11 August 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: Psalm 8A “O LORD, Our LORD, in All the Earth”
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: Isaiah 55:7-9
Hymn of Preparation: 157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies”
Old Covenant Reading: Jeremiah 29:1-9
New Covenant Reading: Romans 13:1-7
Sermon: Giving Honor
Hymn of Response: Psalm 46B “God is Our Refuge and Our Strength”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 497 “More Love to Thee, O Christ”
OT: 1 Kings 8:31-53
NT: John 14:1-14
The God Who Hears
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 103
Q. What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.
Monday (8/5) Read and discuss Romans 13:1-7. R.C. Sproul writes:
According to Paul, the civil magistrate has been appointed by God to execute God’s wrath on those who practice evil. Paul’s words provide the biblical basis for the establishment of force given to civil magistrates. If the civil magistrate uses the sword to promote evil, then the civil magistrate will be judged by God. It is the LORD who raises up nations, and it is the LORD who brings them down. The Christians who received this letter from the apostle Paul knew all about the corruption of the Roman system, and yet they listened to their apostle defending the authority that God had given the Roman Empire.
When we object to capital punishment or warfare in principle, we object to what God Himself has instituted and established. The sword is necessary because there is sin in the world, and the sword is given to work against and to restrain evildoers in order to protect the lives of the innocent. The primary responsibility of any civil government, whether in China, Russia, the United States, or Iran, is to protect, defend, and maintain human life. When any government turns its back on that primary responsibility, it is acting in utter defiance of the law of God and is exposing itself and the nation it governs to the judgment of God.
Read or sing Psalm 8A “O LORD, Our LORD, in All the Earth” Prayer: Ask the LORD to turn the hearts of our political leaders so that they would do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD as their God.
Tuesday (8/6) Read and discuss Ephesians 6:10-20. We are in a battle. That is inescapable. The only question is whether we will go into the battle naked or equipped by God for victory. Paul reminds us that this battle is a spiritual battle. That is something our own generation particularly needs to be reminded about. If we imagine that the battle is primarily on the material plane, we will wrongly assume that we can win the battle through better planning or with a larger budget – in short, that we can be victorious in our own strength. In today’s passage, Paul brings his letter to the Ephesians to a climax with a resounding shout: “The battle belongs to the LORD!” Yet, the LORD fights this battle in part by arming His people. One interesting aspect of this armor from God is that He has only given us one offensive weapon – the word of God. Furthermore, that weapon is ultimately wielded, not by us, by the Holy Spirit (v. 17). The only other way Christians have for going on the offensive is through prayer which is actually a matter of calling upon God to win the battle for us. That’s it. According to the Apostle Paul, the Church advances through the word of God and through prayer. There are two primary ways in which local churches lose sight of this truth. First, many churches imagine that the church will advance on the strength of their planning or creativity, but that reduces the hope of victory to the limits of our own human abilities. Second, some churches which recognize that the battle belongs to the LORD become passive as though that truth implied they weren’t supposed to be doing anything. By contrast, today’s passage reminds us that true faith lays hold of God’s promises and appropriates the means that He has given us for being victorious. Let us, therefore, be both confident in Christ’s victory and faithful in putting on the full armor of God that in the day of battle the LORD would cause us to stand. Read or Sing Hymn 157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies” Prayer: Ask the LORD to translate your faith in Him into concrete actions in your life that live out that faith.
Wednesday (8/7) Read and discuss Jeremiah 29:1-9. We live in a fragmented and pluralistic culture. How should we engage the non-Christian culture that is all around us? Today’s passage brings us to a time when much of Israel had been dragged off to live in Babylon. How the LORD told them to live in Babylon has a great deal to teach us about how we should live in New England. (1) Wrong ways to respond: ASSIMILATION. Babylon’s basic strategy for dealing with the foreign nations within their empire was to encourage them to adopt Babylonian beliefs and practices. The name for this is assimilation. You will recall from reading Daniel that this included sending Israel’s best and brightest youth to Babylonian schools. Yet most of the forces that lead to assimilation are more subtle. They simply hold out the opportunity to get ahead in a new culture if you will only give up your own distinctive beliefs and practices to just fit in. Assimilation is so effective because it can be accomplished very gradually in steps that individually may seem insignificant. TRIBALISM. A second wrong way to respond was being advocated by the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day. They were telling Israel to band together and remain as separate from Babylonian society as possible. Furthermore, they were to approach Babylonian civilization as something to exploit for themselves while waiting for God to destroy the evil nation. One of the most basic choices we make in a relationship is between thinking that the OTHER is there for YOUR benefit or YOU are there for the OTHER’s benefit. The false prophets were encouraging Israel to choose the first option and to get as much as they could from those who had brought them into captivity. Perhaps the greatest attraction of this approach to relating to hostile culture is that it can “protect” us from the very real danger of being assimilated. Yet, God tells Israel that He wants them to do something else entirely. (2) God’s approach was to tell Israel to, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” That is, God wanted His people to maintain their identity as His people while living in the midst of Babylon and by seeking to be a blessing to Babylon. Let’s face it; this is really hard to do. We need resources that are far beyond our own in order to live this way. Thankfully God has given us these resources in Jesus Christ. We have been blessed to be a blessing even to our enemies. We must be in the world and not of it. Because we are Christ’s we must seek the welfare even of those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Prayer: Ask the LORD to protect you and your entire Church Family from the temptation to assimilate to those parts of our culture which are hostile to the LORD.
Thursday (8/8) Read and discuss John 14:1-14. Edward Klink writes:
Heaven is a place (or at least a topic) that still fits comfortably in most modern culture. Those with minimal religious interest will use the term as a concept for the afterlife, a happy place of peaceful dwelling for those who have died. In this [passage], however, the place about which Jesus speaks is entirely different. It is not a generic place beyond this one but a home, the very home of God the Father and the Son, who not only dwells there but prepares it for the children of God. This “house” belongs to God and to those – only those – who believe in the Son. For this reason, it is a glorious place, not because of us but because of God; it is a home God prepared for us, a home in which we may be with God. This is cosmological home, the extension of God’s grace from this temporal place into eternity.
The danger is that such common talk about a very uncommon thing will secularize it – transfer it from sacred to civil possession, making the dwelling of God a common depiction in cartoons, movies, and common speech – places in which it does not fit or make sense. No, the place about which Jesus speaks is “my Father’s house.” So we must speak of it as sacred, since God himself not only prepared it with his own hands but paid our debt fully in order to give us access to it. This place, therefore, cannot be secularized, for it is not a common possession. It is a place of grace, the holy of holies, the creation, our true home. The church needs to recover this sacred place, not only as a future place but as a present hope that guides and directs the manner of our current dwelling.
Read or Sing Psalm 46B “God is Our Refuge and Our Strength” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus will one day take you and all His people to live with God forever.
Friday (8/9) Read and discuss 1 Kings 8:31-53. Phil Ryken writes:
Solomon’s last petition was probably the most important – a prayer for total forgiveness. Once again, the king describes a situation when people will be desperate for the help of their God. In fact, Dale Ralph Davis calls it Solomon’s “worst case scenario.’ Here is how the king began his final petition: “If they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin – and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near.”
Of course, this is exactly what happened, Solomon’s “if” was really more like a “when.” By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, his last petition was a preview of Israel’s future history. The people did sin against God, and God was angry with them, and he did give them to an enemy, and they were carried off to captivity. Solomon was praying in advance about the tragic events of 586 B.C., when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed by the might armies of Nebuchadnezzar, and when God’s people were carried off to Babylon for seventy years of exile. Once again, Solomon was “simply praying out of the Pentateuch,” for in the days of Moses, God had warned his people what would happen if they sinned against him: “The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand.”
Yet Solomon believed in God’s grace as much as he believed in God’s justice. Thus he prayed for Israel’s forgiveness, prophesying the nation’s repentance and return.
Read or sing 497 “More Love to Thee, O Christ” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD is both a God of justice and a God of grace.
Saturday (8/10) Read and discuss Romans 13:1-7. Royce Gordon Gruenler writes:
This unit of instruction should be understood in the same way as the preceding instructions: Christians are no called to stand in judgment of others but as far as possible are to live in peace with everyone (12:18), and must not be found guilty of infractions of the law or insubordination to the divinely instituted order of government. Paul is focusing here on the positive side of the state, like Peter who also emphasizes the sevantlike attitude of the Christian who must not misuse his Christian freedom and bring reproach upon the gospel but rather show by respectful behavior the love and the brotherhood of the Christian community. Moreover, in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 Paul requests prayers and thanksgiving for kings and those in authority that they, with others, may be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
Accordingly, Paul’s exhortation in 13:1-7 may be seen to fall within the context of his missionary appeal in the letter. He sees the state as a gift of God’s common grace to guarantee civil order and to restrain uncontrolled evil. The Christian therefore must not be caught short by rebelling against those very governmental authorities that make it possible for the gospel to be carried throughout the empire. …
Elsewhere in Scripture the believer is enjoined to disobey authorities where they demand a denial of the LORD. Furthermore, Paul himself describes the power of the State as provisional in 1 Corinthians 6:1-6, and Revelation 13 characterizes Rome as the demonic beast from the abyss. Paul is aware of these negative and complementary aspects of human government but focuses here on issue of respect for instituted authority as a necessary precondition for the Christian mission, centering in 13:6-7 on the dominical authority of Jesus: “Give everyone what you owe him (Matt 22:21)” for “the authorities are God’s servants” because “God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men.”
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.