Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Loving Life

Don't forget to join us next Tuesday!!!

He Might Taste Death for Everyone

What an amazing verse, "But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9).  He "tasted death" not merely as an example so that we would not fear death, as Chrysostom stated, but rather He took the death that I justly deserve before a holy God.  John Calvin said it well,
By saying 'for everyone,' he means not only that Christ might be an example to others, as Chrysostom says, when he adduces the example of a physician taking the first taste of a bitter draught, that the patient may consent to drink it; he means rather that Christ died for us, and that by taking on Himself was was due to us, He redeemed us from the curse of death."
Death's sting, curse, and power have been destroyed by our Lord tasting death for us.  Look to Him today - rejoice in Him today.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May this Thanksgiving find you rejoicing in our Savior God with expressions similar to those of our Puritan forefathers.

"O my God,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou has created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

See more puritan prayers in the book The Valley of Vision.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Ten Questions to Ask to Turn a Conversation Toward the Gospel

By Don Whitney

Many Christians suffer with unnecessary fears about sharing their faith. Once they finally get a conversation turned to the subject of the Gospel, however, most believers find that they're able to manage quite well. Much of the time the biggest problem is simply moving a conversation from small talk to "big" talk, the biggest subject of all—the Gospel. Here's a list of questions that can help. Some of them aren't original with me, though I don't recall where years ago I first heard the ones I've borrowed. I've found that the last one opens more doors for the Gospel in the widest variety of situations.

  1. When you die, if God says to you, "Why should I let you into Heaven?", what would you say? Are you interested in what the Bible says about your answer?
  2. If you were to die tonight, where do you think you would spend eternity? Why? Are you interested in what the Bible says about this?
  3. Do you think much about spiritual things?
  4. How is God involved in your life?
  5. How important is your faith to you?
  6. What has been your most meaningful spiritual experience?
  7. Do you find that your religious heritage answers your questions about life?
  8. Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs? If what you believe were not true, would you want to know it? Well, the Bible says . . . .
  9. To you, who is Jesus?
  10. I often like to pray for people I meet; how can I pray for you?
Copyright © 2002 Donald S. Whitney.

Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the Center for Biblical Spirituality website is copyrighted by Donald S. Whitney. Permission granted to copy this material in its complete text only for not-for-profit use (sharing with a friend, church, school, Bible study, etc.) and including all copyright information. No portion of this website may be sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from Donald S. Whitney.

Visit Don's website at http://www.biblicalspirituality.org/

What the Church in America Needs

Check out The Gospel Coalition for more great resources.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day!  I just got back from the parade with my kids.  I found it difficult at times to hold back my tears as I saw and honored the men and women who drove by who had done such a service for our country.  I am truly thankful to our amazing Lord for the country that He has allowed me to live in.  Our government may not be perfect, but at the same time it has a lot to commend it.  Our freedoms did not come easily or peacefully and I truly want to express my gratitude for those who strive and have striven to protect this land.  I pray we use our freemdoms and prosperity to further the fame of the name of Jesus Christ in this world.  One day there will be a perfect "government" - when our Lord Jesus reigns visibly over all of creation.  Until that day we are called to occupy until He comes or calls us home.

Below is a short documentary from the History Channel on the story behind the date we use to honor our veterans, November 11.

Thank you veterans.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hebrews 2:1-4 - The Danger of Drifting Away

We hear lots of warning in life and many of them we don’t pay much attention to - cigarettes; STD’s; speed limits; wearing a helmet when cycling or on a motorcycle, etc… Many of these are ignored for various reasons and often have disastrous consequences.

In this post we are going to be reminded of a warning of a danger that is much more deadly than the ones we just mentioned. We are going to consider just how it is that we are going to keep from being another one of those who drifts away from salvation in Jesus Christ?

We’re looking at the book of Hebrews – and what we have seen so far is that God has spoken today through His Son Jesus and we have beheld the breath-taking superiority of Jesus Christ.

My goal from this text is to warn you of the danger of drifting away from God and to point you to your help.

Hebrews 2:1-4
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
 v. 1 - Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

We’re supposed to pay close attention to something – what is it? 1:1-2 – It is the message that God has spoken through His Son Jesus. God has given a message to us and we are supposed to pay attention to it.

Why is this message from Jesus such a big deal? Why is it a bigger deal than a message from someone else? The clue is in the word “Therefore.”

Because God has spoken through Jesus – Jesus who is absolutely superior to anything or anyone else, including the mighty angels of God.

He is the heir of all things, God created the world through Him, He is the radiance of the glory of God, He is the exact imprint of God’s nature, He upholds the universe by the very word of His power (vv. 2-3).

In other words, he is someone worth listening to.

What could happen if we don’t pay close attention to Him (v. 1)? We could drift away from that message – the message of the Gospel.

The word drift away has the idea of being in a ship and being carried past a safe anchorage by a current or the wind.

Here the idea is that we could drift away from the safe harbor of salvation in Jesus Christ if we don’t pay much closer attention to that message. And not just closer attention – much closer attention.

Come on, let’s be serious – is there really any danger of any of you reading this post drifting away from this message?!?

The answer is “Yes!” I’ve seen it over and over again. This is serious – this is deadly.

Look at verse 2 – For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution – Do you see what that’s saying?

God’s message in the past wasn’t always taken seriously – and think about the consequences.

God had sent his angels to bring His word to man (Exodus 23:20-23). He promised to bless them if the obeyed His voice – and to curse them if they disobeyed His voice.

Look at Deuteronomy 28 – especially verse 1 & verse 15. Did the blessing for obedienc and the cursing for disobedience happen to Israel? We know from history that it did (look at Judges 2:11-15).

God is serious. Disobedience has serious consequences. It receives the just penalty. 

And do you see what the writer of Hebrews is saying?

If they didn’t escape – how can we expect to (v. 3)??? And their message was a message given to them by angels – our message was given by the almighty, superior Son of God Himself.

You might be saying at this point, “Okay, Ryan, but I’ve trusted in Jesus as my Savior. I’m right with God.”

BUT – what does the text say? We are called to pay much closer attention. And the danger for us is that we’ll neglect this great salvation.

A common mentality for many people is, “I’ll get serious about God later.” And this is exactly what this idea of neglect has in mind. To neglect means “to pay no attention to” or “to be unconcerned about.”

The Hebrew Christians were not “rejecting” the Gospel – but were in danger of minimizing it’s influence in their lives. They would have said, “Yes, I’m a Christian” – but in reality it was not that big of a deal in their lives.

And remember just what verses 3 & 4 say about this Gospel message – it was given by Jesus Christ, it was spread by eye witnesses, and God Himself gave evidence upon evidence that it was true and extremely important.

This Gospel isn’t some little hidden or secret message. It’s not like the founder of this religion was out in the woods with his head in a bowl receiving some private revelation from “god.” It was big – it was out in the open – it was noticed by people in all levels of society.

Many have tried to disprove it through the years – but none have been ultimately successful – and by God’s grace some who spent years trying to disprove it have themselves come to faith in the Son of God.

But what about you? More than likely if you’re taking the time to read this post you are not actively rejecting the message of Jesus Christ – BUT – are you neglecting it? Are you fighting the temptations of your own desires and the very air of the culture around you to minimize the implications of the Gospel on your life?

I would challenge you to rehearse this Gospel every single day – PAY MUCH CLOSER ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD.

(GOD) Get up in the morning and remind yourself of the greatness and holiness of God.

That this God made everything that you can see w/your eyes, everything you can taste with your tongue, everything you touch or smell.  This is the God who has no evil – He is absolutely righteous in all He does and says.

(SIN) Remind yourself of your failure to honor God and obey His laws. Remind yourself that your tendency is to do the wrong thing and that you have no goodness of your own.

(CHRIST) Then remind yourself of this amazing God who sent His Son to be the payment for your sins. That God’s love and mercy led Him to send His Son to live the life we are unable to live, and that we refuse to live, and that He died on the cross taking the judgment that we deserve – and then was raised from the dead to give us new life.

(RESPONSE) And then repent afresh and trust in Christ. Acknowledge your need to live God’s way and not your own. Acknowledge your sinful rebellion and again place your trust in this Jesus who died paying the penalty for your sin and who rose from the dead.

Beloved – rehearse this every day. Pay much closer attention, lest you drift away.

Hebrews 1:4-14 - Will the Real Jesus Please Remain Seated?!?

Who is this Jesus? We saw in the last post that He is the Revealer, the Heir, the Creator, the Radiance of the Glory of God, the very Image of God, the Sustainer of the universe, Purifier of God’s people, and He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High. This is Jesus.

Hebrews 1:4-14 -
having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” 10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” 13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Who is Jesus? He is someone who is so much better than even mighty angels. Let’s just work our way through the text and see in what way He is so much better.

v. 4 – He has a more excellent name – i.e. “Son” – this denotes a more intimate family relationship

v. 5 – terms “Son” and “Father” are used repeatedly. This is quoted from Psalm 2 & 2 Samuel 7 - Jesus is the only one that could fulfill the promise to David that God would make a Son for Himself from the offspring of David. Solomon failed to keep the Law and so his kingdom did not last, but Jesus kept God’s law perfectly. He is the perfect Son for the perfect Father.

v. 6 – Jesus is said to be the “Firstborn” – this is the preeminent position in a family – receiving a double portion of the inheritance.

Also in v. 6 we see that these mighty angels - (who were even called “gods” in the OT – Job 1:6; Deut 32:43) - these mighty beings are called to worship Jesus the Son, because He is God. He is infinitely more excellent than they.

v. 7 – Angels are amazing – they beings mightily used by God.

vv. 8-9 – BUT not compared to the eternal, reigning, righteous, joyful King Jesus.

v. 10-12 – This is the Jesus that made everything and although this temporal creation will all wear out, He lives reigning forever and ever.

v. 13 – This is the Jesus who alone has the position of power and privilege at God’s right hand

v. 14 – The angels have a place – it is to serve believers – the ones inheriting salvation from God – yet how can you compare any angel or man to this Jesus the Son of God?!?!

This is who God in His word declare Jesus to be. And everyone believes this right? Let me just give you a quick comparison to a few other religious views of Jesus.

Islam – Muslim views of Jesus:
1. Jesus was created and not eternal
2. Jesus was merely a created human
3. Jesus is not the Lamb of God who was slain
4. Jesus is not the way of salvation for mankind – the five pillars of Islam are the way
5. Jesus was never crucified and therefore was not resurrected
6. Jesus cannot be worshipped
7. Jesus is simply another prophet of God
8. Jesus will die forty years after his return
9. Jesus is never said to love the world

Mormon views of Jesus:
1. Jesus is the literal son of god and his goddess wife – he was born through physical sexual relations with Mary.
2. Jesus is the brother of all spirits born in heaven – he is even the spirit brother of Lucifer
3. Jesus was married and had wives
4. Jesus is only a God – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods.
5. Jesus is not to be worshipped and is not called God – (prayer is never addressed to Jesus Christ – prayers are made in his name but are addressed to the “Heavenly Father” – and do not go through Jesus)

Jehovah’s Witness views of Jesus:
1. Jesus is the first creation – the only begotten Son of God – there is only one God in one person
2. Jesus was Michael the archangel who became a man
3. Jesus was only a perfect man, not God in the flesh
4. Jesus did not rise from the dead in a physical body – but only a spirit
5. Jesus was born again
6. Jesus did not die on a cross but on a stake
7. Jesus alone cannot save us but we need faith and good works
8. Jesus was not entrusted with the duty to oversee the creation of the earth, Satan was.

Are these views compatible with the biblical view of Jesus? No. Jesus is not these things and He is not merely your “buddy” and “pal” who helps you through tough times. He’s not your “homey” or your “home-boy”.

No – He is God of very God – and He is worthy of your adoration, trust, and submission. He is what your life is to be all about. And He is worthy of that.