Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 1 October 2017 Sunday, Sep 24 2017 

1 October 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 100 “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 10:19-22

Hymn of Preparation:  521 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7

New Covenant Reading: John 15:1-8

Sermon: God Glorifies Himself through Us

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”

1 October 2017

OT: Genesis 47:13-31

NT: Philippians 3:17-21

In Egypt but Not of Egypt

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #7

Q. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (9/25) Read and discuss John 15:1-8. Leon Morris writes:

“I am the vine” (v. 5) is the last of the great “I am” sayings of this Gospel. Like the others, it is in the style of deity and expresses something of Jesus’ great claim for Himself. Only one who is supremely great can fulfill what is implied in being the vine of which all Christians are no more than branches. Just as His “I” is emphatic, so is it with His “you.” Jesus is not speaking of people in general, but of those who had committed themselves to him and who had been “cleansed” by His word (v. 3). The words express at one and the same time the difference between Christ and His followers and their closeness. And it underlines the truth He is pointing out that fruitfulness depends on living contact with Him. The [branch] severed from the vine will bear no fruit.

But Jesus does not remain with the negative. He goes on to say, “He who remains in Me and I in him, this person bears a lot of fruit.’ The normal state of discipleship is one of fruitfulness, and we should be clear about this. Jesus does not look for fruitfulness simply from a few great saints. He expects each one of us to live a fruitful life. And he speaks of a large quantity of fruit. We are not disciples in the sense in which we should be if we are content with the minimum. Jesus expects each of His followers not only to bear fruit, but to bear much fruit.

Read or sing Hymn 100 “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to cause His word to take root in your life that it would produce the fruit of righteousness and peace.

Tuesday (9/26) Read and discuss Mark 5:1-20. N.T. Wright comments:

For a century or so before Jesus’ time [this] whole area [the land of the Gerasenes] had been overrun by the Romans. The legions had marched in and taken over, as they did everywhere from Britain to Egypt. Whoever got in their way was crushed. A few people – local politicians, tax-collectors, call girls – did all right out of the Romans. Most people saw them as The Enemy. As Satan incarnate.

And some people found that they were gripped by that evil force internally as well as externally. Two thousand years hasn’t given us much more insight the strange condition … called demon-possession, though there is plenty of evidence for such phenomena in our world too. (Just because some people become paranoid and insist on seeing demons behind every bush, causing every problem in life, that doesn’t mean there aren’t malevolent forces out there that can get a grip on people. … It seems as though this poor fellow had become … totally possessed by the troop of phantom invaders that had taken over his humanity. They had given him a superhuman strength but had left him a human wreck: naked, isolated, and self-destructive.

Why Jesus went to that bit of territory we’ll never know. But what he did was not only dramatic; it was deeply symbolic. Many in the area, Jews and non-Jews alike, must have longed to see the Romans pushed back into the Mediterranean Sea. If they read books like Daniel, they would understand the sea as the place where the monsters came from – and monsters were like cartoon characters standing for the big hitters on the world’s political scene. Rome was the Monster of all monsters. Rome was unclean. Rome was a nation of pigs. The best place for Rome was back in the sea.

So what was going to happen when the man who was announcing God’s kingdom, God’s sovereign rule over all human rule, came face to face with someone … possessed by Rome and her unclean legions? God’s kingdom is to bring healing, restoring justice to Israel and the world. If unclean beings are fouling up human lives, the answer is plain. Into the sea with them.

Read or sing Hymn 521 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” Prayer: Give thanks that the Kingdom of God comes with power.

Wednesday (9/27) Read and discuss Isaiah 5:1-7. Alec Motyer writes:

Put into one word what the LORD looks for in His people, and that word is obedience. When He brought His redeemed people out of Egypt by the blood of the Lamb, He led them straightaway to Sinai, for the LORD’s law is not a ladder by which the unsaved seek to climb into His good books, but a pattern for the life of obedience, so that those already in His good books, by redemption, may live according to the will of their Redeemer, and experience His covenant blessings. This link between obedience and blessing reaches back to Eden, where Adam and Eve enjoyed the riches of the Garden simply obeying one single rule (Gen. 2:16-17). Isaiah taught this same great truth in the Song of the Vineyard. Provided only that His people lived according to His revealed ‘judgment’, and held to His principles of ‘righteousness’, the vineyard was safe behind its protecting wall, and no marauding beast could enter and trample it. When the LORD says, ‘What more …” (v. 4) He is anticipating the ‘every blessing’ of Ephesians 1:3. Within His vineyard every needful blessing and supply awaits the obedient life – a cardinal truth expressed by Peter when he spoke of ‘the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him’ (Acts 5:32).

Prayer: Ask the LORD to reform the Church in New England by causing us to rediscover the centrality of obedience in the Christians life.

Thursday (9/28) Read and discuss Philippians 3:17-21. Richard Melick, jr. writes:

Paul stated that “our citizenship is in heaven.” The metaphor had rich meaning to the Philippians. Immediately their thoughts would have turned to an analogy with their earthly citizenship. They were proud of their Roman citizenship, but the analogy would have conveyed more. Philippi was an outpost colony, and, interestingly, Paul was at the home base in Rome. Regularly they awaited news from the capital to know how to conduct their business. When Paul said that they belonged to a citizenship, he spoke directly to them. Though they belonged to a city, the political entity spanned several geographical areas. Similarly, the church was an outpost of an entity which had its own capital, heaven. Although “citizenship” may call to mind a place, Paul used it of a people. They awaited the Savior from [where they held] that citizenship. He would come with power sufficient to subdue everything and with ability to transform their bodies to be like His. They would naturally associate subduing power with a Roman emperor, but transforming power was unique to Christ. Once again, Paul spoke of the resurrection as the climax of his Christian experience. By implication the false teachers would not share in the resurrection of the just because their expectations were earthly rather than heavenly.

Read or sing Hymn 559 “Father, I Know that All My Life” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation.

Friday (9/29) Read and discuss Genesis 47:13-31. Iain Duguid writes:

Ultimately, [the] blessing for all nations is found in Jesus Christ, the true son of Abraham. Whatever else we may or may not have to give to people around us, the greatest blessing we can pass on to our friends, to our families, and to our children is Jesus Christ. Jesus experienced the pain and suffering that goes with every sojourn here on earth. The days of his earthly sojourn were far shorter than Jacob’s –less than even half of the biblical norm for a lifetime, seventy years. Those few days were filled with profound suffering and pain; he was well acquainted with sickness and sorrow, with mourning for dead friends, with betrayal and abandonment by His disciples, and finally with profound separation from His beloved Father on the cross. If anyone ever had the right to characterize the days of the years of His sojourn as nasty, brutish, and short, it was Jesus. Yet we see none of Jacob’s bitterness in Jesus, but rather a constant spirit of thankfulness for his Father’s good gifts, submission to the bitter aspects of His Father’s will, and forgiveness for those who sinned against Him. He took these great and lasting afflictions upon Himself for us, so that we, His family, might receive the blessing that we had forfeited through our sin and might enjoy life beyond this life, a true home at the end of our earthly sojourn. He also took these sufferings upon himself for the joy that was set before Him, for the joy of winning back a people to become God’s special possession in Him (Hebrews 12.2). Through Christ, God’s mercy now rests on aliens and strangers from all nations, as they come to God and receive in Him eternal rest for their souls.

Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH.

Saturday (9/30) Read and discuss John 15:1-8. N.T. Wright comments:

Within Jewish tradition, the vine was a picture of Israel. God brought a vine out of Egypt, and planted it in the promised land (Psalm 80:8-18). It had been ravaged by wild animals and needed protecting and re-establishing. The vineyard of Israel, said Isaiah in chapter 5 has borne wild grapes instead of proper ones. Other prophets used the same picture.

Now Jesus is saying that He is the ‘true vine’. This can only mean that He is, in Himself, the true Israel. He is the one on whom God’s purposes are now resting. And His followers are members of God’s true people – if they belong to Him and remain ‘in’ Him. The picture of the ‘vine’ isn’t just a clever illustration from gardening. It is about who Jesus and his people really are, and what is now going to happen to them as a result.

Within the farewell discourses as a whole, this section opens up a whole new dimension of what Jesus wants to say as he takes his leave of his closest associates. He has already spoken of them being ‘in Him,’ as He is ‘in the father’ (14:20). Now we see more of what this means. On the one hand, it is a way of speaking of Himself as Israel-in-person, and of His followers as members of God’s true people because they belong to Him. On the other hand, it is a way of speaking of the intimate relationship with Him that they are to enjoy, and (so to speak) to cultivate. Branches that decide to ‘go it alone’, to try living with the life of the vine, soon discover their mistake. They wither and die, and are good for nothing but the fire (verse 6). But branches that remain in the vine, and submit to the pruner’s knife when necessary, live and bear fruit. That is the prospect that Jesus holds out to His followers, to all of us.

Read or sing Hymn 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 24 September 2017 Sunday, Sep 17 2017 

24 September 2017 – Rev. Gary Moore preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

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

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: John 14:1-3

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

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 91

New Covenant Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-25

Sermon: Wings of Refuge

Hymn of Response: 693 “Blessed Assurance”

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 691 “It is Well with My Soul”

24 September 2017

OT: Isaiah 40:1-31

NT: Luke 3:1-22

The Salvation of an Incomparable God 

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #6

Q. How many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (9/18) Read and discuss Psalm 91. This beautiful psalm has brought great comfort to God’s people throughout the centuries. But what exactly is the LORD promising to do for His people? A wooden reading of the promises in this psalm is clearly wrong. After all, God’s people do suffer all sorts of hardships. Interestingly, Satan himself twists Scripture (in particular vs. 12) by attempting to read these promises in a wooden way. In Luke 4 beginning at verse 9 we read:

And (Satan) took (Jesus) to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

            “‘He will command his angels concerning you,

                        to guard you,’

            and

            “‘On their hands they will bear you up,

                        lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Certainly, we don’t want to be guilty of twisting God’s word along with Satan. Yet, if that is not the right way to understand the promises of this Psalm – what is? As we read the Psalm we notice that what God is promising is to be near to His people with an emphasis on being a shelter and a home to them. Jesus applies the promise from verse 13 to His Disciples in Luke 10:17-20. The context of Christ’s application help us to understand how we are to appropriate all the promises of this Psalm to our daily life. We read:

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

There are two wonderful truths in this passage. First, Jesus is promising His Disciples that they will be successful in the vocation to which He has called them. In this context, “nothing shall hurt you” does not mean that they won’t suffer. In fact, Jesus repeatedly teaches His Disciples that He is going to be tortured and put to death – and they can expect the same sort of treatment that their Master will receive.  Yet, just as Christ’s suffering actually leads to His victory over Satan, sin, and death; our suffering as His followers in no way hinders God’s call in our lives. The struggle and suffering are real – but they are struggles and sufferings onto a guaranteed victory. Second, Jesus tells His Disciples that, as great as the promise of their ultimate success is, they should rejoice even more over the fact that God Himself has drawn near to them and will be their home for ever. This encouragement is for us as well. Read or sing Hymn 98 “Now Thank We All Our God” Prayer: Rejoice that Christ guarantees that you will bear fruit for the Kingdom of God if you simply abide in Him.

Tuesday (9/19) Read and discuss John 14:27-31. In verses 30 and 31. Jesus says:

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Once more Jesus reminds us of His profound love for the Father. But what I want to focus on is what Jesus says about Satan. First, a small point that might make a big difference in the way that you see the world. What does it mean when Jesus calls Satan “the ruler of this world”?  While this may seem like a tiny point, I don’t think the ESV is being particularly helpful with the way that they translate this verse. The Greek simply says: “the ruler of the world” which is how the New American Standard Bible renders it. At least to my ear, translating the definite article as though it were the pronoun “this” makes me think that Jesus is speaking of planet earth. But that is wrong. Regrettably, many of our dispensationalist friends have made a complete mess of the way they see life on planet earth because they confuse the title “ruler of the world” with “ruler of planet earth” and so they imagine that planet earth is somehow ruled by Satan and we are looking forward to the day when Satan will be removed from office and Jesus will finally reign over planet earth. Let me say it plainly: That view is entirely wrong: Consider the stirring words to the last stanza of This is My Father’s World:

This is My Father’s world,

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the Ruler yet.

This is My Father’s world: the battle is not done;

Jesus who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and heav’n be one.

That’s not just a great hymn, that is what the Bible clearly teaches. Remember what Jesus said to His Disciples right before He gave the Church the Great Commission. Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” How much authority? All authority? Where? – Just in heaven? No! “All authority in heaven and on earth!” Jesus reigns over planet earth right now. So, what does the title “ruler of the world” mean. Throughout John’s writings the term world almost always refers to those forces who are opposed to God. By calling Satan the ruler of the world Jesus is simply identifying Satan as the leader of those who in opposition to God – and then Jesus announces the critical point: “Satan has no claim on Me.” Where do our anxieties come from? One of the sources of our anxiety is that we will be unmasked and other people will see us with all of our flaws. This can simply be a matter of shame or it can be a matter of coming under judgment if our offenses are made known to either a human or a divine court. The last thing we want is for someone with the dirt on us to come and make our offenses and our shortcomings known. But Jesus was at perfect peace, for even though the accuser of the brethren was as malicious as anyone could ever be, and although Satan hated Jesus with every fiber of His being, “the ruler of the world” had nothing to accuse Jesus of … because Jesus had a perfect record and perfect heart. Now you might be thinking, “I could never know peace like that. Satan could stay up all night bringing accusations against me – without having to make any of them up. … Well yes, you are different than Jesus in that way. But think about what Christ came to do for you. What does Romans 8:1 say:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

How much condemnation?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Or as we sometimes sing:

Oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the LORD, praise the LORD, O my soul!

Beloved, there may still be plenty of things which might bring you shame in this world – but if you are in Christ Jesus – you do not carry the even tiniest speck of guilt. Jesus has washed it all away with His own blood. … That is Christ’s gift to you. Your experience of peace in this world is founded on the objective peace which Christ has established between you and Almighty God. Read or sing Hymn 697 “Wonderful Words of Life” Prayer: Give thanks that you are more than a conqueror through Him who loved and loves you.

Wednesday (9/20) Read and discuss 1 Peter 1:10-12. Karen Jobes writes:

Peter concludes that just as the sufferings of Jesus were followed by glories (1:11), those who suffer for the name of Christ will also find glories when Jesus appears. Whatever suffering the Christians of Asia Minor have experienced is to be understood as a part of that redemptive plan foretold long before to the prophets. This is to be a strong word of encouragement to them not to give up on Christ. Peter’s understanding of the solidarity of Christ with his followers may explain Peter’s use of the plural [for “sufferings” and “glories”] – Christ’s suffering and his glory extended to his followers.

According to Peter, the revelation of the sufferings and subsequent glories of the Messiah given to the prophets is ultimately intended for the benefit of a later generation. The relationship between the prophets’ message for that later generation and its meaning for their own time is understood by recognizing that the same Spirit is at work in both. The Spirit of Christ revealed the sufferings of Christ to a particular prophet in a particular generation so that as the prophet addressed the people and issues of his own time, he did so from an eschatological viewpoint that proleptically knew of the suffering and glories of the Messiah before they became historical realities. Because of this forewitness, the prophets could offer to their own generation counsel that presupposed the ultimate triumph of God’s redemptive purposes because the prophets had witnessed it, even though they themselves lived in times that would call that confidence into question.

Prayer: Pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering great persecution in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

Thursday (9/21) Read and discuss Luke 3:1-22. David Garland writes:

Christianity is not a mystery religion with mythical, fantastical stories. It happened in history. Luke fixes his story firmly in the context of world history. …

Those wearing the crowns and holding the reins of power fool themselves into believing that they determine the course of history. But the narrative makes clear that God’s plan is not controlled by the laws of kings, the machinations of politicians, or the solemn rituals of priests. History is directed by a transcendent power leading to an appointed time that is not in the appointment books of any of these rulers. It is a time only God controls. The Word of God bypasses the halls of power with their royal trappings and coms to a lone prophet in the wilderness. The potentates get footnotes in the secular histories, but God’s purposes are manifest in persons who were largely unknown to the historians of the age.

Read or sing Hymn 699 “Like a River Glorious” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (9/22) Read and discuss Isaiah 40:1-11. Alec Moyter writes:

The most wonderful thing about these verses is not the beauty of their expression (though that in itself would have been enough), nor the attractiveness of what they reveal (though, again, that would suffice), but the place where they come. Doom has been pronounced on Hezekiah (39:6-7), and with it the death knell seems to have been sounded for all Isaiah’s glittering predictions of a coming king. At this darkest of moments, the call goes out to speak the word of comfort, to proclaim hardship finished and sins forgiven, to announce that Yahweh himself is on his way with worldwide significance, that his word and promises can never fail, and that Zion’s people are the flock he has worked for and now holds in his tender care. This is the LORD undefeated even by our most grievous sin; the LORD who never calls back the word he has spoken, and who cannot be deflected from its fulfilment! … The Sovereign God is never more sovereign than in the work of mercy and salvation, and it is those who know they have most signally erred and strayed from his ways, who, within the blessed arena of salvation, feel most gently the warmth of his shepherding arms around them, and know themselves for sure to be the lambs of his flock.

Prayer: Lift up the young children in our congregation and pray that each of them would delight to call the LORD their Shepherd.

Saturday (9/23) Read and discuss Psalm 91. Commenting on verse 16, Calvin writes:

Believers will never be exempt from troubles and embarrassments. God does not promise them a life of ease and luxury, but deliverance from their tribulations. Mention is here made of God glorifying believers, intimating that the deliverance which God extends, is not of a mere temporary nature, but he puts much honor upon them in the world and glorifies himself in them conspicuously, but it is not till the completion of their course that he affords them ground of triumph.

Wealth and other worldly comforts must be looked upon as affording some experience of Divine favor or goodness, but it does not follow that the poor are objects of Divine displeasure; soundness of body and good health are blessings from God, but we must not conceive on this account that he regards with disapprobation the weak and the infirm. Long life is to be classed among benefits of this kind, and would be bestowed by God upon all his children, were it not for their advantage that they should be taken early out of the world. They are more satisfied with the short period during which they live than the wicked, though their life should be extended for thousands of years. The expression cannot apply to the wicked, that they are satisfied with length of days; for however long they live, the thirst of their desires continues to be unquenched. … The Psalmist might therefore with propriety state it as a privilege peculiarly belonging to the LORD’s people, that they are satisfied with life. The brief appointed term is reckoned by them to be sufficient, abundantly sufficient. Besides, longevity is never to be compared with eternity. … It is with such a view that the Psalmist, after stating all the other benefits which God bestows, adds this as a last clause, that when he has followed them with his fatherly goodness throughout their lives, he at last shows them his salvation.

Read or sing Hymn 388 “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 17 September 2017 Sunday, Sep 10 2017 

17 September 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 98 “Now Thank We All Our God”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Galatians 2:20

Hymn of Preparation:  697 “Wonderful Words of Life”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 29:1-11

New Covenant Reading: John 14:27-31

Sermon: No Fear

Hymn of Response: 699 “Like a River Glorious”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

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

27 August 2017

OT: Genesis 47:1-12

NT: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Blessed Because of the Son

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School

Shorter Catechism Q/A #5

Q. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (9/11) Read and discuss John 14:27-31. Edward Klink writes:

The overall goal of this section of the farewell discourse is to invite the Christian into the life of God. The Christian life is … through Christ and in the Spirit. Christ may be the way/truth/life, but he was sent on behalf of the Father and he is empowered by the Spirit. Thus, the Christian life is overtly Trinitarian, not only in its orthodoxy but also in its orthopraxy. The emphasis on the Spirit/Paraclete in this [passage] simply brings to fruition the fullness of life promised in the prologue: “In the Word was life? (1:4), and this “life” is participation in the Trinitarian life of God, inaugurated now in the era of the new covenant and ultimately consummated at the new creation.

While we are right to speak of this life as a Spiritual life, for this life is expressed in the Spirit, it is not spiritual in a manner that is less than physical. This life requires real dependence, real obedience, and real suffering. It is not only grounded in the flesh, death, and resurrection of Christ, but it is incorporated amidst the difficulties of this world, even the conflict that is ensuing as part of the cosmic battles involving “the ruler of this world” (cf. Eph. 6:10-17). Our Spiritual life is not best exemplified by some sort of monastic separation from the world but by the peace of God in the midst of suffering and persecution. Peace is an overtly Christian trait. The world, which can neither see God nor relate to God, cannot provide this peace – nor have it. This peace was sent form the Father in the person of Jesus Christ and is applied by the Father and the Son in the person of the Holy Spirit. Life in the inaugurated new covenant is the peace of God. In this newly existing state of Christian existence, we are not defined by our circumstances alone but by our God and for his glory.

Read or sing Hymn 98 “Now Thank We All Our God” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Florida as they try to recover from Hurricane Irma. Pray that Christians in Florida would be zealous about sharing the gospel at this uncertain time in people’s lives.

Tuesday (9/12) Read and discuss John 14:15-26. Jesus promises His disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance everything which He had taught them. That means, when you read the four Gospels which are based upon Apostolic testimony – indeed the Gospel we are reading was written by one of the original disciples – you are not dependent on hoping that John had a really good memory. It is the Holy Spirit who would bring to remembrance everything which Jesus had told them. This means that for those of us who love Jesus, and who want to believe His promises and keep His commandments, that we can confidently know what Jesus taught simply by reading the four gospels. That is an extraordinary blessing. Nevertheless, we still need to wrestle with whether we are understanding His teaching correctly and rightly applying it to our lives in the post-resurrection era. That brings us back to the first promise. Jesus promised His Disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things. Now “all things” does not mean that the Holy Spirit taught the Disciples about Differential Equations and sub-atomic particles. The “all things” the Holy Spirit would teach the Disciples was how to fully understand what Jesus had already revealed and how to apply the truths of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to our lives in the Church age. We have these truths contained in the rest of the New Testament. Let me try to summarize the promises of today’s passage in two simple statements:

  1. First, Jesus promises that because of the work of the Holy Spirit we will have an objective basis for knowing God and knowing God’s will for our lives; and
  2. Second, because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit come and make their home with believers – we can have an experiential encounter with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ so that we not only know about God but so that we know God. That is an extraordinary promise.

Read or sing Hymn 697 “Wonderful Words of Life” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Mexico as they work to recover from the twin blows of Hurricane Harvey and also their recent massive earthquake.

Wednesday (9/13) Read and discuss Ezekiel 37:15-28. After Solomon, the twelve tribes of Israel were divided into two groups. The Northern tribes were routinely called Israel and the Southern tribes were called Judah. What led to the division? While there are many practical explanations at the root of any division amongst God’s people is sin – and sin they did. The Northern tribes were given over to all manner of idolatry. The powerful also frequently oppressed the poor. Finally, the LORD sent the Northern tribes into the Assyrian exile – an exile from which they would never return as a nation. Ezekiel is prophesying at a time long after the Northern tribes had been destroyed – yet he speaks of a day when God will reunite His people. How can this be? Doug Stuart comments:

Disunity, disobedience, corrupt national leadership, and multiple sanctuary polytheism – these things that would be overturned by divine action in the future were what Israel and Judah and known throughout their history. They had their roots in the past, in the rivalry of Jacob’s children reported in Genesis, in the tendency to idolatry described in Exodus, in the warnings against the dangers of kingship in Deuteronomy, in the intertribal rivalries described in Judges, and so on. The point is that the Israelites had established a pattern. They were habituated to sin, just as all human institutions and people are. What they needed was a change of the nature and magnitude that they themselves could not possibly bring about by human effort. They needed the special grace of the LORD to help them, so that He would offer rescue, and they would need only to respond in faith. We know in retrospect that it was only the work of Christ that could provide for all that Ezekiel’s audience was hearing in chapter 37. Only in Him could the people of God truly be unified and obedient, and only His leadership was the sort that could show them the way to the eternal sanctuary of God.

Prayer: Give thanks that, in Christ, God reverses the devastation caused by human rebellion.

Thursday (9/14) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 8:1-15. Scott Hafemann writes:

The example of the Macedonians is still instructive today. In a radical role reversal of the world’s values, the abundance of their poverty, fueled by the riches of their joy in God, led to a wealth of generosity. We usually think of “fund raisers” as encouraging those who can afford to give to give more; in the Macedonian churches those who had nothing begged to give. Why? Paul’s answer is the grace of God. Indeed, the “also” of 8:7 shows that giving is just as much a spiritual gift of grace as any of the other charismatic gifts the Corinthians had received. Giving is not merely an expression of compassion for the needy. Nor is it simply a reflection of our own concern. Rather the spiritual gift of grace as any of the other charismatic gifts the Corinthians had received. Giving is not merely an expression of compassion for the needy. Nor is it simply a reflection of our own concern. Rather, the spiritual gift of giving to others is to be the reflex of our own joy in the grandeur of God’s gift to us in Christ. As we have seen, the Macedonians’ joy led to giving, not the other way around. For this reason, throughout Paul’s discussion, the collection is termed a “grace” and a “ministry!”

Read or sing Hymn 699 “Like a River Glorious” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would grant you a generous heart.

Friday (9/15) Read and discuss Genesis 47:1-12.  James Montgomery Boice writes:

In the New International Version of his speech, Jacob’s words to Pharaoh number just thirty. In Hebrew, there are only twenty-one words. Yet these words contain a great deal of godly witness. The first thing we notice … is that Jacob refers to life as a pilgrimage [the ESV uses “sojourning” instead of pilgrimage].” In fact, he manages to do it twice, just as he managed to bless Pharaoh in the name of the God of his fathers twice. He calls his own life a pilgrimage (“The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty”), and he calls the lives of his ancestors a pilgrimage (“They do not equal the years of the pilgrimages of my fathers”).

A pilgrim is a traveler, a person with no present abode. There is a sense in which this was literally true of Jacob. Most of his life had been involved in some kind of wandering – first from home to Haran, then as a shepherd working for Laban, still later as a wanderer in his own country, moving from Shechem to Bethel to Bethlehem. At last he had come to Egypt.

Still, it is hard to read this statement without suspecting that there is more in it than a mere reference to wanderings. For one thing, Jacob refers to the pilgrimage of his father, Isaac, and Isaac had not really wandered much. It is not mere physical movement that Jacob has in mind but rather the spiritual truth that for God’s people this world, however much we may settle into it, is not our home. We are pilgrims here until we come at last to that heavenly home God has prepared for us.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to remind you, along with your brothers and sisters in our church, that our citizenship is in heaven.

Saturday (9/16) Read and discuss John 14:27-31. Chuck Swindoll writes:

Circumstances may be difficult, but courage is found in obedience. The “ruler of this world” is none other than Satan. When the first man chose to disobey God, all of creation fell under the dominion of the author of in, evil, death, and corruption. The incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ was nothing short of an invasion, a liberation force of One. And He suffered the assault of the enemy in order to free humanity from the dominion of sin.

Jesus warned that the enemy planned to strike soon. At that very moment, Judas was making plans with the religious officials to organize a cohort of temple guards and Roman soldiers. The LORD assured His followers that the means of overcoming fear of the enemy is obedience. He declared, “I do exactly as the Father commanded me.” While the prospect of suffering the penalty of sin on behalf of the whole world troubled Him deeply, obedience gave Him courage.

Jesus pulled His disciples aside before His arrest to equip them for ministry without His physical presence. He had called them to shine the light of truth in a world still ruled by evil, and He had faithfully equipped them with all the information they would need; fear, however, threatened to render them powerless. Why? For the same reason fear plagues Christians today: lack of confidence in the truth of His words. …

In response to the disciples’ fear, Jesus confirmed again the truth He had been teaching from the beginning. Believers no longer have reason to fear. Unlike Adam after his disobedience, we have peace with God because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice (Rom. 5:1); therefore, God’s omnipotence is our ally against any conceivable enemy.

Read or sing Hymn 388 “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 10 September 2017 Sunday, Sep 3 2017 

10 September 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

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

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Hymn of Preparation:  333 “Gracious Spirit, Dove Divine”

Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 37:15-28

New Covenant Reading: John 14:22-26

Sermon: We Are Not Orphans

Hymn of Response: 338 “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

10 September 2017

OT: Genesis 46:1-33

NT: Mark 10:17-31

From Famine to Fortune

Adult Sunday School: Bioethics – Jonathan Coppeta Teaching

Shorter Catechism Q/A #4

Q. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (9/4) Read and discuss John 14:22-26. R.C. Sproul writes:

Jesus said he Spirit would both teach the disciples new things and remind them of things Jesus had said. Jesus was a rabbi, which means “teacher,” and His followers were disciples, which means they were “students” or “learners” in Jesus’ school. That school was a mobile school. When Jesus chose His disciples, he said to them, “Follow me,” and He meant that literally. He was a peripatetic teacher; that is, He walked around and lectured while He walked. His students could not take notes or record His words; they had to engrave what He said in their minds That’s why Jesus spoke so frequently in parables and short, pithy aphorisms that were easy to remember. He aimed to make His words and His lessons easy for His students to recall.

But even the best students were not capable of memorizing everything Jesus said during His lifetime. Humanly speaking, we forget things; important facts and such slip from our minds. But Jesus said, “I’m going to take care of that – one of the first tasks that the Holy Spirit is going to take care of when He comes is to bring all of these things to your remembrance.” That’s part of the reason we have so much confidence in the accuracy of the Gospels. These accounts do not rest simply on the natural ability of the disciples to recall perfectly what Jesus taught them. Rather, their record was super-intended by the Holy Spirit Himself, the Spirit of truth, whom Jesus sent to represent Him.

Read or sing Hymn 84 “Under the Care of My God, the Almighty” Prayer: Please pray for the troubled nation of North Korea and also that world leaders would be able to find a way forward other than war.

Tuesday (9/5) Read and discuss John 14:15-21. It is essential for us to realize that the way we love Jesus is different from the way that Jesus loves us. Jesus doesn’t love us because we are lovely. That is, Jesus didn’t look at any of us and say: “They are just so wonderful that I have to come into a vital relationship with them.” No, Jesus doesn’t love us because we are loveable. He makes us loveable by loving us with His perfect love. When we love other human beings, we have a mixed sort of love. It is true that we are drawn to other people because we see their better attributes but we also need to be longsuffering with them and forgiving. It turns out that, by God’s grace, our consistent efforts to love fellow sinners may be one of the things that the LORD uses in their lives to in fact make them more loveable. Yet, this is not how we love Jesus. You never have to be longsuffering and forgiving with Jesus. You never love Jesus by making Him more than He would be without your kindness. We love Jesus because He is beautiful and because He is already perfectly lovely. Do you see where I’m going with this? One of the key things the Holy Spirit does in our sanctification is that He shows us how beautiful Jesus is. As God’s word is read and preached, as we pray, as we receive Christ in the sacraments – the Holy Spirit is shining a spotlight on Jesus so that we will see how amazingly beautiful and loveable He is so that we are drawn to love Jesus more fully. And as we love Jesus more fully we express that love by more frequently and more fully doing that which pleases Him. Let me give you an illustration: If you are married you sometimes do really nice things to surprise or bless your husband or wife. While you’re carrying out your plan to surprise you husband or wife with something that you know is going to make them happy – how do you feel? Do you say to yourself: “What a terrible burden I’m bearing because it’s my duty to love my husband?” Do you say: “This is miserable, but he was kind to me last month and this is my grateful response that I must do simply out of obligation?” I really hope that none of you thinks or says either of those things. No! If you love your spouse, it gives you joy to carry out those things which you know are going to bring joy to him or her. Now, I am one of the most duty orientated people you will ever meet in your entire life. I certainly don’t think that DUTY is a dirty word. But even I want you to think more about keeping Christ’s commandments in this personal relational way – that you would grow in your love for Jesus and therefore increasingly find it a pleasure to do that which pleases Him. Read or sing Hymn 333 “Gracious Spirit, Dove Divine” Prayer: Please pray for the Session of our church as it meets this evening.

Wednesday (9/6) Read and discuss Ezekiel 37:15-28. Iain Duguid writes:

Church unity has become, in some quarters, the modern equivalent of the Holy Grail. It is the revered object of earnest searching and eager desire. There is good reason for this enthusiasm among Christians. Jesus himself prayed for his post-apostolic followers to be one, just as he and the Father are one. His desire was that we might be brought to complete unity so that he world may know that the Father sent the Son (John 17:21-23). Though in the present we live in a world where Christians are fragmented and separated from one another, on the base of the Scriptures we should be repeatedly saying to ourselves and to others: “This is not how the church ought to be.” But it is not enough to be in favor of unity in the abstract, we must also be clear about the basis for this unity. In what is the unity of God’s people to be grounded? Ezekiel 37 gives us the key answers.

Ezekiel’s sign pointing to the reunification of God’s people was grounded in the sovereign act of God’s establishing one king of his people and one temple in the center of their worship. So also our desired unity as Christians, if it is to be genuine, must be grounded not in ecumenical study commissions and interchurch potluck dinners, but in Jesus Christ, who fulfills both aspects of Ezekiel 37 as our one true temple and our true king. True Christian unity does not flow from the top down, with high-level ecclesiastical committees and denomination leaders show the way, nor does it flow from the bottom up, coming by means of grass-roots initiatives by individual church members. Rather, it flows from the center out: It comes form Christ-centered people discovering that they are, in fact, servants of a common Lord and King.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would be used to build up the body.

Thursday (8/31) Read and discuss Mark 10:17-31. To TRUST Jesus is to FOLLOW Jesus. One of the most common understandings of the encounter between the rich young ruler and Jesus is that this man was trying to earn his way into eternal life. If we read the passage this way we will emphasize that the man asks Jesus what he must do. Jesus responds by revealing that the rich young ruler is deluding himself. He isn’t really keeping the law. On this reading Jesus is attempting to drive the rich young ruler from the law to the gospel so that he will be saved. The reason why this interpretation has achieved such a wide following among evangelicals is that it is mostly correct. But if we pay close attention to the text we can see more fully what Jesus was trying to accomplish. First, we should notice that this man was not trying to earn his way to receiving eternal life as though it were a set of wages. The language of “doing” is almost identical to that of the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:30) as well as the crowd at Pentecost (Acts 2:37). More significantly, the rich young ruler explicitly uses the term inherit and an inheritance is not earned. What he is asking is, “how can I be a true son of the kingdom?” Second, it is helpful to remember whom the Old Testament declared to be God’s son. The Old Testament clearly teaches that Israel was God’s son and that God had entered into a covenant (family) relationship with Israel on Mount Sinai.  As in all redemptive covenants, the Mosaic Covenant begins with God’s provision – in this case the Exodus from Egypt which was a sheer act of God’s grace. The identity of the true children of God should therefore be easy – which of those whom God delivered were keeping the covenant stipulations (a.k.a. the Ten Commandments)? By showing that this outwardly model Jew was failing to live up to the covenant stipulations – Jesus is raising a more radical point than that a man cannot earn his way into heaven.  Christ is also teaching us that even those who have been freely delivered by His grace are incapable of maintaining perfect faithfulness to the covenant. We not only begin by grace, but salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone – from beginning to end. Third, our Lord’s challenging application of the First and Tenth commandments to the rich young ruler was not intended to drive him from the law to the gospel but from self-righteousness to receiving external righteousness as a gift. This may seem like a subtle distinction – but it is an important one. If we think that God wants to drive us from the law to the gospel we can easily think that obedience is no longer important. We can therefore easily delude ourselves into thinking that we really are believing in Jesus when we don’t have true faith at all.  As Jesus says elsewhere, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:47).” If the rich young ruler truly believed Jesus, he would have actually sold everything that he had and followed Him. Because to TRUST Jesus is to FOLLOW Jesus. Read or sing Hymn 338 “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would help you to overcome those areas in your life where you find it difficult to trust Him.

Friday (9/1) Read and discuss Genesis 46:1-33.  What the LORD says to Jacob in verse 4 is critical: “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again.” Tremper Longman writes:

To understand the full theological import of this divine word to Jacob, we need to remember that the gods of the ancient Near East were local gods. Marduk was the god of Babylon, Baal the god of Canaan (and likely there were specific manifestations of the god Baal for specific regional locations); Amon-Re was a god of Egypt. They all had their territory.

The God of Jacob, however, was not restricted by real estate. Thus, God assures Jacob that he would go with him to Egypt. Of course, by this time in the narrative this is not surprising. After all, we have already seen how God was “with Joseph” in Potiphar’s household and in prison. The consistent witness of Scripture is that Israel’s God is the only God, so of course God can move freely to Egypt.

Imagine the comfort that this statement would bring later generations of Israelites. In particular, we can think of the Babylonian exiles, whose temple had been destroyed, and then they had been forcibly removed to the land of their captors. Even later, those who still lived away from the Promised Land after the return could know that their God was with them in faraway lands. The book of Esther teaches this important truth by way of the “hidden providence” of God that saves God’s people from their foes.

With the coming of Christ and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the covenant, the universal claims of Israel’s God are even more evident to those who read the New Testament. Indeed, for this reason, we may have lost the sense of distinctiveness of this claim within its Old Testament context. Even so, the awareness that our God is a God not just of a local place, nation, or even the planet earth, should stagger us. Yahweh is the God of the cosmos that he created.

Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you.

Saturday (9/9) Read and discuss John 14:22-26. Edward Klink writes:

The departure of Jesus is not the departure of God, for Jesus mentions for a second time “the Paraclete”, who will take his place and fulfill the role of teacher and god’s presence for the disciples. This is not to say, however, that the Spirit eclipses the Son but simply to say that the Spirit fills the office of the Paraclete first occupied by Jesus. In every way (and in an even greater way) Jesus is still ministering to his people. … the “transition” from the first to the second Paraclete is not therefore a transition from the ministry of the son to the Spirit, for the first does not cease to minister when the second comes; rather, they serve their respective roles harmoniously together.

Read or sing Hymn 242 “Not All the Blood of Beasts” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 3 September 2017 Sunday, Aug 27 2017 

3 September 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

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

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 Corinthians 5:1-5

Hymn of Preparation:  529 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

Old Covenant Reading: 1 Samuel 15:10-23

New Covenant Reading: John 14:15-21

Sermon: Who Loves Jesus?

Hymn of Response: 658 “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

3 September 2017

OT: Deuteronomy 13:1-11

NT: 2 Peter 2:1-3

Spotting the Fake

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #3

Q. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/28) Read and discuss John 14:15-21. N.T. Wright comments:

‘If only we’d been there when Jesus was around!’ people often say. ‘It would have been so much easier. He would have explained everything to us, and told us what to do. And he’d have been such an encouragement. Whatever we were doing, he’d be positive about it, and we’d want to go on and do even better.’

It’s a common perception, but it’s wrong on two counts.

First, the evidence of the four gospels suggests that the people who were around in Jesus’ day didn’t see it like that themselves. Some of his closest friends betrayed and denied him. Even the beloved disciple ran away in the garden. Most people couldn’t really make [Jesus] out. He was compelling but puzzling. Many thought he was mad.

Second, in this passage and several others in the next two chapters, we find that Jesus has promised to be ‘around’ with his people from that day to this. In fact, he’s promised that it will be easier, not harder, in this new mode. His people will be able to do things they couldn’t do when he was physically present.

Read or sing Hymn 80 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters along the Gulf Coast who are dealing with the damage of Hurricane Harvey and also the shocking large amount of rain that some areas have received.

Tuesday (8/29) Read and discuss John 14:1-14. In verse 2, Jesus says:

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Jesus is making clear that death does not mean separation from God for the Christian. Death actually means that you will be, in one sense, closer to God because God has a room for you in His house. Some of you who grew up with the King James Version may be disappointed that Jesus promises you a room rather than a mansion. For those of you who are younger, the King James Version reads: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” So, you may be wondering how your promised mansion got downgraded to “just” a room – which is, in fact, what Jesus is promising – a room in His Father’s house. Two things:

  1. First, please realize that this is a word picture rather than a physical description of the new heavens and the new earth. Presumably we will travel around the New Heavens and the New Earth and live in different places. Jesus is not trying to give us a physical description of what eternity will look like – He is trying to convey something far more profound.
  2. Second, it turns out that a room in the Father’s house is vastly better than any mansion you could imagine. … Let me see if I can make this clear with a personal illustration.

When Kristin and I travel to Dallas we stay with Kristin’s mother. There are many nice hotels in the area – but that isn’t where we stay. Nor do we rent a mansion for a week. We stay in a room in her mother’s house. Why? Because we are family. When we fly home, what do we talk about? We don’t talk about what a nice house her mother has. We talk about Kristin’s mom and how she is doing. After all, we didn’t go to Dallas to visit the house. We went to Dallas to be with her mom. The relationship is what’s central. Everything else is just icing on the cake. That is what Jesus is telling us about eternity. The chief thing isn’t what our accommodations will be like but that we will be with God. More than that, you won’t be staying at a motel – or even the Crown Plaza – God has a room just for you … because by trusting in Jesus you have become a member of His family – so you belong in the Father’s House and in the Father’s family. Read or sing Hymn 529 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus comforts us by guaranteeing our future with Him; revealing the Father to us; and by guaranteeing that our lives will matter for good as we follow Him in this world.

Wednesday (8/30) Read and discuss 1 Samuel 15:10-23. Andrew Steinmann writes:

As king, Saul was expected to obey God’s command completely. He was told not only to completely destroy Amalek, but as Samuel further defined it, he was also to “finish them off” specifically because that was God’s judgment upon them as sinners. Samuel’s questions got the heart of the matter. Why did Saul not obey? And why did he take plunder that was to be destroyed, thereby doing what Yahweh considered evil? Each question places Yahweh’s will at the center of the discussion. Samuel also accused Saul of “pouncing” on the spoil. Previously Saul had stopped the people from sinning when they had “pounced” on the spoil and ate meat with its blood (14:32-25). Now Saul was part of the pouncing on the spoil.

Saul countered that he had “obeyed Yahweh’s voice” and accomplished his mission. He maintained that sparing Agag while destroying the rest of the Amalekites was not a violation of Yahweh’s instructions. But his brazen defense started to crack as he diverted responsibility to the troops, a subtle indication that he knew he had sinned. In 1521, as in 15:15, he blamed the troops for sparing the animals and construed their motive as wanting to offer a sacrifice. Moreover, he once again tried to recruit Samuel to participate in this fabricated rite by referring to “Yahweh your God” and to Gilgal.

The blame game is as old as humanity’s fall into sin. Adam blamed Eve – and God by remind Him that He was the one who had given her to him. Moses’ brother, Aaron, blamed the Israelites for the false god he created and set up for them to worship. Likewise, Saul now blamed the people for the false worship over which he intended to preside.

For the third-time Samuel replied to Saul with a question before breaking into a short poetic discourse that spoke of the idolatry of the human will exalted over against God. The question and the first two lines of the poem state, restate, and restate again that a believer’s faith is manifested in obedience and that the offering of sacrifices is no substitute for it. Subsequent prophets also make similar statements. Offering are not acceptable to God when they are presented with a prideful heart that insists that its way is better than God’s.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to work in your life so that you increasingly manifest the obedience which flows from faith.

Thursday (8/31Read and discuss Deuteronomy 13:1-11. In the 20th and 21st centuries it Americans have come to the place where we largely view religion in terms of preference and personal choices. We imagine that people are entitled to believe and to say whatever they want. That is, we have taken the legal right to freedom of religion and speech and mistaken that for the moral right to believe and teach whatever a person decides for him or herself. But God never gives anyone the right to rebel against Him or to lead others away from trusting in Him. Under the Mosaic administration of the Covenant of Grace, the covenant community was also a nation with a penal code that reflected that reality. While we are not to simply take the Mosaic penal code and impose it upon modern States, we can still learn from what that code teaches us about God and how we should live. Commenting on the fact that Deuteronomy 13 imposes the death penalty for those who would lead people in Israel away from the LORD, Eugene Merrill comments:

The purpose of implementing such a drastic action was not only to satisfy the wounded honor of a holy and righteous God but to serve as a deterrent to future covenant violation (v. 11). Unfortunately, the injunction must seldom if ever have been carried out. Over and over again Israel and Judah were unfaithful to the LORD, a pattern of life that rough a series of judgments upon them, culminating in the eventual demise and deportations of the respective kingdoms.

That is, there were two evils that led to the Assyrian and then the Babylonian exiles. First, there were those who rebelled against God and encouraged others to also do so. Second, there was a failure to exercise the discipline of carrying out the laws which the LORD had given to restrain such evil. Read or sing Hymn 658 “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All” Prayer: Ask the LORD to hallow His name in your home, your workplace, and in your community.

Friday (8/25) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:1-3.  Simon Kistemaker writes:

What is the motive of the false teachers? Peter’s answer is brief: greed. They are interested in money that Christians have. When they achieve their purpose, they discover that greed impels them to get more. Greed spawns greed. The false teachers, Peter says, “are experts in greed” (v. 14). In his epistles, Paul warns us against this sin. He identifies greed with idolatry (Col. 3:5). People who have fallen into the sin of greed exclude themselves from the kingdom of God, for they have severed the bond between God and the creature. They worship money instead of God.

The false teachers, Peter warns his readers, “will exploit you with stories they have made up.” They enter the Christian community with fabricated stories that unsuspicious believers accept as gospel. Paul also is acquainted with such unscrupulous peddlers who are interested in not the souls but the possessions of the people. He writes, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit” (II Cor. 2:17).

Prayer: Ask the LORD to protect the Orthodox Presbyterian Church from false teachers.

Saturday (9/2) Read and discuss John 14:15-21. N.T. Wright comments:

As a result of this promised Spirt, the Spirit of Jesus himself, Christians now, remarkably though it may seem, are in a better situation even than the followers of Jesus during his lifetime. They were sometimes able to do remarkable things even then; Jesus gave them the power, in the other gospel accounts, to perform healings like his own. But mostly they were following him in some perplexity, and when he wasn’t there they couldn’t do very much.

But now, by the spirit, they will be able to do all kinds of things. When Jesus ‘goes to the father’ – in other words, when he defeats the power of death through his own death and resurrection – then all sorts of new possibilities will be opened in front of them. The ‘works’ he has been doing, as he says again and again, are the evidence that the father is at work in him. Now he says that the disciples will do even greater works than these!

It’s in that setting, too, that he makes the first of several remarkable promises about prayer. ‘Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.’ The all-important phrase ‘in my name’ doesn’t, of course, just mean adding ‘in the name of Jesus’ to anything we might think of, however stupid, selfish or hurtful. The ‘name,’ after all, as in many cultures, is supposed to reveal the character. Yesterday I looked out the window and saw some demonstrators protesting against something the government was doing. ‘not in my name!’ their posters said. What they meant was: ‘You are claiming to represent this country, but I am dissociating myself from what you’re doing! You’re not doing it in my name!’

Praying ‘in Jesus’ name’, then, means that, as we get to know who Jesus is, so we find ourselves drawn into his life and love and sense of purpose. We will then being to see what needs doing, what we should be aiming at within our sphere of possibilities, and what resources we need to do it. When we then ask, it will be ‘in Jesus’ name’, and to his glory; and, through that, to the glory of the father himself (v. 13). But, when all this is understood, we shouldn’t go soft on that marvelous ward anything. He said it, and he means it.

Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 27 August 2017 Sunday, Aug 20 2017 

27 August 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 55 “To God Be the Glory”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 55:7-9

Hymn of Preparation:  154 “Thou Art the Way”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 23:1-6

New Covenant Reading: John 14:1-14

Sermon: Let Not Your Hearts be Troubled

Hymn of Response: 181 “We Come, O Christ, to You”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

27 August 2017

Hymns: 110, 455, 338, 679

OT: Deuteronomy 13:1-11

NT: 2 Peter 2:1-3

Spotting the Fake

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #2

Q. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/21) Read and discuss John 14:1-14. Edward Klink writes:

Heaven is a place (or at least a topic) that still fits comfortably in most modern culture. Those with minimal religious interest will use the term as a concept for the afterlife, a happy place of peaceful dwelling for those who have died. In this [passage], however, the place about which Jesus speaks is entirely different. It is not a generic place beyond this one but a home, the very home of God the Father and the Son, who not only dwells there but prepares it for the children of God. This “house” belongs to God and to those – only those – who believe in the Son. For this reason it is a glorious place, not because of us but because of God; it is a home God prepared for us, a home in which we may be with God. This is cosmological home, the extension of God’s grace from this temporal place into eternity.

The danger is that such common talk about a very uncommon thing will secularize it – transfer it from sacred to civil possession, making the dwelling of God a common depiction in cartoons, movies, and common speech – places in which it does not fit or make sense. No, the place about which Jesus speaks is “my Father’s house.” So we must speak of it as sacred, since God himself not only prepared it with his own hands but paid our debt fully in order to give us access to it. This place, therefore, cannot be secularized, for it is not a common possession. It is a place of grace, the holy of holies, the creation, our true home. The church needs to recover this sacred place, not only as a future place but as a present hope that guides and directs the manner of our current dwelling.

Read or sing Hymn 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus will one day take you and all His people to live with God forever.

Tuesday (8/22) Read and discuss John 13:31-38. The cross is not a regrettable incident that Jesus had to get past in order to be glorified at some later point. The cross of Christ is the center of history. Even the glory that Christ enjoys through His resurrection, ascension, and being seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty – is linked back to the cross. That is why the cross is the central symbol of Christianity. That is why for 2,000 years Christians have been proclaiming the cross in our preaching, in our hymns, and in the Lord’s Table where we celebrate the Lord’s victorious death until He comes again. Even the Angels join with the saints is praising Jesus for His life-giving death. Consider this picture of heavenly worship from Revelation chapter 5. John writes:

Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

            “Worthy are you to take the scroll

                        and to open its seals,

            for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

                        from every tribe and language and people and nation,

            and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

                        and they shall reign on the earth.”

            Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

            “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

            to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

            and honor and glory and blessing!

            And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

            “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

            be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!

            And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Rather than casting shame upon the Son of Man, Jesus will forever be glorified because of what He accomplished on the cross. Read or sing Hymn 154 “Thou Art the Way” Prayer: Ask that the word of the cross would ring forth with power throughout New England.

Wednesday (8/23) Read and discuss Psalm 23:1-6. D.A. Carson helpfully reminds us that the model by which we understand something largely determines what we see. For example, how do you think about the Church? If you think of the Church as an organization, you will focus on management and programs. If you think of the Church as a family, you will focus on relationships. If you think of the Church as the pillar and foundation of the truth, you will focus on teaching and the proclamation of the Apostolic Gospel. All of these models are valid. We are therefore to see the Church through all of these models (and many others) rather than reducing it down to our favorite model. One obvious question that this raises is what primary metaphor to you use as a model for thinking about God?  Frequently, in the Psalms, God is referred to as Creator and King. He is also referred to using abstract language like “Rock” and “Fortress”. In Psalm 23 David selects a metaphor that would have been very personal. He likens God to a Shepherd.  Remember that David himself had been a shepherd as a boy and continued to think of his own kingship as a type of shepherding of the people of Israel.  As a good shepherd, David cared for and defended the sheep with great courage.  As David told Saul before going out to fight against Goliath:

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

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

Thursday (8/24) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 13:1-11. In the 20th and 21st centuries it Americans have come to the place where we largely view religion in terms of preference and personal choices. We imagine that people are entitled to believe and to say whatever they want. That is, we have taken the legal right to freedom of religion and speech and mistaken that for the moral right to believe and teach whatever a person decides for him or herself. But God never gives anyone the right to rebel against Him or to lead others away from trusting in Him. Under the Mosaic administration of the Covenant of Grace, the covenant community was also a nation with a penal code that reflected that reality. While we are not to simply take the Mosaic penal code and impose it upon modern States, we can still learn from what that code teaches us about God and how we should live. Commenting on the fact that Deuteronomy 13 imposes the death penalty for those who would lead people in Israel away from the LORD, Eugene Merrill comments:

The purpose of implementing such a drastic action was not only to satisfy the wounded honor of a holy and righteous God but to serve as a deterrent to future covenant violation (v. 11). Unfortunately, the injunction must seldom if ever have been carried out. Over and over again Israel and Judah were unfaithful to the LORD, a pattern of life that rough a series of judgments upon them, culminating in the eventual demise and deportations of the respective kingdoms.

That is, there were two evils that led to the Assyrian and then the Babylonian exiles. First, there were those who rebelled against God and encouraged others to also do so. Second, there was a failure to exercise the discipline of carrying out the laws which the LORD had given to restrain such evil. Read or sing Hymn 181 “We Come, O Christ, to You” Prayer: Ask the LORD to hallow His name in your home, your workplace, and in your community.

Friday (8/25) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:1-3.  Simon Kistemaker writes:

What is the motive of the false teachers? Peter’s answer is brief: greed. They are interested in money that Christians have. When they achieve their purpose, they discover that greed impels them to get more. Greed spawns greed. The false teachers, Peter says, “are experts in greed” (v. 14). In his epistles, Paul warns us against this sin. He identifies greed with idolatry (Col. 3:5). People who have fallen into the sin of greed exclude themselves from the kingdom of God, for they have severed the bond between God and the creature. They worship money instead of God.

The false teachers, Peter warns his readers, “will exploit you with stories they have made up.” They enter the Christian community with fabricated stories that unsuspicious believers accept as gospel. Paul also is acquainted with such unscrupulous peddlers who are interested in not the souls but the possessions of the people. He writes, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit” (II Cor. 2:17).

Prayer: Ask the LORD to protect the Orthodox Presbyterian Church from false teachers.

Saturday (8/19) Read and discuss John 14:1-14. Edward Klink writes:

The very first thing Jesus addresses with his disciples in the discourse proper is their fear. He commands their fear away, providing the Father and the Son as the more appropriate object of their focus and devotion. The same powerful and authoritative voice that spoke creation into existence now addresses his disciples. Jesus calls them to faith, not fear. But note that this replacement is only possible because Christ has taken our fear upon Himself. The only comfort a person can receive is the one that comes from the cross. The reader, no less than the disciples, is to receive and respond to the same, ongoing admonition today to live by faith not fear.

Read or sing Hymn 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 20 August 2017 Sunday, Aug 13 2017 

20 August 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 53 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 8:1-4

Hymn of Preparation:  355 “We Are God’s People”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 133:1-3

New Covenant Reading: John 13:31-38

Sermon: Love One Another

Hymn of Response: 359 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 119:97-120

NT: 2 Peter 1:16-21

A Sure Word 

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch

Shorter Catechism Q/A #1

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/14) Read and discuss John 13:31-38. N.T. Wright comments:

[Jesus] has only been with them a short while, and now he must go. Few teacher would be able to face such a moment without qualms. The disciples have learnt so little, understood so little, grasped so little of what their wonderful master has been doing in their midst. How will they cope without him?

The next three chapters will provide the answer, as Jesus makes the disciples solemn promises about the coming holy spirit who will continue to guide them as he himself had done. But before he even gets to that, he has something else to offer them: the simplest, clearest, and hardest command of all. Love one another.

He describes it as a ‘new commandment.’ Love, of course is central in many parts of the Old Testament. The book of Leviticus (19:18) commanded the Israelites to love their neighbors as themselves. But the newness isn’t so much a matter of never having heard words like this before. It’s a matter of the mode of this love, the depth and type of this love: love one another in the same way that I have loved you.

It has been hard for the disciples up to this point even to appreciate what Jesus has been doing on their behalf; now he’s telling them to copy him! As with the footwashing, they are to look back at his whole life, his whole way and manner of life, and to find in it a pattern, a shape, an example, a power. To wash someone else’s feet, you have to think of yourself as only a slave. That, as we saw, can feed all the wrong kind of thinking: it can produce a sort of inverted pride, a pride at one’s own humility. But with love there’s no danger of that. Love is all about the other person. It overflows into service, not in order to show off how hard-working it is, but because that it its natural form.

Read or sing Hymn 53 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you more like Jesus in the way that you love your brothers and sisters in His Church.

Tuesday (8/15) Read and discuss Acts 9:19b-31. Everyone wants to be accepted and valued by at least one group of people. We find this truth in the famous theme song to the hit T.V. show Cheers:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

This song touches a chord in us precisely because we don’t always feel this sense of acceptance and belonging that each of us longs for. Well if you think that you have it bad, consider the Apostle Paul. After he was converted:

  1. The Jews in Damascus turn against Paul and want to kill him. They are so committed to Paul’s death that he has to escape the city by being let down from the city’s walls in a large basket.
  2. No need to fear! Surely Paul will be able to find comfort from his fellow believers in Jerusalem, right? Actually, they were too terrified of Paul at first to let him join with them. They thought it was all a trick and that Paul hadn’t truly been converted.
  3. Thankfully Barnabas has the courage to embrace Paul and to introduce him to the Apostles. Paul then uses his skill in Greek and in the Scriptures to proclaim Christ to the Greek speaking Jews (“Hellenists”) in Jerusalem. The result? Now the Greek speaking Jews want Paul dead as well. I wonder if Paul didn’t start wanting to go to a place where no-one knew his name!

There is a very important lesson for us in these events. Being chosen by God and set apart for His service does NOT mean that life will be easy or that you will be universally appreciated. Yet, it is also important to realize that these hardships did not hinder in the least the LORD’s plans to make Paul into a fit instrument. It is true that God crushed Saul’s pride when Jesus struck him blind on the road to Damascus. It is true that the LORD continued to crush the Apostle Paul through much suffering throughout his ministry. It is also true, as John MacArthur reminds us, that “From the ashes of Saul’s old life would arise the noblest and most useful man of God that the world has ever known.” If that isn’t enough for you in the face of your own personal sufferings, then remember this: There is a place, an eternal home, where everyone will know your name and always be glad that you came. There is a place where you will be completely accepted and loved. You just aren’t there yet. Read or sing Hymn 355 “We Are God’s People” Prayer: Please lift up the suffering people of North Korea.

Wednesday (8/16) Read and discuss Psalm 133:1-3. How do you feel about gathering together with your brothers and sisters in Christ for worship? Suppose you had a friend who told you how much she enjoyed gathering in her congregation for worship because there was such a spirit of unity in her church. You then ask a typically American question: “What does that feel like?” What if she responded: It’s great! It’s just like …

            It is like the precious oil on the head,

                        running down on the beard,

            on the beard of Aaron,

                        running down on the collar of his robes!

            It is like the dew of Hermon,

                        which falls on the mountains of Zion!

            For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,

                        life forevermore.

You might think your friend had lost her mind, but these are actually fairly straightforward images. Let’s take them in reverse order.

  1. Mount Hermon is 120 miles north of Jerusalem. You can think of it as the highlands. What would this image mean to pilgrims who were singing Psalm 133 while ascending into the city of Jerusalem? Think about the last time you went on vacation to a place in the mountains. You wake up in the morning while the dew is falling. The air smells unusually fresh. Perhaps you walk outside barefoot and simply try to take it all in. For a moment you think: “This is the way life is supposed to be.” You realize that you can’t stay here. Your work is back in the city. But your time here refreshes you so that you can return to the city with joy. That is the way it is supposed to be when you gather with God’s people for worship. It should be a time of refreshing as you head back into the world for the rest of the week. Of course, this is only the case when Christians are truly dwelling together in unity.
  2. The oil running down Aaron’s beard symbolized the presence of the Holy Spirit as Aaron was anointed and installed as Israel’s high priest. It showed that God had chosen to provide a priest for us who would represent us before the LORD and who would offer up sacrifices on our behalf to reconcile us to God. The greater sense we have of our need to be reconciled to God the greater will be the sense of joy we have in contemplating the provisions that He has made for us.  Of course, Aaron pointed forward to the High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us.

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH.

Thursday (8/17) Read and discuss Psalm 119:97-120. Alec Motyer writes:

Recall that Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Was he thinking particularly about Psalm 119:97-120? Probably not, but there is no better summary of the central thrust of these verses. Obedience is the required proof not only of our commitment to the word of God – his revealed truth – but our love for God himself. The psalm says so; Jesus says so. Take then, almost at random, what Psalm 119 says here about relating to God’s truth: ‘meditation all day’; consistency in our ‘walk’ because his word is his teaching; emotional delight; the use of revealed truth as light on life’s pathway and resource in life’s threats; truth memorized; concern for the whole truth; seeking God’s upholding so that we may obey – and undeviating concentration on his word; [and] devotion to his word as the passport to his favor. We possess his revealed truth: his teaching; what he has revealed of himself, his truth and his way; the very word he has spoken; what he designed for our obedience; his lamp for the next step, and his light for the way ahead. If we feel we need life and renewal, is it because we have neglected his renewing, life-imparting word? Love and respect for the word opens and closes today’s reading (97, 120) and lies close to the center (113). I need to ask, “How do I stand in the light of all this – and, by the way, how do you stand? The fact of the matter – calling us all to a reassessment of ourselves and our daily use of our Bibles – is that the Word of God and the God of the Word are inseparables.

Read or sing Hymn 359 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” Prayer: Lift up the Church in the increasingly secular country of Canada. Pray that our brothers and sisters would be made faithful and that the LORD would call many new people into His Kingdom.

Friday (8/18) Read and discuss 2 Peter 1:16-21.  John Calvin writes:

In this verse, too, Peter condemns all human wisdom so that we may learn humbly to seek the true rule of understanding elsewhere than in our own power of perception, for apart from the Word nothing is left for men but darkness.

It is worth noticing further what he says about the clarity of Scripture. This would be a false commendation if Scripture were not a fit and proper guide to show us clearly the way. Therefore anyone who opens his eyes by the obedience of faith will see by that very experiment that Scripture has not been called a lamp for nothing. To the unbelieving it is obscure, but those who willfully give themselves over to death are blind anyway. It is therefore a damnable blasphemy of the Papists to imagine that the light of Scripture does nothing but dazzle the eyes, so that they frighten off the simple from reading it. It is no wonder that proud men, puffed up by the wind of their false self-confidence, do not see that light which the Lord bestows only on the humble and the little children (Matt. 11:25).

Prayer: Give thanks to the LORD for the light of His Word.

Saturday (8/19) Read and discuss John 13:31-38. Leon Morris writes:

“A new commandment” is in an emphatic position in the Greek. It is important. This is the one place in this Gospel where Jesus uses the term “new.” The content of the commandment is given very simply: “Love one another.” Jesus is not speaking here of love to all people but of love within the community of believers (it “is presented as the marching order for the newly gathering messianic community.” Carson). Love itself is not a new commandment, but an old one (Lev. 19:18). The new thing appears to be the mutual affection that Christians have for one another on account of Christ’s great love for them. A community has been created on the basis of Jesus’ work for us, and there is a new relationship within that community. “It was ‘new,’ because of the love of Christ’s friends for Christ’s sake was a new thing in the world” (Dods). Jesus himself as set the example. He calls on them now to follow in his steps. He is not asking them to do any more than he himself has done.

Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 13 August 2017 Sunday, Aug 6 2017 

13 August 2017 – Dan Borvan Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 21 “Sing Praise to the Lord!”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: John 14:1-3

Hymn of Preparation:  94 “How Firm a Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-24

New Covenant Reading: 2 Peter 1:12-15

Sermon: Remember the Truth

Hymn of Response: 585 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship – Presentation by Missionary Sam Folta

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

 

Shorter Catechism Q/A #107

Q. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power and glory to him. And in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (8/7) Read and discuss 2 Peter 1:12-15. Simon Kistemaker writes:

After Jesus reinstated Peter as an apostle (John 21:15-19), Peter exemplified his total commitment to Jesus even in the face of impending death. For instance, the night preceding Peter’s trial before Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-19), “Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains” (v. 6). He was sound asleep, so that the angel who came to release him had to strike him on the side to wake him (v. 7). Peter committed himself completely to the care of his lord and therefore lived without worry and fear. He slept.

In his second epistle, Peter demonstrates this same trust and confidence in Jesus. He knows that the Lord has informed him about his imminent departure. Thus he compares the passing from this life with the removal of a garment. He departs to be with Jesus, “which is better by far” (Phil. 1:23).

Read or sing 21 “Sing Praise to the Lord!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to strengthen your faith.

Tuesday (8/8) Read and discuss John 13:1-17. Remarkably, Matthew, John, and Acts refer to at least six different old testament passages which foretold Christ’s betrayal at the hands of Judas. The LORD was making it abundantly clear that this betrayal was entirely in accordance with His sovereign plan. Let’s just focus on Psalm 41 which is the Old Testament scripture that Jesus is quoting in today’s passage. The heart of Psalm 41 is a moving lament. Yet both the introductory and the concluding verses are marked by thanksgiving and confidence in the LORD’s goodness. Jesus quotes from the central lament section of the Psalm to describe His coming betrayal at the hands of one of His closest companions. This psalm speaks vividly of the profound pain caused when friendship is betrayed. The psalmist, perhaps King David, had enjoyed a time of being at the pinnacle of popularity. Such popularity and power always draws a crowd of followers but it also draws enemies. Anyone who envisions his enemies triumphing over him must do so with a heavy heart. How then can one describe the anguish caused when not only your enemies but your intimate companion raises his heel against you in betrayal? Jesus knew this pain. Let me say that again: Jesus knew this pain. He not only had commissioned Judas to ministry and shared meals with him, at the Last Supper, Jesus had stooped to wash Judas’ feet. Yet we should not think that the pain of such betrayal led our Lord to despair. The very psalm that Jesus quoted expresses absolute confidence in Yahweh. This is not merely a general confidence expressed in a vague manner. It is a personal confidence that Yahweh will vindicate His wrongfully betrayed Servant. Psalm 41 continues …

By this I know that You delight in me:

            my enemy will not shout in triumph over Me.

But You have upheld Me because of My integrity,

            and set Me in your presence forever.

Jesus felt the anguish of being betrayed by Judas even while He maintained complete confidence that His Father in heaven would vindicate Him completely. Read or sing Hymn 94 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus chose to suffer being betrayed that you would never be forsaken by God.

Wednesday (8/8) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 4:1-24. Gordon Wenham writes:

Chapter 4 expresses the heart of the book’s theology with passionate eloquence, namely that obedience to the law is the key to Israel’s survival and success. The first and last verses of the section make this plain: ‘And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land, that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you’ (4:1 cf: 4:40).

The introductory ‘And now’ introduces a logical consequence of the historical review in the opening chapters. This showed that when Israel obeyed God’s directions they succeeded in defeating their foes and settling their land, but that when the Israelites disregarded divine instructions they failed. Now they are challenged not to make the same mistake again: but this time the test is not obedience to specific military instructions but to the ‘statutes and rules’, that is the laws contained in the book of Deuteronomy, especially the prohibitions against the worship of other gods and idolatry.

Complete obedience is required, not rough-and-ready compliance. ‘You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it.’ Recent experiences at Baal Peor showed the disastrous consequences of disobedience. Instead of learning from other nations Israel is urged to be an example to them. They are invited to show the world what it means to have god dwelling among them and to live by his laws (4:5-8). This is no straightforward matter as their experience at Sinai showed.

On the one hand it demonstrated why Israel should not make idols: at Sinai they heard God speak but did not see him, therefore it would be quite inappropriate for them to make idols to worship (4:15-24). And if they do, they will lose possession of the land, not live in it as they have been promised (4:25-30).

One the other hand the Sinai experience showed that God could draw near to man without destroying him, something unique in human history. ‘Did any people ever hear the voice of God … and still live?’ (4:33). He of course did even more than that: he brought Israel out of Egypt “by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes (4:34). The same power enabled Israel to defeat the kings of the Transjordan, and will enable them to enter the Promised Land and live in it, if only they ‘keep His statues and His commandments’ (4:40).

Prayer: Ask that the LORD would bring visitors to our congregation.

Thursday (8/9) Read and discuss Acts 12:20-24. R.C. Sproul writes:

We are told by Luke that Herod made a dramatic appearance, royally garbed, early in the morning, when the sun shone brightly on the stage. Josephus tells us that King Agrippa wore a special costume, as it were, for this event. In place of his regular royal garments, he wore a royal robe woven from pure silver. With the sun shining on this garment, Josephus said it gleamed as the light beams bounced off the silver threads. It was so magnificent that it manifested not only a sense of royalty, but, to the many onlookers, the very manifestation of deity.

Luke tells us that on that day, arrayed in the special apparel, Herod sat on his throne and gave an oration. The people shouted. They went wild, crying, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” This is similar to what happened to Peter, when the crowd, in awe of what he had done, fell on the ground and worshipped him. Peter rebuked them, as Paul will do later. Throughout Scripture we see that whenever a godly person is mistaken for deity he immediately rebukes those trying to worship him. That was not the response of Agrippa. When the crowd started screaming, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Herod basked in that glory.

However, in the midst of the crowd’s acclamation, Herod suddenly doubled over in pain. So excruciating was the pain, we are told by Josephus, that Herod had to be carried out of the amphitheater, and he remained in intense pain for five days before he succumbed to the fatal illness, which according to Like, was inflicted upon him by the angle of the Lord because Agrippa was taking for himself glory that belonged to God.

It is important not to miss the end of this passage. Verse 24 tells us that “But the word of God increased and multiplied.” The LORD rarely conquers His and our enemies in such a dramatic fashion – but He ultimately conquers all of them. Jesus Christ is building His Church and neither the Herods of this world nor even the gates of Hell can stand against Him. Read or sing Hymn 585 “Take My Life, and Let It Be” Prayer: Please lift up the Congress of the United States in prayer.

Friday (8/10) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.  It is easy to drift into doing things simply out of habit. While this is o.k. to the degree we have been self-conscious about creating our habits a long period of being unreflective can leave us surprisingly off-course without even realizing it. We start out with a plan to get somewhere, but small bumps in the road and minor temptations or distractions move us from our intended path. At first, we won’t seem too far off track. Yet, unless we keep correcting our course, we will eventually end up tragically missing the target of our original goals. Therefore it is important for us to take inventory of our lives and to ask why we are doing what we are doing. This is perhaps even more true of our motivations as it is of our outward actions. God cares about both. Richard Hays puts it like this:

As verses 1-3 emphasize, even the most apparently spiritual and meritorious activities become, without love, literally meaningless. First Corinthians 13 ought to encourage us to step back from even our most cherished projects and ask, “Why am I doing this?” If we cannot honestly say, “I am doing this for love and in love,” then the legitimacy of the whole enterprise must come under serious doubt. This test applies, of course, not just to explicitly religious practices but to everything that we do: business, academics, politics. All of us know for sad cases where laudable causes are promoted by people who have lost this frame of reference and turned into loveless zealots. Indeed, this is not far from what was happening at Corinth: precisely those Corinthians who were most single-mindedly focused on spirituality had become guilty of dividing the community and despising their brothers and sisters. We are so susceptible to self- deception in such matters that we need others around us who can keep us honest and remind us, as Paul does, that love is what really counts ultimately.

Prayer: Ask God to reveal and to reform your motives.

Saturday (8/11) Read and discuss 2 Peter 1:12-15. 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 either 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 these 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.

Thankfully, we do not need to be tossed to and fro. As Peter said back in verse 3, the LORD “has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” Read or sing Hymn 242 “Not All the Blood of Beasts” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 6 August 2017 Sunday, Jul 30 2017 

6 August 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

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

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 86:12-15

Hymn of Preparation:  162 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 41:1-13

New Covenant Reading: John 13:18-30

Sermon: Night Fall

Hymn of Response: 248 “Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 132:1-18

NT: 2 Peter 1:5-11

A Confirmed Call

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #106

Q. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (7/31) Read and discuss John 13:18-30. N.T. Wright comments:

The present passage places side by side the two disciples who, in this gospel, are at the opposite extremes. Here we have ‘the beloved disciple,’ the one who many still think was John himself, the writer of the gospel. The picture we get is of a young lad, perhaps the youngest of them all. If he was indeed John the son of Zebedee, he may have been a cousin of Jesus on his mother’s side. He may not yet have been twenty. He had looked up at Jesus all his life, had followed him with joy and devotion (if not always, yet, with total understanding). Jesus had, as we say, a special affection for him, a soft spot. The others didn’t resent it, perhaps because he was, after all, only a lad. They didn’t find him a threat.

So close was their relationship that he was able to ask Jesus the question the others all wanted to put. People celebrating the Passover reclined on couches as a symbol of freedom (free people reclined to eat; slaves sat or stood). The beloved disciple was reclining close beside Jesus. He could whisper to him, and hear what was whispered back. It is one of the great pictures of friendship in all literature. And it is side by side with one of the greatest pictures of friendship betrayed.

When, so soon after that marvelous moment of the foot washing, Jesus came out with the shocking statement that one of them was going to betray him, nobody had any idea who he was talking about. The medieval paintings of the Last Supper get it wrong; they tend to show Judas as a very obvious traitor, with his clothes, his face, his money-bag and his body language all telling us that he’s the one. But the eleven others around the table didn’t know. Judas was simply one of them.

Jesus had washed his feet, too. That in itself is worth pondering deeply. Even when Jesus spoke cryptically to him, and he went out, the others didn’t understand what was happening.

Read or sing 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Ask the LORD to work the genuine strength of true humility into your character.

Tuesday (8/1) Read and discuss John 13:1-17. Jesus has brought doctrine and life together. On the one hand, Jesus had simply taking the lowest place at the meal … the place of the servant … the place of a slave. Jesus has given us a profound example of how we are to serve one another in the household of faith. But Jesus has also given us far more than an example. Jesus has given us an enacted parable that explains His incarnation, His life, His Death, and His glorification. Consider these words which the Apostle Paul writes to the Church in Philippi:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Isn’t that the very thing that Jesus has illustrated through this enacted parable? When Jesus lays aside His outer garment that corresponds with Him laying aside His visible glory and all the prerogatives of Deity when Almighty God chose to be born in a manger. Jesus took on the form of a servant in order to cleanse filthy sinners like us – ultimately humbling Himself by choosing to die the shameful death on a cross. Jesus dreaded the agony and shame of the cross – but He also knew what was on the other side. So, He took off the servant’s towel and put on His outer garment and sat down once again. Nothing of the essence of Christ’s divinity was lost through the Incarnation. Jesus knew that soon He would once again be clothed in the glory He had with the Father before the ages began. Through this enacted parable, Jesus is telling us the story of His Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification. Then, astonishingly, Jesus tells us to apply these truths in our daily life by taking on the lowly servant’s job of washing each other’s feet. According to Jesus, the most profound doctrinal truths and His call for us to serve one another are inextricably bound together. To be a Christian is to embrace both! Read or sing Hymn 162 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you both a mind for truth and a heart for His people.

Wednesday (8/2) Read and discuss Psalm 41:1-13. “This psalm has elements in common with an individual lament (vv. 4-10). Yet the introductory (vv.1-3) and concluding (vv. 11-12) verses set the mood of thanksgiving for the psalm in such a way that I see it, with the majority of modern commentators, as a thanksgiving of the individual (Willem VanGemeren).” The central lament of the psalm is most familiar to us because it is referred to by Jesus to describe His coming betrayal at the hands of Judas Iscariot (John 13:18). This psalm speaks vividly of the profound pain caused when friendship is betrayed. The psalmist, perhaps King David, had enjoyed a time of being at the pinnacle of popularity. Such popularity and power always draws a crowd of followers but it also draws enemies. Anyone who envisions his enemies triumphing over him must do so with a heavy heart. How then can one describe the anguish caused when not only your enemies but your intimate comrade raises his heel against you in betrayal? Jesus knew this pain. He not only had commissioned Judas to ministry and shared meals with him, at the Last Supper Jesus had stooped to wash Judas’ feet. Yet we should not think that the pain of such betrayal led our LORD to despair. The very psalm that Jesus quoted expresses absolute confidence in Yahweh. This is not merely a general confidence expressed in a vague manner. It is a personal confidence that Yahweh will vindicate His wrongfully betrayed Servant:

By this I know that you delight in me:

            my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.

But you have upheld me because of my integrity,

            and set me in your presence forever.

Prayer: Ask that the LORD would bring visitors to our congregation.

Thursday (8/3) Read and discuss Psalm 132:1-18. Calvin writes:

We see how God confounds the proud and boasted enterprises of the children of this world. They run the full course of their wild career, they turn the earth upside down at their pleasure, and put forth their hand in every direction; they are filled with complacency at the thought of their own talents and industry, and, in a moment, when all their plans have been fully formed, they are entirely overthrown, because there is no solidity in them. There are two different forms which the presumption of those takes who will not submit to the humble followers of God, but must needs run before him. Some rush forward with a reckless precipitancy, and seem as if they would build to the skies; others do not so openly exhibit the inordinateness of their desires, are slower in their movements, and cautiously calculate upon the future, and yet their presumption appears no less from the very fact, that, with a total oversight of God, as if heaven and earth were subject to them, they pass their decree as to what shall be done by them some ten or twenty years from now.  These build, as it were, in the deep of the sea. But never shall it come to the surface, however contented may be the term of their lives; while those who, like David, submit themselves to God, keeping in their own sphere, moderate in their desires, will enjoy a life of tranquility and assurance.

Read or sing Hymn 248 “Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Friday (8/4) Read and 2 Peter 1:5-11. Doug Moo writes:

In the last part of Peter’s mini-sermon [verses 10 and 11], he does what a good preacher should do: motivate the listener to take action based on the truth shared in the message. Peter therefore builds on the warning he has implicitly expressed in verse 9, but he now takes a positive track. “Therefore” may relate to the danger of spiritual blindness (v. 9), but more likely it refers back to all verses 3-9. “Be all the more eager” picks up the basic exhortation in verse 5: “Make every effort.” That effort is to be directed toward making their “calling and election sure.”

“Calling” and “election,” words closely related in the Greek, probably work together to emphasize the single concept Peter has in mind: god’s, or Christ’s effective drawing of the sinner to himself for salvation (see v. 3). The Christian must earnestly seek to grow in Christian virtue in order to “validate” this calling of God. Some theologians have difficulty with the idea that Christians must work in order to validate their election and to ensure that they will not fall away. And we must carefully nuance just what this means – and more importantly, what it does not mean. But we must not evaporate [Prof. Moo probably meant to write “we must not evacuate”] Peter’s language of its seriousness and strength: Striving for spiritual maturity is not an option for in the Christian life.

Prayer: Ask that the LORD would make you even more diligent in living out your life before God.

Saturday (8/5) Read and discuss John 13:18-30. Chuck Swindoll writes:

Verse 27 is one of the most chilling verses in all of Scripture. Just as willing hearts receive Christ, so willing hearts receive Satan.

Secret sin inevitably warps the mind and twists one’ values. Embezzlers like Judas rarely steal much at first. But as the pilfering becomes habitual and then ritualized, the thief must learn to rationalize his sin or face the awful prospect of repentance. Driven by shame, he must keep his sin a secret. Meanwhile, the cycle of compulsion and shame drives a wedge between his private thoughts and a fastidiously maintained public – and often pious – persona. Eventually, the sinner accepts his public façade as his true self in a desperate attempt to escape the relentless pursuit of shame. When caught in sin, an embezzler almost always appears shocked. And in some ways he is surprised by the accusations because he has convinced himself that no one can see the true person he had long ago concealed.

Judas had been cultivating a double life for much of his time with Jesus (6:70-71). His charming religious façade kept seething resentment safely concealed from others. No one suspected his secret sin, much less wondered about his loyalty. Even as he received the morsel from Jesus and departed into the night without explanation, no one suspected anything.

Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 30 July 2017 Sunday, Jul 23 2017 

MVOPC 30 July 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 34 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 5:6-8

Hymn of Preparation:  529 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”

Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 36:22-36

New Covenant Reading: John 13:1-17

Sermon: Cleansing

Hymn of Response: 532 “Teach Me, O Lord, Thy Holy Way”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 528 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 57

NT: 2 Peter 1:1–4

A High Calling

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #105

Q. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (7/24) Read and discuss John 13:1-17. Chuck Swindoll writes:

When Jesus laid aside His outer garment, handled Himself like a slave, and bowed low to wash His disciples’ feet, He taught His men several important lessons about humility, not the least of which is that humility is an action, not simply an attitude. One does not feel humble or think humble thoughts. In fact, a person of genuine humility has no thought of self at all. Humility is a behavior, and in its purest form, involves little emotion, except perhaps affection. With that in mind, allow me to draw a few principles from Jesus’ lesson on humility:

  1. Humility is unannounced. Jesus didn’t rise from the table and boldly announce, “I am now going to demonstrate humility.” He simply began washing feet. Once someone calls attention to his or her deed of service, it has become contaminated with pride. One doesn’t announce a humble deed, either before or after it is done. (Jesus broke this rule after washing the disciples’ feet for the sake of instruction, but it was the only time that He did).
  2. Humility is being willing to receive service without embarrassment. One usually feels embarrassed by deeds of service because he or she perceives the normal “rules” of status or rank have been breached. In Peter’s mind, only the lesser should serve the greater. Jesus inverted this worldly norm. The “greatest” in the kingdom of God serves and receives with no thought of status, worth, or rank.
  3. Humility is not a sign of weakness. Jesus did not serve His disciples because He was weak, needed their goodwill, desired their approval, or coveted their loyalty. Jesus, none other than almighty God, bowed low to serve the people He loved. He washed those twenty-four feet because they were dirty and needed washing.
  4. Humility does not discriminate. Jesus washed the feet of every man in the room, including those of Judas; the man He knew had already made plans to betray Him. Jesus didn’t line up the disciples in order of closeness, or loyalty, or any other standard. He didn’t wait for the traitor among them to depart on his evil mission before washing their feet. He washed the feed that needed washing, without favoritism or prejudice.

 Read or sing 34 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Ask the LORD to work the genuine strength of true humility into your character.

Tuesday (7/25) Read and discuss John 12:44-50. Jesus is the Father’s official Ambassador so that to believe what Jesus teaches to believe in God and to reject Jesus is to reject God. Of course, Jesus is also more than God’s fully accredited Ambassador. The Prophets and Apostles, when they spoke in the LORD’s name, were also God’s Ambassadors. To believe God’s word through Moses was to believe God and to reject God’s word through Moses was to reject God. This is true of Elijah, Isaiah, and all the Prophets right down to John the Baptist. In verse 44 Jesus solemnly tells us that He is the Prophet par excellence. In verse 45 Jesus tells us that He is more than a Prophet.

And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.

That’s not something that Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, or the Apostle Paul would ever say. But Jesus said it. Because Jesus is more than the messenger who announces God’s word, Jesus incarnates God’s word – He is the word who became flesh and dwelt amongst us. As we confess in the Nicene Creed … Jesus is …

God of God, Light of Light,

very God of very God,

begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father

If you want to know what God is like; don’t try to piece together a bunch of abstract attributes about God in your mind. To know what God is like – look at Jesus and behold your God! Read or sing Hymn 529 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” Prayer: Ask that the LORD’s name would be hallowed in your home this week.

Wednesday (7/26) Read and discuss Ezekiel 36:22-36. This passage is written while the LORD’s people are in exile and this reality creates a problem. Other nations, who wouldn’t have understood that God was judging His people for their rebellion against Him, could easily have imagined that the God of Israel was not very powerful. Why should they turn to worship the LORD when He couldn’t even protect His own people from exile at the hands of those who served other gods? One “solution” would be for the LORD to restore His people and thereby reveal His own power – but how could He do this without compromising His own holiness? Old Testament scholar Doug Stuart helps us grasp God’s solution to this dilemma when he writes:

The clear promise of a general return from exile is proclaimed in verse 24. But how can a holy God reward a notoriously unholy people in this way? Will the Lord simply bring them back to Canaan to sin again as they had always done? The answer contains a condition for the restoration of Israel that demonstrates that such a restoration is intended not for ethnic Israel that but for a new people” they will be made pure by God’s miraculous action (v. 25). Sprinkled with holy water symbolizing their acceptance by God for worship, they will also be given a new mind (“heart”) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (vv. 26-27). This is, of course, the language of conversion. Change of mind is exactly what the New Testament term for repentance means; the new mind is the converted mind that will love and follow Christ and keep God’s commands faithfully, as also predicted for the new covenant age by the prophet Jeremiah (31:33-34). The fact of the Spirit of God indwelling all who are converted is a dramatically different picture of people’s relationship to the Spirit than that of the old covenant, in which the Spirit was occasionally given to some people, often temporarily (cf. 1 Sam 16:14).

In the new covenant age, people and God will once again be united. Having turned to God and received the righteousness He alone offers, the new Israel will enjoy bounty and respect. They will also have a conscience about the past, hating the sin, including idolatry, that characterized the previous era (v. 31). The Lord will bring this about. Israel won’t be able to do it. They can only receive, not produce righteousness. Furthermore, God will accomplish this purification and renewal of His people for His own sake, not theirs. They don’t deserve it in the slightest. A nation that has done almost nothing during its history to honor God hardly deserves honor in return. But a God who has determined that His glory and saving power should be known in the whole world is willing to redeem a people not otherwise worthy of redemption. For in so doing, He invites sinners everywhere to repent and turn to Him for rescue from their sin. In other words, Ezekiel’s prophecy is making the point that God’s control of Israel’s history is not focused so much on Israel as it is on the world as a whole. Israel is an example to others – all others – of the power and mercy of God. Israel deserves only to be ashamed of itself; God deserves to be honored everywhere, within and without ethnic Israel.

Prayer: Give thanks for the astonishing mercy and grace of God that He saved wretches like us and brought us into His family forever.

Thursday (7/27) Read and discuss Psalm 57:1-11. Allen P. Ross writes:

This psalm is a wonderful example of the confidence of one who is steadfast in his faith. In spite of being surrounded by vicious enemies who would destroy him, he prays for God to save him by his faithful love. And his vow of praise exhibits the best of the faith: it is for God’s glory and the benefit of people throughout the world. …

The confidence of the psalmist leads him to anticipate being delivered from the evil all around him, and that anticipation prompts him to prepare his praise for God’s faithful love so that the world might hear and learn. Most importantly, the anticipated display of God’s saving love will be for the glory and exaltation of the LORD God.

The household of faith today needs to recapture the spirit of the psalmist, so that the people of the world can hear of the faithful love of God and God can be glorified. Too often praise, if it is offered at all, falls short of its missionary purpose. It is when people praise the love of God before the world that God himself is exalted. To be able to do this, though, requires believers to be steadfast in their faith, and to experience his faithful love in the troubles and trials of life.

Peter instructed believers to humble themselves, cast their cares on the LORD, and be alert, because the devil, like a roaring lion, is seeking whom he may devour. Peter said to resist him standing firm in the faith. And the God of all grace who called us to his eternal glory will restore us and make us steadfast – after we have suffered a little (1 Peter 5:6-11). A steadfast faith will see believers through perilous times; but it will also inspire them to sing praises to God, knowing that his grace and love will never fail.

Read or sing Hymn 532 “Teach Me, O Lord, Thy Holy Way” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (7/28) Read and 2 Peter 1:1–4. Doug Moo writes:

What Peter says in these verses that most requires our attention today is what he says about “knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” as the means by which we might enjoy “grace and peace in abundance.” It is no accident that Peter returns to this same concept of “knowledge” at the end of his letter (3:17-18):

Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen

The biblical writes often draw attention to a particular idea or word by “framing” their argument with it. For Peter, in other words, “growing in knowledge” is a very personal activity. The Old Testament writers use the word to describe intimate relations between one person and another, including sexual relations. The New Testament also uses the word in this way, as when Paul asserts that “Jesus knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). Therefore, when Peter begins his letter by referring to “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” he is saying that the readers of the letter will only enjoy “grace and peace in abundance” as they grow in their relationship to God and to Jesus.

But we must be careful not to evacuate the biblical concept of “knowing” of all cognitive value. “Knowing God” does mean having a warm, intimate relationship with our Creator; but it also means understanding who he is, with all its implications. Peter, we remember, is warning his readers about some heretical teachers. To avoid their errors, these Christians must not only have a “warm and fuzzy” feeling toward God, they also need to know some specific things about him, what he has done, and what he demands of us. One of the things they need to know, Peter hints, is that Jesus is God (v. 1).

In our day we are rightly warned about the danger of a sterile faith, of a “head” knowledge that never touches the heart. But we need equally to be careful of a “heart” knowledge that never touches the head! … The biblical writes demand a “knowledge of God” that unites head and heart. We must be careful not to sacrifice the head in favor of the heart.

Prayer: Lift up the young men and women of Geneva College who will be singing at First Calvary Baptist Church tomorrow evening.

Saturday (7/29) Read and discuss John 13:1-17. Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had made clear to His disciples that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).” But the disciples just didn’t get it. Commenting on John 13 Andreas Kostenberger writes:

Incredibly, Jesus’ followers were not convinced by these words. As the account of the footwashing in John 13 makes clear, they needed more than mere verbal instruction – they needed an object lesson, a visual, practical demonstration of what Jesus’ teaching looked like in action. Are they so different from many of us today?

The object lesson was not for the church to institute a sacrament of footwashing – this would be to institutionalize what was meant by Jesus only as an example of the kind of attitude he sought to promote. “Washing one another’s feet” should be taken rather as an emblem of lowering oneself to meet another’s need whatever that need happens to be at a particular moment. In the Upper Room, the need of the hour was clean feet. In your and my life, the need may take on a virtually limitless number of forms. We must be perceptive and caring in order to identify such needs and then meet them as we are able.

It is worth noting that Jesus washing the Disciple’s feet was not merely an example of humble service it was also a portrait of His incarnation where Christ humbled Himself to wash us clean of our sins only to take back up His mantle of glory (See Philippians 2:5-11).

Read or sing Hymn 528 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

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