Though our Lord Jesus Christ was despised, rejected, ridiculed, shamefully mistreated, and murdered by wicked men, yet it brought about the greatest good to the world. The good news of salvation has been despised, rejected, ridiculed, and opposed since it was first proclaimed. Those saved by the grace of the gospel through the work of the Holy Spirit should not be surprised or overwhelmed by the opposition, but rejoice that Christ is delivering those who oppose themselves (2 Tim. 2:25) unto the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Trust him who is still working through you and Speak the Truth in love.
In Proverbs we are taught that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (25:11). But it must be heard or received in order for it to be truly fit for the occasion. Again in Proverbs we are told that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21). But again we must remember that the ear is an integral part of that transaction. In other words, one of the most important marks of a true disciple of Christ is how well one listens, believes and does what Christ said. Many people hear the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, but the question is what do they do with what they hear? What about you?
The sermon includes some thoughts on how we can create a work of art for the glory of God with our words. Enjoy!
““I will build My church.” (Matthew 16:18)
This promise has monumental implications for every follower of Jesus Christ. “I will build My church.” Each of the five words in this brief declaration reveals an essential truth of Christian life and service.
First, this promise discloses who will build the church. “I [Jesus]will build My church.” Jesus is the builder of the church, not man. He wants to use us in the process, but He is the builder. Paul understood this arrangement. “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation“ (1 Corinthians 3:10). By the grace of God, Paul served the Lord. As he went about proclaiming Christ, the Lord was using him to lay the foundation (Christ) in lives that were being saved and individual churches that were being started.
Second, Jesus’ promise reveals the certainty of His church being built. “I will[assuredly] build My church.” There is no room for doubt. Jesus will do what He is promising. The only question for us is whether or not we will be available as a part of this wondrous process. The Lord wants to make us usable for His work: “sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
Third, this promise indicates the mannerin which the Lord wants to work. “I will build [construct] My church.” As with any construction project, there are both the quantitative and qualitative aspects. The Lord saves souls, adding them to His church in a quantitative increase. “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). The Lord also enriches those He saves, bringing to His church qualitative development. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
Fourth, His promise settles the issue of ownership. “I will build My [Jesus’] church.” The church does not belong to the Pastor, the Church Board, or the District Office. It is Jesus’ church. He paid the price to redeem us: “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood“ (Acts 20:28).
Fifth, this promise specifies exactly whatJesus is going to build. “I will build My church [His people].” The church is not a building. This word (church) literally speaks of “a called-out people.” “But you are…His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God“ (1 Peter 2:9-10).
“Dear Lord Jesus, I honor You as the builder of the church. I rest in the certainty of Your task being accomplished, both quantitatively and qualitatively. I see that the church, Your redeemed people, belongs to You. Also, I humbly ask that You equip me and use me as You fulfill this grand promise, Amen.”
Devotional thought from July 13
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be they name. You have created the heaven and the earth and all that in them is. You have ordered by your word that which is to be; in You we have our being and our only hope.
As the country has set this day aside as the day in which we honor our mothers; let us not forget that You have provided in Your Law how we would live and have our being. You have given us life through the motherhood of the woman. So may we honor this means by which you have ordained your kingdom.
As our savior while dying on the cross committed to his beloved disciple “behold your mother”, so might we also show that love to those in our care. We would bring before you those in the congregation that have the responsibility, by your goodness and mercy, of nurturing their children in that love. Instill in them the love for Your church and Your people; provide for them the comfort and assurance that comes only from your fatherly hand. Be with them as they look forward to being good parents and help them that they may bring up their children in true adoration for your word.
As the world assails us with its modern ideas of family, may we here at Rehoboth, the Churches of the RCUS, and those others of like mind be faithful to the precepts of your word; that as your people we would live and show the love that you have shown to us by the sacrifice of your only begotten son on the cross. As our Lord showed his compassion for his mother and for his disciples by His obedience, give us the will to live according to those ways—-as you have commanded in the tables of your law—– that we also would live in obedience to your word. Help us to love one another and seek to serve one another, as today again we are reminded of these things.
Help us to rejoice in these things:
“But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God. Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help. (Psalm 22:9-11)
For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You. (Psalm 71:5-6)
In the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
by Elder Robert Mettler
Here is another great comment found in the devotional Day By Day By Grace by Bob Hoeksma for Wednesday, April 13th that coincides with our discussions on Knowing God. Here is the devotional thought in full.
“That I may know Him…Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do…”one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”(Philippians 3:10, 13 and Luke 10:42)”
Paul’s goal in life was to grow in intimacy with the Lord: “That I may know Him.” He wanted to know the Lord so well that his life would be transformed into “resurrected living” in this spiritually lifeless world. He humbly admitted that he had not yet reached such spiritual maturity. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended.” Thus, in light of his own need to grow, coupled with the excellence of the goal, he had a single focus in his life: “one thing I do.” This one thing was his ongoing quest to knowthe Lord more and more.
This focused quest is similar to the heart that Mary demonstrated, as recorded in the gospel of Luke. When Jesus visited the home of Mary and Martha, Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:39). Martha was functioning as a busy hostess, desiring to bless her Lord. However, her busy labors distracted her from the one she was attempting to serve. “But Martha was distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40). The solution was obvious to Martha. She would insist that Jesus send her sister to help. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me”(Luke 10:40).
How startled Martha must have been when Jesus indicated she was the problem, not Mary. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). The many concerns of Martha’s ministry were causing anxiety and inner turmoil. Her desire to serve the Lord had deteriorated to self-pity and irritation. Then, Jesus offered an astounding revelation that put everything into perfect spiritual perspective. “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
What an amazing truth: “one thing is needed.” That one necessary matter is Jesus. Mary chose Jesus. She was at the feet of her master, getting to know Him, listening to His words of truth and grace. This was Paul’s heart: “one thing I do…that I may know Him.”
“Dear Lord Jesus, shape in me a heart like Paul’s, like Mary’s. Stir in me a passion to know You better. May this become the consuming goal in my life. Forgive me for allowing busy service to eclipse You, the one I desire to please. Help me to spend frequent quiet times at Your feet. Then, when I rise up to serve You, may my heart always remain at Your feet, abiding in You, Amen.”
In the providence of God, the comments found in the devotional Day By Day By Grace by Bob Hoeksma for Monday, April 13th coincide with our discussions on Knowing God. Here is the devotional thought in full.
Eternal Life and Knowing God
““And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)”
This statement by the Lord Jesus begins in a very profound manner: “And this iseternal life.” To complete such a statement requires comprehensive truth. If the statement had started with “this is included in eternal life,” many non-comprehensive matters could be used to finish the statement. One could rightly state that forgiveness of sins is included in eternal life. One could properly say that escaping hell and securing heaven are included in eternal life. Likewise, one could say that meaning and purpose for living are included in eternal life. Additionally, one could state that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit are also included. Furthermore, one could say that fellowship in the body of Christ and new understanding of the Scriptures are included. Nevertheless, none of these individually, nor all of these collectively, are sufficient to complete the statement: “And this is eternal life.”
To finish that profound beginning, one must add an all-encompassing truth. One must speak of the full dimensions of eternal life. What is large enough to complete that majestic opening? Only the one reality of knowing God would be adequate: “that they may know You.” Yes, knowing God is what eternal life is all about. It is only through meeting the Lord that forgiveness is found. It is only by being in Christ that we escape hell and secure heaven. Then, it is only through getting acquainted with the Lord that meaning and purpose for our lives are made real to us. Also, it is only through a growing intimacy of trust in Christ that spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit can properly mature. Furthermore, it is onlythrough an increasing acquaintanceship with the Lord that Christian fellowship and biblical insight are appropriately developed.
These truths certainly concur with those prophetic words of old that promised a new covenant of grace to replace the old covenant of law. “I will make a new covenant…not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…But this is the covenant that I will make…I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Hebrews 8:11 applies these words to followers of Christ. “All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” The new covenant provides a growing, intimate acquaintanceship for all who will walk in its terms of grace.
“Dear Father, I confess that I have often thought and behaved as though eternal life were less than knowing You. Help me to understand and to live the very essence of Your new covenant of grace—Your provisions for allowing me to grow in knowing You, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.”
In the beginning of His prayer before He laid down His life for those whom the Father had given Him, our Lord Jesus Christ referred to the gift of eternal life in the following way; “this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). It is with this in mind that we begin a discussion with the goal of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord God. In other words, our purpose is to know God, to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever.
This purpose can be found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. For example, He expressed his own desire and purpose to the Philippians in this way. “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”(Philippians 3:7-11). Furthermore he exhorted the Corinthians that “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
I found it interesting that Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, expressed this purpose in a slightly different way at the beginning of his Confessions (written in the form of a prayer). In chapter one we read “Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and Thy wisdom infinite. And Thee would man praise; man, but a particle of Thy creation; man, that bears about him his mortality, the witness of his sin, the witness that Thou resists the proud: yet would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy creation. Thou awake us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it finds rest in Thee. Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee? and, again, to know Thee or to call on Thee? for who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? for he that knows Thee not, may call on Thee as other than Thou art. Or, is it rather, that we call on Thee that we may know Thee? but how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? or how shall they believe without a preacher? and they that seek the Lord shall praise Him: for they that seek shall find Him, and they that find shall praise Him. I will seek Thee, Lord, by calling on Thee; and will call on Thee, believing in Thee; for to us hast Thou been preached. My faith, Lord, shall call on Thee, which Thou hast given me, wherewith Thou hast inspired me, through the Incarnation of Thy Son, through the ministry of the Preacher.”
Over a millennium later, during the Protestant Reformation, a number of books of instruction on the Christian faith (called catechisms) were produced that reflect this thinking. Here are three examples.
- The first question in the Geneva Catechism asks; “What is the purpose of life?” It provides a great answer that reflects the teaching of John Calvin recorded in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. The answer is “To know God by whom men were created.”
- In a similar manner, in question 6 in the Heidelberg Catechism, after addressing the effects of the fall of our first parents asks; “Did God create man thus wicked and perverse?” The answer beginnings with a simple “No” and then proceeds to teach that “but God created man good, and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness; that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.”
- Finally in question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, on the purpose of life we find a reflection on the Apostle Paul’s statement to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:31) in this way; “What is man’s primary purpose? Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”.
I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts and interaction on this great matter.
Pastor Michael Voytek
We at Rehoboth Reformed Church are excited about our new meeting place at the Cerritos Elementary School located at 13600 183rd. Street in Cerritos, California. It is situated just off the 91 Freeway (Carmenita exit) and not far from both the 605 Freeway and the 5 Freeway.
We held our first service there on December 1st and have been enjoying the larger meeting room, and the children have been busy playing on the playgrounds, basketball courts, and fields that are available after services.
Come and join us as we worship our great triune God.
I found the following devotion (December 16) by Bob Hoeksma in his book “Day By Day By Grace” to be very encouraging so I thought I would past it along to you.
– Pastor Voytek.
Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace
“The God of all grace…to the praise of the glory of His grace…the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…the Spirit of grace. (1 Peter 5:10; Ephesians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9; and Hebrews 10:29)”
Our Lord God is “the God of all grace.” God’s comprehensive and infinite grace is characteristic of all the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father will be honoured forever for His grace, so we read: “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” The Son makes that grace available to all who believe, so it is called “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Spirit applies that grace in the hearts of those who follow Jesus Christ, so He is called “the Spirit of grace.” Grace is found in God alone. Therefore, one must relate rightly to the God of all grace in order to receive all that He has for us in fulfilling His purposes and glorifying His name.
We relate rightly to the God of grace by developing a personal relationship with Him. Getting to know God is what life with the Lord is all about. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). In fact, knowing the Lord is man’s ultimate treasure in all of creation. Everything else that competes is to be considered as loss. “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8). It is not surprising then that getting increasingly acquainted with the Lord is the way that His grace impacts our lives. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2).
As we get to know the God of all grace more and more, He develops in us two strategic relational realities: humility and faith. Relational realities are spiritual qualities that become practically real as a result of a growing relationship with Christ. We have looked at these two spiritual qualities many times throughout our meditations. Repeated reflection on humility and faith is appropriate, since they unfold the practical heart of living daily by God’s grace. “Be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). God’s grace is given to those who “walk humbly with [their] God” (Micah 6:8). Likewise, faith accesses grace. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2). Walking in humble dependence is the way to relate rightly to the God of all grace.
“Dear God of all grace, I want to relate to You rightly that I might live daily by Your grace. Help me to know You more and more that humility and faith might develop in my life. I long to walk before You in humble dependence, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”