Call to Worship: Psalm 98:1-3
Opening Hymn: 224 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”
Confession of Sin
Most holy and merciful Father; We acknowledge and confess before You; Our sinful nature prone to evil and slothful in good; And all our shortcomings and offenses. You alone know how often we have sinned; In wandering from Your ways; In wasting Your gifts; In forgetting Your love. But You, O Lord, have pity upon us; Who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased You. Teach us to hate our errors; Cleanse us from our secret faults; And forgive our sins for the sake of Your dear Son. And O most holy and loving Father; Help us we beseech You; To live in Your light and walk in Your ways; According to the commandments of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Titus 2:11-14
Hymn of Preparation: 239 “Holy God, We Praise Your Name”
Old Covenant Reading: Leviticus 19:9-18
New Covenant Reading: 1 John 2:7-11
Sermon: Loving God Means Loving Others
Hymn of Response: 538 “Take My Life, and Let it Be”
Confession of Faith: Q/A 1 Heidelberg Catechism (p. 872)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 265 “In Christ Alone”
OT: Psalm 82:1-8
NT: Ephesians 3:1-13
The Gospel for the Gentiles
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 20
Q. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a redeemer.
Monday (1/20) Read and discuss 1 John 2:7-11. Karen Jobes writes:
Because “God is light” and Jesus has come as light into a world covered in darkness, John challenges us to consider our own lives in view of this duality. If we are in fellowship with God in Christ, we will walk in the light and do the truth. That is, we will let the revelation of God that Jesus Christ brought inform our every act and decision throughout life. To remain in the light means to continue to be motivated by God’s will throughout all the challenges and temptations we face. We will keep his commands to believe in His Son and to love one another through every season of our lives. Only in this way do we remain in God.
Read or sing Hymn 224 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead you to see every aspect of your life in relationship to Jesus Christ.
Tuesday (1/21) Read and discuss 1 John 2:1-6. In verse 1, Jesus Christ is called our Advocate. The term translated “Advocate” means “One who is called alongside to help” and particularly as a Legal Advocate in a court of law. Many of you will be familiar with the Greek word Paraclete which stands behind this translation. It is the term that Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit in the Gospel according to John. Regretfully, the scholars usually translate Paraclete as Comforter or Helper when referring to the Holy Spirit – so we can miss the fact that Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit is going to be doing something very similar to what Jesus was doing and what He continues to do. And yet there is a difference. As John Stott points out: “The Holy Spirit pleads Christ’s cause before a hostile world, Christ pleads our cause against our ‘accuser’” – Satan – and before our Father who is in Heaven. My favorite picture of this in the Bible is from Zechariah chapter 3, where Zechariah is given a vision of Satan accusing Joshua – Israel’s High Priest at that time – before the throne of God. The problem is, that left to himself, Joshua was clothed in filthy garments which represented his own sins and the sins of all the people. But the pre-incarnate Christ is there in God’s courtroom:
And [Jesus] said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” … [and then our LORD commands] … “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”
That is a wonderful picture to remember when you consider the reality of your own sin. You have an Advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. Sing or Read 239 “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for you.
Wednesday (1/22) Read and discuss Leviticus 19:9-18. Derek Tidball writes:
Sociologists are increasingly speaking of the need for ‘social capital’ if a society is to function smoothly. Any society needs more than financial capital and physical infrastructure in order to be prosperous; it also needs quality social relationships and secure networks that share a common set of values. A society that has made a good investment in social capital will not be one in which people are distrustful and suspicious of one another or one that has to devote endless resources to dealing with crime. It will be comfortable to live in, and its members will enjoy sharing common resources. It will function much more efficiently than those in which society’s social capital is low. The fear of many today is that the social capital of all cultures of advanced individualism is disappearing fast. From one viewpoint, Leviticus 19 is about how every member of a community can invest in its social capital.
Yet, we must be careful not to advance down this particular road too fast. For though the laws of Leviticus 19 will lead to the creation of a wholesome community and the banking of wonderful reserves of social capital this is not the chapter’s raison d’etre. The rules are designed first and foremost not as a matter of social convenience but as a matter of divine holiness. They arise from God’s invitation to be holy because I the LORD your God, am holy.
It may be helpful to recognize that the issues of holiness and social capital naturally belong together. Since holiness means being set apart as belonging to (or dedicated to) God; and living a life of holiness means living in light of belonging to God and therefore reflecting God’s character into the world; we shouldn’t be surprised that when the members of a community reflect God’s character into the world this leads to society functioning better. In fact, if everyone reflected God’s character perfectly we would be in a Garden civilization like that of the New Heaven and Earth. We, of course, are incapable of doing that ourselves – but one day Christ Himself will bring that to pass. Sing or Read Hymn 538 “Take My Life, and Let it Be” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has set apart the children of one or more believing parents as holy and pray that the LORD would sovereignly call all the children in our church to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
Thursday (1/23) Read and discuss Psalm 82:1-8. Allen P. Ross writes:
The psalm is clearly about justice, or rather, the lack of justice in the world, which is a matter of life and death. The psalmist records a divine oracle that brings an indictment and passes sentence on those appointed to be judges in the world. … Because they proved to be corrupt, making decisions that promote godlessness and unrighteousness and inequity throughout the world, the LORD God, the Judge of the whole world, announces that H will destroy them. The “gods” are therefore under a sentence of mortality. And with the judgment on unjust judges the righteous will be safe and secure. This is the prophetic word from God; and it is for this that the psalmist appeals – that it be soon.
We may word an expository idea for this psalm in these words: The righteous earnestly appeal to the LORD, the sovereign judge of the whole earth, to bring injustice to an end and establish universal righteousness. The oracle in the psalm is not just a wish of the psalmist; it is a sure word from God. The LORD can, and does, remove corrupt leaders, as He did from time to time in ancient Israel; but He will fulfill this oracle once and for all at the end of the age.
Prayer: Ask the LORD to make you a person who loves justice, who does mercy, and who walks humbly with your God.
Friday (1/24) Read and discuss Ephesians 3:1-13. Clinton Arnold writes:
Suffering can accomplish God’s purposes. One illustrious example of this is Paul’s circumstances as he writes this letter. In spite of suffering the constraints, pain, and indignities of Roman imprisonment, Paul is confident of a far greater good that can come from it. Consequently, he urges the readers not to lose heart by his sufferings. Paul has a transcendent perspective on his suffering, seeing himself not as a prisoner of Rome, but as a “prisoner of Christ Jesus.” …
Suffering can make God feel far away from us. The suffering of those we know, love, and respect can cause deep discouragement. It is important for us to realize that suffering is encompassed within the plan of God. This is apparent in the life of Jesus and the life of Paul.
Many Christians throughout the world continue to suffer because of their testimony for Jesus Christ. Many Christians in China, for instance, have suffered immensely. Yet we can never underestimate God’s closeness during the suffering and the wisdom of His sovereign care. What is meant for evil can turn into extraordinary good.
Read or sing Hymn 265 “In Christ Alone” Prayer: Lift up our brothers and sisters in China and ask that they would enjoy greater religious freedom and that they would stand firm in their faith.
Saturday (1/25) Read and discuss 1 John 2:7-11. David Jackman writes:
The law is itself an expression of the love of God for man. Once we can grasp that, it will help us to see it in a much more positive way. A father used to ask his wife to go and see what the children were doing and tell them to stop. It is a slander against God’s character to imagine that He is like that. The law of God does not inhibit; it enables. In our Western cultures we tend to give ‘law’ the impersonal inflexible connotation of the Roman lex. But the Torah of the Old Testament is not an abstract code. It is the personal loving instruction of our omniscient Father, telling His children how to live their lives for maximum fulfillment. From the beginning of God’s revelation the law of love was taught, because the law was an expression of the character and will of its giver, who is love. The Levitical Torah enjoined god’s people to ‘lover you neighbor as yourself.’ When John speaks of an old command, which you have had since the beginning, he is probably meaning that this same instruction was among the first that they were given at the start of their Christian lives, and that we never outgrow it.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.