29 September 2009
27 September 2009
26 September 2009
The great quality I want in my associates is one of intensity. Romans 12:8 says that if your gift is leadership, "do it with zeal." Romans 12:11 says, "Never flag in zeal, boil in the spirit!" When the disciples remembered the way Jesus had behaved in relation to the temple of God they characterized it with words from the Old Testament like this, "Zeal for thy house has eaten me up" (John 2:17). The leader follows the advice of Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." When Jonathan Edwards was a young man he wrote a list of about seventy resolutions. The one that has inspired me the most goes like this: "To live with all my might while I live." Count Zinzendorf of the Moravians said, "I have one passion. It is He and He alone." Jesus warns us in Revelation 3:16 that he does not have any taste for people who are lukewarm: "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth." Spiritual leaders must go out alone somewhere and ponder what unutterable and stupendous things they know about God. If their life is one extended yawn they are simply blind. Leaders must give evidence that the things of the Spirit are intensely real. They cannot do that unless they are intense themselves.
Scripture Readings: Acts 20:1-16; 1 Corinthians 16:2: Revelation 1:10
Question 103. What is God's will for us in the fourth commandment?
Answer. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God's people to learn what God's Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor. Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through the Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.
For study and reflection:
How do we "turn off" our busy lives and allow the Lord's Day to be what God desires it to be for us?
25 September 2009
24 September 2009
23 September 2009
What a humbling way of expressing it - the anchor must be something out of ourselves. We can truly do nothing to soothe our souls on our own. Our surety must come from elsewhere.
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 6:18-20
21 September 2009
19 September 2009
18 September 2009
Q. 101. May we then swear religiously by the name of God?
A. Yes: either when the magistrates demand it of the subjects; or when necessity requires us thereby to confirm a fidelity and truth to the glory of God, and the safety of our neighbour: for such an oath is founded on God's word, and therefore was justly used by the saints,both in the Old and New Testament.
Q. 102. May we also swear by saints or any other creatures?
A. No; for a lawful oath is calling upon God, as the only one who knows the heart, that he will bear witness to the truth,and punish me if I swear falsely; which honour is due to no creature.
For discussion and study:
What circumstances require us to swear by the name of God?
Should we ever not swear by the name of God if asked to do so?
16 September 2009
15 September 2009
Jesus is the anchor. He has been at the bottom of the depths of wrath, and His strength was tried and found perfect. Nothing can keep your souls from being tossed but this only; for nothing else resists the storm of God’s wrath. Your duties are not the anchor: can they endure the fierce blast of Divine displeasure? Your feelings and frames are not the anchor: can they stand the sudden dash even of one wave from the world, far less from the Holy God? The Spirit’s work in you is not your anchor; it is the cargo, or the vessel stores, which the sure anchor preserves from damage. Some mourn and say, Ah, if I had sinned less I should have had less difficulty in finding peace. Now, are you not forging an anchor out of your supposed goodness? If you could put so many acts of holiness in the place of those many sins, you would straightway form an anchor out of these. Others say, Oh, if I could only see that I had faith, I should then be at rest. Now you are just trying to make your cable your anchor; for faith is the cable that connects the anchor with the soul. Instead of distressing yourself about your own faith, be occupied with observing the soundness and steadfastness of the anchor, and your soul will be no longer tossed.
The anchor must be something out of ourselves: not our duties, nor our saintship, nor our walk with God, nor our evidences of the Spirit’s work within us, nor our strength of love — not any, nor all of these together! The anchor of a ship is something that lies without, and by being without secures it. That which quiets and assures the uneasy conscience and troubled soul of a sinner, is what he hears in the glad tidings. It is something said or shown to him by God. It is something that tells him, not of the feelings of his own heart, but of the heart of God. It is something that shows him the face of God, that he may read there, “God is love.” The work of Jesus, or rather Jesus Himself, in this way becomes the sure “anchor of the soul.”
How sweet it is that our anchor is not of ourselves and does not rely on our performance.
14 September 2009
12 September 2009
Q. 99. What is required in the third commandment?
A. That we, not only by cursing or perjury, but also by rash swearing, must not profane or abuse the name of God;nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; and, briefly,that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; so that he may be rightly confessed and worshipped by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.
Q. 100. Is then the profaning of God's name, by swearing and cursing,so heinous a sin,that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavour, as much as in them lies,to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?A.It undoubtedly is, for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God,than the profaning of his name;and therefore he has commanded this sin to be punished with death.
For discussion and reflection:
Why is it so difficult for us to control our speech?
Have you considered lately that by keeping quiet that you could also be in sin?
11 September 2009
10 September 2009
08 September 2009
Hear then, “O thou afflicted, and tossed with tempest!” Behold it is written concerning the Lord Jesus, “Thy wrath lieth hard upon Me, and Thou hast afflicted Me with all Thy waves” (Ps. 88:7). This is the voice of one who has been cast like Jonah into the waves; and now he is in the lowest deep. The floods compass him about, and the billows pass over him! Is this a shipwrecked sinner? No — it is Jesus allowing the tempest to dash the billows of wrath against His own person. And to this He submits in order that He may show to all, that sin deserves nothing less than such a storm of the Almighty’s burning wrath. To this He submits, in order that it may be seen how the Holy One abhors to the uttermost every sin of every form — deed, word, or thought. But glad tidings now! Jesus who sank into the depths of this sea, and was buried under its mountain load, reaches the shore, and stands there declaring that “whosoever believeth in Him shall not come into condemnation.” Whosoever will agree that this Savior be his surety, shall not need to plunge into these waves himself, but shall be treated by God as if his sins had been already punished in that fierce storm that spent its violence on Jesus. Is this not rest to your soul? It shows you how justly and holily God may turn His anger from you; how He expresses His utmost displeasure against your sins, and yet saves you! Is not this quieting to your anxious conscience? Is it not an anchor? (Horatius Bonar, The Anchor of the Soul, emphasis mine).
Where else can we find this comfort for our souls? Who else can remove the dread? Let's be thankful this day for our Sovereign Lord tyhat takes away our sin and leaves an Anchor for our souls.
05 September 2009
Scripture Readings: Exodus 20:22-26; Acts 17:29; John 4:22-24
Question 96. What is God's will for us in the second commandment?
Answer. That we should not represent or worship God in any other manner than God has commanded in the Word.
Question 97. May we not then make any image at all?
Answer. God cannot and may not be visible portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one's intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.
Question 98. May not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?
Answer. No. We should not try to be wiser than God. God wants us to be instructed by the living preaching of the Word not by idols that cannot even talk.
For discussion and study:
Can we make an image of God provided it is not used in the worship of God?
Can we have an image of Christ as he actually became a man and therefore had a visual appearance?
03 September 2009
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil. — Heb. 6:19
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still; then are they glad because they be quiet, so He bringeth them unto their desired haven. — Ps. 107:29-30
Roar on, ye waves, our souls defy
Your roaring to disturb our rest;
In vain t’impair the calm ye try —
The calm in a believer’s breast.
This world is a sea of perpetual storm; yet in it there are many souls who have found “peace and safety.” All these at one time heard the fearful howling of the tempest of wrath, and were tossed with its fury — but yet they have not suffered shipwreck — they have escaped it all. They hear the tempest still, and its ground-swell often heaves them in their safe anchorage; but their security is never shaken. These are sinners who have fled to the hope set before them, “which hope they have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” The world dislikes and despises these souls; for they were earnest in fleeing from the storm, and the careless world is sore galled by their unfeigned earnestness. They cast away all unnecessary lading, “counting it but dung that they might win Christ,” and having so done, they found Christ an anchor, “sure and steadfast.” But the world is not possessed of this, and therefore hates those who declare it to be their only security in the time of storm. And while the sinner who has betaken himself to this hope proclaims the safety of the anchorage he has found, they who will not flee to it decry his confidence as presumption, pride, vainglory! The world feels that if he be completely safe, then they are altogether wrong — if his hope be real, then they have no hope at all.
But come and examine the anchor, and the shore on which it is cast. There is a hope set before you — a hope of escape. The voice of God in the storm urges you to flee to this hope. It is spoken of fully in Hebrews 6:19-20. It is a hope which is an anchor of the soul. This anchor is itself sure and strong. It will not break nor let go its hold. The shore too on which it is cast is so solid and firm, that the anchor fixed therein will remain steadfast in spite of storm, and wind, and dashing wave. - Horatius Bonar, The Anchor of the Soul.
Feeling anxious today? Many of us are but we have no need to be. Christ is the Anchor of our souls and so we need not worry. Step out in faith today, Christain friend, and do what you need to do. Rejoice, pray and give thanks in everything for Christ is our Anchor.