Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WE REJECT DOCTRINAL ERRORS 6


The Canons of Dort, Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine
The Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, &  the Manner Thereof - Rejection of Errors



The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

Paragraph 1
Who teach: That it cannot properly be said that original sin in itself suffices to condemn the whole human race or to deserve temporal and eternal punishment.
For these contradict the apostle, who declares: Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned (Rom. 5:12). And: The judgment came of one unto condemnation (Rom. 5:16). And: The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

Paragraph 2
Who teach: That the spiritual gifts or the good qualities and virtues, such as goodness, holiness, righteousness, could not belong to the will of man when he was first created, and that these, therefore, cannot have been separated therefrom in the fall.
For such is contrary to the description of the image of God which the apostle gives in Eph. 4:24, where he declares that it consists in righteousness and holiness, which undoubtedly belong to the will.

Paragraph 3
Who teach: That in spiritual death the spiritual gifts are not separate from the will of man, since the will in itself has never been corrupted, but only hindered through the darkness of the understanding and the irregularity of the affections; and that, these hindrances having been removed, the will can then bring into operation its native powers, that is, that the will of itself is able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to choose, all manner of good which may be presented to it.
This is an innovation and an error, and tends to elevate the powers of the free will, contrary to the declaration of the prophet: The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt (Jer. 17:9); and of the apostle: Among whom (sons of disobedience) we also all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Eph. 2:3).

Paragraph 4
Who teach: That the unregenerate man is not really nor utterly dead in sin, nor destitute of all powers unto spiritual good, but that he can yet hunger and thirst after righteousness and life, and offer the sacrifice of a contrite and broken spirit, which is pleasing to God.
For these things are contrary to the express testimony of Scripture: Ye were dead through your trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5). And: Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). Moreover, to hunger and thirst after deliverance from misery and after life, and to offer unto God the sacrifice of a broken spirit, is peculiar to the regenerate and those that are called blessed (Psa. 51:17; Matt. 5:6).

Paragraph 5
Who teach: That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the common grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or the gifts still left him after the fall, that he can gradually gain by their good use a greater, that is, the evangelical or saving grace, and salvation itself; and that in this way God on His part shows Himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since He applies to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion.

For both the experience of all ages and the Scriptures testify that this is untrue. He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his ordinances unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his ordinances, they have not known them (Psa. 147:19, 20). Who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own way (Acts 14:16). And: And they (Paul and his companions) having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia, when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not (Acts 16:6,7).


Paragraph 6
Who teach: That in the true conversion of man no new qualities, powers, or gifts can be infused by God into the will, and that therefore faith, through which we are first converted and because of which we are called believers, is not a quality or gift infused by God but only an act of man, and that it cannot be said to be a gift, except in respect of the power to attain to this faith.

For thereby they contradict the Holy Scriptures, which declare that God infuses new qualities of faith, of obedience, and of the consciousness of His love into our hearts: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it (Jer. 31:33). And: I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed (Isa. 44:3). And: The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us (Rom. 5:5). This is also repugnant to the constant practice of the Church, which prays by the mouth of the prophet thus: Turn thou me, and I shall be turned (Jer. 31:18).

Paragraph 7
Who teach: That the grace whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle advising, or (as others explain it) that this is the noblest manner of working in the conversion of man, and that this manner of working, which consists in advising, is most in harmony with man's nature; and that there is no reason why this advising grace alone should not be sufficient to make the natural man spiritual; indeed, that God does not produce the consent of the will except through this manner of advising; and that the power of the divine working, whereby it surpasses the working of Satan, consists in this that God promises eternal, while Satan promises only temporal goods.

But this is altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture, which, besides this, teaches yet another and far more powerful and divine manner of the Holy Spirit's working in the conversion of man, as in Ezekiel: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).


Paragraph 8
Who teach: That God in the regeneration of man does not use such powers of His omnipotence as potently and infallibly bend man's will to faith and conversion; but that all the works of grace having been accomplished, which God employs to convert man, man may yet so resist God and the Holy Spirit, when God intends man's regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed that man often does so resist that he prevents entirely his regeneration, and that it therefore remains in man's power to be regenerated or not.

For this is nothing less than the denial of all the efficiency of God's grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of Almighty God to the will of man, which is contrary to the apostles, who teach that we believe according to the working of the strength of his might (Eph. 1:19); and that God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power (II Thess. 1:11); and that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (II Peter 1:3).

Paragraph 9
Who teach: That grace and free will are partial causes which together work the beginning of conversion, and that grace, in order of working, does not precede the working of the will; that is, that God does not efficiently help the will of man unto conversion until the will of man moves and determines to do this.

For the ancient Church has long ago condemned this doctrine of the Pelagians according to the words of the apostle: So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy (Rom. 9:16). Likewise: For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? (I Cor. 4:7). And: For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Giants of Faith

Giants of Faith
Passage Hebrews 11:1-7

Prayer

Dear Father, trustworthy God,You alone are worthy of faith, for you alone have the power to keep promises. Increase my faith, Lord. May I have the full assurance of what I hope for, the firm conviction of the reality of what I do not yet see.Give me faith in your creation and ordering of the world, that what is here is made out of what does not appear.Give me faith like Abel, who sought your approval and whose faith still speaks beyond his death.Give me faith like Enoch, who walked so close to you that you took him to yourself without his having to die.Give me faith like Noah, who was willing to preach your message to an unregenerate and unrepentant world.In the name of Jesus, who died in my place.
Amen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Confident in Christ

Confident in Christ

Passage Hebrews 10:26-39
Prayer

Holy God, who has promised to return,How foolish I would be to keep on sinning after coming to the knowledge of your truth. Give me the strength to forsake whatever sin I become aware of in my life. I submit myself to your examination and ask to see myself as you see me.In the face of suffering or ridicule, I want to stand strong in truth, always aware that confidence and perseverence will be richly rewarded in the life to come.May I not be among those who shrink back and are destroyed, but among those who hold on to faith and keep their souls.In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen.

Is this true of you when you come from church?

Oh how happy it will be for thee if whatever thine end were in going to church, yet, when thou returnest thou canst upon good ground say, "I went forth proud, but am come home humble! I went to church a bond slave of Satan, but I'm returned a free man of Christ. I went out earthly, carnal, a malicious and obstinate sinner; but, forever blessed be the most high God, I am come back a heavenly, spiritual and gracious saint! "
George Swinnock

Holding Fast to Faith

Passage Hebrews 10:19-25

Prayer

Dear Father,Thank you for the confidence I can have to enter your sanctuary. May I draw near to you in faith, full of assurance, with my heart cleansed from a guilty conscience and with my body washed with pure water.Grant that I may hold fast to the confession of my faith, without wavering, since I know that you, the one who promised, is faithful. May my enthusiastic expression of faith stir up fellow Christians to good works.Let me not neglect meeting with my brothers and sisters or fail to remember that we all will be gathered to meet the Lord. May we encourage one another all the more as we see that glorious Day drawing near.I am looking forward to the return of your Son, and it is in his name that I pray.
Amen.

A Perfect Sacrifice

Passage Hebrews 9:11-14

Prayer

Dear Father,Thank you that when Christ appeared as a High Priest, he entered into the Holy Place and took not the blood of bulls and goats, but his own blood, thus securing eternal redemption for us.How much more perfect and pleasing to you was his sacrifice than that of animals, for he offered what was truly perfect-his sinless body.Thank you, Father, that through this offering he has purified my conscience that I might serve you, the true and living God.Infuse my body, soul, and spirit with your grace. Give me a soft and obedient heart that yields readily to your will. Give me a broken and contrite heart that despises sin and yearns for true holiness.Keep me from loving the things of this world. Make me willing to surrender anything that I possess or could possess, that I may walk with you.In the name of Jesus I ask. Amen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

WE REJECT DOCTRINAL ERRORS 5






The Canons of Dort, Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine


 Articles of Faith



-
The Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, &  the M
anner Thereof :



Article 1 
     Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright, all his affections pure, and the whole man was holy. But, revolting from God by the instigation of the devil and by his own free will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and in the place thereof became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity, and perverseness of judgment; became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.

Article 2 
     Man after the fall begat children in his own likeness. A corrupt stock produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all the posterity of Adam, Christ only excepted, have derived corruption from their original parent, not by imitation, as the Pelagians of old asserted, but by the propagation of a vicious nature, in consequence of the just judgment of God.

Article 3 
     Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and are by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto; and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, or to dispose themselves to reformation.

Article 4 
     There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural understanding,[1] whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior. But so far is this understanding of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God and to true conversion that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay further, this understanding, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and hinders in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.

1.  "Light" has been changed to "understanding".

Article 5 
     Neither can the decalogue delivered by God to His peculiar people, the Jews, by the hands of Moses, save men.[1] For though it reveals the greatness of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet, as it neither points out a remedy nor imparts strength to extricate him from this misery, but, being weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor under the curse, man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.

1.  This sentence has replaced the following: "In the same light are we to consider the law of the decalogue, delivered by God to his peculiar people, the Jews, by the hands of Moses."

Article 6 
     What, therefore, neither the innate understanding [1] nor the law could do, that God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word or ministry of reconciliation; which is the glad tidings concerning the Messiah, by means whereof it has pleased God to save such as believe, as well under the Old as under the New Testament.

1.  "Light of nature" has been changed to "innate understanding".

Article 7 
     This mystery of His will God revealed to but a small number under the Old Testament; under the New Testament (the distinction between various peoples having been removed) He reveals it to many. The cause of this dispensation is not to be ascribed to the superior worth of one nation above another, nor to their better use of the innate understanding of God,[1] but results wholly from the sovereign good pleasure and unmerited love of God. Hence they to whom so great and so gracious a blessing is communicated, above their desert, or rather notwithstanding their demerits, are bound to acknowledge it with humble and grateful hearts, and with the apostle to adore, but in no wise curiously to pry into, the severity and justice of God s judgments displayed in others to whom this grace is not given.

1.  "Light of nature" has been changed to "innate understanding of God".

Article 8 
     As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God has most earnestly and truly declared in His Word what is acceptable to Him, namely, that those who are called should come unto Him. He also seriously promises rest of soul and eternal life to all who come to Him and believe.

Article 9 
     It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the Word refuse to come and be converted. The fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the Word of life; others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the Word by perplexing cares and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).

Article 10 
     But that others who are called by the gospel obey the call and are converted is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains); but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who, as He has chosen His own from eternity in Christ, so He calls them effectually in time, confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His own Son; that they may show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and may glory not in themselves but in the Lord, according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.

Article 11 
     But when God accomplishes His good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, He not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit He pervades the inmost recesses of man; He opens the closed and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised; infuses new qualities into the will, which, though heretofore dead, He quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and refractory, He renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

Article 12 
     And this is that regeneration so highly extolled in Scripture, that renewal, new creation, resurrection from the dead, making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation that, after God has performed His part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the Author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. Whereupon the will thus renewed is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence becomes itself active. Wherefore also man himself is rightly said to believe and repent by virtue of that grace received.

Article 13 
     The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended by believers in this life. Nevertheless, they are satisfied to know and experience that by this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart and to love their Savior.

Article 14 
     Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure, but because it is in reality conferred upon him, breathed and infused into him; nor even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will consent to the terms of salvation and actually believe in Christ, but because He who works in man both to will and to work, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe and the act of believing also.

Article 15

     God is under no obligation to confer this grace upon any; for how can He be indebted to one who had no previous gifts to bestow as a foundation for such recompense? Nay, how can He be indebted to one who has nothing of his own but sin and falsehood? He, therefore, who becomes the subject of this grace owes eternal gratitude to God, and gives Him thanks forever. Whoever is not made partaker thereof is either altogether regardless of these spiritual gifts and satisfied with his own condition, or is in no apprehension of danger, and vainly boasts the possession of that which he has not. Further, with respect to those who outwardly profess their faith and amend their lives, we are bound, after the example of the apostle, to judge and speak of them in the most favorable manner; for the secret recesses of the heart are unknown to us. And as to others who have not yet been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not as if they were. But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves towards them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ.

Article 16
     But as man by the fall did not cease to be a creature endowed with understanding and will, nor did sin which pervaded the whole race of mankind deprive him of the human nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death; so also this grace of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor take away their will and its properties, or do violence thereto; but it spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time sweetly and powerfully bends it, that where carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign; in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consist.  Wherefore, unless the admirable Author of every good work so deal with us, man can have no hope of being able to rise from his fall by his own free will, by which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin.

Article 17 
     As the almighty operation of God whereby He brings forth and supports this our natural life does not exclude but require the use of means by which God, of His infinite mercy and goodness, has chosen to exert His influence, so also the aforementioned supernatural operation of God by which we are regenerated in no wise excludes or subverts the use of the gospel, which the most wise God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration and food of the soul. Wherefore, as the apostles and the teachers who succeeded them piously instructed the people concerning this grace of God, to His glory and to the abasement of all pride, and in the meantime, however, neglected not to keep them, by the holy admonitions of the gospel, under the influence of the Word, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical discipline; so even now it should be far from those who give or receive instruction in the Church to presume to tempt God by separating what He of His good pleasure has most intimately joined together. For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more clearly this favor of God, working in us, usually manifests itself, and the more directly His work is advanced; to whom alone all the glory, both for the means and for their saving fruit and efficacy, is forever due. Amen.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

By His Own Blood

Passage Hebrews 8:1-13

Prayer

Dear Father, the Majesty of heaven,Thank you that in Jesus we have a totally understanding and merciful High Priest. He has your authority, seated at the right hand of the throne of your majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and true tabernacle which was set up by you, not men.Thank you that the new covenant we have through him is superior to the old covenant in that it is written on our hearts and minds.I want to know you, O God. I want to obey you. I want to spend my life in your service and eternity in your glory.Remove my wickedness and remember my sins no more.In the name of your holy Son, whose blood has bought my forgiveness, I pray.
Amen.

The Immutable Oath

Passage - Hebrews 6:13-7:28

Prayer

Dear Father, King above all rule and authority on earth,Thank you for your holy and sure promises. Your oath is immutable. In these things in which it is impossible for you to prove false, we who have fled to you for refuge find strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. Thank you for the sure and steadfast anchor you have given our lives, our hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain.There Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become for us a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek - King of Righteousness, King of Peace - a priest for ever by the oath of you yourself - receiver of tithes from Abraham and Aaron - officiating not by right of bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life!Praise, honor, glory, and power to Jesus our High Priest, able for all time to save those who draw near to you through him, Son of God, made perfect for ever! In the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Better Things

Passage - Hebrews 5:11-6:4, 9-12
Prayer

Dear Father,I am eager to be a good learner. I want to get beyond needing milk meant for babies. I want to digest the solid food of your word. I want to be skilled in righteousness, able to distinguish good from evil.Let me move past the elementary teachings of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance. Help me to lay hold of those \"better things\" that belong to salvation.Thank you, God, for remembering the work and love that I render for your sake in serving your holy people. May I realize the assurance of hope right to the end, so that I may not be sluggish, but may imitate those who through faith and patience inherit your promises. In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Risen With Christ

Passage Hebrews 5:7-10

Prayer

Dear Father, Eternal God,Thank you for a high priestly Savior, who in the days of his flesh, offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to you who were able to save him from death.Thank you that you heard him for his godly fear, but that you answered him by raising him from death, rather than saving him from dying. Otherwise we would have had no sacrifice for our sins.Thank you for Jesus' sacrificial death. Thank you for his resurrection, which has been passed on to us through him. For we too have died and been raised through the great love with which you loved us!Thank you, Father, thank you, thank you! We cannot thank you enough! There are not enough words, not even time, not enough breath, not enough strength, to say what we owe you for your great salvation!In the name of Jesus, our High Priest, I pray.
Amen.

Our Great High Priest

Passage Hebrews 4:14-5:6

Prayer

Dear Father, Eternal God,Enable us to hold fast to our confession of Jesus as our great High Priest. We adore him, for even though he passed through the heavens to enter your sanctuary, he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, because in flesh like ours he was tempted just as we are. But unlike us, he bore up under it without sinning. Through his victory, enable us to draw near to your throne of grace, in order that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our times of need so that we can have victory ourselves.How thankful we are for our High Priest, who did not take the honor upon himself. You yourself called him and appointed him to act on our behalf in relating to you. And he offered himself as a gift and sacrifice for our sins.In the name of Jesus, our High Priest, I ask.
Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WE REJECT DOCTRINAL ERRORS 4



The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine

The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby - Rejection of Errors


The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

Paragraph 1 
     Who teach: That God the Father has ordained His Son to the death of the cross without a certain and definite decree to save any, so that the necessity, profitableness, and worth of what Christ merited by His death might have existed, and might remain in all its parts complete, perfect, and intact, even if the merited redemption had never in fact been applied to any person.
     For this doctrine tends to the despising of the wisdom of the Father and of the merits of Jesus Christ, and is contrary to Scripture. For thus says our Savior: I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them (John 10:15, 27). And the prophet Isaiah says concerning the Savior: When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10).  Finally, this contradicts the article of faith according to which we believe the catholic Christian Church.

Paragraph 2 
     Who teach: That it was not the purpose of the death of Christ that He should confirm the new covenant of grace through His blood, but only that He should acquire for the Father the mere right to establish with man such a covenant as He might please, whether of grace or of works.
     For this is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that Christ hath become the surety and mediator of a better, that is, the new covenant, and that a testament is of force where there hath been death (Heb. 7:22; 9:15, 17).


Paragraph 3
     Who teach: That Christ by His satisfaction merited neither salvation itself for anyone, nor faith, whereby this satisfaction of Christ unto salvation is effectually appropriated; but that He merited for the Father only the authority or the perfect will to deal again with man, and to prescribe new conditions as He might desire, obedience to which, however, depended on the free will of man, so that it therefore might have come to pass that either  none or all should fulfill these conditions.

     For these adjudge too contemptuously of the death of Christ, in no wise acknowledge the most important fruit or benefit thereby gained, and bring again out of hell the Pelagian error.

Paragraph 4 
     Who teach: That the new covenant of grace, which God the Father, through the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does not herein consist that we by faith, inasmuch as it accepts the merits of Christ, are justified before God and saved, but in the fact that God, having revoked the demand of perfect obedience of faith, regards faith itself and the obedience of faith, although imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does esteem it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace.
     For these contradict the Scriptures: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood (Rom. 3:24, 25). And these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus, a new and strange justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole Church.

Paragraph 5 
     Who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation on account of original sin, and that no one shall be condemned because of it, but that all are free from the guilt of original sin.
     For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).

Paragraph 6 
     Who use the difference between meriting and appropriating, to the end that they may instil into the minds of the imprudent and inexperienced this teaching that God, as far as He is concerned, has been minded to apply to all equally the benefits gained by the death of Christ; but that, while some obtain the pardon of sin and eternal life, and others do not, this difference depends on their own free will, which joins itself to the grace that is offered without exception, and that it is not dependent on the special gift of mercy, which powerfully works in them, that they rather than others should appropriate unto themselves this grace.

     For these, while they feign that they present this distinction in a sound sense, seek to instil into the people the destructive poison of the Pelagian errors.

Paragraph 7 
     Who teach: That Christ neither could die, nor needed to die, and also did not die, for those whom God loved in the highest degree and elected to eternal life, since these do not need the death of Christ.
     For they contradict the apostle, who declares: Christ loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20). Likewise: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ Jesus that died (Rom. 8:33, 34), namely, for them; and the Savior who says: I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:15). And: This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12, 13).

Living before the Omniscient God

Passage Hebrews 4:13

Prayer

Dear Father, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent,Help me to follow your teachings and live my life according to your will even in unusual or seemingly unimportant circumstances. O Lord, from you nothing is hidden; all things are open and laid bare before your eyes, and to you we give an account of our actions.Let my inmost thoughts and my most secret deeds, which you see and judge anyway, be done in righteous adherence to your teaching, and with a pure heart. And forgive me when I am forgetful or negligent. And if there is rebellion in my spirit, turn me around through your chastisement, that I may turn back to you.In the name of Jesus.
Amen

Sabbath Rest

The Sabbath Rest
Passage Hebrews 3:7-4:11

Prayer

Dear Father,I long to enter into your rest - into creative work that is effortless, into joyous activity in which there is no fatigue, into glorious praise of which I will not tire! Thank you for the Good News that there remains a Sabbath Rest for the people of God.Keep me from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. May I not focus on the glittering things of this world and lose sight of the glorious eternity that awaits me.Let me not fall away from you through faithlessness and disobedience as did your ancient people in the wilderness wanderings. Let no rebellion sprout in my heart against you. May I walk steadfastly and patiently in your paths.May I learn that to enter your rest I must surrender my will.In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Be filled with the fruit of righteousness


Be filled with the fruit of righteousness
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

What does it mean to be filled with the fruit of righteousness – it is to overflow with fruitfulness in the righteousness that we have obtained from Christ.
Every true believer will and must bear fruit in his Christian life. Why did God appoint you? Why have you been chosen of God if indeed you have been chosen? What made God elect you for salvation if you are in salvation? It is that you can bear much fruit! (John 15:16).
This is what our confession of faith states:
All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by His Spirit, and faith, although they are not made thereby one person with Him, have fellowship in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory;[ I John 1:3, 16; Phil. 3:10; Rom. 6:5-6] and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces,[Eph. 4:15-16; I Cor. 12:7; 3:21-23] and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.[I Thess. 5:11, 14; Rom. 1:12; I John 3:17-18; Gal. 6:10]
Psalm 1: 1-6; John 15:1-8
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:1-8

Look trees do not bear fruit for themselves. They bear fruit for others to feed on it! You ought to bear fruit in your children; your relatives and friends etc. You don’t bear fruits for your own glory it is for God’s glory! You should bear
The discipleship is not a mechanical enterprise it is organic and flows from the
Do you wonder why you have had so many trials in your life? It is God’s providential mechanism so that you can bear fruit. Having communion with Jesus Christ and this you do by being very close to the Lord.  That you are not bearing fruit is clear evidence that you might not be in Christthe greatest sign that you are in Christ is that you bear fruit. Every true believer will bring fruit to the kingdom of God. What fruit are you bringing in the kingdom of God? Those who are Christ depend on Christ and are strongly in need of Christ.

Those who have no fruits to bear are as good as in the fire. If you had a shamba and you find out that the orange, mango and pawpaw trees you planted are all fruitless after 5 years – would you continue tending them. No! they must be fruitful and their fruits must be useful – you know that because of the poor politics of this country most of the coffee farmers cut them down.
You are not just required to bear fruit but to much fruit – the weakest Christian bears 30% and it is possible to bear 100%! A genuine Christian is far more fruitful than he recognizes. Look at your life, your family, your friends your colleagues and ask what difference have you made in their lives.
We must abide in Christ's word by a regard to it, and it in us as a light to our feet. We must abide in Christ's merit as our righteousness and plea. We must realize that it in us as our support and comfort to be fruitful. The knot of the branch abides in the vine, and the sap of the vine abides in the branch, and so there is a constant communication between them. You see you are not depending on yourself to bear fruit – you are only a branch attached to the very source of life and so bearing fruit is natural. If you abide in me and my words abide in you then you would be  fruitful. How can you be fruitful? – By feeding in Christ’s Words and being in close communion with Christ in prayer then you would be fruitful.
You have to fight to love and you have to fight to have joy and to love and to read your Bible. Self control comes only by the way of practicing and living it. Trials that come your way are to help you to develop and mature such fruits as love, joy, peace, faith, patience, self-control, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness etc. Gal 5:22-23
What are you doing for the Lord?
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Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:8-16
Many will say that they attend church regularly, give a large portion of their income regularly, and that they pray and read their bible constantly. Do you think this is sufficient service to the Lord? In these activities you do, what spiritual gift are these? What ministry do you do and what sphere do you practice these gifts? What have you accomplished for the Lord in the past that you think you are unable to do now? Is it because of age? Or your new family or job-related commitments? Do you wish for the good old days? Anything that may hinder you from serving the Lord more than you did serve Him in the past should be treated like an idol, because they have claimed God’s place in your life.
What part of your Christian life are you most proud of? What is it that if the Lord came now you would want to tell Him about? Is it the way you have been evangelizing or the way you have been making disciples? Is it the way you have been faithful in your duties or the way you have delighted in the Lord?
How would you account for your time before the Lord? Would you, with a good conscience say, that you have looked carefully how you have been walking, not as unwise but as wise, and that you have been making the best use your time? Eph 5:15-16

Each one of us has a responsibility in the church as long as he has been saved by the Lord and placed in a local church. It is for us to ask ourselves, what is it that we are doing in service to the Master? We should not be content in being spectators in the church. Eric Wright a long serving missionary in Pakistan wrote a book that he called, ‘Church – No Spectator Sport’ and it is an appeal to return to the priesthood of all believers. He says that every member ministry is biblically normative because when the Lord was ascending, He never proposed that His church become a congregation of spectators, rather, when He ascended He gave gifts to men that all may participate in ministry (Eph. 4:8).
How would you discover your gifts?
1.       Taking an inventory of providential preparation
Natural abilities, our education and training, our ministry and work experiences, along with any skills we have acquired, will furnish us with a glimpse of the Spirit’s work in endowing us with gifts. Find out all the jobs, education, jobs, hobbies, interests or talents you that could in any way be used of God in the ministry. First think of yourself outside of your church – in your home, at work the way you spend your leisure time.
2.       Taking inventory of our sense of need
Christians are people who meet needs. Take a moment and consider what greatest concern that you have for the church that you are constantly praying or thinking about as not met as you may want. Then ponder some of the ways that you think you can help. You can as well ask, what is it that I may want improved (removed, added to or something different) in this church? What can I do to help in improving this need? What lacking in the life of my church? We are supposed to pursue this line of reasoning because there is a possibility of repressing some spiritual gifts to the detriment of the church. Unmet needs in the church cry out for ministry.
3.       Taking an inventory of effectiveness
Needs that are met show that there is a spiritually gifted person present. When there is ineffectiveness in the church in particular ministries it shows that there is someone who is not exercising his spiritual gift. People led by the Spirit exercise their gifts inevitably produce spiritual fruit. Think over your own life. In what areas can you recognize some degree of some spiritual effectiveness? Whom have you helped through witnessing, teaching, encouragement, mercy, giving, etc.? do others seek you to talk over your problems? Are there practical things you do like witnessing to your neighbors with other church members, taking food and the gospel to those in prison, counseling young people for marriage etc? Where are you most effective in serving Christ? Where do you see fruit from your labours?
4.      Taking an inventory of enjoyment and fulfillment
God did not create us for misery. When we glorify God we find a deep sense of fulfillment, joy and satisfaction. As much as Christian life calls for suffering and self-denial there is a lot of joy and fulfillment for those Christians who suffer for their faith. Paul was bitten up severally in his endevours to evangelize to the Gentile world and yet He was very happy in Christ. Our desires and aspirations are vital in finding out what one can do for the Lord. You can ask yourself,  if I could be assured of success , what I would most likely want to contribute to my church fellowship? What would you really love to do if you could? As a rule God , God prepares us to find satisfying niche of ministry where we can use our gifts. Are there moments when we find that our minds are a fountain of ideas and methods about how to engage in a certain project or service? Our potential gifts must yield a certain measure of enthusiasm. As much as every ministry must have its share of sacrifices those who find ministry in the areas of their giftedness find great satisfaction.
5.      Taking an inventory in other people’s counsel

6.      Taking adequate time to discover your gifts

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Passage Hebrews 2:5-13

Prayer

Dear Father, King of all,Thank you for subjecting the world to come to our Lord Jesus Christ.Thank you that Jesus was willing for a time to be made lower than the angels and to taste death for every person, according to your grace.Thank you for raising him up and crowning him with glory and honor because of his willingness to carry out your will.I am so thankful that the Lord Jesus was willing to pioneer our salvation, thankful that he was made perfect through what he suffered for us, thankful that he could bring many sons to glory.How generous of him to not be ashamed to call us brethren!In the name of Jesus we ask.
Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Has Your Heart been Operated by the Lord?

Has Your Heart Been Operated By the Lord? Acts 16:1-15 Is it possible for a person who has been operated by God to miss it? Most of those people who have had an operation, will also remember the surgeon who operated them. This is because one would be careful to find out the background and competency of the surgeon before entrusting his life to him. Today I want to introduce you to the best surgeon the world has ever known. A Physician who does not forget any foreign substance in the patient body. Well, I am not sick you say. But I tell you that you are too sick to know that you are sick. Every one of us is sick with a fatal sickness called sin. The disease has killed millions upon millions all over the world. It is the only sickness no government cares to train physicians to deal with it. It is the sickness that very few will admit to have except those who had its cure. It is the only sickness whose patients will not have place in heaven. God will not admit a sinner who has not sought the physician Jesus Christ, whom He provided. So you ought to be ware lest the day comes and finds you sick. 1. The Lord operates with men In the salvation of men the Lord uses people to draw others to salvation. It might be children like it was the case of Augustine. It might be by the conduct of people like the way it was with John Wesley when He saw the conduct of the Moravians during a storm in the Atlantic they were very peaceful praising the Lord with hymns and entrusting themselves to the Lord who had saved. Or it might be in the preaching in a church like the way Spurgeon was saved when he believed the message preached by an inexperienced deacon in a small Methodist church. Or it might be as result of hearing a sermon like I am bringing to you this morning. I bring to me the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ this morning that He is the Saviour and that for men to be saved He uses other men to bring to them the message of salvation. Luke occasionally gives a summary statement to express the progress of the gospel and the church. He has done this in 2:47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24 and thirteen other times. So in verse 5 he tells us that the churches were strengthened in the faith and were daily increasing in number. Notice that the word faith in verse 5 is used technically to mean not the individual person’s trust but the objective faith, that is, the Christian doctrines taught and believed. From the statement the strengthening in faith and the numerical increase of believers was taking place so that there was both spiritual growth and numerical growth of the church. This means that during their stay in Galatia, the missionaries continued to instruct and encourage the believers. The result is that the believers were encouraged and strengthened in the faith. But who were instrumental in the strengthening in the faith and daily increase? It is not angels but men called Paul, Silas, and timothy. Timothy Himself had been converted as a result of believing the message of the gospel from men. What did these missionaries bring to the people? They brought to them the gospel message that you do not need to keep the law for you to be saved but to believe in Jesus Christ. What they preached was “... we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." (Act 15:11). This was the decision that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem (v. 4). Now if God uses men for the salvation of others then we Christians ought to take the sharing and the preaching of the gospel seriously like these missionaries. Paul’s missionary strategy was to preach the gospel first of all in the leading cities so that it can radiate in to the surrounding areas. Although it is a simple strategy, there are good reasons for this: firstly, it is because towns and cities attract people from all the surrounding regions and beyond who can take the message back to their people in their native land. Therefore, you should take this gospel message to your village and you are welcome to request for tracts. Secondly, the town and city dwellers are more endowed in resources than the rural folk and these resources can be used to the furtherance of the gospel. And so you ought to be willing to give your money for the gospel to be preached by those who are willing to your people back at your rural home. Finally, there is a higher possibility of more learned people being in towns than in rural areas who when endowed with the Holy Spirit can be a great asset to the furtherance of the gospel beyond the town. These factors worked well for Paul and it is a very effective strategy where there are few workers. Have you ever requested us to take the gospel to your people back at home, if you consider us to be preaching the gospel that brings salvation? The point is that we ought to have an evangelistic strategy to reach sinners with the gospel. In matter very few are good. There those good and faithful servants who are completely employed in the work of the Saviour that they are ever set to share the faith and so they carry tracts in their handbags and pockets. They are ever willing to open their mouth to bring sinners to Christ. They use their time and resources to advance the course of Christ. They are willing to use the whole of their annual leave in the mission field and so forth. We realize that the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Jesus (v. 8) which simple means that the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus, is in total control and is directing and guiding the missionaries so that they only do that which He wants them to do. He is communicating to them and also preventing them from just doing their will to make sure that they only do His will. We might not know exactly how He might have passed the information to them, (there is a possibility that He used Silas who was a prophet from 15:32). He guided them up to the place that He wanted churches established – Macedonia (v.9). This was simply that the Holy Spirit was making a smooth way for them to take the gospel to a new ground – the continent of Europe having preached in Asia for so long. The Macedonian call was a request for the missionaries to cross over the Aegean sea from Troas to Macedonia, which was the area between the Asia and Italy with Adriatic sea between them. Some of the Macedonian churches that were established during this second missionary journey were, Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica before proceeding to Cenchreae, Corinth, and then Athens as we will find out in chapter 17. In God’s providence the Macedonian were under Roman government and spoke Greek, something that made the missionaries’ work very easy because there was no communication barrier. From Troas Luke includes himself in the company of the missionaries and uses the pronoun ‘we’. Do we ever think of ourselves as if we are part of the team? Paul on entering the region of Macedonia went straight to one of the leading city in the region called Philippi, where they worshipped with God-fearing women on the Sabbath. The city of Philippi was named after Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. The area was known for its fertile plains and gold mines – this explains why the Romans conquered it. Philippi was a leading city in terms of the great school of medicine and flourishing economy as result of agriculture and gold production. On the other hand, Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia. It is in this region of Philippi that a great battle between Mark Antony and Octavian (later called Augustus and was the first Roman emperor. Paul and his colleagues remained in the city for sometime although the experience of the first Sabbath was most memorable. In this city there were many Romans and very few Jews (at least ten male Jews are needed to start a synagogue). So they sought for a place of prayer and in the process stumbled on women who had assembled for the Sabbath meeting, being worshippers in the Jewish way. The women welcomed the visitors and expected an exposition of the Scriptures, something Paul and company were eager to do. Because God uses men in order to bring the gospel to other men, then we are supposed to put every effort to listen to the men who bring to us the Word of God. Where God used Paul to bring the message to Lydia and company her heart was opened to pay attention to what Paul said. How do you ever hope to be saved if you would not allow us pastors to come to your house and explain Scripture to you? How do you hope to be saved if you sleep when the sermon is being preached? How can you be saved if you do not take your time to read the many good books that men have written in order to explain Scriptures to you? If you were too tired to listen through every word in the sermon, please to me and I will facilitate you to obtain this sermon on CD. You must hear the gospel and you must pay attention to it if you are to be saved. 2. The Lord operates in men The particular point where the Lord starts with in bringing salvation to men is in the heart of a sinner. The Bible uses the Word heart to talk about the place where the soul and will of people dwells. As the central organ in the body, forming a focus for its imperative action, it has come to stand for the centre of its moral, spiritual, intellectual life. “In particular the heart is the place in which the process of self-consciousness is carried out, in which the soul is at home with itself, and is conscious of all its doing and suffering as its own” (Oehler). Hence, it is that men of “courage” are called “men of the heart”; that the Lord is said to speak “in his heart” (Gen.8:21); that men “know in their own heart” (Deu.8:5); that “no one considereth in his heart' (Isa.44:19 the AV). “Heart” in this connection is sometimes rendered “mind,” as in Num.16:28 (“of mine own mind) (ISBE) Naturally the heart of every man remains tightly shut against the gospel. Moreover, I am talking about the hearts of all men – as long as there is unbelief, such hearts remain in enmity against God. Even in persons of good moral standing who attend the church regularly, give and do everything to show that they belong to the church, as long as this operation by the Lord has not taken place, they remain ignorant to the gospel and so harbour many prejudices which prevent them from accepting the truth of the gospel and be saved. Before there is this work of the Lord by the agency of the Spirit, the mind of a sinner is unyielding so that it does not respond to the message of the gospel. There is such thought and imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Such thought will not be satisfied by any amount of knowledge or evidence or just by the truth of the gospel – it can only be subdued by the inward work of the Holy Spirit beginning with his will. We read that the Lord made her receptive of the gospel and granted her the gift of faith and illumination of the Spirit. This was the case with Lydia for she was careful to keep the Sabbath, had time of prayer and yet she had to wait on the Lord to operate her heart. This was the case with the Nathaniel, Ethiopian Eunuch, Paul, Cornelius, and many more others even seated here today. One might hear the best of preachers, the best of expositions, be under the most faithful teachings and yet it is until the Lord gives him the conviction and understanding that he believes because salvation originates from the Lord. So we read ‘the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what said by Paul.’ (v.14). He made her attentive and gave her understanding of the gospel. 3. The Lord operates to save men From the conversion of Lydia we can see that clearly always conversion is preceded by preparatory work of hearing the gospel and conviction. This preparatory work may differ from person to person in terms of its duration and extent but the end result is the same – conversion of a sinner who was so opposed to God but is now delighted to be with Him. This process of heart-renewal is indicated in various ways. It is the removal of a “stony heart” (Ezek. 11:19). The heart becomes “clean” (Psa. 51:10); “fixed” (Psa. 112:7) through “the fear” of the Lord (1Sam. 25:1); “With the heart man believeth” (Rom. 10:10); on the “heart” the power of God is exercised for renewal (Jer. 31:33). To God the bereaved apostles pray as a knower of the heart (Act. 1:24 - a word not known to classical writers. From these statements it is evident that two things are essential for the conversion of a sinner – the agency of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the Word. These are the two tools that the Lord uses to outwork the operation of conversion in a sinner. There was a direct personal operation of the Spirit of Jesus on the hearts of those brethren of the churches in Derbe, Lystra and Iconium and that of Lydia. He took away all the obstacles that might have obstructed the truth – Paul could not have done this. Although Paul was an Apostle and was uttering inspired Word, yet it was the work of the Spirit to do this work because Paul himself admits that, “Paul may plant, and Apollos water but God gives the increase!” God alone can open the heart of a sinner. While the Lord opens the heart, He uses the truth as the instrument of conversion of a sinner. You notice the agency of the Spirit always works hand in hand with the Word. This is because we read that the Lord opened her heart so that she might attend to the things which were spoken by Paul. So when a person is born of the Spirit (John 3:5, 6, 8), he is also said to have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (1Pet. 1:23). At the same time while the Holy Spirit is the One involved in the work of sanctification, the Lord prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) so would you pray with David, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law”. (Psa. 119:18) Then among the women there was one from Thyatira who was a wealthy cloth dealer and a devout woman. She listened attentively to the gospel that was being preached by Paul. You realize that it was the Lord’s work to open the heart of Lydia. The Lord had well prepared her heart to heed the gospel through the Old Testament Scriptures before she met with Paul. When the heart was opened, she received the understanding to discern the light of God’s truth, the conscience to feel its convincing power and the heart to believe and receive its sanctifying influence. She had saving faith so that she was saved. When Lydia was saved, she wanted to let everyone know that she had identified with Christ in baptism. In baptism she was showing her submission to the lordship of the Christ. Her household, which would mostly be made of her relatives and servants also followed the example of kinsmen and their employer respectively in following Christ. Moreover, her faith started working in love for she immediately exhibited the gift of hospitality by welcoming the missionaries in her house. Having noticed that the Lord is willing to save, those who will seek Him will find Him, would you look at yourself and ask if indeed you have had this wonderful experience of the opening of your heart? Would you say for sure that you are saved or you are depending on the alter call that you took? Are you saying that I am saved because the preacher laid his hands on you? The question is direct – have had your heart operated by the Lord? I know that most of us have had this wonderful experience when the Lord came into your heart. It is wonderful because when you got converted, the Lord gave you wonderful joy and strength to serve Him. You were more very prayerful ... yes, you would even fast? You used to be consistent in reading the Bible, you would go for camps and retreats and conventions. But now it seems like your spiritual life has stagnated at best and dead at worst. You would be embarrassed to tell your boss that you are saved because you are not so faithful in your job, I mean, reporting late for work. And so rarely would you talk about Christ. The women in Philippi are introduced as those who were in prayer when the missionaries came. How is your prayer life? Do you have specific times of prayer? I do not mean the when you are giving thanks for food; I mean time when you pray. Would it be that you do not have a consistent prayer life? Many of us have neglected the prayer meetings and yet they do not have private devotional time and the effect is a weak spiritual life. What would you pinpoint is the way faith is working out in love in your life? Who are the people that you have extended hospitality? Since the Lord has operated our hearts by His Spirit and His Word, we are to walk in the newness of life as healthy Christians. As those who have met the Lord Jesus and have had their lives transformed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Attention to Teaching

Passage Hebrews 2:1-4

Prayer

Dear Father,Help me to pay close attention to all of your teaching, lest I drift away from it. How shall I escape if I neglect so great a salvation Thank you for your message of hope. Thank you for the teaching of repentance and the kingdom that was proclaimed by the Lord himself and then passed on by his emissaries to the world, and then to my generation, then to me.Thank you for the signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit by which you bore witness to the truth of this message.Father, let me live in the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus, that wonderful Good News that you love us and want to make of us your pure and holy children.For this, Father, all praise, honor, glory and dominion belong to you.In the name of Jesus I ask. Amen.

The Preeminence of Christ

Passage Hebrews 1:1-14
Prayer

Dear Father, father of our Lord Jesus Christ,Thank you for speaking through the prophets of old, bit by bit, in first one way, then another. Help me not to be slow of heart but to believe all they have said. Thank you most of all for speaking to us through your Son. You made him heir of all things and through him you created the world. We give glory to you because this one who shines forth with your glory and bears the very stamp of your nature. He upholds the world by his power. Thank you for him, this one who is our Savior, the one who purifies us from our sins. Thank you for exalting him high above all angels, for giving him a name more excellent than theirs, and for causing him to sit on your right hand in your majestic splendor.Our wonderful Lord wields a scepter of righteousness! His throne is for ever and ever. Thank you for this changeless and faithful Savior of ours! Thank you!In the name of Jesus I pray.
Amen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Heir of Hope

Passage Titus 3:4-15

Prayer

Dear Father,Thank you that your goodness and loving kindness have appeared. Thank you for saving me, not because of my righteous deeds, but in virtue of your own mercy, totally undeserved, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. You richly poured it out on me through Jesus Christ, my Savior.Thank you for doing all this so that I might be justified by your grace and become an heir in hope of eternal life! Thank you that I can be sure of all these things, because you said so.Help me apply myself to good deeds, which are excellent and profitable to me. Teach me to avoid stupid arguments that are unprofitable and futile. Help me to be all that you want me to be!May your grace continue with me and with all whose love arises in faith.In the name of Jesus, the all-wise and blessed Savior. Amen.

The Wisdom to Respect

Passage Titus 3:1-3

Prayer

Dear Father,Help me to have respect for rulers and authorities, to be submissive and obedient. Help me to be ready for any honest work, and to speak evil of no one.Help me to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to every one.Help me not to be foolish, disobedient, or led astray. Help me not to be a slave to various passions and pleasures, or to pass my days in malice or envy, hating others or being hated by them.In the name of Jesus, the all-wise and blessed Savior. Amen.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Renouncing Worldliness

Passage Titus 2:4-14
Prayer

Dear Father,Help me to be submissive to others' needs, to give them satisfaction, to show entire and true fidelity, so that in everything I may adorn your teaching, my God and Savior, my Teacher.I want to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live a sober, upright and godly life in this world. I want to wait for (and hasten!) the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works.Please purify me, even as Christ is pure, through the blessed hope of his ultimate and world-wide, and yet personal, redemption.In the precious name of Jesus.
Amen.

A Model of Good Deeds

Passage Titus 2:1-8

Prayer
Dear Father, whose word is sound doctrine,Let me teach by word and example what conforms to the sound doctrine of your word. Help me to be temperate, serious, sensible, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.Let me show myself in all respects to be a model of good deeds, and in my teaching and example to show integrity, gravity, and sound expression that cannot be criticized, so that any one who opposes your teaching may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of me.In the precious name of Jesus.
Amen.

A Pure Mind

Passage Titus 1:15-16

Prayer

Dear Father,Let me have a pure mind, so that all things may be pure to me. For to the corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure. Their minds and consciences are corrupted, and professing to know you, they deny you by their deeds. They are detestable and disobedient, unfit for any good deed.O God, I want to flee from all such behavior and be yours alone. Guide my mind and keep my heart and move my body! Give me salvation, sincerity, and selflessness.In the holy name of Christ Jesus I ask it.
Amen.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Escaping Evil, Embracing Truth

Escaping Evil, Embracing Truth

Passage 2 Timothy 2:22-26
Prayer

Dear Father,
Help me to escape evil passions and to aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with all who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.Give me the wisdom to avoid stupid, senseless quarrels and controversies. Help me to be kind and forbearing toward everyone, teaching and correcting with gentleness any who may oppose your doctrine.My God, grant those who are estranged from you in mind to be persuaded by the truth and turn in repentance toward you, that they may escape from the devil after having been captured by him to do his will.In the name of Jesus I ask.
Amen.

YOU ARE A GIFTED PERSON!

YOU ARE A GIFTED PERSON!

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1Peter 4:8-11)

How many gifts of the spirit are there? How many have you received from Him? How far have you improved on them? Everyone has more than one gift! The rule is that whatever gift, ordinary or extraordinary, whatever power, ability, or capacity of doing good is given to us, we should minister, or do service, with the same one to another, accounting ourselves not masters, but only stewards of the manifold grace, or the various gifts, of God. This means that whatever ability we have of doing good we must own it to be the gift of God and ascribe it to his grace. Whatever gifts we have received, we ought to look upon them as received for the use one of another. We must not assume them to be for ourselves or for our benefit. We also must not hide, burry or sell them but use them to profit the church in the best manner we are able.
In receiving and using the manifold gifts of God we must look upon ourselves as stewards only, and act accordingly. The talents we are entrusted with are our Lord's goods, and must be employed as he directs. And it is required in a steward that he is found faithful. In this passage we have two categories of gifts and the list is not exhaustive –ministering and speaking gifts.
1.      I Possess Gifts For Ministering!

Since I possess the gift of love, therefore I should love fervently (v. 8)
The gift that you have to start with is the gift of love, And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves,” (v.8). Christians ought to love one another, which implies an affection to their persons, a desire of their welfare, and an enthusiastic endeavor to promote it. It should be fervent, sincere, strong, and lasting. And it is recommended above all things, Col.3:14. Love is greater than faith or hope, 1Cor.13:13. One excellent effect of it is that it will cover a multitude of sins. It persuades Christian believers to forgive and forget offences against themselves, to cover and conceal the sins of others, rather than to exaggerate them and spread them abroad. It teaches us to love those who are but weak, and who have been guilty of many evil things before their conversion; and it prepares for mercy at the hand of God, who hath promised to forgive those that forgive others, Mat.6:14.
This love is to be exercised first of all among Christians. You ought to practice your love with your own before you take it to others just like Rudisha will first all train in Kasarani before going to Daegu. It therefore goes without saying that there ought to be fervent charity towards one another than towards other men.
We are instructed to let it to continue, Heb.13:1. We are to do everything possible to make it flourish just like a farmer will tender and weed his maize in order to get a bumper harvest.  It is not enough for Christians not to bear hatred, nor to have common respect for one another, they must intensely and fervently love each other. Because it is the interest of love to cover a multitude of sins.
I must show hospitality (v.9)
This is free and kind treatment of strangers and travelers. The proper objects of Christian hospitality are one another. However sometimes there were those who were strangers because of relations yet brethren in Christ. These were most of the time kicked out of their countries and places by their civil authorities who were inimical to the gospel of Christ. Sometimes Christians were spoiled of all they had, and were driven away to distant countries for safety. In this case they must starve. There were many others who were strangers because they were engaged in the work of broadcasting the gospel of grace – itinerating evangelists. Therefore it was a wise and necessary rule which the apostle here laid down. It is elsewhere commanded, Heb.13:1, Heb.13:2; Rom.12:13. If their fellow-Christians would not receive them who would?
How were they to carry out this ministry? Having had the gift then they were to do it  in an easy, kind, handsome manner, without grudging or grumbling at the expense or trouble. It is clear then because of the love that compels a Christian to do good to others then, whatever a Christian does by way of charity or of hospitality, he ought to do it cheerfully, and without grudging. Freely you have received, freely give.

1.      I Possess Gifts For Speaking!
I know that many of you thinks that they do not have the gifts of tongue! Many believe that they are not able to preach – something that the Bible concurs. However, as long as you are able to communicate even those who cannot talk or hear you still ought to use it to pass the message of the gospel to others.
You know that God has given you His oracles.  If any man, whether a publically or privately minister the gospel, he should speak or teach, he must do it as the oracles of God. God has given us His Word which is able to make us wise for salvation. We know the will of God and this is what we are to pass on to others who will do the same - and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2Timothy 2:2).
We are called to always preach, teach and speak must be the pure word and oracles of God. As to the manner of speaking, it must be with the seriousness, reverence, and solemnity, that the divine oracles deserve.
 If any man minister, either as a deacon, distributing the alms of the church and taking care of the poor, or as a private person, by charitable gifts and contributions, let him do it as of the ability which God gives
He who has received plenty and ability from God ought to minister plentifully, and according to his ability. These rules ought to be followed and practiced for this end, that God in all things, in all your gifts, ministrations, and services, may be glorified. So that others may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matt.5:16), through Jesus Christ, who has procured and given these gifts to men (Eph.4:8). Through whom we and our services are accepted of God (Heb.13:15) as acceptable. To whom, Jesus Christ, be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
So you might ask what are some of the gifts of speaking?
There are those who preach
Teach/train
Rebuke/admonish
Correct/guide/counsel

So we learn that, First, It is the duty of Christians in private, as well as ministers in public, to speak to one another of the things of God, Mal.3:16; Eph.4:29; Psa.145:10-12.
Secondly, It highly concerns all preachers of the gospel to keep close to the word of God, and to treat that word as becomes the oracles of God.
Thirdly, Christians must not only do the duty of their place, but they must do it with energy and vitality, and according to the best of their abilities. The truth of the matter is that the nature of a Christian's work, which is high work and hard work is made easier by the goodness and kindness of the Master. The excellency of the reward require that our work should be serious and vigorous, and that whatever we are called to do for the honor of God and the good of others we should do it with all our might.
Fourthly, In all the duties and services of life we should aim at the glory of God as our chief end.  All other issues must be subservient to this, which would sanctify our common actions and affairs, 1Cor.10:31.
 Fifthly, God is not glorified by any thing we do if we do not offer it to him through the mediation and merits of Jesus Christ. God in all things must be glorified through Jesus Christ, who is the only way to the Father.
Sixthly, The apostle's adoration of Jesus Christ, and ascribing unlimited and everlasting praise and dominion to him, prove that Jesus Christ is the most high God, over all blessed for evermore. Amen.