26 May 2019 – The Rev. Gary Moore preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 212 “Come, Thou Almighty King”
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: Romans 1:16-17
Hymn of Preparation: 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 110
New Covenant Reading: Colossians 3:1-4
Sermon: Prayer and the Session of Christ
Hymn of Response: Psalm 61B
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 291 “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”
OT: Job (selected passages)
NT: John 11:17-27
The Voice of the Accuser & the Silence of God
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 92
Q. What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
Monday (5/20) Read and discuss Colossians 3:1-17. With today’s passage, the tone of Paul’s writing noticeably shifts. It will help us get more out of the rest of the letter if we understand why this is so and, also, where Paul is taking us. Dick Lucas points us in the right direction:
From now on, until 4:6, the tone of Paul’s letter is one of sustained exhortation. It is characteristic of the apostle’s method of teaching to arrange his material in this way, and to follow an exposition of Christ and he gospel with an explanation of what it means to live in the world consistently with such truth. He refuses to teach the doctrines of faith without insisting that they be translated into corresponding behavior and conduct.
Nor does the apostle call his hearers to a new way of life until they have understood what it means to be new persons in Christ. Paul is no mere moralist. For him there cannot be substantial goodness without godliness. If he is right here, it must follow that those standards of behavior, and that quality of life, that we have been accustomed to describe as Christian, cannot in the end survive a serious erosion of Christian standards of belief.
That last line is something we see playing out in Western churches right now. Western Christianity frequently operated in the twentieth century under the principle “deeds not creeds.” Today we are seeing these same churches abandoning any semblance to Biblical morality or as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” It is also important for us to realize that the flip side of this proposition is also true. If people seek to have sound theology that they don’t put into practice, they will inevitably lose not only their theology – but they will also lose the presence of God. As Jesus says to the church in Ephesus “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Revelation 2:5). Prayer: Pray that the children in our congregation would come to cherish God’s word and that they would zealously pursue being Christ’s disciples. Read or sing 212 “Come, Thou Almighty King” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in China as they undergo increased persecution.
Tuesday (5/21) Read and discuss Galatians 3:1-9. John Calvin writes:
The faith of Abraham was counted to him as righteousness. We must explain what Paul means here by faith and by righteousness and then say why faith is the cause of justification. … Faith is not mere belief … but involves a relation to the Word of God that enables people to rest and trust in God. … Righteousness is not something we have in ourselves but that we obtain by imputation, in that God accounts our faith as righteousness. We are therefore said to be justified by faith, not because faith infuses into us some habit or quality but because we are accepted by God. Faith is only the instrumental cause of our justification. Properly speaking, our righteousness is nothing but God’s free acceptance of us, one which our salvation is founded. … Righteousness is not a quality inherent in human beings but the pure gift of God, and it is possessed by faith only. It is not even a reward for our faith, because faith is only the means by which we receive what God freely gives. We are justified by the grace of God, Christ is our righteousness, the mercy of God is the cause of our righteousness, righteousness has been obtained for us by the death and resurrection of Christ, righteousness is bestowed on us through the gospel, we obtain righteousness by faith. … The person who is justified by faith has no righteousness of his own but is totally dependent on the grace of God alone.
Read or Sing Hymn 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Pleasant Mountain OPC in Bridgton, Maine.
Wednesday (5/22) Read and discuss Psalm 110:1-7. John Calvin writes:
The Holy Ghost here refers to something specific and peculiar, as distinguishing and separating this king from all other kings. This, too, is the well-known title with which Melchizedek was honored by Moses (Gen 14:18). Anciently, among heathen nations kings were wont to exercise the priestly office; but Melchizedek is called “the priest of the most high God.” The priesthood of Christ is invested with great importance, seeing that it is ratified by the oath of God. And, in fact, it is the very turning point upon which our salvation depends; because, but for our reliance on Christ our Mediator, we would be all debarred from entering into God’s presence. In prayer, too, nothing is more needful for us than sure confidence in God, and therefore he not only invites us to come to him, but also by an oath has appointed an advocate for the purpose of obtaining acceptance for us in his sight.
Prayer: Give thanks that your High Priest Jesus Christ ever lives to make intercession for us.
Thursday (5/23) Read and discuss John 11:17-27. This is a beautiful and stunning passage. Jesus reveals to Martha that the resurrection is not only an event it is a person. Jesus says: “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” But what exactly does it mean for Jesus to be the resurrection? One way to get out this is to think about Christ’s own resurrection from the dead. Why didn’t Jesus remain dead after He died? There are several good answers to this question, but allow me to highlight just one: The letter to the Hebrews points out that Jesus became our Great High Priest, not on the basis of his ancestry, but because He intrinsically had an indestructible life. That is, Jesus was not only truly man He was also truly God. Peter also proclaims this truth at Pentecost where he tells the crowd that:
God raised [Jesus] up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Once we realize that Jesus is truly God that makes complete sense. God cannot be destroyed. God cannot be conquered by death. But here is the astonishing thing that Jesus is telling Martha: Jesus is telling Martha that this isn’t just true about Him. Because Jesus came to identify with His people, it is true of every person who places his or her trust in Him. When, by God’s grace, you place your trust in Jesus Christ – you are vitally and permanently united with Jesus, … so that His life becomes your life. Just as it was not possible for death to hold Jesus – it is now no longer possible for death to maintain its grip upon you. Think about it this way. If Jesus holds you in His hands, and death holds you in its hands, it is death whose grip must be broken … for Jesus will never let you go. Read or Sing Psalm 61B Prayer: Give thanks that nothing can separate you from the love of God which is yours in Christ Jesus your Lord.
Friday (5/24) Read and discuss Job 2. Christopher Ash writes:
Above the visible and measurable material world of human sense lies a world in which he one Jesus calls “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31) and whom Paul will later call “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). “The air” here speaks of a region higher than earth (hence supernatural) but lower than the dwelling-place of God himself (Heavens). Our battle does not just take place at the human level (“against flesh and blood”) but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
This model is not dualist; the sovereignty of God is not compromised one iota in this model. But … we need to take account of these supernatural agencies, “the sons of God” in the language of Job and other Old Testament passages. And we need to grasp that the evil agencies, the devil and all his angels, while supernatural and superhuman, are sub-divine. Satan is, to again quote Luther’s famous phrase, “God’s Satan.”
Read or sing Hymn 291 “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.
Saturday (5/25) Read and discuss Colossians 3:1-17. Paul Deterding writes:
Christ is the epitome of the Christian life, for He has fully and perfectly displayed the virtues directed by God. In Him dwells all the fullness of Deity (1:19; 2:9). Because God the Son is the epitome, He is also able to be both enabler and example.
Our Lord is the enabler of the Christian life, for His redemptive work makes it possible for His people to live godly lives and motivates them to do so. Christ’s role as enabler of the Christian’s new life is what gives Christian ethics their unique status. Many of the virtues enjoined on Christians in Colossians and elsewhere in the NT are prized by other religions besides Christianity. They may well be considered desirable behavior by Jewish, or other religious, and even secular standards. What is unique about the Christian’s new life of sanctification is that through saving faith in Christ only Christians perform works in which God takes pleasure. While the believers’ deeds may not outwardly appear any different than the same works done by the unbelieving, only the believing are united with Him who enables His saints to do that with which God is pleased.
As the epitome of all Christian virtues, Christ is also the perfect example of these, so that believers have His example to emulate in their lives. This section of Colossians specifically directs believers to be continually forgiving one another as Christ, in His redemptive work, forgave them. In addition, a number of the virtues mentioned here are said to have characterized the life of Jesus: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace. When the apostle presents Christ as an example of Christian living for his readers, he indicates his own acquaintance with the earthly life of Jesus, which he may well have learned from the Lord Himself as well as other apostles.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.