Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Monday Meditations: Preach the Gospel to Yourself Every Day

open bibleYesterday, my husband preached a message titled “Unbelievable” from Mark 6:1-6. This passage tells of Jesus and his disciples returning to Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, and teaching in the synagogue. Jesus’ friends and family “took offense” (v. 3) at Jesus and rejected him. They didn’t believe he was who he said he was. They couldn’t get over who they thought him to be (i.e., merely Jesus, brother to their neighbors, a carpenter’s son, the son of Mary). Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief” (v. 6). It is unbelievable that people would hear and see Jesus, yet reject him.

It is unbelievable to me when people hear the gospel clearly presented and yet reject Jesus. I recently had the opportunity to study one of the gospels with a friend for about 2 months. It was sad and unbelievable to me that she should come away rejecting Jesus as who he clearly said he was–God the Son.

Yesterday evening our ladies’ study discussed a passage from our current book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Our emphasis was the Gospel. The point was that in order to fight our sin, we need to view our sin in light of the gospel. We each need to “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.”

As I thought about this and typed out for myself a reminder to do so (see below), I thought that believers can also struggle with unbelief in the gospel. When we live constantly giving in to our sins (even–especially?!—the “respectable” ones), when we wallow in the guilt over our sins, when we strive to meet God’s approval only with our good deeds, etc we don’t practically believe the gospel. We’ve given in to unbelief. And this should be unbelievable too. It is unbelievable that believers should live every day without practically living out God’s work in us through the gospel every day.

So, as I told my ladies that I would do, I typed out this reminder to preach the gospel to myself every day. I’m going to print it out and put it somewhere visible, so that I will remember the gospel.

Preach the Gospel

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: The Power of the Son of God

wavesMy husband has been preaching through the Gospel of Mark, and it has been so refreshing to hear this “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) preached straight through. It has been humbling and awe-inspiring to see the immense power in simply a word or a touch of Jesus Christ.

One of the primary emphases lately in my husband’s sermons is that Jesus is God. While some think the title “Son of God” implies only that Jesus is God’s Son, the fact is this title means much more. Jesus, as “Son of God” shares the qualities of God. Jesus is, in fact, God. I have heard my husband say basically the following words  many times over the past few weeks: “If you can come away from these passages and not see that Jesus is God, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Nature

In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus had finished a day of teaching in a boat to a huge crowd by the sea. At evening, Jesus and the disciples left the crowd to go to the other side of the sea. Jesus fell asleep in the boat, and there soon arose a fierce storm. The storm was so bad that waves crashed over the boat, filling it with water. Jesus continued to sleep, so the disciples woke him, asking him if he cared that they were perishing.

Jesus responded by simply standing up and rebuking the wind and sea with one command: “Hush, be still. And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.”

Then Jesus asked why they were afraid. He asked them if they still have no faith. The disciples response? “They became very much afraid,” wondering “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

What made the disciples afraid? Who then is this? Who then can say a word and all nature obeys him? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Demons

In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea. As soon as they got out of the boat a man with an unclean spirit met Jesus. This demon-possessed man lived naked among the tombs, was so strong that he was unable to be restrained even with chains, spent night and day screaming in the tombs and mountains and gashing himself. Note the demon’s response (through the man he possessed) when he saw Jesus:

  • He bowed before Jesus (v. 6).
  • He referred to Jesus as “Son of the Most High God” (v. 7).
  • He appealed to God for Jesus not to torment him when Jesus commanded the spirit to come out of the man (v. 8).
  • He earnestly implored Jesus not to send them out (v. 10) but rather into swine (v. 12).

When Jesus asked the demon’s name, he responded “Legion; for we are many.” A Roman legion consisted of 1000-6000 men, so it is possible that this many demons possessed this man.

            “Jesus gave [the demons] permission [to enter the swine].”

After the demons entered the swine, the pigs jumped into the sea and drowned. When the pigs’ herdsman told the people of the city and country, they ran to see what had happened.  They came to Jesus and saw the once-demon-possessed man sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. Their response? “They became frightened.” So frightened, in fact, that they asked Jesus to leave. The man who had the demon removed, however, begged to go with Jesus. Jesus denied him, telling him instead to go home and report “what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” This the man did and “everyone was amazed.”

What frightened the crowd? What amazed everyone? What kind of person does a demon bow to, beg for mercy, and ask permission to leave the one it is inhabiting? Who can command  thousands of demons with a word? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Disease and Death

In Mark 5:21-43, Jesus went back to the other side of the sea by boat, only to be greeted by a large crowd. The crowd gathered around him, and Jesus stayed on the seashore. One of the synagogue officials, Jairus, came to Jesus, fell at his feet, and asked for the life of his dying, 12-year-old daughter. He asked that Jesus would come lay his hands on her, so she would get well and live. Jesus went off with him.

While he and Jairus were walking to Jairus’ home, the large crowd continued to follow him and to press in on him. A woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years (thus considered unclean and untouchable according to Jewish law) heard about Jesus and squeezed her way through the crowd to get close to Jesus. Her goal was to simply touch Jesus’ garments in order to be healed. This she did, and immediately the hemorrhage stopped and her body healed.

After simply touching Jesus’ garments, the woman was healed. Jesus could perceive that power had left him by this simple touch.

Jesus asked the disciples who had touched him, and the disciples were incredulous that he would ask such a question because there were so many touching and pressing in on Jesus. Still, Jesus looked around and saw “the woman fearing and trembling.” Jesus comforted her, telling her to go in peace, because her faith in Jesus’ healing power had made her well.

Now, remember, Jairus was still with Jesus and likely saw this whole thing. In fact, while Jesus was still speaking to the women, people came from Jairus’ house, saying that his daughter was dead–no need to trouble the Teacher anymore. Jesus, ignoring this announcement, said to Jairus, “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

Jesus, now taking only Peter, James, and John with him to Jairus’ house, saw people making a commotion, weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus informed them that the commotion was unnecessary because the girl was not dead, just sleeping. The people laughed at Jesus, and Jesus put them out of the house. Taking his three disciples and the girl’s parents, Jesus entered the room where the girl was lying.

Jesus took the dead girl by the hand and said “Talitha kum” (“Little girl, I say to you get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk.

They were astounded. What kind of person could bring healing by a woman’s touching his garment in faith? What kind of person could say two words, commanding a dead girl to come back to life? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Only the God who is Creator of the winds and waves, Sovereign over demons and disease, the Creator of life itself can have the power to still the storm, demand demons to depart, heal disease, and command life. Only Jesus, the Son of God, can share this power to its fullest extent.

Over and over again, the people who saw Jesus’ power were afraid. They recognized that Jesus was not mere man; He is also God. Unfortunately, some people were (and still are) fearful and rejected Jesus, asking him to leave. Others though–afraid and awed at Jesus’ display of power–did not remain fearful, but believed in Jesus as Son of God.

When we view Jesus Christ, in all his magnificent power, we should have a holy awe and reverence. Yet let us not “be afraid, only believe” and then report “what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: A Word to the Wealthy {that means you and I!}

piles-of-moneyYesterday, Dave preached from 1 Timothy 6:17-19. It is a passage to which I have never paid too much attention, because I have never considered myself wealthy. However, Dave reminded us of the great wealth that Americans do have, compared to the rest of the world.  One article I read stated,

Someone at the poverty line in the United States is in the top 14% of the global income distribution.

Hmmm. And I’m not even at the poverty level in the US! With that perspective, I can most certainly (and most likely you can too) apply this passage to myself.

Dave made 5 observations from the text (which I will have to summarize, because I don’t have my notes):

  1. We are not to be haughty regarding our riches (v. 17).

Dave cited Proverbs 18:11-12 ~ “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination. Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” When a wealthy person is proud concerning his wealth, he feels like he is impenetrable. However, such pride and dependence on wealth will cause sure destruction.

  1. We are not to set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches (v. 17).

Wealth is never certain–especially in an unstable economy. When Jesus was teaching a crowd in Luke 12, a listener asked Jesus to command his brother to divide the inheritance with him (v. 13). Jesus warned him about guarding against covetousness (v. 15), then told the parable of the rich fool (vv. 16-21):

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

  1. We are to rather set our hopes on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy (v. 17).

God is certain. He is the only one upon whom we can set our hopes who will never fail us. Beyond this, he does richly provide us with everything we have to enjoy. We enjoy many of the good things and the comforts that are provided us.

Far greater than any earthly provision is the rich provision that God offers through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:12-13).

  1. We who are wealthy are to do good with our wealth (v. 18).

We are to be rich in good works.

We are to be generous.

We are to be ready to share.

  1. When we are generous with the wealth we have here, we store up greater treasure for the future (v. 19).

As God blesses us with varying levels of wealth, we are to be generous with that wealth. As we are generous, we are laying a good foundation for the future. We are taking hold of that which is truly life.

In other words, part of our persevering as a believer, part of our working out our salvation, part of our preparing for heaven. . . is generosity.

As important and necessary as it is to look to the near future in planning and saving for our kids’ college funds, wedding funds, and our retirements, let us not forget that these things too are only temporary. Let us look beyond to the eternal future, building for it a good foundation and investing in eternal treasure today!

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: The Power & Hope of the Resurrection Celebrated Every Day!

ImageLast week, I prepared all week for Easter. I talked about the Lord’s death and resurrection with my kids. I prepared a special treat to teach them the truths of the resurrection (resurrection rolls). I prepared a special meal and a special Sunday School lesson for Sunday. I got up early on Sunday morning to make my family a nice breakfast and listened to music to prepare my heart for worship.

But for various reasons, I ended up being frustrated and grumpy. I sat in the nursery with my two kiddos and I felt sorry for myself that things didn’t go as I planned. As I listened/watched from the little TV in our nursery corner to the hymns, prayers, and the message, the Lord started to teach me something.

This day that we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, the day we call “Easter,” is just a day we have chosen to especially remember the Lord’s resurrection (i.e., there is no command to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection once a year at this time we call Easter). Strictly speaking, it is really like every other Sunday, the Lord’s day, the “first day of the week.”

Every Sunday–every day, really–is an opportunity to remember the power of the resurrection. The hope of the resurrection. Every Sunday–every day–should call us to worship the risen Savior, the one who sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

So, whatever may have discouraged us on Easter Sunday, whether it may have seemed more significant (no huge Easter production at your church, inability to attend Easter service, lack of guests at your Easter service, the death/memory of a loved one, etc) or trivial (no new Easter dress, no egg hunts or Easter baskets for the kids, ruined meal, inability to visit family, etc), we can remember that Jesus Christ’s resurrection is still to be celebrated! Because God is merciful, he gives us hope through Jesus’ resurrection that his power will guard us until the final day when we are finally presented to the Father as spotless because of Christ’s death and resurrection. He gives us hope that these trials–small or big–and sin struggles which discourage us will one day be over, because he is risen!

This is reason to have joy, hope, grace, and strength. Every Sunday. Every day.

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

2 Comments »

Monday Meditations: How Women Keep Themselves from Straying after Satan

ImageYesterday, Dave preached part 3 of a series on caring for widows from 1 Timothy 5:3-16. In discussing the qualifications for those who should be registered as “truly a widow” for whom the church should take care, we looked at those who were disqualified from care. Young widows who sinfully remarry (i.e., marrying an ungodly individual) or who refuse to marry are tempted to have “passions [which] draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (11-13).

This last message in the series focused on verses 14-16. I thought verses 14-15 particularly insightful, being a wife and mom myself. Paul said in previous verses that a younger widow (i.e., someone under 60; cf. v. 9) can become a woman :

  • who learns to be an idle gossip and busybody (v. 13)
  • whose passions drive her away from Christ (v. 11)
  • and rather stray after Satan (v. 15),
  • evidencing the abandonment of her former faith  (v. 12)
  • and incurring eternal condemnation (v. 12)

Rather than being such a woman who strays after Satan (v. 15), Paul commands that a young widow do three things to help her persevere in her faith:

1. Remarry

Here Paul is talking about the type of remarriage that is not driven by sinful passions, such as those which drove the ungodly young widow in verse 11.

2. Bear Children

These two words are one word in the Greek, the same word that is found in 1 Timothy 2:15

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Paul described childbearing (i.e., everything involved in the bearing and raising of children) as a means by which women persevere in their salvation. The “mundane” task of caring for my children is a means by which I persevere as a believer and keep myself from straying after Satan!

3.  Manage their Households (read “master/despot of the house”)

First of all, let me remind my readers that I (and my husband) are complementarians. We believe that God has given authority to the husband to lead the wife and children (which we often call the “home,” which can be confusing when you understand this verse correctly).

However, this verse clearly indicates that the woman exercises her God-given dominion mandate by exercising authority over her household.  Dave explained that the Greek word for “manage their households” is one word, oikodespoteō (oiko=house, despoteō=despot, master). He quoted an excellent couple of paragraphs from one of Dr. Kevin Bauder’s In the Nick of Time articles titled “Bishops and Fathers”:

 An oikodespotes exercises a sphere of authority. Sometimes that authority comes from ownership or position, and sometimes it comes through delegation. Significantly, 1 Timothy 5:14 does not present the wife exercising oikodespotein under her husband’s delegation, but under God’s. What this probably means is that a wife has a sphere of authority—actual, decision-making power—that comes directly from God and not by grant from her husband. Her responsibility is to govern the household. In a modern home, this responsibility would give her authority over such matters as meals, décor, and cleanliness. She can tell her husband to move the sofa. She can decide what color the walls will be, how to hang the drapes, and whether the home will have hardwood floors or wall-to-wall carpeting. She has the authority to order her husband to take out the garbage or to pick up his socks and put them in the hamper, and he needs to obey her.

Even though the text does not indicate that this household authority is mediated through the husband, a wise wife will exercise it deferentially rather than demandingly. Within his sphere of authority the husband will do the same. In any case, within a certain sphere the authority of the wife acts as a check upon and limitation of the patriarchal authority of the husband and father. His biblical leadership does not consist in simply telling his wife and children what to do. The Bible does give him real authority to make some decisions, but it does not give him the right to make every decision within his household.”

Paul commanded young widows to remarry, bear children, and manage their households as acts of godliness by which they persevere in their faith and keep themselves from straying after Satan. While God does not call every woman to have children, let alone marry, he does call many. He has called me to do so, and I must take my marriage, my child-rearing, and my household management very seriously. These God-given responsibilities have eternal ramifications. They are means in part in which I keep myself from straying after Satan for the protection of my soul.

Clearly, being married, having children, and managing a household are not means of godliness (or salvation) in and of themselves. But as I do these things in order to obey Christ, exemplify Christ, and point to Christ, I will be drawn closer to Christ.

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: A Prayer for “Homes Built Firm upon the Saviour”

ImageYesterday, Dave preached on how the local church (and family members) are to care for their own church’s (godly) widows. 1Timothy 5 makes it clear that doing so is pleasing to God and exemplifies godliness. To neglect to do so shows that one has “denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (v 8).

We ended our service with a hymn of response to God, a prayer for “homes built firm upon the Saviour.” I was very moved by the text and the prayer echoes my own. Here is the text, authored by Barbara Hunt (sung to the melody Finlandia/ “Be Still My Soul”):

O give us homes built firm upon the Saviour,

Where Christ is Head, and Counsellor and Guide;

Where ev’ry child is taught His love and favor

And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:

How sweet to know that tho’ his footsteps waver

His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

 

O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers,

Who always place their hope and trust in Him;

Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers,

Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim;

A home where each finds joy in serving others,

And love still shines, tho’ days be dark and grim.

 

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,

The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;

Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster,

And praise is natural speech to ev’ry tongue;

Where mountains move before a faith that’s vaster,

And Christ sufficient is for old and young.

 

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!

We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;

Their bonds of love no enemy can sever

If Thou art always Lord and Master there:

Be Thou the center of our least endeavor:

Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.

 

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: They WILL Listen!

ImageIf you are anything like me, evangelism is a daunting task at times. I often get nervous talking to people, I hate knocking on doors, and I even have a phone-phobia. It’s nerve-racking to go to people and tell them that the way they think and live is wrong, even if you’re giving them life-changing, life-giving truth!

I have become increasingly convicted about my lack of evangelistic efforts as of late. Now that I don’t work outside of the home anymore, I have almost no outside contacts in my community. In fact, other than church, I typically go out once a week to go grocery shopping; that’s it! I’ve even thought about trying to go to the same cashiers at my stores in order to try to develop a bit of a relationship, but the cashiers are either trained to move customers through super quickly or they speak to their baggers the whole time in another language!

It’s really easy for me to come up with excuses as to why I don’t evangelize:

  • I have no outside contacts, and I’ve tried to (kind of)
  • I gave to our church’s evangelism fund, so that counts, right?
  • I participated in our church’s evangelistic effort
  • I invited someone to church.
  • I evangelize my kids every day (true and necessary, but not a good excuse)
  • My main ministry is discipling and teaching the Christians in our church

See?? I’ve got a good list of excuses!

So, I was talking to a friend and decided I needed to do SOMETHING! She told me about our library in town, which has reading hours for the kids once a week.  She said she’s gone a couple times and has noticed that the same moms come each week and that they talk to each other. AHA! Here is an opportunity to meet women in my community (with whom I even have some similarities–little kiddos!), build relationships with them, and give them the Gospel.

As I was thinking about this, I still felt nervous. You may think I’m silly for being nervous, but I suppose that’s just me. Anyway, I was praying that the Lord would give me boldness. Once I get talking, I usually am fine. But I need the boldness to initiate conversations.

All of this to say, my husband’s sermon yesterday kept bringing tears to my eyes. He didn’t know any of my thoughts about this, yet he preached a message in which God began to answer my prayer for boldness!

Dave’s message sought to answer 2 questions from Acts: When did the early church meet? and  How did the early church evangelize people? In answering the second question, he brought us to Acts 28. Paul was under house arrest for giving the Gospel, and some Jewish leaders came to ask questions and here what he had to say. Some were convinced, but others did not believe, and Paul reminded them what the prophet Isaiah said of the Jews who would hear but not listen to the truth. Paul concludes his speech to them with this gloriously encouraging, emboldening verse:

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen (Acts 28:28).

When we give the Gospel to people, they will listen!! Does that not encourage your heart? I know that encouraged my weak heart. Every time Dave said “They will listen,” I teared up. What does Paul do after that? He proclaimed Christ “with all boldness” (v 31).

Of course, we don’t know who all will listen. Clearly not everyone listens. But some will listen! And this is why Christ is patiently delaying his coming. People are still listening! God is still saving people. And I can have the privilege of being a part of that. As I am faithful to proclaim the Gospel, they will listen!

Would you pray with me that God would give me (and you) boldness? Pray that God would allow me to build a relationship with even just one woman I meet at the library this spring and summer. Pray that I would give the Gospel, that she would listen, and that the Gospel would save her!

***Quick update: I just found a great resource for iPhone users! My favorite Gospel tract is “Two Ways to Live” by Matthias Media. They have a FREE app for the tract. You can read about it here. I just downloaded it and am super-excited!

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: Eternally Impacting Others

ImageOn Sunday, Dave preached a message on 1 Timothy 4:11-16 entitled “The Minister’s Self-Watch” (borrowed from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s title for his sermon on v 16 which you can read here).

There are 7 commands in this passage, which Dave summarized this way:

1. Save yourself and your hearers (v 16).

2. Preach a pure church (v 11).

3. Set a good example (v 12).

4. Devote yourself to God’s Word (v 13).

5. Give your [spiritual] gift to others (v 14).

6. Practice makes for progress (v 15).

7. Watch your life and your doctrine (v 16).

While Paul was writing to Timothy, this letter was also read to the whole church. These commands apply in principle to all believers.

What Dave emphasized the most was what impacted me the most. He started and ended the sermon with verse 16:

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We are to persist in “this.” In verses 6, 11, and 15, Paul also talks to Timothy about “these things.” “This” and “these things” refers to the Gospel, God’s teaching, and devotion to a godly life. The means that God has designed that we persevere in our salvation is our devotion to and obedience to God’s Word.

Here is how Spurgeon said it in his own sermon of the same title:

We are, in a certain sense, our own tools, and therefore must keep ourselves in order. If I want to preach the gospel, I can only use my own voice; therefore I must train my vocal powers. I can only think with my own brains, and feel with my own heart, and therefore I must educate my intellectual and emotional faculties.

I can only ,weep and agonise for souls in my own renewed nature, therefore must I watchfully maintain the tenderness which was in Christ Jesus. It will be in vain for me to stock my library, or organise societies, or project schemes, if I neglect the culture of myself; for books, and agencies, and systems, are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul, and body, are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons of war. 

What really convicted me, though, was the impact that my own perseverance has on others. Obviously, it is all Christ who saves; my perseverance is the evidence and working out of my salvation. But further still, our devotion to godliness and God’s Word will make an eternal impact on others.

What struck me as I thought about this was that making an eternal impact on others doesn’t take much, but at the same time, it takes everything important. To clarify, the commands that Paul gave are the ways that we persevere, and they are basic: Obey and teach the truth of God’s Word; be a good example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity; devote yourself to the Word, serve others with your God-given gifts; consistently devote yourself to studying and obeying the Word, and be persistent in all of this.

Eternally impacting others results from a personal devotion and obedience to God’s Word. Eternally impacting others doesn’t demand huge programs, tons of money, etc. It demands a commitment to the basic things, the first things: being personally devoted to God’s Word and godliness.

How are you (and I!) eternally impacting others? Because we all will somehow. It may be that our lack of devotion to godliness and God’s Word will have negative, eternal impacts–surely on ourselves–but also on our spouses, children, parents, neighbors, fellow church members, etc. Or–better–will our progressive, persistent (not perfect!) devotion to godliness and God’s Word impact our eternity as well as those with whom we live and interact.

May God help us to carefully watch our lives, ever aware of the eternal impact we have on both ourselves and others!

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s 🙂 ) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: The Power of the Written Word

typing text{This was not from Dave’s sermon; I was in the nursery. This is just something I thought a lot about this weekend.}

Reading blogs is sometimes very helpful for my sanctification. And other times, it is very unhelpful for my sanctification.

When the author of a blog explains biblical truths clearly and graciously, I may be exhorted, encouraged, rebuked, and moved to love God and live a holier life in response.

There are other times when I read a blog, and I feel a “boiling” sensation deep inside. I start to get hot and almost shaky as I just want to leap through my computer screen and strangle the author of the blog post. Not quite the sanctifying response, right?!

And, often, the people who agitate me the most are the ones who are always talking about “grace,” “unity,” and “love.” They point fingers at other believers, calling them legalists and Pharisees and judgmental. Ahem.

Calling someone a legalist and a Pharisee is a stiff charge. I read Matthew 23 this weekend in my devotions. Pharisees were demanding of others, yet lazy themselves; they did everything they did only to gain attention for themselves; Jesus called them and their proselytes children of hell, closed to the kingdom of heaven; they were hypocritical, greedy, self-indulgent.

This is the label that many carelessly throw at others, acting themselves as accusers of the brethren! (I couldn’t help myself! 😉 ) These “grace-talking” people are not often characterized–in their written words at least–by gracious speech, as Ephesians 4:29 puts it.

When I read a blog, the only assessment of the author and the author’s character I have available (unless I rarely happen to know the author on a personal level) is the author’s words. I have read ungracious posts and comments by people in spiritual leadership, and I can’t help but wonder what their ministries are like. . . simply because of their own words.

I often read the comments of posts (which, again, I should probably do less frequently because people’s comments make me even more agitated at times!). People just respond, without thought (it seems!) or without kindness and just blow people away. Or they post simply based on how they feel or what they think without much reference to Scripture. One commenter was amazed at the words written by a certain blogger and posted his reaction. Another commenter responded back saying that if he knew the author he wouldn’t accuse him as he did. And the second commenter was absolutely right. Most of us don’t know the bloggers; all we know are the words the bloggers say.

I know that Christians do not agree on many things, some things more important than others. And I don’t think that we should necessarily forget our differences, hold hands, and sing. (Because what would we sing? We wouldn’t even be able to agree on that! 😉 ).

I love reading Al Mohler’s blog. I am sure that I don’t agree with him on everything, but he is so gracious in his written speech. It’s the type of speech that makes me want to consider his argument, because his reputation for gracious writing and love for God are consistently evident.

But of course, even when someone is attempting to speak graciously, with a view to discuss humbly, intelligently, and biblically about a given topic, there is often someone (or many) who love a good argument and split hairs in the comment section in order to make a point. They become what they say they hate: hypocritical attention-seekers. At least that is what comes across in their written words.

The written word is important. It communicates. It is the only means others may have of knowing who you are and what you most love.

I pray that my words will always communicate my great love for my Savior. My love for my husband and my children. My hope that the Gospel will spread. My desire to enjoy the good things God has given me for his glory.

Jesus warned the Pharisees in Matthew 12:36-37 about their words:

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

May we all–whether our hearts sinfully lean toward “legalism” or whether our hearts sinfully lean toward a haughty “freedom”–recognize God’ grace to us. May our speech be far from careless, knowing that Christ already took the penalty for our sinful speech. Yet may we ever portray the new creatures that we are in our careful, gracious speech, whether spoken or written.

Leave a comment »

Monday Meditations: Thankful for 175 Years!

{I was in the nursery again during my husband’s sermon, but I was able to catch some snippets (in between the screeching and car sounds) from the little tv that lets the nursery workers view the service.}

bannerOn December 22, 1838 our church, First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL was chartered with just a handful of members. Because it is the week of Thanksgiving, my husband gave a history of the 175 years that our local church has existed, in order for us to thank God for his goodness to us as a body of believers. One of our members, a sweet 87-year old lady, has been at our church for almost half of its existence!

Pastors came and pastors went. Babies were born, and older members died. Visitors came and joined. Others moved on. Numbers went up. Numbers went down. Men who promoted false teaching were removed. Faithful men and women served the Lord and each other. Other churches were planted. And through it all–through 175 years of church history–God faithfully preserved First Baptist Church.

We have much to be thankful for. We have many to look back upon who faithfully ran the race before us–in Rockford, IL! We, too, are just a blip in the time-line of our church. Yet the degree to which we point ourselves and others to Christ, the degree to which we too remain faithful to the Gospel, is the direction that we continue to set for future generations in our church.

May God help us to continue to be faithful to him and to the Gospel. May we continue to remain true to our mission:

The First Baptist Church of Rockford, Illinois, exists to glorify God by expounding the truths of His Word; by establishing mature followers of Christ who declare God’s excellencies corporately in worship and individually in life; by passionately spreading Christ’s saving gospel; and by perpetuating God’s work by reproducing itself in Rockford, Illinois, the United States, and the world.

This general mission will be accomplished through regular, vibrant, loving, prayer-filled, and Bible-centered worship; through the administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; by the development of spiritual maturity in believers through preaching, discipleship, service and fellowship; by the consistent practice of personal and corporate evangelism; by the establishment of other churches of like faith and practice both locally and on the foreign field; and by the earnest defense of the faith.

Mt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 2:41-47; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Pet. 3:18; Jude 3

To God be the glory!

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s 🙂 ) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

Leave a comment »