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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 15 July 2018

15 July 2018

Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3

Opening Hymn: 110 “Halleluiah, Praise Jehovah”

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: Hebrews 8:10-12

Hymn of Preparation:  55 “To God Be the Glory”

Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

New Covenant Reading: Romans 2:12-16

Sermon: The Law Written on Their Hearts

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

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Diaconal Offering

Doxology (Hymn 732)

Closing Hymn: 470 “How Vast the Benefits Devine”

PM Worship

OT: 2 Samuel 15:13-37

NT: Philippians 2:25-30

A Time for Weeping

Shorter Catechism Q/A #48

Q. What are we specially taught by these words before mein the first commandment?
A. These words before me in the first commandment teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (7/9) Read and discuss Romans 2:12-16. It can be difficult for people to make a transition from one era to another. Believe it or not, Blockbuster Video was once a thriving company whose profitable and booming business came from the new technology of VCRs. Since you can’t inexpensively send VCRs through the mail, customers had to go to their local video store to rent a video and then to return it in a day or two. Blockbuster was by far the most successful chain in this business. At its height they employed over 84,000 people. But then the technology moved from videos to DVDs. DVDs were small and light enough to ship through the mail – which gave birth to Netflix. For several years, Blockbuster had the opportunity to completely dominate the mail-order business – but they stuck with their highly profitable video store business which had made the company. Then Internet use really took off. Yet, Blockbuster, fixated on its past glory – totally missed the transition. Video Tapes were good. DVDs were better. On demand downloads were far better. Yet, somehow, a company whose business was renting entertainment to retail customers clung to what was once good and entirely missed that which was far better. That may seem like a special circumstance, but this is a story that could be told hundreds of times simply with the names and details slightly changed. This shows how difficult it can be for people who identified with something that was once genuinely good to let it go in order to fully embrace that which is better. In today’s passage, Paul is dealing with this very issue. Both Jewish Christians, and undoubtedly some Gentile converts to Christianity, were clinging so tightly to the outward signs of the Old Covenant – a covenant that was genuinely good – that they were at risk of missing that the New Covenant with its fuller blessings had arrived. To make matters worse, they seem to have been condemning those Gentile Christians who were delighting in the reality of the New Covenant. Paul seeks to correct this error for both of their sakes. Read or sing Hymn 110 “Halleluiah, Praise Jehovah” Prayer: Please pray for our Session and Diaconate as they meet together this evening.

Tuesday (7/10) Read and discuss Psalm 19. Commenting on verse 13, Calvin writes:

All mankind are naturally enslaved to sin, and the faithful themselves would become the bond-slaves of sin also, if God did not unceasingly watch over them to guide them in the path of holiness, and to strengthen them for persevering in it. We ought never to pray for pardon, without, at the same time, asking to be strengthened and fortified by the power of God for the time to come, that temptations, in future, may not gain advantage over us. The remedy to which we should have recourse is to pray to God to restrain us.

Read or Sing Hymn 55 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would keep turning you away from your sins and back to Jesus Christ.

Wednesday (7/11) Read and discuss Jeremiah 31:31-34. Lessing and Steinmann write:

The motif of the “new covenant” (Jer 31:31) is central to the New Testament’s understanding of Christ. Jesus came because God “remembered his holy covenant” (Luke 1:72) and the Savior refers directly to Jeremiah’s prophecy when he says that the Holy Supper is “my blood of the new covenant” (Luke 22:20). Christ’s covenant blood was shed not because he had been unfaithful but because humanity had rebelled against its Creator. His blood is poured out “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28). With these words the Savior also links his new covenant with the one described by Jeremiah. It is the “blood of the eternal covenant (Hebrews 13:20; cf Jeremiah 32:40).

Prayer: Give thanks for the greater blessings we enjoy under the New Covenant than even the greatest saints enjoyed in the Old.

Thursday (7/12) Read and discuss Philippians 2:25-30. Peter T. O’Brien writes:

This short paragraph shows Paul to be a man of great tenderness who writes warmly, even glowingly, of his friend and colleague from Philippi. Although his own needs are not entirely forgotten, they are secondary to his concern for the well-being of others, that is, Epaphroditus and the Philippians. “His friendliness appears here in its depth and sincerity, and just as before it has been forged in the service of the gospel, in struggles and suffering (J.F. Collange).

The apostle focusses attention on this member of the Philippian congregation, not only in order to inform them of what has happened to their fellow Christian and to explain his return with the letter itself, but also to provided them with still another striking illustration of the self-sacrificing service that is demanded of all Christians; in other words, to give a further godly example of the way the Philippians should imitate Christ.

Read or Sing Hymn 708 “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela who continue to struggle with a nation that is falling apart.

Friday (7/13) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 15:13-37.  It is remarkable to compare the David of tonight’s passage with the David that we have been looking at for the past few chapters. The LORD was sending a trial into David’s life and he responds with both humility and wisdom. It is also worth comparing today’s passage to the firsts 12 verses of 2 Samuel 15 that we looked at last week. The contrast between David and Absalom in this chapter could not be more stark. Consider just two of the examples as commented on by Tony Cartledge:

David’s encounter with Zadok and Abiathar is revealing. David will not attempt to manipulate Yahweh by means of the ark, which he recognizes as a dangerous game. Rather, he will entrust his future to God’s will and his own wits. …

The series of meeting scenes is interrupted by an observation revealing that David is not dispassionate or uncaring about his future. As he climbed the familiar path up the Mount of Olives, he assumed a mourning posture, with tears on his cheeks, a covering over his head, and nothing on his feet. The reader must know that David does not leave the city lightly or easily, but freighted with grief and burdened by a heavy heart.

Read or sing Hymn 470 “How Vast the Benefits Devine” Prayer: Pray that the LORD would use the hardships which come into your life to shape you into a greater man or woman of God.

Saturday (7/14) Read and discuss Romans 2:12-16. Since there was no punctuation in the earliest manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, punctuation is an interpretation added by the translators. Most of the time, we don’t notice this because the punctuation is either obviously correct or it doesn’t fundamentally change the meaning. Romans 2:14 is an exception to that rule and everything hangs on where we place a comma. The ESV puts a comma after “who do not have the law.”

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

By contrast, the Christian Standard Bible puts the comma after “nature.”

So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law.

These two different translations not only sound different they actually mean different things. The ESV makes it seem like these Gentiles, who do not have the law – somehow “by nature do what the law requires.” There are several problems with this. The most obvious problem is that Paul is not dealing with some generic moral law that Gentiles have through natural revelation, but as verse 12 makes clear; Paul is dealing with the Law given to Israel through special revelation. To read the passage the way the ESV punctuates it means that there are people – who though they don’t have God’s special revelation of law somehow keep it. But that can’t be right. While both translations are interpretations, that of the Christian Standard Version makes better sense in the context of Paul’s larger argument:

So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law.

That is, when we divide up the world into Jews and Gentiles we realize that God specifically gave his special revelation to the Jews. They have God’s Law “by nature.” By contrast, the Gentile as Gentiles do not have this special revelation. But now that Christ has come, some of these Gentiles have been called into the Church, where they not only have God’s Law taught externally but rather where the LORD has written this Law on their hearts. That is, as Gentiles they have been made members of the New Covenant which the LORD had promised through Jeremiah more than five centuries earlier. Paul’s point is that those who glory in external possession of the Law shouldn’t be condemning those who are actually keeping the Law through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit now that Christ has come. Peter makes a similar argument for why he originally baptized Gentiles without first having them circumcised. When those of “the circumcision party” criticized Peter, he responded:

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.