Saturday, December 19, 2015

not born like a king

"These two details--the necessity of a manger and the lack of room with normal society-- are both significant and unexpected.  Why would God's own Son, the expected Davidic Messiah, be born in such a way?  This scandalous set of circumstances points forward to Jesus's future rejection by his own people and the shame and embarrassment of death on a cross.  The unexpected setting of Jesus's birth also anticipates the unexpected way in which Jesus would go about putting things right in God's creation.  His life and death did not match people's expectations.  He wasn't born like a king; he didn't live like a king; and he certainly didn't die like a king.  He was nonetheless God's promised and long-awaited King."  

--From The First Days of Jesus, by Andreas Kostenberger and Alexander Stewart (Crossway, 2015).

Monday, December 7, 2015

child dedication

Our baby (or child) dedication service is one way parents can a) give public thanks to the Lord for the young life entrusted to them; b) request prayer for their child and for them in their roles as parents; and c) to publicly dedicate (set apart) their child and themselves as belonging to the Lord for his service and glory. Normally, we read something like the following at that time...

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD…" (Psalm 127:3)  God has gifted our families -- and this church -- with children.  They are entrusted to us that we might lead them to the knowledge of God through the Lord Jesus. 
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-8 ESV).  
The Apostle Paul gives a special word to the fathers, when he wrote, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."  (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)

Our Lord Jesus did not turn away parents who brought their children to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray for them:
“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”  (Mark 10:13-16)
Consistent with this teaching, we welcome parents who bring their children for dedication and prayer. This dedication is both of the children to the Lord but also of the parents to their role as Christian fathers and mothers.  

So to these parents we ask, “Recognizing the dignity and responsibility of parenthood and of your dependence upon God's grace, do you now present your children in dedication to the Lord, and do you commit yourselves to raise your children in love toward God and in the knowledge of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord?”  

This is concluded with a prayer of dedication and blessing upon the children and their families.  One service recently had seven babies being dedicated (below).   

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

praying the Lord's prayer

The prayer below is a paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6), based upon the Westminster Shorter Catechism as adapted by Matthew Henry.  Language is modernized. 

Our Father in heaven, we come to you as children to a Father able and ready to help us.  

We implore you, let your name be sanctified; enable us and others to glorify you in all things by which you have made yourself known, and dispose of all things to your own glory.  

Let your kingdom come; let Satan’s kingdom be destroyed, and let the kingdom of your grace be advanced; let us and others be brought into it, and kept in it, and let the kingdom of your glory be hastened.  

Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven; make us by your grace able and willing to know, obey, and submit to your will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.  

Give us this day our daily bread; of your free gift let us receive a adequate portion of the good things of this life, and let us enjoy your blessing with them.  

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We pray that for Christ’s sake you would freely pardon all our sins, and that by your grace you would enable us from the heart to forgive others.  

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Either keep us, O Lord, from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted. 

For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Lord, we take our encouragement in prayer from yourself only and desire in our prayers to praise you, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to you: And in testimony of our desires and assurance to be heard through Jesus Christ, we say Amen.

Visit Matthew Henry's Method for Prayer here

pride humbled

Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.  

"At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"  At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

(Daniel 4:33-37 ESV)

Here's a mighty man who thinks
He is ruler of a vast empire.
Humbled, and now a mad man
Like an animal senseless before all.
A hard lesson learned: God only is God;
He topples empires and feeds the sparrows.
Lost himself, finds himself again,
The madman gets to be king again.
I too am a beast who by grace is 
Brought to look heavenward, to the One
Who cares for the lowly.
Lost, without sound mind, but found, 
And invited to sit upon a throne 
With the King himself.