27 November 2016

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

The Promised One

The Lord God said, "And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:15)

Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3:22-26)

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (Genesis 49:10)

A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel. (Numbers 24:17b)

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2)

26 November 2016

Equipping Eve: More Sad Church Signs

It's unlikely that anyone actually gleans their theology from a church sign. Church signs are notoriously cheesy and oftentimes the churches that display them are theologically unsound. Erin drives by lots of church signs everyday, and finally realized that they can make a great teaching tool—of what not to believe, think, or teach. Open your Bible as we seek to debunk some of these sad church signs.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Sad Church Signs
Equipping Eve: Stickers in My Bible
Equipping Eve: A Victim of Spontaneous Baptism

25 November 2016

This 'n' That

Well, I hope all of my American readers had a pleasant Thanksgiving yesterday! Ours was relaxing and pie-filled, just as it should be, and it was wonderful to spend the time away from the busyness and stress of work to think on something other than clients and deadlines.

We have a tradition in my house to complete a jigsaw puzzle on Thanksgiving Day. So, yesterday morning began with pie and coffee for breakfast (because, well, what else are you supposed to do when there's pie in the house?) and we quickly settled in at the kitchen table for our annual puzzle attempt. As is also my habit on this day, I turned on the television to view a bit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I'm not sure why I still tune in each year, other than the mere fact that it was always tradition to watch it when I was young.

Snoopy is one of the few tame elements of the parade.
photo: AndrewDallos Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade via photopin (license) 
Each year that I watch the parade, I cringe a little bit more than the year before, and 2016's extravaganza did not disappoint. Glancing up now and then to glimpse the television from the table, I found myself wondering why this debacle continues. No longer do the television cameras focus on the marching bands and the balloons. No, instead we get to see multiple alleged "music sensations" lip-syncing their most popular song. And, while I hate to sound like that crotchety old woman who thinks all music is awful and evil, I have to ask: why do we consider these songs to be music? Every song sounded the same and had the same sensual beat and rote, mindless lyrics. In fact, sadly, it wasn't much different from the contemporary so-called "Christian" music we hear today. The lesson? Don't tune in to the Macy's Parade unless you're looking to watch a really bad concert.

As always, the parade ended with the entrance of Santa Claus, a theme which saddens me as it should every Christian. The way in which the world exalts this mythical figure in the eyes of children is indeed shameful. Even more perverse were the shenanigans that accompanied the Macy's Santa Claus. Dancing around the North Pole float were women dressed as candy canes, and let's just say that they were not wearing modest costumes. Here, then, is an entire event originally designed for children, that has been sensualized in order that those children might become desensitized to such lasciviousness. It is no surprise to those of us who know Christ, of course, but it nevertheless should grieve us.

At some point during the morning, I said, "Watching this parade makes me thankful that God has saved me out of the world." Further, it makes me long for that eternal home that He has promised He is preparing for us. Finally, it makes me all the more eager to proclaim His gospel so that others may also be plucked from the clutches of the world and placed firmly in the palm of His hand.

With Thanksgiving now behind us, we march forward all too quickly toward Christmas. But before you do that, why not take a few moments to relax while you enjoy some pie and your week in review (kind of):

24 November 2016

Eternally Thankful

Family and friends will gather today to reflect on their thankfulness for the gifts they have been given. Yet, the great majority of these individuals will ultimately "give thanks" to an unknown, unacknowledged being. They do not know the true One from whom all good things flow.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
And while they ought to be thankful for His mercy, for it has kept them from thus far being destroyed, in truth, they hate this God because they do not know Him.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:21)
By contrast, Christians ought to be mindful this day—and every day—to thank their Lord for far more than a warm home, a food-filled table, and the laughter of friends. God has indeed promised to provide for His children's daily needs (Matthew 6:25-34), and it is right and good to thank Him for this; however, in a world that is only thankful for the tangible things of life, the Christian has hope that peers far beyond those fleeting, failing mementos and memories
The Christian is thankful for his salvation, an eternal gift that he could never obtain or attain on his own.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)
The Christian is thankful for his undeserved, eternal inheritance, which is a promised treasure to be enjoyed for eternity.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
Above these great, immeasurable gifts is God the Father; God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who purchased His own in order that they might enjoy that salvation and eternal inheritance; and God the Holy Spirit, who is granted to believers at the moment of their salvation so that they might grow, learn, and walk in holiness.

Yes, above all, the Christian is thankful not simply for what God has given him, but for who God is.

18 November 2016

This 'n' That

They say that patience is a virtue. The expression is rumored to have first been penned by poet William Langland in the 1300s, in his poem "Piers Plowman." Chaucer apparently made a similar statement in his The Canterbury Tales. I should remember since I read that once, but alas, apparently 11th grade English failed me. Or rather, perhaps I should have failed 11th grade English! I digress...

Regardless of which literary great first expressed this sentiment, in truth, it was God who first elevated patience as a noble and necessary characteristic of His children.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24)
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
We can expect that God would call on His children to exhibit this virtue, for He is perfectly patient; therefore, His children ought to reflect the character of their Father, even if, in their fallen state, they must do so imperfectly.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
As fallen men and women, it is not always easy to be patient with others. It only takes one quick visit to the grocery store to understand this! Yet God, in His goodness, is sanctifying us in order that we might grow to look more and more like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

While patience with others may be a struggle, there is an event that requires even more patience from believers.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (James 5:7-8)
His coming is near! Yet, as we toil and plod through this life, it often seems as though His return is far away...too far away.

Brothers and sisters, let us pray that we are not discouraged by this fleeting age, for God is sovereign and Christ is King. Best of all, He is coming again, and when He does, He will take those who are His to be with Him forever.
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)
May we, with the Apostle John, exclaim, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

I would love nothing more than for Christ to return before you have a chance to read this post, but in case He has not, I still hope you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

16 November 2016

Consequences of the Cross: Glorification

When Christ said upon the cross, “It is finished,” He declared His redemptive work to be complete. His perfect sacrifice had pleased and appeased the Father and ransomed His people.

All those who would ever be in Christ now stand legally justified before the Father, cloaked in the righteousness of the Son.

Christ’s sheep now not only follow Him, they are sanctified and set apart, growing to look more like their Shepherd each day, even in the midst of a hostile world.

That would be enough undeserved blessing, but at the cross Christ accomplished even more.
For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:53)
The consequences of the cross did not end with Christ’s final breath. His subsequent resurrection assured a future resurrection and eternal life in glory for all believers.

Glorification is a final, future work wherein God will transform our broken, physical bodies into eternal bodies fit to enjoy eternity (1 Corinthians 14:12-19; 15:42-44; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

This future work will be the ultimate culmination of our ongoing sanctification and the final removal of our sin (Romans 8:18).

The promise of glorification is why we look for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is our blessed hope.
[L]ooking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus…(Titus 2:13)
In this moment, we will be “set free from slavery to corruption” (Romans 8:21), will instantly be conformed to the image of our Savior, and, best of all, will see our Lord face to face.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…(1 Corinthians 13:12)
We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2b)
Christian, is there any greater promise? May we seek to serve Christ well while we await His return.

See Also:
Consequences of the Cross
Consequences of the Cross: Redemption
Consequences of the Cross: Propitiation
Consequences of the Cross: Justification
Consequences of the Cross: Reconciliation
Consequences of the Cross: Sanctification

13 November 2016

Equipping Eve: Sad Church Signs

It's unlikely that anyone actually gleans their theology from a church sign. Church signs are notoriously cheesy and oftentimes the churches that display them are theologically unsound. Erin drives by lots of church signs everyday, and finally realized that they can make a great teaching tool—of what not to believe, think, or teach. Open your Bible as we seek to debunk some of these sad church signs.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources used in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Selfie Righteousness
Equipping Eve: On Transgenderism and Twisting Scripture
Equipping Eve: The Cross of Christ

Sunday Morning Praise

And Can It Be

11 November 2016

This 'n' That

Well, November 2016 may just go down in US history as the month of long shots. First the Cubs, then Trump. Some might say both were miracles, but if we are realistic, neither the Chicago nor the Trump victory saw God altering His divinely designed laws of nature. Instead, both incidents were ordained long ago. Both were stunning victories, though, and both certainly left many people sleepy (maybe we should start closing the polls earlier). In addition, both victories meant there were a host of disappointed individuals who had been rooting for the other team or candidate. Both victories led to anger and, oddly enough, tears.

It is probably the first time in a long time that I've been on the celebrating side of such events, so for that I am personally thankful. I am more thankful, however, that in the midst of political chaos, God is still on His throne. "There is," after all, "no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God" (Romans 13:1). Kind of makes you breathe a little easier, doesn't it?

As Christians, we know that God is sovereign over all things. While that doesn't mean that we ignore current events or remain unprepared for potential happenings, neither do we fret or scamper about like Chicken Little, crying that the sky is falling. We should not be found inciting unnecessary fear in others, or going about functionally denying the sovereignty of God (even if we affirm it with our lips) by our actions. Sadly, there are Christian ministries guilty of such behavior, taking informing or warning to the extreme and instead sending followers into a Y2K mentality (stock up on freeze-dried food, NOW!). Friend, it is good to be informed. It is good to be aware. It is not good to be afraid. Don't allow the ramblings of someone with a self-created platform to send you spiraling into despair. Remember the One who is your Light in this dark world.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
Well, now that all this November wackiness is over, perhaps we can finally enjoy Autumn. And there is no better complement to falling leaves and crisp air than a hot cup of tea and your week in review (kind of):

09 November 2016

Consequences of the Cross: Sanctification

At salvation, the person who has been granted repentance and faith in Christ finds that the desires of his mind and heart have been transformed to desire the pursuit of righteousness to which God calls us (Matthew 6:33).

We will not be perfect this side of Heaven, however, and we find ourselves undergoing a constant process of sanctification.

Philippians 2:12-13 presents the paradox of sanctification. While it is a work of God, sanctification is worked out by men through the means provided to them by the Father:
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
How, then, is sanctification a consequence of the cross?

Those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, who stand legally justified before the Father, are new creatures.
The old things passed away, behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Paul’s discussion of the new man in this verse is closely tied to the reconciliation of men to God that was wrought by Jesus on the cross.

Think for a moment of Christ upon the cross. He who was sinless bled and died, bearing the wrath of God for the sins of all who would believe (Romans 5:6-11). What He endured, you deserve, and yet His death satisfied the wrath of God so that by believing in Him you may inherit eternal life (John 3:36).

Why, then, would you desire to actively and willingly engage sin? Why would you delight in that for which Christ died (Ephesians 5:3-12)?

Salvation was fully accomplished on the cross. Sanctification is the fruit of that salvation worked out practically in the believer’s life. Surely the man who has been saved by God should desire to be sanctified by God.

See Also:
Consequences of the Cross
Consequences of the Cross: Redemption
Consequences of the Cross: Propitiation
Consequences of the Cross: Justification
Consequences of the Cross: Reconciliation

04 November 2016

This 'n' That

Well, if you read last week's post, then you can probably guess how this Cubs fan/blogger is feeling today. In case you've been under a rock, the Cubs won the World Series. At the risk of irritating my non-baseball appreciating readers, let me just say one final time this season, GO CUBS GO! It's history 108 years in the making and wow, what a way to write that chapter!
The 2016 World Series will go down in history for more reasons than one. In the end, regardless of which team one was cheering for, anybody who loves baseball had to admit that this series was just plain good baseball. Both teams played exceptionally well. The Cubs didn't win without a fight, and the Indians went down fighting. Kudos, gentlemen.

With the World Series behind us, what do Americans have to look forward to now? Sigh. November 8, and unlike the World Series where one team eventually wins, it seems like everybody might wind up losing with this one.

This is why the doctrine of God's sovereignty is so inestimably sweet.
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said,
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
“It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding. (Daniel 2:19-21)
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. (Romans 13:1)
Do not fret, Christian, no matter the outcome, for your Lord not only sees all, He knows all, because He has ordained it all.

With that, it seems like a perfect time to segue into the most important matter of the moment, namely, your week in review (kind of):

02 November 2016

Consequences of the Cross: Reconciliation

Many may claim indifference toward or tolerance of God, but the truth is that all men are born His enemies (Psalm 51:5; Romans 8:7-8; Ephesians 2:3). The enmity between God and man exists because man is sinful (Romans 3:23) and God is holy and demands holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16).

There must be peace between God and man in order for man to be saved. Man, separated from God by sin, must be reconciled to the sovereign Father.

How can man, who has incurred an overwhelming debt of sin, be reconciled to a just and holy God?
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… (2 Corinthians 5:18)
This work of reconciliation is all of God. It is a divine work and a divine gift given to those who belong to Christ.

Scripture states that reconciliation is accomplished by Christ’s work on the cross.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:6, 10)
…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)
In eternity past, God determined a way for men to be reconciled unto Him. He sent His Son, who offered His sinless blood as a substitutionary, atoning sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19) and brought about the forgiveness of sins for all who would believe in Him (Matthew 26:28).

At the death of Christ, the veil of the temple was torn in two; the barrier between God and man had been removed (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45).

God forgives sin. Man, though wicked, can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ alone.

Won’t you repent and believe upon Him?

See Also:
Consequences of the Cross
Consequences of the Cross: Redemption
Consequences of the Cross: Propitiation
Consequences of the Cross: Justification