30 June 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 224 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”
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: Hebrews 8:10-12
Hymn of Preparation: 218 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You”
Old Covenant Reading: Ruth 2:1-7
New Covenant Reading: Romans 12:1-2
Sermon: Offered Bodies, Renewed Minds
Hymn of Response: 265 “In Christ Alone”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 466 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”
OT: 1 Kings 7:13-51
NT: Revelation 21:9-27
Holy to the LORD
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 97
Q. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.
Monday (6/24) Read and discuss Romans 12:1-2. What does refusing to be conformed to the world look like? I suspect that for most of us, this is a lot easier to do in theory than in practice. How do we respond when powerful people, even the leaders of our nation, push against the church with an agenda that is very popular with the broader culture? An interesting example of that when David Cameron, then the Prime Minister of England, declared that the church needs to “get with the program” when it comes to supporting women Bishops. What do you do when the Prime Minister of your nation is advocating that you get with the spirit of the age knowing that the vast majority of the nation’s citizen’s would be cheering him for doing so? Bishop N.T. Wright responded in The Times with a piece that is instructive for all of us – far beyond the specific debate over women clergy. He writes:
It won’t do to say, then, as David Cameron did, that the Church of England should “get with the programme” over women bishops. And Parliament must not try to force the Church’s hand, on this or anything else. That threat of political interference, of naked Erastianism in which the State rules supreme in Church maters, would be angrily resisted if it attempted to block reform: it is shameful for “liberals” in the Church to invite it in their own cause. The Church that forgets to say “we must obey God rather than human authorities” has forgotten what it means to be the Church. The spirit of the age is in any case notoriously fickle. You might as well, walking in the mist, take a compass bearing on a mountain goat. What is more, the Church’s foundation documents (to say nothing of its Founder himself) were notoriously on the wrong side of history. The Gospel was foolishness to the Greeks, said St. Paul, and a scandal to Jews. The early Christians got a reputation for believing all sorts of ridiculous things such as humility, chastity, and resurrection, standing up for the poor and giving slaves equal status with the free. And for valuing women more highly than anyone else had ever done. People thought them crazy, but they stuck to their counter-cultural Gospel. If the Church had allowed Prime Ministers to tell them what the “programme” was, it would have sunk without trace in fifty years. If Jesus had allowed Caiaphas or Pontius Pilate to dictate their “programme” to Him there wouldn’t have been a Church in the first place (quoted by Michael Bird).
Read or sing 224 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to stand on the LORD’s side – no matter who is standing against Him.
Tuesday (6/25) Read and discuss Romans 11:25-36. As Cranfield notes: “[With that] the discussion of chapters 9 through 11 comes to its natural and fitting conclusion in a doxology.” He continues:
Paul has certainly not provided neat answers to [all] the baffling question which arise in connection with the subject matter of all these chapters. He has certainly not swept away all the difficulties. But, if we have followed him through these chapters with serious and open-minded attentiveness, we may well feel that he has given us enough to enable us to repeat the ‘Amen’ of his [great] doxology.
Now that we have studied these chapters in detail, why not sit down and read Romans 9 through 11 at one sitting – and see how it leads you to share in Paul’s “Amen”? And this is far more than an ‘Amen’ of mere acknowledgment. Tom Wright captures the spirit of the matter when he writes:
The project of God’s new creation, …, is not yet complete. But the architect has designed it. The foundations are securely laid. The work is already well in hand. The final completion is not in doubt. It is time to stand back, not exactly in admiration – that implies a kind of cool appraisal, an approving nod from one who might in principle have done such a thing themselves – [rather, we are to stand back] in sheer awe and breathtaking wonder at the scale and scope of it all. Glory to God forever!
This is where Paul has been leading us. That we would look at the finished work of Christ and His ongoing work in redemptive history – and stand in wonderous awe of what God has done and continues to do. Read or Sing Hymn 218 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You” Prayer: Give thanks for the unfathomable wisdom and grace of God which is being manifest in His plan of redemption.
Wednesday (6/26) Read and discuss Ruth 2:1-7. John Wilch writes:
Ruth had requested permission to glean leftover ears of grain from the ground and gather them for herself into sheaves or bundles. In the harvesting process, a male worker, after he had cut off with a sickle as much as he could hold in his left hand, laid the ears on the ground in piles without binding them into a bundle. Later, the men could gather the ears into sheaves and bring them in from the field. But usually the men were followed by female workers who gathered the ears into bundles or sheaves, perhaps binding them, and who carried them to the threshing floor, where the stalks and husks would be separated from the heads. The poor were allowed to pick up ears that the women missed when gathering them into bundles or that they had dropped on their way to the threshing floor. But the poor were allowed to do this only after the sheaves were removed so that they would not be tempted to pull out some ears from the sheaves.
The last four Hebrew words in the foreman’s explanation are subject to various interpretations. Perhaps the unclear wording reveals inner conflict: the foreman may have felt torn between a sense of responsibility to be strict and so exclude a nonresident Moabitess who lacked all rights, and a desire to show polite deference to a poor widow who was the daughter-in-law of Elimelech, a relative of his employer, Boaz. In any event, the foreman praises Ruth’s industry in patiently and persistently toiling since early morning until Boaz’s arrival with no more than a short rest. It was easiest for the harvesters to cut the grain stalks when they were still wet with dew, which helps explain why Ruth started gleaning in the “early morning.”
Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in the Presbyterian Church of America as their General Assembly meets this week.
Thursday (6/27) Read and discuss Revelation 21:9-27. Cornelius Venema writes:
Consistent with our argument that the life of the redeemed in the new creation will be rich and diverse, one of the descriptions in the book of Revelation speaks of the rich inheritance that awaits God’s people. In Revelation 21, John’s vision of the new heaven and earth includes a vision of the nations walking together by the light that is the Lamb. The nations will walk together and, the vision adds, ‘the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it [the holy city]’ (verse 240. According to this vision, the rich diversity of peoples, together with the works and accomplishments of those who have been among the leaders of the nations, will contribute significantly to the glory and splendor of the new heaven and earth.
Since the language of this vision does not elaborate upon the meaning of this inheritance of God’s people, we are left to surmise what it might mean. It has been plausibly suggested that it describes the way the new creation will receive all the appropriate fruits of human culture and development that have been produced throughout the course of history. Every legitimate and excellent fruit of human culture will be carried into and contribute to the splendor of life in the new creation. Rather than the new creation being a radically new beginning, in which the excellent and noble fruits of humankind’s fulfillment of the cultural mandate are wholly discarded – the new creation will benefit from, and be immensely enriched by, its receiving of these fruits. Far from being an empty and desolate place, the new creation will be enriched with the sanctified fruits of human culture. Nothing of the diversity of the nations and peoples, their cultural products, languages, arts, sciences, literature, and technology – so far as those are good and excellent – will be lost upon life in the new creation. Life in the new creation will not be a starting over, but a perfected continuation of the new humanity’s stewardship of all of life in the service of God.
Read or Sing Hymn 265 “In Christ Alone” Prayer: Give thanks that the work you do in the world right now – when it is done in faith – matters for all eternity.
Friday (6/28) Read and discuss 1 Kings 7:13-51. Intriguingly, verse 51 reminds us that Solomon’s father David had dedicated materials for the building of God’s House. Walter Maier writes:
It is most fitting that there is a reference to David at the end of the account of the Temple project. The idea for building a Temple had been his. Though he would not be able to carry out his ardent desire, he was given the plans for the project by the Holy Spirit, and he carried out extensive preparations for the construction of the Temple complex. David contributed vast amounts of material for the project, including from his personal treasures. His enthusiasm for the Temple inspired the leaders and offices of Israel to give great quantities of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and precious stones for the construction (1 Chronicles 29:5-9). As Patterson and Austel note, David’s “prayer that God might give Solomon the whole-hearted devotion to keep God’s commands and to build the Temple had now been answered.”
Read or sing Hymn 466 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” Prayer: Please lift up those in our congregation who are suffering with physical challenges.
Saturday (6/29) Read and discuss Romans 12:1-2. R.C. Sproul writes:
Paul’s exhortation not to be conformed to the world is not solely negative. The Latin translation of “world” here is, ironically the word seculum, not the word mundus, another Latin word for world. Mundus refers to the spatial world, its geographical location. The word seculum refers to this age, the present time. Contemporary secularism asserts that the time, or seculum, on this planet is the only time there is; there is the hic et nunc, the here and now, and nothing more. There is no eternity. There is no lie beyond the grave. This explains why our young people are bombarded with advertisements like “You only go around once,” “Grab all you can get,” and “Go for the gusto now.” The Scriptures refute that emphatically. We are not secularists. We live in the sphere of the world, but we do not live according to the precepts and principles of this passing age. We are to live our lives in the light of eternity and the truth that comes to us from above.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.