There should be some preparation of the heart in coming to the worship of God. Consider who he is in whose name we gather, and surely we cannot rush together without thought. Consider whom we profess to worship, and we shall not hurry into his presence as men run to a fire. Moses, the man of God, was warned to put off his shoes from his feet when God only revealed himself in a bush. How should we prepare ourselves when we come to him who reveals himself in Christ Jesus,, his dear Son? There should be no stumbling into the place of worship half asleep, no roaming here as if it were no more than going to a play house. We cannot expect to profit much if we bring with us a swarm of idle thoughts and a heart crammed with vanity. If we are full of folly, we may shut out the truth of God from our minds.
Today's selection comes from Charles Spurgeon as quoted by Wayne Mack and David Swavely in their book Life in the Father's House (pgs. 100-101).
Here's a little food for thought.
Ever struggle with joy on the Lord's Day? Here are some encouraging words from John Murray. (This is excerpted from the Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 1. "The relevance of the Sabbath.")
If the Sabbath is the Lord's day, it ought to be suffused with the joy derived from and correspondent with the resurrection joy of the Lord. We should never fail to appreciate our Lord's own resurrection joy. Jesus came trailing the clouds of humiliation. We think of Gethsemane with its agonizing confession, its prayer of holy revulsion, and its bloody sweat; of Calvary with its cry of abandonment. Here are the lowest depths of humiliation, of incomparable agony. But then there is the sequel of resurrection exultation. 'Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross...and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God' (Heb. 12:2). 'Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?' (Luke 24:26). It is a morning without clouds, the morning of triumph, and therefore of triumphant joy. In this joy ours is begotten (cf. 1Pet 1:3).
Jesus lives! Let us rejoice together with the people of God as we gather on his day tomorrow!
Have a great weekend!
Another prayer from Matthew Henry. This one is a portion of a prayer for Public Worship on the Lord's Day. You can find the Mathew Henry prayers we've posted and more here.
We come together to give glory to the great Jehovah, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, and therefore blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. And our help stands in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
God's blessings to you on this Friday!
Read 2 Timothy 4 and it doesn't take long to realize that these are likely some of the last words Paul ever wrote. He's in prison, and death at the hand of the Romans isn't far off. Some of his last words may seem a bit mundane (he wants Timothy to bring his cloak), but they are packed with meaning and implications for us. Notice, for example, just one of the things he said: "Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry" (from 2 Tim. 4:11).
At first glance, that may not seem significant, but think about who Mark is. Oh, he's that Mark! We believe this is the Mark (also called John) who had left Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:13). This was apparently such a significant failure on Mark's part, that Paul didn't want to take him along when he and Barnabas were planning another trip to visit the churches that had been established. Acts 15:37-38 "Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work." Sadly, there was such a disagreement over this between Barnabas and Paul that they split. Barnabas took Mark with him and Paul took Silas with him.
But now at the end of his life, Paul says Mark is useful to him for ministry. What went on in the years between Acts 15 and 2 Timothy 4? We don't know everything, but Mark shows up in Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 1:24 as a companion of Paul when he was first imprisoned in Rome. Somehow Mark must have regained Paul's trust at some point. Maybe it was from his work when he traveled with Barnabas, but ultimately we don't know and apparently we don't need to know.
What we do know is that Paul went from sharply disagreeing with Barnabas over Mark to finding him a useful companion for ministry. You know what that gives us? Hope. Hope for that broken relationship; hope for those who have lost trust; hope for those who have been let down; hope if you have come up short in some responsibility. If you're Mark in this story, you can get back up and by God's grace find usefulness again. If you're Paul, you can have your lost confidence in a person restored. Whatever relationship you view as hopeless, maybe it's not. Of course not every broken relationship will work out this way. But they can. Paul and Mark teach us that. And that reality is full of hope.
"Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry." Sweet words. Hopeful words.
A Psalm this week to help prepare our hearts for tomorrow when we go to God's house to meet with God's People on God's day to worship God.
Welcome to September!
That's a different gospel, friends. That denies that the sufficiency of the work of Christ whereby I am adopted as one of God's children. That's offensive to God and as one of his children, it is offensive to me. I suppose it's possible he could mean "orphan" in the sense of having lost 1 parent, but even then he's unbiblical since Mary is not anywhere called our mother.
Last night at GBC, we looked together at Isaiah 51:12-13 which has striking and comforting words for those with ears to hear:
I, I am he who comforts you;who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the wrath of the oppressor?
Here is a word from our God reminding us HE is the one who comforts us. Who are we? Well, that's no so pretty. We are the ones who are afraid of men who die, who are like grass. We are the ones who have forgotten the Lord; who fear continually all the day. As I think of different ones I know who are hurting and afraid and think of my own fear, I find comfort in these two verses and hope you do as well.
Here our perspective is reoriented. God himself speaks into our fear and says I, I am he who comforts you. This is the God of comfort (2 Cor. 1:3); the Son who is the consolation or comfort of Israel, his people (Luke 2:25-32); the Holy Spirit who is the comforter (John 14:16,26) who also gives us his Word for our comfort (Rom. 15:4-5). What a comforter we have!
And when he says he is the one who comforts us, there's weight behind that promise. If you lose your job and your 5 year old child says, "It's ok, I'll take care of you," that's sweet; it's comforting to know your child loves you. But your child has no power to fulfill his promise; he can't take care of you or provide for you. But when God says, "I comfort you; I'll take care of you; I'll provide for and protect you," there's power behind those words. As we're reminded in these verses, this is your MAKER who speaks comfort. It is the One who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth (Psalm 121:1-2). It's no empty promise. It's a promise from the omnipotent One fully able to make good on it.
Our trouble is that we forget. Who are you who have forgotten the LORD, your Maker? Forgetting leads to fear. When we feel fear rising in our hearts, it may well be that we are forgetting God and his mighty promise that he is the one who comforts. Don't misunderstand. Our trouble is very real; we have oppressors and enemies, wrath directed against us. Painful trials beat down our doors. But when we forget our Maker we succumb to fear.
So may God help us to remember. When fear comes, let it trigger in us a instinctive fleeing to the triune God who is our comforter and his word instead of sinking further into our fear. Your God says to you, I, I am he who comforts you.
Some miscellaneous musings from Pastor Aaron.
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.