Obey God’s moral will; trust and accept His sovereign will; make wise and moral decisions that will glorify God, and trust Him for the results.
Archive for December, 2013
This morning I had the privilege of preaching a Christmas sermon called “O Come, Let Us Adore Him!” (well over half of which was simply the Scripture itself). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: We should adore and worship Jesus Christ the Lord because of who He is and what He’s done.
Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”
Do we believe that? Have we organized our life (and lifestyle) based on that piece of wisdom from God? We know it’s true, but it’s not that easy to live out. Just about everything in the world and all of our fallen nature tries to pull us in the direction of great wealth, silver, and gold. We seem to think that earthly wealth will give us the significance and the security we crave. Our deeper problem is that we conflate the two and equate great wealth, silver, and gold with a good name.
A good name is better because it can be developed and maintained whether riches are present or not.
May the Lord give us the eyes to see that a good name (good character – character that reflects His) is far better than riches. We’re so easily distracted by that which is shiny and new.
What are we telling people when we take them a meal? The Responsible Father blog’s piece called “Seven Messages in Meals” explores that question. Taking meals to those who are sick or bereaved is a simple yet very meaningful act. It’s a demonstration of God’s love and concern. You can read the post here.
I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 1:22 this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The mark of a Christian is sincere and fervent love from the heart.
I had the privilege and honor of baptizing four people last Sunday. I’m thankful that one of the benefits of being a pastor is being able to share in “milestone moments” in people’s lives, such as births, marriages, deaths, conversions to faith in Christ, and baptisms. I’m grateful that God has graciously allowed me these experiences.
Along with the preaching of God’s Word, communion, prayer, worship, and several others, baptism is a means of grace. “The means of grace are any activities within the fellowship of the church that God uses to give more grace to Christians,” according to Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, p. 950). In other words, God uses baptism, among other things, to encourage and strengthen His people on their journey with Him.
So, how does God use baptism to strengthen and encourage His people?
- The one who is baptized is encouraged and strengthened in their own faith. In the process of obeying the command to be baptized, commitment is strengthened and made more real.
- The gospel is proclaimed, certainly by the pastor as baptism is explained, and usually by those being baptized as they give their testimony of their conversion to faith in Jesus Christ.
- It reminds us of the meaning and symbolism of baptism. According to Romans 6:3-4, baptism is a picture of the reality of our union with Christ. We died with Christ. We were buried with Christ. We rose to newness of life with Christ. Going down into the water and coming back up out of it is an illustration of baptism’s meaning.
- We see our brothers and sisters in Christ obeying His command to be baptized. Their public obedience in this step of discipleship is encouraging to the rest of us. It’s encouraging when people seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33).
- We see that God is still at work saving and sanctifying people. God is still building His church and His kingdom; He’s still giving life to spiritually dead people; He hasn’t stopped drawing people to Himself; He’s still forgiving sins and changing hearts! Not only that, but He’s still transforming His people into the image of His Son (Rom 8:28-29)! God is still keeping His covenant promises. If that doesn’t encourage us, I don’t know what will.
- We see and hear that God uses different methods to draw people to Himself. As we hear the testimonies of those being baptized, we realize that the Lord doesn’t save us in the same way. There are important elements in each story that are the same in every testimony, but there are also some significant differences.
- For those who have been baptized, we’re reminded of our own baptism. We were raised to newness of life, too. Is our life new? Is it different?
- We’re reminded of what’s real and permanent (God and His kingdom) as opposed to what’s fading and temporary (this world and all it offers).
- We’re reminded that we’re not of this world – we don’t belong anymore and never will. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back!
I was encouraged and strengthened last Sunday by the baptism of my two brothers and two sisters in Christ!
Erik Raymond gives insight on how people move toward apostasy in this article – “The Road to Apostasy.”
Al Mohler provides a thoughtful treatment of Nelson Mandela in his article called “Nelson Mandel and the Ironies of History.”
Joel Belz of World Magazine recently found a previously lost interview with theologian J.I. Packer. You can read it here.
Joe Holland expatiates on Christmas carols in his article “My Favorite and Most Hated Christmas Carols.”