Monday, June 15, 2020

Holy Food

One of the central controversies in the Christian Church has been concerning the Lord’s Supper. What is going on? What is the bread and wine? Is it really the body and blood of Jesus? Or is Jesus hovering around the bread and wine supernaturally? Is He really present with us in a special way in this meal?

As we partake, I often say something along say receive the Lord's body given for you, this is Christ's blood shed for you. Do I mean that the bread and wine is altered into body and blood?

No, I don’t. It is bread and wine and stays bread and wine as I pray, say the words of institution, as we eat and drink and swallow.
But we do partake of Jesus by faith as we eat and drink. He is present with us and I believe that in Communion, His presence is particularly powerful. 

We not only partake of holy food because we are thankful to God for it, we also partake of Jesus because we are thankful to God for Him. We look to the crucified, buried, raised, enthroned and coming again Jesus. We give thanks to Him. We eat and drink believing that He is in us and we are in Him and the Holy Spirit fills us with confidence in Jesus Christ. Our faith grows stronger by eating this meal, and so we do more fully partake of Jesus.

So, let us make sure to give thanks to God for all of our good blessings and especially for the eternal blessing that is Jesus Christ, given for you.

Teaching That Saves

St. Paul told Timothy, Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

         What is it we should take heed of and what doctrine are we to pay attention to? 

    That Jesus came to save sinners. That He died and rose again. That He rules over everything. That He is coming again at the last day to receive His kingdom.

         Therefore, continue living out what God has worked into you. Be faithful. Don’t get distracted by the rumors of impending trouble, even of those who grow weak or deny the faith or who lead the saints astray. You stay steadfast. You believe. You teach others the same. This will save you and them.

         Dear Saints, you are here today to take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Thus, you shall save yourself and them that hear you. He does not mean that you become your own Savior. He means that you fully trust the One who is the Savior. Rest assured, God is faithful and He will save you and those that hear you to the uttermost.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Dangerous Church Food

We are living in a time in which some of the powers that exist would call this dangerous church food. They say that it is dangerous because there could possibly be someone here with a virus that could spread from one person to another and make us all sick.

Furthermore, this virus could spread from this place and make our community sick. Therefore, if we are to love our neighbor, then we should abstain from such food.

The powers are correct. This is dangerous church food. It is dangerous to principalities and powers. It is dangerous to fear. It is dangerous to unbelief. And where these powers of darkness loom, where there is such fear, where there is creeping unbelief, this food and drink and the Holy Spirit of God that flows through it, spreads the light of Jesus. It sheds light on the darkness. It banishes fear. It gives a sturdy resolve to the weak.

There is no doubt that this is, indeed, dangerous food. And just the sort of dangerous food that is necessary for soldiers engaged in a battle, for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

So, eat and drink in faith and become dangerous to the world and the flesh and the devil. For Jesus, who died, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father until all these enemies are subdued beneath His feet. Amen.

Be Strong and Courageous

Dear Saints, the Scriptures often exhort us to be strong and courageous. The power in that phrase resonates with us. We all want to be strong and courageous. We are drawn to strength and courage.

However, we often find ourselves weak and cowardly. How can we live in such a contradiction in terms that is the human condition?
Thanks be to God that He takes the weak and beggarly things of the world to confound the powerful and worldly wise.

This meal is a perfect example of God’s intention for us. Because we are weak and cowardly, the Lord condescends to give us tangible signs of His love and care for us. He gives us the waters of baptism that mark us as His own. He gives us bread and wine to show us that He gave us the body and blood of His Son.

We look at the water and the bread and the wine, things we can see, to give us strength and courage to believe in the God whom we cannot see. These signs bolster our faith and in faith we walk into the future, into struggle, into sickness, even into the valley of the shadow of death, and we fear no evil, for God is with us. 

In Christ, be strong and courageous.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Preparation

Prayer of Thanksgiving
         Our Father in Heaven, You have blessed us mightily and we give You thanks. You have provided for us in great abundance and even in this time of rising unemployment and uncertainty, You have provided for our people. Please continue to give us each day our daily bread and teach us to work hard with our hands so that we can learn to bless others. Use us and our gifts to advance the Kingdom of Jesus to the ends of the Earth. Amen.

Prayer of Preparation for the Lord's Supper
         Our Father, thank You for bringing us together in this place. Thank You for showing us that our unity is in Jesus Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended and coming again. For in Jesus, we live and move and have our being. As we eat the bread and drink the wine today, reveal to us the glory that is Jesus Christ, the one loaf that was delivered for our sins and raised for our justification. And strengthen our local body that we may be one just as He and You and the Holy Spirit are one. Amen.

The Fire of God

Psalm 32:5 I acknowledge my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
Words of Assurance-The Fire of God
Dear Saints, see that you do not refuse God who is speaking to you today. For if the old testament saints did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns us from heaven. 
In Old Testament times, God’s voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”
This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 
You all have embraced Jesus Christ, offered to you in the Gospel. God has sent His Holy Spirit to you, the fire of God, to give you life, to translate you into his unshakeable kingdom, to purge and purify you and to fully consume you. He has received you as He receives His own dear Son, who was an acceptable sacrifice, offered up once for all the people. If God is for you, who can be against you?
Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.


Psalm 32:3-4 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.
Our Father in Heaven, You have caused us to die to our sins and have raised us up with Christ. And yet, temptations and sins still afflict us: anger, bitterness, envy, lust, and pride. Forgive us for these sins. By Your Holy Spirit, lead us to seek the things that are above and to have hearts filled with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience toward our neighbors. Amen.


Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Our Father in Heaven, we glorify and praise Your Holy Name. You sent Your Son to us to live a perfect, sinless life, to suffer for us and to die on the cross to atone for our sins. The grave could not hold Him because You raised Him from the dead by the power of Your life-giving Holy Spirit. He appeared to the apostles and disciples with many undeniable proofs and commissioned Your people to proclaim His name to the whole Earth. He is now seated at Your right hand, interceding for Your people and ruling over heaven and earth. He has sent Your Holy Spirit to us so that we would proclaim to all the Earth the mighty acts of God. We give You glory for doing all of this so that the name of Jesus would be greatly exalted in the Earth. Amen.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

What I Didn't Say

I was interviewed by Cross Politic yesterday about the letter that I wrote to the civil magistrate. The interview went well and it is slated to drop Sunday night. As sometimes happens in interviews, you get sidetracked in time and forget to say something you wanted to say. In this case, I think I forgot the  most important thing! I suppose I am not very practiced or very good doing interviews.

I am afraid that it sounded like I thought the most important thing right now is to talk to our officials. I don't think that.

That most important thing that I wanted to say is that the Lord is most clearly doing something and we should all pay attention!

Now, I know that is obvious to most of us but it should not go without saying. The interview was about the need to get back to work and worship. It seems to me there is a strong growing frustration with our civic leaders as the shutdown, the lockdown, continues on indefinitely. The frustration is understandable and we should be speaking to our officials and making our voices heard.

But we should also be listening, not just speaking. God is in control of all things. Whatsoever comes to pass is His Divine Providence. We need to really let that sink in. There is some sense in which our civil leaders are controlling our activity, and as time goes and if they overstep their bounds, we should do our civic duty as citizens under our Constitution. But we should do so acknowledging that our God, who is in control of all things, just sent a shock wave of fear and trembling around the entire globe.

Thank Him that He did not unleash a plague of death that destroyed the Earth. It should be obvious in this scare, that He easily could. And we would even deserve it.

Are we heeding Him? Are we repenting of our personal sins? Are we returning to the Scriptures as our only ultimate and infallible authority? Are we facing death without fear because we serve Jesus who is alive and we know that we will live forever in Him?

As we are shut up in our homes, are we talking to our wives, husbands, children, parents? Talking is good. That's a start. Are we talking about important things? About the kingdom of God? About our duty to God and men? About loving God and loving His people?

Now that we are not able to worship together as we once did, do we miss church? Worship? The people? The preaching? Communion? The accountability? The opportunity to love and serve others?

When  this ends, and it will, will we be the same? No, we won't. You cannot stay the same. You are going forward or backward. There is no neutral. After the dust settles, we should be better.

If we love Him rightly, we will. If we still serve ourselves the same way we did before, if we didn't pay attention, if we didn't get the message, if we didn't submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in everything, we will be worse.

But I believe better things for you, things that accompany salvation.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and grant you peace.

That's what I meant to say.

Death is Dead

The power of death is sin. It killed Adam and Eve and by it Cain killed Abel. Death reigned from Adam to Jesus, our Second Adam from above. But the power of death has been crushed. The antidote has been applied. Sin has been dealt with and only the finally enemy, death, has to be completely destroyed in the end, at the last day, in the final Resurrection.
         But even now, we who live in this body of death, are risen with Christ at the right hand of the Father. His death meant our death to sin. His life means our life in Him. And nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We are His and He is ours. We live with Him in the heavenly places, now and evermore. Even to depart from the body is to be present with the Lord. And He will give life to our mortal bodies and we shall be like Him for we shall see Him face to face.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Open Economy Now


Dear Mr. President, Congressmen, Senators, Mayor, and Civic Leaders in the USA and Abroad,

I am writing to you as the Presiding Minister of Council of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC), an International Denomination.

We have been praying for you and continue to do so. May the Lord grant you His wisdom as you make decisions in this time of trial.

First of all, thank you for the care and concern you have shown for the citizens who elected you, and for your attempt to do what you believed to be best for the public good in light of the available information at the time. 

It is now apparent that our initial information was incomplete. The pandemic is not what we all thought it was going to be. This is understandable. It was new. We all thought it was a dire threat and we all responded to protect the lives of our citizens, and our congregants, as we should have. It is now clear that the stated rationale for these temporary, emergency actions, “to flatten the curve”, has been achieved, and that these temporary measures are no longer necessary. If we continue on the current course of action of extreme mitigation, things may get much worse, as we fear they most certainly will. 

President Trump was right to say that the cure cannot be worse than the disease. In fact, it is. The pandemic did not justify putting millions of people out of work and locking down businesses and churches for the indefinite future. It is now time to open up for business, return to work and return to the worship of the Triune God. 

While Covid-19 is among us and members of our churches have been harmed by the disease, the much larger damage to our members has been done by cutting off the means of supporting the lives of their families. In our churches, we have few Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations or deaths. However, we have many people whose ability to support the lives of their families has been greatly damaged through the loss of wages and damage to their businesses. For us, the cure has been far worse than the disease.

We encourage you to consider the immense damage that will be caused by continuing down this current path of a closed economy. The lost livelihoods, closed businesses, and the isolation of our congregants, is a tremendous loss to the health and well-being of our society. This damage will only worsen the longer we stay on the present course of sheltering in place and keeping the economy and houses of worship closed. Dangerous social unrest is the likely result of staying on this course.

We have a great concern for the lives and health of our members as well as those in our communities. Many in our churches are elderly or are in a high-risk category for Covid-19. Those individuals and their families, pastors, leaders and physicians, are the ones to make the best decisions about how they should live during the spread of this disease. If this were a great plague, a direct threat to the health and lives of all of our congregants, as many of us initially thought it was, we would be glad to continue to comply with reasonable measures to mitigate the spread. However, it is now clear that it is not the plague and we are not prepared to continue to comply with extreme mitigation efforts. 

Our desire is to be obedient to the civil magistrate. However, we must also do what we believe God expects of us, what is best for our people and our communities, and what our consciences dictate. For our American members, The U.S. Constitution rightly affords us these rights of speech and assembly because they extend to us from God, Himself. 

The citizens of the United States and our congregants are already beginning to strongly feel the need to get back to regular living. While we do not currently have a date after which we will no longer comply with the extreme restrictions, we believe the time is now at hand for our leaders to stand down from the extreme isolation efforts, and the date after which we will no longer comply, is soon approaching, in days or weeks, not months. 

Our response in the churches has been to humble ourselves, confess our sins, the sins of the church and the sins of our citizens and governments. Please join us in humbling yourselves before the Lord Jesus. 

We call upon the grace and mercy of God to give us relief. Death is an enemy, the last enemy that will be destroyed by the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge this. While we despise death, we do not fear death, because for us, to live is Christ and to die is gain. May God grant us repentance, and as we confess and repent of our many sins, we trust that He will be gracious to us and heal our land.

In the service of King Jesus,

Virgil Hurt
Presiding Minister of Council
Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC)

Friday, April 03, 2020

Glorious Gospel

We are sinners. Yes, that’s true. We deserve God’s wrath. Yes, that’s true, too. Even pestilence and plague. 
         But hear the Good News. Hear the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot save yourself. You cannot atone for your sins. Your death will not release you from your sin debt. You cannot live long enough to purge yourself of your own sins.
         But thanks be to God that Jesus Christ can save you. He has atoned for your sins. In His death, your debt to sin and death is paid. He has purged you of your sins.
         And the Lord has been raised from the dead and has raised you in Him to an everlasting life. And one day even your body will be raised from the dead to never die again. We do not fear death for in Christ we ever live, both in this world and in the world to come.

Prayer of Praise

O, Lord our God, You who have formed us in our mother’s womb and it is You who have formed us as the people of God. We will not fear, for You have redeemed us and called us by Your name and claim us for Your own. When we pass through the waters, You are with us. When we go through rivers, they will not overwhelm us. When we walk through fire, we will not be burned. The flame shall not consume us, for You, O Lord our God are the Holy One, who saves us by the name of Jesus, in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Humble Thyself

In the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus and the subsequent response by our civic leaders: president, governor, and mayors, there has been a wide array of opinions. "We have overacted! We have not reacted quickly enough! This is going to be a disaster! This no worse than the seasonal flu. Everyone should stay inside. Everyone should go about their business and let this run its course."
         The reality is that we have no idea what is going to happen. This is true in our ordinary daily lives, as well, but we do not even notice its truth. Although we assume tomorrow will be just like today, the truth is we do not know what tomorrow brings. This crisis may end up being not that big of a deal. It may end up killing millions of people. We don’t know. 
The reality is that our God is in control of all things. Hebrews says that He is a consuming fire. If He just breathes on us one little bit, we wither in abject fear and desperation. A little virus is not too much for Him, either to annihilate it in an instant, or to send it as a purging fire of His rod of discipline, both on His people whom He loves and upon a world that He owns, and is still largely in rebellion to Him.
         Our job is to humble ourselves before Him. As we do so, we run to Him for safety, for only in Him, in Jesus Christ, our Lord, is there any real comfort and peace and everlasting life. Humble yourself before the Lord and find an arbor of rest in Jesus.

Waiting and Fasting

It seems impossible for this shutdown to drag on for months. We won't even be able to do it for weeks. I am encouraged by President Trump's weakening on the shut down even as of yesterday, March 23. As of today, we still have a week to go for the mighty shutdown of 2020. That will get us to March 31. The Governors seem to be advocating for a longer time, shutting down all schools, many businesses and all gatherings over the size of 10. 

The churches have complied, and rightly so. We are good citizens and want to do our best to serve our communities in times of crisis. However, with hindsight, perhaps doing something quite different was best? Perhaps we should have merely strongly warned those at high risk to stay home and try their best to not contract this potent virus? And the rest of us should have soldiered on? That may soon be the reality and will give us great wisdom for the next time, and there will probably be a next time, that this sort of thing happens.

We've got a shutdown this week and I am guessing it will continue for another week after that. But after that....? After that, April 12 is coming. April 12 is Easter and Easter would be the perfect time to emerge from death into Resurrection. 

We are in a fast time. We are fasting from our community of believers. We are fasting from the Lord's Supper and the fellowship of the saints. My prayer is that our fasting would make us hungry. Hungry for the Word of God. Hungry for the Lord's Supper. Hungry for Corporate Worship. Hungry for the lifeline of the Body of Christ. Hungry to give ourselves to one another in Christian love so that the world will see that Christ is among us. 

I am thankful for this fast and I long to feast. Feast on Christ. Feast on the goodness that is His people. Feast in the joy and glory of Resurrection after the fast of death.

God is good.

Easter is Coming!

Everyone Dies

Everyone dies. 
We have all been asking what the mortality rate is for the coronavirus. And there is wild speculation about that. We won't know until the dust settles.
A better question might be, "What is the mortality rate of man?" The answer is 100%. Everyone dies.
Of course, none of us want to die foolishly or needlessly. Although death is an enemy, we do not fear death. And in the end, when our bodies have been resurrected in Christ, and we have been alive for 10,000 years, then whether we lived an extra five minutes or an extra five years is going to be indistinguishable. 
And when we look back at all this panic and fear of the year 2020, we will have a hearty laugh. That is the power of Resurrection. That is the power of an endless life. Look to Christ.
Easter is coming.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Wisdom for Uncertain Times

As a response to the corona virus, I did not do a normal sermon last Sunday. It was mostly Scripture reading that related directly to our issue at hand. I did make a few comments that are not listed here in the written sermon. You can find the recorded version here:

Response to Disaster: Humility, Repentance and Faith
March 15, 2020
Lynchburg, Virginia

Not a normal sermon. What is the Lord doing? It is marvelous in our eyes. God is good. He is saving the world. He works all things for good for His people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. So does calamity.

Exegesis (Scripture Reading)
2 Samuel 23- David’s Mighty Men was listed in this chapter. David was strong and the chapter nearly boasts in his strength.

2 Samuel 24:10-17 David’s Census and the Anger of the Lord
The Lord’s Judgment of David’s Sin
10 But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’ ” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” 
15 So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. 16 And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” 

Be Filled

Communion Meditation

Ladies, have you ever worked hard on a recipe and served up a succulent meal, only to have your husband or your children put their noses up at it? No doubt that is a disappointing situation.

Or, perhaps, you served up this scrumptious meal and everyone loved it but your teenage son didn’t say anything at all, he only picked at it for a few minutes. Then, about twenty minutes after dinner, he’s in the fridge and pantry fixing up some cold cereal because he’s says that he is starving.

What, you say? Did I not work hard to produce not only a beautiful meal, but one that was both super yummy and absolutely nutritious? Everyone thought so. Why didn’t you fill yourself up with that dinner like everybody else? He would probably offer some lame excuse, like, “I wasn’t hungry then.”

People, men, women, boys, girls, look at this meal. This is the body and blood of Jesus, given for you. He died on the cross. By His wounds, you are healed. He shed His blood. It covers your sin and shame. This is the meal you have hungered for, you who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Look upon this bread and wine, take and eat and be filled.

Prayer of Confession

This was our prayer of Confession last week on March 15, 2020, only a few days after we realized what a big deal this coronavirus thing was turning out to be.

Minister: Let us confess together. 
Our Father, we confess that we have loved the world and the things of the world. We have sought to be accepted and thought wise by those who despise Your law. We have given approval to those who practice things which You call sins. Turn us again that Your Church in America and throughout the world may be faithful to Your will for us as revealed in Your Word, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Additional Pastoral prayer of Confession- Our Father, we confess that as a nation we are not worthy of Your grace, mercy and kindness. You have granted us Your graces in abundance and we thank You. Out of Your kindness, You have treated us far better than we deserve, granting us Your unmerited favor. We are Your humble servants.
In light of this virus and the chaos that is ensuing in our state, in our nation and around the world, we confess that we are Your people and are fully dependent upon You alone. Deliver us, O Lord.
We confess our sins as Americans, and we, as American Christians, that even many of Your people in Your Church in America and around the world have not been diligent to obey Your Word and are guilty of various national sins, and sins even allowed in Your Church. Among them: worldliness in many ways, an unhealthy consumption of sports, our own financial prowess, our reliance upon the nanny state, ungodly education for our children, abortion on demand, sexual deviancy and confusion, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, lasciviousness, drunkenness and illicit drug use, disrespect of parents and those in authority, failure of wives and mothers in their duties, abdication of husbands and fathers, the failure of ministers to unapologetically preach the whole counsel of God.
Father, forgive us for these and other sins. Grant us repentance. Return Your people to obedience and holiness. Deliver us from this pestilence and grant us health in body and spirit. In Your great wisdom, use this scourge to purify Your people, that we might call the nations to obedience and discipleship, and expand the Kingdom of Christ as countless numbers of people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Use this pandemic to bring the rebellious principalities and powers into conformity to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, both now and forever. Amen.

Don't Justify

One of the prevailing sins of mankind is making excuses for our sins. 'Yes, but she irritated me! Yes, but he laughed at me! Yes, but my father mistreated me! Yes but the pastor ignored me.'
         Now, while it is true that your sister may have bugged you unnecessarily and that man disrespected you and your pastor is not perfect, any ‘yes butting’ is just a way of not taking responsibility for yourself. When other people sin against you, that is no excuse for your sin. That is why the Bible says, ‘Do not return evil for evil.’ There is never an excuse for evil doing.
         In fact, when you attempt to justify yourself, it is the only surefire way to not be justified at all. Our justification is in in the Lord as He declares us not guilty. So, own your sins, all of them. That is the only way to get forgiven for them and to move past them. Any attempt at justifying only causes you to retain your sins as your own right. Why would you do that? Don’t justify, confess and repent and let the Lord justify you.

Monday, August 19, 2019

No Penalty

Our communion service is about eating with God. God watches over us and He draws us to Himself. For some, this is quite scary because they remain in their own flesh. It is right to fear God when your hands and heart are not cleansed by His grace and mercy in Jesus Christ.

But for those of you who have been washed in the waters of baptism and have entered the gate through the blood of Jesus Christ, who are walking by faith in Jesus and confessing and repenting of sins, there is therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The penalty is paid. There is no debt of sin, or guilt or shame.

For such saints, the Communion Table is merely place of wonder and gratitude where we meet God face to face. And when we do, we do so boldly, not because we are so good but because He is. He does not turn away from us but receives us with a smiling visage so that our countenances are changed from sorrow to joy, from fear to rejoicing, from gloom to hope. This is the joy of meeting God face to face.

Face to Face

Jacob wrestled with God and thought it a frightening thing. He said, “I have seen God face to face and yet my life has been delivered.” It is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Were we to insist on a showing with God, we have no hope except in His grace and mercy. But as the Scripture tells us, we have been made free from sin, become servants of God, are made holy and have become recipients of everlasting life.
         How is it possible that we have seen God face to face and yet have survived? Because the scepter of his grace is extended to us through the work of the cross. You are forgiven, and are now invited and welcomed guests to have fellowship with God face to face.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Prayer of Thanksgiving
         Our Father, in everything we give You thanks for we know that this is Your will for us in Christ Jesus. We thank You for Him, for Your provision of our earthly needs through work, for the sacred rest of the Lord’s Day, for the privilege of returning a portion of our blessing to You in tithes and offerings, and for making us Your partners in taking the gospel of the Lord Jesus to the very ends of the Earth. Thank You, Father, for all of these things. Amen.

Prayer of Preparation
         Our Father, You have brought us to Your Table as Your welcome and honored guests. This is a privilege for which we are eternally grateful. You have washed us clean in Christ. You have taught us Your Word by the power of Your Holy Spirit and You have prepared a banquet where we get to eat bread and drink wine with the Triune God and the gathered saints. We give You thanks. Amen.

Confession of Sin

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

Minister: Let us confess together. 
Our Father, we acknowledge that apart from Your work in us, we can do nothing good. Our wicked deeds as well as our outwardly righteous works are filthy rags, tainted with impure motives and selfish desires. We all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Convict us, Father, of our sins, that we may repent and trust entirely in Christ’s work on our behalf. Work in us by Your Holy Spirit that we may do Your good pleasure. Amen.

Fairness Demands With God

The beginning of rivalry is a skewed sense of fairness. We often measure based upon our high estimation of our work and a low estimation of other’s work. Or, we assume motives. We think we are working for the right reasons even if our work is not quite up to snuff. And then, we assume the worst motives in others. They are only blessed financially because they are greedy for gain. They are only advanced in their work because they are willing to climb the corporate ladder. 
         The reality between them and us is often the exact opposite of what we let ourselves believe. So, when we demand fairness from God do not be surprised to see God’s ironic sense of humor kick in. Sometimes He does this because He is bringing sins home to roost in the lives of enemy unbelievers. Sometimes He does this because He loves His children and desires to teach them to grow up by revealing to them their own silliness and immaturity. 
         So, let us rest in God’s blessing to us, resist the temptation to demand to God that childish remain  ‘unfair!’, and let God sort out all the details in the end. If we have fallen into sins of covetousness and envy of our neighbor, then let us soundly repent.


Psalm 135:2-3 Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God, praise the Lord, for the Lordis good. Sing praises unto His name, for it is pleasant.
     O, Lord our God in Heaven, we sing praises to Your Name, for it is pleasant. You have chosen us for Your people, Your peculiar treasure. We know that You are great, the Lord above all gods. You do whatever pleases You in Heaven and on Earth, in the seas and all deeps. You make the clouds to rise at the end of the earth, the lightnings for the rain, and bring forth the wind from Your storehouses. You defeat our enemies and You uphold us with Your right hand. All glory, majesty and power be unto You forever and ever. Amen.   

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Genesis 29 sermon- What Goes Around Comes Around

Genesis 29:1-30
What Goes Around Comes Around
June 30, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

         As we make our way through Genesis, there is a recurring theme that is inescapable. God will have His way no matter who or what is in His way.
         His promises are true and no man can break God’s promise. Even when God threatens to revoke His promise to a particular person or people, He intends to deliver upon His promise.
         That promise is all about the person of Jesus Christ. From the very beginning, it was God’s plan to save the    world and He would have it so.
         So, what does this matter to us? We find ourselves in the midst of life, with all of its joys and sorrows and may have a hard time seeing what God’s macro plans have to do with our micro lives.
         But we ought not to be discouraged by God working His will no matter what man does, as if man didn’t really matter at all. If we think that way, then we have already lost sight of God’s purposes, because it is God’s set plan to save man. And not simply mankind as an abstraction. God sets His love on His own beloved Son and all those named in Him. This is not simply ‘a people’ but rather, particular people with names like Mason James, Edmund Augustine and John Theodore. God loves particular people and His interest is in them in the details.
         The key is for us to understand that God’s ultimate plans to save the world through a redeemer includes the salvation of ourselves and of our children.
         This is the very thing that makes the mess make sense. As we struggle through doubt, ill health, financial troubles, challenging or even wayward children, cultural demise, political strife and many such difficulties, we must see that God is weaving this all into a tapestry that reveals the salvation of the world that includes us, those named in Jesus Christ.
         God’s ultimate purposes are the foundation on which we build particular faith. We can go through the current difficulties, suffering, pain, trials, sicknesses, even death, things the Apostle Paul calls ‘light affliction’ 1 Cor. 4:16-18 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward manis renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding andeternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen aretemporal; but the things which are not seen areeternal.[1]
         You see, we faint not in the immediate trials of life because we understand God’s overarching plan, which includes us. This life we are passing through is temporal but it works in us an eternal weight of glory, which will redound to the glory of God, our chief end.

Leave the Table Full

Before the family meal, everyone is usually quite hungry. The smell of the cooking meal creates more hunger pangs and eager anticipation. It is sometimes difficult to sit down, wait for the hostess to sit, say a prayer of thanksgiving and then orderly pass the trays. We are hungry and want to eat.

But what satisfaction comes when we finally get to partake. The meal is good, the fellowship is sweet. All is restored to peace and joy in the home and we leave the Table full and content. This should be our daily practice.

Let that be a picture of this meal. We come to church weak and maybe even famished. We hunger for the Word, the Spirit and the Father. We wait upon the meal as it prepares then we sit down and say a blessing and eat and drink. Having come to the fount of God, prepared your soul, given thanks and eaten, you will be full of Jesus. You will be content, at peace, and joyful in the Holy Ghost. Everyone likes to go away from the Table full. So, eat and drink by faith so that you will be full of Jesus, His Spirit and His Father. Amen.

Offering and Communion Prayers

Prayer of Thanksgiving
         O Lord our God, maker of heaven and earth, the One in whom we live and move and have our being, we give You thanks for giving us life and health and peace through Jesus Christ, our Savior. We acknowledge that all that we are and all that we possess is from your kindness extended to us through Your own beloved Son. We give You ourselves, all that we are and all that we possess, and we pray that You would use us and our gifts to the glory of Christ, both now and evermore. Receive these tokens of our appreciation, bless and multiply them so that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified in all the earth. Amen.
Prayer of Preparation
         Our Father, You thought it wise that Your Son would be bruised for us. He was stricken but not forsaken. You raised Him from the dead and You raised us in Him. We give You thanks that Jesus died for us, to pay that debt that we could never pay. We thank You that He rose for us that we might be justified in Your sight. We thank You that He ascended on high, the ruler over all creation. We thank You for the Holy Spirit that indwells us and gives us life, both to body and to spirit. And we thank You that You keep, sustain and strengthen us through the power of Your Holy Spirit. All glory to You; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

American Sins

Someone recently asked me if it was appropriate to confess sins that we do not personally commit. For example, why do we confess abortion if our people do not have abortions? The answer is that we are not merely individuals. We are interconnected beings. We are Christians, so we are connected to the Church. We are husbands, wives or children so we are connected to a family. We are Americans, so we are connected to our country.
         While we may not be individually guilty of a particular sin, we are connected to a group that is. We are asking God to grant America repentance from various sorts of sins and so it is important for us to identify with America that is thus sinning. 
Therefore, it is good for us to confess our national connection to abortion, gay rights, transgender confusion, feminism, and such things. Some of these sins are even prevalent in the church. As the situation fits, it is right for us to confess and ask God to grant repentance to us personally, to our families, to our church and to the nation. We want His blessing to fall upon us and it cannot do so unless we turn from sin and turn to Him, as individuals, families, churches, states and nations. May God be gracious to us and grant our request.


Our Father, who art in Heaven, Thrice Holy is Your Name. Holy are You, Father. Holy is Your Son, Jesus. Holy is Your Spirit. We come to worship You aware of Your Holy majesty. We are prone to shrink away from You for we are a people of unclean lips. And yet, we glorify and praise You that through the work of Your Holy Son, You have purified our lips that we might come boldly into Your presence, having been made holy ourselves by the precious blood of Jesus and filled with Your Holy Spirit. We give You the glory and we sing Your praises now and evermore. Amen.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Genesis 28 Sermon-Bread, Raiment and Peace

Genesis 28:1-22
Bread, Raiment and Peace
June 23, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

         Our Lord has promised to take care of us. He keeps His promises. We have not seen the righteous begging for bread. The fact that God promises to take care of us is one good reason to walk in faith. Of course, the Lord provides food, drink and shelter for us, the basic necessities of the human body. But His general promises are also true. Those who serve Him know that you reap what you sow. If you work hard, the Lord provides a bountiful harvest. If you trust Him with your riches, particularly in tithing, then you always have enough money. If you trust Him with your time, particularly by setting aside one day in seven as a Sabbath to the Lord, then you always have enough time to accomplish whatever the Lord has called you to.
         But we do not serve the Lord merely for what He can provide for us. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. But He keeps His own in perfect peace.

28 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother.
Isaac has now come to his senses and seeks to bless Jacob. He knows that Rebekah is right concerning Esua’s wives. They are a grief and are the potential downfall of the family. Furthermore, Esau is plotting the murder of Jacob, so Rebekah is planning his escape to safety.
It seems that Isaac is still not willing to hold Esau accountable. If he did, Rebekah would be able to reveal the plot against Jacob and Isaac could set Esau straight, send him away, or strengthen Jacob to protect himself. Instead, Jacob is driven away and Esau remains in the good graces of his father.

All Provision

Jacob was after food, clothing and peace. These are three necessities. Maybe we do not see peace that way but it is. God has provided for us through His Son. He promises to provide our physical needs. He gives us food, clothing, shelter. And sometimes we only think of these sorts of things as needs. Without them we die.

But without peace we also die. If you are not at peace with God, then you are at war with Him and that is always a losing proposition. But thanks be to God that He has provided a way of peace with Him through His own beloved Son. He sends His Holy Spirit to give us a spirit of peace that passes all understanding. 

In the world you will have tribulation but we know that He has overcome the world, and that gives us a peace that know man can take from us. Peace with God has given us an inner peace without which we could not be.

Sinless in Jesus

Dear Saints, we know we sin and our sins often rise up before us and condemn us. We are infected with a guilty conscience and feel the need to do penance to cleanse ourselves. The problem is that penance won’t cleanse you. If anything, it only condemns you more because your penance is also faulty.
         We shrink from the thought that we are sinless in Jesus. We even resist it thinking if we go there then we might even sin more. God forbid! But the reality is that Jesus has purged your sins. He has forgiven you and presented you to His Father as one who can rightly, even worthily stand before Him. The Father sees you as sinless because you stand here in the name of His sinless Son, Jesus. Think on that. Breathe a sigh of relief. Be filled with joy in the Holy Ghost. Give God the glory.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Genesis 26:34-27:46
Jacob Have I Hated
June 16, 2013
Lynchburg, Virginia

         The Word of God should lead us, not our own desires, the cultural expectations, or what we simply think is best. When the Word is clear, we must obey. 
In this chapter, we see that Isaac has grown old. His senses are weak. He is blind and his sense of touch and smell are weakened. He hears okay but is reduced enough to not believe his ears.
Isaac was about to sin against the command of God. His wife, Rebekah, had her eyes upon God’s covenant promises and hatches a plot to keep Isaac from forfeiting God’s blessing.
We can see from the narrative in this chapter and the next that Rebekah’s plan worked and that Isaac came to his senses.
Rebekah and Jacob are often condemned for this plot. Remember that Jacob obeys his mother here. Remember also that if the plot fails and Isaac issues a curse to Jacob instead of a blessing, that Rebekah is willing for the curse to fall upon her and not Jacob. 
Given the level of deception to secure this blessing, it is also clear that Isaac could have reversed his action. He could have said, “Let the blessing I gave to Jacob not fall upon Esau and let Jacob, the deceiver be accursed.” He does not do this. Why? Because he realized that Rebekah and Jacob were right and that his blessing was rightly placed on Jacob and not on Esau.
         So, does the end justify the means? Does the outcome of bringing Isaac to his senses, negate the deceit of Rebekah and Jacob towards Isaac? I don’t think it should be looked at in that way. This was an extreme measure to keep Isaac from crossing God. The text does not give us more details about the prior conversations of Rebekah and Isaac about which of the sons should be the son of promise, but her actions reveal that she thought she had no other options.
          Can you imagine a modern day example for a moment? Imagine a family with a vast estate. They have thousands of acres, many thousands of cattle, hundreds of employees and a billion dollars in the bank. They have two sons, one a wastrel and insolent towards his parents and the blessings of his life. The other has paid attention to his mother, who manages the estate, and has a keen eye towards the management of flocks and herds. The father connects to the wastrel and the mother to the faithful son. She knows that the older son would destroy them. What should she do? The father will not hear her mind in the matter even though he knows his wastrel son will destroy all they have built. Such a woman might take extreme measures to protect the property from such a son.  And she would be right to do so.

God's Blessing on You

How can you be more blessed than to be in God’s presence, forever, cleansed from sin, clothed in white and seated at His Table? The answer? You cannot.

Today is Father’s Day and a good day to remember our Father, who is in Heaven. He is the perfect Father. Though we have failed Him many times, He does not hold it against us. He provides a way for us to come to Him, to sit with Him, to receive His blessing. He is full of forgiveness and eager to pour out His bounty upon us. 

Through His own beloved Son, He has made us worthy partakers of His blessing. He blesses us as He blesses Jesus, the One in whom He is well pleased. A child is content when he is welcomed and blessed at his father’s table. This is you. You have come to receive the blessing from the Father and the Son. His Holy Spirit rests upon you. Give thanks.

The Need for Cleansing

For some, confession is merely going through the motions. Because we think we are better than the next man or woman, then we give ourselves a pass. But what if we compare ourselves to God, the Father? Or to His Holy Son, Jesus? Or, to the Holy Spirit. God, in His perfections is Holy, the One who dwells in unapproachable light. 
         Our entire worship service is based upon how we approach a Holy God. Isaiah was concerned that he was going to die because He had seen the One Holy God. Beware saint, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. Such ground ought not to be defiled and where it is there is a great cost. A life must be given for such sacrilege. 
         Do you see this need? Do you come to God carefully? And only in the name of His Son, Jesus who died for You? And by the power of His Holy Spirit who gives you life? 
         Come to God respectfully in the name of His Son and receive the bounty of His blessing of forgiveness. Come to Him in your own name of comparative virtue and receive your just punishment. Choose, rather, to bow the knee to Jesus.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Genesis 26 Sermon, Wells of Salvation

Genesis 26:1-33
Wells of Salvation
June 9, 2019
Lynchburg, Virginia

Isaac leaves the land in which he was dwelling in the face of a great famine. The crops had failed in the midst of a dearth of rain and there was not enough food to preserve them. In the land of his wandering, he finds water, the source of life. 
But he is hard pressed by the enemies of God. They claim his water without doing the work to dig the well. Isaac moves on trying to find peace and rest only to find more trouble.
God intervenes on his behalf, and uses the occasion of the lust of the Philistines to plunder them and bring great riches and wealth to Isaac.
In this land, God provides a well of springing water. Isaac sows and the blessing of God provides a one hundred fold increase. 
These stories of God’s provision of water should remind us of what water symbolizes. 
John says, “I baptize you with water but one is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John 1:29-34 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which ||taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.[1]

26 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
Moses points out that this is a different famine than the one in Abraham’s day. The reason seems clear, that this story is so similar to the previous story of Abraham, that he doesn’t want to be confused and conflate them.