Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King”
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: Micah 7:18-20
Hymn of Preparation: 536 “Jesus Calls Us”
Old Covenant Reading: Psalm 23:1-6
New Covenant Reading: 1 John 2:15-17
Sermon: Love Wisely
Hymn of Response: 465 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 497 “More Love to Thee, O Christ”
OT: Psalm 145:1-21
NT: Ephesians 3:14-21
Strengthened by the LORD
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 22
Q. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.
Monday (2/3) Read and discuss 1 John 2:15-17. Bruce Schuchard writes:
John speaks of the passing away of the world characterized in 2:15-16, the permanent and definitive demise of the world of darkness. How pointless, how fraught with folly, is the love that devotes itself to that which is fleeting. Not knowing or seeing the love of God who by His love makes all things news, the world is waning. Lenski adds:
Its doom is overtaking it. Its glory is fading, its flowers are withering, its promises are failing, its hopes are crumbling. A thousand wrecks like strewn along its path and soon it shall be altogether wreck and ruin. This is also true regarding “the lust for it. What this implies for the lovers of the world John lets us conclude for ourselves. They will be left naked, wretched, shattered, doomed. All their treasures and pleasures will, like water, have slipped through their fingers, their castles will be in ashes, their crowns a curse. Their souls, burnt and blasted by the lusts for the world, will have nothing left but endless remorse and penalty.
Does the siren voice of the world tickle your ears? Hear the word of truth: ‘The world is passing away!’ The bank is breaking, it was never solvent – will you deposit in it? The foundation is tottering, it was never solid but only sham – will you build on it? The mountain is rumbling, quaking, it will never [be] anything but volcanic, ready to blow off its head at any time – will you build your city there?
Therefore, “a wise father,” observes Hilary of Arles, ‘warns his children not to love things which quickly vanish away. This wisdom is the crowning glory of the supreme Maker of all things, and it is well-suited to everyone who is righteous.
Read or sing Hymn 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King” Prayer: Ask the LORD to lead the young people of our congregation to set their eyes on eternal things and to delight in seeking first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.
Tuesday (2/4) Read and discuss 1 John 2:12-14. Why is the forgiveness of sins such a big deal for genuine Christians? One obvious and critical reason is that our sins have separated us from God. Left to ourselves, each and every one of us has sinned enough since we awoke this morning to send us to hell forever – and that is just on the Sabbath day while we were getting ready to come to church. Thanks be to God that the LORD has not left us to ourselves. Through the person and work of Christ you have been made whiter than snow. And notice that John uses the perfect tense. Here, the perfect tense refers to something that has been done with an emphasis on the state which exists because that action has been accomplished: “your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” The NIV translates this perfect tense verb “your sins have been forgiven on account of His name” … but both translations are trying to bring out the same point. We could also bring out the force of what John is writing by saying: “Your sins stand forgiven on account of His name.” Because of who Christ is and what He has done, all of your sins have been decisively forgiven … and you are now and will forever remain in this new state as a forgiven child of God. That’s good news all by itself, but let’s connect the dots. There is a corporate church-family dimension to what John is writing. Remember that there is a group of people who has rocked the community John is writing to by separating themselves off from the Apostolic Church. These people didn’t stop being religious. In fact, they were claiming to have deeply spiritual insights and more dramatic spiritual experiences than those in the Apostolic Church. John has emphatically denounced them as self-deceived individuals who are walking in the darkness. But now John tells the believers who have remained in the Apostolic Church that they are the community of those whose “sins stand forgiven on account of His name.” Sing or Read Hymn 536 “Jesus Calls Us” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in Venezuela as their country continues to be rocked by an economic and political crisis.
Wednesday (2/5) Read and discuss Psalm 23:1-6. D.A. Carson helpfully reminds us that the model by which we understand something largely determines what we see. For example, how do you think about the Church? If you think of the Church as an organization, you will focus on management and programs. If you think of the Church as a family, you will focus on relationships. If you think of the Church as the pillar and foundation of the truth, you will focus on teaching and the proclamation of the Apostolic Gospel. All of these models are valid. We are therefore to see the Church through all of these models (and many others) rather than reducing it down to our favorite model. One obvious question that this raises is what primary metaphor to you use as a model for thinking about God? Frequently, in the Psalms, God is referred to as Creator and King. He is also referred to using abstract language like “Rock” and “Fortress”. In Psalm 23 David selects a metaphor that would have been very personal. He likens God to a Shepherd. Remember that David himself had been a shepherd as a boy and continued to think of his own kingship as a type of shepherding of the people of Israel. As a good shepherd, David cared for and defended the sheep with great courage. As David told Saul before going out to fight against Goliath:
“Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”
With this in mind, perhaps the most striking word in the psalm is “my”. It doesn’t entirely shock us that the Creator of the Universe would be the Shepherd of the whole flock of Israel. What is astonishing is that He personally cares for each one of His sheep. As we confess in the Heidelberg Catechism: “Without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation.” This is a beautiful truth. It is also one that leads all thoughtful readers to ask: Is the LORD my Shepherd the way that He was David’s Shepherd? Sing or Read Hymn 465 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus is your Good Shepherd.
Thursday (2/6) Read and discuss Psalm 145:1-21. Commenting on verses 1 through 3, Ligon Duncan says:
David shows us that praise requires great thoughts of God and great thoughts of God fuel our praise. He begins this way. “I will extol You, My God and King, and bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You and praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.” That vision of God’s greatness leads David to say that He is to be greatly praised. Notice the logic — great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. That means that our praise is tied to our view of who God is. If we believe that God is great, it moves us to great praise, but if our hearts have low views of Him, if we lack appreciation of His greatness, it will lead to a lack of praise and worship. Low views of God lead to low views of sin, weak motivation to service, and empty worship. William Plumer, the commentator that I’ve so often quoted to you in this series, says this. “Nothing has a more pernicious effect on character than low thoughts of God. Unless we have great thoughts of God, our thoughts of sin will be low, our sense of obligation feeble, and our praises dull.” And that’s borne out by what David says here in verse 3. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised.” You will not greatly praise the Lord if you don’t think He’s great.
Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod.
Friday (2/7) Read and discuss Ephesians 3:14-21. James Montgomery Boice writes:
It is God’s ability to do all we can ask or imagine that encourages us to stretch forward spiritually and ask for more. My father-in-law was a banker in New York City, and he frequently passed on to me the kind of jokes bankers tell one another. One was about a loan officer who tried to run a gas station in his retirement years. He had been a successful banker, but failed at running a gas station. Whenever a customer came in and asked for ten gallons of gas, he would respond, “Can you get by with fiver?” Paul tells us that God is not like that. He does not give half of what we ask for (if we ask rightly), but all. Indeed, it is his ability to give all we ask or imagine that encourages us to come with big petitions.
Read or sing Hymn 497 “More Love to Thee, O Christ” Prayer: Ask that the LORD would teach you to imitate His generosity.
Saturday (2/8) Read and discuss 1 John 2:15-17. David Jackman writes:
In verse 16 John defines more clearly for us what he means by the things that are in the world. It is obvious that he is not thinking about ‘things’ in themselves, such as money or possessions, which are morally neutral. Rather he is talking about our personal attitudes towards these things. The ‘worldly’ characteristics of which the verse speaks are in fact reactions going on inside us, as we contemplate the environment outside. That is very true to Scripture’s teaching concerning the fundamental roots of mankind’s problems. You could put a human being in the most perfect, favorable, and natural environment and he will spoil and defile it. The reason is not because of deficiencies in the environment but because of what is going on inside of him. As the Lord Jesus put it, ‘What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.’ Small wonder that Mark Twain said that man is the only animal with the capacity to blush, and the only one that needs to! It is important that we grasp this perspective, since Christians have often been content to define ‘worldliness’ as consisting primarily in the things that people do or the places they visit. But John is concerned to show us that the world affects us much more deeply than that. The motives and attitudes of our minds and wills are what ultimately dictate our actions. Our affections are set either on this world or on God. It is impossible to love them both.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.