7 October 2018 – The Rev Allen Harris Preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 238 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”
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: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hymn of Preparation: 281 “Rejoice, the Lord is King”
Old Covenant Reading: Habakkuk 3:16-19
New Covenant Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
Sermon: Always? Yes, Always!
Hymn of Response: 528 “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart”
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism Q/A #1 (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 520 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”
PM Worship – The Rev. Allen Harris Preaching
OT: Habakkuk 3:16-19
NT: Philippians 4:4-7
Where Your Heart Can Find Rest
Shorter Catechism Q/A #60
Q. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.
Monday (10/1) Read and discuss Philippians 4:4-9. In light of what Christ has done for us, how then should we think? Because believing the right things is so important, we naturally want to emphasize that we should think in such a way as to embrace the truth and to shun errors and lies. That is where Paul begins but it is not where he ends. Consider what you think about in a typical day and compare that to what Paul calls us to meditate on: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If we take this seriously we will realize that there are many things which are true that we should avoid filling our minds with. A significant portion of the modern news industry is designed to entice us to watch/see commercials for things we don’t need by telling us true but often degrading stories that offer nothing of value to our lives. This is frequently the case with social media as well. The problem is that we become what we think about. If we fill our minds with defiling and dishonorable images we will fail to become the type of people who lift others up. Paul is not calling Christians to stick our heads in the sand. Because we have glimpsed the holiness of God, Christians should be more aware of the wretchedness of a fallen world than anyone else. Yet, it is one thing to recognize filth it is another thing altogether to roll around in it. Here is the hard part: Modern American culture promotes filling your mind with things that are worthy of shame. We cannot respond rightly to Paul’s admonition unless we do so self-consciously. Take a few minutes to think about the shows you watch, the news and web pages you regularly read, and the music you listen to. Then compare what you are now filling your mind with to what God wants you to fill your mind with. If you need to make some changes (we all do!) – why not start today? Read or sing Hymn 233 “O Father, You Are Sovereign” Prayer: Ask the LORD to make your heart good soil for His word – that the word of God would produce a vast crop of good fruit in your life.
Tuesday (10/2) Read and discuss James 5:7-11. It is a simple fact of life: One of the great keys to achievement is persistence and the ability to delay gratification. Regrettably, American culture has embraced instant gratification as a virtue that even impacts our very young children. In one study, “Priscilla Blinco gave large groups of Japanese and American first graders a very difficult puzzle and measured how long they worked at it before they gave up. The American children lasted, on average, 9.47 minutes. The Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes, roughly 40 percent longer (Malcolm Gladwell).” This persistence gap is one of the reasons why Americans lag so badly behind places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, and Japan in Math. We also need to squarely face the spiritual implications of this shortcoming. Since the wages of sin are death sinning is obviously an irrational thing to do … yet we all continue to sin. The reason isn’t because sin is better but because it is immediate. James is calling us to work hard for a season like farmers who must wait for the day when the crops will come in. Patience and persistence in the face of hardship has always been a tough sell so James gives us two significant pieces of encouragement: (1) First, against the backdrop of eternity with the LORD, our time of waiting for the harvest is actually quite short (In a similar vein, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”). (2) Second, we should consider the character of the LORD that He “is compassionate and merciful”. Be patient and persistent. It is worth it. Read or Sing Hymn 536 “Jesus Calls Us” Prayer: Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His mercies endure forever!
Wednesday (10/3) Read and discuss Habakkuk 3:16-19. F.F. Bruce writes:
In the earlier days \the Israelite smallholder was instructed to present a basket containing “some of the first of all the fruit of the ground” at Yahweh’s altar and to acknowledge Yahweh’s goodness to his people in rescuing them from Egypt and bringing them into the fertile land where they now lived. Then, the instruction went on: “You … shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house” (Deut. 26:1-11).
Habakkuk has no first fruits to present. Even so, he says, “I will rejoice in the LORD; I will exult in the God of my salvation.” It is right and proper to voice appreciation of God’s goodness when he bestows all that is necessary for life, health, and prosperity. But when these things are lacking, to rejoice in God for his own sake is evidence of pure faith. The vision of God has had its effect on the prophet, and now, with no visible means of support, he receives strength from the God in whom he trusts. As the sure-footed hind makes its way in rocky and precipitous places without slipping, so the prophet’s faith empowers him to surmount his adversities. … God will act when the time comes, granting relief from famine and deliverance from oppression, but here and now he is himself his people’s strength.
Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey Presbyterian Church in Jaffrey, NH.
Thursday (10/4) Read and discuss Mark 10:46-52. Christ’s encounter with Bartimaeus continues the theme found in verse 31: “But many who are first shall be last, and the last first.” It is interesting to compare blind Bartimaeus with the rich young ruler. Bartimaeus was a nobody – a virtual social outcast. When he cried out to Jesus for help the crowd told him to be quiet (In this way Barimaeus was very much like the young children that the disciples were trying to keep from “bothering” Jesus). The rich young ruler identifies Jesus as “good teacher” but Christ’s response unmasks the fact that this man doesn’t really know what he is saying. Bartimaeus identifies Jesus as the Messiah (“Son of David”) and has confidence that Jesus can do far more than impart a few words of good advice. The rich young ruler clung to his goods and left Jesus while Bartimaeus flung aside his goods (The cloak in verse 50 was almost certainly spread on the ground to collect donations. In throwing it aside, Bartimaeus was casting off his life of begging.) and followed Jesus (v. 52). As Lig Duncan has so aptly put it, “Either Jesus will separate you from the world, or the world will separate you from Jesus.” There is a wonderful irony in the fact that the blind beggar is the one who sees things most clearly – even when compared to Christ’s inner circle of disciples who were just recently seeking positions of great glory. The most significant note in this story is what the man did once his eyes were opened and he could see. Bartimaeus immediately followed Jesus on the way. Read or sing Hymn 272 “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has made you part of His Kingdom of Priests – and ask that you would be faithful in that role.
Friday (10/5) Read and discuss Ephesians 4:25-32. At first it might seem odd that Paul would include the admonition not to steal in a letter to Christians. However, if we really think about what the 8th commandment means we will realize that desiring things which we don’t have can be a temptation for us throughout our Christian lives. Stealing is about far more than breaking into someone’s house and walking out with their silver. It includes things like illegally downloading songs or software, tax evasion, the failure to pay workers their full wages, and dishonesty on an employee’s time sheet. John Stott observes that “in echoing the commandment (let the thief no longer steal), the Apostle goes beyond the prohibition and draws out its positive implications. It is not enough that the thief stops stealing. Let him start working, doing honest work with his hands, earning his own living. Then he will be able not only to support himself and his family, but also to give to the thief in need. Instead of sponging on the community, as thieves do, he will start contributing to it. And none but Christ can transform a burglar into a benefactor!” Read or sing Hymn 466 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” Prayer: Ask the LORD to strengthen your faith as you meditate upon His word and seek to live in light of what His word says.
Saturday (10/6) Read and discuss Philippians 4:4-7. It has been rightly said that having anxiety is like paying interest on debts that may never come due. Anxiety can sap the joy and fruitfulness out of our lives that our Father wants His children to experience. One of the major causes of anxiety is having the wrong people in charge of things that need to get done. In incompetent boss can cause a great deal of anxiety among his or her employees; and if the pilot is serving coffee while the flight attendant is trying to land the plane – then there is every reason to be anxious. Christians often become anxious when we forget that it is not our job to run the universe – even a small portion of it. Oddly, many of us think it is a good idea to entrust some things to God while trying to work out other parts of life on our own. N.T. Wright insightfully observes that “People sometimes say today that one shouldn’t bother God about trivial requests (fine weather for the church picnic; a parking space in a busy street); but, though of course our intercessions should normally focus on serious and major matters, we note that Paul says we should ask God about every area of life.” Or as we sing in the hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus:
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.