Friday, June 29, 2012

Two Secrets of the Universe---hymn and devotion based on Luke 20:39-47

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
            But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David's son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,
            “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
            “Sit at my right hand,
                        until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
            David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”
            And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
(Luke 20:39-47 ESV)

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It is amazing to see the profundity of Jesus’ answers to the questions of his opponents, but it is also amazing to see the profundity of Jesus’ questions to his opponents.  After silencing his opponents so that they give up the attempt to trap him with more questions, Jesus now asks them a question.  The question is based on Psalm 110: “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son … David calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

Jesus is showing them from the Old Testament that the prophetic expectation was that the Christ would be more than a mere man, but would also be the Lord himself.  In showing them this truth, Jesus was revealing two mysteries that lie at the heart of the universe, namely, the incarnation and the trinity.  The incarnation is seen in that David’s son is also David’s Lord, for Jesus is the God-man.  The trinity is seen in the intra-trinitarian dialogue between the Father and the Son, for the Lord God himself is addressing the Christ and Lord in the quotation from Psalm 110.

Thus, Jesus, even in his questions is revealing the deepest mysteries of the universe, and these two mysteries, the incarnation and trinity, form the content of the hymn below.  Verses one and two call us to wonder at the marvel of Christ’s person.  Jesus is God incarnate---God in human flesh, David’s son and David’s Lord!  By singing of this mystery we try to get this amazing truth into our spiritual bloodstream so that we may increasingly adore the glory and beauty of our Lord and Savior.

Verse three adds to the wonder of the incarnation as we sing of the reason for his assuming our human nature, namely, the forgiveness of our sins.  Verse four, then, calls us to respond to Jesus in a way opposite of the Scribes who were of the Pharisaic party, and the chief enemies of Jesus.  Instead of seeking honor and favor from men as the Scribes did, the hymn urges us to seek the favor of the Father and the Son, for this is the only favor that truly matters. 

Verse four also urges us to turn our complainst against God into praise to Him.  How inclined our society, catechized by a secular worldview, is to complain against God, when it does happen to consider him on rare occasions.  Verse four urges us to replace our complaints with the praise to which he is due.  Such praise will come only when we begin to be catechized by Jesus Christ through his Word.

Finally, in verse five we sing of both mysteries revealed by Jesus in his question, the incarnation and the trinity.  The incarnation is God’s coming to us in love in history.  The trinity tells us that at the heart of the universe is love, for God in his being is not solitary with no one to love, but triune.  Therefore, God is love and this triune love is the deepest secret of the universe.

Marvel Peoples of the Earth

To the tune: LUX PRIMA (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/CCEH/1292).  Based on Luke 20:39-47.  Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Marvel peoples of the earth,
look at God’s beloved Son.
See His beauty and His worth,
see what God in grace has done.
David’s Son and David’s Lord,
let Him ever be adored.

v. 2
Wonder nations of the earth,
God has sent His only Son.
Who is this of virgin birth?
He is Christ the Holy One.
Mary’s son and Mary’s Lord,
let Him ever be adored.

v. 3
Be astounded by God’s grace,
look at Christ and be amazed.
See the Son who takes our place,
dying Lamb who now is raised.
Jesus, Lamb who shed His blood,
Son of Man and Son of God.

v. 4
Seek the Father, one and all.
Seek the Son who has been raised.
All opposing Him will fall,
let complaints be turned to praise.
Father, give us hearts to love
Jesus raised with You above.

v. 5
Praise the holy mysteries:
incarnation, trinity.
praise the coming of the Son,
praise the triune God of love.
God is love eternally,
God is love in history.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mere Men of this Earth---devotion and hymn based on Luke 20:27-40


There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
            And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
           
(Luke 20:27-40 ESV)

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The Sadducees were very much like the philosophical materialists of our day.  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or angels or the life of the age to come.  The Sadducees were like modern secular people today who believe that death is the termination of existence---once brain function ceases, human beings also cease.

If a man believes this life is all there is, it is understandable that such a man will live greedily, trying to get everything for himself while he can.  Maybe this is one reason that the Sadducees at the time of Jesus were the rich, the powerful, and the leading group controlling both the temple and the Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish ruling body.  Or, maybe it was because they had so much in this life, that they had little concern about the next.  Either way, the Sadducees wanted their “best life now,” to quote a modern day heretical preacher (Joel Osteen)!

Thankfully, the Son of God who came from heaven, who alone could speak authoritatively about angels, the resurrection, and the life to come, did not share in the cynicism of the Sadducees.  We would be wise to accept the same view of our resurrected Lord!

Verse one of the hymn below points to the burning bush incident where God disclosed himself to Moses as the Lord---the I AM---the self-existent God upon whom all creatures depend for existence and life, since He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  Verse two moves a step beyond the creation of verse one to say that those who belong to the Lord through redemption---Old Testament believers like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also New Testament believers like us---are given eternal life by Jesus Christ.

In verse 35, Jesus speaks of those who are “worthy to attain” resurrection life in the age to come.  This points to the fact that not all people will be saved.  But how do sinners like us become worthy?  The answer hinted at in our text,[1] but spelled out throughout the New Testament, is that we are counted worthy only through faith in Jesus Christ, not through our works (Philippians 3:9: “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith”).  Verse three of the hymn makes this point.

In heaven there will be no marriage, for the people of God will belong to their heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Marriage is a temporary institution that points us to something higher, greater, and more lasting.  Verse five is a swipe at the attitude of the Sadducees, and their modern day counterparts that seeks to move us to the wisdom and reality of Christ. The materialists are “mere men of the earth,” because they never lift the desires of their eyes above the earth to the Lord.  Verse six urges us to live in a way that shows we believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life and our great treasure now and in the age to come.

O Praise the God of Abraham

To the tune: AZMON (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/57).  Based on Luke 20:27-40.  Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
O praise the God of Abraham,
of Isaac, Jacob too,
the living Lord, the great I AM,
in Him all live and move.

v. 2
And though we die, yet we will live,
for Jesus is alive.
Eternal life is His to give,
our resurrected Christ.

v. 3
But who is worthy to attain
this resurrection life?
The sons of God are saved by faith,
when joined to Jesus Christ.

v. 4
For Jesus is the heav’nly Groom,
His people are His bride.
We pray our Lord will come, and soon,
with Him we will abide.

v. 5
Mere men of earth who have no hope,
live only for this life.
They miss the Way, the Truth, the Life,
they miss our Lord and Christ.

v. 6
So live a resurrection life
and live for things above.
For where He is, there we abide,
to share His life and love.


[1] Philip Ryken points out that the Greek word Jesus uses is katacioo which means to count worthy.  “Worthiness is not something we do, but something done to us; it is not something that comes from inside us, but something that God declares about us and gives to us by his grace.”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

God's Image and Its Implications in Our Lives

 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.
(Luke 20:19-26 ESV)



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Jesus’ enemies are seeking to kill him, but only the Romans have the authority to exercise the death penalty. Therefore, this is a clever question with the potential to get Jesus in trouble with the Romans. But it also a question with the potential to quell Jesus’ popularity with the people, since the people hated their Roman subjection.



Jesus’ answer is brilliant and shows us something profound about our relationship to God, to others, and to human government. Just as Roman coins in Jewish pockets showed that Rome controlled the economy and had the right to tax those who used the coins bearing Caesar’s image, so human beings who bear God’s image belong to him by right of creation. Therefore, human beings, because we bear God’s likeness owe him complete devotion, for we are his. The hymn below focuses especially on what bearing God’s image means in our relationship to God and others.



Verse one of the hymn below focuses on the fact that bearing God’s image means we belong to him. By right of creation, all human beings belong to God and his Son. The Roman coin was inscribed with the words: “Tiberias Caesar, son of the divine Augustus.” All human beings belong to the Father and the Son by right of creation, and therefore, all people owe him their total devotion. The image of God stamped on man’s nature points to our obligation to reflect his glorious character in our lives.



But sin has marred God’s image and verse two of the hymn describes the distortion that has taken place in our lives. Verse two also begins to point us to God’s solution to the marred image of God in man, namely, Jesus Christ, who is the perfect image of God in both his human and divine natures. Verse three expands on the problem of sin and explains how idolatry is at the heart of the human dilemma, for as Psalm 115 teaches, we become like the thing we worship. Verse five of the hymn points out how the leadership of Israel imitated their “god” and father, Satan, who lurks behind all idolatry. The word craftiness used in verse 23 is the same word that is used of the devil by Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3.



Verse four of the hymn points to the gospel’s twofold answer to the twofold problem of sin. As sinners in Adam we have a twofold problem: a bad record and a bad heart. The gospel solves this twofold problem by first giving us the good record of Jesus Christ in our justification. In justification we receive Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to us and the forgiveness of sins, so that our record is now as good as Jesus Christ’s! The second problem of a bad heart is solved more gradually than our justification which happens as soon as we believe in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the problem of a bad heart is solved in our sanctification as more and more we receive the death and life of Jesus Christ into our lives through our union with him. Ultimately, the problem of a bad heart will be solved when we enter heaven to be with Christ forever.


Finally, the last verse of the hymn deals with how this truth of God’s image stamped on human nature ought to change the way we look at ourselves and others. Everyone we meet bears God’s image and belongs to him by right of creation. If we love the triune God, then we must love others made in his image, even unbelievers who still reject God. Our hearts should go out to the lost in love. But our love should be even stronger for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are his by right of redemption. This doctrine of God’s image in human beings ought to change the way we look at every man, woman, and child we meet, whether saved or lost. May we grow in love and so reflect the triune God, our Creator and Redeemer, who is love.


God Created Every Creature

To the tune: AUSTRIA Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/page/730). Based on Luke 20:19-26. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
God created every creature,
all are His both great and small.
But on man He stamped His likeness,
image bearers are we all.
So we have an obligation
to reflect and love the Lord.
For He made us for His glory,
to enjoy Him and adore.

v. 2
But our sin has marred God’s image,
His reflection we distort.
To our idols we give homage,
of God’s glory we fall short.
Who will save from idol bondage?
Who will free us from our sin?
Jesus is the Father’s image,
He renews to be like Him.

v. 3
Man reflects whate’er he worships
for his good or for his ill.
Do not trust in lifeless idols.
Trust the Son---the Father’s will.
Jesus came to buy, redeem us,
to restore us back to God.
By His perfect life He did it,
by the shedding of His blood.

v. 4
Man the coinage of the Father,
dulled and darkened, needing grace.
Look to Jesus and His gospel,
living, dying in our place.
Justified and now forgiven,
as we wait to see Christ’s face.
On that day we’ll be His coinage,
brightly shining works of grace.

v. 5
Pharisees reflect their master,
seek to kill the Lord of life.
Using methods of their father:
craftiness, deceit and lies.
But the children of the Father,
Spirit born from heav’n above,
live in truth, in faith sincerely,
sharing in the triune love.

v. 6
Do we view ourselves and others
as belonging to our God?
By creation or redemption,
to Him everyone belongs.
Sinners lost invite to Jesus;
with Christ’s brothers live in love;
in all people see God’s image;
love as children born above.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This comes from Brian Borgman's excellent book I am currently reading, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life:

"A careful reader of the Bible will conclude as indefensible any view that says, "The emotions are off-limits."  Unless we are going to become lexical reconstructionists and change the semantic ranges and meanings of words, we must acknowledge that jus as God authoritatively commands our moral decisions, he also authoritatively commands our emotions.  God tells us how and what we should and should not feel.  Our emotions are a part of our humanity that needs to be sanctified and brought under the authority of God's Word and into conformity with God's Word.

"The redemptive process is for the whole person; the emotions are an inherent part of what it means to be a person.  There are sinful emotional expressions that need to be repented of and put to death.  There are Christlike emotions that need to be brought to life and cultivated.  As we grow in grace, our emotions will increasingly reflect our new biblical values and evaluations.  As godly emotions are cultivated, they will exert a powerful influence on our motives and conduct."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Like this Newest Hymn

This is my latest hymn I've written based on Luke's Gospel. I like it I think it is good, and I think it is ok to like something we've "created," because God himself, whom we image, is the God who created and then called his creation good (see Genesis 1).  Tomorrow I will add the devotion, Lord willing.


God Created Every Creature

To the tune: AUSTRIA Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/page/730). Based on Luke... 20:19-26. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
God created every creature,
all are His both great and small.
But on man He stamped His likeness,
image bearers are we all.
So we have an obligation
to reflect and love the Lord.
For He made us for His glory,
to enjoy Him and adore.

v. 2
But our sin has marred God’s image,
His reflection we distort.
To our idols we give homage,
of God’s glory we fall short.
Who will save from idol bondage?
Who will free us from our sin?
Jesus is the Father’s image,
He renews to be like Him.

v. 3
Man reflects whate’er he worships
for his good or for his ill.
Do not trust in lifeless idols.
Trust the Son---the Father’s will.
Jesus came to buy, redeem us,
to restore us back to God.
By His perfect life He did it,
by the shedding of His blood.

v. 4
Man the coinage of the Father,
dulled and darkened, needing grace.
Look to Jesus and His gospel,
living, dying in our place.
Justified and now forgiven,
as we wait to see Christ’s face.
On that day we’ll be His coinage,
brightly shining works of grace.

v. 5
Pharisees reflect their master,
seek to kill the Lord of life.
Using methods of their father:
craftiness, deceit and lies.
But the children of the Father,
Spirit born from heav’n above,
live in truth, in faith sincerely,
sharing in the triune love.
v. 6
Do we view ourselves and others
as belonging to our God?
By creation or redemption,
to Him everyone belongs.
Sinners lost invite to Jesus;
with Christ’s brothers live in love;
in all people see God’s image;
love as children born above.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jesus' Brief and Breathtaking Description of World History and Our Part in It

















And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:


“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
(Luke 20:9-18 ESV)


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This is an amazing parable in its scope. It tells the history of Israel as God sent the prophets to warn them to repent and bring forth the fruit of repentance. It tells how that history will culminate within a few days as the leaders of Israel kill the Son, who dies outside of Jerusalem as a sin offering. It tells of the Son’s exaltation and the building of a new temple and nation consisting of a believing remnant of Jews and believing Gentiles. Finally, it tells of the coming judgment upon the old temple and nation because of unbelief, a judgment that foreshadows the judgment of all unbelievers at Christ’s second coming. In just a few words, our Lord tells the story of Old Testament history, the passion week, his exaltation and new work of gathering a people, and the coming judgment. World history is summed up in a concise and remarkable way.


The hymn below tries to retell this story, at least in part. Verses 1-4 paint the picture of Jesus as God’s final eschatological prophet. Jesus follows the pattern of the OT prophets in their suffering, which culminated in his suffering outside Jerusalem’s walls as a sin offering. Verse 15 is the culmination of this suffering when it says, “they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him” --- a reference to the place where the sacrifices were burnt to atone for sin on the great day of atonement (see Hebrews 13:11-13). Jesus also follows the pattern of David, for his suffering is followed by his exaltation, as the stone the builders rejected becomes the chief cornerstone in a new temple into which he gathers his people. Christ’s death is followed by his resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand.


Verse five urges us to apply the death and resurrection of Christ to our own situation. How can we avoid judgment? Jesus’ statement about himself as the stone is reminiscent of an old rabbinic saying: “If a stone falls on a pot, woe to the pot! If the pot falls on the stone, woe to the pot! Either way, woe to the pot!” Our only hope, then, is to be broken by repentance, seeking refuge in the one who bore our judgment for us on the cross.


The final verse of the hymn picks up on the correspondence between Jesus, Adam, and Israel, who is the corporate Adam. It is only because Jesus succeeded, unlike Adam and Israel, that we can truly find refuge in him. Adam was supposed to obey the Lord in the garden and win for us the inheritance, but he failed and was exiled from the garden. Israel as the corporate Adam was supposed to bring forth fruit for God, but they too failed and were exiled from the promised land. But Jesus comes as the true Israel, fruitful vine and beloved Son.


Jesus has earned our inheritance. Therefore, notice that in verse 16 the Father gives the inheritance to his people. Because Jesus has earned for us the promised land, we do not have to earn it ourselves by good deeds. As Jesus taught us earlier in this Gospel of Luke, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” (Luke 12:32), therefore the final verse of the hymn seeks to assure us that we may come to Jesus to receive forgiveness and eternal life, sinners though we be. May the Lord give us believing hearts that receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior apart from any reliance on our own works.



The Lord a Vineyard Planted

To the tune: AURELIA The Church’s One Foundation (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/UMH/545). Based on Luke 20:9-18. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
The Lord a vineyard planted,
the nation Is-ra-el.
He looked for fruit worth keeping,
a fruitful vine, not wild.
But Isr-ael would not follow
and trust their loving Lord,
mistreating all His prophets,
they spurned His holy word.

v. 2
In grace the Father sent them
His one and only Son,
beloved of the Father,
the righteous, holy One.
Perhaps they would respect Him,
receive Him as their King,
and bring forth true repentance,
a pleasing offering.

v. 3
But just as they mistreated
the prophets to them sent,
so also they mistreated
the Son the Father sent.
They cast Him from the vineyard,
they killed the Lord and Christ,
but God the Father raised Him
to everlasting life.

v. 4
Now Jesus is exalted,
the resurrected Christ.
The Vine who’s ever fruitful,
in Him is grace and life.
The Stone who was rejected
is now the Cornerstone,
our Rock and our Redeemer,
in Him is grace alone.

v. 5
So make the Lord your refuge,
and free from judgment be.
For no one can resist Him,
His might and majesty.
In love He came to save us,
to die our Substitute.
So live in Christ your Savior,
with fruits of gratitude.

v. 6
Our Lord is the true Is-rael,
who lived a perfect life.
He is the second Adam,
who won our paradise.
And now the Father gladly,
the kingdom He will share,
to all who trust in Jesus,
His Son the rightful Heir.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jesus in His Rightful Place

And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Luke 19:47-20:8 ESV)

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Something is so right with this picture---Jesus is in his rightful place, his Father’s house, the temple---teaching daily his disciples. Of course, his enemies did not like it, but this is the way it is in our fallen world, for Adam’s race has spurned the word of the Lord to follow their own hearts. But for Christ’s disciples, saved by grace, they do not follow the world but hang on the words of their Lord and Savior.

The hymn below begins with this delightful picture. Verse two moves beyond the historical situation of our text to the present day, for Jesus is now in the heavenly temple, and his disciples continue to learn of Him and behold his glory by faith.

Verse three reflects both the historical situation of the opposition by the Jewish leadership and the present day rebellion against the Father’s rule through his risen Son. But though sinful men always try to throw off his rule, ultimately their quest for independence from the Lord will fail.

There is a heavenly temple where our Lord now dwells in heaven. But there is another sense in which the Lord himself is our dwelling place and temple, for the temple was the place where God and man dwelt together. In addition, there was a sense in which the Lord dwelt in all of the holy land of Israel and so the Israelites were continually urged to dwell in the land, trust in the Lord, and do good (see, for example, Psalm 37:3). Verses four and five point to Christ as our new dwelling place, and urges us to trust in him, learn from him, live in him, and do good in him.


See, the Lord Is in His Temple
To the tune: RESTORATION (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/CCEH/197). Based on Luke 20:1-8. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
See, the Lord is in His temple,
He is in His rightful place,
teaching daily His disciples,
from His lips they learn His grace.

v. 2
See, the Lord is in His temple,
learners now are blessed to see
God the Son in grace is present,
faith beholds His majesty.

v. 3
See, the Lord is in His temple,
He is King at God’s right hand.
Though men scheme and plot against Him,
none His power can withstand.

v. 4
Jesus is the final temple,
not the work of human hands.
He’s the presence and the glory,
in Him is the holy land.

v. 5
Dwell in Christ with hearts submissive,
learn His wisdom and His ways.
He’s your King, your Savior, Shepherd,
dwell in Jesus all your days.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Meditation on Proverbs 10:22


Proverbs 10:22

22 The blessing of the Lord makes rich,
and toil adds nothing to it.

I wonder at times if we really believe that the blessing of the Lord makes rich, given how little time we give to seeking the Lord, his blessing, his kingdom, and his righteousness (Mat. 6:33). Let's consider why the blessing of the Lord is superior to the earthly blessings we spend most of our time seeking.

First, the blessing of the Lord alone can satisfy our hearts. We were made to live in fellowship with God. If we live for the things below rather than the things above, our hearts will always be poor, not rich in blessing. Eathly blessings without the Lord's blessing will never be enough.

Second, the blessing of the Lord alone can give us a clean conscience. Sin is a reality according to the Bible, and with sin comes guilt. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse our consciences from guilt. Earthly blessings without a clean consience will bring us ultimate sorrow

Third, the blessing of the Lord alone can overcome the short span of life, introduced by sin and death. We cannot carry anything with us to the grave. Naked we came into the world, and naked we will leave it. But if we belong to Christ, we can carry the faith, love (including relationships with others who belong to Christ), grace, and peace we have in Him and enter into his blessed presence forever. Earthly blessings without the prospect of eternal life brings vanity into our lives.

Fourth, the blessing of the Lord alone gives us favor with God instead of his righteous wrath. God is rightly angry with sin and sinners who refuse his Son. But in love he sent his Son so that we might return to his favor through the faith that unites us to Christ. If we have the favor of others or even ourselves, but don't have our Maker and Redeemer's favor, we are to be pitied.

Fifth, there is a sufficiency to the blessing of the Lord. When Jesus' Father becomes our Father, we now belong to the one who created and owns the world! How can we not be rich in Christ and have all we need in Him? The sufficiency of our blessing in Christ comes from the sufficiency of our Lord and Father, though whom comes the Spirit.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our True Food and Drink










Proverbs 10:21
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
    but fools die for lack of sense.

The lips of the righteous feed many, because they testify and point to Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life.  Jesus Christ is the Righteous One, and derivatively, his people are also righteous, sharing his righteous status.  As Christ's righteous people, we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.  We do not boast about ourselves, for there is nothing to boast about.  Instead, we boast about Jesus Christ who alone saves us and gives us eternal life, for he came from heaven and gave his life in death, so that we might live.  Truly, Jesus is our food and drink, and as we by faith ingest his body and blood, we receive his life.  The words of the righteous point us to our true food!

But fools die spiritually, because they refuse to eat of this bread sent from heaven.  Fools refuse the teaching of the righteous.  They lack sense.  What would we think of a starving man who refused to eat?  We would think such a person is senseless and out of their minds.  Recently, I read of a woman who came to believe she could live on sunlight!  She was foolish and she died.  But in the spiritual realm, there are millions of people who refuse the spiritual bread the Father has given for the life of the world. 

When we eat food, the food we eat becomes a part of us.  When we eat and drink of Jesus Christ by faith, we receive his risen life.  As Paul intimates, Jesus dying becomes the means of his risen life to us (see 2 Cor. 4:10).  Are you eating the true bread sent from heaven.  Are you taking his life into yours each day?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meditation on Proverbs 10:20

Proverbs 10:20

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

The parallelism of this verse gives us three comparisons: tongue/heart, righteous/wicked, choice silver/little worth.  One of the beauties of Hebrew poetry, which is based on parallelism, is that it lends itself to fruitful meditation as we consider and mull over what these comparisons teach us. 

Let's begin with the contrast between the righteous and the wicked.  This is a basic contrast in Scripture.  Ultimately, the Lord teaches us in his Word that humanity is divided into just two groups: the righteous and the wicked.  Further, the Lord teaches us that in the righteous group there is only one man, namely, Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son, who was completely righteous and free of sin.  As fallen children of Adam, all of us begin our lives in the wrong group.  We are conceived and born in sin and so we are in the category of the wicked.

How do we move from the category of wicked into the category of the righteous?  We must be united to the Rigteous One, Jesus Christ.  Whenever a person repents and believes in Jesus, that person is given a new status.  His new status is righteous in Christ.  In union with Christ a person is cleansed by his blood, covered by his righteousness, and given the Spirit who begins to impart Christ's life to us.  Only through Christ can we move from the category of wicked into the category of righteous.

Now, let's consider the contrast between the tongue and the heart.  Hebrew parallelism sometimes surprises us.  We would expect a parallel between tongue and lips or the tongue and words.  Instead the comparison is between the tongue and the heart.  Why?  One reason is to teach us that our words flow from our hearts.  What we say gives us a good indication of what our hearts are like. Wicked and trivial words flow from wicked and shallow hearts.  Wise and valuable words flow from a heart that is wise and united to Jesus Christ, who alone is of supreme value. 

Finally, let's consider the contrast between the words of the righteous, which are valuable like silver, and the heart of the wicked, which is worthless.  The Lord often shocks us, does he not!?  In our culture we would never say that anyone is of "little worth."  Yet, this is how God views the heart of the wicked.  In the eyes of the Lord, the wicked person's heart is worthless --- it is just the opposite of valuable silver.

God's Word teaches us that in one sense human beings are extremely valuable because they are made in his image.  But our fallen condition in Adam has brought us low.  We no longer live in fellowship with the triune God.  We live for ourselves and our glory.  As the Spirit teaches in Genesis 8:21, "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth."  We no longer live in the fear of the Lord. We no longer seek God's kingdom and righteousness.  And so, as human beings we are both valuable and worthless.  Valuable because we still bear something of the image of God, but worthless because our fallen hearts no longer reflect God's image, but rather the darkness of sin.

How we should seek to have a new heart!  How we should seek a heart that is no longer worthless in the heavenly Father's eyes!  But how do we get such a heart?  How do we get a heart from which will flow choice and valuable words?  The New Testament speaks of a heart that is pleasing to the Father, when it speaks of "the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Peter 3:4).  How do we go from a heart that is worth little in the Father's sight to a heart that is "very precious?"

The answer is found in accepting God's instruction as it is found in his Word.  In Proverbs 8:10 our heavenly Father says:

     Take my instruction instead of silver,
     and knowledge rather than choice gold.

Do you treasure God's Word --- God's instruction?  Do you regard it as more valuable than lots of money and wealth?  Only a heart that treasures God's Word is valuable in his sight, and escapes his verdict as worthless.  Only this kind of heart can teach others through words that are valuable and choice because they mirror God's instruction.

Ultimately, the Word of God always points us to Jesus Christ his beloved Son.  Have you accepted him as your Lord and Savior?  The heavenly Father sent Him to us in love.  Have you received Him and learned how valuable and choice He is?  No amount of money can compare to Him.  If we have Him, we move from the category of the wicked into the category of righteous and from the category of the worthless to the category of the useful, fruitful, and blessed.





Meditation on Proverbs 10:18













Proverbs 10:18

18 The one who conceals hatred has lying lips,
and whoever utters slander is a fool.

This verse brings together three sins in close association: hatred, lying, and slander. Two of these sins are sins we commit with words, but the root of both sins is hatred, which is a sin of the heart.

Jesus taught us that the evil one is the father of lies and was a murderer from the beginning. In contrast, love's source is the triune God who has always existed in love from all eternity, for the Father, Son and Spirit have always related to one another in love. Thus, love is at the heart of the universe, for our God is not an impersonal force, but a God who exists in triune relationship.

The antidote to hatred, lying, and slander is love, but how do we obtain this love, for our fallen hearts are often inclined toward hatred? The answer is union with Jesus Christ by faith. Faith in Jesus engrafts us into the life and love of the triune God. We must find our springs in Him. May the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit water our hearts, and give us hearts that turn from hatred to share His love.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Proverbs 10:17

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

Whose instruction and reproof is in view? I believe it is the Lord's Word that is in view, for only his instruction leads "to life"---eternal life. Similarly, Peter said to Jesus, "You have the words of eternal life" (John 6).

It is interesting to see how instruction is similar to reproof. The Reformation debated whether there were two marks (Word and sacraments) or three marks (Word, sacraments, and discipline) of the church. Personally, I've always sided with just two marks because God's Word properly taught brings reproof or discipline. Of course, that doesn't mean that a church shouldn't keep the Supper away from those who are engaged in public, unrepentant sin, thereby exercising church discipline.

There is so much that can be learned from this proverb, but the main thing is to treasure God's Word as vital for our lives. It is believing the gospel word about God's Son that gives us eternal life, and it is in continuing to abide and trust in God's Word as it points us to His Son that we continue to be Christ's disciples/learners.

Because of our sinful nature---our original sin---that continues with us even after our regeneration, submission to God's instruction to us will always contain an element of reproof. We all need to be catechized, not by the culture of the world in its unbelief, but by the Word of God, which Jesus assured us is truth (John 17:17).

Finally, we should pray especially for pastors who try to teach us God's Word. This proverb teaches us that only the person who heeds the Lord's instruction in his own life will be able to lead others to Jesus, who is the way that leads to eternal life.

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