Thursday, December 31, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:36 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:23 AM
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
These have been very, very helpful for me this week as I contemplate 2010. Be both challenged and blessed as you consider them...
10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year
Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.
Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you "Consider your ways." Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.
11. What's the most important decision you need to make this year?
12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you could simplify in that area?
13. What's the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?
14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
17. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?
18. What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
19. What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?24. What's the most important trip you want to take this year?
25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?
27. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?
30. What's the most important new item you want to buy this year?
31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?
The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn't considered the question.
If you've found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace—in a day planner, PDA, calendar, bulletin board, etc.—where you can review them more frequently than once a year.
So let's evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage" (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let's also remember our dependence on our King who said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:02 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 6:58 AM
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Get these quotes sent to you everyday here.
“This is the kind of faith, let us remember, that God delights to honor. We see the proof of that at this very day. Wherever the Bible is read the conduct of these wise men is known, and told as a memorial of them. Let us walk in the steps of their faith. Let us not be ashamed to believe in Jesus and confess Him, though all around us remain careless and unbelieving. Have we not a thousand-fold more evidence than the wise men had, to make us believe that Jesus is the Christ? Beyond doubt we have. Yet where is our faith?”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:13 AM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Suppose I asked you to name the greatest miracle that ever took place? If you know the Bible you have lots to choose from. God rescued three from a blazing furnace. He closed the mouths of lions and demolished the walls of Jericho. Blind men saw; lame men walked. God parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel walked through on dry ground. But, none of these are the greatest miracle. Even God speaking creation into existence is not the greatest miracle.The incarnation is the greatest miracle that ever took place.The incarnation was when Jesus, though God Himself, was born as a baby in Bethlehem. God became humanity without in any way ceasing to be deity.According to theologian Wayne Grudem, “[The incarnation] is by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible – - far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing even than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe (Grudem, 563).”
Paraphrasing John Murray, “The incarnation means that God who never began to be . . . as God, began to be what he eternally was not (Murray, Vol. 2, 132). It is the most amazing, the most incredible miracle that will ever happen.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:06 AM
“We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible. It is a faith that deserves to be placed side by side with that of the penitent thief. The thief saw one dying the death of a criminal, and yet prayed to Him and ‘called Him Lord.’ The wise men saw a new-born babe on the lap of a poor woman, and yet worshiped Him and confessed that He was Christ. Blessed indeed are those that can believe in this fashion!”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:58 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:52 AM
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:42 PM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:00 PM
Monday, December 7, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 7:41 PM
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:40 AM
From Justin Taylor:
“A worship leader should never say, “Sing it like you mean it.” We should always mean it.”
“People walk in every Sunday with the problem that everything in their lives has become bigger than God.”
“The worship leader links heart-stirring music with biblical truth . . . to let the Word of Christ dwell in people richly.”
“In both counseling and worship we can rely on technique and forget all we have is Christ.”
“Leading worship is a pastoral function before it’s a musical one.”
“Pay attention to the syntax of hymns. Some are about God, drawing our hearts toward Him. Others are unto God, giving our faith direct expression to God.”
“Counseling needs to do more than analysis and problem-solving; it needs to evoke the thing it seeks to create.”
“Biblical counseling is worship, and repentance, and faith, and hearing and loving and needing God.”
“Way more often than we imagine, people need reminding, not informing.”
“The world in which we counsel is the same world in which we worship & pray.”
“The word ‘technique’ is actually offensive in ministry.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:33 AM
From the Gospel Coalition blog:
Caring For Orphans While Soaked with a Sense of Exile
by Dan Cruver
Yesterday, I was deeply moved by something that I read in a letter that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher. As I reflected upon his words, it occurred to me that he touches on something that is profoundly relevant to the global orphan crisis.
"We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’. If you come to think of it, your (very just) horror at the stupid murder of the hawk, and your obstinate memory of this ‘home’ of yours in an idyllic hour (when often there is an illusion of the stay of time and decay and a sense of gentle peace) are derived from Eden (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 110)."
One of the challenges for Christians in the Western world is that we are often guilty of trying to dry up our profound “sense of exile” with the non-absorbent paper towels of the incomplete joys of this world. That’s not to say that it is wrong for Christians to enjoy themselves in the here-and-now. God gives His children many good gifts that we are to enjoy now with gratitude in our hearts. But our here-and-now enjoyment was never meant to be the way we deal with the deep ache of exile. When we deal with our “sense of exile” by using God’s good gifts to self-medicate, we will find ourselves moving away from the world’s most needy rather than to them. Self-medicating people are not easily mobilized for self-sacrificial service.
The reality is that we are in exile. Eden has been lost. We are exiles in the here-and-now (1 Peter 1:1). The period of time in which we live as exiles is deeply marked by suffering and unrest (Romans 8:18). The presence of 143,000,000 vulnerable and orphaned children in the world is irrefutable evidence of that fact.
Although we find ourselves in exile – still soaked with a deep sense of Eden-lost — God has not left us to wander aimlessly within it. He has not left us alone to cope with our deep sense of exile through self-medicating behavior. No, Jesus entered into our exile, became a man of sorrows, was forsaken by the Father at the cross in order that he might lead us out of our exile into eternal belonging. Jesus endured the very worst of our exile in order that he might bring us home!
What Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection has provided us with “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19-20) in the midst of our exile. As a result, we can enjoy the incomplete joys of this world without using them to deal with our deep sense of exile. Only when we rest in what Jesus has already done to one day bring us back home (Romans 8:19-23) are we able to move toward our world’s most needy.
The gospel takes those who are marked with a deep sense of exile, frees them from the “need” to self-medicate, and moves them out to serve the orphan, the widow, and the marginalized. Only by the power of the gospel can we do the self-sacrificial work of caring for orphans while soaked with the sense of exile.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:30 AM
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
So I am currently working on my PhD dissertation and had to share the following exerpt from a sermon given by Theodoret of Cyrus, probably around 435 A.D. The sermon quotation is found in the third sermon in a series of ten on the providence of God. The title of the sermon is "Demonstrations from the Composition of the Human Body."
Here's the quote:
"Mark another manifestation of His providence. The body provides the natural couch of the buttocks so that you can make a seat out of the ground or a stone and not be hurt by sitting on bare limbs. You are ungrateful notwithstanding. You fail to recognize the gifts, and rave and rant against the wisdom that makes such provision for you."
I must confess. I have never thanked God for my rear end. Thank you, Theodoret, for such a solemn reminder.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:38 PM
Monday, November 30, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:31 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:03 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:50 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:33 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:25 AM
I encourage you to click on the link below and ponder the lostness and the work that followers of Jesus have before us. Warning: The pictures are haunting.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:03 AM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:06 PM
Why We Are Adopting For Life
This past summer, my denomination adopted a resolution “On Adoption and Orphan Care,” while my sons stood in the crowded room watching. It was one of the most emotionally weighty experiences of my life.
I knew the resolution by itself wasn’t going to spark an orphan care movement among Christians. Neither is my book on adoption, and neither are a thousand manifestoes on the subject. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as local churches start to embrace a vision for orphan care.
The resolution, though, was meant to prompt some questions. If one person in that convention hall was moved to simply pray, “Lord, how would you have me minister to orphans?” then the resolution was a success in my view. If one pastor was prompted to ponder how he could preach on adoption, or lead a foster care ministry among his folks, then the work has started.
I was overwhelmed with emotion on the platform to see my sons, two little ex-orphans, looking out on a sea of yellow ballots as thousands of my brothers and sisters affirmed that we want to be the people who love fatherless children. I realized that, in an alternative story, my boys would still be in an orphanage, not knowing even the name of Christ Jesus. But there they were, watching the world’s largest Protestant denomination recognize there are hundreds of thousands of children as helpless and alone as they once were.
There’s a long way to go. Literally one day after the resolution vote, I received correspondence from an employee of a denominational agency saying that adoption and orphan care doesn’t fit under the “umbrella” of “evangelism and missions.” Tell that to the thousands of children who know Christ today because they are growing up in Christian homes, rather than in institutions or on the streets. And tell it to Jesus who says something very different to us (Jas. 1:27). Following the Great Commission requires moving beyond short-sighted definitions of “evangelism and missions” as rallies and revivals.
But something is afoot among Christian families and churches of virtually every kind. God is calling the people of Christ to see the face of Jesus in the faces of orphans in North America and around the world. All brothers and sisters in Christ who affirm a belief in the authority of Scripture are recognizing that the Bible tells us that pure religion is defined by “care for the fatherless.”
As those who should be defined by our commitment to evangelism, we must confess that there is no greater field as “white unto harvest” right now as children in orphanages, group homes and the foster care system, children who don’t know a parent’s love and who don’t know the name of Jesus.
When Satan wars against children, we should be the ones who have compassion on them, even as Jesus did and does.
My prayer is that twenty years from now there will be thousands of pastors, missionaries and church leaders who started their lives as orphans, but are now preaching the gospel of God their Father.
Not many years ago, through infertility, miscarriage and two little boys in a Russian orphanage, the Lord changed my understanding of the gospel, of missions and of myself.
The Bible, after all, tells us that human families are reflective of an eternal fatherhood (Eph. 3:14-15). We know, then, what human fatherhood ought to look like on the basis of how Father God behaves toward us. But the reverse is also true. We see something of the way our God is fatherly toward us through our relationships with our own human fathers. And so Jesus tells us that in our human father’s provision and discipline we get a glimpse of God’s active love for us (Matt. 7:9-11; cf. Heb. 12:5-7). The same is at work in adoption.
If you sense the Lord may be calling you to adoption, or if you want to start a discussion on orphan care in your church, I hope you’ll join me for the “Adopting for Life” conference February 26-27, 2010, on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
You may be wondering whether this will be a conference about the doctrine of adoption or “real” adoption. Well, one of the things that we’ll be discussing is the fact that you can’t talk about the one without talking about the other. Also, it is not as though we master one aspect and then move to the other — from the vertical to the horizontal or the other way around. That’s not the picture God has embedded in his creation work.
So we’ve invited a number of great speakers to “Adopting for Life” — speakers such as David Platt, Jedd Medefind and Justin Taylor, with worship led by Andrew Peterson — who will seek to equip us to create a culture of adoption in our families and churches. We’ll be answering questions such as, “What does adoption have to do with the Great Commission?”, “How can I pay for adoption?”, and “How can we start an adoption ministry in my church?” — along with so many others.
I would love to see you here in Louisville for the “Adopting for Life” conference, as we think together about how God might be leading us to be on mission with Christ for the sake of the orphans of the world.
Join me and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we talk about how we can carry out the Great Commission through adoption. After all, adoption is about more than a manifesto. Caring for the orphans of the world, in the end, is about the gospel of our Lord — and our brother — Jesus.
Russell D. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ and Adopted for Life.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:54 PM
Kevin DeYoung posts an article that is extremely insightful and full of discernment about what is commonly preached today, versus what is the true, biblical, and authentic Gospel.
Click here to go directly to his blog and read what he writes about this. I would love to read any comments any of you have regarding what he says.
Here is a quote from the article to whet your appetite:
"Please, please, please, if you are enamored with the New Gospel or anything like it, consider if you are really being fair with your fellow Christians in always throwing them under the bus. Consider if you are preaching like Jesus did, who called people, not first of all to a way of life, but to repent and believe (Mark 1:15). And as me and my friends consider if we lack the necessary patience and humility to speak tenderly with non-Christians, consider if your God is a lopsided cartoon God who never takes offense at sin (because sin is more than just un-neighborliness) and never pours out wrath (except for the occasional judgment against the judgmental). Consider if you are giving due attention to the cross and the Lamb of God who died there to take away the sin of the world. Consider if your explanation of the Christian message sounds anything like what we hear from the Apostles in the book of Acts when they engage the world."
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:11 AM
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Why I am hopeful about the GCR movement
Over the last several months I have repeatedly been asked why I support the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) and the broader impetus that led to its formation. A full explanation would include some necessary nuances and caveats that transcend the limits of a blog post, but the main reasons can at least be summarized here. These are, quite obviously, my opinions.I believe:
The SBC is unhealthy to the point that if it does not significantly change, it will become irrelevant beyond recovery within a few years. There are many who share my concerns--some of whom have already checked out of convention life while others are headed that way if things don't change for the better.
The SBC represents loads of potential for being an instrument of great good in the kingdom of God. It has been such in the past, and still is in some degree at present, but the potential is greater than anything we have seen thus far.
There are others in the SBC who don't think about theology and missiology at all.
There are still over 6000 unreached people groups in the world--2000 years after our Lord commissioned His church to make disciples of all peoples.
The leaders who are at the helm of the call for a GCR are trustworthy men. I disagree with them on some doctrinal issues. But I do agree with them on the most important points of doctrine and I believe them to be men of integrity who will not kowtow to political pressure, even if it causes them to stand against men they esteem and love.
The GCRTF could--and should--come back with radical, convention-shocking recommendations that are rooted in a vision to marshal our resources to reach the nations.
The call for a GCR could be the greatest hope of this generation to unite churches around the gospel, under the sovereignty of God, to give our utmost energies to making disciples of the nations.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:40 AM
Friday, November 20, 2009
by Kevin DeYoung
When Phillips Brooks famously defined preaching as “the communication of truth through personality” I do believe he was talking about your own personality and not someone else's. It has taken me awhile, but I finally feel like I have learned to be myself in the pulpit. Now whether this means my sermons are better or worse I can’t say. But being myself means my preaching is more genuine, more comfortable, and more sustainable. I know I have a lot to learn as a preacher, and I hope that ten years from now I’ll still get those awkward but true compliments–“your preaching has really improved over the years.” But at 32 I feel like I’m finally preaching the truth through my own personality.Like most young preachers, and not a few old ones, I’ve struggled to find my “voice” as a preacher.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:34 PM
This prison is the largest maximum-security prison in America. It is one of the most famous prisons in the whole world. It has only murderers, rapists, armed robbers and habitual felons. The average sentence is 88 years, with 3,200 people in one place serving life sentences. Ninety percent of the inmates will die here. This is a place of hopelessness, so if Angola can change, the rest of the country’s prisons can’t say, “We can’t do this.”
There is a local extension of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the prison and about 140 prisoners are enrolled. There are six churches in the prison and they train their own pastors. They send trained “missionaries” to other prisons to plant churches. They do this without using any tax money. But O the money—and lives—it saves!
Violence in the prison is rare. Courtesy and respect is pronounced. The ministry team of women who were visiting at the same time we were said they were treated with more respect from prisoners here, than in many places on the “outside.” Public profanity is not allowed.
The 42-inch church bell hangs high over the chapel in a prisoner-built tower. They rescued the bell from storage where it had been put after falling and killing a man. Some of the prisoners say: The bell killed a man and we killed a man, but now the bell and we serve the Lord Jesus.
Warden Cain says: I am as nice as they let me be and as mean as they make me be. Given the job he is given to do, it is a good motto.
The Warden answered all G.B.’s questions about what the last day would be like and who from his family and the press could be there. He gave G.B. unusual privileges for these last seven weeks. He was manifestly compassionate while stating the facts with precision. I took G.B.’s picture with my phone and said I would pray for him. (Perhaps you would too.)
I preached with all my heart to those who could fit in the chapel, and to the rest by closed circuit television. G.B. (and three others on Death Row) told me they’d be watching. I pulled no punches:
For 90% of you the next stop is not home and family, but heaven or hell. O what glorious news we have in that situation. And believe me it is not the prosperity of Gospel. Jesus came and died and rose again not mainly to be useful, but to be precious. And that he can be in Angola as well as Atlanta. Perhaps even more.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:15 PM
I found these posts by Jonathan Dodson very interesting.
I would love to hear your thoughts on some of these suggestions. Dodson lists three ways to ensure your church is not "missional."
1. Be Event Driven. Click here to read.
2. Be Evangelism Driven. Click here to read.
3. Be Social-Action Driven. Click here to read.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:08 PM
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:51 PM
Below is a post from Mike Pohlman from the Gospel Coalition site...
Suffering, Adoption, and the Gospel
Dan Cruver, director of Together for Adoption, has a moving couple of blog posts describing what he learned about the gospel of Christ through the suffering and death of his first son Daniel and adoption of his second son Noah Daniel.
Thank you, Dan, for your willingness to share the comfort you’ve received in Christ with those who may be in the midst of affliction (cf. 2 Cor. 1:3-7).
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:47 PM
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
"As Christians we understand that the orphan crisis has a direct connection to the devastation of sin brought about by the fall of man. Consider the reasons why children are abandoned. These children have lost their parents because of war, genocide, natural disaster, disease, poverty, and the list goes on and on. The root problem goes back to the garden; sin is the “great orphan maker.” As Christians, we know that Christ destroyed the power of sin at the cross, and offers redemption by grace.
"As Christians we are adopted as sons and daughters and God uses us as the vehicles by which he demonstrates his love to a lost world. Think about it, the church is the community that gives the world a foretaste of the renewed creation, when all things will be “made new”. We have the responsibility of living now in light of what will one day be. And, who is more fully equipped to address the global orphan crisis than the church is?
"We are the people who have been entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the eternal message of hope. We understand that “one day the very word orphan will be eliminated from the human vocabulary.” But until that day comes we as a church have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel not only in word, but in deed. Remember what James wrote, “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
"Ed Stetzer has rightly said that “even the un-churched know that Jesus was involved in social justice, and they often wonder why the church is not. You are the church” I believe that God is moving in the global Church right now on behalf of these children. Let’s be honest, 143 million is a very large number. Now, some of these orphans end up in relatives homes, but many of them don’t. If these children survive it is because of orphanages, foster homes, and adoption. How can God use you in the work of orphan care?"
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:01 PM
One of the challenges of biblical interpretation is that some sentences–especially in Paul–can have so much information tightly packed into them. Skim the surface of them and you may have a general sense of what he’s saying, but God is in the details!
Here’s one suggestion. Try to put down on paper the various questions that the passage is answering. You might want to start with the standard questions (who, what, when, where, why, how).
Here’s one example: a single sentence from Romans 8:3-4:
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
How do all these clauses relate to each other?
What did God do?
He condemned sin in the flesh.
(Note: this is why Rom. 8:1 — “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”–is true. God has to condemn sin; he will either condemn your sin, or he has already condemned your sin in the sacrifice of his Son. Unite with Jesus and condemnation is gone forever.)
How did God condemn sin in the flesh?
By sending his own Son [Jesus].
In the likeness of sinful flesh.
Why (negatively) did Jesus come?
Why (positively) did Jesus come?
In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled.
Who are we (negatively)?
Those who do not walk according to the flesh.
Who are we (positively)?
Those who walk according to the Spirit.
Gerald Bray is Research Professor at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, and director of research for the Latimer Trust. This fall he is Scholar in Residence at Union University. He has taught theology for 30 years, is the author of numerous books, and is the editor of IVP’s Contours of Christian Theology series, penning its inaugural volume on The Doctrine of God. He is also the other of a large volume introducing the history of Biblical Interpretation. (Just to give you a sense of his learning and global interests, he is fluent in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek and Russian.)
He’s graciously answered a few questions for us on the basic questions to ask when interpreting Scripture.
What are the questions we should ask when approaching a passage of Scripture?
The first question we must ask of every biblical text is simply this—what does it tell us about God? What does it say about who he is and about what he does?
The second question is: what does this text say about us human beings? What are we meant to be and what has gone wrong?
The third and final question is: what has God done about this and what does he expect of us in the light of what he has done?
Asking these questions and seeking answers to them will help us interpret the Spirit’s message to Christ’s people and to each of us as individuals.
These genealogies bring us a message from God even if they appear on the surface to be barren and unprofitable. All we have to do in order to understand them is to ask the right questions about them and their meaning will be quickly opened up to us.
Let me ask you, then, to answer the three questions you posed above. What do they teach us about God?
They tell us that he is a faithful God, who keeps his covenant from one generation to another. Whoever we are and however far we may be from the source of our human life in Adam, we are part of his plan. Over the centuries we may have developed in different ways, lost contact with one another and even turned on each other in hostility, but in spite of all that we are still related to one another and interconnected in ways that may go beyond our immediate understanding or experience.
What do they tell us about ourselves?
They say that most of us are nobodies from the world’s point of view. We live and die in a long chain of humanity but there is not much that anyone will remember of us as individuals. At the same time, without us, future generations will not be born and the legacy of the past will not be preserved. We are part of a great cloud of witnesses, a long chain of faithful people who have lived for God in the place where he put them. Even if we know little about them we owe them a great debt of gratitude for their loyalty and perseverance when they had little or nothing to gain from it or to show for it.
What do they tell us about God’s dealings with us?
They tell us that we too are called to be obedient and to keep the faith we have inherited, passing it on undiminished to the next generation. They tell us that there is a purpose in our calling that goes beyond ourselves. Even if we are not glorified and leave little for posterity to remember us by, we shall nevertheless have made an indispensable contribution to the purposes of God in human history.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:38 PM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:13 AM
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Dan Cruver, at Together for Adoption writes the following:
What should motivate us to give financially for the good of an orphan?
by Dan ~ November 12th, 2009
Here’s one way to motivate people to give financially for the good of an orphan: “If you make at least $30,000 annually, your income is in the top 7.16% worldwide. You are one of the wealthiest people in the world. Orphans are the poorest in the world. What’s preventing you from giving financially for the good of an orphan? You can certainly afford to give something!”
Here’s another: “‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9). You know what it’s like to be the poorest of the poor. Remember that you were at one time without hope and without God in this world. You were a spiritual orphan. But God in His great kindness sent His Son so that you might receive adoption of sons. When Jesus was forsaken by his Father at the cross, he suffered infinite poverty. He was forsaken so that you could be forever embraced. Look at how much you are loved! The love of the Father is your main wealth. When Jesus became poor for your sake, he gave you the eternal embrace of his Father.”
Both of these ways of motivation are legitimate. But the first seeks to motivate Christians merely on ethical grounds. The second seeks to motivate by overwhelming them with the wealth of love that is theirs in Jesus. Tim Keller, commenting on 2 Corinthians 8:9, writes:
Jesus, the God-Man, had infinite wealth, but if he had held on to it, we would have died in our spiritual poverty. That was the choice—if he stayed rich, we would die poor. If he died poor, we could become rich. Our sins would be forgiven, and we would be admitted into the family of God. Paul was not giving this church a mere ethical precept, exhorting them to stop loving money so much and become more generous. Rather, he recapitulated the gospel.
This is what Paul was saying. Jesus gave up all his treasure in heaven, in order to make you his treasure—for you are a treasured people (1 Peter 2:9-10). When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours. Money will cease to be the currency of your significance and security, and you will want to bless others with what you have. To the degree that you grasp the gospel, money will have no dominion over you. Think on his costly grace until it changes you into generous people” (Counterfeit Gods, 67-68).
Yes, it is important to let people know what economic class they are in. We need to know how wealthy we are in comparison to most everyone else in the world. But if you really want to see people give, if you really want to see Christians become generous givers for the benefit of orphans, give them a fresh telling of the gospel. Melt their hearts with the good news of the gospel. Nothing motivates like the gospel. Nothing.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:31 PM
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday Morning, November 15th, 2009
"A Godward View of Money According to Ecclesiastes"
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, 6:1-6
Three Ways Money and/or Possessions are Meaningless in these Verses:
I. Wanting a lot of Money as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective
II. Having A lot of Money as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective
III. Owning A lot of Stuff as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective (6:1-6)
The Key to a Joy-filled Life: Contentment with God (5:18-20)
1 Timothy 6:6-8
Moving Toward a Life with Contentment and Joy in God:
1. Work toward putting a cap on your current lifestyle.
2. Getting more money is to be viewed as a direct means of demonstrating your supreme love of God.
3. Believe that this current economic recession or strenuous year for a farmer as a means of God’s protective grace for your soul.
4. Ecclesiastes 5 and 6 is not only true of an individual or a family, but true for the way a church operates as well.
5. Do an honest evaluation of your heart to, seeking as to whether or not your hope and joy is found in money or in God.
Sunday Evening, November 15th, 2009
“For GOD Has Done…” cont’d
How is it that one can know for certain that this has actually happened? (vs. 5-17)
(3). There is a longing to destroy the sinful works of the flesh (vs. 12-13).
What we must recognize right up front in Romans 8:12-13:
(a). Recognize where I get this third way to be certain of salvation.
(b). Recognize that there is a direct connection between verse 12 and what has gone before it (“So then…”)
(c). Recognize that the Christian life is war with one’s self.
Ways to fight indwelling sin according to Romans 8:12-13:
1. Ponder and embrace why Paul does NOT say that believers are debtors to the Spirit.
2. Be confident that you already have the power to fight sin by the Spirit that is in you.
3. Know clearly, however, what your role is and that overcoming sin is not automatic.
a.Recall that the war is not with the deeds themselves but within the spirit before
the deeds are committed – Ephesians 6:10-12
b.Fight inferior pleasures with a superior pleasure – John 16:13-14
c.Fight lies with truth – Ephesians 6:17
d.Fight by hoping in the greater outcome: life – Hebrews 12:1-2
Posted by Bro. Matt at 1:31 PM
1. He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
4. He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
5. He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:44 PM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:34 PM
Friday, November 13, 2009
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:15 PM