Poets Corner – Strong Hand of Love

A classic by Mark Heard.

Down peppers the rain from a clear blue sky
Down trickles a tear on a youthful face
Feeling in haste and wondering why

Up struggles the sun from a wounded night
Out venture our hearts from their silent shrouds
Trying to ignite but wondering how

We can laugh and we can cry
And never see the strong hand of love hidden in the shadows
We can dance and we can sigh
And never see the strong hand of love hidden in the shadows

Young dreamers explode like popped balloons
Some kind of emotional rodeo
Learning too slow and acting too soon

Time marches away like a lost platoon
We gracefully age as we feel the weight
Of loving too late and leaving too soon

We can laugh and we can cry
And never see the strong hand of love hidden in the shadows
We can dance and we can sigh
And never see the strong hand of love hidden in the shadows

Sermon Text for February 22nd – Mark 14:22-25; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Click here for the sermon audio.

True vs. False Conversion and Our Responsibility

The Puritans (and their admirers, past and present) actually maintained that only one who has come thoroughly to hate sin can turn wholeheartedly from it to Christ. Contrition is necessitated not by the terms of the gospel, which calls us to Christ directly, but by the state of the fallen human heart. God uses the law to pave the way for the gospel by making us see not only our guilt but also the ugliness, nastiness, and repulsiveness of our previous ways, so that we cease to love them; and that sets us free to love Christ when he calls us to follow him into different ways.

The alternative is a false conversion that is illustrated by seed falling on stony ground in Jesus’s parable of the soils. Today we see people who have been pressured to make decisions, who received the word of pardon and peace with joy, and who promise to follow Christ henceforth, but then find the old way of Christlessness and sin more attractive than the new way of resisting sin out of loyalty to Christ and suffering in consequence (see Heb. 12:3-4). So they go rapidly back to their old ways. That shows such inner conviction and change as was experienced never went deep enough to make the life of sin intolerable forever after, or to produce clear understanding that Christ will only save us from sin, never in sin. If we are to avoid producing false conversions, we must make much of the law, sin, and repentance in our communication, and not press people for gestures of decision until we have done all we can to make sin hateful in their eyes and have reason to judge that they have received this part of the message. But this deep conviction of sin, like the conviction that the gospel announces realities that impinge on life, comes only from the Holy Spirit’s application of the word we communicate.

- David Wells, Turning to God, pp. 87-88

Poets’ Corner – Antoine de Chandieu

Never having and always desiring,

Such are the consequences for him who loves the world.

The more he abounds in honor and riches,

The more he is seen aspiring for more.

He does not enjoy what belongs to him:

He wants, he values, he adores what other people have.

When he has everything, it is then that he has nothing.

Because having everything, he desires everything still.

- from Octonaires on the Vanity of this World

Sermon Text for February 8th – John 18:1-27

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Click here for the sermon audio.

Sermon Text for February 1st – John 17:20-26

We were privileged to have Brian MacSwan preach to us from this text:

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Click here for the sermon audio.