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The Comforting Church (via Christina Fox)

True Gospel comfort is meant to be shared.
From Christina Fox at the Gospel Coalition:

This story of gospel comfort in 2 Corinthians reminds us that we’re all united to Christ, and that when he is at work in one of us, it affects all of us. God’s grace multiplies as it works through the life of a local church.
The comfort God gives, however, isn’t for us alone. We can’t hoard it. The ways the gospel has changed us must be shared; the truth of who Christ is and what he has done must be voiced.
Based on this truth, the comfort we give to one another in the church isn’t the “you can do it” and “everything will be okay” comfort of the world. No, this comfort is honest about sin and its effects. It doesn’t sugarcoat or wish things away. Instead, it seeks hope and help outside of our own strength and in the only One who can save. It’s grounded in the glad news of who Christ is and what he descended to do.
What does such comfort look like in the church?

  • When the Spirit helps us put sin to death, we share that joy with other believers so they too can rejoice in the gospel’s power at work.
  • When we’ve endured a season in which God met us in our pain, we share it with other believers so they too can see God’s faithfulness.
  • When God provides what we need in the eleventh hour, we share that joy so others can know that God is Jehovah-Jireh, our provider.

When God strengthens us in weakness, when he heals and brings redemption, when he teaches us through discipline—in all these ways and more—we share that comfort for another’s spiritual good.
May our friendships in the church be unique. May they be marked by gospel comfort. And just as Paul, Titus, and the Corinthians experienced God’s comfort, may the gospel come full circle in our own churches as we witness and testify together to what our King has done.

Source


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 7

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 7

20.
Q. Will all men, then, be saved through Christ as they became lost through Adam?
A. No. Only those who, by true faith, are incorporated into him and accept all his benefits.

21.
Q. What is true faith?
A. It is not only a certain knowledge by which I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in his Word, but also a wholehearted trust which the Holy Spirit creates in me through the gospel, that, not only to others, but to me also God has given the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation, out of sheer grace solely for the sake of Christ’s saving work.

22.
Q. What, then, must a Christian believe?
A. All that is promised us in the gospel, a summary of which is taught us in the articles of the Apostles’ Creed, our universally acknowledge confession of faith.

Q. What are these articles?
A. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty’ from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.


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Faith And Mercy (preparing for MGPC 18/2/18)

Song: Man Of Sorrows
Welcome:
Call to Worship
Song: Let Your Kingdom Come
Prayer Of Confession
Song: The Lord Is Good And Just
Affirming our Faith: New City Catechism 33
Song: Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
Bible Reading: Esther 3:1-15 – The evil royal official Haman, enraged by Mordecai’s refusal to bow before him, plots the annihilation of the Judean exiles throughout the Persian Empire.
Bible Memorisation: James 2:14-17
Song: Holy. Holy, Holy
Bible Reading: James 2:1-13
Video: James Bumper
Sermon: Faith And Mercy
Song: Make Me A Captive Lord (Tithes & free will offerings will be taken up during this song. Guests are not obligated to give an offering.)
Announcements:
Pastoral Prayer:
Closing Blessing
Song: This Is Amazing Grace


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Feeling Dusty

“Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
Many Christians around the world will be hearing those words as part of Ash Wednesday liturgies.
Apart from making my annual declaration about giving up needless asceticism for Lent, what can be learnt from the season?
Thoughts of 40 days of denial (or any denial, anytime) is counter-productive if it is thought to be emulating or repeating what Jesus did.
Jesus wasn’t simply denying himself for a time, he was contending against the forces of spiritual darkness and winning.
Any denials of our own simply point to our own inability to prevail against evil.
They usually demonstrate our own inability to prevail against ourselves.
Any asceticism on our part should not emphasise our capacity to emulate, but our frailty and dependence on Jesus’ achievement.
It is in the completeness of our weakness and inability that the extent of the Lord’s victory is come.
We don’t inspire ourselves through convincing ourselves of our capacity to walk like Jesus.
Our inspiration is a conviction of our incapacity, and the knowledge of both Jesus’ actions and the spiritual victory he shares with his people.


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Perfectionism Is Just Chronic Insecurity In Disguise (via Sam Kim)

Sam Kim writes about the social media fueled anxiety that seems to be eating away at younger generations.

Courtesy of Ed Stetzer’s blog:

In a culture based on shame and superficiality, the elephant in the room, which is the pressure to be amazing, is always staring directly at us.
If we truly want to win the hearts of the next generation with the gospel, we must help reclaim their identity as the beloved, because only perfect love can cast out fear.

Read the whole post here.


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Faith In The Son Of God Is Not About Fast Changes (via Joel Littlefield)

The transition from outside the kingdom into the kingdom happens all at once.
The transition of the character of the lives that have gone from completely outside to completely inside takes longer.
We shouldn’t be discouraged.
As Joel Littlefield writes Things That Matter Rarely Happen Fast.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Compared to the tree that it produces, it’s among the smallest of seeds. Being a Christian in this Kingdom will mean that what is being produced in us by Jesus, though it be small and comparatively insignificant right now, will one day have influence that spreads like the branches of a large tree. Seeds are planted and may not sprout for days. Yet with time and patience, fruit comes.
Faith in the Son of God is not about fast changes. It’s about truth hidden in our hearts that is doing something now, and will one day spring forth as great trees producing more fruit than we can imagine.

Read the rest of the post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 6

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 6

16.
Q. Why must he be a true and righteous man?
A. Because God’s righteousness requires that man who has sinned should make reparation for sin, but the man who is himself a sinner cannot pay for others.

17.
Q. Why must he at the same time be true God?
A. So that by the power of his divinity he might bear as a man the burden of God’s wrath, and recover for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

18.
Q. Who is this mediator who is at the same time true God and a true and perfectly righteous man?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is freely given to us for complete redemption and righteousness.

19.
Q. Whence do you know this?
A. From the holy gospel, which God himself revealed in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, afterward proclaimed through the holy patriarchs and prophets and foreshadowed through the sacrifices and other rites of the Old Covenant, and finally fulfilled through his own well-beloved Son.