Saturday, November 22, 2008

Exhortation- Giving Thanks

This is the week of thanksgiving. In it, we take special note to give thanks to our God and Father for all of His many blessings. But, we of all people, should be practiced in giving thanks. We take a special week and an American Holy Day to highlight our thanksgiving, to acknowledge that all of these blessings are indeed from God. But, we should be doing this continually, regularly, in our homes, in our church, among family, among friends. Giving thanks should be the primary characteristic that marks us out as Christians.

Giving Thanks

We have much for which to thank our God.
For homes and family
And feet that are shod
With the gospel of peace.
We cease to grumble and complain.
He sustains our souls for good.
And this is all from God.
To work is a gift from above.
And love, from spouse and children.
God has given mother and father,
And other friends with joy to win.
Let us see that God is good.
We should rejoice and pray
And say that all is reason to give thanks.
For thanks is gratitude revealed.
It heals and shows that we are God’s children.
So listen to this admonition.
Bow to the Father,
With brother and sister and others.
Thinking of God’s care over everything.
We sing His praises and our hearts are filled with joy unmeasured.
His treasures are our possessions.
Mercy, joy and love
From above are ours from Him. Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nothing New

St. John Chrysostom, commenting on Titus 2, relates various Greek histories of the gods and dramas, pointing out their various perversions. He especially excoriates their love of boys and their perversion in dishonoring women. He exhorts the Christians to not be like this.

"O ye subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, an dlead out women to war as if they were men."

Why do Americans want to go back to what the Lord already rescued us from?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Exhortation-Chopping Down Idols

As we grow in grace, we come to find out many things about ourselves and our God that we did not previously know. We may find that we have many fears and insecurities that keep us from God. We may find that God is not exactly as we had previously thought He was. Perhaps we need to learn to be more serious than silly in His presence. Perhaps we need to learn that He is kind and willing to receive us, instead of shrinking away in fear as we might with our earthly father. Perhaps we are confronted with a God who controls the world and the terrible ramifications of that. Perhaps we have to admit that our little finite brains cannot understand the depths of this, our Creator God.

There is much for us to learn. And we must be about our business of learning. But we must not be always learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. No, we must come to the knowledge of the truth. We must learn what God is like and then we must respond to Him appropriately. That will mean that we need to change because He is not going to change. And the only way for us to really change is to humbly submit to whatever we find out about God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who indwells His people by His Spirit.

Humility starts with confession and repentance. And little by little we will chop down the idol in our mind and the one True God will fully possess us in body and mind. This process will never be complete until the Resurrection but let us take joy in following hard after God and submitting to Him in all that He reveals to us by His Spirit.

Communion Meditation-Father is Good

God’s goodness starts here. If you cannot see that, you are going to have a hard time seeing anything in relation to His goodness. He is not an austere Father, although He can be a hard Father. He has high standards but He is easily pleased with the workings of His children. It’s true, He does not tolerate high-handed sin and rebellion but He has made a way for us through Jesus to come to Him without fear of condemnation. He disciplines us but as we teach our own children, it is because He loves us. If He did not discipline us, it would only show that He was not our real Father.

We have a lot to learn about Father, God. Some of you even have a hard time saying the Word Father in prayer and insist on merely calling Him, God. There are many reasons for this but among them is an inability to see Father as something that is good to the core. But He is our Father and He is good, the best of Fathers. All that was good about your Father, is much more true of our Father in Heaven. All that was truly bad about your Father is not true of your Father in heaven.

But here, now, today, is our Father’s kindness, gentleness and goodness revealed to you. He has called you to a great family meal. He has placed bread and wine before you. He is not angry with you. He is well-pleased with you just as He is with His own Son, Jesus the Christ. Can you not see that God has pulled us into the eternal love of the Trinity? Here is Father and Son, loving, laughing. Here is Holy Spirit, affection, communion, grace, presence. And here we are in the midst of Him, the Three in One. You are welcome. He is filling you with Himself. Here is the goodness of that Father. You must see it here, first and then you will begin to see His goodness all around you.

Exhortation-Men With Chests

I know that many of us have given up on the Republican party as representative of our political views. But the Republican party can teach us something. Already, there are cries from the left leaning and morallyliberal wing of the Republican party to move more in that direction. They lay the blame on conservatives, the Sarah Palin constituency, for polarizing the party. Let us move left and all will be well.

The reason they can teach us something is that we hear this same sort of thing in the Church. We have to be kinder and gentler in the pulpit. We have to downplay sins and speak carefully so we do not offend anyone. We want to appease, rather than prophecy.

This was happening in Jeremiah’s day. He was speaking against the people’s idolatry and for their need to repent of such things. He was issuing dire warnings of what God was going to do if they did not repent. What was their response?

Jer. 44: 17-18 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. 18But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. .

God was judging them for the very thing they thought that they should keep doing and do more.

We do not need more gentleness and understanding in our pulpits, not if that means obscuring the truth and tickling ears. We need boldness to proclaim the Word of God. This means calling sin, sin and proscribing the biblical antidote for sin, repentance and forgiveness. Until we do this well, we should expect to see the same things that are currently happening in the American Church and in the Culture at large. Soft, effeminate men afraid of their shadows and a populace that loves them.

Communion Meditation-Good Father

As we reform our thinking, we hope to reform all of it. One of the striking things that I have been noticing of late, is how far our thoughts about God, the Father, have drifted away from what He is actually like. When we wrongly assume that we know what God is like and then approach Him based upon that assumption, we have unwittingly created some form of an idol. If we also worship the idol that we have created in our minds, it is no wonder that we then begin to look like that idol. After all, we are putting that idol of our creation forth as the ultimate ideal. As fallen human beings, there is no way around this. We are not perfect, so our thoughts about God will not be perfect either. However, we can transform our thoughts by the washing and renewing of our minds by His own Word.

God, our Father, gracious and kind. For many, those words do not easily run together, but they are the biblical revelation of God, the Father. In the beginning He placed Adam in a Paradise with food aplenty and access to the Tree of Life. Is there anything but graciousness and kindness in this act of creation? God fed Adam and Eve and walked with them in the cool of the day. What sweet communion. The Fall has thrown a wrench into this sweet fellowship but Jesus died to restore that which was lost.

God, the Father, has called you here today to walk in His Garden, to eat of the Tree of Life and to hear Him walk pleasantly among you in the cool of the day. We do not hide, for we are not naked and ashamed but rather clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Take, eat, and bask in the glory of your Good Father.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Communion Meditation-Our Good Father

It amazes me that receiving small children to the Lord’s Table is not the norm in every Christian Church because it does seem that every Christian Church understands that the nature of our relationship with God is that He has condescended to minister to us wee little men. It is God’s great gift that such small men as you and me could ever come to be His friends. There is nothing about our relationship to God to commend us in a very high degree. It is all grace, from first to last.

If we can see this cleary, how can we not see that small children come to God on the same basis? It is not because of good in them but rather, because of the goodness of God. He is that kind of God. He is that kind of Father. Have we misunderstood the character of God so much to think that He really does not want the children to come to Him? And how could we have misunderstood Him so greatly when Jesus expressly said let the children come unto me?

But, alas, I am reminded of the fact that men are indeed sinners. Saying that we are not worthy at all to sit at God’s table, except by His grace and mercy, does not keep us from keeping others out who we deem not worthy. Where does this disease come from, if not from sin? We are glad to be received by grace but are not willing to have that same grace cover other unworthy sinners, even the weakest of them, our children.

Our children are the weakest of the weak. They are needy of the grace of God and a touch from Jesus. Jesus came to the earth expressly to heal the sick and to defend the defenseless. Who are we then to keep those from Him who most need Him? This really is an astonishing blindness.

I suppose it causes us to have to be too humble. If we admit that even children, who do not have a real clue about what is going on can come to the Lord’s Table, then maybe we have to admit that it is not necessary to have a clue what is going on and that perhaps even we do not have a clue as to what is going on. I would argue for that case. Of course, we do have some clue and we are trying to clue in to God more and more each week. But the reality is that our understanding of God’s goodness and favor upon us is so small as to occupy a null space in infinity.

Receiving children humbles us all and makes us completely reliant upon the grace and goodness of God. Thank God for His kindness to us and to the smallest and weakest among us.

The Laboring Man

The Laboring Man

The laboring man works hard with his hands.
An honest day’s wages for an honest day’s work.
His pains are rewarded with weariness and food.
Some call this poverty, He calls it good.
The labor of man is hard work with hands.
Sleep is God’s gift to those that will work.
He falls into bed without a care in his head
And sleeps as if dead.