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Archive for December, 2014

Month in Review

December-2014-Calendar-Images-4

In December…

We celebrated my birthday at Red Robin.

We finished a series called “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God” by R.C. Sproul, Jr. in the adult Sunday School class. I recommend the book and DVD, available at Ligonier Ministries.

We attended Portland Christian Center’s Christmas musical for the first time, and absolutely loved it! If you get the chance, make sure you go.

We enjoyed a family dinner, celebrating birthdays, at Little Italy in Vancouver and had our “usual” table.

We went caroling after our Life Group’s Christmas potluck. It was somewhat spontaneous on our part, but completely orchestrated by God!

We celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ at a Christmas Eve service at Cross Creek Bible Church. The Seasonal Choir was outstanding (even though I’m part of it I think I can still make that statement), as were the four people who put on a skit that ran throughout the service.

We enjoyed time with both of our families on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

continued preaching through the Gospel of John (we’re up to chapter 3, verse 15). I’m amazed, even though I shouldn’t be, at the simultaneous simplicity and depth of John’s Gospel!

finished reading through the Bible (the New American Standard Bible) in one year. I hadn’t done it for several years, and am extremely glad I did it in 2014. It was easier than I remember (about 15 minutes per day). For those interested, I plan to do it again in 2015 – Lord willing!

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Bible-Calendar

Here’s a good resolution to make for the new year: read through the Bible!

You should do it for the following eight reasons (even though there are many more!):

  1. You’ll avoid falling into the trap of only reading your favorite passages. You need  all of the Bible, not just bits here and there. “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
  2. You need to understand the whole picture of the Bible, thus enabling you to better understand the parts. “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose (or counsel) of God” (Acts 20:27).
  3. You can never outgrow the Bible. “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word” (Ps 119:15-16).
  4. You’ll be better able to interpret Scripture. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
  5. You will develop a habit of being in the Word, and getting the Word into you.
  6. You’ll be spiritually nourished. Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4).
  7. You’ll be better equipped to minister to others – to strengthen and encourage them. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).
  8. You’ll glorify God (the best reason)!

How can you do it? Here are two links that will give a number of different plans. Pick the one that suits you and start on January 1st!

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Who was St. Nicholas?

Unknown

Kevin DeYoung answers the question, “Who was St. Nicholas?” The answer isn’t all that clear. You can read it here.

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bronze_serpent_jesus

I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 3:9-15. The following is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The response to regeneration (the new birth) is belief in Jesus Christ – the One who was lifted up for us.

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download

Why should we pray for God to give us our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), when several sentences earlier He said that our Father in heaven knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8)?

It’s natural for us to go to extremes on one side or the other, and this question is no exception. We may come to the conclusion that we don’t need to ask God to meet our needs daily because He already knows what those needs are, and besides that we see Him providing them already. But we need to avoid this kind of thinking and action.

Jesus isn’t contradicting Himself. Both statements are true. Yes, God knows everything, and yes, when we pray we should ask Him to provide us with everything we need.

Here’s why we should pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

  1. It reminds us of our dependence upon God. Prayer is an act of dependence. When we ask God to do a certain thing, it’s brought to our attention that we can’t do what we’re asking Him to do. If it’s going to happen, He’s going to have to do it. As we receive our daily bread, it shows us how much we depend upon Him.
  2. It increases our humility. As the Lord provides what we need day after day, we develop humility – the knowledge and understanding of who we are in relation to who God is. In other words, we know our place.
  3. It develops gratitude to God. When we ask for daily bread from God and receive it, we’re grateful and thankful. In a sense, we know who butters our bread and we’re grateful.
  4. It glorifies God because we’re obeying Him. God is made visible and put on display (which is what it means to glorify Him) every time we obey one of His commands. The ultimate reason we pray “give us this day our daily bread” is because God tells us to. God is glorified, too, when He provides and with what He provides for His children.
  5. It strengthens our faith and trust in God. When we pray for God’s provision and see Him provide, our faith and trust in Him grows. It becomes easier to ask and to trust when we have a reserve of positive experiences to draw upon.

For those reasons, and many others, God tells us to ask Him to give what we need every day, even though He knows we need it and He knows how and when He’ll answer it. He gives us the command for our good and our benefit – not for His.

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Crijn_Hendricksz

I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 3:1-8. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Because of our sinful nature, every one of us needs to be given new spiritual life – be born again – which is a sovereign, miraculous, and supernatural act of God.

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charles_spurgeon

What does Christ mean by showing to us His hands and feet? He means this: that suffering is absolutely necessary. Christ is the head, and His people are the members. If suffering could have been avoided, surely our glorious Head ought to have escaped; but inasmuch as He shows us His wounds, it is to tell us that we shall have wounds too.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon 

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