Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday's Message


This Sunday morning I aim to preach a message entitled "Take Care How You Hear" from Luke 8:18. My goal is to help us best hear the Word of God both publicly and privately in 2008. I plan to mention a book by Don Whitney entitled, Simplify Your Spiritual Life. I will only mention it briefly Sunday morning, but encourage you to purchase this text if you are interested. Whitney offers some solid suggestions to help clear the clutter and stay focused on the main thing in your daily walk with the Lord. You can click here to order the book from Amazon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.


"The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."


What an exclamation point at the end of these two verses! It lets us know the heart and passion of God the Father, Yahweh, in sending His Son to earth. How amazing it is to know that God Himself found joy and zeal and passion in sending Jesus to atone for our sins! How wonderful and freeing it is to know that the "things of God" are that which involves our freedom, our forgiveness, our joy, and our life! The zeal of the Lord sent this child. The zeal of the Lord of hosts gave us His Son! Merry Christmas!


Sentences like these are found throughout the Bible.


Consider:


Isaiah 53:10 - "Yet it was the will (or, it pleased) of the LORD to crush him; He has put Him to grief."


Speaking of the sufferings of Jesus in Isaiah 53, the Spirit of God inspired Isaiah to say that it pleased God to do it!


Matthew 16:23 - "But (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'"


Jesus, after Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for talking about going to the cross, told Peter that he did not have in mind the things of God. The things of God involve His perfect Son and a cross and resurrection! The things of God involve our freedom and life and joy and peace!


This Christmas, be reminded that what drove the sending of the Son to earth was the zeal of the LORD of hosts. God was passionate about making it happen. He was passionate about sending us a Savior. He was passionate about bringing us a good news of a great joy!


No wonder the angels in heaven, when they cried out to the shepherds that first Christmas said: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!" (Luke 2:14)


God gets the glory. We get life and joy. Oh how zealous He was about sending His Son and how zealous He is even today that we embrace and trust and find our hope in the Son.


Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

With Justice and Righteousness from this Time Forth and Forevermore


“…with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”

The kingdom of this child that was to be born is a kingdom He established and upholds with justice and righteousness. These two “kingdom traits” are not there for a while and then something else upholds the kingdom. They are what establishes it and upholds it now and forever.

Why is it significant that justice and righteousness are what drives the kingdom of Christ? In a sense, it is frightening and condemning. The fact that His kingdom is upheld and established with justice means that He is just to all. Wrongs done will be punished. Justice, in other words, will be served. The Perfect Judge will see to it that disobedience to His divine law will be followed through with wrath. If He is to maintain justice, He cannot simply “pass over” sins. They must be punished. So, the King of this kingdom will execute everything with justice. But consider also that the kingdom is upheld and established in righteousness. Being righteous means fulfilling the obligations of the law. Doing everything “right” is the essence of righteousness. So, subjects of His kingdom must be righteous and constantly adhering to righteousness.
Are you starting to see why, in a sense, the fact that His kingdom is established and upheld by this is frightening and condemning? If Jesus is just and punishes disobedience, then I am in major trouble. If righteousness is the order of the day and the characteristic of subjects of this kingdom, then I don’t stand a chance. Left to myself I don’t stand a chance, that is.
You see the very fact that Jesus’ kingdom is established in justice and righteousness points us to the need of Him to come. For the kingdom to be a just kingdom, sin must be punished. This child that was to be born “for us” and this son that was “given” came to bear the punishment we deserved for our sin. I can be a part of His kingdom, not because I have never sinned, but because the sin I have committed has been punished already on the cross. Likewise, I am not a member of the kingdom of Christ because I am perfectly righteous and have done everything in life without a blemish. Far from it! No, I am a subject of this kingdom because Jesus was/is righteous and His record of obedience (perfect) was transferred to me. He took my punishment for sin (justice) and gave me His perfection (righteousness). His kingdom is established and upheld by these things. Because of what this child came to do, I am a kingdom member.

Last night at the close of the Lord’s Supper service I noticed something very interesting that I had never really noticed before. As I was stacking the bread trays on top of the other I observed that there were numerous fingerprints on the edges of the silverware trays. Fingerprints of sinners. Hundreds of people who were far from perfect and way disobedient had eaten bread and drunk juice together. Sinful and disobedient people considered themselves a part of the kingdom of Christ and partook of the Supper as a body. Is that okay? Can it be? His kingdom is established and upheld with justice and righteousness! It sure is. Because of the body that was given for us and the blood that was shed for us, those who believe are made righteous and have a right and forgiven stance before God Almighty.
Thank You Jesus for being born and doing what You did. May You be honored and treasured and adored this Christmas Eve. As I have heard it said so beautifully, “May You receive the reward You deserve for Your suffering!”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

To Establish (the kingdom) and Uphold it...


“…to establish it and to uphold it…”


This is a short aspect to pick out of this verse to meditate on, but an important one nonetheless. Tomorrow (Lord willing!) we will focus on what Christ’s kingdom is established and upheld by, but I simply want you to stop at this point and contemplate the fact that He Himself establishes and upholds His kingdom. The fact that He establishes His kingdom means that He can do whatever He want to with it. He can establish it any way He pleases. You and I don’t have a say so in what we want His kingdom to be about or what we might think it should be about. He establishes and upholds it Himself. He does not need our counsel on how it should be established. He does not need our advice on how it should be upheld. In fact, He doesn’t even need our help establishing it or upholding it. The only reason ANYONE is able to be a part of His kingdom is by grace.
Tomorrow when we meditate on the fact that His kingdom is established and upheld with “justice and righteousness” we need to be assured up front that this is the way He designed it and ordered it to be. Our only response must be to submit, bow down, and humbly and joyfully accept what God has ordained. He established His kingdom the way He wanted to establish it. He knows best. Our job is not to offer counsel or even question Him on this. It is to joyfully accept it as it is and move toward being a part of this established kingdom the He will uphold by His own power and might.

Consider:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’” John 18:36

The kingdom Christ established and upholds is not like any other kingdom. It is a spiritual thing. It is an eternal thing. Remember this when you wage war with the Gospel around the world. Remember this when you are tempted by the evil one. This is something that is not like the world’s way of government and kingdom. This is a spiritual thing that wages war on your soul!

Remember what Paul said to the Ephesians:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13


His kingdom is what it is by His design and order. Let’s submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

Friday, December 21, 2007

On the throne of David and over his kingdom...



“…on the throne of David and over his kingdom…”


Isaiah 9:6-7

Why is this significant? Why is being on the throne of David and over David’s kingdom such a big deal anyway?

Consider this prophecy from God through Nathan to King David in 2 Samuel 7:

“And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son...And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:11-16)

For someone’s kingdom to exist forever, death will have to be defeated. Immortal and eternal must be the characteristic of the King. Here in 2 Samuel, David was promised that his kingdom would go on forever even AFTER he lied down (died) with his fathers. How could a kingdom continue if the king died?
Well, the line of David continued to Jesus.
Consider the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38.

Read these words spoken by the angel Gabriel to Mary as recorded by Luke:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:29-33)

Gabriel promised Mary that the baby in her womb would take over the throne of King David and would reign as King forever.

So, why does the Spirit of God inspire Isaiah to speak of David’s throne and kingdom? Because the child to be born would be an eternal King.

What does this have to do with you and I? If we claim to follow Jesus, He is to us a King. We are His delightful and joy-filled subjects gladly submitting to Him at all times for all things. We must be constantly acknowledging His rule and reign over our lives and seeking to obey His every whim for our own good and His wonderful glory.

"Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end..."






"Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end..."



Isaiah has already mentioned that this child to be born will have the government on his shoulder and that He is the Prince of Peace. Here the Spirit of God inspired Isaiah to connect the two thoughts together.

Both the government under the reign of Christ as well as the peace of Christ will never end. The government will forever increase. His authority, His rule, those who are apart of His kingdom, His Sovereign reign will never, ever end. Likewise His peace will never end. It will increase in the souls of those who are His.

The connection makes sense, doesn't it? As long as Christ rules and reigns and the government He runs is ever increasing (which will be forever), then the peace He brings and offers and provides will be forever as well. As long as He is on the throne, so too will there be spiritual peace for the member of His kingdom.

Think of it: The child that was born in a manger stall over 2,000 years ago to a young virgin mother and a young father who was not the "real" father would have an ever increasing government and perfect peace that would never end. Make no mistake about it. Jesus rules on planet earth and throughout all the universe. All authority is His. Only through Him can you, I, or anyone else can have peace. As long as He reigns, His peace will be ours.


Now think of this: every human who has ever lived must bow down before Him and proclaim Him as Lord. Those who know Him as Savior and Lord will proceed to everlasting glory and joy and peace. Those who have never known Him will proceed on to everlasting torment and doom and horror.

As you consider this, I encourage you to contemplate the eternal state of your family members you will come into contact with this Christmas. Consider the eternal state of your neighbors in your neighborhood. Click on this link for the Joshua Project and read about how many people have NEVER heard the name Christ. Likewise, click on this link at the International Mission Board web-site to read about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and how we can help make the name of Christ known around the world with our money. You can also click here at the Desiring God web-site to read of 13 ways you can bless missionaries during this holiday season without even paying for postage!


Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. We know He rules. We know He reigns. We know that only through Him is there peace. What are you and I doing about it? Better yet, what are we doing about it this Christmas? We cannot keep this to ourselves. Let's help make as many as possible at peace with God this Christmas season!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Prince of Peace


"...and his name shalle be called...

Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6-7


This fourth and final name description designated for this child to be born (Jesus) helps identify one of the primary purposes of His coming on our behalf: to bring us peace.

A prince is one who has been given ownership of something and the one who distributes it to those whom he is pleased. Jesus Himself IS Peace. He is the Giver and Bringer of Peace. He grants peace to all whom God has given Him.


Consider these passages that permeate the birth narrative of Jesus:


"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21


"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...'"

Luke 1:46-47


"And you, child (Zechariah speaking of John the Baptist), will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Luke 1:76-79


"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:10-11


"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased."

Luke 2:14


"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."

Luke 2:29-32


He brought peace when He came and He came to bring peace to those who would believe on Him.


But this begs a question doesn't it? What kind of peace? Or better yet, why do we need peace? This really gets at the heart of why He came and why we so desperately needed Him to come. Left to ourselves we simply cannot have peace with God. We are at odds with our Maker. We are, by nature, objects of divine wrath following the ways of our father the devil (see Ephesians 2:1-3). We deserve punishment from God because of our countless sins against Him. Regardless of how many good things we do or try to do it will not be enough. We are still sinful, evil vessels that cannot stand in the presence of a holy God. This is why we need Jesus! This is why we must shout aloud of praise and thanksgiving with all of our might that He is the Prince of Peace! He came to take on the punishment we deserve for our sins! He came to be the mediator between us and God! He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He lived a perfect life of righteousness (which is what we cannot do) that becomes transferred to us when we believe on Jesus. He also went to the cross and shed His own blood in our place as the sacrifice/punishment we deserved for sin. He was punished by God for us so that we would not have to be. We could not undergo the punishment. Even if we could have (which there is no way a mere man could have) we would not have been a sufficient sacrifice because our lives are blemished with sin. Jesus is our Prince of Peace because He did what was necessary to make right what was made wrong between us and God due to our sins.

He is Peace. He brought Peace. He still gives Peace. He is the Prince of Peace.


Hallelujah to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Everlasting Father


“…and His name shall be called…
Everlasting Father…” Isaiah 9:6-7

What an incredible thought that the CHILD to be born is also an EVERLASTING FATHER! How can it be? Only God. The child is the Son of God who is a King with the government under His rule who is a Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father. He is God! God the Father.

Not only does this further reveal to us the deity of Jesus, but it also reminds us that God is a Father to His children. Jesus being God the Father, treats His children as a loving Father would.

Consider that God as Father…

1. Treats His children as adopted orphans.

Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless…is God in his holy habitation.”

2. Disciplines His children as a father does his own for their own good and godliness.

Hebrews 12:9-11 says, “…we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

3. Gives good things to His children who ask Him.

Matthew 7:7-11 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”


Jesus is our Everlasting Father. Thus, not only is He our Heavenly Father, but He will be our Heavenly Father from everlasting to everlasting. Forever and ever we will be treated as children, heirs with Christ of the Father’s blessing and goodness and grace and love and abundant welfare and joy. He will always be God the Father and for those who are His, He will always be our Father!

What do we do with this?
Three things at least:
(1) Praise Him for adopting us and accepting us as His children in Christ.
(2) Rejoice in trials and tests knowing that God allows things to come our way to sharpen us and discipline us for our own growth in godliness.
(3) Ask Him for anything and everything that will aid in our Christlikeness. As a Father, He longs to give to His children who ask of Him.

As we spend time with our family this holiday season, make it a point to spend extra time with your Heavenly Father and also anticipate the joyous time we will have with Him in glory!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Mighty God


“…and His name shall be called…
Mighty God…” Isaiah 9:6-7

This child that was to be born the first Christmas was to be called the “Mighty God.” Are you kidding? This child is God? The Creator of the universe? The One God who is to be worshipped? Would the child, the human child, the son be God? According to Isaiah he would be. Isaiah had recorded two chapters earlier that His name would be Immanuel. In Isaiah 7:14, we read, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Of course, Immanuel means “God with us.” This baby that was born for those who would believe was/is/always will be God.

Other biblical authors agree.

Consider the following:

John 1:1-5, 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Colossians 1:15-20 says, “He (Jesus) 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power…”


This baby that was to be born would be God. Jesus is God. Jesus is not another god. He is God, the only One and True God. He is the Mighty God. Hallelujah!

Why? Why is this so important? Why is it crucial that we understand Jesus is God? Why can’t we just believe that Jesus was fully man with some divine power? Or, why can’t we just say He was half-man and half-god? Why is it important that we believe He is THE God of the universe? It is critical for a number of reasons. But one of the most important is that no mere man could ever bear the weight of the sin of mankind. No man could endure the punishment deserved for sinners. Only God has that kind of power. If just a man, or a half-man died on the cross, there would still need to be atonement for sin. But since it was God who died on the cross (for three days!), all of sin’s guilt and shame and punishment was atoned for! Thank You God! Thank You Jesus! You are the Mighty God!

Another reason it is so important is because you and I need to rest assured that it is right and proper and fitting to worship Jesus. We must fall down on our face before this man. We must raise our hands in adoration to this man. We must sing our hearts out to this man. We must love this man with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He is God. Jesus, the baby born to us in Bethlehem, is God. O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Our sins are atoned for because God bore the punishment for us.
Our worship is to be directed toward Him, the man Christ Jesus.
He is the Wonderful Counselor. He is the Mighty God!

Monday, December 17, 2007

His Name Shall Be Called...Wonderful Counselor


“…and His name shall be called…
Wonderful Counselor…” Isaiah 9:6-7

At the end of verse 6, the Spirit of God prompted Isaiah to describe this child that was to be born in four different word pictures. The four descriptions are names He was to be called. The names would describe His essence. The names are adjectives as to who and what He is. The first of the names He is to be called is “Wonderful Counselor.”
A counselor is someone who provides counsel, advice, direction, and wisdom. A counselor is someone that is sought out by people in need of help and comfort and relief. A counselor is sought after because he is skilled at seeing a way of freedom from current bondage. A counselor knows how to direct, lead, and help lead in the right path.
Jesus’ name is counselor. He is THE counselor. His words are life and joy and peace. His counsel is the only true counsel, for he created us and knows what is best for our souls.
But not only is He described here as counselor, but He is a “Wonderful Counselor.” His counsel is wonderful. He is wonderful. It is a glorious thing that we would even have access to His counsel, much less that He would counsel us, and much less that we might even be able to heed His counsel.
Every word of Jesus recorded in the New Testament is wonderful counsel. Everything breathed by Him are truth and life. His counsel is wonderful and for our good.

Howard Griffith, in an article I read entitled “Wonderful Counselor,” wrote:

“Only one has the words of eternal life: the Lord Jesus. Only He exhaustively understands all things, for only He is God…
“Here is the beginning of repentance: becoming humble enough to receive God’s teaching in Christ. Are you a person who can take counsel? Do you want to know God and what He wants before anything else, or are you confident in your own thinking? We need to repent by submitting our thoughts to the counsel of Jesus…
“When the King rules your heart, you begin to see how foolish your own thinking is apart from God. Grace and forgiveness lead us to stop talking and begin listening to the godly wisdom of others. ‘Wisdom is found in those who take advice’ (Proverbs 13:10). The Wonderful Counselor has come. Listen to Him!”



Great counsel! The best counsel we humans can give each other is to seek the counsel of the Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ. Are you a person who can take counsel? Do you want to know God and what He wants before anything else? Jesus is a child born for us. He is the Son of God given to us. The entire government in all the world is on His shoulder. He is the Wonderful Counsel. For you. For me. For your son or daughter. For you mom or dad. For the way you dress. For the way you drive. For the way you spend money. For what you watch on TV. For what you spend your time doing. For whether or not you share the Gospel with an unbeliever. He is a wonderful counselor. Let’s be diligent to seek His whole counsel with all of our might!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder


“…and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” Isaiah 9:6-7

So far we have read that there is to be a human child born for a people. The child to be born is a son, or rather, the Son of God. This child will be “given” as a free gift. Immediately Isaiah, inspired by the Spirit of God, shows us what this child is destined to be: a Ruler. When you read a phrase like “the government shall be upon His shoulder” it means exactly what it says it means: He will carry the government on His shoulder. This child, this son, this gift will be in charge of the government. He will rule. He will reign. Edward Young, in his commentary on Isaiah, wrote:

"Upon this Child the government with all its responsibilities lies. Like a burden it rests upon His shoulders…the entire responsibility for the good administration of the government is said to rest upon His shoulders. The Child is to be a King, a Ruler, a Sovereign.
This government is the kingdom of grace, but also in widest extent the kingdom of nature and power. All the world is subject to the rule of this Child. ‘All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me” (Matthew 28:18; 11:27; John 5:22). World powers were threatening the very existence of the people of God; the government of the Child is a spiritual rule, but for that very reason more embracing and world-wide. ‘My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36)."

Wow! This isn’t just any other child. This isn’t just any other son. This child is the Son of God who will reign over every power imaginable. “All the world is subject to the rule of this Child.” Wise men from the East came to worship this child. The angels of heaven broke out into glorious praise when He was born. King Herod could not outsmart the hand of Almighty God in carrying out His perfect plan.
Praise be to this Child! The government shall be upon His shoulder!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

To Us a Son is Given


“…to us a son is given;” Isaiah 9:6-7

Not only does Isaiah prophecy of a human child to be born for those who would believe on Him, but he goes on to say that this child will be a son. Now I am not sure, but I assume those in Isaiah’s day did not piece it altogether as to whose son this child would be and what kind of son this child would be. But being that we have the unique privilege of having the New Testament and we have the written record of how all of this transpired, we know that this son was a reference to the son of God.

God would send His son to us. In the coming days we will look closer at the significance of this human baby also being God. But for now it is important that we meditate on the wonder of God sending His son to the earth.

Notice:

1. God loved/loves His son.

“…and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son…’” (Matthew 3:17)

2. God was pleased to send His son.

“…and behold, a voice from heaven said… ‘with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17)

3. God expects all on planet earth to listen to His son.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)

4. God sent His son to earth because He loves the world.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)


I think it’s also important to see at this point that Isaiah said to us a son is “given.” This, of course, implies that the Son is a gift. God so loved the world that He gave. A gift is something that is given for free. A gift is not like a wage. A wage is earned. A gift is grace. You have probably received a gift already this Christmas season that someone just gave you because they love you. You didn’t do anything to deserve it. You didn’t try to win their favor. They just gave it to you because they love you. That’s what a gift is. Free. Undeserved. To have it, though, you have to receive it. You must accept it as a gift that is given out of grace and embrace it.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Because of our sins, we’ve earned death. It’s what we deserve. But God so loved the world (sinners like you and me) that He gave a free gift by sending of His son. We deserve death because of our sin. We don’t deserve Jesus. Reality is, however (hallelujah!), that “to us a son is given.”
Receive Him my dear friend. Receive Him for yourself!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;” Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

For to us a child is born...


“For to us a child is born…” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Chapter 9 of Isaiah is a chapter where God tells Isaiah to prophecy about a hope that will come to those who live in spiritual darkness. Verse 2 reads, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” This passage, then, is a passage of hope. Jerusalem and Judah had been extremely rebellious. Isaiah had called them to repent and turn back to God. Likewise he had informed God’s people of one who would atone for their sins (see Isaiah 53). In verses 6 and 7 we read a description of how God would redeem the souls of mankind and offer a great light to those who walk in darkness.

The first phrase in verse 6 is “For to us a child is born…” A couple of things are to be noticed here.

First, Isaiah said “to us” a child is born. Who is the “us” here? Was not this child born for all people? Or was this child born to a specific “us”? In the context of this passage, we know that Isaiah was sent to prophecy to the Jews of Jerusalem and Judah (see Isaiah 1:1). Does this mean that the child to be born was only for Jews? In Matthew 1 when the angel appeared to Joseph and urged him not to divorce Mary quietly because of her unexpected pregnancy, the angel told him that what was going on was a work of God. In verse 21 the angel continued, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (emphasis mine). Who are “his people”? Luke records for us that after baby Jesus was born, the first people to get the news from heaven were shepherds! Shepherds! Consider what one of the angels said to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). This helps us shed light on our question. Jesus was sent by God for all the people. So, we know this baby will save his people from their sins, but He was sent for all the people. So, who is the “us”? For to “who” exactly is the child born? I think our answer is found in verse 32 of Luke 2. Eight days after Jesus’ birth Mary and Joseph went to the Temple to present him to God. A man named Simeon knew it was the Messiah, and said these words of Jesus: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” So here we see Jesus is a light for the Gentiles and glory for the Jews. What do we make of all this? Did He come for all the people of the world? Yes, hallelujah. He came for all the peoples of the world, not a specific people group. He came for all people groups and nations and tribes and tongues. However, not all will come to a saving knowledge of and faith in him. The “us” in Isaiah 9:6 and the “his” in Matthew 1:21 are those who trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. The offer of salvation is not for any particular kind of people group. The offer of salvation is for all peoples. For those who believe on Him and are saved, the child will be for them! Everyone you run into today has the opportunity to hear about this child. Urge them to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation! Today they might experience the glorious reality of this child’s birth being for them!

Second, notice what is to happen: “For to us a child is born…” How fascinating! God could have chosen to come to earth by making a grand entrance out of heaven (which, by the way He will do when He returns to earth). But He didn’t. He chose to be born. He chose to be born to two earthly, human parents. He chose to be an infant child. He chose to be born to poor parents. He chose to be born in a stable, a barn. He chose to be human. Why? Why did God choose to come to earth and be born as a human child? Primarily because a perfect sacrifice had to be given in order for our sins to be atoned for. A perfectly obedient human had to do what could not be done. A perfectly obedient human had to die. A human had to come and do for us what we so miserably failed at! A sinful human on a cross would not have sufficed. The sacrifice had to be perfect and the sacrifice had to be a human substitute. Likewise, he chose to be human so as to identify with us! He knows what it’s like to be completely, 100% human. He knows because for 33 years he was one. He lived a perfectly righteous life as a human. He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin.

If Jesus is your Lord and Savior today, rejoice in the fact that the child that was born over 2,000 years ago was for you. Trust in the reality that as a human being, a perfect human being, when you believed on him his righteousness and perfect obedient record before God became yours. Rest in the beauty that when you talk to him in prayer and express your emotions and thoughts and concerns, you are talking to God who knows all your struggles and can relate personally to your situation.
“For to us a child is born…” Thank You Lord God for sending this child!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

12 Glories of Christmas


I aim to post several (12 to be exact) meditations/reflections on Christ and Christmas over the next few days. Tomorrow, December 14th, will begin the "12 Days Until Christmas" countdown.
Every day I plan to post some thoughts on the attributes of Christ as predicted and prophesied about in Isaiah 9:6-7. There, God told the prophet Isaiah to announce the following:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, and on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."
Wow! That is some incredible stuff! I want to take 12 days (at least!) and meditate on each of these truths about the Messiah!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christ in the Media

I love it when secular news reporters simply cannot understand someone's actions. What I mean is, it blesses my heart when someone who loves Christ is questioned about their actions by a news reporter simply because their actions are so foreign to the world's way of thinking and doing things.
For instance, take Saturday night when the Heisman trophy was awarded to Tim Tebow. Prior to the announcement, one of the ESPN reporters interviewed Tebow. He asked Tebow why he was so humble (this was after the reporter had stated that Tebow was the most humble man he had ever met). Tebow's response? Something to the effect of, "God gave me the ability to play football." I love it! The reporter could not grasp how someone with Tebow's ability as a sophomore at college could be so humble. The response was breathtaking for me: "God gave me the ability." Tebow knows he got everything he has from the Father, his Creator. The world does not know how to react to humbleness that is a result of knowing that nothing we have is earned, but a gift of grace from God. Read more about Tim Tebow and what he said when he accepted the award at this Baptist Press article. He thanked Jesus Christ at least twice! Praise God for Tim Tebow! May God raise up many more young men and women like him in the future!
Or take the shootings that happened Sunday in Colorado. One of the shootings happened at a Youth With a Mission office. The next day, on the front page of many on-line news pages reported of this organization taking Christianity to more than 150 countries (if my facts are correct). Also, when the Today show interviewed some of the eyewitnesses at the church where the second shooting took place, the reporter again could not understand something. The reporter heard that the couple she was interviewing actually prayed for the gunman. By the look on the reporter's face, it was inconceivable that anyone would pray for an attacker like that! You're supposed to hate people like that, right? If you are of the world you are. But Jesus says to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). The world cannot understand the ways of Christ. Read more of this in an article posted at msnbc.com. Pay careful attention to page two when the writer of the article states, "Some members of the congregation reacted with compassion and forgiveness, in keeping with their faith." Oh how I love it when the secular news media notices something different about those who are living out their faith!
Please don't misunderstand me. We must "grieve with those who grieve" and pray for the families of those who lost loved ones and this church that must be shocked at what happened. I do not want to take anything away from their heartache. But I do want to rejoice in the fact that God works "all things" together for good and His glory by giving the nation and the national media some tastes as to what Christianity is: salt and light in a world that so desperately needs it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Resources Mentioned Yesterday From the Pulpit

In both AM and PM messages, I referenced some resources that some of you may be interested in. While preaching in the morning from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 on giving, I called your attention to an article about the value of the U.S. dollar falling in foreign countries. This, of course, is negatively affecting the work our IMB missionaries can do. If you would like to read the entire article, you can do so by clicking here. Baptist Press will also provide many other helpful and insightful articles for you to read.
During the AM message I also read some frightening statistics about the state of Christianity and the church in North America. If you click here it will take you to a written sermon preached by John Piper. At the beginning of the sermon, you will see a list of statistics. He provides a note of where he got the statistics at the end of the sermon (in the endnotes). The reference is from a paper written by Dave Earley. Click on the link provided there and it will take you directly to the paper (in Microsoft Word format).

In last night's sermon I called your attention to a book entitled The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance by Thomas R. Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday. It is a very biblical, academic, and scholarly read on the subject of "Once Saved Always Saved." You can order it from Amazon.com by clicking here.
Happy Reading!

Friday, November 30, 2007

"By the grace of God I am what I am."

These words were penned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:10. He mentioned it in reference to God's grace working in his life to make him what he was. I title this blog entry with these words because of His grace in my life toward my love for reading. Let me explain. I used to HATE reading! Literally. I despised reading a book. The joke at my house was that I graduated high school having only read two books in my whole life: The Moose Goes to School and Bo Knows Bo. But something changed. Something wonderful and glorious changed while I was at college. God graciously gave me a hunger and thirst for books. He gave me a longing to want to read! I am grateful because there is so much rich material available for those who want to understand the Bible better and love God more completely. We are commanded to love the Lord God with all of our mind, thus reading the Bible and other books that help us better understand the Bible help us love the Lord better.
Something I have been wanting to do for a long time now is to list some of my favorite books. Earlier today I received an e-mail from a friend who asked me what my all-time favorite book on prayer was. I thought to myself that now would be a good time to list on the blog some of my favorite books, including my favorite one on prayer. I had originally intended to offer a "Top Five List" of my top five favorite books. Perusing my library, however, revealed that there is no way I can do that. There are so many that are so good! So, in what follows I will simply list and link for you some of my favorite books. Perhaps in the future, I will list some more by categories (for instance, in this list I am not including any books on preaching though there are many that are great books). But for now, here is a start for anyone who cares.


1. The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer



This is a wonderful book on prayer. Challenging. Insightful. Convicting.

You can order the book here.



2. A Hunger for God by John Piper



Another incredible book on prayer and fasting.


You can order that book here. When you click here you can download the book for free on your computer. Thank you John Piper and Desiring God!


3. What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper




This is a great resource for discipleship. Piper takes every command from Jesus and explains what Jesus meant and how we can best obey. The purpose is to help us obey the Great Commission: "make disciples of all nations...teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you."

You can order the book here, or download it for free at that same location.




4. The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott

As you can tell from the picture, I got it from Amazon.com. You can order this book by clicking here.

5. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
Again, from Amazon, you can order this book here.

These are a start. Numerous books come to my mind. Maybe I will do this on a regular basis in the future, depending on the response. Whether you like this list or not, I encourage you to read much and read often for the sake of your mind. Read the Bible first and foremost. Then read some other texts that help you understand the Bible more clearly and love God more passionately.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What/Who in the World is Lottie Moon?


Every December the International Missions Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) asks Southern Baptist's to give money for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Every penny of the offering goes straight to support missionaries serving in foreign countries. In other words, every single penny goes to help the Gospel go forth around the world. The IMB's goal this year is $165 million. If all Southern Baptist's gave just a small portion, no doubt that goal could be reached with ease.

I strongly encourage everyone who reads this blog to seriously consider how much you can give to this eternal cause.

In case you have ever wondered who or what in the world is Lottie Moon, the IMB has provided a wonderful link on their web-site that provides the reader with ample information about her and her life. The information they have provided has done Southern Baptist's a favor. If you would like to know more about this amazing woman God used in the late 1800's and whose legacy continues today, I implore you to click here.

If you would like some general information about the offering itself, you can click here.

May the Gospel go forth like never before in 2008!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Dad Turns 60!


This Friday, November 23rd, my dad will turn 60 years old. Lord willing, I plan on being there with him to celebrate. Praise the Lord.

Most everyone who reads this blog will know that last Thursday dad had surgery to remove prostate cancer. The doctors will able to get all of it. As far as we all know, he is cancer free. He is recovering well from the surgery and I fully expect him to be "back at it" as soon as possible. Praise the Lord.

Other than Jesus Christ, my dad is my ultimate hero. The longer I am a dad, the more of a hero he becomes. He made sure that I grew up in an atmosphere where I could thrive spiritually and grow, by God's grace, into a man who knew and loved Jesus. That's what a dad is to do. Help their children know and love Jesus with all of their might.

Praise the Lord.

If you are a dad and happen to be reading this blog, let's commit to working overtime for the good of our children and our wives so that they have every opportunity possible to see us love Jesus passionately and, thus, to grow to know and love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Praise the Lord for Steve Pearson. Happy Birthday!


Beat Bama!!



I cannot resist! It's the Iron Bowl week and Auburn is going for 6 in a row against the Tide!
Just in case anybody was wondering who Luke and Seth were pulling for...let there be no doubt!
WAR EAGLE!

A Bold, Yet Needed and Honest Assessment of the Church

I am referring to a sermon preached by John Piper this past weekend at Bethlehem Baptist Church. In it, he explains why he is starting a series entitled "You Must Be Born Again" and where he plans to take his congregation over the next weeks. I urge you to click here and listen, watch, or read the first half of the message at least! What he says needs to be said and heard.
I hope you will be challenged by it as I was and it will lead you to love Jesus more and hurt for His church more than ever before.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Joshua Project Web-site

During last weekend's Global Impact Conference I was struck in a way that I never have been struck before. What was so odd about it was it was by something I already knew. In fact, what really spoke to me last weekend was a truth and reality I had known for a long, long time. On Saturday night, during the International Banquet, Bro. Al was preaching about the plentiful harvest (from Matthew 9). He gave example after example of countries where God is moving in extravagant ways. The Gospel is running forth rapidly in specific places. He spoke of people longing to hear the Good News and coming from miles and miles away to hear a message they had never heard.
What struck me afresh was the fact that millions of people have NEVER HEARD THE GOSPEL, nor the name JESUS. When they hear it, it is something that revolutionizes and changes and transforms their lives. The good news of the Gospel sets them free!
Yes, I knew that. Yes, it is true. But the Spirit laid the reality heavy on my heart. The Gospel changes lives. It really and truly changes lives. There is no other message like it. There is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved.
God used this renewed burden to increase in my soul a passion to go where God is moving. He is doing a new thing in countries who have never heard. People are waiting to hear the Gospel. People MUST hear the Gospel in order to be saved.
I want to challenge you to do everything possible to focus your efforts and thoughts and resources toward what God is doing and where God is working.
I have come across a wonderful web-site "The Joshua Project." You can go there directly by clicking here.
It offers a tremendous amount of information about unreached people groups and how much of the world is evangelized and how much of the world remains to be evangelized and what God is doing in particular places. If offers an "Unreached People of the Day" that you can pray for specifically. Visit the site and visit it often. Use it in your prayer time. Use it to ask God where He wants you to go and/or send resources so the Gospel can go forth there. Use it to gain knowledge on the task before us.

I look forward to discussing with some of you what you have learned from this web-site in the days ahead.

Because He Lives,
Matt

Friday, October 5, 2007

Resources to Aid in Praying that the Nations Be Glad in God

In Sunday night's message (10/07/07), I plan to recommend some resources to help us pray efficiently for missions. I have provided the list here along with a link to finding where to purchase these items and/or find them for free. It is only a start to a list of abundant resources to aid in our praying. I hope this helps and gets you started compiling your own list of resources to help in your praying for the nations to be glad in God!

1. Operation World. Click here for purchasing information.

2. Global Prayer Digest. Click here for downloading information. You can download it for free!

*3. Global Prayer Gram

*4. "Loving the Lost" Booklet

*5. The Commission Magazine

*6. To the Ends of the Earth Magazine

*All of the above resources can be found and ordered from the International Mission Board web-site. You can go there directly by clicking here. You can go directly to their prayer request page by clicking here. Order a free "Loving the Lost" Booklet here.

7. The North America Mission Board web-site. Go straight to their web-site here; or straight to their prayer request page here.

Again, this is just a small and very short list of a massive amount of material out there to help us be better "pray-ers" for the nations to be glad! So, get busy praying! God will hear us and He will answer according to His perfect will!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lessons Learned at Lebohneur

Most everyone who reads this knows that my 2 year old son Luke recently contracted a staph infection following a routine hernia surgery two weeks ago. It meant seven days in the hospital complete with five consecutive days of surgery like procedures in effort to drain as much as the infection as possible. Katie and I rejoice in the Lord that he is now home and doing well. God chose to answer our prayers by healing him of the infection. Praise His wonderful name!

During our stay at Lebohneur Children's Hospital in Memphis, TN, the Lord taught me alot. What follows are (in no particular order) some lessons and truths that came to life for me:

1. Things happen to my children that are outside my control.

I realize how obvious this is, but Luke contracting this infection made it clearer. Katie and I (mostly Katie) did everything we possibly could to make sure we kept him clean and did exactly what the doctor said. The doctor assured us that he did everything he did to prevent an infection and we believe him. Some things are simply outside our control. This staph infection was one of them. Other things in the future will happen. Physical injuries. Emotional hardships. Wordly sins and perversions.
Am I to sit back and just let things happen? By no means! Though things will happen beyond my control, my job is to prepare the boys to react in a biblical, God-exalting, Christ-driven way. Katie and I can aid in preventing negative things. We can also aid in combatting the negative things in a godly way. The lesson here is that because uncontrollable circumstances will come, I am to help them be prepared for its coming and help them endure during it.

2. I am to be more intense about my children's spiritual well-being as I am about their physical.

For seven days straight Katie and I, along with numerous doctors and nurses, were intense with making sure Luke was physically healthy. I preach that our spiritual soul will last forever, whereas our physical bodies will not. I preach that having a healthy soul is more important than having a healthy body. Physical health is valuable, but godliness holds value for all things (1 Timothy 4:8).
I was convicted and challenged by the Lord to be more intense with Luke and Seth's spiritual well-being as I am with their physical. Don't misunderstand. Their physical well-being is VERY important. But their spiritual well-being is more important. The lesson is to be diligent in helping their soul delight in and hope in the God of the Bible.

3. Hardly anyone will ever refuse to be prayed for.

I knew this before last week. I experienced it firsthand while at the hospital. Katie and I had numerous opportunities to pray for nurses, doctors, aids, residents, etc. No one refused to be prayed for. No one did not want to give us something to pray for them about. People like to be prayed for. Lesson? Pray for people! Ask people how you can pray for them. They will let you pray for them. Oftentimes it will prompt a discussion about religious things. It gave Katie and I several opportunities to talk about Christ and the gospel with people.



4. A loving church family brings present comfort and help, as well as peace for the future.

Oh how I love Wynne Baptist Church! I was reminded the value and benefits and blessings of being a part of a loving church family. Oh how helpful it is during a tough time! How comforting it is to have brothers and sisters in Christ praying and providing for physical needs. Katie and I didn't have to worry about a single thing (outside Luke's situation) while we are at the hospital. Both her mom and my mom helped keep Seth (which was a HUGE blessing that they both longed to do!), but had they not been able to come we had a number of those willing to take care of him for us. The body of Christ came to the aid time and time again of an injured member. The body took care of itself! I love it! This also gives me great peace for the future. If a tragedy were to strike my family, I fear not that I will have legions of brothers and sisters in Christ who will offer care, comfort, love, and support. It brings great relief to be able to rely on the church show the love of Christ for any future unexpected mishaps.
A lesson here? Yes. If you are reading this and are not actively involved in a local church, do it for the sake of your own soul and future! You will have opportunity to love on and minister to other brothers and sisters in Christ. You will one day need them to come to your aid.


5. A healthy church and staff will carry on just fine for a season without their pastor.

Now I cannot say that a healthy church and staff can carry on just fine without their pastor. That would eliminate me! But I do believe it can carry on just fine for a season without the pastor. Christ will build His church for sure. He doesn't need any of us. But He has ordained to use a God-called pastor and staff and members to effect His work on the earth. WBC is healthy in that it functions just fine whether the pastor is there or not on a Sunday or during a week unexpectedly. It's one thing for the church to carry on when the pastor knows he will be out. But it's a different thing altogether for the church to carry on properly, not skipping a beat, when the pastor is unexpectedly out. The staff of WBC is absolutely incredible. The members are wonderful. WBC does not rise or fall based on a couple of people. It is a body that has numerous parts operating efficiently and effectively. Hallelujah! The lesson? Let's all stay connected to the Head at all times, submitting to His leading and working through us!


6. The effects of sin and the Fall are absolutely horrendous and devestating.

Luke's infection was bad. Luke's infection was serious. But it cannot begin to compare some of the situations we saw and heard about last week. What Luke went through was like a walk in Disney World compared to some of the patients we saw. Cancer patients. Heart patients. Abused patients. All horrible effects of the Fall and sin. Before sin everything was perfect. Sin brought not only spiritual separation from God, but physical deterioration. See Romans 8:18-25. This world we live in is impacted drastically by the Fall. Sin corrupts, not just the soul, but the body and creation as well. Come Lord Jesus! Come! Make all things new!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Picture of the Main Thing

As you WBC folks know, I wrapped up a 8 week long series on marriage and family. The title of the series was called "Marriage and Family: A Picture of the Main Thing." The purpose of the title was to (hopefully) communicate over and over and over that getting a spouse is not the most important thing in all of life and having kids is not the most important thing in all of life. God is the most important Being in all of life. He is ultimate. Everything else (including marriage and family) is a means to making much of Him in all we do. If we are pursuing a spouse we are to look for one that will aid in our pointing people to the majesty and glory and goodness of God. If we are blessed with children, we are to do so with the goal of seeing them grow in Christlikeness, love God supremely, and give their lives so that others will do the same. I hope and pray that this was the message communicated this summer.
As a recap, the 8 sermons went as follows:

(1) "Marriage is Not the Main Thing" Matthew 22:23-33
Jesus said that in the resurrection there will neither be marriage nor given in marriage. Thus, marriage will not last for eternity. Our relationship with Christ, however, will.

(2) "Marriage is a Picture of the Main Thing" Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:22-33
God said to Adam, "It is not good for man to be alone." He didn't say it because God was insufficient for man. He didn't say it because Adam needed something more than God. God said it in the middle of when He is going public with His glory (Genesis 1-2) and expressed that it would be best for His glory to be displayed by creating a help mate suitable for Adam. That display would be a demonstration of how Christ and the church operate toward one another. Thus, marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.

(3) "Meaningful Marriage Happens When We Focus on the Main Thing"
Various Scriptures
The purpose of this sermon was to stress the importance of each spouse seeing the other through the lens of the cross. If each spouse is born again and forgiven and free by repentance and faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then they are right before God. Spouses MUST remember that their spouse is made right with God by the blood of Jesus Christ.

(4) "Husbands: Love Like Christ"
Ephesians 5:23, 25-30, 33
Husbands are to lead their wives by sacrificially loving them for their spiritual good and the good of themselves. When your wife is thriving, husbands, so are you!

(5) "Wives: Submit Like the Church"
Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1-6
Wives are to bring themselves under the authority of her husband by following his lead out of trust in him and/or hope in God. If the husband is laying his life down for the good of his wife, then out of trust in him and in God, she is to follow his lead and submit to his authority.

*God ordained these roles to be as they are. Couples are to exude this picture in their marriages so as to be a video to the world of how Christ and the church operate. It was not good for Adam to be alone because by himself he could not display that picture as adequately as God desired.

(6) "The Key to a Great and Successful Family"
Matthew 20:20-28
The purpose of this message was to show that parents should desire greatness for their children. Greatness from God's viewpoint. Not greatness as the world sees it. Greatness according to God is a heart that is so in love with Him and so enthralled by Him that he or she is willing to lay their life down so that others can see and know and have God. So, the key to a great and successful family is to provide an atmosphere at home where the primary objective is to see the children grow in love for God and people.

(7) "Preparing Your Child for Greatness"
Ephesians 6:4

(8) "Obedience that Leads to Greatness"
Ephesians 6:1-3

These final two messages examined what Paul had to say to both Christian children and Christian parents in how to best provide that environment to grow up to be great in the eyes of God. Again, it is all about a picture that God designed. Parents (especially fathers!) you are to show your children what God is like. This is done by knowing them and loving them intimately and disciplining them the way God does His children and educating them about who He is. Children, you are to respond to your parents the way God's children respond to Him. We learn obedience to God in how we obey mom and dad. The picture? God relating to His children is to be modeled in the way parents relate to their children.


Just this week I have come across three articles that give evidence to the importance of the family. Two are written by Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. One is written by John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. The two The articles by Dr. Mohler reveal the importance of a family in shaping one's view about God and how churches are benefitting from solid families. You can find those articles here and here. The article written by Dr. Piper discusses the importance of children and youth knowing right biblical doctrine and how that shapes their behavior. You can read that very insightful article here.

God created the family the way He did for a reason. The purpose is to display Him and know Him and love Him and glorify Him. He is the main thing!

Friday, August 3, 2007

An Incredible Presentation of the Gospel

I dare say that there is no more important thing than getting the Gospel right. Knowing it rightly. Communicating it rightly. Urging people to respond to it rightly. It is what Christian people are about.
I am going to link you to a message I heard while running not long ago that I think communicates the Gospel in one of the best ways I have ever heard it communicated. It was delivered by pastor John Piper to a group of men in October of 2006 at a Men's Conference. The title of the message is: "Jesus Died to Bring You to God."
In it Pastor Piper gives explanations as to why Jesus came and His connection with the Old Testament and how the Old Testament works with the New Testament. He shares the elements of the Gospel that are vitally important. He exhorts his hearers to respond to the Gospel and put all hope in the Person of Jesus Christ. On and on I could go, but I will stop so that you can go and listen to it.
Listen so you will understand the Gospel better.
Listen so you will understand how the Bible fits together better.
Listen with a lost friend so that they can understand the Gospel better.
Listen with a lost friend so that they can know Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives.
Listen so that you will love and cherish and adore Jesus better.
The longer I am a pastor and a Christian and a dad and a husband I see the importance of not only knowing the Gospel, but knowing it rightly and allowing it to consume every part of my life.
You can download and listen to the the message here. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What Do You Think?

I have been doing some thinking. Going out and sharing the Gospel in various ways during Mission-Wynne has prompted a number of discussions with church goers, non church goers, lost people, saved people, people who think that they are saved people, etc.
I have two questions I want to pose to anyone who reads this blog (my mom and perhaps one or two others...that is, if my mom even reads it!) and encourage you to comment on what you think. Here goes...

I have asked a question similar to this one several times this week: "What do you think is required for someone to enter into heaven?" The responses have been varied. One that I have heard more than I thought I would have is the "good works" answer. In other words, many have responded by saying "be good" or "read your Bible" or "pray alot" or "go to church" or "love people." Later on in the conversation, however, when Jesus is mentioned and what He did on the cross for our sins, the response shifts to something like, "Oh yeah, well I've done that!" In other words, when the conversation moves to Jesus, something triggers their memory about a prayer they have prayed or an experience they had in the past.

Question #1: What does a response like this say about their salvation? What does it say about evangelism? Can you get the wrong answer about what it takes to get into heaven and be saved? I would love anyone's feedback. (I know, I know, that's more than one question!)


Question #2: Can a person be saved yet be living in unrepentant sin? Or, to say it another way, can you truly be a Christian and be living in a sinful and immoral lifestyle? Again, I would love your feedback.

**Any Bible verses you can provide to strengthen your answer would be appreciated.

What It's All About!

This week is "Mission-Wynne" at Wynne Baptist Church. Our goal has been to love on this city and to spread the Gospel as efficiently and effectively as humanly possible. It has been a wonderful week. The following is an e-mail I received this morning. It is reference to our church-wide outreach dinner that was encouraged for last night (July 18th). The purpose was to intentionally invite a lost person/family over for dinner with the aim of starting a spiritual conversation with them. Of course, the goal is to see them ultimately respond to the Gospel and embrace Christ as their Lord. In the copied e-mail I am going to paste here, I have eliminated the names, for, I know the intent is not to be known but to share what God is doing. I share it with you simply because it blessed me to see creativity used to share the Gospel and how urgent some of our people are to make Christ known. Enjoy!




Dear Bro. Matt,

Just wanted to share briefly about how ______ and I shared the gospel tonight. We both realized that our husbands would not be available to have another couple in our home ... her husband, ______, is in (Texas), and my husband, _______, had to work (his) shift tonight. So we decided to have a "Neighbor Ladies Night Out" at ______ house. (She) made up an invitation and went to her neighbors Monday. She invited twelve. Three came for a delicious dinner of taco salad and pecan pie.

After our meal and a relaxed time of getting to know one another we made a gospel bracelet. My part was to share the meaning of each color in the bracelet and to share my testimony. No, it was not share perfectly and yes, I probably forgot a scripture or two, but the Holy Spirit was there and He blessed me with a calm spirit, and my confidence was 100 percent in Him and not me. What a blessing to share the good news with these ladies. I do not think that they are believers, and as far as I know they did not accept Jesus tonight, but God is working in their hearts. They came, because, I believe, that they know they have a need that they cannot meet. We did not hide the fact that we would be sharing the gospel in the invitation that was given to them.

Now we need to be faithful in praying for them. They need Jesus ... just as you and I do! Everyday of my life I realize that I need Him more and more.

(We) are going to do the same thing at my house with my neighbors in September. We had a blast! There is nothing better than serving our Great God.

I have no doubt that Mission Wynne will be a great success. Monday I was able to share with a young mother looking for a church home. I followed up with her on Tuesday and hopefully, she and her family will be in church Sunday.

Bless you, Pastor ... have a great day!

Jesus is LORD!!!






Now that, my friends, is "What It's All About!" May these ladies who heard the Gospel come to know Christ and may a passion for sharing Him spread across our church and town!
If you have seen God work and want to share it with me and anyone else who may be reading this blog, publish a comment and I will have it posted as soon as I get it. Let's be busy sharing what all God is doing!

Friday, July 13, 2007

God Stuff

No, I didn't mispell "Good Stuff." The title is intentionally called "God Stuff." It implies good stuff with a God-centered perspective.

I try to run 3 miles or so several times a week in effort to keep off the "Baptist Belly." I like to eat, I am surrounded by good cooks, and I don't want to be a heavy preacher. So, I have to run in effort to keep it off. While I run, I usually listen to a sermon that I have downloaded to my MP3 player. Doing so keeps my attention off what I am doing (running!) and it helps challenge and encourage me in my daily walk with the Lord.
Over the past several days I have listened to some incredible messages/radio broadcasts. I am going to include links to them here so that you may also listen for your own growth in the Lord.

One message is on the importance of the church by Voddie Baucham. This was delivered at the Southern Baptist Convention during the Founders organization breakfast.
Listen carefully to what he says. I think he is right on in many ways.
Listen to it by clicking here and scrolling down until you see the phrase "listen to Voddie Baucham's excellent message." Click on that highlighted phrase and it will take you right to the message.

Another message is by pastor John Piper. It is one of the best sermons on the "divorce passages" I have ever heard. If you have ever wondered what those passages meant, this is a good place to start.
Read, listen, and/or watch the message by clicking here.

The third message I am including here is a radio broadcast from the Al Mohler program. This was a broadcast devoted to discussing how to best reach children with the Gospel. It offers some tremendous insight.
You can listen by clicking here.

Please note that simply because I encourage listening to these messages does not necessarily mean I wholeheartedly agree with EVERYTHING these individuals say. On a whole, I think they are very good resources for God's people and helpful for those longing to be true to the Word of God and honor our Lord in all we do and say.
Please enjoy this "God Stuff." I pray your soul is as enriched as mine was/is.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Deacon Election at WBC - Part III

Two Sundays down, two Sundays to go for WBC to make deacon nominations. So far we have had a flood of names turned in. Actually, I am being very sarcastic. We have had one name turned in to the "Deacon Nomination Review Committee."
This is due to one or more of the following reasons:
(1) You are still diligently praying about who to nominate and you haven't heard from God yet.
(2) You have forgotten.
(3) You asked one of the men in our church and he was not willing to serve.
(4) You thought someone else would make the nomination.
(5) You assume it will just work itself out without your help.
(6). You thought someone else nominated the man you wanted to nominate.

Whatever the reason for not turning in a nomination, don't worry about it and do it! If you are reading this and are a member of our great church, do the following four steps please: (a). Scan the qualifications of a God-called man to serve as deacon at WBC; (b). Ask God whom he wants you to nominate; (c). Ask the man whether or not he is willing to serve; (d). Turn in the nomination form in the offering bucket, welcome center, church office, or the boxes outside sanctuary.

If you are reading this and have been approached by a member whom God has led to talk to you, please do the following two steps: (a). Ask God (not your emotions or your circumstances) if this is His will; (b). According to what the Lord says, tell the individual "YES!"

Bottom line: get busy doing this Wynne Baptist! Hearing from God and electing men whom God has brought to the surface to serve as deacon will keep us in the center of His perfect will. It will also move us all one step closer toward being the healthy church that loves Christ and loves people with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

"As Iron Sharpens Iron..."

"...so one man sharpens the other" This is according to Proverbs 27:17. The point? We need each other so we can sharpen each other. Yesterday morning in my message to husbands, I feel as if I left out a very important practice that all men need to be participating in: accountability groups. I believe a major benefit to all of our marriages is having another male ask us the hard and difficult questions. It may be just you and one other guy. It may be you and two or three other guys. The size of the group isn't all that important (though I wouldn't exceed over five in number). What's important is that you place yourself in an environment where you are held to the fire about your personal life, your family life, your thought life, your growth in godliness, etc. This "holds us accountable" to being the men we are called to be. It keeps us out of the rut of thinking "I'll do that another day" and helps prevent us from committing a gross and heinous sin that could cost us our families. We need to heed this verse and sharpen one another
What follows are some questions to get you started. These questions are not original with me. They are a compilation of questions I have come across from various sources in recent years. Read through them and evaluate yourself with them. Then, find someone you trust who will ask you these same questions every week. I believe doing this will remove us another step away from divorce and a step closer toward our wives and families.


Accountability Questions:

What has been dominating your thoughts this week?

Have you put yourself in a compromising position with another woman this past week?

How are you handling the finances God has given you?

Have you been in the Word with protected and unhurried time?

What issues are you and your wife dealing with this week?

Describe your relationship with each of your kids this week.

Are you in their lives?

What is happening at work that excites you? Frustrates you? Tempts you?

Have you shared the Gospel with anyone this week? If not, why?

What verses have you memorized this week?

Are you getting that much-needed exercise or blowing it off?

Are you having any fun?

What is your personal risk area right now in your life?

Are you shooting straight with me or did you just blow me smoke?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Deacon Election at WBC - Part II

Why make such a big deal about deacon qualifications? Is it really that important that a man meet certain criteria prior to being nominated and/or elected as a deacon of a local church? At Wynne Baptist Church, we believe it most certainly is.
There are two main reasons why:

(1). The Bible sees it as important.
The Holy Spirit inspired Luke and Paul to mention qualifications for the deacon in their writings. Luke recorded the apostles saying that deacons must be men "full of the Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3). Paul wrote to Timothy that "Deacons...must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well" (1 Timothy 3:8-12).
So, the very fact that the Holy Spirit inspired both Luke and Paul to include qualifications for deacons informs us that we too must see it as vitally important.

(2). Qualifications identify both a calling and a seriousness from the man elected deacon.
What I mean is this. I believe God calls certain men to be deacons at a church. Deacons aren't better than any other man, just like pastors aren't better than any other man. They are men called of God to serve a vital position (see Part I). In addition, men that meet these qualifications demonstrate a seriousness about their Christian walk and a serious love for the church of Jesus Christ. The office of deacon is a serious position. As Paul said in 1 Timothy 3:15 (three verses after the list of qualifications), the church is "the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth." What results when the "household of God" is operating the way God intended with God called, qualified pastors and deacons? A corporate confession of the majesty of Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 3:16).

Qualifications are important for deacons. The following is a list of qualifications a man must meet prior to being elected as deacon at Wynne Baptist Church:

Shall be a Spirit-filled man.

Shall set a high standard of separated Christian living.

Shall be active and faithful to all major areas of church life.

Shall not be a gossiper.

Shall believe in and practice Christian stewardship by tithing.

Shall have compassion for the lost, and seek in his living and speech to win them to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Shall be a single man or the husband of one living wife, having never been divorced.

Must believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, without error, the source of authority for precept and practice.

Must believe in salvation by grace, through faith, on the basis of the substitutionary death of Christ for sinners.

Must rule his children and own house well.

Shall do all in his power to create and preserve harmony in the church.

Shall be able to keep, and have the reputation for keeping, in confidence those things which should not be discussed with others.

Shall recognize the God-given spiritual leadership that is incumbent upon the office of a pastor and seek to serve under that leadership.

Shall seek to minimize the murmuring to the maximum.

Shall support by faith and action The Church Covenant and the Baptist Faith and Message (2000).



Pray through these, asking God to reveal to you whom He perhaps has called to serve as deacon. Go tell him that God has led you to him. Ask him if he is willing. If so, nominate him by turning in a form to the church office. May God keep His hand on our church by taking serious what He takes serious for the glory of His name.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Lawn Mower Theology

Have you ever noticed you have a lot of time to do nothing but think while mowing the grass?

Have you ever wondered why God created wasps (or "ouchy bugs" as my son calls them) and mosquitoes? While I was mowing this past weekend (and dodging the wasps and scratching the bites on my body), I had some time to ponder why God created these terrorizing creatures.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." That includes mowing the grass.
Here are some thoughts that came to my mind while I mowed...

1. To give us a longing for heaven.
I don't believe there will be wasps or mosquitoes in heaven. No pain. No suffering. Oh how wonderful it will be to sit outside beholding the glory of the Lord with people from every nation, tribe, and language without having to swat or duck! No distractions from the adoration of the King of all kings!

2. To make us hate sin.
After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God told Adam: "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you...cursed is the ground because of you...thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you..." (See Genesis 3:17-18) I cannot help but think that one of the reasons wasps have stingers and mosquitoes have "whatever-it-is-that-cause-us-to-itch" is due to the sin of Adam. Oh how I hate sin and the effects of it everywhere around us. Sin destroys. Sin corrupts. Oh how I hate sin!

3. To remind us that we humans ain't much.
This past weekend I have allowed tiny little mosquitoes and tiny little wasps (not to mention tiny little flies!) bother me and annoy me to no end. Those little bitty creatures messing with six foot four, two hundred and fifteen pound me! How dare they! Yet they did. Wasps scare me. Mosquitoes make a buffet out of my ankle. I ain't much. In the grand scheme of things, this human can be beat up by a bug! Why? So this little human can spend his life making much a big God! I can be brought down by a little insect. NOTHING, however, can bring down God. He is a Rock. He is a Fortress. He is an EVER-PRESENT Help in Trouble! My life is to be spent, not making much of measly little me, but exalting the great and majestic God of the universe!

4. To give us a taste of the love and protection of our heavenly Father.
When an "ouchy bug" (wasp) gets close to my boys Luke and Seth I go on an all out attack to take crush the bug and dispatch it into eternity! I do NOT want them to get stung. Likewise, when mosquitoes have supper on Luke's legs, I hurt for him because I see the misery he is in scratching and scratching and scratching! Thus, the first order of business is to get to the store and get the ointment that relieves the constant itching! I hate seeing them hurt or oppressed in any way. They are so helpless!
Ponder this from Jesus in Matthew 7:11 - "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" Breathtaking. Overwhelming. What a heavenly Father we believers have in Christ.

5. To be consumed with the blood of the Lamb.
This may be a stretch, but hang with me, okay? I pondered what drove mosquitoes. I mean they flock to human flesh in a matter of milliseconds! Why? Blood. They are consumed with blood. They long for the blood to fill them.
There is a blood that must drive us believers as well. Not just any human blood of course. We aren't vampires or mosquitoes. We are to be consumed with the blood of our precious Savior, Jesus Christ, that is the punishment we deserve for our sins.
Remember what Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16 when He was reflecting on His upcoming suffering and death? Peter told him it would never happen to Him. Jesus called him Satan and said that he wasn't thinking on the things of God, but on the things of man. In other words, "the things of God" are the slaughter, death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. The bloody cross must be a consuming passion of ours.
Or consider these words from Jesus in John 6:53-54 - "Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."
Oh how wonderful is the blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sins! May I ever rejoice in what Christ did to accomplish salvation for this desperate soul.

A few reasons, perhaps, why God created wasps and mosquitoes. I know, I know...too much time on the lawnmower.