30 April 2009

Psalm 46

There has never been a time in my life of more uncertainty and I believe many of you may agree with me. The economic crisis has affected everyone, no one is exempt. For me, I was laid off after 18 1/2 productive years with the company as my position was eliminated as a cost cutting measure. My wife's company has gone to a four day work week. I don't know anyone who has not been affected in some way. And now we have the unpleasant prospect of the swine flu, or as officials prefer to call it, H1 N1. The news media's coverage has not been beneficial in helping us understand what we are to look for or what we are to do should we think we have contracted the virus. These are just two issues that effect us all. We each have our crosses to bear as God deems necessary for us.

Therefore, how should we think on these things? How do we avoid despair? We remember and meditate on the truth. The truth found in Scripture. May I suggest Psalm 46 for its encouragement of comfort and hope. Concerning this psalm Matthew Henry tells us in his famous commentary, This psalm encourages to hope and trust in God; in his power and providence, and his gracious presence with his church in the worst of times. We may apply it to spiritual enemies, and the encouragement we have that, through Christ, we shall be conquerors over them. He is a Help, a present Help, a Help found, one whom we have found to be so; a Help at hand, one that is always near; we cannot desire a better, nor shall we ever find the like in any creature. Let those be troubled at the troubling of the waters, who build their confidence on a floating foundation; but let not those be alarmed who are led to the Rock, and there find firm footing. Here is joy to the church, even in sorrowful times. The river alludes to the graces and consolations of the Holy Spirit, which flow through every part of the church, and through God’s sacred ordinances, gladdening the heart of every believer. It is promised that the church shall not be moved. If God be in our hearts, by his word dwelling richly in us, we shall be established, we shall be helped; let us trust and not be afraid.

Psalm 46
To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Al Mohler has added his opinion to the 'net on his blog where he wrote, In the end, sickness points to sin and sin points to our need for Christ. Luther, Calvin, and all true ministers of Christ know that sickness and death point to our need for a Savior. Even as Christians seek to minister to the physical needs of the sick, the spiritual need is even more urgent. Each tiny germ shows us our need for the Gospel. Every cough is a reminder of coming judgment. Our confidence is placed only in the ministry of Christ our Physician, "who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases." [Psalm 103:3] Read the is exceptional post here.

29 April 2009

Flavel on Union with Christ

I often return to the works of John Flavel. He just had such a way of putting his thoughts on paper with such clarity that to me he had few rivals. Below is one such instance that I'd like to share on the Union with Christ found in the Method of Grace:

It is a most comfortable union; yea, the ground of all solid comfort, both in life and death. Whatever troubles. wants, or distresses befall such, in this is abundant relief and support: Christ is mine, and I am his: what may not the redeemed soul make of that? If I am Christ's, he will care for me, and indeed, in so doing, he does but care for his own. He is my head, and to him it belongs to care for the safety and welfare of his own members. Eph. 1:22-23. He is not only a head to his own by way of influence, but to all things else by way of dominion, for their good. How comfortably may we, under this cheering consideration, repose ourselves upon him at all times and in all difficulties.

25 April 2009

Lord's Day 17 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 17:

Scripture Readings: 1 Corinthians 15:1-28; John 5:19-29

Question 45. How does Christ's resurrection benefit us?

Answer. First, by his resurrection he has overcome death that he might make us share in the righteousness which he has obtained for us through his death. Second, we too are now raised by his power to a new life. Third, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection.

For study:
What is meant by the phrase, "the finished work of Christ"?

21 April 2009

The Gospel Coalition Network from The City

Looking for a Christian social networking site? One you could realistically use as a Christian? Check out Adrian Warnock's post about the Gospel Coalition Network from The City. You can connect as a participant or by becoming a member. Join a group and connect to others. I've hesitated joining My Space and Facebook but this I think may be the future for us as believers so I jumped in and joined. If you join, look for me and let's connect.

18 April 2009

Books, Books and More Books

Lots of book review and book recommendation blog post recently. Let me share a few I've come across that are worth a read:

Paul Helm, Michael Gorman, Michael Bird, Nathan Eshelman, Stephen Nichols, Mark Driscoll, Jeff Waddington, & John Piper.

Have a blessed Lord's Day tomorrow.


CHeck out my other blog: Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio.

Lord's Day 16 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 16:

Scripture Readings: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12; Romans 3:1-28; Mark 9:38-50

Question 40. Why did Christ have to suffer "death"?
Answer. Because the righteousness and truth of God are such that nothing else could pay for our sins except the death of the Son of God.

Question 41. Why was he "buried"?
Answer. His burial testifies that he really died.

Question 42. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?
Answer. Our death does not pay the debt of our sins. Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.

Question 43. What further advantage do we receive from Christ's sacrifice and death on the
Answer. Through Christ's death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule in us, but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to him.

Question 44. Why does the creed add, "He descended to hell"?
Answer. To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation that Christ my Lord, by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul, especially on the cross but also earlier, has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.

For discussion:
Is there a connection between the first Adam and the second Adam anywhere in these questions? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
Did Christ literally enter into hell or is this purely figurative?


Check out my new blog, Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio

17 April 2009

Praying through the Psalms

Is your Bible study and prayer time getting boring? Has it always been boring? Think its just you? Its not. Everyone experiences dryness in there private prayer time. I've been re-listening to some very helpful mp3's courtesy of Omaha Bible Church. These good folks have posted five very helpful lectures by Don Whitney which will encourage you in your time with the Lord.
What I found most helpful was his instruction on praying through the Psalms. For example, pray your way through the Psalms by starting on the Psalm that matches the same day in the month. Today is the 17th so I would start with Psalm 17. Pray through the Psalm verse by verse, something there should apply to your heart and if a verse doesn't apply, move on to the next verse. If the whole Psalm doesn't work for you on a particular day, add thirty to the Psalm and check out that one. So, in this case, we would move on to Psalm 47, then 77, 107 and so on. As there are 150 Psalms you can move ahead five times. What about the 31st? Psalm 119 has an an abundance of verses that you likely won't get through in one sitting. Pick a section and pray through it. You can follow this method whether you have 10 minutes a day or two hours a day to spend in private prayer and study.
It has greatly helped me in my study/prayer time every day. It keeps your prayer life fresh and you'll eventually read and pray through all the Psalms. It's a win-win situation. You can find the Don Whitney mp3's here at the Omaha Bible Church website.

Checkout my new blog, Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio

12 April 2009

New Blog: Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio

Hey everyone, take look at my new blog, Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio. Of course, this blog will continue as is however, Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio will be focused on biblical studies concerning prayer, meditation and trials as the title suggests. Let me know what you think and subscribe to the feed.

11 April 2009

What Are You Reading?

What are you reading this Easter weekend? I tend to get into reading too deep and read several books at once depending on the situation. For example, I'm continuing my study of Evangelicalism with The Advent of Evangelicalism: Exploring Historical Continuitieswhich is a top notch read on the subject and I have several books to follow up. Such as, Noll's, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys (History of Evangelicalism)and in conjunction with these I'm taking in Noll's, Christians in the American Revolution. On a more practical side I've just dug into Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implicationsby D.A. Carson. Really looking forward to this one as I've had a few introductory conversations on this and I truly need to know more. What else? We just recceived a shipment of books this week including Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Beand Zinssner's, On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfictionwhich I'm also looking forward to. Not to mention a few Dummines books; Excel 2007 for Dummies, Vista for Dummies and LinkedIn for Dummies.

What are you reading?

10 April 2009

Lord's Day 15 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 15:

Scripture Readings: John 17; 10:1-30

Question 37. What do you understand by the word "suffered"?
Answer. That during his whole life on earth, and especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race. This he did in order that, by his suffering as the only atoning sacrifice, he might redeem us, body and soul, from eternal condemnation, and gain for us God's grace, righteousness, and eternal life.

Question 38. Why did he suffer "under Pontius Pilate" as judge?
Answer. So that he, though innocent, might be condemned by an earthly judge, and so set us free from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.

Question 39. Is there something more in his having been crucified than if he had died some other death?
Answer. Yes, for by this I am assured that he took upon himself the curse which lay upon me, because the death of the cross was cursed by God.

For discussion:
Why was Christ's suffering so important?
What is the connection between Deut. 21:23 and question #39?

08 April 2009

Ian Hamilton on Guidance

We all pray for the Lord's guidance, don't we? Should we? Ian Hamilton shares his thoughts on God's Guidance in this article at the Banner of Truth. Its certainly worth a read. Hamilton reminds us, In Matthew 6:25ff, Jesus gently rebuked his disciples for worrying about the future. They were worrying about where the next meal would come from, and how they would be able to clothe themselves. Jesus' antidote, to their only too human concerns, was to remind them of the caring, loving heavenly Father who knew perfectly and intimately all their needs: 'your heavenly Father knows'. He called them to have a renewed trust in the sovereign goodness and gracious omniscience of their Father in heaven. Having directed them to the perfect Father, Jesus then spoke these words to his 'little faith' (v. 30) disciples: 'But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well'. He then goes on to write, The key to guidance lies in the child of God believing that his Father is perfectly good and desires and pursues only his best...Listen again to your Saviour, 'Your heavenly Father knows . . . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness . . .' Your heavenly Father is the sovereign King of the cosmos. He bends the universe to do his holy will. Your responsibility and mine is to 'do the next thing' i.e. the next thing that is pleasing to the Lord. He is well able to overrule our follies and stupidities. I have often thought that Augustine had it right when he said, 'Love God and do what you like.' Do you think this is a recipe for sheer hedonism? Far from it. To love God is to keep his commandments, to live to make his pleasure and praise the chief business of your life. The Christian who truly loves the Lord will only ever want to please him — pleasing HIM is what the child of God loves above all to do.

"He is well able to overrule our follies and stupidities."? Whew, I sure need that, all kidding aside, I need that and I'm sure some of you do, too. Let's give thanks to our Father who guides and directs regardless of what we do & "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness."

04 April 2009

Lord's Day 14 Heidelberg Catechism

Lord's Day 14:

Scripture Readings: Psalm 110; Matthew 1:1-25; Luke 1:26-55

Question 35. What does it mean that he "was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary"?
Answer. That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature so that he might become David's true descendant, like his brothers and sisters in every way except for sin.

Question 36. How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?
Answer. He is our Mediator and, in God's sight, he covers with his innocence and holiness the sinfulness in which I was conceived.

For discussion:
Why is the virgin birth so critical for our faith? Or is it?

01 April 2009

Are We Functional Modalists?

The Trinity is at the core of what we as Christians believe. It separates us from the Jews and Muslims though they may not agree as we do not all worship the same God. From the Westminster Shorter Catechism we read:

Question #6
Q: How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A: There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Hence we see that there are three persons in the Trinity and we know as Christians that each play a part in our salvation. But do we all understand the importance of this? I think that we are often guilty of modalism however unintentional it may be. Modalism can be defined as, ... a denial of the Trinity which states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes, or forms. Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son. After Jesus' ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and never simultaneous. In other words, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never all exist at the same time, only one after another. Modalism denies the distinctiveness of the three persons in the Trinity even though it retains the divinity of Christ. Though this may not be a conscience effort on our part we often focus on one of the three.

Let's go a bit further and read from the Westminster Confession of Faith,

CHAPTER 2, Of God, and of the Holy Trinity

1. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
2. God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.
3. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

If we agree that this is true, does our worship and daily walk comport with the above? When you last prayed, were all three persons of the Trinity included? When your Pastor prayed last Lord's Day were all three persons of the Trinity mentioned? How about at your Bible study group? Were all three mentioned in last week's sermon, at least indirectly? At the your last Bible study? I think many of us are guilty here, myself included, and should consider the high import of the Trinity in our corporate and private worship. Let this short post be a springboard for you to delve deeper into this subject and examine these issues.