Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 26 November 2017 Saturday, Nov 18 2017 

26 November 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

Opening Hymn: 94 “How Firm a Foundation”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 106:43-45

Hymn of Preparation:  498 “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 3:1-8

New Covenant Reading: John 16:23-33

Sermon: Ask and You Will Receive

Hymn of Response: 629 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship

OT: Obadiah 1-10

NT: Luke 12:13-21

The Humiliation of Esau

Shorter Catechism Q/A #1

Q. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/20) Read and discuss John 16:23-33. Leon Morris writes:

Several times in this discourse Jesus has emphasized the importance of prayer, and here he comes back to it again. He is not talking about the way they have prayed or the way they understood prayer at this point in time. He looks forward to the future with his “In that day …” (v. 26). He has already given teaching about prayer in his name and his words now make it clear that it is this kind of prayer that is to continue. For Christians prayer must always be in the name of Jesus. It is because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done that prayer is the mighty weapon it is for believers.

But we should be clear about what this means and what it does not mean. It certainly does not mean that the Father is reluctant to listen to the prayers of people like us and is grudgingly persuaded to do so because Jesus asks him. Prayer “in the name” does indeed bring to the fore all that Jesus is and does for sinners, but that being and that doing are fully in accordance with all that the Father is and does. Since God was in Christ in the work of reconciling the world to himself, to plead the name of Christ is to plead the work that God has done in Christ.

And Jesus goes on, “the Father loves you himself” (v. 27). The Greek puts emphasis on “himself”; it is none less than the Father, it is the Father himself who loves you. It is not some angel who is near to God and can speak for you, not some great human dignitary who you think is nearer to God than you and will have some influence on your behalf. No. It is God himself who loves you, and that is the great central truth that you must never forget.

Read or sing Hymn 94 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that you have free access to the throne room of heaven because of what God has done for you in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday (11/21) Read and discuss Genesis 4:1-16. James Montgomery Boice writes:

Cain did not allow himself to be mastered by God and so became enslaved to the devil. Sin had its way with him, and he became the first murderer. What a murderer he became! If we were to speak in modern legal terminology, we would not be able to claim that Cain was guilty only of negligent homicide or second-degree murder – murder in the first degree, “murder one.” Cain plotted Abel’s slaughter and then pulled it off. He said, “Let’s go out to the field” (v. 8). Then, when they were in the field out of sight of others, “Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”

But Cain was not out of the sight of God. God sees everything, and God saw Cain. He said to him, “Where is your brother, Abel?”

Cain replied, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Think how evil this reply is. It contains the first lie and the first human question in the Bible. The lie was Cain’s denial that he knew his brother’s whereabouts. He knew perfectly well. But so greatly had sin mastered him at this point that he not only lied; he lied to God, no doubt thinking that he could get away with it. How greatly sin had worked in less than one generation! It is true that Adam and Eve had tried to shift the blame when God had confronted them with their sin on the occasion of the fall. But they did not lie; they told the truth even though they were trying to escape from under it. But now Cain lies, and the lie is to God.

Second, he asks a question – the first human question in the Bible – and this is even worse than the lie. So hard is his heart that he now suggests that his brother, whom he killed, is not his responsibility. If something has happened to Abel, it is his own fault. In this world of dog-eat-dog, it is every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.

These are hard words to read. Indeed, I think that it is impossible to face the darkness of man’s fall squarely until we have apprehended the grace of God in Christ Jesus. The remarkable thing is that man’s rebellion against the LORD keeps being met both by judgment and grace. When Adam and Eve rebel, the LORD does not execute the death penalty immediately. Instead, the LORD makes clothes of leather for them – implying He killed an animal in their place. The LORD than goes on to promise that the Seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. Now, when Cain murders his brother and lies to God’s face about it, the LORD delays the death penalty once again and even puts a mark on Cain to protect him from being murdered in turn.  Once we understand this amazing grace we can face the evils of this world head on knowing that God will not allow evil to have the last word. Read or Sing Hymn: 498 “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!” Prayer: Knowing that the LORD will not allow the darkness to prevail, ask that He would make you a more effective witness as salt and light in your daily life.

Wednesday (11/22) Read and discuss Psalm 3:1-8. James Montgomery Boice writes:

When a believer gazes too long at his enemies, the force arrayed against him seems to grow in size until it appears to be overwhelming. But when he turns his thoughts to God, God is seen in his true, great stature, and the enemies shrink to manageable proportions.

This principle was illustrated by the difference between the ten and the two spies when they were first sent into Canaan at the time of the Jewish conquest. Ten of the spies were overwhelmed with the strength and stature of the Canaanites, especially the descendants of Anak, where were giants. They said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are. … All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them. The other two spies, Caleb and Joshua, said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

What was the difference? Had they seen different things? No. The land was the same. Both groups had seen the giants. But the ten looked only at the giants and forgot about God, with the result that they seemed in their own eyes to shrink to the size of grasshoppers. The two kept their eyes on God, and for them it was the giants who appeared small.

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

Thursday (11/23) Read and discuss Luke 12:13-21. The passage begins with a man shouting out from the crowd asking Jesus to tell his brother to share the inheritance with him. We don’t know what transpired between this man and his brother. Perhaps his brother was ripping him off and keeping the inheritance to himself. It is certainly possible that a dispute could arise in your own family over how to divide up the goods from your parents’ estate. How should you act in a situation like that? William Hendrickson writes:

Let us say that, in connection with an inheritance, you received “a bum deal.” The trouble is that you make so much fuss about it that it begins to look as if all your happiness depends upon the solution, in your favor, of this injustice. You are not putting first things first. Better examine yourself and repent.

It is instructive that Jesus does not try to resolve the dispute. Instead he warns the man (and us!) about the dangers of covetousness. Although this parable is well known, even by many unbelievers, the reality is that many Americans do live as though life largely consisted of accumulating more possessions. Don’t be one of them! Read or sing Hymn 629 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you generous with the resources that He pours into your hands.

Friday (11/24) Read and discuss Obadiah 1-10. What’s worse than having someone attack you? One thing that is worse is having someone who should be standing up for you cheering your oppressor on. That is what Edom did with Israel. When Israel came out of Egypt in the Exodus, Edom refused to let them pass through their land. Then when Israel was brought into the Babylonian captivity, their neighbor Edom cheered on the Babylonians – urging them to totally destroy Jerusalem. Psalm 137 captures the emotion of those days in verse 7. The people of God cry out:

Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites

                        the day of Jerusalem,

        how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,

                        down to its foundations!”

Well, the LORD did remember and the book of Obadiah records the destruction that the LORD would bring against Edom for the wrong they did against Israel. Then, starting in verse 15, Obadiah expands the vision of judgment to include all the nations who oppose the LORD and His people. How should we read Obadiah and apply its message to our lives? The key is starting with the right point of view. While Obadiah is written about Edom it is written to and for the people of God who are suffering in the Babylonian exile. Regretfully, many teachers and preachers have mistakenly adopted a moralistic approach to Obadiah where they point out all the things Edom was doing wrong. That is, they have treated Obadiah as though it were fundamentally a book of law. But that is mistaken. Obadiah is gospel. It is not a book about how Edom should have behaved differently but about how the LORD vindicates His people and establishes His Kingdom. Here is the key point to keep reminding yourself of as you read and re-read this short but powerful book: The destruction of God’s enemies is the salvation of God’s people. Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD is committed to vindicating His people completely.

Saturday (11/25) Read and discuss John 16:23-33. Edward Klink writes:

Jesus explains that his mediation will facilitate a real and personal relationship between God and the children of God. The love of God for the world (3:16) has been personalized …The love of God is not abstract or theoretical but relational and inviting. Our life in God is the result of God’s originating love, a love that propelled him to send his Son to the cross. God is love, and his love is expressed to us, through us, and from us. God is the great lover, the epitome of love, the most willing to express love, and the most worthy recipient of love. All human love starts and begins with God, and our life of love must find its ultimate grounding in the love of God.

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

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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 19 November 2017 Sunday, Nov 12 2017 

19 November 2017 Rev. Allen Harris Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 10:19-23

Hymn of Preparation:  363 “We Gather Together”

Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 8:11-20

New Covenant: Romans 1:16-25

Sermon: The Root of Our Sins: Ingratitude

Hymn of Response: 56 “When All Your Mercies, O My God”

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

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

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 118:1-4, 19-24

NT: Colossians 3:1-17

The Root and Fruit of Thanksgiving

Shorter Catechism Q/A #1

Q. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/13) Read and discuss Romans 1:16-25. James Montgomery Boice writes:

Why is ingratitude so dangerous? Because it is based upon a willful unawareness of the most basic facts about God and upon our lack of a proper relationship to Him. In other words, it is because of the very problem about which Paul is teaching.

Romans 1:18-20 teaches that the existence of God is abundantly disclosed in nature. This means, of course, not merely that God exists but also that all we are, see, and have has been brought into being by him. He is the Creator of everything. So if we have life, it is from God. If we have health, it is from God. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the friends we share – everything good is from God. If we fail to be grateful for this, it is because we are not really acknowledging him or are rejecting a proper relationship to him. Someone may say, “But we sometimes experience bad things, too. We suffer pain and hunger. We get sick. Eventually we die.” But even here we show our ingratitude. For we deny the fact that if we got what we deserve, we would all be in hell, sinners that we are. Our very existence, as sinners, should cause us to praise God not only for His sovereignty, holiness, omniscience, and all the other attributes I have mentioned, but for His abundant mercy, too. But we are not conscious of this. So we erect a great mass of ingratitude upon our earlier sins of suppressing the truth and refusing God worship.

Guinness refers to Romans 1:21 as a sober reminder that “rebellion against God does not begin with the clenched fist of atheism but with the self-satisfied heart of the one for whom ‘thank you’ is redundant.

Read or sing Hymn 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render” Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you a grateful heart and lips that are quick to thank Him.

Read and discuss Read Galatians 1:11-24. The Christians in Syria and Cilicia weren’t glorifying God because Paul was so good but because he was so bad. Paul was a trophy to God’s grace and a personal demonstration of the power of God to save even the chief of sinners. Remember that before his conversion Paul was wreaking havoc on the Church. Paul was dragging women as well as men off to prison and he had consented to the stoning of Stephen. Christians would have looked at the pre-converted Saul of Tarsus in manner similar to the way we might look at a leader of ISIS today. Surely if there was any contemporary who was beyond hope it was Saul. … but God … but God in His mercy personally stopped Saul in his tracks and made him a trophy to His grace. When we grasp this, we will understand more clearly understand why Luther described evangelism as nothing more than one beggar telling another beggar where he found food. Evangelism is not about our being such wonderful vessels of Gods grace that the packaging makes you want to sample what’s inside. We are but earthen vessels. Evangelisms flows from our being such surprising objects of and recipients of God’s grace. When we grasp that we like Paul are trophies to God’s grace precisely because we are so undeserving, our outreach to unbelievers will sound less like “Come join us, we have it all figured out” and more like:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I’m found, twas blind but now I see.

We sing that. In fact, it is the world’s most popular hymn. Let’s live this week as though we believed it. Read or sing Hymn 363 “We Gather Together” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD saved a wretch like you!

Wednesday (11/15) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 8:11-20. Gary Edward Schnittjer writes:

The problem with financial prosperity is not the prosperity itself. The peril is in forgetting – failing to place present prosperity in its rightful perspective. The story of the successful life cannot begin with “the success” itself. The rightful and necessary worldview, especially under the threat of affluence, is placing life within God’s story. The opposite of beginning with the spiritual narrative is conceit.

This is true today and it was true at the time of the Exodus. Moses told the people of the great prosperity they would enjoy in verses 7 through 10:

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

Moses then gave the people the clear warnings we read in today’s Scripture reading. Yet, instead of maintaining grateful hearts towards the LORD, the people turned their backs upon Him. Let us remember that these things were written down for our instruction that we would not repeat their terrible faithlessness which began with ingratitude. Prayer: Think about some specific things or people whom the LORD has blessed you with in the past few days – and give thanks for them.

Thursday (11/16) Read and discuss Psalm 118:1-4, 19-24. Commenting on verses 1 through 4, Matthew Henry writes:

It appears here, as often as elsewhere, that David had his heart full of the goodness of God. He loved to think of it, loved to speak of it, and was very solicitous that God might have the praise of it and others the comfort of it. The more our hearts are impressed with a sense of God’s goodness the more they will be enlarged in all manner of obedience. In these verses, he celebrates God’s mercy in general, and calls upon others to acknowledge it, from their own experience of it: O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is not only good in himself, but good to you, and his mercy endures forever, not only in the everlasting fountain, God himself, but in the never-failing streams of that mercy, which shall run parallel with the longest line of eternity, and in the chosen vessels of mercy, who will be everlasting monuments of it. Israel, and the house of Aaron, and all that fear God, were called upon to trust in God; here they are called upon to confess that his mercy endures forever, and so to encourage themselves to trust in him. Priests and people, Jews and proselytes, must all own God’s goodness, and all join in the same thankful song; if they can say no more, let them say this for him, that his mercy endures forever, that they have had experience of it all their days, and confide in it for good things that shall last forever. The praises and thanksgivings of all that truly fear the Lord shall be as pleasing to him as those of the house of Israel or the house of Aaron. He preserves an account of God’s gracious dealings with him in particular, which he communicates to others, that they might thence fetch both songs of praise and supports of faith, and both ways God would have the glory. David had, in his time, waded through a great deal of difficulty, which gave him great experience of God’s goodness. Let us therefore observe here,1. The great distress and danger that he had been in, which he reflects upon for the magnifying of God’s goodness to him in his present advancement. There are many who, when they are lifted up, care not for hearing or speaking of their former depressions; but David takes all occasions to remember his own low estate.

Read or sing Hymn 56 “When All Your Mercies, O My God” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has rescued you from a life of sin and dissipation and delivered you into the kingdom of His beloved Son.

Friday (11/17) Read and discuss Colossians 3:1-17. With today’s passage, the tone of Paul’s writing noticeably shifts. It will help us get more out of the rest of the letter if we understand why this is so and, also, where Paul is taking us. Dick Lucas points us in the right direction:

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

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

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

Saturday (11/18) Read and discuss Romans 1:16-25. R.C. Sproul writes:

The truth that every human being suppresses is the truth of God, what God reveals of Himself in nature to the whole human race. This is not the truth of God that we learn through the Bible. We suppress that too, but here Paul is writing of a truth that is known about God apart from the Bible, a knowledge of God hat God makes manifest. The Greek word is phoneros, which means “to show plainly.” We use the term phenomenon, which is derived from that Greek word. The Latin text translates it as manifestum. The knowledge God gives of Himself is not obscure. It is not buried with hidden clues that only an intellectual, elite group of people are able to discover after a painful and tedious search of sifting through the evidence. The truth God gives of himself is manifest. It is clear – so plain that everybody gets it.

It is clear because God Himself is the teacher, and we cannot say that the student did not learn because the Teacher did not teach. That would impugn the ability and integrity of the Almighty. He shows it to everybody. The Greek word agnosis means “without knowledge.” The agnostic portrays himself as a less militant form of atheist. The atheist boldly declares that there is no god, but the agnostic says, “I don’t know if there is a God. I’m agnosis; I am without sufficient knowledge to make a firm judgment on this matter.”

Agnostics think they are not as militant as atheists, but they do not realize their agnosticism exposes them to greater risk for the wrath of God than if they were militant atheists. Not only do they refuse to acknowledge that God who reveals Himself plainly; but they blame God for their situation, saying He has not given them sufficient evidence.

Read or sing Hymn 98 “Now Thank We All Our God” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 12 November 2017 Sunday, Nov 5 2017 

12 November 2017 – Rev. John Shaw Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 300 “Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 2:17-18

Hymn of Preparation:  59 “Forever Settled in the Heavens”

Old Covenant Reading: Joshua 1:1-18

New Covenant Reading: Acts 1:1-11

Sermon: Marching Orders

Hymn of Response: 348 “Jesus, with Thy Church Abide”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 469 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

PM Worship

OT: Psalm 51:1-19

NT: 1 John 1:5-9

Crying Out for Mercy

Shorter Catechism Q/A #13

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (11/6) Read and discuss Joshua 1:1-18. Adolf L. Harstad writes:

The first words of the LORD to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead,” focus on the transition of leadership for Israel. The LORD here speaks to Joshua as he spoke to the former leader, Moses (though not “mouth to mouth” and visibly as with Moses), implying that Joshua, whom Moses had commissioned at the LORD’s command, is now in charge. The LORD’s words begin to reveal to Joshua that while Moses’ body lies in the ground, no promise lies buried with him. Joshua will be his new agent of fulfillment. The death of a leader does not mean that the LORD has abandoned his pledges to Israel – or to the church. That is true even at the death of Moses, the incomparable mediator of the Sinai covenant, the model for all prophets and a type of Christ. God’s entire Word is “living and active.” His promises are longstanding and still standing! Even at the passing of the only national leader Israel had even known, no pledge falls to the ground dead.

Read or sing Hymn 300 “Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power” Prayer: Pray for those in positions of authority over you that they would be faithful to LORD as they work for the good of the people they lead.

Tuesday (11/7) Read and discuss John 16:12-22. The LORD has given us an exceedingly precious gift by giving us His word in the Bible – which we enjoy through accurate translations in our own languages. Nevertheless, our joy does not come simply from the fact that we possess a perfect book. Our joy comes from the fact that this perfect God breathed book reveals Jesus to us. In verses 14 and 15 Jesus says of the Holy Spirit:

He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Christ’s promise to His Disciples that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth doesn’t mean that Jesus was stage 2 in the program and the Holy Spirit will take them to stage 3. The Holy Spirit doesn’t move us beyond Jesus. Jesus is the fullest and final revelation of God. We hear this truth in the opening words of Hebrews:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Jesus is God’s final word. We can see this if we simply look in both directions from today’s passage. If we look back to John chapter 14 verse 26 we will remember how the Holy Spirit would guide the Disciples into all truth by reminding them of everything that Jesus had taught them. If we look forward, we can see in the New Testament – particularly in the book of Revelation – that the Holy Spirit will teach the Apostles things which Jesus hadn’t explicitly taught them. But what is the book of Revelation? It is a book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. That is, Revelation doesn’t move beyond Jesus it instead focuses on exalting the person and work of Jesus. That is what the Holy Spirit does for the Church. The Bible is a sure foundation for joy – but Jesus is the object, source, and sustainer of that joy – for our Savior is the final and fullest revelation of God. Read or sing Hymn 59 “Forever Settled in the Heavens” Prayer: Please pray for the Session as it meets this evening.

Wednesday (11/8) Read and discuss Acts 1:1-11. It is difficult to answer questions that are based on wrong presuppositions. If someone were to ask you: “Have you stopped cheating on your taxes?” You probably wouldn’t simply answer “yes” or “no”, you would take the time to explain that you have never cheated on your taxes. The question that the disciples ask Jesus in verse 6 is based upon a complex mix of misunderstandings and this prevents Jesus from simply giving them a yes or no answer. Right up until Christ’s crucifixion they had thought that the coming of kingdom would primarily be about God powerfully crushing Israel’s enemies. Now that Christ had dramatically risen from the dead and had told His disciples that they were about to be baptized with the Holy Spirit they turned once again to imagining that the consummation of history must be at hand. “Is it now?” they ask. Jesus reorients them by declaring that their responsibility is not to figure out the prophesy charts, their (and our!) responsibility is to be faithful as witnesses. As R.C. Sproul points out:

The mission of the church, the reason we exist, is to bear witness to the present reign and rule of Christ, who is at the right hand of God. If we try to do it in our own power, we will fail. The reason for the outpouring of the Spirit is not to make us feel spiritual. It is not to give us a spiritual high. It is so that we can do the job that Jesus gave the church to do.

There is also a helpful reorientation for the Apostles in Christ’s response. Apparently, they continued to think of the earthly Jerusalem as being the center of the Kingdom of God. Yet, the headquarters for the Kingdom would not be in Jerusalem nor in the Vatican but in heaven where Jesus would be enthroned at the right hand of His Father. Furthermore, echoing the Great Commission, Jesus reminds the Apostles that He is sending them out. The news about the person and work of Christ would not only be declared in Jerusalem and nearby Samaria – but even to the ends of the earth. This truth is an important point of introduction for the book of Acts as a whole. To use the title of a book by F.F. Bruce, Acts is the story of “The Spreading Flame”. Read or sing Hymn 348 “Jesus, with Thy Church Abide” Prayer: Please pray for the nation of Japan, which is one of the least reached countries on the face of the earth, that the gospel would take root and spread amongst the Japanese people.

Thursday (11/9) Read and discuss 1 John 1:5-9. Karen Jobes writes:

Readers today need to hear [what this passage says] about the reality of sin. There is in modern society a rationalization about sin that prevents even the word from being used beyond the walls of the church, for sin implies a moral responsibility to God. Wrong behavior is attributed to bad parenting, genetic propensities, or a lack of adequate education, or it is embraced to affirm a perceived entitlement of individuals to define moral principles for themselves. The claim that there is a God and a that violation of his moral standard is sin invites harsh social disapproval in a culture that no longer believes in absolute truth and sees any such claim as a wrongful and arrogant assertion of power.

Furthermore, it is increasingly difficult to define sin in a society where what is legal is not necessarily ethical and moral by God’s standards. Collectively, modern mankind has said, “We have no sin,” and “We have not sinned.” Unfortunately, many preachers and churches have bent under that social pressure and largely avoid the “s” word. This will no doubt continue to be one of the greatest challenges to the church’s proclamation of the gospel in the years ahead. This denial of sin by society, even with the complicity of the church, is itself sin. Tod deny sin is to call God a liar, for God has declared his moral standard and has paid dearly for our sin by sending Jesus Christ to die as our atonement. What serious business is it to deny sin in any of the many ways we humans, starting with Adam and Eve, have found to do it!

Read or sing Hymn 80 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Give thanks to and for the Holy Spirit.

Friday (11/3) Read and discuss Psalm 51:1-19. Allen P. Ross writes:

We, like the psalmist, can and must have complete cleansing before we can fully and freely serve God in any capacity. Our eternal destiny may not be in doubt when we sin, and neither was David’s because he appealed to that covenant relationship, but our fellowship and service will be. God will not tolerate unconfessed sin, but will discipline for it. And if we harbor unconfessed sin in our lives, we cannot teach sinners about forgiveness, we cannot praise God, we cannot come to his table, and we will not have the joy that we knew when we were walking with the LORD. We may still try to do these things without finding forgiveness, but it will be hypocrisy, and therefore not accepted or blessed by God.

Prayer: As the LORD to grant you a tender heart that would be quick to fully repent of sins as soon as you are convicted over them.

Saturday (11/4) Read and discuss Joshua 1:1-18. Commenting on verse 5, Adolf L. Harstad writes:

God never intended that we be without the supporting presence of other human beings or basic material things. But the final answer to insecurity, loneliness, depression, and materialism derives from the promise of this verse – the pledge of the LORD’s own gracious continuing presence. “If God seems distant, it is not he who has moved,” as the saying rightly has it. Moving away from God’s Word and Sacrament will always cause us to regard God as distant, because that is where he has promised to be graciously present. The promise of his presence to Joshua therefore comes in close connection with his exhortation to meditate on his Word, which soon follows in Josh 1:7-8.

Read or sing Hymn 469 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 5 November 2017 Sunday, Oct 29 2017 

5 November 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 32 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 1:18

Hymn of Preparation:  699 “Like a River Glorious”

Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 31:1-14

New Covenant Reading: John 16:12-22

Sermon: Your Hearts Will Rejoice

Hymn of Response: 708 “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”

Confession of Faith:    Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 49:29-50:26

NT: 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Not the End of the Story

Shorter Catechism Q/A #12

Q. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/30) Read and discuss John 16:12-22. Leon Morris writes:

The anguish of a woman in labor is very real. But when the child is born that is another matter. It is not that what caused the pain has been removed from the scene and replaced by something different that causes only joy. It is one and the same thing that caused first the pain, then the joy.

This is an unusual use of the illustration of childbirth. Elsewhere it is used to bring out something of the suddenness and the inevitability of the second coming, or it may be used to emphasize the thought of pain. Sometimes the thought comes pretty close to that of resurrection after deep trouble; which may be held to be something of a foreshadowing of the deliverance that God would in due course accomplish in Jesus.

But nothing quite approaches the thought of the present passage. Here we have the thought that the very thing that is the cause of the pain is also in due course the source of the joy. Jesus emphasizes the thought of the joy by saying that when the childbirth is brought to its consummation the woman “no longer remembers the anguish.” It is not that she forgets all that she has been through. Rather, it is that the present joy of the birth of a child is the thing that matters.

Read or sing Hymn 32 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Prayer: Please lift up the men and women of the U.S. Congress in prayer.

Tuesday (10/31) Read and discuss John 16:1-11. Do you see how what the Holy Spirit is going to do with the world is tremendously good news for us? To get this we need to remember that Christ’s purpose for your life is not that you would be perpetually comfortable and amused. God has called us in Christ into His very own mission to reconcile the world to Himself as we bear witness to Jesus Christ. That is what we read at the very end of the last chapter. Look back to chapter 15 verses 26 and 27 with me. Jesus says:

 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

Our mission is to bear witness to Jesus and today’s passage explains why that mission will be a success. The reason why today’s passage is such good news to us, is because we are not being sent out to bear witness to Jesus in our own power. As we bear witness to who Jesus is and what He has done – the Holy Spirit comes and convicts the world concerning sin, and judgment, and righteousness. That is, God Himself will make His words on our lips effective for the reasons He has sent it. The Holy Spirit does not come as an enormous down pillow that you can wrap yourself up in to drown all your sorrows. … The Holy Spirit comes with power to make your witness to Jesus Christ effective. You look around at your classmates in school, at your co-workers, or just at the evening news – and you could easily think: “I am just one person and there is no way that I can make much of an impact for the Kingdom of God in the world the way that it is.” You would be utterly correct in thinking like this if the outcome depended on your strength or cleverness. Think back to Zechariah chapter 4. The Babylonian Exile had ended, but only 50,000 Jews made the initial journey back to the Promised Land. Most of them had grown comfortable in Babylon – and the poor Governor of Jerusalem – a man by the name of Zerubbabel – had the unenviable task of rebuilding the city and seeing to it that the Temple would be rebuilt. Everywhere he looked, Zerubbabel saw problems – real problems – and he lacked the resource and strength to overcome them. Undoubtedly there are times when you feel the same way when you are trying to make a difference for Jesus Christ in your own lives. Do you remember what the LORD said to Zerubbabel? The LORD said:

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”

Don’t you see that the LORD is saying the very same thing to us? He is saying: “I know that you can’t convict the world of sin, and of judgment, and of righteousness – but I can … and I will. I am sending My Holy Spirit to be with you for this very purpose. Read or sing Hymn 699 “Like a River Glorious” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you more aware of opportunities to tell people about Jesus and to grant you the confidence to speak up.

Wednesday (11/1) Read and discuss Jeremiah 31:1-14. Terrance Fretheim writes:

In a remarkably inclusive texts (v. 13), the young and the old will rejoice, and young women and young men shall dance and make merry. The God who turned their joy into mourning now turns their mourning into joy; the God who turned their gladness into sorrow now turns their sorrow into gladness. God will comfort sorrowing Israel; in effect reversing the earlier command not to comfort (16:7). In v. 15 readers will encounter a mother who refuses to be comforted, but God will speak comfort to her (vv. 16-20). The herds and the flocks will be so plentiful that the priests will have no worries about their livelihood (v. 14). Generally speaking, the people of God will be sated with the bounty of the LORD.

Read or sing Hymn 708 “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” Prayer: Give thanks that where sin abounded, God’s grace towards His people abounded all the more.

Thursday (11/2) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 15:12-28. First Corinthians contains a lengthy section where Paul is simply going point by point correcting errors in doctrine or practice that he has heard exist within the Church at Corinth.  The problem is quite straightforward.  Some members of the Corinthian church were denying the resurrection (v. 12).  It is helpful to remember that Corinth is a city in Greece and most of the congregation would have absorbed parts of the Greek philosophical tradition without even thinking about it.  One strikingly anti-Biblical aspect of much Greek philosophy is that it denigrated the physical in favor of the spiritual.  Some Greeks actually referred to the human body as a tomb that was encasing and holding down the person’s spirit.  The ultimate goal in such a worldview was to become liberated from this tomb as a disembodied spirit. Paul engages the Corinthians with a simple argument. If there is no resurrection of the body è then Christ wasn’t bodily raised either (v. 16).  According to verses 17-19, what are the consequences for believers if Christ has not been raised? The surprising thing, given the Biblical emphasis on the bodily resurrection of both Christ and believers, is that the resurrection has frequently been marginalized in Christian thinking.  In our own day it is still common to hear Christians speak about souls being saved instead of people being saved.  Furthermore, if you ask many Christians for their view of life after death – they rarely get past heaven.  But as Bishop N.T. Wright likes to put it, “Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.” Here is a glorious truth: Christ is not rescuing disembodied souls from a sinking ship as though the material creation wasn’t good. The victory of Jesus Christ over Satan, sin, and death on behalf of His people includes the promised redemption of all creation.  As Paul says elsewhere, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-23)”.  The twin pledges we have for this sure hope are that (1) Christ has already been bodily raised and glorified in history; and (2) God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of the redemption to come. Prayer: Please pray for our young children that they would all embrace the glorious truth that Christ has been raised for our justification and even now sits enthroned at the Father’s right hand.

Friday (11/3) Friday (10/20) Read and discuss Genesis 49:29-50:26. The poet, John Donne, writes about the good death of the believer:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Iain Duguid reflects on how Donne’s grasp of the temporary nature of death for the believer fits with today’s passage from Genesis. He writes:

At the end of Hollywood movies, the heroes ride off into the sunset. At the end of biblical stories the heroes die. The difference is not incidental. Hollywood has nothing better to offer than living happily ever after, glossing over the fact that no one lives forever. The biblical heroes, on the other hand, are men and women of faith, looking for a city that is not of this world. For them, a good death is a fitting end to a good life, not merely an unpleasant and unfortunate reality. Yes, death is the last enemy, but it is an enemy whose power is limited and who can be overcome, as John Donne so beautifully reflects in his sonnet. A good death is not a contradiction in terms, and this passage in the book of Genesis is about two good deaths, those of Jacob and Joseph. Yet this story is not simply about death; it is more precisely about death and burial. There is more to death than dying. Jacob and Joseph did not merely die well in the sense of dying comfortably at a good old age, surrounded by loving caregivers. They died well in the sense of dying in faith, knowing that their death was not the end of the real story of their lives. For Jacob and Joseph, the end of their life on earth as merely the closing page of one volume that leads on into a new and better sequel.

Prayer: Please lift up those in our congregation who are suffering with physical ailments and illness.

Saturday (11/4) Read and discuss John 16:12-22. N.T. Wright comments:

Jesus’ disciples are about to be plunged into a short, sharp and intensely painful period that will be alike a moment of birth. Jesus will be taken away; but they will see him again. ‘Not long from now, they won’t see him; not long after that, they will see him again.’ His death and resurrection are the necessary events that will lead to his ‘going to the father’ and his ‘sending of the spirit.’ These are extraordinary, cataclysmic events, the like of which the world has never seen before. The disciples can hardly prepare properly for them; but Jesus wants to warn them anyway.

It’s all happening because, with Jesus’ death and resurrection, a new world – the new world – is indeed being born. That is what John wants us to grasp. This isn’t just a matter of Jesus saying, ‘there’s trouble coming, but it will be all right afterwards.’ It’s a matter of seeing that when we find ourselves, a few chapters from now, at the foot of the cross, and then when we find ourselves after that with Mary Magdalene in the Easter garden, we shouldn’t miss the significance of these events. They are not merely strange, shocking and even unique. They are the visible sign that God’s new world really is coming to birth.

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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 29 October 2017 Sunday, Oct 22 2017 

29 October 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

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

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 130:7-8

Hymn of Preparation:  580 “Lead On, O King Eternal”

Old Covenant Reading: Nahum 1:1-15

New Covenant Reading: John 16:1-11

Sermon: The Spirit and the World

Hymn of Response: 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!”

Confession of Faith:  Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!

PM Worship

OT: Genesis 49:29-50:26

NT: 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Not the End of the Story

Shorter Catechism Q/A #11

Q. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/23) Read and discuss John 16:1-11. R.C. Sproul writes:

The first time I really grasped the implications of this text, I literally began to dance in the street and jump over fire hydrants. I said: “Eureka! I can’t believe it! All this time I have felt like Abraham, living in the Old Testament, looking forward to the time of Christ’s coming, or wishing that I could have been alive during Jesus’ earthly ministry, because those people heard and saw Him and His miracles. If only I could have been an earthly eyewitness disciple of Jesus, my Christian life would be so much better than it now is? Yet our Lord said our situation is better than that of His disciples when He was walking on earth. I think that is one of the most difficult statements of Christ to embrace. Certainly the disciples struggled with it, but between the time when Jesus announced his departure and the day He actually ascended to heaven, they took it to heart, for they were able to return to Jerusalem with joy (Luke 24:52). They saw that when Jesus left them, He was going to His coronation. He was going to enter into the heavenly sanctuary to sit down at the right hand of the Father and to be their Great High Priest.

I’m sure you’ve seen the victory celebrations that happen every time there is a presidential election. The candidate’s supporters gather together on Election Night, waiting for the voting results to come in. Gradually excitement builds as it appears the candidate is winning. Finally, when the outcome is certain, the opponent gives his concession speech, and when that happens, the winning candidate’s supporters all throw their hats in the air, confetti spills down, the champagne is uncorked, and the candidate steps up to make his victory speech. Just imagine if he were to say: “Hey, this is great. Let’s stay here. This celebration is so much fun, I don’t think I’ll ever go to Washington.” The candidate’s supporters would be sure to say: “Oh, yes, you will. That’s why we elected you. We want you in Washington to work for us.

Jesus was going to a much more important place than Washington. He was going to the right hand of God. It was far better for Him to go there than to stay in Jerusalem. There He would be in a position of power, and one of His first acts would be to send the Holy Spirit to minister to the disciples.

Read or sing Hymn 1 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for you and for your entire Christian family.

Tuesday (10/24) Read and discuss Malachi 3:1-5. Most of the difficult things we are called to do are actually quite simple to understand. In fact, virtually the entirety of the Christian life can be summarized under the slogan Trust and Obey. For example, Christians sometimes become confused over the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) as though it were simply the subject of erudite debates among pin-headed academics. While it is true that some applications of the RPW are difficult to pin down with certainty, the underlying principle is much simpler: The RPW simply takes obedience to God’s revealed will in Scripture and applies that principle to corporate worship.  Rather than relying on our own imaginations or the wisdom of this world, the RPW reminds us that we are called to trust and obey in our corporate worship just as we do in the rest of our lives. Of course, God commands some things with great specificity and in many areas He gives us a great deal of freedom to simply use our own best judgment. Once we recognize that the RPW is simply about obedience, we will understand why churches that abandon worshipping God the way He instructs us to will naturally also fail to obey the LORD when He demands that we treat our neighbors with righteousness and compassion. Both sins are about who is ultimately in charge. In today’s passage, Malachi tells us in verses 3-4 how the LORD was going to purify the Levites so that pure worship would be offered to Him. This is immediately followed by verse 6 where there is a promise of judgment “against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.” An obedient heart (like a rebellious spirit) permeates all of life. One other observation is worth making: We all recognize that the promised messenger of Malachi 1 is John the Baptist (cf. Matthew 11:10). What is sometimes missed is who the messenger goes before. Malachi 3:1 tells us that the messenger will come “before Me” – that is, before Yahweh. To put the matter directly: Malachi 3:1 teaches that Jesus is God and that He bears the covenant name of Yahweh. It also reminds us that Jesus didn’t come to make obedience optional but to bring about the obedience of faith. Read or sing Hymn 580 “Lead On, O King Eternal” Prayer: As the Holy Spirit to lead you to more consistently demonstrate the practical righteousness that flows from your God-given faith.

Wednesday (10/25) Read and discuss Nahum 1:1-15. O. Palmer Robertson writes:

A note of triumphant exultation concludes the first chapter of the book: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace” (1:15). It might be assumed that the good tidings to which Nahum refers anticipate the release of the captives of the northern kingdom from the oppressions of Assyria. But Nahum stops short of that desirable point. His good tidings center on nothing more and noting less than the destruction of the wicked king of Assyria and his empire. The reason for rejoicing on the part of the people of God is the devastation of this brutal enemy.

Isaiah had earlier used these identical words to anticipate the future salvation for God’s people. The beautiful feet on the mountains in Isaiah’s vision belong not to those who declare the defeat of enemies, but to those who proclaim peace, announcing that Israel’s God reigns (Isa. 52:7). It is appropriate that the same phrasing should introduce these diverse messages in Isaiah and Nahum. These two elements, the destruction of God’s enemies and the salvation of God’s people, must be combined if the kingdom of God is to be actually realized on earth. God’s righteousness must be established, and his enemies must be overthrown. Apart from the defeat of God’s enemies, no genuinely good news can be announced to God’s people.

Read or sing Hymn 570 “Faith of Our Fathers!” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Thursday (10/26) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 15:12-28. Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner write:

Having delineated the consequences which would follow if there were no resurrection of the dead (as some Corinthians had affirmed), Paul now moves from that negative argumentation to a positive exposition of the meaning and significance of the fact that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. As Wright points out, this passage “takes the form of a small apocalyptic account of the coming of God’s kingdom, establishing God’s rule over the world and defeating all the enemies of his kingdom, much as Daniel 7, itself drawing on the creation account in Genesis, in which the human race was set in authority over the beasts, envisages YHWH’s kingdom as a new creation.” Paul’s discussion reflects a contrasting typology in which Christ, the ideal human and final representative of the human race, reverses the corruption introduced by the first human and original representative of the human race and restores things to the way they were originally intended, with God’s dominion perfectly expressed in the restored creation such that he is perfectly glorified as the one who is “all in all.”

Read or sing Hymn 80 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD’s plans for a harmonious world filled with righteous people will certainly one day come to pass.

Friday (10/27) Read and discuss Genesis 49:29-50:26. Tremper Longman writes:

The book of Genesis achieves closure with an account of Joseph’s death. Joseph’s request that his brothers take his bones to the Promised Land anticipates a sequel to be sure, a sequel that begins with the book of Exodus.

Joseph’s final words express a sure confidence that God will remain faithful to the people of the promise. They will eventually return to the land that God said he would give the descendants of Abraham.

Joseph’s dies with the confidence that God will fulfill his promises. Readers of the New Testament have also received promises. As Christians face death, we should remember Jesus’ words:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Joseph died peaceably knowing that his descendants and his bones would eventually end up in the land God promised Abraham.

But, of course, Joseph like his father Jacob knew that the Promised Land was not their destination – for they were looking for the city whose Architect and Maker is God. Prayer: Ask that the young people of our congregation would not become so excited about the blessings the LORD gives them in this life that it distracts them from being Christ’s disciples.

Saturday (10/28) Read and discuss John 16:1-11. Gary Burge writes:

The relation between the Spirit and the world has been gradually developing. In 14:15f. we learned that he world cannot know the Spirit. In 15:26f. we see the Paraclete serving as a defense advocate before the world’s hostilities. Now in 16:8-11 the Paraclete passes to the attack. This too is a judicial description for in Jewish courts accusers could themselves be accused and convicted. IN verse 8 the term convict is legal terminology for the trial. While the symmetry of the verses is difficult, their message is clear: the Paraclete will engage the world through the mission of the church. The Spirit will substantiate the church’s voice, inwardly persuading the hearts of its hearers and strengthening its witness.

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

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 22 October 2017 Sunday, Oct 15 2017 

22 October 2017 – Dr. Gregory Reynolds Preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

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

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Hymn of Preparation:  87 “The LORD’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want”

Old Covenant Reading: Judges 3:31; 5:6-9

New Covenant Reading: Philippians 3:1-11

Sermon: An Unlikely Judge: Shamgar

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

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 283 “Alleluia! Alleluia!”

22 October 2017

OT: Genesis 49:29-50:26

NT: 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Not the End of the Story 

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #10

  1. 10. How did God create man?
    A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Suggested Preparations 

Monday (10/16) Read and discuss Judges 3:31. Daniel Block writes:

This brief note raises more questions about the person and work of Shamgar than it answers. How and where was the Philistine pressure felt in Israel? Who is this man Shamgar? How did he emerge as the champion of Israel? How could he have slaughtered six hundred Philistines, known for their military might and ruthlessness, with an ox prod? What effect did his heroic deeds have on Israel? The verse is a riddle. …

The brevity of the note on Shamgar and the author’s eschewal of the conventional formulae and structure found in the rest of his narratives may reflect the fact that he was formally employed by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Since he was not an Israelite, he may have had no more information on this man, who appears out of nowhere, accomplishes his task, and immediately disappears from view. On the other hand, the lack of detail and the primitive plot development may also reflect the author’s embarrassment over Israel’s dependence on a foreigner for their deliverance. The dearth of native leadership in Israel represented one more symptom of the Canaanization of Israel.

Read or sing Hymn 57 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul” Prayer: Please pray for the Presbytery of New York and New England as it begins meeting today.

Tuesday (10/17) Read and discuss John 15:8-17. Jesus says:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

Who was the world that hated Jesus? For the most part, the world that hated Jesus was made up of Jews – that is people who were members of the visible church. I think that this is important for us to realize as we prepare to live faithful lives in the years and perhaps decades ahead. Let me confess up front that I am not a prophet. I have no idea what the future of Christianity in the United States is going to look like over the next 30 or 50 years. But one of the patterns we already see taking place is the hostility against Biblical Christianity that is coming from church-goers who are in open rebellion against Jesus Christ. The reasons shouldn’t be surprising: Your faithfulness to God’s word unmasks the lie that everyone is doing it. The world in church-going dress is particularly dangerous to you for two reasons: (1) First, they will give cover to those who openly hate Christians to pretend that they are not against Christ and His people – but simply against those radical fundamentalists who insist that Jesus is the only way and that the Bible is the word of God. They will even be able to occasionally say a few nice things about that church down the street with a rainbow banner out front. (2) Second, and this is the more serious danger, the world in the church will provide you with a way to avoid suffering the world’s hostility – without having to openly announce that you have abandoned the faith. You can simply slip over to a group that still calls itself a church – even while it denies the Lord they claim has saved them. Right now that might seem like the farthest thing from your minds – and that’s good. But hostility from the world has a tendency to make us rationalize choices that in our better moments we would never have even considered. Jesus wants you to know about this hostility in advance – so that you can be prepared to triumph over it through faith and through the blood of Jesus Christ. Read or sing Hymn 87 “The LORD’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want” Prayer: Ask the LORD to increase your joy in being His child and part of His family – and that you would retain this joy no matter what the world might throw your way.

Wednesday (10/18) Read and discuss Philippians 3:1-11. Catechisms can give us short memorable definitions that we can hang our theological hats on. Those who look down upon such formulations as simplistic fail to grasp how helpful such clear and memorable definitions can be in living to the glory of God. Sometimes we find such clear and pithy definitions right in the Scriptures themselves.  For example, in verse 3, Paul provides a remarkably concise and helpful definition of a Christian. What is a Christian?

  1. Christians are the true people of God (“the circumcision”).
  2. Christians worship by the Spirit of God.
  3. Christians glory in the Christ Jesus.
  4. Christians put no confidence in the flesh.

While these four identity markers fit together, it is the last marker that Christians are most frequently tempted to abandon.  Our culture both cries out and subtly entices us to have confidence in our own ability to do good – apart from the Spirit of God. We begin teaching the power of positive thinking early.  What is the most memorable line from The Little Engine that Could? “I think I can! I think I can! …” To the degree that this children’s story is simply teaching the importance of perseverance – that is for the good. But very easily this message crosses over into putting confidence in the flesh.  When this idea grows up it takes a form like that of William Henley’s famous poem Invictus:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul
.

This language is stirring but it is also damning.  It would be difficult to find a better definition of the flesh than the assertion that my soul is unconquerable and that “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” What does Paul say about this sort of attitude? Paul says that Christians are those who put no confidence in the flesh … none at all. Read or sing Hymn 691 “It Is Well with My Soul” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey OPC in Jaffrey, NH.

Thursday (10/19) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 15:12-28. First Corinthians contains a lengthy section where Paul is simply going point by point correcting errors in doctrine or practice that he has heard exist within the Church at Corinth.  The problem is quite straightforward.  Some members of the Corinthian church were denying the resurrection (v. 12).  It is helpful to remember that Corinth is a city in Greece and most of the congregation would have absorbed parts of the Greek philosophical tradition without even thinking about it.  One strikingly anti-Biblical aspect of much Greek philosophy is that it denigrated the physical in favor of the spiritual.  Some Greeks actually referred to the human body as a tomb that was encasing and holding down the person’s spirit.  The ultimate goal in such a worldview was to become liberated from this tomb as a disembodied spirit. Paul engages the Corinthians with a simple argument. If there is no resurrection of the body è then Christ wasn’t bodily raised either (v. 16).  According to verses 17-19, what are the consequences for believers if Christ has not been raised? The surprising thing, given the Biblical emphasis on the bodily resurrection of both Christ and believers, is that the resurrection has frequently been marginalized in Christian thinking.  In our own day it is still common to hear Christians speak about souls being saved instead of people being saved.  Furthermore, if you ask many Christians for their view of life after death – they rarely get past heaven.  But as Bishop N.T. Wright likes to put it, “Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.” Here is a glorious truth: Christ is not rescuing disembodied souls from a sinking ship as though the material creation wasn’t good. The victory of Jesus Christ over Satan, sin, and death on behalf of His people includes the promised redemption of all creation.  As Paul says elsewhere, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-23)”.  The twin pledges we have for this sure hope are that (1) Christ has already been bodily raised and glorified in history; and (2) God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of the redemption to come. Read or sing Hymn 80 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Please pray for our young children that they would all embrace the glorious truth that Christ has been raised for our justification and even now sits enthroned at the Father’s right hand.

Friday (10/20) Read and discuss Genesis 49:29-50:26. The poet, John Donne, writes about the good death of the believer:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Iain Duguid reflects on how Donne’s grasp of the temporary nature of death for the believer fits with today’s passage from Genesis. He writes:

At the end of Hollywood movies, the heroes ride off into the sunset. At the end of biblical stories the heroes die. The difference is not incidental. Hollywood has nothing better to offer than living happily ever after, glossing over the fact that no one lives forever. The biblical heroes, on the other hand, are men and women of faith, looking for a city that is not of this world. For them, a good death is a fitting end to a good life, not merely an unpleasant and unfortunate reality. Yes, death is the last enemy, but it is an enemy whose power is limited and who can be overcome, as John Donne so beautifully reflects in his sonnet. A good death is not a contradiction in terms, and this passage in the book of Genesis is about two good deaths, those of Jacob and Joseph. Yet this story is not simply about death; it is more precisely about death and burial. There is more to death than dying. Jacob and Joseph did not merely die well in the sense of dying comfortably at a good old age, surrounded by loving caregivers. They died well in the sense of dying in faith, knowing that their death was not the end of the real story of their lives. For Jacob and Joseph, the end of their life on earth as merely the closing page of one volume that leads on into a new and better sequel.

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

Saturday (10/21) Read and discuss Judges 5:6-9. Daniel Block writes:

Having introduced the One who is worthy of all praise, Deborah describes her own rise as His agent in six picturesque binary versets. Self-effacingly she does not identify the chronological context as “the days of Deborah” but as “the days of Shamgar” and “the days of Jael.” The expressions are significant for several reasons.

First, and most obviously, they express Deborah’s admiration for these individuals  and their significances in Israel’s history.

Second, they reflect the ad hoc nature of the prophetic office. Deborah’s prophetic self-consciousness is beyond doubt, but she refuses to claim the right to designate an era after herself.

Third, by naming the period after not one but two foreigners, Deborah laments Israel’s own lack of civil leaders by whom the period could be named.

What does this tell us about Israel at that time in redemptive history? Daniel Block continues:

The Book of Judges portrays a degenerate Israelite society. Little that transpires in the book is normal or normative. The Canaanite oppression was Yahweh’s response to the persistent idolatry of his people. It is remarkable that when they cry out and come to Deborah for a word from God concerning their problems, he answers. But the answer he provides catches everyone by surprise. On first sight the call and commissioning of Barak seems natural enough, except that Barak is an unlikely leader. Weak-willed and indecisive, he hesitates to enter the fray. When he engages the enemy in battles at Yahweh’s command, Yahweh provides a remarkable victory, but he will not allow Barak the satisfaction of using this event for personal glory. God’s battles are not fought with human weapons nor for the sake of human glory. The honor of Yahweh’s name is the primary concern.

Read or sing Hymn 283 “Alleluia! Alleluia!” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 15 October 2017 Sunday, Oct 8 2017 

15 October 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 55 “To God Be the Glory”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 4:20-25

Hymn of Preparation:  616 “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 69:1-18

New Covenant Reading: John 15:18-27

Sermon: If the World Hates You

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

Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright”

15 October 2017

Hymns: 94, 610, 252, 600

OT: Genesis 49:1-28

NT: Romans 2:12-29

Mixed Blessings

Adult Sunday School: Fellowship Lunch – No Sunday School

Shorter Catechism Q/A #9

Q. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/9) Read and discuss John 15:18-27. Jesus tells it like it is. Our Lord warns us:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

It would be one thing to be told that the world will quietly ignore you – but Jesus tells us that the world will, in fact, hate us. That is striking language. R.C. Sproul comments:

One of the most embarrassing experiences of enlightenment that I even had happened in the first month after I became a Christian. I was in college when I was converted, and shortly thereafter I went home for a weekend visit. When I got back to my hometown, I went to the drugstore where my friends always gathered on Friday nights. All through high school, I had been their unofficial leader, and when I came back home I wanted to share with my friends the greatest thing that ever happened to me, the cause of my highest happiness, my discovery of Christ as my Savior. So I told my buddies about Christ, and I fully expected every one of them to get in line and say, “Way to go R.C., we’re right with you.” Instead, they were unanimous in their rejection of everything I said, and not only did they reject what I said, they manifestly rejected me. I was hurt, because they were my friends, and I loved them, and I wanted them to meet my new friend, Jesus.

Read or sing Hymn 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico is they continue trying to rebuild their communities and their lives following the devastation of this year’s hurricane season.

Tuesday (10/10) Read and discuss John 15:8-17. In verse 9 Jesus says:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

If we read that too quickly, we can miss the fact that this is one of the most astonishing verses in the entirely Bible. If we quickly read the Bible the way we might read a Facebook post we will end up thinking something like this:

God loves Jesus.

Jesus loves us.

That’s good news. I get it.

But that isn’t getting it – that is missing the extraordinary thing that Jesus is telling us here. Jesus is not simply saying that the Father loves Him and Jesus loves us. He is saying: Just as the Father loves Me – that is the way in which I love you. The Father who has perfectly loved Me from all eternity with an everlasting love – a quality of love that is beyond your earthly experience – I love you in exactly the same way. “Just as the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.” That just blows my mind. Leon Morris puts he well. He writes:

[God’s] love is no shallow emotion, easily aroused and as easily dispersed. It is a love that proceeds from what He is and is an expression of His innermost being.

Where can you find a committed love that will be the anchor for your soul? You can only find it fully in God’s love for you in Jesus Christ. Read or sing Hymn 616 “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” Prayer: Give thanks to the LORD that He loves you based on who He is rather than on what you are like.

Wednesday (10/11) Read and discuss Psalm 69:1-18. Allen P. Ross writes:

The people of God have come to trust in the faithfulness of the LORD and so their prayer for deliverance from undeserved malice should express that trust. Beginning with verse 13 we have the petition proper, first for deliverance, and then for the destruction of the enemies. The prayer is introduced with a contrasting “But as for me” – in spite of their reproaches and other malicious attacks, he will pray. In humility and faith he prays that his prayer will be answered “at an acceptable time,” literally, “time of favor.” … The time of trouble is the time of acceptance, the time when he needs to pray for deliverance and restoration.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to use the difficulties in your life to turn you to faithful prayer rather than allowing these challenges to become obstacles in your relationship with God.

Thursday (10/12) Read and discuss Romans 2:12-29. Michael P. Mittendorf writes:

The “for” which introduces 2:28 signals the conclusion to the matter. Who is truly a Jew, a member of the covenant people? This identity is not based upon what is physically seen; similarly, circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the one hand, one might wonder how visible circumcision generally was. Did you just take a person’s word for it, or was there some kind of visual inspection? More serious is the use of “in flesh.” The noun “flesh” was previously used in 1:3 to describe Jesus becoming a man. But now, in its second occurrence in romans, “flesh” begins to have a negative nuance. It describes circumcision as something merely outward, which, Paul contends is not, in fact, circumcision at all. The Jew, according to 2:29, is actually defined by what is literally “in the hidden” place. This is further defined by the description of circumcision being “of the heart, in Spirit.”

Read or sing Hymn 610 “‘Take Up Your Cross,’ the Savior Said” Prayer: Please pray for our Sunday school teachers.

Friday (10/13) Read and discuss Genesis 49:1-28. The variety of blessings is a bit overwhelming to take in at one reading. Let’s simply think a bit about the blessing given to Judah. Iain Duguid writes:

Even though the longest and richest blessing was reserved for Joseph, the blessing on Judah was the most remarkable. Jacob blessed Judah with the same exaltation that Joseph saw in his boyhood dream. In the days to come, his father’s sons would come and bow down to Judah. He is described in distinctly royal terms: majestic and lion like, he will triumph over his enemies. He will possess the scepter and the ruler’s staff, and his brothers will praise him. This blessing obviously foreshadowed the future history of Israel, in which the tribe of Judah would become the royal tribe, from which would come the line of David. Yet the prophecy also anticipated something even greater than the substantial blessings experienced by Judah in the time of David and Solomon. After all, the scepter first arrived in Judah in the time of David and Solomon, and verse 10 anticipates the scepter continuing with Judah until some greater, future arrival. Most ancient and modern translations have understood this verse as a messianic prophecy, rendering it, “until he comes to whom it [the scepter] belongs.” This messianic interpretation is already clear in later biblical passages that allude to this verse.

Prayer: Please lift up the Supreme Court of the United States in prayer.

Saturday (10/14) Read and discuss John 15:18-27. Chuck Swindoll writes:

The fruit of hatred is persecution. Jesus promised His closest followers that persecution would be their reward in the world. The Greek term translated “persecute” means “to put to flight, to pursue,” or as A.T. Robertson defines it, “to chase like a wild beast.” In persecution, hatred becomes deliberate, not merely coincidental. The world will pursue Christians for the sake of venting its hatred.

Jesus stated that the world’s hatred had always existed and was concentrated in the house of God under the guise of true devotion. Before He came to earth, the hatred of the world had little opportunity for expression. It killed the Lord’s prophets, polluted His words, ignored His warnings, and turned His house into a den of brigands, but a case could be made – however thin – for doubt or misunderstanding. But when God presented Himself in person, in the flesh of humanity and in fulfillment of every messianic expectation, He left the world without excuse for rejecting Him. The flesh of God’s Son became the occasion for the world to expose its hatred for their Creator and, thus, consummate their sin.

Read or sing Hymn 58 “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.

Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 8 October 2017 Sunday, Oct 1 2017 

8 October 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 32 “Great Is They Faithfulness”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 78:38-39

Hymn of Preparation:  186 “One There Is, above All Others”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 41:1-20

New Covenant Reading: John 15:8-17

Sermon: Abiding in Christ

Hymn of Response: 498 “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

8 October 2017

OT: Genesis 48:1-22

NT: Hebrews 11:1-16

The Blessing

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #8

Q. How doth God execute his decrees?
A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/2) Read and discuss John 15:8-17. R.C. Sproul writes:

As we know, Jesus was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). He knew pain beyond any measure that we have experienced. Yet beyond the pain, the sorrow, the afflictions, and the humiliation stood One whose life was marked by joy. This, too, was His legacy to His disciples. We may weep, we may endure pain, we may be crushed by the exigencies of life and the afflictions that we experience in this world, but in the depths of our hearts and souls there should be a spirit of joy. … It was Jesus’ purpose that His joy would “remain” in His disciples and that their joy would be “full.” Jesus experienced the fullness of joy when He sat down at the right hand of His Father and had His glory restored, the glory He had enjoyed with the Father from eternity. That is the joy He shares with us.

Read or sing Hymn 32 “Great Is They Faithfulness” Prayer: Please be in prayer for the people of Puerto Rico as the horrible circumstances from the recent hurricanes continues to threaten not only their well-being but their lives.

Tuesday (10/3) Read and discuss John 15:1-8. Today’s passage makes clear that a central aspect of our abiding in Christ is having His word abide in us. How do we apply this truth to our own lives, we can scarcely do better than to see how Christ Himself infallibly applies this truth elsewhere in His public teaching. Mark chapter 4:

Again [Jesus] began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

When Jesus was alone with His Disciples He explained to them what the parable means. He said:

 “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

Read or sing Hymn 186 “One There Is, above All Others” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make your heart good soil for His word – that the word of God would produce a vast crop of good fruit in your life.

Wednesday (10/4) Read and discuss Isaiah 41:1-20. R. Reed Lessing writes:

Yahweh elected Israel with the intent that the covenant people would be in mission to the world as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” At Sinai, the nation is commissioned to be His “go between,” mediating between Yahweh and the nations. Israel was designed to be a model of what Yahweh desires for all people (cf. Deut 4:6-8). In contrast to idolatrous nations like Egypt and Babylon, God’s people were to be theologically and ethically different. The Torah presented the world with a religious revolution, which was propelled by the exodus Gospel and founded upon monotheism. The goal was to establish a [distinctive] people whose special concern was for the widow, the fatherless, and the alien.

Israel was not chosen to be Yahweh’s light to the world because its people were more important, elite, or upright than those of other nations. Neither were the Israelites elected because they were more numerous, mighty, or powerful. Israel was chosen solely because of Yahweh’s gracious love. Election means “to be taken as God’s bride, to be drafted as Yahweh’s army, to be adopted as Yahweh’s son, to be purchased as Yahweh’s servant, to be planted as Yahweh’s vineyard, to be acquired as Yahweh’s sheep, to be formed as Yahweh’s vessel, to be separated as Yahweh’s special possession.

Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has made you part of His Kingdom of Priests – and ask that you would be faithful in that role.

Thursday (10/5) Read and discuss Hebrews 11:1-16. Tom Schreiner writes:

[Hebrews] highlights here that faith trusts in God for the future. Abraham left Ur even when he didn’t know where God was calling him to live. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died without seeing the promises realized in their fullness, but they didn’t mock the promises of God or dismiss them as fantasies. They trusted that God had a heavenly homeland for them, a heavenly city. So too, when the LORD summoned Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he didn’t shrink back in unbelief. He continued to believe that God would fulfill his promises through Isaac and came to the conviction that God would raise him form the dead if need be. So too, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph on their deathbeds didn’t see God’s promises fulfilled; but they spoke about the future in confidence and faith, convinced God would do what he said. Faith trusts God for the future and believes, no matter how improbable it seems, that God will fulfill what he promised.

Read or sing Hymn 498 “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey Presbyterian Church in Jaffrey, NH.

Friday (10/6) Read and discuss Genesis 48:1-22. Iain Duguid writes:

In spite of the challenges and painful disappointments of his life. Jacob’s faith in God’s promise of land and family runs like a golden thread throughout this chapter. First, there is the promise of land. It is not coincidental that both of the key events of Jacob’s life that he remembers took place “in the land of Canaan” (Gen. 48:3, 7). Nor was it a random impulse that led Jacob to give Joseph the one piece of the Promised Land that he had conquered himself, a ridge of land that he took from the Amorites with his sword and bow (48:22). That was a remarkable bequest, given that Joseph was the second-in-command in Egypt and had abundant possessions there. What did he need with a small parcel of land in faraway Canaan? Wasn’t that about as useful as the hideous, hand-knitted sweater that your great-aunt insists on giving you at Christmas? That gift was a symbol of Jacob’s firm faith that God would one day bring Joseph’s descendants back to the land of their fathers, and that a time would come when that property would become a valuable inheritance.

Prayer: Ask the LORD to strengthen your faith as you meditate upon His word and seek to live in light of what His word says.

Saturday (10/7) Read and discuss John 15:8-17. Andreas Kostenberger writes:

The disciples are to remain in Jesus; in particular, they are to remain in His love by obeying His commandments. The vine metaphor thus becomes an illustration of the close-knit, organic relationship Jesus desired with His disciples. This is expressed here even more profoundly than in the related shepherd/sheep metaphor in chapter 10. Jesus’ “sheep” hear His voice and follow Him; through the Spirit, and sustained by obedience to His commandments, Jesus’ followers are to draw their life blood from their exalted LORD just as branches draw their vitality from the vine. This may seem unremarkable to those of us who have practiced and experienced this kind of lifestyle for years. For the disciples, at this stage of salvation history, Jesus’ words were, perhaps cryptic, but certainly of vital importance.

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

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

1 October 2017

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 100 “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 10:19-22

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

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7

New Covenant Reading: John 15:1-8

Sermon: God Glorifies Himself through Us

Hymn of Response: 559 “Father, I Know that All My Life”

Confession of Faith:    Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

1 October 2017

OT: Genesis 47:13-31

NT: Philippians 3:17-21

In Egypt but Not of Egypt

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #7

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

Suggested Preparations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 September 2017 – Rev. Gary Moore preaching

Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3

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

Confession of Sin

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

Assurance of Pardon: John 14:1-3

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

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 91

New Covenant Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-25

Sermon: Wings of Refuge

Hymn of Response: 693 “Blessed Assurance”

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)

Doxology (Hymn 732)

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

24 September 2017

OT: Isaiah 40:1-31

NT: Luke 3:1-22

The Salvation of an Incomparable God 

Adult Sunday School: Reformation History

Shorter Catechism Q/A #6

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

Suggested Preparations

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

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

            “‘He will command his angels concerning you,

                        to guard you,’

            and

            “‘On their hands they will bear you up,

                        lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is My Father’s world,

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the Ruler yet.

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

Jesus who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and heav’n be one.

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

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

How much condemnation?

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

Or as we sometimes sing:

Oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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