Saturday, May 31, 2014

6/1/13- Perfection of the Law

We confess and acknowledge that the law of God is most just, equal, holy, and perfect, commanding those things which, when perfectly done, can give life and bring man to eternal felicity; but our nature is so corrupt, weak, and imperfect, that we are never able perfectly to fulfill the works of the law. Even after we are reborn, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth of God is not in us. (Scots Confession 13a).

The Law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul.  The testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple. (Psalm 119)

Thoughts: If we were perfect people, we could go to the perfect place and be with God. The Law tells us how to please God and to live the life we ought to live.
    But we are only human.  Our nature is to disobey the Law and even to think we know better than the Law. In our day, our tendency is to say the Law is so outdated and that we moderns know better about the root and soul of humanity than the ancients- and we can just toss out all scripture.
     We know we will never perfectly fulfill the Law, so many of us give up on keeping it at all.  Yet, we should not try to be so apathetic.  The grace of God can give us strength to appreciate small things if we will be see then.

Prayer: Lord, Help me to be guided by your Law so that I might live my life well.

Friday, May 30, 2014

5/31/14 Disobedience

 Acts to the contrary are sins, which always displease him and provoke him to anger, such as, not to call upon him alone when we have need, not to hear his Word with reverence, but to condemn and despise it, to have or worship idols, to maintain and defend idolatry, lightly to esteem the reverend name of God, to profane, abuse, or condemn the sacraments of Christ Jesus, to disobey or resist any whom God has placed in authority, so long as they do not exceed the bounds of their office, to murder, or to consent thereto, to bear hatred, or to let innocent blood be shed if we can prevent it. In conclusion, we confess and affirm that the breach of any other commandment of the first or second kind is sin, by which God's anger and displeasure are kindled against the proud, unthankful world. So that we affirm good works to be those alone which are done in faith and at the command of God who, in his law, has set forth the things that please him. We affirm that evil works are not only those expressly done against God's command, but also, in religious matters and the worship of God, those things which have no other warrant than the invention and opinion of man. From the beginning God has rejected such, as we learn from the words of the prophet Isaiah and of our master, Christ Jesus, "In vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and commandments of men." (Scots 1560 12b)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:6) 

Thoughts: Just as many peopie don't like to think of wrath, the newest thing to ignore is disobedience to God.  But in the creed above Knox hammers those who are disobedient.   Disobedience is defined as not worshipping, praying, being ungrateful, pride, breaking God's command, and inventing worship.  

Prayer: Help me Lord, to listen to you and not go my own way.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

5/30/14- Obedience

We confess and acknowledge that God has given to man his holy law, in which not only all such works as displease and offend his godly majesty are forbidden, but also those which please him and which he has promised to reward are commanded. These works are of two kinds. The one is done to the honor of God, the other to the profit of our neighbor, and both have the revealed word of God as their assurance. To have one God, to worship and honor him, to call upon him in all our troubles, to reverence his holy Name, to hear his Word and to believe it, and to share in his holy sacraments, belong to the first kind. To honor father, mother, princes, rulers, and superior powers; to love them, to support them, to obey their orders if they are not contrary to the commands of God, to save the lives of the innocent, to repress tyranny, to defend the oppressed, to keep our bodies clean and holy, to live in soberness and temperance, to deal justly with all men in word and deed, and, finally, to repress any desire to harm our neighbor, are the good works of the second kind, and these are most pleasing and acceptable to God as he has commanded them himself. (Scots 12a)

32So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. (Dt. 5:32,33)

Thoughts: We live in a time in which people are not so worried about pleasing God as they are concerned that God please them.  In such an environment, there is a neglect and even a distrust of the Law of God.  As we trust our own hearts, we forget to trust God.  But our hearts are deceitful, blind to our own faults, and quit to excuse and justify our behavior.  God's Law is given to teach us the way we are designed.  It has been proven over thousands of years, yet now we feel like we are much smarter and knowledgeable so that we justify our disobedience with our prideful knowledge.
    Knox reminds us that the Law teaches us how to please God.  Knox speaks specifically about the Ten Commandments that speak of how to honor God and how to benefit our neighbors.  Knox adds some wrinkles in his interpretation.  For example, to believe in one God and to respect His name implies that we would call upon His holy name and respect His Word.  These are part of the first order of honoring God. 

   Living in kindness, working against tyranny, yet obeying the just ruler is important.  A second set is to "keep our body clean and holy."  Perhaps this 1569 document inspired the 1760 statement of Benjamin Franklin that cleanliness is next to godliness.  To keep ourselve sober and temperate would allow us to think and hear clearly the Word of God.
    To be just and not harm our neighbor are also two clear implications from the Ten Commands.  

Prayer: Lord, give me a heart that wants to respond to you.  Give me ears to hear and a deep love for you.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5/29/14- The Cause of Good II

Thence comes that continual battle which is between the flesh and Spirit in God's children, while the flesh and the natural man, being corrupt, lust for things pleasant and delightful to themselves, are envious in adversity and proud in prosperity, and every moment prone and ready to offend the majesty of God. But the Spirit of God, who bears witness to our spirit that we are the sons of God, makes us resist filthy pleasures and groan in God's presence for deliverance from this bondage of corruption, and finally to triumph over sin so that it does not reign in our mortal bodies. Other men do not share this conflict since they do not have God's Spirit, but they readily follow and obey sin and feel no regrets, since they act as the devil and their corrupt nature urge. But the sons of God fight against sin; sob and mourn when they find themselves tempted to do evil; and, if they fall, rise again with earnest and unfeigned repentance. They do these things, not by their own power, but by the power of the Lord Jesus, apart from whom they can do nothing. (Scots 11b- The Cause of Good Works)

Apart from me you can do nothing.  (John 15)

13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.f And by him we cry, “Abba,gFather.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:13-16)

Thoughts :Fight the good fight of the faith.  The Spirit of God is continually fighting against our earthly desires.  The Spirit enables us to overcome- and be led by Him into green pastures and still waters.  Apart from God's power, we are dead in our sins with no desire to do good.  God gives us the desire and the power to do good.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, lead me and enable me to do your good work to make this world a better place.

The Holy Spirit is like the power station that enables us to go. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Spirit and Good Works

The cause of good works, we confess, is not our free will, but the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, who dwells in our hearts by true faith, brings forth such works as God has prepared for us to walk in. For we most boldly affirm that it is blasphemy to say that Christ abides in the hearts of those in whom is no spirit of sanctification. Therefore we do not hesitate to affirm that murderers, oppressors, cruel persecutors, adulterers, filthy persons, idolaters, drunkards, thieves, and all workers of iniquity, have neither true faith nor anything of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, so long as they obstinately continue in wickedness. For as soon as the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, whom God's chosen children receive by true faith, takes possession of the heart of any man, so soon does he regenerate and renew him, so that he begins to hate what before he loved, and to love what he hated before. (Scott's Confession 12a)

Thoughts: The cause of Good Works is not our inward fortitude or determination.  We commend ourselves too much if we think that we do good all on our own.  The Holy Spirit inspires us to do good.  The Spirit awakens and energizes us to do good.  Knox also points out that when we persist in wickedness it is a sign that the Spirit (and therefore true belief) is absent.  To continue unrepentant in wickedness is a sign of disregard for God and righteousness and the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit helps us to love the way of God, and to hate the behavior and evil that God hates.

Prayer: Lord, help me to love what you love.  Help me to be full of your Holy Spirit that I may choose the good- the way of holiness over the way of selfishness.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Spirit Ignites Us and Keeps us Burning as a Light

And so, as we confess that God the Father created us when we were not, as his Son our Lord Jesus redeemed us when we were enemies to him, so also do we confess that the Holy Ghost does sanctify and regenerate us, without respect to any merit proceeding from us, be it before or after our regeneration. To put this even more plainly; as we willingly disclaim any honor and glory from our own creation and redemption, so do we willingly also for our regeneration and sanctification; for by ourselves we are not capable of thinking one good thought, but he who has begun the work in us alone continues us in it, to the praise and glory of his undeserved grace. (Scots Confession 11 b)

He who began a good work in you will be careful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6)

Thoughts; God takes what is not and makes it into something.  He is the only one who can create out of nothing (ex nihilo).  Everyone else uses materials provided by God.  Jesus enables a way for us to have a relationship with God- where there was no way before.  The Spirit awakens us to God- when we were asleep to Him By ourselves we cannot wake up to God.  The Spirit is not only our alarm clock- He is the lifeguard who does mouth to mouth resuscitation and shocks our hearts. The Spirit who wakes us will sustain and sanctify us until we make it home.

Prayer: Spirit- work in me- ignite me that I may burn for you as a bright flame of hope and faith.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

5/26/14 The Spirit of Regeneration

Our faith and its assurance do not proceed from flesh and blood, that is to say, from natural powers within us, but are the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; whom we confess to be God, equal with the Father and with his Son, who sanctifies us, and brings us into all truth by his own working, without whom we should remain forever enemies to God and ignorant of his Son, Christ Jesus. For by nature we are so dead, blind, and perverse, that neither can we feel when we are pricked, see the light when it shines, nor assent to the will of God when it is revealed, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus quicken that which is dead, remove the darkness from our minds, and bow our stubborn hearts to the obedience of his blessed will. (Scots Confession 12a)

5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, (Titus 3:5,6)

Thoughts: We are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:6).  Dead people do not choose to see God on their own.  It is God's Spirit that quickens us- regenerates us- opens our eyes to God so that we are able to respond to His grace.  Knox reminds us that the same Spirit who enables us to respond is the Spirit who gives us assurance of our salvation.  The Sanctus Spiritus sanctifies us- makes us holy, and inspires us to be holy. The One who inspires Holy Scripture inspires holy living and holy assurance.  The Spirit is the energizer who empowers us to respond, and empowers us to know we have responded to God Himself.  

Prayer: Holy Spirit, shape me, melt me, mold me, fill me.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

5/25/14- Second Coming

And then, we firmly believe, the time of refreshing and restitution of all things shall come, so that those who from the beginning have suffered violence, injury, and wrong, for righteousness' sake, shall inherit that blessed immortality promised them from the beginning. But, on the other hand, the stubborn, disobedient, cruel persecutors, filthy persons, idolaters, and all sorts of the unbelieving, shall be cast into the dungeon of utter darkness, where their worm shall not die, nor their fire be quenched. The remembrance of that day, and of the Judgment to be executed in it, is not only a bridle by which our carnal lusts are restrained but also such inestimable comfort that neither the threatening of worldly princes, nor the fear of present danger or of temporal death, may move us to renounce and forsake that blessed society which we, the members, have with our Head and only Mediator, Christ Jesus: whom we confess and avow to be the promised Messiah, the only Head of his Kirk, our just Lawgiver, our only High Priest, Advocate, and Mediator. To which honors and offices, if man or angel presume to intrude themselves, we utterly detest and abhor them, as blasphemous to our sovereign and supreme Governor, Christ Jesus. (Scots Confession 11b)

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a person is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)

5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.7Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:5-8)

17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
20He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Thoughts: History is held accountable by God.  Human history does not go on irresponsibly as if no one holds it to account in a steady yet decaying state.  Someone asked, "Why doesn't God do something about all the evil in the world?"  One day God will.  But God's holding us to account is not to be feared by those who long for His appearing.  But those who think they do not need to seek holiness, or seek to be pure or seek to follow God in their behavior and words are setting themselves up as false self-gods.  We cannot honor God with our lips and have our hearts and behavior far from Him.  When those who love darkness wish to snuff out the lights of Christ- we look for the Great Light to come and expose the darkness for what it is.  But those who reflect the light of Christ long for The Light to come back in full array and glory.

Prayer: Come Lord Jesus.  Come and set us straight.  Come and fulfill the hope of all who wait on you.  Come and fulfill the faithfulness to the martyrs.  Come soon so that we will see what is truly important.  Come in your full mercy and grace- but come also with your full holiness and truth. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

5/23/14- Ascension

We do not doubt but that the selfsame body which was born of the virgin, was crucified, dead, and buried, and which did rise again, did ascend into the heavens, for the accomplishment of all things, where in our name and for our comfort he has received all power in heaven and earth, where he sits at the right hand of the Father, having received his kingdom, the only advocate and mediator for us. Which glory, honor, and prerogative, he alone amongst the brethren shall possess till all his enemies are made his footstool, as we undoubtedly believe they shall be in the Last Judgment (Scots Confession 11a).

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

Thoughts: Knox links the ascension of Christ to the second coming of Christ.  Both are spiritual and supernatural things that involve the body of Christ.  If there was no ascension- with the going up to a position of power, there would be no returning from heaven with power.  His ascension awaits the accomplishment of "all things" meaning that everything that should happen before he comes again.
     In very court-like imagery Christ is seen as ascending to the position of power (the right hand of the judge) he is our advocate/lawyer- who mediates our case to the righteous judge.  

      Knox says Christ not only has glory and honor but also "prerogative."  Jesus alone has a true choice not influenced by other choices.  He awaits not only the accomplishment of all things, but also the defeat of His enemies.  This implies a belief that Knox thought the world would get better and better til the Lord comes back. 

Prayer: You deserve praise because you ascended.  We look forward to your coming again, O Lord, to set things straight.  


Thursday, May 22, 2014

5/23/14- The Resurrection

We undoubtedly believe, since it was impossible that the sorrows of death should retain in bondage the Author of life, that our Lord Jesus crucified, dead, and buried, who descended into hell, did rise again for our justification, and the destruction of him who was the author of death and its bondage. We know that his resurrection was confirmed by the testimony of his enemies, and by the resurrection of the dead, whose sepulchers did open, and they did rise and appear to many within the city of Jerusalem. It was also confirmed by the testimony of his angels, and by the senses and judgment of his apostles and of others, who had conversation, and did eat and drink with him after his resurrection. (Scots Confession Chapter 10)

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Cor. 15:57)

Thoughts: Some think of the resurrection as impossible.  Knox points out that it is impossible for the one who gave life to have it taken away permanently.  On the way to the resurrection, he justified us and destroys the power of the devil (here called "the author of death") and the bondage of death that keeps us from eternal life.  Knox emphasizes the surprising testimonies to Christ's resurrection: angels, devils, and others who rose from the dead at his death.  The apostles didn't just see Jesus, but they talked with Him, ate and drank with Him.

Prayer: You, indeed, are the resurrection and the life.  I give you thanks for your gift of life now and in the life to come. Thank you for the assurances you give me that help me focus on you with hope.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5/22/14- The Sufficient Sacrifice of Christ

But yet we avow that he remained the only, well beloved, and blessed Son of his Father even in the midst of his anguish and torment which he suffered in body and soul to make full atonement for the sins of his people. From this we confess and avow that there remains no other sacrifice for sin; if any affirm so, we do not hesitate to say that they are blasphemers against Christ's death and the everlasting atonement thereby purchased for us. (Scots 7b)

23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:23,24)

Thoughts: The uniqueness of Christ leads to the uniqueness of His ability to sacrifice for us.  Jesus is the one and only Son and as such has the one and only tie to the Father so that His love overcomes our sin.  Knox is careful to guard against the idea that another saint can sacrifice or pay for our sins.  He is careful to evade the idea that Good Works (or indulgences) can some how pay for our sins.  To bring another payment to the Father would imply that His Son's death is somehow not precious enough.  His sacrifice is sufficient and therefore precious and sweet to us. 

Prayer:  Lord, your sacrifice is special to the Father, but it is also special to me.  Keep me from trying to add to it and thereby taking away from it.  

(Ghent altarpiece- in the movie "The Monuments Men" this piece was said to be the centerpiece of catholic culture.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5/21/14- Innocent for the Guilty

That our Lord Jesus offered himself a voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us, that he suffered contradiction of sinners, that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressions, that he, the clean innocent Lamb of God, was condemned in the presence of an earthly judge, that we should be absolved before the judgment seat of our God; that he suffered not only the cruel death of the cross, which was accursed by the sentence of God; but also that he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father which sinners had deserved. (Scots Confession IX a)

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of he world. (John 1:29)

Thoughts: Knox gives us a gift of language.  For example he doesn't just say Christ was wounded for our transgressions (as Isaiah 53 says), but that he was "plagued" for our transgressions as well. The Lamb was not only innocent but was "clean."  Knox makes the Word of God come to life by his comments.  We are absolved before the earthly judge.  The death on the cross, Knox reminds us, was cruel and accursed. Knox is using all his vocabulary to describe the stark contrast between the innocent and the guilty- the clean and those who wallow in the filth of sin.  In our day, in the West, we think that God is guilty and we are innocent.  In our day we muddy the waters so that our deserved sin is excused and we grow numb to its shame and awfulness.  But the stark contrast is the innocent Christ gave Himself for our deserved guilt.

Prayer: Lord, your grace is amazing.  You give to me when I injure you.  We do not deserve your unending love.

(Agnus Dei- Lambof God)

Monday, May 19, 2014

5/20/14- Christ the Mediator

Further, it behooved the Messiah and Redeemer to be true God and true man, because he was able to undergo the punishment of our transgressions and to present himself in the presence of his Father's judgment, as in our stead, to suffer for our transgression and disobedience, and by death to overcome him that was the author of death. But because the Godhead alone could not suffer death, and neither could manhood overcome death, he joined both together in one person, that the weakness of one should suffer and be subject to death--which we had deserved--and the infinite and invincible power of the other, that is, of the Godhead, should triumph, and purchase for us life, liberty, and perpetual victory. So we confess, and most undoubtedly believe. (Scots Confession VIb)

 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all people.  (1 Timothy 2:5,6)

Thoughts: Knox focuses on the plan of God for our salvation involving Jesus as a mediator.  Knox specifically explains one aspect of how a God-man was needed for our salvation.  It was only in this perfect combination, Knox points out,  that death was allowed (as Jesus was human) and overcome (as Jesus was God).  As a human, Jesus could die as a sacrifice in our place.   As God, this death would not last.  Knox relishes in the plan, and we should also praise God for the brilliance and perfection of His plan.  

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for becoming human, and for caring so much for us to the very core of your being.  

(Mediator reconciling two parties)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

5/19/14- Before the world began

That same eternal God and Father, who by grace alone chose us in his Son Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world was laid, appointed him to be our head, our brother, our pastor, and the great bishop of our souls. But since the opposition between the justice of God and our sins was such that no flesh by itself could or might have attained unto God, it behooved the Son of God to descend unto us and take himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, and so become the Mediator between God and man, giving power to as many as believe in him to be the sons of God; as he himself says, "I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God." By this most holy brotherhood whatever we have lost in Adam is restored to us again. Therefore we are not afraid to call God our Father, not so much because he has created us, which we have in common with the reprobate, as because he has given unto us his only Son to be our brother, and given us grace to acknowledge and embrace him as our only Mediator  (Scots VI)

20Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, (Hebrews 13:20)

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5heb predestined us for adoption to sonshipc through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  (Ephesians 1:4,5)

Thoughts: Knox emphasizes that we are thought of and elected before the foundations of the world.  Christ is not only our leader, but the one who came down to assume our flesh.  He uses the words of Genesis and the woman: "bone of bones, flesh of flesh."  Christ tied himself to humanity not only by creation, but by becoming human.  When we are united to Christ (in faith), we are tied to His salvation.  Jesus enables us to call God "Our Father."  

Prayer: Thank you Lord for your everlasting love, and your care.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

5/18/14- The Decrees of God

We acknowledge and confess that this wonderful union between the Godhead and the humanity in Christ Jesus did arise from the eternal and immutable decree of God from which all our salvation springs and depends. (Scots Confession VI- 1560).

[Westminster Shorter Catechism: What are the decrees of God? A: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will,  whereby for his own glory, he has ordained whatsoever comes to pass. ]

God said, "Let there be light" and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

33Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? (Romans 11:33,34)

Thoughts: The decrees of God was an important concept in the second wave of the Reformation.  This has a lot to do with the reverence the Reformers had for the scriptures- the written Word of God.  God speaks (or decrees) and things happen.  The decrees and Word of the Lord are tied eternally to the purpose and mind of the Lord.
   In this paragraph, Knox calls these decrees "eternal" and "immutable."  In contrast to some Process Theologians today, the Reformers believed when God did something we can count on it.  God's promises (unlike human ones) do not waver, change with whim or mood- for God knows all things and what is best.  The Reformers saw order and purpose despite the chaos and suffering of their day.  In an unreliable day, they knew they could count on God.  

    Knox spends a whole paragraph of his creed on this very pungent and concise statement.  The reason Jesus is both God and man is simply because it was God's purpose for it to be this way for our salvation.  God was seeking a way to save us- to help us- to rescue us from the problems and horrors of sin-- so He purposed the God-man.  Our salvation began in the very nature of God- which is eternal and unchangeable.  God is not good one minute and evil the next.  God is good- all the time.  
    Perhaps in our day we might listen and submit to God more.   We have a tendency to tell God how it should be, when we do not know all the factors or the future.  God does, and has done something about our past, present and future through Jesus Christ.  God's trying to fix things began before the first sin, or before we were ever made.  

Prayer: Lord, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.  You know all things and have designed in your very being, a way to love and rescue us.  Help us to love you and listen to you in return.  

Town Crier reading a decree

5/16/14- Pat Griffin

21“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Mt. 25:21)

Thoughts: One of my friends and colleagues in ministry died and his funeral was tonight- Rev. Dr. Pat Griffin.  He was an extraordinary pastor.  He loved to visit people.  Pat overcame tremendous problems to live his life well and in a productive way.  He encouraged people and there was not a more faithful person that I know of.  He was loyal and compassionate- and in that sense a great pastor.  I will miss my friend Pat.  Saints are not just those in pictures or those enshrined by the church.  Some people set good examples for us in different ways.  I am sure he is hearing the words of Christ in his ear: "Well done good and faithful servant." 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for saints in this life who overcome problems and mistakes to live their lives well.  Raise up other laborers for your kingdom, Lord.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

5/17/14- False doctrine denied

 So by our Confession, we condemn the damnable and pestilent heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, Nestorius, and such others as did either deny the eternity of his Godhead, or the truth of his humanity, or confounded them, or else divided them. (Scots Confession Vb)

Scripture: You shall have no other gods before me.  Exodus 20

I and the Father are one.  (John 10:30)

Thoughts: Truth and non-truth cannot be true at the same time.  As believers wrestled with what they did believe, they learned both from scripture and how they experienced God, some things and deeply knew some things were not true.  Here the Scots Confession denies some old heresies that continually pop up.
    Arius was a bishop in Egypt who emphasized the truth that Jesus "was the firsborn of all creation" to the point that he denied the eternity of Christ.  The Jehovah Witnesses cling to a similar belief today.
    Marcion denied the Old Testament as scripture and also the physical, earthly nature of Christ.
     Eutyches is widely considered a leader in the monophysite religion that Christ only had one nature after the incarnation.
     Nestorius- basically believed that Jesus existed in two persons, not necessarily united.
     There are many who try to adapt the Bible to their own way of thinking, but we would do well to listen to the scriptures on this.

Prayer: Lord, help me to hear who you are in scripture.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

5/15/14- The Person of Jesus Christ

When the fullness of time came God sent his Son, his eternal wisdom, the substance of his own glory, into this world, who took the nature of humanity from the substance of a woman, a virgin, by means of the Holy Ghost. And so was born the "just seed of David," the "Angel of the great counsel of God," the very Messiah promised, whom we confess and acknowledge to be Emmanuel, true God and true man, two perfect natures united and joined in one person.

4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.… (Galatians 4:4,5)

Thoughts: Knox elaborates on the person of Christ on this section on the Incarnation of Christ.  Jesus is:
1) The Son- of the same essence and mind as the Father, yet separate.
2) His eternal wisdom- The Word (logos) of God is also the wisdom coming from God to us.
3) The substance of His glory- Jesus is the radiance of God's glory of the same essence/substance.
4) Took on the nature of humanity- Jesus was both divine and human. 

5) A Virgin by means of the Holy Ghost- The Spirit enabled Mary to conceive.  This was a both a supernatural and theological statement.  Jesus was not an ordinary human- but extraordinary.
6) Just seed of David- Jesus was from the line of David- and was the way in which David's line continues to rule. 

7) Angel of the Great Counsel of God- Jesus is the "messenger" (Angel means messenger) of God's great news of grace and care.  He is the Living message- the Living Word but also the Living Messenger. 
8) Messiah- anointed one- appointed and called to be our savior. 
9) Emmanuel- God with us- abiding and dwelling with us. 
10) True God and true man- not half and half;  not one more than the other- but fully of each. 
11) Two perfect natures united in one person- He was not two different beings- one divine for awhile and the other human for awhile.  He was not schizophrenic- divided in Himself.  Rather Jesus was perfectly whole- and shows us how to have peace within ourselves and with God.
These titles of Jesus emphasize that Jesus is not just a teacher, or a good man- as we might emphasize today.  Knox was not afraid to see God at work in extraordinary ways.  He experienced it in his own life.  If we think of it, we probably could also point to God working in extraordinary ways pointing us to the person of Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to see you more clearly.  May my wisdom submit to your greatest Wisdom.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5/14/14- The OT is 4Us

 For he called Abraham from his father's country, instructed him, and multiplied his seed, he marvelously preserved him, and more marvelously delivered his seed from the bondage and tyranny of Pharaoh; to them he gave his laws, constitutions, and ceremonies; to them he gave the land of Canaan; after he had given them judges, and afterwards Saul, he gave David to be king, to whom he gave promise that of the fruit of his loins should one sit forever upon his royal throne. To this same people from time to time he sent prophets, to recall them to the right way of their God, from which sometimes they strayed by idolatry. And although, because of their stubborn contempt for righteousness he was compelled to give them into the hands of their enemies, as had previously been threatened by the mouth of Moses, so that the holy city was destroyed, the temple burned with fire, and the whole land desolate for seventy years, yet in mercy he restored them again to Jerusalem, where the city and the temple were rebuilt, and they endured against all temptations and assaults of Satan till the Messiah came according to the promise.

1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”a 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test Christ,b as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  (1 Corinthians 10)

Thoughts: Here Knox explains the Heilsgeschicthe- the holy history- the history of God dealing with the people of old.  God chose Abraham to be a patriarch to eventually bring in his son.  He chose Moses to free His people and also to guide them with the Law.  God chose David as a king and promised an ultimate king of kings from his genes.  He notes that the Church of that day was almost destroyed by the Babylonians in the sixth century BC.  Yet God amazingly and graciously restored them after a time of exile.  The Old Testament is not just a history book, but it is also a history of God dealing with His people.  We see their examples and warnings, and hear the time honored imperatives that go beyond nation or Temple sacrifice.  The Old Testament is not just about "them" but it is about "us."  The promises and examples are still alive for us today. 

Prayer: Lord, may I know your promise and your love.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

5/13/14- The Church in Every Age

We most surely believe that God preserved, instructed, multiplied, honored, adorned, and called from death to life his Kirk in all ages since Adam until the coming of Christ Jesus in the flesh. (Scots Va)

Matthew 16:16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter,band on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hadesc will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will bed bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will bee loosed in heaven.”

Thoughts: Just as God created the universe out of nothing (ex nihilo), so God calls the Church from death to life in every generation and age.  This confession tells us God preserves the church from being destroyed.  The confession says God instructs the Church in every age- so there is always room to learn from the eternal Teacher.  God causes the Church to grow in every age from nothing (or a remnant) into a fruitful Church.  God honors the Church- lifting her up when she is humble and discouraged in every era.  God adorns (makes more beautiful) the Church in every time period.  Without God's help and grace, the Church would appear plain and unattractive.  God also calls the Church from life to death- so that when the Church appears to be dead, it is not.  The Church could do nothing without God   The Church's power, life and hope  did not stop in the past, God is God yesterday, today, and forever.  The Church may shrink to the point that it appears to disappear.  John Knox lived this.  One year he was in the Galley of a French Slave ship.  Thirty years later Scotland declared Protestantism the law of the land.  

Prayer: Lord, work in my and my church as you have in the past. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

5/12/14- The Promise in History

This promise was repeated and made clearer from time to time; it was embraced with joy, and most constantly received by all the faithful from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to David, and so onwards to the incarnation of Christ Jesus; all (we mean the believing fathers under the law) did see the joyful day of Christ Jesus, and did rejoice. (Scots IVb)

1In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Heb. 1:1-3)

Thoughts:  God reveals His hope in providence and history, but sometimes it is clearer than others.  The confession tells us that the Old Testament saints put their hope in the promise of the coming Messiah and trust in God.  The Scots Confession divides these periods of history in the Old Testament into covenant periods.  The promise is that evil will not win, but God will.  Justice and grace will meet together.  The Old Testament saints knew this as well as the new.

Prayer: Lord, may my heart hold to your promise as those before me held to is.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

5/11/14- The Ultimate Mother- Mary

26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you..46And Mary said:“My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,.” (Luke 1)

1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”  “Woman,a why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2)

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her,“Woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

Thoughts: Orthodox tradition calls Mary the mother of Jesus "Theotokos" or "Mother of God."  On this Mother's Day (5/11), perhaps it is good to take a moment and think about the good things found in Mary.  Protestants often overlook this in fearful reaction ot how in some circles Mary is worshiped as a quasi-god with statues, prayers, and bowing down to her.  But Mary is a real figure of the Bible and is to be respected though she is never worshiped in scripture (where worship is restricted to God alone).
     We can learn that Mary was blessed by God by being chosen (Lk. 1:28).  In the end, the source of all our blessing is God.  We are quick to come close to worshiping leaders, celebrities and even religious leaders, but we are all human and need God's grace and help.  Mary actually sets a wonderful example for us by her humility and humbly receiving this blessing.  All mothers need God's help and blessing, and need to humbly lift up their children to the Lord.
    Mary also helped push Jesus a bit to move him to the next level- getting Him out of the nest.  So she presents Jesus with His first opportunity for a miracle.   Good mothers are not helicopter moms who seek to smother their children in an effort to hold them close.  A major goal is to train children to be on their own with strength, grace, dignity and faith.  Strong tradition says that Joseph died early and that Jesus took care of Mary and the family.  Mary took a role as a single mom to make sure her son was taught scripture (which he quoted often), and was able to think for Himself.
    Mary was also faithful.  She visited Jesus in his ministry, and the disciples knew her well.  She was at the cross- at the very end of Jesus life and with the disciples (Acts 1:14) later.  Jesus entrusted her care to his youngest disciple who was also the only disciple at the cross- John.  Tradition has it he took care of her at Ephesus where they both died.
    The sure things we can learn from the Bible about Mary are her love for God, her love for Jesus, her humility, willingness to push her son, and faithfulness.  These are great examples to any mom, but to any human as well. 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Mary's example. Help me to follow her example as she follows you.