Tuesday, June 7, 2022

 


How to practically cultivate humility

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

How do you put on humility? What steps can you practically take to walk in humility each day? In this brief write-up, I’ll provide 3 helps to “cultivate humility.”

1. Contemplate Christ’s humility.
The first practical help to cultivate humility begins with looking to Christ. No one but Jesus ever held such a high and holy office in heaven and then condescended to earth to be born in a world that He created! Ponder how He said to those who followed Him that He is gentle and lowly of heart. He was despised, rejected, not esteemed and rejected by men. Indeed, Christ in His divine glory received such scoffing by men whom He made. And He remained humble, fully submissive to God’s plan and design for Him. He always did what was pleasing in God’s sight. Let the humility of Christ capture your heart and seize your affections so that you would emulate Him carefully.

2. Contemplate God’s majesty.
The majesty of God is higher than men can fathom and it is lower than the ocean floor. The glory of God consists of His dazzling splendor of all the fullness of His character and attributes. The majesty of God speaks of His kingship and power and unparalleled glory. Indeed, God is clothed with splendor and majesty. To lift your eyes on high to see the high and lofty One seated on heaven’s throne ruling and governing and accomplishing all things for the outworking of His sovereign decrees should instill humility and lowliness in our hearts. Think of the many stars that God made and knows by name and then consider His creating all things in six 24-hour days. Then consider how puny and weak and forgetful you are! Stand and marvel at this God. Be humble and tremble for His awesome and unshakeable majesty.

3. Contemplate Your depravity.
O the hellish nature of man! What a worm sin has made us. Men’s iniquity in his nature and in his behavior has made him worse than a monster because all men willfully rebel against God who is all good and all wise and all perfect. When Adam sinned in the garden, all humankind plunged into sin in him. All men rightly deserve hell. Anything else ever, at any time, is sheer and undeserved grace to those who deserve the exact opposite. When you contemplate your sinfulness in heart, in motive, in words, and in lifestyle, be humble before the Holy God who sees everything. Nothing is hidden from him. Bless the Lord that He had mercy on your soul. In response, walk in true humility.


This is a brief writeup providing a brief meditation on communion. In considering this blessed feast, I'll put the thoughts together in 3 points:

  1. Reflect!  God calls His people to carefully consider and remember Him in this Feast of communion with our risen Lord. The Lord’s Supper is an earthly encounter with the heavenly Lord. We do well to thoughtfully engage in God’s Truth and eagerly fellowship with our Savior and with our fellow believers in this meal with our Savior.
    1. reflect in preparation - During the week leading up to communion Sunday, prepare your heart in some of the following ways. Confess your sin and come clean before the Lord. Adore the power and greatness and love of your great King. Recognize and bathe in the sufficient work of Jesus Christ on the cross as He took your place by expiating your sin and propitiating God’s wrath! 
    2. reflect in elements — Eating bread and drinking the cup are tangible elements to remind us of the importance of imbibing Christ and taking all of Him. We must feast upon Him and find nourishment for our souls from these elements and what they represent.
    3. reflect in soul-examination — Examine your heart and ensure you are God’s child. Reflect deeply to see if there are any patterns of sin in your life. Consider where you need to be humbled, how you can serve, where you can grow in your love for Christ and for others. And seek to come to the Supper with a clean heart, with clean hands, with a humbled spirit, and with faith in the compassionate mercies of Jesus Christ.
  2. Receive!  God wants you to receive the feast He prepares for you. The Savior is the host who causes the cup to overflow bountifully. He provided bread for those on the mountain for the multitudes. He wants you to take and eat and drink! This is not an offer or a request or a mere invitation. It is a command from the host Himself. Christ wants you to take and feast and find sustenance in Him!
    1. receive the bread with happy delight. — Remember the sufficient body of this Lamb. Consider His spotlessness, purity, righteousness, and perfection which is wholly reckoned to you by faith in Him.
    2. receive the cup with happy delight. — Ponder the glory of the Master’s blood which He poured out lavishly to wash away all of your foul sins. All of your offenses and iniquities have been blotted out, thrown away, and drowned in the bottomless depths of the sea. Delight in the blood of Christ which justifies, washes, cleanses, and propitiates the Father’s wrath.
    3. Receive with Faith // with humility // with thoughtfulness // with obedience // with seriousness. This feast with the heavenly Savior must be received with great sobriety and serious-mindedness. Seek to put away all distractions and wandering thoughts. Try to engage fully with Christ. Seek to meditate on a verse and let your mind and thoughts soak in the beauties of His work for you!
  3. Rejoice! This feast should spark flames of ardent joy for your Lord. Rejoice in Him. Shout for joy in Him. When you take the feast, it is as if Jesus Himself, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, serves you with His own loving hands and He calls you to derive strength and benefit and mercy from Him! 
    1. In the marriage! — The feast with Christ calls you to remember your loving Bridegroom who promises to return to receive you and take you to be with Himself forevermore! Oh for that day!
    2. in the strength! — Rejoice in the strength that the Savior supplies. This communion feast should be a priority in the Christian’s life for as often as we eat and drink this supper we are coming needy and humble to the Savior affirming our trust in Him and asking for strength to live for Him.
    3. in the security! — This feast promises security because the Savior says in the elements: I have done this for you. Never cease to lose your wonder at the words: “given for you!.” 
    4. in the anticipation! — We eat and drink of this feast in anticipation of the coming Marriage with the Lamb! Oh to be with our Bridegroom and to be in sinless perfection, in ceaseless delights, in undistracted harmony, and in the happy company of all the redeemed to gaze on our Bridegroom forever.  Rejoice in the sure and unwavering certainty of the Savior’s return! 
More resources at Pastor Geoff's site for podcasts.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

 How to encourage your elders.

Geoffrey R. Kirkland

Christ Fellowship Bible Church

 

I serve alongside some great men. God has graciously put me in a church body with godly people who love Christ and a solid leadership team firmly committed to His Word.

In some recent reflections in my own mornings of Bible reading, I have tried to think of some practical ways that Christians can encourage all of their shepherd-elders. With some intentionality, creativity and proactiveness, you can bless those men that God has put over you to care for your souls.  Here are just a few ideas to help get you started.

OBEY them — Perhaps the clearest and most heartfelt way you can serve your shepherds is to simply obey them. By submitting yourself willingly and cheerfully under their authority, you honor the Lord who sovereignly put them over you to have charge over you in the Lord and to give account for your soul one day in glory. Submit to them. Obey them. Honor them. Make their leadership duties a joy and not a burden.

THANK them  — Another way you can practically thank each of your shepherd elders is to carefully and thoughtfully thank them. By this, I do not speak of flattery. Nor do I refer to some generic post on social media. The heart of your shepherds will overflow with joy when you thank them and explain to them how God is using them to help you learn more about God and His Word. It’s not puffing up the man. It is exalting God and giving glory to God for His mercy in using your elder, a human instrument at that, to establish and grow you in the faith. Be thoughtful, specific and fairly consistent in sharing these good reports with your elders. You’ll be encouraged. And they will be immensely blessed!

SERVE them — Prayerfully think of ways you can serve him and his family. Perhaps he and his wife could use a date night out and so you offer to watch the children. Maybe you can help shovel their driveway in the winter or help weed the garden. Or, you may choose to drop off some groceries or a home-cooked meal (or dessert) to your elders. Perhaps you take out one of two of his children to encourage them in the faith and express your gratitude for the whole family and how God is using them in your life. With some prayer and some thoughtfulness, you can find many ways to serve your elders in ways that will richly encourage them, humble them, and minister to their souls.

TELL them — Of course, you can verbally encourage your elders by simply telling them how thankful you are. It doesn’t have to be big or flashy. Nor does it have to be formal and public. But a simple word of encouragement with decisions they’ve made, the example they set by their lifestyle, the way he cares for you and the flock, or the way he serves can encourage his heart more than you know. Elders often hear the stories of negativity and things that people may not appreciate, but how encouraging it is when men of God hear specific words of encouragement.

PRAY for them — Never let prayer be underestimated. A simple text or note of encouragement saying that you are praying for your elders will add fuel to the fire of their love for and diligence in interceding for the flock. Every faithful shepherd prays for the flock of God. But in knowing that you are praying for him will enrich his prayer time, fill him with awe in God and humble his soul before the God of grace. Let him know what you’re praying for. Pray for his preparation to teach the Word. Pray for his wife and children. Pray for his home life. Pray for his humility and love for Christ to increase. Pray for God to bring opportunities to speak of Christ with the lost. Pray for visible fruit to encourage his heart and God-graced trials to keep him humble and dependent on divine grace. Let him know you’re praying for him. This will bless him more than you could imagine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

 


Marital Sex 
This blog seeks to provide helpful counsel to believers regarding the joy of sexual intimacy in a marriage between one man and one woman. May the practical helps be profitable as you seek to honor the Lord and grow in your selfless service to your spouse -- all for God's great glory.
 
Sex must be:
  1. Covenantal  (only after a man/woman are married) — Before sin ever entered the world, God beautifully designed the covenant of marriage as an exclusive union only between one man and one woman. And in that covenantal union of marriage, God blesses and gives the happy union of sexual intimacy. In His gracious and good and wise design, God gives sexual pleasure and all sexual activity to be enjoyed, frequented, and overwhelmingly pleasurable only within the context of a marriage between a man and a woman. 
  2. Selfless   (not self-absorbed/ self-pleasure) — The wonderful act of sexual intercourse and all sexual acts should only take place in marriage in a selfless, humble, others-oriented way for the pleasure of one’s spouse. God’s design includes the principle that it is ‘better to give than to receive.’  God calls His people to consider others as more important than yourselves and not look out for your own interests but also for the interests of others. Sexual intimacy is not to be about self and self-pleasure in any form. God’s plan is for you to meet your spouse’s sexual desires and for your spouse to meet your sexual desires. It is a mutual, selfless and beautiful picture of self-sacrificing love that emulates Christ’s selfless sacrifice for His people.
  3. Frequent   (regular) — Sexual activity must be frequent in the marriage relationship. The Bible commands that sex be regular and enjoyable. And the Bible assumes that it will be frequent and exhilarating. The book of Song of Solomon models the joys of regular, frequent, enjoyable sex. Withholding sex or choosing to not have sex with your spouse is sinful (except for a very brief time by mutual agreement for the purpose of fervent prayer, cf. 1 Corinthians 7). Sexual intimacy and sexual pleasure should be enjoyed regularly. Perhaps a good word of advice might be to seek to be intimate 3-4 times per week. Perhaps it may be more frequent if your spouse so desires.
  4. Worshipful  (an act of worship to God — he is watching & there) — Sex within marriage can be and ought to be a worshipful activity to the living God! How appropriate for a godly couple to pray together before intimacy and to give thanks for the joys of pleasure after intimacy. The intoxicating delights of sexual pleasure is meant to lead us to a greater union that is sure to come. That is, our beloved Bridegroom will bring His Bride to glory to receive worship forever by those whom He has redeemed. Your intimacy is never to be the ultimate, it is a means to the ultimate, namely, the worship of Jesus Christ! So enjoy your spouse. Do all that you do in manner of worship and thanks to God for the gift of intimacy and pleasure with your spouse.
  5. Exhilarating   (intoxicating joy and pleasure) — Reading the book of Song of Solomon will quickly reveal how exhilarating lovemaking was between Solomon and the Shulammite. He loved his wife and she loved him and they feasted in lovemaking and enjoyed one another tenderly, honestly, exclusively, communicatively and frequently. They spoke openly to one another and they spoke passionately to one another. They were overwhelmed by the delights and pleasures of one another! Godly men are called to be exhilarated always with their wives! It is God’s design and blessing. Be ravished and overwhelmed in lovemaking with your spouse.
  6. Communicative  (communicate, speak honestly to each other) — Just like anything in the Christian life, we must communicate well and honestly. This also includes the realm of sex and intimacy. You need to speak with your spouse. Find out what your spouse likes and doesn’t like. Find out what your spouse loves and really enjoys. Speak to each other. Hide nothing from each other. Remember: the Adam and Eve were both naked and were not ashamed (Gen 2.25). So you, in the same way, should be unashamed in your communication, in your honesty, in your tenderness, in how you speak to your spouse, and how you treat each other in the time leading up to intimacy, in the foreplay, in intercourse, and afterwards. Communicate like Solomon and his wife modeled in the Song of Solomon.
  7. Patient  (eradicate all hollywood lies/images/scenes; be patient with each other; have fun; enjoy; there is “no standard to meet”) — Clear out all the garbage that Hollywood and social media has put into your mind. Never assume there is an expectation or a standard that you need to meet in sexual intimacy. The only standard you must meet is the God-honoring, self-sacrificing pleasure of delighting your spouse sexually. Forget all the movies and images and things that you may have seen. Never compare yourself, your intimacy, or your spouse with the godless immorality publicly paraded. Be patient as you seek to learn your spouse and please your spouse. You must communicate honestly and openly about what you like don’t like and expectations with your spouse. And do so in a timely, humble, gracious, and prayerful way. Strive to be patient with each other (as God is patient toward you!).
  8. Exclusive — only a man and a woman (none else) — Of course, remember that Christ only has one Bride and He is ever and always faithful to her. Your marriage in all of its spheres is to reflect the gospel and be a portrait of the beauty of Christ’s love for His Church. So remain exclusive with one another. Enjoy each other. Ravish each other. Delight each other. Be frequent in lovemaking with each other. But ensure that your sexual intimacy is exclusive to your marriage alone. Allow no pornography, no outside intruders, no watchers and no other lovers to ever come near the beauty of the marriage bed. Keep the marriage bed undefiled and holy. 

Song of Solomon 4.16 - may my Beloved Come into his Garden and eat its choicest fruits.
Song of Solomon 7.12 - “I am my beloveds and his desire is for me …  Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; ... There I will give you my love…  (v.10-12)

 The Sunday Gathering 



What sweet kindness we enjoy when we gather with the saints on Sunday. God’s people assembled together is a meeting unlike anything else in this world. The unity, the likemindedness, the focus on Christ, the heartfelt singing, and the study of the Word of God lifts the believer’s heart, informs the Christian’s mind, and increases the saint’s love for God. How unique and blessed are these assemblies! Specifically, the Sunday gathering is a time of:

  1. Refreshment  (unlike the world) — The Sunday gatherings are refreshing times because no other worldly gathering of people can compare with the corporate pursuit of Christ that Christians enjoy. We have meetings during the week. Work demands call for our attention. Lots of gatherings exist for sports, entertainment, arts, music, or academics. But none can compare with the glory and delightfulness and refreshment of God’s people meeting in the House of God. When we gather on Sundays, it is so unlike the world that it is refreshingly sweet, like drinking satisfying water on a hot day. We need these times of refreshment for our souls.
  2. Edification  (speaking words to edify) — The Sunday gatherings are edifying times because we have God-given opportunities to speak words of encouragement to other saints. When you gather for worship, before the service begins and after the service concludes, lots of opportunities arise to approach a believer and speak of Christ and His gospel. For instance, after the worship service finishes, consider how many ways you can ask a fellow believer about the sermon, reflect on it together, point out a verse that challenged you, or speak of a truth that you must hold on to this week for strength. We gather to edify and build up one another.
  3. Intentional, others-oriented Service — The Sunday gatherings provide opportunities for intentional, others-oriented service. Think of how you can intentionally and proactively reach out to another person to serve them. Maybe it’s helping a family with one of their small children. Maybe it’s holding a baby so a young mom can have a conversation. Maybe it’s helping a senior saint carry his Bible and a bag from the car to the pew. Maybe it’s offering help in setting up chairs, getting the sanctuary prepared, handing out bulletins, greeting folks at the door with a smile, and offering to serve in other creative ways. But the point being made here demands intentionality and a proactive zeal to earnestly care for one another in tangible expressions of love. Through love, serve one another!
  4. Instruction  (from Scripture) — The Sunday gatherings feed the people of God with the instruction from the Word. This is our weekly feeding time. This is when we gather together, as the Church, with the Church to sit under the authoritative Truth preached from Holy Scripture. We gather to hear and heed the Word. We gather to listen to the Word preached and then obey what the Word demands. We may be reminded of theological truths. We may receive exhortation to take action in a specific area of our lives. We may be challenged to think differently about a matter. We may need to change our behavior because the Spirit graciously exposes sin in our lives. We feast on Truth. We gaze upon Christ. We glory in grace. We delight in the gospel. We gather because we need to regularly, weekly, deliberately and happily fix our eyes upon Christ our righteousness, our spotless Lamb, our Life!
  5. Preparation  (for heaven) — The Sunday gatherings uniquely and wondrously prepare us for a greater assembly that surely will come. One day we will stand in heaven worshiping Christ with numberless multitudes standing before the Throne celebrating the Lamb, worshiping the Lord, communing with the Triune God. Nothing in all of the world so prepares us for heaven than a theologically robust, seriously glad, fervently Christ-enthralled, biblically saturated, corporately assembled meeting of the saints. O for that day when all those for whom Christ purchased will stand together, beholding the Lamb, in utter perfection, happily at rest, ever living as conquerers forevermore, and serving God with tireless zeal for eternities without end. May your upcoming Sunday gathering be a sweet foretaste of coming glory.  Christian, appreciate, prioritize and anticipate the Sunday gathering with your Church.

The words of JOHN NEWTON express these thoughts poetically:

How welcome to the saints, when pressed
With six days’ noise, and care, and toil,
Is the returning day of rest,
Which hides them from the world awhile!

Now, from the throng withdrawn away,
They seem to breathe a different air;
Composed and softened by the day,
All things another aspect wear.

How happy if their lot is cast
Where statedly the gospel sounds!
The word is honey to their taste,
Renews their strength and heals their wounds.

With joy they hasten to the place
Where they their Saviour oft have met;
And while they feast upon his grace,
Their burdens and their griefs forget.

This favoured lot, my friends, is ours;
May we the privilege highly prize,
And find these consecrated hours
Sweet earnests of immortal joys.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Today’s evangelism outing was thrilling from beginning to end. It was a last minute outing because the day we usually go out later in the week is forecasted to snow and sleet. So we decided to go out today. And praise God we did. It was beautiful, warm, and lots of people swarmed the streets. 

We had two men alternating the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the open air. Another CFBC member was on the sidewalk handing out tracts. 

Over the course of the time on the streets, a man approached me and began yelling in my face (all the while claiming to be a Christian) because we were too loud and passionate and urgent in our message.  

I met a woman who wanted nothing to do with me at first and then she said she doesn’t appreciate being told she’s a sinner. She said that you don’t make people feel good about themselves.  I began to speak patiently to her. I thanked her for her comments and her opinions. And I proceeded to speak of Jesus Christ, the only way of salvation, and the depravity in our hearts. Our conversation began very tense but it ended with a handshake. I told her that I cared for her and her soul and I genuinely wanted her to know Christ.  I trust I will see her again as she worked close by. 

There were other employees of the city that usually do not take tracts. But for some reason today, they did. We see many familiar faces from week to week as that has been our regular, weekly fishing hole for years.

A Chipotle worker was outside smoking a cigarette on his break and was glued to the preaching of the Word. He listened for the entire break and then waved at me as I preached the Word and then went back to his job.

Also, two police officers approached us and said that it was too loud and they asked if we would turn the amplifier down. I shook their hand, thanked them for what they do, and I cheerfully said: Of course! We will be happy to obey your request. They immediately walked away pleased. 

The Word of God went forth with great power and with great clarity today. It was loudly preached in the open air. We had lots of gospel conversations. Lots of tracts went out. 

It was a great day.  Do I know how many people God will save?  No, I don’t. But I do know that many, many folks heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and were summoned to turn from their sins while they have time and flee to Jesus Christ by faith alone for eternal life. Judgment day is coming. Their sin will be punished. We pleaded with them to come to Christ, God’s only provision, right now! 

It was a successful day on the streets. His soldiers were faithful. May God be glorified!
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