9 December 2018
Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3
Opening Hymn: 281 “Rejoice the Lord is King”
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: Romans 5:1-2
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 51C
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 1:1-6
New Covenant Reading: Romans 6:15-23
Sermon: The Free Gift of God
Hymn of Response: Psalm 1A
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 538 “Take My Life and Let it Be”
OT: 2 Samuel 24:18-25
NT: 1 John 4:7-12
A Future Home for the Mercy Seat
Shorter Catechism Q/A #69
Q. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.
Monday (12/3) Read and discuss Romans 6:15-23. What was the Messiah given the name Jesus? This name is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua which means “Yahweh is salvation”. That makes sense to us. After all, Jesus is our wonderful Savior. Yet many evangelicals conceive of Christ’s work of salvation primarily in terms of Jesus saving us from hell. Interestingly, that is not how the New Testament presents Christ’s work. Instead, when an angel appeared to Joseph he announced:
Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
As we sometimes sing, “He breaks the power of canceled sin.” At the very moment you first believe God justifies you by reckoning Christ’s perfectly righteous life to your account. This is only the beginning. Because Jesus is not divided, to embrace Christ is to embrace the whole Christ (i.e. to submit to Jesus as both Savior and Lord). Therefore, everyone who is truly born again of necessity is being sanctified. Doug Moo helpful divides the two regimes that Paul is talking about into the following two categories:
The Old Regime The New Regime
Sin Righteousness; obedience
The key thing to realize is that we cannot pick and choose from each menu those things that we would like to embrace. We are either under the Old Regime or the New. If we are in Christ then we are new creations. This is true in principle and a significant part of our Christian lives is simply a matter of living out in practice what we already are because of our relationship to God the Father, Christ our Savior and Lord, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Read or sing 281 “Rejoice the Lord is King” Prayer: Give thanks that in Christ you are a new creation!
Tuesday (12/4) Read and discuss Isaiah 40:1-8. When modern Americans are wracked with anxiety, secular counselors will try to convince them of their own personal significance. Such an approach is doomed to failure. It can only work in the short term as a sort of con-game that tricks the person into finding great meaning within him or herself. Isaiah 40 begins with those beautiful words, “Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.” This is true comfort indeed, for God has acted decisively on behalf of His people. But what can modern man make of the fact that God goes on to compare people to grass which withers and whose beauty fades away? Can you imagine a secular counselor telling a client: “Listen, you have to deal with reality, you are like the grass of the field that is about to wither”? Yet, those words are not only true they are comforting when juxtaposed with another truth: “but the word of God will endure forever.” This means that we have an entirely unshakeable foundation to build our life upon – the word of the living God. We don’t have to worry about whether we are with the “right” group or have the “right” clothes. We don’t have to worry about missing the latest research or trends. We can simply trust the LORD and let Him take care of everything else. Read or Sing Hymn Psalm 1A Prayer:
Wednesday (12/5) Read and discuss Psalm 1:1-6. The first Psalm is so important to the Christian life that it is well worth memorizing so that you can meditate upon it throughout the day. Allen P. Ross explains the central message of the psalm:
By drawing a contrast between the righteous and the ungodly, the psalmist instructs believers not to live the way the world lives, not to take spiritual, moral, or ethical advice from unbelievers, and not to join them in their profane enterprises; rather, believers must study the word of God in order to live an untarnished and productive life for God, and that life will be evidence of a living faith that will see them through the judgment, when God judges the wicked. …
For believers, the application is obvious: they must spend time meditating on God’s word so that they may live a distinct and productive spiritual life for God, and in the process find assurance that God knows them and will preserved them through the judgment. To unbelievers the message is urgent: they must come to faith in the Lord, because if they live their lives without faith in him or his word, not even their good deeds will count and they will not survive the judgment to come.
Prayer: Ask the LORD to keep your heart and mind engaged in His word.
Thursday (12/6) Read and discuss 1 John 4:7-12. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” In today’s passage, God is telling us that we ought to love one another in response to Christ loving us by becoming a propitiation for our sins. The trouble is, we don’t use “propitiation” in our everyday speech and have to learn what the word means first. To propitiate is to win someone’s favor. It presupposes that, in some sense, the other person was either hostile or indifferent to you. In our case, the thing that caused God (from one perspective) to hate us was our sins. But, in Christ, God set His love upon us and sacrificed His son to take away our sins so that he could be wholly propitious towards us. We have been saved by God from God. In response to this astonishing act of love we are certainly to love our brothers in general. Yet it is also fair to draw a narrower application. When we were causing offense to God, He loved us by taking away that offense and absorbing the punishment in Himself. When we are being offended by our brothers and sisters in Christ, true love will manifest itself in our willingness to absorb hurts and being slighted for the sake of restoring the relationship. To say the least, this is daunting challenge. If we try to show such love in our own power it will simply prove impossible. Yet, with God all things are possible. Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Read or sing Psalm 51C” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD loved you when you didn’t deserve it and pray that He would cause you to love those who are not naturally lovely in your eyes.
Friday (12/7) Read and discuss 2 Samuel 24:18-25. John Woodhouse writes:
What David did at the threshing floor of Araunah was of historic importance. In due course David’s son Solomon built the temple at this place, where burnt offerings would be offered for the ongoing sins of Israel for a long time to come.
The books of Samuel began with the visits of a country family to the “temple” at Shiloh, where sacrifices were offered by corrupt priests. The concluding chapter of this part of Israel’s history presents King David (a much better man than Hophni and Phinehas, but also a deeply flawed man) offering sacrifices on the site of the future temple. First Samuel began with Israel’s’ need for leadership that could save them from their enemies, themselves, and the wrath of God. Second Samuel concludes with the promised kingdom still unrealized.
David’s inadequacy to save his people in any final sense from their enemies, themselves, and the wrath of God is clear. And yet in a number of wonderful ways in the final scenes of the books of Samuel David anticipates the Son of David who came 1,000 years later. David’s great problem was that he was as guilty as his people. He knew that. He was willing to die for his sheep (v. 17), but could not. Jesus did.
A short distance from the threshing floor of Araunah the perfect and complete sacrifice for the sins of the whole world was made when Jesus died on the cross. The New Testament proclaims the news that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” because “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”
Read or sing Hymn 538 “Take My Life and Let it Be” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.
Saturday (12/8) Read and discuss Romans 6:15-23. “Everybody is serving someone.” This truth can be offensive in the modern West where so many people imagine that they are a law unto themselves. Paul realizes, that even in the ancient world, it would have been easy for at least some of his hearers to misunderstand his use of slavery – even slavery to righteousness – as a metaphor for the Christian life. So, in verse 19 he writes:
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
Michael Middendorf comments:
While recognizing the potential inadequacy of the slavery image, it nevertheless communicates well. As a result, it is important to notice that “Paul is not withdrawing or ‘apologizing’ for his slavery imagery. … It is just that Paul recognizes that his language could be interpreted to mean that Christian experience bears the same marks of degradation, fear, and confinement that were typical of secular slavery (Doug Moo).” Therefore Paul states that he uses this analogy, which has so often and horribly been corrupted by humanity, “on account of the weakness of your flesh.” … Here Paul’s point would appear to be that human nature produces a weakness in understanding that can be overcome in this life only by the use of (imperfect) analogies (Doug Moo).”
At the same time, Paul’s effective use of slavery reveals that “a contrast between divine and human is also in view (James Dunn).” In its proper divine sense, slavery is fully adequate and appropriate. This is revealed in the opening words of the letter. There Paul begins by referring to himself as a “slave of Christ Jesus.” …
Presenting one’s members to sin or to God is an option available only to the baptized believers. Prior to their baptism and conversion, they did not have the ability to serve God in righteousness. Instead, they were slaves ‘to impurity. … As a result, bodily members which used to be engrossed in acts of impurity and lawlessness are now exhorted to be placed in slavish disposal “to righteousness.”
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.