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”).

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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).

 

5 Proven Weapons in the Fight for Holiness (actually one but with five strokes!)

 

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When Paul says to put to death the deeds of the body “by the Spirit” (Romans 8:13), I take him to mean that we should use the one weapon in the Spirit’s armor that is used to kill. Namely, the sword. Which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

So when the body is about to be led into a sinful action by some fear or craving, we are to take the sword of the Spirit and kill that fear and that craving. In my experience that means mainly severing the root of sin’s promise by the power of a superior promise.

So, for example, when I begin to crave some illicit sexual pleasure, the sword-swing that has often severed the root of this promised pleasure is: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). I recall the pleasures I have tasted of seeing God more clearly from an undefiled conscience; and I recall the brevity and superficiality and oppressive aftertaste of sin’s pleasures, and with that, God has killed the conquering power of sin.

It is a beautiful thing to be the instrument of God’s word-wielding power to kill sin.

Having promises at hand that suit the temptation of the hour is one key to successful warfare against sin. But there are times when we don’t have a perfectly suited word from God in our minds. And there is no time to look through the Bible for a tailor-made promise.

So we all need to have a small arsenal of general promises ready to use whenever fear or craving threaten to lead us astray.

Here are a few of my most proven weapons:

1. “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10)

I have slain more dragons in my soul with that sword than any other I think. It is a precious weapon to me.

2. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

How many times I have been persuaded in the hour of trial by this verse that the reward of disobedience could never be greater than “all things.”

3. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me . . . And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18).

How many times have I strengthened my sagging spirit with the assurance that the Lord of heaven and earth is just as much with me today as he was with the disciples on earth!

4. “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me” (Psalms 50:15).

What makes this weapon so compelling is that God’s helping me is made the occasion of my glorifying him. Amazing arrangement. I get the help, he gets the glory!

5. “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 4:19).

The context is financial and material. But the principle is total. What we really need (not just want) will be granted. And what is need? Need is what we must have to do God’s will. What we must have to magnify our Savior. That is what we will be given as we trust him.

Be constantly adding to your arsenal of promises. But never lose sight of the chosen few that God has blessed in your life. Do both. Be ever-ready with the old. And every morning look for a new one to take with you through the day.

Check out also I Cor.10:13-JK

Pastor John

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Our identity in Christ

 

Summary of message given by Rev. Ronald VanOverloop at CPRC Ballymena Wednesday June 18th 2017

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Text Acts 27:23.

Paul standing on the shifting deck of an otherwise doomed merchant sailing vessel with 276 people on board tells them God “whose I am, and whom I serve” told him that all on board would be saved from the wreck.

Identity is NOT:

  • What I do
  • What others think of me

Our identity (as Christians) is:

  • What God thinks of me
  • What God has done for me

The fall of man, and our fall in him has made us as depraved creatures think horizontally all the time, that is about ourselves and other people. Fear of man predominates and we are constantly comparing ourselves with others and sometimes thinking we don’t need others. All these ideas are sinful thoughts and attitudes.

We need to think vertically: We have two legs that we stand on. First leg…we are vile dust by nature (the old man of sin), second leg we are a new man (Christ in me by his Spirit) who nevertheless is dominant (our kicking foot!)

God sees us IN CHRIST as belonging to him, beloved everlastingly, perfectly righteous (holy), ordained to good works.

Praise his name!

Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians

 

Rev. Ron VanOverloop (Grace Church, Michigan)

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”

Sung Psalm 1

Readings Ephesians 1:16-19 and 3:14-20 (see also his prayers in Philippians and Colossians)

Generally we pray for folk who are ill or going through trials of some kind and this is right, but Paul after listing all the blessings these saints have, and thanking God for them, focusses his prayer on spiritual blessings namely the knowledge of God, his power and love, the hope of his calling and his inheritance. To know him is to love him and I believe he prays that the mutual indwelling of the covenant Christ in his people is more and more their experience (Gal.2:20, II Cor. 6:16, Col.1:27, John 14:20).

We discussed how a person knows they are predestined/elect and the Canons of Dort are wonderfully clear mentioning “infallible proofs”: (Head 1 Article 12). Notice that our election, our indwelling sinfulness (Head 5 Article 2) and our perseverance (Head 5 Article 12) are all reasons for humility and when we are humble Christ dwells in us!

The tabernacle (also temple)-Old Testament picture of God dwelling with his people. We are now the temple of God!

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