10 February 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: Psalm 103:8-10
Hymn of Preparation: 391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”
Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
New Covenant Reading: Romans 8:5-11
Sermon: Life and Peace in the Spirit
Hymn of Response: 277 “Before the Throne of God Above”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies”
OT: 1 Kings 1:41-53
NT: Luke 12:1-7
Like a House of Cards
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 77
Q. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.
Monday (2/4) Read and discuss Romans 8:5-11. James Montgomery Boice writes:
In verse 5 the apostle contrasts the unbeliever and the Christian in terms of their thinking, saying that the unbeliever has his mind set on what the sinful nature desires but that the Christian has his mind “set on what the Spirit desires.” This is a profound way of speaking, for it eliminates many misconceptions of what it means to be a Christian while it establishes the truly essential thing.
First, it eliminates the idea that the Christian is someone who is merely very “religious.” To be religious and to be mindful of the things of the Spirit are two entirely different things. The Pharisees were religious, excessively so, but they killed Jesus. Before he was saved, Paul was religious, but he expressed his religion by trying to do away with Christians. Ironically, one function of religion is to try to eliminate God.
Paul’s way of speaking also eliminates the idea that a Christian is anyone who merely holds to right theological beliefs. … Do not get me wrong here. I know that there are degrees of understanding on the part of Christians and that many true Christians are yet babes in Christ, perhaps because they have never been given adequate teaching. Many might be unable to describe their faith in any terms more adequate than those I have just given. I do not want to deny that they are Christians. But what I do want to say is that it is possible to confess those things and still not be a Christian, simply because a Christian is more than giving mere verbal assent to certain doctrines. It is to be born again. And since being born again is the work of God’s Spirit, it is right to insist that those who are truly born again will have their minds set on what God desires.
Finally, Paul’s way of speaking eliminates the idea that a Christian is someone who has attained a certain standard of approved conduct.
What, then, does being a Christian mean? It means exactly what Paul says. The Christian is someone who has been born again by the work of the Holy Spirit and who now, as a result of the internal transformation, has his mind set on what the Spirit of God desires. If we are Christians, it does not mean that we have attained to this standard, at least not fully. But it does mean that we want to. Do you remember the illustration of the path? Being on the path does to mean that we have arrived at our destination. If it did, we would already be completely like Jesus. But it does mean that we are moving along this path, that we are following Jesus, who is going before us, that we are trying to be like Him.
Read or sing Hymn 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus paid it all so that all we need to do is trust Him for His life and work.
Tuesday (2/5) Read and discuss Romans 8:1-4. In Augustus Toplady’s great hymn, Rock of Ages, we sing:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
In justification, the LORD deals with the guilt of sin in our lives. In sanctification, the LORD deals with the power and presence of sin in our lives. And He does both of these things in Christ, and in Christ alone. Are you enjoying the blessing of full acceptance with God right now? Are you filled with the confident knowledge that God the Holy Spirit is at work in you – breaking the power of cancelled sin and progressively transforming you into the likeness of Jesus Christ? There is only one place where these blessings can be found:
[For] “So long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from Him, all that He has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value to us (John Calvin).”
Yet, in Him, we are right now fully accepted and loved by our Heavenly Father – even as He transforms us to make us fit for life in the age to come. Read or Sing Hymn 391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit” Prayer: Please lift up our Session and Diaconate as they meet together this evening.
Wednesday (2/6) Read and discuss Ezekiel 37:1-14. The following story is told from the old Soviet Union before the Berlin wall fell:
The communist lecturer paused before summing up. His large audience listened fearfully. ‘Therefore,’ he said, ‘there is no God; Jesus Christ never existed; there is no such thing as a Holy Spirit. The Church is an oppressive institution, and anyway it’s out of date. The future belongs to the State; and the State is in the hands of the Party.’
He was about to sit down when an old priest near the front stood up. ‘May I say two words?’ he asked (It’s three in English, but he was of course speaking Russian). The lecturer disdainfully, gave him permission. He turned, looked out over the crowd, and shouted: ‘Christ is risen!’ Back came the roar of the people: ‘He is risen indeed!’ They’d been saying it ever Easter for a thousand years; why should they stop now?
In this story we are reminded how subversive Easter is to all the tyrannies of this world. Tyrants all base their power on the ability to kill. “They claim to have the keys of death and hell, but they’re lying. Where the tyrants’ power runs out, God’s power begins. He raises the dead (N.T. Wright).” Today’s passage reminds us of the explosive nature of this truth. Even the Bible believing Church sometimes tones down and domesticates the explosive nature of Christ rising from the dead in the middle of history. We rightly speak of Easter as the source of our spiritual life and our hope for the future. Christ’s resurrection does mean those things, but it is also about far more than our private spiritual lives. Today’s passage speaks of the entire nation of Israel being nothing but dry dead bones. God steps in and sovereignly gives them new life. This new life is not merely individual and private – it is corporate and powerful. Ezekiel sees the whole house of Israel being reconstituted as a mighty army. It is a foretaste of the transformative event that crashed into the world when Christ conquered the last enemy and rose triumphantly from the grave. More than a rescue plan, Easter morning is the proclamation and the beginning of God’s new creation. “It declares that, after all, God is God, and that His kingdom shall come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Easter speaks of a world reborn (N.T. Wright).” It is easy to become discouraged when we dwell on our culture or the state of the Church in our country; but for God’s people the decisive victory has already been won. The pain of this world is real and so we rightly weep. Yet, because Christ is risen, we can look forward in confidence to the day when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and we will dwell in His house forever. And because He lives, we can courageously live as His people in the world today – paradoxically as a meek yet mighty army. Prayer: Lift up our brothers and sisters at the OPC congregation in Jaffrey, NH.
Thursday (2/7) Read and discuss Luke 12:1-7. David Garland writes:
The promise is that the truth will be proclaimed. What begins behind the closed doors of an upstairs room will soon spill out onto the streets of Jerusalem and will continue to be proclaimed unhinderedly to the ends of the earth. The disciples who proclaim the gospel will face pressure from those who would deny, denigrate, and suppress the work of the Holy Spirit. Their lives may be threatened for their proclamation. In that moment of crisis, they will face the decision to acknowledge and proclaim the Son of Man or to deny him. They will be tempted to equivocate or be silent. They also will be tempted not to trust the power of the Holy Spirit or God’s providential care.
To fear the powers of the world and to acquiesce to them is to doubt Jesus’ power as the resurrected Lord who reigns over all. These powers are false powers. They can take life, but they cannot create or give life. When they have killed, they are through, but God is not. God has power over life and death and a person’s ultimate destiny after death. If God is attentive to what happens to even the slightest of creatures, certainly God will show care for Jesus’ followers. If God cares enough to number their hairs, they are certainly prized. If they perish, they will not perish eternally. The persecution and even the death of Jesus’ followers do not mean that God’s redemptive purpose somehow has been derailed. Green comments, “Jesus’ instruction is permeated by his vision of God, who has ultimate oversight in the unfolding of earthly events.”
These sayings reveal that while salvation is present, it is also future and yet to be fully revealed. … He is giving assurance that when they proclaim the truth, God is in complete control and those who resist their proclamation with violence will pay the penalty.
Read or Sing Hymn 277 “Before the Throne of God Above” Prayer: Please lift up those in our congregation who are struggling with health challenges.
Friday (2/8) Read and discuss 1 Kings 1:41-53. Walter Maier writes:
Solomon’s decision (1:52) shows a gracious spirit and wisdom. Everyone, including Adonijah, would have to admit that he was fair, and even more than fair. Solomon at the very least could have had Adonijah exiled from Israel. However, one reason for letting Adonijah remain in Jerusalem might have been Solomon’s desire to spare his father additional sadness, after David had experienced so much grief in his family life, including the deaths of at least three of his sons. Another reason could have been that Solomon wished to keep an eye on Adonijah. (An old adage is “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”) With his decision, Solomon has gone on public record as saying, in essence, “Adonijah, I have spared you this time. But you are on a very short leash. If you are disloyal in the future, even in a small way, you will be finished.”
Adonijah coming and bowing before Solomon was most appropriate (1:53). Noticeably conspicuous by its absence, however, accord to the account, was any warm greeting from Solomon, any embrace between the two men as brothers, any conversation between them. Solomon’s single, terse command, “go to your house,” has a rather cold, even ominous tone. Solomon remains suspicious of Adonijah and does not trust him. The king senses that he has not seen the last of trouble from Adonijah.
In the end, one perceives how God used people, especially Nathan, Bathsheba, and above all David, for the accomplishment of His gracious will. With regard to the human element, David’s role was paramount. Adonijah had not counted on the king being promptly informed of his feast at the Zohelet Stone or on David acting so quickly and decisively. Adonijah had vastly underestimated David’s current capability, control in Israel, authority, and support by the people. From the human standpoint, there was suspense for a while, and then David, Bathsheba, Nathan, and Solomon emerged as the winners, and Adonijah the loser. But behind all this, Yahweh was always firmly in control. Solomon, the obedient “servant” (1:19, 26), ultimately was exalted by God; so also was David’s later and greatest Son, who took the form of a servant and was obedient, even to death on a cross, Jesus Christ.
Read or sing Hymn 157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies” Prayer: Please lift up the teenagers in our congregation that they would grow in their knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ.
Saturday (2/9) Read and discuss Romans 8:5-11. Tom Schreiner writes:
We must emphasize that Paul never proclaims that human ability is sufficient to keep God’s commands. Believers are not summoned to love or live a life worthy of God on the basis of their own abilities. The power of the Holy Spirit is the only means by which believers can do what God commands. In Pauline letters, commands are often given after Paul has detailed what God has accomplished in Christ for his people. In other words, the indicative precedes the imperative. A godly life is the fruit of the Spirit, the result of the Spirit’s work and power in the life of the Christian. Believers overcome the flesh … by walking in, and being led by, the Spirit. … Those who walk in the Spirit fulfill the law. Those who are led by the Spirit are characterized by joy, praise and singing, and they have right relations with their families and in society. It would be a complete distortion of Pauline theology if one understood his exhortations as appealing to human potential and ability. Only through the work of the Spirit can a believer keep what is commanded; and in this life such obedience, though significant, will always be partial and incomplete.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.