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July 28, 2013 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

John 15:1-17 [NLTse]

“I am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in Me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. 16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Last week we read from John 6 and Jesus feeding the 5,000 only we talked about it as “the boy who did the miracle with Jesus by giving Him his five loaves and two fish”. And we talked about what miracles we might do with Jesus if we put our stuff and our time and our abilities into His hands each day as that boy did with his fish and bread?

Since last week I’ve had a number of people approach me to find out about Bible studies they could begin attending and ministry teams they could join. And you’ll see a special insert in the Bulletin that tells about all the Study Groups – some that are going on now, others that will be starting in September – and some of the Ministry Teams needing gifted servants to join them now. In addition, I also had several of you approach me asking if I would spend more time talking about how we can do our work and be at school and live our lives amongst our friends and neighbors in ways that put our selves into Jesus’ hands. And for that reason we’ve jumped from chapter 6 in John here to chapter 15.

When asked about the greatest commandment Jesus said, “To love God with all we have, do, and are, and to love those around us the same way we love ourselves.” Wanting to put our selves into Jesus’ hands, to live our lives in at His direction, to enjoy such close fellowship, and to be the instruments of His miracles has us going beyond just a knowledge of the Scriptures and Christian doctrines: This desire among you is at the heart of abiding in Christ, remaining in Christ, dwelling with and in Christ, seeking to achieve the goal the Scriptures and Christian doctrines are all pointing to: That is, loving God, and our neighbors as ourselves. And that’s where abundant life is found – loving our Father and each other as the Lord teaches us about true love in the Scriptures and Christian doctrine.

At the heart of remaining in Christ is commitment: Have we committed ourselves to Hiim? Are we willing to be boldly known as being Christians at work, at school, and around our communities? Too many Christians are known to live one way in church and when in the company of Christian friends and a completely other way, depending upon who we’re hanging out with at the moment. And too many Christians are known for not acting any differently than unbelievers in the face of hardship or calamity: Giving into worry, anger, greed, controlling people and situations, and never repenting or even hinting that they believed any of these things might be wrong!

But in remaining in Christ, in dwelling in Him, the Lord is calling us to commit to Him alone and to renounce everything that doesn’t lead to Him: No matter who we’re with, and always focused on the prize of growing to be daily more and more like Jesus, Who alone across history perfectly loved God with all He had, did, and was, and Who perfectly loved all those around Him the same way He loved Himself!

Commitment and renouncing all else might lead us to unpopularity, not getting promoted, those we love thinking we’re fools, etc… Yes, sometimes that’s what trusting our loving Father and Savior can lead us to. (It led Jesus to be crucified.) Of course, because He calls us to honesty, pleasantness, excellence, and trustworthiness (among so many other good things), living committed to Jesus may result in great popularity and many promotions as well as all the fun and wonder of doing miracles with Him as we put our lives into His hands!

But regardless, the first thing is, Are we committed? When people around us ask us why we’re doing something or behaving in a certain way, or ask us why we refuse to do something or won’t join in with the rest, are we committed to say, “Because I’m a Christian, and Jesus Christ wants me to be this way, and He forbids me to be that way…” Will we abide in Him? Are we committed?

Our commitment is the foundation because only once we’re focused on pleasing Him in all we do will we start to find that our doubts begin to fall away. Only after we’ve determined to suffer consequences for Him, if necessary, do we find that our long-held fears and apprehensions start to fade. Although at the beginning this kind of commitment can get us thinking that dwelling in Him and with Him is all about obligation and denying ourselves, as we live it daily we experience such peace and pleasures that it all becomes so easy and such a joy!

It’s important to begin with commitment to Christ and renouncing all else because doing everything because of God’s love and out of love for God transforms even the most hated of responsibilities and work into joys and pure pleasure! And, as we become more and more aware of God’s goodness and gifts, we grow less and less anxious and insecure, growing instead to expect His presence, protection, provision, and care. Remaining in Him, abiding in Him, dwelling with and in Him.

So, the first thing is to commit to making all the business we’re about His business, giving ourselves to all things in His name and with the intention of acting in His place. And entrusting to Him every outcome and completion, no matter how easy or impossible the task!

The second thing for remaining in Christ and putting our selves into His hands is to “feed upon” and nourish ourselves on the high and awe-inspiring realities of God’s character: His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness, His self-discipline and resolve. That way, during those times when we question our commitment and have doubts about our chosen path, we will be so filled with the knowledge of His absolute goodness, His unconditional love toward us, that He is all-knowing, has perfect wisdom, that He is all-powerful, and, so-filled-with-all-the-wonders-we’ve-read-about, heard-about, and-have-experienced-Him-doing-in-our-lives that it will all lead us away from any questioning to begin celebrating our devotion to Him!

After His resurrection, as a part of commissioning those first disciples (and us who follow after them), the Lord Jesus said, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) So after committing to Him, and after “feeding on” His goodness and lovingkindness and all that He is, the life of remaining and abiding and dwelling with and in Him is simply establishing ourselves in His presence. “I am with you always,” Jesus has promised: We need to keep our minds aware that God is always with us and within us!

He is Emmanuel – “God is with us,” that means. And the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Christ lives in you to give you assurance of sharing His glory.” (Colossians 1:27) That’s the wonder! That’s what makes Jesus Christ different from all others who would claim our lives: He is with us; He is within us. And so to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to live putting our very selves into His hands to do miracles with Him, we simply need to keep our minds aware that He is always with and within us.

One way of doing this is by continually talking with Him throughout our days: Thanking Him in the morning, and for the day ahead and those He’s given us to share it with; perhaps in the shower we thank Him for our baptisms – for washing us clean!; giving Him thanks and asking His blessing on our food, even our snacks, as we eat our different meals; praying for situations we watch on the news; praying for the drivers around us on the road or the students around us in the bus; asking His forgiveness if we lose our temper or take some selfish action; sitting next to and befriending the kid nobody wants to sit next to, and giving the Lord thanks for opportunities to be like Him in loving and making friends of the outcasts; seeking His empowering grace for each project or assignment, His help to listen and do our work well…

We’re not talking about flowery talk; not pretty-sounding prayers: Those often just cause our minds to wander. We’re talking about plain words, simple prayers, to the point, just like talking to a friend.

When we find ourselves doing, or about to begin, something difficult – remaining in Him, focusing on His presence – is then askin Him for empowerment. And how joyful we’ll be when we find Him giving it! We too often pray, “Take the difficult things away!” But so much better to ask, “Lord, take it away or grant us the grace to do it well,” or “to bear up under it well, so that You’ll look good in us, Lord!”

Maybe we’ll realize that a good bit of time has gone by without our thinking about God or remembering Him with us. Don’t make too big a deal out of it – don’t let it distract you, don’t condemn yourself over it or worse, even, give up! No, just confess it as part of your sinfulness, accept and believe Him for your forgiveness, and go on to begin enjoying Him with you again!

When you go to read your Bible, set your mind on going because you love Him and know you will meet Him there! Again, as you’re praying and worshiping, talk to Him and adore Him, knowing He is right there with you! Too many “faithful” Christians don’t grow very much because they are stuck in the performance of the spiritual disciplines – like reading their Bibles and praying and attending Worship – but have lost sight of the goal of these precious practices, which is loving God!

Remaining in Him; abiding with Him; dwelling with and in Him: It’s all about recognizing that He’s present with us always, offering Him every act before we do it and thanking Him for it all afterwards; it’s all about having endless conversation with Him filled with endless praising, adoring, and loving; it’s all about asking for His grace (and not letting ourselves be distracted and doubt because of our sins, but trusting the love He’s shown us and all He’s done for us in of Jesus)…

At the end of the day, if we carried out our responsibilities and duties well, then we thank God. If we made many mistakes and fallen very short of all He’s called us to, then we ask His forgiveness and then trust His forgiveness, and have a good night’s sleep as forgiven as if we’d never sinned and committed to give ourselves to Him more fully the next day…

As we repeat these acts, as we think and live in these ways – God with us; Christ in us – just as in other areas of our lives, they’ll become habit, and so more and more a part of our daily activities and awareness. It may take much work and concentration at the beginning, but after a while we will find His love within us enabling us to it without much difficulty at all.

You see, Christ tells us that the secret of our sanctification – growing holy, growing to be more like Christ – isn’t primarily about us changing our words or our deeds (though we may find ourselves needing to do a good bit of that), but it’s primarily about beginning to do for Christ’s sake – for the love of God – what we used to do for ourselves.

And as we keep Him our focus, keep Him our center (as we sang in one of our songs last week) – as we abide with Him and remain in Him and dwell with and in Him and welcome His presence with and within us – we will experience joys and delights … well, like those described in the Psalms and elsewhere in Scripture…

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him!” (1 Corinthians 2:9)



July 21, 2013 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

According to John 6:1-15 (NLTse)

6:1 After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A huge crowd kept following Him wherever He went, because they saw His miraculous signs as He healed the sick. 3 Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with His disciples around Him. 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) 5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for Him. Turning to Philip, He asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for He already knew what He was going to do.

7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward He did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told His disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

14 When the people saw Him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, He is the Prophet we have been expecting!” 15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force Him to be their king, He slipped away into the hills by Himself.

He begged his mother for permission to make a day of it. He’d heard about the Man; everyone was talking about Him! At first she told him he was too young; that he wouldn’t understand, and he’d go all that way and find himself bored and wish he’d never gone. But he’d pestered her! and she had finally given him his way. So she’d packed him a little bundle of food – enough to see him through the day – and sent him on his way.

It wasn’t hard to find the Man. Many from his village were going to see Him, too, and it was simple to just follow the throngs crowding the roadways. With Passover near, Jews from all over the Empire had come to Jerusalem to celebrate, and having heard the stories about Jesus’ wisdom and teaching, and about His miracles and healings, they’d come to see for themselves: Could He be the One, “the prophet” Moses and the Lord had promised them so long ago?

He’d been able to get surprisingly close to the Man once he’d found Him. And one of the Man’s followers – his name was Andrew – was really friendly and helped him find a place to sit nearer still!

He hadn’t thought it was a big deal that he’d told Andrew about the food he’d brought. He was proud he had it since he could hear many of those around him concerned that they hadn’t thought to bring anything for themselves.

When Andrew came back over to him and told him that the Man was asking if the boy would give Him his dinner, he was sure his mom wouldn’t mind and so he handed it over. (It didn’t occur to him that it was the only food he had and that he might want it when he got hungry later.)

The Man had opened up his bundle and lifted it over His head giving God thanks for it. (Only the Man called God His father which was different from the way the boy had grown up hearing his own dad pray.) And then Andrew and the Man’s other followers each took some of the fish and bread and started handing it out to all the people. And Andrew came over to him first and gave him a great big hunk of the bread and section of the fish. And after he’d finished that another one of the Man’s followers was nearby and gave him another big hunk and section of fish. And he ate and ate and was deliciously full. And he looked around and noticed that everyone else seemed like they were pleasantly full, as well. Everyone had eaten. And all from his dinner! He couldn’t believe it. Did you see what happened, he looked around to tell Andrew or anybody. He couldn’t wait to get home to tell his mom about the miracle that he and the Man had done!

Child-like faith, Jesus calls us to! The Lord asks, and the boy gives, and there’s more food left over afterwards than there was to begin with! Jesus wants us to do miracles with Him.

But how are you when it comes to “your stuff”? John tells us that this boy was the only one among this crowd of 5,000 who had brought any food with him. If it were you and me, perhaps we’d be thinking, “Well, everyone should’ve planned ahead. I’ve got to keep this for me. Who knows what’ll happen to me if I give it to the Lord to use?”

You and I, if we’re in Christ, we’re new creations. And as our old nature would have us judge things, it is the all-important “I” that is first among the personal pronouns; that holds the center of the stage in our lives; that must be primarily considered in all things. Those ‘round about us only come second, and those farther off, occupying a not even close third: I, first; then you, next; and lastly he and she and them. All the saints across the centuries have warned us about this temptation toward thinking this way, thinking again like our old self, the “us” Jesus put to death when He came and gave us His Life, calling them the devil’s pronouns, this “I” and “me” and “mine”!

In the parable of the talents the Lord Jesus makes plain that it is “one-talent” thinkers who are most likely to falter and fail Him, because people with a “one-talent” mindset think they need to hold on to what they’ve got; hoarding, keeping what they have and what they are for themselves, just in case… Others with a “one-talent” mindset think that anything they could do is so trivial as to be not worth doing! What can we do that can make any noticeable difference for the Kingdom of Heaven, they think? Better left undone; our gift will never be missed. “One-talent” believers can’t comprehend of the possibilities in Jesus’ hands.

Jesus shows us by taking one little boy’s meal how disastrous that way of thinking is to His work here in the world. What if that little boy had been thinking about “I”, “me”, “mine” and kept it all to himself? Or what if that little boy had been too self-conscious that he was just “little old me” and had held it back demanding that it wouldn’t make any difference! “One-talent” thinking, “I”, “me”, “mine” thinking, it robs the Lord, and slows His work.

When we give what we have and what we can do to Christ, He multiplies it, He sanctifies it, He transforms it once it has become “His” into so much more than what it was when it was only “ours”.

Perhaps we don’t trust He’ll take care of us if we’re giving to Him what we’ve worked for to take care of ourselves? Worse yet, what if we’re so full of activity and to-do’s that we justify saying no to helping, no to giving, because it would be a pain, because I’ve already got too much on my plate, because that’s the night of my favorite TV show. And we don’t think to say no to other things that might be overflowing us – things that have nothing to do with the Kingdom of Heaven and eternity and truly loving those around us… And we rationalize it thinking that somebody else can probably do a better job anyway.

What are we holding back from Jesus? Where are we holding back from God? It is my strong conviction that each and every Christian needs to be involved in at least one Bible study, growing in the Lord, learning His ways that are so very different from our ways, getting to recognize His voice so we can answer when His Spirit speaks to us… And it is my strong conviction that each and every Christian needs to be involved in at least one ministry, nurturing servanthood, practicing walking with Him with the support of others, getting to experience the fun as well as doing the hard work, of doing miracles with Him: Seeing lives changed and families healed and communities transformed by the steady spread of the gospel – like yeast through dough or like a virus across the internet – working God’s wonders as it goes.

If you’re not involved in a study, now’s the time to begin looking as many of our small groups will start up again in September and October. If you’re not involved in ministry, now’s the time to begin letting me know you want to get involved, letting Jeanne Newell in the Church Office know you want to get involved, letting Elder Joe Bell who’s working with different ones of us to help us identify the gifts the Lord has given us so that we can use them for Him!

Poet T. E. Brown, musing on the beach one day over an empty shell, penned this:

If thou couldst empty all thyself of self,

Like to a shell disinhabited,

Then might He find thee on the Ocean shelf, And say – “This is not dead,” –

And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou,

And hast such shrewd activity,

That, when He comes, He says, This is enow

Unto itself – ‘Twere better let it be:

It is so small and full, there is no room for Me.



July 14, 2013 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

According to John 5:31-47 [NLTse]

31 “If I were to testify on My Own behalf, My testimony would not be valid. 32 But Someone Else is also testifying about Me, and I assure you that everything He says about Me is true. 33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about Me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John—My teachings and My miracles. The Father gave Me these works to accomplish, and they prove that He sent Me. 37 And the Father Who sent Me has testified about Me Himself. You have never heard His voice or seen Him face to face, 38 and you do not have His message in your hearts, because you do not believe Me—the One He sent to you.

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to Me to receive this life.

41 “Your approval means nothing to Me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in My Father’s name, and you have rejected Me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the One Who alone is God.

45 “Yet it isn’t I Who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Sermon

Deuteronomy 17:6 says, “Never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses.” This requirement for always having two or more eyewitnesses to a capital offense was originally established to protect the Israelites from unverifiable accusations. After all, what better way to get rid of an enemy or competitor or to get somebody’s land or wife or other things you’d like of theirs than to make up a story about something they supposedly did, accuse them in such a way that they can’t defend themselves, get the community stirred up against them, have them put to death, and then move in?

And so, though it is first mentioned in the Book of Numbers, Deuteronomy 17:6 codified for Israel this practice of requiring two or three eyewitnesses to any crime that would result in the death sentence.

We see this requirement invoked during the Lord Jesus’ trial, when Matthew writes: “The leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put Him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This Man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” (26:59-61)

The apostle Paul expands the use of this requirement to non-death penalty-related offenses when he writes to Pastor Timothy, saying, “Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19) And it is likely behind the picture, in chapter 11 of The Revelation, of the Two Witnesses ministry of signs and wonders and proclamation to the peoples of the earth, making clear that God’s judgment of unbelievers – those who’ve rejected the testimony of the Two Witnesses – is fair and just.

In our reading this morning, the Lord Jesus, aware that the religious leaders had begun plotting His death, seems to be alluding to this practice, too, when He says, “If I were to testify on My Own behalf, My testimony would not be valid.” And so He goes on to point out three eyewitnesses – John the Baptist, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, and the Scriptures themselves – that prove His innocence.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry proclaiming Him to be “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world”; to be “the Son of God”; and, to be “the Lord / Adonai / Yahweh Himself! Jesus describes the religious leaders’ response to John, saying, “John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message.” But the religious leaders didn’t believe that God had sent John: They were excited to follow and be a part of the crowd John was calling to Christ and calling to repentance, but they refused to obey the truth of John’s message and repent!

The second witness Jesus called to His defense was God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, Whose presence with Jesus was demonstrated in His many healings, exorcisms, and miracles.

When Elder Nicodemus, who was a part of the Jewish Ruling Council, came to meet Jesus at night he said to Him, “Rabbi, we all know that God has sent You to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with You.” So the religious leaders knew that God was with the Lord Jesus, and yet they didn’t believe Jesus’ claims to be “God with us”. Of course, these religious leaders would have known that God had granted others before Jesus the ability to perform healings and wonders and drive out demons, and those folks hadn’t claimed to be God! And yet, perhaps that’s just the difference: That just as the works and words of the prophets showed that God was with them, and they never claimed to be God; surely the works and words of Jesus, showing that God was likewise with Him, should have equally demonstrated that because He did claim to be God that He truly was!

The Scriptures themselves were the third witness Jesus called upon in His defense.

The Bible of Jesus’ day was simply the Old Testament writings, of course. And these were recorded on scrolls since the idea of books was only then, in the first century, just being invented. The religious leaders of Jesus day were known for knowing the Scriptures so well that it was said that if you pierced a biblical scroll with a pin and told any religious leader what the first word was that you stuck the pin through, that they could tell you every other word that pin went through as it penetrated the scroll. Clearly an exaggeration, but it makes the point of how well these leaders were reputed to have known the Word of God! And yet clearly they didn’t know the God of the Word.

Books have been written about all the Messianic prophecies from across the Old Testament that have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ: Prophecies of His pre-existence; prophecies of His ancestry; prophecies of His birth; prophecies of His character; prophecies of His ministry; prophecies of His dual nature (as fully God while fully human); prophesies of His death; prophecies of His resurrection; prophecies of His ascension and exaltation; prophecies of His second coming; symbols of Jesus seen in the lives of various individuals across the Old Testament and offices mentioned across the Old Testament and from historical events mentioned there and from religious rituals and levitical offerings and from Israel’s various feasts and festivals. As Jesus Himself said, “The Scriptures point to Me!” And later Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) And these religious leaders knew the Word but didn’t recognize Christ in it nor the Father in Christ.

A commentator once said of such leaders: “It is unfortunate when our study of the Bible makes us arrogant and militant instead of humble and anxious to serve others, even those who disagree with us. The mark of true Bible study is not knowledge that puffs up, but love that builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)” And the Lord Jesus said to these leaders, “You don’t have the love of God in you.” They enjoyed being honored by others but did not seek the honor that comes from God alone.

As we come to celebrate the Lord’s Supper this morning, let’s ask ourselves these questions:

  • Have we committed and begun living our lives in obedience to God’s message, repenting of our sin out of gratitude for the good news of Jesus Christ? Have we?
  • Have we committed to taking God at His Word and believing all He’s said about Himself there, and believing all He’s said about us there, and believing all He’s said about eternal life and Heaven, and all He’s said about judgment and sin and Hell, and letting such truth shape our thoughts and how we respond to events and experiences, to use Paul’s words, “Taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ?” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Have we?
  • Lastly, have we committed to let the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with God’s love? To see in every page and parable, in every psalm and statute, in every offering and historical account, even in the proclamations of judgment and wrath, God the Father’s love for the peoples of the earth for whom He sent Christ to die? Have we?

Perhaps, if we’ve ignored these things or taken these things too lightly or rationalized to ourselves that these things don’t matter, perhaps we should not participate in the Lord’s Supper today and perhaps eat and drink God’s judgment upon ourselves. And yet, perhaps we see our failure in some or, perhaps, every single one of these areas today. But the Holy Spirit is moving us to recommit to these things today, and yet we know that apart from Him we can do nothing. So, perhaps, even so very aware of our unworthiness, we come forward this morning and eat and drink, trusting Christ that His grace will indeed be sufficient!