Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Opening Hymn: 234 “The God of Abraham Praise”
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 103:11-13
Hymn of Preparation: 243 “How Firm a Foundation”
Old Covenant Reading: Proverbs 19:14-17
New Covenant Reading: 1 John 3:11-18
Sermon: In Deed and In Truth
Hymn of Response: Psalm 104A stanzas 8-11 “Bless the LORD, My Soul”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: Psalm 42B “As Pants the Deer for Flowing Streams”
OT: Zechariah 14:16-21
NT: Ephesians 4:17-24
Out with the Old, Putting on the New
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 27
Q. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
Monday (3/9) Read and discuss 1 John 3:11-18. Saint Augustine writes:
How does love begin, my friends? Keep listening. You’ve heard what its perfection is. The Lord has put its end and measure before us in the gospel: “Greater love no one has,” He says, “than that he lay down his life for his friends.” It’s the perfection of love that He shows us in the gospel and commends to us here. Bu you question yourselves: “When can we have such love?” Don’t despair of yourselves too quickly! Perhaps it’s been born but isn’t perfect yet. Cherish it so that it isn’t stifled. “But,” you way to me, “how am I to know? We know how love is perfected; let us hear how it begins.”
John goes on to tall you. “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother suffering hunger and closes his heart against him, how can the love of God abide in him?” See where love begins. If you’re not yet capable of dying for your sister or brother, be capable even now of giving him some of your goods. Let love stir your heart to action now, not to do what you do for display, but out of an inner richness of compassion, thinking only of your fellow human being who is in need. If you can’t give what you have to spare to your sister or brother, are you able to lay down your life for anyone.
Read or sing Hymn 234 “The God of Abraham Praise” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters in China as they continue to deal both with the Corona virus outbreak and also the economic hardships that have come from shutting down so many businesses.
Tuesday (3/10) Read and discuss 1 John 3:4-10. It is important that we are clear about the order of events. Jesus comes in order to take away our sins. We receive new life by being born of the Spirit and united with Christ. Then, out of gratitude for what Christ has done – we pursue the practice of righteousness and seek to have God’s will done in our lives. Overcoming lawlessness is NOT how we become accepted by God. It is our grateful response to already having been accepted in His Son. Thankfully, God breaks the power of cancelled sin – so that the future reality of when we will be conformed perfectly into the likeness of Christ breaks into the present. So that, even now, we say “Let God be accounted as true, though this requires that every man be accounted to be a liar.” Even now, we have begun to seek that His will would be done on earth even as it is in heaven. And in the many places where we fall short, instead of insisting that we will not allow anyone – not even Almighty God to rule over us – we confess our sins, knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness. Sing or Read Hymn 243 “How Firm a Foundation” Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus came to take away sins and to destroy the works of the Devil.
Wednesday (3/11) Read and discuss Proverbs 19:14-17. Commenting on verse 17, Andrew Steinmann writes:
This verse promises God’s reward for those who are gracious and kind to the poor. Similar is the divine counsel of the Lord Jesus in Luke 14:12-14. The promise that God Himself will “repay” is eschatological, pointing to the resurrection on the Last Day, when the children of God shall receive the reward earned for them by the merits of Christ alone. This promise invites us to trust Yahweh, who provides for all our needs, so that we are moved to share our bounty with others, even if they will never be able to repay us in this life.
The use of one’s wealth to aid others is a way of keeping the Seventh Commandment, which not only forbids taking the property of others, but also enjoins all of us to use our own property for the good of others.
Sing or Read Psalm 104A stanzas 8-11 “Bless the LORD, My Soul” Prayer: Ask the LORD to grant you greater confidence in His provision so that you will become more generous with the resources that He has poured into your hands.
Thursday (3/12) Read and discuss Zechariah 14:16-21. It is sometimes said that holiness means being set apart. This is only partially correct. If you were to take a penny out of a stack of change and place it two feet away on the table – it would not suddenly be described as “holy” even though it had been set apart. Biblically speaking, to be holy is to be set apart as belonging to God. This why Christians are called “saints” throughout the epistles of the New Testament. Being a saint does not have to do with living an unusually pure life. Christians are saints because we have been set apart as belonging to God. When we consider the ending of Zechariah we are confronted with this startling fact: even the bells on the horses will bear the inscription “Holy to the LORD”. The idea being conveyed by such an insignificant object bearing this inscription is that everything will be dedicated to the LORD in that day. Those of us who are looking in faith for this day ought to pay attention to the very last sentence in the book: “And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.” From the time of Zechariah, to the time of Christ, to our own day, the church has been plagued by those wish to make merchandise of religion. In the broader evangelical world, some religious entrepreneurs have become celebrities (in some cases they have become rather affluent celebrities). We must resist our natural inclination to be impressed by size or dramatic growth and ask whether or not a “ministry” is actually functioning for the glory of God. Critically, we must start by asking this question about ourselves. Prayer: Pray for the purity and for the Reformation of the Church in New England.
Friday (3/13) Read and discuss Ephesians 4:17-24. Clinton Arnold writes:
Our new identity in Christ necessitates a change in our thinking and in our behavior. The new identity is not only the basis for change, it requires us to change. The new self is created like God and is thus righteous and holy. To live like unbelievers in unrighteousness and impurity is utterly inconsistent with who we now are in Christ.
Therefore, Paul reminds his readers that from the beginning (when they received Christ and the apostolic tradition about Him), they were instructed to take off the old self and put on the new self. Because they are united with Christ in His death and resurrection, this change of identities has already taken place. They have already been transformed. Thus, Paul can tell the Colossians that they have already taken off the old self and put on the new (Col 3:10). Yet here Paul tells them that this is something that they must yet do. They must still take off the old self, put on the new, and be renewed in their minds. This reflects the classic tension between the indicative and imperative in Paul’s writings, the “already” and the “not yet.” Paul wants his readers to “become what you are,” that is, to live in accordance with their new identity.
Read or sing Psalm 42B “As Pants the Deer for Flowing Streams” Prayer: Please lift up our brothers and sisters at Pleasant Mountain Presbyterian Church in Bridgton, Maine as they become a particular church in the OPC this evening and as they install Stephen Michaud to be their organizing pastor.
Saturday (3/14) Read and discuss 1 John 3:11-18. David Jackman writes:
It is the nature of God’s love to give, just as it is the nature of the sun to shine. And [such giving Christian] love is the mark of a faith that is real. It touches our bank accounts and our diaries. It governs the stewardship of our time and talents, our energy, and our possessions. Love ‘always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails!’
What we need to grasp is that love like this is always available from Christ, who is its only source. We do not have to look into our poverty-stricken selves to generate a love like that. The more we are open to receive it, the more Christ’s love will flood into our lives and overflow to others.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.