6 January 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King”
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: Romans 10:10-13
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 2A
Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
New Covenant Reading: Romans 7:1-6
Sermon: Freedom from Condemnation
Hymn of Response: 474 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 181 “Now Thank We All Our God”
OT: Psalm 46:1-11
NT: Revelation 7:9-17
Our Refuge and Our Strength
Shorter Catechism Q/A #73
Q. Which is the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.
Monday (12/31) Read and discuss Romans 7:1-6. To say that Christians frequently find Romans 7 confusing would be an understatement. At the heart of the confusion in the first half of Romans 7 is trying to figure out the Christian’s relationship to the Law. On the one hand, Paul says that Christians have died to the law. Does this mean, as one prominent commentator suggests, that the Law no longer has any authority in the Christian’s life? The obvious problem with this is that Paul everywhere treats the Law as God’s Law and as the authoritative guide to the LORD’s will for our lives. Perhaps the key to unlocking Paul’s thought is to realize that we were never supposed to be married to the Law. The people of God were supposed to be married to the LORD with the Law serving as God’s own authoritative guide for how we were to be a faithful spouse by directing us in what loving God and our neighbors required. So, when Paul says that we have died to the Law and been married to Christ, he is not saying that the original purpose of the Law has been eradicated. Rather, he is saying that it has been restored to the roll that it was always supposed to have. Read or sing 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King” Prayer: Ask the LORD, that in the year ahead, that you will know Him better, love Him more, and make Him known to more people.
Tuesday (1/1) Read and discuss Philippians 2:25-30. Peter T. O’Brien writes:
This short paragraph shows Paul to be a man of great tenderness who writes warmly, even glowingly, of his friend and colleague from Philippi. Although his own needs are not entirely forgotten, they are secondary to his concern for the well-being of others, that is, Epaphroditus and the Philippians. “His friendliness appears here in its depth and sincerity, and just as before it has been forged in the service of the gospel, in struggles and suffering (J.F. Collange).”
The apostle focusses attention on this member of the Philippian congregation, not only in order to inform them of what has happened to their fellow Christian and to explain his return with the letter itself, but also to provided them with still another striking illustration of the self-sacrificing service that is demanded of all Christians; in other words, to give a further godly example of the way the Philippians should imitate Christ.
Read or Sing Psalm 2A Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Venezuela who continue to struggle with a nation that is falling apart.
Wednesday (1/2) Read and discuss Jeremiah 31:31-34. Lessing and Steinmann write:
The motif of the “new covenant” (Jer 31:31) is central to the New Testament’s understanding of Christ. Jesus came because God “remembered his holy covenant” (Luke 1:72) and the Savior refers directly to Jeremiah’s prophecy when he says that the Holy Supper is “my blood of the new covenant” (Luke 22:20). Christ’s covenant blood was shed not because he had been unfaithful but because humanity had rebelled against its Creator. His blood is poured out “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28). With these words the Savior also links his new covenant with the one described by Jeremiah. It is the “blood of the eternal covenant (Hebrews 13:20; cf Jeremiah 32:40).
Prayer: Give thanks for the greater blessings we enjoy under the New Covenant than even the greatest saints enjoyed in the Old.
Thursday (1/3) 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 Hymn 474 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee” Prayer: Give thanks that nothing in all creation can separate you from the love that God has for you in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Friday (1/4) Read and discuss Psalm 46:1-11: James Mays writes:
Psalm 46 is not a song about an impregnable city of God, a metropolis of security founded in the world to exempt its inhabitants from the dangers of history. Its true subject is the God who will help the people in whose midst He has chosen to be and who for a time chose Jerusalem and its temple as the locale of His “dwelling.” The song does not invite trust in a place but in a Presence who wills to dwell with people. In the Old Testament, God’s dwelling in time and space was never fixed and final. The locale was a movable tabernacle, a shrine at Shiloh, the temple in Jerusalem. The dwelling was always both real and relative. Isaiah lamented that Judah did not take its reality seriously enough (Isaiah 28-29). Jeremiah accused his contemporaries of misunderstanding how relative it was (Jeremiah 7). Jerusalem did “totter”; it fell to the Babylonians; the psalms themselves record the dismay and pain (e.g., Psalm 74). Joel articulated the eschatological dimension of God’s dwelling with humankind. In the New Testament, the dwelling of God with mortals took the form of a person (John 1:14) and was inseparably linked to Jesus Christ.
Read or sing Hymn 181 “Now Thank We All Our God” Prayer: Rejoice that the Holy Spirit dwells in Christ’s Church so that we have become living stones in the Temple of God.
Saturday (1/5) Read and discuss Romans 7:1-6. On Monday, we saw that dying to the Law and being married to Christ rather than negating the Law restores it to its original purpose in the lives of God’s people. This leads to a natural question, “Now that we are no longer under the condemning work of the Law will we become lax in the pursuit of holiness?” James Montgomery Boice writes:
[One of the ways] our new marriage to Jesus Christ produces holiness is by bringing us into a love that will never fade and a relationship that will never end. We died to our unfruitful first marriage to the law when we died in Christ. That marriage ended. But now, having been raised in Christ, who will never die, and having been joined to him, we are assured of a love that will last forever. As I say in my reworking of the marriage vows, it is “in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, for this life and for all eternity.
“But suppose my love is weak?” you ask.
Don’t say “suppose.” As a new bride of Christ, your love for him is weak, but it will grow. It will grow here on earth, and it will go on growing throughout eternity.
“Suppose my love should grow cold?” you wonder.
That is a sad thing to imagine since there is no excuse for it, but it is true that this sometimes happens. We get involved in the affairs of this world and forge the LORD for a time. We neglect prayer and Bible study. We do not pause to hear his voice. Like the beloved of Solomon’s Song of Songs, we do not come to Jesus when he calls. We say, “I have taken off my robe – must I put it on again? I have washed my feet – must I soil them again?” (Song of Songs 5:3). Then, when we turn to the LORD at last, he is not there. Ah, but he is still seeking us. He has only used our neglect of him to show us how much his love means and how empty our lives are without it. …
One day the great God of the universe is going to throw a party. It will be the most magnificent party that has ever been held. The banquet will be spread in heaven. The guests will be numbered in the billions. The angelic legions will be there to serve these honored guests. Jesus, the Bridegroom, will be seated at his Father’s right hand. And you will be there too, for this is the great marriage supper of the Lamb. You will be there. Do you understand that? You will be there. Nothing is going to keep you from that great celebration – if you are really joined to Jesus Christ.
So what are you doing? Are you leading a half-hearted life for Jesus Christ now? If you know where you are headed, you will be preparing for that day with every spiritual thought you have and with every deed you do. You will be bearing fruit for God, because on that day of celebration you will be able to lift up and offer it to him with pure hands and with unspeakable joy.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.