Sunday, August 31, 2008

Song For Worship

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;

let the many coastlands be glad!

2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;

righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

3 Fire goes before him

and burns up his adversaries all around.

4 His lightnings light up the world;

the earth sees and trembles.

5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,

before the Lord of all the earth.

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,

and all the peoples see his glory.

7 All worshipers of images are put to shame,

who make their boast in worthless idols;

worship him, all you gods!

8 Zion hears and is glad,

and the daughters of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O Lord.

9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil!

He preserves the lives of his saints;

he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light is sown for the righteous,

and joy for the upright in heart.

12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,

and give thanks to his holy name!

Psalm 97

Take some time today to worship our great God.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Think On These Things

We are told in Romans 12:2 to not be conformed to the world, and we are told in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that we are to take every thought captive to obey Christ, but how do we do this? Paul gives us the answer (at least an important part of it) in his letter to the Philippians where he writes:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

If we want to renew our minds and bring our thought life into obedience to the Word of God, if we want to have the mind of Christ, we cannot keep feeding our minds on the stuff of the world. In this list Paul tells us what the Christian mind should be occupied with; we cannot feed our thoughts lusts and passions of the world and expect to ever have a renewed mind. And as long as we do not renew our minds we will always be conformed to the world.

So what do these words imply? John MacArthur explains this this way:
True. What is true is found in God (2 Tim. 2:25), in Christ (Eph. 4:20, 21), in the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), and in God’s Word (John 17:17). noble.[Nobel - ESV] The Greek term means “worthy of respect.” Believers are to meditate on whatever is worthy of awe and adoration, i.e., the sacred as opposed to the profane. just. This refers to what is right. The believer is to think in harmony with God’s divine standard of holiness. pure. That which is morally clean and undefiled. lovely. The Greek term means “pleasing” or “amiable.” By implication, believers are to focus on whatever is kind or gracious. of good report. [commendable - ESV] That which is highly regarded or thought well of. It refers to what is generally considered reputable in the world, such as kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.
John MacArthur - The MacArthur Study Bible
These are the things we are told to focus our minds on. The Bible teaches that the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 5:5-6). Our very salvation involves the renewing, or transforming, of our minds. This is the key to living a Godly life.

For this reason I have picked this verse, Philippians 4:8, as our memory verse for this week.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

And don't forget to keep working on our previous verses as well:

Psalm 119:11
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Hebrews 1:1-2
Joshua 24:14-15
Philippians 2:5-11

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Dangers Of The Prosperity Gospel

This is the weekly devotional sent out by Desiring God Ministries. As I read it this morning I was struck with just how on target Dr. Piper is on this subject. This is such an important topic for the church today that I decided postpone to posting this week's memory verse and post this instead today.

I will hopefully be able to post our next memory verse tomorrow, but in the mean time please take a few minutes to prayerfully read this message from Dr. Piper.

Prosperity Preaching: Deceitful and Deadly
by John Piper

When I read about prosperity-preaching churches, my response is: "If I were not on the inside of Christianity, I wouldn't want in." In other words, if this is the message of Jesus, no thank you.

Luring people to Christ to get rich is both deceitful and deadly. It's deceitful because when Jesus himself called us, he said things like: "Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). And it's deadly because the desire to be rich plunges "people into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9). So here is my plea to preachers of the gospel.

1. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that makes it harder for people to get into heaven.

Jesus said, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" His disciples were astonished, as many in the "prosperity" movement should be. So Jesus went on to raise their astonishment even higher by saying, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." They respond in disbelief: "Then who can be saved?" Jesus says, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God" (Mark 10:23-27).

My question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a ministry focus that makes it harder for people to enter heaven?

2. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that kindles suicidal desires in people.

Paul said, "There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." But then he warned against the desire to be rich. And by implication, he warned against preachers who stir up the desire to be rich instead of helping people get rid of it. He warned, "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs" (1 Timothy 6:6-10).

So my question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to develop a ministry that encourages people to pierce themselves with many pangs and plunge themselves into ruin and destruction?

3. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that encourages vulnerability to moth and rust.

Jesus warns against the effort to lay up treasures on earth. That is, he tells us to be givers, not keepers. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19).
Yes, we all keep something. But given the built-in tendency toward greed in all of us, why would we take the focus off Jesus and turn it upside down?

4. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that makes hard work a means of amassing wealth.

Paul said we should not steal. The alternative was hard work with our own hands. But the main purpose was not merely to hoard or even to have. The purpose was "to have to give." "Let him labor, working with his hands, that he may have to give to him who is in need" (Ephesians 4:28). This is not a justification for being rich in order to give more. It is a call to make more and keep less so you can give more. There is no reason why a person who makes $200,000 should live any differently from the way a person who makes $80,000 lives. Find a wartime lifestyle; cap your expenditures; then give the rest away.

Why would you want to encourage people to think that they should possess wealth in order to be a lavish giver? Why not encourage them to keep their lives more simple and be an even more lavish giver? Would that not add to their generosity a strong testimony that Christ, and not possessions, is their treasure?

5. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that promotes less faith in the promises of God to be for us what money can't be.

The reason the writer to the Hebrews tells us to be content with what we have is that the opposite implies less faith in the promises of God. He says, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

If the Bible tells us that being content with what we have honors the promise of God never to forsake us, why would we want to teach people to want to be rich?

6. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that contributes to your people being choked to death.

Jesus warns that the word of God, which is meant to give us life, can be choked off from any effectiveness by riches. He says it is like a seed that grows up among thorns that choke it to death: "They are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the . . . riches . . . of life, and their fruit does not mature" (Luke 8:14).

Why would we want to encourage people to pursue the very thing that Jesus warns will choke us to death?

7. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that takes the seasoning out of the salt and puts the light under a basket.

What is it about Christians that makes them the salt of the earth and the light of the world? It is not wealth. The desire for wealth and the pursuit of wealth tastes and looks just like the world. It does not offer the world anything different from what it already believes in. The great tragedy of prosperity-preaching is that a person does not have to be spiritually awakened in order to embrace it; one needs only to be greedy. Getting rich in the name of Jesus is not the salt of the earth or the light of the world. In this, the world simply sees a reflection of itself. And if it works, they will buy it.

The context of Jesus' saying shows us what the salt and light are. They are the joyful willingness to suffering for Christ. Here is what Jesus said, "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:11-14).

What will make the world taste (the salt) and see (the light) of Christ in us is not that we love wealth the same way they do. Rather, it will be the willingness and the ability of Christians to love others through suffering, all the while rejoicing because their reward is in heaven with Jesus. This is inexplicable on human terms. This is supernatural. But to attract people with promises of prosperity is simply natural. It is not the message of Jesus. It is not what he died to achieve.
Pastor John

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Song For Worship

Take some time out today to thank our Savior for forgiving our sin. The Bible tells us that He has removed it from us that when we repent and out our faith in Jesus; that we are made clean and we stand before God no longer clothed in the rags of our sin, but clothed in the very Righteousness of Christ.

Jesus has removed our sin as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12)!

Friday, August 22, 2008


I have a few different things to post today. None of them warrent their own post so I am just lumping them all together... Enjoy

First up, here is a new "poster" from the guys at Team Pyro This is for all of my Open Theologian friends out there (you know who you are).

Next up is a list I heard this week from and old Adrian Rodgers sermon where he told the five kinds of people who will end up in hell; these include:
  1. The out-and-out sinner -Those who know the Gospel and choose to continue in sin.
  2. The self righteous - Those who believe that they are really "good people."
  3. The procrastinator - Those who know the truth and they will get around to repentance later.
  4. The lost church member - Those who believe that church membership is enough
  5. Those who have never heard the Gospel
Think about that last one the next time you decide not to share your faith!

And finally: I had the opportunity over the last few days to listen to some excellent sermons on Romans chapters 6, 7, & 8. I highly recommend these as they address the all important issue of whether or not a Christian can sin. (the answer is yes... and no - you'll just have to listen).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Conformed To The Image Of Christ

I have been spending a lot of time here lately in the book of Romans. It seems that whatever I am studying over the past few months always seems to lead me back to Romans, so I thought this week for our memory verses I would pick something from this great epistle. As Christians we all seem to know Romans 8:28 (although we tend to misquote it), but we usually ignore the verses immediately following this verse. Romans 8:28 says:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
We normally hear this quoted like this: "All things work together for good" but this completely misses the context of this verse and the great promise that we are given here.

In this verse we have a promise from God that everything that happens to His children (and note that the promise is only given to His children) is being orchestrated by Him for our ultimate good.

Does this mean that everything we experience will be pleasant? No, but it will be for our good.

Does it mean that we will enjoy everything that we go through? No, but it will be for our good.

Does it mean that we will never experience pain, or loss, or grief? No, but when we do we can rest in the fact that our heavenly Father has seen fit to allow that situation to come into our lives, and He promises that it will work for our good.

And what is the good that it is working toward? We can see that in the next few verses. In God's economy it is not necessarily His will that I have a big house, that I drive an expensive car, or that I have a lot of money in my 401k. It is, however, His will that I be conformed to the image of His Son. And that is what we see in the subsequent verses.

In verse 29 we read that those whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, and then in verse 30 we see that that is exactly what will happen to "those who love God and are called according to His purpose." In this verse we read: those He predestined He also called; those He called He also justified, and those He justified He also glorified (He conformed them to the image of Christ).

So what we have here is a promise that our sovereign God is in control of every situation that we will ever encounter, and He has promised that everything we encounter in our lives is leading us toward that final outcome - becoming like His Son.

There is a lot a deep theology in these three verses (and we will get into that at a later time), but for now just rejoice in the fact that no matter what we are going through, have gone through, or will go through in the future, is being used by our Father to mold us into the likeness of Christ.

Our memory verses for this week then are:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 8:28-30

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Song For Worship

We serve a Great and Awesome God!

Spend some time today worshiping this great God.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Children, Fathers, & Young Men - 1 John 2:12-14

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
1John 2:12-14

As we return once again to our study of 1st John we come to verses 12-14 of chapter 2 where John is once again addressing his readers as little children. But in this passage he adds two more titles and he also calls them fathers and young men. Some have suggested that this is a reference to physical age, or that it is possibly a reference to the three stages of Christian maturity, but the sequence doesn't allow for that as it puts fathers as the middle term. So then what is it that John is communicating here? John Walvoord writes:
[T]hought of as “children,” the readers had experienced the forgiveness that their heavenly Father grants to His own. As “fathers,” they had an experience that touches eternity past, since they have known Him who is from the beginning. In the light of 1 John 2:3-6, this implies they have truly experienced fellowship with God. As “young men,” the readers had engaged in spiritual warfare and had overcome the evil one, Satan.
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:890). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
So if this is correct, and I see no reason to believe otherwise, then what John is writing here applies to each and everyone of us regardless of where we are in our walk with Christ.The first thing that he writes is that Christians are those who have had their sins forgiven, but notice that he writes that our sins are not forgiven for our sake but for His name's sake. This is reminiscent of what God said through the prophet Ezekiel when speaking of the New Covenant, He said :
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.
Ezekiel 36:22-23
What we see here is that God says He is going to act, to redeem Israel, not for their sake but for the sake of His holiness and to vindicate His great name and His holiness before their eyes and the eyes all nations. John is telling us the same thing here when he says that our sins are forgiven for His name's sake. God forgives our sins in order to glorify Himself and make His name great, not ours.

Next John says that a Christian is one who has come to know Him who is from the beginning; in other words, a Christian is one who knows God. This does not mean that we know about God; this is referring to an intimate and personal relationship with God. As we saw in the quote above from Dr. Walvoord, a true Christian is one who has truly experienced fellowship with God. The Greek word that is translated know here is ginó̄skō, which means to know in a complete sense. This is the same Greek word that is used in Matthew chapter 1, where we read:
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him: he took his wife, but knew (ginó̄skō) her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Matthew 1:24-25
So what we see here is that another mark of a true Christian is that they intimately know God. This is a knowledge that can only come from spending time with Him in His word and in prayer.

John then writes that true Christians are also those who have overcome the evil one. How have they overcome the evil one? In verse 14 he says that it is because they are strong and the word of God abides in them. When Jesus was tempted by the devil He fought back with the word of God (Matthew 4:1-11), Paul tells us that the word of God is our sword (Ephesians 6:17), and in the Psalms we are told that we can overcome sin by hiding Gods word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).

So what does it mean that they have overcome the evil one? Does it mean that they have become sinless? No, John has already addressed this several times (1 John 1:8, 1 John 1:10, 1 John 2:1). What this means is that the pattern of their life is moving in the direction of holiness; we overcome the evil one as we day-by-day resist him and submit our will to the will of Christ. The apostle Paul addressed this very thing in his letter to the Philippians when he wrote:
Not that I have already obtained this [resurrection from the dead - verse 11] or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14
So according to Paul this is a process; we are to forget what is behind us and move forward toward the goal and as we do this as a pattern of our life we overcome the evil one.

Now John repeats these same statements - almost word-for-word - in the next verse and a half. Scholars disagree on why he might have done this, but my opinion is that he repeated this for emphasis; this is important and John wants us to get it.

What then can we take away from these few verses? That in Christ our sins are forgiven. That our sins are not forgiven for anything that we did, but that we are forgiven for the sake of God's holy name. That as we grow in the word we are able to overcome the evil one and move in the direction of holiness in our lives. And finally, that we can know our heavenly Father in an intimate way as we spend time with Him in prayer and the reading of His word.

This is a wonderful passage; take some time today, reread these verses and meditate on the truths that they present and the blessings that we have in Christ.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More On The ESV Study Bible

Here is a short video just posted yesterday that outlines some of the features of the ESV Study Bible, which is due to be released on October 15th.

This is actually more exciting to me than the release of a new video game counsel. Where do I get in line?

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Exalted Name Of Jesus

Here is an excerpt from the 1890 book, In Green Pastures by J.R. Miller. I thought this quote was appropriate as we continue memorizing this week in Philippians chapter 2. We began last week to commit to memory Philippians 2:5-8 where we learn that our attitude is to be like the attitude of Christ, and then we see what that attitude looks like. In this excerpt we see that if we are to become like Jesus we must focus our attention on Him; it is only as we gaze upon the beauty of Jesus that we will begin to see His character and attitude begin to become a part of us - we will begin to be like Him. And the more we gaze upon Him the more we will become like Him. It is in this way that we begin to think like Jesus and that we actually, as the KJV & ESV says here, let His mind be in us. Here is what J.R. Miller had to say:

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."
Hebrews 12:2

Keeping the heart upon Christ--transfigures the life. The old monks intently gazed upon the crucifix, thinking that the print of the nails would come in their hands and feet, and the thorn-scars in their brow--as they gazed.

It was but an utter fiction--yet in the fiction there is a spiritual truth. Gazing by faith upon Christ--the lines of His beauty indeed imprint themselves on our hearts! That is the meaning of Paul's words--"We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord--are transformed into the same image!"

The gospel is the mirror. There we see the image of Christ. If we earnestly, continuously, and lovingly behold it--the effect will be the changing of our own lives into His likeness. The transformation is wrought by the Holy Spirit, and we are only to behold, to continue beholding, the blessed beauty! As we sit before Christ--His image is imprinted on our soul.
So take some time today - and every day - to sit before Christ and just behold Him. And here then are our memory verses for this week:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Attitude Of Christ

In Philippians 2:5 we are told that we are to have the attitude of Christ; the NASB says, Have this attitude in yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus. The next several verses then go on to describe what this attitude looks like, it says (still from the NASB):
who, although He existed in the in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(verses 6-8)
So the attitude of Christ is to be a humble servant, to put the greater need of others before your own needs, and to obey God to the point of death if necessary, but how do we develop this attitude in ourselves?

The answer is given in the following verses; look specifically at verse 13, which says, "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." And back in chapter 1 we read, "... He who began a good work in you will perfect it (ESV, bring it to completion) until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6). So the way we get this attitude is through obedience submission, and surrender to God.

I encourage you to take some time today to get alone with God and spend some time in prayer asking Him to reveal any area in your life where you have not surrendered or where you are not obeying and submit to His authority. As you do He will complete the work that He has begun in you and you will find that day by day you are becoming more and more like Jesus.

And let's take this passage as our memory verses for this week:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
Philippians 2:5-8 (NASB)
Next week will will tackle the rest of this passage

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Song For Worship

Our God is Indescribable:

Take some time out today to get alone and worship our Amazing God.

Friday, August 1, 2008

How To Be A Miserable Christian

Here is a Top Ten list I head the other day on Way of the Master Radio for how to be a miserable Christian:

10. Try to repay Jesus for the cross
9. Neglect the Bible
8. Neglect prayer
7. Be selfish with your time, talents, possessions, and money
6. Go to a church that doesn't preach the word
5. Resist Biblical correction
4. Neglect serving the body of Christ
3. Neglect evangelism
2. Deny the sovereignty of God

And the number one way to be a miserable Christian:

1. Think that every Christian needs to look like you