24 June 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 30 “Our God Our Help in Ages Past”
Confession of Sin
Almighty and everlasting God, Glorious Creator of all things, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; We have sinned against Your holy Name, by failing to glorify You in our lives as your redeemed children. Our unthankfulness extends to every thought and deed, as well as to our failure to thank you with our lips. We have not lived to the praise of the glory of Your grace. We have not esteemed the reproach of Jesus Christ our Savior to be greater than the riches of this world. We have failed to estimate the infinite cost of the salvation won for us at the cross through the shed blood of Jesus. We have not been faithful to You as You have been faithful to us in all things. Father, forgive us for our ingratitude through the reconciling sacrifice of Jesus Christ our all-sufficient Mediator, we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Exodus 34:5-7
Hymn of Preparation: 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us”
Old Covenant Reading: Daniel 4:28-37
New Covenant: Romans 1:26-32
Sermon: Filthy and Deluded Minds
Hymn of Response: 558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 846)
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 386 “God Be with You Till We Meet Again”
OT: 2 Samuel 13:23-39
NT: James 1:19-27
Shorter Catechism Q/A #45
Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Monday (6/118) Read and discuss Romans 1:26-32. Michael Middendorf writes:
The ever-shifting ruminations of a postmodern society probably provide the ultimate illustration of the degree to which cultural approval or disapproval heavily impacts the practice of, or abstention from, numerous activities (e.g. greed, abortion, sexual immorality, premarital sex and cohabitation, homosexual conduct, pornography, swearing, etc. …). All too often, the surrounding society, which is simply comprised of individuals within it, holds up those who do the things depicted by Paul in 1:18-31 as stars and celebrities. They then become role models for imitation as well. But if theis section has made nothing else clear, it does assert that Paul was no relativistic postmodernist. Infinitely more important to his argument is the truth that God is not one either.
Read or sing Hymn 30 “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would cause His people to stand firmly in His truth.
Tuesday (6/19) Read and discuss Romans 1:18-25. The reason why ignorance of who God is and what God is like isn’t an excuse, is because nobody is in fact ignorant of who God is and what He is like. Please notice how robust Paul’s language is. Paul tells us, that “What can be known about God is plain to them.” “His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived.” And here is the key point: This knowledge isn’t simply available to everyone. According to the Apostle Paul, these truths get through to everyone. The reason why nobody can plead ignorance is because the LORD actively reveals Himself to every single human being who will ever be born through the things which He has made. We call this General Revelation, as distinct from the Special revelation that we have in the Bible. General Revelation has four main characteristics.
- First, it is “general” because this revelation is made known to everyone, everywhere, and at all times.
- Second, it is natural because it comes to us through the created order. Quite simply, the universe is constantly proclaiming the glory of the One who Created it. And people can’t escape this reality even if the close their eyes and plug up their ears – for every human being is not only part of Creation – but every human being has been created in the image and likeness of God.
- Third, general revelation is continuous. It goes on day after day since the creation of the world until now.
- Fourth, general revelation reveals some attributes of God – such as His eternal power and godhead – so that every creature knows that he owes his Creator worship and gratitude. But general revelation does not include a plan of salvation. For that we have to turn God’s revelation in Jesus Christ and in the special revelation of Holy Scripture.
That may seem like a lot to take in, but Paul’s point is rather straightforward. Because God clearly reveals Himself through Creation to everyone who has ever lived or ever will live – there simply is no such thing as an innocent person who just happens to have a different religion. Read or Sing Hymn 599 “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” Prayer: Ask the LORD to protect the young people of our congregation from the lie of moral relativism.
Wednesday (6/20) Read and discuss Daniel 4:28-37. Are you proud? That’s a tricky question to answer. Pride seems to be so pervasive while humility seems to be so elusive. There is a story told about the ancient Philosophers Diogenes and Plato. One day Diogenes goes over to Plato’s house where he is appalled at the exquisite and expensive rugs Plato that had on the floor. To show his contempt, Diogenes stamped and wiped his feet on the rugs saying: “So I trample on the pride of Plato.” To this Plato slyly replied: “With even greater pride.” That’s one of the problems with pursuing humility – we can easily end up proud about how humble we have become. True humility comes not from seeking humility but from, by God’s grace, seeking God. There is a second tricky issue in dealing with pride, at least for English speakers, and that is we use the word pride to refer to two different things. The first of these is good while the second is bad. The “good” way in which we use the word “pride” is to refer to the satisfaction we might have from a job well done (Whether it is a beautiful garden we have planted, excellent and elegant computer code that we have written, or a nice meal that we have prepared). To have this sort of satisfaction is actually a natural consequence of being created in the image of God. The bad type of pride is haughty and self-absorbed. We see this illustrated in verse 30 where Nebuchadnezzar boasts: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” It is difficult to read this sentence without emphasizing the personal pronouns. While “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” Nebuchadnezzar’s chief end was to glorify himself. Here is the sixty-four thousand dollar question? How do we know whether our pride is the good sort of pride or the bad sort of pride? The answer is to think about it in relationship to God: Are you filled with thankfulness that God gave you the skills and the opportunity to do this? If so than you are clearly on the right track. If, on the other hand, you are proud of the way this reflects on “number 1” and you have some deluded idea that “number 1” refers to you – then you need to have a change of heart. The truth is that we all tend to have mixed motives that are in need of reformation. Thankfully, reforming the heart is something that God is both willing and able to do. Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you a gentle heart.
Thursday (6/21) Read and discuss James 1:19-27. How would you like to inherit Ten Million Dollars? That pales in comparison to being among those who will inherit the whole earth. Since it is the meek who will inherit the earth it is worth pursuing meekness and this begins with understanding what meekness is. We need to remind ourselves that meekness does not mean weakness. The characteristic meek man in the Old Testament was Moses (Numbers 12:3: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth”) and the characteristic meek man in the New Testament is Jesus (Matthew 11:29: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”). No one but a complete fool would describe either Moses or Jesus as being weak. Rather than weakness, meekness is a posture of submission to and confidence in the Living God. Today’s passage gives us a picture of what this looks like in practice:
- “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
- “Put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word.”
- “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
- “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
The very fact that “the meek shall inherit the earth” reminds us that this is not a self-help program. Nevertheless, we are to be pursuing sanctification even while we recognize it as a gift from God. To be around people who reflect the above four points is an incredible blessing. Don’t you want to be that sort of blessing to others? Read or Sing Hymn 558 “That Man Is Blest Who, Fearing God” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Providence Presbyterian Church in West Lebanon, NH.
Friday (6/22) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 13:23-39. John Woodhouse writes:
The shortcomings of David’s kingdom are on display again. But do not be deluded into thinking that any other human society does any better. It is a very serious thing to pray, “Your kingdom come” because we are asking God to sort out vengeance in His way, not ours. God’s way involves forgiveness. Some will not like that. God’s way also involves “vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Are you sure that you want to pray for God’s kingdom to come?
Of course, it isn’t simply about wanting to pray for God’s kingdom to come. Jesus commands us to pray in this way. The call is for us to become more and more devoted to Christ’s Kingdom and its righteousness – that we pray for its advance whatever the consequences might be. Read or sing Hymn 386 “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Iran. Pray for greater religious freedom and their continued boldness in sharing the gospel in the midst of persecution.
Saturday (6/23) Read and discuss Romans 1:26-32. Commenting on verse 29, R.C. Sproul writes:
Covetousness is the sign of someone who does not want God in his thinking. When we covet someone else’s property or prestige or job, we are saying, “God is not just in giving it to that person but not giving it to me.” The minute we are envious and jealous of another, we have banished god from our minds.
I read a book on a new phenomenon called the “emergent church,” which I hope is another fad that will go away as fast as it came. One of the gurus of the emergent church boasted that in the last ten years of his preaching, he has never once mentioned the word sin. He has not wanted to destroy people’s identity and self-worth, their ego. I have mentioned the word sin more times in this study than that man has in his entire lifetime. You cannot read a page of sacred Scripture without dealing with the fundamental problem of our humanity.
John Calvin had the highest view of human beings of any theologian in history, as far as I know. Some think otherwise in light of all Calvin said about man’s total depravity, but the reason why Calvin takes sin so seriously is that he takes people so seriously. The reason God takes sin so seriously is not that He is a bully or a killjoy who does not want His creatures to have any fun. God takes sin seriously because He knows how destructive sin is to this world and to our friends, to family, and to marriage. God has a better idea for what humans are to experience, and in His ultimate plan of redemption He will banish sin from His world altogether.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.