31 July 2009

Whose Desire Is It Anyway?

While I was at work today, I was thinking about this lovely lady who attended one of the churches I pastored. She was going through a really hard time in finding employment as a full time Christian worker. I remember her saying “I pray and pray and it seems nothing is happening...” and I remember her quoting this portion of scripture to me “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” Ps 37:4. She said that this was her desire, her passion; to be a Christian School teacher was all she could think about. So she said to me, why hasn’t the Lord allowed this to happen in my life? That’s a tough question to answer because only God knows why He allows certain disappointments in our lives. But I also can relate to this lady’s pleading heart, as I wait upon the Lord for that church to shepherd. As I was thinking about this lady’s situation and her burden a year and a half ago, that portion of scripture stood out to me again today! I can remember what I said to her that night as if it was yesterday. We sometimes read the Word of God and make it what we want it to mean, and that’s bad hermeneutics. David said “He shall give you the desires...” God does the giving, not us. God puts into our hearts His passion for our lives. I told this lady that it’s not about what I want or you want, it’s all about what God wants! He wants me [all Christians] to have His passion and desire to be obedient as David says in verse 3, and He wants us to delight in Him as our greatest treasure as David said at the beginning of verse 4. Then, the rest of the verse follows saying, “He shall give you the desires of your heart”. Why do we assume sometimes that God should give or allow us anything? What gives me [Mike Andrews] the right to come to an infinite God who is sovereign and supremely glorious and ask the question ‘Why Lord? Why have I not been given this request? You said in Your word, You would give me the desires of my heart! Isn’t this what David wrote?’ But we need to understand the whole text. This Psalm is about why the ungodly prosper and the righteous suffer and struggle. Not about what I can get from God or how to have a more fulfilled life. David said in all our struggles and confusion its God’s desire that we be faithful, obedient, persevere and patiently wait on Him above all else, as it says in verse 7. He wants ALL the desires of our heart to be focused on Him; He wants our complete attention. You see, I want to be the pastor of a church so bad it’s all I think about, just like that lovely lady I spoke about earlier who had that same passion to teach children full-time. Is that God’s desire for us? Or is it our desire? Think about that before you answer. Is it God’s desire that I pastor a church? Yes! There is no doubt in my mind. Is it to be now, at this moment in my life? That still needs to be determined. But is it God’s desire for me? That same question goes for that lady and everyone else. We always need to be mindful and patiently waiting upon God as He leads us down His path of righteousness. Again, I say I have no right to demand anything from a holy God [it is selfish and arrogant to think I deserve anything] other than praise and adoration for His love and mercy toward a sinner such as me! My heart’s desire should be first and foremost to be in complete love with the Savior. That’s what He desires and deserves from my heart because it’s only through Him I can wait patiently as He performs His perfect work in my life. Only six months after my conversation with this woman, He did give her the desire of her heart. She is now teaching in a God fearing, God honouring Christian school and loving every minute, as she teaches the little ones about Jesus and His love for sinners. I know too, He will do the same for me and my family. Why? Because of what David writes in verse 23-25 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken...” If you are saved, you are going to spend all eternity with the One who loved us first [isn’t that enough of a desire for my heart?]
Whether I pastor a church or never pastor a church, it is His business. One thing I do know for certain is that He loves me! Why? Because He put that desire [Jesus Christ] in my heart nine years ago. The bible says He will never cast us out; He will uphold us with His hand. All He asks of us is to be patient and trust in His providence and provision for our lives. He knows my passion and where we want to be [full-time ministry]. He also knows my heartache and sorrow better than anyone else; and He knows where I’m going to be 6 months, 6 years, and 60 years from now - and when He is ready to reveal that to me, He will put His desire in my heart.

26 July 2009

What's in Your Grocery Cart?

Holiness (means) In the highest sense belongs to God (Isa 6:3), and to Christians as consecrated to God's service, and in so far as they are conformed in all things to the will of God. Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance. Charles Spurgeon said "Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." See we have allowed the world to cloud our better judgment at home, work, and in the church. How? Through the T.V, media, radio, magazines, books and I think most of all a lack of meaningful Bible reading. We as Christians greatly enjoy talking about:

The Provisions of God

Christ defeating Sin on the Cross

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit

But we do seldom or rarely, talk much about our responsibility to walk in Holiness unto the Lord who is or should be our greatest treasure! By living holy lives. We are to strive, pursue for holiness, because without it! As Charles Spurgeon said “You will never see the Lord!” The Hebrew writer wrote this “ Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” These are the words from God, who is our final Authority! Without holiness we will never enjoy Him, who is Holiness itself. We are commanded in Scripture to think on godly virtues and we are commanded to practise them in our lives.What do I need to do to attain a Holy life and mind? Paul gives us 8 virtues to a holy life that is acceptable unto the Lord found in Philippians chapter 4 found in this one verse.. I call it a grocery list verse of items that you need to get or an itinerary for the Christian so that nothing is missed on a daily basis. We as Christians have a list that we are to live by and we need to exam ourselves, not one another, but ourselves on daily minute by minute basis to this list!

1. True
2. Honest
3. Just
4. Pure
5. Lovely
6. Good
7. Excellent
8. Praiseworthy

Ask yourself is the Lord to be obeyed in all things whatsoever He commands? Or is it just some of them, some of the time? The answer to that question is simple: it’s either Yes or No (Rom 6:16) Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? We must be slaves unto righteousness and we do that by obeying and following our grocery list

1. Holiness begins with whatever is True

True (means) sincere, what is truthful. (John 4:24) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." We cannot come to this place and worship him without the truth of His Word piecing our hearts and spirit. We worship not out of rituals and traditions but by the power of the Scriptures that transforms our lives.

2. Holiness begins with what is Honest

Honest (means) honorable, possessing a high mind, a careful regard to integrity, righteous character. (Rom 13:13-14) Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry (wild parties, sexual orgies, brawls, riots) and drunkenness, not in lewdness (sexual immorality) and lust, not in strife and envy (jealousy, zeal). But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Living a life pleasing to God that is displayed in our outward behaviour, because you have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus. Making no provisions (no wrong ideas, or planning) to fulfill my flesh
3. Holiness begins with what is Just

Just (means) an upright life, a right conduct, righteous living. A Christian should be just in all his dealings. (Prov 20:7) The righteous man walks in his integrity (morally innocent) ; His children are blessed after him. Live what you believe, which is the Bible! The conduct of good men proclaims their sound principles. You do this God says “his (your) children are blessed”. Do we realize good things pass on to the children of the godly, they follow by example. Something most of us are failing at, I know I do at times!

4. Holiness begins with what is Pure

Pure (means) properly clean, that is, (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect: - chaste, clean, pure. (1Tim 4:12) Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. How important is it to live a pure life especially for those in ministry, because we are being watched by this world, looking for every opportunity to destroy us! How can I preach to you if I’m not walking inwardly and outwardly displaying a life of purity living a life that others can follow by, we must be examples to this fallen generation.

5. Holiness begins with what is Lovely

Lovely (means) pleasing, agreeable, kind, deeds that spring form love and inspires love in others. Friendly towards... (1Peter 4:8) And above all things have fervent love ( means to be stretched to the limit, to be labored) for one another, for "LOVE WILL COVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS."
Stretching out loving kindness toward one another, always ready to forgive a brother or sister of insults or unkindness by showing a passionate love toward the body of Christ.

6. Holiness begins with what is of Good Report

Good Report (means) worthy of approval, trustworthy, courtesy, deserving of praise, well spoken of, that is, reputable, commendable. We as Christians need to be an example to others by living a life consistent to the gospel of peace. (Phil 1:27) Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. Are you living a life that is of good report? Are you concerned for others? Saved or Unsaved!

7. Holiness begins with what is Excellent

Excellence (means) valuable, pure quality, uprightness of mind, If there is anything truly virtuous. We need to be walking worthy in the eyes of a Holy God! (Ruth 3:10-11) Then he said, "Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. She exemplified a life of excellence, she did not engage in immoral behaviour, she was a loyal woman to Naomi. Can people say that about you and me. Us wretched sinners who have been saved by that great pearl of great price, the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we being loyal in our testimony towards others whether saved or not saved?

8. Holiness begins with what is Praiseworthy

Praiseworthy (means) a commendable thing, worthy of praise, Anything worthy of praise, or that ought to be praised. (Heb 13:15) Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. God desires the praises of His children for His wonderful work on the Cross. Jesus wants us to be filled and live separate lives from this world, living a holy life is the “fruits of our lips”

When you get all your groceries on that list, we are to do something of great importance. Look what Paul says "we are to mediate on them". Why? Because they are vital for the Christian life. See meditate (means) to attend, practice, to be diligent in, a habitual discipline. It is as Paul said to Timothy in (1Tim 4:15) Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. John MacArthur says “Believers must be disciplined to add to their faith the proper attitudes, thoughts, and actions described in this passage. Only then will they develop spiritual stability in their lives.” Only then will we be able to live holy! It begins here. How is your walk doing according to these 8 virtues? Are you continuing to strive, persevere for holiness? If you not! We must turn to the Shepherd and ask Him to search our hearts as the Psalmist said in (Psalm 139:23-24) Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. The Holy Spirit must reveal any unrepented sin in our hearts which always keeps us from that genuine fellowship found in 1 John chapter one. We must realize that He is the only one who can search, try and lead us to calm waters as a Good Shepherd does. He is the only one who can lead us in holiness through His righteousness Son, Jesus Christ. So my plea to you is will you not mediate on these important holy virtues? They were purchased for each and everyone of us, at such a great price on the cross of Calvary. Please I beg you to not read over these 8 important virtues which were written for our instruction and to direct us to live holy lives that are acceptable which according to the Bible is; our reasonable service. So what's in your grocery cart?

22 July 2009

Who Will Deliver Me from this Body of Death?

Every day I find it harder and harder to do what is right in the eyes of God. Don’t you? I find it especially hard, when you work every day in a world that is broken and lost without hope in Christ Jesus, even in a small community of Woodstock, New Brunswick. You go to work every day in a place that uses His name [Jesus Christ] frequently but in a way that dishonours Him and all His glory [use it as a curse word], and makes Him out to be some kind of a fool. People deceive one another and tell lies. You hear the garbage and profanity, the vulgar conversations, and it begins to sink into your conscience, it begins to affect your behaviour. You try not to listen! But you can't help yourself but to listen to what they're saying. Again it begins to affect your personal walk with the Lord, your personal devotion time, your prayer life begins to diminish. A good brother in Christ said to me once “you hang out with manure; you begin to smell like manure". He is absolutely right! When a person gets to this point in ones Christian life, you begin to realize and understand what Paul meant when he said “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Rom 7:18-24. Is this you sometimes? Do you understand what Paul is saying here, our bodies want nothing more than to sin continually? How do we keep ourselves from falling down a path that leads to spiritual discipline and hardship whether you be at work or home? Or the feeling that God is distant from you even though He isn’t because you want to sin as Paul said “...; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice". What does a person do when they realize the depravity of their sin, for what it really is? You go to the One who saved you from yourself. The One who delivered you and me as Paul said “from this body of death”. Paul gives us the answer in (verse 25) “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Rom 7:25. It’s all because of Him! He has saved me from what I used to be, a person no better than the people I work with, a person who still is unworthy as the people who use His name as a joke or a curse word. See it’s hard not to sin, because we are all wrethced sinner's just like the people you and I presently work with. Think about that for a moment you work with people who are living in darkness, blinded to the truth of the Gospel, haters of God, one foot closer to a place they make jokes about [Hell]; that was me! 8 years ago before He got a hold of my wrethched lifegripped a hold of my life. We need to display Christ's love for sinners, we need to display that changed life to a fallen generation, that there is hope for them too. I guess what I’m trying to say is how do we do that? What does it means to live out a genuine Christian life in today’s post-modern world? Christianity is all about restoration, transformation of one’s life, forgiveness of sin, a personal relationship with a Holy God, and the blessed assurance and security of eternal life. But the sad reality is that throughout the church’s history; there has always been tares (unsaved) among the wheat (the children of God). You cannot play or fake Christianity and think its ok. That is the furthest thing from the truth! The Bible says “The rocky, shallow, thorny, soils that produce no spiritual fruit”. Jesus said (Matt 7:18-20) “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them”. The bible also goes on to say: Therefore the Lord said: ........these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me,........ (Isa 29:13). Those whom God is near to their lips but far from their mind (Jer 12:2). Those who are hearers of the word, but not doers of it (James 1:22). True saving faith is marked by how we respond: to trials or situations, to temptation, to word of God, to prayer, to His standards for Holy living. So what does it means to be genuine in your walk in today’s post-modern world? Here are 12 fundamental truths found in Scripture.

1. To count it ALL JOY when we face trials and struggles (Luke 6:22-23)
2. To ENDURE temptation (Heb 12:1)
3. To STAY TRUE to the Word of God (Acts 17:11)
4. To be a DOER of the Word (Col 4:6)
5. To show LOVE and KINDNESS to all people (Col 3:12)
6. To show your FAITH by your works (James 2:20-26)
7. To seek HEAVENLY wisdom (Prov 1:7)
8. To HUMBLE ourselves under His grace (Phil 2:3-4)
9. To SUBMIT to God and draw near to His over flowing compassion and mercy (2 Cor 4:16-18)
10.To always be OBEDIENT to the Lord’s will at all times (1 Peter 1:2)
11. To be PATIENT and PERSEVERE throughout your Christian Walk (James 5:7)
12. To have a life that is FULL of godly PRAYER (James 5:16)

This isn’t an exhaustive list, or to say that we will be able to perform these tasks perfectly! Why? We are still depraved sinners who are [only saved] by that thin line of sovereign grace. But it is our privileged, and should be our passion to please and serve the King with everything we got even in the hard places, even if it means working in a place that is so far from God personally, because that’s where He found each and every one of us. We must be faithful where He has put us, and proclaim from the roof tops that Jesus SAVES! He deserves our adoration and obedience. Remember, He gave His life so that we could have life more abundantly by dying on the cross so that we could have the joy of worshipping Him in all His glory at the resurrection. We must be real and not fake or think that we are better than our unsaved friends [or co-workers]. The Bible says “all have fallen short”, “there is none righteous, no not one”. It is only by Jesus Christ that we are able to stand in a broken and fallen world to which I belonged to some 8 years ago. For by grace you are saved, and you now belong to the King of Kings if you are a Christian. I think John Gill said it the best “a Christian does not make it his trade and business; it is not the constant course of his life; he does not live and walk in sin, or give up himself to it; he is not without the being of it in him, or free from acts of sin in his life and conversation, but he does not so commit it as to be the servant of it, a slave unto it, or to continue in it.” He has deliver me from this body of death [sin]! To Him Be the Glory!

15 July 2009

Who Will Save The Little Ones

We must pray that the messge gets out for the voices that cannot be heard!

The Wonder of it All! Pastor Jeff Noblit

A Christian Prayer

A Puritan Prayer (Unknown Author)

Ten thousand snares are mine without
and within, defend thou me;
When sloth and indolence seize me,
give me views of heaven;
When sinners entice me,
give me disrelish of their ways;
When sensual pleasures tempt me,
purify and refine me;
When I desire worldly possessions,
help me to be rich toward thee;
When the vanities of the world ensnare me,
let me not plunge into new guilt and ruin.
May I remember the dignity of my spiritual release,
never be too busy to attend to my soul,
never be so engrossed with time
that I neglect the things of eternity;
thus may I not only live, but grow towards thee.
Form my mind to right notions of religion,
that I may not judge of grace by wrong conceptions,
nor measure my spiritual advances by the efforts
of my natural being.
May I seek after an increase of divine love to thee,
after unreserved resignation to thy will,
after extensive benevolence to my fellow creatures,
after patience and fortitude of soul,
after a heavenly disposition
after a concern that I may please thee in public and private.
Draw on my soul the lineaments of Christ,
in every trace and feature of which thou wilt
take delight, for I am
thy workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,
thy letter written with the Holy Spirit's pen,
thy tilled soil ready for the sowing, then harvest.

02 July 2009

Words We Take for Granted (Part 4)

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation”. 2 Cor 5:18-19 What does it mean to be rejected? Worse yet, what does it feel like when you have been rejected by someone? It hurts doesn’t it? We all want to be accepted, but that’s not always the case. You see, the God of all creation has been offended, and He requires - He demands justice for our sinful disobedience against Him. King David said “Against You, You only have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight” this was his plea of repentance when he sinned against God with Bathsheba (Ps 51-4). These past weeks, we have been looking at important words that sometimes fly under the radar among Christians. We need to understand that Jesus dying on the cross is not only the perfect sacrifice that God required as payment for our sins; it is not only being declared righteous through His Son’s imputed righteousness; but Jesus did something else for all humanity which is equally amazing. He paved, or fixed the road (so to speak) for us - a way back to the Father. He has enabled us to return to a relationship which was good according to the Bible, as once found in the Garden of Eden. This is a word I think all of us as Christians pass over way too lightly. It’s the word “RECONCILIATION” which is defined this way: “Brought into friendship from a state of disagreement or enmity (Webster’s). Easton’s Bible Dictionary says it “speaks of a reconciliation originating with God, and consisting in the removal of his merited wrath”. There is no one who is good according to the Bible; all of humanity has become an enemy of God. If you are a Christian, you were once at enmity (hostile, haters, and enemies of God). Remember the book of Romans in the first 3 chapters. Jesus has paved a way back to the Father once again and that road is open to all who come to Him through repentance and faith in the Son. Look what Paul says “now all things are of God...” Everything is under His control. Remember what Jesus said “I have come to do my Father’s will”. It is only possible for me or you to come into that right relationship with God through what Jesus did on the cross at Calvary. My question for us, ‘Christian’, would have to be, “Are we living our life for the one who gave up His life so that we could come back to the Father?” Think about this for a moment - do we really understand what Jesus did so that we could come home? This reminds me of the prodigal son who wanted his ‘best life now’, but in the end it never gave him any fulfillment at all - only grief, guilt and shame. Listen to what Jesus said the boy did “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." Luke 15:18-19. When he came back, he realized he was an enemy of the One who loved him the most. If you read through this story, Jesus says his father ran to embrace him back into that right relationship again, "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Luke 15:20. We serve an amazing God who loves us so much He is willing to die for our iniquities. He is willing to forgive even the worst of sinners, because of His great love for us “Christ reconciling the world to Himself”. What an amazing statement of our Lord and Savior! This doesn’t mean universal salvation, but Christ Jesus has made it possible so that the whole world can come home and be with Him forever, if we repent and follow Him alone! This is what Jesus means by reconciliation - He has removed the wrath that is yet to come for those who believe in the Son of God. Without His love for sinners and His love to do His Father’s will, we would still be under the wrath of God. But thanks be to God, for by His stripes we are healed, and by His death and resurrection we are reconciled into His grace. Christian I plead with you, do not let this word go unnoticed in your life. Treasure this understanding of truth and love Him with everything you’ve got! He loves you and me with an everlasting love and He proved this by His death and resurrection; making it possible, making it the ONLY way back home into the Father’s arms to be with Him for all eternity. Look at what Paul said “and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Col 1:20-22. This is my Jesus; this is the Jesus of the Bible who came to save sinners like me (Mike Andrews). I have been reconciled because of what Jesus did. My question for you is this - Has He reconciled you?