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Archive for June, 2018

weary

“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13)

Sometimes it’s tough to keep going, especially when you don’t see results. That’s true in life and ministry. We feel like we’re banging our head against a wall and we want to quit. Besides that, it hurts!

Listen to Paul’s encouragement in Galatians 6:9: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” We should keep doing what’s good and right even if we fell like giving up because we’re not seeing any results. If we maintain our faithfulness the results – God’s results, not ours necessarily – will come at some time.

William Carey, called “the Father of Modern Missions,” labored for seven years in India before baptizing his first convert. Mary Drewery, in her biography of Carey, said, “The actual number of conversions directly attributable to him is pathetically small; the number indirectly attributable to him must be legion.”

Adinoram Judson, America’s first missionary, labored for seven years in Burma before seeing his first convert.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Nott spent twenty-two years laboring on the island of Tahiti as missionaries before Pomare II was baptized on May 16th, 1819.

Don’t lose heart and don’t grow weary as you continue to do good – as you plant, water, and tend. In God’s time you’ll reap.

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“Encourage one another daily.” (Hebrews 3:13)

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, “ (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 9-10).

The Christians in Thessalonica lived in such a way as to please God. They loved God and each other well. Paul commended them for it.

But notice something else he said: “Excel still more” on both counts. Paul is saying, “You’re living in such a way as to please God, but you can do even better,” and “You’re loving each other well, but you can do even better.”

They have room to improve, and so do we. None of us have arrived at a place where any further improvement is impossible. We can always do better in our walk with God. We can always please God more. We can always love God and others with more fervency and effectiveness than we do now. There’s always room “to excel still more.” Whatever we do for the Lord can always be improved upon. When we think we’ve arrived, we get stagnant, which doesn’t please the Lord at all.

It’s encouraging to know that we can improve (yes, it’s possible) and that God will give us the power of His Spirit to “excel still more.”

 

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Good Point!

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pruning

“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13)

You don’t have to be an expert in horticulture to know that trees, bushes, and shrubs have to be pruned if they’re going to flourish, grow, and increase in fruitfulness. If you just let them grow, they’ll actually produce less fruit as time goes by.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2). 

God the Father prunes His children and He uses various means to do it. It could be the loss of a job, a financial reversal, a health situation that continues to get worse, a problem in your marriage, a child who becomes a prodigal, persecution, failure, or simply a whole list of things that go wrong in the space of a day. Pruning doesn’t feel good. It hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot. We beg God to stop whatever is happening, but maybe we ought to think twice about that.

Take a closer look at what the Lord Jesus said: “Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it.” If you are in Christ (if you belong to Him, in other words), and are bearing fruit, the Father will prune you. He’ll cut some things off and cause some pain, but it’s because you’re being fruitful and not because you aren’t. That should be encouraging. Not only that, but He says the Father “prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” The purpose of God’s pruning is more fruit and more fruitfulness in the believer, not less. Pruning, even though painful, produces a greater level of fruitfulness. If God left us alone, we’d be less fruitful – but He doesn’t. That, too, should be encouraging.

Be encouraged! If you’re being pruned, you’re being fruitful and you’re going to become more fruitful in time. It’s God’s horticulture!

 

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Psalm 33-1 Sing To The Lord-brown

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Isaac Pauley preach on Psalm 33 as part of a series on what we value as a church. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: We desire that all aspects of our corporate worship services to be God-focused, not self-focused.

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Number 5

“The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like [f]well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

Here are a collection of recent articles I think are especially good.

Mark Bäuerlein of First Things explains the importance of reading out loud with your children. I’ve always been a proponent of reading out loud, so it’s good to have some backup. By the way, it should continue after the kids learn to read and after they’ve left home, too.

What is discernment? Sinclair Ferguson answers that question at the Ligonier blog. The practice of discernment seems to be rare in many parts of the church today.

What, if anything, does God owe us? According to Tim ChalliesHe does not owe us a happy ending. This is a hard truth, but we need to learn it. God doesn’t owe us answers, either. Sometimes He gives us happy endings and answers, but not always. We should trust Him no matter what.

Randy Alcorn has some concerns about Jesus Calling (a popular book by Sarah Young) and some thoughts on the sufficiency of Scripture. It’s well worth a read.

Five skeptics who want to shame your kids for being Christian – yes, they really exist, and Natasha Crain has written an excellent article on how to combat them. Good ammunition.

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“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Paul asked the Corinthian church that question in his first letter to them (1 Cor. 4:7). The apostle was writing, in this section of the letter, to correct the divisive spirit that had made its way into the church. Some were thinking of themselves as better than others and maybe even Paul himself.

Paul makes several points in verse 7. First, God gave the Corinthians everything they had. There wasn’t one thing they had that God didn’t give them – everything comes from His gracious hand. Second, they shouldn’t boast about what they have because it didn’t ultimately come from themselves.

These truths have meaning for us, too. Everything you and I have comes from God. What do we have that we did not receive? The question is rhetorical and the answer is a loud and clear “nothing!” In His common grace, God has given us air to breathe, water to drink, clothing and shelter, gifts, talents, and abilities, and everything else. It’s only by His mercy that we’re even alive. All of us should respond with gratitude and thankfulness to God. In His special grace, or saving grace, God opens our eyes and ears as well as removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh, and gives us the very faith we place in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. That saving grace didn’t come from us – it came from Him – therefore, we shouldn’t boast about it.

Knowing that God has given us everything we have motivates our praise, encourages humility, informs our stewardship, and drives our gratitude.

 

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