17 March 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3
Opening Hymn: 238 “LORD, With Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”
Confession of Sin
Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good; And all our shortcomings and offenses. You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts; In forgetting Your love. But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You. Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son. And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Colossians 1:11-14
Hymn of Preparation: 243 “How Firm a Foundation”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 36:1-12
New Covenant Reading: Romans 8:31-39
Sermon: Nothing in All Creation
Hymn of Response: Psalm 8A
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 245 “Great is Thy Faithfulness”
OT: 1 Kings 2:26-35
NT: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
A Sorry Ending
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 82
Q. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No mere man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word and deed.
Monday (3/11) Read and discuss Romans 8:31-39. James Montgomery Boice writes:
Next to the bare facts of salvation, the greatest lesson a Christian can learn is that nothing can separate him or her from the love of Jesus Christ, which is the love of God. The world’s values, entertainments, and sins are at odds with a believer’s great calling and destiny. Yet all Christians can know that none of these things can triumph over them. Like a mountain climber ascending a dangerous precipice behind his guide, secured only by a rope, the Christian walks through life secured by the stout cord of God’s love. Because the way is treacherous, any believer may often slip and fall. But a disciple of Jesus Christ is secure, because every Christian is bound to God by a gracious, unchanging, eternal, and indestructible love.
Read or sing Hymn 238 “LORD, With Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD’s love for you will never change.
Tuesday (3/12) Read and discuss Romans 8:26-30. We have already heard the good news that the Holy Spirit is at work inside of us for our good. Now, in verse 28, Paul is saying that God is working everything outside of us together for our good too! What things? “All things!” Even really bad things? … Yes, even the most horrendously evil thing in all of history. Consider the early Christians in Acts chapter 4. Peter and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin and commanded to stop preaching in Jesus’s name. After they were released, they gathered with some of the Christians and prayed. They began by quoting Psalm 2:
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
Then applying this Psalm to their own immediate circumstances, they prayed:
… for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
Do you understand what they were praying? In the midst of their own persecution, they appealed to the most wicked deed in all of history – the crucifixion of the Son of God – at the hands of Herod and Pontius Pilate – and they confessed that, for all their evil intent – Herod and Pontius Pilate simply ended up carrying out what Almighty God had predestined to take place before time began. At Calvary, and during the week before the crucifixion, we have numerous people who are in open rebellion against God. There is Judas, the religious leaders – including both the High Priest and his father-in-law. There is both King Herod and Pontius Pilate. And let us not forget the crowds. A large crowd of Jewish people had cried out – “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” along with those dreadful words: “Let His blood be upon us and upon our children forever.” The LORD’s enemies were arrayed against Him, and yet Almighty God used all of them to carry out His determined plan for Christ to die for His people – a plan that He had ordained since before time began. Please get a grip on just how astonishing that is. As Rico Tice puts it: “You have to be very, very powerful to have your enemies do your bidding while acting against you.” And your heavenly Father isn’t just very, very powerful. … Your heavenly Father has absolute sovereignty over everything that will ever take place in the entire universe. Read or Sing Hymn 243 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that the Holy Spirit is working inside of you to help you in your weakness and the Father is working all things outside of you together for good.
Wednesday (3/13) Read and discuss Psalm 36:1-12. James Montgomery Boice writes:
The conclusion of the psalm is a prayer in which David prays for others who know God and are upright (v. 10) and for himself that he may be preserved from evildoers (v. 11). So confident is he of this final deliverance that the psalm closes with a prophetic glimpse of the wicked who, in his vision, “lie fallen –thrown down, not able to rise” (v. 12).
What is the final application of the psalm? It is what we have already seen in verse 7. What distinguishes the righteous from the wicked are not the good deeds of the godly (though they inevitably express their right relationship to God by good deeds), but rather that they, in distinction from the wicked, have taken refuge under the shadow of God’s wings. The words “find refuge” mean to flee for refuge, like a man guilty of manslaughter fleeing from the avenger of blood. They mean to flee with haste and intensity, stopping for nothing, until by the full thrust of our entire natures we find safety and deliverance beneath the wings and in the unfailing mercy of Almighty God.
That mercy is to be found in Jesus Christ. He said of Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, … how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34). The masses of Jesus’ day missed that great blessing and perished. The masses miss them today. Do not be one of them. Come to Jesus now.
Prayer: Give thanks that you are eternally secure under the Almighty wings of your LORD and Savior.
Thursday (3/14) Read and discuss 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. Gary Shogren writes:
There is a slogan that originated with a certain atheist comedian but was picked up by Christians and placed on T-shirts: “Jesus is coming … everyone look busy!” This is an uncouth version of what many Christians have pondered: If you knew Christ was coming this week, what would you change? …
There are Christians who have sought to remain vigilant by constructing arcane systems that spit out data about when Christ might come. This is not simply misdirected fervor; rather, it is thoroughly anti-biblical. In the Scriptures, preparedness is not based on knowing a date but on not knowing a date. It is defined as living as children of the day even when the day of the Lord is unpredictable.
Life in the light of Christ’s return is not some mystical experience. Rather, it reveals itself in concrete, everyday actions as empowered by the Spirit. In this letter alone, “readiness” includes the following: deeds of love, patience, peace, gentleness, mutual encouragement, hard work, behaving righteously with regard to alcohol use, and sexual behavior, treating other believers properly, evangelism, thanksgiving, and prayer.
Read or Sing Psalm 8A Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH as they seek their next pastor.
Friday (3/15) Read and discuss 1 Kings 2:26-35. Walter Maier writes:
Joab fled to the altar, which some in Israel would have considered a place of refuge. This was a desperate effort, a clutching at straws, the only thing Joab realized he could try in order to avoid being put to death. In essence, Joab was daring Solomon to slay him at the altar. If this would not work, if Solomon took up the dare, the commander was attempting to have at least a measure of control over his death – dictating where he would be terminated. Further, the old warrior and general, at least in his mind, was fighting back and gaining one last victory, in that he would be leaving, so he thought, a black mark on Solomon and his reign in the eyes of many people. He would be forcing the king to violate the sanctuary they thought the altar provided.
Benaiah is uncomfortable with having to carry out the execution at the altar; he at first wants to avoid this. In fact the command “come out” indicates that he desires that Joab not only move away from the altar but also leave the sacred area in front of and around the tent and “come out” to common ground to be slain. He refrains from killing Joab, returns word of the situation to Solomon, and awaits further order from the king.
Solomon takes up Joab’s dare and throws it back in his face. The king does not hesitate to have the general executed at the altar. In Ex 21:14 God says, “And when a man acts presumptuously against his neighbor, to murder him with craftiness, from my altar you will take him to die.” God is stating that a man, guilty of premeditated murder, who apparently fled to the altar for sanctuary, is not to be granted protection because of the altar, that is the key thought. Rather, he is to be taken away from the place (and put to death). The passage does not absolutely forbid his being slain there.
Read or sing Hymn 245 “Great is Thy Faithfulness” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in China as they live with increased persecution.
Saturday (3/16) Read and discuss Romans 8:31-39. R.C. Sproul writes:
“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? (v. 33).” Satan works to bring every conceivable slanderous charge against God’s elect. Satan never ceases accusing the brethren. He never stops harassing us and getting at our consciences, telling u how wicked we are and that we do not deserve to be in fellowship with Christ. The principal work of Satan in the life of the believer is not temptation, though he is engaged in that; his chief work is accusation. He accuses us in order to take away our assurance and joy and the consolation that is ours in Christ. He keeps reminding us of our sin. He keeps telling us of our shortcomings. He lays against God’s elect every conceivable charge that he can bring; yet, there is no work more futile, which is why Paul mocks Satan with this question. What can be sillier than to bring accusations against those who have been redeemed through the blood of the Lamb? The one who justifies is the judge of all, and he has declared us just by the imputation of the perfect righteousness of Christ.
Who can rightly bring any charge against Jesus? He said to His contemporaries, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” He is sinless, so any attempt to charge Jesus with sin is an exercise in futility. It is a waste of time and breath because the Father knows that Christ is without sin. Christ’s perfect obedience is transferred to the account of all who put their faith in him. It is just as futile for anyone to lay a charge against us as it is to lay a charger against Christ, because we are clothed in His righteousness. We are justified by His merit. God has not pardoned or exonerated us, but having clothed us with the righteousness of Christ He has pronounced His verdict of righteous. One the supreme, sovereign judge declares us righteous in His sight, all the slander in the world can make no impact on God’s assured, final judgment. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because the judge has declared us just.
Justification is not just an abstract doctrine, and we must never negotiate it. It is the very heart and soul of the gospel. Because of our justification in Jesus Christ, we need fear no slander from Satan or from the world.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.