Monday, April 30, 2012

Psalm 50:15 and call upon me in the day of your tests; 
   I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

Psalm 50:14 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, 
   fulfill your vows to the Most High, 

Thoughts: Many of our students this week will be taking exams.  These are good verses to claim.  God wants us to call on Him in the day of our tests.  He is our deliverer when no one else can deliver us.  
Ironically, before the day of the test comes, the Psalmist is already offering thanks to God and the psalmist vows to fulfill his vows to the Lord.  True faith is when we are able to thank God before we even face our trials and tests.  
One of the greatest things for any young person to learn- perhaps the greatest lesson of any study- the greatest wisdom- is that God is able and willing to help us in our time of need when we call on Him.  

Prayer: Help me to have grace to call on you, and then help me to give thanks to you. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

4 It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”31 Once more a remnant of the house of Judah 
will take root below and bear fruit above. 32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,  and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 31:4,31,32)

Thoughts: Sixty-five times the word "remnant" is used in the Bible. It is an important concept, and I believe especially important for our time.  When we think of remnant we think of something leftover that may not be worth much (like a carpet or tile remnant on sale cheaply).  But the remnant of God's people are those who are left who are still maintaining the faith, and they are precious in God's sight.  The remnant are the preservers and guardians of the faith.
    There were many times when God left a remnant- Noah and his sons; Abraham who was but one and God made him many; Moses when the people worshiped the golden calf; Gideon; Elijah who thought he was the only prophet left; Jeremiah; The New Testament church saw itself as a "remnant" of the Jews (Romans 9:27; 11:1,5);
    Calvin (IV.1.2) said "Although the melancholy desolation which confronts us on every side may cry that no remnant of the church is left, let us know that Christ's death is fruitful, and that God miraculously keeps his church in hiding places. So it was said of Elijah, `I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'"
   The church today in America is under increasing secular pressure.  Francis Schaeffer in 1975 that the west is a "Post-Christian world."  Christianity may be growing in other places, but the moral focus and unity in the West was gone.  The American president said that America was "no longer just a Christian nation" (3/9/08).  The mainline/oldline churches have not only not been keeping up with population growth, but have been bleeding members as they drift away from fidelity to the scriptures.  Yet there is a remnant.  It is a remnant that is still being purified.  Tomorrow we will look at what a remnant is supposed to do. 

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you always leave a remnant of your church to be salt and light in the world.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

4/29/12- Day of the Lord

" See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me,
and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.
The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight - indeed, he is coming."
- Malachi 3:1

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you,    righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, 
   on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim 
   and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9,10)

(Jesus casting out  the Money-changers in the Temple)

Thoughts: Taking a one day break from the catechism to think about the in-breaking of God's presence. The post-exilic prophets (like Haggai, Zechariah, maybe Joel, Malachi) spoke of "The Day of the Lord."  The Day of the Lord is the powerful, personal presence of God.  For the righteous, it is a day when we see the One we long for.  For the unrighteous, it is a horrible day.  Perhaps you remember the words of Isaiah when he experienced the holy God- He proclaimed God's holiness and said, "I am a person of unclean lips and dwell among a people of unclean lips."  Isaiah was a good man, but even he felt guilty in the presence o God.  
    Both passages above speak of the Lord coming.  Both passages were written to the "remnant" in Judah.  In Malachi, He comes suddenly to the Temple that bears His name.  In Zechariah, He comes humbly on a donkey ushering in a reign of peace.  Of course, Jesus came suddenly to the Temple and threw the moneychangers out.  But He also came to Jerusalem as the humble king inviting us into his reign of peace in our hearts.
     Christ still comes to us.  We should prepare our hearts by seeking to do His will and living humble lives.  One day He will come to each of us face to face, and we need to be ready to meet Him. 

Prayer:  May my heart be ready when you come, O Lord. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

4/28/12- Remembering your sins no more

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25) 

2012- Q. 33- What is Justification?
A: Justification is a free gift of God by which He forgives all our sins, and accepts us as righteous before Him.  He does this only because He has given Christ's righteousness to us.  Justification is received by faith alone. 

Thoughts: I remember hearing Billy Graham once say that justification means that God looks at you "just as if you never sinned."  In Isaiah the passage implies that sin was being remembered and it bothered God and bothered Him.  But when He justifies us, it as if our sin is forgotten and we are accepted by God into His relationship (or covenant), and into His people.
This does not mean that we should forget sins committed against us when we forgive people.  In heaven God forgives.  But on earth we must learn from our own and other's mistakes.  However, we should forgive others- giving them a second chance- even if it means our own hurt.
God blots out our transgression.  It is like an ink blot that marks out the remembrance of our sins written down.  It is illegible, scratched out in God's eyes.  We are set free from the penalty and burden of sin by God's forgiveness.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for blotting out my sin from your memory.  Thank you for the opportunity of a second chance.

1645 WSC Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth
us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by
faith alone.

1989 Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is the act of God’s free grace by which He pardons all our sins and accepts us as
righteous in His sight. He does so only because He counts the righteousness of Christ as ours.
Justification is received by faith alone.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

4/27/12- Invisible adoption

WSC Q. 34- What is adoption?
Adoption is a free act of God's grace, in which we are received into the family, and have a right to all the privileges of the children of God.  

14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 

Thoughts: There is a rush hitting the internet about the "Invisible children" who are kidnapped and made soldier-slaves by Joseph Kony in Africa.  But there is a sense in which every Christian is an invisible child.  The adoption of God's children is invisible. Similarly, we cannot tell, by just walking on the street whose child belongs to which father.  The child knows who their father is.  The child can say, "Abba" (Chrysostom and Cyril said this was an endearing Aramaic term similar to "Daddy").  The child is not only connected to the father by birth but also by relationship.  Adoption is focused on relationship- that God knows us and calls us to be His child. The world thinks we are lying about being God's children.  The world thinks that we have no heavenly father- but that this is some imaginary figment made up by a psychological, or emotional need.  But this verse says that all creation waits eagerly for our invisible adoption to be revealed to all.  It is a glorious moment when the Father becomes visible and His love also becomes visible and real for us.  

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to wait with eagerness yet patience for all of creation to be revealed.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

4/26/12- Union in Christ

WSC Q. 34- What is adoption?
Adoption is a free act of God's grace, in which we are received into the family, and have a right to all the privileges of the children of God.  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Thoughts: What do the words "in Christ Jesus" mean?  We are united in Christ.  We are baptized in Christ, one in Christ, in faith in Christ.  We are justified in Christ (Gal. 2:17).  We are sanctified in Christ (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11).  We are saints in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1).  There is no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom. 8:1).  Christ also is IN us (Rom. 8:9,10) by the Spirit who adopts us as His children.  So we are enveloped within and without by Christ.  We are united in Him by our union in Him.  We are connected, tied, bound, covenant-promised to be His and He ours.  We shall be His people and He shall be our God.  This is adoption- we are united to Him.
    The problem is we do not live like this.  We live like we are distanced from Him, and He does not care for us.  We live like He is so transcendent, but He is immanent to those who are bound to Him in faith.  He is a part of us, and we are a part of Him.  There is a oneness in Christ- to which words like adoption and union can only hint.  We should try to live in the oneness of Christ. 

Prayer: God be in my head and in my understanding:
God be in my eyes and in my looking:
God be in my mouth and in my speaking:
God be in my heart and in my thinking:
God be at mine end and at my departing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

4/25/12- Sealing of the Spirit

WSC Q. 34- What is adoption?
Adoption is a free act of God's grace, in which we are received into the family, and have a right to all the privileges of the children of God. 

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13,14)

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21,22)

(Seal of the President of the United States)

Thoughts: The Spirit of God is the Spirit of adoption that seals us for our inheritance (Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 5:5).  The Spirit is called a deposit of God's full treasure.  The Spirit is like earnest money put down on real estate.  The Spirit is a little taste of what is yet to come, and at the same time a guarantee that more good things are to come.  When we are adopted by God as Father, we are sealed (past/aorist tense of arrobon) by the Spirit until the day or Redemption.  In Revelation the seal of God (the Spirit- Rev. 7:3) is contrasted to the seal of the number of the Antichrist on the foreheads of those who submit to him.
     A seal is a guarantee.  So when we seal an envelope it is shut tight- almost licked. When Jesus was in the tomb, Pilate had the tomb "sealed" to insure it's closure, and that no one else would break into it (Mt. 27:66).  A signet seal in ancient times- is like a signature- guaranteeing authenticity.  The Spirit locks us in as God's guarantee, but also guarantees the authenticity of our faith and that we are God's children (when we believe). 

Prayer: Seal us for service today, O Lord.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

4/24/12- The priviligees of adoption by God

WSC Q. 34- What is adoption?
Adoption is a free act of God's grace, in which we are received into the family, and have a right to all the privileges of the children of God.

God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)

(Lil Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks who adopted her)

Thoughts: What are the privileges of the children of God?  The Larger Catechism in speaking of adoption's benefits says a bit more: " we are received into the number of the children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit and the Son given to them, are under his Fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow heirs with Christ in glory."  We are accepted, sealed, accompanied by God's presence in our lives, cared for, and have been given a godly inheritance.  We are not strangers, and aliens destined for death- but heirs destined for the abundant life now and the eternal life forever. The term "Abba" is described by Chrysostom and Cyril as an Aramaic endearing term similar to "Daddy."  Christians are taught that God is not so distant from us that He does not care.  Rather God came to adopt us that we might be His children, his heirs.  The love of God is an amazing thing.  God loves us despite who we are, not because of who we are.  He calls us to simply own and claim his adoption. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your great love that shows itself in your offer of adoption.  Help me to recognize your love and claim it as my own. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

4/22/12- Adoption

WSC Q. 34- What is adoption?
Adoption is a free act of God's grace, in which we are received into the family, and have a right to all the privileges of the children of God.

(Jesus and the little children- carl Bloch)

How great the love of the Father is given unto us that we should be called the children of God. (1 John 3:1)
In love He predestined us to be adopted. (Eph. 1:5)
Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles themselves as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of God.  (Mt. 18:3,4)

Thoughts: We must humble ourselves like children in order to be made children of the heavenly Father.   The great news is that God loves us- and desires that we call Him "father."  Jesus says to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven."  God wants us to know Him as father.  There are many who have fathers genetically but not relationally- they do not know their own fathers- perhaps because the father has distanced himself- or failures have separated them.  But God calls us back to Himself- though we are enemies of Him (Rom. 9:5).  He not only calls us- but welcomes us- as the father welcomed the prodigal son.  God adopts us into His family when we have faith.  In a sense God is the father of all people- having made all people.  He pours His rain and sun on the just and the unjust.  He expects us to treat all humans with respect, grace and love as our neighbor made in His image.  Yet many disown Him as Father.  In fact, we all do.  But God welcomes us back not only because He made us, but because He died for us to reconcile us to God.  In love He calls us to be a part of the family of love.

Prayer: Father, may I not take your love for granted, but respond to it in gratitude.

Friday, April 20, 2012

4/21/12- Not all are Children of God

4/20/12- WSC Q. 32- What rewards do those who are really called by God obtain in this life?
A. Those who are really and effectively called by God obtain justification, adoption, sanctification and the several other awards that come with or from them.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the children of God. (1 John 3:1).

You are of your father the devil.  (John 8:44)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

(Jesus and the children)

Thoughts: In some ways God is father of us all.  He makes each of us.  As part of creation, He provides for us- making His grace to fall on the just and the unjust.  His father's call is offered to all people- to come back to Him.
    But we cannot overlook that some have obviously rejected his fatherhood.  Some have disowned God and refuse to listen to Him or claim Him.  In fact, we all disown God's fatherhood by doing wrong.  The Bible says, and we experience, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  Sin ultimately is against God who defines right and wrong by Himself (and thus by His creation and Word).  Jesus even said to those who were rejecting him that they belonged to their father the devil.
    Now without knowing that God is our father, we do not know who we are or whose we are.  Without knowing that God loves us, we have forgotten a key ingredient and hide the blessing of God from ourselves.  Without knowing that God has made us for a reason- a purpose- we struggle to find an eternal purpose in this life.  Without knowing that God loves us as a father- we are alone in the universe.  

    But Jesus teaches His disciples to pray..."Our father..."   It is a loving gift to know that God did not just make us way back when, but cares for us today.  It is truly a gift to know God desires us to talk and pray to Him- and that it is possible to communicate with God.  

Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name.  TYhy kingdom come thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

4/20/12- The Benefits of the Real Call of God

4/20/12- WSC Q. 32- What rewards do those who are really called by God obtain in this life?
A. Those who are really and effectively called by God obtain justification, adoption, sanctification and the several other awards that come with or from them.

 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12,13)

(Butterfly becoming a new creation- emerging)

Thoughts: When God calls us to follow Him (the "effectual" or "real" call of God)- it is not a fake call, or a faint call- but a real call upon our souls to come to Him.  Our souls answer the call of God by responding to Him.  The three benefits of salvation in this life are the acceptance of God, the belonging to God, and the growing in faith in God.  Accepting, belonging, and growing are signs of life responding to His life.
   The benefits of following God do not all occur in the next life.  Eternal life does not begin after we die.  The new creation begins when we are enabled and do respond to Christ in faith.  Often this is described as "when we become a Christian" or "accept Christ as our Lord and Savior."  We are the same physical person basically, but our spirits are made alive, and we see life, God, and others differently.  It is not that we are by nature better people.  In ourselves, in our own power, talents, and ability we cannot respond to Christ.  So we come to Him humbly, thanking Him for enabling by calling us and opening our ears and hearts to respond to Him.  Christians are not simply people of another world somehow stuck here.  But this world is a gift from God to all human beings.  Christians are called to understand that the world is not their oyster, but they are put here to be good stewards of their time, talents and gifts in the world.  God calls us beyond ourselves to turn toward Him.

Prayer: Help me see, Lord that this world is not all about my simply improving, but my heeding your call and turning toward you both in this life and the next.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WSC. 31. What is effective calling?

A. Effective calling is the work of God's Spirit by which he convinces us of our sin and misery, enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, and so persuades and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

By the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5)

(Jacob and Rachel Joseph von Fuhrich)

It is the will that must be renewed.  What is so foreign to those who don't believe is how anyone could want to and enjoy following and serving Christ.  For so many Christ is the Pale Galilean kill joy.  Instead Christ must be set free from these metaphors to be the One who shows us what it is like to live a meaningful, purposeful existence. It is not that Jesus is sad all the time or laughing all the time- but He is purposeful all of the time.  He is the giver of peace.  But it is the Holy Spirit who makes this peace real to us.  He washes our will with a special wake-up fluid.  It is like the fluid that put on a sheet full of invisible ink writing shows the ink up.  The Spirit energizes our "want to" our "will to" so that serving the Lord is not a task but our real joy.  When someone is in love, serving the one they love is not a task but what they want to do.  I think of Jacob "who served seven years for Rachel, but they were like only a few days because of his love for her."  (Gen. 29:20).  The Spirit renews our wills for God- and the sign of that is a love and thirst for more of God, and a delight in Him.  Someone in love cannot get enough of being with the other person.  So, someone in love with God comes to worship, whereas someone whose love is growing cold is staying away more and more.  

Prayer: May my soul seek your presence, O Lord.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

4/18/12- The Spirit Convicts

WSC. 31. What is effective calling?

A. Effective calling is the work of God's Spirit by which he convinces us of our sin and misery, enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, and so persuades and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[a] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12,13)

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Eph. 6:17)

Thoughts: The Spirit is often perceived as a source of power (Jehovah's Witnesses call the Holy Spirit an energy like electricity).  Some see the Spirit as a source of comfort and counsel.  But the Spirit is the "Holy" Spirit who convicts us when we are not holy.  
    The Spirit often uses the Word of God- "the sword of the Spirit."  The Spirit inspired the scriptures and also illuminates the scriptures to make them not just words, but the Word of God for us.  The scriptures convict us if we have ears to hear. If we do cannot listen, we will not understand.  The scriptures speak of one of the most evil times as being at the end of history- a time of rebellion when people will not listen to the Spirits rebuke- and will not repent of sin (2 Tim. 3; Rev. 3,9).
    It is a blessing from God to be able to be convicted.  A pig has to know the pig pen is a mess in order to leave it.  One of the steps toward salvation (especially of an adult) is to recognize that our situation on earth needs changing and we begin to desire another world with a real God.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

4/17/12- definition of effectual calling

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3) 

WSC. 31. What is effective calling?

A. Effective calling is the work of God's Spirit by which he convinces us of our sin and misery, enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, and so persuades and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Thoughts: God's call to us is real- the most real thing we ever experience.  He wakes us up to Him. 

The Spirit convicts us of sin, and shows us God's way.  The Spirit renews, persuades, and enables us to respond to God.  The free offer of the gospel means little to us until we are enabled and renewed to respond.

Prayer: You, O Lord are worthy of praise for you call and draw me to yourself.

WSC Q. 31- What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and mercy, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered us in the gospel.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

4/15/12- A Remnant

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.(Romans 11:1,5) 

(Jesus can take a remnant and make a quilt)

The word "remnant" is an important concept in the Bible.  it is used about 65 times.  John Calvin said that God will always leave at least a remnant of the church until the end of history.  A remnant is a sign of God's grace.  One of the key verses about a remnant is Isaiah 9:2 that speaks of a shoot coming forth from the stump of Jesse.  Images of a remnant are a leftover piece of cloth that is used to make a quilt; or a ruined building whose stones are used to make a new one; or a severely pruned tree or bush.  But the point of a remnant is a pruning time where the cut back is meant to be a healthy choice. 
    In American and western culture, the church was once strong.  There was once a universal consensus by people or the rulers that the Christian truth provided common values and shared commitments.  In America, 3500 to 4,000 churches will close their doors this year.  About 1,000 new churches will get started.  Over half the churches in America will not have a single adult convert this year.  The church is shrinking for many reasons, but one major one is that so many have a lack of faith.  A church without faith will not grow and prosper and have purpose.  But more importantly a church without faith will not be near to God.
   The challenge of a remnant is two fold.  A Remnant by definition remains.  It remains true to God and true to its calling.  So Elijah was part of a remnant of 7,000.  Jeremiah was part of a remnant of a few.  Jesus was part of a remnant.  Paul said the New Testament church was a remnant (Romans 11).
    The second challenge of a remnant is to not just stay true to itself, but to begin to bear fruit.  A remnant begins to turn things around when it begins to grow and bear fruit, and multiply.  A remnant is not so concerned about political power or influence.  It is concerned about survival, remaining true, and witnessing.  For the people talking about a church not looking at survival, they are wrong.  Churches need to focus on God, but also have their survival in mind.  The church survives by reaching out, by continually being open to others and seeking to please God. 

Prayer: Lord, let me be a part of the remnant.  Help me to be true to you- salt and light.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

4/14/12- The Spirit Calls us- to Worship

WSC Q 30- How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A: The Spirit applies Christ's purchased redemption to us by working faith in us, and thus uniting us to Christ in our real calling. 

("Adoration of the Lamb" Jan Van Eyck- 1429 Ghent altarpiece)

 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23,24)

 “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)

Thoughts: Many are called- but few are chosen.  Tonight many will be called to go to bed early and wake up to do the most important thing of their week- to worship God.  The Spirit tugs at us, pulls us toward worship.  If you think about it, that more people will go to church tomorrow than go to all the NBA games combined, or all the NFL football games combined, or all the viewers of the nightly news combined, it is amazing.  I think it is a miracle every week- a miracle of the Spirit. The Spirit calls us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
     If the Spirit didn't call- if worship was just a human creation, why would anyone come?
One of the ways that the Spirit applies to us Christ's redemption is calling us to leave the secondary things of life and give God His worth- our time, our attention, our focus, ourselves.  The word "worship" is from the Old English "worthyship."  It means giving God His worth.  The Spirit calls us to honor our Redeemer because He is worthy.

Prayer: Worthy are you, O Lord, to receive my worship, my worth.  All that I am I owe to you for you not only made me, but you redeem me, and you graciously call me. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

4/14/12- Our Real and Effectual Calling

WSC Q 30- How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A: The Spirit applies Christ's purchased redemption to us by working faith in us, and thus uniting us to Christ in our real calling.

24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

(Crowd calling out)

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
   To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by[a] Jesus Christ: (Jude 1:1)

Thoughts: The Call of God is Effectual.  When God calls us to wake up, we are awakened.  The Spirit makes the call of God real to us- by allowing us to hear it and to respond to it.  When the Spirit calls us to God, we come.  It is a real calling as distinguished from ineffectual and false calls upon us from the world.
    There are many calls upon us.  Things, people, events, companies call upon our time, our efforts, and our lives.  They call us away from what is important to what is urgent. Our real calling in life- is to respond to Christ.  Our main goal is to answer the call of our Maker upon our life.  His call is the everlasting, most important call to our soul to respond to His love.  

Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear your call, and a heart to respond.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

4/13/12- Union with Christ

WSC Q 30- How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A: The Spirit applies Christ's purchased redemption to us by working faith in us, and thus uniting us to Christ in our real calling.

 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, (Ephesians 2:12-14)

Thoughts: The Holy Spirit draws us to Christ.  The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ.  We who were far away from Christ, and far away from each other, are drawn to each other in a special communion- a tie that binds.  We become one in Christ and one with Christ.  He is the head of our body.  He is the pioneer for the rest of us. He is the elder brother who goes before us- clearing the path- the path through the gate of death into life.  He is the cornerstone of our building- of which we are building blocks.  We are a part of the same building- the same movement.  We link ourselves to Him, and He leads us to salvation.  
We become one with Him when we accept Him into our lives- which is in itself a gift.
      We do not come to Christ in a vacuum-- all on our own.  We know the choices we make are complicated with influences of our environment (do we get to hear about Christ- which is not usually up to us), and our tendencies and preferences (often shaped from our genes- again of which we have no control).  But when we are drawn to choose Christ, we unite ourselves with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church- His body- of whom He is the Head.  Communion- or the Eucharist- is a sign of our oneness.  Singing together, praying together, focusing together in worship are also signs of our oneness with Him that makes us brothers and sisters with each other.  We are all in the same stream, all in the same family, all pulling in the same direction. We not only have the same Lord and Head.  But all of us are under the same-one- baptism.  We share the same trust and faith with each other- but that He shares.  We share our mutual burdens and sorrows but also our joys and blessings.  We are drawn to each other as a magnet draws steel together.
     We are of one mind and one communication and in agreement.  Despite what the world sees of the divisions, in Christ's eyes the invisible church is one- different branches on the same tree.  We pray to the same God, and know the same Great Friend in conversation, sharing even the same Word from Him.  We abide in Him and He in us, and thus we abide with each other.  The unity in Christ is deeper and longer than any earthly union.  In heaven this invisible unity will be seen.  He is the center- on the throne at the vortex of the circle of love in heaven.  

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to cherish my union with you and with others who believe in you.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


WSC Q 30- How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A: The Spirit applies Christ's purchased redemption to us by working faith in us, and thus uniting us to Christ in our real calling.

It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh does not profit. (John 6:63)

 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)

Thoughts: We are not born again by faith, or repentance, or conversion, but we repent and believe because we have been regenerated.  The effects of regeneration are faith and repentance, but these effects cannot be separated from regeneration.  They all go together.  Christ calls us to Himself and calls us to his salvation- but the Spirit enables us to hear Christ's real and effectual call.  Jesus often speaks of having ears to hear but not hearing.  It is the Spirit who opens our ears. 

Prayer: Open my ears and heart to respond to your call to me, O Lord.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

4/11/12- Claiming our Winnings

WSC Q. 29- How can we share in this redemption that Christ purchased for us?
A. The Holy Spirit makes real to us the redemption purchased by Christ. 

 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:1-5)

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)

Thoughts: Christ purchased us on the cross.  His sacrifice covered our sins.  It is a great gift that enriches us for eternity, yet if we do not claim the gift- and in effect remain asleep (or dead) to it, then it does us no good.
   This week Maryland's Mega-million Lottery numbers were drawn.  For a long time, no one came forward to claim it.  What a shame- some thought to have a prize, but not claim it.  Truth is, we all- each one of us- has a prize worth far more than anything money can buy- eternal life.  Our way has been purchased for us by Christ, but many of us do not claim what He has offered to us.
     The passages above say we are dead to God, and the Spirit makes us alive to Him.  It is like the Spirit gives us the claim number- and encourages us to come forward. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, open my heart and life to what Christ has done.