MVOPC 5 March 2017
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: Joel 2:12-13
Hymn of Preparation: 94 “How Firm a Foundation”
Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 18:14-20
New Covenant Reading: John 9:1-7
Sermon: Making All Things New
Hymn of Response: 524 “Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 386 “God Be With You Til We Meet Again”
OT: Genesis 37:12-36
NT: 1 John 3:11-18
Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism
Shorter Catechism Q/A #84
Q. What doth every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.
Monday (2/27) Read and discuss John 9:1-7. N.T. Wright comments:
If something in the world seems ‘unfair’, but if you believe in a God who is both all-powerful, all loving and all-fair, one way of getting round the problem is to say that it only seems ‘unfair’, but actually it isn’t. There was after all some secret sin being punished. This is a comfortable sort of thing to believe if you happen to be well-off, well-fed and healthy in body and mind. (In other words, if nobody can accuse you of some secret previous sin.)
Jesus firmly resists any such analysis of how the world is ordered. The world is stranger than that, and darker than that, and the light of God’s powerful, loving justice shines more brightly than that. But to understand it all, we have to be prepared to dismantle some of our cherished assumptions and to let God remake them in a different way.
We have to stop thinking of the world as a kind of moral slot-machine, where people put in a coin (a good act, say, or an evil one) and get out a particular result (a reward or a punishment). Of course, actions always have consequences. Good things often happen as a result of good actions (kindness produces gratitude), and bad things often happen through bad actions (drunkenness causes car accidents). But this isn’t inevitable. Kindness is sometimes scorned. Some drunkards always get away with it.
In particular, you can’t stretch the point back to a previous ‘life,’ or to someone else’s sins. Being born blind doesn’t mean you must have sinned, says Jesus. Nor does it mean that your parents must have sinned. No: something much stranger, at once more mysterious and more hopeful, is going on The chaos and misery of this present world is, it seems, the raw material out of which the loving, wise and just God is making his new creation.
Read or sing 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render” Prayer: Pray for someone you know who is blind, deaf, or otherwise suffering from severe physical disadvantages and ask that he or she would know the comfort of the LORD.
Tuesday (2/28) Read and discuss John 8:48-59. It is terrifying to contemplate these Jewish religious leaders standing face-to-face in front of the Living God while they hurl blasphemous charges against Him. Nevertheless, I am grateful that their rebellious challenge is recorded in Scripture for Jesus takes this occasion to make a remarkable statement about His own person. Verse 58:
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
If Jesus had said, “Before Abraham was, I was” He would have been making an astonishing statement. Each of you realizes that there was a time when you did not exist. Not a single person in this room was alive in 1900. Not one of you. If one of you were to tell me after the service that before George Washington went to Valley Forge you were already alive – I would tell you that you ought to see a psychiatrist – or at least that you needed to get some sleep. But, we should realize that there are a whole class of people alive right now who were alive before George Washington, before the Apostle Paul, and even before Abraham. We call these individuals Angels. If Jesus had said, “Before Abraham was, I was” He might be making the astonishing claim that He was like Michael the Archangel – a being of great power created by God many, many centuries ago. But that is decidedly not what Jesus says. Instead Jesus says: “Before Abraham was, I am.” This is nothing short of Jesus claiming to be God. Jesus was not simply a very special messenger from God. Jesus is God Himself who took to Himself a true human nature. This is the title that the LORD used back when He met with Moses at the burning bush. Moses was understandably shaken by the encounter and the startling commission the LORD had laid upon him.
[So] Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Every Jew knew this story by heart. The Jewish religious leaders had challenged Jesus by asking Him: “Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus says: “Here is your answer.” Do you remember when the LORD met with Moses at the burning bush and revealed Himself as “I AM.” Of course you do! Well, that’s Me. I am the Great “I AM.” Read or sing Hymn 94 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that God Himself has become your Savior.
Wednesday (3/1) Read and discuss Ezekiel 18:14-20. Iain Duguid writes:
When I was growing up, two of the top three things we were never allowed to say were, “It’s not my fault,” and, “It’s not fair.” (The other was, “I couldn’t help it.”) Those very phrase are, in effect, what Ezekiel’s contemporaries were saying to God by using the parable about the fathers having eaten sour grapes and the children having their teeth set on edge. As they suffered the discipline of God in Exile, their first response was, “This is not our fault,” which in turn led logically to the accusation, “God, that’s not fair.” Ezekiel’s response is to affirm that, along with previous generations, it is indeed their fault. It is not God’s unfairness but their sin that is the problem. They are simply in denial about the true nature of their case. But Ezekiel doesn’t take away their excuses in order to leave them crushed under the full impact of God’s law. He pleads with them even now to turn and live.
Prayer: Pray for your workplace or school that the LORD’s name would be hallowed there.
Thursday (3/2) Read and discuss 1 John 3:11-18. Do we walk the walk or do we just talk the talk? The answer to that question depends entirely upon whom we love. Cain loved himself. He couldn’t stand the idea that his brother would somehow be more acceptable or more honored before the LORD than he was. Faced with God’s own call for him to repent, Cain chose to kill his brother out of envy rather than to humble himself before God. Now it might be tempting to be grateful that we are not like that. Few of us will ever kill our brother the way Cain did. So, grading on a curve, maybe we are not doing so bad. That is one of the services provided by Adolf Hitler to fallen humanity – each rebellious sinner can say: “Well, I’m not as bad as Hitler.” But John won’t let us off the hook so easily. First of all, God doesn’t grade on a curve. Secondly, John puts the questions squarely in front of us: “Do you really love your brother?” John takes us back to the only Person who has ever fully loved in this way. John writes, “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” As dramatic as actually laying down our life for our brothers might be, in one sense taking this command only in a woodenly literal sense lets us largely off the hook. After all, there are not likely to be many (probably not any) times in your life when either you must die or your brother or sister in Christ must die. John speaks of this dramatic act of love as a way of introducing the challenging reality of sharing our material goods with our brothers and sisters who are in need. How do we love in deed and in truth? Sometimes it is simply with a bag of groceries or a blanket. Read or sing Hymn 524 “Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would build up this local body.
Friday (3/3) Read and discuss Genesis 37:12-36. Tremper Longman writes:
Right from the beginning of the Joseph narrative we have witnessed the tremendous envy that the brothers feel toward Joseph. Joseph has something that they desire: their father’s special love. We have already described the wrongness of Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph. In a word, it elicits the envy of the brothers toward Joseph.
What is envy but “the desire for what another has that we don’t have. It is resentful desire (Allender and Longman).” The brothers certainly resent Joseph, and they do so obsessively. They can’t get him and his privileged family life out of [their minds]. …
The brother’s envy-driven rage toward Joseph is obvious, but what about toward God? While it is not as clearly articulated as it is in the story of Cain and Abel, we see it in the brothers’ unwillingness to control their hatred toward their brother. They are not content with what God has given them and so they lack trust in God and use malicious means in order to remove the source of their envy. …
How do we handle envy then? Again, we turn to the psalmist for an answer. The composer of Psalm 73 wrote the song after he had come to grips with his envy. After all, the psalm begins with “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (73:1). The latter part of the psalm explains that his obsessively envious heart was calmed by going into the presence of God. He goes to the sanctuary, where during the Old Testament period, God made his special presence known, and he realized that God was with him and that the prosperity of the wicked was only apparent and short lived, not real.
Those of us who live in the twenty-first century encounter many things that can evoke our envy. We are exposed to the lives of the rich and powerful on television shows; constant advertisements play on our desires for more and better luxury items. No matter how much money and how many possessions we have, there is always an appetite for more. Like the psalmist we need to go into he presence of God and have our priorities corrected. If we have a vibrant relationship with God what else do we need?
Prayer: Ask the LORD to root envy out of your life.
Saturday (3/4) Read and discuss John 9:1-7. Chuck Swindoll writes:
As soon as Jesus finished correcting the faulty theology of His disciples, He declared, “I am the Light of the world,” and then He gave the man sight. He spat on the ground, mixed it with the substance of man’s creation (Gen. 2:7), and then smeared the clay over this man’s eyes. In this one act, Jesus asserted His authority over disabilities, sin, bad theology, religion, the temple, the Sabbath, and even the religious authorities who opposed Him. And he had this opportunity because an infant came into the world decades earlier without the ability to see.
Read or sing Hymn: 386 “God Be With You Til We Meet Again” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.