Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 236 “To God Be the Glory”
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: Psalm 103:8-10
Hymn of Preparation: 279 “O Christ, Our King, Creator, Lord”
Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 7:6-11
New Covenant Reading: 1 John 2:1-6
Sermon: Full Forgiveness Leads to True Obedience
Hymn of Response: Psalm 16A “Preserve Me, O My God”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 238 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”
OT: Isaiah 42:1-9
NT: Ephesians 2:11-22
United Through the Cross
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 19
Q. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Monday (1/13) Read and discuss 1 John 2:1-6. Saint Augustine says:
“My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin.” But suppose that sin steals up on you out of your human situation? What will happen then? Should you despair? Listen: “and if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the one who makes propitiation for our sins.” And so he is our Advocate. Live so that you don’t sin, but if some sin steals up on you out of the circumstances of your life, look at it right away, regret it, condemn it; and when you’ve condemned your sin you’ll come to your Judge without anxiety. There you have an Advocate. Don’t be afraid of losing your case, which you have confessed. Sometimes in affairs of this life people entrust themselves to an eloquent speaker and are saved. You are entrusting yourself to the Word, and will you be lost? Of course not. So should out: We have an Advocate with the Father!
Of course, the Word is not only supremely eloquent. He is Jesus Christ the righteous – and He is pleading His own righteousness rather than our innocence before the throne of grace. Read or sing Hymn 236 “To God Be the Glory” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has reckoned Christ’s perfect record of righteousness to your account – and therefore He has qualified you to be justified and accepted into God’s family as one of His children.
Tuesday (1/14) Read and discuss 1 John 1:5-10. Notice that verse 9 begins “If we confess our sins.” Walking in the Light doesn’t mean that we stop sinning. Rather, walking in the Light means that we regularly confess our sins and ask for forgiveness on the basis of who Jesus is and what He has done. Confessing our sins is part of walking in the light. To confess our sins is to say the same thing about ourselves that God says about us. It is to plead guilty in God’s courtroom and to acknowledge, that left to ourselves, we deserve the wrath of Almighty God. David Jackman makes the helpful observation that John speaks of us confessing our sins rather than confessing our sin. The plural suggests that this is to be a repeated and ongoing activity. We are to confess are particular sins particularly. This doesn’t mean that you have to rummage through your conscience trying to dredge up every sin that you have ever committed in order to confess it. What it does mean, is that as you walk in the light, some of your sins will be revealed to your own conscience – and as God reveals them to you, you are to confess your sins and to repent of them and be turned back to Jesus Christ. To confess our sins is to say the same thing about ourselves that God says about us. It is to plead guilty in God’s courtroom and to acknowledge, that left to ourselves, we deserve the wrath of Almighty God. Thankfully, the LORD has not left us to ourselves. Jesus, His Son, has born God’s holy wrath in our place. So, when we confess our sins – He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins – and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This truth should have a profound impact on the way that we treat one another and the way we welcome newcomers into the family of God. We are a cleansed people who should freely welcome dirty people – so that we can tell them how they can be cleansed. It can be very helpful to remember that you have been cleansed rather than simply thinking of yourself as clean. If we simply think ourselves as clean, we can start to imagine that we are really good. But if we remember that we have been cleansed, we will remember that it is God who is good, and that out of His goodness He will cleanse everyone who calls upon His name. Prayer: Pray for someone close to you, who does not yet know the LORD, that the LORD would quickly call him or her into His kingdom.
Wednesday (1/15) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 7:6-11. Paul Gilchrist writes:
Israel’s special status is by virtue of election – chosen by God, not because of any inherent greatness but solely because of God’s love and the oath bound promise made to Abraham. God’s sovereignty is also expressed in his faithfulness (v. 9) whereby He keeps His “covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” Love is the epoxy that binds people and God together. Note the amazing grace of God expressed in the Decalogue where the thousand generations to whom God’s covenant love is applied is placed in contrast to God’s punishing the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. Such a high calling is often accompanied by pried and boastfulness (problems which Moses deals with in chaps. 8-10). Israel is not to presume on God’s covenant love and grace, for carelessness only leads to destruction as a further exhibit of God’s justice.
Sing or Read 279 “O Christ, Our King, Creator, Lord” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.
Thursday (1/16) Read and discuss Isaiah 42:1-9. This beautiful passage speaks of the coming of Jesus seven centuries before His ministry began. As Christians we have become so familiar with the character of Jesus that, perhaps, it no longer strikes us the way that it should. In the ancient world (and in much of the modern world) talk of a great conquering king would naturally raise expectations about such a man’s behavior. Think of rulers that history has attached the title ‘the Great” to their names: Alexander, Cyrus, Genghis Khan, etc … Nearly all rulers in this category were military conquerors. With an image of such men in mind we can more accurately grasp the character of Israel’s Messiah. Commenting on today’s passage, Bryan Beyer writes:
The Servant’s ministry was marked by startling contrast (42:3). The contrast lay between the servant’s mild demeanor and his significant accomplishments. He did not announce his coming with loud pomp and was so gentle that he would not even crush a bruised reed or extinguish the smoldering wick of an oil lamp. Nonetheless, he would bring forth justice with perfect faithfulness. “Justice” here almost certainly denotes more than merely redressing crime. Rather, it designates a society that functions according to God’s design. …
Righteousness would shape the Servant’s ministry, as would the LORD’s personal guidance. The expressions “covenant for the people” and “light for the Gentiles (or nations)” are parallel. The first suggests that the servant would mediate God’s special covenant relationship with his own. The second indicates the servant would shine the light of God’s truth on peoples who had not yet experienced it. This latter concept occurred earlier in Isaiah (2:3; 11:10; 19:18-25), and the prophet would continue to develop this theme later in his book.
The covenant of people and the light to the Gentiles that the Servant brought includes special blessings. Blind eyes would see, and captives would be released from prison. Read or Sing Psalm 16A “Preserve Me, O My God” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Iran, as they seek to follow Jesus under very difficult circumstances and at a rather tense time in their nation’s history.
Friday (1/17) Read and discuss Ephesians 2:11-22. Clinton Arnold writes:
Jesus has created a new community. Jesus came not only to die on the cross for our sin, but also to form a new community of people brought by His blood. Paul speaks of this new community as the body of Christ or as “one new man.” He also refers to believers as fellow citizens of a new kingdom, as members of the household of God, and as living stones that comprise the new temple where God dwells. This new community has the potential for being perfectly unified because Christ has taken away the principal source of the enmity and has created the conditions for peaceful coexistence.
The division between Jews and Gentiles in the first century was deep. One has only to read Philo’s account of the Gentile uprising against the Jewish people in the city of Alexandria in the mid-first century to witness the extent to which the enmity could spill over into outright violence. This is the same ill-feeling that eventually led Claudius to banish all Jews from Rome just a few years before Paul spent his three-year ministry in Ephesus. For Paul to create integrated communities of Jewish and Gentile believers devoted to the worship of the one true God, the God of the Jews, within this cultural context of tension and hostility is nothing short of miraculous. He was able to do so, however, because it was God’s design. Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles in one unified body. Jesus Himself is the source of their peace.
We see throughout Ephesians, new Christians need time to grow, and thus Paul has to help them understand the nature of their new identity, their new community, and the new source of power for their growth and then challenge them to rid themselves of vices and appropriate the virtues of Christ. It is natural, then, to expect that there would be tension and disunity within the community at various levels. But this is not the norm. Paul expects the new community to strive for unity because this is the foundation and hallmark of the new community. …
The contemporary church is built on the same foundation and worships the same Prince of Peace. It is the heart and passion of Jesus Christ for His church to transcend the cultural and economic barriers that separate and divide. Jesus longs for His church to overcome the cultural barriers of racism, nationalism, and economic pride and to embody in a practical way what he created it to be: an attractive, yet countercultural, family of people very different from one another who love each other deeply and display the presence of the God who is near.
Read or sing Hymn 238 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Please pray for the Supreme Court of the United States.
Saturday (1/18) Read and discuss 1 John 2:1-6. David Jackman writes:
The section ends with a renewed emphasis on our practical walk in everyday life. How did Jesus walk? Certainly in the light with God, due to His perfect obedience to the heavenly Father’s will, to which God Himself testified (Mt. 3:17; 12:18; 17:5). But He also walked in love towards the crowds of needy, lost people whom He daily encountered. Walking in the light is not only characterized by the absence of sin but equally importantly by the presence of love. Those who remain (abide) in Christ cannot fail to display the fruit of the Spirit, in a Christ-like character. Just as the life flowing through the vine enables the branches to bear fruit, and that fruit indicates the nature of the plant’s life within, so it is with a true Christian who abides in Christ. ‘By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?’ (Matt 7:16). If we really walk in the light with God, our behavior will become more and more like that of the Lord Jesus. It is not that we obey God’s commands in order to make ourselves good enough to walk in the light with Him. That is the cul-de-sac called legalism. Rather, those who truly walk with God love to obey Him, because in that way they grow a little more like Him each day. That is the high road called grace.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.