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.