MVOPC 8 May 2016 – The Rev. Stephen Michaud Preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Confession of Sin
O You whose chosen dwelling is the heart that longs for Your presence and humbly seeks Your love: We come to You to acknowledge and confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed; We have not loved You with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength; We have not even loved our neighbor as ourselves. Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, or for the good we have left undone. But You, O Lord, are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy; there is forgiveness with You. Restore to us the joy of Your salvation; Bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills and rest to our souls. Speak to each of us the word that we need, and let Your Word abide with us until it has wrought in us Your holy will. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Matthew 1:18-21
Hymn of Preparation: 99 “My Song Forever Shall Record”
Old Covenant Reading: Micah 6:6-8
New Covenant Reading: Matthew 5:1-7
Sermon: Helpful Mercy
Hymn of Response: 78 “O Bless the LORD, My Soul”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured”
OT: Micah 7
NT: Ephesians 2:11-22
Trust in the LORD!
Adult Sunday School: Jason Donald Teaching
Shorter Catechism Q/A #41
Q. Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.
Monday (5/2) Read and discuss Matthew 5:1-7. Robert Harris writes:
Consider that what you give to the poor, you do but lend to the LORD. There is nothing lost that is laid out in this way. It may be more properly said to be laid up than laid out, for God will be your paymaster. He is the poor man’s surety. He will repay it; you are but God’s purse-bearers. Neither is it any otherwise here than if some great gentleman should bid his servant to give a poor person six pence; the servant does no more than lay it out, being sure to receive it again of his master. Even so it is here: the LORD seems to say unto us, “There’s such a one in need; give him six pence; supply his needs; let him have what will serve his turn, and I will become your paymaster for it again.”
Read or sing Hymn 457 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Prayer: Ask the LORD to increase your generosity of heart.
Tuesday (5/3) Read and discuss Exodus 12:14-28. The Exodus is the most important event in the history of Israel and therefore Passover was its most important celebration. With that in mind, it can be instructive to think about some of the ways in which the Exodus and Passover correlate to the New Exodus that takes place with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Lord’s Supper:
- Both Passover and the Lord’s Supper are instituted before the events that they signify. In this way they become not merely memorials of but part of their respective exodus narratives.
- The events of both the first Exodus and the New Exodus are so significant that they both change the calendar. The Passover marks out the first month of the Jewish calendar while the Resurrection of Jesus moves the Sabbath Day to Sunday.
- While the Passover and the Lord’s Supper both signify the salvation of individuals they are celebrated in community with other people. The Passover was to be celebrated with a family large enough to eat a lamb. If your family was not large enough to do this you had to join with another family. Later, once the Levitical Priesthood was established, the Passover was to be celebrated in community. Likewise, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper takes place when the church is gathered together.
- While it was possible to participate in the first Passover Meal without having one’s heart right with God, the failure to participate would have put the family in jeopardy of losing their firstborn son. The imagery is quite straightforward. The Passover Lamb represents Jesus Christ. Either God’s firstborn Son dies for the family or the family’s firstborn son must die. So it is with the Church and the Lord’s Supper. While it is possible to participate in the Lord’s Supper without having one’s heart right with God, the failure to participate (whether through excommunication without repentance or simply a disregard for the Church Christ died for) marks a person out as being under God’s judgment.
Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has given us the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to regularly refresh us spiritually with fresh grace and to re-center our thinking on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wednesday (5/4) Read and discuss Micah 6:6-8. If the three most important elements in real estate are location, location, and location; then the three most important elements for rightly interpreting Scripture are context, context, and context. Today’s passage is famous for memorably explaining what the LORD requires of us – but what exactly is the context which will help us understand what Micah is getting at. Interestingly, the name of the book gives us a clue. Micah means “Who is like Yahweh?” and one of the chief goals of the book is to glorify the LORD by drawing our attention to how far He exceeds anyone or anything on earth: “Who is like Yahweh?” If we simply keep reading the book after today’s passage we come to three verses that are perhaps the very best commentary on today’s passage. Micah chapter 7 verses 18-20:
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
Do you see the connection? While nobody is “like Yahweh” in His glory; Micah 6:6-8 is calling us to show the character traits that are like the character of Yahweh in Micah 7:18-20. Human beings were created in God’s image to reflect His perfect character into the world. The LORD is calling His people back to this very task. This is one of the things that Christ does and, amazingly, the LORD has committed Himself to conforming us to His likeness. Micah 6:6-8 is calling us to live in light of what we will one day be fully like because Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Read or sing Hymn 99 “My Song Forever Shall Record” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with this particular church family.
Thursday (5/5) Read and discuss Ephesians 2:11-22. Clinton Arnold points out that this section of Ephesians teaches us at least 4 vital lessons:
- God is near;
- Jesus has created a new community;
- The blood of Christ is the basis for reconciliation to God and the source of peace for the new community; and
- The era of the New Covenant has dawned and the era of the Mosaic Covenant is over.
Let’s hear what Professor Arnold has to say about the third of these points:
Paul firmly roots peace with God and peace with one another in the work of Jesus Christ: “by the blood of Christ” (2:13), “by his flesh” (2:14e), and “through the cross” (2:16a). Christ is the one who created the new humanity, who reconciled us to God (and to one another), and who serves as the foundation stone of the new temple. And now Jesus is actively engaged in proclaiming this good news of peace with God through his messengers with a view to building the temple into an even greater structure.
Because of his great work, Jesus deserves our praise and devotion. The cost to him was so significant that we should not hesitate in the least to make sacrifices in joining with him in his endeavor to build the church – not only through proclamation of the good news (and thereby adding stones), but also in expending great effort in peacemaking within the body of Christ.
Read or sing Hymn 78 “O Bless the LORD, My Soul” Prayer: Pray for the peace in our Church which flows from each of us being reconciled to Jesus Christ.
Friday (5/6) Read and discuss Micah 7. Gary Smith writes:
[With verse 7 comes] and abrupt change of attitude and focus. Once the prophet moves his attention to God instead of the troubles all around him, a new sense of hope wells up inside. I interpret the “I” who is speaking in verse 7 as the prophet Micah. Beginning with verse 8 he is apparently confessing the sins of Jerusalem, not his own (cf. Ezra 9 and Daniel 9), and expressing hope for the nation.
Verse 7, then, becomes a key focal point for repositioning the prophet’s mental perspective on God’s sovereign control of life. Micah’s concentration on God rather than his problems enables him to see a ray of hope for the future. The “watchman”/prophet (7:4) will “watch” (7:7) for Yahweh his God, for there is no other possible source of life. He will wait, trusting that his saving God will act. God will hear his prayers and understand his situation, for he pays attention to His people when they cry to Him for help. These statements describe the deep personal relationship Micah has with God, reveal his dependence on God, and demonstrate that his confidence is not just wishful thinking. Therefore, he can face the future with assurance, for God is there with him.
Prayer: Give thanks that you can wait in confidence for the day that the LORD will vindicate all who have placed our trust in Him.
Saturday (5/7) Read and discuss Matthew 5:1-7. Sinclair Ferguson writes:
We often speak of showing mercy. But what is mercy? Is it kindness, perhaps? Mercy includes kindness, but it is more than that. Someone has expressed the difference quaintly, but fairly accurately: Kindness is a friend calling when you are well. Mercy is a friend calling when you are sick.
The best illustration of the meaning of mercy is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the parable Jesus asks which of the three passers-by proved to be a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers. An expert in the law replies, “The one who had mercy on him.” The Samaritan illustrated the meaning of mercy.
Two things should be noted here if the Samaritan is an example of what we are to be to others. Mercy relieves the consequences of sin the lives of others (both sinners and those sinned against). The Samaritan took responsibility for the injured man. He ministered to his broken and bruised body and did everything he could to provide for restoration and healing. He did not deal with the cause of the man’s need by chasing the robbers (it was not justice he sought). He did no complain about the failure of society to meet the man’s need (it was not social failures he protested). Rather the Samaritan sought to work in the context of the immediate need set before him, and to bring relief.
Of course there is a place for seeking justice. And there is room for concern when society fails n its duty towards the needy. But neither of these things is the exercise of mercy. Mercy is getting down on your hands and knees and doing what you can to restore dignity to someone whose life has been broken by sin (whether his own or that of someone else).
Read or sing Hymn: 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.