The Christian in Complete Armour (16)

 

Gurnall here expounds on a principle in life: because it is so hard a work, to recover the activity once lost, and to revive a duty in disuse. ‘I have put off my coat,’ saith the spouse, Song 5:3. She had given way to a lazy distemper, was laid upon her bed of sloth, and how hard is it to raise her! Her Beloved is at the door, beseeching her by all the names of love that she would open to him but she had given way to her sloth, and now she knows not how to shake it off; she should have been glad to have her Beloved’s company, if himself would have opened the door; and he desired as much hers, if she would rise to let him in but they part. The longer a soul hath neglected a duty, the more ado there is to get it taken up;  It requires more time and pains for him to tune his instrument, than for another to play the lesson. Likewise fitness lost is harder to regain and excess weight gained by indulgence over many years much harder to get rid of! Hence the need to keep our graces in exercise and without a break use the means of grace-JK

By the way here are the so-called SEVEN DEADLY SINS:

Seven Deadly Sins (all sin is deadly!)

 

Liberty

Sin destroys man’s liberty, for it prevents him prosecuting his chief end, which is to glorify God; as it equally hinders him from attaining his highest good, which is to be holy and happy.

Licence is not liberty, for true liberty is not the opportunity to do what we want, but the power to do what we ought. Freedom of heart lies in a course of obedience to God, for their is no satisfaction to the heart until it finds its satisfaction in the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2). The difference between the license of the natural man and the liberty of the spiritual man is that of being a bond-slave to sin and “the Lord’s freeman.” (I Cor.7:22), and that is determined by the chains of darkness being displaced by the cords of liberty, the fetters of sin by the yoke of Christ. And Christ’s yoke is “easy” (Matt.11:30), for it is lined with love. God’s commandments “are not grievous” (I John 5:3), for they are dictated by infinite wisdom and are designed for our highest good. Loving, pleasing, enjoying, praising God is the only real freedom and blessedness. God’s precepts must be sought-desired and attended to-if we are to “walk at liberty”.

Arthur Pink

Studies in the Scriptures  December 1946

Thoughts on turning 67 years of age.

 

Parkrun/walk Sept.14th 2019 and cross country training group.

The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”Isaiah 40:6-8

My thoughts on reaching the age of 67 centre on an increasing awareness of physical frailty. My worn and weak right knee won’t allow running on roads only soft cross country yet I am glad I can do that however slowly. My non-impact indoor rowing is still of a high standard but I have to watch and not cause  repetitive strains. Recently I have greatly enjoyed two new hobbies both of which are outdoor-sailing and fishing and we have both sea and fresh water nearby. Spinning for brown trout in a local reservoir has especially given me a big kick!

 

Covenant Consecration (22)

Consecration of Levites (last meeting)

Final write up

Sung Psalm 134

Reading Isaiah 66:15-24

Note that verse 21 endorses God’s irresistible grace in calling us Gentiles to be the New Testament equivalent of Old Testament Levites. Levites and priests saved in the New Testament included Barnabas (Acts 6:7, 4:36) among others. The most infamous was the Levite who passed by the wounded man on the Jericho road (Luke 10:32). Verse 22 indicates the permanence of this calling showing that it does not refer to some millennium but rather to the New Testament age and into the new heavens and earth.

There are three “worlds” or ages described in Scripture:

  1. The pre-diluvian
  2. The post-diluvian
  3. The new heavens and earth

The final verses in this chapter (vv. 23,24) describe the eternal state (II Peter 3:13, Is.65:17, Matthew 25:41, Mark 9:44,45).  Is.65:20 is describing eternal life in the re-creation which takes place after Christ returns and we see Romans 9:21 and Rev.21:1-3 played out, not in the annihilation of the cosmos but it’s recreation and redemption just as in our own lives. All believers are the seed spoken of, whether Jew or Gentile-they are the seed of Christ (Is.53:12) and Abraham (Gal.3:28,29)-the true Jews or Israel. Jer. 33:17-21 is fulfilled in Christ and the church.

Levi means “joined” (Gen.29:34, Num.18:2,4)-the priests and Levites were joined, Jew and Gentile are now joined and all believing are joined to Christ.

These verse do not refer to keeping the ceremonial law which when done even formally, but without faith, were to God an abomination (Is.1:13) but rather to continual worship in glory where we shall confirm God’s righteous judgment of all men which includes the eternal awful destruction of the wicked in bodies fitted to eternal punishment.

Hope

HOPE


HOPE OUR ANCHOR
A short but fairly comprehensive word study:

⦁ The godless majority of people in this world are without hope (Eph.2:12, I Thess.4:13) and even believers for a time may feel hopeless (Job 7:6, 19:10) but Job saw in the illustration of a tree cut down, that for him “hope springs eternal!” (Job 14:7). He saw that God purposely destroys the false hopes of the godless (Job 14:19, 27:8, 31:24-28). Job also knew about the three great spiritual graces, faith, hope and love (I Cor.13:13) and that hope ceases to exist after death (Job 17:15). Why? Because hope means the certain expectation of future good at the hands of God and it only pertains to this life. Its source is God himself (Rom.15:13, II Thess.2:16) and it is ours as we believe his word (Psalm 119:81, 114, 130:5). Specifically hope concerns our resurrection from the dead and our glorification in the new heavens and earth (Psalm 16:9, Prov.14:32, Acts 24:15, I Cor.15:19, Col.1:5,27, Titus 1:2) it, like faith, believes in something unseen (Rom.8:24,25). This hope come to fruition at the return of Christ (Titus 2:13). The basis for this hope is our regeneration or the dwelling of Christ in us and us in him (I Tim.1:1, I Peter 1:3). Since he has gone before us, we are bound to follow (Heb. 6:18-20).
⦁ Abraham, the archetypical Old Testament saint and father of us all, exhibited hope in God’s covenant promise (Rom.4:18).
⦁ King David speaks much of his hope and often prophetically speaks for Christ his Lord (Psalm 16:9, Acts 2:26, Psalms 39:7, 22:9, 71:5, 119:116, 146:5), his was  a hope he even had as an infant showing how even the very young can be regenerate. He exhorts us and Israel to have hope (Psalms 42:5,11, 43:5, 130:7. 131:3).
⦁ Jeremiah also confessed his hope (Jer.17:7,17) and that of the people of Israel (Jer.14:8, 17:13) as did Joel (Joel 3:16) and even Paul (Acts 28:20).
⦁ Paul probably writes more about it than anyone and he rejoiced in it (Rom.5:2, 8:24, 12:12, 15:4, Eph.1:18, 4:4) and also spoke of his hope in fellow believers (II Cor.1:7, I Thess.2:19).
⦁ Our hope is a witness (I Peter 3:15) and a great motivation to lead a holy life (I John 3:3), it is something we must, and will, by God’s grace, maintain to the end of our lives (I Peter 1:13). Hope is a vital helmet of defence against Satan’s temptations to fear and have  foreboding about our future (I Thess.5:8). As with all of our salvation, our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Advice for Christians on the Internet

I found this helpful:

Truth Cloud whatsoever things are true

7 Scriptural Checks for Christians on Social Media

Pearls before swine.

That’s what comes to mind at times (all the time), when I survey my corner of the social media circus. Lions and Tigers and Christians, oh my!

Being misrepresented by others feels icky. I’m sure you’ve experienced it. It happens to everyone & try as we might, we can’t control it. But one thing that we CAN control, is how we represent OURSELVES.

And so the siren call of social media beckons; your red carpet of self representation unfurled before you in irresistible splendor. The sky’s the limit & you’re ready to “soar to high heights;” borne onward & upward by the social media machine. Successful self expression is just a click away. Or is it?

You probably have at least one online social interaction in mind at this point.

Turns out, without [SELF CONTROL], self expression can quickly turn into a crash & burn situation.

When our online alter ego takes over, common sense switches to auto pilot and the rule book gets tossed out the window without a parachute. Now would be a good time to shout mayday, but we’re blissfully enjoying the ride, buzzing on an endorphin high from those five likes and one share from Mom (Thanks, Mom). All the while, the world zips by in social feed form, as we spew & sputter out status updates in a blaze of pop culture- colored glory. “The captain always goes down with the ship” seems to exquisitely apply.

Social blunders aside, we think the wreckage is worth salvaging. With our aim at winning the world, social media provides a powerful vehicle to connect us to that world. The social fields are “white toward harvest,” if only we can fine tune our approach. If you share our sentiment, Check out these 7 scriptural checks for Christians on social media:

  1. HELLO MY NAME IS [X] & I APPROVE THIS POST: Does what I’m sharing reflect the Christ-like life I’m seeking to lead?

Not all posts are created equal. And as a Christian, not all content is worth sharing. What you post/like/share/follow, you’re endorsing. Who have you aligned yourself with online and does that put you OUT of alignment with scripture?

Filter your posts AND shares through this scriptural principle found in Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things of A GOOD REPORT; if there be any virtue, and there be any praise, think [POST] on these things.

Consider filtering those you follow through this criteria as well.

If it’s not good or lovely or pure don’t post it. If you’re not sure if its true, don’t share it. (FACT CHECKING IS A REAL THING.) If the content is vulgar or explicit, don’t engage and for heaven’s sake don’t share it on our feeds and force us to engage with it.

  1. INSPIRATION OVERBOARD: Is what I’m sharing in alignment with God’s word?

Stay humble. Be true to your self and your Lord.

The internet is a wellspring of inspiration, ranging from empowering, to humorous, to just plain BAD advice. It’s important to stay rooted in the Word. Choose to be inspired by things that align with scripture & remember not every preacher or quote creator is motivated by the same Spirit you are. Don’t cherry pick spiritual advice from random internet memes. God will more likely impart spiritual guidance and direction through your leaders and time of personal devotion than when you’re trolling memes on Facebook (So true-JK)

When in doubt, ask your pastor and remember this sciptural principle from Ephesians 4:14

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning crafiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

  1. OVERSHARING OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS: Am I sharing too much personal information?

The internet drives “celebrity” culture. As a result, some social feeds resemble a personally crafted autobiographical tabloid. Even your post-sharing Momma wishes you’d spare us all some of those details.

When setting your personal guidelines for appropriate amount and nature of your content, first counsel with your leadership, then consider these scriptural principles:

Ecclesiastes 10:14 says a fool’s mouth is full of words & 10:12 says, “The lips of a fool will swallow up himself.” Proverbs 21:23 says “whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue kept his soul from troubles.”

Ultimately the decision of what to make public or keep private should be guided by wisdom. The book of Proverbs is a great place to start if you want more practical wisdom for Christian living. Sharing testimonies and life experiences (that glorify God) is a great use of your social platform! Proceed with wisdom and maximize the positive impact of your platform.

  1. THE ELUSIVE SEARCH FOR SELF WORTH: Does my time on social media cause me to be discontent with who I am and what I have?

Life was simpler when all you had to worry about was keeping up with the Jones’. Now your life, ministry, family, wardrobe, and even your coffee mug is cast in comparison against the entire world.

One teen interviewed on the subject described it like this. He said that likes and follows were real-time, MEASUREABLE statistics of how your life measures up to your peers. Or more accurately, doesn’t measure up. It’s no wonder culture hangs desperately on every like and comment as they arbitrarily raise our lower our imaginary social value and carefully calculated self worth.

If you are logged in to ANY platform the temptation of comparison is ever present, and if we’re not vigilant, a disastrously dangerous device in the enemy’s arsenal. Paul sets a precedent with this principle to combat a mindset of comparison:

Hewbrews 13:5 says, “Let Your conversation [not just speech, but all social interactions] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee or forsake thee.”

According to Romans 3:23 every human on the planet falls short of the only true standard of perfection, God. Don’t buy the lies. No matter how flawless their feed, they are fallible and fragile and fighting to feel worthy just like you.

It’s a fallacy to think you can ever be “enough” on Your own. God has called you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Fitly framed with the body of believers. It’s time to kill comparison and measuring self-worth by anything on the net, particularly FB likes. Your worth is solely based on your sovereign election and Christ’s death for you. Get connected to the body of Christ.

  1. FOR THE GRAM OR FOR HIS GLORY: Is what I’m posting promoting me or glorifying God?

The desire to go viral is intoxicating & will pollute any acts of devotion we don’t guard.

Ephesians 6:6-8 says our actions should not be “with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.”

PERSONAL prayer, praise, ministry, devotion & sacrifice was never meant to be publicly celebrated; but simply lived out. If you didn’t post about it did it even happen? YES! It’s the unposted and unpublished acts of devotion that God desires. The ones that are just for Him. A few likes are a cheap substitute for God’s approval and anointing.

Do your public professions of faith match your private acts devotion? When the live feed ends are you still living what you preach? Are you still witnessing when your phone is dead and your paparazzi peers have the day off? Motivation matters.

We desperately need discernment when it comes to distinguishing between posting to GET praise & posting to GIVE the praise to God.

Resist the urge to market your ministry. Online platforms are easy doors for us to open for ourselves. We can waste a lot of energy fine-tuning ourselves for public platforms, and neglect the private devotion necessary for God to trust us with doors he’s prepared for us.

“Before posting ask yourself: am I building the kingdom or my ministry? I believe if we take care of His kingdom, He will take care of our ministry.”

Above all, GET WISDOM. And while you’re at it, get you a pastor/spouse/friend that loves you enough to call you out when you cross the Gram/Glory line. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the approval of “followers” can be fatally deceitful.

  1. Trending Talk is Cheap…Is what I’m posting culture centered or Christ centered?

Romans 12:22 says “be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Don’t cave to the pressure to post pop-culture content. It’s ok to break the mold. It’s still right to exercise holiness and separation in our online habits. Who cares what the world is doing? The church is called to create it’s own transformed, counter-culture through Christ. If you MUST jump on a bandwagon, let it be the church’s. That one is headed somewhere worth while.

  1. The Pitfall of Political Posts & Endless Debates: Is what I’m posting best said from this platform?

1 Peter 3:15 Tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Beating people down in debates is not conversation that becomes the gospel of Christ. The people you’re beating down are the very ones God called us to seek out with hope and love. Approach people in such a way that they ask YOU what you’re all about. Then answer them with empathy and respect.

“Posting so much political opinion that you almost ruin your witness. I’ve felt strongly about certain issues pushed by liberals, but I have to remember that I am living in a very multicultural town. Politics run deep in the South, and I can destroy influence with people I’ve been trying to win for months. I’m not saying to constantly be silent, but I would rather get them through the doors of the church and let them be in an environment of the power of the Holy Ghost where they hear our heartbeat for God before certain subjects get too intense. All of these are guided by our pastor, who uses much wisdom in these areas. There’s a time to speak, and a time to refrain”

It’s not our job to change people’s minds. It’s our job to GO OUT & compel them to COME into His house. Get them to church and allow God to transform their heart & their mind through the power of the Holy Ghost. Preaching, not politics, is still God’s preferred message to turn the hearts of man.

We can’t remain silent on the moral and social issues of our day, to be sure. But if the Sword of the Spirit had two edges, the sword of political opinion almost certainly has only one. One brings a wound unto life. The other a wound unto death. Choose your weapon wisely.

We don’t put on armor to fight people [2 Corinthians 4:12], but to push back the powers of darkness FOR PEOPLE. That’s an image of the church, putting on the armor of light and shining the truth IN LOVE by means of a radically transformed life. This is true social reform. The stuff politicians can only dream of.

Adapted from Truth Cloud

My church family home.

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church: A Teaching Church

In II Peter 3:18, we are commanded to “grow in grace,” which is through “the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Are you growing in the knowledge of the Son of God by faith? Do you desire this growth? Hosea 4:6 warns, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.”

 

The Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (CPRC) in Ballymena wants you to grow in your faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ through His Word, so we are a teaching church. If you want to know the rich, deep, consistent, powerful message of the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures centred on Jesus Christ and Him crucified, come to the CPRC!

 

The Lord’s day preaching (11 AM & 6 PM) explains passages and doctrines of the Bible. Watch free and live (www.cprc.co.uk/live-streaming).

 

Our Wednesday night classes on the Belgic Confession (1561), written by a man who was later martyred for his witness for the truth, systematically explain the faith of the Reformation—what it is and how it is taught in God’s Word. These classes (Wednesdays at 7:45 PM) begin on 11 September on the subject of the Lord’s Supper. All 269 classes so far can be listened to free (www.cprc.co.uk/belgic-confession-class).

 

On Tuesday mornings, we are treating neglected Scriptures on the Mosaic law, showing their development in Israel’s history, Psalms and prophetical writings and their fulfilment in Jesus Christ and His New Testament church.

 

Monday night is catechism night with special classes, starting on 9 September, taught to the children by our pastor, Rev. Angus Stewart, from age-appropriate booklets, covering Old Testament and New Testament history, the Heidelberg Catechism and Essentials of Reformed Doctrine.

 

Besides these meetings, Covenant PRC holds Men’s Bible Studies and Ladies’ Bible Studies, as well as special lectures, including an annual Reformation Day lecture. This year our subject is “William Tyndale: English Bible Translator” (Friday, 25 October).

 

The CPRC’s teaching ministry involves about 150 quality books (Bible commentaries, devotionals, theological works, biographies, practical books, etc.). We sell box sets of CDs and DVDs—sermons, church historical lectures, doctrine classes, conference speeches, etc. We also stock about 130 free pamphlets. Just contact us and we will gladly post the relevant titles to you!

 

The CPRC sends out by mail or e-mail a monthly paper, the Covenant Reformed News, to many people on every continent and in scores of countries. Let us know and we will send it to you free.

 

Information about all of these things is available on http://www.cprc.co.uk, probably the largest church website in N. Ireland.

 

The CPRC’s teaching ministry by means of audio and video, books and pamphlets, CDs and DVDs, etc., in English is expanding into other languages too. We have some 2,500 articles and videos in about 130 languages, especially Afrikaans, Burmese, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Do you speak any of these (www.cprc.co.uk/languages)?

 

If we love someone, we desire to know as much as we can about that person. Should not that be especially true of our Lord and Saviour? If you want to understand the Bible, and desire to learn and grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, join us at the CPRC, for “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

Welcome to the Website of Covenant Protestant Reformed Church!

Covenant Consecration (20)

Consecration of Levites

Sung Psalm 116:1-8

Reading Isaiah 66:15-24

“I will take of them (the Gentiles) for priests and Levites because all this portion of Scripture is about the calling of the Gentiles. This prophecy and its realization sets aside the ceremonial law of Moses and is on a trajectory that ends with all of us Gentiles being priests and Levites and being able to enter the temple (New Jerusalem of the church), all seeing the glory of God (v.19), all brethren, and a clean meal offering (v.20). See also Acts 11 (Peter), Acts 15 (James), Eph. 2:11-21, Heb.7:12.

Comparison of the Old Testament Levites with us reveals that both are holy, necessarily cleansed and both serve (Num. 8:15) and with the priests both intercede, offer sacrifices etc. See Ex.19:6, Isaiah 61:6, 2:1-4. Note the called Gentile nations flow uphill! (irresistible grace). Also see Zech.8:23.

The unity of Scripture revelation is truly remarkable.

Acts 13 (part one)

Acts 13:1-12

The commissioning of Paul and Barnabas

The Antioch church was catholic with leaders from Cyprus (Barnabas), Libya (Lucius), Israel (Manaen) and Asia Minor (Paul). We believe Simon was a black man hence probably from sub-Saharan Africa and may have been the Simon who carried Christ’s cross. Manaen was a courtier brought up with Herod Antipas (the one who killed John) and the fact he was converted shows God’s electing grace.

Prophets are directly divinely inspired and able to say “thus says the Lord” with some of their prophecies relating to future events. There are no prophets in that sense today. Pastor-teachers take the written scriptures (written by divinely inspired prophets) and expound them.

Ministry to the Lord includes all of our worship-praise, thanks, preaching (prophecy), giving and fasting. Fasting is refraining from food and/or drink so as to concentrate on prayer, make an important decision or in a special time of need. It is associated with spiritual power and receptivity (Matthew 17:21). We presume one of the prophets or all collectively came the decision to send Paul and Barnabas. Laying hands on them was their public ordination to ministry and the sign that the church identified with them and would support them.

They first went to Cyprus because that was Barnabas’ home with family and contacts and John Mark would have been a helper perhaps carrying things and cooking. They initially always went to synagogues of the Jews because these people would have background knowledge of the Scriptures, some would be prepared to recognize Messiah and Christ’s timetable and Paul’s priority was Jews first (Rom.1:16) then Gentiles. We do not know if a church was founded in Salamis or Paphos.

Barjesus (son of Joshua) or Elymas (learned) was a sorcerer (wizard/magician) and a Jew who flagrantly denied the Old Testament prohibition of this evilly inspired means of controlling and influencing others. It was a capital offence (Deut.18:10-11, Ex.22:18). Sergius Paulus was Roman governor of the island and a wise man willing to hear the gospel. Paul used severe language because Elymas was doing Satan’s work seeking to prevent Sergius Paulus hearing and believing but his purposes backfired. Paul’s spiritual fulness gave him boldness and power (Acts 6:10,7:52, Prov.28:1, Luke 21:15) although as an apostle he had supernatural power too to inflict temporal blindness on the sorcerer. His spiritual blindness was topped appropriately by physical blindness perhaps to give him an opportunity to repent. The doctrine taught Sergius Paulus was what led to his conversion but the miracle authenticated the message.

We believe Luke calls Saul (Hebrew name) “Paul” (Greek name) from here on, because his main thrust was going to be to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).

Next Study (DV) Saturday September 21st on Acts 13:13-52