Sydney Communion – Aug/Sept. 2017

At our recent Communion Season, I was privileged to have the help of Rev Jett Smith, the minister of our Auckland congregation. My thanks are due to him for his help and ministry among us.

As usual, the communion season began with a service on Thursday morning. The text was from Exodus 5:2 ‘And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.’ Here we have another king of Egypt, who knew not Joseph, nor regarded the God of Joseph. His ignorance of God was great, yet he was not ashamed to own that. Sadly, many in our day are not ashamed of their ignorance of the God of the Bible. Coupled with his ignorance, was disobedience to the will of God. The Lord’s servants expressed that will to him, yet he would not yield. Lastly, we noted his stubbornness in continuing in sinful rebellion. We could see lessons here for ourselves in this spiritually dark day.

On Thursday evening, the minister preached from Genesis 6:5 on the wickedness that God saw in the days of Noah. His three points were, The Demonstration of Sin, The Depth of Sin and the Dreadfulness of Sin. The question for ourselves being – do we view sin as a dreadful evil? In due time the judgment of God came, and only those in the Ark survived the fearful overthrow, so must we be in Christ, the Saviour of sinners, and such as by faith are found in Him shall be saved.

On Friday evening the subject was that of self-examination. This is of course, a most needful duty for all who prepare to sit at the Lord’s Table. We were led to consider Romans 7 especially verse 16 ‘If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.’ The Apostle Paul found a struggle with sin. The Old Man would not give way with ease. But in all his struggles against sin, Paul was acknowledging that God’s just demands were right and proper – the law was good.

On Saturday morning we considered a ‘Loyal Profession of Love to King David.’ A gentile believer, Ittai the Gittite, made this profession. The text was found in 2 Samuel 15:21. Here we find David fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom. What a dark day! At such a time as this Ittai, a Philistine by birth and nation, was challenged. He had begun to follow David, but would he continue, even when David and his cause seemed low? By the grace of God, this man made confession of David as his king even at this time! He raised a God-honouring witness on the side of the King. So too, the Christian is called to follow his Master. And Jesus would have His people to partake of His Supper.

On the Communion Sabbath morning, Rev Smith encouraged us to consider the suitability of the Great High Priest – the Lord Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 5:5-10 we see, The Appointment of Christ, The Obedience of Christ and the Perfection of Christ. The One appointed, did the work. He cried from the Cross –“It is finished.” One word in the Greek – Finished! Following the Fencing of the Lord’s Table, where more particular guidance was given as to the marks of those who should come to the Lord’s Table, as well as those who ought not, the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was again held in our congregation. A witness was again raised on the side of Christ in Riverstone, NSW.

In the evening we looked at the very wonderful case of the healing of the noblemen’s son – John 4:46-54. Here was a particular and pressing request made by the nobleman to Jesus. His son was at the point of death – would Jesus come down and heal him? The Saviour responded with a general caution, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” How many are indeed looking for some remarkable religious experience of this sort or that, but neglecting the simple words of Christ? This man did believe the word of Jesus, and as he returned so believing, he was met with the wonderful news – “Thy son liveth.” His son was whole again. Best of all – ‘Himself believed, and his whole house.’ As an old missionary on Skye is reported as having said – “Faith is the emptiness of the soul coming to the fullness of Christ.” As with the nobleman – it shall not be disappointed!

On Monday a service of thanksgiving was held. We had much to be thankful for, given the Lord’s kindness in giving us His Word and Sacrament. Rev Smith preached from the encouraging words in Isaiah 60:22 ‘A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.’ This is one of the texts of Scripture that point to days of gospel blessing yet to be seen on the earth. The cause of God may go very low, as it did in Noah’s day, but He is able to revive His own work and grant great increase. May we never limit the Lord.

So, we had an encouraging and spiritually profitable communion. Such a time upon the earth is a precious foretaste of heaven to the Lord’s people. ‘And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.’ (Isaiah 35:10)

G B Macdonald

www.sydneyfpchurch.org.au

 

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The Departing Saint’s Confession

I read recently read this piece from C H Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening and found it a comforting truth from Psalm 31:5 and meditation thereon by the writer.

G B Macdonald

www.sydneyfpchurch.org.au

Evening, August 27

“Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”

—Psalm 31:5

These words have been frequently used by holy men in their hour of departure. We may profitably consider them this evening. The object of the faithful man’s solicitude in life and death is not his body or his estate, but his spirit; this is his choice treasure—if this be safe, all is well. What is this mortal state compared with the soul? The believer commits his soul to the hand of his God; it came from him, it is his own, he has aforetime sustained it, he is able to keep it, and it is most fit that he should receive it. All things are safe in Jehovah’s hands; what we entrust to the Lord will be secure, both now and in that day of days towards which we are hastening. It is peaceful living, and glorious dying, to repose in the care of heaven. At all times we should commit our all to Jesus’ faithful hand; then, though life may hang on a thread, and adversities may multiply as the sands of the sea, our soul shall dwell at ease, and delight itself in quiet resting places.

Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Redemption is a solid basis for confidence. David had not known Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him; and shall not eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong pleas for present assistance. What the Lord has done he will do again, for he changes not. He is faithful to his promises, and gracious to his saints; he will not turn away from his people.

“Though thou slay me I will trust,

Praise thee even from the dust,

Prove, and tell it as I prove,

Thine unutterable love.

Thou mayst chasten and correct,

But thou never canst neglect;

Since the ransom price is paid,

On thy love my hope is stay’d.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). Morning and evening: Daily readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster.

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Joseph and the Chief Butler

In Genesis 40:23 we read the words, ‘Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.’

The context informs us that Joseph and the butler had a remarkable relationship. They had met in a prison in Egypt, where Joseph was, as one falsely accused, and where the chief butler was, as one who had displeased Pharaoh. Joseph had shown tenderness and compassion to the butler in his sad state. In the providence of God, the butler had dreamed a dream which Joseph, as guided by God, truthfully interpreted. The butler was duly restored, whilst his fellow, the baker, was executed.

How very surprising then to read that this man forgot the person who had so accurately foretold what did indeed take place! ‘Yet’ – our attention is drawn to the wonder that such a one should forget Joseph – yet he did. Perhaps he was filled with the busyness of his restored position, or had some fear of Pharaoh, who can tell? What is sure is Joseph continued to languish in prison, whilst the butler walked at liberty.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry writes, ‘See here an instance of base ingratitude; Joseph had deserved well at his hands, had ministered to him, sympathized with him, helped him to a favourable interpretation of his dream, had recommended himself to him as an extraordinary person upon all accounts; and yet he forgot him.’ He goes on to write,’We must not think it strange if in this world we have hatred shown us for our love, and slights for our respects.’

In the providence of God, Joseph was be released at the time when he would be exalted to great usefulness and to high honour. When that time came, the butler said, ‘I do remember my faults this day…’

But whatever we might think of the ingratitude of the chief butler, how is it with us who have the hope that we have been saved by Jesus Christ? Matthew Henry comments, ‘Joseph had but foretold the chief butler’s enlargement, but Christ wrought out ours…yet we forget him, though often reminded of him…’

If we have been forgetful of the Lord Jesus Christ today, let us remember Him, and give thanks for all that He has done. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

G B Macdonald

sydneyfpchurch.org.au

 

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The Gospel to the Poor and Needy

One of the many well known sayings of the Lord Jesus Christ is found in Matthew 11:28-30.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

In these words, we have an example of the gospel to the poor and needy which was proclaimed by Christ. Earlier in chapter 11 of Matthew, we are told that Jesus listed His preaching of the gospel to the poor as an evidence of His being the Messiah. John the Baptist was to be told, among other wonderful signs that Jesus was the Christ, this was true, “to the poor the gospel is preached.” (Matt. 11:5)

The words of Jesus noted above, have been a source of encouragement and blessing to many poor sin-burdened ones down through the years. Little wonder, when they are the words of the Saviour of sinners.

Are we such as are toiling under the burden of the guilt of sin? Are we labouring after spiritual rest, but as yet have found none? Then, let us heed the words of Jesus, ” Come unto me…” What are we assured we shall find if we do come by faith to Christ? “ye shall find rest unto your souls…”

In commenting on this passage of God’s word, Matthew Henry writes, ‘…this is the sum and substance of the gospel call and offer…’

We are not to go elsewhere, we are to come to Christ. In Him we shall find rest for our weary souls, a rest, that is rest indeed, for as He says elsewhere, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

G B Macdonald

www.sydneyfpchurch.org.au

 

 

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John Flavel on the Seaman’s Preservative

In a sermon entitled, ‘The Seaman’s Preservative in Foreign Countries’, John Flavel notes that Psalm 139 touches on the omnipresence and omniscience of God. God is everywhere present, and He has complete knowledge of all things. He shows in this sermon that sin can never be secret, as no sinner can hide from the eye of God. Such a consideration should have a restraining influence upon us day by day.

Flavel writes:

‘The scripture speaks full home to this truth. Prov. v. 21. “The ways of a man are before the LORD, and he pondereth all his paths.” To ponder or weigh our paths is more than simply to observe and see them. He not only sees the action, but puts it into the balances, with every circumstance belonging to it, and tries how much every ingredient in the action weighs, and what it comes to. So that God hath not only an universal inspection upon every action, but he hath a critical inspection into it also, “The LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed,” 1 Sam. ii. 3.’ (Flavel, vol. 5 p. 374 Banner of Truth Trust 1968 – italics in quotation).

Doubtless, Flavel had the seamen of his own day especially in mind in this sermon. They would sail far from home at times, but were never beyond the sight of God. So we should all reflect on this and pray:

Look on me, Lord, and merciful / do thou unto me prove, / As thou art wont to do to those / thy name who truly love. (Psalm 119:132 metrical)

G B Macdonald

www.sydneyfpchurch.org.au

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A Plea for Acceptance with God in Prayer

In Psalm 84:8-9 the psalmist writes, ‘O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.’

It was not a matter of indifference with the psalmist as to whether the LORD would hear his prayer or not. He was in earnest that the LORD should hear his prayer. He addressed himself to the God of Jacob, and thus could have the hope that God would hear his prayer, as He did that of Jacob of old. For example, when Jacob sought the LORD in anticipation of a meeting with Esau, whom he feared, the Most High heard his prayer. The wrath of Esau was restrained and Jacob and his household were not harmed. We should take encouragement from the revelation we have in the Bible of the God who hears the prayers of His people.

In order to further encourage God’s people to call upon Him, they can take up the petition of the psalmist in verse 9, ‘Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.’ The Hebrew word here translated ‘thine anointed’ can also be translated ‘Messiah’. Here is a strong plea for the believer in all of his or her approaches to God. When we plead for the sake of Jesus Christ, we are coming to God through the Messiah He has appointed. Matthew Henry notes, ‘In all our addresses to God we must desire that he would look upon the face of Christ, accept us for His sake, and be well-pleased with us in Him.’ (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible).

G B Macdonald

www.sydneyfpchurch.org.au

 

 

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A Prayer for Revival

In Habakkuk 3:2 we have a prayer for revival breathed out by the LORD’s prophet. The prophets of God under the Old Testament were praying men. We see this in the case of a man like Elijah, who prayed earnestly that in might rain in time of famine, and persisted in so doing until he had the assurance that it would. We find that the LORD answered him by a great rain falling to break the drought (1 Kings 18:41-46).

Evidently, Habakkuk was also a man of prayer. In chapter 3:2 of the book that bears his name we have these words of his prayer recorded:

“O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”

There are two parts to this prayer. Firstly, his prayerful concern and secondly, his prayerful petition.

The prophet acknowledged before God his concern at the sins of the people and the judgments threatened against them as a result. In chapter 1 of Habakkuk the LORD speaks of sending against the covenant people the Chaldeans, a ‘bitter and hasty nation.’ The prophet is burdened by this. He knows the LORD is righteous. He knows the people have sinned and that they merit the wrath of God. So too, we should be burdened by the sins of our day and generation. We should remember how God has judged others for the same sins. This is told us in Scripture. We too should appreciate that if the LORD should mark iniquity in our day, who should stand?

Following on from a due consideration of the message which God had revealed to him, the prophet makes a prayerful petition. He requests that the LORD might be pleased to revive His work. Some have translated the word revive, ‘preserve alive.’ In our own day of spiritual darkness and declension we too should follow the example of the prophet Habakkuk. His earnest plea should be ours too, “in wrath remember mercy.” We should remember that the LORD’s cause is His work. The spread of sound doctrine is His work. The blessing of the gospel is His work. He has revived it in the past and he can revive it in the present.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. That event was a great reviving of the LORD’s work and resulted in a fruitful time of much gospel blessing. In this year then, when the precious gospel truths rediscovered at the Reformation are again in many places lost sight off, let us pray:

O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”

G B Macdonald

www.sydneyfpchurch.org.au

 

 

 

 

 

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