Focus on the Good

June 30, 2006

Here is a quote from John MacArthur I ran across in my studies: 

Having a genuine desire to remember and focus on the goodness, kindness, and successes of others does not involve denying their weaknesses and shortcomings but rather looking past them.  The Holy Spirit prompts believers to appreciate others’ love, generosity,and compassion and to forget the rest (cf. 4:8, 1 Cor. 13:4-7).  On the other hand, a person who constantly focuses on the negatives, faults, shortcomings, and slights of others is a person not controlled by the Holy Spirit, and is perhaps an unbeliever.  Bitterness, resentment, a critical spirit, holding grudges, and the like are works of the flesh, not of the Spirit.  (emphasis mine)

Let’s strive today to see the good in people; to look for evidences of God’s grace in their lives and overlook the areas He is still working on! 

In Christ

Pastor Mike

The quote is taken from John MacArthur’s Philippians, p.20.

P.S. I have family in town for the 4th and my daughter’s first Birthday!  So, I will probably not have any posts until July 5th.  Hope to see you then.

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The Pastoral Pursuit of Christ

June 28, 2006

 

The human heart is so fond of legalism that, without a constant meditation on the grace of God given us in Christ, we will imagine that our spiritual achievements are reflective of our spiritual state. Pursuing Christ has the opposite effect. It shows us that any spiritual health we have is found only in Christ and that every success we have in ministry is found only in Christ. The glory goes entirely to Him.

Without understanding that our devotional life is primarily about pursuing Christ, we might see the development of our gifts in ministry as the ultimate end of our devotions. We long to know the Bible better so that we can minister better to people. We long to pray more, so that our ministry might flourish. We long to have devotions that can be a better model to our people. All these are good desires, so long as they don’t rival the primacy of the pursuit of Christ as the great end in our devotions. Jesus Himself must be our chief desire!

This a quote from a very helpful article by Mike Gilbart-Smith on the Pastor’s Devotion.  The article can be found by clicking here.  It is a little longer, but well worth your time.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


The Ministry of Prayer

June 27, 2006

Acts 6:4–But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.  (NASB)

Here a few reflections on prayer from my current studies:

  1. Prayer is a ministry priority. (See Acts 6:4)
  2. Prayer is a noble ministry.  When we pray, we stand with Paul and the Apostles, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  They were all devoted to prayer.  (See Acts 6:4, Colossians 1:9, Hebrews 7:24-25, and Romans 8:26-27).
  3. Prayer is a powerful ministry.  It is prayer that leads to boldness, power and opportunities in the advance of the gospel. (see 1 John 5:14-15; Acts 4:23-31; Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4)

I hope these refelections will encourage you to pray. 

Click here for a helpful link that encourages praying through a Biblical prayer each month this year.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Be Strong and Courageous

June 26, 2006

One of my special memories is a watching a 2 year old in the Philippines sing the song, "Be Strong and Courageous."  I loved when he would wave his finger and sing "God is never going away."  That was the reason he could be strong and courageous.

I remembered that this morning as I was reading in Deuteronomy.  In chapter 31, Moses is preparing the people to enter the Land.  He is giving his final instructions as he prepares to go be with the Lord. 

Repeatedly, he admonishes the people and especially Joshua (who will replace him as Israel's human leader) to "be strong and courageous."  The reason–the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you." (31:7)  This same idea is repeated in 31:8 and 31:23.

What makes you afraid today?  What makes you tremble?  If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you can be strong and courageous.  God is not going away.  He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  I hope you will meditate on this promise today.  I pray that no matter what your circumstances, you will be strong and courageous. 

There is another song I love to listen to and sing.  It is "I Will Glory in My Redeemer."  One of my favorite parts is when the words proclaim:

Though foes are mighty, and rush upon me

My feet are firm held by His grace, My feet are firm held by His grace.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Freedom and Convictions

June 23, 2006

I was recently looking through Justin Taylor's blog Between Two Worlds. He had a post linking to a very thought provoking series of posts on Mark Lauterbach's blog.  I don't know anything about Mark, but this series will provide you with some meat to chew on regarding a critical and often poorly understood area of Christian living.

Liberty and the Christian–1

Liberty and the Christian–2

Liberty and the Christian–3

Liberty and the Christian–4

Liberty and the Christian–5

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Battling Impatience Part 2

June 22, 2006

There is one truth that has always helped me when I have struggled with the difference between God's timing and my timing–and my resulting battles with impatience and resentment.  It is found in one of my favorite verses, Psalm 84:11 "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

Here is how I use this truth.  Do I have the thing I want?  If the answer is no, am I walking uprightly?  If the answer is yes, the thing I want right now must not be good for me (at least for right now).

I find this a helpful exercise when I am tempted to desire things I don't have.  It is my prayer that it will help you as well.

By the way, this is not original with me.  I think I learned it from Rick Holland, the College Pastor at Grace Community Church, but I'm not sure who to give credit to.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Battling Impatience

June 21, 2006

I have frequently heard the statement, "We live in a microwave society."  We want everything a few minutes ago.  But, we seem to serve a crock-pot God.  There are plenty of times He certainly doesn't seem to be in a hurry to give us the things we want, or even think we need. We long for God to bless us, to give us a husband or wife, a child, a house, a new job, a larger ministry–the list is endless.  And, we wonder why it is taking Him so long.

Today, I gained a helpful insight in the battle against impatience.  In Deuteronomy 7:22, Moses informs the Israelites that God is going to drive the nations out "little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly"

The issue is not whether God will drive them out–He will.  The surrounding context makes that clear (see Deuteronomy 7:17-24). The issue is when.  So why is God going to do it slowly? Because, if God drove the nations out all at once, the Israelites would not be able to occupy the Land quickly enough to prevent the wild beasts from taking over. 

Here is the point.  God in His wisdom knows exactly how much we can handle and when we can handle it.  God knows that the blessing we long for may actually be a curse if He gives it now.  We are simply not ready yet.  We may be in time, but not now. 

We need to learn to trust that our Heavenly Father is good, knows what is best for us, and knows when to give it.  When we do that, the struggle against impatience will be easier.

In Christ

Pastor Mike