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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 21 July 2019

21 July 2019

Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3

Opening Hymn: 222 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”

Confession of Sin

Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good;  And all our shortcomings and offenses.  You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts;  In forgetting Your love.  But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You.  Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son.  And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Romans 5:6-8

Hymn of Preparation: 218 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You”

Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 133:1-3

New Covenant Reading: Romans 12:14-21

Sermon: How to Overcome Evil?

Hymn of Response: Psalm 133A “How Excellent a Thing it Is”

Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)

Diaconal Offering

Doxology (Hymn 568)

Closing Hymn: 526 “He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought!”

PM Worship

OT: 1 Kings 8:12-21

NT: Hebrews 10:19-25

Solomon’s Blessing

Shorter Catechism Q/A # 100

Q. What doth the preface of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (7/15) Read and discuss Romans 12:14-21. Commenting on verse 19, R.C. Sproul writes:

There is a difference between vindication and vengeance. Vindication reveals innocence whereas vengeance is payback for harm. Vengeance is a desire for revenge. Actually, revenge is not a bad thing. It is a good thing, because God takes revenge. Therefore, revenge in and of itself is not evil. What makes it evil is who undertakes it. Revenge belongs to God, who tells us that we ought not to avenge ourselves: “but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will replay,’ says the LORD.” Revenge is God’s prerogative to dispense, although he delegates tot eh civil magistrate the responsibility of vengeance, as we will see in Romans 13. In the final analysis vengeance belongs to God. There will be payback. Our offenses will be avenged, but the one who is to do it is God. When God brings vengeance, he brings it perfectly. His justice never punishes more severely than the sin. If vengeance were left to us, our fallen condition is such that we would not be satisfied unless we could inflict more pain than the crime deserves. God never does that.

Read or sing Hymn 222 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” Prayer: Ask the LORD to help you let go of grievances you have with people who have hurt you.

Tuesday (7/16) Read and discuss Romans 12:9-13. Today’s passage begins with a command:

Let love be genuine – in each of your lives.

That word, translated “genuine”, comes from Greek Theater. When the Greeks put on plays, actors would play multiple parts and they would simply change the masks that they were wearing to indicate which character they were playing at the time. This word for genuine means “without a mask.” Paul is telling us that true love is not a theatrical production. What does the so-called love which is not genuine look like? James warns us of those who tell the poor “‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things they need for the body.” The mask is all the nice words – “Go in peace, be warmed and filled” – that are not followed up with action. The mask is all the nice sounding words. But the reality behind the mask is a person who isn’t lifting a finger to actually help his brother or sister during a time of need. Genuine love seeks the good of the people that we are interacting with. Read or Sing Hymn 218 “Mighty God, While Angels Bless You” Prayer: Ask the LORD to transform your thinking so that you would think about love the way that He thinks about love; and that in the power of the Holy Spirit you would increasingly manifest this biblically defined love in your life.

Wednesday (7/17) Read and discuss Psalm 133:1-3. Allen P. Ross writes:

What at first seems to describe the benefits of an extended family dwelling together in harmony is actually the manifestation of the greater spiritual unity of the people gathered in Zion to receive God’s blessing. The psalm is not so much about fraternal harmony or the unity of brothers as it is about the blessing from God that truly binds together in the covenant. As Kidner says, community is praiseworthy, but dependent on the LORD. That blessing is bestowed in the sanctuary, the place where people come together to worship and to pray for it; it is a blessing that brings all the common joys of life to the people who dwell together. …

Both testaments emphasize the importance of living in peace and harmony with others, most certainly others in the covenant. And that unity should be most evident as people gather in fellowship in the presence of the LORD to worship in common and to realize his renewed blessings. If the blessing of God is not the cause of the unity, then there is very little basis for it. But if that unity is from God, then it brings with it the responsibilities of a community.

Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.

Thursday (7/18) Read and discuss Hebrews 10:19-25. Tom Schreiner writes:

Community encouragement and love and good works can scarcely occur if believers cease to meet with one another. The fear of discrimination and persecution explains, at least in part, why some believers were inclined to abandon their meetings. Refusing to meet with other believers in this context signifies apostasy, the renunciation of the Christian faith. If believers renounce meeting with other Christians, especially because they fear discrimination and mistreatment, they are in effect turning against Christ. Apparently, some were following this course of action, for they had made it a habit of not attending. For the author of Hebrews, this isn’t a light matter. Forsaking such meetings signaled great danger, for if they did not return to the assembly of fellow believers, they would face final judgment and destruction. Meeting together with other believers on earth looks forward to the eschatological gathering. O’Brien comments on the significance of the church meeting together: “Their gathering together” anticipates “the final ingathering of God’s people. The assembly is the earthly counterpart to the heavenly ‘congregation’ of God’s people.”

Read or Sing Psalm 133A “How Excellent a Thing it Is” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has made you part of His Church family.

Friday (7/19) Read and discuss 1 Kings 8:12-21. Phil Ryken writes:

Believing that God would dwell with his people, Solomon built a house to God’s name. When the sacred building was finished, holy priests went up the Temple Mount in solemn procession. They were carrying the ark of the covenant, which represented the throne of God and signified the place of his earthly presence. The priests carefully placed the ark in the Holy of Holies. When they were finished, the glory of God came down in a cloud so thick that the priests could not even stay in the temple.

King Solomon recognized this cloud as an appearance of the divine being. God had descended to dwell with his people; this was confirmed by the glory cloud in the temple. In response, Solomon joyfully spoke words that are sometimes printed as lines of poetry: “The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell forever.

Here the king is giving expression to the double mystery of God’s immanence and transcendence. God is transcendent: he is high and exalted. In fact, he is separated so far from us that he is shrouded in darkness. This imagery appears elsewhere in Scripture. When Moses went up to receive the Ten Commandments, for example, he “drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” Similarly, King David said that God “made darkness his covering, his canopy around him (Psalm 18:11).” This is one of the great mysteries of the divine being. God is beyond our full comprehension; there are many things about him that we cannot see and do not know. “Truly, you are a God,” said the prophet Isaiah, “who hides yourself.” Solomon saw this at the temple, where God appeared in the thick darkness that he had promised.

Yet at the same time, this mysterious God also invites us to know him and be near him. He is immanent as well as transcendent. That is to say, he is a God who wants to be with us. This was Solomon’s experience exactly. He knew that God was beyond his reach, that he lived in thick darkness. Yet he also knew that God had called him to build a house on earth that would bring God into close proximity with his people. Solomon brought both of these divine attributes together because he knew that they were both true about God: the nearness and the distance, the closeness and the separation, the immanence and the transcendence. Commenting on the temple, Dale Ralph Davis writes that the cloud “both is Yahweh’s glory and covers Yahweh’s glory; it both reveals and conceals.” Davis says further that this is characteristic of God himself, who “satisfies your need for clarity but not your passion for curiosity.”

Read or sing Hymn 526 “He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought!” Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.

Saturday (7/20) Read and discuss Romans 12:14-21. Writing on verses 17 through 21, N.T. comments:

We should note that this [passage does not teach that we should] ‘go soft on evil.’ Saying you shouldn’t take revenge isn’t a way of saying evil isn’t real, or that it didn’t hurt after all, or that it doesn’t matter. Evil is real; it often does hurt, sometimes very badly indeed and with lasting effects, and it does matter. This is, perhaps, one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and, say, Buddhism. Because we believe in a creator God who made a good and lovely world, we believe everything which defaces and distorts, damages or spoils part of that creation is not just another variety of goodness but is actually its opposite, evil. The question is, what are we going to do about?

For Paul, that question begins with the question, what has God done about it? Quite a bit of the letter, earlier on, has been devoted to answering this question, and it boils down to what he says in 5:6-11: “while we were still sinners, the Messiah died for us.” There are many other things to be said about God’s moral governance of the world, but at the centre of the Christian story stands this claim, that when human evil reached its height God came and took its full weight upon himself, thereby exhausting it and opening the way for the creation of a new world altogether. Revenge keeps evil in circulation. Whether in a family or a town, or in an entire community like the Middle East or Northern Ireland, the culture of revenge, unless broken, is never ending. Both sides will always be able to ‘justify’ further atrocities by reference to those they themselves have suffered.

This brings us to the question of whether it is possible to forgive someone who isn’t sorry. I had a letter from a small boy the other day asking me exactly that question: it’s something that even very young children can understand, and they are often just as good as adults in thinking about such problems. This passage seems to indicate that, though when someone isn’t sorry there is no chance of full reconciliation, it is not only possible but actually commanded that we should rid ourselves of any desire for revenge. Instead, we should actually go out of our way to do the positive, uncalled-for acts of kindness to those who have wronged us.

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