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Archive for the ‘providence’ Category

Steinberg New Yorker

Politicians have a way of disrespecting much of the American voting public. They sometimes refer to everything outside of the New York-Washington, D.C.-Boston-Los Angeles bubble as “flyover country.” In other words, the parts of the country you fly over when you’re going to the “important” places. They don’t realize what they’re missing.

As bad as that is, those of us who love God’s Word can do the same thing by the way we treat books of the Bible. If we’re not paying attention, we can look at the very beginning of a number of books – the greeting – as flyover country. We skip it in order to get to “the good stuff.” If we do that, though, we miss out on some very important truths.

Philippians 1:1-2 should not be ignored or rushed over in our haste. Paul writes, “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Much could be written about these two verses, but I’ll limit myself to a thought from verse 1. Paul says that as Christians, we are simultaneously “in Christ Jesus” and “in Philippi.” 

Through faith in Christ alone for our salvation, we are united with Christ. We are in Him and He is in us. By God’s grace and mercy, we’ve been brought into a living and legal relationship with Jesus and we share in the redemption He accomplished and all of His blessings. Union with Christ is the basis from which our election, calling, regeneration, repentance, faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification take place. We are “tied” to Christ in such a way that we’ll never be untied.

At the same time, we are in the world – “in Philippi,” so to speak. God didn’t remove us from this world the moment we repented and believed the gospel, did He? If He did, you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t be writing it, either! We’re “in Christ,” but we’re not yet in heaven. God has given us a job to do as long as we’re living in this world – to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever (1 Cor. 10:31 and Question and Answer #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism). We’ve been called to make Him visible, put Him on display, and reflect Him wherever He’s placed us. He has set us apart (the meaning of “saint”) to serve Him.

The Lord determines who we are (united with Christ), where we live (our particular place in this world), and what we’re supposed to do (glorify Him in all things). It was true for the Christians in Philippi and it’s true for us, too.

There is no “flyover country.” If only we, and the politicians, would realize it. We don’t know what we’re missing!

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This morning, I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga of Southwest Hills Baptist Church preach on John 16:1-15 (“Preparing for the Coming Opposition – Part 2”). Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: During the opposition that is sure to come, the Lord Jesus keeps us from stumbling through truth (His Word) and by the work of His Holy Spirit.

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I had the privilege this morning of listening Dr. Keith Palmer, a guest speaker at Southwest Hills Baptist Church, preach on Psalm 43 (“Quieting the Disquieted Soul”). Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Peace doesn’t come when our circumstances change, but rather when we see Jesus as our exceeding joy.

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This morning, I had the privilege of listening to Pastor Mark Campbell of Laurel Community Church preach on Genesis 29:1-35. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: God uses us, in spite of our sin, to accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.

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The lyrics to William Cowper’s great hymn were needed words this morning. They were a good reminder for me.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Philippians 1:12-14. What follows is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The gospel advances because of suffering – non-believers hear the gospel and believers are encouraged and strengthened.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on Acts 16:6-40 as I begin a new series in the book of Philippians. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: In the beginning of the church in Philippi, the sovereignty of God is pervasive and undeniable.

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