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Guide for the Preparation for Worship on 20 October 2019

20 October 2019

Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5

Opening Hymn: 218 “Mighty God, While Angles Bless You”

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: Hebrews 2:17-18

Hymn of Preparation: 243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 43:1-21

New Covenant Reading: Romans 15:14-21

Sermon: That the Gentiles Might Obey

Hymn of Response: 417 “Jesus Shall Reign Wher’er the Sun”

Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)

Doxology (Hymn 568)

Diaconal Offering

Closing Hymn: 421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion”

PM Worship

OT: 1 Kings 11:1-8

NT: 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Falling Away

Shorter Catechism Q/A # 6

Q. How many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Suggested Preparations

Monday (10/14) Read and discuss Romans 15:14-21. Michael Bird writes:

I want to press the point that getting immoral idolatrous pagans to obey God is a key theme of the letter (see Rom 1:5; 16:26). Paul was probably dogged by rumors that he was just peddling Judaism minus Moses for Gentiles. As if he was telling Gentiles that they could be part of Israel, receive covenantal blessings, and even inherit eternal life without having to adopt the rituals and regulations of the Jewish way of life. In other words, Paul’s gospel was dissed for being antinomianism, as if he was promoting the idea that one just had to believe this stuff, but could feel free to keep being pagan. But nothing is further from the truth. Paul believed that the main thrust of his ministry was leading Gentiles to God through the Messiah and in the Spirit so that they would “obey” God, and so fulfill God’s law (see Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14; 6:2).

Thus, when the Gentiles are caught by the gospel and taught to obey God, Paul says they can be brought as an offering to God. In that ministry to bring Gentiles to the obedience of faith, Paul has worked with the evangelistic word (“by word”), holy living and compassionate service (“by deed”), and even a charismatic ministry (“by the power of signs and wonders through the power of the Spirit of God”). Paul emphasizes across his letters that his evangelistic message was accompanied by demonstrations of the Spirit’s powerful work. We don’t know for sure what these powerful deeds were, but in light of passages like Acts 14:8-18, we can imagine healings for the sick were probably prominent among them.

Read or sing Hymn 218 “Mighty God, While Angles Bless You” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would make your fruitful in your calling.

Tuesday (10/15) Read and discuss Isaiah 29:13-24. One of the most frightening warnings in all of Scripture comes from the lips of Jesus when He declared: ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)” Two things make this text so frightening. (1) First, the expression ‘Lord, Lord” is a Semitic idiom that is a repetition of personal endearment. The people saying this are not merely addressing Jesus with a respectful title; they are addressing Jesus as though they had a close personal relationship with Him. (2), Second, Jesus tells us that many will be in this condition on the last day. How can that possibly be? Today’s passage from Isaiah gives us the answer. The profession of these individuals is hypocritical.  “…this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.” Thankfully, this passage also provides some ways of discovering if we are merely hypocritical worshippers before it is too late.  Verse 13 tells us that the supposed worship of the hypocrites is based on a “commandment taught by men”.  Here is the first test, are we engaged in religious activity to receive the approval of other people or are we seeking God in His word – in order to know and love Him better? The second test, found in verse 15, is closely related to this. Hypocrites believe that they can keep some of their thoughts and behaviors secret from God. Therefore looking good becomes more important than being good. What a foolish way to think and live! As verse 16 puts it, “will the thing formed say of Him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” Yet, for those who truly love the Holy One of Israel, this passage brings great news. The LORD will overthrow the hypocrites who try to lord it over and oppress the meek. Indeed, the promise of this passage is developed in the Beatitudes to tells us that “the meek will inherit the earth” as God’s gift (NB: The meek inherit the earth, they do not conquer it). Read or Sing Hymn 243 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Please pray for our missionaries who are laboring among the Karamojong people in Uganda.

Wednesday (10/16) Read and discuss Isaiah 43:1-21.  Chapter 42 of Isaiah spells out in stark terms Israel’s rebellion and their failure to be what God had called them to be as His people:

Hear, you deaf,

and look, you blind, that you may see!

Who is blind but my servant,

or deaf as my messenger whom I send?

Who is blind as my dedicated one,

or blind as the servant of the LORD?

Things might seem virtually hopeless, but God was unwilling to let man’s rebellion have the last word. Commenting on today’s passage, Willem VanGemeren writes:

Israel’s formation was not a mistake. God elected (“created,” “formed”) Israel. He made them to be his people by calling them to be his. He loves his people and will do anything to redeem them. Regardless of how difficult the circumstances or how far he has to bring his people, he is with them. He is their God by covenant, the Holy One who has consecrated them, their Redeemer. He will give up Seba (a region south of Ethiopia) in exchange for the remnant of his people, his “sons” and “daughters,” who are called by his name (vv. 6-7). Thus, both the experience of rejection and the affirmation of redemption are the outworking of God’s will, and are expressions of his fatherly concern for his children.

Prayer: Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict our nation of sin and of righteousness.

Thursday (10/17) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. The theme of today’s passage is summed up in chapter 7 verse 1: “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” Starting at 6:14 we have a particular application of this theme: “Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Christians are not merely like non-Christians except that we happen to go to church on Sunday. Christians are set apart to the LORD. For a Christian to become yoked with non-Christians, of necessity, creates a relationship that tugs at our devotion to God. If the question was: “How can someone go from being a committed disciple of Jesus to being lukewarm in his or her faith?” A good answer would be: “Become unequally yoked.” This teaching naturally applies directly to our most important relationship – marriage. Yet, we should realize that the application is broader. We ought to be careful about entering into any binding long-term relationships with non-believers where our identities are wrapped up in that relationship. This doesn’t mean that a Christian attorney couldn’t join a law firm made up of hundreds of attorneys with diverse religious commitments – but it should caution that same attorney about starting a partnership with just one other non-Christian. The nature and demands of starting a new business, along with the very close relationship that two partners must have to make such a venture successful, may lead a Christian to minimize those areas where their beliefs are different from one another – namely their commitment to Christ. Read or Sing Hymn 417 “Jesus Shall Reign Wher’er the Sun” Prayer: Please lift up the Supreme Court of the United States.

Friday (10/18) Read and discuss 1 Kings 11:1-8. Phil Ryken comments:

Notice the contrast or even contradiction between the way Solomon’s story began and the way it ended. When Solomon first rose to power and chose wisdom over wealth, the Bible tells us that he “loved the LORD” (1 Kings 3:3). The word used here for “love” is the same word that is used at the end of the story to describe the king’s relationship to foreign women. An absolute change has taken place in Solomon’s affections. The man who once loved God ended up loving many pagan wives. As Richard Philips writes in his analysis of the “deformation” of Old Testament Israel, King Solomon “took foreign wives, the loveliest daughters of Egypt and Moab, Amnon and Sidonia, and in so doing took their gods into his heart.”

How did this change take place? It did not happen overnight. Solomon id not wake up one day and suddenly decide to stop loving God and start loving someone else. No, the spiritual change happened little by little, as it always does. “A small difference in trajectory,” comments Mark Dever, “can make a big difference in destination. … Sin often begins with what may feel like a minor concession – maybe an allowance for this shortcoming or a brief indulgence for that desire. But that simple change of trajectory can set you on a course to a deadly destination.”

Read or sing Hymn 421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would remove the idols of your heart.

Saturday (10/19) Read and discuss Romans 15:14-21. Michael Bird writes:

John Piper puts it wonderfully: “Mission exists because worship doesn’t.” Paul himself would wholeheartedly agree, because he believed that the Messiah filled the promises made to the patriarchs so that “the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy” (15:9). When Paul said that his ambition was to preach “the gospel where Christ was not named,” he meant that he was going to announce the Messiah precisely where the Messiah was not worshiped. When Paul said that he had “fully proclaimed the gospel” (15:19), he meant that he had fulfilled part of the plan by working to bring Gentiles out of idolatry to worship the true and living God. Mission means saving and sanctifying a people who confess the LORD, who call on the name of the Messiah, and who follow the leading of the Spirit.

The sum of all our studies in romans should also be driving toward this same missional task. As Wright says: “Just as the principal and ultimate goal of all historical work on J.S. Bach ought to be a more sensitive and intelligent performance of his music, so the principal and ultimate goal of all historical work on the New Testament ought to be a more sensitive and intelligent practice of Christian mission and discipleship.

As I read this text over and over, one little word in the Greek text stands out, “ambition” in romans 15:20. Paul had an ambition to preach Christ to those who do not know Him. We need to add the caveat that there are obviously intrinsic dangers to having ambitions to accomplish great things. Ambition to be successful no matter what the price is not helpful or wholesome. Ambition even in a good cause should not lead us to be underhanded or manipulative in our pursuits. That said, the evangelical churches have historically been defined by their evangelical ambition. In common parlance the label “evangelical” can mean to have bucket loads of enthusiasm for something. For example, I once heard the British celebrity chef Nigell Lawson say that she was “positively evangelical” about how to cook a good Christmas dinner. I’m glad the word “evangelical” still has that connotation; ambition in our hearts, homes, and halls so that the desire to bring men and women into the family of faith and to worship God never dies out.

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