Monday, December 31, 2018

To be continued

Mark 16:19-20 / Luke 24:50-53…

The gospels tell us of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, but this is not the whole story. This is why there is a sequel, and the book of Acts expands the Ascension narrative and tells the story of the work of Christ in the world through His church, empowered by the Spirit.

The amazing point of the Ascension is that Jesus, as a resurrected and glorified human, is in heaven. If in the Incarnation deity entered into the human race, in the Ascension humanity (joined with deity in one person) entered into the realm of God. The implications of this for you and me are incredible.

Redemption was purchased but the work of proclamation and application of those benefits was now beginning. The Ascension of Jesus Christ was central to the initiation and continuation of this work. While Jesus intercedes for us in heaven (Romans 8:34 / Hebrews 7:25 / 1 John 2:1), the Holy Spirit intercedes in our hearts (Romans 8:26-27), enriching and equipping the church (Acts 2:33 / John 16:7-14 / Ephesians 4:8-12).

The Ascension also creates in our hearts a sense of expectation (Acts 1:11). Jesus is the eternal Son of God, and now also the perfected and glorified man. This was the eternal plan of God before creation. God determined to create human beings, enable them to triumph over evil, and exalt them to glory. This was done in Christ. This is the glory of Christianity.

In Christ we now have access into the heavenly realm by faith (Ephesians 3:11-12 / Hebrews 4:14-16). But the future is even greater. He is preparing a place for us (John 14:1-3), and we will have glorious new bodies, free from sin (Philippians 3:20-21). Because He ascended, so will we (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We will stand in the presence of God, complete and perfect (1 Corinthians 15:51-58). He is glorified, and we will be glorified, glory to His name!

The truth is that the work of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit is continuing on. If you are in Christ, so will you (Philippians 1:6); forever, amen. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The great submission

Matthew 28:18-20…

The fact is that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (cf. Ephesians 1:20-22). And so yes, we are called to baptize, and to teach, in the midst of everyone, and everywhere (cf. Revelation 5:9, 7:9). We are to be discipled and to disciple others.  The problem is that while we want our fire insurance (avoiding hell) and our retirement plan (the joys of heaven) what we really don’t want is our marching orders. We take the command and turn it into an appeal.

What we must realize is that this is not so much a command to produce converts, but to proclaim Christ. You see, we don’t make people believe, we make disciples of those who do. The principle command here is to disciple, and that is done by baptizing the converts and teaching them. And yes, that necessitates going in the first place.

The unbeliever needs Jesus, of course, but the command is not based on their needs, but on the authority of Christ. The first disciples were to go to all the nations, because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and not merely in Israel. Therefore His church today must also bring the Gospel and His commands throughout the world. But you don’t have to go to another country to fulfill this command. You just have to be about God’s business where you are, and wherever you go.

And making disciples is not just some classroom activity. Certainly instruction is necessary. However, our principle duty is not simply scholastic. You are helping to make disciples, you are teaching people by living as a disciple among others.  A disciple is a model, a person whose whole life is evidence of God’s grace. It is a worshipful witness, living for Christ, winning others to Christ, and edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Disciples share their faith (talk). Disciples spread their faith (walk). Disciples will disciple others.  We must use words, yes, but discipleship is not words alone, but love in deed and truth (1 John 3:18 / James 2:15-16). Many have dynamite words but firecracker works.

Our commission is based on His position, and this commission is the test of your submission. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The meeting on the mountain

Matthew 28:16-17…

Jesus had been telling people that He would meet them in Galilee (Matthew 28:10). Not knowing what was coming next might have made them wonder. Although the eleven are mentioned, it is probable that this is also the event where Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6). This would further explain why some were in doubt about what was going on, because they still hadn’t seen Him yet.

In the midst of our worship, we only pretend to others, or even ourselves, if we believe that we never have any doubt. Oh we believe all right, but no one has this thing all figured out, only God. Sometimes following Jesus seems a little scary. We have doubts about whether or not we are doing the right thing. Yes, we believe the testimony of others, but we need to see things for ourselves. When we get to where we are supposed to go, and when we see Jesus in the thing, we still have to have faith.

When we follow Jesus, and follow the leading of the Spirit, we will at times be led to a new mountaintop experience. We know we are supposed to be there. We know Jesus is supposed to show up. We know we are supposed to worship. But we don’t know why this is all so important. We don’t know what’s coming next. Not yet.

Have faith. Jesus is with you on your mountain, and He will be with you as He sends you into your valley. Just be obedient. Go, worship, and be ready to listen and learn. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

See yourself

Luke 24:44-49…

Then he opened their minds. The disciples were guilty of unbelief.  Still, there was a natural inability to understand the Scriptures which had to be removed (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). Now Jesus helps them realize all that has been going on. He focuses on the persecution of Messiah, the proclamation of the gospel, and the promise of the Holy Spirit.

The rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection of Messiah was a prominent theme in the Old Testament (cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12). The faithful knew that the Lord Jesus would have to suffer (cf. Luke 2:34-35). Jesus had told the disciples this before (Luke 9:21-23, 44-45, 18:31-34).  God had ordained all of this, and Jesus was standing there as living proof of the plan. 

The fact that the gospel would be for all nations was actually part of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:3 / cf. Galatians 3:8-9). The prophets affirmed this promise of salvation for the Gentiles (Joel 2:28-32 / Haggai 2:3-9). The disciples would be worldwide witnesses for Christ.

But they were to wait for the power. The promise of the Holy Spirit was also something that had been prophesied (Isaiah 32:12-20, 44:1-5, 59:20-21 / Ezekiel 37:1-14, 39:29). Jesus had spoken of the Holy Spirit as comforter (John 14:16-17), as teacher (John 14:26), as a witness (John 15:26), and as One who would bring conviction (John 16:7-11), and revelation (John 16:12-15).

It was all part of the plan. Where God guides He provides. He has this thing all planned out. Ask God to open your mind and heart, so that you can see yourself included in the sweep of the Scriptures (Romans 8:28-39 / Ephesians 1:3-14).  

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The gospel truth

John 21:24-25…

John had been an eyewitness of these things, and what he was writing was the truth. We can know of the hope of eternity right now. We can share in the joy of the knowledge of the Son of God (1 John 1:1-3 / cf. 2 Peter 1:16). The truth is that the gospel gives fullness to our lives.

Think about how incredibly remarkable it must have been to have seen all of this and to have been personally, intimately involved with perfection in action for three whole years. Imagine, each little moment of each and every day, full of wonder, awe, majesty, and mystery, the miraculous movement of God Himself amongst you. No wonder John had such a hard time trying to fit even a tiny portion of the wonder of the Son of God into a few powerful pages. The full truth of the gospel is too much to contain in mere or many words.

Still, think of what it will be like to know fully this divine dream in reality, for all eternity, with perfect knowledge of what is happening as it occurs. Imagine being fully involved in it, with no chance for sinful reactions. And we will have all of eternity to chronicle our journey with Jesus.

Yet we won’t have to, we’ll just all live them together, forever. We will enjoy full knowledge, full experience, full participation, and full satisfaction. That’s the gospel truth.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Gut check

John 21:20-23…

Peter was probably already dead by the time John wrote this account. So what is the purpose? John tells us that it was to clear up a misconception. Jesus did not say that John would be alive at His return. He simply said that if it was His will that Peter die, while John lives, it was none of Peter’s business. Death is under our Lord’s sovereign control. It is not Peter’s business to raise questions about John’s death.

Before we pile on Peter, let’s be honest with ourselves. Isn’t this just how it is with all of us at times? We find out that in order to glorify God, we are going to have to endure some things we would rather not have to experience along the way. So what do we do? We look around for someone else to compare to. Usually it is someone else who is close to our own situation, and we ask, what about them? In other words, why do I have to go through this, if they don’t have to? This is our sinful, sanctimonious thought process, or flawed notion of fairness. Admit it.

Sometimes, when we see someone else get blessed, while we get burdened, it would seem that God doesn’t care about fair. It really gets to us when we put in more honest effort than the “lucky guy”. But isn’t this about our worship anyway? Or do we think God owes us something for doing what was just our duty to do (Luke 17:10)?

Certainly there are times when we should cry out to God for mercy, but we must do that in humility and gratefulness. Wherever God assigns you, and whatever God assigns to you, He will be with you. Stop worrying about the other guy. Jesus is going to do what is exactly right with you. He is going ahead of you into that very thing you think you shouldn’t have to go through, so take up your cross, and follow Him.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The devotions of a pastor

John 21:15-19…

This text is not about Jesus rebuking Peter for his three denials, or establishing Peter as the first pope. Certainly Peter had a unique role in the founding of the church, but this passage is not about giving him the preeminence. What we do see are some principles about being a biblical pastor. When we care for the sheep that our Lord loves, we show our love for the Shepherd.

When Christ asked Peter about loving Him, this tells us that a pastor must have a devotion to Jesus. This is first and foremost. If the man loves Jesus he will lead, protect, and teach His Church. If he is faithful to Christ he will be faithful to His people.

When Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs, this tells us that a pastor must have a devotion to the Bible. The Bible must be his textbook. His central responsibility is to feed people the Word of God because it is what builds them up (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

When Jesus told Peter to tend my sheep, this tells us that a pastor must have a devotion to the people. Pastoral care must be a priority, whether it is visiting the home, visiting the sick, or just being available. It shouldn’t be something he just “delegates to the deacons”.

When Jesus told Peter to feed my sheep, this tells us that a pastor must have a devotion to the church. He will interact with the local community, but his priority is the local church (Ephesians 4:11-16).  Personal evangelism is important for him, but discipling is a must.

When Jesus told Peter to follow me, this tells us that a pastor must have a devotion to personal holiness.  He will be diligent in devotion, leading a godly life, one that is worthy to be emulated (cf. Philippians 3:17 / 1 Thessalonians 1:6 / 2 Thessalonians 3:9 / Hebrews 13:7).   

This isn’t about perfection; it is that a man should have all five of these criteria as the dominant direction in his life. These are some of the same things we should be concerned with for our own lives. One of the most important ways to be discerning as far as evaluating a pastor is concerned is by being diligent to pursue godliness ourselves (2 Peter 3:17-18). 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Still catching fish

John 21:1-14…

So the disciples had seen the risen Jesus, and they believed in Him, too. But now what? The idea of a Great Commission mandate had not fully taken hold of them yet. So Peter was not simply going out on a fishing trip to the Sea of Galilee (John 6:1). He was going back to work as a fisherman. Of course, Jesus shows up and changes the whole dynamic once again.

This scene reminds us of what had taken place about three years earlier, near the beginning of Peter’s relationship with Jesus, and most likely very near this same spot (Luke 5:1-11). After that episode these disciples left their fishing behind and followed Jesus full time, fishing for men.

Now here they were again, fishing, as they had before all this “Jesus stuff”. They knew Jesus was real, and He was resurrected, but they were still confused as to what to do. As it will, when we believe the truth but we don’t seem to have direction, the old life gives us that familiar call. Apparently, they had forgotten about the “real” fish. 

Now here comes Jesus to once again remind them of who He is and how He directs us. When they obey His word, they are again blessed with a bundle of fish. John seems to realize what was going on. And Peter, who had wanted to get away, now can’t wait to get near. Jesus feeds them, and then He would start to tell them about feeding others.

Whether we have a Sea of Galilee experience or not, every so often you will experience little bits of divine providence that remind you who the power is along the path. But when we start looking for direction on something we want, without fulfilling the direction we already have, that is when we are looking for the wrong fish. The truth is that we are all too often waiting on some “right now” word from God before we act. In doing so, we fail in our duty to be faithful to the definite direction given to us for our daily lives.

The resurrection has implications for how we are to live now, every day. It is not simply fire insurance or a retirement plan. It has application right now, to your life. Go catch some real fish.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The reason for writing

John 20:30-31…

Too often, we want more than the Bible seems to deliver. Sometimes, our answer is found with more diligent study. However, many have not realized that God grants us knowledge only on a need to know basis (Deuteronomy 29:29). It is our lack of faith that says to God that we must have more evidence if we are to believe Him and His Word. We have what we need for faith, but what we want is control of our circumstance, even if it means we stay in unbelief.

Charles Spurgeon once gave a sermon illustration about three fools. The first was the ship’s captain who, during a ferocious storm, decides to read an encyclopedia on the nature of Atlantic winds rather than fighting to keep his ship afloat. The second was the wounded soldier who asks the medic all kinds of questions about the gun that fired the bullet rather than asking the physician if he is able to heal him. The third was the religious person who is constantly arguing the subtle philosophical questions about the origin and nature of evil while ignoring the clear and certain truth that Christ’s blood is able to cleanse his sins (Hebrews 9:14). Spurgeon said all three fools had one thing in common: They trifle with subtleties while they ignore certainties.

This insight is as relevant today as it was back then. We have a tendency to miss out on the real meal while choking on the appetizers. This Gospel of John is for those who have never seen the risen Lord. John selected just a few of the many miraculous signs Jesus performed to demonstrate that Jesus is who He claimed to be. There was much more that could be said, but what was written was and is enough.

Don’t spend your time worrying about filling in all the blanks you have about the faith. You’ll learn as you go and grow along the way. The point is about knowing who God is and how to inherit eternal life. As John also wrote, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).  

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Blessed in believing

John 20:24-29…

When the other disciples told Thomas that Jesus had appeared to them, he refused to believe. He insisted that before he would believe he would have to see Jesus with his own eyes, and examine for himself the wounds of Jesus from the crucifixion.  The others had not believed until they had seen Jesus for themselves, so Thomas was not asking for anything more than they got. 

Eight days later, Thomas got his wish. Jesus once again appears in their midst, despite the still locked doors. He repeats the word of peace He had given at their last meeting. Turning to Thomas, Jesus provides the evidence that Thomas had been looking for, challenging him to put away his unbelief.

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” He does not merely profess a belief that Jesus has risen from the dead. Thomas understands and believes in what the resurrection proved. Jesus was God, and He is Lord. Those eight days were worth the wait.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus is emphasizing the contrast between those who must see in order to believe, and those who will believe without seeing (1 Peter 1:8-9).

It has been nearly 2000 years since Jesus rose from the dead, and we have been waiting all that time for Him to return to Earth to gather His children. It will be worth the wait (2 Peter 3:9). If you believe the Truth you will know it, whether you see it or not (Romans 15:13).

Friday, December 21, 2018

Prophesying Pentecost

Mark 16:15-18…

The idea that these Jewish believers in Jesus would go to the Gentile nations to spread the faith was truly revolutionary. In commissioning them, Jesus tells them that signs would follow their preaching (Hebrews 2:3-4). These signs were fulfilled, as the book of Acts shows (Acts 2:41, 43, 5:15-16, 31-32, 16:18, 28:3-5, etc.). They were not intended to be some continuously manifesting evidence or a specific test of faith for today’s preachers or believers.

Jesus gave a thesis statement for the book of Acts in Acts 1:8. The work of tongues was foundational in the development of the church, in its inauguration and the sign of its spread. Jews (Acts 2), the hated, half-breed Samaritans (Acts 8), the Gentiles (Acts 10), and the disciples of John the Baptist, people in transitional period between the OT and the NT Church (Acts 19), all were included in the manifestation of unity and spread of the Gospel.

The tongues represented peoples and nations (cf. Revelation 7:9). The barriers between Jew and Gentile had been broken down (cf. Ephesians 2:11-22). All who believe in Jesus are one in Christ by the Spirit of God (Romans 12:5 / 1 Corinthians 6:17, 12:13). Peter, in Acts 2:17-18, shows us that not only are all people groups potentially included, but all gender, age, and social groups are as well. The point has been made; we are one body in Christ. The rest of the NT writing assumes and asserts that (cf. Colossians 1:6).

People back then and people today still ask what these signs and wonders Jesus was speaking of mean (Acts 2:12). The answer is clear (Acts 2:21 / Romans 10:13).  The only real wall between God and men is sin, and God in Christ has broken down all racial, gender, age, and social barriers to salvation (Colossians 3:11). The inauguration of the Great Commission at Pentecost is cause for celebration, the reason for missions. It is entirely ironic to create a new wall (that these signs must be present today) when it was the old wall that was being torn down.

What are we to do (Acts 2:37)? We are called to identify with Christ, ask for the forgiveness of your sins and be baptized because you believe that all those who trust in Jesus are given the Spirit of God, adopted into His family (Acts 2:38-39). That is the big picture here. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The evidence of peace

Mark 16:14 / Luke 24:36-43 / John 20:19-23…

Amidst all of these reports of a stolen body, and the sightings of a risen Jesus, the disciples were meeting behind closed doors because they were still afraid of the Jewish leaders. Now it comes clear as to what has happened as Jesus suddenly appears to all those gathered. He speaks words of peace, but their response was fear (cf. Matthew 14:26). So Jesus proves that He isn’t some ghost by allowing them to examine His wounds and eating a meal with them.

Jesus then symbolically bestows the Holy Spirit upon them, pointing to Pentecost, when they would receive the Spirit and be empowered to fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8). He had risen, and in returning to them He had spoken peace, which is associated with His presence. But He was going to ascend to the Father shortly. He wanted to remind them of what He had said earlier, about not leaving them alone. He would be physically gone, but the Spirit would abide with them and in them (John 14:16-19). He would leave them with a supernatural peace (John 14:27-28 / Philippians 4:7).

We need to know this today. The physical Jesus is not with us on earth, but the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is with all believers (1 Corinthians 6:17, 12:13). That is the evidence of peace (John 16:33 / Romans 5:1-5, 14:17, 15:13 / Galatians 5:22 / 2 Thessalonians 3:16). 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

How Jesus is known

Mark 16:13 / Luke 24:32-35…

They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"  This isn’t some physical, mystical sign or experience we are supposed to be looking for as we read the Bible. These men were saying that upon reflection, it was obvious that they were with the Master.

These two had run back to tell of their experience, and found out that some of the others had also now come to believe. They had heard of the report of Peter, how he had actually seen Jesus. Now this report was further confirmation of the truth. Still, some were not as yet believing (Mark 16:13 / cf. Matthew 28:17).

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. It was not the breaking of the bread, in and of itself, that was the key to the opening of the eyes of these two men. It was the work of the Spirit, who convinced the men of the meaning of the Scriptures and thus enabled them to see Christ for who He was.

Jesus could have identified Himself as the Lord to these two men, and then proceeded to teach them on the basis of His authority. As it turns out, Jesus taught them on the basis of the authority of the Scriptures. This is proof of the principle that the Word of God itself has power (Hebrews 4:12-13 / cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 / 2 Peter 1:4). Jesus taught that if people do not believe the Scriptures, no other sign will be enough (Luke 16:31).

The reason these two men, the other disciples, and all of us, view our circumstances with despair is because we do not view them from God’s point of view. We fail to discern our circumstances spiritually. When viewed biblically, everything that happens is a part of God’s plan. This included not only the suffering and death of Messiah, but also His resurrection. People need the Word of God if they are to recognize the hand of God in history, including their own.

Do you want to know Jesus Christ more intimately? Stop looking for a sign, and start looking in the Scriptures (Romans 10:17).  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Open the eyes of my heart

Luke 24:28-31…

He acted as if he were going farther. Jesus wanted to give them an opportunity to respond to what He had been teaching. Having been taught the truth about how the Messiah was supposed to suffer, would they now dismiss Him? Indeed not, they were actually hungry for more. So he went in to stay with them.

We spend our time either doing or trying to do what we are interested in. It’s the great principle of most people’s lives. Jesus won’t force himself on you, but if you are interested in the kingdom of God, He will stick around and you will get to know Him better. It is in that process that He reveals Himself to people (Hebrews 11:6).

You will often hear people talk about “sensing” the presence of God. Yet sometimes Jesus is there and we don’t even know it, until He reveals the condition of our hearts. Jesus can be right in front of you, walking with you and sitting down with you at every meal – and yet your eyes can be restrained from seeing Him. Pray that God would open your eyes to see Jesus as He is, with you all the time (Ephesians 1:16-21). Respond to His Word, and you will see His hand.

In the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation, that is the revelation we need the most. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

The heart of Bible study

Luke 24:25-27…

We often think the main obstacles to belief are in the head, but they are actually in the heart. These men were like many in that day, their belief was selective. They did not want to believe that the Messiah was supposed to die. Jesus was telling them that while the Messiah would indeed be the Triumphant King, He must first be the Suffering Servant.

The prophets may not have fully understood all this, but they were guided by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). Their message about the coming Messiah was a mixture of suffering and glory (1 Peter 1:10-11).  The Messiah’s suffering was not just compatible with His glory, and it was not just the gateway to His glory. The suffering was itself a vital part of His glory. We see the worship in Heaven of the One who was slain (Revelation 1:17-18, 5:1-14).

The Jews of the day didn’t want to believe that the Messiah had to suffer, and they didn’t want to believe that they would have to suffer, either.  But it was the false prophets who spoke only of peace and prosperity. It was the true prophets who spoke of trials and suffering. Many are the same way today, thinking that when Jesus comes into your life that it will be only triumph and satisfaction, but that is simply not true (Philippians 1:29).

Jesus led them through the Old Testament, showing them that suffering and glory could not be separated in the prophecies pertaining to Messiah. Accordingly, it is the same path we will have to take if we follow Jesus (1 Peter 4:1-2). What a Bible study this must have been! And the lesson is one we must take to heart today as much as ever (1 Peter 4:12-14).

Thursday, November 01, 2018

How Free Are You?

Freedom is not autonomy. Freedom is liberation from the enslavement of self-interest. You might think of freedom as the liberty to do what you want. But again, that is just the ability to be selfish. Rather, freedom is the ability to give oneself to others.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Church Full of Hypocrites

“I’m not going to church, it’s full of hypocrites.”
I’m sure you’ve either said it, or heard it said.
Well, then, if the church is full of hypocrites, you should want to come, because you’ll fit right in.
And if you’re not a hypocrite, then you should also want to come, because then you’ll provide the needed balance.
Either way, if you call yourself a Christian, you can’t use the “hypocrites” excuse. Christians want to come to church. It is the hypocrites who don’t.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Church and the Secular Mindset

Secularism is the dominant idea today that guides peoples’ lives. Unfortunately, many professing believers are succumbing to a secular mindset in one very important way.

Exposing a secular mindset

First, you need to realize that secularism means “this age”. To the secular worldview, what matters is the temporal world. Any ideas about the eternal shouldn’t influence how we act as a society, and religion gets in the way of modernization and human flourishing. In other words, secularism isn’t concerned with cosmic ideas such as heaven and hell (expressed in John Lennon’s song Imagine). It is all about this age, and getting the most out of this life.

Exercising a secular mindset

This secular mindset is what professing believers are adopting, even if unwittingly, when they treat church as if their attendance or absence has no bearing on the life and health of the institution that Jesus started and is expressed in local assemblies. Your absence is a testament to your secular mindset. Your actions speak loudly, that church doesn’t matter all that much. You’ve got your ticket to heaven and that’s all that matters for the next life, so you can just go and live this life, you don’t need church. But you do need the church, and the church needs you. It isn’t some secondary matter, and to treat it as optional or occasional is to give into the secular mindset.

Your attendance matters

Jesus said that he will build the church, and the local church is the visible expression of the Lord’s promise being fulfilled. Do you want to the local church to die out? You can say “no”, but when you don’t go, you are contributing to the death of the local church expression. Church is important to God. Corporate worship is important to God. Corporate worship is important for you. Corporate worship is important for the life and health of the local church. For Christians, corporate worship is our most important hour of the week. Nothing else takes precedence over the worship of God. When you purposefully miss church, you are missing the most important hour of the week. What could possibly take priority over God’s ordained means? You need to make church a non-negotiable habit, just like eating or sleeping, something you skip only in the rarest of circumstances, and something you resume as soon as you possibly can.     

Think about it

When you are absent, what are you saying to the culture? What are you saying to new believers? What are you saying to your brothers and sisters in Christ? What are you saying to Jesus? When you decide not to go, are you contributing to the strength of the local church, or are you contributing to the decline of the local church? Do you think Jesus cares? Which matters more, what he thinks about it, or how you feel about it?    

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Answering The Big Lie

The Big Lie is that you will find true happiness and fulfillment by violating God’s will. Now it’s true that you may find momentary happiness and partial fulfillment in violating God’s will. But it’s fleeting, and you’ll just keep chasing the wind. What you need to learn is to sacrifice those fleeting moments on the altar of praise to God. And this is where the battle for sanctification is most real. People can be willing to praise God, but not willing to give up their sin. However, the more you learn the true joy of God over the pleasures of the self, the more sanctified you will become in practice. And this is how you progressively find true happiness and fulfillment in God. It is a life of worship that is worth the self-denying sacrifice. The presence of God is greater than the pleasures of this world. Renew your mind.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Trust Takes Time

We need to make a distinction between being forgiven of something and being done with something. This is a matter of justification, regeneration, and repentance. Transformation is a process. Just because someone has been forgiven of their sins by God, or forgiven of a particular sin, by others, this doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t still have a sinful problem.

The power of sin is not instantly fixed through forgiveness. By virtue of justification, the eternal penalty for sin, and being guilty in the eyes of God, that is “fixed”. But there remain consequences in this life. Sinful patterns must still be dealt with. By virtue of regeneration, Christians do have the power to overcome sinful patterns, but they must endeavor to do it. It is not automatic. It takes time, effort, and commitment. Christians should forgive, but they should not act as if their forgiveness of a person, or even God’s forgiveness of a person, means that person is fully and finally healed of their sinful pattern.

There is a difference between repentance proclaimed and repentance proven. Repentance proclaimed (a confession) begins in a moment of time. Repentance proven (a conversion) happens over the course of time. When repentance is proclaimed, we forgive. When repentance has been proven, then we forget. To do otherwise is not wise. Trust takes time.