Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Titus 1:1 - "...the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness"
(Titus 1:1 - ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας τῆς κατ᾽ εὐσέβειαν)

Isn't it amazing that Paul reminds the believers in Crete that the knowledge of the truth is not an end in and of itself. Knowledge about God is good — and commendable. But this is only a step to the ongoing life of godliness. In other words: what you learn must affect the way you live. What you hear preached in church must affect how you live during the week. What you meditate on every day in God's Word must affect the way you live during the day.

Does your knowledge of the truth affect the godliness of your life?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Amazing and totally relevant truth can be found in Ezekiel 33.

Jerusalem has just been ransacked by Nebuchadnezzar & the Babylonians (Ezek 33:21-29). Ezekiel and others are already in exile and they have received news from a messenger that the city has been taken (33:21).

God told Ezekiel, the son of man, to continue preaching even when the people of Israel come before Ezekiel and listen to his message (33:30). They come as God's people come, they sit before him as he delivers God's message which comes from the mouth of the LORD (33:31).

But when the people come, they sit and listen to God's Word, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain (33:31). What a picture of people who are totally religious outwardly, they sit in church regularly, yet they sin blatantly and rebel against God (33:31).

So bad is it that Ezekiel has become to these people like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument for they hear your words (which he speaks for YHWH) but they do not practice them (33:32).

So when the judgment finally happens, as surely as it will declares the LORD, that the people will know that a prophet has been in their midst!

From this text we see that the preacher, the watchman and spokesman for the Lord, must be faithful to deliver faithfully the Word of the LORD. He must not fear man nor skimp on the tough doctrines. But he must be faithful to the commission of God His Master.

The responsibility of the people is to sit and hear the Word from the Lord spoken through the preacher (God's mouthpiece). BUT, the people must listen to and apply the Word of God rather than continually rejecting the Word of the Lord so that they can walk in the lusts of their flesh and in the idolatries of their heart.

Preacher - do people know that "a prophet has been in their midst" when you preach?

Christian - do you hear the Word of the Lord regularly and apply what you hear specifically, deliberately, and carefully so that your life changes where it needs to change and so you don't leave 'church' to then enter again into the idolatries, sins, and lusts of life?

How relevant & clear God's Word is!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some very helpful words from John Piper:

When you don't delight in God, what can you do to change?

1. Realize that authentic joy and delight in God is a gift (Gal 5:22; Ps 51:12).

2. Realize that joy must fought for relentlessly (2 Cor 1:24; Phil 1:25; 2 Tim 4:7; 1 Tim 6:12).

3. Resolve to attack all known sin in your life (however big or small they are!) (Rom 6:11-13).

4. Realize that the battle for joy and delight in God is fundamentally a fight to see God for Who He really is (Ps 34:8; 2 Cor 4:4-6; 1 John 3:2; Ps 9:10)!

5. Meditate on God's Word day and night (Ps 23:3; Ps 19:7,8; John 15:11; Ps 1:2-3; Rom 15:13).

6. Pray earnestly and relentlessly for open heart-eyes and a genuine delight in God (John 16:24; Ps 90:14; Ps 85:6).

7. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself (Ps 42:5).

8. Be patient in the night of 'God's seeming absence' and continue to trust in Him (Ps 40:1-3).

(adapted from John Piper, Desiring God, 352-64)

Friday, November 25, 2011

What a fabulous opportunity the preacher has to delve into God's Word and studies the profound glories of it. One such doctrine the Bible teaches is that all true believers will go to heaven and be with the Lord.

Tomorrow night I'm preaching on how we as believers will relate to God in heaven. My topic is lofty. The Scriptures are sufficient. My notes are long. And my heart is full. Just think, we as redeemed sinners will have unobstructed vision of God, unhindered fellowship with God, and unending delight in God! What a profound gift of God's grace!

At the conclusion of my sermon, I've got the words to Fanny Crosby's hymn My Savior First of All (wrote in 1891):

When my life work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.

Oh, the soul thrilling rapture when I view His blessèd face,
And the luster of His kindly beaming eye;
How my full heart will praise Him for the mercy, love and grace,
That prepare for me a mansion in the sky.

Oh, the dear ones in glory, how they beckon me to come,
And our parting at the river I recall;
To the sweet vales of Eden they will sing my welcome home;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.

Through the gates to the city in a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.

Amazingly, Crosby wrote those words as a blind woman. When she died, the first person she saw was Jesus!

So then:
"Let your souls delight in communion with God while you are on earth, since you look for your happiness in communion with Him in heaven. Let your speech and actions savor heaven; and in your manner of life, look like the country to which you are going! . . . In heaven, you will have peace and plenty, profit and pleasure, and everything desirable; full satisfaction of your most enlarged desires. Let the expectations of heaven, then, lift up your heads with joy! Gird up your loins and so run that you may obtain, trampling on everything that may hinder you on your way to the kingdom. Never regard any duty too hard, nor any cross too heavy, nor any pains too great, so that you may attain the crown of glory" (Thomas Boston)!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving is never out of season, for we have always much to be grateful for.

We must view ALL THINGS as . . .
  • arranged by His wisdom,
  • dependent on His will,
  • sanctified by His blessing,
  • according with His promises,
  • and flowing from His love!

"In everything give thanks!" 1 Thess 5.17

HT: James Smith
Enjoy some turkey & football today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Martin Luther was right in the 16th century in answering the question: what happens at the moment of salvation?

Though faith in Jesus Christ alone and by God's matchless grace alone, God forgives the sinner.


God imputes (=credits, reckons) Christ's perfect righteousness to the sinner as if it were the sinner's own.

Thus, when the sinner recognizes his own sin and his own need of divine grace to rescue him from eternal judgment and he places his faith in Jesus Christ alone recognizing that He took the Father's wrath on the cross in the place of the deserving sinner. Thus, God forgives the sinner. At the same time, God doesn't just forgive the sinner and leave him "neutral." He imputes to that sinner all of Christ's perfect righteousness as if it were the sinner's very own perfection. Thus, the sinner receives an "alien righteousness."

This is the gift of God in salvation. "Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I rejoice greatly in the faithfulness of God to His covenant with His people, Israel. What God started and promised, He will fulfill perfectly and completely.

My study in God's Word this morning led me to Ezekiel 20 which is where Ezekiel recounts God's dealings with Israel in her past when God chose Israel and revealed Himself to her (20:5) and promised them a better land in which to dwell (20:6). Yet they rebelled and worshiped false idols (20:8).

So God thrust them into the wilderness (20:10) to test them and show His sovereign power, love, and provision for them — even in the midst of disciplining them. Yet they still rebelled against God and walked after their idols (20:13, 16).

So God promised them in the wilderness that they would be scattered among the nations and dispersed among all the lands if they did not obey and follow Yahweh (20:23; cf. Lev 26 and Deut 28). Yet when they entered the land of promise, they worshiped idols and followed their detestable and wicked practices (20:27-29).

Yet God sovereignly determines in v.33 that He will be their King (20:33). There will come a point when Israel knows that He is the LORD (20:38).

THEN Ezekiel tells them that "later" Israel will listen to God, and His holy name will not be profaned any longer. For on God's holy mountain (=Jerusalem), on the high mountain of Israel there will be Israel—all of them—serving the Lord in the land of Israel (20:40). There God will accept them and God will seek their worship. Israel will know that He is the LORD (20:41-42). Israel will remember her past and "loathe herself" for all the evil that she has done in Yahweh's sight (20:43).

I am quite confident that this passage (just one of a myriad) teaches the history of Israel beginning with God's election of her, to her time in Egypt, to her wanderings in the wilderness, to her entering into the Land of Promise, to her exile and restoration, leading and culminating in the kingdom in Israel where God is her King and where they recognize their past sin and acknowledge God for who He really is. (*note: this has yet to happen, read Rom 9 and esp. 11*).

God is a faithful God and keeps His promises — even when Israel continues to reject Him. But thanks be to God for His unconditional faithfulness to His own promises. He will most certainly restore Israel in the future and bring her back into the land of Israel for her kingdom where He will receive her worship & be glorified in her.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wayne Mack helps by offering three insights:

1. The inerrant Bible to which Christians are committed as an authority in life teaches that God has provided for us in His Word whatever is true and necessary for successful living. It declares that God has given us, in the Bible, everything we need for being in right relationship with God, ourselves, and other people.

2. Because this is true, professing Christians have two options: either they must yield to its teaching on this matter or they must abandon the idea that the Bible is inerrant and authoritative. It is either inerrant and authoritative and also sufficient or it is none of these things. If the Bible claims to be sufficient in the ways and for the purposes previously delineated and it is not, then you cannot say it is inerrant and authoritative. Given what the Bible teaches about itself, you simply cannot have it both ways.

3. This final conclusion is a natural concomitant of accepting the truthfulness of the first conclusion: Because the Bible asserts its own sufficiency for counseling-related issues, secular psychology has nothing to offer for understanding or providing solutions to the non-physical problems of people. When it comes to counseling people, we have no reason for depending on the insights of finite and fallen men. Rather, we have every reason to place our confidence in the sure, dependable, and entirely trustworthy revelation of God given to us in Holy Scripture. That is because it contains a God-ordained, sufficient, comprehensive system of theoretical commitments, principles, insights, goals, and appropriate methods for understanding and resolving the non-physical problems of people. It provides for us a model that needs no supplement. God, the expert on helping people, has given us in Scripture counseling perspectives and methodology that are wholly adequate for resolving our sin- related problems.

(from Wayne Mack, "Sufficiency of Scripture in Counseling," TMSJ 9, no. 1 [Spring 1981]: 82).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hell. Few believe it & it is seldom that preachers herald it. but last night my responsibility was to herald Revelation 14.9-12, the scariest text in the Bible on eternal hell.

Listen or stream here.
If Christ is the Head and if He builds his church,

Then we must trust in Him that His purposes and plans for the church will be accomplished.

Then we must acknowledge that He will build His church, not programs, people, entertainment, or anything else.

Then we must remember that everything we do must exalt Him as the Head and Sovereign over His Church.

Then we must content with all our might holding firm to the great confession that Jesus Christ is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Then we must accept any way that He supports the church.

Then we must allow Him to speak in and through the regular reading and the faithful proclamation of His Word.

Then the church growth movements and strategies that are culturally driven are doomed to failure since Christ’s headship and sovereignty are not culturally bound.

Then we must make certain that we are holy, pure, undefiled, and useful to the Master to accomplish this work of serving Him in the building of His church.

Then we should regularly repent of our sin when we often strive to build Christ’s church according to our methods, desires, ego-centric passions, and self-styled sovereignty.

Then we must have flexibility in humbly and joyfully accepting change because not all of our plans may be in direct harmony with God’s sovereign prerogative.

Then we must be exuberant and unending with our joy because Christ’s church is His body and it shall never fail.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Timely, good, and heart-penetrating words concerning Richard Baxter:

Baxter's preaching was characterized by a passionate evangelistic appeal. The great reality which moulded his ministry was the fact that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Extreme bodily weakness increased his awareness that there was but a step between him and death, whom he called his 'neighbour'. Every duty was to be carried out, every sermon preached, in the light of the great day. 'I daily know and think of that approaching hour', he says. His congregation is described as 'a company of ignorant, carnal, miserable sinners... who must be changed or damned. Methinks I even see them entering upon their final woe! Methinks I hear them crying out for help, for speediest help!'

This awareness of eternity made Baxter an emotional preacher. 'If you want to know the art of pleading' said Spurgeon, 'read Baxter.' Yet his emotion was not undisciplined, but fuelled by his comprehension of truth, for he had no time for 'an affected fervency.' 'Light first, then heat' was his motto — first the exposition of the truth, then the words of piercing appeal springing from that truth. At the close of 'A Call to the Unconverted to turn and live' he appeals to his hearers with such tender earnestness that we can almost see the tears upon his cheeks. 'My heart is troubled to think how I shall leave you, lest... I should leave you as I found you, till you awake in hell... I am as hearty a beggar with you this day, for the saving of your souls, as I would be for my own supply, if I were forced to come a begging to your doors. And therefore if you would hear me then, hear me now. If you would pity me then, be entreated now to pity yourselves... 0 sirs, believe it, death and judgment, heaven and hell, are other matters when you come near them, than they seem to carnal eyes afar off. Then you will hear such a message as I bring you with more awakened, regardful hearts.'

The focus of his preaching was an urgent invitation to receive Christ. Baxter preached for a verdict, he sought to 'drive sinners to a stand and make them see... that they must unavoidably be either converted or condemned.' His words at the close of 'Making Light of Christ and Salvation' are powerful and pointed: 'When God hath shaken those careless souls out of their bodies, and you must answer for all your sins in your own name; Oh then what would you give for a saviour!...When you see the world hath left you, and your companions in sin have deceived themselves and you, and all your merry days are gone; then what would you give for that Christ and salvation that now you account not worth your labour!... You that cannot make light of a little sickness, or of want, or of natural death, no, not of a toothache, but groan as if you were undone; how will you then make light of the fury of the Lord, which will burn against the condenmers of His grace? I come now to know your resolution for the time to come. What say you? Do you mean to set as light by Christ and salvation as hitherto you have done and to be the same men after all this? I hope not.' The sharp edge was always present - a choice had to be made, a verdict given, an offer of mercy accepted or rejected.


So preacher, I ask you: do you preach with evangelistic appeal? Emotions? Urgently invite sinners to repent and believe in Christ?
This upcoming week will be quite busy for me and thus I come to you asking for prayer.

1. Tonight I'm preaching one of the toughest texts in the Bible to herald—Revelation 14:9-12—in a sermon I've titled: "The horrors of hell unveiled before your heart."

A growing number of churches and leaders are diminishing the importance of this doctrine. Fewer churches and pastors are really preaching on the doctrine of hell. So tonight, my responsibility is to lay before my hearers 9 descriptions of hell from Revelation 14. Pray for me (I'll post the mp3 link here tomorrow).
2. This upcoming Sunday I have my first (of two) ordination oral exams. This Sunday, my two examiners will grill me on bible knowledge and biblical counseling for two hours. Pray for great wisdom, insight, & time to continue my study this week in preparation for that exam.

I feel so honored to be examined by elders and pastors from Grace Community Church and from a professor at The Master's College. I pray that this may encourage me as I embark upon the new ministry of Christ Fellowship Bible Church—a church plant in the Brentwood, MO area starting mid-December.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ephesians 1:18-19 — I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.

(Ephesians 1:18-19 — πεφωτισμένους τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῆς καρδίας [ὑμῶν] εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς τίς ἐστιν ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς κλήσεως αὐτοῦ, τίς ὁ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης τῆς κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις, καὶ τί τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ.)

This section of Scripture divides into three phrases that define what it is that Paul wants the Ephesians to know (εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς). All of the clauses begin with "what is" (τίς):

1. Know the hope of God's calling.

2. Know the riches of God's glorious inheritance in the saints.

3. Know the surpassing greatness of God's power toward us who believe.

As believers, have you recently considered what is the hope of God's calling of you? Have you marveled at the utter riches of God's glorious inheritance in the saints (mind-baffling thought!)? And have you understood the surpassing greatness of God's power that is at work in us who believe? (And if you're not sure just how powerful God's power really is, then just read verses 20-23 to get an idea.)

Let's be believers who know God's hope, his glorious inheritance, and his divine power at work in us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

So many of you have prayed for Tikvah and for our family and we give thanks for that. The doctors allowed us to come home from the hospital late Tuesday afternoon. The last few days have been busy getting her on a schedule, getting her to feed, and attending to Kiah as well.

God has been so good to us & we praise Him for His immense and undeserved goodness to us during this time. Elizabeth and I have learned new areas where we need to grow spiritually and have learned to trust the Lord and rely on Him in other areas where we've never been tested before.

Praise be to God for his unending, unfailing, and unmatched grace.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Great words from Jay Adams:

The goal of all counseling, whether biblical or secular, is to change people. However, all unbiblical systems, even when they speak of doing “depth” counseling, change people only at a surface level. (Jer.6:14; Mk.7:14-23).

“The only person who can really operate at a level of depth is the person who knows how to go to the heart of a man’s problem. And the only way to go to the heart of a man’s problem is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit, who transforms the heart of man and thus transforms his life patterns.”
Thanks again for praying, dear friends. After a number of attempts, Tikvah finally gave in and is breathing on her own without the ventilator! She is recovering very well & in the next day or two will be transferred out of the CTICU to another unit for recovery till she goes home.

Also, last night we were able to take Hezekiah back to see her & he had a huge smile & immediately went to kiss her on the head (let's just hope that kind of tenderness continues...).Please keep praying for her that she would eat orally. She ate quite well yesterday afternoon but last night was a bit stubborn again. Pray that she'd get the hang of this thing swiftly.

Thanks so much!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanks so much for praying for Tikvah. She has done remarkably well through the surgery, the closing of the chest, and her recovery.

She has still refused to breathe on her own. She enjoys the ventilator breathing for her so the goal is, Lord willing, for her to be able to breathe on her own either today or tomorrow.

The next major step (and the one that takes the most time) is learning to feed orally.

We're hoping that God continues to glorify Himself as she recovers and as we strive to be a witness for Christ at the hospital. Thanks so much for your prayers. We treasure the family of Christ who together has come alongside of us in lifting our daughter up in prayer. Thank you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Some think that God's plan for national, ethnic Israel is abolished but this viewpoint runs contradictory to at least two reasons that Jeremiah provides in chapter 31.

1) As long as the sun, moon, and stars exist, the nation of Israel will exist as God's people.

Jeremiah 31:35-36 — Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever."

2) As long as man cannot measure the immensity of the heavens, so the nation of Israel will remain as God's people.

Jeremiah 31:37 — Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done," declares the LORD.

It's hard to read texts like these with a plain, normal hermeneutic and conclude with any other interpretation. God states that Israel will be His people as long as the sun, and moon, and stars exist and as long as no one can reach the extremities of the galaxies and the vastness of the earth's foundations.

Paul comments on this in the book of Romans:

Romans 11:25-26 — For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-- that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sometimes people say and word things really well. Kevin DeYoung's post on dude—where's your bride? is one of those articles.

It's a call to the men to step up, grow up, mature up, and look for a wife.

He's right on & accurate in what he says.
According to Paul:

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

This brief section of verses reveals a number of important truths about the purpose of afflictions.

1) In any and every affliction in life that anyone may encounter, regardless of the seriousness of it and its outcome, God is worthy to be blessed and praised!

2) There are seasons of life full of trials in which believers quite clearly learn that God is in fact the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

3) God comforts His own in all our afflictions. God doesn't leave His people. He certainly doesn't allow them to go through the affliction on their own. Rather, he comforts His people while in the afflictions. Note it doesn't say that God prevents His people from entering into afflictions. But while they are in the affliction—regardless of the intensity and extent of it—God comforts them all the while.

4) The purpose ("so that"; εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι) we may be able to comfort others who are in any affliction with the comfort that we have received while going through our own affliction. A wealth of pastoral wisdom comes from this verse. God allows suffering and then attends to His people in their suffering so that when others in their social sphere are going through sufferings, they may be able to comfort with the same amount of comfort which they themselves received.

Praise the Lord! Rightly does Paul state a little later on:

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 — But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"To whom be glory forever" (2 Tim 4.18). This should be the single desire of the Christian. I take it that he should not have twenty wishes, but only one. He may desire to see his family brought up well, but only that "to God may be glory forever." he may wish for prosperity in business, but only so far as it may help him to promote this: "to whom be glory forever." He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it should only be that "to him may be glory forever." This one thing I know, Christian: You are not acting as you ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than the one motive of your Lord's glory.

—Charles Spurgeon
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