CHRISTIAN, REJOICE!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 ESV)

cranky christianHave you ever meet a cranky Christian? Of course you have. These are Christians who have allowed circumstances to rob them of their joy. Paul tells us that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

You should not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is created by what happens to us. It is a product of circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is the result of our covenant relationship with God. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV) Christian joy is impossible without a loving relationship with God:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. This is why a Christian can have eternal joy. We should not worry about circumstances or what we have or don’t have in this world. Take joy in the eternal pleasure of knowing God and being one of His family. If you have been saved from your sins in order to spend eternity in His household, do you not have sufficient reason to be full of Joy?

THE FOUNDATION OF WORSHIP

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24 ESV)

WorshipMany of the unchurched public visited places of worship during the recent Holidays. What did they see and hear at your church? In some churches, I think they saw only a poor reflection of the secular world. How then will they be saved if the pastor’s message is not God-centered, sin-exposing, self-convicting and life-challenging?

Of course, this is the opposite of the popular sermons that seek only to entertain and promote a Christianized self-help philosophy. In such places the congregation becomes sovereign; ignoring what God has said on the subject, they dictate how worship will be conducted by what makes them feel better.

Thank God there are other churches where people meet to engage in God-centered, Scripture-directed worship. Those churches remind us that God wants us to worship Him in truth. (John 4:24 ESV) These are churches where you find the expository preaching of God’s Word. Indeed, all of worship is regulated by the Bible. Which of these churches do you attend?

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation
By water and the Word:
From heav’n He came and sought her
To be His holy Bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.
(“The Church’s One Foundation” by Samuel John Stone)

WORSHIP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15:8-9 ESV)

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,  Therefore behold … the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” (Isaiah 29:13-14 NASB)

Narcissus

Narcissus

I believe that when Christians and unbelievers attend church they should hear the Bible preached and sing songs that reinforce the biblical message. This is worship that glorifies God. However, the modern church has altered worship to the current tastes of the unchurched. The advent of the “Church Growth Movement” (CGM) in evangelical circles has generated changes in corporate worship to attract the unchurched. Churches who adopt CGM are driven to find the answer to the question, “What do people want?”

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DOUBTING HEARTS

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:38 ESV)

Billy GrahamDo you have doubts about the Bible being the real Word of God? Do you have doubts about Jesus Christ? Perhaps you believe there must be a God, but you doubt that He personally cares anything about you. James spoke rightly when he said, “He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6 ESV) The unsettled soul has many doubts which result from a lack of communion with Christ. Do you doubt? Run to Christ and with every step nearer, you will grow in confidence and overcome discouragement. Faith is strengthened by communion with Christ. Charles Spurgeon asks the question, “Where do you live? Many a believer lives in the ‘cottage of doubt,’ when he might live in the ‘mansion of faith.’” We must continually be on guard against the doubt which destroys faith. Therefore, guard your faith through regular communion (prayer and reading God’s Word) with Christ.

A NEW YEAR’S CALL TO ENTER BY THE NARROW WAY

Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (Luke 13:24 ESV)

… Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

goals-for-new-year-2016-year-resolutionsThe year 2015 has now given way to the arrival of January 1st, 2016. What will become of us in this New Year? What is God’s will for us? This is the time of year when many people make resolutions they believe will improve their lives.

Jesus Christ has said, “… One thing is necessary”. (Luke 10:42 ESV) Yet, this “one thing” is of cosmic and eternal significance. Like Mary, the sister of Martha, we need to choose the good thing which will not be taken away. (Luke 10:42 ESV) We must struggle to enter through the narrow way. The narrow way represents living a holy life before God and man. Paul describes his personal struggle in these words:

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WHAT IS MY NEXT STEP IN LIFE?

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)

providenceHave you ever wondered what the next step in your life should be? Should I get married? Should we have children? Should I take just any job to get by since I’m unemployed? Should I start looking for a new job because I’m dissatisfied with the one I have now? What should be my major in college? I’m unhappy in my marriage; should I divorce? Should we spend Christmas at her parents or mine?

Christian – whatever your next step is, it should honor and glorify God. As a matter of fact, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV) God desires to be the highest priority in our lives. Sometimes we become frustrated because we haven’t heard what we want to hear from God. Our prayers for guidance seem to go unanswered. In many areas, His will for us may belong to the secret things of God. We must learn to trust in God’s providential care. If God’s glory is the greatest purpose of our lives, then we will be useful servants to Him. Trust God, acknowledge His Word, seek His Wisdom, and His Sovereignty by obeying Him and being thankful for His providential care. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV) Continue reading

THE VOICE OF CHRISTMAS

christmas angelOn this Christmas morning, I pray that your thoughts are overwhelmed with the love of Jesus Christ. I am sharing with you this morning the following hymn by Charles Wesley in which the Gospel and evangelical theology are put to lyrics and music. Wesley took advantage of poetic license when he wrote about the angels singing. Actually, Luke 2:13 says: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,” (Luke 2:13 ESV) However, the fact that the angels were “saying” and not “singing” does not diminish the beauty or truth found in this Christmas favorite. By the way, George Whitefield helped Wesley rewrite his original lyrics into the final version we have today.

Hark the herald angels sing [say]
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing [say]
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christian+Christmas(“Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” by Charles Wesley, music by Felix Mendelssohn)

HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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