Review: A New Day Is Coming

A New Day Is Coming
by The Paul Paoli Band
I just love the Paul Paoli Band! Paul is good brother and a Doctrines of Grace man through and through. This is the band’s third CD release. They are one of New York’s most popular, sought after performance bands on the contemporary Christian music scene today. Their latest album is a Tour de Force of musicianship, extended solos, and soaring music that will thrill listeners! Genre: Rock: Southern Rock salted with Gospel centered lyrics. This CD is not for the old and cranky Calvinists among us. I’m in my 60’s and not too cranky. ~ Moe
A New Day Is Coming
Peace in the Storm
I Ain’t Turning Back
My Savior
TV Preacher Blues
Prelude (Joy in the Morning)
Joy in the Morning
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Run from Sin
Lost Sheep
Revelation
For track samples visit here.
Album Notes gleaned from the above mentioned URL.

This CD was produced by veteran music producer Paul Umbach and recorded at his studio “The Maze” (Franklin, TN), and mastered by the legendary Joe Palmaccio at “The Place for Mastering” (Nashville, TN). This album is reminiscent of some of the great Southern Rock albums of the 1970s, and is sure to delight listeners who appreciate great musicianship, original music, and diversity in style. From Southern Rock, Memphis Blues, Country, Blue Grass and even Pop Rock this album plays for nearly one hour, and features extended solos. If you like the album, you’ll love seeing this band perform live! Paul Paoli’s fiddle work is nothing short of stunning, amazing and jaw dropping, he is one of the best, if not ‘the best’ fiddle player on the music scene today, and his style blends the quality of legendary Southern Rockers Charlie Daniels and Dickey Betts to perfection, this band must be seen LIVE to be fully appreciated and understood, they have a loyal and devoted following of fans who thrill to see them write and perform!

New Covenant Meditation (1): The Superiority of the New Covenant

Jeremiah 31.31-34

 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah’s prophecy, indeed God’s promise of the new covenant, is set against a very gloomy day. Judgment had come upon the people of Israel, indeed the people of God. False prophets were everywhere. They told the people, a sinful, rebellious, stiff-necked, unyielding, stubborn, disobedient, ungodly, unholy people what they wished to hear. ‘All is well’ was their mantra. ‘You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but [the Lord] will give you lasting peace in this place’: this was the song sung to those Jeremiah calls ‘a harlot with many lovers.’ When one reads the first 30 chapters of Jeremiah, one thing becomes abundantly clear – the old covenant people of God did not have a heart for God. Righteousness, living right before God, and for God, thirsting after Him and being faithful to Him, wasn’t anywhere on the radar. Even the priests were polluted with all kinds of corruptions.
Jeremiah laments the spiritual state of his people. “OH, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! O that I had in the desert a wayfarer’s lodging place; That I might leave my people, and go from them! For all of them are adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. ‘And they bend their tongue like their bow; Lies and not truth prevail in the land; For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me,’ declares the Lord.” Any amount of reflection upon even these few words makes it difficult if not impossible to not see our own nation in this. People use their tongues as weapons. Lies and not truth prevail. Adulteries of all kinds are accepted as the norm.
But let’s not forget who’s in view here. This is the old covenant people of God, a people blessed with the oracles of God. But those oracles, those revelations, even the covenant under which they lived, proved ineffectual for salvation. They did not repent from their own wicked ways and obey the word of God set forth in the old covenant. And so, Divine wrath was their lot/end.
But Jeremiah speaks of another day, of future days. The Lord through him promises there would be a new covenant. He would make a new covenant with Israel and Judah, with His people. We know by several New Testament passages this people is the nation made of many nations. Hebrews, for example, applies Jeremiah 31 to the church, to those in Christ. And so the days of which Jeremiah spoke have come. Every promise is, as Paul writes, ‘yes in [Christ].’ Every blessing, everything promised in this new covenant, indeed the new covenant itself is ours in Christ.
If we look closer at this covenant, we see why it’s new. And this is a glorious thing though a simple thing. One may ask in what sense is it new. We must reply this way. It’s new in the sense that it isn’t old. It isn’t even a newer version of what was. It is altogether new. It stands in contrast to the one before it. That is, the old one given to Israel via Moses at Sinai. The one summarily defined as the Ten Commandments (Ex. 34.28; Deut. 4.13). The one the sign of which was the Sabbath (Ex. 31.12-17). The one blessing was conditioned upon obedience, perfect obedience (Ex. 19.5-6; Gal. 3.10). The one obliging the curse of God upon those who disobey (Deut. 27.26; 28; Gal. 3.10). The old belongs to things old, to the old era. Old things have passed away. With Christ, the new has come.

The new is better. Far better. The New is to the Old what Xbox is to the sandbox. The space shuttle to the Wright brothers. The iPhone to Morse Code. It isn’t that Morse Code had no purpose. Neither must we assume sandboxes are taboo. But in the course of history these things have been surpassed by far more glorious and wonderful things, things able to do what the others could not. This is how we must think of the New Covenant versus the Old. The New is far superior, far more glorious, able to do what the old was never intended to do. It was designed for a different purpose.
Then there is this matter of essence or nature. The very nature of the New is at odds with the Old. They are, in their very essence, altogether different. We see this in where the law is written – not on tablets of stone, not in the scrolls of an ancient people, not even on first century parchment, but on the hearts of God’s people. That’s in fact what the prophet says. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” This is something God will do. This is in fact what God does. We can’t do this for ourselves. Nor can we do this for others. This is a sovereign act of God, one not by fountain pen, but one in which the very Fountain of life, the Law incarnate, the exact imprint of God’s holiness, is etched upon the human heart by/in His Spirit. It is the Spirit of the Son of God who Himself causes (Eze. 36.27), and not merely enables, His people to walk in paths of righteousness.
This is what the New Covenant effects. This internal Law engraved upon the hearts of believers, even Christ Himself, the fullest expression of righteousness, can, all by Himself, produce the fruit of a righteous, holy life. It isn’t that we reject or ignore the imperatives, the commands of Christ and His apostles. They describe the paths of righteousness. But we must understand this, that this internal Law, the indwelling Christ, the Spirit of Christ, is the defining, determining, and governing reality. Christ alone for righteousness. We can rest in that. Christ alone for imputed righteousness by faith alone. And Christ alone for the pursuit of righteousness by faith in Him alone. We trust Him alone to do what He alone can do.
Ultimately, the New Covenant is superior to the Old, not because of pardon of sin or the fact that they ‘shall all know me’, [though these are precious beyond description] but because in the NC Jesus gives us Himself. For this very reason, we, the church, have no reason to look back for growth in grace. We have what Israel and Judah did not have, namely a law written upon the heart whose name is Jesus. May our eyes be forever fixated upon Him, our justification, sanctification, and indwelling, living, effectual Law.
 
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/todd-braye.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Todd Braye (B. Mus., M.Div) is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Blacke, Alberta, Canada. After graduating from the Canadian Theological Seminary, he served a Baptist church in eastern Ontario for six years before coming home to Alberta. He has been SGBC’s pastor since October 1, 2005.[/author_info] [/author]

The Excellent Ministry (7): Out of Sight, not Heart

1 Thess. 2:17-20

“17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.”

Introduction
Why Paul had such a tremendous impact with those to whom he writes demands our attention. We of course understand and affirm and glory in the fact God was the reason. God is why. God is always the why. He was very much in the whole thing, working His will and saving purpose. It was/is a purpose decreed before the dawn of time, a purpose to bless the nations through Abraham’s seed, namely Christ Jesus, Son of God, Son of David, and King of the Jews. The cross of Mt. Calvary on which this King died is the apex of this purpose; Christ crucified for the sins of His people, not just Jews, but Gentiles, non-Jews also – like those to whom Paul writes here in Thessalonica .
God has a people. Paul knew that. It’s what drove him. It’s what motivated him to endure all things, like hunger and the dungeon and the stocks and sleepless nights. Paul both knew and taught what we joyfully affirm and exult in, that God is sovereign in salvation. He alone opens blind eyes. He alone opens deaf ears. He alone causes the dead to live and cry for mercy and forgiveness of sins. Salvation belongs to, and is 100% of, the Lord, from start to finish
In accordance with these things, and as a consequence of God’s sovereignty, Paul, the apostle, but also servant of God and Christ’s slave, loved. Paul truly cared for these folks. We’ve seen that. We’ve seen how he spent himself for the profit of the ones to whom he writes. There’s something very basic here, so foundational to real, effective, excellent ministry, one that’s truly influential, which leaves a real impact. Paul was a man. He was an apostle, yes. But we mustn’t allow that to cloud the fact of his fallen-ness, his depravity. He was a real man with every temptation and frailty known to a man. That is to say, we mustn’t always put Paul in a category far above us. His apostleship does set him apart; he held a foundational, unrepeatable office, one that bears much weight and authority. But he’s just a man, flesh and blood like you and me.
Why I belabor this is this: Paul’s effectiveness rested not because he was an apostle. His impact wasn’t because Paul was Paul. The secret of his ministry success, if I may speak this way, is the simple, but profound fact that he was Spirit-filled. He was a Spirit-filled minister/servant of God and His word. Of course, we need to see this against the canvass and backdrop of God’s sovereignty. God works. And God works in His people even as Christ dwells in them by His Spirit. What I want to get across to you is this: If you’re a member of the New Covenant, if by faith Christ dwells in you and you are led by the Spirit whose fruit is love, your ministry to both believers and unbelievers can be/will be influential, excellent even. We are not like Paul in a number of ways. But we share this glorious mystery with him, even ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’
Excellent Ministry Consists of Sincere Affection, not Just Sound Doctrine
Having said all that, we now come to the text before us. And what this text does is illustrate, even put on glorious display, something of Paul’s heart. Just listen to his heart as I read it again for you:

“17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.”

The big thing I see and hear here is Paul so loved that he so endeavored. Paul so loved this church that he did all that was humanly possible to be with it. Excellent ministry is not simply a matter of sound doctrine, in other words. It also includes sincere affection.
In these verses, Paul makes clear the providence.
He says he/they were ‘torn away from’ his readers, the church which he founded. He had been there for three weeks, working, laboring among them for gospel advance. His activities caused such an uproar the brethren thought it best to send him away by night. Paul speaks of this as a ripping, presumably of the heart. I need not tell you the obvious, that such a ripping is painful emotionally. He actually speaks as though he was orphaned, that this made him an orphan, as if he suffered no small loss, even of his parents. Such was the level of attachment he shared and felt for these believers. Affection and attachment go hand in hand. If no affection, then no attachment, If no attachment, then no tearing. But there was tearing. And so there was tremendous grief. It’s good for us to see that faith doesn’t make the pain go away, not even for the apostle himself.
But though they were torn away in person, they were not so in heart, he says. In other words, though the church was out of sight, it was not out of the apostle’s heart and mind. If we could sum up this epistle so far, we could do so this way: We could hang everything on these two prayers of thanksgiving to God. At the very outset, Paul says he gives thanks to God for their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in Christ. And then he says, in verse 13, chapter 2, he also gives thanks for how they received the word they preached. He was away from them. But he prayed for them. He prayed, thanking God for this work He had begun in them and was doing in them. So, we can see this to be true, how Paul in fact remained tethered to them in his heart. Out of sight, but not out of mind.

But, he says, that’s not all. We prayed for you, and we endeavored to come to you more than once. We made every effort, on a number of occasions, to make our way to you, to see you face to face, to be together with you. We endeavored to be together. This word for ‘endeavored’: it means to do something with intense effort and motivation. And not to be misunderstood or even heard too lightly, he adds great weight to this. He piles on more words for emphasis, to convey the extreme intensity of this endeavor. He says he endeavored ‘the more eagerly and with great desire.’ This attempt, these attempts were thus fueled by extreme and excessive longing.
Paul craved to be together with these believers again. No one could charge him with making simple, half-hearted token attempts to reunite. And no one could legitimately say Paul did not genuinely care for his new converts. In fact, one gets the impression that whether by ‘caravan, crossing the desert like an Arab man, if by sailboat, if by tree swinging rope to rope, if by sled, sliding down a slope,’ Paul would do whatever to get there if he could! Great desires fuel great actions.
What we have here is none other than a glimpse into the heart of one who truly cares for and is truly committed to the church. Paul was a true churchman. He loved the church. He was among those who carried the church in his heart. In Philippians 1.7, he makes this statement. He says, ‘…It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…’ But lest anyone think this had anything to do with Paul, that somehow this burden of/for the church originated with him, he says this to the Corinthians. He says, “But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you” (2Cor. 8.16). This is again very much a God thing. God is at work when He burdens men with the church and makes them carry her, and hold her, in their hearts. Solid doctrine? Absolutely! But the exemplary ministry consists also of sincere and even deep affection FOR fellow partakers of grace, for the brethren.
We see therefore that ministry is intensely relational.
Paul puts his heart on display here. He shows us a work of faith and a labor of love. Though absent from the body, the Thessalonian body, he made every effort to see that body.
What prevented him, or shall we say, who prevented him, might come somewhat as a surprise to some. But without apology or uncertainty, the apostle makes this assertion, that “Satan hindered us.” He ‘blocked the way.’ How he did so Paul doesn’t reveal. It isn’t as though Paul always credits Satan with foiling his efforts. But this time he does. Which tells us two things. First, it tells us something of the fierce desire and passionate endeavor to go back. Only Satan himself could get in the way. Only the devil could stop Paul and his co-workers. It isn’t that Satan is omnipotent. Nor is it that he’s calling the shots. Nor must we think in terms of Star Wars, that there’s this war between good and evil, between the good and the dark side, and in any given battle, either side could win. This is not the Biblical picture. The Bible is clear on the matter. The devil has been defeated. He does not have the upper hand. But obviously, he still has a say; he still prowls about, making things difficult for those who care for the church, who seek to instruct and edify her. He is a foe and a real one at that, able to frustrate the plans of even Paul.
Second, and I’ve already hinted at it, is this idea that we must be mindful there is a battle going on.
The devil is not behind every rock or bad thing. We must not even blame him for the terrible news coming out of Toronto and Denver this past week; there is enough wrong with men in and of themselves to cause horrific events. Men aren’t insane; men are in sin. The heart of the matter is this matter of the heart out of which comes things like mass shootings. But as true as this is, it is also true that Satan is at work, doing all he can, which is all he’s allowed, to thwart the plans of those given to gospel advance and edifying the church. “Satan makes his presence felt to Christian workers,” the commentator writes. “He even prevents them from doing things they would dearly love to do. Scripture makes it clear that his power is derivative, and always subject to God’s overruling. But within the limits allotted to him he does hinder God’s servants.”
Their Joy and Crown of Boasting
We press on. Paul continues in the 19th and 20th verses, giving a word of explanation. He tells of why he wanted to come to them. It’s rather striking. He explains to them that they will be his hope and joy and crown of boasting at the coming of Christ. But notice how he says it. He does not put it in the future tense, although the future is unquestionably in view. What he says is “19 For what IS our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?” He speaks of a future reality in the present tense. He says ‘is’ not ‘will be.’ What IS our hope or joy or crown of boasting before [Him] at his coming?
This is no grammatical mistake. Paul could read and write. He was very literate. What he said and how he said it was, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, very much intended. So, I take this as a sure indication Paul was certain of what he was saying. He was sure that at the second coming, when Christ returns in all His splendor, when called to give account for his ministry, that is, when his ministry would be judged, this church, the one to whom he wrote here, would be his joy and crown of boasting. ‘See God! Here! Look at these ones who received your word as your word, in whom your word worked, those who suffered on account of it and at great cost! Look Lord! Look at these ones! These are those known for their labor of love and work of faith and hope, enduring hope, in thee.’
This is that of which he spoke in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul there writes these words. He says that “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13-15).
Three things.
Paul says this church is his hope when Christ returns. He hoped his labor not be in vain. He hoped that when put to the test, his ministry would pass the test and not be burned up. So here when he says they’re his hope when Christ comes, we know this hope will not be dashed. He evidently had great confidence in this church.
Next he says this church is his joy when Christ comes back.
No sorrow here, is there. No painful, heavy burden like when a pastor gets when unsure about the true condition of any number of his flock. Just joy. It’s amazing isn’t it! The church, was the reason, the source even, of Paul’s joy. The church will be reason for his joy, when Christ returns and the fire begins to burn, testing his ministry. It isn’t that Christ won’t be his joy. But Paul will have joy upon joy!
Third, this church, says Paul will be his crown of boasting on that day.
It’s more than fascinating to think that he who wrote “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” says what he says here. In Paul’s day crowns were wreaths made of various materials like leaves. In the games, the victorious athlete received a wreath, not a medal. Evidently, the reward recognized not just victory, but effort and work as well. A crown was also placed upon the head of one who received grand civic honors. It was the granting of public recognition for something deemed worthy of such. It’s within this social and cultural context, that Paul says what he says here. On that Day, he says, when Christ returns, who will be our crown of boasting? When the race is done and over, when all is said and done, after I’ve poured my heart to you, and spent myself on you, I will receive an award. I will be adorned with a shiny gold medal! I will wear a crown! And what is that crown? In what reward will I boast? Is it not you he says? He won’t boast in himself, but the ones to whom he writes. And to put the cherry on top, he ends the thing by adding this. He says to them that they won’t simply be all these things to him and his co-workers, but that they already are. You will be he says ‘For you are our glory and joy’ (verse 20).
To sum up it’s very simple. We endeavored because we wanted to see you for you are our pride and joy. You are. And you will be.
Conclusion
It seems then, that whatever we can take away from this (and much can be taken away), we can rightfully assume that those given to the church, who carry the church in their hearts, and are so invested in the church, that its faithfulness is their joy. A faithful, word-receiving church, one marked by the work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness in the face of opposition, that therefore gives evidence the word is working in them, is a source of deep joy for men like elders and others who care for the well-being of the church. On the other hand, it stands to reason therefore, that the opposite is cause for sorrow. Faithless churches stab at the hearts of faithful men.
Furthermore, if out of sight does not mean out of heart, then neither does it mean lack of care or concern. Paul was physically absent. But absence did not equal, nor does it always mean, abandonment. Providences and circumstances and Satan will hinder the best of efforts and the best of intentions. But they could not, nor could he thwart the affection Paul had for his beloved. He was torn from them in body, but the devil could not tear his heart from them.
And finally, we must ask ourselves: “Will we be cause for joy and a crown of boasting for someone?” You see, Paul hits on something here. He has this incredible perspective. He sees a future day. And he speaks of it in certain terms. He says to these Thessalonians, that they will in fact be his crown. They will be. And they are in fact already this. They are his joy and glory. They are, but not quite. But they will be. Why was he so certain of this? Let me tell you this. Let me tell you this last thing, this thing which you know and have become convinced of. He was sure of it because God was at work within them. There was great evidence of it. God had begun a work in them, a real work, one that had been tested by the fire of tribulation. They were in fact standing fast in the Lord despite taking hits for their very public allegiance to Christ and his word. That is the test. That is how he knew.
And so the challenge comes to us this way: Are we standing fast? Is our allegiance public? Are we taking hits? Are we standing when those hits come, or are we packing up our bags as it were and checking out? To those who don’t do that, to those who won’t do that because God is at work, because the word is at work within them, Paul says, “What is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.” Amen.
 
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/todd-braye.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Todd Braye (B. Mus., M.Div) is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Blacke, Alberta, Canada. After graduating from the Canadian Theological Seminary, he served a Baptist church in eastern Ontario for six years before coming home to Alberta. He has been SGBC’s pastor since October 1, 2005.[/author_info] [/author]