The Greatest Blessing Ever Enjoyed

 

“The celebration of the Lord’s Supper,” said Chrysostom, early church pastor in Constantinople, “is the commemoration of the greatest blessing that ever the world enjoyed” (quoted in Watson, The Mystery of the Lord’s Supper).

God meets in countless places with innumerable gifts and kindnesses. We have food, family, friends, work, rest, leisure, all the comforts of hearth and home, freedoms in our nation and opportunities more than we can count to love of the bless others. No gift is to be minimized or taken for granted.

But every week without fail God offers this gift of Himself. We remember Jesus’ body broken and his blood shed, what it cost Him to save us and therefore to be able to receive Him and all that means—abundant life—forevermore.

This is not a bare commemoration, but one that takes us further up and further in. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26). Jesus is reigning until every enemy is made His footstool, the last one being death, and so this proclamation, communing in the Lord’s Supper, is an invitation to believe and eat, believe and drink. So come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Advent is About Jesus

 

Now that Thanksgiving is over and this is the first Sunday of Advent, we are officially singing, thinking, talking and shopping for Christmas.

Some people have noticed that many retail establishments busted out the Christmas stuff back in October and lamented it the another example of commericialism at work. While this may be true, it’s also true that Christmas can’t be contained on December 25th or even in the 12 Days of Christmas. We only stop officially celebrating because you have to draw the line somewhere.

Many Christians are familiar with the spiritual disciplines: prayer, Bible reading, giving, fasting and the like. The season of Advent and Christmas is a prime opportunity to dedicate ourselves to the fundamental biblical discipline of joy. There’s more than one reason to get the Christmas stuff out early.

You heard (or if you didn’t hear) our announcement about resources for making Advent significant and festive. We would never require anyone to observe this season, but this is a time when our culture still has a remnant of traditions driven by biblical truth. It’s lawful and we find it helpful. Observing Advent, celebrating in small ways to get in shape for Christmas, is not adding a burden to an already hectic season. It’s being thoughtful and intentional to remember and celebrate the rich truths of the incarnation of the eternal Word of God.

So consider for yourself and your family how you will incarnate the wonder of Jesus being born for sinners, for all the Bible gives us to ponder and enjoy. The singular focus of Advent is Jesus. Focusing on Him never allows us to ignore anything else that matters. He is the answer to all of our problems, born to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Free to Love

 

The Lord’s Table is an oasis of love and freedom. God shows His love for us by feeding us body and soul. He assures our hearts that He will always do this, day after day with our daily bread. But we won’t just be sustained, our hearts will be made made glad by His wine.

This is also a token of our freedom because we’re free to drink. God sets the Table with dangerous stuff because He has sent the Spirit of self-control and wisdom into our hearts. Many Christians emphasize the freedom not to drink, and that is certainly wise in many contexts, but not every context. This freedom Jesus gives us equips us to live godly and mature lives, walking with the Spirit and defeating the flesh.

We’re sent from here to love the Lord and our neighbor the way we would be loved, the way God has just loved us. He feeds us in fellowship; He gives Himself to us to enjoy. Receive Him and give yourselves to others the same way.

Enduring Agnosticism

“They never rest, for they will having nothing to do with with an infallible revelation; and hence they are doomed to wander throughout time and eternity, and find no abiding city. For the moment they glory as if they were satisfied with their last new toy; but in a few months it is sport to them to break in pieces all the notions which they formerly prepared with care, and paraded with delight They go up a hill only to come down again. Indeed, they say that the pursuit of truth is better than truth itself. They like fishing better than the fish; which may well be true, since their fish are very small, and very full of bones. These men are as great at destroying their own theories as certain paupers are at tearing up their clothes. They be again de novo, times without number: their house is always having its foundation digged out. . . . These men are not even seeking certainty; their heaven lies in shunning all fixed truth, and following every will-0′-the-wisp of speculation: they are ever learning, but they never come to the truth.”

–Charles Spurgeon, The Greatest Fight in the World

A Day at a Time

 

One of the things God gives us is enough troubles of our own. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrrow because that is what tomorrow is for: “33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:33-34).

These should be the most liberating words to us. We’re not allowed to worry about what might come. This of course doesn’t forbid us from being prudent, buying insurance, and having a plan. But it does forbid us from worrying.

If Jesus forbids us from worrying about our own troubles, how much more should we not worry about the troubles of others? If we can’t see what’s ahead on our own path, how much less can we see what’s ahead of others? If we don’t even have enough information about ourselves, we certainly can’t plot a course for others.

When we follow Christ and discipline our thoughts and actions, the surprising result is that we are ready for what comes. When Jesus sent the disciples out with nothing but faith in God, they found out that God provided for them, and that was why He sent them out with nothing. God teaches us over and over that we are not in control of our own lives much less the lives of others, and when we embrace that truth, and cheerfully acknowledge that He is in control, we have peace and wisdom for what to do.

The Right Hand of Fellowship

From the very beginning of the church, Christians gathered on the Lord’s Day to celebrate Jesus’ victorious resurrection. Luke writes in Acts 2, “day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people” (vv46-47).

One historian notes, “From that time, and throughout most of its history, the Christian church has seen in communion its normal and highest act of worship. . . . The most remarkable characteristic of those early communion services was that they were celebrations. The tone was one of joy and gratitude, rather than sorrow and repentance” (Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, p. 108).

We confess our sins early the in the service, God speaks to us through the preached Word, and He offers us the right hand of fellowship in a striking way in communion. We are His companions, literally the ones who have bread together, and the right hand means commitment, friendship, and solidarity. We are seated in heaven with Jesus permanently at God’s right hand where there are pleasures forevermore. We taste those pleasures now as we take His hand and offes ours back to Him and to one another.

God the Father

When we think of the Fatherhood of God, it’s important not to make Him in our image. God is not our Father because He is like an earthly father. He is not our Father because He became one at some point, or when Jesus took on flesh and became His incarnate Son.

No, Scripture teaches us that the first person of the Trinity, the Father has always been the Father because the Son is eternally begotten.

Malachi 1:6 says, “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor?” In Ephesians Paul writes, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14-15).

All Fatherhood, (Gr. Patria), comes from the Father of Jesus Christ. As we see our culture disintegrating around us, at the very center of our troubles is our disdain for our God and Father, and therefore for fatherhood that derives from Him.

At the end of Malachi, we have this solemn warning and promise: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:4-5).

When we turn our hearts to our fathers, first we honor them for that fact that God gave them to us. They bear a noble office, and we salute the uniform regardless of what they have done or not done. Second, we honor the ways they imitate God the Father, and we imitate them as far as we can. The first kind of honor kills all resentment. You can’t turn your heart to your earthly father without first turning it to your Heavenly Father, and to turn to Him requires us to forgive the way we’ve been forgiven. The second kind of honor, or expression of honor, fosters gratitude and holiness.

God our Father gave His own Son that we might become His children, and so that we would be partakers of their divine life of the Trinity. But we must turn our hearts to Him.

Pledge of Allegiance

 

One of the earliest church fathers to write in Latin was Tertullian, and he used the word sacramentum to refer to baptism and communion. The sacramentum was the oath a Roman soldier took when he joined the military.

Soldiers sign up once for service, and so do Christians—our baptism doesn’t wash off. So why have another sacrament? Why take communion, bread and wine, every week? Because soldiers and citizens continue to pledge allegiance. Husbands and wives repeat their love and enjoy their commitment. We are fickle and we need it, and God would nourish, strengthen and bless us in fellowship with Him every week. Continue reading

A Constant Battle

If we want to thrive in our faith and continue to grow in God’s grace we must always be engaged in a fight against sin. The apostle Peter writes, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).

The battles we often face present themselves as coming from outside of us. Christians have identified our three enemies as the world, the flesh, and the devil. It’s easier to see our exterior enemies and focus on them—the world and the devil. But in order for us to ever be overcome by these, we have to have already given in to the flesh. This why Jesus said that defilements come not from the outside, but from within. Continue reading

Killer Angel

Killer Angel: A Short Biography of Planned Parenthood's Founder, Margaret SangerKiller Angel: A Short Biography of Planned Parenthood’s Founder, Margaret Sanger by George Grant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A superb narrative in one hundred pages of the woman who embraced the evils of racism, eugenics and sexual immorality which then resulted in her quest for abortion on demand. Everyone should know about her “Negro Project” concerned with “The mass of Negroes, particularly in the South, still breed[ing] carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among Whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit” (p. 86).

This is a timely read not just because of the recent work of the Center for Medical Progress exposing the horrors of Planned Parenthood, but because Hilary Clinton openly admires Sanger and has received the Margaret Sanger Award.

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