31 May 2012

Draw Near

Richard Sibbes
    But for me it is good to be near God;
        I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
        that I may tell of all your works.
(Psalm 73:28 ESV)

Labour to be near him. God is near to all that call upon him. There is not a minute in all of our life but we must either be near to God or we will be undone. We must grow in our understanding and fill our thoughts with him. The soul is never at rest till it rests in him. The soul grows in the Spirit and finds sweet communion. Our affections mount up  in prayer as in a fiery chariot to hear him speak to us, seeking comfort in our distresses. Draw near to him in praise. This is the daily work of the angels and saints in heaven. Let us lift up our hearts with joy inexpressible (1 Peter 1:8). (From Voices from the Past, edited by Richard Rushing, Banner of truth, page 60.)

Where was your heart, mind and thoughts today? Did you draw near?

29 May 2012

Denying Self

    Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8 ESV)

Those who do not deny themselves cannot follow Jesus. ...Those who deny themselves wipe out their former wicked lives. For example, those who were once immoral deny their immoral selves and become self controlled.... Those who become righteous don't confess themselves but Christ. ...As a result, let every thought, every purpose, every word, and every action become a denial of ourselves and a testimony about Christ and in Christ. I am persuaded that the perfect person's action is a testimony to Christ Jesus and that abstinence from every sin is a self of self, leading to Christ. Those people are crucified with Christ. They take up their own crosses to follow him who, for our sake, bears His own cross.(From Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers, Hendrickson Publishers, page 3.)

    Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24 ESV)

Have we picked up our cross today or did we hurry past it and follow our desires?

28 May 2012


    And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
(Mark 7:14-23 ESV)

26 May 2012

Why Mortify the Flesh?

John Owen
What were your first thoughts this morning? Thoughts of work, mowing the lawn, fixing the sink, bbq'ing tonight with friends, or watching or attending some sporting event this afternoon? Maybe your first thoughts should have been on the fact that the Lord's "mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is [His] faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV) And following on the heels of that praise you and I both should should move on to mortifying our flesh for those sins that beset us the most. "Put to death [mortify] therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Colossians 3:5 ESV) For John Owen wrote, Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? You must always be at it while you live; do not take a day off from this work; always be killing sin or it will be killing you.*

Owen directs us to Romans 8:13 where we have clear direction to mortify the deeds of the flesh:

    For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 ESV)

And the five points of this text reveal:

1. To whom it is directed: 'You believer.'
2. The condition: 'If you.'
3. The means of accomplishment: 'The Spirit.'
4. A duty: 'Put to death the deeds of the body.'
5. A promise: 'You will live."*

So take a moment right now to consider those sins that trouble you the most and how you'll put them to death today.

*From The Mortification of Sin: Abridged and made easy to read by Richard Rushing, Banner of Truth, pgs. 1&5.

25 May 2012

True Benefits

We begin a new evening sermon series this week on the Benefits of Redemption.

    Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:20-28 ESV)

23 May 2012

Matthew to Acts Survey Week 9

We are coming to a close of our Matthew to Acts Survey this week with part 1 of our overview of the book of Acts.

22 May 2012

Rethinking our Attitude Toward Work

1. God always gives us enough in order to do what he has required.
2. Whatever the Lord gives us now, he will ask us about later, expecting us to diligently work with these resources to further his kingdom.
 The above is from a post by Hugh Whelchel post on the Gospel Coalition blog. He brings out some crucial Biblical points about work and how we have been misled by society to think unbiblically about our employments. Most of us could, or rather should, rethink our our attitude toward work and success. Read the entire article here.

21 May 2012

Traditions - Mark 7:1-13

    Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
    “‘This people honors me with their lips,
        but their heart is far from me;
    in vain do they worship me,
        teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
    You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
    And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do. (Mark 7:1-13 ESV)   

19 May 2012

18 May 2012

The Purpose of Heaven

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
(Colossians 1:15-16 ESV)

17 May 2012

A Few Thoughts on Visiting the Sick

Few of us think about visiting the sick.  For whatever reason we leave it to our pastor or elder or that other "gifted person in the congregation that performs visitations so well." Actually, we should all be visiting and comforting the sick as Providence allows (Matthew 25:45). To get us all started, here's a few pointers from David Dickson to consider as we prepare to head out.

-Often weak and sensitive, they [the sick or afflicted] are very susceptible of kindness, and grateful for it. Some may require systematic instruction in the truth; and even where this is not necessary the elder [or visitor] will find it add greater usefulness and interest to his successive visits to speak a little on some one important truth; and he will not find this without fruit.

-In visiting sick people or invalids we should avoid noise or abruptness. A low, quiet voice is usually soothing and pleasant to them, especially if they are weak and nervous.

-Don’t let us strain them with anything requiring long or continuous attention, and let our change from one subject to another be natural and easy. Such visits should not be of long duration, and it is best for us to leave immediately after engaging in prayer, giving them perhaps one text to keep near their heart.

-To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction is our privilege and duty, and to carry with us such messages from the word of God as are fitted to bind up the broken heart. In cases of sudden and severe affliction we may be able to do little more than weep with them that weep, giving the afflicted some word from the merciful and faithful High Priest, and perhaps taking hold of the sufferer’s hand—an act of sympathy which has often a wonderful power to calm and soothe in times of deep distress.

-The elder [or visitor] will seek, along with the minister, that a time of affliction may be a time of blessing to a family. It is not necessarily so, nor always so, for trial is not in itself sanctifying. But at such a time the affections are stirred and the mind opened to hear what would not have been listened to at another time. It is often a crisis in a family’s history. Let us seek wisdom to win souls at such a time; kindness and sympathy from us then will never be forgotten. It is after the excitement is over that a bereavement is most felt.

-Let the bereaved ones feel that in this cold and selfish world they have in their elder [or visitor] at least one human friend left. We may look in upon them in the evening occasionally ... trying in some measure to fulfill the promise, “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”

Dickson, David (1883-01-01). The Elder and His Work (Kindle Location 253-283, emphasis added).   Kindle Edition.

16 May 2012

Why I Believe

Cornelius Van Til
I was brought up on the Bible as the Word of God. Can I, now that I have been to school, still believe in the God of the Bible? Well, can I still believe in the sun that shown on me when I walked as a boy in wooden shoes in Groningen? I could believe in nothing else if I did not, as back of everything, believe in this God. Can I see the beams underneath the floor on which I walk? I must assume or presuppose that the beams are underneath. Unless the beams were underneath, I could not walk on the floor. ( Taken from Why I Believe in God: Toward A Reformed Apologetic by Cornelius Van Til).

Matthew to Acts Survey Week 8

Part two of our review of the Gospel of John

15 May 2012

GCD - Discipling Through Anger - Psalm 4

    Be angry, and do not sin;
        ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
(Psalm 4:4 ESV)

We confes that...

Our Father, we confess that our longing for the comforts of this world has been extreme and sinful.  We have loved the gifts more than we have loved the Giver.  We have labored for bread that does not satisfy.  We have fallen short.  Help us to see that the things we pine for in this life are mere shadows while you are the substance.  Enable us to discern that they are quicksand while you are the rock.  Assist us to believe that they are just ripples while Jesus is the anchor.  Accept His worthiness for our unworthiness, his sinlessness for our transgressions, his fullness for our emptiness, his righteousness for our dead works, and his glory for our shame.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

14 May 2012

Healing the Crowds Mark 6:53-56

    When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
(Mark 6:53-56 ESV)

Lake Gennesaret today

12 May 2012

Walking on Water

    Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
(Mark 6:45-52 ESV)

11 May 2012

The Basis for Heaven

    Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
        for his steadfast love endures forever!
(1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV)

09 May 2012

Tough Talk on Sactification

A.W. Tozer
I love it...

I do not know why you fear sanctification and I do not care. But I do say this: you had better mortify your flesh, or your flesh will do something terrible to you. In these terrible days in which we live, we have not only accepted the flesh in its morally fine manifestation as being quite proper, but we have created an ignoble theology of "extenuating circumstances," by which we excuse the flesh. (Taken from Success and the Christian by A.W. Tozer, page 44.)

How many of us need to hear that? How many need to hear it just that bluntly? I do.

08 May 2012

Overriding Our Unbelief - A Prayer

    When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.
(Acts 12:12-16 ESV)

 Heavenly Father, thank you for chronicling this almost comical prayer meeting. Your people knock on the door of heaven for Peter’s release and then Peter knocks on their door, a free man, and they refuse to believe it’s Peter!
     As much as it exposes our unbelief, in a far greater way it highlights your faithful commitment to do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. This story describes the kind of praying that goes on in my heart way too often. I dutifully pray, but faithlessly doubt. Forgive my unbelief, Father, and override it.
     There are many things I’m praying about right now for which I’d love to hear “Peter knocking at the door.” I have no need to be considered a great prayer warrior. I’m not looking for wonderful stories to tell others as a testimony to my faith. I simply want the greatness of your glory and grace to be on public display. May the name of Jesus be lifted high, in clear and compelling ways. Astonish us, Father, astonish me.
     Father, I pray for your children who are facing intense persecution in many parts of the world. Strengthen them, encourage them, and grant miracles of provision and deliverance. In the Sudan, Nigeria, India, to name a few… cause the gospel to spread like wildfire. Give your sons and daughters so much joy, peace and love that their persecutors will be convicted and fall down and worship you.
     Father, I pray for the courageous men and women who are laboring in the dark world of human trafficking. Bring justice to bear; deliver women and children from the evil of slavery in every form. Protect the rescuers and provide good aftercare for those rescued. Multiply the financial and people resources of those who are risking much to bring and end to human slavery.
     Father, I pray for an outpouring of your Holy Spirit on many broken relationships weighing heavy on my heart. Disconnected and dissolving marriages of friends, longstanding friendships now strained and chilled, churches divided over petty things and heavy things… Father, since “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love”, melt hard hearts, thaw frozen hearts, heal hurting hearts. It’s never just about “moving on”, but moving towards you.
     Write fresh stories of redemption and reconciliation—stories that will reveal the beauty of Jesus and the power of the gospel. Free us from ourselves for yourself. Astonish us, Father; astonish us as you override our unbelief. We long to hear Peter banging on our doors. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name. - Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

06 May 2012


Sometimes we let our sins get the best of us. We strive and strive and still fall short. There are many reasons for this but at the end of the day we are burdened. Heavily burdened with the weight of our sins. What? Is there no hope or relief?  There is. Look to what Charles Spurgeon had to say on this and look to the verse he cites, Psalm 46:1.

Art thou burdened with this day's sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood: use it, saint, use it. Has a sense of guilt returned upon thee? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be proved again and again. Come to Him at once for cleansing. Dost thou deplore thy weakness? He is thy strength: why not lean upon Him? Dost thou feel naked? Come hither, soul; put on the robe of Jesus' righteousness. Stand not looking at it, but wear it. Strip off thine own righteousness, and thine own fears too: put on the fair white linen, for it was meant to wear.

    God is our refuge and strength,
        a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46:1 ESV) 

05 May 2012

"I need to bring God's purpose to this work"

So when we look at our jobs, for instance, no matter what our job is, we view it not as our purpose in life but rather as where God has sovereignly placed us for the purpose of making Christ known and his name great. If you are a teacher, if you are a politician, if you are a businessman, if you are in agriculture, if you are in construction, if you are in technology, if you are in the arts, then you should not be saying, "I need to find my life's purpose in this work," but rather "I need to bring God's purpose to this work." (From The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler.)

How many of us have fallen into this trap as products of our self-serving society? Many of us? Most of us? May we take time this weekend to reexamine our motives and desires and bring them into line with the Gospel.

04 May 2012

The Nature of Heaven part 2

    I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
(2 Corinthians 12:2-4 ESV)

03 May 2012

On Loving God

Admit that God deserves to be loved very much, yea, boundlessly, because He loved us first, He infinite and we nothing, loved us, miserable sinners, with a love so great and so free. This is why I said at the beginning that the measure of our love to God is to love immeasurably. For since our love is toward God, who is infinite and immeasurable, how can we bound or limit the love we owe Him? ... ‘I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my strength, in whom I will trust’ (Ps. 18.1f). He is all that I need, all that I long for. My God and my help, I will love Thee for Thy great goodness; not so much as I might, surely, but as much as I can. I cannot love Thee as Thou deservest to be loved, for I cannot love Thee more than my own feebleness permits. I will love Thee more when Thou deemest me worthy to receive greater capacity for loving; yet never so perfectly as Thou hast deserved of me. ‘Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written’ (PS. 139.16). Yet Thou recordest in that book all who do what they can, even though they cannot do what they ought. Surely I have said enough to show how God should be loved and why. But who has felt, who can know, who express, how much we should love him. (Taken from On Loving God by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.)

02 May 2012

Matthew to Acts Survey Week 7

We delve into the Gospel of John this week in our survey.

Gospel of John Outline

I. Prologue 1:1-18

II. Signs of the Messiah 1:19 - ch. 12

III. Ministry to Disciples ch. 13 - ch. 20

IV. Epilogue ch. 21

01 May 2012

The Secret Things

    “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
(Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

When something happens that we do not understand, we have a choice to make. We can demand to to know the secret things, doubt God, and possibly even become angry and bitter against Him; or we can surrender our limited understanding and trust God. We do not know everything, but we do know that we have a God who can be trusted to make no mistakes. He is holy and righteous and good, and in this we rejoice. (Taken from  Comfort Those Who Grieve: Ministering God's Grace In Times of Loss, by Paul Tautges, page 97.)