Call to Worship: Psalm 105:1-3
Opening Hymn: Psalm 148B “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah”
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: Isaiah 44:21-23
Hymn of Preparation: 238 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 73:1-28
New Covenant Reading: 1 John 2:29-3:3
Sermon: Purified through Hope
Hymn of Response: 462 “Behold the Amazing Gift of Love”
Confession of Faith: Apostles Creed (p. 851)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 343 “What Wondrous Love is This”
OT: Psalm 70:1-5
NT: Philippians 4:4-9
Urgent Prayer to a Timely God
Singing Psalm 70
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 25
Q. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.
Monday (2/24) Read and discuss 1 John 2:29-3:3. Karen Jobes writes:
What a wonder it is that God Himself is the origin of a person’s eternal, spiritual life just as physical life originates with a human father. Saying the sinner’s prayer or joining the church doesn’t do justice to the wonder of the reality such acts reflect, even though confession and church membership are good in themselves. The necessity of being born again to the Father shows the depths of sins destruction. Nothing less than a new birth can restore the life that was lost to sin. Nothing less than a new life can remedy the brokenness of a person’s relationship with God and destroy the works of the devil – both his work in Eden and in the ongoing effect of the evil that Satan has unleashed in the world.
The reconciliation that God offers through new birth comes from His love. Such love, John says, took wretched, sinful, rebellious, ungrateful people and gave to them the new identity of being a child of God, with all the wonders that entails. Being born of God is as irreversible as having been born physically; the concept of the new birth suggests that once one has been born of the Father, it is a permanent and eternal relationship that forms the firm foundation of the assurance of eternal life. As Lieu observes, the life that issues from the new birth cannot be lost or abrogated.
Read or sing Psalm 148B “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” Prayer: Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His mercies endure forever!
Tuesday (2/25) Read and discuss 1 John 2:18-28. What do you think of when you hear that term “Antichrist?” What does the word “antichrist” conjure up in your imaginations? Many of us instinctively think of someone like Hitler or Stalin. And that isn’t entirely wrong. “Anti” means instead of or against – and clearly both Hitler and Stalin were opposing Jesus Christ – and, in some sense, setting themselves up as alternatives to Jesus Christ – as secular messiah figures. Who else? Just last week someone told me she thought that President Trump was the antichrist – which probably shows how overly obsessed we have become with our contemporary politics. But do you understand what this woman was doing by suggesting that President Trump might be the antichrist? She was identifying “antichrist” with a powerful figure that she really, really disliked. What I want you to see is that this is the very opposite of the way that John is presenting the antichrists. And, keep in mind, John is the only person in the bible who actually uses the term antichrist in any of his writings. John’s concern isn’t that the antichrist’s he is writing about are going to persecute the church. John’s concern is that these antichrists are really attractive and that they are going to lead members of the church astray into following them. Rather than thinking of antichrist figures as being conspicuously and repulsively evil – we ought to be thinking of them as attractive men and women whom we would be tempted to follow. Let me bring that up to our own day: An antichrist might be wearing a beautiful robe, standing in a pulpit, and preaching with a stained glass baritone voice about all the ways in which we can be better people – while denying the substitutionary atonement or that Jesus rose bodily from the dead. This is critical to grasp. For the chief threat to you faithfully following Jesus isn’t persecution from conspicuously evil men, it is being attracted by those who seem sophisticated, successful, and really nice – even while they tell you a lie. Sing or Read Hymn 238 “LORD, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Jaffrey Presbyterian Church in Jaffrey, NH.
Wednesday (2/26) Read and discuss Psalm 73:1-28. Alec Motyer writes:
Psalm 73 contains one of the most rhapsodic and uplifting passages in the whole Psalter, and, indeed, there is hardly need for anything beyond letting their rhythms and sentiments sink into our souls. But, hoping to help and not hinder this process, look at some of the detail of these verses. They are the heart of the message of the psalms. Asaph is weight things in the balance: what can he reckon in his favor as compared with the ‘well-being’ of the ungodly which so troubled him. There are, indeed, things which we find in our heavenly ‘balance sheet’ – and which we should constantly prize. First and foremost is peace with God (23a), that we are constantly accepted, welcomed, retained in His presence. ‘Peace with God,’ the firstfruits of Calvary, our unchanging inheritance in Jesus. … Then there is security in His keeping – He who has gripped us by our hands. Thirdly, there is the problem of ‘the future all unknown.’ To us who cannot foresee what the end of this morning will bring, there is the comfort that everything that happens does so in conformity to and by direction of His ‘counsel’ (24a). What is impenetrable to us (the future) is an already drawn map lying before Him. We can never over-exalt the sovereignty of God: He is truly God – the God in charge. And we need to remind ourselves that this is even especially so when things turn out either other than we expect or could wish. He is always on our side; always implementing His counsel. All this is a store of pure gold entered in our account; yet the finest gold is yet to come.
Sing or Read Hymn 462 “Behold the Amazing Gift of Love” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has made you part of His Kingdom of Priests – and ask that you would be faithful in that role.
Thursday (2/27) Read and discuss Philippians 4:4-9. In light of what Christ has done for us, how then should we think? Because believing the right things is so important, we naturally want to emphasize that we should think in such a way as to embrace the truth and to shun errors and lies. That is where Paul begins but it is not where he ends. Consider what you think about in a typical day and compare that to what Paul calls us to meditate on: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If we take this seriously we will realize that there are many things which are true that we should avoid filling our minds with. A significant portion of the modern news industry is designed to entice us to watch/see commercials for things we don’t need by telling us true but often degrading stories that offer nothing of value to our lives. This is frequently the case with social media as well. The problem is that we become what we think about. If we fill our minds with defiling and dishonorable images we will fail to become the type of people who lift others up. Paul is not calling Christians to stick our heads in the sand. Because we have glimpsed the holiness of God, Christians should be more aware of the wretchedness of a fallen world than anyone else. Yet, it is one thing to recognize filth it is another thing altogether to roll around in it. Here is the hard part: Modern American culture promotes filling your mind with things that are worthy of shame. We cannot respond rightly to Paul’s admonition unless we do so self-consciously. Take a few minutes to think about the shows you watch, the news and web pages you regularly read, and the music you listen to. Then compare what you are now filling your mind with to what God wants you to fill your mind with. If you need to make some changes (we all do!) – why not start today? Prayer: Ask the LORD to make your heart good soil for His word – that the word of God would produce a vast crop of good fruit in your life.
Friday (2/28) Read and discuss Psalm 70:1-5. James Mays writes:
Psalm 70 is an individual prayer for help. It is composed almost entirely of petitions. The psalm begins with vocatives and imperatives asking for the LORD’s help. Then petitions for the failure and disgrace of enemies are balanced by pleas on behalf of those who seek God. The prayer concludes with a twofold declaration of dependence on the LORD combined with imperatives asking for help. The motifs of “haste” and “help for me” form an inclusion around the whole. “I am poor and needy” is a declaration of dependence on the LORD, a confession that one has no resources to cope with the demands made by trouble. It it is a theological, not an economic statement. All the petitions in the prayer are the expressions of the confessed neediness.
Read or sing Hymn 343 “What Wondrous Love is This” Prayer: Humble yourself before the LORD and acknowledge that He is your only hope.
Saturday (2/29) Read and discuss 1 John 2:29-3:3. David Jackman writes:
Rightly to understand this concept of adoption, we have to remember that the choice lay entirely with the Father and was motivated only by His nature of love. Adoption is a legal action by which a person takes into his family a child who is not his own, who has no rights within that family, in order to give that child all the privileges of his own children. In Roman law, as in ours, an adopted child was entitled to all the rights and privileges of a natural-born child. What might motivate someone to do that, potentially at considerable cost to himself? Perhaps there might be something attractive about the child, or there might be an old friendship with his or her parents, who have died. But the basic motivation would be pity, compassion, love. Love gives. So it is with God, who ‘sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Gal 4:4-5).’ In our case there was nothing attractive or even deserving in us to draw out that love, but God chose to love us, because He is love.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.