Friday, April 27, 2007
Here are a few reasons as to why we shouldn't decide to NOT read: (I'm sorry if that statement is confusing :)
1. It Glorifies God and Humbles Ourselves
Perhaps one of the most humbling things that we can do is to acknowledge to God that we desperately need Him even if every part of our being desires to do something other than read His Word. James 4:7 says, "submit yourselves therefore to God." When we pass up our devotions for something else we fail to submit ourselves to Him and to His Will. Essentially we are placing ourselves in His rightful place and attempting to rule over our lives. Who would have thought that such a small thing could have such devastating and prideful implications? However, when we do "submit" ourselves to God we humble ourselves before Him and scripture says that "He will exalt you." Some of my sweetest and most intimate times with God have been periods where I had no inclination to read God's Word, but by His grace read anyways.
2. Us = Not Drifting.
Many times I have foolishly listened to the Devil's empty promises and told myself that I will read tomorrow or later that day. This is stupid and sinful(blunt yes, but true). We Never drift toward Godliness. If we wait to read God's word until the "mood strikes us" then I can assure you, the only scripture we will hear will be the little that is read to us on Sunday. I have even carried my Bible with me all day thinking that somehow His truth will seep through the pages. How foolish, how utterly prideful. It is very necessary and in fact vital that we not pass up opportunities to submit ourselves to God and His moral law.
These are only two reasons, but there are many more. We just have to read scripture to find them ;)
Hopefully these words have not come across as preachy or prideful All of these things I mentioned are areas that I have struggled in and desperately need God's help to grow in. I just wanted to share what I believe God laid on my heart.
P.S. I stole the drifting thing from Mike Bullmore.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I recently stumbled upon a message by Mike Bullmore called Undistracted Discipleship. It addressed a topic that I had just become aware of in my life. I provided the link to it and encourage all of you to listen to it, he made great points that I believe would be benefiting to all. He spoke out of John 21:15-25, where Jesus is reinstating Peter and after Jesus commands Peter to “Follow Me!” Peter responses the same way I find I do all too much. Scripture says “Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one (John) who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"
I ask this same question very often in my heart, “Lord, what about him?” Even good things in other people can distract me from God. When I see my friends growing in areas I am not, I become discontent. Or see fellow believers not growing, I become puffed up. Or see them going through trials, I ask God why and don’t trust him. Or the lack of trials in other’s lives, I start to pity myself and think how bad I have it. This is only a glimpse at how this response can affect us. Mike Bullmore showed in his message how much mental and emotional effort this takes and how it doesn’t please God. The Savior is before me wants me to follow him and I am concerned with this guy’s gifting and ranking that guys spiritual level.
Jesus’ response to Peter’s question is like always blunt yet beautiful. Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Jesus basiscally is saying “yea what about him, I reign over his life just like I reign over yours, “Mind your own business” and don’t worry about him, focus on me, Follow me! Our Father lovingly frees us from having to take up this concern, “What is that to you?”, don’t think about him or her and their life, Think about your Lord and Savoir and what he is doing in your life.
Thank you Lord for biblical teaching that points to the truth of Your Word. I pray that through your Spirit I would become more aware of You and less of others. Help me to surrender my whole heart, mind, and soul to you Lord, Thank you for every means of Grace that you provide to me, may all the Glory go you.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Yesterday I was listening to another message by Eric Simmons. It was entitled "One Life". It was very similer to the message he spoke at New Attitude last year about evangelism. In this message, he talked about how important it is for us to share the Gospel, because this world deperately needs it. We can tend to think that everybody has heard the Gospel but just choose to reject it. That's true alot of times, however, there are still many people who don't even know what it is. I know for me, it frightens me to share the Gospel because I'm always afraid of what they'll think or how they'll respond. Eric says in His message that this is a good thing. None of us are going to be professional at this. Only God is. The best evangelist in the world could go share the Gospel with the same person that didn't respond well to me, and they might not get any better of a response. It's our job to plant the seed, and God's job to water. The basis of Eric's message is this: Just pick one Life. One friend that you know is not saved and desperately needs the Gospel. Here's the catch, if we pray in faith for opportunities, they will happen. God is so faithful.
Father God, forgive me for my selfish motives in not sharing your truth with those around me. I pray that you help me to speak your truth with faith, and boldly proclaim your Gospel. I don't live on this earth for myself, Lord. I live here for you, and you alone. I pray that you would remind me of this on a daily basis. Father, I am weak and I can't do anything at all without you. I thank you for your word that you have given to me, and I pray that you would help me to protect it and to proclaim it. For you are my everything. -Adam Morgan-
Thursday, April 12, 2007
But in addition, what a responsibility we now have. God has entrusted us with His gospel and we are to rightly handle it. It shames me to realize how often I have turned from this beautiful plan and sought my own worth. Let us be freshly aware of God's purpose with every waking moment, and fully dependant upon His grace to accomplish just that.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Since we seem to be going with the theme of suffering and sovereignty lately, I thought I'd continue the pattern. With the hardship the Calabellos are going through and our discussion on suffering at Home Group, I think it's fitting.
I want to share a few of my notes on a sermon that I listened to recently by Brent Detwiler. The sermon was titled "Paul's Thorn" and was on II Corinthians 12:7-10, the well-known passage on Paul's "thorn...in the flesh." (I thought it was stellar.) These notes aren't organized by any means; they are just some great statements Brent made throughout the sermon that I jotted down. (The message was so chock full of these statements that I could hardly keep up!) Here they are, simple, yet amazing:
- God loves our character more than our comfort.
- God knows how much affliction we need for our good.
- The Lord promises to sustain us through the affliction he allows.
- If God left us without hardship, we'd be tempted not to pray; anything that drives us to our knees in prayer is a blessing that we should thank God for.
- If we had our way, we would choose an easy and thornless life; that's because we are foolish. God is wise, therefore, he gives us hardship.
- Thorns strip us of our self-sufficiency.
- We are afflicted by the Lord that we might encounter the Lord more intimately.
When Brent closed he read a short poem by John Piper on God's sustaining grace. There's something about beautiful language and rhyme, which is showcased in this poem, that makes God's truth all the more moving and comforting:
Our sovereign Father gives us:
"Not grace to bar what is not bliss,
Nor flight from all distress, but this:
The grace that orders our trouble and pain,
And then, in the darkness, is there to sustain."
Yes, Lord, you are so gracious to order just the right affliction to make us more like Christ!
Monday, April 9, 2007
Sometimes it can be very hard to be content when we are going through trials and tribulations, even if it is a small one. This scripture contradicts any discouragement we might have while facing trials. God's love is greater than we know. There has been a few trials that I have had to go through in my life. They weren't life changing or anything, but still enough to make me discontent. I often struggle with relying on myself too much and not enough on God. I'm more focused on convincing myself it will be over soon rather than glorifying God in my trials. I would encourage everybody to look to the cross every second of every day, because it says it all. That is what our lives are should revolve around. Christ's death was the ultimate suffering, greater than any suffering we will ever experience.
I was listening to a message by Eric Simmons today that was from Luke 11: 1-13. He was speaking about the topic of prayer. Most often, we don't realize what an amazing gift that prayer is. We are given the ability to communicate with the most high God, OUR CREATOR! Eric Simmons was talking about how we must pray with eagerness, and keep on praying. God says "Ask and You Shall receive." God desires to give us good gifts because He loves us. We just have to keep asking. -Adam Morgan-
Friday, April 6, 2007
In light of this suffering I would like to bring forth three encouraging points that I stole from one of Spurgeons many compilations.
1. It is not your cross, but Christ's cross that we carry.
When we face persecution for our faith we do so because of what the Savior accomplished on our behalf. Christ has lead the way in our sufferings and it is encouraging to note that the Cross that He carried, is the very same cross that we carry today. "How delightful is it to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus?"
2. You carry the cross after Him.
"You have blessed company. Your path is marked with footprints of your Lord. If you will look, there is the mark of His blood red shoulder upon that heavy cross. 'Tis His cross, and He goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep. Take up your cross daily and follow Him." What a wonderful leader our Savior is! We can rest assured that the agonies we face have allready been borne in full as well as in perfection. We should strive to conduct ourselves as the Son of God did in His glorious persecution.
3. You bear this cross in partnership
We are not alone. The beauty of the church is that we all beat as one. When one member is troubled, we all share his burden. Because of Christ we bear with one another in encouragement and edification. When one falls they are picked up, when one is persecuted we all are persecuted, when one faces hardship we walk with him as Christ walks with us.
Let Spurgeons words be an encouragement to you, "Dear Friend, if you think that you suffer all that a Christian can suffer, if all God's billows roll over you, yet remember, there is not one drop of wrath in all your sea of sorrow. Jesus took the wrath. Jesus carried the sin. Now all that you endure is but for His sake, that you may be conformed in his image and may aid in gathering His people into His family."
Christianty is the only religion where we can bear our tribulation with joy and gladness. Nothing else offers satisfaction and comforts the soul as does Christ. Our sufferings are temporary and by the hand of God we will one day be brought into His marvelous light and "He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Spurgeon, Charles H. and Lance Wubbels, ed. "The Power of the Cross of Christ." Lynwood, WA. Emerald Books, 1995
Thursday, April 5, 2007
“The Puritan ethic of marriage was first to look not for a partner whom you do love passionately at this moment but rather for one whom you can love steadily as your best friend for life, then to proceed with God’s help to do just that.”
J.I. Packer, Foreword to Worldly Saints – The Puritans As They Really Were
C.J. was talking about the issue of unreasonable expectations for your future spouse. I found it very appropriate to go back and hear what Puritans had to say about this topic since they were not submerged in a culture that had a really messed up view of marriage. After hearing this quote I had to really question if this was how I viewed seeking my future spouse, could this be restated as "Ryan's ethic of marriage", sadly most of the time my view is just the opposite. I think why this quote and or the topic in general strikes Christian singles so hard is we are so quick to hear something that is not being said.
The Puritans are not saying that you dont have to have any feeling for your spouse or looks don’t matter, or you should marry solely based on their level spiritually. It is definitely saying you should love person you plan to marry about is questions the type of love you base that on. When it says you don’t have to "love passionately" its means that we can have this idea that just because the "Love Train" doesn’t show up and run you over every time you see that person doesn’t mean you couldn’t spent the rest of your life with them. It says that we should look for someone that you "love steadily". Well does that sound romantic, comon my grandparents “went steady". When you look at this from a biblical view a steadily love is a true love. God loves us with a steadfast love. What if God had the most passionate love for us on day but could care less about us the next. The quote mentions how we relate to our best friends. Our closest friends are the ones that we spent the most time with, can bare with, are loyal to, and we dont easily change our opinion of them. This is what will make a marriage last and bring glory to God, a true biblical love not a unstable affection.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Through his preaching Piper began to show me that reconciliation to God is the greatest gift of the Gospel. “For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” 1 Peter 3:18. To be brought near to God is the greatest gift that can be given and a gift is what it must be. The goodness of God can only be tasted through the cross of Christ. Before we go anywhere to enjoy and taste the goodness of God we must first turn to Christ and his death at Calvary. God has and is challenging me, so I want to challenge you also. We need to stop living the Christian life just because we believe in God and know that we need to serve him. We must stop living our lives with less joy then our unbelieving neighbors. God wants to be treasured. He wants it so much he sent his only son to die so that we might be brought near to him.
“How?” First look to the cross. God’s glory is in the face of the bleeding Christ who suffered for you. We can only know the Father through the Son. Second, we must pray. We have to lay ourselves before God and cry to him to cause this to happen. Peter says that God, “According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again” 1 Peter 1:3 (authors emphasis). Surely if he must cause us to be born again he must also cause this to happen. Third, believe in him. Do not doubt him, but trust him and love him, pray in faith to him, regardless of you feelings. God is faithful and in his time will answer your prayer. He will care for you better than you could ever care for yourself.
Father, thank you for the gift of yourself through the gift of your son. Give us a desire for yourself and fill us with your glory and a joy inexpressible that we might say with Peter, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him” 1 Peter 1:8. Why? Because we have tasted the goodness of God!