Showing posts from October, 2010

Prayer: Perfumed by His Blood

(An article on prayer by Douglas F. Kelly)

It is easy to speak about Christianity and doctrine and theology and morals and ethics. But in their hearts, many people want to know, "Can God be real for me? Can I touch Him? Could He touch me? Can things in my life be different because of God’s moving and making that difference?" Let me ask you, "Would you like some things to be different? Do you have things on your mind and heart that you are not able to change?" Maybe it seems that some things that concern you are beyond any human help you can think of. If so, you are reading the right article. God has brought this to you.

The first nine verses of Revelation 8 show us how things can be different; things which seem to be beyond any human power any sort of mastery of the will, or quite beyond any worldly circumstances. God uses word images here to help us understand profound spiritual truth—He can intervene! God can change your situation! God can make it profoundly diffe…

Persistent Praying Presupposes Faith

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary....And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
- Luke 18:1-8

The main thing that we need to see in the parable and the concluding statement made by our Lord Jesus in verse 8 is that God will vindicate His elect. God will give justice to His people who have been crying out day and night for vindication. In other words, we can keep on praying for the kingdom of God to come because God will surely hear us and will deliver us from all our woes in this life.

Notice that…

Why Pray Persistently?

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' 4 "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" 6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" ~ Luke 18:1-8

When Jesus told this parable to His disciples what was the si…

Perseverance and Prayer

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." - Luke 18:1

As disciples of Jesus Christ and citizens of the kingdom of God you and I are engaged in constant battle. We live in a day not unlike the days of Noah and Lot when wickedness has reached its limit and when people were more interested in goods and good times than God. Probably the only difference is that wickedness and perversity in our day is more sophisticated than their time. But the struggle for the righteous to remain faithful to the Lord remains the same.

And sometimes the battle can be fierce and tiresome, when unbelievers become aggressive in persecuting or marginalizing Christians, as in the case of many places around the world like North East Africa, the Middle East and China. Surely many Christians from those regions long harder for relief and vindication from the Lord.

But this battle can also be subtle. I say that because we wage war not only against …

The Gospel-blockers

"14For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last." - 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15.

Paul describes here these unbelieving Jews in verses 15-16 as killers both of the Lord Jesus and the prophets. What Paul means here is that they were the ones responsible for the death of Christ and the prophets of the Old Testament.

Paul also says that they were his persistent persecutors and pursuers. Wherever Paul and his companions go to preach the Word these Jews also follow them, preventing them from speaking to the Gentiles about the message of Christ’s sa…

Willing to Suffer for the Sake of Christ

"For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,..."
- 1 Thessalonians 2:14

Having heard, received and accepted the Word of God, the Thessalonian saints became imitators of the churches in Judea. In what way did they become imitators of these churches? These churches that the Thessalonians imitate are in Palestine, where many Jews live. These churches are in Christ Jesus, which means they are in union with and belong to Christ. They are to be distinguished from the assemblies of Jews that are also in Judea but are not followers of Jesus Christ.

“Being in Christ Jesus is what makes a group of people a distinctively Christian Church,” says one scholar.[1] Another commentator notes that these churches are composed of “the original church of God in Jerusalem (cf. Gal 1:13; 1 Cor 15:9), now in dispersion (as a result of the persecution which broke ou…

Embracing God’s Word

"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." - 1 Thessalonians 2:13

Do you know what makes your missionaries really joyful in the field? It's not the monthly or quarterly financial support that you send them, though that is very important. It's not the regular letter or email of encouragement that you write them, though that is also very helpful. No. What brings real gladness to every missionary, and even to every minister, is when they see the people they are serving believe and embrace the Word of God.

Tremendous joy can overwhelm every pastor's and missionary's heart when they witness the Word of God working effectively in the lives of the people they minister. It's that kind of delight parents feel when they see their children promptly and wholeheartedly obey their word. …

Finding Grace in Drawing Near God

(Another meditation on Hebrews 4:16)

If we draw near to God with confidence on the basis of Christ's atoning sacrifice and as our sinless High Priest, we draw near Him for the purpose of obtaining mercy and finding grace (v.16b). God calls us to come boldly into His throne of grace for there we find mercy and grace to help in time of need.

A minister once said, “Prayer is our supply line to God in the battle. His abundant, sustaining grace flows to us through prayer. Because prayer is so vital, the enemy tries to sever that supply line. When we suffer, the enemy often whispers, 'God doesn’t care about you and He isn’t answering. Why waste your time with these worthless prayers?' It’s easy to get discouraged and quit praying, which cuts us off from the very help that we need!”

The Hebrew believers’ problem is that instead of drawing near to God they are in danger of drawing back (10:35). Instead of facing persecution, they seem to be discouraged to the point of going back …

Drawing Near God With Confidence

Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

The verse tells us to draw near the throne of grace with confidence. The word confidence is sometimes translated as “boldly” or “with boldness”. Confidence describes the manner or attitude of our approach to God’s throne. That throne itself is characterized as a place of grace. So anyone who comes to this throne must admit his unworthiness, his undeserveness, and recognize that access to it is only through the gracious privilege granted by God.

Through Jesus our Great High Priest we can come boldly before God and expect to find His grace rather than His wrath. Unlike the Old Testament people of God under Moses who were terrified and trembling at the presence of the Lord, we as the new covenant people may come boldly before Him in prayer. We can always stop and pause at work, at school, or at home and reach out in prayer to appr…

The Lord's Lovingkindness

In Psalm 33:5b, the psalmist continues to remind the congregation that God is not only truthful in His word and faithful in His works, not only that He delights in justice and righteousness, but also that ‘the earth is full of His unfailing love.’ The word unfailing love in the original language is the same as lovingkindness or steadfast love in other translations. Lovingkindness is a concrete manifestation of God’s goodness.

The idea of God’s lovingkindness in this verse is that of a general favor toward all the earth. But lovingkindness is commonly used to refer to God’s special favor toward His own chosen people. This is especially clear in v. 12 where God pronounces blessing upon Israel, His chosen people, whom God has called to be a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, a people belonging to Him.

As God's new covenant people, God’s blessing and special favor rest upon us, the church, through Jesus Christ. As such, God has called us out of the kingdom of darkness into His marve…

Praising the Lord Our God - Part 2

[The LORD] loves righteousness and justice... ~ Psalm 33:5a

God "loves righteousness and justice." Righteousness and justice are two closely related moral attributes of God, akin to His holiness and wrath, whereby ‘He maintains Himself as the Holy One over against every violation of His holiness’ (Louis Berkhof, A Summary of Christian Doctrine, p.33). Our God delights in doing what is right and just because He is righteous and just.

As the Creator and Lord over all the earth, He governs the whole world with righteousness and justice. And how does He do that? Through His law which is the standard of His righteousness.

Essential to the notion of righteousness is conformity and obedience to the law of God. The world is full of wickedness and injustice because it rejects the law of God. Our society in general abhors the law of God. In its rebellion against the righteous rule of God the world is under judgment. That’s why Paul says, “the wrath of God is being revealed from heav…

Praising the Lord Our God

Psalm 33:4

In corporate worship, God invites us to come before His presence and be awed by His glory and majesty. As we listen to Him speaking through His life-giving Word, we respond in humility, confessing our unworthiness. We also respond in joyful thanksgiving to Him through our songs and prayers for all the good gifts He gives us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In worshiping God, our highest aim is to magnify Him, to exalt His glory and all His wonderful attributes. It is not to entertain ourselves or make ourselves feel good. Yet in worshiping God, we find Him satisfying our deepest, most basic longing, that is, to glorify the One who is worthy of praise, the One who gives us life and its meaning.

When God’s people find themselves worshiping in His presence, God Himself finds them doing what is right for "praise is becoming to the upright" (Ps. 33.1). Praise is fitting to the saints of the Lord for that’s the reason why you and I were created.

Psalm 33 tells us that …

God's Faithful Provision - Part 2

Another meditation on Luke 12:22-31 and Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 50

There are times when we wonder, “Since God knows our daily needs and since He promises to give us those needs anyway, why then should we ask for them?” The Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 50 gives us reasons why we ought to ask God for those needs.

First of all, in asking God to provide for our daily physical needs, we are acknowledging that He alone is the source of our daily provision. By praying this request - "Give us this day our daily bread" - we are actually confessing that God is our faithful provider. As in the words of James 1.17, we are acknowledging that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

And we ought to pray this daily, just as we need to ask forgiveness for our sins daily. Yes, God has promised to provide for us and to forgive us our sins, yet He also expects us …

God's Faithful Provision

A meditation based on Luke 12:22-31 and Lord's Day 50 of the Heidelberg Catechism

My family and I have the privilege which many of you may not have. We have lived both in an eastern third-world setting and in a western more affluent culture in the United States. While there are marked differences between these cultures in terms of socio-economic situation, both cultures are actually plagued by common challenges and problems. Whether you are in the Philippines or in the US, you will see people struggling against greed, idolatry, and materialism.

And the fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer becomes relevant and illuminating as we will see how the request, “Give us this day our daily bread,” speaks to our current situation.

Some of you might be thinking that this prayer is more appropriate for many people living in poor communities in many slum areas of Metro Manila or any metropolis. I mean when was the last time you prayed, “Lord, I ask that you would provide for my next meal.” …


Another meditation on 1 Timothy 3:15-16

The Apostle Paul says, “I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and [foundation] of the truth.” After saying that the church is the household of God and of the living God, Paul concludes that the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

You know what, right at the heart of Ephesus was the place of the temple to the goddess Artemis (or Diana), which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (cf. Acts 19:26-27). It had 127 pillars around it. Each pillar, about 18 meters tall, was a gift of a king. All of them were made of marble, and some were covered with jewels and overlaid with gold. The function of the pillars was not just decoration but also to hold up the immense roof.

Most probably Paul is alluding to these pillars of Artemis' temple when he says that the church is the pillar and foundation whic…

Be Watchful of Your Doctrine

A meditation on 2 Peter 3:17

"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability."

We need to be warned of the danger of false teaching and its natural outcome, that is, greed and immorality. It is true that the Scripture is quite clear when it comes to many teachings. Salvation or redemption from sin, for example, is clear from the Bible that it is from God alone, by His grace alone and to be received only by faith in Christ alone. Salvation is not by faith plus our good works. Rather the Scripture teaches that salvation by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone, results in holy living and produces good works in the lives of those who are saved.

However, there are portions of Scripture that are not easy to interpret. Peter admits that some of Paul's letters contain some things that are hard to understand. These hard-to-understand writings of Paul and other hard passag…