Friday, July 29, 2005

Answered Prayer

Some may think this post frivolous and silly. After all, aren’t there worlds to conquer? Why mess with such silly things as catching fish and finding lost wallets? Aren’t those kinds of prayers for our fanatical charismatic brothers? We reformed are far above that form of silliness, we think. We are in to fine points of doctrine, the restoration of the church, the reformation of right worship. Bosh and bother, how goes your faith in the omnipresent and sovereign God? The fact is that the reason we do not perform in the grand things of the Lord is that we cannot perform in the small things first. He who is faithful in a little will be given much. Could it be that our work is small because our faith is small?

I just got back from vacation in Maine and had a hankering to catch a fish in the tidal waters of Middle Bay at Harpswell. Although I am an experienced fishermen, I had no idea what fish were in the bay or how to catch them. So I resorted to prayer. There is an indictment of our view of prayer. We have to ‘resort’ to it. God answered that silly prayer and I caught a beautiful Striped Bass. He was about fourteen inches long, a small one by Striper standards. So, with some audacity but in faith I prayed for a larger catch. By God’s kind providence, He sent another larger fish to find my hook the next day. This fish was not huge either but went about eighteen inches, a fine fish, especially if one is used to catching Smallmouth Bass in little streams.

My son lost his wallet yesterday with all of his hard earned lawn mowing money in it. He was perplexed. He searched the house, his route from his last job and circled the neighborhood without any success in finding his wallet. But there is a God in heaven who sees all. I called in my three year old son to pray that his brother would find his wallet. Ten minutes later, my oldest son came beaming down the stairs with the wallet, which had scooted under his dresser, out of sight to all but One.

God answers prayers, especially prayers of faith, specific and expectant prayers. We rarely pray such prayers because we do not believe. My young son has faith and God blessed Him with an answer so that he would have more faith to pray greater prayers. We have grown up beyond such prayers, beyond such belief. We would do well to learn the lesson. When we do, we will become dangerous. Until then, our faithless, generic prayers will continue to render to us according to our faith.

Eat the Light-Communion thoughts

For several weeks in our communion meal I have been exhorting you to eat and drink Jesus. Why do we do this? One, because it is a sacrament instituted by our Lord Jesus. We do it because He said to do it. And if you have walked with Jesus for any length of time, you have come to realize that He did not give us frivolous things to do. What He tells us to do has reason behind it, even if that reason is somewhat hidden in the mystery of God. It might not fully make sense to us but we have come to know, through faith, that it does to God. An unbeliever cannot be satisfied with such reasoning of belief but that is a truism.

But let us think about what is going on in this eating of Jesus. We have come to understand that sin is lack. It is a want of conformity unto God’s perfection. In words that we can comprehend, it is a lack of light. There is no way to get more light by eliminating darkness. We must eliminate the darkness by getting more light. There is a sense in which, if we have Jesus, we have all of the light. But I believe that is only true in principle and denies the organic world that God has made. In God’s world, light grows. The sun rises but it continues to rise until it fully shines. Jesus is like that with us. If He has risen in your hearts, well and good. But He must continue to rise until He shines at midday. So, we must continue to eat the Light that is Jesus until we are so full of that Light that there is no darkness left. This will take us a lifetime and more and will not come to complete fruition until the resurrection, when Jesus will fill us completely and no darkness will remain. But we come to this meal as a means of seeing the Light, partaking of it and being lit by Jesus. So eat the Light.

Lord's Day EXHORTATION on Faith

John 1:1 and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

What is the beginning of our faith? The Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word. Faith was generated when we heard the Word of God and believed. The Word of the preacher became for us the very words of God. God gave us ears to hear and we did. This is mysterious to us because our dead ears were incapable of hearing on their own. But we did hear and we did have faith and we did believe and now we have come to see that object of our belief is Jesus, Himself, for He is the incarnated Word.

Some of these Words are mysterious for it is hard for us to comprehend how the Second person of the Trinity was in the beginning when our Lord Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, had not yet been born. But the Second person of the Trinity has always been. He was with God in the beginning and He was God. There are many men who get tangled up in all the mystery of the Trinity. They must explain to their philosophical satisfaction. But it is mysterious at its core and beyond us. This is why God invites us to faith. For faith can see what the eyes of the mind cannot. This second person, the Word of God, the creative power of God, has been manifested to us in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. While we do need faith to believe that Jesus is God, it is not faith that sees that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was. We have well attested and accurate writings of his existence, His work, His words, His life, His deeds. It takes faith to move from His life and works to His divinity. But this should not trouble us at all for His works reveal who He is and what He has come to do. The apostles beheld Him, touched Him, saw Him and left us their great witness.

I say all of this to bring our doubts to an end. Jesus did walk the earth. He did do miracles. He is the Son of God. He is the one who was with God and was God at the beginning. The mystery of godliness has been packaged into a Man and dispensed to us in great abundance. Now, the Holy Spirit brings us Jesus, the Light, to light all those who believe and call upon the name of the Lord. These are all great gospel truths. The only question is “Will you believe it?” And the measure of your belief is the Light of God in you, the Word of God spoken and therefore, spoken out of you, the Holy Spirit’s presence in You to work and to do the good pleasure of Jesus Christ, embracing of the Word of God for every form of worship, belief and practical living. All of this so that you do not set the standard of the measure of your faith. But, rather, the standard of the measure of your faith must set us you aright.

I have been urging you on to eat Jesus, just as He did in John 6. This is to believe in Him and do His will. He is mysterious as the pre-existent Son of God, always begotten of the Father, but His will is not mysterious. Do what He said. Believe on His name, love God and love your neighbor, be ye kind one to another. This is the incarnational life of Jesus Christ. In His Name and by His Spirit, do these things and you shall have everlasting life.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Lord's Day EXHORTATION on Marriage

Matt 22:3 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

We have heard many good words regarding marriage. To many these words are very encouraging. Your marriage is good and you can grasp much of what was said. The believing and the doing seems well within reach of where your find yourself.

To some these words are very discouraging. Your marriage is not good. You are not moving one another on in Christ in love and good works. The fact that it ought to be this way makes you feel like a failure and you cannot see any way out of the dilemma.

For those of you who find encouragement and hope in the words, it is because you are like the later guests to whom the Father said Matt 22:8-9 8 … to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. You are encouraged because you have accepted a good invitation. You have believed that the Father of the groom bids you to come and welcome, offers you proper garments for the special event and desires that you enter into the joy of the celebration. So, you come, and you look at all the other guests in their wedding clothes, thinking that they have always been dressed this way. What you don’t see is that the Father gave these beautiful garments to vagabonds and paupers as they entered the door. Nonetheless, you are glad to be here and are determined to make the best of it.

Those of you who are discouraged have either been like those who were bidden but would not come or those who would not dress up for the event. You think more highly of your poor opinion of yourself than the Father’s invitation. This is a self-esteem problem. Too much of it. If the Father bids you come, then come. If the Father offers you finery for the occasion, put it on.
Of course, it is Jesus Christ that we must put on. We do this by believing God’s promises to us. We receive Him by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we believe God this way, we have hope that His opinion of things is much more important than ours. Will you put on Christ? Will you come to the wedding? Will you eat, drink and be merry?

Those of you encouraged by all the words are so because you see God’s promises through your failures. So, you confess your sins, lay hold of Christ and move further up and further in. Those of you discouraged, can only remain so if you refuse to confess your sins, looking at the promises offered to you in Christ. A godly and happy marriage is only as far away as confession, repentance and forgiveness. So do not refuse to do so.

A Faithful Husband-Communion Thoughts

Rev 19:7-9 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

We are not just spectators at the marriage. We are participants. Neither are we the groom’s men nor the bride’s maids. Our role is the bride. Now, this might give some men an awkward feeling, as the Church plays this feminine role. But these words are spirit and they are life.

The purpose of a wedding is to unite two individuals into one. The two people do not cease to exist as individuals but two households do become one, two people are to become single- minded in the pursuit of God and their callings together. The two are to be united as one in the act of conjugal love. This unity is displayed over time as the married couple become more and more like each other. They begin to sound more alike. If they didn’t at the beginning, they begin to look like they go together. And after many years of this, it is unclear whether he is more like her or she is more like him.

This passage from Revelations is remarkable. The bride is arrayed in fine linen and that fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. Our frigid response is often 'hat there is none righteous, no not one.' But that is speaking of one’s own righteousness apart from the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But we are not apart from Jesus Christ. He has taken us as His bride, given us His name and drawn us into close communion with Himself. The bride and groom have become one.This meal represents and presents this truth to us. The Bride and groom become one in flesh. The Church and even individuals in the Church become one flesh with Jesus Christ. We are to eat Him and drink Him, to take Him into ourselves in such a way that our union with Jesus Christ is complete. We are to be more like Him as we learn from Him how to be faithful in all our dealings with Him and with His people. And being a faithful bride, let us rejoice as we receive all the blessings and benefits of having such a faithful husband.