The Relentless Love of God

In Hosea we find a tragic love story that pictures the relationship between Israel and God. Hosea’s wife, Gomer, betrays him, abuses his trusts, takes advantage of him and no doubt wounds him deeply.

Yet, when Gomer finds herself sold off as a slave and abandoned by her lovers, it is Hosea that comes to her rescue! He pays her purchase price as a slave, but receives her as his wife. Hosea redeemed Gomer.

Their relationship serves as a powerful example of God’s love for Israel, but Israel’s idolatry and betrayal. There is also a demonstration of God’s love for His fallen creation.

In the writings of the prophet Hosea we see the relentless love of God as He pursues His fallen creation as a means of bringing glory to His name!

As I thought on these truths yesterday this hymn caught my eye in our hymnbook. It is by Charles Wesley and beautifully describes God’s “ceaseless, unexhausted love…”

Thy ceaseless, unexhausted love,
Unmerited and free,
Delights our evil to remove,
And help our misery.

Thou waitest to be gracious still;
Thou dost with sinners bear,
That, saved, we may Thy goodness feel,
And all Thy grace declare.

Thy goodness and Thy truth to me
To every soul, abound,
A vast, unfathomable sea,
Where all our thoughts are drowned.

Its streams the whole creation reach,
So plenteous is the store,
Enough for all, enough for each,
Enough for evermore.

Faithful, O Lord, Thy mercies are!
A rock that cannot move;
A thousand promises declare
Thy constancy of love.

Throughout the universe it reigns,
Unalterably sure;
And while the truth of God remains,
The goodness must endure.

“True Encouragement”

In Sidlow Baxter’s daily devotional, “Awake My Heart”, he shares this thought on David’s plight and his response in 1 Samuel 30:

“Afflictions and trials are sometimes allowed to accumulate without intermission, until it seems as though one more ounce of pressure, and our spirit will snap. Then, just at what seems to be the last minute, providential intervention transforms the whole picture; and oh, what lessons in trust we learn! Human help is vain. Heart and flesh fail. The one resort is the flight of the lonely heart to God.”

He Saved in the Power of the Fact He Would Not Save Himself

G. Campbell Morgan commenting on Mark 15:31

“Though they did not understand it-even the disciples themselves did not understand, but presently the light came, and ever and anon these men who wrote the records reveal in some passing phrase their past ignorance and their new illumination – the truth is this, that all those whom He (Jesus) had already saved, He had saved in the power of the fact that He could not, in that final way, save Himself.

“He had opened blind eyes, He had healed palsied limbs, He had driven fever away, He had restored physical conditions; but He always did these things upon the basis of His passion and His atonement.

“The writers came to know it, I repeat, and one memorable passage comes to mind, in which Matthew tells the secret of a wonderful eventide by the side of the sea. They brought unto Him from all the countryside the sick fold, and He healed them all.

“If Matthew had written his record that night, he would have written with wonder and amazement; but later on the publican saw things as he had never seen them; and in the light of the resurrection, when he wrote his record afterwards, this is what he said: He healed them all, ‘that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases.’

Behind all His physical healing, was the spiritual passion of the Lord. I reverently declare that the Man of Nazareth would never have healed a sick lad or lass, man or woman, but in the power of that hour, when they mocked Him and scorned Him.”

Israel and Hamas

In light of recent events in Israel I wanted to share some valuable resources. They come from the website www.standwithus.com.

I would not claim Israel to be entirely innocent in all of their dealings, however, they are misrepresented in the western media and sadly many Christians do not know the whole truth.

I encourage you to study these resources and let the facts speak for themselves. A good starting point is this booklet: “25 short answers

You can go here for many more resources to get you started: http://www.standwithus.com/resources/

“Striken, Smitten, and Afflicted”

- by Thomas Kelly

1. Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
‘Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
‘Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
‘Tis the true and faithful Word.

2. Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

3. Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

4. Here we have a firm foundation;
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ, the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built

Two that Were “Of God”

Have you ever wondered why Matthew begins with the genealogy of Christ but Luke includes it after the baptism of Christ?

Matthew writes to a Jewish audience with a key goal of convincing his readers of the rightful claim of Jesus Christ to the throne of Israel. He also writes, of course, to demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Matthew traces the line of Christ, then, back to Abraham and in so doing proves Jesus as the Messiah for the world and also the King of Israel.

Luke writes to a Greek audience with the intent of proving Jesus Christ is the perfect Man and with the same goal as Matthew of demonstrating that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world. So he traces the line of Christ all the way back to Adam. In so doing he reveals that Jesus is the rightful king of Israel, and He is the last Adam, the Perfect Man.

What really struck me, however in reading Luke 3 is Luke’s arrangement of the baptism of Christ and the genealogy of Christ.

In verses 21-22 we have the baptism of Christ by John. At that event we see the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from Heaven and the Father’s voice making a loving declaration, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”

In verse 23 Luke records that people presumed Jesus was the son of Joseph, but as the voice from Heaven revealed, He was truly the Son of God, Jesus was God and was of God in His incarnation.

Then follows one of those genealogies we sometimes struggle with. Joseph was the son of Heli, Heli was the son of Matthat, Matthat was the son of Levi and so on for generations, all the way back to Adam. But when we reach Adam we find a change in the formula. We do not find Adam having an earthly father, but instead we read that Adam was the son of God. Adam was of God.

And so the genealogy begins with Jesus, who was of God, and ends with Adam, who was of God.

Thanks be to God that although the first Adam, made and beloved of God, failed, the Last Adam, the only begotten and beloved of God, succeeded.

Adam failed the test of righteousness and humanity fell with him, but Jesus Christ purchased redemption for humanity and in Him we are restored.

Ever Word of God is given for a purpose, and every order of revelation is carefully placed for our teaching and edification.

Luke beautifully demonstrates through this genealogy, and order of revelation, that Jesus Christ became one of us in order that He might redeem us!

The Resurrection-The Litmus Test of True Faith

Nearly everyone will celebrate Christmas in some fashion. Most religious people will acknowledge during the Christmas season the birth of a baby named Jesus. Very rarely will you hear of someone arguing the birth of Jesus.

Many will recognise Jesus on the cross. The cross, with Jesus portrayed on it or not, receives recognition in much of the world and certainly it permeates the West. For the most part people accept the death of Jesus.

The vaguely religious have little invested if they simply accept the birth and death of the man Jesus.

Where the religious/superstitious forever part ways with those of true faith occurs at the tomb.

True believers see not just the birth of a baby at Christmas, but the incarnation of God Himself.

True believers see not just the death of a man on the cruel, Roman tool of the cross, but they see the vicarious suffering and death of the Messiah on behalf of His creation.

And at the tomb true believers see not a missing body, or imagine the abducted body of a substitute, but we find the bodily resurrection of Jesus by the action and power of our Triune God.

Celebrate Christmas with me if you will. Acknowledge Jesus Christ on the cross. But if you would be my brother or sister in Christ, if you would journey with me to the presence of God, if you would be a true believer and know the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, then meet me at the empty tomb and worship our risen Saviour.

“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

- 1 Corinthians 15:12-22

Waiting for Revival

Here are some comments on preparing and waiting for revival by Arthur Augustus Reese:

Some short-sighted people imagine that because as yet there has been no great noise amongst us, nothing has been accomplished-but has the farmer done nothing when he has tilled the ground, and sowed the seed? Are all prayers lost that are not at once answered?

Wait till the autumn, and you will see that tilling and sowing are not to be despised. Says the apostle James-“Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits, and hath long patience for it”.

I have no wish to run before God, and so catch the shell, I prefer to walk behind him, and so get the kernel.

Ultimate Preaching Rules

I have been having a digital clear out this spring of nearly two decades of collected material. One file was labelled “Ultimate Preaching Rules”. I did not write them and have no idea where I found them, but they made me smile. I thought some others might enjoy them too:

Ultimate Preaching Rules

  1. According to your congregation, there are bad sermons and short sermons but there are no bad short sermons.
  2. A life saver mint will last 22 minutes exactly if left lying between the cheek and gum during the normal course of talking. This is a helpful hint to time your sermon. Just don’t make the mistake of putting a button in your mouth instead of a life saver before you get up to preach.
  3. It never fails that when an “Awesome Sermon” is preached, members of the congregation cannot remember the scripture citations or what the sermon was about when the service is over.
  4. When you reach a weak point in the sermon, raise the pitch and volume of your voice to compensate.
  5. Have the congregation stand for the last hymn before the message, to assure everyone starts out awake.
  6. Have a good opening. Have a good closing. The middle with take care of itself if you quote enough scripture.
  7. Every good sermon must contain two good parables and a scripture, or two good scriptures and a parable.
  8. The number of faithful tithers in a congregation and the amount in the offering plate is in direct inverse proportion to the number of sermons the pastor delivers on stewardship and tithing.
  9. The likelihood that someone will walk the isle drops by a value of 10 percent for each minute the sermon goes into overtime.
  10. The louder the congregation sings the longer the preacher should preach.
  11. It is a well kept secret among Music Ministers that the offering total goes up 5 percent each time the third verse of a hymn is skipped (so, that’s why they do that).
  12. Contributions to “special” or “dedicated” funds go up and contributions to the “general” fund go down in direct proportion to the pastor’s popularity.
  13. Almost everyone is capable of being a Pharisee from time to time.
  14. The purpose of a great sermon is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The latter is preferable to the former.
  15. No matter how hard you have studied and prayed, some sermons seem to barely get out of your mouth before they drop on the floor in front of the first pew.
  16. Whatever scripture you quote and whatever your sermon outline, remember that your verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  17. If you wear a big shiny watch, when the congregation starts to doze off you can wake them up by catching light from the back window and reflecting it into their eyes (with a little practice). For extra amusement with some additional skill you can get an extra bounce off of bald heads.
  18. When the congregation starts to lose interest and doze off you can awaken them by saying loudly, “And Finally” or “In Conclusion.” This will only work about four times per sermon.
  19. A good sermon should NEVER generalize.
  20. No matter how hard you may try, sometimes a scripture just will not fit in the sermon you wanted to use it in.
  21. Analogies in a sermon sometimes fit like feathers on a snake.
  22. Murphy must have been a preacher, but at least he was an optimist.
  23. When you lose your place in your sermon notes, a well placed prayer can help distract the congregation and give you time to get things back on track.
  24. If you have repeated yourself more than three times in a given sermon it is time to quit.
  25. Have a good opening point. Have a good closing point. Keep the two as close together as possible.
  26. The quality of a sermon can be judged first by the number of people who walk the isle, and second by the number of people who are willing to stand in line for 15 minutes after the service to shake hands with the preacher and tell him what a great sermon he preached.
  27. You can judge the length of your sermon by the length of response from your SPOUSE to the question, “How was my sermon, honey?” Examples: “Fine” means Way too long, “It was okay” Means A bit lengthy, “It was really good this week, I gained a blessing dear!” means Just about right
  28. If you’re going to preach on Sunday morning, do not eat onions on Saturday night.
  29. Take advice from the rooster. One day, a hen expressed the ultimate ambition of her life, which was to lay an egg in the middle of a busy express way. So the rooster took her there. When they got to the edge of the road, and traffic was whizzing by, the rooster gave her this advice: “All right now! Make it quick, and lay it on the line!”
  30. You know your sermon is not connecting when the choir begins their final number and you haven’t reached your last point yet!
  31. Always remember, those nods of agreement from our silvery-haired friends may just be nods!
  32. A good sermon is similar to a good sandwich. It has two ends: the bread and lots of meat in the middle. However, unlike a sandwich, the two ends of a good sermon should be as close together as possible.