5 May 2019 – The Rev. Stephen Migotsky preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 524 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”
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: John 1:29
Hymn of Preparation: 387 “Day of Judgment, Day of Wonders”
Old Covenant Reading: Daniel 7:13-18
New Covenant Reading: Luke 21:5-38
Sermon: Destruction to Jerusalem, Persecution, and the End
Hymn of Response: 511 “Take up Your Cross”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 446 “Be Thou My Vision”
OT: Psalm 61:1-8
NT: 1 Peter 2:1-12
Singing Psalm 61B
Longing for the Rock
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 89
Q. How is the word made effectual to salvation?
A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching, of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.
Monday (4/29) Read and discuss Luke 21:5-38. N.T. Wright comments:
Jesus’ warnings about what the disciples will face in the days to come clearly indicate that He will no longer be with them, but that they will be marked out as His followers. Others will come pretending to be Him, or to be His spokesperson. The world will be convulsed with wars and revolutions, all the more alarming because, without radio, television, telephones or newspapers, people would hear of such things by rumor from travelers, and would pass on the news with additional speculation until a border skirmish had been inflated , in the telling, to become an all-out war, and the Emperor’s occasional sneeze had been exaggerated into a fatal illness.
Jesus clearly expects that amid these turbulent times His followers will be marked out as undesirables. People would retain a memory of Jesus as someone leading Israel astray, deflecting people from keeping the law, and from defending the national interest, with His dangerous talk of God’s kingdom, of peace and grace for all. When the going got tough, in Israel, and in Jewish communities around the world, those who were known as Jesus’ people would be in the firing line; and, quite soon, non-Jewish communities would follow their example. Families would be split; sometimes it would seem that the Christians were the ones blamed for everything, the ones everybody loved to hate. If ever they needed patience, they would need it then.
Jesus promises, though, that He will give them what they need during this time of waiting: ‘a mouth of wisdom.’ This promise should not, of course, be taken as license to ignore the hard work required for regular Christian teaching. It refers to the times when people are on trial for their lives because of their allegiance to Jesus. The story of the first generation of Christianity – the time between the resurrection of Jesus and the fall of the Temple in AD 70 – bears out these prophecies.
Read or sing 524 “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” Prayer: Please pray for our Presbytery as it meets today and tomorrow.
Tuesday (4/30) Read and discuss Romans 10:5-13. What marks you out as a true member of the people of God? Today’s passage tells us the wonderful news that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. So, we are marked out as true members of God’s family simply by believing in Jesus Christ. “For everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved!” And yet, we have a problem. It seems like most of us are hard-wired to think that if the outcome is great blessing that it must involve some sort of extraordinary effort on our part. Consider Naaman, the Syrian General with leprosy, when he came to Elisha, the man of God, seeking to be healed. Naaman arrives with cartloads of goods, including ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold. He understands how the prophets of the ancient world worked – itchy palms. He wanted a great healing and he was willing to pay a great price. But he wasn’t ready to meet Yahweh! What did Elisha do? Elisha not only refused to take anything from Naaman – he didn’t even come out to meet with him. Elisha sent out a servant who told him – just wash seven times in the Jordan River and you will be healed. Do you see how that is just like what Moses was telling the Jews of his own day in Deuteronomy: (i) It isn’t your merit (that is, you can’t pay for it); and (ii) It isn’t hard. Do you remember how Naaman responded? He became furious!!
[He] … went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.
Isn’t that fascinating? Elisha said: (1) You don’t need to merit anything; and (2) It won’t be hard. And the Syrian General exploded with rage.
But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
What a beautiful picture of salvation by grace alone! Think about all the things you might want to accomplish over the next 20 or 30 years. If there was a sure fire way to make every team you wanted to join, that guaranteed you would get into the college or training program you wanted, that guaranteed you good health, and happy relationships, and a lot of money – but that it was going to require you to do something really hard for the next three months – wouldn’t you try to do it? And that is for things that are going to pass away. How much more would you be willing to work and endure hardship so that you could forever live with Jesus in the paradise of the New Heavens and the New Earth. But Jesus isn’t calling you to go and do it. Jesus is telling you that He has already gone and done it. Jesus lived the life that you and I should have lived, and He died the death that you and I should have died, so that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Who will be saved? Everyone! Everyone who calls on the LORD will be saved … even you! Read or Sing Hymn 387 “Day of Judgment, Day of Wonders” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka as they deal with the terror that has struck their country.
Wednesday (5/1) Read and discuss Daniel 7:15-22. In Genesis 3:15 God declares to Satan:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
If we’re honest we will admit that it often doesn’t look like that. It certainly didn’t look like this in Daniel’s day and God still hasn’t put everything under Christ’s feet in our own. How would Daniel have compared this promise to the world around him? He had been dragged away from his home by the pagan empire of Babylon. Everywhere he looked, the power of Babylon (and the weakness of Israel) was on display. Perhaps the LORD would rapidly reverse this situation and soon Jerusalem would become the world’s dominant city. Alas, it was not to be. The LORD revealed to Daniel that the Babylonian Empire would be succeeded by that of the Medes and the Persians. The Persian Empire would in turn fall before Alexander the Great which would in turn be swallowed up and overshadowed by Rome. One pagan superpower would succeed another for centuries until God set up a kingdom that was wholly unlike the kingdoms of this world. For a time the pagan rulers signified by the ten horns (v. 21) would make war against the saints and prevail against them … but that is not the end of the story. For “the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’” Living in the twenty-first century we can look back and see how the LORD has already given us a down payment on fulfilling this promise. Any balanced view of history will reveal that the Church has had greater influence on world history than any secular government. Yet, it is only a down payment. We have much to look forward to. When our circumstances seem bleakest, we should encourage ourselves with the truth that the powers of darkness are temporary – but God’s Kingdom is forever. Prayer: Give thanks that the kingdoms of this world will all become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.
Thursday (5/2) Read and discuss 1 Peter 2:1-12. Chuck Swindoll writes: “Want to ruin your year? Make sure that you worry a lot, fix your attention on getting rich, compare yourself with others, lengthen your list of enemies, and cling to unrealistic expectations.” Of course, no one sets out to ruin the coming year – but the absurdity of doing so helps us pay closer attention to what the Holy Spirit is telling us through the Apostle Peter:
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Why wouldn’t we all do this? Because we think we deserve to be treated better right now than we actually are in this world. That is why we rationalize our petty deceits, hypocrisy, and envy – we think we deserve better. On the other hand, Peter agrees with that sentiment, but he points out two truths that should revolutionize are attitude toward life:
- First, look to Jesus. If anyone was treated far worse than He deserved – it was Jesus. Our Lord was rejected by men but chosen and precious to God.
- Second, we who follow Jesus should expect to be treated just like He was. The amazing thing is that, in Him, we too are precious and honored by God the Father. Peter writes: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” It is pretty hard to feel sorry for yourself while contemplating these words.
Read or Sing Hymn 511 “Take up Your Cross” Prayer: Ask the LORD to lesson anxiety in your life by causing you to seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness with the confidence that He will advance His Kingdom and bless you with everything that you need.
Friday (5/3) Read and discuss Psalm 61:1-8. Calvin writes:
God never disappoints His servants, but crowns with everlasting happiness the struggles and the distresses which may have exercised their faith. They convey and implied censure of that unwarrantable confidence, which is indulged in by the wicked, when favored, through the Divine forbearance, with any interval of prosperity. The success which flatters them is merely imaginary and speedily vanishes. But inheritance suggests that the people of God enjoy a species of prosperity more solid and enduring; their momentary and short-lived troubles having only the effect of promoting their eternal welfare. He praises God that those who fear His name are not left to the poor privilege of rejoicing for a few days, but secured in a permanent heritage of happiness. The truth is one which cannot be questioned. The wicked, having no possession by faith of the divine benefits which they may happen to share, live on from day to day, as it were, upon plunder. It is only such as fear the LORD who have the true and legitimate enjoyment of their blessings.
Read or sing Hymn 446 “Be Thou My Vision” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church our Mission Work in Farmington, Maine.
Saturday (5/4) Read and discuss Luke 21:29-38. Darrell Bock writes:
Luke wants his readers to see that the end is certain and that the church will be under intense pressure until it comes. Disciples need to be prepared. But Jesus’ authority, which is reflected in his return, also means an obligation to live in a way that is honoring to God. Only those dependent upon God and relying on the strength He provides will endure the pressure of this interim period. Jesus prepares disciples for His departure, reminding them that His return is more certain than the continuation of creation. Jesus assures his disciples that, despite His absence, He is in control, is watching, and will be returning to gather his own. He will show His authority to the world. Disciples are to live faithfully, watch, and pray until He returns.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.