Friday, October 30, 2009

Heaven Help Us?

Morning Prayer

Dear Lord,

So far today Lord, I've done alright. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, nor over-indulgent. And I'm very thankful to you for that.

But..........In a few minutes, Lord, I'm probably going to need a lot more help because I'm going to get out of bed!!!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Ought to be our Attitude toward the Sovereignty of God?

It has been well said that "true worship is based upon recognized greatness, and greatness is superlatively seen in Sovereignty, and at no other footstool will men really worship."
In the presence of the Divine King upon His throne even the seraphim 'veil their faces.' Divine sovereignty is not the sovereignty of a tyrannical Despot, but the exercised pleasure of One who is infinitely wise and good! Because God is infinitely wise He cannot err, and because He is infinitely righteous He will not do wrong.
Here then is the preciousness of this truth. The mere fact itself that God's will is irresistible and irreversible fills me with fear, but once I realize that God wills only that which is good. My heart is made to rejoice. Here then is the final answer to the question (concerning our attitude toward God's sovereignty)—What ought to be our attitude toward the sovereignty of God?
The becoming attitude for us to take is that of godly fear, implicit obedience, and unreserved resignation and submission. But not only so: the recognition of the sovereignty of God, and the realization that the Sovereign Himself is my Father, ought to overwhelm the heart and cause me to bow before Him in adoring worship.
At all times I must say, "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight."
--Arthur W. Pink

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How To Spend the Day With God - Richard Baxter

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.
Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.
First Thoughts
Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows. Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.
Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.
Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.
Family Worship
Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.
Ultimate Purpose
Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.
Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Diligence in Your Calling
Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:
(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.
(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.
Temptations and Things That Corrupt
Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.
Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.
If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.
If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.
At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.
When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.
The Only Motive
Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.
Redeeming The Time
Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, television, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.
Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.
Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.
Eating and Drinking
Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health. Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.
The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).
Prevailing Sins
If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.
Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.
Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.
Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty. Closing the Day
Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.
This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.
May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life. If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

Monday, October 26, 2009

God Moves in Mysterious Ways

Yesterday was the Lord's day and as many of you know, due to the fact that I asked for your prayer support, I had the opportunity of not only teaching the Sojourners Adult Bible Class, I preached the morning and evening services in the absence of our pastor. First, I thank you for your prayer support. The morning and evening went absolutely fantastic - to the ultimate glory of our marvelous God.
However, I would to share a hymn from William Cowper, circa 1774 and then share will you why I think it was such a blessing to us.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up his brightest designs,
and works his sovereign will
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
in blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust him for his grace
behind a frowning providence
he hides a smiling face
His purpose will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste
but sweet will be the flower
Blind unbelief is sure to err
and scan his work in vain
God is his own interpreter
and he will make it plain
Taken from the Trinity Hymnal, (Suwanee: Great Commission Publications), # 21
I had just begun the morning message by completing the introduction and had just announced the first point, when a member stood up and said "we are having a medical emergency." The woman behind her had gone into an epileptic episode and needed immediate attention. A couple of members immediate went to her assistance and 911 was called. Naturally the service stopped and several of us began to pray for her and for the wisdom of the responding ambulance crew.
By the time the ambulance arrived she had come out of the episode. They made sure she was stabilized and then she was taken for treatment.
Now, how does this song and this situation blend? Marvelously, darling, someone once said! God did move in a mysterious way and he performed a wonder worthy of praise. Even though Hell and all its minions would have done anything to stop anyone that morning from preaching the Word that the Son of God had died willingly and voluntarily to satisfy his father and that "It was truly finished!'; and some would have judged by feeble senses, God's purpose did ripen fast.
You see, this woman lived alone with two small children and had no telephone. God arranged to allow her to experience this episode amongst his people to render immediate care. Had she been at home, she would have been without a phone for help and her children to figure out a way to deal with her situation. Praise God for his thoughtfulness!
We experienced a some 40 minute delay. When I asked the congregation what was their pleasure, end the service or continue the message - they overwhelmingly wanted to hear Gods' word. So talk about going "overtime."
What a marvelous God we have. He finished the work of redemption; he arranged a woman's medical emergency to take place where she would receive the loving help of her brothers and sisters in Christ, and I still was infinitely privileged to teach the precious word of God.
So thank you to those who lifted me up to the Lord in prayer!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Are You Deceived?

“I had a variety of concerns and exercises about my soul from childhood; but I had two more remarkable seasons of awakening, before I met with that change by which I was brought to those new dispositions, and the new sense of things, that I have since had. The first time was when I was a boy, some years before I went to college, at a time of remarkable awakening in my father’s congregation. I was then very much affected for many months, and concerned about the things of religion, and my soul’s salvation; and was abundant in religious duties. I used to pray five times a day in secret, and to spend much time in religious conversation with other boys; and used to meet with them to pray together. I experienced I know not what kind of delight in religion. My mind was much engaged in it, and had much self righteous pleasure, and it was my delight to abound in religious duties. I, with some of my school-mates, joined together and built a booth in a swamp, in a very retired spot for a place of prayer. And besides, I had particular secret places of my own in the woods, where I used to retire by myself; and was from time to time much affected. My affections seemed to be lively and easily moved and I seemed to be in my element when I engaged in religious duties. And I am ready to think, many are deceived with such affections, and such kind of delight as I then had in religion, and mistake it for grace. But, in process of time, my convictions and affections wore off, and I entirely lost all those affections and delights, and left off secret prayer, at least as to any constant preference of it; and returned like a dog to his vomit and went on in the ways of sin.”
Taken from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 1, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers), p. liv (Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards)

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is Your Business?

The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin. So the apostle, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth. (Col 3:5). To whom does he speak? Such as were “risen with Christ (v. 1); such as were “dead” with him (v.3); such as whose life Christ was and who should “appear with him in glory” (v.4). Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it while you live; Cease not a day from this work; Be killing sin or it will be killing you. Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being quickened with him, will not excuse you from this work. And our Savior tells us how his Father deals with every branch in him that bears fruit, every true and living branch. “He purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2). He prunes it, and that not for a day or two, but while it is a branch in this world. And the apostle tells you what was his practice; “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (I Cor 9:27). I do it, says he, “daily; it is the work of my life. I omit it not; this is my business.” And if this were the work and business of Paul, who was so incomparably exalted in grace, revelations, enjoyments, privileges, consolations, above the ordinary measure of believers, where may we possible bottom (find a basis for) an exemption from this work and duty while we are in this world? From Overcoming Sin & Temptation, John Owen, edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, (Wheaton: Crossway Books), p. 50

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preaching Opportunities - Request your prayers

I know I am been slow to post this last week. I have been given the wonderful opportunity of preaching this Sunday, both in the morning service and the evening service in the absence of our pastor. He will out due to some oral surgery.
I am still doing an analytical and exposition of the gospel of John in the Adult Bible Class. I will just continue in the same place our pastor would have been for Sunday Morning. I will be exegeting Mark 15:33-41, The Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1A The Prelude to the Christ's Death
1B The Darkness that Filled the Land
2B The Despair that Filled the Lord
2A The Problem with Christ's Death
1B The Translation Error
2B The Tragedy Exposed
3A The Product of Christ's Death
1B The Triumph of the Victory
2B The Tearing of the Vail
3B The Testimony of the Vexiliary
4A The Proof of the Christ's Death
1B The Damsels that Loved the Lord
2B The Disciple that Loved the Lord
Looking forward to preaching God's word to God's people! Please pray for the Holy Spirit to do his work his way!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Shepherd Psalm

David has left no sweeter Psalm that the 23rd Psalm. It is a tiny glimpse in David’s soul. Here we see truths of peace and comfort that God has given to the soul of David. It has been called the nightingale of the Psalms. This Psalm resonates with the most expressive tones of confidence, joy, and triumph Spurgeon said, “What condescension is this, that the Infinite Lord assumes towards his people the office and character of a shepherd. David had been a keeper of sheep and understood both the needs of the sheep and the many cares of a shepherd. David compares himself to a creature weak, defenseless, and foolish, and he takes God to be his provider, preserver, director, and actually his everything. No one has a right to consider himself the Lord’s sheep unless his nature as been renewed, for the scriptural description of unconverted men does not picture them as sheep, but as wolves or goats. You see sheep are objects of property, not wild or not without an owner. We know from John 10 that Jesus considered himself the good shepherd of his sheep. Since He knows His sheep by name, God's love for his sheep is both intensive and particular, not a general love. When He sees that His lamb is lost He goes off in search of it until He finds it. He then scoops it up in his arms, puts it on His shoulders and carries it home. He does not merely go out and stand at a distance calling to any old stray sheep, hoping in vain that it wants to come home with Him. No, God calls us by name (since His sheep know his voice) and He mercifully does what is best for us. To those who do not follow Him Jesus said, "You do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:26, 27) In other words, He saves His loved ones, not with an ineffectual, passive love but with an active love which accomplishes that which he set out to do and actually gets the job done.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Renewing Your Mind by John Piper

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world ,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 ESV An Essential Means of Transformation: The Renewal of Your Mind And in Romans 12:2 Paul now focuses on one essential means of transformation—“the renewal of your mind.”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Oh, how crucial this is! If you long to break loose from conformity to the world, if you long to be transformed and new from the inside out, if you long to be free from mere duty-driven Christianity and do what you love to do because what you love to do is what you ought to do,
if you long to offer up your body as a living sacrifice so that your whole life becomes a spiritual act of worship and displays the worth of Christ above the worth of the world,
then give yourself with all your might to pursuing this—the renewal of your mind. Because the Bible says, this is the key to transformation. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hospitals around the world use various emergency codes to alert their staff members to various emergency situations. Codes are used with the intent to convey essential information quickly and with a minimum of misunderstanding to staff, and at the same time preventing stress or panic among visitors in the hospital. These codes may be posted on placards throughout the hospital, or printed on employee/staff identification badges for ready reference.
Hospital emergency codes are frequently coded by color, and the color codes denote different events at different hospitals. It is interesting to note that they are not universal.
Code blue was originally “coined” at the Bethany Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. In some hospitals it means that there is an “Adult Emergency” and all available staff must respond to this code.
In general, this code is used to announce the fact that a patient requires immediate resuscitation. This is usually as a result of a patient going into cardiac arrest. Sometimes this code is used by ambulance personnel to inform the hospital that a patient is arriving in cardiac arrest and will need immediate resuscitation.
I wonder if God has a code system that He announces to himself about various churches around the world? In the past I have been “asked,” “requested,” or “invited” to go to a “church” and help resuscitate it. If I had reflected on this question I might have looked harder and longer for a “pulse.”
I wonder if the elders at the church of Sardis heard God calling code blue as he indicted them with his diagnosis that “you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die...”
It is such a sad and tragic fact that there are so many churches which were once thriving and strong who are now “code blue.” Someone once said, “...every need is not a call.” It is true, not every church can be and quite possibly does not need to be resuscitated. I do not claim to know when and how to make that decision, nor would I want to.
I would imagine that one would check the “vital signs” and attempt to detect “spiritual life.” In many cases this is very difficult. Sardis not only thought they were alive but God had already pronounced them Code Black – they were flat lined, they were dead. John used a present tense, this signified that they were dead and continued to be dead.
The fortunate news for Sardis was that they were given the opportunity to “Wake Up” and “strengthen” what remained and was about to die. The were told “to give strict attention, to be cautious, and active and to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake them. They were also told to “bulk-up.” They were told to make what remains stable, place firmly, to set fast, to strengthen, make firm. From this word we take our English word, steroid. Let’s watch out lest we one day succumb and have the alarmed sounded over us, Code Blue!
What do you think?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Finding Your Greatest Happiness in Communion with God!

According to Thomas Goodwin, the consummate fruit of justifying grace is communion with God. And that communion is a vital, mind-engaging, heart-affecting, will-moving fellowship. Faith is not an end in itself; instead it is the instrumental means of justifying grace. But justification is not an end in itself either. In Romans 5, Paul regards justification as a means for the privilege of access to God. Then in Romans 6, he regards justification as one of the primary motives for growth in holiness. But neither is holiness and end in itself. Holiness is the means of making our access to God sweeter and more enjoyable. So Goodwin concludes that enjoying communion with God is the end of all our graces. We’ve been granted the great and glorious privilege of finding happiness in communion with God. Because of all that Christ our Savior has done while we were poor, helpless, needy sinners, God enters into a relationship with us whereby we may experience exquisite and unending pleasure in Him. We rejoice in the hope of Glory. We rejoice in tribulation, but as Goodwin says, “it is a purer and higher joy to rejoice in God Himself.” What do you think? Murray G. Brett, Growing Up in Grace, (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books), pp. 11-12

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Anxiety by Arthur W. Pink

"Be anxious for nothing" (Philippians 4:6)
Worrying is as definitely forbidden as theft. This needs to be carefully pondered and definitely realized by us, so that we do not excuse it as an innocent "infirmity." The more we are convicted of the sinfulness of anxiety, the sooner are we likely to perceive that it is most dishonoring to God, and "strive against" it (Heb. 12:4). But how are we to "strive against" it?
First, by begging the Holy Spirit to grant us a deeper conviction of its enormity.
Second, by making it a subject of special and earnest prayer, that we may be delivered from this evil.
Third, by watching its beginning, and as soon as we are conscious of harassment of mind, as soon as we detect the unbelieving thought, lift up our heart to God and ask Him for deliverance from it.
The best antidote for anxiety is frequent meditation upon God’s goodness, power and sufficiency. When the saint can confidently realize "The Lord is My Shepherd," he must draw the conclusion, "I shall not want!" Immediately following our exhortation is, "but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God." Nothing is too big and nothing is too little to spread before and cast upon the Lord. The "with thanksgiving" is most important, yet it is the point at which we most fail. It means that before we receive God’s answer, we thank Him for the same: it is the confidence of the child expecting his Father to be gracious.
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought (anxious concern) for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:25,33)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How To Pray for Sinners

What do I need in order to love the lost like Jesus did? I was reading Luke again, and I became mesmerized by the story of the call of Levi, whom we also know as Matthew. Matthew had been a tax collector. This made him a man who was hated by all and a target for scorn, disdain, and contempt by the religious crowd. In the estimation of his fellow countrymen he had “sold out.” As a tax collector Levi was probably involved at worst, directly or at best, indirectly with extortion, “muscle,” and robbing the average person of their livelihood. If there were a “family” as in the sense of the “mob”, Levi more than likely would have been a card carrying member. At any rate Levi occupied the detestable position of a “publican.” He was the worst kind that you could be. According to the Rabbis there was no hope of redemption for a man like Levi. Levi would have been excluded from all fellowship and forms of worship. His money would not even be accepted as gifts in the Temple because it would have been considered tarnished. Tragically, the Rabbis had no words of comfort, hope, or help for a man who was a publican. No hope; what a horribly and devastatingly wretched place to be. Yet, Levi was a Jew. He had been raised with the same monotheistic faith of the same countrymen that despised him. He began his education with the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4, 9; Numbers 11:13-21; 15:37-41. He would have been taught by both his mother and father to kiss his fingers and touch the Mezuzah attached to the doorpost of their home. He would have been part of the family’s stringent observance of the various feasts and festivals as he grew up. His father was required to teach him the Torah. It is possible that Levi’s father possessed rolls of some of the Scripture, such as the Law, or the prophets, or maybe even the Psalms. Levi would have begun his education in the synagogue at about age six. There he would from age six to about ten study the Old Testament. At fifteen Levi would move to the study of the Mishnah. It is interesting to note that one of the first books of study for Jewish young men was that of Leviticus. Here was Jesus who had a completely different picture of Levi. Jesus had come to seek and to save men like Levi. Jesus came to save sinners and save them to a better life. Jesus was making himself friends to men like Levi. Was there hope for Levi? Jesus left Peter’s house one morning and took a walk on the beach. This was one of his favorite things to do it seemed. Jesus had to get away from his enemies, from overwhelming activity of ministry, and from the constant needs of people and walk the beach and pray. Jesus would more than likely have passed Levi’s custom house a number of times. I wonder if they had seen each other? Had they nodded their heads in polite recognition of one another? Had they exchanged good mornings? Maybe Levi had even taken some time to go hear this Jesus preach and watch as Jesus healed the sick. It doesn’t really matter, because on one of those walks Jesus walked up to Levi and said follow me. Levi does the unthinkable. He gets up, leaves everything and follows Jesus. Levi would have had a Messianic expectation with his childhood reading and education. Levi could have heard Jesus preach one or more times. He may have meditated deeply over what he had heard. He was drawn to Jesus and he found hope and help in him. Briefly let me begin to end this familiar story. Levi became Matthew and was so moved that he threw a great banquet celebration. Who could he invite? He invited his fellow co-laborers, friends, and tax collectors, who were like him – sinners. This, as you know infuriated the Pharisees who grumbled within themselves that this Jesus was eating and drinking with sinners. Jesus replied with the axiom that first caused me to meditate on my relationship to sinners, and secondly prompted me to write this post: “...Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-32 ESV) In meditating on this passage and on my consideration of the hopelessness of sinners I developed a list of at least seven things that I am praying that God will develop within me in order to always remember that the well have no need of a doctor, it is the sick who do. Therefore, I am praying: 1. for a deep and compassionate burden for those who are lost without Christ
2. to weep over the lost souls of the hopeless and helpless
3. to without fear, hesitation, or condition share the gospel
4. to wrestle with God for the souls of those whom he has laid on my heart & list
5. to deflect and defeat the powers of darkness that hold sinners in bondage
6. to fully understand & realize the end and doom of the sinner apart from Christ
7. to love the sinner as much as Christ did when he came to seek & to save them

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Faithful Friends

My devotion this morning was in Luke 5:1726. Most of you know that this is the passage that deals with the paralytic man whose friends brought him to a meeting where Christ was teaching and let him down through the roof so that they could ask Christ to heal him. This is a tremendous passage for a number of reasons but it was such great encouragement to me today. We do not know the details about the men who brought this man to this meeting where Jesus was teaching. However, we do know two distinct things. First, they were tenacious. I would like to think that they were this man’s friends who cared a great deal for him. We could take a minute and bask in the wonder of friendship. But we are not told that they we his “friends.” They could have been servants ordered to take this man to the meeting. They could have been hired day workers paid to carry him to the meeting. I think they were more than this, but we will get to that in a moment. As I said, they were tenacious. They came to the front door and discovered that the meeting was standing room only, they couldn’t get in. So, what did they do? The carried him up the outside stairway to the roof top. They then, cut holes or removed portions of the roof and with great care and back breaking effort lowered this man down into the center of the room near Jesus. They were tenacious. The second thing we know about these men, which is why I think they were more than servants or hirelings, is that they had faith that Jesus would heal this man if they could just get him to Jesus. “And when he (Jesus) saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’” (Luke 5:20 ESV) When Jesus saw their faith. These men trusted God for something extraordinary. They believed God would heal the man they painstakingly carried to the house Jesus was at, up a flight of stairs, removed portions of a roof and then lowered him down to the floor. The root word used in verse 20 is the Greek word pistis. It means to have a conviction about something. It carries the idea of a strong conviction, of belief, or trust in something or someone. They had a strong belief that Jesus could heal this man if they could just get him together with Jesus. What do you trust God for? What extraordinary thing do you have a strong conviction or a strong belief or trust which is based upon the Scriptures? I have an extraordinary conviction and I am believing that God will supply the needs of my family. I am trusting God for provision and supply. If that is through the gift of a job, so be it, if it is through the gifts of Gods’ people, so be it, if it is through the efforts of planting a new work in this community so be it.
I hope that I have friends like this man who have a strong conviction in the grace of God and in his sovereign timing that God will open the next door to us at the right moment. I am thankful that Jesus will see their faith (through prayer) and “God will heal my jobless” as he did this man’s paralysis. Praise God for faith, friends, and supplies!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thee we adore, Eternal LORD!

“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’” (Rev 5:13 ESV) Thee we adore, eternal Lord! We praise they name with one accord Thy saints, who here thy goodness see, Through all the word do worship thee Through all the world do worship thee To thee aloud all angels cry The heav’ns and all the powers on high Thee, holy, holy, holy, King, Lord God of Hosts, they ever sing Lord God of Hosts, they ever sing Apostles join the glorious throng And prophets swell th’immortal song Thy martyrs’ noble army raise Eternal anthems to thy praise Eternal anthems to thy praise From day to day O Lord, do we Exalt and highly honor thee! Thy name we worship and adore World without end for evermore World without end for evermore. [1]
What a hymn! Do you see the wonderful, glorious, exalting, and breath-taking progression? The hymn begins with all of us who know the Lord praising Him! It then moves to include the angels in heaven who nigh and day praise our glorious, thrice holy God. The apostles who are all now in heaven, from Peter to Paul are joined with saints and angels in this praise. Then back to us who from day to day exalt and highly honor him! His name we worship and adore!
[1] Moravian collection, 1724 & arranged by Frederick M. A. Venua, 1810, The Trinity Hymnal, Baptist Edition, (Suwanee: Great Commission Publications), hymn # 18

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Edwards!

Today marks the birthday of one of the premier American theologians of all times; Jonathan Edwards. He was born on October 5, 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut. There is no doubt that Edwards was used by God to make a tremendous mark in Christianity and Christian thinking. He was more than a giant among men. As you read of him you soon discover that he almost never stopped thinking. When he wasn’t thinking he wrote down almost everything he came across for future reference. From many of the journals, writings, and pages several classics were born that continue to endure the test of time and influences the spiritual life of the church today. Among those classics are The Religious Affections, The Freedom of the Will, and The Nature of True Virtue, Charity and its Fruits, and "The End For Which God created the World". Many, of course, no him for his most famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." I didn’t want this day to go by without making mention of this great man of God who has had such great a influence on me. I will certainly take a moment and thank God for this remarkable man whom God called one day into his salvation, his service, and finally into his sphere. I do not mean to “deify” Edwards, but I have come to love and appreciate him very much as a gift from God to the body of Christ and I simply desire to render respect and honor where respect and honor is due. Let me share with you what others have said about this great man… “That good and sensible man…that great man” (John Wesley) “Mr. Edwards is a solid, excellent Christian…I think I have not seen his fellow in all New England.” (George Whitefield) “The profoundest reasoner, and the greatest divine, in my opinion, that America ever produced.” (Samuel Davies) “He was, in the estimation of the writer, one of the most holy, humble and heavenly minded men, that the world has ever seen, since the apostolic age.” (Ashbell Green)
“The British Isles have produced no such writers on divinity in the eighteenth century as Dickinson and Edwards.” ( John Erskine) “The greatest, wisest, humblest and holiest of uninspired men.” (A note in John C. Ryland’s copy of Hopkins Life of Edwards) “No man is more relevant to the present condition of Christianity than Jonathan Edwards…He was a mighty theologian and a great evangelist at the same time…He was pre-eminently the theologian of revival. If you want to know anything about true revival, Edwards is the man to consult. Revivals have often started as the result of people reading volumes such as these volumes of Edwards works.” (D. Martin Lloyd-Jones)
“Holy, humble, and a rare lover of God and his glory…Edwards promoted God’s glory and heavenly character as no other in his time.” (Gregg Metcalf)
What Do You Think?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Recovering the Gospel - Part II

Again, this preface is by J. I. Packer in the The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I present it to you for your consideration for a number of reasons, among which I think that as some one once said, "it is worth the price of the book alone."
I also am spending quite some time reflecting and meditating on the gospel as it applies to my everyday life. Murray Brett challenged me in his book Growing Up in Grace in chapter nine where he wrote the chapter entitled, "A Catalogue of Sins Seldom Confessed or Repented Of." He listed quite a number of sins, more than I care to reflect on, and in his first section of sins, which he entitled Sins Related To Not Ordering My Life According to the Gospel, he listed this sin:
"not seeking the practical knowledge and experience of the mystery of the gospel."
This has made me stop and think. How have I sought the practical knowledge or understanding and the practical application of the gospel in my life? I confess I haven't given it much thought along those lines. However, now I am trying to find some time each day in order to reflect on the gospel and its practical application in my daily life.
This reason caused me to think of Packer's preface. I want to share it with you. Many have no dbout seen this preface and read it and have reveled in it. In the small chance you haven't I offered a second portion of it in this post for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
"From this change of interest has sprung a change of content, for the new gospel has in effect reformulated the biblical message in the supposed interests of 'helpfulness'. Accordingly, the themes of man's natural inability to believe, of God's free election being the ultimate cause of salvation, and of Christ dying specifically for his sheep are not preached. These doctrines, it would be said, are not 'helpful'; they would drive sinners to despair, by suggesting to them that it is not in their own power to be saved through Christ. (The possibility that such despair might be salutary is not considered: it is taken for granted that it cannot be, because it is so shattering to our self-esteem.) However this may be (and we shall say more about it later), the result of these omissions is that part of the biblical gospel is now preached as if it were the whole of that gospel; and a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth. Thus, we appeal to men as if they all had the ability to receive Christ at any time; we speak of his redeeming work as if he had make it possible for us to save ourselves by believing; we speak of God's love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence 'at the door of our hearts' for us to let them in.
It is undeniable that this is how we preach; perhaps this is what we really believe. But it needs to be said with emphasis that this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel. The Bible is against us when we preach in this way; and the fact that such preaching has become almost standard practice among us only shows how urgent it is that we should review this matter. To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need. And it is at this point that Owen's treatise on redemption can give us help.
'But wait a minute,' says someone, 'it's all very well to talk like this about the gospel; but surely what Owen is doing is defending limited atonement - one of the five points of Calvinism? When you speak of recovering the gospel, don't you mean that you just want us all to become Calvinists?'
These questions are worth considering, for they will no doubt occur to many. At the same time, however, they are questions that reflect a great deal of prejudice and ignorance. 'Defending limited atonement' - as if this was all that a Reformed theologian expounding the heart of the gospel could ever really want to do! 'You just want us all to become Calvinists' - as if Reformed theologians had no interest beyond recruiting for their party, and as if becoming a Calvinist was the last stage of theological depravity, and had nothing to do with the gospel at all! Before we answer these questions directly, we must try to remove the prejudices which underlie them by making clear what Calvinism really is; and therefore we would ask the reader to take note of the following facts, historical and theological, about Calvinism in general and the 'five points' in particular.
First, is should be observed that the 'five points of Calvinism,' so-called, are simply the Calvinistic answer to a five-point manifesto (the Remonstrance) put out by certain 'Belgic semi-Pelagians'
1 in the early seventeenth century. The theology which it contained (known to history as Arminianism) stemmed from two philosophical principles: first, that divine sovereignty is not compatible with human freedom, nor therefore with human responsibility; second, that ability limits obligation. (The charge of semi-Pelagianism was thus fully justified.) From these principles, the Arminians drew two deductions: first, that since the Bible regards faith as a free and responsible human act, it cannot be caused by God, but is exercised independently of him; second, that since the Bible regards faith as obligatory on the part of all who hear the gospel, ability to believe must be universal. Hence, they maintained, Scripture must be interpreted as teaching the following positions:
Man is never so completely corrupted by sin that he cannot savingly believe the gospel when it is put before him, nor is he ever so completely controlled by God that he cannot reject it. God's election of those who shall be saved is prompted by his foreseeing that they will of their own accord believe.
Christ's death did not ensure the salvation of anyone, for it did not secure the gift of faith to anyone (there is no such gift): what it did was rather to create a possibility of salvation for everyone if they believe.
It rests with believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith; those who fail here fall away and are lost. Thus, Arminianism made man's salvation depend ultimately on man himself, saving faith being viewed throughout as man's own work and, because his own, not God's in him.
The Synod of Dort was convened in l618 to pronounce on this theology, and the 'five points of Calvinism' represent its counter-affirmations. They stem from a very different principle - the biblical principle that 'salvation is of the Lord';
2 and they may be summarized thus:
Fallen man in his natural state lacks all power to believe the gospel, just as he lacks all power to believe the law, despite all external inducements that may be extended to him.
God's election is a free, sovereign, unconditional choice of sinners, as sinners, to be redeemed by Christ, given faith, and brought to glory.
The redeeming work of Christ had as its end and goal the salvation of the elect. The work of the Holy Spirit in bringing men to faith never fails to achieve its object.
Believers are kept in faith and grace by the unconquerable power of God till they come to glory. These five points are conveniently denoted by the mnemonic TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Preservation of the saints."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Recovering the Gospel - Part I

I have recently finished reading two outstanding books, the first is Milton Vincent's A Gospel Primer for Christians, and Murray Brett's Growing Up in Grace. I am have also just begun the Prologue in John chapter one in my Adult Bible Class called the Sojourners. I am also preparing a message to deliver to the entire church body in a couple of weeks as I fill in for our pastor who will be gone one Lord's Day. I am bringing a message from Romans chapter one called the Prize of the Gospel - God Himself.
Anticipating John chapters three and John six I have decided to re-read John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. As I re-read this book I am drawn to and captivated by the preface by J. I. Packer. Some one once said that this is worth the price of the book alone and I fully agree. The preface is awesome and priceless.
I am convinced that each generation must redefine the gospel. No, not redefine it in the sense of changing the gospel by adding to or by taking away any core element. Each generation must wrest it back from those who would change it by diluting it, diverting it, or by changing it in the hopes of making it more palatable for the masses to accept.
So, as I contemplate the gospel both for my own life and the lives of those in my Adult Bible Class, and prepare for this up and coming message I want to share with you the preface of J. I. Packer from the reprint of Owen's book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I will deliver it in about six or seven parts since it is so long and complex. I hope you will take the time to chew on it, suck out the flavor, and digest the rich nutrients offered by this august servant of God. I offer you part one:
There is no doubt that Evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor's dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction with things as they are and of equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead.
This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel. Without realizing it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty.
The new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church. Why? We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God–centered in their thoughts and God–fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do.
One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be "helpful" to man––to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction––and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was "helpful," too––more so, indeed, than is the new––but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God.
It was always and essentially a proclamation of Divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on Whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its center of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the center of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not.
Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and His ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.
To be continued... (What do you think?)

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Way Up is the Way Down!

Here is a prayer from one of my favorite prayer books called Valley of Vision A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, published by the Banner of Truth Trust. I am sure many of you are familiar with both this book and the concept of paradox.
It is amazing that our lives of faith are truly designed, sustained, maintained, and driven by these principles or paradoxes. Of course the world thinks they are absolutely without any merit and that we are fools. Well, I admit it, I am a fool for Christ. Anyways, enjoy this prayer. If you haven't come across it yet, take some time to meditate on it. I would encourage you to add it to your devotion, this is great truth for the soul of a Gospel Driven Disciple!
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou has brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; hemmed in my mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox:
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
I pray this often as I look around and see the valley walls that seem to moving in on me. I appreciate all of you who are praying during this time of unemployment as I seek the Lord's will. I get great comfort from this prayer, of course more so from the God who answers this prayer. May it bless you always!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Top Ten Prayer Requests for Spiritual Growth

I was thumbing through my "prayer book" today and I came across my top ten list of things I pray for in order to seek spiritual growth. This list will almost never make the Dave Letterman Show's Top Ten, but I hope it can be of some benefit to some one. I offer it in no order of importance.
Sometimes I just sit quietly during my devotional time and meditate on one of these requests. I sometimes look up Scripture that addresses each one. I realize that in these areas I need to continue to grow. So, I pray and ask God for his mercy and assistance in order:
1. To properly worship and adore God
2. To discern His will for my life and not my own
3. To fully understand your word with insight beyond my ability
4. To be obedient to God without hesitation, question, or fear
5. To serve God with the gift that He has mercifully given me
6. To fully appreciate my redemption by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ
7. To fear God with a reverence and respect that is worthy of Him
8. To hope for all things in His mercy alone
9. To learn to truly wait upon God in all things
10. To resist and refuse temptation in His strength and power for His glory
What do you think?