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.

Confession of Sin

Scripture of Confession: Proverbs 9:17-18 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
Prayer of Confession (congregation shall kneel, if able)
Minister: Let us confess together.
Corporate Prayer of ConfessionOur Father, forgive us for our secret sins that we hide from others and think we can hide from You. Convict us by Your Holy Spirit, that we might hate our sins, turn from them, and turn from death to life as we turn to our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Things Leading to Death

We often recoil from the law. We are afraid of the policeman because we know he can find something that we are doing illegally. When it comes to God’s law, we shrink away for the same reason. Any thorough examination from God will reveal things leading to death.
          But God’s prescription for dealing with deadly poison in our hearts is to remove it to produce life and health. Why would you insist on clinging to those things that only give immediate pleasure and surely result in long-term sickness? In reality, there are many reasons. We like our pleasures. We like our sins. We don’t think about where they lead. We don’t care what God thinks. We are simply foolish. We bank on Gods’ forgiveness in the future, not knowing that our hearts will be too hard by then to even seek His forgiveness.
Whatever the reason is, it is not reasonable. The only truly reasonable response is to forsake those things leading to death and embrace the love of God in Christ Jesus. Repent, therefore, and turn to the Lord.

Praise

O Lord God, maker of Heaven and Earth, we rejoice in this Easter Season that the Lord Jesus has risen from the dead. That same Spirit that raised Christ up, also dwells in the midst of Your people, granting us life and joy. We glorify Your Holy name. Attend unto our worship, prayers, singing, bible reading, preaching and communion. Grant us abundant life in Jesus Christ and joy overflowing in Your Holy Spirit. We give You all glory, power and praise, both now and forever more. Amen.

Monday, May 20, 2019

God's Provision

We know that God is our provider. We have food, drink, shelter, transportation, all things needful for life. If we are paying attention, we realize that God is the One who sustains us in all of these things.

He provides for our physical needs but He doesn’t stop there. He provides forgiveness, restoration, healing of the soul, joy, peace. To wit, all the internal spiritual needs.

Jesus Christ has paid the price to save you from your sins. He has risen from the dead to grant you new life in Him. He has sent His Holy Spirit so that you might walk in this newness of life in an obedient manner. We shall not continue in sin but if we sin, we have an advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is slow to anger and quick to forgive sins.

There is no need in this life or in the one to come that has not been fully provided by our kind, gracious, promise keeping God. Trust in Him and rest in peace and joy.

Confession of Sin

Luke 24:5-6 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.

Our Father, the one in whom there is life and who raises the dead, forgive us for remaining perplexed about Your power and might. Remove all of our doubt and unbelief and grant us faith to clearly see the risen Lord Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to repent and turn from sins and turn our faces towards our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Those Named Christian

Today, we baptize a little one and name him Christian. For all of you named Christian, the promises of God are held out to you. Are you weak? Sinful? Distressed? Heavy laden? Happy? Fulfilled? Doubting? Strong? Unsure? Confident? Needy? Self-sufficient? 
         It doesn’t matter how you feel today about God’s promises, or whether this is a good day in sanctification or a bad one. God is ever faithful and His promises are ever sure. In Christ Jesus the promises of God are always yay and amen. This day His forgiveness is for you. This day His Spirit is for you. This day, all of God’s promises are for you who are named Christian. Receive them with gratitude and joy.

Genesis 24:1-9 Sermon

Genesis 24:1-9
A Good Woman is Hard to Find
May 19, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         In our last section, Sarah died and it was the occasion for Abraham to purchase property and begin to take ownership by purchasing the cave of Macphelah in the land of Canaan. We see this is God’s plan as Hebron is the very place were David begins to rule. Furthermore, after Saul’s death, Hebron is the place where a decisive battle takes place to see whether God had chosen David or Saul. God makes his choice clear in choosing David.
         The title of the sermon, A Good Woman is Hard to Find is not a joke. It is true. Many men have gone astray from following God by choosing a woman that is not faithful. In the subsequent history of Israel, we see that women are often a snare to them. Of course, it takes the sinful lust of the men to fall into such sins. But we should understand the power of women to entice and lead astray. 
         God considers the choice of a spouse a very important matter. This is why one should not choose a spouse simply based upon physical attractions. In the Old Covenant, Israelites were to marry only Israelites. In fact, they were supposed to marry within their own tribe so that the land inheritances were not confused. But they were must marry within the covenant or suffer God’s chastisement.
         Keep in mind that this requirement to marry within the covenant was not simply blood lines. In the Geneology of Christ are Rahab of Jericho and Ruth the Moabite. These women forsook their land and their foreign gods and were joined to Yahweh and His Covenant people. What is proscribed is the sort of thing that Solomon did when he took foreign wives and honored their pagan gods by letting them stay in their religion. He even built them temples to worship false gods.
         I have seen how for the love of a woman, a young man can be challenged to serve God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. If those are the character qualities that she upholds then many young men will rise to the challenge. But such a woman is hard to find and many young men are unwilling to look that hard or wait that long.
         In the history of Israel, we see a great deal of concern about offspring. The Covenant with Abraham begins with the ritual of a covenant sign in circumcision. It is important for us to see why. From God’s perspective, the entire project of His covenant promises is about godly offspring. He has promised to be a faithful husband and is looking for a faithful bride. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Genesis 23:1-20 The Discipline of Faith

Genesis 23:1-20
The Discipline of Faith
May 5, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         There is a lot of laughter surrounding Sarah. God speaks to her about having a baby in her old age and she laughs and unbelieving laugh. She thinks she knows her body better than God. The angel chastises her and she comes around to faith. She gets pregnant at 90 years old and laughs, hardly being able to believe it. Isaac is born and she calls him, ‘he laughs’, knowing that God has done a great thing and given her laughter.
         Abraham laughed when God said he would have a son in his old age. He was disciplined to believe when God spoke. He couldn’t believe it either but it was the laugh as to why would God bless him so, not the laugh of unbelief at God’s ability to do so.
         Sarah and Abraham laughed together at the blessing of Isaac, coming to agree that God had poured His blessing upon them. They believed God and their belief was reckoned as righteousness.
         In chapter 23, Sarah is now quite old, 127 and at the end of her life. God had promised her descendants and land. She had a son, Isaac, who is now 37 years old and yet unmarried. She does not have grandchildren but must believe that what God said He would do, He would fulfill. Sarah and Abraham. still have no land of their own. They are sojourners in a foreign land. And so she must believe God for this promise as well.

Good Friday Homily

Good Friday Homily
4/19/2019
The Good in Good Friday
Lynchburg, Virginia

Prayer of Illumination- O Father in Heaven, we thank You for sending Your Son to die on the cross for us and for our sins. Grant us Your Spirit, we pray, that we might be empowered to fully lay down our lives for You, for our Lord Jesus and Your Holy Spirit. Help us to know and believe that as we lay ourselves down, forsaking our own desires, only then do we truly and fully become all that You desire us to be in Christ. Amen.
         
         This is Good Friday and it is good. We may think of it as Bad Friday for this is the day our Lord was murdered. But He was not simply murdered, His life and potential cut short of doing all that He could or should do. No, He gave His life for sinners and He did so at just the right time and in just the right place. 
Wicked men killed Him but just as the Father had planned. For Acts 4:26-28The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done.
         So, wicked men did wicked deeds but our Father accomplished His good will through them. It was good that it be so. It was good for us that Jesus died on the cross. Otherwise, we would still be dead in our sins.
We understand that we cannot pay for our sins. Only Jesus can do that and He has done so. But we can choose to hold ourselves back from Him or fully give ourselves to Him. 
We will only refuse to give ourselves to Him if we do not believe that He is good and that He desires the very best for us. We might choose to retain our own wisdom, our own freedom, our own desires. But Jesus has died to make man fully man. As long as we refuse Him and hold onto ourselves, then we will never be what God meant us to be. Jesus said, “Mark 8:35For whosoever will save his lifeshall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”
Jesus has died to bring peace between God and man. Jesus has died to bring peace between man and man. All those who have died with Christ on the cross are also those who have been raised with Christ on the third day. But those who refuse to die, who refuse to submit themselves fully to Jesus, will also fail to receive the life that is in Him.
So, we are reminded on this horrible day, we are reminded on this glorious day, that we must die. But we are also reminded that our Father is the Creator of the universe, that He speaks to the darkness and it produces light. He speaks to the weak and they are made strong. He touches the sick and they are healed. He touches the blind and the deaf and the lame and they see and hear and walk. He calls to the dead and they come forth from the tomb and cast off their garments of death and walk into life. 
Our Lord Jesus goes to the cross and we do not fear to go there with Him for He will arise and we will arise with Him. Amen.

Death's Epilogue

We preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. To unbelievers, a scandal and an outrage. To those who are being saved, the power of God.

Why is this? Is death good? No, death is not good. Death is an enemy and the last enemy that will be put to death. Death is a formidable foe. Even though condemned by Jesus’s death, death remains strong. He rattles his sword and attacks even the saints of God.

Death can make dead. But there is one thing that death cannot do. Death cannot make alive again. This is why we Christians do not fear death. He can harm us. He can even kill us. But he cannot keep us dead.

Because Jesus has risen from the dead, there is no more Pharisean/Sadducean debate about the Resurrection of the Dead. The dead do rise and all that are in Christ rise with Christ.
Thus, the Epilogue of Death is “In the end, death died and there was none who could resurrect him. And all those saints he killed, rose from the dead and stood over his grave and laughed at his inability to make alive again.”

Dear Saints, the death of Jesus was our death to the power of sin and death. The Resurrection of Jesus is the power of our life in Resurrection to life.

Disciplined Children

Dear Saints, some children despise their chastening. They do not like it when their father gives them a strong word. Little ones do not like it when their father gives them a spanking. 
         But if you want obedient, well-mannered, strong, happy, content teenagers and young adults, it is necessary to bring a lot of discipline in the early years. That outward fatherly discipline develops inward individual discipline. It is sometimes difficult for men to find the right balance of hardness and mercy, often too harsh or too soft. Not so with God who is the perfect Father.
         We are the children of God. Many of us suffer, even at His hand. He is the sovereign ruler and our father, the one who knows best what we need to be mature Christian men and women. His discipline of us proves that He is our Father. If He left us alone, we would have reason to worry. But He has not done so. Embrace the Lord’s Fatherly, good discipline as His beloved child. Practice this discipline of faith. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Reconciled

Barnabas’s nephew, Mark, was the cause of a bitter separation between Paul and Barnabas. Paul took Silas as his assistant and Barnabas took Mark and they went their separate ways.

But later Paul and John Mark are reconciled and presumably Paul and Barnabas, as well.

These men must have finally realized the need to seek reconciliation because they, themselves, were reconciled to God in Christ.

Col 1:20-22 says we are reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight, if you continue in the faith grounded and settled and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…

This reconciliation of men to God and men to men is accomplished through the body of His flesh through death. The result is that we are presented before God as holy, unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight. That is powerful language.

That is how you sit here in God’s presence, as long as you continue in the faith grounded and settled. You are reconciled. Holy. Blameless. Without reproof. This is the power of the gospel.