Approaching God

 

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

 

In recent months a conviction has been growing in my heart and soul.  This is that God is calling His Church to a life of Intercessory Prayer.  For me this means that I am being called to a deepening life of prayer.  The book of Hebrews tells us that we can approach the throne of grace boldly through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Christian life is lived through the cross.  There is no other means of grace but the cross of Christ.  To believe this and thereby to approach God for grace requires a cross centred life.  In the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ access to God has been opened to all who will come to Him in God’s way.  This is the precious truth that stands at the heart of our faith.

What I have been learning in the past few months is that we Christians have, as a result of this cross been called to a life that is characterized by this joyful access to the living God.   We can come with a bold confidence into God’s presence because God Himself has provided the way for us through the death and resurrection of Christ.  It is not owing to our holiness, but to the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ that we can bring our needs before the Father.  Why is it then that we are so resistant to this life of prayer?  It seems as if we will try everything else first before we come to God in Prayer.

Raymond Brown in Christ Above All, his commentary upon the message of the book of Hebrews explores this question in the following words.

“P.T. Forsythe used to insist that prayerlessness is the root of all sin.  When we do not give time each day to earnest and believing prayer, we are saying that we can cope with life without divine aid.  It is human arrogance at its worst.  Jesus knew that He had to pray and did so, gladly, necessarily and effectively.  To be prayerless is to be guilty of the worst form of practical atheism.  We are saying that we believe in God but we can do without Him.  It makes us careless about our former sins and heedless of our immediate needs.  This letter urges us to come into the presence of a God who welcomes us and a Christ who understands us.  To neglect the place of prayer is to rob ourselves of immense and timely resources.  For the Christian the throne of grace is the place of help.”

This life of prayer is not just for our own personal benefit.  It is also one of the major weapons which we wield in our outreach with the gospel.  Intercessory prayer is vital.  Increasingly I am coming to see that this was a foundational practice in the lives of those who were effectively used by God in the past.  It must become one of the main pillars of present day ministry.  We truly must become committed to intercessory praying for the spread of the Gospel in the world around us.

A Wednesday Evening Bible Study

    “They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.  Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, God of Jacob.”                Psalm 24:5-6

It is such a blessing to gather together on an evening to reflect together with other Christians upon the Word of God.  When we study God’s Word and pray together there is an immense blessing which is received by those who are gathered together.  This past Wednesday Evening we gathered together to reflect upon Psalm 24.  Our reflections focused upon the following brief points.

1) In verses 1 & 2 we discovered that the Lord is the Sovereign owner of all that He has created.  We belong to Him and are therefore called to live in submission to His Will.  This provides the foundation for everything else that the Psalmist will tell us.

2) In verses 3 through 6 the characteristics of a true worshipper are described.  Such a person is holy in every way.  Only through holiness can we enter into God’s Heavenly Sanctuary.  Immediately we recognise that this can not possibly be describing us because we are full of sin.  There is only one who is holy and therefore able to enter God’s Sanctuary, that is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here is where great blessing is given to us however.  A careful examination of the wording of verse five, which describes all those who are seeking the Lord, reveals the Lord’s plan to bless us.

“He shall receive a blessing from the Lord.  And righteousness from the God of Salvation.”

The Psalmist points us to the imputed righteousness that the Lord gives to all who will genuinely seek Him in faith.  Abraham, we are told, believed God and it was imputed to Him as Righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)   It is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we are redeemed through His Righteousness, not through our own.  What a precious blessing this is.

3) In verses 7 through 10 we encounter a question and a promise which is repeated in order to establish it as a certainty.  The question is “Who is this King of Glory?”  The promise which follows in answer to the question is “The Lord strong and mighty in battle.”  The point is that the King of Glory, the Messiah is God mighty in battle.  He has come in to wage battle on the cross for us and in doing so He has triumphed over everything that keeps us from entering God’s Presence.  He has even triumphed over death, so that we may be raised with Him.

Such blessing through the words of the Psalmist.  Won’t you come and join us next Wednesday as we continue our reflections on the Psalms with Psalm 25.  May God richly Bless you.

BUILDING A FELLOWSHIP

“They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  Acts 2:42

As we restart this Pastor’s Blog I think that it is important that we remind ourselves of the principles upon which we began this work back in 2011.  I am therefore reposting the inaugural blog post from April 2011.

This past week I have been reflecting upon what I could write as a good beginning for this Pastor’s Blog.  Perhaps the best place for me to begin is with a focus upon the principles I have been following as I have worked as a Pastor here in Brampton.   These are centred upon the building of a truly Spiritual Church.  Over the past years we have been emphasising the principles found in Acts 2:42.  This was the text for my first sermon here twenty two years ago.  We have returned to this theme frequently.  In this text we discover the crucial principles upon which every healthy Church must be built.  These are found below.

1) A truly Spiritual Church must be built upon the Apostles’ Doctrine.  This doctrine is contained in the Scriptures.  The Apostles, under the leading of the Holy Spirit laboured in the Word of God.  Out of this labour they developed the teaching which is contained in the New Testament.  For this reason we focus upon expository preaching and teaching in all of our communications.  The focus of this blog will be to write expositions of the Scriptures which we have recently focused upon.

2) A truly Spiritual Church must also be built upon fellowship.  This is a sharing together in the life of Christ.  Our goal and our hope for all that we do is to build this type of warm hearted life into all that we do together.

3) A truly Spiritual Church must also be built upon the celebration of the Breaking of Bread, or the Lord’s Table.  The Scriptures tell us that this is a crucial proclamation of the death of the Lord until He returns.  It is therefore a cross centred, evangelistic celebration.  There is a suggestion in the New Testament that the Lord’s Table extended beyond a communion ritual to the sharing of a love feast together.  For this reason it is our hope that our sharing of meals together as a fellowship will reflect the reality of a gracious, love filled proclamation of the cross.

4) A truly Spiritual Church will be a Church which is growing in its commitment to and practice of prayer.  We pray in order to reflect the Glory of God.  We also pray that His power and grace might be actively at work among us.  We are constantly seeking to encourage people to be growing in prayerfulness.  We are committed to prayer times at all of the events at our Church.  A prayer list is published in our bulletin, as well as in our monthly prayer journey calendar. Here we begin to experience the power of God in our lives.

In everything we are seeking to do here we are committed to experiencing and sharing the love of Christ as a fellowship here in the heart of Brampton.  Check back often to see what progress we are making.