Good morning brothers and sisters,
It looks as if Spring may finally have arrived. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s over the next two weeks is a good sign. It has been a long, hard winter. ‘Course that could be just my age talking. All I know is that it is delightful to walk outside and feel a warm breeze on my face instead of a biting cold wind.
Patti and I have been reading in Luke’s Gospel. Yesterday, we read this verse from chapter 9: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” This is actually a paraphrase of a verse from one of the four Servant Songs found in Isaiah, all foretelling the coming Messiah. Isaiah 50:7 says this: “For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I set my face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.”
As these four Servant Songs progress, the mission of the Messiah comes more clearly into focus. I have included them in this Post-it for your edification. They would be a helpful resource upon which you might reflect and meditate as we approach the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection.
Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
2 He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
4 He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”
49 1“Listen, O
coastlands, to Me,
And take heed, you peoples from afar!
The Lord has called Me from the womb;
From the [a]matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.
2 And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;
In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me,
And made Me a polished shaft;
In His quiver He has hidden Me.”
He said to me,
‘You are My servant, O Israel,
In whom I will be glorified.’
4 Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain;
Yet surely my [b]just reward is with the Lord,
And my [c]work with my God.’ ”
5 “And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is [d]gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
6 Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
4 “The Lord God has
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
5 The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
6 I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.
7 “For the Lord God will
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
8 He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is [a]My adversary?
Let him come near Me.
9 Surely the Lord God will help Me;
Who is he who will condemn Me?
Indeed they will all grow old like a garment;
The moth will eat them up.
52 13 Behold, My Servant shall [a]deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and [b]extolled and be very high.
14 Just as many were astonished at you,
So His visage[c] was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men;
15 So shall He [d]sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider.
53 1Who has
believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no [e]form or [f]comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no [g]beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and [h]rejected by men,
A Man of [isorrows and acquainted with [j]grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He
has borne our [k]griefs
And carried our [l]sorrows;
Yet we [m]esteemed Him stricken,
[n]Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded[o] for our transgressions,
He was [p]bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes[q] we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord [r]has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed
and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from [s]prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And [t]they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased
the Lord to [u]bruise
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 [v]He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the [w]spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
This Lord’s Day we will continue our exposition of 1 Peter. Our text will be 1 Peter 4:12-18 where Peter gives his largest (and last) commentary yet on the theme of suffering. This is a meaty series of verses so we will take some time looking at them in detail. The Order of Worship is attached.
Please remember that our fellowship meal is this Lord’s Day as well and that will be followed by a season of prayer. We have much about which we need to be praying, so please join us as we avail ourselves of this powerful means of grace.
Finally, please put April 27 on your calendar. Our deacons have scheduled a workday for some much-needed Spring cleaning and repair work. There is a list of projects on the back table from which you may choose. I would remind you that this is our “home” and we need as many family members as possible to accomplish these numerous tasks. So please stop by and sign up for one (or more) of these projects. A fair number of them can be done as your schedule permits.
· April 7 – Fellowship Meal
· April 7 – Prayer service (immediately following Fellowship Meal)
· April 8 – Ladies Group
· April 10 – Session meets
· April 14 – Young Adults Fellowship Group
· April 15 – Adults Fellowship Group (townies)
· April 20 – Spring Feet ‘n Eat
· April 21 – Resurrection Day breakfast
· April 21 – Adults Fellowship Group (westsiders)
· April 22 – Ladies Group
· April 27 – Spring Workday (at the building)
· April 28 – Neighborhood Fellowship
Do you feel loved by God because you believe he makes much of you, or because you believe he frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of him? —John Piper
The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God. —Martin Luther
The decay of the church is never the fault of the world. Inward spiritual decline always precedes outward collapse. —Sinclair Ferguson
Learn much of your own heart; and when you have learned all you can, remember you have seen but a few yards into a pit that is unfathomable. —Robert Murray McCheyne
What an almost infinite field there is for mercies negative! We cannot even imagine all that God has allowed us not to do, not to be. —Frances Ridley Havergal
God is not glorified by self-generated righteousness or human will power. He is glorified when we both make it our aim to glorify Him and depend on Christ through His Spirit to enable us to do so. —Jerry Bridges
A fearer of God steers the rudder of his life according to the compass of the Word. —Thomas Watson
Self-Righteousness Wears Many Disguises
Recently, I wrote a column about the preface to Jesus’s parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector and what that introductory comment tells us about the connection between trusting in yourself and looking down on others. When we look at the parable itself, particularly the description of the Pharisee, we should take note of just how easy it is to be self-deceived about our own self-righteousness.
Today, we’re used to reading the worst possible motives into the character of the Pharisee. But Jesus’s original listeners would not have assumed that the Pharisee was the bad guy, not at first. They would have seen this Pharisee as a model citizen—a decent, upstanding religious man who was pious in his practice. READ MORE…
How Not to Study the End Times
Eschatology, the study of the last things, is a fancy word for something we all already do. All of us think about the end. Yes, our culture and our fears push to the periphery thoughts of our death and the life hereafter. But count on it: at some point in your life, you are going to agonize over what will happen to you after you breathe your last. You can’t attend a funeral—whether of a religious or nonreligious person—without hearing somebody’s eschatology, their concept of what happens after death. We are all eschatologists. But that doesn’t mean we always engage the end times well. In at least three ways, we could go wrong in this most basic theological discipline. READ MORE…
Calvin’s Failed Missionaries Were Just the First Wave in Brazil
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
When Vinicius Pimentel was 12 years old, his parents got divorced, and he started going to church by himself in Americana, São Paulo.
He didn’t go to the Nazarene church he grew up in, but to a neo-Pentecostal church. At first, there “was not a lot of good theology but not a lot of bad theology—just love for Jesus and evangelism and, of course, the gifts of the Spirit.”
But over the 12 years he spent there, the teaching moved steadily into “more health-and-wealth theology and coaching to be the best version of yourself,” Pimentel said. As a leader, he worked hard to attract more people to the faith, even planning a disco party at the church.
“We tried to attract people with any possible strategy, to convince them to be converted,” he said. And then he broke his leg. He calls it his “God wrestling with Jacob” moment.
“I had more time to be at home on the internet,” he said. While browsing a Christian YouTube channel, he clicked one that was at the top because it was trending in the United States—evangelist Paul Washer’s “shocking message.”
What Judges Teaches the Church
And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. (Judg. 2:10)
It seems incredible that it could happen. Only a generation after Joshua, Israel no longer knew the Lord. How is such a development possible?
This is a very important question, not just for the ancient Israelites, but for us. Churches, too, have seen sudden decline from one generation to another. How can we understand and prevent this kind of calamity?
The book of Judges provides a very clear answer to our questions. Its answer does not say everything that might be said in general, but it does say specific, crucial things that we must ponder to understand both Israel’s situation and our vulnerability. READ MORE…
Does Modesty Matter Anymore?
I’ve wanted to write this post for some time. I believe it’s a message needed more than ever, yet part of me is still fearful. I’m afraid my voice will be swept up among the boorish voices of ignorant men keen to blame their juvenile lusts on someone other than themselves. My options then are to either dissent silently, or swing in my opinion of what Scripture says. I’m not willing to do either.
Though there has been a growing voice, dominant in wider society and growing in volume even within the church, that has said, “Modesty is for a by-gone era, it holds no purchase now.” — I cannot escape that in the currency of God’s values, modesty matters. I guess the question we must ask though is, why? Many who argue for modesty (often men) use as their foundational argument the effect on men when modesty is laid aside. I’d like to come back to that argument a little later, but first I think there is a greater principle at stake when considering modesty in today’s culture. READ MORE…
Cultivating Earth and Eternity
Sixty years ago this year, Henry Van Til’s The Calvinistic Concept of Culture was first published. It’s still must reading today.
Why? Because it presents a clear solution to many of the controversies we’ve seen over the relationship of Christians to culture, church to state. The key to solving them is the mediatorial kingship of Christ. READ MORE…
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
“In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.” J. Gresham Machen
“When Christ calls a man – he bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer