December 20, 2015 – Exhortation on Psalm 2:10-12 by Cameron Mouro

“Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. 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.”

Here we have a terrific Psalm for the Advent season. Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm. It is a pronouncement of the kingship of the Messiah. Listen to verses 6 through 8: “Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.”

Jesus came into the world, not just to be the sacrifice for sins, but also to be established as King of all the world. This was announced even to Mary by the angel Gabriel. Speaking of Jesus, Gabriel says, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David….and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Jesus was born to be King.

Now each week it is our typical pattern to look into the wisdom of Proverbs for our Call to Confession but in this text from Psalm 2 we receive the greatest wisdom of all. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then submission to the rule and reign of His Son, Jesus Christ, is the pinnacle of wisdom.

We see in verse 10 that the instruction is given to earthly rulers, “be wise, O kings; be instructed you judges of the earth.” Even so we are not excluded from this command. If it is wise for the world’s leaders to submit to Christ, then it certainly is for us also as their subordinates. In addition, Jesus Christ, as the King of kings, is ruler over all people. Our allegiance to Him is no less expected than it is of earthly kings.

This allegiance is to be carried out in our lives with fear and trembling. We receive the same instruction from Paul in Philippians where he says that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Such language can be confusing. What does it mean to “serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling”?

It means to serve Him with awe and humility, with reverence and excitement because we know that God is Holy and therefore it is no small thing that He has done in saving us through Jesus Christ and establishing Him as King. It also means that we are terrified of what we receive apart from Jesus Christ.

We come to this segment of our worship service to confess our sin and it is our sin that deserves God’s wrath. We serve with fear and trembling because we recognize that without Jesus we receive the wrath of Almighty God.

John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

This morning’s text paints a very frightening picture. If we do not submit ourselves to the lordship of the Son then it is His wrath that is kindled against us. And if the One who is our Redeemer is wrathful toward us, what hope do we have? If the Son who is our High Priest is angry who will intercede for us? If His wrath is kindled but a little then there remains no sacrifice for our sin and no other name by which we can be saved.

Let us then kiss the Son! Not with the false kiss of Judas Iscariot, ; but with a kiss of allegiance, a kiss of adoration, a kiss of sincere love and gratitude like that of the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet, kissing them and anointing them with oil.

Advertisements

December 13, 2015 – Exhortation on Luke 7:31-35 by Pastor Dirk DeWinkle

31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Honestly, my wrestling with this passage has been a long time coming. I have been known to quote vs. 35 now and then… that “wisdom is justified by her children”, which seems pretty straightforward to me, but the rest of this text is more enigmatic. I mean, specifically, what does Jesus mean? He gives us a simile… that the men of this generation are like children sitting in the marketplace who complain that their music wasn’t appreciated.

The context is Jesus telling John’s disciples that He IS the one that John was waiting for, and then praising John’s ministry, which caused the people to rejoice, having been baptized by him, and the pharisees and lawyers, as the text says, “rejected the will of God for themselves” (vs. 30), because they had not received John’s baptism.

In the simile, the pharisees and lawyers are the children in the marketplace who complain that John didn’t dance (they called him demon possessed and thought he was crazy), and Jesus didn’t weep (He was throwing a party wherever he went, hanging out with sinners, they called him a glutton and a drunkard). That generation was playing an imaginary and pretend game in which they got to make all the rules, and they complain that John and Jesus don’t play by their rules.

In essence, Jesus is defining their ministry (the Pharisees’ and laywers’) as make-believe. They claim to represent God, but John and Jesus come onto the scene and they declare the real thing. All the people were drawn to John and Jesus. The ministry of John the Baptizer and the ministry of Jesus the Son of God were different in kind than the ministry of the Jews. John was preparing the way, and Jesus was announcing the coming of the actual Kingdom of God.

This is why the gospel message which both John and Jesus proclaimed resonated with the people. And God’s message was simple… “repent” (John) and “believe” (Jesus). So, while the Jews had it all backward and wanted to party and weep at the wrong times, Jesus and John set the record straight.

John and Jesus weren’t “playing God”, they were revealing Him. And the revelation was powerful. Men were convicted of their sins, repented of them, and received new life. And the process is always the same… John then Jesus, Confession then Hope, Repentance then Party, Death then Resurrection. This is the gospel. This is the hope for the world, and this is wisdom.

Which is where Jesus finishes this passage. Wisdom is justified by all her children. The question is, which kind of children are we going to be? Are we going to be children of folly, making up our own rules, whining and complaining that nobody is listening to us? Or are we going to be children of the king, sons and daughters of wisdom, coming unto the Lord in simple humble faith, seeking truth, confessing sin, and finding life?

These kind of children make a difference in the world. Their love and grace, their faith and obedience declare to a needy world that the kingdom is here, and the King is here too.

December 6, 2015 – Exhortation on Malachi 3:5-7b by Pastor Dirk DeWinkle

5 And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien— Because they do not fear Me,” Says the Lord of hosts.

God will judge sinners. Here he promises to judge, and to be a swift witness against sinners. The terms here are a little archaic and perhaps worth fleshing out a bit. Sorcerers are those who attempt to manipulate God or reality through divinations, incantations, magic, consulting with the dead, and even drugs (the Greek word for Sorcerer [LXX] is a derivative of φαρμακεια, from which we derive the English words… Pharmaceuticals, pharmacy, pharmacist, etc.) In the OT, the rites of pagan worship would also have been in sight, things like sacrificing children, cutting themselves (the prophets of Baal), and ritual intercourse (cult prostitution).

We have a tendency toward chronological snobbery, and when we hear about this stuff, we frequently think things like, “that was then, but not anymore, right?” Well, not so much. Drug abuse (speaking on abuse, i.e. addiction or slavery to drugs, not reasonable medicinal use) is rampant in America, even here in our county, just ask the policemen, or those who are actively trying to help the addicted. We ARE sacrificing children to the tune of 3,000 a day on the altars of the false gods Convenience and Whatever-Feels-Good. There ARE many who hurt themselves, because the emotional pain and distress of broken homes and communities and lives drives them to do something, just to know they are alive, or to cry out for help. And this isn’t even touching on the darkness of Wiccan neo-paganism, or the silliness of horoscopes and palm readers and psychics who still advertise their presence and wares today.

Adultery is more straightforward, but even here, extra-marital relations and divorce are rampant, and we are legalizing sin with the folly of homosexual marriage. Perjurers are liars, specifically those who lie on the witness stand in trial, but whoever bears false witness and hurts his neighbor is in view here. And there is no shortage of this going on today. The mere existence of organizations like the Homeschool Legal Defense Association or the Heritage Defense Fund betray the problem.

And the exploitation of wage earners and widows and orphans is a terrible evil, the one which ultimately brought on the exile of Israel. God loves the poor and the outcasts, and He comes to their defense. Wherever God is not honored, the weak are the ones who pay the penalty. America is a wealthy nation, and even the poor here tend to have it relatively better than the rest of the world, but as we turn away from God, and seek our own means of salvation, we institutionalize this kind of wickedness.

It is a lot harder to identify because of the confusing nature of sin, but it is evident in our society. The cost of living keeps going up and the ones who hurt most are those on limited incomes, the elderly, the jobless, and the lowest classes of society… wage earners, widows, and orphans.

Finally, as the verse says, this all happens because we do not fear God. Today is the second Sunday of Advent, and you may have noticed the theme on the covers of your bulletins, the theme of Rejoicing in the Incarnation. And since I bring it up, you might be wondering what that has to do with this verse. God will come near to us for judgment! He will be a swift witness against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers and oppressors! What?!?! How can we rejoice in that?

God judges wickedness, but He saves His elect in the process. In Israel, a remnant was saved. In the first centuries after the resurrection, the church grew up in the persecutions of Rome. And all this is consistent with the next two verses…

6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. 7 Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances And have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the Lord of hosts.

God invites us to repent and to return, and this truly is indeed cause for rejoicing. God’s judgment is cause for rejoicing, because it is the means of His great reversal. He makes rough places smooth, and He paves the ways of salvation.