June 2012

Monthly Archive

You Are God’s Sword

Posted by on 29 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Christian Ministry

Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

1 Cor. 1:21 NLT

Christian ministry is the overflow of the Life of God in us. Ministry is not a position, but a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ. We spend time with Christ, Christ reveals himself afresh to us. The overflow of that experience is life, that life encourages and blesses others.

Ministry is communicating “life information” to others: why he loves, what God does, when he speaks, where he works, and how he transforms. Ministry is sharing with others how God has been faithful in our lives and how God will be faithful in theirs. Ministry is encouraging others to trust Christ’s work on the Cross, the Father’s faithful provision, and the Holy Spirit’s consistent guidance.

Christian ministry is God operating through our weaknesses, we become his instrument as a witness to God’s great grace, testimony to God’s faithfulness, and a expression of his love. We are God’s swords used to expose darkness, declare God’s Word, and embody the gospel.

Remember you are God’s sword—His instrument—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne quoted in Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1966), 282.

No Other Happiness

Posted by on 28 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Nicholas Von Zinzendorf

The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29 ESV

At the Desiring God Blog, their editors are discussing sentences that have changed their lives. Not books, but sentences. John Piper speaks of a few lines that have caused him to repent, gain vision, and/or renewed passion. The sentence below is one that has never been far from me: written in almost every Bible I own. It sums up the Christian life for me: our joyful job is to point everyone to the Loving Lamb. This quote of Nicholas Zinzendorf, the leader of the Moravian missions movement, is one long sentence which has helped me keep Jesus front and center in my Christian life (2 Cor. 11:3):

Our method of proclaiming salvation is this: to point out to every heart the loving Lamb, who died for us, and although He was the Son of God, offered Himself for our sins … by the preaching of His blood, and of His love unto death, even the death of the cross, never, either in discourse or in argument, to digress even for a quarter of an hour from the loving Lamb: to name no virtue except in Him, and from Him and on His account, to preach no commandment except faith in Him; no other justification but that He atoned for us; no other sanctification but the privilege to sin no more; no other happiness but to be near Him, to think of Him and do His pleasure; no other self denial but to be deprived of Him and His blessings; no other calamity but to displease Him; no other life but in Him.

Nicholas Ludwig Count Von Zinzendorf quoted in Moravian Church Miscellany (Bethlehem, PA: The Church of the United Brethren, 1852), 234.

“Thus Saith the Lord”: The Gift of Prophecy Today

Posted by on 24 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Gift of Prophecy, Jack Deere

 

Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

1 Thes. 5:19-22 NLT

The gift of prophecy defined (1 Cor. 12:10, 14:1-5):

The word of prophecy is spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible speech, orally-delivered to the church gathered intended for the building up of the people of God [Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 595].

In other words, the gift of prophecy is not planned, we cannot make the Holy Spirit give us a word. Properly, the word is not self-generated, but insight and instruction from the heart of God for the people of God. Biblically, the word of prophecy is shared by an individual for the whole Body of Christ in a language that everyone can understand. A word of prophecy, even if given to just one individual, should be submitted to the whole congregation for discernment (1 Cor. 14:29). Last, a word of prophecy, even if corrective, will encourage the people of God being seasoned with grace and hope.

Prophecy can be both foretelling, insights into the plans of God; and forthtelling, God’s word for our present circumstances. Prophecy is an important gift for the Apostle Paul encouraged us to “earnestly desire” the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14: 1) and prophecy has the ability to “strengthen, encourage, and comfort” the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 14: 3). New Testament prophecy is not inspired like scripture, but insights from the Lord for personal guidance and corporate direction.

The word of prophecy is hope: knowledge that God is aware of our need and actively working to meet that heart-cry. The gift of prophecy points the Church to Christ, calls for obedience to his commands bringing healing and restoration. The gift of prophecy reminds believers of their call to holiness, their dependence on God’s grace, and the faithfulness of God’s promise. Corporately, the prophetic gift calls forth repentance, restoration, and renewal in the Body of Christ. The prophetic gift builds up the Church in her call to be God’s witness to the world (1 Cor. 12:31, 14:1, 39; Heb. 2:3-4).

The purpose for the gift of prophecy: First, the word brings encouragement and direction to the church. Second, prophecy brings comfort that God cares and knows the needs of his children. Third, God can warn us if we are straying from the truth or living lives inconsistent with the life of Christ. Fourth, prophecy confirms direction already received from the Holy Spirit. Prophetic words are not to be directive or used in a manipulative fashion. The word should line-up with what God has been consistently saying to us, individually, and to the church corporately. Last, the prophetic is not to replace or contradict the Bible, the Word of God. We need to be mindful that a prophetic word is not inerrant or infallible, it needs to be constantly weighed.

Evaluating a word of prophecy involves three elements: revelation, interpretation, and application. Revelation: Is a prophetic word genuinely from the Holy Spirit having a sense of eternity? Interpretation: What does the word mean to us? The correct interpretation is important as the revelation. Application: What do we do with this word? (Acts 11:27-30, 21: 7-15).

Now, how do we handle personal prophecy? First, we receive God’s word with joy. Second, we pray for the correct interpretation. Third, we ask God for the right application. Fourth, submit to leadership of the church for confirmation. Since, the gift of prophecy needs to be discerned or weighed its best not to use the expression, “Thus saith the Lord” as an introduction to the delivery of a word (1 Thes. 5:19-22; 1 Cor. 14: 29; 1 John 4:1-3).

Should you introduce your prophetic message by saying, “Thus says the Lord”? The Old Testament prophets frequently did. The New Testament counterpart is, “The Holy Spirit says” (Acts 21:11). When the prophets used this phrase, they were claiming to speak the precise words of God, not their interpretations or applications of the revelation they had received. “Thus says the Lord” allowed no debate. It meant, “This is exactly what God has said. The matter is settled.” The prophets who used the phrase were not usually speaking words of personal prophecy. They had been given divine authority to speak God’s works over nations.

They had proven character and track records. Most were persecuted, and some became martyrs. In my opinion, we should be quick to copy their passion for God, and slower to use their vocabulary.

When we say “Thus says the Lord” to someone, we have left the person no room to disagree. He or she may feel controlled or manipulated because it is intuitively obvious, even if they can’t express it, that we don’t have the same authority as the prophets who spoke over nations. I am not saying that it is always wrong to use “Thus says the Lord,” just that most of us using it do not have the authority to use it. Even the prophets I know who have the most authority rarely use the phrase.

On the other hand, I know good prophets who disagree with me on this issue. They use the phrase constantly when they prophesy. And I’m not going to let their style of prophesying cause me to lose the blessing of their friendship or ministry.

Jack Deere, The Beginner’s Guide to The Gift of Prophecy (Regal, 2011).

 

On Getting Hurt at Church

Posted by on 22 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Self-Pity

 

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Col. 3:13 NLT

We get so easily hurt with our church family, don’t we? We have such high expectations on how others should behave toward us, especially believers. We are so quick to pull the trigger, walk away offended, wounded, and angry. We would rather die old, alone, and offended, than to forgive, release compassion, and work to maintain our relationships. Our indulgence in a victim mentality is at times most pathetic. Our woundedness becomes an excuse to withdraw, lick our wounds, and shed our committments  to our church family.

We need to repent of our self-pity, unforgiveness, and hypocrisy. We were not the first people to be hurt at church nor we will be the last. We need to live what the New Testament teaches about releasing others from their real, or imagined, offenses. Our call is to live the life of service, patience, and unselfishness, the same life we expect from others.

We need to allow the Jesus that lives in us to be patience, forgiveness, and lovingkindness in our church relationships. Our calling as “holy ones” requires us to lay down our lives for others especially those who have offended us. Jesus had every reason to walk away from us for we have disappointed him many times, yet he still loves us, and pours out his mercy upon us.

You must expect that these poor sinners in the Church are going to get hurt and that they are going to hurt each other. To be let down by the Church is not a reason to leave her, any more than to be let down by your family is a reason to give up family life and move to a desert island. Are there any who have not been hurt by members of their family?

In his City of God, St. Augustine wisely observed that it breaks the heart of any good person to see that even in one’s own home one is not in a safe place and that one may be attacked even there by an enemy posing as a friend or even by an enemy who used to be a loved one. If we all gave up on the human race because we have been hurt, we’d have to move to separate planets.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Arise from Darkness

Do We Care About Communing with God?

Posted by on 14 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Abiding in Christ, J. I. Packer, Puritans

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Eph. 3: 17-18 NLT

Communion with God is sharing in the presence of God: speaking and being spoken to by Him. Communion with God is participating in the life of God: an encounter that is loving, grace-filled, and life-changing. Communion with God is experiencing the constant, conscious presence of the Holy Spirit: we are never alone or forgotten. Communion with God is heaven on earth: a foretaste of the life we will live in heaven. Do we make it our daily goal to pursue communing with God as we go about our daily tasks? Is his presence our heart’s desire?

Whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing.

The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not.

The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it.

When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.

Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God.

Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour.

We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.

Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us.

But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God.

J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (reprint ed., Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 215.

HT: Justin Taylor

 

What Binds Us Together

Posted by on 13 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: D. A. Carson

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gal. 3:28 NLT

Christian unity is not about what materially we have in common, but it is about the person, Jesus Christ, who has made us one by forgiveness of sins, renewal of spirit, and transformation of heart.

What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together because they have all been loved by Jesus himself. They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.

D. A. Carson, Love in Hard Places (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 61.

O’ To Be With Him!

Posted by on 07 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Abiding in Christ, Christ in You, Edward Dennett, Plymouth Brethren

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Col. 1:27

A number of years ago, the Holy Spirit graciously revealed to me the beauty and grace that is the Indwelling Christ. After numerous attempts to live the Christian life successfully in my own strength, the Lord brought me to the end of my striving. Frustrated, angry, and depressed, God revealed to me His Son in me. I understood that Christian growth is just as much by faith as when I first believed Christ’s death and resurrection for my salvation. Edward Dennett, a Plymouth Brethren teacher from the 19th century, describes the life that is lived by faith in the power of the Indwelling Christ.

Christ in us, Christ our life, as set forth in Colossians, is to be followed by the display of Christ through us, in the power of the Holy Ghost. For this we need to be much in His company; for the more we are with Him and occupied with Him, the more we shall be transformed into His likeness, and more certainty will the savor of His good ointments be spread abroad. And this will be a mighty testimony to what He is; for in this case His name will, through us, be an ointment poured forth; the sweet savor of the name of Christ will flow forth from our walk as well as from our words.

Edward Dennett cited in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 212.

I Knew a Saint

Posted by on 05 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: My Sermons, Saints

“I Knew a Saint”

Cn. Glenn E. Davis

Jay H. “Dr. Jay” Ferguson Memorial Service

June 3, 2012

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.

1 Cor. 1:2 ESV

“Saint,” is a loaded term. It is used different ways in different Christian faith traditions. Scripture teaches that we are all believers are saints in that we all have been made holy by Christ’s finished work on the Cross and trusted Christ’s righteousness to be our righteousness. However from the earliest days of the church, believers have especially recognized those men and women who looked to Christ in faith, trusted him in great trial, and saw God’s provision in dark times and distressing circumstances.

Biblically, the letter to the Hebrews 11 is a great Hall of Faith calling our attention to the men and women who made themselves available to God’s saving power. Historically, the Church in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican traditions have recognized those men and women who have walked with Christ intimately and dearly: St. John Chrysostom of Constantinople and St. Gregory the Great of Rome, St. Monica of North Africa and St. Macrina of Asia Minor, and St. Patrick of Ireland and St. Julianna of Norwich.

Evangelicals avoid the naming of saints, but often recognize those whose faithfulness to God and the Gospel have been exemplary: David Brainerd, early missionary to the American Indians, Amy Carmichael, rescuer of young girls in India, and J. Hudson Taylor pioneer missionary to the deepest parts of China.

However there are everyday saints, people who will never have a biography written about them or a school named after them or a movement ascribed to their leadership. They are the everyday men and women of God who live the life of Christ before their families, at their jobs, and through their churches.

“Dr. Jay” was that kind of everyday saint.

Dr. Jay was an everyday saint not someone who was perfect, but a sinner who looked to Christ for life-transforming grace in his chronic weaknesses and on-going struggles. Dr. Jay was an everyday saint because did not pretend to be adequate in the spiritual life, but simply made himself available to the Holy Spirit’s gifts and power. Dr. Jay was needy, he knew he could not live the Christian life in his own power, he trusted Christ to live his life in and through him.

Dr. Jay looked constantly to Christ, he daily sought God’s love, comfort, peace, rest and assurance. He depended on Christ’s Cross and righteousness to be his approval with God. Jay looked to God’s grace to be his strength in the midst of his weaknesses.

To be holy does not mean being superior to others: the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other [God] work . . . .

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

Dr. Jay was an everyday saint in the truest sense of the word: a man of God, persistent prayer warrior, God-honoring Bible teacher, genuine friend, spiritual mentor, selfless husband, godly father and doting grandfather. Jay sought God’s heart, listened to the Spirit’s voice, and trusted God’s grace to enable him to obey God’s call.

Dr. Jay was a true Barnabas, an extraordinary encourager of men and women.

[illustration: Saturday night encourager: “The Lord willing, I will see you tomorrow.”]

Dr. Jay was a true Apostle John, a devoted lover of Christ, the heavenly bridegroom.

Dr. Jay was a true evangelist like deacon Philip, sharing the gospel at every opportunity.

Even in his greatest hour of sickness, Dr. Jay was ministering Christ, prophesying in the Spirit, and prayerfully interceding for his family, friends, and church.

[Illustration: Witnesses to doctors and nurses and prophesies to visitors in his greatest hour of suffering and need.]

Dr. Jay was a true family man like the Apostle Paul describes in the Letter to the Ephesians, he loved, served, and honored his wife, children, and grandchildren.

The saint is not one who tries hard to be good, but one who surrenders to [God’s] Goodness.

E. Stanley Jones, In Christ 

Yes, indeed. I knew a saint and you knew a saint. That man of God was Dr. Jay and he will be greatly missed by all.

 

Only One Thing Can Give True Joy

Posted by on 01 Jun 2012 | Tagged as: Jesus Christ, Martyn Lloyd-Jones

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Rom. 14:17 NKJV

Joy is that deep, supernatural fulfillment that comes in knowing that we are experiencing and expressing the one who is true satisfaction, Jesus Christ. Joy begins with acknowledging that we are unconditionally loved, graciously forgiven, and eternally kept in Christ. Joy is released in our lives when we cultivate Christ’s conscious, constant presence.

Joy is not produced by emotional highs: supernatural fulfillment is imparted by obedience to God’s commands. Joy is not dependent on pleasant circumstances, but it is the fruit of finding and meeting Christ in the midst of all our trials both pleasant and painful. Joy is renewed by worshiping the risen Jesus and by sharing him with others. Jesus Christ is the one person who can bring true joy.

Joy is something very deep and profound, something that affects the whole and entire personality. In other words it comes to this; there is only one thing that can give true joy and that is a contemplation of the Lord Jesus Christ. He satisfies my mind; He satisfies my emotions; He satisfies my every desire. He and His great salvation include the whole personality and nothing less, and in Him I am complete. Joy, in other words, is the response and the reaction of the soul to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Fellowship with God (Crossway Books, 1992).