Archive | December 2012

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Ephesians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,                 NKJV
No matter how the old year ends; no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in; let us remember Christians, as we begin the new year, that God has blessed us every spiritual blessing in Christ.  The truth of our text is so beautifully summarized by Charles H. Spurgeon, who wrote, “All the goodness of the past, the present, and the future, Christ gives to His people.  In the mysterious ages of the past the Lord Jesus was His Father’s first elect, and in His election He gave us an interest, for we were chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).  He had from all eternity the prerogatives of Sonship, as His Father’s only-begotten and well-beloved Son, and He has, in the riches of His grace, by adoption and regeneration, elevated us to sonship also, so that to us He has given “the right to become the sons of God (John 1:12).  The eternal covenant, based upon suretyship and confirmed by oath, is ours, for our strong consolation and security.  In the everlasting settlements of predestinating wisdom and omnipotent decree, the eye of the Lord Jesus was ever fixed on us; and we may rest assured that in the whole roll of destiny there is not a line which militates against the interests of His redeemed.  The great betrothal of the Prince of Glory is ours, for it is to us that He is betrothed, as the sacred nuptials shall before long declare to an assembled universe.  The marvelous incarnation of the God of heaven, with all the amazing condescension and humiliation which attended it, is ours.  The bloody sweat, the scourge, the cross, are ours forever.  Whatever blissful consequences flow from perfect obedience, finished atonement, resurrection, ascension, or intercession, all are ours by His own gift.  Upon His breastplate He is now bearing our names; and in His authoritative pleadings at the throne He remembers our persons and pleads our cause.  His dominion over principalities and powers, and His absolute majesty in heaven, He employs for the benefit of those who trust in Him.  His high estate is as much at our service as was His condition of abasement.  He who gave himself for us in the depths of woe and death, does not withdraw the grant now that He is enthroned in the highest heavens.”

Advertisements

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Matthew 1:21

And she will bring forth a Son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”                          NKJV
No single verse of scripture better exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas than our text above.  Many Christians, if asked what salvation means, will reply, “Being saved from hell and taken to heaven.”  This is one result of salvation, but it is not one drop in a bucket of what salvation fully entails.  While it is true that our Lord Jesus Christ does redeem all of us, as His people, from the wrath to come and saves us from the eternal condemnation which our sins had brought upon us, His triumph is far more complete than this. He saves us from our sins.  What a great victory over our worst enemies.  Where Christ saves, He casts Satan down from his throne, and will not let him be our master any longer. No man is a true Christian if sin reigns in his mortal body.  Sin will be in us–it will never be utterly expelled until our spirits enter glory; but it will never have dominion.  There will be a striving for dominion—the lusts of the flesh which will struggle against the new spirit which God has imparted to us, but sin will never get the upper hand so as to be absolute ruler over our new nature in Christ.  Jesus will be Master of our hearts, and sin must be put to death.  Is sin subdued in you?

If your life is unholy your heart is unchanged, and if your heart is unchanged you are an unsaved person.  If the Saviour has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, He has done nothing in you of a saving character.  The grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit.  Christ saves His people, not in their sins, but from them.  “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”  “Let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” If not saved from sin, how shall we hope to be counted among His people.  Lord, save me now from all evil, and enable me to honor my Savior.                Charles H. Spurgeon

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 12:13-17

Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words.  When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth.  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?  Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”  But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me?  Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.”  So they brought it.  And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”  They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  And they marveled at Him.            NKJV

 
There is a huge contrast in philosophy between the two groups that are attacking Jesus in our passage.  The Pharisees, a conservative religious party, hated the Roman rule and the Roman-backed Herodian dynasty of kings.  The Herodians, a political party consisting mostly of Sadducees, supported the Roman-backed Herodian dynasty.  The Pharisees and the Herodians were polar opposites and normally would never be joined together in a common cause.  To see these two groups come together is to imagine Barack Obama and Mitt Romney joining forces because they are afraid of Ron Paul.  Politics frequently makes for strange bedfellows, especially when the quest is for power and influence which may, or may not, have anything to do with truth, justice, or the good of others.

The Pharisees and Herodians were not interested in truth.  They united their forces in an effort to trap Jesus, who they saw as a threat to their position and power over the people.  If Jesus said, “No.  The Jews should not pay taxes,” the Herodians would have charged Him with treason against Rome.  If He said, “Yes.  The Jews should pay taxes to Rome,” the Pharisees would have accused Him of disloyalty to the Jewish nation and He would lose the support of the Jewish people who hated Roman rule and taxation.  Jesus sidesteps their trap by showing them the image and inscription of Tiberius Caesar Augustus  on a Roman coin and tells them to give to God the things that are God’s (the things commanded in scripture) and to give the things that are Caesar’s to Caesar (the obeying of civil laws, including the paying of taxes).  To give to God the things that are God seems quaint foolishness to our current politic world of liberal, ungodly Herodians, who would like to see God’s morality and influence completely removed from government.

God is God of all creation – sex, religion, and politics all fall under God’s domain.  We might find it difficult to decide together what that means for us but stony silence is no more the answer (nor is it possible), than hiding behind the smokescreen of theocracy.  God knows that when broken people come to share life together in community they will need leadership or they will live in chaos.  Christian stewardship includes our care over all things in our lives, and yes, that includes paying taxes.  But listen carefully to Jesus’ answer and there is no doubt, although the emperor is listed first, a denarius is trivial.  The ultimate authority remains God, whether the emperor likes that or not.           Pastor Kerry Nelson

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Mark 12:1-3

Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower.  And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.  Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers.  And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.                NKJV

 
A parable is a story in which familiar things are used to illustrate spiritual and moral truths.  The symbols that Jesus used in this story were familiar to His Jewish audience.  The vineyard represented the visible kingdom of God, which had been entrusted to the Jews.  The hedge represented the word of God that separated Israel from the Gentiles.  The wine vat and tower pictured the riches and blessings of the Kingdom of God.  The far country represented Heaven.  The vinedressers were the Jews in general and in particular the religious leaders of the nation of Israel.

These Jewish religious leaders were given a beautiful and good vineyard in which to work, but they began to think that the vineyard was their own possession.  They forgot it belonged to God, who was the vineyard owner, and so they abused the vineyard owner’s servants.  These servants were God’s Old Testament messengers, the prophets.  In Israel’s past when God had sent his prophets with His message, these prophets were abused, mistreated, and even killed.

Even though this message had a clear historical connection to the Old Testament prophets and the nation of Israel, we can carry away a powerful reminder for ourselves today from the implications of our text.  Just as the Jewish religious leaders did, we can begin to view God’s Kingdom, His people, and His gifts, as our own.  It is easy to forget that everything we have is “on loan” from God and is to be used for Him, for His glory, and for His purposes.  These blessings are not ours by merit or right, but by God’s grace, and we must never lose sight of this truth.

From the Pastor’s Pen

Final Thoughts on Psalm 32:8-9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.  Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.                   NKJV

 
Life is filled with choices and decisions.  Sifting through many options and attempting to make wise choices can be overwhelming.  Is this choice what God wants for my life?  Will I regret this decision later?  The uncertainty of it all can frustrate us.  How does God teach and advise us, and how can we know which choice is correct?

The answer is: God instructs and advises us through the Bible, His holy word.  All scripture is “God-breathed” and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, that we may be completely prepared to make the correct choices and decisions in life (II Tim. 3:16-17).  This requires study of the word of God on our part that we may know and understand the will of God for our lives (II Tim. 2:15).  It also requires willingness on our part to listen and obey when the Lord gives us counsel (Psalm 119:24, 105).

Instead of searching the scriptures and waiting on an answer from the Lord, we often challenge his timing on guidance. We want to know what to do now, immediately!  Our scripture passage above assures us that God will instruct, teach, and guide or counsel us; but it will be on His terms—which usually involves waiting and obedience.  God expects us to listen to His word and learn from His directions what choices or decisions we are to make.

Horses and mules may look intelligent with their big soulful eyes, but they are stubborn and willful. In order to make them go in the direction you intend, a bit and bridle are necessary. If they start to stray, a sharp snap and pull on the reins bring a painful reminder that they are not in charge. Sometimes the Lord has to use a bit and bridle on us!  When facing tough decisions, remember and be thankful that you are not alone in the process.                    Charles Morris