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Archive for June, 2018

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastors Rick Elzinga and Joel Lundy preach a sermon called “What We Value: Generosity.” Here is a summary of their sermon in one sentence: We strive to be faithful stewards with the material resources God provides, being both generous and prudent, as well as serving Christians beyond our church membership.

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another superhero

How can we recognize pride in our lives? Dustin Benge gives us six signs:

~ You want to be well known or important (James 3:13-16).

~ You want to impress people (Luke 10:28-32).

~ You draw attention to yourself (Prov. 27:2).

~ You think you know it all (1 Cor. 8:1).

~ You desire recognition and praise (John 5:41-44).

~ You think you’re self-sufficient (Matt. 4:4).

Remember, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

 

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open-Bible

How do we know what’s right and wrong? How do we know that abortion is wrong? How do we know that all human beings have dignity, value, and worth? How do we know that there are two sexes – male and female – which are assigned to us by God at our conception? How do we know the true spiritual condition of mankind (lost, sinful, and fallen)? How do we know how we can be right with God?

There are a number of answers, and almost all of them are wrong. Human reason and logic can’t give us the answers. Neither can intuition, personal experience, or tradition. As Christians, we rely on revelation. God has revealed Himself to us and He has spoken to us in His Word. The reason we know anything, and can know anything, is because God has revealed it to us.

When we think about any issue or question, whether inside the church or not, our first question needs to be “What does the Scripture say?” In other words, we need to ask what God thinks about it. This ought to be our first instinct, not our last. God’s Word – what He has to say – is authoritative in every area of life. That instinct, however, is in short supply in today’s church. We seem to take our cues from just about any other source than God and His Word.

It ought not be so, as illustrated by the following two passages. The apostle Paul has been arguing in the early chapters of the book of Romans that everyone is sinful and, therefore, deserving of God’s wrath (1:18-3:20). He then proclaims that justification by faith alone is the answer to the question of how sinful man can be right with a holy God (3:21-31). In 4:1, he says, in effect, “What about Abraham? How was he justified?” In order to give his answer, he appeals to Scripture, when he says, “What does the Scripture say?” (4:3). A quotation from Genesis 15:6 follows: “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Paul cites Scripture to make his case and bring the discussion to an end – the matter is settled.

The second passage is Matthew 19:3-9. Some Pharisees challenged Jesus about whether or not a man could divorce his wife. Instead of quoting an influential rabbi or two, Jesus went straight to the Scripture to give the authoritative answer. He said, “Have you not read?” in verse 4. In other words, “What does the Scripture say?” The Lord Jesus asked this question many times during His ministry. He continually appealed to God’s Word as the final authority in all matters.

The church needs to remember and recover this crucial principle. We know what’s right and wrong, what’s true and false, because we read it in God’s Word – because God says so. There’s nothing wrong with believing and saying that. In fact, if we’re going to be faithful Christians, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

 

 

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Strengthen+Yourself

In First Samuel 30, David was distressed and discouraged. He had been anointed as King of Israel, but had yet to take the throne. He, and six hundred mighty men and their families, were on the run trying to escape the wrath of then-King Saul. David and his men had just suffered a terrible defeat which included their families being taken captive by the Philistines. You could say David had a very bad, horrible, awful couple of days.

David didn’t pull the blankets up over his head and hide out. “But,” says the Scripture, “David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Sam. 30:6). Yes, we’re commanded in Hebrews 3:13 to “encourage one another day after day,” (which is the same as strengthening). But there are times when we have to sit down and have a little talk with ourselves with the purpose of being strengthened and encouraged in the Lord.

We’ve all been distressed and discouraged. We’ve all been knocked off balance by different circumstances . When it happens, we need to do several things.

First, we need to remember who God is. We should remember and rehearse God’s character and attributes, as well as the fact that He doesn’t change. God was sovereign, patient, good, and holy before you were knocked off balance and will be during your current circumstances and will be after they change, too.

Second, we need to remind ourselves of God’s promises. What has He promised to do or be? Which of His promises to His people relate to your circumstances? If you can’t remember all of them, you can remember two: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose; for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:28-29); and “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” says God in Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; and Hebrews 13:5.

Third, remind yourself of how God has worked in your life. Remember what God has done in your life up to this point. Remember all the ways He’s provided for you and protected you and guided you. If He’s done it before, will He not do it again?

Fourth, commit yourself to trust God no matter what happens. Make a decision to trust God regardless of what may come. God is absolutely worthy of our trust!

Finally, remember Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. David looked forward to Christ as the Messiah who would come; we look back to Him as the Messiah who has come and will come again. Consider His life of perfect obedience lived in our place. Consider His sacrificial death for our sins as our substitute. Consider His victorious resurrection from the dead. In other words, consider Jesus as the One who reconciles us to the Father through faith in Him. As Hebrews 12:3 says, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

That’s how you strengthen yourself in the LORD your God!

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The Traditionalist Classic House Number TRN5-BL

Predestination is, and has been, a hot topic in the church.

In the Westminster Confession of Faith it’s defined as follows: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established (3.1).” In 3:2, the Confession states, “Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such circumstances.”

We see the doctrine of predestination not only mentioned, but taught explicitly, in a number of passages of God’s Word: Psalm 139:16; Acts 2:23; 4:27; 13:48; Romans 8:29-30; 9:23; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5, 11; 2:10.

Here are five good books on the subject of predestination and it’s narrower aspect, election:

  1. Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul (Tyndale, 1986). This is the most readable treatment of the doctrine available.
  2. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1932). This is the classic statement and defense of predestination and Calvinism as a whole.
  3. The Plan of Salvation by B.B. Warfield (Eerdman’s, 1942). A shorter treatment, but excellent nonetheless.
  4. The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23 by John Piper (Baker, 1983). If I’m not mistaken, this was Piper’s doctoral thesis.
  5. Chosen for Life: An Introductory Study of the Doctrine of Election by Sam Storms (Baker, 2000).

There are certainly more books that deal with predestination as it relates to salvation and also God’s providence in general, but any of these five would be good to start with, Enjoy!

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simple_world_maps_vector_578782

I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastors Rick Elzinga and Mitch Lamotte preach on “What We Value: Evangelism.” Here is a summary of their sermon in one sentence: We support preaching the gospel to all people, obeying the Creation Mandate and Great Commission, helping the hurting and struggling among us, and desire to partner with like-minded ministries and churches to further these ends.

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View-Before-2

Opening the refrigerator accomplishes several things: you find out what’s in it; you get something you need (or more likely, not something you actually need but simply something you want at that moment); and you can be reminded of something because of everything you have attached to the door.

We have at least four postcards from various missionaries attached to the door of our refrigerator. We put them there, instead of stacked on a shelf somewhere, to serve as a reminder to pray for them. We don’t always follow through on that, but that’s the idea.

Pray for missionaries you know and support (whether that support comes in the form of prayer, finances, both, or more) – they need it! In most cases, they’ve sacrificed much to serve the Lord, the work isn’t easy, and the results are often difficult to discern.

So then, how can you pray for your missionaries? Here are a few suggestions. Pray that they would:

  • Love God and others with everything they have and are.
  • Glorify God in every area of their lives.
  • Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Remain faithful to God and His Word.
  • Grow in their trust of God.
  • Be devoted to prayer.
  • Have a strong marriage and family life.
  • Avoid extremes in life and doctrine.
  • Pray for other missionaries and agencies.
  • Not be jealous or envious of other ministries or missionaries.
  • Not be proud.
  • Grow in humility.
  • Work hard and leave the results to God.

There are dozens of other things we could pray, but these are a good start.

One final thing: Make sure to let your missionaries know you’re praying for them and ask them how you can pray more specifically. They’ll appreciate it!

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