Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”
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: John 3:16-17
Hymn of Preparation: 520 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”
Old Covenant Reading: Deuteronomy 6:20-25
New Covenant Reading: 1 John 3:4-10
Sermon: Good Soil, Good Fruit
Hymn of Response: Psalm 23A “The LORD’s My Shepherd”
Confession of Faith: Nicene Creed (p. 852)
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 494 “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts”
OT: Psalm 68:1-18
NT: Ephesians 4:7-16
The Church as Orchestra
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 26
Q. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.
Monday (3/2) Read and discuss 1 John 3:4-10. David Jackman writes:
The first coming of Jesus is seen by John to be God’s remedy for the problem of human sin (verse 5), by taking our sins away. John, the apostle, learned that first from John the Baptist, who proclaimed Christ as God’s Lamb. Jesus taught the same truth by proclaiming Himself as the Good Shepherd who would lay down His life for the sheep. Only in its death could the lamb become a sacrifice for sin, though it had to be spotless in order to be acceptable to God. In the same way, John reminds us of the sinless perfection of Christ, but sees that as a necessary element in His atoning death. Only someone who was sinless in Himself could atone for the sins of others. And here was the difference between Christ, God’s Lamb, and all the other sacrifices brought throughout the centuries of Israel’s history. Their bodies had to be without blemish as they became the substitute for the sinner, but none of those animal sacrifices could ever bring moral perfection to the altar, by definition. The glory of Christ is that He was able to bring a sinless human will and to offer that in the place of our rebellious wills, as His blood flowed for our sins at Calvary. That is why the cross is at the heart of the Christian message. It is God’s answer to man’s deepest need. God longs to bring men and women back into His family, but sin is inconsistent with sonship. So God comes in the person of Jesus, the Son, to uphold His own moral law, through His life and eventually at the expense of His own life, in order to take away our sins and make forgiveness a reality.
Read or sing Hymn 275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters in China who are suffering under an increasingly repressive regime and who are wrestling with much of their country being shut down due to the Corona virus.
Tuesday (3/3) Read and discuss 1 John 2:29-3:3. Verse 3 reads:
And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.
Rather than being pushed, we will be drawn into complete sanctification and glorification by the beauty and glory of who Jesus is. And as we contemplate and trust the LORD for these promises – we press on towards holiness in this present life. “Purifies himself” is a perfectly good translation, but I want you to see that John isn’t merely saying: “Behave well!” or “be good!” John is talking about something far more personal than that. The word translated “purify” is from the same root as the words “holy,” “saints,” and “sanctification.” What does it mean to be holy? On the one hand, to be holy is to be set apart as belonging to God in a special way. Think about a golden pot being dedicated to the Temple in the Old Testament. When it moved from being common to being “holy” nothing actually changed in the material makeup of the pot. What changed is that it had been separated for a special sacred purpose at the place where the LORD put His name and where He sacramentally met with His people. This is also true with us. At the very moment when you are first born again you are rightly called a saint – not because your character has been completely transformed so that you no longer sin – but because you have been set apart as belonging to God in a special way. You are now truly a child of the Living God. So, the translation “purify” really means – “live consistently with the reality that you have been set aside as a child of God and with the sure knowledge that one day you will be just like Jesus.” Or, to put that in a way that might be easier to remember: “Everything you think and do this week should fit with the tagline: ‘… because God loves me.’” Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing to have happen this week? For someone to be so puzzled by your kindness, your generosity, and your integrity that they would ask you: “Why are you acting like that?” And you could simply reply: “Because God loves me.” Sing or Read Hymn 520 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” Prayer: Ask the LORD to grant you a clearer vision of the majesty and beauty of Jesus.
Wednesday (3/4) Read and discuss Deuteronomy 6:20-25. Eugene Merrill writes:
It is crucial with the passing of time that descendants of people who have participated in or witnessed events that have been fundamental to their origin and that explain their unique destiny should be continually reminded of those events lest they lose their sense of history and meaning. This is all the more true of ancient Israel, for no other people had been called to such a significant mission, one that enveloped within it the very salvation of humankind. Israel must therefore recall its history and pass along its facts and values to generations yet to come. The way this was to be done was through the recitation of God’s saving deeds in the past, a “sacred narrative” underlying the more formal and legal embodiment in the covenant texts.
When children ask about the meaning of the covenant, then, the answer will be provided in story form. It will being with slavery in Egypt and then will rehearse the exodus, an act of redemption. The narrative will continue by describing the contest for sovereignty between the LORD and Pharaoh, one displaying the signs and wonders of the ten plagues. Finally, it will speak of the land of promise, the place to which the redeemed of the LOED would move in fulfillment of the promise to the fathers. As Moses put it, “He brought us out … to bring us in,” a remarkably clear and concise summary of the narrative.
Sing or Read Psalm 23A “The LORD’s My Shepherd” Prayer: Give thanks that the LORD has not only called you out of the world, but that He is going to prepare a room for you in His Father’s house – that where He is, you will be with Him forever.
Thursday (3/5) Read and discuss Psalm 68:1-18. James Mays writes:
Psalm 68 begins with the invocation of God as the divine warrior whose victory established his reign in the world and whose strength is the salvation of His people. The victory and the reign of the divine warrior are its underlying theme. In this and other respects the psalm is similar to Exodus 15, the great song that praises the LORD for the deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh’s army. That song focuses on the battle at the Red Sea as the victory that led to God’s establishment of His people and His sanctuary “on the mountain of His own possession.” Psalm 68 focuses on the march from Sinai through the wilderness and the battles with the nations who opposed the progress of God and Israel to the sanctuary that represents God’s rule over Israel and the kingdoms of the world.
Though its theme is certain, the analysis and the interpretation are particularly difficult. It has an unusual density of uncertain texts, rare words, allusive language, and shifting styles. Remarks on the problems the psalm poses for translators and exegetes appear like a litany in their work. A large part of the psalm seems to belong to the earliest poetry in the Psalter. Its present form may be the result of a process of compilation and expansion. The power and the effect of the song are nevertheless compelling. Whatever its uncertainties, to read it or to hear it read is to experience something of the awesome, wonderful majesty of the warrior God who saves His people and brings in His kingdom.
Prayer: Ask the LORD to send visitors to our congregation who would be blessed by uniting with our church family.
Friday (3/6) Read and discuss Ephesians 4:7-16. Clint Arnold writes:
Every individual believer is bestowed with grace from Christ and is called [to use their gifts in Christian service]. This passage begins and ends with an emphasis on the special ability given to each individual member of the body to serve others. In fact, the responsibility of the gifted leaders is to equip the various members of the body of Christ to minister to one another. The mark of a healthy church is one in which every member is aware of the grace of God upon their lives and is actively ministering.
Although Paul does not use the word “priest” in this passage to characterize every believer, the concept is abundantly present. This passage contributes significantly to the concept of the “priesthood of all believers.” This is a particularly important doctrine to affirm and teach when there is an increasing trend toward a consumer mentality by churchgoers. The body of Christ is not a place to sit and soak, but to serve. It is important to help believers realize that they have all been called into full-time Christian [service]. Giftings may be different, roles may vary, but being a Christian means being a [servant].
Read or sing Hymn 494 “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts” Prayer: Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Amoskeag Presbyterian Church in Manchester, NH.
Saturday (3/7) Read and discuss 1 John 3:4-10. John makes clear that all of us will continue to sin in this life. Yet, he also says that it is not possible for those who have been born of God to continue to sin. How are we to fit these two truths together in our thinking? Karen Jobes writes:
The sin that a born-again child of God is not able to commit is anomia., that radical autonomy that rejects God’s authority to define how people are to live. Those truly born of God will not deny their sin or reject God’s authority to name it, but will confess their sin and be cleansed by Christ’s blood. In this way the sin of the believer is different from even the same sinful acts that unbelievers commit. But because every sin expresses an implicit rejection of God, John exhorts God’s children not to sin but to let the nature of their Father shine through their words and deeds.
Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.