26 March 2012

Standing In Awe Of God



Hab 3:3-15

"One hot July afternoon in 1967, Joni Eareckson Tada dove into a shallow lake and her life would change forever. She suffered a spinal cord fracture that would leave her paralyzed from the neck down, without use of her hands and legs. Lying in her hospital bed, Joni tried desperately to make sense of the horrible turn of events. The story is told that she begged friends to assist her in suicide." Struggling with the question if paralysis was God’s plan she said, "I believe that God’s purpose in my accident was to turn a stubborn kid into a woman who would reflect patience, endurance and a lively, optimistic hope of the heavenly glories above." The bible is all about God’s glory and plan that He has for creation as we focus on eternal things! Sadly though, we as Christians live or focus on earthy things over eternal things!

Picture I'm holding a rope that is wrapped around the earth millions of times which represent your life and eternity. Now, picture I'm holding the starting point [which represents your earthy life]of the rope that is wrapped around the earth millions of times ......we have the tendency to live and focus all our time on this portion which is about two inches of a rope that is infinitely long; which has no end. The bible declares plainly that we’re to live for eternal things not things of this earth and that’s what makes a Christian unique especially in a world that lives for earthy things. Paul said “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:15-18. 

When we see life this way it begins to change the perspective of our present circumstances. We start looking at this life through the glory of God as He molds us into the image of Christ until the day we will be just like Him....a perfect creation! This is why we can find comfort in a troubled world. This is why Joni could find peace and understanding in a wheelchair. This is why Habakkuk can find rest in the LORD as God deals with nations. This is why you and I can find comfort and peace today. See! It’s not about us....it’s all about Him and we’re able to see God’s glory even in the darkest hours of our lives......which ultimately brings rest and genuine faith to the heart of the believer! Why? Because.......He is in complete control of every situation. We see through this letter that God is the One who is sovereign and we need to find comfort in that. I know I do! What about you?

He is the sovereign Ruler and what He says goes.........no buts, or arguing with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Sovereign by definition is the right of God to do as He wishes with His creation. This implies that there is no external influence upon Him and that He also has the ability to exercise His right according to His will. Ps 50:1 “The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” Isa 40:15 “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.” 1 Tim 6:13-16 “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time--he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

David Wells said “The mystery of iniquity is at work in the world during this interim time, and it is not always clear how its wicked work is being checked, overridden, or woven into the glorious purposes of God. We need to remember, though, that while Judas betrayed Christ, and woe to him for doing so, it was God’s plan that Christ was thus betrayed. Evil by its very nature opposes the purposes of God, but God, in his sovereignty, can make even this evil serve his purposes.” And we see that truth though the scriptures......In the Old Testament we see God restoring and dealing with people through His judgements from the time of Adam and Eve, the nations in captivity into the rebuilding of the walls........In the New Testament we also see God doing the same...the only difference is that He poured His judgements upon His Son to restore sinful nations by bring people back to Him.
  • God has everything under control Habakkuk!
  • God has everything under control Christian!
  • God has everything under control Church!
  • God has everything under control Universe.
In this last portion of Habakkuk’s letter we get front row seats to see how truly amazing God really is as He displays who really is in charge. We see that God retraces the march of His people from Sinai to the Promise Land at the beginning of (v3) Teman probably represents the entire regions south of the Dead Sea. Paran lies west of Edom and is between the Sinai Peninsula and Kadesh Barnea.Which is a great reminder His sovereignty and providence. The God who acted on behalf of the children of Israel in the Exodus, would do the same here.

GOD IS SO SOVEREIGN HE CAME IN HIS ENTIRE SPLENDOR [V3-V5]

 “His glory covered the Heavens, and the earth if full of His praise.” (v3). When God came to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, He went with them as physical manifestation. Exo 40:34-38 “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. Isaiah writes these wonderful words that describe God’s glory......“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isa 6:1-4. “His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power.(v4). God is so glorious, His power is hidden from the amazing rays of light that permeate from the Godhead.

GOD IS SO SOVEREIGN HE STANDS WITH POWER [V6-V7]

 “He stood”.......... gave his presence in victory as He did with Joshua and is people as they went into battle. In Joshua 10:12-14 it says “At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, "Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon." And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies..........The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel. Does God stand with us today? You better believe it.....He said I will never leave you or forsake you”

“He looked and startled the nations”............ with anger in his eye He made the nations to tremble with fear. Joshua  2:8-11  “Before the men lay down, she [Rehab] came up to them on the roof and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”

This is a great reminder of God’s almighty power as He stands before His people.
  • He makes nations crumble
  • He makes nations fall in fear
  • He makes nations scatter
  • He makes the decisions on this earth
  • He is the Judge and Jury
  • He is the one who knows the heart of man
  • He is the one who knows who is His
  • He is the all powerful Ruler who goes before His children.
Remember what David wrote...... “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” Ps 23:2-3. In order to lead you must stand before your people as an example! Jesus Christ is our Leader. This is a great picture of the Almighty God of God, who stands up for His people, and it’s not temporal but everlasting and final (v6)Why? Because He is in complete control of our lives and the lives of every single person living above the ground and underneath the ground and those in Heaven or in Hell.

GOD IS SO SOVEREIGN HE MARCHES INTO VICTORY [V8-V15]

No greater comfort than to know you are on the winning team and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. As the Lord marched ahead of His people out of Egypt, He opened the Red Sea to let Israel out...and then later He opened the Jordan to let Israel into Caanan, as they journeyed into the Promise Land. Habakkuk, He will do the same here for your people....lead them to victory! God has been doing this thought-out history! That’s what makes God AWESOME. Warren Weirsbe said “He is the God of glory who reveals His glory in creation and in history. He is the living God who makes the dead idols of the nation ridiculous. He is the God of power who can command land and sea, Heaven and Earth, and therefore, He is the God of victory who leads His people in triumph.” Do you believe that? See, our victory is found in the Cross.....Jesus Christ has redeemed us from what we deserve, GOD”S WRATH AND HATRED TOWARDS SIN! That’s why as Christian’s we don’t fear death! Remember what Paul said "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 1 Cor 15:55-57. God is sovereign and brings great comfort to my heart because my victory was purchased for me on the Cross. That’s why Paul asks these questions! "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”What’s the answer: Jesus Christ...the one who reigns victorious over our enemy, the Devil and his fallen angels?
  • We serve the sovereign God who spoke all things into existence.
  • We serve the sovereign God who supplies the right amount of air to breath for this day.
  • We serve the sovereign God who cast Adam and Eve out the garden because of their rebellion and sin.
  • We serve the sovereign God who destroyed the earth because they were sorry for creating man.
  • We serve the sovereign God who separated and destroyed nations with a single word.
  • We serve the sovereign God who led His people through the wilderness, even in the midst of their grumbling and bickering.
  • We serve the sovereign God who made a promise to send a Saviour for the world
  • We serve the sovereign God who came to this earth born of a virgin to show how much they truly love us.
  • We serve the sovereign God who stared all things and will complete all things according to His good pleasure.
This is my Sovereign King.......who not only rules my life! But He rules my family’s life, our church and this whole universe all at the same time. He is a God who is completely glorious, He is a God who goes before His people with power, He is a God who reigns victorious over all His enemies. Always believe that God has been and will continue to be the sovereign Lord in your life, until He calls you home and beyond throughout eternity. “the just shall walk by faith”. He is the Sovereign Ruler .......embrace it, be thankful for it and praise His name among the earth that the King is seated and He rules all things for His glory and good pleasure. 

As the Apostle Paul said “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. “Rom 8:28-39

J C Ryle said it best! “Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God’s hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect, so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as “chance”, “luck”, or “accident” in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God: and all things are ‘working together’ for the believer’s good”. Habakkuk, find rest in your strong tower in the Sovereign King. Christian, find rest in the sovereign King as He molds you and draws you closer to home! Why? Because Paul said “nothing will be able to separate us for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

20 March 2012

Be Very Afraid




Hab 3:2

There’s a story about a group of pioneers making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. As they travelled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning violently and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have understanding as to what could be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it. As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, “Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?” The leader replied, “My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!” 

What a picture of the believer, who are safe in Christ! Harry Ironside said “On Him Almighty vengeance fell, which would have sunk a world to hell. He bore it for a chosen race, and thus becomes our Hiding Place. See as Christians, the fires of God’s judgement burned themselves out on Him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been. It’s a scary thing to fall into the hands of the sovereign Creator of all things. Habakkuk is stunned or amazed with fear to what God has in store for His people and the nation of Babylon. God’s going to do something unimaginable that our finite minds cannot fathom or understand. God is going to pour His wrath [judgement] against this wicked nation Babylon. See we need to understand, God is a holy God who will judge the earth according to His perfect Law and there is nothing you can say or do to stop Him. We really have to understand and take this serious! GOD HATES SIN and He will judge sin accordingly. When we [you] start reflecting on this truth....then you will begin to understand why God must do what does when it comes to the matter of sin. Why? In Deut 32:39 it says "'See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god beside Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand.” Jesus said “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3. 

See the bible is very clear and specific about God’s judgement against sin.........
  • The ancient world and the flood (Gen 6:17)
  • Sodom & Gomorrah came crashing down with brimstone and fire(Gen 19:24)
  • Korah and his followers (Num 16:33-35) “And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.”
  • The Israelites carnality (Num 21:6)
  • Eli for allowing corruption in the temple (1 Sam 3:13) “For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” In chapter (4:18) we see God’s judgement fulfilled.
  • Saul when he was rejected as being king (1 Sam 15:23)
  • Uzzah was struck and killed (2 Sam 6:7)
  • Jezebel was found with missing parts (2 King 9:35)
  • Zacharias  unbelief made him speechless for a season (Luke 1:20)
  • Ananias & Sapphira breathed their last breath for lying (Acts 5:1-10)
  • Herod was struck dead (Acts 12:23)
  • All generation that have come and will come will face everlasting punishment (Matt 25:41) "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:..”

God’s judgement is a scary and awe struck time especially for bible believing Christians. Let me ask you! Does God’s wrath and judgement concern you? The reason I ask this because it did for Habakkuk. It concerned him so much he says “heard your speech and was afraid” (v2). It amazes me that Habakkuk, a man who cared deeply for his people despite their unrepentant hearts was fearful or awe struck by God.....but we have people that will write New York Time best sellers who have talked to God as if they were having a coffee with the Godhead at Timmie’s. Let’s get Serious......the bible says Habakkuk was “afraid” can be translated “reverence, or to tremble....” To be in the position that Habakkuk had would of been of mixed emotions.....fear, happiness all at the same time.....It would be like riding on the tallest and fastest roller coaster; you love the rush and fear the rush at the same time. Habakkuk had a reverential fear of God’s judgements.....because he knew that God was sovereign Ruler over everything. Habakkuk  wasn't the only one this has happened too!........
  • Moses (Heb 12:18-21) "I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING."
  • Joshua (Josh 5:13-15)  “Joshua fell on his face to the earth”
  • Daniel (Dan 8:27) “fainted and was sick for days” (10:11) “While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling”
  • Peter, John and James (Matt 17:6) “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.”
  • Apostle John (Rev 1:17) “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.”

It’s a scary thing when God follows through with what he said He was going to do. That’s why I love that quote “I have good news and bad news! The good news is that God is here, the bad news is that God is here.” We as Christians know and walk by faith with the truth that God will do what He said He will do with those who deny......mock or curse His name. There will come a time when God will get rid of sin for good and smoke of their pain will be forever and ever.....“And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night....” Rev 14:11. But while we are here on this earth we should have the same burden for all people.

Which brings us to this portion of Habakkuk’s prayer? Habakkuk says O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work” (v2). What have we learned about God through history? That He will deal with each generation in the same way according to His perfect Law. Habakkuk understands that when God comes, He has to deal with sin. God’s justice must be executed and when He does so, His wrath is displayed. What do I mean? Look at what Habakkuk says at the end of (v2) “in wrath remember mercy.” Can you say that about someone you love and possible an enemy? Habakkuk did! The prophet agreed the people of Judah deserved to be chastened and this would work out for their benefit. But Habakkuk pleads with God in his prayer that God’s heart would reveal His love and mercy.

Let me ask you! Where have we seen God’s wrath displayed and mercy shown at the same time? When I think of God’s wrath and mercy shown at the same time in the Old Testament I always think about the TIME OF THE GREAT FLOODNoah, was a man of righteousness! And he building this massive Ark that was 3 football fields long, three stories high to hold 2 of each kind [animals] and people...which took over a period of 120 years to build. This boat was built for a rescue mission! I'm pretty sure something this size.....would be enough room to house more than 8 people in the Ark. What do you think Noah was doing before the floods came? Peter’s epistles says Noah was “......a herald of righteousness,” 2 Peter 2:5. Proclaiming to the people to come into the Ark and receive salvation from the wrath that yet to come. But sadly what happened? Only 8 entered in and God’s mercy came to end at the very moment God shut the door and His wrath began. Let’s move to the New Testament! Where have we seen God’s wrath displayed and mercy shown at the same time? The obvious answer is THE CROSS.......God displaying His mercy and wrath at the same time, this is what makes the cross so precious. On one hand we see God’s righteous fury for sin, and on the other hand we see God’s mercy and love for fallen creation. God’s hatred towards sin was poured out on Him that day! Let’s make it personal:
  • Every click of the mouse
  • Every bitter moment
  • Every foul word
  • Every impure thought
  • Every gossiping conversation
  • Every wicked act
  • Every evil deed
  • Every act of disobedience
  • Every covetous desire
  • Every murderous thought
  • Every lustful thought

Has been poured out on the only Begotten Son of God because God hates sin! He hates sin so much He created a place to put sin for all eternity....it’s called HELL! As we begin to look and understand the reality of those truths....we begin to see mercy through the darkness. By God pouring out His judgement on His Son for our sin, we see mercy, forgiveness and a living hope. But sadly as the scriptures tell us over and over again people will not listen because they were less concerned about their sin as they were God’s judgement. As in the times of Noah and the times of the cross, leading us to 2012 the message falls on deaf ears. 2 Chon 36:16 “But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.” Habakkuk pleads with God over his people but also for the Babylonians as well. Never go thinking that you are more important and worthy then the next sinner [unsaved person]. Just as the nation needed to repent and be restored, the Babylonians needed forgiveness and salvation like your neighbour or a family member....or the worst of criminals around today. Habakkuk through his prayers pleads on behalf of other people who desperately need a Saviour. 

Have you ever done that? Pleading for God even in the midst of judgement, plead for His mercy to be revealed. It’s a scary thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. Let me ask you! Does God still display judgement and mercy today? YES, you’re still alive aren’t you? God desires that no one perishes; this doesn't mean that everyone will be saved....It means His grace is overflowing and He desires that people would repent and believe the Gospel message. Did He not give enough time for people to enter the Ark? Yes. Is He still calling out into the streets to come to Him today through the Gospel? Yes. God’s mercy is overflowing with love and concern for every person created in the image of God......but there will come a day that the door will be shut and He will judge this earth according to His perfections. We love to proclaim John 3:16, which is a wonderful truth...... but we must not forsake the verses that follow! Especially John 3:36 which says “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” As Thomas Brooks said “Sin is the only thing which God hates! Sin brought Christ to the Cross! Sin damns souls! Sin shuts Heaven! Sin laid the foundations of Hell! If Christ were to show up this morning in His second coming, all of the individuals we love and know who have not trusted in God’s only provision for sin, which is the sacrifice of His own Son, would be subject to God’s Holy wrath. We need to be pleading with God as Habakkuk did for the people around you! In Your judgment, remember mercy LORD for _you fill in the blank!

17 March 2012

Men of the Pulpit




 Powerful Preaching
by Charles R. Swindoll
If you are responsible for communicating biblical truth, consider yourself a preacher (at least for the now)---you are a communicator of God's Word. If that describes you, these next four principles are especially for you. Pay close attention, read thoughtfully and carefully, as I apply this to whatever may be your ministry.

First, always stay on the subject---Christ. For Paul it was always about Christ. Though explaining the altar of the unknown God of Athens, everything for Paul pointed to Christ. Preaching that doesn't exalt Christ is empty preaching. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). For Paul, to live was Christ and to die was gain.

Second, always speak the truth without fear. Do not be overly impressed with those who have come to the class or who sit in the church where you serve. And it makes no difference how much they're worth or how little they contribute.

Third, always start where your audience is. Paul hooked those men in his first sentence. You can, too, if you spend some time thinking about it. Know your audience well enough to build a bridge quickly. Find a way to get into their world and then build a bridge to Christ. Remember: begin with the familiar in order to acquaint them with the unfamiliar.

Fourth, always surrender the results to God. Once they have heard the message, your part ends. Your task is to communicate truth. It's God's job to draw people to Himself. You prepare the patient; He does the surgery. They don't need manipulation. There's enough of that going on. You don't need to follow them out to their car or push them into a corner. God will reach them, just as He did in Athens. Leave the results to God.

When your heart is right, it's amazing what you're able to see. And when you see it clearly, it's remarkable how God can give you the words to say. You may be amazed how God uses you, just as He did Paul in that ancient metropolis so many years ago. When his moment arrived, he was ready.

When your moment comes, stand and deliver. God will give you courage as you tell others of His Son. There is no greater honor on earth.

11 March 2012

Staying Plugged In



Acts 2:44-47

Commitment is a word that has lost a lot of its meaning today. Many people have watered down its true meaning or it has become something that people want to avoid all together. The proof of this is in the increasing amount of divorces that happen each year. Promises made to others with no intention of keeping them. People suing each other for no reason. Children dropping out and not finishing school. People defaulting on their loans for reasons other than financial difficulties. Sadly, this is even happening in the churches today. Christian’s not willing to stick it out or fight for her as a body of believers. See, there’s something to say about being committed to something that is of great value or something that is worth fighting for. 

The church is such a place, that’s why I love the church.....she is worth defending and fighting for. The Church is a place where people are committed to one another because of the grace given to them through Jesus Christ. In the church, commitment sometimes might require you to get your hands dirty and a willingness to stick it out even when times get tough. Church commitment is saying I'm willing to stand on this hill together with arms interlocked until our final breath......Why? Because it’s my obligation and it's all for His glory and honour. Remember Christ died for the church and we are to be willing to do the same. 1 John 3:16 says “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Can you honestly say that about your life when it comes to the church? The early church could! “they had all things in common”  (v44).

Commitment is something that many people have a problem with even today! Take for example when Jesus spoke to His disciples in John’s gospel. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." John 6:67-69. We have people leaving Christ just as fast as they came in. We have people walking away from the church at the same rate. We have people who seek churches that will fit their needs instead of the other way around. We have people who will leave the church when their physical needs are not being meet. We have people who are afraid to commit because they are afraid of what might happen in the future.

Commitment by definition is...... To give in trust; to put into the hands or power of another; a pledge or promise; obligation. A great example that demonstrates commitment is when a missionary society wrote to David Livingstone and asked, "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you." Livingstone wrote back, "If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all." Commitment is doing whatever it takes at any cost for the sake of Christ and precious GOSPEL and His church. It’s getting plugged in and willing to stand side by side with other saved sinners as a unified family. This is what a local church is for. This is what the local church is to be filled with. Getting plugged in........ means you are committing yourself to the people and the church that God has put in your life. This is what the early church were doing...they were plugged into each other because of the salvation preached to them......“They had all things in common” (v44) Why are we here together? For the same reasons...nothing has changed except the church has embraced the world’s philosophy and ideology. What does a committed church look like?
  
A COMMITTED CHURCH GLORIFIES GOD THROUGH EXAMPLE

1Thess 1:6-10 “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
  
A COMMITTED CHURCH BELIEVES AND OBEYS GOD’S WORD

2Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

A COMMITTED CHURCH IS NOT SUPERFICIAL

Matt 13:20-21 “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

A COMMITTED CHURCH DESIRES THAT OTHER BELIEVERS GROW

Titus 2:1-8 “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
  
A COMMITTED CHURCH COUNTS THE COST

Matthew 10: 37-40 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.

This is what the early church had in common under the foundation of (v42)And this is what the Lord wants for us today. A desire to live holy and godly lives. Putting Christ as their highest treasure and the church as their family. Willing and caring for the church, caring for others needs. We need to get plugged in...... and attached to people like this. People who are:
  • committed to living Christ like according to His word.
  • committed to battle for the sake of the Gospel and His children.
  • committed to defend the church and His people.
  • committed to going the distance through prayer.

Commitment to the church means giving your all for the sake of unity and for the glory of God. It’s not half in and half out! Come when it’s convenient for me or when I want something.

"There is a story of a house church in the former Soviet Union received a copy of the gospel of Luke. Since in was illegal to possess this Scripture they tore it up into little pieces and distributed it among the body of believers. Their plan was to memorize the portion they had been given, then on the next Lord's Day they would meet and redistribute the sections.
On Sunday these believers arrived inconspicuously in small groups throughout the day so as not to arouse the suspicion of KGB informers. By dusk they were all safely inside, windows closed and doors locked. They began by singing a hymn quietly but with deep emotion. Suddenly, the door was pushed open and in walked two soldiers with loaded automatic weapons at the ready. One shouted, "All right - everybody line up against the wall. If you wish to renounce you commitment to Jesus Christ, leave now!" Two or three quickly left, then another. After a few more seconds, two more. "This is you last chance. Either turn against your faith in Christ," he ordered, "or stay and suffer the consequences." Another left. Finally two more in embarrassed silence, their faces covered, slipped out into the night. No one else moved. Parents with small children trembling beside them looked down reassuringly. They fully expected to be gunned down or, at best, to be imprisoned After a few moments of complete silence, the other soldier closed the door, looked back at those who stood against the wall and said, "Keep you hands up - but this time in praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters. We, too, are Christians. We were sent to another house church several weeks ago to a group of believers - "The other soldier interrupted, " . . . but, instead we were converted! We have learned by experience, however, that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot by fully trusted."

Commitment is being all in, not half or three quarters......but Christ has all of me! When we are committed to Him we leave no room for the devil. as a strong family under God's grace. This is what the early church had in common despite the difference in personalities and circumstances. They knew the church was their home and they knew how important it was to be committed at all time. As J C Ryle said “We shall all do well to remember the charge: “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is.” (Heb. 10:25). Never to be absent from God’s house on Sundays, without good reason – never to miss the Lord’s Supper when administered in our own congregation – never to let our place be empty when means of grace are going on, this is one way to be a growing and prosperous Christian. The very sermon that we needlessly miss, may contain a precious word in season for our souls. The very assembly for prayer and praise from which we stay away, may be the very gathering that would have cheered, established, and revived our hearts. We little know how dependent our spiritual health is on little, regular, habitual helps, and how much we suffer if we miss our medicine.” Get plugged in and be committed to those whom God has put in your life....which is the Moosehorn Baptist Church family. So let me ask you! Are you truly getting plugged in? Because the answer to that question is, we either have all things in common or we don’t?   

07 March 2012

Why I Love The Church



Mark 3:31-35

Jesus Christ in all His humanity set the bar for us as believersJesus Christ in all His humanity set the bar for us as a universal churchJesus Christ in all His humanity set the bar for us as a local churchJesus Christ in all His humanity set the bar for us as a familyThe church is a beautiful place to be! The church is a picture of God’s saving mercies to sinners like us:
  • A people who have down falls
  • A people of wicked pasts
  • A people who called out of darkness
  • A people with personal issues and problems
  • A people who need each other for support and encouragement
See the church isn't perfect!
  • It’s a place that has scares
  • It’s a place that has needy people
  • It’s a place that babies spiritually
  • It’s a place that is filled with doubt and fear at times
  • It’s a place that is hard to get along with sometimes
  • It’s a place that we can find comfort
  • It’s a place that has different people from different walks of life
  • It’s a place that has different personalities
  • It’s a place that needs healing and forgiveness
  • It’s a place that seeks the interest of others
  • It’s a place of joy and comfort
  • It’s a place that is full of saved sinners
  • It’s a place that needs help
  • It’s a place that l wouldn't give it for the world
  • It s a place my family and I call home
The Moosehorn Baptist Church is our home......but it’s not only our home! It’s our family. See we need to understand! Jesus came to call people out of their homes. To deny themselves........to pick up their crosses to come follow Him, outside of the home. Hebrews 13:12-13 says these words.....“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.” Paul wrote these words....... “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor 6:14-18. 

God is calling us out of our homes to meet with Him! God is calling the church to come to Him, and be separate. Why? This is where our fellowship and family belongs. It’s the only way we can image Christ to fallen generation. So I want to ask you a question! Why do you come to church?
  • Is it so you can worship with like-minded people who love the LORD?
  • Is it so that you grow deeper in love with Christ through the messages?
  • Is it because you love doctrine [biblical teachings]?
  • Is it because you love LORD and His church [fellow believers]?
  • Is it so that God can use you in the church [Whether it’s serving, praying, comforting, or encouraging]?
Or
  • Is it because you’ll look bad in the community if you don’t?
  • Is it because this is what we've always have done?
  • Is it because you want to see what you can get out of church?
  • Is it because you want your needs meet by others?
  • Is it because this is how you think a person gets saved?
  • Is it because someone pressured or nagged you into going?
  • Is it because it makes you feel good about yourself and it will help you win favour with God?
  • Is it because you want to cause division or be hurtful to someone else?
  • Is it because you love to complain and look down one people and this is the best place to do that?
I don’t say these things to hurt you! I say these things to you..... so that you don’t have a false understanding about why we go to church! See! When a person loves the Gospel and they see their redemption hanging on that tree and then realize the promise of future things they fall deeper in love with Christ and His church.The church whether its locally or universally is much like the Cross.
  • It’s a place that has redeemed people
  • It’s a place that’s ugly at times...but beautiful at the same time.
  • It’s a place where God resides.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." Matt 18:20. Do you realize that God is here! I'm not saying God isn't in our homes or when where alone through the week and this is the only place we will find Him. He is everywhere present.....but He has sanctified this place for himself. He is the One that laid the foundations because He is the Cornerstone and backbone of the church [our church family]. God is here and this why we come....to worship Him in all His glory as His redeemed children. Jesus called us out the camp to come meet Him.....Why? So that He could save us and give us a living hope to tell future generations. Why do we have children in the worship service? So that they can see mom's and dads worshipping the King of kings and Lord of lords. So that our children can see the love we have for God and His people with the hope of them doing the same. Why do I love the church? Here are 10 Biblical Reasons to that question.... to why I love the church.

1. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT WORSHIPS TOGETHER.

Ps 34:3 “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Coming together as an Assembly of God’s called ones singing the same song to the redeeming work found in His Son [Jesus Christ] Nothing is better than singing and opening God’s word with the same passion...and same motivation found through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.God has given us a spirit to worship Him in truth.

2. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT PARTAKES OF THE LORD’S SUPPER TOGETHER.

1 Cor 10:17 “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” The Lord’s Supper is for those who have been purchased and brought into the family of God through Christ. This is a privilege to share with loved ones who have been redeemed by His grace.It’s like a family sitting down eating a meal together and conversing about how great God is for saving us.

3. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT PRAYS TOGETHER.

Eph 6:18 “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” Keeping each and every one of us in prayer as we face the challenges of the week ...being sensitive to those around you.
Whether it’s for those taking care of children.. farming...health issues...marital struggles....personal devotion.....and the strength to stand strong as a church family. Praying for me to lead and guide us closer to Christ.

4. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THE GROWS TOGETHER.

Heb 10:25 “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Coming together as a family to help grow and encourage each other as we face our daily battles. God did not leave us to fight these battles alone! He gave us His Spirit and His children to comfort one another.

5. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT FORGIVES TOGETHER

Eph 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The greatest demonstration of this for the church is that God has forgiven us through the death of His Son and that we’re to do the same towards one another.

6. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT LOVES BEING TOGETHER.

I Cor 12:26-27 “one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. We desperately need each other....because the world doesn't care about your struggles or pain.The church is a body that loves to be around one another to help, comfort, support and strengthen and use the gifts of the SpiritMark Dever said this “You and I cannot demonstrate love, joy, or peace or patience or kindness sitting all by ourselves on an island. No we demonstrate it when the people we have committed to loving give us good reason not to love them, but we do anyway......the church gives a visual presentation of the gospel when we forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us, when we commit to one another as Christ has committed to us.......together we can display the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way we just can’t by ourselves.”

7I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT HAS THE SAME OBJECTIVE TOGETHER.

Eph 4:1-3 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We all have a common purpose and that is to walk worthy according to Christ. The church is a wonderful place to keep each other accountable so that we walk and desire to walk worthy. For the simple reason......it maintains unity in the family.

8I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT LOOKS TO THE FUTURE TOGETHER.

Phil 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” We all have one ambition or hope! And that is to be where He is......to look into the face of the one that called us His child. This is our hope and desire whether by life or death.....Christ is my ultimate joy because of the promises He made to us through His word.

9. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BRING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT IS NOT ASHAMED OF TREASURING THE GOSPEL TOGETHER.

Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” He came to save those who needed saving...you and me! Wretched sinners saved and brought into His house. Remember “when you were an orphan [unregenerate] you didn't adopt the parents [the Godhead]....they adopted you into their family.”

10. I LOVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE IT MEANS BEING PART OF A FELLOWSHIP THAT LOVES GOD TOGETHER.

1 John 1:1-4 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us--that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” John and the disciples knew what matter the most! That’s the one thing we as His children have in common....a family that loves to have fellowship with Him and His redeemed children.

There are thousands of other reasons to love the church! But ultimately it’s all because of Him [Jesus Christ] Without Him we couldn't and wouldn’t love anyone in this place or care about anyone else but ourselves. He is the One that instilled in our hearts a love for Him and His family, His bride. Mark Dever said this.....”you would be foolish to say, “ I'm not a part of the family,” as you would be to cut off your hand or nose.” As Paul said to the Corinthians...“The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 1 Cor 12:21. This is what our church is! A family that has been adopted...redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We bare the name CHRISTIAN....brother and sisters that share the same Father! The church is a personal relationship with Christ and His church. This is why I love the church! My question to you is: Do you? Look at the people around you and answer that question to the 10 reasons why I love the church [biblically]