We Remember 9/11

twin-towersI was in Advanced Individual Training the morning of 9/11/2001. We saw it all happen on the news. It was a morning we didn’t do PT (physical training) because we were getting ready for a Post Change of Command Ceremony. It was a dark day. A day many cried out to God in despair. America learned that she was vulnerable to attack, and hated at a much deeper level than what makes for comedy about culture clashes. America also learned that many who live here under her protection hate her. America is not a Christian nation, but many of us who call upon the Name of the Lord call sojourn through this life calling America home for now. May we continually pray for America, her leaders, and for the Church. May we not forget that this world is evil, sinful, and destined for destruction. But we do not grieve as the world grieves, for our Hope rests in the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven and Earth will pass away, and by His Blood we are assured new bodies, free from sin and death, and He has promised a New Heaven and a New Earth and a New Kingdom with God as our King. Amen.

Psalm 38  (ESV) | Do Not Forsake Me, O Lord

A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering.
1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh
    because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
    because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.
12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
and meditate treachery all day long.
13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
who boast against me when my foot slips!”
17 For I am ready to fall,
and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
    I am sorry for my sin.
19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,
and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20 Those who render me evil for good
accuse me because I follow after good.
21 Do not forsake me, O Lord!
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
 O Lord, my salvation!

Psalm 27 (ESV) | The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation

Of David.
27 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9     Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Praise the Name of the Lord

fireworksThis week, I’d like to start by reading Psalms 148.

Psalms 148 | Praise the Name of the Lord
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!

Let everything… everything… praise the Name of the Lord. Amen! This Psalm was read in our Church service last Sunday during corporate worship. It is a beautiful Psalm. As we were reading through it, a thought crossed my mind regarding idolatry. How great is the sin of man and the curse on the Earth as a result. Remember the temptation that the father of lies brought to Eve?

Genesis 3:1-5 (ESV) 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The original sin, was committed under the false promise of becoming like God. Idolatry. You see, we are familiar with the idolatry of worshiping things created by man (engraved images, carved idols, Asherah poles, etc.) and the idolatry of hero-worship, the love of money, and the love of self. However, there is yet another form of idolatry that is alive and growing today that must be struck down. The undue worship of God’s creation. The sun, moon, stars, mountains, hills, oceans, rivers, beasts, birds… nature… “mother earth”. Ever think about all of the pagan religions and the objects of their worship? Paul’s letter to the Romans (Gentiles) begins by addressing this rejection of God, the Creator.

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV) 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Sin. What were the first commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai?

Exodus 20:1-7 (ESV)1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

And which did Jesus say was the Greatest Commandment?

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

This is a serious, and ever-present problem for mankind. It is the underpinning of every sin… the desire to worship anything other than the One True God. Do you truly think that mankind has somehow evolved beyond Israel’s continual idolatry (Asherah Poles and Baal)? No, my friends, we are the same as we were in those days… in some ways even worse.

David understood the heart of men… and he is described as a man after God’s own heart. He gave us this and many other Psalms as a reminder that we are to Praise the Name of the Lord. Not only mankind, but every created thing is to praise His Name. All of Creation points to God, and serves to worship and honor Him.

Psalm 96 (ESV) | Worship in the Splendor of Holiness

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

This weekend, here in the US, we celebrate our Independence Day (July 4th). Don’t let patriotism, rise to the level of idol worship. God has no need of this nation. There is only one earthly nation blessed by God, who is described as the apple of His eye. Our hope rests in the Kingdom of Heaven, in the Resurrection, and the Great Day of the Lord. Therefore, let us always and forever more praise the Name of the Lord.

May the Lord Bless and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

Peter’s first sermon

day-of-pentecost-acts-2-38

I tried to find the original of this image for proper citation, if you know the artist or title of this work please inform me.

I’ve made references to Peter’s first sermon a few times in prior posts, and today I thought it would be awesome to take a look at this first sermon preached by Peter. Our text will be Acts 2. If you’ve been following our bible studies here, you should remember that Acts 2 begins with the promise of God the Holy Spirit being poured out on the day of Pentecost. The Day of Pentecost is not a “new testament” thing, it is in-fact a Jewish celebration of the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22). Pentecost is the Greek word (the fiftieth day) referring to this Hebrew Festival. This festival is particularly important, because it was listed as one of the 3 festivals that all Jewish men were required to appear before the Lord God of Israel (Exodus 34:22-23), which by the time Jesus arrived on the earth, the Lord God had already declared His presence to be made at the Temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, all Jewish men had to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem 3 times a year, one of these times is for the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost (in Greek). Jews from around the world were in Jerusalem to appear before the Lord God of Israel for Pentecost. It is on this day, that the Promise of God the Holy Spirit as spoken by Jesus Christ, was delivered. The first Gift of God the Holy Spirit manifested is the gift of different tongues/languages so that the men from all over the world would hear the Glory of God proclaimed in their native tongues, not just in Galilean Aramaic. So, Peter’s first sermon was not to Gentiles, it was to Jews. Devout, learned Jews who were observing the Feast of Weeks in keeping with the Law of Moses. These were not strangers to the Law or of the Prophets, they were familiar with the Holy Scriptures. However, in their knowledge, the did not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the Messiah. So, Peter’s first audience was a tough one. Thank God for His Holy Spirit. Now that we’ve set the stage, let us take a look at his sermon:

Acts 2:14-41 (ESV)

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

I just wanted to take a moment to highlight that Peter is quoting from Joel 2:28-32. This prophecy starts in Joel 1:1 and runs throughout the book of Joel. It is all one prophecy. Peter is quoting the portion that rests between the Lord taking pity on His people, and sitting in Judgment over the nations. These are the last days in which we find ourselves, for the Lord had taken pity upon His creation and gave to us the ultimate sacrifice for the remission of sin, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gift of God. We also await the day of His Glorious return, when He will redeem all who have called upon the Name of the Lord and He will sit in Judgment over creation. Why did Peter go to Joel first? Well, clearly the God the Holy Spirit was giving Peter the words to speak in that very hour (as Jesus told the disciples would happen), but notice the entrance into this sermon comes as a response to the accusations against the manifestation of the Gift of the Holy Spirit as mere drunkenness.  The first visit to Scripture is a clear statement of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as foretold by Joel (who prophesied by the Spirit of God). Peter was also clearly marking the present age, the need for repentance and acceptance of the gift of God and the need to do so before the coming judgement. The book of Joel is not long, and I encourage you to take some time to read through it. However, let us continue for now in Peter’s sermon.

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Amen. Peter points out that the Jews were guilty of putting Jesus to death, by the hands of lawless men (Romans). Once Peter explained in Scriptures that the Jews were witness to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he then moved to identifying Jesus as the Christ. When he quotes from the Psalms of David, he first goes to Psalm 16. I have to be honest, had I read this Psalm without knowing Peter’s interpretation of the Psalm, I wouldn’t have read it as a prophetic Psalm about Jesus. However, Peter makes it clear that since David’s body did see corruption (his body rotted in the grave), it wasn’t about himself that he was speaking; rather, David was referring to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So awesome. The new testament provides us with clear insight into how we should read the old testament to see Jesus (not ourselves, because the bible is not about us).

The next Psalm Peter visits is Psalms 110. Here, however, Peter quotes the introduction to the Psalm. Read the rest of the Psalm, because David is again prophesying of Jesus but he is doing so regarding the Day of Judgement, the Day of Christ’s Return. So, again, we have Peter explaining from scriptures that we find ourselves in the last days, between the salvation of the Lord and His Judgement. Notice, in verse 37, that all who heard these words understood the gravity of what was being taught and their guilt was before them, something they dare not proceed into judgement with, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter’s response is great direct and powerful. He also returns to the initial point of the sermon, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They don’t have to wait, because they (as are we all) are in the last days when the Spirit of God is poured out.

Peter preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Scriptures, clearly identifies their sin and need of a Savior (these being folks who follow the Law and the Prophets, not a Godless group of people, but one still perishing nonetheless for they have not yet believed in Jesus as the Christ) and then offers them the Way of escape. He also is quick to relay the promise of God the Holy Spirit. The disciples had just received the very gift that Jesus instructed them to wait for and they knew immediately that this Gift was promised to all who believe and are baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

That same Holy Spirit that gave Peter the words to speak, lives within each of us who call upon the Name of the Lord and have our names written in the Lamb’s book of life. We may not move as powerfully in the Holy Spirit, but I think that is due to a lack of knowledge of the Scriptures, and poor discipleship. Peter walked with the Son of God for years. That’s powerful discipleship. We have a great deal of it, but we don’t have all of what Jesus did (John 21:25), so we don’t have the fullness by which the 12 Apostles were taught. Remember in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is promised to both teach and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them. That is critical for us to have the New Testament written, but also as a promise to us that He will remind us of His Word that we have buried in our hearts (Psalms 119:9-16).

Brothers and sisters, please become life-long students of the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit, always, AND edify your mind by drinking in the written Word of God.  If you look around the web, you’ll see that gallop estimates that 40% of Americans attend church daily. However, a Hartford Institute of Religion study indicates that only half of those are telling the truth. But that is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. If 20% attend church weekly, how much of each service is actually devoted to studying and exegeting properly the Word of God? If the typical Sunday morning service runs from 10:30am to Noon, with the first 45 minutes of a concert, 10 minutes of announcements, intro videos, skits, collecting of tithe/offerings, that leaves roughly 30 minutes for a sermon. Now, what if the sermon is geared more toward sloganeering of a self-help book, or casting the vision of the pastor rather than teaching the text of the Bible? It can become all to easy to lose sight of the Word of God even while conducting the business of church. I pray your church experience is nothing like what I’ve detailed above. Still, even if that 1.5 hrs of Sunday Morning church were devoted to biblical study, it wouldn’t be enough. That is why I am so eager to share what I am studying throughout the week, and am so excited that you are reading here today. Even if you disagree with everything I write, at least you are reading the Word of God that is copy-and-pasted into these posts and hopefully following the external links to bible references. 😉

In closing, I’d like to echo Paul’s benediction from 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV) “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

In Him,
Jorge