understand, and live by. … Believers display unanxious peace, nourish their minds and guide their lives by the Word the LORD has spoken, face the uncertain and cloudy future with calm and certain expectation; they flee constantly to the shrine, the LORD himself who waits to welcome them, and center their lives reverently on his awesome presence.

Read or sing Hymn 610 “‘Take Up Your Cross,’ the Savior Said” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Calvary Baptist Church in Exeter and for Pastor Booth who will be preaching both morning and evening services there this coming Sunday.

Friday (9/9) Read and discuss 1 Peter 2:4-10.  Karen Jobes writes:

After describing the new birth and the ethical transformation necessary for spiritual nourishment of the new life, Peter describes both the Lord Jesus Christ and Christian believers as living stones built into a spiritual “house” in which Christ is the all-important cornerstone. The fact that Peter, whose nickname means “rock,” does not give himself any special place in this spiritual house is revealing and suggests that the author was not writing under the later Catholic doctrine of Peter’s primacy upon which the apostolic succession of the papacy was based. Peter uses the traditional Jewish understanding of the stone metaphor; but applies it to Jesus Christ, as Jesus himself had. He finds in the stone imagery an expression of both the rejection and exaltation of Jesus Christ, a soteriology based upon divine election, an ecclesiological mandate for believers, and a basis for judgment of those who reject the Stone. Christian believers who form the spiritual house were once not a people, but now they are God’s people. They are chosen and precious to God, for they have received his mercy and love.

Peter presents Jesus Christ as the foundation of God’s redemptive work. Two building projects are implied in the image Peter presents: the spiritual house in which Christ is the cornerstone, and the project of those “builders” who reject Christ. He presents the destiny of people based solely on whether they respond to Christ in faith. By doing so, they are built into God’s spiritual house. Rejection of the gospel is pictured as stumbling over Christ the Living Stone and falling by the way.

Prayer: Please pray for Dan Borvan as he prepares to preach at both our morning and evening worship services this coming Sunday.

Saturday (9/10) Read and discuss 1 Peter 2:1-3. John Calvin writes:

It is to be noticed that Peter connects access to God with the taste of His goodness. Just as the human mind necessarily dreads and shuns God, as long as it imagines Him to be rigid and severe, so, as soon as He makes known His paternal love to the faithful, it immediately follows that they disregard everything and even forget themselves and hasten to Him. In short, the only person who makes progress in the Gospel is the one who comes to God with his heart.

Read or sing Hymn: 598 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 4 September 2016 Sunday, Aug 28 2016 

MVOPC 4 September 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render”

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: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Hymn of Preparation: 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”

Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 31:1-14

New Covenant Reading: John 2:1-12

Sermon: New Wine

Hymn of Response: 188 “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

Quarterly Hymn Sing

Adult Sunday School: Saint Augustine

Shorter Catechism Q/A #58

Q. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/29) Read and discuss John 2:1-12. R.C. Sproul writes:

There is some important symbolism involved in Jesus’ transformation of water into wine. At one point, Jesus took note of the different reactions of the Jewish leaders to His ministry and that of John the Baptist. We saw earlier that John had come in garb reminiscent of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, and that he lived in the wilderness and ate locusts and wild honey. There has been some speculation that John the Baptist may have taken the Nazirite vows, which would have required him to abstain from wine. In short, John came in a spirit of austerity. But Jesus went to dinners with publicans and participated in feasts and other celebrations, such as the wedding in Cana; as Jesus put it, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34a). Much the same was true for the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus. Jesus explained that it was appropriate for John and his followers to be in a mode of total abstinence because he carried out his ministry while the Bridegroom was not present, but Jesus was the Bridegroom, so it was appropriate for Him and for His disciples to celebrate (Luke 5:34-35). The Bridegroom had come, so it was time for the party to start, and the use of wine was symbolic of that celebration.

Read or sing Hymn 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Please pray for our year-long Intern Dan Borvan and his wife Marcy as they arrive in Massachusetts today.

Tuesday (8/30) Read and discuss John 1:35-51. With great excitement Andrew brings his brother to meet Jesus. But before he can introduce them Jesus says:

 “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

Do you see how Jesus is revealing His glory? That is an astonishing display of authority. Think how bizarre it would have been if the first time you came to this church the pastor said: “From now on you will be called Frank” or “You will be called Mary.” Well, it’s even stranger than that with Simon. We have no record of anyone ever being called Peter prior to Jesus giving that name to Simon the son of John. We might catch the force of this better if we heard Jesus saying: “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Rock.” Jesus is saying: “I have the authority to rename you because I have complete authority over you.” In some profound way, our identities and our names are wrapped up in one another. Over time our names cease to be simply the labels by which we are known – they are an integral part of our identity. There are three times in the modern America where people change their names. The first is an effort to cross over language barriers. It is very common, for example, for people in America who were given Chinese or Korean names at birth to adopt English names that their American friends can call them. Second, when people convert to Islam as adults they commonly adopt a Muslim name. Think of Cassius Clay taking on the name we all know him by today – Muhammad Ali. Third, it is still common for women to take their husband’s last name in marriage to symbolize that the two have become one flesh. The last two of these, conversion and marriage, both involve a significant change in a person’s identity. These are very personal decisions. But Jesus is saying: I have authority to change your name and therefore your identity without ever stopping to ask you for permission – because I am Lord. That really is an astonishing display of Christ’s authority. Read or sing Hymn 257 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” Prayer: Give thanks that you bear the title Christian and have been baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday (8/31) Read and discuss Jeremiah 31:1-14. O. Palmer Robertson writes:

The judgment of exile is inevitable. The words of God’s prophets to this effect will surely be fulfilled, because the LORD is “watching” over His word. But beyond uprooting will be replanting. That this “planting” involves” the “seed of men and of animals” hints at the prospect of a new cosmic beginning. Not just Israel, but the world will take on a different form.

But what ongoing hope could a people have when God has so clearly announced His intention to drive a rebellious nation out of their land? If disobedience had ruined them once, what would prevent the recurrence of the same tragedy again? Jeremiah explains that as all redemptive history was structured in the past by divinely initiated covenants of grace, so the future expectations of God’s people will rest in the establishment of a new covenant with even fuller manifestations of grace (31:31-34).

Even as the nation totters on the brink of devastation, this new covenant provides a future hope for Israel and involves points of continuity with past covenantal dealings as well as points of radical newness. The Torah of the LORD shall be in effect; but now this law shall be inscribed on the hearts of God’s people rather than on cold stone tablets. Sins shall be removed, but apart from the repetitious offering of sacrifices. Knowledge of the LORD shall be the essence of the new covenant relations, but no teachers shall be needed to inculcate this knowledge.

The ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy concerning restoration according to the provisions of this new covenant cannot be satisfied by a purely physical return of Jewish peoples to the geographical territory of Palestine, such as that which occurred in the last half of the twentieth century. That type of return was accomplished at the end of the Jeremiah’s specified seventy years. But the rejuvenation of the heart along with the restoration of the entire earth by the replanting of the seed of man and beast can alone fulfill the expectations of the new covenant prophecy.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by become part of our church family.

Thursday (9/1) Read and discuss Romans 5:1-11. Commenting on verses 3-5, R.C. Sproul writes:

Tribulation puts muscle on our souls. Tribulation makes it possible for the people of God to persevere rather than to give up. Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character (v. 4). An easy life does nothing to produce character. Character is forged in the crucible of pain. Character is built when we have no alternative but to persevere in tribulation. Those who come out on the other side are those in whose souls God has built character. The result of character is hope (v. 4) – there it is again. Authentically joyful people are those who know where their hope is. They have been through the crucible. They have been through afflictions, persecution, and rejection from their friends. They have been through pain. They have identified with the humiliation of Christ. They have been crucified with Christ and raised in his resurrection and now participate in his exultation. That is the hope that Christian character produces.

What about the result of that hope? Here is the best part: Now hope does not disappoint (v. 5). Other translations say that hope “does not make us ashamed.” It is embarrassing that the world’s idea of hope is to invest it in some particular enterprise only to see that enterprise fail. When it fails we are dashed to pieces, but the hope that we have from God will never disappoint. It will never embarrass us. We will never have to be ashamed for putting our confidence and trust in Christ. If you put your trust in anything else but Christ you are destined for disappointment and embarrassment. Hope in Christ is the only hope that never shames us. The New Testament tells us that if we are not in the faith, if we do not believe, we are without hope and destined ultimately to disappointment.

Read or sing Hymn 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” Prayer: Lift up the Sunday school teachers in our church as a new season of Sunday school gets underway this weekend.

Friday (9/2) Read and discuss Acts 22:12-21.  James Montgomery Boice writes:

When Paul speaks of his past we are reminded that apart from the single fact that he persecuted Christians Paul never thought of his background as something about which he needed to be ashamed. On the contrary, he spoke of it favorably. In Romans 9 he wrote about the advantages of being a Jew, saying, “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ.” In Philippians he spoke more personally: “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews: in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”

Paul uses some of the words that appear in Philippians in this account, which means that this must be the way Paul was accustomed to talking about his conversion. He was a pure-blooded Jew, and he was zealous for the traditions of his fathers. He emphasizes this zeal, saying that he was trained by the famous Rabbi Gamaliel. Everybody in Jerusalem would have known who Gamaliel was. Paul was not ashamed of his Jewish background, because God had chosen the Jewish people. Every spiritual advantage in history before the coming of Jesus Christ was with Judaism, and Paul was not afraid to acknowledge it. …

Yet, in spite of the fact that he had this heritage, in spite of the fact that he had been trained in the law – the law God gave for our benefit to restrain evil and direct us to the Messiah – Paul had been woefully off base because he had been trying to do as a Jew the same thing the Gentiles had been trying to do with their own non-biblical religions. He had been trying to establish a righteousness on his own that because he was a sinner was no true righteousness. He had been rejecting the salvation God provided.

Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has clothed you with the perfect righteousness of Christ if you are trusting in Him.

Saturday (9/3) Read and discuss John 2:1-12. John Calvin writes:

It may be doubted [that Mary] expected or asked anything [miraculous] from her Son, since he had not yet performed any miracle; and it is possible that, without expecting any remedy of this sort, she advised him to give some pious exhortations which would have the effect of preventing the guests from feeling uneasiness, and that the same time relieving the same of the bridegroom. I consider her words to be expressive of earnest compassion; for the holy woman, perceiving that those who had been invited were likely to consider themselves as having been treated with disrespect, and to murmur against the bridegroom, and that the entertainment might in that way be disturbed, wished that some means of soothing them could be adopted. …

It is a remarkable passage certainly; for why does [Jesus] absolutely refuse to his mother what he freely granted afterwards, on so many occasions to all sorts of persons? Again, why is he not satisfied with a bare refusal? Why does he reduce her to the ordinary rank of women and not even deign to call her mother? This saying of Christ openly and manifestly warns people to beware lest, by too superstitiously elevating the honor of the name of mother in the Virgin Mary, they transfer to her what belongs exclusively to God. Christ, therefore, addresses his mother in this manner, in order to lay down a perpetual and general instruction to all ages: that his divine glory must not be obscured by excessive honor paid to his mother.

Read or sing Hymn: 254 “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 28 August 2016 Sunday, Aug 21 2016 

MVOPC 28 August 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

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 Corinthians 5:1-5

Hymn of Preparation:  234 “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 2:1-12

New Covenant Reading: John 1:35-51

Sermon: The King and His Subjects

Hymn of Response: 235 “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 26:12-35

NT: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

Bittersweet

Adult Sunday School: Saint Augustine Goes to Rome

Shorter Catechism Q/A #57

Q. 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.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/22) Read and discuss John 1:35-51. John Calvin writes:

When Nathanael calls him king of Israel, though his kingdom extends to the remotest bounds of the earth, the confession is limited to the measure of faith. For he had not yet advanced so far as to know that Christ was appointed to be king over the whole world, or rather, that from every quarter would be collected the children of Abraham, so that the whole world would be the Israel of God. We to whom the wide extent of Christ’s kingdom has been revealed ought to go beyond those narrow limits. Yet following the example of Nathanael, let us exercise our faith in hearing the word, and let us strengthen it by all the means that are in our power; and let it not remain buried but break out into confession.

Read or sing Hymn 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Please lift up the people of Louisiana who have seen their homes devastated by flooding.

Tuesday (8/23) Read and discuss John 1:29-34. It is only when we are overwhelmed with the sense that we deserve the never ending outpouring of the wrath of Almighty God – that we begin to understand just how wonderful John’s words are: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” How does Jesus take away our sin? The great Scottish theologian Donald Macleod points us to the Old Testament background for this expression. Macleod writes:

… in order [for our guilt] to be carried away the burden must first be carried.  … the idea of bearing or carrying sin is prominent in the Old Testament, where it clearly means bearing the guilt of sin, answering for it or suffering its consequences.

Leviticus 5:1, for example, lays down that if a witness refuses to testify ‘he shall bear his iniquity.’ Similarly, anyone who commits incest will bear their iniquity.

In this light, the words of the Baptist in [verse] 29 can only mean that Christ bears away the sin of the world by taking responsibility for it, suffering for it and, eventually, dying for it (Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement, p. 67).

Jesus carries our guilt away by first taking it unto Himself. As Paul bluntly puts it in Galatians 3:13:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us …

Mankind rebelled against God, we stuck our fists in God’s face and told Him to “get lost”; yet instead of sending all of us to our just punishment – God took on a true human nature in order to bear our sins and to die in our place. Read or sing Hymn 257 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who be blessed by joining with our church family.

Wednesday (8/24) Read and discuss Psalm 2:1-12. In Genesis 12 God promises Abraham that He will bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him.  This promise is rooted in the nature and office of Abraham’s Seed – Jesus Christ.  Ultimately all of humanity will be divided into those who are crushed as Christ’s enemies and those who have been redeemed by His blood and brought into His family as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Psalm 2 begins with the nations raging against the LORD and His Anointed – and therefore bringing cursing upon themselves as God had promised to Abraham. The Psalm has four evenly balanced sections:

Verses 1-3:      The nations rebel against the LORD and His Anointed

Verses 4-6:      The LORD responds to His opponents

Verses 7-9:      The Messiah tells what the LORD has promised to Him

Verses 10-12:  The Psalmist tells the nations how they should respond

If we focus on verses 4-6, we might be tempted to read this Psalm primarily as a Psalm of judgment.  But the announcement of the coming judgment is actually a gracious warning and call to repentance.  The purpose of the Psalm is to comfort God’s people by reminding them that God’s plans are never hindered by the evil rulers of this world and that the LORD’s Messiah will eventually possess the nations to the end of the earth (v. 8). It is true that the nations will only find lasting peace and joy when they submit to the LORD and His Messiah; but that is precisely what this Psalm is calling all who hear it to do. “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him (v. 12).” Prayer: Lift up the young people of our congregation as they head back to school over the next week.

Thursday (8/25) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. Scott Hafemann writes:

Paul’s full-orbed definition of suffering speaks against those who, whether in Paul’s day or our own, attempt to limit the kinds of suffering that can legitimately be experienced by those who are filled with the Spirit. In such a “health and wealth gospel,” those who truly live by faith may be persecuted, but they will not be subject to emotional illness, physical sickness, or financial distress. Yet the general terminology Paul uses in this context to describe affliction, together with his own experiences of physical suffering, persecution, natural depravations, economic hardships, and the emotional distress of anxiety makes such a limitation impossible.

At the same time, Paul never glorifies suffering per se. There is no evidence that he sought it or encouraged others to do so, as if it were a sign of special spirituality. Hence, the emphasis among some of the early church fathers on actively seeking martyrdom as the highest form of Christian witness is a dangerous misapplication of Paul’s view of suffering. For Paul, suffering is not intrinsically good, nor is it a Christian virtue. Rather, suffering is a page in the textbook used in God’s school of faith. It is not suffering itself that teaches us faith, but God, who uses it as a platform to display his resurrection power in our lives, either through deliverance from suffering or by comfort within it.

Read or sing Hymn 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD uses suffering and hardship in our lives for our good and for His glory as He manifests His resurrection power in our lives.

Friday (8/26) Read and discuss Genesis 26:1-35. Tremper Longman writes:

Kent Hughes helpfully points out how in this story God makes it clear to Isaac that he was present to him in the past (“the LORD has been with you,” v. 28), is with him in the present (“I am with you,” v. 24), and will be present to him in the future (“I will be with you and bless you,” v. 3). He goes on to say that “Isaac’s growth in awareness of the dynamic all-presence of God in his life lifted him from cowardice to confidence. Isaac recovered from the disgrace of passing off Rebekah as his sister as he stood tall amidst the hostile Philistines and prospered.”

Isaac’s world was a hostile one. He was a sojourner in a land where at least initially had no power or control over his circumstances. But, you know his world is no different form anyone else’s. In this story, no one had more power than Abimelech, but thanks to Isaac’s lie and God’s desire to protect him, Abimelech’s kingdom was struck by disease over when he had no control.

Whether we are a helpless sojourner or a powerful political figure or business leader, we live in a dangerous world, and it is perfectly natural to live in fear. We don’t want to be hurt, physically, emotionally, or in any way. Some people try to protect themselves by amassing money and power, but we have already seen that that does not work. What can give us peace to live in a dangerous present as we face an uncertain future? Only the knowledge that god has been with us, is with us, and will be with us.

Jesus understands that as He promised His disciples that He would be with them till the end of the ages (Matthew 28:20).

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey Orthodox Presbyterian Church that they would be effective in reaching out into their community with the gospel.

Saturday (8/27) Read and discuss John 1:35-51. Erasmus writes:

Now so that the extraordinary integrity of John the Baptist might shine forth more, he did not regard it sufficient to have diverted the zeal of the people from himself to Christ; he also seeks to transfer his own disciples from himself to Christ. For on the day following the things which we have just related, which were done before the people, John again was standing with two of his disciples. But Jesus was walking to and fro not far from there. … Christ was walking to and fro, as always progressing to something greater, gathering disciples of his heavenly teaching from all sides. Therefore, when the standing John was looking at the walking Jesus, not ignorant of the fact that Jesus thirsted for the salvation of mankind and was seeking to obtain suitable disciples for his sublime teaching, he turned to two disciples who were standing by their teacher, and in order to hand them over to Jesus, a better teacher than himself, he pointed to Jesus with his finger saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, about whom I have now borne witness so often. He alone takes away all the sins of the whole world. I have prepared you for him.”

Read or sing Hymn: 254 “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 21 August 2016 Sunday, Aug 14 2016 

MVOPC 21 August 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 55 “To God Be the Glory”

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: Hebrews 10:19-22

Hymn of Preparation:  257 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 53:1-12

New Covenant Reading: John 1:29-34

Sermon: Behold the Lamb!

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

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 254 “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 26:1-11

NT: Galatians 4:21-31

Like Father Like Son

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School This Week

Shorter Catechism Q/A #56

Q. 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.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/15) Read and discuss John 1:29-34. F.F. Bruce writes:

The designation with which [John the Baptist] greets Jesus’ appearance is startling – at least, it must have been so to those who heard it for the first time. To us the designation ‘Lamb of God’ is so familiar in Christian speech and art that we can scarcely realize how strange it must have been in the ears of John’s audience. Many attempts have been made to discover the back the background of John’s phraseology, and even if the complete background could be discovered it would not entirely account for the New Testament usage, which has a new and creative element to it. …

Among possible antecedents for John’s language we might think of the lamb to be provided by God, mentioned by Abraham in Genesis 22:8, or of the Passover lamb, which was evidently in the Evangelist’s mind in the passion narrative (cf. John 19:36). … [It is also likely that] behind John’s language may be discerned the Servant of the LORD who suffered ‘like a lamb that is led to the slaughter’ and gave Himself as ‘an offering for sin’ (Isaiah 53:7, 10).

Read or sing Hymn 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Venezuela that they would shine like brilliant stars in the midst of a collapsing culture and government – and that many of their neighbors would come to truly know Jesus Christ.

Tuesday (8/16) Read and discuss John 1:19-28. The Gospel of John does not draw our attention to the meaning of John’s Baptism. Instead it focuses like a laser beam on the testimony that John gives about Jesus Christ. Look at Verses 26-28:

They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John is telling them: “Stop asking who I am and pay attention to what I am saying.” The important thing isn’t who I am but who it is that is coming after me. Prepare the way to meet Him! John wasn’t trying to get people to follow him. He was trying to get people to follow Jesus. This is a good thing to remember in our own day when electronic media can encourage pastors and churches to brand themselves. Mark Driscoll actually referred to himself as “the brand” in his former church. But, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “we preach not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for His sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).” With one striking image, John makes clear once again how far the one coming after him would surpass him in every way. John said: “I am not even worthy to untie strap of the sandals that are on His feet.” There was actually a saying amongst the Rabbis, that “a disciple should be willing to perform any act for his teacher that a slave would perform accept to remove the sandals from his feet or to wash the master’s feet.” This saying helps us grasp how radical it would be when, at the Last Supper, Jesus – the Rabbi – would wash His disciple’s feet. We should remember that a person’s feet could become absolutely filthy in ancient Israel. So it was considered demeaning to wash the filth from the fields and the streets from someone’s feet. Only a slave, or someone who wanted to profess their willingness to serve, would do such a thing. But John is saying: The One coming after me is so great – that I am not ever worthy perform this lowly task of a slave – I am not even worthy to loosen the strap of His sandal. That is the testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus. Read or sing Hymn 257 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” Prayer: Please lift up those in our congregation who suffering with physical ailments and afflictions.

Wednesday (8/17) Read and discuss Isaiah 53:1-12. Every year around New Year polls are taken to reveal whom Americans most admire. Year after year the most admired man in America is the President of the United States. Does this mean that we consistently enjoy the good fortune of the most admirable man in American being our President? That might be nice but a more likely explanation is that the grandeur of the office of the President rubs off on its occupant. The President dominates the news media in a way that no other individual can. If you want other people to admire you it certainly helps if you live in the White House. That’s what makes Jesus’ arrest so surprising. Judas had to work out a signal with the guards so that they would know which of the Galileans to arrest (It would have been a major embarrassment if they had arrested Peter by mistake!). This reveals something truly astonishing about the Incarnation. God chose to be born into a modest working class family. Jesus didn’t have fancy robes or an entourage that made it clear how important He was. He didn’t even look different from the other Galilean men of His day. As Isaiah 53:2 put it, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” God so fully identified with us that Christ even looked just like any other first century Jewish male. And through this identification with us, He suffered what we deserved in our place. If someone were told what Jesus had suffered in the last few days of His life, he or she would naturally wonder what sort of horrendous deeds Jesus must have committed to suffer like this.

                        But He was wounded for our transgressions;

                                    He was crushed for our iniquities;

                        upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

                                    and with His stripes we are healed.

Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus humbled Himself that we might be exalted with him.

Thursday (8/18) Read and discuss Galatians 4:21-31. John Calvin writes:

This Jerusalem [the Jerusalem from above] is not shut up in heaven, nor are we to look for it outside this world. The church is spread over the whole earth, where it is a pilgrim. It is said to be from heaven because it originates in heavenly grace. The children of God are born not of flesh and blood but by the power of the Holy Spirit. The heavenly Jerusalem is the mother of believers because she has the incorruptible seed of life deposited in her. By this means she forms us, cherishes us in her womb and brings us to light. She has the milk and food by which she continually nourishes her offspring. Anyone who refuses to be a child of the church desires in vain to have God as his Father. It is only through the ministry of the church that God begets children for himself and brings them up through adolescence to maturity.

Read or sing Hymn 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD uses suffering and hardship in our lives for our good and for His glory as He manifests His resurrection power in our lives.

Friday (8/19) Read and discuss Genesis 26:1-11. James Montgomery Boice writes:

It is a strange thing. God had appeared to Isaac to say that he would bless him. He said that he would make his descendants as numerous as the stars in sky, that he would give all the lands promised to his father Abraham, and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. Yet here was Isaac, worrying whether God could preserve his life in the Philistines territory. Strange? Yes, but no stranger than our own failure to trust God to care for us. Isaac probably knew of only a few miracles – the Creation, the Flood, the miracle of his own conception. But ourselves? We know of many. We have the entire Old Testament, with its many great deeds and miracles. We also have the New Testament. We confess belief in the fulfillment of Scripture in Jesus’ miraculous life: the virgin birth, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. We believe in Pentecost. We acknowledge the tremendous miracle of the new birth. yet when trouble comes, we fear for our safety and often sin because of that fear.

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey Orthodox Presbyterian Church that they would be effective in reaching out into their community with the gospel.

Saturday (8/20) Read and discuss John 1:29-34. Donald McLeod writes:

The Baptist describes him as ‘bearing away’ the sin of the world: putting a distance between the world and its sin in a manner reminiscent of the scapegoat, which on the Day of Atonement carried all the sins of the people to a solitary place in the distant desert (Lev. 16:22). This is the clear import of the verb ὁ αἴρων [“the One taking away”] in John 1:29, but in order to be carried away the burden must first be carried.  … the idea of bearing or carrying sin is prominent in the Old Testament, where it clearly means bearing the guilt of sin, answering for it or suffering its consequences. Leviticus 5:1, for example, lays down that if a witness refuses to testify ‘he shall bear his iniquity’ (ESV, NIV, ‘will be held responsible’). Similarly, anyone who commits incest will bear their iniquity (Lev. 20:19-20). In this light, the words of the Baptist in John 1:29 can only mean that Christ bears away the sin of the world by taking responsibility for it, suffering for it and, eventually, dying for it. He is, uniquely and archetypically, the sin-bearing Lamb.

Read or sing Hymn: 254 “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 14 August 2016 Sunday, Aug 7 2016 

MVOPC 14 August 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

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: Isaiah 55:7-9

Hymn of Preparation:  196 “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5

New Covenant Reading: John 1:19-28

Sermon: A Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness

Hymn of Response: 193 “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 26:1-11

NT: Galatians 4:21-31

Like Father Like Son

Adult Sunday School: Saint Augustine

Shorter Catechism Q/A #55

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

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/8) Read and discuss John 1:19-28. Desiderius Erasmus writes:

Here, because John was speaking to those skilled in the Law, lest he seem to claim for himself what he was out of human temerity, he taught them from the very prophesy of Isaiah, well known to the Pharisees, both that he was nothing other than the forerunner of Christ and that the Lord himself was now present, whom they should have received with pure hearts, whom they themselves, blinded by envy, ambition, and pride, were to crucify: “I, he says, “am not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor one of the prophets called back into this world. Yet I have not taken up this office on my own authority, because many years ago I was destined for this office by God’s authority. I am he concerning whom Isaiah wrote, ‘A voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the LORD.’ You see the desert; you hear the voice of one crying out. What is more, cast aside worldly lusts, prepare your hearts for his coming so that he may come as your Savior. Moses foreshadowed him to you The prophets predicted that he would one day come. I show him now coming to you.

Read or sing Hymn 53 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” Prayer: Please pray for those in our congregation who are dealing with significant physical or emotional challenges.

Tuesday (8/9) Read and discuss John 1:14-18. John tells us that “The Word became flesh and he pitched His tent (i.e. Tabernacled) amongst us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What exactly is “glory.” The Old Testament word for glory carries the idea of weightiness or great significance. This weightiness can make other things fade into insignificance by comparison. We sing this truth when we sing:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

That is what the weightiness of glory does to us. I trust that you have all had experiences like that. As you contemplate the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ – other matters that once seemed so urgent or significant suddenly seem far less so. But is that all there is to “glory”? Is that what John meant when he wrote: “We beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”? If we didn’t know anything about the life of Jesus, we might imagine that the revelation of God’s glory in the Messiah would be something like what Isaiah saw in the Temple when the LORD called him to be a prophet. Isaiah writes:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isn’t that what you think about when you think of the Glory of God? Yet, apart from the brief exception of the Mount of Transfiguration, which only three Disciples witnessed, this is NOT how Jesus revealed the Father’s glory. Instead, Jesus reveals God as being meek and lowly of heart. He chose to be born in a manger. He worked in a carpenter’s shop as a boy. It was said of Jesus: “A bruised reed He would not break and a smoldering wick He would not put out.” The paradox is that Jesus displayed God’s glory by displaying strength and weightiness through humility and even what appeared to be weakness. Jesus, Himself, will speak of the Son of Man being lifted up – that is exalted – on the cross. The cross, which superficially looked like a display of weakness, was actually a great demonstration of the glory of God – as the Son of God trampled Satan, sin, and death under foot. The glory that Christ reveals in the Gospel of John is the glory of God’s grace and truth – and the fullest manifestation of that glory comes at the cross. Read or sing Hymn 196 “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you the right perspective that His glory as it is revealed in Jesus Christ would be the weightiest thing in your life.

Wednesday (8/10) Read and discuss Isaiah 40:1-11. Alec Moyter writes:

The most wonderful thing about these verses is not the beauty of their expression (though that in itself would have been enough), nor the attractiveness of what they reveal (though, again, that would suffice), but the place where they come. Doom has been pronounced on Hezekiah (39:6-7), and with it the death knell seems to have been sounded for all Isaiah’s glittering predictions of a coming king. At this darkest of moments, the call goes out to speak the word of comfort, to proclaim hardship finished and sins forgiven, to announce that Yahweh himself is on his way with worldwide significance, that his word and promises can never fail, and that Zion’s people are the flock he has worked for and now holds in his tender care. This is the LORD undefeated even by our most grievous sin; the LORD who never calls back the word he has spoken, and who cannot be deflected from its fulfilment! … The Sovereign God is never more sovereign than in the work of mercy and salvation, and it is those who know they have most signally erred and strayed from his ways, who, within the blessed arena of salvation, feel most gently the warmth of his shepherding arms around them, and know themselves for sure to be the lambs of his flock.

Read or sing Hymn 193 “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Island Pond Baptist Church as they search for a new pastor.

Thursday (8/11) Read and discuss Galatians 4:21-31. Tom Schreiner writes:

We … need to remind ourselves that if we are Christians, we are already free. We are called to live out the freedom that is already ours and not to turn back to slavery. We are to live under grace instead of under law. What are some signs that we are living under grace? One sign is that we are not devastated when we are criticized or snubbed by others. If we are devastated, we are still subtly living by the law, for our god is receiving the approval of others. We are living by grace if we can rest in being passed over for a job that we thought we should have received. If we live by the law and focus on ourselves, we become resentful and angry because we have been passed over. But if we live by grace, we rest in God’s purposes, even if we think others made a mistake.

What if you are trying to be free and you are not changing at all? One possibility is that you are not a Christian. … But things aren’t so simple for Christians either. For we see in this very passage that Christians are tempted to go back under the law and return to the slaver from which they were freed. So, matters are complex, for believers struggle with sin as well, and yet God has promised that believers will enjoy substantial, significant, and observable victory over sin (even if Christians will not in this life enjoy perfection).

Read or sing Hymn 230 “Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All Splendor” Prayer: Please lift up the people of Venezuela as their nation’s economy collapses.

Friday (8/12) Read and discuss Genesis 26:1-11. Iain Duguid writes:

The fundamental issue at stake here is a familiar one: Can God be trusted to fulfill his promises and protect Isaac? God had just promised to be with Isaac, giving him offspring, lands, and blessing (Gen 26:4). So there was no question as to God’s commitment to him. The question was whether Isaac has the faith to believe God and let the chips fall where they may or adopt a strategy of deception to give God a little assistance.

In this case, like his father before him, Isaac gave in to the temptation to speak misleading half-truths to protect himself. Looking after his life had become more important to him than obeying God. The irony is that the God whom he is so reluctant to trust with his life is the same God who provided a lamb to take his place on the altar of Mount Moriah. If God was able to deliver Isaac’s life from the upraised knife of his father, would he not also deliver Isaac from the dangers of everyday life in a pagan society? Had he learned nothing from the experience? But before we judge Isaac too harshly, we need to examine our hearts. How often do you and I fail to obey God when something far less significant than our lives is at stake? We frequently choose the way of self-protective deception for the sake of mere comfort or pleasure or reputation, forgetting the love of God demonstrated in the Lamb he provided to take our place on the cross of Calvary. If God did not spare his Son but freely gave him up for us, can we not trust him with our lives?

Prayer: Ask that the LORD would make you more and more a person of integrity where our word is completely trustworthy.

Saturday (8/13) Read and discuss John 1:19-28. F.F. Bruce writes:

The emphatic ‘I baptize in water’ prepares the reader for the mention of someone else who will baptize in a different medium. For the moment John does not speak of this different baptism, but he does speak of the one who will administer it. He is the one for whom John is preparing the way as forerunner, the one who is coming after him. By all accounts the forerunner is less important than the person for whom he prepares the way; John underlies his own relative unimportance in comparison with the Coming One by saying that he is unfit even to perform such a lowly service as untying his sandal-strap for him. ‘Every service which a slave performs for his master’, said one rabbi, ‘a disciple will perform for his teacher, except to untie his sandal-strap’ Even that menial service John thought himself unworthy to perform for the Coming One. But in fact, in preparing the way for that Coming One, John was discharging a far more honorable ministry than any of his hearers could have realized.

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 7 August 2016 Sunday, Jul 31 2016 

MVOPC 7 August 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 21 “Sing Praise to the Lord!”

Confession of Sin

Most holy and merciful Father;  We acknowledge and confess before You;  Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good;  And all our shortcomings and offenses.  You alone know how often we have sinned;  In wandering from Your ways;  In wasting Your gifts;  In forgetting Your love.  But You, O Lord, have pity upon us;  Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You.  Teach us to hate our errors;  Cleanse us from our secret faults;  And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son.  And O most holy and loving Father;  Help us we beseech You;  To live in Your light and walk in Your ways;  According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Assurance of Pardon: Romans 8:1-4

Hymn of Preparation: 162 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

Old Covenant Reading: Exodus 34:1-9

New Covenant Reading: John 1:14-18

Sermon: Immanuel

Hymn of Response: 230 “Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All Splendor”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 25:19-34

NT: Romans 9:1-13

The Older Shall Serve the Younger

Adult Sunday School: Saint Augustine

Shorter Catechism Q/A #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.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/1) Read and discuss John 1:14-18. D.A. Carson writes:

[Jesus’ is the supreme revelation. If we are to know God, neither rationalism nor irrational mysticism will suffice: the former reduces God to mere object, and the latter abandons all controls. Even the revelation of antecedent Scripture cannot match this revelation, as the epistle to the Hebrews also affirms in strikingly similar categories: ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times an in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son’ (Heb. 1:1-2). The Word, God’s very Self-expression, who was both with God and who was God, became flesh: he donned our humanity, save only our sin. God chose to make himself known, finally and ultimately, in a real historical man; ‘when “the Word became flesh”, God became man’ (F.F. Bruce).

Read or sing Hymn 21 “Sing Praise to the Lord!” Prayer: Pray for someone you know who does not yet know the LORD that they would quickly come to love Jesus as their own Savior and Lord.

Tuesday (8/2) Read and discuss John 1:6-13. Verses 12-13 read:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

There is a great division, here, between those who reject Jesus and those who receive Him. When Jesus comes into the world He creates a crisis. “A crisis is a circumstance that demands a decision and separates those who decide this way from those who decide that [way].”The presence of the Light of Christ forces us to choose either for or against Him – and then to face the consequences of that choice. But what, or Who, causes men and women to differ in their responses? Is the difference found inside of us or outside of us? As John will make clear in chapter 3, the dark impetuous to reject the Light is found inside each and every one of us. But the LORD, in His sovereign grace, will grant some of His enemies new life from above. He will cause them, He will cause us, to be born-again. It is interesting that most of those who embrace the truth that God’s sovereign grace is the cause of our new life in Christ – choose to defend this Biblical teaching from Paul’s letter to the Romans. It turns out that this great truth is taught throughout the Bible and nowhere is it taught more forcefully or clearly than in John.

How were we born again? John says …

 … who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

These “three negative phrases exclude any notion that to become a child of God originates from any human intent or act (Weinrich, John, p. 148).” John is telling us plainly how we moved out of the Kingdom of Darkness and into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son. … God did it! Read or sing Hymn 162 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” Prayer: Give thanks with a grateful heart for the LORD’s mercy and grace in delivering you out of the Kingdom of Darkness and into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son

Wednesday (8/3) Read and discuss Exodus 34:1-9. Doug Stuart writes:

God’s instruction to Moses to prepare two new stone tablets and his promise to write the Ten Words/Commandments on these new tablets just as he had on the former ones conveys a most welcome message: God had decided to forgive the Israelites and accept them once again as his covenant people, and he would renew his covenant with them, through which all sorts of blessings would once again be theirs. Like an employer saying to a previously dismissed employee, “Welcome back to the company. Let me show you to your work station” or a judge saying to a person whose punishment has been completed, “You’re free to go and resume your former life,” God said to Moses and through him to Israel, in effect: “Bring some new tablets. Let’s put the covenant back in force.”

Read or sing Hymn 180 “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story” Prayer: Lift up those in our congregation who are caring for elderly parents.

Thursday (8/4) Read and discuss Romans 9:1-13. Sometimes even Christians, in a man-centered way, exalt their own freedom of choice at the expense of God’s freedom of choice. This is not only an error in thinking, it is an error that undermines grasping God’s amazing grace in our lives. John Murray puts it like this:

The sovereignty of grace is implicit in its nature. If grace excludes the constraint of human merit, if its whole constraint and explanation reside in God, it must be of his free good pleasure. It is well to note the emphasis which the Scripture places upon this fact of sovereign will. When it speaks of the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7) and of what will redound ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace’ (Eph. 1:6), it is then that we find the reiterated reference to ‘the good pleasure of his will’, to ‘the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure’, and to ‘the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will’ (Eph. 1:11). To dissociate grace in its source, progress, or fruition from pure sovereignty of will is to annul not only its character but also that by which its exercise is conditioned. And Paul’s teaching here is the reproduction of our Lord’s – ‘even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight’ (Matt 11:26).

Read or sing Hymn 230 “Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All Splendor” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (8/5) Read and discuss Genesis 25:19-34. Iain Duguid writes:

Isaac was, in the fullest sense of the phrase, a chip off the old block. In fact, the few events of his life that Scripture records for us are a great deal like his father’s life. His life is, in Yogi Berra’s memorable phrase, “déjà vu all over again.” The result of this juxtaposition is that we can see clearly the ways in which he shared his father’s strengths and weaknesses.

First, there was the same problem of a barren wife, threatening the fulfillment of God’s promise of numerous descendants (Gen 25:21). Then, like his father before him, he as raced with famine. God’s promised land seemed unable to support him, and he had to decide whether to stay there or leave it for the perennially greener pastures of Egypt. In that situation of weakness, Isaac encountered the same temptation that his father had of passing off his wife as his sister in order to protect his life (Gen 26:1-11). Subsequently he was involved in quarreling between his herdsmen and those of an ally, Abimelech, over scarce resources, a conflict that closely mirrors the earlier conflict between the herdsmen of Abraham and Abimelech. Isaac’s life is thus in a sense a rerun of the life of Abraham.

Isaac’s life is not merely a compilation album of Abraham’s greatest hits, however. Rather, in Isaac’s replaying of Abraham’s experience we also see God’s faithfulness extended to a new generation. The promise to Abraham was valid for Isaac also. That surely was an important lesson for the original audience of the Book of Genesis, the wilderness generation, who stood with Moses on the brink of the Promised Land. They had not personally experienced the exodus out of Egypt; they had to rely on their fathers’ testimony for that. Would the God who had done great things for their fathers also do great things for them, so that they might conquer the land? The answer was that just as Isaac could count on the God of Abraham, so also the God of Moses would continue to be with his people as they attempted to conquer the land under Joshua.

Prayer: Please pray for tomorrow’s church picnic.

Saturday (8/6) Read and discuss John 1:14-18. Commenting on verse 16, Martin Luther writes:

This is one of the golden texts in Saint john; it is on par with the one we have already discussed: the Son of God is “the true Light, which lights every one that cometh into the world.” Therefore, whoever does not acknowledge Christ and believe in him, and dos not make him his or her own, is and remains a child of wrath and of damnation, no matter what that person is called or what that person is. But if a person is to find mercy, Christ alone must be the means. He alone makes us paupers rich with his superabundance, expurges our sins with his righteousness, devours our death with his life and transforms us from children of wrath, tainted with sin, hypocrisy, lies and deceit, into children of grace and truth. Whoever does not possess this Man possess nothing.

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 31 July 2016 Sunday, Jul 24 2016 

MVOPC 31 July 2016

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: John 14:1-3

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

Old Covenant Reading: Malachi 4:1-6

New Covenant Reading: John 1:6-13

Sermon: Witness and Light

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

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 25:1-18

NT: Romans 9:6-18

Rounding Out the Story

Adult Sunday School: Saint Augustine

Shorter Catechism Q/A #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.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/20) Read and discuss John 1:6-13. F.F. Bruce writes:

In all three Synoptic Gospels [i.e. Matthew, Mark, and Luke] the record of Jesus’ public ministry is introduced by an outline of the ministry of John the Baptist. In the Acts of the Apostles the ministry of John plays a similar part in Peter’s address in the house of Cornelius (10:37) and in Paul’s synagogue address in Pisidian Antioch (13:24 f); and when the question arises of filling the vacancy created in the ranks of the twelve by the defection of Judas, Peter’s condition for the replacement is that he must be ‘one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John’ (1:21 f). This Evangelist is faithful to the pattern of the primitive preaching: all its essential elements are reproduced in his record. The life which was the light of men was first publicly manifested on earth when witness was borne by the man sent from God, whose name was John.

In this Gospel John is never identified as ‘the Baptist’. Our Evangelist is careful to distinguish other figures in his narrative who bear the same name – as when he distinguishes ‘Judas not Iscariot’ (14:22) from Judas Iscariot – but no other John than the Baptist is named by him [Simon Peter’s father was named John, so Peter is called “Simon son of John” four times in the Gospel]. The traditional explanation of the non-mention of the other John in this Gospel is that the only other John in Jesus’ circle, John the son of Zebedee, had a major responsibility for the production of the work. It is difficult to think of a better one.

Read or sing Hymn 1 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” Prayer: Please pray for the upcoming elections in the U.S. as the Democratic National Convention gets underway today.

Tuesday (6/21) Read and discuss John 1:1-5. In verse 3 we are told:

All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

This verse may seem almost a bit redundant. After all, if Jesus is fully God then quite obviously He is the Creator of all things. Well sometimes repetition is important. As every teacher knows – repetition is the mother of learning. Nevertheless, I think John is doing more than helpfully driving home the point that Jesus is in fact fully God. John’s experience of Jesus didn’t begin in eternity past. It began when John the Baptist pointed him to a human being – to a fellow Jewish man of around 30 years of age – and said: “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” We don’t begin by knowing God and then add Jesus into the picture. We begin by knowing Jesus and then realizing with Thomas that he who has seen Jesus has seen the Father. The danger with this is that we can easily end up dragging God down to merely human dimensions. John wants us to remember, when we see Jesus hanging on the cross, that hanging there was the Word who created the tree on which he hung. He created the dirt in which the post of the cross was buried. He created the Sun, the moon, and all the stars that filled the sky. He even created the very people who would put Him to death. When we come to Jesus in prayer we should remember that we are coming to the One through whom everything exists and that apart from Jesus – there is not a single thing which has been made that He did not make. If we do this, we will discover that the love of God for us is all the more astounding. When Christ bids you to His table to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it is good to meditate on this truth: The God who created everything that exists holds out the bread to you and says: “Take! Eat! This is My body, given for you.” Who can begin to fathom such love? The God through whom uncountable galaxies have been created, took on a true human nature to give His life for the life of the world. Read or sing Hymn 11 “Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God” Prayer: Lift up our brothers and sisters at Island Pond Baptist Church in Hampstead, NH as they look for a new pastor.

Wednesday (6/22) Read and discuss Malachi 4:1-6. O. Palmer Robertson writes:

Does Malachi’s reference to Elijah’s return demand an actual reincarnation of the ancient prophet? Will the old Elijah who ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot return to earth as the consummate forerunner of the coming of the LORD? Nothing in the historical experience of the old covenant scriptures anticipates such a development. At other points the prophets predict a day in which David will return as king in Israel (Hos. 3:5; Ezek. 34:23, 37:24). Yet the expectation is not that a reincarnate David will return to rule over Israel, thereby superseding the dominion of the promised Messiah who was to be greater than David. Instead, these prophecies anticipate the coming of a king with the mind and the spirit of David who will reign over God’s universal people.

It is in this framework that the new covenant identification of John the Baptist as “Elijah” is to be understood. The disciples ask Jesus why their teachers of the law say that Elijah must come before the Messiah appears. The point of reference is clearly Malachi’s prophecy concerning god’s sending of his servant Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6). Jesus replies that the teachers of the law are correct: “Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished.” As a result of Jesus’ explanation, the disciples understood that he was referring to John the Baptist. By his ministry, John fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy concerning the return of Elijah.

Read or sing Hymn 180 “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD gave us the Bible that we would have His word readily available to teach us and to guide us on our way.

Thursday (6/23) Read and discuss Romans 9:6-18. Frequently, people confuse the categories of “fair” and “just.” To treat everyone fairly implies that we will treat people in similar situations in similar ways. To treat everyone justly means that we will give everyone what they deserve. Suppose, a businessman hires a dozen teenagers to help him clean up his warehouse. He promises to pay everyone $12 per hour. The finish their work in four hours. Justice demands that he pay each of his workers $48. But what if he gives 11 of his workers $48 and one of his workers $100. By giving one of his employees more money than the rest the business owner was not being fair. On the other hand, nobody could (rightly) claim that he was being unjust – because he gave everyone what he or she was due. Understanding this principle will clear up a great deal of misunderstanding about God’s sovereign grace in salvation. R.C. Sproul puts it like this:

God in his sovereign disposition of grace interrupts our life while we are alienated from him, dead in sin and trespass, and the Holy Spirit comes and quickens us from death to life and changes the disposition of our heart. Where formerly Christ seemed repugnant, now he is the sweetest thing in the world. We rush to him, we choose him, we embrace him, and we trust him, because God in his grace has given us the pearl of great price. If God does that for us, is he obligated to do it for everybody? If the president of the United States exercises executive clemency and pardons somebody in prison, is he then obligated to pardon everybody? No. What Jacob got was grace; what Esau go was not injustice. God withheld his mercy from Esau – mercy to which Esau had no claim – but the withholding was not an act of injustice on God’s part. Jacob got mercy; Esau got justice. The elect get grace; the non-elect get justice. Nobody gets injustice.

Read or sing Hymn 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Venezuela as their economy and most of their way of life has collapsed.

Friday (6/24) Read and discuss Genesis 25:1-18. Tremper Longman writes:

Genesis 25:12 introduces the short [account] of Ishmael by explaining that he is the son of Abraham through Hagar the Egyptian. As the previous narrative has made abundantly clear, he is not the one through whom the covenant promises would continue from Abraham to the following generations. Even so, the narrative does not simply drop interest in Ishmael. Indeed, the narrator treats the non-elect son Ishmael before turning attention to the elect son Isaac, a pattern that we will also see with Esau and Jacob. At her moment of desperation in the desert after having been turned out by Abraham and Sarah, God had assured Hagar that he would “make him into a great nation” (21:18). Indeed, as Kaminsky has pointed out “the non-chosen sibling (in this case Ishmael) is not necessarily excluded from all divine favor. Ishmael, while not the chosen child and thus excluded from the covenant, does receive some of the elements of the original Abrahamic promise in Gen 12: being blessed, being fruitful, and becoming a great nation.”

Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring about a just peace in the Middle East and that many people there would come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Saturday (6/25) Read and discuss John 1:6-13. In verse 11 we are told that “His own people did not receive Him.” John Calvin comments:

Here is displayed the absolutely desperate wickedness and malice of human beings; here is displayed their execrable impiety, that when the Son of God was manifested in the flesh to the Jews, whom God had separated to himself from the other nations to be his own heritage, he was not acknowledged or received. This passage also has received various explanations. For some think that the Evangelist speaks of the whole world indiscriminately; and certainly there is no part of the world which the Son of God may not lawfully claim as his own property. According to them the meaning is “When Christ came down into the world, he did not enter into another person’s territories, for the whole human race was his own inheritance.” But I approve more highly of the opinion of those who refer it to the Jews alone; for there is an implied comparison, by which the Evangelist represents the heinous ingratitude of people. The Son of God had solicited an abode for himself in one nation; when he appeared there, he was rejected; and this shows clearly the awfully wicked blindness of people.

Read or sing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”! Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

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