Prayers of the Reformers (15)

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor this first Lord’s Day in May we post two more prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press (1958).

These prayers (slightly edited) are taken from the section “Prayers for Baptism” and, as you will note, accord with the Reformed, covenantal (biblical) view of children.

For sanctification

Almighty and everlasting God, who of Thy infinite mercy and goodness hast promised unto us that Thou wilt not only be our God, but also the God and Father of our children: We beseech Thee, since Thou hast vouchsafed to call us to be partakers of this Thy great mercy in the fellowship of faith: that it may please Thee to sanctify with Thy Spirit and receive into the number of Thy children this infant, whom we shall baptize according to Thy Word.

May he, coming of age, confess Thee as the only true God, and Him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, and serve Him and be profitable unto His church, in the whole course of his life. After this life be ended, may he be brought unto the full fruition of Thy joys in the heavens, where Thy Son our Christ reigneth, world without end. In whose name we pray as He hath taught us…. Amen.

For the Spirit of light and grace

O Almighty God, which in commanding us to pray hast assured us that we, believing steadfastly in Thy promise, shall have all that we desire, especially concerning the soul, wherein we seek Thy glory and the wealth of our neighbors; our humble petition to Thee, O most dear Father, is, that forasmuch as this child is not without original sin, Thou wilt consider Thine own mercy, and according to Thy promise send this child thy good Spirit, that in Thy sight it be not counted among the children of wrath, but of light and grace, and become a member of the undefiled church espoused to Christ, Thy dear Son, in faith and love unfeigned, by the means of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (attributed to M.Coverdale)

 

The Prayers of J. Calvin (27)

JCalvinPic1On this last Sunday of April 2016 we return to our series of posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014, throughout 2015, and now in 2016), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979).

Today we post a brief section from his twenty-sixth lecture and the prayer that concludes it (slightly edited). This lecture covers Jeremiah 6:24-7:1-4, which includes Calvin’s comments on 7:1-4:

Now the object of his sermon was, to exhort them seriously to repent, if they wished God to be reconciled to them. So the Prophet shews, that God did not regard their sacrifices and external rites, and that this was not the way, as they thought, of appeasing him. For after they had celebrated the feast. every one returned home, as though they all, after having made an expiation, had God propitious to them. The Prophet shews here, that the way of worshipping God was very different, which was to reform their lives.

…God indeed esteems as nothing this external worship, except it be preceded by inward sincerity, unless integrity of life accompanies your profession.

…We hence see that external rites are here repudiated, when men seek in a false way to gain favour before God, and seek to redeem their sins by false compensations, while yet their hearts continue perverse (pp.362-63).

Calvin conclude this lecture with this prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that as we so abuse thy forbearance, that thou art constrained by our depravity to deal sharply with us, –

O grant, that we may not be also hardened against thy chastisements, but may we with a submissive and tractable neck learn to take thy yolk, and be so obedient to thy government, that we may testify our repentance, not for one day only, and give no fallacious evidence, but that we may really prove through the whole course of our life the sincerity of our conversion to thee, by regarding this as our main object, even to glorify thee in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen

Certainly fitting thoughts for us on this Lord’s Day as we gather for worship in God’s presence with our fellow saints. May we remember well the worship that alone pleases God and come with the pure sacrifices of penitence and praise.

Note to Self: Sing

      You really should sing more. You should sing more than at gathered worship with the church. You should sing in the car, while working in the yard, and in your home. And when you sing, you should do so with more than lungs and lips. You should sing with your heart, mind, and soul.

…People sing about the things that capture their hearts and things that give them joy. People sing of heroes, victory, longing, and hope. People even sing as a way to express their sorrow. Does anyone have more reasons to sing than you? As a sinner who has been forgiven, a slave who has been freed, a blind man who has received sight, a spiritual cripple who has been healed – all by the gospel – you have real reasons to be known as a person of song!

It is one thing to tell the world of God’s work of redemption in Jesus; it is another to sing of it. Anyone can parrot truth, but to sing of it – from the soul – reveals how you feel. Song is the natural and appropriate response to the gospel, because singing is one of the highest expressions of joy.

So why aren’t you singing ‘always, only for [your] king?’ Have the mercies of God grown small in your heart? Is there little joy, little gratitude, little wonder? Do you just not feel like singing? The confession of sin and gospel meditation will lead you to song, so start there. There are songs of praise, thanksgiving, confession, lament, and victory that need your voice.

…So join the chorus of God’s people, who have always been known as a people who sing.

Note-to-self-ThornTaken from “Part One: The Gospel and God” (Chap.4 “Sing”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp.41-42.

Stir Up One Another – to Worship! Jon Payne

TT-March-2016As we pointed out  last week, the March issue of Tabletalk addresses the believer’s beautiful and blessed calling to live in the communion of saints and carry out the Bible’s “one another” duties toward his fellow believers.

We find another of these “one anothers” in Heb.10:24-25, where God’s Word calls us to stir up one another to love and good works, especially in connection with public worship. Dr.Jon Payne explains this well in his article “Stir Up One Another” (link found below).

Here are a few of his closing thoughts – good food for our souls this week:

While members of the body of Christ will possess varying gifts for graciously “stirring up” others to “love and good works,” the author of Hebrews reminds us of the most obvious way in which we all may spur on fellow believers: through faithful attendance to weekly Lord’s Day worship services. When Christians gather together to worship in spirit and truth—to hear the Word, confess sin, sing praise, confess the faith, witness baptisms, receive communion, take vows, and warmly greet one another in Christ—they actively and mysteriously foster Christian unity and “stir up” others toward godly living. Dear Christian, your active and joyful participation in Lord’s Day worship is integral to the spiritual encouragement and growth of others. Your absence, however, has the opposite effect.

Reformed commentator Simon J. Kistemaker notes that one of the first indications of a lack of love toward God and neighbor is for a Christian to stay away from worship services. Such a Christian forsakes the communal obligations of attending these meetings and displays the symptoms of selfishness and self-centeredness.

Steady devotion to corporate worship communicates not only a love for and dependence upon the triune God but also a love for and commitment to the body of Christ. To confess the “communion of the saints” in the Apostles’ Creed is to affirm that every Christian “must feel himself bound to use his gifts, readily and cheerfully, for the advantage and welfare of other members” (Heidelberg Catechism 55). Unless providentially hindered, therefore, make church attendance the highest priority in your weekly schedule, and thus “encourage one another … all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25b).

Source: Stir Up One Another by Jon Payne | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

5 Reasons to Prioritize Family Worship

We have been looking at the fine little publication by Donald Whitney on Family Worship (Crossway, 2016). Though brief, the book covers the basic principles and practice (as well as the history) of proper family worship. And though Whitney, being Baptist, does not take the same view of children that we Reformed folk do (children of believers belong to the covenant and kingdom of God!), the book is profitable for all Chrfamily-worship-whitney-2016istians and all Christian homes.

Back in January, Crossway featured a guest post by Whitney on his book, in which he set down five reasons we ought to make family worship a priority. Today we highlight that post, giving you an excerpt from his introduction and the link to the rest of it, including those five reasons.

It’s Worth It

Just about everyone I know feels overwhelmed, and most are busier than they’ve ever been, especially if they have children at home.

Pair that with my observation that most Christians I know would affirm that family worship—if they are familiar with it—would probably be a worthwhile practice if they were to make the time for it.

If these things are true for you, then my prayer is that this article will persuade you, despite the many demands on your schedule, to make a priority of family worship.

And I hope to persuade you—regardless of the size of your family, and even if you’ve never had children, or no longer have children in your home—by means of the following five reasons.

This is a guest post by Donald S. Whitney, author of Family Worship. Sign up for a free, 5-day email course on leading family worship at crossway.org/FamilyWorship101.

Source: 5 Reasons to Prioritize Family Worship

Luther on the Christian Life (4) – J.Smidstra

With his kind permission, I re-post this online article of Justin Smidstra on Luther and worship as it was first posted on the “Young Calvinists” blog Saturday, Feb.13 (see the link below).

Even though our worship on the Lord’s Day is completed, Justin’s summary of Luther’s principles for public worship are applicable to our daily life and our private worship too.

Luther on Chr Life -TruemanBe sure to look up his other articles posted on the “Young Calvinists’s” blog on the book Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman.

On Sunday God’s people across the world will gather in their churches for public worship. The worship of Almighty God and our Savior Jesus Christ is our chief duty as Christians, and also our chief joy. In the services of the church we praise God as a body, as the communion of the saints. We have fellowship with our covenant God and with our fellow saints. The church worships through a set and carefully constructed liturgy, or order of worship. The word “liturgy” refers to the worship of the church and the elements that make up the church’s worship: prayer, song, alms-giving, preaching.

As we anticipate going to the house of prayer tomorrow, it is worth considering a few of Luther’s important contributions to our understanding and practice of worship. Carl Truman helpfully discusses some of Luther’s insights in the fourth chapter of His book Luther on the Christian Life. Luther identified the core of the Christian life as being the worship of God in the church. He put much stock in the liturgy of the church and insisted that it be truthful, dignified, and God-glorifying. Luther’s theology of the Word and his understanding of justification by faith alone demanded that the liturgy of the church of his day be reoriented. In the middle ages the church’s liturgy was focused on the Sacraments, especially the Lord’s Supper. While the Sacraments are very important and ought to receive due attention in worship, medieval theology emphasized them to the expense of everything else, especially the preaching of the Word. The preaching was allowed to fade away. Luther’s theology demanded a reversal of emphases, the Word and the Word preached taking the prominent position and the Sacraments, though crucially important for the Christian life, taking a supporting position. Word and Sacrament together, in proper relationship, make up the heart of Christian worship. The Word is preached by God’s ordained servants for the edification and nourishment of the people’s faith. The Sacraments are administered for the confirmation and strengthening of their faith. Together by these means of grace the church is built up and the people worship God. We must not forget that the preaching of the gospel is not only God’s speech to His people, it is also an act of worship when the church attends to the preaching. Likewise, the Sacraments are acts of worship in which the church together brings her praise and thanksgiving to God.

Luther believed that the worship of the church was primarily God’s action not man’s. Although God’s people bring to God their “sacrifice of praise,” their activity is subordinate to God’s activity.  Luther especially viewed worship as God’s gracious speaking to His people by His almighty Word. The activity of God’s people is their response to that speech of God with worship and reverent awe. The worship of the medieval church had become very priestly in its outlook. Worship was seen as sacrifice. Luther reversed these emphases by restoring the Word preached to the center of Christian worship. We as sinners cannot initiate anything. We cannot come to God by ourselves or through the service of our own works. Rather, God in His grace must first come to us and draw us to Himself. Only then can we respond and offer to God our worship. In the church’s worship God meets us and teaches us, and we respond with praise and thanks. That basic understanding of God’s sovereignty and grace lies behind Luther’s theology of worship. Knowing God whom we worship informs the way we worship Him.

Justin Smidstra

Source: Luther on the Christian Life (4) – Young Calvinists

Published in: on February 15, 2016 at 6:39 AM  Leave a Comment  

Family worship – Joshua and his house

family-worship-whitney-2016A recent publication of Crossway that I asked to review is Donald S. Whitney’s little book Family Worship (2016, 80 pp.). It came in the mail Friday and I thought I would share an excerpt from the first chapter this evening.

The chapter is titled “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord” (with the sub-title, “Family Worship in the Bible”), taken from the familiar verse in Joshua 24:15. After treating the family worship of Abraham and Moses (and subsequently Job, Asaph, Paul, and Peter), Whitney gets to Joshua, where he has the following to say:

     Have you ever considered how infrequently people gathered for congregational worship in the centuries comprising nearly the entire Old Testament? Even after the tabernacle and temple were built believers did not gather in large groups to worship God as often as is sometimes assumed. Only after the Babylonian exile, late in Old Testament history and hundreds of years after Solomon built the temple, did the local synagogues develop and people begin to worship God congregationally on a weekly basis. Of course, with the coming of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, most believers are now privileged to experience the riches of being in God’s family through regular participation in a local church.

But God was worthy of worship in the days before regular congregational worship as he is now. Those who believed in and loved God, people such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and others, wanted to worship God in their days as much as people do today. Keep that thought in mind as you read the famous words of Joshua 24.

And then after quoting v.15 – Joshua’s exhortation to the people, along with his own example – Whitney writes:

     How would Joshua and his house have served the Lord? Part of serving the Lord for them back then, just as it is for us now, is worshiping the Lord. But in a day when congregational worship was so infrequent  – after all, for many Israelites it involved a trip of several days to travel to the tabernacle – regular family worship of some sort would have been a part of carrying out Joshua’s resolve, ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (pp.19-20).

As we experience the blessed freedom of public, congregational worship on the Lord’s Day tomorrow, may we also remember that true worship begins in our own hearts and in our own homes. May we have Joshua’s resolve for our personal families, even as we gather with the family of God on the morrow.

The Prayers of J.Calvin (25)

JCalvinPic1On this first Lord’s Day of 2016 we continue our on-going series of posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014, throughout 2015, and now in 2016, which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979).

Today we post a brief section from his twenty-fourth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 6:10-15, which includes Calvin’s comments on v.10, “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.”:

This metaphor is common in all the prophets. The uncircumcised ear is that which rejects all true doctrine. An uncircumcised heart is that which is perverse and rebellious. But we ought to understand the reason of this: as circumcision was an evidence of obedience, so the Scripture calls those uncircumcised who are unteachable, who cast away every fear of God, and all sense of religion, and follow their own lusts and desires.

…It was God’s will to consecrate his ancient people to himself by circumcision: but when they became satisfied with the visible sign only, there was no longer the reality, and God’s covenant was profaned. It is the same at this day with respect to baptism; they who wish to be deemed Christians, boast of it, while at the same time they show no fear of God, and while their whole life obliterates the true character of baptism. It is hence evident, that they are sacrilegious, for they pollute what is holy.

…God receives us into his Church on condition [that is, in the way of] that we are the members of Christ, and that being ruled by his Spirit we renounce the lusts of our flesh. But when we seek under the cloak of baptism to associate God with the Devil, it is a most detestable sacrilege (pp.328-29).

Following this lecture is this prayer (slightly edited):

Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as Thou seekest daily to restore us to Thyself, and so arrangest Thy word, as now kindly to allure us, and then to reprove us severely, and even to drive us by threatenings,

– O grant, that we may not be altogether unteachable: but so rule us by the spirit of meekness, that we may submit ourselves to Thee and to Thy holy word, and be so terrified by the fear of Thy judgment as yet ever to taste of the sweetness of Thy mercy, so that we may cleave to Thee in Christ Thy Son, until we shall at length fully know that Thou art our Father, and enjoy the fruit of our adoption in the same Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

Prayers of the Reformers (10)

prayersofreformers-manschreckTwo more prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers (compiled by Clyde Manschreck; Muhlenberg Press, 1958) we post here today. Both are fitting for our worship – especially our hearing of the gospel – on this Lord’s Day.

Prayer before a sermon

Let us call upon our God and Father, praying Him to turn His face away from the numerous faults and offenses whereby we continually provoke His wrath against us. Though we be unworthy of appearing before His majesty, let us beseech Him to look upon us in the countenance of His dearly beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, accepting the merit of His death and passion for the full atonement of all our sins.

Let us beseech Him to enlighten us by His Spirit, in the understanding of His Word, and grant us the grace to receive the same in true fear and humility, that we may learn to put our trust in Him, to fear and honor Him by glorifying His holy name in all our life, and to yield Him the love and obedience which faithful servants owe to their master and children to their fathers, seeing it has pleased Him to call us to the number of His servants and children.

And let us pray unto Him as our good Master has taught us to pray, saying, Our Father… (p.4).

-J.Calvin

The hearing of God’s Word

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the words which we have heard this day with our outward ears, may through Thy grace be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honor and praise of Thy name, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

-English reformers, 1549

The Ingredients of Worship (4): Adoration – A.W. Tozer

Tozer-Missing-JewelsIn an article on worship titled “Missing Jewel” (January, 1968), pastor A.W. Tozer wrote these words about some of the “ingredients” found in true worship, especially as it relates to prayer:

Adoration

We must love God with all our power, with fear, wonder, yearning, awe. Yearn for God with great yearning.

At times this will lead us to breathless silence. I think that some of the greatest prayer is when you don’t utter one word or ask for anything. Now God does answer and He does give us what we ask for. That’s plain; nobody can deny that unless he denies the Scriptures. But that is only one aspect of prayer, and it’s not even the important one. Sometimes I go to God and say, ‘God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth, I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast already done.’ I’m already so far in debt that if I live one million millenniums I can’t repay God.

We go to God as we send a boy to a grocery store with a long written list, ‘God, give me this, give me this, and give me this,’ and our gracious God often gives us what we want. But I think God is disappointed because we make Him no more than a source of what we want. Even our Lord Jesus is too often presented as ‘someone who will meet your need.’ That’s the throbbing heart of modern evangelism. You’re in need and Jesus will meet your need. He’s the Need-Meeter. Well, He is that indeed; but He’s infinitely more than that.

Published in Essays on Prayer by A.W. Tozer and others (Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), pp.5-6.

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