Completing The Body

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One of the miracles we talked about last week was the Holy Spirit giving gifts to people that evangelize the sinner and edify the saint. Let me be more specific: YOU are God’s gift to the world if you are using God’s gift to glorify God in the world. 

You are a one-of-a-kind creation. God is infinitely creative so He never has to duplicate any of His creative works. He saw your life and implanted in you what you need to glorify Him (Psalm 139:13-18). But we need to think about this uniqueness the right way. 

Lucifer, an archangel, became satan, the Christian’s archenemy, because of his oversized pride. Pride is what turned Lucifer into satan, and it’s a tactic he still uses today on God’s creations. His other tactic is slander: attempting to get us to think we are insignificant and have no real purpose in the world. 

Just like Jesus did, we overcome satan’s lies with the truth in God’s Word.  

In Romans 12, Paul talks about our lives being used as a living, breathing, God-honoring sacrifice. But Romans 12:1 begins with the word “therefore,” so we need to back up a few verses. The final four verses of chapter 11 are a beautiful doxology that is praising God for His wisdom and sovereignty. Paul then offers this conclusion: Therefore we need to think correctly about our place in the world, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our thoughts. 

Paul uses the word “think” twice in this passage. The root word is the same in each place (phroneo in Greek), but the prefix is what sets them apart from each other. The first has the prefix hyper-. That means it’s overly-analyzed thinking, overly self-concerned thinking, or self-focused.

The second time the prefix is soph- (which means “wise”). This is sound thinking, big-picture thinking, or others-focused. The Holy Spirit wants to give us sophroneo thinking to reveal our God-implanted gifts and talents that are to be used to benefit others—in fact, to benefit the whole Body of Christ.

In Romans 12, Paul uses the phrase “one body” twice as he talks about our spiritual gifts. He uses the same “one body” praise three times in 1 Corinthians 12 as he again talks about spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 20). 

All of our spiritual gifts are to be used in love and to build up others (1 Corinthians 12:31—13:3; 14:1, 12, 26, 40). 

The Holy Spirit gives gifts to individuals so that individuals can edify the whole Body of Christ. It’s not competing with one another but completing one another. 

Remember: Saints is always plural in the New Testament! I need you to bring out the saintly qualities in my life, as much as you need me to bring out the saintly qualities in your life. 

This summer I will be offering an in-depth teaching on the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. We’ll take some assessments and discuss how these gifts can best be invested in the Body of Christ. I hope you can join me for an hour of learning on Wednesdays. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring our Pentecostal roots, you can find all of those messages by clicking here.

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Links & Quotes

Doug Clay, the General Superintendent of the Assembly of God wrote, “Our nation needs revival! 

“Culture may well be at a deeply dark moment, but that’s when the Church can shine the brightest as Christ’s witness to the world. I’m reminded of Romans 8:19 (Message), ‘The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.’ 

“A.W. Tozer once said, ‘The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God—not an echo of what others are saying, but an authentic voice.’ Let’s rise and be that authentic voice to a generation that is desperately in need.”

“What satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” —C.S. Lewis

Meet Piper. She was abandoned with her mother and one other sibling. The mother then left the two kittens behind, who were hiding in a storm pipe. We were able to rescue this little calico and named her Piper as a reminder of where she was rescued from.

John Stonestreet asks, “Why are pro-abortion activists so committed? Because of lies built upon centuries of bad ideas….” Check out some of those bad ideas that have such devastating consequences.

Physicist Brian Cox discusses where God fits into scientists’ understanding of the universe. Two statements that are interesting to me—“we don’t know all the laws of science” (at 1:17), and “science is only an observational framework” (at 2:40). Both of these statements fit well with my biblical creationist paradigm.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Fully Equipped For Success

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

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Fully Equipped For Success

The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6) 

     Oh, that we used more the naked Sword of the Spirit! I am afraid we keep this two-edged Sword in a scabbard, and somewhat pride ourselves that the sheath is so elaborately adorned. What is the use of the sheath? The Sword must be made bare, and we must fight with it, without attempting to garnish it. Tell forth the words of God. Omit neither the terrors of Sinai, nor the love notes of Calvary. …  

     My Master’s Word is a great opener of prison doors. … That is a most wonderful Word, which, like a battle-ax, smashes in the helmet of presumption, and at the same time, like the finger of love, touches the tender wound of the bleeding, and heals it in an instant! The words of the Lord—for breaking down or lifting up—are equally effective. …  

     The Bible may be compared to the locksmith’s bunch of keys. You handle them one by one, and say of one, ‘That is a strange key; surely it will fit no lock that ever was made!’ But one of these days the smith is sent for to open a very peculiar lock. None of his keys open it. At last he selects that singular specimen. Look! It enters, shoots back the bolt, and gives access to the treasure! …  

     Rest assured that you never will be in a labyrinth so complicated that this Book, blessed of the Spirit, will not help you through. … 

     Beloved, the words of God endure another test; they are our preservatives in times of temptation. You can write a book that may help a man when he is tempted in a certain direction. Will the same volume strengthen him when he is attracted in the opposite direction? … The devil himself cannot invent a temptation that is not met in these pages. And all the devils in hell together, if they were to hold parliament, and to call in the aid of all evil men, could not invent a device which is not met by this matchless Library of truth. It reaches the believer in every condition and position, and preserves him from all evil.

From The Bible Tried And Proved

There is no substitute for God’s Word, and there is no obstacle that the Holy Scripture cannot overcome—

ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

The Bible is our sword and battle-ax for fighting battles, it is our key to the most complicated problems, it is our map to guide us to safety, and it is our life preserver to help us overcome temptation. 

What a Book! 

I say a loud, “Amen!” to these concluding words of Charles Spurgeon: “I grieve that even to some who bear the Christian name, Holy Scripture is the least read book in their library. … Brothers and sisters, open the Book! Do it freely. Do it heartily. Do it constantly.”

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The Tactics Of Fear

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Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army… (Isaiah 36:2).

The enemies of God’s people always use the same tactics.

(1) Sending an intimidating force that seems overwhelming and invincible. 

King Sennacherib didn’t send a small detachment of soldiers, but he sent “a large army” to try to intimidate the people of Judah. 

(2) Asking doubt-inducing questions. 

The field commander asked questions like…

  • On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 
  • On whom are you depending? 
  • Do you think Jehovah can save you from this? 

(3) Fomenting distrust in God’s wisdom and ability. 

Once the seeds of doubt had been sown, the field commander attempted to water those seeds by making accusations like…

  • Do not let Hezekiah deceive you: God can’t help you with this one! 
  • The gods of other nations didn’t help them, so what makes you think your God will help you? 

(4) Offering a compromise. 

Then came the offer to give in…

  • Come now, make a bargain with my master and I’ll give you more riches than you can imagine! 
  • Make peace with me while you have the chance, and I promise you will have a trouble-free life! 

All of these tactics attempted to play on the fears of people who felt surrounded and overwhelmed. 

But I love to remember that the acrostic of the word F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. The field commander in King Hezekiah’s time, and satan today, use the tactics of fear to try to get us to compromise. 

King Hezekiah gave us a great example to follow. When he received the field commander’s letter with all of the threats listed, he “spread it out before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14)! Isaiah reminded the people not to be afraid of the threats of the enemy, because those threats were actually blasphemy against God. And then God tells Hezekiah quite simply, “I will take care of this!” 

And God did indeed take care of it. 

Without the armies of Judah ever having to lift a sword or a spear or shield, God broke the power of the enemy and sent them away in shame! 

When the enemy seems to be surrounding you today, he will use these same tactics. He will try to overwhelm you, get you to doubt what God has said, try to induce you to distrust God, and then offer you a compromise. All the devil has on his side is false evidence that he attempts to make look real.

So do what King Hezekiah did: Spread out those threats before God. Go to His Word and read again what He has already promised you. Then stand firm in faith. God will take care of your adversary! 

Our God always gets the final word, the decisive word, and the best word.

Let me repeat it one more time: Don’t give into fear, but stand firm in your faith in God! 

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Poetry Saturday—I Asked The Lord That I Might Grow

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I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray;
And He, I trust, has answered prayer:
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d grant me my request;
And, by His love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this? I trembling cried;
Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?
‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free,
To break thy schemes of worldly joy,
That thou mayst seek thy all in Me. —John Newton

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Poetry Saturday—Before The Throne Of God Above

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Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea,
A great High Priest whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart,
No tongue can bid me thence depart. 

When satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me,
To look on Him and pardon me. 

Behold Him there! The risen Lamb,
My perfect, spotless righteousness;
The great unchangeable “I AM,”
The King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself I cannot die,
My soul is purchased by His blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God,
With Christ, my Savior and my God. —Charitie Lees Bancroft

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Poetry Saturday—The Lord Will Provide

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Though troubles assail
And dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail
And foes all unite;
Yet one thing secures us,
Whatever betide,
The Scripture assures us,
The Lord will provide.

The birds without barn
Or storehouse are fed,
From them let us learn
To trust for our bread:
His saints, what is fitting,
Shall ne’er be denied,
So long as ‘tis written,
The Lord will provide.

We may, like the ships,
By tempest be tossed
On perilous deeps,
But cannot be lost.
Though satan enrages
The wind and the tide,
The promise engages,
The Lord will provide.

His call we obey
Like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way,
But faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers
We have a good Guide,
And trust in all dangers,
The Lord will provide.

When satan appears
To stop up our path,
And fill us with fears,
We triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us,
Though oft he has tried,
This heart-cheering promise,
The Lord will provide.

He tells us we’re weak,
Our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek
We ne’er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions
Our spirits have plied,
This answers all questions,
The Lord will provide.

No strength of our own,
Or goodness we claim,
Yet since we have known
The Savior’s great name;
In this our strong tower
For safety we hide,
The Lord is our power,
The Lord will provide.

When life sinks apace
And death is in view,
This word of His grace
Shall comfort us through:
No fearing or doubting
With Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting,
The Lord will provide. —John Newton


Poetry Saturday—Praise To The Redeemer

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Prepare a thankful song
To the Redeemer’s name
His praises should employ each tongue
And every heart inflame!

He laid His glory by,
And dreadful pains endured;
That rebels, such as you and I,
From wrath might be secured.

Upon the Cross He died,
Our debt of sin to pay;
The blood and water from His side
Wash guilt and filth away.

And now He pleading stands
For us, before the throne;
And answers all the Law’s demands,
With what Himself hath done.

He sees us, willing slaves
To sin, and satan’s pow’r;
But, with an outstretched arm, He saves,
In His appointed hour.

The Holy Ghost He sends.
Our stubborn souls to move;
To make His enemies His friends,
And conquer them by love.

The love of sin departs,
The life of grace takes place,
Soon as His voice invites our hearts
To rise and seek His face.

The world and satan rage,
But He their pow’r controls;
His wisdom, love, and truth, engage
Protection for our souls.

Though pressed, we will not yield,
But shall prevail at length,
For Jesus is our sun and shield,
Our righteousness and strength.

Assured that Christ our King,
Will put our foes to flight;
We, on the field of battle, sing
And triumph, while we fight. —John Newton

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Sword Of God

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Zechariah is the longest book of the minor prophets. His ministry overlaps Haggai the prophet, Ezra the priest, Zerubbabel the governor, and Joshua the high priest. I point all of this out because we need to always keep in mind that the Bible isn’t a collection of stories. It’s a verifiable (or falsifiable) record of real people at real moments in history. Many of the stories in the Bible confirm and even amplify each other. 

Let me remind you of what we learned from our study of the minor prophet Haggai:

  1. Hear the Word 
  2. Consider the Word 
  3. Obey the Word 
  4. Stand assured, encouraged, and unmovable on God’s Word 

Aren’t you more assured of a message that has a confirmation? Like if one person gives you a compliment that you hadn’t considered before, and then later on someone else notices the same attribute. I think we are more ready to receive the word when it has a confirmation like that. 

Haggai delivered a word directed to Zerubbabel the governor, which we saw was a prophecy pointing to and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. God called Zerubbabel “My signet ring—a mark of God’s supreme authority. 

That might have been a difficult thing for Zerubbabel to accept, so Zechariah is given a confirming word two months after Haggai’s prophecy (Zechariah 4:1-9). This prophecy affirms the message given through Haggai, and also points to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. 

But then Zechariah is also given an amplifying word, as he speaks a word from God to Joshua, the other “olive tree” in his God-given vision (Zechariah 3:1-9; 6:9-13). 

Zechariah confirmed and amplified Haggai’s message. And then Jesus fulfilled both of their prophecies! We have the benefit of seeing the prophecy and fulfillment, which should build our faith in ALL of the promises in God’s Word. 

The Word of God then become the (s)word of God in our mouths and hearts!  

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would wield the sword of God, and this is the same blessing we can claim today. Jesus defeated satan’s temptations with the sword of God, and so do the saints of God today (Isaiah 49:2; Psalm 149:6; Ephesians 6:13, 17; Luke 4:1-12; Revelation 12:11). 

Because of these specific prophecies that have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, we can now stand assured, encouraged, unmovable, and well-armed with the same sword of God. 

There isn’t a more effective sword or shield than God’s (s)word! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series discovering the major lessons in the minor prophets, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

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You’re No Match For Sexual Sin

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At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. … 

With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter…. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. (Proverbs 7) 

Solomon tells us that we know the place—her corner, her street, her house. 

Solomon tells us that we know her goal—she came out to meet him with crafty intent. 

Solomon tells us that we know her strategy—speaking lies with a brazen face, speaking words that are seductive, persuasive, smooth, and with an outfit to match the vocabulary. 

Solomon tells us we know the outcome—her victim is brought down into the chambers of death. 

The Bible never counsels us to fight sexual sin, but it says we should flee sexual sin. Stronger people than me have been sucked into the quicksand of sexual temptation. 

It sounds innocent enough (“it’s just a little flirting”). It sounds harmless enough (“there’s no harm in looking”). It sounds tame enough (“who will ever know?”). But her slain are a mighty throng! 

Solomon also tells us the way to avoid sexual sin—keep God’s words close by, store up His commands in your heart, keep wise and God-fearing friends around you, and stay away from her corner, her street, her house. 

This is not a trivial thing. I’m no match for the silky seduction of sexual temptation! Flee! Run away! Don’t even get close to it! Jesus said that drastic steps may be needed—get rid of your computer, stop watching TV alone, get a new job. 

Don’t fight it—flee it! Your best strategy is to stay as far, far away as possible. Let me say it again: You are no match for the crushing power of sexual temptation, so FLEE! 

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