Confident Christianity

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  Hebrew 10:19-25 esv

cpc.jpgSunday’s sermon at CPCC is on this text of Scripture. Briefly, the passage first (vv. 19-21) recaps the amazing person and work of Christ as displayed in the previous chapters of Hebrews which give the believer great confidence. Then, the inspired author presents us with three exhortations, all of which begin with the expression “let us” —

•  (v.22) “Let us draw near…”
•  (v. 23) “Let us hold fast…”
•  (v. 24) “Let us consider…”

The connection here is important; those imperatives stand upon the truth of the indicatives. We can only obey the commands because of the reality of the work of Christ. And the invitation-like wording of these exhortations warmly draws the believer to find blessing and joy in obeying them.

May the Lord bless you as you feast upon His Word.
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Ten Great Questions for A New Year

(From: DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed)

Ten Questions for the New Year

I have used these reflection questions in the past. As we begin a new year, I find them still remarkably relevant. Even though the questions are particular to a husband, father, and pastor, you may be able to put them to good use as well.

1. Am I spending time slowly reading God’s word and memorizing Scripture?

2. Am I having consistent, focused, extended times of prayer, including interceding for others?

3. Am I disciplined in my use of technology, in particular not getting distracted by emails and blogging in the evening and on my day off?

4. Am I going to bed on time?

5. Am I eating too much?

6. Have I exercised in the last week?

7. Am I patient with my kids or am I angry with them when they disobey or behave in childish ways?

8. When at home, am I “fully present” for my wife and family or are my mind and energy elsewhere?

9. Am I making sermon preparation a priority in my week or am I doing other less important things first?

10. Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife?

from Kevin DeYoung

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Contentment, a helpful analogy

This week I ran across this analogy of contentment as enjoying a comfortable home life. It was written few centuries ago a puritan pastor in a book entitled, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.
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The one who is filled with good things [contentment] is just like many a man who enjoys an abundance of comforts at home, in his own house. God grants him a pleasant home, a good wife, and fine walks and gardens, and he has all things at home that he could desire. Now such a man does not care much for going out. Other men are fain to go out and see friends, because they have quarreling and contending at home. Many poor husbands will give this reason, if their wives moan, and complain of their faults and short-comings. They make it their excuse to go out, because they can never be quiet at home. Now we account those men most happy who have everything at home. Those who have confined homes that are unpleasant and evil-smelling, delight to go into the fresh air, but it is not so with many others that have good things at home. Those who have no good cheer at home are fain to go our to friends, but those who tables are well furnished would as soon stay at home. So a carnal man has little contentment in his own spirit. It is Augustine who likens a bad conscience to a scolding wife: a man who has a bad conscience does not carte to look into his own soul, but loves to be out, and to look into other things; he never looks to himself. But one who has a good conscience delights in looking into his own heart; he has a good conscience with him. A carnal heart seeks his contentment elsewhere because there is nothing but a filthy stink, vileness and baseness within himself.”

Jeremiah Burroughs
pages 76-77, (emphasis added)
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
(1648; Banner of Truth reprint, 1964)

Ryle: Do not be cast down over sickness

You need not be cast down by sickness. The eternal part of you is safe and provided for, whatever happens to your body. You may well look calmly on death. It opens a door between you and your inheritance. You may well not sorrow exclusively over the things of the world – over partings and bereavements – over losses and crosses. The day of gathering is before you. Your treasure is beyond reach of harm. Heaven is becoming every year more full of those you love, and earth more empty. Glory in your inheritance. It is all yours if you are a children of God. “If we are children, then we are heirs.”

~ J.C. Ryle

The God of all comfort

Every so often find the Bible passage I am reading to be “perfectly timed” for the season of life I find myself in (and this seems to happen more frequently as I age). Reading the first chapter of 2nd Corinthians today was one such instance, with deep waves of blessing. Let me share the passage, and a few thoughts with you. May the Spirit of God bless you as well…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (vv.3-4)

Our God has a clear purpose in mind for every affliction I face. And in the midst of these, He aims to also provide a place/time/supply of comfort for me. And these two (a goal & our comfort) work together — for if it is God’s aim for us to be “successful comforters of others” (and it is), then he will well equip us by comforting us well.

“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (vv.5-7)

The times in which we suffer are not times apart from our Lord Jesus Christ, but times when He is quite near us. The comfort God supplies can – and will – keep pace with our sufferings. Again, it is God’s aim for me to so gain from my experiences with Christ so as to comfort others in significant ways. Believers are not alone in these experiences, but have the companionship of others in Christ.

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (vv.8-10)

Ah, what a dawn of hope and sunburst of insight this passage brings! In our most difficult circumstances God designs that we rely upon and lean upon Him; and not upon ourselves! The Lord brought Paul to the end of his own resources — a death-like end to his own vitality — only to roll away the stone of despair, and impart resurrection-strength to his weakness. God is so powerful! And He is consistent, He will continue to help me again and again. I must affix my hope on Him!

O Lord, thank you for giving us this passage of Scripture, with clear encouragements for those believers in the midst of difficulties!
Increase our faith in your word, and our hope in You.
You are most worthy.
You are, indeed, the God of all comfort!
Amen.

Life without dismay

The venerable old J. C. Ryle observed,

The person who has Christ, has life. They can look around them on the temporary things and see change and decay on every side without dismay. They have got treasure in heaven, which neither rust nor moth can corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. They can look forward to the things eternal and feel calm and composed. Their Savior has risen, and gone to prepare a place for them. When they leave this world they shall have a crown of glory, and be forever with their Lord. They can look down even into the grave, as the wisest Greeks and Romans could never do, and say, “Oh, death, where is your sting? Oh, grave, where is your victory?”

A brief prayer for Sanctity of Life Sunday…

Almighty God, our Father in heaven,
We praise You as Creator of heaven and earth, the Maker of every living thing.
We worship You as those whom You have redeemed by the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We thank you for this company of believers, and for a new year in which to serve and glorify You.
We pray, Father, that we would know the meaning of ‘being in the world, but not of it’ and that we’d live to please You in all things.

Human life at 12 weeks

We pray, Lord, that Your people would see what love and justice demand of us regarding the sanctity of life, and the defeat of abortion in our land.
Protect every unborn child we pray!
Stir Your people to lives of action and deeds of compassion.
To that end, give us a fuller measure of Your Holy Spirit we ask.
In all things, Lord, keep us faithful to Your Word, and in step with Your Spirit.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Amen.