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Archive for July, 2011

Inside Out

The Bible is clear that all of our words and deeds start in the heart. The heart is indeed “the heart of the matter.”

In Matthew 15 and Mark 7, Jesus said that a whole variety of activities have their origin in a person’s heart. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:17), He said that a bad tree produces bad fruit. James wrote that “faith without works is dead” (2:26). What’s on the inside will show itself on the outside – guaranteed.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:

Take for example the realm of music. A man may play a great piece of music quite accurately. He may make no mistakes at all, and yet it may be true to say of him that he did not really play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. He played the notes correctly, but it was not the Sonata. What was he doing? He was mechanically striking the right notes but missing the soul and the real interpretation. He wasn’t doing what Beethoven intended and meant. That, I think, is the relationship between the whole and the parts. The artist, the true artist, is always correct. Even the greatest artist cannot afford to neglect rules and regulations, but that is not what makes him the great artist. It is this something extra, the expression, it is the spirit, it is the light, it is the whole that he is able to convey. There is, it seems to me, is the relationship of the particular to the general in the Sermon on the Mount. You can’t divorce; you can’t separate them.

The Christian, while he puts his emphasis on the spirit, is also concerned about the letter, but he is not concerned only about the letter. He must never consider the letter apart from the spirit. On the one hand to claim the spirit without living according to God’s law is to be a liar. On the other hand, to try to live out the law without the spirit is to be a hypocrite. They both go together. The spirit is the right attitude and the letter is the obedience that comes as a result.”

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It was warm – close to hot – in the sanctuary on Sunday morning during the worship service. We opened two doors opposite each other in the sanctuary in order to get some air movement, hoping to cool the space a bit.

About half way through my sermon, a couple of dogs about fifty yards away starting barkingĀ  – more like high-pitched yapping, actually. Everyone noticed it, thereby making it a distraction. At first, I thought about asking someone to shut the closest door or closing it myself. Then I began to get irritated. I thought about walking over to the door and yelling “Shut up!” to the dogs (which would have been thoroughly inconsistent with a worship service). I didn’t end up doing either, and the dogs mercifully stopped less than a minute later.

I doubt the barking dogs would make me the cussing pastor, but they might bring out the angry and grouchy pastor in me. In Genesis 1:28, after created man in His image and likeness, God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” They were to take dominion over their physical environment and bring it under submission (a command that has never been revoked, by the way). The harder thing, though, is to take dominion over yourself and bring your sinful nature into submission. It’s a lot easier for me to make dogs stop barking, or simply yell at them, than it is to bring my sinful nature under control.

With a bit of time to reflect, I can thank God who, in His providence, used those dogs to help me remember my responsibility to take dominion over myself (as He’s given me the strength to do by the Holy Spirit).

 

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 4:17-24. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and as part of His church, we are not to live like non-Christians, which involves putting off the old way of life, having our minds renewed, and putting on the new way of life.

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