Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 1 July 2018 Sunday, Jun 24 2018 

1 July 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 11 “Now Blessed be the Lord Our God”

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: Leviticus 26:44-45

Hymn of Preparation:  668 “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 62:1-12

New Covenant Reading: Romans 2:1-11

Sermon: Who Receives the Gift of Life?

Hymn of Response: 679 “ ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”

Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 498 “Jesus What a Friend for Sinners”

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 14:1-33

NT: Mark 12:1-12

Court Intrigue

Shorter Catechism Q/A #46

Q. 46. What is required in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/25) Read and discuss Romans 2:1-11. One of the challenges of reading a letter from a distance, is answering the question: “Who is Paul talking about?” Commenting on verses 1-5 Michael Middendorf writes:

 Rather than compartmentalizing 1:18-32 to Gentiles, and then applying all or part of Romans 2 to Jews, it is better to see 2:1-16 as a narrowing of the entire audience to those in either category who are condemning the failings of others without acknowledging their own. In the text, the specific human addressed as “you” is simply defined as “every person who judges.” Restricting the application to Jew or Gentile goes beyond the text and improperly removes the universal relevance. … “There is no need to be so specific about the identity of the interlocutor in 2:1-5, who, in light of the diatribal form, could be a Jew, a Gentile, or a Christ-believer of either Jewish or Gentile origin.”

Please note how this contrasts with verses 6 through 11 where believers and unbelievers are explicitly contrasted with one another. Read or sing Hymn 11 “Now Blessed be the Lord Our God” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Iran as they seek to live for Christ in a very challenging political and social environment.

Tuesday (6/26) Read and discuss Romans 1:26-32. In verses 28 through 31 we are told that the LORD gave those who rejected Him over to a debased mind. Paul then lists 21 sins that flow out of the idolatry of rejecting God. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all sins, but it is meant to be an exhausting list. Paul’s point is that exchanging the truth of God for a lie ends up with all manner of evil. Nevertheless, there is something a bit shocking in this list which unmasks one of the idolatries of modern American society. As we read through the list of sins we find ourselves saying, “I get it. Murder, strife, maliciousness, haters of God. These people even go out of there way trying to invent evil. I get it. This deserves God’s judgment.” Then we read: “disobedient to parents” and we aren’t entirely sure what to do with that particular sin.” See, in modern American life we have increasingly come to take “disobedience to parents” as if it were no big deal. But please notice that this is not how the Bible treats it. If you were going to give just 10 foundational Laws for a well-functioning society – would you use one of those 10 Laws to tell children to honor their father and their mother? You probably wouldn’t. But God did. The issue is both simple and profound. When we are young, we aren’t yet able to figure out everything on our own – so God gives us parents to guide us and to train us. By learning to honor our parents we learn to honor all other authorities in our life – including God. See, the LORD isn’t calling you to honor your parents because they are worthy. The is calling us to honor our parents as a way of honoring the LORD who put them in authority over us. It turns out that rebellion against our parents and insisting that we are going to do what we want rather than what they say is the same thing as rebelling against God and insisting that we are going to do what we want rather than what God says. Because the majority of American culture is in such open rebellion against God we don’t think this is much of a big deal at all. But please note that the Apostle Paul declares that those who do such things are worthy of death. Let me encourage all of you, especially those of you who are still young, to do one of the most courageous and radically counter-cultural things that you can do in New England today: Honor your parents as a way of honoring Jesus Christ. Read or Sing Hymn 668 “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode” Prayer: Ask the LORD to help you faithfully and joyfully fulfill the fifth commandment.

Wednesday (6/27) Read and discuss Psalm 62:1-12. Allen P. Ross writes:

This Psalm is a beautiful display of confidence in the LORD. The psalmist is in a life-threatening crisis, but he is not filled with fear or anxiety. Instead, he trusts in the LORD and waits silently for the LORD to deliver him. He knows that the LORD can provide the strength and security to deliver him from his destructive foes – he knows that only the LORD can do this. And he is confident that the LROD will do it because he is the savior of his people. The point this psalm is making can be stated this way: God alone is able to deliver the faithful from destructive enemies ad make them safe and secure because he alone is both savior and judge. Because he is the savior, he will save his faithful servants; and because he is the judge, he will reward everyone in accordance with what they have done – and for the malicious enemies of the people of God that means judgment, perhaps now, but certainly at the end of the age. New Testament believers also know that they cannot save themselves on any level, and so they trust in the LORD and wait for the day of deliverance. Paul in his letter to the Philippians instructs believers to rejoice in the LORD (praise), and not be anxious (calm confidence), but pray (faith), and the peace of the LORD will guard their hearts and minds (Phil. 4:4-7).

And the theme of judgment in accordance with works is most clearly presented in Jesus’ teaching on Matthew 25:31-46. Those who demonstrated their faith by their good works enter into the kingdom; but those who did not show any kindness or care about Jesus’ brethren demonstrated their rejection of him. They will be cast out. The household of faith has known from ages past that there is coming a day of judgment when the LORD will save those who have found forgiveness but condemn those who rejected him and opposed his saints.

Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Thursday (6/28) Read and discuss Mark 12:1-12. This is an explosive encounter.  Imagine if you had been there.  Two days earlier Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey being hailed as the One who came in the name of the LORD.  The next day He dramatically overturned the tables of the money changers and drove businessmen, customers, and animals alike out of the Court of the Gentiles.  Yet, astonishingly, the authorities did nothing. Today a large delegation of the authorities comes out to confront Jesus.  They basically ask: “Who do you think you are to do these things?” Yet, Jesus doesn’t back down. After rebuking the authorities for their failure to answer His direct question about John the Baptist – Jesus tells this very pointed story which we call a parable.  But what sort of story is it? Is it a tragedy or a comedy? One easy way to remember the difference is to recall that a tragedy ends with a funeral while a comedy ends with a wedding.  What sort of story is this? If we stop reading at verse 9 we will definitely think that this is a tragedy. The son has been killed and the tenants (= the leadership in Jerusalem) face imminent and severe judgment. Indeed, this story is a tragedy for Israel as a nation, its corrupt leadership, and all of the unbelieving Jews … but it isn’t a tragedy for God.  If we keep reading, we discover that Jesus quotes from Psalm 118 to show that this was God’s plan all along. For those with ears to hear, Jesus was answering His antagonists’ question.  He was the Son and rightful heir to the vineyard.  Furthermore, though the wicked tenants would put Him to death, He would rise again to become the foundation stone of the new Temple (the people of God). We learn elsewhere in Scripture that Jesus would become the groom who would marry the Church. It turns out that this story is both a tragedy and a comedy … and therefore everyone fits into this story.  When we step back and look at our lives as a whole every life-story will either ultimately be a tragedy or a comedy. Which will we have? The answer depends entirely on how we respond to Jesus. Read or Sing Hymn 679 “ ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD so wondrously rules over all things.

Friday (6/29) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 14:1-33. Tony Cartledge writes:

When David allowed his son to return, he refused to see him! What an amazing thing. For three years Abaslom had lived in exile. For two more years he dwelt in Jerusalem, but under virtual house arrest. David and Absalom were each the most important person in the other’s life, yet they did not speak. As a result, there was no healing. David’s heart seemed to grow more distant, while Absalom’s heart burned ever hotter with anger and a desire for revenge. The reader is left to wonder how things would have turned out if David and Absalom had simply talked and listened to each other.

There is no future for relationships that do not involve constant communication. Persons might remain related by blood or history or the ties of official ceremony, but when spouses, sisters, brothers, or friends do not communicate, their relationships cannot survive. Mutual rapport becomes twisted by misunderstanding, wrongful presumptions, needless anger, and harbored grudges. Without effective communication relationships will die.

Communication does not begin until some person takes the initiative of approaching the other. Joab took the initiative to facilitate communication between David and Absalom. If he had succeeded, perhaps Israel’s history would have been different. Instead, the story of David and his son was a tragedy from beginning to end. The reader is encouraged to review his or her own stories and relationships and ask, “Who do I need to call today?”

Read or sing Hymn 498 “Jesus What a Friend for Sinners” Prayer: Think about someone that you are not communicating well with, and then pray that the LORD would show you how to build positive communications to move your relationship forward.

Saturday (6/30) Read and discuss Romans 2:1-11. Many commentators have had difficulty with verses 6 through 11, because they don’t want to say that eternal life will be given “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality.” The fear is that this somehow entails a works righteousness. Such commentators then try fairly extreme measures to escape what Paul is clearly saying. For example, one popular suggestion is that Paul is merely speaking in hypotheticals. That is, God would give life to those who do this – but nobody actually does “by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality.”  Let me encourage you to be reluctant to embrace such an approach no matter how much you might admire the person giving it to you. Remember that Romans would have been read out loud to the Christians in Rome. There is simply no marker in the passage, and no reasonable way that the Roman Christians could figure out, that Paul didn’t mean what his words clearly seem to teach, that those who will receive life are “those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality.” Yet, if we simply take Paul’s words at face value, they really aren’t that difficult to understand in light of both the logic of Romans and also the rest of Scripture. Four points:

  1. First, please note that Paul is not saying that “patience in well-doing [or seeking] for glory and honor and immortality” are the ground for anyone being justified or saved. Paul is emphatic throughout his teaching that Christ, and Christ alone, is the sole ground for our salvation. What Paul is giving us is the external marks of a person who can be saved so that we can contrast them with the external marks of those who are heading towards destruction.
  2. Second, remember that the goal of Paul’s apostleship is to bring about “the obedience which comes from faith amongst the Gentiles.” True faith always produces the fruit of obedience (Romans 1:5). link NIV
  3. Third, please note that such individuals are not earning eternal life. Paul explicitly says about those that “by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality” that they are given eternal life. It is always a gift of God’s free grace rather than something that fallen men can earn.
  4. Fourth, Jesus teaches the very same thing. For example, in Matthew 23:31-46, Jesus gives parable of the final judgment where the sheep and the goats are separated and judged entirely based on what they have done. Or consider the last paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount. It should be clear that Jesus isn’t teaching salvation by works. He is teaching that true faith has consequences.

Verses 6 through 11 are a helpful safeguard against the idea that faith is just checking a box that doesn’t have any impact on the rest of your life. Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 24 June 2018 Sunday, Jun 17 2018 

24 June 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

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

Confession of Sin

Almighty and everlasting God, Glorious Creator of all things, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; We have sinned against Your holy Name, by failing to glorify You in our lives as your redeemed children. Our unthankfulness extends to every thought and deed, as well as to our failure to thank you with our lips. We have not lived to the praise of the glory of Your grace. We have not esteemed the reproach of Jesus Christ our Savior to be greater than the riches of this world. We have failed to estimate the infinite cost of the salvation won for us at the cross through the shed blood of Jesus. We have not been faithful to You as You have been faithful to us in all things. Father, forgive us for our ingratitude through the reconciling sacrifice of Jesus Christ our all-sufficient Mediator, we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Exodus 34:5-7

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

Old Covenant Reading: Daniel 4:28-37

New Covenant: Romans 1:26-32

Sermon: Filthy and Deluded Minds

Hymn of Response: 558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 386 “God Be with You Till We Meet Again”

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 13:23-39

NT: James 1:19-27

Vengeance

Shorter Catechism Q/A #45

Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Suggested Preparations 

Monday (6/118) Read and discuss Romans 1:26-32. Michael Middendorf writes:

The ever-shifting ruminations of a postmodern society probably provide the ultimate illustration of the degree to which cultural approval or disapproval heavily impacts the practice of, or abstention from, numerous activities (e.g. greed, abortion, sexual immorality, premarital sex and cohabitation, homosexual conduct, pornography, swearing, etc. …). All too often, the surrounding society, which is simply comprised of individuals within it, holds up those who do the things depicted by Paul in 1:18-31 as stars and celebrities. They then become role models for imitation as well. But if theis section has made nothing else clear, it does assert that Paul was no relativistic postmodernist. Infinitely more important to his argument is the truth that God is not one either.

Read or sing Hymn 30 “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would cause His people to stand firmly in His truth.

Tuesday (6/19) Read and discuss Romans 1:18-25.  The reason why ignorance of who God is and what God is like isn’t an excuse, is because nobody is in fact ignorant of who God is and what He is like. Please notice how robust Paul’s language is. Paul tells us, that “What can be known about God is plain to them.” “His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived.” And here is the key point: This knowledge isn’t simply available to everyone. According to the Apostle Paul, these truths get through to everyone. The reason why nobody can plead ignorance is because the LORD actively reveals Himself to every single human being who will ever be born through the things which He has made. We call this General Revelation, as distinct from the Special revelation that we have in the Bible. General Revelation has four main characteristics.

  1. First, it is “general” because this revelation is made known to everyone, everywhere, and at all times.
  2. Second, it is natural because it comes to us through the created order. Quite simply, the universe is constantly proclaiming the glory of the One who Created it. And people can’t escape this reality even if the close their eyes and plug up their ears – for every human being is not only part of Creation – but every human being has been created in the image and likeness of God.
  3. Third, general revelation is continuous. It goes on day after day since the creation of the world until now.
  4. Fourth, general revelation reveals some attributes of God – such as His eternal power and godhead – so that every creature knows that he owes his Creator worship and gratitude. But general revelation does not include a plan of salvation. For that we have to turn God’s revelation in Jesus Christ and in the special revelation of Holy Scripture.

That may seem like a lot to take in, but Paul’s point is rather straightforward. Because God clearly reveals Himself through Creation to everyone who has ever lived or ever will live – there simply is no such thing as an innocent person who just happens to have a different religion. Read or Sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Ask the LORD to protect the young people of our congregation from the lie of moral relativism.

Wednesday (6/20) Read and discuss Daniel 4:28-37. Are you proud? That’s a tricky question to answer. Pride seems to be so pervasive while humility seems to be so elusive. There is a story told about the ancient Philosophers Diogenes and Plato. One day Diogenes goes over to Plato’s house where he is appalled at the exquisite and expensive rugs Plato that had on the floor. To show his contempt, Diogenes stamped and wiped his feet on the rugs saying: “So I trample on the pride of Plato.” To this Plato slyly replied: “With even greater pride.” That’s one of the problems with pursuing humility – we can easily end up proud about how humble we have become. True humility comes not from seeking humility but from, by God’s grace, seeking God. There is a second tricky issue in dealing with pride, at least for English speakers, and that is we use the word pride to refer to two different things. The first of these is good while the second is bad. The “good” way in which we use the word “pride” is to refer to the satisfaction we might have from a job well done (Whether it is a beautiful garden we have planted, excellent and elegant computer code that we have written, or a nice meal that we have prepared). To have this sort of satisfaction is actually a natural consequence of being created in the image of God. The bad type of pride is haughty and self-absorbed. We see this illustrated in verse 30 where Nebuchadnezzar boasts: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” It is difficult to read this sentence without emphasizing the personal pronouns. While “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” Nebuchadnezzar’s chief end was to glorify himself. Here is the sixty-four thousand dollar question? How do we know whether our pride is the good sort of pride or the bad sort of pride? The answer is to think about it in relationship to God: Are you filled with thankfulness that God gave you the skills and the opportunity to do this? If so than you are clearly on the right track. If, on the other hand, you are proud of the way this reflects on “number 1” and you have some deluded idea that “number 1” refers to you – then you need to have a change of heart. The truth is that we all tend to have mixed motives that are in need of reformation. Thankfully, reforming the heart is something that God is both willing and able to do. Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you a gentle heart.

Thursday (6/21) Read and discuss James 1:19-27. How would you like to inherit Ten Million Dollars? That pales in comparison to being among those who will inherit the whole earth. Since it is the meek who will inherit the earth it is worth pursuing meekness and this begins with understanding what meekness is. We need to remind ourselves that meekness does not mean weakness. The characteristic meek man in the Old Testament was Moses (Numbers 12:3: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth”) and the characteristic meek man in the New Testament is Jesus (Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”). No one but a complete fool would describe either Moses or Jesus as being weak. Rather than weakness, meekness is a posture of submission to and confidence in the Living God. Today’s passage gives us a picture of what this looks like in practice:

  1. “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
  2. “Put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word.”
  3. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
  4. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

The very fact that “the meek shall inherit the earth” reminds us that this is not a self-help program. Nevertheless, we are to be pursuing sanctification even while we recognize it as a gift from God. To be around people who reflect the above four points is an incredible blessing. Don’t you want to be that sort of blessing to others? Read or Sing Hymn 558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Providence Presbyterian Church in West Lebanon, NH.

Friday (6/22) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 13:23-39. John Woodhouse writes:

The shortcomings of David’s kingdom are on display again. But do not be deluded into thinking that any other human society does any better. It is a very serious thing to pray, “Your kingdom come” because we are asking God to sort out vengeance in His way, not ours. God’s way involves forgiveness. Some will not like that. God’s way also involves “vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Are you sure that you want to pray for God’s kingdom to come?

Of course, it isn’t simply about wanting to pray for God’s kingdom to come. Jesus commands us to pray in this way. The call is for us to become more and more devoted to Christ’s Kingdom and its righteousness – that we pray for its advance whatever the consequences might be. Read or sing Hymn 386 “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Iran. Pray for greater religious freedom and their continued boldness in sharing the gospel in the midst of persecution.

Saturday (6/23) Read and discuss Romans 1:26-32. Commenting on verse 29, R.C. Sproul writes:

Covetousness is the sign of someone who does not want God in his thinking. When we covet someone else’s property or prestige or job, we are saying, “God is not just in giving it to that person but not giving it to me.” The minute we are envious and jealous of another, we have banished god from our minds.

I read a book on a new phenomenon called the “emergent church,” which I hope is another fad that will go away as fast as it came. One of the gurus of the emergent church boasted that in the last ten years of his preaching, he has never once mentioned the word sin. He has not wanted to destroy people’s identity and self-worth, their ego. I have mentioned the word sin more times in this study than that man has in his entire lifetime. You cannot read a page of sacred Scripture without dealing with the fundamental problem of our humanity.

John Calvin had the highest view of human beings of any theologian in history, as far as I know. Some think otherwise in light of all Calvin said about man’s total depravity, but the reason why Calvin takes sin so seriously is that he takes people so seriously. The reason God takes sin so seriously is not that He is a bully or a killjoy who does not want His creatures to have any fun. God takes sin seriously because He knows how destructive sin is to this world and to our friends, to family, and to marriage. God has a better idea for what humans are to experience, and in His ultimate plan of redemption He will banish sin from His world altogether.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 17 June 2018 Sunday, Jun 10 2018 

17 June 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 24 “Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty”

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.

Assurance of Pardon: Titus 3:4-7

Hymn of Preparation:  44 “How Great Thou Art”

Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 2:4-12

New Covenant Reading: Romans 1:18-25

Sermon: Idolatry

Hymn of Response: 123 “God of Everlasting Glory”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Diaconal Offering

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 13:1-22

NT: Luke 12:1-3

Corruption in the Royal Line

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.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/11) Read and discuss Romans 1:18-25. R.C. Sproul writes:

Immanuel Kant, the great philosopher of the eighteenth century and perhaps the greatest agnostic of all time, revolutionized the world of philosophy by giving a systematic and comprehensive critique of the traditional class arguments for the existence of God. Kant argued that you cannot reason from the visible things of the world back to the invisible God. According to Kant, God is in a realm not known through theoretical reason or empirical investigation. If Kant was right, then the apostle Paul was wrong. If Paul was right, then Kant was wrong. It is time that the Christian church stopped rolling over and playing dead at the feet of Immanuel Kant and started showing the error of Kant’s reasoning. In Romans Paul sets forth plainly that the invisible God, even though he cannot be seen because he is invisible, is clearly seen. God is not seen directly, but he is seen through the things that are made.

God reveals His eternal power and Godhead to the whole world. This revelation does not give us all the specific details about the character and nature of God, but it certainly gives us knowledge of God in general. This revelation includes God’s eternal power. God’s self-existent, eternal being has been revealed in every leaf, every page, every raindrop, and every inch of the cosmos since the beginning of time. The temporal world is the vehicle of divine revelation, and by it all people are able to know that God exists. God’s eternal power and his inherent attributes – immutability, omniscience, omnipresence, and all that fits deity – are made clear through nature. God is also revealed by his moral perfection, holiness, righteousness, and sovereign right to impose obligations upon his creatures without their permission or ascent. God inherently has the right to command from his creatures what is pleasing to him. Paul says that all these things are made clear to us.

Read or sing Hymn 24 “Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty” Prayer: Please be in prayer for the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as it convenes today in Wheaton, Illinois.

Tuesday (6/12) 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.

Read or Sing Hymn 44 “How Great Thou Art” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus Christ is building His Church and therefore the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.

Wednesday (6/13) Read and discuss Jeremiah 2:4-12. Elmer Martens writes:

A court lawsuit is underway. It is the Lord Yahweh versus Israel. God the Prosecutor claims that Israel’s behavior is unprecedented. Were one to go west to the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean or east to the Kedar tribes in Arabia, one could not find an example of a pagan people switching allegiance to another god. Israel’s action is irrational. She has exchanged God, with his deliverance at the exodus, his law at Sinai, his care of the people in the wilderness, and his blessing of Canaan, for a god of no worth. It is a bad bargain. The move is shocking. The heavens are court witnesses.

Israel is like a man who decides to dig for water despite the artesian well on his property. Beyond the hard work of digging the cistern and lining it with plaster, he faces the problem of leaky cisterns, not to mention stale water. The unsatisfactory “cisterns” are described in verses 14-19. Living (fresh) water is at hand. Enough has been said to dispose the court in favor of God and against Israel.

Prayer: Lift up the young people in our congregation and ask that the LORD would cause them to drink deeply from His word rather than exchanging the glory of God for the world’s cheap substitutes.

Thursday (6/14) Read and discuss Luke 12:1-3. William Hendriksen writes:

Not only is hypocrisy dishonesty, it is also folly. As is stated over and over again in Scripture: the truth will come out, perhaps already in this life; but if not, then certainly on the day of the final judgment.

As Solomon says at the end of Ecclesiastes:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Read or Sing Hymn 123 “God of Everlasting Glory” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you a more faithful servant in the everyday details of your life.

Friday (6/15) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 13:1-22. Tony Cartledge writes:

If the death of Bathsheba’s firstborn to David began the fulfillment of Nathan’s dark prophecy, the actions of Amnon and Absalom brought it to a full flowering that would ultimately bear even more bitter fruit in Absalom’s revolt. Nathan had predicted that Yahweh would raise up adversity for David out of his own house and that David’s secret sins would be reproved in the light. Kenneth Chafin has pointed out the way in which Amnon and Absalom fulfilled this forecast by reenacting David’s own sins. Amnon replicated David’s calculated killing of Bathsheba’s husband. Uriah. David’s knowledge of this may have impacted his inability to punish Amnon: it was not only his love of Amnon as his eldest son that stayed David’s hand, but the awareness that he was also guilty of a similar deed and had set a poor example for his son. It is difficult to punish children for imitating their parents’ behavior.

One way in which the sins of the fathers are visited upon subsequent generations is that God allows children to observe and learn from their parents, and many learn negative lessons rather than positive ones. Amnon and Absalom had learned about unbridled passion and premeditated murder from their father – and the victims of their crimes were their own sister and brother. Thus, trouble rose up within David’s own house, and he could not avoid the knowledge that the responsibility lay at his own feet.

Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Please be in prayer for the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as in concludes its business.

Saturday (6/16) Read and discuss Romans 1:18-25. Robert Haldane writes:

The wrath of God … was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterward by such examples of punishment as those of the deluge and the destruction of the cities of the plain by fire from heaven, but especially by the reign of death throughout the world. It was proclaimed by the curse of the law on every transgression and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice and in all the services of the Mosaic dispensation. In the eighth chapter of this epistle the apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the whole creation has become subject to vanity and groaneth and travaileth together in pain. This same creation which declares that there is a God, and publishes his glory, also proves that he is the enemy of sin and the avenger of the crimes of men. … But above all, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the divine character, and when the wrath was displayed in his sufferings and death in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given his displeasure against sin.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 10 June 2018 Sunday, Jun 3 2018 

10 June 2018 – Dan Borvan Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

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

Confession of Sin

Almighty God, Who are rich in mercy to all those who call upon You; Hear us as we humbly come to You confessing our sins; And imploring Your mercy and forgiveness. We have broken Your holy laws by our deeds and by our words; And by the sinful affections of our hearts. We confess before You our disobedience and ingratitude, our pride and willfulness; And all our failures and shortcomings toward You and toward fellow men. Have mercy upon us, Most merciful Father; And of Your great goodness grant that we may hereafter serve and please You in newness of life; Through the merit and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 3:21-26

Hymn of Preparation:  568 “In the Hour of Trial”

Old Covenant Reading: Numbers 22:1-41

New Covenant Reading: 2 Peter 2:10b-16

Sermon: The Way of the Wicked

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

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 388 “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise”

PM Worship

OT: Daniel 1:1-21

NT: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Covenant Faithfulness

Shorter Catechism Q/A #43

Q. What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/4) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:10b-16. J.C. Ryle writes:

You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are around you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always laboring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.

To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.

Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written word of God. … Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. … You are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questions about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. … I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about the company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals, and sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar with lighthouses or charts. … You are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of those clever eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.

Let me add one thing: Wouldn’t it be great if there were a well-organized, very reliable, way to learn theology that was already broken down into bite-sized chunks for easy study? There is! We call it the Shorter Catechism. Let me encourage you to do something that Americans don’t seem to do with anything anymore: Memorize the Catechism. Our education system has molded most of us so that we are prone to read over the Catechism until we think we have the gist of it – but then we are unable to effectively use it in our day to day lives. Memorizing just two questions and answer per week will lead to you memorizing the entire Shorter Catechism in just 54 weeks. Read or sing Hymn 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Pray for the teenagers in our congregation that they would find stability in the LORD during what is frequently a confusing time of life.

Tuesday (6/5) 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 Hymn 568 “In the Hour of Trial” Prayer: Give thanks for the beauty of New England this time of year.

Wednesday (6/6) Read and discuss Numbers 22:1-41. Ligon Duncan comments:

There are some things that you don’t have to pray about. What do I mean by that? What I mean is this: When God has said no in and by His word, you do not have to pray to know what His will is.

Now all the way back in verse 12, in answer to Balaam’s query, ‘Can I go and earn some big bucks from Balak by cursing Your people?’ God has said ‘No, you may not go with them, and no, you may not curse My people.’ And you know what? Balaam doesn’t really need to pray about that any more. God has already said it in His word. He does not have to pray to ascertain the will of God. God’s will has been made crystal clear, unambiguously, in and by His word. And so, my friends, when God has spoken in His word, we don’t have to pray about it.

And yet so very often we find ourselves doing just that. The Lord has given us a command that doesn’t quite cotton with us, or He’s given us a prohibition and our hearts are yearning to do the thing that He has prohibited. And we begin to entertain the prospect of seeking His guidance through prayer to ascertain what He would have us do. That is a wasted prayer. There are some things that you don’t have to pray about. When God has told you in His word no or yes, He means it. Surely that is one of the lessons that we find out when Balaam is going back a second time after having been offered more money to curse, and asking God again. Surely that is wasted breath and effort, because he already knows what God wants him to do. And what he’s actually doing is revealing the power of the sinful desires of his heart.

Prayer: Please pray for our Session as it meets this evening.

Thursday (6/7) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. Who were the Corinthians? Strabo, writing in 7 B.C. tells us:

Corinth is called “wealthy” because of its commerce, since it is situated on the Isthmus and is master of two harbors, of which the one leads straight to Asia, and the other to Italy; and it makes easy the exchange of merchandise from both countries that are so far distant from each other.

Yet, in spite of its choice location, Corinth was a relatively young city. It had been destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC and was not rebuilt until Julius Caesar re-founded the city in 44 BC. Many of the colonists were former slaves who were trying to advance their economic and social standing. As Richard Hays reminds us:

In our reading of Paul’s letter, it will be useful to remember that he was writing to a church in a city only a few generations removed from its founding by colonists seeking upward social mobility. In this respect there is a significant analogy between Paul’s Corinthian readers and the American readers of this commentary.

Paul, however, was not so focused on the Corinthians past but on their present and future in Christ. God had called them to be set apart (“saints”) and has grafted them into His universal Church (“called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours”). The idea behind being called to be saints only secondarily refers to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in their lives which we call sanctification. The primary meaning has to do with being set apart to God for His service like Israel’s priests or the instruments in the Temple. As Exodus 19:5-6a puts it: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Richard Hays insightfully comments:

Thus, when Paul addresses the Corinthians as “sanctified in Christ Jesus”, he introduces a tension that will play itself out throughout the letter, for the Corinthians actual conduct seems to be terribly out of synch with their vocation to be God’s covenant people. At this point, however, the tension remains unexpressed; the emphasis in the letter’s salutation remains on God’s initiative in calling and sanctifying this community.

Read or Sing Hymn 670 “If thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee” Prayer: Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Israel and for the spread of the gospel there.

Friday (6/8) 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 388 “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus is your Good Shepherd.

Saturday (6/9) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:10b-16. Gene Green writes:

In 2 Peter 10b-16, Peter brings a series of denunciations against the false teachers. He highlights that the heretics are not only in communion with members of the Christian community but also seek to lure others into following their way. In denouncing their sin, Peter focuses on their arrogance, irrationality, dedication to pleasure, enticement of others through sexual desire, and their greed. Their avarice and use of sexual sin as a means to persuading the members of the church suggest the misdeeds of Balaam who, though he could not curse Israel, laid out the means by which they could be tempted to sexual sin. Peter’s denunciation of the heretics is highly dependent on Jude 10-12. But Peter reworks the material significantly as he tailors it to address the heretics that trouble the churches. Peter’s indictment of the heretics will be repeated even more vividly in the following section (2:17-22)

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 3 June 2018 Sunday, May 27 2018 

3 June 2018 – Dan Borvan Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing”

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: 2 Chronicles 7:14

Hymn of Preparation:  42 “El- Shaddai”

Old Covenant Reading: Genesis 6:11-22

New Covenant Reading: 2 Peter 2:4-10a

Sermon: The Preservation of the Righteous

Hymn of Response: 44 “How Great Thou Art”

Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 72:1-20

NT: Ephesians 1:1-14

Salvation Belongs to the LORD

Shorter Catechism Q/A #42

Q. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/28) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:4-10a. Richard Niebuhr famously described liberal theology in these words:

A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.

As today’s passage reminds us, the desire to cover over God’s holiness (and therefore His just judgment against sin) was not an invention of the twentieth century. In fact, Peter begins by promising that there will always be such false teachers who arise from withinthe Church. The subtlety of such false teaching is that it is normally couched in desirable terms such as “reaching our culture for Christ.” If unbelievers find God’s judgment of sinners so repellant (and they do) then perhaps we can repackage our presentation of who God is by focusing entirely on the fact that God is love.  Just this year Rob Bell has released a book with the title Love Wins that follows precisely this script. Without explicitly affirming universalism, Rob Bell opens the possibility that everyone will be saved including all those who have refused to submit to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We should be clear that such teaching does not flatter the love of God by portraying Him as a kinder and gentler sort of deity. This language flatters the sinner by covering over the wickedness of our sin and rebellion against our holy Creator. Given how clearly Jesus warns us about the wrath to come, we dare not shy away from calling such false teaching by its proper name: unbelief. Such false teachers don’t merely need to be corrected they need to be saved. In verses 2-3 Peter tells us that such false teachers distort God’s truth because of their sensuality and greed. He then assures us that such false teachers (unless they repent) will receive a just and certain judgment from our King.  God doesn’t need to be repackaged to make Him more acceptable to us; we need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb to be made acceptable to Him. A proper understanding of the wrath of God magnifies both the LORD’s holiness and the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ who bore this judgment in our place. We need to remember what verse 19 tells us about such false teachers: “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” False teachers promise the “freedom” to indulge in sin free from judgment. Yet they themselves are enslaved by their passions and their judgment is certain. Jesus Christ actually gives true freedom to His people by bearing the just wrath of God against such sin in our place and increasingly breaking the power of sin in our lives. Let us commit to choosing the true freedom of following Christ. Read or sing Hymn 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing” Prayer: Ask the LORD to grant you the discipline to consistently study His word and the courage to take your stand on what you learn.

Tuesday (5/29) Read and discuss Read Romans 1:8-17. R.C. Sproul writes:

The word euangelion, which means “good message” or “good news,” has a rich background in the Old Testament. There, the basic meaning of the term gospel was simply an announcement of a good message. If a doctor came to examine a sick person and afterward declared that the problem was nothing serious, that was gospel or good news. In ancient days when soldiers went out to battle, people waited breathlessly for a report from the battlefield about the outcome. Once the outcome was known, marathon runners dashed back to give the report. That is why Isaiah wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news” (Isaiah 52:7).

Let me add that it can be very helpful to memorize a sound explanation of key terms like “justification,” “sanctification,” and “gospel.” The Shorter Catechism provides wonderful definitions for most of these terms, but oddly it never defines “gospel.” I have therefore coined the following Catechism like definition to help you grasp this central biblical truth: The Gospel is the good news of the victory of God in Jesus Christ over Satan, sin, and death, on behalf of His people. I would encourage you to memorize that definition. Read or Sing Hymn 42 “El-Shaddai” Prayer: Please lift up the United States Supreme Court in prayer.

Wednesday (5/30) Read and discuss Genesis 6:11-22. 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.

Prayer: Please lift up brothers and sisters at Immanuel Chapel our OPC congregation in Upton, MA.

Thursday (5/31) Read and discuss Ephesians 1:1-14. John Stott writes:

The doctrine of election is an incentive to holiness, not an excuse to sin. True, the doctrine gives us a strong assurance of eternal security, since he who chose and called us will surely keep us to the end. But our security cannot be used to condone, still less to encourage, sin. Some people seem to imagine a Christian talking to himself in such terms as these: ‘I’m one of God’s chosen people, safe and secure. So there’s no need for me to bother about holiness. I can behave as I please.’ Such appalling presumption finds no support in the true doctrine of election, however. Rather the reverse. For Paul here writes that God chose us in Christ in order that we should be blameless and holy before him (verse 4). … ‘Holy and blameless’ as a couplet recurs in 5:27 and Colossians 1:22, where it points to our final state of perfection. But the process of sanctification begins in the here and now. So, far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of election forbids it and lays upon us instead the necessity of holiness. For holiness is the very purpose of our election.

Read or Sing Hymn 44 “How Great Thou Art” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make your security in His love a motivation in your life for pursuing righteousness rather than an excuse for just drifting through life.

Friday (6/1) Read and discuss Psalm 72:1-20. Allen P. Ross writes:

Here a psalm has been included hat looks to the future of the monarchy. The petitions in this prayer reflect the needs of the nation, for the nation never had a king that did these things. In fact, there has never been a truly righteous king or a righteous government in the history of the world. And the world needs a righteous king.

So this is a prayer that God will so bless the future king that his reign will be a righteous reign. But since the descriptions used in the petitions are found throughout the prophets and the psalms as descriptions of the coming messianic age, this prayer becomes eschatological. That is, it is a legitimate prayer expressing a legitimate need, but it will only be fulfilled in the Messiah. The Messiah will reign over a kingdom on earth in which righteousness and justice will thrive, the land will produce its bounty in abundance, and all the nations of the earth will submit to his authority and be blessed through him. The prayer of this psalm draws in some of the great prophesies of the reign of the Messiah on earth, which the New Testament confirms will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ when he returns to earth at his second coming. While he now sits enthroned at the right hand of the Majesty on High, as Scripture depicts it, he has not yet put all things under submission, righteousness does not fill the earth, and the whole world groans, waiting for the day of redemption. The petitions of this psalm, for one, will be fulfilled in the coming messianic kingdom.

Read or sing Hymn 242 “Not All the Blood of Beasts” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus will come again to fully establish His Kingdom on earth.

Saturday (6/2) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:4-10a. Gene Green writes:

It is not so evident why Lot is called “righteous,” given that he chose to settle in Sodom, outside the land of promise, and especially since he offered his daughters to the men who clamored for the celestial visitors to be brought out so that they might “know them.” The claim that Lot was righteous may be attributed to Abraham’s dialogue with the messengers, in which he seeks deliverance for the city if there are a sufficient number of righteous residents. While not enough righteous were found to spare Sodom, Lot himself was delivered, implying that at least he was righteous. …

Many authors have decried the reprehensible nature of Lot’s action and have demonstrated that his character was ambiguous at best, even as it is presented by the Genesis narrative. … The principal flaw with viewing Lot as a wholly righteous man is that it does not deal with the increasingly negative characterization of Lot in the preceding narratives … and in his subsequent actions concerning his daughters. In each of the texts Lot is portrayed as selfish and as increasingly absent from the promise made by YHWH to Abraham – he takes the good land around Sodom outside the land of the promise, Canaan. To suddenly see him now as a paragon of virtue is suspicious to say the least.

Instead of focusing on the balance of Lot’s actions, it is better to see that he was in fact a genuine believer in Yahweh and that he was, therefore, justified by faith. Lot’s life, then, serves both as an encouragement and as a warning. It wouldn’t surprise us to see the LORD rescue Abraham but it is encouraging to see Him rescue someone like Lot who made such a mess of his life. On the other hand, Lot’s life serves as a warning that it is possible for genuine believers to waste their lives by acting on the lust for those things which can be seen. Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 27 May 2018 Sunday, May 20 2018 

27 May 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Confession of Sin

Almighty and everlasting God, Glorious Creator of all things, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; We have sinned against Your holy Name, by failing to glorify You in our lives as your redeemed children. Our unthankfulness extends to every thought and deed, as well as to our failure to thank you with our lips. We have not lived to the praise of the glory of Your grace. We have not esteemed the reproach of Jesus Christ our Savior to be greater than the riches of this world. We have failed to estimate the infinite cost of the salvation won for us at the cross through the shed blood of Jesus. We have not been faithful to You as You have been faithful to us in all things. Father, forgive us for our ingratitude through the reconciling sacrifice of Jesus Christ our all-sufficient Mediator, we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Matthew 1:18-21

Hymn of Preparation:  460 “Amazing Grace!”

Old Covenant Reading: Habakkuk 1:5-2:4

New Covenant: Romans 1:8-17

Sermon: Not Ashamed

Hymn of Response: 505 “I’m Not Ashamed to Own My Lord”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 463 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 12:15b-31

NT: 2 Corinthians 7:2-13

Death, Life, and Triumph

Shorter Catechism Q/A #41

Q. Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/21) Read and discuss Romans 1:8-17. N.T. Wright comments:

But why should Paul say he is ‘not ashamed’ of the gospel? In today’s Western world, people are often ashamed of the Christian gospel. It is so often mocked, sneered at and dismissed in newspapers, and on the radio and TV, that many Christians assume that they had better keep their faith secret. That, of course, is just what is wanted by the triumphalist secular world around us. But in Paul’s day there was a different challenge. As we have already seen, his world was dominated, and the roman church in particular was to be dominated, by a culture focused on one city and one man. Caesar claimed to rule the world; God’s gospel claimed that Jesus did. What was a Christian to do? Practice the faith in private in case it offended someone? Certainly not. Paul may have had in mind a passage like Psalm 119:46: ‘I will speak of your decrees before kings, and I shall not be ashamed.’ That was what he intended to do. ‘At the name of Jesus,’ he wrote in another letter, ‘every knee shall bow’ (Philippians 2:10). That included Caesar.

Wright is correct to point out how first century Christians faced different challenges than we do with respect to Caesar, the Emperor cult, and the cult of Rome; but with the rise of the Messianic State in the modern West we would be wise to learn from their experience – for we are increasingly facing similar challenges. Read or sing Hymn 457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Prayer: Ask the LORD to keep you from ever being ashamed of the Gospel.

Tuesday (5/22) Read and discuss Read Romans 1:8-15. The language of obligation or debt may be puzzling to you at first. How could Paul be in debt to all these people whom he has never even met? And we can’t answer this question simply by inserting that His debt was to God. For, in verse 14, Paul clearly tells us that his debt is to “the Greeks and to the barbarians, … to the wise and to the foolish.” So, how could Paul be in debt to all these people whom he has never even met? Well, there are two ways that I can have an obligation to give you $100. The first way is for me to borrow $100 from you. If I do that, I have the obligation to pay you back. The second way is for someone to entrust $100 to me that I am supposed to give you on their behalf. That is the obligation that Paul is talking about here. None of these strangers had lent anything to Paul that Paul needed to pay back. But the LORD had entrusted Paul with the gospel, not simply for his own benefit and pleasure, but so that he would preach it to others. Paul was therefore constrained to fulfill this ministry. That didn’t turn Paul’s work into a miserable grind. He was excited to be part of God’s plan to reconcile the world to Himself in Jesus Christ. Paul understood, that he had been blessed by God in order to be a blessing to others. Indeed, being called to be a blessing to others – in a mission that cannot fail – was itself one of the greatest blessings that Paul experienced. Read or Sing Hymn 460 “Amazing Grace!” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would grant you great joy as you enter more fully into the Great Commission.

Wednesday (5/23) Read and discuss Habakkuk 1:5-2:4. F.F. Bruce writes:

Two opposed attitudes to God and his promises are set in contrast. There are those whose heart is not right in relation to God: instead of trusting in him they hold aloof in a spirit of self-sufficiency, trusting in themselves. Their souls are inflated: they lack either substance or stability, and a pin prick will make them collapse.

On the other hand, the righteous person will maintain life because of faithfulness to God – an attitude that includes both loyalty and that trust in his word that waits patiently until it is time for him to act. The phrase spirit is not right in them is generic (applying to all, whether Israelite or non-Israelite, who reckon without God). So too “the righteous” is generic: no one person in particular is referred to, but those who, like Habakkuk, trust in God are included. The righteous lives by God’s own standard of righteousness, the forensic aspect of the term is not prominent here. …

In Hebrews 10:38 the words are applied to those who steadfastly look for the coming of Christ, when their faith will win them eternal life. But it is Paul whose use of them is most distinctive. He takes their meaning to be “the one who is righteous by faith will live” and in Galatians 3:1 and Romans 1:17 he cites them as the basic text for the gospel of justification by faith, illustrating them by the example of Abraham, who “believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

Please note: In spite of F.F. Bruce choosing one particular meaning for Paul’s use of Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17, we should never drive a wedge between receiving life through faith and living by faith in our day to day lives. Habakkuk, Romans, and Hebrews all hold these two truths together – and so should we. Prayer: Lift up the young people in our congregation as they transition from their Spring semester of school to Summer work and other activities.

Thursday (5/24) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 7:2-13. Scott Hafemann writes:

The joy described in this passage is the reflex of repentance. Ironically, the joy born of repentance thus owes its very existence to the grief that motivates the change of attitude and action. In turn, the source and goal of such a “godly sorrow” is God. “Godly” is much more than an adjective thrown in for effect. The chain of Christian experience stretches back from joy to repentance to grief to God. Whether or not God is the qualification of our grief makes all the difference in the world – and in eternity. Unfortunately, the downsized view of God that permeates so much of modern theology makes it increasingly difficult to discern whether our grief is genuine remorse for our offenses against a holy Lord or whether it is mere embarrassment or the transitory loss of opportunity.

The difficulty is compounded by our temporary substitution of sentimentality for the grief that arises according to God. As a result of this confusion, the pastoral authority and intervention exhibited in this passage are passing from the scene. For example, the chair of a pulpit search committee recently asked me if I knew of anyone with a “certain skill set” that would enable him to “speak to the congregation” without giving the impression that he was telling them what to do. This is a teddy-bear view of the pastor as someone who dispenses comfort without confrontation, for whom the Scriptures contain merely historical information and helpful advice.

It is hard to believe that we have departed so dramatically from the biblical portrait of ministry reflected in our present passage, with its joy over repentance and sorrow over sin, with its integrity in the midst of controversy and comfort in the midst of adversity, and with its prophetic voice and loving heart, all driven by commitment to proclaim the gospel even when it hurts.

Read or Sing Hymn 505 “I’m Not Ashamed to Own My Lord” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Jaffrey, NH.

Friday (5/25) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 12:15b-31. John Woodhouse writes:

The extraordinary sequence of events that began in 11:1 and because of which David’ kingdom was never the same again conclude: “The David and all the people returned to Jerusalem” (v. 31b).

We will soon see that a sense of foreboding is not out of place. Great troubles lay ahead for David and his kingdom, troubles flowing from his own wickedness. But at this point the amazing things is that the king and his people “returned to Jerusalem.” They were safe (for now). David was still king (for now).

David’s restoration as a man and as a king was remarkable. It was not perfect, and it was not complete. But it was enough to point us to the kingdom of God in which all things will be put back in their proper order. That is what the death of Jesus was about (see Colossians 1:20). At the very heart of the restoration of all things is the forgiveness of sins. The Lord Jesus Christ restores people who come to him, just as he will one day gloriously restore all things.

Read or sing Hymn 463 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” Prayer: Please pray for our Christ & Culture book studies as they meet tonight and tomorrow.

Saturday (5/26) Read and discuss Romans 1:8-17. Back in verse 2, Paul declared that the gospel was “promised beforehand through the prophets in the Old Testament Scriptures.” He will go on to quote or clearly allude to the Old Testament nearly 60 times in Romans. In fact, the quotation in today’s passage from Habakkuk sets out the theme for the rest of the book. This has important ramifications for how we understand the Old Testament and also for how we understand the gospel. R.C.H. Lenski writes:

What Paul thus states is not at all a new doctrine but only a restatement of the one that is as old as the Old Testament. Thus, out of and unto faith the gospel revealed God’s righteousness to the old covenant saints and gave them life and salvation. The Old Testament was the Bible of the Roman Christians, was read constantly at their services, taught to all, and expounded on all vital points, especially on this critical point as to how the sinner is justified by faith alone.

Freely and frequently Paul thus quotes the Old Testament to the Romans. This does not indicate that most of them were former Jews and would thus understand. Would Paul neglect the former Gentiles? He knew that all would understand. “Even as it has been written” means that what Paul says is in perfect accord with what Hab. 2:4 has recorded.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

 

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 20 May 2018 Sunday, May 13 2018 

20 May 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 95 “Though Troubles Assail Us”

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.

Assurance of Pardon: Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Hymn of Preparation:  41 “God, in the Gospel of His Son”

Old Covenant Reading: Malachi 1:6-11

New Covenant Reading: Romans 1:8-15

Sermon: Longing to Speak of Christ

Hymn of Response: 654 “O Jesus, I Have Promised”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Diaconal Offering

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 586 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 12:1-15a

NT: Luke 15:1-7

Repentance and Grace

Shorter Catechism Q/A #40

Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/14) Read and discuss Romans 1:8-15. Doug Moo writes:

As Paul thinks of the ministry he hopes to have in Rome, he turns attention naturally to his plans for such a visit. He is apparently aware that some Christians in Rome may have been critical of him for “ignoring” them for so long. So he wants them to understand that his failure to visit Rome was not because of lack of will but because of lack of opportunity. Paul has often planned to visit them but was prevented from doing so. We do not know for sure what kept him from Rome. But it was probably the pressing needs of the ministry in the eastern Mediterranean, where Paul had been working up to this point. But Paul is still intent on getting to Rome, where he wants to enjoy a time of mutual edification in the gospel.

Paul’s desire to preach in Rome is motivated not by a concern to expand his personal “territory” but by his deep sense of obligation to preach the gospel to all kinds of people. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Paul exclaims on another occasion (1 Cor. 9:16).

Read or sing Hymn 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render” Prayer: Please pray for the spread of the Gospel in New England.

Tuesday (5/15) Read and discuss Read Romans 1:1-7. What is Paul striving to bring about? The New International Version helpfully says: “to call the Gentiles to the obedience which comes from faith.” In fairness to the ESV, “the obedience of faith” reflects the grammatical ambiguity of the original. If we didn’t have any context, we would have to say that Paul could have meant one of two things:

  1. First, he could have meant that his goal was to bring about that obedience which is faith; or
  2. Second, he could have meant that his goal was to bring about that obedience which flows from faith.

But we do have a context, and the context demands that we understand Paul as stating that his goal was to bring about that obedience which flows from faith. Let me give you just two reasons why this is so.

  1. The first is the simple point made by Leon Morris. If Paul wanted to tell us that his goal was to bring about “faith” amongst the gentiles, it is really hard to see why he wouldn’t just say that instead of saying “the obedience which is
  2. Second, and far more importantly, we simply have to remember that Paul and Jesus were on the same page. Paul began Romans by telling us that he was the devoted slave and ambassador of Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t we therefore expect him to be about the very thing amongst the nations which Jesus commanded in the Great Commission? Perhaps our problem is that most American Christians forget what Jesus actually commanded. In the Great Commission Jesus commands:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Obedience is not a dirty word. Christ is sending us out to make Disciples by teaching people to obey everything that He taught, and Paul is telling us that this is his purpose as well. Paul’s goal is to bring about the obedience which flows from faith amongst the Gentiles. That may leave you wondering, why then didn’t Paul just say that his goal was to bring about obedience amongst the Gentiles rather than the obedience which flows from faith? It turns out that Paul will spend nearly half of his letter explaining why this must be so. Read or Sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Ask the LORD that He would cause you to trust Him with the genuine faith that always manifests itself in obedience.

Wednesday (5/16) Read and discuss Malachi 1:6-11. Although the modes of worship clearly vary, there is a remarkable similarity in attitude between the people Malachi is condemning and the Church in the modern Western world. G. Campbell Morgan makes this point when he writes:

These people are not in open rebellion against God, nor do they deny His right to offerings, but they are laboring under the delusion that because they have brought offerings they have been true to Him all along. Theirs is not the language of a people throwing off a yoke and saying, ‘We will not be loyal,’ but of a people established in the temple. It is not the language of a people who say, ‘Let us cease to sacrifice and worship, and let us do as we please’; but it is the language of a people who say, ‘We are sacrificing and worshiping to please God,’ and yet He says by the mouth of His servant, ‘Ye have wearied Me; ye have robbed and spoken against Me.’ They have been most particular and strict in outward observances, but their hearts have been far away from their ceremonials. They have been boasting themselves in their knowledge of truth, responding to that knowledge mechanically, technically, but their hearts, their lives, their characters, the inwardness of their natures, have been a perpetual contradiction in the eye of heaven, to the will of God. And when the prophet tells them what God thinks of them, they, with astonishment and impertinence, look into his face and say, ‘We don’t see this at all!’ To translate it into the language of the New Testament – ‘having the form of godliness, they deny the power.’

Prayer: Pray for the young people of our congregation that they would pursue the true godliness that comes from trusting Jesus.

Thursday (5/17) Read and discuss Luke 15:1-7. N.T. Wright comments:

The three parables in Luke 15 are told because Jesus was making a habit of having celebration parties with all the ‘wrong’ people, and some others thought it was a nightmare. All three stories are ways of saying: “This is why we’re celebrating! Would you have a party if it was you? How could we not?” …

At the heart of the trouble was the character of the people Jesus was eating with on a regular basis. The tax-collectors were disliked just because they were tax collectors – nobody much likes them in any culture – because they were collecting money for either Herod, or the Romans, or both, and nobody cared for them at all. And if they were in regular contact with Gentiles, some might have considered them unclean.

The ‘sinners’ are a more general category, and people disagree as to who precisely they were. … Certainly they were people who were regarded by the self-appointed experts as hopelessly irreligious, out of touch with the demands that God had made on Israel through the law.

Throughout the chapter Jesus is not saying that such people were simply to be accepted as they stand. Sinners must repent. The lost sheep and the lost coin are found. The prodigal son comes to his senses and returns home. But Jesus has a different idea [then] his critics of what ‘repentance’ means. For them, nothing short of adopting their standards of purity and law-observance would do. For Jesus, when people follow him and his way, that is the true repentance. And – he doesn’t say so in so many words, but I think it’s there by implication – the Pharisees and legal experts themselves need to repent in that way.

Read or Sing Hymn 650 “I Will Sing of My Redeemer” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China who suffer regular harassment for their commitment to Jesus Christ.

Friday (5/18) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 12:1-15a. The state of our hearts is often most profoundly revealed when we are convicted of sin. What do we do then? Dale Ralph Davis writes:

The law tells us what David deserved – death (cf. Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22); but grace shows us what David received – forgiveness and commuting of the death sentence (v. 13b). Readers may become cynical at this point, yammering about David’s getting off easy. Please don’t do that – unless you want to condemn yourself. We will do better to wade through the text.

Note David’s confession: “I have sinned against Yahweh” (v. 13a). Some may consider this confession too brief. After all, David only says two Hebrew words and Nathan gives him an assurance of pardon. Does David get off too easily? Is he only expected to say the right formula? We would prefer him to wallow in his guilt and plead, beg, and agonize over the possibility of pardon. If only he would writhe in obvious misery. We should know better, but we still assume that intensity of repentance contributes to atonement.

Simplicity, however, marks David’s confession: “I have sinned against Yahweh.” And precisely this simplicity makes it commendable rather than defective. …

Let us pause to observe how David here differs from Saul in 1 Samuel 15. This text implies that the state of a man’s heart is revealed in his response to the criticism of the word of God. In this David stands in contrast to Saul; he is sensitive to the divine critique. To be the man after God’s own heart is not to be sinlessly perfect but to be, among other things, utterly submissive to the accusing word of God.

Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you a tender heart that would respond with faith and repentance when you are confronted with your own sins.

Saturday (5/19) Read and discuss Romans 1:8-15. Richard Longenecker writes:

It is of great importance to note that Paul situates his own service for God in the context of worship (i.e. “worshipful service” or “service of worship”) and that he speaks of that worshipful services as being done “wholeheartedly,” “sincerely,” or “with [his] whole being.” Paul was not drive by personal ambition or aggrandizement. Rather, he viewed his preaching of the gospel and his missionary outreach to Gentiles as expressions of his worship of God. For consumed by the wonder of the gospel message, awed and empowered by a personal relationship with Christ, and humbled by the experience of reconciliation to God – all of which came about in response to the “good news” about the redemptive work of God’s Son, who is rightly acclaimed as Israel’s Messiah and humanity’s Lord – he could not help but serve God wholeheartedly, sincerely, and with his whole being.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 13 May 2018 Sunday, May 6 2018 

13 May 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render”

Confession of Sin

Almighty God, Who are rich in mercy to all those who call upon You; Hear us as we humbly come to You confessing our sins; And imploring Your mercy and forgiveness. We have broken Your holy laws by our deeds and by our words; And by the sinful affections of our hearts. We confess before You our disobedience and ingratitude, our pride and willfulness; And all our failures and shortcomings toward You and toward fellow men. Have mercy upon us, Most merciful Father; And of Your great goodness grant that we may hereafter serve and please You in newness of life; Through the merit and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: John 1:29

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

Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-10

New Covenant Reading: Romans 1:1-7

Sermon: The King’s Messenger

Hymn of Response: 650 “I Will Sing of My Redeemer”

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 11:1-27

NT: James 1:12-15

David and Bathsheba

Shorter Catechism Q/A #39

Q. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to his revealed will.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/7) Read and discuss Romans 1:1-7. Michael P. Middendorf writes:

The “Good News” did not begin with the coming of Jesus. Instead, God promised it long beforehand through his prophets, who wrote it down in the Holy Scriptures. The referent of the “holy writings” is the entire OT, all of which is prophetic, that is given “through his prophets.” Paul himself expresses this by quoting from throughout the OT at least fifty-one times in Romans. Paul’s apostolic calling is for the Good news, which he makes clear at the outset is in continuity with the OT. This becomes especially critical for his argument in Romans 9-11. So, while Paul desires to be the first to proclaim [the gospel of God] into the lives of people, even then he is simply heralding the fulfillment of what was promised of old.

Rom 1:3 further defines God’s Good News by specifying in whom these promises now stand fulfilled. The [Gospel of God] is about “his Son.” While [his Son] certainly indicates Jesus’ divine nature, the remainder of 1:3 defines this Son by affirming his human nature, “from the seed of David.” This links back to “he promised beforehand” in 1:2. One of the many things promised through the prophets (here Nathan) was that one of David’s offspring would reign eternally because God would “establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” From that time on, promise concerning the seed, offspring, or line of David recur throughout the OT. Finally, Mary is specifically told this about her son: “the LORD will give to him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there will not be an end” (Lk 1:32-33). For Paul, in fact, Jesus is the “seed” of Abraham (and David) in whom all prophetic promises are centered and fulfilled.

Read or sing Hymn 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has revealed Himself to us and that He has given us His word in our own language.

Tuesday (5/8) Read and discuss Read Ephesians 1:11-14. Clinton Arnold writes:

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

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

Read or Sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Please pray for the spread of the Gospel in Israel.

Wednesday (5/9) Read and discuss Jeremiah 1:1-10. How did someone get to be a Prophet in the Old Testament or an Apostle in the New? If we didn’t know better, we might imagine that the LORD searched until He found the most remarkably godly and capable people for these critical jobs. The false prophets sometimes presented themselves like this, but all the true Prophets from Moses on protested how inadequate they were for this high calling. True to form, Jeremiah makes this protest in verse six. But rather than disqualifying him for service, the LORD gives Jeremiah three reasons why Jeremiah’s personal sense of inadequacy is no hindrance in his calling:

  1. First, everything that Jeremiah is came about through God’s plans and providence. In verse 5 the LORD says: Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
  2. Second, in verses 7 and 8, the LORD makes clear that what matters is not the one sent but the One doing the sending – and the LORD promises Jerimiah that he will deliver him from his foes.
  3. Third, in verses 9 and 10 the LORD puts His words in Jeremiah’s mouth while granting Jeremiah all the authority he needs to accomplish his mission.

As we are beginning our study of Romans, think about these three truths in the life of the Apostle Paul. Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you the humility and the courage to serve Him faithfully wherever He would send you.

Thursday (5/10) Read and discuss James 1:12-15. Doug Moo writes:

A trial is an outward circumstance that can pose difficulties to our faith. A temptation is the inner enticement to sin. What James is concerned about is that his readers will confuse these two and attribute temptation to God. Scripture indicates that God does “test” or put his people through trials (cf. Gen. 22:1). But, James emphatically asserts, God never tempts his people. He never entices them to sin or desires that they fail in the trials he may bring. Believers must never excuse their sin by blaming God for the temptation. Rather, James points out, the believer need look no further than within himself for the problem. It is our own “evil desire” that is the real source of temptation (v. 14). Like the bait that lures the fish and the hook that snares it, sin entices and seeks to entrap us. That James does not here mention Satan does not mean that he ignores the power of “the tempter” (see 4:7). His point here is to lay responsibility for sin clearly at the door of each individual.

As Professor Moo’s own language points out (Moo calls Satan “the tempter”), while James is focusing on temptation coming from within the person’s own fallen nature – it isn’t wrong to say that someone outside of us (e.g. the devil) is tempting us. A critical distinction that Moo doesn’t mention is motivation. The purpose of tempting someone is that they would fall. The purpose of the LORD, for example, testing Abraham in Genesis 22:1 was to reveal Abraham’s faith. Read or Sing Hymn 650 “I Will Sing of My Redeemer” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Second Parish OPC in Portland, ME.

Friday (5/11) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 11:1-27. The state of our hearts is often most profoundly revealed when we are convicted of sin. What do we do then? Dale Ralph Davis writes:

Apparently it’s all over but the weeping. Bathsheba (but note how the writer deliberately calls her ‘the wife of Uriah’) receives the letter of notification and condolence from the army and engages in the usual mourning rites. We don’t know whether her grief was perfunctory or acute; the writer gives no hint about how she really felt. But mourning periods always end, at least official ones do, and after Bathsheba’s David has her brought to the royal household as his wife, where she bears David a son. Hence nine months have passed, and that is that.

Well, almost. There is the bottom line: ‘The thing David had done was evil in Yahweh’s eyes.’ My literal translation is deliberate. If one also translates literally David’s message to Joab in verse 25 the contrast becomes clear. David soothed Joab with ‘Don’t let this thing be evil in your eyes.’ Certainly reverses are lamentable in this business, Joab, but you mustn’t brood over them; they’re part of the territory, as we say; you must brush them off and press on.’ But Yahweh will not brush it off. David may take a casual view, but ‘the thing … was evil in Yahweh’s eyes.’ And that is the bottom line.

The force of the ‘bottom line’ comes from the fact that it is is literally the bottom line, the last line of the chapter. The writer relates his whole sordid tale of lust and sex and deceit and murder without pausing to make marginal moral notations along the way. He details every step of the story as if God was nowhere involved. David (as we said above) was in control. This silence about God, however, only serves to accentuate the lone statement in verse 27b. It is as if David can vent his glands and weave his cover-up without any interference – until he runs smack into he judgment of God. It was evil in Yahweh’s eyes. That’s what Yahweh thought of it.

Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead you to repent quickly from known sins.

Saturday (5/12) Read and discuss Romans 1:1-7. John Stott writes:

If we bring verses 1 and 3 together, by omitting the parenthesis of verse 2, we are left with the statement that Paul was set apart for the gospel of God regarding His Son. For the gospel of God is ‘the gospel of his Son’ (9). God’s good news is about Jesus. As Luther put it in his gloss on this verse: ‘Here the door is thrown open wide for the understanding of Holy Scripture, that is, that everything must be understood in relation to Christ.’ Calvin writes similarly that ‘the whole gospel is contained in Christ.’ Therefore, ‘to move even a step from Christ means to withdraw oneself from the gospel.’

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 6 May 2018 Sunday, Apr 29 2018 

6 May 2018 – The Rev. David Koenig Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 45 “Now unto Jehovah, Ye Sons of the Mighty”

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:  558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God”

Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 18:1-17

New Covenant Reading: Ephesians 2:8-10

Sermon: By Grace Alone

Hymn of Response: 521 “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”

Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 441 “Jesus Shall Reign”

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 10:1-19

NT: Matthew 5:21-26

How to Destroy Your Nation

Shorter Catechism Q/A #38

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (4/30) Read and discuss Ephesians 2:8-10. Clint Arnold writes:

The God of all creation is full of mercy, love, and grace. Given the pervasiveness of sin and the prevalence of evil among all the peoples of the world, one could not blame God for wiping out the entirety of his creation in a furious display of his powerful wrath at sin. But this not the full picture of the character of our God. Although angry at sin and transgression, he is also rich in mercy, full of love, abounding in grace, and possessing a heart of kindness. In Christ Jesus, he made a way of escape from the compelling influence of the forces of evil and has bestowed new life upon us. This is entirely a gift of his grace rooted in his kindness. Because of our deadness and bondage to sin, there is no initiative, merit, or effort on our part to acquire his precious gift. It is simply received by faith.

Read or sing Hymn 45 “Now unto Jehovah, Ye Sons of the Mighty” Prayer: Please pray for the Spring meeting of Presbytery which begins today.

Tuesday (5/1) Read and discuss Read Psalm 130:1-8. James L. Mays writes:

[Psalm 130] is based on a fundamental theology. The theology is stated by contrasting an erroneous hypothesis about God and its consequences for the human situation 9v. 3) with the truth about the LORD and its consequences for the community of faith (v. 4). The error is to understand the LROD as a god whose principal way with human beings is to watch for iniquities. If that were the case, there would be no hope for anyone. … None could survive if such were God’s way. The “depths” would be the only possibility. The truth that the song knows and teaches is that “the forgiveness is with the LORD” (forgiveness has the definite article in Hebrew as does steadfast love in v. 7). The sentence means that the authority to forgive and the disposition to forgive belong to the LORD. Sin is essentially a matter of relation to the LORD who alone in his sovereign deity has the right to forgive, choosing to deal with sinners by grace. That much of the truth is inherent in the nature of iniquity and the sovereignty of God. Dependence on the LORD’s disposition to forgive was learned from God’s way with Israel. … The consequence of this truth for those who believe it is that they “fear the LORD.” They can live as “God-fearers,” that is, as people who take the authority and disposition of the LOD as the greatest reality of all and base their living on God without reservation.

Read or Sing Hymn 558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God” Prayer: Please pray for the Spring meeting of Presbytery as it concludes today and that all those traveling would have safe trips home.

Wednesday (5/2) Read and discuss Jeremiah 18:1-17. J. Andrew Dearman writes:

The meaning of this illustration is clear. Just as the potter may form or reform the clay until he is either satisfied or decides to dump the clay completely, so God can form and reform the house of Israel. “Like clay in the house of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” This affirmation of God’s sovereign right over the people He has formed is followed by the “two-way” formulation of God’s dealings with any nation. If God announces judgment on a nation and that nation repents, then that judgment can be reversed or simply canceled. Correspondingly, if God has announced goodness for a kingdom and it acts faithlessly, then that good can be reversed. …

The two way formulation implies that a wholehearted repentance on the part of Judah can avert the judgment that looms over them. If so, it seems likely that this passage comes from an earlier period in the prophet’s public ministry, when he held out hope that Judah and Jerusalem could make a change in public life. Verse 12, however, puts a quote in the mouth of the people to the effect that they will follow their own stubborn heart.

Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD took the initiative and provided 100% of the grounds of your salvation that you would be secure in His love forever.

Thursday (5/3) Read and discuss Matthew 5:21-26. Sinclair Ferguson writes:

Animosity is a time bomb; we do not know when it will ‘go off.’ We must deal with it quickly, before the consequences of our bitterness get completely out of control. Most human relationships that are destroyed could have been preserved if there had been communication and action at the right time. Jesus says that the right time is as soon as we are conscious that we are at enmity with our brother (Matthew 5:23).

One further point should be noted from this section. Jesus urges us to seek reconciliation when “your brother has something against you” (5:23), or when “your adversary … is taking you to court” (5:25). Jesus is telling us that we should, as far as possible, remove all basis for enmity. But He is not urging us to share every thought in our hearts during the process of reconciliation. Our secret thoughts and sins will not be sanctified by telling others about them. Doing so has led many Christians (and those they have spoken to) into unhappy situations. Jesus is not telling us to “hang out our dirty linen in public,” but rather to deal urgently and fully with all breakdowns in fellowship before they lead to spiritual assassination.

Read or Sing Hymn 521 “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would build up our congregation.

Friday (5/4) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 10:1-19. Some commentators have taken Joab’s words in verse 13 as an indication that Joab lacked faith. But this is to misunderstand what Biblical faith is. Dale Ralph Davis writes:

Well, if someone still claims that Joab did not show that he trusted in God, that he was not thoroughly assured of the promises of the Law, the reply to that is that God does not give particular promises about this or that to his children. We certainly have this point which should firmly persuade us that God will never abandon us, and that in the end he will show that our hope in him was not in vain, so that our faith will not be frustrated when it rests upon his mercy and his truth. Nevertheless, we must remain in suspense about many things. For instance, when we ask God for our daily bread, it is not that we are assured that he will send us a good harvest or a great vintage. We should leave that in his hands, and patiently await what please him. When we have any illness, we must rest well assured that he has not forgotten us, and that we have such access to him that, in the end, we will feel that he has looked on us in pity. The promise of God should be fully sufficient in regards to that. However, when we would like to have the word that today or tomorrow he will restore our health, we do not know – we are even in doubt of living or dying.

Read or sing Hymn 441 “Jesus Shall Reign” Prayer: Please pray for our Sunday school teachers.

Saturday (5/5) Read and discuss Ephesians 2:8-10. John Stott writes:

Paul was under no illusions about the degradation of mankind. He refused to whitewash the situation, for this might have led him to propose superficial solutions. Instead, he began this paragraph with a faithful portrayal of man as subject to three terrible powers, namely ‘sin’, ‘death’ and ‘wrath’. Yet he refused also to despair, because he believed in God. True, the only hope for dead people lies in a resurrection. But then the living God is the God of resurrection. He is even more than that: he is the God of creation. Both metaphors indicate the indispensable necessity of divine grace. For resurrection is out of death, and creation is out of nothing. That is the true meaning of ‘salvation’.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 29 April 2018 Sunday, Apr 22 2018 

29 April 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 75 “O Father, You Are Sovereign”

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: Proverbs 28:13

Hymn of Preparation:  554 From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 130:1-8

New Covenant Reading: Romans 8:18-25

Sermon: Wait on the LORD!

Hymn of Response: 559 “Father, I Know That All My Life”

Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 9:1-13

NT: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

David the Faithful Friend

Shorter Catechism Q/A #37

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (4/23) Read and discuss Psalm 130:1-8. Alec Motyer writes:

Yahweh has three companions. They never leave His side; He never comes without them. First mentioned is ‘forgiveness’ (verse 4), a word always used of sin and divine forgiveness – a word therefore of relationship. Yahweh has been offended by our actions, but has pardoned the offence and restored the broken relationship. Then there is the personal word, ‘committed love’ (verse 7). Unlike its companion word, [meaning] ‘compassion’, which refers to ‘being in love,’ … [this term] is the love which makes a promise for life, the love which stays the same ‘for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer.’ Yahweh’s third companion is ‘ransom’ (verse 7), the sufficient price which covers the need, buys back the kidnapped one, satisfies any lawful claim. We can call it, for convenience, the legal word. Of course, when we call these Yahweh’s companions, we really mean that they are part and parcel of Yahweh Himself; they declare what He is. When we come to Him in all our sin and unworthiness, we enter a rich company. When He comes to us in our sin, He comes not to condemn but to love, ransom, and forgive – and that is the proper ‘order’ of the words: the personal (love), the legal (ransom), and the relational (forgiveness). Everything else flows from the inexplicable basis: He loves us; and because He loves us He Himself provides and pays the ransom price, so that forgiveness full and free floods over our guilty souls.

Read or sing Hymn 75 “O Father, You Are Sovereign” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus pays it all so that salvation is entirely free and secure for you.

Tuesday (4/24) Read and discuss Read Psalm 92:1-15. The stately date palms and majestic cedars form a sharp contrast with the transient grass that typifies the wicked. The wicked sprout up like grass in the desert, but they quickly become scorched and wither away. But the LORD causes His children to persevere in faith and therefore to grow tall in the forests of the righteous – with the Holy Spirit producing much fruit for His Kingdom … until we are called home – to dwell in the house of the LORD forever. God is promising us both. The LORD is promising us a glorious life forever with Him in the age to come; and a life filled with meaning and significance in this present age. Let’s get a picture of a date palm and of a cedar of Lebanon fixed firmly in our minds. Both trees are symbolic of strength and longevity and both were very desired in the ancient world. The date palm is a magnificent tree. It grows remarkably straight and as tall as ten story building. Once date palms are mature, they can produce up to 300 pounds of dates per year. But what strikes me most about the palm tree is the deep and strong roots that it puts down into what is frequently dry and sandy soil. You have probably seen palm trees in Florida being bent over by hurricanes. But instead of breaking or being torn out by their roots, after the storm passes the palm tree normally returns to standing upright in just a week or so. Isn’t that a wonderful picture of the person who has been grafted into God’s family? We may be buffeted by the storms of this present evil age – but the LORD is both willing and able to make us stand! Or consider the Cedars of Lebanon. Unlike the date palms, the cedars grow not in hot sands but on mountains where they endure the bitter snows of winter. These cedars grow even taller than date palms and they can have a massive circumference of up to 50 feet around. The wood is prized for its fine grain, for the lack of knots, and for the fact that it is impervious to insects or to rotting. And astonishingly, it seems that some cedar trees can live for up to 3,000 years. That means that there may be a few cedar trees from the time of David which are still alive today! What a remarkable picture of strength, beauty, and longevity. When we take these two trees together, don’t they provide a wonderful portrait of the devoted saint as he or she grows into the latter years of life? If these trees would flourish so dramatically in the wild, how much more will the people of God who are planted, not in sand or snow, but in the House of the LORD and in its Courts? Read or Sing Hymn 554 From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee” Prayer: Ask the LORD to do what He has promised by making your life significant in the present and eternally secure in His house.

Wednesday (4/25) Read and discuss Romans 8:18-30. C. Marvin Pate writes:

The groaning of the cosmos is both positive and negative: negative because creation suffers under the curse of Adam’s sin, but positive because it longs for the new creation. And Christians understand that the dawning of the age to come at the first coming of Christ ensures for them a future body like Jesus’ glorified body. So believers’ groaning is negative in that they are subject to Adam’s sin, but positive in that they know their destiny is celestial. Furthermore, the Spirit’s groaning is testimony to the overlapping of the two ages. The Spirit groans within believers because they struggle over what to pray for in this present evil age. This is the negative aspect of the Spirit’s groaning. But such intercession of the Spirit on behalf of believers is also positive in that the heavenly Father knows the mind of the Spirit as to what is best for each struggling Christian and answers accordingly.

Prayer:  Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Thursday (4/26) Read and discuss 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. N.T. Wright comments:

Paul once again turns to the church and its needs. They will, he is confident, continue to live in the way that he has taught them, incredible though it may seem that a group who a few months ago had never thought of living a Christian lifestyle should continue to do so. What they need, if they are to be able to sustain this life, is, once more, the rooting of their hearts and lives, not in any pressure, not in any agenda from another human being, but in the love of God and the patience of the Messiah. Go on focusing heart and mind on Jesus Himself, Paul says, and as you meditate on His patience, and His strength under suffering, something of that patience will be given to you.

Read or Sing Hymn 559 “Father, I Know That All My Life” Prayer: Please pray for the men of the Presbytery as they complete their final preparations for meeting next week in Rochester, NY.

Friday (4/27) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 9:1-13. Tony Cartledge writes:

The story of David and Mephibosheth, for all of its possible political machinations, is a story about loyalty. The skeptical reader may find in David’s actions a kind of self-service, but the author writes as if David’s intent were singular and sincere: to live out the pledge of love he had made to Jonathan.

Loyalty is expressed in one way or another throughout this story. David desires to demonstrate loyalty to Jonathan by showing kindness to Jonathan’s descendants. The earnest favor that David bestowed upon Mephibosheth inspired Saul’s action to turn his loyalty to David and led Ziba to show loyalty to both of them, serving both David and Mephibosheth.

Modern negotiators and business leaders are always looking for the proverbial “win/win” situation. Here is an ideal model: the mutual loyalty shown by David, Ziba, and Mephibosheth served to benefit all parties involved. David gained greater security in knowing that Mephibosheth would be no political threat, while the handicapped son of Jonathan gained the security in knowing that David meant him good, not harm. David gained the good will of the people through his kind treatment of a possible rival, while Mephibosheth gained an honored place and his family’s land. In the process, Ziba won a royal appointment as the steward of Saul’s considerable estate.

In a very subtle way, …, the narrator reminds us that such loyalty as this has its roots in Yahweh. In v. 3, David asks if there is yet a survivor of Saul’s house to whom he may show “the kindness of God.” The history of Yahweh and His people was a history of Yahweh’s continued faithfulness, even when Israel was colored by the multivalence of the [Hebrew] term chesed which can mean “lovingkindness” on the one hand and “loyalty” or “faithfulness” on the other. This is the way God is, and this is the way God calls His people to be. When we are loyal to Yahweh, we will demonstrate our commitment through kindness to others. Our kindness, in turn, is a witness of God’s love, leading others to respond with faith, trust, and loyalty of their own.

Read or sing Hymn 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured” Prayer: Please lift up the young people in our congregation and pray that they would finish the school year well and with great joy.

Saturday (4/21) Read and discuss Psalm 130:1-8. Calvin writes:

Although God may seem to dissemble for a time, yet He never forgets His righteousness, so as to withhold relief from His afflicted people. Paul in like manner adduces the same reason why God will not always suffer them to be persecuted (2 Thess. 1:6-7) – [“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.”] It is a point worthy of special notice, that the welfare of the Church is inseparably connected with the righteousness of God. The prophet, also, wisely teaches us that the reason why the enemies of the Church did not prevail, was because God brought to nothing their enterprises, and did not suffer them to go beyond what He had determined in His own mind.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

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