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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 18 August 2019

18 August 2019

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: Psalm 98B “Sing to the LORD, a New Song Voicing”

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: Hebrews 10:19-22

Hymn of Preparation: 243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

New Covenant Reading: Romans 13:8-10

Sermon: Love and the Law

Hymn of Response: Psalm 119M “Eternal Is Your Word, O LORD”

Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments

Doxology (Hymn 568)

Closing Hymn: 170 “God, in the Gospel of His Son”

PM Worship

OT: 1 Kings 8:54-66

NT: John 16:16-24

The Benediction

Shorter Catechism Q/A # 104

Q. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Suggested Preparations 

Monday (8/12) Read and discuss Romans 13:8-10. Michael Bird writes:

Paul uses the idea of Christian obligation to pay taxes in v. 7 to spring into a metaphor about Christian indebtedness to love one another in v. 8. Paul has used the verb “I am indebted” earlier as a metaphor to describe his obligation to bring the gospel to the whole world (1:14) and to indicate how Christians are obligated to live by the Spirit and not to gratify the flesh. This suggests that Paul sees Christians as caught up in a three-way obligation toward mission, Spirit, and love. Believers are bonded together in a mission to proclaim Christ, to keep in step with the Spirit, and to live out love for each other.

Paul then provides the rationale for love as mutual obligation, “for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (v. 8b). Paul is filling out what he urged earlier when he said that “love must be sincere” and the Roman believers should be “devoted to each other in love.” Later he will say that if they do not respect each other’s convictions on disputable matters like food, they are no longer acting in love. Love is at the epicenter of Pauline ethics because of its foundations in the Torah and because of Jesus’ teaching about love. Paul from the outset of his ministry urged new believers to practice love toward one another as to family members. Paul’s moving encomium about love to the Corinthians praises love as the highest of Christian virtues. Paul also strenuously argued that the Galatians would regard love as the fulfillment of the Torah (Gal. 5:14). When Christians act in love, they “fulfill the righteous requirements of the law” as enabled by the Spirit (Rom. 8:4).

Read or sing Psalm 98B “Sing to the LORD, a New Song Voicing” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Iran who follow Christ under very challenging circumstances.

Tuesday (8/13) Read and discuss Romans 13:1-7.  The Reformations was a time of great wrestling with questions around the need to obey civil governments. After all, some Roman Catholic civil magistrates were using the sword to force their religion upon Protestants. In the midst of this turmoil, the Lutheran Augsburg Confession was written which holds firmly to the teachings of the Apostle Paul:

It is taught among us that all government in the world and all established rule and laws were instituted and ordained by God for the sake of good order, and that Christians may without sin occupy civil offices or serve as princes and judges, render decisions, and pass sentence according to imperial and other existing laws, punish evildoers with the sword, engage in just wars, serve as soldiers, but and sell, take required oaths, possess property, be married, etc. … The Gospel does not overthrow civil authority, the state, and marriage but requires that all these be kept as true orders of God and that everyone, each according to his own calling, manifest Christian love and genuine good works in his station in life. Accordingly, Christians are obliged to be subject to civil authority and obey tis commands and laws in all that can be done without sin. But when commands of the civil authority cannot be obeyed without sin, we must obey God rather than men.

Read or Sing Hymn 243 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would cause your good works and submissive spirit to so shine before men that they would see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Wednesday (8/14) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 6:1-9. Sometimes it is helpful to ask what is most distinctive about a particular text of Scripture. Today’s passage tells us three things about Biblical religion that are sharply distinct from the religions Ancient Israel’s neighbors: Biblical religion is (1) Monotheistic; (2) Rational; and (3) Ethical. MONOTHEISM. Verse 5 and following teach the absolute uniqueness of God. They also insist that His children exhibit undivided loyalty to Him.  In the Ancient world, one Pharaoh pushed a type of monotheism – but Biblical Judaism was the only truly monotheistic religion in the Ancient world. RATIONAL. Modern Westerners may assume that most religions have a strongly rational element to them – but many ancient (and modern) religions focused on ecstatic experiences. In fact, Temple prostitution was a common way for devotees of a god or goddess to try to gain intimacy with that god or goddess by engaging in sexual relations with the Temple prostitute as a sort of proxy for the “deity”. By contrast, notice the emphasis in this text on hearing, remembering, and teaching God’s words. Biblical religion is rational. ETHICAL. A second surprise for many westerners is to discover that most ancient religions were not particularly ethical. Pagan religions functioned largely on a quid-pro-quo basis.  If you gave public honor to a god or goddess by building shrines or offering sacrifices than you could expect (hope?) that the honored god or goddess would look out for you, make your land fertile, etc. … It didn’t matter if you were unethical in your business dealings, cheated on your wife, and were a constant liar – all that mattered was that you offered the appropriate public honors to the god or goddess. In fact, if you look at the way the Greek and Roman gods supposedly lived, they are little more than gross immorality writ large. By contrast, the Living God is very concerned with how we live, and He has graciously given us His laws so we wouldn’t have to guess at what right living looks like. Prayer: Give thanks that you have God’s word in your own language and ask that the LORD would guide you into His truth as you study His word and put it into practice.

Thursday (8/15) Read and discuss John 16:16-24.  N.T. Wright comments:

Jesus’ disciples are about to be plunged into a short, sharp and intensely painful period that will be like a moment of birth. Jesus will be taken away; but they will see him again. ‘Not long from now, they won’t see him; not long after that, they will see him again.’ His death and resurrection are the necessary events that will lead to his ‘going to the father’ and his ‘sending of the spirit’. These are extraordinary, cataclysmic events, the like of which the world has never seen before. The disciples can hardly prepare properly for them; but Jesus wants to warn them anyway.

It’s all happening because, with Jesus’ death and resurrection, a new world – the new world – is indeed being born. That is what John wants us to grasp. This isn’t just a matter of Jesus saying ‘there’s trouble coming, but it will be all right afterwards’. It’s a matter of seeing that when we find ourselves, a few chapters from now, at the foot of the cross, and then when we find ourselves after that with Mary Magdalene in the Easter garden, we shouldn’t miss the significance of these events. They are not merely strange, shocking and even unique. They are the visible sign that God’s new world really is coming to birth.

Read or Sing Psalm 119M “Eternal Is Your Word, O LORD” Prayer:  Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who will be blessed by uniting with our church family and whose gifts would be used to build up this local body of believers.

Friday (8/16) Read and discuss 1 Kings 8:54-66. Richard D. Nelson writes:

His prayer over, Solomon rises from his knees. The reader remembers that the prayer began with him standing (v. 22) and can only conclude that under the weight of his petitions Solomon had sunk to a kneeling position, an act of submission.

Once more he addresses the congregation, starting as he did in verse 15 by blessing God for an act of grace described in Deuteronomistic theological terms. In the peace and security of Solomon’s kingdom of shalom, God has given the “rest” promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 12:10.

Solomon begins with two wishes or indirect prayers and concludes with an exhortation. First, he hopes for god’s continued presence (as conditionally promised in 6:13) so that God can help Israel keep the law. Second, he wishes that the words of his prayer, having an objective life of their own, might be a daily reminder to God to uphold the just cause of king and nation. Then all people would learn the truth of Israel’s creed, “Yahweh is God.” Solomon concludes with an exhortation to keep the law with a true heart. This section has a paraenetic [paraenetic = moral exhortation. In this case, Nelson is suggesting that Solomon’s public prayer was both a plea to the LORD and intended as instruction and moral encouragement to the people] intention, encouraging readers to keep God’s law out of an inner undivided volition (a true heart) and to acknowledge their dependence on God’s help in bending their hearts the right way.

Read or sing 170 “God, in the Gospel of His Son” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD is both a God of justice and a God of grace.

Saturday (8/17) Read and discuss Romans 13:8-10. R.C. Sproul writes:

Paul continues with an exposition of the way in which love fulfills the law. Many see this verse as a mandate against incurring any debt or borrowing money to build churches or homes or to but an automobile. If we look at the scope of sacred Scripture, however, we will see that there are vast provisions for taking on debt as well as guidelines to protect people who are in debt. … Scripture … sets out strong considerations for the poor who had to put up personal property as collateral for their indebtedness. If a person put up his garment, which he needed to keep warm at night, the creditor was allowed to keep that garment during the day but was required by law to give it back to its owner before the coldness of the evening (Deut. 24:12-13). Such scenarios in the Bible are all based upon a culture ordained by God that allowed borrowing and lending so long as the lending and borrowing were not exploitive and oppressive.

Every commentator I have examined on this subject says that Paul is instructing Christians to operate only under one perpetual debt or obligation, and that is to love our brothers. The application from the text concerning borrowing and lending is this: there is no sin in borrowing, but there is sin in borrowing something and not paying it back. We are required to fulfill our obligation. People take advantage of loans and do not fulfill their obligation. It does not just happen at Ligonier, it happens at every ministry and in every department store. When Christians incur debt, they, above all others, must move heaven and earth to honor their obligations as a matter of principle and conscience. If you own somebody something, pay what you owe. Pay your bills and pay them on time. If you enter into a contract, fulfill the terms of the contract. That is basic integrity.

All of this is wrapped, as we will see, in the overarching principle of love. If we borrow our neighbor’s rake and do not return it, we are failing to love our neighbor. All the practical applications of righteousness and justice Paul give us here are rooted and grounded in that overarching responsibility we have to love our neighbor as ourselves. The things Paul sets forth are nothing more or less than practical applications of the Golden Rule.

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