Five Points Blog

Bind the Festal Sacrifice to the Horns!

When Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a young, un-ridden colt, he was consciously fulfilling Psalm 118:25-27, “Save us, we pray, O LORD!

    O LORD, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
    We bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!”

The crowd, though unaware, fulfilled their prophetic role when they cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38).  They knew a teacher, healer, and self-proclaimed King had arrived in the city of Kings, Jerusalem. Their joy was overflowing, but their knowledge was weak.

They quote Psalm 118 in part, not fully. If they had read through verse 27 they would realize that when God’s King arrives, His divine light would shine upon His people. That light meant both grace and justice. For God’s face to shine upon His people means both His amazing grace (Numbers 6:25) and exposure of our sin (Lamentations 4:22). When God looks at us he always intends both.

How would Jesus’ arrival fulfill both God’s grace and justice? The breath-taking answer comes at the end of Psalm 118:27, “Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!” The inner holy chamber was prepared, the sacrificial lamb tied to the twin horns of the altar and blood would flow. At the priest’s report of the Father’s acceptance of the spilt blood, a great festival of joy ensues.

Jesus comes into Jerusalem, receiving a King’s praise, but he is no ordinary King. He is the King who comes to die.  Not to merely approve of some animal being bound to the altar for slaughter, he comes to be slaughtered Himself!  The writer of Hebrews teaches: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (9:12).

Join me in glad worship of the King Jesus in whom justice and grace meet!

Disciplines Of A Godly Woman - A Review

Barbara Hughes is the wife of Pastor Kent Hughes. He pastors College Church in Wheaton, IL. She has supported him in his ministry for over 40 years while raising four daughters. She is a popular women’s teacher and has co-authored other books with her husband. Disciplines of a Godly Woman has been a challenging book for me to read, but has also been a great help in my walk with Christ. I wish I had this book when I was in my earlier years of highschool, college and when I was first married. 

The chapters in this book are laid out in sections. The first section is about the soul.  She goes from discipline in godliness through discipline of the gospel, of submission, of prayer, and of worship. In these chapters, Barbara explains the importance of godliness and how we as “gospel women” need to pursue it with all our might. Once we are pursuing godliness Barbara shares with us the importance of submission. She writes, “A Christian’s life is about bringing the will under submission to God’s will, and submission is an idea that has fallen on hard times. Confusion abounds about rights and boundaries, roles and authority. This confusion muddies our thinking about God and creates roadblocks to our spiritual growth. The only cure is a proper theology about God in order to bring every area of our lives under submission to His will. So each topic we touch on in this book is framed in terms of this surrender.”

Barbara continues the section on the soul by giving good clear definition (along with scripture) of the Gospel. This is the foundation of what everything else in a godly woman’s life is built on. She explains how the Gospel is God’s Gospel. “The Gospel is the foundation for every single thing you are and do.” There are questions in this section to answer. The questions give us clarity and a right view of the Bible. She has laid a good foundation at this point for the rest of the book to be built on. 

Barbara moves from the discipline of submission right in to the discipline of prayer. She begins this chapter with a question, “Why must we pray?” There are two reasons: “Prayer is the source of power for growth and perseverance in our spiritual lives.” She goes on to say, “Prayer bends our wills to God’s will, which is what submitting our lives is all about." She teaches that prayer is not for getting God to do what we want, but is for “the shaping and bending of my will until it aligns with His.” 

Her next section is about character. The chapters are about the mind, contentment, propriety, and perseverance. I found that each of these chapters were challenging in and of themselves. She writes about Philippians 4:8. Barbara talks about Paul’s positive words he chooses here, where he could have written: “Whatever is untrue, whatever is ignoble, whatever is wrong, whatever is impure, whatever is unlovely, whatever is not admirable—if there is anything shoddy or unworthy of praise—do not think about these things.” She continues, “Paul was not naïve; he knew about the dark side of human experience. But he chose not to make negative input a part of his mental programming.So make this truth a foundation for your life as a godly woman: A Christian mind is impossible without the discipline of refusal.  Part of having a Christian mind is saying no to ungodly influences.

Relationships are the topic of section three. She helps us to understand discipline in regards to the church, singleness, marriage and nurturing. As you can see, she applies God’s word to each area of our lives. There are challenges and thought provoking questions in each of these chapters.  After relationships, she talks about ministry and then grace of discipline. At the end of the book she has listed hymns and praise Psalms for your devotional time, a calendar for daily Bible readings, a recommended reading list, scriptures on good deeds along with a list of good deeds to do and other notes. 

This book is great to do as a personal study or to read in a group. The first time I read it, I used it for my devotions. It took me a year. It is an easy read but there is so much written within its pages I didn’t want to miss anything. If you decide to read this book for yourself, I would suggest you have a notebook and Bible in hand and a good highlighter. There is so much richness in this book. While reading this book it was like drinking in fresh cool water on a hot summer day.

Disciplines of a Godly Woman will always be one of my favorite books. It’s one of those books that should be read at least once a year. I have been challenged by it as it has been like a mirror held up to my life. In reading it, God has shown me many areas of my life that I fail in submitting to Him. But Barbara Hughes assures me in her words that God is not finished with me yet. I hope that each woman at Five Points Community Church can have this book in their personal library and that they will be challenged to live a life that is disciplined by the Gospel.

The Divine Warrior, Savior and King

The prophecy of Zechariah near the end of the Old Testament highlights the goodness of God. How is God good? Zechariah’s answer: God protects his people from their enemies.

Hear his battle cry, “The Lord has an eye on all mankind and on all the tribes of Israel…Then I will encamp at my house as a guard…no oppressor shall march over them.” (Zechariah 9:1,8). God loves to protect his people from their enemies, like a divine warrior.  It is his goodness to do so.

That’s why he promises to send a King: “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he.” His promise is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. Matthew, Mark and Luke all see Jesus entrance into the holy city of Jerusalem as the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy of God’s coming King. It was God’s eternal goodness that sent Jesus to the bloody cross of Calvary.

As a Divine Warrior, God not only saves us from enemies without, but the enemy within. He writes to his beloved, “Because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set prisoners free…” (v.11). The only reason for a blood covenant is to wash away the sins of God’s people. They weren’t just victims, they were victimizers as well. They didn’t only need protection, but pardon as well.

It is God’s great goodness to save us both from our enemies and from ourselves.

Yet His goodness abounds still more: we are not merely saved, but saved to shine. “On that day the LORD their God will save them,…like jewels of a crown they shall shine on His land” (v. 16). Why does God do this: “For how great is His goodness, and how great His beauty!” (verse 17).

Holy week and the events of Christ’s passion signal again: we are protected, pardoned and prized all because God is the supremely good Warrior, Savior and King.

Does not worship well up within you? Glory in His divine goodness.

The King Arrives, Gentle For Now

When Christ finally arrives in Jerusalem he is met with cloaks spread on the road on which his colt can walk; leafy palm branches fawning him with praise, and revelers in front and behind him singing their worship of him: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

All this fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy,
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
  Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
  righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
  on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9 ESV)

Christ arrives in Jerusalem not on a mighty war horse, as Israel expected, but on the foal of donkey. And he comes gentle and humble; though doubtless the King. Few of us have categories for a humble King. Especially one who claims to be God. Yet here he is, the King of glory riding on a small pack animal.

This signal something glorious about Christ’s reign. He will be both ruling Monarch and humble Servant. He will bear a perfect standard of righteousness; and he will die to enable sinners to keep it. He will fulfill the Old Testament Temple purpose: linking heaven and earth; and surpass it with Himself. One everyone had to come to Jerusalem to sacrifice a lamb in order to be received back into God’s mercy. Now, because the final Lamb would be slain, all who place their hope in Him are brought near to God (I Peter 3:18).

Be both warned and warmed. There is salvation in no other name under heaven, but the name of Jesus Christ. You must trust Him for salvation. Yet know, that He invites you; he desires for you to come; he draws you to call on Him – even today.


White As Snow

resolved: student ministries went to Camp Barakel for winter retreat two weekends ago. On the drive north Friday evening, it started to snow and it didn't stop until a foot of fresh snow had fallen. It was a wet, heavy snow that knocked out power across the northeast Lower Pennisula. The storm caused camp to lose power early Saturday morning and that, in turn, caused our winter retreat to be cut short because they could not heat the cabins in the near zero temperatures. But in all of the chaos of a Michigan blizzard and the changing retreat plans, I stepped outside the back of the East Side dining hall and was confronted with a beautiful sight. Green pines and tall brown oaks were totally white. It looked as if every tree and its branches were not real trees, but were made completely of snow. An iPhone camera just does not do it justice.

The chills that went up my back were not from the cold. It was a powerful reminder of the gospel-pointing beauty of God's snow in Isaiah 1.18: "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." Because of the blood Jesus shed on the cross, the guilt of the sins of God's people is effectively cleansed. But not only that, as Alec Motyer comments, "the Lord's promise is not only to deal with the stain of sin but with the nature from which it springs." That's why the picture above was simply a gospel-pointing reminder. The trees were still there under all that snow... they were covered, but they were still trees. But if anyone is in Christ Jesus, they are a new creations (2 Corinthians 5.17). Jesus didn't just cover our sins, He gave us new life in Him. Oh the powerful blood of our glorious Savior! As winter gives way to spring, may we remember the new life that springs forth in those who are in Christ. The cold grip in which death once held us is broken. Though our sins were like scarlet, they are white as snow.

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