Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Putting Time in Perspective

While vacations and getaways are great, you don’t need them to find peace.  And you don’t need a pilgrimage away from normal life to strengthen your faith.  In fact, it is the very circumstances that God put in your life this week, and the ones that will come in this coming week, these are the faith-building assignments He has given you; He hand-picked each and every one.

But He does give us this first day of the week, this rest at the beginning, to cause us to put Him first and to find ourselves first resting in Him, first devoted to Him, first honestly pleading with Him, before the week goes forth in all its strength.

This is not a time to give God a quick nod before you go off and do your other things, your own things.  This is the time to come before God and offer up to Him everything you have and everything you are in the coming week.

It is also a time to bring to Him with thanksgiving all that He gave you to do this past week, all that you were able to accomplish – and to lay it all at His feet.  We do this ritually through the giving of tithes and offerings.  We also come before Him knowing that we have fallen short and that we need His forgiving mercy to wash us clean before we serve Him here in worship and before we move on into the coming week.  And we will also come and feast upon His Word in transformation and at His Table in deepening fellowship with Him and His people.

This is the work of worship, the work of covenant renewal, the time to honor Him and hear His words of honor upon us.  Come and worship the Lord.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hezekiah's Prayer

Hezekiah prays, as recorded in Isaiah 37:14-20.  It is worth noting this prayer - my prayers are so feeble in comparison - and Webb makes these good points - 

"It begins and ends with God, and its overriding concern is that God might be glorified in the situation.  Hezekiah has gone up to the temple and spread out Sennacherib's letter before the LORD.  And now, as he begins to pray, he recalls who it is he prays to:  O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim...Hezekiah's prayer is so magnificent because it arises from a deep and true understanding of who God is, and is fundamentally an act of worship.  Such praying lifts people out of themselves and into the presence of God.  And in that context, present problems are not lost sight of; they are just seen from a new perspective, and the cry for deliverance becomes a cry that God's kingdom may come and his will be done." - Webb, p 152.

And note why Hezekiah wants this prayer answered - " us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone." - Isaiah 37:20.  He has become consumed with the glory of God.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Power of the Wind-Spirit

In Hebrew and in Greek, the same word which translates Spirit also translates wind.  And so, when you have a day like yesterday here – you see the power of the wind – and you remember the power of God’s Spirit.

That Spirit has blown over you.  That Spirit leveled you in your sin and rebellion.  That Spirit whipped you around and while you were going one way, you find you are now going another way.  That Spirit upended the tables of fleshly indulgence, the table of idols, and brought you here, to the Table of the Lord.

That Spirit opens your eyes to this truth:  nothing is more important than believing on Jesus Christ – and nothing is more important than feeding on that truth with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Do so, here at the Table and find again how great the love of the Father is for you.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pro-Life Homes

A few more words on the good work and testimony of many Christians over the last several weeks in revealing the wickedness of Planned Parenthood and the whole abortion industry.  First, may God have mercy and answer our prayers, shut down these human-butchery centers and hold accountable those who have protected them.

Last week we mentioned that it was a time to make war, to stand in protest, and we celebrated that we did just that.  One of the speakers at the rally we hosted in Seattle mentioned that we should make sure that we returned every Saturday, week after week, until our voices were heard.  I believe she was well-intentioned in saying this, but I believe the point is misdirected and I want to encourage you, at least most of you, not to feel as though you have to go and protest day after day and week after week – or that the one particular Saturday was in vain, and that otherwise you didn’t really mean it.

Oh you do mean it.  You love life.  Trinity Church:  You love to bring forth life, to sacrifice yourself for life, and to give yourself to the nurturing, educating, discipling, feeding, and washing dirty clothes for that life.  Sometimes, the best thing we can do to proclaim a pro-life, pro-Jesus, pro-grace and gospel life to the world – is to do the long and hard work of having and raising kids in grace-saturated homes.  And frankly, that takes an incredible amount of time and energy – but it is well spent on the pro-life movement and God is very pleased.

            There are seasons in life.  Some of you need to really take advantage of this time where the social conscience of our nation is at least being pricked.  You should consider helping out at Care Net, writing congressman, and maybe, just maybe, participating, even organizing more rallies.  But some of you, and I would say to our congregation, most of you, are best setting your time to your duties at home.  That is not to turn away from the pro-life movement.  Rather, it is the fruit of the pro-life movement and it will bear more and more fruit for the pro-life movement. 

            Actually, it will bear more and more fruit for the kingdom of God, to which you have been called.  That is your first duty.  And the first manifestation as a community of that duty is right here, right now, before the presence of the Father Almighty in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Come and worship our God – and watch the world come to Christ, for Christ has come for the world.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why This Particular Hope is So Important

"As the argument of this book develops, it will become clear that we cannot simply regard this as a problem at which we simply shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, there are different views on these topics."  What we say about death and resurrection gives shape and color to everything else.  If we are not careful, we will offer merely a "hope" that is no longer a surprise, no longer able to transform lives and communities in the present, no longer generated by the resurrection of Jesus himself and looking forward to the promised new heavens and new earth." - Wright, SBH, p25.

No longer able to transform lives and communities.  That is certainly what I see in the overall impotence of millions of evangelicals in America who are, for the most part, pessimistic about this present age.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Heaven and Earth Rejoined

"And when we come to the picture of the actual end in Revelation 21-22, we find not ransomed souls making their way to a disembodied heaven but rather the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, uniting the two in a lasting embrace." - Wright, SBH, p19.