30 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 12 - The Lord's Prayer pt. 3

We conclude our study of the Sermon on the Mount this week with an examination of the final petitions of the Lord's Prayer.

Today is St Andrew's Day in Scotland

November 30th is St Andrew's Day in Scotland. The patronage of the saint whose name means 'manly' also covers fishmongers, gout, singers, sore throats, spinsters, maidens, old maids and women wishing to become mothers. But just who was Saint Andrew and how did he become the patron saint of Scotland? Read all about it here.

28 November 2011

Arise O Lord, Save Me

Psalm 3 
  O LORD, how many are my foes!
        Many are rising against me;
    many are saying of my soul,
        there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
    But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
        my glory, and the lifter of my head.
    I cried aloud to the LORD,
        and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
    I lay down and slept;
        I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
    I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
        who have set themselves against me all around.
    Arise, O LORD!
        Save me, O my God!
    For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
        you break the teeth of the wicked.
    Salvation belongs to the LORD;
        your blessing be on your people! Selah
(Psalm 3 ESV)

Elder James Pavlic

27 November 2011

Family Time During the Holidays

All too often the holidays are painful times when they really should be times of grace and happiness. Sinfulness of rears its ugly head and those happy hours are spoiled. So, for a few helpful and Biblical tips on navigating the holidays with friends and family allow me to recommend Justin Taylor's post here and Russell Moore's post here.  Let's enjoy the holidays and keep the Gospel in the forefront of all we do and say.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10 ESV)

...with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
(Ephesians 4:2 ESV)

 ...and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 ESV)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, (1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV)

26 November 2011

The Psalms as a Mirror

 The Psalms are truly a reflection upon our souls. In times of deepest need and greatest happiness they can mirror the inward thoughts and feelings of us all as Calvin and Luther explicate below.

There is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. The Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are often agitated. The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us, but here the prophets themselves seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God and laying open all their innermost thoughts and affections call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particular in order that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject and of the many vices with which we abound may remain concealed. It is certainly a rare and singular advantage when all lurking places are discovered and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most painful infection, hypocrisy. In short, as calling
upon God is one of the principle means of securing our safety and as a better and more unerring
rule for guiding us as in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in the Psalms, it follows
that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them will
be the knowledge of his most important part of celestial doctrine. Genuine and earnest prayer
proceeds first from a sense of our need and next from faith in the promises of God. It is by
perusing these inspired compositions that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of
their maladies and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word,
whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God is taught us in this book.

- Taken from Calvin's preface to his commentary on the Psalms.

...Wouldest thou see the Holy Christian Church portrayed in living form and color, as it were in miniature? Open the Psalter. Thus thou shalt have before thee a fine, bright, spotless mirror, that will shew thee what kind of thing Christianity is. Yea, thou shalt therein find thine own self, and the right "know thyself"; God himself also and all his creatures. - From the preface of  Martin Luther's Commentary on the First Twenty-Two Psalms.

25 November 2011

God's Decree: The Others

    So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—
if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
    As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
    “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
        a cornerstone chosen and precious,
    and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
    So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
    “The stone that the builders rejected
        has become the cornerstone,” and
    “A stone of stumbling,
        and a rock of offense.”
    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
(1 Peter 2:1-8 ESV)

23 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 11 - The Lord's Prayer pt. 2

We study the 2nd and 3rd petition of The Lord's Prayer this week in our class on the Sermon on the Mount.

    Pray then like this:
    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.

    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

21 November 2011

Hard Hearts, Withered Hand

    Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
(Mark 3:1-6 ESV)

19 November 2011

God without Parts: The Doctrine of Divine Simplicity

More great stuff from the Christ the Center guys...

Cultural Transformation or Forgiveness of Sins?

Carl Trueman brings out some interesting and critical points in the debate over transforming culture or individual forgiveness of sins. He blogs

The gospel-centred world seems divided over whether the gospel is primarily about transforming culture or individual forgiveness for sins.  Of course, there is a spectrum of opinion on this matter and not everyone is at one end of it or the other.  Yet the passions generated by DeYoung and Gilbert highlight the problem and indicate that it cannot be ignored.  Indeed, it seems likely that the gospel-centred world is set to become more, not less, polarized on this issue.  After all, how one answers the question of the mission of the church reflects how one understands the gospel and shapes everything that the church does.

Like Trueman, I have yet to read DeYoung's and Gilbert's new book but it is now pushed to the top of the reading list. I look forward to reading their new work, What is the Mission of the Church? and gaining insight on this difficult issue. Where each of us stand on this issue has serious implications.

Read the entire post by Trueman here.

18 November 2011

God’s Decree: The Means

    But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 ESV)

17 November 2011

Leaders Need to Reiterate Their Vision

Do we have a leaky vision bucket?

The Work of a Christian Leader from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Redeemer Church (PCA) in Hudson, Ohio exists for

...all who are spiritually weary and seek rest, who mourn and long for comfort, who struggle and desire hope, who sin and need a Savior, who are lonely and need fellowship, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, this church opens its doors wide and bids welcome in the name of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

16 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 10 - The Lord's Prayer

    Pray then like this:
    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

15 November 2011

New Issue of Themelios

The new issue of Themelios is out. Catch it here.

Taken a Risk Lately?

Something that's been on my mind in recent days is just what does it mean to take a risk. Maybe we should define that as a calculated, Biblical risk. To get an understanding I referred back to John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life where on page 90 we read

The strength to risk losing money for the cause of the Gospel is the faith that we have a treasure in the heavens that cannot fail. ...When we risk losing face or money or life because we believe God will always help us and use our loss, in the end, to make us more glad in his glory, then it's not we who get the praise because of our courage; it's God who gets the praise because of his care.

Even to those of us who are security minded,  risk is ever present. Every time we drive our car, witness to a friend or a stranger, take a vacation, or whatever it is, it will be a risk. Even staying sealed up in our homes is a risk. We cannot escape risk because we don't know what  the Lord will bring us. Illness, loss of income, death of our spouse, our Father controls it all. We wouldn't have our Pastors and certainly not our missionaries without someone to take a risk. Moreover, we all took a risk when we became believers. Being a Christian is a huge risk. So I ask myself, when did I last take a risk? When did you, my friend, last take a risk for the cause of the Gospel? Let's not waste our lives living out the myth of security.

14 November 2011

An Officer's Ordination

    Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
    If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
    Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
(1 Timothy 4 ESV)

11 November 2011

God’s Decree: The Choice

        Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 
(Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV)

10 November 2011

The Renegade's Book Cellar

Check out the new Reformed Renegade book site here. If you're looking for something Reformed, please consider shopping here first. And thanks in advance!

09 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 9

We march on in the study of the Sermon on the Mount as we look at Matthew 6:1-8 in this lesson.

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
    “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:1-8 ESV)

08 November 2011

07 November 2011

An Officer's Qualifications

We make a slight detour from our sermon series on the book of Mark for this week and next as we look at the qualifications of officers and ordination.

03 November 2011

A Prayer

Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have won for me.
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
-Richard of Chichester, 1197-1253

02 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 8

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5:38-48 ESV)

01 November 2011

A Prayer for our Daily Work

O Lord,  give your blessing, we pray, to our daily work, that we may do it in faith and heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

All our powers of body and mind are yours, and we devote them to your service. Sanctify them, and the work in which we are engaged; and, Lord, so bless our efforts that they may bring forth in us the fruits of true wisdom.

Teach us to seek after truth and enable us to gain it; and grant that while we know earthly things, we may know you, and be known by you, through and in your Son Jesus Christ.
-Thomas Arnold, 1795-1842