What Do You Know?

A friend has told me a number of times, “When you don’t know what you’re supposed to do, go back to the last time you knew what you were supposed to do and do that.” That’s where I’m at today: evaluating what I know.

There are so many decisions to make in life: Who should I marry? What job should I take? How can I best serve the Lord? This last question is one we should ask on a daily basis. Every morning I rise, I know there is a reason I am still here. God has a job for me to do, and I must fulfill that task.

phil16

What do I know? God has called me. He desires to use me. He has blessed me more than I deserve. If I am faithful to the end, He will give me a crown of life.

What do you know? I would venture to guess that much of what I know would hold true for you as well but question deeper than that. Are you continuing in the calling to which God has called you? Have you lost sight of the direction you received a while back? Are you struggling to hear God’s voice? Think back to the last time you heard Him and consider if that is still His word to you or if He is changing your direction. It’s easy to be so busy that we don’t take the time to hear but, in these days of uncertainty, it is vital that we do hear.

If you are struggling to know God’s will for this season of your life, take the time to press in until you know what He desires of you. Then move forward in faith, knowing that He will complete the work that He’s begun in your life.

May this beautiful song by Steve Green encourage the heart of our readers today.

Ever Learning

Today is an easy day to praise the Lord. The sun is shining, I can see God’s hand at every turn while feeling His love and protection. There are days it is not so easy though, yet praise is not an option. It is a necessity.

Trust, Colorful words hang on rope by wooden peg

I wish I were better at consistently praising Him, even when everything around me looks like it’s falling apart. This is an area God does help me in though. He often reminds me that, even when I can’t see it, He is working. He loves me and, no matter what happens, I am still His beloved child.

I am so grateful to have the best Father in the world. His love for me is not measured by how successful I am. He simply wants me to trust Him and serve Him with all my heart. I am still learning how to do that as well, but I am thankful that He doesn’t give up. He constantly encourages me to try, try again.

I expect I will never stop learning until the day He takes me Home but I pray I will pass my tests with flying colors. He is so good!

A beautiful hymn by Fernando Ortega to give Praise to the Lord the Almighty today.

God’s Story

God’s Story  Gods Story

A review by Stuart Brogden

 

This book is subtitled, A Student’s Guide to Church History. As one who has greatly benefited from studying church history, I was most eager to read this book as I think all Christians would learn much that is helpful by such a study. In the introduction, Brian Cosby says “knowing church history helps explain our identity … helps explain the present … guards us from repeating mistakes … testifies to God’s powerful working as HIS STORY.” Studying church history done well will have much in common with the historical narratives in Scripture – showing the brute truth about God’s people: redeemed sinners who still struggle with sin and obey with less than perfection.

 

In chapters 2 – 10, our author provides a quick overview of the history of God’s people from Genesis through the Great Awakening, giving details that should whet the appetite of any young – or older Christian – to discover more about the providential care for His people in all ages.

 

The last couple of chapters provide a warning to all who might be drawn aside from the study of the Scriptures. Church history shows that those who do not cling to the Bible as the Word of God inevitably drift to using human wisdom to determine eternal outcomes. In the 11th chapter (they are not numbered), Cosby details four categories of abandonment of Scriptures as the rule for life and godliness, with shipwrecks of faith being the inevitable outcome. First, he describes revivalism, headlined by Charles Finney – who gave us altar calls and myriad “new measures”. Dispensationalism arrived at about the same time. Second, Cosby tells us about liberalism – which denies the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. This leads professing Christians to deny the virgin birth, the creation account, and pretty much anything essential to the Christian faith. He names people so we will recognize them when we read other documents, so we are properly warned. Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is known as the “Father of Modern Liberal Theology” and had many followers, including Henry Ward Beecher, Adolf von Harnack, Albrecht Ritschl, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Rudolf Bultmann, Paul Tillich, John Hick, and John Shelby Spong.

 

The third abandonment of Scripture is cults, which are typified by the Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both of these cults have a heretical view of Jesus and the trinity, each has their own twisted version of the Bible. These factual departures from the Word of God does not stop millions of people from following these cults and leading many to a certain doom apart from Christ. The fourth and last category is evolution. I was happy to see this listed, as I have come to see this view as particularly incompatible with Christianity, yet accepted by many Christians who are too impressed by what men call science. There is no evidence of any evolutionary change in kinds – from non-dog to dog, etc. All the “proof experiments” document that environmental adaptation (known as micro-evolution) is common. Change in kind (macro-evolution) has never been documented, much less has evolution been shown to be the cause for the origin of any species.

 

The last chapter is a review of four influences in the 20th century that have encouraged or derailed many Christians: fundamentalism (reaffirming the essentials of the Christian faith), neo-orthodoxy (the Bible becomes the Word of God when used by God to draw a sinner to faith), Pentecostalism (a focus on experience rather than Truth), and evangelicalism (emphasizing the historic Protestant theological convictions). This last also brought a mixture of revivalism and new measures as churches experimented with different forms of entertainment worship.

 

This excellent book finishes with an exhortation from the author that should encourage every Christian, young or old:

 

As we look back through the history of the Christian church, we see God’s faithfulness to preserve his people in spite of their sin and rebellion against his truth. We see a great cloud of witnesses, generations of those who have embraced Christ by faith, beckoning us onward as we will one day be translated from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. And until that day comes, we pray, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

 

I say amen!

 

This is a very good book, easy to grab hold of. Parents should put this in front of their children, read it with them and discuss the attributes of God and the sinfulness of man that are always on display. This latter ought remind that none but Jesus does helpless sinners good. Flee to Him. This book shows us the way.

There is JOY in Serving Jesus!

Some churches still sing the old song, “There is Joy in Serving Jesus” but I wonder if they really believe what they are singing. Way too many go to church, sing the songs, hear the preaching, but still look as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Life is hard. There’s no doubt about it. But, for a Believer, joy should flow out of our hearts because we are sons and daughters of the King! He didn’t promise us that life would be all sunshine and roses but life is not all thorns either.

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Don’t let Satan blind you to the many blessings you have received at God’s hand. Ask God to help you get your mind off of the negative and onto Him. You are called to be a Light, to radiate with His love. If you have lost your joy, you can’t do that. If you think you are joyful, ask yourself if others can see that joy. If they can’t, I doubt that you are as joyful as you think you are.

I hope you can sing with all your heart:

There is joy, joy
Joy in serving Jesus
Joy that throbs within my heart
Every moment, every hour
As I draw upon His power
There is joy, joy
Joy that never shall depart.

Paul Washer – The Great Commission

Paul hits another one out of the park with this little sermon jam. It is well worth just under 7 minutes of your time to watch this video. May we be encouraged to continue moving forward for Christ instead of staying stagnant. As Paul exhorts in this video, let us live for Christ in such a way that we will have no regrets when we die.

Who Does the saving in the Salvation of Sinners?

Does Faith Save?For-By-Grace-You-have-been-Saved-through-faith

Stuart Brogden

The Foundation

Several authors have described salvation with a vivid word picture that warrants scrutiny. I’ve added a bit to it as I reflected on several things recently.

Let’s begin with a baseline on a couple of issues with scripture. These aren’t the only verses that address these issues, maybe not even the best ones – but they are His words on the topic.

  1. Galatians 3:24 tells us “…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The purpose of the law is not save us, but to show us that we cannot save ourselves.
  2. In John 6:65 Christ tells us “that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” In our natural, sinful condition we are unable to seek after God – He pursues us.
  3. Acts 3:19 says “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” The call to salvation requires a change of heart, as no heart of flesh can inherit the Kingdom of Christ.
  4. Ephesians 2:8&9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Nothing we can do can cause God to love us more or love us less.
  5. In Acts 4:12, Peter – speaking of Christ – tells us “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” No cheap substitute can pay the price to gain you and me admittance to heaven.
  6. Finally, consider John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” A guarantee that we are sealed by God unto life eternal.

Keep these truths in mind as I paint this picture, as told to me by others.

 

Man’s Circumstance

You are in your 6th floor apartment, where you live a comfortable, carefree life. Everything is fine, your problems are minimal; you have no need of a savior – no need at all which you cannot meet.

Suddenly, you hear a fire alarm and, as you open your door, you discover your entire floor in engulfed in a raging fire! You cannot make it to the stairs; so back into your apartment, you rush. Not so safe and carefree any more. Frightened, anxious, unsure of how – or if – you will survive.

The fire shows us our need for a way out of our circumstances.

 

The “Crises of Belief”

In the midst of your fear, you hear a voice calling you to the window. As you peer through the opening, you see the firemen on the street below, urging you to jump!

You know that jumping from the window of a sixth floor window is normally suicide. Before the fire, your apartment was luxurious, comfortable, safe – you had no sane reason to jump. You would never have considered it! But now your apartment is a dangerous place where you will surely die if you don’t get out. Jumping may be worth the risk. Moreover, the firemen are telling you that you must jump if you want to save your life.

As you look out the window, you see that the firemen are holding a safety net for you to jump into. The firemen look professional, the net looks strong. But it’s a long way down from your window. Can the firemen and the net be trusted? If you jump and the net turns out be made of brown paper rather than canvas, you chose wrong and are dead. If you jump and the firemen are sadistic or untrustworthy and yank the net away or let go of it, you chose wrong and are dead. Only if the fireman who’s calling you to jump is trustworthy and his net strong can you be assured of survival.

Yet no matter how strong the net, how reliable the firemen – you’re dead unless you jump. No amount of knowledge about the net or the fire brigade will keep the fire from consuming you. The fire demands you to choose. The fireman calls you to jump.

You consider the situation. It’s not fair! You didn’t cause the fire, yet your life is wrecked. The fire has caused all the vermin that inhabited the apartment with you – unseen, unnoticed – to come out into the open seeking escape. You had no idea so many nasty bugs were in your walls! The fire didn’t cause the bugs to live with you; the fire simply forced them into the open. The fire revealed the filth of your environment, the squalor of your life and forces you to look elsewhere for life itself.

 

The “Irrational” Answer

You can’t escape on your own – you have to trust someone telling you to jump 80 feet into a net! Your own reasoning tells you to lay low until the danger passes; that the fire isn’t all that dangerous and will soon be put out. But hotter and louder it roars and you know it will consume you. If not for the fire, you might not have ever known you were living in filth.

So you jump – knowing that jumping won’t save you. Jumping is worthless unless those firemen and that net are there and do their job. Will they? You won’t know that unless you jump. So you jump.

And the firemen are all they claimed to be and the net was strong and sure. You were in danger of losing your life to the fire, but were saved by the firemen and their net after you heard them calling you and jumped from your “safe” apartment, falling securely into their grip.

 

No Turning Back

One more thing about jumping out of the window – once you jump, you can’t go back. Having trusted the firemen and the net enough to jump out of the window from 80 feet up, there’s no way for you to un-jump and get back into the fire even if you wanted to.

 

See Yourself?

So our lives are here in the flesh. Often comfortable to the extent that we fail to recognize the dangers of evil. Living with all sorts of hidden evil, trying to manage our sin in the same way that we manage ants and roaches – with a superficial treatment to eliminate the evidence.

Then comes the law, exposing what was in darkness and driving us to the knowledge that we are dead and in desperate need of a savior. Faithful to His promises, almighty God calls you to accept what makes no sense – another died that you might live. All you need do is answer His call and fall – jump out the window – into His safety net of saving grace, held tightly by Christ Jesus – the One who will never let go.

 

What Saves You?

As with the fire, the law doesn’t save you – it convicts you that are sinful and need Christ. As with your jump, your faith isn’t what saves you – it’s the One in whom you place that faith that saves. Christ saves to the utmost, beyond what man can imagine, beyond what man or Satan can affect or undo.

 

The Call to Action

A fire is sweeping across our country and the world. Filth is being exposed. People are looking for answers, seeking security. Tell them about Jesus! He saves! Tell your neighbors – Jesus saves! No other name in heaven – there’s no name on earth or in hell that saves – only Jesus. And Jesus saves completely, beyond all your sin, beyond all the enemy’s accusations, beyond your wildest dreams. You can trust Him – we must trust Him completely or be consumed in the fire of His judgment.