27 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 (1/21) Read and discuss Romans 7:13-25. Some people wrongly assume that Paul cannot be talking about Christians in today’s passage, because they assume that the Christian life doesn’t involve such a dramatic ongoing wrestling with sin. But as John Murray points out:
The man of 7:14-25 does bad things but he hates them and they violate the prevailing bent of his will to the good. The unregenerate man hates the good; the man of 7:14-25 hates the evil. The tension which appears in 7:14-25 between that which Paul delights in, loves, approves, and wills and that which he is and does in contravention is inevitable in a regenerate man as long as sin remains in him. These two complexes in him – righteousness, on the one hand, sin, on the other – are contradictory and the more sensitive he is to the demands of holiness, the more sensitive to that pattern after which his most characteristic self is formed, the more will the contradiction which still exists in him be focused in his consciousness. And the more sanctified he becomes the more painful to him must be the presence in himself of that which contradicts the perfect standard of holiness. The complaint, “Wretched man that I am!”, is the honest expression of this painful experience of internal conflict and contradiction. The complaint of verse 24 is the mark of candor and proof of sensitivity. Once we admit that sin persists in the believer, the tension of 7:14-25 is inevitable and it is not the way of truth to ignore it. We are not to suppose that 7:14-25 is destitute of the triumphant note which is so conspicuous in chapter 8. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vs. 25). This is Paul’s answer to the complaint of verse 24. It is not the answer of defeat; it is the answer of assured confidence and hope.
Read or sing Hymn 236 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Give thanks that, through God’s grace, your struggle with sin is unto certain victory in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Tuesday (1/22) Read and discuss Genesis 15:1-6: Living by faith is hard. As Walter Bruggemann observes:
Abraham and Sarah were called out of their barrenness (11:30) by God’s powerful word (12:1). Their pilgrimage of hope had begun on no other basis than the promise of Yahweh (12:1-4a). The promise of Yahweh stood over against the barrenness. But when we arrive at chapter 15, the barrenness persists. That barrenness (which the promise has not overcome) poses the issue for this chapter. The large question is that the promise does delay, even to the point of doubt. It is part of the destiny of our common faith that those who believe in the promise and hope against barrenness nevertheless must live with the barrenness. Why and how does one continue to trust solely in the promise when the evidence against the promise is all around? It is this scandal that is faced here. It is Abraham’s embrace of this scandal that makes him the father of faith.
Since living by faith while living with barrenness is so hard, we might imagine that coming to faith is some sort of heroic achievement. Such a conclusion runs entirely contrary to both Genesis and Galatians. Once again, Walter Bruggemann helps point us in the right direction:
The new reality of faith for Abraham must be accounted as a miracle form God. The faith of Abraham should not be understood in romantic fashion as an achievement or as a moral decision. Rather, the newly ready Abraham is a creature of the word of promise. The situation of Abraham is paralleled to the confession of Peter (Matt. 16:16-17). Abruptly and without explanation of cause, Peter makes the same leap in his confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The gospel narrative also wants to ponder the question: How does such a man come to such a confession? How is faith possible in the life of unfaith? The response of Jesus indicates the miracle which faith is:
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
That is how this faith of Abraham is. He did not move from protest (vv. 2-3) to confession (v. 6) by knowledge or by persuasion but by the power of God who reveals and causes his revelation to be accepted. The new pilgrimage of Abraham is not grounded in the old flesh of Sarah nor the tired bones of Abraham, but in the disclosing word of God.
Read or Sing Psalm 73C Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Pilgrim Presbyterian Church in Dover, NH.
Wednesday (1/23) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 6:1-25. Commenting on verses 1-9, J. Ligon Duncan says:
If we were to say, “How does a congregation grow in godliness?” we would be right to start with God. We would also be right to say a congregation grows in godliness through the means of grace. God has appointed certain means–the reading and preaching of the word; prayer; the sacraments … He has appointed a variety of means in His church to grow His church in grace. We would be right to say that. But we would also be right to say that God has appointed families to be a nursery for godliness in the church, to be a vital school for Christian discipleship wherein the congregation grows deep and wide in godliness, and that’s what we’re going to talk about together. Isn’t it interesting that this is what is on Moses’ mind in [today’s] passage? We’re going to concentrate on Deuteronomy 6:4-9, but if you’ll look at verses 1 and 2, as Moses is speaking to the Israelites in what is his final sermon–the Book of Deuteronomy is his final sermon to the people of God–he says:
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it….”
By the way, can we stop right there and say he has just given you a beautiful definition of what discipleship is? It is both thinking and acting biblically. It’s not just thinking biblically, it’s acting biblically. Isn’t it interesting? He says here are the commandments that you are supposed to do. These are not commandments that you are simply to listen to, commandments that you are to know, commandments that you are to accept, commandments that you are to believe; these are commandments that I have taught you to practice, to do, to put into reality in your conduct and living. And so, the goal of Moses’ teaching is not just so that the Israelites will assent to a set of truths that he has taught them, but so that they will practice that truth. ‘This is the truth that I have taught you to do; not just to believe, but to do.’ And, therefore, Christian discipleship — godliness — entails thinking and acting biblically. But notice the next thing he says, verse 2:
“…So that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God….”
You see what’s on Moses’ mind. He is desirous of this godliness spreading throughout the congregation, but he’s not just talking about the present congregation. He’s thinking about their children, and their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.
Prayer: Please lift up the young people in our congregation and pray that they would trust in the LORD with all their heart and that the LORD would graciously extend the blessings of life in Christ to their children and to their children’s children.
Thursday (1/24) Read and discuss Matthew 20:20-28. Grant Osborne writes:
Servanthood is the only path to greatness in the kingdom. Jesus makes absolutely clear that the kingdom values and lifestyle are the exact opposite of the surrounding pagan world. This is exemplified in Luke 16:1-3, in the parable of the shrewd manager, and Jesus’ interpretation of it. The world “gets ahead” by taking, but the “people of light” by giving. Following Jesus, who was “in very nature God” but who in His incarnation took on “the very nature of a servant,” the disciple must seek humility but leaves the glory up to God.
Servanthood must exemplify every Christian leader, indeed every Christian. We will never be Christlike until we serve rather than manipulate others to serve us. As Wilkins says, “Because of the impact of God’s love in our loves, we can now love (1 John 4:19). And because of the transforming impact of God’s gift of grace in our lives, we can now give ourselves to serve others.”
Read or Sing Psalm 46B Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would build up our local church.
Friday (1/25) Read and discuss 1 Kings 1:11-40. Walter Maier writes:
David demonstrates that he still has a keen mind and great skill as an administrator. As soon as he is informed by Bathsheba and Nathan, David knows exactly what must be done to counter and foil Adonijah, he formulates a brilliant plan, and he has the plan carried out without delay. If Adonijah has Joab and Abiathar on his side, David will match and surpass Adonijah’s entourage of important people by involving in Solomon’s coronation the high priest Zadok, Benaiah (as a military leader the counterpart of Joab), and Nathan the prophet of Yahweh. These three men, together with the “servants” of David, would form a noticeable and somewhat sizable group. This group would place Solomon on David’s mule, which was a unique privilege, a very high honor, designating Solomon as David’s coregent. This important group of men, with Solomon on David’s mule, which was a unique privilege, a very high honor, designating Solomon as David’s coregent. This important group of men, with Solomon on David’s mule, would parade through Jerusalem, catching attention of the city’s residents and visitors, with the result that many people would gather and follow behind them. This growing crowd of people would proceed to the Gihon Spring, just outside the wall of Jerusalem, into an area which could accommodate a large assembly. There, before all the people, Zadok and Nathan would anoint Solomon to be the next king of Israel. Then a horn was to be blown, catching the attention of even more people and highlighting what followed as of the greatest importance: the public proclamation indicating that Solomon had become kin. But that was not all. The crowd was to process back into Jerusalem, and Solomon would enter the king’s palace, to sit on the very throne of David (this last act would be witnessed by some in the crowd but would be understood by all as having happened).
Read or sing Hymn 494 “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts” Prayer: Please lift up our congregation as we hold our Annual Meeting this evening.
Saturday (1/26) Read and discuss Romans 7:13-25. James Dunn writes:
Verse 25b is a classic statement of the eschatological tension set up by the death and resurrection of Christ; through His death writing finis to the age of Adam and through His resurrection introducing the age of the last Adam. In Paul’s understanding the tension is not one that is natural to man, or one that is consequent upn the fall of man. The fallenness of man is one side of it, but the tension is only set up by the introduction of the eschatological “now” in Christ. And it only becomes personal for Paul with conversion-initiation. The tension then is a tension not simply of redemption delayed, but precisely of a redemption already begun but not yet completed. The very fact that he can envisage a service of the law of God with the mind presupposes a renewed mind (cf. 12:2), a having died with Christ (6:2-11); while the continuing service of the law of sin with the flesh clearly indicates a dimension of the believer’s existence not yet caught up in the risen life of Christ (cf. 8:11, 23), a having-not-yet-been-raised with Christ. The assurance of future deliverance does not itself bring to an end the eschatological tension in which believers find themselves caught.
Contrary to some popular piety, which might have had a following at the time of Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 4:8), Paul does not teach that conversion-initiation brings a complete ending of or release from the flesh, or an immediate and lasting victory over the power of sin. On the contrary, it is spiritual warfare which is the sign of life. The eschatological tension is itself a proof that identification with Christ in His death has begun; it is the risen power of Christ which has begun to combat the power of sin.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.