Preparing for Worship // July 22, 2018

Preparing for Worship // July 22, 2018

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The past few chapters of Deuteronomy have felt a lot like an extended reformed worship service. Moses gathered the people, gave a long sermon on the 10 Commandments, called the people to repentance, assured them that their salvation is in God alone, exhorted them to continue to look to God’s Word for sanctification, and they all sang a song of response. That leaves just one thing left in the worship service: the benediction. Each week the liturgical notes on the side of the worship guide say, “‘Benediction’ means blessing. A man ordained to administer word and sacrament raises his hands at the end of public worship, and pronounces a blessing from God to His people. This is not a prayer to God, but a blessing from God. So the congregants should look up, and often will extend open palms in a posture of reception.” This is precisely what Moses is doing for the people. He knows this congregation well, has been pastoring them for 40 long and hard years in the desert, and now blesses each tribe intimately by name.

Corporate worship can and should be seen as a way that we bless and are blessed by God. Calvin’s commentary on the book of Ephesians calls out four different ways the bible uses the term “bless.” I have added in parentheses a few examples of where we regularly see these in our worship service.

  1. We are said to bless God when we offer praise to him for his goodness (singing of songs, prayers of adoration).
  2. God is said to bless us, when he crowns our undertakings with success, and, in the exercise of his goodness, bestows upon us happiness and prosperity; and the reason is, that our enjoyments depend entirely upon his pleasure (give tithes and offerings as a response of gratitude for this blessing, prayers that give thanks).
  3. Men bless each other by prayer (pastoral prayer, blessings on infants before baptism).
  4. The priest’s blessing is not simply a prayer, but is likewise a testimony and pledge of the Divine blessing; for the priests received a commission to bless in the name of the Lord (benediction).

Moses gives the people this fourth kind of blessing. It is not simply Moses wishing his people good luck and saying, “I hope this is what happens” as they enter the Promised Land. Rather, it holds the full weight of Divine blessing coming from God Himself. God’s word does not return to Him empty, but accomplishes all that God purposes (Isaiah 55:11). God’s people today also hear a blessing from Him as we go out into the world. We come together to be reminded of the blessings we already have full assurance of, and go out to be a blessing to the world around us.

THE WORD

Scripture: Deuteronomy 33:1-29
Sermon: The Blessings of Christ for Us

SONGS

Come Thou Fount (Traditional)
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Whom Shall I Fear (Chris Tomlin)
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Psalm 62 (Aaron Keyes)
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Song of Preparation: The Rock Won’t Move (Vertical Worship)
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Song of Response: Good Good Father (Housefires)
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