MVOPC 6 September 2015
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 38 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”
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: Romans 8:1-4
Hymn of Preparation: 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 110:1-7
New Covenant Reading: Hebrews 5:1-10
Sermon: Loud Cries and Tears
Hymn of Response: 254 “Alas and Did My Savior Bleed”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 708 “O Love, That Wilt Not Let Me Go”
OT: Isaiah 60:1-22
NT: Revelation 21:9-21
The New Jerusalem
Adult Sunday School: Extended Fellowship This Morning – No Sunday School
Shorter Catechism Q/A #7
Q.What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Monday (8/31) Read and discuss Hebrews 5:1-10. For sinners to approach a holy God is a terrifying thing. Let’s remember that, after they sinned, Adam and Eve first tried to hide from the LORD. But today’s passage tells us that, in Christ, we are now encouraged to approach the throne of grace with boldness. What changed? Calvin comments:
The basis of this confidence is that the throne of God is not marked by a naked majesty which overpowers us, but is adorned with a new name, that of grace. This is the name that we ought always to keep in mind when we avoid the sight of God. … The glory of God cannot but fill us with despair; such is the awfulness of his throne, no. Therefore, in order to help our lack of confidence, and to free our minds of all ears, the apostle clothes it with grace and gives it a name which will encourage us by its sweetness. It is as if he were saying, “Since God has fixed on His throne … a banner of grace and of fatherly love towards us, there is no reason why His majesty should ward us off from approaching Him.”
Read or sing Hymn 32 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters and China that they would continue to gain additional religious freedoms and that they would continue to cling to the gospel.
Tuesday (9/1) Read and discuss Hebrews 4:14-16. Imagine that you are swimming in a river when you realize that the currents are overpowering you and pulling you out into the middle of the rapids. The current is just too strong for you. There is no way that you can make it back to the shore. That’s the bad news. The really bad news is that the river you’re swimming in is the Niagara River and you are heading towards the Falls. Part of you is shouting: “Don’t panic!” while another part is thinking “If there was ever a good time to panic – this is it!” Suddenly, a rope splashes down right next to you. You reach out and seize the rope in your grip. You have never clung to something so tightly in all your life. Then you turn to see your savior and your heart sinks. The guy holding the other end of the rope is fifty feet behind you in the middle of the river. He may be very sympathetic to your plight but he lacks the position and the power to actually do you any good. If you cling to this rope the two of you will simply go over the Falls together. So, you look to the shore but there is nobody there. All you see is an enormous brown bear. The bear is firmly on the shore, and it possess great power, but the bear is more interested in the birds and the berries than the two men who are about to plummet to their deaths as they are washed over Niagara Falls. While the man had sympathy he lacked position and power. While the bear has position and power he lacks sympathy. You realize that if you are going to get rescued you need someone who has all three. The human condition is a lot like that. We are each being swept along by the currents of a world that is in rebellion against God. Being sinners ourselves, we have no power to extricate ourselves from the current in order to bring ourselves safely to the dry land. If we are going to be rescued will need that rescue to come from outside of us – and we will need a Savior who has position, power, and sympathy for our plight. Today’s passage is about how we do have such a Savior – and His name is Jesus Christ. Prayer: Please lift up Christ Church PCA in Concord, New Hampshire as they begin the process of looking for a new pastor.
Wednesday (9/2) Read and discuss Psalm 110:1-7. This passage is the most frequently quoted psalm in the New Testament. It remarkably points to the fact that the Messiah would be more than a mere human being and also to the uniting of the Royal and Priestly offices in a single person. Given these facts, perhaps it isn’t surprising that this psalm is used in diverse ways to drive home the truth of who the Christ was and is. John Phillips writes:
We find it quoted in Matthew 22:41-46 to confound. The political-religious spectrum of Hebrew unbelief had focused on Christ in order to trap Him into saying something incriminating. The Herodians try to catch Him with a loaded political question, the Sadducees with a thorny religious question, and the Pharisees with a difficult moral question. (Jesus) turned the tables on them, however, by asking a question based on the opening verse of Psalm 110, quoting it to confound, to silence those who were trying to trap Him in His speaking.
We find it quoted in Acts 2:34-35 to convict. At the end of his lengthy Pentecostal sermon, Peter drove home the damning charge (that the Jews had murdered their Messiah) by quoting from Psalm 110. The Holy Spirit used the quotation and its application to bring about conviction of sin and immediate repentance in the lives of many of those present.
We find it quoted in Hebrews 1:13 to confirm. The author of this epistle has made the point that Christ is far superior to the angels, and to clinch the argument he falls back on Psalm 110. “To which of the angles said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?”
Read or sing Hymn 598 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would make you tender hearted so that you would easily be both convicted and comforted by His word.
Thursday (9/3) Read and discuss Isaiah 60:1-22. R. Reed Lessing writes:
God’s glory comes. Freely, it comes. Apart from anything we do or say, it still comes to us in Jesus Christ! We are called to faithfulness, not so that kingdom glory will come, but because its advent is imminent (cf. Isaiah 56:1). Divine light cannot be humanly generated. We can only arise and shine because our Light has already come (John 1:4-9; 1 John 2:8) and is coming again (Rev 1:4-7, 14-16). Luke writes: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9). Simeon celebrates: “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and a glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:32). The Magi marvel: “We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matt 2:2). What a light show! Majesty arrived in the midst of the mundane. The most holy God appeared in the flesh in the presence of cattle manure. Divinity entered the world on the floor of a stable, through the worm of a (teenage) virgin, and in the presence of a lowly carpenter.
Jesus is the Light of the world, who took on flesh so that he might take you into his arms, heal your hurts, forgive your filth, and destroy your darkness. The Son of God became a human being, not to demonstrate the innocence of infancy, but to live the life we could not and to die our death so we need not. Here is dazzling light, brilliant light, and eternal light. No wonder the Nicene Creed confesses that Jesus is “God of God, Light of Light.”
But would Christ’s betrayal on Good Friday, his shed blood, and his hasty burial extinguish this light? Not on your life! “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). And there is more light to come! When Christ returns, he promises to take us to the new Jerusalem where “night will not exist anymore, and the will not have need of the light of the lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine light upon them” (Rev 22:5; cf. Isaiah 60:19-20).
Read or sing Hymn 708 “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” Prayer: Please lift up the students, particularly the new students, at Westminster Seminary in California as they prepare for a lifetime of ministry.
Friday (9/4) Read and discuss Revelation 21:9-21. Cornelius Venema writes:
Consistent with our argument that the life of the redeemed in the new creation will be rich and diverse, one of the descriptions in the book of Revelation speaks of the rich inheritance that awaits God’s people. In Revelation 21, John’s vision of the new heaven and earth includes a vision of the nations walking together by the light that is the Lamb. The nations will walk together and, the vision adds, ‘the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it [the holy city]’ (verse 240. According to this vision, the rich diversity of peoples, together with the works and accomplishments of those who have been among the leaders of the nations, will contribute significantly to the glory and splendor of the new heaven and earth.
Since the language of this vision does not elaborate upon the meaning fo this inheritance of God’s people, we are left to surmise what it might mean. It has been plausibly suggested that it describes the way the new creation will receive all the appropriate fruits of human culture and development that have been produced throughout the course of history. Every legitimate and excellent fruit of human culture will be carried into and contribute to the splendor of life in the new creation. Rather than the new creation being a radically new beginning, in which the excellent and noble fruits of humankind’s fulfillment of the cultural mandate are wholly discarded – the new creation will benefit from, and be immensely enriched by, its receiving of these fruits. Far from being an empty and desolate place, the new creation will be enriched with the sanctified fruits of human culture. Nothing of the diversity of the nations and peoples, their cultural products, languages, arts, sciences, literature, and technology – so far as those are good and excellent – will be lost upon life in the new creation. Life in the new creation will not be a starting over, but a perfected continuation of the new humanity’s stewardship of all of life in the service of God.
Prayer: Please lift up President Obama in prayer.
Saturday (9/5) Read and discuss Hebrews 5:1-10. N.T. Wright comments:
The point is that Jesus, having died and been raised from the dead, was then exalted, in the ascension, through all the different layers of ‘the heavens’, right to the very heart, to the throne of the father himself. He didn’t, in other words, simply go to a convenient resting place in some spiritual sphere where he could remain, satisfied with having accomplished his earthly work. He went right to his father’s inner courtroom, in order that by representing us there, by interceding for us with the father, he might continue to implement the work he had accomplished on earth. Once again, Paul says something similar, this time in Romans 8:34.
So when we come to pray to the heavenly father, we are not shouting across a great gulf. We are not trying to catch the attention of someone who has little or no concern for us. Verse 16 puts it like this: we are coming to ‘the throne of grace’ (that’s a way of saying (a) that we’re coming to the throne of God and (be) that we must now think of God as the God of grace), and we may and must come boldly and confidently. This isn’t arrogance. Indeed, if we understand who Jesus is, what he’s done and what he’s still doing on our behalf, the real arrogance would be to refuse to accept his offer of standing before the father on our behalf, to imagine that we had to bypass him and try to do it all ourselves. What is an offer, for those who come to God through Jesus, is ‘mercy and grace’: mercy, to set us free from the sin and folly in which we would otherwise sink completely; grace to strengthen us and set us on our feet for our own lives of service and witness.
Read or sing Hymn: 689 “Be Still, My Soul” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.