1 September 2019 – Dan Borvan Preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: Psalm 1A “That Man is Blest”
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: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Hymn of Preparation: 229 “Holy God, We Praise Your Name”
Old Covenant Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-29
New Covenant Reading: 2 Peter 2:17-22
Sermon: Turning from Righteousness
Hymn of Response: 501 “LORD, Speak to Me, That I May Speak”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 502 “All for Jesus!”
OT: Psalm 146:1-10
NT: Revelation 15:1-8
Singing Psalm 146
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 106
Q. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.
Monday (8/26) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:17-22. Gene Green writes:
This section of the letter presents Peter’s second round of denunciations of the heretics (cf. 10b-16). Once again he highlights their doom as well as warning the believers about their arrogance and their attempt to seduce the ones who have only recently become converts (vv. 17-18). The heretics offer “freedom,” a state extremely valued across the philosophical spectrum. The vanity of their offer is evident in that the errorists themselves are nothing more than people enslaved by their own corruption (v. 19). The primary focus of the latter part of the section is the problem of apostasy, both that of the heretics themselves and the people whom they seek to entice. Peter reminds his readers that the end of those who turn back is worse than the state in which they began (v. 20). Better never to have known the way than to know it and turn from it (v. 21). To bolster his point, he appeals to two well-known proverbs that highlight the absurdity of the heretics’ apostasy. Peter’s critique of the heretics’ state contrasts sharply with their own aggrandizement.
Read or sing Hymn 234 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Hong Kong.
Tuesday (8/27) Read and discuss Romans 13:11-14. Today’s passage has had what might be a surprising impact on this history of the church, for it is this passage which the LORD used to lead Augustine to make a decisive break with his past, and to commit himself to following Jesus. By the grace of God, Augustine would go on to become perhaps the most important theologian in the history of the church since the death of the Apostles. In his Confessions, Augustine recounts this pivotal turning point in his life:
I heard from a nearby house, a voice like that of a boy or a girl, I know not which, chanting and repeating over and lover, “Take up and read. Take up and read.” … I interpreted this solely as a command given to me by God to open the book and read the first chapter I should come upon. … So I hurried back to the spot where Alypius was sitting, for I had put there the volume of the apostle when I got up and left him. I snatched it up, opened it, and read in silence the chapter on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences.” No further wished I to read, nor was there need to do so. Instantly, in truth, at the end of this sentence, as if before a peaceful light streaming into my heart, all the dark shadows of dark fled away.
Read or Sing Hymn Psalm 42B “As Pants the Deer for Flowing Streams” Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead you to cast off the works of darkness, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to make no provision for the flesh.
Wednesday (8/28) Read and discuss Ezekiel 18:21-29. Doug Stuart writes:
Suppose, for the sake of illustration, that you are going to be judged one evening at a gathering of some sort on how neatly and cleanly (not expensively) you are dressed. It doesn’t really matter if you were dirty, grimy, and unkempt during the afternoon, wearing your oldest, most wrinkled work clothes. Since then, if you’ve showered and put on neat, clean clothes, now, at the gathering, you are neat and clean. You will be judged favorably. However, suppose you were absolutely neat and clean all day, but on the way to the gathering you stopped briefly to mud wrestle an alligator. Now you are dirty and messy, and those doing the judging are not going to be very favorable to you. Your protest, “But until just before I got here, I was neat and clean!” is going to fall on deaf ears. Such a point must be appreciated if the gospel is to have its power. At the end of a person’s life, when he or she concludes this temporary earthly journey, is when one must be right with God. Of course, it is very desirable to be right with God as early as possible in life – and very dangerous to assume that one will happen to have either the time or the will at the end of one’s life to convert to God from sin. It is the end product of a person’s life that makes the real difference, that is the “bottom line” of a life’s evaluation. Many sins are covered by conversion to righteousness. Many good deeds are obscured by conversion away from it.
Of course, we know that there are no good works apart from faith and that no true believer ever commits apostasy, but this warning is critical to bear in mind. Grace that is presumed upon is not being received by faith – and apart from faith we are apart from Christ and from the salvation that is only available in Him. Those who turn away from walking with Jesus manifest that they were never truly His. As John puts it in 1 John 2:19–20 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Prayer: Lift up the young people in our congregation and pray that the LORD would cause them to count the knowledge of God in Christ more valuable than anything the world can offer.
Thursday (8/29) Read and discuss Revelation 15:1-8. N.T. Wright observes:
Now, in a fresh visionary twist, John sees that the heavenly throne room which is also the heart of the heavenly temple has a ‘tabernacle of witness’ within it. This ‘tabernacle’ has been opened, not to let Moses or anyone else in, but to let out the angels who were carrying the seven last plagues, not for Egypt but for Babylon and for the world that had fallen for her seductions.
As with the Tabernacle in Exodus, as with Isaiah’s vision in the Temple (Isaiah 6), and as with Solomon’s dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8), the presence of God is shrouded in smoke, making it impossible for ordinary comings and goings. This is a solemn moment. The new song is exuberant, and heartfelt. Deliverance has occurred. But now we are homing in on the greatest showdown of them all. We left the dragon and the two monsters behind, two chapters ago. They have drawn many into their destructive ways. It is time, now, for the destroyers to be destroyed. This is the purpose of the seven last plagues, and of the cataclysmic judgments which followed them.
Read or Sing Hymn Psalm 112 “O Praise the LORD! The Man is Blest” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would cause His name to be hallowed – on your lips, in your home, and in your school or workplace.
Friday (8/30) Read and discuss Psalm 146:1-10. We often approach prayer the way we approach a smorgasbord – a little bit of everything. This is fine, but it is also healthy to sometimes focus our prayers (and songs) around a single well developed theme. Psalm 146 is a Psalm of praise which focuses on the theme of God’s faithfulness. The Psalmist is joyfully proclaiming how trustworthy Yahweh is by comparing the LORD to earthly princes. Generally the best way to understand a Psalm is to slowly read it out loud several times while meditating on how the parts of the psalm fit together. One detail from the Hebrew text of verses 3 and 4 can make this an even fuller experience. The phrase translated “son of man” (ESV) in v. 3 is literally “a son of Adam”. This helps us understand that the Psalmist is hearkening back to the curse on Adam in Genesis 3:19 where God tells Adam:
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.
The Hebrew word translated “ground” is Adamah. The play on words is obvious in Hebrew: Adam will return to the Adamah. With that it mind, let’s look at Psalm 146:3-4 again:
Put not your trust in princes,
in a (son of Adam), in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the (Adamah);
on that very day his plans perish.
This should make it clear that the Psalmist is intentionally identifying current political leaders as fallen sons of Adam who are under God’s curse. The point isn’t that all politicians are equally wicked; rather it is a call for citizens to place their ultimate hope in the LORD alone. One of the amazing things about the American political process is how many people place such great hope in the next election. Read the Psalm again and consider the many ways in which the LORD is far more worthy of our trust than those who are pursuing your votes for the Fall election. Read or sing Hymn 235 “All Glory Be to God””. Prayer: Give thanks for the LORD’s faithfulness and ask that he would strip us of our remaining trust in human princes that we would more fully trust the Prince of Peace.
Saturday (8/31) Read and discuss 2 Peter 2:17-22. Doug Moo writes:
Though not a Christian, the Roman moralist Seneca put it well: “To be enslaved to oneself is the heaviest of all servitudes.” The indulgence of the flesh leads inexorably to enslavement to the flesh. As Peter puts it, “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (v. 19). In a similar vein, Paul warns the Corinthians, whose watchword was, “Everything is permissible for me,” with this maxim, “I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6:12).
As stewards of the gospel, we need to be bolder in warning about the terrible consequences of the self-indulgence that rules our culture. Peter minces few words here. He compares sinful self-indulgence to vomit and mud. Many of us probably shy away from such graphic characterizations of sin, fearing that we will be labeled extremists or unloving. But the increasing tendency for people in our churches to dabble in various forms of self-indulgence requires that we use fairly extreme language to help them see the modern promise of free expression for just what it is.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.