Saturday, December 28, 2013

Preaching on the Incarnation

In preaching on the incarnation, which many of us preach on during the Christmas season, it is too easy to emphasize the fact that Christ was fully God, and ignore the fact that Christ was fully man as well.  Many times we as preachers tend to dwell on the fact of His deity, and never mention His humanity, which was just as great a necessity for Him as our Savior as was His deity. He had to be both human and Divine.

In the incarnation, in the person of Christ, we have the mystery of the fullness of deity in bodily form, the Word becoming flesh and being made in the likeness of men, Christ being fully God and fully man, two natures sharing one body in full harmony and unity.  So, in the Scriptures, when Christ speaks He does not speak as God sometimes and man at others.  When Christ acts, He does not act as God sometimes and man at others.  He speaks and acts as both God and man simultaneously.  His two natures are never divorced from one another and never act independently of one another.  So whatever He does…all that He did, He did as both God and man.  

So in our preaching on the incarnation, let us remember and endeavor to present Him in the fullness of His being, as being, living, existing, speaking, thinking, and acting as both God and man.  This is why He is the pivot point of all of history, and why, truly, there is no one like Him.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christ, Our Perfection and Perfecter

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with
our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things
as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things
to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the 
same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year,
make perfect those who draw near...For by one offering
He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:1, 14

and in Him you have been made complete...
Colossians 2:10a

He was perfect so we could be perfected.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christ, Our Christmas Focus

When we focus on Christ, He always
enriches our spirit and enlarges our heart.

May He be your focus this Christmas, 
not just for the day, but for the season
and beyond.

May your thoughts be occupied with 
the greatness of His deity,
the grandeur of His majesty,
the mystery of His humanity,
the magnificence of His humility,
and the blessing of His charity.

May your spirit sing and your heart rejoice.
May thanksgiving flood your soul.

May your salvation taste sweet, 
  your Savior be near, and your praise
fill the air.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Pastors, Be Bold

Fellow Pastors, brother Pastors, let us not be concerned this week about being bold leaders, but let us be concerned about being bold preachers.  Let us not be concerned with pleasing men with our preaching, but let our concern be pleasing Him, the Lord Jesus Christ-the Head of the Church-the Alpha and Omega-the One before whose judgment seat we will stand.  Let us not preach with the fear of men on our mind, but let us preach with the fear of the Lord in our heart.  After all, the Lord is our greatest and ultimate audience.  

Let us remember that preaching is leading.  It is the setting out of the word of God which reveals the will of God, which is to be followed by those under its hearing.  It not only reveals the path the Lord wants us to follow, but also reveals the way we are to walk on that path.  

True leadership in the church is spiritual leadership, and the way to lead spiritually is with the Word of God.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

God and the Humble Man

This post is a compilation of some previous posts on the humble man, and some sermon notes from when I preached through Philippians 2:3-10.

In chapter two of Philippians we are told that we are to possess a humility of mind, and then we are given the example of the humility possessed by our Savior, Master, and Leader.  The Greek word for humility of mind is tapeinophrosune.  This word means to be lowly or humble.  It is a lowliness of mind, a state of mind that esteems itself small. It is a state of mind that has a correct estimation of itself before God, it is a state of mind that regards itself as insignificant before God and before others.  It is modest.  The way it is used in its context here means we are to responsible for our possession of this state of mind.  

Another way for us to paint a picture humility is to understand that it is the polar opposite of pride and arrogance, it is the polar opposite of boasting, it is the polar opposite of selfishness and empty conceit. 

In us getting our mind right, we must understand that pride doesn’t just exalt itself against others, but always and ultimately exalts itself against God as all sin is always against God. In the Scriptures, you never see the term humble used to describe the wicked, but you will always see pride associated with wickedness. Let's look at a couple of verses that reveal to us what God thinks about the pride of man. 

Isaiah 2:12, 17 For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased.  The pride of man will be humbled and the loftiness of man will be abased; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
Isaiah 13:11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the wicked….
In Proverbs 6:16 there are seven things listed that God hates, that are an abomination to Him, and the first on the list is haughty eyes.

What we see from the Scriptures is that God hates pride, but values humility.
Micah 6:8 He has told you, O Man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Zephaniah 2:3 Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, seek righteousness seek humility.

So let us consider together why the Lord values the humble man so much, and why humility is esteemed in the eyes of God.

The humble man knows his place before God and before men.

                                         Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,
but with humility of mind regard one another
as more important than yourselves.  Do not
merely look out for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them,
"If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all
and servant of all."
Mark 9:35

The Job answered the Lord, and said,
"I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Your can be thwarted.
Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my
eyes see You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes."
Job 42:1-6

But now God has placed the members, each one of them,
in the body, just as He desired.
I Corinthians 12:18

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against His mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Psalm 131:1-2

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves 
that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else:
"Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee
 and the other a tax collector.  the Pharisee took his stand and
 was praying like this: 'God, I thank You that I'm not like other
people--greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax
collector.  I fast twice a week, I give a tenth of everything I get.'
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise
his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest saying, 'God, turn
Your wrath from me--a sinner!'  I tell you, this one went down
to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone
who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles
himself will be exalted.
Luke 18:9-14

                                                The humble man is a reverent man.

"For My hand made all these things,
Thus, all these things came into being,"
declares, the Lord.
But to this one I will look, to him who
is humble and contrite of spirit,
and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:2

 Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon
your bed and be still.
Psalm 4:4

But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness
I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple
I will bow in reverence for You.
Psalm 5:7

  and My people who are
Called by My name humble themselves and
pray and seek My face and turn from their
wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven,
will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14  

The humble man is a teachable man.

Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may observe
Your law and keep it with all my heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your
Commandments for I delight in it.
Establish Your word to Your servant
As that which produces reverence for You.

You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word.
Psalm 119:18, 33-35, 38, 65

The humble man is a contrite man.

"For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,"
declares the Lord.
But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite
of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:2

Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter
Be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord,
And He will exalt you.
James 4:9-10

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God
produces a repentance without regret, leading to
salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow,
has produced in you:  what vindication of yourselves, what
indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging
of wrong!  In everything you demonstrated yourselves
innocent in the matter.
II Corinthians 7:10-11

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God,
You will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

The humble man is a worshipping man.

But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness
I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple
I will bow in reverence for You.
Psalm 5:7

For a day in Your courts is better
than a thousand outside.
Psalm 84:10a

"If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny himself, take up his cross
daily, and follow Me."
Luke 9:23

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.
Psalm 51:17a

                                                   Come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
Psalm 95:6

Exalt the Lord our God and worship at
His footstool; holy is He.
Psalm 99:5

The humble man is an obedient man.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also
in Christ Jesus...Being found in appearance as man,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point
of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5, 8

Submit therefore to God.
James 4:7a

…He became to all who obey Him,
The source of eternal salvation.
Hebrews 7:9

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand
of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.
I Peter 5:6

Samuel said, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt
offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."
I Samuel 15:22

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"
Luke 6:46

The humble man is a wise man.

"For My hand made all these things, thus all these
things came into being," declares the Lord.
"But to this one I will look, to him who is humble
and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word."
Isaiah 66:2

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7

When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men
but as wise, making the most of your time, because the
days are evil.  So then do not be foolish, but understand
what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17

Who among you is wise and understanding?  Let him
show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness
of wisdom...But the wisdom from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and
good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.  And the
seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace
by those who make peace.
James 3:13, 17-18

The humble man is an empowered man.

For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being, declares the Lord.
But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and
Contrite in spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:2

For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
"I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 57:15

                                         But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says,
"God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
James 4:6

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore,
I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so the the power
of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with
weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions,
with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
II Corinthians 12:9-10

...whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving
by the strength which God supplies...
I Peter 4:11b

...God is opposed to the proud, 
but gives grace to the humble.
For though the Lord is exalted,
yet He regards the lowly, but 
the haughty He knows from afar.
James 4:6, Psalm 138:6

The humble man is a blessed man.

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches, honor and life.
Proverbs 22:4

But the one who looks intently at the perfect law,
 the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having
become a forgetful hearer, but an effectual doer,
this man will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:25

Blessed are the humble, for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5

But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
Psalm 37:11

 The humble man will be an exalted man

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand
of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.
I Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord,
And He will exalt you.
James 4:10

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
And he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Luke 14:11

Here are ten things the Bible teaches us about pride and humility:

  1. Pride ultimately exalts itself over God, and humility ultimately makes itself low before God.  
  2. Pride pushes God away, while humility draws near to God.  
  3. Pride depends on itself, while humility depends on God.  
  4. Pride boasts in itself, while humility boasts in God.  
  5. Pride credits itself, while humility credits God. 
  6. Pride follows its own path, while humility follows God's path.  
  7. Pride is self-seeking, while humility is God-seeking.  
  8. Pride always leads to disobedience, while humility always leads to obedience.  
  9. Pride is the opposite of godliness, while humility promotes godliness. 
10. The proud will be destroyed from the earth, while the humble will inherit the earth.

So, my friends, let us follow the admonition of the following verses:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
Philippians 2:5

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Eternal Significance of the Ordinary Day

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, 
as for the Lord rather than for men.
Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all
  in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
 through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever
 you do, do all to the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31

Remembering these verses helps keep the dailiness and the ordinariness of our lives in perspective, eternal perspective.  God expects us to work, speak, eat, drink, and do all things (all the mundane and repetitive activities of daily living) in the name of His Son, for Him, and for His glory.  This gives a vital importance to the "every day" of our lives. This says that there are no wasted days, no unimportant days, no wasted or unimportant words, no wasted or unimportant activities in the seemingly unnoticed ordinariness of our lives.

Oh, BUT, when you keep these commands, when you consider why these commands were given, and that they culminate in bringing glory to our great God, and His great Son...well then, life takes on a different meaning and we begin to view our life differently.  

When we follow these commands then we begin to understand that our life, no matter how insignificant it may seem cannot, let me repeat, CANNOT be meaningless.  In fact, these verses scream that our life does have meaning, even down to the smallest and most insignificant thing we do.  Additionally, this also shows us that each and every day of our life has value in the eternal plan and purpose of God.

The "whatever you do" in these verses encompasses everything we find ourselves involved in.  So our life becomes a theater for our honoring the Lord with our speech, our eating, drinking, and doing; and thus, He is glorified in our living out our ordinary lives.

Now, when we grasp the concept of God's sovereignty over all of life (Psalm 103:19), it enables us to see His Divine providence in ordaining our very steps (Proverbs 20:24), even to the extent that He delights in the very way He has decreed for us (Psalm 37:23); we then see that for those who have turned to the Lord to follow Him in all His ways, each day, with all its attendant activities, has value in God's eternal plan and purpose because it is used to display His worth and glory as we live it for Him; and if its has value, even though it seems so ordinary and mundane to us, in God's plan it is significant.

So what does this mean?  It means that if you are a Mom, be a Mom to the glory of God.  If you are a secretary, be a secretary to the glory of God.  If you are a salesman, be a salesman to the glory of God.  If you are a coach, coach to the glory of God.  If you are an executive, be an executive to the glory of God.  If you are retired, be retired for the glory of God. If you fish or hunt, fish or hunt to the glory of God. When you play golf, play golf to the glory of God.

You see, there really are no "ordinary" days as we would view ordinary, but each day brims with opportunity to bring glory to the Lord, as that is how He has ordained it. Friends, let us look at each day in our life, as a day ordained by the Lord, therefore significant in His eternal plan...and therefore so are we!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Prayer for Today

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Father, protect me from a greedy and hoarding heart, but instead give me a heart that is rich toward you, knowing that my life is about more than my possessions (Luke 12:16-21).  Cause me to always acknowledge that it is you that has given me the power to make wealth and not myself (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).  It is You that has commanded the blessing (Deuteronomy 28:8), and all things are from Your hand (I Chronicles 29:12-14).

Lord, move in my heart so that I will be a faithful and trustworthy steward with all You have given (I Corinthians 4:2); and with the confidence that no matter my circumstances You will always make Your grace abound towards me, so that I will have an abundance for every good deed (II Corinthians 9:8).   Grant to me a life that is free from the love of money (I Timothy 6:9-10), but instead a life that is content with what it receives from Your hand (Philippians 4:11-13, I Timothy 6:6-8).  

Set me free from covetousness, and may all my prayers be prayers guided by right motives (James 4:3).

Guard my heart this day, O Lord, guard my heart.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Our Mind and the Truth

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence 
and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The things you have learned and received and heard 
and seen in me, practice these things and the God
of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

"An old subject is thus brought before us again:  the cardinal place occupied by the Christian's mind, for good as well as for ill.  Just as a carnal mind is the surest passport to the downward path, so a mind drilled in the things of which God approves is the steadiest way into practical holiness.  If, in a difficult relationship (1), we allow our minds and judgment to be clouded by half-truth, or if we allow frivolous and damaging thoughts about the other person (2) to simmer in our minds, we are hardly being like Christ.  We should rather determine to think only the truth about the other person (2), to value what is attractive and praiseworthy about him.  This will prove to be the way of peace.

We are to meditate on, to prize as valuable, and to be influenced by all that is true, all that merits serious thought and encourages serious-mindedness, all that accords with justice and moral purity, all that is fragrant and lovely, all that brings with it a good word, that speaks well, what ever has genuine worth of any sort and merits praise.  It is the will of God that by giving attention to things of which he approves we should shape our minds to be like his:  to those who do so, he pledges his guardian peace and his own presence as the God of peace."

Alec Motyer
The Message of Philippians
Page 212

The italics above are mine, and for #1 you could substitute situation or circumstance; and for #2 you could substitute the Lord.

Philippians 4:8 is a powerful verse.  It is one of  the verses that should be required memorization for every Christian.  It is the verse that both guards and shapes our mind.  Proverbs 23:7 tells us, "As a man thinks within himself, so he is."  And how we think within ourselves should be guarded and shaped by Philippians 4:8.  

For this post there are two things I would like for us to take note of in this verse:

First is the word dwell (think in the ESV).  The Lord could have used the two most common Greek words for think, phroneo or dokeo, but He didn't.  Instead He used the word logizomai.   This word means more than just having an opinion or giving acknowledgment.   It means to give careful consideration, to make a reasoned reflection, to be circumspect about.  It implies deliberateness and seriousness.  As it is used here, logizomai is also in the present tense and imperative mood, which means it is a permanent command to the point that these qualities are to be the habitual focus of our mind; and then these qualities, qualities of which God approves, will guard and shape our mind.      

Second, is the word truth.  This word is the first word in this list of eight things which our minds are to be dwelling upon.  The primary, most important, first and foremost thing which we are to give careful consideration to is the truth.  Truth is to be the gatekeeper of our mind, and the main shaper of our thoughts. All the other qualities that we are to let our mind dwell on should always be subject to the truth.  Truth is the best thing we can know, and the most reliable and powerful thing we can reflect upon.  

The most important, most reliable, and most powerful truth we can know, and therefore dwell upon is the truth about God.  How we think about God and what we think about God greatly affect our life, and how we respond to all the different situations we find ourselves in is based in large part on our view of God, and our view of God is shaped by what we know about God.  So knowing the truth about God is paramount.

The second most important truth we can know, is the truth about ourselves.  It is against the backdrop and in light of the truth about God that we gain insight into the truth about ourselves, and in knowing the truth about ourselves we begin to see ourselves as God sees us. We see our life and all of its dynamics from God's viewpoint.  We see our motives, our reactions, our plans, our thoughts and desires from God's vantage point, and we began to view ourselves in light of the truth that we know about God.  Of course this truth was realized, brought to full view and manifested thoroughly, in Jesus Christ (John 1:17) because He is the embodiment of the truth (John 14:6).

Where can we go to find this truth?  Why, of course, we go to the word of God, which is truth (John 17:17), and speaks the truth concerning every subject it touches (Psalm 119:160).  The truth which should guard our mind and shape our thoughts is found in the Scriptures, and is the Scriptures themselves, as the Bible does not contain the truth, but is the truth.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  Our mind is renewed (continually made new) as we grow in knowledge of the truth.  In John 8:32, Christ tells us that in knowing the truth we shall be set free.  Starting with salvation, there are a myriad of applications in this verse, but the base line is that we shall be set free from the shackles of the lies of the enemy, the lies of the world, and the lies of our flesh. These are the lies we have been believing for most of our life, lies that have shaped our thoughts and governed the course of our life, lies that have made our lives miserable, lies that have separated us from God and from others, lies that our unredeemed flesh still wants to cling to.

So, it is imperative that we know the truth, and not just know the truth but continually reflect upon all that we know to be true, to give deliberate, serious, and careful consideration to what we know to be true.  As we do this, our knowledge of the truth, what is true about God, ourselves, and life will grow; and as we engage our minds on the things we know to be true, our mind will be guarded from what is false...the lies of the enemy, the world, and our flesh...and our mind will be trained and shaped.

The result is peace and the abiding presence, the powerful presence, the protecting presence, the peaceful presence of the Lord of the universe, who Himself, is the God of peace.

Friends, let us determine today, and pray today for strength, wisdom, and discernment in the things that are true, so that our minds will be fixed upon only that which is true, so we will be people of the truth.  In doing this we will be set free, and have the peace that surpasses all human comprehension.  


Monday, December 02, 2013

Truly Radical Church Membership

As a follow up to my post on being truly radical.  Here is a post from Theologically Driven that talks about the necessity of regenerate church membership....a radical concept in today's church.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Being Truly Radical

Radical, as defined in Merriam-Webster, means something that is very different from what is normal or traditional, and its synonym is extreme.  Personally, from the standpoint of the church, I think the term radical is worn out, over-used, and, in fact, misused and misapplied. The Christian life is radical…a radical departure from the life we used to live, the way we used to be, the habits and appetites we used to have, and the way we used to think. The whole of the Christian life is radical, because we have been set apart from sin unto God. In fact, it is radical because it is so different from the way in which the world lives and thinks. Therefore, the living out of a truly Christian life is radical in and of itself, we don’t have to make it radical. But because of the shallowness of evangelicals, and the tare-ridden condition of the churches, there is a misconception of what a true Christian is and how a true Christian lives…so the call to be radical has become a new mantra, when, in fact, the call should be to live and act as a true Christian.

The early Christians, and true Christians in all ages, have always lived in a manner radically different from their culture because they have been freed from sin and made alive in Christ.  Because the church in the West has been deceived into believing that it is to be a place to entice unbelievers instead of a worshiping gathering of believers, the life and witness of the church has been watered down, its expectations lowered, its demands softened, the purpose of its preaching changed, its call to sacrificial living derided, and its call to holiness ignored. By its becoming more like the culture that surrounds it because of all the unbelievers in its midst, the church has lost is saltiness and dimmed its light, and what has been termed nominal or carnal Christianity has become the accepted norm (However, there is no biblical precedent for either).  So the call to be radical has gone out. 

Friends, we don't need to live the radical Christian life, we just need to live the real Christian life...a biblical Christian life, the life of a living sacrifice for the Lord that true love prompts.  This will be radical, radical not only to the church at large, but also to the culture around us.  This will give the church a distinctive presence that will be truly different from what is considered normal, not only in our society, but in the church at large as well.  With all due respect to Francis Chan and David Platt, we don't need Crazy Love, or to be Radical, we need the preaching of the Word, the preaching of Christ, the preaching of the Gospel.  When those in the church are those who are truly saved, and those who are saved are strengthened in their faith, then we will see a truly radical church as it assumes more and more the identity of Christ.

So, in a sense, what we need in the church is radical preaching and radical expectations of what biblical preaching is.  We need preaching that is different from what is now considered the norm, preaching that confronts, cajoles, and commands (Sorry, Steven Furtick, this is not you).   However, this is what the Word does when preached correctly, expositorally. For this to take place, the Word must be preached without fear, the fear of man, but full of the fear of the Lord; for the church is not the primary or ultimate audience, but the Lord is.  

Let us pledge today to live a truly Christian life, and to faithfully preach the Word, and work to do just that.  For to do this is to be truly radical in our day and age.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vessels for Glory

but so that the world may know
that I love the Father, I do 
exactly as the Father has 
commanded Me.  Get up
let us go from here.
John 14:31
(The words of Jesus as He led
His disciples from the upper room
to the Garden of Gethsemane to 
be betrayed.)

I glorified You on the earth,
having accomplished the work
which You have given me to do.
John 17:4
(From the prayer of Jesus the Christ
in the garden of Gethsemane.)

The accomplishment of God's purposes
bring Him glory.  So when His purpose
is accomplished in your life you are
a vessel that brings glory to Him.

When we pray, "Your will be done on
earth as it is in heaven," we are not 
praying for His will to be done in a
vague and general way, but for His
will to be done in a very specific way,
starting with our very lives.  Our submitting
to His will in our life (doing exactly as our 
Father has commanded) accomplishes His 
work which He has given us to do, which then
accomplishes His purposes in our life, and
the result is that He is glorified.  

For we are His workmanship, created in
Jesus Christ for good works, which God
prepared beforehand so that we would
walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, rejoice.
Philippians 4:4 

In the Greek, this word rejoice is a present active imperative, which means it is an ongoing command, one to which is to be carried out continually, and is one of a list of commands that Paul gives in the first nine verses of this chapter.  And, for obvious good measure, Paul couples this command with the word always, so that we see for sure that there is to never be a time when we are not to be rejoicing.  Along with this I do not believe that it is an accident that Paul gives this command on the heels of reminding the Philippians about the book of life in verse three.  What comes to mind immediately is the command of our Lord  to his disciples in Luke 10:20...but rejoice that your names are written in the book of life.  Here He was telling the disciples that their rejoicing should be in their salvation, its surety and security.

As Christians, our greatest joy should be our salvation, and it should override and overcome any and all circumstances in life.  Our joy in our salvation, in our eternal standing in the Lord should always be our greatest joy, and we should exult in our salvation above all else.  As a result, we should be more thankful for our salvation than anything else, and the fact of our salvation should be both the foundation and the fountainhead of all of our praise.  In Hebrews it is called a "so great salvation" and, indeed, it is just that. The Scripture tells us we are to make melody in our hearts to the Lord, and if you read through the Psalms you will see the greatest praise and thanksgiving, the greatest rejoicing, revolves around salvation.

The circumstances of the Philippians when Paul wrote this also gives us some insight into this command to rejoice.  They were facing opposition from without that was causing suffering of the type that they had seen Paul go through when he was in Philippi (Philippians 1:27-30).  They were faced with opposition from within as there were enemies of the cross (tares) among them (Philippians 3:17-19).  They were also beset with internal bickering that was dividing the church (1:27, 2:2-4, 4:2-3).  There was much going on that would be disheartening and discouraging to this body of believers.  Which is why Paul starts of this section with the command to stand firm in the Lord.  In light of all of this, we see the command to rejoice in this verse is for them to have a thoughtful response to their circumstances, not a blitheful, ignorant, Pollyanna view, but a knowing reflection of the greatness of their eternal spiritual state in comparison to the temporal circumstances they found themselves in.

Additionally, they already have joy, joy within, through the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Joy is second on the list of the fruit of the Spirit.  It is only those who have the joy of the Lord who can truly rejoice in the Lord…in His reality, His nearness, His promises, His truth.  Again, you rejoice in Him because of all that He is and all that you have in Him.  Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, "The joy of the Lord is our strength."  Joy steadies the fainting soul, it strengthens the weak soul, it anchors the wavering soul, it gives light to the distressed soul, it soothes the anxious soul, and it bolsters the vexed soul.

However, joy is what we have, rejoicing is what we do; and rejoicing in the Lord is key in standing firm in Him. Paul also tells the Thessalonians in Chapter 5 to rejoice always.  So rejoicing is to be a state that the Christian is to live in, and a daily practice. In his commentary on Philippians Walter Hansen shares this,  “The fulfillment of all other goals in the Christian walk flows out of the practice of the rejoicing in the Lord." If you think about it, you see how true this is. I have never seen an effective Christian who was not a rejoicing Christian.

This command to rejoice was given to the Philippians in the context of suffering, in the context of opposition, in the context of less than perfect circumstances, and so we see who they are rejoice in, it is the Lord, Himself.  They are to rejoice in the Lord, not in their health, their wealth, their prosperity, their stuff, their job, their family, or their circumstances.  Their object of joy is to be the Lord, who He is and all that they have in Him, which is all wrapped up in the package of salvation.

So with this in mind let's look at why we are to rejoice in the Lord, by looking at our reasons for rejoicing. And these reasons never change, even though our circumstances do.

II Corinthians 1:20 You rejoice in Him because in Him all the promises of God are Yea and Amen.

Philippians 4:13, John 15:5  You rejoice in Him because in Him you can do all things, but apart from Him you can do nothing.

Ephesians 1:3 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.

Colossians 2:3 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I Corinthians 1:24 you rejoice in Him because He is wisdom of God and the power of God.

Colossians 2:10 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been made complete.

I Corinthians 1:30 You rejoice in Him because in Him are righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

Romans 8:1 You rejoice in Him for in Him there is no condemnation.

Ephesians 1:7 You rejoice in Him because in Him there is forgiveness of sins.

I Thessalonians 1:10 You rejoice in Him because in Him there is deliverance from the wrath to come.

Ephesians 1:10-11, I Peter 1:3-4 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have obtained an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, will not fade away, and which is reserved in heaven for you.

I Peter 1:5, 3:20-21 You rejoice in Him because in Him your salvation is protected by the power of God.

Ephesians 1:13 You rejoice in Him because in Him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Ephesians 2:13, 3:12, Hebrews 4:16 You rejoice in Him for in Him you have been brought near to the throne of grace and in Him you have bold and confident access to the Father.

II Corinthians 5:17 You rejoice in Him for in Him you have been made new.

II Corinthians 5:18 You rejoice in Him for in Him you have been reconciled to God, and are no longer God’s enemy.

Ephesians 2:22 You rejoice in Him because in Him you are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:16 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been raised up and seated in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 1:7 You rejoice in Him because in Him are all the riches of grace.

Ephesians 4:21 You rejoice in Him for truth is in Him.

John 1:4, 11:25 You rejoice in Him for in Him is life eternal.

Acts 4:12, II Timothy 2:10, Hebrews 5:9 You rejoice in Him because salvation is in Him.

John 14:9, Hebrews 1:3 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have seen the Father.

Ephesians 2:5 You rejoice in Him because in Him you have been made alive.

Galatians 2:20 You rejoice in Him for because He now lives in you.

John 16:33 You rejoice for in Him you have peace.

This rejoicing is to be a persistent rejoicing, an active rejoicing, an intentional rejoicing…not a passive, reluctant, forced rejoicing.  When we rejoice like this, in any and all circumstances, the joy of the Lord is truly our strength.

Let's rejoice today in the Lord, in all that He is, in all that He has done, in all that we have in Him. Let us rejoice in the greatness of His salvation that He has so graciously and magnanimously bestowed upon us.  For the circumstances of this life are temporal, but His salvation and all that we have in it are eternal.