Monthly Archives: September 2013

STANDING IN YOUR CORNER

We have an Accuser who is Satan. He tirelessly whispers failure into our ear. His arguments can seem very persuasive and he is good at covering over all the evidence to the contrary. We struggle with this to varying degrees, but we have all experienced Satan’s daggers of accusation.

How wonderful then that the Bible calls Jesus our Advocate!

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

Jesus stands by those who trust in him. He never leaves. He never wearies in defending us. He is bold and forceful in his love for us and commitment to us. If you have any doubts, look to the cross and remember the price he paid to be our Advocate.

In the Old Testament book of Zechariah, we see an example of our accuser and defending in action:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5)

I appreciated this article on Tim Challies blog earlier this month, which addresses the competing voices of the Accuser and the Advocate. Tim quickly gets to the heart of the matter and that should be a great and lasting encouragement to us!

NOT YET

I am really glad you are interested the Well Rooted Blog. It encourages me to know you would give the time to show up and read it. However, there is something you should make sure is taken care of first.

Have you spent time talking with God today? Has He heard words of worship and thanksgiving which are precious to Him? Have you committed yourself afresh today to obey and serve Him?

Until the most important part of your day is finished, hold off on watching the morning shows, catching up on Facebook, or reading my blog. If you have spent time in God’s word and in conversation with Him, welcome back!

ENEMIES ARE REAL

Some people have hurt us. Our wounds are real, and deep, and the pain still throbs.

Some people are not likeable. It’s not a matter of us being too picky, their behavior really is despicable.

There are people who have made themselves an enemy to us. So what are we to do?

Because God is aware of this reality and of your struggle, He has given us basic directions about what to do with these people. You probably already know it, but we still need reminders. And yes, it really is important, for your soul as well as theirs.

love-your-enemies

No exceptions!

WHO IS IN CHARGE?

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”  Matthew 6:24

Jesus knew what he was talking about; no one can serve two masters.  We may think we can pull off the balancing act for a little while.  But eventually we will have to choose a course which the other parts of our life will have to follow.

The great question for Christians is why would you want to divide your affections between two masters, when you can serve Christ with all that you are?  To the degree that Jesus does not have all of our heart, to that degree we will have wasted our life and sent ahead regrets to wait for us.  Pause and consider who Christ is and who we are (or whoever else we are following). To be blunt, it is foolish to choose a divided life, when the Lord over all has given us the privilege to have our all in His victorious camp.

We may not know what is ahead of us in this world, but there are some things we do, or at least should know:

There is no regret in following Christ

Following anyone or anything instead of Christ will end in eternal loss

No one will lead us with as much wisdom as Christ

No one can bless our service as richly – or as long as Christ

So the choice is yours.  You can serve Christ whole-heartedly, or you can be about as effective in your life as a two-headed turtle.  Is this decision really that hard to make?!

Originally posted 4.08.11

GOD DOESN’T HAVE HALF A PLAN

Unfinished bridge

God has plans. Big plans. Wonderful plans. And it will all be fully accomplished. I believe this, and if you are a Christ follower you probably can say you believe these things too.

Well, that is until the struggling and grimy parts of our life are involved. At that point we doubt God’s commitment and we half-heartedly believe in the bigness of God’s plans in and through us.

But God is consistent. Despite our real problem with inconsistency, God is in whole-heartedly. When the Holy Spirit comes in to apply the saving work of Christ, He arrives permanently and His resolve is greater than our weaknesses.

The reason we can get back up after falling (again), and the reason we can persevere through a lifetime of struggles is that God who is All wise and Almighty – is also All committed.

At the Blazing Center blog there are some good reflections in this article that should encourage and motivate us to take a confident step forward in Christ today.

God does not have half of a plan for us, so we should not be half-hearted workers for him. Our ability to be used in wonderful ways is not based upon our ability to carry the effort through. It is dependent on what God will do. If we are active for the gospel of Christ, we know we are involved in what has God’s heart!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.23.13

 “What Matters Most”               

1 Timothy 6:17-21

Some things are so big, they change how we look at life

Think how 9/11 immediately changed how we viewed friends and enemies. Consider how over time it has changed as a nation, our practices and perspectives

As Paul closes this letter, he presents Jesus as THE big thing  

He wants to awe and overwhelm us with amazement over Jesus Christ

His purpose is to help us see that Jesus should change how we view the rest of life

Paul does this by inserting a “song of adoration” into his closing words (vs 15-16)  

“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”

There are three qualities given about Jesus Christ

1.  He is Sovereign or ruler unlike anyone else

He is called the only sovereign, because all other authority is borrowed from him

The plans of every authority will give way to that of Christ

2.  He is immortal 

He alone has life in himself; he has no creator or beginning

The existence of every other being continually depends on him

3.  He dwells in unapproachable light

We cannot know him by our reflection, or fit him into our minds

His radiance is without flaw; he is beyond limitation or failure

This song closes with the responses Christ deserves

We are to “honor” him with the highest place in our hearts plans

We are to submit willingly to his “dominion” over our lives

This song strengthens the surrounding exhortations of chapter 6

1.  Who Christ is, encourages us to fight the good fight of faith (vs 11-12)

It encourages us to flee what keep us from God and pursue what draws near

It encourages us to trust Christ and use biblical truth as our response to every struggle

2.  Who Christ is encourages us to keep his commandments (vs 13-14)

Our obedience is always what God wants from us

Obedience reveals the extent of our love for God

Without obedience, we cannot share life with God

God is not content with compartmentalized obedience, he wants us to love him with “all our heart”

Christ who wants our obedience will “appear” (v14)

Our Lord will hold us accountable (this is a theme in many of Jesus parables)

This glorious Lord has blessings to make us glad we obeyed

3.  Who Christ is, helps the wealthy to keep perspective (vs 17-19)

We never have good reason for pride or arrogance

We don’t have life in ourselves; all blessings are forms of God’s grace

If our increase doesn’t humble us, pride is exerting itself in our hearts

Any wealth can be lost, or its gleam spoiled – so don’t rest in it

We always have good reason to keep our hope in Christ

Instead keep looking to the indestructible treasure and joy that lies ahead

The best perspective for wealth is how it enables us to serve Christ

Wealth as with any blessing of God is not meant for selfishness

This life is our season for sacrificial labor, for this is the only time Christ’s kingdom can grow

What do we see as the primary purpose for having increased blessing?

Is it to increase our pleasure, or to better serve Christ’s kingdom?

Our instincts tend to be for trinkets rather than for true treasure

We cannot take wealth with us, but we can send it ahead

4.  Who Christ is, leads us to treasure what he has given us (vs 20-21)

Our great treasure is the gospel is us

It is the truth that saves, transforms and sustains

It is the work of God that never stops preparing us for eternity with Him

It calls us to labor with God for the salvation of those who are lost as we were

What does it mean to guard this treasure?

We guard it against the distractions that waste our days

We guard it against any twisting of truth that dilute our days

Is Jesus great enough to change how you look at life?

What still needs to be affected by your knowing him?

 

 

 

AN UNWANTED GUEST

I acquired Shingles last week. It is painful and comes with an ugly, blistering rash. After a moment’s reflection I decided you would appreciate me not sharing a picture of my rash. So you will have to take my word for it that Shingles is an unwanted guest that can stay a couple weeks or several months.

According to the wisdom of the Internet, this affliction is usually for people over 60. I guess I’m just ahead of my time. The pain is not too bad as long as I keep on my my meds and don’t move. 

Moving provides new opportunities for various forms of pain to express themselves. Sometimes my body is sore, other times it alternates between a burning pain or an itchy crawly pain. Occasionally a shooting jolt sneaks in. At least the varying forms of pain make the day interesting.

But in the end it is one more pain, one more hassle and one more circumstance to slog through.

However, there is another way to look at it. My relationship with Shingles reminds me that this life will always be woven with difficult things. In other words, life in this world never gets better, not for very long. New problems will keep coming, our bodies will keep decaying, and those we love will keep leaving us. 

We have hope here and now, but it’s a hope that points us to a far better and eternal place. Every new hassle now reminds me not to cling tightly to here or now. It lifts my heart to meditate on the glories of a soon to come time when I will explore a new heaven and a new earth.

I “know” the joys ahead that God holds for for are immeasurably better than the joys I have now. Yet, I still find myself clinging to present joys and not being motivated by God’s future promise. This reality in me makes every reminder of present decay a good reminder.

The unwanted hassles that frequently invade our lives should serve as reminders that this is not our final home, this is not our final body and these are not our final circumstances.

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES

By Debbie Huber

Last weekend I participated in Servant Outreach Saturday (SOS) at Greentree Church. There were several groups going to different locations, from survey evangelism to nursing home outreach. I was a part of the neighborhood outreach where we walked through local neighborhoods handing out gift bags to demonstrate care for others because of the wonderful grace that God has lavished upon us. We met many welcoming neighbors and we even had the opportunity to pray for some.   My nephew, Jacob, was with me and he was full of enthusiasm to knock on the doors and meet the people.

After everyone reassembled back at the church we listened to each other share about our experiences. Everyone who participated was glad that they did. A recurring theme was how the children seemed to make it easier to meet others and even share the Gospel!  We heard how young Jessa explained to children her age how we are all sinners and we can’t be good enough to get into Heaven on our own so that is why Jesus came. We heard how other children were full of excitement to talk and pray with people in a nursing home.  There was more than one parent who said that their child talked them in to coming that day. What a joy it was to see parents and children work together to reach out to our community.

I would venture to say that many of the adults who were there were nervous to initiate conversations and bring up the Gospel to others. But when the children were with us they encouraged us, making it easier to speak to those we met because of their innocence and unencumbered belief in the Gospel. We tend to be fearful and worry that we won’t use the right language or not be thought of highly by the people we talk to.   The simplicity of the Gospel is something that we as adults can sometimes unnecessarily complicate.

The Gospel is the greatest thing we can give to others. It is not as complicated and scary as we make it. God is holy and we are sinners with no way of saving ourselves. But the good news is that Jesus loves us so much that he died to receive the punishment that we deserve for our sins and that he demonstrated victory over sin by his resurrection from the dead.

I, along with the other adults present that day, were encouraged and learned from these children.  The women who shared the Gospel with me 27 years ago may have been fearful but when God opened my heart to hear it, I didn’t hear something to be embarrassed about; I heard the most wonderful, joyous, life-changing news possible! I thank God that those women spoke those words to me. Why should I not want to share that life-changing truth with others?

ASPIRATIONS

fluoshop-wood-peg-minimal-bike-hook-2

Isaiah has become one of my favorite books in the Bible. I love its many word pictures that help us grasp spiritual truths more clearly. Recently one of Isaiah’s more obscure word pictures jumped out at me. In chapter 22, the Lord says about one of His servants;

“I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place”

Now this may not sound like much of a blessing or compliment to you, but think more about what is being communicated. To be “fastened” like a peg in a “secure place”, is to be made into someone who is found dependable by those around them. Dependability may not be flashy, but everyone wants dependability in others.

Those who are Christ followers should be the most dependable of people, because we have the most dependable God living and working in us. If we are not dependable, then we are not Christlike, neither are we “godly.”

The people in your life need you to be dependable. Your church needs you to be dependable. God wants you to be like Christ, so He wants you to be dependable. And be encouraged, because the Holy Spirit lives within us so we can be everything that God desires for us to be.

You probably did not wake up thinking, “I want to be a peg today.” So maybe we need to change our aspirations to something higher than being known and something better than being served. Let us take up the noble aspiration of being dependable.
Originally posted 3.02.11

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.16.13

Life is a battlefield and we are victorious!

1 Timothy 6:11-12

 As for you O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

 We are going to focus on the four actions given to us in vs 11-12

#1.  FLEE the battles that sin brings into our lives

There are struggles caused by not living fully for Christ

The ways of God are wise for a reason, they make our life and relationships healthier

Obedient believers still have struggles, but they are purposeful struggles

The immediate context of fleeing is materialism (vs 9-10)

Materialism is a life out of priority, so it makes life dysfunctional

We can say this about any pursuit without God (see Ecclesiastes 2)

What are paths we should “flee”?

  • Any form of sin
  • Doing the least we can for God
  • Having a critical spirit
  • Selfishness and always holding expectations for others

These courses create burdens and steal the joy and fruitfulness of God from us

#2.  PURSUE what brings you closer to God

The most effective way to “flee” is to “pursue”

This involves filling our heart with new pursuits, but even more it is filling our heart with them

Unless God has our heart, even good pursuits go astray

We are told to pursue the qualities that keep us rooted in Christ (v11)

We often think that aggressively pursuing God will add burden to our life

In reality, the pursuit of God is always the best gain (How can less of God be better?)

Two reflections will deepen these convictions:

(1)  Meditate on the person and works of Christ

(2)  Meditate on eternity (this is the only way to clearly see loss and gain)

#3.  FIGHT biblically

What we are fighting?

It is anything that keeps us from being faithful to God

Christ won the war for our soul, but every day we fight the battle for our heart

Who is our enemy?

Our battle is not against people, but spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12)

People are used against us, but that’s because they are also under attack (but don’t understand it)

Whether people are unbelievers or sinning Christians, they all need the gospel from us

Satan is our great enemy

He has strategies and plans set against us (2 Timothy 2:26)

Satan has accomplices (false teachers, the values of the world, and our sinful nature)

Satan’s chief weapon is deception (John 8:44 ‘he is the “father of lies”)

Satan cannot make us sin, so he deceives us in ways that are both blatant and subtle

Any thought that minimizes sin, or keeps us from being faithful, is a deception:

  • To focus on our rights instead of our responsibilities
  • To see only one side of sinful lives
  • To think we’re strong or worthless, instead of weak and valuable
  • To start with ourselves instead of God  
  • To value the temporal over the eternal

How does faith come into this fight? 

Truth is the answer to deception, and faith is to trust in the truths we believe

Biblical faith is to act on what God has said

Biblical faith builds life on biblical truth

We “fight the fight of faith” by responding to all struggles with biblical truth

  • Overwhelmed:  God is sufficient and cares for us, so we can praise him
  • Hurt:  God has forgiven us totally and forever, so we can give grace to others
  • Confounded:  All wisdom flows from God, so we should follow his word
  • Worn out:  God rules over our present and eternity, so we will rest in him

#4.  TAKE HOLD of the victory Christ has given us

Christ has risen, he is exalted, hell does tremble and eternity is ready

We don’t ‘fight’ to get or keep this victory, we live in it

The gospel holds us; so we can hold and use the truths of the gospel

If you’re not sure you have strength to hold on, know that God holds us first (Philippians 3:12)

Even if we let go, we are still being held

We never stop being victorious, even when we ignore that victory

The difference among mature and immature believers is how consistently we hold on

 Life is a battlefield, but we are victorious!