Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

At the conclusion of Paul’s letters, he greets believers and exhorts believers to greet one another. Seemingly tagged on at the end of some theologically-rich epistles, readers can easily skim past these verses. But could it be that here in these final words, God instructs us through the pen of the Apostle Paul as to how to greet the saints (that is, every person who is in Christ Jesus). So, how should believers greet one another? How should we greet every single saint?

Here are 5 pastoral encouragements.

At the end of his epistle to the Philippian church, Paul says to greet ‘every saint’ in Christ. I think it’s fairly understood that we don’t naturally greet every single person we see on Sundays in our local churches. In fact, if we were honest, we probably would say that we would rather sit down, enjoy a moment or two to ourselves when we arrive moments before the opening of the service. And then when the closing prayer is finished, we would rather slip out the back and head home without interacting much with folks. But the loving and wise Spirit of God does not permit that mentality in the local church. Rather, through Paul’s pen, we are called to greet every saint. This is an imperative and something that we are all called to do. We are to greet one another with intentionality because we are tempted to sometimes sit and remain to ourselves and not approach anyone because, quite frankly, it takes effort, time, and sometimes patience to hear people pour out their heart (and even, receive some fairly messy situations and desperate prayer requests!). It’s easier to not greet people. But the Lord calls us to intentionally greet one another regardless of whether one is extroverted or introverted, outgoing or not!

Many of Paul’s epistles speak of greeting one another with love, with a holy kiss. In that culture and at that time, this greeting was a mark of genuine love and tender affection. The believers greeted one another with the utmost tenderness and warmth. The imperative is to greet one another. How are we to do this? With great affection, with tender warmth, with genuine love, with brotherly kindness. Dear Christians, are we affectionate and warm and full of brotherly kindness when we greet the saints when we gather together?  Are we warm towards them? Are we a “refreshment” to others when we greet them, welcome them, speak to them, and pray for them? Does your conduct, your demeanor, your care, your focus, your intentionality speak to your brotherly affection for your fellow believers? May the Lord help us to greet one another with affection and brotherly-love.

There is no partiality with God! Amazingly, the Apostle Paul reminds believers so frequently in his writings that there is no division amongst God’s people. Think of it: Jew and Gentile can worship the risen Christ together. The rich and the poor can worship Christ together, side by side! Yes, the young and the old can exalt the one, true God together, in worship! James speaks directly to this issue of greeting one another without impartiality. Dear friends: we could all be honest enough to confess that there are some people that we’re more comfortable approaching on Sundays and there are others who are, quite frankly, different than us! And if it were not for the saving grace of Christ, we probably would have no interactions with that person in our lives. And yet, by God’s wondrous grace and wise wisdom, He has brought many believers from different backgrounds and cultures together in this living and growing and wondrous organism called the Church! There are no boundaries or barriers or divisions! We are all one in Christ Jesus. All who are believers in Christ by faith alone belong to Christ! Perhaps you could make it a point to approach one person each week that you may not normally go up to and seek to warmly greet them and speak one encouraging word of grace to them for their edification! O the joy and sweetness in a local church if every saint approached one another without partiality to greet them, sit with them, talk with them, pray with them, and show brotherly kindness to them!

Many times in Paul’s letters he greets people by name. The book of Romans (ch. 16) provides a perfect example of Paul’s profuse and specific greetings to the saints. In Philippians 4, however, Paul does not greet people by name, but he does say to greet every saint. Dear Christian: do you know the fellow saints in your local church?  Do you specifically pray for them?  Do you know their needs? Their struggles? Their fears? Their joys? Their evangelistic encounters? Their causes for rejoicing? Do you greet folks and just say week after week after week, “hi, how are you? How was your week?” Or is there any greater depth that you go into in probing the heart, digging for some specifics if a generic answer is given? How can you take the simple greetings and greet one another with specificity by asking good questions, heart-probing questions, and sermon-engaging questions, and Christ-focused questions? Paul greets the saints in Philippi and assures them that the gospel has permeated even the imperial palace of Caesar! O let us give such specific encouragements to one another of how God is working, how Christ is worthy, how the Spirit is empowering, and how the gospel is advancing! May the Lord help us!

5. With GRACE.
In a remarkably Pauline feature that distinguishes his conclusions from the rest of ancient Greco-Roman letter writing conclusions, he reminds the Christians of God’s grace found in Christ that is with them always! In fact, often Paul bookends his letters with the reality of God’s grace that is given to them (see, e.g., Philippians 1:2 and 4:23). Why? Because all that Christians are is theirs by virtue of God’s grace! Believers are nothing and have nothing except by God’s undeserved grace. Paul reminds the saints that their position in Christ is all of grace. And he reminds them that they are sustained in Christ all by grace! God will carry them to glory all by grace! Indeed, we stand confidently in this grace of God!  So when Paul bids his farewell to the believers whom he affectionately loves, he reminds them of the wondrous and unfathomable grace of God that began the good work in them, that sustains the preserving work in them, and guarantees the sanctifying work in them till glory! O that we as Christians would greet one another with such thoughtful words of theological depth and richness! Consider how local congregations would be further edified and strengthened as each saint would speak a brief word of encouragement and truth to one another as we remind each other of God’s faithful grace and unfailing favor toward us -- in salvation, in suffering, in sanctification, indeed, in any situation! May the Lord help us to thoughtfully, theologically, and joyfully greet one another with grace-filled speech!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Why Invest in the Men?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Every Friday morning I meet with about 6-8 men from the local church where I serve. From the very first week that I moved to St. Louis, I have endeavored to meet faithfully with these band of brothers. I remember the very first Sunday I was on site serving as the pastor of Christ Fellowship Bible Church, I called all the men to the front after the worship service and told them of my passion to meet with them, invest in them, pour all that I am and have into them, and disciple them. After a brief discussion, we chose 6:00-7:30AM every Friday morning for our study time. And to this day, six years later, we still meet to pray, talk church ministry, and study the Word together.

A typical format of our Friday morning meetings is fairly simple and straightforward. From 6-6:30AM I often will pour out my heart and work through practical church-related items and ask some thought-provoking questions to generate discussion (e.g., why do we do music the way we do? Why don’t we have this or that?). Sometimes I lead in exegeting a hymn to teach the men to think thoughtfully about the music we sing. Other times I’ll lead in a brief biography study through a man from church history (I love the Puritans so often they will hear of a Puritan!). We have worked slowly and biblically through all the elder-qualifications, the church mission statement, how to lead at home, and the importance of family worship. All this said, I try to discuss practical ministry-related items with the brothers for the first 30-minutes. Then from 6:30-7:30AM we dig into the Bible in our study. Over the years, we’ve studied verse by verse through Romans, John, Joshua, Philemon and we’re currently progressing through Proverbs. We’ve also had lengthy and in-depth studies on family worship, expository preaching, expository listening, family worship, biblical forgiveness, and biblical counseling. We finish everything and conclude in prayer by 7:30AM sharp so the brothers can depart and get to work.

Why is it so crucial for me to invest in the men?

1. Joyous Obedience
As a shepherd called by God to care for the souls of Christ’s sheep, He calls me to entrust biblical truths to other faithful men who can in turn teach others also (2 Tim 2:2). Therefore, I count it a joy to obey God in the discipling and mentoring of other men. I think of the example Moses set in discipling Joshua. I consider Paul’s example in mentoring and discipling young Timothy. I think of the many companions that accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys. Rarely was Paul alone. So first and foremost, I count it a joyous privilege and divine blessing to obey Him in the duty of investing in the men that He brings to the church where I pastor.

2. Internal Transformation  
As I meet with the men every Friday morning, the transformation is not only for the men who study the Word together with me, but one of the glories of leading the morning men’s studies consists in the internal transformation that God works in my own soul in my own time of personal study and prayer prior to meeting with the brothers.  I consider my time of preparation for the biblical counseling study we had a few years back, or I reflect on our verse by verse study through Romans or the Gospel of John, or now working progressively through the Book of Proverbs, one of the foremost blessings comes from my own time of prayerful study in the Word, in exegesis, in commentary work, and diligently laboring for practical application points. In a word, why do I invest in the men of the church? In my preparation and study, my own heart is pierced, convicted by truth, and taught by God’s Spirit. And for this internal transformation and divinely worked sanctification that takes place in my soul, I am profoundly grateful and blessed.

3. Leadership Development  
Jesus spent much time with His disciples. He invested in men to lead. He knew He would soon depart from this earth, ascend to heaven, and the work of gospel-proclamation would rest upon the shoulders of His followers. So he devoted Himself to developing leaders. Part of my motive in meeting with the men every Friday morning is to develop biblical leaders to serve in Christ’s Church. I understand the Spirit appoints men to ministry. I simply cannot make a leader. I cannot force someone into leadership nor should we lay hands on a man hastily. But I can, and indeed I must, give myself diligently to the training of men for ministry. I do this by modeling timeliness, faithfulness, punctuality, preparation, accurate hermeneutics, systematic theology, and a towering trust in the authority, sufficiency, and reliability of Scripture. I trust that the Lord will raise up elders and deacons from the Friday morning study as they receive the Word, grow in their theological precision, and live out biblical manhood in the home, in the church, and at work.

4. Family Discipleship    
I can’t disciple the wives of the church. Nor should I. But I can disciple the men of the church who will disciple their wives and children as the family shepherds of their homes. So I invest in the men on Friday mornings so that I can disciple, more or less, the entire church through the heads of households. I hope to model for the men the primacy of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the wonder of the gospel, and the precision of theology so that they can learn and do these things in the contexts of their own family environments. Our church doesn’t have a youth group, nor do we have thriving children’s programs, nor do we have a full-blown women’s, or men’s, or retired, or singles, or college ministry. But what we do have is a solid and robust commitment to the investing of godly men to teach other men who can teach and disciple their wives and children. And, the women can encourage other women (even the singles, the widows, the divorced, the retired, the young singles). And the men can encourage other men! The goal is for the Friday morning men’s study to be a model of Bible-centered discipleship so that the men can do this with others -- starting in their own homes with their own families.

5. Contagious Influence  
It blesses my soul to hear of people in the church meeting with other believers for fellowship, Bible reading, and study together. I take great joy in knowing that people meet together in “Bible-open” discipleship relationships so that men disciple other men and women disciple other women -- both young and old. I invest in the men on Friday mornings to also instill in the brothers the paramount necessity and urgent importance of regular encouraging one another in the things of God, from the Word of God. Then, the brothers seek out another man in the church -- whether it be a visitor, a regular attender, a fellow church-member, or a teenage child to get to know -- to take what we’re doing on Friday mornings and do this on their own throughout the week. This then produces an inter-personal web of discipleship relationships that permeates the culture of the church. Far from it being only the pastor-shepherds who do the soul-care of the sheep, this then produces an entire church that is involved in, committed to, diligently and proactively overseeing the spiritual wellbeing of the fellow members. So I meet with the men on Friday mornings because it also has a contagious influence on others who see that there’s nothing flashy, catchy, entertaining or super-difficult about the discipleship relationships in the Word. Then they reach out to others and care for and admonish others in the Word on a regular, consistent basis.  May God bless these labors for His glory and for the spiritual edification of His church.

More podcasts and resources can be found at Pastor Geoff's website here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The noblest of all callings that God could give to a man is to be a carer of the souls whom Christ has purchased with His own blood. To feed God’s people the Word, to shepherd God’s people through the journeys and trials of life, to counsel God’s people through unforeseen and painful heartaches, to protect God’s people from dangerous doctrines and teachers, to remind God’s people of the unchanging gospel and the sure-reality of heaven are just a few of the immense privileges that God places upon a pastor. But how does the Bible describe a pastor? What are some of the figures of speech that the Spirit of God employs to describe this calling? This essay will bring forth seven metaphors that speak of the minister of the gospel and his work.

1. Watchman (Ezekiel 33:1-9)
Watchmen are workers. They busy themselves by vigilantly keeping guard to protect the population that they are called to oversee. God told Ezekiel that he was appointed as a watchman for His people so that when he hears a message from God he is to give the people a warning from God. If he receives God’s message but chooses to not warn the people, then he will be guilty as an unfaithful watchman. But if he receives God’s message and does warn the people, then has delivered himself. When danger comes, the watchmen must sound the alarm to protect the citizens. The watchman cannot sleep or be careless; nor can be be indifferent or lazy. He must stay awake, be vigilant, be watchful, and be alert at all times because danger can loom from all fronts -- from both far away and from near (even from within at times!). So a pastor must also watch the flock to guard from encroaching danger from the outside and the inside.

2. Workman (2 Tim 2:15)
Workmen exert all their energy to do the required duties to the best of their abilities. Paul commands young, pastor Timothy to be diligent to present himself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Consider a soldier who is faithful to please his commanding officer. Consider an athlete who works hard and competes according to the rules. Consider a farmer who works hard to receive his share of the crops. Just as a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer distinguish themselves by their zealous effort and tireless work-ethic, so ministers of the gospel must similarly be workers in the exegesis and expositing of God’s word. All who desire the privilege of shepherd-leadership desire a fine work.

3. Shepherd (John 21:15-17)
No one really desired to be a shepherd. It was hard, lonely, dirty, and lowly work. Shepherds had no fanfare and received no accolades from the masses. But shepherds had one driving duty: to care for the sheep that were entrusted to their care. Predators could lurk and swiftly attack so shepherds had to be vigilant to be with and watch over the helpless sheep. Shepherds had to provide still, quiet waters for the sheep to drink without harm from without or conflict from within the fold. Sometimes the sheep could tangle themselves in thorn briars and the shepherd would use his staff to free them. Or even a sheep may have wandered off and as he counted his sheep, one by one, one may be missing. He would never just let it die and move on with one less sheep, but he would leave the flock protected in a spot while he would go and diligently search till he found the lost and helpless sheep. Then he would pick it up and carry it home. May ministers of the gospel tend Christ’s lambs, shepherd Christ’s sheep, and tend His sheep (John 21:15, 16, 17) in following the Master’s steps who Himself is the good Shepherd!

4. Servant  (John 13:15; Matt 20.28)
Our glorious Savior, on the night before He would be crucified, had the Passover meal with His disciples and he washed their feet. And on this occasion, he said that he has given an ‘example’ so that we also should do as He has done (John 13:15). Previously in his ministry, He told the disciples that it is the pagan leaders who lord it over their people and exercise authority over their people. But it must not be this way among Christ’s people, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave! Let every minister of the gospel remember that we are not to lord authority over our people but rather we are to serve them as slaves. Indeed, whoever wishes to be first must be slave of all! No task is too lowly, no people are too dirty, no chore is too messy.

5. Farmer  (1 Cor 3:5-9 & Mark 4:1-20)
In writing to a church that he loved, and yet a church laden with many problems, the Apostle Paul affirmed that he and Apollos are servants of the Lord and servants of the Corinthian believers (1 Cor 3:5). He talked about how he planted, and Apollos watered, but God causes the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything but God who causes the growth (1 Cor 3:6-8). We are simply planting seed, watering the seed and tilling the ground. Our Lord taught in a parable that a man sows the seed (which is the word of God). The seed falls on different kinds of soil -- on the road, on the rocky places, in the thorns, and on the good soil. The point? Be faithful to sow and scatter the seed of the Word faithfully and God does the heart-work in the hearer through the word which the preacher faithfully sowed. Sow the seed. Be faithful. Work hard. Don’t give up. Keep tilling! Keep sowing! Keep casting the seed!

6. Mother (1 Thess 2:7-8)
Everyone has a vivid picture in their minds of a nursing mother caring for a helpless, precious little baby. The Apostle Paul employed this imagery when he told the beloved Thessalonians that they proved to be gentle among them, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children (1 Thess 2:7). Consider the heartfelt love a mother has for the baby. The baby can’t reciprocate the love, vocalize gratitude, or do anything that’s affectionate. And yet the mother constantly thinks of her baby, cares for her baby, nurtures her baby, feeds her baby, protects her baby, watches her baby, and gives thanks for her baby! Ministers are to have such a fond, mother-like, affection for their congregations that they are pleased to impart not only the gospel of God but even their own very lives because the people become so dear to the man of God!

7. Herald (2 Tim 4:2)
In writing to young, pastor Timothy, the Apostle Paul gives him a strict charge from God almighty and the glorious and sovereign Christ. The simple charge is clear, decisive, necessary, urgent, and mandatory: preach the Word! The verb that Paul uses employs the language of a herald that a superior commissions with a message to impart to a group of recipients. Imagine an Emperor in the ancient world who could send an ambassador with a message to a city where the Emperor was soon to visit, the ambassador would take the message from the King and deliver it just as he received it to the intended recipients. The herald is to stand in the public, cup his hands, lift up his voice, and boldly proclaim the King’s message! It’s not the herald’s duty to ensure that people obey or respond accordingly. The herald simply proclaims the message that ha been delivered to him by his superior. As long as he faithfully imparts the message without adding or subtracting anything to it, or making it more palatable or less offensive, he has done his job faithfully. Every minister of the gospel is a herald. We are to herald forth the King’s message from the Word of God to the people that God brings to hear the truth. After all, Paul said: we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us! That’s what a herald is! It is the King addressing his people through the mouth of the messenger, the herald, the ambassador. May God instill in us a passion to herald His Word faithfully!

More at Pastor Geoff's articles page.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

We must have revival or we will perish! One only needs to survey the Old Testament to find out what God does when God gives revelation to people and they reject Him, despise His Word, scoff at His messengers, and refuse to repent. The inevitable result is divine doom and devastating destruction. We must have revival. And yet, we fully embrace the biblical theme that pervades all of Scripture, namely, the absolute sovereignty of God. God alone revives His people. God alone regenerates the rebellious. Revival is primarily a work of God the Spirit. So, as we look around us in our 21st century society, we know that God alone is the One who can bring revival and yet we still must ask, ‘why do we need revival?’ To answer this, I’ll provide a handful of reasons.

1. For the sake of GOD.
We earnestly seek a revival first and foremost for the sake of our God. That means we long for God’s name to be displayed most magnificently and supremely. We want His fame to spread across communities, and cities and countries! We long for nations to worship the one, true and living God! We long for revival so that God receives the glory in reviving His people and regenerating the wayward.

2. For the sake of the CHURCH.
Second, we need a revival for the sake of Christ’s church. To revive something, by definition, means that there is some measure of life that existed previously. For God to revive us means that we are alive spiritually. Thus, a true revival is when God promotes holiness and a zeal for His glory that permeates the hearts of God’s people and propels them to live in holiness and fervent prayer married together with fervent evangelism. We long for God’s Spirit to rekindle the love for Christ and revive us by His Word!

3. For the sake of the LOST.
Third, we desperately need revival for the sake of the lost. Millions around us are perishing! Unless God sovereignly saves sinners, they are all headed to everlasting burnings in hellfire under the almighty and unresting wrath of God. We need revival and we beg for revival so that the mighty working of God may shine forth and that the unstoppable power of God may be manifested in the saving of souls! We hunger for revival because we have an intolerable burden for perishing sinners all around us!

4. For the sake of the GOSPEL.
Fourth, we need revival and we pray earnestly for it for the sake of the gospel. God has so put it in our hearts to see the the power of the gospel’s message demonstrated! Indeed, it is the gospel message that is the power of God! It is the power of this message to save. And we want this good news to travel far and wide and to convict men of sin and to bring them to deep repentance. And we long for this good news to show them Christ’s remedy and the absolute freeness of divine grace through repentance and faith.

5. For the sake of ETERNITY.
Finally, we desperately need revival because eternity is right around the corner. It’s near! Eternity is soon coming! We thirst for souls to be won to the kingdom in droves and to escape hellfire! Every living person will live eternally in either the bliss of heaven enjoying the beauty of Christ forevermore or the punishment of hell suffering under the unbridled wrath of God! May the Lord stir us to pray much and tirelessly, persistently and biblically, trusting that God will save His elect. So may we evangelize and pursue the lost so they may be won to Christ for all eternity!

More resources on revival can be found here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Consider the High Priestly prayer of Jesus to the Father in John 17:2 - "Even as you gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom you have given Him, He may give eternal life..."

John MacArthur elaborates on the glory of this marvelous reality that God gave a particular group of people to His Son:

"Having chosen to redeem them, the Father gave them to the Son as gifts of His love. Thus ... the disciples were infinitely precious to the SOn, not because of anything intrinsically valuable in them, but because they were promised to Him by His Father before time began (2 Tim 1.9; Titus 1.1)."

"Jesus' beautiful prayer in John 17 indicates, this divine promise was made from one member of the Trinity to another -- from the Father to the Son. As a tangible expression of His infinite love for the Son, the Father promised Him a bride (cf. Rev 19.7-8), a company of redeemed sinners who would honor and glorify the Son forever.  In eternity past, the Father recorded their names in the book of Life (Rev 13.8; 17.8), and pledged them to His Son as a gift of His love.  Thus, Jesus could pray: "Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; they were yours and you gave them to me (17:5-6). A few verses later, Jesus again underscored that believers are a gift from the Father, given out of His love and for the purpose of His Son's glory: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory which you have given me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world!"

According to God's sovereign design, the Father draws to the Son those whom He has chosen to redeem, in keeping with His eternal promise. The Son, in return, receives and protects all those whom the Father draws. Because they are a gift to Him from the Father, he would never refuse them or allow them to be lost. He will raise them all to eternal glory."

SO Sinners are saved NOT because they are inherently worthy of salvation, or wise enough on their own to choose it (Eph 2.1-10), but because the Father lovingly draws them for the purpose of giving them as a gift to the Son. In response to the Father's love, the Son eagerly receives all those who are drawn because they are a gift from His beloved Father. The Son opens his arms to sinners, not because they either deserve to be embraced or seek such, but because He is exceedingly glad to receive the gift His Father prepared for him from before time began, and then sought and saved!"

When the Father, in eternity past, decided to redeem sinners, He did so with the ultimate intent of conforming them into the image of His Son (Phil 3.20-21; 1 John 3.2; Rom 8.29). Because they will be like Christ in their glorified state, the redeemed will forever be a supreme tribute to the Son -- reflecting His perfect goodness and proclaiming His eternal greatness!"

--from John MacArthur, John 12-22, MNTC, p.247-48.
Helping Our Children Prepare for Worship, Engage in Worship, & Respond Accordingly.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Like every Christian parent, I want to teach my children to sit still and to engage in the corporate worship gathering of the saints! But it’s hard! It’s a battle! It’s sanctifying! But it’s a God-given privilege for me and my wife to endeavor to intentionally strive, to the best of our abilities with God’s help, to equip and train our children to prepare for corporate worship, to engage while in corporate worship, and to respond accordingly when the worship service has finished. In this brief write-up, I’ll provide four ways that we seek to help our children in this.

1) Attention!
Each Sunday when we’re in family worship prior to arriving for corporate worship, we tell our children to “pay attention” in the meeting of the people of God! Pay attention! Sounds simple! But this is intentional and we want to not only tell but help our children understand the high honor and wonderful privilege of meeting with the living God of the universe! One way we help in this is to model it for our children. That’s why we strive to have an open Bible before us while the Word is being preached. When the songs are being sung, we endeavor to stand and read the Words and sing together with our kids. When the pastor opens the Word and has the congregation stand for the public reading of Scripture followed by the pastoral prayer, it is our goal for our children to pay attention and participate in this. All in all, we desire our children to not tune out, but to actively engage in the meeting with the living God!

2) Notes/Picture!
We have 5 children. Their ages range from 8 down to 2. We provide one notebook and one pen for our children during the worship service and we encourage the older ones to draw during the sermon. We encourage them to listen for a few key words that will be said (from the text) and a few of the illustrations or Christians in history that will be mentioned. The goal here is for them to listen for these particular key words/concepts that I’ll mention in my sermon. We ask the kids to draw pictures of something that is said in the sermon. As they write notes or draw pictures, we seek to ask about it afterwards.

3) Apply!
Once the pastor has closed the sermon in prayer, it has been well said by someone of old, that the sermon has really just ‘begun.’ For now it rests upon the listener to be a doer of the Word that he has just heard. So we want to shepherd our children through the simple questions of what was just preached and how it affects them in their lives. Sometimes this may happen on the way home. Other times it may happen when we’re putting the kids to bed. It could even happen Monday morning when they wake up. But we strive to be faithful to instill in our children’s minds that the sermon is not just a data dump to sit through and endure, but rather it’s an opportunity to hear from God and to respond accordingly and to be changed for God’s glory!

4) Pray!
Another item that we try to model for our children is prayer before, during, and after the time of corporate worship. When our family gathers for family worship before the worship gathering with the saints, we pray for the preacher, for the Word to go forth with power, for the congregation, for the nursery workers, for all the teachers (of various age groups), for the lost to come to be saved, and for visitors. It’s also helpful to pray after church and thank God for the wonderful gift of sitting under His precious Word faithfully expounded and asking for His enabling grace to implement specifically what was said from the pulpit.

Our family is far from perfect. We don’t even incorporate these four principles perfectly, all the time. But we do, by God’s grace, strive to be intentional and faithful to God to instruct our children in the glory and majesty of God, and to model for and instruct them in the joyous privilege of meeting with God’s people and hearing the Word boldly preached! May God help us!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

This is a list that provides many ways that you can pray for your local church.

  1. pray for God's glory to permeate your church
  2. pray for unity in the church
  3. pray for almighty power in the preaching of the Word
  4. pray for the administration of the ordinances -- baptism & Lord's supper
  5. pray for biblical discipline and restoration
  6. pray for repentance in the flock
  7. pray for biblical forgiveness to be lavished to one another
  8. pray for Christ-centered fellowship
  9. pray for spiritual growth and maturation
  10. pray for the conversion of the lost
  11. pray for revival in our hearts and among us
  12. pray for the suffering, persecuted, and those who are mourning
  13. pray for the church leaders -- elders/deacons
  14. pray for Christ's soon return & our readiness & waiting for him
  15. pray for submission to Christ's leaders in the church
  16. pray for a thankful spirit to reside among us
  17. pray for workers to go out in Christ's harvest and labor for souls
  18. pray for increased evangelistic efforts
  19. pray for more people to serve God as missionaries globally
  20. pray for reverence in the house of God
  21. pray for more praying in and among God's people
  22. pray for the marriages
  23. pray for the parents
  24. pray for the students
  25. pray for the singles
  26. pray for the widows
  27. pray for the afflicted
  28. pray for dependency on the Spirit of God
  29. pray for commitment to the sufficiency of the Word in all things
  30. pray for the musicians to be holy, pure and to serve without distracting
  31. pray for the nursery workers and teachers to be patient and proclaim the gospel
  32. pray for the true conversions of our youth
  33. pray for fathers to lead in family worship at home with the children
  34. pray for the flock to sacrificially practice the 'one anothers'
  35. pray for generous, financial giving as a worshipful act in the church
  36. pray for spiritual strength and protection from the evil one and his schemes
  37. pray for the catechizing of our young people resulting in their conversions
  38. pray for the exaltation of God's Word and Christ's gospel in your church
  39. pray for the next generation that rises up to cling to Christ & follow Him
  40. pray for those without work and in need of employment
  41. pray for those who strive with wayward, unbelieving, godless children
  42. pray for a greater longing for heaven
  43. pray for a greater understanding of hell that would prompt urgent evangelism
  44. pray for the Lord's soon coming to catch-up believers and take us to heaven
  45. pray for enough suffering and hardship to keep us humble and dependent
  46. pray for sexual purity among all of God's people at the church
  47. pray for God's people to mortify sin quickly, decisively, violently & willingly
  48. pray for increased love for Christ and an increased ravishing by His love
  49. pray for more exposure to the gospel and more love for this message of redemption
  50. pray for more filling and power of the Holy Spirit in and among God's people
  51. pray for the Spirit to quicken souls during the preaching of God's Word
  52. pray for believers to biblically counsel one another with God's sufficient Word
  53. pray for the marriages of your elders to be strong, healthy, pure, and priority.
  54. pray for God's people to wrestle with God in fervent prayer daily
  55. pray for God to use the open-air proclamation of the gospel to quicken dead souls to life
  56. pray for the Word to go forth without distraction and pray for earnest focus during corporate worship
  57. pray for God’s people to all prepare diligently ahead of time for corporate worship and to be ready to worship God
  58. pray for intimacy, power, fellowship, and rejuvenation to come from the corporate prayer meeting of the church

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Duty of Christian Wives: Praying!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Prayer is the mightiest weapon that God has given to us as children of God. Christian wife, whatever marriage situation you find yourself in, remember that God’s glory is on display and He never withholds anything good from those who walk uprightly. So keep walking in holiness. Keep it your ambition to be pleasing to Christ in all respects. And resolve to walk in God’s ways and to obey His Word rather than to succumb to feelings and emotionalism. You may be married to Haman-like man or you may have a Holy Gentleman, Christian wife, resolve to be a woman of prayer. Mighty prayer prevails. Fervent prayer prevails. Honest prayer prevails. Hannah was a woman who knew this by experience. How can you be a Christian wife who glorifies Christ in a maximal way? Remember to give prayer a priority place and maintain it as a daily duty.

1. Pray Early. You may be a working woman with a full-time job. You may be a retired lady with grandchildren that you help provide care for. You may be a young mother raising children in the home. Whatever season of life you’re in, dear Christian wife, prioritize prayer. Rise early to meet with God. We do what we love the most and what brings great pleasure. The glorious God of the galaxies and the Lord of the ages invites you to meet with Him and commit all your ways to Him. Before you start nursing or before you drive to work or before you go to the gym or meet with those ladies, seek to remember this helpful maxim: meet with God first and find joy in Him before you begin your busy routine for the day. In a sense, we can do much after we’ve prayed but we can’t really do much till we’ve prayed. So rise early, while it’s still dark if needed, and seek the Lord of creation by calling upon His name and giving thanks to Him.

2. Pray Persistently. Jesus told a story of a persistent widow who came day after day to an unrighteous judge and pleaded her case. She persisted boldly and would not give up until her cause was heard and her cause was won. She prevailed! She persisted! And if an unrighteous judge who could care less for a helpless widow would finally give in to hear the request of a pitiful woman, how much more would the righteous and compassionate Father hear the pleas of His children and answer their requests! Godly wives, be women of prayer. Pray persistently for your children -- by name. Pray for their salvation, for their usefulness, for their holiness, for their perseverance, for their purity. Pray for your church. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for your nation. Pray for your leaders.

3. Pray Earnestly. Like Hannah, be women who pour out your souls to God in prayer. Pray as if everything in your day depended upon God hearing you and answering your specific requests. Pray with specificity. Pray with earnestness. Pray with boldness. Pray with urgency. Pray with humility and submission to the Father’s will. But pray in such a way that you believe your prayers accomplish amazing things and that your prayers reach God and affect God and prompt God to do what may be humanly impossible. So pray earnestly and desperately. Maybe you need to pray for the closing of an abortion clinic around the corner. Maybe you need to pray for an unbelieving husband who is godless and blasphemous. Maybe you need to pray for prodigal children who currently live in worldliness and sin. Maybe you need to pray for revival in your church, in your city, in your country! Pray! Pray on! Pray earnestly!

4. Pray Biblically. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a treasury of Scripture stored up in her heart. When the angel came to her and informed her that she would bear a child who would be the fulfillment of the Scriptures and bring redemption to His people, Mary responded with a bubbling forth of Scriptural praise! She was a woman who knew the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Undoubtedly she, as a righteous woman, was one who trusted God’s Word, studied God’s Word, memorized God’s Word, and sought to pray God’s Word. May you be encouraged to do likewise.

5. Pray Specifically. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Charles Spurgeon and how, as a young teenager, he remembered walking in his home and standing outside his mother’s bedroom door as she specifically, boldly, loudly, faithfully, and with tears, begged for God to save little Charles. Of course Spurgeon gave all glory to God in the work of Sovereign grace in his regeneration, he attributed his salvation to the prayers of his mother. She specifically prayed for him and for his salvation. And God heard her specific petitions. And he answered specifically. Do you pray specifically? What are you worried about? What are you fearful of? What gives you unrest in your heart and soul? Why are you nervous? What do you want or need to be in control of? What is it that tempts you? What is it that you want to be happy? Pray specifically to the Lord for His help, His grace, His protection, His power. And he will answer.

6. Pray Largely. God tells us to open our mouths wide and he will fill it (Ps 81.10). He tells us that he is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or even think (Eph 3.20-21). So pray big prayers. Consider: if God were to answer “YES” to your every prayer and actually give you every thing you prayed for, what would be different?  Would the president be converted?  Would all your neighbors be saved?  Would your church be revived with swarms of new converts?  Would your children all be regenerated and passionately following Christ and mightily used by Him for the advancement of His gospel? Would your church send out many new missionaries from within members of your flock? Pray big prayers! Pray largely! Pray in faith! Pray in confidence! See how God will answer your requests!

7. Pray Expectantly. When Jesus descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples attempted to cast a demon out of a young boy but they could not do it. And when the lamenting and desperate father approached Jesus, Jesus bewailed the pride of these men and told them that this can only be done in prayer (and fasting). Consider how important it is to pray and actually believe that God will hear and answer. Sometimes we pray but we aren’t alert in our praying and vigilant in expecting an answer! Paul told the Ephesians to be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints and to look for an answer. Be like Jacob who wrestled with the angel all night and expected that he would be heard and that his cause would be won. Submit to God’s sovereign decrees and at the same time, pray in humble, desperate faith knowing and expecting and anticipating that God will answer your prayers!

8. Pray Worshipfully. Like David who exemplified a man of worshipful prayer, pray as a worshiper! Be glad as a worshiper! Be mindful of God’s character and glory as you pray! Be humbled by His sovereign transcendence and His ever-present nearness as you pray! Be a worshiper and let your heart be full of awe and adoration as you exult in His great Name and gospel. Fill your heart with Scripture and respond with jubilant and prayerful praise. Christian wife, you have innumerable reasons to worship God in prayer! Consider the gospel by which you are saved! Think of the character of your triune God! Marvel at the intricate and incalculable creation God made and sustains! Glory in the church of Jesus Christ and all the myriads of saints of the ages that are saved by the blood of the Lamb! Worship! Pray! Rejoice! And give thanks!

A Duty of Christian Wives: Discipling Others.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

As a Christian wife, God blesses you with the privilege of investing in other souls as others have invested in you.  As you receive God’s Word in your daily study of Scripture, as you hear God’s Word preached from the pulpit week after week, and as you hear God’s Word read in the context of your home in family devotions or in bible reading with your husband, now God graces you with the joy of pouring what you’ve received into others.

So, be discipled and mentored. Be instructed and taught. Be submissive to your husband and allow him to read with you, read to you, teach you, and engage in dialogue about God and His Word together. But do not forget that you also have the wonderful, God-given opportunity to disciple others as well.

How can you disciple others? Here are five pastoral suggestions for Christian wives to consider.

1) Disciple in the home. A disciple means that one is a follower of Christ. To disciple in the home means that you follow Christ and plead with others to follow Christ together with you. You as a Christian wife may have children and you can disciple them in the context of your own home. You don’t need a big, flourishing ministry at church to “do discipleship.” Start where you are right in your home with those that God has entrusted under your care. Disciple your children toward Christ and show them, teach them, instruct them, and admonish them in the joy of following Christ!

2) Disciple on the go. You may need to go to the grocery store and perhaps you could take someone with you. You may be taking a meal to a family in your church that just had a baby so you may choose to take someone along with you. Disciple as you go may include bringing another Christian woman along with you as you go through the normal day to day activities. Perhaps you as a Christian wife are going to another younger mom’s home for an hour to encourage her while her children nap. Consider taking another woman from the church to join you for this fellowship, encouragement, and prayer. And ask good questions as you travel and talk together. Speak of Christ and of His gospel. Marvel at His grace and of His works! Discipleship doesn’t have to be a bunch of additional hour-long appointments. If you think and plan wisely, it could be done as you do the normal routine in your life as you bring another lady along with you in those duties.

3) Disciple when you gather (with believers at Sunday). Think of gathering with the family of God as opportunities for you to serve others. After all, we are to build up one another and we are to edify one another constantly. You may be primarily tied to the home as a Christian wife if you have smaller children. There’s nothing wrong with that. But refuse to fall into the thinking that you’re just not able to serve in the church because you’re too busy at home. Consider making Sunday a place where you intentionally and thoughtfully approach one person and initiate a Christ-centered conversation with them before or after worship. It may not be a planned gathering at Starbucks, but make no mistake, a Christ-centered conversation that advances holiness and stimulates thinking on Christ and on Scripture is discipleship! What if God graciously raised up 10 Christian women to reach out to 10 women at Church for this kind of verbal encouragement and discipleship ministry! May God use you to encourage others in your local church.

4) Disciple a woman in your church. Maybe you are a godly wife are in a season of life where you’re retired. Or perhaps the children have all moved out. It may be that your children are old enough and they’re all in school. Or, perhaps you’re married with no children yet. You can be a godly woman who disciples others by initiating a discipleship relationship with another woman (or two!) from your local church. Find a time and place that works. Pick a book of the Bible to read through together (e.g., Titus, Philippians, James, Romans). Talk through it little by little and apply it specifically. Pray for one another. You may even have small children and unable to get out of the home much of the week. But perhaps you could do it early on a Saturday morning while your husband is with the children and you gather with some ladies early for study of the Word and fellowship. The point of all this? To grow together with others and follow Christ together as the family of believers.

5) Disciple with much creativity.  Let us not try to fit every form of discipleship into a cookie-cutter form that can’t be creative or adapted to your schedule. For instance, don’t underestimate the importance and encouragement of letter writing. Perhaps you are gifted in this and you love making, designing, and writing cards. So do this. And encourage women in the church regularly through this form of stimulating them toward Christlikeness. Or you may have time to make phone calls to ladies and share a Scripture with them from time to time and to pray together.  May the Lord help you to be thoughtful, creative, intentional, and proactive in your pursuits of discipling others as a woman of God and as a follower of Jesus Christ.

This is part of the forthcoming eBook on The Duties of Christian Wives.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Some Benefits to Having a Paper Bible on Your Lap
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I have the mobile and electronic devices. I have a computer. I have an iPhone. And I use them daily. They benefit me tremendously in my work, in my writing, in my communication, and in my research. So I have no problem with the electronic devices and tablets and gadgets per se. But I'd like to share a few pastoral thoughts about why it may be beneficial and prudent to go to church with a paper bible in hand rather than a tablet, or an iPad, or an iPhone. In fact, I would suggest that it would be worth your serious consideration whether you should leave your cell phone (or tablet, etc) in the car while you’re in church. I suggest that this is especially true for parents with young and teenage children.

In what follows, I’ll provide what I believe to be some benefits of having a paper Bible with you and open before you when you gather with God’s people to worship.

1. it aids you in focusing in Scripture alone rather than the temptations a device may bring.
This may seem overly obvious but the cell phone is like bringing a truckload of temptations to your front porch. I’m not referring necessarily to sinful or immoral temptations. I’m just suggesting that we prioritize the Bible alone when we sit under the Word of God and there may be far fewer temptations when you have your paper Bible open on your lap and a pen and paper to take notes than there are if you’ve got your iPhone open with apps, calendars, scores, programs, games, and even ringers!

2. it prevents the endless distractions that could come with an electronic device (text/popup/reminder/internet).  Having your cell phone with your Bible on it may bring an unnecessary distraction or temptation to respond to this text or that alert or this email or that breaking news report, but why even put yourself in that situation to be distracted? True, someone may say that there are many other temptations (people sitting near you, the instruments, the preacher’s attire, etc.). But we live in a digital, cell-phone worshipping age, and doesn’t it seem prudent to do all that you can to intentionally focus on God’s Word in God’s House rather than bring a gadget that may distract you from hearing what God has for you through the Word of God?

3. it sets an example for the children/teens to have an open Bible.  This is the passion that gave rise to this article. Dear parents, how do you teach your children? Do you want to model for them to get a little Bible on their phone here or there? Do we really believe that when our children are on their phones that they’re doing nothing but studiously poring over the Scriptures? Perhaps -- and we pray this would be the case. But oftentimes, it isn’t. What if you have your children (children and teens and young adults) bring their paper bible with them to church and leave their cell phone in the car. And parents, you do the same! Set the example. Show them it’s good and proper and beneficial to have a Bible and to use it well, know it well, love it, know it, memorize it, and walk with it.

4. it serves in cross-reference study to have fingers in 2 or more scriptures to compare. It’s far easier to track with the preaching of the Word if the preacher goes from Scripture to Scripture and text to text and Testament to Testament when you have a paper Bible.  It can just be quicker and more profitable to have your paper Bible open and turning with the teacher to the texts that he’s reading. You could even leave a piece of paper there in a text for further study at a later point.

5. it helps you learn the order of the books of the Bible better. This is mentioned because of the overwhelming illiteracy of the Bible in our day. It is good to know the books of the Bible and the order of the books of the Bible! One knows the order of the books of the Bible better when he has a paper Bible and is flipping from book to book rather than just going to a Table of Content screen and tapping the Book. Take 25 seconds and see if you can turn to Malachi, then Matthew, then Ruth, then Romans, then 1 Chronicles, then 1 Corinthians, then Hosea, then Hebrews, then Song of Solomon, then Philemon. See if someone can do it quicker in a paper Bible or on a tablet. I suggest it would be the person with the paper Bible.

6. it familiarizes you with the text & with locating Scriptures for future reference. As you track with the preacher by looking at the texts, words, phrases, paragraphs in your text you become familiar with texts themselves and where the texts are in your particular copy of God’s Word so that in future times of need, you can go back and reference a verse or section. Even though you may not remember the specific reference you may remember, for example, that it was on the top side of the left column on the left page of your Bible. This can only be done with a paper copy of God’s Word.

7. it may allow you to mark in your Bible a note or two or a cross reference. I suppose there may be some apps or programs that allow you to take notes on the digital devices, but it’s not the same as underlining a key word, or drawing a circle and connecting it to key word a few verses earlier, or jotting down an outline in a particular portion of Scripture in your own personal Bible for study. This is more readily available in having your paper Bible open and before you.

8. it contributes to the benefit of reading books (chapters) and not just reading clips/quotes (from a device).  When we read on our phones or tablets we train ourselves to read little portions at a time (or, what can fit on a screen in front of us) and then as we keep scanning or flipping or scrolling to read more and more text, it can become burdensome and tedious. But having an open Bible on your lap more easily lends itself to lengthy Bible reading and focused times of saturating in Scripture.

9. it presents a kind of priority & seriousness as you carry and open and study your Bible. We don’t parade ourselves around carrying Bibles just to be seen and noticed by others. That would be arrogant and prideful. Nevertheless, there is something important about walking to church with a Bible in hand. You have your Bible and you understand that you’re in God’s House to study God’s Word with God’s people. As you carry your Bible and study your Bible, there’s a priority and a seriousness as you have it with you and set it before you and reference it with your eyes continually during the sermon.

10. it will not die if you use it constantly for 10+ hours. There's no battery life to the written text of the Bible! Quite simply, electronic devices have battery life that sometimes can fade out and die. But, of course, with your paper Bible, it never gets low in battery life!

   Quite simply, what are the benefits of having an open, paper Bible before you at church?
  1. PROTECTION (from distractions as it protects you from unnecessary popups, texts, alerts, emails, scores, etc.)
  2. FOCUS  (helps you in focusing on Scripture alone as you zoom in on the book resting on your lap as the priority)
  3. EXAMPLE (this especially is true for parents to model the setting aside of devices and guard from distractions)
  4. STUDY (aids in cross-reference/turning to multiple scriptures as you flip from Scripture to Scripture in a sermon)
  5. ORDER (with a paper Bible, you learn the order of books of the Bible far better than on a device)
  6. FAMILIARIZATION (with texts/where they're located on the page for review at a later point)
  7. NOTE-TAKING  (jotting down notes in your paper Bible can be easier and more memorable than on a device)
  8. SERIOUSNESS (take your bible to church to hear God talk; there's a reason God gave us a *book* & we use it)
  9. SUSTAINABILITY (the bible just doesn't lose battery-life, doesn't die; it always has full charge!)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Duty of Christian Wives: Teaching Children [& Grandchildren]
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

[This is part of a forthcoming eBook on "The duties of Christian wives."]

Timothy’s mother and grandmother had sincere faith and undoubtedly instructed him in godliness from a very early age. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:15 says that from his nursing days he knew the sacred writings which were able to give him the wisdom that led to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. That is to say, Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him biblical truth even from the nursing years. Remember King Lemuel who was taught by his mother (Prov 31:1). Let godly wives never underestimate the power of teaching God’s Word to their children. And let grandparents never underestimate the power of the Scripture when pressing it home upon the hearts of the grandchildren.  The Bible clearly presents a pattern of godly parents teaching biblical truth and instructing truth to children. Indeed, Psalm 78 says that this must be done so that the children we have can tell to the next generation to put their confidence in God (Ps 78:6-7). Let all parents and grandparents carefully heed these examples and seek, by God’s grace, to do likewise.

1) Teach Scripture Daily. Moses commanded the people of Israel to teach God’s words diligently to their children -- even when lying down and rising up, when at home and when traveling (Deut 6:6-9). May godly mothers carefully receive and diligently apply the truths set forth in the Old Testament and the command in Eph 6:4 to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Godly wives, make it your priority if God has graced you with children in the home to teach biblical truths to them every single day. Like a little water that is added over the course of time, a small tree will grow into a mighty and unshakeable oak tree. So it is with God’s Word. May you instruct your children’s hearts with God’s truth so that the doctrines of the Bible will sink deep into their minds and guide them all through life. From the youngest of ages, teach your children Scripture -- teach them about God, man, sin, Christ, the Spirit, the gospel, faith, repentance, the Church, and eternity.

2) Teach Godliness Practically. Godly wives, live out Christian piety in the home so that your children can see you. Don’t be a Christian just for the sole purpose of being seen and noticed by your children. But you should live out your Christian live in such a way that the doctrine you verbalize is enfleshed by your conduct. Your instruction should be preached by your lifestyle every day. As a Christian wife, show your children self control, the sufficiency of the Word, the importance and centrality of the local church, the need to pray for the unsaved around you, the joy of walking with Christ, and the priority of prayer. All that you teach with your mouth, preach with your life. Enflesh your instruction.

3) Teach Prayer Continually. Godly wives, you have the greatest weapon in the history of mankind always and ever at your disposal -- prayer. You can storm the mercy seat of the great King of heaven and earth and plead your petitions before Him in the name of Christ! So go often! Go frequently! Go humbly! Go desperately! Go persistently! Have your children obeyed you? Then go together to God’s throne and give thanks! Have they sinned by lying? Then go to God in humble repentance and beg for forgiveness. Have you sinned against them? Then seek their forgiveness and pray together. Is there a magnificent storm outside? Then worship God and extol His mighty power together! Teach prayer often and regularly. Teach different kinds of prayer, mothers.  Teach your children to not only ask things of God but also to adore God for who He is. Teach your children to thank God for what He’s done and to praise Him for all His promises. Teach your children to pray for the lost and to beg God for the advancement of the gospel among the nations! Teach it, model it, and then actually do it. Pray together.

4) Teach Repentance Carefully. Godly wives, the more you grow in Christ the more you’ll see your sin. The heart-desires you have that control you at times, the anger that may come out, the selfishness that may manifest itself in various ways. So repent to God and repent to those whom you have offended. And let your children see this and hear this and join in with you in this. Godly moms, never underestimate the power of modeling repentance and contrition before the Lord. Show them that God is the holy God of the universe but also a merciful God to penitent sinners!

5) Teach Humility Preeminently. Be careful, Christian wives, how you present yourself. Guard your attitude! Guard how you talk about others and how you respond to others. Guard from pride! Set the example in instructing your children that humility is always better than pride. Pride is Satan’s way and humility is God’s way. Seek to teach this verbally and to live it out practically. Humility must be preeminent in your teaching. Show this as you relate to your husband, as you pray for other church members, as you go with your children to serve the needy and care for the helpless in the church. Teach and model humility as it is ultimately found in the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel!

6) Teach Theology Widely.  While your husband is away at work, make it a point to be the resident-teacher to download God’s truth from His Word into the hearts of your children. This requires, godly wives, that you will first learn and study theology on your own so you can then impart it to your children. Never underestimate the importance of teaching theology and a biblical worldview. Teach theology in such a way that everything -- yes, every single thing -- is viewed through the purview of God’s sufficient Word. Teach them the attributes and person of God. Teach them about the depravity and wretchedness of all mankind. Teach them about God’s sovereign work in sending Christ to make propitiation for the sins of His people. Teach them about the Spirit who regenerates, sanctifies, and seals us for glory. Teach them about the beauty and necessity and involvement in the local church. Teach them about future things such as heaven, hell, the last judgment and the nearness of death.

7) Teach Submission Visually.
As your children see you, Christian wives, submitting to your husband, you will actually be teaching your daughters not only how they should submit to their husbands (or showing your sons the kind of wives they want to find and marry) but you also will be modeling how all believers should be submitting to Christ Jesus. After all, the way a wife submits to her husband is to be a picture of how the church submits to Christ. So never underestimate the power of a submissive attitude as you honor your husband, respect him, speak well about him, do what he says, follow his leadership, and worship God in seeking to complete and bless him as your companion. This kind of godly attitude and conduct in your marriage relationship will teach submission visually for your children.

More resources on Godly motherhood can be found here and here.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Man of God: Consider Growing in These Ways As You Lead at Home
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Godly men love God and pursue His Word with constant vigilance. Not in our own strength, but with God’s daily supply of sufficient grace, and with His constant forgiveness when we fall short and fail, we continually strive to worship Christ, magnify Him, and refocus on the duties He requires of us. And the greatest environment where we can live out godliness, and where we will have the most lasting impact in this life (and for generations to come!) is in the context of the home. Men, we are leaders in our homes. And as we lead, consider growing in these five specific ways.

Man of God: lead by DYING DAILY.  When God gave you the new-birth, the heavenly-birth, indeed, the second birth, you really began to live. But paradoxically, when God gave you life, it required your death! You died to yourself. Moreover, Christ summons all of us to die daily and to take up our cross and to follow Him. Dear brother in Christ: how can you die daily? Specifically, in your context, in your home situation, with your wife, with your children (or grandchildren!), with your neighbors, in your local church sphere, how can you die daily? Is there one thing that you could put off while replacing it with a very specific, tangible, selfless duty that would encourage and bless your wife (or children)? Doing the dishes? Taking out the trash? Writing a note to your wife and children? Making coffee for your wife? Coming home from work, shelving the iPhone, and giving full attention to the kids (or, your wife) and lavishing them with affectionate love? Dear men: we are called to love by dying to self. Let’s grow & excel in this!

Man of God: lead by ENLARGED PRAYING. God called the people of Israel to open their mouths wide and then God promised: “I will fill it” (Ps 81:10). Do you pray small prayers or big prayers? What if God were to say “yes” to all of your requests? Consider how much would really change? Honestly. What about your neighbors? Family members? The most hostile, postmodern, anti-God co-worker that you may have? What about the millions of souls that need conversion in our land? What about the shutting down of all Planned Parenthoods? What about God converting your children at a young age?What about God giving you wisdom to generously support a missionary? Man of God, I trust that you pray, but how can you enlarge your prayers so that we can ask big things of a big God. Remember: God does far more abundantly beyond all that we could ask or even think (Eph 3.20). Let’s enlarge our prayers and see God mightily work!

Man of God: lead by ROMANTIC DATING.  You may be married -- and you may be happily married. But dear man of God, the duty belongs to you to cultivate and maintain the embers of romance in your marriage. Romantically date your wife. You have married up! God gave you a gift in a wife. God declares: he who finds a wife finds a good thing (Prov 18:22). When was the last time you got her flowers? When was the last time you took her to her favorite restaurant? When was the last time you asked her specific, open-ended questions probing deep into the recesses of her heart (what excites her? What scares her? What blesses her? What is is most enthralled with regarding God’s attributes? etc.). When was the last time you lit candles and played her favorite music for an evening of romance, affection, and selfless giving of oneself to another? Dear man of God: it’s not your wife’s duty to romance you, you are the leader and the God-given privilege is yours to romance your wife. So date her and romantically date her with heartfelt passion and genuine affection!

Man of God: lead by FAMILY WORSHIP. In our society of bustling busyness, man of God, I ask whether or not you lead in regular, consistent, God-centered family worship? Do you lead and pastor your family well? It doesn’t matter if you have theological training or if you don’t have all the answers or even if you are a “really busy man.” The priority is and always will be the souls that God has entrusted to our care for the specific time we have them (our wives and our children). You are the resident “in-house-pastor.” Do you gather your (whole) family and praise Christ in song? Do you gather the family and read the Word together and discuss it? Do you gather the family and pray together with intentional gatherings of Christ-exalting worship? God deserves to be worshiped, in our homes, by our families, on a daily basis! Men, let’s lead by fulfilling what just might be the greatest and most important duty God has given to us in this life. Don’t just do it for me, for you, for your wife, for your kids, but for “generations to come” praying that your kids would do it with their kids and so on. May you leave a legacy of a family who gathers together to worship Jesus together on a daily basis.

Man of God: lead by ENHANCING JOYFULNESS. Your home may be a place of warm and inviting joy. But how can you enhance joyfulness? How can you grow in your understanding of what true joy really is? Joy is not synonymous with giddiness or feeling positive. Joy, biblically defined, intimates a deep-rooted and unshakable confidence that God is perfectly in control -- in all things. Thus, we can really be joyful at all times and in all circumstances. So how can you cultivate this in your home? How can you remind your kids of this when a kid picks on your child on the schoolyard? When another team slaughters your daughter’s volleyball team in a tournament? When your child studied hard but didn’t do well on that particular exam? How can we cultivate and enhance and remind our families of biblical joy rooted in God through all things that happen. When you drive and behold a full moon in the clouds, how can you remind them of God’s greatness and rejoice? When you drive to church to worship the Risen King with the saints, how can you remind your family to rejoice? Dear man, I trust you already are joyful. But how can you grow and enhance joyfulness in your home environment? May the Lord help us to be joyful men.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Duty of Christian Wives: Submission.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I suppose there may be no more controversial word in modern times than “submission.” But thankfully we walk by faith, not by sight. Our marching orders come from the clear revelation of God in the Bible and not by men’s opinions that can be located online. If one were to simply scan society today, one would need not look very long before understanding that the wife’s duty to submit in the marriage relationship for God’s glory and for her joy seems to be forgotten. Actually, it’s willfully rejected and arrogantly trashed as nonsense and some even go so far as to suggest that submission is harmful for females. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Submission actually is a wonderful concept that all people are called to. All Christians are commanded to submit to God (James 4:7). All Christians are called to submit to their church leaders and to obey them (Heb 13:17). Christians are all called to submit to authorities in government (Rom 13; 1 Pet 2:13). So submission is not a bad thing in and of itself. It’s not evil. It’s not harmful. It’s not bad. It’s not given by God to make life miserable. Rather, just as there are different role and distinctions that we all understand, submission is a given. For instance, in the workplace, the boss leads and the employees are to follow the instructions of the leadership. Even in the Trinity there is various distinctions in role and function: “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3). The idea of “head” or “headship” signifies authority. It’s not a bad thing. There is authority in the workplace. There is authority in government. There is authority in the local church. So there is authority in the home. This does not mean the wife is less important or to be looked down upon! While remaining equal in person, worth, and dignity, there are still differences in role and function and responsibility that exist. And that’s where submission comes in when dealing with the marriage. In the Bible, God calls the wife to submit to her husband.

God says: "wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22). Elsewhere, God says: "wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col 3:18). Submission is commanded by God of all Christian wives to their husbands. So how is a Christian wife to submit?

Submit WORSHIPFULLY. The glorious way that God describes a woman’s role to submit is so profound. It’s far deeper than sheer obedience. Submission is not synonymous with obedience or just “getting the job done.” Anyone could force someone to obey, I suppose. But submission, at its very fundamental level, is a heart disposition. One could obey and hate it. But one could never biblically submit while the heart is fuming or bitter inside. That’s called hypocrisy and that’s not what God calls us to. So, Christian women are to submit -- and they are to do it “as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22). Amazingly, this catapults the realm of submission into the realm of worship. The way that a wife submits to her husband is to be the way that she submits to the Lord. She should do so willingly, heartfully, joyfully, happily, patiently, prayerfully, and hopefully. She should submit with a glad heart, a thankful heart, and a trusting heart. Only women who have been saved by God’s grace can do this, however. It’s wrong to assume that God’s standards for a Christian marriage can be expected in a marriage between unbelievers. But when God has transformed the soul, and regenerated the heart, and given His Spirit to reside within the believer, now that woman can -- is able to! -- submit to her husband in a worshipful disposition as if she would be submitting to her Savior and Lord!

Submit UNCONDITIONALLY. “I’ll submit if you only…” No! The Bible knows no conditions! The only exception that the Bible provides for not submitting to government, church leaders, or a husband is if you are demanded to specifically sin against Scripture. In such a case (and only in such a case), the godly wife must choose to obey God rather than men. But preferences, or opinions, or feelings, or emotions don’t constitute as biblical reasons to not submit to one’s husband. Wives, God calls you to submit to your husbands. This is fitting in the Lord. It is well pleasing to Him. There are no exception clauses. First Peter chapter 3 even has biblical counsel for godly wives who are married to unbelieving husbands -- even, very harsh, very unreasonable, very ungodly, very foolish husbands -- and the counsel God gives is for wives to “be submissive” to your own husbands (1 Pet 3:1). This requires daily taking up one’s cross, following after Christ, and doing what He says -- for His glory, trusting in His plan, and relying on His power.

Submit HEARTFULLY. Make it your ambition to submit to your husband with a happy heart that trusts that God’s ways are best. That way, if you relate to your husband and submit to him with this on your heart and mind, you will submit even in the tough and difficult times. And even in those times when you don’t feel as though he deserves it, remember that you submit to your husband with a heart that trusts in God, in His Word, and in the reality that there is great satisfaction found in obeying God rather than doing what seems easy in the moment. To submit heartfully means that our inner man -- our heart, our mind, our thought patterns, our inner person -- must be daily transformed by Scripture so that the way that we think, the way that we respond, the way that we communicate, and the way that we conduct ourselves is guided by, governed by, and guarded by God’s Word. The more that you immerse yourself in Scripture, the more you will do what God calls you to do in the specific role in which He has put upon you -- and you’ll do it with all your heart. Remember the Apostle Paul said that whatever you do in word or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Col 3:17). And a bit later, Paul also said: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col 3:23). True submission is a heart disposition that follows God’s design for you in the marriage context as you ultimately serve your heavenly Lord and Master! This is the path of true and lasting and fulfilling joy.

Submit JOYFULLY. Submit joyfully. It’s easy, a wife may say, to submit to a Godly husband. But remember, there are no perfect husbands in this world and the joy comes not in what seems easiest or what appears to be the most fun or what brings the most immediate gratification, but joy comes in a settled, unshakeable disposition and conviction that God is for my good and that God remains in control in and through all things -- for His glory. That is why you can have joy even when you submit to an imperfect man. God is in control and is sovereignly and providentially working all His preordained plan out according to His purposes in you, through you, and in your marriage! Rejoice in this! After all, God calls us to rejoice always! Don’t be worried and don’t be fearful! Trust in God and believe in Him! Don’t be anxious but be prayerful. Cast yourself entirely and daily upon Him. Joyfully rest in His character as you seek to obey His commands. He will honor that and reward you on that final day! Submit with a satisfied joy!

Biblical submission is a God-graced duty for all Christian women to place themselves under the authority of their husbands. It is a willful, a deliberate, a daily, a trusting, and a joyful following of God’s ways regardless of how one may feel in the moment because we as Christians must live by what we know to be true and never by what we’re feeling in the moment. Emotions are never solid grounds to determine how or what we are to think or do. May God equip and help Christian wives to submit to their husbands with happy hearts and with a worshipful attitude -- for His glory!

This is part of the forthcoming eBook on the Duties of Christian wives.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Effectively & Maximally Utilizing the Weekly ‘Preparation for Worship’ Email
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

NOTE: I understand that not all local churches have a weekly 'Preparation-For-Worship' email that is sent out. This is particularly geared for the saints at Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis) where this is the case. And this is a pastoral encouragement to take that email and utilize it effectively.

At Christ Fellowship Bible Church in St Louis, Missouri, we send out a ‘Preparation for Corporate Worship’ email usually on Thursday or Friday to the congregation to aid them in preparing for worship for the upcoming Sunday gathering. 

Consider, bread bakes quicker when the oven is warm. Imagine if our hearts were warmed by prayer, bible reading, meditation, and anticipation when we arrived for corporate worship! How much more could we glean?

Preparation. We all get it. You prepare for a math quiz. You prepare for a annual budget meeting. You prepare for your appointment with the business client who is in town. You prepare for the presentation you have to give at the convention in the near future. We even prepare early for the football games that we attend. We all prepare for things. We get this.

How much could the church of the Lord Jesus Christ exponentially grow if we deliberately and devotionally prepared for the corporate worship gatherings?

In this message, I want to provide 7 suggestions that the Christ Fellowship Bible Church congregation can consider in utilizing in the preparation for worship email to the maximum.

1. Pray specifically. — This may seem obvious, but let me state it just in case. The most powerful instrument available to us in our preparation for, presence during, and application following corporate worship is fervent, persistent, believing, specific prayer. Yes, pray ahead of time and the more specific you can be in your praying, the better.

2. Read carefully.  — Since the habit at Christ Fellowship is to preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible, this is usually quite simple to follow, but you can read the text that will be preached for the upcoming Sunday. Read it thoughtfully. Read it slowly. Read it prayerfully. Read it devotionally. Read it studiously. Read it worshipfully.  Even consider reading the public reading of Scripture text that will be preached (often we read through a Psalm or another portion of Scripture at the beginning of the worship gathering).

3. Sing carefully.  —  Take special note of the songs that'll be sung. Consider picking one, or two, or all of them (if you have the time) and ponder the lyrics and sing them & think of the theology, Scriptures that it points to and brings to mind.

Consider doing numbers 1-3 together with your family in ‘family worship’ on, say, Saturday evening or Sunday morning. O imagine the blessing and preparedness when the entire family comes to corporate worship having prayed specifically, read the Word carefully, and sung the songs thoughtfully! What a blessing that’d be! And what an example that would set for the children!

4. Arrive early.  —  Consider arriving early to serve, set up, meet folks, extend a hand of greeting. Make it your goal to seek to pray with & encourage one person. Rather than coming at the moment of the start of church (or, worse, 15 minutes late!), leave earlier and arrive earlier so as to edify the saints and then be in your seat for a few moments before the service begins to quiet your heart, ask for the Spirit to give you focus, careful attention to Truth, and a worshipful gaze upon Christ throughout the entirety of the gathering!

5. Serve proactively.  —  In the emails, we list a number of things going on that upcoming week (or, in the near future). So, find a ministry going on, or an event, or an evangelism outing and seek to participate in it. Indeed, if you can’t attend it, pray for it. Consider attending and meeting folks and encouraging them in the ministry. Consider serving in a care group. Consider giving folks a ride if that’s a need.

6. Read broadly.  —  In the emails we send out, there are usually about 4-6 resource links at the bottom of the email for further reading and study on a given topic -- bible knowledge, theology, biography, biblical counseling, Christian living, etc. So, find just one article & then read it carefully and enhance your theological, practical, counseling understanding. Or, read them all if you're able and have the time! Maybe print them out and put them in the car and if you have a few minutes here or there, pull one out and read it. If you’re early for a lunch appointment or waiting for a meeting to begin, read through one of the articles. These are carefully selected to encourage you and bless you and guide you in the ways of truth so we grow in thinking biblically.

7. Encourage thoughtfully. —  Dear flock, you see who is serving! You observe what's going on! You notice who will be preaching. Consider this as a pastoral suggestion: make it a point to weekly approach one person and specifically encourage them. Don’t flatter them (there’s a difference!). Glorify God by affirming what God is doing through that person for the benefit of the flock (or, you personally!). What would happen if the Savior graciously cultivated in us an encouraging, affirming, upbuilding culture of love!

In conclusion, these 7 suggestions are ways to incorporate the Preparation for Worship email that it sent to you each week and to use it well. This is a guide to the preparation guide! May the Lord help us to deliberately prepare for worship to devotionally grow in His Word, and to delightfully magnify the Savior as we emulate Him, worship Him, and love His redeemed people!

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