7.30.2010

Going to Our Father

Sermon on God the Father and Creator

Communion meditation text: John 14:1-7

Part of the reason Jesus gave us a Table, bread and wine, to remember Him, is because He is restoring us to the Father, pointing us to the Father. He is the way to the Father. This is a family affair. We are the prodigal son, welcomed back after our rebellion, not as slaves but as sons, with a feast thrown to celebrate our restoration. We aren’t here celebrating how godly we all have been, or that we came to our senses and returned to God. We are celebrating that God accepts us in Christ’s death and resurrection. God your Creator has a room for you in His house, He has a chair for you at His table, and a plate loaded with food.

God the Father is your destination, the purpose for the Passion of Christ. Jesus wants you restored to the Father, and united with Himself. This table is a picture of that desire, of the divine intent and decree that you have all the joy you can handle in the immediate presence of God. This table is just the hors d’euvres to that coming feast.

6/20/10

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Honor your Father

Malachi 1:6: “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts."

Today is Father’s Day, and we see our God doing what we would find repulsive in any human father: insisting on his own glory and honor as a father. But God is not like us. Because of who He is, He is right to insist that we reverence Him. Have you spoken or sung words of thanks and praise to Him from your heart today? Have you, or will you, honor your earthly father, as well? God doesn’t need it, of course; but earthly fathers often do. Dad may seem like an immovable rock, but even he can become discouraged, and need a shot in the arm. But regardless if he needs honor, we need to give it. So practice showing thankfulness today. Hold in awe the God we worship today. Honor your father.

6/20/10

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Isaiah 54-58

54 - the barren woman will have many children, for God is her husband. God's covenant of peace is as sure with Israel as His promise to Noah never to flood the earth again, because Israel's righteousness is from God.

55 -
God invites you to eat and drink of His free food, instead of costly and malnourishing sin. He will forgive. His Word will bring fruit and joy to the earth.
56 - God will save Gentiles and eunuchs, too, but Israel's leaders are careless and immoral.
57 - Israel has worked hard and long at her idolatry. God lives with the contrite He has struck Israel, but she does not repent.

58 - Israel asks why God doesn't honor her fast: it's because she greedily oppresses the poor while fasting. If they will honor God by keeping His Sabbath He will bless them

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Isaiah 49-53

49 - God's servant will gather Israel together & be a light to Gentiles
50 - Israel has sinned, but God's servant is faithful
51 - God will comfort Israel; His wrath vs Israel will now be vs nations
52 - God will redeem Israel, for He reigns; His servant will deal wisely
53 - God's servant will be despised, but will bear our sin&sorrow for us

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7.29.2010

2 Kings 18-19

18 - Assyria beseiges and takes Northern Israel, takes money from Hezekiah in Judah, then boasts that they will conquer Judah, too.

19 -
Hezekiah prays for God to deliver; He promises to, through Isaiah; He does it by plague.

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7.28.2010

Famine of the Word

Amos 8:11-12: "“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, But shall not find it."

There is a famine in the land today of hungering for the Word of God. We are chock full of having the Word, but hungering for it is another matter. We hunger for food, think about our physical desires a great deal. How is your appetite for the Word? The Lord’s Table is a good place to consider this, as the Lord feeds you. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus says, for they shall be filled. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it, God promises. But an open mouth is an act of faith, and faith is a gift of God. When you open your mouth and put the bread inside, in just a moment, do so in faith. Open not just your mouth, but your mind and heart. The same is true of the Bible. Open it and receive what God has for you in it. If you hunger for God, then open up your mouth and your Bible. Both are acts of faith. Let us pray like the disciples for God to increase our faith, that He may lead us deeper into sweet Communion with Him in His Word and at His table with His people. We want this, because we want to walk in His ways and please Him. We hide His word in our heart that we might not sin against Him. Turn to Him now.

6/13/10

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Killed and cut apart by the Word

Hebrews 4:12-13: "the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

The Word of God pierces into our innermost motives, exposing our sin. The Word is a sword, an instrument of death, and we must die for our sin. In union with Christ, we do die, cut apart with Him on the altar. Let the Word do its work, killing the sin in you.

6/13/10

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Isa 44-48

44 - God redeems Israel - only He. Idols are false.
45 - God appoints Cyrus to subdue the nations. Only God will save.
46 - The idols can't do a thing, but God will accomplish all His purpose.
47 - Babylon, given to pleasure and trusting in wicked enchantments, will be exiled in shame, though she assumes it could never be.
48 - God will reveal a new thing, so Israel can't credit their idols: He will redeem Israel from Babylon

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7.27.2010

Afraid? Of what?

Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods,
but also by setting up false devils;
by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law,
when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice."
G. K. Chesterton

Isaiah 40-43

40 - Jerusalem will be comforted - forgiven of her sin. God will come in glory and shepherd His flock. He is like no other, giving strength to the weary.

41 - God brings one from the north and east to trample the nations, but Israel is His special treasure. The idols of the nations are as nothing.

42 - God's gentle servant will be light and justice for Gentiles. God saves those who trust Him; He turns away those who trust in idols. But now Israel is plundered for her sin.

43 -
God will redeem Israel - only He is their savior - though they have wearied Him with their sins.

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Sin defeated; sinner purified & redeemed in joy

Sermon text - 2 Samuel 24

Araunah’s threshing floor looked ahead to the place of atonement in the temple. The temple altar looked ahead to the cross of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Table here looks back to the cross of Jesus Christ. Only the cross stays the hand of the angel of death for your sin. Not eating here, not your good works, not even being repentant for your sin stays His judgment. Only the death of Jesus on the cross pays it all. But the picture God has given to remind us of the cross is this table. Here we proclaim the Lord’s death. Every subtle sin rooted out, exposed, judged, condemned, and defeated. Enmity with God removed and favor restored. God delights to do this. He redeems you to himself with laughter, joy, bread and wine.

6/6/10

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Isaiah 37-39

37 - Hezekiah goes to Isaiah for help from Assyria. Isaiah gives God's promise that they won't harm him. Plague takes 185,000 of them, and they retreat.

38 - Hezekiah gets sick; Isaiah prophesies his death; Hez. prays; God listens and gives him 15 more years, moving the shadow on his sundial backward 10 steps as a sign.

39 - Envoys come from Babylon, and Hezekiah shows them Judah's wealth. Isaiah responds that all that wealth, and Hezekiah's own sons will go to Babylon in exile as eunuchs.

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7.25.2010

ISA 35-36

35 - The desert will bloom; the exiled shall return with joy, healed
36 - Assyria besieges and threatens Jerusalem, questioning Yahweh

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7.24.2010

ISA 31-34

31 - Don't turn to Egypt or Assyria for help, but to Yahweh.
32 - When the king comes, right will win the day, and no longer be called wrong.
33 - Israel's women better mourn since all their niceties will be
taken away, until the Spirit comes and waters dry land again. God will
be your stability in chaotic times. He will take away the foreign
troublers, and save.

34 - God's sword will be filled with Edom's blood, to pay them back
for Zion's downfall.

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7.22.2010

The Shepherd-King

Sermon text: 2 Samuel 23:1-7

Communion reading: Psalm 23

Jesus is our good shepherd. His Spirit brings us to Him, for He is living water, turned to the wine of joy. He is grain of the field, turned to bread. We need not fear even the valley of death’s shadow, for Jesus has gone before us and removed its sting. His rod and staff drive away other enemies without and within. Jesus sets this Table, feeds you, fills your cup, even when you have fears and failings and weaknesses inside you and thorns yet to pull around you. His goodness and mercy in this are deep, and it follows with us all our days. Each day brings us closer to Him.

5/30/10

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Pentecost Confession

On Pentecost, the Spirit came down and equipped the apostles to proclaim Christ with clarity and conviction. This brought about conviction of sin, as those assembled said, what must we do? This is always part of repentance. You realize what you did wrong, you tell God you were wrong, you tell those you wronged that you were wrong. Too often, repentance stops there, in our minds and tongues. But then you consider what you must DO, going forward. Did you give back what you borrowed and never returned? Have you considered how you will avoid falling into this sin again? The Spirit leads us to consider what we must do. He leads us to repent. He leads us to Christ, to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. He gives us faith in this promise, for us and for our children. Receive His Word and Spirit now, as we confess our sins.

5/30/10

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Isaiah 28-30

28 - Israel's drunk prophets and priests stumble in judgment, not even knowing their ABCs (see Heb 5:12). God is laying a cornerstone in Zion. Israel will be plowed for now, but then comes the planting after that.

29 - Israel will be besieged and brought low, but so will her enemies. Israel is blind and deaf to God's words, only drawing near Him outwardly. But God will make them fruitful again, to worship Him.

30 - Israel goes to Egypt for help, against and without God's counsel. They stubbornly refuse to hear God's Word. When they repent, God will restore them and turn back Assyria.

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7.21.2010

Hosea 8-14

7-10 Judgement for Israel's sin
11-how can I punish you, Israel? Yet you sin, while Judah walks with God
12 Jacob wrestled with God, went into exile, and God brought him back
13 Israel will die but where is it's sting? But I won't redeem Israel from death
14 return to God. Israel will return and flourish

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7.20.2010

Hosea 1-6

1 - Hosea told to marry a whore, to show Israel that she is a whore. His kids' names reveal that god will not have mercy on her (though He will on Israel), and that He is putting her away as His wife.

2 - I will take away her stuff that she thinks her lovers gave her, when it was Me. Then I will woo her back and remarry her in righteousness.

3 - Hosea takes Gomer back, to show this. What humiliation of the husband, of God Himself in this! Yet He does this because He is intent on fellowship with and marriage to us, His people.

4 - God accuses Israel of her sins, especially her priests for chasing women and wine.
5 - God withdraws from Israel for her harlotry
6 - let us return to God- He will revive us. Israel's loyalty is fleeting as the dew and God has mown her by the prophets.

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Strength, through grace

2 Tim 2:1-4: "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier."

We are prone to take God’s grace as an excuse to be lazy and weak, not strong. We have not trained new officers where we could, who can teach others. We do not endure hardship well, but turn in on ourselves in pity and self-absorption, or we lash out at our fellow soldiers in anger, instead of staying focused on defeating the enemy on the field. We get entangled in the affairs of this life.

5/16/10

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Protection by a poured-out life

2 Samuel 21:15-22; 23:8-39

Shammah guarded the field of lentils, the food for Israel(23:11). Jesus has given Himself as food for us. Satan cannot take this away. We are defended and fed by a strong warrior who has plundered the strong man’s house, recovering us, who were kidnapped and in bondage to sin.

Jesus did this by pouring Himself out for us. David poured out the water his men brought him from Bethlehem (23:16-17). It symbolized their blood, their lives expended for the kingdom of Israel. David honored this. And we are here to honor and proclaim our Lord’s death until He comes again. This is worship. This unites us in one heart, raised to our Lord Jesus in heaven, the Lamb seated on His father’s throne. We are one bread, one body, getting ready for the marriage feast of the Lamb by gaining strength from His Word, Spirit, water, bread and wine.

5/16/10

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7.19.2010

2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

29 - Hezekiah king 29 years. Reforms worship deeply.
Reopens and cleanses the temple and restores its worship.
30 - Keeps Passover for first time in a long while. Though not all abide by the cleanliness rules, God honors their intent.
31 - Priests organized; tithe brought in.
48 - God establishes Mt Zion; she is glad!

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Isaiah 23-27

23 - Tyre's ships will be destroyed and all her customers will lament. She will be restored after 70 years but her goods will then serve those who worship Yahweh.
24 - God will bring low ALL the nations to ruin.
25 - God is a shelter for the poor against the mighty. He will replace death with a feast on His mountain, trampling Moab.
26 - great nations have ruled Israel; they will pass away and not return. But God will raise up His people again.
27 - God will plant Israel again, returning from exile. As they put away their idolatry, He will forgive them.

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A Reliable Word

This was a helpful summary of the New Testament's reliability. It is historically consistent with outside documents (Josephus tells the same story we find in Acts 12:20-23, for instance). Even where other writings are hostile or indifferent to Christianity, they do not refute the NT's claims. Bruce examines why some books weren't included in Scripture and others were disputed. He considers the Gospel differences helpfully, and Paul and Luke's Acts, also. He shows there are far more NT texts closer to the original writing than we have for most other major works (Caesar, Socrates, etc.), the historicity of which we do not question.

All this in 120 pages! Highly recommended, especially for seminary students and any Christian who is struggling with doubts about the faith once delivered to the saints.

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Honor your Mother, and Mother Kirk

One way we show honor is through our table manners, both here and at home. Mom honors the family by setting a table with food. She has taken her husband’s provision and transformed it into tasty nourishment. Honor her for that. Do not complain about the food at home. Now our Father also provides earthly means of nourishment in His grace. She is called the church, our mother. She passes on the Father’s instruction, provision, discipline, and grace, which come from Him. So here at church, do not pine for something more sensational in the service. Trust your mother to nourish you in her way. And all that can be summed up in one little word, that topples giants: Jesus. Jesus has set before us His own life, laying it down for us to take up and eat. Honor Him for this. He has lifted the curse against us. So let His works praise Him in the gates. Give Him His reward – seek His glory for what he has done.

5/10/10

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Mothers are blessed

Well today is Mother’s Day and Thursday is Ascension Day, and our sermon text is about David avenging the Gibeonites. How is that all going to work out, you ask? Let’s start with the first two. Mothers, you are loved. Your constant labor is driven by your love for your God, your husband and your children. Whatever you do, and you have a lot to do, do it unto the Lord. Your work is consecrated to Him. In Old Testament language, your work is a whole burnt sacrifice, or an ascension offering. All of it goes up to the Lord, and is a sweet smell in His nose. Jesus Christ sat and talked with Mary at His feet, and helped Martha keep perspective when she was overwhelmed with all the work. Jesus offered up Himself, so that He can intercede for you. And He is doing that right now, at the Father’s side, asking for you to have strength, joy, respect, wise instruction, grace, and confidence in the Lord. Happy Mother’s Day, and may the Lord bless you. Children, honor your mother today and every day. This goes for everyone with a mother. If your mom is not in this life anymore, then thank God for what you can in her, and tell your family or friends about her, too.

5/9/10

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Isaiah 18-22

18 - The harvest of Cush will vanish; they will bring tribute to Yahweh
19 - Egypt will have infighting; economy on the Nile will dry up
19 - Egypt will turn to Yahweh, and fear Israel, and Assyria will go, too
20 - God: Isaiah naked 3 years: Egypt to be exiled thus by Assyria
21 - Babylon and Arabia will both fall

22 - Jerusalem will be sacked by Elam; efforts to defend, deny or escape it will fail. Leadership will change - the key of David will go to Eliakim.

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7.16.2010

Isaiah 13-17

13 - the Medes will swallow up Babylon, not sparing women or children
14 - Babylon's pride will be brought low, from proud heights she sought
15 - Assyria and Philistia will also be broken; Moab undone
16 - In 3 years Moab will be a waste, with no harvest of joy
17 - Damascus (Syria) will be ruins, for they forgot God

This is what's coming to all the nations that plunder Israel now.

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7.15.2010

2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17

28 - Ahaz ling 16 years. Sacrifices children to Molech. Israel and Syria conquer them. Ahaz sacrifices to the gods of the nations that conquer him. He closes the temple.

16-17 Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel nine years. Assyria conquers for good, because of their sin. Judah remains, though are sinning like Israel. After exile, God forces Israel to teach Gentiles His ways, though they don't believe and the Gentiles don't stop worshiping their own gods - syncretism. What a mess. These were the Samaritans of Jesus' day.

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7.14.2010

Micah

1 - Israel's wound is incurable; God will send conquerors
2 - They oppress and steal, and say not to preach about it - they'd rather hear about wine and beer

3 - leaders eat up people; prophets follow the money instead of the Spirit

4 - God will gather Israel to hear and follow the Word, each under his own vine. But first they will go to Babylon.

5 - when the siege comes, your ruler will come later, and from little Bethlehem. He will feed us; idolatry and warfare will be over.

6 - God's indictment: I redeemed you! God's requirement: justice, mercy, and humility. Not sacrifice as a substitute for these. God will not ignore the stolen goods in rich houses anymore, but will take it away by force.

7 - Israel is evil; she will fall, but then rise again, forgiven.

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A Real Feeding

The Lord’s Supper has stumbled, or offended, many people since its inception. The Romans accused Christians of cannibalism, not knowing what was going on. Roman Catholics bow to the bread and wine, as if it were physically Jesus. On the other side, too many Protestants think there is no real connection between Jesus and the bread. It’s just what we do to remember. All the action is in our brains, and these tokens just help our brain and hearts along. But there is a true and real feeding going on here. It doesn’t depend on the flesh, on the bread and wine being just right, or the minister saying just the right words. It depends on the Spirit joining us to Christ, it depends on our faith in Him. Then Jesus feeds us in our union with Him.

5/2/10

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Sing Loud

Part of worship is lifting our voice to God. "My voice You will hear in the morning, Lord," says Psalm 5:3. "Make a joyful shout to the Lord," Psalm 100. When you sing, send more air through those lungs. When you say Amen at the end of the hymns, lift your voice and shout. Give Him your heart, your mind, your hands, and give Him all of your lungs and voice.

This does two things. First, it gives God more of you. Love Him with all your strength. Second, it gives strength to your brothers and sisters in Christ, as they are encouraged by our common vigor and tangible faith.

5/2/10

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7.13.2010

2 Chronicles 27; Isaiah 9-12

27 - Jotham, Uzziah's son is king for 16 years, doing right and receiving tribute from Ammon.
9 - the darkness will turn to light, for a son/king will be born to the people. But now they are stubborn in their sin, even when I punish them.

10 - I will use Assyria to punish, though they just mean to destroy for themselves, so I will waste them with disease. They will attack and destroy, but a remnant of Israel will return.

11 - a Branch will come from Jesse, who will have the Spirit of wisdom to judge righteously. Creation will be set right again; Israel returned to their land from Egypt and Assyria. All the earth will know Yahweh.

12 - then you will sing: Yahweh is my strength, song & salvation

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Son of Hamas

 
"As long as we continue to search for enemies anywhere but inside ourselves, there will always be a Middle East problem."

"Truth and forgiveness are the only solution for the Middle East."

This was a great book. It was energizing to read about the son of a Hamas founder being a double agent for Israel and then converting to Christianity. With an insider's view of Palestinian-Israeli politics, terrorism, and espionage, Yousef offers up sensational and first-hand accounts of interrogations and bombings, sorting out as he lives through it all what one's goal should be in this mess. Check it out.

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Lay it down and come to your king

Sermon text 2 Samuel 19 - David returning to Jerusalem after Absalom's death, pardoning Shimei, Ziba, Mephibosheth.

Christ has ascended to His Father, who has promised to put all of His Son’s enemies under His feet. As Jesus prepares to receive His kingdom, all men are drawn to Him. How do you come? Do you hold back from coming like Israel, because you have betrayed the king, and cannot bear to face Him? He calls you to come, eager to forgive. Do you come quickly, like Shimei, thinking that He has to forgive if you come more sincerely, emotionally, or thoughtfully than others? It is not a competition, and you cannot manipulate God. Lay down your striving and your sin, and proclaim Him your king. Do you come to the table arguing with your church family about who loves Jesus more, or about who has it right, or who loves him in the right way? Lay that down here, confess, and don’t pick it up again when you leave. Do you come like Barzillai, seeking a blessing for your children or your friends from the king? Do you come seeking Christ’s kingdom first, like Mephibosheth, letting goods and kindred go, this mortal life also?

Your king offers you a kind invitation. He cuts down those who refuse to come. But why refuse? You have before you life and death, curses and blessing. So choose life. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.

4/25/10

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How did you do, Sunday?

Too often we ask of our worship service, how was the sermon, how was the service, what did I get out of the service that I can use this week in my life?

We should remember that the point of our worship is not ourselves, but God. This worship service is an end in itself, more than it is a tool for our self-improvement. So when it is all over, let us ask not, How was the service, but, “How did we do?” How did we do in singing with all our might, confessing with humility, praying with fervent devotion, listening with an intent ear, receiving bread and wine with faith.

4/25/10

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Camelot found


Historians locate King Arthur's Round Table
Historians claim to have finally located the site of King Arthur’s Round Table – and believe it could have seated 1,000 people.

Click the link for the story

7.12.2010

Amos 6-9

6 - Woe to those at ease; God will lay households waste with death, raising up a fearsome nation to do it.
7 - God shows Amos visions of locusts and fire vs Israel; Amos pleads for mercy and gets it. But the plumbline is still vs Israel and the sword will come. A priest accuses him of treason and Amos prophesies vs him
8 - God is bringing to an end those who oppress and deceive. A famine of God's Word will make them fall

9 - God will shake Israel like a seive. He will restore the fallen tent and prosper them again.

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Isaiah 5-8

5 - God has a vineyard, Israel, and He looks for fruit in her but finds none. Instead of righteousness there corruption and oppression.
6 - Isaiah sees God in His majesty, is undone, purified, and sent to tell Israel they are to be cut down, though a remnant will remain.

7 - Israel allies with Syria vs Judah, scaring Ahaz, Judah's king. Isaiah gives him God's assurance that they will not succeed. Before thechild conceived today knows right from wrong, Assyria will wipe out Syria and Israel.

8 - the child was Isaiah's! Maher-shalal-hashbaz. Assyria will come, but God is with Judah - Immanuel. Fear God, not Assyria. Men tend to hold God in contempt, angry in the dark, but go to the law for light.

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7.09.2010

Isaiah 1-4

1 - Israel has sinned; God has punished; repent! God will restore
2 - God will be exalted among the nations again; He is against sin
3 - Judah will be reduced: no leaders, and women stripped bare
4 - God's Branch will be glorified; Judah will be prospered & protected

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A Mother Repaid

Isaiah 1:1-4: "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.” Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward."

Some of us as mothers have thought or spoken to our errant children in our exasperation, “I endured 9 hours of labor to bring you into this world, and this is how you repay me?” Well, God’s relationship to you is much closer even than that. The betrayal is deeper, when we violate our Creator’s design for us, revealed in His Word.

4/18/10

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7.08.2010

2 Kings 15; 2 Chron 26

Amaziah's son Azariah/Uzziah is king in Judah 52 years. He fights successfully against Philistia, Arabia and Ammon. He presumes to offer incense in the temple and becomes a leper, and his son Jotham rules for him.

Jeroboam's son Zechariah (Jehu's 4th generation) is king in Israel 6 months, and assassinated by Shallum. He is king 1 month; killed by Menahem, who reigns 10 years. He sends tribute to Assyria. His son Pekahiah is king 2 years. He, his father and his son all worship idols. Son Pekah is king 20 years. Assyria conquers northern Israel. Hoshea kills Pekah.

Jotham king in Judah 16 years. Syria and Israel attack.

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7.07.2010

Jonah

1 - God tells Jonah to preach to Nineveh, but he runs away. A storm comes; the sailors throw Jonah in, and a fish swallows him for 3 days.
2 - Jonah repents and believes
3 - God tells Jonah to preach to Nineveh; he does; Nineveh repents; God has mercy
4 - Jonah gets mad; he didn't go the first time because he didn't WANT God to have mercy! He stalks off and waits for God to destroy Nineveh. God gives him a plant for shade, but then takes it away. Jonah gets mad. God points out that if Jonah can care about a plant, God can care about 120,000 people in Nineveh.

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Rip the veil down

I'm listening to AW Tozer's "Pursuit of God," not ever having read anything by him before. Chapter 3 was really good. In seeking communion with God, the veil of Self is in the way. It is not an easy thing to move aside, or rip down, the veil. It takes a cross to do that. We have to renounce our Self if we are to meet with God. Only God can bring this about; it is our part to yield and surrender. This will hurt, and can be a long process. Listening to this made me think of dragon Eustace's scales coming off under Aslan's claws.

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Suspicious of unity; desiring division

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you” (1 Cor. 1:10-11).

Doug Wilson comments

"One of the central problems at Corinth was their fractiousness, and so Paul begins his letter to them by pleading with them, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they drop their contentions. Some from the household of Chloe had told Paul about those contentions, and he saw immediately how destructive they would be (v. 11). He beseeches them, and what he says is quite striking. He asks them to speak the same thing, to avoid divisions in their midst, to be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and to be perfectly joined together in the same judgment (v. 10).

"This exhortation is greatly needed in the American church together, not because we invented fractiousness, but because we have sought to make it into a virtue. On the flip side, we have tried to represent obedience to this as a vice. What would we say about a congregation that actually obeyed the apostle’s exhortations here. The first thing that would come to mind is that they “had all drunk the Kool-Aid.” We would charge the elder board with being a bunch of patsies and yes men."

Prudent fear and faith

Our text today (2 Samuel 17) taught us to trust God’s providence and wisdom, to act prudently, not out of pride, hatred or fear. We must do this at the Lord’s table. God has set things up this way, and we must believe that we live not just by bread but by God’s word – and that God feeds us at this Table, by uniting us with His own Son’s saving life. We must act with prudence here, not presuming on God’s grace, treating this Table in a cavalier and callous way. Make double sure of your salvation, by renewing covenant with your Lord, receiving His grace. Do not eat and drink out of fear that if you make a wrong move you will be struck down. As you humbly seek Him in faith in Christ, He is good to us. Do not eat here out of pride that you are worthy enough to partake, for you can be cut off, too, if you do not believe. Do not eat or drink here with hatred in your hearts for anyone Jesus loved and redeemed when He gave His life on the cross.

4/11/10

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We want what we want

James 4:1-2 - "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war."

Most of our sins come from selfish desires. We want something, and we sin to get it, we sin in trying to get it, we sin in wanting it knowing we’ll never have it. We don’t tame our desires, but let them run loose, and they go roughshod over others. We run away from God in our sin, and seek joy in other things. Let us reverse that now, drawing near to Him, lamenting our sin.

4/11/10

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2 Kings 14; 2 Chron 25

Amaziah son of Joash is king in Judah for 29 years. He defeats Edom, but takes and worships their gods. He fights with Israel and loses; assassinated. Jeroboam son of Joash is king in Israel for 41 years. He is evil, but restores Israel's borders.

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7.06.2010

Easter Communion - God's Yes

Does this ritual, this Lrod’s Supper really do anything for us? Sometimes we wonder. We also, in moments of dry doubt, wonder if all that Bible reading is really worth it. We wonder if Christ’s death on the cross really does anything for us. The answer lies in the apostles’ witness to the resurrection of Christ. The answer came from God when He raised Jesus on the third day. Yes, His death does something for you, God says, for I have accepted it in place of your sins. Yes, this meal does something for you, for it hearkens back to that death. Yes, you will live, even if you feel like a bunch of dry bones. God can raise you out of your deadness, your dry spell, your trial, and give you life. And he does it by giving us His body as a sacrifice, to turn aside God’s wrath, and then to feed us and give us eternal life.

4/4/10

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Easter Confession

Our denials of Jesus have been as blatant as Peter’s. We simply turn away from Him, and do what we want to do, ignoring His will for us. Let us not go from the joy of forgiveness on Palm Sunday, to the joy of resurrection this day, without seeing our sin in Peter’s. We must see Christ’s death between the triumphal entry and resurrection day. Our sin must die with Christ on the cross.

4/4/10

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2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chron 24

12 - Joash exerts pressure on the priests to repair the temple. Jehoiada dies; Joash leaves God for idols; Zechariah, Jehoiada's son prophesies against Joash, who has Zechariah killed. Syria attacks and Judah pays a steep bribe for peace. Joash is assassinated. (2 Chron 24)

13 - Jehoahaz, Jehu's son is king in Israel 17 years. He seeks God partially and Israel is partially saved from encroaching Syria. Jehoash, his son is king 16 years, worshiping idols and fighting Judah. Elisha gets sick; Jehoash visits him; Elisha prophesies limited victory over Syria; Elisha dies; his bones do one last miracle (total of 14, double Elijah's 7) raising a man to life.

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Forgive us our debts as we...

"Forgiveness is not a private matter but a corporate one. The body of Christ is a group of people who live daily in the context of forgiveness" - pg. 38.

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7.05.2010

Amos 1-5

1 - Amos, farmer from Tekoa, condemns Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab for rejoicing and participating in Israel's demise.
2 - Judah condemned for leaving the Law in lies. Israel for oppressing the poor. So they will be crushed militarily.
3 - God is going to punish Israel, intentionally and with purpose. The luxuries will be ripped apart.
4 - Go ahead and sin; but get ready to meet your Maker! I sent trials to warn you but you wouldn't listen.
5 - Return to God; repent of oppression. Let justice roll down like waters.

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2 Kings 9-11

9- Jehu is anointed king and quickly supported instead of the injured/sick Joram. He kills Joram king of Israel (condemning him for following Jezebel's idolatry), Ahaziah king of Judah (since he is there visiting Joram in friendship), and Jezebel herself.

10 - Jehu kills Ahab's 70 sons, the rest of his family, Ahaziah's relatives he happens to meet on the road, appealing all the time to God's judgment on Ahab's house for his sin. He kills all the Baal prophets, deceptively pledging loyalty and offering sacrifice to Baal first to trick them. Jehu is king 28 years, but after all this, he worships the golden calves at Dan and Bethel! Syria conquers parts of Israel, and Jehu's family will only reign for 4 generations, as a result.

11 - Ahaziah dies, his mother Athaliah kills the rest of his family (her own children and grandchildren?) and takes the throne, but 1-year old Joash is saved and hidden. Jehoiada anoints him king when he is 7, kills Athaliah and Baal priests, and tears down his temple.

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The Puritan Hope
By Iain Murray

Iain Murray does great work showing that the Puritans had a positive hope for the future, earthly spread of the Gospel prior to Christ’s return to consummate His Kingdom. The twin grounds of this hope are found in the subtitle of the book: “Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy.” Murray excels at historical recounting of the church, and he goes in depth into the revivals that swept England and Scotland in the 1600s. The character of these were a thirst for Scripture, deliberate, sober living and repentance, and attending closely to the Word preached publicly in corporate worship. Ministers found themselves overwhelmed with people seeking their counsel and confessions. Murray’s point is that God can bring revival at any time, and can easily do so in the future, as in the past.

His second point is that God promises to bring revival to the Jews, in Romans 11:25-26. Murray doesn’t do an in depth exegesis of this text, but again gives an historical accounting of how the Puritans read this verse: God will bring about a revival among the Jews, ethnic Israel, prior to the coming of Christ. While other streams of thought stress the depravity of man such that we should not expect things to get better but rather worse, Murray points to this promise as a touchstone for other promises that God’s Word will not return void and His Spirit will work in men powerfully, visibly, and on a wide scale to bring the nations to Christ.

This was a good and convincing work, most encouraging in how God can use preaching in revival. The weak point was lack of theological interpretation of prophecy, but that was beyond the scope of the book anyway.

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Books read in June

June - Principles of Biblical Interpretation – Berkhof – THEOLOGY

June - Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Montgomery - CHILDRENS

June - The Puritan Hope – Ian Murray - THEOLOGY

June - Spiritual Disciplines – Don Whitney – THEOLOGY

June – Big John’s Secret – Eleanore Jewett – HISTORY/FICTION/CHILDRENS

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Books read in April and May

April - History of the Ancient World – Bauer – HISTORY

May – Ribsy – Beverly Cleary - CHILDRENS

May - Character Forged from Conflict – Gary Preston - MINISTRY

May - Black Stallion – Farley – CHILDRENS

May - Feed My Lambs – Tim Gallant – THEOLOGY

May – Victory of Christ’s Kingdom – John Jefferson Davis – THEOLOGY

May - Victory in Jesus – Greg Bahnsen - THEOLOGY

May - Chasing VerMeer – Blue Balliett - CHILDRENS

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Books read in March

Ludwig Beethoven – Opal Wheeler - CHILDRENS
100 Cupboards – Nate Wilson – CHILDRENS
What do you do when you become depressed? – Jay Adams
What do you do when fear overcomes you? – Jay Adams - MINISTRY
What do you do when you know that you’re hooked? – J Adams
What do you do when you worry all the time? – Jay Adams
What do you do when anger gets the upper hand? – Jay Adams
What do you do when your marriage goes sour? – Jay Adams
Age of Opportunity – Paul David Tripp – PARENTING
A Sweet and Bitter Providence – John Piper – COMMENTARY
Ralph S. Mouse – Beverly Cleary – CHILDRENS
My Side of the Mountain – Jean Craighead George – CHILDRENS
Attack of the Turtle – Drew Carlson – CHILDRENS

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7.04.2010

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Spiritual Disciplines – Whitney

I listened to this book, getting a free download from www.christianaudio.com

Very much in line with Richard Foster's book, it is a review of individual piety in Bible reading, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. Whitney is careful to avoid obvious legalistic pitfalls, and gives good practical advice on each subject. But I found some of his subjects a stretch, especially getting Biblical support for journaling. He follows Foster closely, especially bookending the discussion with an affirmation of needed discipline. Several of the disciplines can be combined. The author suggests a daily early morning time of Bible reading, prayer, meditation, and journaling. Given our cultural norms, protests of legalism over this are hardly warranted in most cases. We would all do well with a little more discipline in our lives, as long as the goal is joyful godliness, not pride in our own efforts or expectations of favor with God because of them.

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Anne of Green Gables

I was sitting at the round table at church with some young people over a Sunday noon meal at church. A young lady made a reference to Anne Shirley, and I said, “Anne who?” Her jaw dropped. You’ve never read Anne of Green Gables?!” I confessed I hadn’t. It was on my bookshelf at home, though, and I put it on my mental “To Read list. I finally got around to it, and I’m glad I did.

Anne Shirley is an orphan who is brought to the Cuthbert home by mistake. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, elderly brother and sister, are looking for a young boy to help around the farm, but the orphanage sends Anne instead. She is almost sent back, but is so crestfallen at the prospect that they pity and keep her. Most of the book is taken up with Anne’s antics and escapades, from which she learns to grow up, and Marilla learns to parent. The parenting is the more important, it seems. The moral seems to be that for girls growing up there are certain things they must and will learn, and for adults there are some things to learn about parenting that they must, but don’t necessarily learn. The lessons are quite good, though. “Folks that has brought up children know that there’s no hard and fast method in the world that’ll suit every child. But them as never have think it’s all as plain and easy as Rule of Three – just set your three terms down so fashion, and the sum’ll work out correct. But flesh and blood don’t come under the head of arithmetic…” Add in some small town busybodies and romance, and it’s a cute little story. Some of the writing is a bit formulaic. Each chapter starts with a paragraph of rhetorical flourish describing nature, moves on to some action or event, and closes reflecting on that event. But all in all a good read for an 8 year old girl like mine.

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Lords and Ladies, Knights and Sultans


Big John’s Secret, by Eleanore Jewett

Crusaders and castles. Squires and knights. While previewing this book for our childrens’ upcoming school year, I was swept away with delight into the Medieval world of chivalry and feudalism. Jewett gets across the feel of the times well, from 12 year old John’s perspective. Brought up by an herb woman, he gradually learns the truth of his family. The favor or neglect of a lord made all the difference in those times, and John is noticed and taken on by a nobleman going on the Fifth Crusade with Lord Warren. Looking for his father all the way, he fights, is captured, learns of Muslim hospitality and customs, and finally joins up with St. Francis of Assisi, as he takes the Gospel directly to the Sultan himself. (The story is fictional, except for the Crusade, and St Francis with the Sultan.)

I appreciated how Jewett wove important life lessons into the story – virtues that knights and peasants alike, and all noblemen of character must learn. John needs patience throughout, knowing when to act and when to wait. Perseverance in your pursuits is paramount. The desire for vengeance must be put away just as diligently. Being a glamorous knight isn’t the only high calling in the world.

Besides these life lessons, it’s just a good story of a boy growing to be a man, finding his identity, his father, and his place of vocation in the world. I give this one a solid 4 stars.

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7.03.2010

2 Kings 5-8

5 - Naaman is cured of leprosy by Elijah; Gehazi is greedy and gets leprosy
6 - Elisha's miracles recounted: axe head floats, Syrian army plans revealed and foiled several times. Syria beseiges Israel and the king blames Elisha
7 - Lepers discover the Syrians have fled, and proclaim the good news. Israel is slow to believe.
8 - Shunamite woman's land restored to her, thanks to Gehazi; Elisha prophesies Syria's change of power; Jehoram king 8 yrs in Judah; Edom revolts; Ahaziah king 1 year; allies with Ahabic Israel.

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7.02.2010

Serving Self

Sermon on Ziba and Ahithophel serving selfishly - 2 Samuel 16

The essence of the table is service. Jesus washes His disciples’ feet in the upper room, and then celebrates a new Passover with them. Jesus cleans us, and feeds us, like parents for children in their family.

You can use such service selfishly, like Ziba and Ahithophel do. But we know that Jesus isn’t doing that here. His intent is our good, our growth, our returning glory to His Father.

3/21/10

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Complaining of Just Discipline

Numbers 16:41-44: "On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.” 42 Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of meeting. 44 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces."

George Grant has said that the uneducated person lacks the ability to prioritize. This is also true of sinners. We lose our perspective and priorities. The grandeur and immensity of God’s grace in our lives shrinks into the background, while our petty self-interests, squabbles and concerns loom large in our minds. Israel had just been saved from hundreds of Egyptian cavalry, through a parted sea. Now they are afraid God won’t provide for them when they get thirsty. He tests us to see if we will trust him and not complain in the lean times. He tests us to see if we will get selfish in troubled times.

3/21/10

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2 Kings 1-4

1 - Israel's king Ahaziah, son of Ahab is king 2 years. Injured, he inquires of Baal. Elijah denounces him to his servants. Ahaziah sends to arrest Elijah, but he calls down fire on that consumes the first 2 sets of 50 men. This keeps the 3rd captain from harming Elijah, and he denounces Ahaziah to his face.

2 - Elijah parts the Jordan, Elisha asks for a double portion of the Spirit Elijah had, chariots of fire take him up to heaven, Elisha parts the Jordan, cures a town's water, curses 42 boys who mock him.

3 - Jehoram, son of Ahab is king for 12 years. He attacks Moab with Judah when they rebel. Elisha calls on God to provide water for the army in the desert.

4 - Elisha provides oil (money) for a prophet's widow to keep her sons from slavery. A Shunemite woman hosts Elisha regularly, and God gives her a son. But he dies, and Elisha's servant Gehazi cannot revive him (Matt 17:16). Elisha does. Later, he heals poisoned food, and multiplies bread for his disciples.

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7.01.2010

Obadiah

Obadiah - Edom is cursed for delighting in Judah's downfall.

Not sure why the ESV chronological Bible reading plan I'm using put Obadiah at this point, since Judah hasn't fallen yet!!

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Propelled to purity

1 John 3:1-3: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

Our sure hope that we will be like Jesus purifies us. We say often at this Table that this bread and wine are a foretaste of the glory to come. We are hoping for this table fellowship in glory, full reconciliation with the Lord and with others, without our sin in the way. And we will get there. We will get there because we are pure already, in Christ. We are justified by God’s grace, by faith in Jesus. That present reality propels us to purity. But this verse says there is also a tug from the future. Knowing what we are going to be – like Jesus – we purify ourselves now. And here is Jesus, giving you reminders of His sacrificial death for the world, to straighten us out into His image. He is at work, doing this, and will finish the work He started in you. Give Him thanks. Count it all joy.

3/7/10

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On letting people be wrong, in loving fellowship

Last few sermons by Doug Wilson have been really good, on Romans 14 and living together as Christians with controversial issues.

Here is the sermon outline on the first one.

Here is the page with all the sermons.