29 July 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 116 “For the Beauty of the Earth”
Confession of Sin
Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done. And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us. But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent; According to Your promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father; For His sake; That we may hereby live a godly, righteous, and sober life; To the glory of Your holy name. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 10:16-18
Hymn of Preparation: 80 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”
Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 30:1-6
New Covenant Reading: Romans 2:25-29
Sermon: The Praise of God
Hymn of Response: 649 “More Love to Thee, O Christ”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1
Doxology (Hymn 732)
Closing Hymn: 561 “LORD Speak to Me that I May Speak”
OT: 2 Samuel 16:15-23
NT: Ephesians 6:1-4
Dishonoring His Father
Shorter Catechism Q/A #50
Q. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.
Monday (7/23) Read and discuss Romans 2:25-29. R.C. Sproul writes:
I was reared in a very liberal church but nonetheless we were required to go through catechism class. There were about thirty of us in the class, and when it was all over, we had to be examined in front of the whole congregation. We all passed the test, and on Maundy Thursday we were confirmed. After our confirmation we had our first Communion. I remember afterward standing in the foyer of the church, and one of my buddies asked what I had thought about it. They had given us paper-thin wafers, and I said, “The stuff tasted like fish food,” and we all laughed. A woman turned to me and said, “How can you talk about Communion like that?” I thought, What’s the big deal? I had obviously trampled on something sacred to her. Despite three months of catechism, of giving a credible profession of faith before the elders, and taking my first Communion, I did not have the slightest understanding of what the Lord’s Supper is all about.
I have kept in touch with some who were in that class with me, and I know of only two who are professing Christians today. It is assumed we are in the kingdom of God just because we were baptized, joined a church, or got confirmed. We look on outward appearances; God looks on the heart. In the final analysis, the circumcision or baptism that matters [most] is that of the heart. I am not saying that we should do away with the external – Jesus made it clear that we are to use the signs of the covenant for the world to see. But we must always remember that they do not save us [apart from faith]. Our justification, as we will see, is by faith alone. My mother’s faith cannot save me, nor can my father’s or my sister’s or my wife’s. I have to have it, and it has to be in the heart.
Read or sing Hymn 48 “O LORD Most High With All My Heart” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would give you a tender hear that would love Him all the days of your life.
Tuesday (7/24) Read and discuss Romans 2:17-24. But here is the key thing that I want you to get. Paul doesn’t simply rummage around in the Old Testament for some verse that makes this point. For one thing, there are hundreds and hundreds of Old Testament passages that make this point. When Paul writes: “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” He is quoting from Isaiah 52:5 – and he is doing so precisely because Isaiah 52 and 53 lay out the case that he wants his readers in Rome to understand. What comes after Isaiah 52:5? … Just so you don’t think I wasted 8 years in graduate school, I’m going to tell you … It’s Isaiah 52:6 and 7. There the LORD says:
Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.”
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Do you see it? God’s answer is not to tell the Jews that they need to straighten up and fly right. God’s answer to the Jews, behaving so badly that they cause God’s name to be blasphemed amongst the Gentiles, is not to tell them that they need to try harder. God’s answer is to announce the Gospel. Isaiah and Paul join their voices to thunder across the centuries that “We are to glory in Jesus Christ and to place no confidence in [our own] flesh.” Read or Sing Hymn 100 “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to cause you to glory in Christ and in Christ alone!
Wednesday (7/25) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 30:1-6. The book of Deuteronomy largely consists of a series of sermons given by Moses to prepare the people of Israel for entering the Promised Land. The book has a covenant structure which largely follows the Hittite Treaty pattern. This is because Yahweh has entered into a treaty (covenant) with His people Israel. Remember the basic treaty structure is:
- The LORD rescued Israel from their bondage in Egypt entirely as an act of His grace. He gave them water to drink and manna to eat in the wilderness. Now He was bringing them into the Promised Land. They didn’t earn or merit any of these things. They were all gifts of God’s grace. The LORD’s covenants with people alwaysbegin with His gracious provision.
- As God’s people the Israelites were to live in a certain way that reflected the fact that they were now His people. In terms of the legal stipulation, the centerpiece was the Ten Commandments. Even more fundamentally, they were to live by trusting the LORD. That is, they were to live by faith.
- The preceding chapters of Deuteronomy have laid out the blessings that would come from living by faith (i.e. obedience) and the curses that would come from spurning the LORD (disobedience).
Sadly, chapter 30 begins not by looking forward to the blessings that Israel will enjoy in the Promised Lands but to their being exiled from the Land because of their faithlessness. Here is where the LORD “breaks” the Hittite Treaty pattern in His covenant with Israel. Under the Hittite Treaty structure disobedience meant death with no possibility of restoring the relationship. But today’s passage tells us that repentance and a restoration of the relationship between God and man is possible. No! Today’s passage says much more than this. It says that the LORD, through His sovereign grace will bring repentance to pass. Note well that the LORD not only responds to repentance. He is the One who gives repentance by circumcising the hearts of those He calls to Himself (v. 6). That is why the Shorter Catechism defines repentance unto life in these words:
Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.
Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would build up our church.
Thursday (7/26) Read and discuss Ephesians 6:1-4. Thomas Winger writes:
Paul’s [concern], therefore, despite its legal appearance, is more concerned with promise and blessing than with obedience, reward, and punishment. What is crucial is that he sees God at work in the institution of marriage and family. Parents are to be honored and children cared for because they are set in order by God and convey his gifts. In this perspective Paul is rooted in the OT itself. His appeal to the Fourth Commandment as “the first commandment with a promise” is not unique. Other Jewish theologians had appealed to the promise inherent in the commandment. …
… Paul’s appeal to the promise contained in the Fourth Commandment is not an end int itself. All the commandments stem from the First. To violate any commandment is to lack the fear, love, and trust of God. To steal, for example, is to refuse to trust that God has provided everything one needs for this body and life. To commit adultery is to reject God’s provision of a wife or husband, thus, to reject God. So also, to obey the Fourth Commandment is to obey the First, for by heeding father and mother, children are acknowledging and trusting the God who placed their parents over them.
Prayer: Please pray for our missionaries in Uraguay.
Friday (7/27) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 16:15-23. Hushai’s words are brilliantly ambiguous. They count on the fact that Absalom, with his narcissism, will interpret them one way – while Hushai, in his heart, means something very different. John Woodhouse writes:
Husahai’s insistence that he will belong to the one “whom the LORD … has chosen” (v. 18) must have been taken by Absalom as a remarkable endorsement of his aspirations. Absalom had not been so bold as to make that claim, but I am sure he did not mind at all if someone else (especially Hushai) made it for him. However, for Hushai the one “whom the LORD has chosen” would always be David.
The reference to the one whom “this people and all the men of Israel have chosen” obviously meant Absalom, if you heard it with Absalom’s ears. Had he not stolen their hearts and been acclaimed king “throughout all the tribes of Israel”? However, Husai had a longer memory and knew that “all the tribes of Israel” through “all the elders of Israel” had “anointed David king over Israel.”
Therefore, when Hushai said, “With him I will remain” (16:18). Absalom understood it as a pledge of loyalty to him as the new chosen one. Hushai’s secret meaning, however, was that his heart and soul would always be “with” David.
Read or sing Hymn 598 “Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would make you a man or woman of great moral courage.
Saturday (7/21) Read and discuss Romans 2:25-29. John Stott writes:
If the Jews’ possession and knowledge of the law did not exempt them from the judgment of God, neither did their circumcision. To be sure, circumcision was a God-given sign and seal of his covenant with them. But it was not a magical ceremony or a charm. It did not provide them with permanent insurance cover against the wrath of God. It was no substitute for obedience; it constituted rather a commitment to obedience. Yet the Jews had an almost superstitious confidence in the saving power of their circumcision. Rabbinic epigrams expressed it. For example, “Circumcised men do not descend into Gehenna,” and “Circumcision will deliver Israel from Gehenna.”
How does Paul counter this false assurance? He begins with an epigram of his own: Circumcision has value if you observe the law. He does not deny the divine origin of circumcision, but he relativizes its value on the ground that he who is circumcised ‘is required to obey the whole law.’ For circumcision is the sign of covenant membership, and covenant membership demands obedience. On this basis, namely that circumcision and the law belong together in God’s covenant, Paul now makes two bold complementary statements. On the one hand, if you who are circumcised break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. On the other hand, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? We may perhaps express Paul’s double assertion in terms of two simple equations. Circumcision minus obedience equals uncircumcision, while uncircumcision plus obedience equals circumcision.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.