MVOPC 11 October 2015
Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing”
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: Galatians 2:20
Hymn of Preparation: 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 16:1-11
New Covenant Reading: Hebrews 6:9-12
Sermon: Inherit the Promises
Hymn of Response: 353 “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 469 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”
OT: Genesis 1:1-25
NT: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
The LORD He is God!
Adult Sunday School: Interpreting the Moral Law: Part II
Shorter Catechism Q/A #12
Q. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
Monday (10/5) Read and discuss Hebrews 6:9-12. N.T. Wright tells the following story:
Sir Francis Drake was one of the many Englishmen who became famous during the reign of Elizabeth I. He sailed round the world, crossed the Atlantic many times, was involved in numerous sea battles in various parts of the world, was twice a member of parliament, and perhaps most famously, defeated the Spanish armada when it came to attack England in 1588. There are many well-known stories about him: how he insisted on finishing a game of bowls even though the armada was in sight; how he spread his cloak over a muddy puddles so that the queen could walk over it without getting her feet wet; how he once tried to claim California as a British possession.
No so well known, perhaps, but significant in revealing one of the secrets of his life, filled as it was with remarkable achievements, is a prayer he wrote which is still in frequent use in churches today. It sums up more or less exactly the message of the passage of the middle of Hebrews 6:
O LORD God, when thou givest to thy servants to endeavor any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through Him who for the finishing of thy work laid down His life for us, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen
What Drake said there about great works which had to be attempted – he might have been thinking of another long and dangerous sea voyage, or the numerous tasks he undertook to improve the lot of the people living in south-west England – Hebrews says about the entire enterprise of living as a Christian. What matters is not so much the beginning, important thought that obviously is, but continuing, carrying on until the thing is thoroughly finished.
Read or sing Hymn 2 “O Worship the King” Prayer: Please pray for the stated meeting of our Presbytery which begins in two weeks and all the preparations that are currently underway.
Tuesday (10/6) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 4:32-40. Americans love great experiences. We spend enormous amounts of time and money pursuing special experiences while on vacation. Of course, some of the most dramatic experiences of our lives caught us entirely be surprise. Yet, if we consider the three or four most striking experiences that we’ve ever had – we would have to admit that they pale in comparison to what Moses is describing in these verses. Imagine what it must have been like to walk through the Red Sea on dry land only to witness the Egyptian army drowning behind you. Imagine what it would have been like to hear the LORD Himself thunder out of the cloud of fire. Or imagine eating food (manna) that was sent down from heaven day-after-day. These events, and many others, were simply extraordinary. But what did the LORD do these things? In the twentieth century it has become increasingly common to place the focus on Israel’s liberation as though God was pointing to the political liberation of all mankind. Yet, this is not what the passage actually says. Instead we read a twofold purpose: (1) First, these things were revealed so that we would know that the LORD alone is God and also so that we would know something of His power and character; (2) Second, these things were revealed so that we would obey His commandments. Prayer: Ask that the LORD would gather new people into this congregation who would benefit by becoming a part of this particular local church family.
Wednesday (10/7) Read and discuss Psalm 16:1-11. This Psalm can seem difficult to interpret until we see how David’s prophesy about the resurrection of the Messiah undergirds the confidence he has in both this life and the life to come. This Psalm can be outlined like this:
- 1-2: David’s Relationship to God.
- 3-4 The Immediate Result of David’s Relationship with God.
- 5-9 David’s Present Blessings
- 10-11 David’s Future Hope
Where interpreters tend to get tripped up is in seeing how verses 10-11 relate to the rest of the Psalm. Some think that, since verses 1-9 relate to David’s personal experiences, verses 10-11 must focus on David’s personal experiences as well. But the Apostles Peter and Paul both quote verse 10 and both state that it applies specifically to Jesus and not to David (Acts 2:25-31; 13:35-36). Other interpreters wrongly assume that because verse 10 applies to Jesus that the whole Psalm must also be about him and not about David. While this is a more plausible interpretation it is probably better to see the Psalm as arising out of David’s own experience of being abandoned by men with David rejoicing that He will never be abandoned by His Lord. How does the idea that the Psalm arises out of David’s own abandonment fit together with the truth that verse 10 is a prophesy about Jesus? The answer is to recognize that David’s confidence for the future was not based upon God’s unmediated relationship with David but upon the mediated relationship that David had with God through the LORD’s Messiah. David looked forward (as we look back) to the coming Messiah who would fight Satan, sin, and death on his behalf. The vindication of the Messiah through the resurrection would therefore be David’s vindication as well. In this life David was guided by God (v. 7), guarded by God (v. 8), and gladdened by God (v. 9). All of this rested on the simple confidence He had that Jesus would be triumphant. As those who live on this side of the empty tomb we should be able to say with even greater confidence: “Jesus has won! Lord, You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Read or sing Hymn 94 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks for Christ’s victor and the guarantee of our ultimate victory in Him.
Thursday (10/8) Read and discuss Genesis 1:1-25. Genesis 1 is about God. That may not be obvious from all the debates regarding the length of the days of creation in Genesis 1, but if we read Genesis 1 through the eyes of the Exodus generation we will see that it is primarily a revelation of who God is. As the Israelites, and the mixed multitude with them, were leaving Egypt they were not debating about the age of the earth or about how long it took God to create the world. But they were journeying to a strange land and wondering about their future there. All the other Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern cultures were polytheistic and undoubtedly many of the Israelites would have imbibed some of that understanding of the way the world works – even if they did not worship these so-called gods. Against this backdrop, Genesis 1:1 begins with a statement of God’s absolute and exhaustive sovereignty for He created everything that exists (creation ex nihilo). The LORD simply speaks and all of creation is subject to His decrees. This has continuing ramifications throughout world history. There are many people, including many Christians, who think that the LORD only makes claims on those who claim to be His followers. We have even seen the strange idea develop in evangelicalism of people “making Jesus Lord.” But what Genesis 1:1 reminds us of is that since God is the creator of all things and all people – all people owe Him absolute and unswerving loyalty. This exhaustive sovereignty of God is a great comfort to those who trust Him. For the Israelites, it meant that Yahweh was sovereign over the land that they were going too and therefore that He was entirely able to deliver the Promised Land into their hands. The same is true of us. The details of the future are unknown to each of us, but our Lord holds that future in His hands and is both willing and able to deliver on every promise He has ever made. Read or sing Hymn 92 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Friday (10/9) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. Scott Hafemann writes:
From Paul’s perspective, God’s power and glory are not abstract theological postulates, but realities to be experienced. Conversion and transformation are brought about not by putting two and two together and making the right decision, but by an encounter with the living God. Men and women are created anew when they come face to face with the presence of God’s Spirit. Our attempts to psychologize Paul’s thought or to relegate it to the realm of feelings are not a reflection of Paul’s perspective, but a reaction to the poverty of our own knowledge of God.
Thus, in drawing out the contemporary significance of Paul’s theocentric worldview, we need to keep in focus the ways in which Paul sees the glory of God in Christ at work among the church. Otherwise, it is simply too easy to become enamored with the false glory of the health and wealth gospel. In our day and age, as in Paul’s, the moral transformation into God’s character pictured in 3:18 and the endurance in the midst of adversity modeled in 4:1-8 seem too mundane to be miraculous. To consider health more important than holiness, however, is to slight God himself and his work in bringing about the new creation in our midst. For Paul, the reality of the resurrection is already being inaugurated in the conversion of believers into the body of Christ.
As a result, the power of Christ in establishing his reign as the Son of God is already taking hold in the lives of believers, who, as children of God, wage war against the flesh. And the return of Christ will consummate God’s kingdom with the resurrection of those who are owned by God, as signified by the down payment of the sanctifying Spirit in their lives. We thus live in the overlapping of the ages (the kingdom is here, but not yet here in all its fullness). The life of faith therefore takes place within the context of the suffering of God’s people, who, being “saved in hope” (Rom. 8:17-25), live and endure by the power of the Spirit while they await the future consummation.
In view of this emphasis on growth in holiness and the endurance of faith as the present demonstration of God’s power, there is a twofold application of Paul’s thought to the experience of Christians in general. (1) Paul’s portrayal of his apostolic ministry calls us to accept his authority and embodiment of the gospel as legitimate. There is a dangerous tendency among Christians to pick and choose their religious authorities according to their likes and dislikes. For many today, Paul is no longer popular. Nonetheless, his claim to authority throughout these chapters is unmistakable. To reject his person and message is to reject the gospel of Christ. As challenging as Paul’s message may be, we turn away from it at our own peril.
Prayer: Ask the LORD to stretch you and cause you to grow in your Christian life.
Saturday (10/10) Read and discuss Hebrews 6:9-12. Tom Schreiner writes:
The author [of Hebrew] mixes together encouragement and rebuke in the letter. Believers need warnings and admonitions to remain faithful, but at the same time they also need encouragement. The readers are reminded that their obedience is not trivial or forgettable. God notices what they do in their everyday lives. He knows whether they truly love his name, and that love is expressed in service for the saints. All believers should continue such love and service to the end. The Christian life is a journey that requires patience and continued faith. The reward of eternal life will not be given to those who drop out of the race. Retribution will be meted out for those who cease loving God and fellow believers. Hence we need to be provoked to be diligent until the final day. We must not give in to spiritual torpor. The flames of spiritual life should be fanned by trusting the promises of God.
Read or sing Hymn: 528 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.