Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Genesis 17-18:15 Sermon

Genesis 17:1-18:15
Sermon Notes
The Sound of Laughter
7/15/2018
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
This chapter is filled with laughter. Abraham laughs. Sarah laughs. And I think God gets the last laugh. God’s promise to Abram that he will have numerous descendants becomes increasingly clear. There is a promise of land and descendants. 
Abram has a son, Ishmael. But we know that Ishmael is an allegory of how we do things the wrong way while we are too impatient to wait upon God. Thus, Ishmael could not be the heir. 
Furthermore, God waits a very long time to bring about the promise through Sarah. He is like that. He gives life to empty wombs. Remember barren Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and even a virgin, Mary, and their babies. And remember how many peoples and nations issue forth from these women by the promise of God.
Ishmael is the firstborn son of Abram but he cannot be the heir because he is neither the son of promise nor a son of faith. And so it is with all sons of the flesh. They shall not inherit so we know that the inheritance is by promise. But in Isaac shall thy seed be blessed.

EXEGESIS
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I amthe Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
         We fast forward about 13 years from our previous encounter with Abram and God. He was then 86 years old and he and Sarai contrived to get Abram a son through Hagar. 

Meal Laughter

Laughter around our Table is possible because of two things. Gratitude and peace. We are grateful for the food, for those who fixed it, for the nourishment it brings, for the flavor, for the way it looks on the plate, for the family and friends gathered there.
         But all of that is for nought if the table atmosphere is tense and cold. In fact, when you are out of fellowship with God or your family and friends, it easy to despise the good food and all that went in to preparing it. Remember the dwarves.
So, in order to laugh well at the table we need gratitude and we need peace. Let us then eat from this Table with gratitude for we are at peace with God and men.

Unbelief's Laugh

Many in our day are professional scoffers. They are practiced skeptics and just won’t believe anything, even when there is good reason to believe. How much more are we tempted to not believe those things that require faith?
But our faith is not blind faith. We might be encouraged to believe something that seems utterly impossible but we have good reasons for our belief. We believe based upon God’s Word, His promises, His good name and character. We know those things about God are true and are then enabled to believe, and thus know, the things we cannot see.
Are you skeptical of God’s goodness? Do you not believe He is a kind and gracious God? Did you laugh at God’s provision for you in the storm of life, seeing only the wind and the waves? 
Choose rather the laugh of faith. How can it be that my Lord would consider me? I know not but am thankful He does.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Standing Ground




The Revoice Conference will soon take place. There has been a great deal of controversy swirling around the stated theme and topics. 

This following is from the front page of the Revoice Conference website:
Revoice 2018-Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex attracted and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality. 
In light of the this sort of accommodation of false teaching on sexuality becoming increasingly common, our denomination, The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) has put out the following statement.

CREC Statement on Sexuality

CREC Statement on Sexuality
July 16, 2018

The CREC affirms the Bible’s teaching on the creation of man and woman and the establishment of the marriage relationship as only between one man and one woman. There are two sexes, male and female. We stand against all attempts to confuse the Bible’s clear teaching in this area. 

The CREC believes that Christians who struggle with various sexual temptations should receive ongoing pastoral care, including those who are tempted to engage in sexual perversions. At the same time, we believe that any teaching that combines LGBTQ identity with identity in Christ is completely unbiblical.

We believe that encouraging Christians who face certain sexual temptations to identify as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders, whether in sexually active relationships or not, is unbiblical, and further, that this teaching will have destructive effects in the long term, both for individuals who follow it and for any Christian bodies that accommodate it. 

We exhort all ecclesiastical bodies to declare the Bible’s full and clear teaching on sexual behavior, whether in desires or actions, and to encourage individuals to repent of sinful desires and sexual behavior as they turn to Christ to resist temptation. 

We encourage patient pastoral care for struggling individuals who repent of their sins and seek to be obedient to Jesus.

We exhort the broader Christian Church, and particularly Reformed Churches, to hold their churches and pastors accountable to faithful biblical doctrine and practice in all areas of sexuality. 

Virgil Hurt
Presiding Minister of Council
Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Genesis 16 Sermon


Gen. 16:1-16
Let God Judge
July 8, 2018
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         This story is a divine reminder of waiting on the Lord. When we take matters in our own hands and justify our behavior, the result is a pile of trouble. All of the parties in this event are culpable for various sinful actions. And even in the sins, the Lord is gracious and kind to them. 
         We should learn at least two lessons from this passage. One, wait upon the Lord. Do not justify your bad behavior by impatience or blame shifting. Two, the Lord is gracious, kind, long-suffering and quick to forgive. Even though the parties here are guilty, Sarai, Abram and Hagar, God forgives them all and looks upon them with favor.
         We need to wait upon God and resist the desire to take things in our hands and sin. But if we do this, falling to our fallen human nature, then we need to humble ourselves before the Lord, receive His forgiveness and move on. He is able to overcome our sinful desires. 
         We need to also remember that there are dire consequences for sins, even after forgiveness is granted. The issues with Hagar and Ishmael do not end here when Hagar returns to Sarai. We have a later incident where we see the strife continues. Furthermore,

A Well in the Desert

God is watching over us for good. Do you feel famished for the Lord? Is your soul parched, athirst for the living God? Then be encouraged, this food is like a well in the dessert, it gives life when there is no hope for survival. 
         To be fed on Jesus is to have meat indeed. To drink of the blood of Christ is to possess the rivers of living water, from which, if a man drink, he shall never thirst again.
         In Christ, our bellies are satiated and our throats are quenched, for Jesus is the well of life for all who come to Him in faith.

The Lord Sees

We sometimes wonder if the Lord notices our distress or if He will deliver us from duress. He does notice. He sees us even if we have failed to see Him.
         Are you in distress? Is it not your fault? Perhaps a medical condition? Or, is it your fault, perhaps a sin that has led to further consequences with your spouse or children?
         Does the Lord not see and deliver? He does. And whether your duress is out of control or caused by your behavior, the Lord sees you, in Christ, with favor. He forgives, restores, heals and blesses. He is that sort of gracious, long suffering and merciful God.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Genesis 15 Sermon Notes

Genesis 15:1-21
Sermon Notes
Faith Like Abraham
July 1, 2018
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         This passage has large ramifications for us today. The New Testament declares that all those who have faith like Abraham are children of Abraham. God’s promise to Abram was that he would have offspring from his own body. That offspring would be as the stars in number, a whole earth full of people.
         This people would fill up the land of Canaan. When Abram received this promise, he was already growing old as was his wife, Sarai. In earthly terms, the promise was looking unlikely. But, in fact, it was more than unlikely. God wanted it to be clear that in earthly terms, it was not only unlikely but impossible. That is why God delayed so long in bringing the promise to pass. It needed to be clear that Abraham and Sarah could not manufacture the blessing through earthly or manmade manipulation. They try to do this but God still works His Sovereign and miraculous will.
         Abram is an example of great faith.

Near To God

God desires that we be near Him. In the garden, Adam and Eve sinned and then went away from God. So, He came to them. Sin has driven us away from God, but we have been brought near, even to the Holy of Holies, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
         This nearness is the peace of knowing God as Father, Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit as Comforter. 
         We are His children and He is our good and kind Father. There is no better place than near to your loving Father in Heaven. Come to Him in Jesus name. Amen.

Near Sighted

Just as Job could only see up close, we, too, suffer from near sightedness. That is why we have to look into the distance of the future with faith. 
Abraham also looked at his present circumstances in dismay, “Me and my wife are old and no chance for an heir.” But both Job and Abraham were rewarded with blessing when it was clear that God was doing the work. When God spoke, they believed Him, and it was put to their account as righteousness.
It is difficult for us to look into the future for blessing. We can imagine all sorts of things that may or may not really be blessings to us. We may set our desires and hopes on the thing instead of the God of blessings. The trick is to trust God now for what lies ahead. We do not know what lies ahead but we know Him with whom we have to do. It is fitting to confess our fears, our imaginations, even our desires, be they ever so good, and truly put them in the hands of the Lord, putting our trust wholly in our good and kind Father in Heaven.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ephesians 4 Sermon Notes

Ephesians 4:7-16
Body Builders
June 24, 2018
Lynchburg, Virginia
NOTE: I originally preached this in 2014 but just recycled portions of it for a  sermon last week. Lots of extra notes here that were not in the sermon.

EXHORDIUM
         We live in an age when perpetual youth is worshipped. We have delayed growing up now sometimes into the mid or late twenties. There is not a sense of standing on one’s own at say age 20 or so and so the adulthood keeps getting pushed back further and further. 
It should not surprise us that such things are also prevalent in the church. The youth and immaturity of the faith is lauded and maturity stays at a distance. Many Christians have not learned the depths of Christ and so remain susceptible to all sorts of delusions of theology and practice.
But there is no excuse for this state of affairs. It is willful negligence on the part of Christians to not grow up in Christ. With the vast amount of biblical teaching available, we should all be growing up in Christ.
The primary place this should be happening is at church. You should be fed a steady diet of God’s Word and you should be growing in your knowledge of Jesus.
But you should also be studying the Word in your homes and on your own. You should be a faithful Bible reader and coming to understand the story of God, God’s purposes and your purpose in Christ.
Many people do not really understand this. This is one reason I am thankful for our emphasis on Word, Sacrament, Doctrine and Practice. Even our little children know what the Chief End of Man is. Our purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him. In order to do that, we have to know Him and know what He has called us to be and to do in Christ and in His Church. This is growing up in the faith so that we can be strong and stand fast.

EXEGESIS
         7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  
         Christ measures out His grace to us according to our need.

8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  
Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father to rule Heaven and Earth from Heaven. 
Captivity Captive- Jesus made a show of them like the ancient generals or emperors who paraded the enemy through the streets and gave gifts to the victorious soldiers.
Jesus disarmed the principalities and powers on the cross. Here he holds them captive.
Homo es- A Roman general would have a slave set beside him and say, “Homo es.” You are a man. This was because he might be tempted to think he was a god with all the adulation being shown him. 
But Jesus was truly man and truly God. He receives the adulation fit only for God and appropriately so. There is no power greater than Jesus and so He does not need reminded to stay in His place. His place is far above all principalities and powers.
He is the same one that also descended to the Earth. Before exaltation is humiliation. Death and then life. Sorrow and then joy. Weeping and then rejoicing. This is God’s pattern.
He ascended far above all heavens so that He would fill all things. This is a way of saying that Jesus Christ is in control of everything that is.
He is the great gift giver. He fills up His people with benefits.

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  
Jesus gave gifts to the church. We tend to think of gifts as our own personal spiritual gifts. In this instance, the Apostle clearly teaches that Jesus in the one who gives and establishes His ministers in the church for the building up of the body.
There are four distinct offices mentioned here.
1.  Apostles- Apostles are sent ones, particularly sent directly by Jesus. the Apostles were those initial twelve, then Judas who was replaced by Matthias, and then the Apostle Paul to make thirteen. The Apostles were all first hand eye witnesses of the Resurrection. Paul saw the Resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus.
There are no apostles today. However, we might consider someone who is a gifted church planter to be operating in the Apostolic mode.
The twelve signified the true Israel of the last days. This is very interesting if you consider that Paul was the thirteenth apostle. The Israel of the last days included the Gentiles and Paul was Apostle to the Gentiles.

2.  Prophets- There were many prophets in the Old Testament who spoke by divine inspiration. Continuing into the New Testament era, there were both prophets and prophetesses. These spoke the Word of God on several occasions until the Canon was established. This office dramatically decreased in the early Apostolic age and ceased altogether as the Bible was completed.
3.  Evangelists- Philip was said to be an evangelist. He was the one who baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. There are many gifted evangelists today, men who powerfully preach the gospel and are blessed with conversions. 
4.  Pastors and Teachers or Pastor Teachers- This is the most common office. Pastors and teachers or pastor teachers are God’s primary means of ministry in His church.

EXHORDIUM
         Last week we discussed gifts to the church. Those gifts included Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers.
         God has given these gifts to the church so that the church will grow up in Christ.
         There are three specific reasons the Lord has given these gifts.
1.  The perfecting of the saints. He wants us to be perfect, that is mature. 
2.  For the work of ministry. Of the office mentioned, pastors and teachers or pastor teachers is the ordinary office. This is the work of the ministry, shepherding and teaching.

In our form of church government that work is done by shepherds. This is the pastor and ministers but it also includes ruling and teaching elders. 

Ruling Elders- In our churches, ruling elders are those men chosen by the congregation to rule in the church through oversight on the session of elders. As the session of elders, the elders do the work of ministry exercising their authority in the churches.

Some ruling elders also excel in the gifts of teaching. In some of our CREC churches there is no distinction between an elder and a pastor. They are one and the same. In most of our churches, we recognize the difference in the office of pastor or minister as an ordained office requiring both more training and a higher expectation of service in the church. This often means the pastor or minister is set aside to full-time Christian service.

It is helpful if we view these men as gifts to the church. God has given these men to the church to bless the church.

3.  Edifying of the Body of Christ
If the saints are mature. If these men do the work of ministry, the result is that the body of Christ is built up, strengthened, edified.

Exegesis

12, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

The Purpose of Christ’s Gifts
         Why did God give these men?

Three Reasons
1.  Perfect Body-For the perfecting of the saints
2.  To Do the Work of Ministry-for the work of the ministry, 
This includes several things, 1. planting churches (Apostolic) , 2. Preaching (prophetic) 3. Evangelism (declaration of the gospel) 4. Shepherding (Pastors). 5. Discipleship and Theology (Teachers).
3.  To build up the Body- for the edifying of the body of Christ: 
         Perfecting is to perfectly equip. So, the idea here is that these offices are meant to fit the saints for effective ministry, to edify the body of Christ.
         This is spiritual body building. How do we make the body healthy and strong, able to carry on its work without giving up? Through the faithful ministry of the Word and Sacrament.
         
Edifying-Building up. This does not just mean for the good of the body. It refers to the building up of the body. Edifying is that which builds, makes strong, grants endurance, preserves, exhorts, encourages, admonishes, assures.

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
How long will this work of ministry continue?Until we all come in the unity of the faith.
What does this unity look like? Like people who have a true knowledge of the Son of God. They not only know about Jesus, they know Jesus. They are not simply doing theology about Jesus. They are experiencing the grace and peace of Christ.
God calls us to be perfect. This word can mean mature. Of course, we will not be perfect in the sense of sinless in the body, until the Resurrection from the dead. But we can be mature and the Lord expects us to be mature. He expects us to grow up in the faith. This growing up will particularly look like the body being built up, speaking the truth in love, exhorting and encouraging one another. It will look like raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It will look like showing your faith to your children so that they imitate your good behavior in Jesus Christ. It will look like knowing what the Bible teaches and settling down on doctrines so that you are not tossed here and there by cunning men who can make nearly anything sound plausible to the weak.

What is the measure of the stature of Jesus Christ?
He already prayed this for us, remember? That we should 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints whatisthe breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
We need to know more about Jesus. Who is Jesus? What has He done for us? Why did He come to the Earth? Was He really human? Was He really God? Why did He have to die? What is the importance of the Resurrection? Where is Jesus now? What is He doing now? What is Jesus’s plan for the world? What is our place in Him during His current reign? These are all questions that you should know the answer to. If you do not, then you are not mature and measuring up to the knowledge of Jesus.
In this church we have people at all stages of maturity in Christ, from little babes to those who are seasoned with knowledge and experience. But the real measure of maturity is steadfast obedience. Paul is going to get to that in the succeeding chapters. But for now, he sees the connection to maturity in who Christ is, what He has done for us and our response to God’s work in Christ. 
Are you in Christ? Then you are a new creature. The old creature was born in sin and controlled by sin. The new creature is born in the work of Christ and is renewed with might in the inner man to do the works of righteousness.
These are great distinctions.

14 That we henceforthbe no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, andcunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  
Keep in mind that list of questions I asked you about Jesus. Who is He? What has He done? What does it mean for us? I would add some more. What is the Bible about? What is the connection that runs through the entire Old Testament and the New? How does God work out His plans in real time? What does this mean for us at this stage of the church age?

If you cannot quickly and clearly answer the questions I just asked then you are immature in the faith. That is not all bad. We are called in one sense to have a childlike faith, right? We are to simply trust Jesus, the way a little child trusts his parents. But we don’t want to send an 18 year old out in the world with the simple trusting mind of an 8 year old. He is a mark for every shyster in the land. They know that there is a sucker born every day and they are looking for one to pull a fast one on. Your children need to be brought up to wisdom so that they can stand on their own apart from your telling them every decision.
The same is true in our faith. We enter into Christ with a simple childlike faith. Good so far. But we don’t stay there. We do not trust every spirit. We test the spirits to see if they are from God. But how do we know? We learn the Scriptures. We learn what Christ has revealed in the world. We are not easily taken in because we are growing up into Christ. We learn Christ so that we tell the counterfeit. We learn our shepherds voice and are not easily swayed. We grow up to solid food and don’t keep turning back to milk.

EXHORTATION
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, evenChrist:  16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

What is it to grow up into Christ?
Speak the truth in love- Folks, please pay attention. We are people of the truth. We should never be afraid of the truth, whether it comes directly from the Scriptures or from a wise and caring friend, spouse or child.
It has been said that the truth hurts. And it can. Truth has hard edges. 

Truth says this is true and that is false. 
Example- God is Trinitarian, Father, Son and Spirit- so Allah cannot be God.

Truth says that this is right and that is wrongExample- A man and woman make a marriage and a man and man is a mirage. It is not simply somehow not the best or icky somehow, it is wrong in God’s eyes. It is sinful.

Truth speaks plainly and directly- Your behavior is sinful. You must stop getting drunk. You must not be angry with your wife and kids. You must stop gossiping or grumbling or complaining, about your husband, friends or family. You must stop complaining and start being thankful.
Truth is clear and not muddled- The truth of Christ is for all men everywhere.God’s ways and God’s truths are not relative. That is, true for some and not true for others in other places or other cultures. If fornication is a sin, then it is a sin in every culture in every country for every person on the Earth. If worshipping idols is a sin, then it is a sin for the Hindu as well as the Christian. God’s truths are absolute.
God’s Truths are eternal- One way to say this is the timeless truths of God. God is not old fashioned. He is ever present and current, so is His Word. We live in an age that likes to think itself hip and modern. The President constantly refers to this as scientific. This is an attempt to downplay the ancient truths of God’s Word and replace them with an evolutionary relativity. It goes something like this. “That may have been true in the 15thCentury, but science has shown us the light of truth for today.” 
But God’s truths are not pushed around by the shifting sands of science. They are solid and steadfast. Science can help establish them but when science and God’s clear truths are in conflict, the mature Christian always stays with God’s truths. It is clear, not muddled, not bounded by time or science.

Truth has all of these aspects and we are not being mature if we hear these things and shrink from them. If we do so, we are afraid of the truth. We can be bold about the truth. We can stand fast on the truth. And we must stand on God’s truth and resist every form of a lie.
At times, this may look pig headed. It may look arrogant. It may look proud. But looks can be deceiving. If you are in submission to God’s Word and His truth, then you are not being pig headed, arrogant or prideful. You are willing to change your view if you can be shown that you have mistaken God’s view.
However, God puts a wonderful check on us in the way that we speak truth. To avoid a haughty use of truth, He commands that we speak in love.

But Truth does not just speak by itself. 

It speaks in love.

True
Islam is a lie.
Homosexual behavior is sinful.
Complaining and grumbling is an offence to God.

But how do we say these things in love?
Islam is a lie, therefore we call on Muslims to turn from the darkness to the light of Jesus. Repent and receive the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The Homosexual lie is an ancient one. Some in the Scriptures were caught in it but turned to Jesus and were washed and healed. There is grace in Christ so come to him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle against continuing sins, drunkenness, anger, complaining, bitterness: there is grace in Jesus and a place of strength and maturity. You can be delivered from such sins and you can grow up into the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.
These are loving words and we should be pleased to speak them in the name of Jesus that me might be delivered from the lie and walk in the truth. If the body is able to speak the truth in love then they are growing up into Jesus Christ.
The truth in love is not defensive. It knows who it is. It is comfortable in its own skin. Because the body knows that its main goal is to love and please Jesus, then it is hard to offend and easy to forgive. That is the truth operating in love.
         So, let us heed these words and grow up in Christ.

Measuring Up To Christ

We are to be filled up with the knowledge of the Son of God until we come to the full measure of the stature of Christ. We need to measure up to His work in us.
What does this mean? It means that we need to know our spiritual need for Jesus and that He has provided for our every spiritual need. It means that as we come to Him, He transforms us into His image so that we learn to love Him and His people the way that we should. It means that we come to the unity of the faith so that we can build one another up in the love of Christ, speaking the truth to one another in love. 
         How do you measure up to Christ? By humbling yourself before Him, receiving His body and blood given for you and then rejoicing in His work in the lives of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is what it means to grow up in Christ.

Communion Prep

Almighty God, we thank You for inviting us to sup with You at this Table of the Lord. We remember the faithfulness of Jesus, even to death on a cross, that He might adorn His bride and make her beautiful, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. As we eat and drink, strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit, that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, that we might lead faithful lives, giving You the honor through our Lord Jesus. Amen.

Thanks

Our Father, we give You thanks for providing for our every need. We give a portion of our substance back to You to acknowledge that all of our substance is blessing from You. O Lord, please use our tithes and offerings to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth. And use us as Your faithful witnesses to proclaim the glory of Jesus Christ to all men everywhere. Amen.

Praise

         O Lord our God, creator of Heaven and Earth and all things visible and invisible, glory to Your name. Your creation is good and You have so loved the world that You gave Your only Son to save it. In Him, we live and move and have our being. We thank You that in Jesus Christ, we are not condemned by our sins but saved from them. Grant us eyes of faith to trust all of Your promises to us and to the world through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Fill us with great hope in Jesus. All glory, laud and honor be unto You, now and ever. Amen.

I Can Do It Myself!

All of us parents know the cuteness of a little one when he exclaims, “I can do it myself!” Of course, to some extent, we encourage this independence. We want them to try. We want them to learn. We even want them to try and to fail at that trying.
The reality is that they cannot do it by themselves. Even if they finally learn to tie their shoes and are able to do it by themselves, they did not get there by themselves. They were taught. They needed someone else.
The illusion of independency is exactly that, an illusion. None of us are independent. We are not independent from God and we are not independent from one another. 
This interdependency is a design feature that reveals the character of God. He is three and one. We are many and one and we cannot do it by ourselves. In our time of need, in our hour of humility, as we are experiencing in many ways right now, we see the reality of our need for God and for one another. We thank Him for His kindness in giving us one another. 

Friday, June 01, 2018

Our National Feast

The Lord promised to make Abraham a great nation. He has done so. The New Testament tells us that all those who have faith like Abraham are children of Abraham. The promises to Abraham always looked forward to the day when God’s promises would be fulfilled in the Earth through Jesus Christ.
         Can we now count the number of God’s people? In the living and the dead, the number is in the many billions, like the stars in the heavens and the sand on the sea. We are that great nation and this meal is our national feast.

Transforming Food

Our Father, we are pleased that You have invited us to Your Table to sit down to this meal with You, with Your Son, and with Your Holy Spirit. As we eat this bread and drink this wine, transform us into the image of Your Son. Remind us that our sins are nailed to the cross and that we are raised to new life in the risen Lord Jesus. Fill us and empower us to live righteous and holy lives through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Thanks

O, Lord our God, we give You thanks for all things, for we know that for us all things work together for good. You grace and kindness is extended to us, even in the midst of sorrows and suffering. You are a good Father and so we rest in Your goodness towards us through Your Son. We give a portion of our earnings to You to express that we give You our whole selves. Build Your kingdom through us we pray. Glory be to You, now and ever. Amen.

God's Forgetfulness

It is good to remember God’s forgetfulness. In reality, He does not forget. He knows all things. But as far as our sins go, if we are found in Christ Jesus, then our Heavenly Father chooses to not remember them against us. 
         It is good for us to confess our news sins to Him. We should always be convicted of our sins and quick to confess and repent. But we should not live in a state of regret reminding ourselves of our past sins. God has cast them away from us as far is the east is from the west and He chooses to no longer hold them against us. We should forget them, too, as we stand before Him in this peaceful state of grace.

Praise

         Our Father, Your Son was with You in the beginning. He was the Word through which You spoke all things into existence. He became flesh and dwelt among us. All things were made by Him and without Him, nothing was made. In Him is life and that life is the light of men. His light shines in the darkness even though men cannot comprehend it. Jesus is the light of the world for every man. Every man that believes on His name is given power to become a son of God. These men, women and children are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but are born by You through the power of Your Holy Spirt. We glorify You for all of this, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2018

God's Memorial

God remembers us like He remembers His promises in the rainbow. It was His memorial, His mnemonic device. He has given other symbols to remember. He looks upon the bread and wine and remembers the obedience of His Son, even to death on a tree. And as He looks at these symbols, He remembers us who are in His Son.
         This meal is not just something that we do to remember God but something that God does to remember us. This should be very encouraging to us. As long as God looks upon these memorials, He will never forget His promises to us. Take courage. Eat and drink knowing that your God in Heaven is a covenant keeping God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He has promised in His own dear Son.

Seated in Heaven

Dear Saints, We have humbled ourselves before God as sinners. We were born as sinners and still sin, even in our state of grace. We must continue to acknowledge that our only hope in life and death is the Lord Jesus Christ. And having done this and having cast all our sins on Him on the cross, we rise up before the Lord cleansed in the blood of Christ.
Thus, the Father receives us and bids us to stand before Him and draw near. He proclaims us His children and is glad to receive us into His presence with rejoicing. He has prepared the perfect lamb and bids us to a feast of rejoicing. We were not fit even to be servants of the Lord but He has made us sons and daughters. He has seated us with Jesus at His own right hand and pronounced upon us an eternity of blessing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Ten Words

We like to flatter ourselves that we are not like the other sinners. We might do little sins but not the big ones, stealing, adultery, idolatry. But the Ten Words really cover all sins. To some degree, we have sinned in these big ways. Jesus said that to look upon a woman with lust in your heart is to commit fornication. He also said that anger at your brother is murder in the heart. 
We erect idols, tell great big little white lies, steal ideas and time and time really is money. We make light of the day of worship. We show disrespect and dishonor to our parents and to others to whom honor is due. We do a lot of these sorts of things.
But thanks be to God that grace and truth come through Jesus Christ. He is the truth and when He reveals these truths to us, we do not have to despair. We cling to Him and plead the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for sinners. And God is faithful and just to forgive repentant sinners. So, let’s be that. Saints, that are repentant, forgiven, sinners.

Grace and Truth

We must remember the Lord’s Grace and Truth. We Christians love the truth, even if it sometimes makes us miserable for a time. The truth reveals the glory of the Lord Jesus, the awesome power and holiness of our Father, the comforting and convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
         These things are both wonderful and fearful. God knows the truth about us and that might frighten us. But then we turn to His kindness, grace and mercy in Jesus Christ, and we are comforted and emboldened to come and sit down and eat with the Creator and Lord of the Universe. 
         We love the truth because Jesus, Himself, is the way, the truth and the life. And in His name, the truth of God’s grace is manifested in us in great glory.