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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

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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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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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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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Theology of BC

There are plenty of misconceptions about what is called “biblical counseling.” “Take a Bible verse and call me in the morning,” “Everything comes down to your sin – repent of it and everything will be fine,” and “Stop taking your medication because it’s ultimately a spiritual problem,” are just a few of those misconceptions. Others aren’t even aware that an alternative to secular psychotherapy and counseling even exists. The sad part is that through misunderstanding and ignorance, a useful tool is not being utilized.

Heath Lambert, the Executive Director of The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, has done the church a tremendous favor by writing A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry. Biblical Counseling, which has existed as a discipline since the 1970’s, has specific theological underpinnings, which Lambert explains. (By the way, so does secular counseling.) He deals with the usual categories of theology (Scripture, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, man, sin, salvation, the church, etc.) and tells us how it relates to counseling someone using the Bible as the final authority. One of the most interesting aspect of the book are the case studies Lambert includes in most chapters, which adds “flesh and bones” to doctrine.

If you have questions about biblical counseling or have written it off in the past, please read this book. When you do, you will have read a clear presentation of biblical counseling and will know its theological foundation. You’ll have an informed opinion. If you’re committed to the practice and discipline of biblical counseling, please read this book. It’s more than a method or a strategy for counseling, it has a secure theological foundation faithful to Scripture, which is important to remember. If you’ve never heard of biblical counseling, please read this book. You’ll learn a lot about Biblical counseling, but even more about God and His Word!

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throne

I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on discipleship, which is one of the core values of the church. What follows is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: The church is committed to discipleship and each of us need to embrace it for ourselves and for others.

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This evening, I had the privilege of preaching on Psalm 11. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: When crisis comes (and it will), the righteous should trust God, be faithful, and be courageous for the glory of God.

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