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Archive for June, 2016

“If the world hates you, know that it hated Me first” (Jesus in John 15:18).

Commenting on this verse, J.C. Ryle says that “true Christians must expect to meet in this world – hatred and persecution.” He further added:

Facts, painful facts in every age, supply abundant proof that our Lord’s warning was not without cause. Persecution was the lot of the Apostles and their companions wherever they went. Not more than one or two of them died quietly in his bed. Persecution has been the lot of true believers throughout the eighteen centuries  of history. The doings of Roman Emperors and Roman Popes, the Spanish Inquisition, the martyrdoms of Queen Mary’s reign, all tell the same story. Persecution os the lot of all really godly people at this very day. Ridicule, mockery, slander, misrepresentations still show the feeling of unconverted people against the true Christian. As it was in Paul’s day, so it is now. In public and in private, at school and at college, at home and abroad, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Mere churchmanship and outward profession are a cheap religion, of course, and cost a man nothing. But real vital Christianity will always bring with it a cross.

To know and understand these things is of the utmost importance to our comfort. Nothing is so mischevious as the habit of indulging false expectations. Let us realize that human nature never changes, that the “carnal mind is enmity against God,” and against God’s image in His people. Let us settle it in our minds that no holiness of life or consistency of conduct will ever prevent wicked people hating the servants of Christ, just as they hated their blameless Master. Let us remember these things, and then we shall not be disappointed.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 15:18-27. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: In spite of the world’s hatred, we are obligated to bear witness to Him as the Holy Spirit empowers us.

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“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

R.C. Sproul’s children’s book The Lightlings begins with little Charlie’s question, “Why am I afraid of the dark?” What follows is a story that illustrates the Bible-wide theme of light and darkness.  Sproul follows this theme from creation to the fall to redemption through Christ to the consummation of all things. At one point in the story, Grandpa (the storyteller in all of Sproul’s books) says, “You see, Charlie, we’re afraid of the dark because we were made to live in the light.” How true!

As with all of his children’s books, there is a useful question and answer study guide included. I heartily recommend it for both kids and adults.

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Unknown

Little Ella wonders why medicine that’s supposed to help you get better tastes so bad. Her grandpa tells her the story of a wise King who put a beautiful fountain at the center of a park in the city. He told the people not to drink from it, but they believed his archenemy and drank. The results were disastrous. The King then sent his son, the Prince, to drink a cup of poison which would heal his subjects. That’s the premise of The Prince’s Poison Cup, a book by R.C. Sproul designed for children (but appropriate for adults, too).

The story illustrates the amazing truth that Jesus drank the cup of His Father’s wrath against sinners. It tasted terrible, but great good came from it! Jesus willing obedience to His Father – experiencing the Father’s wrath against sin being poured out upon Him – is beautifully told and illustrated (by Justin Gerrard).

The Prince’s Poison Cup includes questions and a study guide with all of the pertinent Scripture references. I heartily recommend it!

 

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You may not know it, but theologian R.C. Sprout doesn’t just write deep and meaningful books of theology, he also writes books for children – and very good ones at that!

The Donkey Who Carried a King is the story of Davey the donkey. He was the young donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem during the Triumphal Entry. From this story that was told to young Reilly by his Grandpa, Sproul teaches the importance of servanthood – Davey served the Lord by carrying Him that day, and the great truth that Jesus carried away the sins of His people when He died on the cross. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

A tremendous feature of this book is the study guide that’s included. This section helps you understand the story and apply the truths by giving the biblical basis and asking good questions.

I recommend it for children and adults. Tolle lege!

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I had the privilege of preaching on John 15:12-17 this morning. The following is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: “Love one another” is a command that is simple to understand, but very hard to put into practice.

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You Will Be Made to Care, by Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen, is a wake-up call to the church in the United States. As the subtitle says, there is a war on faith, family, and your (our) freedom to believe which has been going on for some time. It’s getting worse and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. As our culture becomes more secular – and aggressively secular – we need to be aware of what’s going on and how to respond.

Erickson and Blankschaen provide a number of examples of Christians who have been adversely affected by the “conform or else” spirit of the age, but don’t stop with simply providing those examples. They provide a plan of action for individuals, families, and churches.

If you’re not aware of what’s happening in the area of religious freedom, you should be. All of us will have to deal with it at some point. This book is a good introduction. If you are familiar with what’s happening, this book will be encouraging and provide steel for your resolve.

 

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 15:1-11. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The Lord Jesus Christ admonishes His disciples, “Abide in Me and bear much fruit.”

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When things don’t go the way we want them to in our lives, what is our response? Even as Christians, we question God’s plan (“Why isn’t God giving me what I asked for?” intimating that maybe, just maybe, He doesn’t know what He’s doing); question God’s goodness (“Maybe He isn’t who the Bible says He is,” or “If God was really good…”); and sometimes question His existence.

The problem, at its core, is we think God exists to make us happy. We have an image of what we think our life should look like: a nice family to grow up in, a good school to attend, a great job with unbelievable pay and benefits, a spouse we’ve always dreamed of, children who are both obedient and brilliant, a home that could be featured in House Beautiful, vacations to the most exotic places, no sickness or disease, and the list goes on. If those things, which obviously differ from person to person, don’t come to pass (for ourselves or others) we tend to blame God. We think He didn’t come through, or that He doesn’t love us or care about us, or maybe all of those things we’ve been taught about Him aren’t really true. As a result, we create an idol in our own image and call it “God.” We are sinful to the core, which this devolution of thinking proves.

The truth of the matter is that God’s “job,” if you will, is to make us – His people – holy. Paul tells the church in Rome, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:28-29). God causes all things to work together for good for His people. For what purpose? “To become conformed to the image of His Son.”  Therefore, God’s job is to make us like Jesus – who is holy – and He’ll use everything in our lives to accomplish that purpose.

Our image of what should happen in our own lives, or the lives of others, may not accomplish God’s good purpose for us – our holiness. The sovereign and loving God will do what is best for us. We can count on it!

God’s job is to make us holy, and in holiness we find our happiness.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on the topic of the gospel (“What is the Gospel?”). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The gospel -the good news that God is reconciling a people to Himself through the person and work of Jesus Christ – is to be believed, rehearsed, and proclaimed to everyone.

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