Pray that God’s people would repent and look to Him for mercy and understanding of the truth

“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” Daniel 9:13 (Read Daniel, chapter 9)

Have you ever known a church or a church body to admit and confess its sin and seek the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness? Even though they may not claim it to be so, the attitudes and actions of church bodies often give the appearance that they count themselves infallible in their official actions.

Consider what happened to the visible church in the Old Testament – to God’s people Israel. They turned aside from following after the LORD God and from His Word and commandments. Again and again God warned them and called upon them to repent, but did they heed God’s Word spoken to them by the prophets. Finally, God’s judgments spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy (see 28:15ff.) and by the prophets came true and the land was made desolate, the temple and Jerusalem destroyed and the people scatted among the nations.

Daniel recognized from the Scriptures that God was righteous and that it was his own people who had sinned and brought all this evil upon themselves. Thus, He prayed that God would have mercy and forgive the sins of his people and, according to the prophesy of Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:21f.), that God would restore them to their land and and to true worship and service of God.

How true this is today as well! Not only have we and God’s people sinned as individuals, we have sinned as churches and church bodies in departing from the Word of the Lord and from true worship and service to the LORD God who has both created and redeemed us!

Instead of faithfully proclaiming God’s Word and calling all to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world, we have failed to preach God’s law in all its severity and His gospel in all its sweetness, leaving people with the false belief that God is satisfied with our own righteousnesses rather than directing people to the only righteousness which avails before God – that which is imputed to us through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Tit. 3:3-7; Phil. 3:8-9; Rom. 3:19-26). And, when it comes to teaching all that Christ has commanded us (Matt. 28:19-20), we have often neglected to hold fast to every article of Christian doctrine, often conforming to the world rather than following Christ our head and holding fast to His Word (cf. Eph. 5:22ff.; Rom. 12:1-2).

In Daniel, we have an beautiful example – an example for us to follow in regard to our prayers and petitions to the Lord God. We pray, acknowledging not only our sins as individuals but our corporate sin as a congregation, as Lutherans, as members of Christ’s visible church in this world, even as a nation. We confess our sins and pray that God would pardon our sins and turn us from our iniquities and to a right understanding of His truth. We pray for His mercy in Christ Jesus!

O LORD God, have mercy upon us, upon our churches and upon our nation. We have sinned in turning aside from Your Word and from Your salvation in Christ Jesus. You are righteous; we have gone astray. Pardon our sin and restore us to a right understanding of Your truth, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

It’s time for Christians to come out of the closet

For many years we’ve heard of people being “in the closet” in regard to one moral issue or another. There were closet drug users, closet drinkers, closet lovers or, as used most commonly, closet homosexuals.

The reason people practiced their lifestyles “in the closet” was simply because their lifestyles were not accepted as the norm and because they violated commonly held moral principles based on the Bible.

Sad to say, the tables have now been turned and the lifestyles which were once the exception and practiced secretly and behind closed doors are now out of the closet and practiced openly. And those who would testify to the immorality of such practices are being shoved into the closet with threat of the door being forever locked and the key thrown away.

This is the case, especially, in regard to gay rights and the gay movement in America. Not only has the gay lifestyle come out of the closet, the movement seeks to silence Christians and anyone else who would say with the Bible that the lifestyle is sinful and an abomination condemned by the LORD God. While liberal Christianity (if it can even be called Christian) has abandoned and explained away Biblical teaching on the subject (cf. Matt. 5:13ff.), Biblical Christianity is being badgered into the closet with accusations of hate and intolerance and with legislative and judicial action.

The question then for Christians is when are they going to come out of the closet and stand for the truth of God’s Word? When are they going to stop letting the world shame them into silence and stand up and say what God says?

And what does God say in regard to the homosexual lifestyle, and of other forms of adultery and fornication?

First of all, we must remember that God is the designer and creator of marriage between one man and one woman.

The Bible is clear when it says: “God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:27-28); and “And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:18-25).”

And God forbade adultery and homosexuality. Why? Because it was an aberration of His purpose and design for a life-long union between a man and a woman in marriage. He forbade adultery and lust and called homosexuality and adultery of any kind an “abomination” (Lev. 18; Ex. 20). And Jesus echoed the Old Testament teaching when He spoke against adultery and upheld God’s institution of marriage recorded in Genesis (cf. Matt. 5:27ff; 19:3ff.).

God not only condemned and judged homosexuality and sodomy in the Old Testament (Gen. 19), He continues to condemn and warn against it in the New – along with adultery, fornication, lying and a host of other sins – (Rom. 1:18ff.; Jude 7; Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Eph. 5:3ff.; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8).

So what are Christians to say? Can we claim to follow Christ and proclaim His Word if we sit quietly in the closet and say nothing of the sin which rages in the world around us? Are we being faithful to Christ’s great commission if we do not call upon all to repent of their sinful and rebellious ways and look to the Lord Jesus for mercy and forgiveness (cf. Luke 24:46-47; Matt. 28:18-20)?

Jesus calls us to love our neighbors. How can we love them if we do not speak the truth to them and warn them of the coming judgment of God upon all who do not repent (cf. Eph. 4:15,32)?

It’s time to come out of the closet and call sin sin that we might also proclaim the Gospel and offer God’s mercy and forgiveness and healing in Christ Jesus.

Should we keep quiet or speak out? Keep our faith in the closet or come out and proclaim it upon the mountaintops?

Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

Go, tell your friends what Jesus has done for you!

“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all [men] did marvel.” Mark 5:18-20 (Read 1-20)

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and having been rescued from the bonds of our own sinfulness, we long to be with Christ Jesus but Jesus, for a time, leaves us behind in this world that we might go to our friends, neighbors, coworkers and others and tell them of the great things the Lord Jesus has done for us and how He has had mercy upon us.

Though we may wish not to compare ourselves to the demon-possessed man of Gadara, there are more similarities than we might think. He was under the control of the devil and could not free himself from Satan’s control. We may not be bodily possessed, but we are born into this world in the kingdom of darkness and are by nature under the rule of sin – our selfish and sinful longings and desires influence all we think, say and do. And, we are unable to free ourselves from these bonds.

We, too, recognize Jesus for who He is, the Son of God and the Judge of all on the Last Day. We may even desire Jesus to leave us alone in our sin and wickedness rather than judge and condemn us for our disobedience and sin. We would rather avoid confronting the holy Son of God and may keep our Bibles closed and choose not to go where His Word is preached.

Jesus has compassion on us, comes to us and comforts us with the Gospel of forgiveness and life through His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world. His Spirit, working through the Word, assures us Jesus has suffered our punishment and is risen again in victory. He assures us that God forgives our sins and accepts us for Jesus’ sake (cf. Col. 1:12ff.). And we have the promise of being completely free from sin when we are translated from this world to our eternal home with Jesus in heaven (cf. Phil. 3:20f.; Ps. 17:15).

We long to go and be with Jesus (cf. Phil. 1:22ff.; Rom. 7:18ff.), but Jesus leaves us behind for a time and commands us to go to our friends and neighbors and tell them what things Christ Jesus has done for us (cf. Mt. 28:16ff.; Mk. 16:15f.; Lk. 24:46f.; Ps. 71:17f.). We are to tell people that the kingdom of God is at hand and call upon all to repent and take hold of the forgiveness and life offered and given us for Jesus’ sake (cf. Mk. 1:15)!

O dearest Jesus, thank you for translating me from the kingdom of darkness into Your everlasting kingdom. Move me to tell others what You have done for me and for all by Your atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

God still has work for us to do in our old age

“O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” Psalm 71:17-18

For most, the words of 2 Timothy 3:15 are true of us: “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Through the instruction of our parents, Christian day-school teachers, Sunday school teachers and our pastors, we learned of our sinfulness and of God’s mercy and forgiveness in His Son, Christ Jesus. We learned of God’s mighty works, from creation to God’s judgment in the flood to our salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have seen through the Scriptures God’s merciful dealings with other sinful human beings like us, as well as His judgments upon the rebellious and impenitent.

With this knowledge from God’s inspired Word, we have every reason to glorify and praise our God for having mercy upon us, bringing us to know of forgiveness and life in Jesus our Savior. But, we still have work to do even in our last years.

“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”

Even if our children are raised and have families of their own, our work here in this world is not done until God calls us home to be with Him forever.

We are here to bear witness to the next generations of the mighty workings of the LORD God who created us and all things, who cares for us and preserves us, who gave His only-begotten Son to die for us and redeem us back to Him, who continues to bring us to repentance and revives our faith in Him and His mercy in Jesus, who keeps us in the assurance our sins are forgiven and who will ultimately take us home to be with Him!

With the psalmist, we pray: “O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

Comfort as the nations rage….

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14 (Read chapter 7)

Though the kingdoms of this world rise and fall, there is one kingdom which will endure forever, that of Jesus Christ, the Son of man in Daniel’s vision (cf. Dan. 2:44; Ps. 2).

God revealed to Daniel the rise and fall of four world kingdoms – the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman kingdoms. Rising out of the Roman Empire with its 10 horns would be a revived empire and one horn speaking against the LORD and persecuting and warring against the saints.

The prophecy has been partially fulfilled. The world kingdoms have come. The Roman Empire was revived in the West under Charles the Great (Charlemagne) as the Holy Roman Empire and the office of the Papacy was further elevated to become a world power so that kings and rulers submitted themselves to the Pope. True Christians suffered greatly and many, many were persecuted and put to death for holding to the Scriptures as the only source of divine truth and to Christ alone for salvation.

While the Roman Papacy was revealed for what it is – the Antichrist described in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13 and 17 – at the time of the Reformation, the influence of the Papacy continues today over both outward churches and civil authorities. And, to a degree, the revived Roman Empire continues in the nations of the Western world.

But God has revealed to us, not only the judgment of the kingdoms of this world and of the little horn in Daniel 7, but the coming establishment of the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though the nations of this earth rebel against the LORD God and His Anointed, Christ will judge them with a rod of iron and establish His own eternal kingdom in which righteousness dwells (Ps. 2).

How important that the kings of the earth kiss the Son in humble submission now before it is too late and His judgment comes upon them! How important is is that we humble ourselves before the Lord Jesus Christ, confess our sins and receive His mercy and pardon!

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – trusting in Him and His blood shed for us upon the cross – we may be persecuted now but we shall inherit the kingdom of our Lord Jesus and dwell with Him eternally. And He shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15)!

Dear Messiah Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, grant to us the blessings of Your never-ending kingdom through faith in Your name. Amen.

[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

Which kinds of soil are you?

1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, 3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive [it], and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. Mark 4:1-20

As we read the parable of the sower and its explanation, we are quick to identify people we know with the poor kinds of soil and ourselves with the good ground. But, when we do this, we miss the warning and comfort of this parable for ourselves.

This parable certainly warns against being like one of the three poor kinds of soil. We may think of ourselves as the good soil, but how often do we not also fit the descriptions of the poor ground?

Many times we are like the hard ground. The Word of God is sown upon us, but it doesn’t sink in and produce fruit in our lives because we have either been uninterested or inattentive. Then the Word is snatched away by the devil.

Often we are also like the rocky soil or the thorny ground. In times of affliction or persecution, we shrink back from a bold and faithful confession of the truths of God’s Word because we have not let that Word sink its roots deep into our lives. And how often we let the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things in this life keep us from faithfully hearing and learning God’s Word!

When we are good soil, we can take no credit for this. We must say with Jesus that it is a blessing of the Lord when the Word sinks in, grows, and produces fruit in our lives (Matt. 13:16). It is the Lord who cultivates the soil of our hearts, breaking up the hard ground, removing the rocks and killing the weeds, that the Gospel of forgiveness of sins and life eternal for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death might be heard and believed by us and produce fruit in our lives.

Almighty God, Thy Word is cast like seed into the ground; now let the dew of heaven descend and righteous fruits abound. Amen. (TLH, Hymn #49, Verse 1)

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

Holding fast to Christ in persecution

“My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”  Daniel 6:22 (Read chapter 6)

The Bible tells us: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). But it also tells us: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4:15-16).

The world dislikes and hates followers of Jesus Christ. They seek opportunity to discredit them and destroy their witness to the truth. Somehow, if a Christian falls, it delights the world because the Christian witness against the sinful ways of this world is destroyed and people can feel good about themselves and excuse their need for repentance and faith in Christ Jesus.

The enemies of Daniel were jealous of God’s blessings upon him but could find no fault in him, nothing they could use against him to bring him down. Thus, they devised a plan to legislate his demise with a temporary law against prayer.

Rather than compromise his faith, Daniel chose to obey God rather than men (cf. Acts 5:29) even though he knew it could bring about death. Daniel, trusting in the LORD God and looking forward to the everlasting blessings of God’s eternal kingdom in the Messiah and Savior, chose to continue to pray even if it meant punishment and death in this life.

And Daniel’s faith was rewarded. God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and preserved Daniel from the death that was decreed for him. But even if God had let Daniel die, Daniel looked forward to the resurrection and to eternal life in God’s everlasting kingdom.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we can expect the world to hate us and to seek to silence our witness to the truth. People don’t want to be reminded of their sinfulness or of God’s coming judgment. They don’t want to repent of their evil ways or to walk in the ways of the LORD. They don’t want Christians or Christian principles in high places and seek to use man-made laws to silence us.

Are we ready to face the lions? To obey God rather than men even if it means suffering or death? We can expect to be hated and persecuted for the truth!

What’s at stake? If we compromise and turn away from Christ, we may save our lives in this world but will lose them eternally. If we hold fast to Christ, we have in Him forgiveness for all our sins for the sake of His shed blood and a place in His everlasting kingdom (cf. Mark 8:34-38; Rev. 2:10b)!

Dear LORD Jesus, keep us faithful to You unto death for in You and for the sake of Your cross we have the eternal blessings of heaven. Amen.

[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible]

Are you sick with sin? Jesus offers healing

“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

It’s easy for us to sit back and think of all the people we know who are spiritually sick and in need of a physician to heal their soul, but what about us? Are we sick?

We might like to think we are fine, but the truth speaks otherwise. A close examination of ourselves in the mirror of God’s law shows our spiritual sickness inside and out.

I must admit that I am sin sick. By nature (as I am by birth), the thoughts and desires of my heart are only evil continually (cf. Gen. 6:5 and 8:21). Even as a Christian, my old sinful nature keeps me from doing those things God’s Spirit, who dwells within me, causes me to desire. And I often do those things God’s Spirit would have me avoid.

Though I may desire to love God with all my heart and soul and serve Him by obeying His commandments, I come short. I fail. Instead of perfect love for God and neighbor, I find myself lacking in my desire to serve God and thinking of my wants and desires before considering God’s will and the needs of others.

Sometimes, my sin-sick heart causes thoughts and actions I deplore to spill over into my life. St. Paul described this when he wrote (Rom. 7:22-24): “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Jeremiah was only speaking God’s truth when he said of our human hearts (Jer. 17:9): “The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

So, do I need a physician to heal my very heart and soul? Absolutely! My heart and soul are sick with sin and infected by evil.

As a spiritually-sick sinner, Jesus calls me to repentance – to acknowledge and turn from my sinful ways to Him for mercy and forgiveness. He lived a perfect and sinless life in my stead and then suffered the just punishment for my sin and the sin of the whole world when He was crucified and died upon the cross. Apart from Him, I stand condemned. In Him, I am pardoned and forgiven!

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Why? Because our “advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2).

As the physician of our souls, Jesus calls us to repentance, forgives our sins and promises us eternal life. As a pledge and guarantee of our redemption, He gives us His Holy Spirit, who regenerates us and gives us new hearts with new thoughts and desires.

And though we still suffer the ravages of sin here in this world, He assures us that when we die and are raised up to new life with Him in His kingdom, our sin-sick bodies will be changed into glorious and heavenly bodies like His. Sin will be gone. Its ravages and results – including death – will be no more. We will dwell with our Lord in righteousness and purity forever (cf. Psalm 17:15)!

Thus, “our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

“We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).

Remember Jesus’ words: “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

To deny our sinfulness and hide it when it infects every aspect of our lives will only keep us from the help we need and result in eternal death. To acknowledge our utter sinfulness and look to Jesus for pardon and healing will bring us life and healing – and when we are raised up on the last day, we will be whole!

O gracious and merciful Savior, I am a poor and miserable sinner. Sin affects every area of my life and works death in me. Have mercy upon me. Forgive my sins for the sake of Your blood, shed upon the cross. And heal me through the regenerating work of Your Spirit and make me whole when I awake like You in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

 

Words of Encouragement for July 23, 2014

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12

By nature, all of our hearts are full of “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19). Instead of loving the LORD and desiring to do His holy will, our thoughts, by nature, are “only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

As Christians, who trust in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for salvation, the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and gives us love for God and holy thoughts and desires. As the Bible says, we are “washed … sanctified … and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). Our “body is the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6 19).

Yet in this world, we are still sinners. Like David, we need to acknowledge our sins, turn to the LORD for His grace and forgiveness, and pray that God would create “a clean heart” and “renew a right spirit” within us.

When we consider how we continue to come short and fail to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit through the Word, we deserve to be cast away from the presence of the LORD and have His Holy Spirit taken from us. How we grieve God’s Spirit when we go our own way and sin rather than give heed to the admonition and warning of God’s Word (cf. Eph. 4:30)! With David, we all have reason to pray, “Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”

When we turn aside from following the Holy Spirit – when we turn into sin and evil – the joy which comes from being an heir of salvation and walking with the Lord is overshadowed by guilt and despair. We feel God’s wrath upon us. We know that we have failed again and are deserving of His everlasting punishment (cf. Ps. 32:3-4; 51:3-5).

But, like David, we look to the LORD God for mercy, acknowledging our sins and failures to the LORD and turning to Him for pardon and forgiveness for the sake of the Son, Jesus Christ, and His innocent sufferings and death in our stead.

We pray with David in Psalm 51:1-9: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

And, we also pray with David: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.”

Only God’s Spirit can restore in us that joy of knowing that in Jesus we have forgiveness and eternal salvation! Only the Holy Spirit can uphold us and keep us in the true and saving faith!

Let us then pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.” Amen.

 

Church YouTube Channel

The church now has its own YouTube channel where worship service videos and other materials may be watched. The web address is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVfTHbq6uVGyPgyG7Pz4Rkw.

 

The Case for Christ

Lee Strobel, a journalist, examines “The Case for Christ” and turns from atheism to the Christian Faith. The video is useful because it answers the misconceptions and objections of many in regard to Christ, who He is and what He did for our salvation. It may be watched at: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FJ9FMMNU.

 

The Case for Faith

Lee Strobel, a journalist, examines “The Case for Faith.” How can Christianity claim Jesus is the only way? and, If there is a good and loving God, how can there be so much evil in this world? Though the video may fall short in explaining the fall of man and its affect on man’s free will and our inability, of ourselves, to know and come to Christ, the video and his book provide good and useful answers for our own doubts and for the objections of others. It’s certainly worth watching and considering: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FJ0J2FNU.

 

Preparing for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 69:1-18; Daniel 5:1-31; Mark 3:22-35. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship.

Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the Book of Genesis, in chapter 10.

 

Verse to Remember

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12

 

Remember to Pray

Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – especially for Tim, Mel, Bill – for our extended families – for Janet’s sister, for Jessica, Naomi, and Tristan – and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. We remember the churches and pastors in the Philippines. We pray for those suffering and persecuted around the world. And we pray for our nation and its rulers, that our people would repent and look to God for mercy, forgiveness and direction.

 

Announcements

Prayer Request Cards are located in the back of the church and may be filled out and given to the pastor or an usher to include people or requests in the Sunday prayers.

A special fund to assist those in need has been started by the church council. Members may designate special offerings for this fund if they wish. The pastor and council members are authorized to distribute money from this fund when needed.

A Pot-Luck Dinner is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 3, following the worship service. All are invited to join us for this time together.

Church Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the church.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

Weighed in the Balances and Found Wanting

“If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Psalm 130:3-4

Our days in this world are numbered, and we have come short of what God requires of us as His creatures. Hence, the words of Psalm 130:3: “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?”

The answer, of course, is that none of us would stand. We have been weighed in the scales of God’s righteous judgment and are found wanting. Our lives are filled with sin in our thoughts, desires, words and actions.

If the LORD were to mark our every iniquity in His books and keep record of our every failure, who could stand in His judgment? Who is innocent of all sin? Who can stand before God and proclaim his own righteousness under the law?

Yet, that is what many plan to do – to seek acceptance with God on the basis of their own life and works. But God demands more – He demands perfect obedience in thought, word and deed.

Even Christians cannot stand. Our hearts are divided. We may have the desire to love the LORD with all our heart, mind and soul, but we don’t. We may desire to obey all God’s commandments, but we fail. Knowing that God demands that we be holy as He is holy (cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48), we can easily be discouraged and even become angry with God for demanding of us what we are not able to do. God’s law condemns us all.

God’s Word, however, also gives us comfort when it says in verse 4: “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”

The LORD God forgives sins! As the psalm promises, God sent His own Son to die for our sins and provide for us “plenteous redemption” (v. 7). Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died not only for the sins of Israel; He made atonement for the sins of the whole world and rose again (cf. Matt. 1:21; 1 John 2:1-2). We therefore hope in the LORD and trust in His mercy.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Our God “hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6-7).

Have we come short? Are we found wanting in God’s judgment? Yes, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But we also are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).

Dear LORD God, we give You thanks that You have redeemed us in the Son and forgive all our sins for Jesus’ sake. In His name we pray. Amen.

[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible]