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Christian Hospitality Is A Reflection Of The Gospel (Nick Kennicott at The Christward Collective)

All Christians are part of the household of God.
All Christians were once welcomed to that household by God’s grace.
All Christians have a role in welcoming visitors to that household as an expression of the grace we’ve received.

From Nick Kennicott at The Christward Collective.

To be hospitable is to welcome a person with open arms, with an open heart, and with an open door; it is an openness to care for and love others, putting their needs before our own to ensure, at the very least, that they feel welcome in our midst. Fulfilling the Bible’s command to be hospitable in the local church is a responsibility of every Christian.
The motivation for Christians to be hospitable is to remember that we are the recipients of God’s hospitality. We were once strangers, wanderers, orphans, and aliens, but by the grace of God, we were made alive together with Christ. Thus, Christian hospitality is a reflection of the gospel. The ultimate hospitality was Jesus Christ dying for sinners to make all who believe, not only visitors, but members of His household.

Read the whole post here.

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The Danger Of Moralistic Preaching That Drives Hearers Away From Christ (via David Prince)

An extended article pointing out how Biblical preaching, even preaching based on Gospel texts can lead people away from fellowship with Jesus through moralistic applications:

It is possible to preach only true assertions from the Scripture and yet mislead hearers regarding the truth of the faith because none of the truths of Scripture are meant to be understood in isolation. When ethical and moral imperatives are proclaimed as sufficient, even abstracted from Jesus, the result is a crossless Christianity in which the central message becomes an exhortation to live according to God’s rules. Christless, moralistic preaching is not restricted to the Old Testament. Frequently, gospel-free sermons emerge from the gospel narratives themselves, their significance reduced to mere moralisms.
When preaching is moralistic rather than Christ-centered hearers who possess a seared conscience may develop an attitude of self-righteousness: according to their judgment they are adequately living by God’s rules. Faithful believers with tender consciences may despair because they know that they constantly fall short of God’s standard. In other words, preaching bare moral truths (moralisms) often drives people away from fellowship with Christ.

Read the whole post at Christward Collective.

If you hear a sermon tomorrow, may its moral imperatives lead you to Christ, and base your response in knowing Christ.

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The Slow Miracle Of The Lord’s Day (via Greg Wilbur)

It is true that what people perceive as a sudden noticeable drop in weight is actually nine months of steady committed discipline and effort.
Consistency bring results.
God wants his people to gather together week by week under the means of grace for a similar purpose.
Come and worship tomorrow.

Greg Wilbur reflects on Scripture, the writing of Muether and Hart, and the Westminster Catechism.

As we consider corporate, congregational worship and its elements, can we approach it from the standpoint of submission because we know it is good for us rather than from the position of what we personally like? We submit to that type of discipline in exercise, eating, and learning new skills. The same applies to the on-going discipling (discipline) of Lord’s Day worship. It takes time to see results of an exercise regimen, and there are various times of success and plateaus but by looking back from where we have come, we see the trajectory of better fitness and health. The same is true with the discipline of worship and the trajectory of spiritual fitness and health.
Lord’s Day worship imperceptively reorients our affections towards heaven and away from earthly concerns, towards the eternal rather than those things that are passing away, to the way of the cross instead of our own comfort. To paraphrase my pastor, God did not redeem us by the blood of His Son in order for us to sit comfortably in our pew every week. The on-going shaping of the Sabbath equips, prepares, challenges, and changes us.
Have patience in the work of Sabbath observance—in your own heart and in the response of the congregation. The Spirit is at work in these outward and ordinary means.

Read the whole post at the Christward Collective.

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Rejoicing In Revival Whereever It Happens (via Nicolas Alford)

Nicolas Alford writes about three unhelpful reactions that Christians can have to revivals.
When God sends revival to a church other than the one we belong to there is a strong temptation to not recognise what is happening as being the fruit of the work of God’s Holy Spirit.
An excerpt.

When we assign to apparent revival in other quarters a “broad way” condemnation because of the various ways they aren’t like us and therefore aren’t faithful to God’s Word and therefore couldn’t possibly be enjoying his blessing while we aren’t, don’t we betray the cynical elitism in our hearts?
Let’s not do that. When our Christian brothers and sisters in other denominational contexts see real blessing from God on their labors, let’s not let our various disagreements with them over doctrine and practice prevent us from recognizing the true work of God in their midst. Let’s not betray a belief that if God isn’t blessing us (or those most incredibly like us) whatever we are seeing must be a mere mirage of revival. Being different from us doesn’t put another group beyond the reach of God’s blessing anymore than it puts them beyond the reach of His grace. This of course doesn’t apply to those who hold to outright heretical views–I’m not talking about that. But not all doctrinal disagreements are heretical. There are a multitude of second tier issues which Christians will always disagree on. Are we really ready to say that those who we disagree with over Baptism, or the exact role of the Law, or the precise nature of the Spiritual gifts or many other issues we rightly make distinctions over are so far gone that we can’t grant to them the genuine blessing and favor of the Lord? Do we really want to say with our dismissive attitudes that we are the only ones who are deserving of His favor?


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God Is The Lord Of Time, Even Our Time, Even On Sundays (via Megan Hill)

Megan Hill reflects on how the unique rhythms of Sunday teach witness to those who observe them of God’s rule over us in everything.

God Is the Lord of Time
On Sundays, we acknowledge that God is the author and ruler of time itself. At creation, God made time. He separated light from dark and established the daily cycle of morning and evening (Gen. 1:3-5). At creation, God also organized those days into a pattern of six and one (Gen. 2:1-3): six days for ordinary work and recreation, one day for rest (Ex. 20:11).
As tempting as it might seem to believe we are masters of our own time—carefully manipulating an interlocking puzzle of Google calendar entries—we are not. God is the one who created time, who set us in it and bound us by it, and God is the one who rightfully directs us how to use it. When we submit to his pattern of six and one, we acknowledge that God is the Lord of time.
For our children, too, the disruption of Sunday is a chance to remember that even our schedules are under the Lord’s authority. Once a week, the Lord breaks into our routine and reminds us that naptimes and snacktimes are not ultimate, nor are they determined by our own desires. In all things, we serve the Lord.

Read the rest at Christward Collective.

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We Don’t Attend Worship. We Worship. (via Christward Collective)

Jeff Medders reminds us that we can thank the Reformation for the fact that Christians in churches of the Protestant tradition gather to worship, not to observe worship.

You can see what was a common theme of pre-Reformation worship services. The priests worshiped and the people watched. The people attended the worship service. Spectator worship was the norm. Was. We no longer merely attend worship. We worship. We gather together on Sundays to sing, to pray, to serve, to hear, to remember—to worship our great God and Saviour.
We need to dust of Luther’s hammer to drive a nail through the noggin of spectator worship. We don’t gather for Christian pep rallies. During Lord’s Day services, we aren’t tagging along in worship with a worship band. We are all worshipping together. On Sunday mornings, we aren’t being served religious goods and services by trained professionals. We are worshipping. If you are a believer united to Jesus, you are a worshipper. Don’t ever merely attend worship. Worship!

Read the rest at Christward Collective.

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Faults To Avoid In Public Prayer (via Christward Collective)

Along the gradual disappearance of Bible reading from gathered worship, the loss of public pastoral prayer is another mystery situation which I notice when visiting other churches. (Of course there’s lots of music)
On Christward Collective Nick Batzig has posted Samuel Miller’s Frequent Faults In Public Prayer.
Given that there are eighteen of these they go to more thoughtful depth that the usual “Stop saying ‘Lord’ or ‘just’ all the time”.
Here are some examples:

Avoid praying in minute detail for certain things. Balance out prayers in general. Especially for a Lord’s Day morning service. It is good to pray according to the same general nature for all the things for which the one leading prays. If there is a man or woman who has a terminal sickness, it is sufficient to plead with the Lord to heal that individual. There is no need to go into all the specifics of that with what he or she is dealing.

Avoid Excessive length. Miller includes a hilarious illustration about George Whitefield. While in America on one of his itinerate visits, Whitefield stayed at the house of a certain man who asked if he could lead everyone in family worship. Apparently this man started to pray and kept on praying and praying and praying. After the prayer, Whitefield went up to man and said, “Sir, you prayed me right into a spirit of prayer and then you prayed me right out of it.” He then corrected the man for trying to pray a long prayer out of pretense to be seen by Whitefield. This is a good reminder for all who lead in public prayer. We are praying to the Lord and are not heard for our many words.

Avoid introducing too much didactic statements — whether Scriptural or not. Miller explained that “the public prayer is not a theological lecture addressed to the One who sits on the throne of grace.” It is a prayer, not a sermon. While the one leading should pray Scripture back to the Lord, it is to the Lord that he is praying–not to the people to be heard by them.

Read the whole post at Christward Collective.