Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 11 December 2016 Sunday, Dec 4 2016 

MVOPC 11 December 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 2 “God, my King, thy Might Confessing”

Confession of Sin

O You whose chosen dwelling is the heart that longs for Your presence and humbly seeks Your love:  We come to You to acknowledge and confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed;  We have not loved You with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength;   We have not even loved our neighbor as ourselves.  Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, or for the good we have left undone.  But You, O Lord, are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy;  there is forgiveness with You.  Restore to us the joy of Your salvation;  Bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills and rest to our souls.  Speak to each of us the word that we need, and let Your Word abide with us until it has wrought in us Your holy will.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 86:5-7

Hymn of Preparation:  36 “Lord, Thou hast Searched me”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 35

New Covenant Reading: Mark 8:22-26

Sermon: Seeing is Believing

Hymn of Response: 47 “God the Lord is King”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 54 “Hallelujah! Raise, O Raise”

PM Worship

OT: Daniel 9:24-27

NT: 1 Peter 1:10-12

Salvation Foretold

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #72

Q. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words and actions.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (12/5) Read and discuss Mark 8:22-26. We have reached a turning point in the Gospel according to Mark. Structurally, it is difficult to know whether this passage best goes with what the preceding narratives or those that come after. Making such a determination is not particularly important. What is helpful to recognize is that from this passage through 11:1 Mark is narrating the journey of Jesus and His disciples from Galilee in the north until their arrival in Jerusalem. The emphasis of Jesus undergoes a significant change at this point. There are far fewer miracles recorded (only the healing of two blind men and the casting out of a demon) and the teaching focuses almost exclusively upon the disciples. Furthermore, after 8:31 Jesus increasing speaks of His own death. There are two key points that should be seen from this passage: (1) First, Jesus leads the blind man away from the crowd and even out of the village (v. 23!) before miraculously healing him. Clearly Jesus is doing the miracle for the benefit of the man while giving the sign for the benefit of His disciples. (2) Jesus is continuing to reveal who He is in the most dramatic fashion.  We have already noted several times how the opening of the eyes of the blind is particularly linked in OT prophesy with the coming of the Messiah. It is also worth meditating on a portion of Psalm 146:

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The identification of the LORD as the one who opens the eyes of the blind gives Christ’s miracles an additional force. Clearly Yahweh was at work in Jesus’ ministry. Indeed, Jesus can rightfully be called Yahweh. This repeated demonstration of who He is (through the miracles of giving sight to the blind) leads up to Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ (8:29). Read or sing Hymn 2 “God, my King, thy Might Confessing” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send Reformation to New England.

Tuesday (12/6) Read and discuss John 6:1-15. Consider the world’s favorite Psalm, Psalm 23, which begins: “The LORD is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want.” How does that fit with those portions of your life that you view from the standpoint of scarcity – even areas where you currently seem to be entirely lacking in the resources that you need? Here is what John 6 and Psalm 23 do NOT mean: They do not mean that God is going to magically multiple resources to give you everything you want as though the Creator of the Universe is a genie in the bottle who keeps saying: “Your wish is my command.” God is saying something far more profound to us in today’s passage than that. The LORD is saying: “If you ever have to get rid of your car and live in an unfurnished attic, Jesus will be right there with you. … And the Jesus who be right there with you is full of compassion, and He is both willing and able to provide exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or even imagine. Therefore, if Jesus chooses to leave you without something that you really, really, want, it is because He is doing something better for you and something better with you.” Isn’t that the very thing that Psalm 23 goes on to say:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Read or sing Hymn 36 “Lord, Thou hast Searched me” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus is your Good Shepherd.

Wednesday (12/7) Read and discuss Isaiah 35. Alec Motyer writes:

Sometimes even Isaiah excels himself! He was a master wordsmith and poet; in chapter 35 he is at his highest and best. But if the beauty of Isaiah’s words and thoughts thrill us, how great is our excitement when we realize that he is writing about us! We are the enigmatic ‘them’ and ‘they’ (vv. 1, 2, 8), the anonymous ones around whom the poem moves, because we are the redeemed and ransomed (vv. 9-10) with whom it ends. The ‘ransomed’ (v. 10) are those for whom the price has been paid; the ‘redeemed’ (v. 9) are those with whom the Lord, the divine next-of-kin, has identified himself, saying to us: ‘What is your problem? Give it to me. What is your need? I will meet it. What is your burden? Lay it on my shoulders.’ That is the way with … the kinsman-redeemer. He bears it all, pays it all, does it all. He the doer, we the recipients. But now that we know who the ‘them’ and ‘they’ are, follow through what Isaiah says about them, about us. First, whatever our circumstances appear to be (the desert, the parched land, v. 1), we may confidently expect to be provided for. No other eye but ours, the eye of faith, will see the blossoming, but the blossom will be there. Secondly, we endure as seeing him who is invisible, (Heb. 11:27). In every situation, in every place, the glory of the LORD is present – and, remember, his glory is not an abstract ‘something’, the LORD’s glory is the LORD in all his glory, with us, recognized by faith, all along the way. Thirdly, to the outward eye, the road may seem full of twists and turns, but it is a protected pathway from which no hazard can dislodge the pilgrim (v. 9). It is a ‘highway’ (v. 8), running in a straight line from conversion to glory. And, finally, the end is guaranteed: emphasize the verb, ‘the redeemed shall come’. Everything that made the journey a sad experience will take to its legs; every unalloyed delight that slipped like soap out of the pilgrim’s grasp will be finally possessed. Zion admits no disappointment.

Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Island Pond Baptist Church as they look for a new pastor.

Thursday (12/8) Read and discuss Daniel 9:20-27. Today’s passage has been interpreted in a bewildering variety of ways. Is there any hope that we can get it right? Absolutely! We should remember that this vision is also a part of God’s word that is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).” The key is to begin with one of the most fundamental (yet, oddly frequently ignored) principles of interpreting any passage: CONTEXT. That is, we need to remember that vv. 20-27 are God’s response to Daniel’s prayer in verses 3-19. Iain Duguid helps us grasp this when he writes:

This prayer is the context in which the vision comes to Daniel, a context that has often been overlooked in interpreting the vision. As we saw in our last study, Daniel tells us that he had been pondering Jeremiah’s prophecy of a seventy-year period of exile and subjection to the Babylonians and to their king, after which God would judge the Babylonians, and his people would return to their land to rebuild the temple. Daniel’s prayer took place during the first year of King Darius, immediately after the Babylonian empire had fallen to the Medes and the Persians. He recognized that the Babylonians and their king had been judged by God, fulfilling the first part of Jeremiah’s prophecy. So Daniel prayed that God would now fulfill the second part as well, restoring his people to their land in his mercy and grace and showing favor again to the desolate sanctuary in Jerusalem. Daniel acknowledged that God had judged his people and his sanctuary for their sin, just as faithfulness to the Sinai covenant demanded. Yet that same Sinai covenant also held out the prospect of a new beginning after the punishment of exile, a new beginning in which the Lord would circumcise the hearts of his people and give them hearts that long to obey him (see Deut. 30:1-6).

Indeed, as Daniel read the words of Jeremiah, he would also have read more prophecies that spoke of that promised new beginning. Jeremiah announced that God would make a new covenant with his people that would be different from the covenant that they broke through their sin, a covenant that would finally fulfill Deuteronomy’s promise of hearts that desired to obey the LORD:

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jer. 31:31-33)

Daniel was praying for the fulfillment of these promises of the transformation of the people of God. He longed to see them changed from sinners to a holy people with God dwelling in their midst and to see Jerusalem restored through the coming of the messianic king.

We therefore have our first key to understanding the vision: Daniel is asking, “Will you inaugurate the New Covenant when You bring Your people back to the Promised Land.”

Read or sing Hymn 47 “God the Lord is King” Prayer: Please lift up our congregation’s youth group in prayer.

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

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

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

Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has given us to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday (12/10) Read and discuss Mark 8:22-26. At first glance, this might seem like one of the oddest miracles that Jesus ever performs. After leading the blind man out of the village, Jesus heals the man in two stages. After the first stage, the formerly blind man can see other men – but they appear to him like trees walking (i.e. he can’t see very well). Then Jesus acts again and grants the man perfect sight. Since Jesus was and is quite capable of healing completely by simply saying the word – why would He heal in this rather unusual manner.  Once we understand that Christ was performing this sign primarily for the benefit of His disciples the answer becomes obvious. Let’s remember that the language of blindness is often used metaphorically in the Bible to refer to spiritual blindness (e.g. Isaiah 6:9-10). In our passage Jesus is physically healing this man in a manner that points to how He is opening the eyes of His disciples.  By His grace, very soon they will have their spiritual sight opened to be able to see – but they too will see in a rather fuzzy manner.  It won’t be until after the resurrection that their spiritual vision will become completely clear. This most unusual two-stage miracle sets the stage for God opening the minds and hearts of Christ’s disciples to recognize that He is the Messiah – while not yet understanding that He is also God nor grasping that the Messiah came to die. Yet, it is important for us to realize that this is not simply about Christ’s first disciples it is about us. This passage teaches us how we should think about our fellow Christians and about ourselves.  If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you can look back on what you believed 10 years ago and be astonished at how naïve you were. Yet, we can also be surprisingly intolerant of those who hold to the errors that we held just a decade earlier.  Furthermore, none of us is close to arriving.  As the Apostle Paul plainly put it, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).” This leads to an obvious question, why doesn’t Jesus give us instant understanding now just as He frequently performed instantaneous and complete healings? A significant part of the answer is that the LORD wants us to learn to live together in our weakness where our mutual love covers a multitude of sins because we are receiving grace and love from Him. The truth is, throughout the last two thousand years, the Church has developed a pretty miserable track record in this area.  Great harm has been caused in the Church by those who refused to acknowledge that we all currently “see in a mirror dimly”. Read or sing Hymn: 54 “Hallelujah! Raise, O Raise” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 4 December 2016 Sunday, Nov 27 2016 

MVOPC 4 December 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 32 “Great Is They Faithfulness”

Confession of Sin

Most holy and merciful Father;  We acknowledge and confess before You;  Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good;  And all our shortcomings and offenses.  You alone know how often we have sinned;  In wandering from Your ways;  In wasting Your gifts;  In forgetting Your love.  But You, O Lord, have pity upon us;  Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You.  Teach us to hate our errors;  Cleanse us from our secret faults;  And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son.  And O most holy and loving Father;  Help us we beseech You;  To live in Your light and walk in Your ways;  According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 53:4-5

Hymn of Preparation:  55 “To God Be the Glory”

Old Covenant Reading: Numbers 11:1-15

New Covenant Reading: John 6:1-15

Sermon: Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Hymn of Response: 642 “Be Thou My Vision”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 32:1-21

NT: Revelation 7:9-17

The Fear of Man and the Fear of the LORD

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #71

Q. What is required in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech and behavior.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/28) Read and discuss John 6:1-15. William Hendrickson writes:

Jesus was never at a loss what to do. From the very beginning he knew just how he was going to provide. His heart was filled with love. Did this mob spoil his need for rest and quiet? Were they earthly-minded thrill seekers? Did Jesus know that they were yearning for a political Messiah, and that they would reject the true Messiah? Of course, he knew! Nevertheless, he provided bread for them, as much as they wanted. When one studies this miracle, the question occurs: which virtue shires forth most gloriously; Christ’s love or his power?

Read or sing Hymn 32 “Great Is They Faithfulness” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Tuesday (11/29) Read and discuss John 5:30-47. How does the Father bear witness to the Son? The first thing that Jesus mentions is the works – that is the miraculous signs – which the Father has given the Son to do. These signs were not subtle or hard to understand. As Nicodemus said to Jesus when he came to Him at night:

“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

The religious establishment confronting Jesus was not ignorant of these things either. Remember that their confrontation with Jesus began when he healed a man who had been lame for 38 years and gave him the ability to walk. Not only was that an astonishing miracle, it was specifically a Messianic miracle. As the Prophet Isaiah foretold regarding the Messiah:

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

The Father appointed the miracle of healing this lame man for Jesus precisely as a witness to who His Son was and is. Yet they would not believe. What about you? Do you receive the Father’s witness to Jesus or do you stand with the Jewish religious establishment who hardened their hearts against Him? Read or sing Hymn 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Please lift up the young people in our congregation and pray that they would grow in their knowledge and love of the LORD.

Wednesday (11/30) Read and discuss Numbers 11:1-15. We all struggle with contentment at different times in our lives. One of the keys to godly contentment is simply a matter of priorities. We are often discontent over the lack of short-term pleasures when God is giving us eternal riches (and using our short-term struggles for our good and His glory). Which is more important? In today’s passage we witness a continuation of startling discontentment on the part of those the LORD led out of Egypt in the Exodus. When the LORD sent Moses to deliver His people they reproached him for Pharaoh’s abusive response to Moses’ words. They complained that God had brought them out into the wilderness so that they would die there. Believe it or not, they actually complained about the food that the LORD was miraculously providing them. Their problem was not food, nor was it the wilderness, their problem was their hard carnal hearts that could not see beyond transient fleshly desires to the fact that the LORD was delivering them out of slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land. Gary North explains:

They were in a situation in which they were totally dependent on God: the wilderness. It should have been clear to them that God was sustaining them. The natural environment surely wasn’t. Yet they still complained. They though they deserved more blessings. They insisted that the blessings in Egypt had been greater than the blessings in the wilderness. But they had been slaves in Egypt. This fact they ignored. They placed liberty low on their personal scale of values; their memory of leeks and onions was high on that list. So, the absence of the leeks and onions loomed large in their consciousness. Their liberty under Moses required God’s sustaining grace, best manifested in the manna. This sign of their dependence they resented.

Their problem was not the absence of leeks and onions. Their problem was their list of priorities. A man exchanges a bit of this for more of that. God had provided them with water from rocks and manna from the ground, and this had cost them nothing: free grace. They should have responded with thanksgiving. But they could not swallow the manna contentedly because they could not enjoy the blessings of liberty under God contentedly. They placed liberty at the bottom of their list of priorities: they placed food at the top. Paul wrote of this mentality: “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things (Phil. 3:19).”

Prayer: Ask the LORD to sanctify your hopes that they would be centered on Jesus Christ and on the City whose Builder and Maker is God.

Thursday (12/1) Read and discuss Revelation 7:9-17.  Mitchell Reddish writes:

Right from the start, this is a scene of joyous celebration. John does not envision a small gathering of a select few. God has thrown a party, and the attendees are packed wall to wall! This is in stark contrast to the view expressed in another apocalyptic writing that was likely penned within 5 to 10 years of the writing of Revelation. In 2 Esdras, the writer expressed the view that the number of the saved would be very small. God has “made this world for the sake of many, but the world to come for the sake of only a few.” …. John’s vision of a God who welcomes a massive crowd of faithful servants is reminiscent of Jesus’ joy-filled parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son.

The great crowd of the faithful has joined the heavenly throng who surround the throne of God and the Lamb. They are robed in white, the color of victory, celebration, and purity. The palm branches that each person holds indicate the festive nature of this gathering, for palm branches were symbols of celebration and victory.

Read or sing Hymn 642 “Be Thou My Vision” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Friday (12/2) Read and discuss Genesis 32:1-21. Iain Duguid writes:

Do you see the message that God is trying to get across to Jacob? It is that he need not resort to slippery strategies in the face of obstacles, no matter how overwhelming they appear. Instead he should trust in the unseen forces of God. Just as God had protected him against the wrath of Laban, so he could be trusted to protect him against any threat from Esau.

That is a tough lesson for all of us to learn, I suspect. How often do you and I take account of the unseen forces that are working behind the scenes to establish God’s plans? We are easily overwhelmed by the opposition we can see, and we so easily forget the unseen hosts of the Lord. Like Elisha’s servant, we need to have our eyes opened to see past the horses and chariots of our earthly opponent to the horses and chariots of fire that are all around us (2 Kings 6:15-17). If only we really understood, with Elisha, that “those who are with us are more than those who are against us,” or to put it in the language of the apostle John, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Armed with that assurance, we would be ready to take on the world for God and to overcome. Our natural preference is to have a visible army defending us rather than an invisible one, but such is not the nature of our spiritual experience. Here we live by faith, the substance of things hope for, the assurance of things unseen (Heb. 11:1). So too must Jacob.

Prayer: Please lift up the congregational Christmas party this evening, that we would build each other up as we enjoy a time of laughter and fellowship together.

Saturday (12/3) Read and discuss John 6:1-15. William Weinrich observes:

The Gospel of John alone records the crowd’s reaction to the miracle of the feeding and the filling of the twelve baskets. The Synoptic reports give no hint of this popular response to Jesus’ sign. Robinson notes “the political and paramilitary dimensions of this messianic meal.” He wonders whether the five thousand “men” does not imply that there were only males, and he opints to the parallel in Acts 21:38, where Paul’s Greek frees him from the suspicion that he was the Egyptian who had recently started a revolt and had “led a force of four thousand assassins [the Greek used means “four thousand men who are assassins]. Be that as it may, messianic pretenders in the first century were a constant feature of the political tension between the Jews and their Roman occupiers. That the crow intended to make Jesus “king” is perhaps clarified by the report of Josephus that the country “was a prey to disorder, and the opportunity induced numbers of persons to aspire to sovereignty.” Moreover, the nearness of the feeding miracle to the Passover would have elicited nationalistic feelings associated with the hope that a second Moses would arise to free Israel from its contemporary pharaohs. It may well be that mention of “the prophet” in John 6:14 refers to the expectation that God would raise up a Moses-like prophet to usher in the messianic age (Deut 18:15-18). Moreover, it was thought that a second gift of manna would accompany the coming of the Messiah.

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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 27 November 2016 Sunday, Nov 20 2016 

MVOPC 27 November

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 34 “The God of Abraham Praise”

Confession of Sin

O You whose chosen dwelling is the heart that longs for Your presence and humbly seeks Your love:  We come to You to acknowledge and confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed;  We have not loved You with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength;   We have not even loved our neighbor as ourselves.  Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, or for the good we have left undone.  But You, O Lord, are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy;  there is forgiveness with You.  Restore to us the joy of Your salvation;  Bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills and rest to our souls.  Speak to each of us the word that we need, and let Your Word abide with us until it has wrought in us Your holy will.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 10:19-22

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

Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-19

New Covenant Reading: John 5:30-47

Sermon: Many Witnesses, One Lord

Hymn of Response: 297 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 66

NT: 1 Peter 1:3-9

Faith that Endures

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #70

Q. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/21) Read and discuss John 5:30-47. John Calvin writes:

When Christ says that Moses wrote concerning him, this needs no long proof with those who acknowledge that Christ is the end and soul of the Law … I acknowledge, indeed, that there are few in which Moses expressly mentions Christ; but what was the use of the Tabernacle, and sacrifices, and all the ceremonies, but to be figures drawn in conformity to the pattern which was showed to him on the mountain? Thus, without Christ, the whole ministry of Christ vanishes. Again, we see how he continually reminds the people of the covenant of the ancestors which had been ratified in Christ, and even how he makes Christ to be the principal subject and foundation of the covenant. Nor was this unknown to the holy ancestors, who had always their eyes fixed on the Mediator.

Read or sing Hymn 2 “O Worship the King” Prayer: Please pray for the people of Venezuela as they live through a complete collapse of their economy.

Tuesday (11/22) Read and discuss John 5:19-29. Verses 28 and 29 read:

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Our Lord is making clear that His authority over life and death does not stop at the grave. In Psalm 139 David marvels:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

Jesus is saying: That is true of Me! I am co-extensive with and perfectly aligned with My Father – because I am in fact God. I have absolute authority over life and death and the Father has entrusted all judgment to Me so that you will honor Me even as you honor Him. Read or sing Hymn 304 “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” Prayer: Give thanks to Jesus that He truly reveals the Father to us.

Wednesday (11/23) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 18:15-19. J.G. McConville writes:

The declaration that Yahweh will raise up a prophet like Moses now comes in direct contrast to the vivid picture of the practices of the other nations. The contrast is achieved by a repetition of the word ‘listen’, which thus makes a connection between vv. 9-14 and 15-19. The promise is made starkly, with the word “prophet” places in the strong initial position. The emphasis is on the prophet. It is by this means that Yahweh will speak, not by others. The immediate qualification of the prophet, as of the king, is that he shall be an Israelite (and therefore free from the taint of foreign religion). Only then is he likened to Moses.

Prayer: Pray for someone who may be struggling with being alone for the holidays.

Thursday (11/24) Read and discuss Psalm 66.  Allen P. Ross writes:

The central theological point of the psalm is that God demonstrates his sovereignty by delivering his people from the bondage of the world. For this the faithful offer their praise in the sanctuary; and because of this the faithful call on the people of the world to acknowledge the great things the LORD has done for his people. The saving acts of God for which the faithful praise are without number; but the greatest acts of deliverance such as the Exodus, stick in the mind of the people of God forever. And because these acts involve victory over other nations, those nations must acknowledge the sovereignty of the LORD. This emphasis in Psalm 66 certainly was valid for ancient Israel; but like the psalms around it there is also an eschatological element here, for the prophets anticipated that the nations would come to faith in the LORD. So today our praise for God’s greatest saving act in which he delivered us from the bondage of sin through the death of Jesus Christ (in fulfillment of the typology of the Exodus) should be presented to the world in the form of a call for them to acknowledge by faith this great Savior.

Read or sing Hymn 355 “We Are God’s People” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bless our nation with peace and a revitalization of biblical Christianity as many Americans set aside this day for giving thanks.

Friday (11/25) Read and discuss 1 Peter 1:3-9. Simon Kistemaker writes:

When we learn that our names are mentioned in a will, we know that we have a share in an inheritance described in that will. Often we do not know the value of that inheritance. We have to wait for the death of the testator and for legal transactions and financial settlements. After the period of waiting is over, however, the value of the inheritance often has diminished. Also, the distribution of the inheritance frequently causes jealousy and strife.

By contrast, our eternal inheritance is a constant source of happiness. From the moment of our salvation we are filled with joy. Granted that we possess our inheritance in principle now, we know that when we leave this earthy scene we receive our full inheritance. We are unable to comprehend the value of this inheritance, for “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Furthermore, we cherish that gift in perfect harmony with all believers in the presence of our living testator, Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to use the mailing from our Outreach Committee to bring new visitors to our church.

Saturday (11/26) Read and discuss John 5:30-47. Speaking of the people and things that witness to who Jesus is, R.C. Sproul writes:

I don’t think the last of this is heard until we go to the book of Acts, to the account of Paul’s address to the philosophers at Mars Hill in Athens. Paul declared, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Paul cited a change in historical circumstances. He said: “There was a time when God was forbearing with your pagan religion and with your ignorance. God was merciful. He was patient. He put up with this for a long time. But now He commands you to repent.” How different Paul’s approach was from modern techniques of evangelism. The one essential of modern evangelism is the invitation. Bu the apostle did not say, “but now God invites all men to repent.” Why? Because you can decline an invitation with impunity, but you cannot refuse God’s command to repent with impunity.

Paul went on to say that God commands repentance “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Paul brought up the resurrection of Christ. Do we want more testimony or evidence than that? We’re not going to get it. God said: “I’ve made it clear to the whole world that this is my only begotten Son, and the days of patience and forbearance are over. Now I command you all to come to Him because I’m going to judge the whole world through Him, and I have already proven Him to be the judge by raising Him from the dead.”

Read or sing Hymn: 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 20 November 2016 Sunday, Nov 13 2016 

MVOPC 20 November 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 2 “O Worship the King”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Ephesians 2:13-16

Hymn of Preparation:  304 “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”

Old Covenant Reading: Daniel 7:9-14

New Covenant Reading: John 5:19-29

Sermon: One Who Raises the Dead

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

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

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

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 31:17-54

NT: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Jacob’s Exodus: Part II

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #69

Q. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/14) Read and discuss John 5:19-29. Andreas Kostenberger writes:

In the present section Jesus develops further his statement of verse 17, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” In particular, Jesus defends himself against the following two charges: (1) he is a Sabbath-breaker; (2) he is blaspheming, because he claims a unique, equal relationship with God (v. 18). What is Jesus’ line of defense?

Essentially, he elaborates on the nature of his relationship with God the Father. Jesus claims that everything he (the Son) does he is able to do only because he has seen the Father do it first. This “apprenticeship analogy” may well be rooted in Jesus’ own earthly experience of learning the trade of carpentry from his adoptive father Joseph. …

Jesus thus identifies his “work” with that of his Father, that is, God. God’s work did not cease at creation, Jesus insists; he contuse to be active; and Jesus himself co-labors with his Father (5:17). Doing God’s work is Jesus’ highest priority. But how does that relate to Jesus’ healing a man on a Sabbath? The answer is this: the one who created the Sabbath has authority over it; he determines its purpose, its use, and its limitations.

Read or sing Hymn 2 “O Worship the King” Prayer: Please pray for the healing of our nation after our very divisive election.

Tuesday (11/15) Read and discuss John 5:1-18. Verse 17 reads:

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

It is helpful to know that there had been a long-running debate among the Pharisees over the question: “Does God keep the Law?” On the one hand, if the Law is holy, just, and good it would seem natural that the Lord of Glory – who is entirely Holy – would therefore keep the Law perfectly. But there was an obvious problem: If God completely rested on the Sabbath day the entire Universe would go out of existence. Every Rabbi knew that the LORD’s providential care for creation and for His people never ceased. “God was active all the time, on Sabbath days as much as on ordinary days (F.F. Bruce).” So rather than explain to the religious establishment that they were missing the whole point of the Sabbath day – something that He will do elsewhere – Jesus says:

“My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

This must have been shockingly and deeply offensive to those who heard Him. It is true that Rabbis had come up with all manner of explanations for how God could both be eternally at rest – in the eternal Sabbath, yet always working; but one thing all these explanations had in common was that they only work for God. Jesus was not claiming to be the son of God in the way that all of Israel was known as God’s Son. He was not claiming to be the son of God in the way that all the anointed kings of Israel were said to be “sons of God.” Jesus was claiming to be none other than God the Son, the eternal God come in the flesh. This would be utter blasphemy; indeed, one of the worst forms of blasphemy – for a mere man to make himself equal with God … it would be utterly blasphemy except that it is entirely true. And because it is true, instead of being blasphemy, the words of Jesus stand as part of the greatest news that has ever been told. Jesus is our Immanuel. God for us and God with us. Read or sing Hymn 304 “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” Prayer: Give thanks that, instead of remaining off at a distance, our LORD delights to dwell in the midst of His people.

Wednesday (11/16) Read and discuss Daniel 7:9-14. Andrew Steadman writes:

Daniel’s vision climaxes with the installation of the Son of Man as eternal king. The vision is essentially ended with 7:14. Therefore, at this point, it is appropriate to compare the enthronement of the son of Man in Daniel 7 with other passages in the OT that speak of the enthronement of the Messiah.

Two psalms are particularly relevant, and they follow much the same pattern as Daniel’s vision: Psalms 2 and 110. Both of these psalms speak of the decree of God concerning Messiah’s installation as King. While not every element in Daniel is present in these two psalms nor is every element in the psalms present in Daniel, these three passages present complementary pictures of the enthronement of the Messiah. Jesus explicitly connects Psalm 110 and Daniel 7 in Matthew 26:64 and Mark 14:62. …

One major variation appears in Daniel 7: the Messiah is not pictured as ruling until after the beasts are shorn of their power, whereas in these two psalms the Messiah’s reign begins the process of defeating the nations. However, the difference Is one of emphasis. The psalms wish to emphasize that the Messiah’s reign with God has already begun. Daniel, by contrast, is emphasizing the eschatological dimensions of the kingdom that that the saints will inherit.

The same two themes can be found in the NT. They correspond to the “now” but “not yet” tension that characterizes all biblical eschatology. Jesus rules already now, and his kingdom of grace is now present among his people. Yet Jesus has not yet returned in power. At some time in the future, he will come on the clouds of heaven to reign in power and glory. His people still on earth look forward to inheriting the kingdom in the future when they finally shall be delivered from all suffering and persecution.

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

Thursday (11/17) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.  John Piper writes:

The renewing of his heart comes from something very strange: it comes from looking at what he can’t see. … This is Paul’s way of not losing heart: looking at what you can’t see. What did he see? A few verses later in 2 Corinthians 5:7, he says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” This doesn’t mean that he leaps into the dark without evidence of what’s there. It means that the most precious and important realities in the world are beyond our physical senses. We “look” at these unseen things through the gospel. By the grace of God we see what Paul called “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We strengthen our hearts – we renew our courage – by fixing our gaze on the invisible, objective truth that we see in the testimony of those who saw Christ face to face.

Read or sing Hymn 355 “We Are God’s People” Prayer: Please pray for our Officer Training as the men meet tonight and Saturday morning.

Friday (11/18) Read and discuss Genesis 31:17-54. Iain Duguid writes:

Against all the odds, however, in spite of the trickery of Jacob and the trickery of Laban, they ultimately departed from one another in peace, establishing a covenant between them. The making of this covenant marks a change in their relationship. They were no longer employer and employee, patron and client, but now were two equals.

Yet there is also something uneven about the way that covenant is formulated. Laban framed it in the form of his religious understanding, swearing by the God (or gods) of Abraham and the God (or gods) of Nahor. Laban thought of these authorities as distinct and plural gods, as the plural verb form in the Hebrew shows. It seems that Laban’s gods were the gods of the way out there and the way back when. He swore, if you like, by Grandma and Grandpa’s gods, the generic gods of his culture. Jacob, however, took his oath not in the name of the gods of Abraham’s father but the God of Abraham’s son, Isaac (Gen 31:53), the God of his experience at Bethel, the God who had been watching over him the whole time (Gen. 31:42).

Perhaps this God was not yet fully the God of Jacob. Jacob’s experience of God was not yet complete. But he at least recognized him as the God who has intervened in history in a real way. He followed the God who had called Abraham to leave his country and go to the Promised Land, who had chosen Isaac to carry that promise, and who had called Jacob to bear that promised blessing and had been with him on his journey. That calling was not something to be borne lightly, nor was that relationship one of chummy equality. This God is an awesome God; hence the appropriateness of the name the Fear of Isaac. This is a God who is capable of demanding the greatest sacrifice of all, the sacrifice of a beloved only son. Jacob’s awareness of God was a far more personal experience than that of his uncle Laban.

Prayer: Please lift up the young people of our congregation.

Saturday (11/19) Read and discuss John 5:19-29. R.C. Sproul writes:

Jesus said, “the Father judges no one” (v. 22a). Please do not read this verse and conclude that there is no judgment. Jesus did not say that. He went on to explain that the Father “has committed all judgment to the Son” (v. 22b). The Father doesn’t judge because He has delegated the task of judging the world to the Son.

Sobering words follow. Jesus declared that the Father delegated the task of judging to the Son so that “all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (v. 23). Western culture tells people they can believe in anything they want to believe in, that we all worship the same God, that we can come to God by any means we choose, and that we can reject Jesus and still have the Father. No, we cannot honor the Father without honoring the Son, and the Father has appointed a day when He will judge the world by the One whom He has appointed to be the Judge, who is Christ (Acts 17:31). So those who do not honor Christ fail to honor the Judge whom God has appointed.

[What Jesus said next to the Jewish leaders must have shocked them.] He was on trial, as it were, but He said to them: “You’re talking to the judge. You’re talking to the Lord of the Sabbath. You’re talking to the One before whom you will stand in judgment. You’re talking to the One to whom the Father has given the power of life in Himself. If you won’t honor Me, you cannot honor the Father.”

Read or sing Hymn: 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 13 November 2016 Sunday, Nov 6 2016 

MVOPC 13 November 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 4 “All Praise to God Who Reigns Above”

Confession of Sin

O You whose chosen dwelling is the heart that longs for Your presence and humbly seeks Your love:  We come to You to acknowledge and confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed;  We have not loved You with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength;   We have not even loved our neighbor as ourselves.  Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, or for the good we have left undone.  But You, O Lord, are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy;  there is forgiveness with You.  Restore to us the joy of Your salvation;  Bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills and rest to our souls.  Speak to each of us the word that we need, and let Your Word abide with us until it has wrought in us Your holy will.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 106:43-45

Hymn of Preparation:  266 “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

New Covenant Reading: John 5:1-18

Sermon: The Lame Will Walk

Hymn of Response: 269 “Welcome, Happy Morning!”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 31:1-16

NT: Philippians 4:10-19

Jacob’s Exodus: Part I

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #68

Q. What is required in the sixth commandment?

A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/7) Read and discuss John 5:1-18. Johannes Brenz writes:

As Christ comes to help before the sick man made any request … so by his immense mercy he anticipates the prayers of all those laboring out of faith, acting before he hears the prayers of the faithful. As he himself testifies in Isaiah 65:24, “And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will hear; as they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Christ asks, first to invite him to make a petition; second, to teach secretly that he is the one who, when called on is able to help. Thus, in all our afflictions the LORD asks us whether we want to be liberated when he places the longing for liberation in us. And by this longing we are secretly taught that there is nothing found in our natural powers whereby we might be liberated. But we must look elsewhere, to the hand of the LORD, from whom alone every liberation and redemption is to be hoped for in faith.

Read or sing Hymn 4 “All Praise to God Who Reigns Above” Prayer: Give thanks that, though we were held captive to our own sinful desires and to the crippling consequences of sin, Jesus came to set the captives free.

Tuesday (11/8) Read and discuss John 4:43-54. Verses 53-54 read:

The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Since the father had already demonstrated faith, what does it mean that “he himself believed, and all his household.” This sentence could simply be extending the father’s belief to his whole family – as though the father’s faith hadn’t changed at all – but isn’t it natural to at least see that the father’s faith has been deepened? This is true for us as well. When we trust the LORD and we see that the LORD keeps us that deepens our faith in the future. We might also see a shift in the father’s faith. When he met with Jesus he believed that Jesus could heal his son. Then he believed that Jesus had healed his son. Now, on returning to his family with his son having been healed – perhaps we should take this last description that “he himself believed, and all his household” as a commitment and confident trust that Jesus was not merely the One who healed his son but a commitment to Jesus as his Savior and Lord. This royal official had come to recognize a new King in his life. Then, rather beautifully, we see that not only this man but his whole household believed. While most of us have loved ones who have not yet come to faith, it is a wonderful encouragement to recognize that our Lord normally works through families – calling the children of one or more believing parents “holy” – that is – “set apart” as being special to God. Read or sing Hymn 266 “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain” Prayer: Please pray for our nation as we elect a new President and many other leaders today.

Wednesday (11/9) Read and discuss Isaiah 35:1-10. In order to rightly understand this passage we have to remember Isaiah’s original call to be a prophet.  Isaiah was given an extraordinary vision of God’s glory. Isaiah responded by volunteering to be God’s messenger to proclaim the holiness of God to Israel. The LORD then commissioned Isaiah with these surprising words:

And he said, “Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing,  but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Because of their rebellion, God chose not to bring revival to Israel in Isaiah’s day.  His preaching would bear no immediate fruit. Yet, chapter thirty-five holds out the promise of a coming day when God will bring great blessings upon His people. In verses 1-2 He promises to change their environment. In verses 3-4, He says that we should comfort and encourage one another to live faithfully in the present in light of the future deliverance.  The really remarkable part comes in verse 5 where God promises He will reverse the hardheartedness of the people revealed in Isaiah’s original call. The opening of the eyes of the blind and unstopping the ears of the deaf in chapter 35 is a direct reversal of the condition of the people in Isaiah 6:9-10. This casts a great deal of light upon the miracles of Jesus. When He opens the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, He is not merely doing remarkable miracles. Jesus is doing signs that point to the fact that He is the Messiah and beginning the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesies.  The end of Christ’s work is found in verses 7-10 where all things are made new in holiness and security for God’s people. Prayer: Ask the LORD to lift the hardening in part that has happened to the Jewish people that He would reap a rich harvest amongst our Jewish neighbors as well as those living in Modern day Israel.

Thursday (11/10) Read and discuss Philippians 4:10-19.  Sometimes we view relationships in a reciprocal manner. We are nice to people who are nice to us and kind to those who can directly benefit our lives. Yet, as Christians who support the spread of the gospel we are not looking to find missionaries who can somehow pay us back or whose fame and prestige will somehow rub off on us if we are numbered among his supporters. Our goal is to spread the gospel and not to receive anything back. Nevertheless, as verses 18-20 make clear, the LORD does reward those who open their hands and hearts to support the spread of the gospel. Gordon Fee writes:

The mention of God at the end of verse 18 leads directly to Paul’s great master stroke – verse 19. The reciprocity of friendship is now back in Paul’s court. But he is in prison and cannot reciprocate directly. So he does an even better thing: Since their gift had the effect of being a sweet-smelling sacrifice, pleasing to God, Paul assures them that God, whom he deliberately designates as my God, will assume responsibility for reciprocity. Thus picking up the language of “my need” from verse 16 and “fill to the full” from verse 18, he promises them that “my God will fill up every need of yours.”

From his point of view, they obviously have the better of it! First, he promises that god’s reciprocation will cover “every need of yours,” especially their material needs, as the context demands – but also every other kind of need, as the language demands. One cannot imagine a more fitting way for this letter to conclude, in terms of Paul’s final word to them personally, In the midst of their “poverty,” God will richly supply their material needs. In their present suffering in the face of opposition, God will richly supply what is needed (steadfastness, joy, encouragement). In their need to advance in faith with one mindset, God will richly supply the grace and humility necessary for it. In the place of both “grumbling” (2:14) and “anxiety” (4:6) God will be present with them as the “God of peace.” My God, Paul says, will act for me on your behalf by “filling to the full” all your needs. Read or sing Hymn 269 “Welcome, Happy Morning!” Prayer: Please lift up the people of Syria where half of the nation has either been killed on displaced by the seemingly endless ravages of war in that land.

Friday (11/11) Read and discuss Genesis 31:1-16. Iain Duguid writes:

Of course, we can easily misread providence. Boredom and even pain do not necessarily signal the fact that God is telling us to move. Sometimes God’s plan for us is to persevere faithfully in the midst of frustration and difficulty. But in Jacob’s case, to remove any possible doubt, God spelled out his direction clearly in a dream (Gen 31:10-13). God told Jacob that it was time to pack up and go back home. It was in a dream that Jacob had first met God at Bethel (Gen. 28:12), and now that form of guidance is renewed. In addition, God also made it clear in the dream that all of Jacob’s complicated and convoluted breeding strategies in the previous chapter had availed him nothing. It was not his clever plan and hard work that had made him rich but God’s blessing. He had prospered because God, the God whom he had met at Bethel, had fulfilled the promise made to him there to be with him and to bless him. His “brilliant” plan could never have succeeded unless God had also had a plan for him.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead you more and more to treat others as you would have them treat you.

Saturday (11/12) Read and discuss John 5:1-18. N.T. Wright comments:

The shrine [the area of the pool where the man was hoping for a miraculous healing] didn’t seem particularly successful. Clearly, the man Jesus found lying there had made a way of life out of the long wait for healing. Jesus’ question to him is, perhaps, quite pointed: do you really want to get better, or are you now quite happy to eke out your days lounging around here with the feeble excuse that someone else always gets in first? The whole scene, with its legends and its pagan associations, was like the two boys playing football on a tennis court. The place spoke of the possibility of miraculous healing, of the remote chance of divine healing; but it was at best spasmodic, and at worst an idle dream.

Then along comes the one who, John has been telling us, is the true son of the true God. In a flash, he does what the pool stood for but what it hadn’t been doing very successfully. As with the official’s son in the previous paragraph, a word is all it takes, in this case a command to get up, pick up the mattress and walk. We aren’t’ even told that the man ‘believed’, but clearly he must have done or he wouldn’t have obeyed Jesus’ order. He now finds himself launched on the much harder, but much more satisfying, way of life that goes with no longer being a cripple.

As with many of the gospel stories, particularly in John, what Jesus does fulfils the hopes and longings of the Jewish world, expressed as they were in various ways, not least the great festivals (verse 1). Here, however, Jesus seems to be fulfilling the hopes and half-formed beliefs of the pagan world as well. Part of the point of the gospel is that, if ‘salvation is of the Jews’, and if Jesus is now bringing that salvation, it must spread out from the Jews to embrace the wider world. The pagan shrine points dimly to the healing that Jesus was bringing, rather as the strange game of football-in-a-tennis-court points to the gam the court was made for.

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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 6 November 2016 Sunday, Oct 30 2016 

MVOPC 6 November 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 32 “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Confession of Sin

Most holy and merciful Father;  We acknowledge and confess before You;  Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good;  And all our shortcomings and offenses.  You alone know how often we have sinned;  In wandering from Your ways;  In wasting Your gifts;  In forgetting Your love.  But You, O Lord, have pity upon us;  Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You.  Teach us to hate our errors;  Cleanse us from our secret faults;  And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son.  And O most holy and loving Father;  Help us we beseech You;  To live in Your light and walk in Your ways;  According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 2:17-18

Hymn of Preparation: 648 “My Jesus, I Love Thee”

Old Covenant Reading: Numbers 14:1-19

New Covenant Reading: John 4:43-54

Sermon: An Official Meets the King

Hymn of Response: 402 “Abide With Me”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 261 “What Wondrous Love is This?”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 30:25-43

NT: Ephesians 6:10-20

Prosperity Without Security

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #67

Q. Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/31) Read and discuss John 4:43-54. N.T. Wright comments:

John tells us that this is the second ‘sign’ that Jesus did [in Galilee], and from now on he leaves us to do our own counting. But what was the proper response? Why did Jesus do signs if he didn’t want people to follow him for the wrong reasons?

The proper response was the one he got from the official in verses 50 and 53. The man believed the word which Jesus spoke to him. The fact that he set off home, without insisting that Jesus come with him from Cana, up in the hills, to Capernaum, down by the lake, is a clear indication that his faith didn’t happen because he saw miracles, but because he heard Jesus’ word. When the word was confirmed by the actual healing, taking place at the same moment but at a distance, he and his whole family believed. The word Jesus had spoken had become flesh.

The distinction between believing because we’ve seen something and believing on the strength of Jesus’ words remains important throughout the gospel. It reaches its final dramatic statement in Jesus’ gentle rebuke to Thomas in 20:29: ‘Have you believed because you’ve seen? Blessed are those who haven’t seen, and yet believe!’

Read or sing Hymn 32 “Great is Thy Faithfulness” Prayer: Lift up the parents of the many young children in our congregation and ask that the LORD would grant them wisdom and joy in their parenting.

Tuesday (11/1) Read and discuss John 4:27-42. With our Lord’s words ringing in their ears, the Disciples lift their eyes to see a stream of Samaritans coming out to meet with Jesus. Then we are told in verse 39:

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”

I find that both utterly remarkable and profoundly encouraging. If I was telling this story, I wouldn’t have had any of the Samaritans actually believing until they personally heard from Jesus. Sure, the woman would have filled the important role of inviting them to meet with Jesus – but genuine faith would come from His testimony rather than hers. But I am not writing the story of history, God is. And our loving heavenly Father brought some of these Samaritans to faith simply because of the woman’s testimony. … I think the LORD did that to encourage us as we too bear witness to Jesus Christ. … He is saying: “I used her. I will use you too!” Read or sing Hymn 648 “My Jesus, I Love Thee” Prayer: Ask the LORD to open up opportunities for you to share the gospel, invite someone to church, or simply to offer an encouraging word in Jesus’ name this week.

Wednesday (11/2) Read and discuss Numbers 14:1-19. Gerard Van Groningen writes:

Moses’ meekness is demonstrated once again. He does not respond to the LORD’s alternate plan which would give him an exalted name and position. Moses recognizes that the Egyptians will be quick to proclaim that the LORD of the Israelites was not able to keep his covenant with them by bringing them to the land of blessing and peace. Thus opportunity would be given to the vanquished Egyptians to proclaim the superiority of their gods and nation Moses also displays an all-consuming passion for the LORD’s name and honor. He pleads for a continued demonstration of the LORD’s power – not by bringing death and destruction but by forgiving the sins and pardoning the guilt of the people. Moses knows that the LORD has the capacity to do this; he has done so before. At that time the virtues of the LORD were proclaimed – patience, abiding love, grace to forgive, holiness, and justice. Indeed, the LORD demonstrated all of these in sparing an iniquitous and rebellious people. Moses concludes his intercession on behalf of the people by asking God, in accordance with his great love, to forgive the people. Moses bases his intercession on the character of God, on the covenant promises God has given his people, on the wondrous deeds performed in the past on behalf of his people, on his own love for and devotion to the LORD, and on his deep concern for the people. Moses is a true type of the covenant mediator.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to grant mercy to our nation.

Thursday (11/3) Read and discuss Ephesians 6:10-20.  We are in a battle. That is inescapable. The only question is whether we will go into the battle naked or equipped by God for victory. Paul reminds us that this battle is a spiritual battle. That is something our own generation particularly needs to be reminded about. If we imagine that the battle is primarily on the material plane, we will wrongly assume that we can win the battle through better planning or with a larger budget – in short, that we can be victorious in our own strength. In today’s passage, Paul brings his letter to the Ephesians to a climax with a resounding shout: “The battle belongs to the LORD!” Yet, the LORD fights this battle in part by arming His people. One interesting aspect of this armor from God is that He has only given us one offensive weapon – the word of God. Furthermore, that weapon is ultimately wielded, not by us, by the Holy Spirit (v. 17). The only other way Christians have for going on the offensive is through prayer which is actually a matter of calling upon God to win the battle for us. That’s it. According to the Apostle Paul, the Church advances through the word of God and through prayer. There are two primary ways in which local churches lose sight of this truth. First, many churches imagine that the church will advance on the strength of their planning or creativity, but that reduces the hope of victory to the limits of our own human abilities. Second, some churches which recognize that the battle belongs to the LORD become passive as though that truth implied they weren’t supposed to be doing anything. By contrast, today’s passage reminds us that true faith lays hold of God’s promises and appropriates the means that He has given us for being victorious. Let us, therefore, be both confident in Christ’s victory and faithful in putting on the full armor of God that in the day of battle the LORD would cause us to stand. Read or sing Hymn 402 “Abide With Me” Prayer: Please lift up the Northern and Southern Bible Studies as they meet tonight (Northern) and tomorrow (Southern).

Friday (11/4) Read and discuss Genesis 30:25-43. Iain Duguid writes:

The Golden Rule comes in two forms. The Christian version runs like this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The secular version goes like this: “Do unto others whatever they have done to you, only double.” Or, to put it more concisely, “Don’t get mad, get even” That’s why these days, when you get fired from a job, the security guard comes and watches while you clear out your desk and then escorts you out of the building. They are afraid you might do something they would regret, like programming a bug into the corporate computer system, or worse, deliberately breaking the coffee machine. It’s dangerous to rip off your employees too much, to push them too far. That’s especially true if you’ve employed someone like Jacob. Here we see another classic if unedifying conflict between deceiver and deceiver with Laban and Jacob seeking to outdo the other.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead you more and more to treat others as you would have them treat you.

Saturday (11/5) Read and discuss John 4:43-54. F.F. Bruce writes:

[The Gospel according to John] emphasizes that the place where Jesus first manifested his glory on what was in any case a joyful occasion (John 2:1-11) was now to witness a further manifestation of that glory in a time of desperate need. On the former occasion old life was transformed into new life; on this occasion life is snatched back from the brink of death.

The Greek word translated ‘nobleman’ is an adjective derived from [the word for ‘king’]. Most probably we should envisage this man as attached to the entourage of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee who was popularly called ‘king’, although the Roman Emperor withheld the full royal title from him. … It is less likely that the man was attached to the service of the emperor, who was also called ‘king’ by his Greek-speaking subjects; Galilee was not at this time part of the imperial province. … There is nothing to suggest that this man was a Gentile, as was the centurion of Matt. 8:5-13 and Luke 7:2-10, whose ‘servant’ or ‘slave’ was cured on one occasion when Jesus was in Capernaum.

News of Jesus’ wonderful ‘signs’ in Jerusalem had been spread throughout Galilee by the pilgrims returning from the recent Passover. Jesus’ arrival in Galilee – just in time, as it seemed – must have been eagerly grasped by the anxious father as the last hope for his sick son

Read or sing Hymn: 261 “What Wondrous Love is This?” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 30 October 2016 Sunday, Oct 23 2016 

MVOPC 30 October 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 2 “O Worship the King”

Confession of Sin

Most holy and merciful Father;  We acknowledge and confess before You;  Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good;  And all our shortcomings and offenses.  You alone know how often we have sinned;  In wandering from Your ways;  In wasting Your gifts;  In forgetting Your love.  But You, O Lord, have pity upon us;  Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You.  Teach us to hate our errors;  Cleanse us from our secret faults;  And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son.  And O most holy and loving Father;  Help us we beseech You;  To live in Your light and walk in Your ways;  According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 1:18

Hymn of Preparation: 49 “More Love to Thee, O Christ”

Old Covenant Reading: Amos 9:11-15

New Covenant Reading: John 4:27-42

Sermon: Christ the Great Evangelist

Hymn of Response: 646 “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 30:1-24

NT: Colossians 1:15-23

“God Has Taken Away My Reproach”

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #66

Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/24) Read and discuss John 4:27-42. F.F. Bruce writes:

But for the woman’s witness her fellow townsfolk would never have come to know Jesus; but they could not rely on her witness alone: They must know him for themselves. Second hand acquaintance with Christ or hearsay belief in him cannot be a substitute for personal knowledge and saving faith. Now they were able to prove for themselves that all she sad about him was true. He was not only the prophet like Moses, but also the Savior of the world. This title appears twice in the Johannine writing (the other instance being 1 John 4:14); it is in line with the statement of John 3:17, that God sent his Son into the world ‘in order that the world might be saved through him.’ The use of the title in this context suggests that the Samaritan mission represents the first outreaching of Jesus’ grace beyond the confines of Judaism. The same pattern is repeated in the apostolic history, in conformity with Jesus’ own direction: ‘you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).

Read or sing Hymn 2 “O Worship the King” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has called you to participate in the ongoing mission to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Tuesday (10/25) Read and discuss 2 John 7-13. “Look before you leap!” But, of course, “He who hesitates is lost.” Both of these proverbs are good advice. The challenge comes in knowing when to apply each one of them. As Christians we face a similar problem in how to deal with people who are teaching bad doctrine. On the one hand we know that doctrine is important. On the other hand, we want to be loving. Doesn’t this mean that we should welcome anyone and everyone into our fellowship? Regretfully, this is not a challenge that was overcome once and for all in the first century church.  Throughout history, Bible believing Christians have bent over backwards to be charitable to false teachers only to find that they have infected our institutions and even taken over administrative control of our churches. Given this historical pattern, we should not assume that the solution will be easy. Nevertheless, it is in principle clear. First, we should note that John is talking about false teachers. He is not talking about confused individuals who enter our congregations but are willing to be taught. Most Christians begin with really bad theology. Not only is that o.k. it is normal. Second, John is not talking about people who have different views (even clearly wrong views) from us on minor issues.  He is dealing with false teachers who are denying the Incarnation (that Jesus is God who has come in the flesh). Third, if we confront such teachers (and we inevitably will), we are to do the loving thing as God defines the loving thing: That is, “we are to walk according to His commandments (v. 6). The key hurdle to overcome is the tendency for such people to want to pass themselves off as Christians. According to John, such individuals are false teachers and antichrists.  If we remember that, we will be far less tempted to want to become partakers with them in their evil deeds. Read or sing Hymn 49 “More Love to Thee, O Christ” Prayer:

Wednesday (10/26) Read and discuss Amos 9:11-15. Gary Smith writes:

The coming day of hope is set somewhere in the unknown future [i.e. “unknown” to the first people who heard Amos]. It points to that ideal day when the LORD will take direct control of the people’s destiny and graciously act on their behalf. In a series of first-person unconditional promises, God announces: “I will restore/raise p David’s fallen tent/booth.” … The consequences of this Davidic revival will impact other nations so that they may gain inclusion into the future kingdom (9:12). The reference to the “remnant of Edom” may stem from Uzziah’s restoration of parts of Edom to Judean control during the time of Amos. The final rebuilt empire will not only include the remaining portion of Edom but many other nations that God will control (these are the people who will be called by his name). If they go by God’s name, they are part of his possession and his people. Amos here foresees the conversion of many Gentile people groups to God, an insight that helped the New Testament church decide to include Gentile converts into their fellowship in Acts 15.

Prayer: Please Pray for Missionary Mark Richline as he meets with our congregation this evening to share what the LORD is doing in Uruguay.

Thursday (10/27) Read and discuss Colossians 1:15-23. Are you a servant of the gospel? The degree to which we can answer that question with a resounding YES depends largely on how well we understand the greatness of that good news. It would be a mistake to think that Paul is merely trying to convince the Colossians that Christ is preeminent in simply abstract terms. As we read this text we notice that Paul begins with the concrete reality of Christ’s preeminence over all creation and over all human and spiritual powers (16-17). Then, in verse 18, Paul begins by saying that Christ is the head of the church. Does it surprise you that the Apostle transitions in mid-sentence from the church to speaking of Christ’s resurrection from the dead? This is the central (and often overlooked) point. Just as Christ is the head over creation He is also head over re-creation which flows from Christ being raised from the dead. The surprising thing about Christ’s resurrection isn’t that it happened. Anyone who believed in the Old Testament would believe that God would raise both the righteous and unrighteous up on the last day. At that time, the LORD would usher in the age to come. The astonishing thing about Christ’s resurrection isn’t that it happened, but that it happened in the middle of history. The age to come has already crashed into this world and those who trust in Jesus partake (in part) of that age right now. We, who were alienated from God both in our thinking and in our actions, have been reconciled “in the body of His flesh through death.” Now, because God has given Christ to be the Head of the church, we already share in the new creation which He inaugurated through His resurrection – looking forward to the day when we too will be raised incorruptible. The good news isn’t simply that God has rescued some of humanity from hell. It is better than that. The good news is that Christ is making all things wonderfully new. He is re-creating the present world to be even more than what Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden, and He has entrusted to us the gospel by which He reconciles fallen men to Himself. Paul became a servant of this good news. What about you? Read or Sing Hymn 257 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted”. Read or sing Hymn 646 “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts” Prayer: Please ask that the LORD would bring visitors to our congregation who would benefit by uniting with our congregation and whose gifts would be a blessing to our local church.

Friday (10/28) Read and discuss Genesis 30:1-24. Bruce Waltke writes:

Embedded in this agonizing story of people’s emptiness and self-inflicted pain is God’s gracious gift of hope. These people have half-lives, blocked by sorrow, hostility, and competition. Leah has children but not the love of her husband; Rachel, the love of her husband but no children. Roop offers, “To those caught in half a life, the Bible offers not reproach or platitudes but God’s remembering. To those longing for love or stagnated by a sterile world, the faith offers not blame or jargon but on who has come that we might have a full life (John 10:10). … Some folks, maybe all, will find themselves living in a situation which blocks them from reaching the fullness of life. They know the anguish of Leah and the hostility of Rachel. Ministry, like the Bible, takes that agony utterly seriously even while offering a word of hope.”

Prayer: Please pray for the work of our congregation’s outreach committee.

Saturday (10/29) Read and discuss John 4:27-42. Andreas Kostenberger writes:

As with Nicodemus, but much more explicitly, Jesus, in reaching out to the Samaritan, serves as the paradigmatic “sent one” shoes activity his followers are called to emulate. This is made [clear] in the skillfully interposed section John 4:27-38, where Jesus instructs the disciples about his mission of bringing in a harvest of souls and of reaping he fruit of the labor of others. It is also implicit throughout Jesus’ entire conversation with the woman as the Messiah is revealed: as the one who expresses God’s love to a sinful woman (see 3:16), as the one who came to seek and save that which is lost (see Luke 19:10), and, significantly, as “the Savior,” not only of the Jewish people, but “of the world” at large (John 4:42, the punch line of the mission theme, which culminates in the commissioning scene in 20:21-22 but is proleptically foreshadowed already here and elsewhere earlier in the gospel.

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

Sunday, Oct 16 2016 

MVOPC 23 October 2016 – Rev. Dr. Gregory Reynolds Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 67 “Not unto Us, O Lord of Heaven”

Confession of Sin

O You whose chosen dwelling is the heart that longs for Your presence and humbly seeks Your love:  We come to You to acknowledge and confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed;  We have not loved You with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength;   We have not even loved our neighbor as ourselves.  Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, or for the good we have left undone.  But You, O Lord, are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy;  there is forgiveness with You.  Restore to us the joy of Your salvation;  Bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills and rest to our souls.  Speak to each of us the word that we need, and let Your Word abide with us until it has wrought in us Your holy will.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 130:7-8

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

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 115:1-18

New Covenant Reading: Revelation 19:1-10

Sermon: Adore Your Creator, Not His Works

Hymn of Response: 110 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah”

Confession of Faith:    Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 728 “Hear Our Prayer, O Lord”

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 29:1-35

NT: Romans 2:25-29

She Named Him “Judah”

Adult Sunday School: Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #65.

Q. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/17) Read and discuss Revelation 19:1-10. Dennis Johnson writes:

With the kingdom comes the wedding. With the destruction of the harlot comes the presentation of the bride. John’s vision of the bride will not occur until Revelation 21:9; but, as the harlot was first mentioned in 14:8 and then revealed in 17:1, so the bride is announce before her entrance. The heavenly celebration is not primarily backward looking, exulting over fallen enemies; it is forward looking, anticipating the consummation of love between God’s people and the Lamb, their bridegroom. The bride’s identification as symbolic of God’s faithful followers is seen from the start in the “fine linen, bright and clean” that is given her as her wedding dress. This pure linen is reminiscent of the white robes given the martyrs as they await their vindication (6:11) and celebrate their salvation (7:9, 13-14). It pictures “the righteous acts of the saints,” accomplished through faith in the Lamb, in faithfulness to the Lamb (19:8). Such “righteous acts,” if referring to the believers’ obedient actions and pursuit of spiritual purity, are not our personal achievement. This fine linen wedding garment is given to the bride by her Groom, as the background in Isaiah 61:10 makes clear:

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,

My soul will exult in my God;

For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,

He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,

As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Read or sing Hymn 67 “Not unto Us, O Lord of Heaven” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD clothes us with the garments of salvation.

Tuesday (10/18) Read and discuss John 4:1-26. Why does Jesus go to Samaria? Geographically, Judea is in the South, Galilee is in the north, with Samaria smack dab in between them. So it could seem like there was a geographically necessity for Jesus to travel through Samaria. But even as we read the New Testament we discover that Jesus made the trip back and forth between Galilee and Judea without passing through Samaria. The Jewish people so despised the Samaritans that many Jews made the trip by crossing over to the other side of the Jordan. It was a longer journey than going through Samaria, but many Jews would travel from Jerusalem down to Jericho. They would cross over to the other side of the Jordan and travel north in the Transjordan region and then cross back over the Jordan into Galilee.

Knowing this fact throws a fascinating bit of color on our understanding of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus begins the Parable by saying:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.

Where was the man going? He was going to Jericho. Many of Christ’s hearers would have assumed that the man was taking the Transjordan route north precisely out of an effort to avoid the Samaritans. This makes that fact that it was a Samaritan who acted like a good neighbor towards him even more surprising.

In any case, there was no geographic necessity for Jesus to go through Samaria – so what was the “necessity” that led Him there? I suspect that it was a necessity of mission. Jesus was bringing the good news that the Kingdom of God was at hand to Samaria, … both to bring salvation to some of the people there, and also to prepare for the later mission of His Apostles. You will recall that when the Gospel moves beyond the Jewish people it first moves to the Samaritans. Acts chapter 8 recounts how the first non-Jewish church was established in Samaria – but remember from today’s passage that Jesus had already prepared the way for that mission. Read or sing Hymn 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make us eager to cross social and cultural barriers in order to share the love of Jesus.

Wednesday (10/19) Read and discuss Psalm 115:1-18. Commenting on verse 3a, “Our God is in heaven”, John Calvin writes:

The faithful, when they place God in heaven, do not confine him to a certain locality, nor set limits to his infinite essence, but they deny the limitation of his power, its being shut up to human instrumentality only, or its being subject to fate or fortune. In short, they put the universe under his control; and, being superior to every obstruction, he does freely everything that may seem good to him. This truth is still more plainly asserted in the subsequent clause; he does whatever pleases him. God, then, may be said to dwell in heaven, as the world is subject to his will, and nothing can prevent him from accomplishing his purpose.

That God can do whatsoever he pleases is a doctrine of great importance, provided it be truly and legitimately applied. If we would derive advantage from this doctrine, we must attend to the import of God’s doing whatsoever he pleases in heaven and on the earth. And, first, god has all power for the preservation of his Church, and for providing for her welfare; and, secondly, all creatures are under his control, and therefore nothing can prevent him from accomplishing all his purposes. However much, then, the faithful may find themselves cut off from all means of subsistence and safety, they ought nevertheless to take courage from the fact, that God is not only superior to all impediments, but that he can render them subservient to the advancement of his own designs. This, too, must also be borne in mind, that all events are the result of God’s appointment alone, and that nothing happens by chance. This much it was proper to premise respecting the use of this doctrine, that we may be prevented from forming unworthy conceptions of the glory of God, as men of wild imaginations are wont to do. Adopting this principle, we ought not to be ashamed frankly to acknowledge that God, by his eternal counsel, manages all things in such a manner, that nothing can be done but by his will and appointment.

Prayer: Rejoice that the God who rules heaven and earth has become your Father in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday (10/20) Read and discuss Romans 2:25-29. C. Marvin Pate writes:

Three theological truths from Romans 2:25-29 impress the reader. First, there is no room in this text or elsewhere in Paul’s letters for the “two-covenant theory,” which teaches that Jews are, and continue to be, saved by practicing the law, while Gentiles are saved by faith in Christ. Paul surely argues in 2:25-29, as he will throughout Romans, that there is only one covenant relationship with God, and it is based exclusively on faith in Jesus Christ. The new covenant in Christ has permanently replaced the old covenant, whose stipulations is the law of Moses. Second, faith in Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit fulfill the requirements for which the Torah was first given. Paul will confirm this statement in Romans 8:4; 10:4, and he will specify what he means by “requirements of the law” (2:26) in Romans 13:8-10: loving one’s neighbor and loving God supremely. Third, the new covenant has been instituted by Christ. The Old Testament promise to Israel of the coming restoration and new covenant has now been fulfilled in Christ.

Read or sing Hymn 110 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Island Pond Baptist Church in Hampstead, NH as they look for a new pastor.

Friday (10/21) Read and discuss Genesis 29:1-35. Iain Duguid writes:

The world that Jacob was entering would test his abilities [at manipulation]. His uncle Laban was a picture of worldly shrewdness and unscrupulousness, his match in every way. There’s a lesson here for us. Sometimes we’re tempted to abandon the way of faith because it seems unlikely to work. It appears to us that honesty is not the best policy. So we turn instead to human strategy and manipulation. But if you take on the world at its own game, you’ll almost invariably be outdone. There are plenty of Uncle Labans out there.

What is more, even if you do prevail though your ingenious schemes, as Jacob does in the end, the result is never shalom, harmony and peace in all your relationships, but bitter strife, enmity, and soured relationships with those around you. How many people have sought to win the world, in the world’s way, and have won – yet have paid a high price in broken and soured relationships with those closest to them? Honesty may not always be the best policy, as a policy, but dishonesty is always a miserable policy, even when it succeeds.

Prayer: Please lift up the Fall Stated Meeting of our Presbytery as it meets today and tomorrow.

Saturday (10/15) Read and discuss Revelation 19:1-10. Louis Brighton writes:

The directive of the angel to “worship only God” is placed between the mention of those “who have the witness of Jesus” and the statement that “the witness of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” The double mention of “witness” in this context suggests that the saints on earth, God’s slaves, worship God by being witnesses of Jesus to the world. This brings to mind what Jesus said to the disciples in Luke 24:44-48: the mess of the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Writings of the OT was fulfilled in his death and resurrection, and in his name the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations, for the disciples were “witnesses of those things.”

Read or sing Hymn: 728 “Hear Our Prayer, O Lord” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 16 October 2016 Sunday, Oct 9 2016 

MVOPC 16 October 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 12 “Exalt the LORD, His Praise Proclaim”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 10:16-18

Hymn of Preparation:  310 “Rejoice the Lord is King”

Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 47:1-9

New Covenant Reading: John 4:1-26

Sermon: Living Water, True Worship

Hymn of Response: 642 “Be Thou My Vision”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 689 “Be Still My Soul”

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 137

NT: 1 Peter 1:1-9

An Already, Anticipated Reward

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School Today

Shorter Catechism Q/A #64

Q. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors or equals.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/10) Read and discuss John 4:1-26. Gary Burge writes:

Jesus’ conversation with the woman of Samaria is striking on several counts. First, the enmity between Jew and Samaritan is well established (see Luke 10:29-37) and stands behind the woman’s words in 4:9. Moreover, few Jewish rabbis would initiate open conversations with women as Jesus does. Nevertheless, Jesus does so and the ensuing dialogue harmonizes with the theological developments we have seen thus far: Jesus overturns the sanctity of an important religious institution. In this case, it is the sacred well of Jacob. At Cana, Jerusalem, the Jordan, and here, water serves a symbolic role depicting the older institution which needs the messianic gift of Christ. As water became wine (2:9) so now well water will be replaced by living water. John’s baptism must be replaced by that of Jesus (3:30; 4:1). What is this gift that makes all else obsolete? It is the eschatological Spirit promised by Jesus (3:5). This is what will bring power to John’s baptism. The same is true in Samaria. John’s only other reference to living water is in 7:38-39 where it is defined as the Spirit. The Spirit is explicitly emphasizes even as the dialogue develops (4:23-24).

Read or sing Hymn 12 “Exalt the LORD, His Praise Proclaim” Prayer: Please pray for Joyce’s father and brother.

Tuesday (10/11) Read and discuss John 3:22-36. John the Baptist had burst on the scene and become a really big deal. Even Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian would later write about John’s ministry. Huge crowds were going out to hear him preach and to be baptized by John, and those around him – who were loyal to him – wanted to see his ministry grow and grow. But John says in verse 30:

He must increase. I must decrease.

What about you? Leon Morris says it well:

It is not particularly easy in this world to gather followers about one for a serious purpose. But when they have been gathered it is infinitely harder to detach them and firmly insist that they go after another. It is the measure of John’s greatness that he did just that. Jesus, he says, “must” become greater. It is not merely advisable, nor is it the way events might happen to turn out. There is a compelling divine necessity behind the expression.

This is the third of three great “must” statements in this chapter, and I think that they belong together. At the beginning of the chapter Jesus tells Nicodemus:

You must be born again.

Then, in verse 14 Jesus says:

[Just] as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Now John the Baptist declares:

He must increase. I must decrease.

Do you see how those three necessities go together? The chapter begins with our need for new life. We must be born again. Then Jesus tells us the necessary condition for us to receive new life from above – the Son of man must be crucified. When we consider our desperate need and Christ’s life-giving death together, then John the Baptist’s words naturally follow. “He must increase. I must decrease.” Living as though the purpose of the world is to glorify you or to glorify me is to fundamentally misunderstand the human condition and God’s gracious action to save the world through Jesus Christ. History is not about you … nor is it about me. It is about Him. Read or sing Hymn 310 “Rejoice the Lord is King” Prayer: Please pray for our Session as it meets this evening.

Wednesday (10/12) Read and discuss Ezekiel 47:1-9. Iain Duguid writes:

The image of a life-giving stream flowing from the sanctuary is ubiquitous in the Scriptures, from the opening chapters of Genesis (Gen 2:10-14) to the closing chapter of Revelation. Revelation 22 features a river similar in many respects to that of Ezekiel 47, which flows from the throne of God and the Lamb out to nourish the (single) tree of life, whose fruit appears every month and whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:1-2). The motif is also attested in mythological literature from the ancient Near East. Yet because of the frequent use of this motif, it would be easy to overlook what is distinctive about Ezekiel’s use.

The most striking aspect of Ezekiel’s river is that, unlike the other rivers of life, it starts out as an insignificant trickle and only ends up as a thunderous torrent after a distance. This is something that no upheaval in the topography of Palestine can accomplish literally. What is more, it is precisely this growth from insignificant beginnings that the prophet is instructed to observe. In the language of his later colleague, the lesson is that he should not despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10). Though the work of God starts out in tiny, seemingly insignificant ways, it will ultimately accomplish God’s goals with unstoppable power. In a similar way the tiny mustard seed, to which Jesus likened the kingdom of God, grows to become a might tree (Matthew 13:31).

Prayer: Give thanks that though the growth of the Kingdom of God rarely appears dramatic, in the power of God it is unstoppable.

Thursday (10/13) Read and discuss Psalm 137. Today’s passage is both a sad and a violent psalm that mediates on the persecution and suffering of God’s people who are in exile. Willem Van Gemeren writes:

Lament and sorrow focus on the profound love for Zion, which is not separate from love for God. For the exiles, love for God and for Jerusalem were intertwined because of the Temple. Though the Temple was in ruins, the godly community, possibly remembering Solomon’s prayer for those in exile (1 Kings 8:48-49), focused its attention on Jerusalem.

Loyalty lies in remembering (v. 1) instead of forgetting (v. 5). The godly could not forget Jerusalem and everything it stood for – covenant, temple, the presence and kingship of God, atonement, forgiveness, and reconciliation. They vowed never to forget God’s promises and to persevere while waiting for the moment of redemption. As part of the vow, the godly took on themselves a formula of self-cursing: “may my right hand wither” and “may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth.”

Read or sing Hymn 642 “Be Thou My Vision” Prayer: Please lift up the Officer training of our congregation as groups meet tonight and on Saturday morning.

Friday (10/14) Read and discuss 1 Peter 1:1-9. Commenting on verses 8-9, Simon Kistemaker writes:

What is joy? Joy is not only an emotional outburst that lasts momentarily. It is not simply a response to external circumstances that favor and encourage expression of joy. Joy often appears in the midst of hardship, suffering, trials, and persecutions. Joy is a gift that we receive from God, for Scripture shows that God is the giver of joy (see Ps. 16:11; John 16:24; Rom 15:13). This gift, then, comes to the believer who puts his complete trust in God.

Joy is a gift that must be shared with others. The shepherd who finds his sheep and the women who finds her coin share their joy with neighbors, while the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:4-10). In Scripture, joy is often related to God’s almighty acts of saving man. As a result, man expresses his joy by loving God and by obeying his commands (see especially John 15:9-11). And last, joy is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

Prayer: Ask the LORD to increase the joy our congregation experiences in celebrating His gospel.

Saturday (10/15) Read and discuss John 4:1-26. William Hendricksen writes:

In order to prevent a premature crisis Jesus left Judea for Galilee. He had to go through Samaria. He reached Sychar, located in this province, and sat down, weary and thirsty at Jacob’s Spring or Well. Here he engaged in a conversation with an immoral Samaritan woman. He asked her for a drink, spoke to her about the living water which he himself was able to supply, told her that this living water would not only quench thirst but would even prevent its recurrence, revealed to her the secrets of her own immoral life, showed her the character of true worship, and finally disclosed himself to her as the Messiah.

The woman’s heart rebelled against the disclosure of her sinful sate and she tried to change the subject. It seems at first as if the woman is in control of the conversation and as if the Lord allows himself to be sidetracked. However, without realizing it, the woman is being led to the goal established by the Lord himself.

Is this woman, in her attempt to evade the real issue, a symbol of the sinner as he is by nature? Is the manner in which Christ addresses her an example for us to follow in working with the lost?

This section shows a progressive series of surprises. Little by little Jesus reveals who he is; and in complete correspondence with this gradually ascending self-disclosure, the woman’s confession also advances, so that she sees in the stranger first a Jew; then, a prophet, finally the Christ.

Read or sing Hymn: 689 “Be Still My Soul” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 9 October 2016 Sunday, Oct 2 2016 

MVOPC 9 October 2016

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 1 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”

Confession of Sin

O You whose chosen dwelling is the heart that longs for Your presence and humbly seeks Your love:  We come to You to acknowledge and confess that we have sinned in thought and word and deed;  We have not loved You with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength;   We have not even loved our neighbor as ourselves.  Deepen within us our sorrow for the wrong we have done, or for the good we have left undone.  But You, O Lord, are full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy;  there is forgiveness with You.  Restore to us the joy of Your salvation;  Bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills and rest to our souls.  Speak to each of us the word that we need, and let Your Word abide with us until it has wrought in us Your holy will.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Jeremiah 31:31-34

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

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5

New Covenant Reading: John 3:22-36

Sermon: The Great Divide

Hymn of Response: 644 “May the Mind of Christ My Savior”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Til He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 28:10-22

NT: John 1:43-51

The Stairway From Heaven

Adult Sunday School: The Larger Catechism

Shorter Catechism Q/A #63:

Q. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/3) Read and discuss John 3:22-36. R.C. Sproul writes:

John concluded with a series of joyous affirmations: “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” The whole of Scripture speaks to us of the love of God for His people, but so often we fix our attention on God’s love for us that we forget that the ground of that love is the love that the Father has from eternity for His Son. Remember, we’re not the natural children of God. We’re the adopted children of God, and even our election must always be understood to be in the Son.

It is because of the Father’s love for the Son that we can stand forgiven before the throne of God, delivered from wrath unto everlasting life. It is because of the love of the Father for the son that we are invited to partake one day of the marriage feast of the Lamb. We are invited not simply as friends of the Bridegroom or as friends of the bride – we are the bride. Christ our Savior has set His love upon us and betrothed us to himself. He who died for us will come again someday to receive us to Himself. Then we will rejoice with Him in the final increase of his exaltation.

Read or sing Hymn 1 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” Prayer: Please lift our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH.

Tuesday (10/4) Read and discuss John 3:16-21. Today’s passage is so much better good news than the way it is commonly misunderstood. The popular understanding of this passage is that it teaches God loves everyone in the world without distinction. Now the LORD does sometimes show kindness to everyone without distinction. For example, he makes the sun to shine on both the just and the unjust – but that is not what today’s passage is teaching. If we misread today’s passage to be teaching that God loves everyone without distinction than we have to recognize that this sort of love doesn’t actually do anything for us. All the people who go to hell and suffer the wrath of God are loved, at least according to this misunderstanding of today’s passage, in exactly the same way as those who ultimately go to heaven. To make matters worse, many people who hold and teach this misunderstanding frequently take the next step and say: “If God loves everyone in the world without distinction; and God sent His Son into the world for the people He loves; than Jesus must have died for everyone without distinction.” You probably realize that such a view flies in the face of the plain teaching of Jesus who says that He lays down His life for His sheep – not for the sheep and the goats without distinction – but for His sheep; … but let’s stick with just John 3:16-21. If this passage is teaching that Jesus dies for everyone without distinction what does that mean for us? For one thing it means that Jesus dying for you doesn’t actually save you – since He would have died for everyone who suffers eternal punishment in hell too. When the Apostle Paul speaks of his own justification in Galatians 2:20 – he punctuates the personal application of the good news by saying: “the Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.” This is something that I pray each and every one of you will be able to say. But please note: On the popular misunderstanding of John 3:16 which wrongly believes it to be teaching that God loves everyone without distinction and therefore Jesus died for everyone without distinction that Paul’s words would be empty of all their force. Someone who truly held to this misunderstanding would be forced to say: “Paul: What are you getting so excited about. Jesus loves and died for everyone who goes to hell too. Why are you acting like the Son of God loving you and dying for you gives you assurance of salvation?” Thankfully, that is not what today’s passage is teaching. Almighty God is not simply off at a great distance having warm and fuzzy thoughts about the world. Because God loves His creation, and Has sovereignly set His love on you, Almighty God has decisively acted to rescue you out of the kingdom of darkness to bring you into the kingdom of His beloved Son. God’s love for the world leads Him to send His Son into the world to save sinners. And when Jesus comes into the world to die for your sins – He doesn’t just make salvation possible. He died to make salvation actual. Read or sing Hymn 521 “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” Prayer: Give thanks for the amazing love of God towards you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday (10/5) Read and discuss Isaiah 62:1-5. Commenting on verse 4, R. Reed Lessing writes:

The names “Abandoned” and “Desolation” indicate that Zion’s past has been that of a shamed promiscuous woman. Isaiah also accents that Zion has been left by Yahweh, her Husband, because she played the prostitute. Her new names, “My Delight Is in Her” and “Married,” represent marital reconciliation. Zion is no longer defined by her past. She is once again loved by her Lover, and this has nothing to do with her looks, wit, or charm. The relationship is based solely upon Yahweh’s grace, his own choice to delight in His bride, and His fervent love. When we feel abandoned and forsaken Yahweh invites us to ponder these promises. How could our loving Bridegroom ever give up on us who are baptized members of His church (Eph 5:25-27), His blood-bought bride? Would a husband ever hate his own body (Eph 5:28-32)?

Prayer: Please lift up the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States

Thursday (10/6) Read and discuss John 1:43-51. John Calvin writes:

When Nathanael calls him king of Israel, though his kingdom extends to the remotest bounds of the earth, the confession is limited to the measure of faith. For he had not yet advanced o far as to know that Christ was appointed to be king over the whole world, or rather, that from every quarter would be collected the children of Abraham, so that the whole world would be the Israel of God. We to whom the wide extent of Christ’s kingdom has been revealed ought to go beyond those narrow limits. Yet following the example Nathanael, let us exercise our faith in hearing the word, and let us strengthen it by all the means that are in our power; and let it not remain buried but break out into confession.

Read or sing Hymn 644 “May the Mind of Christ My Savior” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our Church family.

Friday (10/7) Read and discuss Genesis 28:10-22. Iain Duguid writes:

Meanwhile, the sun was setting on Jacob, and he found a place to stop for the night (Gen 28:11). The setting of the sun is not merely an incidental detail in the story. This detail vividly depicts Jacob’s situation: night had caught up with him. The sun would not rise from him, from the perspective of the narrative, until Genesis 32. At that time, on his return from exile, he would have another dramatic encounter with God, only this time while the sun was coming up at the fords of the Jabbok. In the meantime, he would have to endure the long, dark night of exile from the land.

Nonetheless these two encounters with God, which bracket his time away from the Promised Land, graciously demonstrate God’s enduring presence with him in the long night in between. What an encouragement this is to those who have spent years wandering in the wilderness. Even Jacob’s sins could not separate him from the loving presence of God, nor could they prevent him ultimately from inheriting what God had promised. The grace of God would ultimately triumph in his life. Though his sins had serious and lasting consequences, the promise would ultimately be fulfilled because of God’s faithfulness, in spite of Jacob’s unfaithfulness.

Prayer: Please pray for our Sunday school teachers and for the young people in our congregation as they grow together in their understanding of our precious faith.

Saturday (10/8) Read and discuss John 3:22-36. Heinrich Bullinger writes:

[It is as if John is saying:] “He who is not the bridegroom, but a friend of the bridegroom and a wedding assistant, does not envy the bridegroom’s happiness and does not snatch away the bride for himself, but rather he rejoices because the bridegroom and bride have entered into marriage. Standing by, he rejoices secretly in his heart because he hears the labor which he took to make the marriage happen has had a happy result, and that the bride brought to the bridegroom is enjoying pleasant and sweet conversation and company with her bridegroom. In the same way, because I am a forerunner of Christ. I am like a wedding assistant eagerly desiring for him to unite the people of God to himself by the covenant and bond of marriage. I do not envy his great glory, and I do not want to snatch away people from him. But again and again I rejoice with all my heart that have lived to see this day. For I see with my own eyes that my preaching has had a happy result and that all people are quickly running to Christ, the one to whom I have passionately invited all people with all my preaching and with my whole ministry, inasmuch as he is the most generous and inexhaustible source of grace. This great joy of mine, I say, is complete.

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

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