7 July 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 216 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty”
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: Ephesians 1:7-9
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 96 “Sing to the LORD, Sing His Praise”
Old Covenant Reading: Proverbs 3:5-8
New Covenant Reading: Romans 12:3-8
Sermon: Using What the LORD Has Given Us
Hymn of Response: Psalm 42B “As Pants the Deer for Flowing Streams”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 500 “Father, I Know That All My Life”
OT: Psalm 111:1-10
NT: Acts 17:22-34
Wonderous are His Works
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 98
Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.
Monday (7/1) Read and discuss Romans 12:3-8. R.C. Sproul writes:
We live in a culture obsessed with self-esteem. Developing a good self-image has become almost cultic. Some years ago, an international test in mathematics was administered to children from ten nations, including the United States. The test had two parts. The first pertained to mathematical competency, and the second pertained to feelings of self-esteem with respect to the student’s performance. Two ironies stood out. First, the Korean students were last in their estimation of their performance but first in actual competency. The reason is that along with the rigorous pursuit of academic excellence Korean students are taught principles of humility. Conversely, and to our national shame, the American children scored last in mathematical competency but first in self-esteem. The American students had a high view of the competency in spite of their miserable performance. Self-esteem, as important as it is (we are not brutalize people by tearing them apart with unnecessary criticisms and insults) can be damaging if we provide people with a higher opinion of themselves than they should have.
What does all that have to do with Romans? Paul writes, “For I say through the grace given to me.” Paul is writing to them as one gifted and called by God, through no merit of his own, to the position of apostle. Despite his calling, he considered himself the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). It is through the grace given to him that Paul writes an admonition “to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly.”
Read or sing 216 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty” Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead you to think soberly about yourself – remembering that you are both a fallen sinner and also an image bearer of God who has been redeemed and adopted into His family.
Tuesday (7/2) Read and discuss Romans 12:1-2. R.C. Sproul writes:
The Greek word Paul uses in verse 2 for “transformed” is metamorphosis. We use that word to describe the transition a caterpillar undergoes in order to become a butterfly. The word indicates a radical change of form. Therefore, the goal of the Christian life is not merely nonconformity, which is the easy part, but transformation. The prefix trans– added to the word formed means “above and beyond the forms of this world.” Living as Christians means we do not live by the drumbeat of this world but by a higher calling – the calling of God – and when we do that, the form of our life changes. We are not conformed to this dying age, but our lives are transformed by the power of God.
This transformation happens through mind renewal. If we want a transformed life, the most important thing is to get a new mind. The beginning [and the ongoing growth] of the Christian life is rooted in repentance. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia, which means “a change of mind.” Prior to our initial repentance, we thought according to the precepts of this world. We thought just like our secular neighbors, who do everything in their power to bury their sin in their subconscious, but when the Holy Spirit awakened us to our absolute need for a Savior and we rushed to the cross, our minds and the direction of our lives were changed. The mind is central, because transformation comes from a renewed mind.
While a changed mind is a necessary condition for transformation, however, it is not a sufficient condition. People can study the Word of God and get a perfect score on every theological examination without that knowledge ever getting into the heart. No one is transformed apart from heart change. God has designed us in such a way that the avenue to the heart is through the mind. The book of Romans was given for our understanding, so that we would begin to think as Jesus thinks and begin to approve what he approves and despise what he despises. That is how our lives are changed. When we begin to think as Christians, we get a new mind. From that new mind our heart is changed, and when the heart is changed, our life is changed. That is how we become transformed people.
Read or Sing Hymn Psalm 96 “Sing to the LORD, Sing His Praise” Prayer: Ask the LORD to keep your heart tender towards Him and that He would use His word to renew your mind.
Wednesday (7/3) Read and discuss Proverbs 3:5-8. Andrew Steinmann writes:
The invitation to trust Yahweh contrasts with relying on one’s own human reason or emotions. This trust in Yahweh is equated with acknowledging him, that is, openly admitting that God’s favor and love, conferred by his guidance in his Word, are better than human judgment. The praise of straight paths is especially poignant because paths in ancient Israel were often winding, tortuous roads that took much effort of the part of travelers. A straight path, which would be relatively easy to traverse, was rare. “He will make your paths straight” does not necessarily mean that one’s course in life will be comfortable and trouble free. It does mean that through his Word God will reveal the right direction and destination, even if bearing the cross is required in order to get there.
Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in China.
Thursday (7/4) Read and discuss Acts 17:22-34. Today’s passage involves Paul engaging with some of the world’s most educated thinkers. His address skillfully assaults the major epicurean and stoic philosophies which held great sway in Greek intellectual circles. N.T. Wright observes:
But the really stunning moment of the address comes, of course, at the end. Indeed the whole build-up, the careful discussion of who God really is and his relation to the world, the standard Jewish critique of idolatry and temples coupled with the creative use of local color – all this is to ensure that, when Paul finally gets to explain his supposed ‘foreign divinities’ of Jesus and resurrection, there will at least be a small chance that some will understand what he is saying. We notice again that as the speech turns the corner into the home straight Paul insists that he and his hearers are living at a new moment in the history of the world, a moment at which the ‘times of ignorance’, the times when people could hardly be expected to know who God was, were being brought to an end. Now something new had happened! Now there was something to say, particular news about particular events and a particular man, which provided just the sort of new evidence that he genuinely open-minded agnostic should be prepared to take into account, that the Epicurean and Stoic should see as forming both of a confirmation of the correct elements in their worldviews and a challenge to the misleading elements, and that he ordinary pagan, trundling off to yet another temple with yet another sacrifice, should see as good news indeed. This God, declares Paul, has set a time when he is going to do what the Jewish tradition always said he would do, indeed what he must o if he is indeed the good and wise creator: he will set the world right, will call it to account, will in other words judge it in the full, Hebraic, biblical sense.
And the creator God will do this through a particular man whom he has appointed for the task, in other words, Jesus himself. Whether it is significant that Paul does not mention the name of Jesus throughout the speech it is hard to say, but he has been talking about him in the market-place and it’s clear who he means. How do we know that Jesus is the coming Judge? Because, says Paul, God has raised him from the dead. It is important to note that, there in the Areopagus, this wasn’t just a ludicrous notion which every sensible person knew was out of question; it went directly against eh founding charter of the Areopagus itself. In a fifth-century BC play by the Athenian dramatist Aeschylus, which would have been well known in Paul’s day, the god Apollo inaugurates the court of the Areopagus. And one of the things he says, solemnly and as it were bindingly, is that ‘when a man dies, and his blood is spilled on the ground, there is no resurrection.’ Resurrection is flatly ruled out according to the ground rules of the Areopagus. Paul firmly puts it back in. This is the fulcrum around which the world turns.
Read or Sing Psalm 42B “As Pants the Deer for Flowing Streams” Prayer: Give thanks that you will one day be raised incorruptible.
Friday (7/5) Read and discuss Psalm 111:1-10. Allen P. Ross writes:
The message of this psalm is that Devout worshippers must praise the LORD in the sanctuary for his marvelous and gracious works that bring redemption and blessing to his people. In fact, the purpose of his wonderful works is to inspire greater praise and obedience.
Believers have every good reason to praise the works and the words of the LORD; they are powerful and awesome, because he is mighty and majestic. There are many, many examples of the amazing works of the LORD, but those attached to his work of redemption come to the fore. And if that was true of Israel’s experience in Egypt, how much more for the believer today who has been set free from the bondage of sin and the world, entered into an eternal covenant through Christ Jesus, and has found that the LORD of the covenant through Christ Jesus, and has found that the LORD of the covenant is faithful to his people. The Church accordingly has used this psalm at Easter and Eucharistic services, because the redemption provided by Jesus Christ includes his resurrection from the dead, guaranteeing that the promises of the covenant are sure, and that our redemption is eternal.
Read or sing Hymn 500 “Father, I Know That All My Life” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the OPC church in Jaffrey, NH.
Saturday (7/6) Read and discuss Romans 12:3-8. R.C. Sproul writes:
Everybody has an obligation to give, but some really have the gift for it, and if so, this is how they must use it: “he who gives, with liberality.” There are people who not only give but do so generously. They give beyond what is required. Paul said elsewhere that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). Nobody wants to get a gift from a sourpuss who cannot stand to be separated from his money. God does not want such gifts.
My father was the most generous person I have ever known. He was relatively affluent before the years of debilitating illness took it away. Before his illness, when he saw somebody in need he would reach in his pocket and hand over not just a quarter or a dollar; he would give lavishly. I watched that as a boy; I never saw in him a selfish spirit. I saw a man who loved to use what God had given him for the sake of the kingdom and for the sake of his neighbor. I realize now that he had a gift, one that not everybody has. But it is a wonderful gift.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.