Sermons, Lectures, and Teachings from Parish Presbyterian Church PCA, in Franklin, TN. Pastor Dr. George Grant
Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Key Words: Blessed, Delight, Law, Tree, Chaff, Wicked, Way Keystone Verse: The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Psalm 1:6).
Jude 1:4-25 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. 17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Key Words: Remind, Destroy, Defile, Reject, Blaspheme, Presume, Remember, Mercy Keystone Verse: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)
Jude 1:1-4 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Key Words: Beloved, Contend, Faith, Once, Grace Keystone Verse: I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3b)
Haggai 2:20-23 20 The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, 22 and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.” Key Words: Word, Shake, Overthrow, Destroy, Signet, Chosen Keystone Verse: I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:23)
Haggai 2:10-19 10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet,11 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: 12 ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?'” The priests answered and said, “No.” 13 Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.”14 Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before Me, declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. 15 Now then, consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the Lord, 16 how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty. 17 I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to Me, declares the Lord. 18 Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider: 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.” Key Words: Priests, Law, Clean, Unclean, Work, Consider Keystone Verse: From this day on I will bless you. (Haggai 2:19)
Haggai 2:1-9 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.'” Key Words: Glory, Nothing, Strong, Work, Covenant, Shake, Nations, Latter, Peace Keystone Verse: The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace. (Haggai 2:9)
Haggai 1:12-15 12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord's message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” 14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king. Key Words: Obeyed, Voice, Stirred, Spirit, Remnant, Worked Keystone Verse: I am with you, declares the Lord. (Haggai 1:13)
In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of My house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” Key Words: Hosts, Time, House, Houses, Consider, Glorified, Withheld Keystone Verse: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:7)
10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. Key Words: Father, Useless, Useful, Heart, Consent, Why, Slave, Partner, Repay Keystone Verse: This perhaps is why… (Philemon 1:15)
1 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers,5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. 8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus. Key Words: Love, Faith, Effective, Joy, Comfort Keystone Verse: For, love's sake I prefer to appeal to you. (Philemon 1:9)
11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Key Words: Rejoice, Comfort, Love, Peace, Greet, Grace, Fellowship Keystone Verse: The God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them— 3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you.4 For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but in dealing with you we will live with Him by the power of God. 5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. Key Words: Warn, Charge, Test, Weak, Strong, Power, Examine, Restoration Keystone Verse: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5)
I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong! 14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps? 19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. Key Words: Upbuilding, Fool, Apostles, Burden, Souls, Fear Keystone Verse: Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. (2 Corinthians 12:19)
I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Key Words: Boast, Visions, Revelations, Thorn, Weak, Strong Keystone Verse: My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands. Key Words: Fool, Boast, Confidence, Weak Keystone Verse: If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:30)
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. 7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. Key Words: Pure, Sincere, Betrothed, Deceive, Disguise, Satan Keystone Verse: But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away! 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 7 Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. 8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. 9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. 12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. Key Words: Flesh, Power, Walk, War, Captive, Obey, Boast, Commend Keystone Verse: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift. Key Words: Sow, Reap, Cheerful, Grace, Generous, Thanksgiving, Inexpressible Keystone Verse: God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. Key Words: Boast, Zeal, Arrange, Willing, Gift, Exaction Keystone Verse: I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised. (2 Corinthians 9:5)
16 But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our good will. 20 We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, 21 for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man. 22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men. Key Words: Earnest, Love, Boasting, Proof, Grace, Gift, Honorable, Benefit Keystone Verse: So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men. (2 Corinthians 8:24)
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” Key Words: Grace, Bestowed, Abundance, Poverty, Beyond, Complete, Abound, Rich Keystone Verse: We want to make known to you the grace of God bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia. (2 Corinthians 8:1)
2Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. 5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. 13 Therefore we are comforted. And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. 15 And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you. Key Words: Rejoice, Comfort, Joy, Grief, Refreshed Keystone Verse: Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret (2 Corinthians 7:10)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Key Words: Unequally Yoked, Partnership, Fellowship, Temple, Idols, Promises, Holiness Keystone Verse: Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).
3 We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. Key Words: Widen, Heart, Commend, Servants, Ministry, Endurance, Patience, Affections Keystone Verse: We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. (2 Corinthians 6:11)
2 Corinthians 5:21-6:2 21 For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 6:1 Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Key Words: Made, Sin, Righteousness, Appeal, Grace, Vain, Favorable, Day Keystone Verse: For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. Key Words: New, Creation, Reconciliation, Entrusting, Ambassadors, Appeal Keystone Verse: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Key Words: Home, Earthly, Heavenly, Mortal, Life, Faith, Sight, Please, Judgment Keystone Verse: For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. Key Words: Outer, Inner, Renewal, Affliction, Glory, Transient, Eternal, Seen, Unseen Keystone Verse: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison... (2 Corinthians 4:17)
In Matthew 16 Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” The Christian walk is not easy —as Paul writes to the Corinthians, we are afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. The Christian life requires us to continually lay down our lives in order to become more like Christ. We must take up Christ's cross, instead of trusting in our own works. Even though we are frail as summer's flower, we can have confidence that the King of Heaven will gently bear us and rescue us from all our foes (Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven). We “put no confidence in princes nor for help on man depend.” Instead, we trust in our God who reigns forever and promises to deliver us from oppression (Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah). When our hope is in Christ alone, “no power of Hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck us from His hand” (In Christ Alone). We must sacrifice all the vain things that charm us most, and instead boast in the death of Christ our God (When I Survey The Wondrous Cross). Because Christ offers us life in Him, we can say, “it is well with my soul” —whatever our circumstances may be (It Is Well With My Soul). This morning as we lay down our crosses, we take up Christ's cross and rest in His “love so amazing, so divine.” Let's lay down our lives to live in Christ. —Emma Marsh & Henry C. Haffner
2 Corinthians 4:1-6 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Key Words: Ministry, Mercy, Cunning, Word, Truth, World, Blinded, Light, Darkness, Glory Keystone Verse: God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
In this morning's sermon text, Paul continues his contrast between the Old and New Covenants. Because of Jesus's coming, the veil that Moses used to hide the evidence of God's glory is removed (v. 16), and we can behold the glory face to face (v. 18). But we don't merely see it, we are transformed to be like it. This imagery of veils and faces can be found in many of the hymns we sing this morning. In the first half of the service, we confess that the Lord's glory is so bright, it must be “hid from our eyes” (Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise). Though we rest on His grace, at times “darkness veils His lovely face” (My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less). But we also look forward to Christ's coming in beauty, when “we His face shall see” (The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns). Receiving assurance that our sins are forgiven, we can “look full in His wonderful face,” making the cares and follies of this world grow “strangely dim” (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus). We are invited to the table as a foretaste of the day when we will “stand in glory” face to face with our Savior (There Is A Redeemer), experiencing in full the “beauty of holiness” (The Voice Of The Lord Is Over The Waters—Psalm 29). Our service concludes with a vision of eternity, when we ascend to Heaven “on eagles' wings” (The God Of Abraham Praise). There we will “behold His face,” and join with the angels, archangels, and all the saints that precede us in death, singing “the wonders of His grace forever more.” —Henry C. Haffner & Emma Marsh Key Words: Face, Covenant, Spirit, Glory, Hope, Minds, Hearts, Moses, Christ Keystone Verse: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Bulletin 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
At the beginning of 2 Corinthians 3, Paul presents a series of contrasts: stone and human hearts (vs. 3), the ministry of death and the ministry of the Spirit (vss. 7-8), the ministry of condemnation and the ministry of righteousness (vs. 9), that which is coming to an end and that which is permanent (vs. 11). If the former of each of these pairs, which is analogous to the old covenant, was glorious, how much more glorious shall the new covenant be? Moses had to ascend Mount Sinai to receive the law, but we have it hidden “within our hearts,” meditating on it, making it our “chief delight” (How Shall The Young Direct Their Way—Psalm 119). The law of Moses was written on stone tablets, while the law of righteousness is written on our hearts (My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness). Though the former law convicts us, we look to Jesus to find that “love will make obedience sweet” and that His commandments become our happy choice (Come Ye Souls, By Sin Afflicted). The Spirit fills us with life, enabling us to love what He loves and do what He would do—not merely following a set of rules but motivated by hearts that are being made pure (Breathe On Me, Breath Of God). The old covenant was so majestic that Moses had to hide his face from the people, because it shone so brightly (Exodus 34:33). But the new covenant is inaugurated by a Savior who has hushed that old law's thunder and quenched Mount Sinai's flame (Let Us Love And Sing And Wonder). Not even a thousand tongues would be sufficient to sing of such glory. —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Spirit, Letter, Hearts, Sufficiency, Righteousness, Condemnation, Glory Keystone Verse: And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3) Bulletin 2 Corinthians 3:1-11 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
In his autobiography Confessions, St. Augustine recounts how his heart was hard and the things of the Lord were despicable to him. Before he understood the beauty of the Gospel, Christ's work was a stench to him. But when the Lord softened his heart to His voice, Augustine says, “You were radiant and resplendent. You put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after You. I taste you and I feel but hunger and thirst for You.” Likewise, in 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” Before Christ saved us, we were all like Augustine. The Gospel was a stench we wanted to avoid, but now we pant after it—and not because of our own work. It is because Christ leads us in triumphant procession. The fragrance of Christ is no longer death to death but life to life for the believer. We are now the saints triumphant who follow the King of glory. Because God has made us alive in Christ, we can adore Him and give Him “all glory, all wisdom and might.” Because God has clothed us in His righteousness and His fragrance, we can proclaim His triumph before a watching world, “ascribing salvation to Jesus our King.” —Emma Marsh Key Words: Triumph, Fragrance, Aroma, Death, Life, Sufficient, God's Word Keystone Verse: But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14) Bulletin 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
Presbyterian minister Henry van Dyke wrote Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, an ecstatic celebration of Christian unity, in 1907. He intended the poem to be sung to the melody of the final movement of Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 in D minor, which was itself a setting of an earlier poem by Friedrich Schiller called “Ode to Joy.” The Ode uses flowery and somewhat utopian eighteenth-century language to paint a picture of universal brotherhood under the watchful eye of a loving heavenly father. While Schiller's poem only hints at the potential of human unity in some distant future, Christians can point to the concrete experience of unity in Christ. Because of Jesus's atoning work on the cross, we are declared faithful souls who can press on towards the goal together (Psalm 101:6). We are, through grace, members of Zion's city, able to devote ourselves to fellowship and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). Because we rely on Him alone, we can join in love within the house of God—and that is truly joyful to see. Though sin and conflict will inevitably mar this unity, as it had in the situation Paul addresses in 2 Corinthians 2, we have the ability and the duty to forgive one another. We love because He first loved us and gave us pardon. In response, we should take up the prayer of Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee: “Teach us how to love each other.” —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Pain, Joy, Love, Forgive, Comfort, Outwitted Keystone Verse: You should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. (2 Corinthians 2:7) Bulletin 2 Corinthians 2:1-11 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 5 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. 6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs
He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. —1 Thessalonians 5:24 This morning, the Scriptures we read and the psalms and hymns we sing point us to the reliability of God's promises— we can trust that He is faithful to do what He says. The service opens with a Call to Worship from Psalm 111 that declares, “The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy.” Because of this faithfulness, we can “raise our Ebenezer,” remembering all that He has done for us. We read from Hebrews that “He who promised is faithful,” and we sing “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word.” In the sermon text, Paul reminds us that “all the promises of God find their Yes in [Jesus],” even in the face of change or uncertainty. We respond from Psalm 9 that we will “trust in the Word of truth.” We are assured that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,” and respond with a verse of Sweet Hour Of Prayer, singing to “Him whose truth and faithfulness engage the wanting soul to bless.” During Communion, we are comforted that “God never yet forsook in need the soul that trusted Him indeed.” The service closes with the hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness, sending us out into the world with a reminder that His compassions do not fail, and that He will provide all we need—strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow. —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Boast, Yes, No, Faithful, Establishes, Witness, Testimony, Grace, Understand Keystone Verse: For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Bulletin 2 Corinthians 1:12-24 12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you. 15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in Him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… —1 Corinthians 15:51 In this morning's sermon text, Paul continues his theme of comfort by recounting some of his trials, trials so burdensome that he “despaired of life itself.” But he urges the Corinthians to set their hope on “God who raises the dead.” We face affliction, just as Paul did, but we have his same hope. Though we live in a world where the reality of death often seems to veil our Savior's face, He abides with us still. Jesus hears our sighs and counts our tears, just as He wept with Mary and Martha—and He calls us up from the tomb along with Lazarus. He has conquered death, it reigns no more, and its sting is lost forever. Because He presides over the death of deaths and hell's destruction, our anxious fears are transformed into songs of praises. Christ's comfort swallows up death in victory. For all who grieve, the greatest comfort is relying on the God who, as Psalm 68 puts it, brings “deliverance from death.” —Henry C. Haffner & Emma Marsh 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. Bulletin Key Words: Affliction, Burden, Despair, Death, Deliver, Hope, Help, Thanks Keystone Verse: Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)
Much like last week, the emphasis in this morning's service can really be captured in a single word—where last Sunday it was “salvation,” this week it is “comfort.” The two readings from Psalm 46, which refer to God as a “fortress” and “a very present help,” promise that He will make wars to cease and assure us that we have nothing to fear when He is in our midst. In the sermon text from 2 Corinthians, Paul begins with a blessing for the “Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.” We sing comforting words from Fret Not Yourself—Psalm 37 (“He shall keep your pathway straight, uphold you with His hand”) and Be Still, My Soul (“Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake”), while we ask for the strength to comfort others in May The Mind Of Christ, My Savior (“That I may be calm to comfort sick and sorrowing”). As we come to the table, we use the hymns Calm Content and My Shepherd Will Supply My Need—Psalm 23 to declare that “we would find our souls at rest” in His care and that His provisions attend us all our days. We respond to all these words of comfort and assurance with the hymn Jesus, Lover Of My Soul, asking our Savior to “let the healing streams abound” and to cover us with the shadow of His wings. We are sent out with a promise from 2 Thessalonians: we can walk in this world with confidence because Jesus Christ Himself gives us “eternal comfort” and “good hope.” —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Comfort, Affliction, Share, Endure, Hope Keystone Verse: He “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) Bulletin 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
This morning's service focuses on a simple, foundational theme: Jesus Christ comes to save His people, and to save them completely. Each of our Scripture readings is taken from the book of Isaiah, where the Lord promises to save “all the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 45) and to clothe us with the garments of salvation (Isaiah 61). He becomes a Savior (Isaiah 63) even to people who did not seek Him (Isaiah 65), a people who can call their walls Salvation (Isaiah 60). This expansive vision is paralleled in the hymns All Hail The Power Of Jesus' Name and There's A Wideness In God's Mercy, which tell of the “plentiful redemption” that is given to members of every kindred and tribe. The King In Your Strength Shall Be Glad (Psalm 21) and Come Ye Sinners, Poor And Needy both rejoice in a salvation that provides for the desires of the heart (“each wish his heart had” “ten thousand charms”). There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood declares that in His blood “all the ransomed church of God” shall be “saved to sin no more,” while Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus reminds us to tell of “His perfect salvation” to a world that is dying. We go out singing Man Of Sorrows, with its glorious refrain of “Hallelujah! What a Savior!” —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Apostle, Will, Brother, Church, Saints, Grace, Peace Keystone Verse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:2) Bulletin 2 Corinthians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The feast of Epiphany (literally “appearance,” or “manifestation”) commemorates the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus, and more broadly the revelation of Christ as “the true light” (John 1:9) and “a light for revelation to the gentiles” (Luke 2:32). Light is a consistent theme in traditional celebrations of Epiphany, and you'll find that this morning's service follows suit. The Scripture reading from Isaiah 60 declares that our light has come, and that nations will gather around to see it. The psalms remind us that “Light to the upright shall arise, though he in darkness be” (Alleluia! How Blest The Man—Psalm 112), and encourage us to turn our eyes “to eternal light” (I Will Lift My Voice—Psalm 101). We confess that Jesus is the “Light of the anxious heart” and the "Light of light, light's living spring," who shines brighter than “all the twinkling starry host” (Light Of The Anxious Heart; O Splendor Of God's Glory Bright; Fairest Lord Jesus). The King Shall Come describes both Jesus' first and second comings as days when “light triumphant breaks.” The service concludes with Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise, which ascribes praise to the “Great Father of Light.” There's always a bit of uncertainty as we head into a new year: let's look to the Savior who “dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere.” —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Nazareth, Fulfilled, Galilee, Dream, Prophets, Joseph, Child Keystone Verse: And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that He would be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23) Matthew 2:19-23 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,20 saying, “Rise, take the Child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the Child and His mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that He would be called a Nazarene.
December 28 (or in our case, the Sunday closest to it) has traditionally marked the observance of Childermas. Also called the Feast of the Holy Innocents, this is a day of remembrance and mourning for the children of Bethlehem murdered by the order of King Herod. Along with Stephen, whose feast day (December 26) is also observed during the week after Christmas, these “infant martyr flowers” are considered the first to be martyred on behalf of Christ. Isn't it appropriate that right in the midst of the celebration of Christmas, we would turn our focus to such a terrible scene of violence? Jesus was born to deal with hearts like Herod's—and ours. This Holiest Innocent came so that the foe greater than any Herod, Death itself, would be overthrown. —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Herod, Tricked, Furious, Killed, Fulfilled, Weeping, Lamentation Keystone Verse: Thus was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah. (Matthew 2:17) Bulletin Matthew 2:13-18 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy Him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and His mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah weeping and loud in lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Today's Scripture reading from Matthew recounts the story of the “wise men from the east” who come to Judea to worship to the newly born Savior. Though featured in countless popular Christmas scenes along with Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds and angels from Luke 2, the Magi and their gifts are more properly associated with the feast of Epiphany. But even though it isn't January quite yet, we can still enjoy some of the wonderful carols and hymns which use “wise men” imagery. The gentile “sages” in Angels From The Realms Of Glory follow the “natal star” to find a Christ who is not merely born to be the “King of the Jews,” but the desire of every nation. As With Gladness, Men Of Old calls us to imitate them by bringing our costliest treasures to Christ, our heavenly King. The contemporary hymn Joy Has Dawned Upon The Earth suggests that the gifts brought to Jesus prophesy His life and work—gold for kingship, incense for intercession, and myrrh for embalming His body. What Child Is This reminds us that all men, be they kings or peasants, are all called to enthrone Him in their hearts. We may not see Him face to face in the same way the wise men did, but we can all heed the call to come and “worship Christ, the newborn King!” —Henry C. Haffner & Emma Marsh Key Words: Bethlehem, Herod, Wise Men, Prophet, Secretly, Star, Warned Keystone Verse: Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him. (Matthew 2:2) Bulletin Matthew 2:1-12 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found Him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way
Many popular Advent and Christmas traditions come to us from the German-speaking world—the Advent wreath, the Advent calendar, the Christmas tree—and the hymnody of the season is no exception. Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming, written in a monastic community in Trier in the Rhineland-Palatinate, refers to Jesus as a flower much in the same way as the book of Isaiah does (“… a shoot from the stump of Jesse” Isaiah 11:1; “For He grew up before Him like a young plant…” Isaiah 53:2). The German composer Felix Mendelssohn thought that the tune from his Festgesang, Op. 68 “would never do to sacred words.” But he was proven quite wrong when it was published with Charles Wesley's text “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” in 1861, becoming one of the world's most beloved Christmas carols. Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), a Lutheran pastor and poet from the seventeenth century, supplies two of this morning's hymns. All My Heart This Night Rejoices uses images such as “angel voices” and a “star from afar” to evoke the joy we feel at the coming of the Conqueror who overthrows sin, woe, death and hell. Less well known is O Savior Dear, Thy Manger Here, sung to a tune by the composer Johann Crüger whom Gerhardt met in Berlin and collaborated with numerous times. The gentle, child-like hymn is a study in contrasts: the humble manger is a paradise of glory; He who calms the winds and seas is given to us as an infant; the taint of Adam's fall is erased by Christ's saving grace. —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Fulfill, Prophet, Virgin, Immanuel, Commanded, Name, Jesus, Birth Keystone Verse: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23) Bulletin Matthew 1:22-25 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called His name Jesus.
In this morning's sermon text from the Gospel of Matthew, an angel appears to Joseph to announce that the miraculous child in Mary's womb “will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Many of the elements in the service today likewise focus on Christ's coming as a Savior. Our Call to Worship is taken from Zechariah's prophecy in Luke 1 (known historically as the “Benedictus”), in which he looks forward to God visiting and redeeming Israel, delivering them from the hands of their enemies. We read responsively from Psalm 80, asking the Lord to look down and see our great need, repeating the refrain of “let Your face shine that we may be saved!” The Christmas hymns Come All You Worthy Gentlemen, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence remind us that Christ is our “blessed Savior,” that He was “Lord of all” and “born for You,” and that at His coming “the powers of Hell may vanish.” The service is framed by the three verses of the Medieval Carol Good Christian Men, Rejoice, which deftly walk us through the essentials of the Gospel. Jesus was really born in a manger. He blessed mankind by opening heaven's door to us. Now we need not fear the grave—because “Christ was born to save!” —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Birth, Name, Jesus, Save, Holy Spirit, Joseph, Just, Son of David, Sins Keystone Verse: She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Bulletin Matthew 1:18-21 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel. —Phillips Brooks Advent is usually observed as a season of confession, preparation, and anticipation, looking forward to the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. You'll notice several added elements in the service this morning: lighting of candles during the Call to Worship, purple accents on the bulletin and the pulpit, and a time of silent prayer followed by a sung response where we cry out, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.” We have also included an insert in the bulletin with a series of daily scripture readings for Advent, which you can use at home with your family. As we enter this new season, I hope these added elements help us to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior—the long-expected Savior of the nations who appears as tender Lamb “promised from eternal years.” —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Genealogy, Son, Father, David, Abraham, Mary, Christ, Jesus, Generations Keystone Verse: Jesus was born, who is called the Christ. (Matthew 1:16) Bulletin Matthew 1:1-17 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
As we come to the end of the church year, it is appropriate that we look back on the year that has passed with thanksgiving. In a season that has certainly presented challenges in our world and our culture, the Lord has nevertheless poured out blessings on us—bringing new faces, new lives, and new opportunities here at Parish. We respond in song, proclaiming that we are a “thankful people” because God has provided for all our needs (Come, Ye Thankful People, Come). Two different psalms call us to give thanks because the Lord is good and because “His gracious love endures” (Psalm 136; O Thank The Lord For He Is Good—Psalm 118). We acknowledge that we are forever blessed because He pardons our guilt (Blest Is The Man—Psalm 32). We thank Him for bearing our pain, for sustaining us with His arms of love, for giving us His Son, and for leaving His spirit to assist in all our endeavors (My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness; There Is A Redeemer). We are sent out with a “grateful song,” in which we confess God's providence towards our ancestors in the past and our hope that He will continue to be “ruler, guardian, guide, and stay” in our land for the days to come. I pray for all of us this morning that, even in the midst of our “toilsome ways,” we can find refreshment in the posture of gratefulness. —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Edom, Lord, Jacob, Day, Kingdom, Saviors, Pride, Rise, Vision, Nations, Mt. Esau, Mt. Zion, Drink, Boast, Gloat Keystone Verse: Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's. (Obadiah 21) Bulletin Obadiah 1-4, 8-10, 15, 21 1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard a report from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: “Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!” 2 Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be utterly despised. 3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?” 4 Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord. 8 Will I not on that day, declares the Lord, destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of Mount Esau? 9 And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter. 10 Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. 15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head. 21 Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.
“Justice” is a term that we often hear in our contemporary cultural moment. On social media posts, in high profile court cases, and even in the streets, our nation has been in turmoil over questions of justice. But who determines the standard for justice? Is justice simply what benefits my tribe or interest group? Or is it a shifting cultural consensus? As Christians, we have a different answer. Our standard of justice is God Himself, as revealed to us in His Word. Only our God can truly deliver from oppression and maintain righteousness (Psalm 146). Only the Lord “stands to order judgment right to judges of the land” (Psalm 82). Only He can save His weak, poor servants (Psalm 86). Though the powerful in the world may plot and scheme (Psalm 2), only the Lord's kingdom will endure throughout all generations (Psalm 145). Though He is slow to anger, He “will by no means clear the guilty,” but instead He “will make a complete end of the adversaries” (Nahum 1:3, 8). When the nations rage over questions of justice (and injustice), our hearts should turn back to the Lord and to His Word—and “blessed are all who in Him hide.” —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Jealous, Avenging, Wrathful, Slow, Whirlwind, Stronghold, Refuge, Flood Keystone Verse: The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him. (Nahum 1:7) Bulletin Nahum 1:1-8 An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh. 2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps wrath for His enemies. 3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; He dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. 5 The mountains quake before Him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before Him, the world and all who dwell in it. 6 Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the heat of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by Him. 7 The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him. 8 But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of the adversaries and will pursue His enemies into darkness.
Dr. John Currie (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is Dean of Pastoral Theology, Professor of Pastoral Theology, and Director of the D.Min Program at Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Currie's academic interests include expository preaching and pastoral leadership. Dr. Currie has extensive pastoral experience and is an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Before serving at Redeemer OPC, Currie also served as a Teaching Pastor at Church of the Savior in Wayne, Pennsylvania, as a pastor at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Ambler, Pennsylvania, and as a Senior Pastor at Grand Prairie Alliance Church in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada. In addition, Dr. Currie has served as a Youth Pastor. Key Words: Continue, Teaching, Reproof, Correction, Training, Equipped, Season Keystone Verse: Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2) Bulletin
Today marks the 504th anniversary of Martin Luther's launching of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Western church was coming to the end of a long period of forgetfulness, corruption, and turmoil. Similarly, the book of Lamentations presents a picture of a people trusting in their own righteousness— which only brought disappointment, grief, fear, and sorrow. They were inhabitants of a land “with devils filled.” In the midst of all of this, the prophet can nevertheless declare, “The Lord is my portion … therefore I will hope in Him” (Lamentations 3:24). Do you bear a cross of grief or pain? Does evil seem to prosper? Don't fear—the right Man is on our side and He is from age to age the same. His mercy is forever sure. He has promised good to us—and He will be our portion as long as life endures. He is a stronghold in troubled days, a refuge evermore, and will fulfil the desires of our hearts. We hasten toward the hour when those disappointments, griefs, and fears are forgotten, because we are with Him. On this day, when we remember the work of the Reformers who called the church to return to the truths of Scripture, we can rejoice that we serve a God who is faithful to restore His people. —Henry C. Haffner & Emma Marsh Key Words: Wormwood, Gall, Steadfast Love, New, Faithfulness, Return, Redeemed Keystone Verse: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
As Pastor Grant put it last week, the book of Lamentations calls us to remember, repent, and return to the Lord. This week's sermon text focuses on that middle term—repentance—and specifically highlights the failures of the religious leaders in Judah: “Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions”; “This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests” (Lamentations 2:14; 4:13). Jeremiah laments the lack of repentance in the church and charges her shepherds with bringing this judgement upon themselves. Because of this, most of the musical pieces in this morning's service place us in an uncomfortable posture, standing “like a penitent” coming to “confess [our] sin” (Not All The Blood Of Beasts). We admit that we are “guilty, vile, and helpless” (Man Of Sorrows!), and we have nothing good “whereby [His] grace to claim” (Jesus Paid It All). We humbly acknowledge that God has “torn and rent our land” (O God You Have Rejected Us—Psalm 60) and that our foundations are destroyed (My Trust Is In The Lord— Psalm 11). We are reminded to “depart from all these besetting sins,” to “offer righteous sacrifices,” and to “bring our faith before the judge” (Answer, Father, When I Call—Psalm 4). This relentless focus on confession and repentance may be difficult—but we are not without hope. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). We will rejoice to see the curse removed. Our God will not cast us off. —Henry C. Haffner Key Words: Cast Down, Enemy, Weeping, Bile, Babies, False, Prophets, Priests Keystone Verse: Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading. (Lamentations 2:14) Bulletin Lamentations 2:1, 5, 11-14, 17; 4:1-2, 5, 13 2:1 How the Lord in His anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud! He has cast down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; He has not remembered His footstool in the day of His anger. 5 The Lord has become like an enemy; He has swallowed up Israel; He has swallowed up all its palaces; He has laid in ruins its strongholds, and He has multiplied in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. 11 My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city. 12 They cry to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like a wounded man in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers' bosom. 13 What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is vast as the sea; who can heal you? 14 Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading. 17 The Lord has done what He purposed; He has carried out His word, which He commanded long ago; He has thrown down without pity; He has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes. 4:1How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street. 2 The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold, how they are regarded as earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands! 5 Those who once feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple embrace ash heaps. 13 This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed in the midst of her the blood of the righteous.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. —Psalm 77:11 Much of this morning's service centers around memory—remembering the things that God has done for us, and asking the Lord to remember us in our distress. The service begins with the hymn O God, Our Help In Ages Past (Psalm 90), which speaks of God's faithfulness throughout history, and moves directly to The King In Your Strength Shall Be Glad (Psalm 21), which celebrates a specific victory in battle that the Lord gave to King David. We confess our forgetfulness from Deuteronomy, we are exhorted to “remember and stand firm” from Isaiah, and we respond by singing from Psalm 119 that we “will not forget Your law.” Later in the service, we use the hymn This Is My Father's World to pray that we will never forget God's providential care, even “though the wrong seems oft so strong.” An essential part of our call to remembrance is generational memory: hence, Let Children Hear The Mighty Deeds (Psalm 78) and O Lord Most High (Psalm 9), speak to our duty to “proclaim His mighty deeds” to “generations yet unborn.” In spite of our forgetfulness, we serve a God who never forgets His people. Even in the darkest of times, He speaks His faithful, reassuring word, “I am your Savior; do not fear.” —Henry C. Haffner & Emma Marsh Key Words: Princess, Slave, Mourn, Remembers, Sinned, Rebelled, Remember, Restore Keystone Verse: Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old. (Lamentations 5:21 Bulletin Lamentations 1:1-3, 5, 7-8,18; 5:1-3, 15-16, 19, 21 How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave. 2 She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies. 3 Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude; she dwells now among the nations… 5 Her foes have become the head; her enemies prosper, because the Lord has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe… 7 Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and wandering all the precious things that were hers from days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was none to help her, her foes gloated over her; they mocked at her downfall. 8 Jerusalem sinned grievously; therefore she became filthy; all who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns her face away… 18 “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against His word; but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering; my young women and my young men have gone into captivity…” 5:1 Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; look, and see our disgrace! 2 Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. 3 We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows… 15 The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned… 19 But You, O Lord, reign forever; Your throne endures to all generations… 21 Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.