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Archive for the ‘The Word’ Category

The Resurrection of our Loved Ones

On this tremendous question of the resurrection of our loved ones, our yearning hearts are satisfied with nothing less than certainty. We demand absolute certainty, and there are just two truths that can give it. The first one is the actual fact of Christ’s own resurrection from the death-slumber; the second is His omnipotent assurance that all they who sleep in Him shall be raised up and be where He is for evermore. Those early Christians were wise in their generation when they carved on the tomb of the martyrs “In Jesu Christo obdormivit” — in Jesus Christ he fell asleep.

The fragrance of this heavenly line perfumes the very air around the believer’s resting-place. Giving to the Latin word its true pronunciation, there is sweet melody, as well as Heaven sent truth, in this song of the sleepers:

“Oh! Precious tale of triumph this!
And martyr-blood shed to achieve it,
Of suffering past—of present bliss.
In Jesu Christo obdormivit.’

Of cherished dead be mine the trust,
Thrice-blessed solace to believe it,
That I can utter o’er their dust,
In Jesu Christo obdormivit.’

Now to my loved one’s grave I bring
My immortelle and interweave it
With God’s own golden lettering,
In Jesu Christo obdormivit.’”

Memorial Tributes, page 207 edited by J. Sanderson; published by Solid Ground Christian Books

Memorial Tributes

Prayer for Worship

Great God of heaven, we have sinned. We confess that we do not truly listen to your Word. We read it and hear it, but we do not obey it. We say, ‘That was a great sermon!’ but it doesn’t make much difference, because we are not willing to change.

We confess that we do not worship you the way you deserve to be worshipped. We are more concerned about what we get out of it than what we put into it. We are often distracted. Our lips keep moving, but our hearts are cold and still.

We confess that we do not love one another very much. We do not want to be bothered with other people’s problems. We do not care enough to confront, but when other Christians fail, we are quick to condemn them. We think the worst about others rather than the best.

We confess that we do not always fulfill our responsibilities to one another. Those of us who are shepherds have little love for your sheep. We are harsh when we should be gentle, and when we need to be firm, we lack the courage to say or do what is right. Those of us who are sheep do not honor our shepherds. We fail to pray for them, and then we complain when they do not meet our expectations.

We confess that we are not willing to pay the high cost of discipleship. We try to be as worldly as we think we can get away with. We prefer to squeeze our faith in around the edges of life, rather than to let you stand at the center to control everything we are and have.

We confess that we lack compassion. We think it is important to help the poor, provided that someone else actually does the helping.

In the name of Jesus, we ask forgiveness for these and all our sins.

 

a prayer by Pastor Philip G Ryken in preparation for worship at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA

 

The Law and Gospel Distinguished

The law commands, and makes us know
What duties to our God we owe;
But ’tis the gospel must reveal
Where lies our strength to do his will.

The law discovers guilt and sin,
And shews how vile our hearts have been;
Only the gospel can express
Forgiving love and cleansing grace.

What curses doth the law denounce
Against the man that fails but once!
But in the gospel Christ appears
Pardoning the guilt of numerous years.

My soul, no more attempt to draw
Thy life and comfort from the law,
Fly to the hope the gospel gives;
The man that trusts the promise lives.

 

Isaac Watts

Watts

Psalm 112

     Praise the LORD!

At first glance Psalm 112:1-10 appears to be praising the people of God. However if read in the context of its specific connection to the previous Psalm (and all the other Psalms) it reminds us that whatever glory we have comes from the Lord, and that all glory and praise must return to Him. The Psalmist is saying that we have a legitimate reason to praise the Lord since there are people in the world who fear Him and serve Him. And believers are a happy people – all the blessing they have in the way of happiness and relative prosperity are owed entirely to the grace of God.

These blessings are not to those who merely say, “Lord, Lord” but to those who truly ‘fear the Lord’, those who are in awe of Him and defer to His will – these believers will be blessed. And to those who ‘delight in His commandments’ and take pleasure in their duty as a child and not as a slave there is great joy and peace of mind. Much more can be said about the individual blessings that the Psalmist list here but let’s look at the last verse in this psalm.

Why are the wicked angry? To unbelievers a joyful believer is seen as a vindication of the truth of the gospel (especially a believer joyfully enduring trials). Unbelievers are not neutral in regard to God – they reject Him, despise His Commandments, and hate His people. Jesus prayed for us because he knew that worldlings will always hate believers (John 17:14). Since we are not of this world the world hates us. We want to be wise, prudent in speech, and inoffensive in our actions but we know that in spite of that and any other good work we do the world will still hate us. The world despised Jesus in spite of all his perfection, miracles & good works that he performed while in the world. Likewise we cannot expect the world to love us.

Matthew Henry, speaking of the anger of sinners, in his commentary on this Psalm 112 states it well:

But it will most fully be accomplished in the other world, when it shall make damned sinners gnash with their teeth, to see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in him bosom, to see all the prophets in the kingdom of God and themselves thrust out. Their own disappointment: The desire of the wicked shall perish. Their desire was wholly to the world and the flesh, and they ruled over them; and therefore, when these perish, their joy is gone, and their expectations from them are cut off, to their everlasting confusion; their hope is as a spider’s web.

Robin Eckhardt

Psalm 111

Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

Psalm 111:1-10 is a lovely ‘call to worship’ scripture. Indeed, we worship a ‘glorious and majestic’ God and it is right that we briefly consider:

  • His works (vs 2, 3, 6, 7, & 9),
  • His righteousness (v 3),
  • His mercy and compassion toward us (v 4),
  • His provision for His people (vs 5 & 9),
  • and the trustworthiness of His Word (vs 7 & 8).

Do we desire godly wisdom and understanding? The Psalmist gives us encouragement as we seek to follow the Lord’s precepts … the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and all who follow His precepts have good understanding.

Do we wonder how we shall rightly observe the Sabbath? The Psalmist begins with praise ‘in the assembly’ (v 1) and ends with ascribing ‘eternal praise’ to the LORD (v 10) … may we spend this Lord’s day in public and private praise to our heavenly Father, remembering that our present praise is only an earthly shadow of our future and eternal occupation with the saints in heaven.

Robin

 

Philippians 2:5-11

 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
 6 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
 7 but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
 8 And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross!
 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
      and gave him the name that is above every name,
 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.

If there was ever a point to stop and merely rejoice in the wonders of what God is doing in Christ, to sit back and let God work, it is certainly after the hymn of praise to Christ found in Philippians 2:5-11. But Paul does not allow us to do this. Instead he immediately applies the doctrine saying, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). He does not mean, “Work for your salvation.” He means, “Since you are saved, since God has already entered your life in the person and power of his Holy Spirit and is at work within you conforming you to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ-because of these things you are now to work as hard as you can to express the fullness of this great reality in your conduct. Nevertheless, as you do this, it is God who does the working.”

Peter said the same thing. “[God's] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness …. ” It is all of God. Nevertheless, Peter continues, “For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Pet. 1:3, 5-7).

James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith pg. 63-66.

Losing our First Love

There is … the very real possibility in every Christian that he will learn to live at a distance from the love of Christ. Our corruption works in us a constant tendency to withdraw from Christ into the shadows. Days and even months can go past in the experience of the Lord’s people in which they are virtual strangers to the inward enjoyment of the love of Christ in their hearts. The soul grows callous. Layers of worldliness or coldness, like coats of paint on an old door, overspread the soul till we become accustomed to feeling nothing, enjoying nothing, expecting nothing, knowing nothing of those heart-warmings which are all-important to spiritual well-being. The next step is that the believer falls into a dead formalism. Prayer is got through as mere duty and routine. The Bible is read either to keep up appearances or to salve the weak voice of conscience. But spiritual exercises are now no longer enjoyed. The soul has no relish for the things of the Spirit. The consequence is that new companions are sought who are unfriendly to heart-religion. Then corners are cut in obedience to the Word of God. Finally, offence is taken at the lives of those Christians in the fellowship who are walking with God in ‘the power of godliness’. These are now criticized by the cold Christian as ‘too narrow’, ‘too strict’, ‘carrying things too far’, ‘extremists’, ‘troublemakers’, and then, at last, ‘not really belonging to our church’ because they are ‘old fashioned’ or ‘bigoted’.

Countless believers have declined in this way. Part of the tragedy is that they have fallen into coldness while convincing themselves that they were serving God. The scholar at his books persuades himself that he is too busy to spend an hour each morning in secret devotions. The pastor feels he cannot devote time to the cultivation of his soul because he has too many letters to reply to or even sermons to prepare. The missionary cannot wait on the Lord as he used to because of the pressures of language-study, and later on still, because of deputation work in the home country.

In these crafty ways does the devil lead God’s people by a staircase which winds ever downwards. But let us recall in the midst of our busy life that we may do ourselves and the cause of God great harm by our neglect of the soul. Let us once lose the dew of our spiritual freshness and we are at once a ready prey to compromise. How have so many evils come into the church but through men’s neglecting to cultivate daily fellowship with Christ? Like the Ephesian church in the Book of Revelation, they have been busily engaged in their ‘works’ and ‘labor’ and ‘patience’ and even their zeal for orthodoxy. But in the eyes of the Saviour they have ‘left their first love’ (Rev. 2:2-4) and risk loosing the very ‘candlestick’ altogether.

We may conclude … with a concern to revive in ourselves and in our brethren far more emphasis on heart-religion. As we view the state of the churches, this is the great priority everywhere. Nothing must be permitted to weaken our cultivation of fellowship with Christ.

The overwhelming concern of the Christian’s life must surely be to live unto God, upon God and for God. What else can the familiar words mean where the apostle Paul tells us, ‘For to me to live is Christ’?

What a force for good even a handful of Christians would be who lived in near intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ! What prayers would be heard again in the earth as believers took hold of the sleeve of Christ and drew down the blessings! What power and authority for our preaching would flow out of his glorious ‘fullness’ (John 1:16)! What new life would be breathed into all our meetings if an army of …(believers) …emerged from their closets melted with gospel-love! What new levels of excitement would there be in our services if preachers came into their pulpits clothed in the garments of visible holiness! In a word, what might not be done for God if only we were not so ignorant of him!

Maurice Roberts, The Thought of God, (Edinburgh:BPC Paperbacks, 1993) pg.63-66.

Word-Based Religion

Wonder why Christians have advocated literacy? Brother Joey Huggins reminds us that Christians must read!

What Is Truth?

Brother Steven R. Henderson reminds us where we may find truth.

Christian Worldview

Brother Joey Huggins reminds us that a Christian must base his worldview on the Bible!