Second Reformed Church

Saturday, March 28, 2009

April Sermons

D.V., I plan to preach:

4/5/09 Communion/Palm Sunday John 12:12-19 "They Continued to Testify"
4/9/09 Communion/Maundy Thursday 7 PM John 13:1-15 "Are You Clean?"
4/10/09 Communion/Good Friday 7 PM John 18:1-19:42 "It Is Finished"
4/12/09 Communion/Easter John 20:1-31 "So What?"
4/19/09 Luke 24:13-35 "Was It Not Necessary?"
4/26/09 Luke 24:36-49 "Everything Must Be Fulfilled"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Guest Preacher

This Sunday, D.V., the Rev. Dr. Gregg Mast will be our guest preacher. Rev. Mast was the pastor of Second Reformed Church from 1978 to 1985. He is currently the President of New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, NJ. Rev. Mast will be preaching on Jeremiah 31:31-34 and John 12:19-33, "We Would See Jesus." Join us for worship at 10:30 AM.

Girl Scouts

The first investigatory meeting of the Girl Scouts at Second Reformed Church will occur (D.V.) on Saturday at 10 AM. Please call Laureen Delance for more information: 973-746-8200 x 130

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Review: "Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations"

Generation Y, the Millenials, and, it would seem, their successors, believe that they are “entitled.” Their mere existence should secure them, in their minds, all the benefits of life on this planet. And they want it all now. They tend to be a “do-nothing,” “expect everything” group of people. Thankfully, there are exceptions: Alex and Brett Harris are exceptions.

The Harris brothers have written a book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. Their message is backed up by years of writing and leading from their blog, TheRebelution.com and by the fact that they, themselves, are teenagers.

In the opening chapters, they explain how they came to their conclusions and how we as humans came to define “teenagers.”

They continue by explaining the “five kinds of hard”: they challenge teens to (1) do things outside of their comfort zone, (2) do more than is expected of them, (3) do things that are too big for them to do alone, (4) do things that don’t pay off immediately, and (5) do things that go against the crowd. Each of these areas is buffeted with real life anecdotes.

They conclude by arguing that teen can and ought to “do hard things.” Three final “impossible” stories are told, and then they give a straightforward call to faith in Jesus Alone.

Their book is very readable and fast paced – especially with all of the stories. I can see a teenager reading this book, benefitting from it and being inspired by it. Yet, I think it would be of even more value in a small group or youth group settling, where teen could discuss their responses to these challenges, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable.

I pray this book, site, and message would be spread widely that many teens would live lives pleasing to Jesus.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Nothing Shall Be Lost" Sermon: John 6:1-15

“Nothing Shall Be Lost”
[John 6:1-15]
March 22, 2009 Second Reformed Church

Some years ago there was a book called Your God is Too Small. The point that the author of the book was making is not that God is actually small – or unable to do anything He wants – but that we don’t believe in a big God – in a God Who can provide for us and give us all things with His Son as He is pleased to give. We tend to forget that this is the God Who raised the dead – the God Who called all things into existence by His Word. Do we really think that anything we put before Him – according to His Will – is beyond Him to accomplish?

Jesus had been in Galilee, healing the sick by His Word and His Touch. People were healed of their physical illnesses. But the Pharisees and Sadducees still wanted to kill Him, so He got into a boat and sailed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, to escape their wrath, and to also take some time to refresh Himself – to rest and relax before He did anything else.

This was not unusual, and it should be an example to us: we need to take time to rest, reflect, restore. The late musician Keith Green said, “Don’t be so caught up in the work of the Lord that you neglect the Lord of the work.” God expects us to work, but He has also designed us to need a time to stop and wait on Him for restoration. It is a good and right thing to stop and take time to pray, to read the Scripture, to wait – quietly – on the Lord. Sometimes it’s hard – when people are calling on you and you don’t want to disappoint them – but it does none of us any good to burn out. Take time in the shadow of God’s Wings.

So Jesus went across the sea, but a great crowd followed Him. They wanted more – more healing, more miracles – probably the better part of the crowd was more interested in being healed or seeing a healing than in knowing Jesus for Who He is. They wanted the benefits they could receive from Christ, but they weren’t necessarily concerned with Who He is. They wanted to see the crutches thrown away, blind peoples’ eyes opening through spit and mud – there are churches like that – lights and music and people jumping around – now understand – there are people who worship God sincerely in that way – don’t think of them – think of people who are there for the show, not for God, not for His Word, not for the preaching and sacraments.

And Jesus sat down. And John reminds us that this was at the time of the Passover feast of the Jews – and we talked about how John is telling us that the Passover is not being offered to the Lord anymore – the language tells us that something has gone wrong in the worship of Israel. Still, Jesus looked at this crowd coming toward Him – up the mountain – and He had compassion on them. He didn’t rebuke them for lacking faith – for only following Him to see what He would do next. No, Jesus looked at them and recognized that they must be hungry – after spending all that time with Him and then walking around the sea to catch up with Him.

Remember, we are to spread the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ Alone throughout the whole world, but we are also called to care for those in need. Remember what James wrote, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16, ESV).

That’s why we support the food pantry here in Irvington. We don’t give food and money to the pantry to earn merit before God. No, we give food and money to the pantry because we care about those who are in need, because Jesus has changed our hearts and made us into a people who care for others – both for their Salvation and for their daily needs.

So Jesus asked Philip where they might buy bread to feed the people. And John tells us that Jesus knew exactly how Philip would respond – this was a test. And Philip answered as Jesus knew he would: “Do you see how many people there are? Even if we had two hundred days’ pay, that would not be enough to buy each of them a little bread.” How many people were there? Five thousand? No. There were about five thousand men – the women and children were not counted. So, if we suppose half of the men came with their wives, and half of the men had one child with him, we now have ten thousand people. There may have been more. “We don’t have the resources to provide even a single piece of bread for each person.”

Then Andrew answered, “There is a boy here with five barley loaves and two fish, but that probably won’t go very far.”

We have reacted like that, haven’t we? I know we have in this church. “We can’t do that. It’s not possible. There’s no hope, no future. There no point to doing anything.” Have you thought that way about your life? “I can’t do that. I’m not able. I can’t help. Nobody will help me. There’s no point in asking or trying anything.”

James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” James 1:5-8, ESV). And John wrote, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (I John 5:14-15, ESV).

If we ask God for something, in faith, believing that He is able, and it is according to His Will, then we shall receive it – it shall be done. That is the promise God makes to us. He will give us everything we ask for in faith, believing in Him, that is according to His Will.

Jesus had compassion on the crowd. He desired to feed them. So, it didn’t matter that they didn’t have the money to buy food. It didn’t matter that all the food they could find was five barley loaves and two fish. What mattered is that it was Jesus’ Will that they be fed, so they would be fed, no matter what the circumstances looked like, because He is God and He is able. Do you believe He is able to provide for you according to His Will? Do you believe He is able to provide for this church according to His Will? I do. So I keep praying for this church, for you, and for me.

The disciples didn’t have faith that Jesus could feed the crowd. They were raising the objections that were before everyone’s eyes – “We don’t have the money. There isn’t enough food.” They ought to have remembered that this was not the first time that God provided food. In the days of Elisha, we read, “A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, ‘Give to the men, that they may eat.’ But his servant said, ‘How can I set this before a hundred men?’ So he repeated, ‘Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, “They shall eat and have some left.”’ So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left according to the word of the Lord” (II Kings 4:42-44, ESV). Does it excite you to know that if God is willing, anything can happen? There is no impediment that can keep God from carrying out His Will.

But the disciples weren’t so sure. They lacked the faith to believe Jesus has the power and the authority to feed all those people. But they were obedient: when Jesus told them to have everyone sit down, they got everyone to sit down.

Then Jesus took the bread and gave thanks, broke it, and distributed it. And then He did the same thing with the fish. Do you give God thanks for what you have? Or are you always complaining that you don’t have more or have this or that? Paul said, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21, ESV). God is always deserving of thanks – He provides all our needs – and if we do not give Him thanks, we’re ruining ourselves.

And everyone ate as much as they wanted – until they were filled. And Jesus told the disciples to go pick up all the pieces of bread and fish – to collect them together that nothing would be lost. And they gathered twelve baskets full of bread and fish.

Jesus was able to provide lunch for everyone there – He brought the food into existence out of the little bit that was there – and each of the twelve disciples had a VIP basket to take home with them. Do you understand that Jesus is able to provide for us everything that is according to His Will? Be we must ask in faith, believing that He is able. And we must ask and ask and ask until we have an answer, whether He grants our request or says, “No.”

Bishop Ryle, in his commentary on John, makes an interesting observation at this point: there are only two miracles recorded in the Gospels where Jesus caused something to exist when it did not. One of those times is this morning’s Scripture, where Jesus multiplies the bread and the fish. Do you remember the other time? It’s just four chapters earlier, where Jesus was at the wedding in Cana, and the host ran out of wine. Mary asked Jesus to do something about it, and He gives in to her and changes one hundred and eighty gallons of water into the best wine they had ever tasted: “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who drew the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:9-11, ESV).

Ryle asks whether we are to think it a coincidence that the two times Jesus causes something to exist are times when He calls bread and wine and fish into existence. Could it be that Jesus did these miracles in part to impress upon those in His day and we, the readers of the Gospel, the bread and the wine – the signs of Jesus’ sacrifice in the Lord’s Supper and the fish, the first sign used by Christians to identify themselves? Surely Jesus did everything for a purpose. Here, in these two miracles, we see that Jesus provides the bread and the wine – His Body, broken for us; His Blood, shed for us – and the fish – salvation through Him Alone.

We are given the Scripture to teach us, to remind us, to educate us, to lead us in the Ways of God. But God does not always explain Himself. He does not always tells us why things occur or how things will come to pass. The disciples didn’t know how the crowd could be fed, but they believed in Jesus enough to do what He told them to do. And Jesus calls us to have faith in Him.

What is faith? Archie Bunker once described faith as “believing in something that no one in their right mind would believe in.” And some people think that way. But that is not faith. The author of Hebrews defines faith for us: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). Faith is believing with steadfast assurance in something that we do not have yet – or were not around to receive, but believe in without a doubt because of Him Who has promised it to us. We believe that God created everything that is out of nothing by His Word, not because any of us were there, but by faith, because we believe in God. We believe that Jesus will return and restore all things, not because it has happened yet, but because we believe Him Who has made this promise to us.

Solomon told his son, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, turn away from evil. It will be a healing to your flesh and a refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats bursting with wine” (Proverbs 3:5-10, ESV).

By faith we believe “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, ESV). That’s not my promise. It’s not Paul’s promise. It’s God’s Promise. God has already given us the greatest gift in His Son, so how can we doubt that He will give us everything that we ask for according to His Will?

Again, notice that Jesus gave enough food for everyone to be filled and for there to be leftovers to take home. Isn’t that our experience? God has promised to give us everything we need, plus more to give to others who are in need. Sometimes we’re on the giving end; sometimes we’re on the receiving end. But God has provided, and He will continue to provide. Believe Him. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, ESV). What things? In the context: food, drink, clothes, and a place to live. Seek Him. Believe Him.

When the people saw how Jesus caused bread and fish to exist where there had been none, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is come into the world ” They recognized Jesus as the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ, but they misunderstood what that meant. They thought the Savior would come and overthrown the Romans and set up and earthly kingdom. So John tells us that they would ready to forcibly anoint Jesus as king of Israel. But that was not what Jesus came to do in His First Coming, so He disappeared up into the mountain by Himself, where the crowd didn’t find Him.

Understand, Jesus was not denying that He is King – it was just not to be in the way that they thought and at the time that they thought. Jesus said to Pilate, “‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from this world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice’” (John 18:36-37, ESV).

This is the Truth: our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, is able to do anything and everything that we ask Him according to His Will. Nothing is too great for Him. So let us know Him, obey Him, and ask great things of Him, believing that He is able.

Let us pray:
Almighty God, You Who called all things into existence by Your Word, without Whose Will a sparrow cannot fall from the sky, increase our faith and trust in You. Keep us from regarding You as too small. Keep us from merely relying on our own abilities to accomplish the work You have set before us. Inspire us by Your Word, and cause us to ask great things, according to Your Will, believing that You will accomplish them, because You are able. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Girl Scouts

The first investigatory meeting of the Girl Scouts at Second Reformed Church will occur (D.V.) on Saturday at 10 AM. Please call Laureen Delance for more information: 973-746-8200 x 130

"Destroy This Temple" Sermon: John 2:13-22

“Destroy This Temple”
[John 2:13-22]
March 15, 2009 Second Reformed Church

Does it matter how we worship? Do the things we do and the way we do them in this sanctuary matter? Is there a point to what we do and how we do it? Is there any freedom to do things differently? How do we know?

Our liturgy could be called “traditional.” There are other churches who have replaced the organ and piano with bands and “praise choruses.” Is one right and the other wrong? Some churches have done away with the sacraments and have plays and dancers instead. Is one right and the other wrong?

Our denomination, the Reformed Church in America, has recently been focused on the ends: that is, the worship material and guidance coming out of the denomination is geared to increase numbers – numbers in the pews and numbers in the offering plate. Ought we “adjust” our worship to increase numbers? Does it matter how we worship?

In this morning’s Scripture, we find that Jesus says there are things that are acceptable in worship and things that are not. Let us look at our text:

We ought to be struck by the opening words, “The Passover of the Jews was at hand.” What is wrong with that? The problem is that the Passover is the Lord’s Passover, so, for John to record it as the Jews’ Passover is a clue to us that something has gone wrong – something was being done that no longer made this a holy day to the Lord – it had degenerated into something else – something God did not approve of.

A. W. Pink, in his commentary on John, makes a very interesting connection from these opening words: We may remember that the Passover was instituted as God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt. God gave instructions to all people that, if they wanted to save their first-born son, they were to place blood on their door and make other preparations. When the Angel of the Lord saw the blood, He would pass over that house and its animals; He would only strike the first-born of the houses without blood.

One of the other things that needed to be done during the Passover was the removal of leaven from the house and all things that contained leaven. Leaven is that stuff that makes bread rise. “Then Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by strength of the hand the Lord brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in the month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no unleavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt. You shall therefore keep the statute at its appointed time from year to year’” (Exodus 13:3-10, ESV).

The keeping of the Passover of the Lord continued in the New Testament until the Last Supper, where Jesus modified it into the Lord’s Supper, which is what we are now to keep until Jesus returns. And Jesus also uses the word “leaven” in a symbolic way: We may remember that after Jesus fed the four thousand, Jesus and the disciples sailed across the sea, and when they had reached the other side, Jesus said, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6b, ESV). And the disciples moaned among themselves, “Jesus is angry with us because we didn’t bring any bread with us ” So, Jesus rebuked them and told them that they all had plenty to eat on the other side of the sea – that was not what Jesus was talking about. “Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12, ESV).

Pink, in his commentary, directs the reader to Paul, who wrote: “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you are really unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Corinthians 5:6-10, ESV).

So we see that leaven is not merely the rising agent in bread that was to be removed during the Passover of the Lord, but it is symbolic of all types of sin, disobedience, and false teaching. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover of the Jews, they had removed the physical leaven from their pantries, but the spiritual leaven was rising in the temple.

When people came to worship and bring offerings in the temple, they would often need to bring an animal for sacrifice. They would also need to give temple currency to the priest – the temple had its own money, and the money of the land was not acceptable. Since these two things were true, and some people would be coming from a long distance or didn’t own the right animal for the sacrifice, animals were made available for purchase, and there was an exchange to turn national money into temple money. This was not against God’s Law.

Jesus went into the temple and He found those selling animals for sacrifice and those exchanging money, and Jesus flew into a rage, and He made a whip, and He drove the people who were selling the animals, along with the sheep and the oxen and the pigeons, and those exchanging money, out of the temple, and the overthrew the moneychangers tables. Why?

Jesus said, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” And, as Matthew tells us, “‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you have made it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:13b, ESV). Why?

First, Jesus says that things should not be sold in the temple. The first problem was not that these things were being sold and provided, but that they were being sold and provided in the temple. The temple had a massive courtyard, and that was the appropriate place to sell the animals and exchange the money, not in the place of worship. Similarly, it would be wrong for us to set up tables with Flea Market stuff for sale here in the sanctuary, but it is alright that we have it in Freeman Hall. We are not to make the worship space a marketplace.

Second, Jesus says that the people selling and exchanging the money were being dishonest – they were selling substandard animals and fudging the weights and measures for the exchange of money. So, they were not only selling things in the temple – in the place of worship – but they were stealing from the worshipers.

Jesus also answer the question that arises immediately after He drives everyone out, before He is even asked – “By what authority do You do this?” Well, what did Jesus say, this is “My Father’s House.” And Jesus was not just calling God His Father as we do today – the implication that should have been perfectly clear by what He said is, “I am God the Son, and this is God the Father’s House, My Father’s House, so I have the authority to drive out the leaven.”

At this point, the Holy Spirit caused the disciples to remember Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your house will consume me” (ESV). The Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to understand that Jesus fulfilled this prophetic verse – Jesus was filled with zeal for the purity of the Temple – the Church – and the worship that occurred in it. Jesus leaves not doubt that there are things that ought not occur in the sanctuary and in the worship of God.

In the Reformed tradition, we talk about the “regulative principle.” What the “regulative principle” says is that we are only to do those things that God has commanded us to do in worship, and we are not to do anything that God has not commanded us to do in worship. Let me say that again: What the “regulative principle” says is that we are only to do those things that God has commanded us to do in worship, and we are not to do anything that God has not commanded us to do in worship. To understand what that means, we must look to and know our Bibles.

But how did the Jews respond to Jesus throwing them out of the temple? “So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’” (ESV) They completely ignore the fact that Jesus has told them that He is God and that is why He has the authority to do these things. Instead, they demand a sign – a miracle. “If you want us to believe You, do a trick.”

What does Jesus do? He ignores their question. Demanding a sign is not an acceptable response to what occurred. There is no precedent in Scripture for demanding of a prophet, much less God, to do a sign. Besides, Jesus had already explained Himself before they asked by telling them that He is God – but they didn’t want to address that. So Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Now, they were standing in the temple, and Jesus spoke about the temple, so what did they understand Him to be talking about? The temple they were standing in. Jesus purposefully spoke in a way that they would not understand what He was talking about. But that was Jesus’ Way, wasn’t it? Jesus spoke to the people primarily in parables. Why? The disciples asked Jesus and He said, “‘This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’” (Matthew 13:13, ESV). Jesus said, “I purposefully speak in parables so they won’t understand what I am saying.”

What kind of sense does that make? This kind: it proves that a person cannot save himself. You and I cannot save ourselves. Or anybody else for that matter. Unless the Holy Spirit causes a person to believe in the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Alone, no matter how well or how poorly we speak, not matter how clearly or cryptically we speak, no one will believe. That is not to say that what we say and how we say it doesn’t matter – we are to preach the Gospel – to tell everyone about Jesus – in clear and understandable language. But we need to understand, Salvation is not about us, we can’t cause it, only God can save a soul. God uses us through our witness in word and action, but God Alone grants salvation.

Well, the Jews naturally thought Jesus was talking about the temple they were standing in, and they thought He was out of His Mind: “‘It has taken thirty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’” But Jesus wasn’t answering their question. Jesus was not giving them a sign to prove His Authority. What Jesus was doing was telling them that He has authority, both over the temple in Jerusalem and the temple of His Body, and for Him to have authority over either one makes Him God.

Paul explains that our bodies do not belong to us – we have no right to say, “this is my body, I can do what I want with it” – “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:19b-20a, ESV). And Nebuchanezzar rightly confessed that God has authority to do whatever He wishes with everything He has created, “his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all of the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:34b-35, ESV).

Jesus was unwilling to play games with them in the temple. They had blinded themselves to the truth of how God is to be worshiped. They had allowed things to occur in the sanctuary that ought never to have been allowed. They had wanted a sign from Jesus, but He gave them a confirmation of His Office instead – He gave them proof that He is God the Son.

The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus meant at the time, but John tells us, “But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”

Have we blinded ourselves? Have we thought that so long as we have large numbers, it doesn’t matter what we do in the sanctuary of God? Understand, I pray that God will build up this congregation in numbers and deepen our faith and understanding, no matter how many of us there are, but there are things that are appropriate and there things that are not appropriate to do in the worship of our God and in His Sanctuary.

Jesus shows us that this morning in our text. Jesus is our God and Savior and He has the right and the authority to say that we are to do “this” and we are not to do “that.”

Pray that we will stand fast on what God has told us to do in worship and that we will only do those things which are pleasing to Him. Pray that we will not succumb to merchandising and thievery in the House of God. Pray that we will seek to know God’s Word and follow it wholeheartedly – zealously – to His Glory. And let our hope rest on the proof of Jesus’ Divinity – in His Resurrection – and in the promise that He will raise us to be with Him on the last day.

Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You that You have not left us to our own devices, but You have told us how You want us to worship You. Cause us to search Your Scriptures to prove what is pleasing to You. Help us to understand what You have said. And let the fact of Jesus’ Resurrection be a preserving force as we face those who say we are fools to follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Consistory

Consistory members, we are planning (D.V.) to have our next meeting this Sunday after morning worship. Please stay after worship. Thank you!

OYSA Fundraiser

Due to a scheduling conflict, the OYSA Fundraising Dinner, scheduled for this Saturday evening, has been cancelled. Lord Willing, we will be able to host this event in the future. Please watch for the announcement.

Prayer Request

Some of you know my friend, Rev. Howard Currie. Would you please be in prayer for him and his family -- his father died yesterday, and Howard has gone to London to meet his siblings and make the necessary arrangements. Thank you! I believe in the resurrection of the dead.

"God Will Provide the Lamb" Sermon: Genesis 22:1-14

“God Will Provide the Lamb”
[Genesis 22:1-14]
March 8, 2009 Second Reformed Church

This morning’s Scripture is probably a familiar one to many of us. The history of God calling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is one that is often taught in Sunday School classes. What does it teach us?

We will remember that God called Abraham to leave his homeland and his family and to travel to the land of Canaan – which would become Israel. God promised Abraham that he would become a great nation – his would be a promised people, a chosen people, God’s people. And Abraham believe God – Elohim – and took his wife, Sarah, and his possessions and went to the land of Canaan.

We may also remember that when Abraham and Sarah got to Canaan, Abraham was in his eighties and Sarah a few years younger, and Sarah was barren – they had no children. And Sarah began to wonder about this promise of God, “We’re old and I’m barren. We have no children. How will God make a great nation from our children if we don’t have children?” So Sarah approached Abraham and made a suggestion, “I have an Egyptian servant named Hagar, have a child with her to fulfill the promise of God.” And Abraham did, and Hagar bore a son named Ishmael.

But this showed a lack of trust on their part, and when Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God came to him and told him that Ishmael was not the chosen son, but Sarah would bear him the son of promise. And they laughed – their circumstances were ridiculous – they were now older, Sarah was still barren – and that’s why they named their child – their son – Isaac, which means “laughter.”

By the time we reach this morning’s Scripture, Isaac is a teenager. He is the one and only child of Abraham and Sarah. He is the son of promise – the one through whom God promised He would raise up a great nation. And we’re told that God came to test Abraham, and let us understand, God was not testing Abraham because God didn’t know what the outcome would be – God knew very well what would happen, and God was not commanding Abraham to sin – as awful and severe as this test was – God cannot and did not lead Abraham into sin. This test was to show Abraham and us something. And God came to Abraham and told him, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

It had been about thirty-five or forty years since God made the promise to Abraham. Isaac was now a teenager. There were no other children. Abraham must have been devastated to hear what God commanded. He must have been throughly confused by what God had said. Was God going back on His Promise? How could Abraham become a great nation if his only son was to be sacrificed? How could God command that he sacrifice his son, when God forbid His people to sacrifice their children? “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:31, ESV). What was going on?

But this time Abraham trusted God. He couldn’t have understood. He must have been sweating – his mind racing about the problems this request raised – not to mention the simple fact that he loved his son Still, we’re told, the next morning, Abraham saddled his donkey, and took two servants and his son, Isaac, whom he loved, and they cut the wood for the sacrifice and brought the fire and headed out for the land of Moriah.

The land of Moriah was a three-day walk from where they were, so for three days, these questions ate away at Abraham. “How can God ask me to do this? To sacrifice my only son, whom I love? How can God fulfill His Promise to me if I sacrifice Isaac, my only son, whom I love? How can God ask me to sacrifice Isaac, my only son, whom I love, when that goes against God’s command?” For three days, he was plagued with questions. Still he trusted – though it was not a trust that came lightly.

On the third day, God told them to stop – they had reached the place where God wanted the sacrifice to occur. And Abraham told the servants to wait at the base of the mountain – that he and the boy would go and worship, and then they would come back. Did you notice that? Abraham specifically said that they would go up and worship and they would return. God hadn’t told Abraham that, but Abraham knew enough about God to know that God cannot lie, so, somehow, Isaac had to survive the sacrifice. Even if Abraham had to kill Isaac and have God bring him back to life – somehow, God would not sin – God would not break His Promise.

Abraham and Isaac began the trek up the mountain, and Isaac began to wonder: “My father ” “Here I am, my son.” “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for burnt offering?” What was Isaac thinking? We’re not told – only that he noticed there was no offering to offer.

And then Abraham makes an amazing confession of faith, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” Abraham still didn’t know what God was going to do, but he trusted that God would work this out somehow. Abraham believed that somehow, God would make this impossible request right. So he told Isaac that God, in His Providence, would provide the sacrifice. And Isaac accepted his father’s answer.

They reached the spot for the sacrifice, and they built the altar, and they laid the wood, and then we’re told that Abraham tied up Isaac and placed him on the altar. Notice the trust Isaac had in his father: Abraham was over a hundred years old; Isaac was a teenager. It was very unlikely that Abraham could have overpowered Isaac, so what we see is Isaac submit to Abraham’s offering him up as a sacrifice. Surely, Isaac didn’t want to die, but he knew something was going on. He knew his father was right before God and spoke to God. So he trusted that what was happening was right – whatever the outcome was to be.

And Abraham took the knife and raised it above Isaac, his son, his only son, whom he loved, ready to bring it down and kill him and offer him as a sacrifice to Elohim, the God Who had called him to the land of Canaan and made him the Promise that he would become a great nation. Abraham would have known God’s Law, “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 24:17, ESV). It didn’t make any sense, but God told him to do it, and Abraham knew God, so he was prepared to do it. And he raised up the knife, ready to plunge it into his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved.

“But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here am I.’ He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’”

The Angel of the Lord called down from heaven and told Abraham not to offer up his son as a sacrifice because the Angel of the Lord now knew that Abraham feared God. This raises some questions: First, Who is this Angel of the Lord? And second, is He saying that God didn’t know whether or not Abraham feared God?

We can discover Who the Angel of the Lord is by understanding that the word “angel” means “messenger” and is applied to humans, the beings we call “angels,” and other beings – we have to understand who and what is being referred to by the context. Here, our understanding is found in the last phrase of verse twelve: “you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Who called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? God. Who said, “you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me”? The Angel of the Lord. They are one in the same: in this case, we understand the Angel of the Lord to be God. That’s what makes sense in the context.

So, why is God called “the Angel of the Lord” here, instead of just “God”? There are a few times in the Old Testament where we see the Persons of God – Father, Son, and Spirit. There are times when the context leads us to understand that God in the Person of the Son is being referred to – the theologians call this a “theophany” – what the theologians mean this to signify is a pre-Incarnate appearance of the Son. In other words, there were a few times when the Son appear on earth before the Incarnation – before He took on human flesh. This is understood to be one of those cases. Here, we understand the Angel of the Lord to be God the Son.

So, what did He mean by saying, “now I know that you fear God”? Well, it cannot mean that God was ignorant of whether or not Abraham feared Him. God is all-knowing, so that cannot be what this phrase means. John Calvin explains “Moses, however, simply means that Abraham, by this very act, testified how reverently he feared God” (Calvin’s Commentaries, on Genesis 22:12). The language that is used is not meant to suggest that God didn’t know Abraham; it is a condescension in language to help us understand what God proved through His Actions.

Surely Abraham – and Isaac – were rejoicing Abraham took his son off of the altar and noticed a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. And they took the ram and they offered him up in worship to God instead of Isaac. Now something had been made very clear to both Abraham and Isaac and it caused them to offer up the sacrifice and proclaim the worth of God. What did they learn? What was made brazenly clear to them? What did Abraham name the mountain? “The Lord will provide.” Abraham and Isaac now knew without a doubt that God will provide whatever is necessary to carry out God’s Will.

Do you believe that God will provide for you? Do you believe God’s Promise that He will provide everything that you and I need and everything that is necessary to accomplish His Will? There will be plenty of times – perhaps more often than not – when we look at our circumstances, at our health, at the economy, at our neighbors, and think, “It’s over, there’s nothing left, there’s nothing we can do.” But God says, “No. Follow me in faith, obediently, trusting in Me, and I will provide.”

How will you and I get from point A to point B? How will the future come to pass? Jesus said, “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:24, ESV). Is Jesus telling us to never think about the future? To never plan ahead? No. What He is saying is we ought not to worry about the future. We ought to trust Him. We ought to do what He has called us to do today, believing that God will provide for us. And when we get to tomorrow, we ought to do what He has called us to do tomorrow, believing that God will provide for us.

Abraham didn’t have the slightest idea how God was going to work out His Command to Abraham to sacrifice his son and still keep His Promise to make him a great nation. But Abraham trusted for the day. He was obedient for the day. He believed that God would provide for that day. And God proved his faith. Will you believe Him for today?

Let us understand one other thing this morning: the call on Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, whom he loved, is a foreshadowing of how God will redeem His people: God would, one day, provide the Lamb of Sacrifice, in the Person of His Only Son, His Beloved Son, and God would not without a horrible death from His Son, but carry it through to the fullest, because no other Sacrifice could pay the debt for sin and credit His Righteousness to us.

John the Baptist said, “‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God’” (John 1:29-34, ESV).

And Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in him is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God” (John 3:16-21, ESV).

God planned from before the creation to provide the Lamb of His Only Son to be the salvation of all those who will believe in Him. If God was willing to do that, can we not also believe that God will provide everything we need, for this day, and for eternity? Abraham and Isaac learned that lesson. May God be pleased to give us that same assurance as He leads us in faith, trust, and obedience.

Let us pray:
Sovereign God, we thank You for the history of Abraham and Isaac. We thank You for making it clear that You require difficult things and You do not always explain to us why they happen, yet You provide for all our needs. We thank You for providing for our greatest need, in the Person of Your Son, with Whom You did not hold back Your Hand, but sacrificed Him for our sake. May Your receive all the Glory. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Membership Class

Due to a number of conflicts that have arisen, we are postponing our membership class until June. If you are interested in learning about the church and/or membership, please set aside 4 PM on the four Saturdays of June, and D.V., we will hold our membership class then.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Review: "Skinny B****"

I picked up Skinny B****: A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous! By Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, not because I am a girl, but because I am a vegetarian. (I asterisked out the second word of the title for those who would be offended, given that this is primarily a “church” site.)

This book is exactly what it claims to be – and it is excellent in what it does. But be forewarned, if your humor does not allow for rough language, stay away. This book does not coddle, it slaps the reader around as it makes it point: animal foods lead to poor health, including being overweight.

The authors explain in their very humorous and direct style the difference between good and bad carbs, why meat, dairy, and sugar are disastrous for our health. They explain why we ought not to trust government agencies about our food and health, but use our brains and examine the research and our bodies for the truth.

The final third of the book has sample menus and extensive lists of foods, websites, books, and other helpful materials.

This is an excellent, fast-paced, resource packed introduction to animal-free eating. For that, I highly recommend it. However, if you offended by rough language, open the book to the book list and choose one of the books they recommend.

Review: "The Pillars of the Earth"

I loved Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth.

At almost one thousand pages, I enjoyed this epic tale in bits and pieces during my “free time.” This book was suggested to me by one of the women at our pool with whom I was discussing books. I had told her I enjoy historical novels and, especially, historical mysteries. This is not a mystery, but it did draw me in and keep me captive. (And I am glad to find out that he has recently written a sequel, which I hope to read this summer.)

The Pillars of the Earth centers on a stone craftsman, Tom Builder, and his desire to build a cathedral during the Middle Ages. There is a great deal of informative plot line concerning the politics and mores of the time – and to a lesser extent, the Roman Catholic Church and its theology. One follows Tom, his children, and grandchildren, as the building of the cathedral goes through triumphs and challenges of every type.

Anyone who is interested in historical novels, the Middle Ages, or just a great epic read will love this book.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

"Forgive All My Sins" Sermon: Pslam 25

“Forgive All My Sins”
[Psalm 25]
March 1, 2009 Second Reformed Church

This first Sunday in Lent, we are turning to a Psalm that David wrote later in life. We know it was written later in life, because he reflects on the “sins of [his] youth,” so David is looking back on his past sins. At the same time he bemoans his misery, he calls on God for mercy, reminding God of Who God is and what His Character proves.

In the first verse of the Psalm, verses one to three, and we remember that the Psalms were sung, David cries out to God that his soul was downcast, but it is lifted up because the Lord is trustworthy. David admits that looking at himself and the condition he has brought upon himself, he fell into despair, but then he was lifted out of that despair by remembering Who God is and what He has promised. One thing that God has promised is that, in the end, those who wait upon the Lord will not be put to shame.

As we live our lives, we are faced with temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil. All around us, people are sinning and inviting us to join in, our own flesh is leading us to follow after our own favorite sinful pleasures, and the devil, himself, has sent his demons to lead us away from the path of righteousness that God has set before us. And we know that we have sinned – we have failed God and not been obedient – and if we do not lift our eyes off our ourselves, our souls will be downcast – we will lose hope and despair – rightly so. But David gives us the example that the Christian should follow: we ought to turn from ourselves to the Face of God, as He has revealed Himself in the Scripture, and be lifted up by what we find there – because of Who God is and what He has done.

Have you found that to be true? Have you looked at your past sins and regretted what you have done? Have you found the only way to be lifted up again is to turn to God and think on Who He is and what He has done?

In the second verse, verses four and five, David confesses that God is the Only Salvation and those who have found their salvation in God ought to wait on Him – meditate on Him – all the day long. When believers make waiting on God their life, God leads them in Truth and teaches them and guides them in the way that they should go.

Let us understand that David is not saying that we should all stay in our homes and spend all our waking hours studying the Scripture. He is not saying that we should all go into monasteries and spend our lives meditating on the Word of God until we die. No, what David is saying is that God and His Ways should be before us at all times. Yes, we are to spend time reading and studying the Scripture, both individually and in groups, but we are also to go out and live our lives before the world with the things that God has taught us in our minds and hearts, being practiced and witnessed in all that we do. He is also saying that those who come to know the Glory of God in salvation want more –we ought to find ourselves being drawn away from the worthless pursuits of the world and being drawn to know God and His Word better.

Do you want to know Him better? Do you want to know Him more? Has some of the bright things of the world grown dim as you have considered the Glory of God?

In the next verse, verses six and seven, David reminds God of what he has learned of God’s Character. David reminds God that God’s Mercy and Steadfast Love are eternal characteristics of God – that before the creation of the Creation, God is Merciful and full of Steadfast Love. These are not new characteristics that came into being in response to humanity, but God has always been Merciful and full of Steadfast Love, even before any of us existed. So David asks God, not based on any merit David had earned, even as the one known as “the man after God’s Own Heart,” but based on the Eternal Mercy and Steadfast Love of God – and the Goodness of God, David asks that his youthful sins and transgressions be forgiven.

God’s Love and Mercy exist from before the foundation of the world – they are part of his Eternal Character. As we understand that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, there is nothing in ourselves that we can fall back on to justify God forgiving us. We cannot look at our good works and ask God to forgive us based on them, because we can never do enough to cover all the sin that we have committed. Sin against the Holy God requires eternal punishment for the debt to be satisfied – none of us can give that and survive. Our only hope is to turn to God and ask that He would forgive us for His Sake, based on Who He is Alone – the Only One Who can merit forgiving us is God. That is why God had to come to earth, live, suffer, and die a criminal’s death – there was no other way any of us could be forgive by God, unless God took our place to merit His Own Forgiveness and satisfy His Justice. So, let us humble ourselves and fall before God, asking Him to forgive our sins.

Have you given up trying to earn God’s forgiveness? Have you recognized that God is too holy to accept any work of your hands as enough? Have you received with joy forgiveness through God the Savior – the Only One Who can and will forgive?

In the fourth verse, David continues to reflect on the Character of God, in verses eight through ten. God is Good, in a way that no human has ever been good – He is the Highest Good. God is Upright – there is no deceit, no shadow of turning, with God – He is Pure Truth and Honesty. And because He is Good and Upright, He is Teacher to sinners who follow His Way. He is Guide to those who humble themselves and seek to follow His Ways. And those who keep the covenant with God and are faithful to His Testimonies are led by God in paths of steadfast love and faithfulness.

We see that it is both God Who forgives and God Who keeps His people faithful to His Covenant and His Testimonies. We are born dead and we are reborn weak, saved by the Savior, but still, in this life, unable to perfectly keep everything that God has put before us – we continue to grow at the feet of our God – we continue to fall more deeply in Love with our God as He matures us and makes us more faithful to Him.

Do you love our God more today then you did when He first called you to receive His Salvation? Do you desire to be closer to Him, more faithful, more intimately knowing of Him? Our hearts wax and wane, but we ought to be able to see progress through our Savior’s Work in us.

The crescendo of humility is found in fifth verse, verse eleven of the Psalm, “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” David pulls out the “big guns” – the Name of God – and asks that his pardon be for the sake of the Lord’s Name. David recognizes the weight of his sin, but rather than turning to his merit, rather than making a “deal” with God, rather then just reminding God of His Mercy and Steadfast Love, David now asks, for the sake of God’s Name, to be forgiven.

What is David asking? What does it mean when we talk about bearing the Name of God? It means that we are known as God’s people and that we desire and ought to be reflecting God’s Glory back to Him. People ought to see something of the Glory of God in us and be directed and drawn to God, Himself. So, David is asking that God would glorify Himself by forgiving David and make it known that David was forgiven only for the sake of God’s Glory.

Isn’t that the Gospel? That humans sinned and are now born dead in sin, unable to help, much less save ourselves, so God Glorified Himself by coming to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ, lived, died, rose, and ascended back to the Right Hand of the Father, having defeated sin and death and having won a people for Himself God Glorified Himself through Jesus Christ by pardoning our guilt through His Perfect Work of Salvation, so we are now forgiven Glorious Gospel – fulfillment of David’s request

Have you received the Gift of Salvation from Jesus? It is the Only Way God can and will forgive you. You can only be forgiven if God glorifies Himself by saving You – by Himself, on His Own, for His Name’s Sake. Do you believe Him?

David continues in the next verse, verses twelve through fifteen, by describing the relationship he has with the Lord God as one who has been forgiven for his sins for the Name’s Sake of the Lord: the one who fears the Lord – the one who is in awe before God, humbly waiting on Him, learning from Him, will be led by the Lord in the way that he should go. He will be kept safe and prosper in the Hand and the Will of the Almighty. He will know the Lord and His Word; He will be intimately entwined in the Covenant Promises of God. However, that does not mean that everyone the Lord saves will be “healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

The picture that David draws in this verse is of the person of God being like a bird: we are given wings to fly, and we are called to keep our eyes on God – on His Ways. As we do that, we know Him better and learn from Him. But, as we do that, we are not looking at the things around us or below us, and the world, the flesh, and the devil are seeking to catch us in their nets. And since we are not yet perfect, our feet do get caught in nets of sin, and we need to call on the forgiveness of the Lord for His Name’s Sake again. But notice: David tells us that if our eyes are on the Lord, if we are seeking His Ways, if we are not seeking after sin, if we turn to Him for help and hope, “he will pluck [our] feet out of the net.” There is sin and suffering in this world after our salvation and before Jesus returns, but, if our response is to once again train our eyes on God, He will forgive us, He will remove our feet from the net and restore us to Him.

Are your feet stuck this morning? Turn to Jesus and ask Him to forgive you. Look to Jesus for the way out of sin. Ask Him to release you from the trap you have flown into. He loves to glorify Himself through our salvation and He will not lose one person that has been given to Him. So, turn to Jesus.

In the final verse of this Psalm, we see that even though David has been forgiven for his sins – and we see that he asks again to be forgiven for all of his sins – because we will continue to sin until Jesus returns – though we ought find ourselves sinning less as time goes by – David acknowledges that there are consequences to sin. David was lonely and afflicted. He was troubled and distressed. His foes were hunting him down, and they hated him. David understood that even though he was forgiven for his sin, he would suffer some of the consequences of his sin. Still, he confesses that his refuge is in God, and he asks that he would maintain his integrity and righteousness, and that God would preserve him through these things, as David waited on the Lord, and, if God was willing, that he would be delivered from some of the sufferings that had befallen him for his sin.

It is a hard lesson to learn that just because we are forgiven does not mean that we will not suffer at least some of the consequences of our sin. Because David was a man of bloodshed, God would not allow David to build the temple, nor would God allow David to end his reign in peace. Instead, David saw the sword come up among his sons as they battled for the throne. Still, David was forgiven for his sin. And David’s response was the right one – no matter what he had to endure, his trust, his hope, his refuge was ever in God.

All those who believe in the Savior are forgiven for all their sins, but we still experience suffering for sin. Do you trust God? Do you believe, despite whatever happens on this earth, that He is the Only Hope – the Only Refuge? Do you believe that when this life is through you will be perfected and restored, never able to sin again, but forever before the God you have believed in – living and loving in His Glory?

David ends his Psalm connecting his forgiveness and salvation to that of the whole Israel of God: “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.” In this context, we should understand David to be referring not to the nation of Israel, but to the Israel of God – all those who believe in the Savior. He is asking that God will save them from all their sins. David asked that God would save you and me – that He would forgive all my sins and all your sins. David is referring to the communion of the saints.

The communion of the saints, which we confess belief in every week, means that we are equally members of Christ’s Body, the Church – all those throughout time and space who confess faith in God’s Savior. It also means, as David was praying for in this Psalm, that we are to be actively seeking the salvation of all those God has given to Jesus.

The Church is bigger than this sanctuary – this building. Do you pray for the salvation of God’s people? Do you look forward to the day when we will all be together in the Kingdom?

As we meet with Jesus and He ministers to us by His Grace through the bread and the cup, let us renew our commitment to see the whole Church being brought into the Kingdom, and let us reaffirm our belief that all our sins are forgiven only for the sake of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You for the witness of David in this Psalm, that You are our Savior, and that You save us for Your Sake, by Yourself, and for Your Glory. Draw us closer to You. Make Yourself evermore our great desire. Mature us. And make our live lives of trusting in You and Your Promises and looking forward to the full indwelling of Your Kingdom. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.