The Church Doesn’t Need The World

“Israel did not need the world’s help. The nations were stronger than she, but she did not require their strength to lean upon. Their strength was their weakness; her weakness was her strength. They would have helped her, but she would not be helped; and when at last she did accept their aid, it was her ruin. Her help was in Jehovah. Her security was in His favor.

Neither does the Church need the help of the world. The less of the world there is in her schemes, her enterprises, her hopes, the better. Never has she prospered when she betook herself to an arm of flesh, or to the strength of human greatness, or to the influence of the world’s smile. For the world cannot really help one who is not of this world, who has nothing in common with her joys, or cares, or ambitions. And never has the world helped the Church without exacting a favor in return; insisting on or tacitly giving it to be understood that she expects some compromise, some relaxation of her testimony, less of strictness and spirituality—more of genial fellowship and participation in her pleasures, if not her lusts and sins.” —Horatius Bonar, in Light & Truth—Revelation (emphasis mine)

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Godly Leaders Raise Up Godly Leaders

“…as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me…I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me” (Ezra 7:28).

A mark of a godly leader is one who raises up other godly leaders. He doesn’t want to walk alone; he doesn’t want to keep God’s blessings to himself. He knows that there can never be too many God-fearing leaders.

How did Ezra raise up more godly leaders?

  1. Ezra made sure his team had everyone it needed to be successful. When he discovered his team had no Levites to oversee functions in the temple, he made an appeal for a Levite to join his team. “Then, by the good hand of our God upon us” God sent Ezra nearly 250 Levites (Ezra 8:18-20)!
  2. Ezra made sure his team would be adequately cared for. He prayed and fasted as he asked for God’s direction and protection for his team (vv. 21-23).
  3. Ezra trusted his teammates. He entrusted them with precious, irreplaceable treasures (vv. 24-34).

What Ezra did became contagious. The leading men that came to follow Ezra all brought other potential leaders with them as well.

Godly leaders are never content arriving at their destination alone—they want as many other godly leaders alongside them as possible.

My prayer—God, place Your good hand on me to empower me to raise up godly leaders.

This is the first part of my series on godly leadership. To check out all of the posts, please click here.

How Christians Can Overcome Ridicule

Much ridicule and contemptHave you ever been…

  • …told to keep your religious beliefs to yourself?
  • …laughed at for living out your biblical convictions?
  • …excluded from the “in” crowd?
  • …put down because your morals are too strict?

The writer of the song of ascent in Psalm 123 must have experienced this quite a bit. He uses phrases like we have endured much contempt and we have endured much ridicule.

These are not words which the songwriter could easily brush off. One translation says, “our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning” of these ridiculing people. In other words, it’s not something he could just brush off by thinking, “They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Literally translated, the phrases exceedingly filled mean bad things multiplied 10,000 times! 

The ridicule and the contempt hurts! So the psalmist cries out Mercy! three times. This isn’t like saying “Uncle,” or having your cornerman throw in the towel, or even tapping out in a UFC match. This is a soul crying out, “God, if You will give me Your gracious favor for one more round, I will not tap out, I will not go down, I will go through!”

So he looks to the only One who can help him—my eyes wait upon Jehovah. Just like a servant who is completely dependent on his master for his daily bread, just like a maid who is trusting her mistress will give her favor, this guy says, “My eyes are fixed on Jehovah! If He can’t help me, no one can.”

The songwriter’s conclusion is this: “I will continually lift my eyes up to You, to You Whose throne is in heaven.” There are distractions, and hurts, and those who ridicule me—lots of them!—but I will develop the habit of redirecting my eyes UP to look to God.

  • When I feel anxious: I will redirect my eyes UP.
  • When I feel scorned: I will redirect my eyes UP.
  • When I’m hurt by others: I will redirect my eyes UP.
  • When I’ve had my fill of ridicule and contempt: I will redirect my eyes UP.
  • When I don’t think I can answer the bell for another round: I will redirect my eyes UP.
  • No matter what: I will redirect my eyes UP!

Check out the full video of this encouraging message. And if you are in the area, join us this Sunday as we continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent.

6 Quotes On Being Poor In Spirit From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3)…

“The Greek word that Jesus used for ‘poor’ is the word ptochos. It is used to describe not ordinary poverty but abject poverty. Ptochos is not like my parents struggling to make ends meet [during the Great Depression]. Rather it describes a person who is completely destitute and helpless to do anything about it.”

Spirit refers to one’s inner being, our self-awareness. Specifically here it means how we evaluate ourselves with regard to our own spiritual condition. This abject poverty of spirit comes from our awareness of our own dreadfully sinful condition.”

“In the Beatitudes Jesus is talking about the character traits of those already in the kingdom. And He says we should be poor in spirit. It should be the ongoing daily attitude of one who is growing spiritually. Believers who are growing continue to see more sin in their lives. It is not that they are sinning more; rather they are becoming more aware of and more sensitive to the sin that has been there all along. … And it is the realization that even the sins, which seems so minor in our eyes, would bring us under the wrath of God, were it not for the atoning blood of Christ shed for us on the Cross, that should cause us to be poor in spirit.”

“Those who are poor in spirit…see Christ’s blood and righteousness as their hope not only for eternity but for God’s favor each day. They groan over their sin and earnestly pursue holiness but they do not trust in their holiness. Instead they say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’ (Luke 17:10).”

“The person who is poor in spirit has a deep, awe-filled reverence for God and His Word.”

“We live in a culture that promotes self-esteem. And I am concerned that this attitude has permeated the body of Christ. We see ourselves as better than we are. We look at sinful society around us, and we can be like the Pharisee who prayed, ‘God, I think You that I am not like other men’ (Luke 18:11).”

Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

2 Quotes From Jack Hayford On God’s Favor

On This Holy NightI really enjoyed On This Holy Night! The unique perspective from six talented authors gives a freshness to the Christmas story. Jack Hayford wrote a very intriguing chapter called “I Wish You A ‘Mary’ Christmas,” and I have shared two of his quotes for you.

“We tend to think of virginity only in terms of innocence and purity. Of course those terms are appropriate, but Mary’s virginity did not provide an earned holiness to which God might respond with a miracle. If we think the Mary Miracle can only work in us if we are innocent, pure, and untouched, then most of us will give up and go home. I’m not talking about whether you have been tarnished or sullied in the sexual dimension. That’s not the point. All of us have been marred in numerous ways by our sin and weakness. Mary’s virginity is telling us this today: we don’t have to be pure, innocent, or untarnished to receive the miracle. Mary’s virginity represents the impossibility, humanly speaking, of life coming forth. We need to see her virginity as a picture of the hopelessness of the situation.”

“I discovered that the verb translated ‘highly favored’ [Luke 1:28] is only used two times in the whole New Testament. It’s used for Mary: ‘You are highly favored.’ … But it’s also in Ephesians 1:6, which says you are ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ … The same thing that was said of Mary is also said of us. And that brings with it the same possibilities and the same miracle presence, because the same degree of favor is present. You and I are highly favored!”

You can also read other quotes I’ve shared from On This Holy Night from John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Max Lucado, and David Jeremiah, and you can read my book review here.

10 Quotes From “Our Portrait In Genesis”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers has given us another valuable resource in Our Portrait In Genesis, as he walks through the first book of the Bible with us. You can read my full book review here. As usual, there are just way too many good quotes to share all at once, so here is the first batch of quotes from this book.

“It is not my faith laying hold of the Word, but the life in the Word laying hold on me.”

“We transgress a law of God and expect an experience akin to death, but exactly the opposite happens, we feel enlarged, more broad-minded, more tolerant of evil, but we are more powerless; knowledge which comes from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, instead of instigating to action, paralyzes.”

“No man can murder his brother who has not first murdered God in himself.” 

“It is ingrained in our thinking that competition and rivalry are essential to the carrying on of civilized life; that is why Jesus Christ’s statements seem wild and ridiculous. They are the statements either of a man or of God Incarnate. To carry out the Sermon on the Mount is frankly impossible to anyone but a fool, and who is the fool? The man who has been born again and who dares to carry out in his individual life the teaching of Jesus. And what will happen? The inevitable result, not the success he would otherwise have. A hard saying, but true.”

“Grace is the overflowing immeasurable favor of God; God cannot withhold, the only thing that keeps back His grace and favor is our sin and perversity.” 

“Faith un-tried has no character value for the individual. … Spiritual character is only made by standing loyal to God’s character no matter what distress the trial of faith brings.”

“We must be careful never to compromise over any promise of God when by reason of human limitation there has been only a partial fulfillment. Such a compromise is easily detected whenever you feel, ‘Oh well, I suppose that is all God meant.’ Every word God has spoken will be absolutely fulfilled; to climb down from that confidence is to be disloyal to God.”

“There is always the danger of becoming a fanatical adherent to what God has said instead of adhering to God who said it.”

“The only way to wait for the Second Coming is to watch that you do what you should do so that when He comes is a matter of indifference.” 

“It is a question of faith in God, the rarest thing, we have faith only in our feelings. I don’t believe God unless He will give me something in my hand whereby I may know I have it, then I say, ‘Now I believe.’ There is no faith there.”

Live Blessed And Peaceful

SpockI think most people are familiar with Spock’s famous Vulcan hand signal that means “Live long and prosper.” But long before Star Trek, the origins of this idea were displayed in the pages of Scripture.

The Hebrew word for grace or favor is first used in relation to Noah: “BUT Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). The conjunction BUT at the beginning of this verse tells us that the favor Noah experienced is being contrasted to something exactly the opposite. Here’s what we read two verses earlier, “The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain” (v. 6).

Noah had to make a choice: would he fear God, or would he fear man. It’s a choice we all have to make today. We have to weigh and decide:

  • Fear of God vs. fear of man
  • Pleasing God vs. pleasing myself or someone “important” to me
  • Humble reliance on God vs. self-reliance
  • Objective obedience to God vs. subjective agreement when it feels okay

In the section of Psalm 119 called shin (vv. 161-168), the psalmist wrestled with this as well. He decided that he wasn’t going to be afraid of government officials that could persecute him, BUT “my heart trembles at Your Word.” He decided that he wouldn’t look for worldly treasures, BUT he would “rejoice in Your promise” (v. 162). That he wouldn’t praise temporary things, BUT “I praise You for Your righteous laws” (v. 164). That he wouldn’t try to find satisfaction in the temporary, BUT he would bask in the “great peace [for them] who love Your law” (v. 165). On and on it goes…

  • …I wait for YOUR salvation
  • …I follow YOUR commands
  • …I obey YOUR statutes
  • …I obey YOUR precepts (vv. 166-168)

People that live this way experience the same favor and grace that Noah experienced.

The Lord BLESS you and keep you; the Lord make His face SHINE upon you and be GRACIOUS to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you PEACE. (Numbers 6:24-26)

You can live blessed and peaceful by choosing God above all else!

Next Sunday we wrap up our series on the 119th Psalm, and I would love it if you can join us!

Here is the video from yesterday’s message—

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