Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Constant Need for Christ

Coming to the Table reminds us of our constant, ever-present need for Christ.  It’s not that we need to be saved again, but that while it is true that salvation is a one-time event, it is also a process that we are all going through.  We have been saved and we are being saved – and Christ is the means to that salvation from beginning to end, from faith to faith, and from grace to grace.  All of us, and all of our families are, by the grace of God, on just that journey.  That is why we come to the Table.
In the midst of great answers to prayer, we gather together at this Table in faith.  In the midst of ongoing trials, we gather together at this Table in faith.  In the midst of everything God gives us – all of us are fellow sinners, fellow saints because of Christ alone, and fellow sojourners on the journey He has given to us to walk.  The only requirement for coming to this Table is submission to Jesus Christ which is the gift of God – and this is the only requirement for being in deep and abiding fellowship with Him and with one another.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trophies of the Nicene Creed

It has been our tradition for some time to follow our confession of sins with a corporate confession of faith and we have used for several years now the Apostles’ Creed.  But this is not the only historic Creed that we hold to as a church.  And we don’t want to hold this one creed up as the most important.  Frankly, it is the shortest and easiest and a good place to start.  But we believe it is time to add to our arsenal.


And so, beginning this morning we will be reciting the Nicene Creed and will do so for at least several months.  This gives the opportunity to get used to it together as a body, to learn to recite it with a cadence in unison and to meditate over its many important nuances.


The historian Philip Shaff comments on this Creed – “The Nicene Creed (is) more definite and explicit than the Apostles’ Creed in the statement of the divinity of Christ and the Holy Ghost.  The terms (“being of one substance”), “begotten before all worlds,” “very God of very God,” and “begotten, not made,” are so many trophies of orthodoxy in its mighty struggle with the Arian heresy, which agitated the Church for more than half a century.”


These trophies are the victory over the theological battles of what it means to be Trinitarian, of the nature and divinity of Christ, and later the full divinity of the Holy Spirit as well.  In fact, this Creed and the trophies it exhibits have far more significance to us even today than we sometimes realize.  I guarantee you that in these months leading up to the presidential election, these trophies will be examined and possibly even questioned and reconsidered by many so called orthodox Christians as to whether they must be central to our statement of faith.


What does it mean to believe in Jesus?  What does it mean to believe in the God of these Scriptures?  It is good to think through and recite this creed from fathers who have fought great battles for the church.  It is good to declare Whom you have come to worship and to do so clearly.

The Battle with God

"The book of Job is not a story about passive submission; it is a story of active protest and protest directed to God. Job's battle is with God, not with the devil." - Dunn, p37

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Lord Hath Taken Away

"As Augustine observed, Job did not say, "The Lord gave and the Devil hath taken away." - Dunn, p37

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fighting with God

"Our toughest battles are with God, not the devil.  I'm not denying the reality of spiritual warfare with satanic powers.  I am only saying that I find it easier to say no to the devil than to say yes to God" - Ron Dunn, "When Heaven is Silent" - p36

The Abundant Life of Others

"We never know the whole story.  People have a secret history with God and we can never read the pages of a person's secret history.  We see them on the mountaintop, but we do not know of the climb to the top or of the descent into the valley." - Ron Dunn

Envy and covetousness blind us to the true story of others.  First, when abundance is granted to others, we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice.  Our inclination is in fact quite different.  We are like the small child who just watched his brother open the most awesome Christmas present - we are desperately looking at our wrapped gifts hoping to see the same size package so that we might convince ourselves that we are going to get one too.

But we often don't.  And so, first, we make the world dark and dreary by our lack of rejoicing in the good gifts God has freely given to others.

Second, we very often have absolutely no idea what has gone on in that person's life to get them to the place of that abundance.  We do not know what difficulties, trials, struggles - we are not aware of the cost to get there.  We also do not know what struggles are going on in the person in the moment of abundance, for his life is made up of more than this one, or several, achievements.  And finally, we do not know what the Lord has planned in the gift.  Is it simply blessing; is it preparation for a great trial in the future?  Is it both?

We never know the whole story.  But because we think we do, we fall into covetousness.  We feel sorry for ourselves.  We whine and complain.  And in doing so we show even more clearly that we do not know our own story.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Always Presence of God

Wenham summarizes Leviticus by talking about the presence of God.  God is always present with Israel, but He is on occasion present with Israel in both a visible and tangible way.  He is preeminently present in worship.

But Leviticus handles far more than just the times of worship and the special feasts.  God is present at all times, even in the mundane duties of life.  "Leviticus knows of nothing that is beyond God's control or concern.  The whole of man's life must be lived out in the presence of God.  The recurring refrain in the later chapters, "I am the Lord your God," reminds the people of Israel that every aspect of their life - religion, sex, relations with neighbors, all is of concern to their covenant redeemer." - (p17).

And so, the detailed and repetitive ceremonies of Leviticus teach us that God is concerned about all aspects of our lives.  For the Christian, we see this brought out in the fact that we are now the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, enjoying the permanent presence of God.  We are to manifest His glory in all aspects of our lives.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Leviticus Today

"Leviticus used to be the first book that Jewish children studied in the synagogue.  In the modern Church it tends to be the last part of the Bible anyone looks at seriously." - Gordon Wenham

In devotional reading, this is one of the toughest books to simply read through.  Strange, though, that in the middle of a string of miscellaneous laws we find the second greatest commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" - 19:18.  

There is certainly more here than meets the eye.  Wenham suggests that, more than a collection of dated laws, Leviticus tells us about God's character and will.

I heartily recommend Wenham's commentary on Leviticus.   

Monday, September 3, 2012

Idols Consume; Our God Feeds

As we come to the Table of our Lord, remember that our God feeds His people.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, He knows His own and His own know His voice – and they love His voice – for they know He provides for them.
There is a radical difference between the Triune God and all idols and it is this:  Idols consume and our God feeds.  Idols are simply creatures falsely treated as gods, they cannot help being just as dependent as all other creatures are – and like all other creatures, they must be fed.  But what do idols eat.  They eat the ones who give themselves to the idol.
But what does the true God do?  Our God has no needs.  He is not lacking anything – He is the transcendent, eternal, ever-loving, ever-loved God.  Every created thing is an overflow of His character and being, an overflow of the self-giving love that is God’s eternal character.
And this is why those who are in covenant with this Creator-Redeeming God are invited to His Table to partake of Him by faith.  This is our religion:  God gives, we receive.  Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.