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Lord's Day Liturgy

Renewing amidst Ruining

For every Christian the inner man is being “renewed” day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). The wearing down and out of the outer man can’t stop the renewal and, actually, to the degree we can see by faith what’s happening and where we’re headed, a part of the inner renewing occurs through the outer ruining. This renewal is partly a direct work by the indwelling Spirit (Titus 3:5), and it is partly a mediated work as the Spirit applies the truth of our testimony.

We are “transformed by the renewal of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2), “renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). The Spirit takes the truth and works it into us.

The Lord’s Supper also renews our inner man. This shared meal, an ordinance instituted by the Lord for His body, is a regular and repeated part of our renewal. It is a kick in the joy pants by the Spirit through faith as we’re reminded of the new covenant purchased and on its way to being perfected.

A taste of honey renews hunger. A jolt of adrenaline renews energy. A bite of bread renews thankfulness and unity as we partake of the one bread (1 Corinthians 10:17). A sip from the cup of blessing renews peace and our sense of freedom as those who participate in the blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16).

It is all good news for those who confess Jesus is Lord, so eat and drink.

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Ordered Affections

Knowing which mental shelf something belongs on is more than mere convenience. Groupings and hierarchies work for our good.

Two categories of affections are life-shapers. Affections can be aimed toward good or bad, they can be weak or strong, but they can also be comparative or integrated. The comparative and integrated categories are something I first read about in The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney. In order to please God we must have both and they must be in the right order.

By comparative affections we mean that we love nothing more than God by comparison. We love Him with all our heart (Matthew 22:37). We love Him more than mother or son or daughter (Matthew 10:37). We desire Him more than anything on earth (Psalm 73:25). Nothing compares. Even though He is unseen, the things of earth seem dim in His light (2 Corinthians 4:18).

As necessary and orienting as they are, they are regularly used to guilt others into sacrifices, and guilt is greater if they’re treated like the only category of affections. We could be made to feel bad that we’re hungry at all since, I mean, isn’t man supposed to live by the Word of God (Matthew 4:4)?

Of course bodies and bread, and hunger and baking, are all God’s ideas, ideas which are explained in that Word we live by. He is Lord of the seen things, even if they are temporary, and He requires that we receive them with thanks, that we steward and invest and share with others following His generous example. We are commanded to love our neighbors, our wives, our enemies.

These affections are integrated affections. Because we love God we don’t try to make every day Sunday. Because we love God most we know how to keep money as a servant not an idol. In order to love God, some of our minutes are spent examining if He is the preeminent love, and most of our minutes are spent putting that into practice.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Nothing Can Stop Him

What can you do with a whole group of people who know that they will be raised with Jesus and brought into His presence (2 Corinthians 4:14)? Believers, these are truths for you:

God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. (1 Corinthians 6:14).

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)

This is true for each Christian, but it is also true for all Christians, that is, for the church. He will “present the church to himself in splendor” (Ephesians 5:27), He will present the whole body “holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:22), He is able to keep us from stumbling and present us “before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).

What can the world do with that sort of people? What can threaten them? What can be taken from them? What affliction is not able to be a reason for grace to extend that thanksgiving would spread to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:15)?

We are those with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe, and so we speak (2 Corinthians 4:13). We believe, and so we eat and drink with thanks, knowing that Jesus will bring us into His presence, and nothing can stop Him.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Even the Boring

I got to bat clean up at our youth retreat last week and my assignment was to give the “So what?” I worked through this sentence:

That every one of you would walk worthy of the Lord in wisdom by the Word for your work and witness in the world.

It took a whole sermon to address each of the Ws, but for this exhortation, let me drill down on walking worthy of the Lord.

Walking is a metaphor used a few times in Colossians. Paul prays that the believers would walk worthy of the Lord (1:10), exhorts them to walk in Christ (2:6), and reminds them again to walk in wisdom toward outsiders (4:5).

Walking is the most mundane yet intentional thing we do each day. We breath, but we do that even without conscious decision. We eat and drink, which is daily, but that satisfies an internal hunger mechanism. Walking is the most feet on the ground, attention-requiring, all-embracing analogy for our deliberate conduct.

The walking metaphor isn’t just about behavior, but about even the boring behavior.

We are to walk worthy of the Lord. This sort of worthy is not about deserving to represent Him, but about sharing a similar weightiness to Him. The word for “worthy” applied to measurement by scales where balance was required between the weights and the object. The Lord is on one side, our walk is to match His. This is pleasing to Him (Colossians 1:10).

we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12, ESV)

As necessary, repent and turn around from walking in the wrong direction, as well as from any false equivalence; do not be moldy oranges to Christ’s golden apples.