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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Phillip's Phunnies - Has 2005 Gone to the Dogs?

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Our last edition of Phillip's Phunnies in 2005 will feature a few jokes about man's best friend - dogs! I hope these will bring a smile on your face!

Did you hear about the cowboy who got himself a dachshund for Christmas? His cowboy buddies were always telling him to
"Get a long little doggie."

What do you call a dog with no legs?
Answer #1
Answer #2
Doesn't matter.
No matter what you call him he isn't coming!

So where can you find a no-legged dog?
Right where you left him!

What do you get when you cross a pit bull with a collie?
A dog that runs for help after he bites your leg off.

How come the Dalmatian couldn't hide?
She was already spotted.

What do lazy dogs chase?
Parked cars.

How are dogs like phones?
They have collar ID.

Dog Rules - Part 1

If I like it, it's mine.
If its in my mouth, it's mine.
If I can take it from you, it's mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
If I'm chewing something up, all the pieces are mine.
If its mine, it must never appear to be yours anyway.
If it just looks like mine, it's mine.

Dog Rules - Part 2

When visitors come to your house,
determine which one is afraid of dogs.
Charge across the room, barking loudly to greet them,
and jump up on them to show them how happy you are to see them.

Dogs are expected to bark, so bark a lot.

Always take a big drink from your water dish before licking anyone.

Dinner Table Manners
Sit directly under the table so that you can
clean up any food as soon as it falls on the floor.

Housebreaking is very important to humans,
so break as much of the house as possible.

How Many Dogs Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Border Collie:
Just one. Then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.

Make me!

Oh, me, me! Pleeease let me change the light bulb! Can I? Huh? Huh?

You know I can't reach it! It's too high!

Let the Border Collie do it. You can feed me while he's busy.

Jack Russell Terrier:
I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls.

It isn't moving. Who cares?

I'm not afraid of the dark.

While it's out, I'll just take a nap on the couch.

Who needs light? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

I see it, there it is, there it is, right there!

Yo quiero Taco Bulb?

Australian Shepherd:
First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...

Basset Hound:

Dogs do not change light bulbs -- people change light bulbs. I am not one of THEM so the question is,
how long before I can expect my light again?

I'll just let the Border Collie do it.
By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.

Golden Retriever:
The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a burned-out bulb?

Mind Games Dogs Play on Their Owners

After your owners give you a bath, don't let them towel dry you! Instead, run to their bed, jump up and dry yourself off on the sheets. This is especially good if it's right before your owner's bedtime.

Act like a convicted criminal. When your owners come home, put your ears back, tail between your legs, chin down and act as if you have done something really bad. Then, watch as Your owners frantically search the house for the damage they think you have caused. (Note: This only works when you have done absolutely nothing wrong.)

Let your owners teach you a brand new trick. Learn it perfectly. Then when your owners try to demonstrate it to someone else, stare blankly back at them. Pretend you have no idea what they're talking about.

Make your owners be patient. When you go outside to go, sniff around the entire yard as your owners wait. Act as if the spot you choose to go will ultimately decide the fate of the earth.

Draw attention to your owner. When out for a walk always pick the busiest, most visible spot to go. Take your time and make sure everyone watches.

When out for a walk, alternate between choking and coughing every time a stranger walks by.

Make your own rules. Don't always bring back the stick when playing fetch with your owners. Make them go and chase it once in a while.

Hide from your owners. When they come home, don't greet them at the door. Instead, hide from them, and make them think something terrible has happened to you. (Don't reappear until one of your humans is panic-stricken and close to tears).

When your owner calls you to come back in, always take your time. Walk as slowly as possible back to the door.

Wake up twenty minutes before the alarm clock is set to go off and make your owner take you outside. As soon as you get back inside, fall asleep. (Humans can rarely fall back asleep after going outside, this will drive them nuts!)

We Were Framed. The Cat Did It!

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (#49-70)

Remembering that we are setting out to make New Year's REVOLUTIONS, changes and transformations in who and what we are, striving to be more and more like Jesus Christ in the New Year, let us examine prayerfully the resolutions of the great theologian and pastor, Jonathan Edwards.

Here are the last 22 of Jonathan Edward's Resolutions:

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.

59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14' and July '3' 1723.

64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear', of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (#25-48)

Remembering that we are setting out to make New Year's REVOLUTIONS, changes and transformations in who and what we are, striving to be more and more like Jesus Christ in the New Year, let us examine prayerfully the resolutions of the great theologian and pastor, Jonathan Edwards.

Here are the next 24 of Jonathan Edward's Resolutions:

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to east away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.

38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

44. Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peace able, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (#1-24)

Remembering that we are setting out to make New Year's REVOLUTIONS, changes and transformations in who and what we are, striving to be more and more like Jesus Christ in the New Year, let us examine prayerfully the resolutions of the great theologian and pastor, Jonathan Edwards.

Here are the first 24 of Jonathan Edward's Resolutions:

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

(Resolutions 1 through 21 written in one sitting in New Haven in 1722)

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New Year's Revolutions

We will pick up in the New Year with our daily devotionals from a specific text of Scripture, but for this last week of 2005 I would like us to examine the habit of making, hoping to keep, and often breaking New Year's Resolutions. This is a good time to make resolutions, though we should never limit our desire to do what is right and good to just one day a year.

We should daily be striving to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. As I heard John MacArthur on the radio last night, he preached that we should remember that our pursuit of Christ and His glory is not complete once we are saved! It is a contiunual process of pressing on toward the goal, it is daily, it is a war, it is like running in a race to finish and to win! Often though we get spiritually lazy and so make a few resolutions to get fit physically, to eat right, to put others first, to watch less tv and be better stewards over the finances with which God has entrusted us.

However, I think we need to focus on the spiritual things too! You know, being spiritually fit ("walk worthy of the calling with which you were called"; be salt and light), eating right (daily consumption of the Word of God, meditating on it day and night - Psalm 1), and even learning to develop desires for the Word of God and being right with Him - otherwise identified by Jesus as hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

We need to make a few resolutions, and determine to keep them! But even more than making resolutions, I believe we need to see a few revolutions. Yes indeed, New Year's REVOLUTIONS.

A resolution is only as strong as our own fallen willpower, our resolve. It is a good intention that often gets discarded rather quickly. It is an attempt to change behavior and attitudes but in truth, we are not changed ourselves. A revolution on the other hand is a complete change, a turn around, a transformation in who we are. It is becoming a new man, not just teaching the old man to do a new trick. It is a change in our being!

The first such revolution takes place when we are convicted of our sin, called effectually by the Holy Spirit, regenerated by His power through the Word of God, given by free grace the gifts of grace, repentance, and faith, and as we trust Christ, turning from our sin in repentance and turning to Him in faith we are freely justified and forgiven. Our sin debt has been paid and we are reconciled to God. This is a revolution. We are a new creation, the old has passed away and all things have been made new.

But now we must walk by faith day by day, the same kind of active, working faith that saves us sustains us as we grow in grace. We must die to our own desires daily, taking up our cross, denying self and obeying our Lord, our Master Jesus Christ. And as we continue to be convicted of sin and as we continue to grow in grace we find that we are in need of further transformation. In fact, this ongoing transformation is a regular part of our duty in worship to God (Rom 12:1-2)!

This continuation of being transformed, known theologically as sanctification, is accomplished in us by the Spirit through the Word of God (John 17:17). And proof of this ongoing work of the Spirit in saving us is seen in how we think, act, and talk. It is also revealed by who and what we are!

Are you a revolutionary? Are you being transformed today into the image of Christ? Are you ready to make a few resolutions? If so, STOP. Do not make any New Year's Resolutions. No! Instead, pray and seek God for grace to make a few New Year's Revolutions!! Changes in your character, your thinking, your conversation, your behavior, your attitude, and in your faith!

This week, we will take a look at Jonathan Edwards Resolutions. (I think he should have called them "revolutions", but that's okay). What he resolved shows us how to pursue revolution in our own lives. It will be a guide for us as we do give serious thought about the year we are completing and the year about to begin. Through the week we will be laying the ground work to answer the question, "What kind of Christian will I be in 2006?" And by God's grace, we will press toward the mark of being just like Jesus!

Tune in tomorrow for the first installment of Jonathan Edward's Resolutions.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

This Is What It Is All About

The Gospel of Luke

Chapter 1
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. 39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” 46 And Mary said:

My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. 49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.

56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Chapter 2
1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

The Congregation of Maranatha Community Church, TIME in the Word Ministries, and Pastor and Mrs. Way wish you all a very Happy and Merry CHRISTmas as we take the time to rejoice and bless the Lord for His incredible mercy shown to us in the Incarnation of His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

One Hundred Twenty-Three Years Ago Today

Visit here for a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon on December 24, 1882.


Friday, December 23, 2005

The Role and Duties of Pastors - Part 2

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - 1 Peter 5:2-3
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

Daily Scripture Reading - Hebrews 13

Puritan Catechism
Question #11 - What are God's works of providence?
Answer - God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).

Devotional Thoughts

The Role and Duties of Pastors - Part 2
An Examination of the Scriptural Duties for Pastors

Having looked at the qualifications for one who would be called and appointed by God to serve the church as an elder, now we will move on to take a brief look, a snapshot really, of what the Bible has to say about the duties of a pastor. What is the job description for a pastor?

1. Shepherd the Flock - 1 Peter 5:1-3

a. Exercise oversight willingly
b. Without abusing power
c. Never for dishonest gain
d. With eagerness
e. Leading by example, not by domination

2. Equip the Saints - Eph. 4:12-16

a. For the work of the ministry
b. For the edification of the Body
c. To be unified in faith and knowledge of the Son of God
d. To be mature and like Christ
e. To be certain of what they believe
f. To speak the Truth in love
g. To work together in growth and edification in love

3. Charge (command, instruct) the Saints - 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:17; 2 Tim. 2:14

a. To teach sound doctrine
b. To refuse lies that cause disputes
c. Not to be haughty if they are rich
d. Not to trust in riches but in the Living God
e. Not to strive about words to no profit

4. Teach - 1 Tim. 2:7; 4:6, 11; 6:2; 2 Tim. 4:2

a. Faith in Jesus
b. Truth
c. Sound doctrine
d. Contentment
e. Honorable living
f. With longsuffering while convincing, rebuking, and exhorting

5. Reject - 1 Tim. 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:16; Titus 3:10

a. Fables
b. Profane and idle babblings
c. A divisive man after one or two warnings (church discipline)

6. Exercise godliness - 1 Tim 4:7, 10, 12-16; Titus 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:6

a. Labor and suffer reproach if necessary
b. Let no one despise your youthful age
c. Be an example to the believers
d. Give attention to reading, exhortation, and doctrine
e. Do not neglect your spiritual gift(s)
f. Meditate on God's Word, giving yourself to it completely
g. Have evidence of your spiritual progress
h. Take heed to yourself and your doctrine
i. Continue in truth

7. Exhort - 1 Tim. 5:1-3; Titus 1:9

a. Others
b. And convict (convince) with sound doctrine those who contradict truth

8. Rebuke - 1 Tim.5:20; Titus 1:10-13

a. Sinners in the presence of all
b. By stopping the mouths of insubordinate, idle talkers
c. Sharply those not sound in the faith

9. Keep - 1 Tim. 5:22; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:14

a. Yourself pure
b. The commandments
c. The Word that has been committed to you

10. Pursue - 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22

a. Righteousness
b. Godliness
c. Faith
d. Love
e. Patience
f. Gentleness
g. Peace

11. Remind - 2 Tim. 2:14; Titus 3:1

a. Of the gospel
b. To be obedient

12. Be - 2 Tim. 2:1, 24; 2 Tim. 4:2, 5

a. Strong in grace
b. Gentle
c. Able to teach
d. Always ready
e. Watchful in all things

13. Do not - 2 Tim. 1:8; 2:24

a. Be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord
b. Quarrel

14. Speak - Titus 2:1, 11-14, 15

a. Things proper for sound doctrine
b. These things
c. Exhortations, rebuking with all authority

15. Withdraw, avoid, flee, and turn away from - 1 Tim. 6:3-5, 11, 20; 2 Tim. 2:22-23; 3:5, 9

a. False Teachers
b. Greed and evil
c. Profane and idle babblings, contradictions
d. Youthful lusts
e. Foolish and ignorant disputes
f. Evil-doers (according to 2 Tim. 3:1-5)
g. Foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, strivings about the Law

16. Hold Fast and Lay Hold - 2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Tim. 6:12

a. The pattern of sound words
b. Eternal life

17. Minister the Word - 1 Tim. 5:21; 2 Tim. 2:2, 25; 3:14; 4:2, 5

a. Observe God's Word without prejudice or partiality
b. Commit the Word to faithful men who can teach others
c. Correct those in opposition
d. Continue in the Word
e. Preach the Word, being instant in and out of season
f. Do the work of an evangelist
g. Fulfill your ministry and calling

18. Prove yourself a good worker - 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12, 20; 2 Tim. 2:3, 15; 4:5

a. Wage a good warfare
b. Fight a good fight
c. Guard what is committed to your trust
d. Endure hardship and affliction
e. Be diligent
f. Rightly handle the Word of God

19. In the Church - James 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; 4:14; 5:3; 2 Tim. 1:8; Titus 1:5; Acts 15:22

a. Pray for all men, especially the sick
b. Ordain and appoint other leaders (elders, teachers)
c. Honor widows
d. Share in the sufferings of the gospel
e. Set in order things that are lacking
f. Set church policy

What then is the responsibility of the Conrgegation to the elders? I am glad you asked!

Scriptural Responsibility
of the Congregation to their Pastors

Hebrews 13:7

1. Obey them, remembering and following their faith - Heb 13:7
2. Be submissive to them - Heb 13:17
3. Recognize him and his authority, esteeming him highly in love, maintaining peace in the Body - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
4. Count him worthy of double honor, remember that he is worthy of his wages and to be supported by the ministry; do not receive an accusation against him unless it is made by two or three witnesses - 1 Tim. 5:17-19 (see also Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Cor. 9:9-14)

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon titled The First Christmas Carol from Luke 2:14.

IV. Now, I have one more lesson for you, and I have done. That lesson is PRECEPTIVE. I wish everybody that keeps Christmas this year, would keep it as the angels kept it. There are many persons who, when they talk about keeping Christmas, mean by that the cutting of the bands of their religion for one day in the year, as if Christ were the Lord of misrule, as if the birth of Christ should be celebrated like the orgies of Bacchus. There are some very religious people, that on Christmas would never forget to go to church in the morning; they believe Christmas to be nearly as holy as Sunday, for they reverence the tradition of the elders. Yet their way of spending the rest of the day is very remarkable; for if they see their way straight up stairs to their bed at night, it must be by accident. They would not consider they had kept Christmas in a proper manner, if they did not verge on gluttony and drunkenness. They are many who think Christmas cannot possibly be kept, except there be a great shout of merriment and mirth in the house, and added to that the boisterousness of sin. Now, my brethren, although we, as successors of the Puritans, will not keep the day in any religious sense whatever, attaching nothing more to it than to any other day: believing that every day may be a Christmas for ought we know, and wishing to make every day Christmas, if we can, yet we must try to set an example to others how to behave on that day; and especially since the angels gave glory to God: let us do the same.

Once more the angels said, "Peace to men:" let us labor if we can to make peace next Christmas day. Now, old gentleman, you won't take your son in: he has offended you. Fetch him at Christmas. "Peace on earth;" you know: that is a Christmas Carol. Make peace in your family.

Now, brother, you have made a vow that you will never speak to your brother again. Go after him and say, "Oh, my dear fellow, let not this day's sun go down upon our wrath." Fetch him in, and give him your hand. Now, Mr. Tradesman, you have an opponent in trade, and you have said some very hard words about him lately. If you do not make the matter up today, or tomorrow, or as soon as you can, yet do it on that day. That is the way to keep Christmas, peace on earth and glory to God. And oh, if thou hast anything on thy conscience, anything that prevents thy having peace of mind, keep thy Christmas in thy chamber, praying to God to give thee peace; for it is peace on earth, mind, peace in thyself, peace with thyself, peace with thy fellow men, peace with thy God. And do not think thou hast well celebrated that day till thou canst say,

"O God,
'With the world, myself, and thee
I ere I sleep at peace will be. "

And when the Lord Jesus has become your peace, remember, there is another thing, good will towards men. Do not try to keep Christmas without keeping good will towards men. You are a gentleman, and have servants. Well, try and set their chimneys on fire with a large piece of good, substantial beef for them. If you are men of wealth, you have poor in your neighborhood. Find something wherewith to clothe the naked, and feed the hungry, and make glad the mourner. Remember, it is good will towards men. Try, if you can, to show them good will at this special season; and if you will do that, the poor will say with me, that indeed they wish there were six Christmases in the year.

Let each one of us go from this place determined, that if we are angry all the year round, this next week shall be an exception; that if we have snarled at everybody last year, this Christmas time we will strive to be kindly affectionate to others; and if we have lived all this year at enmity with God, I pray that by his Spirit he may this week give us peace with him; and then, indeed, my brother, it will be the merriest Christmas we ever had in all our lives. You are going home to your father and mother, young men; many of you are going from your shops to your homes. You remember what I preached on last Christmas time. Go home to thy friends, and tell them what the Lord hath done for thy soul, and that will make a blessed round of stories at the Christmas fire. If you will each of you tell your parents how the Lord met with you in the house of prayer; how, when you left home, you were a gay, wild blade, but have now come back to love your mother's God, and read your father's Bible. Oh, what a happy Christmas that will make! What more shall I say? May God give you peace with yourselves; may he give you good will towards all your friends, your enemies, and your neighbors; and may he give you grace to give glory to God in the highest. I will say no more, except at the close of this sermon to wish every one of you, when the day shall come, the happiest Christmas you ever had in your lives.

"Now with angels round the throne,
Cherubim and seraphim,
And the church, which still is one,
Let us swell the solemn hymn;
Glory to the great I AM!
Glory to the Victim Lamb.
Blessing, honour, glory, might,
And dominion infinite,
To the Father of our Lord,
To the Spirit and the Word;
As it was all worlds before,
Is, and shall be evermore."

Bible Reading For Further Study
A Word of Warning for Unfaithful Pastors!

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Role and Duties of Pastors - Part 1

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verses of the Day - Titus 1:5-9
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you — if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 5

Puritan Catechism
Question #11 - What are God's works of providence?
Answer - God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).

Devotional Thoughts

The Role and Duties of Pastors - Part 1
An Examination of the Scriptural Qualifications for Elders

The Scriptural qualifications for a man who would desire to answer the call of God to be an elder in the church are quite specific. These qualities do not fit a man for the office though. We understand that Christ gives pastors to His church (Eph 4:11), He calles them and appoints them and qualifies them for this task. Not every man who has the qualities is necessarily called to be an elder. And a man may be called but disqualify himself through sin (1 Cor 9:27)!

So what are these qualities and where do we find them in the Scriptures?

1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 tell us that an elder must be:

1. Blameless - above reproach and disrepute. This is actually the chief characteristic of a pastor. All the rest of the qualities we see given actually modify this one character quality. The rest of these qualities defines what it means to be blameless.

2. The husband of one wife - literally a "one-woman man." This does not refer to marital status, but to purity. It does not mean that a pastor must be married. Paul and Timothy were not married as they carried out their ministries as elders. Neither does this mean that a pastor cannot have more than one wife in his lifetime. Some would say that a pastor whose wife dies cannot remarry for then he will have been the husband of two wives. But remember, this phrase has nothing to do with marital status! It has to do with his purity and faithfulness whether as a single man of a married man.

3. Temperate - vigilant and serious minded. He is a man who is even tempered, serious minded, dedicated, and alert!

4. Sober-minded - self-controlled, curbing one's own desires and impulses. Better said, he is a man under the control of the Holy Spirit.

5. Of Good Behavior - well arranged, seemly. This means just what it says, to be good in the way he acts, speaks, and thinks!

6. Hospitable - "lover of strangers", generous. A man who is known to be loving and caring toward others.

7. Able to Teach - a skillful teacher. He can rightly handle the Word of God and is effective in teaching it to other.!

8. Not Given to Wine - One who does not abuse or become addicted to wine. He is not controlled by an addiction to alcohol and does not abuse it. We know that this cannot mean that he does not drink alcohol at all, for while we know that the Bible condemns drunkeness, it never condemns the drinking of alcohol. In fact, Jesus drank wine, and Paul, in inspired Scriptire, tells Timothy to drink wine to help treat a stomach ailment. If Timothy, at the time pastor at the church at Ephesus, did what Paul told him then surely this would not disqualify him from the ministry, would it? Ridiculous. This means specifically that a man of God is not controlled by an addiction to alcohol.

9. Not Violent - not a "bruiser" or given to fights. The pastor must not be know as a fighter, an arguer, or a "striker", one who beats or hits others.

10. Not Greedy for Money - Generous, not controlled by a desire for money. A man who enters the ministry for the money probably is not preaching the gospel anyway!

11. Gentle - reasonable, fair. This also means meek, or well mannered.

12. Not Quarrelsome - not contentious or looking for trouble. He is not a troublemaker, a rabble rouser, or one who loves to argue just for the sake of conflict.

13. Not Covetous - not controlled by desire for possessions. Content and satisfied.

14. One Who Rules His Own House and Children Well - Manages his family rightly as a husband and father, having a submissive and godly wife and obedient children. Here is where many pastors fail. And this is indeed a necessary qualification. If a man cannot lead his own family how dare he think he can lead the church of God. If his house is out of order he needs to put his family above his ministry and put things right at home. For if he loses his home then he has no true ministry!

15. Not a Novice - not a new convert, mature in the faith. Not a new convert, but a man seasoned in the faith. Also not one given to chase after every new fad, tossed about by winds of doctrinal change. Settled. Established. Solid.

16. Having a Good Testimony among Those Outside - an upstanding reputation even to those outside of the church. A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.

17. Not Self-willed - not self pleasing or arrogant. Humble.

18. Not Quick Tempered - not prone to get angry quickly, not hot headed. Balanced in his outlook and responses to stress and difficult situations and difficult people.

19. A Lover of What is Good - loving and desiring what is good. The word "good" means healthy. A pastor needs to love those things which promote physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

20. Just - upright. Moral. Trustworthy. A man of his word.

21. Holy - devout, pleasing to God. Set apart for the work to which he is called and holy in the way he lives. Holiness seems to be a lost qualitiy these days. Everybody wants to be practical with their faith, but not many chase after being holy.

22. Self-controlled - disciplined. Well ordered, self-controlled, not a loose cannon.

23. Holding Fast the Faithful Word - Believing and being convinced of the truth of God's Word and offering the truth to others. Steady and sure in his ministry, his teaching, his counsel, and his handling of the Word. Feeding the flock in his care and always ready to give an account to God for those he leads.

These are the qualities required of a man who would pastor God's church. A man called, qualified, set apart, and appointed by Christ to do the work of caring for souls.

In closing today, the historic Baptist Confessions of Faith apply these Scriptures by setting forth these statements about elders:

First London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1646
Christ for the keeping of this church in holy and orderly communion, placeth some special men over the church; who by their office, are to govern, oversee, visit, watch; so likewise for the better keeping thereof, in all places by the members, He hath given authority, and laid duty upon all to watch over one another.

Also such to whom God hath given gifts in the church, may and ought to prophecy [viz., teach] according to the proportion of faith, and to teach publicly the word of God, for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of the church.

The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. In Him, by the appointment of the Father, is vested in a supreme and sovereign manner all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the Church.

In the exercise of the authority which has been entrusted to Him, the Lord Jesus calls to Himself from out of the world, through the ministry of His Word, by His Spirit, those who are given to Him by His Father, so that they may walk before Him in all the ways of obedience which He prescribes to them in His Word. Those who are thus called, He commands to walk together in particular societies or churches, for their mutual edification, and for the due performance of that public worship, which He requires of them in the world.

The members of these churches are saints because they have been called by Christ, and because they visibly manifest and give evidence of their obedience to that call by their profession and walk. Such saints willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving themselves up to the Lord and to one another, according to God's will, in avowed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.

To each of these churches thus gathered, according to the Lord's mind as declared in His Word, He has given all the power and authority which is in any way required for them to carry on the order of worship and discipline which He has instituted for them to observe. He has also given all the commands and rules for the due and right exercise of this power.

A particular church gathered and completely organised according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members. The officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church are bishops or elders and deacons. These are to be appointed for the peculiar administration of ordinances and the execution of power or duty with which the Lord has entrusted them and to which He has called them. This pattern of church order is to be continued to the end of the world.

The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit for the office of bishop or elder in a church, is that he is to be chosen by the common consent and vote of the church itself. Such a person should be solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with the laying on of hands of the eldership of the church (if there be any previously appoint elder or elders). The way of Christ for the calling of a deacon is that he is also to be chosen by the common consent and vote of the church and set apart by prayer, with the laying on of hands.

Because the work of pastors is to apply themselves constantly to the service of Christ in His churches by the ministry of the Word and prayer, and by watching for their souls as they that must give an account to Him, the churches to which they minister have a pressing obligation to give them not only all due respect, but also to impart to them a share of all their good things, according to their ability. This must be so done that the pastors may have a comfortable supply and that they may not have to be entangled in secular affairs, and may also be able to exercise hospitality towards others. All this is required by the law of nature and by the express command of our Lord Jesus, Who has ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel.

Although an obligation lies on the elders or pastors of the churches to be urgently preaching the Word by virtue of their office, yet the work of preaching the Word is not exclusively confined to them. Therefore others who are also gifted and qualified by the Holy Spirit for the task, and who are approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.

BONUS: Check out what The Once Dead Poet learned this week about a man being Elder Material.

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon titled The First Christmas Carol from Luke 2:14.

III. I must now bring before you the third point. There are some PROPHETIC UTTERANCES contained in these words. The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men." But I look around, and what see I in the wide, wide world? I do not see God honored. I see the heathen bowing down before their idols; I mark the Romanist casting himself before the rotten rags of his relics, and the ugly figures of his images. I look about me, and I see tyranny lording it over the bodies and souls of men; I see God forgotten; I see a worldly race pursuing mammon; I see a bloody race pursuing Moloch; I see ambition riding like Nimrod over the land, God forgotten, his name dishonored. And was this all the angels sang about? Is this all that made them sing "Glory to God in the highest?" Ah! no. There are brighter days approaching. They sang, "Peace on earth." But I hear still the clarion of war; and the cannon's horrid roar: not yet have they turned the sword into a ploughshare, and the spear into a pruning-hook! War still reigns. Is this all that the angels sang about? And whilst I see wars to the ends of the earth, am I to believe that this was all the angels expected? Ah! no, brethren; the angels' song is big with prophecy; it travaileth in birth with glories. A few more years, and he that lives them out shall see why angels sang; a few more years, and he that will come shall come, and will not tarry. Christ the Lord will come again, and when he cometh he shall cast the idols from their thrones; he shall dash down every fashion of heresy and every shape of idolatry; he shall reign from pole to pole with illimitable sway; he shall reign, when like a scroll, yon blue heavens have passed away. No strife shall vex Messiah's reign, no blood shall then be shed; they'll hang the useless helmet high, and study war no more. The hour is approaching when the temple of Janus shall be shut for ever, and when cruel Mars shall be hooted from the earth. The day is coming when the lion shall eat straw like the ox, when the leopard shall lie down with the kid; when the weaned child shall put his hand upon the cockatrice den and play with the asp. The hour approacheth; the first streaks of the sunlight have made glad the age in which we live. Lo, he comes, with trumpets and with clouds of glory; he shall come for whom we look with joyous expectation, whose coming shall be glory to his redeemed, and confusion to his enemies. Ah! brethren, when the angels sang this there was an echo through the long aisles of a glorious future. That echo was—

"Hallelujah! Christ the Lord
God Omnipotent shall reign."

Ay, and doubtless the angels heard by faith the fulness of the song,

"Hark! the song of jubilee
Loud as mighty thunders' roar,
Or the fulness of the sea,
When it breaks upon the shore."

"Christ the Lord Omnipotent reigneth."

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Beware of Covetousness

A sermon uploaded to the web, very relevant to the consumerism and commercialism found this time of year.

Beware of Covetousness - Luke 12:13-21


Summary of the Purposes of a Sound Church

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - 1 Corinthians 10:31
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Daily Scripture Reading - Matthew 28

Puritan Catechism
Question #11 - What are God's works of providence?
Answer - God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).

Devotional Thoughts
In answer to a question about the purpose of the church, an ordination candidate from our church wrote that the "purpose(s) of the church can be understood as the immediate, intermediate, and ultimate purposes that follow":

The immediate purpose of the church is to evangelize the lost. The intermediate purpose of the church is to stimulate one another to love and obedience. The ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Evangelism is not inviting someone to Mainstream Fellowship Church in order to get them into an environment where the talented pastor may elicit from them an emotional response for Christ. Telling people the truth about themselves (Rom. 3:20,23; 5:12), the truth about God (Isa. 53:4; 1Tim. 1:15; Heb. 2:2-3; 12:29; 1Pet. 3:18), and the reason for the hope that is evident within you with gentleness and reverence (1Pet. 3:15, Heb. 6:17-20; Titus 2:13-14) is evangelism. Living your life in a manner that evidences the power of God in obedience to Christ is evangelism (Mat. 5:14-16; 1Cor. 2:3-5; 1Pet. 3:1-2,16). Communicating God's message of mercy to sinners by virtue of the atonement of Christ is evangelism (1Cor. 2:1-2). Secondly, the verse that often gets left out of the great commission is verse 20; after baptizing them, we are to be "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Mat. 28:20).

The intermediate purpose of the church is to teach and rouse one another to love and obey God. This involves teaching, learning, sharing, and fellowship. The early church was "continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship" (Acts 2:42). Hebrews exhorts us to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near" (Heb. 10:23-25). We are to meet not only the spiritual needs but also the physical needs of the church (1John 3:17; 2Cor. 8:3-4, 13-15; 9:12; 1Cor. 16:1-3; Acts 11:29-30; Rom. 15:25-26). We are to use our spiritual gifts to equip one another and build up the church (Eph. 4:12), and we are to admonish and teach every man with all wisdom "that we may present every man complete in Christ" (Col. 1:28). We are to nurture one another to maturity. One day, there will be no more lost people to evangelize and no more immature Christians to teach, admonish, disciple, and nurture. We will all be glorified; "we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2).

The ultimate purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This purpose of the church began at creation and will never end. We are to live "to the praise of His glory" (Eph.1:12). We are always to be rendering a proper opinion of God. Our worship is to be reverential, sincere, and pure. Jesus taught that "the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). We assemble together to worship Him, praise Him, sing to Him, and pray to Him. The church is commanded to "let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Col. 3:16). Similarly, the church is commanded to "be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" (Eph. 5:18-19). We are to meet with God in corporate prayer. The early church was continually devoting themselves "to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42).

"The immediate, intermediate, and ultimate purposes of the church are all commanded by the Lord in Scripture; no church should stress one to the neglect of another."

Finally, allow me to finish by saying that in order to carry out its purpose, a church must have the Seven Marks of a Sound Church as laid forth in these devotions. Without these Seven Marks, a group may call itself a church, but it is not recognized as a sound and healthy church by the Word of God or by God Himself. Likewise, if we find these marks missing or neglected in the church we attend, we should sound forth the call for reformation and repentance. If that call is not followed by a spirit of revival and renewal, where these Marks are once again present and active in the church, then we should obey the command to flee such an unholy place. Come out from among them and find a church where Jesus is obeyed as Lord.

No matter the size, location, demographics, budget, building, or activities, the only requirements given for a Biblical church are that:

1. God is worshipped in spirit and truth
2. Prayer is central
3. Love for Christ and the brethren is demonstrated
4. The Word of God is faithfully preached, taught, and heard
5. The ordinances of Baptism and Communion are administered
6. Discipline of the membership is Biblically administered and
7. Church government and leadership as instituted by the Apostles is established

Then, and only then, your church is a sound church and God is glorified by your obedient participation in its various ministries and outreach as a faithful member!

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon titled The First Christmas Carol from Luke 2:14.

II. Next, I have to present to you some EMOTIONAL THOUGHTS. Friends, doth not this verse, this song of angels, stir your heart with happiness? When I read that, and found the angels singing it, I thought to myself, "Then if the angels ushered in the gospel's great head with singing, ought I not to preach with singing? And ought not my hearers to live with singing? Ought not their hearts to be glad and their spirits to rejoice?" Well, thought I, there be some somber religionists who were born in a dark night in December that think a smile upon the face is wicked, and believe that for a Christian to be glad and rejoice is to be inconsistent. Ah! I wish these gentlemen had seen the angels when they sang about Christ; for angels sang about his birth, though it was no concern of theirs, certainly men ought to sing about it as long as they live, sing about it when they die, and sing about it when they live in heaven for ever. I do long to see in the midst of the church more of a singing Christianity. The last few years have been breeding in our midst a groaning and unbelieving Christianity. Now, I doubt not its sincerity, but I do doubt its healthy character. I say it may be true and real enough; God forbid I should say a word against the sincerity of those who practice it; but it is a sickly religion. Watts hit the mark when he said,

"Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less."

It is designed to do away with some of our pleasures, but it gives us many more, to make up for what it takes away; so it does not make them less. O ye that see in Christ nothing but a subject to stimulate your doubts and make the tears run down your cheeks; O ye that always say,

"Lord, what a wretched land is this,
That yields us no supplies,"

Come ye hither and see the angels. Do they tell their story with groans, and sobs, and sighs? Ah, no; they shout aloud, "Glory to God in the highest." Now, imitate them, my dear brethren. If you are professors of religion, try always to have a cheerful carriage. Let others mourn; but

"Why should the children of a king
Go mourning all their days?"

Anoint your head and wash your face; appear not unto men to fast. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say unto you rejoice. Specially this week be not ashamed to be glad. You need not think it a wicked thing to be happy. Penance and whipping, and misery are no such very virtuous things, after all. The damned are miserable; let the saved be happy. Why should you hold fellowship with the lost by feelings of perpetual mourning? Why not rather anticipate the joys of heaven, and begin to sing on earth that song which you will never need to end? The first emotion then that we ought to cherish in our hearts is the emotion of joy and gladness.

Well, what next? Another emotion is that of confidence. I am not sure that I am right in calling that an emotion, but still in me it is so much akin to it, that I will venture to be wrong if I be so. Now, if when Christ came on this earth God had sent some black creature down from heaven, (if there be such creatures there) to tell us, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men," and if with a frowning brow and a stammering tongue he delivered his message, if I had been there and heard it, I should have scrupled to believe him, for I should have said, "You don't look like the messenger that God would send—stammering fellow as you are—with such glad news as this." But when the angels came there was no doubting the truth of what they said, because it was quite certain that the angels believed it; they told it as if they did, for they told it with singing, with joy and gladness. If some friend, having heard that a legacy was left you, and should come to you with a solemn countenance, and a tongue like a funeral bell, saying, "Do you know so-and-so has left you £10,000!" Why you would say, "Ah! I dare say," and laugh in his face. But if your brother should suddenly burst into your room, and exclaim, "I say, what do you think? You are a rich man; So-and-so has left you £10,000!" Why you would say, "I think it is very likely to be true, for he looks so happy over it." Well, when these angels came from heaven they told the news just as if they believed it; and though I have often wickedly doubted my Lord's good will, I think I never could have doubted it while I heard those angels singing. No, I should say, "The messengers themselves are proof of the truth, for it seems they have heard it from God's lips; they have no doubt about it, for see how joyously they tell the news." Now, poor soul, thou that art afraid lest God should destroy thee, and thou thinkest that God will never have mercy upon thee, look at the singing angels and doubt if thou darest. Do not go to the synagogue of long-faced hypocrites to hear the minister who preaches with a nasal twang, with misery in his face, whilst he tells you that God has good will towards men; I know you won't believe what he says, for he does not preach with joy in his countenance; he is telling you good news with a grunt, and you are not likely to receive it. But go straightway to the plain where Bethlehem shepherds sat by night, and when you hear the angels singing out the gospel, by the grace of God upon you, you cannot help believing that they manifestly feel the preciousness of telling. Blessed Christmas, that brings such creatures as angels to confirm our faith in God's good will to men!

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Seventh Mark of a Sound Church

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day -
Acts 14:23 - So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Acts 6:2-3 - Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

1 Timothy 3:1-13 - This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:5-9 - For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Timothy 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #11 - What are God's works of providence?
Answer - God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).

Devotional Thoughts
The Seventh Mark of a Sound Church:
Church Government and Leadership
as Instituted by the Apostles is Established

Let's start with a few facts. Plain truth. The church is not a democracy. The majority does not always know the will of God. Actually God usually uses a small remnant to accomplish His will. And as we have already learned, He expects us to do things the way in which He ordained it to be done. So how does the Scripture tell us that the church is to be lead, or "run?"

The Bible is very clear and specific that God gives as a special gift to His church its leaders! That's right. He gives them to each church. They are not randomly selected, or voted in and out of office by popular vote. They are not elected for a term and the replaced by a younger, fresher face. They are not chosen for their people skills or abilities. They are chosen by God based on their calling and qualifications to fill the job that He assigns to them. He gives them to the church.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastor and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, - Ephesians 4:11-12

Those He gives were in Bible times the Apostles and Prophets. These offices were filled and no longer exist in active practice in the church today. These were men who spoke specifically for God to the nation of Israel and to the church, sharing direct revelation from the mouth of God.

An Apostle (the word means "one sent on a mission") were chosen by Christ, physically saw Him after the resurrection (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:7), numbered 12 in total (Rev 21:14) including the Disciples (Matthew 10:2-3), with Paul (1 Cor 9:1) replacing Judas. Apostles served these three purposes in the church:

1. Laid the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20)
2. Received, Wrote, and Declared God’s Word (Eph 3:5; Acts 11:28; 21:10-11)
3. Confirmed the Word by miracles and signs (2 Cor 12:12; Acts 8:6-7; Heb 2:3-4).

Prophets also comprise the foundation of the church, along with the Apostles, and Jesus, Who is the Cornerstone. They served both in the Old and New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2), called by God (Jeremiah 1:5, etc) and given direct revelation of truth by His Spirit to convey to His people and to others (Jeremiah 7:25). Prophets often foretold future events and were judged by a strict criteria. If a prophet gave one false prophecy then he was branded a false prophet and was never to be trusted (Deut 18:21-22). In the New Testament church prophets were to have what they preached tested by the Apostles (1 Cor 14:32) and proclaimed truth from the Old Testament in order to aid the church in spiritual growth.

Those He gave then and now continue to be evangelists and pastor-teachers. Evangelists are called and tasked specifically with preaching the gospel to those in need of conversion (Acts 21:8). While pastors are to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5), there is also the sense in which this is a separate calling and office within the church. This would be seen today as missionaries and church planters.

Pastor-teachers (the word pastor literally means "shepherd") are responsible to lead the church in preaching and teaching, applying proper doctrine and exhortation to equip the saints for the carrying out of the ministry in their own daily lives.

Another term for these leaders is "elder." Those who are called in the Bible elders, bishops, or overseers are those men who are called and qualified to serve as loving shepherds in His church. Christ is Lord of the church and He rules with authority through godly elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12; Hebrews 13:7; Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-2).

The elders and the body itself are aided by deacons, literally "servants" or to be more specific, "table waiters." The deacons serve the body in whatever ways are needed. Distributing to the poor and needy those resources given through the church, taking care of widows and orphans, and freeing the elders for the works of prayer and preaching. This is not a position of authority or leadership, but a position of humble service to the church. There is no specific or official responsibility listed in the Scriptures for the deacon to carry out but we are told that they are to do whatever tasks the elders assign them to do in aiding them in the ministry of the church (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-4).

In summary I would like to share a brief Scriptural look at these offices of leadership and service within the church. A church must these offices functioning according to the Scriptures if they are to be in any way sound in their doctrine and church life.

In explaining the purpose, function, and duty of elders and deacons we will see that there are rigorous requirements and qualifications for those who would be appointed to lead and serve the Body of Christ. The elders (pastors, overseer) and deacons (servants) both serve distinct purposes, though the qualifications are closely matched. The elders are given one additional requirement in that they are to be "able to teach."

Scriptural Terms for the Elders - 1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 20:17, 28; Ephesians 4:11

1. Episkopas - translated "bishop" in most Bibles, the word means an "overseer, guardian, decision maker, or manager."

a. 1 Peter 2:25 - Christ is the "overseer" of our souls
b. Philippians 1:1 - the leaders of the church at Philippi are called "bishops"
c. 1 Timothy 3:1 - The position of "bishop" is a good one to be desired by qualified men
d. 1 Timothy 3:2 - A "bishop" must meet qualifications listed in vs. 2-7
e. Acts 20:28 - told to shepherd the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made them "overseers"

In Romans and Greek usage culturally, the "overseer" (episkopas) was an authority figure representing Caesar in a conquered territory (Pontius Pilate was the Roman episkopas in Jerusalem). The term signified the person's authority, their accountability to a higher authority above them, and their task of introducing a new order of life to a conquered people.

2. Presbuteros - translated "elders" it means one who is older or mature. It also refers to a "council of elders" (plural).

a. Acts 14:23 - a new church is planted by appointing elders
b. Acts 20:17 - Paul sent for the elders at the church in Ephesus
c. 1 Peter 1:1; 5:1-2 - the churches scattered over Asia had elders

Biblically, the elders (plural) "rule" the church by unanimous decision led by the Spirit and guided by the Word of God. (1 Cor 1:10; Eph 4:3; Phil 1:27; Phil 2:2).

3. Poimen - translated "pastor" , the word means shepherd, one who cares for, protects, and leads.

a. Hebrews 13:20-21 - Christ is our shepherd
b. 1 Timothy 5:17 - the labor of shepherding refers to effort, not amount
c. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 - They must be qualified men
d. Titus 1:6-9 - Restatement of qualifications
e. Ephesians 4:11 - they are given by Christ to His Church

The imagery of shepherding is used throughout Scripture to indicate the role of a caretaker. The shepherd is responsible for the health and well being of the flock. He provides both protection from harmful foods, situations, and from predators.

Of these three terms, the word "overseer" refers to what he does (job). The term "elder" refers to who he is (identity). The word "pastor" refers to his heart as he does the job (character).

Scriptural Terms for Deacons - Acts 6:1-7; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13

1. Deaconien Trapedzais - translated "table waiters" in Acts 6:2

The Apostles were finding their time consumed with the demands of those needing to be ministered to by the church, but they saw as their calling to be about the ministry of the Word and prayer, so they oversaw the appointment of these first servants of the church. They were to assist in the everyday operations of ministry, especially in the area of provision of basic needs for widows and others in the church.

"The deacons (lit. servants), submitting to the rulership of the elders, serve the local church in order to free up the elders to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-6). Their delegated duties can include caring for the church finances (1Tim.3:8), ministering to the physical needs of the church (Acts 6:1-6), and assisting in areas of church administration (1Tim.3:12)."

2. Diakonous - translated "deacon" the word literally means "servant."

a. Philippians 1:1 - they were identified with the elders as representatives of the local church.
b. 1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12-13 - the qualifications for deacons are given.

The deacon is a servant of the body assisting in ministry as directed by the elders.

3. Gunaikas - translated "women", this word in 1 Timothy 3:11 refers to women who are to serve as deaconesses within the body.

Some translations see this as the "wives" of deacons, but there are no requirements for elders wives given and in the Greek text the use of the word "likewise" suggests an introduction to another group of servants, distinct from the men. The qualifications for these deaconesses are given in 1 Timothy 3:11. It should also be noted that Phoebe is referred to in Romans 16:1 as a "deaconess" in a church near Corinth.

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon titled The First Christmas Carol from Luke 2:14.

What is the instructive lesson to be learned from this first syllable of the angels' song? Why this, that salvation is God's highest glory. He is glorified in every dew drop that twinkles to the morning sun. He is magnified in every wood flower that blossoms in the copse, although it live to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness in the forest air. God is glorified in every bird that warbles on the spray; in every lamb that skips the mead. Do not the fishes in the sea praise him? From the tiny minnow to the huge Leviathan, do not all creatures that swim the water bless and praise his name? Do not all created things extol him? Is there aught beneath the sky, save man, that doth not glorify God? Do not the stars exalt him, when they write his name upon the azure of heaven in their golden letters? Do not the lightnings adore him when they flash his brightness in arrows of light piercing the midnight darkness? Do not thunders extol him when they roll like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not all things exalt him, from the least even to the greatest? But sing, sing, oh universe, till thou hast exhausted thyself, thou canst not afford a song so sweet as the song of Incarnation. Though creation may be a majestic organ of praise, it cannot reach the compass of the golden canticle—Incarnation! There is more in that than in creation, more melody in Jesus in the manger, than there is in worlds on worlds rolling their grandeur round the throne of the Most High. Pause Christian, and consider this a minute. See how every attribute is here magnified. Lo! what wisdom is here. God becomes man that God may be just, and the justifier of the ungodly. Lo! what power, for where is power so great as when it concealeth power? What power, that Godhead should unrobe itself and become man! Behold, what love is thus revealed to us when Jesus becomes a man. Behold ye, what faithfulness! How many promises are this day kept? How many solemn obligations are this hour discharged? Tell me one attribute of God that is not manifest in Jesus; and your ignorance shall be the reason why you have not seen it so. The whole of God is glorified in Christ; and though some part of the name of God is written in the universe, it is here best read—in Him who was the Son of Man, and, yet, the Son of God.

But, let me say one word here before I go away from this point. We must learn from this, that if salvation glorifies God, glorifies him in the highest degree, and makes the highest creatures praise him, this one reflection may be added—then, that doctrine, which glorifies man in salvation cannot be the gospel. For salvation glorifies God. The angels were no Arminians, they sang, "Glory to God in the highest." They believe in no doctrine which uncrowns Christ, and puts the crown upon the head of mortals. They believe in no system of faith which makes salvation dependent upon the creature, and, which really gives the creature the praise, for what is it less than for a man to save himself, if the whole dependence of salvation rests upon his own free will? No, my brethren; they may be some preachers, that delight to preach a doctrine that magnifies man; but in their gospel angels have no delight. The only glad tidings that made the angels sing, are those that put God first, God last, God midst, and God without end, in the salvation of his creatures, and put the crown wholly and alone upon the head of him that saves without a helper. "Glory to God in the highest," is the angels' song.

2. When they had sung this, they sang what they had never sung before. "Glory to God in the highest," was an old, old song; they had sung that from before the foundations of the world. But, now, they sang as it were a new song before the throne of God: for they added this stanza—"on earth, peace." They did not sing that in the garden. There was peace there, but it seemed a thing of course, and scarce worth singing of. There was more than peace there; for there was glory to God there. But, now, man had fallen, and since the day when cherubim with fiery swords drove out the man, there had been no peace on earth, save in the breast of some believers, who had obtained peace from the living fountain of this incarnation of Christ. Wars had raged from the ends of the world; men had slaughtered one another, heaps on heaps. There had been wars within as well as wars without. Conscience had fought with man; Satan had tormented man with thoughts of sin. There had been no peace on earth since Adam fell. But, now, when the newborn King made his appearance, the swaddling band with which he was wrapped up was the white flag of peace. That manger was the place where the treaty was signed, whereby warfare should be stopped between man's conscience and himself, man's conscience and his God. It was then, that day, the trumpet blew—"Sheathe the sword, oh man, sheathe the sword, oh conscience, for God is now at peace with man, and man at peace with God." Do you not feel my brethren, that the gospel of God is peace to man? Where else can peace be found, but in the message of Jesus? Go legalist, work for peace with toil and pain, and thou shalt never find it. Go, thou, that trustest in the law: go thou, to Sinai; look to the flames that Moses saw, and shrink, and tremble, and despair; for peace is nowhere to be found, but in him, of whom it is said, "This man shall be peace." And what a peace it is, beloved! It is peace like a river, and righteousness like the waves of the sea. It is the peace of God that passeth all understanding, which keeps our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. This sacred peace between the pardoned soul and God the pardoner; this marvelous at-one-ment between the sinner and his judge, this was it that the angels sung when they said, "peace on earth."

3. And, then, they wisely ended their song with a third note. They said, "Good will to man." Philosophers have said that God has a good will toward man; but I never knew any man who derived much comfort from their philosophical assertion. Wise men have thought from what we have seen in creation that God had much good will toward man, or else his works would never have been so constructed for their comfort; but I never heard of any man who could risk his soul's peace upon such a faint hope as that. But I have not only heard of thousands, but I know them, who are quite sure that God has a good will towards men; and if you ask their reason, they will give a full and perfect answer. They say, he has good will toward man for he gave his Son. No greater proof of kindness between the Creator and his subjects can possibly be afforded than when the Creator gives his only begotten and well beloved Son to die. Though the first note is God-like, and though the second note is peaceful, this third note melts my heart the most. Some think of God as if he were a morose being who hated all mankind. Some picture him as if he were some abstract subsistence taking no interest in our affairs. Hark ye, God has "good will toward men." You know what good will means. Well, Swearer, you have cursed God; he has not fulfilled his curse on you; he has good will towards you, though you have no good will towards him. Infidel, you have sinned high and hard against the Most High; he has said no hard things against you, for he has good will towards men. Poor sinner, thou hast broken his laws; thou art half afraid to come to the throne of his mercy lest he should spurn thee; hear thou this, and be comforted— God has good will towards men, so good a will that he has said, and said it with an oath too, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live;" so good a will moreover that he has even condescended to say, "Come, now, let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson, they shall be whiter than snow." And if you say, "Lord, how shall I know that thou hast this good will towards me," he points to yonder manger, and says, "Sinner, if I had not a good will towards thee, would I have parted with my Son? if I had not good will towards the human race, would I have given up my Son to become one of that race that he might by so doing redeem them from death?" Ye that doubt the Master's love, look ye to that circle of angels; see their blaze of glory; hear their son, and let your doubts die away in that sweet music and be buried in a shroud of harmony. He has good will to men; he is willing to pardon; he passes by iniquity, transgression, and sin. And mark thee, if Satan shall then add, "But though God hath good will, yet he cannot violate his justice, therefore his mercy may be ineffective, and you may die;" then listen to that first note of the song, "Glory to God in the highest," and reply to Satan and all his temptations, that when God shows good will to a penitent sinner, there is not only peace in the sinner's heart, but it brings glory to every attribute of God, and so he can be just, and yet justify the sinner, and glorify himself.

I do not pretend to say that I have opened all the instructions contained in these three sentences, but I may perhaps direct you into a train of thought that may serve you for the week. I hope that all through the week you will have a truly merry Christmas by feeling the power of these words, and knowing the unction of them. "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men."

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship