Here’s the link to download the manuscript if you are interested:
Tag Archives: Grace
To Earlston, Younger
“I remain still a prisoner of hope, and do think it service to the Lord to wait on still with submission, till the Lord’s morning sky break, and his summer day dawn. For I am persuaded, it is a piece of the chief errand of our life, that God sent us for some years down to this earth, among devils and men, the fire-brands of the devil, and temptations, that we might suffer for a time here amongst our enemies…but seeing a piece of suffering is carved to every one of us, less or more, as Infinite Wisdom hath thought good, our part is to harden and habituate our soft and thin-skinned nature to endure fire and water, devils, lions, men, losses, wo (sorrowful) hearts as those that are looked upon by God, angels, men and devils.”
Letters of Samuel Rutherford (1637)
“Madam, when you are come to the other side of the water, and have set down your foot on the shore of glorious eternity, and look back again to the waters, and to your wearisome journey, and shall see in that clear glass of endless glory nearer to the bottom of God’s wisdom, you shall then be forced to say, ‘If God had done otherwise with me, then he hath done, I had never come to the enjoying t￼his crown and glory’.”
Samuel Rutherford, “Letters of Samuel Rutherford”
Here is the link to download the manuscript if you are interested:
Here is the link to download the manuscript if you are interested:
Here is the link to download the manuscript if you are interested:
Order of Worship—John 17.1-5
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship
(Ps. 145:1-13) I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. 7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Hymn No. 28 To God be the Glory
Indeed, Lord, you have done great things! We ask, please pull back the veil of familiarity that we might behold your glory afresh, today. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear. May the thought of your amazing grace move us to genuine worship as we sing of your glory…as we hear your word…stir our hearts to praise.
Lord we also want to remember those who lost their lives 20 years ago. Please, Father, have mercy on the families and friends of those who lost loved ones. Help them through this tragedy. May they know the perfect peace that is only found in you. Woo them to the greatest act of love in all of history in the sacrifice and resurrection of your beloved Son. There will be tragedy and death in this life, but what we do with Jesus is the most important thing in our lives. Make yourself, known Lord!
For truly, you are holy, as we are about to sing. You are God and there is no other. No one is like. You are set apart from all other things. You are transcendent…above all things! You are perfect in all your ways. You are light and in you there is no darkness. May we have fellowship with you through the perfect work of your son.
Give us faith! We cannot please you any other way! We love, you Lord. Make much of your Son today in this service. Do with us as you please. We are yours. Glorify your name!
Hymn No. 68 Holy, Holy, Holy
(Heb. 9:22-28) 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hymn No. 252 Down at the Cross
Hymn No. 438 Jesus, I my Cross Have Taken
(Num. 6:24-26) 24 The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Next Week’s text: John 17:6-19
Here is the download for the manuscript if you are interested:
Order of Worship—John 13.1-11
Announcements and Call to Worship
We are about to sing “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” There’s a line in the song that says, “teach us how to love each other.” So, our call to worship text comes from Philippians 2 where Paul instructs us on how to love each other in humility. So, let’s call ourselves to worship with this on our minds:
(Phil. 2:3-11) 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
May our lips sing for joy when we think of the humility and love of Christ towards us and may we learn to love and serve each other as we see Christ!
Hymn No. 13 “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”
Welcome and Prayer
Indeed, Lord, we do adore you because your love is unmatched by any. As we are about to sing a song in which we are asking the question, “Amazing love, how can it be that thou, my God, should die for me?” We know because (Rom. 5:7-8)…one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– 8 but Christ shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We were your enemies and yet you have adopted us into your family.
May we live as sons and daughters of the King! The One who came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as ransom for many. May we serve one another, gladly. May we humble ourselves, because you oppose the proud. When we are full of pride, we become defensive and we feel entitled to things that other people do not deserve. “Pride allows us to convince ourselves that we can step over your boundaries without any consequences. We are no longer afraid of you so we write our own rules.”
O Father, you give grace to the humble. Humble us Lord! Mold us into the image of Christ. We are free to be humble for we are sons of the King. We have nothing to prove. We have your favor and you love us just as you love your Son. Though we are of Adam’s helpless race, Jesus bled for us in his mercy. May we praise you, for your mercy has reached us. Amazing love!
Hymn No. 250 “And Can it Be”
(Highlight this line in the song in light of our text)
“And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us: the prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure: one little word shall fell him.”
Hymn No. 656 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
Sermon John 13:1-11
Hymn No. 229 “Are You Washed in the Blood”
(Rev. 7:13-17) “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out
Who’s naughty or nice (Sinatra sings “naughty AND nice” to increase the vagueness?)
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
This song is always in the mix of Christmas songs that we hear this time of the year. Many of them, even this one, I don’t run to the radio or CD player or whatever media from which it comes and turn it off. I see it as a teachable moment. Guarding my kids (and myself) from such things is not the answer. Nor is the answer letting them figure it out on their own. Assuming this has no effect on us is dangerous.
So, what is so malignant about this melody? You have to admit it’s catchy. Fun. Helpful to parents that cannot otherwise get their children to obey them any other time of the year. Who knows what shopping would be like if the parents could not remind the kids about the premise of this song– “You’re not getting anything if you are naughty.” So, is Christmas about giving a gift or a wage? Are we to earn a gift? No. And that is why this melody is malignant (among other things).
I’m assuming the first three lines of the song are phrases used by Santa Claus (and parents) to remind them to straighten up because Santa Claus is coming. I don’t like the equating of crying and pouting. They are not the same. As a parent, crying is allowed and encouraged. There is nothing wrong with crying. It’s needed and good oftentimes. Pouting is different. Pouting is trying to persuade where crying is a response to pain of some sort. Pouting is fake; crying is not.
I don’t think I have to persuade any readers of this post that Santa Claus is not coming. However, the close similarities of what we Christians often talk about is the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again. If you hold off until He comes to “straighten up” it is too late. It is absurd that Santa or Jesus are okay with kids being “nice” only in the month of December (or at least the day before Christmas for the unruly kids). How much is enough to earn the gift? Is a gift leverage? Are the days leading up to Christmas threats? Nice isn’t it?
This is just a side note: how can Santa see and know if you are awake and asleep and have to “find out if you are naughty or/and nice”? Just saying. It seems he should know that too. While we are here, I also cringe that Santa is given such attributes. Only the Triune God has such attributes and to ascribe them to another is troubling and fatal.
“So be good for goodness sake” is another spin or twist of this Christmas story. I thought we were to be good so we would have presents under the tree. I’m not being “good” for nothing. “If I am going to be good it’s going to cost you mom.” What reason do parents give five seconds after the “gift” is opened and the receiver hates it; it is not gift he asked for and throws it aside as rubbish? Being good for goodness sake will not work here or ever. That would be like saying I go to work everyday just to work; not a paycheck. I intentionally do not say thank you to my boss for my wages. They are not a gift. I earned them. Grace and job must be kept separate on this level and together on other levels. This leads to the issue.
One problem with this whole scenario is the meaning of gift. A gift is undeserved. Of course, you are welcome to celebrate Christmas however you so choose but you might want to change the vocabulary. Start calling the presents wages or earnings. That will help them not confuse things. Gifts are gifts. How one responses to a “gift” is a reflection of your love for the giver or your love of the gift. Is it really loving to give a gift only if the kid has met some undefined, ever-changing standard? No. It’s not.
The fact is no one is good. No one. If we get what we have earned that would be eternal punishment. If we receive the gift of salvation that is mercy. And that mercy comes from Someone. When God chooses to love someone for no reason that is grace. Of course, the grace that saves is the grace that transforms. This is the perfect season to describe this. Many have Christmas trees in their homes. We hang ornaments on the tree. Some even look like fruit. You could even hang a real apple on the tree and you should think it odd if someone thought that a Frazier Fur produced an apple. Everybody knows that it can’t do that. Only a real apple tree can produce an apple.
Only a grace-given, mercy-receiving, justified sinner can produce righteousness…fruit. If it comes for external show, it is not true fruit. Granted, it is hard to tell the difference sometimes. Nevertheless, we should be fruit inspectors.
Dear friend, every breath you take today is a gift. A GIFT! Gifts come from Someone and that Someone deserves thanks. How you celebrate Christmas boils down to who you love. Your perspective is different when you understand who you are and who God is. Your ideas of Christmas change when you understand the meaning of gift and love of the giver. We should be eager to give gifts this Christmas season because we have been loved and love; not for goodness sake.
Journal Entry September 5, 2013:
I reflect on the amazing grace in my life as I fill up an entire notebook even before the year is up. This is a first. I have been unable to do this for more than a week at a time in the past. Yet, this time consistency stayed. I don’t say journaling is some superior discipline to be achieved. Its value will be in remembering what the Lord has done for me resulting in more trust and more praise. May it be so. My plan is to begin blogging again starting January 1, 2014. I hope to review the corresponding entry on the same day of the year and use it to write a post. This will have me looking back and remembering and it will help me in writing. Writing in this form will hopefully restart some of those gears that sit idle for the moment. And lastly, I hope the blog will be a help to others. May the grace You have shown me Father be used for your glory!
O Lord, may I see and hear Your word now!
A story told by one of our elders during members’ class. Of course, all illustrations have their limits but this is very helpful:
Pretend that someone came into my house and killed my only son. If as he was fleeing, I took a shotgun and chased him down and killed him, we would call it revenge. If, [however] I called the police and they arrested him and he was sent to prison, we would call it justice. If I went to the jail and told him I forgave him and did not hold anything against him, we would call it mercy. If I forgave him and got him out of jail and took him home and adopted him into my family and he became my son with all the privileges of sonship and full inheritance rights, we would call it grace. That is exactly what our Lord did. We killed His son and yet He forgives us and adopts us into His family with full inheritance rights. Amazing grace!