He still invites you

Sermon on Amnon's rape of Tamar - 2 Samuel 13.

It was at the tree, offering food, that Adam and Eve sinned. It was with food that Amnon deceived and violated Tamar. Judas ate Passover with Jesus. Jesus sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies. When we hear of such deep betrayal we must not think, "How could they?" We must think, "That is me - I have betrayed Christ as offensively as Amnon." We are all repulsive traitors against God.

And then, we must turn the corner, and realize, He is still offering you bread and wine. He still wants you to eat with Him. In the cross of Christ, by faith, God loves you no matter what you have done. He still invites you to believe His Gospel promises, cling to His Son, and sit to eat with Him. Receive God’s grace right now, as you receive these outward signs of God’s favor for you.



1 Kings 22; 2 Chr 18-23

Ahab dies fighting Syrians, warned by Michaiah, but he listens to false prophets - 1Kg22; 2 Chr 18.

Jehoshaphat establishes a justice system with the supreme court in Jerusalem - 2Chr19

Moab, Ammon, and Edom come against Judah. Jehoshaphat prays, appealing to Solomon's prayer. God responds and the enemy turns against each other. Jehoshaphat was a good king, though the people insisted on their high places and he kept allying with wicked Israel - 2 Chr 20.

Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram king for 8 years. started by killing all his brothers. Nations around revolted during his reign. His own wives and children killed or captured, except Jehoahaz (Ahaziah) - 2 Chr 21.

Ahaziah king one year. Follows Ahab in idolatry. Fights as ally with Ahab's son. Killed with him by Jehu. Athaliah, Ahaziah's mother, kills the whole family, but 1-year-old Joash saved by Joshabeath, wife of Jehoiada and daughter of Ahaziah - 2 Chr 22.

Jehoiada the high priest guards the purity of the temple and so protects the king. He organizes supporters for Joash and crowns him. Athaliah is killed - 2 Chr 23.


1 Kings 15-21; 2 Chronicles 17

Nadab king 2 years; Baasha assassinates Jeroboam's son Nadab and family - king 2 years; Elah, Baasha's son, king 2 years - 1 Kg 15
Zimri assassinates Baasha's son; king 7 days; commits suicide when Omri gains support; Omri king 12 years; Ahab reigns 22 years - idols - 1 Kg 16
Jehoshaphat king in place of dad Asa - faithful: teaches via priests, and military strong - 2 Chr 17
Elijah proclaims famine for 3 yrs; hides; provides food and life for widow of Zarephath; covertly faithful Obadiah; Elijah challenges Baal prophets kills them - 1 Kg 17-18
Elijah runs from Jezebel to Horeb; still small voice from God to get back to work. When disobedience is great in one place (Ahab), there are plenty other angles to work (Syria, Judah, Elisha). Elisha called - 1 Kg 19
Ahab defeats Syria but shows undue mercy - 1 Kg 20
Ahab takes Naboth's vineyard at Jezebel's instigation, but repents when Elijah confronts him - 1 Kg 21


1 Kings 12-15; 2 Chronicles 10-16

K12/C10 - Rehoboam foolishly angers Israel and divides the kingdom. Jeroboam sets up idols for Israel.
C11 - Rehoboam establishes his kingdom.
K13 - A prophet denounces Jeroboam, but then disobeys God.
K14/C12 - Ahijah prophesies Jeroboam's demise. It happens. Judah also falls into idolatry, and Egypt plunders Israel, reversing the exodus.
K15/C13-16 - Abijam (idolatry) and Asa (partial reform) rule in Judah. War with Israel. Judah preserved as they trust God, but Asa relies on Syria to defeat Israel.

Positively swimming

Psalm 49:5-9, 14-15

Why should I fear in the days of evil, When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me? Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him—For the redemption of their souls is costly, And it shall cease forever—That he should continue to live eternally, And not see the Pit.... Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me.

These verses begin with "Why should I fear?" And they end with "God will receive me." That is important for us to remember. It is easy to let fear drive our relationships. We are afraid what others might do, so we defend, we clam up, we pull in, or we attack. We are afraid what others will do, so we stay away. But God has received us, so we don’t have to fear. Perfect love casts out fear. He HAS ransomed our souls from death. We have assurance of that in this meal. This assurance is meant, as I say every week, to equip us to serve Him in His kingdom. It does this partly by freeing us from the fear of others. If God is for us, who can be against us? The Lord is my light and my salvation, what can man do to me? This isn’t some Pollyanna world where we deny that people can really hurt us, in their sin. But since God receives us in Christ He will heal our wounds and forgive our sins until we are positively swimming in joy, fellowship, and favor.


1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9

1 Kings 10; 2 Chr 9 - Queen of Sheba visits Solomon, extolling his wisdom. Solomon's wealth and power - wealth of nations flow into Zion.

1 Kings 11 - Solomon's wives lead him to idolatry. God will take the kingdom away. Internal dissent grows. Jeroboam arises. Solomon dies.

Ecclesiastes 7-12

7 - life is full of contrast. Choose wisely and moderately. Sin is pervasive.
8 - obeying the king is usually safe and right. The wicked often prosper fora time, but not forever. God gives joy regardless of this of our doing all we set out to do.
9 - Death comes alike to all, so enjoy wine, wife and work. Unnoticed wisdom is better than flaunted strength.
10 - A little folly ruins a great deal, but wisdom is a sharp instrument.
11 - You don't know what's coming, so be generous and diligent.
12 - Remember God in youth, before you deteriorate in body and mind. Wisdom is from the Shepherd: Fear and obey God.


Stealth disobedience

"The second kind of disobedience is a stealth disobedience. This results when we have managed to convince ourselves that our own ways are God’s ways, and that He wants whatever it is that we want. We baptize our pious vices and call them virtues. The end result of this is that we can find sins committed in the broad light of day, and the Christians committing them don’t even blink—even though the Scriptures expressly say not to do what they are doing. Sometimes this is the result of rationalization, other times it is the consequence of scriptural ignorance, and sometimes both.

Gossip is disguised as prayer requests, officious meddling is described as helping out, and lifestyle bossiness is called worldview thinking. But it doesn’t matter what we call it—because it remains objectively sin, as characterized by God’s Word, it remains destructive, and it puts an ungodly strain on relationships between believers."

Douglas Wilson


JI Packer writes of the demons that their activity was uniquely intense during Christ's earthly ministry, something that charismatics today miss. He also says that exorcism is occasionally still needed - that the Lutheran abolishment of it in the 1500s was premature (Concise Theology, pg 68). This conflicts with the idea I've also heard that true believers cannot be possessed. I'm not too sure which way to go on this one, but lean toward Packer's position. Satan is stronger than us, and God often allows even believers to fall into serious and prolonged sin, under the influence of the world or demons. There are credible, quiet reports of demon possession and exorcism out there, aside from all the charismatic hype. I don't recall the Scripture used for the other position, but it is an inference to an absolute position, which isn't as conclusive.

Ecclesiastes 1-6

1 - Life is a mist that doesn't go anywhere, ultimately, it seems.
2 - I (Solomon) tried satisfying myself with every pleasure and great work projects, but it was all empty. The best thing is to find enjoyment, but this doesn't come automatically. God must give it.
3 - There is a time for everything; eternity is in our hearts, but we are limited by death.
4 - oppression doesn't relent; work comes from lonely envy; companionship is good; popularity doesn't last.
5 - filling up life with words and business is pride. Fear God instead.
6 - with power and wealth can come restless oppression and envy. Only God can give enjoyment of riches and honor.

1 Kings 3-9; 2 Chronicles 1-8

Solomon worships at Gibeon, where the tabernacle still is, and asks for wisdom. God prospers him - K3-4/C1.

Solomon seeks and gets help from Hiram; drafts labor from Israel - K5/C2.

Temple built and described; furnishings made and described - K6-7/C3-4.

Ark brought into temple; Solomon worships God (recounts God's works, prayer, benediction, sacrifices); God answers Solomon, promising to respond in mercy to faithful worship at the temple - K8-9/C5-7.

Solomon's work: forced labor, fortifying cities, gift to Hiram, Egyptian wife, ships built that bring back gold - K9/C8

Restful relationship

1 Peter 2:20-24; 3:18 "For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed. 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit."

Jesus lived and suffered all the consequences of our sin. He bore them in His body on the tree, Peter says. He does this to bring us to His Father. The whole purpose of repentance, forgiveness, the cross, is all to restore us to our creator. The table is a picture of complete fellowship, and so shows us the end toward which we are leaning – holy restful relationship with God. Let us spend time now communing with the Lord and His church.


You are the villain

Matthew 21:33-41, 45
“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. 37 Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” 45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.

Jesus tells us a story to convict us of our sin. This isn’t a movie where we look on with righteous indignation while the bad guy get what’s coming to him. WE are the bad guy. We are field hands who need to bring in the harvest. But we try to keep the harvest for ourselves. We defy the owner’s messengers and send them away with nothing. We even maneuver to own the whole estate outright, robbing the owner. What will the owner do? Well, he sent his son, the one telling the story, the Word made flesh. Will you kill Him, or listen to Him? In your sin, you have already killed Him. But in God’s mercy it isn’t too late to listen to Him, and be forgiven even that grievous offense.


Strange Bedfellows

Great article here on Foxy News, indicating a problem with politically conservative evangelicals. Fox's raciness shows what the clientèle wants, or puts up with.


How to read the Bible

Just finished this one - classic Berkhof. A bit on the rationalistic, dry, dusty side, but solid stuff. Written in 1950, I think it is now out of print. It begins with a history of interpretation in Judaism, the early church and middle ages. Then comes a survey of how to view the Bible. Finally, the right way to interpret Scripture: grammatically, historically and theologically.

At first I was a bit turned off by how dismissive Berkhof was of Jewish and medieval interpretations. They were not as bad as he thinks, in my opinion. And toward the end, covering the historical and theological interpretations, he gives back much that he took away earlier, affirming the importance of historical context, and the mystical and typological senses of Scripture.

I'm not sure this book is needed for the general reader of Scripture, unless you are really serious about STUDY of Scripture. But for the aspiring teacher or pastor it is critical reading.


The Company of Fools

Peter Leithart

"Parents should especially train their children in godly relations with the opposite sex. Seducers exist, both male and female (Proverbs 7:1-27; 9:13-18), and children should be trained to spot and avoid them, so that they don’t defile the temple of God by uniting with a whore (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). From their earliest years, they should be taught that Christians marry Christians. Here as elsewhere, success in parenting depends on children being receptive. Teenagers who sneak around with a boyfriend or girlfriend or who defy their parents’ authority are fools."

Crammed full

"And again [Jesus] said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

Jesus deals with sin at this Table, but not necessarily in the way we expect. Too often we think of this as a second time of confession, to examine our lives again to make sure we are righteous enough to partake. But our Lord deals with our sin in a different way here. He knows we can’t sweep the house clean of sin and just leave it empty. Seven more sins will invade it. No, that house needs to be filled with something else. We are to put off sin in our lives. But we can’t just squash it. Self-denial must be directed positively to Christ. We must repent to Him, and desire to serve and honor Him. We have to pull up the weeds, and plant vegetables or flowers. We have to remove the leaven of wickedness, but let Christ suffuse the loaf with the leaven of the kingdom. So how does Jesus deal with our sin here? He crams us full of the bread of life, so we don’t have room or need for habits that eat away at our soul. He gives us the wine of joy so we don’t need weeds of bitterness. Why go back to pig slop, when you have such a banquet of love spread out for you?


People as tools

Ezekiel 33:10-11: “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday, when we remember the plight of the unborn. Our nation’s guilt does lie heavily upon us, and we pine away. As we prepare to confess our sins this morning, it behooves us to consider not only the sins of others, sacrificing lives on the altar of their own convenience, but also to consider the ways in which we do this ourselves. How often do we see others as obstacles or tools to get what we want? Do we view our little brothers or sisters as inconveniences? Do we count up the families at church that see things our way, or love each family as they are? Let us recognize the image of God in each person we meet.



Wholly dependent

Rev 3:15-20: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

The Haitian people have undergone a crisis. They are completely dependent on foreign aid to survive. We are dependent on God, like those Haitians. We have nothing that God didn’t give us, and He can take it away from us at any moment. We talk like the Laodiceans, “We don’t need anything, we provide everything we need ourselves. Independence, man.” But we don’t realize we are wretched, poor and blind. Let us pray that it won’t take an earthquake or other kind of disaster to teach us this lesson of humility and need.


Moving toward a wedding

John 14:2-3: "In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

What Jesus says here to His disciples in the upper room, a groom would often say to his betrothed, in that day. Jesus is defining His relationship with us here, as akin to marriage. We are moving towards a wedding day, as the Bride of Christ. We have been bought at a price. Christ has shown us He can provide for us. He did it at the cross. He will give us all things with Him at our resurrection. We can rest fully in our faithful husband, to cleanse us by the water of the Word from every spot or wrinkle. He has gone to prepare a place for us, and He will take us to be with Him. Let us be jealous with a godly jealousy to be spotless for Him when He comes. Let us anticipate eagerly His coming, proclaiming His death for us until He returns.

Rev 19:7-9: "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ”



Wow, almost a week since a post. The domina leaves and things fall apart...

I decided not to post on Scripture readings from Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Solomon (!), which I've been reading lately....


Humor for Friday

A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in Albertawhen suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust...

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes,RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the cowboy, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, Will you give me a calf?"

Bud looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, Why not?"

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg , Germany .

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer,turns to the cowboy and says, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says Bud.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then Bud says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?"

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

"You're a Member the United States Congress", says Bud.

"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required." answered the cowboy. "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about how working people make a living - or about cows, for that matter. This is a herd of sheep.

Now give me back my dog.


2 Chronicles 21-29

21 - David takes a census sinfully; plague results; God stops it, and provides a place of propitiation - where the temple will be built.
22 - David gets material and plans ready for temple building, charging his son Solomon to do it.
23 - David organizes the Levites, giving many a musical commission
24 - David organizes the priests
25 - David organizes the musicians under Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun
26 - Gatekeepers, treasurers and other temple officials noted
27 - Military and tribal leaders, and administration officials noted
28 - David informs Israel's leaders of Solomon's duty to build the temple, and charges Solomon before them all to do it
29 - Offerings and prayer for temple building; Solomon anointed; David dies

2 Chronicles 11-20

11 - David anointed king, takes Jerusalem; mighty men listed
12 - List of men and incidents when they were going over to David, back when he was exiled by Saul, until he was anointed.
13 - Ark brought from Jerusalem; Uzzah dies
14 - David builds a physical house, with Hiram's help, a family house with the help of wives, and a national house as he defeats Philistines.
15 - God's house built as the ark makes it to Jerusalem
16 - Ark put in a tent; David worships God
17 - David wants to build a house for God, but God will build one for David. God makes an everlasting covenant promise, fulfilling it in Christ. David responds with worship.
18-20 - David defeats enemies on all sides


Christmas Communion

Luke 2:12 - "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

This table is now the sign unto you. You will find a sacrifice, stretched out on the cross, wrapped in burial clothes, laid in a tomb. His blood was shed and poured out. But the bread of life rises from that tomb. And the angelic army continues its strong song. Heaven and earth are met in Christ; He is the ladder between the 2.

This ritual token of a meal wraps up everything about the gift, all over again. The gift of Christ is given. I hold out and offer you the gift. The gift of Christ is explained. We understand Him better because of the signs He uses for us to remember Him by. The gift of Christ is celebrated. We give thanks to Him and commune with Him, His angels and His saints. The gift of Christ is received. You take a portion that is for you. You find room in your stomach for a little more, after all the Christmas feasting. We prepare Him room in our hearts. The gift of Christ is given again. We give to the person next to us as we pass the tray. We discern the Body of Christ as we partake. We give to one another our attention, time, service and love.


But Armando and Joyce did it

Isaiah 64:5 - "You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved."

Repentance is hard. It means turning your whole heart around. It is very easy to say words. The hard part, for all of us, is to mean them. Repentance is hard. It must be given to us.

Forgiveness is hard. We are required to forgive when someone confesses honestly to us. And it is easy to say words of forgiveness. But the greater the sin, the harder it is to put behind you. Every time you think of it, you have to forgive them again. Forgiveness is hard. It must be given to us.


A Free Family

Luke 11:11: “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

There are two ways to relate to family. One is to be selfish and see siblings as rivals. What they get, you could have had. So we fight over the toy chest, elbowing to get our way. How childish. This is what Paul described and called partaking unworthily in 1 Cor 11. The other way is to discern the body in love and gratitude. To look around and realize what you are seeing. You are an adopted child of God, not a slave. And you see around you brothers and sisters also adopted and free. They have received grace, just like you. You aren’t the only sinner here. You aren’t the only really bad sinner here. And Jesus receives all of us as we come in faith. He doesn’t give us a stone, because of our sin. No coal in your stocking this year. He gives bread and wine. In this bread and wine, God is sending forth the Spirit of His Son to unite us with Christ and to feed us in the union. Remember and proclaim His death. Enjoy His presence, where there is fullness of joy.


Saved and Still Sinners

Haggai 2:10-14: "On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?”’” Then the priests answered and said, “No.” And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?” So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “ ‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean."

It is possible as Christians, saved by grace, for the work of our hands to remain defiled. That is what happened to Israel as they were rebuilding the temple with Haggai. Only by confession and consecration, will God receive our work. Only through the cross and sanctifying Spirit will God look past all the self-interest rolled into our work, and accept it as done for Him. The sin around and within us makes us unclean. We sit in darkness unless Christ shines on us. So often we get proud of the light that we reflect. But what do you have that you did not receive from God by grace? We are not the source of light, but only mirrors, and poor ones at that, it turns out.


Spirit and Word both

All Word, no Spirit, people dry up.
All Spirit, no Word, people blow up.
Both Spirit and Word, people grow up.

DA Carson, at a conference March 20, 2010


A lesson on grace from Armando

There are many life lessons in sports. This was a big one.

From Steve Wilkins

"An umpire’s mistake had cost him a place in baseball legend. But the really important part of the story happened afterwards. When he caught the ball and stepped on the bag, Galarraga thought, for a split second, he had the perfect game — then he saw the umpire’s “safe” signal. And then . . . . he smiled.

When you mess up. Confess it. Don’t blame anybody else. Don’t make excuses. Own up to it. Admit it. And ask forgiveness. And here’s the second part of the lesson: when someone wrongs you and then confesses it and seeks your forgiveness, forgive him."


We're splitting up

The Domina is moving out. No fears, our marriage is still wonderful. She's moving out of the Hemmeke blog into a blog all of her own! Update your links and see all the housewifely, crafty, knitting, sewing, musical and random thinking of the domina here.

The Lady of the House is in.