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Lamenting what he sees as a heretical “plunge” away from biblical order, Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church skewered popular Bible teacher Beth Moore, Paula White and evangelicals who support the idea of women preachers in general.
Technology is interesting in that the more integrated into your life a particular aspect of it becomes the more likely you are to take it for granted. And perhaps the less likely you are to consider its impact on your life—for good or for bad.In the early days of social media (which, believe it or not, was only just over fifteen years ago), I remember how carefully many pastors and mature Christians approached it—with caution regarding what it was designed to do and how it might be used to damage lives.That statement probably sounds silly to anyone who wasn't around or aware when some of the earliest networking platforms were first coming on the scene with reports of broken homes, hidden addictions, exploited children, and other disastrous situations closely following. As a pastor of a large church, some of my earliest exposure to these platforms was tragic counseling situations.Even so, fast forward fifteen years, and here we are—with social media so integrated into our lives that we check it on our phones during thirty-second downtimes, without even making a conscious choice.The danger in this is not necessarily the social media itself, but our lack of awareness to how it is affecting us and our lack of conscious choice to use it as a tool.Social media, in fact, can be a tremendous tool. I blog (obviously) and use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram…and I enjoy them all. But if we're not aware of and purposeful in how we use it, we're likely to miss out on benefits and become burdened with its negative aspects.BlessingsSo what are some of the blessings of social media?Edification—Our words have tremendous potential for good, and social media can magnify this potential. It is a blessing to me to read reports of how God is blessing in other people's lives and ministries or to receive encouragement through others' social media posts. I endeavor to make my posts edifying as well.Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.—Romans 14:19Communication—Social media is a powerful tool for communicating with friends and co-laborers around the globe. Being able to see and send prayer requests instantly to many people is a blessing to me. Additionally, I love reading updates from friends in ministry of God's blessings. Social networking provides added opportunities to rejoice with those who rejoice. I still appreciate the longer, more direct forms of emails, missionary prayer letters, and other forms of communication. But for instant sharing of ministry blessings or prayer needs, social media is tremendous.As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.—Proverbs 25:25Strengthened relationships—Social media will never be a replacement for face-to-face relationships, but it does strengthen existing relationships and can provide a greater sense of connectedness.Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.—Proverbs 27:17Godly influence—Social media provides a free platform from which to exert a godly influence. It provides another context in which we can be a voice for biblical truth.The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.—Mark 1:3BurdenLike anything in a fallen world, however, these blessings don't come without potential for misuse. In what ways does social media become a burden?Self-focus—Have you ever found yourself mentally composing a post about an event while you were actually in the moment…or, perhaps worse, seeking out an event for the social media currency it may bring?…be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.—1 Peter 5:5Gossip and slander—Social media is like a megaphone to the communication sins to which we are already prone. Gossip, lying, slander, angry rants, or foolish conversations—all of these and more too often fill our social media streams. Whether it is our own propensity to engage in these or just the frustration of sifting through them, they sometimes make social media a burden more than a blessing.Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.—Proverbs 18:21A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.—Proverbs 29:11Constant distraction—The online world fights for our attention to feed its voracious appetite for clicks and the layers of engagement and ad revenue that feed off of our clicks and taps. Constant notifications, subconscious scrolling of our feeds, and the ever-present access of our phones combine to limit our focus on work and ministry that really matters.Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:16So is social media a blessing or a burden?Yes.It can be either.And awareness is a big part of the solution. Recognizing both the blessings and the dangers of social media helps us to use it more purposefully and wisely.Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.—Ephesians 4:29
A former drug addict who broke into an Arkansas church and vandalized $100,000 worth of property was baptized at the same church six months later after the pastor and church members displayed grace and forgiveness.
A fired French instructor says the school board's policy didn't allow for compromise.When Virginia public school teacher Peter Vlaming cited his Christian faith as the reason he declined to reference a transgender student with new pronouns, a school administrator replied that his “personal religious beliefs end at the school door,” according to a lawsuit filed last week.Now a state court will decide whether that’s true as it adjudicates the dispute over Vlaming’s termination, and evangelical educators across the country—who face similar dilemmas in their own classrooms and hallways—will be watching for the outcome.This case represents a growing legal clash between Christian teachers and policies around transgender students, who have recently fought for greater rights and recognition in schools. (Over the summer, a transgender teen in Vlaming’s home state won his case against a school bathroom policy that barred him from using restrooms that correspond with his new gender identity.)Opposing school administrators on principle has been “a massive spiritual gut-check,” Vlaming told Christianity Today.“There was immense pressure to somehow go along [with school policy], but my conscience was clear,” he said in an email. “To just go along was to participate in something I knew was wrong. In moments like those you ask yourself, ‘Am I really going to live in accordance with what I know to be the truth?’ Not in my own strength. So, I asked God for the grace to carry whatever cross he gives me.”Vlaming’s termination in December as a French teacher at West Point (Virginia) High School came after he agreed to call a transgender ninth-grader by a new male name but declined to use male pronouns to reference the student, according ...Continue reading...
Our recent Journeys of Paul tour was full of highlights for me. But perhaps the most impactful locations we visited were on the island of Crete, where Paul left Titus to “set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1:5).Shortly before our tour, I finished a several-month preaching series through the book of 2 Timothy. In the final chapter of that book, Paul again mentions Titus (4:10). It got me thinking about the ways in which Titus encouraged Paul. Right up to Paul's final days and as he knew his martyrdom was near, he was mindful of Titus and refreshed by remembering him.What about Titus made him that kind of encouragement to Paul? I think we find the answers in other mentions of Titus throughout Paul's epistles. And through Titus' example, we learn how we, too, can be a lifelong encourager of others.Notice these three characteristics of consistent encouragers:1. They Comfort OthersNevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.—2 Corinthians 7:6–7There are those whose very presence brings agitation to everyone around them. They are not at peace themselves and easily stir up controversy or division. Titus was not such a person.After Paul wrote and sent 1 Corinthians to confront some of the errors in doctrine and practice of the church at Corinth, his burden for the Corinthian believers only grew. But when Titus came back from Corinth and shared with Paul how God was working in that church, it put Paul's mind at ease.Titus had the attribute of being a comforter of others and the ability to lift their spirits.Question for Encouragers: When I interact with others, are they left comforted or agitated?2. They Are Problem SolversBut thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.—2 Corinthians 8:16–17Titus not only did what Paul had asked, but he went beyond what Paul had asked, traveling personally to Corinth to help solve the problems in that church.Titus seems to have understood what many today miss—that there are some situations best resolved face-to-face. So rather than simply being part of a relay chain in Paul's letter, Titus put forth the initiative to actually go to Corinth, roll up his sleeves, and help.Sometimes we have the tendency to think that the problems around us are too great for us to make any difference. The truth is that a Spirit-filled Christian with the Word of God can help others one person at a time.Question for Encouragers: Do I tend to create problems or take the initiative to solve them?3. They Bring Order Where There Is ConfusionTo Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:—Titus 1:4–5This aspect of Titus' life brings us back to Crete. As we were there just days ago, I could picture the pockets of believers (perhaps initially reached with the gospel through some who had been present at Pentecost and brought the truth of Christ back to Crete) scattered throughout the island with little spiritual instruction or training. It was into this confusing situation that Titus came and brought order and clarity. Through preaching, training, discipling, and no doubt confronting error, Titus helped to firmly establish the churches on the island of Crete in truth and commitment to Christ.In fact, Titus' spiritual legacy was so strong, that nearly two centuries later, there were Cretan Christians still committed to Christ to the point of martyrdom. (I recently posted a video from the village of Agioi Deka where ten were martyred in 250 A.D.)Question for Encouragers: Am I someone who causes confusion or brings peace? Do I stir others up or settle them down?Sometimes we think of encouragement only as a passing comment or general spirit of helpfulness. But those who consistently encourage others recognize that this attribute runs much deeper. Becoming an encourager involves bringing joy and comfort to those around us, using God's Word to help solve problems, and bringing order and peace where there is confusion.Are you an encourager?
Experts respond.Lifeway Research found that 3 in 10 Protestant churchgoers believe that“many more” abusive pastors have yet to been found out. Yet 9 in 10 say their churches are safe places, and 8 in 10 say leaders would not cover up misconduct and would bear the cost of addressing incidents correctly. We asked experts whether Christians are overly optimistic about their own church’s response.Justin Holcomb, Episcopal priest, author, board member for GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment)The very high level of confidence churchgoers have in their church’s ability to respond to abuse is unfounded. Routinely, many churches do not report abuse and do not endure the cost of addressing abuse allegations. These findings reveal that congregations assume the best about themselves and their leadership. Unfortunately, these churchgoers’ optimistic views do not match up with the reality of a majority of churches.Nick Davis, lead pastor of Redemption Church in San Diego, cofounder of the Valued ConferenceSadly, I think too many churchgoers would rather look the other way than confront reality…. Most churches don’t have the right policies, procedures, or adequate training in place to handle sexual abuse and assault claims. We should admit this but never accept this reality. It’s also why we need to act now and do everything we can to understand, identify, prevent, and respond to sexual abuse and assault going forward.Mary DeMuth, advocate and author of We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis:Honestly, I think many churchgoers simply don’t understand the dynamics at play. And since few truly know their leaders personally and/or are familiar ...Continue reading...
3 Words from 1 John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” 1 John 2:28These are affectionate words—little children. I know we like to think we are all “grown up” but sometimes we need to be reminded that God sees us as His children—precious and loved by Him. However, our position as God's children doesn't give us permission to remain immature in the faith. In fact, just the opposite is true. We are often challenged to grow in grace and develop strong spiritual muscles so that we might live for Him.This verse has three important words for us “little children” that can help us stay focused and be ready for our future in Him.AbideThis word abide means to remain, to dwell somewhere; and here we are told to “abide in him”—our Saviour and Lord. I know as a parent I have often said through the years, “Stick close to dad.” There was a reason: I didn't want my child to wander off, get lost in a crowd, become vulnerable to someone who might seek to carry them off, or get hurt.The Lord Jesus wants us to stay close, too. The Lord taught His disciples: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).We need Him if we are going to live successfully as His child in this spiritually dangerous world.AppearWhat soul-comforting truth this is: “when he shall appear.” There is coming a day when Jesus will come again! That is His promise in John 14:2c-3: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”The Lord is coming again—Paul wrote to Titus and encouraged him that we can be on the “lookout” for the Lord in Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”As the songwriter said, “What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see…”AshamedWhoa, what is this? It is simply that when the Lord comes, we want to be ready for Him. How would a child of God possibly be “ashamed before him at his coming?” A moment or two of personal reflection brings any number of sobering thoughts to mind. What sort of things would bring a sense of “oh no” at the trumpet instead of a sense of “yes!”I am sure each believer can think of sin left unconfessed, hearts hardened to the Lord, an unforgiving attitude, duties unfulfilled, or love withheld…How much better for you and me, God's “little children” to remain close to the Lord, to abide in Him, that when He appears, we can be confident and expectant, rather than ashamed and filled with regret.
Sometimes teaching requires pastoring.No student expects a relationship with a professor to be the primary shaping influence on her path to higher education. In fact, some seminary students see theological education as largely intellectual, impersonal, and detached from life and ministry—a pursuit of the mind, not the soul or body. But others in seminary have found it to be much more holistic, and relationships between students and faculty members, along with interactions that model how to integrate knowledge with the rest of life, are essential to this process. Catherine Arnsperger experienced this connected education under the seasoned, pastoral oversight of Dr. Glenn Kreider at Dallas Theological Seminary, where he has been a systematic theology professor for over two decades. Catherine took her first systematic theology class with Dr. Kreider in the fall of 2013. Early in her seminary career, the two developed a relationship that not only enhanced Catherine’s education but brought their families together and resulted in radical transformation.Arnsperger: When I arrived at seminary, I had a skewed view of God. I suppose everyone has an inaccurate understanding of God simply because we are finite humans living this side of the resurrection. Our impressions are like a crayon drawing done by a child: we do the best we can, concentrating and coloring diligently, but even still our finished product only faintly resembles the object itself. My drawing rendered God without a heart. If you tried to point out that I had a heartless God, I’d have quickly told you about God’s sovereignty, omnipresence, power, and glory, and I would verbal assent to his love, mercy, and grace. My view of God was skewed—I just didn’t know yet.I entered ...Continue reading...
The horrendous discovery of jars containing thousands of aborted baby body parts at deceased abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer’s home reaffirms the horrors of abortion and underscores the need for laws that provide for the dignity of the unborn.Klopfer performed over 30,000 abortions in Indiana before his license was suspended in 2016 for various violations. His egregious acts included performing an abortion on a ten-year-old girl who had been raped by her uncle. He then sent the girl back to her family without notifying the authorities. Now it is abundantly clear that his misdeeds didn’t stop there.After Klopfer’s death, his family discovered medically-preserved remains of 2,246 unborn children in his home. The horror of this discovery strikes at the very core of a fetal dignity law that was passed in Indiana and affirmed by the Supreme Court. Although his license was suspended for other reasons, there appears to be no Illinois state law barring him from harboring the remains of thousands of unborn children in his Illinois home.In 2016, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a state law that required the burial or cremation of fetal remains. Designed to honor the human dignity of unborn children in death, the statute specifically prevents the incineration of fetal remains together with surgical byproducts. The law was challenged and eventually made its way up to the Supreme Court, where it was affirmed in Box v. Planned Parenthood. The Court held that the State had a legitimate interest in the proper disposal of fetal remains and that the requirements were rationally related to that legitimate interest, a principle that the Court noted in City of Akron v. Akron Ctr. for Reprod. Health.Many other states followed Indiana’s example and enacted laws that affirm the dignity of the remains of the unborn. Texas, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Idaho, Arizona, Florida, Arkansas, and Wyoming all passed fetal dignity laws that provide various protections for the remains of the unborn. A number of other states introduced bills that would have provided similar protections but failed to pass them. Such laws refuse to treat the remains of the unborn as mere surgical byproducts, and instead, acknowledge the humanity and life lost with each abortion.Klopfer’s storage of thousands of baby body parts should shock the conscience of Americans. In Box, Planned Parenthood challenged the Indiana fetal dignity law that would have outlawed Klopfer’s actions, claiming the law was unnecessary and an attack on women’s rights. However, Klopfer’s collection of unborn remains debunks the myth that there is no need for fetal remains laws.Atrocities from the disgraced abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s infamous House of Horrors and the recent discoveries at Klopfer’s residence highlight the need to regulate the abortion industry in ways that keep women safe and care for the remains of unborn babies. In June, Illinois proudly expanded abortion access when it enacted the Reproductive Health Act. The law is one of the most sweeping pro-abortion laws in the country: it removed restrictions on the abortion industry and required that insurance providers cover abortion procedures. While the Illinois legislature and Governor were proudly lifting many restrictions on the abortion industry, Klopfer was harboring thousands of unborn remains in his Illinois residence. This stark contrast emphasizes precisely why the industry must be strictly regulated.Had Indiana’s law been in place when Klopfer was performing abortions, he would have been legally required to surrender the remains for burial or cremation within ten business days. He also could have been charged with transporting a fetus out of Indiana as a Class A misdemeanor, as well as intentionally acquiring fetal tissue as a Level 5 felony. Had Indiana’s law been in place when Klopfer was performing abortions, 2,246 unborn babies might have never been stored in a house like some perverted trophies. There is a crucial need for fetal dignity laws to affirm the unborn and prevent people from perpetrating heinous acts like Klopfer’s. It appears Gosnell’s case is no longer as isolated as we once thought, and there must be legal protections to prevent these types of atrocities.Our laws must protect the most vulnerable in our society. Indiana’s fetal dignity law and similar laws in other states are crucial steps towards recognizing the humanity of the unborn even in death. Dr. Klopfer, Gosnell, and others have shown what the abortion industry is capable of, and they must not be allowed to disgrace the bodies of their unborn victims howsoever they wish.Katherine Beck Johnson is the Research Fellow for Legal and Policy Studies at Family Research Council.
We know that God's Word is profitable in every area of life and ministry (2 Timothy 3:16). But how often do we purposefully give it entrance into our lives?Colossians 3:16 invites us to let it “dwell in you richly.”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.—Colossians 3:16Letting Scripture dwell in us is key to wisdom and to teaching and admonishing others.So how do we invite God's Word to dwell in our lives?1. Hear ItWho hath ears to hear, let him hear.—Matthew 13:9Are you attentive to God's Word? Do you listen when it is preached, or do you find yourself distracted? Do you read it during the week? Do you give it entrance into your heart?2. Handle ItStudy to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15Every Christian is a believer priest who is able to read and understand the Bible for themselves. As Christians, we are to be students of God's Word. We should study it carefully and learn to apply it faithfully.3. Hide ItThy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.—Psalms 119:11When we memorize Scripture, we have it on hand to use against temptation that comes our way during the day. We also have it available to occupy our thoughts so that we can meditate on it throughout the day.4. Hold It Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.—Philippians 2:16We are to hold forth God's Word for others to see—like a person holding out a flashlight for the benefit of others in a dark place.Some of the strongest Christians are those who are active in sharing their faith. As they witness for Christ, people ask questions, which drives them to study God's Word more. In time, they are grounded in the knowledge of biblical doctrine which they have gleaned through study over the years.These four ways God's Word dwells in our lives are basic…but they are also foundational. Are you engaging in them?
The Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem more than 2,500 years ago was one of the key moments in biblical history, representing God's judgment but also his grace and mercy.
The Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem more than 2,500 years ago was one of the key moments in biblical history, representing God's judgment but also his grace and mercy.
New Study Resource —Bible Book Introductions by Grace to You Now available on BLB is a complete collection of Bible book introductions, which have been made publicly available by the ministry of Grace to You. Including all 66 books of the Holy Bible, this resource offers key insights into the book's author and setting, theological and historical […]
Temple Baptist Church - 7-21-2019John 15:7-8Introduction:A. “Abide”- A primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): - abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for).B. To understand the word “abide” more fully, I want to look at a very familiar verse of scripture.1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. ( uncorrupted, alive, immutable)C. As Bible believers, we understand:1. God's Word cannot corrupt. If it does, it is not God's Word. (Impeccability)2. God's Word cannot die or fail to operate in its intended, Biblical manner. It not only was alive, it still lives. I not only used to work; it continues to work.3. God's Word continues. It is not something that was given in its purity in the Original Manuscripts but continues “for ever” in its perfection. (Immutability)D. God intended for the believer to “abide” in Him. To continue in the connected state that began when he/she was saved.E. The saddest example of what I am preaching about this morning is a man named Demas.2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;F. Many good people have failed to abide. They are no longer faithful to God, the local church, the pastor, or to you! They sit at home or some in liberal churches this morning. The are all “victims” and, therefore, have their excuses for no longer serving God.G. I do not want any of you to be a part of this statistic!1. We need to continue in God's Word. John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;2. We need to continue in God's Word and Sound Doctrine. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.3. We need to continue in God's Grace. Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.4. We need to continue in Faith. Acts 14:21-22 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, (22) Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Never give up!)5. Continue in Love. Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.6. Continue in Separation. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.7. Continue in Faithfulness. Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
Temple Baptist Church - 7-28-2019Romans 16:24-27Introduction:A. As we finish the Book of Romans, we find Paul's:1. Encouragement – Grace in verse 24.2. Exhortation – Gospel in verses 25-26.3. Exaltation – Glory in verse 27.B. I want to take a short look at the importance of the ending of the Book of Romans.1. Encouragement in Grace. Verse 24.a. Paul knew the predicament that these Roman believers were in. In the First Century, Rome ruled most of the known world and ruled with great cruelty.b. I have a list of the Roman Caesars who ruled in the first century.1) Augustus 29 BC-14 AD (The Birth of Christ.)2) Tiberius 14 AD-37 AD (The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ.)3) Caligula 37 AD-41 AD #1 on the Cruelty List of Caesars(The Acts of the Apostles: the great persecution of Rome and Saul of Tarsus.)4) Claudius 41 AD-54 AD (The Caesar unto who Paul appealed.)5) Nero 54 AD-68 AD #5 on the Cruelty List of Caesars (The Caesar to whom Paul appeared and was martyred.)6) Vespasian 69 AD-79 AD (The Caesar who had Jerusalem destroyed under Titus in 70 AD)7) Titus 79 AD-81 AD (The Roman General who destroyed Jerusalem who became a national hero and eventually Caesar of Rome.)8) Domitian 81 AD-96 AD (The Caesar under which John the Beloved was boiled in oil and exiled on the Isle of Patmos.)9) Nerva 96 AD-98 AD10) Trajan 98 AD-117 ADc. We are familiar with three of these 10 Caesars:1) Augustus Caesar – decreed that all the world be taxed around the birth of Christ.2) Claudius Caesar – chapters 11, 18 when there was a great dearth or famine throughout the world.3) Titus Caesar – under the rule of Vespasian, destroyed Jerusalem to the ground and, as a national hero, was elevated to Caesar 9 years later.4) Nero Caesar – the Caesar during Paul's later years and listed as the 5th on the Cruelty List of first century Caesars.d. Nero Caesar: Nero was Caesar when Paul wrote the Book of Romans as well as the year Paul was martyred.1) Cared nothing for the welfare of his people, much less dispersed Jews and Christians.2) Nero had his own mother executed along with anyone whom he believed could not be trusted.3) Nero reigned 15 years and, though he did not fiddle while Rome burned, he did blame the fire on Christians whom he greatly persecuted.4) Nero arrested, impaled, and burned to death as torches Christians. As they burned, they lighted Nero's gardens in Domus Aurea. He is said to have breathed in the stench of burning flesh and laughed.5) It was under Nero's reign that the Apostle Paul was executed by beheading.6) Nero had his grave dug while repeatedly saying, “What an artist dies within me!”7) Nero stabbed himself in the throat and bled to death.8) Many scholars believed Nero to be the Great Beast whose number was six hundred and sixty six.e. Through these terrible years, God's Grace would be both available and sufficient.1) It is Sovereign Grace. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace begins and ends with God!2) It is Saving Grace. “For by grace are ye saved!”3) It is Sustaining Grace. “Grace to help in time of need.”4) It is Satisfying Grace. “My grace is sufficient!”2. The Exhortation of the Gospel. Verse 25-26.a. Paul began the Roman Epistle with the importance and power of the gospel.b. Romans 1:15-17 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.c. Though greatly persecuted, along with Paul the Roman believers were debtors to their “Jerusalem.”d. They were never to forget that it was the gospel that bought their eternal salvation and EVERY CREATURE NEEDS A PREACHER.3. The Exaltation of The Glory of God. Verse 26-27.a. The Wisdom of God's Word Published. “made manifest … by the scriptures.”b. The Wisdom of God's Person. “To God only wise.”c. The Wisdom of God's Plan. “through Jesus Christ.”Jude 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Temple Baptist Church - 7-28-20192 Corinthians 12:1-10Introduction:A. There is much controversy about what Paul's “thorn” was.1. Some believe that it was a physical suffering because of his eyesight - Galatians 4:15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.Galatians 6:11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.2. Some believe that it was a spiritual suffering because of his persecution. – 2 Corinthians 11:23-283. Some believe that it was a mental suffering because of his past - 1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.Galatians 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:4. I believe that the Bible is clear within the context that it was a personal devil that followed him with the power to attack Paul in some way – “the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” (Messenger in the Bible is a reference to an angel. “Messenger of Satan” is a reference to an evil or fallen angel. As the Lord lifted the “hedge” in the life of Job, He also lifted the “hedge” in the life of Paul.)B. Regardless of your position on the subject, we all realize that life is full of hard spots.1. There is the possibility of complaining to God. Everybody loves the “rose,” but nobody likes a thorn! Life has more “thorns” than “roses.” Paul did not enjoy suffering any more than we do. Even our Lord asked that the cup be removed from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane!a) Paul's initial reaction to the thorn: “besought…thrice” Verse 81) His prayer was rightly directed – to God and not to man.2) His prayer was earnestly directed – thrice.3) His prayer was specifically directed – this thing…it.b) Paul's ultimate reaction to the thorn: “gloried…took pleasure” Verse 9-101) The thorn brought glory to Paul's God.2) The thorn brought the power of God in Paul's life.2. There is the possibility of thanking God. Paul thanked God for the thorn. It is easy to give thanks for roses but not for the thorns!C. God's answer to Paul's prayer was:1. Unexpected – God answered contrary to Paul's request.2. Purposed – our faith must surpass our feelings. “A thorn is the stem upon which the flower of divine glory is to bloom!”3. Assuring – it was for Paul's good (Romans 8:28) and for God's Glory (Galatians 6:14).D. Paul's reaction to the “thorn.”1. He Gloried in the “thorn.” (To ascribe honor! He gloried in what the Lord was doing.)2. He took Pleasure in the “thorn.” (To think good or to be pleased!)3. I wonder how we would react to the “thorn?”1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.E. I believe that the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, allows us to see into the personal lives of some of God's greatest men.James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.1. God's men had problems like everyone else. Some, God removed while others, God allows to remain.2. God's men were men of like passions as we are. Ups and downs in life.3. God's men often had problems of their own making. Paul's was the potential of glorying in self. MANY OF MY PROBLEMS ARE SELF INFLICTED!4. What is my problem this morning; what is my thorn? What is yours?F. Paul thanked God for the “thorn?”THE DIVINE RESULTS OF THORNS IN YOUR LIFE1. Thorns Teach Us To Lean Upon Christ – Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.2. Thorns Teach Us That God Is Greater Than Our Problems – 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (Not God over came them, but we overcome them through grace and strength.)1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerorsthrough him that loved us.Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.3. Thorns Teach Us About God's Sufficient Grace – 2 Corinthians 12:9a And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;4. Thorns Teach Us That God's Strength Comes At The end Of Ours – Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;5. Thorns Teach Us To Praise God In The Bad Times – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.6. Thorns Teach Us About God's Power To Do God's Will – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.7. Thorns Teach Us To Appreciate The Roses!Conclusion: A man once said, “How beautiful the rose that blossoms out of a stem of thorns!”
Temple Baptist Church - 8-4-2019Romans 16:25-27Introduction: A. In these verses, we find both mystery and revelation of mystery. A mystery is something difficult to explain or to understand. In the mysteries of the Bible, we find the mind and purpose of God, hidden from the sinner and revealed through the Spirit to the saint.Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.1 Corinthians 2:9-10 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.B. When we think of God and eternity, our understanding and reasoning break down. Before there was anything, there was God! “In the beginning God” is the most profound theological statement found in the Bible. There was never a time when God was not and there will never be a time when God will not be. He is the Eternal One. He is the Self Sufficient One. He needs nothing or anybody. He knows all. He is everywhere. He can do anything. He is sovereign!C. In His foreknowledge, He planned it all. He knew us. “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?” He is not surprised. He is not baffled. He is not shaken. He is not confused. He does not worry. He does not make mistakes. He counsels Himself and needs none from you or I. He is God!D. Before something happens, He knows. Before something happens, He prepared. I want to look at these verses for a moment and marvel at His infinite wisdom, grace, and love for mankind. He loves every man, woman, and child that has ever lived or will ever live. His love is unspeakable, incomprehensible, but—thank God—knowable!1. Before There Was A Sinner, There Was A Saviour! 1 Peter 1:18-20 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,a. The Lamb Spoken Of - Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.b. The Lamb Manifested - John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.1 John 1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.c. The Lamb Slain - Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.2. Before There Was Guilt, There Was Grace! 2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,a. Before Man Ever Strayed, There Was Grace To Bring Him Home - Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.b. Before Man Ever Sinned, There Was Grace To Make Him Clean - Romans 3:23-25 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;c. Before Man Ever Became Separated From God, There Was Grace To Reconcile Him - Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things [re]of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;1) Grace That Saves - Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,2) Grace That Is Sufficient - Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:3. Before There Was The Punishment Of Death, There Was The Promise Of Life! Titus 1:1-3 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; 2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; 3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;a. To Those Who Would Come To Christ - John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.b. To Those Who Would Confess Christ - Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.c. To Those Who Would Claim Christ - Romans 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Before The First Sinner Ever Bowed, Christ Was Ready To Receive Him!)4. Before There Was A Hell, There Was A Heaven! Ephesians 1:7-10 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:a. For A Redeemed People - John 14:1-4 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.b. For A Righteous People - Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:c. For A Reconciled People - Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us.Conclusion: I cannot comprehend, nor can I explain all that God has!1. There Is More - 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.2. And It Is All Ours - Romans 8:17-18 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
by Thomas BostonIn your sufferings,"Consider His holiness and justice, showing he wrongs you not;His mercy and goodness, that it is not worse;His sovereignty, that it may silence you:His infinite wisdom and love, that may satisfy you in it."A spirit brought down to their lot. Their lot is a low and afflicted one; but their spirit is as low, being, through grace, brought down to it. We may take it up in these five things:(1.) They submit to it as just. Micah 7.9, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him.” There are no hardships in our condition, but we have procured them to ourselves; and it is therefore just that we kiss the rod, and be silent under it, and so lower our spirits to our lot. If they complain, it is of themselves; their hearts rise not up against the Lord, far less do they open their mouth against the heavens. They justify God, and condemn themselves, {72} reverencing His holiness and spotless righteousness in His proceedings against them.
Helping Others Get Closer to God “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 If you are on the staff of a church, you are an example to someone. You may just think of yourself as a secretary, or office worker, but in reality you are more than that. Just being “on staff” makes you an example and a leader. You need to accept it, and allow it to affect what you do and how you behave. You ask, “Who is watching me?” or, “to whom am I an example?” There is someone in your church who wishes she had your job, or wants to be just like you some day: Children and teens (yours or someone else's) Newer Christians Newer members Parents of your children's friends School parents Folks in your adult class Folks who sit near you in church Are you a good example? A godly influence is one who moves others onto God's agenda. Before we can influence others toward godliness, we ourselves must be under God's influence—seeking God's direction, obeying His impulses, and being where we're supposed to be so God can use us. If you are moving toward God, someone is probably following you. A godly influence: 1. Encourages a Closer Walk with God “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1–3 Encourage wise choices—encourage ladies to seek godly counsel, love their husbands, and be faithful to the Lord and church. Encourage “God-ward” thinking—remind others of God's love; weave godly topics into conversations. Encourage Bible study and prayer. 2. Is a Need-filler So often we are guilty of not noticing. Instead, we need to stop, look, and ask questions. This is where love kicks in—do you love enough to act or just have empathy or sympathy? When you say you will pray for someone, don't fail to do it! Influence grows when we show compassion. We must model compassion, like the Lord did in Luke 10:37, “And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” Genuine compassion powerfully affects those who receive it, those who give it, and those who observe it. You can offer to babysit for a young mother, or help in a financial way if you can, or just a smile, hug, or note can communicate compassion. 3. Is Trustworthy Keep confidence. Be careful about sharing news. Be careful not to gossip. Repeating facts can lead to gossip (James 3:6; Proverbs 26:20–22). Gossip = habitually retelling behind the scenes information Gossip = idle talk about others, regardless of fact Gossip = saying something about someone that you know he/she wouldn't want said—regardless of whether or not it is true Be intensely loyal, and always give others the benefit of the doubt. 4. Is a Real Example In word – our words should build, not tear down “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6 “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29 In conversation = lifestyle “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” Philippians 1:27 In charity = compassion Do you love enough to take action? In spirit = attitude Attitude is contagious (good or bad)! Is this your attitude: “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:8)? “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28 In faith “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 In purity “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 Let's determine to be a positive friend, mentor, and influence in our offices, churches, and communities.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, United Flight 93 took off from Newark's Liberty International Airport bound for San Francisco. There were forty-four people on board, all of whom would lose their lives that day. Four terrorists took over the plane with the intention of flying it to the Washington DC area and crashing it into one of our government buildings or memorials. They very probably would have succeeded, except for the bravery of the passengers and crew onboard that day.Recently, while preaching in a Faith Promise Missions Conference, the Pastor took the missionary families and me to visit the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. My mind and heart were deeply impressed by the selfless, courageous actions taken by those who were on board and lost their lives that day while attempting to take back control of the airplane from the terrorists. The heartbreaking messages of love from wives, mothers, and husbands to their families were testament to their concern for their loved ones, while they themselves were in absolute jeopardy. The memorial is a wonderful aid that causes us to remember their bravery and devotion.As I stood at the spot looking over the site of the crash (pictured above), God brought three simple thoughts to mind.1. We Do Not Know What Tomorrow HoldsBoast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.—Proverbs 27:1I know that is an elementary statement; but I fear it is a truth we often know, but too often fail to appropriate into our decision-making and lifestyles as believers. We are not guaranteed a tomorrow. We are not to live in abject fear that we may die at any moment, but we are to live with a healthy reverence that at any moment we could leave this life, or Jesus could return. What life-altering truths those statements are! God is not only to be in our planning, He is to have authority over our planning; and His glory is to be the object in every decision and direction for our lives.2. There Are Times and Events That Are Bigger than Our Convenience and Our ComfortWe live in a self-oriented and self-interested world. Just peruse social media for the proof of that statement. Many believers operate with the sense that God exists for the purpose of making their lives good. But we must be reminded that we, in truth, exist to bring God glory! There are times when life delivers us circumstances that are more than difficult: they can appear to be tragic.Certainly, the loss of life in this horrific act of terrorism was senseless and a terrible source of suffering for the families of those lost and for our nation. However, in that loss, the people on that plane revealed to us that human beings can respond to a crisis with a strength and ability that can only be explained by the grace of God. They set aside their own feelings and the sense of their own loss to serve a greater good, stopping that plane from being used as an instrument of war against their nation. Who knows how many other lives were saved because of their selflessness that day in giving their lives for a cause bigger than their own survival?The songwriter penned these words in America the Beautiful: “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!” We need to be believers who love our God more than our own lives, and serve His cause more than our own.3. God Will Mark Our Service and SacrificeI am thankful for the Flight 93 Memorial and the way it serves to remind us of those who lost their lives on that terrible day. But in truth, most believers who serve the Lord selflessly for His glory will not have an earthly memorial built in honor of their devotion. God does note their service, however, and He will reward the faithful servant! What a day it will be, when the selfless servant of God hears, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”May God help us strive to be Flight 93 believers: Making God the priority of our plans, making His glory the object of our living, and leaving the reward for our service to Him.
This week, Terrie and I celebrate thirty-three years of ministry at Lancaster Baptist Church with the Anniversary Sunday and host the Spiritual Leadership Conference. (And I hope you're planning to join us!)Before guests arrive for the conference, however, I wanted to share with our church family some convictions regarding ministry that I am as convinced of today as I was in 1986. Last week, I preached a message titled “This I Believe” in which I shared four such convictions.Whether you are just starting out in the ministry or have been preaching the gospel for decades, remembering and holding to these truths from God's Word will keep you going during seasons of challenge and difficulty.These convictions aren't helpful because you believe them, but they are truths that help you when you believe.1. The Power of the GospelFor I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.—Romans 1:16Following Romans 1:16, one of the great declarations of the power of the gospel, the Apostle Paul describes the darkened, hardened hearts of a culture in need of the gospel. We see many of these marks of depravity in our culture today.Thankfully, at Lancaster Baptist Church, we've also seen the power of the gospel to change lives—one person at a time.The fact is that the gospel is more powerful than the dark hearts, false worship, vile affections, and reprobate minds described in Romans 1.If you don't believe in the power of the gospel, you will become discouraged or jaded in ministry. But when you believe that the gospel is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” you want to continue to preach it. You rejoice in every life it changes. And you never lose hope for those who still need salvation.2. The Potential of ChildrenBut Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.—Matthew 19:14One of the blessings of spending over three decades in one church is performing the weddings of those you prayed over on baby dedication Sundays. It is watching the spiritual fruit in the lives of young families who were once children attending Sunday school. It is seeing God shape new generations of biblically-committed, Spirit-filled, Christ-centered Christians in this world.But whether or not you've had the privilege of being in once place for a long period of time, the reality of potential in children is there. This is why a Christ-centered church must be a child-inclusive church that nurtures and disciples hearts for God.We must continue to bring children to church—by discipling parents who already come and by sharing the love of Christ with children whose parents are not yet saved.We must also teach children. Paul affirmed to Timothy, “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Children face unrelenting indoctrination from a corrupt culture. We must point their hearts to Christ and equip their minds with the truth.3. The Priority of the Church But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.—1 Timothy 3:15The local church is a body of believers that is supposed to function as a place of teaching and building up (Ephesians 4:11–16), encouraging and loving (Acts 2:46), and holding sound doctrine (1 Timothy 3:15, Titus 1:9).As a family, the local church has challenges. If it has real people, it has messy people. That's just the nature of life and the process of sanctification for all of us. But the church is to be a place where sin is confronted (1 Corinthians 5:1–5) and the fallen are restored (Galatians 6:1–2).The local church is God's plan for reaching the world with the gospel (Acts 1:8). Above all, it is the place where Christ is to be given preeminence (Colossians 1:18).Although there are certainly times when those of us who lead in local church ministry become weary, remembering the priority of the church—to Christ who loved it and gave Himself for it, to those within our church families who need the church to grow into Christlikeness, and to a lost world in need of the gospel—reminds us of the greatness of any ministry that is part of the local church.4. The Provision of God's GraceAnd he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9God's grace is sufficient.It is sufficient for your family. It is sufficient for your financial challenges. It is sufficient for your trials. It is sufficient for your ministry. It is sufficient.When you face challenges in your life or ministry and consider if you can continue, the answer is always yes. Yes, you can.Because of God's grace.Because of the priority of the church.Because of the potential of children.Because of the power of the gospel.
The Declaration of Independence was a statement against all odds. To some, it could have been called, The Declaration of Insanity.How could thirteen fledgling colonies win a war against the mother country?How could rough pioneers and poor farmers advance against a highly-trained military?How could an under-paid, poorly-clothed, and ill-fed bunch of soldiers fight the deep pockets of support flowing to the enemy?But they did.Signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to stand by what they had signed. And by the time the war was over, they had indeed given their lives and fortunes. Of the fifty-six who signed, every one of them suffered deeply through the war.Today, through the grace of God and the courage of Americans over 200 years ago, we stand a free nation.Today, I'd like to draw your attention to another need in our land—one as great (actually greater) than that of freedom. The need for a spiritual revival.Like the idea of independence in 1776, the idea of revival doesn't look very plausible. The odds are stacked against us. Lawmakers bent on legalizing godless lifestyles, judges who care nothing for our nation's founding documents, citizens who resist and outright reject Christian influence in society—can revival happen today?I believe it can—simply because of 2 Chronicles 7:14:If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.Yes, the odds are great. But I'm concerned our carelessness is greater. We complain about the state of our nation, but we do little to confront it.If we will overcome our greatest obstacle—complacency—I believe we can see revival in America today. But I believe that, as pastors, we will have to pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to see it happen. We'll have to invest ourselves and act.Against all odds we can see revival, but only if we confront the odds.
We easily name the world, the flesh, and the devil as the three primary enemies of the Christian life—and rightly so. Ephesians 2:2–3, 1 John 2:15–16, and dozens of other passages deal with these three enemies of the soul.But rarely do these present themselves unveiled in the heart of a Christian. Satan doesn't show up announcing his presence and his intent to destroy your life, nor do fleshly temptations present themselves as the destructive “old man” Romans 6 tells us has been crucified with Christ.In fact, there are three shapes these enemies can take in the heart of a Christian, and specifically a Christian actively serving the Lord.DiscouragementThe pull of discouragement can come from many sources—comparison, a lack of fruit, spiritual setbacks in those you've discipled, backsliding in your own walk with the Lord, or simply a difficult season. But whatever the source, Satan can use discouragement to cloud our thinking and make us more vulnerable to temptation or defeat.The Apostle Paul endured many discouraging situations—physical persecution, disappointments in ministry, and carrying ministry burdens. But he worked through those seasons by choosing to replenish his spirit in the Lord.We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day—2 Corinthians 4:8–9, 16DoubtSatan's fiery darts of doubt are loaded with many types of poison. Sometimes it is doubt as to if you were called into ministry in the first place or if God is using you to make a difference. Sometimes it is doubting your salvation or if what you have believed is true. Other times it is doubt over the forward steps of faith you previously knew that God directed you to take.The answer to every form of doubt is the same: use the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit. God uses His Word in our lives to build faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So use His Word to go to battle with the fiery darts of doubt.Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:—Ephesians 6:16–17DivisionTo me, the enemy of division is one of the most grievous because we, in the flesh, do it to one another. No wonder God hates it.These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him…he that soweth discord among brethren.—Proverbs 6:16, 19How sad that Christians who hold to the same doctrine and proclaim the same gospel take to their blogs and social media to write against one another. While God does command us to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and expose heresy (Titus 1:3), the devil must certainly delight when one soulwinning Baptist writes against another soulwinning Baptist. The division stirred hurts the people involved, the churches that become distracted by it, and young people who watch and are turned away from serving in ministry because of it.Division also comes within the local church itself. Here too, it is usually because of our fleshly pride. This is why God commands us to go to one another when something comes up between us (Matthew 18:15).While we cannot control the actions of those who stir division, we can control our response to them. Colossians 3 tells us to respond in humility, grace, and love.Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.—Colossians 3:12–14If you are finding yourself assaulted by any of these enemies today, don't give up. It may be that the very reason you are encountering opposition is because you are effectively serving the Lord.Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.—Ephesians 6:10
"In studying divine covenants in general, one is treading through understanding God's Redemptive Plan throughout history. This is a matter of Eternal Salvation. It answers the question: How may a sinful man approach God (Exodus 3:5)?"Herman WitsiusFree aBooksEconomy of the Covenants Between God and Man (eBook) by Herman WitsiusA View of the Covenant of Works (eBook) by Thomas BostonA View of the Covenant of Grace (eBook) by Thomas BostonThe Marrow of Modern Divinity: Modernized and Annotated (eBook) by Edward Fisher & Thomas BostonCovenant Theology: A Biblical, Theological, and Historical Study of God's Covenants (eBook) by J. Ligon DuncanThe Covenants of Works and Grace (eBook) by Walter ChantryThe Doctrine of the Two Covenants (eBook) by by Ezekiel Hopkins
by Thomas Manton1. What is quickening?2. Why asked of God?First, What is this quickening? Quickening in scripture is put for two things:—1. For regeneration, or the first infusion of the life of grace; as Eph. 2:5, 'And you that were dead in trespasses and sins hath he quickened;' that is, infused life, or making to live a new life.2. It is put for the renewed excitations of God's grace, God's breathing upon his own work. God, that begins life in our souls, carries on this life, and actuates it. Now this kind of quickening is twofold spoken of in this psalm; there is quickening in duties, and quickening in afflictions. Quickening in duties, that is opposite to deadness of spirit; quickening in affliction, that is opposite to faintness.[1.] Quickening in duties, that is opposite to that deadness of spirit which creeps upon us now and then, and is occasioned either by our negligence or by our carnal liberty, that deadness of spirit that doth hinder the activity of grace.

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