Pastor's Words for Living

Living the Gospel - No other gods before God

How will the gospel affect my life today?
 
No other gods before God
 
It is easy for me to claim to follow Christ and still look to other gods for the practicalities of my daily life.  The gospel assures me that I need nothing or no one but Christ, yet I find myself leaning upon everything and everyone other than Christ.
 
Psalm 81:9, 10 says, “There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.  I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.  Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
 
The text points to God’s deliverance of Israel out of captivity in Egypt.  After the nation’s deliverance from bondage, it continued to stumble down forbidden paths and covet strange gods rather than remain faithful to God alone.  Not only did it happen to a nation, but it also occurs daily in every believer’s life.  Christ delivers us from our sin and condemnation, yet we continue to crave the gods of this world.
 
When I claim to believe the gospel and to follow Christ, but I trust in my own capabilities to deal with daily issues, I am essentially putting other gods before God.  The biggest challenge to the throne in my life is always the god, ‘me’.  Me craves the place of leadership and worship in my daily living.  So, how can I refrain from bowing down to me?  How can I guard my heart against looking to the little gods of this world and remain devoted to the Lord as God?

When I believe an action plan has presented itself in my life, I should continue to pray and deliberate before the Lord.  I should wait until He makes it clear the plan is His and the power I need to implement it must be His as well.  When I am walking the path He has revealed, I should continue to preach to myself that I cannot trust any wisdom or provision other than what comes from Him.  I must discipline my heart to want only the Lord’s glory and to celebrate only His glory.  If I am in line to receive the praise, the plan has become my plan and not His.

Lord, examine my life and expose the foreign gods that vie for my affections.  Weaken me that I may not be able to cling to them, but only fall into your arms of strength and provision.

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Living the Gospel - Boldness

How will the gospel affect my life today?
 
Boldness
 
We are living in challenging times.  Christians are facing immense persecution all around the world, and intolerance is growing even in our own nation.  Churches seem oblivious to what is happening.  They have willingly silenced the gospel in order to fill calendars and buildings with nominal Christians and even unbelievers.  It makes us feel better about ourselves to create our own fruitfulness even though it has no connection to holiness or Christ-likeness.  We’ve become complicit in the spiritual death of our culture and our churches.
 
We know that no one can destroy the Church because it belongs to Christ.  In fact, Christ determines what will happen in and through the Church.  “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  (Matthew 16:18)  Still, the followers of Christ have a specific assignment to make a bold and clear proclamation of the gospel to the entire world.  It is not acceptable for us to be silent or even timid with the gospel.  We must become convicted and convinced that the true gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all people.  We must be willing to take up our responsibility to proclaim this amazing message to the entire world.
 
The Church at Jerusalem faced unique pressures after the ascension of Jesus.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, they were compelled to preach the death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the very place where He had been crucified only days before.  The powers that were responsible for the death of Jesus threatened the disciples in an attempt to silence their preaching, the Church gathered together and prayed.  Acts 4:23-31 describes the passionate pleas they made before God and His glorious response.  Verse 31 says that the place where they gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
 
As intolerance and oppression escalates against the followers of Christ, we must pursue the path of the Jerusalem church.  Let us pray with fervency and expectation that we be filled with the Holy Spirit and that we continue to speak the word of God with boldness.  Let us not be complicit in the silencing of the gospel.

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Living the Gospel - Contentment

How will the gospel affect my life today?
 
Contentment
 
Philippians 4:10-12 says, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me.  You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
 
The word content or contentment portrays the idea of being satisfied.  This temporal world offers no real satisfaction.  The more we have and the more we experience, the more we want.  Abundance actually fosters a net result of dissatisfaction.  It’s like a drug habit that requires more of the drug each usage to produce the same high.
 
The things of this world affect us spiritually much like drinking salt water affects us physically.  Sat water will never quench thirst.  In fact the kidneys must have more water to dilute the seawater in order to flush the salt from the body.  That extra water is pulled from the body and leads to dehydration.  Drinking salt water causes greater thirst and eventually will lead to death.
 
The same is true about the pleasures of this temporal world.  We experience them and they may feel good for the moment, but they always leave us wanting more and more.  They eventually lead us to spiritual deadness.
 
Contentment is being satisfied.  Real contentment is found only in Christ.  He supplies all that we truly need and He is always sufficient for all that we need.  The follower of Christ must focus upon this as a core truth and practice for living if he or she is to know contentment.  Keep the eyes off the enticing lures of this temporal existence and instead lock them on Christ alone.
 
How can we do this?

We can study the examples in Scripture.  Cain and Abel … Jacob and Esau … the two mothers quarreling over a child before King Solomon … Israel’s wilderness struggles, particularly the incident of the golden calf … the prodigal son … Daniel and his friends in Babylon … Paul’s friend Demas.  The Bible is filled with examples of this stark contrast between contentment and discontentment.

We can focus on the amazing promises that God has made to His followers.

We can saturate our minds and hearts with the Word and wisdom of God.

We can intentionally discipline ourselves.  Paul said that he buffeted his body to bring it into submission.  Scripture encourages a pattern of fasting and prayer that contributes to reigning in the desires of the flesh in order to prioritize the spiritual.

We can journal the countless ways God has protected us from our wants and provided for our needs that our hearts might be strengthened.

Lord, enable my heart to be filled with contentment in You every moment of this day.


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Living the Gospel - Patience

How will the gospel affect my life today?
 
Patience
 
I do not like patience.  Patience intimidates and irritates me.  If I am to have patience, I do not want to learn it, but receive it in full measure apart from experience.  And I prefer to have it now!
 
There may be no more glaring picture of flesh in me than impatience.  Impatience exposes my love for self and my lack of love for others.  Impatience also makes it clear that my talk of trusting in God, is more talk than truth.  Still, the Word of God tells me that patience is a genuine fruit of the Spirit and its absence from my life is not an option.  I need patience --- I need to live patiently as evidence of Christ’s presence in my life. 
 
Romans 12:12 is becoming one of my favorite verses.  It says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  This may be one of the best descriptions of the Christian life in the Bible.  It confesses that I can live daily, with gladness and joy because of my inheritance which includes dwelling in the incredible glory of God forever.  No matter what today holds for me, it is only temporary.  No matter how intense the discomfort or difficulty I am experiencing, there is coming for me an eternity of unspeakable beauty in the presence of God. 
 
Because of this certain glory that is soon to be revealed in its fullness, how difficult is it to be patient in this present tribulation?  The view from the storm is always challenging and makes us to feel hopeless.  But, when I put on the lenses of God’s promises --- the expectation of my future with Him, the present hardship appears as it really is, just a momentary affliction.
 
Be constant in prayer.  Here is the means for nurturing hope and patience in me --- prayer.  Prayer is a privilege, but it is also an investment.  It is a labor, though the fruit from it is sweet beyond description.  Prayer is the place where my heart is filled again with the joy of my hope in Christ.  Prayer is the place where my heart is lifted from the chaos of this present world and rooted in the glories of the world to come.  Hallelujah!

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Living the Gospel - Humility

How will the gospel affect my life today?
 
Humility
 
The daily temptation in our lives is to defend ourselves.  This means that in every situation we are looking for what serves us first and best.  It is proficiency in this area that the world admires and respects.  Being unable or willing to stand up for one’s self is failure in the eyes of the world.
 
Scripture makes it very clear that followers of Christ are to be humble.  James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  First Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”  Our present-day culture defines humility as weakness.  The true meaning of humility as used in Scripture is to be “God-reliant instead of self-reliant.”  We are humble as we learn to fully depend upon the Lord and not ourselves.
 
What does this mean in practical terms?  It means that I practice contentment in God’s purposes and plans.  It means that I do not resist the ways that He determines to carry out His purposes and plans in my life.  I do not stiffen my neck or attitudes toward Him.  That is, I do not grow resentful or bitter, but I rest in His provision to carry me through the circumstances He has ordained for my life and to trust that He will be glorified and I will be sanctified. 
 
Lord, empower me to live humbly today, comfortable in your strength and in your plans.  Make me to rest in Your perfection and my weakness.

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