Monday, February 22, 2016

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 18:6-7

Proverbs 18:6-7:

6 A fool's lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.
7 A fool's mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.

There is an escalation in these two proverbs. The movement is from an argument with words to a beating with fists to the ruin of a life and then the ruin of one's soul. A fool is someone who denies the basic reality of God's presence and the truth that all human beings will be judged by him. There is no fear of God in his eyes.

Out of the heart our mouths speak. And the fool's lack of sense gets him into arguments and fights. Even worse, it sets the course of his life in a direction away from the Lord.

One of the ways it sets the course for the fool is that he feeds on his own words and lies. Proverbs 15:14 says, "The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly." While the wise man seeks knowledge from the Lord, the fool has rejected the Lord's words and so he must feed on his own. Believing his own lies he goes further and further from the Lord until he is punished not by man, but by the Lord in eternity.

Interestingly, the apostle Paul calls himself and the apostles, "fools for Christ," and this brought them scorn, and beatings, and eventually physical death. Read about Paul's missionary journeys and in every city he met with intense opposition. As Derek Thomas writes:

"The apostles had been a nuisance wherever they had gone. Indeed, taking a trip with Paul would require nerve and stamina: in Phillipi he had been imprisoned; in Thessalonica, his preaching had caused a riot; in Berea, he was forced out of town. Before that, he was expelled from Pisidian Antioch, threatened with stoning in Iconium, and actually stoned and left for dead in Lystra!"

And these are just some of Paul's sufferings. But these came, not because the apostles were fools, nor because they were not loving and gentle, but because the message of the cross they preached is foolish to an unbelieving world that loves its idols, but hates the true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So let us be compassionate, gentle, and wise, not foolish. But let us also be willing to be fools for Christ, who refuse to compromise the gospel message handed down to us from Christ Jesus through his apostles.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Learning to Speak in the Heavenly Father's Family

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled (Luke 11:14)

In this passage, Jesus cast out a demon.  The demon caused this poor man to be mute. This was an awful fate, for we were created as God’s image bearers to reflect the character of our God, and as it is abundantly clear in Scripture, our God is a God who speaks, unlike the mute idols that say nothing (Ps. 115:4-5).  We were created to speak to God in prayer and praise, and for God to our fellow men. 

Sadly, many of us are like this mute man, saying little to our Lord in prayer, praising Him seldom with our lips, and rarely speaking and singing the Word to others (Col. 3:16; 1 Pet. 4:11).  We may not be physically mute, but even worse, we are spiritually mute.  We were created to "articulate creation's response to the Creator," and to "talk with God as a son with a father."   But we are spiritually mute till we are born from above as his children.  Jesus can change us and open our mute lips, just as he changed the mute man in Luke 11.  The key to unlocking our mute lips is to enter into the kingdom Jesus brought by his death and resurrection.  We enter this kingdom by hearing and believing the word of the gospel (Luke 11:28). 

Once we have entered Jesus’ kingdom by faith, his kingdom life begins to work in us, for by the Spirit we are joined to the crucified and resurrected King. As we learn from him and eat at his table, in other words, as we worship him (Scripture and especially Luke's Gospel defines worship as table fellowship!), we are conformed to his image, so that we become like him. Psalm 115 teaches us that we become like the one we worship (Ps. 115:8). Though it may be slow, the heavenly Father's little children begin to speak his name, learn the language of his family, and put off the profane and unclean language of this present evil age.

If we worship mute idols, then we will have little to say to the true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ or little to say on his behalf.  But if we worship the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit, then our lips will be opened to become what we were created to be---men and women who honor God with their whole being, including their lips.  May the resurrected Lord deliver us by His Spirit from the prison of our silence, even as he delivered this poor, mute man in Luke 11.

Father, Open Lips to Speak

To the tune: SAVANNAH (  Meter: 7777.  Based on Luke 11:14.  Words: William Weber, 2011. (after sermon, speaking God's word, bearing God's image, becoming like the thing we worship)

v. 1
Father, open lips to speak,
for Your glory we would seek.
Free from idols that are mute,
may our mouths for You bear fruit.

v. 2
We were made to give You praise,
glorify You all our days.
But the devil longs to halt,
mouths that Christ the Lord exalt.

v. 3
Just as Jesus opened lips,
freeing men from Satan’s grip.
So we pray to speak God’s Word,
that to Him men might return.

v. 4
By the Spirit Jesus won,
now His kingdom has begun.
Blessed are all who enter in,
kingdom life in them begins.

v. 5
What we worship we become,
like the Lord or idols mum.
Hearing, speaking Lord, we seek,
ears to hear and mouths to speak.

v. 6
Father, help us learn Your speech,
slow we are so would You teach.
Take away our words profane,
learn to speak in Jesus' name.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 18:5---Partiality to the Wicked in State and Church

Proverbs 18:5:
It is not good to be partial to the wicked
or to deprive the righteous of justice.

There are two kinds of people on earth: the wicked and the righteous. The wicked follow their own hearts. The righteous follow the Lord, though never perfectly in this life. Thus the righteous need the continual cleansing provided by the blood of their Lord: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

This proverb points to the wisdom of laws in society and the church that promote righteousness rather than wickedness. In the United States over the last few decades, we have promoted wickedness and this has led to great spiritual and physical harm.

To name just one example in our society, take pornography. Pornography was once banned by law, but is now readily available to even the youngest of children. By this partiality to the wicked, our society continues to spiral out of control and great harm is unleashed.

To name just one example in the church, take the church growth pattern of worship that has its roots in a survey to see what unbelievers (the wicked) want in church. Based on this survey of those whom the Lord describes as wicked, a worship service was then designed for them. Thus, partiality to the wicked has deprived the righteous of the faithful worship their souls long for, but cannot find today in so many churches.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

How to Respond to the Signs of Future Judgment all around Us

There is an insanity in America. People think we are protecting women by allowing babies in their wombs to be ripped apart. People think we are making social progress by redefining marriage to allow same sex unions that are incapable of bearing children and forming families. People think we can extinguish gender even though it is a biological and scientific impossibility, and thus we celebrate a former star athlete who is so confused that he thinks he is a woman. People have come to think socialism is a good idea even though we have fought a world war and a cold war against two socialist nations, and rejoiced when a wall came tumbling down that marked the end of socialist system that caused governments to act beastly. We have a population that is being devastated by drugs like heroin. We have a country that is threatened by terrorism, but picks this time in its history to let nearly anyone within its borders.

Why is all this happening to this nation? Why is the Lord Jesus Christ who rules sovereignly over heaven and earth allowing this chaos and death?

Jesus was once asked about the correct response to horrible sins and catastrophes:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

The right response to the chaos and death in this world is to return in repentance and faith to the Lord in whom alone is life. In this world there is chaos and death and rebellion. We must choose life by choosing to live near the One who is life. Come to the Father, through the Son. Turn from sin and turn to Jesus, who suffered and died in your place to save you from death and bring you to life. Do not make the mistake of ignoring the warning signs of future judgment that are all around you and are urging you to repent and believe in God's beloved Son.

Man's fundamental problem is our alienation and estrangement from the triune God who made us. But through Jesus' death and resurrection we can return to live in fellowship with the Father and the Son. When we do we will live in life and love and true delight, a delight that will grow greater even in a world filled with chaos---a delight that will find its consummation in a new nation that will be free of all death, all chaos and judgment, and filled with God's glory and life forever.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Hymn Based on Luke's Version of the Lord's Prayer

Based on Luke 11:1-4. Suggested tune:
  Words: William Weber, 2016.

O Christ our Lord, the lasting Bread,
who rose the third day from the dead.
You join the heavens and the earth,
and give to men the Spirit's birth.

O Christ our Lord, You are the key,
that opens up the heavenlies:
to life with God You are the door,
to love we were created for.

So to the Father now we come,
who gave the gift of Christ His Son.
He gave the Gift that is the best,
so we may live in Sabbath rest.

Our Father, hallow Your great name,
make known to all Your holy claim.
For all to You must give account,
and wash in Christ Your holy fount.

Our Father, we forgive within,
all those who have against us sinned.
For Christ forgave men from the cross.
He paid our debts, the awful cost.

Our Father, may we never stray,
from Christ our Lord who is the way.
And to our Lord, our life and light,
by faith and love to Him unite.

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