Friday, November 21, 2014

Missing Out by a Failure to Listen and Submit

Psalm 81:10-12 (ESV)

10 I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
    Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 “But my people did not listen to my voice;
    Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
    to follow their own counsels.

Notice the Lord's good intentions for us in verse 10.  He wants to satisfy our hearts.  He wants to fill us and give us grace, joy, peace, and himself as our portion.

But notice also the proper response to his offer of grace and salvation in verse 11.  We must hear his Word and submit to Him and his good and gracious will.

Finally, notice what happens when we refuse to hear his instruction and submit to him.  He judges us by letting us go our own way.  He lets us follow what we think is best, rather than his way, and it leads to a lack of inward satisfaction and the joy of knowing the Lord.  We miss the highest purpose of our creation, which is to be in fellowship with the Father and the Son, a fellowship that provides a continual inward feast and delight.  The Lord points to the fellowship/feast that satisfies the soul in the last verse of the psalm: "But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Don't miss out on the feast/fellowship you and I were created for.  Listen and submit to the Lord.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Paradigm Shift: A Sacramental Worldview

I feel like I have experienced a paradigm shift in my view of the world the last couple years.  The best way I can describe it is that I now hold to a sacramental view of the world.

A sacramental view of the world is a view that sees all created things as pointing to a higher, heavenly reality.   What is a sacrament? A sacrament is a sign that points to and participates in a higher reality.  So, for example, the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper point to, but also participate in, the body and blood of Christ.  When we take the bread and the wine as Christians, we not only see Christ, but we also participate in Him, and receive his life.

But the sacrament of the Supper is based on the ultimate sacrament of Jesus Christ, whose incarnation joins God and man, heaven and earth, and whose death and resurrection enable his people to move from death to life, from earth to heaven, to participation in the triune life of God. 

In using common and universal elements like water, bread, and wine, the sacraments, but particularly the Supper, show us how to view all of God's creation and how to use and enjoy it in a manner pleasing to our Creator and Redeemer.  In our Lord's actions before the Supper, we have a picture of how humanity is meant to live:

First, Jesus receives the bread and wine.  All things are a good gift from God the Father.  Lust is about self-grasping, but trust is about receiving all things from the Father.

Second, Jesus looks to heaven and gives thanks.  The God and Father of Jesus is good and generous and deserving of continual thanksgiving.

Third, Jesus breaks the bread.  We offer what we receive from the Father back to him, including ourselves.  This self-offering is our reasonable worship, and it imitates the self-giving of each member of the trinity to one another, and the self-giving of Jesus on the cross.

Fourth, the bread is given and eaten, a bread which points to and participates in the body and blood of Jesus.  In all created things we are given, we can see Jesus in them if our eyes are opened, and we are able to use them to share in his life, that is, to enjoy satisfying fellowship with the Father and the Son.  Truly Jesus is our true portion and daily bread.

In using the creation this way, we see its true meaning and beauty, which is derived from Jesus, in whom all things hold together.  In using creation this way, we avoid the idolatry that ends in death and lack of satisfaction.  In using creation this way, we have a continual feast as we live in fellowship with the Father and the Son through the Spirit, as we walk in a world that speaks to us about God's glory, mediated through the Son, continuously.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Christ the Key to Understanding All Reality

Psalm 78:67-70 (ESV)
67 He rejected the tent of Joseph;
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loves.
69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.
70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;


Verse 69 in context teaches us the truth we learn in John 2 that Jesus' body is the temple/sanctuary. The human body is remarkably patterned after the sanctuary/temple of the earth, which was patterned in the Old Testament after the heavenly temple. In the incarnation, Jesus brings heaven and earth together, and in him we see the sacramental ontology built into creation itself, which points to higher realities and participates in them because in Christ all things hold together.
Christ is the key to understanding all reality and the way human beings are to live. He opens our eyes to see that all created things, including our bodies, are sacramental and are to be used in such a way that we see Jesus in all things, offer them to them to him, and participate in his life by faith.

A "Sweet and Infinitely Inclusive Jesus?"

I read this today and it was a good warning for me, and maybe it will be a good warning for others too:

"Those who devote their lives to idolatry while offering facile and superficial worship will come under the sentence of destruction and exile.  Jesus does not defuse such judgment: he repeats and re-enacts it.  The Old Testament focuses our understanding of Jesus' role as an eschatological prophet of God's judgment.  The sweet, infinitely inclusive Jesus meek and mild, so beloved by modern Protestantism, is a Jesus cut loose from his Old Testament roots."  --Richard B. Hays in "Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness"

Said in a more blunt way, we are fooling ourselves if we think Jesus will accept us and save us if we do not seek to follow him as our Lord and Teacher.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Hymn for the Opening of Worship

These lyrics are sort of my alternative to "Shine, Jesus, Shine," a truly awful "worship" song that has happily receded in use. It is based on Luke 8:16-18, in which Jesus teaches what we should do when we gather in church, which originally met in houses.  Thus the house setting of the parable in verse 16 points to a church setting. Here are the words and tune if you want to try singing it:

Shine, O Jesus, In Our Midst

Suggested tune: SONG 13 (http://www.hymnary.org/tune/song_13_gibbons). Based on Luke8:16-18. Meter: 7777. Words: William Weber, 2014. (after sermon, beginning of worship, song of illumination, church and its mission)

v. 1
Shine, O Jesus, in our midst,
send Your Spirit to assist.
We would seek to lift You high,
and Your name to glorify.

v. 2
As we gather 'round Your Word,
may we see Your glory, Lord.
Make Your kingdom myst'ries known,
to Your children, to Your own.

v. 3
Gather those who do not know,
grace and truth and glory show.
May they come into the light,
leave the darkness of the night.

v. 4
Lord, if we profess Your name,
children of the Light our claim,
may our Father we obey,
hear and do His Word each day.

v. 5
On the final judgment day,
Christ the hearts of men will weigh.
So be careful how you hear,
ready when your Lord appears.

v. 6
In our hearts and all we do,
Jesus, we would honor You.
Light and life on us bestow,
may it increase, may it grow.

Lord and Savior, but not Teacher?

Jesus is Lord, Savior, and Teacher. These three offices correspond to the Old Testament offices of king, priest, and prophet. More and more I think the office that gets short shrift in our day is teacher. While some people falsely think Jesus can be their Savior without being their Lord, there seem to be lots of professing Christians who say Jesus is their Lord and Savior, but care little about learning from him as their teacher. How can we claim to be his disciples and pay no attention to his teaching? As Christians we should immerse ourselves in the Gospels everyday, but do we? Jesus should be our sole teacher. Every other teacher in our lives should be judged in relation to Jesus' teaching. But if we barely know what Jesus says, how will this discernment take place? We need to return to the Gospels day after day to learn from our teacher, if we claim to be his.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Hymn Based on Luke 8:19-21

Wondrous Priv'lege to Us Granted
                                                             
Suggested tune: REGENT SQUARE (http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=44).  Meter: 878787.  Based on Luke 8:19-21.  Words: William Weber, 2014.  (song after sermon, adoption, union with Christ, family of God, the church, incarnation, new birth/regeneration, God's love, trinity)
                  
                                         
v. 1
Wondrous priv'lege to us granted,
if to Jesus we belong.
Into Him are we engrafted,
if His name we call upon.
Blessed to be in Jesus' fam'ly,
give Him praise in joyful song.

v. 2
Jesus is our older brother,
in His mercy came to earth.
On an errand from the Father,
to bring many sons to birth.
Blessed are we in Jesus' fam'ly,
praise the Son of matchless worth.

v. 3
Father, You in love adopted,
rebel orphans sought to bless.
We were barred from Your blessed presence,
now in Jesus, free access.
God our Father, Christ our brother,
In His fam'ly we are blessed.

D v. 4
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
love from all eternity.
Father, help your church to model,
triune love for all to see.
Through the Son and by the Spirit,
form a loving family.
                                         

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