Friday, April 03, 2020

Glorious Gospel

We are sinners. Yes, that’s true. We deserve God’s wrath. Yes, that’s true, too. Even pestilence and plague. 
         But hear the Good News. Hear the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot save yourself. You cannot atone for your sins. Your death will not release you from your sin debt. You cannot live long enough to purge yourself of your own sins.
         But thanks be to God that Jesus Christ can save you. He has atoned for your sins. In His death, your debt to sin and death is paid. He has purged you of your sins.
         And the Lord has been raised from the dead and has raised you in Him to an everlasting life. And one day even your body will be raised from the dead to never die again. We do not fear death for in Christ we ever live, both in this world and in the world to come.

Prayer of Praise

O, Lord our God, You who have formed us in our mother’s womb and it is You who have formed us as the people of God. We will not fear, for You have redeemed us and called us by Your name and claim us for Your own. When we pass through the waters, You are with us. When we go through rivers, they will not overwhelm us. When we walk through fire, we will not be burned. The flame shall not consume us, for You, O Lord our God are the Holy One, who saves us by the name of Jesus, in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Humble Thyself

In the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus and the subsequent response by our civic leaders: president, governor, and mayors, there has been a wide array of opinions. "We have overacted! We have not reacted quickly enough! This is going to be a disaster! This no worse than the seasonal flu. Everyone should stay inside. Everyone should go about their business and let this run its course."
         The reality is that we have no idea what is going to happen. This is true in our ordinary daily lives, as well, but we do not even notice its truth. Although we assume tomorrow will be just like today, the truth is we do not know what tomorrow brings. This crisis may end up being not that big of a deal. It may end up killing millions of people. We don’t know. 
The reality is that our God is in control of all things. Hebrews says that He is a consuming fire. If He just breathes on us one little bit, we wither in abject fear and desperation. A little virus is not too much for Him, either to annihilate it in an instant, or to send it as a purging fire of His rod of discipline, both on His people whom He loves and upon a world that He owns, and is still largely in rebellion to Him.
         Our job is to humble ourselves before Him. As we do so, we run to Him for safety, for only in Him, in Jesus Christ, our Lord, is there any real comfort and peace and everlasting life. Humble yourself before the Lord and find an arbor of rest in Jesus.

Waiting and Fasting

It seems impossible for this shutdown to drag on for months. We won't even be able to do it for weeks. I am encouraged by President Trump's weakening on the shut down even as of yesterday, March 23. As of today, we still have a week to go for the mighty shutdown of 2020. That will get us to March 31. The Governors seem to be advocating for a longer time, shutting down all schools, many businesses and all gatherings over the size of 10. 

The churches have complied, and rightly so. We are good citizens and want to do our best to serve our communities in times of crisis. However, with hindsight, perhaps doing something quite different was best? Perhaps we should have merely strongly warned those at high risk to stay home and try their best to not contract this potent virus? And the rest of us should have soldiered on? That may soon be the reality and will give us great wisdom for the next time, and there will probably be a next time, that this sort of thing happens.

We've got a shutdown this week and I am guessing it will continue for another week after that. But after that....? After that, April 12 is coming. April 12 is Easter and Easter would be the perfect time to emerge from death into Resurrection. 

We are in a fast time. We are fasting from our community of believers. We are fasting from the Lord's Supper and the fellowship of the saints. My prayer is that our fasting would make us hungry. Hungry for the Word of God. Hungry for the Lord's Supper. Hungry for Corporate Worship. Hungry for the lifeline of the Body of Christ. Hungry to give ourselves to one another in Christian love so that the world will see that Christ is among us. 

I am thankful for this fast and I long to feast. Feast on Christ. Feast on the goodness that is His people. Feast in the joy and glory of Resurrection after the fast of death.

God is good.

Easter is Coming!

Everyone Dies




Everyone dies. 
We have all been asking what the mortality rate is for the coronavirus. And there is wild speculation about that. We won't know until the dust settles.
A better question might be, "What is the mortality rate of man?" The answer is 100%. Everyone dies.
Of course, none of us want to die foolishly or needlessly. Although death is an enemy, we do not fear death. And in the end, when our bodies have been resurrected in Christ, and we have been alive for 10,000 years, then whether we lived an extra five minutes or an extra five years is going to be indistinguishable. 
And when we look back at all this panic and fear of the year 2020, we will have a hearty laugh. That is the power of Resurrection. That is the power of an endless life. Look to Christ.
Easter is coming.


Friday, March 20, 2020

Wisdom for Uncertain Times

As a response to the corona virus, I did not do a normal sermon last Sunday. It was mostly Scripture reading that related directly to our issue at hand. I did make a few comments that are not listed here in the written sermon. You can find the recorded version here: https://www.providencekirk.com/sermons



Response to Disaster: Humility, Repentance and Faith
March 15, 2020
Lynchburg, Virginia

Exordium
Not a normal sermon. What is the Lord doing? It is marvelous in our eyes. God is good. He is saving the world. He works all things for good for His people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. So does calamity.

Exegesis (Scripture Reading)
2 Samuel 23- David’s Mighty Men was listed in this chapter. David was strong and the chapter nearly boasts in his strength.

2 Samuel 24:10-17 David’s Census and the Anger of the Lord
The Lord’s Judgment of David’s Sin
10 But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’ ” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” 
15 So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. 16 And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” 

Be Filled

Communion Meditation

Ladies, have you ever worked hard on a recipe and served up a succulent meal, only to have your husband or your children put their noses up at it? No doubt that is a disappointing situation.

Or, perhaps, you served up this scrumptious meal and everyone loved it but your teenage son didn’t say anything at all, he only picked at it for a few minutes. Then, about twenty minutes after dinner, he’s in the fridge and pantry fixing up some cold cereal because he’s says that he is starving.

What, you say? Did I not work hard to produce not only a beautiful meal, but one that was both super yummy and absolutely nutritious? Everyone thought so. Why didn’t you fill yourself up with that dinner like everybody else? He would probably offer some lame excuse, like, “I wasn’t hungry then.”

People, men, women, boys, girls, look at this meal. This is the body and blood of Jesus, given for you. He died on the cross. By His wounds, you are healed. He shed His blood. It covers your sin and shame. This is the meal you have hungered for, you who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Look upon this bread and wine, take and eat and be filled.

Prayer of Confession

This was our prayer of Confession last week on March 15, 2020, only a few days after we realized what a big deal this coronavirus thing was turning out to be.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Minister: Let us confess together. 
Our Father, we confess that we have loved the world and the things of the world. We have sought to be accepted and thought wise by those who despise Your law. We have given approval to those who practice things which You call sins. Turn us again that Your Church in America and throughout the world may be faithful to Your will for us as revealed in Your Word, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Additional Pastoral prayer of Confession- Our Father, we confess that as a nation we are not worthy of Your grace, mercy and kindness. You have granted us Your graces in abundance and we thank You. Out of Your kindness, You have treated us far better than we deserve, granting us Your unmerited favor. We are Your humble servants.
In light of this virus and the chaos that is ensuing in our state, in our nation and around the world, we confess that we are Your people and are fully dependent upon You alone. Deliver us, O Lord.
We confess our sins as Americans, and we, as American Christians, that even many of Your people in Your Church in America and around the world have not been diligent to obey Your Word and are guilty of various national sins, and sins even allowed in Your Church. Among them: worldliness in many ways, an unhealthy consumption of sports, our own financial prowess, our reliance upon the nanny state, ungodly education for our children, abortion on demand, sexual deviancy and confusion, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, lasciviousness, drunkenness and illicit drug use, disrespect of parents and those in authority, failure of wives and mothers in their duties, abdication of husbands and fathers, the failure of ministers to unapologetically preach the whole counsel of God.
Father, forgive us for these and other sins. Grant us repentance. Return Your people to obedience and holiness. Deliver us from this pestilence and grant us health in body and spirit. In Your great wisdom, use this scourge to purify Your people, that we might call the nations to obedience and discipleship, and expand the Kingdom of Christ as countless numbers of people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Use this pandemic to bring the rebellious principalities and powers into conformity to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, both now and forever. Amen.

Don't Justify

One of the prevailing sins of mankind is making excuses for our sins. 'Yes, but she irritated me! Yes, but he laughed at me! Yes, but my father mistreated me! Yes but the pastor ignored me.'
         Now, while it is true that your sister may have bugged you unnecessarily and that man disrespected you and your pastor is not perfect, any ‘yes butting’ is just a way of not taking responsibility for yourself. When other people sin against you, that is no excuse for your sin. That is why the Bible says, ‘Do not return evil for evil.’ There is never an excuse for evil doing.
         In fact, when you attempt to justify yourself, it is the only surefire way to not be justified at all. Our justification is in in the Lord as He declares us not guilty. So, own your sins, all of them. That is the only way to get forgiven for them and to move past them. Any attempt at justifying only causes you to retain your sins as your own right. Why would you do that? Don’t justify, confess and repent and let the Lord justify you.

Monday, August 19, 2019

No Penalty

Our communion service is about eating with God. God watches over us and He draws us to Himself. For some, this is quite scary because they remain in their own flesh. It is right to fear God when your hands and heart are not cleansed by His grace and mercy in Jesus Christ.

But for those of you who have been washed in the waters of baptism and have entered the gate through the blood of Jesus Christ, who are walking by faith in Jesus and confessing and repenting of sins, there is therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The penalty is paid. There is no debt of sin, or guilt or shame.

For such saints, the Communion Table is merely place of wonder and gratitude where we meet God face to face. And when we do, we do so boldly, not because we are so good but because He is. He does not turn away from us but receives us with a smiling visage so that our countenances are changed from sorrow to joy, from fear to rejoicing, from gloom to hope. This is the joy of meeting God face to face.

Face to Face

Jacob wrestled with God and thought it a frightening thing. He said, “I have seen God face to face and yet my life has been delivered.” It is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Were we to insist on a showing with God, we have no hope except in His grace and mercy. But as the Scripture tells us, we have been made free from sin, become servants of God, are made holy and have become recipients of everlasting life.
         How is it possible that we have seen God face to face and yet have survived? Because the scepter of his grace is extended to us through the work of the cross. You are forgiven, and are now invited and welcomed guests to have fellowship with God face to face.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Thanksgiving

Prayer of Thanksgiving
         Our Father, in everything we give You thanks for we know that this is Your will for us in Christ Jesus. We thank You for Him, for Your provision of our earthly needs through work, for the sacred rest of the Lord’s Day, for the privilege of returning a portion of our blessing to You in tithes and offerings, and for making us Your partners in taking the gospel of the Lord Jesus to the very ends of the Earth. Thank You, Father, for all of these things. Amen.

Prayer of Preparation
         Our Father, You have brought us to Your Table as Your welcome and honored guests. This is a privilege for which we are eternally grateful. You have washed us clean in Christ. You have taught us Your Word by the power of Your Holy Spirit and You have prepared a banquet where we get to eat bread and drink wine with the Triune God and the gathered saints. We give You thanks. Amen.

Confession of Sin

SCRIPTURE OF CONFESSION
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Minister: Let us confess together. 
Our Father, we acknowledge that apart from Your work in us, we can do nothing good. Our wicked deeds as well as our outwardly righteous works are filthy rags, tainted with impure motives and selfish desires. We all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Convict us, Father, of our sins, that we may repent and trust entirely in Christ’s work on our behalf. Work in us by Your Holy Spirit that we may do Your good pleasure. Amen.

Fairness Demands With God

The beginning of rivalry is a skewed sense of fairness. We often measure based upon our high estimation of our work and a low estimation of other’s work. Or, we assume motives. We think we are working for the right reasons even if our work is not quite up to snuff. And then, we assume the worst motives in others. They are only blessed financially because they are greedy for gain. They are only advanced in their work because they are willing to climb the corporate ladder. 
         The reality between them and us is often the exact opposite of what we let ourselves believe. So, when we demand fairness from God do not be surprised to see God’s ironic sense of humor kick in. Sometimes He does this because He is bringing sins home to roost in the lives of enemy unbelievers. Sometimes He does this because He loves His children and desires to teach them to grow up by revealing to them their own silliness and immaturity. 
         So, let us rest in God’s blessing to us, resist the temptation to demand to God that childish remain  ‘unfair!’, and let God sort out all the details in the end. If we have fallen into sins of covetousness and envy of our neighbor, then let us soundly repent.

Praise

SCRIPTURE OF PRAISE
Psalm 135:2-3 Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God, praise the Lord, for the Lordis good. Sing praises unto His name, for it is pleasant.
PRAYER OF PRAISE
     O, Lord our God in Heaven, we sing praises to Your Name, for it is pleasant. You have chosen us for Your people, Your peculiar treasure. We know that You are great, the Lord above all gods. You do whatever pleases You in Heaven and on Earth, in the seas and all deeps. You make the clouds to rise at the end of the earth, the lightnings for the rain, and bring forth the wind from Your storehouses. You defeat our enemies and You uphold us with Your right hand. All glory, majesty and power be unto You forever and ever. Amen.   

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Genesis 29 sermon- What Goes Around Comes Around

Genesis 29:1-30
What Goes Around Comes Around
June 30, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXORDIUM
         As we make our way through Genesis, there is a recurring theme that is inescapable. God will have His way no matter who or what is in His way.
         His promises are true and no man can break God’s promise. Even when God threatens to revoke His promise to a particular person or people, He intends to deliver upon His promise.
         That promise is all about the person of Jesus Christ. From the very beginning, it was God’s plan to save the    world and He would have it so.
         So, what does this matter to us? We find ourselves in the midst of life, with all of its joys and sorrows and may have a hard time seeing what God’s macro plans have to do with our micro lives.
         But we ought not to be discouraged by God working His will no matter what man does, as if man didn’t really matter at all. If we think that way, then we have already lost sight of God’s purposes, because it is God’s set plan to save man. And not simply mankind as an abstraction. God sets His love on His own beloved Son and all those named in Him. This is not simply ‘a people’ but rather, particular people with names like Mason James, Edmund Augustine and John Theodore. God loves particular people and His interest is in them in the details.
         The key is for us to understand that God’s ultimate plans to save the world through a redeemer includes the salvation of ourselves and of our children.
         This is the very thing that makes the mess make sense. As we struggle through doubt, ill health, financial troubles, challenging or even wayward children, cultural demise, political strife and many such difficulties, we must see that God is weaving this all into a tapestry that reveals the salvation of the world that includes us, those named in Jesus Christ.
         God’s ultimate purposes are the foundation on which we build particular faith. We can go through the current difficulties, suffering, pain, trials, sicknesses, even death, things the Apostle Paul calls ‘light affliction’ 1 Cor. 4:16-18 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward manis renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding andeternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen aretemporal; but the things which are not seen areeternal.[1]
         You see, we faint not in the immediate trials of life because we understand God’s overarching plan, which includes us. This life we are passing through is temporal but it works in us an eternal weight of glory, which will redound to the glory of God, our chief end.

Leave the Table Full

Before the family meal, everyone is usually quite hungry. The smell of the cooking meal creates more hunger pangs and eager anticipation. It is sometimes difficult to sit down, wait for the hostess to sit, say a prayer of thanksgiving and then orderly pass the trays. We are hungry and want to eat.

But what satisfaction comes when we finally get to partake. The meal is good, the fellowship is sweet. All is restored to peace and joy in the home and we leave the Table full and content. This should be our daily practice.

Let that be a picture of this meal. We come to church weak and maybe even famished. We hunger for the Word, the Spirit and the Father. We wait upon the meal as it prepares then we sit down and say a blessing and eat and drink. Having come to the fount of God, prepared your soul, given thanks and eaten, you will be full of Jesus. You will be content, at peace, and joyful in the Holy Ghost. Everyone likes to go away from the Table full. So, eat and drink by faith so that you will be full of Jesus, His Spirit and His Father. Amen.

Offering and Communion Prayers

Prayer of Thanksgiving
         O Lord our God, maker of heaven and earth, the One in whom we live and move and have our being, we give You thanks for giving us life and health and peace through Jesus Christ, our Savior. We acknowledge that all that we are and all that we possess is from your kindness extended to us through Your own beloved Son. We give You ourselves, all that we are and all that we possess, and we pray that You would use us and our gifts to the glory of Christ, both now and evermore. Receive these tokens of our appreciation, bless and multiply them so that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified in all the earth. Amen.
         
Prayer of Preparation
         Our Father, You thought it wise that Your Son would be bruised for us. He was stricken but not forsaken. You raised Him from the dead and You raised us in Him. We give You thanks that Jesus died for us, to pay that debt that we could never pay. We thank You that He rose for us that we might be justified in Your sight. We thank You that He ascended on high, the ruler over all creation. We thank You for the Holy Spirit that indwells us and gives us life, both to body and to spirit. And we thank You that You keep, sustain and strengthen us through the power of Your Holy Spirit. All glory to You; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

American Sins

Someone recently asked me if it was appropriate to confess sins that we do not personally commit. For example, why do we confess abortion if our people do not have abortions? The answer is that we are not merely individuals. We are interconnected beings. We are Christians, so we are connected to the Church. We are husbands, wives or children so we are connected to a family. We are Americans, so we are connected to our country.
         While we may not be individually guilty of a particular sin, we are connected to a group that is. We are asking God to grant America repentance from various sorts of sins and so it is important for us to identify with America that is thus sinning. 
Therefore, it is good for us to confess our national connection to abortion, gay rights, transgender confusion, feminism, and such things. Some of these sins are even prevalent in the church. As the situation fits, it is right for us to confess and ask God to grant repentance to us personally, to our families, to our church and to the nation. We want His blessing to fall upon us and it cannot do so unless we turn from sin and turn to Him, as individuals, families, churches, states and nations. May God be gracious to us and grant our request.

Praise

Our Father, who art in Heaven, Thrice Holy is Your Name. Holy are You, Father. Holy is Your Son, Jesus. Holy is Your Spirit. We come to worship You aware of Your Holy majesty. We are prone to shrink away from You for we are a people of unclean lips. And yet, we glorify and praise You that through the work of Your Holy Son, You have purified our lips that we might come boldly into Your presence, having been made holy ourselves by the precious blood of Jesus and filled with Your Holy Spirit. We give You the glory and we sing Your praises now and evermore. Amen.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Genesis 28 Sermon-Bread, Raiment and Peace

Genesis 28:1-22
Bread, Raiment and Peace
June 23, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXORDIUM
         Our Lord has promised to take care of us. He keeps His promises. We have not seen the righteous begging for bread. The fact that God promises to take care of us is one good reason to walk in faith. Of course, the Lord provides food, drink and shelter for us, the basic necessities of the human body. But His general promises are also true. Those who serve Him know that you reap what you sow. If you work hard, the Lord provides a bountiful harvest. If you trust Him with your riches, particularly in tithing, then you always have enough money. If you trust Him with your time, particularly by setting aside one day in seven as a Sabbath to the Lord, then you always have enough time to accomplish whatever the Lord has called you to.
         But we do not serve the Lord merely for what He can provide for us. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. But He keeps His own in perfect peace.

EXEGESIS
28 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother.
Isaac has now come to his senses and seeks to bless Jacob. He knows that Rebekah is right concerning Esua’s wives. They are a grief and are the potential downfall of the family. Furthermore, Esau is plotting the murder of Jacob, so Rebekah is planning his escape to safety.
It seems that Isaac is still not willing to hold Esau accountable. If he did, Rebekah would be able to reveal the plot against Jacob and Isaac could set Esau straight, send him away, or strengthen Jacob to protect himself. Instead, Jacob is driven away and Esau remains in the good graces of his father.

All Provision

Jacob was after food, clothing and peace. These are three necessities. Maybe we do not see peace that way but it is. God has provided for us through His Son. He promises to provide our physical needs. He gives us food, clothing, shelter. And sometimes we only think of these sorts of things as needs. Without them we die.

But without peace we also die. If you are not at peace with God, then you are at war with Him and that is always a losing proposition. But thanks be to God that He has provided a way of peace with Him through His own beloved Son. He sends His Holy Spirit to give us a spirit of peace that passes all understanding. 

In the world you will have tribulation but we know that He has overcome the world, and that gives us a peace that know man can take from us. Peace with God has given us an inner peace without which we could not be.

Sinless in Jesus

Dear Saints, we know we sin and our sins often rise up before us and condemn us. We are infected with a guilty conscience and feel the need to do penance to cleanse ourselves. The problem is that penance won’t cleanse you. If anything, it only condemns you more because your penance is also faulty.
         We shrink from the thought that we are sinless in Jesus. We even resist it thinking if we go there then we might even sin more. God forbid! But the reality is that Jesus has purged your sins. He has forgiven you and presented you to His Father as one who can rightly, even worthily stand before Him. The Father sees you as sinless because you stand here in the name of His sinless Son, Jesus. Think on that. Breathe a sigh of relief. Be filled with joy in the Holy Ghost. Give God the glory.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Genesis 26:34-27:46
Jacob Have I Hated
June 16, 2013
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXORDIUM
         The Word of God should lead us, not our own desires, the cultural expectations, or what we simply think is best. When the Word is clear, we must obey. 
In this chapter, we see that Isaac has grown old. His senses are weak. He is blind and his sense of touch and smell are weakened. He hears okay but is reduced enough to not believe his ears.
Isaac was about to sin against the command of God. His wife, Rebekah, had her eyes upon God’s covenant promises and hatches a plot to keep Isaac from forfeiting God’s blessing.
We can see from the narrative in this chapter and the next that Rebekah’s plan worked and that Isaac came to his senses.
Rebekah and Jacob are often condemned for this plot. Remember that Jacob obeys his mother here. Remember also that if the plot fails and Isaac issues a curse to Jacob instead of a blessing, that Rebekah is willing for the curse to fall upon her and not Jacob. 
Given the level of deception to secure this blessing, it is also clear that Isaac could have reversed his action. He could have said, “Let the blessing I gave to Jacob not fall upon Esau and let Jacob, the deceiver be accursed.” He does not do this. Why? Because he realized that Rebekah and Jacob were right and that his blessing was rightly placed on Jacob and not on Esau.
         So, does the end justify the means? Does the outcome of bringing Isaac to his senses, negate the deceit of Rebekah and Jacob towards Isaac? I don’t think it should be looked at in that way. This was an extreme measure to keep Isaac from crossing God. The text does not give us more details about the prior conversations of Rebekah and Isaac about which of the sons should be the son of promise, but her actions reveal that she thought she had no other options.
          Can you imagine a modern day example for a moment? Imagine a family with a vast estate. They have thousands of acres, many thousands of cattle, hundreds of employees and a billion dollars in the bank. They have two sons, one a wastrel and insolent towards his parents and the blessings of his life. The other has paid attention to his mother, who manages the estate, and has a keen eye towards the management of flocks and herds. The father connects to the wastrel and the mother to the faithful son. She knows that the older son would destroy them. What should she do? The father will not hear her mind in the matter even though he knows his wastrel son will destroy all they have built. Such a woman might take extreme measures to protect the property from such a son.  And she would be right to do so.

God's Blessing on You

How can you be more blessed than to be in God’s presence, forever, cleansed from sin, clothed in white and seated at His Table? The answer? You cannot.

Today is Father’s Day and a good day to remember our Father, who is in Heaven. He is the perfect Father. Though we have failed Him many times, He does not hold it against us. He provides a way for us to come to Him, to sit with Him, to receive His blessing. He is full of forgiveness and eager to pour out His bounty upon us. 

Through His own beloved Son, He has made us worthy partakers of His blessing. He blesses us as He blesses Jesus, the One in whom He is well pleased. A child is content when he is welcomed and blessed at his father’s table. This is you. You have come to receive the blessing from the Father and the Son. His Holy Spirit rests upon you. Give thanks.

The Need for Cleansing

For some, confession is merely going through the motions. Because we think we are better than the next man or woman, then we give ourselves a pass. But what if we compare ourselves to God, the Father? Or to His Holy Son, Jesus? Or, to the Holy Spirit. God, in His perfections is Holy, the One who dwells in unapproachable light. 
         Our entire worship service is based upon how we approach a Holy God. Isaiah was concerned that he was going to die because He had seen the One Holy God. Beware saint, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. Such ground ought not to be defiled and where it is there is a great cost. A life must be given for such sacrilege. 
         Do you see this need? Do you come to God carefully? And only in the name of His Son, Jesus who died for You? And by the power of His Holy Spirit who gives you life? 
         Come to God respectfully in the name of His Son and receive the bounty of His blessing of forgiveness. Come to Him in your own name of comparative virtue and receive your just punishment. Choose, rather, to bow the knee to Jesus.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Genesis 26 Sermon, Wells of Salvation



Genesis 26:1-33
Wells of Salvation
June 9, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
Isaac leaves the land in which he was dwelling in the face of a great famine. The crops had failed in the midst of a dearth of rain and there was not enough food to preserve them. In the land of his wandering, he finds water, the source of life. 
But he is hard pressed by the enemies of God. They claim his water without doing the work to dig the well. Isaac moves on trying to find peace and rest only to find more trouble.
God intervenes on his behalf, and uses the occasion of the lust of the Philistines to plunder them and bring great riches and wealth to Isaac.
In this land, God provides a well of springing water. Isaac sows and the blessing of God provides a one hundred fold increase. 
These stories of God’s provision of water should remind us of what water symbolizes. 
John says, “I baptize you with water but one is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John 1:29-34 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which ||taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.[1]

EXEGESIS
26 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
Moses points out that this is a different famine than the one in Abraham’s day. The reason seems clear, that this story is so similar to the previous story of Abraham, that he doesn’t want to be confused and conflate them.

Living Water

From the side of Jesus flowed the water and the blood. Whomever the blood has covered, the waters come and wash and give life.

Jesus is the Temple of God and His water flows from His side. At first it is but a trickle and only waters 12 thirsty souls. But soon 120 are able to drink deeply, then 3000, then 5000 and finally a great multitude that no one can count. 

From Jerusalem to the ends of the Earth, the water and the blood flow, washing and giving life, so that all the world will live in the living waters.

We partake of Jesus, the water and the blood. We are cleansed in the blood, washed in the water, and filled with life giving power of His Holy Spirit. We give Him thanks.

Assurance

Romans 8:14-15 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Words of Assurance- Sons and Daughters
         Remember what Peter said on the day of Pentecost, For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” This is nothing less than the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. By this Spirit we are made children of God, who are overjoyed at being adopted into the Triune Name. Thus, we call God, our Father, our Abba. He is our beloved Father and we are His beloved children.
         All of the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the provision of the wells of water that sustained life, were pictures of God’s promise to us to send us His Holy Spirit that we might have life and that life abundantly. Jesus has come, he has died, he has suffered. He has risen again and poured out the waters of the Spirit upon your heads. Rejoice you are forgiven!

Praise

SCRIPTURE OF PRAISE
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

PRAYER OF PRAISE
         Our Father in Heaven, we glorify Your Holy Name. We praise You for sending Your Spirit and giving us voices to utter Your praises so that we might call upon the name of the Lord Jesus and be saved. You have granted us rivers of living waters that flow from the precious side of Your only begotten Son. Your Spirit has filled the temple and Your people are gathered to sing of Your glory, majesty, honor and might. We lift Your name, the name above all names, and pray that all men everywhere will humble themselves and call upon the name of the Lord. Amen!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Genesis 25:1-34

Genesis 25:1-34
Stomach Thinker
June 2, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         There is a great deal going on in this chapter. Isaac is now married, comforted after the death of his mother. Rebekah has become the new matriarch of the family. Abraham is reinvigorated after Isaac’s marriage and takes a new wife, Keturah, at the ripe old 140. He has six sons with Keturah.
         Rebekah and Isaac are married for twenty years but have no children. Like her mother-in-law, Sarah, that she never knew, Rebekah is also barren. It is important that these women must rely upon God for their offspring. God wants us to know without a doubt that His works come about by promise and by the Spirit and not by the arm of the flesh. 
         Isaac prays to God for Rebekah and God hears him and answers her prayer and Rebekah conceives. But the boys struggle within her, vying for the preference of their mother, even before they are born. A prophecy is given that the older will serve the younger. Again, a recapitulation of Ishmael, the eldest and first born of Abraham, who must serve the younger Isaac.
         Ishmael was a covenant member and yet Isaac was chosen because the seed would come from Sarah and not Hagar. In this story, Jacob and Esau are both delivered of the chosen mother of the faithful. And yet one of them is a son of the flesh and one of them a son of the spirit. 
         It is not remarkable that any are condemned but that any are saved. It is not unjust that God would choose Jacob and overlook Esau. God’s grace and mercy are extended to whomsoever He pleases. It is never unjust when mercies are extended by God. God’s justice would condemn all. His mercies flow from His graciousness. It does no good to claim they are unfair. Rather, repent of your sin and receive His mercies.

Died, Rose, Ascended, Enthroned

The culmination of the gospel is realized in the Ascension and Enthronement of Jesus Christ. He is now the rightful ruler of Heaven and Earth. As our new Adam, He has accomplished everything to make man what he is supposed to be.

In His death, He paid for our sins. And He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, thus setting us at peace with the Father and with the Son. He gladly gives us His Holy Spirit, that same Spirit that raised Him from the dead, so that we can now live in His life.

He has raised us into the heavenlies, seating us at the right hand of the Father. All the promises of God to Jesus are now also our precious possession. We come with gratitude to thank the Lord for dying for our sins, for rising for our justification, for ruling over us benevolently, and for sending His Spirit upon us so that we know that He is always with us. Glory to God in the highest. Amen.

Praise

SCRIPTURE OF PRAISE
Luke 24:48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

PRAYER OF PRAISE
         Our Father, we thank You that You have raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and have seated Him at Your right hand from where He rules over all things. We thank You for choosing us in Him even before the foundation of the world. In Your wisdom, You determined that He would come and die for Your people at just the right time. And now, He has breathed the breath of life into Your people, granting us Your Holy Spirit, so that we might live in the mighty power of God. In the name of Jesus, we praise You for all Your glorious works. Amen.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Genesis 24:10-67 Sermon

Genesis 24:10-67
Mother of Millions
May 26, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         This is the continuation of the story of Isaac and Rebekah. Last week, we looked at Abraham’s insistence on finding a bride for Isaac that was a worshipper of the one true God. Abraham had faith that God would deliver.
         Abraham’s servant was willing to go but lacked the faith of Abraham. The Bible goes into great detail about this story. We should not skip over the sections of the Bible where God has decided to reveal a bunch of little details to us. He does so in this section.
         Abraham’s servant saddles up the camels and heads out on his expedition. No doubt, this was done with a great deal of pomp and expectation. As he leaves city, he is probably nervous but excited. The farther he got from home, the more unlikely the outcome began to settle in. Why all this fuss? Why so far away? We might not even find them. If we do, it is unlikely to work out. There won’t be a woman who is a match. She won’t be willing to go. My master will be cross with me. God’s curse will find me. 
         I can imagine all of these thoughts assailing Eliezer. By the time he arrives in Haran, he is certain about the impossibility of the outcome. That is right where the Lord wanted him.

A Loved Bride

The Bible is all about marriage. From the very first pages of the Bible a man takes a bride and the two of them are called to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. This is the main story line of the Bible.

Unfortunately, the bride is less than perfect and easily believes the lies of the devil. The man, and many subsequent men, fail in their roles as husbands, the children are often a mess and the outcome is marriages that are not a good paradigm of godly fruitfulness.

In our passage today, another man, another husband, Isaac, chooses to love another bride, Rebekah. These two should also cause us to remember God’s prescription to fill the earth with godly offspring. They are blessed of God and part of His plan to fill the earth, but they fail, too, and we keep looking for the faithful groom and the faithful bride.

And yet, God is faithful. He provides the perfect bridegroom, who gives himself for the bride, whose job it is to make her perfect, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. And that bridegroom and that bride produce millions of millions of faithful children, as many as the stars in the sky or the sand upon the seashore. A loved bride is a beautiful thing and that is exactly what we are as we are gathered here at this glorious wedding feast, the marriage supper of the lamb.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Preparation for Communion

Prayer of Thanksgiving
         Our Father, we thank You that You have not forsaken Christ but have raised Him from the dead. And we know that You will not leave or forsake us, but that You have granted us new life and have promised to provide for our every need, even each day our daily bread. We give You thanks and pray that You would increase Your blessing upon us that we might give all the glory to You, now and ever. Amen.

Prayer of Preparation
Gracious and merciful Father, You are slow to anger and quick to forgive sins. You have forgiven us and invited us to be seated at Your great banqueting table. We give You thanks. As we eat and drink this meal, we ask You to fill us with Your Holy Spirit, increase our faith, empower us to good works in Christ, expand our love for You and for all of Your people. Bless us in the eating of this bread and in the drinking of this cup of blessing, we pray. Amen.