Archive for April, 2015

The Difference (Hebrews 5; Song of Solomon 5; Psalm 42-43; Numbers 7)

April 30, 2015

“So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, You are my Son, today I have begotten you.”  Hebrews 5:5

Each day retail businesses do their best to market their products with a wide variety of schemes.  One that is common is the slogan that says, “Our product is different.”  This same scheme is used by religions around the world in which they are trying to convince followers of the difference in their religion above all others.

Consider this fact, “Christianity is different from any other religion in the world.”

One might ask, in response, “What makes Christianity different?”  Answer, “Jesus Christ.”

Think it through:

Hebrews chapter 5 gives us both comparisons as well as contrast between the Jewish High Priest and Christianity’s High Priest.  First we see the comparisons:

  • both were appointed to act on behalf of men, Vs: 1,4, 5-6
  • Both were to act gently with the ignorant and wayward, Vs: 2,7

Now we see the contrasts:

  • One was beset with sin and the other was not, Vs: 2,9
  • One was offering sacrifices for his sin and the other for humanities sin, Vs: 3, 8
  • One struggled with obedience and the other was perfect in obedience, Vs: 3, 8
  • One was just a man the other was the God-man, Vs: 1,5-6

What makes Christianity different is Christ!!  It is Christ who is our Savior and it is Christ who is our model of how we are to live.

Our response:

I could not help but stand up and shout, “praise be unto the one true and living God.”  This very day, we live in a world where many people are blinded to the truth of the gospel.  It is my prayer that you and I would see the difference in Christ and I pray we would passionately go after God with a zeal that would communicate the difference to the world.

Finally getting to rest (Hebrews 4; Numbers 6; Psalm 40-41; Song of Solomon 4)

April 29, 2015

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”  Hebrews 4:11

Wow!  It’s hard to believe that I have been back home in the states for one week.  When we returned last Wednesday evening I thought, “I want to get some rest.”  But one week later, I am still thinking the same thing.

Question:  “Are you in need of rest?”

Think it through:

In Hebrews 4 God is challenging the people of God to focus on the rest that is to come for the people of God.  We see the sad story of the people of Israel who did not enter God’s rest, Vs: 1-7 because of disobedience.

We are reminded in Vs: 8 that God is not talking about a rest from labor in this life, because even Israel did not rest when they entered the earthly promised land.

The rest God is speaking of is the rest we will have when we have entered the heavenly promised land, Vs: 9-10

As long as we are living on the earth we are called to strive to enter God’s eternal rest.  Question, “How does this happen?”  Answer, “We must walk God’s path to rest.”

  • This path begins with faith, “We must be united in faith,” Vs: 2
  • This path is marked by focus, Vs: 3-10

We have been called to obedient living through a desire to walk according to God’s plan for our lives which is outlined in God’s Word, Hebrews 4:12.  The Psalmist delighted in this:  “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart,” Psalm 40:8. Those who took the vow of the Nazarite in Numbers 6 delighted to walk according to God’s will.

  • The path is filled with fellowship, Vs: 14-16

Christ walks with us along the path both directing and delivering us in every battle.

Our response:

God has called us to work while it is day.  The night is coming (moment when our labor is done).  Each day I find rest (earthly) as I go to my bed knowing I have done the will of God.  Anything less causes me to fail to have rest.

“Dear Father, I want to rest in your work as I strive to love you and make disciples of all people.”

Restoring Order in the Family (Numbers 5; Psalm 39; Hebrews 3)

April 28, 2015

“When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the Lord, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed.  And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong,” Numbers 5:6-7

I cannot imagine how the first readers of the book of Numbers must have felt as they heard the work of God from Moses mouth.  If the time line is correct, the wilderness years are at their end.  All over the age of 20 (when they entered the wilderness wandering) have now or are about to die. Moses directions must have brought great clarity to their lives.

Dr. Sproul writes the following: “The events of Numbers vividly portray the faithfulness of the covenant God despite the failures of an erring humanity.”  Cited from Pg. 193, “The Reformation Study Bible”

Think it through:

Chapter 4 gives us three fallen scenes in humanities story.  Each scene helps us to see God’s faithfulness.

I.  In Vs: 1-5, all lepers are removed from the camp.

II.  In Vs: 6-11, whoever repents is restored.

III.  In Vs: 12-31, adultery is revealed.

In each case God clearly identifies the failures of humanity.  But at the same time, God is pointing man to his need of a Redeemer.

  • It will only be Christ who can remove the spiritual leprosy we are born with, “Jesus suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood,” Hebrews 13:12
  • It was Christ alone who offered to God a just payment for the proper restitution for our sins, “And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness,” I John 1:7
  • It was Christ who drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath taking our place, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Never the less, not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:43

In this moment I understand how the people must have felt.  With every commandment and every movement they would see how only Christ could restore order!!!

Our response:

We must give praise to our God for restoring order in Christ!!!  Moses was a great man, but one greater than Moses came, Jesus Christ, Hebrews 3:1-5!!!

This day, you and I will engage a world that is broken and in desperate need of order being restored.  Yes, we must seek to be involved in the fight.  One pastor said it best, “Our contribution to the struggle is the gospel of Jesus Christ!!!”  This is the only contribution that has eternal benefits!!!

Paying attention to the distractions (Hebrews 2; Psalm 38; Song of Solomon 2, Numbers 2)

April 27, 2015

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”  Song of Solomon 2:15

Is it possible that great things are wasted because of lack of attention to the small details?  Answer, “yes.”

This mornings readings includes Song of Solomon 2 where we read of the love of a man in woman being described in rich terms of a vineyard that is ready for the harvest.  The scene is amazing in how great love is between a man and woman who are committed to God and to each other.

Think in through:

At the near close of the chapter we see a warning being given by Solomon in Vs: 15.  The only possible destructive force against the vineyard would be the young foxes that could destroy the fruit of the vine. R.C. Sproul writes, “The whole verse is a wish by the lovers that nothing should be allowed to interfere with their lovemaking,” Cited from Pg. 939, “The Reformation Study Bible.”

Question:  “Are you paying attention to the small details of your life?”  Be assured the enemy plants young foxes in the vineyard of your faith. Satan’s desire is to destroy the great harvest God intends.  Ours is the task of protecting our lives from his attacks.

Question:  “How do we pay attention?”  Answer, “We spend time in fervent prayer and in focused study of God’s Word.”  Each day we must be spiritually alert!!!  Solomon prayed, “Catch the foxes for us!!!”

Our response:

This day I pray, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

This could be a great day, if you are paying attention!!!

What we must learn (Titus 3; Ecclesiastes 11; Psalm 35)

April 24, 2015

“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works so as to help causes of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful,” Titus 3:14

It was the last leg of our flight back to the USA.  We landed in Washington DC to wait 8 long hours before our last flight home. Each member of our team faced this as we faced every other moment, “with an awareness that God’s plans were being accomplished.”  Later in the afternoon I was to see God’s plan.  We moved to our gate about 3 hours before departure.  We sat down by a man who later identified himself as Muslim.  For the next hour and a half we spent time-sharing our different viewpoints about who is God.

This morning I found myself overjoyed with Titus 3.  Here we discover two truths that we must learn:

  • We have been delivered by the work of Christ, Vs: 4-5

It is by the Grace of God that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of sin outlined in Vs: 3. It is in the kindness and love of God that we have been delivered by the work of Christ on the cross.  We could not save ourselves.  We could not do good works for His glory unless we had been brought to the truth of our needing to be born again, Vs: 5.

  • We have been delivered to work for Christ, Vs: 8-15

Now that we are followers of Christ our lives have been radically altered by God. We have become people who have God’s agenda before us and in us!!!  We live for His glory alone!!!  This very day I want to learn how to dedicate myself more and more to good works for the glory of God!!!

This is the fundamental difference in our faith.  We believe in Christ work for our salvation where as the Muslim believe we must follow Christ and Mohammad to earn our own salvation.

Please pray for our friend that He might embrace Christ finished work on the cross.

Our Common Faith (Titus 1; Ecclesiastes 9; Psalm 33)

April 22, 2015

“To Titus, my true child in a common faith,” Titus 1:4

Thanks to each of you who have prayed for us during our trip to Malawi.  As I write this blog I am sitting in the D.C. airport waiting for an afternoon flight to make our final leg home.

Here the airport is busy.  One of our guys spotted a prayer chapel and I decided to go in to read our scriptures for the day.  As I read Paul’s words to Titus, “our common faith,” I realized I was sitting a chapel of inter-faith.  This was a place where all religions were accepted.  Was this what Paul was saying to Titus?

Answer, “N0.”  There is only one way to heaven, through Jesus Christ.  What we have in common is our faith in Jesus Christ.  The church at Crete needed to see this faith in terms of God’s grace at work.

In our 30 plus hour journey we have seen people of many different faiths.  What is so sad is that there best efforts fall short of the mark.  Please join us in praying that God helps us to get the gospel to the world.

The Toughest Day (Ecclesiastes 7; II Timothy 3; Psalm 31)

April 20, 2015

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider, God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him,” Ecclesiastes 7:14

Yesterday was our toughest day so far in our mission trip to Malawi.  We traveled two hours deep into the African bush. The road often became simply a grass-covered path where that often our missionary was unsure of the road ahead.  With each passing village we could see the poverty increasing.  Finally we came to almost the end of the road.  Suddenly a young man sprang out into the road and motioned with excitement for us to turn onto his path.  We turned and then found the river bed packed with bricks so we could drive our 4 by 4’s across.

Next we were met with rejoicing people beside the road who sang as we drove the last few minutes of our journey!!!  To our left was the remains of the church that had fallen due to the recent floods.  All around were the fields that had been destroyed.  No hope of grain for 2015, they had planted cotton in hopes of maybe selling it somewhere to be able to buy food.

Over under some trees we saw where the people had set up for our church.  This is where they had been meeting for the last few months except for days that it rained them out.

Our service was amazing as we saw six people respond to the gospel.  For me there was the agonizing reality of poverty and evil in the world!!!  This mornings readings from Solomon reminded me of how clearly God is in control of both riches and poverty.

I will not understand why God has chosen to bless our team with all we have in the US.  I do believe, that in part, God has blessed us so that we would be a blessing to the world around us.

How does this happen?

  • Through the giving of our resources to meet the needs around the world.
  • Through the sharing of the gospel so that men, women, boys and girls would be saved.
  • Through the giving of our children for the cause of the gospel.

Consider the third way for a moment.  As I finished preaching yesterday, I looked to my left where John was sitting broken by what he was seeing.  I was reminded that my children, other than the gospel, are my most valued treasures.  I quietly walked over to John and whispered into his ear, “John, if you want to make the greatest difference in the world, give your life to this work for Jesus.”

In that moment I noticed Pastor Daniel, Pastor Ben, Brother Ed, and the rest of the team.  These also are men in whom I have invested in.  They are my greatest treasures.  I pleaded with them all, “take the gospel to the nations.”  This is our greatest impact!!!

The night was long as I could not get the broken people off my mind.  But the night was bearable because I know we are raising up people who will give their lives to the gospel!!!

Please join us in this cause!!!

Who is guarding who? (II Timothy 1; Ecclesiastes 5; Psalm 28-29)

April 18, 2015

“…I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”  II Timothy 1:12

Once again my morning began in the quietness of Malawi Africa.  I could hear the quiet footsteps of the ladies who come each morning to the water spicket to carry water back to their home.  Their steps were so quiet that most would not even know they had walked by.

Quickly I was reminded of the Word of God in regard to today’s reading.  Timothy could be at a cross roads in his ministry, “He is being challenged to stir up God’s gift.”  For some reason, his faith is pictured as a fire that is simply smoldering instead of being a flaming fire.  Could it be that he was letting his guard down?

Consider Paul’s teaching:

  • The Lord always is guarding his people

In II Timothy 1:8-14 we are reminded of how much God had done for his people.  Notice 4 amazing things the Lord has done:

  1. He has provided salvation, Vs: 8-10
  2. He has provided the Holy Spirit, Vs: 6-7
  3. He has provided the Scripture, Vs: 13-14
  4. he has provided fellow saints to walk the path with us, Vs: 1-6

In this moment we see how the Lord guards his people.  In this moment my trust in him keeps me focused.

  • The liberated are to guard their own faith

Each day we are to be on guard.  Take a peak back to I Timothy 6:11-16.  Here is how we are to guard our faith:

  1. Flee ungodly passions
  2. Focus on godly passions
  3. Fight with a godly passion
  4. Focus on godly passion

In this moment I discover how I also have a great responsibility to guard my faith.

Bottom line:  “Daily I must trust in God to guard my faith as I daily go about the task of guarding my faith.”

Comforting the Poor (Ecclesiastes 4; I Timothy 6; Psalm 26-27)

April 17, 2015

“Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun.  And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they have no one to comfort them, Ecclesiastes 4:1

This morning I arose to a beautiful and quite moment of reflection before the sun came up in Malawi Africa.  All I could hear were the occasional moments of birds in the trees and the rustling of the wind.  It seemed, for a moment, that all was right in the world.  But reality came flooding back as I considered our task for the day.

Our team will work today with Hope For The Futures ministry with orphan care.  Brother Ovi has literally made an eternal impact on the lives of 70 plus orphans.  I am so thankful for the members of Kings Baptist Church in Mt. Washington Ky. who have for 17 months faithfully given to this ministry.

Today we will see first hand the difference that this made when people comfort the poor in Jesus name.

Think it through:

Solomon is continuing to investigate all the vanity in the world.  Here in chapter 4 we see first hand the vanity of those who work for selfish gain.  The side bar for many is the collateral damage that comes to the poor who are caught in this vicious trap.

It was very heartbreaking to share with the pastors the following truth from David Platt’s new book, “Counter Culture,” “There is enough food produced every day in the world to care for all people.  But because of men’s vanity 1 out of every 4 African people will starve today.”

The question is, “What can we do?”

  • We must partner with the poor among us!

We see this as a great statement but do we see what stalls the hands and feet?  There are two things we have to overcome:

  1. We have to overcome the trap of selfish stock-piling.
  2. We have to overcome the trap of short-sighted living.

God has given each of us a great responsibility in His kingdom work, James 1:27.  God will reward us greatly when we word for His glory!

  • We must point the poor to their only hope, Jesus Christ, Vs: 12b, “a three-fold cord is hard to break.”

When Christ becomes Lord of both the poor and the partner of the poor, everything changes.  The poor have a desire to worship the Lord through labor and love.  The partner has the same desire so they will partner in learning how to develop a place of work and a place of worship.

Today, I want to hear from God in how FBC Jackson can comfort the poor!!!

An Unexpected conversation (Ecclesiastes 3; Psalm 25; I Timothy 5)

April 16, 2015

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Yesterday we finished the pastors conference here in Malawi with 32 pastors praising God for being able to hear and understand God’s Word.  As the men were leaving, some were going to walk many miles while others would ride their bikes to very far away destinations.  Little did I know of the impact of one of the men!!!

He was the oldest pastor who had traveled the farthest.  He approached me to, in my mind, to give thanks for the monetary gift provided by our home churches.  But what happened was unexpected.  He asked if I would take a picture of his family on Sunday when we come to his remote village to preach on Sunday.  His purpose, “so we would remember to pray for him.”

What happened next was over the top humbling.  He said, “I have prayed for you every day since our last pastor’s conference.”  I wondered how he had remembered.  He responded, “You gave me your personal pen last year and I have placed in my house where I see it every day, which reminds me to pray for you!!!”

Shamefully I do not even remember giving him the pen.  Solomon writes about there being a time for everything.  For me, the time was to give thanks for the amazing sacrifice of one man for an unworthy man.

Thin it through:

Our God has given each of us so much!!!  We should take time every day to praise Him.  We should also never discount the impact our lives can have even when we do not know it!!!

I want to challenge you to give a cup of cold water to thirsty people in Jesus name!!!  John 7:36-37

I want to challenge you to be alert to every opportunity to be a witness for Christ.  In heaven there will be people who could say, “thanks for the pen!!!”