Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Inward Pilgrimage --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 15:25-32

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
(Luke 15:25-32 ESV)

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The father in this parable had two lost sons, for the older brother was just as lost as the younger brother, even more so. Like the Pharisees, the older brother was estranged from the father, who in the parable stands for the heavenly Father, whose love is modeled for us by His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

How was the older brother, who stands for the Pharisees, just as lost as the younger brother who stands for the tax collectors and sinners who were enjoying Jesus’ table fellowship in both his teaching and eating (see Luke 15:1-2)? The elder brother was lost on the inside. His heart was not in sync with the heart of the father. Even though he never left home, his heart had left home. Because God is omnipresent no human being can truly escape his presence, and so our rebellious escape from God is inward. What is needed is an inward pilgrimage of repentance that returns to the heart of our Father.

Kenneth Bailey points out seven insults in the older brother’s words toward the Father. In the hymn below I have taken some of these insults and turned them into a prayer of repentance and return to our Father.

The first and second insults of the older brother concerned his address and attitude toward the Father. Bailey writes, “The older son addresses his father with no title” while he “demonstrates the attitude and spirit of a slave, not a son.” In verse one of the hymn we pray with a different attitude. As Jesus taught us, we pray to his Father as our Father, as adopted children.

Another insult of the older brother involved his self-righteousness. As Bailey says, the older brother “has insulted his father publicly and yet is able to say, ‘I have never disobeyed your commandment.” In verse two of the hymn we express grief over the original sin that still clings to us. As Luther taught us, believers are simultaneously justified and sinful, but yet, we are still grieved by this remaining sin within us.

The older brother tends to see the father’s heart as stingy. “You never gave me a young goat,” he says. His concept of joy also excludes the father. His idea of a good time is to eat and drink with his friends, not with his father. In verses 3 and 4 of the hymn these sinful views are replaced with the truth that our Father is incredibly gracious and generous, as the whole parable shows. The problem is not with the Father but with our hearts that want the Father’s gifts but not the not the Father himself. Our idolatrous hearts want to enjoy his gifts how we like apart from him.

Finally, the last verse of the hymn returns to the table fellowship theme. It looks forward to the messianic feast that Jesus will enjoy with his people when he consummates his kingdom. But it points out our privilege of even now partaking of that Supper on a regular basis (weekly is the view of the New Testament!). But the joy of his kingdom is ours on a daily basis when we return in our hearts to the heart of our Father by the Holy Spirit. We ask for a greater measure of the Spirit of God’s Son, so that we might share the heart of our Father in heaven.


O Gracious Heav’nly Father

To the tune: WIE SOLL ICH DICH EMPFANGEN (click on Wie soll ich dich empfangen, melodie). Based on Luke 15:25-32. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
O gracious heav’nly Father,
we come to You through Christ.
O hear the prayer we offer,
through Him who gave His life.
We come as sons adopted,
we come as children loved,
and by the Holy Spirit,
we come to You above.

v. 2
O Father, we acknowledge,
to sin we’re still inclined.
And yet Your Word does promise
in Christ we’re justified.
Our sinful heart, it grieves us,
we beg you to impart,
the Spirit who cries “Abba,”
that we may know Your heart.

v. 3
Our Father’s heart is loving,
He’s generous and kind.
His love goes out to sinners,
His joy the lost to find.
His presence always with us,
He shares with us His life.
Our joy is to be near Him
and in His love abide.

v. 4
Our foolish hearts still wander,
and leave the Source of joy.
His gifts we turn to idols,
we toil in His employ.
Create a new heart, Father,
a heart that is renewed,
that knows the joy of living
is living life with You.

v. 5
What gladness on the last day
at Jesus’ kingdom feast!
We’ll eat and drink together,
our joy will be complete.
But now His meal is given
already here in time.
His kingdom joy is offered:
repentant sinners dine!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Restoring the Regulative Principle of Worship Would Be an Act of Love

"When the elders of the church call the people of God to worship, they are necessarily and unavoidedly binding the conscience of worshipers . . . . This is not a problem if the church is worshiping biblically because the elders of the church are binding consciences according to the Word of God. But imagine a worship service that involves something without biblical warrant, such as the lighting of an advent wreath. If a believer finds this practice objectionable, what can he or she do? Either one must not participate (which sinfully breaks a divine command to worship God with the rest of the saints assembled) or one must participate (which sinfully violates one's conscience)." ---from the book "With Reverence and Awe"

In my opinion, there are very few churches, today, that are not violating the consciences of Christ's people, because certain elements of their worship are either unbiblical or biblical elements are done in such an unwise or false way that an unbiblical theology is the result. We need to restore the regulative principle of worship. Such a restoration would be an act of love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Story of Our Race and Our Story --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 15:11-24

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

(Luke 15:11-24 ESV)

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This is an amazing parable.  The parable of the Prodigal Son gives us the story of the fallen human race and teaches us much about human society. But most importantly it tells our story individually in our flight from the presence of God our Father.  How that story will end for each of us is an open question.

Along with the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, it is part of the triple parable that Jesus tells in response to the grumbling Pharisees and scribes who were offended by Jesus’ table fellowship with sinners. Each of these parables shows us the themes of our lost condition, the Lord’s seeking love, our restoration through repentance, and the joy of God in the salvation of sinners. But, without doubt, the parable of the prodigal son is much richer in detail showing us these themes in a way that is hard to exhaust. A book could be written just about this one parable, and, in fact, some books have been written just about this single parable!

In verse one of the hymn below, the lost condition of the human race is described. When the younger son asked for his inheritance and left his father, he was showing his complete contempt for his father. In essence, he wanted his father dead. He wanted his independence so that he could live how he wanted apart from his father and his restraints. The prodigal’s actions show us the heart of Adam’s fallen race, who desire to obliterate the knowledge of the Father and live as they please far from him. Sadly, we see this tendency not only in human societies as a whole, but in our own hearts. Even as Christians, “the prodigal son is partly who we are, not just who we were, because in our hearts we want to leave home again and again.”

Verse two speaks of the hunger that enters the human soul when we live apart from the triune God for whom we were made. Philip Ryken writes, “When we gratify ourselves with sinful pleasures, when we live for more possessions, and when we rush from one entertainment to the next, we are starving our souls.” Ryken goes on to quote a disillusioned character in a Morris West novel as the end result of this path of serving ourselves and our idols:

“I was lost a long time, without knowing it. Without the Faith, one is free, and that is a pleasant feeling at first. There are no questions of conscience, no constraints, except the constraints of custom, convention, and the law, and these are flexible enough for most purposes. It is only later that the terror comes. One is free---but free in chaos, in an unexplained and unexplainable world. One is free in a desert, from which there is no retreat but inward, towards the hollow core of oneself.”
Verse three speaks of the love of the Father, reflecting the love of the father in the parable. How much our God suffered for us in order to adopt us as his sons! “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son . . .” (John 3:16).

Verse four speaks of the joy of reconciling with God and coming to know him as our loving and gracious Father.  It speaks of some of the benefits we receive when we return to him.  The robe in the parable, for example, speaks of our justification---that forgiveness and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ that covers our sinful nakedness and makes us acceptable in the sight of God (see Isaiah 61:10).  The signet ring in the parable speaks of the gift of the Spirit who unites us to Christ in his death and resurrection (see Eph. 1:13-14).

Finally, verse five picks up on the table fellowship theme that is found throughout Luke’s Gospel. The language of death and resurrection in Luke 15:24 is very much like the baptismal language of the apostle Paul, of whom Luke was a close associate. But those who are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection must partake of the risen life of the kingdom. Luke 15:32 answers the older brother's objection (Luke 15:29) and speaks of this necessity of eating and feasting using the Greek word dei, a word used almost exclusively in Luke’s Gospel to refer to the necessity of Christ’s death and resurrection (see Luke 9:22; 13:33; 17:25; 24:7, 26, 44). The Lord’s Supper is the necessary ongoing feast of the kingdom where those who have experienced the spiritual resurrection in Christ continue to be strengthened with Christ’s forgiveness and resurrection life. But this fellowship or shared life with the Father and the Son is also experienced on a daily basis as we walk by faith in daily repentance and prayer. How blessed we are to be spiritually alive, though once we were dead, and found though once we were lost!


Far from God our Race Has Journeyed

To the tune: LAUDA ANIMA. Based on Luke 15:11-24. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Far from God our race has journeyed,
from the Father far we went.
Serving, worshipping creation,
trust and love on idols spent.
But these idols cannot fill us,
souls are famished without Bread.

v. 2
In His love the Father lets us,
serve our idols far from Him.
But He makes our souls to hunger,
feel the bitterness of sin,
’til we learn the goal of living,
and the joy of life with Him.

v. 3
Though our sin makes us unworthy
to be treated as God’s sons,
God in grace adoption readied,
on the cross the work was done.
Now the Father runs to meet us,
“Come to Me through Christ My Son.”

v. 4
O the joy of reconciling
with the Father through His Son!
With our Lord we’ve died and risen,
joyful fellowship begun.
Justified and heirs with Jesus,
lost now found in Christ the Son.

v. 5
Eat and drink, in Christ be merry,
feed upon the Bread of life.
For His kingdom meal has started,
hallowed joy of the baptized.
Though we once were poor and hungry.
rich in Christ we’re satisfied.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lost and Found---devotion and hymn for Luke 15:8-10

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

(Luke 15:8-10 ESV)

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Jesus came from heaven on a mission of mercy. He came to bring lost sinners into his messianic kingdom, so that they might enjoy the messianic banquet he will spread at the end of this age. Therefore, it is so appropriate that the Messiah came eating and drinking with sinners. Though the “Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them,” every meal Jesus ate with sinners was a foretaste of his kingdom banquet with all its attendant joy! Even now, believers taste this end times banquet whenever they partake of the Lord’s Supper in faith!

Jesus came on a search mission---a mission that will continue until He returns. He searches for sinners in order to bring them into his kingdom. The coin in this parable is an apt picture of the helplessness of sinners to find themselves! Inanimate objects do not get up to look for themselves, and nor can sinners dead in trespasses and sins breathe life into themselves. The search for God is hopeless, unless Jesus seeks us by His Word and Spirit.

Verse one of the hymn below describes our lost and helpless condition apart from the Lord’s regenerating and illuminating work in our hearts. Verse two describes how Jesus sought us by making the incomprehensible journey from the glory of heaven to the shame of the cross. Verse three describes some of the benefits we receive from our crucified and risen Lord.

Joy is a keynote of all three parables in Luke 15. How amazing it is to think that God is joyful over us when we repent and believe in his Son! Verse 4 sings of this joy of God and the heavenly angels, and along with verse 5, tries to make the point that we can share in the joy and life of the Father and the Son.

If one of the points of this parable and the previous one is that Jesus seeks and saves the lost, the last verse of the hymn emphasizes that Jesus’ church should be his instrument to also seek the lost by faithfully proclaiming the Word of God, which points to Jesus Christ and especially his work of atonement that reconciles sinners to God.


Lost in Sin, Far from our Maker

To the tune: UPP, MIN TUNGA. Based on Luke 15:8-10. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Lost in sin, far from our Maker,
helpless was our soul’s estate.
We are dead in our trespasses,
’til the Lord regenerates.
Darkened in our understanding,
’til the Lord illuminates.

v. 2
But in grace the Savior sought us,
Jesus came to seek the lost.
For He journeyed down from heaven,
from His glory to the cross.
On the cross He made atonement,
paid the price of highest cost.

v. 3
Now the risen Lord of glory
sends His Spirit to our hearts.
Grants forgiveness, peace and pardon,
and His joy and life imparts.
Raised with Christ and always with Him,
from His own He won’t depart.

v. 4
There is joy with God in heaven,
over sinners who repent.
Even angels wonder greatly
at the grace that God has sent.
Join the joyful choir of heaven,
sing of Christ’s accomplishment.

v. 5
With the lamp of Scripture shining,
point to Jesus lifted high.
Let the church proclaim the message,
Jesus Christ was crucified.
But the Father now has raised Him,
raised with Him we find His life.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Good Shepherd and Joy --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 15:1-7

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
(Luke 15:1-7 ESV)

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What a contrast we have in verses one and two between the tax collectors and sinners and the Pharisees and scribes! The tax collectors and sinners “were all drawing near to hear” Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes took offense at Jesus and “grumbled” against him like their forefathers in the wilderness.

Jesus addresses their complaining and grumbling by telling three parables. All three parables show us that God is at work through his Son to recover a lost and fallen human race. All three parables show us the joy of the triune God in restoring lost men and women to himself---a joy that we can share if we will repent and receive the Son of God.

The hymn below emphasizes the joy of Jesus’ kingdom. In his kingdom there is joyful feasting, eating, and drinking. Just as the fall of the human race came through false teaching and eating (Genesis 3), so it is fitting that our restoration comes from faithful teaching about the kingdom that leads to faith and repentance and a joyful, kingdom meal. Meals are a fitting symbol for the joy and fellowship we have in Jesus’ kingdom.

Verse 2 describes the Pharisees and scribes as false shepherds. They should have cared for the lost and scattered sheep of Israel, but it was their false teaching and neglect that burdened and enslaved the people. This situation was foreseen by the prophets (e.g., Ezekiel 34), and the Lord promised that he would come himself as the Shepherd of Israel to gather his scattered and lost sheep. Jesus is the Lord incarnate, our good Shepherd.

Verse 3 stresses our lost condition as people who belong to a fallen race. We have wandered far away from our Lord by following our own desires and pleasures. Far away from our Shepherd we are as helpless to find our way, just as the sheep in Jesus’ parable was helpless to find its way. In danger of perishing, our only hope is that the Good Shepherd will seek us, find us, and bring us into his kingdom home.

Verse 4 emphasizes the burden Jesus carried for us to bring us into his kingdom. Just as the shepherd in the parable lifted the sheep upon his shoulders and carried the sheep home, so our shepherd did even more, carrying the burden of our sin, guilt and judgment on his shoulders at the cross, so that we might be able to enter his kingdom home.

But the presence of the kingdom calls for repentance, if we would enter it. We cannot enter if we are like the Pharisees and scribes, who like the ninety-nine, think they are righteous and have no need of repentance, and thus, remained in the wilderness far from home. Instead, we must humble ourselves, repenting and asking the Good Shepherd to bring us and keep us in his heavenly home.


Joy in Heaven when a Sinner Turns from Sin to Jesus Christ

To the tune: W ZLOBIE LEZY (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/PsH/353 or http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/VU1996/58). Based on Luke 15:1-7. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Joy in heaven when a sinner
turns from sin to Jesus Christ.
Jesus calls us to repentance,
from our darkness to His light.
In His kingdom there is feasting,
in His presence eating, drinking.
Share the joy of Jesus Christ,
and the fullness of His life.

v. 2
Israel’s shepherds, false and faithless,
grumbled ’gainst the Son of God.
Jesus came to eat with sinners,
to restore His scattered flock.
The good Shepherd went to seek them,
found and brought them to His kingdom.
Listen to the Shepherd’s voice,
let His gathered church rejoice.

v. 3
Adam’s children, lost and wand’ring,
we were far away from God.
In His mercy Christ our Shepherd,
came to seek and save the lost.
We were helpless and in danger,
to His cov’nant love a stranger.
But in grace He brought us home,
made to be His very own.

v. 4
O the burden gladly bearing,
Jesus bore upon the cross.
Sin and guilt for us He carried,
paid our ransom at great cost.
Pharisees complain and grumble,
so unlike the meek and humble,
who repent and know His joy,
eat with Jesus and rejoice.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fall and Restoration

Adam and Eve fell through false teaching and a meal.  Therefore, it is fitting that their fallen race be restored through true teaching and a meal, i.e., Word and the sacrament of the Supper.

The Crowded House - Music

The Crowded House - Music

I could not agree more with these words from the Crowded House website:
At the Crowded House we seek to be word-centred in all areas of life, not least in the songs we sing together. Singing is a great way of expressing truth and encouraging each other in truth. It is a way we can excite the affections and 'massage' truth deep into our hearts (Colossians 3:16).


Another mark of our music is that when we sing together we want to express truth corporately - we are declaring truth as God's people. That's why you'll find almost all the music we write and sing contains 'we' and 'our' rather than 'me' and 'my'.




Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Command what you will, but give what you command!" --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 14:25-35

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
(Luke 14:25-35 ESV)

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In this passage the Lord gives us three discipleship demands:

  1. We must love Christ above everything else, so much so that our love for family, and even our own life, looks like hatred in comparison (v. 26).
  2. We must take up our cross for Jesus’ sake, i.e., we must be willing to die for him, giving up all rights to self-governance (v. 27).
  3. We must renounce all our possessions, and be willing to use them and lose them for Jesus’ sake (v. 33).

In between the second and third demand of discipleship, Jesus urges us to count the cost of discipleship, giving us two parables that help us count the cost. Then, the passage is completed with a reference to salt that helps us to see that unless we love Christ, take up our cross, and renounce our possessions, we will be disciples in name only---people who have stopped being disciples, just like salt that has stopped being salt.

Needless to say, these are searching words from our Lord. The requirements of discipleship are so stringent that it leads a sinner like myself to despair. Who can possibly meet such demands? Just like the king who is confronted with another king and an army much more powerful than his own coming against him in wrath, it is best to cry out to our King for mercy, and say with Augustine, “Lord, command what you will, but give what you command!”

In the hymn below, Augustine’s quote was much in my mind, for the Lord Jesus in making these demands of discipleship has indeed provided us with the resources we need to live as his disciples.

First, with regard to family, Jesus sends his Spirit into the hearts of his people, and they are spiritually resurrected and born from above. Their new home is hidden with Christ in heaven. God is their Father, Jesus their Lord and elder brother, and Jesus’ people are our brothers and sisters.

Second, with regard to taking up our cross, faith unites us to Christ so that we died with him and rose with him to newness of life (Romans 6:3-11). Positionally, by faith, we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-4). We have died to the old world, and have risen with Christ to live a new life. Existentially, that is, in our experience, we come to love Christ more and more, and we put to death the old man, and live a new life in him.

Third, with regard to possessions, we have been given a far greater treasure than anything the world can imagine or give. This treasure is the kingdom, which Jesus said, “it is the Father’s good pleasure to give” us (Luke 12:32). If we are this rich, then is there any reason to get worked up about the possessions of this life, which are mere trinkets compared to the possession of the kingdom?

Finally, if the cost of discipleship seems high, it is good for us to consider the exceedingly higher cost of non-discipleship! Philip Ryken takes note of the brilliance of Jesus’ words in the two parables Jesus uses to help us to count the cost:

"Like the parable of the unfinished tower, the parable of the two kings warns us to
count the cost. Only this time what Jesus call us to consider is not the cost of
discipleship, but the cost of non-discipleship. Verse 31 encourages us to see things
from the perspective of the weaker king, who is about to be invaded, and perhaps also
to connect the stronger king with the person of God himself. Faced with the threat of
a superior army, the weaker party should consider his resources carefully before
deciding to defend himself. According to verse 32, he should also consider the
consequences of inaction, and choose instead to sue for peace and settle terms with
his opponent. Can we afford to follow Jesus? the first parable asks. To which the
second parable offers a rejoined: Can we afford not to?"
In the hymn below, I have tried to show that although in and of ourselves we have no resources to build a tower of refuge, Jesus has raised a temple on the third day in which we may hide (John 2:19-21), and he is the cornerstone of a temple he himself builds in which we are being built as living stones (1 Peter 2:4-8). I also try to show that Jesus has quenched the just wrath of God through his cross, so that we have peace now with God. Each verse hymn seeks to show that, indeed, what God commands he also provides!


How Blessed is Jesus’ Fam’ly

To the tune: ST. THEODULPH All Glory, Laud, and Honor. Based on Luke 14:25-35. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
How blessed is Jesus’ fam’ly,
those born from heav’n above.
Adopted by the Father,
in Christ we know His love.
To idols we will turn not,
we love the Father’s home.
Belonging to Christ Jesus,
now we are not our own.

v. 2
With Christ we’ve died and risen,
this world is not our home.
The present age is passing,
our Lord is on the throne.
Though we are weak and helpless
to follow Jesus Christ,
He gives the Holy Spirit,
and resurrection life.

v. 3
In Christ we have possession
of the eternal prize.
The Father gives the kingdom,
the gift of highest price.
What are these tiny trifles,
that worldly men adore?
Compared to Jesus’ kingdom,
the richest man is poor.

v. 4
Our God is truly holy,
His wrath ’gainst sinners burns.
But peace through Christ is given,
for grace has Jesus earned.
He builds His holy temple,
and makes us living stones.
We’re members of His body,
and He supplies the growth.

v. 5
Lord Jesus, You are Sov’reign,
command whate’er You will.
But with Your will give power,
so we are Spirit-filled.
For we would love You dearly
above all earthly things,
and take our cross up daily,
for You our gracious King.

v. 6
To be Your true disciple,
We must love You, O Christ.
Renouncing all things for You,
and even our own life.
Like salt that keeps its savor,
O grow our love for You.
And make us useful, fruitful,
in works You give to do.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Eating the Eschatological or Kingdom Meal! --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 14:15-24

When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

(Luke 14:15-24 ESV)

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What a memorable dinner this was! First, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath to the chagrin of the Pharisees, and challenged their cherished but erroneous view of the day. Second, Jesus told a parable that rebuked the guests of the dinner for their pride. One might have thought Jesus was through, but then he proceeded to rebuke the host of the meal, criticizing his guest list!

What an awkward situation this had to be! So, as often happens in such situations, someone tried to save the situation with a statement with which everyone could agree. He said, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” When the kingdom comes at the end of history the great joy of every believer will be to be a part of God’s kingdom and to eat the eschatological banquet prophesied in the Old Testament (e.g., Is. 25:6)!

Jesus certainly agreed with this statement, however, what this man missed in his statement was two things: the eschatological banquet, i.e., the kingdom meal had already begun in Jesus’ table fellowship, and only faith in Jesus would allow a person to enter the kingdom and enjoy the benefits of his kingdom meal!

The following hymn emphasizes the fact that the kingdom is now here and our great privilege as believers in Jesus is to eat the kingdom meal, the heavenly feast, right now, even before it is consummated in heaven! Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son brings us into his kingdom, his new creation, and already by faith we are partakers of the age to come! Christ and his eschatological benefits are ours! The table fellowship of the kingdom that began in Jesus’ ministry, was instituted at the last supper, and was eaten by the disciples after his resurrection, and this kingdom meal is an ongoing feast! Do you and I realize what a privilege it is to eat the eschatological meal---the kingdom meal of the new creation here in time whenever we partake of the bread and the wine of his supper? This is a main theme of the hymn below.

The last verse of the hymn makes reference to the excuses made by those who rejected Jesus and his kingdom. How foolish and absurd these excuses were and continue to be! What could be more important than entering the kingdom of heaven? The Pharisees and religious leaders did not value Christ Jesus the King, putting wealth and pleasure ahead of him. But what about us? Do we value Jesus Christ and his kingdom above all else?


The Humble and the Lowly Receive the Grace of God


To the tune: AURELIA The Church’s One Foundation. Based on Luke 14:15-24. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
The humble and the lowly
receive the grace of God.
In Christ they are forgiven,
made clean by Jesus’ blood.
They’re brought into His kingdom,
they eat the heavn’ly food.
How blessed they are in Jesus,
who died their substitute.

v. 2
The banquet now is ready,
the kingdom now has come.
The Father has raised Jesus,
the banquet has begun.
And sinners are invited
unto the heavn’ly feast.
Our joy to be in Jesus,
our Lord, our food, our drink.

v. 3
To eat in Jesus’ kingdom,
a joy beyond compare.
For Jesus is our portion,
the Son, the Father’s Heir.
By faith in Him we enter,
and eat the kingdom meal.
And through the Bread of heaven,
our sin-sick souls are healed.

v. 4
O don’t refuse the kingdom
of God’s belov-ed Son.
The foolish make excuses,
the wise to Jesus run.
He is the Light of heaven,
our purpose and our goal.
He only can give meaning,
and make the broken whole.

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