Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven

Once on a dreary mountain
We wandered far and wide,
Far from the cleansing fountain
Far from the pierced side
But Jesus sought and found us
And washed our guilt away
With cords of love He bound us
To be His own today

Redeemed, restored, forgiven
Through Jesus' precious blood
Heirs of His home in heaven
Oh, praise our pardoning God

Dear Lord receive the glory
Of each recovered soul
Oh who can tell the story
Of love that made us whole?
Not our, not ours, the merit
Be Yours alone the praise
And ours a thankful spirit
To serve You all our days

Now keep us, holy Savior
In Your true love and fear
And grant us by Your favor
The grace to persevere

Till in Your new creation
When Earth meets Heaven's shore
We find our full salvation
And praise You evermore


from Watch The Rising Day, released 17 August 2010
Written by Matthew S. Smith and Jeff Pardo
©2010 Detuned Radio Music / Simple Tense Songs (ASCAP) admin. by Simpleville Music, Inc.
Based in part on a hymn text by Henry W. Baker


All rights reserved

The Older Brother

The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me m the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

Observations:  This younger son was a sinner.  He squandered everything in reckless living.  He was as low as he could go - even willing to eat the pigs' food.  Do you know any sinners?  Has God put sinners into your life?  How low did they go?  How should you react to them?  When they realize the world does not satisfy, and no one will give them anything, what will you do?

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  22 But the father said to his servants,  ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Observations:  He came to himself.  That was a work of grace.  When a sinner comes to himself and realizes the mess he is in, know that God is working.  He humbled himself, willing to be treated as one of the hired servants.  The father, the one who was sinned against, overlooked the sin and welcomed the sinning son.  Do you know anyone who has "come to himself" and realized that his life is a mess?  Do you recognize that God is working?  Do you see humility?  Have you noticed the reaction of the one who has been sinned against the most?  Can you see the grace of God?

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Observations:  The older son was angry.  He refused to go into the celebration.  He was offended.  Instead of rejoicing with his father, the one who was sinned against the most, he was angry and jealous.  He turned it around to himself.  How have you reacted when you've seen rejoicing over a sinner repenting?  Have you joined in the celebration, or have you refused to fellowship?  

Jesus came to save sinners.  He ate with sinners.  He called sinners, not the righteous, to repent.

He told us to forgive seventy times seven.

He knows the heart.  We do not.

If God can save John Newton, who squandered his life in the most vile and malicious deeds, He is able to save to the uttermost the worst of sinners among us.  

If God can save John Bunyan, who wrote in his testimony (Chief of Sinners) that he tried it all - he tried a sinful life, he tried a "godly" life - but that none of it mattered until his blind eyes were opened, then he can save the worst of sinners among us.

What will you do?  Will you forgive, yet again, and pray?  Or will you refuse to celebrate with the one who was sinned against the most?

Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven - a new song by Matthew Smith.  Listen to it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Giveaway Time!

Over at Life by the Creek there's a great giveaway.  All you have to do is post a comment about your dream bathroom.  Go there and do it.  You might win a gift certificate!

Monday, July 12, 2010

WARNING - Don't take it lightly.

Royal Hamel preached a powerful, practical message yesterday - A message of warning:

Do NOT take sin lightly!

There are four false ideas about sin that are prevalent in our society:

  1. Let go and let God
  2. I am saved but I can lead a holy life by myself.
  3. Sin isn't all that important.  You can have Jesus as your Saviour, not your Lord.
  4. Let's not focus on being holy... but on being forgiven again and again.

Paul teaches something completely different:
1 Cor. 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be a disqualified.

Notice that Paul is talking about running the race well, in order to receive the prize.  There is strategy and effort here.  The Christian life is not about floating up to the clouds with a harp - Christians must work hard, strive to achieve, work and sweat and toil.  Like an athlete, they need strict training, careful self-discipline, and watchfulness.  Paul is in a real fight in this passage - with HIMSELF!  

Why does Paul exercise self-discipline?  Why does he mortify the flesh and put off sin?  Because he does not want to be disqualified!

Royal taught us that this warning in 1 Corinthians is there for our benefit.  

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

What sorts of things would disqualify a believer?  Paul goes on to explain, using the example of God's chosen, covenant people.  They'd been saved from a life of slavery and led by a miracle across the Red Sea to the Wilderness.  The Lord was with them during the day in a pillar of cloud; at night His presence was seen in a pillar of light.

Warning Against Idolatry
1 Corinthians 10 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
(They were all baptized; all ate; all drank --> They were God's people. Yet with most of them God was not pleased.  Only two of them out of hundreds of thousands pleased the Lord.)
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 

Five Clear Warnings

1.  Do not crave evil things.  (Read Numbers 11)

God had rescued the people from the clutches of Pharaoh, and had provided them with daily food.  They weren't happy about the manna, and began wailing.  The Lord became exceedingly angry, and gave them the meat they were so desperately craving.  Quail came upon the camp, so much quail that the birds were three feet deep.  When the people put the roasted quail to their lips, the anger of the Lord burned against them and He struck many of them down.

There's no prohibition against eating meat, so what was going on?  Eating meat is not sin.

No, but craving an evil thing is sin.  The people were rejecting God's provision for the moment in which they were living.  God had decided that at that time, manna was what His people were to eat.  He provided the manna, and they should have been content.

How about you?  Are you content with God's provision for your life right now?  Are you contented with your financial situation, with your relationships, with your health, with your job?  Are you pleased to wait on the Lord and trust His provision?

Or are you wailing?

2.  Do not be idolaters.  (Read Exodus 32)

God had appointed Moses to be the leader of His people, and Moses taught them that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was immortal, invisible, omnipotent and omniscient.  While Moses was on top of the mountain, meeting with the living God, the people demanded a "god" they could see.  They did not stay true and faithful to the invisible God who had delivered them, but instead opted to worship a golden calf made out of the jewelry they had received from the Egyptians.

God sent a plague and the sword against His people in judgment.

Are you waiting on this invisible God?  Are you trusting His timing?  Do you worship idols - "gods" of your own making?  What takes you away from God?  What occupies your thoughts and takes your energy?  What makes  you despise God and His ways, and prefer people or fortune or fame or things?

God hates idolatry.  He judges people for it.  Take heed lest you fall into the sin of idolatry and are judged.

3.  Do not be se x ually immoral.  (Read Numbers 25)

God instructed His people to remain pure, and to marry within the Children of Israel.  They instead went whoring after Moabite women.  God brought judgment upon His people, and thousands died in a plague.

In our culture, immorality is everywhere.  It doesn't shock us anymore, because it is so prevalent.  Music videos, dancing shows, singing shows - many of them demonstrate impurity, and nobody bats an eye.  Guard your purity!  If you don't, there will be consequences.

Royal has seen the destructive effects of people who choose to be impure.  Marriages crumble, lives are destroyed.  Immorality is the great destroyer.  Take heed.  Do not fall into this sin lest you face judgment now.

4.  Do not test the Lord.  Do not provoke the Lord your God. (Read Numbers 21)

Don't try to see how far you can go with Him.

Numbers 21:4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

There's a clear downward spiral that can be present in your life:

  1. Discouragement
  2. Impatience
  3. Rebellion

"There's no bread and no water, and we detest this worthless food!"  All they could do was complain.  They let their discouragement over their circumstances cause themselves to be impatient... and their impatience soon led to rebellion.

Don't do it!  Don't let  your discouragements make you impatient so that you rebel.  If you are discouraged, turn to God.  Give your troubles to Him.  He will remove the thorn in your flesh in His good time.  Trust Him.  Wait on Him.

Discouragement should cause God's people to flee to the only One who can change things.

5.  Do not grumble. (Read Numbers 14)

God promised His people the Land of Canaan.  His intention all along was that there would be a battle for the land.  It was never His intention to hand the land to them without effort and strategy on their part.  

The people didn't trust God.  When the spies went in to check out the land, most of them came back saying "There are giants in the land.  We can't attack them.  We're too weak!"

Most of that generation would fall by the way, because of their grumbling and their lack of faith.

Numbers 14:29
. . .your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me. . .

None of them would be allowed to enter the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb.  Everyone 20 years old and up would die in the wilderness.   What a tragedy!  And all because they grumbled and did not trust God to do what He said He would do.

It is crucial that we keep our faith and trust in God.  We must build ourselves up in our most holy faith.  Troubles will come, trials will come, and what will our reaction be?  God wants us to react as people of faith.

We are not to grumble.  We are not to react in anger against His will.

Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands
take heed lest he fall.

  • Take sin seriously.
  • Fight against sin!  Be like Paul, and beat your body into subjection.
  • Rest in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Listen to His prompting.  Obey!
  • Don't get comfortable with sin.

God finishes this section of 1 Corinthians 10 with this promise:

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God is faithful.  He'll make a way to escape!  When we are tempted, we can flee to God.  He stands ready to help, ready to make a way of escape, so that you can endure the temptation.

WARNING:  All these things happened to Israel, the covenant people, when they fell into sin. Take heed!  Don't take sin lightly.  Don't think that it's not important.  Don't think that because you are part of the new covenant that you are somehow exempt from temptation.  It's a battle.  You were called to a life of holiness.  You were called to battle against sin.

Fight on!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Walking in the Light

As I was reading my Bible this morning, I kept thinking about the reality of living in this world filled with paradox.  It is our home; but it is not our home.  It is filled with joy; it is filled with sorrow.  It is beautiful.  It is very, very ugly.  

Evil is present, and it will not be totally removed from this world until the close of the age.  One only has to look at roadside bombs in Afghanistan, or at G8 riots in Toronto, or at a murdered young woman in London, or at a deceitful spouse who promises yet again that he will change.

In Matthew 13 we read,

The Parable of the Net
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50  and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place  there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 Notice that the good fish and the bad fish are gathered together.  They live together before the gathering at the close of the age.  This is the same as in the Parable of the Weeds, where the weeds are allowed to grow up with the wheat.  The plants may look similar at the beginning, but come harvest time, the weeds are separated from the wheat and bound in bundles to be burned, while the wheat is gathered into the barn.

We Christians live in this world, right alongside those who care nothing for Christ.  We live together, we work together, we laugh together, we play together.  Sometimes there isn't much to indicate that we're different from one another.  At the end of the age, we'll know.  God will separate the good fish from the bad fish, the weeds from the wheat.  

1 Cor. 8:3 says, "If anyone loves God, he is known by God."

God knows His people.  And His people walk with Him, every step of the way.

1 John 1: 5b God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
So, what is walking in the light?

It's an awareness that you are living "Coram Deo", before the face of God.  It's a settled certainty that everything that ever happens to you is filtered through His gracious hand, for your good and for His glory.  It's a desire to keep in step with the Spirit, to reflect His perfection in this human sphere by teaching the truth and living a holy life.  Walking in the light means that your life will be different - not sinless - but vulnerably honest.  There's an admitting of sinfulness and a desire to live a life of purity.  There is no deception.  

Walking in the light means that you will have deep fellowship with God, as well as deep (and deepening) fellowship with your fellow human beings.  There'll be a progressive cleansing from all sin, as we confess and He forgives, and we grow more righteous as we learn to shun evil.

Walking in the light means there'll be a desire for change and an acknowledgement that change is impossible without a work of God.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Walk in the light with me.  It's so much more satisfying than walking in darkness.

Ask me how I know.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

91 Degrees Fahrenheit

Or 33 degrees celsius.

That's how hot it was today.

I got a call first thing this morning from Adeena, who informed me that a predator had wreaked havoc with her chicken flock, killing 20 of them through the night.  How horrible!

When a crisis hits one of our family members, we rally around and do what we can to help each other.  So, today, we provided an executioner (Jared) to dispatch the rest of the chickens so the raccoon wouldn't get them too.  We provided a holder (Daniel), a skinner (Linda), three gutters (me, Elena and Tiana) and a parter (Heather, who was too squeamish to do anything else).

We salvaged the breast-meat and legs off of the murdered chickens to use for dog food.

Then we processed the 12 birds that survived the onslaught.

When we were finished, we sat down to watch a semi-final game of the FIFA world cup between the Netherlands and Uruguay.

Then we went grocery shopping.  Linda took care of putting all of the groceries away while I watched Critter's soccer game.  They tied, 3 - 3.

I am totally exhausted.  Have I mentioned how hot it was today?

33 degrees.

Or, in Fahrenheit, which sounds even more impressive, 91.  That's HOT.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Long Goodnight.

Sono Harris passed away, and her son Josh wrote on his blog that he takes great comfort in the words to this song.  You can go here to Josh's blog to listen to the song.  While you're there, pray for the Harris family. 

I journey forth rejoicing

From this dark vale of tears,
To heavenly joy and freedom,
From earthly bonds and fears;
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Why thus so sadly weeping,
Beloved ones of my heart?
The Lord is good and gracious,
Though now He bids us part.
Oft have we met in gladness.
And we shall meet again,
All sorrow left behind us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I go to see His glory,
Whom we have loved below:
I go, the blessed angels,
The holy saints to know.
Our lovely ones departed,
I go to find again,
And wait for you to join us.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I hear the Saviour calling,
The joyful hour has come:
The angel guards are ready
To guide me to our home,
Where Christ our Lord shall gather
All His redeemed again,
His kingdom to inherit.
Goodnight, goodnight till then!

I often wish I had the hope of seeing again my loved ones who have passed from this life to the next.  Those who died (Grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles) without ever expressing hope in Christ leave me wistful.  Those who died with a faith in Christ leave me with a sense of joyful anticipation.  I look forward to a grand reunion some day with all those who have trusted Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I am exhausted.  I am happy.  I have a few comments about camping with my family at Creekside.

  1. You are all the BEST!
  2. Jeffie is the BEST HOST.
  3. Adeena is da Bomb.  
  4. I am not going through all of you one at a time.  Too tired.
  5. But, you kids (big and little) are so cute.  Your smiles make my day.
  6. You're good at sports. 
  7. You play well together.
  8. I like Kate.
  9. You're competitive, but caring.
  10. Anna is a cutie-pie.  (All those London Billsons are.)
  11. Haley doesn't scream loud, but she's brave to demonstrate her "kata".  I want to see all of the katas next time.
  12. Elena and Tiana  and Linda are GREAT aunties.
  13. Patrick and Daniel are GREAT uncles, too.
  14. Wesley is the blondest baby around.
  15. I love chubby baby legs.
  16. The stars are beautiful at Creekside. So's the moon.
  17. That is the coolest outhouse ever.
  18. Linda and Critter have the beat down pat.
  19. Thanks for the hydro.  You spoiled me.  I'm worth it.
  20. Thanks for the Yellow Tail.  You spoiled me.  I'm so worth it.  :D

I have no more thoughts tonight, except that I thank God for my family, for the great outdoors, for good food and good fun and grandchildren and cousins and love and friendship and caring, especially for those who hurt.