April 2, 2016
(Blake Lunsford began his Sunrise Service devotion last week with this poem:)
For the Church On Easter Morning
No mourning, this morning
It’s a new morning, this morning
The grave’s not grave, this morning
Christ isn’t in the tomb, this morning
Death isn’t slowly dying, Death has died
Death is dead, this new day
Life is living
Life is living like light is living in the heat of a summer’s day
Yes, life is living this Morning
God is loving this Morning
God has raised his Son from the dead
God has raised you from the dead
The grave’s not grave, this morning
No mourning, this morning
Keep looking at him, this morning
Christ is risen indeed, this morning
July 12, 2013
Ed Conrad, Kevin Wang and I have had the privilege this week of studying the book of Hebrews under Dr D.A. Carson. Among other great themes, Hebrews pictures Jesus as our great High Priest. Meditate on these ideas, summarized in the first section, fleshed out in selections from Hebrews in the second, and versified by Michael Bruce in the third.
In becoming man Jesus took on our frailty, and faced weakness and temptation like us. A person suffering from cancer knows that a cancer survivor can identify with his or her pain; just so, we can know that Jesus identifies with our temptations, our weaknesses, our frailty. And He, as our High Priest, by one sacrifice of His own body, makes perfect forever those who come to Him by faith. Furthermore, He always lives to make intercession for us when we fail. So may we hold fast to the confession of our certain hope – and boldly approach God the Father, knowing that because of our High Priest, He will receive us with mercy and grace, enabling us to endure to the end and thus to be saved.
Hebrews 7:23 – 8:2 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. 8:1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.
Hebrews 10:11-18 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Hebrews 4:14-16 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 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.
By Michael Bruce (1764) – written at the age of 18
Where high the heavenly temple stands,
the house of God not made with hands,
a great High Priest our nature wears,
the Guardian of mankind appears.
He, who for men their surety stood,
and poured on earth his precious blood,
pursues in heaven his mighty plan,
the Savior and the Friend of man.
Though now ascended up on high,
he bends on earth a brother’s eye;
partaker of the human name,
he knows the frailty of our frame.
Our fellow-sufferer yet retains
a fellow feeling of our pains;
and still remembers in the skies
his tears, his agonies and cries.
In every pang that rends the heart
the Man of Sorrows had a part;
he sympathizes with our grief,
and to the sufferer sends relief.
With boldness therefore at the throne
let us make all our sorrows known;
and ask the aid of heavenly power
to help us in the evil hour.
July 6, 2013
From Isaac Watts’ “Shepherds, Rejoice!” (1709) – his rendition of the appearing of the angels to the shepherds in Luke 2. I expect to quote these lines in tomorrow’s sermon on Matthew 12:15-50:
Lord, and shall angels have their songs,
And men no tunes to raise?
O, may we lose our useless tongues
When they forget to praise!
Glory to God that reigns above,
That pitied us forlorn!
We join to sing our Maker’s love,
For there’s a Savior born.
July 3, 2013
Sunday we sang the Indelible Grace version of “Upon a Life I Have Not Lived.” The original version was written by Horatius Bonar in 1881 as a communion hymn. The entire poem, containing a number of additional stanzas, is below. You can see the complete volume of his richly theological communion hymns at this link.
On merit not my own I stand;
On doings which I have not done,
Merit beyond what I can claim,
Doings more perfect than my own.
Upon a life I have not lived,
Upon a death I did not die,
Another’s life, Another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.
Not on the tears which I have shed:
Not on the sorrows I have known,
Another’s tears, Another’s griefs,
On them I rest, on them alone.
Jesus, O Son of God, I build
On what Thy cross has done for me;
There both my death and life I read,
My guilt, my pardon there I see.
Lord, I believe; oh deal with me
As one who has Thy word believed!
I take the gift, Lord look on me
As one who has Thy gift received.
I taste the love the gift contains,
I clasp the pardon which it brings,
And pass up to the living source
Above, whence all this fullness springs.
Here at Thy feast, I grasp the pledge
Which life eternal to me seals,
Here in the bread and wine I read
The grace and peace Thy death reveals.
O fullness of the eternal grace,
O wonders past all wondering!
Here in the hall of love and song,
We sing the praises of our King.
March 29, 2013
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert (1593-1633)
July 8, 2010
[Robert Browning was a great 19th century British poet. His religious beliefs are not clear – in many of his poems, the voice belongs to someone other than the poet. The following is an excerpt from “Saul” (1845 and 1855). Browning imagines David playing the lyre and singing when “a harmful spirit from God was upon Saul” (1 Samuel 16:23). The voice throughout is David’s. In the first section, David, echoing Isaiah 6, is overwhelmed by seeing the majesty, wisdom and love of God laid bare, and submits himself willingly, lovingly to God. In the second section, David first addresses God, then, in the last four lines, Saul. He expresses confidence that God’s love is greater than his own, and that God will become incarnate in David’s own descendant for the salvation of the ungodly. While Scripture does not give us warrant for thinking that Saul is saved in the end, these lines beautifully express deep biblical truths. You can read the entire poem (more than 4000 words) at this link and a number of others. Thanks to Carla Stout for pointing me to this poem – Coty]
I spoke as I saw:
I report, as a man may of God`s work – all`s love, yet all`s law.
Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
I but open my eyes, – and perfection, no more and no less,
In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
The submission of man`s nothing-perfect to God`s all-complete,
As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet. . . .
Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou – so wilt thou!
So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown -
And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
`Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!
April 2, 2010
Ten thousand talents once I owed,
And nothing had to pay;
But Jesus freed me from the load,
and washed my debt away.
Yet since the Lord forgave my sin,
and blotted out my score,
Much more indebted I have been,
than e’er I was before.
My guilt is canceled quite I know,
and satisfaction made;
But the vast debt of love I owe
can never be repaid.
The love I owe for sin forgiven,
for power to believe,
For present peace and promised heaven,
no angel can conceive.
That love of Thine, Thou sinner’s Friend!
Witness Thy bleeding heart!
My little all can ne’er extend
to pay a thousandth part.
Nay more, the poor returns I make
I first from Thee obtain;
And ’tis of grace that Thou wilt take
such poor returns again.
‘Tis well – it shall my glory be
(Let who will boast their store)
In time and to eternity,
to owe Thee more and more.
(John Newton, 1779)