Thursday, February 14, 2019

Jesus Christ alone is God's Eternal Son

This song is based on the Heidelberg Catechism's explanation of the Biblical teaching of Articles 2b and 3 of the Apostles' Creed. It is is set to an old (14th c.) tune of a Dutch Christmas carol.

"Jesus Christ alone is God's eternal son" by George vP

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Meditation on Psalm 84:7

(As published in Clarion)

From strength to strength

George van Popta

They go from strength to strength—Psalm 84:7

In Psalm 84 the Sons of Korah, the authors and first singers of this Psalm, spoke about making the pilgrimage from some far off place to the temple in Jerusalem. Often it was a difficult journey. They mention, in verse 6, the Valley of Baca.

Baca means “weeping.” The valley of weeping. A Lebanese barber I went to many years ago told me that the Baca Valley is in Lebanon, to the north of Israel and Jerusalem. He was a Lebanese Christian who came from that area. The Baca valley, he said, is a dry valley but when it rains it is covered with puddles and pools of water. He told me that is the imagery used here in verse 6. It is amazing what you can learn from your barber.

Often we are traveling through life, weeping for any number of reasons. You might be crying because of the death of a loved one, due to an illness, or because of pain caused by a chronic condition. But as you travel toward your heavenly Father and your Lord Jesus the place of weeping becomes a place of joy and refreshment.

Let us go to Zion, to Jesus, who will wipe away our tears and refresh us.

Today travel is quite easy. We motor along in our cars and stop at one of the many Tim Hortons or Starbucks along the way. But in the days of this Psalm travel was often difficult. It could be so very hot and there were not many places to rest. And yet they went from strength to strength.

From the late Rev. Van Dooren, my first professor of preaching at CRTS, I learned that the expression “strength to strength” should make us think of oases in the desert. The Children of Israel, wandering in the desert, went from oasis to oasis, and at each one they were strengthened. Instead of getting weaker along the way they grew stronger.

How will you become stronger and stronger as you travel life’s journey? Only by following the Lord Jesus. If you do not follow Jesus you will become weaker and lose your way. But if you follow him you’ll grow stronger and stronger, until you appear before God in Zion.

Believers who die appear before God in Zion. That is where they now are: before God in the heavenly Zion. They went from strength to strength.

Though they may have become mentally and physically weak, yet they went from strength to strength because they always stayed close to Jesus.

Both my mothers became very old. At the time of their death they were like little birdies—weak and frail—but they knew where they were going: to Jesus!

Parents, teach your children about the importance of following the Lord Jesus on their pilgrimage through life.

You who are weeping, follow Jesus and you will travel from strength to strength.

Follow Jesus and you will arrive at the good destination—before God in Zion.

Some things to ponder....
  • Consider Elim, an oasis mentioned in Exodus 15:27. How would it have been a place of refreshment for the Children of Israel?
  • Why was the Psalmist, in Psalm 42:3, weeping?
  • Who will wipe away the tears from your eyes? See Revelation 7:17 and 21:4.

I Believe in Jesus Christ

This hymn is part of the continuing effort to put to song the questions and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism that address the 12 articles of the Apostles Creed.

"I Believe in Jesus Christ" by George vP

The pertinent questions and answers are:

29.   Q. Why is the Son of God called Jesus,
            that is, Saviour?
        A. Because he saves us from all our sins,1
            and because salvation is not to be sought or found
            in anyone else.2
                    1 Mt 1:21; Heb 7:25.
                        2 Is 43:11; Jn 15:4, 5; Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Tim 2:5.

30.   Q. Do those who seek
            their salvation or well-being
            in saints, in themselves, or anywhere else,
            also believe in the only Saviour Jesus?
        A. No.
            Though they boast of him in words,
                 they in fact deny the only Saviour Jesus.1
            For one of two things must be true:
                 either Jesus is not a complete Saviour,
                 or those who by true faith accept this Saviour
                 must find in him all that is necessary
                 for their salvation.2
                  1 1 Cor 1:12, 13; Gal 5:4.
                        2 Col 1:19, 20; 2:10; 1 Jn 1:7.

31.   Q. Why is he called Christ,
            that is, Anointed?
        A. Because he has been ordained by God the Father,
            and anointed with the Holy Spirit,1 to be
            our chief Prophet and Teacher,2
                 who has fully revealed to us
                 the secret counsel and will of God
                 concerning our redemption;3
            our only High Priest,4
                 who by the one sacrifice of his body
                 has redeemed us,5
                 and who continually intercedes for us
                 before the Father;6
            and our eternal King,7
                 who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
                 and who defends and preserves us
                 in the redemption obtained for us.8
                        1 Ps 45:7 (Heb 1:9); Is 61:1 (Lk 4:18); Lk 3:21, 22.
                        2 Deut 18:15 (Acts 3:22).
                        3 Jn 1:18; 15:15.
                        4 Ps 110:4 (Heb 7:17).
                        5 Heb 9:12; 10:11-14.
                        6 Rom 8:34; Heb 9:24; 1 Jn 2:1.
                        7 Zech 9:9 (Mt 21:5); Lk 1:33.
                        8 Mt 28:18-20; Jn 10:28; Rev 12:10, 11.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Meditation on Psalm 84:1

(As published in Clarion)

Dwelling place

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!—Psalm 84:1

Do you think of the dwelling place of God as being lovely? The Sons of Korah, the authors and first singers of this Psalm, thought it was. Their souls longed, even fainted, to be at the dwelling place, the courts of the LORD.

They noticed that the little birds—the sparrow and the swallow—loved to be there too.

In the ancient world birds were not chased out of temples. Birds were allowed to stay, to build nests, lay eggs, and raise their chicks. And to sing!

The singing birds were allowed to be in the temple, near God. The writer of this Psalm knew there was no better place to be.

Can you say that you want to be there where the Lord is?

In Luke 10 we read about Martha and Mary, the two sisters of Bethany. Once when Jesus was visiting them Martha was distracted with meal preparations and serving while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet soaking up his teaching. Martha was annoyed. She thought Mary was the one distracted and ought to focus and help her with the meal preparations. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Only one thing is necessary: to be at Jesus’ feet. That’s the New Testament application of Psalm 84. Longing for the courts of the LORD today is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teaching. Everything might be taken away from you but if you are sitting at Jesus’ feet you have everything you need.

There are some who think they do not need to be in the courts of the LORD. They don’t need to be at Jesus’ feet. Why? Because they need a new heart. They need to be born again. It is a heart problem. The human heart is, by nature, desperately corrupt. By nature the human heart is a heart of stone. We need a heart transplant.

If you are going to have a heart transplant, you need a donor. Is there a donor available? Yes! Jesus! Jesus will give you a new heart. If you believe in Jesus, if you give yourself to him, if you seek him out and sit at his feet, you will be born again and you will get a new heart. And then you will hunger and thirst for the courts of the Lord.

Jesus is the great donor and the great physician. Without him you have nothing, but with him you have everything you need.

Whenever we sing this song I am reminded of my little niece, Ruth. She was severely disabled by several crippling conditions, but Ruth loved to sing about her love for her Lord Jesus. The Lord took her home the night after a school concert at Credo Christian Elementary School in Langley, BC. There she was in the front row, like a little birdie, faintly singing about her love for her Lord. That night the angels carried her soul to her heavenly home, to be with her Lord Jesus ever to sing his praises.

You are sitting at his feet, are you not? Soaking up the good news of salvation through his sacrifice on the cross? There is no place like at the feet of Jesus, listening to him, singing his praises.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Christ Jesus for us Suffered

This Good Friday hymn is based on Lord's Days 15 & 16 (Article 4 of the Apostles' Creed) of the Heidelberg Catechism. It is set to the tune of "O Sacred Head now Wounded" (Passion Chorale).

"He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, he descended into hell."

"Christ Jesus for us Suffered" by George vP