Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Sacramental World and the Sursum Corda

Psalm 73:24-25 (ESV)

24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

Two important truths are found in these verses:

First, from verse 24, we learn that if we want to be received into glory in heaven after our life is over, we would do well to follow the Lord's counsel here on earth.  We fool ourselves if we ignore or care nothing for Jesus' teaching as found in God's Word, and then expect to enter his heaven.

Second, from verse 25, we are taught that the creation or material world is sacramental.  In other words, all of creation points to the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all things derive their being, beauty, and meaning.  The reason the psalmist can say that he desires nothing but the Lord on earth, is that created things are penultimate, not ultimate, secondary, not primary.

Do we desire our daily bread?  Yes, but Jesus is the bread of life and is our true portion.  Do we desire friendship with others?  Yes, but Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Do we delight in the beauty of nature?  Yes, but nature derives its beauty and glory from Jesus.  Do we desire that closest communion of a husband or wife?  Yes, but we are the bride of Christ, and our fellowship is with the Father and the Son, by the Spirit.  In other words, our earthly desires, rightly understood, point us to the Lord himself.  And, if we use created things rightly in a sacramental way that finds the Lord in all things, we can find true satisfaction as we look to heaven and lift our hearts to him (in the historic Christian liturgy, this lifting up of our hearts during the Supper is known as the sursum corda).  

Therefore, let us follow our Lord's regular pattern as we partake and make use of created things: "And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves . . . . and they all ate and were [truly] satisfied."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jesus Our Only Teacher

I was struck in my devotions today by this verse from Luke 9:26:
"For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Of course, all the words of Jesus come to us via his apostles and the associates of the apostles, who wrote the New Testament. Therefore, we are not allowed to separate the Gospels from the Epistles or Jesus and Paul, as some are prone to do. We have an apostolic faith, and we must be committed as Christians to all of the apostolic writings.
There is lots of pressure on us to be ashamed of Jesus and his words, as mediated to us by the apostles. Especially on the issue of homosexuality, marriage, and sexual immorality, our culture wants us to ignore and reject Jesus' teaching via his apostles. But to do this would be to be ashamed of Jesus and his words, when he returns. Sadly, this is what millions of professing Christians are doing.
Part of the problem is that these nominal Christians rarely, if ever, read the New Testament. They do not know what Jesus taught through the Gospels and Epistles, because if they have devotions at all, they consist of one Bible verse and some sentimental, sappy comments. We need to recover the truth that Jesus is our sole teacher, who transforms and challenges our beliefs, worldviews, and lives, for our good and his glory.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hymn About Jesus' Family

Wondrous Priv'lege to Us Granted
Suggested tune: REGENT SQUARE (  Meter: 878787.  Based on Luke 8:19-21.  Words: William Weber, 2014. (song after sermon, adoption, union with Christ, family of God, the church, incarnation, new birth/regeneration, God's love, trinity)

v. 1
Wondrous priv'lege to us granted,
if to Jesus we belong.
Into Him are we engrafted,
if His name we call upon.
Blessed to be in Jesus' fam'ly,
give Him praise in joyful song.

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

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

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

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