Thursday, November 27, 2008

Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations

I think these speak for themselves...

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Friday, November 21, 2008

Found By Jesus, and Finding Jesus- C. H. Spurgeon

Philip accepted Christ as the Messiah. Do you ask, "What am I to do that I may find the Saviour?" Well, what you have to do is practically this, accept him. If you were sick, and the doctor stood before you, with the medicine ready prepared, you would not say, "What am I to do with this medicine, sir? Am I to rub my hand on the outside of the bottle?" You know very well that there are certain directions as to how much is to be taken, and how often. What you have to do with the medicine is to take it. "But I cannot make that medicine work for my restoration." Who said you could? All you have to do is to take it. It is just this that you have to do with Christ; take him, accept him, receive him. Remember the twelfth verse of this chapter out of which our text is taken: "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." That is it, you see, receive him, believe on his name. "But surely I am to do some good works." Certainly, you will do good works after you have received Christ; but for your soul's salvation, you are to do no good works, but simply to receive Christ. "Oh, but I must lead a holy life!" Yes, and you will lead a holy life after you have received Christ; but in order to the leading of a holy life you must have a new heart, and to get a new heart, you have to receive Christ. He will change you, he will renew you, he will make you a new creature in himself. What you have to do is to receive him, and to believe on his name. O my dear hearers, I do trust that I am speaking to some this evening who will understand what I am saying. I fear that I am addressing many who will not believe, though I may put the truth as plainly as it can be preached. You know that you may hold a candle right against a blind man's eyes, and yet he will not see even then. The Holy Spirit must open your eyes to see what is meant by this receiving Christ, or else you will not understand what you are to do. You are not to give anything to Christ; you are to take all from him. You are not to give anything to Christ; you are to take all from him. You are not to bring anything to Christ; you are to come to him just as you are, and he will bring to you everything that you need. Then, when you have accepted him by the simple act of faith, you will say with Philip, "We have found Jesus." That is the convert's description, and a very good one, too: "We have found Jesus."


And when you yielded yourself up to Christ, when you believed in Jesus, and found salvation, where did that faith come from? Is it not always the work of the Spirit of God? Is not faith the gift of God, and do you not confess that it is so in your case? Once, when I was a little child, I thought I saw a needle moving across the table; and I should have been wondering who made the needle march as it did, but I was old enough to understand that somebody was moving a magnet underneath the table, and the needle was following the magnet which I could not see. Thus the Lord, with his mighty magnet of grace, is often at work upon the hearts of men, and we think that their desire after God, and their faith in Christ, are of themselves. In a sense, the desire and the faith are their own; but there is a divine force that is at work upon them, producing these results. It is Jesus finding Philip, though Philip does not know it. Philip thinks that he is finding Jesus, but behind the veil it is Jesus finding Philip. This was the previous work.


Please to notice also that Philip was found by Christ in a very different way from the other disciples. Two of them had been found through the teaching of John the Baptist; but Philip had apparently had no teaching. Another of the little company had been found through the private call of his brother; Philip may not have had any relative or friend to speak to him, but the Saviour just said to him, "Follow me," and he followed him. Dear friends, do not begin comparing your conversion with somebody else's. If the Lord Jesus Christ calls you, and says to you, "Follow me," and you follow him, if there never was another soul converted in exactly the same way, it does not matter at all. If you have come to him, if you have trusted in him, you are saved.


The pith of all that I have to say is this. Do not get worrying yourselves, as some of you do, about God's eternal purpose, and about the secret working of the Holy Spirit, and about how this can be consistent with your following Christ when he bids you. They are perfectly consistent. Some persons have asked me at times to reconcile these two things; and I have said to them, "Very well, tell me the difficulties, and I will reconcile them." It would be quite as easy to state them as to meet them, for in fact there are none. "Oh, but," says one, "you tell me to believe in Christ, and yet you constantly preach that faith is the work of the Spirit of God." I do. "And yet you say that men are to choose Christ?" I do. "Well, how do you reconcile those two things?" Show me that there is any difficulty about the two things, and then I will reconcile them. You imagine the difficulty, for there is none in reality, there does not exist any in practical life. I believe that God has predestinated whether I am going down to the Lord's supper at the close of this service; but I shall go down as well as my legs can carry me. "Oh!" say you, "you make it out to be a matter of your own free will?" Yes, I do. "And yet you believe it to be God's eternal purpose?" Yes, I do. "Well, then, reconcile the two things." Again I say that there is no difficulty in the case, there is nothing to be reconciled, for both statements are true. You might as well ask me to reconcile the land and the water, or to reconcile the dog star, Sirius, and a farthing rushlight. There is no quarrel between them, and I have no time to waste on needless argument. Come you to Christ; and if you do, it will be because the Holy Spirit draws you. If you find the Saviour, it will be because the Saviour first found you. Perhaps, in heaven, you may see some difficulties, and get them explained; down here, you need not see them, and you need not ask to have them explained. Salvation is all of God's grace, from first to last; yet is it true that the grace of God leads men to do what Moses did, according to our subject this morning,*—to make a choice and to choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. God grant that you may make an equally wise choice!

But I Know Whom I Have Believed

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.

- Daniel W. Whittle

I love how the portraits of God saving people in the Scriptures show both God's perspective and the human perspective. I know I love God because He first loved me! I know I laid hold of Christ because He first laid hold of me! And I know that God's Spirit drew me effectually and yet I was not "dragged kicking and screaming into the Kingdom" but accepted/received/came to Christ willingly (ironically it was an Arminian who used the phrase "dragged kicking and screaming" of his own conversion...)!

You can listen to my brother Rick Kelley's excellent sermon on the beginnings of spiritual life in the heart of the Samaritan woman at the well here.

It is the third part to an exposition of the steps Jesus took the woman through in saving her. Rick plans on adding more!

The Samaritan Woman
The Samaritan Woman, Part 2

Friday, November 14, 2008

Who's running the government?

This past Lord's Day, I had the rich blessing of worshiping with the brethren at Covenant Baptist Church in Lumberton, NJ. I am thankful for the many kind brothers and sisters I met, plus the teaching was exactly what I needed for my encouragement and edification! The text for the AM preaching was the following, which I posted on my blog the prior Wednesday.

Isaiah 9
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

You can listen to the sermon here. Here are my sermon notes:

1. The Government
- the government of God's nation- "rule" or "dominion"

1 Chronicles 29
10 Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said:
Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.
11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.
12 Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.
13 “Now therefore, our God,
We thank You
And praise Your glorious name.
14 But who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?
For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You.

- there is only one "superpower" since God rules over all!
- this is opposed to the "local gods" of history and of today
- we have "local gods" today when we know and believe our Bibles but do not love it or apply it to our entire lives, when we only take in as much Bible as we can tolerate- the world only wants the salt and pepper of religion and God to them means "Guaranteed Overnight Delivery"

Psalm 47:2- "For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth."

Psalm 83:18- "That they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, are the
Most High over all the earth."

Psalm 103:19- "The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all."

Psalm 115:3- "But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

Psalm 135:6- "Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places."

Daniel 4:35- "All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, 'What have You done?'"

- the government is in the hands of God
- these times are testing our faith in this truth

2. The Governor
- continuity of government depends on a son

Psalm 72
1 Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.
2 He will judge Your people with righteousness,
And Your poor with justice.
3 The mountains will bring peace to the people,
And the little hills, by righteousness.
4 He will bring justice to the poor of the people;
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.
5 They shall fear You
As long as the sun and moon endure,
Throughout all generations.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing,
Like showers that water the earth.
7 In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more.
8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him,
And His enemies will lick the dust.
10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
Will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba
Will offer gifts.
11 Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;
All nations shall serve Him.
12 For He will deliver the needy when he cries,
The poor also, and him who has no helper.
13 He will spare the poor and needy,
And will save the souls of the needy.
14 He will redeem their life from oppression and violence;
And precious shall be their blood in His sight.
15 And He shall live;
And the gold of Sheba will be given to Him;
Prayer also will be made for Him continually,
And daily He shall be praised.
16 There will be an abundance of grain in the earth,
On the top of the mountains;
Its fruit shall wave like Lebanon;
And those of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
17 His name shall endure forever;
His name shall continue as long as the sun.
And men shall be blessed in Him;
All nations shall call Him blessed.
18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
19 And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.
20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

- the entire government is literally upon the back of the Son; it is the one truly "glorious burden"
- Christ's names tell of His qualifications to bear the world as His glorious burden
- Wonderful Counselor- He has no cabinet apart from the Trinity; we give no counsel to our Governor, but He counsels us by His Spirit
- Mighty God- He is God, through whom the world was created, and He worked miracles
- Everlasting Father- not that He is the Father, but He runs it in the spirit of a father
- Prince of Peace- He came preaching the gospel of peace and established His Kingdom

3. The Future
- verse 7- toward abundance and soundness
- means "in the direction of"- the spread of His Kingdom won't be automatic but in the progress of history over time
- we should never be discouraged by one event or one period of time- 1 Corinthians 15:24- "Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power."
- we don't have to fear because no government can get in the way of Christ's Kingdom- Matthew 28:18- "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."
- the early church, and we, must preach Christ as the living Savior and Prince of Life- Acts 2-3

4. The Promise
- that we have the power of the resurrection
- we see this power throughout church history: ex. the Reformation, growth through persecution
- Jesus' victory will be a landslide!
- He is called "the Lord of Hosts"- He has the majority
- He always has a remnant- Elijah was told God had 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal
- the zeal of the Lord- God will never give up on redeeming His chosen people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation
- you can't argue with the cross, for it is the love and grace of God toward sinners

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Thoughts on Giving Thanks for Barack Obama

John Piper writes the following:

How does the Bible instruct us to pray for “all who are in high positions”? It says,

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4).

A few observations:

1. Giving thanks “for kings” is hard when they are evil.

And, as Calvin said on this passage, “All the magistrates of that time were sworn enemies of Christ.” This shows us that anarchy is a horrible alternative to almost any ruler.

We should give thanks for rulers because “non-rule” would unleash on us utterly unbridled evil with no recourse whatever.

Again Calvin: “Unless they restrained the boldness of wicked men, the whole world would be full of robberies and murders.” The better we understand the seething evil of the human heart that is ready to break out where there is no restraint, the more thankful we will be for government.

2. The effect we pray for is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and dignified in every way.”

Dignified means “serious and reverent,” not stuffy. I suspect what Paul means is not that we can’t live godly and serious lives during times of anarchy. We can. I suspect he means that peaceful and quiet lives, which are the opposite of anarchy, are often wasted in ungodly and frivolous actions.

So he is praying for a government that would give peace and quiet (not anarchy), and that Christians would not fritter away their peaceful lives with the world, but would be radically godly and serious about the lost condition of the world and how to change it.

3. Using our peace for radical godliness and serious action will lead to more effective evangelism and world missions.

This last observation is confirmed by the hoped-for outcome Paul mentions. Paul says that the reason God delights in such peaceful, Godward, serious action is that he “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

More people will be saved if our government restrains the horrors of anarchy, and if Christians use this peace not to waste their lives on endless entertainment, but seriously give their lives to making God known.

Giving Thanks for Barack Obama

My co-worker Robb Brunansky wrote an excellent entry that expresses some of my own thoughts:

While I am deeply grieved as I consider the prospects for the unborn over the next several years, perhaps decades, as a result of the past election, in another sense, part of me is thankful Obama won. Now, before you castigate me as a turncoat, a post-conservative, post-evangelical, post-whatever pseudo-Christian, let me explain. A couple days following the election, Dr. Mohler (whom I respect more and more the more that I see his leadership and biblical thoughtfulness) was interviewed by ABC news. In the interview, he made this comment: “It [The election outcome] just ought to remind many Christians we have placed too much confidence in the political process in the first place.” A few days earlier, my former professor, Pat Howell, encouraged Christians to pour as much energy into the Great Commission as they do the United States elections. I think these two comments are a great complement to one another. I think these two comments are a great complement to one another, and I do not believe their relationship would have been seen clearly like it is today if Obama had lost.

As American Christians, we have placed far too much faith in the political process. The Bible clearly tells us not to trust in princes, in whom there is no salvation. We know that the world system lies in the power of the evil one, and that the nations rage against God and against His Messiah. Peter reminded us not to be surprised when we undergo intense persecution, and Jesus Himself told us not to be surprised if the world hates us. If you go to the ABC news website and read comments by readers about Mohler’s interview, or about other election issues, the animosity toward Christians is palpable. Of course, there are people who profess to be Christians that do not help our reputation any with the world, but nevertheless, many times it is not so much individuals that are attacked but the biblical standard of truth and righteousness. The more time one spends outside the Church, the more it becomes clear that America is not becoming non-Christian, but anti-Christian in many respects. I think this election is a signal of this shift, though I would argue (not extensively here) that this shift is not complete or final, yet. The reason this shift is occurring is not ideological or cultural but spiritual. While admittedly some pagans within our culture embrace certain norms of righteousness delineated in the scriptures because the law of God is written on their hearts, everyone outside of Christ is by nature hostile toward God and toward His law. Fortunately, that hostility does not manifest itself in America like it does in, say, Saudi Arabia. However, I think that fact has deceived us into thinking that people in our culture are rational, moral, upright, and reasonable. It has led us to believe against everything we know from Scripture that we can impose a biblical morality on culture apart from that culture being transformed by the gospel. We have put too much trust in the political process because we have forgotten the basics of the gospel, with the first point being that man is totally depraved, dead in sin, hostile toward God, and unable to please God. I am thankful Obama won because we now have a stark and necessary reminder of these truths that will, I hope, shift our attention to where the true war is waged, a war with far more at stake than an earthly nation. The victory that can be won in this war would far outweigh the political battle (important though it was) that was lost on November 4.

My prayer for the next four years will be that Pat Howell’s exhortation becomes a reality, that believers will spend the vast majority of their time and energy and money spreading the glory of Christ in the gospel rather than fighting Obama and his administration with fleshly weapons. Fleshly weapons (read: the political process) are the butter knives, brothers and sisters; the real sword that will win the battle is the Word of God, which is able to demolish strongholds. None of this is to say that we stop fighting for the lives of the unborn, or that we neglect the biblical teaching regarding marriage and passively allow homosexual “marriage” to become permissible in our nation, or that we condone the inhumane treatment of Chinese citizens by their unjust government, or that we neglect the impoverished of the world while we enjoy our prosperity. I’ll talk about some of these things and the way they shine forth the Gospel in upcoming posts. What I am saying is that the most powerful weapon we have in our fight against these evils and all others is the Gospel. If Obama, Pelosi, and Reid were converted, along with millions of Americans across this land, abortion would end, marriage would be rightly understood as a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church, and we would give generously to the poor and needy, especially those in Christ, all over the globe. Brothers and sisters, let’s pour everything we have into the gospel, and the world will be turned upside down.

Last night in prayer meeting, my pastor brought some of these same encouragements and truths to our attention. While we certainly do not want to rejoice in nor condone evil things (Prov. 2:14), we are to give thanks for the leaders God has placed over us, and that includes Obama. 1 Tim. 2:1-2 "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence."

Remember that these words were probably written when Nero was ruler of the Roman Empire.

And we must remember that Romans 13 says:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Daily Bread

This past week, there was a discussion on the Reformed Baptist Discussion List on daily devotions/quiet times. You would not think such a topic would cause controversy. Now, some of the controversy was due to issues of semantics. Some on the list said they had a set time for prayer but it was not a "quiet time." But I think the whole point of the issue was being missed. And I say this from my own experience and from what I have heard from others over and over again: we must not confuse "fruit issues" with "root issues."

The Christian walk is a supernatural one. We cannot live a day, an hour, of our Christian life apart from God's grace and Spirit. In my thinking, the question is not "am I explicitly commanded in the Scriptures to have a time set apart each day in God's Word and in prayer?" Rather, the question is, "How can we survive without setting aside time to spend with God? And why would we not want to? Do we hunger and thirst for God's Word? And if not, why not?" Granted, sometimes we don't feel like it, but then again sometimes we don't feel like being patient or feel like denying ourselves. And it's those times that I don't feel like doing my quiet time that I most need to do it!

In light of that discussion, here is an excellent lesson my pastor taught on the topic:

The Importance of Daily Bible Reading

Hardly could be called "legalism," could it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jesus Still Reigns

Isaiah 9
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Psalm 2
1 Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 “Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
7 “I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Some more thoughts on our duty as Christians

My brother Bryan Wiley posted some very level-headed thoughts pertaining to what we as Christians are called to do now:

We pray for him and our country. And personally I strongly recommend sharing your faith in Christ more frequently and loudly. If persecution should start, I can testify my boldness for Jesus and willingness to endure hardship for him increases with my willingness to verbally identify with him.

Whether or not the country as a whole ever returns to Jesus en mass is unknown. If persecution arises, we can consider ourselves blessed in order to more clearly manifest Christ's glory while we endure.

Also, pray for out pastors for boldness and a detachedness from worldly care as they preach about things that may incur the sword of Caesar.

America Has Chosen a President

Dr. Al Mohler wrote a very thought-provoking blog entry:

The election of Sen. Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States came as a bang, not a whimper. The tremors had been perceptible for days, maybe even weeks. On Tuesday, America experienced nothing less than a political and cultural earthquake.

The margin of victory for the Democratic ticket was clear. Americans voted in record numbers and with tangible enthusiasm. By the end of the day, it was clear that Barack Obama would be elected with a majority of the popular vote and a near landslide in the Electoral College. When President-Elect Obama greeted the throngs of his supporters in Chicago's Grant Park, he basked in the glory of electoral energy.

For many of us, the end of the night brought disappointment. In this case, the disappointment is compounded by the sense that the issues that did not allow us to support Sen. Obama are matters of life and death -- not just political issues of heated debate. Furthermore, the margin of victory and sense of a shift in the political landscape point to greater disappointments ahead. We all knew that so much was at stake.

For others, the night was magical and momentous. Young and old cried tears of amazement and victory as America elected its first African-American President -- and elected him overwhelmingly. Just forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, an African-American stood to claim victory as President-Elect of the nation. As Sen. Obama assured the crowd in Chicago and the watching nation, "We will get there. We will get there." No one hearing those words could fail to hear the refrain of plaintive words spoken in Memphis four decades ago. President-Elect Obama would stand upon the mountaintop that Dr. King had foreseen.

That victory is a hallmark moment in history for all Americans -- not just for those who voted for Sen. Obama. As a nation, we will never think of ourselves the same way again. Americans rich and poor, black and white, old and young, will look to an African-American man and know him as President of the United States. The President. The only President. The elected President. Our President.

Every American should be moved by the sight of young African-Americans who -- for the first time -- now believe that they have a purchase in American democracy. Old men and old women, grandsons and granddaughters of slaves and slaveholders, will look to an African-American as President.

Regardless of politics, could anyone remain unmoved by the sight of Jesse Jackson crying alone amidst the crowd in Chicago? This dimension of Election Day transcends politics and touches the heart of the American people.

Yet, the issues and the politics remain. Given the scale of the Democratic victory, the political landscape will be completely reshaped. The fight for the dignity and sanctity of unborn human beings has been set back by a great loss, and by the election of a President who has announced his intention to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. The struggle to protect marriage against its destruction by redefinition is now complicated by the election of a President who has declared his aim to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. On issue after issue, we face a longer, harder, and more protracted struggle than ever before.

Still, we must press on as advocates for the unborn, for the elderly, for the infirm, and for the vulnerable. We must redouble our efforts to defend marriage and the integrity of the family. We must be vigilant to protect religious liberty and the freedom of the pulpit. We face awesome battles ahead.

At the same time, we must be honest and recognize that the political maps are being redrawn before our eyes. Will the Republican Party decide that conservative Christians are just too troublesome for the party and see the pro-life movement as a liability? There is the real danger that the Republicans, stung by this defeat, will adopt a libertarian approach to divisive moral issues and show conservative Christians the door.

Others will declare these struggles over, arguing that the election of Sen. Obama means that Americans in general -- and many younger Evangelicals in particular -- are ready to "move on" to other issues. This is no time for surrender or the abandonment of our core principles. We face a much harder struggle ahead, but we have no right to abandon the struggle.

We should look for opportunities to work with the new President and his administration where we can. We must hope that he will lead and govern as the bridge-builder he claimed to be in his campaign. We must confront and oppose the Obama administration where conscience demands, but work together where conscience allows.

Evangelical Christians face another challenge with the election of Sen. Obama, and a failure to rise to this challenge will bring disrepute upon the Gospel, as well as upon ourselves. There must be absolutely no denial of the legitimacy of President-Elect Obama's election and no failure to accord this new President the respect and honor due to anyone elected to that high office. Failure in this responsibility is disobedience to a clear biblical command.

Beyond this, we must commit ourselves to pray for this new President, for his wife and family, for his administration, and for the nation. We are commanded to pray for rulers, and this new President faces challenges that are not only daunting but potentially disastrous. May God grant him wisdom. He and his family will face new challenges and the pressures of this office. May God protect them, give them joy in their family life, and hold them close together.

We must pray that God will protect this nation even as the new President settles into his role as Commander in Chief, and that God will grant peace as he leads the nation through times of trial and international conflict and tension.

We must pray that God would change President-Elect Obama's mind and heart on issues of our crucial concern. May God change his heart and open his eyes to see abortion as the murder of the innocent unborn, to see marriage as an institution to be defended, and to see a host of issues in a new light. We must pray this from this day until the day he leaves office. God is sovereign, after all.

Without doubt, we face hard days ahead. Realistically, we must expect to be frustrated and disappointed. We may find ourselves to be defeated and discouraged. We must keep ever in mind that it is God who raises up nations and pulls them down, and who judges both nations and rulers. We must not act or think as unbelievers, or as those who do not trust God.

America has chosen a President. President-Elect Barack Obama is that choice, and he faces a breathtaking array of challenges and choices in days ahead. This is the time for Christians to begin praying in earnest for our new President. There is no time to lose.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It is Well With My Soul!!!!!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And has shed his own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin—O the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

O Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
"Even so"—it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

- Horatio G. Spafford

Monday, November 3, 2008

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

Pastor George McDearmon of Ballston Lake Baptist Church preached two excellent and encouraging sermon from Isaiah 40-41!!! They are particularly appropriate in light of the election tomorrow. Whatever happens, we as believers are safe in Christ! We have been foreknown/predestined and justified, and we will be glorified!!! Will anything separate us from the love of Christ? NO!!!! Keep your eyes on Jesus, and trust in God's providential care, casting all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us!

Comfort, O Comfort My People
A Second Promise in Isaiah

Pastor Jim's sermon from John 10, preached before the Lord's Supper, was also very edifying and sweet!

Jesus, Our Good Shepherd