25 November 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 248 “All Creatures of Our God and King”
Confession of Sin
Almighty and everlasting God, Glorious Creator of all things, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; We have sinned against Your holy Name, by failing to glorify You in our lives as your redeemed children. Our unthankfulness extends to every thought and deed, as well as to our failure to thank you with our lips. We have not lived to the praise of the glory of Your grace. We have not esteemed the reproach of Jesus Christ our Savior to be greater than the riches of this world. We have failed to estimate the infinite cost of the salvation won for us at the cross through the shed blood of Jesus. We have not been faithful to You as You have been faithful to us in all things. Father, forgive us for our ingratitude through the reconciling sacrifice of Jesus Christ our all-sufficient Mediator, we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Luke 1:76-79
Hymn of Preparation: 500 “Father, I Know That All My Life”
Old Covenant Reading: Daniel 3:8-18
New Covenant: Romans 6:8-14
Sermon: Dead to Sin, Alive to God
Hymn of Response: 465 “Love Divine, All Loves, Excelling”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 501 “Lord, Speak to Me, That I May Speak”
OT: 2 Samuel 24:1-17
NT: Revelation 7:1-17
Sin and Repentance
Shorter Catechism Q/A #67
Q. Which is the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.
Monday (11/19) Read and discuss Romans 6:8-14. Michael Bird writes:
The substance of Christian ethics is not lists of rules with case studies on how to handle legal conundrums when laws conflict. Christian ethics and Christian living are about properly walking in the way of Christ, with the Spirit of Christ, until the day of Christ. It is a matter of letting our behavior match our new identity. It is about working out what God has worked in. As the Greek poet Pindar said, “Be what you know you are!”
Sin is entirely inappropriate for believers because sin belongs to the age of death and decay and to the world with its wickedness. We belong to Christ, his kingdom, and the world to come. So engaging in sin when engrafted into Christ is a fundamental mismatch. It is like trying to play vinyl LPs on a CD player. Or like trying to insert CDs into an iPod. Or like trying to send tweets from a Walkman. Putting our mortal body out of sin’s grasp and into the grip of grace requires genuine effort, but we should not think of it as some kind of Jekyll and Hyde inner turmoil going on inside of us, as if we have a bipolar moral character. We are not half in Adam and half in Christ; no, the exodus has happened, death has occurred once and for all, we are in Christ and not in Adam, we are under grace not under law, and we are now free to serve in a whole new way of life opened up for us in Messiah Jesus.
Read or sing Hymn 248 “All Creatures of Our God and King” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China as they live with the challenge of increased persecution.
Tuesday (11/20) Read and discuss Romans 6:1-7. What exactly does it mean that “We were buried with him by baptism into death”? I think that the great British New Testament scholar, C.E.B. Cranfield, just nails it. Cranfield writes:
By stating that we have been buried with Christ, Paul expresses in the most decisive and emphatic way the truth of our having died with Christ; for burial is the seal set to the fact of death – it is when a man’s relatives and friends leave his body in a grave and return home without him that the fact that he no longer shares their life is exposed with inescapable conclusiveness. … Baptism, according to Paul, while it is no magical rite effecting ex opera operato that which it signifies, is no empty sign but a decisive event by which a man’s life is powerfully and unequivocally claimed by God.
Read or Sing Hymn 500 “Father, I Know That All My Life” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD put His name upon you in baptism and decisively claimed you as His own.
Wednesday (11/21) Read and discuss Daniel 3:8-30. When should a Christian disobey the laws of the State? How do you know when to say, “We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).” The answer of many modern Christians is essentially never. While the LORD requires Christians to show appropriate deference to the civil magistrate that is not the Biblical answer. Part of the problem is that it is difficult for a generation to recognize the cultural forces within which they themselves live. Perhaps the greatest heresy of the Twentieth Century was nationalism. The most severe forms of nationalism were National Socialism (Nazi Germany) and Atheistic Communism (the Soviet Union and “Red” China). In spite of the horrors perpetrated by these two systems, there does not seem to be any backing away from nationalism in the modern world. Indeed, the broad trend seems to increasingly want to create Messianic States where the State and its Civil Rulers fill the role that rightly belongs to God alone. Of course, this isn’t the first time in history when this has happened. In Daniel chapter 2, the LORD told Nebuchadnezzar that He had granted the king a truly great kingdom – symbolized by a head of gold. Apparently, Nebuchadnezzar was not satisfied to have his moment in the sun and then to pass off the world’s stage as subsequent kingdoms replaced his. “Had Nebuchadnezzar wanted to memorialize the revelation God had given him – namely, to point out that only the kingdom God builds cannot be shaken – he would have built an image with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay. Beside it he would have placed a large stone. … The image commissioned symbolized his desire that no kingdom should destroy his – not even the kingdom of God (Sinclair Ferguson).” The challenge was now set up. Would God’s renewed image bearers, Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendego, bow down to the image of a mere man? Their duty was clear. “Whenever God’s people are required to disobey God in order to obey the government, they must refuse (Jay Adams and Milton Fisher).” It is important for us to notice that these faithful Jewish men were not out protesting the king’s policies. They were not instigating civil unrest because the government wasn’t being run the way they wanted it to be run … or even because the government’s policies were immoral (in a democratic-republic Christians are certainly free to do such things). These men were simply confronted with the harshest of choices: disobey God or die. The dramatic nature of their deliverance can sometimes overshadow the power of their witness. We must remember that they didn’t know they would be physically delivered from death. Perhaps, more importantly, we must not presuppose that God will deliver us from death rather than through it. After all, miraculous acts of deliverance are almost by definition quite rare. Let us take the words of these men as our own confession: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Prayer: As Western Culture drifts toward an increasingly militant secularism it would be easy for Christians to imagine that things are only going to get worse. Yet, nothing is too hard for the LORD. Please pray that Christ would send revival and reformation to Europe and North America.
Thursday (11/22) Read and discuss Revelation 7:9-17. Mitchell Reddish writes:
In chapter 7, as throughout the Apocalypse, John is not interested in presenting a blueprint for the future that contains details of events that will be literally fulfilled. Rather, John is using pictorial language to offer comfort and hope to Christian communities that are struggling to maintain their commitment to God during difficult circumstances. John expects the situation to worsen before it got better. The interlude of chapter 7 is John’s way of reassuring his readers that God will protect and sustain them throughout any and all ordeals that they must face. That is the message that surfaces most clearly from this text. Even though John casts his message in eschatological imagery and believes that the end times will be a time of special difficulties for the church, his message of hope and assurance is a message directed to the church living out its faith in its current time and place. God will sustain them not only in the future, but in the present as well. Here is the connection of this text with the modern reader: This text assures us of God’s protection and security in all the tribulations of life.
Read or sing 465 “Love Divine, All Loves, Excelling” Prayer: Give thanks for the blessings that we enjoy by living in the United States.
Friday (11/23) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 24:1-17. Tony Cartledge writes:
The most theologically significant phrase in the text is the remarkable assertion that “the LORD relented concerning the [calamity]” and ordered the angel to cease and desist. “Relented” reflects a Hebrew verb stem that is commonly used in the passive form to mean “to be sorry,” “to have compassion,” or “to be moved to pity.” It can also carry the sense of repenting for one’s actions, leading one to relent and reverse course. David had hoped that Yahweh would be merciful, and his hopes were well founded. Having seen the sorrow and death left in the wake of the avenging angel, Yahweh called a halt at the edge of Jerusalem, saying “It is enough.”
Read or sing Hymn 501 “Lord, Speak to Me, That I May Speak” Prayer: Please pray for the Special Meeting of our congregation this coming Sunday.
Saturday (11/24) Read and discuss Romans 6:8-14. Michael Bird writes:
Dying with Christ means dying to sin, and so Paul infers, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” The background story is that “Sin” is a hostile power that uses death as its henchman and desire as its seducer to force humanity to obey its every whim. Sin reigns in death over the members of the mortal body by making them captive to desire. I should add that the role of “desire” in sin does not ordinarily get a lot of attention, but it should. Sin elicits desire and desire is what controls the will. Ancient philosophers saw people controlled by desires for either pleasure or power, driven by hedonistic pursuit or consumed with the prestige of honor. God’s judgment against sin includes handing people over to the desires of their hearts (Romans 1:24). Sin uses the law to cultivate wicked desires in persons (7:7-8). Believers, then, should give no forethought to the desires of the flesh but instead be clothed with Christ. In which case, the path toward a God-pleasing life comes by dethroning sin from our lives, so that our desires shift from obeying “Sin” to serving our Savior.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.