8 April 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3
Opening Hymn: 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render”
Confession of Sin
Almighty God, Who are rich in mercy to all those who call upon You; Hear us as we humbly come to You confessing our sins; And imploring Your mercy and forgiveness. We have broken Your holy laws by our deeds and by our words; And by the sinful affections of our hearts. We confess before You our disobedience and ingratitude, our pride and willfulness; And all our failures and shortcomings toward You and toward fellow men. Have mercy upon us, Most merciful Father; And of Your great goodness grant that we may hereafter serve and please You in newness of life; Through the merit and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: John 3:16-17
Hymn of Preparation: 181 “We Come, O Christ, to You”
Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 3:11-18
New Covenant Reading: John 21:15-25
Sermon: You Follow Me!
Hymn of Response: 649 “More Love to Thee, O Christ”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 845)
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”
OT: 2 Samuel 7:1-17
NT: Acts 15:1-21
The LORD Builds David a House
Shorter Catechism Q/A #34
Q. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of, the sons of God.
Monday (4/2) Read and discuss John 21:15-25. R.C. Sproul writes:
The saints, the holy ones, those called out from the world assemble together on Sunday mornings to be fed. We are to do evangelism, engage in outreach, and be involved in ministries of mercy, but Sunday morning [worship] belongs to the sheep. It is the task of the pastor and of the church to feed the sheep. If someone who is not a sheep comes in, that’s fine, but we’re not going to change the menu and give the sheep goats’ food. Worship is for the sheep.
Why did Jesus put so much emphasis on feeding the sheep? When the sheep of Christ are fed, nurtured, and filled with the strength of Christ and of His word, they become a mighty army turned loose on the world. Babies have almost no influence in a culture. Before they can turn the world upside down, they have to grow up, they have to become mature, and that happens as they are fed the Word of God. Nothing less will do.
Notice that when Jesus spoke to Peter, He did not say, “Peter, if you love Me, feed the goats.” Neither did He say, “Peter, take care of your flock; feed your sheep.” He said, “Feed My sheep, feed My lambs, tend My sheep.” He said, “If you love Me, if I make you a pastor, whatever else you do, take care of My sheep – feed them, tend them, strengthen them.” Those who are called as pastors are under-shepherds, given the task fo tending Jesus’ sheep.
Read or sing 14 “New Songs of Celebration Render” Prayer: Please pray for our Session as it meets this evening.
Tuesday (4/3) Read and discuss Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-28. In an effort to tell people the truth about the joy of being a Christian in the present, sometimes evangelicals will even use the hyperbole of saying that even if this life were all that there is – they will have been glad that they had lived it as Christians. What do you think of that? Let me say it plainly: I don’t think Paul would have approved such a notion even if it were a matter of necessity. In fact, I think that only affluent Christians who are largely free from persecution in the West could even imagine such a thing. Tell this to those Muslim converts to Christianity who have their arms cut off – or who are killed by family members for becoming Christians. Or simply consider the life of Paul himself – how frequently he was beaten or imprisoned for his faith – when he could have been a highly respected and comfortable Jewish religious leader in Jerusalem. Yes, both Paul and our persecuted brothers and sisters enjoy a deep joy in this present life. But that joy in this present life is grounded in the certain knowledge that we have been completely forgiven and justified in the present and in the certain hope that we will have a blessed life with the LORD forever in the future. That all goes away if there is no resurrection. Let me give you a simple analogy. Perhaps you are having a portion of your paycheck withheld each month in a 401(k) or a pension. You can feel good about those wages from your labor being withheld if you think about how they will provide for your needs and comfort in the future. But what if the money was being taken out and you knew that you would never see it again? Who in their right mind would feel good about that? By analogy, the reason why you can experience deep Christian joy in the midst of hard work, sacrifice, and even suffering in the present – is because you know that Christ is laying up for you an eternal weight of glory and because the impact that living for Jesus has in the present will last for all eternity as well. But if everything ends at the grave – then you might as well eat, drink, and be merry – for you no longer have a good reason to live the Christian life. Christianity stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus in the past and the resurrection of believers in the future. Thankfully, because Christ is risen – your hope in Christ will never be in vain. Read or sing Hymn: 181 “We Come, O Christ, to You” Prayer: Please pray for New England, that those pastors in our region who are not confidently proclaiming the resurrection would be soundly converted or that the LORD would remove them from their pulpits and replace them with genuine men of God.
Wednesday (4/4) Read and discuss Jeremiah 3:11-18. Elmer Martens writes:
Israel has not simply been overtaken by temptation. As an Arab is ready to ambush, so Israel has deliberately planned to be promiscuous. Language of harlotry has a double meaning: physical unfaithfulness in marriage, and spiritual disloyalty to God (sacred prostitution was part of Baal worship). Israel’s immature appeals to a supposedly indulgent father only add to the ugly picture of her evil.
Two sisters, Israel to the north and Judah to the south, are each characteristically tagged: “ever-turning” (faithless, backsliding) Israel, and “wicked” (run-away) Judah. The split of the united kingdom came after Solomon’s reign. In 722 B.C. Assyria captured Samaria and occupied Israel. In Jeremiah’s time Judah was still an independent nation but the Assyrian garrison was only a few miles away. God argues that Judah is more evil than Israel. For Israel, distressed because of God’s punishment, there is an earnest plea to return to God. For Judah, there is a short but very stern warning (4:3-4). The passage is piled with word plays on the word turn, which in its various forms occurs sixteen times. …
“Ever-turning Israel is accused of harlotry (3:6-10). Harlotry, with its overtones of desertion from the marriage partner and illicit sex, is a graphic way of describing Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. God’s harsh action in divorcing Israel by sending her into exile should have been a lesson to Judah, who not only saw all that happened, but was herself severely threatened by the Assyrians. Stone pillars, sometimes representing the male sex organ, and trees or wood poles representing the female deities were standard Baal symbols.
Instead of making the expected judgment speech, God issues a plea for “ever-turning” Israel to turn once more, this time to Him. The word play can be caught in “Come back, backsliding Israel.” Verses 12-14 contain three exhortations in as many verses: return, acknowledge, return. The word “turn” is one of the two words used for the idea of “repent.”
The appeal is persuasive. God advances reasons for Israel to return: (1) He is merciful; (2) repentance is demanded because of the breach of the covenant; (3) He is still Israel’s husband; (4) good things will follow if they repent. Among these good things are return from exile, godly leaders, shepherds, prosperity, a holiness extending to the entire city of Jerusalem rather than just the ark, a transformed heart, fulfillment of an earlier promise that nations would be blessed through Israel, and a returned and unified people.
Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD graciously leads us to repentance and pray that He would give you a tender heart that would quickly and repeatedly be turned to Jesus.
Thursday (4/5) Read and discuss Acts 15:1-21. The disaster the Jerusalem Council was trying to avert wasn’t legalism it was schism. The early Church faced the very real challenge of how Jews and Gentiles could live joyfully together in one Church. Furthermore, there was the very real hope that Jews throughout the Roman world could be reached with the good news about Jesus the Messiah. James therefore proposes that the Council adopt a two-fold strategy: (1) No needful circumcision; and (2) No needless offence. This approach continues to have great value for the Church today. N.T. Wright explains:
No needful circumcision. The Gentiles who have believed in Jesus do not have to be circumcised; that is, they do not have to become Jewish in order to become Christians. They are not second-class citizens. They are not in a separate category when it comes to salvation itself. Paul and Peter had got the result they wanted, and nothing was going to change that; the Pharisees could huff and puff but this point stood.
But no needless offence. Every city and town in the world had Jewish inhabitants at this time, according to the historian Josephus. So, wherever you went, people would be used to hearing what the Law of Moses said. And, precisely since the Christians claimed that in Jesus as Messiah the law and the prophets had been fulfilled, and because this claim was always going to be at best puzzling and at worst offensive, the Gentile Christians were encouraged not to offer needles slaps in the face to their as-yet-unbelieving Jewish neighbors. It would therefore be a great help if they would observe the most obvious points: to keep well away from pagan temples and from everything that went on in them. Though the interpretation of the decree remains controversial, it seems most likely that what James had in mind was the actual performance of the various rituals involved in pagan worship, including the drinking of blood, ritual prostitution and other orgiastic elements that – even if they were not practiced in all pagan temples all the time! – were assumed to be practiced in at least some of the temples some of the time. This would have been the most obvious and (to Jews) offensive form of continuing pagan behavior for any Christian to indulge in, and it is hardly asking a great deal for a follower of Jesus Christ to abstain from it.
Read or Sing Hymn 649 “More Love to Thee, O Christ” Prayer: Ask for the wisdom and courage to stand firmly on God’s truth without giving unnecessary offense.
Friday (4/6) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 7:1-17. Dale Ralph Davis writes:
In 2 Samuel 7 Yahweh will not permit David to build a temple-house for Him (v. 5) but insists on building a dynasty-house for David (v. 11). Not that the temple doesn’t matter; but it can wait a few years down the time-line (v. 13). It is Yahweh’s agenda here to underscore grace in order to show he is nothing like the pagan gods? Yahweh’s king does not place a claim on Yahweh’s favor by building Him a lavish temple. Instead Yahweh, the giving God, reviews past grace, lavishes more grace – and puts a temple on the back burner. You would never catch Shamash, Sin, or Asshur doing that. But then they are not the God of all grace.
Read or sing Hymn 184 “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” Prayer: Please lift up the students in our congregation that they would be able to finish the semester well.
Saturday (4/7) Read and discuss John 21:15-25. Chuck Swindoll writes:
We must come to grips with our imperfection. Peter laid aside his calling of “catching men” (Luke 5:10) because of his failure and took up a vocation in which failure wouldn’t cause as much damage to the kingdom – at least in his way of thinking. While he wanted to put it in the past and make the best of a lesser future, Jesus met it head on. He didn’t deny, minimize, rationalize, or ignore Peter’s failure. Instead, He emphasized it no less than three times, each time calling the dejected disciple to “tend My sheep.” The Lord said, in effect, “Yes, Peter, you blew it. And you’ll blow it again. Nevertheless, I want you to fulfill your calling.
Failure is inevitable. And the Lord is never surprised when we fail. It’s not as though He called us to follow Him without knowing the future! With the penalty of our sins paid in full, failure for the believer is merely a reminder to depend on Him rather than on self – to replace self-confidence with Christ-confidence.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.