January 7, 2018
Before We Worship
It is so easy to love the gifts more than the Giver of the gifts. How absurd is that? It makes about as much sense as a woman who loves her engagement ring more than her fiancé. We would certainly say that this is indicative of a deep problem. Sadly, however, this was the repeated fault of the Old Testament Israel.
Psalm 114 reflects on Israel’s exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan. Israel seldom forgot the value of their freedom, or what it means to have a home to call their own. Yet they often forgot who gave them their freedom and home. Thus the history of Old Testament Israel is one of idolatry, seeking from other so-called “gods” what the Lord had given them, and what the Lord alone could continue to provide for them. In short, they loved the gifts more than the Giver.
Thus we note in Psalm 114 the central focus falling not on the gifts, but the Giver. “When Israel went out from Egypt…Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.” The gift of the promised land was never to be enjoyed for its own sake, but only as the gift that crowns the Giver with glory.
When the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt into the promised land, he performed mighty works. He split the Red Sea and made the Jordan river turn back. The mountains and the hills of Canaan shook under the footsteps of marching warriors. These were the moments that Israel could look back and feel a sense of wonder at what was accomplished. And, yet, it was possible for them to remember the events and still forget just why the sea fled and the river turned back. “What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, what you turn back? O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?” The answer to all these questions is one and the same: “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.” It was the Lord’s presence that split the Red Sea and drove back the Jordan. It was not the sound of the Israel’s soldiers marching, but the mighty rumble of the Lord of Hosts who advanced before the camp of Israel that shook the mountains and the hills. It was always the Lord.
We often falter in the same way as Israel. We know how to value the gifts, and even to seek after them, but we are often forgetful of the Giver. We want joy, but we do not seek the Lord. And if we seek the Lord, it is to get the gifts, not because we love the Giver. Could we love the Giver, and be content with him, even if no other gifts were forthcoming?
God is actually very generous. He is always the Giver of good gifts. And he gives abundantly and faithfully all that we need. Still, we must love supremely the Giver, and not his gifts. His presence with us, Immanuel (God-with-us), is the greatest and the only gift that has no rivals.
Call to Worship
Psalm 114 (reading responsively from TH p. 827)
Trinity Hymnal #3 “Give to Our God Immortal Praise”
Trinity Hymnal #731 “Doxology”
Prayer of Invocation
The Reading and Exposition of the Law
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (p. 988)
Prayer of Confession
The Proclamation of the Gospel
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalms 103:8 ESV)
Trinity Hymnal #650 “I Will Sing of My Redeemer”
The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) — Lord’s Day 1
3 Q. How do you come to know your misery?
A. The law of God tells me.
4 Q. What does God’s law require of us?
A. Christ teaches us this in summary in Matthew —
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
5 Q. Can you live up to all this perfectly?
I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor.
Presentation of Gifts and Offering
The Proclamation of God’s Word
Galatians 3:10–14 (p. 973)
Blessed in Christ Jesus
Rev. Ken Han
The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper
We participate in the Lord’s Supper weekly. We welcome to the Lord’s Table all baptized believers who have sincere faith in Jesus Christ, and regularly worship in a Reformed or evangelical church.
The Lord’s Supper is a sign and a seal of the new covenant blessings. When we participate in the Lord’s Supper with faith, it strengthens our bond with our covenant Lord, Jesus Christ. Thus we participate properly when we come to our Savior with faith and repentance as we renew our resolve to forsake sin and live for his glory.
The Lord’s Supper also renews our bonds with God’s covenant community, the body of believers in the local church. As we receive the Lord’s Supper, we renew our pledge to give ourselves away in loving service.
During the distribution of the bread we will sing Trinity Hymnal #34 “The God of Abraham Praise” stanzas 1–3, and stanzas 4–6 during the distribution of the cup.
Trinity Hymnal #521 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”
Family Devotion for the Week
There was a technical difficulty with the recording of the December 31, 2017 sermon, and is therefore not available. You can subscribe to sermon podcast here.
The Shorter Catechism lesson of the week is posted here: Q. 28.
We have some new resources for you at the information table, including several new CCEF mini books, as well as other edifying books. Be sure to check them out!
Upcoming Events and Notices
Every Lord’s Day 10:15 AM: Please join us for Hymnsing, a time of preparing our hearts for worship in praise, and for learning new hymns for worship.
The Catechism lessons for children and adult will resume on January 21, 2018.
Join us for “12 for 18” as we read 12 great books in the year 2018. For January, 2018, we will be reading Sinclair Ferguson’s “From the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading, and Applying the Bible.”
January 14 (Lord’s Day): The January fellowship meal will be at the Han home. Everyone is invited!
(Nursery meets in the Conference Room)
January 7: Yoori Han
January 14: Kelly & Rebecca Rogers