Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cleansing that Separates

Is there something about Isaiah that separates him from Israel as he confesses his sin?  He confesses that he is unclean, as unclean as his fellow countrymen (Isaiah 6:5) but then he is cleansed and he alone is set apart.  He will alone be set apart to go and speak to Judah.

It appears that the same grace was available to Israel as a whole.  It was offered by God through Isaiah in 1;18.  It appears that their pride kept the nation away from such an offer and the LORD sees fit to cut them off because of that unconfessed sin.

Something happens with our fellowship with God when we sin.  But something else, something deeper, seems to happen when we are confronted with it by God and then refuse to confess and repent.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How Much Sin Is On You?

As Isaiah considers his fate when before the holiness of the Lord in His temple and before His throne of judgment, it is amazing how he immediately identifies himself with the sinners, the very ones he has been denouncing in his own sermons.

"Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5).

There is not a hint of comparison in his words.  In fact, the first sin Isaiah notices when before the Lord is his own.  When we are before the Lord, the point is not how much sin is on you compared to the other guy.  That is irrelevant.  The holiness of God reveals to us the stark separation that exists between us and His holy requirements.  

If your arrow falls one inch closer to the target than your neighbors, you will still here the cry, "Sin!"  And that sin is enough to condemn you to an eternity of condemnation.  Under such judgment, no one is comparing themselves against others.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

High and Lifted Up

Isaiah sees the Lord "high and lifted up" in his vision (6:1).  Representing Judah, Isaiah is below; Yahweh is seated on the throne and Isaiah is not.  Judah, who was so sure of her security based on riches, military might, coalitions with nations, and her appropriate rituals, finds that she is in no place at all to manipulate God.

Notice, Isaiah does not break into deep fits of awe and worship and "this is so incredible to be here."  Isaiah's response rather is immediately, "Oh no."

The time of reckoning had come.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Covenant Renewal Pattern in Isaiah 6

Isaiah has made clear in the first 5 chapters that Judah has a big problem.  How can Jerusalem, so full of corruption and idolatry, be transformed into something that resembles her destiny (Isaiah 2:1-4)?

One of the things chapter 6 shows us in answer to this is the pattern of covenant renewal.  Isaiah not only comes as a sinner himself but on behalf of the nation.  He is summoned into a vision (vv1-4), confesses his sin (v5), receives a gracious cleansing, completely apart from any of his own works (vv6-7), and then is commissioned to go (vv8-13).

There may also be a piece of the coal touching his lips that may be related to the consecration, his whole body offered up to the Lord in the smoke of that cleansing-coal.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Water, Bread, and Wine

The passage in Isaiah (3:1-15) reminded us again that God alone is the One Who provides bread and water – and all things that we need for our daily sustenance.  These are the essentials of life and nutrition, of the beginning and the continuation of life.  And so we are told to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

At this Table we also find wine – the drink of finished work, the drink of rest and relaxation and fellowship and celebration – when the work is done.

And so we find Water, Bread, and Wine – all from the Lord, all a part of the sacraments – all memorials to the Lord’s gift of life, of adoption, of growth and maturation, and glory.  Come and partake of life and glory.  You who have received the Water of Life, come and partake of the Bread and Wine of life. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Table for the Humbled

Jesus said that all who would follow Him were required to take up their crosses to do so – they had to die daily, to mortify the flesh.  They had to deny themselves.  But then, that is just what Jesus did for us, not only to be an example, but to provide for us just what we needed as well for our salvation.

This Table memorializes all of what Jesus did – Who humbled Himself for us.  And so we come, humbled in Him, humbled by Him.  There is nothing here for us to boast in except Jesus Christ – but that leaves us with an eternity of boasting.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it – that is what Jesus said.  And then, that is what Jesus did.  And in Christ, that is what we come here to partake of and then to live out by grace through faith.  Come and welcome to the real life – come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The House of the Prince of Peace

Jesus, the head of this New Israel, the Ruler at the head of this mountain (Isaiah 2:2-4) has established this house, His house, and we are that house, children of the living God and brothers and sisters to our elder brother, Jesus.

As we gather to worship, we are doing so at the summons of our King who has called all nations to Himself.  All peoples, all tongues, all tribes, all families, everyone is supposed to be here – for God has called them.  He has provided the Way by means of His Son, and He has chosen you to be here now.

It is upon this mountain, in this house of worship, at the throne of grace, where the reconciliation of the world to God begins.  It is also where the reconciliation of all nations to one another begins.  It is where you will find reconciliation between you and your spouse, your child, your parents, your neighbor, and anyone with whom you have been estranged.

All peace, even the peace that passes understanding, is to be found here, at the foot of the cross, at the top of the mountain, in the glorious presence of Almighty God.  When groups or nations or families or individuals come and bow humbly here, they will find reconciliation there.  Laws will not bring this peace, compromises will not bring this peace, treatise will not bring this peace, peace talks will not bring this peace.

Only bowed knees, humbled hearts, men and women who first worship God the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit – only that will bring peace.  But it will bring peace – for the dividing wall of hostility has been broken by Jesus that all may come.  It is here that we pray for and practice the peace of the nations – for we have come to the house of the Prince of Peace.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Lord's Day is the Day of the Lord

In the Greek New Testament and in the Greek grammar construction, there is no difference in the term “the Day of the Lord” and “the Lord’s Day.”  And so, when John says that He was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day in Revelation, one could easily understand that he was in the Spirit on the Day of the Lord.  The Lord’s Day is the Day of the Lord – in one sense.

Now, there was a particular Day of the Lord when Yahweh came and brought His judgment upon unbelieving and apostate Israel especially because of her rejection of the Messiah.  This was the undoing of the old created order and the destruction of the temple.  There will be another Day of the Lord when the Lord Jesus Christ physically returns to this earth to judge the living and the dead at the great resurrection.

But every Lord’s Day is also a day of the Lord.  It is a day when He comes and visits us in a special way –and so we gather before Him, dressed in the righteousness of His Son, for His inspection and judgment upon us.  He intends to renew His vows before us and expects that we will do the same with Him.

He will clean you up here, instruct you, bind up your weak faith and strengthen your spirit with His.  He will give You His Word and His Table elements – by which in faith You will partake of His Son and renew that union and communion of peace with Him which only those of us in Christ can have.

Peace with God.  That is the end of the Day of the Lord; that is the purpose of the Lord’s Day.  It is a Sabbath rest.  It is a glorious and refreshing time.  It is a terrible time for any who would come full of sin and presumption and so I urge you not to do so.  But it is a life-giving time for any who would come honest about their sin and hungry for the Lord.  And O, how we need His life.  Well then, come and worship the Lord Jesus.  Come and worship our God.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Truett Cathy - R.I.P.

Truett Cathy - a great man.  R.I.P.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bring it All But Your Sin

The modern world would tell you that you have to leave your brains at the door if you are really going to come and worship the archaic God we have come to worship.  You will have to leave your brains, your logic, your reason, modern scientific discoveries and such, and just come and play church here for a while.  Then, when you have finished, you can pick those things up again on your way out the door so you can go out into the real world and survive.

But this is just not so; it is not required nor allowed by the Scriptures, and it is not at all necessary.  The Triune God of Scripture is the Creator of all things, including all those discoveries, all that logic, and all that reasoning.  What’s more, He’s the Redeemer of all those things.  In Him alone all those things hold together which is a way of saying in Him alone is the reason the sun rose this morning (or the reason the earth continues to turn at the same rate to produce a sunrise for those of us living here).

Bring everything.  Bring it all.  Come in fully loaded into the worship of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – nothing bothers Him, nothing is beyond Him.  Bring your brains along with all of your questions and search the Scriptures – but do so with faith or you will find no answers, no help.  Don’t leave your brains, don’t leave your earthly pursuits, your vocation, your hobbies, your leisure activities, all of the blessings and accomplishments, large and small – bring them all before Him.

And don’t leave your concerns either.  Don’t leave your concerns, your questions, your needs, your unanswered prayers, your hurts and troubles, your dreams which have not come true.  Bring all of these with you before the Lord and lay all of them at His feet as well – He is Lord over them all – and He is good.

There is only one thing that you must leave behind  - and this is what the modern world forgets.  You must leave behind your sin.  And you must leave it behind by bringing it out right now and confessing it before Him, repenting and leaving it with Him.  This is what you must do with any unconfessed sin.  And as you do, you will find that you are able to bring everything else before Him with great confidence, with great faith in the God Who loves you.  And He will deal with it all – with everything You bring.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Be Holy for God is Holy

Peter charges us in his epistle in this way; “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

To be holy is to be set apart for a sacred purpose.  It is to be chosen by God, who is holiness, for His use and for His purposes.  To be holy is to be a saint – and we are to understand from the scriptures that all Christians are saints, this is not a word only to be used for some kind of super-Christian.  But that means that all of us who are in Christ are set apart by God for His sacred purposes.

This summons you all have received to this holy convocation, to this Lord’s Day covenant renewal service, is just the beginning of what you have been set apart for this week.  This week, as with each week, you are set apart here for the renewing and equipping of your mind and spirit, to be transformed more and more by the Word and Spirit into the image of Jesus.  We are to be His body, empowered by Him, to go out and live holy lives – lives set apart for sacred purposes.

Everything you do, everything you say, everything you think, everything you take in and give out, is to be in accord with everything that happens here in the presence of the Lord with His people, His body, His church.  You are never autonomous and you are never alone.  Jesus Himself has said, “and lo, I am with you always.”

And so, by faith, you are to let this service shape your thoughts, your motives, your intentions, your self-control, your self-sacrifice, your joys and your sorrows – all shaped by what goes on here in this service of worship.  By God’s grace, you should find yourself reflecting back on this service of worship throughout the week and looking forward to presenting yourselves again the next Lord’s Day as we continue in this ongoing work of bringing God’s kingdom upon this earth as it is in heaven.  What are your particular next steps in holiness.  God will be revealing it to you now and throughout your week, day in and day out.  So come and worship the Lord.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Disciples at the Table

To partake of Christ, as we do at this Table, is to abide in Him – and it is to be His disciples indeed.  We come to this Table and, by faith, we partake of truth – a truth that sets us free.

Here, disciples of Jesus Christ enjoy the fellowship of the Table with Christ and with His children, these brothers and sisters.  And so, here at this Table, we also partake of one another – for we are the body of Christ.

There is a deep mystery here – and while we are to grow in our understanding of it – we are not to do so from a distance.  Rather, we are to come and partake and in that partaking, we are discipled more and more in the truth.  Come and partake of truth.   Come and welcome to Jesus.