Prepare Ye Straight Paths for the Way of the Lord

DSC_0093For the Lord’s Day, December 20, 2015

Dear Saints,

Tomorrow evening’s sermon text, Matthew 3:1-12, has John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight!”  And we will see that John’s main theme of preparing the way for the coming of King Jesus with His Kingdom of Heaven is for us to confess and repent of our sins so that He will save us from them.

John is preaching to where the preparation needs to be done: our hearts.  This is why he as the last Old Testament Prophet spends time in the text calling out the religious leaders for their hypocritical and deceitful motives in approaching him smugly.  And this is why he warns that truly cultivated hearts that are actually ready to receive the Word of God will soon be found fruitful.

DSC_0092The stage of John’s preaching is the wilderness to picture how the hearts and lives of God’s people had rotten to the point of becoming dry and desolate.  Thus, they needed to be torn open again to receive the Redeemer and His redemption.

May we prepare our hearts to drink in the Lord Jesus and His righteousness in worship by becoming thirsty for new showers of the Holy Spirit’s baptism of fresh, holy produce in us.  Let us make way for Jesus to walk straight into our sanctuary and deep into our souls tomorrow by heeding tonight the following cries from another prophet cut from the same cloth as John the Baptist and Elijah:

For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. (Jeremiah 4:3-4)

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.  Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. (Jeremiah 6:16-17)

DSC_0107Beloved, John the Baptist will have a heavy message for us tomorrow evening that can lighten our load if we truly wish to progress in our pilgrimage.  Let us walk.  Let us hearken.  Let us say we will so that we do — so that Jesus will not walk right over us or right by us.  Rather, may we find our feet taking us to the river so we stay standing on Christ’s straight and narrow way that leadeth unto life.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

The Right and Wrong Kind of Repentance

Are-your-repenting-the-wrong-wayFor Lord’s Day, December 6, 2015

Dear Saints,

Our weekly bulletin quotes from the Puritan William Secker’s, The Consistent Christian, have for a while now been contrasting godly repentance that preserves life (as in Peter’s case) with worldly repentance that ruins life (as in Judas’ case) having in view this verse: 

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of:
but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

The following article by Covenant Eyes is helpful in further exploring this distinction between godly and worldly sorrow; it especially shows us how to let our sins bring us closer to Christ rather than thrust us further away from Him: “Are You Repenting the Wrong Way?“.  Its author, Jon Snyder, writes:

Not only is this wrong repentance extremely emotionally unhealthy, but it actually produces more death and more sin.

Considering last week’s sermon on Leviticus 19:17, “It is Loving to Rebuke”, I encourage you to read Snyder’s article along with meditating on past and future bulletin quotes by William Secker about the difference between godly and worldly repentance and their respective ends.  And while you do, be concerned more with the cause of sin than its consequences — the venom of sin than its vengeances (as Secker put it).  That is, we need to grieve over our grieving the Holy Spirit while presuming upon Christ’s blood-bought grace — that attitude will bring us near to God.  But simply not wanting to be disciplined sends us running away from Christ, Who is the way, the truth, and the life.

Real repentance that gives and improves life is not defensive, but submissive.  It is not mad, but meek.  It does not pierce its eyes, but dilates its pupils.  It does not make a fist, but shakes a hand.  It does not talk back, but listens.  It does not deny, but considers.  It does not defy, but obeys.  It is not a wrinkled brow, but teary eyes.  It does not stiffen its neck and harden its heart, but leans forward and opens its ears.  Or as the Proverbs describe real repentants, they do not foolishly hate rebuking brothers, but wisely thank them.

May we all truly have repentance that leads unto life, as described by Westminster Shorter Catechism 87: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Heaven Rejoices When You Repent

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(Image source: https://newwaysministryblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/dbb2a-jump_for_joy_910.jpg)

For Lord’s Day, July 5, 2015

Dear Saints,

Like a father and mother and grandfather and grandmother and uncle and aunt and brother and sister rejoiced in the hospital at your birth, so did the angels celebrate in heaven when you were spiritually delivered.  And so they do every time you are delivered from evil.

Jesus says, I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7).  Again, Jesus says, Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10)

Beloved, be encouraged to know that not only did the angels rejoice over the salvation of other people, but they actually praised God when you repented toward Him and had faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. There was actually a moment when there was a party in heaven in your honor!

The “likewise” in the texts above refer to how the woman responded to being reunited to her lost coin as did the shepherd when reunited to his lost sheep. The series concludes with the father being reunited to his lost son who was restored to him because the young man came to his senses and repented and returned home (vss. 17-20).

As we study the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer tomorrow evening and learn to ask that we be kept from doing evil, be prayerfully motivated not to toy with temptation, as well as to be rescued from wickedness, by knowing that there is heavenly, angelic adulation over you every time you repent of a wicked thought or deed or life!  What’s more, the joy of God’s salvation will be restored to you (Psalm 51:8, 12).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant