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  1. Patiently Wait (Hebrews 11:8-11)

    July 12, 2013 by Pito

     

    God made great promises to Abraham and Sarah, but they had to wait many years to see the fulfillment. And on top of that, it was their descendants who would actually inherit the land four hundred years later.

       Abraham was called a majestic father, but he had no children, He was called a father of a multitude but he had no children. No doubt there was a lot of snickering about this, but except for one lapse, Abraham waited patiently and did not waver is his faith.

       We believe that we will possess the earth through our descendants and so we patiently wait for it, just like Abraham. By taking Abraham through diverse trials, God was training him to take along view-an epic view of God’s plan. He would have to establish sound habits in his children so they could conquer the land and subdue God’s enemies.

       Abraham’s influence came through his witness. He refused to conquer the land with his ample military. He refused to take spoil from the kings of Canaan. We are often tempted to seize at privileges, rather than wait on the Lord for His timing. Jesus warned us that we should take the lowest position at the table and wait for God to exalt us. Luke 14:7-11.

       The faithful, patient man is encouraged by this story of Abraham. We are building for the future and even if the blessing does not come in our lifetimes, we have the joy of knowing that the reward of patient faith will be ours.

       May the Lord increase our faith as we partake of His body and blood. May He grant us the patience to wait on Him. to seize nothing but the hem of His garment by faith. May we trust that He really does know what He is doing. Pity that man who does not have Jesus as his King and Shield.


  2. The Speaking Dead (Hebrews 11:4-6)

    June 29, 2013 by Pito

     

       Abel, being dead, is still speaking. He is speaking of righteous sacrifices and he is speaking of justice. His life cried out for proper worship and his death cried out for proper vengeance.

       Will you be speaking after you are dead? I pray that we all will be speaking throughout the rest of human history as our descendants and others who follow us in the faith manifest the influence of our words and conduct in an ever growing and glorious Kingdom of our Lord Jesus. This is our legacy to the future.

      Enoch and Elijah are the only two men who did not die physically. Even Jesus, the spotless and pure Lamb of God, died and what a death it was. Like Abel, Jesus’ blood is also crying out, but His blood speaks better things than that of Abel. Jesus” blood cried out for the justice required by the Father and it cried out mercy and grace to justify sinners. Jesus’ blood cries out from the ground every time the gospel is preached, every time we declare the goodness of God in Christ Jesus.

       There is coming a day when we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give account of the deeds done in our bodies. Christians should not fear that day but look forward to it because Christ will judge us as His children, according to familial compassion. When God recompenses our comparatively paltry works with the gift of eternal life, we will be full of gratitude for eternity.

       Our initial justification is on the Table before us. Through this sacrifice God has declared us righteous in His sight. We are accepted in the Beloved. Let us partake with joy and a thanksgiving that leads to eternal life, to our final justification at the consummation of all things.

    “Let him that is thirsty come, and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”


  3. Faith Perseveres (Hebrews 11:1-3)

    June 23, 2013 by Pito

     

        The hall of heroes of Chapter 11 challenges us to persevere as they did, in faith. We are to do so because apostasy is a real threat to real people in the Church. The warnings given to us in the book of Hebrews are not hypothetical. Christians were really considering returning to Jerusalem to the sacrifice of bulls and goats.

       We believe God’s Word because it is true and because God has given us eyes to see, even though Jesus is not physically before our eyes. Apart from this gift men will not come to Christ. Apart from this gift Christians will go back to Jerusalem just in time for the war, the judgment. God calls us to persevere, not to fall back into that from which He rescued us.

       We are to persevere by faith through the curse on creation. We are to persevere by faith through the consequences of our own sin. We are to persevere by faith through persecution for righteousness sake.

        We persevere by faith when we are sick, when we travel, when we work by the sweat of our brow, when we lose a loved one. Through all the effects of the curse, we persevere.

       We live by faith though the consequences of our own sin. The vast majority of our troubles we afflict upon ourselves. Therefore, let us not blame others or our circumstances, or our God. Let us not be easily offended. Let us take responsibility for our sin and move on in the purposes of God. Let us be determined to persevere through the consequences of our own sin; to confess, to be instantly cleansed, then to

      “…teach others thy ways; so sinners shall be converted unto thee.”

       We are to persevere by faith through persecution. Jesus told us that we would be persecuted because He was persecuted. The servant is not greater than his Master. God trained Job to trust Him by taking things away from him, his children, his wealth and his health and it was not because he did anything wrong.

        We see God’s loving discipline all through this chapter and we see it all through the history of the church. We should not be surprised. Jesus said, “I  have chosen you out of the  world, therefore the world hates you…”

      Through the times of our sojourn here, we live by faith. We are assured that He died for our sins and that He rose from the dead and that He is putting all His enemies under His footstool. The fact that we have gathered here this morning is evidence of His grace working in history. We are His people and He is our God and nothing will ever change this. Romans 8:35-39.

     

     


  4. Life Under the Loom (Ecclesiastes 3:10-15)

    June 16, 2013 by Pito

     

       We here, under the sun, view life as we view a great tapestry on a loom. We see only the knots and snarls, not the magnificence of the design or the beauty of the whole. But by faith in the Sovereign Creator, we can see. He tells us all that we need to know and that is enough.

      Jesus even came and lived under the loom with us and by His Spirit is still with us here. He knows life from the underside. God gives His children the ability to be joyful in the midst of vapor, smoke and mud.

       To the vast hordes under the sun, life is imbecilic chaos because they walk by sight. If one walks by sight, then it is understandable that they should try to find meaning in drugs, music, art, power and money. None of these things, being vapor, satisfy the longings of human hearts. Only Jesus can do that and they had rather perish than come to Him.

       The bottom line is that God is in control, no matter what we see or think we see. He decided the day of our birth and the day of our death. He determines the seasons of life. He is behind bullets on the battlefield and cars on the highway and poisons in our cells. He is in charge of it all. When we quarrel and when we are at peace with our brothers. He is behind our grief and our relief. Our laughter and weeping are all from him. He gives and He takes away and gives again.

        Our words and our silence accomplish His will and no man can say to Him, “What do you think you are doing?” He never goes on vacation nor blinks for a nano-second.

      The foundation of all intelligent joy is to not lean on our own understanding but to trust Him, no matter what. He knows the beginning from the end and everything in between. We can’t even find our car keys half the time. Whatever it is, we leave home without is regularly. We fail to return things we borrow. We forget to thank those who have been generous to us. We even lose our lists of things to do.

       So seeing all this, what shall we do? We throw up our hands—in joy and have fun. We eat the fruit of our labors, we fellowship in the Spirit with each other and we look each other in the face and say, “It’s all beyond me.”

      So let us feast together at His Table and not worry about anything. Remember who is in control and enjoy this cup of blessing, because next we meet our Lord face to face and then we shall know as we are also known. Therefore, let us drink the wine of forgiveness and be glad.


  5. Twisting the Untwistable (Ecclesiastes 2)

    May 28, 2013 by Pito

     

      To the inscrutable repetitions of life, Solomon adds that man is not only finite, he is also sinful. What God has made crooked because of sin, man cannot straighten out. Man cannot untwist what God has twisted.

      Contrary to the modern gospel of uplift, it is God who has given us a painful business, a world of affliction, thorns and briers in every hand.

       Solomon, in his flight from God, tried every pleasure, every experience and he found them all empty. From laughter to better living through chemistry, from royal feasting to works of cultivation and refinement, it all added up to a big zero.

       Solomon left nothing undone. He tried everything. If it felt good, he did it. What did he find at the end of his rainbow? a pot of vapor. God’s curse has given us a pot of vapor. God also gives to His own the gift of enjoying it all, anyway.

       If control is not an option, what should we strive for?

    “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands….  Pray for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way…”

       After trying everything Solomon concludes, “There is nothing inherent in man than that he should eat and drink and that his soul should enjoy the good of his labor.”

      Human life in all its mystery is a gift from God. The man of God will experience frustration and pain, and he will respond with deep feelings of revulsion and even hatred; this must be a temporary posture, a passing response. The ultimate posture of the wise believer is to “take and eat,” confessing that God has gifted him with life. So take and eat!


  6. Vapor of Vapor, All is Vapor (Ecclesiastes 1)

    May 25, 2013 by Pito

     

                                    Vapor of Vapor

        The writer of Hebrews tells us to act maturely, to be able to discern between good and evil by having our senses exercised thereunto.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon spoke words of wisdom that we might be better able to discern between good and evil.

      He says that the wise man recognizes that our lives are vapor, that any attempt to comprehend the world and God’s ways in the world leads to frustration, emptiness and vanity. This life must be seen for what it is and then we must trust God and rejoice in His gifts, even in and especially in the face of hard times, chaos and every evil thing.

       When Solomon says “vanity of vanity, all is vanity,” he is not referring to  pridefully looking in the mirror nor is he saying that life is meaningless. James gives us the meaning when he says, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor, it appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

        Paths of glory lead but to the grave. Like the waves on the shore, generation after generation comes and goes and like sandcastles, the place thereof knows us no more. Everything is beyond our control and we successfully manipulate nothing that matters.

       So what is the answer to all this vapor? Solomon tells us. “Go, eat your bread with joy. So I commend enjoyment. It is good and fitting.” In other words, God gives us the ability to watch this earthly futility with a grateful chuckle and to rejoice anyway. 

       Our lives are vapor, but He is in control of it all. Paul tell us that we are to “be stedfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord because your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” It is not a vapor. The world needs men and women who truly reflect His image in a visible community of love. We have a work to do while it is day. Salvation is living in such a way to show what God is like, being instruments to spread His life and love and joy before the world. If they can’t see our good works, they can’t glorify the Father. We are the saved community that they need to see so that they too can have fellowship with the Father and the Son and with us.

      The wise thing to do then is to have fun and glorify our heavenly Father so that the world may also glorify Him.

     

     


  7. Come Up! Acts 1:9-11

    May 9, 2013 by Pito

     

           When Jesus arrived in heaven, into the throne room of the Almighty, He was crowned with universal dominion and glory and majesty and might, world without end – forever.  Daniel 7:13-14.

         The New Testament teaches this as well (Revelation 4-5), and teaches further that we believers have a new birthright portion of this dominion and glory. We have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph. 1:3.

       This is why our prayers are heard. This is why our souls have a heavenly security, beyond the reach of anything that stings or harms. All of Christ for all of life.

       Why are all these things ours? Because Jesus ascended and is enthroned in heaven. He ascended because He was raised from the dead and He was raised from the dead because He was crucified and He was crucified to make all things yours.

       The ascension of Jesus as a man speaks of the ascension of a new humanity in Him. A man, one of us, is in heaven, the highest heaven and we are in Him. The risen Lord is here and bids us to come up. Our coming up into heavenly places each week is a foretaste of our coming up at the end of our lives. We rejoice that we get to “come up” before we “come up.” We experience the presence of God here and now, before we are called into His immediate presence at the end of our pilgrimage down here.

          Going up is a good thing, but what about going down? It all depends on what you are talking about. When Jonah went down, it was not good. He went down to Joppa.  He was running away from God’s command. He went down to a ship. He went down into a ship. He went down into the sea, He went down into the belly of the sea monster. He said he went down into Sheol. So when you are running from God, down is not a good way to go.

        On the other hand, Jesus came down from heaven to earth to minister to us and to give His life a ransom for many. If He had not come down, we would not ever be able to go up. He first came up from the grave and so will we. He ascended into heaven and so will we. He calls us this morning to spiritually ascend to heavenly places and that is why we are here.

       Our time on earth, except for corporate worship, is basically a time of down, of humiliation, of service to our Lord, of service to others. This also includes suffering for righteousness sake and suffering for our own foolishness.

        We must obey and serve during the time of our earthly pilgrimage, building His kingdom by re-creating all of life in the power of the Spirit. We are called to participate in the greatest adventure ever; crushing the head of the serpent, inheriting eternal life, and most importantly, knowing Jesus and His love.

     


  8. “My blood is drink indeed.” (Hebrews 9)

    April 24, 2013 by Pito

     

        While the Mosaic Covenant was useful, valuable and necessary, it was also temporary. The proper way to understand the”law” is to understand the typological nature of the Mosaic covenant, the Old Covenant.

        The articles in the tabernacle were symbols for this present age. For example, we have the fulfillment of the lampstand in Jesus, who is the Light of the world, and, we are the light of the world. We have the table of showbread in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus is the Bread of Life. The golden censer sees its fulfillment in the prayers of the saints (Rev. 3:12). Jesus is the Ark of the Covenant as He gloriously shines in this dark world. He is God present with His people. Aaron’s rod finds its fulfillment in the appointing of leaders in the Church (Heb. 5:6). Jesus was appointed and so are church leaders. Lastly, the mercy seat is where Jesus covers, protects, redeems and glorifies His people, changing them from glory to glory through His infinite mercy manifested on the cross.

        Our author mentions these elements in order to contrast them with the glory of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant was glorious, but the New Covenant far surpasses it.

       The blood shed in the Old Covenant was not efficacious, but rather typological through animals. The Christian faith is built on human sacrifice. If sin is to be dealt with, blood must flow.

       Moderns hypocritically criticize Christianity for its bloody human sacrifice.    Upon close inspection, everyone believes in human sacrifice. Babies are sacrificed to cover the sins of adulterers and fornicators. Men and women and children are sacrificed by greedy governments to promote their own agendas. Men and women murder each other on a daily basis.  Humans are sacrificed daily, around the world for revenge, out of envy, for filthy lucre, for the heck of it. As the Lord says, “All those that hate me love death.”

       Hebrews teaches us that the heavenly tabernacle needed to be purified and the blood of bulls and goats was not sufficient. They could only purify the earthy tabernacle.

       Jesus died, once for all, to put away sin. Only He could offer the sacrifice that would cleanse the heavenly tabernacle.

       Each man dies in history, then the judgment. After death, each man must appear before God to give account of his life. The question we must ask ourselves regularly is this. Do we have a High Priest who has put away our sins? Do we have a sacrifice in the heavens? Do we have Jesus?

     


  9. Yes and Amen! (Hebrews 8)

    by Pito

     

        In Christ we have a forever priest, with His work completed, SEATED at the right hand of God in the heavens. Our Lord is the ultimate liturgy as He rules and reigns over all the earth from on high. The ministry of constant repetition (Levites) has been replaced by a once-for-all, final sacrifice(Melchizedek).

       The Old Covenant was a copy of the New Covenant, meaning that the New Covenant did not start 2000 years ago, but was operative throughout the Old.

       The New Covenant has better promises which include the internalization of God’s law and the forgiveness of our sins for failing to keep God’s law. The promises in Christ include the power to conquer our sinfulness.

       In the New Covenant, God determines to change us and the world by our speaking words of life to each other and to the lost. By our words we demonstrate the newness of the new while not abandoning the foundations of the old. Every word is, in a sense, creative, as we image our Creator in speaking the truth in power. The grace of God compels us to speak with grace, to communicate to each other by words of love and kindness. Our words must be for the edification of all men.

           On the Communion Table we see God’s “Yes” to all mankind, His Yea and Amen to the feeble notions of men. His “Yes” included us in the grace of redemption, the New Covenant bought for us by our Great High Priest. His “yes’ accomplished the forgiveness of our sins and His “Yes” conforms us to His image in the grace of sanctification. God’s Words to us are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb so that our words to each other and to the world may be a savor of this same sweetness, that in all things He might be glorified, honored and obeyed.

        Our response to God’s mercy through our Great High Priest must be “yes, we will do all that the Lord has commanded.”


  10. Maundy Thursday (Mt. 26:17-30)

    March 28, 2013 by Pito

    For the last two thousand years, men and women and children have never failed to fulfill Jesus’ will in celebrating this meal instituted by our Lord before His crucifixion.

    Throughout the history of the Church, in times of peril and destruction, in times of being hounded to death, in times of plenty or poverty, the Lord’s Table is always there. It is here before us now, and it takes us back to Him and it takes us up to Him, to eat with Him in heavenly places.

    The call to share in this Communion is the call of Christ Himself, for He is the host and we are His guests. It is as free and broad and generous as Christ Himself. We don’t come because we are good enough and we don’t refuse to come because we are too bad. Come to the Table then and your needs will be met.

    By partaking of this meal we are pledging that we will love our neighbors as ourselves, that we will live at peace with all men, that we will cast aside all bitterness and malicious talk, that we will feed the needy, clothe the naked, visit the widows and those in prison, that we will lay down our lives a living sacrifice for others. We do this willingly because Jesus lay down His life willingly for us.

    The family dinner is a reflection of this Eucharistic meal, the meal that welcomes all members of Christ to the Table. This Supper overturns all table fellowship that would exclude the lowly and puff up the high and mighty. And in overturning such table fellowship, the gospel overturns all such social order and establishes the Church’s social order as the true order.

    Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” The Lord’s Table is here before us. Let us ascend up into heavenly places to sup with Him and He with us. Our husband calls us so let is respond in faith and thanksgiving


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