23 December 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 319 “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
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: Psalm 130:3-4
Hymn of Preparation: 313 “Angels, from the Realms of Glory”
Old Covenant Reading: Exodus 34:1-9
New Covenant Reading: John 1:14-18
Hymn of Response: 447 “Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 299 “Joy to the World! The LORD is Come”
OT: Micah 5:1-5a
NT: Luke 2:21-38
Shorter Catechism Q/A #71
Q. What is required in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech and behavior.
Monday (12/17) Read and discuss John 1:14-18. D.A. Carson writes:
Jesus’ is the supreme revelation. If we are to know God, neither rationalism nor irrational mysticism will suffice: the former reduces God to mere object, and the latter abandons all controls. Even the revelation of antecedent Scripture cannot match this revelation, as the epistle to the Hebrews also affirms in strikingly similar categories: ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times an in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son’ (Heb. 1:1-2). The Word, God’s very Self-expression, who was both with God and who was God, became flesh: he donned our humanity, save only our sin. God chose to make himself known, finally and ultimately, in a real historical man; ‘when “the Word became flesh”, God became man’ (F.F. Bruce).
Read or sing 319 “O Come, All Ye Faithful” Prayer: Give thanks for the astonishing grace of the Son of God that He would take to Himself a true human nature to be born in a manger.
Tuesday (12/18) Read and discuss John 1:1-5. In verse 3 we are told:
All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
This verse may seem almost a bit redundant. After all, if Jesus is fully God then quite obviously He is the Creator of all things. Well sometimes repetition is important. As every teacher knows – repetition is the mother of learning. Nevertheless, I think John is doing more than helpfully driving home the point that Jesus is in fact fully God. John’s experience of Jesus didn’t begin in eternity past. It began when John the Baptist pointed him to a human being – to a fellow Jewish man of around 30 years of age – and said: “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” We don’t begin by knowing God and then add Jesus into the picture. We begin by knowing Jesus and then realizing with Thomas that he who has seen Jesus has seen the Father. The danger with this is that we can easily end up dragging God down to merely human dimensions. John wants us to remember, when we see Jesus hanging on the cross, that hanging there was the Word who created the tree on which he hung. He created the dirt in which the post of the cross was buried. He created the Sun, the moon, and all the stars that filled the sky. He even created the very people who would put Him to death. When we come to Jesus in prayer we should remember that we are coming to the One through whom everything exists and that apart from Jesus – there is not a single thing which has been made that He did not make. If we do this, we will discover that the love of God for us is all the more astounding. When Christ bids you to His table to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it is good to meditate on this truth: The God who created everything that exists holds out the bread to you and says: “Take! Eat! This is My body, given for you.” Who can begin to fathom such love? The God through whom uncountable galaxies have been created, took on a true human nature to give His life for the life of the world. Read or Sing Hymn 313 “Angels, from the Realms of Glory” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in China as they suffer through increased pressure and persecution from the government.
Wednesday (12/19) Read and discuss Exodus 34:1-9. Doug Stuart writes:
God’s instruction to Moses to prepare two new stone tablets and his promise to write the Ten Words/Commandments on these new tablets just as he had on the former ones conveys a most welcome message: God had decided to forgive the Israelites and accept them once again as his covenant people, and he would renew his covenant with them, through which all sorts of blessings would once again be theirs. Like an employer saying to a previously dismissed employee, “Welcome back to the company. Let me show you to your work station” or a judge saying to a person whose punishment has been completed, “You’re free to go and resume your former life,” God said to Moses and through him to Israel, in effect: “Bring some new tablets. Let’s put the covenant back in force.”
Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Providence OPC in West Lebanon, NH.
Thursday (12/20) Read and discuss Micah 5:1-5a. Micah is a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. “Both Isaiah and Micah lived through the traumatic days of the devastation of the northern kingdom and its exile at the brutal hands of the king of Assyria in 722 BC.” Although God had graciously protected Judah from Assyria, both Isaiah and Micah focus on the judgment God will bring through Babylon because His people are not returning to Him in faith. Quite simply they are promising that God will fulfill His promises by giving the people of Judah what they deserve. But then a remarkable thing happens. God promises to take the initiative to deliver His chosen people even though they have forsaken Him and gone after idols. This deliverance unfolds in two stages. First God promises to deliver His people physically from Babylon. We have been looking at the fulfillment of this in the post-exilic book of Zechariah on Sunday evenings. Second He promises to fully deliver His people by sending the Messiah. It is therefore not surprising that God would choose the incredibly insignificant town of Bethlehem. The LORD is drawing attention to the fact that this deliverance would be entirely of His grace. There is, perhaps, another reason why God orchestrated the birth of both David and Jesus in Bethlehem. The name Bethlehem literally means house of bread – or house of food. Therefore there is a remarkable appropriateness that the Bread from Heaven, our true provision, would become man in Bethlehem. Verse 5a tells us something of great importance: Jesus will not only give His people peace – He will be our peace. May you find complete peace in Him today. Read or sing 447 “Christ, of All My Hopes the Ground” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.
Friday (12/21) Read and discuss Luke 2:21-38. In today’s passage we witness the continued faithfulness of Joseph and Mary who were careful to obey the word of the LORD exactly as it has been given to them. We also meet representatives of the faithful remnant in Israel who were waiting expectantly for the coming of the Christ. Nevertheless, the passage is primarily about Jesus. Let us consider the significance of Christ’s circumcision with the help of Arthur A. Just:
Jesus’ circumcision is a one-time event availing for all. The foreskin represents sin and rebellion against God (Col 2:13). While Jesus is without sin, he takes humanity’s place under the Law as the sin-bearer, as also in his baptism. The benefits of Jesus’ circumcision are received in Holy Baptism (Col 2:10-13). In Luther’s exposition of Gen 17:9-11, he includes among the benefits of circumcision for OT believers the forgiveness of sins, justification, and incorporation into the people of God. These benefits accrued to those who received the sign of circumcision through their faith in God’s promise, which is fulfilled in Christ. St. Paul speaks of Holy Baptism as a “circumcision done without hands” and as “the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11). There was a fierce argument in the early church about whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised. The issue is settled by a proper understanding of Jesus’ fulfillment of the entire OT on our behalf (Luke 2:21-24, 27, 39), for in the circumcision of the one who represents all [His people], all [His] people are circumcised once and for all [in Him].
Read or sing Hymn 299 “Joy to the World! The LORD is Come” Prayer: Please lift up the young people in our congregation that they would delight to count all things loss that they may gain Christ and be found in Him.
Saturday (12/22) Read and discuss John 1:14-18. Commenting on verse 16, Martin Luther writes:
This is one of the golden texts in Saint john; it is on par with the one we have already discussed: the Son of God is “the true Light, which lights every one that cometh into the world.” Therefore, whoever does not acknowledge Christ and believe in him, and dos not make him his or her own, is and remains a child of wrath and of damnation, no matter what that person is called or what that person is. But if a person is to find mercy, Christ alone must be the means. He alone makes us paupers rich with his superabundance, expunges our sins with his righteousness, devours our death with his life and transforms us from children of wrath, tainted with sin, hypocrisy, lies and deceit, into children of grace and truth. Whoever does not possess this Man possess nothing.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.