Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Do You Prepare for Worship? Some thoughts on the subject
From J.I. Packer

"But still one question remains. ... How can we, cold-hearted and formal as we so often are -- to our shame -- in church services, advance closer to the Puritan ideals? The Puritans would have met our question by asking us another. How do we prepare for worship?

Here, perhaps, is our own chief weakness. The Puritans inculcated specific preparation for worship -- not merely for the Lord's Supper, but for all services -- as a regular part of the Christian's inner discipline of prayer and communion with God. Says the Westminster Directory: "When the congregation is to meet for public worship, the people (having before prepared their hearts thereunto) ought all to come...." But we neglect to prepare our hearts; for, as the Puritans would have been the first to tell us, thirty seconds of private prayer upon taking our seat in the church building is not time enough in which to do it. It is here that we need to take ourselves in hand. What we need at the present time to deepen our worship is not new liturgical forms or formulae, nor new hymns and tunes, but more preparatory "heart-work" before we use the old ones. There is nothing wrong with new hymns, tunes, and worship styles -- there may be very good reasons for them -- but without "heart-work" they will not make our worship more fruitful and God-honoring; they will only strengthen the syndrome that C.S. Lewis called "the liturgical fidgets." "Heart-works" must have priority or spiritually our worship will get nowhere. So I close with an admonition from George Swinnock on preparation for the service of the Lord's Day, which for all its seeming quaintedness is, I think, a word in season for very many of us:

"Prepare to meet thy God, O Christian! Betake thyself to thy chamber on the Saturday night, confess and bewail thine unfaithfulness under the ordinances of God; ashamed and condemn thyself for thy sins, entreat God to prepare they heart for, and assist it in, thy religious performances; spend some time in consideration of the infinite majesty, holiness, jealously, and goodness, of that God, with whom thouart to have to do in sacred duties; ponder the weight and importance of his holy ordinances...; meditate on the shortness of the time thou hast to enjoy Sabbaths in; and continue musing...till the fire burneth; thou canst not think the good thou mayest gain by such forethoughts, how pleasant and profitable a Lord's day would be to thee after such a preparation. The oven of thine heart thus baked in, as it were overnight, would be easily heated the next morning; the fire so well raked up when thou wentest to bed, would be the sooner kindled when thou shouldst rise. If thou wouldst thus leave thy heart with God on the Saturday night, thou shouldst find it with him in the Lord's Day morning."

[From J.I. Packer's A Quest For Godliness]

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

From James Montgomery Boice:

I suppose there are some people who in their old age only look back to the past and are often quite unhappy as they do. They think of what they have had and lost or what they wish they could have had an never did. The present does not mean much to them except as a basis for complaining about their multiplying aches and pains, and they are afraid to look forward. They are afraid of dying.

David's approach to old age was not like this. For not only did he look to the past to remember God's goodness and faithfulness to him over the many long years of his life, he also looked to the future in terms of the work yet remaining to be done. He knew that if God had left him in life and had not yet taken him home to be with him in glory, it was because there was work to do. This work was testifying to the coming generations about God.

Psalm 71:17-19  — 17 O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.  18 And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.  19 For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?

(Boice, Psalms Volume 2, 597).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

For at least 3 reasons, God is justified in His condemnation of sinners...

1) God is justified because all men, through their lineage from Adam, share in the guilt of original sin and in the moral and spiritual depravity it produces (Rom 5:17-18).

2) God is justified in condemning sinners because every person is born with an evil nature (Eph 2:3).

3) God is justified in condemning sinners because of the evil deeds their depraved natures inevitably produce (Rom 2:6-8).

Because of sin, the unregenerate have no future to look forward to except eternal damnation in hell.

Because our God is infinite in power and love, 'We confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?'' (Heb 13:6). Because our God is infinite in power and love, we can say with David, 'When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you' (Ps 56:3) and, 'In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety' (Ps 4:8). Because our God is infinite in power and love, we can say with Moses, 'The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms' (Deut 33:27). Because our God is infinite in power and love, we can say with the writer of Hebrews, 'This hope we have as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.'

(From John MacArthur, Romans 1-8, 396-97, 518)

Remember: this divine condemnation upon all men leads man to despair in and of himself and to trust in the only hope of salvation that God has made available — salvation in Jesus Christ and in His substitutionary work at Calvary (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13)!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Psalm 69:22-23   22 May their table before them become a snare; And when they are in peace, may it become a trap.  23 May their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see, And make their loins shake continually.


In reading the context of both Psalm 69 and Romans 11, we see that Paul intentionally and quite deliberately used Psalm 69 with respect for the context of the psalm at large to enhance his argument upon the unbelieving Jews in Romans 11.

Here is a fitting word of application by James Montgomery Boice:

"Here is where Psalm 69:22-23 and Paul's use of these verses in Romans come home forcefully to us. If individual Jews, who were a chosen nation, missed salvation because of their rejection of Christ and if, as a result, the blessings of God that had been given to them bcame a curse for these people, then it is entirely possible (and indeed probable) that many sitting in the evangelical churches of America today are also missing salvation because of their failure to trust Jesus in a personal way and that their blessings have become curses too" (Psalms vol.2, p.580-81).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

 ‘The whole state of your own soul before God must be the first point to be considered; for if you yourself are not in a truly spiritual state of mind, and actually living upon the truths which you preach or read to others, you will officiate to very little purpose.’

--Charles Simeon
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