Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How do you know if you need more grace?

·        When God temporarily steps back into the shadows

·        When God sends the most unlovable person into your life

·        When temptation seems to have gotten the upper hand

·        When the Scriptures are no longer enjoyable

·        When the burden you are caring is heavier than

Everyone you know and everyone they know is in this situation. People need grace. People need more grace than they realize.

Martin Luther once said, “Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes.”

In the spiritual world, just like the physical world we are completely dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to recognize when these scenarios come upon us and without ceasing ask God to give us the grace that is needed to know that we need more grace.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.” (Hebrews 12:16, ESV)

Now listen carefully…because this is incredibly important. Every one of us needs help. We are not God. We have needs. We have weaknesses. We have confusion. We have limitations of all kinds. We need help. (John Piper)

Most of us never realize at the time we most need extraordinary grace to go to God and ask God to make us aware of how much more grace we need to face our current situation.


Grace is available 24/7 – God’s grace is never disrupted!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Thoughts on Counterfeit Religion

Contemplate on these thoughts on “counterfeit religion” on page 17 of Jonathan Edward’s preface to The Religious Affections:
It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ, all along hitherto. It is by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivings of religion that ever have been since the first founding of the Christian church.
By this, he hurt the cause of Christianity, in and after the apostolic age, much more than by all the persecutions of both Jews and Heathens. The apostles, in all their epistles, show themselves much more concerned at the former mischief, than the latter.
By this, Satan   prevailed against the reformation, began by Luther, Zwinglius, &c., to   put a stop to its progress, and bring it into disgrace; ten times more,  than by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard of persecutions of   the Church of Rome.
By this, principally, has he prevailed against revivals of religion that have been in our nation since the reformation?
 By this he prevailed against New England, to quench the love and spoil the joy of her espousals, about a hundred years ago. And   I think, I have had opportunity enough to see plainly that by this the devil has prevailed against the late great revival of religion in New England, so happy and promising in its beginning.” [1]




[1] Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, (Carlisle: The Banner  of Truth Trust, 2001), P. 17

Monday, February 8, 2016

Christians and Cremation


I was asked recently what I thought about cremation. I don’t get asked this question very much as of late. I took a few minutes to jot down my thoughts and sent them off in an email (humbled by the opportunity to weigh in on a very sensitive subject.) Without extensive study here are my thoughts. I hope they might be of interest and/or help to someone who might have or is currently thinking about this particular issue.

 
First, I don’t have a problem with cremation. I have yet to see any specific prohibitions in Scripture concerning this subject. I haven’t seen any veiled or implicit principles that might govern it. I think this issues falls under the “conscience” of a Spirit-filled and led believer.

Second, I am well aware that many “believers” in the past have associated the practice of cremation with demonic, tribal, heathen, or ritualistic practices that would be considered “ungodly.” Certainly unbelieving people and people groups have utilized cremation in relationship to one of these areas. This certainly is neither the motive nor reason for God-fearing born-again believers who have chosen this method of “handling the remains of a loved one.”

Thirdly, I truly think that cremation serves as a means of the decomposition process. After all, if left alone, our bodies return to “ashes” and all but “disappear.” When one is cremated the body is rendered to “ashes.”

Fourth, I do not think that our sovereign Lord in all of his majestic power and glory will have any problem “reassembling” those who have been cremated. After all, I don’t think God will have any more trouble resurrecting someone who has been cremated than someone who has been dismembered, run through a wood chipper, has been burned to a crisp, decomposed in the oceans or deserts. When it comes time for the immortal soul to be united with an eternal resurrected body, God will be able to handle it.


Fifth, I believe that the conscience and motives must be the guide. If the motives are clear and they do not violate biblical principles and one’s conscience is clear, and the act is done in faith, then I don’t have any biblical evidence that the Lord is more or less pleased with the practice. Remember you must be convinced in your own mind and be operating in faith or any act can be “sinful.” Take this issue before the Lord in fervent, honest, and intimate prayer. If God does not cause you to have unrest or a lack of peace then be settled in your conscience as you seek to honor God in all things including the question of cremation.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

How to be Right With God (Part 3)


SERMON               GM16-072

SERIES:              Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained, and Applied

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (February 7th, 2016)

SUBTITLE:        How to Be Right with God – Part 3

SCRIPTURE:     Romans 3:22c-23

SUBJECT:          The Righteousness of God

SUMMARY:       The righteousness of God which cannot be obtained by merit comes to all men through faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross which fulfills the law of God.

SCHEME:           To enable my people to transcend present ecclesiastical understanding of righteousness by appreciating God’s benefits of the atoning work of Christ on the cross
_____________________________________________________________________

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Freedom From the Law

Scripture:  Galatians 4:12

"Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles were -- free from the law." (Galatians 4:12, NLT)

Observation:

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am begging you to live your life like I live mine, free from the requirements of the law. Listen, I have become like you Gentiles used to be, free from the law. (Galatians 4:12, GDM)

Free from the law. Reading these words brings several feelings to my mind and to my heart. Feelings like:

  • Relief - I do not have to worry about keeping the law in order to please God, especially the smallest details
  • Freedom - I am not bound or chained to, "do this and do that" in order to please God
  • Joy - I know I am free from the law because Christ perfectly fulfilled the law for me
  • Refreshment - I am no long tired or weary or worn out from working, but I feel refreshed as I am free in Christ
  • Courage - I can face God and even enjoy God and His presence because I am free from fearing I didn't keep the law

As I live my life each day I am to live it in remembrance that I am free from the requirements of the law. I do not have to go "backwards" and attempt to keep all the points of the legal, ceremonial, and ritual portions of the law to please God. As a Gentile I was free from the law, or it had no binding on me, therefore I need to continue to live free of the law.

Application:

Sin to Confess:  becoming a slave to weak and useless spiritual powers
Promise to Claim:  No
Example to Copy:  Paul - lives in freedom from the requirements of the law
Error to Consider:  trying to find favor with God by what I do or don't do
Command to Complete:  Be like Paul - live in freedom, free from the law
Hypothesis to Construe:  Jesus provides freedom from the requirements of the law

Prayer:

Father, since you have provided Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for my sins and since he has fulfilled the law perfectly, I am free from the burden of keeping the law perfectly in order to please you. Thank you for freeing me and releasing me from something that I could never do apart from Jesus Christ. Father, help me to imitate and practice Paul's freedom and from trying to find favor with you by what I do or don't do. Enable me to be like Paul, to always live in freedom and to remain free from the law. Thank you Father, that you provide this freedom through your dear Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Jesus Our High Priest


This passage certainly would have had more meaning to the first century Jews who had become Christians than to most of us today. We who are 21st century Gentiles don’t really comprehend in it fullness the role of the Old Testament Jewish priest. We don’t recognize or utilize priests in the Christian Church today.

The high priest, among many other duties, would once a year go behind that curtain that separated mankind from the presence of God. On Yom Kippur he alone entered the Holy of Holies, to make atonement for his house and for the people (Lev. 16). He alone could offer the sacrifices for the sins of the priests, or of the people, or of himself.

He would enter the holy of holies to burn incense and sprinkle sacrificial animal blood to expiate his own sins and those of the people of Israel. Of course, if God chose accept this offering and sacrifice then the judgment of God’s people would be rolled back another year.

Jesus Christ was appointed as our high priest. He went behind the curtain into the very presence of God and offered a blood sacrifice to God on our behalf. What made this different was the fact that the blood that was offered to appease God was His very own blood which testified to his sacrificial death.

Thanks be unto God for accepting this blood, this sacrifice! Not only did God accept it then, he continues to accept this sacrifice, and he will forever. This becomes our rock-solid hope the writer of Hebrews tell us (Chapter 6) – it is an anchor for our soul! The contrast between Aaron and Melchizedek is that Christ is a priest forever, never loosing his viability as my high priest before God!


I need to constantly be reminded of this truth in order not to grow dull in my patient waiting upon the return of Christ to fully redeem us. What great sin of mine to take this for granted.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What Has Happened to Preaching?

It does not take a rocket scientist to see that preaching has fallen on hard times. Of course this should be of no surprise to anyone who reads their bible. Paul warned Timothy with the following:

" For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Timothy 4:3, ESV)

Paul was not writing about the unsaved or unconverted,  or the Non-Christan. He was writing about Christians in local churches. We sure see this today. I was thinking about this recently and I wrote down some reasons:


  • There has been an increasing loss of belief and commitment to the authority of Scripture. People are no longer convinced that Scripture is sufficient for every aspect of their life
  • The misunderstanding of what is called or termed as "worship" Preaching is limited at best and eliminated at worst for the so called "worship" portion of the service.
  • A growing attention, involvement, and commitment to that which is mystical, ceremonial, or ritual. The emergent church has been a prime instigator of these things.
  • The introduction of "entertainment" into the services of the local church. The gathering of the body is no place for motorcycle tricks, zip-lines, rodeos, and or anything else that usurps the preaching, praying, and participation in the worship of our Holy and majestic God.
  • A growing fascination and integration with psychology and the philosophies of this wicked and evil world
  • A lack of mortification of sin and a growing love for sin
  • The growing propensity to fear man more than we fear God