Monday, March 30, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 27 Penalty of Sin

Here's the verse for this week. 

Sin came into the world through Adam. Not only do we sin because we're sinners, but we sinned in Adam. That means the moment we're born we're already guilty because Adam's sin was our sin because we were in him when he did it.

Rom 5:12
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- The Son of God Goes Forth to War

The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below,
He follows in His train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong:
Who follows in His train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came;
Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel,
The lion’s gory mane;
They bowed their heads the death to feel:
Who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of Heav’n,
Through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
To follow in their train.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Study With Me -- Acts Lesson 14

What are the purposes for gathering together as a church? Most of us would immediately say that we gather for worship, and certainly that is one of them. As I’ve been studying the book of Acts, I’ve taken a slight detour into I Corinthians 12-14. Even though the main emphasis in these chapters is on spiritual gifts, it’s interesting to pay attention to the principles that Paul lays out for the church. I think the principles he lays down for evaluating the use of tongues in the church can also be used to evaluate anything we do together.

Look at these phrases from verses in I Corinthians 14.
5: he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
6: …if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you…?
9: …unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand.
12: let it be for the edification of the church.
14: if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful
16: he does not understand what you say.
17: you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
19: I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also.

These are brief phrases taken from these verses so that you can focus on what is important. Several words keep coming up: edification, profit, understanding, teaching. My purpose right now is not to look at the issue of tongues but to point out that in Paul’s discussion of tongues he focuses on the purpose of their time together. He wants to be sure that everything provides edification of others, helps people learn and understand the truth for their spiritual profit.

Each of us who has any input into the events of a worship service should evaluate our contribution in terms of these characteristics. What about music for example. Is the music understandable? As a pianist, in the past I may have played an offertory that sounded beautiful, but was a song no one knew. How then could people say amen to that which had no meaning to them? (Verse 16)

Whether you are a leader or someone who participates in the pew, make sure your participation encourages understanding and edification of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CAMPONTHIS: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? is the power of God unto salvation

One of the most important things we can do as faithful men is to meditate often on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. this after all is the good news that is the power of God unto salvation.

Steve Camp had a great article on this on Tuesday. I would encourage each of you to read and think about what God has provided in Christ.

CAMPONTHIS: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?<br> is the power of God unto salvation

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Giving Rights to Embryos

The incident of the woman giving birth to octuplets is providing pro-life people the opportunity to push for legislation that will define an embryo as a human being. The discussion surrounding this story and President Obama's approval of embryonic stem cell research provides the backdrop for us as Christians to discuss with our friends and neighbors a biblical approach to understanding what's at stake here.

Jill Stanek, in an article in USA Today, describes the common practice used by in vitro fertilization clinics:

"Usually 10 or fewer eggs are harvested and fertilized. The resulting unique human beings are grown in a petri dish and checked for defects. Suspected imperfect embryos are killed. Typically the doctor will implant one to five unflawed embryos. If multiples survive, selective reduction is recommended. Remaining embryos are frozen. Some die when thawed. Others are killed in the name of science."

See the entire article here.

Each of us needs to do what we can to let our representatives know how we stand on this practice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 26 The Penalty of Sin

Here’s the verse for this week.

This is a sobering thought, even for us as Christians. We don’t get two or more lives.

We get one life, we die once and then comes the judgment.

Heb 9:27
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spurgeon - Evening March 11

I was amazed again at the extent of God's effort and purpose to seek me and find me. As I read the following devotional from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening I was humbled by the thought that God was the seeker, not me.

Spurgeon’s Evening Devotional for March 11.

"Thou shalt be called, Sought out."
- Isaiah 62:12

The surpassing grace of God is seen very clearly in that we were not only sought, but sought out. Men seek for a thing which is lost upon the floor of the house, but in such a case there is only seeking, not seeking out. The loss is more perplexing and the search more persevering when a thing is sought out. We were mingled with the mire: we were as when some precious piece of gold falls into the sewer, and men gather out and carefully inspect a mass of abominable filth, and continue to stir and rake, and search among the heap until the treasure is found. Or, to use another figure, we were lost in a labyrinth; we wandered hither and thither, and when mercy came after us with the gospel, it did not find us at the first coming, it had to search for us and seek us out; for we as lost sheep were so desperately lost, and had wandered into such a strange country, that it did not seem possible that even the Good Shepherd should track our devious roamings. Glory be to unconquerable grace, we were sought out! No gloom could hide us, no filthiness could conceal us, we were found and brought home. Glory be to infinite love, God the Holy Spirit restored us!

The lives of some of God's people, if they could be written would fill us with holy astonishment. Strange and marvellous are the ways which God used in their case to find his own. Blessed be his name, he never relinquishes the search until the chosen are sought out effectually. They are not a people sought to-day and cast away to-morrow. Almightiness and wisdom combined will make no failures, they shall be called, "Sought out!" That any should be sought out is matchless grace, but that we should be sought out is grace beyond degree! We can find no reason for it but God's own sovereign love, and can only lift up our heart in wonder, and praise the Lord that this night we wear the name of "Sought out. "

Monday, March 16, 2009

President Approves More Killings

President Obama recently signed an executive order reversing President Bush’s ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This is a tragic mistake and great sin, for in doing so, the President is using your tax dollars and mine to murder thousands of human beings.

There was a very interesting discussion of what is at stake here on the Albert Mohler radio program in the last week or so. You can find the link here. (Just today he also discussed the fetus as an organ factory. I haven't heard this one yet, but you can find the link here.) I would strongly encourage every one of you to take the time to listen to these programs. It’s an hour’s commitment but worth it. It helped me to grasp in a much better way what is taking place on this issue. It’s time for us to learn as much as we can about this and take a stand as Christians against this barbarism.

I would also refer you to my son’s blog on this topic. He is a much better writer than I and helps us to put these things in better focus. You can find his article here.

Finally, I would recommend the book, “How to be a Christian in a Brave New World” by Joni Eareckson Tada & Nigel M. De S. Cameron. This book will help you understand some of the newer bio-medical technologies such as cloning from a biblical point of view. Buy it and read it.

As men who want to be faithful, let’s start taking a stand on this issue by praying fervently for our country and its leaders, by letting our voices be known to our representatives, and informing ourselves and then our friends and families as to why these practices must be stopped.

“O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.” Daniel 9:4-5

Memorization Monday -- Week 25 The Fact of Sin

This week’s verse continues with the truth of the Gospel – The Penalty for Sin

This verse is no doubt familiar to you, but what I want you to think about as you meditate on this verse is whether you believe it or nor. Really. We so easily say, “The wages of sin is death.” But do we really believe that the consequences of my impatience with my wife carries the death penalty with it? Do we really believe that not loving a neighbor with the same amount of love that I love myself carries the death penalty? Do I really believe that because I have only loved God with part of my strength rather than all of it, I am worthy of death? If so, consider how much forgiveness you and I have already received from the hand of God. Is it enough to cause me to love Him more?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- Come Thou Fount

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Study With Me -- Acts Lesson 13

We have seen from I Corinthians 13 that knowledge and prophecy would cease when something caused them to cease. But what is prophecy?

I Corinthians 14:1 tells us to pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. Often times we think of prophecy as telling the future. However in verse 3 we have a pretty good definition of New Testament prophecy. “He who prophecies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”

I think New Testament prophecy is more like we would think of preaching. It is speaking the Word of God in a way that builds up, exhorts and comforts us.

Take a look at 2 Peter 1:16-21. Peter is one of the apostles who was with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. Was that a real experience or just a feeling? It was a real experience and a grand one at that. Not many people have had that sort of experience.

Look at what Peter says in verse 16: “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” He goes on to describe a portion of his real experience there on the mountain including the fact that they heard the voice of God.

Then Peter makes an amazing statement in verse 19. He says, “We also have the more sure prophetic word.” What Peter? You have a more sure word than the experience you had up there on the mountain with Jesus? What is that more sure word?

He responds by telling us in verse 19 that it is not only a more sure word, but a word which we do well to take heed as a light that shines in a dark place. OK Peter, what is it?

Verse 20 has the answer. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation…” So the answer is that Scripture is a more sure word than what Peter experienced on the mountain and it is a more sure word than any experience we may ever have with God.

So many times people will tell me that what it says in Scripture is all well and good, but they had an experience that cannot be denied and go on to say something that is in direct contradiction to Scripture. Our attitude toward the Bible has to be such that we will measure every thought, every experience, every decision by what it says. Whatever doesn’t match must be thrown out no matter how deep or personal that experience may have been.

The gift of prophecy then is the gift of being able to speak the Word of God from Scripture in such a way that people are built up, exhorted and comforted with the truth from God.

I'd be interested to hear how the rest of you see it. What is biblical prophecy the way you understand it?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 24 The Fact of Sin

This week’s verse is the third in the series on the Gospel – The Fact of Sin

Rom 3:12
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Some thoughts on Forgiveness

I've been doing some thinking on the topic of forgiveness lately. In the study of Acts that I've been doing, it seems that forgiveness is the primary thing offered to people in the Gospel. It isn't eternal life that is mentioned or being with Jesus, even those are clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. I then got to thinking about why we don't appreciate forgiveness more. My son Tim told me about a book called Plague of Plagues written in 1669 by Ralph Venning. I'm going to take the liberty of quoting some sections from this book off and on over the next couple of weeks for your consideration. Even though the language is a little archaic, I found the things he had to say sobering and challenging and helped me to appreciate forgiveness all the more.

Here's today's installment--

If we consider man in a natural or physical state, we shall find sin to be (i) against the well-being, and (ii) against the very being of man. It will not suffer him to be well or long in the world, nor if possible to be at all.
(i) It is against man's well-being in this life. Well-being is the life of life, and sin bears us so much ill-will, that it deprives us of our livelihood, and of that which makes it worth our while to live. Man was born to a great estate, but by sin, which was and is treason against God, he forfeited all. Man came into the world as into a house ready furnished; he had all things prepared and ready to hand. All the creatures came to wait on him and pay him homage; but when man sinned, God turned him out of house and home, and all his lands, goods and chattels were taken from him. Paradise was man's inheritance, where he had everything pleasant to the eye and good for food (he needed no clothes while innocent). But when he sinned, God dispossessed him of all, and drove him out into the wide world, like a pilgrim or a beggar, to live by his own hands and to earn his meat by the sweat of his brow, as you may read at length in Genesis 3.

Thus, by sin, man, who was the Emperor of Eden, is banished from his native country, and must never see it again but in a new and living way; for the old is closed up, and besides that, it is kept against him with flaming swords. Ever since, it has been every man's lot to come into and go out of this world naked, to show that he has no right to anything, but lives on the alms of God's charity and grace. All we have or hold between our birth and death is clear gain and mere gift. God might choose whether he would allow us anything or not, and when he has given he may take back again, and none of us has cause to say anything but what Job did: 'Naked came I into the world, and naked shall I return; the Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord' (Job 1.21). All we have, our food and raiment, is only lent to us. We are only tenants at will, and therefore, seeing we deserve nothing, we should be content with, and thankful for anything (1 Timothy 6.7,8).

Monday, March 02, 2009

Memorization Monday

Here it is Monday again. Today’s verse is the second in the section on the Gospel – The Fact of Sin

John 3:19
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Have a good week.