Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bold Sinners

One thing a penitential Psalm like Psalm 38 should do for us, should cause us to remember, is that we are not to come to the Lord’s Table and turn towards some kind of morbid introspection because we are such sinners and could never really be holy enough to come to this meal.  We should come to this Table as repentant and repenting sinners, as forgiven sinners, as bold sinners, bold to come for mercy because this is a feast of mercy – just what we need – just what we were summoned to come and receive.
Jesus is our salvation.  Jesus is our holiness.  Jesus is our sanctification.  We did not purchase ourselves and now we are presenting our purchased selves to Him.  He purchased us and so He has the right, not us, to bring us to this Table, to bring us to Himself.  And here is the good news – He wants to.  Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 28, 2013

When It's Time to be Quiet

Thoughts as I study Psalm 39.  Just the first three verses -
I said, “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.” 2 I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up. 3 My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue:
There is a time when it is best, as right as you may be, to just be quiet.  The Psalm-singer understood this.  Certainly Jesus did as well.  It is not that you don't have a good answer, a correction to the falsehoods being declared and lived out, even against you (and maybe especially in those times when it is against you).
There are times when you should not speak to men about it.  However, it is important to notice then the Psalm-singer is letting God know.  He is speaking to God about it.  Interestingly, the Psalm seems to end (v13) with the Psalm-singer even saying that he will cease from speaking to God about it.  Even here, it may be that he is ceasing to argue with the Lord and instead hoping in God and resting in that hope - resting in such a way that there is no need to speak about it anymore.
Helpful Cross-References:
V1 – “…while the wicked are before me”

Colossians 4:5 (NKJV)
5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.

V2 – “I was mute with silence”

Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV)
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

Matthew 27:12-14 (NKJV)
12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.

“I held my peace even from good”

Matthew 7:6 (NKJV)
6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Hunger for Jesus

In the Garden, Adam was free to eat from all the trees but one.  But he was free to eat from all the other trees.  Hunger and eating things were part of the creation order and will be part of life in the resurrection.  But hunger always teaches us that we need something – something from outside ourselves – in order to be truly satisfied, truly full.  And of course, at this Table, we are always partaking by faith of that which truly satisfies and nourishes our souls – and that is the body and blood of our Perfect Sacrifice, our Savior and Lord.
And so, to be hungry for bread, to be thirsty for wine – these are good things.  But they teach us that to hunger for Jesus, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to hunger to be filled with the Spirit – these are the marks of the disciples of God, the followers of Jesus.  Come and welcome – come and partake of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the Bread of Heaven

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hungry for God

If we have this right and Covenant Renewal leads to an end – here – at the Lord’s Table – then the work of the Word preached and sung and heard and spoken and sung more – leads us to a particular hunger – a hunger for the Word.

When our hearts are renewed by the Spirit, it is not that desire is eliminated.  Instead it is rightly directed, so that our desire for fellowship leads to the eternal communion of the Trinity – and for us to enjoy that communion with the Trinity – here at the Table.
Our hopes – all of them – are directed for the honor to go to the glory of God; our search for knowledge is directed for that knowledge to be revealed to the glory of God; our hunger for food is directed for food that is from heaven and that is enjoyed to the glory of God.  This is the communion table.  This is the fellowship of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit – and it is a renewal – a renewal of our, the body of Christ, a renewal of our faith, hope and love – and of desires satisfied again – only at one place, here – with the Word of God.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Have Kids and Save the World

 Let me begin by stating what appears to be well understood in our congregation already – and yet bears repeating again and again.  It is a blessing, a great blessing, for a married couple to have children.

Let me also make a statement that is probably also well understood in our midst.  The reformation of our culture is not going to take place over the course of a couple rounds of national and local elections.  It is going to take generations.  It has taken us many generations to get ourselves into this mess as deep as we are in it – and it is going to take many generations to undo the mess – and even the undoing of the mess will be messy

            Let me make one more statement that I think we need to cultivate more and more in our midst.  God commands us to have an optimistic view of the evangelization of the world, the discipling of the nations by the church, and the future growth and sanctification of the church and the world which Christ purchased – over generations.

We are not in the middle of a story, the end of which no one knows – even God.  We are not in the middle of a cosmic crap-shoot – God’s betting on us but who knows how it will all go.  We are the militant church, we are the mighty seed of the woman who has and will crush the serpent’s head.  We are that mustard seed that grows up to be the greatest tree in the garden.

            Having children, and then in the grace of God and according to His promises, caring for, loving the little ones, including missing much of the sermon because you have to take care of all the squirrels sitting in your row, educating them in the fear of God in all things, training and equipping them with knowledge, wisdom, and skill according to their frames and giftednesses, bringing them up in the fear and admonition of the LORD, laughing around your tables and heading off to the room in your home where spankings are administered when necessary – these are THE MEANS God will use to bring about the changes we are praying for in our country.

            And so this is the army of God meeting around His throne and at His Table.  Parents – and especially moms of little ones – you need to hear this and you need to hear this with faith – the faith which Jesus gives by means of His Holy Spirit.  What you are doing, that mundane work that most of the world tells you is worthless and a waste of a real career you could be pursuing – is some of the most important work of world transformation and God-glorifying missions you could ever do.  So come, let us worship our God – with the kids!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday 2013

Today (January 20, 2013) is National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  I want to quote from a post made by Pastor George Grant on Wednesday of this last week –

“"If there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.... When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now.... Let's do the right thing... This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged, and their voices should compel us to change.” President Obama

Today, America's president issued an astonishing 23 Executive Actions aimed at new gun controls--ostensibly to "protect the children of our nation." But, not one of them would have protected the 3,300 children murdered in the nation's abortion clinics today. Not one of them would protect the 3,300 children who will be murdered tomorrow. Not one of them would protect the 3,300 children who will be murdered the day after that. Or, the 1,000,000 children who will be murdered here in "the land of the free and brave" during the course of 2013.

The heights to which this hypocrisy and hubris rises is beyond fathoming: the president is the chief champion of Planned Parenthood and the child-killing minions of the nation's grisly abortion-industrial-complex.

Predictably, the hue and cry from most Christians has been about governmental assault on their guns, their vaunted 2nd Amendment rights--to be sure, no small thing. But, where are the lamentations for Rachel's children in our modern day Ramah?

"I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it.... We have to examine ourselves in our hearts, and ask yourselves what is important? When we say we've suffered too much pain, and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will, change will come. That's what it's going to take." President Obama"

Meanwhile, in WA state our new Governor gave his first speech, committing himself to fighting for the Reproductive Parity Act.  Reproductive parity is the term the abortion industry is using for a bill that would require every insurance policy that provides maternity care to also provide abortion care.

This outright rebellion and disregard, openly displayed, needs to continue to cause us to gasp with wonder.  As we will see in Psalm 37 this morning, when the wicked are building and using instruments of harm upon the weak, we should remember how these stories go.  We should remember what God does to such nations, and we should cry out for mercy before it is too late.  President Obama is near correct although he doesn’t know what he is saying when he says, “This is how we will be judged, and their voices should compel us to change.”  Mr. President: The blood of over 40 million cover our land and cry out to God.


The Man in the Middle

"...the citizen who owns defensive weapons, and was trained in their use, constitutes the great barrier against centralized power from above and decentralized criminal violence from below. It is the man in the middle, the armed voter, who is the backbone of Western liberty." - Gary North

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Read the Word

Have you read the Scriptures?  Have you read through the whole Bible? Have you read through the New Testament?  Have you given yourself to reading and re-reading, to meditating, to studying, to memorizing, to thinking through your own applications of believing, changing, doing for your life?

Fathers, are you taking your children through the Scriptures?  Are you modeling what it means to love the Word of God?  Mothers, do your children find you reading and considering a passage of Scripture as though it was fine gold – as though it was better than fine gold?

What will 2013 have for you?  Are you prepared?  How will you prepare?  At rock bottom, give yourself to the Word of God.  If you are in Christ, it is food – food for your soul.  You live in an age and in a nation where your access to the Word of God is unprecedented.  It has not always been that way – it may not always be that way.  Do not squander the gifts of God.


If you do not have a Bible reading program, find one, grab one, find one on the back Information Table or look up at our website.  Use your new Smart Phone – you can probably find an app.  Or here’s one for you – open up to Genesis and read a couple chapters.  Then open up to Matthew and read one.  Then pick up where you left off the next day – and then the next.  And there you go – food for your soul, direction for your life, and anchor for your faith.  Simple as that.


What would this congregation look like if all of us read through the Scriptures this year?  What would we look like if 20 years from now we had, all of us, read through the Scriptures 20 times?  Do you think it would make a difference in your life?  Many, many brothers and sisters could testify to you that in fact it has made an incredible and profound impact on theirs?  Are you any different?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Communal and Individual

The Lord’s Table is both a communal and an individual rite.  It is not to be taken normally alone, in the way baptism is administered, one person at a time.  It is a communal activity – both with the Lord but also with one another.  This is why you are called to discern the Lord’s body as you partake.  Look around you and see the body of Christ feasting with Him at His table.
But it is also an individual rite.  In order for there to be a community, individuals of that community must come.  And so, if you have been baptized, identified in that community, and are able, physically, to partake – then you should come.  Jesus is communing with you and with you personally as well.  He has particular nourishment and particular fellowship for you in just the situation you find yourself in.  But remember, that individual relationship is like a member of a body – it relies and depends on all the rest of the body as well – and God is specially feeding and equipping those members too.  Just remember this – He is most likely equipping you to be part of that encouragement and support for the other parts in the week ahead.  And so come, and be fed and then given away yourself – by Your good and giving God.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Jesus and His People

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins”  Matt 1:21.
And that is why this Table has been prepared for you – His brothers and sisters, His family.  Our elder brother has saved us from our sins.  His body was broken for you.  His blood was shed for you.  It is at this Table that you give your AMEN to just such a glorious truth as this – and you are summoned to do so over and over and over again after your baptism.
Look around you as you prepare to partake – look around you and see that in Christ, there are no divisions.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, free nor slave, male nor female, rich or poor, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.  Look around you and discern the Lord’s body.  We are that body.  We are His family.  We are His people.  That is what it means that we are the church of Jesus the Christ.  And that is why we partake together.  Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Speak Comfort at the Table

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.  “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’s hand Double for all her sins.”
If you are God’s people, then you are called to hear this comfort, you are summoned to come to this Table where you can see comfort, and you are called, by faith, to taste this comfort in the bread and in the wine.
Taste the peace, for your warfare is ended.  Christ put an end to death and enmity – you are friends with God.  Taste the pardon, for your iniquity has been dealt with.  Christ paid with His own blood for your sins and you are reconciled with God.
Come and hear.  Come and taste.  Before you is the ultimate Christmas feast – the ultimate and perfect comfort food.

Joy and the Present Love of God

Paul writes of sufferings of the Christian in Romans 8; things, none of which can separate us from the love of God.  Paul does not say that conquest is found in escaping these things, nor in their removal from our lives.  Conquest is found when even in the most horrible of situations, these things cannot separate us from the love of God.  Of course this means that we can experience and live in the love of God in the midst of the most horrible of situations.

Jesus Himself did not cry out over the pain of the nails in His hands and feet, nor in the shame of His naked and humiliating public crucifixion.  His cry of despair was over the departure of God from His presence, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?"

One man wrote, "Joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winnowing Fan at the Supper

In addition to the Bread and the Cup, the Winnowing Fan of the Lord Jesus is here as well at the Table.  The same fan that came when the Spirit was given by Christ, the fan that separates the wheat from the chaff, remains at work here at the Table as well.  The Table is a dangerous place to come.


Paul warned us that there is a way to come to this Table in an unworthy manner – and it could be summed up this way:  proclaiming yourself to be a follower of Jesus but refusing to act like it – especially in how you are treating others here with you at this Table – right now.  You must come with faith and with the faith that is connected to honest repentance and a contrite heart.  The Table is a dangerous place.


But the only place to escape the danger of this place if you are a baptized member is to come and find refuge here in faith and with that contrite heart.  There is no safety in not coming and there is no safety in coming with any hypocrisy.  But thanks be to God, through Jesus, there is the Way, the only Way, to escape the danger of this Table and receive all its benefits.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Trust and Hope

This Table is a Table of Trust and Hope.  It is a place that we are to come to where our trust and hope is nourished in the One who is worthy of our undivided trust and hope.  His body and blood were given on behalf of us, to redeem us, to pay for our sin, to set us free from the wrath that we were due.  This Table recalls and memorializes our past rescue.

But it declares our present and future rescues as well.  In His providence, His perfect providence over all things, God promises to provide for us everything that we need for life and godliness in Christ Jesus.  “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy.”  This Table is therefore our help and shield for He is our help and shield.  In which ways do you need to trust today in the LORD?  In which ways do you need to hope in Christ today – this week – this time in your life?  Well then, welcome to the Table of trust and hope.