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Tag: reformed

To promote greater understanding

If you want to understand the differences between Arminian, Reformed and Lutheran Theologies, read the following book:

http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Spirituality-Five-Views-Sanctification/dp/0830812784/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414103229&sr=1-2&keywords=five+views+on+sanctification

That is all.

Devotional: Psalm 78

Devotional Psalm 78

This Psalm is a Maskil, which is a Psalm of instruction.  Some Psalms were prayers, others had liturgical applications.  Psalm 78 refers to the importance of instruction by instructing.

In our world, students are taught by rote memorization.  The better you memorize and can regurgitate facts, the better you will do in school.  This model begins in preschool and continues all the way through college.  By contrast, this method is not used past the 6th grade in Great Britain.

In ancient Israel, the Torah, or first five books of Moses, was the foundation for all of life in this world.

The Psalmist states that this is important stuff; that we should listen.  He tells us what he is going to teach starting in verse 2:

2I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old

Nothing is so intriguing as the unveiling of a mystery.  When I was a kid, we all watched while Geraldo Rivera opened a vault owned by Al Capone on live t.v.  There was nothing inside, but it was great television because of the anticipation from revealing a mystery.

Contrast the revelation of mystery to verse 3:

3things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers have told us.

Doesn’t it seem strange that the speaker in verse 2 is telling us he is going to reveal a mystery, and in verse 3 that we have heard and known it, and it is common knowledge?  Yet, this is the work of Philip as he speaks to the Ethiopian eunuch.  He reveals that Jesus is the Christ through Isaiah’s book.

We, too are called as future ministers of the Gospel to reveal the Christ hidden in the pages of the Old Testament.  We are called to teach as Christ did after his resurrection when he walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”.

Luther once said that Christ can be found on every page of Scripture.  That may be stretching it a little, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work to reveal Christ in the Old Testament.  Additionally, we have the New Testament, much of which is a commentary on the Old.  It helps us to see Christ as the New Adam.  Christ as Melchizedek.  Christ as a new Moses, leading us out of captivity.

And this is how the Old Testament is used as parable: The account of Moses leading Israel out of Egypt is not merely historical record.  It is a parable of how we have been rescued from the slavery of sin into the promised land through the waters of Baptism by Jesus.

My brothers and sister, we have been called to do this for God’s people.  To find Jesus, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the Old Testament.

And, likewise, we can find the Torah in the New Testament.  Consider Hebrews.  The meaning of this book is greatly deepened by understanding the roles of a prophet, a priest and a king in the Old Testament.

There is an ongoing dialogue between these two testaments.  The thread that runs through both is Jesus Christ.

Begin with Moses.  Begin by reading the accounts of creation, promise to Abraham, exodus and David’s reign.  Read Hebrews simultaneously.  Draw comparisons.  See the contrasts.  Discover what Luther discovered, that there is more gospel in the Old Testament than in the New.  If and when you do, your sermons will fill the listeners with faith and rescue them from rote learning.

The good work of trials

Hebrews 12:

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

I don’t like trials.  Initially, I respond badlyto them.  I resist them, deny they are happening, and sometimes, get angry.  They really suck.

And the intensity of trials (nowhere to run to escape them) causes us to think they are evil.  They are only present because God’s blessing is absent.  In fact, the reverse is true.

God tells Ananias to lay hands on Paul of Tarsus, a man who had sorely persecuted the church (Acts 9):

13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Emphasis mine).

Paul, himself, states in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church”

What’s the deal, God?  Why are you sending pain into the life of a guy you just converted?  Shouldn’t he become a king or something?

1 Pet. 2 states:

20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.  21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps …

So, even we are called to enter into suffering.  But, not purposeless suffering.  It is the means by which God disciplines us into acceptable sons and daughters, properly trained in this life to be princes and princesses ruling in the next.

Our humiliation in this life is the result of sin, but orchestrated for our benefit to train us.

Where is God when we go through trials?  We are pitied, felt sorry for, and spoken of in quiet tones.  In this world, the trials Christians suffer seem shameful, as if God rejected us.  The truth is, the trials we go through is a test of our faith, but a judgment on those who are not counted worthy as sons and daughters to go through these trials.  God does not abandon us during trials (despite feelings and confusion); He is intimately connected to us in them.

We can respond in many ways, but a good close reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John will reveal the opposition and difficulties Christ faced on this earth.  Hold fast to Him.   Remember, Jesus Christ, himself, is interceding for you and me.  Pray for yourself.  Pray for me.  We share His name, therefore, we share His sufferings.

Jesus, himself, led a lousy, deprived, short, and, seemingly meaningless life to outward observers.  But all the trials, testing, and temptations led to the ultimate glory to God … The death of the Lamb on the tree.  And without the death, there is no sonship for us whatsoever.  We would be lost for all eternity.  His work is the blessed work of the cross.  It was the epic, total destruction and disarming of the powers of evil.  And, it couldn’t have happened unless Jesus suffered unto death.

So, when people think you’re suffering is bad, sad, or shameful, tell them that it is the very proof that God is your Father. Tell them He has counted you worthy to share in Christ’s sufferings in this life so you can share His glory in the next.

Amen

Want to stop sinning?

Why the Law cannot help you stop sinning by Tullian Tchividjian:

http://networkedblogs.com/xqcc2

 

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