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In the Fullness of Time

If we want a full and abundant life, we should turn to the One who created it.
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Our Bridge to God

Jesus is the only one who can bridge the gap between our sin and God’s holiness.
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Whyte Family Devotion: A Prayer for the Nation and the World (05/23/17)

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Join us as we pray for the revival of the family, the revival of the church, and the awakening of the nation.

Posted in conversation, Image, Javis DeBerry, Pentecost, Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith, Ray Nagin, Times Picayune | Comments Off

Whyte Family Devotions: A Prayer for the Nation and the World (May 22, 2017)

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Join us in prayer for our families, the church, America, and the world.

Posted in conversation, Image, Javis DeBerry, Pentecost, Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith, Ray Nagin, Times Picayune | Comments Off

20 Truths from “Break Open the Sky”

Saving Our Faith from a Culture of Fear

What if our growing unease about truth and the symptoms we feel, whether mere anxiety or full on fear, is actually an invitation take a hard look at our faith? What if our fear, whether corporate or personal, is really an opportunity to reason together, to consider the state of our faith, to reflect on its nature, to sift through its presuppositions and explore its implications? What if truth has been knocking for some time—maybe for years—but ever more furiously now in these urgent times? (22)

Could it be that the message of Jesus has been so muted through the ages that it has left many of us bereft of the joy, peace, and blessing we set out to find? (34-35)

Jesus inaugurated something revolutionary back then and still offers it today. He presents a radically new and disconcerting version of faith, not to offend, but to jolt us sufficiently so that we will reconsider—radically reconsider—what is most important in life and how to live that out. Jesus's version of faith doesn't come naturally. it is hard won, but not by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, self-help style. It is a gift, but accepting it requires courage. It is available to those brave enough to accept God's invitation to take and eat with the confidence that he will neither slap their hands nor send them the bill. (37-38)

By conferring blessing upon those widely thought to be undeserving, Jesus put into motion an idea so revolutionary that today we are still seeking to understand it. He showed us that the reason for divine favor is not us but solely him. (45)

Accepting that we are loved for no other reason than the God of the universe loves us—it's in his very being and nature to do so—is the hardest thing ...

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12 Contrasts Between Apostolic Movements And Denominations

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book entitled “An Anthology Of Essays On The Apostolic.” These  generalizations  may or may not be true for particular denominations and apostolic movements: I. Apostolic Movements vs. Denominations 1. An apostolic movement is usually led by one strong visionary/A denomination is usually directed by a board. 2. […]

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Inadequate Representation

Lately, I have notice a particularly distasteful condemnation of God, Jesus, Christianity, and the people of God by those who would claim to have a more “enlightened” knowledge of how life really works. I think part of the problem is that many of these people are judging God, Jesus, and Christianity based on how the […]
Posted in Assignment, death, Pastoring, Three C's, Wilkinson | Comments Off

Evangelism and Movements: July CPLF Gathering

Church Planting Leadership Fellowship is open to denominational and network leaders of church planting.

For the past few years we have hosted a gathering of denomination and network church planting leaders from across North America to consider process and practices of church planting. We call this group the Church Planting Leadership Fellowship, and it’s a partnership between Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, NewChurches.com, and LifeWay Research.

This is a growing peer group, specifically focused on those who are leading church planting efforts in their denomination and/or network. It regularly features leaders who represent around 75% of all North American evangelical church planting in a given year.

In the past we have featured speakers like Tim Keller, Rick Warren, Linda Stanley, Neil Cole, Dhati Lewis, Leonce Crump, Derwin Gray, and many, many others. What makes this gathering so special, though, is not just the learning we get (though it’s pretty spectacular), but the opportunity for peers to sit down and learn from each other.

Our next gathering will be focused on Evangelism and Movements. In fact, this is one of the reasons Daniel Im and I recently wrote 1,000 Churches: How Past Movements Did It—And How Your Church Can, Too.

During this gathering – on July 25 & 26 in Wheaton, Illinois – we will discuss what it takes for your denomination or network to increase its evangelism efforts and create a movemental culture for planting and multiplication.

Here’s the lineup for this year:

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Embrace Your Purpose

At this very moment, you are running a race. You are running a race even if you are sitting on the bus reading these words on your phone, even if you are reading this to take a break from the drudgery of your work. Everywhere and at all times you are running the race of all races, the Christian life. The question is not if you are running but how. Are you running well or running poorly? Are you out for a leisurely jog, or are you sprinting hard with your eyes on the prize? Through the living Word, the Apostle Paul pleads with you, “Run to win! Run to win the prize!”

In this new series, I am calling men away from apathy toward a zealous pursuit of the imperishable prize, away from worthless habits toward godly disciplines, away from aimless wandering toward purposeful living. Each article will be centered on one imperative for winning this race. It is fitting that we begin with the matter of purpose, for only when you know your purpose will you be motivated to run this race and to run it with all the effort required to win it. Only then will you be able to share the joyful conviction of George Whitefield, who declared, “I am never better than when I am on the full stretch for God.” My friend, if you are going to run to win, if you are going to be on the full stretch for God, you must embrace your purpose.

The Purpose of Your Salvation

Why did God save you? Paul tells you exactly why: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14). It would take whole volumes of books to unpack all that Paul says here, but I will make just a few observations.

First, God saves you to sanctify you. God extends his saving mercy to you so he can undo the deep damage caused by your sin. In a moment he redeems you, and over a lifetime he purifies you, teaching you to hate and renounce whatever is ungodly and to love and pursue whatever is worthy. As you walk with Christ, you find a new longing to put to death those old deeds and the desires that motivated them and to bring to life new deeds born of purer desires (Colossians 3:1-17). This is called “sanctification,” the lifelong process of becoming holy. God saves you to sanctify you, to restore you to the life he intended for you before you gave yourself to sin.

Second, God saves and sanctifies you so you can do good to others. Your sanctification has a purpose: to make you “zealous for good works.” Good works are deeds that are done not first for your own good but for the good of others. You are called to put aside the natural selfishness that once controlled you and to put on the Christ-like selflessness that compels you to bless to others. You are to live as a good-works extremist, a man who will stop at nothing to be a blessing to others. “We are [God’s] workmanship,” says Paul, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Third, God does all things for his glory. God does not save you so he can make much of you, but so you can make much of him. The good deeds you do are not meant to make yourself look great but to make God look great. They stand as proof of the great change he has worked within you, for only by his grace can you turn your desires away from your own comfort, your own enrichment, your own fame. “Let your light shine before others,” says Jesus, “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Men, this is your purpose: to bring glory to God by doing good for others. This means your life is not first about you. You’re not the point of your existence or the hero of your salvation. You were created by God and for God. You were saved to bring glory to God by doing good to others. This is your purpose.

However, I suspect you already know most of this. The problem is you still struggle to find sufficient motivation to bring to your life the focused self-control that will enable you to run to win. So let’s turn back to Paul to see where he found the motivation to embrace this God-glorifying purpose.

Extraordinary Fervor

An athlete runs to receive a reward and to enjoy the fame and acclaim that come with it. All the training, the exertion, and the self-control are judged worth it when the wreath is placed upon his head and when the crowd stands to pay tribute. Their self-control is driven by the greatness of the prize. So what prize could be sufficient to motivate Paul to live this life of extraordinary fervor and intense zeal? Only one thing: Jesus Christ. Paul, who had been the self-proclaimed chief of sinners, had been suddenly and dramatically saved by Jesus. In a moment he had been plucked off the highway to hell and set upon the pathway to heaven. He was forever transformed. And with this new life, he had a new purpose. He now lived to be a faithful representative of Jesus Christ, to be absolutely devoted to growing in Christ-likeness and making Jesus known to those around him. When Paul embraced Jesus Christ—or rather, when Jesus embraced Paul—Paul also embraced a new purpose.

Men, have you been transformed by Jesus Christ? Have you been given new life? With new life comes a new purpose! Let go of the ridiculous notion that your life is about you. Let go of all of the selfish purposes you once held on to. Let go of the cultural wave of apathy and self-indulgence that is plaguing so many. And once you have let go of all that might hinder you, grab on to a lifelong pursuit of Jesus! Embrace your purpose, and align every area of your life with it: You are here to glorify God by abounding in good works.

This is your challenge and mine. Your family needs you to be holy, to see a husband and father who models what it means to be a mature, Christian man. Your church needs you to be holy, to see a believer who has been set free from sin and who is committed to their good. Your neighborhood needs you to be holy, to see a man who has been utterly transformed by Jesus and who now puts aside anything that might hinder the gospel of Jesus. Your world needs you to be holy, to be evidence that Jesus Christ continues to save his people and continues to transform them into his image. In the inestimable prize of Jesus Christ, you have all the motivation you need to embrace a new purpose and fix your eyes on the glory of God.

Run to Win!

You are a few minutes farther into your race than you were at the beginning of this article. You’ve taken a few more steps. And I hope you have come to see that if you are going to succeed in this race, you need to know the reason God saved and sanctifies you. Only then will you be motivated to put aside the selfishness of apathy and put on the selflessness of holiness. Embrace your purpose, then run to win!

Note: My book Do More Better is a practical guide to a life of productivity with productivity defined this way: “Effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.” If this is an area of struggle, consider reading the book. Then join us next time as this series continues with “Renew Your Mind.”

Posted in Blog, Civil War, Clear Winter Nights, Relationships | Comments Off

A La Carte (May 23)

Today’s Kindle deals include a couple of classics and a couple of modern-day books worth reading.

Do Catholics and Protestants believe in the same Trinity?

“Many people are happy to say that Muslims and Christians believe in different gods based on what they think about Jesus. … Are the differences between Catholics and Protestants so stark that we could conclude that we believe in different gods?”

Worldliness: A Rich Person’s Problem?

“Is worldliness a problem for the rich or for the poor? For those with many possessions or few? For people who live in a western society or a developing country?”

3 Ways to Exhort the Aging

“Aging people experience progressive losses: parents, friends, colleagues, career, driver’s license, and perfect health. Then life-threatening health challenges are encountered, usually heart disease or cancer. And finally, there is the certainty of death. In these realities, though, there are implicit spiritual incentives to grow. Here are three ways to encourage and exhort the aging.”

What If I Can’t Find the Perfect Church?

I hear this question too, all the time: “Often I run across people at conferences or through e-mail who stop attending church because they can’t find the perfect church.  What if you don’t have the perfect church in your community—what should you do?”

Don’t Be a Jerk, Be a Shepherd

The heart of it: “even if the pastor must bring a confrontation, he must do it in a way that respects the person he is talking to.”

The Parable of Anthony Weiner’s iPhone

This is worth considering: “Could one of the lessons of Anthony Weiner’s fall be that we should take our digital technology more seriously as a potential stumbling block?”

The Age of Accountability

Barry York takes a look at the idea of an age of accountability at which children become morally responsible for their sin.

Flashback: 3 Priorities for Christian Parents

We know that God tells us to raise our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord—we get that. But what does that actually look like? The priorities Paul offers to this first-century Christian church can be helpful to twenty-first century Christian parents.

The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we can become. —Phil Jenkins

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10 Things Church Members Want from Their Pastor – Rainer on Leadership #330

Podcast Episode #330

SUBSCRIBE: iTunes • RSS • Stitcher • TuneIn RadioGoogle Play

Ever wondered what your church wants from its pastor? Today, we cover the top ten things church members desire in a pastor.

Some highlights from today’s episode include:

  • A church wants to know that their pastor loves them.
  • Effective preaching requires adequate time for preparation.
  • Much of a pastor’s ministry is judged as effective or not based upon the preaching ministry.
  • Social media background checks are becoming standard when hiring a pastor.
  • We are leaving a blueprint of our lives when we interact on social media.
  • An organization without a path forward becomes an uneasy organization.
  • A lot of people can have great ideas. Not many people can execute them, too.
  • There is nothing wrong with having fun as a leader.
  • Most leaders are not transparent enough.

The ten items we discuss are:

  1. Love of congregation.
  2. Effective preaching.
  3. Strong character.
  4. Good work ethic.
  5. Casts a vision.
  6. Demonstrates healthy leadership.
  7. Joyous.
  8. Does not yield to critics.
  9. Transparent.
  10. Models evangelism.

Episode Sponsors

Vanderbloemen Search GroupVanderbloemen Search Group is the premier pastor search firm dedicated to helping churches and ministries build great teams. They’ve helped hundreds of churches just like yours find their church staff and are uniquely geared to help you discern who God is calling to lead your church.

Find out more about Vanderbloemen Search Group by visiting WeStaffTheChurch.com.


mbts_banner1_rainerMidwestern Seminary, one of the fastest growing seminaries in North America, exists to train leaders For The Church. The local church is God’s “Plan A” for the proclamation of the gospel, and there is no Plan B. And this is Midwestern’s vision and heartbeat—equipping pastors and other ministry leaders who are called to expand God’s mission in the world through the local church. At Midwestern Seminary: they train leaders ‘For The Church.’

Visit them online at MBTS.edu and start your ministry training today.


Feedback

If you have a question you would like answered on the show, fill out the form on the podcast page here at ThomRainer.com. If we use your question, you’ll receive a free copy of Who Moved My Pulpit?


Resources Mentioned in Today’s Podcast

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Trump’s federal budget proposal has no heart

In the White House’s proposal, the deepest cuts come at the expense of the most needy.

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Q & A With Dr. Steve Gaines, Pastor of Bellvue Baptist Church and President of the Southern Baptist Convention

By. Kyle B. Gulledge, Editor SBCToday A few weeks ago I reached out to Dr. Steve Gaines about the possibility of doing a question and answer blog with SBCToday.  Due to us both being busy, I suggested sending these questions in the form of an email so that he could answer them as his schedule […]
Posted in Adrian Peterson, BlackAmericaWeb.com, Blog, Kendrick Johnson, presecution, Saturday Shout-Outs | Comments Off

Building a Firm Foundation

A well-rounded understanding of God’s character is the beginning of developing sound faith.
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The Importance of Prayer Partners

We’ll never succeed through self-reliance, because God created us to need others in our faith journey.
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How God Opens the Eyes of the Heart

How God Opens the Eyes of the Heart

How does someone who is blind to the glory of God come to see him for who he really is?

To be sure, the natural eyes and ears and brains are part of the process. Without them we cannot even see or hear or construe the natural things that reveal God’s glory: creation, incarnation, gospel, Scripture. But this natural seeing is not decisive in seeing the glory of God. “Seeing they do not see,” Jesus said (Matthew 13:13). Something more than the use of the natural eyes and ears and brains must happen.

The way the apostle Paul puts it is that you must have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know” (Ephesians 1:18). This too is strange — the heart has eyes! But perhaps not beyond comprehension.

Most people are at home speaking of “the heart” as something more than the blood-pumping organ in our chest. Such language is not foreign to us. This “heart” is the real us. Intuitively we know that there is more to us than flesh and bones. We know we are not mere chemicals in a sack of skin. We would not talk the way we do about things like justice and love if we didn’t believe that.

Eyes of the Heart

Is it so strange, then, to add to this immaterial personhood the idea of immaterial eyes — “the eyes of the heart”? This inner person, who is the real us, sees and knows things that are not identical with what the eyes of the body can see. Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things” (Pensées). There is a spiritual seeing through and beyond natural seeing. There is a spiritual hearing through and beyond natural hearing. There is spiritual discerning through and beyond natural reasoning.

How, then, may we conceive of what happens when the heart sees the glory of God? I found a clue in the way Paul speaks of our knowledge of the glory of God in nature. On the one hand, Paul says that we all “know God.”

“Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Romans 1:21). That is astonishing. Everyone knows God! But in other places, Paul emphatically says that by nature people do not know God. For example, “In the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:21). The “Gentiles do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:5). Formerly “you did not know God” (Galatians 4:8; see 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 John 4:8).

Who Knows God?

So, what does Paul mean in Romans 1:21 when he says that all human beings “know God”? To answer this, we might simply quote Romans 1:19–20, “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

But is that all Paul means when he says, “They knew God”? I think there is more. In Romans 2:14–15, Paul says that people who have never heard of the law of God sometimes do what the law requires. Their consciences witness to God’s will. He puts it like this: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts.”

So, here is my suggestion: “Knowing God” in Romans 1:21 includes this deeper heart experience of Romans 2:15. The analogy that I find helpful is to conceive of the innate knowledge of God and his will as a kind of template or mold in the human heart. This template is designed by God in every human heart with a shape, or a form, that corresponds to the glory of God. In other words, if the glory of God were seen with the eyes of the heart, it would fit the template so perfectly that we would know the glory is real. We would know we were made for this.

When Paul says that all humans “know God,” or that all humans have the work of the law “written on their hearts,” he means that there is a glory-shaped template in every heart waiting to receive the glory of God. We all “know God” in the sense that we have this witness in our hearts that we were made for this glory. There is a latent expectancy and longing, and the shape of it is buried deep in our souls.

Hearts Packed Hard

The reason we do not see the glory of God is not that the template is faulty or that God’s glory is not shining. The reason is “hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). This hardness is a deep aversion to God, and a corresponding love for self-exaltation. Paul said that the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God (Romans 8:7). And Jesus said that “light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19).

Our problem is not that we lack the light, but that we love the dark. This is the hardness of our hearts.

So, in my analogy of the template, this means that the hollowed-out shapes of the mold, which are perfectly shaped for the all-satisfying glory of God, are instead packed hard with the love of other things. So, when the glory of God shines into the heart — from creation or incarnation or Jesus or the gospel — it finds no place. It is not felt or perceived as fitting.

To the natural mind — the mind whose glory-shaped mold is packed hard with idols — the glory of God is foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14). It doesn’t fit. As Jesus said to those whose hardness pushed them to the point of murder, “You seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you” (John 8:37). Of course, they could construe his words, and remember his words. But they could not see them as glorious or compellingly beautiful.

They heard the words, but they did not love them. They loved the darkness that filled the template that was designed for the brightness of the glory of God.

Supernatural Excavation

If we are on the right track, the only hope for seeing the glory of God in Scripture is that God might cut away the diamond-hard, idolatrous substitutes for the glory of God that are packed into the template of our heart.

The Bible speaks of this supernatural act in many ways. For example, it describes this supernatural in-breaking as a shining into our hearts of divine glory (2 Corinthians 4:6), and as a granting of truth and repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), and as the giving of faith (Philippians 1:29), and as raising us from the dead (Ephesians 2:5), and as new birth by the word (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18), and as the special revelation of the Father (Matthew 16:17) and the Son (Matthew 11:27), and as the enlightening of the eyes of the heart (Ephesians 1:18), and as being given the secret of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:10).

When this miracle happens to us, the glory of God cuts and burns and melts and removes from the template the suicidal cement of alien loves and takes its rightful place. We were made for this. And the witness of this glory to the authenticity of the Scriptures is overwhelming. Where we saw only foolishness before, we now see the all-satisfying beauty of God. God has done this — supernaturally.

No one merely decides to experience the Christian Scriptures as the all-compelling, all-satisfying truth of one’s life. Seeing is a gift. And so, the free embrace of God’s word is a gift. God’s Spirit opens the eyes of our heart, and what was once boring, or absurd, or foolish, or mythical is now self-evidently real.

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How God Opens the Eyes of the Heart

How God Opens the Eyes of the Heart

How does someone who is blind to the glory of God come to see him for who he really is?

To be sure, the natural eyes and ears and brains are part of the process. Without them we cannot even see or hear or construe the natural things that reveal God’s glory: creation, incarnation, gospel, Scripture. But this natural seeing is not decisive in seeing the glory of God. “Seeing they do not see,” Jesus said (Matthew 13:13). Something more than the use of the natural eyes and ears and brains must happen.

The way the apostle Paul puts it is that you must have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know” (Ephesians 1:18). This too is strange — the heart has eyes! But perhaps not beyond comprehension.

Most people are at home speaking of “the heart” as something more than the blood-pumping organ in our chest. Such language is not foreign to us. This “heart” is the real us. Intuitively we know that there is more to us than flesh and bones. We know we are not mere chemicals in a sack of skin. We would not talk the way we do about things like justice and love if we didn’t believe that.

Eyes of the Heart

Is it so strange, then, to add to this immaterial personhood the idea of immaterial eyes — “the eyes of the heart”? This inner person, who is the real us, sees and knows things that are not identical with what the eyes of the body can see. Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things” (Pensées). There is a spiritual seeing through and beyond natural seeing. There is a spiritual hearing through and beyond natural hearing. There is spiritual discerning through and beyond natural reasoning.

How, then, may we conceive of what happens when the heart sees the glory of God? I found a clue in the way Paul speaks of our knowledge of the glory of God in nature. On the one hand, Paul says that we all “know God.”

“Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Romans 1:21). That is astonishing. Everyone knows God! But in other places, Paul emphatically says that by nature people do not know God. For example, “In the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:21). The “Gentiles do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:5). Formerly “you did not know God” (Galatians 4:8; see 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 John 4:8).

Who Knows God?

So, what does Paul mean in Romans 1:21 when he says that all human beings “know God”? To answer this, we might simply quote Romans 1:19–20, “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

But is that all Paul means when he says, “They knew God”? I think there is more. In Romans 2:14–15, Paul says that people who have never heard of the law of God sometimes do what the law requires. Their consciences witness to God’s will. He puts it like this: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts.”

So, here is my suggestion: “Knowing God” in Romans 1:21 includes this deeper heart experience of Romans 2:15. The analogy that I find helpful is to conceive of the innate knowledge of God and his will as a kind of template or mold in the human heart. This template is designed by God in every human heart with a shape, or a form, that corresponds to the glory of God. In other words, if the glory of God were seen with the eyes of the heart, it would fit the template so perfectly that we would know the glory is real. We would know we were made for this.

When Paul says that all humans “know God,” or that all humans have the work of the law “written on their hearts,” he means that there is a glory-shaped template in every heart waiting to receive the glory of God. We all “know God” in the sense that we have this witness in our hearts that we were made for this glory. There is a latent expectancy and longing, and the shape of it is buried deep in our souls.

Hearts Packed Hard

The reason we do not see the glory of God is not that the template is faulty or that God’s glory is not shining. The reason is “hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). This hardness is a deep aversion to God, and a corresponding love for self-exaltation. Paul said that the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God (Romans 8:7). And Jesus said that “light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19).

Our problem is not that we lack the light, but that we love the dark. This is the hardness of our hearts.

So, in my analogy of the template, this means that the hollowed-out shapes of the mold, which are perfectly shaped for the all-satisfying glory of God, are instead packed hard with the love of other things. So, when the glory of God shines into the heart — from creation or incarnation or Jesus or the gospel — it finds no place. It is not felt or perceived as fitting.

To the natural mind — the mind whose glory-shaped mold is packed hard with idols — the glory of God is foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14). It doesn’t fit. As Jesus said to those whose hardness pushed them to the point of murder, “You seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you” (John 8:37). Of course, they could construe his words, and remember his words. But they could not see them as glorious or compellingly beautiful.

They heard the words, but they did not love them. They loved the darkness that filled the template that was designed for the brightness of the glory of God.

Supernatural Excavation

If we are on the right track, the only hope for seeing the glory of God in Scripture is that God might cut away the diamond-hard, idolatrous substitutes for the glory of God that are packed into the template of our heart.

The Bible speaks of this supernatural act in many ways. For example, it describes this supernatural in-breaking as a shining into our hearts of divine glory (2 Corinthians 4:6), and as a granting of truth and repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), and as the giving of faith (Philippians 1:29), and as raising us from the dead (Ephesians 2:5), and as new birth by the word (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18), and as the special revelation of the Father (Matthew 16:17) and the Son (Matthew 11:27), and as the enlightening of the eyes of the heart (Ephesians 1:18), and as being given the secret of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:10).

When this miracle happens to us, the glory of God cuts and burns and melts and removes from the template the suicidal cement of alien loves and takes its rightful place. We were made for this. And the witness of this glory to the authenticity of the Scriptures is overwhelming. Where we saw only foolishness before, we now see the all-satisfying beauty of God. God has done this — supernaturally.

No one merely decides to experience the Christian Scriptures as the all-compelling, all-satisfying truth of one’s life. Seeing is a gift. And so, the free embrace of God’s word is a gift. God’s Spirit opens the eyes of our heart, and what was once boring, or absurd, or foolish, or mythical is now self-evidently real.

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The Big 10 of Disciple-Making

Recently our church hosted its first Discipleship Summit—an event focused towards equipping...
Posted in Biblical election Calvinism, Russell Moore | Comments Off

Jesus Reveals the Laws of Supreme Blessing, Part 1 (Just Jesus Evangelistic Campaign, Day 108 / Day 475 since Jan. 1, 2016)

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

TEXT: Matthew 5:1-12:

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

After preaching the Gospel every day for 367 days straight throughout the 2016 presidential campaign season, I am preaching the Gospel every day throughout the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s term. If you think a new president being in office is the only thing needed to save America and ‘make America great again’, you are woefully deceived. The church must follow through and “keep the main thing the main thing: and that is reaching unbelievers with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and praying for their salvation, for the problem in America is not only disobedient presidents, politicians, and people, but disobedient pastors, preachers, and parishioners who have refused to obey the Lord’s Great Commission which is to, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ and who have refused to obey God’s repeated commands to ‘pray without ceasing’ for unbelievers, believers, and political leaders.” So, we encourage you to pray for the new president, but not to get caught up in the political happenings like the world does. Nothing much is going to change until people get saved and get their hearts right with the Lord. And that is what this campaign is all about.

This campaign is inspired by the following three verses: 1 Corinthians 2:2 which says, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Acts 5:42 which says, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” And 2 Timothy 2:4 which says, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

This series is not for Christians necessarily. However, I do hope you are one of those saints who still loves to hear the “Old, old story of Jesus and His love” — As another hymn says, “For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” This series is primarily for unbelievers, so they can hear and understand the Gospel and be saved from sin and the punishment of sin which is hell. This is message number 108, day 475 since Jan. 1, 2016.

A.W. Tozer said, “An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”

Everyone wants to have a blessed existence, a happy life, a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Thousands of books have been written claiming to unveil the “secrets” to such a life. Millions buy these books hoping to turn their lives around. But, more often than not, they don’t find the solutions for which they seek. Two thousand years ago, however, Jesus of Nazareth, revealed the secrets to the life of supreme blessedness. This section of His Sermon on the Mount is called the “beatitudes”; the word means “supreme blessedness.” The nine beatitudes that Jesus gives — the secrets to supreme blessedness — are revolutionary for two reasons. First, they emphasized such things as humility and service, things which the world sees as weak or impediments to success. Second, each of Jesus’ secrets to supreme blessedness are connected to one’s spiritual well-being, another element which our increasingly secular world usually discounts.

The first of Jesus’ secrets is: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Dr. R.C. Sproul states, “This word ‘blessed; means more than the emotional state represented by the word ‘happy.’ It includes spiritual well-being, having the approval of God, and thus a happier destiny.” So, as we go throughout this passage, we must remember that we cannot separate Jesus’ laws of supreme blessing from having a relationship with God through Him. True happiness or supreme blessing does not exist outside of God. C.S. Lewis said, “There is simply no such thing.”

In order to have this blessed, happy existence, we must be “poor in spirit.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “The poor in spirit are those who consciously depend on God, not on themselves; they are ‘poor’ inwardly, having no ability in themselves to please God.”

Warren Wiersbe said, “To be poor in spirit means to be humble, to have a correct estimate of oneself . It does not mean to be ‘poor spirited’ and have no backbone at all! ‘Poor in spirit’ is the opposite of the world’s attitudes of self-praise and self-assertion. It is not a false humility that says, ‘I am not worth anything, I can’t do anything!’ It is honesty with ourselves: we know ourselves, accept ourselves, and try to be ourselves to the glory of God.”

Poverty of spirit is the place where we begin on our journey to supreme blessing. The poor in spirit recognize that they have no standing before God. They do not see themselves as having any spiritual wealth or moral merit that commends them to God for His approval. If we want to be supremely blessed, we must recognize that we are utterly destitute and completely impoverished before Him. We cannot receive His ultimate blessing unless we are poor in spirit.

To those who are “poor in spirit” belong “the kingdom of heaven.” Proud, arrogant people, depending on their own merit, will not get into Heaven. Only those who are willing to admit that they are nothing before God will be able to enjoy the wonderful blessings of the kingdom. Many people will miss Heaven, not because they have rejected Jesus entirely, but because they are depending on a little bit of Jesus and a little bit of themselves to get in. They think there is still some good within themselves — even if it’s just a half-percent — that merits them for Heaven. But as the old saints used to sing, “ninety-nine and a half won’t do.” It is all of Jesus or all for nothing. Being poor in spirit is the first key to the life of supreme blessing.

Daniel Whittle wrote:

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

There shall be showers of blessing—
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing;
Send them upon us, O Lord!
Grant to us now a refreshing;
Come, and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing;
O that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!

Yes, dear friend, you must call on Jesus to begin the life of supreme blessing. Recognize the poverty of your soul and come to Him, placing all your faith and trust in Him for eternal salvation.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to GospelLightSociety.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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How to Overcome Temptation, Part 44 (Onward Christian Soldiers #168)

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In this section of our Onward Christian Soldiers discipleship class, we are going to continue looking at specific temptations that are, as the Bible says, “common to man.” We are looking at what the Bible says about these sins so we can be aware of its dangers and so that we can hide Scripture in our hearts to use when we are tempted.

The sin that we are going to begin looking at today is the sin of “lust.” This is the second sin in a list of 12 temptations that comes from two sources — one ancient and one modern. The first source is a list that was developed by monks in the early church called “the seven deadly sins” or the “cardinal sins.” The second source is a Barna survey from 2011 which tracked the top temptations Americans admitted to struggling with.

Today, we are looking at Job 31:1. (Remember, the text of this lesson is made available online after each class, so you can go to our website GLHOPI.com, click the “Onward Christian Soldiers” banner on the home page, and begin to learn these verses by heart throughout the week.)

Job 31:1-4

1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

2 For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?

3 Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?

4 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?

—–

We just completed over twenty lessons dealing with the temptation of covetousness or greed. Sometimes, when the Bible speaks of covetousness, it uses the word “lust”, referring to our fleshly desires. However, today, we are looking at lust as it pertains to “intense or unbridled sexual desire, which leads to fornication, adultery, rape, and other immoral sexual acts,” including homosexuality and pornography. In Dante’s Inferno, those souls who were unable to master their lustful tendencies are eternally blown about in hot, restless hurricane-like winds symbolic of their own lack of self-control.

We begin this study with the words of the righteous man, Job, found in chapter 31 of the book that bears his name. He said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” This is an excellent verse by which to begin our discussion of the temptation of lust because it squarely identifies the way in which we allow lust to enter our lives. It begins with the eyes and continues in the mind.

The eyes are the gateway of lust for men especially, but for women as well. That is why we must be careful of what we allow our eyes to dwell upon. Today, with the internet, mass media, and low cultural standards for proper attire in public, it is harder than ever to keep opportunities to lust away from our eyes. But, that is where the second part of Job’s statement comes in. He says, “Why then should I think upon a young woman?” The eyes are only the avenue for lustful images. The actual sin takes place in the mind and in the heart. You may not be able to always control what is placed in front of your eyes, but you can control what your mind does with what you have seen.

In his commentary on Job, Mike Mason writes, “When Job says that he has made a covenant with his eyes to abstain from lust, he does not mean that he has stopped experiencing lust altogether. What he means is that he refuses to dwell upon the lustful feelings which, as the normal red-blooded male he is, come to him very naturally.” Of course, Job lived in a time where polygamy and concubinage was accepted and even expected of a wealthy man such as himself. No one would have had second thoughts if Job took numerous single young women as wives or concubines. Yet, Job still had this commitment, and the Bible shows that he only had one wife. His example shows us that, in our culture — one in which polygamy may be frowned upon but promiscuous sexual activity is expected to go on without criticism, we, too, can make theme type of commitment that he made. We can make a covenant, a commitment with our eyes not to entertain lustful thoughts in our mind or heart.

If you struggle with lust, take this passage to heart and begin to use it the next time you face that temptation.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Saviour, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Bible also says in Romans 10:9 and 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to GospelLightSociety.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Until next time, May the Lord Bless You!

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