6 October 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 219 “O Worship the King”
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: Psalm 130:7-8
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 18A “I Love You, LORD, My Strength” Stanzas 10-14
Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
New Covenant Reading: Romans 15:8-13
Sermon: Christ for the Gentiles
Hymn of Response: 417 “Jesus Shall Reign, Where’er the Sun”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: Psalm 117A
OT: Psalm 4:1-8
NT: Ephesians 4:17-32.
Singing Psalm 4
Joy in Righteousness
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 4
Q. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.
Monday (9/30) Read and discuss Romans 15:8-13. Doug Moo writes:
We must return one last time to one of the key issues in the modern interpretation of Romans: the tension between the personal focus and the community focus. Both are clearly present in Romans, both, Paul makes clear, are intrinsic to the gospel. Through the good news of Jesus Christ, God is both transforming individuals and forming a community.
The passage before us focuses on the latter, and many modern interpreters think this focus reflects Paul’s real concern in the letter. I do not totally agree. I think Paul focuses on the community in 15:7-13 because these verses conclude a section (14:1-15:13) that is about the community. But however we decide this matter, we must read Romans in such a way that we focus on both transformation of the individual and formation of the community.
Interpreters in the past were sometimes guilty of seeing in Romans only the former, so that all they talked about were justification by faith, the sanctification of the believer, and one’s duties as a believer. But some contemporary interpreters make the opposite mistake. Reading Romans in a culture obsessed with community and the need for reconciliation among races, ethnic groups, and nations, they emphasize only how we as God’s people should function as a single, united body. Justification by faith and similar themes become minimized or reinterpreted.
We must keep things in balance. The heart of the gospel is the message of God’s justifying work in Christ. The essential human problem is estrangement from God. Only when this estrangement is overcome and a person is reconciled to God by faith can we speak about God’s good news having done its work. Our preaching and teaching must therefore confront people with sin and offer them redemption in Christ.
But God also wants to form people transformed by the gospel into communities that reflect the values of the gospel. Vertical reconciliation with God must lead to horizontal reconciliation with one another. Faithfulness to the gospel demands that any of us involved in ministry should seek to maintain a balance between the two perspectives. Some pastors are marvelous proclaimers of the gospel of individual transformation. They are passionate to save souls, rescuing people lost in sin and destined for hell. I commend their passion. But they need also to make clear – as Paul does in Romans – that the gospel not only rescues people from hell but also transforms whole persons, brining reconciliation with other people as well as with God.
Read or sing Hymn 219 “O Worship the King” Prayer: Ask the LORD to give you the ability to see how being reconciled to Him in Christ transforms your relationships with those around you.
Tuesday (10/1) Read and discuss Proverbs 3:1-12. How should we interpret the proverbs and apply them to our lives? One key thing to remember is that proverbs are not promises. This is an area where evangelicals sometimes get in trouble. Some evangelicals stick proverbs into promise boxes as though if you want to be wealthy all you need to do is honor the LORD with the first-fruits of your increase. The next thing you know, we have evangelicals basically embracing the health and wealth gospel or imagining that if they are good parents this will guarantee that their children will become believers. But that is not how the proverbs work. Proverbs are not promises; they are an explanation of how the world works by the One who created the world. It is possible that you could eat Twinkies and cherry coke every day and live to 100 or that you could exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables and die at 45 from colon cancer. The Proverbs are like the advice from a skilled dietician who explains that eating well and getting exercise promotes good health. It is possible that you could be quite disciplined about spending less than you make and wisely saving and investing for the future and still come to financial ruin by circumstances that are entirely beyond your control. A good financial planner will freely admit that the future is uncertain, but will also point you in the direction of wisely spending less than you make and regularly contributing to savings and long term investments – because this is much more likely to lead to a positive outcome than simply hoping that one day you will come into a lot of money. The Proverbs are like that skilled dietician and wise financial advisor. The Proverbs give us wisdom for daily living based on the way that relationships, finances, and life in this world normally work – they don’t bind the hands of God or somehow put God into your debt. Read or Sing Psalm 18A “I Love You, LORD, My Strength” Stanzas 10-14. Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD cares so much about us that He gives us practical wisdom for living vibrant, productive, and ultimately satisfying lives.
Wednesday (10/2) Read and discuss Isaiah 11:1-10. Alec Motyer writes:
The Lord Jesus, says Paul, has become ‘for us wisdom from God’ (1 Cor. 1:30). Isaiah got there first, of course, and it is attractively tempting to think that Isaiah 11 was the apostle’s daily Bible reading the day he wrote to the Corinthians! What a portrait the prophet painted of our great royal Messiah! ‘Wisdom’ is a true understanding of life and how to live it; ‘discernment’ is seeing right to the heart of any matter, seeing a problem or situation as it really is. Jesus, too, knows how to plan sensibly in every situation (‘counsel’) and to impart the practical ability (‘valor’) to get it done; and in Him we see, and from Him we learn, that true, deep reverence, the ‘fear of Yahweh,’ which is meant to be the governing principle for this ‘time of our sojourning’ (1 Pet 1:17). We cannot read Isaiah 11 (and crowds of other passages) without sensing afresh the wonder of our Bibles: such detailed anticipation and accurate forecasting of the Coming One. This is great gain, but even more important is to take the next step and be uplifted in wonder, love, and praise of the one thus foreseen, the Lord Jesus Christ. If He really is like Isaiah foresaw – practical, effective, wisdom for every day, power over all the power of the enemy, Lord of the beautiful and blessed future He holds in store for us (vv. 6-9) – what fresh commitments we should make to live close and stay near to Him.
Prayer: Give thanks that we have the sure hope that one day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD even as the waters cover the sea.
Thursday (10/3) Read and discuss Ephesians 4:17-32. Old habits are hard to break. Many of us have tried to quit smoking or consuming excessive amounts of caffeine or attempted to lose weight only to discover that it is much easier to do in theory than in practice. This is one reason why we make such an effort to encourage our children to start building healthy patterns of behavior while they are young. Most of the adult Christians in Ephesus didn’t have that luxury. They had grown up as pagans and had ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior that were not consistent with their high calling to be members of Christ’s body the Church. What were they to do? Should they find a psychiatrist who would help them blame everything on their parents? Should they despair and say: “What do you expect, given that I spent most of my life as a pagan?” Paul says: “Absolutely not!” They were to “put off … (their) former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of (their) minds.” They were to “put on the new man which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness.” This would be demanding work that required and requires constant vigilance. Nevertheless, they and we have been called to this. We have come to know Christ and to be known by Him and we have been filled with the Holy Spirit for just this purpose. We should not despair when we discover that pressing on in holiness is a difficult business. Instead we should rejoice that God is rescuing us from our former lives and beginning to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Read or Sing Hymn 417 “Jesus Shall Reign, Where’er the Sun” Prayer: Ask the LORD to keep you from despair or excessive discouragement over your circumstances or over your remaining shortcomings as a Christian, and ask Him to cause you to press on towards the high calling that is yours in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Friday (10/4) Read and discuss Psalm 4:1-8. James Mays writes:
Psalm 4 is an individual prayer for help. Its occasion is the trouble caused by a falsehood. The honor of the one who prays has been damaged by a lie (v. 2). In spite of distress, the prayer’s dominant mood is confidence. In that confidence the prayer petitions God to hear and help, rebukes those who cause humiliation (vv. 2-5), and declares trust in God (vv. 6-8). In the culture of ancient Israel, honor was of the greatest value; it is in most societies. Honor is the dignity and respect that belong to a person’s position in relation to family, friends, and the community. It is an essential part of the identity that others recognize and regard in dealing with a man or a woman. In Israel its loss had tragic consequences for self-esteem and social competence. Shaming and humiliating a person was violence against them worse than physical harm. Job’s lament over his lost honor (Job 29) is eloquent testimony to the suffering caused. The fourth commandment shows the importance of the notion in the family. Though the term and the notion are not prominent in our culture, the reality and experience of it are inherent in the roles and expectations that belong to all social relations.
The prayerful and theological significance of this psalm I s that God is the ultimate basis of the “honor” of the faithful. The psalmist has a basis of identity that transcends the judgments of others – the relation to God. He calls the LORD “God of my right,” that is, the one on whom his “rightness” as a person depends. One’s righteousness is finally a matter of God’s judgment.
Read or sing Psalm 117A “Praise Jehovah, All Ye Nations” Prayer: Ask the LORD to keep His Church from becoming divided by secular politics.
Saturday (10/5) Read and discuss Romans 15:8-13. Arland Hultgren writes:
Paul resumes the exhortation to welcome others that he began at 14:1, the very beginning of the section on “the weak and the strong.” He uses the same verb form [which means “embrace!”], which is an imperative in the second person plural. At 14:1 the welcome was to be extended to the person who is “weak in faith.” Now the welcome is generalized; it is to be extended to all. Further, Paul expresses the basis for mutual welcome among believers. It is expected because Christ has already [embraced] all believers first. Whoever has been welcomed by Christ should be welcomed by all.
In its first-century setting everywhere the Christian movement was made up of persons of different opinions. What is essential to the Christian life, and what is a matter of indifference? [It should be clear that neither Jesus nor Paul think that everything is a matter of indifference or even of limited importance. For example, Paul anathematizes those who teach a different doctrine of justification from the one that he teaches, and Jesus tells us that those who do not believe in Him will perish in their sins. Nevertheless, in those matters that truly are adiaphora, as well as those which are of secondary importance, Paul insists that we are] to regard the other no longer “from a human point of view” (2 Cor 5:16) but as one for whom Christ has died (Rom 14:15) and a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). That means putting away secular standards of judgment and looking at others through the prism of divine love. One should not regard human opinions among persons in Christ as positions that are walled in by barriers that reach to heaven.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.