27 October 2019 – David Koenig Preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 234 “The God of Abraham Praise”
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: Psalm 86:5-7
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 3 “O LORD, How Many Are My Foes!”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 62:1-12
New Covenant Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
Sermon: Things We Know for Certain
Hymn of Response: 389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 383 “Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying”
OT: 1 Kings 11:9-25
NT: Acts 7:30-53
Adversity as an Instrument of the LORD
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 7
Q. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Monday (10/21) Read and discuss 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. Thessalonica was not an easy place to be a Christian. Perhaps the best-known verse among evangelicals about Thessalonica is from Acts 17 when Paul preaches in the synagogue at Berea: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” This makes sense since the Jews in Thessalonica had reacted so violently against the gospel that Paul had to leave the city in order to protect the Christians there from further persecution. Our minds naturally move on with Paul as we read through Acts, but First Thessalonians reminds us that there was a group of brand new Christians who remained in Thessalonica who were enduring this continued persecution. How can we comfort believers like that? Here’s what Paul did:
- Paul and his traveling companions prayed regularly for the Thessalonians.
- Paul told the Thessalonians that he was praying for them (v. 2).
- Paul gave thanks for the Thessalonians (v. 3). We are often more motivated by those who give thanks for us and believe in us than by those who warn us about how we might fall short.
- Paul reminded the Thessalonians that they had been chosen by God (v. 4). The LORD’s sovereign grace can be one of the greatest comforts in times of suffering.
- Paul had been, and continued to be, a good example of a faithful disciple for the Thessalonians to imitate (vv. 5-6).
- Paul pointed the Thessalonians to Christ’s Second Coming. When we are healthy and times are good, we can actually grow quite comfortable with our current lives. Yet, when struggles come (and they will!) it is important to remind ourselves that this is not the way the world is meant to be (nor the way we are meant to be). One day the LORD will return and make His invisible rule visible. He will wipe away every tear from your eyes and usher in an eternal Kingdom in which righteousness will dwell.
As you think through this list, you will realize that this is a helpful guide for how we can encourage our persecuted brethren as well. Read or sing Hymn 389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!” Prayer: Please lift the Presbytery as it meets today and tomorrow.
Tuesday (10/22) Read and discuss Mark 14:1-9. We have a saying in America that someone “is so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” In fairness to those who use this saying, there are certainly people who seek to escape from the struggles of the real world through religion or through a host of other diversions. Yet, such people are not being heavenly minded at all. To truly be focused upon the Living God of necessity causes us to be of true earthly good. After all, the law is summarized in two great commandments: (1) To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and (2) To love our neighbor as our self. When we combine today’s passage with the parallel passage from John 12, we see two sets of earthly minded individuals. First, there are the high priests and the scribes who are seeking to kill Jesus. Second, there are those who are attacking Mary for “wasting” this valuable perfume on Jesus when it could have been given to the poor. Christ’s rebuke, in the context of Deuteronomy, draws our attention to the fact that Mary’s critics were complete hypocrites. They wanted to be generous with Mary’s money – but not with their own. That is precisely what earthly minded people do. They are of little earthly or heavenly good. A simple way to see that being heavenly minded leads us to be of earthly good is to ask a simple question about today’s passage and the parallel passage in John 12: Who would you rather have as your neighbor – the scribes and high priests or Lazarus and Martha? Would you prefer Mary of Bethany who “wasted” the perfume on Jesus or Judas Iscariot? Jesus Himself tells us that Mary’s act of devotion was of such value that wherever the gospel would be preached this story of her devotion will be told. Read or Sing Hymn 234 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Ask the LORD to order your life in such a way that more and more of it can only be explained by the fact that Jesus is who He is and has done what He has done.
Wednesday (10/23) Read and discuss Psalm 62:1-12. Allen P. Ross writes:
This Psalm is a beautiful display of confidence in the LORD. The psalmist is in a life-threatening crisis, but he is not filled with fear or anxiety. Instead, he trusts in the LORD and waits silently for the LORD to deliver him. He knows that the LORD can provide the strength and security to deliver him from his destructive foes – he knows that only the LORD can do this. And he is confident that the LROD will do it because he is the savior of his people. The point this psalm is making can be stated this way: God alone is able to deliver the faithful from destructive enemies ad make them safe and secure because he alone is both savior and judge. Because he is the savior, he will save his faithful servants; and because he is the judge, he will reward everyone in accordance with what they have done – and for the malicious enemies of the people of God that means judgment, perhaps now, but certainly at the end of the age. New Testament believers also know that they cannot save themselves on any level, and so they trust in the LORD and wait for the day of deliverance. Paul in his letter to the Philippians instructs believers to rejoice in the LORD (praise), and not be anxious (calm confidence), but pray (faith), and the peace of the LORD will guard their hearts and minds (Phil. 4:4-7).
And the theme of judgment in accordance with works is most clearly presented in Jesus’ teaching on Matthew 25:31-46. Those who demonstrated their faith by their good works enter into the kingdom; but those who did not show any kindness or care about Jesus’ brethren demonstrated their rejection of him. They will be cast out. The household of faith has known from ages past that there is coming a day of judgment when the LORD will save those who have found forgiveness but condemn those who rejected him and opposed his saints.
Prayer: Please pray that the LORD would lead visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.
Thursday (10/24) Read and discuss Acts 7:30-53. Read and discuss Acts 7:30-60. If Jesus really was the Messiah, why did so few of the chief priests and the experts in the law believe in Him? This is a serious question and it is one that has not gone away with the passing of time. A student at Harvard could reasonably ask: “If the Bible is the inerrant word of God, why don’t any of the theology professors here (or apparently any of the Ivy League schools) believe that to be the case? Is the conviction that Jesus is the only way something that only uneducated crackpots hold to?” Stephen answers this objection head on. He points out that Jesus was only the last in a long line of those whom the religious “leaders” had rejected. Astonishingly, this included the first and most revered leader of the Jewish nation, Moses, through whom God had revealed His Torah. In fact, not a single one of the Old Testament prophets was revered throughout all Israel during his own lifetime. So Stephen boldly declares:
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.
Neither majority nor elite opinion offer a safe guide in how we are to follow and worship the living God. Instead, we are to drink from His word in humility while seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, all is not bad news. Moses was vindicated by God. The prophets were all vindicated by God. Jesus was vindicated by being raised from the dead. And even Stephen has already been vindicated as will all who trust in Jesus Christ. Read or Sing Psalm 3 “O LORD, How Many Are My Foes!” Prayer: Pray that the LORD would replace the false and cowardly shepherds in His Church with men after His own heart.
Friday (10/25) Read and discuss 1 Kings 11:9-25. John Woodhouse writes:
We have begun to see the consequences of King Solomon’s foolishness in turning his heart away from the LORD. The wrath of God was more than a religious idea. The stories of Hadad and Rezon show that the LORD’s anger was experienced in particular historical events and that these events were deliberate and purposeful acts of God (“the LORD raised up” these adversaries).
The same God promised that Solomon’s foolishness would not destroy God’s promise. “For the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen” (v. 13) the LORD’s anger would not be the end of the matter.
We need to see that all people everywhere have been foolish just as Solomon was foolish, and there are consequences. All people [apart from Christ] are under God’s wrath. As the Apostle Paul begins his majestic exposition of the gospel in which “the righteousness of God is revealed,” he emphatically asserts, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth”(Romans 1:17, 18). “Claiming to be wise they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:22, 23). For us, as for Solomon, the wrath of God is more than a religious idea. We experience consequences of our foolishness.
The wonder of the gospel is that God’s promise is not destroyed by our sin and its consequences. In faithfulness to his promise so long ago, a son of David has come who “delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Read or sing Hymn 383 “Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would remove the idols of your heart.
Saturday (10/26) Read and discuss 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10. Phil Ryken comments:
Despite the overwhelming biblical evidence for election, many Christians raise objections to the doctrine. Some argue that believing in election leads to pride, since if we believe that we have been chosen by God, we will think that we are somehow special and superior. On the contrary, the biblical doctrine of election promotes humility and not pride.
Election promotes humility by ascribing salvation not to any merit in the Christian but only to the sovereign grace of God. Election goes together with the doctrine of total depravity, which declares that sinners are not able to contribute anything positive to their own salvation, which therefore must be wholly of God. Where is the ground for human boasting when we realize that our salvation is in spite of our utter unworthiness and through corruption, and only because of God’s sovereign and amazing grace? Paul states the humbling truth in Titus 3:3-5: “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his mercy.”
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.