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Meditations

Thinking on the Creator

The beauty and wonder of creation is neither accidental nor incidental; it is purposed to evoke delight and awe. Because creation was purposed, it’s spellish attraction and inspiration make sense. Creation was purposed for rational creatures to rejoice, not in the creation alone, but in the delight of the God who creates.It is most certainly a matter of learning to appreciate the greater through the lesser. Creation was purposed for rational creatures to stand humbly in awe of God. The sheer pleasure of creation arouses a disposition commonly identified with gratitude. A thoughtful person ‘appreciates’ such things.

Have we stopped today to think about and thank God for creation? All who have ears to hear and eyes to see and the will to perceive the invisible attributes of God in the things that have been made are clearly called to honor God and give Him thanks in their thinking (cf. Romans 1:20-21). May God be glorified in what we perceive, enjoy, and think about in His creation.

-Pastor Manny

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Special Observances

We Must Not Forget

Israel was repeatedly instructed to keep their history alive. When children would ask about the Passover feast, their parents were specifically instructed to explain not only the historical significance, but the greater reality of God that stands behind it (Ex 12:26-27). Repeatedly the covenant people were reminded to not forget their heritage in the Lord (Dt 4:9, 23, 41; 6:12; 8:11, 14, 19; 9:7; etc.).

A very significant principle is demonstrated in this. God stands behind all history and all history will work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes (Rom 8:28).

We must not forget the history of our great nation. America was founded on the belief that ideas have consequences and that the most powerful, profound, and influential thoughts of mankind are inseparable from our religious beliefs. Religious faith was understood to be crucial to the support and existence of a free society. We must not forget this.

Today we celebrate the liberty that we enjoy in America and commemorate that decisive day in history wherein our independence was forged. The idea was great. The cost was great. The consequences are great. The responsibilities are even greater. We must not forget.

I thank God for America; my country that I love. Please pray for our nation this day, where so much of her history is forgotten. Where so many of the principles upon which she was founded have been reinterpreted and misrepresented. Where God is now so often mocked instead of “trusted.” We must not forget; we must keep the legacy of God’s spectacular work in this land alive.

Instead of asking for God to bless America, let us pray this day that America glorify God!

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Meditations

“Who is this Son of Man?”

Jesus of Nazareth, born in the line and city of David, is the long awaited King. He is King of Israel and all the nations of the world. But Jesus was–and is–not the King of popular expectation.

“He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him” (John 1:10). More than that, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). Their reasoning went like this: “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” (John 12:34).

They emphasize that they listened to the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, inspired by God Himself and handed down from Moses through the prophets. They “heard” from the Scriptures something that on the face of it appears to contradict what they “heard” from Jesus; namely, that He came to die. They said, “How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up?”—meaning: how can you say that the Messiah must be crucified (cf. John 12:33).

This is not the King of their expectation! Protest erupted in their hearts and they cried, “Who is this Son of Man?” They place a great deal of stress on “this,” which ridicules Jesus’ version of the promised King.

They knew, for instance, that the Christ was to be “given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Dan 7:14). There is to be no misunderstanding; this seal was placed upon Jesus even at His birth: “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33).

The people confirmed that Jesus was claiming to be “Christ” (John 12:34), even by the Messianic title, “Son of Man” (John 12:34); they just did not like Jesus’ version of the Christ. So they retort, “Who is this Son of Man?”

Jesus was–and is–not the King of popular expectation. The King did not appear for their glory; He did not come to glorify them, He came to glorify the Father. The Messiah was not on a mission to glorify man-centered dreams. God’s plans are far greater than anything that we can ask or imagine. The glory that they imagined was self-serving and self-centered, but the glory that Christ revealed was God-centered.

There is a striking reality here that is much closer to us than we realize.

Like these men and women of Judea, most people today want to enter into the promised kingdom of God. People want to enter into heaven on earth. They would love a kingdom of peace, prosperity, love, joy, safety, justice, and life as it was meant to be. People would throng to enter such a kingdom.

So if a miracle-working man were to enter in on the scene, in the power and authority of the prophets of God and in the testimony of God’s promises of old, surely we would hail Him as king and rejoice (cf. John 12:12-13)! We would more than want to encourage Him to setup His kingdom now (cf. John 6:14-15). We want to enter!

What bars us from heaven now? Why is our world in turmoil and why will it never experience true peace until God’s kingdom comes through the cosmic renovation of the new heavens and new earth (cf. 2 Peter 3:13)? Why do some prosper while others starve? There is a problem that is deep and very uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, we are naturally blinded to it. We do not see it and when we hear of it we naturally deny it. Denial is a psychological mechanism of defense. The problem with this world is not our environment—the problem is us!

Heaven would not be heaven if we were there like we are now. No one will enter that place who is not righteous. And we cannot be made righteous unless every one of our thoughts and intentions of unrighteousness were blotted out, taken away, paid for, dealt with and punished according to perfect justice. How quickly we forget that the wages of sin is death! We cannot both suffer eternal death because of our sin and enjoy eternal life without our sin.

We cannot enter God’s kingdom without righteousness, and we cannot be righteous without death. The only righteous solution is a substitute. A substitute sacrificed in our stead, in our place, on our behalf. The substitute must be morally free from all unrighteousness, a man who is without blemish or stain, one who is absolutely perfect.

Of all people, it is the King Himself, and the King alone, who comes as our substitute! Who is this Son of Man? He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the righteous King who saves His subjects for life through His own death. This is the most amazing message of all-time and over all kingdoms.

–Pastor Manny

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Special Observances

Imitable Fathers

Of all the exhortations directed to dads this Father’s Day, I pray that imitability is impressed upon hearts and sealed with the fear of God. By ‘imitability’ I mean a life and character that is worthy of being imitated. It is nearly virtuous in our day for a dad to say that he does not want his children to be like him; he wants them to be better than he is. Such is commonplace and commendable in our culture. It may come across as a kind of (false) humility. It may be translated as love, serving as an expression of high desire for your children. But in the end, it is not much different than saying “do as I say and not as I do.” It conditions the heart and mind of men to inadvertently evade their responsibility to influence their children for the glory of God. Fathers who endorse the idea that they are not worthy of imitation fail to realize that being an example is not a retractable feature of fatherhood. Fathers are examples to their children regardless of their quality of character. Unworthiness is never a license for irresponsibility. While we may pray for our children to receive even greater blessings than we ourselves, we are responsible to provide our children with a portrait of godly character—as fathers whose character should be imitated.

But God’s Word teaches us to be imitable fathers. Our supreme example is the fatherhood of God. Just as we are called to imitate our Father in heaven, so fathers are called to be imitable. As God’s children, we are told to “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1) is built on the maxim that children will imitate their fathers. Our heavenly Father says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16). In various ways, He calls us to be like Him (Mt 5:44-45; 1 Jn 3:1-2). Imitation is a key principle of the fatherhood of God. We can look to our Father in heaven as our example and grow in our imitation of Him. This is a model for earthly fathers. What is more important than the debate over quality versus quantity time, than material gifts, than providing them opportunities for financial success, etc.? What is more important is to live every day before the face of God in an imitable way.

Let us consider how God fathers us in an imitable way. He sends for us (1 Jn 4:14). He draws us to Himself (Jn 6:44). He saves us (Ps 89:26). He calls us to obey Him (1 Jn 5:1-3). He disciplines us (Pr 3:11-12). He works for us according to His plan (Gal 1:4). He has compassion on us (Ps 103:13). He forgives us (Mt 6:14-15). He guides us (Dt 1:31). He rewards us (Mt 6:17-18). He values us (Mt 6:26). He knows our needs (Mt 6:32). He provides for us (Mt 6:26). He is our model of stability (James 1:17). He gives us what is good (Mt 7:11). He promises us an inheritance (Rom 8:15-17). He grants us peace (1 Cor 1:3). He is merciful to us (2 Cor 1:3). He comforts us (2 Cor 1:3-4). He gives us hope (2 Thess 2:16). He loves us (2 Thess 2:16). Our relation to God as our heavenly Father is not merely one of origination. It is not merely one of authority. It is not merely one of lordship. It is not merely one of ethics and obedience. It is a rich metaphor that illustrates an all-encompassing relationship of likeness, loyalty, learning, life, and love.

In as much as a father imitates the fatherliness of God, he is a true father. Wherever a father fails to imitate God, he falls short of true fatherhood. May dads be renewed in the thought that any absence of God in our fathering corresponds to the absence of God in our living. May we live lives that are imitable for the glory of God and good of our children.

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Meditations

Life Branded By Death

The only life peculiarly marked by the Resurrection of Christ is a life peculiarly lived in constant thought of the death of Christ.

A right response to the gospel is death to self and life to God because of, by the power of, and to the praise of His glorious grace. The only truly “Christian” life, then, is a life branded by death—the death of Christ.

May we live this day by faith, in this thought: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

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