Miracles Attending Israel’s Journey

August 2, 2009

…is the name of the poem I used for this morning’s Sunday School class, Isaac Watts’ rendering of Psalm 114. Beautiful:

When Isr’el, freed from Pharaoh’s hand,
Left the proud tyrant and his land,
The tribes with cheerful homage own
Their king; and Judah was his throne.

Across the deep their journey lay;
The deep divides to make them way.
Jordan beheld their march, and led,
With backward current, to his head.

The mountains shook like frighted sheep,
Like lambs the little hillocks leap;
Not Sinai on her base could stand,
Conscious of sov’reign pow’r at hand.

What pow’r could make the deep divide?
Make Jordan backward roll his tide?
Why did ye leap, ye little hills?
And whence the fright that Sinai feels?

Let ev’ry mountain, ev’ry flood,
Retire and know th’ approaching God,
The King of Isr’el: see him here!
Tremble, thou earth, adore and fear.

He thunders, and all nature mourns;
The rock to standing pools he turns,
Flints spring with fountains at his word,
And fires and seas confess the Lord.

Watts is rapidly climbing my list of favorite hymn writers.  Here’s a brief biography:

Resolved 2009

June 15, 2009

I didn’t get to make it to the Resolved Conference this year, but the audio is free and located here.

Merit > Demerit

May 28, 2009

“If God himself bows before His own law, what more can be done? There is more in the atonement by way of merit, than there is in all human sin by way of demerit.”

-C.H. Spurgeon

Trusting Princes

May 18, 2009

Right now I’m reading through I Samuel. It’s been a joy because I’ve found that typically, we’re less familiar with the Old Testament than the New, and that usually makes for good study. As I read through chapter 8, a blog worth breaking the silence for came to mind.

Israel was running under what we would call Theocracy, which is just a word that means God was their ruler and king. He ruled and decreed through the judges, but God was acknowledged as the ultimate authority and so no human king was necessary. As time wore on, Israel desired change and told Samuel, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (I Sam 8:5)

God told Samuel that in spite of Israel’s complaints about his age, it was God that they were rejecting. He told Samuel to warn them about what it was they were asking for, but to do what they asked, and so he did:

11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. 22And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.”

It’s so easy to point out the foolishness of Israel. I always think, “They had no idea how good they had it!” True. God being their acknowledged political ruler was great. They quickly learned that, true to Samuel’s warning, a king was not as all they had hoped he would be. But to look back into history and play Monday morning quarterback is easy. Before we reach for the specks of discontent and misplaced trust in Israel’s eye, let’s look at ourselves.

A large portion of Christianity was up in arms at the last election, furious that the wrong man had one. Worry over his views on the economy and foreign policy was there but much more, a radically pro-choice president? One who will not oppose same-sex marriage?

Let’s identify some parallels, shall we?

Israel wanted a king because they thought that’s what they needed. Why? Because they wanted someone to judge them and fight their battles for them (v. 20).

Many Christian Americans want a “Christian” president because they think that’s what they need. Why? Because they want someone to make “Christian” judgments and fight their political battles for them.*

As I said before, one of the chief sins here is misplaced trust. As believers, we know that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (Jn 8:36), so why would we place our trust on a ruler who is? We are told to “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” (Ps. 146:3, 4)

Instead we should be trusting in the true King, Jesus Christ. Look at what He says in John 10:

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Do you want a King who judges? Jesus Christ is the judge of all men, separating His sheep from the goats. (Matt. 24:31-46)

Do you want a King who fights your battles? No King fought harder or made a sacrifice greater than when Christ laid down his life for his sheep. (John 10:11, 15)

The battle we should be most concerned about is not at the polls, in courtrooms, or the oval office. We should be fervently praying that God would advance his Kingdom in the hearts of men. Someone who is born again will not abort their unborn child. Someone who is trusting Christ will put to death the sin of homosexuality. That is a way that we can focus our efforts now instead of getting pumped of for the election in 2012. We can spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, the ultimate judge who sits on the throne, no matter who sits in the oval office.

I will exercise my God-given ability to vote and one day, perhaps there will be reform in America. However, let us keep our focus heavenward and make sure our trust is in Christ and his glorious and superior rule.

* I will make a distinction here. Unlike deposing God and foregoing Theocracy for a Monarchy, having a God-fearing president would be a great thing. It’s the panic while without one that is sinful and what I’m trying to address.

Porn and Paper Pastors

April 22, 2009

Now that the title of this post has effectively grabbed your attention, I want you to go read the actual post over on the pyromaniacs blog.

Dan Phillips encourages us to appreciate our pastors. Our pastors.

CJ Mahaney on Effectual Call

November 14, 2008

I wish he would write more. For now I’ll just enjoy his preaching.

I know how much you guys love Bibles…

November 1, 2008

So be sure to drop by Ligonier and find out how you can get one for a donation of any amount. Seriously. In honor of Reformation week they’re giving out genuine leather Reformation Study Bibles while supplies last, so hurry!

Psalm 69:9 and Hamlet 2.

September 6, 2008

More than once already I’ve been invited to see Hamlet 2. Each time I was pitched the “funniest” points of the previews only to be angered and offended to a degree I don’t reach often. Apparently I’m supposed to be amused by someone who writes a play that is celebrated for its controversy that is culminated in a song and dance number titled “Rock me sexy Jesus”.

Let me make myself clear: anyone or anything that is going to trivialize or mock Jesus is going to be met by fierce opposition on my part.  I don’t take myself so seriously or treasure my position in the minds of people to the point that I won’t allow myself to be made fun of. Do you want to mock me? Knock yourself out. I spent my elementary school years severely overweight and bearing the last name Gumpy. Mockery and teasing are not strange to me and in all sincerity have lost their sting.

However, never expect me to condone or be amused by the mockery of my Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to anger me, mock Jesus. If you want to break my heart, belittle Jesus. The only identity I have that I hold any value in is my identity as an imitator and follower of Jesus Christ. These thoughts were swirling around my head and today while studying for Sunday night, John MacArthur in his commentary quoted a Psalm that seemed extremely applicable:

For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. (Psalm 69:9)

To offend Christ is to effectively offend me, just so you know the next time you want “entertain” me with something that is outright blasphemous. The sad part is that one day the people that blaspheme now will bow their knee and open the very mouths they use for evil to profess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:11). If only they knew what their future held.

Forgive them Lord. I sincerely believe that they know not what they do. How could they and continue?


August 18, 2008

I’ve been listening to Alistair Begg messages on pastoral ministry for the last couple weeks and one thing that he said that I’ve been reminded of this week is that expositional preaching is one of the most taxing, exhausting, and rewarding experiences that anyone can do. I say amen on all counts.

I was told today that I should blog about last night’s experience so that I can remember it later. Well after being less than satisfied after my last time teaching, I spent a significantly larger amount of time studying this time. Still not as much as I would like but I’ve got jobs too ya know? It was funny to see how hours passed like minutes while I was studying, even when it was most difficult.

So did I end up doing a better job this time? I dunno. And to be honest, I don’t care so much how smooth my transition between points was or if I was too long or too short. Did people walk away with a greater desire to live for Christ or longing to see Him face to face one day?  (Phil 1:21)  That’s what I care about.

It’s quite a process to get the podcasts up so it’s not up yet, but will be soon. Keep checking here under our night studies.

Reading This Week

August 12, 2008

We started going through Philippians on Sunday and Pat and I are going to be taking turns teaching. So if you think of it, please pray for me in my inexperience.  That being said, to say that I’m enjoying studying would be a severe understatement. Thankfully Pat is letting me use his resources or my experience would be a much different one. You better believe that from now on I’ll be asking for commentaries for Christmas, Birthdays, and all other instances where I might receive gifts.

The fantastic part is I get to start on something that was on my heart recently. Well, after seeing the date on the linked post, I guess it wasn’t so recent after all. No matter, it still feels fresh, which is good. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how familiar a passage is or how many times we may have studied it, there is always more to learn from it. Praise God for the sufficiency of His word!