Monthly Archives: January 2017

Glory in the Details

Just a simple observation but one worth noting in Genesis 28 is how Jacob came to a certain place instead of any particular place. The focus of this passage is rightly on God passing on the Abrahamic Covenant to Jacob but this dream was to happen in a certain place. The text reads…

10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran.

11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. – Genesis 28:10-11

Jacob left Beersheba and stopped at the certain place ‘because the sun had set.’ There’s no need to try and figure out how he came to this certain place with time of departure and speed of travel. Rather with even more precise details than we know Jacob stopped at the very spot on the planet that God intended.

Glory in the details of God’s word. Be amazed that He directs our path. And be certain that He knows what He is doing. To God alone be glory forever and ever!

Discipleship Works

Did discipleship work? The short answer is yes. The following connection will clearly reveal that it did. Does it still work? I’m afraid it’s a simple plan that has fallen by the wayside. It obviously does not work if we don’t practice it. Let’s be encouraged by this picture of discipleship working and transferring on to others well after the death and resurrection of Christ.

Jesus teaching his disciples on the mountain:

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12

Here we know Jesus was teaching his disciples about true blessedness. The teacher gives the information and the students listen. Will the teaching transfer into practice? The next text shows that it became the practice of Jesus’s disciples but also continued to be taught in discipleship. Look with me in Acts. 

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.

9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.

10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”

12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council,

13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law,

14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”

15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. – Acts 6:8-15

Obviously Stephen had all kinds of false accusations leveled at him. What would his response be? Was Stephen taught what true blessedness was? Well it seems clear that he was discipled and it became his practice because Acts 7 reveals his response. 

There the disciple of Christ does not debate whether the accusations are false but rather preaches the gospel. I would assume Stephen expected this and knew very well that they needed to hear. 

This type of response has continued because discipleship has continued. Jesus taught his disciples and his disciples taught more disciples. May we go and makes disciples of all nations! 

The Lure and Shame of Sin

I heard a quote from Russell Moore this week concerning abortion but the quote also aids us all in the temption to sin and its effects afterwards. 

Moore stated, “The woman walking into the abortion clinic hears the whisper ‘It’s just tissue’ but on her way out she hears ‘That was a real baby.'” 

This is a clear picture of how the enemy works temptation and shame. His whole purpose is to destroy. Just know that God’s mercy and grace are bigger than our failings. 

And remember before caving into sin that there are lies on both sides. Test every thought and whisper with the Word of God. The hissing serpent still lingers but his days are numbered. 

The Lord is Merciful Even When We Hesitate

No comment is really necessary. I just want to point out the awesome mercy of the Lord even when Lot and his family hesitate.

15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.”

16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. – Genesis 19:15-16

The Source of Boldness and Confidence

I don’t mean to encourage you to have confidence in just anything but rather the certainty that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners by dying on a cross at the hands of sinful men and being raised from the dead. As I read Acts 4 this morning, I noticed the simplest of sources for confidence in the gospel. 

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13

As you probably know, Peter and John were arrested for healing a man who had been lame for forty years! The authorities wanted to know by what power they performed this miracle. Peter answered their question but it was his demeanor that concerned the leaders. 

Peter’s desposition was bold and confident. In other words, it was clear that he believed what he proclaimed. That means it’s possible to lack confidence in the gospel truth we believe. How do we get that bold desposition? 

The simple answer is: they had been with Jesus. You might say, “Well, of course, they really were WITH him!” While that’s true we can be with him as well. We can be with Jesus by reading the Scriptures. But that’s not all. God has sent the Holy Spirit. Those two sources are sufficient to give you confidence in the gospel. 

One way that will aid you in being with Jesus is by using a bible reading plan. It’s only seven days into the new year. You can get started now! My favorite is by the Navigators. Let me encourage you that the purpose of reading is to be with Jesus which will produce a bold confidence in him. Make that your purpose instead of checking every box. Follow the link below, use your favorite or ask someone for a recommendation. 

Click to access Discipleship-Journal-Bible-Reading-Plan-9781617479083.pdf

A Picture of Strength 

In my recent post Grace Overflowing we looked at some ways to evaluate where our identity stands. In this post I would like to consider a connection I saw this morning in Acts 3. 

I quoted from the first pastoral letter to Timothy where it says, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service” – 1 Timothy 1:12. As I make my way through the Bible this year I noticed in Acts 3 this beautiful picture of what it looks like for strength to be given. Here’s the text then one observation.  The whole chapter could be quoted here but we will narrow it to see our focus:

6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. – Acts 3:6-8 

This lame beggar is a picture of our life before encountering Christ. This man had no strength in his legs. He could not walk…from birth I might add. The strength Paul gave thanks for in serving the Lord is made visible in this lame beggar. 

Let us see ourselves in this picture of strength given. Let us leap for joy and praise God that he has given us strength in Christ…in the gospel. See his glory and rejoice. 

Enemies Will Increase

I remember Psalm 3 being a real source of encouragement to me in the beginning of this amazing journey with the Lord. The sense of his sheer sovereignty began to firm up under me. Though my situation was not filled with known enemies like David in Psalm 3, over the years that has changed. As you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord your enemies will nonetheless increase. Be encouraged that the Lord is a shield about you and the lifter of your head. 

1 O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 

2 many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah 

3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 

4 I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah 

5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. 

6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. 

7 Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. 

8 Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah – Psalms 3

Immoral, Invisible, God Only Wise 

Grace Overflowing

I have been going through an identity problem lately. I didn’t notice it for a while. I knew I was discouraged but I could not put my finger on the root source. The Lord’s kindness has been at work to mercifully reveal and heal over the last week. Yet, even now I fight it off and strive for a life of overflowing grace. God used his word to expose this.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, to give him instructions and encouragement as he served at Ephesus. We read in 1 Timothy 1 beginning in verse 12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

A charge without encouragement is never enough. Paul needed to remind Timothy that his identity was not the pastor at Ephesus but rather a saved sinner by the mercy of Christ. This is hard sometimes to see because you don’t really know what your identity is until it is gone. So how can we know day to day what we are finding our joy in?

Here are some observations from Paul’s identity described in verses 12-14.

  1. Thankfulness: Paul gave thanks to Christ for the strength given to him. This is an acknowledgement of the source and the need. Paul also was thankful for being appointed as servant of Christ. How long has it been since you were thankful for being a servant of Christ? A heart of thanksgiving comes from a heart that knows that all things are from God…life breath and everything. In other words, a heart of that overflows with the grace of God gives thanks. So, the first evaluation can be “Am I thankful?”
  2. Acknowledging the past: Paul’s freedom to speak of his former life (and without making light of sin) was astounding. He easily took on the chief of sinners title. If you would have stopped Paul on the road to Damascus two minutes before he meet Jesus and asked him if he was the chief of sinner he would probably have said, NO. I am the most righteous man you have ever met! Yet, a man who finds his identity in Christ and overflows with grace calls himself the foremost sinner in the world. So, the second evaluation can be “Do I remember who I was?”
  3. Praise/doxology: Upon saying these things, Paul then broke out in worship–1 Timothy 1:15-17 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. You might discover your identity problem if you haven’t genuinely and often worshiped Christ the King…even brought to tears over how merciful he has been to you.

Even now God’s mercy and grace attends to your soul. May your life overflow with grace and put on display Christ’s perfect patience. The one whose identity is in something other than Christ will not display these things stated above. You will be like me: joyless because what I was identifying in was not going very well. Praise be to God that he doesn’t leave us to ourselves. His mercy is abounding!