MVOPC 29 May 2016
Call to Worship: Isaiah 40:1-5
Opening Hymn: 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing”
Confession of Sin
Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good; And all our shortcomings and offenses. You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts; In forgetting Your love. But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You. Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son. And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 55:7-9
Hymn of Preparation: 605 “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”
Old Covenant Reading: Ruth 1:6-22
New Covenant Reading: Romans 8:18-30
Sermon: The Emptying of Naomi
Hymn of Response: 562 “All to Jesus I Surrender”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!
PM Worship: – Elder Jager Teaching
Adult Sunday School: There is Sunday School Today
Shorter Catechism Q/A #44
Q. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us that because God is the Lord, and our God, and redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.
Monday (5/23) Read and discuss Ruth 1:6-22. Many people read Old Testament narratives looking for heroes and villains. The problem is that the Bible frequently contains stories involving ordinary human beings who are a bit of both. Commenting on verses 13 and 14 Daniel Block writes:
Naomi’s disposition toward her lot in life is exposed. Naomi is a bitter old woman who blames God for her crisis. Naomi feels that she is the target of God’s overwhelming power and wrath. The divine hand that had struck Egypt with plagues, destroyed a generation of Israelites in the land of Canaan (Judges 2:14) was now stretched out against her. The reader may not have recognized the earlier famine in Bethlehem, her family’s exile in Moab, the deaths of her husband and sons, and the barrenness of her daughters-in-law as evidences of the hand of God, but Naomi is clear about the cause of her troubles.
Many readers of biblical narrative tend to idealize or idolize the human characters, but in the context Naomi’s comment is troubling. The same person who had earlier implored Yahweh to be as gracious to her daughters-in-law as they had been to her and to provide them with the security in the house of a husband turns around and accuses God of making her life bitter. Her comments offer no hint of human causation behind her tragedies. Instead of repenting of her own and her people’s sin, she accuses God of injustice toward her. … Her faith is apparently not as mature or orthodox as some would think. This conclusion is confirmed by the next verse.
Read or sing Hymn 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing” Prayer: Ask the LORD to guard your heart against bitterness.
Tuesday (5/24) Read and discuss Ruth 1:1-6. What was Elimelech thinking when he decided to leave the Promised Land to sojourn amongst the wicked Moabites? For one thing he thought that the plans were temporary. Look at verse 1 again with me:
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
The word “sojourn” points to the short term nature of Elimelech’s plans. He wasn’t planning on leaving Bethlehem permanently. This was just a temporary step until times were better and until Elimelech could get his family back on better footing financially. Surely that is what Elimelech told himself.
If you had asked him on his way out of Israel: “Hey, Elimelech – how long will you be gone?” Elimelech would not have replied, “I may never come back. In fact, I’m planning on dying in Moab, having my sons marry Moabite women, and then dying outside the Promised Land just like me.”
He would have said: “I’ll be back soon. Maybe by next harvest.” Of course when Lot choose to pitch his tents near Sodom he wasn’t planning on living out his golden years as a broken man in a cave either. Let that be a warning to us. “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is death.” It is foolish to think that compromising our walk with God for an apparent pay-off will be worth it – when the future is so uncertain to us.
As Americans we are particularly prone to self-help religion – so this is a warning that we in this room particularly need to hear. Many Americans actually think that the saying “the Lord helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible. So when we come to a crossroad in life we are conditioned by our heritage to rely on what we can see or what we imagine that we might do.
The temptation is to presume that we can compromise our walk with God in the present – just for a few years – and then once we have taken care of whatever it is that we are concerned about – well then we will get back on track with zealously following the LORD in the future … or so we kid ourselves. So, we consider taking a job or going to college where there isn’t a good local church. It will only be for a few years, we say. Or we organize our lives around entertainment and getting rich rather than worship, service, and fellowship with God’s people – only to wake up one day and discover that our children are married to pagans or that we are dying without actually having ever zealously lived for God. Read or sing Hymn 559 “Father, I Know That All My Life” Prayer: Ask the LORD to unmask those areas in your life where you are rationalizing away the fact that you are not fully committed to following Jesus.
Wednesday (5/25) Read and discuss Romans 8:18-30. Verses 28 through 30 are frequently called “the golden chain of salvation.” This is because the promises are so precious and because there are no broken links in the chain. Everyone whom God sets His love upon (“Those whom He foreknew…”) arrives all the way at the end of the chain as glorified saints in heaven. Robert Haldane writes:
In looking back on this passage, we should observe that, in all that is stated, man acts no part, but is passive, and all is done by God. He is elected and predestined and called and justified and glorified by God. The apostle was here concluding all that he had said before in enumerating topics of consolation to believers, and is now going on to show that God is “for us,” or on the part of the people. Could anything, then, be more consolatory to those who love God, than to be in this manner assured that the great concern of their salvation is not left in their own keeping? God, even their covenant God, hath taken the whole upon himself. He hath undertaken for them. There is no room, then, for chance or change. He will perfect that which concerneth them.
Read or sing Hymn 605 “All the Way My Savior Leads Me” Prayer: Give thanks for the sovereign and faithful grace of God in which we can safely rest all of our hopes.
Thursday (5/26) Read and discuss Galatians 4:21-31. Paul brings the Galatians back to the foundational story of Abraham for a reason. The whole dispute has been over how the Galatians could be full first-class citizens in the Kingdom of God and heirs of the promises that God had made to Abraham. Paul will vigorously fight for the entire rest of his life for the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. That is, Paul will insist that God only has ONE family made up of Jew and Gentile together in Christ. The Judaizers are suggesting that there may be two people of God. A first-class Jewish people of God and a sort of second class Gentile people of God who don’t step up and keep the commandments of the Mosaic covenant. Paul in effect is saying: If you want to go there – let’s go there. Abraham after all had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. You know that story. The LORD had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Indeed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his seed. Yet, Abraham and Sarah were growing old and Sarah still hadn’t given Abraham the promised and needed son. So Sarah came up with a plan that seems to have been viable in the ancient Hittite culture in which they were living. She would give Abraham her slave-girl Hagar and if Hagar bore Abraham a son – that son would be counted as though he were Sarah’s own son and would become Abraham’s heir. This all seemed reasonable to them. It was in Abraham and Sarah’s power to enact this plan and it did result in Hagar giving birth to Ishmael. But God was not at all interested in having His plans fulfilled by what Abraham and Sarah were able to do in their own power. The LORD returned to Abraham and told him that the promised Seed would come through Sarah. This was so unbelievable that they named him Isaac which means “laughter.” That’s a wonderful name and it reflects the fact that Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born and Sarah was 90. This was an act entirely of God’s power and grace and not something that Abraham or Sarah could do in their own strength. Read or sing Hymn 562 “All to Jesus I Surrender” Prayer: Ask the LORD to guard your heart and those of our church family against the poison of legalism.
Friday (5/27) Read and discuss Leviticus 25:1-10. Phillip Eveson writes:
Jesus uses the words of Isaiah 61:1-2 to announce the commencement of this new age of Messiah. He came to deal with the deep underlying causes of all the troubles and struggles of society. Jesus did not read the part of the paragraph from Isaiah that spoke of vengeance, for he had come not to judge the world but to save it. The jubilee age that began with Christ’s first coming will find its grand consummation at his second coming with the resurrection of the body and the ‘restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21). Then the Lord’s rule will be seen in all its fullness and glory and the old cures will finally be removed. This hope is not a pipe dream, but is based solidly on what happened to Jesus himself, who died to bear the curse and rose to be the guarantee and living proof of all that the prophets and apostles have promised.
The church of Jesus Christ therefore has something very wonderful and exciting to announce to a sad world enslaved by the dark powers of the Evil One. Individual Christians can also be involved in relieving poverty and exercising their democratic rights in bringing pressure to bear on governments and commercial organizations to show more understanding and to act in a just and honorable way towards peoples and nations in dire distress. They should be in the forefront in their concern for social justice, as they have been, and still are, in bringing relief and showing compassion to those with physical and mental ailments and disabilities. But the Christian’s greatest service to a needy world, and certainly the primary task of the church of Jesus Christ, is to proclaim the good news of a Redeemer who delivers from sin and Satan and who sets us on the road to glorious future beyond this present world order.
Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.
Saturday (5/28) Read and discuss Ruth 1:6-22. Iain Duguid writes:
The gospel shows us that this grace is not merely for covenant insiders who have lost their way. It is now for men and women from all nations and backgrounds, the unclean as much as the kosher, the unwashed as well as the religious. Black and white, male and female, Jewish and Gentile, all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). There are no more Moabite outsiders in the light of the cross. All are welcome to come, whatever their background, and to be received into the family of God. The grace of God that we have received is to be extended by us to others, so that all may hear the good news of redemption in Christ.
It is deeply convicting that in Ruth it is the former pagan who has more passion for Israel’s God than has the child of the covenant, who heard of his dealings with his people from her earliest days. Perhaps those of us who have grown up in the church can easily lose sight of the awesome preciousness of the grace of God, and cease to be amazed at his love for us. It becomes familiar and loses its freshness, whereas those to whom this is new news are more easily moved by it.
Whether we grew up in the church or were converted as adults, can we be content to have only a little passion for our God and for the spread of his fame? Can we mutter a conventional blessing on those who still have not heard of Christ and leave it at that? … For most of us in this modern world … the other cultures have come to us where we live. The Moabites are now our neighbors, waiting to see if we are concerned enough about them to minister to them in Christ’s name.
Read or sing Hymn: 644 “May the Mind of Christ My Savior” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.