Saturday, January 30, 2010

Don't Allow the Distractions of Life to Distract You from Fellowship with Jesus

A good interpretation of Martha's problem in Luke 10 from Kel Richards:

"This is also why in Luke 10:40, older translations of the Bible say that “Martha was cumbered about much serving”. While her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus (listening to his words, learning from him), Martha was rushing around “cumbered about much serving”.


"Her fault was not that she served (that's what Christians are supposed to do), but that she was distracted by her serving (that's what cumbered means). Martha allowed the distractions of daily life to override her contact with Jesus.

"Each day is packed full of distractions that leap up and down and wave their hands, wanting us to pay attention to them and not listen to Jesus. We have to find the balance: listen to Jesus and serve others."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Luther Quote

"We should let God do the worrying. . . . worrying is opposition to God." --Martin Luther (What Luther Says, p. 1542)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

truthXchange Articles 64: Feast of the Epiphany: The One True Avatar

truthXchange Articles 64: Feast of the Epiphany: The One True Avatar

Riddleblog - The Latest Post - The Pope's Self-Flagellation

Riddleblog - The Latest Post - The Pope's Self-Flagellation

Kind of sad.

The Great Blessing of Sharing in Christ and All His Blessings --- Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 53

1) Heidelberg Catechism

53 Q. What do you believe concerning "the Holy Spirit"?

A. First, he, as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God.

Second, he has been given to me personally, so that, by true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings, comforts me, and remains with me forever.

2) Scripture

Philippians 3:20: But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:31-33: Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Romans 14:17: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Comment

The pessimistic philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was sitting in a park, his hair all disheveled. A man asked him who he was. The great philosopher replied, “I wish to God I knew.” Emil Brunner may have overstated the case, but nevertheless, he points to a central truth about our existence when he said, “The most powerful of all spiritual forces is man’s view of himself, the way in which he understands his nature and his destiny.”

Bruce Waltke writes, “Like manic-depressives, moderns both esteem themselves as animals and usurp the place of God. . . . The sovereign self decides truth by itself for itself, not by a source of authority outside of itself. Its credo is ‘Believe in yourself.’ . . . Postmodernism loves self as god, not a God external to self. [But] this is the essence of sin. Without God man knows neither his or her identity nor his rightful place in the scheme of things.”

One of the great blessings of the Holy Spirit is that he shows us who we are in Christ. He locates our place in the universe. He “makes us share in Christ.” In other words, he brings us into union with Christ. He shows us that “our citizenship is in heaven,” and reorients our lives toward the kingdom of God.

We don’t have to live anxious lives as citizens of Christ’s kingdom, for we have a Father who provides for our needs. We don’t have to find our security in earthly things, for we have found something better in heavenly things---“in Christ and all his blessings.” The Spirit shows us who we are in Christ, and he shows us how blessed we are to be in Christ!

Discussion: What is role of the Holy Spirit in terms of our self-identity? From the Scripture verses above, what do you learn about your identity as a Christian? How should your identity in Christ affect the way you live?

Prayer Starter: Gracious Father and dearest Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell our hearts. Give us insight and a clear apprehension of our identity in Christ. May we see ourselves as incredibly blessed in Christ, and live out our identity in him through the power of the Spirit you give. Amen.





NewsNote: Mugged by Ultrasound

NewsNote: Mugged by Ultrasound


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Roe v. Wade's 37th anniversary: Roger Nicole's letter to Harry Blackmun... - BaylyBlog: Out of our minds, too...

Roe v. Wade's 37th anniversary: Roger Nicole's letter to Harry Blackmun... - BaylyBlog: Out of our minds, too...

"He was conceived by the Holy Spirit . . . ."

Lessons on Reading Scripture from Psalm 70 --- Search the Scriptures

Psalm 70 (English Standard Version)
O LORD, Do Not Delay

To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering.

1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!

2Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
3Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, "Aha, Aha!"

4May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, "God is great!"

5But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!


-------------------------------------------------

Literary Lessons

As with any literature, if you can identify the genre and the structure, you will better understand the meaning. The same is true with the Psalms. One of the first things to notice about Psalm 70 is an inclusio. An inclusio is a repetition that encloses a passage to form a literary unit. Psalm 70 begins with a prayer for swift deliverance:
Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Psalm 70 ends with a similar prayer for quick deliverance, and thus, the inclusio is formed:
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!
Chiasm is another literary device biblical writers use. A chiasm is sort of like a sandwich. Two pieces of bread on the outside with some good stuff in the middle! Just as the best part of the sandwich is often the meat on the inside, so often times (but not always) in a chiasm, the writer is highlighting the middle portion of the structure.

Here is how the chiasm for Psalm 70 looks:
A --- 1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!

B --- 2Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
3Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, "Aha, Aha!"

B’ --- 4May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, "God is great!"

A’ --- 5But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!
What are the advantages of seeing this chiastic structure in the psalm? Immediately, it shows us that two contrasts are at work in this psalm. In the B elements, the attitude of David’s enemies is contrasted to the attitude of the Lord’s people. In the A elements, David’s weakness is contrasted with the Lord’s strength. One can notice these contrasts without noticing the chiastic structure of the psalm, but these contrasts jump out at you when you are aware of the chiasm.

Let’s also remember that David, the author of this psalm, foreshadows Jesus. David was the christ, the Lord’s anointed one, and he foreshadows Jesus who was the Christ, the Father’s anointed king. This means that the words of David can be read as the words of Jesus, thus giving the Psalms much more depth and meaning for us who live under the reign of Jesus, rather than the reign of David.

When we begin to look at the content of Psalm 70, David is asking for swift deliverance. David’s Son, Jesus Christ, also asked for swift deliverance when he hung on the cross. Jesus received that deliverance on the third day when he rose, triumphant over death and all his enemies.

The Creator/Creature Contrast

David views himself as “poor and needy.” Can we put these words into the mouth of Jesus? Is this how our Lord viewed himself?

Most certainly! In his human nature, Jesus was just as dependent on the Lord as any of us. Jesus understood that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God!” In his human nature, Jesus was dependent on the Father for breath and life and spiritual strength. Even in Christ’s divine nature, Jesus always did and said the things he saw the Father doing. Yes, Jesus is equal to the Father in majesty, power, and glory, but there is also a subordination of the Son to the Father, so that the Son does only what he sees the Father doing.

One application from this is to learn the truth that to be truly human is to be completely dependent on God. To be most human is to see ourselves as “poor and needy.” Our society’s exaltation of the independent self-made man is a delusion. Human beings depend on the Lord for their next breath and heartbeat, and if we are physically dependent on the Lord, and if all that we have comes from his bestowal of gifts and abilities, then how much more dependent on the Lord are we spiritually?

There is always a great contrast between the Creator and the creature. We need to learn to honor this distinction, and let God be God in our lives. He is our Ruler and Sustainer. All our ways and days are in his hand. We truly are poor and needy, because this is how he created us. We were created to live in dependence on him. As Jesus taught us, man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

The Contrast Between the Enemies of the Lord and People of the Lord: Attitude and Destiny

The second contrast in Psalm 70 is the contrast in attitudes between the enemies of David and the Lord’s people. It was a heinous sin to oppose David. Why? Because David was God’s anointed king. To oppose David was to oppose God.

But if it was a great sin to oppose David, how much greater is the sin of opposing God’s Son whom he sent from heaven and has now raised as king over the entire universe? To oppose Jesus Christ is to oppose the One who sent him. To honor God’s Son is to honor God the Father.

Verses 2 and 3 also point to the destiny of those who oppose the christ/Christ. The destiny of those who oppose God’s anointed king is confusion, shame, and dishonor. As Jesus once said to those who opposed him, “Unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

In contrast to the attitude and destiny of those who oppose David and David’s greater Son, stand those who know the Lord’s salvation (v. 4). First, we see the motivation of those who belong to the Lord. Their motivation is to see the Lord exalted:
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, "God is great!"
Christ’s people long to see the Father and the Son glorified. The Christian’s attitude in all areas of life is to see God exalted. The first way we exalt God is to receive or welcome the Son into our lives, whom the Father sent into the world for our salvation. When we receive and believe in Jesus as our Lord, we honor the Father who sent him. And, having received his salvation our motivation is to bring honor and glory to our triune God.

The unbelieving world thinks that living for self or possessions or pleasure is the way to joy. But, paradoxically, it is when we live humble, dependent lives for the glory of the Father and the Son that we experience joy. Christ alone is the channel of true joy, and that is the message of verse 4. Idols such as self, wealth, and pleasures eventually fail to bring joy.

If the destiny of those who oppose Christ is confusion and shame, the life and destiny of the Lord’s people is joy:
May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
Let’s not seek our satisfaction and joy in the idols we construct out of God’s good gifts. Instead, let’s learn to “rejoice and be glad” in him!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Luther Friday Quote



"As God at first gives faith through the Word, so He thereafter also exercises, increases, confirms, and perfects it through the Word. Therefore the worship of God at its best and the finest keeping of the Sabbath consist in exercising oneself in piety and in dealing with the Word and hearing it. On the other hand, nothing is more dangerous than a dislike of the Word. --Martin Luther, What Luther Says, p. 1545

When the Earth Tremors Who Will You Trust?

When the Earth Tremors Who Will You Trust?

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Happy Birthday to the Heidelberg Catechism « Heidelblog

Happy Birthday to the Heidelberg Catechism « Heidelblog

Helpful and interesting---from R. Scott Clark

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Location, Location, Location --- Psalm 69, Search the Scriptures



Psalm 69:1-5

Save Me, O God

To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

1Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.

4 More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
5O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

---------------------------------------------------------------

A Psalm about Good Friday

Psalm 69 is a psalm that has been traditionally read in the church on Good Friday, because it shows us the suffering Jesus endured for our sake on the cross. The psalm is quoted in the New Testament in various places, and the apostles saw it as a picture of our Lord’s suffering.

Because the psalm is 36 verses, I will just deal with the opening verses, and hopefully, these brief comments may give you some indication how this whole psalm points to Christ; even more, how the whole psalm is spoken by Christ.

George Horne was an Anglican minister in the 1700s. He wrote a commentary on the Psalms that is in a class by itself. Horne is a master at showing how the Psalms show us Jesus. Of Psalm 69, Horne writes, “[Christ’s] sufferings themselves (those in particular of his soul) are largely described in the Psalms; many of which, and this (Psalm 69) among the rest, seem to have been indited beforehand by the Spirit, for his (Christ’s) use in the day of trouble.”

Commenting on verse 2, Horne says of Jesus, “The divine displeasure, like a stormy tempest, was let loose upon him; the sins of the world, as deep mire, enclosed and detained him; while all the waters of affliction went over his head . . . .”

Hated Without Cause

Let’s look at verse 4:
4 More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
Jesus quotes this verse in John 15:25. There at the last Supper he explains to them the hatred of the world for him and his disciples:
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'"
Why did the world hate Jesus? Why was he hated “without a cause?” You would think that God coming down to us, teaching us and healing us would be a welcome thing. And yet, Jesus was hated. He had many enemies---they were more than the hairs of his head (69:4).

If you read the verses above, you learn that the hatred stemmed from location. John 15:19 points to location --- the disciples of Jesus are not of this world, just as Jesus is not of this world, but came from heaven (v. 22). Christians have a new heavenly home, a new heavenly family, a new heavenly Father.

But why does this new heavenly home create such hatred? Why was Jesus hated simply because he came to earth sent from above by the Father?

Verse 22 gives us the answer. Jesus spoke to the world. Jesus spoke to the world about its sin and its need to come to him and change its loyalties. In other words, Jesus came down from heaven to an idolatrous world. It was a world that had rejected the knowledge of God. It was a world in rebellion against the Father, and therefore, in rebellion against the Son as well.

The world had no good reason to reject Jesus. He came to do them good. He came with the truth of God, and he demonstrated that truth in powerful deeds of healing and mercy. But, sadly, the world loves its idols, and it isn’t interested in a new heavenly home. This world and its idols is good enough for them, and so they hated the message about sin, repentance, and a new home, which Jesus brought.

Suffering for the World

But despite the world’s hostility, Jesus suffered for the world:
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
5O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Adam’s fallen race (you and me), are thieves! What have we stolen? We have stolen the obedience, love, and glory due to God our creator. None of us have loved Him will all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. None of us have lived completely and totally for his glory. None of us has obeyed our King with both body and soul.

Therefore, on the cross, Jesus restored what he did not steal. The sinless Son of God had always loved the Father from all eternity, and he loved him in our human nature as well. He lived his life for the purpose for which we are made. In all he did in word and deed, he glorified the Father.

The wonder of the cross is that Jesus restored what we had stolen. He was made sin on our behalf. As 2 Corinthians 5 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Although Jesus was completely sinless, on the cross our sin was laid on him, and so he could rightly say, as David says in verse 5, “O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.”

Application

How do we apply the suffering of Jesus on our behalf? What application should we make to our own lives of Jesus’ vicarious suffering for us?

First, I would simply ask, do we believe it? Do you believe that God came down to us, took to himself our human nature, and then in that nature suffered, not just for others, but personally for you? Consider how good this God must be to do that for you! Consider how he is offering his forgiveness and grace to you and me right now in the gospel! Or, if you are baptized, consider the promise of this forgiveness, grace, and the Spirit, the Lord is making to you personally by name!

Second, we also might apply these truths by considering our new heavenly home, family, and Father. This world with all of its hatred of Jesus, it’s suffering, and it’s death, is not your home. You have a new family, a new home, and a new Father. Live in the light of these realities. Don’t make idols of the things of this world, because we have something much better than this world. We have new life in a new home with a new Father. We have been chosen out of the world, and that is a good, good thing.




Luther on God's Providence


Do you know the doctrine of providence and the blessing it brings? Here is Martin Luther on providence:

"Hereby John shows not only that Christ is God and was forever and forever, from eternity, before the beginning of the world and all things, but that God not only created the world and all creatures by the Word, His only-begotten Son and divine Wisdom, but also constantly, to the end of the world, governs and sustains them by Him; that, therefore, the Son of God is Cocreator of heaven and earth with the Father. God, however, is not a Master who acts as a carpenter or builder does, who, when he has prepared, finished and completed a house, ship, or any structure whatever, lets the house stand for its master to live in or turns the ship over to the boatmen and the crew to sail across the sea in it, while he, the builder, leaves and goes wherever he pleases. This is what all other craftsmen do. When they have finished their work or discharged their business, they leave and pay no further attention to their work and product, letting it stand as long as it can. Not so here, but God the Father has begun and finished the creation of all things through His Word and constantly sustains it by this same Word. He stays with the work He has created until He no longer wants it to exist. This is why Christ says (John 5:17): "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." For just as He has created us without any co-operation and ability on our part, so we cannot preserve ourselves. Therefore as heaven, earth, sun, moon, stars, men, and everything living were created by the Word in the beginning, so they are also governed and sustained by it in a marvelous manner." (What Luther Says, p. 1150)



Rebecca Writes - Rebecca Writes

Rebecca Writes - Rebecca Writes

"For the doctrine of justification by faith is like Atlas. It bears a whole world on its shoulders, the entire evangelical knowledge of God the Saviour."  --J. I. Packer  Check out this helpful information from Rebecca Stark

Monday, January 18, 2010

in all honesty: from the archives: submission strong and beautiful

in all honesty: from the archives: submission strong and beautiful

A gentle and quiet spirit is a spirit like Christ's! Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in spirit, and you will find rest for your souls."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," --- Psalm 68, Search the Scriptures

Psalm 68

Psalm 68 is a bit longer than most of the psalms, 35 verses, so if you want to read it, here is a place online: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm%2068&version=ESV

Mark Futato writes,
“Psalm 68 has the reputation of being the most difficult psalm in the Psalter.” Part of the reason for its difficulty is its many disparate themes. As Frank Thielman says: “It ranges over a wide field historically, geographically, and topically. It speaks of the scattering of God’s enemies (1-3), God’s protection for the poor (5-6, 10), and the history of God’s dealings with his people from the exodus to the establishment of the temple on Mount Zion (7-18). It describes a procession of worshipers (24-27) and includes a prayer that God hasten the day when all the kingdoms of the earth would submit to him (28-31).”
The psalm especially celebrates the reign of God and his power. This psalm moves from God’s great deliverance of his people from Egypt to his enthronement in the temple at Jerusalem, all the while emphasizing the great power of the Lord.

I was meditating on two of these themes: the reign of God and his care of the poor, and wondering how they might fit together. Then, I remembered Jesus’ words in the beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Why are the poor an emblem of the kind of people who belong to his kingdom? The answer is dependence. The poor are dependent on the free, unmerited good will of others. In a similar way, sinners like us depend entirely on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. With his blood he cleanses our conscience from its guilt. With his righteousness he covers our sinful nakedness, and enables us to come clothed with his righteousness into the presence of his Father.

This dependence does not just stop at justification (God’s imputation of righteousness to guilty sinners). This dependence continues in sanctification --- the living out of our lives. More and more we learn as Christians that we do not have the power, in and of ourselves, to live a life that honors God. We are too weak and willful to live our lives for the glory of God. We are dependent on the power of God.

But Psalm 68 teaches us that this power is available to his people. Verse 35 says:
“Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.”
So great is this power in God’s sanctuary or temple, that verse 17 says, “Sinai is now in the sanctuary.” Thielman states, “The psalmist seems to conceive of Mount Sinai as inside the sanctuary in Jerusalem, and this image seems to mean that the God whose power was so much in evidence on Mount Sinai is now present in all this power on Mount Zion.”

If this is the power that was contained in the temple foreshadowed Jesus Christ, who replaces the temple in the New Testament (see, e.g., John 2:18-22), then how much power and authority must Jesus possess?! The Jesus who rose from the dead by the power of God now has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Do you think this Jesus is able to empower his people, who belong to him by grace through faith? The answer is obvious. Jesus is able to give power and strength to his people. No wonder Paul prays for us in this way that we might know Christ’s power in our hearts and lives:
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Eph. 1:16-21).
Do we know his power in our lives? Have we become poor, helpless, and dependent so that we might know Christ’s riches and power in our lives?


Friday, January 8, 2010

The Vital Importance of God's Favor --- Psalm 67, Search the Scriptures

Psalm 67 (English Standard Version)

Make Your Face Shine upon Us

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

1May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
Selah
2that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Selah
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

6The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!


---------------------------------------------------------

This psalm begins with a prayer for the blessing and favor of God. The metaphor of God's face shining upon us signifies his favor and good will. Why is this blessing of God so important? Why is it vital that you and I have the good will of God? Wouldn’t some people respond by saying, “I’m doing quite well without him? Whether I have the favor of God makes no difference to me at all.”

Let me give you two reasons why the favor of God is an absolute need in our lives:

First, God is a jealous God. Remember what we were taught in the Ten Commandments:
“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:5-6).
God is jealous. He wants us for himself. He created us for himself. When we worship and serve something other than Him, he is jealous. Just as a husband is jealous for the affection of his wife, so the Lord does not sit idly by while we pursue idols. He brings judgment (visits the iniquity) on those who hate him, but shows love to those who love him. Martin Luther commented on these words of Exodus 20:5-6, this way:
“These words contain both a wrathful threat and a friendly promise, not only to terrify and warn us but also to attract and allure us. . . . He demands that all our actions proceed from a heart that fears and regards God alone and, because of this fear, avoids all that is contrary to his will, lest he be moved to wrath; and, conversely, trusts him alone and for his sake does all that he asks of us, because he shows himself a kind father and offers us every grace and blessing” (Luther’s Large Catechism, section 322-323).
Dear friends, God is more powerful than us. He created us and sustains each moment us by his power. We need his favor. We must avoid his wrath. He is a jealous God who wants the complete affection of our whole being.

Second, God is omnipresent. The truth is, we cannot escape from God. As Psalm 139 says:
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
We cannot escape the triune God, not even in hell! God is present everywhere. How can God’s presence be in hell? someone might ask. Although the Lord is present everywhere, he is present in different ways and in different degrees in different places, but he is always present with his entire being. In hell, God is present, but he is present to punish, not to bless.

Consider these words about God’s omnipresence from Augustine:
“When you want to do something bad, you withdraw from the public and hide in your house where no enemy may see you; from those parts of the house that are open and visible you remove yourself to go into your own private room. But even here in your private chamber you fear guilt from some other direction, so your withdraw into your heart and there you meditate. But he is even more deeply inward than your heart. Hence, no matter where you flee, he is there. You would flee from your self, would you? Will you not follow yourself wherever you flee? But since there is One even more deeply inward than yourself, there is no place where you may flee from an angered God except to a God who is pacified. There is absolutely no place for you to flee to. Do you want to flee from him? Rather flee to him.”
Herman Bavinck points out that “going to God and seeking his face does not consist in making a pilgrimage but in self-abasement and repentance." Since we cannot flee from God, the only real choice is whether we will live with God’s anger or God’s favor.

Here, then, are two fundamental reasons why we need the favor of God---why we need his face to shine upon us.

There is no one more glorious and blessed than the triune God. To live with his favor is life. In fact, Psalm 63: 3 says that his favor and love is better than life! “Your steadfast love is better than life.” How, then, can we be sure that we have his favor and love?

Verse 2 gives us an answer. We must know God’s saving power. We must experience God’s salvation. God in his great love provided for our salvation when he sent his Son from heaven. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried. On the cross, he experience the torments of the hell we deserve as he bore our sin. On the third day he rose again. He ascended to the Father, so that we too might ascend with him and live with him, enjoying the favor and blessing he won for us.

If we will but turn from ourselves and turn to Jesus Christ as our Lord, we may be saved. Salvation is about new ownership. No longer are we in charge---no longer do we say, “My will be done.” Instead we say to our Father, “Your will be done in my life.” This kind of repentance and faith leads to the joy, praise, and satisfaction we see in verses 3-7 of this psalm.

One more brief point from verse 2: Notice that we are blessed so that we might be a blessing. I have a friend who said to me recently, “I don’t know how a Christian cannot have a heart for evangelism.” Psalm 67 would agree. God’s desire and sure plan is for the earth to know him and his favor. This was his plan from the beginning. To Abraham, he said, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God’s desire is that he be “known on earth” (v. 2) by all people. One way or another this will happen. He will either be known by people in blessing, favor and life, or he will be known in cursing, judgment, and death. His heart toward us is for blessing. Judgment is his strange work, as the old theologians used to say. Which will we choose, his favor or his judgment? He is a jealous God and he is closer to our hearts than we are. We would be foolish and stubborn not to make the right choice.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blessed through Israel --- Psalm 66, Search the Scriptures

Psalm 66 (English Standard Version)

Awesome Are Your Deeds

To the choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.

1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name."
Selah

5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves.
Selah

8Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

13I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.
Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!


------------------------------------------------------------


The striking thing to me about Psalm 66 is the Lord’s invitation to all people, not just Israel, to come to him and belong to him as his people.

In verse 1, all the earth is invited to praise him. In verses 5 and 6, all “peoples,” i.e., the Gentiles, are invited to rejoice in him, and in verse 8 they are invited to bless him.

Verses 5 and 6 are particularly remarkable:
5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6He turned the sea int. . o dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him . . . .
In verse 6, the people of Israel, not the Gentiles, speak about the exodus, or possibly the crossing of the Jordan, and say, “There did we rejoice in him.” And yet, based on the pronoun they in the preceding line, we know that this psalm was written much later than the exodus. So how can people who lived way after the exodus speak as though they were there? How can people hundreds of years later speak as though they had experienced the exodus themselves?

The answer is that the Old Testament people had been baptized into Moses (1 Cor. 10:1-4). They belonged to the people of God. The Lord’s redeeming work of the exodus belonged to them as much as it did to the generation that experienced it. Just as the Christian can say today, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,” so the Old Testament believer could say that he had been baptized into Moses and the redeeming work the Lord accomplished through Moses.

But there is another remarkable truth in verses 5 and 6 --- the Gentiles were invited to experience the exodus redemption as their own! The psalmist applies the exodus to “the children of man” in verse 5. Israel’s salvation and blessing were not just intended for Israel, but for the whole world! As Genesis 12:1-3 points out, God chose Abraham and Israel so that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Jesus Christ, however, is the true Israel. Israel was not able to keep God’s covenant because of their disobedience, and therefore the covenant threatened them with death. But Jesus came keeping the covenant perfectly. He kept it through his perfect obedience, including the obedience of his death, when he bore the covenant curses we deserve because of sin.

Now, we too can rejoice in God, because we have been baptized into Jesus Christ through faith. In a very real sense, we were there when Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the tomb. As Paul says, in Galatians 2:20, we were crucified with Christ. Or, as he says in Romans 6:3, we were baptized into his death. And because this is true, we can rejoice. We can rejoice because through Christ we have the forgiveness of all of our sins. We can rejoice because in Christ we have the righteousness of God imputed to us. We can rejoice because we belong to the Lord and have the Father’s favor.

Salvation has come to the whole world through Israel, the true Israel, whom God “tested” (v. 10), “tried” (v. 10), and bore our “burden” (v. 11), so that we might be brought to “a place of abundance” (v. 12). That place of abundance is Jesus Christ.

You and I are invited to come to Him and experience his abundance today, and every day of our lives. He died and rose so that “all the families of the earth might be blessed.” Will you come to him, now and always, to receive that blessing?



Pride of Gifts: Beautiful but Barren

What a wonderful quote from William Gurnall: 
"Pride of gifts robs us of God’s blessing in the use of them. The humble man may have Satan at his right hand to oppose him; but be sure the proud man shall find God himself there to resist him, whenever he goes about any duty. God proclaims so much, and would have the proud man know wherever he meets him [that] he will oppose him. He ‘resisteth the proud.’ Great gifts are beautiful as Rachel, but pride makes them also barren like her. Either we must lay self aside, or God will lay us aside."

Trinity Church Blog: A Bible Reading Plan That Works

Wow, this sounds perfect! "The Bible Reading Plan for Slackers and Shirkers" --- finally a plan for me!

Trinity Church Blog: A Bible Reading Plan That Works

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Time. Redeemed.

Time. Redeemed.

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

If, in 2010, we die

If, in 2010, we die

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“In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place within the church . . .” – Ray Ortlund

“In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place within the church . . .” – Ray Ortlund

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Briefing Library: Freedom to do what you don’t like

The Briefing Library: Freedom to do what you don’t like

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Keep your heart, O believer, much beneath the cross- Irish Calvinist

Keep your heart, O believer, much beneath the cross- Irish Calvinist

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

A Simple, But Profound Truth

I started receiving a daily email from a blog called the Daily Confession. Each day I get a part of one of the Reformed catechisms and confessions sent to me. It's a nice, easy way to read through through some of these documents in a year's time. Today I received the first five questions from The Children's Catechism. I was struck by Q&A 4:
Q. 4. How can you glorify God?
A. By loving him and doing what he commands.
How simple, and yet, profound is Q&A 4! Don't you run into lots of people who believe in God, even believe in Jesus, but also believe they can live their lives however they please? But living as our hearts want, and not as our Lord wants, is the very essence of our sin and rebellion! When we say, "My will, not yours," we are in the midst of rebellion!

Before you think that I have it all together, let me disabuse you of that notion! Every day and every moment, this is the spiritual conflict of my life. Sometimes I fail miserably in that conflict. In fact, I am ashamed at how often I fall and how deep that rebellion is in my life. Therefore, I am so thankful that the very first way we do God's will, and not our own, is to come to Jesus Christ and his cross. We come as rebellious sinners, who need cleansing by His blood, and a changed heart by His Spirit. And so I come once again to Him (as we must do a thousand times a thousand times, submitting to the Lord, who suffered and died for me. And, with another Reformed catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, I say, "I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ." Help me, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit, to glorify the Father "by loving Him and doing what he commands."

Friday, January 1, 2010

projecting their projection « Don’t Stop Believing

projecting their projection « Don’t Stop Believing

This is a thought provoking paragraph. It rings true to my experience:

"This may be controversial to some, but I believe that everyone who rejects God does so for ethical rather than intellectual reasons. They want to be God, and so they suppress whatever they may know about the true God (Romans 1:18-32). Unbelief is primarily a product of the will, not the intellect. As Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17)."





Old Life Theological Society » Blog Archive » Some Happy New Year

Old Life Theological Society » Blog Archive » Some Happy New Year

The line from this brief reflection that resonated with me is this one:  "There must be somewhere groups of redeemed men and women who can gather together humbly in the name of Christ, to give thanks to Him for his unspeakable gift and to worship the Father through Him."  Where do we go to find a simple gathering of Christ's people where there is an intelligent order of service, where we sing the Word of God and songs that are theologically sound, where we hear the Word preached simply but as the voice of Christ to us, where the worship service does not have the feel of a performance but rather the family of God, and where we can share in the Lord's Supper as a renewal of the new covenant week by week?  This is what I long for, but where is such a church?

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