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Friday, December 24, 2021
Thursday, December 9, 2021
Alice C. Linsley
The season of Advent prepares us for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Messiah, known as the "Feast of the Nativity." Advent also prepares us for the twelve days of Christmas. The twelve days are not observed as they should be. We are in a hurry to rush on. There is the New Year's revelry to draw our attention away from the long-awaited incarnation of the Son of God.
The Advent Scriptures typically allude to His second coming also. At His nativity, the Son of God comes to earth as a vulnerable infant. However, at His second coming He comes in power to judge the world. John 5:22 says, "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son."Jesus will come again to save those who have been eagerly awaiting His return (Hebrews 9:28). Titus 2:13 speaks of the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ as our "blessed hope."
Monday, October 4, 2021
What should a search team look for when calling clergy? Besides the practical concerns of compensation and the denomination's requirements for service, the search team should evaluate the candidate's educational preparation, record of service, and spiritual maturity.
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Monday, July 12, 2021
This verse speaks of reconciliation which is what Jesus' Gospel accomplishes. This applies between God and man, and between people who are reconciled with God.
Crosses are pictured with two pieces of wood, one vertical and the other horizontal. The vertical speaks of God in Heaven, and of His righteousness. God extends His righteousness to earth just as the vertical beam goes into a hole in the ground from which Adam was made.
The horizontal member speaks of God’s love expressed in peace. In death and his resurrection, Jesus Christ joins heaven and earth, bringing true peace, or shalom. As the Psalm says: “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
God’s righteous judgement and His love have been satisfied by the work of Christ. The work of Jesus is the basis of peace between God and humanity to those who receive it by faith.
Those who embrace the Faith come to know that peace is won at great cost. As the Apostle Paul testifies: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Romans 6:6)
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
The key verse for this study comes from 1 John 4:9 - "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."
This verse provides a clue as to how faith overcomes the world cultural system. John writes a good deal about the world, by which he means fallen humanity, bondage to the flesh and to this world under Satan's rule. While God made humans with an innate need to worship, the world remains ignorant of saving faith in the Son of God.
Indeed, the world promotes all sorts of idols and idolatrous worship. Ideologies, false religions, and materialism are tools in the hands of rulers to manipulate their people. Karl Marx was correct in describing these non-biblical religions as an “opiate” to give people false hope and a feeling of security.
Many have an “unknown god” often described as “the man up stairs!” Sadly, they confuse their “man upstairs” with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They want him to come to their aid in times of trouble, as if He were an lucky charm to ward off evil. They do not have a real relationship with Him and so He can be blamed when things go wrong.
This describes millions of people. They are in a condition of spiritual deafness. They cannot be classified with the immature Believers to whom John directs his epistle. May they hear the Good News of God's love and forgiveness at least once in their lives, though the preaching of the Gospel seems to have grown cold in our time.
John is writing to believers who lack a strong foundational faith. He wants them to know, adore, and serve a Living Lord, and to have full assurance of salvation (1 John 5:10-13). In a detailed way, he is repeating wthe witness of John the Baptist: "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
John points to Jesus Christ as your anchor. By Him and by His blood you are able to overcome. Biblical faith is centered in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. As He overcame the world, so those who are in Him will overcome.
Thursday, May 27, 2021
“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity...” (Hebrews 6:1)
The Greek word "disciple" in the New Testament has the sense of being an apprentice who works with his teacher until he has mastered the skill. He then becomes an agent for his master, and his skills and knowledge would reflect those of the Master. This is a picture of the growth of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47, cf. Isa 49:6).
The Apostle Paul made this the point of his final instruction to Timothy: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2,3).
Related reading: The Distinctive Disciple's Desire; Responding to Jesus' Authority; Get a Grip! Be Steadfast
Saturday, May 8, 2021
Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
Sunday, April 11, 2021
The word “Christian” is used only three places in the New Testament, but the term “disciple” is used 372 times. Granted, the term "Christian" was not in general use at the time of the Apostles. Today, being a disciple of Jesus Christ is of greater importance than being designated a "Christian."
In our time, "Christian" holds a range of meanings. Some who call themselves "Christian" do not live in obedience to the Bible. They endorse practices that the Bible condemns, often because they have not be wellinstructed. Some practices that have been endorsed by church leaders are either a violation of the order of creation and an affront to the Creator, or they are spiritually and often physically dangerous to the individual.
If asked about your religion, how do you respond? Do you call yourself a "Christian" or a "disciple" of Jesus Christ? The disciple is one who "continues" in His life-giving word. Obedience is the key, even when we do not understand. Abraham did not understand what was going to happen on Mount Moriah, but he was obedient and acted on his faith in God (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 22; Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23). This is the path of justification.
Holiness and purity, obedience and service, embrace of the biblical worldview... these are the marks of a true disciple. Being Jesus’ “disciple indeed” is the standard of one who has genuine faith!
Monday, March 22, 2021
Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
In the Old Testament certain "signs" are given that identify the actions of the long-awaited Messiah. Isaiah 35:5–6 speaks of the day of salvation: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”While in prison, John the Forerunner sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he really is the expected Messiah. Jesus responds: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:4–6; Luke 7:20–23).
Jesus also alluded to Isaiah 26:19: “Your dead shall live”and while in the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 which speaks of bringing "good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18–19).
These leaders had demanded that Jesus tell them if He was the Messiah (John 10:24). He told them again, knowing that they would use his words against Him. They brought Him to trial for blasphemy and they got Pilate to sentence Him to be crucified. They thought they would bring an end to Him, as they had with others who falsely claimed to be Messiah.
The Sadducees rejected belief in life after death because that is how they interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures. They settled on this position because, as N.T. Wright points out, “resurrection from the beginning was a revolutionary doctrine" (The Resurrection of the Son of God, p. 138). The idea of an eternal kingdom under God's rule rather than the Sadducees would have been extremely troubling to the ruling elites in Jerusalem.
Friday, March 12, 2021
The moral failures of public figures who profess to be Christian are costly to the cause of Christ. The repentant individual can be forgiven, but the damage is done. Respect for that individual is lost, and bitter souls are given the occasion to ridicule all Christians.
Equally damaging is the failure to uphold sound doctrine. The core doctrines of Christianity are expressed in the historic creeds. They are the line in the sand. When church leaders fail to uphold these beliefs they weaken their members rather than build them up in the Faith once delivered.
The Apostle Paul recognized the threat. He spoke of those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). Today we speak of "virtue signaling" and yet there is no virtue in religion itself. True virtue comes from apprehending the power of God in Christ. That alone makes us godly.
The false witnesses with whom Paul contended are found in every age. In the fourth century, Basil the Great wrote in Letter 90, To the Most Holy Brethren and Bishops Found in the West: “The dogmas of the Fathers are held in contempt, the Apostolic traditions are disdained, the churches are subject to the novelties of innovators.”
In his treatise On the Holy Spirit, St. Basil wrote:
"Every man is a theologian; it does not matter that his soul is covered with more blemishes than can be counted. The result is that these innovators find an abundance of men to join their factions. So ambitious, self-elected men divide the government of the churches among themselves, and reject the authority of the Holy Spirit. The ordinances of the Gospel have been thrown into confusion everywhere for lack of discipline; the jostling for high positions is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that wild anarchy prevails among the people; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered utterly void and unprofitable, since every man in his arrogant delusion thinks that it is more his business to give orders to others than to obey anyone himself.”
Today some fall into apostasy. Others compromise biblical authority but succumbing to the demonic insinuation that God is not to be trusted: "Did God really say?" Jesus said, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly my disciples." (John 8:30)Consider the words of 2 Peter 1:2-10:
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble."
Friday, March 5, 2021
From its founding, the United States identified as a God-fearing people.The Declaration of Independence asserted that the creator God had given “inalienable” personal and collective rights. I don’t think anyone would question that this was the “God” of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Before the Constitutional Convention ended, Ben Franklin exhorted the members that they should be consistent with their past religious heritage and pray as they did in the Revolutionary Congress. The historical painting above of the Constitutional Convention shows the members at prayer led by a clergyman. Several members are on their knees. The prayer was recorded as follows:
O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!
Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.
Reverend Jacob Duché
Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.
Public avowal is the starting point for identification. Soldiers and police wears uniforms so they can be identified. Some clergy wear collars that identify them in public. Christians often wear crosses to identify themselves as people who have vowed to follow Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus made it clear that avowal or confession are essential to our identification as Christians: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32 KJV).
Friday, February 26, 2021
1. Respect for authority
3. Concern for the spiritually lost
4. Faithfulness in small things
5. Recognition of Jesus Christ's authority in all things.
6. Living a lifestyle that is consistent with the biblical worldview
In this season of Lent, may the Holy Spirit cultivate these fruits in us to a greater degree.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Matthew 5:13-14 describes the faithful disciples as the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" which means that living faithfully in one's locale has effects well beyond one's location. The terms "earth" and "world" speak of a vastly greater influence than we can imagine.
Today, be salt.
Today, be light.
Today, be a missionary where you live and work.
Related reading: Marks of a True Disciple
Thursday, February 11, 2021
People who remain mindful of their mortality live differently. Some may dwell on death too much and become morose and fatalistic. That seems to have been a common condition during outbreaks of the Plague in the Middle Ages. In these days of COVID-19 there is no doubt that the threat of death has many depressed. Some are grieving the loss of loved ones.
Being mindful of death expresses itself in different ways. We may decide to fill our days with as many positive experiences as possible. We may be inspired to pray and seek a closer relationship to God. We may toss all caution to the wind and live recklessly. Regardless of how we react, we have no certainty about the hour of our death. We live in the ever-present shadow of death as best we can.
Writing to the Christians in Phillipi, the Apostle Paul explained how he chose to live with death:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh,—if this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not. But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith; that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again. (Phil 1:21-26)
Paul lived in the glorious hope of being with Christ and of one day receiving a resurrection body. He did not know what his future held, but he knew that death was not the end. He understood that his days were numbered and he was determined to make the most of them.
In the year 1910 Halley's Comet - the comet that among many visitations had flared in 1066 over the Norman invasion of England - was again brightening the night skies of earth. "Menace of he Skies," skrieked the more lurid newspapers.Like hundreds of other little boys of the new century, I was held up in my father's arms under the cottonwoods of a cold and leafless spring to see the hurtling emissary of the void. My father told me something then that is one of my earliest and most cherished memories.
"If you live to be an old man," he said carefully, fixing my eyes on the midnight spectacle, "you will see it again. It will be back in seventy-five years. Remember," he whispered in my ear, "I will be gone, but you will see it. All that time it will be traveling in the dark, but somewhere, far out there" - he swept a hand toward the blue horizon of the plains - "it will turn back. It is running glittering through millions of miles."
I tightened my hold on my father's neck and stared uncompreheningly at the heavens. Once more he spoke against my ear and for us two alone. "Remember, all you have to do is be careful and wait. You will be seventy-eight or seventy-nine years old. I think you will live to see it - for me," he whispered a little sadly with the foreknowledge that was part of his nature.
As Eiseley aged, he never forgot this moment with his father. He had promised "Yes, Papa" with "the generosity of childhood, not knowing the chances that men face in life." After a visit to his doctor, and "breathing like a tired runner," Eiseley contacted an astronomer friend to ask where on the homeward track the Comet might be. He was told that he was too young to see it. Loren Eiseley died 9 years before Halley's Comet returned. He was not able to keep his promise.
Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (Psalm 90:12)
Sunday, January 31, 2021
"Discipleship is built on discipline. Period. It’s getting up when it is hard to get up. It’s praying when your brain is heavy with preoccupation. It’s choosing to spend time in Scripture instead of mindlessly watching YouTube videos. It’s choosing to follow when the world, the flesh, and the Devil are all trying to prevent it. Get up. Get your head in the game. You have been given a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)" - The Rev. Chris Findley, Rector St. Patrick's Anglican Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Saint Paul described himself as a servant/slave of Jesus Christ in Romans 1:1 - "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God..." and in Philippians 1:1 - "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus..." In doing so, he set an example for the early Christians.
This was not false humility. Paul knew he owed everything to the Master. Paul's letter to the Romans emphasizes the realtiy that it is only by the power and grace of God that we are alive, and it is only by His love shown through Jesus that we may inherit Eternal Life. Paul said we are called to be living sacrifices because it’s our reasonable service, our spiritual duty.
Paul was both humble and bold. He held a true and proper understandiing of his dependence of the Holy Spirit and his need of God's grace, and he was bold in his proclamation of salvation through the Blood of Jesus. He wrote, "If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10) In this, he exemplifies the true disciple.A.W. Tozer wrote, "Jesus calls us to his rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort."
A slave has no rights, only duties. Yet the most lowly slave in God's household has higher status than the most honored king on earth.
How will you serve Christ the Lord today?
Sunday, January 17, 2021
The incarnation of Jesus Christ is greatest of all miracles. That God should take on flesh is astonishing and marvelous! The distance between the Creator and the creature has been closed. Communion has been restored, though many reject this great gift.
The union of the human nature with the fully divine nature is uniquely found in Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us! By His incarnation God the Son has shown us God the Father.
He has fulfilled God’s promises to Abraham that God's son is made the sacrifice that brings life.
He became the propitiation for our sins: "and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)