Saturday, February 24, 2018

For Sunday

Reading of the Law of God
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7.13-14

Confession of Sin
Our Father, forgive us when we complain about the difficulties of living as faithful disciples in this fallen world. Our Lord Jesus told us that the way to life would be hard. Forgive us and convince our hearts that the difficulties are more than worth it since this is the way by which we will gain eternal life. Amen. 

Declaration of Pardon
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

May God who loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be our Saviour forgive us our sins and make us holy to serve him in the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Book of Common Prayer

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Comment on a Hymn

My Heart Doth Overflow    

This hymn is a rendition of Psalm 45. And the themes that you'll find in it are familiar ones of praise. The King, who is the subject of this Psalm/hymn, is praised for his beauty, grace, strength and majesty. And how fitting when we consider that the King being prophesied here is Jesus.

There is one more theme that bears noting: conquest and rule of the nations. It is important to remember that Jesus has not come just to snatch up a few here and there to take them to heaven. He has come to conquer the nations and rule them by the Gospel. We have a role to play in His plan.

My heart doth overflow,
A goodly theme is mine;
My eager tongue with joyful song
Doth praise the King divine.
Supremely fair Thou art,
Thy lips with grace o’erflow;
His richest blessing evermore
Doth God on Thee bestow.

Now gird Thee with Thy sword,
O strong and mighty One;
In splendid majesty arrayed,
More glorious than the sun.
Triumphantly ride forth
For meekness, truth and right;
Thine arm shall gain the victory
In wondrous deeds of might.

Thy strength shall overcome
All those that hate the King,
And under Thy dominion strong
The nations Thou shalt bring.
Thy royal throne, O God,
Forevermore shall stand;
Eternal truth and justice wield
The scepter in Thy hand.

Since Thou art sinless found,
The Lord, Thy God, confessed,
Anointeth Thee with perfect joy,
Thou art supremely blessed.
Thy garments breathe of myrrh
And spices sweet and rare;
Glad strains of heav’nly music ring
Throughout Thy palace fair.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Scripture to Meditate On

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

 There is quite a bit going on in this bit of Scripture, all of which is one sentence. Classic Paul. Notice that there are the things to renounce and things to embrace. And we do this while we wait. This life is lived in anticipation of the next life, a life that begins when our great God and Savior returns. But then, there is also the glance over the shoulder to what happened in the past, rescue from lawless lives, the beginning of cleaning us up, all of which results in our being increasingly eager to do what is good and right. Which part of this do you need to spend some time considering?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Quote

God never meant the Christian life to be complicated, and he never deceives or confuses us. His demands are actually rather straightforward, as the Preacher says at the end of Ecclesiastes: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Eccles. 12.13-14). We are the ones who make the Christian life problematic and complex, not God. The “secret” of the true spiritual life is always simple: will you trust and obey God?
Mark Jones
Faith, Hope, Love: 
The Christ-Centered Way to Grow in Grace

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Adam and Jesus

Why is Paul’s letter to the church in Rome so long? He set out to explain to these saints the Gospel that he preaches. I think that we’d all agree that he accomplished that in the first few chapters. Chapter one: the Gentiles are sinners worthy of the wrath of God. Chapter two: the Jews are also sinners and also worthy of wrath. He pulls this together in the beginning of chapter three with a list of Scriptures that starts with,
None is righteous, no, not one; Romans 3.10
He’s made it clear that everyone is guilty.

With that settled, he then launches into the key Gospel themes, things like how Jesus’ death deals with the wrath of God, how we are declared righteous before God because of what Jesus has done and how all of this is ours by faith alone. That’s the rest of chapter three. He then illustrates these things in chapter four pointing to Abraham and David and ending that with a declaration about the key role of faith.

Okay, he’s covered the Gospel: God, sin, Christ, faith. Isn’t that enough? Paul, isn’t it time to end the letter? You’ve accomplished your goal, no?

Well, obviously not. It seems that Paul thought that there was more of the Gospel for those saints to know. And the Spirit thought the same for us, which is why this letter is in the Bible.

A Prayer

Father, by Your apostle You have told us to try to discern what is pleasing to You. Frankly, Father, sometimes we find that really hard to do. We find ourselves in situations where we have lots of options, lots of possibilities to choose from, from which we must choose one. And it needs to be the one that You want us to choose. Oh, there are those times when any choice will be fine with You. But there are still lots of times when there really is only one right choice.

It’s times like those that we feel the pressure. We wonder, ‘What is it that You want me to do?’ We aren’t at all sure. We feel the pressure.

But it’s good to know that You are a very patient Father. You really do understand our weakness. You know our frame. You remember that we are but dust.  And so, what You look for when we are in those situations isn’t our arriving at the right answer. What You’re looking for is the right attitude, a heart that wants to find the right answer. And when You see that in us, if we arrive at the wrong answer it’s okay with You. In fact, You’re pleased with us even though we get it wrong. You can see that we’re trying to discern what is pleasing to You. You really are a very patient and understanding Father. And knowing that is so helpful.

And while it really is a great comfort for us to know this about You, we really do want to find the right answer. It just seems a good way to respond to Your patient understanding. And so, Father, we ask that You would teach us more about who You are and what You intend for our lives and what resources You have provided for us. Teach us Father so that we will arrive at the right answer more of the time than that happens now. Teach us so that we can express our love to You in those situations.

We look forward to the day when we won’t have to try so hard to get to the right answer. Most of the time we’ll just know. Sin, which is the problem in all of this, will be gone. But if there would be a situation where we don’t just know, we can simply ask You and hear Your response. And that will be so very good.

In the meantime, Father, help us to keep working at this but without stressing over it. Remind us that You are a very patient and understanding Father. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.