December 27, 2006

Looking Back on 2006 - How to Do It

Last year Doug Phillips posted a brilliant piece on how to think through the year in preparation for a new one

44 Scripture References for Redeeming the Time in 2007

This week our family is considering the blessings and lessons of 2006 as a springboard for our planning for 2007. We have a two stage process.

First, we consider and evaluate 2006. Second, we plan for 2007.

Purpose: that we would be good stewards of the lessons from the trials and blessings of the past year, and to help us do better with our time in the coming year for the purposes of God. Here are some scripture passages that relate to use of time and redeeming it.

Here are 44 verses of scripture which relate to the use of time:

1. Genesis 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

2. Ps 90:12 Teach us to number our days that we may present a heart of wisdom.

3. Proverbs 18:9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

4. Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

5. Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

6. Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

7. Jeremiah 32:19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

8. Jeremiah 32:30 For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD.

9. Jeremiah 51:18 They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

10. Lamentations 3:64 Render unto them a recompence, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.

11. Micah 2:1 Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.

12. Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

13. John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

14. John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

15. John 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

16. John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

17. John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

18. John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

19. 1Corinthians 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

20. 1Corinthians 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

21. 1Corinthians 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

22. 1Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

23. Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
24. Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil

25. Ephesians 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

26. Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

27. Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

28. Philippians 2:30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

29. Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

30. Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

31. Colossians 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

32. Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

33. 1Thessalonians 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

34. 2Thessalonians 3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

35. 1Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

36. 1Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

37. 2Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

38. Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

39. Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

40. Hebrews 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

41. 1Peter 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

42. 1Peter 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

43. 1Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

44. Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

December 26, 2006

Public Catechizing Will Turn to Little Account Without Family Catechizing

Matthew Henry brilliantly remarks about the superpowerful instruction that takes place in the home. He says that public catechism in the church will not stick, if it is not also done in the home:

"This way of instruction by catechizing does, in a special manner, belong to the church in the house. For that’s the nursery in which the trees of righteousness are reared that afterwards are planted in the courts of our God.

Public catechizing will turn to little account without family catechizing. The labour of ministers in instructing youth, and feeding the lambs of the flock, therefore proves to many a labour in vain, because masters of families do not do their duty, in preparing them for public instruction, and examining their improvement by it. As mothers are children’s best nurses, so parents are or should be their best teachers. Solomon’s father was his tutor, (Prov. 4:3,4). And he never forgot the lessons his mother taught him, (Prov. 31:1)."

From his sermon delivered in April 1704, "A Church in the House"

December 25, 2006

For the Joy and Encouragement in the Land

Matthew Henry, in his sermon, "A Church in the House" contends that godly home life is the wellspring of joy in the larger community,

"The pious and zealous endeavors both of magistrates and ministers for the reformation of conduct, and the suppression of vice and profaneness, are the joy and encouragement of all good people in the land. This is a happy indication that God has yet mercy in store for us.

I do not know of anything that will contribute more to the furtherance of this good work than the bringing of family-religion more into practice and reputation. Here the reformation must begin.

Other methods may check the disease we complain of, but this, if it was universally practiced, would cure it. Salt must be cast into these springs, and then the waters would be healed."

He understands the role of fathers as a work of casting salt into the spring so that the waters would be healed. The healed waters then bubble over into the larger community for joy and encouragement, which is the direct result of the spread of the gospel.

December 23, 2006

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

"God rest ye merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan's power when we had gone astray.
Oh, Tidings of Comfort and Joy, Comfort and Joy,
Oh, Tidings of Comfort and Joy."

December 22, 2006

"Goodbye Blog" - Problems with angry debates, bloggosphere slander and internet assassins

In a day of broken relationships (and churches) from email debates and bloggosphere slander and internet assassins, here is a thoughtful article by Alan Jacobs who admits certain challenges of the bloggosphere for believers in Christ.

"Goodbye, Blog
The friend of information but the enemy of thought
by Alan Jacobs

Following are some excerpts from the larger article:

“I think first of the extraordinary anger that seems to be more present in the blogosphere than in everyday life. Debate after debate—on almost every site I visit, including the ones devoted to Christianity—either escalates from rational discourse into sneering and name-calling or just bypasses reason altogether and starts with the abuse.

Partly, this derives from the anonymity of blog comments: people rarely identify themselves by their real names, and the email addresses that they sometimes provide rarely give clues about their identity: a person who is safe from substantive reprisals is probably more easily tempted to express rage.

There is no privacy: all conversations are utterly public. The arrogant, the ignorant, and the bullheaded constantly threaten to drown out the saintly, and for that matter the merely knowledgeable, or at least overwhelm them with sheer numbers….

Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought."
Alan Jacobs is professor of English at Wheaton College. For the entire article:

Of course Mr Jacobs is correct, but if the users of the bloggosphere pay attention to the principles of communication outlined in scripture, the bloggosphere becomes a tool in the hand of God instead of a divisive relationship shredder.
For more on this subject see my sermon on gosssip 8/20/2006

December 21, 2006

Grave Stone Inscriptions That Inspire and Instruct

Claudia Brown on Burial Hill with Doug Phillip's, Vision Forum Faith and Freedom Tour in Plymouth Mass.

On Burial Hill in Plymouth Mass., we stood over the graves of Adoniram Judson the great missionary to Burma and William Bradford, pilgrim Governor of Plymouth in 1620. But there are others who are unknown who lived lives of praise toward God. Here is one of my favorite inscriptions our family read over Thanksgiving holidays on Vision Forum's Faith and Freedom Tour:

"He spoke the meaning of his heart
Nor slandered with his tongue,
Would scarce believe an ill report,
Nor do his neighbor wrong"

Captain Chandler Holmes Jr
Oct 4, 1851 27 years old

I trust that if he lived in the internet age, the same would have been said of him. May his tribe increase!

Messy Church Life in Acts 8

This week, our church is studying Acts 8 which exposes messy church life from the persecutions that wracked the church, and the difficulties that came from the salvation of particular converts.

1. Notice the savagery against the church and the good outcome. Satan will never stomp out the church or the blessings of Christ even when he harrasses or even kills her people.

2. Notice the effect of the gospel on the people in the city – "And there was great joy in the city", (Acts 8:8).

3. Observe the two men who were saved through the ministry of Philip: A very worldly man with lots of baggage (Simon the sorcerer) and a servant of a queen from Ethiopia, who had been emasculated (Ethiopian eunuch). Each of these men had been harmed greatly by incorporating the ways of the world into their lives, but had begun a heavenly journey in which they would be included into the fellowship of believers. By God’s grace, they would establish new lifestyle patterns, but many of the old ones would persist for a while, and some of the old ones might even be hard to shed for the rest of their lives.

4. Think of how the ways of the world have infested our lifestyles and how Christ is redeeming us through His patience. And, lets extend this mercy toward others and consider being a patient people who are not too put off by those who are healing up from their tenure in the world… people who don’t yet live or dress keep their hair, or skin or raise their children quite right according to (our) perfect standards.

December 19, 2006

Revive Family Worship

In 1704 Matthew Henry preached a sermon in London entitled, "A Church in the House" where he makes the case that fathers have the responsibility before God to make thier homes "little churches". He argues that this does not displace the local church and her authority and responsibility, but that scripture requires fathers to provide daily spiritual training in the home.

Here is a paragraph where he addresses the situation where a father has let family worship lapse,

"... let those that have kept up family-worship formerly, but of late have left it off, be persuaded to revive it. This perhaps is the case of some of you. You remember the kindness of your youth, and the love of your espousals. There was a time when you sought God daily, and delighted to know his ways, as families that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of your God; but now it is otherwise. The altar of the Lord is broken down and neglected, the daily sacrifice is ceased; and God hath kept an account how many days it hath ceased whether you have or no, Dan. 8:13, 14. Now God comes into your houses seeking fruit, but he finds none, or next to none. You are so eager in your worldly pursuits that you have neither hearts nor time fore religious exercises. You began at first frequently to omit the service, and a small matter served for an excuse to put it by, and so by degrees it came to nothing.

O that those who have thus left their first love would now remember whence they are fallen, and repent and do their first works. Enquire how this good work came to be neglected. Was it not because your love to God cooled, and the love of the world prevailed?

Have you not found a manifest decay in the prosperity of your souls since you let fall this good work?

Has not sin got ground in your hearts and in your houses? And though when you dropped your family-worship you promised your selves that you would make it up in secret worship, because you were not willing to allow your selves time for both, yet have you not declined in that also?

Have you not grown less frequent, and less fervent, in your closest devotions too?

Where is now the blessedness you have formerly spoken of?

I beseech you lay out your selves to retrieve it in time. Say as that penitent adulteress, Hos. 2:7,

"I will go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now."

Cleanse the sanctuary, put away the strange gods. Is money the god, or the belly the god, that has gained possession of your heart and house?

Whatever it is cast it out. Repair the altar of the Lord, and begin again the daily sacrifice and oblation...

I beseech you, sirs, make a business of your family-religion, and not a by-business. Let it be your pleasure and delight, and not a task and drudgery. Contrive your affairs so as that the most convenient time may be allotted both morning and evening for your family-worship, so as that you may not be unfit for it, or disturbed and straitened in it; herein wisdom is profitable to direct."

December 08, 2006

Unloving ears that are greedy for an ill report

I am working with my children and myself, on our understanding and behavior on both sides of gossip: the listening ear and the wagging tongue... both are important areas to understand.

Jonathan Edwards in his exposition on 1 Cor 13, convicts of our sin when we are pleased to hear evil of others,

“Some are always so ready to catch up an ill report that it seems to be pleasing to them to hear evil of others. Their spirit seems greedy of it; and it is, as it were, food to the hunger of their depraved hearts. They feed on it as carrion birds do on the worst of flesh. They easily and greedily take it in as true without examination, thus showing how contrary they are in character and conduct to him of whom Psalm 15:1-3 speaks as dwelling in God’s tabernacle and abiding in his holy hill, and of whom he declares that “he taketh not up a reproach of his neighbor.” They show also that they are rather like “the wicked doer’ who “giveth heed to false lips,” and as the “liar’ who “giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” , From, "Charity and It's Fruits", P182

Anniversary of the Death of Richard Baxter Today, Dec. 8

Richard Baxter, 1615-1691

It would do pastors well to know that today marks the death of Richard Baxter, who was arguably, one of the most effective pastors of all time.

He was born in 1615 and died on this day in 1691.

Here are some of Maurice Roberts revealing comments on Baxter,

“First, he was a pastor. He wrote a classic book on this subject which is still in print 300 years later and more, entitled The Reformed Pastor brought out in 1656. Baxter catechised systematically with his assistant here in Kidderminster at the rate of fourteen families per week, and his intention was to teach the people by question and answer in their own home situation, the basic teachings of Scripture. His ambition was to cover all the eight hundred families in the parish in one year…

And then, thirdly Baxter was a man of affairs. As well as preacher, he was chaplain in the Parliamentary army, 1642-47…
He was in prison for his faith for one week at Clerkenwell gaol in 1669 and then again for twenty-one months in Southwark gaol, 1685-6. He was a famed leader of the Nonconformists, but especially of the Presbyterians and he corresponded with a wide circle of persons, being looked up to by thousands of Christians in his time…

Then in the line of great preachers we have the words of C. H. Spurgeon to this effect: 'I remember when I used to awake in the morning [he means as a child] the first thing I took up was Alleine's Alarm or Baxter's Call to the Unconverted. 'Oh, those books, those books!' exclaimed Spurgeon looking back, 'I read and devoured them'…

Picture Kidderminster again in Baxter's time: the Sabbath days that he speaks about in which the crowds of people on the Lord's day were either singing the psalms as they went about or else speaking to one another of the content of the sermons. What an extraordinary difference between that and the typical Sunday we know of today in our country!...

O for more men like this! O for such a preacher as Richard Baxter was! O for this plain, searching dealing with the souls of sinners! O that God would raise up a thousand Richard Baxters and that we would have in our pulpits men of this calibre, and in the open air, on the radio and on our television, preaching in every corner of the land! May God hasten the day when such things shall be and when Baxter's gospel, in all its plainness and power, shall be trumpeted again across the housetops and in the churches of our beloved land!” From Richard Baxter and His Gospel, by Maurice Roberts

Baxter was always heartily at work at his writing, producing hundreds of books and articles which he often took with him on his house calls to read to the families he was visiting. I have been told that only 40% of his works were ever republished.

December 07, 2006

The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of a Censorious Spirit

As part of our family devotions, I have been reading sections of a commentary on 1 Cor 13, , “Charity and its Fruits” by Jonathan Edwards. We recently covered some of Chapter 10, “The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of a Censorious Spirit.” I am doing this to prepare my children for a life of proper use of their tongues, refraining from a censorious spirit, when the temptation might come upon them as neighbors or church members or employees.

Definition of "Censorious"; it is thinking and speaking the worst of someone through, as says, "faultfinding, harshly critical, carping; expressing censure: "was censorious of petty failings."

Text: “Charity thinketh no evil’ 1 Corinthians 13:5

“Doctrine: The spirit of charity, or Christian love, is the opposite of a censorious spirit."

“A censorious spirit, or a disposition to uncharitably judge others, consists in a disposition to think evil of others, or to judge evil of them, with respect to three things: their state, their qualities and their actions… It shows itself in a disposition to think the worst of those about us”

“… It appears in a disposition to overlook their good qualities, or to think them destitute of such qualities when they are not, or to make very little of them; or to magnify their ill qualities, and make more of them than is just; or to charge them with those ill qualities that they do not have.” P180

Jonathan Edwards on Public Life in the Community

This wonderful citation from chapter eight of Jonathan Edwards book, Charity and its Fruits: The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of a Selfish Spirit

"And as the spirit of charity, or Christian love, is opposed to a selfish spirit, in that it is merciful and liberal, so it is in this also, that it disposes a person to be public-spirited. A man of a right spirit is not a man of narrow and private views, but is greatly interested and concerned for the good of the community to which he belongs, and particularly of the city or village in which he resides, and for the true welfare of the society of which he is a member. God commanded the Jews who were carried away captive to Babylon to seek the good of that city, though it was not their native place, but only the city of their captivity. His injunction, was “Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it. Jeremiah 29:7.

And a man of a truly Christian spirit will be earnest for the good of his country and the place of his residence, and will be disposed to lay himself out for its improvement.”

Charity and Its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards, Soli Deo Gloria, p146