Monday, June 30, 2008

Physical Death to Life is Meant to Demonstrate Spiritual Death to Life

Yesterday morning I was able to preach at Mt. Hermon Missionary Baptist Church. I am not sure if the audio will be available or not, but I did want to draw out my conclusion here. My final point of application was that "Physical Death to Life is Meant to Demonstrate Spiritual Death to Life." Here is my point. When Jesus went into Nain in Luke 7, He demonstrated His power and authority over life and death. In His own mercy and compassion He chose to raise this widow's only son to life. This is amazing! However, this is only a picture of something more amazing. When someone is born again, it is even more amazing (and costly) than this miracle. Let me try to explain quickly. Ephesians 2 makes it abundantly clear that we are all dead in our trespasses and sins. It goes on to say that in God's mercy He made us alive together with Christ. So in truth, when we come to faith in Christ we are raised from death to life. However, when someone is raised from death to life physically (which the gospels have 3 accounts of from Jesus), it does not guarantee eternal life. There is no guarantee of forgiveness. There is no promise of God. For someone to be raised to life spiritually, Jesus had to die. As Hebrews 9:22 says, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." So it was far more costly for Jesus to raise people who are dead in their trespasses and sins than it was for Him to raise people physically. This is also far more amazing. When one is born again by the Spirit (again, His own sovereign choice), there is the promise of forgiveness and eternal life and the reward of being in the gracious presence of God forever. So physical death to life is great, but it is meant to show us that power of Christ who is able to do far more by giving people eternal life through His shed blood on the cross for sinners. He is truly a very compassionate Savior!

How to Better Love your Wife

My wife is not feeling well right now. This has caused me to contemplate a few things. First of all, I clearly recognize that men and women are different. I have no shame in stating this. I believe that God has purposefully created us differently and I praise Him for it. However, that can also be an issue at times. Since we are different, sometimes I am not sure how to better love my wife. I would love to hear some practical ways you demonstrate how you love your wife. I want to be the husband that God has ordained for me to be which means I am to love her as Christ loved the church. So what are your thoughts on how to practically live this command in Scripture out in marriage?

What is a Healthy Church Member?

This looks to be a great book. Thabiti is one that I have come to respect a great deal. I was able to hear him speak twice in the past year and half. You click on What is a Healthy Church Member to get one. I look forward to reading this book.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Compassionate Savior

In the morning I have a great privilege to preach for Justin Nale, the pastor of Mt. Hermon Missionary Baptist Church. I am going to preach on one of my favorite passages in the book of Luke which is found in Luke 7:11-17. One of the most amazing things about this passage is how it reveals the compassion of Jesus Christ. Jesus sees a woman who has lost her husband at some point (she's called a widow) and has now lost her only son. The compassionate Savior is demonstrated as He decides to raise this young man from the dead without being asked. It is His idea. He reaches out to this woman at her most desperate time and declares that He is a gracious, compassionate Savior. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Man's Great End...Through a Great Savior

This morning in my devotional time I read a prayer out of The Valley of Vision and I read from the book of Hebrews. Both were very helpful and worth sharing with others. I hope you are encouraged through the prayers of saints and the Word of God.

Lord of all being,
There is one thing that deserves my greatest care, that calls forth my ardent desires,
That is, that I may answer the great end for which I am made - to glorify thee who hast given me being, and to do all the good I can for my fellow man;
Verily, life is not worth having if it be not improved for this noble purpose.
Yet, Lord, how little is this the thought of mankind!
Most men seem to live for themselves, without much or any regard for thy glory, or for the good of others;
They earnestly desire and eagerly pursue the riches, honours, pleasures of this life, as if they supposed that wealth, greatness, merriment, could make their immortal souls happy;
But, alas, what false delusive dreams are these!
And how miserable ere long will those be that sleep in them, for all our happiness consists in loving thee, and being holy as thou art holy.
O may I never fall into the tempers and vanities, the sensuality and folly of the present world!
It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness;
Time is a moment, a vapour, and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles, fleeting blasts of wind, from which nothing satisfactory can be derived;
Give me grace always to keep in covenant with thee, and to reject as delusion a great name here or hereafter, together with all sinful pleasures and profits.
Help me to know continually that there can be no true happiness, no fulfilling of thy purpose for me, apart from a life lived in and for the Son of thy love.

So who is this Son of His love?
Hebrews 7:22-25: This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he hold his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (ESV)

Monday, June 23, 2008

How Should the Church Be? Part 5

You can see the others here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. For this fifth post I will say that the church need to be "Intentionally Unified." The church is to be made up of people from all different backgrounds with different gifts and with different personalities. Last night at our small group with Christ Baptist Church Pastor Justin Childers led us in a discussion through the book What is a Healthy Church. This is a very good small book that everyone should read. One of the points that Justin emphasized was how the gospel is displayed when a bunch of sinners who have been reconciled to God and each other through the cross of Christ can actually get along, forgive, and love one another with all their differences. I think he's exactly right. The church is to display the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to this dark world by living out the gospel together. But don't take his word or my word for it. Listen to how Jesus says this in John 17:20-26 when He prays for His church.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that they world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made know to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
The way the world will know that Jesus Christ is the Messiah sent from God is when His church is unified as one like He and the Father are one. This will not be easy! But the Bible never says that it's easy to be a follower of Christ. Can you imagine a church that is ethnically, socially, economically, educationally, giftedly, and a thousand other ways diverse and unified? This is the radical call of the church. We must strive for unity so that the world will believe. The gospel is at risk when we will not unite as one.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Define Missional

This is an exercise for everyone. Give me your definition of "missional." This is the buzz word that I have heard from several church planters. However, I am not sure if there is any consistence to what it means. Let me know what you think of when you say or hear that a church or person is "missional."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Should the Church be? Part 4

For my fourth post on this subject, I think it's important to think about the church as striving to display what it will be like in heaven. Therefore, the church should be intentional in seeking to be ethnically diverse. Before I go any further, let me clarify something. If you live in an area where there isn't but one ethnicity, then obviously that will be the make up of the church. However, many of us do not live in such a place. I also want to make clear that there is a major difference between saying, "we are fine with other ethnic groups coming to church" and saying, "we will go out of our way to make sure we are reaching all peoples with the gospel." In the first statement, it is very passive. In the second, we are active. The church ought to be active in its desire to be multi-ethnic. I take this from Revelation 5:9-10:

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."
So it is clear from this passage that the bride that Jesus Christ bought is from every peoples. If this is true, then it's not a matter of how someone is alike or different from others. What matters is that there is one God whom has sent His Son to purchase a colorful bride for Himself. The church must seek to see people come to Christ from every tribe and language and people and nation. When will the church realize this and seek to honor the death of Christ by being as ethnically diverse as possible?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's Here

I am very excited that I received my new ESV Journaling Bible in the mail today. One of the first things I noticed was the color and texture of paper (that's for you Jason S.). Actually, I am so excited to use it that I want to read the whole Bible tonight (I'm sure that won't actually happen). To give an update, I went to a local bookstore and looked at the Bible before I ordered it, but it would have cost me twice as much if I bought it there. Westminster Bookstore has great prices, great service, and quick delivery!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Philippians 1:19-30 Tonight

Tonight is Tuesday which means we are having our Bible study at the house. All are welcomed to come and learn and grow with us. We meet at 7:00 and have time of study and discussion until about 8:00 and then we have snacks (and yes there will be brownies tonight Justin O.). If you have some spare time please come and be a part of this.

The text tonight will more than likely take two weeks to cover, but it's a good text (all the Bible is). This text has the well-known verse 21, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I am very convicted that my heart is often far from this statement. We need each other's help to have this kind of thinking. Do we only want God to be glorified in our bodies? Either in life or by death?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How Do You Prepare to Hear the Word of God on Sunday?

I read this sermon from Luke 8 by John Piper a while back and looked back over it today. Piper gives 10 exhortations to help you prepare for corporate worship. I've found them very helpful.

1. Pray that God would give you the good and honest heart described in verse 15
2. Meditate on the Word of God. Read portions of your Bible with a view to stirring up hunger for God
3. Purify your mind by turning away from worldly entertainment
4. Trust in the truth that you already have
5. Get a good night's rest on Saturday night
6. Forebear one another without grumbling and criticism
7. Come in a spirit of meek teachability
8. Be still as you enter the room and focus your mind's attention and heart's affection on God
9. When the worship service begins, think earnestly about what is sung and prayed and preached
10. Desire the truth of God's Word more than you desire riches or food


Is anyone else excited about this? I can't wait. Phil Ryken seems to be so that's good company.

New Blog

There is a new blog that just started with some of the faculty from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It's called Between the Times. I think it will be very good and worth reading.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Journaling Bible?

I have seen the ESV Journaling Bible for quite some time now, but I haven't broke down and bought it yet. I am wondering if anyone has it and what your thoughts on it are. Is it worth getting? Which one would you recommend and why? Is there enough space to journal really?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How Should the Church Be? Part 3

I have already said that the church should be Biblically saturated and Christ centered. The church should also be God glorifying. Again, this is not one that many people would disagree with in word, but sometimes in practice. This can be done in a variety of ways, but it must begin with Scripture. When Paul writes to the church in Corinth he writes, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) We live in a time when everyone wants to individualize everything, including their Christian lives. I have often heard this verse attached to each individual person. That principle is absolutely true. However, this is written to the church at Corinth. The church is to be God-glorifying in all that it does. One way this takes place is outlined in Matthew 5:14-16:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I take this to mean that one way God gets glory is by the church doing good works. This is not the only way, in fact the primary way for a church to be God-glorifying is to be obedient to the Scriptures. If a church is going to be a New Testament church, her primary desire is to be Biblically obedient with the purpose of being God-glorifying.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Not too Late

I meant to post this earlier, but I got busy and forgot to. If you happen to read this in the next little while it's not too late to come to out Bible study tonight at 7:00. We are still looking at Philippians and are enjoying God together.