31 October 2012

Ephesians Study Week 10

 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. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says,    
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

    (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.  (Ephesians 4:1-16 ESV)

30 October 2012

Abiding in Christ - Jerry Bridges

Are we trying to live out our Christian lives in our own power or through the Holy Spirit? Jerry Bridges has some very helpful thoughts on this...

So the difference between “Lord, help me” and “Lord, enable me” is a matter of partial trust in our self-effort versus total reliance on Christ.

The abiding-in-Christ approach (“ Lord, enable me”) differs greatly from the “let go and let God” approach in its recognition that as renewed human beings we are called to use all the faculties of our being — our minds, our affections, and our wills — in order to live out the Christian life but to do so in total dependence on the Holy Spirit’s working in our minds, our affections, and our wills, empowering us with the power of the risen Christ. “Abiding in Christ” does not denote an absence of conscious effort on our part; rather, it indicates an all-out effort on our part, but an effort made in total dependence on the Holy Spirit to mediate the life of Christ to us.

The awareness that we are in Christ and that through abiding in Him we will “bear much fruit” (John 15: 5) should not promote passivity on our part. Rather, it should promote vigorous activity, but activity that is combined with total dependence on Him for the wisdom and strength to carry it through to completion.

Bridges, Jerry (2012-09-14). True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia (Kindle Locations 362-376). Navpress. Kindle Edition.

29 October 2012

Cross to Glory - Mark 9:9-13

    And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
(Mark 9:9-13 ESV)


26 October 2012

The Gospel - Colossians 1:5-8

...because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
    (Colossians 1:5-8 ESV)

25 October 2012

Confession of Sin

Below is the confession of sin from last week's service at Redeemer Church. I believe it very appropriate for us all.
Our Father, we are guilty of sins both great and small, both public and private, both unplanned and premeditated.  Times without number we have failed to fulfill our duty and transgressed your commands.  Our thoughts have wandered, our beliefs have wavered, our desires have been tainted with the corruption of sin.  You have repeatedly shown yourself faithful to us and your mercies have been fresh each morning.  Yet, how often have we refused to trust you?  to thank you?  to love you as we should?  We confess ourselves to be unworthy and undeserving of the very least of your blessings.  Please forgive us for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

23 October 2012

Owen on the Love of the Father

Ignorance of our mercies and our privileges is our sin as well as the cause of our troubles. We do not listen to the voice of the Spirit, 'that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God'. This makes Christians sad when they might be rejoicing. It makes then weak when they could be strong. How few Christians are actually acquainted with this great privilege of having a loving fellowship with the Father.

...This free choice of the Father as to whom he would love, and that he would love them, gives life and being to his love. It also gives reason why he loves and gives value to his love (Rom. 9:11; Eph. 1:3,4; Tit. 3:5; James 1:18).


You need to believe that God loves you, that his heart is filled with love to you and accept his word for it. You will never experience the sweetness of his love until you receive it. You must, then, continually remind yourself that God loves you and embraces you with his free eternal love. When the Lord is, by his Word, presented as a Father who loves you, then think about it and accept it. Then embrace him by faith and let your heart be filled with his love. Set your whole heart to receive his love and let your heart be bound with the cords of this love. (From Communion with God by John Owen, Abridged and Made Easy to Read by R.J.K. Law, Banner of Truth Trust, pages 27-30.)

22 October 2012

The Transfiguration Mark 9:1-8

    And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
    And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, 
they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
    (Mark 9:1-8 ESV)

19 October 2012


    We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel...
(Colossians 1:3-5 ESV)

18 October 2012

Can Joy be a Duty?

    Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)
First, we must say that joy is part of your duty. The Bible says, “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16). And in regard to the duty of giving, it says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). In regard to the duty of service, it says, “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps. 100:2). In regard to the duty of mercy, it says do it “with cheerfulness” (Rom. 12:8). In regard to the duty of afflictions, it says, “Count it all joy” (James 1:2). We simply water down the divine command when we call someone to half their duty. 

The second thing we must say when we tell a disconsolate person to “do their job” is that while they do their job, they should probably be repenting and confessing the sin of gloomy faith. I say “probably” because even in cases where the main cause is physical, there is probably some element of sinful pride or self-pity mingled with it. I am aware that this may sound like an added burden to the one who is in spiritual darkness. But it is not an added burden. If it is a burden at all, it is already there and not added by calling it what it is. Failing to rejoice in God when we are commanded to rejoice is sin.*

This is so very powerful. How often to do we languish in our sadness exchanging joy for self pity. I'm not making light of the difficult Providences that come our way - not at all. Yet we do have joy in Christ; it is there, it can be embraced and it will change our hearts. Stand firm and start rejoicing and strive to leave that gloomy faith behind.

*Piper, John (2006-12-14). When the Darkness Will not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God - and Joy (Kindle Locations 454-455). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

17 October 2012

Yeah, Study Your Wife - Tim Hawkins

Ephesians Study Week 8

    Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
    (Ephesians 3:7-13 ESV)

16 October 2012

Having Joy in Sadness

First, I would say that a Christian, no matter how dark the season of his sadness, never is completely without joy in God. I mean that there remains in his heart the seed of joy in the form, perhaps, of only a remembered taste of goodness and an unwillingness to let the goodness go. This is not the “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). It’s not the joy that we have known at times and fight to regain. But it is a fragment of such joy—like a man who sits in prison and pulls out a tattered picture of his wife...*

But the joy is there. Cling onto it, remember it, savor it, strive after it. It is there. We have joy in Christ today and in that He has called us. Don't let go. Bury yourself in the Word and prayer and rely on your fellow sojourners to see you through. God will enable you through your difficulty.

*Piper, John (2006-12-14). When the Darkness Will not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God - and Joy (Kindle Locations 437-440). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

15 October 2012

Coming After Christ

    And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
    (Mark 8:34-38 ESV)

13 October 2012

Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship 2012 Conference

On October 26th-27th, come and hear Don McNeil 
speak about the Reformation.
Northern Ohio Reformed Fellowship (NORF) is sponsoring a conference at Faith Presbyterian Church, with lectures on Friday Oct. 26th at 7:00 p.m.,
and Saturday Oct. 27th at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Preregister by emailing Kate Tasseff at faith.pca.akron@gmail.com with your name(s) and days which you will be attending.
The cost is $5 per person, $10 per family. Please pay upon arrival at the conference.
Don McNeil’s general topic for the conference will be “Religious Persecution During the Reformation.” More specific details about the lectures will be released soon.

Don McNeill serves with MTW and Africa Inland Mission in the areas of Theological Education. He is on staff at Westminster Theological College & Seminary in Uganda.

Don and Fran were reared in Mississippi and met at MS State where both received a Bachelor of Science. Don later earned a Master of Christian Education in 1979 and a Master of Divinity in 1994 from RTS, Jackson. Married for 35 years, they have four children, and grandchildren.


12 October 2012

Grace & Peace - Colossians 1:1-2

    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
    To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
    Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
    (Colossians 1:1-2 ESV)

We begin a new sermon series this week on the Letter to the Colossians.

11 October 2012

Share It - Don't Stuff it -- Proverbs 17:17

    A friend loves at all times,
        and a brother is born for adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 ESV)

"We may also make our complaint to men. So did Job; "Have pity, have pity on me, O my friends; for the hand of God has touched me' (Job 19:21). And it is a mercy if we have any friends that are wise, faithful, and experienced; they are born for such a time as this (Prov. 17:17) ...

I may burden the heart of my friend; but how little does that ease my own! Yet the very opening of the heart to an experienced, tender Christian, is some relief, and the engaging his prayers is more. Thus far you moan safely; in all this there is no danger." (Taken from Facing Grief: Counsel for Mourners by John Flavel, Banner of Truth Trust, pg. 18.)

When you attend worship this Sunday, share those burdens and afflictions you've been shouldering on your own. Church should be a safe place to be yourself, not hide those trials and find some relief in  godly Christian friends who are willing to listen and share your struggles.


10 October 2012

Ephesians Study Week 7

    So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
    (Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV)

09 October 2012

We Must Allow the Mourning - Psalm 142:2-3

"It is much more becoming a Christian ingenuously to open his troubles than to sullenly smother them. There is no sin in complaining to God, but much wickedness in complaining of him. Griefs are eased by groans and heart- pressures relieved by utterance.

This was David's course and constant way, who was a man of afflictions: 'I poured out my complaint before him; I showed him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then you knew my path' (Psa. 142:2-3).

To whom should children go but to their father, to make their moan? Whence may they expect relief and comfort but for him? The 102nd Psalm entitled, 'A Prayer of the afflicted,when he was overwhelmed, and pours out his complaint before the Lord.'" (Taken from Facing Grief: Counsel for Mourners by John Flavel, Banner of Truth Trust, pg. 16.)

Indeed what a patient and loving God we have. One who hears our cries and suffers us to come before him in prayer during our troubles. Don't neglect this wonderful privilege today.

    Hear my prayer, O LORD;
    let my cry come to you!
    Do not hide your face from me
        in the day of my distress!
    Incline your ear to me;
        answer me speedily in the day when I call!
(Psalm 102:1-2 ESV)

08 October 2012

The Things of God - Mark 8:31-33

We resume our exposition series on the Gospel of Mark this week....

    And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
(Mark 8:31-33 ESV)

07 October 2012

Christian, be a Christian

John Piper
Christian, be a Christian: live by faith; walk by the Spirit; serve in the strength that God supplies.

That is, live in such a way that Christ gets trusted, you get helped, people get served, and God gets glory.

When you face a challenge or a temptation, do APTAT:
A: Admit that without Christ you can do nothing.
P: Pray for God's help.
T: Trust in a promise suited to your need.
A: Act with humble confidence in God's help.
T: Thank him for the good that comes.

The first two and the last are acts of prayer. So let us remember that prayer is not a mere devotional interlude in the real business of living; it is the pathway of faith and obedience. There is no other.

John Piper. Sanctification in the Everyday: Three Sermons by John Piper (Kindle Location 277). Desiring God Foundation.

05 October 2012

Suffering: God Purifies

    But he knows the way that I take;
        when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
(Job 23:10 ESV)

04 October 2012

Pleasure in Our Infirmities ?

A verse many of us need to ponder. Calvin does well explaining it for us...

    For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV)

"I take pleasure in infirmities ...Let us take notice, then, that infirmity is a general term, and that under it is comprehended the weakness of our nature, as well as all tokens of abasement. Now the point in question was Paul’s outward abasement. He proceeded farther, for the purpose of showing, that the Lord humbled him in every way, that, in his defects, the glory of God might shine forth the more resplendently, which is, in a manner, concealed and buried, when a man is in an elevated position. He now again returns to speak of his excellences, which, at the same time, made him contemptible in public view, instead of procuring for him esteem and commendation.
For when I am weak, that is — “The more deficiency there is in me, so much the more liberally does the Lord, from his strength, supply me with whatever he sees to be needful for me.” For the fortitude of philosophers is nothing else than contumacy, or rather a mad enthusiasm, such as fanatics are accustomed to have. “If a man is desirous to be truly strong, let him not refuse to be at the same time weak Let him,” I say, “be weak in himself that he may be strong in the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:10.) Should any one object, that Paul speaks here, not of a failure of strength, but of poverty, and other afflictions, I answer, that all these things are exercises for discovering to us our own weakness; for if God had not exercised Paul with such trials, he would never have perceived so clearly his weakness. Hence, he has in view not merely poverty, and hardships of every kind, but also those effects that arise from them, as, for example, a feeling of our own weakness, self-distrust, and humility."

What a loving God we serve who works in our weaknesses through our trials to bring us to Him.

03 October 2012

Ephesians Study Week 6

    Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
    (Ephesians 2:11-22 ESV)

01 October 2012

Laodicea - Revelation 3:14-22

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 
‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
    “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
(Revelation 3:14-22 ESV)