Groaning with Hope

I recently preached a message on Sunday morning from Romans 8:18-25 about how all creation groans  under the curse (including Christians).  The message was entitled Groaning with Hope.  I often feel that I have only skimmed the surface of deep truths as I leave the pulpit.  This is certainly the case any time preaching in Romans.  

Here are a few summary thoughts as well as a book recommendation for your continued meditation: Continue reading

When did Christmas Begin?

Every year I am captivated by some new facet of the Christmas story. As if a splendid diamond was turned revealing a new shimmer, glint or sparkle of light never bent or reflected that way before.

This year I’m captivated with when the Christmas story truly began. Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the promised one, who came to save mankind from eternal separation from God resulting from their sin.

But Scripture reveals that the Christmas story started long before mankind ever existed. Continue reading

Is Your Child in the 12%?

This article had some great thoughts about parenting.  Here is just one of them for you to consider:

According to Search’s nationwide study,12% of youth have a regular dialog with their mom on faith/life issues.   In other words, one out of eight kids talks with their mom about their faith.

Deut. 6:6-7    And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Get started with three questions at the dinner table (if you don’t sit at the dinner table together start there):

  • Low of the day – What was the worst moment of your day?
  • High of the day – What was the best part of your day?
  • How did you see God work today?
Oh, and Mom and Dad you answer first.  TALK of Him!

Are You Wearing Your Gospel Glasses?

Woe!  What a noticeable difference when you remove your glasses!  Don’t try that while you are driving!

Things that were once so clear are immediately so blurry.  You’re looking at the same stuff.  Your situation hasn’t changed.  But your ability to decipher it clearly and respond appropriately is greatly impaired.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to lose perspective on some of the “basics” in your relationship with God?   How quickly we lay aside our “gospel glasses” and take in the things of our life with the impaired vision of our worldly wisdom.

Are you wearing your gospel glasses right now?   Take a moment and meditate on some of  the broad overarching realities of how God relates to you in Christ?  Here are just a few:

  • He knows about me (every sin, every hurt, every insecurity)
  • He is with me.  He came to rescue me!
  • He cares about me.  He came to rescue me from each sin, hurt, insecurity.
  • He is for me.  Not in the sense that he exists for me but rather that his glory is also my good.  Therefore, while I exist for His glory, He is always good toward me.
  • He has pity for me, like a Father would for his children’s inabilities and weaknesses.
  • He hears me when I call
  • He helps me when I am helpless
  • He protects me when I cannot protect myself
  • He prays for me when my pleas would not be enough
  • He guides me when I am lost
  • He provides for me when I am surrounded by enemies
  • He strengthens me when I am at my weakest
Are you wearing your gospel glasses today?
Can you think of more of these gospel truths?

A God Who Delights to Make Wrong Things Right

“We serve a God who delights to make wrong things right.”  The words from Dr. Dan Davey’s message have been ringing in my ears this week.  They rang in my ears as I stood with the Emr family and prayed that God would heal little infant, Vera.  I heard them again as I prayed for the Stolvoort family as they hope in God while battling the daily effects of cancer.  This truth rang out again as I received an email in which one Christian brother, in an open letter, was slandering another.  The words echoed again when I watched my children struggle to obey even the slightest directive outside the realm of their personal desires.  I said the words to myself this morning after I awoke to my first selfish thought.  “We serve a God who delights to make wrong things right.”

Before the beginning there was God.

No man had ever sinned against him.  No man had ever doubted whether he was worthy of worship, honor and glory.  No man had ever rebelled against him.  No man had ever destroyed anything he made or possessed.  No man had ever hurt anyone that he loved. 

And yet, the possibility existed that he could make mankind who would do all of those things and far worse.  For if he created them he knew they would spit in his face, mock his lordship, torture him beyond recognition, and even murder him if given the chance. 

After man there was sin and suffering.

If he created a being with a freewill he could foresee they would reject the perfection created for them bringing sin death and suffering into their perfect world. 

He could foresee that they would eventually need to be made right, and it would cost him greatly.  If he created them and loved them, (in order to remain God), he would have to send Jesus to become like them, and fix all their disobedience with obedience.  An obedience that would lead Him even to pay the eternal penalty of their sins on the cross. 

Why did he create man?

Why did he do it?  Why did he create man knowing that they would hate him?  Why make those who would need to be made right again?  That is part of the mystery of the glorious gospel.  But we do have at least a glimpse into the answer in the very message of the Bible.  One core truth that is abundantly evident in Scripture from cover to cover is:  God delights to make wrong things right. 

God delights in making wrong things right.

The gospel assures us that God will make every effect of sin right.  There will be a day when he will wipe away all tears.  Those who hope in him will stand before him in a glorified perfect body (Job 19).  There will be perfect unity among mankind  as all nations stand united in him.  The earth and heaven will be restored and made right.    There will no longer be a struggle with sin.  There will be no more suffering, for in his suffering he ended suffering.  This is at the core of the message of the Bible.  We serve a God who delights to make wrong things right!

What Defines You?

John 17:14-16 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

What defines you?

A paraphrase of the final verse reads; “They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world.”  

What’s the big deal?  Everybody thinks that way!

But, everyone talks that way!  Everyone texts that way!  Everyone’s seen it!  Everyone does it!   Jesus speaks to that type of thinking here.  No: everyone who is godless talks that way.  Everyone who is godless texts that way.  Everyone who is godless visits those sites. Everyone who is godless watches those shows.  Everyone who is godless treats their parents and authorities that way!  What a radical difference in thinking! 

Here is the big deal!  Christians are defined by God’s thoughts.

Jesus says, that Word of God makes the radical difference.  When we receive the “Word” we no longer join the world’s ways because we think godless thoughts.  Instead of being defined by the world we were redefined according to the very words (or thoughts) of God. 

At salvation, we exchanged our plans for a good and loving God (who has better plans).  Now, we have been given, the good plan of God for mankind (the gospel).   Our purpose is to fulfill His purpose: bringing men to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.    But it won’t be easy…

Jesus prayed for you.  You were going to need it!

Jesus was telling his followers to expect the same animosity that he experienced.  In fact, Jesus prayed for you, not to remove you from these difficulties but that amidst them, you would not fall to the ever present godless thinking of your age.  Jesus asked the Father to help you endure the temptation of ungodly (or  “godless”) thinking.   

Someone has already endured it!

 I am not defined by this world:  This was the basis of his prayer.  Jesus endured every temptation of godless thinking in the exact same manner that you or I would.  By depending on the Father, he not only to provide the perfection we needed in order to be with Christ, but also reminds us that it is possible for any Christian who is living dependent on the Father to be defined by God’s thoughts rather than the thoughts of this world.

So, what has defined you this week?  What will define you today?

Day 5: Consider His Glory – Praise Emphasis Week

Philippians 2:5-11  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherfore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

What is glory?  Continue reading