Lord Prayer

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He Seemed But a Little Boy

It was only a year before that Archibald Alexander had been taken under care of the Presbytery of Lexington, Virginia.  He was young and extremely small in stature.  In our day, such a move of spiritual oversight is usually granted by a Presbytery after it has heard your personal testimony, what God has done for you in Christ in your spiritual life, and an expression of your call to the ministry.  In the eighteenth century however, it included all  that, no doubt, and also a sermon preached over the presbytery.

On that occasion in 1890, the month of October, Archibald Alexander stood before the esteemed member of this presbytery.  The fact that a candidate before him had utterly failed to utter anything approaching a sermon, much less give any orderly address, didn’t seem to faze him.  He stood up, without any idea of what he was going to say, and delivered an exhortation which astonished everyone present.    In fact, after that occasion, he delivered “exhortation” after “exhortation” several times a week.

In the spring of 1791, Alexander was examined by the Presbytery of Lexington in his Latin and Greek knowledge.  He had prepared an exegesis upon an assigned topic, and read it to the brethren.  He delivered a speech to the Presbytery as well.  It was then moved that he be assigned a text to preach at the next meeting of the Lexington Presbytery.

At that time, on September 20, 1791, the time had arrived for his proclamation before his elders, both in age and office, on the assigned theme, which was Jeremiah 1:7, “Say not, I am a child.”   And indeed, he seemed but a little boy, but the effect of his trial sermon, quickly put that to rest.  There was authority in the proclamation of the Word of God.  It was no wonder then that at the next presbytery meeting in Winchester, he was licensed to preach the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Words to live by:  If you have an opportunity, attend a Presbytery meeting as a visitor soon, especially one in which a candidate is brought under care, or licensed for the gospel ministry, or ordained by one of our conservative presbyteries.  You will see the care which the church gives to its candidates, that they be sound in doctrine, proficient in the Westminster Standards, and practical in their understanding of their calling.  It will be a day well spent.

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From Trash to Treasure.

Presbyterian pastors love to rumage through old books. Browsing through a used bookstore in Houston, Texas, in 1902, the Rev. Samuel Mills Tenney noticed a bound stack of papers set aside in a corner of the store. His curiosity piqued, he asked the store owner and found that the papers were going to be thrown out. Glad to be relieved of what he considered trash, the owner gave the pile of papers to Rev. Tenney, who then carried his prize home for closer inspection.

Back in his study, Rev. Tenney dusted off the papers and began to examine them closer. To his great surprise, he found these were class notes and other papers from around 1845 which had once belonged to Robert Lewis Dabney, from when Dabney was a student in Seminary. Dabney, as most know, went on to become one of the leading theologians of the old Southern Presbyterian Church. “Is this the way our Church treats her great men?,” Tenney asked himself.

This “chance” discovery became the inspiration that led Rev. Tenney to a lifelong obsession to preserve the history of his denomination. His 1902 discovery then led to his founding the Presbyterian Historical Society of the Synod of Texas, which later came to be located in Texarkana. Working without other support, Tenney spent the next twenty-five years gathering an impressive collection of records and memorabilia.

Then in 1926, when the 66th General Assembly of the PCUS met in Pensacola, Florida, that Assembly voted to establish a denominational archives, utilizing Rev. Tenney’s collection as the core of their new archives. The next year, the archives was given its official name, operating as the Historical Foundation of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches. Relocation of the archival collections from Texarkana to denominational property in Montreat, North Carolina followed shortly thereafter.

Rev. Tenney continued as director of the Historical Foundation until his death on December 23, 1939.

When the PCUS merged with the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. in 1983, the merged denomination now had two archives, the other being the Presbyterian Historical Society, located in Philadelphia. Both institutions continued on, operated by the Presbyterian Church (USA), until early in 21st century, when the decision was made to close the Montreat location. So ended a great cultural institution. The major collections of the old Historical Foundation were relocated to Philadelphia, while arrangements were made to house the congregational history collections at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia.

When the Presbyterian Church in America was founded in 1973, there were subsequent discussions about housing our denominational records and archival collections at Montreat, under a cooperative agreement. Thankfully that arrangement was never realized. Instead, in 1984, Dr. Morton Smith, then Stated Clerk of the PCA, stood before the Twelfth General Assembly and made his case for a PCA Archives. The Assembly approved his motion. This was at a point when the PCA still did not have central denominational offices for its agencies, and so Dr. Will Barker, then president of Covenant Theological Seminary, offered free space for the Archives in the Seminary’s library. We’ve been there ever since, though we’re rapidly outgrowing our current facility.

Words to Live By:
There are a number of reasons why a denomination needs to maintain its own archive. But far and away, the most important is that these records stand as a testimony to what the Lord has done in our midst. I like to think of the Historical Center as a “Hall of Testimonies,”— witnesses to the reality of the Gospel and the fact that Jesus Christ changes lives.

He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered.” — (Psalm 111:4a, KJV)

“One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” — (Psalm 145:4, KJV)

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This Day in Presbyterian History

A Potential Schism Halted by a Compromise

Initially there was no real problem with the written standards for the Presbyterian Church in America. Ministerial students were simply tested for their learning and soundness in the faith.  But a controversy in the mother country soon changed this.  So the question arose, should teaching and ruling elders be required to subscribe to the subordinate standards of the Westminster Assembly in their entirety, or just for their essential truths?  The fact that so many officers were still in the process of emigrating to the colonies made this a relevant question for the infant church to resolve.

Conscious of the potential for schism, on September 17, 1729, Jonathan Dickinson became the main proponent against the total subscriptionist party in the church.  His argument was simple.  He believed the Bible was the sufficient rule for faith and life.  Subscription must be adhered to it and to it alone, not to some man-made summary of it, as good as it might be.

The total subscriptionist side also believed the Bible was all-sufficient for doctrine and life, but were equally convinced that the Westminster standards of confession and catechisms offer an adequate summary of the Old and New Testaments.  To receive it and adopt it in its entirely would stop any heresies which may invade the church from either within or without the church.

At the synod in 1729, Dickinson and his followers won the day with what has become known at the Adopting Act of 1729.  The document stated that on the one hand, there was a clear requirement to receive and adopt the Westminster Standards.  However, if an elder, whether teaching or ruling elder, had an exception to those standards, he was to make known to the church or presbytery his exception.  The latter body would then judge whether the exception dealt with essential and necessary articles of doctrine, worship, or government. If it did not, then he could be ordained without official censure or social ostracism.

The entire body of elders gathered at the Philadelphia Synod gave thanks to God in solemn praise and prayer that the resolution of this potential schism had been averted and unity was maintained in the infant Presbyterian church.

Words to live by:  It is always good that disunity should be avoided and unity be maintained.  But at what cost, is the question?   The compromise here looked good on the surface.  But presbyteries and synods and assemblies are made up of fallible men who can, sadly, declare that the basic truths of the Christian religion are not necessary to be held, as is the case now with several liberal Presbyterian bodies.   Obviously, much prayer must be made for those who instruct and rule over us, that God’s Spirit will keep the visible church pure in both faith and life. The true key to doctrinal unity springs from a daily awareness of our own sinfulness, from hearts broken before the Lord in godly humility, Seeking the forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone.

See also, The Meaning of Subscrption, by Rev. Benjamin McKee Gemmill.

Through the Scriptures: Ezekiel 22 – 24

Through the Standards:  The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, according to the Shorter Catechism

WSC 105  “What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A.  In the fifth petition, (which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,) we pray, That God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History

Amazed by What he Accomplished in Life

The seals and the whales in Alaska were disappearing fast for the native people up in Alaska.  So the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, a Presbyterian missionary, travelled to Siberia to purchase reindeer to be introduced in Alaska for food, clothing, and transportation.  He would eventually bring over 1300 of them, and train the natives how to care for them.

Sheldon Jackson was born in 1834 in Minaville, New York. He graduated from Union College (1855) and Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1858. The following year he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.

After marriage of Mary Voohees in 1858, they applied to the Presbyterian Foreign Mission board for passage in Siam or Columbia, but we turned down—get this!—for “lacking in physique.”  Jackson was only five feet tall.

So Rev. Jackson and his wife began their ministry, teaching in a Choctaw Indian boarding school in what was later Oklahoma, beginning on September 16, 1858.  He spent only one year there, contracting malaria, which greatly weakened his health.  But he was not done serving his Lord.

Until 1877, he ministered in  ten states and territories of the West.  How was this possible?  He simply followed the westward extension of the railroad, coming to a make shift town, visiting every house witnessing of Christ, seeing converts, organizing them into small missions and churches, and move on to the next railroad town.   He organized over 100 missions and churches, including several educational institutions, in this way.

But it was in Alaska that his greatest work for Christ took place, especially among the native Alaskans.  The Lord opened up this territory in a unique way.  A close friend of President Benjamin Harrison, Jackson was appointed the First General Agent of Education in Alaska, and told to educate the native tribes of the territory.  He followed the practice of using contracts to accomplish it, only his contracts were with religious denominations.  In all, he divided up the vast area and  invited in the Baptists, Anglicans of Canada, Methodists, Moravians, Congregationalists, Quakers, Lutherans, Covenant, Roman Catholics, Russian Orthodox, to join the Presbyterians already starting schools in the territory.  It worked admirably until 1893 when Congress began to get uneasy about subsidizing religious bodies  for their work of education!

He also laid the groundwork for the territory to be recognized at a state later on in history.  His critics were amazed at what he had accomplished, and among those accomplishments, of traveling over one million miles for the Lord.  He passed away in 1909, but not before being elected as Moderator of the General Assembly in 1897.  With all his official governmental service, he was still the evangelist, having preached over 3000 sermons on missions.

Words to live by: There is a monument on a bluff in Sioux City, Iowa, which was erected by the Presbytery of Iowa in 1913.  It commemorates the prayer meeting which the Rev. Sheldon Jackson held with two other home missionaries. They looked out to the unchurched west, and went out to win those western areas for Christ.  It is this writer’s conviction that the church today needs to look around, see their spiritually lost cities, towns, and neighborhoods, and go out with a renewed zeal to take the gospel message to them. Only such a conviction as that, will result in another spiritual awakening so desperately needed for our land.  Will you be one of the ones who will pray for this?  And go too?

Through the ScripturesEzekiel 19 – 21

Through the Standards:  The fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, according to the Larger Catechism

WLC 194 — “What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A.  In the fifth petition, (which is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,) acknowledging, that we and all others are guilty both of original and actual sin, and thereby become debtors to the justice of God; and that neither we, nor any other creature, can make the least satisfaction for that debt: we pray for ourselves and others, that God of his free grace would, through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, apprehended and applied by faith, acquit us both from the guilt and punishment of sin, accept us in his Beloved; continue his favor and grace to us, pardon our daily failings, and fill us with peace and joy, in giving us daily more and more assurance of forgiveness; which we are the rather emboldened to ask, and encouraged to expect, when we have this testimony in ourselves, that we from the heart forgive others their offenses.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Practice of Repentance

With little action by Presbyterians in America on this day, we turn on this day, September 15,  to Shorter Catechism No. 87 which asks and answers “What is repentance unto life?  A.  Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.”

The last catechism we considered, which was on September 4, and dealt with the definition of saving grace, and this one on repentance, are linked in that they are twin graces.  Faith must precede repentance however in the order of nature. The writer to the book of Hebrews said in chapter 11:6 that “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (ESV) Saving faith comes first, but repentance unto life is so closely connected with it in the sinner’s experience, that we may not be able to separate them in a concise way.

Repentance is unto life. The Messianic Jews in Acts 11:18 rejoiced that as a result of Peter’s ministry to the Gentiles, “God had granted repentance that leads to life.” (ESV)  Further it is “a saving grace,” in that it is the free gift of God. The previous text in Acts 11 speaks of “God granting repentance.”  He is the author of repentance.

Repentance comes first from the knowledge of sin and in particular his sin.   It is “out of a true sense of his sin” that repentance comes. A true repentant, under the enlightening of the Holy Spirit, views sin, and his sin, not only dangerous to his soul, but also odious because it is contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God.  Further, repentance  is followed by “an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ.” Because of who Christ is, and what He accomplished in our redemption, we as sinners can have the mercy of God upon us.

The two ingredients of repentance include first “a grief and hatred of sin,” and our sin in particular. The godly sorrow of the penitent is for his sin committed against God, as rebellion against his rightful authority, as a violation of His holy law, and certainly as an ungrateful return for all His goodness. It includes a hatred of sin. The Psalmist David stated in Psalm 119:128 that he hated “every false way.”  As a result of this, the repentant person “returns from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.”  True repentance results in actions which are now pleasing to God.

Words to live by:  Repentance includes small sins and great sins. It includes general sins and particular sins.  We need to include confession of sins in every prayer we pray to the heavenly Father. Confession attests the sincerity of repentance. There must be a complete change of mind and manner of life in biblical repentance.

Through the Scriptures: Ezekiel 15 – 18

Through the Standards:  The fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, according to the Shorter Catechism.

WSC 104 — “What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A.  In the fourth petition, (which is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,) we pray, that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

Most of us in worship and hymn-sings have sung this stirring song to take our stand for our Lord and Savior.  But how many of you know the background to the popular hymn?

Upon his birth on September 12, 1818, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, George Duffield inherited a rich spiritual heritage. Both his grandfather and father were Presbyterian ministers.  It is no wonder then that after graduating from Yale in 1837 and Union Theological Seminary in 1840, he too became a Presbyterian minister.  For the remainder of his life, he served as pastor for eight Presbyterian churches, from 1847 until his death in 1888.  But  it was during his ministry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1852 and 1861, that he wrote this hymn which we remember to this day.

The Rev. Dudley Tyng was a close friend of his, who served as rector of the Epiphany Church in Philadelphia.  Rev. Tyng took a strong position against slavery in his preaching, and regularly preached abolitionist messages from the pulpit.  There was only one problem with his preaching in this particular church. Many of the leading families of the church were slave owners.  Eventually, they forced  his resignation from the church.

Rev. Tyng went on preaching at Jayne Hall before the Young Men’s Christian Association in Philadelphia, before very small crowds at first, but eventually larger and larger crowds. Soon the numbers typically reached five thousand men, often with as many as a thousand men coming to sign pledges that they had been converted to Christ.

During a break in that preaching series, Rev. Ting went to his farm for further study.  Taking a break during  his studies, he went out to the barn to check on a mule harnessed to a corn shucking machine, but somehow his sleeve was caught in the machine.  His arm was mangled in the process and a few days later, he died.  His last words were spoken to our subject of this devotional, the Rev. George Duffield, who asked him if he had any final words to say.  He replied, “Tell them to stand up for Jesus.”

The following Sunday, Pastor Duffield preached before his Presbyterian congregation on Ephesians 6:13, which reads, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (KJV)  For the application of his message, he then read a poem which he had composed that week, entitled “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.”  Music was added later, and Christians the world over have been challenged through the years with this message to stand up for Jesus.

Words to live by: In addition to the four stanzas which we regularly sing, Pastor Duffield had added two others stanzas.  Stanza 2 originally read,

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword  hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles; and put the foe to rout.” 

Stanza 5 originally read,

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his power,
Close up the broken columns, and shout through all the host.
Make good the loss so  heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you, that death itself is gain.” 

We can see why this hymn was a favorite in both North and South during the Civil War.  But it has endured the test of time to remind us all in Christ that we are in a spiritual battle, and need to take our stand for Christ.  Are you standing for Jesus?

Through the Scriptures:   Ezekiel 4 – 7

Through the Standards: The third petition of the Lord’s Prayer, according to the Larger Catechism

WLC 192 — “What do we pray for in the third petition?
A.  In the third petition, (which is, Thy will be done in earth as it is in  heaven,) acknowledging, that by nature we and all men are not only utterly unable and unwilling to know and do the will of God, but prone to rebel against his word, to repine and murmur against his providence, and wholly inclined to do the will of the flesh, and of the devil: we pray, that God would by his Spirit take away from ourselves and others all blindness, weakness, indisposedness, and perverseness of heart; and by his grace make us able and willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all  things, with the like humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy, as the angels do in heaven.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Whole Earth Trembled When he Walked

Our title was the conclusion of an individual regarding Brig. General Andrew Lewis upon seeing him.  Fully six feet tall, there was a ruggedness about him that arrested every man’s opinion.  He was just the person needed to settle accounts with those native Americans who were troubling the Scot-Irish settlers in Virginia, and making it hard to not just live in this new land on their farms, but also worship the God of their fathers in colonial America.

Andrew Lewis was born in Ireland in 1720.  When he was eleven years of age, his parents, John and Margaret Lewis, came  first to  Cumberland County in Pennsylvania, and then south into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  They were the first settlers in Augusta County, Virginia, and Presbyterian to the core.  Andrew grew up on the farm and somewhere in the 1740’s married Elizabeth, from which seven children were born over the years.  He was involved in the defense of the homeland in that he was an officer of the Augusta militia.

When the French and Indian war came, he became a captain in Col. George Washington’s regiment.  Wounded at Fort Necessity south of present day Pittsburgh  when it surrendered with Col Washington as commanding officer, he continued on after being exchanged.  Promoted to Major, he oversaw the frontier fortifications along the river of Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Against Fort Duquesne, he was captured again, and sent as a prisoner of war to Quebec, where he was not released until 1759, when he went home to Virginia.

The rising threat of war with Great Britain brought him into a position of importance again.  Assigned by the Continental Congress to protect Virginia, he was raised in rank to Brig. General.   These colonial warriors fought on two fronts.  Not only did they fight the British on the coast of Virginia, but they also fought the Indians on the west of Virginia.

In the fall of 1774, General Andrew Lewis raised the largest number of men — over one thousand militia — ever raised up to that time in American history.  Their purpose was to once and forever stop the Indian raids against American settlers during this vital period of history.   It would be no easy task.  Starting on September 11, 1774, this collection of regiments from Virginia began a forced march of over one hundred miles to the Ohio River.  In what has been billed the first battle in the American War for Independence, the great majority of troops under General Lewis were Presbyterians from congregations of the Presbytery of Hanover.  It was like the church militant going out to do battle.

The results of this battle will be told in a future devotional on October 11.  But for now, it is clear that only a fearless leader like Andrew Lewis could lead such a mighty force into the wilderness to give liberty and freedom once and for all time for the Presbyterian pastors and people of Virginia.

Words to live by:  Colonial America was very much of a trowel and sword project.  One the one hand, it was necessary to build up the land.  On the other hand, it became necessary to defend what you had started to build.  Some settlers had found it too difficult to build and fight at the same time, so they were leaving to find fertile ground closer to Philadelphia.  Pastors like Samuel Davies were calling upon them to rise up and fight the good fight of faith.  Sword and trowel; trowel and sword — both were needed in the present battle.  And Andrew Lewis was God’s man for both of these endeavors.  God continues to need leaders who will stand in the gap.  Will you offer yourself as one?

Through the Scriptures:  Ezekiel 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Shorter Catechism

WSC 102 — “What do we pray for in the second petition?
A.  In the second petition, (which is, Thy kingdom come,) we pray, That Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be  hastened.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Faith Wholly and Only in Christ

With nothing of great significance in historic Presbyterianism on this  date of September 8, we return to the heart of evangelical and Reformed religion, that is, “What is faith in Jesus Christ?”  That question and answer is number 85 in our Westminster Shorter Catechism.  It answers “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as  he is offered to us in the gospel.”

The Confession, first of all, clearly tell us by the change of topics from that which has gone before, that we are in a new section of the subordinate standards.  Being convicted by the law of God and shown to be sinners, facing nothing but the wrath and curse of God for that sin, and those sins, we now see what God requires of us, namely, faith in Jesus Christ. This is the path unto salvation, indeed, this is salvation itself. Here is eternal life for all those who rely upon  Jesus Christ for eternal life.

We are told first that it is “a saving grace.”  Not only is it a divine disposition of undeserved favor towards us, it is a divine gift in us, an inclination in our soul by the Holy Spirit working in us. In every sect and cult which has ever been in existence, there is the fundamental idea that human beings earn salvation, rather than simply receiving the free favor of God for that salvation.  Eternal life is never deserved or earned, according to the Scriptures.  This is a saving grace.

This faith in Jesus Christ speaks of receiving and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation.  Both of these verbs are the acts of faith in Christ Jesus.  We first of all “receive” Jesus Christ.  John 1:12 speaks of “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name.” (NASB)     We must receive Christ.  Then we speak of “resting” upon Him alone for salvation.  It is faith alone which is the key phrase in the Scriptures, to say nothing of the Protestant Reformation.  It is faith plus nothing.  If even a scintillate of works, righteous works are found in the formula, than we are left with the terrible idea that Christ did not finish the work of redemption during His perfect life and sacrificial death on the cross.  Paul says it all when in Galatians 2:21, he writes, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (NASB)  It is as we renounce our own righteousness, and so laying hold on Christ, relying upon him, putting all confidence in Him, and in Him alone, for eternal life.

How do we receive and rest upon Christ?  Is is only “as he is offered to us in the gospel.” He is the Sin-bearer, Substitute, fully satisfying God’s justice against sin, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and the Savior of mankind.  This is the one in Whom we can trust for our salvation.

Words to live by:  Think of all things which Christ means to you for a moment.  What came to your mind and heart when He first revealed Himself to you?  What answers did He give to your questions at that time?  What solace did He offer to your troubled heart then?  Think about how He was offered in the gospel to you in time past.  Then rejoice anew in the gospel message which you received and rested upon at that time, or even period of life.  And memorize this catechism answer, for it can be a powerful reminder of the salvation which you experienced when you possessed faith in Jesus Christ.

Through the Scriptures:  2 Chronicles 26 – 29

Through the Standards: The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, in the Larger Catechism

WLC 190 — “What do we pray for in the first petition?
A.  In the first petition, (which is, Hallowed be thy name,) acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honor God aright, we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him, his titles, attributes, ordinances, word, works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself known by; and to glorify him in thought, word, and deed: that he would prevent and remove atheism, ignorance, idolatry, profaneness, and whatsoever is dishonorable to him; and, by his over-ruling providence, direct and dispose of all things to his own glory.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History

More Alive than I have ever Been Before

The veteran preacher was speaking about his translation to heaven from the pulpit one Sunday morning.  As he spoke of his pine box being brought in at his funeral, Dr. D. James Kennedy warned against any weeping at the sight.  Instead, he said “I want you to begin with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead.  I will be more alive than I have ever been in my life.  I will be alive forever, in greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.”

The above quotation was on his funeral bulletin after his death at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on September 5, 2007. He had returned from the medical facility just ten days before, after being stricken with a heart attack the previous year. His last sermon had been preached on December 24, 2006, with his retirement from the pulpit of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church for the last  forty-seven years.

Much has been written on the man and his ministry.  His twin themes of the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate characterized his messages and ministry in Fort Lauderdale, the state of Florida, the nation, and the world.  Certainly, the lay-witnessing methodology for sharing the gospel impacted countless Christians, including this writer in his pastorate of forty years.  Taking every thought captive to the Lord Jesus and reclaiming the culture of our once blessed nation and people, enabled the cultural mandate to become practice instead of mere theory.   For all this, we can thank the Triune God for D. James Kennedy.  No wonder can the funeral hymns be started with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah Chorus.  The sovereign God deserves all the praise for the spiritual gifts He had given to His servant, Dr. Kennedy.

Words to live by:  Jesus once said that we were to pray that laborers be literally thrust out into the harvest, for it was ready to be gathered.   When is the next D. James Kennedy to be raised up for the ripe harvest?  Indeed, where is the next generation of pastors and teachers, missionaries, evangelists, helpers, administrators, and you can add all the spiritual gifts here, going to step forward and be counted for labors in the kingdom of grace?  The harvest is there.  The church is there.  The culture is there.  Where are the laborers?  Pray for a mighty calling today for service in our day.

Through the Scriptures:  2 Chronicles 17 – 19

Through the Standards:  A Pattern for prayer  

WLC 187 “How is the Lord’s Prayer to be used?
A.  The Lord’s prayer is not only for direction, as a pattern, according to which we are to make other prayers; but may also be used as a prayer, so that it be done with understanding, faith, reverence, and other graces necessary to the right performance of the duty of prayer.”

WLC 188 “Of how many parts does the Lord’s Prayer consist?
A.  The Lord’s prayer consists of three parts: a preface, petitions, and a conclusion.”

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