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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Tuesday
Nov152016

"The God of Heaven Will Make Us Prosper" -- Nehemiah 2:1-20

The Twelfth in a Series of Sermons on Ezra-Nehemiah

In the winter of 445 BC, Nehemiah received word of the current situation in Jerusalem.  The Jewish exiles who have returned to Jerusalem are struggling.  The city’s walls and gates remain in ruins–after eighty years.  The ruined city now brings shame upon the people of God–they and their city are an object of ridicule.  Deeply saddened by this news, Nehemiah spent the next four months praying to “the God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and is steadfast love,” pleading that YHWH will hear the prayer of his servant and keep his covenant promises.  YHWH hears his servant, Nehemiah, and answers his prayer in the most remarkable of ways.
            
After recounting his heartfelt prayer in the opening chapter, Nehemiah simply tells us,“now I was cupbearer to the king.”  The king’s cupbearer was the most trusted member of the royal servants.  He was the man responsible for the security of the Persian king Artaxerses, who was, arguably, the most powerful man in the world at that time.  The vast Persian empire extended from Asia Minor (Turkey), to the Black Sea (on the northwest) to the coast of Libya on the southwest, to the Indus River (on the East).  The Persian empire included remnants of famous empires now fallen, including the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Jewish kingdoms.  The book which is the object of our study, Nehemiah, was written by a man who was a Jew–a descendant of those exiled to Babylon in 587 BC.  Although far removed from the ancient homeland of his people, news came to him about the great difficulties faced by the Jewish exiles who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon over the previous eighty years since the city fell to Nebuchanezzar and the Persian king Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jews to return home.  Although a pious Jew, Nehemiah is perhaps the personal servant closest to the Persian king Artaxerses I, tasting his food and drink, and personally responsible for the king’s safety from assassins in his inner circle.

Our text this morning, Nehemiah 2:1-20, is divided into two parts.  The first ten verses deal with Nehemiah’s interaction with king Artaxerses, and reveal the first hint of on-going opposition to Nehemiah’s mission to rebuild the walls and fortifications of Jerusalem.  Verses 11-20 of Nehemiah 2 recount Nehemiah’s initial efforts to survey the city and its walls.  Despite the work which had been completed at the temple, the city’s walls and gates remain in terrible shape.  Nehemiah must survey the damage in order to formulate plans as to how to rebuild the city’s fortifications before a disaster occurs.  

According to Nehemiah 1:1-3, word about the state of Jerusalem came to Nehemiah while the Persian court was in Susa, where the king maintained his winter palace.  One of his brothers informed Nehemiah that “the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile,” were struggling, and that the “remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame.  The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”  This news sent Nehemiah into a state of despair.  According to verse 4, Nehemiah explained that “as soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”  The balance of the opening chapter includes Nehemiah’s prayer of intercession for God’s people.

But it is the way the opening chapter ends–with what seems to be a innocuous throw-line, “I am the king’s cupbearer”–which actually provides us with the essential piece of information we need to understand how YHWH will answer Nehemiah’s prayer.  In the providence of God, it was Nehemiah’s personal relationship with Persia’s king (as his cupbearer) which becomes the means through which God will answer Nehemiah’s prayer for Israel, and open the door for Nehemiah to be the one who will go to Jerusalem and oversee the massive project of rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.  This will ensure that the exiles who have returned from Jerusalem will be able to defend themselves from the “people of the land” (Canaanites), and from any possible attack from Persia’s enemies to the southwest, i.e., the Egyptians. 

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Nov142016

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (November 14-20)

Sunday Morning, November 20.  We will continue our new series on Paul's Letter to the Colossians.  We will be looking at our Lord's work as creator and redeemer and focusing upon Jesus' work in the new creation (vv. 3-13).  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  This coming Lord's Day we take the Catechism's discussion of the person of the Holy Spirit (Lord's Day 20, Q & A 53).  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, November 16:  We are wrapping up our look at Paul's "Man of Sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.

Academy:  Resumes in February 2017 with a viewing and discussion of Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Info), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

 

Sunday
Nov132016

"To the Saints in Colossae" -- Colossians 1:1-14

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on Colossians 1:1-14, the first in a new series.

Click Here

 

Sunday
Nov132016

This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website)

Immanuel, God With Us

In the Gospel of Matthew we find the following lines from Isaiah’s prophecy applied to Jesus, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel which means, God with us.” Yet the context of that original passage appears to be about a child who was to be born during Isaiah’s own lifetime. The hosts use this example to discuss the fact that many Old Testament promises have an initial temporary fulfillment, along with an ultimate and eternal fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Click Here

Friday
Nov112016

My Sentiments, Exactly . . .

Wednesday
Nov092016

I had the Weirdest Dream Last Night . . .

I woke up this morning and thought to myself, I had the weirdest dream last night . . .  

Donald Trump was elected president. 

The Cubs won the world series. 

The UK left the EU. 

And then the Clintons just disappeared . . .

But at least I can now get stoned if I want, even if I can't buy bullets or use a plastic bag when I go to the store.

The turnout numbers from this election help put things in proper perspective--Americans stayed home or didn't vote top of the ballot.

From Ben Sasse's twitter feed this morning:  Republican vote was down, but HRC's vote was down much more  . . .

2008 -- Obama 69 million
2012 -- Obama 66 million
2004 -- Bush 62 million
2012 -- Romney 61 million
2008 -- McCain 60 million
2016 -- Clinton 59.6 million (with a few more to go)
2016 -- Trump 59.4 million (with a few more to go)

Tuesday
Nov082016

"The Prayer of Your Servant" -- Nehemiah 1:1-11

The Eleventh in a Series of Sermons on Ezra-Nehemiah

Along with Ezra, Nehemiah is one of the great figures from that period in Israel’s history after the exile (second temple Judaism).  Nehemiah is a remarkable leader–serving for a time as governor of Judah–a Godly man as seen in his prayers and desire for his people return to the proper worship of YHWH.  At the same time, he is a trusted member of the Persian royal court.  Nehemiah stands as one of Israel’s greatest Reformers, and a man from whom there is much to learn.

We return to our series on Ezra-Nehemiah–picking up where we left several months ago, with opening chapter of the Book of Nehemiah.  Frankly, it is hard to make sense of Nehemiah, without some knowledge of the Book of Ezra–which is why I felt it important to tackle both books together, not just the Book of Nehemiah as many preachers do.  The two books of Ezra-Nehemiah circulated together in the Jewish canon for a reason–they are clearly connected and depict the return of the Jews from exile and the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple from two different perspectives.  If Ezra is the more fact-based narrative utilizing a number of official Persian government documents, Nehemiah is a much more personal book–more than half of which is the author’s journal and which is described by one commentator as “some of the most lively writing in the Bible.”  Ezra, he says, was more reserved, while Nehemiah “leaps out of the pages at us.”  A practical and emotional man, in this book we are snooping in Nehemiah’s personal journal, written during a time of great difficulty for the people of God.

As we proceed this time, we’ll begin by answering the questions, “who, what, where, and when,” before we turn to our text, the opening chapter of Nehemiah, which includes “Nehemiah’s prayer.”  As for the “who” question, in the opening verses the author introduces himself as Nehemiah the son of Ha-cal-iah.  The name “Nehemiah” means “the Lord comforts” which is certainly an appropriate name for a man who appears on the scene during a very difficult period in Israel’s history.  The author introduces himself to us as the “cupbearer” of the Persian king Artaxerxes I, who ruled over the vast Persian empire from 464 until 424 BC.  The book opens with Nehemiah pleading with the king to be sent to Judah (the land of his people, the Jews) to help them rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which were in great need of repair so as to protect the now-returned Jewish exiles from attack from their neighbors–who, as we have seen, are angered that the returning exiles will not embrace the pagan rituals of the Canaanites, most Israelites choosing instead to remain loyal to the religion of their fathers.  Nehemiah is appointed governor of Judah, and quickly comes to the realization that his people (the Jews) are in great need of reformation–a reformation of their own hearts.

I have long felt that some of the poorest preaching I have ever heard has been on the Book of Nehemiah.  I say poor not because the preachers of whom I am thinking were bad communicators, or that they were not men of faith.  Quite the contrary, I’ve heard good preachers do remarkable, spell-binding things with the text of this book.  But they do so at the price of missing the whole point.  Nehemiah’s purpose really is as mundane as describing how the city and its defenses were rebuilt because his people were in real danger of attack.  In our day, the temptation is great to see this book as an allegory which applies to modern readers.  Because Nehemiah demonstrates passion and capable leadership, sermons on the book of Nehemiah are often framed as a series of principles for successful “leadership.”  The image of rebuilding the walls far-too often and far-too easily becomes an illustration to us as to how we can rebuild our own fallen lives and go from ruin to recovery.  Even worse, the wall-builder motif has been shamelessly invoked by churches as “biblical” support for fund raising during various church building projects.  Be a Nehemiah– “Help us build the walls of our new church.”

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Nov072016

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (November 7-13)

Sunday Morning, November 13.  We begin a new series on Paul's Letter to the Colossians.  I'll be introducing the letter and looking at the opening section (vv. 1-13).  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  This coming Lord's Day we continue to discuss Christ's rule (or session) in Lord's Day 19, Q & A 50-52.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, November 9:  We are looking at Paul's "Man of Sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and will discuss the great apostasy.  Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.

Academy, Friday,  November 11:  We are studying Mike Horton's theology text, The Christian Faith:  A Theology for Pilgrims on the Way.  We are continuing our time in chapter 10 (p. 343) looking at the doctrine of creation.  The discussion/lecture begins at 7:30 p.m.

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Info), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Nov062016

"God Shall Supply All Your Needs" -- Philippians 4:10-23

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon--the last in our series on Philippians

Click Here

Sunday
Nov062016

This Week's White Horse Inn (Updated Website)

Why the God Man?

Why did Jesus refer to himself as the Son of Man? Did he ever specifically make the claim that he was God? Why did the world need “God in human flesh” to rescue us in the first place, and was this idea of a divine descent ever mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament? The hosts will address these questions and more as they begin a new series on The Incarnation.

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