True Shepherds

T.M. Moore“True shepherds go to their sheep, where they are, to watch over their souls and equip them for ministry.” —T.M. Moore

Jesus said His sheep knew His voice. Pastor,

  • Do your sheep know your voice?
  • Are you accessible to them?
  • Do you initiate contact with them?
  • Do they see you laugh and play with them?
  • Do you know where they work, study, live, and play?
  • Can you pray for very specific needs in their lives?

Just something to think about…

Thursdays With Oswald—Not Possessed By Possessions

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Not Possessed By Possessions 

     For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9) 

     Rich in what? Not in possessions, but in personal identity. Our Lord Jesus Christ became poor, not as an example, but to give us the secret of His religion. The religion of Jesus Christ is a religion of personal relationship to God and has nothing to do with possessions. … The disciple realizes that his life does not consist in the abundance of things he possess, because what we possess often possesses us—we are possessed by possessions. 

From Bringing Sons Unto Glory 

I can’t stand seeing so-called “prosperity preachers” twisting Scripture to make it sound like God is some sort of cosmic slot machine, and if you pull His lever just right financial rewards will pour down on you. Rubbish!! 

Chambers said it succinctly and perfectly: The religion of Jesus Christ is a religion of personal relationship to God and has nothing to do with possessions.

The Price Of Divorce

There is a toll for divorce, and I think the price is higher than we want to pay. There is a price…

  • Michigan divorce rates…economically
  • …emotionally
  • …physically
  • …relationally
  • …spiritually

Wait, spiritually? Here’s what God says—

Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.

Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (Malachi 2:13-16, New Living Translation)

You Are Protected

Finger Of God“I drive out demons by the finger of God.” —Jesus

The finger of God is more powerful than the full armies of satan!

If God’s finger is that powerful, consider this…

You are held in God’s hands.

You are covered by His wings.

You are immersed in His Spirit.

You are hidden in Christ.

Greater is He who surrounds you and lives in You than anything that comes against you!

Two Angels

LongfellowThere are two angels, that attend unseen
Each one of us, and in great books record
Our good and evil deeds. He who writes down
The good ones, after every action closes
His volume, and ascends with it to God.
The other keeps his dreadful day-book open
Till sunset, that we may repent; which doing,
The record of the action fades away,
And leaves a line of white across the page.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Help Of Humility

HumilityJesus was talking to His disciples about what was ahead for Him, and they responded in an all-too-typical way: “They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what ‘rising from the dead’ meant” (Mark 9:10).

There are times that Jesus interrupts His disciples’ musings with a question like, “What are you talking about among yourselves?” But in this instance, He kept quiet.

Why?

I think Jesus likes for us to ask Him for help.

There is a certain level of pride that says, “I can figure this out all by myself.” This pride leads to ignorance, and ignorance leads to fear (we tend to fear what we don’t know), and fear leads—more times than not—to poor choices.

“They didn’t understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it” (v. 32). This fear probably led to their confusion in between the time of Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection.

Think about it, we have two choices:

  • Confusion → Pride → Ignorance → Fear → Poor choices
  • Confusion → Humility → Answers → Boldness → God-honoring choices

Oh, for the humility to ask for God’s help when I am confused!

Filled Or Baptized?

Filled or Baptized.028Imagine I took a trip to the eastern seaboard of the United States, and I spent much of my time there walking along the shore in awe of the majesty of the Atlantic Ocean. When it came time for me to head home, I wanted to find something that would be a lasting memento of my time at the beach, so I took a glass bottle out into the surf and filled it with salty Atlantic Ocean water.

I now have the ocean in a bottle.

But showing my small bottle to a friend who had never seen the Atlantic Ocean for himself and trying to convey to him the majesty and splendor of this powerful ocean would be a pitiful experience.

Yes, my bottle contains some of the Atlantic Ocean. But it is limited, while the ocean is nearly limitless. The water in my bottle is tame, compared to the wild strength of the pounding Atlantic surf. The water in my bottle is stagnant, while the Atlantic is constantly moving and churning.

My bottle contains the ocean. But what if the ocean contained my bottle? 

This is an good example of someone who is merely filled with the Holy Spirit (the Spirit in their bottle) versus someone who is baptized with the Holy Spirit (their life immersed in the ocean of the Spirit). 

At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit enters the bottle of our lives as a deposit of our assurance of salvation and eternal life. But it is limited and tame, and can become stagnant if we’re not careful. But when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit—when the bottle of their life is plunged into the limitless resources of the Spirit—a new power and effectiveness is released.

After His resurrection Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” But before His ascension, Jesus instructed them to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted more for them … and He wants more for you too!

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Christ intended for it to be the normal state of a healthy Christian! Are you baptized in the Spirit, or are you content with merely being filled with the Spirit? I pray that you will allow your bottle to be plunged deep!

I am continuing my series called Come Holy Spirit next Sunday. Please join me!

Preaching Christ

My dear pastor, please prayerfully consider these words from Charles Spurgeon, and allow the Holy Spirit to help you answer the question: “Am I preaching Christ crucified?”

C.H. Spurgeon“Let me very briefly tell you what I believe preaching Christ and Him crucified is. My friends, I do not believe it is preaching Christ and Him crucified, to give people a batch of philosophy every Sunday morning and evening, and neglect the truths of this Holy Book. I do not believe it is preaching Christ and Him crucified, to leave out the main cardinal doctrines of the Word of God, and preach a religion which is all a mist and a haze, without any definite truths whatever. I take it that man does not preach Christ and Him crucified, who can get through a sermon without mentioning Christ’s name once; nor does that man preach Christ and Him crucified, who leaves out the Holy Spirit’s work, who never says a word about the Holy Spirit, so that indeed the hearers might say, ‘We do not so much as know whether there be a Holy Spirit.’”

—C.H. Spurgeon

It is so vital that we preach the full counsel of the Word of God boldly. Don’t be afraid of the reaction of those in your congregation. Rather, preach to hear Christ say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Thursdays With Oswald—Jesus Is #1, #2, And #3

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Jesus Is #1, #2, And #3

     When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, self is effaced in a glory of sacrifice for Jesus and we become His witnesses. Self-conscious devotion is gone, self-conscious service is killed, and one thing only remains, Jesus Christ first, second, and third. 

From The Highest Good

Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you” (John 16:14, Amplified Bible). When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we no longer think about being devoted to Christ, we just are devoted to Christ—He becomes our first priority, our second priority, our third priority …. our only priority.

The baptism with the Holy Spirit changes everything. 

(If you are near Cedar Springs, I’ll be sharing the second message in our new series called Come Holy Spirit this Sunday. I’d love to have you join me.)

14 Quotes From “It Is Finished”

It Is FinishedIt Is Finished was an amazingly confronting and encouraging book. You can read my full book review by clicking here, but below are some of the quotes from David Wilkerson that especially caught my attention…

“Jesus was speaking as co-signer of the covenant. He said, ‘Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are’ (John 17:11). He was saying to the Father, ‘We agreed that I could bring into Our covenant everyone who trusts in Me. Now, Father, I ask You to bring these beloved ones under the same covenant promises You made to Me.”

“The covenant, cut before the world was formed, has in it the sworn oath of almighty God to save and deliver His people from the power and dominion of satan. Faith in Christ brings us into God’s covenant oath to keep us as faithfully as He kept His own Son.”

“This is an ongoing problem with many Christians. We look to the Holy Spirit as some kind of booster shot to empower or energize our human will. We expect Him to build up our supply of grit and determination, so we can stand up to temptation the next time it comes. We cry, ‘Make me strong, Lord! Give me an iron will, so I can withstand all sin.’ But God knows this would only make our flesh stronger, enabling it to boast. … Scripture says the Spirit of God actually ‘subdues’ our sins and turns us from them: ‘He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea’ (Micah 7:19). Think of it! Not I, but my God, will subdue and conquer all my sins, by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.”

“God’s Spirit will accomplish in us what our flesh never has been able to do. How? By indwelling us. The New Covenant is all about the Holy Spirit coming to live and work in us, by promise in answer to faith.”

“It is vital for every follower of Jesus not to judge God’s New Covenant promises according to past experiences.”

“God says, ‘There is one work the Spirit must perform in you before any of these others. He is going to put in you the true fear of God concerning sin. He will implant in you a profound awe of My holiness so you will not depart from My commands. Otherwise, your sin will always lead you away from Me.’ Very simply, the Holy Spirit changes the way we look at our sin. … So He shows us how deeply it grieves and provokes Him.”

“Many flesh-driven Christians try to shake off the guilt that God’s convicting arrows produce. They do not want to feel the dread of their sin, so they constantly claim the verse, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). But they neglect to read the last part of this verse: ‘who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.’ If you continue in sin, you are walking in the flesh—and you have no claim on God’s promise of ‘no condemnation.’ The guilt we feel under Holy Spirit conviction is actually a work of God’s grace. It is meant to expose the deceitfulness of sin in us.”

“Ask the Holy Spirit to accomplish in you the precedent work of instilling godly fear in you, to keep your heart open and accepting of God’s Word. When you do, the Spirit promises to give you a soft heart, one that is pliable in His hand. … The implantation of godly fear by the Holy Spirit is designed to produce obedience through surrender, rather than through discipline.”

“God the Father gave His Son, Jesus, access to all of His own riches and wealth. In other words, He invested in Him all the wisdom, knowledge, power and glory of Heaven. And by being made wealthy in all these things, Jesus became the only One worthy to be co-signer of the covenant. ‘By so much more Jesus has become a surety [guarantor, sponsor, co-signer] of a better covenant’ (Hebrews 7:22). Could there be any greater mercy than this? God so loved us that He made His Son rich beyond all comprehension. Then He made Him both our kinsman and our co-signer. He has become the person responsible to settle all our debts. He pays when we cannot.”

“In this covenant, God pledges to do the following four things:

  1. He swears to write His law on our hearts and minds.
  2. He takes an oath that He will be God to us, and that we will be His children.
  3. He promises we will know Him and His ways because we will be taught by the Holy Spirit.
  4. He pledges to be merciful to our unrighteousness, forgiving all our sins and iniquities.”

“A stronghold is an accusation planted firmly in your mind. satan establishes strongholds in God’s people by implanting in their minds falsehoods and misconceptions, especially regarding God’s nature.”

“The only weapon that scares the devil and his armies is the same one that scared him in the wilderness temptation of Jesus. That weapon is the truth of the New Covenant—the living Word of God. Only the Lord’s truth can set us free.”

“This is the doctrine of God’s preventing goodness: He has anticipated all our struggles—all our battles with sin, flesh and the devil—and in His mercy and goodness, He has paid our debt before it can even come due. Through the covenant, He has prepaid for all our failures and relapses. His covenant oath assures us of His preventing goodness in our lives.”

“In God’s eyes, our problem is not sin, it is trust. Jesus settled our sin problem once and for all at Calvary. He does not constantly harp on us now, barking, ‘What have you done this time?’ or ‘Now you’ve gone too far,’ or ‘This time you’ve crossed the line.’ No, never! Our Lord’s attitude toward us is just the opposite. His Spirit is constantly wooing us, reminding us of the Father’s lovingkindness—even in the midst of failure.”

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