Exhortation: May 1, 2022

Christians, hear Psalm 1…

1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

This is the Word of the Lord

Psalm One begins with “Blessed is the man…” and then goes on to talk about what that blessed man does not and does do. To be clear up front, Jesus Christ is the only man who has ever really lived up to that, who has not done the things He is not supposed to do, walked in the counsel of the wicked, stood in the path of sinners, sat in the seat of the scornful. He alone among men has fully delighted in the law of the Lord.

And it is a great blessing to us that Jesus has not done, and done, those things. His sinless life, atoning sacrifice, and glorious ascension gives us the opportunity to be among His people. The Psalmists and Prophets make it clear that the Christ, as that One Blessed Man, is blessed to have a people prepared for Him, and our greatest blessing is being among that people.

But Psalm One is not solely a description of Jesus. Paul tells Timothy that “all Scripture is…profitable…for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I am not going out on a limb, much less skinny branches, by saying that we are supposed to become more like Jesus, to take on the very family likeness of the family of God, and the Scriptures are there to help us do that.

Psalm One does that by giving us wisdom about how to curate our lives. Let me explain what I mean by that. The curator of a museum has control over the collection in the museum. The curator decides which pieces are going to be displayed, which pieces will be displayed together, and where and how they are going to be displayed. And, since most museums have a lot more stuff than they can put on display, the curator decides what will not be displayed at any point in time. If you will, the curator decides what you will and won’t see in the museum.

One of the things the blessed man of Psalm One curates is the soundtrack of his life. “His delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his Law he meditates day and night.” There are words in the Hebrew that describe the concept of ‘think.’ But the word translated here as “meditates” is not one of them. It implies a sort of muttering, an internal dialog. And in the Hebrew, to say ‘day and night,’ is a way of saying ‘all the time.’ So the life of the blessed man has a soundtrack. It is the Law of the Lord, the Torah of Yahweh, it is the constant background music of his life, and it tempers everything else about his life as his constant guide.

Our lives all have soundtracks. And it’s more complex than that blessed man in agrarian Palestine. Our devices have become part of our lives, and bring soundtrack with them. Anybody got a Spotify account? Podcasts? Twitter and Facebook? I used to listen to classic rock and country in the car. I figured out I can’t do it anymore. It’s not helping me to be more like Jesus.

The reality of it is that I don’t even need any of that to lead me astray. Nor do you. In the prayer of general confession that Sam uses, he confesses the sin of the words of our lips. They really aren’t anything compared to our mutterings, that internal dialog, now are they? At least mine aren’t. And you know that I generalize from my sin to your sin. And the lusts of our hearts? Wow.

I want to offer two things here. First, we need to curate the soundtracks of our lives. We need to steep ourselves in the Word of God, to become our background music not only in curating our soundtracks, but in guiding us in every circumstance of our lives, that we might be blessed men and women, taking on the family likeness of the family of God.

Second, DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scriptures tell us, in many places, to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not try to mislead, nor cloak them before the face of, Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient hearts; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart, and humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace, kneeling as you are able;

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from Your ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent; According to Your promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live godly, righteous, and sober lives, To the glory of Your holy Name. Amen.

[Assurance of pardon\

May God grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him, which we do at present; and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure, and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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Corporate Prayer: Easter Sunday 2022

Our Holy Father and our God, we have come into Your presence this morning because You have called us. You have called us from slavery to sin and death to become slaves of righteousness. You have called us from darkness into Your inestimable light. You have called us not only into Your light, but You have called us to be light, light in Christ.

As with the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, O God, you have called us to remember, as You remember. To remember Your creation of all things out of nothing, that before what we know as the beginning, there was the Triune God, and nothing else. To remember that after You created everything else, You created Man in your very image, different from all other created things. To remember that our first father, Adam, sinned against You, taking all of mankind into darkness and curse with and after him. To remember that even in the midst of that first onslaught of darkness You promised a Savior, Who would crush the serpent’s head, even as the serpent bruised His heel. To remember that in the fullness of time You remembered Your promise, and a virgin conceived by Holy Spirit and brought forth our Savior, Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, the One who would turn back the curse. To remember that according to Your purposes He took upon Himself our sin and shame, dying an accursed death upon the cross, that we might be cloaked in His righteousness and have the adoption as sons and daughters of the Living God. To remember that by Your power and glory, on the third day He rose again, showing forth the vindication of Your purposes, that Death could not hold Him, and cannot hold us. To remember that the day is coming when He will return in glory to judge all of mankind, the living and the dead, to establish His kingdom that will have no end. To remember that Your covenant faithfulness endures forever.

And on this Easter Sunday, O God, we remember and celebrate especially the glorious and joyous truth that Jesus Christ is, indeed, risen from the tomb, to turn back the curse and bring eternal life!

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Corporate Prayer: November 14, 2021

Our Holy Father and our God, we give You thanks for this day you have given us, for the beauty of this land that surrounds us, for the change of the seasons that puts the stamp on Your covenant faithfulness. Thank you for the great mercies You show forth to us day by day, food and clothing and shelter, family and work and rest. Of all that You have blest us with, the greatest is that You have given Your Son for us, and given us to Him. We thank You for the salvation wrought through the atoning sacrifice and glorious ascension of Jesus Christ and the benefits that are ours in adoption as Your children in Him.

We give You thanks, O God, for Christ’s body and bride, the church. We thank you for our denomination, the CREC, for brothers and sisters who stand with us shoulder to shoulder in the service of the Gospel, in Presbytery and over the face of the globe. We pray, O Father, that in Your shepherding we and they might be found faithful. We ask that Christ’s church, wherever she may be found, would return to the faith once received, and that You would exact the discipline necessary to bring that about.

We thank You for faithful elders and deacons. We pray for their wisdom in service, that they and their families would be protected, that we, as a congregation, would be a light and joyful burden for them to bear.

We give You thanks, O God, for the children placed in our midst, that our worship is accompanied by gurgles, cries and screams. We pray that these would be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and that those carrying babies in the womb would be protected and they would carry them to full term and we would see healthy mother and baby among us.

We give You thanks that You have given us a Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We pray that You would move us, like Him, to seek the lost sheep. Place in our pathways those who need to hear and embrace to Gospel, give us boldness, wisdom and winsomeness to communicate to them the Gospel of eternal life in Jesus Christ. And we pray, O Father, for the lives and souls of those connected to this congregation who have strayed or have never been a part of Christ’s church. In all these things You are sovereign, and we entrust them to Your care, asking for them to be blest with repentance, forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ.

We give You thanks that we live in a land of freedom. We pray for those at all levels of our government, whether elected, appointed or employed, that they would govern and administer in keeping with Your holy character. May they govern in righteousness, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives. We pray that You would bring revival upon our land, that our government and people would be a people of the Lord. We pray that the abomination of abortion would cease, here and over all the earth.

Father, the Apostle tells us in Your word that we do not even know what to pray for. By Your Holy Spirit, may our prayers be made complete. As He plumbs the depths of our hearts may He present to you our deepest and even unknown concerns and longings. May our thanksgiving and our praises be made complete until that day when Your place is among men, ever tear dried and every wound made whole.

And we ask that the remainder of our worship would be superintended by Your Holy Spirit, that what we do here may be pleasing in Your sight. May Your Word be faithfully preached and Your sacrament be faithfully administered, equipping and preserving the saints of Valley Covenant Church to Your praise and glory.

All this we pray in Christ’s Holy Name.

Amen

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Would it have been that hard?

I am not an electrician. But I have done some electrical. In Florida you could do your own, and my inspectors encouraged me to do that. Most of it is not rocket science.

Using modern (as in the last 30 – 40 years) electrical cable, it is easy to ground a metal electrical device box. Of course, for a lazy electrician, it’s even easier to cut off the ground wire in the cable and leave the box and switch ungrounded. And unsafe. Ask me how I know they do it.

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When you open that wall…

I’ve been doing remodeling work on my own houses since the early 80s. Now I’m a contractor, and I’m working on other people’s houses.

The work I’ve done going in behind other folks as I have worked on my houses has given rise to a proverb in my household…

When you open that wall, you will rarely find hidden perfections.

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Congregational Prayer, 6 June 2021

Our Holy Father and our God, we give You thanks for this day You have given us, the days that have gone before and the days that lie ahead. We give You thanks for the change of the seasons and the stamp it puts upon Your covenant faithfulness. We thank You for the life You have given us, this temporal life in the midst of Your creation and eternal life in Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We thank You for the opportunity to join together with Christ’s church, both as we join together at His table and as we are raised to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

We thank you for the fruitfulness of this congregation, for the blessing of children in and among us at worship, for the sounds of little ones in our midst.

We thank you that in Your providence You provide for our every need.

We thank You for faithful officers, for the faithful preaching of Your Word and the faithful administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We thank you for the new place we have for worship and for the schools, and for the fact that we seem to be running out of chairs. We thank You for those who have joined themselves to us by vow this morning.

Most of all, we thank You for being our God. We know that all of these other things for which we are thankful, and an infinite number of things we do not know to even be thankful for, flow from the fact that we bear the name of Christ, and in Him You are our God and our Father.


 

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Be very watchful

“…if you would make conscience to have your [conduct] rightly ordered, be very watchful over yourselves in that special sin your nature is most inclined to.”
Jeremiah Burroughs, sermon delivered March 8, 1645

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Congregational Prayer: January 24, 2021

Our Holy Father and our God, You have called us to enter into Your presence. We do not enter because of any good we have of ourselves, for we are unworthy to even take Your name upon our lips. Instead, we enter because we claim the shed blood of Christ, our Savior, who gave his life a ransom to purchase back His Bride-Church from sin and eternal death. In Him we come before You, O Father. Lend us Your ear. Hear our praises and thanksgivings. Hear our petitions.

Thank You, Father, for the salvation We have in Jesus Christ. With the sin of our first father, Adam, all of mankind bore a debt that we could not satisfy, and the curse of death and hell bore upon us. It pleased You, in Your eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, Your only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of His Church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom You did from all eternity give a people, to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified. We thank You, O God, that You have given us to Him and given Him for us.

Thank You, Father, for the fruitfulness of this congregation and the many covenant children You have brought forth among us. Thank You for the recent increase with the births of B and S. Thank You for the presence of these children among us in worship, and that life happens here. Thank You for faithful parents who work diligently to raise up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We pray, O God that You will work through their labors, and those of our whole congregation, to raise these children up to be of strong, unshakeable faith and that they might live to love and serve You with whole and glad hearts all of their days.

We thank You, Father, for Christ’s body here on earth, His Bride-Church, for this local body of believers, and for our sister churches in Knox Presbytery and in the whole of the CREC. Thank You for the voices and wisdom of our faithful elders and deacon, the voices and wisdom of those who have gone before us, and Your voice and wisdom as You speak to us through Your Word. We ask, Father, that if we find ourselves in a time of winnowing of the Church, led by Your Spirit and aided by these voices and wisdom, we would be found faithful. May Christ’s church be salt and light in a world that desperately needs them.

We thank you, Father, that we live in a country still of unparalleled freedom. We pray for those who govern in this country, at all levels, whether elected, appointed or employed, especially President Biden and Governor Little, the supreme courts and legislatures of the United States, and the State of Idaho, and the City Councils of Lewiston and Moscow, that they may govern in truth and righteousness. Your Scriptures tell us that You move the heart of the king as we might turn on a faucet. We pray, O God, that You would move the hearts of our government that we might have the government we need, as opposed to the one we deserve, that we might live quiet and peaceable lives.

We pray, O Father, for those of our families and those we love who have strayed from or have never been in Christ’s sheepfold. Our hearts break and we weep for their misery and destiny, O God. We know that You have sovereign power to turn them to Christ, and we implore You to do that. Through whatever and all means You have at Your disposal, please gather these lost sheep and bring them into the safety and rest of Christ’s fold. May they be blest with repentance, forgiveness and salvation, all of these gifts from Your gracious hand.

We pray, O Father, for those who need physical healing. We ask that S night be kept in safety from the medical complications inherent in her birth. We ask that B might grow strong and serene. We ask that A and A would have recovery both speedy and complete. We ask that H might have mind and tongue loosed to join fully in worship and the life of his family. We ask that R might be healed of the burden of Lyme disease. We ask that F would be relieved of the pain from his back problems. We hold up N, M, M and K before You, and ask that they would be healed of their infirmities. We ask You to keep sickness from our doors and sustain us in health.

We pray, O Father, for the persecuted church around the world, In China, North Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, West Africa, and wherever else the saints are trod upon and killed for their belief. We thank You for the growth of Christ’s church in these areas in spite of these persecutions, and pray for their protection and for the sustaining presence and power of Your Spirit to be upon them.

Father, the government of our country could leave us in dismay. We have ended four years of a president whose tongue paraded through the earth, yet whom You used to bring about some restraints. Now we are faced with a president at the head of a political party which sees the abomination of child sacrifice as an inalienable right. God help us! Father, we implore You, make this cease. Convert the wicked hearts of this people and turn this nation to Christ. Purify Christ’s church and return her to her first love. Bring abortion to an end, here and everywhere. And if that means that we are crushed with them, let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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Corporate Prayer Anno Domini 2020, December 6

Our Holy Father and our God, Creator of all things, Judge of all men, we have come here, together, because You have called us out of the darkness into Your marvelous light. For in Galilee of the Gentiles a light shone. Those who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, a great light has shined. That was the true Light which gives light to every man, Who came into the world.

We come to You this morning, O Father, in praise and thanksgiving for who you are. You alone, O God, Triune Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are from eternity. There was never a time when the Triune Godhead was not, nor will there ever be. You are light, and in You is no darkness, not a single one.  Your being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

In Your mercy, O God, from all eternity and merely for Your good pleasure, You purposed to give to us a Savior, Your Son, Jesus Christ. In great humiliation He condescended to take on human flesh and be born to a young virgin. Made like us, sharing in our infirmities, that He might become our faithful, compassionate, and ultimate High Priest, making the offering once, for all, of Himself as propitiation, atoning for our sins and reconciling us to Yourself.

We could not have reconciled ourselves to you, Father. We are by nature sinful and unclean, and no sacrifice we could offer could atone for the cosmic treason we have committed. Only by the one offering of Jesus Christ are we able to come before You. In Him we are the adopted of God, and we come to You as children to our Father, praising your for your goodness, bringing you our concerns, praying to You in submission, knowing that You are in control of all things.

Our Holy Father and our God, Creator of all things, Judge of all men, we have come here, together, because You have called us out of the darkness into Your marvelous light. For in Galilee of the Gentiles a light shone. Those who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, a great light has shined. That was the true Light which gives light to every man, Who came into the world.

We come to You this morning, O Father, in praise and thanksgiving for who you are. You alone, O God, Triune Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are from eternity. There was never a time when the Triune Godhead was not, nor will there ever be. You are light, and in You is no darkness, not a single one.  Your being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

In Your mercy, O God, from all eternity and merely for Your good pleasure, You purposed to give to us a Savior, Your Son, Jesus Christ. In great humiliation He condescended to take on human flesh and be born to a young virgin. Made like us, sharing in our infirmities, that He might become our faithful, compassionate, and ultimate High Priest, making the offering once, for all, of Himself as propitiation, atoning for our sins and reconciling us to Yourself.

We could not have reconciled ourselves to you, Father. We are by nature sinful and unclean, and no sacrifice we could offer could atone for the cosmic treason we have committed. Only by the one offering of Jesus Christ are we able to come before You. In Him we are the adopted of God, and we come to You as children to our Father, praising your for your goodness, bringing you our concerns, praying to You in submission, knowing that You are in control of all things.

Those who have left the flock

Those in need of encouragement because of their circumstances

Physical healing

Children

That life happens here

In the wombs of the congregation

Saints in persecution

Government

Session

Thankful for faithful officers

Sustain them in their lives

Wisdom in their ruling

Pastoral search

Ministries

Christ’s church and sister churches in CREC

The preaching of Your Word

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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All God’s Strokes…

All God’s strokes are strokes of love and mercy, All God’s ways are mercy and truth, to those who love Him and fear Him (Psalm 25.10).

Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Banner of Truth, 60.

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