20 January 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 236 “To God Be the Glory”
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: Zechariah 3:1-5
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 73C
Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-25
New Covenant Reading: Romans 7:14-25
Sermon: Wretched, Blessed, Grateful
Hymn of Response: Psalm 46B
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 494 “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts”
OT: 1 Kings 1:11-40
NT: Matthew 20:20-28
The Shaken but Certain Succession
Shorter Catechism Q/A #75
Q. What is required in the eighth commandment?
A. The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.
Monday (1/14) Read and discuss Romans 7:14-25. R.C. Sproul writes:
It is important that we not be deceived into thinking there are shortcuts to Christian maturity, to growing up into the fullness of conformity to the image of Christ. It is a lifelong pursuit. None will achieve that perfection until we enter into glory and all the remnants of sin and the flesh are removed from us. In one sense, it is comforting to know that even Paul had to struggle against the temptations of the flesh, because there has probably never been another more dedicated to the pursuit of holiness and obedience to his Lord Jesus Christ than the apostle Paul. If Paul had struggles like this, I take comfort in it, not because I want to rejoice in evil or in somebody else’s weakness but because I am not left hopeless when I consider my own weaknesses. …
I can feel the anguish. I do not mean to cheapen that oft-used expression, “I feel your pain,” but I can feel the anguish of the apostle in this text and elsewhere in his letters as he talks about the war that goes on in the soul of the Christian between the spirit and the flesh, between the old man, who does not want to die, and the new man, who is working for inward renewal and maturity in Christ. I cannot tell you why sometimes the LORD allows us to struggle for years before liberation comes, but he does. However, at every moment the grace is there to overcome, no matter what the sin problem is.
Read or sing Hymn 236 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China as they continue to deal with increased persecution from the government there.
Tuesday (1/15) Read and discuss Romans 7:7-13. A second major aspect of the Torah, that provides the context in which we read things like “do this and live” or “do this and be blessed” is the ceremonial law. The Jew who took the law seriously would have found him or herself ceremonially unclean on a disturbingly regular basis. For example, a woman having her period would be unclean. Having a sore or scab on your body that let out blood or pus would make you unclean. A discharge of semen would make you ceremonially unclean; and … Someone spitting on you would make you ceremonially unclean, and so on. While hopefully that last one wouldn’t happen very often, the rules about ceremonial uncleanness would have made everyone in Israel ceremonially unclean many times during their lives. A person would have to be spiritually blind – but, of course that is the point – a person would have to be spiritually blind to imagine that a Law which repeatedly marked them out as spiritually unclean was a way to demonstrate that they were in fact remarkably righteous. But that is how blinding sin can be. I mentioned spit, a moment ago, for a reason. Spit, like blood and pus come from inside a person. One of the powerful things to see from the ceremonial law is that whenever something that was supposed to be inside of you came out – that would make a person unclean. This is one way the LORD was calling out the lie that a person might “make mistakes” but have a good heart. The ceremonial law is shouting: “On the inside you are all unclean!” What makes this particularly powerful is that there is one exception. Jesus uses his saliva to open the eyes of a blind man. Unlike us, Jesus is perfectly pure inside and out. Indeed, while under the Old Covenant – our bleeding would make us unclean. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. No wonder Paul says in verse 12:
So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Read or Sing Psalm 73C Prayer: Give thanks for the word of God and pray that the LORD would cause you to understand Him better by understanding His word better.
Wednesday (1/16) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 6:1-25. Daniel Block writes:
The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) represents one of the most important verbal symbols of Judaism. Indeed, this is as close as early Judaism came to the notion of a creed. To this day, orthodox Jews recite these verses in the morning when they wake up and at night before they fall asleep. Although interpretation of the Shema as a declaration of God’s unity has a long history [and let it be said that the Bible is clear that there is only one true God], this interpretation is unlikely. The issue here is not “How many is God?” But “Who is the God of Israel?” To this question the Israelites were to respond in unison and without compromise, “Our God is Yahweh, Yahweh alone!” The remainder of chapter 6 confirms that the concern here is the first principle of covenant relationship in the Decalogue: “You shall have no other gods besides me.” Israel was to cling to Yahweh alone. The Shema is a cry of allegiance, an affirmation of covenant commitment. Whether or not people descended from Abraham, the true covenant community consisted of those for whom this declaration was a verbal badge of identity and who demonstrated this commitment with uncompromising covenant loyalty.
Prayer: Lift up the covenant children in our congregation and ask the Holy Spirit would cause them to delight in worshipping their LORD and walking in His ways.
Thursday (1/17) Read and discuss Matthew 20:20-28. R.T. France writes:
The question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” was raised and answered in 18:1-4 and in the portrayal of the “little ones” which followed in ch. 18; it was more obliquely addressed in the passages about the blessing of the children (19:13-15) and the rich man (19:16-26), and has come to the fore again in the discussion of rewards in 19:27-29, especially in the repeated slogan “The first will be last, and the last first” in 19:30 and 20:16 together with the illustrative parable which comes between them. Now the same question arises in its most memorable form in the request of the sons of Zebedee and is dealt with definitively by Jesus in vv. 25-28; it will be broached again in 23:8-12. The natural human concern with status and importance is clearly one of the most fundamental instincts which must be unlearned by those who belong to God’s kingdom. Verses 25-26 set out a sharp antithesis with the way earthly kingdoms and authority structures operate, and the contrast is clearly focused in the words “It is not to be like that among you.” That clause could have been written over most of the preceding periscopes in which the disciples’ “human thoughts” have been painfully contrasted with the values of the kingdom of heaven; it sums up in a slogan-like form the character of Jesus’ disciples as an alternative society which was first set out in the [Sermon on the Mount].
But to this exhortation is now added in v. 28 the explicit example of the Son of Man himself, whose messianic dignity is expressed not in being served but in serving, not in receiving but in giving, and whose messianic destiny is to be fulfilled in the ultimate paradox of his death for the salvation of others. We have known of the necessity of Jesus death since 16:21, but here for the first time, almost in passing, is an epigrammatic explanation of its purpose, which will remain alone as an isolated outcrop of the theology underlying the passion predictions until it is taken up and given definitive expression in Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper (26:26-28). Atonement theology does not take up a lot of space in the Gospel of Matthew, but these two brief pronouncements open a suggestive window into how Matthew and his church understood Jesus’ mission to “save His people from their sins.”
Read or Sing Psalm 46B Prayer: Please lift up our congregation’s Outreach Committee.
Friday (1/18) Read and discuss 1 Kings 1:11-40. John Woodhouse writes:
The joy of the occasion was extraordinary. “All the people” is not quite literally true. There was still the (relatively small) crowd at En-rogel (see 1:41). However, the point is that the nation as a whole was now joyfully acknowledging Solomon as their king. Such a display of rejoicing may remind us of the day that the ark of the covenant was brought into Jerusalem. The sounds of joy were of joy were so great that the earth shook!
The crowds following Solomon into Jerusalem were on the right side of history. Why? Because God’s promise will determine the future. Strangely, that does not exclude human activity. Those who believed God’s promise (such as Nathan, Bathsheba, and David) did not passively wait around for God’s promise to be realized. They acted boldly, carefully, and emphatically for what God had promised. That is what faith is like, and it puts you on the right side of history.
As we watch the joyful crowds accompanying the son of David up into the city of Jerusalem, we may cast our minds forward to the day when another son of David would ride a donkey into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11). It was not long before the earth quaked as this Son of David was about to begin His reign (Matthew 27:51).
Faith in Jesus Christ means believing God’s promise. The kingdom of the son of David will be “forever.”
Are you on the right side of history?
Read or sing Hymn 494 “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.
Saturday (1/19) Read and discuss Romans 7:14-25. C.E.B. Cranfield writes:
With v. 14, …, the past tenses give way to present, and as the sequel makes clear, Paul is thinking specifically of Christians. The verses which follow depict vividly the inner conflict characteristic of the true Christian, a conflict such as is possible only in the man, in whom the Holy Spirit is active and whose mind is being renewed under the discipline of the gospel. In the man who understands the law not legalistically but in the light of Christ and so recognizes the real seriousness of its requirement, and who truly and sincerely wills to obey it, to do what is good and to avoid the evil, the man in whom the power of sin is really being seriously and resolutely challenged, in him the power of sin is clearly seen. The more he is renewed by God’s Spirit, the more sensitive he becomes to the continuing power of sin over his life and the fact that even his very best activities are marred by the egotism still entrenched within him.
The third and final paragraph of the subsection (vv. 24-25), in which the real anguish of severe and relentless warfare (not despair!!), the earnest longing for final deliverance, thankful confidence in God, sincere commitment to God’s law, and an honest recognition of the fact of continuing sinfulness, all come to expression and are held together, forms a conclusion to the verses (14-23) describing the conflict of the Christian life; and the fact that Paul sums them up in this way is an indication that he sees them not just as being support for what he has said in v. 13 but also as contributing an indispensable element of the description of the life promised for the man who is righteous by faith. In fact, the latter part of the sub-section has a dual role: on the one hand, it is an integral part of the necessary clarification of 7:1-6; on the other hand, it is to be related to chapter eight, as supplying an important insight without which what is said there would be very seriously misleading. 7:1-14 and chapter eight are necessary to each other. Neither, if read in isolation from the other, gives a true picture of the Christian life [emphasis added].
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.