Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jonah: the Lord desires... save a guilty, sinful, and unholy people. In the first couple verses of Jonah, God commissions Jonah saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." A few things stick out to me here:
First, Nineveh is a great city and with a lot of great cities comes great iniquity.
Second, their evil has come up before the perfectly holy LORD who's wrath comes against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18)
Third, God's response to their evil is not pouring out his just wrath, but graciously sending a prophet to call out against that city, warning them of the judgement to come.

God desires to save a sinful people. He desires that all men come to a knowledge of the truth, that all men repent and return to him, and that none should perish. It's is not because we are worth saving, but because he is merciful and abounding in steadfast love.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Law is Keeps us Imprisoned

To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

(Galatians 3:15-29 ESV)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I can do all Things Through Christ | Apart from Him, I can do Nothing

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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

(Philippians 4:10-20 ESV)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Christian Freedom

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 2:21-3:14 ESV)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Remember the Covenant

This is our wedding ceremony and vows in text:

Tim’s Part: Intro: Piper book, Doing of God for the Display of God. John and Chassidy and I have met many times for pre-marital counseling. The very first time we met was the first time I met Chassidy. We met at a Starbucks and John and Chassidy gave me a gift. It was this book by John Piper called “This Momentary Marriage”. Now, that sounds like a strange title, (which many of John Piper’s books have strange titles), but his point is that while Marriage is to last a lifetime here, it is Not eternal. It is, as Kent stated a picture of our ultimate marriage to Jesus, and our wedding to him will take place when He calls us to Heaven to be with him forever. Now, I often give couples books to read to prepare for their wedding, but this is the first time that a couple has given me a book to read. And I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, John and Chassidy. One of the things that John Piper stresses over and over again in this book is that “Marriage is the Doing of God and the Display of God. As Kent shared, it was God’s doing in the beginning with Adam and Eve and it is the Display of the relationship between Christ and the Church. John and Chassidy, Kent and I are performing the ceremony today, but it is not “our doing”. It is God’s doing. It is God’s doing in designing each of you. I wish each of you could have been with us last night at the rehearsal dinner as one by one, people rose to share what they loved and admired about John and Chassidy and how they had seen God work in their lives. John’s leader in the Forge: Matt’s comments: John you have a sensitive heart to God that is willing to sail off after every dream you feel He’s placed on your heart, but Chassidy is your rudder that keeps you charting a straight course. What a beautiful way to say that God has designed you each uniquely as individuals and that He has also uniquely designed you to fit together as a couple. It is God’s doing: He has made you unique and He has brought you together. You are to be allies or partners, like Eve was to Adam, which means snuggling together and struggling together. John, it’s been such a joy to watch you grow from a boy to a man. And, as a child of God into a man of God. I’ve noticed the change in you as you’ve taken steps of maturity in following Jesus as his disciple. John, Becky and I have so many fond memories of you as she shared last night, of being one of Nate’s little buddies, even though in Little League you and Robert played for the enemy. We remember you in the youth group, growing through those awkward stages of physical and emotional maturity, and showing good signs of responding to Christ. We remember, as Becky said last night, you and Robert and our son, Nate, crammed in the back seat of a small vehicle all the way to Florida and back, singing along to the Garth Brooks Greatest Hits CD over and over and over again. It was God’s doing as you were growing. [Meanwhile: there was a girl named Chassidy… tell her story of growth: [Girls sharing last night, going on missions trips to Japan, Africa, ETBU then experience at “I-Go”]. John: [going to DBU, beginning to lead worship, working at Pine Cove, joining the Forge, growing in discipleship and learning leadership skills]. Last year, I got the word, John that you were asked to be the Program Director at Pine Cove and I thought to myself, “Wow! Someone has witnessed John’s maturity and growth to the point that they see him as a strategic leader, with faithfulness and maturity. [Talk about John’s faithfulness and maturity in his friendship to Nate]. John, as Matt said those words last night I remember a time when we had many talks about…showed your sensitive heart for the Lord and your desire to serve Him, but also the weakness of being a bit impulsive, jumping from one thing to another…, but Chassidy is your rudder. She helps you think through and pray through those dreams, and to ask the tough questions. Is this really of God? What are the practical implications of this? How much will it cost? Chassidy, on the other hand, God wants to use John in your life to bring you joy. John likes surprises, Chassidy likes steadiness. John likes to be spontaneous. Chassidy likes to prepared. You are to be gentle with each other, like Bath and Body Works lotion, but you are also to be “iron sharpening iron”, and sometimes when iron sharpens iron, sparks fly. Snuggling and struggling. There is another quote In Piper’s book, from Dietrich Bonhoffer: “Up until this time, love sustains marriage, but now marriage sustains love”. In other words, there may be times when, believe it or not, you may not feel as “in love” as you do right now. But, as those feelings of being “in love” ebb and flow, it is important that you remember: they do not sustain your marriage. But, it is your marriage—the promises you are about to make to one another that sustains your love. That is why it is of utmost importance that you make and we, as friends and family, witness these vows to one another. Will you please turn to face one another and join your hands together? VOWS: Tim: John, will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy state of Matrimony? Will you seek to love her as Christ loves the church and as part of your own body? Will you lead her in godliness and seek to understand and comfort her? Will you provide for her needs? Will you honor, praise and keep her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only for her so long as you both shall live? JOHN: “I will.” Tim: Chassidy, will you have this man to be your wedded husband to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy state of matrimony? Will you seek to be his competent helper in serving your heavenly Father together? Will you comfort, support, and honor him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only for him so long as you both shall live? CHASSIDY: “I Will.” TIM: John, will you please repeat after me? I John, take you Chassidy, to be my wife. And I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful husband—in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. TIM: Chassidy, will you please repeat after me? I Chassidy, take you John, to be my husband . And I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful wife—in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. EXCHANGE OF RINGS Tim: May we have the rings please? In God’s covenants with us, He loves to use symbols to picture His relationship with us. For example, baptism is an outward symbol or picture, of what happens inwardly when a person gives their life to Christ. Communion is another picture, where the bread symbolizes Christ’s body which was given for us, and the wine pictures His blood shed for us. In our culture, we choose to symbolize our love and commitment to our spouse through the use of a ring. Chassidy and John, every time you look at these rings I want you to see this precious metal and remember the preciousness of your relationship. I want you to see a circle, a perfect unity, and the home it symbolizes should be a unified circle of love. It never ends; and the love it represents should be an enduring love. John, will you place this ring on Chassidy’s finger and repeat after me, please? Chassidy, This ring is a symbol of my promise to love, honor, cherish and serve you all the days of my life. Chassidy, will you place this ring on John’s finger and repeat after me, please? John, This ring is a symbol of my promise to love, honor, cherish and serve you all the days of my life. COMMUNION: [Tim moves to top of stage, John and Chassidy turn to face him]. Tim: In John Piper’s book, John and Chassidy, he states that marriage is God’s doing and is for His Display. As Kent shared earlier, your marriage is to represent or display the relationship that Christ has with His church. Friends and family, it is with this in mind, that John and Chassidy have chosen that their very first act together as husband and wife, is to participate together in Communion with our Lord and Lover of our Souls, Jesus Christ. In I Corinthians 11:23-26 , we read: 23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." Tim prays: Lord, we take this bread and this cup, which represents your body, and like you, we give thanks, grateful thanks, for the fact that you allowed your body to be broken for us, and John and Chassidy, now take this bread and this cup signifying that they wish for their union together to be founded on the union that we, as your church have with you. Tim hands John and Chassidy the bread and says: John and Chassidy, please take this bread in remembrance of Him. Tim: In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Tim hands John and Chassidy the cup and says: John and Chassidy, please take this cup in remembrance of Him and proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes. TIM: PRONOUNCEMENT OF MARRIAGE: For as much as John and Chassidy have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and have therefore given and pledged their faith one to another, I pronounce that they are husband and wife in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together let not man put asunder. TIM: “AND NOW, JOHN, YOU MAY KISS YOUR BRIDE” PRESENTATION OF BRIDE AND GROOM: It is now my privilege to present to you Mr. and Mrs. John David Rogers.

Praise the Lord!

To remind believers:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:1-10)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Wage of Sin is Death

This passage led me to Christ this morning.

And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’” And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king's hand was restored to him and became as it was before. And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.
Now an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’” And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.
And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’” And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet lived
(1 Kings 13:1-25 ESV).

The Lord reminded me this morning of the seriousness of sin, God's hatred of it, and his wrath that comes against sinners. The wage of sin is death. BUT, God...