Monthly Archives: September 2014

A GRAND EXPEDITION

It was a Grand Expedition!

In 1845, the Franklin Expedition set out to explore the Arctic and unreached areas of the Northwest Passage.

Captain John Franklin of the British Royal Navy was an experienced leader who had already been on three polar expeditions.

This expedition of 138 men went out with abundant fanfare and great hopes for success, because they were thought to be well led and fully prepared.

The team embarked on two ships carrying a library of over 2000 books,  a hand-organ playing fifty tunes, china place settings for officers and men, cut glass wine goblets, sterling silver flatware with the officer’s initials and family crests, button polishers, carpet slippers, backgammon boards and food to last 3 years.

They all died

The ships became trapped in the ice where temperatures routinely drop to minus 50 degrees. The men wore military uniforms – they did not have clothing for polar weather.

Their food was stored in tins sealed with lead that poisoned them. They tried to hunt game with their birding guns, which could not bring down large animals. Evidence was found that cannibalism took place. No one knows if murder preceded that.

It was a “noble enterprise” that miserably failed!

These were brave and committed men who thought they were prepared for what was ahead – yet their preparations were flawed and poorly prioritized. It is not that the leaders were fools, yet in the end it was a foolish enterprise.

How are you prepared for what lays ahead – both in life and in eternity?

Jesus said, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  He said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you’ (Luke 12:16-20)

Are you “dressed” in the clothes of your works?  The Bible says this will be insufficient for Heaven

A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16)

What are you feeding on – is it the sustaining truth of God’s word, or the flawed wisdom of this world which is poisoned by false priorities?

Their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord. They cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it (Ezekiel 7:19) 

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35)

The world has an abundant supply of people who call out for us to follow them and all will be well. But only Jesus Christ can lead us into eternal life!

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12)

Who are you following, and what expedition is your life on?

4 THINGS THAT DON’T HAPPEN

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WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND

Worship

This is a common topic for me to address whether it is in conversations, during preaching, on Twitter or in a Well-Rooted article.

This is because of the enormous impact that viewing myself as a worshipper has brought to my life.

My private focus on being a worshipper has impacted my public practice as a worshipper.

When we gather as a local church family to worship, it is a grand privilege and impactful blessing.

My interest in worship caused this article by Jason Helopolous, “One Truth That Changes Worship”, to jump out at me. The life changing truth as Jason calls it is this:

“Worship is not so much about what we receive, nor about what we give, rather, it is about being”

As important as worship is for us, we quite easily get side-tracked away from what our perspective should be. Jason’s article is helpful in identifying where our focus should be as we enter into this activity which is meant to be precious to God as well as to us.

 

PREACHING SCHEDULE & CHANGES

Earlier this month, I gave you this background on our new preaching series from the New Testament book of James.

I included a schedule of when each section would be covered so you can read along and pray through these portion of James as we go along.

However jury duty has jumbled up that schedule. I am in the midst of an estimated three weeks of this civic responsibility.

So here is the updated breakdown of how we will preach through James:

October 5    James 1:12-18 

October 12    James 1:19-27

October 19    James 2:1-13

October 26    James 2:14-26

November 2    James 3:1-12

November 9    James 3:13-18

November 16    James 4:1-12

November 23    James 4:13-17

November 30    James 5:1-6

December 7    James 5:7-12

December 14    James 5:13-20

And don’t forget that this Sunday, our preaching guest will be our good friend Tim Shorey from Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA

A SERIOUS NEW PROBLEM

Pornography is a horrible scourge on society

It is a vast problem afflicting millions of hearts (and homes)

And it is no longer just a problem for men!

Pornography is increasingly entrapping women

For women, pornography can often be focused on the written form rather than the visual forms of pornography that dominate among men. This is seen in the enormous (can we really call it) success of the “50 Shades” phenomenon.

But pornography in any form is dangerous and destructive.

Pornography is a gigantic lie that steals from and maims those snared by it. It’s a spreading evil that distorts people’s view of those around them as well as their love for God.

Aimee Byrd wrote this helpful article “50 Shades of Strange” to point out the self-deception many Christian woman have in regard to written forms of pornography.

This is an article worth reading for those who struggle with this sin and for those who want to be better to prepared to help those who are entrapped in it.

WHAT CONTROLS YOUR FAMILY’S SCHEDULE?

by Debbie Huber

Does Your Family’s Schedule Begin with God?

“If we see each day as comparable to a millennium in eternity, then each 24 hours is chock full of opportunities to invest in a thousand years’ worth of eternity. Each day God gives us the precious gift of hours to invest in the lives of others – investments which will have eternal repercussions for us and them.” ~Joni Eareckson Tada

As a family beginning a new school year we often have fresh starts with our schedule and our commitments. This is a great time to begin or renew your family’s commitments to grow in love for God and neighbor.

Unfortunately, it is easy for the variety of activities and the busy schedules of families to squeeze out family time with the Lord and with each other.

We are often looking at our schedule from the wrong perspective, carving out what is left of our time for God, rather than beginning with God.

When we are a good steward of all of our resources, including our time, we give to God first, not out of what is leftover.  Remember, it is all His anyway, even the time!

A few suggestions to help shape your family’s schedule:

Begin with deciding when is best for your family to read the Bible and pray together and then plan bedtimes, when to wake up, or when to have meals accordingly.  This may mean setting the alarm a little earlier or reworking the breakfast time.

Begin with worshiping together as a family in church and then plan other weekend activities that will not conflict. You make a strong example when you do not compromise.  There may be short term disappointment, but show to your family that it is not out of duty but out of a love for God and His church.

Begin with serving others over our own wants and desires.  As Joni Eareckson Tada said, “Each day God gives us the precious gift of hours to invest in the lives of others – investments which will have eternal repercussions for us and them.”

Begin with family time over use of technology.

Model to your family that you seek to begin with God in planning your finances, in the use of your home, in hospitality to others, in your job, and in all of life.  We will fail at times but your family will see the sincerity of your dependence on God and that you seek His forgiveness and help.

There will still be days of very busy hectic schedules, but let the other things get squeezed out over your time with The Lord.  As you begin you day, ask God that He will use the time He gives you for His good purposes.

Don’t carve out time for God, begin with it.

WISE ENOUGH?

Romans 16:27 describes God as “the only wise God”

. . . God is not simply wiser,

. . . or the wisest,

. . . He alone is wise!

  If God is not “alone” wise, we can justify looking elsewhere for the rest of wisdom

All wisdom begins with God, because God began everything (Proverbs 3:19). It is not possible to understand how life works apart from the wisdom of God (Proverbs 9:10). To reject God as the source of wisdom is to reject wisdom itself.

Although men knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools  Romans 1:21-22

But what about people who disregard God and yet appear to have wisdom and prosper by it?  We need to ask what standard we are using to measure their wisdom and prosperity. Whatever shrewdness they have will eventually fail. When they leave this world their wisdom will prove meaningless. Even now, whatever insights they have, are mixed with deception

We will never appreciate God’s wisdom unless we have an eternal perspective

This is one reason why the world doesn’t see wisdom in God’s ways. The great measure of wisdom today is what it produces in eternity, because eternity is obviously most of our life. Our lifetime on earth last less than a single beat of a hummingbird’s wing compared to our life to come

People around us may have more knowledge than you, but the truth of the gospel makes us wiser than the world’s most brilliant stars. The proof is that the world’s wisdom never brings people closer to God. Yet even with a limited mind, we can have life forever with Jesus!

Nothing will protect us more than the truth found in God’s word. If we live by God’s wisdom, we don’t have to figure everything out. We may not know how God’s wisdom will always work, but we are confident God does. What rest and peace we have, when our life is focused on trust and obey

Applying God’s wisdom will benefit every aspect of life, because God’s wisdom designed how every aspect of life works

Applying God’s wisdom will protect us from the brokenness of foolish decisions. Life has its share of burdens, why add to them by ignoring God’s word

Applying God’s wisdom will bring fulfillment in every area we use it, because we are bringing perfect and eternal truth into our life

Applying God’s wisdom will give us peace of mind even when we are surrounded uncertainties, because God is never uncertain

We all follow someone’s wisdom – whose wisdom will it be?

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.15.14

Wisdom for Every Struggle                     

James 1:5-11

We need wisdom, because life is filled with trials

The use of the word “lack(ing)” in vs 4 and v5 show us James is continuing his subject of how we “meet trials”

We need wisdom to have a biblical perspective for our trials

We need wisdom to take biblical steps in our trials

1st Encouragement:  God has all the wisdom we need

God is not merely wiser or the wisest, he is the “only wise God” (Romans 16:27)

All wisdom begins with God, because he began all things

People who are not impressed with God’s wisdom, are living in disregard of eternity

2nd Encouragement: God gives generously  

The word here for generous means more than abundance; it implies God’s ‘careful attention’

God gives out of his complete wisdom and his deep love for us

3rd Encouragement: God gives without reproach

God doesn’t belittle us for needing so much wisdom, or for needing it so often

How we ask for wisdom is essential (v6)

We are to “ask in faith”

In chapter 2, James tells us faith is belief that takes action (2:17-19)

To ask in faith means we believe God has the wisdom we need AND we act according to wisdom he gives

Who is this ‘doubter’ that James warns against?

It is not everyone who ever struggles with a doubt

The word pictures show that doubt is the course of their life (vs 6-8)

They have no root in God or his word.

They doubt God is the source of all wisdom

In desperation they may ask for God’s help, but they don’t bow to his rule

This person’s request is not answered (v7), because they want relief, but not God

What is the prayer of faith that James commends?

1.  Prayer that God himself is enough for us; so we live that way

2.  Prayer that believes the gospel hasn’t exaggerated; so we live that way

3.  Prayer that trusts how God responds is trustworthy; so we live that way

Faith is strengthened by the practices of being a worshipper, and of preaching the gospel to ourselves

God answers our request through 3 branches of the same stream

1.  God’s Word – read it and be under its teaching   

2.  The Holy Spirit – respond to His convictions   

3.  God’s people – grow meaningful connections in your church

God’s wisdom is always appropriate even when not it’s specific

We may not hear the precise details we want, but God always gives us the attitude, perspective, and priorities we need

Wisdom in trials includes our view of a blessed life (v 9-11)

The context of the “lowly” brother in v9, is his financial and social status

Our financial and social status is a major category in the ‘trials of life’

James wants us to think about our ‘status’ with a biblical perspective

1.  If your heart is burdened by what you don’t have – look again

Your position before God is beloved child and heir with Christ

Your possessions are the gospel, the Holy Spirit and a new life

Your experiences will include all that the new Heaven and new Earth can offer

2.  If you have an abundance of material blessing – look clearly!

Your greatest blessing is what was taken from you:  sin and judgment

Your hope is in what you could never obtain yourself

But, James doesn’t let it go; he keeps pressing the point (vs 10-11)

We struggle to prosper and still keep a dynamic biblical perspective

James reminds us eventually all we will have left is our soul standing before God

We need wisdom in how we respond to trials and in how we live in prosperity

If we are not living in love and submission to God – we don’t have wisdom

DO YOU BELIEVE?

A small number of people deny that God exists

This denial is portrayed as an intellectual issue, but in truth it is a heart issue, involving pride and the exaltation of man

A far greater number of people deny the revealed truth of God

They have no qualms about God’s existence and when loved ones die, they are quick to claim a belief in Heaven; but they make no attempt to live under God’s Word

These individuals like to believe that God has either given or will accept a variety of truth bearing pathways. This protects them from feeling obligated to be held accountable to a specific truth which calls them to obedience

This category is by far the largest, at least in our nation. We are supposedly a “God fearing” people (an old fashioned designation), or a “people of faith” (a phrase which is more palatable to modern sensibilities).

Americans don’t deny God’s existence; they just want to define Him on their own. People reject God’s Word, because it removes our right to self-rule and it confronts us with absolutes

Then there are Christians, who believe in God AND his infallible Word

We own multiple copies of the Bible; we applaud pastors who forcefully declare its power; and we have plaques with favorite sentiments from it in our homes

Yet, at times true Christians act like “practical atheists”. What I mean is that we proclaim God’s existence, but neglect to live as if he is as real as we say. We consider ourselves to be “Bible believing” Christians, yet don’t want to get too carried away in what the Bible has to say

Here are a few questions to consider in regard to how much atheism hides in our life:

Do you believe God is always present – but spend little time getting to know him?

Do you believe God’s Word is unfailing – yet listen to and follow unbiblical counsel?

Do you believe God is holy – but think he will ignore your sin?

Do you believe God forgives sin – but think he is holding your sin against you?

Do you believe God’s strength and wisdom are infinite – but keep trying to fix life yourself?

Do you believe God is perfect – but complain that he has failed you, or that his ways are impractical?

Do you believe God is Lord of all – but still want to rule over what is “yours?”

Let us put our money where our mouth is – and live in a way that shows we really are “believers”.  Let us show that we believe God is always present with us. Let us show that we believe his word is a reflection of his perfect character and a demonstration of his complete wisdom.

 

R

I WANT MORE!

The wonderful news is that we can have more!

But we have to look where more actually lives.

Paul Tripp takes us to that place in this outstanding book.

The full title of this book is “A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You”.

This is my favorite book by Paul Tripp. I have read it a few times and always find it freshly encouraging and challenging.

Paul Tripp shows how living for our own kingdom is in reality narrowing our life to something meager and small.

The meagerness and smallness of it becomes increasing apparent as we discover the magnitude and eternal grandeur of the kingdom God invites us to live for.

“A Quest for More” is one of my most highly recommend books.