Saturday, January 26, 2019

Home Church Video ~ The Disciples’ Prayer ~ Part 5 ~ “Your Will be Done”

When the average Christian hears Jesus teaching them to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,”[1] they face the greatest battle they will ever experience. It is the battle of the two greatest will in the whole wide world: Fathers, and ours.

More precisely, there is a battle between the will of the divine Father and the will of the sarky child (that would be us).

Now, along with pastoring our home church I also help my wife with our in-home family daycare. I can tell you that I have been part of many skirmishes of the will. From a very young age our precious little ones seek to exert their wills over ours. What begins with waking us up at any time of the night because they only know one thing, what they need, turns into temper tantrums, pouting, crying, the evil eye, because parents or care-givers are not letting them have their way.

Contemporary Christianity, at least of the North American variety, allows for so many options in church experiences that it is easy for anyone to find a church gathering that fits their sarky little wills and lets them do church however it fits whatever else they are doing.

This means that, teaching someone caught up in stereotypical church culture to start praying, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” is likely going to be the most culture violating experience of their lives. It will expose how many things they have buried under layers of superficial activity. It will uncover how much of their activities are just religious behavior on a foundation of sark-dependence.[2] And it will likely produce conflict between their genuine desire to begin seeking Father’s will in everything (as it is done in heaven) and the desires of other church folk who want to maintain a church life in which they can do their own will in how much they appear to do God’s will.

Obviously, since our Father in heaven knows best, the best thing we can do for our lives and churches is not only pray, “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” but devote ourselves to working out our own salvation with fear and trembling because we know our heavenly Father is working in us to both will and to do his good pleasure.[3]

And, also obviously, if what we get in life is what most pleases God our heavenly Father, nothing else could ever be better than that.

Join our home church as we learn to both pray, “Our Father in heaven, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and learn how to join him in the answers to our prayers.


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 6:11 in the context of Matthew 6:9-13 which is Jesus’ teaching his disciples how to pray.
[2] I use “sark”, the transliteration of the Greek word, σαρκ”, which is translated in English Bibles as, “flesh”. It is that part of us that operates independent of God, and, as Paul describes so thoroughly in Romans 7:1-25, it is totally unable to do the good we want to do, and it can’t stop doing the bad we don’t want to do. Thankfully, Romans 8:1-39 presents such a wonderful opportunity to operate in the Holy Spirit that we are able to so, “walk by the Spirit,” that we “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 in the context of Galatians 5:16-26).
[3] Philippians 2:12-13

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Home Church Video ~ The Disciples’ Prayer ~ Part 4 ~ “Your Kingdom Come”

Whoever believes in and trust Jesus receives what is called “the gospel of the kingdom”.[1] Through this gospel we are delivered out of the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s Son in whom there is redemption, the forgiveness of sins.[2] We are told that, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”[3]

In fact, we are even told that God who “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” has “made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father”.[4] This means that we ourselves who have come into this kingdom are this kingdom.

The question is, with all the things we are taught to think and believe about the kingdom of our heavenly Father, what do we mean when we pray, “your kingdom come”?

In this home church video, we attempt to show what we are asking for with this request, and what it would look like for us to join God in his answers. May you be blessed to join us in such prayer, and in making every effort to join God wherever he is working.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14
[2] Colossians 1:13-14
[3] Romans 14:17
[4] Revelation 1:5-6

When the Beatitudes Meet an Angry God

This morning I journeyed through an amazing connection between the Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the despondent picture of sinners in the hands of an angry God.[1] It went well.

Of particular note were the first four Beatitudes, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, and blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. And, with that, how do I see my repeated journey through these qualities of experience in light of God’s justice against sin?

My answer is based on the fact that I am a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ, not a Worldling pursuing everything independent of God.[2] The fact that I have made so many journeys through the Beatitudinal Valley as a beloved child of God means that, when the good-boy part of me discovers he is actually a disgusting sinner after all, I am NOT in the hands of an angry God!!!!

I don’t mean that Worldlings who remain in the world won’t one day find themselves in the hands of a just and wrathful God.

I mean that, everything I have learned about my sinfulness in God’s sight has been AFTER I have already been redeemed out of my darkness and brought into the glorious and safe light of our Lord Jesus Christ.[3] The reason I see my sinfulness is because the light of Jesus Christ that has already brought me into the adoption as a son of God is showing it to me in the safety of God’s grace.

To go through the first four Beatitudes, I did not discover my poverty of spirit in the hands of an angry God. I discovered this reality in the Beatitudinal Valley where I was blessed in the discovery because I was already in the kingdom of God.

I did not find myself mourning my sin because I was suddenly aware of the anger of God against me in the hopeless judgment I deserved. No, I found myself mourning my sin because I was surrounded by the blessings of God urging me to open my heart to his comforts!

I did not feel the meekness that concludes it is impossible to fix anything about me while in a black hole of hopelessness that made me think my life was not worth living. No! I came to this realization when I knew that Jesus was smiling down on me with the love of the Triune who wanted me to see my own inability in the light of both their ability to do all I needed and their overflowing readiness to do so.

And, I did not find myself hungering and thirsting for righteousness I did not have in a desert of despair where there was no hope I would ever be satisfied. It was at the table of delights set before me by the grace of God that I saw everything I did not have as a gift of grace right before my eyes. And, on the table was a promise, that simply through letting myself hunger and thirst for the righteousness set before me in the gospel, I would be satisfied with the very righteousness for which I now longed.

Now here is the horrible thing: there ARE people who will only discover the utter poverty of their spirits at the return of Jesus Christ when they see the wrath of God ready to pour out upon their sins in utterly deserved condemnation.[4]

There ARE people who will face the judgment of God with such horror and weeping and gnashing of teeth that they will feel abject terror and hopelessness as no one on earth has ever felt it before.[5]

There ARE people who will suddenly acknowledge within themselves that there is no possible way they can do anything at all to fix what is messed up and broken about them and they will know the greatest despair the human soul could ever experience.[6]

But here is the facet of this horror that will prove their judgment is just, that even with all the impending wrath of God literally staring them in the face at the return of Jesus Christ, they will NOT have any hunger or thirst to have the righteousness they were missing. Even under the weight of the eternal wrath of God, they will still love the darkness in which they could freely hide their evil deeds.[7]

Looking at this from both sides magnifies the glory of God’s grace in what he has done for a good-boy-sinner like me. Everything I have learned about the awfulness of my sin has been in the safety of a relationship with God as my heavenly Father who delights to love me, and wisely disciplines me into the likeness of his Son.[8]

God’s Book authorizes me to believe this wonderfully impossible thing by telling me such things as this: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[9]

This means that I was a recipient of the love of God while I was still a sinner. This played out in real life when my consciousness of sin was so clearly touching me because I was already made alive in Jesus Christ. It is like someone suddenly discovering the terrible thing they had done by causing a huge traffic accident right when the paramedics efforts at CPR had just brought them back to life!

Even in the darkest moments when I was most aware of what a failure I have been to be the good boy I always wanted to be, it is “BLESSED are the poor in spirit”.

So, this is God’s work, to make me feel blessed when I face the poverty of my spirit because then I know the kingdom of God is mine to enter and enjoy forever.

God makes me feel blessed when I mourn anything that is still sinfully and selfishly wrong with me because it is in the mourning of anything wrong with me that I experience the gracious comforts of God my loving and beloved heavenly Father.

My Father makes me feel blessed in my admission of meekness (I can’t fix me) because at the time that I see I have absolutely NOTHING to offer God he shows me that he has absolutely EVERYTHING to give me as his beloved adopted child.

And, as I am learning more deeply all the time, when I find myself so aware of the latest fault or failing, and see gifts of righteousness that I long to have in my life, I am already blessed by the heart of my Father because he is ready to satisfy me in the morning with his unfailing love as soon as I admit my need for him.[10]

Well, enough said. I hope this encourages you who believe the gospel of the kingdom that you are as beloved in Jesus Christ on the day you must admit your worst sin as the day you have your most wonderful experience of fellowship in the Holy Spirit. Don’t ever resist the Spirit’s work of shining the light of Jesus into your heart where you will need to admit what was hiding in the darkness as you enjoy the fellowship of light that is invading your inner being. The Beatitudes assure us explicitly that everything God does (on both sides of the Beatitudinal Valley) are filled with the blessings of his grace.

For anyone reading this who knows that you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior through the good news of the gospel, be assured of this, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[11] Let today be your day of salvation.[12]

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] The Sermon on the Mount is in Matthew 5-7, and the Beatitudes introduce this sermon in Matthew 5:1-12. The picture of sinners in the hands of God comes from Hebrews 10:31, with the context of Hebrews 10:26-31 showing that there is indeed the angry justice of God awaiting all who spurn his gift of grace in Jesus Christ.
[2] Child of God: John 1:12-13; Worldling: Romans 3:9-20
[3] Colossians 1:13-14
[4] Revelation 6:12-16
[5] This link will let you look at each verse in its context.
[6] Luke 16:19-31
[7] John 3:19 speaks of people’s love of darkness and evil deeds. Without redemption, even the wrath of God pouring upon them will not make sinners love righteousness. Revelation 9:20-21 shows the world facing temporal judgments that brought misery to many survivors, but there was no desire for repentance. Revelation 16:9-11 shows people experiencing the temporal judgments on earth and being so angry at God for messing up their nice little world that they curse him without any repentance for the sin that brought the judgment in the first place. When Jesus returns, the world will hate him for his impending judgment on their sin, but will never repent for anything they did to bring this justice upon them.
[8] Hebrews 12:6 and Revelation 3:19 show that God disciplines those he loves. Many Scriptures affirm what is declared in II Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 8:28-30, that God’s interest is in conforming us to the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
[9] Romans 5:8 (context: Romans 5:1-11)
[10] This beautiful picture of God satisfying us in the morning with his unfailing love comes from Psalm 90:14. It is one of my favorite things to pray in the morning!
[11] Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13
[12] Isaiah 49:8; II Corinthians 6:2

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Gift of Father Knowing What We Need

One of the most amazing differences between talking to each other and praying to our Father in heaven is that our heavenly Father “knows what you need before you ask him.”[1]

Some people take that as an excuse to not pray. They reason that, if Father already knows what they need, why ask him for anything?

What became so clear to me this morning led me in the opposite direction. The fact that my Father knows what I need does not motivate me to be quiet, but to talk to him all the more!

One of my lifelong frustrations is when I want to tell someone something very important to me, but as soon as they think they understand what I’m trying to say they indicate that I can stop talking because they get it. I realize that for them it is only about the information, so once the information has been communicated, there is no need for further conversation about it.

What I see in my heavenly Father is that prayer could never be about communicating information since he already has full knowledge of what I need. In fact, the data he has about what I need would be like a whole library compared to the tiny little prayer I would have used to describe whatever I’m going through.

So, if prayer is not about giving information to our Father so he knows how to help us, prayer MUST be about all about relationship.

In other words, the fact that Father keeps inviting us, and urging us, even pleading with us, to come to him in prayer, is this most amazing gift because he is the one person in our lives who needs ZERO information about what we are going through and yet HE is the one who keeps telling us to tell him what is going on!

What has this done for me this morning?

It has opened my heart to my longings in an extremely encouraging, hopeful, and uplifting way because my Father wants me to talk to him about everything even though he already has all the information. That means that I am the reason he wants me to pray because he wants ME to attach to HIM.

I certainly do not need to pray for Father’s sake, as if it helps him figure out what to do whenever I tell him what’s on my mind.

No, prayer has to be for my sake, not as though life is all about me, but that it is Father’s gift to bless his children with relationship with him. As I treat Father as the supreme Lord who is sovereignly ruling over both the spiritual and material realms, discovering how deeply personal he wants me to be with him is almost too remarkable for words.

And yet it is right there in every exhortation for me to pray. In fact, in contrast to people who would gladly reach the end of a conversation with me because they kinda knew what I was going to say before I started, Father’s own words are, “pray without ceasing”.[2]

The fact that my heavenly Father wants me to pray without ceasing when he already knows everything I need is the most mind-blowing gift of grace I could ever imagine. He wants ME.

And so, the fact that Father knows everything about me means that prayer is his gracious gift to bring me to him and enjoy the delights of knowing him. It still feels almost unthinkable to see things this way, and yet every invitation to prayer in God’s Book says it is so.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 6:8, as Jesus introduces the Disciples’ Prayer of Matthew 6:9-13.
[2] I Thessalonians 5:17

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Pastoral Ponderings ~ Exulting in Father's Excellencies

In my quest to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light,” it is settling into my heart to notice how these excellencies are described in terms of God accomplishing great and wonderful things he had purposed to do.[1]

As I begin my day considering these things afresh, I now notice the vastness of God’s revelation about his excellencies. It is like suddenly noticing a color of thread in a tapestry that has mesmerized me for a long time, and yet that strand had never stood out so clearly as it does today.

And now that this colorful thread stands out, I suddenly see that it is woven through the whole picture from beginning to end. I can’t help feeling excitement and anticipation to follow it through every story and event of history’s tapestry in order to enjoy the reverence and awe that is inescapable in love-relationship with the divine Father.

This focus on the excellencies of God makes so much sense when we consider that he has promised so many things about the future. How would we know to trust him? By proclaiming all the excellencies already fulfilled in real life.

For example, the fact that God has already called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light is a delightful reality when considering that the darkness of our world increases every day. God has promised such a glorious and wonderful home for me that even the sun will no longer be required because God himself will be our light and Jesus Christ will be the lamp that radiates the glory of the Father to us for all of eternity (yes, that is in God’s Book).[2]

One of the golden threads of excellencies that stood out very strongly to me today was the consideration of how God handled Satan’s success at bringing sin and death into the world.[3] If excellencies are supremely wonderful moral qualities that are able to accomplish the purposes of the one who is most excellent, what would God do now that Satan had destroyed the God-likeness of man?

What I mean is that, if God had determined to make a creature in his own image and likeness, and Satan had just succeeded at turning that creature into a sinful being, how is God seen as excellent and worthy of praise?[4] If the serpent had just succeeded and God’s work was thwarted, don’t we have an insurmountable barrier to the praise of God’s excellencies?

Once again, we have this remarkable pattern in God’s Book where he speaks in advance to tell us what he is going to do so there is no doubt what his purpose really is, and then he leads us through history in a detailed progression of his work to fulfill his purpose so we would know that he always does what he says.

So, when we get to this place of proclaiming the excellencies of the one who brought people like me out of darkness and into his marvelous light, we have the most amazing of things. God has obviously done something to fulfill what he set out to do in the creation of man even though the red dragon had obviously done something to destroy God’s work.[5]

What God said he would do to defeat the devil’s work and gain the upper hand was first described like this:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”[6]

When God says, “I will,” he means just that. God already had a plan that would bring about Satan’s defeat through the offspring of the women the serpent had just deceived. Satan would lose his authority to bring death to every sinner, and this loss of authority would come through the suffering of the Son of God on our behalf. It was the one thing that would work, and God already had this victory up his sleeve, so to speak, before he began creation.

The point in this is simple: God would not set out to do something that could be thwarted even by the most evil of angels accomplishing the most evil of deeds. Father set out to have a creature in his own image and likeness, and so it would be.

What does that have to do with an average kind of guy in an ever-darkening world?

Simply this: that I have already experienced the fulfillment of God’s plan to have a creature in his own image and likeness because I have been justified by grace through faith and now stand before my heavenly Father in the gift of righteousness that he himself has given me in his Son.[7] I have already been delivered out of the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God.[8]

What this tells me is that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[9]

God has already proven his excellencies by making people like me into “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”[10] We now trust him completely to finish what he has started.

When God’s Book declares that, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”,[11] it highlights what God promised the serpent. Jesus Christ is the offspring of the woman who has crushed the serpent’s authority through his suffering and death and destroyed the works of the devil in every person who receives Jesus’ gift of grace.[12]

Now that the devil’s work is destroyed in us who believe, God is again proving his excellencies by transforming us into the same image as his Son “from one degree of glory to another,”[13] leading us to that day when Jesus appears and, “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”[14]

What do we do while waiting for that day?

On one side, “everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”[15] And, on the other side, we keep proclaiming the excellencies of our heavenly Father who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light until the day we are taken home to live in the light of the divine presence forever and ever. Amen!

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I Peter 2:9. “Excellencies” refers to both moral excellence and the accomplishment of what this moral excellence desires to do.
[2] Revelation 21:23. This, of course, makes perfect sense since, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5).
[3] You can read about this in Genesis 3.
[4] Philippians 4:8
[5] See John 10:10 for a contrast between Satan’s work and Jesus’ success.
[6] Genesis 3:15
[7] The whole book of Romans explains this in the most excellent of detail!
[8] Colossians 1:13-14
[9] Philippians 1:6
[10] I Peter 2:9
[11] I John 3:8
[12] Knowing God’s promise that the offspring of the woman would destroy the devil’s work makes this Scripture all the more glaring in its brilliance: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
[13] II Corinthians 3:18
[14] I John 3:2
[15] I John 3:3

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Home Church Video ~ Between the Two Comings ~ Part 1 ~ The Coming to Save

On the Sunday before Christmas we began a short look at how the first and second comings of Christ work together to help us live in the here and now.

The first coming gives us an amazing collection of prophecies, events, and fulfillments, that leave us now under the finished redemptive work of Jesus Christ our Lord. What Jesus accomplished in his first coming gives us all we need to presently live for his glory in everything we do.

Join our home church in considering what God did in the first coming of our Savior to deliver us from the domain of darkness, transfer us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, and commission us to go and make disciples of all nations.[1]

While this message was given on the Sunday before Christmas, it is not confined to the Christmas season. It is the message that propels the church into the continuing will of God until Jesus returns. And that is an altogether different story.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Colossians 1:13-14; Matthew 28:18-20