Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wedding Homily

Elizabeth Hurt to Ian Lamont
First Baptist Church
Reception at Forest Road UMC
July 18, 2015

Homily- Christ and the  Church

Ephesians 5:22-33
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Gen. 1:1-5, 26-28,
         Gen. 1:1   In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3   And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
The Bible starts out in a wonderful way. In the beginning, God.
This is where we must all start. God is. God is the creator and our identity and vocation flows from this fact. We owe our existence to Him and so we are obligated to do what He tells us to do.
In the beginning, God spoke and it was so.
First of all, God created light, that light that shines in the darkness. He created the waters above and below, the Earth and the Sea, the sun and moon and stars and He knows them all by name. He created sea creatures and birds. He created cattle and everything that creeps on the Earth. And it was all good. And finally, He created man and woman and He said that it was all very good.

Gen. 1:26   And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God has given us marching orders. We are to bear His image in the Earth. We are to be creators, like God. We are to fill the earth with goodness, goodness as between a man and woman, and truth, truth between a husband and a wife and beauty, beauty revealed in a lovely garden with a faithful gardener. A faithful Christian marriage reveals this goodness, truth and beauty.
Furthermore, as God blesses, we are to bring forth children to help us fulfill the dominion mandate in the Earth, to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the Earth with the knowledge of the Lord.
So, we have these two things in mind as we think about the glory of marriage. First, mankind is to bear the image of God and second, He is to fill the Earth with the knowledge of the Lord as the water covers the sea.
Paul tells us in Ephesians that marriage reveals a great truth, the glory that is Christ and His Church. For the man is to love His wife as Christ loves the church and the woman is to revere her husband as the Church reveres Christ.
These are not merely ideals that the Lord sets before us. They are facts, as true as creation. A husband is a Christ figure. A wife is a picture of the Church. This is what God has done in the Earth. Will we honor God in obedience, or not?
All marriages testify of Christ and the Church. Marriage is the symbol of that reality. But does the symbol speak truth? To the extent that a man and woman follow after Christ, their marriage will reveal His glory. To the extent that they disdain His Word, their marriage will reveal a lie about Christ and His Church.
Christ is the ever-faithful husband. His bride will be perfected without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
These two standing here have covenanted with God, with one another and with you as witnesses to testify of this truth. This is impossible in human strength. No man is as perfect as Christ. No woman is as glorious as Christ’s Church. But thanks be to God that they are not called to speak in their own voices, in their own names or by their own strength. They are called and sent to this task in Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, with the ever abundant supply of God’s grace. In this way, they will reveal the glory that is Christ and His Church and do their part to fill the Earth with the knowledge of the glory of Christ. Amen.


Let Them Have Dominion

Genesis 1:1-3, 26-31
Let Them Have Dominion
Sermon Notes
July 19, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         I titled this sermon, Let Them Have Dominion. That title is important. God gave mankind dominion over the Earth. But God’s gift of dominion and actually taking dominion are two different things.
         We all know that mankind failed in his dominion mandate to rule and subdue the Earth. He waxed fat and kicked. He multiplied rapidly and filled the earth but the daughters of men fell for the sons of God and God destroyed the earth in a mighty flood. After the flood, man again multiplied and filled the Earth but he tried to build a tower into the heavens to save himself and God came down and toppled the tower of Babel and scattered the languages.
         God called Abram to fulfill the mandate to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it but he was old and his wife was old and they could not have children. So God brought life from death, and gave Sarah a son in her old age, so she could laugh like she never had before.
         Abraham multiplied, as did his sons, and their sons, Isaac, and Jacob and Joseph. But they did not take the land yet. They were enslaved in Egpyt, like men without a country. But God heard their cry and brought them up from the land of Egypt. God destroyed Egypt and brought Moses and the people to the Promised Land. But Moses could not take them into the Promised Land, either, and it fell to Yehoshua to lead them in. Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus is the only way to fulfill the dominion mandate.
         But even Joshua’s victories were only types and shadows. The land was conquered a little bit at a time until a great savior arose, one named David, who conquered his enemies on every side, bringing them all into submission beneath his feet. He passed on this glorious peaceful kingdom to his son after him. Solomon was the king of peace. But not for long. The eschatological kingdom was still only a type and shadow and as soon as Solomon was dead it all began to unravel.
         But one arose whom all the prophets foretold. There is a prince of peace. He has received His kingdom. He is the Lord and ruler of all. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. He is wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.
         Jesus is His name. The name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.
         We have been making our way through the Minor Prophets. I have greatly enjoyed studying and preaching through these sermons. They are surprisingly relevant to modern life in America. That is saying a lot since they were written between 2500 and 3000 years ago. This simply shows us that as much as things change, mankind doesn’t change that much. We have the same propensity to sin in big ways and are in need of a Savior to deliver us from our sins.
         With that in mind, we have heard a great deal about sins that infect and affect an entire nation. It was true in ancient times in Israel and Nineveh and Babylon and Rome and it is true today. The church has always been the bearer of the light. When the church wanes dim, then the nation wherein she resides is in great trouble. It was true in ancient times and remains true to this day.
         The church in America has been on a spending spree. We are shaking off our great heritage. The result has been a culture of death, Moloch raising his ugly, condemned head. This is distressing to us who embrace life in Christ and expect to see His blessings poured out in the world. But judgment truly does begin in the household of God.
         God will perfect His bride. He is in the process of winnowing the wheat from the chaff. He finds foolish virgins waiting along with wise. There are Judas’s among the Apostles. But note the change from the Old Testament to the New.
         In the Old, the faithful were the few, a remnant, 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Or even after the return from exile, a few thousands to rebuild the ruins. And even in the days of Jesus, thousands came to Him but millions rejected Him.
         Why? Because after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, His disciples would do greater things even than Jesus. Peter preached on Spirit filled church, day one, and 3000 believed and were baptized. A few months later, 5000 believed. After that a multitude. Then the robes were laid at the feet of a young man named Saul as he sought to ravage the Jesus people. But God Himself and had set them on fire. So, the on fire Jesus people fled every direction and the fire with which they burned also spread, like a fast burning blaze in a dry prairie. And Paul, himself, caught fire and burned the world down everywhere he went.
        
Break
         This week I wanted to give you a little break from the Minor Prophets. You need this break from them and perhaps from me.  No doubt, the message in the Minor Prophets is the Word of God and we need to hear it. Furthermore, as I said, the message is enormously relevant in our day, a day in which up and down are being reversed and the scientists are exhorting us to defy gravity. But up is still up, down still down, male and female are ever as God has created them and no lying President or Supreme Court can make it any other way. God will not be mocked and every man living in a white house will one day stand before His throne.
         These truths hit us hard. We see judgment breaking out and we fear that God might dismantle our house of cards. Dear ones, it is true. He might. Unless, there is wholesale repentance in America, first in the church and then flowing out from there, we should expect to see things unravel further. Maybe, like Nineveh, God’s people will wake up and lead the nation in repentance and God will spare us, and not destroy us as He threatens.
         But we need a break from this way of speaking and we need to be encouraged.

Encouragement
         But what shall we do? We are caught here in the midst of lying leaders, both in the church and in our government. We have lying news anchors, lying celebrities and we feel as if Christ’s kingdom is under assault. We might even start feeling the heat ourselves. What shall we do? Shall we be discouraged? Shall we enter our bunkers of shelter? Do we lay low and hope it all blows over?
         No, that is not what God is calling us to. In the course of God’s kingdom, the Son has risen. Jesus is alive. He is ruling at the right hand of the Father. He cannot be dethroned. Devils might try it to dethrone Him. ISIS devils. Muslim devils. Supreme devils. Religious devils, queerly masquerade parading as Christians. And every other lofty political or religious thought that raises its head against the Lord Jesus and His Word, trying to define them both out of existence.
         But they cannot dethrone Him. He is high and lifted up and His glory fills the earth. The kings and rulers, the pretenders and the apostate cannot dethrone Him. We must keep this in mind!
         America might be in trouble but the kingdom of God is doing just fine. From now until Jesus returns for the final Resurrection, there will never be a better time to be alive. We live in the greatest age and our children will live in the greatest age and their children will live in the greatest age.
         Dear Saints, this is not merely hopeful thinking, this is the gospel truth! If every day is one day closer to the consummation of all things, is it not glory? If every year, Jesus takes a little more territory from the already defeated devil, is this not true progress? If the kingdom of God is growing so that it fills the whole loaf of the world, is this not reason to rejoice?
        
Providence Kirkers
         In this world of madness, what should YOU do? In the face of opposition, what should you do? With the threat of persecution in America, what should YOU do?
         You should do what you are doing. Remember the mandate from the beginning. Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it. In the Old Covenant, this always fell flat. God’s people multiplied but they failed to subdue the Earth. The earthly kings always fell short of their task. They gained dominion only to lose it a short time later.
         But we live in more glorious times. Our King is on the throne and cannot be dethroned. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. That is a dramatic difference!
         So, in Jesus, we CAN fulfill both the multiplying and the subduing. In multiplying, you are doing well. We have joked about this in the past, our church growth plan is getting folks married and having a score of children! But it is no joke. We have been doing this for 15 years and we have now filled up our church. We have 140 kids. We have multiplied!
         What does this mean? It means that we have more soldiers in the victory of the cross. We can spread out and take more dominion.
         We just had a wedding. A few folks always ask me if I am sad about my daughters growing up and leaving the home. Sad?
         Are we sad in a battle charge? Are we sad on the victory lap? Are we sad when the enemy flees in a rout? Are we sad when we hoist our battle flag after the battle? Sad? For this reason I came. This is the joy that was set before me on the hard road of parenting. This is the culmination of a lifetime of labor and prayer. The enemy is running. This is the victory lap. Sad? Of course not!
         Our children are arrows in our quivers. Weddings are bows to shoot them out to take dominion. And that is what God is doing through you.
         Dear Saints, do not listen to the voices that speak like wormtongue to your soul. Be discouraged. Your children are growing up in dark times.
No, it is you who have been stuck in dreamy dark times! We have been like the lotus eaters in our dreamy reality while the enemies have crept in among us.
         I want to encourage you to a renewed awareness, a focused diligence to those things we are already focusing on. Do not grow weary. You are doing well. Do so more and more! We get to wake up to the reality of the glory of our faith in Christ. Our sleepy children will have to wake up and lay claim to the glory of the cross and of Christ’s victory in Word and Deed.  This is God’s kindness to us in the midst of crooked and perverse generation.
        
Worship- Right worship is the source of strength. It is vital in defeating every foe. This is why sing our fighting Psalms.
By right worship, I include a true understanding of the gospel, submission to the Lord Jesus in all things, study of the Scriptures, faithful weekly attendance with God’s people, faithful attendance to the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
         These are all offensive fighting weapons that take dominion in the Earth.
        
Marriage- Ephesians 5 goes with Genesis 1.
Christ and His Church are fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth. This what marriages do!
Some have said that marriage is now under assault. Welcome to the world! Did you not read the first few chapters of the Bible? The devil has always assaulted marriage. What better place to attack man than his fundamental relationship between husband and wife? What better way to attack the world subduing gospel?
Marriage is not now under assault. It has always been, from the beginning and will be until the last sin is defeated. The devils like to make a mockery of marriage because they think they assault Christ and His Church. They say that marriage doesn’t really matter. Only sex matters and you can do that with anybody! But Christ is faithful and He will perfect His bride!
The only assault against real marriages will be the one that occurs when God’s people fail to tell the truth. The assault here is not marriage in and of itself. The assault is on the kingdom of God, itself. We don’t need Jesus. We don’t need His Bride. We have built our tower to heaven and we don’t care if we are scattered in our confusions!
Dear Saints, don’t get caught up in the confusion. The Holy Spirit has come and revealed one truth in Jesus Christ and His Word. That is not an idea or an ideal. It is true. Marriage is what God says it is and defining it any other way will not make it so.
Your children are going to grow up in an age where their Christian marriages will shock the world again. In the early days of the Church, it was Christian marriage that so dramatically witnessed to a pagan world. As the darkness falls, even a little candle looks like a bright light. You are doing well in this. Continue. Speak the truth.
Love and Respect. The power of speaking the truth. Do not grow weary. Be bold. Be strong.

Child Rearing
         We have taught much on child rearing. There are many methods to achieve the one goal, faithful Christian children. But do not belittle what we are doing among our children.  Do not take your jobs lightly and do not grow weary.
         Mothers, do you know that you are just about the greatest thing this world has to offer? Perhaps the one thing better is a father to go with the mother.
         I am thankful that our many children seem to be growing up faithfully, embracing that which you have instilled in them. But it takes a long time to get them faithfully to their wedding day. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t stop running at mile seventeen. The race does not really start until mile 20. You have not finished a marathon if you run 22 miles. Don’t celebrate until you finish!

Education
         Home school, Christian School, Combination of both.
         Know that the Word is the Absolute Truth and then absolutely know the Word. Stand on the Word alone as your rule for faith and practice. Get it in your bones. Indoctrinate yourself and your children fully. Be an unapologetic Bible person. Don’t worry about trying to impress worldlings.  It didn’t work and it won’t.
Government schools have become a megaphone for liars. It is possible to survive them without believing all the lies but it is getting increasingly more difficult to do so. If ever there was a time to face this fact, now is it.
         These are the things that God uses to establish His kingdom on the Earth. It may not look like much and the rulers of this world scoff at us. But though they think that they bear the sword, it is not so.
         The sword that goes forth and slays all the enemies is the one that protrudes from the mouth of Jesus. It vanquishes every foe. It is an unbreakable blade and every man, woman and child here also possess this sword. The foe cannot deal with it. The president cannot deal with it. The supreme court cannot deal with it. And even if you get killed wielding this sword, the sword still fights! One man is down and two men pick up the sword and slay twice as many foes.
        
EXHORTATION
         Outside of Jesus Christ, the dominion mandate cannot be fulfilled. But we are 2015 years into the rule of Christ.
         We are people of faith and are called to live by faith. Do not shrink back from the fight. Do not be afraid to engage. Do not withhold your children from the battle. The battle is the Lord’s. He has in fact already won even though the enemy is unaware. So, press on with confidence, with courage and with joy.


        


To Encourage a Thief

To Encourage a Thief
By Virgil Hurt,
On the occasion of my daughter, Elizabeth’s, wedding to Ian Lamont.
Written July 15, 2015
Wedding July 18, 2015

To Encourage a Thief

A thief is never at ease.
His mind is running too and fro.
He knows that which has recently become his.
Can just as easily go.

He hoards that which was yesterday another man’s.
And does not seek to make amends.
The greed he condemned in the rich man’s treasure
He, himself, possesses now as ever.

Is there help for such a man?
Can we offer him a plan?
I find it rather difficult to do.
Instead I’ve got an accusation or two.

Ian, thou art the man!
A thief if ever there was one!
You know you took that which once was mine!
Do not deny it here at this present time.

I saw you take it and have plenty of proof.
The men gathered here under this roof
Can avouch my claim as plain and true.
There is a thief, I say, and he is you!

I will speak the truth today and will not withhold the same.
You it was who snuck into my home
Who ate my bread and drank my wine.
You who planned it all before the time.

You even smiled and laughed while the deed was done.
And never thief so guileless still?
Whose repentance of this theft is still undone.
Shall we affirm this wretched skill?




But affirm I do and do not begrudge it.
My daughter’s heart, don’t deny, you have stole it.
I asked her where it was, “Tis gone”, she said.
Who is the culprit? Not that Lamont bonehead?

“Dad!” she protested, espying my smirking smile.
And hugs to her and from her all the while.
He’s not so bad, I said, but do you respect him as much as me?
“More.” she said. I said, “Then, it shall be.”

It is rare that I encourage a shameless thief.
But one like you, son, I eagerly do.
The girl who’s heart you stole
I willingly give to you.

Guard her well, a treasure like no other.
With love to you from me and her mother.
Time to stop your thieving ways.
Live content with her all your days.

Cherish her, this stolen gift.
With love like Christ’s, whose suit did lift
His bride as high as heaven above.
To die for her, no greater love.

The thief is now a son to me.
And daughter ever happy she.
From God to me, to you she’s sent.

God bless you both in Providence.

The Long Table

We call Communion, The Lord’s Table. We should not confuse His Table with this little short one we have up here. The Lord’s Table is not short. His Table is long, long enough for an infinity of individuals. It stretches as far as grace, which stretches much farther than sin.
         Many of you have long tables in your homes. You need long tables for your many children, friends and relatives. As the Lord blesses, you will need more leaves to add your grandchildren and great grandchildren. The Table just gets longer and longer.

         God’s Table is like that. He keeps adding places for those whom He welcomes. His long Table is always growing longer and you who are gathered here, and your children and your grandchildren and your great grandchildren are welcome to come and eat with Jesus, even to a thousand generations.

Do So More and More

Recent events in our country have given us cause to be discouraged. Americans have a tremendous heritage of Christian thinking and culture that we are rapidly throwing off. What are we to do?
         First of all, do not be discouraged. At the core of discouragement is lack of faith. We look and see and are downcast. But God calls us to live according to what we cannot see.
         If our President and Congress and Supreme Court, our institutions of higher learning and even the American citizenry want to throw off our Christian heritage and shake their fist at God, it will not change the end result. The knowledge of the Lord will be as the water that covers the sea. The liars will be exposed. Our Lord sees all this tumult as the rulers of earth engage against our Lord Jesus and what does God do? He holds them in derision and laughs.
         We are not to be discouraged. God is not losing. His rule and His way will be established in the Earth.
Secondly, be faithful, be bold against the liars. Be kind to your wife. Respect your husband. Obey your parents. Gladly receive children. Raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth.
In these simple ways, God establishes His gospel and His will in the Earth. The liars who hide the truth cannot cover this truth. Our God is our salvation. He will not forsake us. Truth will prevail.

Those of you gathered here, believe this. You do well. Continue in these things. You have done well. Do so more and more.