Sunday Sermon: “More Than an Animal: Being an Imagebearer of God” (Genesis 1:26-31)

The topic for this morning is to speak about what God means when he created humanity in his image. God distinguishes humanity from other animals by providing not only that designation but also the responsibilities that come along with such a distinction. John Phillips noted, “The Holy Spirit does not say that man was created in the image and likeness of the beasts. . . . In his nature, person, and personality, in his moral and spiritual capacities, in his emotions, intellect, conscience, and will, man stands apart from the brute creation.”

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HYMN: “How Sweet and Precious is Your Way”

During a very difficult time in 2014, I struggled with sleep. Early one morning, around 5:00 am, I pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled out these words based loosely on Psalm 23. It’s of the same meter as that of “Amazing Grace” (8.6.8.6). I’m so thankful that God takes these expressions of prayer and praise!

How sweet and precious is your way
That leads through pastures green
That makes me lie by waters still
And turns my soul serene.

How hard and troubling is your way
That brings death’s shadow drear.
My only comfort is to know
That your hand leads me clear.

How sweet and precious is your way;
Your path lit by your word.
Enough light given for each step
Away from sin’s allure.

How hard and troubling is your way
When my heart-sin’s revealed
To see how prone I am to stray
My sorrow’s unconcealed!

How sweet and precious is your way
To know forgiveness sweet.
To know the joy of mercies new
Where earth and heaven meet.

Teach me to know the way that’s sweet
And know the way that’s hard.
Yes, in each way you show what’s next
Lord, keep us close in heart.

(Matthew R. Perry, 2014)

Saturday Spurgeon: Let It Be Your Only Business To…

The suffering Messiah will be brought forth again this morning, not by Pilate, but by one who longs to do him honour, and when he stands before you, and is proclaimed again in the words, “Behold your King!” will you also cry, “Away with him, away with him”? Let us hope that there will not be found here hearts so evil as to imitate the rebellious nation and cry, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Oh that -each one of us may acknowledge the Lord Jesus to be his King, for beneath his sceptre there is rest and joy. He is worthy to be crowned by every heart, let us all unite in beholding him with reverence and receiving him with delight. Give me your ears and hearts while Jesus is evidently set forth as standing among you, and for the next few minutes let it be your only business to “Behold your King.”

“Ecce Rex,” MTP 23 (1877).

(Originally posted at my other blog: http://www.allaroundspurgeon.com.)

ARBC 3D Wednesday: Wage the Good Warfare (1 Timothy 1:18-20)

Each Wednesday, we gather together to look at a passage of Scripture. Of late, we’ve been going through 1 Timothy. Here we look at 1 Timothy 1:18-20 about waging the good warfare.

Here’s the book recommended in the video: “When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy” by John Piper

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Wendell Berry on a Right and Wrong View of Patriotism

Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
Wendell Berry

A question arising among American evangelical churches is the role of patriotism and patriotic fervor in our churches, as mentioned earlier in this chapter: should churches acknowledge and celebrate the history and existence of their country in a worship service? While a danger does exist in mixing the spiritual and political realm (which will be addressed later in this chapter), another parallel danger arises in misdirecting patriotism toward nostalgia, a set of symbols, a political party, or preferred political personalities. Novelist, environmental activist, and farmer Wendell Berry noted how “a nation should be able to sustainably feed, clothe, and shelter its citizens, using its own resources by its own work.” He then gives a compelling definition of patriotism that cuts against the grain of what many believe today:

“Its citizens must love their land with a knowing, intelligent, sustaining, and protective love. They must not, for any price, destroy its beauty, its health, or its productivity. And they must not allow their patriotism to be degraded to a mere loyalty to symbols or any present set of officials.”

Wendell Berry, “A Citizen’s Response,” Citizenship Papers (Washington, DC: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2003), 10

What remains so compelling about Berry’s definition of patriotism is how he comes as closely as a non-believer comes to the notion of what patriotism and the responsibilities of citizenship entail. Citizens of heaven love the land that God provided as part of the citizenry of earth. Citizens of heaven love their fellow citizens as imagebearers of God who are the recipients of Christ’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Berry brings a needed perspective in moving patriotism past the nostalgia and sentimentality triggered by symbols and political dignitaries. Loving one’s neighbor as one’s self, whether Berry acknowledges this or not, is the essence of his call to a patriotic “protective love.”