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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The Emotions of Jesus

 

Jesus of Nazareth was true and fully man on earth, and thus he experienced the full range of human emotions, yet without sin. He showed us how to be human, and if we are going to grow up into His image, to be like Jesus, we have to look at Him completely.

Jesus was full of pity (Mk. 1:41). He healed sickness and disease, He saw multitudes of people weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd, and was moved with compassion (Matt. 9:36). He prayed to the Lord to send out laborers into the harvest, people who knew the gospel and were motivated by the fact that many are ready to come to faith. He said blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Continue reading

Many Will Come

The Lord’s Supper is a feast for many. One time when Jesus entered Capernaum a Roman soldier, a centurion, came and pleaded with him to heal his servant. Jesus agreed to come heal him, but the centurion said no, he wasn’t worthy, and Jesus could just speak the word. He understood this because he too had authority and servants that would do what he said.

Jesus was astonished by this and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:10-11). Continue reading

Ask, Seek, Knock

Our God is a Father, is the Father, and He has revealed Himself as one who is eager to provide for us. Jesus said, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Lk. 11:9-10).

We are regularly tempted to feel that we don’t have what we need, and certainly not what we want. But not only is God is openhanded, He is also attentive, knowing exactly what we need. A good father is far more aware of what his child needs than he is. How much more is God aware of our needs? Continue reading

Members Whether We Like It or Not

Because the Church is the body of Christ, every member of Jesus is related to all the others. The right pinky toe might be a long way away from the left eardrum, but they are organically and vitally connected.

This is true of Christians whatever our station in life is and whether we even know it or even deny it. Paul writes, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?” (1 Cor. 12:13-19).

What does it mean and what does it matter that Christians are members of Christ together? It means we really do need each other. Continue reading

A Day To Give

The Church is a hospital for sinners and not a rest home for the saints, as anyone who has been in a church for more than fifteen minutes will be aware.

Many, many people experience this and then burn out. Why go to church, why be part of a community when it’s simply another place to have to deal with people, but these ones by voluntary association? I have to do this at work, why do it here?

If you approach the question like this and run a social financial cost-benefit analysis on what you get for connecting to Jesus’ Body, you will certainly come up short. But if you think this way you will also come up short in everything—in marriage, friendship, at work and in your family.

Of course this not how it actually is, but selfishness in grabbing more for oneself always makes us feel empty, and generosity and obedience always makes us feel full and overflowing. If we run a biblical cost-benefit analysis, we see all the blessing God has poured out upon us. What does it cost to give it away? What do we get if we do? It was given us to in order to love others, and the only way it will be a blessing to us is if we do. This applies to every area of our lives—relational, vocational, emotional, financial, and spiritual. God gives to us so we can give, and when we do He entrusts us with more so we can give again. He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.

The Church is a hospital for sinners, but it’s also a factory for saints. This is where God works on us, and He never burns out on us. God’s grace is abundant in the body life of His Son. Come to Him and find rest.