Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

How can it be, the One who died,
Has borne our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death?
Sing, sing hallelujah.

For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes.
Alive He stands, their Friend and King;
Christ, Christ He is risen.

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!
Oh, sing hallelujah.
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed;
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

Where doubt and darkness once had been,
They saw Him and their hearts believed.
But blessed are those who have not seen,
Yet, sing hallelujah.

Once bound by fear now bold in faith,
They preached the truth and power of grace.
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting.

The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go tell of His goodness.

He’s alive, He’s alive!
Heaven’s gates are opened wide.
He’s alive, He’s alive!
Now in heaven glorified.

Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Ed Cash; © 2012 Gettymusic and Alletrop Music (BMI)

Friday, March 29, 2013

God Defines Marriage

God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.    Genesis 1:26-27

Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.     Genesis 2:19-24

Jesus Paid it All

Monday, March 25, 2013

It is Finished

John 19:16-42                 March 24, 2013                    Link for audio/video/document

Jesus paid the high price – the ultimate price of his life – for death by taking the punishment for our sin on the cross. Jesus was crucified, dead and buried so we might know his forgiveness and his redemption and his restoration when we receive him and embrace him as our Lord and Savior. Because Jesus sacrificially loved us, he will always give us much more than we deserve, and abundantly more than could ever expect.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Power of Preaching - Martin Luther

Carl Trueman’s introduction to his lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary, March 20, 2013
I am convinced that good preaching depends on at least two things. First, a good grasp of the technical skills necessary: ability to handle the biblical text, to communicate well and to speak with conviction on things that count. But it also depends upon as second, equally important but often neglected point: the need to understand preaching as a theological act. Only when this is done, when the preacher accurately understands what he is doing will he really do so well and with the confidence necessary.

And what better way to reflect upon preaching in Protestant context than to spend a few moments thinking about how Luther, the founder of the Protestant preaching feast, understood preaching as a theological act?
On speaking on Malachi 2:7 (“The lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts”) Martin Luther wrote:
The Word is the channel through which the Holy Spirit is given. This is a passage against those who hold the spoken Word in contempt. The “lips” are the public reservoirs of the church. In them alone is kept the Word of God. You see, unless the Word is preached publicly, it slips away. The more it is preached, the more firmly it is retained. Reading it is not as profitable as hearing it, for the live voice teaches, exhorts, defends, and resists the spirit of error. Satan does not care a hoot for the written Word of God, but he flees at the speaking of the Word.
Luther echoed this statement at the end of his greatest hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Living in the Moment by the Spirit

From “The existential life” by Andree Seu Peterson, World Magazine, February 23, 2013
. . . Jesus’ most baffling behaviors in the Gospels are illuminated when we consider the existential dimension. His mother approaches Him at a wedding: “They have no wine” (John 2). Jesus replies noncommittally that it is not yet His time—then a moment later performs His first miracle. On another occasion He tells His brothers He is not going up to the feast—then a moment later goes to the feast (John 7). Either Jesus was dissembling in His first responses, or He had not yet heard from God the Father—and when He did hear in the next few seconds, He changed course on a dime. 
Laying privilege aside, Jesus did all He did as a man led by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1). Then as Pioneer (Hebrews 12:2), He passed the baton to His followers. Jesus is different from us in that He is Savior and we are not, but He is not different from us in the requirement to live existentially. He is Man par excellence, come to make us excellent men. Excellent men are those who, in imitatio Christi, cultivate “an open ear,” which is better than religious ritual (Psalm 40:6). 
The biggest battle is in the thought life. In a sense there is no other life than the thought life. The renewal of the mind effects transformation (Romans 12:2)—not abstractly, but in the conscious dimension. It involves our cooperation and is not a passive work of God apart from that cooperation. “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:6) is something to do this minute on the clock. 
I’m no King David, but King David messed up regarding his children, where I also failed. He suffered greatly in his private moments. I can tell. And we have many words from David left to posterity, but I look in vain for signs of morbid picking at scabs. By contrast, at Christmastime I gave my daughter a book of poetry by her favorite author, and most of them were an obsessive raking over the coals of an old divorce. 
David’s deathbed words (2 Samuel 23; 1 Chronicles 28) bare no hint of self-flagellation but are full of worship. His gaze lifted upward, he speaks of “the Rock of Israel,” and the beauty of justice “like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth”—revelatory of a man who has learned how to talk his soul back to joy by meditating on things eternal rather than temporal. 
Walk into your new nature, “put on” the virtues of Christ (Colossians 3:12), press into the you you are becoming. “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).
To read the entire article, ClickHere.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What is Truth?

John 18:28-19:16                 March 17, 2013               Link for audio/video/document

The truth is each and every one of us in the room desperately needs Jesus Christ. The truth is there is blood on our hands that we cannot wash off. The truth is Christ to go to the cross to cleanse us from our sins. The truth is Jesus was born to reveal the truth of God. The truth is Jesus died to reveal the truth of God. The truth is Jesus the truth because Jesus is God. The truth is Jesus has spoken to us today and “everyone who is of the truth” listens to his voice. And the truth is - you and I can be free in Jesus today!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Making Our Prayer Requests More Biblical

David Powlison:
. . . the Bible’s prayers are rarely about health, travel mercies, finances, doing well on a test, finding a job, or the salvation of unsaved relatives. Of course, these are legitimate things to pray for, but they are a minor emphasis in Scripture. Even so, these topics typically dominate most church and small group prayer requests. They easily miss the real action of God’s dealings with his beloved people.
In contrast, the driving focus of biblical prayer asks God to show himself, asks that we will know him, asks that we will love others.
It names our troubles.

It names our troublesome reactions and temptations.

It names our holy desires.

It names our God, his promises, and his will.
When someone asks, “How may I pray for you?” Powlison asks us to imagine the impact of responding like this:
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and have been inattentive and irritable to those nearest and dearest to me. Please pray for me, that I will awaken and turn from my preoccupation with work pressures, recreations, health problems, or money. God promises to help me pay attention to him. Ask him to help me remember and focus. Ask him to help me to take my family and other people to heart. Pray that I will take refuge in him when the pressure is on. The Lord is my refuge, but I’ve been taking refuge in TV and food.
He also answers the question, “How can we help people change the way they make prayer requests?”
First and foremost, model what it’s like to be in touch with where you really need God’s mercies, strength, and wisdom.

Second, help God’s people to study what the Bible shows and tells about prayer. Learning to pray is not mainly about how often we pray, or the techniques and elements that go into prayer. It is about how to need the right things, and how look in the right direction for what you need. What is the Lord’s Prayer asking for? What are the Psalms asking for? What about God comes into view in the Lord’s Prayer and the Psalms? This is what we ought to be asking for from others, and how we ought to be praying for each other.
Read the whole thing here.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Sovereign Hand of God

John 18:1-27                   March 10, 2013               Link for audio/video/document

Every time we trust in Jesus during times of difficult situations and circumstances, we are resting in the sovereignty of Jesus. Every time we refuse to take things into our own hands and draw our own sword, we are resting in the sovereign hand of Jesus. Because he rules, nothing we do in obedience to him is ever futile. Our lives have meaning and purpose because in Christ are included not only in the plan and purpose of the One who rules it all, but we area also included in his family.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Sovereign Hand of God - J. C. Ryle

Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God’s hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect, so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as “chance”, “luck”, or “accident” in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God: and all things are ‘working together’ for the believer’s good (Rom. 8:28).     J.C. Ryle, "Day by Day"

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.     Ephesians 1:11

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brethren We Have Met to Worship - Bart Millard

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, that holy blessings will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray that holy blessings will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses' sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, that holy blessings will be showered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He'll call us home to Heaven, at His table we'll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet blessings all around.

Words: George Atkins, 1819
Music: William Moore, 1825

The Lord's Prayer

John 17:1-26                        March 3, 2013                Link for audio/video/document

The church is Jesus Christ - the one who revealed and reflected the supremacy of God on the cross in all the glory of his power, greatness, majesty, holiness, purity, wisdom, goodness, mercy, grace, love, beauty and splendour; the one who prayed that we would be protected by God’s name and sanctified by God’s Word; the one who also prayed that we would unified in our love for God and for each other; the one who sacrificially loved us so we would bear that same fruit today.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Loving Your Enemies - Paul David Tripp

Every time you love your enemy, you are resting in the sovereignty of God. Every time you speak lovingly and softly in the face of someone else’s anger, you are choosing to rest in the sovereignty of God. Every time you resist the temptation to win an argument at all costs, you are resting in God’s sovereignty. Because he rules, nothing you do in obedience to him is ever futile. Your life has meaning and purpose because you are included not only in the plan of the One who rules, but also in his family!           Paul David Tripp, “Instruments in the Redeemers Hands”

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”             Jesus, Matthew 5:44-48