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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 9 June 2019

9 June 2019

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 236 “To God Be the Glory”

Confession of Sin

O great and everlasting God, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Who searches and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart; We confess that we have not loved You with all our heart, nor with all our soul, nor with all our mind, nor with all our strength; Nor our neighbors as ourselves.  We have loved what we ought not to have loved; We have coveted what is not ours; We have not been content with Your provisions for us.  We have complained in our hearts about our family, about our friends, about our health, about our occupations, about Your church, and about our trials.  We have sought our security in those things which perish, rather than in You, the Everlasting God.  Chasten, cleanse, and forgive us, through Jesus Christ, who is able for all time to save us who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Exodus 34:5-7

Hymn of Preparation: 403 “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 29:1-16

New Covenant Reading: Romans 11:7-15

Sermon: God’s Purpose in Israel’s Stumbling

Hymn of Response: Psalm 52

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 568)

Closing Hymn: 433 “Amazing Grace”

PM Worship

OT: 1 Kings 6:1-13

NT: Ephesians 3:14-21

The Rewards of Walking

Shorter Catechism Q/A # 94

Q. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (6/3) Read and discuss Romans 11:7-15. Commenting on verses 11 and 12, John Murray writes:

In the preceding verses the thesis is that although Israel as a whole had been disobedient yet a remnant was left and therefore God had not cast off his people. Israel’s rejection was not complete. The thesis is the verses which follow is that the rejection is not final. Both considerations – not complete but partial, not final but temporary – support the proposition that God has not case off his people.

“I say then,” as in verse 1, is Paul’s way of introducing a question intended to obviate a conclusion which might seem to follow from what precedes. The question: “did they stumble that they might fall?” is answered with the usual emphatic negative, “God forbid.” It cannot be doubted but the mass of Israel stumbled (cf. 9:32, 33), and it cannot be doubted that this meant a fall with the gravest consequences (cf. vss. 7-10). So neither the stumbling nor the corresponding fall is denied. What then is the meaning of the negative reply? The construction supplies the answer. The question is not: “did they stumble and fall?” To that question an affirmative answer would be required. Everything here turns on the clause, “that they might fall.” The negative answer means that the purpose of their stumbling was not that they might fall but was directed to and designed for another end, the end immediately appended in the latter part of the verse.

Let’s slow down and make sure we understand what Professor Murray is saying. Paul isn’t simply talking about the fact that the majority of Israel has stumbled by failing to receive the Messiah. Paul is focused on God’s sovereign purpose in their failure. The LORD could have changed the hearts of all the 1st century Jews so that they would have joyously embraced Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord – so why didn’t He? Part of the answer, according to Paul, is that the LORD would use the stumbling of Israel to send the gospel to the Gentiles while making clear that salvation was always be grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. Read or sing 236 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Praise the LORD for His unsearchable and perfect wisdom in all things.

Tuesday (6/4) Read and discuss Romans 11:1-6. If you are familiar with the remnant theology of the Old Testament, you know that there is one more ramification of God graciously preserving a remnant that simply needs to be made.  If you study the idea of God maintaining a remnant by His sovereign grace you will see that the LORD’s intent was never simply to preserve a tiny remnant of 7,000 who would not bow the knee to Baal. Must the remnant be small? Ultimately, the remnant came down to just one man – the man Jesus Christ. But, in Him, God has chosen a vast multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation – a multitude so vast that the book of Revelation exclaims – that it is a great multitude that no one could number. Do you understand what this means? The LORD is not simply building His Church. The LORD is faithfully building a GREAT Church! The remnant is a down payment on a much greater harvest to come. And this is not only true of the Gentiles – it is also true of the Jews. As we will, LORD willing, hear from Paul next week:

Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

And again …

For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

Isn’t Paul saying that, “The small remnant of Jewish believers in his day is going to be followed by a much greater harvest of Jewish believers in the future?” Yes, that is exactly what he is saying. Read or Sing Hymn 403 “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” Prayer: Please pray for the Session as it meets this evening.

Wednesday (6/5) Read and discuss Isaiah 29:1-16. Alec Motyer writes:

Isaiah paints a very vivid picture. Here is a closed book and the person who is able to read can’t be bothered it’s too much trouble to open it. And the person who can’t read is content to leave it like that; it’s of no importance to try to find out what the book is about. But the book in question is God’s book, His Word of truth: it brings the knowledge of God; without it all is at best surmise, at worst idle fancy and error. How swiftly Isaiah’s picture leaps over the 2,700 years since he put it on paper! He might well be living today and describing how things are all round. Here is a life-long churchgoer, a devout, serious man ( I could tell you his name), but he says, ‘Never at any time in my life have I read the Bible for myself.’ He can read, but can’t be bothered, and – tragedy of tragedies – the church he attends encourages religion and ritual but not personal Bible-reading. And here is a man talking confidently about life after death, sure that ‘Gran’ is there, ‘watching over us like she always did,’ himself unafraid in the face of death. He might as well not be able to read because the Bible does not matter. And here is a converted, committed Christian with a datable experience of accepting the Lord Jesus as Savior, and for the sake of thirty extra minutes in bed, or because life’s busyness comes crowing in, or because at at the day’s end tiredness makes its claim, it’s suddenly too much trouble to open the closed book, not important enough to read, receive, welcome and expose mind, heart and soul to the precious Word of God. And here is a Christian worker – believe me: I’m not inventing but quoting – ‘I’m occupied with the Bible all day so when I get to bed it’s a relief to read a novel.’ Thus we join those who honor Jesus with our lips but we have distanced our hearts from Him. No Bible, no spirituality; God at arm’s length.

Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has given us His own words accurately translated into our own languages. And please pray for the General Assembly of the OPC which begins this afternoon.

Thursday (6/6) Read and discuss Ephesians 3:14-21. “For Paul, theology stirs his passions deeply and leads him to praise the glory of the one true God he serves with all of his heart. Because he is thoroughly convinced that this God is intimately concerned with the people he has gathered to be close to him, Paul prays for them (Clinton Arnold).” The portion of Paul’s prayer contained in today’s passage has four parts to it:

  1. Paul’s orientation of worship/pray toward the Father
  2. A Request for Power and Love
  3. A Request for an Increasing Awareness of God’s Power and Love
  4. A Doxology

One obvious aspect of this prayer is that it reflected quite a bit of thought on Paul’s part. There is nothing at all wrong with short, simple, extemporaneous prayers. In fact, such prayers will undoubtedly make up the bulk of the typical Christian’s prayer life. Yet, and this is regrettable, American evangelicals have tended to elevate spontaneity to the place where the thought of sitting down and carefully thinking through – and even writing out – a prayer can seem somehow less spiritual. Today’s passage is clear evidence that the Bible does not share this point of view. Read or Sing Psalm 52 Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Eritrea and pray that the LORD would open a way for the OPC to restart our mission work there (foreign missionaries were forced out of the country a several years ago).

Friday (6/7) Read and discuss 1 Kings 6:1-13. Commenting on verses 12 and 13, John Woodhouse writes:

We need to pause and appreciate the wonder of this promise. The Bible teaches us that at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, the man God created enjoyed the presence of the LORD, but after disobeying Him the man and his wife hid “from the presence of the LORD” (Genesis 3:8) and were driven out of the Garden, “away from the presence of the LORD.”

Since then the alienation of men and women from God has been and is the fundamental problem of the human condition. That is why every effort to put things right among humans and in the world fails in one way or another. Every success is partial and temporary. We ourselves cannot find our way back to God, even if we wanted to.

The extraordinary message of the Bible is that God has promised to restore what we have lost. That is what the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 was about. The “blessing” spoken of there is the “blessing” of the beginning – God’s presence among His people again. The Bible is the story of God’s faithfulness to this promise.

Read or sing Hymn 433 “Amazing Grace” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD is storing up treasures for us in heaven where neither moth nor rust can touch them.

Saturday (6/8) Read and discuss Romans 11:7-15. R.C. Sproul writes:

Paul quotes the Old Testament again: “Just as it is written: ‘God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.’” The people of Israel were blinded because God had made them blind. Their blindness was punishment for their sin. They did not want to see the things of God, so, as he has done throughout redemptive history, he abandoned them to their sinful desire. This is God’s poetic justice. If you do not want to hear the Word of God, be careful, because God will make you deaf, and then you will never hear it. If you do not want to see the kingdom of God, whatever you see, even vaguely now, will be taken away. If you are not alive and energetic to the things of the Spirit, be careful that God does not visit you with the spirit of lethargy, taking from you whatever weak zeal you have. When God works that way, it is always a punishment for evil inclinations.

Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.