Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 28 May 2017 Sunday, May 21 2017 

MVOPC 28 May 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 55 “To God Be the Glory”

Confession of Sin

Most merciful God, Who are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and hast promised forgiveness to all those who confess and forsake their sins;  We come before You with a humble sense of our own unworthiness, acknowledging our manifold transgressions of Your righteous laws.  But, O gracious Father, Who desires not the death of a sinner, look upon us, we beseech You, in mercy, and forgive us all our transgressions.  Make us deeply sensible of the great evil of them;  And work in us a hearty contrition;  That we may obtain forgiveness at Your hands, Who are ever ready to receive humble and penitent sinners; for the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, our only Savior and Redeemer.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 1:16-17

Hymn of Preparation:  347 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 56:1-8

New Covenant Reading: John 11:45-57

Sermon: High Priests False and True

Hymn of Response: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 6:9–22

NT: 1 Peter 3:18–22

Salvation through Suffering

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #96

Q. What is the Lord’s supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

Suggested Preparations 

Monday (5/22) Read and discuss John 11:45-57.  Chuck Swindoll writes:

As a young man, I listened with great confusion to sermons and lessons on the life of Jesus and the conspiracy to kill Him. I couldn’t understand why anyone would murder the Son of God, unless genuine ignorance or out-and-out insanity had clouded his or her vision. I even wondered, If the Lord had spoken to them just one more time, maybe – just maybe – they would have seen their error. Perhaps one more miracle might help them see the truth; a great, collective “ah-ha” would precede their profound apologies and complete acceptance of Him as their long-awaited Messiah.

 When I outgrew the callow innocence of youth, I accepted a sad, yet all-too-common reality: some people don’t want the truth. The lies they tell themselves make the world theirs to control. At least, that’s what they’ve worked hard to believe. And they will destroy anyone who threatens to tear their fantasy worlds apart, because they are terrified to face the truth that we are, in fact, powerless.

Can there be a more senseless lie than the one we tell ourselves?

In describing the last days of Jesus’ public ministry in Jerusalem, John’s matter-of-fact tone underscores a terrifying reality. The religious leaders had willfully rejected the truth of Jesus Christ, so He gave them over to their self-delusion. Theologians call this “judicial abandonment.” This tough-love decision on part of God is not a passive releasing but an active “giving over” for the purpose of redemption. When the LORD hands someone over to his or her sin, you can be sure of this: the consequences are grave. It is a defining moment in which a person will either break down in repentance, or remain stubbornly rebellious, even in the face of damnation.

By way of application, I have only one point: Seek the truths you most fear to find; they hold the greatest promise of freedom.

Read or sing 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Pray for Dan as he spends a week studying with Professor Chad Van Dixhorn at our denomination’s ministerial training institute.

Tuesday (5/23) Read and discuss John 11:28-44.  In verse 33 we are told that Jesus was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. What does it mean that Jesus was “deeply moved in his spirit.” For some reason, most English translations leave this rather vague. We could easily imagine that Jesus was deeply moved, perhaps, with deep compassion for Mary, Martha, and even for the crowd. But that is not what this expression means. The Greek word is never used of compassion. In extra-biblical Greek, the term is used to describe the snorting of horses who are preparing for battle. When it is applied “to human beings, it [always] suggests anger or outrage.” … Jesus is seriously angry, but the question is … “Angry at what?” Nobody can explain this any better than the great Princeton scholar, B.B. Warfield. Warfield writes:

It is death that is the object of [Christ’s] wrath, and behind death him who has the power of death, and whom He has come into the world to destroy. Tears of sympathy may fill His eyes, but this is incidental. His soul is held by rage: and He advances to the tomb, in Calvin’s words … “as a champion who prepares for conflict.’ The raising of Lazarus thus becomes, not an isolated marvel, but … a decisive instance and open symbol of Jesus’ conquest of death and hell. What John does for us in this particular statement is to uncover to us the heart of Jesus, as He wins for us our salvation. Not in cold unconcern, but in flaming wrath against the foe, Jesus smites [death] on our behalf.”

Read or sing Hymn 347 “The Church’s One Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus has triumphed over death on behalf of all His people.

Wednesday (5/24) Read and discuss Isaiah 56:1-8.  This portion of Isaiah comes after the promise of the coming Suffering Savior who will bear the sins of God’s people (see especially Isaiah 53).  According to Isaiah 56:1-2, how should people respond to this announcement of amazing grace? Have you ever been concerned that you are an outsider and not worthy of full membership into God’s family? This has been a common concern among Gentile converts throughout History.  What assurance does the LORD give to us in verses 3-7 that we really do belong in His household of faith? Paul picks up on this theme in Ephesians 2:13 where he writes: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Praise God! According to Isaiah 56:8, what sort of people is the LORD gathering into His Kingdom? There are two groups: (1) the outcasts of Israel; and (2) “others”. Ironically, Jesus was frequently accused of being a friend of Israel’s outcasts – as though this was a mark against Him. If only Christ’s accusers realized that He was fulfilling this very verse from Isaiah by doing so. It is worth noticing that verse 8 concludes with God’s commitment to gather still others to Him. The Church has sometimes presented God as off in a distance while we engage in missionary activity.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Verse 8 reminds us that we have been redeemed by and serve a missionary God. Prayer: Ask the LORD to cause you to walk more closely with Him.

Thursday (5/25) Read and discuss Genesis 6:9–22. Jeff Niehaus writes:

The flood has an end in two senses. It has an end or goal in view: the extermination of all God’s foes and of the environmental system (the world) that sustained them. But it also has an end in the sense that it comes to an end. And when it does, the dry land emerges once again, just as it did in Genesis 1. The parallel is real and not merely literary. When God brought the Flood, he returned the globe to a pre-emergent state – that is, the state in which it found itself before God caused the dry land to emerge from the waters. Only after the land emerged did life appear on it. By bringing the Flood, God has reversed the condition of the earth and made it what it originally was. So now, again, there are no land creatures in existence except for Noah “and those with him in the ark” (Gen. 7:23). When God causes dry land to reemerge from a global ocean, it will be an act of recreation, a making of a new earth, and this act is introduced with an evocative term: “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded” (Gen 8:1). The term for wind here is the word that can also mean “spirit/Spirit”, and it appears in the creation account when the “Spirit from God hovered over the face of the deep before God separated the land from the water (Gen. 1:2). The narrative seems to allude to God’s original act and thereby indicate the “new creation” aspect of the Flood waters’ retreat.

Read or sing Hymn 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name” Prayer: Please lift up brothers and sisters at Immanuel Chapel our OPC congregation in Upton, MA.

Friday (5/26) Read and 1 Peter 3:18–22. Karen Jobes writes:

Although 3:18-22 ranges through several topics – from Christ’s resurrection to his victory over the spirits to Noah’s flood to Christian baptism and its moral imperative – the unity of the passage rests on Christology in relation to God’s people. … Dalton helpfully outlines the logic of the theology found in this difficult passage:

  1. First stage: By water God saves … Noah and his family from the evil world which lies under the domination of evil spirits. Unbelievers and their angelic instigators are punished.
  2. Second stage: God’s definitive act of salvation is done through the passion and resurrection of Christ. … As the risen Lord, Christ proclaims the definitive defeat of the evil spirits.
  3. Third stage: By water, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God saves the Christian believer from the evil world. … The evil world, which does not believe and cannot be baptized, is doomed to condemnation.
  4. Fourth stage: The Christian suffering persecution from the pagan world is confident because he knows that it has no power over him: the evil angelic forces behind it have been overthrown.

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers in Indonesia that they would be bold to share their faith in the midst of very challenging circumstances.

Saturday (5/27) Read and discuss John 11:45-57. R.C. Sproul writes:

Several years ago, I was asked to serve on a presbytery commission charged with investigating a conflict that was threatening to split a local church. The chairman of the commission said, “Let’s interview the pastor, the assistant pastor, the elders, and some people from the congregation.” When we had done all that and had reviewed our notes, he said: “There’s real conflict in this church. First, we need to come up with a solution that will protect the pastor, the assistant pastor, all the elders, and these members of the congregation. Is there anything else we are supposed to do?” I said, “Yes, our primary task is to administer justice according to truth and to grace, and not just to make a decision designed to keep everybody happy. That’s not going to happen anyway.” I believe we as a commission were in danger of falling prey to the spirit of pragmatism and expediency that has been in the heart of human beings from the beginning.

Do you realize how much like Caiaphas we are? We often make decisions out of fear. We don’t want to be nonconformists; we don’t want to have people think that we’re marching to a different drumbeat; we don’t want to provoke the hostility of the world. So we remain silent. …

Every time the gospel has been proclaimed boldly and accurately in church history, there has been persecution. Every time the church speaks out to confront ungodliness in the culture, there is a backlash. I have no desire to go looking for persecution and conflict, but the fact that I live so free of persecution makes me question my commitment to the things of God. I don’t like conflict, but I hate to stand among people like Caiaphas.

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 21 May 2017 Sunday, May 14 2017 

MVOPC 21 May 2017

Call to Worship: 95:1-7

Opening Hymn: 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”

Confession of Sin

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men;  We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have  committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Your Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Your wrath and indignation against us.  We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings;  The remembrance of them is grievous unto us;  The burden of them is intolerable.  Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;  For Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past;  And grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please You in newness of life, To the honor and glory of Your name;  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Hymn of Preparation:  84 “Under the Care of My God, the Almighty”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 49:8-18

New Covenant Reading: John 11:28-44

Sermon: Joy Comes in the Morning

Hymn of Response: 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

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

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 7:1–17

NT: 1 Peter 3:13–17

Christian Witness

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School Today

Shorter Catechism Q/A #95

Q. To whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/15) Read and discuss John 11:28-44.  N.T. Wright comments:

“He has borne our griefs,’ said the prophet, ‘and carried our sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus doesn’t sweep into the scene (as we might have supposed, and as later Christians inventing such a story would almost certainly have told us) and declare that tears are beside the point, that Lazarus is not dead, only asleep. Even though, as his actions and words will shortly make clear, Jesus has no doubt what he will do, and what his father will do through him, there is no sense of triumphalism, of someone coming in smugly with the secret formula that will show how clever he is. There is, rather, the man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief and pain, sharing and bearing it to the point of tears.

Read or sing 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Indonesia who are facing hostility and even persecution from the Muslim population and government.

Tuesday (5/16) Read and discuss John 11:17-27.  This is a beautiful and stunning passage. Jesus reveals to Martha that the resurrection is not only an event it is a person. Jesus says: “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” But what exactly does it mean for Jesus to be the resurrection? One way to get out this is to think about Christ’s own resurrection from the dead. Why didn’t Jesus remain dead after He died? There are several good answers to this question, but allow me to highlight just one: The letter to the Hebrews points out that Jesus became our Great High Priest, not on the basis of his ancestry, but because He intrinsically had an indestructible life. That is, Jesus was not only truly man He was also truly God. Peter also proclaims this truth at Pentecost where he tells the crowd that:

God raised [Jesus] up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Once we realize that Jesus is truly God that makes complete sense. God cannot be destroyed. God cannot be conquered by death. But here is the astonishing thing that Jesus is telling Martha: Jesus is telling Martha that this isn’t just true about Him. Because Jesus came to identify with His people, it is true of every person who places his or her trust in Him. When, by God’s grace, you place your trust in Jesus Christ – you are vitally and permanently united with Jesus, … so that His life becomes your life. Just as it was not possible for death to hold Jesus – it is now no longer possible for death to maintain its grip upon you. Think about it this way. If Jesus holds you in His hands, and death holds you in its hands, it is death whose grip must be broken … for Jesus will never let you go. Read or sing Hymn 84 “Under the Care of My God, the Almighty” Prayer: Give thanks that nothing can separate you from the love of God which is yours in Christ Jesus your Lord.

Wednesday (5/17) Read and discuss Isaiah 49:8-18.  R. Reed Lessing writes:

In 49:9-12, the message of redemption continues with the Servant’s release of prisoners. He will lead them back from all directions. While the specific word “shepherd” is not used, the words, “feed,” “pasture,” “lead,” and “guide” make it clear that the Servant is depicted as a Shepherd.

And this implies that the Israelites were like stray sheep. Sheep are not intimidating creatures; truth be told, sheep are dumb. They graze on the same hills until those hills turn to desert wastes; they bend down to drink from a pond get too close and allow the water to absorb into their wool, fall in, and drown! Sheep are also dirty. Their wool is like a magnet. It attracts mud, manure, and maggots and becomes caked with dirt, decay, and disease. Sheep absorb every particle of filth in the atmosphere. Finally, sheep are defenseless. They sometimes roll over onto their backs, but then are unable to get up. Canines, coyotes, and cougars all know that a cast sheep is a sitting duck.

Israel had been just like sheep. The nation was dumb. “The ox knows its owner, the donkey the manger of its master, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (1:3). Israel was also dirty. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a filthy garment” (64:6). And the nation was defenseless. “From the sole of the foot to the head, there is in it no soundness, [instead] a bruise and a stripe and a wound” (1:6). This is not only a portrait of Israel. “All of us like sheep wandered away; each one to his way we turned” (53:6).

And so we need an extraordinary Shepherd. Enter the Servant! He leads his flock to find food on barren heights (49:9), and in the hottest of weather, he gives his sheep unlimited water (49:10). Their path is straight (49:11) despite the hilly country where sheep usually graze. The Servant even has the ability to tend a large number of sheep that are drawn from great distances (49:12).

Discussion Question: Discuss some of the ways in which Jesus is this Good Shepherd for His people. Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you more prompt and sincere in how you follow your Good Shepherd.

Thursday (5/18) Read and discuss Psalm 7:1–17. James Montgomery Boice writes:

The second half of Psalm 7 (vv. 10-17) is an expression of David’s deep confidence in God. It expresses thoughts not much different from what he has said in several preceding psalms and will say many more times in those that follow.

David says that God will protect him, being his shield against foes; God is righteous, expressing his wrath against evil every day; God will judge his accusers if they do not repent; and God has arranged things so that evil eventually brings judgment on itself. For this latter assertion, he employs a bold image later use by the apostle James, saying that the wicked conceive trouble, become pregnant with evil, and eventually give birth to disillusionment (v. 14; cf. James 1:15). He adds that the wicked dig a hole to trap others but eventually fall into it themselves.

The psalm’s last words say, “I will give thanks to the LORD because of His [that is God’s, not David’s] righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most High.”

Read or sing Hymn 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise” Prayer: Pray for the young people of our congregation (and their parents!) as they transition from the Spring semester into Summer work and other activities.

Friday (5/19) Read and 1 Peter 3:13–17. Stephen Motyer writes:

These verses are among the most difficult in the whole New Testament, because Peter refers to traditions and stories obviously familiar to his readers, but unfortunately not to us. Yet the overall message is clear. Peter tells us that if we are called to suffer for what is right, we must look to Jesus, who suffered for our sins and through that suffering has come to a place of supreme authority, raised over all the powers of evil that seem so overwhelming to the persecuted Asian Christians. Jesus suffered, though he was righteous and if we will now set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts and follow in his footsteps we can be delivered from the fear of our persecutors, confident that through suffering we will share his victory. In the meantime we must bear witness to our hope, by both word and deed, remembering that our baptism was our pledge to God to live with good consciences before him.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to bless the Officers Retreat that is taking place tonight and tomorrow at Camp Shiloh in NH.

Saturday (5/20) Read and discuss John 11:28-44. Gary Burge writes:

Lazarus was buried in a typical first-century stone tomb. Since these were designed for multiple burials there would be no difficulty reopening it if sufficient help was available. Again, we are given a second confirmation that Lazarus is dead, this time in graphic terms. But this does not deter Jesus. As his feeding miracle demonstrated that he was the bread of life, and as his healing of the blind illustrated that he was the light of the world, so now he will prove that he is the resurrection and the life.

All that Jesus does has one aim: to promote the glory of God. His audible prayer heard here serves this purpose. Jesus is no miracle worker with simple powerful feats at his disposal. His deeds are signs which promote belief. They reveal something of God’s presence at work and they illumine Christ as God’s divine agent.

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 14 May 2017 Sunday, May 7 2017 

MVOPC 14 May 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 57 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul”

Confession of Sin

O great and everlasting God, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Who searches and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart;  We confess that we have not loved You with all our heart, nor with all our soul, nor with all our mind, nor with all our strength;  Nor our neighbors as ourselves.  We have loved what we ought not to have loved;  We have coveted what is not ours;  We have not been content with Your provisions for us.  We have complained in our hearts about our family, about our friends, about our health, about our occupations, about Your church, and about our trials.  We have sought our security in those things which perish, rather than in You, the Everlasting God.  Chasten, cleanse, and forgive us, through Jesus Christ, who is able for all time to save us who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Matthew 1:18-21

Hymn of Preparation:  65 “Before Jehovah’s Awesome Throne”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 118:14-29

New Covenant Reading: John 11:17-27

Sermon: I Am the Resurrection and the Life

Hymn of Response: 642 “Be Thou My Vision”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 308 “Jesus Paid It All”

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 34:1–22

NT: 1 Peter 3:8–12

The Blessed Life

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #94

Q. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/8) Read and discuss John 11:17-27.  R.C. Sproul writes:

The day before I preached on this passage at St. Andrew’s, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas while heading for a landing here in Central Florida. All seven astronauts aboard were killed. I watched television coverage of the tragedy for hour after hour that day, but the same picture was shown over and over again. It was the image of the spacecraft disintegrating and leaving a trail of smoke in the air. I couldn’t help thinking what a catastrophe this was for the families of the people who had been instantly destroyed, but I also thought that if there were believers among the crew members, just as quickly as they died, they were in heaven. If they were believers, they could not die. Yes, they died biologically, but biological death doesn’t disturb the continuity of living, personal existence for God’s people in the slightest. This is what Jesus said. Once a person believes in Christ, the life of Christ is poured into the soul of that person, and that life is eternal. We’re never going to die. We may go through the transition of physical death, but that death cannot destroy the life that Christ has given to us.

Read or sing 57 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Venezuela as their nation’s economy continues to crumble.

Tuesday (5/9) Read and discuss John 11:1-16.  How are we to respond to the truths which we see and hear in verses 1-15? Thomas shows us the way in verse 16. Thomas has unfairly come to be known as “Doubting Thomas” but he is not doubting here. Look at verse 16 with me:

So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

What’s he saying? Please don’t blame Thomas for not understanding what Jesus was about to do. Nobody but Jesus knew what Jesus was about to do. In that respect, Thomas is in exactly the same boat that you are as you pour out your prayers to God over the most painful matters of your life. Don’t blame Thomas for not understanding what Jesus was about to do. But do pay attention to both what Thomas says and does: Thomas risks his life and limb by going to Jerusalem again in order to cling to Jesus. That’s what walking by faith actually looks like. Please remember that the situation was every bit as dangerous as the Disciples thought it was. This chapter begins with Jesus in the wilderness and it will end with the High Priest declaring “that it was better for One man to die for the people, than that they whole nation should perish.” Following Jesus is a daring and dangerous business; and yet, paradoxically, that is the only place where you can ultimately be secure. When we cling to Jesus we are clinging to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. Read or sing Hymn 65 “Before Jehovah’s Awesome Throne” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you a courageous man or woman of God.

Wednesday (5/10) 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 Jesus was willing to be rejected by men so that we would never be forsaken by God.

Thursday (5/11) Read and discuss Psalm 34:1–22. Alec Motyer writes:

The heading throws an interesting light on Psalm 34. It agrees with 1 Samuel in attributing David’s escape from the Philistines to his clever stratagem of pretending to be deranged. In this it contrasts sharply with content of the psalm, but in a way which is both easy and fascinating to explain. One does not need much imagination to think what a good story David would have made of his pretending loopiness, and how he fooled his way out of danger in Gath. So think of him recounting his cleverness yet once more, when suddenly it came over him that in face there was a ‘real’ story hidden inside the ‘good’ story – a real story of prayer made and prayer answered. Yes, he had played the madman, yes he had written up insulting graffiti about Achish on the doors, yes he had made his personal behavior unacceptable, but he had also prayed, he had also looked ceaselessly to Yahweh. He had looked, he had cried out, he had found his God to be near at hand in the hour of terror – and wasn’t that the real story? Wasn’t that what he ought to be telling his friends? Not boosting his own cleverness telling the tale, … [For] there is no situation from which the ‘downtrodden’ – those at the bottom of life’s heap – cannot cry out and be heard, because Yahweh’s eye never flickers from watching over His servants, His ear is ever open to their cry. There is no situation where He is anything but ‘near’ (18), with his mobile home pitched alongside so as always to be with us (7). There is no situation where his face is not set against our adversaries to cut them down (16). The life-changing way is to look to him (5), to taste the sweet savor of His goodness (8), to “Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear …” The story within the story is the one to listen to, and it is written for our learning in Psalm 34.

Read or sing Hymn 642 “Be Thou My Vision” Prayer: Please lift up the graduating students from Westminster Seminary in California that they would find fruit fields in which to labor.

Friday (5/12) Read and 1 Peter 3:8–12. Karen Jobes writes:

The command to return blessing and good for insult and evil is truly a call to a transformed character: It is the character of a people who refuse to allow their enemies to define them but who seek their definition in Christ. It may be possible to clench our teeth and do something good for someone who has insulted and hurt us, all the while bearing ill will toward them in our hearts. But as Piper points out, this would not be true obedience to 3:9, for “one cannot truly bless while inwardly desiring someone’s hurt.” He diagnoses the problem of harboring ill will as a failure to hope fully in the life transforming grace of Jesus Christ by reverting back to ungodly attitudes. The command of 3:9 calls us not to a legalistic and begrudging compliance but to a confidence in the transforming power of the new birth, which allows Christians in all sincerity to speak and act toward adversaries from a heart that truly desires their blessedness.

When faced with unjust insult and evil, Peter’s readers must decide whether to respond in kind out of the old nature and perpetuate strife or to demonstrate the power of God’s grace through radically new conduct. Although Pete is primarily addressing insults and verbal abuse coming from those outside the church, sadly all too often members within the Christian community become entangled in the downward spiral of insult for insult and evil for evil. The psalm cited is a reminder that God’s face has always been against all who do evil, whether that evil is perpetrated by members of the covenant community or by those outside. Therefore, the Christian’s choice in how to respond to others in every situation is a choice whether to be blessed by God or opposed by God. Each such choice is a microcosm of life or death.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to work in your heart so that you would come to respond with grace to those who seek to harm you.

Saturday (5/13) Read and discuss John 11:17-27. N.T. Wright comments:

[Jesus] points [Martha] to the future. ‘Your brother will rise again.’ She knows, as well as Jesus does, that this is standard Jewish teaching. (Some Jews, particularly the Sadducees, didn’t believe in a future resurrection, but at this period most Jews did, following Daniel 12:3 and other key Old Testament passages.) They shared the vision of Isaiah 65 and 66: a vision of new heavens and new earth, God’s whole new world, a world like ours only with its beauty and power enhanced and its pain, ugliness and grief abolished. Within that new world, they believed, all God’s people from ancient times to the present would be given new bodies, to share and relish the life of the new creation.

Martha believes this, but her rather flat response in verse 24 shows that it isn’t at the moment very comforting. But she isn’t prepared for Jesus’ response. The future has burst into the present. The new creation, and with it the resurrection, has come forward from the end of time into the middle of time. Jesus has not just come, as we sometimes say or sing, ‘from heaven to earth’; it is equally true to say that he has come from God’s future into the present, into the mess and muddle of the world we know. ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ he says. ‘Resurrection’ isn’t just a doctrine. It isn’t a future fact. It’s a person, and here he is standing in front of Martha, teasing her to make the huge jump of trust and hope.

Read or sing Hymn 308 “Jesus Paid It All” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 7 May 2017 Sunday, Apr 30 2017 

MVOPC 7 May 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 34 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Confession of Sin

Almighty and most merciful Father;  We have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep.  We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.  We have offended against Your holy laws.  We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.  And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;  and there is no health in us.  But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.  Spare those, O God, who confess their faults.  Restore those who are penitent;  According to Your promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And grant, O most merciful Father;  For His sake;  That we may hereby live a godly, righteous, and sober life;  To the glory of Your holy name.  Amen

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 103:17-18

Hymn of Preparation:  92 “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 56:1-13

New Covenant Reading: John 11:1-16

Sermon: Christ and the Suffering of His Sheep

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

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 34:1–22

NT: 1 Peter 3:8–12

The Blessed Life

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #93

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A. The sacraments of the New Testament are baptism and the Lord’s supper.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/1) Read and discuss John 11:1-16.  Commenting on verses 14 and 15, Leon Morris writes:

Jesus removes their uncertainty and says plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” The aorist tense, which incidentally is somewhat abrupt, indicates that the action has taken place; “Lazarus died” gives the sense of it. We might contrast the perfect tense in verse 11, where the continuing state is meant. This statement of Jesus implies supernatural knowledge. The messengers had spoken only of illness, and there was no other human source of information.

Yet Jesus sees this as a matter for rejoicing. We should not take this too calmly, for “The same shock that the disciples would have felt we also are intended to feel, when we hear Jesus say, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I rejoice’ (Abbott).” He is aware of what he will do and he has already said that the death of Lazarus is “for God’s glory.” Now he says that his joy is for the disciples, “so that you may believe.” … Without a doubt they were already “believers.” Yet their faith was not strong, for at the critical hour they were all to forsake him. The meaning will be that faith is progressive. There are new depths of faith to be plumbed, new heights of faith to be scaled. The raising of Lazarus will have a profound effect on them and give their faith a content that it did not have before. Faith will be strengthened. “But” will connect with “I was not there.” Jesus had not been there when Lazarus died but now he calls on his followers to accompany him to the place.

Read or sing 34 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Please pray for the people of North Korea that the gospel would bring reformation to this oppressed and impoverished people. Pray, too, for peace on the Korean peninsula.

Tuesday (5/2) Read and discuss 1 Samuel 12:1-25.  Rick Philips writes:

We might honor Samuel’s legacy by recounting all the things that made him great. But a better way to honor him would be to look through him to see reasons why Jesus Christ is a better Savior, King, and Mediator, in whom we may find all that we need for the eternal salvation of our souls.

First, while the people asked Samuel to mediate on their behalf with God, we have the privilege of approaching God’s throne through the mediation of Jesus. For all his virtue, Samuel remained a sinner; even he could not ultimately stand before God on his own merits. … Jesus is no mere holy man; he is the God-man. Immanuel, which means “God with us,” God the Son who took up flesh to bring his people to God. By virtue of who Christ is and what he has done, Paul states, “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the one completely sinless man, who does not need his own Savior before the holy law of God, and who as the Son of God is therefore able to offer his death for the forgiveness of everyone who believes in him and calls on God’s name through his salvation.

Second, Jesus is a better mediator than Samuel because he never grows old and feeble. Under Israel’s monarchy, even the best of kings grew old and ultimately died, so the people had to tremble at what awaited under the new regime. But the kingdom of God knows no such anxiety. Jesus our King, who died for our sins, has risen from the grave into eternal resurrection life. The writer of Hebrews thus exults that Jesus’ priesthood is eternal, and the same is true of his offices as Prophet and as King; he reigns “permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Read or sing Hymn 92 “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for you and for all of His sheep.

Wednesday (5/3) Read and discuss Psalm 56:1-13.  Allen P. Ross writes:

The setting in this psalm is a serious crisis that would ordinarily strike fear in the heart. But the psalmist, even though persecuted and mortally threatened, knows that God is for him because he has God’s word on it and because God has determined to destroy the wicked. Likewise, all who trust in God find confidence in his word that promises protection from their oppression and deliverance from their presence, now in part but ultimately for good. The promises of God rightly apprehended cast out fear: if people trust in God, what can mortal flesh do to them?

Accordingly, believers can pray with confidence for God’s will to be done, that is, to bring the world’s oppression to an end, and in their confident faith they can plan to praise him for doing it so that they can live their lives in his full blessing. …

In the New Testament, Jesus said not to fear those who may have power over the body, but fear God instead. Such obedient faith in the LORD is the only hope people have, for God cares for his people and will deliver them from the bondage of the world. Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Believers then should not live in fear, but in hope, praising God for his word, praying for his gracious intervention on their behalf, and anticipating the glorious future in his presence.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to increase your confidence in Him and that He is a God who delights to answer the prayers of His people.

Thursday (5/4) Read and discuss Psalm 34:1–22. James Montgomery Boice writes:

The very last section of the psalm is a summary, extending (in the New International Version) over four short stanzas (vv. 15-22). These verses introduce a contrast, not yet mentioned, between those who are righteous and turn to the LORD and those who do evil. We are told that the “eyes” and “ears” of the LORD are toward the righteous, to see their distress and hear their cries, but that the “face” of the LORD is against evildoers.

The earlier parts of this psalm are so well known that it is easy to pass over these last verses. But they are profound in two ways and so deserve at least equal notice.

First, they present a mature and very balanced view of life, pointing to the deliverance God provides for those who fear him but not overlooking the fact that, in spite of God’s favor, the righteous nevertheless do frequently suffer in this life. David himself had troubles; the psalm is a hymn of praise to God or delivering him out of them. So becoming a Christian does not mean a trouble-free existence. P. C. Cragie writes, “The fear of the LORD is indeed not a guarantee that lie will be always easy. … It may mend the broken heart, but it does not prevent the heart from being broken; it may restore the spiritually crushed, but it does not crush the forces that may create oppression.” Deliverance is one thing. Exemption from trouble is another.

Second, in the last stanza the psalm moves beyond mere deliverance or blessing in this life to speak of death and, by implication, also of life beyond the grave. In this context it speaks of redemption and deliverance from God’s final condemnation or judgment (vv. 21-22).

This points us to the ultimate fulfillment of these promises in the gospel. Deliverance here is good. But what is essential is deliverance from eternal punishment due us for our sins, and for that deliverance we must look to Jesus Christ. The first part of verse 22 says, “The LORD redeems his servants,” How? By the death and resurrection of Christ. The second half says, no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” Why not? Because Jesus has taken that condemnation in our place.

Read or sing Hymn 610 “‘Take Up Your Cross,’ The Savior Said” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation.

Friday (5/5) Read and 1 Peter 3:8–12. Commenting on verse 12, Calvin writes:

It ought to be a consolation to us, enough to mitigate all evils, that we are looked upon by the LORD, so that He will bring us help in due time. The meaning then is that the prosperity which he has mentioned depends on the protection of God. Unless the LORD cares for His people, they would be like sheep exposed to the prey of wolves. The fact that we raise storms in teacups, that we suddenly flare up in anger, and that we burn with the passion of revenge, all happens because we do not remember that God cares for us, and because we do not rely on His aid. We shall be taught patience in vain unless our minds are first steeped in this truth, that God exercises such care for us, and He will in due time succor us. On the contrary, when we are fully persuaded that God defends the cause of the righteous, we shall first give our minds simply to innocence, and then, when we are molested and hated by the ungodly, we shall flee to the protection of God.

Prayer: Pray for someone that you know is hurting or struggling with the pains of this world that he or she would find wonderful consolation in knowing that the LORD defends the cause of the righteous.

Saturday (5/6) Read and discuss John 11:1-16. N.T. Wright comments:

This story is all about the ways in which Jesus surprises people and overturns their expectations. He didn’t go when the sisters asked him. He did eventually go, although the disciples warned him not to. He spoke about ‘sleep,’ meaning death, and the disciples thought he meant ordinary sleep. And, in the middle (verse 9), he told them a strange little saying that people who walk in the daytime don’t trip up, but people who walk around in the darkness do. What did he mean?

He seems to have meant that the only way to know where you were going was to follow him. If you try to steer your course by your own understanding, you’ll trip up, because you’ll be in the dark. But if you stick close to him, and see the situation from his point of view, then, even if it means days and perhaps years of puzzlement, wondering why nothing seems to be happening, you will come out at the right place in the end.

Read or sing Hymn 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 30 April 2017 Sunday, Apr 23 2017 

MVOPC 30 April 2017 – The Rev. Stephen Migotsky Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 76 “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”

Confession of Sin

O eternal God and merciful Father, we humble ourselves before your great majesty, against which we have frequently and grievously sinned.  We acknowledge that we deserve nothing less than eternal death, that we are unclean before you and children of wrath.  We continually transgress your commandments, failing to do what you have commanded, and doing that which you have expressly forbidden.  We acknowledge our waywardness, and are heartily sorry for all our sins.  We are not worthy to be called your children, nor to lift up our eyes heavenward to you in prayer.  Nevertheless, O Lord God and gracious Father, we know that your mercy toward those who turn to you is infinite; and so we take courage to call upon you, trusting in our Mediator Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Forgive all our sins for Christ’s sake.  Cover us with his innocence and righteousness, for the glory of your name.  Deliver our understanding from all blindness, and our hearts from all willfulness and rebellion, we pray through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Proverbs 28:13

Hymn of Preparation:  105 “O God, We Praise Thee”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 63

New Covenant Reading: Luke 13:1-13

Sermon: Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

Hymn of Response: 331 “Come O Come Thou Quickening Spirit”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 295 “Crown Him with Many Crowns”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 18:1-21

NT: 1 Peter 3:1-7

Peace in the House

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #92

Q. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (4/24) Read and discuss Luke 13:1-13.  David Garland writes:

Jesus’ original audience may have been shocked and baffled by his threat that Israel, not Rome or its government, will be held accountable for their sins and is destined for judgment lest they repent. Today, “sin and judgment” are less familiar concepts but no less unpopular. The idea of a “judgement day” sounds so “judgmental.” Consequently, people today will be equally shocked and baffled by being characterized as sinners destined for judgment. They do not feel a need to confront their own sinfulness and therefore have no compunction that will lead them to change their orientation and behavior. They may also feel it is unfair when God lets bad things happened to “good” people and may contend that God one day will have to answer for this injustice. But they themselves do not feel that they need to answer for their own selfish rebellion against God or for their nonchalance toward God’s reign. Sometimes disasters can become wake-up calls to take stock and to repent.

Read or sing 76 “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” Prayer: Please pray for the Spring stated meeting of Presbytery as it begins this afternoon at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Tuesday (4/25) Read and discuss John 10:22-42. Commenting on verses 40 through 42, Leon Morris writes:

The change in scene did not mean a diminution of activity. If Jesus was no longer moving among the people, the people sought him out where he was. It is interesting that the reason they gave was the ministry of John the Baptist, for he has not been mentioned since 5:36, where his activity was spoken of as though already past. But his influence lived on. People still treasured his words, and acted on them. This final mention of John in this Gospel at the same time sounds a note of high praise and puts a definite stress on his subordinate position. It is high praise, for it affirms that his witness to Jesus was true, and true in its entirety. But there is subordination, for John did no miracle. His function was solely to bear witness to Jesus.

The result was that many came to believe on Jesus. The addition of “there” (NIV, “in that place”) is probably significant. It may envisage a process similar to that at Samaria. There the woman brought people to Jesus, but they believed, not because of her words, but because they heard Him themselves. So here John’s testimony led these people to seek out Jesus, but faith came because of their contact with the LORD. They believed, not at home reflecting on what John had said, but “there,” where Jesus was. The word may contain an implied contrast with Judea.

Read or sing Hymn 105 “O God, We Praise Thee” Prayer: Pray for Dan Borvan as he preaches at Presbytery today.

Wednesday (4/26) Read and discuss Psalm 63. Alec Motyer writes:

A sleepless night is just as much a gift of God as is a night’s sound sleep! Not that we usually look on it that way – but David did! Those ‘watches of the night’, so often occasions of restlessness, always times when the day’s ‘mole hills’ become mountains of anxiety, he turned into opportunities to muse about God (Psalm 63:6), and to come, not to a fresh place of worry, but to a fresh place of joy and all-around assurance (63:7-11). Silence – even before God – is not necessarily helpful. It depends on what we are doing with it, where our minds are. Left to themselves they flit hither and yon, and add to our restlessness. But learn from David. He lets us into his five leading thoughts: ‘my salvation (Psalm 62:1), the rock, top-security (62:2), hope (62:5), and refuge (62:7). From Psalm 63:7 we can add ‘such a help’ and the ‘shadow of your wings’. There’s a fruitful galaxy of thoughts for you. ‘Salvation’ leads our thoughts into the past, to the cross where Jesus died, the wonderful ‘one sacrifice for sins forever’ (Hebrews 10:12). … The ‘rock’ (which David mentions three times in Psalm 63) pictures permanence, stability – and the ‘smitten rock’, life-giving, of Exodus 17.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would help to build up this congregation of God’s people.

Thursday (4/27) Read and discuss Genesis 18:1-21. Iain Duguid writes:

Abraham is the only person in the Old Testament to receive the title “friend of God” (2 Chron 20:7; Isaiah 41:8). Striking, isn’t it? Abraham the failure became known as God’s friend. How did that happen? The answer is, as every Christian knows from his own experience, by the amazing grace of God. Only grace – free, undeserved grace – can enable an imperfect person to dwell in the presence of the perfect God. Only grace permits the unholy to approach the Most Holy and be called his friend. God’s relationship with those whom he has created is not limited to giving the distant, tolerant smile that you might bestow on an earnest, hard working spider. Rather, he wants to call us his friends. This is the astonishing message of the New Testament. The relationship that Abraham had with God in the Old Testament is now opened up to you and me. Jesus said to his disciples,

You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:14-15)

What’s so special about a friend? A friend is someone to whom you open your heart. A friend is someone who knows not just what you are doing, but why you are doing it. Abraham, the friend of God, was the man to whom God opened his heart and with whom he shared his thoughts.

Read or sing Hymn 331 “Come O Come Thou Quickening Spirit” Prayer: Thank God that because of His finished work Jesus now calls us His friends!

Friday (4/28) Read and 1 Peter 3:1-7. Simon Kistemaker offers the following practical considerations from verse 7:

If the husband is to be considerate of his wife, does this mean that he must speak a word of correction to her whenever this is necessary? Yes, indeed. Suppose that the wife accepts a certain doctrine that is contrary to the teaching of Scripture, should her husband instruct her “according to knowledge” (KJV)? Certainly. He is responsible to help her in understanding the message and the application of God’s word.

Even though the husband and wife are one (Gen. 2:24), the husband is not responsible for the sins of his wife, nor can she be held accountable for his sins. Nevertheless, both husband and wife have a responsibility to help each other withstand temptation, grow spiritually, love God, and serve him in church and society. The husband should give spiritual leadership in the home so that all the members of the family are able to develop their gifts harmoniously in the context of a Christian home.

Prayer: Please pray for the people of Venezuela who continue to suffer through terrible hardships. Ask the LORD to cause His people in Venezuela to share the only sure hope by speaking freely of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday (4/29) Read and discuss Luke 13:1-13. Tom Schreiner writes:

In 13:1-9 the necessity of repentance before the coming judgment continues as Luke’s theme. Pilate, probably at Passover, had some Galileans slaughtered while they were preparing their sacrifices. Apparently, those who told Jesus about this incident thought that the Galileans were executed because of sin. Jesus does not focus on the sin of the Galileans; instead, he uses the occasion to warn everyone that they too will perish without repentance. Jesus seizes on another example to make the same point (vv. 4-5). The tower of Siloam was probably part of the old wall in Jerusalem, near the juncture of the south and east walls. The accidental death of the eighteen was not due to any exceptional personal sin. … In the parable of the fig tree (vv. 6-9) the necessity of repentance before the crisis of the final judgment is underlined again. Executions and accidental deaths are not definitive signs of God’s judgment (vv. 1-5); but if an individual is not bearing fruit, then judgment is certain. God, however, patiently waits for fruit to appear, giving people every possible chance to produce fruit. Nevertheless, people cannot put off the day of judgment forever, idly think that it will never come (vv. 8-9).

Read or sing Hymn 295 “Crown Him with Many Crowns” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 23 April 2017 Sunday, Apr 16 2017 

MVOPC 23 April 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 2 “O Worship the King”

Confession of Sin

Most merciful God, Who are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and hast promised forgiveness to all those who confess and forsake their sins;  We come before You with a humble sense of our own unworthiness, acknowledging our manifold transgressions of Your righteous laws.  But, O gracious Father, Who desires not the death of a sinner, look upon us, we beseech You, in mercy, and forgive us all our transgressions.  Make us deeply sensible of the great evil of them;  And work in us a hearty contrition;  That we may obtain forgiveness at Your hands, Who are ever ready to receive humble and penitent sinners; for the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, our only Saviour and Redeemer.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 6:23

Hymn of Preparation:  103 “Holy God, We Praise Your Name”

Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 36:22-32

New Covenant Reading: John 10:22-42

Sermon: My Sheep Hear My Voice

Hymn of Response: 131 “Children of  the Heavenly Father”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 41:1-36

NT: Luke 12:35-46

Blessed Servants

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #91

Q. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (4/17) Read and discuss John 10:22-42.  R.C. Sproul writes:

Here is a very simple illustration of a biblical concept. A strong father is walking with his three-year-old son besides a dangerous railroad track. There are two ways the father can protect the son. He can reach out his hand and say to the little boy, “Now listen, son, hold on tightly to my hand, because if you let go you could fall onto the tracks and be killed.” Of the father can say, “Son, give me your hand,” and he takes the boy’s hand and holds on to him. Thus, the father holds on to the son rather than the son holding on to the father. Which is the surer method?

Jesus said no one can snatch His sheep out of His hand. We are secure, not because we hold tightly to Jesus but because He holds tightly to us. Jesus said: “Every one of My sheep is going to have eternal life. They will never perish – I’m going to see to it. I give them eternal life. They will never perish – I’m going to see to it. I give them eternal life, and nobody will snatch them out of My hand.” This is a tremendous promise that affords great comfort, but it is a promise only God could make.

Read or sing 2 “O Worship the King” Prayer: Ask that the children in our congregation would all come to a genuine faith in Jesus and therefore know that they are secure in His hands and in the hands of their heavenly Father.

Tuesday (4/18) Read and discuss Acts 2:22-41. Why did God become man? Today’s passage gives us at least seven reasons:

Why did God become man?

  1. God became man in order to fully reveal God’s character and will.
  2. God became man in order to trample our guilt under foot at the cross and to cast our sins into the depths of the sea.
  3. God became man to triumph over death in history so that we who trust in Him can confidently await our own resurrections and glorification.
  4. God became man so that the man Christ Jesus would rule over the universe and so that all those redeemed in Christ would one day share in that rule.
  5. God became man so that He could fill the Church which He had cleansed with the Holy Spirit … that God Himself would dwell in us and empower us to be His witnesses.
  6. God became man to make the wickedness of our rebellion appear exceedingly wicked in order to convict us of our sin and lead us to repentance. And …
  7. God became man to gather for Himself a vast multitude of redeemed people from every tribe, tongue, and nation who will glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Read or sing Hymn 103 “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the Presbytery Church of Cape Cod as they prepare to host the Spring Stated Meeting of our Presbytery next week.

Wednesday (4/19) 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 was occasionally 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:  Every year many people attend worship services on Easter out of tradition but who do not know the LORD. Pray that God would use the news of the resurrection that they heard last Sunday to effectually call many of these visitors into His Kingdom – and that many would decide to return to worship with God’s people this coming Sunday.

Thursday (4/20) Read and discuss Luke 12:35-46. Americans are a competitive people. We tend to put a lot of emphasis on our relative level of success compared to the success enjoyed by our friends and neighbors. That is, we tend to focus on the horizontal. Jesus, by contrast, is emphasizing our vertical relationship with God. Instead of calling us to compare ourselves with our neighbors, Jesus is calling us to remember whose servants we are and to seek to be faithful to Him. This would be easier to do if life were a sprint, or if we knew for certain that the LORD was going to return this coming September and we could mark on our calendars the date when we would give an account for our stewardship of all the gifts and resources that God has placed into our hands – but that is not the way our lives are arranged. As David Garland writes:

It is more difficult to serve faithfully, to hope steadfastly, and to wait patiently when the timetable is uncertain. But as Summers claims, “The ultimate test of genuine faith is the demonstration of faith through a life of fidelity.” Jesus’ instructions particularly apply to how church leaders should carry out their duties. Vigilance is required, but also responsible service. As good servants, they should perform their duties not only when they are under the watchful eye of the their master but also when he is absent. Church leaders are required to be watchful (Acts 20:26-31a) but also faithful and reliable (Eph 6:21; Col 1:7).

Read or sing Hymn 131 “Children of the Heavenly Father” Prayer: Please pray for Silas as he flies to Orlando to interview at Reformed Theological Seminary. Silas will also be examined at Presbytery next Tuesday to come under the care of the Presbytery as someone who is seeking to prepare for ordained ministry.

Friday (4/21) Read and Genesis 41:1-36. James Montgomery Boice writes:

I suppose that there is not a character in all the Bible who experienced such sudden and radical reversals of fortune as did Joseph. One day he was his father’s favored son, destined to inherit his authority and wealth; the next day he was cast into a cistern, menaced by death, and then sold into Egypt as a slave. In Egypt Joseph gradually rose to a position of authority in Potiphar’s household; but in an instant his affairs were reversed and he found himself set in irons in the prison of the captain of the guard. One day he had hopes of deliverance through his friend the chief cupbearer; but that day was succeeded by many other days of discouragement and despair. Then within hours he was suddenly shaved and clothed and in the court of Pharaoh.

Sudden reversals are difficult for most of us, for our eyes are not constantly on God as Joseph’s were. When we experience a sudden reversal for the worse, we are despondent. We think God has abandoned us, and we become bitter. When we experience a sudden reversal for the better, we are arrogant. Instead of thinking that God has abandoned us, we sometimes abandon God in our thinking and become quite secular. It is a rare Christian who can enjoy sudden prosperity and keep his or her spiritual life on course.

Joseph was one of those rare persons. When he was in prison he did not forget God. When the chief cupbearer and the chief baker told him why they were troubled, Joseph replied, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” Here, before the mightiest monarch of his day, it is the same thing. Pharaoh told Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

Joseph shot back, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Prayer: Please lift up Dan as he finishes preparations to pursue licensure at next week’s Spring Stated Meeting of Presbytery.

Saturday (4/22) Read and discuss John 10:22-42. N.T. Wright comments:

Christian confidence about the future beyond death, …, is not a matter of wishful thinking, a vague general hope, or a temperamental inclination to assume things will turn out all right. It is built firmly on nothing less than the union of Jesus with the Father – one of the main themes of this whole gospel. It is interesting to observe that where, in Christian thinking, people have become unclear about Jesus’ close relation to the father, they have often become unclear also on the certainty of Christian hope, and vice versa.

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 16 April 2017 Sunday, Apr 9 2017 

MVOPC 16 April 2017 – Easter

Call to Worship: Minister: “Christ is Risen!” Congregation: “He is Risen Indeed!”

Opening Hymn: 286 “Worship Christ the Risen King!”

Confession of Sin

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men;  We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have  committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Your Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Your wrath and indignation against us.  We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings;  The remembrance of them is grievous unto us;  The burden of them is intolerable.  Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;  For Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past;  And grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please You in newness of life, To the honour and glory of Your name;  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 103:11-13

Hymn of Preparation:  268 “Welcome, Happy Morning!”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 16:1-11

New Covenant Reading: Acts 2:22-41

Sermon: This Jesus God Raised Up

Hymn of Response: 276 “Up from the Grave He Arose”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 277 “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”

PM Worship

OT: Daniel 1:1-21

NT: 1 Peter 2:11-25

Pilgrim Faithfulness

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School Today

Shorter Catechism Q/A #90

Q. How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
A. That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (4/10) Read and discuss Acts 2:22-41.  Eckhard Schnabel writes:

The offer of forgiveness of sins through Jesus is another core belief of Christians. As a result of the life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus, the former means of atonement for sins – temple sacrifices, immersion for ritual purification, obedience to the law – are no longer effective. As the last days have arrived with the coming of the Messiah, forgiveness comes only through Jesus Christ. Although Peter does not elaborate here on Jesus’ atoning death, he emphasizes that the crucifixion was part of God’s plan of salvation.

In the context of his Pentecost sermon, which explains the coming of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins and salvation are linked with the transforming and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit and with the acknowledgment of Jesus’ lordship on the heavenly throne. Forgiveness of sins is not simply a benefit that I find advantageous. Forgiveness of sins involves acknowledging that Jesus is Lord over my life, that God calls me to himself, and that the transforming power of the Holy Spirit is at work in my life.

Read or sing 286 “Worship Christ the Risen King!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bless the celebration of Easter to lead many people in our region back to church.

Tuesday (4/11) Read and discuss Psalm 1. The Psalmist compares the wicked to chaff. This is not an image that we should quickly pass over to meditate on the more positive aspects of the Psalm. This image is a powerful warning to us against living a life for anything other than God. James Montgomery Boice writes:

The picture here is of a threshing floor at the time of the grain harvest. The threshing floors of Palestine are on hills that catch the best breezes. Grain is brought to them, is crushed by animals or by threshing instruments that are drawn over it, then is pitch high into the air where the wind blows the chaff away. The heavier grain falls back to the threshing floor and is collected. The chaff is scattered or burned, and it is what the psalmist says those who live wickedly are like.

The wicked are like chaff in two senses. Chaff is worthless, and chaff is burned. This pictures the futile, empty, worthless life of the godless, as well as their inevitable judgment.

Read or sing Hymn 268 “Welcome, Happy Morning!” Prayer: Pray for someone you know who has yet to embrace Jesus Christ and ask that the LORD would quickly bring him or her to Himself.

Wednesday (4/12) Read and discuss Psalm 16:1-11. This Psalm can seem difficult to interpret until we see how David’s prophesy about the resurrection of the Messiah undergirds the confidence he has in both this life and the life to come. This Psalm can be outlined like this:

  1. 1-2: David’s Relationship to God.
  2. 3-4 The Immediate Result of David’s Relationship with God.
  3. 5-9 David’s Present Blessings
  4. 10-11 David’s Future Hope

Where interpreters tend to get tripped up is in seeing how verses 10-11 relate to the rest of the Psalm. Some think that, since verses 1-9 relate to David’s personal experiences, verses 10-11 must focus on David’s personal experiences as well. But the Apostles Peter and Paul both quote verse 10 and both state that it applies specifically to Jesus and not to David (Acts 2:25-31; 13:35-36). Other interpreters wrongly assume that because verse 10 applies to Jesus that the whole Psalm must also be about him and not about David. While this is a more plausible interpretation it is probably better to see the Psalm as arising out of David’s own experience of being abandoned by men with David rejoicing that He will never be abandoned by His Lord. How does the idea that the Psalm arises out of David’s own abandonment fit together with the truth that verse 10 is a prophesy about Jesus? The answer is to recognize that David’s confidence for the future was not based upon God’s unmediated relationship with David but upon the mediated relationship that David had with God through the LORD’s Messiah. David looked forward (as we look back) to the coming Messiah who would fight Satan, sin, and death on his behalf. The vindication of the Messiah through the resurrection would therefore be David’s vindication as well. In this life David was guided by God (v. 7), guarded by God (v. 8), and gladdened by God (v. 9). All of this rested on the simple confidence He had that Jesus would be triumphant. As those who live on this side of the empty tomb we should be able to say with even greater confidence: “Jesus has won! Lord, You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Prayer:  Give thanks for Christ’s victor and the guarantee of our ultimate victory in Him.

Thursday (4/13) Read and discuss Daniel 1:1-21. One of the purposes of the book of Daniel is to show us how to live by faith when times are tough. Daniel and his friends had been taken captive by the Babylonians and were being put through a type of re-education camp.  The purpose of this training was to shift the way these Jewish boys thought about the world and to have them embrace the Babylonian culture. While Christians in North America have not undergone this sort of persecution, as Iain Duguid points out, we still need to wrestle with the very same issues:

As citizens of heaven, Christians live as aliens and strangers in a land that is not their own, and there are times when the world’s enmity to the people of God becomes evident. The hostility of the world is often shown in the efforts it makes to squeeze us into its mold. It wants to make us conform to its values and standards and not to stick out from the crowd. The pressure is on us, in school and at work, to be like everyone else in the way that we dress and the language that we use. We are expected to laugh at certain kinds of jokes and gossip about certain kinds of people. If we want to get on and be promoted in the world of business, we are pressured to leave our values and religious beliefs at the front entrance and to live a lifestyle entirely assimilated to the business community. We are expected to value the things the surrounding culture values, to pursue passionately its glittering prizes, and generally to live in obedience to its idols. We have to choose daily whether to be part of this world in which we live, or to take the difficult path of standing against it.

How do you cope in the midst of the brokenness and alienation that is life here on earth? What truths can you cling to when the jagged edges of existence are twisting against you and cutting into your flesh? What do you need to know to live a life of faith in an alien world, a world that is frequently a place of sickness and pain, of broken relationships and bitter tears, of sorrow and death? These are the questions to which the Book of Daniel will give us the answers. It is a book written to God’s Old Testament people, Israel, when they were experiencing the brokenness and pain of life in exile, far away from home. It was designed to encourage them in their walk with God, who was with them in the midst of their pain.

Read or sing Hymn 276 “Up from the Grave He Arose” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters who live in predominantly Islamic countries. Ask that the LORD would protect them from harm, but also that He would strengthen them to face even the severest persecution by trusting in Him. Pray that Christ would open doors for the building of His Church in those areas that seem most mired in the darkness of Islam.

Friday (4/14) Read and 1 Peter 2:11-25. John Calvin writes:

[Peter] lays down the way in which the evil-speaking of the unbelieving is to be restrained, namely by well-doing. In this expression he includes all the duties of humanity and kindness which we ought to perform towards our neighbors, Among these is included obedience to magistrates, without which peace among men cannot be cultivated. If anyone objects that the faithful will never be so careful to do good, that they will not be evil spoken of  by the unbelieving, the obvious answer is that the Apostle here does not in the least exempt them from insults and reproaches. He means that they will have no occasion to slander, however much they may desire it. In case anyone objects further that unbelievers are not worthy of so much regard that God’s children should form their life plan to please them, Peter expressly reminds us that we are bound by God’s command to shut up their mouths.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to grant you a good witness amongst your unbelieving neighbors, fellow-students, and co-workers.

Saturday (4/15) Read and discuss Acts 2:22-41.  People, including Christians, have often struggled with the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Many have asked: “If God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, how can we still be held responsible for our actions?”  The Biblical answer to this question is called the doctrine of concurrence.  This fancy word simply means that God and men can be working in the exact same circumstance but for entirely different reasons.  The classical text for this is in Genesis 50:20 where Joseph tells his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  The most important application of the doctrine of concurrence is in understanding what took place on the cross.  On the cross, God was doing the good work of redeeming His people from sin.  Yet, according to Acts 2:23, how were those who contributed to Jesus death to be considered? Christ’s crucifixion was not a giant misunderstanding.  It was the deed of lawless men against the clear evidence that God had provided to testify that He was the Messiah (Acts 2:22).  Now Peter calls on three additional pieces of evidence.  In v. 24 Peter draws the crowd’s attention to the fact that God had raised Jesus from the dead (of which the Disciples are witnesses – v. 32).  Second, Peter draws their attention to the prophetic teaching through David that Jesus had fulfilled.  Third, Peter connects what the crowd is experiencing in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to Christ’s enthronement in heaven (v. 33ff).  Notice that Peter ends this sermon in a less than flattering way.  Having demonstrated that Jesus is in fact both the LORD and the Messiah, he ends by reminding the crowd that they had crucified Him.  Cut to the heart, they cry out asking how they can escape the judgment that they so clearly deserve.  This is why grace is so amazing.  All they needed to do, all that we need to do, is to turn from our sins to Christ in faith.  When we do this we are promised not only the forgiveness of sins but the gift of the Holy Spirit whereby God comes to dwell not only with us – but in us. Read or sing Hymn: 277 “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 9 April 2017 Sunday, Apr 2 2017 

MVOPC 9 April 2017 – Mr. Silas Schreyack Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 4 “All Praise to God Who Reigns Above”

Confession of Sin

O great and everlasting God, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Who searches and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart;  We confess that we have not loved You with all our heart, nor with all our soul, nor with all our mind, nor with all our strength;  Nor our neighbors as ourselves.  We have loved what we ought not to have loved;  We have coveted what is not ours;  We have not been content with Your provisions for us.  We have complained in our hearts about our family, about our friends, about our health, about our occupations, about Your church, and about our trials.  We have sought our security in those things which perish, rather than in You, the Everlasting God.  Chasten, cleanse, and forgive us, through Jesus Christ, who is able for all time to save us who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: John 3:16-17

Hymn of Preparation:  347 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 1:1-6

New Covenant Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

Sermon: The Blessed Life

Hymn of Response: 297 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”

PM Worship

OT: Gen 2:18-3:21

NT: 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Rebels With a Cause

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #89

Q. 89.How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (4/3) Read and discuss Psalm 1:1-6.  The first Psalm is so important to the Christian life that it is well worth memorizing so that you can meditate upon it throughout the day. Allen P. Ross explains the central message of the psalm:

By drawing a contrast between the righteous and the ungodly, the psalmist instructs believers not to live the way the world lives, not to take spiritual, moral, or ethical advice from unbelievers, and not to join them in their profane enterprises; rather, believers must study the word of God in order to live an untarnished and productive life for God, and that life will be evidence of a living faith that will see them through the judgment, when God judges the wicked. …

For believers, the application is obvious: they must spend time meditating on God’s word so that they may live a distinct and productive spiritual life for God, and in the process find assurance that God knows them and will preserved them through the judgment. To unbelievers the message is urgent: they must come to faith in the Lord, because if they live their lives without faith in him or his word, not even their good deeds will count and they will not survive the judgment to come.

Read or sing 4 “All Praise to God Who Reigns Above” Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you a deeper hunger for His word that you would more consistently meditate upon His word throughout the day.

Tuesday (4/4) Read and discuss John 10:1-21. Edward Klink writes:

It is not just the image of the Shepherd that is significant for the church but the nature of the shepherding. This periscope depicts not merely a shepherd who is willing to risk himself for the protection of the his sheep but a shepherd who intentionally “lays down” his life for his sheep. That is, this periscope declares that the shepherding of this shepherd is rooted in and springs from the cross. This shepherd is not one who is merely willing to die; on his own accord he must die. For this shepherd is not one who might have to save the life of his sheep if a thief or wolf happen to approach, but he must save the life of his sheep – for they are already dead (Rom 5:12)! This shepherd is giving life to his sheep. This is a very different kind of shepherd and therefore a very different kind of shepherding.

Read or sing Hymn 347 “The Church’s One Foundation” Prayer: Lift up the children of our congregation and the Sunday school teachers who are investing into their lives.

Wednesday (4/5) Read and discuss Matthew 5:1-12. John Stott writes:

To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, indeed our spiritual bankruptcy, before God. For we are sinners, under the holy wrath of God, and deserving nothing but the judgment of God. We have nothing to offer, nothing to plead, nothing with which to buy the favor of heaven.

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to the cross I cling;

Naked, come to thee for dress;

Helpless, look to thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Savior, or I die.

This is the language of the poor in spirit. We do not belong anywhere except alongside the publican in Jesus’ parable, crying out with downcast eyes, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ As Calvin wrote: ‘He only who is reduced to nothing in himself, and relies on the mercy of God, is poor in spirit.

To such, and only to such, the kingdom of God is given. For God’s rule which brings salvation is a gift as absolutely free as it is utterly undeserved. It has to be received with the dependent humility of a little child. Thus, right at the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contradicted all human judgments and all nationalistic expectations of the kingdom of God. The kingdom is given to the poor, not the rich; the feeble, not the mighty; to little children humble enough to accept it, not to soldiers who boast that they can attain it by their own prowess. In our Lord’s own day it was not the Pharisees who entered the kingdom, who thought they were rich, so rich in merit that they thanked God for their attainments; nor the Zealots who dreamed of establishing the kingdom by blood and sword; but publicans and prostitutes, the rejects of society, who knew they were so poor they could offer nothing and achieve nothing. All they could do was to cry to God for mercy; and he heard their cry.

Prayer:  Ask the LORD to work in you the genuine humility of being poor in spirit.

Thursday (4/6) Read and discuss Genesis 3:8-24. Adam’s response to the LORD is stunning in its arrogance: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Adam is clearly trying to shift the blame to his wife and in the process seems to be indicting the LORD Himself. We might expect that God Almighty would wipe such a rebel from the face of the earth and to send him to everlasting punishment, but what the LORD does is even more surprising than what the man had done. James Montgomery Boice writes:

But all is not lost, though at times it may seem to be. Although sin grows worse and with it sin’s troubles, God is unchanged and his mercy endures from generation to generation.

We see it in the judgment of Eve and Adam. It is true that Eve and those women who follow her were subjected to pain in childbearing, but sorrow is afterward forgotten for “joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21). One fo those births produced the Savior. Again a woman enters into conflict with her husband, but this is not with one who is a stranger or even her enemy but one who loves her and to whom submission is often sweet. As for the man, though the ground is cursed for his sake, the land is nevertheless not made entirely unproductive but rather “yields its fruit in season” (Psalm 1:3). Although God curses the ground, he also sends rains and snows to water it, “making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater” (Isaiah 55:10). Man sweats, but he revives again. He dies, but he rises to life everlasting.

In the final analysis, the greatest mercy of God is seen, not in God’s mitigation of our punishment, but in his taking the full curse of the punishment of our sin on himself at Calvary, which is why Adam and Eve were not cursed. Did sin bring pain in childbirth? No pain is equal to that of Jesus who travailed in pain in order that he might bring forth many children into glory (Hebrews 2:10). … Do we know sorrow? He was “a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Did sin bring death? Jesus tasted “death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

In short, Jesus took our curse, as Paul says in writing to the Galatians: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Read or sing Hymn 297 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus voluntarily took the penalty we deserved so that we could receive the eternal blessings that He deserved.

Friday (4/7) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. One of the greatest joys and privileges that we have as God’s people is to gather in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus in order to worship the Triune God. Corporate worship should therefore reflect the truth that our chief end to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. As Paul had just finished telling the Corinthians, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” From the beginning of chapter eight right through to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul has been applying this axiom about pursuing God’s glory to the challenge of idolatry. With today’s passage he shifts to applying it to right worship within the Church. As we will see in the coming weeks, Paul is very concerned that the Church in Corinth be marked out by unity in the Holy Spirit. After all, having been accepted in Jesus Christ each of us has equal standing before God and each of us belongs to each other in His family. Yet, not any old approach to equality will do. There is the apparent equality achieved by Mao Zedong when all of the Chinese were required to wear the identical simple and drab clothing. There is the equality of everyone being forced to play the same musical instrument. But neither of these is God’s idea of unity. From the life in the Garden of Eden before sin to life in the New Heavens and the New Earth, God has created and redeemed His people to have the unity of an orchestra. We all play different parts and together we become something far more interesting and beautiful than we could ever be on our own. That is the way it is with gender as well. God made us male and female so that the genders would complement each other. Let each of us embrace what God has created and redeemed us to be.  The LORD loves this sort of diversity and so should we. Prayer: Please pray for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Saturday (4/8) Read and discuss Psalm 1:1-6. John Calvin writes:

The Psalmist does not simply pronounce those happy who fear God, but designates godliness by the study of the law, teaching us that God is only rightly served when his law is obeyed. I tis not left to every man to frame a system of religion according to his own judgment, but the standard of godliness is to be taken from the Word of God. From his characterizing the godly as delighting in the law of the LORD, we may learn that forced or servile obedience is not at all acceptable to God, and that those only are worthy students of the law who come to it with a cheerful mind, and are so delighted with its instructions, as to account nothing more desirable or delicious than to make progress therein. From this love of the law proceeds constant meditation on it.

Read or sing Hymn: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 2 April 2017 Sunday, Mar 26 2017 

MVOPC 2 April 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 32 “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Confession of Sin

Almighty and most merciful Father;  We have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep.  We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.  We have offended against Your holy laws.  We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.  And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;  and there is no health in us.  But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.  Spare those, O God, who confess their faults.  Restore those who are penitent;  According to Your promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And grant, O most merciful Father;  For His sake;  That we may hereby live a godly, righteous, and sober life;  To the glory of Your holy name.  Amen

Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 44:21-23

Baptism of Ryan Pellerin

Hymn of Preparation:  605 “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 23:1-6

New Covenant Reading: John 10:1-21

Sermon: The Good Shepherd

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

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 261 “What Wondrous Love is This?”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 40:1-23

NT: Hebrews 13:1-6

What Can Man Do to Me?

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #88

Q. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (3/27) Read and discuss John 10:1-21.  R.C. Sproul writes:

Yet another of Jesus’ “I Am” sayings appears here: “I am the good shepherd.” Here, Jesus contrasted Himself not with the thief and the robber, but with the hireling. Sometimes people took care of their own sheep, but sometimes, if they were too busy with other things, they hired others to look after their sheep. But since tending the sheep was just a job for the hireling, the sheep usually did not receive the same kind of tender care they received from their true shepherd. When the master of a flock is tending his own sheep and a wolf threatens, he stands in the gap and uses his rod to beat off the attack. If necessary, he lays down his life for his sheep, for they are his. Not so with a hireling. He doesn’t own the sheep, so if he sees a wolf coming, he flees. He thinks: “My life is worth more to me than these sheep. Let the wolves have them.”

Read or sing 32 “Great is Thy Faithfulness” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus is not like the hirelings but is the Good Shepherd who is willing to lay down His life for His sheep.

Tuesday (3/28) Read and discuss John 9:35-41. Everybody loves a good story about a great reversal of fortune – where the proud are brought low and the humble are exalted. Consider the classic fairy-tale … Cinderella. There are variations on this classic fairy-tale told from France to China and from the Middle East to Great Britain. One telling of the story goes something like this:

There was a poor girl, named Cinderella, who loses her mother at a tender young age. Tragically, her father marries a self-absorbed woman – the stereotypical “evil step-mother” who treats Cinderella with cruelty rather than love. To heap injury upon insult, her new step sisters also treat Cinderella with great cruelty so that she is little more than a slave in her own home. Then, one day, the King throws a grand ball in honor of his son the Prince. An announcement is sent through all the kingdom that, at this ball, the Prince will pick the woman who will become his wife. Cinderella, of course, has nothing to wear. But her Fairy Godmother magically appears and transforms the rags Cinderella is wearing into beautiful radiant clothing. She tells Cinderella to enjoy the ball, but warns her that the spell will be broken at midnight and all her clothing will be turned back into rags. So, Cinderella goes to the ball, catches the Prince’s eye, and he falls head-over-heals in love with her. They lose all track of time, until the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella darts out of the ball before her radiant garments turn back to rags. But the Prince loves Cinderella. So, he searches throughout the entire Kingdom until at last he finds her. They get married and live happily ever after.

That’s a wonderful story. No wonder stories like this are told in nearly every culture. But the best part of this story is that for Christians the story is entirely true. Of course, we begin from a much lower place than the oppressed young Cinderella. We begin spiritually blind and at enmity with God. And it costs our Prince far more than some diligent searching in order to take us as His own. Yet, in the end, the Prince of Glory does take His Church to be His own, we are exalted to be joint heirs with Christ, and to live with Him happily ever after. On a smaller scale, this is the story which is being told in John chapter 9. The chapter begins with a man born blind and even Christ’s own Disciples thinking that his terrible suffering must be deserved in some way. Perhaps his parents were particularly egregious sinners or perhaps this man was being punished for his own wickedness. But Jesus corrects His Disciples. Then He creates new eyes for the man out of the dirt – and for the very first time – this man could see everything that was going on around him. Now, as the chapter ends, it is the Pharisees who claim to see everything who turn out to be spiritually blind. And Jesus bluntly declares: “Because you say, ‘We can see,’ your guilt remains.” By contrast … The formerly blind man has been given both physical and spiritual sight. He has grown to understand that Jesus was a good man and even a Prophet who spoke for God. He has come to commit himself to being one of Jesus’ disciples, and now at the end of the chapter … the healed man comes to place where He worships the Lord. He is glorifying God and will surely enjoy Him forever. By the end of the chapter, the great reversal is made complete. Read or sing Hymn 605 “All the Way My Savior Leads Me” Prayer: Give thanks that as you cling to Jesus Christ you can be certain that one day you will be exalted to reign with Him forever.

Wednesday (3/29) Read and discuss Psalm 23:1-6. D.A. Carson helpfully reminds us that the model by which we understand something largely determines what we see. For example, how do you think about the Church? If you think of the Church as an organization, you will focus on management and programs. If you think of the Church as a family, you will focus on relationships. If you think of the Church as the pillar and foundation of the truth, you will focus on teaching and the proclamation of the Apostolic Gospel. All of these models are valid. We are therefore to see the Church through all of these models (and many others) rather than reducing it down to our favorite model. One obvious question that this raises is what primary metaphor to you use as a model for thinking about God?  Frequently, in the Psalms, God is referred to as Creator and King. He is also referred to using abstract language like “Rock” and “Fortress”. In Psalm 23 David selects a metaphor that would have been very personal. He likens God to a Shepherd.  Remember that David himself had been a shepherd as a boy and continued to think of his own kingship as a type of shepherding of the people of Israel.  As a good shepherd, David cared for and defended the sheep with great courage.  As David told Saul before going out to fight against Goliath:

“Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

With this in mind, perhaps the most striking word in the psalm is “my”. It doesn’t entirely shock us that the Creator of the Universe would be the Shepherd of the whole flock of Israel. What is astonishing is that He personally cares for each one of His sheep. As we confess in the Heidelberg Catechism: “Without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation.” This is a beautiful truth. It is also one that leads all thoughtful readers to ask: Is the LORD my Shepherd the way that He was David’s Shepherd? Prayer:  Give thanks that the LORD cares for each of His sheep personally – even you!

Thursday (3/30) Read and discuss Hebrews 13:1-6. Tom Schreiner writes:

The author gives practical admonitions to a community facing persecution and distress. They should remember that they are a family and show brotherly love to one another. What it means to be a Christian is to show hospitality to brothers and sisters, caring for and supplying the needs of other believers. At the same time there is a solidarity with believers who are imprisoned. They were not to ignore them to avoid getting in trouble themselves. We are to care for those who are being persecute, knowing the pain of physical suffering. The Christian church should be characterized by sexual purity and faithful marriages, realizing that God will judge those who turn to sexual sin. At the same time there is no need to worry about money and daily provisions. Believers should be content and satisfied, knowing God will never forsake us. No enemy or opponent can finally deprive us of what we need, for the LORD is our helper. We need not fear, for human beings can do nothing apart from God. He is always the LORD in every situation, caring for us and providing every need.

Read or sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Give thanks that since the LORD is your Helper you do not need to fear what mere human beings can do to you.

Friday (3/31) Read and discuss Genesis 40:1-23. James Montgomery Boice writes:

After he had interpreted the dream of the cupbearer, showing that he would soon be restored to his position as Pharaoh’s honored officer, Joseph said something that was quite human: “When all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon” (vv. 14-15). Some commentators criticize Joseph for this, arguing that he should not have appealed in this way to a clear unbeliever but should instead have left his case before God. I do not agree with them. For one thing, I am sure that Joseph did present his case to God. For another, there is nothing wrong with doing whatever is humanly possible to avoid difficulty and improve one’s condition. If Joseph had possessed access to an Egyptian court, he would have been entirely justified in appealing to it against the injustice of his imprisonment. Paul later did the same thing in his appeal to Caesar from his imprisonment at Caesarea.

But for Joseph, deliverance was not to come in this fashion. As I say, there was nothing wrong with his asking the cupbearer to remember him when he was restored to Pharaoh’s favor. Yet deliverance did not come from the grateful memory of a pagan butler (who was actually ungrateful) but from God.

It may be that way in your life. You may be trying to extricate yourself from difficulty by every means at your disposal and may have found that everything you do is unavailing. In your case, as it was with Joseph, deliverance may have to come directly from God. Why? I do not know the whole answer to that question. But I do know that when we are helped by another person we are naturally grateful to that person and see him or her as the cause of our good fortune. But when we have failed in all human ways and are then delivered by God, we are filled with a holy awe of God and find ourselves to be deeply delighted in him. That end may be worth many years of suffering.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Saturday (4/1) Read and discuss John 10:1-21. Chuck Swindoll writes:

Jesus’ statement is strong “I AM”, paired with the phrase “good shepherd,” which is particularly emphatic in Greek. What follows is a clear foreshadowing of the persecution he will suffer and a strong affirmation of His substitutionary death on behalf of His believers. Just as important is His acknowledgement that truth always has been a lightning rod for evil; nevertheless, He will not flinch as evil strikes Him with all the power of hell. As the Creator, he cannot be overpowered by anything. Yet He will voluntarily suffer and die to carry out the Father’s redemptive plan.

This sets Jesus apart from the religious leaders of the people, who supposedly shepherd the people of God. Whereas He is selfless, they are selfish. Whereas He will lay down His life for the sheep, they will abandon all to save themselves. Whereas Jesus lived in complete obedience to the Father, they obeyed their own lusts.

Read or sing Hymn: 261 “What Wondrous Love is This?” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 26 March 2017 Sunday, Mar 19 2017 

MVOPC 26 March 2017

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: Colossians 1:11-14

Hymn of Preparation:  305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 18:31-50

New Covenant Reading: John 9:35-41

Sermon: The Crisis Jesus Brings

Hymn of Response: 353 “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 469 “How Sweet and Awesome is the Place”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 39:7-23

NT: Romans 1 Peter 3:13-17

Being Good in a Bad World

Adult Sunday School: War of Words – Jason Donald Teaching

Shorter Catechism Q/A #87

Q. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (3/20) Read and discuss John 9:35-41.  Chuck Swindoll writes:

Jesus declared that His purpose for coming to earth was not to hold people accountable for sin or to sit in judgment; He will do that upon His return. Each encounter with Jesus became a moment of truth, however, in which the individual’s response to the Light revealed his or her eternal destiny – the true nature of good and evil are exposed when subjected to the light of Christ.

The point was not lost on the Pharisees, who challenged Jesus with the question, “We are not blind too, are we?” The structure of the question in the original language indicates that the person asking anticipates a negative response. In other words, the Pharisees expected Jesus to say, “Why, no, of course you are not blind.” But Jesus didn’t cooperate – He knew them to be spiritually blind.

Jesus’ response forms a paradox. Those who are spiritually blind do not think they are missing anything and therefore they deny their need. Those who “see” are those who admit their need for spiritual sight. Spiritually blind people conceal their sinfulness in order to bluff themselves and everyone else into thinking they have no need of salvation. People with spiritual sight readily recognize their own sinfulness and their desperate need for a Savior.

Read or sing 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing” Prayer: Pray for a friend or family member who does not yet know Christ, that the LORD would open his or her eyes to who Jesus is and what He has done for His people.

Tuesday (3/21) Read and discuss John 9:24-34. I suspect that when we read stories like this, where the healed man is so courageous, or those about men like Daniel in the Old Testament, many of us think: “It would be great to be at the place in life where I could be bold like these men. If I wasn’t in debt, had a hefty savings account, or perhaps even a rather healthy investment portfolio – then I could … indeed I almost certainly would … fearlessly stand up for what I believe … just like these men did.” Do you ever think like that? … “If I were less vulnerable in terms of my career or my finances I would be more courageous?” … Here’s the truth: No, you wouldn’t be more courageous. The one absolutely essential ingredient for courage is fear. It doesn’t take any courage at all to do something that you are not afraid of. Furthermore, if you wait until you are financially – or otherwise – independent before you are willing to stand unequivocally for Jesus then you aren’t really trusting in God. You would be trusting in God and your money … and perhaps more in the latter than you would like to admit. Consider the healed man. He is entirely vulnerable in terms of his human circumstances – yet he clings to God trusting that if God is for Him, then he doesn’t have to worry about who is against him.

It is by trusting God when doing so seems most costly that we are most loudly and clearly ascribing the greatest worth to Him. That is, God is glorified when we choose to suffer afflictions for the sake of faithfulness to Jesus Christ. And here is the amazing part! As painful as that might be, and let me be clear – it very well may be painful, it turns out that this choice is still the pathway to greatest blessing. As we read earlier from Romans chapter 8:

We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Read or sing Hymn 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters a the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Wednesday (3/22) Read and discuss Psalm 18:31-50. Alec Motyer writes:

For the most part, the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament comes as an occasional ‘filling’ to a particular person for a particular task – corresponding to the filling with the Spirit in the New Testament, where Peter, for example, was filled with the Spirit on at least three occasions ot cater for some special situation, but it was different for David. In his case, the Holy Spirit was a continuous presence and reality. David’s initial experience as Spirit-endowed man – … This is what we would logically expect – Saul’s anointed successor is moving towards his destiny. But then everything goes wrong! Royal favor becomes jealousy; jealousy becomes murderous hate; David takes to his heels and to the hills! Not because the Holy Spirit has withdrawn, but because he was there, shaping everything according to the will of God. We forget all this to our cost. It is always the same, because it has to be so. The Spirit and the flesh are at war (Galatians 5:17); ‘through much tribulation’ we enter God’s kingdom (Acts 14:22). No sooner was the Lord Jesus anointed with the Spirit at His baptism, and assured of his divine Sonship, then he was led by that same Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The Holy Spirit and conflict belong together. David needed that his hand be taught for war; he needed to bend a bow of bronze; he needed that his feet be like a deer if he was ever to attain his destined high places. And for all this Yahweh was his teacher, his strength, and his enabler.

Prayer: Please lift up Dan Borvan today as he defends his doctoral dissertation.

Thursday (3/23) Read and discuss 1 Peter 3:13-17. Stephen Motyer writes:

These verses are among the most difficult in the whole New Testament, because Peter refers to traditions and stories obviously familiar to his readers, but unfortunately not to us. Yet the overall message is clear. Peter tells us that if we are called to suffer for what is right, we must look to Jesus, who suffered for our sins and through that suffering has come to a place of supreme authority, raised over all the powers of evil that seem so overwhelming to the persecuted Asian Christians. Jesus suffered, though he was righteous and if we will now set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts and follow in his footsteps we can be delivered from the fear of our persecutors, confident that through suffering we will share his victory. In the meantime we must bear witness to our hope, by both word and deed, remembering that our baptism was our pledge to God to live with good consciences before him.

Read or sing Hymn 353 “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” Prayer: Give thanks that you have been filled and sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Friday (3/24) Read and discuss Genesis 39:7-23. Iain Duguid writes:

At least, giving in to sin is as simple as that. Resisting sin is an entirely different story. If the problem is with our hearts and not our circumstances, then resisting sin will require more than simply staying at a distance from tempting situations. It will require a change in our hearts, which is something we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot simply decide to turn over a new leaf and just stop sinning; we need to be given a new heart with new desires. If there is one lesson to be learned from the experience of Old Testament Israel, it is this: having God’s perfect law and a powerful experience of God’s deliverance is not enough. As the LORD reminded Israel through the prophets, they needed new hearts. Ultimately, the reason why Joseph was able to say no to such a powerful temptation was the work of God. Just as the presence of God with Joseph enabled him to prosper in everything he did for Potiphar, so too it was because the LORD was with him that he was able to say, “How can I do such a thing and sin against God?” That though did not come from himself; it came from God.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you a greater sense that you are living all of your life in His presence.

Saturday (3/25) Read and discuss John 9:35-41. N.T. Wright comments:

The chapter about the man born blind comes to its conclusion with the complete reversal of where it had started. The chapter began with the disciples assuming that because someone was born blind either he or his parents must have been guilty of sin. Jesus opposed that view, heald the man and then warded off the challenge from those who objected to him doing it on the Sabbath. Now the chapter ends with his accusers claiming to see everything clearly when in fact they can’t. And Jesus’ comment on their condition is that, though blindness itself isn’t and indication of sin, claiming to be able to see when you can’t certainly is. ‘Because you say, “We can see,” your guilt remains.’

Read or sing Hymn: 469 “How Sweet and Awesome is the Place” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Next Page »