God Is At Work

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

22July

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to do something a little different in my blog today.  I want to share what I read recently about a man who demonstrates that God is a work in our lives, many times when we don’t see it or understand it.   The Bible reminds us of this truth in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  I pray that it will be a real encouragement to your heart today.

I don’t think many of us would be surprised to find out that there are more Baptists in the United States than in any other country in the world, with estimates ranging anywhere from 35-50 million.  The next few countries with the largest population of Baptists might surprise us though.  They are primarily found in Asia and Africa, in places like India, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and Myanmar, which used to be called Burma.

Surprisingly, Myanmar, of all places, continues to have one of the highest percentages of Baptists by population of any country today and has had for over 100 years.  The reason for that is that God was at work through Jesus Christ and His gospel to bring about the kingdom of God through the life of one man, Adoniram Judson, and his trust that God would use him to reach the lost for Him.

Judson was saved when he was twenty years old, and he quickly sensed that God was calling him to vocational missions, spending his life sharing the gospel with people overseas.  He became convinced that he needed to go to Asia because there were so many people there who weren’t Christians.  He arrived in Calcutta, India in 1812, along with his wife Ann, to join a Christian work started by William Carey.

Two things happened almost immediately

That probably would have deterred most of us.

1) Less than a year after they got to India they were forced to leave because the British didn’t want Americans there; the War of 1812 between the USA and Britain had begun;  2) Instead of leaving for home, they set sail for what was then called Burma, but right before they got there they had a miscarriage with their first child.

Instead of leaving though, they settled into the country.  It took another year before they finally found a place they could permanently live and minister.  Burma was a completely Buddhist nation at the time, and they were the only known Christians there.  Adoniram and Ann went to work learning the language, which is so different from English and other Western languages that it took them over three years to learn it.

Four years passed after they moved to Burma before Judson dared to hold even a semi-public service, with little success.

The idea of an all-powerful, Creator God

Who came to save humanity

In the person of Jesus Christ

Was completely foreign

To the Buddhist mindset

And culture of Burma.

 Making it even more difficult

Was the law that forbade religious conversion

From Buddhism, punishable by death.

Finally, in June of 1819, seven years into their stay, Judson baptized his first Burmese convert.  In 1820 he got an audience with the Emperor of Burma and attempted to witness to him and convince him to allow conversion from Buddhism to other religions, but the Emperor refused and threw him out.   By 1823 though, when they had been there for ten years, there were 18 believers meeting together in a little church in Burma, and Judson had finally translated the entire New Testament into the Burmese language.

Try to put yourself in Hudson’s place at this point.  In the grand scheme of things, when you consider the billions of people who have lived on this planet throughout history, 18 people and one translated New Testament doesn’t sound like all that much, especially after 10 years of hard work and suffering.  How many of us would have stayed?  Why would Judson?

It was because he was convinced of a truth

We too must be convinced of

If we are going to live for God:

God is at work

Through the gospel of Jesus Christ

To build the church

And bring about the kingdom,

And the results must be left to Him;

But they will be beyond compare.

Unfortunately, Judson’s church didn’t live happily ever after. In 1824, Burma and Britain went to war, making all English-speakers threats, and Judson was arrested, spending 20 months as a prisoner of war.  He was arrested in front of his wife, marched across the country, and tortured throughout his sentence, often hung upside down in prison.  A few years after that experience Judson’s wife, Ann, died, as did their infant child.

Judson knew that God had called him

To this place however,

And That God is faithful,

So he stayed faithful,

Sowing the Word.

By 1832, 19 years after moving there, he had started a new work.  This time that new work grew rapidly.  One of his indigenous disciples began a fruitful ministry himself. When Judson died in 1850 after 37 years in Burma, he left behind over 100 churches and 8000 believers, as well as the entire Bible, translated into the Burmese language. He was also instrumental in beginning the first Baptist mission organization in the United States, which led to the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845.

We must remember and trust

That God is at work.

If we come to Him,

He is at work in our lives,

Changing us through His Word.

He is at work in our church.

He is at work using our witness

In our community, In our home,

At our workplace,

At our school,

And in our country.

We may never well know how He will use us.  What we do know is that if we hear Jesus, receive His Word, grow in His grace, surrender to Him so that He bears His fruit in us, depend on Him, and remain faithful, He will work in us, and through us, to bring in a harvest we could never begin to reap on our own.

What a comfort!  What an encouraging word – God is at work!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Precious Power of the Blood – Five Benefits Christ Purchased for Us

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

19July  There is a song that most Christians are familiar with.  The words to the chorus go like this,

There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r

In the blood of the Lamb;

There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r

In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Happy memories flood my mind when I hear these words. We sang them often in church when I was young.  My father seemed to love “Power in the Blood” most of all.  I could tell he would sing louder than normal on this one, and I’d follow suit.  I think the whole congregation sang with more gusto than usual, but I couldn’t hear them well with the two of us both raising our voices.

Christians of all stripes and leaning affirm

There is indeed power in the blood of Jesus.

Bible-and Spirit-shaped souls feel that intuitively, but have you ever paused to ask how? Is there magic in the blood?  If there is power in His blood, how do we explain the reality?  What truths operate under the surface when we celebrate, in shorthand, this wonder-working pow’r?

What Does the Blood Do?

The New Testament epistle to the Hebrews builds the bridge from the Old Testament sacrificial system (and its blood) to the new covenant and Jesus’s once-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:7,12).  Throughout the Bible, blood represents life (for instance, Genesis 9:4), and the spilling or shedding of blood, in turn, depicts death (Leviticus 17:11,14; Deuteronomy 12:23;).  Because the just penalty of human sin against God is death (Romans 6:23), the death of sanctioned animal sacrifices, through the presentation of their blood, stood in temporarily for the requirement of death for sinners.  Yet, the high priest had to return year after year, “repeatedly” (Hebrews 9:7,25), because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).  The repeated animal sacrifices were delaying the inevitable, waiting on God’s fullness of times.  One day a final reckoning for sin must come.

Christians, of course, believe and celebrate that now in Christ, and under the terms of a new covenant, the reckoning has come.  Jesus willingly “offered Himself” (Hebrews 9:14) by “once for all” shedding “His own blood” (Hebrews 9:12), bringing to its intended completion the temporary covenant that came before (the old covenant) and inaugurating in its place an “eternal covenant,” (Hebrews 13:30), which we call the new covenant.

Hebrews celebrates some of the specific benefits

Christians enjoy because of Jesus’s blood

(Hebrews 10:19; 13:12),

But it’s the apostle Paul, in particular,

Who celebrates the manifold grace

That comes to us because of His blood.

In one sense, we can connect to Jesus’s blood every divine grace that comes to us, but five times Paul makes the connection explicit, with both the mention of blood and a specific aspect of what Christ has secured for us with His death.

Propitiation: To Remove God’s Righteous Wrath.

The Bible says in Romans 3:25 that Jesus is the one whom “God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”  Because God is just, the sins of His people are no small obstacle. In His kindness and grace, He has chosen to love us, yet in His righteousness and justice he cannot sweep our sins, which are acts of cosmic treason against Him, under the rug of the universe.  So, in His love, He devises a way to satisfy justice and still triumph with mercy.

God Himself, in the person of His own Son, takes on human flesh and blood and offers himself in the place of sinful people, to receive the just wrath of God and pay our penalty in His death, all that we might live.  His blood, then, signifying the sacrificial giving of His life in the place of those deserving death (and “received by faith”), propitiates His righteous wrath, upholds divine justice, and opens the floodgates of his mercy.

Justification: To Extend God’s Full Acceptance.

Romans 5:9 says “we have now been justified by his blood.”  Justified is courtroom language.  The prosecution and defense each present their case, and the judge or jury makes a declaration: either righteous or condemned.  The defendant is either guilty as charged or declared to be in right standing with the law – justified.

The reason those who are united to Jesus by faith are justified is owing, in part, to His sacrificial and substitutionary death.  He willingly shed His own blood not for His own sins (he had none), but for ours.  The spilling of His blood to cover our sins made possible our sharing in His righteousness by joining us to Him through faith.  Without His blood, our unrighteousness would remain unaddressed.  We could not stand with Him at the final judgment and receive with Him his Father’s declaration, “Righteous.”

Redemption: To Purchase Our True Freedom.

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”  To redeem means “to buy back or secure the freedom of someone in bondage.”  Because of our sins, we all were (or continue to be) in spiritual captivity.  Our violations of God’s law means we deserve His omnipotent, righteous wrath.  But in Christ, by the shedding of his Blood, which forgives our sins before God, He purchases our freedom from justice and from the power of Satan. The Bible declares this in Colossians 2:13-14, “Having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”  Through His self-offering at the cross, Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame” (Colossians 2:15).

The decisive weapon the demons had against us was unforgiven sin, but when Jesus spilled His own blood in our place, to forgive our sins, He freed us from captivity.  He redeemed us from Satan and the record of debt and legal demands against us.

Forgiveness: To Restore Our Best Relationship

These precious themes, of course, overlap.  We’ve already seen the importance of forgiveness, but Ephesians 2:13 puts it at the forefront: “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” At the heart of this “bringing near” is the restoration of humanity with the divine.  On the individual level, it’s the redemption in Christ of personal access to and a relationship with God that we, born into sin, never could have secured.  On the corporate level, it’s the restoration in Christ of the relationship with God for which we were made.

Our sin and rebellion against God has put distance between us and Him.  In His old-covenant grace, He drew near to His covenant people called Israel.  But now, in the new covenant, He draws near not to a particular ethnic people, but to all who receive His Son in faith, no matter who they are or how far they had gone away from Him.  In fact, the phrase “brought near by the blood of Christ” gets at the heart of what each of these divine gifts in Jesus’s blood does for us: it brings us to God.  There may be no better summary of what we’ve seen so far about the power of Jesus’s blood than 1 Peter 3:18, where the Bible states,“Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.”

Pacification: To Make Peace with God Himself

Finally, the God-centered aim of the effects of Jesus’s blood is confirmed in the bring of peace between God and His people.  In Christ, God reconciles His people “to Himself . . . making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).  That He shed His blood on the cross has been implicit in each instance, but here Paul makes it plain.  It is “the blood of his cross” that makes peace between God and man.  He made peace with an instrument of intentional and horrific torture and execution.

Jesus did not shed His blood by accident.  His was no random death.  Tragic as it was, it was deliberate and voluntary.  He was executed unjustly, and His blood was spilled on purpose at the cross, both by sinful men and holy God.  They took His life, and He gave it.  In doing so, He absorbed the righteous wrath of God, granted us His full legal acceptance, purchased our true freedom, restored our most important relationship, and made peace for us with God Himself.  This is how, as the Bible says in Acts 20:28, He secured “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

Precious Blood

Following the trail of blood in Paul’s letters, we begin to see an ocean of grace in that last line of the familiar chorus: There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r / In the precious blood of the Lamb. Precious, indeed.

That pairing of precious with Jesus’s blood comes from the Bible, where God declares through the pen of Peter: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

It is fitting to sing of His blood and, in doing so, celebrate all the riches represented by it. When we add “precious” in that final line, the song writer is not just adding two additional syllables to make the cadence work with the tune.  His blood is truly “precious” to us.  Infinitely valuable.  Because Christ Himself, and God Himself in Him, is precious to us.  And because the blood of Christ, is more precious than any other means of salvation, it fulfills our deepest aches and longings in God, not just temporarily but finally and forever.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Harmony Between God’s greatness And Goodness, Part 4

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15July

Perhaps you remember this common meal-time prayer from your childhood: “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.”  A very simple prayer, but with very profound truth.  In fact, you may not have realized it, but a number of the psalms in the Bible follow that same pattern of emphasizing God’s greatness and His goodness.

These two truths

Aren’t just arbitrarily

Thrown together;

They balance each other out

And give us a well-rounded

Picture of just who God is.

Each of these concepts serves

To heighten the other and

Keep them in their proper context.

Psalm 113 is a psalm that follows this pattern.  This psalm draws both of these ideas together and reminds us . . .

That while God dwells in majestic splendor

Above the heights of heaven,

He is still concerned with

The plight of man and

Involves Himself in our lives.

For this reason, God is richly deserving of our praise!

The Responsibility To Praise God.

The psalmist issues an invitation to praise.  The psalmist begins with a call to worship or praise (verses 1-3 – “Praise the LORD!  Praise; O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD!  Blessed be the name of the LORD, from this time forth and forevermore!  From the rising of the sun to its going down the name of the LORD is to be praised.”).  And by the time the psalmist is done with verse 3 we’re thinking, “Okay, we get the point. We’re supposed to praise the Lord.”  The repetition in these verses, of course, is for the rhetorical effect of emphasis – we are supposed to react to this call, and in a very specific way.  The psalmist is calling us to praise.  But . . .

What does it mean to praise?

You’ve probably heard of a person called an “appraiser.”  I think virtually every county has an appraiser, and a lot of cities do, too.  The appraiser’s job is to declare how much your property is worth so the government can collect personal property taxes.  He “ap-PRAISES” your property; he states how much is it worth.  So . . .

When we praise God,

We are declaring

How valuable he is to us.

You may have noticed in these verses that several times the psalmist mentions praising God’s name.  This may strike you as a little strange because we don’t think of names the way Old Testament Jews did.  We use names mainly just to tell people apart, but Jews had a different concept of what a name meant.  To them . . .

A person’s name represented

Their character, their personality.

It stood for who the person was.

That’s why we see some Old Testament characters having their names changed after significant events that shaped their lives.  For example, Abraham’s names originally was Abram, but after God gave the promise that He would have many children, God changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.”  This name was better suited to what Abram would become.

So, we see that what the psalmist is pointing to here is God’s essence, His character. He is calling us to praise God for the things that make Him God.

The reason for praise – God’s greatness.

But a big question remains unanswered in the psalm thus far:

“Why is God worthy of such praise?”

The psalmist is going to give us two answers . . .

The first of which we find in verse 4 – “The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.”  The first reason for praise is God’s greatness.  A common religious idea in Old Testament times was that deities were localized.  In other words, each nation had its own god and his power was confined to that nation.  The psalmist of course flatly rejects any such notion about Yahweh, the God of Israel, because He is high above all nations.  His power is not limited in any way and He shares His throne with no one, especially not some carved image of stone like these other nations worshiped.

God is to be praised

From every nation of the Earth

Because He is truly

The God of every nation

Of the Earth,

Whether men bow

The knee to Him or not.

But . . . not only is He above the nations, but in fact the world and the universe itself cannot contain His glory.  Solomon touched on this idea in 1 Kings 8 during his prayer of dedication for the temple.  He said in 1 Kings 8:27, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this temple which I have built?”

Herein lies the first reason for the psalmist’s call to praise, because God is so great. Mankind is dwarfed by the majesty and power of God, and . . .

Such a being who

Cannot even be contained

By the universe

Should strike fear

Into our hearts

And

Wonder into our souls.

But there is another reason why we should praise God, and it is an important balance to the first.  We should praise God not only for His greatness, but also for His goodness (verses 5-9 – “Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?  He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the need out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes – with the princes of His people.  He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children.  Praise the LORD!”), which is His care and concern for mankind, and this is the key point of the psalm.

The psalmist dwells on this for five verses.

Not only is God great,

But He is also good,

And this is important

Because if God were only great,

He would be no better

Than all of the other

So-called “gods” out there.

Many other religions believe

In a “god” who is great,

But no other religion

Has a god who is good.

Islam certainly preaches about a god who is great and mighty and powerful, but he is not good – certainly not in the way that the Bible describes goodness.  In Islam, the will of Allah reigns supreme, and there are no restrictions on it.  He doesn’t have to be fair to you – he can literally choose to do whatever he wants.  You could serve him faithfully your whole life, and he could still condemn you to Hell simply because he chooses to do it.  That’s why martyrdom is so attractive to those who are engaged in terrorism – they feel like that sacrifice gives them a guarantee of going to Paradise.

The psalmist mentions God’s greatness again in verse 5 to set up a contrast with verse 6.  Though God cannot even be contained by the universe, the psalmist here says that God stoops down to see what is taking place.

God is concerned about what is going on

And from other passages we know

That He is working out a plan for His glory.

Now this is not a normal thing for rulers to do.  Think about all the dictators you know from history; how many of them have been concerned about the day to day affairs of their people?  Even leaders in a system of government like ours, you may find them at a hospital when the cameras are rolling, but when the TV lights go off, where are they? There are some exceptions, but most rulers lose touch with and lose concern for the individuals they rule.

Not God though!

He is concerned about people

And what goes on in their lives.

Sometimes we adults don’t pray about certain things because we feel like they are trivial matters to burden God with.  But when a child prays, what do they pray for?  Their dog who is sick, the doll that they lost.  Kids pray for every little thing you can imagine because they believe that God cares, and you know what?  He does!  God is great, but He is interested and gets involved in our lives because He cares.

Did you catch that?

Not only does He care,

He gets actively involved.

In verses 7–9, we see that He “raises the lowly up.”

God doesn’t just care about the rich and powerful,

He cares about the lowest members of society.

In ancient Israel, the three groups that the psalmist mentions, “the poor, the needy, and the barren women,” were looked down upon.  They were stigmatized by society simply because of their condition, and the status of the poor that the psalmist mentions here was one of destitution.  He makes reference here to “the ash heap,” which was essentially the town dump.  Every good-sized town would have a landfill outside the walls of the city where they would burn their trash and their human waste.  People who had nowhere else to turn would live at these landfills, begging for the scraps of food that people brought out and huddling around the fires at night to stay warm.  You can imagine that . . .

These people were not highly esteemed.

But look at God’s actions!

God, who is so great,

Looks down from above the heavens,

Sees people in absolute destitution,

And is moved with compassion

To raise them to a position of prominence.

He sees the barren woman in her grief and is moved to grant her children.  Now these examples should be taken as proverbial.  In other words, they express a general truth of life.  God doesn’t take every poor person out of their poverty, and He doesn’t give children to every barren woman.  He has His own plans which ultimately are good and perfect, even though we don’t understand them.  But . . .

This is God’s character –

To be moved with compassion

By the needs of people.

And we clearly see from this the goodness of God.

God’s goodness stands

With His greatness

To make Him

The God that He is.

These two aspects of God’s nature are not contradictory, they are complimentary.

If God were only great,

He would not be concerned about mankind,

But if He were only good,

He would not have the power

To act on His concerns.

These truths should draw out a complimentary response from us . . .

His greatness

Makes Him worthy

Of our worship and adoration,

While His goodness

Makes Him worthy

Of our love and devotion.

Can you not see clearly now why the psalmist calls for such a response of praise, and why our hearts can respond appropriately!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Greatness Of God – Magnifying The Greatness Of God, Part 3

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15July

In the book of Psalms, David shows the appropriate starting point for worship.

It involves . . .

Thinking about,

Magnifying,

And responding

To the glory

And splendor of God.

He reminds us of this in Psalm 145:3 by saying “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable!”  If we go along with the starting point of worship, to praise Him, to magnify Him for His greatness . . . We are doing it right!

Many times, it is so easy for us to get caught up in a million other things in our lives.  We may get distracted by our jobs, our family, our finances, etc.  When this happens, what size does God appear to be when our mind is preoccupied with all the cares, worries, and concerns of life?  Extremely small.

But the good news is

That God is not small.

God is extremely GREAT.

J.I. Packer reminds us that “our personal lives are limited in every direction, in space, in time, in knowledge, in power.  But God is not limited. He is eternal, infinite, and almighty. Like us, He is personal, but unlike us, He is GREAT.”

The first priority of our time together

As believers and as worshippers

Is to magnify the Lord.

Sometimes we may get caught up in catching up with friends, family, our personal lives, our personal preferences, etc. but… our FIRST priority should always be to magnify the Lord.

God is bigger than our problems and joys,

Greater than our sorrows and successes,

More significant than our tests and triumphs.

It can be so easy to get distracted by things in our life and by our own preferences, but in all reality, God needs to become bigger in our eyes and in our lives.

The distractions and preferences

Need to fade away

And we need to focus

Oon glorifying and magnifying God’s greatness.

God’s greatness never changes

… Our focus does.

One beautiful example is our view of the stars.  To the naked eye they appear like tiny pinpoints of light, barely visible against the black backdrop.  Twinkling dots suspended in vast darkness.  We can walk outside and barely notice them.

But when we look through a high-powered telescope,

We’re awestruck by what they really are:

Massive spheres of raging fire,

Mmillions of times larger than the earth,

Brighter than our human eyes can bear.

The stars haven’t changed

… Our vision has…

God doesn’t change

… We do.”

So the question is now… HOW do we magnify?  There are 3 categories in which we can magnify God’s greatness: His Word, His nature, and His works.

1. God’s Word. The Bible is His self-revelation to us. We come to know God’s greatness through His Word.  Psalm 19:7-9 states that the Word of the Lord is “perfect”, “sure,” “right,” “pure,” and “true.”   As believers, we live in awe that God would speak to us – as we listen to what He says, we are . . .

Encouraged by His promises

Challenged by His commands

Fearful of His warnings,

And grateful for His blessings.

Reading God’s word creates a desire to see and proclaim God’s greatness.

2. God’s nature. The Psalms also focus on Who God is, conveying the reasons God deserves our praise.

We’ll never reach the end of them!  How beautiful is that?!?  All of God’s attributes, the way He loves, the nature of who He is exist together in perfect harmony, perfect balance, perfect cooperation, with no contradiction, no confusion, and no diminishing of their glory forever.

3. Magnifying God’s works. As we learn from the Psalms, also includes drawing attention to His Works.

One of the problems

We as humans face

Is that we tend to be

More impressed with what we do

Than with what God has done.

God has revealed to us all the works He has done.  He has revealed them to us for our comfort, correction, strengthening, protection, and joy.  He has revealed them to us for our worship.

Magnifying God’s greatness,

Then,

Involves proclamation and passionate worship.

Through our worship of glorifying God

And magnifying His greatness,

We have every opportunity to magnify

And encounter our GREAT and awesome God.

 May we encounter our GREAT and AWESOME God as we MAGNIFY His GREATNESS this week!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Greatness And Goodness of God, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

Yesterday, we began looking at the greatness and goodness of God.  This is one truth that is essential to understand if we are going to know God as He is.  God says in Isaiah 40:25, “’To whom will you compare Me? Who is My equal?’ asks the Holy One.”

No one can fully describe God

Because no one can

Fully comprehend God.

When Isaiah tried to understand God’s greatness, he concluded in Isaiah 40:22, “The people below must seem to Him like grasshoppers!”  That’s how we feel sometimes, isn’t it?

We feel as though God is so great

That He can’t possible care about us.

Yet, that is not what His Word teaches.

Isaiah begins this chapter with these words from the Lord – “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.”  In other words, God is declaring and wanting us to know –

“Let My people know

Just how much I care.”

Concerning God’s care, we read these words in Isaiah 40:11, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd.  He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.”  Though God is infinitely more marvelous than we can possibly imagine, He cares about each of us even as a shepherd cares for his sheep.  God carries us in His arms and hold us close to His heart.

Yet, perhaps many of you are thinking, “I don’t feel such care. I don’t feel such closeness.  I feel as though God is a million miles away and I am less than nothing.”  We all have times when we feel this way; yet . . .

We can’t always trust our feelings.

Instead we must go to God’s Word

And study His truth and stand upon His Word.

The people of Israel wondered if God still cared for them.  They had sinned and punishment had been promised.  But even with their sin, God sought to give them comfort.  The Bible says in Isaiah 40:27-31, “O Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles?  How can you say God refuses to hear your case?  Have you never heard or understood?  Don’t you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth?  He never grows faint or weary.  No one can measure the depths of His understanding.  He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak.  Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up.  But those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength.  They will fly high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.”

“God will continue to care for you,” Isaiah promised, “but you must learn to wait upon Him and not do things on your own.”  

God gives power

To those who

Are tied and worn out –

If they wait upon Him.

God gives strength

To the weak –

If they will learn

To lean upon His strength

And not their own.

The word for “renew” here literally means “exchange.”  God promises to exchange our weakness and inability with His power and ability.

The key is to “wait.”

What does it mean

To wait upon the Lord?

This word is used in the Bible not to convey idleness or inactivity – like waiting in the doctor’s office – but it speaks of pursuit and progress.  Simply put . . . The word ‘wait’ means “to look to something and pursue it with hope and expectation.”   It means “to surrender to God and lean upon His greatness and goodness.”

How good can God be to His people?

Perhaps His goodness can

Only be measured by His greatness.

The encouragement Isaiah gives us is that this God who could look upon us as grasshoppers, wants us to be His sons and daughters!  More truths about God’s greatness in tomorrow’s blog.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Greatness Of God, Part 1

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15July For the next four days I want to look at what the Bible says about the greatness and goodness of God.  I pray that the truths that we discover will not only encourage you but create great excitement and enthusiasm in your heart for the privilege of knowing and experiencing the many daily blessings from our wonderful Creator and Savior.

The Bibles says in Psalms 8:3-4, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man, that You are mindful of him? and the son of man, that You visit him?”

I have done exactly what David was doing in the above verses.  I have looked up at the sky and considered the vastness of the heavens.  In David’s day, it must have seemed impossible to try to count the stars, but now we have made great strides in our telescopic technologies.  I was reading of the attempt made not long ago by some astronomers in Australia.  Consider what they found . . .

The Australian astronomers used some of the world’s most powerful instruments to measure the brightness of all the galaxies in one sector of the cosmos – and then calculated how many stars they must have contained.  From that measurement, they proceeded to work out a figure for the whole of the visible Universe, which they believe is much more accurate than previous estimates.  That figure – presented to the International Astronomical Union conference in Sydney – is the kind that really can be called astronomical: 70 sextillion, or seven followed by 22 zeroes.

But. . .

That is only the stars in the visible Universe

Within range of our telescopes.

Let me try to help put this in perspective.  If we took only one quintillion of the stars and simply count them [from 0 to quintillion] one number per second, day and night, this will take 32 billion years!  That is how long it will take to just “count” them.

We can appreciate the vastness of our universe if we imagine going on a journey through space at the speed of light (670,616,629 miles per hour).  When we leave the planet Earth towards the sun, at the speed of light, in only 8 minutes we reach the sun, which is 93,000,000 miles away.  If we wanted to leave our galaxy (the Milky Way) it would take us more than 50,000 years!  That makes the phrase “Are we there yet?” seem inconsequential.  It would take 2,000,000 years to reach the next galaxy; and 10 billion years to get to the outer edge of the universe.

All of this was spoken into existence

By God when He created this world (Genesis 1:1)!

Indeed … God is great,

But how can we understand His greatness?

Let me suggest three areas that will help us get that understanding . . .

He is Great in His Goodness

We use the phrase, “God is good.”   Of course, He is good!  He can’t be anything else.

He is good because He is God.

He is not good because of what He does,

But He is good because of who He is.

He is not good because He does good things for you.

He does good things for you because He is God.

He is good because He is God,

But He is not God because He is good.

The Bible says in Psalm 107:8, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

God is good . . . all the time!  God is not like us … He doesn’t have ‘good days and bad days’.  God is eternal … He is everlasting … He will not and cannot change!  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  As someone has sung, “The God on the mountain is still God in the valley …The God of the day is still God in the night.”  Praise Him for His goodness!

He is Great in His Grace

There is no measure to His grace.  Two wonderful words are Grace and Mercy.  Although they are similar, they have distinct meanings . . .

God’s mercy is demonstrated

By not giving us what we deserve.

God’s grace is demonstrated

By giving us what we do not deserve.

A biblical example that helps us understand this truth is Parable of the Prodigal Son.  He deserved to be turned away … He made his prideful choice to go his own way … and now he was suffering because of it.  He deserved to be mocked and scorned for his foolish choice … but . . .

The father didn’t give him

What he deserved …

That was mercy.

When he drew near to the old home place, his father saw him … ran to him … and embraced him.  He wasn’t even worthy to be called a servant … but the father restored him as his son.  The father called for the robe, the shoes, the ring, and a celebration.

The father gave him

What he did not deserve.

This is an illustration

Of God’s mercy and grace.

God’s grace always amazes me.  One of the most beloved hymns ever written is “Amazing Grace.”  It was penned by a former captain of a slave ship.  His name, John Newton.  Can you imagine that?  A man who made his living buying and selling other human beings?  His testimony is written in the words of that song …

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)

That sav’d a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

If you are saved this morning … it is ONLY by God’s grace.  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Salvation by grace is basic Bible doctrine.  Many groups confuse grace and works.

It is vital that we understand

That God’s grace is amazing

Because He saved us …

Not because we earn it or deserve it

… But simply because of His grace!

Praise God for His grace!

He is Great in His Gift

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” 

That Gift is His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That Gift is Eternal Life.

The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

That Gift means we have an inheritance.

The Bible declares in Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit Itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 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.”

Why is God so great?  Because He saw you and me in our sin, condemned to hell, and because He was not willing that any should perish; He sent His Son to become sin for us and to give His righteousness to all who will believe.

He is Great in His Goodness

He is Great in His Grace

He is Great in His Gift

Tomorrow we will look at further aspects of the greatness and goodness of God.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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What Is So “Great” About The Great Commission?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

12July Words like “great” and “awesome” have lost a little bit of their punch in our language.  We use them so often and for so many things that they’ve lost a little bit of their significance.  For example, we might eat a really tasty pizza and say, “Wow! That pizza was awesome!”  Or on the Fourth of July, we might rig up some kind of homemade firework and when we set it off we say, “That was awesome!”

I think it’s kind of humorous to put the dictionary definition of “awesome” into those statements.  We’d feel kind of silly saying, “That pizza filled me with an overwhelming sense of reverence!”  The dictionary does also mention an overwhelming sense of fear, so that might apply to your homemade bomb on the Fourth of July!

Because of the way that we use words like “great” and “awesome,” when we talk in church about the Great Commission, we might wonder what’s great about it.

Why do we call it

The “Great” Commission, anyway?

In today’s blog, I’d like to give you four answers to that question today as we take a look at the commission that Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 28:16-20.

The event recorded in this passage is taking place after Jesus rose from the grave.  The text says, “Now the 11 disciples went to Galilee [remember that Judas Iscariot is no longer part of the group!], to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted.”

That statement in the context of this story takes us by surprise.  What were the disciples doubting?  Were some of them doubting whether Jesus had really come back to life?  Most likely, their doubts were about their worship.  The Greek term here includes the act of bowing down to someone, and even though the disciples were coming to understand that Jesus was God and the Messiah, He was also a human being, and the thought of bowing down to a human being would have been very foreign to the minds of these Jewish men.

So most likely, they were having questions or doubts about what they should do now in the presence of Jesus.  They most likely were wondering, “Does He want us to bow down to Him?  After all, we remember Him washing our feet and telling us not to act all high and mighty.  What does He want us to do?”

Jesus doesn’t address any questions of etiquette, but instead He gives them a mission, or we might say he commissions them for a job.  Starting in verse 18, we begin to see why we refer to this as the “Great” Commission.

1. It comes from a great authority.

The Bible says in Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came and spoke to the, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  The first part of the Father’s plan for Jesus required Him to submit to various human beings.  He submitted to His parents while He was growing up, then later He submitted to the Jewish and Roman authorities.

But the days for Jesus to submit to other humans are over.  The Father has declared Him to be the Lord of heaven and earth, and if only all men everywhere would worship Him as such!  But many people have not heard that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, or some have heard, and they have continued in rebellion against Him.

And so, there is a need for the commission Jesus gives his disciples in verses 19 and 20.

2. It has a great goal.

The Bible says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Amen.” 

What a lofty and satisfying goal this is, to call people to become apprentices of Jesus – to call them to embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior, make that fact known through baptism, and then to learn from Jesus’ teachings how to navigate all the ins and outs of life.

This is the greatest goal to which

We could possibly devote our lives.

What even compares to it?  Accumulating a fortune that you just have to leave behind anyway?  A fortune that your kids might fight over or even squander?  Grasping for your 15 minutes of fame that might be gone even before you are?

No goal could possibly be greater than this Commission, and this Commission also serves as the marching orders for the church.  If you’ve ever asked yourself . . .

“What should our church really be focused on?”

There’s really no mystery to the answer.

We are to make disciples of all nations,

Lead people to be baptized,

And teach them how to live a life

That’s based on the Word of God.

Sure, some of the details will be different for different churches based on where they’re located and the resources they have, but our common goal is laid out right here, and it’s as plain as day.

3. It has a great scope.

Notice that Jesus told them to make disciples of “all nations.”  Previously, in Matthew 10, Jesus had sent the disciples out on a short-term preaching tour, and at that time He had told them to stay within the boundaries of Israel.

But now there was to be no such restriction.

Since Jesus has all authority on earth,

All the inhabitants of Earth

Need to hear the offer

Of forgiveness & eternal life

From their crucified and risen King.

The Gospel is not a message for Israel alone, but for all people.  There is also no room for prejudice or racism in our efforts to spread the Gospel.  The offer of salvation is made to all people, and all people need to hear it.

4. It comes with a great promise.

After giving His disciples this commission, He gives them this promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In may seem ironic that after giving this promise, Jesus left the Earth and returned to heaven just a few days later.  But by doing so, He made it possible to be with all of his disciples all the time – at the same time, no matter where they might be.  Remember that Jesus’ physical body could not be in two places at once any more than yours or mine can.

But after returning to heaven, Jesus sent His Spirit upon His disciples on the day of Pentecost.  The Spirit has come to live in every believer since that time.  So, Jesus has certainly made good on this promise, and He will continue to do so.

The Spirit’s presence within us is a wonderful reality of the unity that we enjoy with Jesus through faith.  Baptism is a wonderful picture of that unity as we symbolize the fact that through faith, we have died, been buried, and have been raised to new life with Jesus.  Let us celebrate with those who choose to take this important step

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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How To Strengthen Your Faith

Grace For The Journey

 

2018BlogTheme11July Need to strengthen your faith?  You might feel like you are the only one.  But you are not.  This side of heaven – every believer has times when his or her faith is weak.

What does weak faith feel like?  When I’m weak in faith –

  • I can doubt God’s forgiveness.
  • I’m not sure God loves me.
  • I don’t believe God is in control.
  • I am tempted to pursue sin more than Jesus.
  • I worry about the future.
  • I feel discouraged or blah.
  • I lack spiritual motivation.

And when faith is weak, we can feel like nothing will ever change – that we’ll never again be strong in faith or feel close to God.

There’s Good News

The good news is that no matter how weak your faith, God has the power to strengthen you!  You can see that in these encouraging passages from the Word of God –

  • Mark 9:24 — where a man prays “I believe, help my unbelief.”
  • Luke 22:31-32 — where Jesus prays that Peter’s faith would be strengthened.
  • Ephesians 3:16 — where Paul prays that God would strengthen the faith of the church in Ephesus.

The One who spoke a Universe into existence, Who brought Jericho’s walls down, Who raised Lazarus from the dead – He can and will strengthen your faith.

But How?

It’s not through trying to be good enough to earn strong faith from God – or learning to be positive and how to claim what is ours.  Neither of those are taught in the Bible.  But, in the Bible God invites us to take steps which He will use to strengthen our faith.

First – Pray and Ask Jesus to Help Your Unbelief.

The Bible tells us in Mark 9:24, “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’”  How did Jesus respond?  He answered the man’s prayer.  So, don’t think you need strong faith before Jesus will listen to you.  Turn to Him just as you are – with your weak faith – and cry out to Him for help.

Confess that your faith is weak.  Ask Him to forgive you through the Cross.  Ask Him to strengthen your faith.  Because of His death on the Cross, He will welcome you, love you, forgive you.  AND – He will strengthen your faith – especially as you then take this next step . . .

Second – Hear And Live By The Word of God.

The Bible says in Romans 10:17, “So then, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Paul teaches that as we hear (read, study, live by) the Word of God, God will bring His power upon us and strengthen our faith.

Open to a passage which is full of God’s love and faithfulness and promises in Christ.  And prayerfully read over that passage, asking Jesus to strengthen your faith, so you see and feel that His promises are true.

Here’s some passages I have found helpful to pray over . . .

  • Psalm 50:15 — that I will experience God’s deliverance in every trial.
  • John 6:35 — that if I come to Jesus and surrender Him, He will fully satisfy me in Himself.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 — that God plans every trial to bring me even more joy in Him forever.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 – that God’s grace is sufficient to get me through anything I will face in life.
  • Philippians 3:10 — That I can know Jesus fully and live by His resurrection power.
  • Hebrews 13:5-6 — that God will certainly meet my financial needs (not that I’ll be rich, but my needs will be met).
  • James 1:5 — that God will give me all the wisdom I need.
  • 1 John 1:9 — that if I confess my sins, then because of Jesus’ death, God will surely forgive me.

So . . . pick whichever one of these fits your circumstances and look for others from God’s Word – and pray over it, think deeply on it, stand on its truth – and God will strengthen your faith.  This might happen quickly – or not.  But you can trust God’s timing.  And He WILL – in His perfect timing – strengthen your faith.  You will discover the Holy Spirit changing your heart, making Jesus more real to you, satisfying your soul, and strengthening your faith.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Being The Church In A “Follow Your Heart” Age

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

10July  Not long ago, relativism defined the cultural conversation. Truth was “unknowable.” Perhaps it was somewhere “out there,” but anyone’s guess as to where one could find it was as good as the next.

This is no longer the case.

Today, we’re in a new cultural moment – one marked not by relativism, but by a new phenomenon known as expressive individualism.

While relativism

May label an

Assertion of external

And objective truth

As arrogant,

Expressive individualism

Calls it oppressive.

The relativist asks,

“Who’s to say what’s true?”

The expressive individualist replies, “Me.”

Look across the landscape of cultural artifacts, and you’ll find the same motif time and again:

Power and freedom are found in self-discovery.

As Tim Keller notes, “The only heroic narrative we’ve got left in our culture is the individual looking inside, seeing who they want to be, and asserting that over and against everyone else in society.”

So we really have moved on from relativism:

Truth is now not only knowable,

It’s been found.

All you have to do

Is look inside yourself.

Many in the church can identify, and to some degree even refute, relativism.

We’ve been handed enough apologetic tools and basic reasoning skills to dismantle the notion that truth is subjective.

Expressive individualism, however, is more insidious.

It allows us to appear as if we’re worshiping God, when in reality we are bowing to the god of self.  It acknowledges the power of Jesus but convinces us that He intends to use His power to further our own self-centered goals and aspirations.  It agrees we can be certain about truth, but points to our own hearts as the source.

When we center everything,

From Sunday worship to small groups,

On the individual experience,

We stoke the fire of self-worship.

It’s sobering to think about the church’s collusion with this mentality.  Rather than pushing back against individualism, congregations often subtly encourage it.

If we’re not careful,

We can betray the message

That “Christ is king”

With a method that says,

“Actually, you are.”

Biblically speaking, it’s difficult to find two terms more antithetical than self and church. And it’s not as though we must wade through cloaked language to discover this antithesis.

When Jesus calls us into His church,

His charge is not

That we discover

But deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24-25).

Further, when Jesus enumerates

The things that spring from our hearts,

Truth doesn’t make the list.

Only false testimony and evil thoughts do.

Or look to any teaching in the rest of the New Testament, and you’ll find it connected to a call to pursue humble unity and consider others more significant than yourself.

Simply put . . .

A biblical understanding of what it means

To believe in Jesus and belong to His church

Is incompatible

With expressive individualism.

Truth is neither relative nor self-generated; it is knowable.  In fact, it’s touchable.

Ultimate truth exists in

The form of a man, the God-man –

The One who died for our sinful hearts

So that we could die to them.

The fruit-desiring, lie-believing, wilderness-wandering self is the very thing we bury as we are buried with Christ.

His death for us

Becomes our death to self,

And His new life

Becomes our new life –

A life in which we deny ourselves

Instead of listening to ourselves,

In which we take up our cross

Instead of taking up our dreams,

And in which we follow Him

Instead of following our hearts.

Being a member of a local body of believers requires a radical commitment to a unified, corporate identity.  This commitment naturally undermines expressive individualism, since it simply won’t allow us to place ourselves – our beliefs, our preferences, our desires – at the center of the church’s reason for existence.

At a time when the church is, sadly, one of the first places to capitulate in the age of expressive individualism . . .

Growing in our relationship and walk with Christ

Through the local church gives Christ’s followers

A chance to regularly exercise the much-needed practice

Of leading our hearts rather than following them.

It takes whatever “truth” we think we’ve found within and subverts it with the pre-eminence of Christ and the truth of the gospel.  And the more we keep that truth – the truth – at the forefront, the quicker the so-called truth we find “within” gets exposed for the counterfeit that it is.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Christians Today Need Gospel Fever

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

9July  I recently read about mission work being done in a Muslim country.  The article was about an indigenous Christian who preached with passion at a church in the capital city. The author described the sense of spiritual energy and urgency that the believers had and about how the church was growing rapidly.  This being evidenced even in the midst of great opposition.  The week before Easter, some of the Christians were arrested for their faith.  Many prayed for them.  The next Sunday, Easter Sunday, they were released.  You can imagine the elation and joy that vibrated through that church.  But that wasn’t all –  Having been arrested, thrown in jail, and persecuted for their faith, these Christians had witnessed to the other prisoners.  And . . . they had brought some of the prisoners with them to the service.

As I read this marvelous account of what God is doing, I couldn’t help but think . . .

“Such is the way of the Lord.”

Just as in Paul’s day,

A prison is no barrier to the gospel.

And around the world faithful Christians are either at risk of prison or are preaching the gospel in one.

I also thought about us in the Western Hemisphere, who have not been persecuted for our faith.  Yet, in the current climate we often live in some understandable fear of what the culture will do if we stand up for – or speak too loudly about – Jesus Christ.

As I read the article, I became fascinated by the evangelistic technique of these believers.  I was eager to learn something from how they were doing evangelism.  The young pastor of the church gave a rather simple response when he was asked what his method wasThis is what he replied:

“I’ll tell you our method.

We tell them they are sinners

Until they believe it.

And then we tell them

That Christ died for sinners.”

Simple yes …

But extremely powerful

In the hands

Of our Sovereign Lord!

One of the best books on evangelism is Michael Green’s classic, Evangelism in the Early Church.  It is an excellent read from a good scholar and gifted evangelist who is now in glory. At one point, he comments on an apocryphal story about the martyrdom of the apostle Peter.  This is how he wraps the story up: “Although this story is specifically concerned with martyrdom rather than evangelism, the two cannot be easily separated.  Peter was tempted to save his life at the cost of disloyalty to his commission from Christ; but the vision of the Lord suffering crucifixion for him was the compelling factor which drove him back onto the path of complete and utter dedication, even to death itself.  That reflection upon the cross as the supreme impulse to costly service for others in the name of the gospel and was unquestionably the greatest single element in keeping the zeal of Christians at fever pitch.”

It’s been a while since I’ve heard those words, “the zeal of Christians at fever pitch” attributed to Christians in the West.

I don’t know about you, but I want this kind of fever pitch … the kind of audacity, boasting in weakness, preaching about Christ crucified, and zeal that is biblical.  It is this sort of genuine passion and zeal that has a kind of appeal and attraction to it.  It is not something that  results in people not only seeing it our faces but will sensing it in our hearts.

So then . . .

The question seems to be:

Can we have that kind of zeal – again –

In America, Europe, the West?

And if so, how?

What is the right way for us to be boldly,

Even audaciously, evangelize in our current cultural situation?

How do we do it in a way that is missional and culturally engaged

– And yet rigorously and unashamedly biblical,

Christocentric, and oriented to the glory of God?

It happens as we follow what the early church did to promote evangelistic passion:

Reflect on the cross

Refer to why Jesus went to the cross

Relay what Jesus happened as a result of going to the cross.

Require acceptance of that Gospel truth.

Let’s pray that God would give us this kind of zeal – even at fever pitch.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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