Sunday, November 23, 2008

John Calvin - How then should we serve?

Psalm 119:112
"I have applied mine heart to fulfill thy statutes always: even unto the end."

"Now when he saith, that he inclined his heart to observe the commandments of God: he showeth us, what service it is that God requireth: that is a voluntary and willing service. See here yet a point which ought well to be considered of, to the end we should not think that we are ever able to please God, when as we serve him constrainedly, as we see the miserable and wretched faithless do, which greatly torment themselves. And why so? For all that they do, they do it constrainedly
because they would the better escape the hand of God, but when they come near unto him as well as they may, it is but as it were enforced and constrained, because he is their judge. Now if we have such a constant desire (as we term it) that we are enforced to do that which we are commanded: our whole case is little worth, and God will never allow of it. And why so? because he liketh of nothing else but of obedience, and would have us come unto him with frank and willing minds. See then why David saith, that he hath inclined his heart to keep the commandments of God: not that he protesteth, that he hath done it of himself, nor of his own mind: but because that God hath given him both the will and the power to do the same. And to prove it to be so, we shall never see that David braggeth of himself in any one place, that he willed any good, being so led of his own proper mind: he will never say, that it was his natural inclination, but saith clean contrary, I was conceived in sin, saith he, (Psalm 51:5) he reserveth nothing to himself but all that which is naught. When then in this behalf he protesteth that he had inclined his heart, he only showeth what the grace of God was in him. And for conclusion he addeth: That he did it forever, or, even unto the end, or, this is it which we have touched heretofore: to wit, we must not be like sudden blasts which pass by and by, but we must be constant, and that when we shall have once begun, we must pray unto God that he will continue the same our well doing which he hath begun in us, and to hold us
by the hand until such time as we have finished our course."

(Taken from John Calvin's 14th Sermon on Psalm 119)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Palestinian State – Part 8

The final installment has arrived! I hope you've been blessed by reading my review of From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters and have been awakened to these important issues facing Israel and the church, and what looks to be on the near horizon. Maranatha!


In conclusion, I want to make a few points.

First, I am not, and Peters certainly wasn’t, trying to absolve Israel of the wrongs they have perpetrated in the Arab-Jewish conflict, or try to paint them as only innocent victims to the Arab world. They certainly have been responsible for evils through the years in regard to the “Palestinian refugee” situation, and many other situations. The popular media continues to make sure we are well informed of those! (Though, as you should now be aware, we should be careful not to unquestioningly accept the picture that the media paints of Israel).

Second, this isn’t a call to political arms. This topic is highly political, but I am not calling on Christians to start lobbying our government for intervention in Israel or a military response to the Arab world. I do hope, however, that your perspective on the Middle East has been challenged by what I’ve presented of Peters’ research. Perhaps you will be motivated to let others know about the realities of the situation when the topic comes up.

Third, even if we were to intervene in Middle Eastern affairs, it is na├»ve to think that we can somehow be responsible for bringing Jesus’ return forward on God’s calendar. Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only—Matthew 24:36. All of these things happen according to God’s sovereignty. In the passage at the beginning, God said that it shall happen in that day that I WILL make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples, and in one I quoted further down, God said to Israel I WILL bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered. It is God’s willing, and God’s doing, that is responsible for the events of the future, including the time that Jesus will return. Our challenge is to be personally ready, because his return is imminent.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122:6a