15 April 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 8 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You”
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: Psalm 103:11-13
Hymn of Preparation: 28 “O God, the Rock of Ages”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 90:1-17
New Covenant Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Sermon: The LORD is Our Help
Hymn of Response: 30 “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 426 “Till He Come”!
OT: 2 Samuel 7:18-29
NT: Colossians 3:1-17
Gratefully Praying God’s Promises
Shorter Catechism Q/A #35
Q. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.
Monday (4/9) Read and discuss Psalm 90:1-17. At first blush, this might not appear to be the most encouraging Psalm in the Bible. Moses speaks of how fleeting our life is, how the LORD sees all our sins, and that He will cause us to return to the dust. These are not the sentiments we normally hear at a High School graduation ceremony – but maybe they should be. For rather than being a cause for despair, grasping the transient nature of this life is a cornerstone of having a truly meaningful life. At different points in our journey, we all recognize that all our dreams will not come true simply because we have them. The classic American mid-life crisis is simply the realization that we are not going to become astronauts, renowned scientists, or many of the other things we dreamed of in our youth. Most of us don’t have to wait until mid-life for this reality to set in. So we fight against it by placing our hopes in things that promise to make life meaningful or through “entertaining ourselves to death” in an effort to escape reality. Today’s psalm offers us a far more fruitful approach. Moses begins by claiming that the Eternal God is the dwelling place for His people and ends by calling out to the LORD to establish the work of our hands. We were created by and for God and our only hope for lasting significance lies in Him. As the poem by missionary C.T. Studd puts it: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Read or sing 8 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You” Prayer: Lift up the children of our congregation and pray that they will make their days matter rather than frittering them away after the world’s amusements.
Tuesday (4/10) Read and discuss Read John 21:15-25. In today’s passage Jesus tells Peter a bit of what lies ahead for him as Peter serves as Christ’s minister. He even tells Peter how his life is going to end. Jesus is telling Peter the truth: “It is going to be hard.” But He was also telling Peter really good news: “By My grace, both in life and in death – you are going to glorify God!” What does “another will dress you” mean? This might have been clearer if the older word “gird” was used – but then we would have to explain what “gird” means. Girding conveys the idea of binding – frequently with a belt. The idea is that a person wearing lose clothing that hung close to the ground could not easily move about. So, if he needed are wanted to move about quickly – he would pull up his garments and bind them around his waist using a belt. This would free up his legs so that he could run. Jesus is playing on that idea. He tells Peter, “When you were young, you used to bind up your clothes – and therefore you had freedom of movement to go wherever you wanted. Peter, you were the captain of your own actions. But when you are old, you will stretch your hands, and another will bind you and carry you where you do not want to go.” The language of “stretch out your hands” could simply mean “to be bound” and point to the fact that Peter was going to be martyred. Yet, this expression was also commonly used for when men had their hands bound to the crossbeam for crucifixion. This latter meaning may fit more closely with John’s words: “This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.” And by tradition, it is believed that Peter was martyred by being crucified. Have you ever thought what it would be like to know how you are going to die? Personally, I’m happy with not knowing – particularly if it turns out that I am going die in a manner as horrible as brutally being crucified. Yet, Peter faithfully lived and ministered with this knowledge for more than three decades. From one perspective, knowing that he was going to be martyred by crucifixion must have been a great burden for Peter that drove him over and over again back to relying upon the grace of God. And yet, and yet … there was, in truth, extraordinarily good news in these words for Peter. Peter must have wondered: “Will I cave under pressure and deny Jesus again?” And Jesus was reassuring him, “No Peter, you will glorify me through your life. And you will glorify me through your death. For I will be with you, and I will keep you faithful to the very end!” Read or Sing Hymn28 “O God, the Rock of Ages” Prayer: Give thanks that through the work of the Holy Spirit you, and every other genuine disciple of Jesus, will persevere to the end in faith.
Wednesday (4/11) Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. The early church fathers frequently used a striking image for the Church by comparing it to Noah’s Ark. There is much to be said in favor of this image. One wit has suggested that, like the Ark, if it wasn’t for the storm raging outside none of us could stand the smell on the inside. Thankfully, that is not the universal experience of Christians. The reason why the Ark imagery can be so helpfully is because when the LORD saves people He grafts them into His family. In spite of contemporary Western attitudes the time honored saying is clearly Biblical: “Ordinarily there is no salvation outside of the Church.” Nevertheless, all images are subject to abuse. The comparison of the Church to Noah’s Ark is helpful for directing people toward joining the Church but is perverted if we come to imagine that this means everyone within the Church is in fact saved. Instead of such a scheme teaching salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, it teaches that salvation is by formal church membership. This view has returned time and again to plague Christ’s Church. In the Middle Ages this view spawned the idea of implicit faith. Where the priests and well educated might be expected to have a personal faith in Jesus the laity could be saved without personally having faith in God or an understanding of what He had done in sending His Son simply be being church members and thereby sharing in the faith of the whole Church. Obviously such a view is not taught in the Bible. Amazingly, a variant of this view has broken out in North America in the 21st century amongst some who are on the fringes of Reformed Christianity. This variant wants to insist on the objectivity of membership within the covenant community. Some of these men are simply recovering a high view of the Church while others seem to be downplaying the need for individual regeneration and explicit personal faith in Jesus Christ. Paul’s answer to this view is uncompromising. In effect he asks: “Have you never read your Bibles?” Virtually every adult who the LORD delivered from Egypt died in the wilderness due to their unbelief. Furthermore, most of Israel’s history from the time of Joshua to the time of the Babylonian exile was marked out by immorality and idolatry. Privilege meant responsibility it did not guarantee salvation. “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” Let us heed this example and cling to Christ out of genuine confidence in Him. Prayer: Ask that the LORD would grant you, along with your brothers and sisters at MVOPC, the courage to walk in the light and to stand for the light.
Thursday (4/12) Read and discuss Colossians 3:1-17. Paul Deterding writes:
Christ is the epitome of the Christian life, for He has fully and perfectly displayed the virtues directed by God. In Him dwells all the fullness of Deity (1:19; 2:9). Because God the Son is the epitome, He is also able to be both enabler and example.
Our Lord is the enabler of the Christian life, for His redemptive work makes it possible for His people to live godly lives and motivates them to do so. Christ’s role as enabler of the Christian’s new life is what gives Christian ethics their unique status. Many of the virtues enjoined on Christians in Colossians and elsewhere in the NT are prized by other religions besides Christianity. They may well be considered desirable behavior by Jewish, or other religious, and even secular standards. What is unique about the Christian’s new life of sanctification is that through saving faith in Christ only Christians perform works in which God takes pleasure. While the believers’ deeds may not outwardly appear any different than the same works done by the unbelieving, only the believing are united with Him who enables His saints to do that with which God is pleased.
As the epitome of all Christian virtues, Christ is also the perfect example of these, so that believers have His example to emulate in their lives. This section of Colossians specifically directs believers to be continually forgiving one another as Christ, in His redemptive work, forgave them. In addition, a number of the virtues mentioned here are said to have characterized the life of Jesus: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace. When the apostle presents Christ as an example of Christian living for his readers, he indicates his own acquaintance with the earthly life of Jesus, which he may well have learned from eh Lord Himself as well as other apostles.
Read or Sing Hymn 30 “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.
Friday (4/13) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 7:18-29. Andrew Steinmann writes:
David’s immediate reaction to God’s promises was to respond with a prayer of thanks and praise to Yahweh. We are told that he “sat before Yahweh,” apparently approaching, if not entering, the tent where the ark was housed. Just as Yahweh had begun His oracle to David with a rhetorical question, so David began his prayer to Yahweh with one: who was he and what was his house to deserve this favor from God? (7:18). Like God’s questions, this one also anticipated a negative answer: David and his house did not deserve such lavish grace. His humble gratitude is comparable to that expressed by Elizabeth in a similar rhetorical question when she was visited by her cousin Mary, pregnant with Jesus in her womb: “whence is it given to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” No one deserves a family connection to Christ, yet all are invited to receive Him as their King and thereby become children of God.
Read or sing Hymn 426 “Till He Come”! Prayer: Give thanks that through the LORD’s amazing grace He had made you a member of His royal family.
Saturday (4/14) Read and discuss Psalm 90:1-17. John Phillips writes:
Yes, the sandglass is there, the sands of time are sinking, but we must not be morbidly occupied with death. We still have today. We must look forward to tomorrow. Above all, we must so know the mercy of God in our lives that each morning will hear us ringing out our joy in the Lord! God’s disciplines with us are not intended to flatten us in despair. They are designed to lead us on to such experiences of His lovingkindness, mercy, and grace as will make us sing even in the midst of the fruits of our follies.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.