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.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 23 July 2017 Sunday, Jul 16 2017 

MVOPC 23 July 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

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

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: Ephesians 1:7-10

Hymn of Preparation:  94 “How Firm a Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 55:1-13

New Covenant Reading: John 12:44-50

Sermon: Do You Receive the Father’s Word

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

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 646 “Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 37:1–11

NT: 1 Peter 5:6–14

Trust During Trials

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #104

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 (7/17) Read and discuss John 12:44-50. Chuck Swindoll writes:

This series of seven declarations by Jesus is nothing short of a summary of His teaching throughout his public ministry:

  1. Jesus is one with the Father; to believe in one is to believe in the other (vv. 44-45).
  2. Jesus is the personal representation, the literal embodiment of all truth; therefore, to believe divine truth is not to accept a certain set of facts but to believe in the person named Jesus (v. 46).
  3. Jesus did not come to condemn anyone but to present Himself as truth to be believed; those who fail to believe in him condemn themselves (vv. 47-48).
  4. Everything Jesus does is necessarily the will of the Father because they are of the same essence (v. 49).
  5. The Father sent the Son to earth to provide humanity the ability to receive eternal life by grace alone, through faith alone (v. 50).

Once Jesus had proclaimed the good news to the world and had fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, He concluded His public ministry. In the next section, Jesus will prepare His disciples in seclusion for His departure and their future work of evangelism and disciple-making.

Read or sing 53 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send genuine revival and reformation to our communities.

Tuesday (7/18) Read and discuss John 12:36b-43. Thankfully, verses 42 and 43 are not the end of the story. Consider the two men we know by name: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Both of these men were in the category which John condemns in verses 42 and 43. They had been led to understand, at least to a large degree who Jesus was, but they hadn’t committed themselves body and soul to His care and to His cause. So, they were largely silent. Perhaps that is where you are at right now. But, thankfully, that is not the end of their story and it doesn’t need to be the end of yours either. The crucifixion of Jesus changed everything for Joseph and for Nicodemus. Before His crucifixion, they were trying to get along. They were trying to figure out how they could be both believers in Jesus and people who maintained their prestigious positions in society. The crucifixion of Jesus convinced them that this wasn’t possible – and by God’s grace they chose to plant both feet firmly in the Kingdom of God. I suspect that most people miss just had radical their commitment was when they asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, when they took Jesus from the cross, and when they laid him in Joseph’s own tomb. These two wealthy and religiously prominent men, by touching Christ’s dead body, were disqualifying themselves from being able to eat the Passover meal. That meant that everybody who was important in Jerusalem society would know what they had done. Joseph and Nicodemus chose to go to Christ – outside the camp – to be despised with Him by men that they would be honored with Christ by God. What about you? Hebrews tells us that …

… Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. … Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Joseph and Nicodemus went to Jesus outside the camp. What about you? Read or sing Hymn 94 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Pray that the LORD would strengthen your resolve to seek your praise first and foremost from God.

Wednesday (7/19) Read and discuss Isaiah 55:1-13. Alec Moyter writes:

The Word we shared is not ours but his; our chance is gone, but not his. No one loves the Word of God more than the God whose word it is, and he, the eternal, almighty, impeccably faithful LORD, has pledged that his Word will never be fruitless, never come back empty handed. When we speak of God’s word as a ‘living Word’, this is the reality of which we speak. First, it comes from his mouth; like the ‘Let there be light’ of Genesis 1:3 – ‘and there was light!’ His Word is full of his creative power to achieve what the Word expresses. Secondly, God’s Word is his personal messenger. It goes where he ‘sends’ it and achieves what he commands it. Thirdly, it cannot but hit its target, do its work. So then, those children, young people and door-openers of long ago, those passers-by at the open air meeting, that ‘chance’ fellow in the next seat in the bus who accepted a tract, that seemingly cold, unresponsive congregation in hall or church – did they hear the Word of God? From his mouth, through us, was the great messenger sent? Have no fear: as with Jeremiah (1:12), so with us, the Lord ‘is ever wide awake, watching over my word to perform it’. All will be will, indeed, more than well.

Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has given us His word as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths and that we have such excellent translations of His word into our own languages so that each of us can read the Bible for ourselves.

Thursday (7/20) Read and discuss Psalm 37:1–11. Commenting on verses 7 and 8, Allen Ross writes:

In [this] section the call to persevere is strengthened by the reminder of the prospect of coming retribution. The first two verses issue the call, repeating the warning ‘fret no.’ The first line calls for the people to be still before the LORD and wait patiently – the silent expectation clearly antithetical to anxieties and frustrated desires. The idea of being still is a calm resignation that leaves itself in the hands of God; the idea of waiting patiently is the expectation of God’s intervention. So against the ever present turmoil of anxious living and in contrast to the scheming of evil-doers, which seems to be succeeding, the righteous are to stop and to wait for the LORD to provide for them and protect them. After all, it is as Jesus said, people cannot add a day to their span of life by such anxieties (Matt. 6:27). So the admonition is repeated: do not fret. Now the text explains more about the evil-doers, for they are those who prosper – no one would worry about or envy an evil-doer who was a failure in everything – and those who carry out evil schemes. The evil-doers for a time prosper through their evil schemes; to fret over them is certainly short-sighted.

But the instruction goes beyond this. The righteous are instructed to turn away from anger and forsake wrath, because it only leads to doing evil, the very thing they faced from others. To live with intense vexation and jealousy can lead to anger, and anger over the wrong things will produce acts that are like those of the evil-doers, or reprisals that use tactics just as evil.

Read or sing Hymn 679 “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (7/21) Read and 1 Peter 5:6–14. Karen Jobes writes:

Peter rounds off the body of his letter with admonitions followed by encouragement. He wants his readers to accept the difficult times they are facing as from God’s hand but yet to be on guard against the devil’s evil desire to take advantage of their circumstances to their own destruction. Peter’s readers are not alone in their plight, which is shared by Christians throughout the world. Because God is sovereign over even the hardships they suffer, they can trust him to put things right, strengthening, empowering, and securing them.

Prayer: Please pray for Silas and Anastasia as they prepare to move to Florida for three years.

Saturday (7/22) Read and discuss John 12:44-50. Edward Klink writes:

The final public statement of Jesus reveals that there is a battle for allegiance in the human heart between the glory of humanity (self) and the glory of God. Beneath this battle is the temptation to be swayed by the opinions of others, perhaps especially those in power who might be opposed to God – our God (v. 42). This [passage] describes this temptation to fear men over God as loving “the glory of humanity rather than the glory of God” (v. 43). While the narrator’s commentary ends his analysis of the public ministry of Jesus, it only just begins the analysis the reader must give to the things he or she “loves.” Do we love Christ in the midst of public opinion to the contrary? Or are we silent before others about God because he simply does not fit the cultural and political agenda around us? This is not an argument for an insensitive, prideful, and in-your-face Christian proclamation, but for a contextualized presentation of the grace and glory of God that seeks to extend the healing power and loving truth of the gospel to the people with whom we work and live. May our prayer be the same as the prayer of Augustine: “That faith may learn not to blush at His name.” And may the church be a healthy dose of salt and light in the world.

Read or sing Hymn 646 “Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 16 July 2017 Sunday, Jul 9 2017 

MVOPC 16 July 2017

Call to Worship:

Opening Hymn: 57 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul”

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: Hebrews 8:10-12

Hymn of Preparation:  662 “As the Hart Longs for Flowing Streams”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 44:6-20

New Covenant Reading: John 12:36b-43

Sermon: Whose Praise Are You Seeking?

Hymn of Response: 286 “Worship Christ, the Risen King!”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 45:1-28

NT: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Reconciled!

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School

Shorter Catechism Q/A #103

Q.What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (7/10) Read and discuss John 12:36b-43. N.T. Wright comments:

As John tells the story of Jesus’ spectacular achievements and the people’s remarkable lack of interest, his mind goes back to two Old Testament themes. Moses, in Egypt, did a whole string of signs in front of Pharaoh and his courtiers, and still they didn’t believe. The only conclusion people could come to was that somehow their hearts had been hardened, so that God’s liberation of his people would be all the more dramatic. That is part of the mystery of Exodus 9-12.

Isaiah, faced with the people of Israel in flagrant immorality and rebellion against God, found himself called to speak God’s word to them, knowing it would only make matters worse. They had become not just like poor-quality Israelites, but like Pharaoh himself! Their eyes were shut, their hearts were hard, and it seemed as though God had made it that way. They were so sunk in their sin and rebellion that the only course for God now would be judgment; even though, as Isaiah saw, through that judgment an extraordinary new work of salvation would emerge. That is part of the mystery of Isaiah chapter 6.

Now John, with both of these terrifying examples in his mind, looks at the Judeans who saw Jesus’ signs. The only explanation he can find for their failure to believe – and for the fear and secrecy of those who did believe – was that something similar had happened. Most of the people were simply hard-hearted. They went on with their conversations. Or they criticized. Even those who were soft-hearted, who really did believe that Jesus was the Messiah, didn’t say so, because they were more concerned about what other people would say about them than about what God thought of them.

Read or sing 57 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul” Prayer: Please pray for the President of the United States and other world leaders as they try to deal with the safety and humanitarian challenges presented by North Korea.

Tuesday (7/11) Read and discuss Hebrews 12:18-29. Whenever you hear someone start to say “My god is …” you probably have a good idea what is coming next. “My god is a god of love.” Perhaps the last thing you will hear are these words from today’s passage: “Our God is a consuming fire.” Put simply, our culture has lost sight of the holiness and majesty of God. Furthermore, Western culture is hostile not only to the claim that the Bible is true – it is becoming increasingly hostile to the very idea that anything is absolutely true or that there should be any meaningful moral restraints upon our choices. Al Mohler, one of the keenest Christian social observers, puts it like this:

Ivan in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov was right – if God is dead, everything is permissible. The God allowed by postmodernism is not the God of the Bible but a vague concept of spirituality. There are no tablets of stone, no Ten Commandments … no rules.

Morality, along with other foundations of culture, is discarded by postmodernists as oppressive and totalitarian. A pervasive moral relativism marks postmodern culture. This is not to say that postmodernists are reluctant to employ moral language. To the contrary, postmodern culture is filled with moral discourse. But the issues of moral concern are quite arbitrary, and in many cases represent a reversal of Biblical morality.

Our culture trifles with God because people are suppressing what they know about Him. Today’s passage reminds us that when people actually encounter God, as Israel did at Mount Sinai, the response is one of awe. How then should Christians live when we have not merely come to the type but to the greater reality of the New Covenant manifestation of God in Jesus Christ? For you have come …

… to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,

and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,

and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,

and to God, the judge of all,

and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,

and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

If the blood of Abel cried out from the ground for vengeance, how much more will the blood of Jesus Christ when it is trampled underfoot as though it were an unclean thing?

Read or sing Hymn 662 “As the Hart Longs for Flowing Streams” Prayer: Pray for the young people of our congregation that they would not trifle with God.

Wednesday (7/12) Read and discuss Isaiah 44:6-20. R. Reed Lessing writes:

The word “idolatry” often evokes pictures of primitive people worshipping statues. We think of Paul in Athens, noticing that it was a city filled with gods and goddesses (Acts 17:16). But idolatry was not just a problem in biblical times. It is a human problem for all times. “The human race creates a world where gods are humanized and humans deified (Turner).” Our culture is dominated by idols. Altars include office towers, spas, stadiums, studios, tanning salons, classrooms, and vacation destinations. Anywhere sacrifices are offered to achieve ultimate happiness, there is an idolatrous shrine. In antiquity, the false gods were bloodthirsty and impossible to appease. They still are. Counterfeit gods are more than just false lovers and pseudo-saviors. They are slave masters that can never be satisfied. They only kill, steal, and destroy (cf. John 10:10).

At the heart of our predicament is that we look to false gods and believe in their false salvations. Often a modern idol is not evil in and of itself. It might be some God-given gift that we then use as a substitute for the real God. A false god is frequently something of value, but we ascribe to it ultimate value. It becomes the final word on everything. Idolatry takes good things, such as vocation, money, love, intimacy, ministry, or health, and turns them into ultimate things. It takes valuable things and makes them into supreme things. Often the object of our worship becomes another person, a spouse, a friend, or a child. Our affection for that person turns into adoration.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Thursday (7/13) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. Scott Hafemann writes:

If this passage is about the ministry, the focus of the ministry is the gospel of Christ’s death on our behalf. In our day of “decisionism” and age of “easy-believism,” it is essential that we recover our confidence in the power of the cross as the foundation of the Christian ministry and message. The contours of the gospel make it clear that atoning death of Christ is not only a legal act in regard to God’s holiness, but also an eschatological act by which God breaks the rule of sin over the lives of his people. Reconciled people live reconciled lives. The death of Christ brings about already here and now God’s promised “new creation.”

The “therefore” of 5:14c reflects Paul’s conviction that the consequences of Christ’s death are not a potential that we actualize by our faith, but a reality that God brings about in the lives of his people. Paul’s point is not that Christ really died for all, therefore all potentially die. Paul assumes that the consequences of Christ’s death are personal, powerful, and effective, not general, possible, and contingent. The power of the cross is good news. The death of Christ accomplishes what it was intended to do. “Christ as a Redeemer who really does redeem. As a result of his death on their behalf, all those in Christ are a new creation!

Read or sing Hymn 286 “Worship Christ, the Risen King!” Prayer: Give thanks that Christ’s death for His people is a completely sufficient sacrifice for every sin that you and all your brothers and sisters in Christ will ever commit.

Friday (7/14) Read and Genesis 45:1-28. Iain Duguid writes:

Paradoxically, when we recognize that we are the brothers in this story, not Joseph, we actually begin to learn to forgive like Joseph. What could possibly motivate you to extend love and forgiveness and to seek costly reconciliation with people who have hurt you and harmed you so profoundly? It is as we ponder how greatly we ourselves have been forgiven and what a great price has been paid for our reconciliation that our hearts start to melt toward those who have so greatly sinned against us. Yes, justice demands that they should pay, just as it demands that we should pay. However, we have not received justice from God, but mercy – mercy that is deep and wide, as deep and wide as our sin. Our scarlet stains of sin have been washed whiter than snow through the substitute who bore the claims of justice in our place. Jesus has reconciled us to himself, and now he gently asks us to be reconciled to one another as a harmonious family of brothers and sisters, forgiving others with the same measure of forgiveness that we have received. What is more, he calls us to lift our eyes upward to our heavenly home, the palace where all of our broken relationships will finally and fully be reconciled, just as we are reconciled even now to God himself.

Prayer: Ask that the LORD would grant you a gracious and forgiving spirit.

Saturday (7/8) Read and discuss John 12:36b-43. Verse 43 is so easy to understand that commentators rarely spend more than a sentence or to explaining it. Regretfully, that can lead us to quickly moving past this verse as though we have it down cold. That would be a terrible mistake, for this is among the most important verses in the Bible for our Christian lives. One of the key challenges we face in life is that we all want to be accepted. More specifically, there is a group of people whom we particularly want to be accepted by. Because this desire for acceptance is so powerful we will be strongly tempted to give up on whatever other beliefs and practices we may have in order to be accepted by this group. You might be thinking: “Yes, but I wouldn’t do anything really bad just to be accepted.” That’s what makes this temptation so risky for us. Whatever you do to conform to this group’s expectations will not be treated as being bad by this group. In fact, whatever anyone else might say, you will be praised by this group for making those adjustments to your thoughts and behaviors. What can be done to help us deal with this temptation? The safeguard isn’t to suppress the desire to be praised. The safeguard is to love the praise which comes from the LORD far more than you desire the praise that comes from mere human beings. That will only happen if you spend both quality time and quantity time with the LORD. 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 9 July 2017 Sunday, Jul 2 2017 

MVOPC 9 July 2017 – Dan Borvan Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 38 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”

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: Leviticus 26:44-45

Hymn of Preparation:  184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”

Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 34:1-16

New Covenant Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-5

Sermon: The Godly Shepherd

Hymn of Response: 115 “All Creatures of Our God and King”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 44:1-34

NT: Romans 5:1-11

Judah’s Substitutionary Sacrifice

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #102

Q. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (7/3) Read and discuss 1 Peter 5:1-5.  Karen Jobes writes:

In this passage Peter instructs his readers about the type of shepherd-leadership that is needed to assure the survival of the church in trying times of persecution. The leaders must oversee the church in a godly way, shepherding the flock rather than domineering it. The pastoral motif of the shepherd caring for and seeking the weak and the wandering even while jeopardizing himself provides the background against which these final instructions to the church are to be read. In this final section of the letter, by encouraging the elders to shepherd and the others to submit to that leadership, Peter underscores the importance of responsible church structure for seeing the Christian community safely through the fiery ordeal of testing.

Read or sing 38 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” Prayer: Ask the LORD to raise up faithful and godly men who will serve as Elders and Deacons in our church.

Tuesday (7/4) Read and discuss John 12:27-36a. Today’s passage reveals a fundamental truth. If you get this it will help you understand life far better than you can without it. Here it is: “God is NOT an idolater.” Let me say that again: “God is NOT an idolater.” That may sound so obvious as to be trite, but trust me – I’ve been a Christian for a long time – and in my judgment even most Christians get this wrong. Many people, including many Christians, imagine that since it is wrong for us to seek our own glory that it is also wrong for God to seek His own glory. Or to put a slightly more positive spin on it, many people imagine that human beings are supposed to seek to glorify God while God is supposed to seek to glorify human beings. But that is wrong. God is not an idolater. The LORD loves you but you are not at the center of His universe. The living God has a God-centered view of the universe and He is organizing all of history to glorify Himself. The good news is that the LORD has so ordered the universe that when God is most glorified His people are most blessed – so there is no competition at all between the glory of God and the wellbeing of His people. We see a glimpse of this in John chapter 1. There we are told:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

When Jesus manifests the glory of God he manifests grace and truth to all who receive Him. The LORD has so ordered the universe that when God is most glorified His people are most blessed – so there is no competition between the glory of God and the wellbeing of His people. But mark this well. When Jesus prays: “Father, glorify your name.” The Father replies: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” That is good, that is right, and that is beautiful. The LORD Himself is making much of His own glory. Critically, we see Jesus Himself making the pursuit of His Father’s glory the chief goal of His own life. In today’s passage Jesus was looking toward the brutal crucifixion He was about to undergo in less than a week. Yet, Jesus was facing more than the brutality of physical crucifixion. On the cross Almighty God would pour out His holy wrath on Jesus for every single sin of every single person whom He was about to redeem. No one else in all of history would ever face the terror that Jesus was about to face. No one else ever could. No wonder Jesus cries out in Verse 27:

Now is my soul troubled.

Yet, because glorifying God and enjoying Him forever was Christ’s chief end He doesn’t simply stop there.

Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.

Faced with the choice between avoiding unspeakable suffering and glorifying His Father through the cross – Jesus chose the cross. Read or sing Hymn 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead you to more consistently pursue your chief end of glorifying and enjoying Him forever.

Wednesday (7/5) Read and discuss Ezekiel 34:1-16. Doug Stuart writes:

This is not a passage that teaches about the nature of human government in general or that enumerates the principles of leadership. Its concern instead is the historical plan of God, in which He exchanges one type of leadership for another over His people. The change is brought about by the need to resolve a conflict. That conflict involved the failure of Israel’s kings as leaders and the firm plan of God that His people should be obedient to Him and should enjoy His blessing. Their own natural tendency to sin was reinforced by the corrupt natural leadership of the kings, and they were, to boot, exploited by those whom they placed over them. This cycle needed breaking, and God accomplished it via the Babylonian conquest and exile. Israel and Judah were no more. They never again could become independent nations and, thus, never again would have kings – at least not of the type they had suffered under thus far.

What they would get, because God would see to it, was a new kind of king, a new David, who would be true to God and thus a true shepherd for the owner’s flock. Therefore it is only in Christ, the one true son of David, that this prophecy is fulfilled. He is the one who provided for God’s people – all who truly name Him as Lord – to have the great benefits of the restoration summarized by the images of peace and safety in this chapter. Some of those benefits have begun to come already, such as the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7; cf. John 14:27). Many others await their full implementation in the Davidic king’s second and final coming.

Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus will come again to consumate His Kingdom and to usher in everlasting shalom.

Thursday (7/6) Read and discuss Romans 5:1-11. Commenting on verses 3-5, R.C. Sproul writes:

Tribulation puts muscle on our souls. Tribulation makes it possible for the people of God to persevere rather than to give up. Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character (v. 4). An easy life does nothing to produce character. Character is forged in the crucible of pain. Character is built when we have no alternative but to persevere in tribulation. Those who come out on the other side are those in whose souls God has built character. The result of character is hope (v. 4) – there it is again. Authentically joyful people are those who know where their hope is. They have been through the crucible. They have been through afflictions, persecution, and rejection from their friends. They have been through pain. They have identified with the humiliation of Christ. They have been crucified with Christ and raised in his resurrection and now participate in his exultation. That is the hope that Christian character produces.

What about the result of that hope? Here is the best part: Now hope does not disappoint (v. 5). Other translations say that hope “does not make us ashamed.” It is embarrassing that the world’s idea of hope is to invest it in some particular enterprise only to see that enterprise fail. When it fails we are dashed to pieces, but the hope that we have from God will never disappoint. It will never embarrass us. We will never have to be ashamed for putting our confidence and trust in Christ. If you put your trust in anything else but Christ you are destined for disappointment and embarrassment. Hope in Christ is the only hope that never shames us. The New Testament tells us that if we are not in the faith, if we do not believe, we are without hope and destined ultimately to disappointment.

Read or sing Hymn 115 “All Creatures of Our God and King” Prayer: Give thanks that there is now no longer any condemnation for you if you are in Christ Jesus.

Friday (7/7) Read and Genesis 44:1-34. Tremper Longman writes:

At the beginning of the Joseph narrative, Judah is an out-and-out rogue. He leads the brothers in their sale of Joseph to the Ishmaelites. He marries a Canaanite woman and then mistreats his daughter-in-law Tamar, who tricks him into sleeping with her in order to produce an heir.

Judah’s speech in 44:18-34 reveals a transformed man. No longer is he looking out just for himself to the harm of others. Rather as Waltke points out here “Judah … is the first person in Scripture who willingly offers his own life for another. His self-sacrificing love for his brother for the sake of his father prefigures the vicarious atonement of Christ, who by His voluntary sufferings heals the breach between God and human beings.”

Prayer: Please pray for the Congress of the United States that the members would govern with wisdom while seeking the good of the people over their own career advancement.

Saturday (7/8) Read and discuss 1 Peter 5:1-5. Commenting on verse 4, Calvin writes:

Unless pastors keep this end in view, it can never come about that they will proceed in the course of their calling in earnest, but on the contrary they will often fail, because there are innumerable hindrances which can discourage the most prudent. They have often to do with ungrateful men, from whom they receive an unworthy reward; long and great labors are often in vain; Satan sometimes prevails with his wicked devices. So then, to prevent the faithful servant of Christ from being cast down, there is one and only one remedy, to turn his eyes to the coming of Christ. By this it will come about that he, who seems to derive no encouragement from men, will faithfully go on with his labors, knowing that a great reward is prepared for him by the Lord.

Read or sing Hymn 305 “Arise, My Soul, Arise” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 2 July 2017 Sunday, Jun 25 2017 

MVOPC 2 July 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: Romans 3:21-26

Hymn of Preparation:  252 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 6:1-10

New Covenant Reading: John 12:27-36a

Sermon: The Hour Has Come

Hymn of Response: 610 “‘Take Up Your Cross,’ the Savior Said”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 708 “O Love, That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

PM Worship

OT: Amos 3:1-2

NT: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Joy in Suffering

Adult Sunday School: Jonathan Coppeta on Bioethics

Shorter Catechism Q/A #101

Q.What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. In the first petition, which is, Hallowed be thy name, we pray that God would enable us and others to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/26) Read and discuss John 12:27-36a. It is easy for Christians living in the 21st century to imagine Jesus as some sort of superman who doesn’t genuinely share in the pains of life in a fallen world. Today’s passage is one of many which reminds us that the Second Person of the Trinity took to Himself a true human nature. Chuck Swindoll comments:

The realization that nothing stood between Jesus and the cross led to a poignant glimpse of His humanity. In a particularly transparent moment, we see the Lord overcome by dread; He knew He would face agony on a cosmic scale, far more than the physical pain of crucifixion. Nevertheless, He came to earth for this agony, a fact the Father verified in a voice heard from heaven.

Read or sing 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Japan which is one of the least Christian countries on earth.

Tuesday (6/27) Read and discuss John 12:20-26. Normally we think of death as an event that brings productivity and usefulness to an end. When a we say that our car has died – we are acknowledging that it is no longer useful for its intended purpose of getting us around. While we would never speak so crassly about the death of a human being, it is true that once a person dies we don’t expect them to continue contributing to life here on earth. The company he or she was managing, the patients they were seeing, or the people whose cars they used to fix are all going to need to move on without them. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Christ’s Disciples couldn’t understand all the times Jesus spoke about His own death before His crucifixion. They had come to trust that Jesus would always take care of them – and they couldn’t imagine how this could ever come to an end. So, Jesus takes a very simple image they would all be familiar with, and explains how His death, rather than being the end of His productivity, was actually the goal of His entire life. Just as there is a direct connection between the death of a grain of wheat that is planted in the ground with the stalks of grain that will burst forth and produce much fruit; there is a direct connection between the death of Christ and the vast harvest of redeemed sinners from every tribe, tongue, and nation who will worship God forever. So long as Christ doesn’t die He remains alone. If Christ doesn’t die in our place, the rest of us would be doomed by our sins to that death which really is the end of productivity. We would be condemned to that death which involves the righteous outpouring of God’s wrath against His enemies for all eternity. Thankfully, that was not the LORD’s plan for us. Read or sing Hymn 252 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus sowed Himself in death that you would have life in Him. Ask the LORD to give you the grace to follow Jesus more closely.

Wednesday (6/28) Read and discuss Psalm 6:1-10. Allen P. Ross writes:

This psalm is an urgent prayer for deliverance from the painful affliction and anxiety caused by bloodthirsty adversaries. What makes the psalm unique is that the intense suffering seems also to be divine chastening for sin. Not all physical suffering or affliction at the hands of enemies is chastening for sin. However, when devout believers find themselves in such trying situations, they naturally will do some soul searching to see if they are in fact being chastened (see Ps. 44). If no obvious sin can be uncovered, then the believer may consider other explanations for suffering. Now in David’s case in Psalm 6 it appears to be divine correction, and David is doing what any penitent believer must do – pray for relief from the chastening, which in effect is an acknowledgment of the sin.

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

Thursday (6/29) Read and discuss Amos 3:1-15. R.K. Harrison writes:

God had chosen the Israelites above all other peoples. They were thus unique, and destined to serve as witnesses to the existence and power of the one, true, living God. God chose the Israelites because of his absolute sovereignty and freedom, basing His election upon His love for them, as demonstrated in His varied provisions for their overall welfare. …

God’s chosen people, however, have repudiated separation from unholy things so essential to their election, and have participated in the sins of paganism. The Israelites think that, as God’s elect people, they have all the rights and privileges of such a position with none of the responsibilities. Because the covenant is reciprocal, God insists upon His own rights, one of which is that of punishing sin and apostasy in the nation.

The covenantal concept is seen in the reference to two people walking together (v. 3. Such a close relationship can be impaired by unfavorable circumstances, in this case the blatant repudiation by Israel of the covenant’s provisions. The mention of the roaring lion reminds the reader of Amos 1:2. … God’s roaring should serve as a warning to Israel of imminent disaster, ushered in by the nation’s enemies who will execute divine vengeance upon them. The attack will be marked by the alarm trumpet blown in the city, which will settle decisively the destiny of God’s disobedient people.

Read or sing Hymn 261 610 “‘Take Up Your Cross,’ the Savior Said” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you a more committed man or woman of prayer.

Friday (6/30) Read and 1 Peter 4:12-19. Calvin writes:

Mention is frequently made in this Epistle of afflictions, the reason for which we have elsewhere explained. But this difference is to be observed, that when he exhorts the faithful to patience, he is sometimes speaking generally of the troubles that are common to human life, but here is speaking of the wrongs which the faithful suffer for the name of Christ. First, indeed, he reminds them that they ought not to wonder at it as something sudden or unexpected, meaning thereby that they ought to have been previously prepared by long meditation to bear the cross. Anyone who has resolved to fight under Christ’s banner will not be dismayed if persecution comes, but will patiently bear it, as one who is used to it. In order to be in a prepared state of mind when the floods of persecutions roll over us, we ought to get used to such an event in good time by meditating continually on the Cross.

He shows the usefulness of the Cross to us by two arguments, first that God makes trial of our faith in this way, and secondly that we become partakers with Christ. In the first place, therefore, let us remember that this trial by which our faith is tested is more than necessary, and that we ought gladly to obey God because He is concerning Himself for our salvation. The chief consolation is to be looked for from fellowship with Christ. Peter not only tells us not to think it strange when he sets this before us, but also bids us to rejoice. It is, indeed, a cause of joy when God forces us to show our faith by persecutions, but this other joy far surpasses it, that the Son of God gathers us into the same course of life as Himself, so as to lead us with Himself to a blessed fellowship of heavenly glory. We must hold on to this truth, that we bear the dying of Christ in our flesh, so that His life may be manifested in us. The wicked indeed bear many afflictions, but as they are separated from Christ, they achieve nothing but God’s wrath and curse. So it happens that sorrow and dread overwhelm them utterly.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to graciously refine you without crushing your spirit.

Saturday (7/1) Read and discuss John 12:27-36a. F.B. Meyer writes:

In these words the Son of Man lays bare His soul. There is no question of the resolute spirit, one with Deity itself in the purpose of redemption; but only a question of the soul, with its sympathetic influence on the flesh. Never for a moment could the blessed Lord swerve from His cherished determination to undo the havoc wrought by Satan in His own fair world. But as He contemplated the awful cost of agony which must first be met by Him, it seemed as if His human nature could never hold out.

In the garden of Gethsemane this awful agony reached its climax. The anguish there anticipated and borne so oppressed His holy, yet weak human nature, that it uttered itself in strong cryings and tears; “and the overflowed soul might have given way to an internal death before the external death of the body, had He not received a strengthening accession of Divine power, in answer to prayer. As Luther says, “A beam may be tested beyond its strength, and may threaten to give way because of the weakness of its nature, not because of anything wanting in itself.”

The scene is an anticipation of Gethsemane. … The question of the Greeks had led the Savior’s thoughts to His death and burial, reminding Him that He must fall into the ground to die, before He could bear fruit. He saw, too, the baptism of suffering unto death through which each of His servants must pass, and in which He would die many times again, in sympathy, though not, of course, as Mediator. And as the whole dread aggregate of sorrow arose before His vision, He cried, “Now is my soul troubled.”

Read or sing Hymn 708 “O Love, That Wilt Not Let Me Go” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 25 June 2017 Sunday, Jun 18 2017 

MVOPC 25 June 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

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

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: Exodus 34:5-7

Hymn of Preparation:  257 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

New Covenant Reading: John 12:20-26

Sermon: The Seed Must Die

Hymn of Response: 261 “What Wondrous Love Is This”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 254 “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 43:1-34

NT: Luke 19:11-27

Making Peace

Adult Sunday School: Congregational Meeting – No Sunday School

Shorter Catechism Q/A #100

Q. What doth the preface of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/19) Read and discuss John 12:20-26.  Commenting on verses 25 and 26, R.C. Sproul writes:

Here we see the paradox of the Christian life that Jesus spoke about so often – we find life in dying to self and following Christ. In the next chapter of John, we will see that when Jesus spoke of going away, Peter asked, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now but you shall follow Me afterward” (13:36). Jesus warned Peter: “If you’re going to be My disciple, you’re going to have to follow Me, and that means you’re going to walk in the shadow of the cross. You will participate in My humiliation.” Our Lord, before He left this planet, gave the church her great commission to go into all the world, baptizing all [people groups] in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you are baptized, you have in your body the mark of your participation in the suffering of Christ, because we are buried with Him in baptism.

The apostle Paul warns that if we’re not willing to participate with Christ in His humiliation, we will have no part in His exaltation. If you’re ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of you. A Christ must embrace Him not only in His exaltation, not only in His glory, but in His shame. Otherwise you’ll be numbered with those who are trying to save their own lives. They are the ultimate losers, Jesus said; but those who lose their lives for His sake participate in his House.

Read or sing 5 “God My King Thy Might Confessing” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Syria as their nation continues to be ripped apart by war.

Tuesday (6/20) Read and discuss Hebrews 7:11-28. Hebrews presents the shift from the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant not as moving from bad to good but in terms of moving from good to better. But if the Levitical Priesthood couldn’t make anyone perfect, and it was always designed with a view to becoming obsolete, does the Bible keep insisting that it was good? Perhaps an illustration might help: Imagine that you are hiking in the desert with a friend when you become disoriented and then lost. Pretty soon you run out of water and you are beginning to run out of hope. Your friend says: “So this is how it all ends. I knew we should have gone fishing instead of hiking.” You are two weary to either laugh or cry. Then you see it: A large sign with an arrow. Underneath the arrow are the most beautiful words you have ever seen: “WATER 500 Yards.” You follow the path from the sign and come to a cool crystal clear spring of refreshing life-giving water. Now let me ask you: Was that sign good? Of course it was good! Apart from that sign you would have died of thirst. But think how silly it would have been to cling to the sign as though it were the reality – and never move on to the water.  The author of Hebrews is addressing a group of first century Christians who are thinking about doing something even more ridiculous. He is addressing Jewish converts to Christianity who are thinking about going back to the Temple and the Levitical Priesthood after they have already come to know something of the Messiah that those things merely pointed to. It would be like discovering the spring of water – and being so happy that the sign pointed you to the spring – that you would go back and cling to the sign until you died of dehydration in the dessert with fresh clean water just 500 yards away. Do people still do that? Sadly, yes. There are people in the church, particularly in churches with more formal liturgies, who just love to participate in the Mass, to sing sacred music, and to get all the aesthetics just right – who don’t trust in Jesus at all. Furthermore, when denominations begin to cut themselves off from God’s word and begin to treat central biblical teachings – such as Christ’s substitutionary atonement and His bodily resurrection – as mere opinions – they begin to wither. What strikes me this morning is that these dying denominations frequently spawn numerous liturgical renewal movements which promise that if we can just get the ceremonies right our churches will grow once again. Such churches can get very agitated over how the minister pours water into the basin prior to baptism – something the Bible gives no instruction about – but ignore the life giving death of our Savior to which baptism points. Now I’m not opposed to liturgical renewal. Worship is the most important thing that we do so we ought to try and get it right. But here’s the point: If you cut yourself off from the reality the signs won’t do you any good at all. Jesus is the reality that the Levitical Priesthood was pointing towards. To turn from Jesus to go back to the sign isn’t to move from better to good. It is to vacate God’s gift of the Mosaic ceremonial law of its goodness and to turn it into an idol. Regretfully, people can do that with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as well. As we attend to the appointed means of grace let us remember to keep our eyes on the prize. Read or sing Hymn 257 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” Prayer: Please pray for the Session of our congregation as they meet this evening.

Wednesday (6/21) Read and discuss Isaiah 52:13-53:12. R. Reed Lessing writes:

Words collapse before the enormity of the Fourth Servant Song. What language shall we borrow to summarize its breadth and length, its height and depth? The text takes us on a journey beginning with our Lord’s eternal relationship with his Father – the exalted state to which he will return (52:13) – down to his state of humiliation as our sin-bearer through the events during Holy Week (52:14-53:10), then up through the empty tomb on Easter, the justification of the many, and his ascension and session at the right hand of the Father, where he ever lives to intercede for us (53:11-12).

The Song begins with the final result: “behold, my Servant will succeed; he will rise, be exalted, and be very high” (52:13). In Isaiah, the combination of the verbs translated as “rise’ and “be exalted” describes only one other person and that is Yahweh: “in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD seated on a throne, high and lifted up” (6:1). He receives the cry of the seraphim: “holy, holy, holy” (6:3). Isaiah calls him “the King, Yahweh of armies” (6:5). The Servant and Yahweh are one and the same. The Servant embodies the totality of the divine glory. “For in him [Christ] all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9).

Prayer: Pray that the LORD would continue the work of conforming you into the likeness of Christ.

Thursday (6/22) Read and discuss Luke 19:11-27. Richard Phillips writes:

The first two servants gave a favorable report and were abundantly rewarded. …

Notice, first, that when Jesus returns and calls his servants to account, a good report is one that speaks of increase to his kingdom. One servant had earned a tenfold profit and the other a fivefold profit, and they both received the Lord’s approval. Second, we observe the disproportion between what he servants earned for the king and the reward the king gave them. For earning ten minas the first servant was given charge of ten cities, a colossal reward that shows Christ’s grace in dealing with his own. The Bible says that God will judge the church, but look at this judgment! The reward is out of all proportion to what has been accomplished. The king was not bound to give any reward; all that they had was from him and for him. Yet his judgment overflows with super abounding grace!

Third, we see that there is a comparative relationship between what the servants earned and what they received. The one who gained a tenfold increase is rewarded with ten cities; the one who gained fivefold received five cities. Jesus explains the principle guiding this dispersal, as Matthew 25:21 puts it: “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” …

This puts a different light on the seemingly small responsibilities the LORD gives us now. So many of us think there is little import to the way we live, our use of money and time and abilities, our participation in the church and witness to the world. But this parable makes plain that there is a direct relationship between our present fidelity and diligence and our future scope for service to the LORD. Hudson Taylor put it best, saying, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing.”

Read or sing Hymn 261 “What Wondrous Love Is This” Prayer: Please ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (6/23) Read and Genesis 43:1-34. Up to this point in Genesis, we have seen that Joseph’s brothers are a rather unattractive lot. Reuben had sexual relations with his father’s concubine while Judah impregnated his daughter-in-law while supposing that she was a prostitute. The last word anyone would use to describe these men is “righteous.” That is what makes the LORD’s grace to them – and to us – so amazing! James Montgomery Boice writes:

[This] is extraordinary, and it leads us to the most uncommon or extraordinary love of all. We find it in Romans 5:6-8: “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Prayer: Please lift up President Trump in prayer as he grapples with many exceedingly knotty problems in foreign policy.

Saturday (6/24) Read and discuss John 12:20-26. Edward Klink writes:

Jesus begins his final statement to the world by declaring that now is the time (“the hour”) of his glorification. The glorification of the son of Man, according to the rest of the Gospel, is the manifestation of all the power, glory, and rule of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ. But the expression of this “glory” is not with crown but with the cross. This is the grand irony of the gospel. The hour of the glorification of the Son of Man is made manifest on the cross! Ultimately, the glory of the Son is for the glory of the Father (v. 28); this glorification involves the Trinitarian identity of God. The exaltation of the Son in majesty and glory occurs when he is “lifted up” on the cross. The power ad purposes of God are best displayed in the most humiliating of acts. But this is our God and the fullest expression of the love of God.

Read or sing Hymn 254 “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 18 June 2017 Sunday, Jun 11 2017 

MVOPC 18 June 2017 – Dan Borvan Preaching

Call to Worship: 95:1-7

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

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: Titus 3:4-7

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

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 1:1-6

New Covenant Reading: 1 Peter 1:1-11

Sermon: Living in the Spirit

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

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Exodus 12:1-13

NT: 1 Corinthians 5:1-8

Shepherding the Flock

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School today

Shorter Catechism Q/A #99

Q. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?
A. The whole word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord’s prayer.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/12) Read and discuss Psalm 1:1-6.  The first Psalm is so important to the Christian life that it is well worth memorizing so that you can meditate upon it throughout the day. Allen P. Ross explains the central message of the psalm:

By drawing a contrast between the righteous and the ungodly, the psalmist instructs believers not to live the way the world lives, not to take spiritual, moral, or ethical advice from unbelievers, and not to join them in their profane enterprises; rather, believers must study the word of God in order to live an untarnished and productive life for God, and that life will be evidence of a living faith that will see them through the judgment, when God judges the wicked. …

For believers, the application is obvious: they must spend time meditating on God’s word so that they may live a distinct and productive spiritual life for God, and in the process find assurance that God knows them and will preserved them through the judgment. To unbelievers the message is urgent: they must come to faith in the Lord, because if they live their lives without faith in him or his word, not even their good deeds will count and they will not survive the judgment to come.

Read or sing 30 “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Please pray for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America which begins today in Greensboro, N.C.

Tuesday (6/13) Read and discuss John 12:12-19.  N.T. Wright comments:

The Pharisees, like Caiaphas before them, speak a contemptuous word which John intends us to understand in a much more positive sense. In verse 19 they scoff at Jesus and his rag-tag following. Just as in 7:49 they sniffed dismissively at the common crowd (‘this rabble that doesn’t know the law!’), so here they are determined to distance themselves from Jesus’ supporters: ‘the world has gone after him.’ The tone of voice can be imagined all too easily. They regard themselves as infinitely superior to the common herd of people. They, after all, know the Torah, and keep it to exacting standards that most people wouldn’t even understand.

But John wants us to hear something else as well, which will then be developed in the next passage. Jesus has come into eh world, because God so loved the world (3:16). He has other sheep to find and rescue as well as the lost sheep of Israel (10:16). His death will deliver not only the nation but also the children of God throughout the world (11:52). It is no accident that immediately after this contemptuous statement of the Pharisees, some foreigners approach the disciples, wanting to see Jesus – or that Jesus sees this as a sign that the moment is fast approaching when he will complete his work. “When I am lifted up from the earth,’ he says in verse 32, ‘I will draw all people to myself.”

Read or sing Hymn 559 “Father, I Know That All My Life” Prayer: Please pray for those in our congregation who are struggling with health problems.

Wednesday (6/14) Read and discuss 1 Peter 1:1-11.  Karen Jobes writes:

The new birth brings Peter’s readers great joy, for they have both a living hope for this life and an everlasting inheritance in the life hereafter. However, their identity as Christians also brings them suffering and grief in various kinds of trials. Peter makes the astonishing claim that the suffering they presently experience is a test of faith that will end in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Suffering is a test of genuineness of their faith in Christ, especially because they have neither seen nor presently see him. Therefore, even their suffering is an opportunity for joy because it confirms their faith and the salvation that will certainly be theirs in the end.

Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Thursday (6/15) Read and discuss Exodus 12:1-13. Commenting on verses 12 and 13, Douglas Stuart writes:

The precise description of the tenth plague reveals that it would take place in a matter of hours at most (“on that same night”), would affect the firstborn of all Egyptian humans and livestock, would be averted from homes that displayed the Passover blood on their doors as a sign of faithful obedience to God, would be a divine strike against Egypt, and – above all – would constitute “judgment on all the gods of Egypt.” The blood on the doorposts showed acceptance of God’s plan for rescue and trust in his word. After all, the sight of dried blood by itself had no power to deter death; it was only as the dried blood painted on the top and sides of the door was a testimony to the faith of the inhabitants in Yahweh [and in how the blood pointed forward to the death of Jesus] that it had its efficacy. Thus the statement, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” – in other words, I will spare all those who show that they have placed their faith in Me.

Read or sing Hymn 558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God” Prayer: Ask the LORD to stretch you and cause you to grow in your Christian life.

Friday (6/16) Read and 1 Corinthians 5:1-8. Who you think you are will radically impact how you choose to live. Paul begins today’s passage with the startling accusation “that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.” One striking aspect of this charge is that the word translated “pagans” literally simply means “gentiles”. In this deft way Paul is reminding the Corinthians that, in one sense, they are no longer gentiles. They have been cut out of the pagan nations and grafted into the Israel of God. They have been transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son – and so are all who have put their trust in Jesus. The astonishing new status of Christians as God’s own treasured possession ought to radically alter the way that we live. This is why Paul drives home his point using an image drawn from the Passover. Just as the first Passover marked out the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross marks out our deliverance from this fallen world. We are therefore to celebrate (keep the feast) in sincerity and truth. There is one other aspect of who we are that we shouldn’t miss in this passage. We are vulnerable. Although redeemed, we are still sinners in a fallen world. One key reality of our life together as a church is that fellowship with other Christians who are pursuing to walk in the paths of righteousness strengthens each of us in our own walk with the LORD. On the other hand, to engage in close fellowship with those who are brazenly trampling the blood of Christ underfoot by defiantly living in sin is very likely to corrupt the entire church family. If someone came into our church, or into the school of your children, with a highly contagious and destructive disease you would insist on separation. Sin that is being flaunted rather than mortified is like that. For both the good of the sinner and the good of the whole church such sin must be dealt with. Prayer: Ask that the LORD would grant you the humility of self-forgetfulness so that you would focus on others.

Saturday (6/17) Read and discuss Psalm 1:1-6. John Calvin writes:

The Psalmist does not simply pronounce those happy who fear God, but designates godliness by the study of the law, teaching us that God is only rightly served when his law is obeyed. I tis not left to every man to frame a system of religion according to his own judgment, but the standard of godliness is to be taken from the Word of God. From his characterizing the godly as delighting in the law of the LORD, we may learn that forced or servile obedience is not at all acceptable to God, and that those only are worthy students of the law who come to it with a cheerful mind, and are so delighted with its instructions, as to account nothing more desirable or delicious than to make progress therein. From this love of the law proceeds constant meditation on 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 11 June 2017 Sunday, Jun 4 2017 

MVOPC 11 June 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 44 “How Great Thou Art”

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: Isaiah 55:7-9

Hymn of Preparation:  670 “If thou Bu Suffer God to Guide Thee”

Old Covenant Reading: Zechariah 9:9-17

New Covenant Reading: John 12:12-19

Sermon: Fear Not Daughter of Zion

Hymn of Response: 642 “Be Thou My Vision”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 646 “Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 42:1-38

NT: Colossians 3:1-11

A Family Reunion

Adult Sunday School: Bioethics – Jonathan Coppeta teaching – Bioethics Part II

Shorter Catechism Q/A #98

Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

Suggested Preparations 

Monday (6/5) Read and discuss John 12:12-19.  Chuck Swindoll writes:

John’s narrative suddenly shifts from the fragrant banquet room in Bethany to a bustling street leading into Jerusalem, where thronging worshipers have come in anticipation of the Passover feast. As with other feasts, worshipers wondered if Jesus would attend and eagerly watched for His arrival. Upon His arrival, they lined His path to the city with palm branches and clothes, shouting “Hosanna!” which means, “Save us.” Their shouts included words from a messianic psalm (Ps. 118:26).

Jesus had entered the city of Jerusalem many times during His ministry, but this “triumphal entry” to the capital city of the Hebrew nation differed in one primary respect. He no longer visited as a worshiper; this day He claimed it as King. Unlike a conquering warrior king, however, Jesus entered the city on a symbol of peace. He rode on a humble donkey rather than sitting high in the saddle of a prancing white steed or riding in a stately chariot behind a team of horses. John quotes Zechariah 9:9 to stress that Jesus fulfilled a well-known messianic prophecy. “Daughter of Zion” is a tender expression for the citizens of Jerusalem.

The events of this day wouldn’t make any sense to the disciples until after Jesus ascended to heaven and they received the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees, however, understood the meaning of the event all too well. Their reaction belies their true motive. They prized the approval of men above all else – above truth, above the Law, above even the welfare of Israel. Because of the arrival of the Messiah would shift the loyalty of the people away from them, leaving them powerless, they had no other option but to eliminate Jesus.

Read or sing 44 “How Great Thou Art” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Providence OPC in West Lebanon, NH.

Tuesday (6/6) Read and discuss John 12:1-8.  Let it be said, the difference between Mary and Judas was not in how they valued the perfume – they both knew that the perfume was worth a small fortune – the difference between Mary and Judas was in how they valued Jesus. Mary valued Jesus above everything else. Therefore, she worshipped Him with wild abandon – offering Him everything that she was and everything that she had. That looked outrageous to unbelievers in the first century … and it looks outrageous to unbelievers today. This raises two pointed questions:

  1. First, do we allow what other people think to determine how we will honor Jesus Christ in our own lives?
  2. And second, what is there about our lives that can only be explained by the fact that Jesus is the living God who loved us and who gave Himself for us? Beloved, if our lives are fully explicable to those who don’t know and love Jesus – then there is something rather deficient in the way that we are living.

Read or sing Hymn 670 “If thou Bu Suffer God to Guide Thee” Prayer: Please pray for the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as it concludes this year’s business today.

Wednesday (6/7) Read and discuss Colossians 3:1-11.  With today’s passage, the tone of Paul’s writing noticeably shifts. It will help us get more out of the rest of the letter if we understand why this is so and, also, where Paul is taking us. Dick Lucas points us in the right direction:

From now on, until 4:6, the tone of Paul’s letter is one of sustained exhortation. It is characteristic of the apostle’s method of teaching to arrange his material in this way, and to follow an exposition of Christ and he gospel with an explanation of what it means to live in the world consistently with such truth. He refuses to teach the doctrines of faith without insisting that they be translated into corresponding behavior and conduct.

Nor does the apostle call his hearers to a new way of life until they have understood what it means to be new persons in Christ. Paul is no mere moralist. For him there cannot be substantial goodness without godliness. If he is right here, it must follow that those standards of behavior, and that quality of life, that we have been accustomed to describe as Christian, cannot in the end survive a serious erosion of Christian standards of belief.

That last line is something we see playing out in Western churches right now. Western Christianity frequently operated in the twentieth century under the principle “deeds not creeds.” Today we are seeing these same churches abandoning any semblance to Biblical morality or as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” It is also important for us to realize that the flip side of this proposition is also true. If people seek to have sound theology that they don’t put into practice, they will inevitably lose not only lose their theology they will lose the presence of God. As Jesus says to the church in Ephesus “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Revelation 2:5). Prayer: Pray that the children in our congregation would come to cherish God’s word and that they would zealously pursue being Christ’s disciples.

Thursday (6/8) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 3:1-23. Richard Hays writes:

With the final words of verse 9, Paul shifts to a new metaphor. “You are God’s building.” This allows him to direct attention to a new focal concern: the urgency of constructing the church with integrity. In this new metaphor, Paul compares himself to a head building contractor who has carefully laid the foundation of a building and then let out the rest of the work to subcontractors. If their work Is not “up to code,” or if they fail to use suitable materials, there will be dire consequences.

We might think of what happens in California earthquakes. Some buildings that have been properly constructed to withstand the shocks remain standing, while others that have not been built according to sound principles of seismic engineering come tumbling down, with sometimes tragic results. Rather than earthquake, Paul uses the image of fire, a traditional Old Testament image for God’s judgment, but his point is the same. A cataclysm is coming that is going to test the structural integrity of our construction work, so we should build with great care. Our building should not be hasty, nor just for show: we must build our community solidly from the ground up in a way that is designed to endure.

Read or sing Hymn 642 “Be Thou My Vision” Prayer: Ask the LORD to help you live your life in light of eternity rather than by simply responding to short term pressures and enticements.

Friday (6/9) Read and Genesis 42:1-38. James Montgomery Boice writes:

During the years my wife and I spent in Switzerland we spent all the time I could afford away from my graduate work in the mountains. The high mountains of Switzerland are wonderful at any time of year – in summer when fields of alpine flowers blanket the mountain pastures and small clusters of edelweiss cling to the bare granite peaks and outcroppings, in winter when the peaks, pastures, and even the lower mountain valleys are covered with a thick, silent carpet of snow. But the most wonderful time of all in the mountains is spring. In spring, the hard, harsh grasp of snowy winter weakens and the glories of summer begin to push their way up the rugged valleys to the heights. If you are high in the mountains during that wondrous passage of seasons, you notice that little trickles of water begin to flow beside the paths and roadways. The snow becomes softer, melting. Patches of gray stone or brown earth appear. Here and there deep blue gentian or red alpine roses appear beside the rocks. At last the snow retreats to the most distant heights and warm, restoring breezes sweep over the lush green meadows.

Something like that happens when the Spirit of God begins to blow upon sin-hardened consciences. At first there is a mere trickle of recognition of wrong done. But as the breath of God grows warmer, the tickle becomes a torrent of remorse and confession, the ice of rebellion melts, and the miracle of forgiveness, cleansing, and new life engulfs the tender soul.

This was beginning to happen with Joseph’s ten brothers. They had come to Egypt out of sheer necessity, remembering only what they had done collectively to their brother and dreading the possibility that they might meet him in some dark habitat of slaves. Still they were hardened men. It was only as God added the harsh words of Joseph (whom they did not recognize) to the pain of material want that the trickle of confession began. At first it was small. They said, “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” They meant that as far as they knew, Joseph was probably dead; yet they felt compelled to mention him as their brother: “Joseph … our brother!” Earlier, when he had approached them while they were with the sheep at Dothan, he had been “that dreamer.” Now he is “our brother” and even “the boy” (v. 22) or “the child” (KJV).

Prayer: Please lift up the people of London as they deal with their third terrorist attack in a relatively short period of time.

Saturday (6/10) Read and discuss John 12:12-19. R.C. Sproul writes:

Apparently the raising of Lazarus had been much talked about by the people who had been there to see it happen. It was this widespread discussion of the miracle that sparked the interest of the people to come out and welcome Jesus to Jerusalem.

Finally, John writes of the reaction of the Pharisees: “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, ‘You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after Him!’ (v. 19). The Jewish authorities saw that all their efforts to confront Jesus, to seize Him, and to warn the people to have nothing to do with Him had been useless; Jesus’ following was growing by leaps and bounds. From their perspective, it seemed that the entire world was going after Jesus.

But if there is one thing this passage makes clear, it is that the people’s interest in Jesus was based largely on curiosity and false expectations that would be dashed in no time. Jesus was God’s King, and He had come to Jerusalem to fulfill a mission unlike what anyone, even those closest to Him, could envision. All too soon the people would reject Him, but as Zechariah said, He would become the chief cornerstone.

Read or sing Hymn 646 “Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 4 June 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 

MVOPC 4 June 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: 2 Chronicles 7:14

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

Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 15:1-11

New Covenant Reading: John 12:1-8

Sermon: Honoring the Lord with Our Wealth

Hymn of Response: 188 “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 598 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 41:37-57

NT: 1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Remembering Whose We Are

Adult Sunday School: Bioethics – Jonathan Coppeta teaching

Shorter Catechism Q/A #97

Q. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (5/29) Read and discuss John 12:1-8.  Chuck Swindoll writes:

At some point during the meal, [Mary] opened an alabaster jar of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus’ head (Matt. 26:7; Mark 14:30. Then, moved by her enormous gratitude for grace, or overtaken with grief for the ordeal He was about to suffer, Mary knelt over His feet, broke the alabaster jar, and emptied the perfume on Jesus’ feet in a lavish gesture of worship. She drenched His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. The fragrance of her spontaneous devotion filled the room.

In doing this, Mary violated several cultural norms. First, her society expected her to be serving. Second, touching the feet of another person was considered degrading; Mary’s wiping the feet of Jesus with her hair – the crown and glory of a woman – left her with no public dignity whatsoever. Third, a woman was never to take her hair down in public – ever. …

[Judas] watched in horror as he witnessed nearly one year’s wage for a common laborer seep through the cracks in the floor. John, writing … years later, knew the true reason for Judas’s shrieking objection. The trusted treasurer had been embezzling the group’s funds for some time. The man was greedy to the core, despite his pious-sounding suggestion.

Judas had been cultivating a double life for months or possibly years. Truth, like a sharp blade, divides whatever stands before it, separating even soul from spirit to reveal the heart of a man (Heb. 4:12). In the case of Judas, it created a gaping chasm between his public persona and his private self. His charming religious façade had kept a seething resentment hidden from anyone he hoped to impress.

We cannot know for certain what was in Mary’s mind as she worshiped the Lord with her aromatic treasure, but the Lord gave it a profound theological purpose. The first step in preparing a body for burial was to rinse with water and anoint with perfumed oil. Jesus used her expression of devotion to signal the coming of His own death.

Read or sing 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render” Prayer: Please pray for the Island nation of Japan which is one of the least Christian nations on earth. Ask the LORD of the harvest to send faithful missionaries there and that He would bear much fruit through their work.

Tuesday (5/30) Read and discuss John 11:45-57.  Interestingly, both Caiaphas and God are talking about substitution in this passage. Let’s hear Caiaphas’ words once again. Verses 49 and 50:

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”

As the context makes clear, Caiaphas is thinking entirely in political terms. He is thinking: “Either we kill Jesus or the Romans kill us. So let’s kill Jesus.” It really is that crass: “Either we kill Jesus or the Romans kill us. So let’s kill Jesus.” The logic of his argument involves a type of substitution. Jesus needs to die so that the nation might live. Remarkably, God is also saying that it is better for Jesus to die than for the nation to perish. But from the LORD’s point of view, Jesus doesn’t die to spare His people the wrath of Rome. Jesus dies to spare His people from the wrath of Almighty God. Here stands a profound truth that you could happily meditate on for the rest of your lives: God is saying in this passage that it is better for His Son to die than for you to die. Do you see that? God is saying in this passage that it is better for His Son to die than for you to die. While the LORD means something different by these words than Caiaphas did – rightly understood, the callous words of the High Priest are truly a prophetic utterance given by God Himself: “…. it is better for you that one man should die for the people, than for the whole nation to perish.” This brings us to the mystery of God’s love for us that we may never fully fathom. Ultimately, it wasn’t the Romans who put Jesus to death – although they were guilty of this crime. Nor was it, ultimately, the Jews who put Jesus to death – although they were guilty of this crime too. … Ultimately, it was Almighty God who put Jesus to death – because it was better in the sight of the LORD His righteous judgment to fall upon His own Son than for it to fall on you and me. Is this not what we read in Isaiah 53? Isaiah 53:10 says:

“It was the will of the LORD to crush Him. He [that is Yahweh] has put Him [that is Jesus] to grief.”

God did it. Ultimately, it is Almighty God who kills Jesus. For someone needed to die. And, astonishingly, God Himself declared that it was better for Jesus to die for your sins than for you to die in them. Read or sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus loves you and that He gave Himself for you.

Wednesday (5/31) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 15:1-11.  In this week’s Sermon text, which describes events toward the end of our Lord’s earthly life, we read about how a woman anointed Jesus with an extremely expensive perfume and how Judas Iscariot became indignant at how this money was “wasted.” Mark 14 makes clear that many others became indignant at this “waste” as well. Like most hypocrites, they suggested that the money could have been better spent on helping the poor (which, of course, was important to Jesus and to Christianity). Our Lord sharply rebuked this criticism. In His reply Jesus included the statement that “you will always have the poor among you.” This has been widely misunderstood as suggesting that since we will always have the poor with us there really isn’t anything we can do about poverty. This is a total misunderstanding of what Jesus is saying in the context of John 12 which becomes even more apparent when we return to the portion of Deuteronomy that our LORD is quoting from:

If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. … For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”

Seen in its original context it becomes abundantly obvious that God is telling His people that they should do something about the poverty of their fellow Israelites. This is not just a suggestion but a Divine command. The LORD cares about the poor and so should we. Prayer: Please lift up the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as it begins to meet this evening at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois.

Thursday (6/1) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 3:1-23. You are not your own and that is good news. You were created by God and purchased by Jesus Christ. You are not your own and that is really good news. The Church in Corinth was divided in very carnal ways. At the root of it all was the reality that individuals in the church were trying to exalt themselves. Regretfully, this is not a problem that has gone away. Thankfully, neither has the solution. In today’s passage Paul shows the Corinthians that they have everything backwards. They are boasting in those they have aligned themselves with as a way of saying that their group is better than the others. But this is like being invited to dine with the Queen in Buckingham Palace and going away saying, “I am of the person who served the water” or “I am of the person who served the rolls.” To think that way would reveal that we had missed the entire point. We are dining with the Queen! Why are we focusing on the servants? This has a very practical application for us as we benefit from the various servants that God has given to the church. It means that Presbyterians can learn from Mark Dever and John Piper while Baptists can learn from John Calvin or R.C. Sproul. Or, believe it or not, we can all learn from Augustine, Aquinas, and Martin Luther. After all these men are merely servants of the One who loved us and gave His life for us. The paradox is that those who seek their own glory end up pursuing a futile path while those who seek God’s glory end up being joint heirs with Christ … that is – heirs of everything. This is why we confess in the words of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ;  who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil;  and so preserves me that 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, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,  and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Read or sing Hymn 188 “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” Prayer: Ask the LORD to cause our young people to take their stand against a culture which tells them that they can and should be a law until themselves (autonomous). Ask that the LORD would lead each of them to enjoy the comfort of knowing that they belong body and soul to their faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday (6/2) Read and Genesis 41:37-57. Iain Duguid writes:

Joseph is never just a model from which we may learn in these stories. In his original dreams back in Genesis 37, God gave Joseph a vision in which all creation would come and bow the knee before him. In one sense, his brothers are right in seeing this as expressing a reality far bigger than their little brother could ever fulfill. Joseph was a shadow and a forerunner of a greater deliver to come. Before Joseph could even begin to fulfill that calling as a suffering savior, he had to endure repeated and long-lasting suffering that would leave permanent scars. But after that painful preparation, God used him to be a blessing to the nations. In this chapter, Joseph’s ministry is described in terms that point back to the Abrahamic promise: the grain piles up “like the sand of the sea” (Gen 41:49), a clear allusion to the blessing given to Abraham in Genesis 22:17 and multiplied in the land of his affliction, and the result was life-giving blessing to the nations, first to Egypt and then to all the earth. All who blessed Joseph and bowed the knee before him were blessed and received life. I they refused to bow before him, they inevitably died of hunger.

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod and pray for Pastor Gerry Malkus as he begins preaching at the church for the next six months while Pastor Labelle is on sabbatical.

Saturday (6/3) Read and discuss John 12:1-8. R.C. Sproul writes:

This precious ointment was worth about one year’s salary for people at that time, but Mary used it all in seconds. This was extravagant love. There are times for extravagance, and it is always time for an extravagant manifestation of adoration to Christ. What could you and I possibly do that would be too extravagant in honoring Jesus, too extravagant in praising Him, too extravagant in giving Him glory? Anyone who has ever been in love at some point has made an extravagant gift for the one that he or she loved, and the only justification for it was the love that he or she felt. If we love Christ, it is appropriate to love Him extravagantly, for He is worthy of extravagant love.

Read or sing Hymn 598 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 28 May 2017 Sunday, May 21 2017 

MVOPC 28 May 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: Romans 1:16-17

Hymn of Preparation:  347 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 56:1-8

New Covenant Reading: John 11:45-57

Sermon: High Priests False and True

Hymn of Response: 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 6:9–22

NT: 1 Peter 3:18–22

Salvation through Suffering

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #96

Q. What is the Lord’s supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

Suggested Preparations 

Monday (5/22) Read and discuss John 11:45-57.  Chuck Swindoll writes:

As a young man, I listened with great confusion to sermons and lessons on the life of Jesus and the conspiracy to kill Him. I couldn’t understand why anyone would murder the Son of God, unless genuine ignorance or out-and-out insanity had clouded his or her vision. I even wondered, If the Lord had spoken to them just one more time, maybe – just maybe – they would have seen their error. Perhaps one more miracle might help them see the truth; a great, collective “ah-ha” would precede their profound apologies and complete acceptance of Him as their long-awaited Messiah.

 When I outgrew the callow innocence of youth, I accepted a sad, yet all-too-common reality: some people don’t want the truth. The lies they tell themselves make the world theirs to control. At least, that’s what they’ve worked hard to believe. And they will destroy anyone who threatens to tear their fantasy worlds apart, because they are terrified to face the truth that we are, in fact, powerless.

Can there be a more senseless lie than the one we tell ourselves?

In describing the last days of Jesus’ public ministry in Jerusalem, John’s matter-of-fact tone underscores a terrifying reality. The religious leaders had willfully rejected the truth of Jesus Christ, so He gave them over to their self-delusion. Theologians call this “judicial abandonment.” This tough-love decision on part of God is not a passive releasing but an active “giving over” for the purpose of redemption. When the LORD hands someone over to his or her sin, you can be sure of this: the consequences are grave. It is a defining moment in which a person will either break down in repentance, or remain stubbornly rebellious, even in the face of damnation.

By way of application, I have only one point: Seek the truths you most fear to find; they hold the greatest promise of freedom.

Read or sing 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Pray for Dan as he spends a week studying with Professor Chad Van Dixhorn at our denomination’s ministerial training institute.

Tuesday (5/23) Read and discuss John 11:28-44.  In verse 33 we are told that Jesus was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. What does it mean that Jesus was “deeply moved in his spirit.” For some reason, most English translations leave this rather vague. We could easily imagine that Jesus was deeply moved, perhaps, with deep compassion for Mary, Martha, and even for the crowd. But that is not what this expression means. The Greek word is never used of compassion. In extra-biblical Greek, the term is used to describe the snorting of horses who are preparing for battle. When it is applied “to human beings, it [always] suggests anger or outrage.” … Jesus is seriously angry, but the question is … “Angry at what?” Nobody can explain this any better than the great Princeton scholar, B.B. Warfield. Warfield writes:

It is death that is the object of [Christ’s] wrath, and behind death him who has the power of death, and whom He has come into the world to destroy. Tears of sympathy may fill His eyes, but this is incidental. His soul is held by rage: and He advances to the tomb, in Calvin’s words … “as a champion who prepares for conflict.’ The raising of Lazarus thus becomes, not an isolated marvel, but … a decisive instance and open symbol of Jesus’ conquest of death and hell. What John does for us in this particular statement is to uncover to us the heart of Jesus, as He wins for us our salvation. Not in cold unconcern, but in flaming wrath against the foe, Jesus smites [death] on our behalf.”

Read or sing Hymn 347 “The Church’s One Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus has triumphed over death on behalf of all His people.

Wednesday (5/24) Read and discuss Isaiah 56:1-8.  This portion of Isaiah comes after the promise of the coming Suffering Savior who will bear the sins of God’s people (see especially Isaiah 53).  According to Isaiah 56:1-2, how should people respond to this announcement of amazing grace? Have you ever been concerned that you are an outsider and not worthy of full membership into God’s family? This has been a common concern among Gentile converts throughout History.  What assurance does the LORD give to us in verses 3-7 that we really do belong in His household of faith? Paul picks up on this theme in Ephesians 2:13 where he writes: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Praise God! According to Isaiah 56:8, what sort of people is the LORD gathering into His Kingdom? There are two groups: (1) the outcasts of Israel; and (2) “others”. Ironically, Jesus was frequently accused of being a friend of Israel’s outcasts – as though this was a mark against Him. If only Christ’s accusers realized that He was fulfilling this very verse from Isaiah by doing so. It is worth noticing that verse 8 concludes with God’s commitment to gather still others to Him. The Church has sometimes presented God as off in a distance while we engage in missionary activity.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Verse 8 reminds us that we have been redeemed by and serve a missionary God. Prayer: Ask the LORD to cause you to walk more closely with Him.

Thursday (5/25) Read and discuss Genesis 6:9–22. Jeff Niehaus writes:

The flood has an end in two senses. It has an end or goal in view: the extermination of all God’s foes and of the environmental system (the world) that sustained them. But it also has an end in the sense that it comes to an end. And when it does, the dry land emerges once again, just as it did in Genesis 1. The parallel is real and not merely literary. When God brought the Flood, he returned the globe to a pre-emergent state – that is, the state in which it found itself before God caused the dry land to emerge from the waters. Only after the land emerged did life appear on it. By bringing the Flood, God has reversed the condition of the earth and made it what it originally was. So now, again, there are no land creatures in existence except for Noah “and those with him in the ark” (Gen. 7:23). When God causes dry land to reemerge from a global ocean, it will be an act of recreation, a making of a new earth, and this act is introduced with an evocative term: “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded” (Gen 8:1). The term for wind here is the word that can also mean “spirit/Spirit”, and it appears in the creation account when the “Spirit from God hovered over the face of the deep before God separated the land from the water (Gen. 1:2). The narrative seems to allude to God’s original act and thereby indicate the “new creation” aspect of the Flood waters’ retreat.

Read or sing Hymn 246 “Man of Sorrows! What a Name” Prayer: Please lift up brothers and sisters at Immanuel Chapel our OPC congregation in Upton, MA.

Friday (5/26) Read and 1 Peter 3:18–22. Karen Jobes writes:

Although 3:18-22 ranges through several topics – from Christ’s resurrection to his victory over the spirits to Noah’s flood to Christian baptism and its moral imperative – the unity of the passage rests on Christology in relation to God’s people. … Dalton helpfully outlines the logic of the theology found in this difficult passage:

  1. First stage: By water God saves … Noah and his family from the evil world which lies under the domination of evil spirits. Unbelievers and their angelic instigators are punished.
  2. Second stage: God’s definitive act of salvation is done through the passion and resurrection of Christ. … As the risen Lord, Christ proclaims the definitive defeat of the evil spirits.
  3. Third stage: By water, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God saves the Christian believer from the evil world. … The evil world, which does not believe and cannot be baptized, is doomed to condemnation.
  4. Fourth stage: The Christian suffering persecution from the pagan world is confident because he knows that it has no power over him: the evil angelic forces behind it have been overthrown.

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers in Indonesia that they would be bold to share their faith in the midst of very challenging circumstances.

Saturday (5/27) Read and discuss John 11:45-57. R.C. Sproul writes:

Several years ago, I was asked to serve on a presbytery commission charged with investigating a conflict that was threatening to split a local church. The chairman of the commission said, “Let’s interview the pastor, the assistant pastor, the elders, and some people from the congregation.” When we had done all that and had reviewed our notes, he said: “There’s real conflict in this church. First, we need to come up with a solution that will protect the pastor, the assistant pastor, all the elders, and these members of the congregation. Is there anything else we are supposed to do?” I said, “Yes, our primary task is to administer justice according to truth and to grace, and not just to make a decision designed to keep everybody happy. That’s not going to happen anyway.” I believe we as a commission were in danger of falling prey to the spirit of pragmatism and expediency that has been in the heart of human beings from the beginning.

Do you realize how much like Caiaphas we are? We often make decisions out of fear. We don’t want to be nonconformists; we don’t want to have people think that we’re marching to a different drumbeat; we don’t want to provoke the hostility of the world. So we remain silent. …

Every time the gospel has been proclaimed boldly and accurately in church history, there has been persecution. Every time the church speaks out to confront ungodliness in the culture, there is a backlash. I have no desire to go looking for persecution and conflict, but the fact that I live so free of persecution makes me question my commitment to the things of God. I don’t like conflict, but I hate to stand among people like Caiaphas.

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

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