Good Reads 04.29.15 (on: our witness and work, the things that concern us, and more)

Here are some links to some good reads collected from other blogs this past week:

On being a Christian witness at work: How to Build a Faithful Witness at Work by Joshua Whetstein (click here)

We spend half of our awake life working. Let that sink in. Most of us spend more time with those at work than we do with our wives and children. “Authentic” and “organic” — the buzzwords abounding in today’s relational world — are typically applied to those places in our life like our churches and communities, but what about our workplaces?

On the things we let concern us: Getting Bored with the Right Things by Jared C. Wilson (click here)

Show [Jesus] the array of worldly treasures offered by the glossy pages in the grocery checkout line, their bold lines and photoshopped bait promising lurid gossip and fabricated scandals, and he rolls his eyes. Show him the latest People magazine cover, and he will yawn. (Oh, that Christians would YAWN more when the world tries to bait us into outrage over shallow things!) But show Jesus not People magazine, but people—needy, desperate, sinful people—people who are like sheep without a shepherd—put him in the thickest thick of dealing with souls, and he weeps, he prays, he loves.

On meditating on God’s word: We Know How to Meditate by Mike Leake (click here)

You and I know how to meditate. We do it all the time. The problem is few of us know how to meditate on God’s Word. We’ve gotten so much practice in ruminating on the thoughts of the world that we’ve grown ill-acquainted with giving our minds to the things of God.

On our dependence on God: Why You Should (Literally) Look at the World Upside Down by Trevin Wax (click here)

What happens when our love for God and the world increases in proportion to our realization of utter dependence on God? We are filled with gratitude.

Who Do You Imitate? (a meditation on the people we follow and the lives we live)

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:1

Think about your childhood hero—the person when you were young who you wanted to be like when you grew older. Think about his or her life now that you have more perspective: was he or she truly worthy of imitation?

Paul told the church at Corinth to imitate him. But he wasn’t interested in creating a bunch of little Pauls. It wasn’t his moments of weakness or failure he wanted them to mimic. Instead, he wanted them to follow what was Christ-like in him.

As followers of Jesus we are to become more like Jesus in our character, our purpose, and our love for others. God has given us his word telling us about Jesus and showing us his life, so we learn from it to follow. God has also given us something more visual: the lives of other faithful Christians.

These are men and women who have walked the walk and talked the talk. These are men and women who are a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us and showing us the ways of Jesus (Hebrews 11-12). Each one has a different personality, a different style, a different job, different experiences, and a different set of gifts; but each also has eyes focused on Jesus and they seek to do all things for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Who are the people you look to? Who are your examples? How are you at being an example for others?

Three things mark the lives of the people we are to imitate and the type of people we should be so others can imitate us. First, a great love and passion for God. Paul wrote that whatever we do, we are to do all things for God’s glory. Do the people I follow live their lives in such a way (and do I live my life in such a way) that God’s glory defines my priorities? Do we have honoring him in mind when we are in public around others, alone with our family, in front of our tv, or driving on the road? We are to love God and pursue his glory above all.

Second, a great love for others and a concern for their good. Paul wrote of Christian liberty in reference to a question the Corinthians asked about meat sacrificed to idols. In Christ there is great freedom, all things are lawful; but in Christ we must have great concern for our neighbor, not all things build up. So Paul wrote, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (10:23-24). Do the lives of the people I follow (does my life) show more concern for my neighbor’s good than for my own desires, liberties, and pleasures?

Third, a passion for others to know Jesus. Paul said, “I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (10:33). His point was we should strive to do all things without causing needless offense. The gospel itself is offensive enough to people who are not following Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:23). We should watch ourselves, our actions, and our words to avoid adding additional offense. Do the people I follow do this (do I do this)? After all, our hope is to lead people to the good news of great joy that they might find life in Jesus as we have. Putting up fences and driving wedges will never accomplish that.

Love God, love others—that is the core of what Paul taught. That is what Paul called others to imitate in him as he imitated Jesus. Do the people you follow have those same desires? Do you seek to make such love the passion of your life for others to follow?

This post is part of our ongoing journey though the Bible as a church.

Sunday 04.26.15 (Christ and the generations, men’s prayer breakfast, last Awana, and more)

This Sunday morning, we’ll take a look at Deuteronomy 6 and “Christ and the Generations.” We’ll see how one generation of the church is to invest itself in the next generation to show them love and faithfulness to Jesus.

Also, Sunday evening will be our last Awana for the 2014-15 school year. We’ll celebrate with grilled hotdogs for dinner at 5pm and the year end club at 530pm.

Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@815 Men’s Prayer Breakfast at Wimfield’s
@945 Small Group / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

@5pm Final Awana with hotdog dinner
@6pm Adult Bible Study in church library

Sermon Notes
“Christ and the Generations” Deuteronomy 6
To disciple across generations…

  • Make Christ the great passion and love of your life (6:4-6)
  • Know, teach, and speak often of God’s word (6:6-9)
  • Share the stories of your faith and God’s work in your life (6:20-25)

“How could God love and use me?” (a meditation on the regrets of the past and the joys of now)

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Shame.

We all feel it at different times, either for a present failure or a past way of life. The past comes back to haunt you, some people say. We can fear who we were, what we did, and what we feel like doing. It’s these times that the enemy comes and whispers in our ears, “God could never use you. You’re worthless.”

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he wrote to a group of people with a lot of problems. He pulled no punches, either. He told them in no uncertain terms, “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Our sin separates us from the goodness of God.

Paul listed several examples in which most of us could find a home. Maybe its sexual immorality where we have twisted God’s good gift. Maybe its greed and covetousness. Maybe its depending too much on a bottle or a can to drown sorrows and search for happiness. Maybe its…

Paul knew many in the Corinthian church had experienced the things he mentioned. And such were some of you. If that is where Paul stopped, these verses would not carry much hope and joy.

Yet he continued with but—a most powerful tiny contraction. This but changes things. This but pulls us out of shame and guilt and leads us into the joy of God’s grace. This but shows us a new person and a new identity.

In Jesus, we are washed. The sins of our lives once stained us like a child covered in dirt and grime after a day of romping through the mud. Yet God stripped those dirty clothes away, bathed us, and gave us fresh clothes unmarred by the filth. In Jesus we are sanctified. This is to be pure, holy, and righteous like Jesus. It’s a process throughout this life, but it’s also a guarantee. God will rid us fully of the presence and effects of sin, and it will be glorious. In Jesus we are justified. On our own there is shame and there is guilt. We have fallen well short of the righteousness God requires. Yet in giving us Jesus, the one who took our sin, God writes righteousness fulfilled throughout the story of our lives.

We are new. We are set free. We are forgiven. We are God’s beloved children.

underwaterLost and condemned in unrighteousness—such were some of you; but not anymore. This is a glorious breath of fresh air as we emerge from the pool in which we were drowning.

The enemy, Satan, wants to remind us of what was to take our minds off what is. He wants us to dwell on the thoughts of shame and guilt, to suffocate under the questions: “How could God love me? Look at all I’ve done. How could God use me? Look at how much I have failed.”

When God washed our sins away, he washed away the shame and guilt as well. He gives us new life and makes us part of his Family through Jesus precisely because he loves us already (1 John 4:7-21). He gives us new life and makes us part of his Family precisely because he has determined already to use us for his glory (Ephesians 2:10).

When you feel the weight of shame and guilt, when you hear the voice echo in your head, “God can’t use you, you’re not good enough.” Say, “You’re right, Satan, but Jesus is. In him I rest and live. In him I have been washed, sanctified, and justified. In him, I am a child of God and will be used for his glory.” Let this joy of the now overwhelm the regrets of the past.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

Good Reads (04.22.15) on life’s purpose, the love of Jesus, difficult days, and more…

Here are a collection of links over this past week that provide some good reads:

On life’s purpose: You Will Change the World by Jon Bloom http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-will-change-the-world (click here)

Your very existence has already unalterably changed the course of world history. All of us, from the child who does not survive the womb to the centenarian, leave indelible marks in the lives of those around us and those who come after us. Our purposeful or incidental interactions and intersections with other people affect the timing of events or ideas or decisions that direct the future trajectory of their lives, eventually affecting millions.

On humility and pride: Proudly Humble by Tim Challies http://www.challies.com/christian-living/proudly-humble (click here)

Sometimes pride looks an awful lot like humility. There are times that our pride convinces us to put on a great show of what looks to all the world like humility so that we will be seen and acknowledged by others. We swell with pride when we hear, “He is humble.” It is a tricky thing, the human heart—prone to deceive both ourselves and others.

On the question… Does Jesus Really Love Me? by J.A. Medders http://jamedders.com/does-jesus-really-love-me (click here)

Christianity is never impersonal. This is a real, vibrant, essential relationship with Jesus himself—he is alive for you. God and Savior. Lord and Friend.

On rejoicing in both good and bad days: This. Is. The. Day. by Michael Kelley http://michaelkelleyministries.com/2015/04/this-is-the-day-2 (click here)

Regardless of what this day holds, it is the day that the Lord has made. He is not some cosmic clockmaker who set the universe in motion and then stood apart, watching it tick away. He’s still in the business of making days, and He’s made this one for me. Although I know very little of the potential ups or downs or highs or lows that this day holds, it is nevertheless the one made by the Lord. Because it is made by the Lord, I know that along with making it He has also given me the resources I need for it. I have the grace I need. The patience I require. The perseverance necessary. The discipline to do and work. Along with this day He’s made He has also given me His limitless supply which I take hold of by faith.

Last but not least, on our need to hear about God’s grace: Can We Really Preach Too Much Grace? by Stephen Altrogge http://theblazingcenter.com/2015/04/can-we-really-preach-too-much-grace.html (click here)

The longer I’m a Christian, the more I’m convinced that a true understanding of grace always leads to deeper sanctification.

Remembering the Past, Looking to the Future (a meditation on the faith-stories between generations)

“These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness…” Deuteronomy 1:1

The book of Deuteronomy is about Moses as an old man and respected leader reminding a new generation of Israelites about their past while pointing them into the future. In Numbers 13 and 14 the people chose fear over faith. Despite all the good and powerful things God had done on their behalf up to that point, the people rejected the promises and cried out against God. Because of their sin, instead of taking possession of the land God had promised, the people had to wander the wilderness for forty years and all those aged 20 and upward, other than Joshua and Caleb, would die in the wilderness.

The land became their children’s to inherit.

Moses himself would also not enter the land, but his heart was set to prepare those who would. Deuteronomy was written after the wilderness wanderings for the new generation that had grown up in the wild, for those under sixty.

They would soon follow Joshua to take the land, but before they did Moses reminded them of their past. It is here we see corporate identity and not merely individual history. Some of the new generation were alive during the events in Numbers 13, but many weren’t. Still as Moses spoke and taught, he included them in the you of the past. They may have been a new generation, but they were still of the people of Israel.

Moses’ purpose was to remind them of where they came from and yet also point them to the future where they would go and what they were to do. The past was filled with great victories and massive mistakes. The hope for the future was faithfulness and trust in God, yet warnings if they chose sin instead.

So it is to be with one generation and the next in church as well.

upToo often we find excuses in the generational divide—how can the older and younger relate? There are so many differences in style whether musical, clothing, or choice of entertainment; we let style rule the day when depth of substance creates deeper bonds. Deep relationships, though, are built on time and stories, not style. Some of my closest friends have very different styles from me, but we share time, Jesus, and the stories of our lives.

A generation of Timothys needs a generation of Pauls. Pauls are men and women who, like Moses, can tell us of our past. If we are of Christ, then the Christian story is our story. If we are of a particular church, then the church’s story is our story. Pauls are men and women who remind us of the things to be thankful for but refuse to sugar coat the mistakes, because in both we find wisdom to seek the good and flee the bad (1 Corinthians 10:6).

These are also men and women who point us to the future. Following Jesus is about forward movement, it’s about growth, it’s about becoming more like Jesus in our character and attitudes, and it’s about longing for the day that Jesus makes all things right and new. One way to see what might be in the future is to learn about how God has already shaped the lives of men and women who have faithfully followed him.

Each new generation in the church is like the Deuteronomy generation. We stand on the verge of new frontiers and we face many unknowns. We will have great victories and we will make plenty of mistakes. Through it all we need encouragement to keep our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus and to live for him in all the challenges of life.

We need life stories mostly written as we keep writing our own. Stories that remind us of the past and help us look to the future. Stories about the same journey we find ourselves on as the church in 2015, still longing for the Great Promised Land of eternity.

This meditation is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church. Image from Disney-Pixar’s Up.

Sunday 04.19.15

This Sunday we’re asking the question: Where is your boast?–Jesus should be our joy, delight, and hope; so we boast in him! (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Hope to see you there!

Schedule:
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

@5pm Awana (next to last Awana of the season!)
@6pm Adult Bible Study: “Portrait of a Struggle” by Paul David Tripp, in church library

Sermon notes:
A boast is a point of pride–something we speak highly about, something we live for.

  • Don’t boast in your wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 1:18-24)
  • Don’t boast in your strength (1:24)
  • Don’t boast in your status or situation (1:26-29)
  • Let your boast be Jesus (1:30-31)