Monday, October 27, 2008

What Really Counts?

If we do not evangelize the lost and make disciples of new converts, nothing else we do for people--no matter how beneficial it seems--is of any eternal consequence. Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, a criminal or a model citizen, sexually promiscuous and perverse or strictly moral and virtuous, a greedy materialist or a gracious philanthropist--if he does not have a saving relationship to Christ, he is going to hell. It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.

John MacArthur

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Free Grace Of God

"By the grace of God I am what I am!"
1 Corinthians 15:10

The true Christian is sensible and mindful of
indwelling sin. He confesses that in everything
he comes exceedingly short, and that his best
services are not only defective--but defiled. He
accounts himself as an unprofitable servant--and
is abased in his own eyes. He knows that all that
distinguishes him from the vilest of men--is the
free grace of God!

He derives all his hope and comfort, as well as his
strength--from Jesus, whom he has known, received
and loved, and to whom he has committed his soul.
He renounces all confidence in the flesh, and esteems
all things as loss--compared to the surpassing greatness
of knowing Jesus Christ his Lord, for whose sake he has
lost all things--considering them rubbish, that he may
gain Christ!

(Letters of John Newton)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dogs, Crumbs, And A Faith To Emulate!

This is a must watch preach by Jeff Noblit from Grace Life Church of the Shoals!

Friday, October 17, 2008

In The Furnace Of Affliction

Sooner or later, affliction and sorrow come to every Christian. We ought, therefore, to have true views about pain, about the divine reasons for sending it, and about the mission on which it comes. We ought to know, also, how to endure suffering so as to get from it the blessing, which its hot hand brings to us.

While they do not solve all the mystery of human suffering, the Scriptures show, at least, that suffering is no accident in God's world--but is one of His messengers; and that it comes not as an enemy--but as a friend on an errand of blessing. The design of God, in all the afflictions which He sends upon His people--is to make them more holy, to advance their purification of character.

It is very clearly taught in the Word of God, that suffering is necessary in preparing sinful souls in this world, for heavenly glory. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." There is no easy way to glory. There is so much evil in us, even after we are born again, that nothing less than the discipline of pain, can cleanse our nature.

Tribulation is God's threshing, not to harm us or to destroy us--but to separate what is heavenly and spiritual in us--from what is earthly and fleshly. Nothing less than blows of pain will do this. Evil clings strongly, even to the godly. The golden wheat of godliness is so wrapped up in the strong chaff of the flesh--that only the heavy flail of suffering can produce the separation. Godly character can never be attained, but through suffering. Holiness cannot be reached, without cost. Those who would gain the lofty heights--must climb the cold, rough steeps which lead to them.

It is God's design, in all the pain which He sends--to make us more Christlike. His puts us in the fire of purification, until His own image shines reflected in the gold! His prunings mean greater fruitfulness. In whatever form the suffering comes--the purpose of the pain is merciful. In all our life in this world, God is purifying us--and suffering is one of the chief agents which He employs.

"We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope." Romans 5:3-4. Suffering develops in us, qualities of Christian character, which cannot be developed in any other way.

But not all afflictions make people better. They do not always produce endurance. Chastening does not always yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. We all have seen people suffering--who became only more impatient, irritable, ill-tempered, and selfish--as they suffered. Many a life in the furnace of affliction, loses all the beauty it ever had. It is not by any means universally true--that we are made more holy and Christlike, by pain.

Afflictions must be received as God's messengers. They often come in very somber garb, and it is only when we receive them in faith, that they disclose to us their merciful aspect and mission.

We should therefore receive afflictions reverently, as sent from God. We may be assured that there is always some blessing for us, in pain's hot hand. There is some golden fruit, wrapped up in the rough husk. God designs to burn off some sins from us, in every fire through which He calls us to pass. No one who murmurs under God's chastening hand, is ever made better by it.

The true aim of suffering is to get from it--
more purity of soul,
greater revelations of God's face,
more love to Christ,
deeper joy in the heart,
holier living, and
fresh strength for obedience and all duty.

(J. R. Miller, "Living Without Worry")

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Count The Cost!

No person can pay the cost of saving his or her own soul! The only way that our sins can be atoned for, that a person can be ransomed from hell, is by the death of Jesus Christ! Choosing to receive this free gift involves turning away from sin, turning away from the world, being committed to following Jesus Christ, and so in a very real sense there is a price tag attached to following Jesus! He is the only way of salvation. You are a fool not to follow him, but before you follow him you need to sit down and count the cost! What its going to mean for the rest of your life to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. To start out on the Christian life, and somewhere in the midst of it it will be to high of a cost and you will want to turn back. You need to look at the price tag! Yes there is trouble in the Christian life but it is nothing like the trouble of those who have no hope beyond this world! Oh there is difficulty in this life, but it is nothing like the difficulty that those who die apart from faith in Christ will face when they stand before God. Oh, the trouble that we face is fleeting! Ah, but the punishment of hell will be eternal! Oh, there is no comparison to the worth of gaining Christ! A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity without a cross will prove in the end a useless Christianity without a crown. Yes, there is a cross involved in following Christ. Yes, there is suffering and rejection. Yes, we must be ready to turn our back on every person and every desire in our pursuit of Jesus Christ - but it is more than worth it! It is more than worth it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Love's Last Letter

Christopher Love was a Presbyterian minister in London, England during the time of the English civil war. He was beheaded on August 22, 1651. The following letter is Mr. Love’s last letter to his wife on the day he suffered.


My most gracious Beloved,

I am now going from a prison to a palace: I have finished my work, and am now going to receive my wages. I am going to heaven, where are two of my children, and leaving you on earth, where there are three of my babes. These two above, need not my care; but the three below need thine. It comforts me to think, two of my children are in the bosom of Abraham, and three of them will be in the arms and care of such a tender and godly mother. I know you are a woman of sorrowful spirit, yet be comforted, though you sorrows be great for you husband going out of the world, yet your pains shall be the less in bringing your child into the world; you shall be a joyful mother, though you be a sad widow; God hath many mercies in store for you; the prayer of a dying husband for you, will not be lost. To my shame I speak it, I never prayed for you at liberty, as I have done in prison. I can write much, but I have few practical counsels to leave with you, viz.,

1. Keep under a sound, orthodox, soul searching ministry. Oh! There are many deceivers gone out into the world, but Christ’s sheep know His voice, and a stranger they will not follow. Attend any minister that teacheth the way of God in truth; and follow Solomon’s advice, Proverbs 19:27.

2. Bring up your children in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. The mother ought to be a teacher in the father’s absence, Proverbs 31:1, “The words that his mother taught him…” And Timothy was instructed by his grandmother, 1 Timothy 1:5.

3. Pray in your family daily, that yours may be in the number of the families who call upon God.

4. Labor for a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God, is of great price, 1 Peter 3:4.

5. Pour not on the comforts you want, but upon the mercies you have. Look rather at God’s ending in afflicting, than to the measure and degree of your affliction.

6. Labor to clear up your evidence for heaven when God takes from you the comfort of earth, so that as your sufferings do abound, your consolation in Christ may abound much more, 2 Corinthians 1:5. Though it be good to maintain a holy jealously of heart, yet it is still ill of you to cherish fears and doubts touching the truth of your graces. If ever I had confidence touching the grace of another, I have confidence of grace in you; as Peter said of Silvanus, I am persuaded that this is the grace of God wherein ye stand, 1 Peter 5:12.

7. O, my dear soul wherefore dost thou doubt, who heart has been laid upright, whose walking has been holy, &c. I could venture my soul this day in they soul’s stead, such a confidence I have in you.

8. When you find your heart secure, presumptuous and proud, then pour upon corruption more than grace: then look upon your grace without infirmities.

9. Study the covenant of grace, and merits of Christ, and be troubled if you can; you are interested in such a covenant that accepts purposes for performances, desires for deeds, sincerity for perfection, the righteousness of another, viz., that of Jesus Christ, as it were your own alone. Oh! My love! Rest thou in the love of God, the bosom of Christ.

10. Swallow up your will in the will of God. It is a bitter cup we are to drink, but it is the cup of our Father which has been put into our hands. When Paul was to suffer at Jerusalem, the Christians said, “The will of the Lord be done!” Oh! Say ye so, when I go to the Tower-Hill, “The will of the Lord be done!”

11. Rejoice in my joy. To mourn for me inordinately argues, that you either envy or suspect my happiness. The joy of the Lord is my strength; Oh! Let it be yours also! Dear wife, farewell: I will call thee wife no more: I shall see thy face no more: yet I am not much troubled, for now I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, to whom I shall be eternally married.

12. Refuse not to marry, when God offers you a fair opportunity; but be sure you marry in the Lord; and one of a good disposition, that he may not grieve you, but give you a comfortable livelihood in the world.

Farewell dear love, and again I say farewell. The Lord Jesus be with your spirit, the Maker of heaven and earth be a husband to you; and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ be a father to your children – so prays your dying,

Your most affectionate friend till death,
Christopher Love

The day of my glorification.
From the Tower of London, August 22, 1651

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

As An Angel Of Light!

"Watch Out Peter! Be Careful! That one almost got you!" Peter's eyes divert their focus and turn towards the waves. It was a stormy night that night, and Peter had never before walked on water. "Don't let that wave hit you Peter. Watch it! Watch it!" Peter turns and faces the wave head on. His companion continues, "If it does you'll surely sink". Fear begins to rise in his heart as the wind throws fistfuls of stinging sea spray into his eyes. With his attention now fully trained on the raging waters, Peter's companion cries out again. "Peter! Look down! Watch Out! You're sinking". Fear grips his heart. He can feel the cool fingers of water wrapping themselves around his ankles and pulling him below. Panic sets in. His earlier bravado has all but evaporated, sheer terror has now engulfed him. The elation of leaving his footprints on the surface of the deep is quickly swept away by the rising waters. He pauses, waiting for the voice of his companion who had been watching out for him, who had drawn his attention to the breaking waves. Nothing. Nothing but the howling silence of the wind. As he slowly sinks he turns back around. Back to where he was headed. His wide eyes lock upon a beacon of hope standing there amidst the rolling billows, the one who can save him. "Lord! Save Me!", Peter cries out. Immediately Jesus stretches forth his hand, and catches him.

I have been thinking over the account of Simon Peter walking upon the stormy sea, for it seems to be an accurate account of my own life of late. Faith turning to fear in the face of the stormy trials of life.

Peter's rebuke has been ringing in my own ears "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Oh Lord, I lost sight of you! I lost sight of your glorious face! My eyes and ears turned upon the trials of life. My attention was snatched away by this vanity fair. Oh Lord, I fell in with doubt because I lost sight of you! Please forgive me Lord!

Faith has its birth in looking to Christ and its death in looking away, and so it is that the enemy tries with such tenacity to distract a believer and draw his gaze onto something else... anything else but Christ.

One thing I have come to learn the hard way is that the enemy doesn't always prowl around (outwardly) like a roaring lion, though he is always one within. More often than not he will come to you as an angel of light. Full of trickery and deception, his subtle means of drawing your focus from Christ oftentimes come in seemingly innocent forms, and from the least likely places.

Take the story above for example: the enemy comes to Peter as an angel of light while he is walking on the water, and with the appearance of helpfulness veiled by a false concern about Peter's well being, he whispers in his ear: Careful Peter, watch out! Here comes a wave, watch it.

So subtle are his means at times, that before the believer knows it, he will find himself full of fear and overwhelmed by the approaching storm - without even realising that he has lost sight of Christ!

To my own shame I have found myself many times coming to the realising I have lost sight of Christ! Woken up to find fear in place of faith.

But praise God he is faithful!

Thank you Lord that when we call to you, you immediately reach out your hand and catch us from sliding completely beneath the waves!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bad Or Dead?

Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live!

- Ravi Zacharias

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Find a Good Church

Almost 25 questions that will save you a lot of Sundays!

Looking for a good church? Join the club. Church-shopping can be a long and painful process. To shorten your search, call the pastor of the church before you visit and ask the following questions. This might save you a lot of Sundays.

1. What is man's biggest problem, sin or self esteem?
Seeker sensitive and felt-needs churches focus on man’s hurts and problems. The Bible says that man’s biggest problem is sin.

2. What must a man do to inherit eternal life?
Repent and trust is the Biblical answer. If the word “repent” is never used, say, "Thank you."

3. How do you deliver the salvation message?
Ask the pastor to describe specifically what he says. Does he encourage people to simply say a prayer? Does he tell people to ask Jesus into their hearts? The salvation message should include: God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, God’s response (hell), God’s kindness (Jesus on a cross), man’s response (repentance and faith).

4. How hard is it to become a Christian?
The "formula" is simple (Repent & Believe), doing it is not. It is not easy to believe.

5. How often do you talk about sin, righteousness and judgment?
Balance is key. This should not be the only emphasis, but it should be a regular emphasis.

6. How seeker sensitive is your church?
It is o.k. for a church to be "seeker aware" but seeker sensitive means that they lean toward seekers and not the saved.

7. Who do you do church for, seekers or members?
"Both" is not acceptable. Church should be done for members and the unsaved are welcome to attend.

8. Do you dumb down your sermons?
If he says yes, he is probably not trying to wean his members from milk to meat. Answers like, "We try to make our sermons accessible to everyone" are sermons that are not meaty.

9. What is your mixture of topical vs. expository preaching?
Topical preaching is fine, but if a pastor never or rarely preaches expositionally (verse by verse), then you are going to be learning from the pastor and not God’s Word.

10. Do your sermons emphasize theology or are they just relevant?
Everyone should say their sermons are relevant, what you are looking for is if they teach theology.

11. Describe your youth programs.
If fun and games is the major (and usually first) emphasis, you have a youth program that is trying to compete with MTV.

12. Describe your evangelism programs.
Don’t just accept, "We have an evangelism committee." Dig. Are they serious about saving souls? And from what!

13. What church growth model do you follow?
Hopefully they don’t have one. Churches should be reaching out to the lost, but churches that are plugged into new church growth models tend to follow man’s modern ideas rather than the Bible.

14. How much do you give to missions and the hungry?
Again, this reveals the heart of the church. While most churches give to missions, many never consider the poor.

15. Do you believe the Bible contains no errors or contradictions?
No equivocation allowed here.

16. Do you believe in a literal 6 day creation?
Jesus did (Matt.19:4).

17. Do you believe in a literal hell and eternal punishment?
Jesus did (Matt.25).

19. When you distribute the Lord's Supper, do you emphasize the need to examine yourself?
Paul did (I Cor.11:27-32)

20. Can a person who is living in a persistent lifestyle of sin inherit eternal life?
Sinners can certainly be forgiven, but practicing sinners cannot inherit eternal life (I John3:8,9).

21. Does your church exercise church discipline?
Paul said we should (I Cor.5).

22. Do Sunday school teachers, nursery, and youth volunteers fill out an application to answer questions about their core beliefs and salvation, or are all volunteers accepted because of a lack of volunteers?

23.What are the essentials of the faith?
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Salvation through faith alone, the inerrancy of Scripture.

24. Do you have a cross in your sanctuary?
Many remove it because they fear it will turn off seekers. They should glory in the cross.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why Unbelievers Should Be Afraid!

Worldlings may well be afraid, for they have an angry God above them, a guilty conscience within them, and a yawning hell beneath them; but we who rest in Jesus are saved from all these through rich mercy.

- Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In The God Business

Each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is dragged away and enticed, and after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full grown gives birth to death!

Man's Problem: The Enticement.
He wants to rule his own life! He wants to be God! He wants to call the shots and make all the decisions - all of which are to this one end... the of pleasing self.

The Determination; The Conception.
Man decides I will be the God of my own life. He rebels against God and steals his own life away from His creator. He has gone into the God business for himself!

The Result: The Death.
Man is living in open rebellion towards God. In his heart he cries out to God, I am the god of my own life and You WILL bow down to me! You will let me have my way. You will let me make my own decisions. If you do not then I will make a god in my own image who will bow down to me.

How to determine if you are in the God business for yourself?

God is the standard of all Truth and Morality. All that He is, thinks and does is perfect in every way. He does not conform to a standard (as if there was an external standard above Him) but the standard, that is, the law, by definition, is Himself. This is also His will. His will is that all be in perfect conformity to Him.

We know that we are in the God business for ourselves when WE begin defining both truth and morality... When Truth and morality becomes relative to us, molded by our own corrupt imaginations and evil desires of the heart.

1. Is Truth relative to you?
2. Is Morality relative to you?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Limpet Christianity

On a recent camping trip we spent some time at the beach where I prised some limpets off the rocks for the kids to look at.

Limpets don't know much I'm sure, but one thing they do know how to do well is cling fast to that rock when you fail to get them off in the first go.

At the first sign of trouble they hold tight! Not to themselves, or each other, but to the rock. The immovable rock!

In the first chapter of James we read these encouraging words to the saints: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Just like the limpet, during times of trial, we are to cling to Christ with all our might. He is the immovable rock of our salvation! And we would do well to consider these trials a blessing as they drive us to press further into Christ - our rock, our fortress our shield!

During each storm, as we cling to Christ our Salvation, our faith grows as we see again and again that He has kept us soundly safe.

Sometimes faith is little more than a simple clinging to Christ; a sense of dependence and a willingness so to depend. When you are down at the seaside you will see limpets sticking to the rock. You walk with a soft tread up to the rock; you strike the mollusk a rapid blow with your walking-stick and off he comes. Try the next limpet in that way. You have given him warning; he heard the blow with which you struck his neighbor, and he clings with all his might. You will never get him off; not you! Strike, and strike again, but you may as soon break the rock. Our little friend, the limpet, does not know much, but he clings. He is not acquainted with the geological formation of the rock, but he clings. He can cling, and he has found something to cling to: this is all his stock of knowledge, and he uses it for his security and salvation. It is the limpet's life to cling to the rock, and it is the sinner's life to cling to Jesus. Thousands of God's people have no more faith than this; they know enough to cling to Jesus with all their heart and soul, and this suffices for present peace and eternal safety. Jesus Christ is to them a Saviour strong and mighty, a Rock immovable and immutable; they cling to him for dear life, and this clinging saves them. Reader, cannot you cling? Do so at once.

- Charles Spurgeon (All of Grace)