Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Friendships - Proverbs, part 5

Why do you spend time with the friends you have? Think about this for a moment. Why?

None of us wants to be lonely. In fact we know from Scripture that God made us to be in relationship.

What did God say after He made Adam? “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So relationships are God’s idea. I mean think about it, when God saves us as individuals he saves us into something. What is that something? Answer: The church – the assembled/called out people of God. We are not saved to just go on our merry way all by ourselves, but rather we are called into a people, a family who are to seek to glorify God together.

So our relationships are important to God and they should be important to us.

Well let’s spend a bit of time gaining God’s wisdom for our lives in the area of friendships. Remember, this is God’s idea and it was meant for our good and His glory, so we would do well to listen to Him.

The Influence of Friends

First we are going to talk about the influence of friends. How much do you think your friendships influence you? Often our style of dress, the activities we engage in, the places we go, and the values we hold are being shaped by our relationships and we may not even realize it.

God knows that who we spend time with will influence us. Consider these texts:

Prov. 28:7 The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.

Prov. 29:3 He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

Prov. 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Prov. 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

In short – you will be influenced by who you spend time with. So, how should this affect how you choose friends?

Characteristics of Friends

Now, let’s think about characteristics of friends. What makes a good or bad friend?

Consider these verses:

Prov. 27:10a Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend.
They stick with you. This is not always easy. What about when you do something wrong or embarrassing, will they still be by your side. A good friend sticks with you.

Prov. 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
They forgive real offenses. Do friends sometimes do things wrong? Yes. A good friend will try to salvage a relationship and forgive.

Prov. 24:28 Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.
A good friend is honest. They won’t speak against you without a good reason.

Prov. 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
A good friend will get in your face when you need it. They’ll do what’s good for you, not merely tell you what you want to hear. I am right now reaching out to a friend who I’ve discovered is struggling with pornography. I could easily turn my head and ignore it but I care too much for him.

Prov. 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
A good friend gives good counsel. Think about your friendships, are the things your friends are telling you to do good or not?

Heb. 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Heb. 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

A good friend will point you away from the deceitfulness of sin, will point you to Christ, to living for what really matters.

The Goal of Friends

Lastly, let’s think about the goal of friends. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever stopped to consider that you should be intentional as a friend?  I think we usually just have friends because we enjoy being with them. But, is this really all it’s about? Is there no higher purpose?

Let’s back this up to the bigger picture. What is our goal supposed to be for everything in life? Answer: to glorify God! So, should your friendships be any different?

How can you glorify God in friendships? Look back at the verses from Hebrews. What do we see? Exhorting away from sin – stirring up to love and good deeds – meeting together with the purpose of pointing to Christ and His return.

What about you?

Are you intentional in your relationships? Or are you just there for what you can get out of it? Really think about this.

Maybe you need to repent concerning how you’ve been handling relationships. Probably most of you need this. You need to again see how you’ve not walked in God’s way – you have sinned against Him. You need to recognize this and turn from it and again look to the cross of Christ – this amazing God-man who took our sins upon Himself and took God’s wrath in our place and then He rose from the dead to give us new life.

You see, God cares about your relationships. He cares about how you behave in relationships. Will you seek to glorify Him?

We need to remember that the book of Proverbs was written to help us live our lives in a way that pleases God and is profitable to us. Don’t be a fool. Be wise in your relationships.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Little Food For Your Soul

"The life of every Christian is filled with enough inconsistencies to disprove the Christian faith every day if it were based on our changed lives. The history of the church is littered not only with heresies and schisms but with crusades, inquisitions, and the justification of atrocities in the name of Christ. Yet in all of this we can point away from ourselves, individually and collectively, to "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) In fact, it is only by repenting of our spiritual pride and casting ourselves ever anew on God's mercy in his Son that we can become servants rather than masters of our neighbors" ~Michael Horton

Monday, March 22, 2010

Belief Test - Answers

Here are the answers to the "Belief Test" that I posted the other day.  Take a look and see how you did.

1. Agree or Disagree: The sign of a justified person is to say, “God have mercy upon me a sinner.”
(AGREE – We know this is true because it is a quote from the lips of Jesus in Luke 18:13-14. This cry is from one who has seen His sin in light of the holiness of God and is crying out for mercy. Jesus stated that the tax collector who proclaimed these words went home justified. One might argue that this is not “the sign” but it would seem from Jesus words that the attitude that lead the man to utter these words would indicate one who is justified.  What justified person would not utter these words?!?)

2. Agree or Disagree: There is no one who is righteous, no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God, there is no one who does good.
(AGREE – These are the very words of Scripture found in Romans 3:10-12. We have to line up our understanding of mankind with the Word of God and not let our own impressions guide us.)

3. Agree or Disagree: We are saved by grace after all that we can do.
(DISAGREE – This is in no way scriptural but rather is a teaching of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. We are saved by grace – period. There is nothing we can do – Ephesians 2:8-9. The saved person is one who has seen his sinfulness and the provision of God in Jesus Christ and responds by God’s grace in repentance and faith.)

4. Agree or Disagree: The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
(AGREE – Again, this is from the Bible - Jeremiah 17:9.)

5. Agree or Disagree: Salvation is for those who do absolutely nothing to help save themselves but simply trust in a God who justifies wicked people.
(AGREE – This teaching is found in Romans 4:5. This is the good news for desperately sinful people like us. You and I have nothing to offer God.)

6. Agree or Disagree: A Christian is someone who is simultaneously a saint and a sinner.
(AGREE – The Apostle Paul understood himself to be both a saint and a sinner. Check these references - Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15. Not only was Paul declared righteous in God’s sight and therefore a “holy-one” but he understood his remaining sinfulness that resided in him and clearly saw that he was still a sinner. Again, this is the Gospel – the good news that I stand before God not on my own merit but on Christ’s merit imputed to me.)

7. Agree or Disagree: No one can come to Jesus unless enabled to do so by the Father.
(AGREE – Jesus stated this in John 6:44. Left to our own devices we would continue in rebellion to God. We are saved by grace.)

8. Agree or Disagree: God will not deny His grace to those who do what lies within their power.
(DISAGREE – this is a medieval Roman Catholic belief – older version of “God helps those who help themselves.” This adds human effort to the work of Christ. Christ is sufficient for the salvation of all who believe – Hebrews 7:25.)

9. Agree or Disagree: Salvation does not depend on man’s choice or effort but on God’s mercy.
(AGREE – This is found in Romans 9:16. We want to add something to our salvation but God’s Word does not allow it. Read all of Romans 9-11. I love the way Paul concludes this section in 11:33-36. These teachings are too far above us and therefore should lead us to praise the One of infinite glory.)

10. Agree or Disagree: Even our good works are sinful and repugnant to God.
(AGREE – Isaiah 64:6 – We have nothing in ourselves to offer God. In fact anything we do that is not out of faith is sin, Romans 14:23. It is only through faith, by the cleansing of the Spirit, that we can offer anything to God that is acceptable.)

It is important to know what you believe and also why you believe it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Snow

Yesterday was the first day of spring and everyone was out with shorts and T-shirts..what a difference one day makes.  Here are some pics from today.

Why is Charys eating his head?  Noel was a big help in building our snowman.
Noel and Indiana Snowman.  Noel wasn't too sure that she liked the snow blowing in her face - but she sure was cute.

Elijah was trying to catch the snow on his tongue while the boys constructed a snow fort.

The girls made a bug.

Here's the finished product - pretty creative.  Charys has a bug collection for a school project and she's going to add a picture of her big bug.

Well, it's been a fun day.  Right now we're inside nice and warm and watching some "The Walton's."  Quality entertainment.

Keep your eyes on Christ,


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Belief Test

What do you believe? Many Christians may know how to speak “Christianese” but do they really know what the Scriptures teach. Each of these statements below represents what some people believe. Test your knowledge here by telling me whether you agree or disagree with each of these statements. Try to answer them quickly and don’t get help from anyone else. Send me an email with your answers or post them in the comments section. I’ll post the answers next week.

1. Agree or Disagree: The sign of a justified person is to say, “God have mercy upon me a sinner.”

2. Agree or Disagree: There is no one who is righteous, no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God, there is no one who does good.

3. Agree or Disagree: We are saved by grace after all that we can do.

4. Agree or Disagree: The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

5. Agree or Disagree: Salvation is for those who do absolutely nothing to help save themselves but simply trust in a God who justifies wicked people.

6. Agree or Disagree: A Christian is someone who is simultaneously a saint and a sinner.

7. Agree or Disagree: No one can come to Jesus unless enabled to do so by the Father.

8. Agree or Disagree: God will not deny His grace to those who do what lies within their power.

9. Agree or Disagree: Salvation does not depend on man’s choice or effort but on God’s mercy.

10. Agree or Disagree: Even our good works are sinful and repugnant to God.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Church Victorious?

What is your church like?  Much of the modern church has been described as being 1,000 miles wide and an inch deep.  But what about you and your church?  This does not necessarily mean that your church has "great doctrine" or that you can quote the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  Rather, are you striving after Christ's Kingdom?  Is your church seeking to accomplish God's calling by relying on God's means in His power?

Take a few moments and consider this quote from Patrick Johnstone.  I think he may be on to something.

“We are being compelled to return to a much more biblical and radical position – that of being a minority in the world but not of it… The church deprived of political power is free from the burden of trying to use human power to dominate and influence the world… Our reference point is not territorial or church growth aggrandizement, but building a kingdom that is not of this world, yet which will fill the earth as a contrasting alternative society. We need to return to the concept of a pilgrim church, the church will be hated, rejected, despised, persecuted, yet be an incisive, decisive, victorious minority which one day soon, will be ready for its heavenly Bridegroom as the perfected Bride.”*

Wow - "hated, rejected, despised, persecuted" - these are difficult terms for us Americans to grapple with.  But again, take a moment to think on this.  Is this not what we see in the New Testament?  Were not the disciples building an "alternative society" that was often quite unpopular.  Maybe we need to spend a bit more time getting ready to meet our Bridegroom rather than building programs, and buildings, and lives that will not last.

When I was a teenager in rebellion my dad wrote something in the front of a Bible that he gave me that has continued to call me forward.  He said that it was written in the front of the chapel where he went to boarding school.  He wrote,

Only one life, twill soon be past;
Only what's done for Christ will last.

There is a lot of truth in that little rhyme.  Oh that our Lord would burn it deeply on my heart and mind.  He is returning.  He will reign supreme.  Don't waste your life on superficial pursuits.  "All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord; and shall glorify your name" (Psalm 86:9).

Christian, don't fight it.  God will be glorified.  Joyfully, willingly engage in what really matters and what will last.

With you in the fight,


*Patrick Johnstone, The Church is Bigger than You Think, 263.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spurgeon Biography in Rhyme

Here's a new twist for the "Prince of Preachers" - the hip hop life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon by Shai Linne.

Verse 1

Let me make this plain kids- God is the greatest

He never changes- His ways are blameless

For His own glory and at different stages

He raises up servants to make His name famous

I’ll highlight one particular servant for

The purpose of encouraging your worship to the Lord

Furthermore, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born

On the outskirts of London- 1834

His dad and his grandpa were both in the ministry

His mother was praying for his soul since his infancy

Naturally intelligent, rapidly developing

But lacking Jesus’ fellowship, that would be irrelevant

The God of his mother unknown

Though Christ was up in his home, the faith just wasn’t his own

The Lord answered prayer when at the age of 10

Young Charles became convinced of the wages of sin

For the next five years, the Spirit brought conviction

Terrors and affliction, aware of his condition

One Sunday morning though- the stormiest snow

Kept Charles from going in the church he’d normally go

Randomly stepped into a church

Heard the words “Look to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth”

And though only heaven knows the name of the preacher

That’s the day that Spurgeon became a believer

Verse 2

The Lord is so merciful, always so purposeful

Those whom He draws find His call irreversible

Immediately after Spurgeon’s conversion

Obediently, he was earnest to serve Him

The Lord poured His Spirit on Spurgeon abundantly

Anyone could see that he spoke with profundity

Extraordinary giftedness seen

Proclaiming God’s mysteries at the age of fifteen

In a place called Waterbeach graced with the sort of speech

That even made the old folks say, “This boy can preach!”

In fact he was so crafted after the Master

A Baptist church snatched him and asked him to pastor

At the time, He was seventeen years old

On fire for the King who redeemed his soul

People flocked from everywhere- it was quite a scene

Called to a church in London at the age of nineteen

He was more than ready- to his Lord he was dedicated

Even though he was never formally educated

If you would have scratched him, he would bleed Bible

A rich prayer life was his means of survival

Amount that he read was truly mind-blowing

Steeped in the writings of dudes like John Owen

And by God’s grace He fed the sheep new manna

In London met his wife, her name was Susannah

Verse 3

Behold the grace of God- stand to the side

The Spirit exalting the Lamb who has died

It can’t be denied- this man we describe

Was simply a tool in the hand of his God

To observe this servant’s extremely instructive

One word about Spurgeon is he was productive

Preached Jesus- no speakers- loudly he’d shout it

Each week packed houses of crowds in the thousands

His sermons were published- sixty-two volumes

He worked almost like he just knew he would die soon

Made mad disciples, passed on his knowledge

Established a school to train pastors in college

Sold out to the Lord Jehovah, his portion

Also he built two homes for the orphans

A monthly magazine, plus he wasn’t too busy

to write books- about a hundred and fifty

God’s grace in Spurgeon was manifest

But remember, the best man is a man at best

Yes, he struggled with depression- consistently sick, kid

Both he and Susannah physically afflicted

He experienced as a servant of Jesus

The power of God made perfect in weakness

Later on comes complications

His stands for orthodoxy got him shunned by his denomination

But through all the hardship and all the controversy

He never stopped relying on the sovereign God of mercy

And when he had finished pressing towards the goal

He entered into heaven at the age of fifty-seven

His life is a case of God’s grace effectively

At work in sinners to leave a great legacy

The proof is many years later in your speakers

We’re praising Jesus for raising up the "prince of preachers"

Why is God's God-Centeredness Good News?

Many of us have little problem believing that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  But what about God's chief end?  What is God all about?  What would you say if I said that God's chief end was to glorify God and enjoy himself forever?  Is this true?  Is this good news?  I think it is.

"God's first love is rooted in the value of his holy name, not the value of a sinful people.  And because it is, there is hope for the sinful people - since they are not the ground of their salvation, God's name is."*

Psalm 106:7-8 Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.  Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power.

1 John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Rejoice and be glad that the foundation of your salvation rests in the name of God and not in yourself.  In Him there is great hope for me and you.


*Taken from The Pleasures of God by John Piper

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Good Advice

A few months before his death at age twenty-nine in 1747, David Brainerd, the missionary to the Indians in New England, wrote to a young ministerial candidate, "Give yourself to prayer, to reading and meditation on divine truths: strive to penetrate to the bottom of them and never be content with a superficial knowledge."*

What great advice not only for a young ministerial candidate but for all of God's people.  How much more rich our lives would be, how much more the cause of Christ would advance, how much more glory would God receive if His children actually practiced this.

Striving along side you to be less content,


*Taken from The Pleasures of God by John Piper