Monday, May 21, 2012

How Real is Jesus King?

How real is it that Jesus Christ is King over the earth?  It is as real as this Bread and Cup are real.  Jesus instructed His disciples to participate in this communion ritual regularly – and therefore all who are baptized into Christ are summoned to come.

But really?  Your life doesn’t look like Jesus is King – does it?  Both internally and externally you see signs of the reign of unbelief – if Jesus is King, then how can this be?  Take and eat, He says; take and drink, He commands.

But how do I really partake – really partake of Jesus’ body and blood – really be nourished and built up to manifest His present reign?  You cannot outside of the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is by means of the Spirit of Christ that we partake of Christ and so it is here that heaven and earth are truly brought together – it is here first that we experience the new earth, the new Rule, the new kingdom.  Come with faith – and taste it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ascension Sunday 2012 exhortation

Ascension Sunday.  Because Jesus is King of kings, He is the Governor of governors, which means, among other things, that our Governor, Christine Gregoire must answer to her higher Lord when it comes to breaking His laws.  In one of her last and most flagrant acts of rebellion against her Lord, Gregoire signed legislation that redefined marriage as two adults instead of specifically one man and one woman as King Jesus commands.

Our worship on the Lord’s Day renews our absolute subordination to the ultimate authority, and to the rightful King of kings who died for us, was raised for us, has ascended for us and reigns on our behalf at the right hand of God the Father.  Opinions and decrees of lesser authorities must submit to Him – however, as always, the judgment of God begins in His own house.  The church has mistakenly and tragically led the way in redefining terms, twisting the very Scriptures we claim to honor.  One of the ways we have done this is by ignoring the Ascension and Present Reign of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords – in our hearts, yes, but even more, in the civil realm.

We do not worship a God Who, as our President attempted to describe in a recent interview, interprets the Golden Rule to allow for disobeying Christ’s other commands.  But Jesus did not only say to love others, He also said that if we love Him, we must keep His commandments.  And His commandments, passed on to us through the Scriptures, clearly instruct us as to what constitutes a marriage and what doesn’t, what constitutes life in the womb and not a choice to cut out an unwanted growth in the womb.

We have not gathered here to tout our personal opinions and personal choices, and may we be accursed by God if we do.  We have gathered to bow the knee, to confess with our lips, to worship and serve our Lord – and in that worship, to declare the full and complete crown rights of King Jesus, the Son of Man, our Savior and Lord.  He has promised that as we worship Him in Spirit and truth, that He will shake the kingdoms of this world, that He will put down all unbelief and rebellion, and that He will bring forth the manifestation of His salvation and reconciliation of the world to Himself and to His Father.  This service is another swing at the gates of Hades and the tyranny of unbelief – but those gates will not prevail and that tyranny has been overthrown.  Come and worship King Jesus.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Temple and a Palace in Heaven

When Christ is seated in heaven, loud voices are heard shouting, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” - Rev 11:15. (I hope you can hear Handel's Messiah in the background of you head).

And then, in response, spontaneous worship takes place - “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.” - Rev 11:17-18.

Jesus did not simply retire in heaven at His Ascension. Nor is He simply receiving worship "up there" in heaven. As William Symington wrote, “heaven becomes at once a temple and a palace, while its walls echo with the loud acclaim of welcome bursting spontaneously from the whole celestial host to the newly inaugurated monarch."

This is His temple and His palace. Jesus is seated to rule over heaven and earth. He is doing so now over the nations of men.

Friday, May 18, 2012

If Jesus Reigns

When you consider the twist in the story that took place at the Cross, you see that everything that looks like unbelief and rebellion fighting against the rule of Christ is actually the work of God bringing forth His glorious plan in the salvation of the world.  The kings of the earth may set themselves against the Lord and against His Anointed, but He sits in heaven and laughs and then holds them in derision.  God will not be mocked - ever.

But it doesn't end with that one event.  This means, following the Ascension of Jesus Christ, that His mediatorial rule at the right hand of the Father is not struggling to accomplish all that He intends.  When Rome comes and destroys Jerusalem, we find that He continues to work in the words and actions of those who shake the fist at Him to accomplish all He intends - both Jerusalem and, as it turns out, Rome as well.

And this means that every act of rebellion, every sinful, painful, wretched act of man is no sign at all of the failure of God's absolute sovereign and good rule.  It simply means that at times we cannot see what He is working through each and every act.  And it never gives an excuse to the one perpetrating the sinful act.  It does mean that the glory that He will bring forth from that sinful act will be far weightier, far more glorious, far more beneficial to the kingdom, than the harm that was truly brought upon the victim of such an act.

If Jesus reigns, then He reigns perfectly.  If He reigns perfectly, then all will be well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Friendship and Communion

Everyone learns about friendship here at the Table of Our Lord.  What does it mean that Jesus is our Friend?  What does it mean to be a friend?  Here is friendship – a body broken, blood spilled – for the sake of the other.  In the midst of Perfect Sacrifice, showing forth true love and friendship, Jesus also gives strong words which build up our countenance and turn us to His Father.

He exhorts, He encourages, He prays for, He walks with, He gives – and He receives.  We are invited to this Table to partake of Him, but we find that we are being partaken of as well – there is mutual indwelling – union and communion – and the fruit of our individual connections to God through Jesus is the deeper connections – communion – we have with one another as we discern that our friendship with Jesus means our friendship with His body, His people, our brothers and sisters.

Not only is this proclaimed at this Table – this is experienced, blessed, re-ordered, restructured, refreshed and renewed – and then celebrated – here – by means of partaking with faith – and so all who have been baptized in Jesus are invited to come and partake to the glory of this relationship we enjoy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Exhortation 2012

This morning in our sermon we will consider the subject of friendship in the marriage relationship – and in honor of Mother’s Day, I wish to honor my mother who, like so many mothers, had proverbial quips of wisdom which she would say to her children from time to time and over and over.  One of those words of wisdom was:  Make sure you marry Your best friend.  To this day, I thank God for my mother and I thank God I listened to her.  My best friend is the mother of my six children.

And so Happy Mother’s Day – first of all Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers here this morning.  While this service of worship is not about you, it is about the God Who created you and called you to this glorious vocation.  It is impossible to go far enough in realizing the powerful influence mothers have on their children and hence on the world itself.  This position, often filled with unending behind the scenes, noticed by no one but God Himself, duties, is the kind of position which shapes everything else for the next generation.  Every ruler, every president, every CEO, every father, every husband, every neighbor, every criminal, every tyrant – had a mother whose life was dramatically shaped by the words, actions, faith, and presence (or lack of those things) of his mother.

And so, secondly, Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who has a mother – and everyone does.  Paul writes that “For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman.”  You were brought into this world, touched by the curse of God, in pain and sorrow – and your mother bore that pain and sorrow, not only in bearing you, but in her nurture and care of you – most likely for years and decades.  Most of us need to look back at our lives, our upbringing, and see how kind God was to give to us through our mothers – a multitude of physical, emotional, social, and spiritual blessings.  Honor your mother.  Honor your mother to the glory of God.

And mothers – at whatever stage in being a mother God has you today – honor Your God by realizing what a breath-taking vocation He has given to you.  By faith, see your role in changing the world, one diaper at a time, one peanut-butter sandwich at a time, one kind word or gentle admonishment, one proverbial piece of wisdom spoken day after day, year after year – to the glory of God.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

After the Fall: How Do I Know What to Do?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

After the Fall, the answer is the same, and even more so.  Paul instructs Timothy, pastor to pastor, to make sure that all Scripture is used to teach God's people what to believe and what to do in life - "equipped for every good work."

This establishes the sufficiency of Scripture to address every problem man has to face.  It is always where we start and whatever else we do must be rooted in, built upon, inferred from, and come out of a thorough understanding of God's Word to us.

God made the world, placed us in the world, and tells us as we live in this world what it is we are supposed to do.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Do I Know What I am Supposed to Do?

Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV)
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

God created Adam and placed him in the world He created for Adam.  Even before the Fall, Adam receives instructions from God on how he is to live.  This is covenantal language, for sure.  But notice that it is also practical teaching.  Do this and don't do that.  How does Adam learn this.  From God's Word.

This is paradigmatic for all men and women made in the image of God.  The Word of God is given to us for our instruction and it is given to us for all of life, for all aspects of life, for all subjects in life.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hospitality From the Inside, Out

Hospitality From the Inside, Out

 (My wife doesn't have a blog, but was asked to write this article for a soon to be published church cookbook.  I told her it was so good it needed to be shared - so here it is) -
If you are a Christian, the Lord desires that, like Him, you are hospitable, or loving to the stranger/outsider.  It has often been said that, “you cannot export what you do not have”, and this certainly applies to hospitality.  One of the common hurdles about hospitality can be the feeling that it is a rather large, extra-ordinary event….something unfamiliar, “out of my comfort zone”.  A demeanor of hospitality toward your children and husband is the best ways to overcome that hurdle and prepare yourself to extend hospitality generally.  Hospitality is “loving your neighbor” with   home and hearth.  I have found over the years, that the more I put thought and energy into  extending hospitality to my family, the easier and more natural it is for me to do so “abroad”. 

 What a blessing it is to arrive at someone’s home, and know immediately that they are pleased to have you…they are looking forward to your company.  This is something that is hard to “manufacture”, and when it is less than genuine, it is nothing short of hypocrisy.  We have so very many opportunities at home to practice the grace of making people feel welcome…our own people.  Does your husband feel that he is welcome to the home when he comes in…that you are looking forward to seeing him?(for more than just an extra set of hands) J  Are your children invited to join you at table, assured that you want their company, regardless of their foibles and various shortcomings, and assured that you are HAPPY to serve them again?  Welcoming the stranger in assumes that you have worked hard on their behalf, and joy and grace will be extended.  Graciousness is not something that you can pull out of your hat on Saturday evening when the guests are coming.  Gracious hospitality is the abundant overflow of the daily grace-cycle: we are blessed abundantly by our Lord, and that grace spills over to those closest to us and beyond.  We cannot give grace FROM our home, if there is no grace AT home.

  When it comes to meal planning with our families, efficiency, rather than consideration is often the ruling factor.  We are all striving to meet that grocery budget, and certainly we are all spinning multiple plates throughout the day that make dinner preparations challenging, to say the least.  But those things don’t change when we decide to have someone over; in fact we have just further complicated the issue. So, well… we just don’t have anyone over, and “at least the family has been fed”…sigh.  The Lord never commands what He does not give.  Take Him up on that…He would desire you to consider the needs AND desires of your family in meal planning…kindness extended in the trifles of preference, presentation, breaking the monotony, etc.   When we think about having someone else over, we often feel stymied to come up with a meal that would be a blessing.  But if we are well practiced at preparing meals that please our family, it is easier to extend the principle to others.  And our families are secure in the knowledge that we love and care for them….they see that kind consideration is not something that mom saves just for the guests.  They swim in a pool of kindness all week long, and the guests are soaked with the by-product.

The same of course would apply to table d├ęcor, etc.  Certainly, everyday is not a formal affair….but aren’t you blessed when you sit at a table that is comfy, cheery, clean, etc?  Surely those that we sit with at table regularly are as well.  Preparing a table for guests is less daunting if you have had more “daily” practice adding color, lighting some candles, etc. Even take home pizza or boxed mac-n-cheese looks better next to a vase of flowers or some candle light…or, just a de-cluttered table.  The wonderfully freeing news with all of these things is that this will look VERY different from family to family. J

The point is not to stress us out in terms of heaping burdens on our already burden-prone shoulders.…..the point is to ease into genuine, Christ-like  hospitality “out there”  by way of a natural spill-over of what we are already receiving and giving of home and hearth  “right here”.

Faithfully extending hospitality to those less familiar will not feel so daunting and extra-ordinary, if we are more ordinarily extending hospitality to those familiar, regular guests that we have. In fact, we probably would create an atmosphere that more often than not, would be a blessing to just about ANYONE at any old ordinary meal.