The Blessed Trinity – Prayer and Praise

This morning in my home church (Faith PRC) we will hear the gospel contained in the truth of the Trinity, as taught us in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 8, Q&As 24-25. So simply stated, yet so wondrously profound. I cannot comprehend the Tri-unity of my God; but I believe it with all my head and heart because this is how He has revealed Himself to me. My one God and Father is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thinking about my post for this Lord’s Day, I found this prayer/devotion in the book The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, Arthur Bennett (Edited by Arthur Bennett; Banner of Truth, 1975). It is simply titled “The Trinity”, but it too contains profound truths concerning our Triune God.

May it lead us to contemplate with awe our amazing God, and to fall down before Him with deep praise according to the depth of His Being.

Three in One, One in Three, God of my salvation,

Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit,
I adore thee as one Being, one Essence,
one God in three distinct Persons,
for bringing sinners to thy knowledge and to thy kingdom.

O Father, thou hast loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;

O Jesus, thou hast loved me and assumed my nature,
shed thine own blood to wash away my sins,
wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness;

O Holy Spirit, thou hast loved me and entered my heart,
implanted there eternal life, revealed to me the glories of Jesus.

Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise thee,
for love so unmerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous,
so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.

O Father, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast given me to Jesus, to be his sheep, jewel, portion;

O Jesus, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast accepted, espoused, bound me;

O Holy Spirit, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast exhibited Jesus as my salvation,
implanted faith within me, subdued my stubborn heart,
made me one with him for ever.

O Father, thou art enthroned to hear my prayers,

O Jesus, thy hand is outstretched to take my petitions,

O Holy Spirit, thou art willing to help my infirmities,
to show me my need, to supply words, to pray within me,
to strengthen me that I faint not in supplication.

O Triune God, who commandeth the universe,
thou hast commanded me to ask for those
things that concern thy kingdom and my soul.

Let me live and pray as one baptized into the threefold Name.

This is a video of Max Maclean reading this devotional, if you prefer to have this devotional read to you.

Blessing and Cursing – T.D. Alexander

Blessing and Cursing by T. Desmond Alexander | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Oct 2014Last week we began to introduce the October issue of Tabletalk and its theme of “Biblical Dichotomies”. Today we can continue by considering the next feature article, “Blessing and Cursing”, by Dr.T.D. Alexander (Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Union Theological College in Belfast, N.Ireland).

Alexander explains well these two dichotomies found throughout the Scriptures, tying it especially to Jesus Christ, in Whom alone fallen sinners are blessed.

I leave you with his starting point and encourage you to follow through and read the rest at the Ligonier link above.

 Although it is rarely noted, the concept of blessing lies at the very heart of the gospel. The Apostle Paul highlights this in his letter to the Christian believers in Galatia. In vigorously defending the inclusion of Gentiles within the people of God, he writes, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed’ ” (Gal. 3:8). As Paul goes on to emphasize, the blessing given to Abraham comes to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ (v. 14).

Paul’s observations recall how the concepts of blessing and cursing are highly significant within the book of Genesis. At creation, God blesses humanity when He instructs them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28). Unfortunately, Adam and Eve’s subsequent disobedience of God brings them under His condemnation. Blessing gives way to cursing, as God pronounces the punishments that will blight the lives of Adam and Eve and their descendants (3:16-19). God’s curses upon humanity bring hardship for both man and woman, affecting the whole of creation.

Against this background, God summons Abraham to initiate a process by which blessing may be restored to people everywhere.

Prayer is “lovers’ talk” – H.Hanko

When-You-Pray -HHankoFrom the first chapter (“The Idea of Prayer”) of Herman Hanko’s book When You Pray: Scripture’s Teaching on Prayer (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2006), which our discussion groups at Faith PRC begin studying tonight:

Prayer is to the Christian what breathing is to a healthy person. Without breathing a person cannot live. Without prayer a Christian dies. Breathing is spontaneous; in many ways so is prayer.

Prayer is like a river that returns to its source, for prayer has its power in the Spirit of Christ working life in the heart of God’s child; that life returns again in prayer to God who gave it. It is the expression of the thirst for God that makes a stag panting after water brooks an apt simile (Ps.42:1).

Prayer is lovers’ talk, for it is a holy conversation between the living and eternal God and the redeemd child of God in which both speak to each other in the most intimate relationship of love.

Prayer is a child coming to his Father, knowing that his Father loves him and will provide for him in every need. We must begin our prayers, the Lord says, with ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ (p.1).

At the heading to this chapter Hanko also has this wonderful quotation from Charles H. Spurgeon:

Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Ligonier Ministries Blog.

holding handsMen, this is for you (Wives, you may read this and pray that we take this to heart.) – from one man to another. From a fellow husband (R.C. Sproul, Jr.) who lost his beloved two years ago.

If this doesn’t move (convict!) you to think about one small but significant way to show our wives we love them, then something’s wrong – with us. And let’s admit, we don’t do this enough. But we can learn. Before it’s too late. So, be brave and manly – and take her hand from time to time.

Read on, but here’s how it starts:

That is likely my deepest regret, that I did not hold her hand more.

It’s not, of course, that I never held her hand. It is likely, however, that I didn’t as often as she would have liked. Holding her hand communicates to her in a simple yet profound way that we are connected. Taking her hand tells her, “I am grateful that we are one flesh.” Taking her hand tells me, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” It is a liturgy, an ordinary habit of remembrance to see more clearly the extraordinary reality of two being made one. It would have, even in the midst of a disagreement, or moments of struggle, communicated, “We’re going to go through this together. I will not let go.”

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 8:03 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Our Covenantal Holy War – Rev.B.Huizinga

RomanStandardbearerRev.Brian Huizinga has some great thoughts for us Christian soldiers (young and old!) in his latest installment for the rubric “Strength of Youth”, under which he is writing a series on teaching young people to wage godly warfare in the kingdom of God in this world.

We find these thoughts under a sub-heading describing our “holy war” as covenantal:

To emphasize the positive of the foregoing assertion, our warfare is covenantal. ‘Our holy war’ is the war we wage as members of God’s covenant joined together in the Spirit (I Cor.12). In catechism class one is not taught to identify himself as the individual militant, but part of the church militant. We war as those eternally chosen and made members of one body that from the beginning to the end of the world is gathered, defended, and preserved by Christ’s Word and Spirit. To fight in this war against every appearance of the kingdom of darkness led by Satan is to join with the church of all ages from Adam and Abel to you and me.

A necessary and significant implication of this covenantal aspect of our warfare is the necessity of membership in the church institute, the visible manifestation of that universal, invisible body. A soldier might claim he has enlisted in and fights on behalf of his national army. He may even wear a uniform. But if he has never joined the visible manifestation of that army at camp and on the battlefield, his speech betrays him. In our holy war. young people make church membership a priority in their life, joining the covenantal assembly.

October 1, 2014 issue of The Standard Bearer (Vol.91, No.1), 20.

Biblical Dichotomies – October “Tabletalk”

Every Jot and Tittle by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Oct 2014Though I have been using the daily devotions for a few days already (still on Romans), yesterday I began digging into the other articles of the October issue of Tabletalk. This issue has the intriguing theme of “Biblical Dichotomies”, which editor Burk Parsons explains in his introduction (see below).

The concern of this issue is that we as God’s people learn to study not simply the themes of the Bible but every word, every “jot and tittle”, as Parsons’ title indicates. And learning to see the Bible’s dichotomies helps us understand it better. All the feature articles touch on these dichotomies (“Creator and Creature”, Blessing and Cursing”, Clean and Unclean”, etc.), and I look forward to delving into them, so that I might grow in my understanding of God’s Word too.

Here is an important paragraph from Parsons’ introduction; find all of it at the link above.

Some words we come across in the Bible require that we not only examine their meaning, but also the meanings of related words. This is because a word itself is often just one part of a two-part concept—a dichotomy—in Scripture. For instance, when we come across the word blessing, we must also know the biblical and theological distinction between blessing and its opposite, cursing. Similarly, in order to fully grasp the meaning of wisdom, we must examine the meaning of foolishness. If we study one without the other, we do ourselves a great disservice in our understanding and application of the theology of God’s Word. God’s Word is truth—it not only contains the truth, it defines the truth, and it is by that truth we are sanctified. Consequently, the more we know God’s truth, the more we will grow in the grace, knowledge, and holiness of Jesus Christ, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore study not only the major stories and theological themes of the Bible, but also every word, every jot and tittle, that we might know and love our Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, coram Deo, before the face of the God who has revealed Himself to us for our eternal good and His eternal glory.

And here is the link to the first feature article on the theme – a fine one by Dr.Douglas Kelly on “Creator and Creature”. I must give you a little slice of that one too – be sure to read it all!

There are many advantages to an intelligent grasp of the biblical doctrine of the Creator and of His creation. It shows that God alone is God, and that the Eternal One has an eternal and all-inclusive plan for everything that happens in His creation. It restores meaning and hope to life. It has the massive advantage of refusing to grant divine attributes to anything that is less than God, whether the material world, humanity, or, especially relevant these days, the would-be omnicompetent state or world order. Creation by God is always the basis of resistance to statist (or ecclesiastical) tyranny.

The biblical doctrine of creation also benefits us by showing that the God of order made a creation with orderly components, proper sequence, overall regularity, and intelligibility; these assumptions are the basis of all true science (as even non-Christian historians such as Alfred North Whitehead have argued). Genesis 1 and 2 also show us that God created all things “very good” (Gen. 1:31). This means that the material creation, including the human mind and body, are positive goods, not evils that we should seek to escape (as is taught in Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age religions).

Jehovah Our Sun and Shield – H.Hoeksema

All-Glory-HHoeksema-2013Our meditation on this first Lord’s Day of October is taken from the latest collection of devotional meditations by Herman Hoeksema (series: “Reformed Spirituality”, edited by David J. Engelsma) published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association (rfpa.org) titled All Glory to the Only Good God (2013).

The fourth meditation in this book, “Jehovah Our Sun and Shield”, is based on Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Today we pull a quotation from the middle of this meditation originally published in The Standard Bearer.

May it be used to renew our faith in the God Who is both our Light and our Protector in this world of sin and suffering.

A sun is Jehovah God. The God of our salvation is also a shield.

At first there seems to be an irreconcilable contrast and antithesis between these two figures.

…How could the psalmist think of his God under the images of a sun and a shield?

What need has he who walks in the light of the protection of a shield?

Yet how real to experience is the figure.

Scarcely have you begun to meditate upon the rich beauties and blessedness of the Lord God, and to rejoice in the privilege of his communion, but you look about for a shield to protect you. For the Lord gives grace and glory. When he does so, he makes you partaker of his light. His light is reflected in your life. With the reflection of his light in your life and walk, you stand for his name and glory in the world. It is true that in the world you are in danger as soon as you bid farewell to the darkness of sin and walk in the light of God, for the world is in darkness and loves the darkness. Because it loves darkness, it hates light, since its works are evil. As it loves darkness and hates light, so it loves and protects its own children and hates and persecutes the children of God’s light. The world battles those who dwell in the tabernacle of God’s light and reflect his grace and glory. It attacks you. It fights with the deceitful weapons of flattery and vain philosophy, offering you all the glory and riches of the world. It shoots the poisoned arrows of reproach and shame or openly threatens its death-bringing sword.

And all the while it aims at the light in us. All the while its purpose is to extinguish the light poured into our hearts and lives from Jehovah God, who is a sun.

But Jehovah is a shield!

A most perfect shield is he. …Jehovah’s protection is perfect. If he covers us, we are safe. If he watches over us, the enemy cannot reach us. For he is the Almighty, mightier than all the mightiest together, supreme in power. There is no sword that he cannot break; there is no hostile attack that he cannot repel. He never fails to watch, for he neither slumbers nor sleeps. Always his eyes are over the righteous. Constantly he watches to protect the children who dwell in his light and whom he made partakers of his own grace and glory.

…How safe, then, are they who trust in him! (24-25)

Busting a book buying myth – I.Carmichael

GoThereFor.com | Busting a book buying myth.

BookstorewindowI appreciate the message Ian Carmichael makes in this brief blog post about buying more books before you have finished the ones you already bought (dated Sept.30, 2014). There is wisdom in this counsel, and I hope you will hear it and heed it.

Here’s a bit of the post; find the rest at the link above.

There’s a dangerous myth I keep hearing amongst Christians.

…It’s the myth that we really ought to finish reading all the books on our bookshelves before we buy more.

Such a sentiment seems almost godly and prudent. And I suppose in some ways it could be viewed that way.

But…I want to suggest it’s nonsense. Here are three reasons why:

(1) It’s not all about you!

Of course, one of the main reasons to buy a book is to benefit you. But it’s not the only reason. Books can help other people too, right?

So you see a good book at a good price. Broaden your purchase criteria. Don’t just think “Would I like to read this book?”. Ask yourself “Would this book help anyone I know?” or even “Would this be a good book to have on my shelf in case it would be helpful to someone (including me) in the future?”

Bookshelves shouldn’t just be an archive of our past reading. They should be a rich resource stockpile for future ministry. (Including multiple copies of some books that we know we will give away or lend frequently.)

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 12:09 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Word Wednesday – Muscle (Be a Mousy Man!)

UnfortunateEnglishLet’s return to the book Unfortunate English: The Gloomy Truth Behind the Words You Use (Bill Brohaugh, Writer’s Digest, 2006) for our Word Wednesday feature (See this post for our last one from this book.). The next section (after the food one) is about “words of the birds and the beasts” and titled “I am not an animal! I am an etymologist!” And yes, it is filled with lots of fun associations between words origins and animals.

This is how Brohaugh introduces us to this section:

Animals are by technical definition living things that move. Insects, amoebas, orangutans. Words are, in a sense, themselves animals. They are figuratively living things. They feed off one another, and they grow. And as we’ve seen, they move about.

Some words are even born of animals. At their origins are creatures of the Earth, though we no longer hear them bark or moo.

Here, then, is a petting zoo of words that, true to their animal origins, have moved from one meaning to another (p.142-43).

His third entry in this section is the common word “muscle”, and it is our featured word today. And no, muscle is not derived from the crustacean by that name (but spelled quite differently), but from the wee (mighty?!) mouse. For “muscle” literally means “little mouse”. And here is how Brohaugh describes this word’s origin for all you etymologists out there:

Though mice are not generally known for their muscles, muscles are somewhat known for their mice. Etymologically speaking, that is.

We’ve all heard the cliche’ ‘rippling muscles,’ and indeed in certain types of muscular action we can see movement underneath the skin. There’s an earthy poetry in noticing, in early observations of the body, that these ripples look a little like a mouse scooting around beneath the skin. Thus, the cause of the ripples was referred to as a ‘little mouse’ – in Latin, a musculus, the diminutive form os mus, or ‘mouse.’ That meaning was well in place in Latin by the time it was adapted into Late Middle English.

(Kind of makes your skin crawl, doesn’t it?)

So, in answering the question, ‘Are you a man or a mouse?’ our friends the bodybuilders might actually opt for the latter (pp.145-46).

An Able and Faithful Ministry (6) – S.Miller

Able&Faithful Ministry-SMiller_Page_1Over the course of the last month since the PRC Seminary opened its doors for another year of instruction, we have been examining the thoughts of Presbyterian pastor and Seminary professor (Princeton) Samuel Miller as contained in his address,“The Duty of the Church to Take Measures for Providing an Able and Faithful Ministry”. This sermon was delivered on August 12, 1812 on the occasion of the installation of Archibald Alexander as the first professor of the new Princeton Seminary.

In the last few weeks we noted that in his last point on what the church can and ought to do to ensure “an able and faithful ministry” – namely, start its own Seminary school specifically for training pastors – Miller included some additional ideas that relate to why the church ought to have its own minister training school.

We finish quoting from this section today, posting a portion that speaks to the importance of united Seminary education for the promotion of godly friendships and fellowship on the part of the students – a blessing that serves them well both when they are in school and throughout their ministry.

Here then are Miller’s closing thoughts in this section:

It is important to add, that when the church provides for educating a number of candidates for the ministry at the same seminary, these candidates themselves may be expected to be of essential service to each other. Numbers being engaged together in the same studies will naturally excite the principle of emulation. As “iron sharpeneth iron” (Prov. 27:17), so the amicable competition, and daily intercourse of pious students, can scarcely fail of leading to closer and more persevering application; to deeper research; to richer acquirements; and to a more indelible impression of that which is learned, upon their minds, than can be expected to take place in solitary study.

Nor is it by any means unworthy of notice, that when the ministers of a church are generally trained up at the same seminary, they are naturally led to form early friendships, which bind them together to the end of life, and which are productive of that mutual confidence and assistance, which can scarcely fail of shedding a benign influence on their personal enjoyment, and their official comfort and usefulness. These early friendships may also be expected to add another impulse to a sense of duty, in annually drawing ministers from a distance to meet each other in the higher judicatories of the church; and, which is scarcely less important, to facilitate and promote that mutual consultation respecting plans of research, and new and interesting publications, which is, at once, among the safeguards, as well as pleasures, of theological authorship.

I can personally testify to this profit in our own PRC Seminary, as I observe the students interacting with one another. And, I might add, I also see the benefit of such godly friendships among our pastors. May this too continue – for the good of these men, for the profit of the church of Christ, and for the glory of Jesus her Head.

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