2 December 2018 – The Rev. Gary Moore Preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 564 “Love Divine, All Love Excelling”
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: Psalm 86:5-7
Hymn of Preparation: 172 “Speak, O Lord”
Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 1:1-2:4
New Covenant Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-6:2
Sermon: The Man, The Book, and The Message
Hymn of Response: 453 “Just as I AM, without One Plea”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 276 “Jesus Paid it All”
OT: Isaiah 5
NT: Matthew 10:16-42
Shorter Catechism Q/A #68
Q. What is required in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.
Monday (11/26) Read and discuss Isaiah 1:1-9. Alec Motyer writes:
‘I don’t seem to be able to help it. It’s in my nature.’ Well, yes, that is certainly one way of looking at our sinful ways: it’s doing what ‘comes naturally,’ and different weaknesses and flaws in different people come out in different ways. But as an excuse, it goes nowhere! What ‘nature’ are we talking about? Our ‘old nature’ before we knew Jesus, or the new nature that is God’s gift to us in Christ? It is still possible to find old school buildings with ‘Boys’ carved in the stonework over the door, ‘Girls’ over another, and over a third ‘Mixed Infants.’ This side of heaven, we are all ‘mixed infants,’ the Spirit fighting the flesh, and the flesh the Spirit, the mind serving the law of God and the flesh the law of sin. It is all there in Isaiah 1:4. On the one hand the four nouns of privilege: we are his people and nation – the redeemed; the chosen ‘seed’; his sons. On the other hand, the four descriptions of shame: sinning, iniquity, evildoers, acting corruptly. There’s a war on, but, says Isaiah, in this war it is strictly unnatural for the Christian to choose the way of sin and leave the path of privilege. Look at the beasts. The ox naturally turns to its owner, and the donkey naturally eats its owner’s food. It is living according to its true nature. So, what about us? Which nature do we choose to make dominant? Which master do we love to be with? What food are we nourishing ourselves on? Where are we turning for shelter and vitality?
Read or sing Hymn 564 “Love Divine, All Love Excelling” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Tuesday (11/27) Read and discuss Romans 6:8-14. How do we win the victory over the Egypt that still remains in us? We win the victory by believing the truth and therefore constantly reminding ourselves that we have been decisively delivered out of Egypt and that there is no going back! The term translated “consider” in “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God” is an accounting term. You can think of it something like this: Imagine that you are running a small shop. At the end of the day, you are anxious about whether or not you have enough money to pay all your bills – but you add up all the money in the register and discover that you have more than enough. Adding up that money didn’t add a single dime to your wealth; but it did something very valuable – it made you aware of your wealth and therefore relieved your anxieties. That is what Paul is telling us to do with the truth about what Jesus has accomplished for us. As we go through the day, faced with all manner of temptations to sin, or even to despair, let’s keep reminding ourselves of what is true for us in Christ Jesus. In Christ, our status has been decisively and irrevocably changed. We are no longer in Egypt and we are never going back. In Christ, we have already died in principle to sin and we have already been raised to newness of life. This can be hard for us to get down into our bones, so let me give you another illustration: Imagine that you land a job that you thought was your dream job. It promised all manner of freedom. You even get to work with a laptop in Panera Bread, Starbucks, or some other coffee shop of your choice. But soon after you start this job you realize that instead of freedom, the job put you into bondage – and for financial reasons you are trapped there and don’t think you will ever be able to get out. The worst part of it is that your boss is a complete tyrant. He routinely shows up while you are working at the coffee shop, makes all manner of unreasonable demands upon you, and then berates you until you give in. Then, one day, someone buys the company and fires your tyrant of a boss. He is so concerned about you that you end up reporting directly to the new owner. … But on Monday morning, while you are opening up your laptop at the coffee shop – your old boss strolls in. And as if nothing at all has changed, he begins to make demands upon you and to berate you. … What do you do? In the abstract, the answer is obvious. You tell him to get lost. He’s not your boss anymore. But, in reality, if you have been beaten up enough by your old boss – and you have grown accustomed to accepting the abuse out of fear – you very well may feel like you need to appease your old boss or even try to please him. This would particularly be the case if many of your co-workers were insisting that your old boss was still in charge. That is the way we are with sin. You are surrounded by people who are telling you that “everybody is doing it” and even urging you to join them in serving sin. And your own life is marked by a pattern of giving in to sin that has conditioned you to think wrongly about what is going to ultimately make you happy. As Ligon Duncan likes to say: “One of Satan’s greatest lies is to tell us that we have to choose between holiness and happiness” … as though bondage to sin was really going to make us happy. What would you be willing to give to free yourself from that bondage? Here’s the good news – Paul says: “You don’t have to set yourself free. Christ has already done that. What you need to do is believe the truth. What you need to do is to ‘consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus’” … For so you are! Read or Sing Hymn 172 “Speak, O Lord” Prayer: Ask the LORD that He would give you a clearer vision of what Jesus Christ has accomplished on your behalf and that He would cause you to apply this reality in your day-to-day life.
Wednesday (11/28) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. When the going gets tough, the tough get going! That’s easier to say than to do. Yet, we are not only called but commanded to be courageous. One suspects that many Christians are surprised the first time they read Revelation 21:8 to discover which sin heads the list of those whose destiny is the lake that burns with unquenchable fire:
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
So, where do we get the courage we need to remain faithful? Murray Harris helpfully summarizes the three sources of such courage that Paul reveals to us in this passage:
Paul mentions three sources of divine comfort: assurance that he would become a possessor of a superior form of habitation (v. 1), an awareness that in giving the Spirit as the pledge of transformation God had committed himself to complete the good work of renewal he had begun (v. 5), and knowledge that death involves departure to Christ and leads to ‘walking in the realm of sight (vv. 7-8). The tone of 5:1-10 is not one of cringing fear arising from human uncertainties but of buoyant assurance born of divine certainties.
All three of these sources of courage are important and belong together. What Paul is calling Christians to have is a truly eternal perspective on our present circumstances. As he had told the Corinthians in the previous chapter: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Prayer: Ask the LORD to help you live today in light of eternity.
Thursday (11/30) Read and discuss Matthew 10:16-42. Grant Osborne writes:
The church must be ready for the wolves, that is, for opponents who will not only reject but also physically abuse believers. The book of Acts testifies to the extent this can take, with the deaths of Stephen and James. Opposition stalked Paul everywhere he went. In light of this, the “sent ones” must be wise in their preparations and shrewd in their assessment of situations, yet maintaining a basic innocence that makes certain that when persecution comes, it is not deserved.
The latter has two connotations: proper behavior does not invite reprisal, and a gentleness of demeanor that remains open to people. Bruner says it well, “His portrait of sheep among wolves was to impress upon disciple-missionaries that they are vulnerable; his portrait of snakes is to teach them not to be stupidly vulnerable.” Still, they must expect to be “hated by all” to whom they go, not every person but every group. Rejection is certain; the disciples will not be universally loved and appreciated. The reason is found in John 3:19, namely, that darkness hates the light, for the light of Christ in us removes the façade of the dark things that they are light (note the brightness of gambling halls and red-light districts) and forces them to confront their true nature. Thus the world has to be in complete opposition to the church.
Read or sing 453 “Just as I AM, without One Plea” Prayer: Lift up the young people of the congregation that they will count it all joy to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.
Friday (11/31) Read and discuss Isaiah 5:1-7. Alec Motyer writes:
Put into one word what the LORD looks for in His people, and that word is obedience. When He brought His redeemed people out of Egypt by the blood of the Lamb, He led them straightaway to Sinai, for the LORD’s law is not a ladder by which the unsaved seek to climb into His good books, but a pattern for the life of obedience, so that those already in His good books, by redemption, may live according to the will of their Redeemer, and experience His covenant blessings. This link between obedience and blessing reaches back to Eden, where Adam and Eve enjoyed the riches of the Garden simply obeying one single rule (Gen. 2:16-17). Isaiah taught this same great truth in the Song of the Vineyard. Provided only that His people lived according to His revealed ‘judgment’, and held to His principles of ‘righteousness’, the vineyard was safe behind its protecting wall, and no marauding beast could enter and trample it. When the LORD says, ‘What more …” (v. 4) He is anticipating the ‘every blessing’ of Ephesians 1:3. Within His vineyard every needful blessing and supply awaits the obedient life – a cardinal truth expressed by Peter when he spoke of ‘the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him’ (Acts 5:32).
Read or sing Hymn 276 “Jesus Paid it All” Prayer: Ask the LORD to reform the Church in New England by causing us to rediscover the centrality of obedience in the Christians life.
Saturday (12/1) Read and discuss Isaiah 1:10-20. Alec Motyer writes:
Every time we try – rightly – to form a spiritual habit we find ourselves walking a tightrope! Simply because the habit can come to be seen as valuable for itself, and the benefit was designed to bring gets forgotten. Isaiah aw this all round him. People were congratulating themselves on religious habits; they never failed to bring the sacrifices the LORD commanded, the right animal for the right occasion. They were never missing from the LORD’s courts. Why, they never once failed to pray. But slowly and surely they forgot what the sacrifices were actually for, and what manner of people they should be if they desired to lift up hands and voices to God. The habit had become all-important. They loved religion but they did not shun sin; they prayed but they did not bother about sin and holiness. And all this is not ‘far off forgotten things and battles long ago.’ Isn’t there a disciplined habit to be cultivated if we are to get to know our Bibles like Jesus knew his? Yes, indeed. But isn’t it easy for the habit to become an end in itself, a pride in moving the book-marker on the requisite number of pages per day? But no pondering the Word, no making sure its truth is reaching from the page to the mind and so to the heart, no concern for the Word to change us into the likeness of our Savior. Or again, we rightly love the Lord’s Table, and Sunday is unthinkable with the Breaking of Bread. But be careful here too! The precious habit can take over and the bread and wine pass from hand to hand without any feasting in mind and heart on the Christ of Calvary. Over everything the Bible would inscribe the words: ‘These things I write to you so that you may not sin’ (1 John 2:1).
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.