Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
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: Zechariah 3:1-5
Hymn of Preparation: 221 “O Light That Knew No Dawn”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 115:1-18
New Covenant Reading: 1 John 1:1-4
Sermon: Eyewitness Testimony
Hymn of Response: 243 “How Firm a Foundation”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies”
OT: Psalm 16:1-11
NT: Hebrews 6:13-20
Where Fullness of Joy May be Found
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 17
Q. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
Monday (12/30) Read and discuss 1 John 1:1-4. Karen Jobes writes:
It is difficult to imagine any two topics of greater relevance and importance to Christian theology and life than the authority of Scripture and the nature of Jesus Christ. The eyewitness testimony of the Twelve (with Judas replaced by the apostle Paul), whom Jesus selected to bear witness of the significance of his life, death, and resurrection, now resides in the pages of the New Testament. This is not to say that every NT book was written by an eyewitness of Jesus, for clearly not all were. Luke, for instance did not see Jesus with his eyes, but he worked closely with the apostle Paul, who encountered the risen Jesus on the Damascus road. Mark, who as a young boy may actually have seen Jesus, is said to have produced his gospel from the eyewitness testimony of Peter.
The gospel of John had its origin in the eyewitness testimony of the disciple whom Jesus loved, who was likely the apostle John. James is the half-brother of Jesus, who became the leader of the church in Jerusalem after Peter’s departure. While the authors of some books cannot be identified with certainty, this commentary operates on the premise that the NT is he repository of the reliable and authoritative witness to the significance of the person and message of Jesus Christ. Beyond its reliability as ancient and authentic human testimony to Jesus, it is the divinely inspired Word of God, whose truth is based on the character of God Himself. The NT is God’s interpretation of the significance of Jesus.
Read or sing Hymn 234 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Give thanks that you have the very words of God translated into your own language.
Tuesday (12/31) Read and discuss Luke 2:21-38. There is so much for us to glean from Simeon’s words, but one of the most practical things for us to be reminded of is also the most simple: What the Holy Spirit had promised. The Holy Spirit had fulfilled. The LORD had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the LORD’s Messiah – and the Holy Spirit brought Simeon to see the baby Jesus face-to-face. This theme of God fulfilling His promises by revealing Himself in Jesus Christ will be critical for the rest of the Gospel – indeed for our lives right now in the 21st century. How precious this truth must have been to Joseph and Mary, whose lives had been turned upside down as they clung to the promises the LORD had made personally to them. Promises so nearly unbelievable that they probably shared them with almost nobody. Yet, He who promised is faithful. He will surely fulfill them all. Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD is faithful and so He perfectly fulfills every promise that He has ever made.
Wednesday (1/1) Read and discuss Psalm 115:1-18. Commenting on verse 3a, “Our God is in heaven,” John Calvin writes:
The faithful, when they place God in heaven, do not confine him to a certain locality, nor set limits to his infinite essence, but they deny the limitation of his power, its being shut up to human instrumentality only, or its being subject to fate or fortune. In short, they put the universe under his control; and, being superior to every obstruction, he does freely everything that may seem good to him. This truth is still more plainly asserted in the subsequent clause; he does whatever pleases him. God, then, may be said to dwell in heaven, as the world is subject to his will, and nothing can prevent him from accomplishing his purpose.
That God can do whatsoever he pleases is a doctrine of great importance, provided it be truly and legitimately applied. If we would derive advantage from this doctrine, we must attend to the import of God’s doing whatsoever he pleases in heaven and on the earth. And, first, god has all power for the preservation of his Church, and for providing for her welfare; and, secondly, all creatures are under his control, and therefore nothing can prevent him from accomplishing all his purposes. However much, then, the faithful may find themselves cut off from all means of subsistence and safety, they ought nevertheless to take courage from the fact, that God is not only superior to all impediments, but that he can render them subservient to the advancement of his own designs. This, too, must also be borne in mind, that all events are the result of God’s appointment alone, and that nothing happens by chance. This much it was proper to premise respecting the use of this doctrine, that we may be prevented from forming unworthy conceptions of the glory of God, as men of wild imaginations are wont to do. Adopting this principle, we ought not to be ashamed frankly to acknowledge that God, by his eternal counsel, manages all things in such a manner, that nothing can be done but by his will and appointment.
Sing or Read 221 “O Light That Knew No Dawn” Prayer: Please pray for our local church in the year ahead, that we would put down deep roots into God’s word, that we would grow in our love for Jesus and one another, and that we would reach out to our friends and neighbors to share the good news of Jesus Christ or to simply invite them to Bible study or to Sunday worship.
Thursday (1/2) Read and discuss Hebrews 6:13-20. Peter O’Brien writes:
The author … explains how God’s people will be able to participate in his Sabbath celebration of worship, praise, and joy that has been kept open for them since creation. God’s promise of entering his resting place was a firm offer that was announced to the community when they were evangelized (vv. 1, 2). Those who enter this rest are defined as believers (v. 3); they have received the gospel, and their lives are to be marked by perseverance to the end. The resting place they are to enter is God’s own, where he celebrates His Sabbath rest. …
In the here and now, believers have not yet experienced this celebration. But since the promise of relating to it points to their future inheritance, they may now live in the light of it. Whoever enters this eschatological rest, whether at death or the parousia of Christ (Hebrews does not say which), will have completed their service on earth, just as God finished His work after creation. The parallelism between the two clauses is striking: the rest is not only God’s; it is also the believer’s since he or she rests too. Further, in a statement that is parallel to the rest after the Sabbath of Genesis 2:2, the believer rests ‘from his works’, just as God rested from His. The nature of the works themselves is not spelled out. Instead the emphasis falls on the divine rest, and since the whole expression is subordinate to v. 9, it is best to understand ‘works’ in a more general sense. Whoever enters God’s resting place at the parousia of Christ will finally participate in the great Sabbath around God’s throne and will ‘rest from the labors of a faithful life in this world.’ Note the parallel in Revelation 14:13, ‘Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the LORD from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
Read or Sing Hymn 243 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Nigeria as they live with the awful reality that Boco Haram has executed, and is seeking to execute them, simply for being Christians.
Friday (1/3) Read and discuss Psalm 16:1-11. Dale Ralph Davis writes:
We sometimes speak of ‘a sheltered life’ in a derogatory sense. We use the phrase of someone who has been pampered or who is naïve or inexperienced. Some fellow never learned to wash his own clothes or cook his own food because his mamma always did it for him until he was twenty-six. He has led a sheltered life. Older folks might use it of someone who has never had to use an outdoor privy, while younger people might think of someone who has never seen a drug deal. It’s synonymous with someone who has had so much given to him or her, who has not had to struggle, who has had very few hard knocks. A sheltered life.
Psalm 16, however, speaks of the idea positively. And this doesn’t mean David had few troubles. But in Psalm 16 there isn’t quite that on-edge air of emergency as in other psalms of David. This psalm is more restful; here he ponders what anchors him, rather than what alarms him. ‘Watch over me [ESV = “Preserve me”], O God, for I have taken refuge in you.’ That is the ‘sheltered life,’ and in his meditation David commends it to you.
Read or sing Hymn 157 “When Morning Gilds the Skies” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.
Saturday (1/4) Read and discuss 1 John 1:1-4. Colin Kruse writes:
This letter, written to urge the readers not to be led astray by those who had seceded from the Christian community and to reassure them that they are in the truth, seeks to achieve its purpose by strengthening the readers’ commitment to what they already know, that is, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ which they heard from the beginning. It is in line with this purpose that the author begins his letter with a reminder of the origins of the gospel, the message concerning ‘the Word of life’ (of which he is a firsthand witness) which constitutes the basis of the fellowship in which he wants them to continue.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.