17 November 2019 – The Rev. Gary Moore Preaching
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 214 “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”
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 1:18
Hymn of Preparation: 173 “Almighty God, Your Word is Cast”
Old Covenant Reading: Jonah 3
New Covenant Reading: Luke 8:1-15
Sermon: Sowing the Word
Hymn of Response: 170 “God, in the Gospel of His Son”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 172 “Speak, O LORD”
OT: Psalm 116
NT: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:21
An Eternal Weight of Glory
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 10
Q. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.
Monday (11/11) Read and discuss Luke 8:1-3. Arthur Just writes:
The mention and listing of the women in Jesus’ company is unique to Luke. Jesus included women in His ministry and honored them by making them witnesses of His death and resurrection. In fact, Luke reports here the news that some women put their possessions at the disposal of Jesus and the Twelve (“were serving them” 8:3). Thus they helped make it possible, both financially and logistically, for Jesus to travel with His disciples, teaching and performing miracles. Those named here in Luke 8 appear again prominently as witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection. According to the principle of the scribe his own ministry as one of serving, using the same verbs as used for the women here. God made Eve for Adam as “a helper suitable for him.” That such “help” is not demeaning is shown by God Himself furnishing “help” to people. Now women are facilitating the ministry of the second Adam, and by becoming the “least,” there are among the “greatest.” Of the eight occurrences of “serve” in Luke, the first three of women who serve Jesus: Peter’s mother-in-law, these women, and Martha, who also is the only one in the gospel to provide “service.”
The women’s service is of great import, particularly in the context of the attitude prevailing in Judaism of Jesus’s day regarding the inclusion – or exclusion – of women in religious matters. For example, the Herodian temple in Jerusalem in the NT era had a separate “court of women” outside the “court of Israel,” which was accessible only to Jewish men. “Non-conformist that He was, Jesus refused to permit tradition to make second-class citizens of women, whom he considered His sisters.” In the kingdom He brings, the Spirit is poured out on His male servants and His female servants alike (Acts 2:18) and whoever does the will of God, which is to believe in Him, is His brother and sister and mother (Mk 3:35).
Read or sing Hymn 214 “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above” Prayer: Please lift up Pleasant Mountain Presbyterian Church in Bridgton, ME which is in the process of becoming a particular congregation in the OPC.
Tuesday (11/12) Read and discuss Romans 16:1-16. What is the most valuable thing that you possess? That’s an interesting question: “What is the most valuable thing that you possess?” You might be thinking of your home or your investments for retirement, but interestingly, when disasters like fires and floods strike, the vast majority of people grab onto something personal rather than something of great monetary value. I’m confident that if we could have visited Paul as he finished writing Romans, and if we asked him about the most valuable thing that he possessed at the moment; that Paul would almost certainly have told us that his most important possession was the gospel which had been entrusted to him – and concretely, the most valuable thing that he could hold in his hands was the letter to the Romans which he was about to send on its way. Paul took the thing that was most important to him in the entire world at that moment – his letter to the Romans – and he entrusted it to Phoebe. That is a remarkable testimony to the high esteem in which Paul held her. More broadly, Paul’s commendation of Phoebe along with his commendation of Prisca and Aquila remind us just how important women and laypeople were and are in the life of the church. Let’s bear in mind that less than 3% of our congregation is made up of Ruling Elders. God’s plan for the church is not that they would do all of the work. We are all being called into the great adventure of the Christian life – and we are being called to undertake this adventure … together. Read or Sing Hymn 173 “Almighty God, Your Word is Cast” Prayer: Ask the LORD to show you ways that you can work and serve for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
Wednesday (11/13) Read and discuss Jonah 3. It is frequently said that “repentance is a change of mind.” That is true, but it is incomplete. Biblical repentance involves a reorientation of our whole selves, so that we seek going our own way and are turned to God. When the king of Nineveh rises from his throne and puts on sackcloth, he is acknowledging that though he might be the king of Nineveh for a short period of time – he is not the Great King – and so he abases himself before the One who is truly in charge. Rosemary Nixon puts it like this:
There is something deliberately dramatic about the [the words of verse 6]. They are vividly pictorial. There is a beautiful symmetry in the way the actions of the king are set out. The action begins with him rising from his throne and ends with him sitting in ashes. Between these two resting places he has taken off his royal robe and covered, or ‘hidden,’ himself in sackcloth. Not even David’s repentance, after he had heard the words of Nathan the prophet, is so lucidly portrayed. In that story it is only after King David has been told that his child is dead that we are told, “Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothes. The story of Ahab shows he king adopting a similar response on hearing the words of the prophet Elijah: ‘he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about dejectedly.’ God’s response to Ahab was to delay judgment.
The response of these kings to the words of the prophets was unusual. Perhaps more common was the response of Jehoiakim, king in Jerusalem. On hearing the words of the prophet Jeremiah read to him by the scribe, ‘the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them into the fire. … Yet neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words, was afraid, nor did they rend their garments.’ Such brazen hostility towards God was all the more shocking coming from a descendant of David and a king of Jerusalem.
The pagan king of Nineveh, however, knew that fasting and the usual outward signs of repentance alone were insufficient. He added a totally new dimension to them by urging on the people the idea that the pattern of evil and violence had to be broken: ‘let every one turn from his evil way and from … violence’ (v. 8). It is not said of the men of Nineveh, “And God saw their sackcloth and their fasting,” but “God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way.”
Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH.
Thursday (11/14) Read and discuss Psalm 116. Alec Motyer writes:
The Bible makes no secret of the fact that life on earth can be a troubled existence, and that life’s troubles are no cause for surprise. James class us to joy in trial because it is God’s plan for our spiritual perfecting. Peter tells us it is nothing strange; it is the way the Master went; shall not the servant tread it still? And what does Psalm 116 teach? A great deal, indeed! The writer can look back over the whole period of the trial and say without hesitation: ‘I believed!’ – a strong, undeveloped statement, a maintained position of faith. Like Jesus, when He asked His awesome question ‘why?’ (Mark 15:34), was careful to preface it with ‘My God, my God,’ a double affirmation of sustained faith. Not a thing we always do! Yet what a lesson to learn! To look into the teeth of the storm and say ‘I believe.’ Come what may, this is not going to knock me off course. Here I stand!
Read or Sing Hymn 170 “God, in the Gospel of His Son” Prayer: Please lift up the Supreme Court of the United States and ask the LORD to grant them wisdom and integrity for their important work.
Friday (11/15) Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:21. Scott Hafemann writes:
Paul’s argument in 5:6-8 reminds us that life in this world is not the end-all and be-all of our existence. As a Christian it sounds silly even to say such a thing, since it is so obvious. But the fac that such a conviction has risen to the level of a truism makes it all the more necessary to reaffirm it. Clichés, though so true they go without saying, are not taken seriously. But Paul’s perspective in this passage, if taken seriously, challenges in no uncertain terms the contemporary cultural preoccupation with the present that pervades and cripples our churches. For in 5:8-9 Paul makes it clear that he Christian’s courage derives from having the right desires for the future, which in turn leads to having the right ambitions in the present. Those who live for the present desire only what this world has to offer. Their ambition is to please themselves within the confines of the narrow pleasures of this world. But those who live for the future with God desire the life promised by God. Their ambition is to please God, since He is their true joy.
Read or sing Hymn 172 “Speak, O LORD” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Hong Kong and in Mainland China.
Saturday (11/16) Read and discuss Luke 8:1-15. Ligon Duncan comments:
How do you hear the Word? Jesus makes it clear in this passage that hearing the Word is not just a matter of plopping down in the seat in the sanctuary and listening. Jesus’ point in this passage is that Satan himself has a real interest in your not listening to the Word of God. Jesus is indicating that for you to hear the Word of God, actually is to engage in a spiritual battle because Satan does not want you to hear the Word of God. Satan, if you’ll remember in this parable, Jesus Himself says, is active in trying to keep people from hearing the Word of God. In some people, he distracts them immediately so that the Word never ever takes root. In others, there’s an initial response of joy, but then in all too brief a time, it’s gone. And still in others there is a response to the truth, but what happens? The cares and the riches and the pleasures of this world choke the Word.
What’s happening there? You are caring more about the things of this life than you care about your eternal well-being. Can you imagine that – caring more about the things that will pass away than your eternal well-being? And Jesus is saying Satan is behind that. It happens all the time. So, when you come to hear the Word of God there is a battle going on. Satan is not wanting you to see your sin.
Why did that woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, and why did these women in verse 2 and 3, follow Jesus? Because they saw their sin and they saw their need and they saw that Jesus had met it. And what does Satan want to make sure you don’t do so that you don’t hear the Word? He doesn’t want you to see your sin. He wants you to come in and listen to a sermon and think about everybody else’s sins. “Boy, they sure did need to hear that message!”…
So how are you hearing the Word of God? Is it changing your life? Is it shown in the way you treat others? Is it shown in the fruit that’s being born in your experience — you love God more, you trust Him more, you want to tell about Him more, you want to live for Him more? Jesus is reminding us my friends that the hearing of the Word of God is a spiritual battle.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.