3 March 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: Psalm 2A
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: Joel 2:12-13
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 115A
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 71:1-24
New Covenant Reading: Romans 8:18-25
Sermon: Saved in Hope
Hymn of Response: 474 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: Psalm 62A
OT: Psalm 8:1-9
[Singing Psalm 8A]
NT: Hebrews 2:5-18
O LORD, Our LORD
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 80
Q. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.
Monday (3/25) Read and discuss Romans 8:18-25. Michael Bird writes:
Entering the world of Romans 8:18-30 forces us to understand [the] Christian life as a pilgrimage that takes us from groaning to glory. We are all spiritual sojourners making our way in a fallen world and looking ahead to the celestial city as the hope that lies before us. We follow Christ, who paved the way ahead of us, a way of suffering, the way of the cross; yet it is also the way to life and glory. Those who bear Christ’s name are not excused from this journey; on the contrary, it is precisely because they are in Chris that they too must share in Christ’s sufferings so that they might also share in his glory. As Kasemann said: “The Spirit who makes Christ present on earth is the very one who imposes on them a pilgrim theology.” … Thus we go on in our pilgrimage, in the throes of heartache, while lifting our eyes on the joy set before us. Happily, we are sustained in each step by God our Father, Christ our brother, and the Spirit our helper.
Read or sing Psalm 2A Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Tuesday (2/26) Read and discuss Romans 8:12-17. One of the official confessions of Lutheranism is the Formula of Concord. Today’s passage was a key text beyond the Formula of Concord’s teaching about doubts and the assurance of salvation. It reads:
Since the Holy Spirit dwells in the elect who have come to faith as He dwells in His temple, and is not idle in them but urges them to obey the commandments of God, believers likewise should not be idle, still less oppose the urgings of the Spirit of Go, but should exercise themselves in all Christian virtues, in all godliness, modesty, temperance, patience, and brotherly love, and should diligently seek to “confirm their call and election” so that the more they experience the power and might of the Spirit within themselves, the less they will doubt their election. For the Spirit testifies to the elect that they are “children of God.”
Read or Sing Psalm 115A Prayer: Please lift up our denomination’s foreign missions committee as it meets today.
Wednesday (2/20) Read and discuss Psalm 71:1-24. Alec Motyer writes:
How far back in your life can you trace the hand of God? If you have never done this, I venture to think you will be surprised! In my earliest infancy I was left for a weekend with my maternal grandmother – and the weekend stretched out for my first seven years! The direct result of this is that I cannot remember a time when I did not love the Bible as the word of God. Was this not the hand of God? I could tell you of more ‘coincidences’ (as they are called), and ‘accidents’ (as they seem), and the right person being in the right place at the right time – but I have no doubt that your ‘story’ is similar. Consciously or unconscious to us, Yahweh has been our support since birth (Psalm 71:6); it was he who caused us to be born at the time and place of his choice. Not accident but design, not coincidence but plan, not chance but diving direction – that is the story of every believer, the secret history of every conversion. It is the direct implication of the wonderous title of ‘Sovereign one’ (verses 5, 16), a God who truly is God, who holds in his hand not only the broad sweep of history, but the tiniest details of personal stories; a God whom no circumstance or adversary – or collection of adversaries – can defeat; present in every place, master of every situation, deciding and controlling at every time. And so it will continue to be as long as earthily life shall last.
Prayer: Give thanks that not even a hair from your head can fall to the ground apart from your heavenly Father’s will and care for you.
Thursday (2/21) Read and discuss Hebrews 2:5-18. N.T. Wright comments:
Some while ago there was a movie by the name A River Runs through It. It told the story of two brothers growing up in the beautiful Montana countryside. The older one was quiet, studious, hard-working; he got a good job and became a respected man in the community. His tearaway younger brother was great fun, but was always getting into scrapes, pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable. He ended up associating with people who led him deeper and deeper into trouble, and was finally killed in a brawl. His older brother couldn’t help him. They had grown too far apart.
It was a moving and tragic story, and the most tragic thing about it was this: the older son saw what was happening to his beloved younger brother, and there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn’t reach him. He couldn’t come to where he was and rescue him.
The point of the present passage is that Jesus, the older brother of a much larger family, could and did come to where his siblings were, wallowing in the land of sin and death. He identified with them, shared their fate, and thereby rescued them from it. Above all other passages in early Christian writings, this one speaks most fully about Jesus as the oldest brother, the firstborn, of a large family. It encourages us to see Jesus not as the kind of older brother whom we resent because he’s always getting things right and being successful while we’re always getting things wrong and failing, but as the kind of older brother who, without a trace of patronizing or looking down his nose at us, comes to find us where we are, out of sheer love and goodness of heart, and to help us out of the mess.
Read or Sing Hymn 474 “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH as they seek a new pastor.
Friday (3/1) Read and discuss Psalm 8:1-9. Calvin writes:
From the dominion over all things which God has conferred upon men, it is evident how great is the love which he has borne towards them, and how much account he has made of them. As he does not stand in need of anything himself, he has destined all the riches, both of heaven and earth, for their use. It is certainly a singular honor and one which cannot be sufficiently estimated, that mortal man, as the representative of God, has dominion over the world, as if it pertained to him by right, and that to whatever quarter he turns his eyes, he sees nothing wanting which he may contribute to the convenience and happiness of his life. Now, there is no doubt, that if there is anything in heaven or on earth which is opposed to men, the beautiful order which God had established in the world at the beginning is now thrown into confusion. The consequence of this is, that mankind, after they were ruined by the fall of Adam, were not only deprived of so distinguished an honorable an estate, and dispossessed of their former dominion, but are also held captive under a degrading and ignominious bondage. Christ, it is true, is the lawful heir of heaven and earth, by whom the faithful recover what they had lost in Adam; but he has not as yet actually entered upon the full possession of his empire and dominion. What is here said by David will not be perfectly accomplished until death be abolished. There remains the hope of a better state than the present.
Read or sing Hymn Psalm 62A Prayer: Please lift up the two Orthodox Presbyterian churches in Rochester, NY (Covenant OPC and Memorial OPC) as they merge this evening to become Cornerstone Presbyterian Church.
Saturday (3/2) Read and discuss Romans 8:18-25. R.C. Sproul writes:
A philosopher, John Stuart Mill, considered the manifest presence in the world of pain, suffering, violence, and wickedness, and he concluded that what we encounter on a daily basis belies any hope of a good and loving God. In skepticism he said that if God is a God of love yet he allows such pain and suffering, then he is powerless to prevent it and is nothing more than a divine weakling incapable of administering peace and justice. If, on the other hand, he has the power to prevent evil but chooses not to, standing by and allowing it, then he may be powerful, but he is not good or loving. The complaint Mill raised against historical Christianity is that either God is good but not all powerful, or he is all powerful but not good.
What is missing from Mill’s oversimplified equation concerning the economy of grief and pain in the world is the reality of sin. God not only tolerates violence and suffering, but he also – even more so – actually ordains it, yet we cannot leave sin out of the equation. It is not that God lacks in goodness; it is that we lack in goodness. The entrance of human sin into the world plunged the whole creation into ruin, a ruin that includes not just people but animals and the land itself; the earth mourns because of us. When the transgression came in paradise, the curse of God extended beyond Adam and Eve and even beyond the serpent; the land itself was cursed.
Throughout the prophetic oracles of the Old Testament, we see God chastening his people Israel for their hard-necked disobedience, and he tells them though the prophets that because they do not listen to his word, violence follows upon violence. The land mourns; the ground suffers. When the Bible rehearses the repercussions of the fall, it does so in cosmic terms. The effects of the fall on the human species and the ruination of the whole creation are laid at our doorstep. This reflects God’s judgment upon us, which spills over into the domain in which we were created to be God’s vice-regents in exercising dominion over the earth, the animals, and the ground. When we were ruined, everything under our dominion was affected by it.
That is what Paul is concerned to reflect n the passage before us, but first he sets a contrast between the present and the future, between the present sufferings and the future glory that God has prepared for his people. Paul is quick to point out that this is not a simple formula of ratio and proportionality. There is no analogy between the present climate of pain the and future climate of blessedness. The comparative here is in terms of how much more. The usually articulate Paul cannot seem to find words, even under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to describe the radical difference between the now and the then: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (v. 18).” The difference between the present degree of pain we experience and the blessedness to which God has appointed his people is so immensely different that there is no way to compare them. Any comparison we come up with falls short.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.