ECOS PARKRUN

 

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In one of best ever Parkruns this year (73.2% age-graded Age Grade explained), I did the 5K (3 miles) in 22mins 42 secs– just down on my best this year and less than a minute down on pre-hip replacement. It was down to prayer for God’s enabling, quality training, a good night’s sleep, rest day from running yesterday, light racing shoes and pushing myself as hard as I could even though I was in “no man’s land” with no runners ahead to chase or behind to keep ahead of. Thankful. Citius-Altius-Fortius…Faster-Higher-Stronger even at my age!

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Another video

 

 

God’s grace

“He gives us habitual grace; — a principle of grace, opposed to the principle of lust that is
in us by nature. This is the grace that dwells in us, makes its abode with us; which, according to
the distinct faculties of our souls wherein it is, or the distinct objects about which it is exercised,
receiveth various appellation, being indeed all but one new principle of life. In the understanding,
it is light; in the will, obedience; in the affections, love; in all, faith. So, also, it is differences in
respect of its operations. When it carries out the soul to rest on Christ, it is faith; when to delight
in him, it is love; but still one and the same habit of grace. ” Owen in Communion with God.

The young ass

” And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,

 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” John 11:14-15

Do you realise who this man was who rode into Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday” nearly 2,000 years ago? God says he is a king. King of the Jews. And who is a Jew? Not someone descended from Abraham physically, but a believer, someone who acknowledges Jesus Christ as King, King over all things and their King. The King who suffered and died to win his Kingdom. The King who one day will make heaven and earth new  as rightly his. Is he your King? He is also appointed to judge all me when he comes again. Will you be able to say on that day, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”?

The Land

The Land

Sung Psalm 105:8-14

Reading Genesis 12:1-20

The Holy War was for the Holy Land: We have

  • The covenant promise to give the land to Abraham and his seed
  • The promise of God to dwell there
  • The land was for a people
  • The land came with God’s law

All Old Testament history, except Esther was played out in the land. The prophets can be divided into pre-exilic, exilic and post-exilic according to when the prophesied concerning Israel and the land they were to be exiled from viz:

Pre-exilic Exilic Post exilic
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea Daniel Haggai
Obadiah, Jonah, Micah Ezekiel Zechariah
Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah Malachi

 

The land of Israel is an issue of hope and eschatology. To Abraham it was an unseen land and object of faith. To this was added the promise of Gen.13:15-16 adding that his seed would be innumerable.

Key points:

  • the seed who would inherit the land was Christ and all the elect in him (Gal.3:7, 16).
  • The land is a type/picture of heaven (Heb.11:9-10).

Communion with God

 

I cannot recommend highly enough this treatise by arguably the greatest British Theologian, John Owen. Particularly the section on delighting in Christ from page 80. It is very clear from Scripture that Christ’s love for us and our love for Christ is expressed in delight, the one with the other. We are meant to ENJOY him and fellowship with him just as he, unbelievably delights in us! If you relish the covenant this is a must read! I will be summarising the best bits on this blogsite.

http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/John%20Owen%20Communion%20with%20Father%20Son%20&%20Holy%20Ghost.pdf

Holy War (16)

The New Testament Warfare

Sung Psalm 144:1-8

Read II Cor. 10:1-10

In Isaiah 11:10-15 we read that God’s and Israel’s O.T. enemies will serve Christ. God uses O.T. imagery and names in a prophetic way which has a N.T. fulfilment. This is likewise true in Amos 9:11-12 where it reads that David’s kingdom will include Edom and all the heathen nations but again we know that this is a prophecy fulfilled in the N.T. age when the elect among all nations come into the church (Acts 15:16-17).

Whereas in the O.T. the enemies were heathen nations and the goal was territory through offensive war either to possess the land (Joshua), or extend the empire (David), although there were also defensive wars, when we get to N.T. times there is no actual land to possess (heaven is assured) but rather the extension of the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth through missions is the goal. In order, the great cities central to this purpose were Jerusalem, Antioch and then Rome.

The king of God’s N.T. army sits enthroned in heaven. He too undoubtedly has fought and does fight (Isaiah 59:17). His captains were initially apostles, prophets and evangelists but now ministers, elders and deacons. The foot-soldiers are all believers. The armour and weapon are outlined in Eph.6:10-16 and Heb.4:12. For defence, the helmet, the assurance of salvation; the breastplate of (Christ’s) imputed righteousness; the belt of truth (Christ and his word); the sandals of the gospel of peace with God and a readiness to share it; the shield of faith; the sword of the Spirit. From the Corinthians epistle which in context refers to self-control and church discipline we see that winning arguments is not enough, the battle is in the mind. To win over an enemy God must regenerate them. In the battle faith is vital as is discipline, effort and patience (I Tim.6:12, II Tim.2:3-6) and we must not be distracted and be over-occupied with civilian (worldly) pursuits.

See also

 

 

Wisdom (2)

We have seen that wisdom consists:

The wisdom of Solomon!

1. Knowledge of God.

2. Knowledge of self and now we come to:

3.  Walking with God.

Now, that one may walk with another, six things are required:— 1. Agreement. 2. Acquaintance. 3. A way. 4. Strength. 5. Boldness. 6. An aiming at the same end. All these, with the wisdom of them, are hid in the Lord Jesus.

  1. Agreement-Amos 3:3. We now have peace and access.
  2. We know him-I John 5:20, John 1:18, because he has revealed himself.
  3. There is a way, a highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8) into which we are directed(Is. 30:21), of good works (Eph.2:10).
  4. Ability is given (John 15:5, Phil. 2:13).
  5. We have confidence and boldness (Heb. 4:16).
  6. Our aim like Christ’s is the glory of God (I Cor.10:31).

 

From Communion with God by John Owen.

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Wisdom

Christ alone reveals the wisdom of God.

The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads:—

1. The knowledge of God, his nature and his properties.

2. The knowledge of ourselves in reference to the will of God concerning us.

3. Skill to walk in communion with God:—

  1. Knowledge of God. “He that hath seen me hath seen the father.”How else to know his love apart from Christ? (I John 4:9). Pardoning mercy and grace? (Rom.3:25, John 1:14). Vindictive justice (Making Christ to be sin and suffer God’s wrath). Patience, forbearance and long-suffering (II Peter 3:9). When Moses asked God to show him his glory he hid him in a rock, that rock was Christ.
  2. Ourselves. Our sin is manifest by our consciences and the righteous law and just judgment is coming. We know these things by his death. God, in the death of Christ, punishes and condemns sin in the flesh of his own Son, in the sight of men, angels, and devils, and he has given an abundant assurance of a righteous and universal judgement to come; (how could his cruel killers get away with it?)  By his resurrection he has given assurance that Christ risen from the dead, is appointed by him to be the judge of all; in whom and by whom he will judge the world in righteousness granting unspeakable consolation on the one hand to those who believe in him, and terror on the other to those who despise him: so that the wisdom of this also is hid in Christ.
  3. To follow (In Christ is the wisdom to walk with God).

From John Owen’s work Communion with God.

Marriage-a lifelong bond!

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Has God’s standard for marriage changed over time?

We have to say NO because God is one and his law is one and eternal. The seventh commandment safeguards one man-one woman for life, reflecting his covenant with his bride, the church.

But some churches allow divorce and remarriage!

They cause their people to sin:

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Jesus in Luke 16:18

And adulterers will NOT enter the kingdom of heaven (I Cor.6:9).

So why polygamy and allowing divorce in OT?

New International Bible Dictionary states regarding polygamy, ” It would seem that God left it to man to discover by experience that his original institution of monogamy was the proper relationship.” It always brought trouble of some kind. Moses SUFFERED the ungodly Israelites to divorce and remarry because of the hardness of their hearts, same could be said of divorce and remarriage laws in our land today, all of which will be followed by the ungodly and the backslidden church member. There will ALWAYS be consequences and suffering when the ideal is not followed but God’s standard for his people and for society has never changed. What Christ said about it stands as God’s standard for all time.

This leaflet needs shared widely especially in churches who use the Westminster  Confession as their creed.

http://hopeprc.org/resources/uploads/2016/03/The-Marriage-Bond-is-a-Lifelong-Bond.pdf

 

Uniformitarianism

Answers in Genesis expound this well too.

Young Calvinists

One theory that has gained much credence in the past number of years is called Uniformitarianism. This belief states that world as we know it today has always been that way and will always function in the ways that we think it should. Although its popularity has increased in the last number of years, along with the related theory of evolution, it existed in Biblical times:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts, and saying where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II 3:3,4).

This, however, is not the case. Let’s look at the weather, for instance. In the beginning, God gave the Garden of Eden a moderate climate with none of the wild fluctuations in temperature we sometimes hear about. There…

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He is altogether lovely.

When the spouse (in Song of Solomon) has gone thus far in the description of him (her husband Christ), she concludes all in this general assertion: “He is wholly desirable, — altogether to be desired or beloved.” (Concerning) the excellencies of my Beloved, in (the) way of allegory I can carry things no higher; I find nothing better or more desirable to shadow out and to present his loveliness and desirableness: but, alas! all this comes short of his
perfections, beauty, and comeliness; ‘he is all wholly to be desired, to be beloved;’ —
Lovely in his person, — in the glorious all-sufficiency of his Deity, gracious purity and holiness
of his humanity, authority and majesty, love and power.
Lovely in his birth and incarnation; when he was rich, for our sakes becoming poor, — taking
part of flesh and blood, because we partook of the same; being made of a woman, that for us he
might be made under the law, even for our sakes.
Lovely in the whole course of his life, and the more than angelical holiness and obedience
which, in the depth of poverty and persecution, he exercised therein; — doing good, receiving evil;blessing, and being cursed, reviled, reproached, all his days.
Lovely in his death; yea, therein most lovely to sinners; — never more glorious and desirable
than when he came broken, dead, from the cross. Then had he carried all our sins into a land of
forgetfulness; then had remade peace and reconciliation for us; then had he procured life and
immortality for us.
Lovely in his whole employment, in his great undertaking, — in his life, death, resurrection,
ascension; being a mediator between God and us, to recover the glory of God’s justice, and to saveour souls, — to bring us to an enjoyment of God, who were set at such an infinite distance from
him by sin.
Lovely in the glory and majesty wherewith he is crowned. Now he is set down at the right hand
of the Majesty on high; where, though he be terrible to his enemies, yet he is full of mercy, love,
and compassion, towards his beloved ones.
Lovely in all those supplies of grace and consolations, in all the dispensations of his Holy Spirit,
whereof his saints are made partakers.
Lovely in all the tender care, power, and wisdom, which he exercises in the protection,
safe-guarding, and delivery of his church and people, in the midst of all the oppositions and
persecutions whereunto they are exposed.
Lovely in all his ordinances, and the whole of that spiritually glorious worship which he has
appointed to his people, whereby they draw nigh and have communion with him and his Father.
Lovely and glorious in the vengeance he taketh, and will finally execute, upon the stubborn
enemies of himself and his people.
Lovely in the pardon he has purchased and does dispense, — in the reconciliation he has
established, — in the grace he communicates, — in the consolations he does administer, — in the
peace and joy he gives his saints, — in his assured preservation of them unto glory.
What shall I say? there is no end of his excellencies and desirableness; — “He is altogether
lovely. This is our beloved, and this is our friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

John Owen in Communion with God

Living the Antithesis in College

No love, friendship or acceptance? What about loving our neighbour? They are our neighbour and we love them by sharing Christ. Friendship? Perhaps not in the real, intimate sense, but sharing an interest can become some kind of friendship and Christ was a friend of sinners (many unconverted I am sure). Acceptance? We cannot change them and we hate what they do but surely we have to accept them as they are, after all Christ accepted us even when we were his enemies and took us into fellowship with himself. So you can see, while I agree with the antithesis, I disagree with the way it is often portrayed and purportedly live out. Your point about confronting sin agrees with Scripture, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them.” (Eph.5:11).

Young Calvinists

Antithesis. Anti-thesis. Against a viewpoint. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the direct opposite.” God tells us what the antithesis is in Genesis 3:15. He says to Satan: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Enmity between the children of the Devil and children of God. That is, hatred, war, and conflict between the elect and the reprobate—no love, friendship, or acceptance. There must be a clear separation between the two.

Now that we know the antithesis is, let’s see how we can apply it to life in college. A place where many of us Young Calvinists (including me) currently reside or frequent.

You’re in one of your Gen Ed classes that you have to take—Introduction to Physics. The class is set up so that you have to work with…

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Christ’s fullness

Colossians 1:19: “ For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;” and John 1:14: “ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

  Hear John Owen: For the fountain of grace, the Holy Ghost, he received not him “by measure,” John 3. 34; and for the communications of the Spirit, “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” This is the Beloved of our souls, “holy, harmless, undefiled;” “full of grace and truth;” — full, to a sufficiency for every end of grace, — full, for practice, to be an example to men and angels as to obedience, full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God, — full, to a readiness of giving supply to others, — full, to suit him to all the occasions and necessities of the souls of men, — full, to a glory not unbecoming a subsistence in the person of the Son of God, — full, to a perfect
victory, in trials, over all temptations, — full, to an exact correspondence to the whole law, every righteous and holy law of God, full to the utmost capacity of a limited, created, finite nature, — full, to the greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of God, — full, to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of his Father, — full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.”

    And by his cross and resurrection we are the recipients of some of this fullness all our days.

Holy War (15)

Sung Psalm 68:17-21

Matthew 26:47-56

Christ’s last week begins with his “triumphal entry” to Jerusalem (Zech.9:9 quoted in Matt.21:5-9) where it is clear the populace had a wrong view of his kingship. He came as a lowly king (Matt.22:15-22) who submitted to the Romans and told his disciples to pay their taxes and clearly taught that rebellion was forbidden. In Matt.24 he predicts the national destruction of Jewry as a picture of the end of time tribulation under antichrist just before his return in glory. In Matt.26:51 Peter’s foolish violent act showed he misunderstood the nature of Christ’s kingdom and the nature of his disciples’ warfare. What Christ said to Pilate underlined this (John 18:36).

Christ was a rejected king nevertheless there was no time when he was not ruling over all his enemies, exercising his sovereign kingship, bringing thick darkness signifying Satan’s work, but also opening graves and raising the bodies of believers and ultimately himself showing that his final earthly battle versus sin, Satan and the wicked world was won, all having been publicly judged as evil, wicked and murderous by their treatment of the Son of God. He won this spiritual battle single-handed just like David won his physical battle with Goliath (Isaiah 63:5-6). He now incarcerates Satan and the demons (Ps.68:18), destroys all Satan’s deathly power over the elect (Heb.2:14, Col.2:15, I Cor.15:57) and makes death serve his purposes (to free and glorify his people). The Psalm also shows the vital importance of praise (v25) and the power of grace to sustain us (v28).

So in tabular summary:

Old Testament Holy War New Testament Holy War
Physical Spiritual
For a physical kingdom (land) For a heavenly kingdom
By force of arms (physical weapons) By spiritual weapons (Eph.5) Word, prayer, praise, humility, suffering)
Physical enemies-Canaanite, Philistines etc. Spiritual enemies-world, flesh, devil.
  Power of grace
Various victorious kings of Israel/Judah Christ the victorious king

Wrath and love?

It is true that no human being can be under the wrath of God and be loved by him simultaneously. Christian believers, God’s elect sheep have been loved by him IN CHRIST from before the world was. Before we were saved we were BY NATURE children of wrath even as others and we retain this sinful nature till our dying day, yet we are loved infinitely and everlastingly.

What about Christ?

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Our Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way,”Q. 37.  What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
A.  That He, all the time that He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind; that so by His passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favor of God, righteousness and eternal life.”

In the Triple Knowledge*, Herman Hoeksema’s exposition of H.C. he states, “All his (Christ’s) life is one testimony of the fact that he lived in perfect fellowship with his father, and was conscious of his approval and favour.” But didn’t he bear God’s wrath too? Let it be clearly stated that Christ as a person was never the object of his father’s wrath but “he suffered the expression, the concrete effect of the wrath of God against sin”, “the reaction of his holiness against (us) the workers of iniquity.” This comes to it’s climax in Christ’s God-forsakenness at Calvary, “At the moment when God is most highly pleased with him, he experiences all the terror of being forsaken of God!”

What a Saviour! Who would not consecrate themselves body and soul to live for him?

*Books

tripleknowledge

Exhort and encourage one another.

These two big “E”s are repeatedly mentioned by the apostle Paul.

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Paul and Barnabas depicted.

Heb.3:13 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

I Thess.2:11, 5:14 “As ye know how we exhorted and comforted (encouraged) and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children”, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort (encourage) the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”

Barnabas’ names means son of consolation (encouragement) Acts 4:36.

How do we encourage in the fellowship with other believers?

  • Praise them when praise is due—commend, thank, give thanks for them.
  • Edify—build them up (strengthen them in midst of difficulties by stirring up their faith and assuring them of God’s promises), instruct them by increasing their knowledge, encouraging faith and love.
  • Urge or beseech them.

Why do we need to exhort?

Because our unbelief causes departures from God (Ps.95). The Israelites shunned to covenant promises of God for Canaan, the blessings held no attraction for them, perhaps because they knew they would need to fight for them! Frequently they, and we, are deceived by attractive idolatry and sin.

How do we exhort in the fellowship? Daily!

It means to call alongside to help either:

  • comfort
  • rebuke
  • instruct

Don’t be afraid to do this as James tells us in James 5:19-20.

Gleaned from message by Rev. Martyn McGeown of Limerick Reformed Fellowship and Standard Bearer article 1/3/14 by Rev. James Slopsema.

No man taketh it from me

John 10:18 reads, “ No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

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Christ allowing himself to be wickedly scourged, beaten, humiliated and eventually cruelly and excruciatingly  killed WAS NOT A VICTIM! Even while he permitted, nay decreed, his own awful sufferings he sovereignly was in charge of his murderers, enabling them to act wholly responsibly in their wickedness, out of their own malice to put him to death.

Christ was the ONLY MAN EVER to decide the moment of his death as he dismissed his spirit (Luke 23:46).

Christ was the ONLY MAN EVER to raise himself from the dead and take his life again, by omnipotent death-defying power invested in him eternally by his father.

Christ was, and is, the ONLY MAN EVER to possess eternal life in himself, the power of an endless life and the love of the Father (Heb.7:16).

Christ was, and is, the ONLY MAN EVER to be given sovereign judgment over all other men (John 5:22).

Christ was, and is, the ONLY MAN EVER to have power to cast all who despise him into everlasting hell.

Who is CHRIST to you?

An irrelevance, someone who died and whose body disappeared 2000 years ago, just a good man or example?

Or as he is in truth—the ever-living LORD of the universe and your rightful LORD, SAVIOUR, MASTER and FRIEND?

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12).

Covenant Communion with God (2)

communion

“This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. We rest in the Father’s love. We love him in return.

Both his love and ours are a love of rest and delight (Zeph. 3:17) seeking nothing more. The two-way love is through Christ. He is the treasury wherein the Father disposeth all the riches of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and he is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we return unto the Father. Love is first poured out on Christ; and from him it drops as the dew of Hermon upon the souls of his saints.”

But God’s love and ours differ─”The love of God is a love of bounty; our love unto him is a love of duty. The cause of his love is his good pleasure and the cause of ours his love for us. His love is unchangeable and infinite, ours variable and weak.

sun

The love of God for his elect people is like the sun shining in all its strength despite being apparently hidden by the clouds of circumstance or our variable emotions. (from prayer of Rev. Angus Stewart CPRC).

 

Reflection on my medical career 1977-2017

Revelation 1:7 reads, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:”, so the glorified ascended Lord Jesus Christ introduces himself to John as the initiator and creator of all things and the conclusion and goal of all things also.

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When I was faced with my university application form back in 1970, though not a believer, my heartfelt tears and cry for help to Jesus were answered when providentially I was led to apply for medicine at Edinburgh university. During my undergraduate studies I was converted and started attending a true church. My medical career encompassed many specialties initially, all in the Glasgow area from 1977 till 1993, then a job move to Bournemouth saw me devote myself to Emergency Medicine there for the next 15 years. Sadly no true church in Bournemouth so when a job arose in Belfast near enough to Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Ballymena I applied and got the job. Having retired from full time work in ED at Belfast Royal in 2012 I continued doing locums till 27th January this year when I retired fully.

Medical life has not been easy and there have been many humiliating circumstances but I have derived a lot of satisfaction and enjoyed good relations with many colleagues. With no pressure now to earn more or cover empty shifts I can devote myself to, roughly in order of priority:

  • Fellowship with my covenant divine friend (Bible, prayer, studies, good books, periodicals)
  • Church work (caretaking, deacon, treasurer, writing)
  • Family home and Joseph’s business with animals
  • Keeping fit                                                                                                                                                                                   The Lord started my medical career, carried me through it, and now has brought it to an end so I thank him.
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The Holy War (14)

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Sung Psalm 18:36-42 (graphic imagery!)

Read Micah 4:9-5:6

First century Jews wrongly expected a king who would deliver them from and defeat the Romans. In John 6:14-15 they clearly expected a king like David and a prophet like Moses, both of whom fought holy wars. That there were Jewish freedom-fighters is clear from Acts 5:36-37 and 21:38. Matthew 24 is a warning against false prophets and christs who through their physical rebellion, would bring about the mass killing of the Jews in AD 70. All these ideas were based on misunderstood prophesy and eventually led to the death of their true Messiah.

In Micah, another prophet from Judah contemporary with Isaiah, we read of the coming shepherd king who will have worldwide dominion. In 4:1-3 we read of the last days, or N.T. age of peace between God’s people when physical holy war against their enemies ceases.

The latter chapters of Isaiah cast more light on the messianic king. Metaphorical roads would be made for him (40:3-5), he would be a shepherd king (10-11), no rallying cry (42:1-3), he wields a metaphorical sword (the words of his mouth 49:1-4), and he would suffer (50:4-11). Isaiah 40:10, 51:9 and 53:1ff speak of the arm of the Lord who is Christ. Zech.13:7 is a clear messianic prophecy describing how the messiah must suffer to deliver his people from slavery to sin and Isaiah 59:16-21 shows him to be the warrior Redeemer. The messiah starts his ministry proclaiming liberty to captive sinners and the coming day of judgment. This messiah will eventually tread down all his enemies (63:1-6) c.f. Revelation 19:11-13 on the final day.

Now we need to learn how to fight our battles for the kingdom following Christ and the apostles’ example as per Paul’s exhortation in I Timothy 1:8, to “wage a good warfare.”

The Heart of a Servant in the Church

Very challenging article. Anytime our motives are scrutinised it calls for some soul-searching!

Young Calvinists

“He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.”  (Proverbs 27:14).

The communion of the saints is a wonderful thing. Feeling the care and spiritual encouragement of one’s church family, especially in times of grief or spiritual struggle, is a great blessing and comfort to the Child of God. God did not mean for us to walk this pilgrimage alone. As it is written in Ecclesiastes 4:10, “woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” The unity of the body of Christ is a good and beautiful thing.

However, we must search our hearts so that our good deeds towards our brothers and sisters don’t become a source of pride on our own part. In Proverbs 27, Solomon writes of a man who wakes up early…

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James 5:19-20

studyguidejames

James 5:19-20 and resumé of book

The Conversion of the Sinner

  1. Ultimately the truth is Christ (John 14:6) but in terms that we can see and understand it is the Scriptures (Ps.119:128,142).
  2. To err from the truth is to believe falsehood and/or teach it which then affects the way you live. Unbelief, deception and wrong behaviour are all sinful. Denominations that err from the truth usually apostatise. The necessity is knowing the truth AND loving it (II Thess.2:10-11).
  3. To convert means to come to confess sin or falsehood, repent from it and re-consecrate oneself to God. Peter is an example (Luke 22:32) and David (Ps.51).
  4. Although God must work in the heart, we may be the means whereby a sinner is converted. It is severally illustrated in terms of eyes, ears and mind. The eyes must be opened (John 3:3) and the ears (Matt.13:15, Mark 4:12, John 12:40 and Acts 28:27) to hear Christ’s voice and the heart needs to understand. The word is also the instrument (Ps.19:7). This is true at initial conversion and subsequent on-going conversion.
  5. The death of which James writes is that of backsliding and ultimately, if unrepentant, eternal death in apostasy.
  6. To hide a multitude of sins is to have them covered by the blood of Christ when they are confessed and forsaken (I John 1:9, Ps.103:12, Ps.32:1). God declares them buried in the deepest sea and no longer remembered.

Key themes of the book of James

  • Affliction through trial and temptation to which we are to respond by rejoicing and prayer.
  • Fleeting nature of riches and not respecting persons.
  • Control of the tongue.
  • Living faith is shown by works.
  • Prayer encouraged and the restoration of the backslider.

Divisions of book

1:1-8 Greetings and exhortation to rejoice in trials knowing they work for good and that God will grant wisdom.

1:9-16 Riches fade. The source of temptation.

1:17-27 Control your anger. Obey the word.

2:1-9 Don’t respect persons.

2:10-26 Your faith works to show you are justified.

3:1-18 Teachers judged more strictly. Control tongue. Exhibition of godly wisdom.

4:1-17 Against lust and pride and boasting.

5:1-9 Against riches and injustice.

5:10-18 Exhortation to endure, no rash swearing, need to pray with examples.

5:19-20 Need to restore backslider.

Next BS (DV) March 25th to look at first chapter of “War of Words” by Paul David Tripp (on e bay £10 incl. p&p)

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See also: War of Words

Covenant Communion with God

In light of my love for the gracious covenant of God, the bond of friendship every true believer enjoys with Father, Son and Spirit, I propose to share notes from John Owen’s great work on communion with the triune God. May you be blessed and edified as I am sure I will be!

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It can be read in its totality here: Communion

I John 1:3

Communion implies:

  • common nature (humanity and spirituality) with Christ
  • common interest (God’s glory)
  • common condition (blessed, suffering)
  • common actions (gospel)
  • common delight

Essentially in this bond of fellowship God communicates himself.

II Cor.13:14

I Cor.12:4-6

Our worship, love and the exercise of faith are toward  each of the persons of the trinity.

Each TEACH: John 6:45, Matthew 17:5, John 14:26.

All GRACES come from all three persons. The Father communicates by way of original authority, the Son by purchased treasury and the Spirit by immediate efficacy. (Romans 8:11).

The Awfulness of Hell

John Gill on Mark 9:49

” For every one shall be salted with fire”

 

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That is every one of those that transgress the law of God, offend any that, believe in Christ, retain their sins, and sinful companions; every one of them that are cast into hell, where the worm of conscience is always gnawing, and the fire of divine wrath is always burning, with that fire every one of them shall be salted: that fire shall be to them, what salt is to flesh; as that keeps flesh from putrefaction and corruption, so the fire of hell, as it will burn, torture, and distress rebellious sinners, it will preserve them in their beings; they shall not be consumed by it, but continued in it: so that these words are a reason of the former, showing and proving, that the soul in torment shall never die, or lose any of its powers and faculties; and particularly, not its gnawing, torturing conscience; and that the fire of hell is inextinguishable; for though sinners will be inexpressibly tormented in it, they will not be consumed by it; but the smoke of their torments shall ascend for ever and ever; and that they will be so far from being annihilated by the fire of hell, that they shall be preserved in their beings in it, as flesh is preserved by salt:

War of Words

 

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Paul David Tripp has come in for criticism for psycho-heresy but he has a lot of worthwhile material. ” Love is willing self-sacrifice for the redemptive good of another not demanding reciprocation or that the person is deserving.” ” Immanuel is his name, not just because he came to earth but because he made us his dwelling place.”

His book “War of Words” emphasises the importance of our words that are either life-giving or deadly, never neutral, words that are always the overflow of our hearts.

Short Video

Full video

Holiness to the Lord

Exodus 28: 38.b874f448a16dcaf1363db4e73b09f3de untitled-png-2

And the golden plate shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, the plate of gold, with the inscription on it, holiness to the Lord, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; this supposes that the sacrifices of the children of Israel, were attended with sin and blame, either in the matter of their offerings and gifts, or in the manner in which they brought them; and which through the high priest having this plate of gold, with the above inscription on it, were expiated; they were bore away from them, and were not placed to their account. There is sin in the best performances of the saints; there is not a just man that does good, but he sins in doing that good; the best righteousness of men is imperfect, and attended with sin; and this cannot be borne, or taken away by themselves; if God should mark such sins as these, they could not stand before him; now Christ, their High Priest, bears and takes away these, along with all others, which are laid upon him, and borne by him:

Belgic Confession 24

“for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then we would be continually vexed, if (we) relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Saviour. ” (abridged)

 

Respect for the Word of God

ALL Scripture is inspired by God. ALL Scripture needs to be obeyed.

Young Calvinists

Many people today claim to love the Word of God. They talk about the beauty of the Bible, especially its poetry and rhythmic flow. Many of these same people, however treat it as irrelevant, in much the same way that we would treat a magazine of the 1970s.  In other words, they treat it with contempt while still claiming to love it. When it comes to such issues as women in office, homosexuality, or premarital sex we often hear something like this: “The Bible might have said that back in Paul’s day but we live in a different era now, so those rules don’t apply anymore.”  Still others cherry-pick which parts of the Bible they will adhere to. Doing that is nothing new. Thomas Jefferson is well known for going through the Bible with knife and cutting out the miracles and other parts of Scripture that he didn’t believe in…

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The Holy War (12)

In a whistle-stop review quiz of the history of Israel from Moses to David (500years) we covered things like:

  • God using forces of nature to defeat enemy e.g. water, earthquake, hail and thunder.

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  • His people won battles through praise, prayer, angels and technical inventions.
  • Wars often inspired songs
  • Wars resulted in the deaths of thousands including major figures like Samson, Saul and Josiah.
  • Summons to battle could be the usual trumpets but unusually a dismembered concubine or oxen.
  • Individuals warred and also partners.
  • David was the greatest warrior (typifying Christ ─ Heb.2:14).

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  • Some general principles: God often judges and chastises his people by war and oppression and many die but Psalm 44:9-26 reveals that God’s people despite doing good, may also suffer and in this case we call it persecution. This will eventually lead us to consider war in the New Testament, which of course is spiritual.

Preparing My Heart with Gladness

Even in the business of the week we still have fellowship with our covenant God although granted the privileges of the Lord’s Day are special.

Young Calvinists

This Saturday, as we prepare for worshiping our God tomorrow, I can’t help but think of the first verse of Psalter #348:

With joy and gladness in my soul

I hear the call to prayer;

Let us go up to God’s own house

And bow before Him there.

How glad and joyful I am that I can go to God’s house! Why am I so happy, you ask? Why is it such a good thing to go to church? How joyful can it really be to go and worship?

Let’s think about it this way. We are busy as beavers Monday through Saturday: school, work, family, friends, relationships—all of these things demand our attention and care. We are always thinking ahead to what we have to do next, or when this is going to happen, or who we are going to see here. It’s as if our minds are clocks…

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The Breath of Life

God has no need to breathe but breath represents God’s life. Without his breath, no life.

Young Calvinists

Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”

Are you breathing?

Of course you are; if not, you wouldn’t be conscious for long or even alive, much less reading this article. But how often do you think about the slow, regular breaths that keep you alive every minute of every day? To become more aware, let’s try something: Take a deep breath and hold it.

keep holding…

keep holding…

Are you starting to feel like something’s missing?

Your chest is probably feeling heavy. You might feel a sense of panic twirling in your stomach, and pretty soon your brain will be screaming for air. If you don’t relent, dark edges may start to creep into the edges of your vision. Before you pass out, breathe!

It’s amazing how we can be reduced to an…

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You did not choose me — I chose you.

New LRF Blog Post


The God Who Chooses

Posted: 08 Feb 2017 07:40 AM PST

The God Who Chooses

Part of God’s eternal purpose is election or predestination. We know what election is—it is a choice. In election, however, we mean God’s choice. Specifically, we mean God’s choice concerning salvation. Even more specifically, we mean God’s choice of whom He will save.

There are some who think that God has chosen to save everybody. Their argument is that God wants everyone to be in heaven, but He leaves it up to individual people to decide whether they want to be in heaven with God or not. Often salvation is described as an offer—God wants to give you salvation, but you have to be willing to accept it. Some portray Jesus as “knocking on the door of your heart,” hoping that you will invite Him into your life.

The Bible does not teach that. In fact, such a portrayal is very dishonouring to God. We have already seen that God is almighty, sovereign and majestic in His holiness. Does a beggar knocking on hearts sound like God? Would the God who is independent be reduced to depending on His creatures in such a way? In fact, Scripture says, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Romans 9:16). If salvation depends on the freewill of humans, then God depends on the freewill of humans. Then humans—not God—are sovereign. God forbid!

The Bible teaches that before the world was created—in His eternal decree—God made a choice. First, He chose Jesus Christ to be the Saviour. Second, in that decree, He gave a certain, definite, limited number of humans to Jesus Christ. Third, He sent Jesus Christ into the world to save those humans—and only them—from their sins. Jesus explains: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39). Jesus did not come to try to save as many as possible, and then fail in the attempt. Jesus came to save a definite number—as many as the Father had given to Him—and them He actually saves. Not one of them shall be lost. Is that not good news?

Paul writes, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

Predestination is not a horrible teaching. It is God’s eternal choice of His people in love.

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Rev. Martyn McGeown

PARKRUN VOLUNTEERING

 

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Brief description of all necessary jobs.

VOLUNTEER CO-ORDINATOR JOB: he or she gets volunteers by asking personally, waving his clipboard and shouting, sending appeals by e-mail and FB messages. When he gets one or more volunteers he enters them on live WIZARD PARKRUN site under VOLUNTEERS which then uploads them to ECOS website. After each Parkrun he confirms who did what, so they get their points and after 25 volunteering days their well-deserved purple T shirt! Along with RACE DIRECTOR he makes sure they are trained for their jobs.

RACE DIRECTOR, a key post each week is someone who delegates jobs and ensures all is set up including refreshments, makes sure all volunteers are trained and bibbed with high-viz, gives the pre-run announcements, starts the run, responds to any incidents, oversees timing and scanning and ensures all gates and doors locked at finish. He or she has a checklist to follow. They would also need to co-ordinate any life-saving or first aid response to illness or injury.

PACERS are experienced runners who undertake to run at a pace which they wear on their bib e.g. 25 or 30 minutes, to help runners toward a new P.B. or set time. They are an extra in many Parkruns.

RESULTS PROCESSOR gets your performances uploaded on the ECOS PARKRUN website asap after the run. The times from stopwatch and placings from scanner are downloaded and collated by the clever computer to generate the list. Parkrun head office then generates a report which, along with some comments is posted on ECOS FACEBOOK page by the RUN REPORT WRITER.

VOLUNTEERS, the people who enable Parkrun to happen, can be under 18 as long as an adult is supervising them! Everyone gets 100 points for their first three volunteer jobs. VISUAL IMPAIRED PERSON HELPER and TAILRUNNER GET 100 VOLUNTEER POINTS PLUS RUN POINTS. This is the last year there will be a points competition. It ends on our Anniversary March 25th 2018 unless I am mistaken.

TOKEN PERSON or chip dispenser gives a finishing token with each participant’s position on it to them just after they cross the line at end of finishing funnel. Finishers should stay in order! There can be anything from 80 to 220 finishers. Every ten or twenty numbers they check with timers they are on same number of finishers. After the run tokens need replaced on pin dispenser. Easy first volunteer job!

PHOTOGRAPHER positions him or herself for snaps of as many participants as possible, wherever they choose, with their own or a borrowed camera (there is usually a CANON SLR digital one easy to use or the PARKRUN PINK digital camera to borrow). Photos uploaded asap to FB page.

TIMEKEEPERS (TWO) have a stopwatch to record the start and time of each participant. They press a button to start (3 on right) then each time someone crosses the line they press (1 on left), when all are in, they press (3) again and give watch to result processor. Job done! Every ten runners or so they check that their numbers match the number that the token person has given out.

What do SCANNERS do? At least one scanner, and we usually have two, needs to be at base for the first finishers to scan their BARCODE then FINISH TOKEN in that order for each finisher. If no BARCODE scan nothing. If scanner fails, manually enter name and result on sheet provided. Return chips to ice box. Barcodes on phones not allowed. The second scanner can usually run before doing his/her job to help scanner one.

TAILRUNNER! Tail runner walks or jogs with the last runner going round, picks up any temporary run direction signs and locks the grey gate at the sluice/overspill. Ideal for someone injured and recovering, or racing later in the day. Time taken usually 35 to 45 minutes.

VI GUIDE escorts visually impaired or blind Parkrunners or walkers around the course to keep them safe plus or minus guide dog!

MARSHALS are sometimes needed for mentally or physically handicapped participants to guide them around or accompany someone under 11 with no guardian.

SET UP. Two people need to help put out finishing funnel cones, cones across finishing area, open gates to car parks, put out all signs and run or bike round one half of the course to check for ice, deep puddles, fallen trees etc.-a good way to warm up. We also always need helpers to set out refreshments.

 

 

 

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The Holy War (11)

 

Sung Psalm 78:58-66

Reading Judges 15

Samson

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The situation was dire, Israel because of their rank idolatry, was under the domination of the Philistines (10:6 and 13:1). They were so for forty years and there was no cry of repentance yet God intervened by calling Samson indirectly through his parents (13:5) who would begin to deliver them. Their full deliverance would only come later under Samuel, the last judge (I Sam.7). We think Samson may have overlapped with Jephthah and Eli.

The Nazarite vow which was really upon his mother and Samson came from Numbers 6:1-6 and meant:

  • Hair was never to be cut
  • No wine or food or drink made from grapes
  • No touching of a dead body (this must have been rescinded in Samson’s case!)
  • Nazarites normally vowed for a time period but Samson was one from birth to death.

Judges, by the way did judge legally among the people and also fought to deliver them between the time of Joshua and Saul the first king.

Samson was unique: poetic and intelligent (his riddles and figures of speech), supernaturally strong through his consecration (signified by his hair) and anointing by the Spirit of God, he fought alone, he used unusual weapons, he also fought several battles and he only began to deliver Israel.

Among all Israel he was the only one who cared about their sorry spiritual state, the rest compromised and in fact handed him over to the enemy (15:11).

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However his great weakness was the lust of the eyes through which he wanted three different pagan women, with two of whom he fornicated, God yet choosing to use his sin as a means of causing a fight against the Philistines. His taking the gates from Gaza to Hebron involved nearly forty miles walk mainly uphill with a great weight! In the end in severe chastisement, God took out his eyes.

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He died fighting slaying more than at any other time of his life.

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National repentance of the Jews?

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Here is proof that there will be no national repentance of the Jews:

  1. The Land: Although Abraham and his descendants were promised Canaan, Hebrews 11 makes it clear that the patriarchs actually looked for heaven as their homeland and Canaan just represented that hope. So the land of Israel has no great significance any more, it is real estate like England or India, one day to enter the conflagration and be renewed.
  2. The Temple: This structure representing God’s presence with Israel, was destroyed in 70AD thus ending God’s covenant with them as a nation (Matthew 21:43). We are told that we believers are now the temple of God. No more sacrifices will ever be offered because Christ has fulfilled them all and any return to them in the future would be a blasphemous denial of his once-for-all work on the cross.
  3. The King: David is a type of Christ. No more tabernacle of David ever (Isaiah 16:5 notwithstanding!) Christ’s kingdom is NOT of this world…ever. So no messianic state in Israel!
  4. Israel: This name which once stood for the Jews as a nation, although in reality it meant only the elect remnant among them (Romans 9:6). Israel, the church in the Old Testament is now the name for the church composed of Jew and Gentile, the true circumcision. So when Scripture states “All Israel shall be saved” it means all the elect of all nations. God’s elect church are now the only single nation of God (I Peter 2:9). God never did love the whole nation of Israel or any other nation for that matter. His everlasting, foreknowing, electing love has always and will always be, only for Christ and all those chosen in him before the foundation of the world, because love is the bond of perfectness (Col.3:14) that is, the bond between the members of the trinity and of all the elect in the Son, given to him and united to him by faith. God never did and never will love his enemies, the reprobate wicked (like Esau Romans 9).

For all these reasons Romans 11 CANNOT and DOES NOT mean there will be a national repentance and turning to God among the Jews in the last days. They are like any other people, they will have representatives before the throne in eternity.

James 5:13-18

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James 5:13-15

The Prayer of Faith

  1. The opposites James mentions are affliction and being merry. In the first instance he tells us to pray and in the second to sing Psalms although he could also have said it the other way round, namely in affliction sing Psalms which are prayers (as Paul and Silas did in Acts 16) and when merry pray thankfully.
  2. The affliction mentioned, we believe, could be physical or spiritual. In the New Testament affliction is used of:
  • Persecution (Matt.24:9, Heb.11:25,37, II Cor. 1:6).
  • Conviction of sin and chastisement for sin (James 4:9 WRETCHED, Psalm 107:17, Psalm 119:67,
  • I Kings 8:35)
  • Famine/destitution (Acts 7:11, James 1:27)
  • Satanic attack or temptation (Job, Paul’s thorn etc).
  • Pain/sickness/bereavement
  • Spiritual weariness

The usual Greek word is THLIPSIS meaning pressure although in this verse it is KAKOPATHEO meaning hardship.

  1. The happy should sing Psalms because God is to be praised at all times, especially for blessings even though we are told to rejoice and praise him at all times (Phil.4:4, Psalm 34:1).
  2. Is any sick? The word sick and the word weak are the same Greek word e.g. I Cor. 11:30, II Cor. 11:30 (AESTHENEO) meaning without strength. The other word for weary and the word sick are the same (KAMNEO Heb. 12:3, James 5:15). The context suggests again both, we are body and soul and often spiritual sickness accompanies physical sickness.
  3. God may use the elders’ prayers and anointing (whether literal or not) to heal the sick (v16) cf Rev.3:18.
  4. Anointing with oil was an Old Testament practice signifying anointing with the Spirit for service as prophet, priest or king. The Spirit heals physically and/or spiritually whether directly or through means but by itself no oil cures anything.
  5. Prayer may cure illness if it is God’s will e.g. Paul’s many miracles, Elisha, Peter (Acts 9:40) where even resurrection from death occurs in answer to prayer.
  6. Again the answer is as above although the New Testament is full of examples where prayer in faith an requests made directly to Christ were all positively answered. Should a person die then they are forever healed!
  7. Healing in the ministry of Christ and the apostles is always a picture of the spiritual healing the gospel brings (John 12:40, I Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5, Luke 4:18) which is basically the forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:9-10). The prayers of the elders offered in faith will bring physical healing AND forgiveness according to this scripture.

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James 5:16-18

The Power of Prayer

1/2     Confessing your sins to one another relates especially to sins committed against another Christian which must be confessed, repented of and forgiven. So as to bring reconciliation and restore harmony. We must also confess all known sin to God. Confession of serious public sin in the church must be publicly confessed. Private besetting sins MAY be shared among caring brethren for help and accountability.

  1. Prayer for our brethren should be modelled on Paul’s prayers for the churches where he prays for their sanctification, which is a cleansing from sin and spiritual healing (Isaiah 1:6, Psalm 41:4, Jer. 3:22, Psalm 107:19-20, Psalm 6:1-3). Leprosy, the most obvious and contagious OT disease, made people unclean as a picture of sin.
  2. Confession and repentance brings healing to the conscience and healing of wounds between saints. Old wounds should not be picked at as we sometimes do with scabs!
  3. James is not teaching that prayer ever changes God’s mind but he is saying that Spirit-inspired prayer is effective and Christ exhorts persistence in his parable of the widow and corrupt judge (Luke 18:1ff).
  4. If the prayer of the righteous is according to God’s will (John 16:24), it will be answered and God will bring the positive outcome asked for, or deliverance e.g. Elijah and the drought and Elisha (II Kings 6:17), also Christ at Lazarus’ tomb. God used Christ’s prayers and will use our prayers in effecting his purposes (John 17).
  5. James uses Elijah as an example because he saw God miraculously answer his prayers despite him being sinful just like us.
  6. This means God uses the prayers of sinners to demonstrate his power, vindicate them and to encourage them. This encourages us to pray fervently despite our sinfulness. But we must remember Psalm 66:18, John 15 and I John 3:22. We can always plead his promises, tell him to fulfil his threats (Deut.28:23), pray using Scripture.

Ultimately Elijah’s prayer was heard because it was in line with God’s will and vindicated himself as the true God.

Next Study Saturday February 25th (Last of James) James 5:19-20 and review of book. Summarise each chapter, perhaps pick a key verse. Think about what we should study next-we are pursuing one idea.

 

 

Hating your own life

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26.

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Ever wondered what this means?

Read this article by Rev. Angus Stewart

https://media.wix.com/ugd/49b4d1_b3514bfd3f184e72a9062c56a0725f5b.pdf

 

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Romans 8:13

Truth

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“To err doctrinally from the truth is serious. God is himself the truth. He has revealed his truth in Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. The confession of the truth by the church and its members is the measuring stick by which the saints’ love for God can be measured. If we are careless about the truth and indifferent toward it, if we overlook aberrations and tolerate untruths about God and Christ, and if we consider the truth to be of so little importance that we never condemn heresy, we do not love God.”

Herman Hanko in “Faith Made Perfect” RFPA  2015

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Available here:

Joseph

Every time I read Genesis 45 tears well up in my eyes. The story evokes so much pathos. Joseph, the long-lost eleventh son of Jacob having been sold as a slave by his jealous brothers has risen to be prime minister of Egypt.

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He has given his brothers a taste of injustice by returning their food money in their sacks and planting his silver cup in Benjamin’s. He has been testing their characters by demanding a hostage when they return home and now for the last time, having sent his steward to apprehend them, he finally cannot control himself any longer in their presence and leaves the room to weep returning to reveal his identity with much weeping and embracing.

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Although not a type of Christ there are many parallels in the two lives:

  • He is betrayed by jealous brethren (Christ and the Jews).
  • He is sold for twenty pieces of silver (Christ was sold for thirty)
  • He is unjustly bound and imprisoned
  • God is manifestly with him throughout (Chapter 39 x4)
  • Having suffered he is exalted to very high station
  • He forgives his brethren
  • He believes in the absolute sovereignty of God
  • He is a saviour to his family
  • He forgave them their sin against him

He is a godly example and man of faith (Hebrews 11:22), is there any wonder I named my son after him?

The Meaning of Grace

Christians who believe grace is unmerited favour have only part of the answer and Christians who believe in “common” grace, that God in the gospel offers it to all men are very mistaken as definition 4 below shows. Only God’s elect are the objects of his saving, particular grace.

The word grace in Scripture has a variety of meanings:

1. Grace as an attribute of God has the fundamental meaning of pleasantness, attractiveness, and gracefulness. God is the perfection of all beauty and attractiveness and gracefulness, because He is the implication of all infinite perfection of goodness in the ethical sense. God is perfectly lovely and beautiful.

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A  graceful dancer

2. Grace in Scripture denotes the attitude of graciousness or pleasantness, the gracious disposition of God to the creature. This is undoubtedly the meaning of the phrase, “to find grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8; Gen. 19:19).

3. In close connection with the preceding, the word grace has the meaning of undeserved or forfeited favor. In this case, the favorable attitude of God is accentuated and enhanced by the condition of the subjects who receive the grace of God. The word of God uses the term grace as standing opposed to obligation and, therefore, as being opposed to works.

4. The word grace frequently is used in Scripture to denote the power of God whereby the sinner is actually saved and delivered from the bondage of sin and corruption, whereby he is regenerated and sanctified, and thus is made pleasant in the sight of God. It also includes all the spiritual blessings and virtues that are bestowed upon the objects of God’s favor.

5. Grace is used in the sense of thanks, as we read in the original of 1 Corinthians 15:57: “Grace be to God, who giveth us the victory.” The meaning is most probably that grace is ascribed to God by those who are the objects and recipients of the power of God’s grace, in order that He may receive praise and adoration as the only God of all grace.

Herman Hoeksema

(Reformed Dogmatics [Grandville, MI: RFPA, 2014], vol. 2, pp. 280-281)

The Holy War (10)

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Sung Psalm 144:1-8

Read Judges 11:12-28

We reviewed Judges 9, the history of Gideon’s son Abimelech and his unholy war with Shechem in which according to the curse of Jotham, they destroyed each other (9:57).

Judges 10:6 details Israel’s wicked, many-faceted idolatry.

The next major Judge (given significant space in Bible) is Jephthah in chapter 11. Jephthah leads Israel against Ammon after the people beg him to do so. vv12-28 detail Jephthah’s argument in the land dispute in which he manifests his knowledge of Israel’s history in the Pentateuch. Ammon was claiming land that was not theirs (they also intruded into land west of the Jordan). The battle (vv32-33) was a holy war because:

  • The Spirit of God came upon Jephthah (v29)
  • God delivered them (v32)
  • It was a just war (” Lord judge”), the land was theirs.
  • Jephthah’s rash vow (v30). The aftermath of which we believe was Jephthah’s daughter’s perpetual virginity.

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In chapter 12:1-6 we read of a civil war between Jephthah’s forces and the proud Ephraimites with massive loss of life (42,000 men). Jephthah is mentioned in Hebrews 11:32-24 in the context of acts of faith which included holy war (“subdued kingdoms”).

The Holy Spirit and the Ascension

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What was promised?

What happened?

What changed?

 

Christ promised to pour out his spirit on the disciples after the resurrection. He said that he would send the comforter who would be their teacher and we know this PARAKLETE would apply all the benefits of Christ’s atoning death, resurrection and ascension to his people (John 14:16, 16:7, 13, Acts 1:8), namely adoption, assurance, sealing and gifting.

The outpouring of the spirit at Pentecost, and subsequently on all the elect, was promised in the Old Testament as Peter stated (Acts 2:33). Psalm 68:18 (quoted in Eph.4:8), Isaiah 32:15, 44:3, 59:21, Ezekiel 39:29 and especially Joel 2:28 are relevant.

The Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son (BC Art.11*) was poured out on the fledgling church enabling miraculous signs to authenticate their ministry, gift them for all their service, teach them, and seal them as his people for ever.

What changed was, that the eternal unchangeable Spirit came as the Spirit of the risen Christ (John 7:38-39, I Cor.15:45), merited by Christ’s great work, promised as his inheritance (along with all his seed) and received by him as mediator, not for himself, because he was always filled without measure (Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, John 3:34) but for the church.

What changed was:

  • He was poured out publicly and universally (previously almost exclusively among the Jews)
  • He came as the teacher of God’s truth, to complete the canon and develop truth throughout church history.
  • He came with greater revelation (especially concerning Christ’s work and eschatology), dispensing richer grace (the least in the kingdom is greater than John the Baptist) and all the gifts (I Cor.12), tongues especially was new and a reversal of Babel. New Testament believers are all prophets, priests and kings!

* Belgic Confession.

Teamwork

This applies in many spheres of life e.g. medicine, aviation, sport and church. I am sure you could find Scripture references and examples to back it up..

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What does good teamwork depend upon?

  • Good leadership which demonstrates..
  • Good communication
  • Assertiveness
  • Good example
  • Delegation
  • Supports and values
  • Challenges

What about good followers?

  • Manage self
  • Competent but seeks help
  • Follows orders after evaluation
  • May challenge with alternatives

Different types:

  • Sheep
  • “yes” men
  • Pragmatist
  • Alienated (pride)
  • Star follower

Failed communication: why did the airliner running out of fuel crash? Black box recorder (air traffic control/cockpit) revealed:

  • Lack of clarity
  • Lack of urgency
  • Lack of critical language
  • Lack of respect

Blessed are the pure in heart.

 

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Matthew 5:8.                                                                                                                                                                    Blessed are the pure in heart,…. Not in the head; for men may have pure notions and impure hearts; not in the hand, or action, or in outward conversation only; so the Pharisees were outwardly righteous before men, but inwardly full of impurity; but “in heart.” The heart of man is naturally unclean; nor is it in the power of man to make it clean, or to be pure from his sin; nor is any man in this life, in such sense, so pure in heart, as to be entirely free from sin. This is only true of Christ, angels, and glorified saints: but such may be said to be so, who, though they have sin dwelling in them, are justified from all sin, by the righteousness of Christ, and are “clean through the word,” or sentence of justification pronounced upon them, on the account of that righteousness; whose iniquities are all of them forgiven, and whose hearts are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, which cleanses from all sin; and who have the grace of God wrought in their hearts, which, though as yet imperfect, it is entirely pure; there is not the least spot or stain of sin in it: and such souls as they are in love with, so they most earnestly desire after more purity of heart, lip, life, and conversation. And happy they are,
for they shall see God; in this life, enjoying communion with him, both in private and public, in the several duties of religion, in the house and ordinances of God; where they often behold his beauty, see his power and his glory, and taste, and know, that he is good and gracious: and in the other world, where they shall see God in Christ, with the eyes of their understanding; and God incarnate, with the eyes of their bodies, after the resurrection; which sight of Christ, and God in Christ, will be unspeakably glorious, desirable, delightful, and satisfying; it will be free from all darkness and error, and from all interruption; it will be an appropriating and transforming one, and will last for ever. John Gill Commentary<!–

Matthew 5:9–>

This can be cross-referenced with Paul’s aim, ” bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” in II Corinthians. 10:5

Irish Indoor Rowing Championships (IIRC) 2017

16251950_769354589882443_4307003303604627424_o  The bucket’s for anyone who throws up!16265354_769490766535492_4942477512579740555_nReady, Attention, Row!

After a sleepless overnight train and bus journey I arrived at University of Limerick just in time for the first race the 1000m at 10.12am. As ever I had Ken Lake, ex-marine and CEO of Lakes Fitness in Malta beside me, who invariably (up till now) beats me. He did it again well and truly, pulling away to 80m in front, by the end, but I have to add he is a heavyweight (over 75Kg) rower and I am lightweight. So, a silver. Then with an outside chance at an Irish record in the 500m sprint I had to get off 0.7Kg by 3pm to make lightweight for it. I made it after three runs and a visit to the loo. In this race both I and John Martyn of Galway started off hard and in fact John led till the last 100m I believe, when Ken overhauled him.

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1000m first three.                                           L to R. John, Ken and me.

The championships as ever were well run with around 1,400 competitors of ages 12-75, with a professional photographer on hand and plenty vociferous supporters (see pic).

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IIRC website

Thousands of photos on this FB page

 https://www.facebook.com/JustLookAtTheLensPhotography/photos/

How to row indoors properly

 

Abraham’s servant’s prayer.

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I find this prayer and it’s answer one of the most remarkable in the Bible, for two reasons: first it’s specificity, Eliezer asks for something quite detailed and specific and second he says it in his heart (v45). This shows that our prayers don’t have to be actually spoken out loud and they can be about the most small, specific or detailed subject in our lives. What a gracious privilege to be God’s covenant friend.

Genesis 25:12-67

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The Holy War (9)

 

Just a reminder that this series of studies concerns the antithesis. The battle fought through the ages between the seed of the woman (Eve), the church, God’s people, and the seed of the serpent (the reprobate wicked), God’s enemies. In the Old Testament these wars were fought with physical (and spiritual) weapons whereas in the New Testament age, they are fought with spiritual weapons alone.

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Gideon

Sung Psalm 83:5-15

Read Judges 6:1-24

The enemies that this judge will confront are Midian, Amalek and the children of the east (likely nomads). Large numbers are involved─135,000 men and myriads of livestock which were devastating the countryside (6:5-6, 8:10). The enemies had been ravaging the land in fulfillment of God’s curse in Deut. 28 esp. v33.

Gideon was a humble, youngest son in an inauspicious tribe. His call is the longest of all the judges, he is tested as he is commanded to destroy his father’s idols, and he is given signs to encourage him notably a food offering consumed by fire, an angel ascending in the flame, fleeces dry or wet and a dream among the Midianites. He is also given promises (7:9,14).

His army is whittled down from 32,000 to 300 to show that God it is who fights for Israel.

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The enemy kings are all beheaded. Gideon is among the heroes of faith in Hebrews (11:32).

 

Predestination

More About Predestination

Rev. Martyn McGeown

Whether we agree with predestination or not, it is the Bible’s teaching. Whether we react in a positive or negative way emotionally to this teaching, it is the truth of God’s Word. When God’s Word offends our sensibilities—and it often will because we are sinners—we must learn to submit to its teaching.

But before we react emotionally, we need to make sure that we understand the teaching. Often, we react emotionally to a misunderstanding.

First, predestination means God’s determination beforehand (pre) of the eternal destiny (destination) of His rational and moral creatures. Since God is God, He has the right to do this. Paul reminds us of our place before God: “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay? (Romans 9:20-21). How absurd it would be for a creature to complain to the Creator!

Second, God’s predestinating choice is unconditional. We know what a conditional choice means—we make conditional choices every day. Why do you choose one breakfast cereal over another, or why do you choose eggs or toast (or whatever) for breakfast? Because of some quality in the food—that choice is conditional. An unconditional choice is one where the choice is not determined by any quality in the thing chosen. It is almost impossible for a human being to make such an unconditional choice. Things always influence us. God chooses His people unconditionally—He finds no attractive quality in them; they are not better, greater or nicer than anyone else. God does not even choose them because He foresees that there will be some good quality in them. God explains this to Moses: “The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you [for such and such a reason], but because the LORD loved you” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). The verdict—God loved His people simply because He loved them! There is no reason in us!

Third, God’s choice of His people is eternal and therefore unchangeable. God did not wait and see how history and His people would turn out before He made His choice. It was before the foundation of the world, or, as Paul writes, “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that purpose of God according to election might stand” (Romans 9:11).

That is humbling—salvation is not our choice; it is the Lord’s.

But where better place for salvation to be than in the wise hands of the almighty, always good God!

BLOGSITE

http://www.limerickreformed.com/blog/

I should add that notwithstanding the decree of predestination every human being because of their sin in Adam AND their own rebellion against the most high God deserves eternal hell, and will rightly suffer that judgment unless by God’s grace they believe in Christ—JK