Prepare your heart today to hear with expectation the preached word tomorrow…
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:18-31 ESV)
While this may be a special time of our calendar year to celebrate the resurrection, in a very real sense our worship tomorrow will be nothing out of the ordinary. We will assemble together as children of the king, as we normally do. We will sing of God’s great mercy revealed in the cross, as we normally do. We will hear with anticipation the proclaimed word of God, as we normally do. We will give offerings to God and his church, as we normally do.
The miraculous part of it all is that our ordinary weekly worship gathering is always extraordinary. We are always celebrating the ransom payment of Jesus in his perfect life and death, and we are always rejoicing over the victorious resurrection after three days in the tomb. Our ordinary weekly worship is consistently miraculous. Why? Because God has put us in Christ Jesus, “who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…”
Esther is one of my favorite books of the Bible along with Ruth. The only 2 books in the Bible named after women, both of these books not only have a great story they have a great Savior. So on this GOOD FRIDAY as I celebrate the love and mercy of God as Jesus paid for my sins (past, present, future) let’s look at how this great book begins to tell the story of our Great God.
Think you know how to throw a party or celebration? Try following in the footsteps of King Ahasuerus. Verses 3 and 4 tell us that he 1st threw a party for “the officials and servants.” Now if Governor Haslim threw such a party, I would not be on his guest list. And this wasn’t just an all nighter—-the party lasted 180 days!! Wow!! But wait, after that party, the King opens the doors for everyone (verse 5) great and small—for another 7 days! I can only image there was a few hangovers during that 187 days. As we see in V. 8, “each man was able to do as he desired”. And we learn that the ladies were having their own party with Queen Vashti. Now we get to the problem. The King, “merry with wine” calls for the Queen to make an appearance before the guys. Needless to say, the King was proud to “show off” the Queen as V.11 tells us “she was very easy on the eyes” (ok, it did not exactly say it that way but you get the picture). In verse 12, the Queen refuses the request of the King. This can’t be good. Don’t King’s usually get what they want? Not this day. And now the problem gets bigger. If the Queen can be disrespectful of the King, can you image what reaction that will create with all the “regular wives”? So the chairman of the deacon council (ok, it did not say it exactly that either) Memucan tells the King that he needs to make an order that Vashti shall be banned from the King’s presence forever for her actions” And the King had the order go out into all the land.
So what can we take from Chapter 1 of Esther to help us in our daily walk with the Lord? At this point only, hard to image. But you do want to keep reading. And as you read thru Esther, it becomes apparent that God is in control, not King Ahasuerus. God is at work even when we do not see any evidence today. So be encouraged and know with assurance, God has a plan and purpose for you, your family and His church. And the cross is all the proof that we need.
The Celebrated City
Psalm 87 is a glorious celebration of Zion, Jerusalem, “the city of God,” as the special object of God’s love and the royal city of His kingdom. It represents all that is holy and good in the plans and workings of God among His people. It looks ahead prophetically to the ingathering of the nations into Jerusalem as the reigning religious city of the world in the coming messianic kingdom. Israel will remain the chosen nation of God as the nations of the world will come to Zion to worship God.
To this present time, Jerusalem remains the apple of God’s eye, the city in which He has promised to uniquely show His glory. It was outside of Jerusalem, that Jesus died for our sins. It was outside of Jerusalem that Jesus rose from the dead, having victory over death and the grave. It was outside of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, that Jesus went back to heaven. It was inside Jerusalem that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the first Christians. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus built the first church. It will be outside of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, that Jesus will set foot again on earth to usher in the end-time events. It will be in Jerusalem that Jesus will rule for a thousand years. These events explain how special Jerusalem is to our holy God, so should it be the same with us who love God.
1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you-you are my God.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.
7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
David’s plea for mercy and his humble request for spiritual growth tells us a lot about him. As king of Isreal he wasn’t lacking in anything material but it was the wealth of God’s grace that he truly desired. It was his pursuit of God’s own heart that made David a godly man. David was by no means righteous because of deed, but it was his love and faith in the Lord that David was known for his greatness.
I remember when the Lord revealed himself to me. I was spiritually running about 190mph when I found the dead end to the road that I was on. From the fear and pain from the wreckage of the sudden impact, I knew that there wasn’t anyone who could help out of the mangled mess I was in. From the bottom of my heart I cried out to God and He heard me. It was from the healing of His right hand that I understood that what I couldn’t see was more real that anything that I could see. I understand the love that the Psalmist have for the Lord and I thank Him for tending to my poor and needy spirit.
It is because of your Spirit that I know that I belong to Christ Jesus and I thank you for allowing me to share a small part of my testimony.
It is in your holy name that I give thanks. Amen.
Paul speaks about the division that was arising in the church at Corinth. People in the church began to follow a particular man in the church, some Apollos others Paul. These verses of scripture are wonderful because Paul get straight to the point by pointing out that we are not to attach ourselves to any human. We come to gather as a congregation not to praise any man but to lift up the name of Christ alone. We also need to be reminded that the Lord and His word alone is what grows us in Christ. A teacher is just a mouthpiece for the word of God, He alone gives growth.
1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
The Lord uses each of us for his purposes that he sees fit. We are not our own we are God’s field. As we hear scripture the Lord uses His own words to bring a harvest to Himself greater than we can ever imagine. All for the Glory of God.
Remember today 1 Peter 2:5 “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ
As you read Psalm 84 today I pray that you would dwell on the reverence that is expressed in the psalmists words. I pray that you would let the immense love that is communicated in these words resonate in your heart and in your soul. For it is only when we understand the heart behind these words that we begin to understand why it is that we were created. It is the heart behind these words that characterizes our divine role in life. Yes, if we pay attention we will find within these words the meaning of life.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God….. Psalm 84:1-2 (ESV)
You see while we so often live life in a manner that attempts to make the most for ourselves, mankind was actually created for the sole purpose of glorifying God with every fiber of our being. On the flip side, it is when we fail to give God due reverence that we are at the root of sin. Perhaps R.C. Sproul put’s it most succinctly when he says “Sin is cosmic treason”. So as you read these beautiful words by the psalmist today, don’t merely dwell on the words. Dwell on the divine splendor that the psalmist is so in awe of. And, let this splendor create in you a heart that erupts in praise!
” God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” ~John Piper~
How gracious of God to lead us to begin reading in 1 Corinthians the very day before we will begin considering it as a congregation on Sunday mornings. For the next 8 weeks, Lord willing, we will be instructed, encouraged, and rebuked by this strong letter to a struggling church.
In the opening section today we read of both the status and pressing issue of the church. The status of the church was sanctified, righteous in God’s sight by trust in the Lord Jesus. The pressing issue of the church was division. Groups within the church were dividing into camps based on their preferred leader and preacher. Some followed, Paul, others Apollos, and still others preferred Cephas. This is just the leading issue among many to follow, but Paul’s treatment of their ailments is steady throughout. “Look to your status in Christ,” he encourages them, “because in Christ you are secured by God and united as brothers and sisters under one head, the Lord Jesus.”
Throughout this long letter Paul reminds this struggling church over and again to turn away from sin, laziness, and selfish desires and turn to Christ, the head of the church. Our hope is that over the next 8 weeks God will use his word to grow our church and draw us into health and vibrancy as we lift up the name and good news of Jesus.
Will you devote a few moments now, and again as you drive to church tomorrow morning, to ask God to send his word out with power in our midst. That he might transform, encourage, and build us up in the grace of our Lord Jesus as one body.