Yet Not I

Sam is a Jehovah’s Witness who stops by once in a while to chat about Jesus. Usually, at the hour he stops by, I am busy preparing for a gospel message or for a bible study so I have several bibles strewn across the table and I am tapping away on my laptop. For this reason, Sam likes to compliment me on how studious I am. 

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A Pile of Sins

When I was growing up on the farm, Saturday mornings meant chores, and the one chore we could always count on without fail was cleaning calf pens. The baby calves were kept in wooden, rectangle-shaped pens with a sand bottom and filled with straw and wood shavings. For a month or two, the calves would spend their lives in these pens, making it easier for them to be fed and cared for. 

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Manifold Redemption

We are all saved from sin by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. But that does not mean our salvation stories are all the same. Sin leads us into all sorts of damning situations, and God’s steadfast love is always there to redeem us.

Psalm 107 is a good example of this; urging the redeemed of the Lord to praise their Redeemer for his manifold redemption. In this Psalm we encounter four different scenarios that allude to Israel’s past, but are not identified with any one specific event. These four places of deep trouble offer us a glimpse into the varied and wonderful ways in which God redeems his people. 

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At the Sinners Table

The teachers of the law couldn’t believe it. As they were passing by Levi’s house, they noticed a crowd had gathered inside and were sharing a meal together. It was a crowd of “those people” – tax collectors, thieves, prostitutes and the like. Habitual sinners who had abandoned loyalty to the nation of Israel and were ignorant of the religious laws. The teachers of the law shook their heads in disapproval and were about to continue on their way when they noticed some of Jesus’ disciples mixed in among those crowded around Levi’s table. When they did a double take, they caught sight of Jesus himself, sitting next to the tax collector. Their eyes grew as wide as dinner plates and they looked at one another in disbelief. What was Rabbi Jesus doing in the company of sinners? Didn’t he care about his reputation? Didn’t he realize these people were spiritually unclean?

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Grace in a Graceless World

If anything has become clear in the last while, it is that our society does not understand grace. In an age filled to the brim with violence, injustice, anger, confusion, and the like, grace is needed more than ever. But grace is in short supply. Rummage the pages of the newspaper, flip through the news channels, or take a scroll among the Facebook comments – wherever you look you’ll be hard-pressed to find grace.

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Boasting in Our Faith

Those who have grown up within the walls of a Reformed church know well that good works do not save and are nothing to boast about. All glory to God! We hear this truth repeatedly from the pulpit, the catechism classroom and around the supper table. And so it should be. If God compares our good works to something worse than filthy rags, then what folly it is to boast in them.

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The Prodigals

In the second chapter of Hosea we read of Israel’s shocking unfaithfulness in allegory form. Meanwhile in Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable about a son who shockingly leaves his family in disgrace. These initial similarities beckon us to camp out in these passages and discover more.

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Grace on Display

I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know the LORD.

~ Hosea 2:20


Grace is not simply getting what you do not deserve, rather, it is getting the good you do not deserve instead of the bad that you do deserve. It is receiving honour and favour when you deserve shame and disdain. It is receiving freedom and life when you deserve bondage and death. Countless times in the history of God’s people we see this definition of grace being unpacked and put on display. The opening chapters of the prophet Hosea are just one example of this. Continue reading “Grace on Display”

Why Jacob?

In his sovereign freedom, God chose to love Jacob, but not Shechem. But why Jacob?

Malachi, and later the apostle Paul, make it plain that Jacob attained salvation because of the brute fact of God’s absolute grace and free choice to do so (Malachi 1:3 and Romans 9:13). If we take Scripture seriously, we realize God had chosen to love Jacob from before the foundation of the world. From the perspective of eternity, Jacob was chosen by God simply because of God’s sovereign grace. Nothing in Jacob attracted God to him and there was no spark of potential goodness in Jacob waiting to be stoked by the living breath of God. God makes it clear that we are born dead in our sins and our free-wills are locked in rebellion-against-God mode. God does not give us a helping hand or a boost of grace to get us going on the right track. He takes a pile of dry, decaying bones and breathes life and soul into them. Continue reading “Why Jacob?”

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