29 December 2019
Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: 216 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty”
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: Romans 10:10-13
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 97A “The LORD Our God is King!”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 102:1-28
New Covenant Reading: Luke 2:21-38
Sermon: The Child Who Brings Peace
Hymn of Response: 498 “I Will Sing of My Redeemer”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 497 “More Love to Thee, O Christ”
OT: Psalm 8:1-9
NT: Ephesians 1:15-23
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 16
Q. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.
Monday (12/23) Read and discuss Luke 2:21-38. In today’s passage we witness the continued faithfulness of Joseph and Mary who were careful to obey the word of the LORD exactly as it has been given to them. We also meet representatives of the faithful remnant in Israel who were waiting expectantly for the coming of the Christ. Nevertheless, the passage is primarily about Jesus. Let us consider the significance of Christ’s circumcision with the help of Arthur A. Just:
Jesus’ circumcision is a one-time event availing for all. The foreskin represents sin and rebellion against God (Col 2:13). While Jesus is without sin, he takes humanity’s place under the Law as the sin-bearer, as also in his baptism. The benefits of Jesus’ circumcision are received in Holy Baptism (Col 2:10-13). In Luther’s exposition of Gen 17:9-11, he includes among the benefits of circumcision for OT believers the forgiveness of sins, justification, and incorporation into the people of God. These benefits accrued to those who received the sign of circumcision through their faith in God’s promise, which is fulfilled in Christ. St. Paul speaks of Holy Baptism as a “circumcision done without hands” and as “the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11). There was a fierce argument in the early church about whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised. The issue is settled by a proper understanding of Jesus’ fulfillment of the entire OT on our behalf (Luke 2:21-24, 27, 39), for in the circumcision of the one who represents all [His people], all [His] people are circumcised one and for all [in Him].
Read or sing Hymn 216 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty” Prayer: Please for our brothers and sisters who are seeking to be faithful in Iran where there is so much hostility to biblical Christianity.
Tuesday (12/24) Read and discuss Luke 2:1-20. What exactly is this “good news of great joy that shall be for all the people?” The Angel of the LORD declares:
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Jesus was born of Mary, but He wasn’t simply born for Mary. “Unto you is born this day.” Jesus was born for sinners like me and for sinners like you! Is that good news for you? It is if Jesus is the type of Savior and Lord that you desperately need. What did Jesus come to save us from? When the Angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph he said: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” That is the type of Savior that Jesus is. Jesus came to save us from the guilt of our sins, from the power of our sins, and ultimately – from the presence of our sins. Is that good news for you? It is if you are a sinner. Prayer: Give thanks for the amazing gift of Immanuel – God with us!
Wednesday (12/25) Read and discuss Psalm 102:1-28. This Psalm begins with deep distress. Verses 3-11 paint a picture that could lead many of us to the brink of complete despair. Then verse 12 begins with that wonderful word “but.” No matter how bad our circumstances, the LORD is greater than our troubles and both willing and able to deliver us. Indeed, the circumstances of verses 3-11 could lead non-Christians to hopelessness but the psalm concludes with great hope. Commenting on verse 28 Willem Van Gemeren writes:
The future of the godly is tied up with God himself and with his promises. The psalmist praises the LORD in that he will be true to “the children of your servants.” They and their descendants will “dwell” and be “established” in the LORD’s presence. Such is the confidence of the covenantal care of the LORD.
The LORD magnificently showed His fidelity to His promises when He restored the people from exile under Cyrus and when He sent Jesus the Messiah to restore humanity to Himself. God the Father is able to bring “many sons to glory”; and to this end He sent Jesus, His Son, to be the author of salvation. As the Savior is perfect, so is His salvation. What the psalmist longed for has been experienced in time, as the faithful servants of God have testified. But as long as God’s servants suffer, this psalm is appropriate for all who long for the fullness of salvation, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
Sing or Read Psalm 97A “The LORD Our God is King!” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester.
Thursday (12/26) Read and discuss Psalm 8:1-9. Commenting on verses 6-9 Calvin writes:
From the dominion over all things which God has conferred upon men, it is evident how great is the love which he has borne towards them, and how much account he has made of them. As he does not stand in need of anything himself, he has destined all the riches, both of heaven and earth, for their use.
It is certainly a singular honor and one which cannot be sufficiently estimated, that mortal man, as the representative of God, has dominion over the world, as if it pertained to him by right, and that to whatever quarter he turns his eyes, he sees nothing wanting which may contribute to the convenience and happiness of his life. Now there is no doubt, that if there is anything in heaven or on earth which is opposed to men, the beautiful order which God had established in the world at the beginning is now thrown into confusion. The consequence of this is, that mankind, after they were ruined by the fall of Adam, were not only deprived of so distinguished and honorable an estate, and dispossessed of their former dominion, but are also held captive under a degrading and ignominious bondage. Christ, it is true, is the lawful heir of heaven and earth, by whom the faithful recover what they had lost in Adam; but he has not yet actually entered upon full possession of his empire and dominion. What is here said by David will not be perfectly accomplished until death be abolished. There remains the hope of a better state than the present.
Read or Sing Hymn 498 “I Will Sing of My Redeemer” Prayer: Please lift up the young people in our congregation and ask that they may have an enjoyable and productive break from school.
Friday (12/27) Read and discuss Ephesians 1:15-23. You can tell a lot about someone’s priorities from what they pray for. The fact that so many prayer requests are about health issues reminds us what a high priority we put on good health. We should do this. After all, God commands us to pray for each other when we are sick (James 5:14). On the other hand, we should consider what we pray for and ask whether or not our priorities match God’s priorities. The truth is that few of us would naturally pray along the lines of the Lord’s Prayer except for the fact that Jesus gave this to us as a pattern to follow. We need to have the humility to recognize that we often don’t know how to pray as we should and to ask the Lord to teach us to pray. In addition to the Lord’s Prayer, the Bible is also filled with prayers from godly men like the Apostle Paul. In today’s passage we find Paul praying with these priorities:
- Paul gives thanks for the faith and love he hears about in other believers (v. 16).
- Paul prays that “the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him”. Specifically, that “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, …”
- “… that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,”
- “… what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”
- “… and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.”
Why not try making Paul’s priorities your priorities as you pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ today? Read or sing Hymn 497 “More Love to Thee, O Christ” Prayer: Ask the LORD to deepen your understanding of His astonishing plan of salvation.
Saturday (12/28) Read and discuss Luke 2:21-38. David Strain comments:
Notice that Simeon sings as he does not just because Jesus fulfills the meaning of the ceremonies of the Law, but because Jesus is God’s final Word. In Jesus, God is showing Himself to us. Notice how Simeon is characterized in verses 25 through 28. Over and over again Luke highlights the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit in Simeon’s life. Simeon is being portrayed here as an oracle, a prophet of the living God, guided by the Holy Spirit; even guided in terms of his footsteps that morning into the temple that he might meet Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus. One wonders if he stood in astonishment and holy awe as he watched that family make their way forward to the priest, as they offered sacrifice for cleansing and for purification. And as Jesus is presented and consecrated to the Lord to be holy to God, was Simeon simply staggered as that flash of supernatural recognition stole through him as he saw, “This child is Himself the Lord’s salvation! Cleansing, pardon, redemption, freedom is bound up not in the blood of bulls and goats, not in the blood of lambs and pigeons and turtledoves, but in the blood of this child, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.