18 March 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing”
Confession of Sin
O eternal God and merciful Father, we humble ourselves before your great majesty, against which we have frequently and grievously sinned. We acknowledge that we deserve nothing less than eternal death, that we are unclean before you and children of wrath. We continually transgress your commandments, failing to do what you have commanded, and doing that which you have expressly forbidden. We acknowledge our waywardness, and are heartily sorry for all our sins. We are not worthy to be called your children, nor to lift up our eyes heavenward to you in prayer. Nevertheless, O Lord God and gracious Father, we know that your mercy toward those who turn to you is infinite; and so we take courage to call upon you, trusting in our Mediator Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Forgive all our sins for Christ’s sake. Cover us with his innocence and righteousness, for the glory of your name. Deliver our understanding from all blindness, and our hearts from all willfulness and rebellion, we pray through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.
Assurance of Pardon: Micah 7:18-20
Hymn of Preparation: 499 “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”
Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 44:6-8
New Covenant Reading: John 20:24-31
Sermon: In His Name
Hymn of Response: 642 “Be Thou My Vision”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 429 “Let Thy Blood in Mercy Poured”
OT: 2 Samuel 5:17-25
NT: Acts 18:1-11
As the LORD Commanded Him
Shorter Catechism Q/A #31
Q. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.
Monday (4/12) Read and discuss John 20:24-31. N.T. Wright comments:
‘My master,’ he says, ‘and my God!’ [Thomas] is the first person in this book to look at Jesus of Nazareth and address the word ‘God’ directly to him. Yet this is what John has been working round to from the beginning. ‘In the beginning was the Word … and the Word was God.’ ‘Nobody has ever seen God, the only begotten God, who is intimately close to the father – he has brought him to light.’ What does that mean? What does it look like when it’s actually happening? Well, says John, it looks like this … and off we go, through Galilee and Jerusalem, back and forth, moments of glory and doom woven together until they meet on the cross. Now, a week after Easter, it looks like this: a muddled, dogged disciple, determined not to be taken in, standing on his rights not to believe anything until he’s got solid evidence, confronted by a smiling Jesus who has just walked, as he did the previous week, through a locked door. This is what it looks like. …
If the Word who was God has now made the invisible God visible, so, as in the Prologue, this chapter has described how he has brought life and light to the world. The resurrection is not an alien power breaking into God’s world; it is what happens when the creator himself comes to heal and restore his world, and bring it to its appointed goal. The resurrection is not only new creation; it is new creation.
Read or sing 5 “God, My King, Thy Might Confessing” Prayer: Please lift up Dan Borvan as he works on his doctoral dissertation.
Tuesday (4/13) Read and discuss Read John 20:19-23. In verse 21 we read:
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Jesus had appeared in their midst to give the Disciples peace. Now He gives them a new vocation – a new purpose in life. “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” When the Father wanted to establish His Kingdom in this world, He sent His Son. When the Son wanted to expand the Kingdom of God in this world – He sent us! That is an awesome truth. We do have to be careful here. While there is a parallelism between the Father sending the Son and the Son sending us – we are not being sent out to do the same things that Jesus did. God has a strict limit of one Messiah per universe – and we are not Him. We do not go out to imitate Jesus by dying for anyone’s sins. We do not go out and miraculously open the eyes of the blind – a miracle which specifically revealed that Jesus was the Messiah. We don’t even go out and tell parables. See, we are not called to imitate Christ’s ministry we are called to do that which Christ is sending us to do. What is that? In the words of the Great Commission: “We are to disciple the nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and by teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded.” We live on the other side of the cross and empty tomb. Christ definitively accomplished salvation through His life and death. Now Christ is spreading the Garden, He is spreading the place where heaven and earth intersect by graciously sending us out in His authority and in the power of the Holy Spirit to disciple people from every tribe tongue and nation. This is an awesome purpose. And frankly, if we were left to do this in our own power it would be both terrifying and impossible. As the Apostle Paul writes in Second Corinthians:
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
Who is sufficient for these things? Left to ourselves, the answer is obvious: Not one of us is even remotely sufficient for these things. But thanks be to God, the LORD has not left us to ourselves. Read or sing Hymn: 499 “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus has given you peace, purpose, and power by grafting you into His Church and filling you with the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday (4/14) Read and discuss Isaiah 44:6-8. Being a Christian requires courage. It requires us to stand upon the word of God as being more certain than the projections we might draw simply by looking around. If we simply lived by our own personal experiences, it might be easy to believe that the Kingdom of God was in trouble and that it would be a safer bet to hook our wagons to the kingdoms of this world. That is how it must have seemed to at least some of the Jews during the Babylonian exile. God’s Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. Would they remember that it was destroyed because they had rebelled against the LORD and He had spewed them out of the Promised Land or would some of them imagine that the real power in their day came at the tip of the Babylonian spear? R. Reed Lessing writes:
Testifying to the claims in 44:6-7 would be a fearful thing for at least two reasons: (1) The Babylonians may not believe it, and (2) the exiles themselves may not embrace it. A good lawyer briefs his witnesses before they stand in the court. This is what Yahweh does. He encourages His people to recall the ancient pledge that He is their Rock. Israel is prepared to announce a fact that popular pagan opinion will not tolerate. Yahweh is the only God. “The LORD planned, proclaimed, and announced long ago what He is now bringing to pass and, unlike the gods of the other nations, has witnesses to prove it.”
But is this not an audacious claim? During the exile, Yahweh will have not standing Temple, and His people will have no land, no monarchy, and no government. Can He be the world’s only true God? Who would dare embrace this idea? Isaiah did. He offers a “counter-empire testimony.” He will not give in to Babylon’s brutality and ruthlessness. The prophet offers hope for the deportees that better days will come through Cyrus and the submissive Servant. So Israel must testify, regardless of the consequences. As many have discovered. Yahweh has not witness protection program (e.g., Acts 7). He does, however, promise to raise us up on the Last Day (Jn 6:40).
Prayer: Pray that the LORD would make you a courageous man or woman of God.
Thursday (4/15) Read and discuss Acts 18:1-11. When Paul came to Corinth he entered a city that cosmopolitan, commercial, and corrupt. Following his normal practice, Paul began to preach in the synagogue. It doesn’t appear that the initial response to his preaching was very encouraging. We are only told of one god-fearer and one (admittedly prominent) Jew and his family who came to faith. Paul was also alone because he had left Paul and Timothy behind to minister in Macedonia. It seems very likely that Paul felt lonely and discouraged, but he wasn’t alone – God was with him. How did the LORD encourage Paul?
- The LORD brought Aquila and Priscilla into Paul’s life. They would become dear companions and life-long coworkers for the sake of the gospel.
- The LORD sent Silas and Timothy back to Paul.
- The LORD provided financially for Paul’s ministry. Note that Paul is able to devote himself fulltime to preaching after Silas and Timothy join up with him. They had brought with them financial support from the church at Philippi and possibly also from Thessalonica and Berea.
- The LORD appeared to Paul in a vision to encourage him with His work in Corinth. The LORD said: (i) Do not be afraid; (ii) Keep on speaking, do not be silent; (iii) I am with you; (iv) No one is going to attack and harm you; and (v) your ministry here will be fruitful (“I have many people in this city”).
The LORD is not untouched by our weaknesses. Thankfully, He is both willing and able to provide us with the encouragement we need if we will simply trust in Him. Prayer: Lift up someone whom you know is suffering deeply, and pray that he or she would know true comfort in Jesus Christ.
Friday (4/16) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 5:17-25. Tony Cartledge writes:
These twin stories of bloody battles may seem far distant from the real world of most modern readers. Are there lessons here that might benefit believers? Both stories emphasize ow much David depended on God for leadership and how willing he was to follow. In both stories, David was presented with a crisis that was not of his own making. It was obvious that action needed to be taken, but David carefully sought Yahweh’s endorsement before proceeding.
The first story illustrates the principle. The second account is more embellished, emphasizing the importance of being continually alert for the guidance of Yahweh. David, who had been instructed to watch and wait, recognized Yahweh’s active presence when he heard the sound of the wind in the treetops.
The book of Acts records how Jesus’ disciples were also instructed to wait for the Holy Spirit, and to watch. The gathered disciples perceived the Spirit’s arrival when “from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting …. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The means by which God deigns to speak is less important than our willingness to hear God’s word and to obey it, responding as David did in faith and trust. That is when victories are won. Even when the battle field is no larger than the human heart, every triumph is a miracle of God’s grace and a testament to God’s glory.
Read or sing Hymn 642 “Be Thou My Vision” Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you ears that would be quick to hear His word, and hands and feet that would be diligent to obey what it says.
Saturday (4/17) Read and discuss John 20:24-31. Edward Klink writes:
The Gospel of John has one goal – that the reader would believe in Jesus Christ. Everything written in the Gospel has this as its goal. Any other use of the Gospel (e.g., as a historical source for the life of Jesus or as guidelines for moral living) would be secondary at best. Its stated purpose is to invite the reader to participate in God, now made possible through Jesus Christ, by becoming members of his family and participants in his ongoing mission to the world. The Gospel’s intention is ultimately to invite and instruct the reader to live in, with, and for God in all things. In every way, then, this Gospel speaks about Jesus (and God) in a manner inclusive of the reader. This was never a story about something past; it has always ben a story about the present – and even the future. To read the Gospel in any other way is a misinterpretation. And not to respond to the Gospel is a form of rebellion, a rejection of the living voice of God.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.