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The Lord Looks on the Heart. 1 Samuel 16

The Lord Looks on the Heart

Where Samuel anoints the least likely boy as king!

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

When reading and speaking on the OT, some modern preachers will use a preaching method called, ‘allegory’. That’s where you take a historical narrative like this, and ‘spiritualise it’ – so that it becomes about you or me. So, they will look at the historical story of David and Goliath, and ask something like, “What’s the giant in your life? Perhaps it’s debt… What ever it is, you can defeat your own personal giant! And how did David slay the giant? With five smooth stones, so those five smooth stones become five principle to deal with distress in your life. It is a complete distortion of what the historical narrative is for. The history books of the Bible are to reveal God’s dealings with His people, in providence and redemption. Yet I can confidently tell you that the OT is about Jesus because that’s exactly what the Bible teaches us! Look at:-

  1. Jesus speaking to the Jews in John 5:38-39 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
  2. The story of the men walking along the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. The Old Testament is full of Christ!
  3. Christ’s words to His disciples, Luke 24:44-45 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.
  4. The story of the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:30-35  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Think how Christ is directly introduced, right after the fall of man, as the seed of the woman, (Gen 3:15), how the Messianic Psalms speak of Him, the Suffering servant in Isaiah… Think how many OT prophecies were fulfilled in Christ’s birth and life and death. The OT is about Jesus, about God, his redemptive plan, his Covenant of Grace with mankind, and the expectation of a coming Messiah. So we are going to look at the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, and see Christ in all the Scriptures. So let’s remind ourselves of what we read in the text…

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Prayer: A Case Study 1 John 5:16-17


Text: 1 John 5:16-17.
John has been speaking about prayer, and how we may have confidence in prayer, and then he adds this next verse, perhaps as a case-study for what he has just taught us; praying for sinners! What does John mean when he says that there is a sin not unto death, and a sin unto death?

1. Sin unto Death / Sin not unto Death.
Now John’s readers knew what this meant. We have a little more difficulty with it. I’m intrigued, and I have looked at as many commentaries on the subject that I can find, and all I can conclude is that every commentator seems to treat this text differently! Here’s a couple of suggestions:-

  • Roman Catholic view of sin. The Roman Catholic Church has a two tier view of sin, – sin that is mortal and sin that is venial. So the priest in the Roman confessional has the horrendous task of trying to decide which sins are mortal and which are venial and which will carry which penalty, and how much penitence will be needed for each sin. IT IS THE MEASURE OF THE SIN THAT DETERMINES ITS SEVERITY AND WHICH CATEGORY IT IS IN.
  • The Jewish belief in sin. The Jews also had a two-tier view of sin. Sins for which atonement could be sought and sins ‘with a high hand.’ A man could be tempted and sin, or be filled with anger or passion and sin, he could err, make a mistake and sin, or he could sin without even being aware at the time that he had sinned. But when that man realises he has sinned, he is filled with remorse. He is ashamed at what he has done and filled with regret and sorrow, and he REPENTS of his sin before The Lord, and is forgiven. BUT, what if he sins ‘deliberately?’ What if he plots to sin, and having sinned, he has no regrets, what if he enjoys his sin, and revels in his sin and continues in his sin with arrogance and pride? That is SIN WITH A HIGH HAND and for sin like this there is NO FORGIVENESS!

I wonder is that what John is speaking about here? Is John simply talking about sins that lead to death, because the sinner refuses to repent of his sin and be forgiven. Romans 3:23, For the wages of sin is death! Now, if that IS what John is referring to here, then the implications of what John is saying is clear. We must pray for sinners, and we must pray for sinners to be saved, to know God’s forgiveness and pardon, so that they may have eternal life, – BUT IF THE SINNER WE ARE PRAYING FOR WILL NOT REPENT OF HIS SIN, turn from his sin and turn to Christ, OUR PRAYERS WILL NOT BE ANSWERED AS WE WOULD WISH THEM TO BE!

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Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 13


Before you begin: Read Philippians 2:1-11

33. Why is He called God’s “only begotten Son,” since we also are the children of God?
Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God,(1) but we are children of God by adoption, through grace, for His sake.(2)
(1)Jn. 1:14, 18. (2)Rom. 8:15-17; Eph. 1:5-6; I Jn. 3:1.

In a recent inter-generational conversation with my granddaughter (aged 7) she pointed out to me that my Bible, laid open on the desk in the study was all ‘coloured in.’ I explained that it was marked, to highlight different themes in the texts, and annotated, to remind me of things that I had learned. She listened with great patience, and then asked, “Can I colour in some of your Bible?” “Of course you can,” I replied. “Which verses would you like to colour in?” The answer was swift in coming… “The verse that says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son!” There is no doubt that John 3:16 is probably the best known and best loved of Bible verses, and her mention of it gave me the opportunity to explain it to her. “Who was God’s only begotten son? It was Jesus!” “Yes!” Then came the inevitable question. “Grandad, what does ‘begotten’ mean?” So came the challenge. Explain the eternal Sonship of Christ in a way that a seven year old child can understand!

Actually the catechist does a fairly good job of that for us, and he does it by contrasting our Sonship (for we have already seen that God is our Father) with the Sonship of Christ, and he does it in the context of his lessons on the Apostles Creed, which says. ‘And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord’. He asks how we can say that Jesus is God’s only begotten son, when we too are sons of God. And the answer, of course, lies in the word ‘begotten’. There are two major doctrines presented to us in this question and answer:
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God Distributes His Grace and Mercy as He Wills

The Shop Steward of the National Union of Vinedressers and Fig-pluckers was an angry and easily irritated man, but he liked to think he was fair. He believed firmly in the modern dogma of equality, and had even sat for a spell on the Equality Commission’s Horticultural Investigations Sub-Committee. He represented the lowest paid workers in his local region, and was determined to get them the best and fairest deal he could, even in the face of scheming and ruthless vineyard owners and managers. In his chapter of the union, most of the members were casuals, men who were on minimum wags, and zero-hours contracts, a device he swore had been brought in to cheat honest workers out of an honest day’s pay.

Every morning before sunset his members would rise and go down to the hiring-fair, where the vineyardmen would come with a list of the men they needed for work that day. They would go along the lines of labourers, poking at their muscles, looking at their teeth, pulling at the rags they wore, to make sure that would be fit for the full day’s work ahead, then they would make their decision, pull out the handful of men they selected and the bargaining would begin. The price would be agreed, and the Shop Steward would do his best to make sure that every one of his men was treated the same. After all, equality is important for the working classes, and we all have to stick together, and be united. It’s the only way to ensure fairness, after all, as he often reminded them, the only thing a working man has to sell is his labour. Read more…

Perfect Calm

Perfect stillness and calm over the waters of Strangford Lough, turing one’s mind to the perfect peace that we have in our soul, through Christ, knowing that our sins are forgiven, and that we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. We have quiet confidence, fully trusting in Christ our Saviour.

In returning and rest shall ye be saved;
in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength – Isaiah 30:15

Sketrick Castle, Whiterock Bay
Co Down, Northern Ireland

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Woman Bishops Again – Welby Watch #4

Welby Watch #4

No192, A ‘WELBY’ (Well-bay) A Charismatic universalist who passes himself off as an evangelical.

It’s happened, not that anyone ever thought that it wouldn’t happen. The Church of England, the institutional church, has now approved the ordination of woman bishops.  Watching Welby has become a bit of a national pastime.  As the vote was being taken for the woman Bishops, Welby was observed by several news outlets to be deep in prayer!  Perhaps praying that his gullible followers would vote to distance themselves even further from Biblcal truth…  I wonder how far heavenwards that prayer went!
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How to Pray with Confidence – 1 John 5:14

How to Pray with Confidence.

Text: 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life, so as soon as John has established that we KNOW that we are eternally saved, with a heavenly destiny, through faith in Christ, he moves on to prayer… and that same confidence that we have in our eternal salvation applies to our prayers. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, If we are truly saved:-

1. We will pray ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.if we ask any thing according to his will,
People just love ‘how to’ sermons! John uses the ‘how to’ technique to teach us to pray effectively, in a way that will always guarantee an answer. But in this case, there is no mystery to it, and you don’t get a list of tips or principles. John just states what is totally obvious, – God is sovereign, and nothing happens without him ordaining it or permitting it, so if our prayers reflect his will, he will hear our prayers, and what are are praying for will certainly come to pass. So the first thing we need to know is this…

  1. What is THE WILL OF GOD? There are people who agonise over finding the will of God ‘for them’. God’s will is sometimes hidden and is sometimes revealed! Let’s try to distinguish between the two:-
    1. God’s Hidden Will. His secret will. God ordains everything that comes to pass, for he has sovereign authority over this creation, He made it, and He sustains it and he orders it. There are things that God has not chosen to reveal to us, and we cannot know them and we must simply trust him. We leave these things with the Lord.
    2. God’s Revealed Will. There are many areas, however, where god’s will is perfectly plain. It is revealed to us.
      1. Revealed in his word. It is his will that we should only worship him, that we should keep the Sabbath Day holy, that we should honour our parents, that we should not steal or murder our commit adultery, or be jealous, and that we should repent and confess our sins and be forgiven. On all of these matters there is no doubt about what the will of God is, and our response to that will is to obey it! 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6  If you want to know the will of God read his word, read it in context.
      2. Revealed in our conscience. God has, to some extend written his will upon our hearts. Paul explains this for us in  Romans 2:14-15, Our conscience is an inbuilt check on behaviour, which to some limited extent mirrors God’s revealed will. What had happened? Her conscience had spoken to her, and reminded her of god’s law, his revealed will. Which says ‘thou shalt not steal!’
  2. Our will and His Will. So, on the subject of God’s will, the regenerated heart should be predisposed to surrender his or her will to God’s will, knowing that his way is always perfect, and accepting that whatever our life’s path may hold, God is in charge, and we can fully trust him
  3. Praying the WILL OF GOD. So, let’s draw this all together in some practical sense.
    1. We will always be mindful to pray that God will bring us into conformity with his revealed will.
    2. Where we are concerned with God’s hidden will, with the future, with our plans, without family, our wellbeing, we will pray, “Father, I do not know what lies ahead, but I trust you, and whatever comes to pass, I pray that your will might be done, so that you might have all the glory. James 4:13-15

And Jesus taught us to say, when we pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’.

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