27-Sep-15 Orders of Worship for Lord's Day Services

The Lord’s Day, September 27, 2015
Morning Service (9:30a.m.)
(before worship) prayer for God’s help
Psalm 30:1-5, Prayer
Song: #626 O Lord, by Grace Delivered
Deuteronomy 18:1-8, Prayer
Song: #692 To You, O Lord, I Fly
Philippians 1:12-14, Prayer
Song: #368 The Ends of All the Earth Shall Hear
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service (6 p.m.)
(before worship) Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 79-81 (p875) and prayer for God’s help
Hebrews 2:16, Prayer
Song: (handout) O Thank the Lord
Luke 2:1-21, Prayer
Song: #211 God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Zephaniah 2, Prayer
Song: #314 O Wherefore Do the Nations Rage
The Lord’s Supper

Dismissal by God’s Blessing

Midweek Meetings this week

Wednesday, Sep 9., 7p.m. PIONEER HOME PRAYER MEETING. At the Pioneer Home in Orange City (118 Florida Ave NW), Harvest will be leading the residents in a brief time of singing, teaching, and praying. The formal meeting concludes at 7:30p.m., but afterward many of the residents stay to have fellowship and more personal prayer times with those of us who have come. The entire congregation is encouraged to attend.

Thursday, Sep 10., 7p.m., WEEKLY PRAYER MEETING. At Harvest's building, we gather primarily for prayer, using Bible study to help our minds and hearts transition from the other events of the week. Last time, we concluded the book of Ezra, and with the Lord's help, we will begin studying Nehemiah this Thursday. After Bible study, we have a brief time of sharing requests, and then we have an open time during which any of us pray, in no particular order. One favorite blessing is agreeing with the youngest members of the congregation as they lift their voices to the Lord on behalf of others.

Hints for Parents from Philippians 1:4

In Philippians 1:4 yesterday, we considered a verse in which it is plainly evident that Paul, following Christ, had regular, planned times of prayer in his life. It is instructive that he does not tell us here--or even in 2Cor 12:8 to which we referred--whether these were weekly times, or daily times, or multiple times daily. In the latter text, it could even be that he sprinkled three specific moments, in every planned prayer time, during which to repeat that particular request. Each of our lives are different. Some of us are even called to the praying office of Elder and must conclude that we are to have more times of prayer and longer times of prayer in our plan. But each of us should have some set routine for prayer.

We also noted that during the planned time of prayer the apostle, as our example, had an order by which he would be sure to remember all of the different people and requests that he had committed to pray for.

Like all habits, this one is best established as early as possible.

If your child can make requests of you, your child can make requests of God. Before your child is verbal enough to put together sentences in asking you for things, you should already establish in his or her routine times every week, and probably a time or times every day in which you pray with him. And as soon as your child begins to demonstrate ability, you should lead him in forming his own prayers. I recommend that you establish with him at least the habit of beginning and ending each day in prayer, and also carving out another regular time on the Lord's Days--perhaps an extended time before worship in the morning, or after worship in the evening, or in between services in the afternoon... or all three! Who knows but God may bless to you the exercise of helping your child establish the habit, using it to form or reform your own habits.

If your child can write, your child can make a prayer list. Instruct him to do so. Obtain for him the necessary materials. Help him write it out. It need not be long at first. Review it with him from time to time, perhaps on the Lord's Days. As one who is laying a foundation for a lifetime of your child's following this Bible precept, make a start of it right away, and be deliberate and insistent that it be solid and real--let it not be childish, though it is right and good for it to be childlike.

Lead your child in encouraging others. Nudge him to speak or write, from time to time, to those for whom he is praying. Help him, like the apostle, to cheer the spirits of God's people by relating to one and another of them that he is remembering them with joy.

Peace with God! (and war with the flesh, the world, and the devil)

"Having feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."

As we heard these words from Ephesians 6:16 yesterday, we considered first what this shoe-preparation is for: marching. That is to say that one part of the command to "withstand in the evil day" and "having done all, stand" is pursuit. Biblical defense includes biblical offense. The first third of Romans 8 doesn't merely describe resisting sin by not doing it; it describes killing remaining sinfulness.

At this point, we proceeded to consider where our peace with God comes from. Because God is at war with all that is wicked, we can only have peace with God if He has justly declared us to be righteous, as we had heard from v15 last week (cf. Rom 3:21-26). And Rom 5:1 proceeds to say that if we have been declared righteous ("justified"), then instead of having God as our sure enemy, we have Him now as our sure friend--so sure that we can rejoice already in the prospect of seeing His glory.

This led us to marvel at what a wonderful thing it is to have peace with God--that we are thus enabled to rejoice even in tribulations, since Jesus with whom we will inherit is so united to us in alliance that He and we jointly suffer, and we and He will be jointly glorified. This is so certain that the number of those whom He foreknew is exactly the same as the number of those who are glorified with Him--an event that Rom 8:30 can use past tense to describe its certainty, even though it had not yet occurred for the vast majority of believers.

The greatest trial, the final judgment, will feature the Prosecutor declaring us righteous, and the sentencing Judge advocating on our behalf. And so whether it is the wicked slaughtering Christians all day long or demonic spiritual powers (n.b. the connection to Eph 6), or literally any other thing, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus!

But peace with God does not mean either internal quiet nor external quiet. Rather, peace with God means war with everything against which God is at war! We noted that in the case of sin, it is precisely because we "agree with the law that it is good" (Rom 7:16) and "delight in the law in our inner man" (Rom 7:22) that we find ourselves in that great internal conflict of Rom 7:15-25. So, believers are not those who have come to terms or some equilibrium with their remaining sin. Rather, those who have peace with God, must necessarily experience an internal battle that is all-out war. How will we win? Why, by that great ally with whom we have this wonderful peace, having been justified through faith in Christ (v25).

On a second front, the world is at war with us just because it is at war with God. Why are Christians led as sheep to the slaughter (Rom 8:36b)? It is precisely for God's sake that they are killed all day long (8:36a)! They are not able to silence their God-given consciences, and they seek to silence any who will not approve of them.

Finally, on a third front, there are spiritual forces who are at war with God, and not being able to attack Him directly they attack instead His church (Eph 6:12, cf. Rom 8:38, Rev 12:13-17). If we have peace with God, then Satan is at war against us. Lord-willing, this particular battle, the barrage of "all the flaming arrows of the wicked one," will occupy much of our sermon next Lord's Day morning.

Time did not allow us to go on and consider Philippians 4:7 and how the peace of God acts like a knight, stationed at our heart, and permitting no discouragement or dismay to pass; or, Colossians 3:15, in which the peace of God sits on the throne of our hearts as arbiter--deciding how we will consider and respond to every thought that crosses our mind. Lord-willing, we will soon be in these books and come to these verses in their own right.

This Lord's Day morning, we concluded by noting that although nothing can be better than having peace with God (or worse than being His enemy!), this peace really is quite different from the tranquil, serene internal and external circumstances that we sometimes have an illusion of attaining to. The picture of the man, woman, boy, or girl that has peace with God is not twittering birds, fluttering butterflies, and waves slowly lapping the lake-shore. If it were put into a picture, peace with God would look far more like battle--battle that rages within, and also against us from the world and from the devil.

What to Make of the Latest Attack

I mentioned a couple of articles by David Murray yesterday. They make the point first, that [the "gay marriage" issue is about silencing their own consciences (which it can never do)] and then, that [it is also about silencing the true Christians (which it can also never do)]

Obviously, there is much more to say, such as

  • The current circumstances are a result of Christians accepting anything other than the written law of God in the Bible as a basis for the laws of the state
  • When the church compromises on the doctrine of creation, we can and should expect God to "give us up" to twisted and dysfunctional thinking that gives into and approves of the sins of sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; whispering gossip, backbiting gossip, hating God, violence, pride, boasting, inventing of evil things, disobedience to parents,  lack of discernment, untrustworthiness, lovelessness, unforgivingness, mercilessness... and especially homosexuality
  • Having this sin and the approval of it take over public discourse and policy is a display of God's wrath against the nation
  • If the nation does not now repent, it must expect further and more forceful destruction from the wrath of God
  • Having this sin and the approval of it go barely mentioned and hardly contested by the churches is a display of God's wrath against the churches
  • If the churches do not now repent, they must expect further and more final abandonment in the wrath of God
  • It is a logical and spiritual insanity for the churches to expect repentance from the nation without first repenting of its own abandonment of the Scriptures on the very issues that have led us to this point
  • The mechanism (SCOTUS) by which this most recent step has occurred, and the mechanism (executive order; i.e. royal decree) by which other recent steps have occurred, are a demonstration that the United States of America is no longer a constitutionally governed representative republic
  • We have gone from a nation that existed in large part to foster the free exercise of Christianity to a nation that will permit anything except the free exercise of Christianity
  • We have reached such a state of intellectual and convictional flimsiness in this nation that a small minority can now browbeat the majority into taking an exact opposite position in under a decade just by speaking loudly enough, often enough, angrily enough, and threateningly enough
  • For a hundred years, we have proceeded from establishing secular humanism as the national religion, to instituting theft by politicians as a means of consolidating voting constituencies, to the promotion and preservation of heterosexual immorality, to the protection and sponsorship of murdering infants, to a policy of multi-international warfare for political and financial gain, to this bold-faced raised-fisted latest development. This is all cause to marvel greatly both at the great patience of the Living God, and at how great now must be His accumulated wrath for all of this
All of these things are true, and worth an entire full-length article, in the writing of which other issues are likely to be raised

The Day That God Didn't Deliver

On the Lord's Day morning, we continued to hear from Psalm 22:11-20 about our Lord's suffering and death for all who would believe in Him.

This portion specifically focuses upon the wicked ones who surrounded our Lord like raging bulls (v12), roaring lions (v13), and ravenous dogs (v20). This is one of the most difficult situations for believers: to be surrounded by those who seek to devour them--not out in the world but specifically among the people of God. It was, amazingly, the church of God on earth at the time that formed this murderous band who surrounded Christ.

And it is more amazing still to think about the response to the psalmist's cry, "Deliver!" For every believer, this is the great comfort: though all around us be as bulls and lions and dogs against us, yet God is with us. Though all seek to destroy us, God will deliver us. Even if He permits our death, He will not waste it, for it is precious in His sight (Ps 116:15), and we will die no more (Lk 20:36), but go to their rest (Rev 14:13), and to the presence of the Lord (2Cor 5:8). 

And though surely for the Lord Jesus many similar things constituted the joy that was set before Him (Heb 12:2), the moment of His death was quite different. For, in that moment, Christ had been made to be sin in the eyes of God (2Cor 5:21), because God was satisfying His wrath upon Christ as a propitiation (Rom 3:25). So, in the moment that our Lord was crying "Deliver!" with Psalm 22, it was not the favor of God but the fury of God that was falling upon Him. It was the one day that God didn't deliver, because it was the day on which God was working our great deliverance.

Because Christ was forsaken, we who are in Christ are always under God's favor, rather than His fury. Even when He disciplines us most severely, it is always in tender compassion. He is ruthless not with us, but with whatever in us would destroy us. It is precisely because Christ bore God's wrath until it was satisfied that we who believe never bear any of it at all. This is precisely why God is always with us when we are surrounded by the wicked.

And God has given us Psalm 22 to sing. To remember what Christ endured, that we will never have to. To remember what Christ endured, so that He can ever sympathize with us. To know that God is always delivering us, even through the greatest of our troubles.And then, when the age of troubles has passed, to sing forever the praise of the Lamb who was slain

The Joy of Christ (Psalm 21)

We hope, by God's help, to begin the next Lord's Day's worship assemblies in Psalm 21. As we prepare to hear this Psalm, we prepare to hear a song and prayer about how very much the king rejoices in God's immense power.

Whenever we notice something in the Bible about the joy of Jesus, our hearts should perk up and stand at attention. For, Jesus came that His joy would be in us, and that this joy in us would be full.

So, looking at Psalm 21, what was it that was thrilling David at this time? What is that in which Christ rejoices perfectly? Hint: the Holy Spirit says it plainly right at the beginning of the Psalm, and again at the end.

"Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power."
Psalm 21:13

Rejoicing in Christ, the King of Our Salvation (Psalm 20)

In the call to worship on the Lord's Day morning, we heard from Psalm 20 the rejoicing of God's people in their king, through whom and for whose sake God was saving them. While this was genuinely true of David, it is perfectly true of Christ as our King in a final, full, and forever sense.

So, let us today rejoice in Christ, knowing that our safety, our stability, our salvation comes not from government or bank accounts or skill sets or assets, but from the LORD our God, Jesus the King!

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God."
Psalm 20:7

21-Jun Worship Plan

The following are the orders of service planned for June 21, when again on the Lord's Day, we hope by God's help to enter heaven and join that glorious worship assembly. Prepare heart and mind accordingly, pray accordingly, live accordingly.

Morning Service (9:30a.m.)
(before worship) prayer for God’s help
Psalm 21, Prayer
Song: (handout) The King in Your Great Strength
Deuteronomy 7:12-26, Prayer
Song: #59 Forever Settled in the Heavens                       
Ephesians 6:10-18, Prayer
Song: #575 Soldiers of Christ, Arise
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service (6 p.m.)
(before worship) Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 37-38 (p872) and prayer for God’s help
Hebrews 1:4, Prayer
Song: #18 You Holy Angels Bright
Mark 13:1-31, Prayer
Song: #316 The Mighty God, the Lord                      
Nahum 3, Prayer
Song: #49 O Lord, Thou Judge of All the Earth
The Lord’s Supper

Dismissal by God’s Blessing

Scripture Texts and Songs for 31-May-2015 Lord's Day worship services

The Lord’s Day, May 31, 2015
Morning Service (9:30a.m.)
(before worship) prayer for God’s help
Psalm 19:1-6, Prayer
Song: (handout) The Spacious Heavens Declare
Deuteronomy 6:10-25, Prayer
Song: #149 Teach Me, O Lord, Your Way of Truth
Ephesians 6:1-3, Prayer
Song: #148 How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service (6 p.m.)
(before worship) Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 34 (p872) and prayer for God’s help
2Corinthians 13:11-14, Prayer
Song: #101 Come, Thou Almighty King
Mark 11:27-12:12, Prayer
Song: (handout) The Glorious Gates of Righteousness                       
Nahum 1:2-8, Prayer
Song: #40 God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength
The Lord’s Supper

Dismissal by God’s Blessing

Providential Programming Alert: Passages Especially Focused upon Children

In God's providence the scheduled morning serial reading (Deut 6:20-25) and morning sermon (Eph 6:1-3) for the 31st of May especially address children.

One of the things that we will hear, of course, is that all of God's Word especially addresses them. But these passages will call them out by name to behold the God who has saved them, who counts them as His own, and who commands them to believe and to obey.

Every week, we should be preparing our little ones for worship by reading the texts to them in advance, and pointing out words and phrases to them. If we have fallen out of that habit, let us take this providence as an opportunity to take the practice back up.

A Revolution of Refreshment for Your Soul: The True Doctrine of the Sabbath

It would be amusing, if it weren't so tragic, that so many people whom I've met (and ministerial candidates, whose examinations I have observed) think that they were the first to come up with whatever objection they have to the continuance of the 4th Commandment in the keeping of the Lord's Day, or whatever justification they have for engaging in discretionary recreational activities on the Day.

There is a [400 year old book] that shows that not only have their objections and justifications been made for many hundreds of years, but they have also been answered for that amount of time as well.

It is thrilling to participate in, or even merely observe, the joy-multiplying revolution in a believer's life as he or she learns to keep the Lord's Day biblically for the first time.

For hundreds of years, one of the best books for helping people enter into this joy had been out of print. Once again, however, [it is newly available].

Chris Coldwell has put forth a monumental effort in providing formatting, analysis, and ancillary materials for a new publication of Nicholas Bownd's The True Doctrine of the Sabbath. Through this Saturday, the 18th, it will be available for $24.95, shipped. If you allow a shipping cost of around $4, that's 30% off of the retail price.

I'd encourage you to purchase a copy [here], and devote a little time each Lord's Day to reading it, asking the Lord to bless it to the end that you would devote all of the time, on every Lord's Day to that for which He Himself has set the day apart.

MERF to Host Informational Talk - Sat, Apr 18, @ISB Community Room in OC

In 1971, three young believers met in Beirut, Lebanon, determined to help the churches of the region to preach the gospel and proclaim the whole counsel of God, applying all of the Bible to all of life. They entered into the work with great zeal, but war in Lebanon, and other events of the 1970s and 1980s presented many organizational and logistical challenges. Finally, the Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) emerged in 1983 and 1984 as the organization that it continues to be today.

Today, MERF is a gospel-centered, evangelistic fellowship of indigenous workers and their supporters from around the world. It is a non-profit and non-political charitable organization serving the indigenous reformed churches in Muslim-majority countries not only in the Middle-East, but around the globe. General Director Victor Atallah is one of those original three who responded to the call of God, and continues to be actively involved, 44 years later. This puts him in direct contact with the life and work of indigenous reformed churches in dozens of countries in the Middle-East, North Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. 

PASTOR ATALLAH WILL BE SPEAKING AT THE IOWA STATE BANK COMMUNITY ROOM IN ORANGE CITY AT 7:00P.M. ON SATURDAY, APRIL 18. The title of his talk is, "What the Media Isn't Telling You about Events in the Middle East." All are invited to come hear:
1. How the churches are doing in Muslim-majority countries all over the world, 
2. What the mindset of the upcoming generation in those places is, and most of all 
3. How King Jesus is ruling and overruling in everything that is happening.

If you are unable to attend the Informational Talk, you are also welcome to hear him preach and teach the next day at Redeemer URC in Orange City (9:30a), Harvest Church PCA in Orange City (11:15a), or First Presbyterian Church in Hospers (6p). For more information, please call 712.395.0983.

The following is a table summary of your opportunities to hear him:

Saturday, April 18, 7p.m. at the ISB Community Room
Informational Talk on "What the Media Isn't Telling You about Events in the Middle-East"

Lord's Day, April 19, Preaching and Teaching
9:30a.m. at Redeemer URC in Orange City
11:15a.m. at Harvest Church (PCA) in Orange City
6:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Hospers (PCA)

Esther 6 Study Questions - Pride Comes before a Fall

Prayer meeting is at 7p.m. at the building tomorrow (Thursday) night! In the Bible Study portion of the evening, we continue to work through the book of Esther.

The following summary from last week may refresh your memory and help you and your family make good use of the subsequent study questions to prepare for our study of chapter 6.

Esther 6
Summary from last time: Esther 5 was a study in contrasts. Esther was willing to sacrifice herself for others (loving), wise in being willing to wait until the opportunity was best rather than jumping at the first chance she got (patience), and content with her current position even when hastily offered to become co-regent with the King (humble). In all of these things, Esther “had the same mind in her that was in Christ Jesus.” By contrast, Haman was murderous (irritated that Mordecai was still breathing), impatient (couldn’t even wait until the current death edict was carried out), and proud (even boasting to his wife about the number of his children!). The main story of chapter 5 is God working all things according to the counsel of His will for the good of His people, but the secondary story is that God is pleased to use and bless the godly (loving, patient, humble) character of His people in the process. So, let us trust Him, and let us also ask Him to produce in us and be pleased to use a character like Christ’s.
Discussion questions for chapter 6
According to the text, why couldn’t the king sleep (v1)? What one sure reason do we know for why he couldn’t sleep? Of who else’s sleeplessness is this always true?
What does the King choose to do instead of sleeping (v1b)? What captures his attention (v2)? What does he not even know, though he cares about it (v3)? Who both cares about this and knows about it, concerning His subjects?
Why might the king have wondered the question in v4? Why was Haman there so early (cf. 5:14)?
What great honor does the king actually give Haman in v6? What does Haman incorrectly assume? What deceives him into such an assumption?
What does Haman suggest in v7-9? Why does he suggest such lofty things? What are others expected to do when they hear the pronouncement?
What King actually does each of these things for a multitude of His subjects? What have they done to earn such great honor? How are the rest of us expected to respond to the King’s announcements about them?
What is so delicious about v10-11? What does Haman decide not to request after all? Why wouldn't he, after he was so intent upon it? When evil men are planning against God’s people, why can we be sure that their plans must ultimately fail?
How does Mordecai respond to having been honored in this way (v12)? Why? Had Haman been injured? How, in fact, had he really been honored? But how does he feel at the end of all of this? Why?
What do Haman’s wife and friends conclude in v13? Why is this superstitious and pagan? What are some places in Scripture from which you might instead have encouraged Haman to repent, and comforted him that it might yet be well with him?
How might v14 have encouraged Haman? Why would this be a false encouragement?