Sunday, December 03, 2006

Prepare Ye the Way

Mark 1:1-3 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

The prophet John went before the Lord, commanding men to repent and to be baptized for the remission of their sins. This was preparation for the Lord to draw near. For only humbled men can abide Jesus Christ. This was both a grace and a warning to them. When Jesus comes to those who are hard of heart and unwilling to repent, He comes on that terrible day. But when He comes to those who have been softened by the Word of God’s prophets to recognize their sinfulness and abhor every way that separates them from their Holy God, He comes on that great and notable day.

So, you too, have been prepared. You have been called to worship the One true God. You have confessed your sins. You have had the Word of God read and declared to You. All of this is wonderful but also humbling for we realize that these things are too high for us, we cannot attain to them. We fall short of the glory of our God. So, we lay ourselves down upon His mercy and in this humiliation, our gracious God is glad to lift us up.

The paths are straight. The Lord Jesus comes and He bids you come to Him. His mercies are new. His face is towards those who long to see Him. Though your eyes be downcast in humility, Jesus will look upon you and take away that shame. He now bids You to look to Him in the joy of forgiveness and sweet communion. We were in the wilderness, but no longer. The king is here. The banquet is set. The guests have arrived. So, let us eat.

The Christian Year

As I mentioned last week in the exhortation, one of our goals in this church is that we learn to think like Christians. Today is the first Sunday of Advent. This is the beginning of the Christian calendar. We have too long been formed by the calendar of those who do not see Christ as the centerpiece of history, the point from which all times should be counted. But He is and though the world try to erase the memory of Christ in the Common Era, C. E., they cannot do so.

After all, in every nation on Earth, the calendar is counted reckoning the years according to our God’s Sovereign rule in Christ Jesus, the Lord. Some nations try to count the year according to their prophets but all the world knows the truth. And even these pagan and Islamic countries are made to trade and meet, the world over in the A.D. It is the year, 2006. More precisely it is A.D., Anno Domini, the Year of the Lord, 2006. Jesus has been reigning these 2006 years, glory be to God. And it will remain A.D., world without end. How blessed we are to begin counting another year of Jesus’ reign.

God has made great promises to us and He is not slow in delivering them. However, some cannot bide the Lord’s timing. They are impatient and do not believe and trust that the Lord will do that which He said that He would do. They mistake His delay for lack of concern, or for a failure on His part. But we are not to be like this. It is A.D, 2006. Another year of Jesus’ reign, A.D, 2007, will bring another year of the establishment of His kingdom. Can we not see what He has done in the world? Can we not anticipate what He will do as He continues to reign?

Let us put aside all unbelief. Let us believe the heralds of God who have made His promises known. Let us confess our lack of faith and trust in His power to do so.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Exhortation-Thinking Like a Christian

One of the issues that we try to emphasize in our church is thinking like a Christian. That is much easier said than done. All around us there is an attempt to get us to think like the world. And this attempt is often more successful than we like to admit. We often raise alarms against the attempts. We are disgusted by the world’s systems and its desire to allure us into its clutches. All around us are images, sounds, smells and tastes that draw us in, that frame our way of thinking. It feels worldly but we are so caught up in the center of it, that we are often unable to tell what exactly it is that feels so worldly.

I believe that the reason this is the case is because we have not been trained to think like Christians. From our earliest days, we have been programmed to think according to our culture. If our culture is particularly Christian, then our tendencies lean in that direction. If our culture lurches away from the Christian faith, then Christians lurch with it towards the world. It is a true lurching but since the entire center shifts, Christians find themselves at the right of what use to be the left. This is true of conservative politics, as well. What we now call moderate conservatives, would have been the right wing liberals just fifty years ago. Many modern conservatives are pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-big government. What we now call a conservative, isn’t.

This sort of thing is rapidly sweeping modern evangelicalism in America. Modern evangelicals are beginning to embrace (perhaps already have embraced), the extreme relativism of the liberal movement of the 1920’s. Gresham Machen articulated this clearly in his book Christianity & Liberalism, first published in 1923. He outlines liberalism as a rejection of historic Christianity. This is significant because Machen was attacking the prevailing views of his own denomination. He was a Presbyterian. It appears that his fight was with the creeping scientism of his day. That is, science trumps the infallibility of Scripture, so we better get our doctrines lined up with science. Out with miracles, then, the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus must go.

Today, even science is not king. In my opinion, culture is now king. Our authorities have become teenagers with an attitude. And this adolescence is drinking at the fountain of youth, so the teenager does not grow up when he hits 20. At 30, 40, and 50, he is still cool.

But what is culture? Well, a loose definition is simply what a given group of people in fact believe and practice. So, you could have any number of cultures, vast or broad. A national culture, a local church culture, a family culture and so on. What strikes me as odd in this, is that there seems to be no driving mechanism of our current culture. This is as true in the political realm as it is in the church. The shifting nature of the culture is the determinate factor of the next shift. It is like an ocean liner adrift without engines or a rudder. It simply blows where it will and wherever it blows is somehow, inexplicably, declared the right place to be. Perhaps it is not culture, per se, that drives the ship but, rather, the logical end of strict democratic government. The people have become god.

This is what happens to a culture that sails without a destination, without a map, without a navigational system, without a captain. In our culture, when the mapmakers actually do arrive, they get hooted out as representing a place that either cannot be a real place or one that certainly can never actually be achieved. So, out with the mapmaker and his map. Back to sailing, if you can call it that, at the mercy of the winds. The fates again direct the aimless wandering of the ill-fated crew.

The modern evangelical church is no help. At the risk of getting tossed off the ship, instead of maps, they offer advice. Their advice is appreciated, sort of, but never followed and the ship continues wandering aimlessly.

I started this exhortation thinking about thinking like a Christian. How do we do that? We are all on this ship. It is going where it is going. We cannot get off. What do we do? We need a new culture but we cannot change the one we are in.

So, we must grow a new one from within. We must be subversive in the greatest possible way. We must overthrow the crew. As long as the ship is sailed by the captain’s orders, and it always is, total victory is our only recourse. We offer a simply solution. Look at the map. Steer the ship. Arrive at port. But we have an advantage over our adversaries. We have time. We have homes. We have spouses. We have children. We can teach our children to read maps. We can raise a new captain. We can get to port.

We have begun this task. We are raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We have high expectations of our children, of our marriages, and of honoring God in our worship. We are learning the Word of God and that it applies to every area of life, church, family, work, government, cooking, art, education, and recreation. We reject every form of liberalism, changing the Word of God to suit man. Christ came to make us new, to renew us and to change us into His image. He inaugurated a New Heavens and a New Earth. Behold all things are made new. Therefore, we reject liberalism, conservatism, evangelicalism and every other ism. For all isms are merely new gods in old clothes. But we stand on the authority of the Word of God, inspired, infallible and able to change body and soul into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our culture has too long had a strangle hold on us. By God’s grace, we are prying its death grip from the throats of our children. May He teach us, and them, to rise above the prevailing wisdom of the day, to a bolder and higher calling. But not one that is couched merely in such politically sounding meaningless words as that last sentence. No, our calling is in Christ and Him crucified. His death is the only hope of life for such a hopeless culture. Our meandering must stop as we anchor to Him. Perhaps, by His grace, He will sink the ship we are on, baptizing it to new life and set it sailing again, powered by the Holy Spirit, directed toward the port of last call, Eschaton Bay. They are building a cathedral there.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Exhortation-Give Thanks

Dear brothers and sisters, it is Thanksgiving week and we are to give thanks. We do not a thanks to the air nor to no one in general, but rather, a we give thanks and a praise to our God who has been good to us. David has penned a glorious thanksgiving for us in 1 Chron 16:7-36. Let us give thanks together as we read it and let us remember this week to be thankful, not complaining, not grumbling, not pessimistic, but rather, thankful.

1Chron. 16:7-36 Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. 8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. 9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. 10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. 11 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.

12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; 13 O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones. 14 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
15 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; 16 Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; 17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, 18 Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; 19 When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it. 20 And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; 21 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, 22 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

23 Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation. 24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations. 25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. 27 Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place. 28 Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. 29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. 30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. 31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth. 32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. 33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth. 34 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise. 36 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD.

Dear Christian, we are thankful but sometimes it is easy to not be thankful. It is easy to forget. It is easy to be grumpy and complaining. When we are this way, we must see our danger and turn again to the Lord.

Communion Meditation-Thanksgiving

As we gather around our tables this coming Thursday, let us be thankful. It is good that our nation takes a day to remember to be thankful. For, remembering to be thankful is the only way that we actually are thankful. We teach our children this. If someone gives them a piece of candy or a kind word, it is not thankfulness to enjoy eating the candy or to relish in the kind word. It may be nothing more than greediness or self-righteousness or pride. But when a child or an adult says, “Thank you, I appreciate that very much,” then they are being thankful. When this happens, instead of a mindset of entitlement to the good done to them, a humility of self is both generated and conveyed. This is primarily the case because thanksgiving makes us aware of the grace and mercy of the giver. We do not deserve the candy or the praise but it is given anyway. When we realize this, thanksgiving ought always to be the response. To fail to recognize this is the beginning of forgetfulness, the creeping in of self-righteousness and an entitlement mindset that makes all of one’s problems somebody else’s fault. Folks, we Christians must not go there.

How will we ever learn this lesson so that it fills up our whole souls and flows out from us with an ever-gushing stream of thankfulness? I know just the place. We gather here each Lord’s Day. We get to eat and drink the life of Christ. We are invited to do this by the Holy God, the Creator of the universe, of man, the world and all that is in the world. We are brought here as friends of Jesus Christ, collectively, we are the very bride of Christ. He sends His Holy Spirit so that we have the presence of Jesus with us until the ends of the world. And….we don’t deserve to be here. We are not holy, like Jesus, at least not without Jesus. We are not God’s perfect children, at least not apart from our connection to His Son, in Whom He is well pleased. We are not royalty, at least not until betrothed, engaged and wed to Christ as His Church. We are not eternal beings, at least not until filled with the everlasting Spirit of God.

But here we sit each week, welcome, well-fed, full of promise, full of joy. And the only thing we can do as recipients of such a great blessing is to give thanks. To fail to do so is most rude. To not see the need to do so is near damnable. But to give thanks and to receive, even apart from our own worthiness to do so, generates the humility of thanksgiving in us that spreads to every corner of our lives. It all starts here.

So, let us eat and drink with thanksgiving. We give thanks for Jesus, for this covenant meal, for our homes, for our spouses, for our children, for our parents, for our immediate and extended families, for our church, for our elders, for our jobs, for our friends, for our government, for our country, for our state, for our city, and for all things good from God.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A New Song

A New Song
Sing of God, the Father.
Sing of God, the Son.
Sing of God, the Holy Spirit,
Three in One.
Blessings to His Majesty.
Maker of Heaven and Earth.
Glory to the Incarnate One
With earthly joy and mirth.
And to God’s Breath, we breathe,
Praise, for our new birth.

Communion Meditation-Dangerous Fire

The Lord’s Supper is a dangerous place. Holy places were dangerous in the Old Testament. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that Holy Places are no longer dangerous. It is no wonder that many defile the sanctuary with their worship. But beware. Touching Holy things when unholy is more dangerous now in the New Covenant than it was in the old.

Heb 12:18-29 18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

All those who were unholy and who touched the mountain, died. This is frightening because our mountain is more holy, if you will. Our firey God attends this altar still. If you come to His mountain, this holy place, you might die. But if you refuse to come, you will most assuredly die.

So, while coming is frought with potential danger, not coming is guaranteed danger. The only logical thing to do, then, is to come.

But we do not come with trepidation and fear, wondering if we will die or live. That is not the point at all. We come as friends of Jesus Christ. We come as the children of God. We come as vessels cleansed by the fire of God’s Spirit. We come, not fearful of our own unworthiness. We admit that. We come, dressed in Christ, who is worthy. We come, believing God, because He says, “Come and welcome.” And because we are His holy vessels, His Holy Fire, taken and eaten here, is the guarantor of further purification. The Supper exposes, but for good to those who are the beloved, those who are called according to the purpose of God. And this should make us want to come.


In the Old Testament, touching unclean things made one unclean.
Lev 5:2-3 2 Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.

And the unclean were not allowed to touch hallowed things or holy things.
Lev 12:4 4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

Very interestingly, when the sin offering touched anything, it made it holy.
Lev 6:27 27 Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, thou shalt wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place.

In the New Testament, things are a bit different. There are no things that are unclean in and of themselves. As Paul says,
Rom 14:14 14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

But, we are still to keep ourselves clean in Christ. There is filthiness in the world that the Christian ought not to be tangled up in and we are to be cleansed from filthiness.
2 Cor 6:17-7:1 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing (aligning yourselves with unbelievers, marrying an unbeliever); and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

It is not the things, themselves, but the heart of man. Sin is not outside of us. It is in us, in the will when we disobey. We do not become clean by cleaning the outside of the cup.
Col 2:20-23 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21(Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

We are in earthen vessels, our fallen bodies, struggling against sin and the disease and death of sin, but there is hope. For all those who touch Jesus are cleansed.
Matt 9:21 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. And others, Matt 14:36 36 …besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Also, whomever Jesus touches is cleansed.
Mark 8:22-25 22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Mark 10:13-16 13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

But, touching Christ, now, or being touched by Him, His blood, sanctifies us so that we can approach the most Holy without fear.
Heb 9:13-14 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

This is wonderful promise and ought to remind us of the need to confess our sins and to be touched by Jesus so that we are cleansed and made whole.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Exhortation-Taste and See that the Lord is good

Ps 119:103-104 103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

As we have been working through the senses of sight and hearing, we have found that our bodies are very important in regards to serving the Lord rightly. What we see and what we hear have an impact on our faith. Of course, how we see and how we hear are vital as well.

God has given us the wonderful ability to taste. It is probably one of the most joyous senses and one that we utilize to a great degree each day. We spend a huge amount of time and money on pleasing this sense. Our sense of taste can lead us to sweet things easily gotten, candy and chocolate, or salt and spicy things, purchased readily, chips and beef jerky. But if we are to appreciate God’s variety and kindness in food and drink, we have to work at it. There are many dishes and drinks that cannot be easily appreciated. Many items take a great deal of preparation to produce a fine tasting and aesthetically pleasing meal. A fine lasagne is not made in minutes. Other good foods take some getting used to, Greek olives, Salsas, strong cheese, various vegetables, good beer and fine wine and many other dishes. Even basic foods take an appreciation in order to enjoy them, potatoes, rice, beans. We want to develop discriminating taste. This is not the same as becoming a picky eater. We want to enjoy all of God’s good gifts to us, so we eat what is good and learn to like what we eat. Picky eaters are developing bad habits that spill over into other areas of life.

How does this relate to tasting God? In many ways. First, God is good. He is good in all of His dealings and particularly in His dealings with us. Some taste Him and find that He is too bitter, or too sweet, or too strong, or too weak. But God deals with us in many ways, some strong, chastisement, and some easy, mercy. But all of His dealings are full of grace for our God is good. But we must develop a taste. We must eat all that is put before us, trusting our heavenly Father that it is good for us and will help us to grow up to be healthy and strong. We must not be picky about eating from God’s table. This is rude and shows a tendency to a creeping rebellious heart. Only give a Bible picky mind time and all of God’s food will be rejected.

Prov 24:13-22 13 My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: 14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.

Of course, we need to eat correctly. We must use our mouths to the glory of God in our eating and drinking. Drunkeness and gluttony are prohibited to us. We will look at those things next week.

Before we come to learning how to eat, we must learn to eat the Lord’s food which produces wisdom. Otherwise, how will be instructed on how to live out the details? We must commit to eating whatever is put before us by the Lord. If it is biblical, then it is food from Jesus and we are required to eat. Many of you have a rule that your children must eat whatever is put before them, and this is good. They must eat because the food is good, it comes from mother and it is healthy. If they refuse, they prove that they have, at the least, an immature appreciation of good things, whether in their taste buds or in their minds. And, at the worst, they show a disdain for mother and father in refusing that which is good. I am not saying that you should feed your toddlers spicy enchiladas with hot salsa. They need to develop a taste. But God is calling us to maturity. Milk for babies. A full course meal for adults. All of His food is good. Grow up, take and eat.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Communion Meditation-Today if you will hear His voice

We must hear the voice of the Lord.

Heb 3:7-9 7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

The Lord was displeased with the children of Israel because they hardened their hearts. What did that look like? It looked like fear in the presence of enemies. The spies had returned with a good report of the land. It really was a land flowing with milk and honey. There were grape clusters that had to be carried on poles. This truly was the land of promise and God had promised.

All was good but ten of the twelve spies were faithless. They saw the grapes but they also saw the giants. And in looking at the giants, they forgot about the wonderful deliverance from Egypt and God’s victorious demolition of Pharoah and his kingdom. Canaan was nothing compared to Egypt. It was not a major centralized nation but many nations and kings. God had already done great miracles before Israel and they should have remembered His promise to purge the land from enemies and establish Israel in the promised land.

We are here, gathered as God’s people, in the land of promise, God’s Church, among the enemies of God, those who have not yet submitted to Christ. God calls upon us to take and eat, to take and drink. This eating and drinking is the reminder that God had done all that He said He would do. It is the fact that God is still feeding us through His Son, the one who kills all giants and purges the promised land of wickedness. It is the promise yet to be fulfilled that the giant killer, David’s Son, will remain on His throne in warlike aspect until all of His enemies are subdued beneath His feet.

Hear the voice of God in this. These are sure words of promise. Do not harden your hearts in abject fear of the enemy, for God has cast them down. So, hear and come and eat and drink.

Exhortation-Hear the Lord

Dear Saints, Open your ears.
Eccl 5:1-2 5:1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

This verse tells us to listen more than to speak. Some wit once said that you have two ears and one mouth and you ought to use them in that proportion. But this is not an exhortation on speaking but rather on hearing. We find talking very easy but often find listening very difficult. Hearing can be passive. I hear the shouts of children playing. Or it can be active. I am listening for the sound of a deer walking in the woods. Biblical hearing is more than merely hearing the sound of words. Biblical hearing is more than just listening to what the Bible says or what the preacher says. We are to listen, understand and believe. Therefore, we can act.

This is why we constantly pray for both the preaching and hearing of the Word of God. Yes, we desire the preacher to be faithful to the text. We ask God to fill his mouth and to make apt application to us in the assembly that we might know and do the Word of God. But this is not all on the preacher. We also pray for the hearing of the Word. We pray for the Holy Spirit to open your ears and to give you understanding. Are your ears open? Are you awake? Are you eager to hear? Did you get the wax out of your ears last night or this morning?

So, you must come prepared to the congregation to hear the word of God. Did you plan your Saturday night so that your Sunday morning will be fresh, awake, energetic, anticipatory? There is no law that says you must not go to bed late Saturday night before church on Sunday. But the fact that you do so says a lot about what you think is happening on Sunday. It says a lot about how important you think Sunday is.

I often see eyelids on Sundays, drooping, slipping, sleeping, eyelids. I am not condemning an occasional tired Sunday morning. I have had them, droopy eyes, even in the midst of dynamic, Spirit-filled preaching. But when your eyelids droop Sunday after Sunday, it tells me that you are not hearing the Word of God. This is not just a reminder of a petty fault. Your soul really is at stake. And not yours only but also your spouse’s and your children.

Saturday ought to be preparation for the Lord’s Day. We prepare our hearts as well as our homes and bodies. Many of you host families for meals on the Lord’s Day and this is a wonderful celebration of God’s goodness to us. But that hosting should be a result of hearing the Word. I hope you don’t stay up until midnight planning and then have a difficult time rousing yourself for the foundation of the celebration, covenant renewal worship in the presence of God and His saints.

Others of you get up early and work hard all week and see Friday and Saturday nights as your time to stay up late and sleep in on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I think you have it half right.

So, think of these things, think of this day, the Lord’s Day, on Saturday. Plan for Sunday worship, Saturday, so that you and your children can come to this place, awake, rejoicing, cheerful, energetic and hearing.

Also, some of you come and need a pick-me-up here. Your faith is weak. Your sins have overwhelmed you. Your doubts have assailed you. While you can also work on preparing your mind by confessing sins ahead of time, it is true that the very gathering and worship of the saints is also a remedy for the downcast sheep. But if this is the case, you must be more mindful of preparing Saturday night as well. Don’t put more roadblocks in your way to joy as you seek God’s forgiveness, comfort, and communion here. Prepare your home and your mind and your body so that you can come here and hear God's faithful and wonderful promises to you.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Communion Meditation-Faith of a Little Child

As we gather at this meal each Lord’s Day, we are reminded of God’s goodness to us. We need this reminding because we have been out in the world, not of it, but in it. And being in the world makes us painfully aware of our own sinfulness. The world pulls at us and we may even wonder if we are of it and not just in it. But that pulling is because there is resistance on your part. You are pulling back and that is because you are not of this world but you are of Your Father’s kingdom, the kingdom of our Lord and Christ.

We eat this meal as the congregation of the Lord, the people of God. Among us are little ones, children who also eat of the food of God. Some of them are quite small and do not have much understanding of what they do. They do not understand the distinctions of transubstantiation, consubstantiation, the real presence, the prayer of preparation, the meal as a sacrament, instituted by Christ and many such things. If we required them to know all of this, and to know it well, it would be many years before they could eat. Perhaps some of you adults would even have to abstain from eating until you learned more. But that is not what our children do. They eat the meal of God with the people of God. They do so cheerfully and with great enthusiasm. It is the highlight of their service. It is done in simpleness, sincerity and faith. When they eat, they know that they belong to this congregation of the Lord, even if they cannot articulate that doctrine exactly.

People of God, adults as well as children, we must learn this. You have pulled back from the world because you are not of it. You are of Your Father in Heaven. You know this because you are here at His table with His people. So, look around at the congregation, especially the little ones, know that you are of them, in Christ’s kingdom and partake, like them, with the faith of a little child.

Communion Meditation-Faith of a Little Child

As we gather at this meal each Lord’s Day, we are reminded of God’s goodness to us. We need this reminding because we have been out in the world, not of it, but in it. And being in the world makes us painfully aware of our own sinfulness. The world pulls at us and we may even wonder if we are of it and not just in it. But that pulling is because there is resistance on your part. You are pulling back and that is because you are not of this world but you are of Your Father’s kingdom, the kingdom of our Lord and Christ.

We eat this meal as the congregation of the Lord, the people of God. Among us are little ones, children who also eat of the food of God. Some of them are quite small and do not have much understanding of what they do. They do not understand the distinctions of transubstantiation, consubstantiation, the real presence, the prayer of preparation, the meal as a sacrament, instituted by Christ and many such things. If we required them to know all of this, and to know it well, it would be many years before they could eat. Perhaps some of you adults would even have to abstain from eating until you learned more. But that is not what our children do. They eat the meal of God with the people of God. They do so cheerfully and with great enthusiasm. It is the highlight of their service. It is done in simpleness, sincerity and faith. When they eat, they know that they belong to this congregation of the Lord, even if they cannot articulate that doctrine exactly.

People of God, adults as well as children, we must learn this. You have pulled back from the world because you are not of it. You are of Your Father in Heaven. You know this because you are here at His table with His people. So, look around at the congregation, especially the little ones, know that you are of them, in Christ’s kingdom and partake, like them, with the faith of a little child.

Communion Meditation-Faith of a Little Child

As we gather at this meal each Lord’s Day, we are reminded of God’s goodness to us. We need this reminding because we have been out in the world, not of it, but in it. And being in the world makes us painfully aware of our own sinfulness. The world pulls at us and we may even wonder if we are of it and not just in it. But that pulling is because there is resistance on your part. You are pulling back and that is because you are not of this world but you are of Your Father’s kingdom, the kingdom of our Lord and Christ.

We eat this meal as the congregation of the Lord, the people of God. Among us are little ones, children who also eat of the food of God. Some of them are quite small and do not have much understanding of what they do. They do not understand the distinctions of transubstantiation, consubstantiation, the real presence, the prayer of preparation, the meal as a sacrament, instituted by Christ and many such things. If we required them to know all of this, and to know it well, it would be many years before they could eat. Perhaps some of you adults would even have to abstain from eating until you learned more. But that is not what our children do. They eat the meal of God with the people of God. They do so cheerfully and with great enthusiasm. It is the highlight of their service. It is done in simpleness, sincerity and faith. When they eat, they know that they belong to this congregation of the Lord, even if they cannot articulate that doctrine exactly.

People of God, adults as well as children, we must learn this. You have pulled back from the world because you are not of it. You are of Your Father in Heaven. You know this because you are here at His table with His people. So, look around at the congregation, especially the little ones, know that you are of them, in Christ’s kingdom and partake, like them, with the faith of a little child.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

God is a Holy Tiger

Our God is a holy God. He is different from us in this regard. We always have some taint in us but in Him there is none. All His words are true. He perfectly keeps every promise. He says what is both just and right. All His dealings with man are according to His perfect righteousness. In Him there is no shadow, no darkness, no sin. For those who ponder long on God’s holiness, the result can be both terrifying and depressing. Terrifying because we realize that this holy God is one that cannot be approached by such as ones as us. We have sinned and do sin and not only in ourselves or against others. Depressing because many of our sins are ones that we know are only directly against God. We have failed, again, in the very area where we failed before, made commitments and promises and fell again. We know that we are new creatures and that are to be new creatures, but somehow our growth in grace seems to be painfully slow, sometimes lurching forward and other times sliding backwards.

When we contemplate these things, in the face of a Holy God, our Holy God, our tendency is to be afraid. We wonder if such a perfect one as Him will really accept such a feeble one as us. God is holy. This is fearsome and terrible. But we should not flee. We should not run from Him. But we should, we must, run to Him.

When our children were small, I often played tiger with them. I turned off the lights, growled, hid, stocked, and at the right moment, attacked them. Usually, the smallest one at the time was very unsure about this game. They stayed close to base. Dad is now terrible. He is the Tiger. But then, by degrees, they would venture farther from base and when they least expected it, I would spring out from behind a door and chase. The older ones would run to base, knowing the nature of the game. But the youngest would only freeze in her place, perhaps cry, in a state of confusion whether to run for base or to the Tiger. But they usually made the right choice. They ran for Tiger, hoping that Tiger really was Dad. And he always was.

One of our sins is a failure to know who God is. He is a Tiger. He is dangerous. He is holy. Therefore, we must know this. We must run to Him. To run away, to be stuck in the middle in confusion, to not know the Heavenly Father, this is the shame. So, let us learn Him and run to this fearsome one, for safety.

Communion Meditation-Holy People

Ps 99:9 9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

Our God is holy but the response to that is not to shrink away but on the contrary, to come and worship Him in holiness. This means at a holy place in a holy way by a holy people. This seems foreign to us. Especially, if we have been raised on such large doses of our own unworthiness, our own lack of holiness. We are afraid to approach, because like, Uzza, we think that we might reach out and touch the Ark of the Covenant, and be annihilated by a Holy God.

But we are the people of God and we are called to holiness. This is a holiness that draws close to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. It is not only possible but commanded. And it gives God glory. Listen to these verses.

Rom 12:1-2 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Eph 1:3-6 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Col 1:21-23 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Col 3:12 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

So, with the Apostle Paul, I say to you, come, holy people of God and partake of Christ.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Communion Meditation-Worthily

The same sun that brings life and growth to the corn in the fields also bakes hard dry lake and river bottoms. This is an astonishing fact. The sun is a good and glorious gift but it can do immense harm.

The solution is in the water. If there is water present, then the sun can do his appointed job towards blessing. He brings life, growth, health, plenty, beauty and a plentiful harvest. But if there is no water present, he brings death, decay, sickness, want, ugliness and fruitlessness.

So, which is it, we wonder? Is our son growing us into glory or hardening us into uselessness?
Each week we eat this ritual meal, a representation of the power of God, the Son of God shining on us in all of his effulgent glory and might. The sacrament presents the promises of God to us. But for some, the promised blessing never arrives. The waters of life are absent and the radiant glory of the Son produces hardness of heart rather than fullness of joy. So, we must eat and drink but according to the revelation of God in Christ.

Primarily, I am speaking about confession of sin, repentance, and walking in the newness of life according to the Holy Spirit. This is not at all perfectionism. The fact that we must continually confess our sins and turn away from our will to His shows that we are not perfect. But for those who will not confess, who will not repent, who will not learn and obey the will of the Lord, then this glorious feast is a great danger. What is meant for life will bring hardness to your hard and waterless soul. The answer is not to refuse to eat but rather, to eat worthily, having confessed your sins honestly to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We confess our sins early in our service, as we ought to, so that we can draw near to God with clean hands and hearts, not fearing condemnation from Him who promises to forgive and receive us. For those of you who do so, amen, do not grow fearful at such frightening words as these.
I make mention of the dangers again here only for those who are not honest, who have perhaps deceived themselves, that a little tolerated sin here and there will do no harm, that a little hypocrisy is common to us all, that go through our confession of sin in a lifeless mechanical fashion, who believe that a short drought does not make dry lake bottoms.

O foolish man, O foolish woman, O foolish child and slow to learn, when will you turn from your folly? Confess your secret sins now, turn from your folly now, and come to the waters of life, the life giving Spirit and so eat and drink life and health and peace.

Let us take a moment now to confess any remaining sins and so come to Christ as the forgiven body of Christ, without hypocrisy, resting upon the grace of Christ and trusting in His life giving promises to us.

Exhortation-Trust and Obey

Many set out on a journey only to be dismayed along the way. Setting out is not the same as finishing. Have you ever seen a small child of three or four years old determine to go to the store? Or on some brave adventure to South America? If he is old enough to imagine some danger to himself, his leaving is very interesting. He may go without a care in the world, not even taking the time to look and see if his mother or father is watching, following, protecting. If he goes without wanting father or mother there, he is a foolish child, courting danger.

If he is a wise child, aware of danger and of his own small frame, he will keep looking back for the following safety and hurry home if his father is not there. But what if father is following, perhaps at a safe distance? But one in which both father and son are aware. What then? He must go, in faith, because the father is with him.

We are like these children. Sometimes we set off on our life journeys without a care in the world. We do not care what the Bible says. We have a plan in our mind and we are going to carry it out, even if we are not sure that to do so will bring the Father glory. So, off we go, tripping along like a three-year old heading to South America. Is it any wonder we find ourselves lost? Or in needless peril?

Or we start off on our journey only to find the way difficult. Although we know it is the right way and that the Father is with us, we complain and whine about the difficulty and strongly desire to turn back. But the Father is with us and encouraging us to continue on. We must go on because it is the Father’s will.

But there is a third and better way. We go on, not foolishly and blindly, without the Father, not complaining and grumbling with the Father, but rather, boldly, knowing that it is the Lord who is with us. With this knowledge, we can face the real dangers. We will persevere through many difficulties and we will not turn back. May the Lord make us wise in our travels and fearless at His side.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


It is sad that in the kingdom of God there is so much sin driven by the companion sins of covetousness and envy. We are called to live together in unity, preferring our brothers above ourselves. We are explicitly told by Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and other New Testament writers to esteem others above ourselves, to love the brethren, to pursue peace. But we have a hard-dying tendency to not do this. We tend to cloke our sins in pretended holy concern for others, when in fact, it is often driven by a more unholy zeal to have God’s heavy hand fall upon them. Lord, shall we call down fire?

When God blesses our brethren, in any manner, physically, spiritually, or financially, our tendency is to wonder why it didn’t happen to us. To wonder is not a bad thing. That wondering may just find an answer. The answer may be your own sin, particularly in the area of always wanting someone else’s blessing. If you get that answer and recognize it for what it is, then well and good. Confess and repent. We all deal with this and it the means of our sanctification as well as the sanctification of the body. But if that wondering spills over into discontentment and jealousy, the resultant sin is both pernicious in, and dangerous to, the body of Christ. And this is much too often the case.

The result of our lives together in Christ should be unity. This comes about because our primary duty is to love one another. Jesus said that if we do this, we are His disciples indeed. Of course, we do this in outward duties, meals, helping with a building project, counsel, friendship, the breaking of bread at the Lord’s Table and at your tables. But there is another aspect of our lives together that we do not spend enough time examining and refining. And that is how we view and speak about others. Is it your tendency to complain about others, thinking that they are not worthy of the blessings that they have received? I am referring to the way that you speak of others in this church as well as with those other parts of Christ’s body that do not worship with us here or in our denomination or sector of Christianity. Why has God blessed them, we wonder, when WE have all the right truth? Oh? And what about the truth of thinking too highly of oneself? Have we got that one down, too?

It may be true that your brother in this church or in the church at large is in sin. If that sin is the kind that is likely to be his downfall, and you find that you simply MUST speak about it to somebody, then it is your Christian duty to speak about it to him. I make one exception to this rule. If you are truly seeking counsel about how to deal with this brother or sister and their sin, then it is not sin to discuss it with a person that can actually help. I would make a really short list of who these discussions are allowed to be with. Your husband or wife, parents, the pastor or the elders. Other than that, the desire to talk to others about it is not so much for the purpose of finding a solution but rather to hear yourself talk, especially when you get to talk from a standpoint of superiority.

If their sin is not the kind that you must confront, if it is a foible, a quirk, a shallow weakness, then your duty is to love them through it. Don’t get on your high horse. Don’t complain about them to your husband or wife. Don’t discount God’s blessings upon them. Don’t build yourself up by bringing them down. Don’t feel the need to discuss their shortcomings with others, even the short list given above. Don’t justify your sin in mock protestations about ‘concern’ for them. Learn to love them, in spite of their foibles.

The bottom line in all of this is to be busy about our own callings and duties without being busybodies about other people’s callings and duties. Don’t you have enough to do already? If you do your duties well, perhaps God will give you the grace and opportunity to serve, truly serve, your brother or sister that you have been busy criticizing for all these months and years. If that were done, perhaps their particular besetting sin, that seems to beset you as much as them, will not be such a stumbling block to you. Love covers a multitude of sins. Let us learn to love.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Communion Thoughts

Our fellowship with God and man was broken in Adam. The one loaf was broken but it lay shattered and torn, not reunited. But in Christ, there is a new humanity. He was broken for us but He was not left broken. His body was raised bringing life to all that are raised in Him. His body was gathered from the dead that all those who are gathered in Him are also gathered from the dead. His gathered body is offered to all that sit here and are the called according to His promises. His body is given for you. We are all reassimilated in Christ. What was broken and shattered is now put back together. We are new men, women, and children. The death that reigned in Adam has been conquered in Jesus. The broken body of humanity in Adam has been gathered by the broken body of Jesus Christ.

This means that we have new life and the hope of new life. This life is realized primarily in the body of Christ, His Church. Because we have been made partakers of the body of Christ, we live, like Him. Death no longer is master and ruler. Sin no longer is the tyrant on the throne. There is a new Master and Lord and we must serve Him in righteousness rather than sin and death in unrighteousness. As we eat and drink, we are being transformed into the new humanity that we are. We are being renewed into the likeness of Christ. These words may sound abstract but they are not. They are very practical. We are growing in thankfulness, hope, and joy. The fruit of the Spirit should be present and growing among us.

Gal 5:16-6:2 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulful the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

The works of the flesh should be diminishing and struggling among us. Life conquers death in Jesus Christ. So let us live as the new creation in the regeneration, loving one another in Christ and so fulfilling the law of God.

Easter Exhortation

We often make the mistake of having a sentimental religion. By this, I mean, constructing a faith upon what we feel would be best or what it would be if it were nice and tidy, a precious moment, so to speak. But the Bible and the gospel comes to us on God’s terms and not ours. Because of this, we have to take it as it is given and not as we had hoped it would be. This causes us to submit to God, His Providence, His wisdom, His Christ.

Resurrection Sunday is another one of those parts of the Bible that is often remembered in a sentimental way. I think many Christians envision something other than what actually happened. We have sunrise services so that we can glory in the empty tomb. We picture Mary Magdelene, Peter and John running to the tomb in eager anticipation of finding it empty in proof that Jesus has been raised from the dead. But that is not what happened. They came to the tomb but not eagerly, not in belief, but still lost in their despair and misery. They had not yet believed and so their doubts and fears and disappointments completely blinded them. Among the disciples and even the apostles, there are no exceptions. None anticipated the Resurrection. None were eager for an empty tomb.

But this does not change the fact that Jesus really had risen. The disciples did not believe it and could not see it, but nonetheless it was true. And because it was and is true, they would soon be able to see and have their hope and strength renewed.

We are not unlike the first disciples. We are disciples of Jesus, indeed, but we have our dark moments. We have our Black Fridays like that horrific Friday when Jesus was crucified. All is black and gloom. All hope is lost. All confidence is shattered. We have great doubts and are at a loss as to who Jesus really is. Will He come to me? Will He save me? Am I really His beloved? Or was all that hope just a dream?

We all have our Barren Saturdays, when the day drags on without a word from the Lord. He seems to be gone and not coming back. Where is the joy that we once had in Christ? Where is the hope of Him being King and protecting me from the enemies of my hope? Will He fight this sense of loneliness, of apathy, of unrequited longing? Where is Jesus at this hour of great need?
We have all had our Dissapointing Sundays, when a hope has arisen that perhaps He will come, perhaps He will rise only to find that the tomb is empty but Jesus is not to be found. We thought we could go to Him but He is not there. He has gone.

But all of your Fridays, Saturdays and early Sundays do not change the fact that Christ is Risen. He has risen and conquered the death of Friday. He has returned and brought meaning to the drought of Saturday. He is right behind you on your disappointing Sunday. He speaks and like Mary, you must simply turn around to see Him. His resurrection puts all of the loss, longing, and languishing in perspective. It turns sorrow into joy and mourning into rejoicing. There is nothing that can separate you from His love. You have but to remember what He said, to believe that His rising is the crowning of victory over death. And that in this victory are all the hopes and joys of your victory. He comes to you on Friday and you must see Him crucified for sins and your sins. He comes to You on Saturday and you must see Him bringing victory over sorrows and your sorrows. He comes to You on Sunday and all hope is renewed. He is risen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Proverbs 2-The Strange Woman

Prov 2:16-19 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.

This is a very frightening warning and one that fathers should spend a great deal of time teaching their sons. Of course, a father does not want to raise a daughter that will be such as the strange woman but the warning here is to sons. We live in an age of multiplied strange women. They have left the path of light and lurk about seeking some man to devour. Of course, they would not be successful unless there were many willing marks. And there are. However, this does not lesson the warning here to sons. Look out! This way is perilous. Note what he says. Those who go into her find death. We have heard that before and may have grown callous to the warning. Many sons do not find death there at all. At least not at first. They find pleasure. They find personal sexual pleasure in the strange woman. They also like being flattered. She tells him how great he is. Men like this sort of thing immensely and if they do not hear it from their fathers and mothers and later their wives, then they are prone to seek a strange woman to tell them these things. But what will a son find there? A trap. A trap of the soul. It is like Hotel California. Easy to get in, near impossible to get out. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.

Sons, husbands, beware! Not only will you get burned if you go to her, in your mind first, in your sneaky actions second, and in your deeds third, but you may be stuck forever. Perhaps not with the same strange woman. There may be many. But you are stuck with her curse. You may enter into the darkness in such a way that you can never return. You are now in the paths of the dead and the curse will never be broken. You are forsaken of God. You have become like the man in the iron cage in Pilgrim’s progress, or Esau seeking vainly for a place of repentance, or Saul knowing that David is chosen but hating him all the more for it. Forsaken. That is the kind of death the strange woman brings.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Exhortation-Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

As I mentioned last week, life is full of trouble. In a particular church there is trouble because people are trouble. This would not be the case if people were not sinners. Except for the fact that we seem to always blame the sin on someone else. But we need to remember that Jesus is trouble, too. This really calls us up short when we think that our troubles are outside of us, that someone else is the cause of them. But why do men, women and children have a hard time with Jesus? He is no sinner, so it cannot be that. The only reason is that He confronts us. He reveals us. His truth reveals our way of life. We often do not like to see this and ignore His testimony in our lives. But doing that only brings more trouble. For Jesus is persistent. He will not let it rest. He keeps stirring up the trouble until it gets dealt with. Some do not like this but those who have tasted of the fruit of Jesus’s persistance in dealing with sin are humbly thankful.

Be we must remember that the purpose of all this trouble is not to be troubled. Jesus does not want this. People are trouble and sins are trouble but Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled." And He said this to a bunch of disheartened disciples who were about to fail their Savior in the most miserable ways. He will stir up trouble from Him to you or from one to another because it is His desire that we deal with Him and deal with one another so that our hearts will not be troubled. Trouble comes but trouble goes and good riddance. But troubles, strife with God or strife in the brotherhood, are like monsters in the closet. The more they are avoided, the scarier they become. Only when they are revealed as the petty tyrants that they are can they be effectively eliminated, nailed to the cross, killed with Jesus. And when the resulting blessing comes, we are thankful for the trouble. We even have a cliché that describes what we mean. We say, "It was worth the trouble."

So, let God deal with us. May the Spirit reveal to us where we have resisted the rule of Jesus, where we have been ashamed of His work in the world, where we have boasted in our flesh only to fail, where we have slandered the brothers, or another man’s good name. May we see that the purpose of Jesus in this is that we will see our own sins and deal with them so that we will be at peace and our hearts will not be troubled.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Christians are called to resist the world the flesh and the devil. We are called to fight against the sins of the flesh. However, we do not do this immediately or perfectly. Our growth in grace is exactly that, growth in grace. We are to grow up into all things in the Spirit of God. We do have an advocate with the Father. We are not perfectionists even though perfection is our goal. We do not require a man to be sinless in order to be a Christian. No, he must be a sinner in order to come to Christ. And he remains a sinner in Christ, but a new kind, one with grace and hope and forgiveness.

Last week, in the exhortation, I reminded you that Christ has overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. All of you need to hear this but some of you hear it strangely. All of you, if you are indeed, in Christ, struggle against sin. Some of you feel like immense failures for this fact. But that is not how it should be. If there was no struggle against sin, if you had acquiesced to it, were not sorry for it, and did not repent of it, then that would be shameful. However, if you were in that condition, you likely would not feel the shame that leads to repentance.

The struggle against sin is one mark of the true believer. Instead of this being a discouragement to us, it should be an encouragement. Yes, we get tired and weary and we wonder if we will persevere until the end. But if we struggle, as a Christian, the fact of our perseverance should be becoming a more thoroughgoing reality for us. The reason is that while we fight sin, we learn to fight the right way. We stop taking credit for our victories and give the victory to Jesus. We realize that our only hope eternally and our only hope in this life is the power of Christ, not only for daily living, but especially for cleansing and restoration.

Our boats are constantly besieged by storms, storms of trouble, storms of enemies, storms of sins. But Christ is in the boat. He speaks, "Peace be still." So, look to Him, and like the calming waves, be at peace.

Communion Thoughts-Light

Some of you have had to drink the die that can be x-rayed. You drank it and it traveled through your body and when it was x-rayed, it glowed. The light of this substance is visible to the x-ray machine, even if you cannot see it.

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we drink light. It is as if the light of this meal travels into us, enters our blood and makes its way through our entire body, bringing light to all the dark places. I should make some qualification here. I do not believe that the bread and wine are literally the body and blood of Jesus. They are still bread and wine. But as we eat and drink in faith, we are being assimilated into the life of Christ. We really are being transformed into Christlikeness. This really is happening.

Here on earth, we are fully saved but we are not yet fully sanctified. This is a process that takes a lifetime and perhaps much more. How could our sanctification take more than a lifetime? Do not get me wrong here either. I am not proclaiming the need for Purgatory. Curse that vile doctrine. When we die, sin will be banished from having any influence on us. And when we are resurrected, our bodies will be fully incapable of sinning. So, in the sense of not being able to sin, our sanctification is on layaway at death and completed at the resurrection.

But will we not always be learning Christ? Is not His realm, and work and person far beyond all ability for finitude to grasp? And we will always be finite. We will never be God. Then, we will continue to be assimilated into the life of Christ, seeing, hearing and experiencing new wonders in Him for all time and for all eternity. This is one way in which our sanctification, or growth in grace, will never be complete, and to God be the glory.

But here, as we eat and drink, we eat and drink promise. Those who eat and drink, believing simply, have the light of this promise spread throughout their body, soul and spirit. They are washed in the blood, nourished in the body, made strong in Jesus, kept until the last day, made fit for the resurrection, preserved for the life of Jesus. So, eat this way. Drink this way. In hope, in faith, in love, in Christ.