Insights on Joy

July 28, 2006

Tim Challies has done it again.  Here is an incredibly rich article on the difficulty of rejoicing with others.  He also gives some encouragement on the challenge of avoiding being drawn in to others grumpiness, complaining, coveting and lack of joy.  Click Here for article.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Is Jesus Your Treasure?

July 27, 2006

Last night, I had the privilege of sharing a Bible Study with the young adults in my church.  The main idea was that a gospel driven life “Desires God above All Things.” 

If you don’t make God your chief treasure, if God is not the thing you are most happy about, if He is not the person in whom you find your joy and satisfaction

You May Not Be Saved!

That’s a strong statement.  But it is important and it is Biblical.  Let me give you a brief overview:

  • God commands you to Love Him (Mark 12:28-30; Deuteronomy 6:5)

  • God commands you to seek joy in Him (Psalm 37:4; 32:11; Deuteronomy 28:47-48)

  • God is the greatest pleasure in the World (Psalm 16)

  • God is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy.  To seek anything else is evil and stupid (Jeremiah 2:12-13)

As John Piper says in his book, Desiring God

The pursuit of joy in God is not optional.  It is not an “extra” that a person might grow into after he comes to faith.  Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit (of joy) your “faith” cannot please God.  It is not saving faith.

My hope and prayer for you is that you will abandon everything in a passionate, intense pursuit for joy in Jesus.  Please don’t settle for anything less. Don’t buy the world’s lies.

In Christ

Pastor Mike

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”  Matthew 13:44

 


R.C. Sproul’s Holiness of God–A Review

July 24, 2006

If God is holy at all, if God has an ounce of justice in His character, indeed if God exists as God, how could He possibly be anything but angry with us?  We violate his holiness; we insult His justice; we make light of His grace.  These things can hardly be pleasing to Him.

In his classic book, The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul relentlessly hammers home the reality of these truths.  He takes us into the trembling, smoke-filled
Temple as Isaiah unravels in the presence of a Holy God.  He shocks us with the sudden deaths of two rising priests, Nahab and Abihu.  He displays Uzzah, sprawled dead in the mud, after touching the Ark of God.  R.C. takes us to the edge of hell to show us the reality of God’s just wrath. 
          

Praise God, he doesn’t leave us there!  R.C. knows and loves the gospel of God’s grace.  Through his pen, the cool breeze of God’s mercy will wash over you as you lean over Luther’s shoulder and discover that God’s justice is “that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith.” You will know the peace of being comfortable in God’s presence.

R.C. is an engaging writer.  He has a knack for bringing deep theological truth alive in vivid and simple, but profound ways.  His illustrations move from terribly dark, to laugh out loud funny.  But, his point is inescapable.  I am thankful for the headache that drove him to contemplate the holiness of God.  He has performed a great service by reminding us that God is Holy. He is just.  We must not assume grace or presume upon His mercy.  Yet, we can find mercy freely offered in Jesus Christ.

This is a must read book that will deepen your love for God.  It will heighten your respect for Him.  And, it will give you a profound love and appreciation for what Jesus did on your behalf.

Please feel free to use these study questions to deepen your interaction with this book.  Click here for the questions.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Holiness of God Study Questions

July 24, 2006

Here are some study questions for use with R.C. Sproul’s, Holiness of God.

Chapter 1

1.      As he opens his book, R.C. Sproul depicts a tremendous encounter with the presence of God that radically changed him.  What prompted this encounter? 

2.      What is the modern theory of creation?  Why is it more miraculous than the Biblical account?

3.      What problem does R.C. say he had as he began to know about God?

4.      Why is the study of God’s holiness important?  

Chapter 2

1.      What is the great hope of both the Jewish person and the Christian?  

2.      What is the significance of repeating “holy” three times in Isaiah 6:3?   

3.      How does Isaiah react to his vision of God?  

Chapter 3—The Fearful Mystery

1.      What does the word “holy” mean?  

2.      What is “transcendence”?  What does it have to do with God?  

3.      How does holiness relate to the other attributes of God?  

4.      What comes to your mind when you think of God’s holiness? What emotions do you experience?

Chapter 4—The Trauma of Holiness

1.      How do the disciples react when Jesus stills the storm? How does Peter react when he catches the huge catch of fish?  What do these reactions teach about holiness?

2.      What analogies does Sproul use to show our fear and dislike of the holy?   

Chapter 5—The Insanity of Luther

1.      What was the root of Luther’s “insanity”?  

2.      How does Luther’s understanding of the Law point to our problem with God’s holiness?  

Chapter 6—Holy Justice

1.      What is your reaction to the stories of Nahab, Abihu and Uzzah?

2.      According to Sproul, what don’t we understand that causes us to react with offense and surprise at God killing these men?  

3.      Why does Sproul say that the Old Testament Law is a law of “astonishing grace”?  

Chapter 7—War and Peace

1.      What did Jacob, Job, Habakkuk and Paul have in common?  What was the result in each of their lives?  

2.      What fruit of justification does Sproul emphasize in this chapter?  What is the surprising result of this fruit?  

Chapter 8—Be Ye Holy

1.      What does the Bible call believers?  Why are they called this?   

2.      What is our proper response to what Jesus has done for us?  

3.      Why is it important to grasp the call to be “transformed” as opposed to simple “non-conformity”?  What will be necessary if you want to be “transformed”?  

Chapter 9—God in the Hand of Angry Sinners

1.      How do we reveal our hatred of God?  

2.      According to Sproul what is the problem with semi-pelagian or arminian theology?   

3.  How can you love a holy God?

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Urgent Prayer Needed

July 22, 2006

I ran across the story of Abraham Cherrix this  morning at The Rebelution

I’ve linked an article at USA Today so that you can read more about it.  (Click Here

It is truly frightening what the government is putting this young man through.  The treatment he wants to pursue should be his own decision, especially since he has already tried the “standard” treatment offered by his doctors.  It is particularly shocking that the parents are being charged with “neglect” for supporting their son’s decision.

Please be praying for the Cherrix family.  Please be praying that wisdom, justice and freedom will prevail.  We all have a stake in this.  If the government succeeds in forcing Abraham to pursue the doctor’s recommended treatment against his wishes, we will all lose a little more of our freedom. 

In Christ

Pastor Mike


God’s Just Judgment

July 19, 2006

God’s justice in judgment is frequently challenged.  Many assume that it is unfair for God to judge this person or that person, particularly if they have not heard about Jesus. 

In his book, Desiring God, John Piper states that:

When every human being stands before God on the day of judgment, God would not have to use one sentence of Scripture to show us our guilt and the appropriateness of our condemnation. He would need only to ask three questions: 1) Was it not plain in nature that everything you had was a gift, and that you were dependent on your Maker for life and breath and everything? 2) Did not the judicial sentiment in your own heart always hold other people guilty when they lacked the gratitude they should have had in response to a kindness you performed? 3) Has your life been filled with gratitude and trust toward me in proportion to my generosity and authority?  Case closed.

By this standard, every one of us stands condemned.  Even as one who knows and believes in Jesus, I fail this test.  Praise God that Jesus offers His perfect righteousness and stands in our place bearing God’s wrath.   What a reminder of my daily need for grace. 

I pray that the awareness of your guilt before God and the mercy He offers you in Jesus will lead to an overflowing love for God.  I also hope that you will never question the justice of God’s judgment.

In Christ

Pastor Mike


Relationships with Unbelievers

July 17, 2006

I always find it interesting when similar ideas show up in my studies.  It is unpredictable and usually unexpected.  Because I believe God is sovereign over every event of my life, I suspect that He is trying to tell me something through His Word and the ministry of other believers focused on His Word.

Lately, the theme of –relationships with unbelievers–continually confronts me. Personally, this is not an issue, since I am joyfully married.  However, it is an issue that never seems to die in ministry to young adults and singles.

It began with a post from girltalk, emphasizing making the hard choice to obey Jesus over dating a non-Christian.  You can, and should, read the post by clicking here.

It continued as I read Mark Dever’s sermon on 1 Kings in Promises Made.He points out that after a tremendous beginning of personal and national blessing, “Solomon’s non-Israelite wives lead Solomon into the worship of of false gods, just as God, through Moses, had warned would happen when Israelites married foreigners who worshipped false gods.”

Please pay attention!  Entering or continuing a relationship with an unbeliever will be deadly to your spiritual life.  Do you really think you are stronger and wiser than Solomon?  Do you think you are smarter than God?

God has placed unbelievers off-limits for a reason.  He knows that when you give them your heart, they will lead you away from Him.  It may be hard, but for your own good and spiritual safety–Don’t enter or continue a relationship with a non-believer.

In Christ

Pastor Mike