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How long has it been since you read through our statement of faith? Do you know the essentials of the faith? Do you know what you believe and the Scriptural basis for that belief? And why you believe it?

I am preparing to teach the Maijuna’s our statement of faith this next week. These are the essentials, non-negotiables of our faith. They ought to be the bedrock of our faith. It has been a good exercise for my own soul. There is such rich truth that we often do not ponder in the midst of our daily schedules. Sometimes we get caught up in the latest Christian book on some topic everyone is talking about and I would say that is not a bad thing. However, is your faith grounded in what the Bible teaches about God, man, Jesus, etc.?

I would encourage you to make this a part of your devotion at some point during the year. If you need a start here is the New Hampshire Confession of Faith 1853 revised, which is what we used at the church I pastored.

Sovereign Grace Statement of faith

May the Lord bless your time in His word!

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Psalms 105 

It recounts the history of God’s redemptive work in his people, Israel. As I read through this Psalm this week the supernatural work of God in their history stood out to me. It was evident. When you read if the conquest in the book of Joshua we see that these mighty works of God proceeded Israel. The point of it is that God was evident in the lives of his people and others took notice. 

Is it like that for us? I am not suggesting some miraculous works need to happen but is our life characterized by the unexplainable? Situations and things that can only be explained by the answer of God. I wonder sometimes if my life would be any different if I didn’t believe in God. Would people notice a difference? Or is the history of my life distinctly marked by God’s hand! I wonder! 

I want a history of the supernatural! Where people see God and he receives the glory. Not a life where you can’t tell if it was me or God working. This is my prayer! I don’t want to come to the end of my life and it was ordinary. I want it to shout the greatness and power and majesty of our great God and King! 

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Our pastor Ken Ramey said something to the effect that the disciples and Paul expected Jesus to return during their lifetime. It hit me hard. I know this to be true…just read their words. But what about me? I confess that even though I give considerable time and energy and resources to disciple-making and missions, I do not have that kind of expectancy. Shame on me! I believe Scripture but has it changed me?

As I have mauled it over in my head since yesterday morning I have sought to see how my lack of expectancy has impacted my living. For example: why did I just give the homeless guy food and walk away instead of stopping to spend time with him and share the gospel? If I truly believed Jesus was coming back now, like today, I would not walk away without sharing the good news of Jesus. If I believed the return of Jesus would usher in a complete separation and people would spend eternity in hell and it could happen right this moment before I finish typing this sentence then should I not act differently?

The imminent return of Christ has great implications for our daily living…if we truly consider it. Are we not considering it because we are too attached to this world? Or because we are too busy? I am sorry for the rambling but I can’t get this out of my head and I want to learn from what God is teaching me about myself here. As a disciple I must renew my mind to think more biblically about our Savior’s return so that it shapes how I interact with the world with the gospel and love.

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Friday ramblings…

I attended a missions summit a few years back named: GC3. The name has a great ring to it. The concept is two great commandments, one great commission. The two great commandments fuel the work of the one great commission. I love it.

I am not sure focusing on the negative regarding church involvement in the great commission is helpful. Instead, I want us to focus first on falling in love with God with “all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) This is not achieved by half-hearted devotion. We must spend time with him through his Word and prayer. The more time spent, the more we get to know him and with that knowledge will come a greater and deeper love. God alone must be the utmost in our affections or we become idolaters. And idolaters will never seek to advance the kingdom of God.

Second, after we have sought to know the Lord more through his word and fall deeper in love with him then we will love what he loves: people! It is only after our affections are caught up in gazing at God that we will be able to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:38) How much do you love yourself? Well, I would imagine a great deal since you take care to bath, eat, dress, work, and so forth. It is not hard to convince someone to love themselves. However, we need the love of God in us to truly love someone else as much as we love ourselves. This is the only way to accomplish love for other…love God supremely and then we will grow in loving others sacrificially.

So once God is utmost in our affections, we will begin to love people like he does which will in turn cause us to pursue the great commission. (Matthew 28:18-20) So the commission Christ gave us is not something you just do. It must be pursued through our love for the glory of God and our desire to love others by seeing them saved. Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but the landscape of missions tells me otherwise. It is time for us to stir up people to love for God and people which will cause us to move toward accomplishing the great commission.

just some Friday ramblings….

The Real Enemy…

Who is the real enemy now? I was trying to understand David’s words from Psalm 7, among others as he called for God to defeat his enemies. David was obviously in a different situation than I have ever found myself. The thought that kept coming to mind for me as I read through these Psalms this morning was: who is my enemy that should cause me to cry out to God for help?

Ephesians 6:12 came to mind: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” My enemy is not necessarily those who hate me, my wife, children, co-workers, etc., even though they may seen to be against us. The greater enemy is Satan, the spiritual forces of evil. I would suggest that we need to cry out to God to intervene against our true enemy and fight for us.

But another thought that strikes me here is that David did not merely pray for God to fight against his enemies…he went and engaged the battle as well. This is the point of Ephesians 6:10-20. We must put on the full armor of God and go to battle against the “evil forces.” So are we doing this? Are we engaging the battle through prayer to God for his intervention as we pursue with great vigor the battle before us? I am challenged by this in that I tend to go after the battle without seeking God to engage. I have a great, powerful God who speaks and the universe is created and somehow I forget when I am in the midst of a battle of temptation and sin to cry out to him to smash my enemy. The battle is the Lord’s…we are just the ruddy guy called to engage in the battle so God can secure the victory over our true enemy each and every day we awake.

Fight the good fight today!

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This is encouraging: click here

 

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This is a response to question 4 of chapter 1. How do we know that the “we” in Galatians 1:8 must have been the most prominent Christian spokespersons?

I believe what Fuller is stating is the “we” of Galatians 1:8 is speaking of those with apostolic authority. Those who have been given the task to first deliver the message of God to the church. Fuller states “that Paul meant to include Peter and James in the “we”…is implied by verse 18.”

The “anyone” of verse 9 then speaks to other people who are charged with preaching and teaching so there seems to be a difference between the two groups. This “anyone” is speaking only what they have first heard from the apostles. This would include those who have been appointed over the church as elders.

I believe this distinction of those who first preached and those who preach what has already been preached to them is further supported by Paul’s argument for his apostolic authority in verses 10-17. Why would he make a distinction between what was delivered by man and what he received was delivered by Christ? This is to show authority based upon being commissioned by Christ himself rather than preaching what others have preached. In addition, the reference to “angels” supports this since they were commissioned by God and not man.

Ralph