Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why care?

Christmas (yes, we are still in the Christmas season) is a time of giving. We drop coins into bell ringers buckets and participate in special offerings for those in need. We should do this all year round. But we especially show compassion at Christmastime. But why care? We care because God does. Consider a verse from the psalm we looked at last Sunday:

“For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” (Psalms 138:6)

We regard the lowly because God regards the lowly! And we should love the lowly the way God does, both in body and in soul! Some people give only to meet the physical needs of the lowly. Others say we should only be concerned with their souls. But we must do both!

The great pastor/theologian Jonathan Edwards has some wise words for us on this subject:

“Some men shew a love to others as to their outward man, they are liberal of their worldly substance, and often give to the poor; but have no love to, or concern for the souls of men. Others pretend a great love to men’s souls, that are not compassionate and charitable towards their bodies. The making a great shew of love, pity and distress for souls, cost them nothing; but in order to shew mercy to men’s bodies, they must part with money out of their pockets. But a true Christian love to our brethren extends both to their bodies and souls

Let us then, love people well - as Christ loves them, body and soul!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Prophet, Priest, and King

The grand miracle of all time is celebrated at Christmas – the miracle of the incarnation: Very God and very man coming together in the person of Jesus. The intersection of all the hopes and fears of mankind are met in Christ. And Christ brings together all the "offices" that were familiar to the people of God in the Hebrew scriptures. The major offices of the Old Testament were Prophet, Priest, and King. The inaugural ceremony for each involved anointing with oil. The Greek word for "anointed one" is "Christos", were we get the title "Christ". So when we say "Christ", we are saying Jesus is our prophet, priest, and king!

Not to wax too theological, it is still very important to reflect on these offices. Let's consider Christ as our priest.

As our "High Priest", Jesus is the one who offered the perfect sacrifice for sins. He continually brings us close to God. And he continually offers prayers on our behalf.

Stop there. Think about that. What is Jesus doing right now? If you are a follower of Jesus, you know what he is doing. He is praying for you! He knows you deepest needs, even better than you do! And he is sharing those needs with his Father, who delights in answering the prayers of his beloved Son!

So, how secure should that make you feel? As the theologian Louis Berkof said:

"It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end."

The warm feelings of Christmas don't come from traditions, decorations, sentimentalism, or eggnog (well, not the right kind of warm feelings anyway!). The security of the season is knowing that your high priest is pleading your cause before the listing ears of his Father! Reflect on that this week and respond in amazement and awe! As we sing in the famous carol…

"Good Christian fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading"

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trusting God

An insightful observation was given at our "pot-luck" service last week. Why is it easier to trust and depend on God during hard times than in times of abundance? As I reflect on this observation I am struck at the need we have to put ourselves in places where we must trust in God. In times of hardship, we must trust in God – we have no other option! In times of plenty we must step outside of our comfort zone and trust God for things only he can do.

I am reminded of a great man of faith - George Mueller. In his lifetime Mueller established 5 orphanages and cared for over 10,000 orphans. And this he did to glorify God for His faithfulness. In Mueller's words:

"The three chief reasons for establishing an Orphan-House are: 1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare."

John Piper, in his autobiographical sermon on George Mueller, brings the point out:

"That was the chief passion and unifying aim of Mueller's ministry: live a life and lead a ministry in a way that proves God is real, God is trustworthy, God answers prayer. He built orphanages the way he did to help Christians trust God. He says it over and over again"

This is a challenge for our church and for each of us to be willing to do hard things and go to hard places that we may experience the faithfulness and dependability of God. And in doing so, we commend His faithfulness and dependability to a world that is both cynical and searching!

So – where will that journey take you?

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom