31 January 2013

Fear is normal but...

Fear is normal but there is a remedy...

      Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil,
       for you are with me;
        your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
       (Psalm 23:4 ESV)
For thy staff and thy crook comfort me. What need would he have had of that consolation, if he had not been disquieted and agitated with fear? It ought, therefore, to be kept in mind, that when David reflected on the adversities which might befall him, he became victorious over fear and temptations, in no other way than by casting himself on the protection of God. This he had also stated before, although a little more obscurely, in these words, "For thou art with me." This implies that he had been afflicted with fear. Had not this been the case, for what purpose could he desire the presence of God? Calvin, John (2009-06-03). Commentary on Psalms - Volume 1 - Enhanced Version (Calvin's Commentaries) (Kindle Locations 7433-7437). Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Kindle Edition.

David was afraid and we can be, too. Thus, we are given his words in the Scriptures to therefore direct us and comfort us. Let the fear drive us to Christ to find peace and rest this week.

30 January 2013

Self-Made Religion

    Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
    If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
    (Colossians 2:16-23 ESV)

    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 4:7-16 ESV)

29 January 2013

The Good Thing about Adversity

Octavius WInslow
What shall we then say to these things? Shall we not count among the precious things of God, not the least precious, the trial whose discipline removes from us so much evil, and confers upon us so much good? How little should we know experimentally of the Lord Jesus—what depths there were in His love, what soothing in His sympathy, what condescension in His grace, what gentleness and delicacy in His conduct, what exquisite beauty in His tears, what safety beneath His sheltering wing, and what repose upon His loving heart, but for this very adversity. Your ark is tossed amid the broken waters, but you have Christ on board your vessel, and it shall not founder. He may seem, as of old, "when asleep upon a pillow," ignorant of, and indifferent to, the storm that rages wildly around you; yet the eye of His Godhead never slumbers, and He will, and at the best moment, arise in majesty and power, hush the tempest and still the waves, and there shall be peace. And will you not then count that a precious adversity that awakens in your breast the adoring exclamation, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?" Yes; Christ treads the limpid pathway of your sorrow. He comes to you walking upon the sea of your trouble. He approaches to quell your fears, to calm your mind, to give you peace. And but for this alienation of property, this sore bereavement, this terrible calamity, this wasting disease, this languor, suffering, and decay, these restless days and wakeful nights, oh, how many a precious visit from the Beloved of your soul would you have lost! Be still then; trial will bring a precious Jesus to you; and the presence, the love, the sympathy, and the grace of Jesus will lighten, soothe, and sweeten your trial. We shall soon be at home, where "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." Winslow, Octavius  (2011-11-01). The Works of Octavius Winslow (Kindle Locations 85189-85202). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition. Emphasis mine.

God is working through our trials. Don't try to escape; work through them. The good thing about adversity is that the we can know the presence, the love, the sympathy, and the grace of Jesus will lighten, soothe, and sweeten your trial. Be patient, the Father is always with us.

28 January 2013

Who Can Be Saved?

    And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
    (Mark 10:23-31 ESV)

25 January 2013

Old Testament Survey - Isaiah Study

We press on with our survey of the Old Testament. This week we review the book of Isaiah.

Brief outline
Chapters 1-35 - Prophecy
Chapters 36-39 - History
Chapters 40-66 Comfort
Theme Verse
    Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
        and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
(Isaiah 1:27 ESV) 

23 January 2013

Made Alive in Christ

    And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
    (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)

22 January 2013

What's all the fuss about the Old Testament?

What's all the fuss about the Old Testament? Graeme Goldsworthy sums up nicely the great import of studying and understanding the OT:

"As Christians we will always be looking at the Old Testament from the standpoint of the New Testament - from the framework of the gospel which is the goal of the Old Testament. But since the New Testament continually presupposes the Old Testament as a unity we, who are not acquainted with the Old Testament in the way the first Christians were, will be driven back to study the Old Testament on its own terms. To understand the whole living process of redemptive history in the Old Testament we must recognize two basic truths. The first is that salvation history is a process. The second is that this process of redemptive history finds its goal, its focus and fulfillment in the person and work of Christ." (Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom, Paternoster Press, page 20, emphasis mine.)

Goldsworthy goes on to point out, rightfully I believe, that much of what we have today is a down-graded gospel that focuses on personal spiritual experience rather than on Jesus. "[The gospel] is the good news about Jesus, before it can become good news for sinful men and women. Indeed, it is only as the objective (redemptive-historical) facts are grasped that the subjective experience of the individual Christian can be understood." (page 21.)

Our focus should be on Christ, not ourselves. We therefore need to reorient our thinking on all the Scriptures and not just the New Testament. To see and try to live out our Christianity with little or no understanding of the Old Testament is like jumping to the middle of a novel. We can't expect to enjoy the book if we skip ove the first several chapters - important facts leading up to the culmination of the story are missing. So it is when we neglect the study of the Old Testament.

Allow me to suggest reading Goldsworthy's "Gospel and Kingdom" as a great starting point to gain understanding in this area. Tolle Lege

21 January 2013

The Rich, Young Ruler

    And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
(Mark 10:17-22 ESV)

Jesus required the man's complete surrender.  He was to

1. Go
2. Sell
3. Give
4. Come

18 January 2013

Circumcision of Christ - Colossians 2:11-12

    In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
(Colossians 2:11-12 ESV)

    For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
    (Romans 2:25-29 ESV)

17 January 2013

Derek Kidner on Psalm 39:13

    “Hear my prayer, O LORD,
        and give ear to my cry;
        hold not your peace at my tears!
    For I am a sojourner with you,
        a guest, like all my fathers.
    Look away from me, that I may smile again,
        before I depart and am no more!”
(Psalm 39:12-13 ESV)

Below is an excerpt on Psalm 39:13 from Derek Kidner's commentary on Psalms 1-72. Tim Keller mentions this in his sermon "Praying our Tears" which I recommended in Tuesday's post.

"Yet for the moment, like Job or Jeremiah, he can see no more than death, and ask no more than respite. The prayer of 13a makes no more sense than Peter's 'depart from me'; but God knows when to treat that plea as in Luke 5:8ff., and as in Matthew 8:34f. The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to his understanding. He knows how men speak when they are desperate." (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Psalms 1-72 by Derek Kidner, Inter-Varsity Press, page 176, emphasis mine.)

On a side note, this is an excellent commentary, well worth investing time to study its pages.

16 January 2013

Song of Solomon Study

We continue our Old Testament Survey this week on the Song of Solomon.


1. Coming of Christ 1:1-2:7
2. Church longing for Christ 2:8-3:5
3. Christ has come 3:6-5:7
4. Christ ascended 5:2-8:4
5. Call of the Gentiles 8:5-8:14

15 January 2013

Are you happy enough to be a weeper?

Tim Keller's exposition of Psalm 39:12-13 & 126:1-6 is just simply exceptional and blessing. He brings out the lesson that we should "expect tears, invest the tears and pray the tears." We must stop living the fantasy that our lives will be nearly perfect as Christians. That is a sad falsehood wherein many find there hope and eventually will be disappointed. You can listen or download here. Be blessed friends.

  “Hear my prayer, O LORD,
        and give ear to my cry;
        hold not your peace at my tears!
    For I am a sojourner with you,
        a guest, like all my fathers.
    Look away from me, that I may smile again,
        before I depart and am no more!”
(Psalm 39:12-13 ESV)

    When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
        we were like those who dream.
    Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
        and our tongue with shouts of joy;
    then they said among the nations,
        “The LORD has done great things for them.”
    The LORD has done great things for us;
        we are glad.
    Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
        like streams in the Negeb!
    Those who sow in tears
        shall reap with shouts of joy!
    He who goes out weeping,
        bearing the seed for sowing,
    shall come home with shouts of joy,
        bringing his sheaves with him.
(Psalm 126 ESV)

14 January 2013

Let Them Come - Mark 10:13-16

    And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
(Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

13 January 2013

Share Your Faith Workshop

Its not too late
to save the date

Share Your Faith Workshop
Evangelism Explosion International
Redeemer Missions Committee

Saturday, January 26, 2013
9:00am to 4:30pm
Redeemer Church
190 W. Streetsboro St.
Hudson, Ohio 44236

Would you like to:
[1] developing a love for the lost?
[2] Overcome the fear of witnessing?
[3] find people who are open to God’s word?
[4] share the Gospel through the use of stories?
[5] be effective in gaining commitment to the Lord?
[6] develop an ongoing ministry of evangelism?
This is your opportunity to learn. 

$25.00 fee per family

12 January 2013

Why argue about Intinction?

It is curious to me that a Reformed and Evangelical denomination would want to administer the sacrament in a way that is different from Jesus' institution. Do we think we are improving on his procedure? If we think it is safe to disregard the Bible here, where else are we doing this?

Why argue about  it Intinction? Because it is important on many levels. On the surface it may seem like a small matter but as Rick Phillips explains, it is crucial to our well being of any denomination and to individual believers. Read more from Phillips here.

11 January 2013

See To It - Colossians 2:8-10

   See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
    (Colossians 2:8-10 ESV)

10 January 2013

Outta Control

Outstanding post from Trevin Wax earlier this week. He writes

If you like to be in control of your circumstances, then you know what interruptions are like. They’re frustrating. They get in the way of your plan. They need to be avoided or discarded or dealt with as soon as possible so you can get back to being in control, right?

That's not how Jesus handled interruptions and indeed, nor should we. Every interruption does not require us to hit the control button to get it back. Read the whole article here and consider how you've handled life's interruptions today.

09 January 2013

Ecclesiastes Overview

Our Old Testament Survey continues with this week as we review the book of Ecclesiates.

Bridges & Piper

Two of my living heroes of the faith in one video, John Piper and Jerry Bridges. It just doesn't get any better.

08 January 2013

Jim Elliot

Today in 1956 missionary Jim Elliot was killed in the service of our Lord. He is well noted for his devotion as a missionary and for writing well as is displayed in his journals. Most notable of his written verse many of us know

 He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

Read more about him and his work here at Scriptorium. We owe him much.

The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for. - Jim Elliot

Let's stop fooling ourselves...

John Piper
When Paul says, “If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink,” he does not mean, “Let’s all become lechers.” He means, there is a normal, simple, comfortable, ordinary life of human delights that we may enjoy with no troubling thoughts of heaven or hell or sin or holiness or God – if there is no resurrection from the dead. And what stunned me about this train of thought is that many professing Christians seem to aim at just this, and call it Christianity. Paul did not see his relation to Christ as the key to maximizing his physical comforts and pleasures in this life. No, Paul’s relation to Christ was a call to choose suffering – a suffering that was beyond what would make atheism “meaningful” or “beautiful” or “heroic.” It was a suffering that would have been utterly foolish and pitiable to choose if there is no resurrection into the joyful presence of Christ… Judge for yourself. How many Christians do you know who could say, “The lifestyle I have chosen as a Christian would be utterly foolish and pitiable if there is no resurrection?”

John Piper

Desiring God, 1996, p. 219

07 January 2013

The Marriage Bond

  And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.
    And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
    And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
    (Mark 10:1-12 ESV)

04 January 2013

Ordo Salutis

Excellent study on the Ordo Salutis (order of salvation). Learn, enjoy, be blessed.

Elder Mark Van Drunen
    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(Romans 8:28-30 ESV)

02 January 2013

Model Spiritual Servants - Philippians 2:17-30

Elder Ray Gilliland

"Example is the most powerful rhetoric."   - Thomas Brooks

 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
    I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
    I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
    (Philippians 2:17-30 ESV)