Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Forgiveness, Restoration

"Sometimes we seem as bad at handling others’ failures as we are at overcoming our own. No doubt these two things are related. " - Sinclair Ferguson, "The Battle is Won through Forgiveness, Restoration."

How true this is for me!

I came across this article while browsing Alliancenet.org. I have been so incredibly blessed over the years by the teaching of so many of the Alliance Council members. Hope you enjoy it too..

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Comfort and Christ (Phil 2:1-11)

From "How People Change," pages 191-192:
1. "Comfort, you look beautiful to me right now, but when did you ever leave your place of prominence and glory to humble yourself for me?

2. Comfort, when did you ever enter my world to suffer on my behalf?

3. Comfort, when did you ever shed your blood so that I could be cleansed from my sin?

4. Comfort, when were you ever raised from the dead on my behalf? When did you ever promised to give me new life and power?

5. When did you ever promise to send the Holy Spirit to fill me with true comfort that would help me please God, even when my earthly comfort was threatened?

6. Comfort, when did you ever promise to intercede for me to my Father in heaven, so that I could be strong in trial?

7. Comfort, when did you ever promise to come again and redeem me from the things that capture me and make me their slave?

When I do this by faith, I see Christ in His glory and my benefits in Him. I am able to repent of making comfort my god, and it gets put back in its proper place. Comfort is something to be enjoyed, but not worshipped."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Whitefield on 1 Cor 6:11

1 Cor. 6:11 "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God."

"Of Justification by Christ" http://www.reformedsermonarchives.com/Whit38.htm

Two of the greatest preachers to influence this country were George Whitefield and John Wesley. Their parallel ministries produced revivals throughout the Western world in the 1700's. The two wrote letters back and forth to one another over a number of years, each trying to convince the other of his views of predestination - one a Calvinist, the other an Arminian. Whitefield's responses seemed somewhat reminiscent of Luther's response to Erasmus, ref:"Bondage of the Will" but on a smaller scale. About seven years ago, I wrote a 10-page paper on the theological sparring on predestination between Whitefield to Wesley. It was for a British Literature class (can you imagine the reaction of my buddhist professor?)

Whitefield and Wesley split denominationally, as the two theological viewpoints were found to be mutually exclusive. Whitefield being the Presbyterian poster-boy and of course Wesley for the Methodists. Perhaps there are lessons to be gleaned for today from this great debate between the two great 18th century preachers? At the time their opposing doctrinal ideologies seemed to work together as a great example of iron sharpening iron. In addition, we are in a unique position to observe the outcomes of their teaching from generation to generation. Some food for thought.
"Known unto God are all his ways from the beginning of the world. The great day will discover why the Lord permits dear Mr. Wesley and me to be of a different way of thinking." - George Whitefield
Iain Murray's fascinating insight on the exchange between Whitefield and Wesley: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/wesley/murray.htm
Whitefield's letter to Wesley: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/wesley.htm

Thursday, May 17, 2007

He ran into his father's embrace (Luke 15:20)

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), known as the "prince of Scottish hymn-writers" and as pastor is quoted as saying:
"No gloomy uncertainty as to God's favor can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will. But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches. Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this. Free and warm reception into the divine favor is the strongest of all motives in leading a man to seek conformity to Him who has thus freely forgiven him all trespasses.
A cold admission into the paternal house by the father might have repelled the prodigal and sent him back to his lusts; but the fervant kiss, the dear embrace, the best robe, the ring, the shoes, the fatted calf, the festal song -- all without one moment's suspense or delay, as well as without on upbraiding word, could not but awaken shame for the past and true-hearted resolution to walk worthy of such a father and of such a generous pardon."

"... Abominable idolatries come to be the abhorrence of him round whom the holy arms of renewed fatherhood have been so lovingly thrown... The gaieties of the flesh have lost their relish to one who has tasted the fruit of the tree of life."

from page 10.14, "How People Change Workbook"

God's Word:
Luke 15:20 "So he got up and went to his father.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

JEHOVAH NISSI - The LORD is my Banner

JEHOVAH NISSI - The LORD is my Banner

Introduction: Historically and even today a banner signifies that by which military troops or citizens of a country, tribe or group are identified or around which the troops or citizens rally. The banner is also often carried by people leading a band and behind which all of the musicians follow and fall in line. So, by recognizing and praying this name of God, we are saying we rally behind Jehovah. He is our banner, to whom we look and it is He whom we follow. I’ve taken a moment to study scriptural references to the LORD as our banner and I have found the Word to be amazing on this subject.

1. THE WAR: ENMITY WITH AMALEKITES

Exodus 17:14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."

15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 16 He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." emphasis added

The Amalekites represent three things that are always warring against the children of God: Sin, the world, and the devil. Ever since the fall, God said there will be enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). The battle with the Amalekites is a picture of this battle. We know that one day the memory of Amalek-sin, satan, and the world - will be completely blotted out, but until then, there is this war.

We also see that it is the LORD who will be at war against the Amalekites. Joshua led the army against the Amalekites while Moses, with help and encouragement from Aaron and Hur, lifted up his hands to the throne of the LORD.

2. CONVICTION IS GOD'S GRACIOUS GIFT

Deliverence begins with conviction. When Israel sinned against God in the wilderness, He sent serpents to drive them back to Him. And His provision provided healing and life:


Numbers 21:4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!"

6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. emphasis added

At its core, the Fall consisted of rebellion and insubordination to the claims and rights of the Creator over the creature. Adam and Eve opted for an independent and irreligious existence from God. After making themselves enemies of God, Adam and Eve were immediately stricken with guilt and shame associated with their sin. "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. " (Gen. 3:7) and "He (Adam) answered, "I heard you (God) in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

Similarly, Israel developed a serious pattern of rebelling and complaining against God and the servants of God while they wondered in the wilderness. So often I do the same today as a meander thru this pilgrimage. But God, in His mercy, usually does not strike us dead right on the spot (as we deserve) nor does He leave us dead in our trespasses forever. He sends a spirit of conviction so that we might repent. The people in Moses day prayed that the snakes would be taken away, instead the LORD provided a banner - the bronze snake on the pole. All who looked it were healed and lived. That is a picture of redemption, as we will see.

3. GOD’S REDEMPTIVE PLAN CONTINUES, CULMINATING IN CHRIST

The Redeemer's work is continuous and prophesied:

Isaiah 11: 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.

12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. emphasis added

Victory arrives in Christ - the seed of the woman

John 3: 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

The only thing more persistent than or continuous as our rebellion against God through the ages is His gracious provision, culminating in the Messiah. His redemption was foretold in Genesis 3:15, typified in Moses' bronze serpent, and prophesied throughout the old testament. The thoroughly obedient God-Man, who knew no sin, became our mediator and offered himself as a ransom for our continued disobedience. Praise Him for His faithfulness.

4. OUR TRUE HUSBAND: His banner is love

Let us not stop at justification. We've also been adopted as children of God and grafted into His body. Not only this. We have been bethrothed to our redeemer. He has made the unlovable lovely and has taken us unto Himself to be His own.

Song 2:1 I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.

He
2 As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among the young women.

She
3 As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste,

4 He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.

We lift our hands to His throne and say the LORD is our banner. We have absolutely nothing in our hands to commend ourselves exept His banner of love. Although we have no dowry, He has prepared for us a feast in His banqueting house, and His banner over us is love, forever love, unconditional love. Believe it.

Not in Kansas anymore

Two of my coworkers returned today from Greensburg, Kansas. Here are some of their pix. Click here for more>>




One of them observed of the town: "All that was visibly left standing was the courthouse and a telephone pole shaped like the cross."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Preparing for rain

Garden time is a little later this year than it has been in the past. After tilling and preparing the soil over the past few weeks, finally this week the planting has begun!
Seeds, seedlings, and nursery-prepared start ups have been assigned to their appropriate places in their assigned rows. In the next several days the rest of the seeds will germinate and new greens will pop through the soil.
Several weeks from now, growth will be well underway, along with a plethora of weeds.

Weeding is universally acknowledged as one of least desirable of all gardening activities. Oddly enough, harvesting too is an often neglected activity. Many gardeners find great enjoyment in preparation, planting, and watching God make the new plants grow up. And it would seem that picking that fresh, ripe fruit or veggie right off the vine would be hands down the most satisfying thing. Yet, how many tomatoes, peppers, or squash have rotted on the vine?

In a future time to come, we will say the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. But where, oh where, would any of us be without the tillers and planters? 80% chance of rain later. God bless the hard, dirty, and inglorious labor of our beautiful tillers and planters.
Time to scrub my hands and knees and go prepare for celebration of the Sabbath.

Colonial Dover Days

"OLD DOVER DAYS"
Pix from last week's parade and celebration held at our state capital in Dover.



Wednesday, May 2, 2007

the House Sitter

In his book entitled "Step by Step," James Petty offers a sort of allegory of a house sitter who volunteers to do landscaping for a couple who has left town without giving him explicit directions for what they want. On pages 165 and 166 he suggests three possible strategies:

1. Guess what the owners might want, by using clues they have left around the house and piecing together what you might hope was their plan. This strategy
requires you to "try to discover the will of God."

2. Wait for a call from the owners directly and thereby take all of the guesswork out of the project. Avoid doing the wrong work. For guidance, this strategy says, wait on the Lord for an unambiguous message. Don't try to figure it out!

3. Study who the owners are, their preferences and style, and develop a plan that reflects these things.

Then he asks: "Which is closest to the biblical model?"

Well, since I've pretty much exhausted #1 and #2, I'm going to go out on a limb and say #3 Alex.

He calls #3 the "Wisdom Model," which focuses on getting to know the landlord personally, his preferences, his books, his journal, all about the landlord. Then the work becomes a gift reflecting the depth of the relationship with the owner.

Very, very helpful - thanks again CCEF people!