I’ve been reading the Navigators Bible reading plan for several years. It’s one of those that has you reading in four different places throughout the year. I often notice consistent themes and connections between the four readings. This morning was one of those obvious ones.
It began in:
2 Chronicles 26:15-16
 In Jerusalem he made machines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, *till he was strong.
 *But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. *For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
The next reading in the Psalms came from that creciendo at the end where the psalmist is giving us reasons why God is worthy of praise and describing how our disposition should be towards him:
Psalm 147:10-11 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,  but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
If that were not enough, Luke records an exchange Jesus had with a crowd about greed:
 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully,  and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
None of the above is possible apart from the work of Christ, the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit which is exactly how the readings ended:
2 Thessalonians 2:14-17
 To this he called you through our gospel, *so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
Though this wasn’t in my reading, this is what came to mind:
2 Corinthians 12:10
 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(Ps. 77:1-20) I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. 3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah 4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. 5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago. 6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: 7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah 10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. 15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah 16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. 17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. 18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. 19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
Hymn No. 68 “Holy, Holy, Holy”
Prayer for Students, teachers, staff and schools
Hymn No. 28 “To God be the Glory”
(Heb. 10:19-23) 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Hymn No. 339 “Standing on the Promises”
Sermon—John 14:18-31 Part 1—Promises Made
Hymn No. 338 “Wonderful Words of Life”
(Rom. 8:33-39) 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died– more than that, who was raised– who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This post has reminded me that I need to consider a time of solitude myself with the Lord. Those days were hard but the Lord was faithful to see us through! Don’t lose heart, dear pilgrim. May the joy of the Lord be your strength!
This past weekend I (Kimberly) spent a night, by myself, at the campus conference center and hotel (known to Southwesterners as the LDC). As Jason and I tried to explain to others what I was doing, we tried to come up with a name to call my time alone. The whole purpose was for me to be refreshed in the Lord. I had become so tired physically and spiritually, I really needed uninterrupted time with God. As I sat in the room and began journaling, I simply called it a retreat. At first I thought how odd that a word could have such different meanings. I was reminded of when Yosemite Sam screamed, “Retreat!” in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons, he meant to turn around and go the other way quickly! That was definitely not what I was doing! However, the more I thought about it, that’s exactly what I needed to be doing. It wasn’t long…
(Ps. 20:1-5) May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 3 May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah 4 May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 5 May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
Hymn No. 1 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
Hymn No. 122 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”
(Jn. 14:15) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Hymn No. 500 “Trust and Obey”
Sermon John 14:12-17
Hymn No. 534 “Take My Life, and Let it Be Consecrated”
(Acts 2:17-21) 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
(1 Pet. 2:2-5) 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Hymn No. 154 “What a friend we have in Jesus”
Hymn No. 603 “When We all get to heaven”
Psalm 86:10 You are great and perform wonders.
Hymn No. 6 “How Great Thou Art”
Sermon John 14:1-11
Hymn No. 611 “On Jordon’s Stormy Banks”
Benediction (Heb. 10:32-39) 32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls
I haven’t reread my old blog posts but I know the road travel since I wrote this one in 2007. I would say things differently but not too much. But I can say the road traveled since I wrote this has very much attempted to do the hard word of unearthing the glorious treasures in the Word. Not to believe something new but to see it for myself and check my work with the time-tested confessions. I’m interested in revisiting my blog posts to see how the Lord has changed me. So, I begin with my very first post.
On Systematic Theology: Reading Scripture Resulting in Biblical Theology Resulting in Systematic Theology
We, the church, have found ourselves, at least some of us, with seemingly strong theological conclusions, however, we have hardly any idea how we developed these conclusions. Like the saying of any good math teacher, “Show your work even though the answer may be in the back of the book. The answer is not the answer unless you show your work.” How do we teach theological conclusions or systematic theology and not teach someone how to unearth that conclusion? Simple, we tend to preach and teach someone else’s conclusions. This has a lasting effect on the church which results in an unequipped body. This must change. There is a way to preach and teach the Bible by which you feed the sheep and delicately show them how to read the Scriptures.
(Lk. 7:41-50) 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven– for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Let us praise him as forgiven sinners who may have loved much in this world but now Jesus is the treasure of our lives. Let our large cancelled debts bring forth large praise.
Hymn No. 149 “Praise Him! Praise Him!”
Prayer of Confession and Hope
O Father, Let us not be too at home in this world and nation because as we have just sung, “Christ is coming, over the world victorious; power and glory unto the Lord belong!” But while we are still here, let us take full advantage of our freedoms to propagate the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We confess that we have often, I suppose out of fear, have remained silent. Free our tongues to proclaim your good news to all peoples that they might come into your eternal Kingdom through repentance and faith in your beloved Son.
We know this nation is fleeting. Soon it will be gone as will all nations. Yet, our hope is in our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation! Jesus the crucified, sound his praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows, love unbound carries them all day long. Eternal independence is only found in Jesus Christ and in him are we truly free. And this freedom is available to all who come to him by faith.
As we are about to sing to Jesus “Savior, like a Shepherd lead us, much we need thy tender care; in they pleasant pastures feed us, for our use thy folds prepare” us. Prepare us. Shepherd us, O Lord. “With thy love our beings fill” that we might love one another that all peoples might know that we are your disciples! Bring them into your fold, Lord Jesus. Call them, we pray. In Jesus Name, amen.
(Why this next song? Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure. He gives them the command to love one another. This song says, “…for us thy folds prepare…” and we must first be “with thy love our beings fill” before we can love one another. He is the Good Shepherd who does lead us to love one another. It’s not in us but by his grace and by the Holy Spirit will he work that in us. )
Hymn No. 161 “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”
(This next song is the means by which Jesus now prepares us with “Holy words long preserved for our walk in this world.” Our prayer is the chorus: “ancient words ever true, changing me and changing you: we have come with open hearts, oh, let the ancient words impart.”)
(Read the verse at the top before at the top of the hymnal: Hebrews 4:12)
Hymn No. 344 “Ancient Words”
Sermon John 13:31-38
Lord’s Supper (We will transition from sermon [end with some instructions for the table and I will pray] then I will call the deacons up to serve)
(Ps. 108:1-5) My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! 2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the *dawn! 3 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Hymn No. 615 “When the Morning Comes”
Pastoral Prayer (The Armor of God)
(Eph. 6:10-20) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Hymn No. 663 “O Church, Arise”
Isaiah 48:7 “I am the LORD your God…who leads you in the way you should go.”
Hymn No. 659 “Lead On, O King Eternal”
Hymn No. 447 “It is well with my soul”
(Ps. 23:1-6) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Old Testament: Ezra 6–7 Ezra 6–7 (Listen) The Decree of Darius 6 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in Babylonia, in the house of the archives where the documents were stored. 2 And in Ecbatana, the citadel that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found on which this was written: “A record. 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cy […]