27 July 2006

Thirsty Thursday

Fueling Your Passion to Treasure Christ by Providing Grace-saturated Audio Sermons

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

Go to This Item's Page.

23 July 2006

Experiencing Life at the Margins

The Rt. Rev. Dr. David Zac Niringiye, African Bishop, has this (and more) to say about the American church:
It's so difficult to get American Christians, even those who profess to love missions and their brothers and sisters on the periphery, to actually come and see what is happening where we are. This is especially true of those in the positions of greatest power in the church. I have asked a friend, a pastor of a large church that gives half of its money to missions, to come and spend time on the fringes. But he won't. He wants to spend his study leave in Oxford, in Australia. How can American pastors be leaders if they haven't seen what God is doing elsewhere? Every search process for a senior pastor should ask, "Do you have experience in marginal places, economically deprived places, places with HIV/AIDS? Have you gone to be among them?"

Go to This Item's Page.

20 July 2006

Thirsty Thursday

Fueling Your Passion to Treasure Christ by Providing Grace-saturated Audio Sermons

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

Go to This Item's Page.

18 July 2006

I Don't Believe that Anyone can Believe in a Non-Belief System!

by Chris Carmichael.

At a community college graduation ceremony I attended in May, I was taken aback by a piece of advice that the commencement speaker gave to the graduates near the end of his speech. He declared with all sincerity, “When you lay in bed at night, don’t forget to thank God, or your Higher Power, or your non-belief system for all the blessings in your life.”

Yes, boys and girls, welcome to the new age of enlightenment where even atheists must not be excluded from bedtime prayer.

In fairness it should be noted that this particular commencement speaker is a director for a non-profit human rights organization that promotes inclusion and diversity, and thus he has developed an expanded consciousness that makes him much more sensitive to all points of view. That's why he can make a profoundly stupid statement like, "Thank your non-belief system for your life's blessings," and make it sound so culturally relevant and globally responsible. Isn't that nice of him?

I’m sure there must have been a few bright-eyed, fresh-faced atheists among the graduating class who were initially charmed by the speaker‘s feel-good advice, but then when they tried to put it into practice, they suddenly became as horrified as Isaac Watts at a Dove Awards ceremony. I can hear their train of thought now: “Thank you, Non-Belief System, for blessing me with… hey, wait a minute! What am I DOING?! If I give thanks to an entity outside myself, then I’m creating belief in another power, which is like God, and I don’t believe in God, so who am I really thanking? Hoo, boy, you almost had me there, you sly dog!"

Good grief, even an atheist with a community college education could smell a rat. . . .

Go to This Item's Page.

13 July 2006

Thirsty Thursday

Fueling Your Passion to Treasure Christ by Providing Grace-saturated Audio Sermons

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

Go to This Item's Page.

08 July 2006

Prayer Quotes

"The Enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian, and above all the minister, to neglect prayer."
Andrew Murray
"There is no easier sin to commit than the sin of prayerlessness.  It is a sin against man and a sin against God."
Wesley Duewel
"The least popular and the worst attended gathering so often is the prayer meeting."
Stephen Olford
"We have a great deal of activity but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results.  The power of God is lacking in our lives and in our work.  We have not because we ask not."
R.A. Torrey

Go to This Item's Page.

07 July 2006

Thirsty Thursday

Thirsty Thursday:  Fueling Your Passion to Treasure Christ by Providing Grace-saturated Audio Sermons

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)


The Peril of Partiality:  Riches and Race in the Christian Church

by John Piper

"For 250 years the [African] captives endured an assault on their culture and their dignity. The spirit of Africans in America did not break. Yet the spirit of their captors was corrupted. Small men took on the powers and airs of tyrants and masters. Years of unpunished brutality and bullying and rape produced a dullness and hardness of conscience. Christian men and woman became blind to the clearest commands of their faith, and added hypocrisy to injustice. A republic founded on equality for all became a prison for millions. And yet in the words of the African proverb, No fist is big enough to hide the sky. All the generations of oppression under the laws of man could not crush the hope of freedom and defeat the purposes of God.

"In America enslaved Africans learned the story of the Exodus from Egyptand set their own hearts on a promised land of freedom. Enslaved Africans discovered a suffering Savior and found he was more like themselves than their masters. Enslaved Africans heard the ringing promises of the Declaration of Independenceand asked the self-evident question, Then why not me? . . .

The evils of slavery were accepted and unchanged for centuries. Yet, eventually, the human heart would not abide them. There is a voice of conscience and hope in every man and woman that will not be silencedwhat Martin Luther King called a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. That flame would not be extinguished at the Birmingham jail. . . . It was seen in the darkness here at Goree Island , where no chain could bind the soul. This untamed fire of justice continues to burn in the affairs of man, and it lights the way before us.

One of the sad things about this Martin Luther King weekend is that many people-mainly white people-will not mark or celebrate racial justice or the advance of civil rights on this weekend because it is named for Martin Luther King, just like there are many people-mainly black people-who would not listen to that powerful speech if they knew it was spoken by George W. Bush."

Continue Reading the Text

Listen to the Sermon

Go to This Item's Page.

05 July 2006

Keep Yourselves In The Love Of God

by Terry Rayburn.

I'll bet it's been awhile since you've read the book of Jude.

It's an interesting epistle, because Jude started out to write an encouraging letter about our salvation, and changed direction under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He was led to write about "contending for the Faith", because of false teachers that were abounding.

And in the midst of this very serious letter about false teaching, Jude says something very important for us to remember as we are contending for the Faith.

In verse 21 (Jude is only one chapter), he writes, "...keep yourselves in the love of God."

Have you ever seen the optical illusion of the 3-dimensional box? If you focus your eyes one way, you see the outside surface of the box. If you focus your eyes another way, you see the inside surface of the box.

Jude 21 is like that. Does Jude refer to God's love for you...or your love for God? Well, it's both.

1. Keep yourself in His love for you.

This must come first. We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19)

Doubting God's love comes from Law-based thinking. We know we can't measure up perfectly to our every duty, and so we think God loves us less. This is, of course, unbiblical, and Grace is the antidote. God loves us unconditionally, and we need to remember that. We need a crash course in Grace every day. Peter wrote in 2 Pet. 1:12,13,

"Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, "

We need to be reminded that we are His beloved.

Why is this important? Because if we’re not appropriating the love of God for us….if we’re not basking in His love and grace….then we will not be able to be filled with His Holy Spirit, and we won’t be able to walk by the Spirit….and that means we won’t have the fruit of the Spirit, and the primary fruit of the Spirit is love.

2. Keep yourself in your love for Him.

This requires walking by the Spirit. This requires being filled with the Spirit.

Jude precedes vs. 21 by saying in vs. 20, "But you, beloved, [see that word "beloved"? That’s us], but you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit".
See how we can build ourselves up in the faith? We can do that, through reading the word of God, through meditation on Jesus, on God the Father and His word, through shutting out the world and it’s noises for a time, and listening to the Lord, through praying while we’re filled with the Spirit, through thirsting after God like the deer pants after the waterbrook.

We love Him because He first loved us. But we can’t let Religion choke out this love.

I love theology. I love the study of God in His word, in depth. I want to know all I can about Him and His ways. That’s theology at it’s best. And I even love a good debate. Jude even says in vs. 3 that we should contend earnestly for the faith. I love that.

But nothing, I repeat nothing, takes the place of keeping ourselves in the love of God.

Did you know there are two letters to the Ephesians in the New Testament? The first is the epistle we call the book of Ephesians, written by Paul the Apostle. The other is the letter of Jesus to the church at Ephesus, as recorded by John in Revelation 2:1-7.

Jesus commends the Ephesian church for doing something good. That good thing they did was to contend for the faith. They recognized and fought doctrinal error in the church. But then Jesus tells them something very sad.

The Ephesian church had left their first love.

Did they apostasize? Turn against Jesus, lose their salvation? No, of course not. They merely failed to do what Jude exhorts us to do: "Keep yourselves in the love of God."

Don’t underestimate this, beloved.

Don’t be like the church at Ephesus. "Keep yourselves in the love of God."

Link: Grace for Life.

Go to This Item's Page.

02 July 2006

An Humble Blog

For your encouragement to pray together corporately here are some key points taken from Jonathan Edward's exposition of Zech 8:20-22 in his "An Humble Attempt . . .".
May we all be incurable God-seekers as we pursue Him through prayer!
-- // --
Text: Thus saith the Lord of hosts; [It shall yet come to pass,] that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.” Zech 8:20-22
Prayer is here expressly and repeatedly mentioned; and also considering how parallel this place is with many other prophecies, that speak of an extraordinary spirit of prayer, as preceding and introducing that glorious day of religious revival, and advancement of the church’s peace and prosperity, so often foretold. Add to this, the agreeableness of what is here said, with what is said afterwards by the same prophet, of the pouring out of a spirit of grace and supplication, as that with which this great revival of religion shall begin. (chap. 12:10.) . . .
The GOOD, that shall be sought by prayer, which is God Himself. It is said once and again, “They shall go to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts.” This is the good they ask for, and seek by prayer: The Lord of hosts Himself. . .
it implies that God Himself is the great good desired and sought after; that the blessings pursued are God’s gracious presence, the blessed manifestations of Him, union and intercourse with Him; or, in short, God’s manifestations and communications of Himself by His Holy Spirit. Thus the psalmist desired God, thirsted after Him, and sought Him. Psalm 63:1,2,8 “O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee. My flesh longeth for Thee, in a dry and thirsty land where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary. My soul followeth hard after Thee.” Psalm 73:25 “Whom have I in Heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee.” The psalmist earnestly pursued after God, his soul thirsted after Him, he stretched forth His hands unto Him, etc. (Psalm 143:6) And therefore it is in Scripture the peculiar character of the saints, that they are those who seek God. Psalm 24:6 “This is the generation of them that seek Him Psalm 69:32 “Your heart shall live that seek GodIf the expression in the text be understood agreeably to this sense, then by seeking the Lord of hosts, we must understand a seeking, that God who had withdrawn, or as it were hid Himself for a long time, would return to His church, and grant the tokens and fruits of His gracious presence, and those blessed communications of His Spirit to His people, and to mankind on earth, which He had often promised, and which His church had long waited for. . . . And when God, in answer to their prayers and succeeding their endeavours, delivers, restores, and advances His church, according to His promise, then He is said to answer, and come, and say, Here am I, and to show Himself; and they are said to find Him, and see Him plainly. Isa 58:9 “Then shalt Thou cry, and He shall say, Here I am Isa 45:19 “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain.” Isa 25:8,9 “The Lord will wipe away the tears from off all faces, and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off the earth. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us: This is the Lord, we have waited for Him; we will be glad, and rejoice in His salvation.” Together with the next chapter, verses 8,9 “We have waited for Thee; the desire of our soul is to Thy name, and to the remembrance of Thee. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early. For when Thy judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isa 52:6-8. “Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore they shall know in that day, that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice, together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” . . . .
We may observe WHO THEY ARE that shall be united in thus seeking the Lord of hosts: the inhabitants of many cities, and of many countries, yea, many people, and strong nations, great multitudes in different parts of the world shall conspire in this business. . . . There shall be given much of a spirit of prayer to God’s people, in many places, disposing them to come into an express agreement, unitedly to pray to God in an extraordinary manner, that He would appear for the help of His church, and in mercy to mankind, and pour out His Spirit, revive His work, and advance His spiritual kingdom in the world, as He promised. This disposition to prayer, and union in it, will gradually spread more and more, and increase to greater degrees; with which at length will gradually be introduced a revival of religion, and a disposition to greater engagedness in the worship and service of God, amongst His professing people. This being observed, will be the means of awakening others, making them sensible of the wants of their souls, and exciting in them a great concern for their spiritual and everlasting good, and putting them upon earnestly crying to God for spiritual mercies, and disposing them to join in that extraordinary seeking and serving of God. . . . In this manner religion shall be propagated, till the awakening reaches those that are in the highest stations, and till whole nations be awakened, and there be at length an accession of many of the chief nations of the world to the church of God. Thus after the inhabitants of many cities of Israel, or of God’s professing people, have taken up and pursued a joint resolution, to go and pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of hosts, others shall be drawn to worship and serve Him with them; till at length many people and strong nations shall join themselves to them; and there shall, in process of time, be a vast accession to the church, so that it shall be ten times as large as it was before; yea, at length, all nations shall be converted unto God. Thus Zech 8:23, “ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, of the skirt of Him that is a Jew,” (in the sense of the apostle, Rom 2:28-29 i.e. Christians) “saying, We will go with you; for we have heard, that God is with you.” And thus shall be fulfilled, Psalm 65:2, “O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come.” . . .
We may observe, THE MODE OF THEIR UNION in this duty. It is a visible union, an union by explicit agreement, a joint resolution declared by one to another, being first proposed by some, and readily and expressly followed by others. The inhabitants of one city shall apply themselves to the inhabitants of another, saying, Let us go, etc. . . .
We may observe the manner of prayer agreed on, or the manners in which they agree, to engage in and perform the duty. Let us go speedily to pray; or as it is in the margin, Let us go continually. The words literally translated are, Let us go in going. Such an ingemination (doubling of words), is very common in the Hebrew language, when it is intended that a thing shall be very strongly expressed. . .
We may learn from the tenor of this prophecy, together with the context, that this union in such prayer is foretold as a becoming and happy thing, what would be acceptable to God, and attended with glorious success. . .From the whole we may infer, that it is a very suitable thing, and well-pleasing to God, for many people, in different parts of the world, by express agreement, to come into a visible union in extraordinary, speedy, fervent, and constant prayer, for those great effusions of the Holy Spirit, which shall bring on that advancement of Christ’s church and kingdom, that God has so often promised shall be in the latter ages of the world.
"Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts".
Your brother in Christ-
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! . . .
His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise
(Hab 3)

Go to This Item's Page.