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Christmas is one of the most celebrated times of the year in the Christian world today. Church and world alike participate in its majestic celebration. Beginning a month before the date of celebration, the songs of Christmas begin to fill the air. The postman staggers under the ponderous burden of gift packages and greeting cards. Red and white bearded monstrosities are roaming the streets bellowing with inane laughter. Parties are held full of wine, food and song. As the day of celebration approaches, the crescendo of activity is incredible and one realizes that everyone is incomparably and indescribably happy about something.

Does one dare ask the questions, “What meaneth all this intense enthusiasm? Who or what can be responsible for this universal fervor?” The answer one would get is that “Jesus is born.” But you may ask, “Is all this fuss over the birth of Jesus?” “Why of course,” comes back the impassioned answer. Ah, yes, you see everybody is celebrating because Jesus is born. Yet, in the din of celebration, you will observe two diametrically opposed outlooks regarding this celebration. Jesus was born, but what a difference in outlook. The world which hates God will emphasize the humanity of the babe of Bethlehem. They see a Babe of beauty born in the romantic setting of a cattle stall. What a peaceful scene, what a lovely child, what a heavenly night! Did not the Babe grow to be the best man that ever lived? Certainly if we follow his example, we would be able to achieve the elusive peace on earth and good will towards men. What a terrible irony! They have the answer to the question. Yes, Jesus is born. They see many of the apparent features of Bethlehem. Many are the same things the child of God sees; yet the spectacles they have on are of this world. They see only what man in his sinful fallen state can see. They see what they want to see. Christ says of them in John 9:39, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind.” How ironic that the world is jolly and merry in the season of their judgment. The reality of Christmas for the world is their condemnation. Jesus as the babe is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, because they are blinded to the reality of who he really is. They want a babe who will grow up to be the Prince of Peace in a better world that man has made.

The child of God sees the babe of Bethlehem through the spectacles of faith and, therefore, his celebration takes on a deeply spiritual meaning. Jesus is God in the flesh. As God, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He is the king of the church and not of the world. He is the Savior of his people and as such, he walked the way of the cross taking on himself the iniquity of his people. The joy of Christmas for the child of God must be the joy of Simeon when he beheld the Babe: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). The reality of Christmas for us is salvation. This provides the peace that passes all understanding.

When you and I are tempted to get caught up in the turmoil and confusion of the celebration of this world’s Christmas, remember that they have their reward. They will reap judgment on their heads because they despised the Son of God. It is a celebration born of a hatred of God, and it deliberately attempts to conceal the real meaning of Christmas. Celebrate we must and we will, but remember in all our celebration, never lose sight of God in the babe of Bethlehem. For only then is he the balm of Gilead to the battle scarred child of God. Above all, do not forget that beyond the manger looms the foreboding spectacle of the cross. A cross which the world hates because it implies humiliation and judgment. To you and me it is the answer of our anguished prayer of “Lord be merciful to me a sinner.” The answer comes: “Thy sins are forgiven.” Thanks be to God. Let us celebrate Christmas with a joy unspeakable.

Whom will you serve? God or man? This is the issue that faces the child of God every day of his earthly pilgrimage. It was also the issue which faced the three friends of Daniel when they were commanded to bow before the golden image set up by Nebuchadnezzar.

It was the purpose of Nebuchadnezzar to glorify his own name by gathering all the leaders of the provinces together and have them bow down in allegiance before the image he had made. And to make sure that no one would shirk his duty, the fiery furnace was promised to all who refused. By this display of pride and arrogance, he was going to let all know, including those he had conquered, that he, Nebuchadnezzar, had built great Babylon. And what better way than having all people worship him as lord. As far as he was concerned, there was no other lord; had not all other nations with their gods been destroyed by his arm of might!

This is always the purpose of man in the Babylon of this world. Man wants to be served as the lord of this Babylon which he arrogantly asserts he has built. Nebuchadnezzar is but the picture of all men everywhere as they would put God out of His creation and substitute haughty men with his ingenuity as the moving force in creation. The images we are told to bow before are those of science, medicine, along with the man-glorifying religion of humanitarianism. Further, we are encouraged to worship the heroes of the sports world – our super athletes who help take our minds off the sorry state of affairs. Man has built these gods for his self-indulgence and self-gratification as he seeks to numb himself against the horrible consequences of sin. All we have to do is bow down and serve the beast, accept his mark and everything will be all right. Woe be to the man who dares to challenge the great deceit of man in this great Babylon!

The three friends of Daniel had resolved in their heart not to participate in this ungodly celebration they had been forced to attend. There was no doubt many good reasons which could have been given to bow down in homage to man and his conquests. Nebuchadnezzar was the God-ordained authority which must be obeyed; besides what about the good position which they would lose; just once will not make a difference; everyone else was doing it; and one could go on. But they could not bow (not even in pretense) because by doing so they would be denying the one only true God, their Creator, Sustainer and Preserver, and that would be a violation of the first commandment. Rather than deny God, they would rather deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Christ. They knew full well that by refusing to bow, they would lose their earthly life. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25). When given a second chance, they were bold to answer the king. There was not a moment’s hesitation, not the slightest doubt in their minds as to the rightness of their decision. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-ne-go answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). They continued to treat God’s glory as greater than their own lives. They trusted in the only One who was able to deliver the soul; the One whom their very names suggested would deliver them – Hananiah (Jehovah is gracious), Azariah (Jehovah help) and Mishael (who is comparable to the Almighty One?) They trusted in the incomparable, Almighty, faithful God who in His grace helps His own.

Where do we stand when the ruler (Satan) of the Babylon of our day requires that we bow down before his images and receive his mark? The question may not be quite so bluntly stated as with Nebuchadnezzar, but the issue is always the same. Whom will you serve? What do we say when we are asked to yoke ourselves to Babylon by joining in its worldly organizations? Do we excuse our movie attendance, our dancing and our drinking because everyone else is doing it; just once isn’t going to hurt? Would we rather have the identifying mark of Babylon (our WLAV wings, our rock group belt buckles and gaudy T-shirts, our lockers plastered with the pictures and saying of the idols of our society) than we would the identifying marks of the followers of Christ (a meek and quiet spirit, speaking to one another in hymns and psalms and spiritual songs, etc.)? Do we have a greater trust in the gods of science and medicine to solve the ills of man and society than we do in the providence and will of God? Would we rather receive the humanitarian aid of the philanthropic societies of this world with their emphasis on the universal brotherhood of societies of this world with their emphasis on the universal brotherhood of man, than go to receive the mercies of Christ from the Church? God forbid!

Our help is in the Lord alone who made heaven and earth. God in Christ was the deliverance of Daniel’s three friends so he is ours also. As he gave the three friends the spiritual strength to deny themselves in the face of certain death in the fiery furnace, so too He will give us the strength to deny ourselves as we face the fury of the Babylon of our day. When we are faced with the question, whom will you serve? God or man? We will be able to say, “We will serve our God and Him only will we serve. We are not careful to answer thee, O World, Babylon, beast, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us. We ‘fear not them which are able to kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul’ (Matthew 10:28). Our God will deliver us physically, and if not physically, then certainly spiritually in the eternal glory of heaven.”

In conclusion, the confession of Daniel’s three friends is one which comes only from a true and living faith which is constantly being exercised. It is evident that these young men knew God from the covenant instruction they had received from godly parents, through prayer (three times a day toward Jerusalem) and they knew from God’s Word and believed the promises that God is powerful to save. We, too, must exercise our faith through prayer and the diligent study of God’s Word. Also, we must heed the exhortation of the Lord that we not despise His chastening because it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. This activity of our faith will bear its fruit in the bold confession we make in this world. May it be said of us, as it was of the heroes of faith of old, “And these all died having obtained a good report through faith…” (Hebrews 11:39).

All of us have been given names by our parents. As babies we were not aware of the name or the thought or agony which some of our parents went through to give us our names. Some of us were named after relatives, usually a parent or grandparent, while others of us received names taken from Scripture, or possibly some received names following an alphabetical order. But whatever the case, we have a name that we will live with the rest of our lives.

As we grew older, we became more and more conscious of our name because it was our name. We call this self-consciousness. Our name became more than just a handle because associated with that name was how we thought of ourselves and how we wanted to be viewed by others. We want our name to designate us as a particular type of person and thereby set us apart from others. To many of us our name is so important that we take offense when we are spoken of slanderously. When something happens which could blacken our name we immediately take steps to correct it.

Now the desire for a good name is a commendable one, but one wonders if the motive is always a proper one. If our concern is only what others will say or are saying about us, we are being purely selfish and self-centered. But if on the other hand our concern is that as God’s children we want to properly bear His name, then we have a proper concern about our name.

There is something about a good name which is extremely important to those who bear the name of Christ. God tells us in Proverbs 22: l “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” While many people are concerned about their names, only the child of God is concerned for the proper reason.

Why is it so important that we have a good name? Because our name is in separately connected to the name of Christ. As His witnesses what we do and say very really reflects on the name of Christ. And what a name He has! “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Furthermore, we have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus (I Corinthians 6:14) so that through His name we have life (John 20:30). Through His work of redemption He has given us a new name which is written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Heidelberg Catechism asks this question “Why art thou called a Christian?” And answers “Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of his anointing; that so I may confess his name, and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to him; and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life: and afterwards reign with him eternally, over all creatures” (Q. and A. 32). What more can be said? The meaning of this in connection with our desire for a good name is that we must in all our life reflect the life that we have in Christ. We must do all in the name of Christ so that His name will be praised. We must testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings. When we bear the name of Christ in this manner then without a doubt we will have a good name.

This implies, of course, that when we by our works and deeds dishonor our name that we dishonor the name of Christ. This is why sin is so deadly serious. It is against the majesty of the Most High God. We are want many times to be selfishly embarrassed or even upset that our sin was found out. We may even go so far as try to excuse our sin or blame it on others. But the fact remains that Christ’s name is dishonored. The only thing for a Christian to do is what David did when his sin of adultery and murder was pointed out to him by Nathan. “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David. The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die” (I1 Samuel 12: 13). Yet in spite of our sorrow and God’s accompanying forgiveness; we, as David, by our sin give the enemies of God an occasion to blaspheme God’s name. “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (I1 Samuel 12: 14).

In closing, let us remember that a good name is not something we can fulfill in our own strength. We must go to God the only source of all our strength. Let us pray that He will preserve His name in us and that He will keep us from those sins of youth which so often grieve the Holy Spirit. And if we through weakness fall into sin let us not despair of His mercy nor continue in sin. Also let us use His Word as our guide. We must study it and know it. We must be able to say “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Particularly let us heed His Word as it comes to us in Ephesians 5:15-20, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Have you ever taken the time to think about how much your friends mean to you? We often take them for granted and yet if we did examine their importance in our lives, we are sure to find that they have a tremendous influence on us. It has been said that as teenagers our friends influence us more than anyone. There is no doubt that though often exaggerated there is an element of truth to this statement. Our friends and particularly those who are closest to us have such an influence that often times they will determine what we do, what we sing, what we wear, and even what we think. Not only do they influence 11s in every way, but they are necessary to us. God has created us in such a way that we need friends. We need someone to talk to about our joys and disappointments. We need friends with whom we can laugh and cry when the occasion arises. This is why it is so sad when one does not have a friend.

Since friends are so important in our lives, it is well for us to examine what the Scriptures have to say to us on this crucial subject. The Scriptures give us some very important characteristics of friends and also some examples of how friends must behave towards one another.

In the first place, Scripture speaks of friends as those who hold each other in high esteem. In order to do this, they must see in each other a Scriptural quality which is worthy of this esteem. Friends who share the love of God have the spiritual quality which will allow them to serve each other in humility. Christ, who is our perfect friend, became our servant. “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:27-28 with this spiritual quality, a friendship will be able to stand the test of many severe trials. Think of the trials the friendship of David and Jonathan had to endure. David was given the throne of Israel, which by earthly standards should be Jonathan’s. Add to that the burden caused by Saul’s hatred of David. Listen to Jonathan as he speaks to his friend: “The Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father. And thou shalt not only while I live shew me the kindness of the Lord that I die not: But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David everyone from the face of the earth.” I Samuel 20: 13-16

Scripture also indicates that the love that friends have for each other is rooted in the love that God has for them. This means that friendship has a common bond which will unite friends together in harmony of action. They will like the same things and think the same Godly thoughts which will be in harmony with God’s love for them.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” 1 John 4:7,8,21 It is this love by which Jonathan could love David as his own soul even though he knew that David was to have the kingdom. “And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.” I Samuel 20:17 And David could speak of Jonathan in the psalm in I1 Samuel 1:26 when he was killed in battle. “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

With a friend whose love is rooted in God, we will have a blessed companionship which will allow us to share moments of joy and sorrow. As friends, our moments of joy will be unspeakable and full of glory and our sorrow will look to the blessed hope of the glorious resurrection. The reality of this companionship is expressed in a rather well-known hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer.”

True friends will seek to protect each other. We do not mean here the wicked protecting of a friend from the consequences of his sin by covering up for him. What Scripture has in mind is a deeply spiritual protection patterned after Christ’s protection of us when He laid down His life on the cross for His people. “Greater love hath no man than, this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 our protection of our friend must be such that it seeks to protect the spiritual well-being of our friend.

Friends are also loyal to one another. The loyalty of which I am speaking will bring friends through the toughest of trials. In fact, friends who go through as it were thick and thin will have their loyalty strengthened. Let me remind you once again of the loyalty of David and

Jonathan, whose trials were many, and yet we read that each loved the other better than his own soul. What a difference between this loyalty and the loyalty we find recorded in regard to the friends of the prodigal son who left him when adversity came. The loyalty of Scripture is the loyalty of a friend who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17) and the loyalty of a friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Finally, friends who have their friendship rooted in Christ will be completely honest with one another. Honesty is a virtue which can be the most difficult part of friendship because honesty can make wounds which hurt a friend. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend: but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6 a friend will offer suggestions for improvement and also rebuke where necessary, but a friend will never deceive. He may open wounds, but they will heal quickly because we know they are born out of love.

All that we have written about our relationship to our friends is but a dim picture of the reality of our friendship with God in Christ. God has brought us into blessed covenant fellowship with Himself. He has established a bond of friendship with us in Christ which cannot be broken. And what a friend He is to us for He is the perfect friend. “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:l5-16

Do you have friends who would meet the criteria that Scripture gives us? If you do, you have a great blessing of God and a wonder of God’s grace because He alone can give you the eye of faith to see the importance of God-fearing spiritually motivated friends. If not, and your friends are of this world, be warned by James when he writes in James 4:4 “… know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

And do not forget to be a friend. How do you expect to have friends without being one? As a friend, do not forget to show the Christian virtues that it takes to be a friend. “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

Have you ever paused during the busy activities of the school day to observe what is happening around you? Do this sometime. If we are observant, we will soon find that there are many ways in which our fellow students demonstrate by their behavior the attitudes they have toward covenant instruction. It will soon become evident which of us appreciate our instruction and are thankful for the schools God has given us. I would like to make a few observations about our attitudes as they relate to our covenant Christian schools.

What is an attitude? An attitude can be defined as a behavior representative of a feeling or conviction, or behavior expressive of an opinion. Let us look at this definition briefly. First of all, it says that an attitude is seen in our behavior. Behavior is our outward acts and involves those actions that are seeable, fearable, and perceivable to the senses of others. Secondly, behavior is representative of a feeling not perceivable by others because it is from within us. It is from the heart or the inner man that feelings and opinions arise. These feelings which are not discernible to others are manifest in our behavior. The point is that the behavior of a person will tell us much about his attitude.

Let us apply this definition of attitude to ourselves as covenant young people. God has given us the blessed privilege of being chosen by Him to be conformed to the image of His Son through the operation of His Holy Spirit in us. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29. A spiritual ethical change has taken place within us. We were by nature dead in sin, but we are now dead to sin. We have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man. We must, therefore, show in every aspect of our life this change that has taken place within us. Luke 6:43-45 must be the abiding principle guiding us in our lives. “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh”.

The idea I would like us to remember is that the way we behave is definitely a reflection of what is in our heart. Our behavior, therefore, as it reflects what is in our heart is a mirror of whether we hate God or love Him. By the operation of the Spirit within us, we now love God and this love is going to reflect itself in our attitudes toward all things.

Since the motivating force in our lives is love toward God, we will esteem highly the blessings that He gives us as His covenant children. We do this because we know that the blessings He gives us are always signs of His favor, and if used properly are always designed to bring us into closer covenant fellowship with Him.

Our covenant Christian schools are just such blessings of God given to us in His grace. These schools have been given to us through our God-fearing parents for the purpose of instructing us in the fear of the Lord. Our parents at our baptism took upon themselves the solemn duty to instruct us in God’s fear. This is the obligation which God placed upon them in Ephesians 6:4, “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” God in His grace continues to give them the means with which to provide us with schools.

What must be our attitude toward the schools which God in His goodness has given to us through our parents? We must not forget what we have said earlier; all our life must be permeated by the renewal that has been wrought in us by the Spirit of God. We realize, therefore, that instruction is a necessary part of our life as a child of God. God has commanded us to know Him, and as His children we respond by eagerly seeking to know more about him. Therefore, we gladly follow the admonition given to us in Proverbs 1:8, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:” and Proverbs 4:1, “Hear ye, children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. ”

This attitude will reflect itself in many ways. First of all, we will be thankful for our schools and teachers. Since prayer is the chief part of our thankfulness, they will be the subject of our prayers. We will also be thankful for covenant homes into which we have the blessed privilege of being born and raised, homes which have seen the need for God-centered instruction. It has always warmed my heart to hear students pray for their parents and teachers, and who are thankful for their school. Parents and teachers need our prayers also because they are weak and sinful. By praying for’them, we are demonstrating our concern that they receive God’s help in the great responsibility they have in our instruction.

Secondly, our attitude will be reflected in how we seek after knowledge. Seeking to know is one of the important aspects of instruction. We must seek after knowledge as if it were the most important thing we do. Not just any knowledge, but central to our knowledge is God. To know God and His works is the principle part of our instruction. This implies that instruction has a spiritual foundation. We are not getting an education just to get a position, or to be able to act intelligently, or to get rich. The sole purpose of our education is to know God and fear Him, and thereby be more fit instruments in His hand for use in His kingdom. This means that we will vigorously pursue knowledge by doing the most possible work rather than the least possible, thereby showing we have purpose to our education.

In the third place, we show by the way we use our abilities that we have a proper attitude. I am reminded of the parable of the talents in this connection. To some of us God has given much and to some of us less; but the command we have is to use what we have been given to God’s glory. And further, each must seek the well-being of the church as the body of Christ as he used his abilities. The body functions best when each is performing to the best of his ability that which God has given him the talents to perform. We must also show care and concern for one another’s well-being. This means that we help one another spiritually and intellectually. We joyfully bear one another’s burdens.

Finally, we must respect the purpose of the school which we attend. Its purpose is spiritual; that is, training us in the way that we should go in the fear of the Lord. By our attitude, we must show we love this purpose and are thankful that there is a school that still instructs with this purpose in mind. We must let our friends know, let our parents know, and let the world know that we see the need for the covenant instruction we receive. Then we are truly letting our light shine as in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The promise for a proper attitude is that God will bless our efforts in school and also the efforts of our parents who in love have given us the blessed heritage of covenant instruction. We will be stalwart sons and daughters who will be intellectually and spiritually equipped to meet the enemy in the gate. We will be able to teach the blessed heritage we have to our children in the generations following.

In conclusion, let us not trust in our own strength, but let us pray to God to direct our attitudes for we have a faithful Mediator Who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He has sent His Comforter, the Spirit of Christ Who will direct us in the way of all truth. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and learn not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 35-6.

This life is filled with pictures which reflect spiritual realities. One of them is the relationship between a father and his children. I am sure you remember your childhood. You looked up to your father as the one whom you could trust to take care of your needs. You no doubt thought highly of him. There was not a thing he could not do. You probably loved when would take the time to sit down with you to talk about questions which bothered you or problems which perplexed you in this life. In all this, you expressed a child-like trust that your father could settle all problems and answer all questions.

This relationship reflects the beautiful spiritual reality that we have as the adopted children of our Father which is in Heaven. As the spiritual children of our Heavenly Father, we show the same child-like trust in our Heavenly Father that we showed in our earthly father. Christ said in Matthew 18:3, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

It is my desire to deal with a particular aspect of this spiritual reality, namely, the covenant communion that we have with our Heavenly Father in prayer. Just as in our earthly relationship we want to communicate with our earthly father, so too in the spiritual sense the child of God wants to have fellowship and communion with his Heavenly Father. We might go so far as to say that if there is no prayer, there is no communion. Further it is also true that how we pray will reflect the kind of communion and fellowship we have with our Heavenly Father.

We know that prayer is so important because of its prominence in the Scriptures. From the beginning of Genesis to the Amen of Revelation is the instrument which God gives the saints to have fellowship with Him. It becomes apparent that the people of God are a praying people. Therefore, what God has made prominent in His revelation to us. He certainly intends to be conspicuous into our lives. The Scriptures not only indicate that prayer must be prominent in our lives, but Scripture can be used to guide us as we learn the holy art of prayer. Even Christ, the Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of God, our Savior, needed prayer to strengthen Him in His earthly existence. Also, His prayers along with the prayers of all the saints contain within them several instructive features which it is good for us to take notice of.

Without exception, the prayers of the saints are noteworthy because they come from regenerated hearts in which the Spirit of Christ is operating. Only prayers that come from God can go to God. Our need and desire for prayer must come from Him. This means that prayer is a deeply spiritual act of faith in which God brings us into His presence to make our supplications known to Him. Only in this way can prayer be the breath, the watchword, the comfort, and the strength of the child of God.

When we pray, we are in the presence of our Father who is Almighty God. We must remember that we are the adopted children of our Father in Heaven. By His work of salvation He has brought us into covenant fellowship with Him. In Adam, we had forfeited this right: but now in Christ we can commune with Him in prayer. By coming to Him, we recognize His Fatherly goodness and mercy in which He is the overflowing fountain for all our needs. Apart from Him, we are nothing and have nothing: but in covenant fellowship with Him in prayer we are made strong. Come then with your requests to the Lord. You cannot come too often or at a time not convenient for Him. He will never send you away because He has no time to be troubled. His sanctuary is always open to the cries of His beloved children.

The Scripture instructs us that our prayers must be humble. Humility demands that we see ourselves as poor unworthy wretches and that we are incapable of anything of ourselves. We are not worthy of being listened to or of coming into the presence of God. Only then will we have the proper attitude in prayer. We must be as the publican who did not dare look up, but the beat upon his breast saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Only when we cover our heads with dust and ashes will we have the child-like trust that we have nothing of ourselves, but must receive all from our Heavenly Father.

Also, when we pray we must approach our Heavenly Father trusting that He will hear us. There must never be a doubt in our souls that He who made us His children will hear when we humbly come. What son ever went to his father without conviction that he would hear him? We must, therefore, pray fervently unto Him. Cold prayer asks not to be answered. Only the fervent prayer availeth much before the throne of God. The testimony of our Lord is that in seeking we shall find, and in knocking it shall be opened unto us.

Finally, our prayers must reveal a humble resignation to the will of Him who knows what is best for us. This thought is expressed so beautifully by Christ as He prays that the cup might pass from Him. His submission is “Nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.” How many times have we prayed from proud or selfish motives trying to impose our will upon God? We confuse our wants with our needs. It amazes me that the Lord ever hears our prayers when I think how often our prayers are saturated with selfish requests. We can only say with psalmist, “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer.” Psalm 66:20. We must be content as Christ to leave our prayers in the hand of Him who knows when to give, how to give, and what to give and what to withhold. We must be able to confess as the baptism form so ably expresses that God “will provide us with ever good thing, and avert all evil or turn it to our profit.” Therefore, it must be our prayer that we ask for grace to humbly submit our way to the Lord and let Him direct our paths. Our humble submission will be that we will let God be God in our lives and that all our way may serve His Glory and His Kingdom.

This will affect the contents of our prayers in that they will be conspicuously God centered. We will be concerned about ourselves only in so far as our lives must reflect the Glory of God. We will ask God to so work in us that the food He gives, the material blessings He showers on us, the sickness, the health, the sorrow, the pain may all work for His Glory and our salvation. And above all, we will praise and thank Him for His wonderful work of salvation. Prayer, you see, is the chief part of thankfulness. We are thankful that God uses us poor sinners and our feeble efforts in such a marvelous way as the Glory of His Name.

The fruit of such prayer is peace and contentment. The peace of the calm soul arising from a consciousness that our Father will surely hear our requests and will grant only those requests which will best fit us for His Kingdom. We will be content because we know that no matter what will befall us the will of our Heavenly Father is being done is our sanctification and salvation.

Let us not be discouraged in coming to our Heavenly Father because our weak and feeble prayers seem to us to reach no further than the ceiling of our closet, but let us come boldly to the throne of grace remembering that we have an intercessor who is praying to His Father on our behalf, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” John 17:24

The birth of Jesus is one of the most universally celebrated days of the Chris­tian world today. Believers and unbeliev­ers alike appear to celebrate with equal fervor. The Babe of Bethlehem seems to offer this wretched world a certain hope if only man will follow the example of the good man. Believer and unbeliever alike see many of the same features in the birth of Jesus. The difference is the believer has on the spectacles of faith; while the unbeliever, though he sees, is blinded to the reality of Christmas. With his spectacles, the believer sees that Jesus is his Lord and Redeemer who will someday return on the clouds of heaven in judgment. Jesus himself says: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see and that they which see might be made blind.” Yes, indeed, the Babe of Bethlehem is coming in judgment to take unto Himself His sheep and cast the goats into outer darkness.

In this season of celebration, I would like to address a few sobering words to you on the implication of Jesus’ return in judgment, particularly as we find them in Matthew 25:31-46.

Jesus’ judgment is a terrible thing. As the risen Lord, He is given the power to judge in the name of God. In His judgment, the elect (sheep) are separated from the reprobate (goats). The elect He takes to reign eternally with Him while the reprobate He sends to hell. The irony of Christmas is that the reprobate celebrate the birth of their Judge who will condemn them to hell.

This judgment of Christ is based on what man has done with Christ. In verse 40, Christ says “in as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” The point is that Christ is in heaven. Therefore, what we do to the Saints of Christ on this earth we do to Christ. We must see that Christ and His Church are one unified body with Christ as Head. Therefore, what is done to the saints as they are members of the body is done to Christ.

Christ, the righteous Judge, judges according to strictest justice. He will judge everyone on the basis of their sin. The sentence of Christ will be beyond appeal because man will know on the basis of his works that he deserves precisely what he receives at the Judgment.

In this Christmas season, we must remember that the Babe of Bethlehem is our Judge and as Judge He has determined who are His sheep. We must also remember that those who are the sheep of Christ are characterized by what they have done with Christ, particularly as He is reflected in each of the saints. This is a very sobering thought for each of us. As the sheep of Christ, we must show care and concern for our fellow saints. Each has the responsibility before our covenant God to serve our fellow saints whether that saint be in our eyes the least or the greatest. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a spiritual equality because all are necessary to the Body. One part cannot say to another part, “I have no need of you”. All are necessary because all make up an important part of that spiritual Body of Christ. Sometimes, it is the least comely parts that are the most important members in this Body. As the sheep of Christ, we must conduct ourselves as if we realize this important fact.

I have had, as a teacher, the opportunity to observe some behavior which frightens me. This is partly my reason for writing my article. We confess with lip, but it appears the heart is far from God. I see fellow saints being deliberately ostracized because they do not happen to fit into our mode of behavior or social status. I hear students maliciously talked about as “goodie-goodies” because they do not want to join in our wicked “fun”. Those who have less talents, both physical or mental, are excluded from activities as not being good enough. The turned back, the stopped conversation, the stinging rebuke, the snicker at a mistake, the heavy sigh are many ways we serve notice that a fellow saint is not wanted. Who of us is immune to any of these actions? “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The important point for us to see is that when we treat our fellow saints in this manner, we are really sinning against Christ. Unless we repent of this terrible sin, we will be judged as if we committed the very act against Christ. Let us not console ourselves in that we are members of Christ’s Church and, therefore, will not be judged as goats. God is not mocked. We must remember that judgment begins at the house of God where those who know better will be given the greater condem­nation.

In this Christmas season, let us go by faith to Bethlehem and behold our Savior who so loved His sheep given Him of the Father that in His mercy He died the accursed death of the cross that they might have eternal life. Then we, too, will have the grace of God to show mercy and love to our fellow saint realizing they all are of the Body that Christ has redeemed.

In closing, I would like to quote from an article written by Rev. Vos on this subject:

“Minister then, beloved!

Minister to the saints of God. Christ dwells in them.

You may put it this way: Christ Jesus, the Son of God is very miserable in His people. Jesus is hungry and thirsty, naked and sick, a stranger and in jail—in his people!

Love them then, and in the Divine love, reach out to them and alleviate the suffering of Christ in His body, that is, the church!

And the righteous Judge shall reward such mercy in His just Judgment.”

 

“O Lord, how shall a youth preserve his way,

At every turn by vanity surrounded?

In truth, if he Thy statutes will obey,

If on Thy Word his attitudes are founded.

Thou whom I’ve sought, O let me never stray

From Thy commandments, lest I be confounded.”

Psalter No. 428

We hear a lot about exercise today. It seems that keeping in shape is one of the important pastimes in our day. We spend a terrific amount of time and money on exercise and food that will keep our bodies fit and trim. We build big buildings, set up programs, conduct classes, attend diet organizations, buy health foods all in the interest of bodily fitness. The object of all this activity is to combat the inactivity of our jobs, the vast amount of free time, junk food and all the modern conveniences which rob us of our exercise.

I suppose all this emphasis has some place in our lives since there is no doubt that our bodies are the earthly tabernacles given us by God in which He dwells by the Holy Spirit. We may not misuse or abuse our bodies, but must use them as temples of God. And yet we must be careful that we do not make our bodies more than we ought. We must keep our emphasis in proper perspective as opposed to the prevalent emphasis of our day of glori­fying the body. We must remember that no matter what we do to keep fit and trim, our bodies are a living death which will enter the grave and return to the dust.

However, it is not my desire to deal with this subject in my article, but rather use it as an introduction and useful comparison in writing about the subject of exercising ourselves unto godliness. This is a spiritual exercise which also requires a fitness program so that our spiritual muscles do not become soft and flabby.

Spiritual muscle building is not easy. As in physical fitness, it requires a lot of time and effort both on the part of those who lead us and on our own part. Our spiritual training began already in our earliest childhood when our parents taught us that God was our Creator and Sustainer and that He reveals Himself in His Holy Word as our Savior. They sang to us the Psalms and had us memorize them. They sent us to the Christian school and to Catechism where we were in­structed in the truths of God’s Word. As we matured spiritually, our parents taught us the holy art of prayer. By word and example, we were taught how to live the life of the child of God in this wicked world. With all this spiritual instruction, there has come a certain spiritual maturity, so that as we grow older we take more of the responsibility of exercising our spiritual muscles unto godliness. This spiritual exercise is so important that without it we will become spiritually sick, weak and flabby.

Negatively, in our spiritual exercise we must avoid those activities that would tear us down spiritually. We have a nature that loves the delicacies of this sinful world. Its music, its literature, movies and amusements are all there for our lustful, sinful nature to feast its eyes and ears upon. It is against this that we must exercise our spiritual muscles so we can fight against the temptation to indulge in the pleasures of sin for a season.

Also, there are those things which in and of themselves are not necessarily bad, but which if they become the center of our lives and we over-indulge they will become a detriment to our spiritual well-being.

Positively, we must use the means that God has given us to grow spiritually and thereby become spiritually sensitive to godly deeds. Just as we use means to condition our bodies physically, so must we use the means God has given for our spiritual muscle building. In the first place, God has given us His Word in the Scriptures. We cannot know our God unless we study His Word which He gives us as the revelation of Himself. The Word of God is also the lamp unto our feet and the guide to our path. The Scriptures teach us how God would have us to walk as His children. We are told in II Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Therefore, let us make meditation on the Word of God, an important part of our spiritual exercise, so that it will be said of each of us that “his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night” Psalm 1:2. Then the Word of God will be a powerful weapon in our hand as we fight the battle of faith and defend the cause of God.

Exercise is not the only thing we need to stay spiritually fit. We need food for the soul. This we receive when we go to the Lord’s house and receive from His table the meat and drink of the preached Word. Through the lively preaching of His Word, God speaks to us words of admonition, comfort and instruction. We must make every effort to hear the preaching for just as when we neglect the proper physical food we become sick; so, too, when we neglect the spiritual Bread of Life, we become spiritually sick.

Another way we exercise spiritually is when we pray. Prayer is an act of faith whereby we consciously come before our Father in Heaven believing that He will hear and answer our prayer. Jesus himself said “Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” What a God we have that we sinners can have the assurance that when we come in prayer our God will hear us. Our exercise of prayer brings us into blessed fellowship and communion with our heavenly Father. The more we exercise the blessedness of prayer, the stronger will be the bond of faith that unites us to God and also it will make us more sensitive to our spiritual needs. Prayer is not easy. It is a Holy art which we must develop through practice and use.

There are other activities which are spiritually very beneficial in which to engage in the sphere of the Church. Although they do not hold the glamour of many of our activities, Societies are nevertheless an important part in spiritual exercise. For here we are given the opportunity to study and share in the discussion of the Word of God. Here among our fellow saints, we can discuss in after recess programs questions of life to which we seek answers. Also there are the Singspirations, Conventions, and many more activities which have their spiritual as well as their physical benefit because here we can experience the blessed fellowship of the saints. They are activities which God has given us for our spiritual edification. We must make use of them willingly and thankfully.

The purpose of all this exercise is that we can grow in godliness. Godliness is a blessed attribute of the Child of God whereby he is always striving to walk as a child of God in this world of sin. This is a spiritual struggle which is fought against all that would hinder us. Unless we have exercised spiritually, we will at best fight a weak and feeble fight. Therefore, we must be much more interested in our spiritual condition than in our physical condition. I am a bit fearful that it is the other way around and that we have our priorities mixed up. We must be in­structed by the Apostle Paul when he wrote in I Timothy 4:7b-8, “and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” If we follow this wisdom of God as He inspired the Apostle, then we will be able to say with the Apostle as he looks back on his life, knowing that he faces certain death, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” II Timothy 4:7-8.

Has it ever occurred to you that you are adopted? No, I am not talking just to those who are not the natural children of their earthly parents, but to all God’s children. God, our Heavenly Father, had adopted us to be His children. What a blessed comfort to us who were not His natural children.

By nature, we were the children of our father, the Devil. We hated God and we were aliens to the Kingdom of Heaven. We were rebellious sons and daughters who despised the living God. How do we know this frightful fact? Because even now we still carry this old wicked nature with us. We still experience the frightful agony of the sin that we commit against our Heavenly Father. If you look carefully at your life you cannot help but see what I mean. All you have to do is remember the last off-colored joke, sware word said in anger, or word of derision that you spoke to harm the brother. You certainly remember wasting time watching T.V. when you should have been learning the catechism lesson or doing that school assignment. Maybe you remember cheat­ing on your last test or possibly you remember the time you rebelled after you were reprimanded for disobedience. Such are we who God has taken to be His adopted sons. Certainly it was not because of what He saw or sees in us.

When God adopted us it was purely His gracious work. It was not easy to make us legally His adopted sons because our natural father, the Devil, did not want to give us up to adoption nor did we really want this adoption. God also had the rigid requirement of His law which required sin to be punished, which punishment we could not bear. Only Christ through the terrible, dark, and terrifying way of the cross could merit adoption for us. Only Christ, “who is very man, and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, He who is also very God’’ could satisfy God’s justice for our sins.

As we celebrate Good Friday, let us remember that only in the way of the cross could we be legally made sons and daughters of the living God. The cross is the culmination of the suffering our Lord took upon Himself so that by His stripes we could be healed. As Jesus hung on the cross, His cry of agony, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me”, meant that He had descended into the darkness of hell. With those words of Christ, God took us to Himself to be His sons and daughters. Christ took away our sins and guilt so that before the bar of God’s justice, we are perfect.

But wait, there is more, for on Easter our Lord arose. He is victorious over sin and death. He not only suffered and died to satisfy for our sins, but He arose to show that the last enemy is conquered. Death has no more dominion over us. Alleluia! The resurrection is also the visible proof that all the legal require­ments of the law have been performed. Satisfaction has been made for our sins. The empty tomb is proof that we are adopted. God was pleased with Christ’s sacrifice.

What blessed privileges we have as adopted children. We now experience the fellowship with our Father in Heaven. We have the Spirit of Christ testifying with our spirit that we are children of God who daily live in fellowship and communion with Him. We experience the blessing of being in His covenantal union. He freely pours out His grace, mercy and love into our heart.

Just as when earthly parents adopt children, first they must be made legally their children, so it is with the spiritual adoption that God’s children have in Christ. But the truly joyous occasion of the adopting parent and also of the children is when they can have fellowship. The child expects the care and tenderness from his father, and the father loves his son, and together they can share family life. This is also the spiritual blessedness of our fellowship with our Father in Heaven. He is always showering us with blessings more than we can count. (Psalm 103)

And so my fellow adopted brothers and sisters in Christ, when we do through weakness fall into sin, when the crushing blows of life descend on us, when the problems of life become more than we can bare; let us come boldly unto our Father in Heaven and seek His mercies. He ever loves us and will surely hear us. You doubt this? He has risen as He said, see the empty tomb! There in is our victory and our hope!

Covetousness is a deadly sin against which every child of God must guard against, or it will envelop him in its tentacles. This is true, in the first place, because we live in a world which has ungodly mammon as its god. Its motto is eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. It is extremely difficult to live in such a world and not be affected by it. Another reason we must be on guard is because our old man according to the flesh clings frantically to the material good and benefit that this world tantalizingly offers us. We foolishly forget that we must put off the old man and his deeds and seek first the kingdom of heaven.

In the parable of the rich fool, we find Jesus warning against this deadly sin. (Please take the time to read Luke 12:16-21). Here Jesus is warning against the utter foolishness of seeking this world’s goods which will perish. “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

The occasion for this instruction came when Jesus is rudely interrupted by a man while He is teaching the multitude about spiritual matters. The man requested that Jesus speak to his brother about dividing the inheritance with him.

He saw Jesus as one whose words would convince his brother to give him what were apparently his possessions. It was just as apparent that the spiritual instruction into which he had so rudely intruded had no concern for him at the moment. His only concern was the material possessions which he wanted desperately.

We can well imagine Jesus’ displeas­ure with the man, not only because he was rude, but because he had missed the whole point of the Master’s instruction about the spiritual concern for the things of the kingdom of heaven that must be evident in each child of God. Jesus now uses this occasion for the instruction which is found in the parable by laying hold of the underlying sin which beset this man. “Take heed, and beware of covet­ousness for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15

This warning and the parable, which occasioned by the request of this man, are directed for our instruction. All too often we find ourselves worrying about our mundane earthly possessions. Many times we order our lives giving priority to what I want in this world: cars, bank accounts, good pay, retirement programs, insurance, and the like. This is why the parable speaks to us.

In the parable, Jesus uses the illustration of a rich man who was in a rather enviable position of not having enough storage available for his bountiful crop which he was harvesting. He was already rich and stood to become much richer. He must now decide what to do. To him the answer was never in doubt. He would build new and bigger barns for his copious goods. He reasoned that by so doing he could enjoy his retirement in luxury and ease.

Yet Scripture called the man a fool. We may well ask what is wrong with the man? Is it wrong to be rich? Is it a sin to work so that you have an abundance? Was he wrong to use the abundance for the future? The answer is that in themselves these possessions and their use was not wrong. Job was rich and so was Abraham and yet we read in Scripture that they were God’s chosen. They, as well as the rich fool, had been blessed by God with an abundance of this world’s goods. What then is the sin of this rich fool? If we examine the passage of Scripture where we find this, we will find that there is an absence of an important ingredient which must characterize anyone who is going to call himself a steward of God. Nowhere does this rich fool remember from whom he received these goods. It is as if he actually believed he was lord over all his goods. Notice that he uses the words “I” and “my” and “soul thou” repeatedly. He had no trouble putting these goods which he had gained for his selfish, self-centered use. Life had meaning only in terms of the abundance of goods he could use for himself. It is equally evident that he felt that peace, joy and content­ment were to be gained through this abundance. He concentrated all his life’s efforts to gain these material goods so that in the end he could triumphantly say “Soul, thou has much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.” He actually believed that his soul could be fed with these material goods. Spiritually his soul was tied to these goods of this world. His content­ment was in these material things. And because he was a fool, he believed this life and the goods he had gained would last and be enjoyed by him for many years. But, God said “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. Then whose shall those things be which thou has provided?”

We are inclined to agree that here we have a description of a real fool. Yet we have missed the point of Christ’s instruc­tion if we do not see ourselves in the ambitions of this rich fool. How often do we not boldly assert what we will do with our time, talents, and our goods without asking our Lord what he would have us do. How often do not we get caught up in the pursuit of money, houses, cars, clothes as if they can somehow satisfy our souls. Jesus is speaking to us telling us that if these things become our sole ambition in life, we are no more than fools. We are laying up for the life that perishes, thus indicating that we care very little for the life that is eternal.

In the parable, we are warned against this form of coveting. To covet means that we deny that God can and will take care of us. It means that we do not trust in Him as the one who will supply. When we covet, we are not content with God’s way of providing for us, at the same time believing we can do better. Jesus, in the verses that follow, instructs us by telling us to “consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouses nor barns; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” What can we learn from the ravens? That God provides. He as Lord over the creation will not withhold any good things from his beloved saints. Therefore, we must be content with what He gives us since we know that He knows what is best for each one of us. It also means that we must not worry regarding our daily needs, but will trust that, as the good and perfect giver, God will clothe and feed us as He does the lilies and the ravens.

But we seek more than just supplying physical needs for the body. We know that our souls will perish if we do not receive spiritual food. We are told in verse 31 to seek first the kingdom of God. Our souls need the instruction in Christian schools that we have gone to for many years, the catechism instruction, the correction of Christian parents, Bible discussion in Young Peoples’ Society, and above all, we need the spiritual food and drink of the preaching of the Word. You see, Young People, the kingdom of God is spiritual, and therefore, to seek it requires spiritual activity on our part whereby we actively, willingly and thankfully appropriate these spiritual benefits. This activity the rich fool knew nothing about. He thought material goods would supply the need of his soul. God called him a fool. But we through faith must seek spiritual blessings of God’s kingdom so that our soul will live even if the body perish.

Seeking the kingdom of God also implies that all the material abundance we receive we will use in the service of God. We will ask God “What wouldst thou have me to do?” with thy time, thy talents, thy money, thy car, which thou hast given me to use as a steward in thy kingdom. Then when it comes time to part with these earthly possessions, we will willingly do so because our treasures are those spiritual treasures that we can take with us into eternity.

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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Judah: A Story of Redemption

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021.   The story of Judah is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. We often overlook this history because it is nestled in the middle of the story of Joseph. All the […]

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Author Interview: “Through Many Dangers”

M. Kuiper, Through Many Dangers (Jenison: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2021)   Through Many Dangers is a work of Christian, historical fiction that has just been released this summer by the RFPA. The book is written especially for young people and details the story of a group of Dutch Reformed boys who serve in the […]

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