The Word

We Do Not Lose Heart

2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-6 “Therefore, since we have received this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. … For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” …

My flesh never sleeps. It never takes a break. My struggles never end; if I fought on my own, the flames of sin would consume me in an instant. I echo the words of Paul in Romans 7“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. … Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” I join with him in joyful thanks to God for the sacrifice of Christ Jesus who redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with lovingkindness and compassion (Psalm 103:4). His sacrifice is the only thing allowing me to persevere through the trials that assail me. Without Him, I would have been forever encompassed in the temptations weighed against my soul.

Those who have repented of their sins and trusted in Christ’s atoning work on the cross know this fact well. How often do we forget, though? How many times do the worries of this world lay hold of our hearts, causing anxiety and fear? These sins are so fundamentally opposed to the truth we claim, yet I see myself and many other Christians continually fall by their hands! Anxiety, namely, is a multi-faceted sin, but one of its severest encroachments upon truth is its expression of unbelief. When I become anxious, I show off a lack of faith in God; the same God who always has been and always will be. The God who told Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM,”; the One who created the heavens and the earth, made man and controls all things. When Moses tried to run from the will of God, He rebuked Moses, saying “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” (Exodus 3:11, 12) More than these, anxiety contradicts our faith in the One who made us alive together with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions! (Ephesians 2:5) We know that if He has the power and love to deliver us from His all-consuming wrath, He has the strength to uphold us through any circumstance we encounter.

Anxiety is ultimately pride, for when we attain this form of doubt, our actions are screaming that we are not content with God’s sovereignty in our circumstances. 1 Peter 5:6, 7 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you.” We must humble ourselves to receive our circumstances in a godly manner, offering all of our worries up to the Lord, because out of care, He will comfort us.

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” 

Isaiah 35: 3, 4 “Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will have His vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.”

On a closely related topic, the Lord has lately been teaching me what it means to persevere through trials I have brought about my own sin of idolatry. I have had to battle my flesh as it has risen within me time and time again. By His grace, I have been able to overcome and persevere through this temptation. I have been comforted throughout this time by Jesus’ words in John 14:1, 3, 15-16; 15:4-5, 9-11 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. … If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. … If you love Me you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, the He may be with you forever. … Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. … Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be made full in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

The Greek word for “abide” is also translated as “remain”, “endure”, and others. Jesus has told us that apart from Him, in our flesh, we can do nothing of eternal value. I persevere because of the cross. He has sacrificed Himself for my debt, and calls me to abide in His love. He calls me to serve Him no matter how difficult life becomes, no matter how much pain, heart-brake, trials and persecutions I must endure. Paul served as a perfect example of this, as he endured more than any of us will ever know for the sake of Christ. Concerning the thorn in the flesh that the Lord gave Paul, he wrote “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with  distresses,  with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul suffered so much for the sake of the gospel, yet he endured it all! I should be ashamed if I complain or become anxious about any struggle I might have, for Paul did not become anxious but endured all forms of persecution! Never should I say that a specific situation or setting caused me to sin, for Christ has given me the power to persevere. Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

His grace is sufficient; for this reason I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, knowing that the testing of my faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that I may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing  (Philippians 3:14, James 1:3,4 emphasis added). I persevere because I know it pleases my Lord, and He will bless me for it. (James 1:12) I must become a man and do away with childish things, as I persevere in Christ through my life on this earth (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12). I must bear my yoke as a son of God, as in Lamentations 3:27-32 “It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope. Let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him be filled with reproach. For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to his abundant lovingkindness.”

In the end, I must imitate Paul as he imitated Christ. Since I have the ministry of furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of His Kingdom and His rule, I will endure. I finish by quoting the ever faithful Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.”

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Other, The Word

The Glory Of Heaven – Jack Hughes

If one is a believer, he has much to look forward to; If one is an unbeliever, he is destined for torment unless he repents. A sermon by Jack Hughes, on Luke 16:19-31, (the parable of the rich man and  Lazarus) focusing on the aspect of heaven. I found this message so encouraging; a great reminder that this life is all the hell we believers will ever experience. Then an eternity of joy in the presence of our Saviour. What extent are willing to go to  in the service of your King? Are you willing to sacrifice every material and relational tie you’ve ever had to surrender your body to be burned for the furthering of the Gospel and the Kingdom? We should be.

“When I get to heaven, I’m gonna sit down, and I’m gonna look at Jesus, for a thousand years. And then I’m gonna say, ‘Where’s Paul?'” – D. L. Moody

“The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace; Not on the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand. The Lamb is all the glory, in Immanuel’s land. ” – Annie Ross Cousin

The Glory of Heaven – Jack Hughes

1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

Psalm 73:25-28 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”

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Holiday

Merry CHRISTmas!!!

Isaiah 9:6-7 “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”

Christmas. The very utterance of this word carries hundreds of images to the mind at once. Lights, trees, decorations, candy, fudge(white chocolate in my case), love, friends, family, comfort, Santa, and Jesus are examples of the kinds of images that would scurry through one’s brain at this word. There are so many topics I could write about under the Christmas category that I will not be able to expound upon them all. I’ll fit as many as I can in this post though.

First off, the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Watch any secular children’s Christmas movie and you’ll get a different spin on it. “It’s about getting gifts from Santa for being good,” and “The true meaning of Christmas is giving stuff to people you love,” are the most common meanings that the culture projects. Looking in from the outside, one can see that for the typical family, Christmas is a holiday filled with discontentment and spawned from greed. People will become angered if they don’t like what they got or didn’t get as much as they wanted. One might feel jealousy over a friend who received something better than they. One could become greedy, hoarding as much as he can get, giving nothing in return. For an unbeliever, Christmas is a holiday rampant with sin. This should be in direct contrast with the conduct of a believer on this holiday, or really any time. For a follower of Christ, CHRISTmas is just that: a designated time that we offer up praise to God for the gift of His Son being sent into this world, as a perfect and holy sacrifice for our constant sin. Really this is nothing we shouldn’t already be doing everyday of the year, everyday of our lives. Jesus Christ has given us the greatest gift that only God could give; why should we only praise Him for it once a year? No, as already stated, we should do much the opposite!

So then, why should we participate in the traditions of our culture? Why should we give gifts? Is God not enough? If we have accepted the free gift of God of eternal life, we know He is enough. As I have said before, “no money, cars, relationships can compare to joy in Christ,” to borrow from the Christian rapper Lecrae. Nothing we can possibly desire on this earth can match up to who Christ is.

Psalm 73:25-26, 28 “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of Your works.”

See, to become discontent would defeat the purpose of Christmas: praising God because HE is enough! Each of us has been blessed beyond measure, so to sin in greed and discontentment would be like sneering at the Mighty God saying, “You are not enough. I want more! Your sacrifice was nothing.” How could we? Our Eternal Father deserves our lives and more for the boundless love which He has for us! We give gifts as a reflection of the gift we have been given, and should be proclaiming Christ the whole time we do.

In light of the fact that we must have this praise for Christ all the time, I believe many Christians should change their perspective of the Christmas season. To paraphrase John MacArthur, “When the world throws you a pass, catch it.” For the unbeliever, Christmas is a time of sin. For the child of God, Christmas is a tool. A tool for the furtherance of the gospel, of the good news of Jesus Christ, so that more may come to know Him. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is the only reason we celebrate Christmas. Far from it. We are finite humans, bound in weak flesh, and Christmas season serves to remind us of the gift of our Savior’s birth. We commemorate and celebrate the day of His birth at one time, together as a body.

I hope and pray that you will keep your focus on Christ throughout the Christmas season, throughout the year, and throughout your life.

Here is a little something I was shown on youtube. It’s a hilarious narrative of the birth of Christ by a British pastor. Enjoy!

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The Word

Get Over Yourself

This weekend I was on a short summer vacation, and was able to see a younger friend whom I had not been with for about a year and a half.  Throughout the weekend, the boy would have a rebellious attitude toward the things his parents told him to do, responding to his parents’ commands with rejection.  My mother encouraged me to talk to him about it, and challenge him about whether it was right or wrong for him to do so.  I didn’t really desire to do so, I didn’t want to get in that situation, as it would be uncomfortable for us both.  The next morning in my devotions, I didn’t have my Bible available so I opened my Bible app on my phone.  The passage it was set on was this:

Titus 3:1,2

1  Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,2  to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

  I prayed that morning, before I read the Scripture, that I would take to heart what I read in His word that morning and practice it throughout the day.  And what do I find?  A passage that dealt with the very thing I was struggling with.  God used His Scripture to give me a kick in the boot. To say, “Noah, you need to do this.” I find it amazing how quickly and effectively God uses His Word to challenge us to do something.  That day I purposed to speak to the boy about his behavior. I mentioned things to him several times throughout the day and then that night, while talking about the church we were going to tomorrow, he asked me, “So how do you get to heaven?” and so I was able to share the gospel with him again, as he had already heard it, but I was able to stress repentance, which he hadn’t heard before.

You see, if we can(through the Lord’s help) get over ourselves, our own fear and pride about how situations where we talk about our faith with unbelievers make us look, then there is nothing holding us back from what we know we need to do as followers of Christ.  When we struggle with such sin, we should always pray and look to His Word, and God will show us what to do.

If you could keep the boy in your prayers, as he is not a believer but is interested. And interest is sometimes a sign of God calling someone. The boy’s name is Drew.

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