Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In Preparation for Christmas

It is that time again. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and many have already frantically begun to prepare for Christmas. The sales are on, the shoppers are swarming, and the decorations are going up. The preparation has begun, but none of it can compare to the preparation that took place for that first Christmas. Just imagine what it would have been like to not know the Savior as intimately as you do now.

In order to get ready for Christmas it is always helpful to prepare our hearts by thinking of what it must have been like for those of the household of Israel who had been waiting for the Messiah. It all started right after the fall when God told Eve that there would be a seed that would have His heal bruised by the serpent, but He would ultimately crush the serpent’s head. Already, God was promising a remedy for the spiritual death they had brought upon themselves, and all subsequent generations, and also for the physical death that was working in their bodies at that very moment.

As time went on God’s people were taught many things about this coming one who was going to redeem them from the wages of sin. To name a few, they were told that He was going to be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), He would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), and He would speak in parables (Ps. 78:2-4). On top of all that, He would be hated without reason (Ps. 35:19), He would be spat upon and stuck (Is. 50:6) and He would be pierced (Zech. 12:10), all to save His people by being a substitute for them in order to make atonement for their sins (Is. 53:5). Then in the darkest hour He would be resurrected (Ps 16:10, Ps 49:15).

The prophecies had been progressively revealing details regarding the coming Messiah, and although they did not fully understand it, it gave them hope. But the promise of a Messiah who was to redeem them from the grip of sin is not the same as having Him present and knowing His name. Those among the Hebrews who really believed must have constantly been wondering who He was going to be and must have longed to know His name. Jacob may have wrestled with Him in some preincarnate form, and when Jacob asked Him his name He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name? (Gen. 32:29),”and he was left in mystery. Later, Samson’s father Manoah may have spoke with Him, and though he did not fully understanding at the moment with whom he was speaking, he also asked Him His name and the response was “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful (Judges 13:18). But all of these events were shrouded in mystery for the name was not to be revealed until the fullness of time.

With such wonder, hope, and speculation, they lived for thousands of years, including an approximately 400-year period of time following the prophet Malachi where God seemed to go silent. Then that faithful day came when an angel of the Lord appeared to Mary and said, “You will conceive and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” His name would be Jesus, and He would save His people from their sins! The wait was over. Sinful humanity was to be redeemed, and the one who was to do it was going to be named Jesus!

Oh, how we have sung His name for thousands of years. How long we have known the only name under heaven by which man can be saved. How long it has filled our hearts with joy. We have not only known His name and His teachings, which are and endless supply of light and life, but we have also known Him because He is still with us today, and will be with us always, even unto the end of the world.

As we already know, He bore our sorrows and carried our grief. He took upon Himself our sins, thus ending the condemnation that the law demanded, and He imputes to us His righteousness, making us co-heirs in the inheritance that He so rightly deserves, and we most certainly do not. None of the rapturous joys that fill the believer’s heart would be the same, had it not been for His birth in that lowly stable when God himself took on flesh.

It is easy to be swept away by all the trappings of the season, but the believer must not lose the infinite worth found in Christ, in all the paltry tin of secular add-ons. As you prepare your home this season, be sure preparation is made to spend time with your Savior through meditation on His word and prayer, for no heart is as full as the heart that is filled with Christ.

May the Lord bless you this Christmas season!

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Romans 16: The God of Peace Will Soon Crush Satan under Your Feet

In Chapter 16 Paul closes out one of the greatest letters ever written. He spends some time on the final greetings then closes with some final instruction. Since the original readers of this letter would have most likely read the entire letter in one sitting, all that Paul had said would still be fresh in their minds as he made his closing statements. In this final study we will look at five phrases made in chapter 16 and relate them to other passages in Romans to recall some of the great things we have learned along the way.

V. 19 “Be wise as to what is good.

Chapter 6:1 & 15 – We are not to continue in sin.
Chapter 8:9 - The Spirit of God dwells in us.
Chapter 12:1 – We are to be living sacrifices.
Chapter 13:9-10 – Love is the summary of the law.
Chapter 14:1 – Care for the weaker brother.
Chapter 15:2-3 – Christ is our example.

V.19 Be “innocent as to what is evil.”

Chapter 1:18 – Do not suppress the truth.
Chapter 3:23 – All have sinned. That includes us.
Chapter 7:15 – Hate sin even you are guilty of it.

V. 20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Chapter 1:16 – The Gospel is the Power of God unto salvation.
Chapter 5:1 – We have peace with God.
Chapter 6:9 – Death no longer has dominion.
Chapter 7:24 – He will deliver us from this body of death.
Chapter 8:1 – No condemnation.
Chapter 8:33 – No accusation.
Chapter 8:37-39 - No separation

V. 25 “Now to Him who is able to strengthen you.”

Chapter 5:2-5 – We have hope because of the Holy Spirit’s work.
Chapter 8:28 – Even when Satan buffets it is for our good and God’s glory.
Chapter 8:30 – All He justifies he will glorify.

V. 27 “To the only wise God.

Chapter 3:26 – He can be both just and the justifier of sinners.
Chapter 8:28 – He is working all thing together for good.
Chapter 11:3-5 – There is still a remnant. Don’t trust your own perception over truth.
Chapter 11:33 – Depths of riches, unsearchable judgments, and inscrutable ways.
Chapter 1:16 – The Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Leaness of Soul

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! Psalm 106:1

Psalm 106 begins by calling the people of God to praise and thanksgiving. The following 12 verses continue by reminding them of God’s great and merciful works. How He showed His power and set them free from the slavery in Egypt, how He parted the Red Sea to get them to safety, and covered their enemies with water. With thoughts like this we see thanksgiving flowing freely from grateful hearts as they remembered the Lord and His mighty works.

Then, a few verses later, we find a drastic change as we are told how they soon forgot His works, and did not seek His counsel. As they were in the wilderness they began to lust for the old flesh pots of Egypt, and began to test God in the wilderness. As they began to demand meat, as if the Lord had not given them something they deserved, we find this in verse 15, “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness of into their soul.”

In the context of this verse, what was happening was that the Lord had given them what they desired, which was meat in the form of quail, but the meat did not satisfy them. The more they ate the less it gave them what that hoped it would, and for some it even caused disease. Ingratitude works much the same way. When we think that we need something more than what God has already given us, we tend to find that when we get what we desired, it does not satisfy. The reason for this is that our true satisfaction is found in feasting upon God through His word, in remembrance of all He has done for us. But when we begin to forget God, and ingratitude begins to set in, it doesn’t matter what we get, we will still want more. If God and His great mercy toward us is not enough to fill our hearts with gratitude, we will find that nothing will.

Gratitude flows freely from a heart that is full of God, mindful of His great works, and aware of His grace to such unworthy and sinful creatures. The sinner, who hungers and thirsts after righteousness and has been filled by the justifying work of Christ, can find themselves in any harsh situation that this life has to offer and still have hearts that rejoice and are full. But the one who has forgotten God’s great works toward them and begins to think they deserve something more, can be in the most pleasant of all earthy positions but will live with souls which are lean.

The same Gospel that saves us from our wretched condition is the same Gospel that will fill our souls with joy for all eternity. We are never to forget how great His love is toward us, that we should be called sons and daughters of God. To go about our lives without this at the center of who we are will cause leanness to our souls that will never be satisfied with anything else we try to put in its place.

This Thanksgiving, and moving on into the Christmas season, if your heart has been forgetful of God’s great love and works toward you, or if you find yourself unsatisfied with what the Lord had done for you, it is time to seek His face and remember His goodness. Do not let one more day pass without spending time in His word, and calling out to Him in prayer, for the greatest holiday meals will not cure the leanness of soul which accompanies ingratitude toward God. And if you have remembered your God and your heart is full with Him, then any lack you face this holiday will not be able to empty the joy and gratitude which fills your Soul.

May all our hearts burst forth with gratitude toward our great God this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving,


Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Questions for Romans 15 – The God of Hope!

1. (v.3) What does “the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me” mean?

2. (v. 6) What will be the result if we live in harmony with one another?

3. (v. 7) Why should we welcome one another?

4. (v.8-9) Paul speaks of Jews and Gentiles; how does this affect your understanding of this passage?

5. (v. 13 and v. 4) Paul wants us to abound in hope. Where do we find the encouragement to hope?

6. (v.20-22) Why has Paul been hindered in coming to the Romans?

7. (v. 30) In what way does Paul want the original readers of his letter to strive for him?

What were Paul’s prayer requests?

8. What do these prayer requests say about the power of God over the will of men?

9. How does this chapter challenge you in regards to striving for unity with fellow Christians who may be troubled by you, even when you are in the right?

10. Does the fact that God is called “the God of hope” encourage you? If so, why?

11. When we look at the example of Paul’s life in this chapter, do you see anything that we should emulate?

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Questions for Romans 14: Stumbling Blocks and Weaker Christians

The way some people apply Romans 14 would mean that Christian who have freedom in Christ should be constantly walking on eggshells, but is that what Paul was intending? A proper understanding of this chapter will help us to love our fellow Christians who are troubled by something in our life that they may think is a sin but is actually permitted by Scripture. It can also help us in avoiding actual sins ourselves.

1. (V. 4) – What does it mean to judge another?

2. (V.5) – What is Paul talking about when he talks about “esteeming days?”

3. (V.8) – What does it mean “to live and die unto the Lord?”

4. (V. 13) – What does it mean to “put a stumbling block in the way of a brother?”

5. (V.14) – What does Paul mean when he writes, “it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean?”

6. (V.15) – What does it mean to “destroy the one for whom Christ died?”

7. (V.23) – What does it mean when it says, “whoever has doubts is condemned?”

8. What are some examples of things that someone might think is sinful but would actually fall under Christian liberty?

9. Is there any limit to how much we should do to make sure we don't offend a weaker brother?

10. What if your brother thinks reading your Bible in public is prideful? Do you stop reading you Bible around other people?

11. What are some ways you have seen this passage abused?

12. Could it be possible for someone who thinks eating meat offered to idols is a sin, and not a matter of Christian liberty, to simply tolerate it when you do it?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Five Solas of the Reformation

Here is a link to the most recent radio show I participated in. In it we discussed the five solas of the reformation.

Here is a synopsis of the show...

With Special Guests Doug Eaton of Bethel Grace Baptist Church, Pastor Philip George of Calvary Presbyterian Church of Glendale CA, Reverend Kent Moorlach of Communion Presbyterian Church of Irvine CA, Host Christopher Neiswonger of Apologetics.com and callers from across the theological spectrum, this years show is focused upon the influence and thought of Martin Luther and the "Five Solas" of the Reformation for Reformation Day 2010. "Justification by faith alone is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls" - Martin Luther

The show can also be downloaded in itunes under the apologetics.com podcast.

God Bless,


Labels: ,

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Difficulty of Real and Artificial Character

"In civilized life, where the happiness, and indeed almost the existence, of man depends so much upon the opinion of his fellow-men, he is constantly acting a studied part. The bold and peculiar traits of native character are refined away or softened down by the levelling influence of what is termed good-breeding, and he practises so many petty deceptions and affects so many generous sentiments for the purposes of popularity that it is difficult to distinguish his real from his artificial character."

Washington Irving

Labels: ,