14 October 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3
Opening Hymn: 474 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”
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: Psalm 130:7-8
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 62A
Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 52:1-10
New Covenant Reading: Romans 5:1-5
Sermon: Peace, Access, and Joy in the Midst of Suffering
Hymn of Response: 458 “O Fountain of Unceasing Grace”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 335 “Praise the Savior Now and Ever”
OT: 2 Samuel 22:1-20
NT: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3
Our Shield and Deliverer
Shorter Catechism Q/A #61
Q. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.
Monday (10/8) Read and discuss Romans 5:1-5. Doug Moo writes:
With the words “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,” Paul signals an important transition in his argument. He has established the truth of justification by faith in chapters 1-4. Now he will elaborate the results of the new status God has given us in Christ.
One of those results is “peace with God.” “Peace” is a rich biblical word. Our English word “peace” … often has a negative sense: the absence of hostility. But the Old Testament and Jewish conception of peace, shalom, was much more positive, connoting a general sense of harmonious well-being. … This peace is the objective state of harmony with God that believers who have been justified enjoy.
Read or sing Hymn 474 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee” Prayer: Give thanks to the LORD that He loves you based on who He is rather than on what you are like.
Tuesday (10/9) Read and discuss Matthew 5:43-48. Michael J. Wilkins writes:
To love one’s enemies doesn’t mean that Jesus’ disciples must condone their behavior, but it does mean that we are so engaged in their lives that we are used by God to reconcile them to him and to bring them into alignment with God’s will for their lives. We are to love as God loves.
There are two important clues to the reason why we must love as God loves. (1) We have a new heart of love. Through the new birth, a change has been made in the spiritual heart of the believer by God’s love for us. This new heart impels us to love with God’s love. We love, not because we are so loving but because God first loved us and made a change in our hearts, which impels us to love. (2) We have an endless supply of God’s love by which the new heart can continually put forth love. It is God’s love that has brought us life, and it is his love in us that guarantees we will love others, even our enemies. God is love, and he is infinite, so he has an infinite supply of love. As we open our hearts to him, his love pours into our hearts and then overflows to those around us.
Read or Sing Psalm 62A Prayer: Ask the LORD to use the difficulties in your life to turn you to faithful prayer rather than allowing these challenges to become obstacles in your relationship with God.
Wednesday (10/10) Read and discuss Isaiah 52:1-10. On the Fourth of July Americans celebrate Independence Day to commemorate when our nation first declared itself to be a sovereign power. Yet, even a cursory familiarity with history makes it difficult to paint the British Empire as tyrannical oppressors. Israel could only have wished that they had been “oppressed” in this way. Isaiah had lived through the assaults of the Assyrians, who were among the most brutal people who had ever lived. Then he prophesied of Judah being taken into the Babylonian captivity. While the Babylonians were more civilized than the Assyrians, they did force the majority of the Jewish people to move more than five hundred miles away to a strange land where they would have to do whatever the king of Babylon told them to do. Yet, Isaiah 52 is promising a freedom from this bondage. More than mere freedom, Israel would be lifted up and exalted. Isaiah was promising a second Exodus where the people would be delivered not only to freedom and security but to being the LORD’s true people:
Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I.”
When would this glorious event take place? If we stopped reading here we could easily imagine that this might take place in the fifth century B.C. when the LORD would bring Israel back into their land. But if we keep reading through Isaiah 52 and 53 we see that this freedom, security, and joy is intimately tied up with the substitutionary death of the Suffering Servant. It is only with Christ’s victory over Satan, sin, and death that the Second Exodus is truly accomplished. Living on this side of redemption accomplished, let us lift our voices to sing of Christ’s victory and let us rejoice in the Good News that He brings. Prayer: Please lift up the Supreme Court of the United States in prayer.
Thursday (10/11) Read and discuss 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. N.T. Wright comments:
Paul once again turns to the church and its needs. They will, he is confident, continue to live in the way that he has taught them, incredible though it may seem that a group who a few months ago had never thought of living a Christian lifestyle should continue to do so. What they need, if they are to be able to sustain this life, is, once more, the rooting of their hearts and lives, not in any pressure, not in any agenda from another human being, but in the love of God and the patience of the Messiah. Go on focusing heart and mind on Jesus Himself, Paul says, and as you meditate on His patience, and His strength under suffering, something of that patience will be given to you.
Read or sing Hymn 458 “O Fountain of Unceasing Grace” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters who live in predominantly Islamic countries. Ask that the LORD would protect them from harm, but also that He would strengthen them to face even the severest persecution by trusting in Him. Pray that Christ would open doors for the building of His Church in those areas that seem most mired in the darkness of Islam.
Friday (10/12) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 22:1-20. Commenting on verses 5 through 7, John Woodhouse writes:
This is a poetic description of the many occasions when David’s life was threatened. The particulars are overlooked as the threat is pictured, first as a raging flood threatening to overwhelm him, then as an animal trap threatening to ensnare him The forces assailing him were “death,” “destruction,” “Sheol” (a Hebrew name for the place of the dead), and (again) “death.”
The language is extreme because David was not thinking of minor difficulties to be overcome, small problems to be solved. He was threatened with utter destruction. Whether it was Goliath, Saul, or any number of others, their objective was nothing less than David’s death and the annihilation of his kingdom (of the prospect of his kingdom).
Most of us have experienced something like this. Perhaps in our rather comfortable and peaceful age we do not feel this so acutely or frequently. But even for us there are times when we feel that chaos threatens to undo our lives; we can no longer cope with the pressures that are on us, we are afraid that everything is going to collapse around us or the bottom is about to fall out of our lives. And of course, like David, we are all confronted by death. We know what David was talking about, even if, perhaps many of us do not know it as intensely and as often as he did.
David’s testimony is, “In my distress I called upon the LORD … From His temple [here that means “from heaven’] He heard my voice, and my cry came to His ears.”
Perhaps you can echo David’s testimony here. Is this what you have done when trouble threatens to overwhelm you? Have you called upon the LORD? Have there been occasions when you know that the LORD has heard your desperate cry? Again, however, we must listen to David speak of his experience as God’s king.
Read or sing Hymn 458 “O Fountain of Unceasing Grace” Prayer: Ask the LORD to grant you a good witness amongst your unbelieving neighbors, fellow-students, and co-workers.
Saturday (10/13) Read and discuss Romans 5:1-5. Doug Moo writes:
Paul’s claim that we have continuing “access” to grace and that we “stand” in it reveals the importance of the term grace for him. Grace reminds us that God intervenes on behalf of his rebellious creation out of his own free will and without any obligation. While God always acts in grace, so radical and so far-reaching in his intervention on our behalf in Christ that the word can be especially applied to the event of justification and its consequences. But what we sometimes forget, and what Paul’s words in 5:2 remind us of, is that grace stands over the entire Christian experience. We not only get into relationship with God by grace; we live out that relationship day-by-day by grace. Thus, we must never fall into the trap of thinking that we can put grace behind us.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.