Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why the Forbidden Tree? ~One Explanation.

Thoughts by Thomas Boston in "Voices from the Past", Page 349

Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Adam had perfect tranquility and calm in his own breast in paradise.  His conscience had nothing to do, and the happy pair lived in perfect unity.  They were liable to no disease or pain, and had a life of pure delight and unmixed pleasure.  Wisdom and knowledge was pleasant to their souls.  They knew the knowledge of God, enjoyed communion with him, and saw the delights of his glory.  The forbidden fruit in this paradise of Eden was a gracious provision to protect Adam from falling.  God made man lord of the world, but Adam needed to know by a particular visible sign that God had sovereign dominion over all.  It was for man’s safety, and an act of infinite wisdom and grace, to keep him from one single tree as a visible testimony that he must yield all to his Creator, so that while he saw himself as lord of creation, he might not forget that he was still God’s subject.  This tree was a memorial from heaven to warn him of his danger and cause him to be aware of his changeable state.  Man was created with a free will to do good, of which the tree of life was an evidence, but also free to do evil, and the forbidden tree was to remind him of this grave danger.  It was a continual reminder to Adam against evil.  It was a beacon set up before him to bid him beware of dashing himself to pieces on the rocks of sin.  God created man to stand upright, that he might look up to God and find happiness above, and not on the earth.  This fair tree taught him this lesson.  His happiness was not to be found in the enjoyment of creation, for there was a lack even in paradise.  The forbidden tree was, in effect, the representative of all creation.  It pointed man away from himself, and to God for happiness.  It was a sign reading ‘Emptiness’ hung over the door of creation.

Read more at http://creationrevolution.com/daily-devotional-the-lord-god-made-to-spring-up/#29wz6cQrAHmo4vJd.99

Monday, April 28, 2014

Memorization Monday - Psalm 139:1-3

Psalm 139:1-3 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.

What an amazing God we serve! There's no hiding from him. It's best to just admit and confess our sinfulness and live in the full light of his truth.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hymn of the Week - Complete in Thee by Aaron R. Wells and James M. Gray

Pastor said that he would be speaking on justification this evening and this old song came to my mind. I could not find it in any of my more current hymnbooks. I had to go back to the Worship and Service Hymnbook we used at Wheaton College when I was there.
1. Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.
Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
  And glorified, I too, shall be!

2. Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

3.Complete in Thee—each want supplied,

And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

4. Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Romans 7 Continued

Romans 7 continued. (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

After having told us that sin shall not have dominion over us because we are not under law but under grace, and after having said that we are not under the law's jurisdiction because of our death with Christ on the cross, he now goes on to examine whether there is something wrong with the law. In Romans 7:7 he asks the question, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin?” The answer is “Absolutely Not!” Paul says he would not have known about covetousness if the law had not told him not to covet.

The problem is that sin takes the opportunity that comes about because of the law. Paul personifies sin in this passage and shows that when we hear a commandment, sin uses that as an opportunity to rise up and oppose the law. In opposing the law it is opposing the nature and character of God. The moral law is a revelation of the character of God. So sin, taking the opportunity provided by the law rises up and as Paul wrote, “produced in me all manner of evil desire” (Romans 7:8).

He goes on to explain that apart from the law, sin is dead. He says that he was doing just fine before the law came, but when it arrived, sin came to life and he died. Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee. He had had the law since he was a small child. In Philippians 3:5-6 Paul writes concerning himself, “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”

So what does he mean in Romans 7 when he says that when the law came, sin revived and he died? I think it means that at some point the spiritual nature of the real law sank in. He realized that the law not only prohibited murder, it meant hatred, anger and bitterness were the seeds from which murder comes and therefore are violations of the character of God every bit as much as actual murder is. He realized that not only was the deed of sexual immorality wrong, but thinking about it and lusting after a woman was also wrong. When that realization hits us, wrongful thoughts and emotions seem to spring up in a constant stream and realize we are doomed. For as Paul says in Galatians 3:10, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'”

The commandment was meant to bring life. Leviticus 18:5 tells us, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” But sin that has taken up residence in us uses the opportunity of the law and kills us. Paul concludes this section by telling us that the law is holy, just and good. There is nothing wrong with the law in that sense, but there is definitely something wrong with us. God has removed us from the jurisdiction of the law, not because of the law, but because of its affect on sin. We'll find that law was never meant to be the solution of our problem, but was meant to show us our problem so that we could be rescued by faith in Christ. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Memorization Monday - Romans 5:9-10

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:9-10

Since Christ died for us while we were still sinners, we have even more benefits in store. Primarily in this passage we have the promise that we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Why is it crucial that we be saved from wrath? Why is there wrath from God? The sinfulness of man makes God angry. He created us for his glory and for his pleasure and yet we have rebelled. He provided for all of our needs to be met by his gracious and loving hands and yet in spite of all of that we rejected this loving care and turned our back on him and his provision. That is why God is angry.

But what did this God do? He entered the world himself in the person of Jesus Christ and died on the cross to take the brunt of his own anger upon himself so that he might set rebellious sinners free. Which rebellious sinners does he set free?  Those who come to him and believe him when he says he freely pardons from all sins.

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Love Crucified Arose - Michael Card

Long ago, He blessed the earth
Born older than the years
And in the stall the cross He saw
Through the first of many tears

A life of homeless wandering
Cast out in sorrow's way
The Shepherd seeking for the lost
His life, the price He paid

Love crucified arose
The risen One in splendor
Jehovah's sole defender
Has won the victory

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

Throughout Your life You've felt the weight
Of what You'd come to give
To drink for us that crimson cup
So we might really live

At last the time to love and die
The dark appointed day
That one forsaken moment when
Your Father turned His face away

Love crucified arose
The One who lived and died for me
Was Satan's nail pierced casualty
Now He's breathing once again

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

Love crucified arose
The risen One in splendor
Jehovah's sole defender
Has won the victory

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

Love crucified arose
The One who lived and died for me
Was Satan's nail pierced casualty
Now He's breathing once again

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ultimate Reality

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

He has been appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Because we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being. Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. For it is appointed for men to die once, and after that the judment. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

And they sang a new song, saying: “You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Taken from these Scriptures:
John 1:1-5, 14; Colossians 1:15-17 ; Hebrews 1:1-4; Isaiah 64:6; Acts17:24-31; Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Revelation 5:9-14

Friday, April 18, 2014

Continuing Thoughts on Romans 7

This is a continuation of my thoughts on Romans 6-8 with special attention to Romans 7. It would be best if you start with Part 1 and Part 2 so that you will have the context.

Paul asked the question in 6:15, “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” He asked that question because he had just stated that sin shall not have dominion over you because you are not under law but under grace (v. 14). We have died to sin and so we should not offer the members of our body as instruments to sin, but we should offer ourselves to God as those alive from the dead. And then he goes right into “For sin shall not have dominion over you...”

One would naturally want to know why sin will not have dominion just because we are not under law but under grace. What does not being under law have to do with it? Before he deals with that question, he wants to make sure that even though we are not under law but under grace, continuing to yield ourselves to sin makes us in effect a slave to sin, even though legally sin has no dominion. And he further tells us that yielding to sin continuously leads to further sin and ultimately death, whereas yielding to obedience leads ultimately to holiness and eternal life. With those warnings given, he turns once again to the law in chapter 7 where he wants to explain what freedom from the law means and how the law and sin interact.

So he begins chapter 7 by using marriage as an illustration to show that the law has jurisdiction over a person until death takes place. It can be the death of a person himself, or in the case he examines here the death of a spouse. When ones spouse dies, the law prohibiting marriage to another person no longer applies. So death breaks the legal hold of the law on a person.

In a similar way, when Jesus died on the cross and we died with him, we are no longer bound to the law but are now free to be “married” to Christ so that we can bear fruit for God (7:4). In 6:21 he had asked, When you were slaves of sin, “what fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?” The fruit of that kind of living is death. The fruit of an obedient life is holiness and eternal life. But the problem that he is going to be addressing here is how that works out. By being separated from the law, we are married to Christ. The natural fruit of that union will be born out in our lives because he lives in us. In another place Jesus compares himself to a vine and we are the branches. The natural result of being connected in that way is fruit (John 15). The same thing is true here.

Beginning in 7:5 then I believe Paul is summarizing what is to come in the next sections of his letter. Verse 5 tells us that when we were in the flesh, our sinful passions were aroused by the law and as a result, the fruit we brought forth was fruit to death. I believe this is what he then explains in much of the rest of the chapter. When was it that we were “in the flesh”? It was before the regenerating power of God brought about the new birth in our hearts.

In contrast, verse 6 explains that now we have been delivered from the law because we have died to it through the death of Christ, and now we serve in the new way based on the Spirit's work and not the old way of mechanical obedience to external rules and regulations. This, I believe is what he gets into in chapter 8, the life governed by the Spirit.

The problem with the law as we shall see is not really a problem with law at all, but a problem with us. We are not capable of keeping the law and instead of helping us, the law gives strength to sin. This is why the Old Covenant was replaced. The New Covenant provides a changed heart, a new spirit, God's Holy Spirit and internal motivation to obey. God gives the strength to obey. It is a joyful obedience that comes from the heart because the heart has been changed.

Look at what Moses tells the people of Israel after they had wandered and complained for forty years: Deuteronomy 29:4 “Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.” Why had they been unsuccessful in following the Lord. God had not given them a heart to see and understand. No law, no list of regulations as good as they may be can provide the new heart and new motivation that is required. But this is exactly what God has promised in the New Covenant.

So Paul has introduced the concept of the law stimulating the sin that was in our unregenerate hearts in verse 5 and the solution to that which is a life of the spirit in verse 6. Next time we'll begin with Romans 7:7 and see how these principles are developed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Did it Have to be a Friend? by Michael Card

Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord
Why did he use a kiss to show them
That's not what a kiss is for

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

And why did there have to be thorny
Crown pressed upon His head
It should have been the royal one
Made of jewels and gold instead

It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live
For all who seek to love
A thorn is all the world has to give

And why did it have to be
A heavy cross He was made to bare
And why did they nail His feet and hands
His love would have held Him there

It was a cross for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay
And Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away

Yes, Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away

Lord, Increase our Faith

I spoke last night on Matthew 21:22, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Jesus said this during Holy Week after he had cursed the fig tree. This is a hard verse because my immediate tendency is to place all sorts of conditions on the “whatever”. Jesus certainly cannot mean that, can he?

Well, it matters why we are trying to put conditions on his statement. There are other conditions for answered prayer in the scripture besides believing. We are supposed to pray according to God's will. We are supposed to pray in Jesus' name. We are to pray persistently and in agreement with other believers. We are supposed to be those who are abiding in Christ and who are living obedient lives before we can claim that God would answer our prayers. So, yes, there are conditions. My normal reason for responding to this “whatever” is lack of faith rather than the other spiritual conditions. When I respond in unbelief, even the one condition of this verse has been denied.

So given the Scriptural conditions mentioned above, let's look at the promise. First there is the “whatever”. God doesn't promise substitutes, he promises to give us what we ask for. All of the promises of God specify the “it” in one way or another. “Whatever you ask, it will be given you.”

Second, we need to ask. James writes, “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). It seems obvious, but we do need to ask. And in another case Jesus challenged his followers to be persistent in the asking.

Finally, we must believe. Mark 11:24 writes it this way, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Here he says that we are to believe that we are receiving them. This occurs before the future tense of we will have them. In other words, our prayer needs to have the faith to believe that the answer is on the way even before it actually arrives. Hebrews 6:12 tells us that it takes faith and patience. There is a believing and a patient waiting. But again, all of this presumes the meeting of all the scriptural conditions for answered prayer. But what a promise! Our faith is so weak at times. We pray and hardly expect God to even hear us let alone answer our prayer. Maybe this needs to be our prayer, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

God's Work in Us the Key to Victory

Yesterday, (See article here.) in discussing the last section of Romans 6, I said, “If God has given you the gift of eternal life by regenerating your spirit, he has also given you a new heart, a new spirit, his Holy Spirit and the motivation to live for him (Ezekiel 36:26-27).”

Here's what that passage says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

There's a parallel passage in Jeremiah 31:33-34 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

The New Covenant promised to Israel included the grace and internal motivation needed to follow God. His law would be in their minds and hearts. God would cause them to walk in his ways. The motivation to do right would flow naturally from a changed inside. This New Covenant was initiated by Jesus when he offered himself as the sacrifice of the New Covenant (See Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; Hebrews 8:8, 8:13, 9:15, 12:24). Some day it will be fulfilled in its entirety with all Israel but for now it is revealed in the new birth as that takes place in Jews and Gentiles alike around the world from every tribe and nation.

The point that I'm trying to make today as a follow-up of yesterday's discussion is that the warnings at the end of Romans 6 are real. Yielding to sin leads to further disobedience and ultimately death. Whereas yielding to obedience leads to further righteousness and that leads to eternal life. This should not be thought of as though I can just legalistically obey a certain set of regulations and end up in heaven. We are not saved by works but by faith in Christ. But believing in Christ and trusting him for salvation changes us. We become new creatures, old things have passed away, and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). The grace that God gives us teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly lives (Titus 2:12). If we don't know or don't care to live righteous and godly lives, we don't have the grace of God at work in us. We are told that God disciplines every son he receives. The purpose of that discipline is holiness (Hebrews 12:10), not the holiness of Christ that we receive positionally, but practical outworking of holiness in our living. The writer of Hebrews tells us that without such holiness we won't see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). But it is a holiness that is generated by God at work in us as we live in faithful obedience. It is God who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure as we work out our salvation in our lives (Phil 2:13).

So it's important that we understand this. Two extremes need to be avoided. The one extreme is that we receive the gift of righteousness from God. He forgives our sins and now we can live however we want and it doesn't matter. We're secure. We'll get in and so all is well. The other extreme is to say, God will be examining our works and they better measure up or we won't get in. We begin to assume that we can earn our justification by our efforts. That is denied countless times in Scripture. If we would put ourselves under the illusion that we can work our way in by our deeds, we put ourselves under a curse because we must do everything perfectly to get in (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10).

We need to live our lives based on the truth that God graciously forgives us of our sins and at the same time, gently works in us to conform us to the image of his Son. God disciplines us as a father. His goal is to draw us back into his arms in loving obedience. His promises of reward and warnings against sin are both meant to draw us to fellowship with himself. A human father does this imperfectly. Our heavenly father knows exactly what it takes and he will be successful (Hebrews 12:10-11).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Victory in Christ Revisited - Romans 6

A few weeks ago I wrote several blog articles about what I called Victory in Christ. This was a series on Romans 6-8. Since then I have done a lot of thinking about the topic and have given considerable thought to Romans 7 especially and how it fits in considering the struggle all of us face as Christians in our efforts to live a life that is pleasing to God and is victorious.

In preparation for a deeper look at Romans 7, here are the main truths that I believe Romans 5-6 are teaching us.

First, Adam's sin was imputed to all of us and thus we are guilty from the moment we're born. Actual sin was not imputed to people when there was no law against those sins and thus God tells us that the law was added so that sin would increase (Romans 5:20), and so that sin might become exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13).

Second, where sin increased, grace increased more (Romans 5:20). We should look at grace not only as God's gracious forgiveness of our sin, but the motivation and strength to do right (Titus 2:11, 12; 2 Cor 9:8; 2 Cor 8:7; 2 Cor 12:9). So as sin increases, God gives more grace to be able to fight it and overcome victoriously. His grace never lags behind.

But that raises the question as to whether we should sin more so that there will be more grace. The answer, of course, is “no”. It's interesting then that Paul appeals to what we should know and that what we know should help us. We should know that we have been united with Christ in his death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Since we've been united with Christ, we died with him on the cross and we were raised with him and are seated with him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6). Since this is so, our old man was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be rendered inoperative. We are therefore no longer slaves of sin because we have been freed from it (Romans 6:5-11). Sin's right to rule us has ceased. In light of these truths, we are to count ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God because we are united with Christ. We are to see ourselves as having died already and as living on the resurrection side. The bottom line of this section then is that we should not offer ourselves as weapons to sin, but we should present ourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead.

Next we discover that we are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14), and this results in the understanding that sin shall not have dominion over us. (He's going to explain how sin and law interact in Chapter 7.) This is a promise not a command. But should we sin, since we are not under law but under grace? Paul's argument here beginning at verse 15 is very strong. He says, “Don't you know?” Again he brings up the importance of knowing something. What is it that we are to know? Besides knowing that we are united with Christ, we should know that when we yield ourselves to obey someone, we are in effect a slave of the one who we obey. Regardless of how the law applies, we are defacto slaves if we obey someone else's every command. Even though sin doesn't have legal dominion over us and its power over us has been broken, if we yield to it, we are as good as slaves even if perhaps we are not legally slaves. So he gives two scenarios. We can either yield ourselves to sin which leads to death or we can yield ourselves to obedience which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16-23). These two masters have two completely opposite results. Yielding to sin leads to further lawlessness and wickedness and ultimately death. Yielding to obedience leads to righteousness, then to holiness (v. 19), which leads ultimately to eternal life (v.22). He summarizes this truth in the familiar verse 23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Does this mean that ultimately salvation is based on our works? If I give in to obedience and to greater righteousness I ultimately work my way to the end which is eternal life? I don't think so because in verse 23 as in many other places of Scripture we learn that eternal life is a gift of God. But what I think this is telling us is that the entire path is a gift of God. The entire gift of salvation includes the desire and motivation to please God. I think this is a warning to those who would claim that they have eternal life and yet live on the disobedience leads to further disobedience leads to death path. You can't follow that path and expect to end up with eternal life. If God has given you the gift of eternal life by regenerating your spirit, he has also given you a new heart, a new spirit, his Holy Spirit and the motivation to live for him (Ezekiel 36:26-27). A Christian will spend less and less time on the death path because he knows it doesn't fit who he is in Christ.

See next post here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Memorization Monday - Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Christ died for us while we were sinners. Sometimes we think that we deserve the love of God. Somehow we were a worthy prize for God to gain by coming here to die. Actually, the reverse is the case. God, desiring to show love to unworthy people, paid the ultimate price. God's glory is demonstrated by his rescue of sinners. It is a glory we could not know in any other way.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hymn of the Week - He Will Hold Me Fast

He Will Hold Me Fast
Vv. 1-2 Ada Habershon (1861-1918)
Alt. Words (vv. 1-2) and Verse 3: Matt Merker

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.

I could never keep my hold,
Through life's fearful path
For my love is often cold,
He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

Those He saves are His delight,
Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in His holy sight,
He will hold me fast.

He'll not let my soul be lost;
His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost,
He will hold me fast.


For my life He bled and died,
Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied;
He will hold me fast.

Raised with Him to endless life;
He will hold me fast;
'til our faith is turned to sight
when He comes at last!


Monday, April 07, 2014

Memorization Monday - Ephesians 2:8,9

Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Importance of Unified Praying with Others

I've been focusing on prayer a lot in recent weeks both in preparation for sharing thoughts in our church prayer meeting service and in personal preparation for a stronger prayer life. One of the things I've been impressed with in the New Testament is the emphasis on corporate prayer, prayer as a group. Along with that the Bible stresses the need to be of one accord or like-minded.

First consider this promise: “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19 While this verse deals primarily with the issue of discipline in the church, it shows both the importance of praying with others and the importance of agreement.

In Acts 2:42 we're told that the followers of Jesus “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” There was a steadfastness, a consistency, a sticking to it pattern regarding prayer in the local assembly. We have a similar passage in Acts 1:14, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” In this passage we see both the idea of continuing and the idea of being of one accord, one mind. They were in agreement as to what they were praying for.

On another occasion, after having been released from arrest, Peter and John returned to their fellow Christians and reported all that had taken place. In response the people “raised their voice to God with one accord and said: 'Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them....'” The prayer continues with praise of who God is, a review of events that led to this moment and then a prayer for boldness. In response to their prayer the place was shaken with the power of the Holy Spirit and they went out and spoke with boldness. Their prayer had been answered. It's interesting to note that they spontaneously prayed and they prayed with one accord.

All through the New Testament Christians are exhorted to be of one mind and of one accord. Just think of the power that such unity would bring if it was displayed this way in each local church. God promised that if you pray in agreement, “it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

I think each one of us needs to ask ourselves a couple of questions. Do I believe in prayer? Do I demonstrate that by having a consistent personal prayer life? But we need to go further. Do I regularly and consistently meet with other Christians in my assembly and pray with them? And if I do, is our praying of one mind toward the furthering of God's will on earth as it is in heaven?