Monthly Archives: July 2013

A BETTER WAY

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The world increasing looks to medications as the means for making life better. There are good reasons to use medications. But THE answer to our burdens and problems never ceases to be Christ who died and rose again for us.

May we never fall into the false hope of using pills (or any other substitute) for the unfailing hope we have in Christ who came for us. When you are at your wits end, look to the cross not in a bottle.

GOD KNOWS

The truth is we don’t really know what is about to hit us. But God is never surprised.

Part of the beauty and rest in following Christ is that we don’t have to know what is next or how to resolve it. God has that in hand. Our task is essentially to always follow His agenda and He will not only “make our paths straight”, He will make all things right.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.29.13

“It’s Good to Be Godly” 

1 Timothy 4:1-10

What is Godliness? 

It is to live by those qualities which reflect God’s heart   

The church should be clear about godliness (vs 1-5)

The church should value godliness (vs 6-10)

As Christians godliness should be an accurate description of who we are     

And it should be the dominate motivation for how we approach life

People have confused ideas about what leads to godliness

Chapter 1:  people wrongly thought their religious debating led to godliness

Chapter 4: people thought their rules and restrictions led to godliness

Let’s clarify what it means to pursue godliness

Godliness is being shaped by God’s word without addition or subtraction

Often the world expects the Church to “catch up with the times”;

However, godliness is God’s standard; we don’t have the authority to subtract from God’s prescription for life

God’s word fits all times, it doesn’t change with them 

It is also wrong when Christians add to God’s prescription for life

Believers often struggle with this mistake; thinking that more rules equals more godliness 

However, we can never “out-godly” God; yet that’s what creating our own standards attempts to do

The answer to compromise is not supposedly higher standards, but to follow God’s word  with all our heart  

We need a healthy understanding of what God calls godly

Attention to detail does matter; this is the point of the Great Commandment

Godliness needs to be an accurate portrayal of God, not a caricature of him

The problem with either addition or subtraction to God’s standards is that it misdirects us

When it comes to God misdirection is hellish (v1)

This is because obedience to God’s standards is all that will survive

However, we do need to make some clarification about misdirection

There are differences among believers in secondary matters (church government, spiritual gifts, predestination or end time teaching)

There are two factors for determining which differences we can accept

#1  If it doesn’t confuse us concerning the content of gospel 

#2  If it doesn’t keep us from living in godliness 

Let’s strengthen how we value godliness

~ If you could have more of anything would it be godliness?

The world was perfect for as long as it citizens were godly

The only eternity worth wanting is where godliness reigns

This is because godliness is when we reflect God’s heart perfectly

Godliness is wise, good, satisfying, joyful and restful

Perhaps you are thinking, “I’m trying to be godly and it just brings turmoil”

The problem is not with godliness, but with the world which fights it

Our fleshly nature, Satan, and the world all oppose godliness

So yes, godliness can be a difficult path, but it is still wholly worth it

v8 “It holds promise for the present life” – when we keep God’s ways, He sustains us

v8  Also for the life to come” – godliness leads to where Jesus is

The pursuit of other things can have their place (v8)

But they must never become a replacement to the pursuit of godliness: “If I gain this, I will truly be happy”

And they should never be allowed to become a distraction in our pursuit of godliness: “I will give time to God after I do this”

If we are serious about godliness, we must work at it (v7)

We prepare for godliness through being nourished by the Word, which is God’s revealed truth (v6)

“Good doctrine” (v6) are the truths about God and what he values

“Words of faith” (v6) means we trust his word enough to live by it

A benefit of being in a small group at church is how it helps us fit God’s word to life

It really is good to be godly, because God is wholly good!

CRITICISM

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Charles Spurgeon wrote these words about responding to criticism and there is nothing I could add to improve it.

“Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.”

 Originally posted 2.25.11

LIVING WITH GREAT PURPOSE

My friend Ian McConnell who pastors Grace Church in Philadelphia, has written another excellent article on his Blue Collar Gospel blog.

This article entitled “Life is Mission”, hits right at the center of what we have been trying to make our perspective at Greentree, which is to live life according to God’s agenda. Or as was the theme of this year’s Mission Conference, “Live Life Sent”.

How full and meaningful life becomes when our routine tasks and existing relationships become opportunities for the gospel to live in and through us. Our life may remain ordinary and yet become extraordinary all at the same time! As Ian writes:

“When you view yourself as sent, the mission field expands and the significance of your ordinary black & white moments start to pop-out in missional color.  Loving God, loving others, and the maturing & multiplying of disciples increasingly becomes your ultimate agenda as you do your regular thing. This both simplifies and intensifies our view of mission.”

Ian ends this article with practical ways to alter the way we look at our daily routine. This alone can encourage you to live a God pleasing and eternity affecting life.

THE ROYAL BIRTH

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WHY DO WE GET IT BACKWARDS?

I think we can ALL relate.

We use up a lot of life’s time and our body’s energy worrying over things that either don’t happen or end up not as bad as we were expecting (worrying).

In contrast, we fail to use time and energy worshiping and praising God for the things that will happen! The many wondrous promises of God that are not only guaranteed to take place – they will all be far better than we could ever imagine.

Let’s work on reversing this mix up of worry and worship.

DID GOD KILL MY DOG?

A 12 year old asks a youth leader a question which was very big in their mind – “Did God kill my dog?” In trying to answer the question, the youth leader created further confusion and ended up stuck in a theological corner and couldn’t find his way out.

There are real answers to questions about God’s sovereignty (His rule over all that exists). Even though God’s sovereignty involves truths that we do not fully see or understand, we don’t need to sound like theological jello when answering hard questions about it.

And yet as Marc Cortez points out in this article on his Everyday Theology blog, we do need to be careful in answering the right questions clearly. I think you will find Marc’s thoughts to be clear and helpful as he describes “Three mistakes we make when talking about the sovereignty of God”.

WE NEVER KNOW

It is easy for us to think we are in control of a situation or that the stream of our life will keep flowing on has it always has up to now. But we are foolish to be either confident in our control or anesthetized by the ongoing flow of our days.

Only God is in control, and we cannot guarantee that the next moment will be spent on this earth.

Recently I read a brief and verified story that dramatically conveys these truths:

An Iranian hunter named Ali, tried to catch a snake alive by pressing the butt of his gun behind the snake’s head.  When struck by the butt of Ali’s gun, the snake instinctively coiled itself around the length of the gun. The snake’s tail pulled the trigger and shot Ali in the head. 

Ali’s day did not turn out as he had planned – and his tomorrow never arrived. However God was sovereign in it all, as He is in all your situations.

So who will you rely on? And who will you trust for your tomorrows – including the tomorrow of your eternity?!

 

 

PRECIOUS PROMISES

The  promises of God are grand thoughts which when held up, comfort our soul and encourage our faithfulness. Andrew Gray (1633-1656) reflected at length about God’s promises in his book “Great and Divine Promises”.

Known as the “youngest puritan”, Gray died of fever at age 22 after preaching just two years to his congregation in Glasgow, Scotland.

In his book, Gray lays out ways in which the promises of God are “exceedingly precious”. Some of his language is old fashioned, but his thoughts are fit for every age.

God’s promises are exceedingly precious . . .

1.   Because of the great price that was laid down for them, which was the blood of Christ.

2.   Because of the great things that are promised in them.

3.   Because of the great advantage afforded to a Christian who enjoys them.  They are the pencils that draw the (features) of Christ upon the soul.

4.   They are precious because of their close relationship with Jesus Christ, for what are the promises but streams and rivulets that flow from Him.   As Gray asked, “Can this fountain that is sweet in itself, send forth bitter waters?”

5.   Because they are the objects of faith, the precious mother of all graces.

6.   The promises guide and lead us to Christ, for there is not a single promise that does not cry out to us in a loud voice, “O, come to Christ!” and there is no access to Jesus but by a promise.

7.   The saints of all ages have found great sweetness and unspeakable delight in the promises.

8.   The saints have a high and matchless account of the promises and thereby commend them to us.  How can we doubt the preciousness of God’s promises when these arguments surround us like a cloud of witnesses?