Somebody Loves You – May 3, 2020

SUNDAY May 3, 2020

A World Renowned Faith

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Romans 1:8

Paul thanked God for the Christians in Rome. He praised them for the universality of their faith, as it had spread throughout the entire Roman Empire. They had a powerful testimony, and a true witness of Christ was given to the known world. Can you believe that?

Imagine the excitement of these believers and how truly contagious their faith must have been. In a time of severe persecution, Roman believers remained very bold and highly motivated in their efforts to share the Gospel with others. I believe there was such urgency in their hearts to see people saved. The Lord had touched their hearts—big time.

As a believer in Christ, are you motivated and excited to share the Gospel with others? Each of us needs to follow the good example of these faithful Roman Christians. Understand, you are dealing with eternity and people’s souls. Individual lives hang in the balance; people are dying every day and entering into eternity. They will receive eternal life or suffer eternal death (John 3:16).

When the Lord opens the door for you to share the Gospel, ask Him to give you boldness to share the good news with them. May God place such urgency for the lost in your heart. Ceaselessly pray for those in your communities and cities. Ask God to show you ways to reach them. Get excited because the Lord desires to use your life.

As soon as a man has found Christ, he begins to find others.
~C. H. Spurgeon~

The Weekly Focal Point – April 30, 2020

Fear of God

Here is one of the most simple, yet most serious warnings found in the Bible: “God is opposed to the proud” (Jms.4:6; 1Pt.5:5). The last thing we as God’s children should want is to dabble in the archetypal sin that was the initial cause of all the rebellion and corruption in the universe (Ezk.28:14-17). We are shown in God’s word that pride’s antithesis and remedy is the fear of the Lord (Rom.11:20; Jer.44:10; Pr.8:13).

For those who have repented of their sins and put their trust in Christ this fear is not the kind that dreads the punishment of hell (1Jn.4:16-18). Instead, the fear of God that is considered a virtue in Scripture is a kind of humble awareness that our merciful Savior is also our omnipotent and omniscient Father—who will one day call us to give an account for our stewardship (1Pt.1:16-17; 2Cor.5:10-11; Rom.14:12).

Because the idea of “fear” doesn’t harmonize well with the popular misconceptions of a domesticated god, many dismiss this essential virtue and important safeguard, thinking that it couldn’t possibly coexist with their quest to love God. But the truth is that “the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him” (Ps.25:14), and any true knowledge of God is impossible to attain without it (Pr.9:10). So let us fight the subtle temptations to arrogance, pride, and self-promotion by humbly drawing near to God as we learn the fear of the Lord.

— Pastor Mike

Unchanging Truth – Today with Allen Jackson – May 3, 2020

Unchanging Truth

Gen. 1:1 (NIV®)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I believe there is a rationale for the way truth is presented in Scripture. I believe it is very purposeful that Genesis chapter 1, verse 1 tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The Bible is not a complete history of our universe, but if you will accept the truth of Genesis 1:1 as it is revealed to us, the rest of the Bible will open up and make sense. If you reject that truth, the rest of the Bible will be shrouded in mystery and will remain unknowable.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, open my eyes to Your Word. Give me understanding of its unchanging nature. Help me appreciate its majesty and trust in its unchanging truth even as the world scoffs at its claims. I am resting in Your truth, amen.

Ministry Is Never Just a Job

Advice for Young Pastors

Article by

Pastor, Nashville, Tennessee

Some years ago, a young pastor kindly asked me for advice as he was launching into ministry. I proposed to him three commitments that will not fail to give any pastor strength for the journey.

Man with a Calling

First, every man needs a calling — not just a job.

A church does not hire a pastor. A church calls a pastor. The Christian ministry is more than a job offered by an organization; it is a calling given by God: “He set me apart before I was born” (Galatians 1:15). A church then recognizes the divine call upon a man and invites him in as their pastor. And here’s my point: The calling upon that pastor is not primarily to serve the people of that church. At a deeper level, his calling is to serve the Lord among the people of that church. “What we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Sadly, some pastors offend people foolishly. But every faithful pastor, who is really serving his Lord, will offend some people inevitably. The wise apostle Paul said, “I try to please everyone in everything I do” (1 Corinthians 10:33). He was, in a good and limited sense, a people-pleaser. But he was the Lord’s people-pleaser. He boldly said, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). When Paul had to choose between pleasing himself and pleasing others, he chose to please others. But when he had to choose between pleasing others and pleasing the Lord, he chose to please the Lord, confident that his brave choice would best serve everyone.

A real pastor will serve his people with a heart like the Lord’s own heart, “gentle and lowly” (Matthew 11:29). But he will not prostitute himself, just to keep a job. He will pray and preach for the glory of his Lord to be displayed with reviving power. And God will honor his faithful pursuit of his sacred calling.

Man of the Book

Second, every man needs the Bible — not just handy tips.

In the age of the Internet, we are swamped with opinions and pronouncements and the latest whatever. But a Christian minister must set himself to be, as John Wesley put it, “a man of one Book.”

I hope you will live all your life as a reader. I hope you will read widely – novels, biographies, poetry, and more. But far more, I hope you will master the Bible. You will find more of Christ there. As Jim Elliot said, the Bible is “Christ in print.” So, I am thinking now of more than your preaching from the Bible. I am proposing to you a lifetime of daily immersion in the Bible.

For starters, read the Bible through, from cover to cover, annually, for twenty years straight. You will change. You will see the flow of the whole biblical drama, and you will start seeing the whole of reality with new eyes.

I also suggest you choose one Old Testament book and one New Testament book and drill down deep. Make those two books your special projects for the rest of your life. For me, it’s Isaiah and Romans. They are addictive. I have read them many times in English, I have read them in the original text, I have gathered commentaries and articles about them. And I am so glad I jumped in at the deep end. Both Isaiah and Romans function in the Bible like theological intersections, where the traffic of biblical thought flows in and flows out. These two books broaden my understanding of everything in the Bible. But you choose your two, and get after it!

Finally, if you can, read through the entire Hebrew Bible and the entire Greek New Testament. If you do not read Hebrew and Greek, don’t worry about it. The English Standard Version is, for all practical purposes, the original text put plainly before you. But if you have studied the languages, do not lose them!

What percentage of Christians in the last 2000 years have been given the privilege of reading biblical Hebrew and biblical Greek? After Jerome died in A.D. 420, for the next thousand years you could almost count on one hand the number of Christians in the West who knew Hebrew and Greek. But today, you are among the privileged few? You should get down on your knees and thank God! And then read, read, read your Hebrew Bible and your Greek New Testament.

I cannot imagine a pastor coming to the end of his days with regrets that he knew the Bible too well. And I have never heard a church member complain that their pastor knows the Bible too well. But I did hear a minister in the Church of Scotland tell me that a group of Muslim clerics, visiting the ministers there years ago, came away saying, “Your holy men do not know their holy book.” That does not have to be you, dear brother. Make your plan. Work your plan. And by God’s grace, you will reap endless rewards.

Man among Men

Third, every man needs brothers — not just acquaintances.

When Jonathan saw David’s faith in action — it must have been quite a sight as David lugged Goliath’s severed head back to the Israelite battle line — “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1). Jonathan saw in David the bold faith and courageous manliness that thrilled his own heart, and he thought, “I want that godly giant-killer in my life!” They became close brothers, lifelong friends, bold allies.

Every pastor needs inspiring men of faith who long to see what only God can do, men of sincerity who really love one another, men whose souls are knit together with a gutsy commitment. It costs. But the Lord is in it: “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever” (1 Samuel 20:42). These men were “all in,” because Christ himself is “all in.”

Have you too pledged yourself to other men of God? Have you formed so sacred a bond that self-centered calculations are driven out by the sheer joy of brotherhood? If you don’t take this bold step, your ministry will not bear the fruit it could. It won’t deserve to. You might even find you cannot go the distance.

The last time David and Jonathan met together, the Bible says, “Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:15). David’s back was against the wall, so Jonathan rushed to help him. And here is the noble promise Jonathan made to David: “You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you” (1 Samuel 23:17). Jonathan gave up his claim to the throne, handed it over to David, and pledged his support at David’s side.

I wonder how often in later years, after Jonathan had died and David was ruling as king, David stopped and thought, Jonathan, my dear brother, how I wish you were here! But you are here, in my memory, strengthening my hand in God yet again! I wonder how many of the psalms echo the encouraging voice of Jonathan from years before: “David, the Lord is your shepherd. You shall not want.” Perhaps that comforting word came down to us in Psalm 23. Or, “David, the Lord has searched you and known you. You are not overlooked!” Perhaps that invigorating word came down to us in Psalm 139. You too can be a strengthening presence, even after you leave this world. And your words can still resonate, even after your voice falls silent. Here is how. By faith in Christ, make a selfless commitment to a brother!

At this point someone might think I am talking about accountability. But “accountability” can become coercive and bossy. What I am proposing is grand. Gather together Christian men you deeply respect, men who have the courage to become brothers. And you pledge your life to them for the glory of Christ, and let them pledge their lives to you for the glory of Christ. Become “blood brothers” as in the days of old, and refuse to allow anything ever to drive you apart.

What a power for good in this generation and the next! To quote my dear dad, who showed me true friendship, “Live a little dangerously, and give your heart away!”

The Greatest Gift

NIGHT LIKE FOR COUPLES

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap… yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:24

Although the battle for healthy self‐confidence is most often fought by women, many men also struggle with the issue. Unlike a woman, a man derives his sense of worth primarily from the reputation he earns in his job or profession. He draws emotional satisfaction from achieving in business, becoming financially independent, developing a highly respected skill, being the “boss,” or being loved and appreciated by his patients, clients, or business associates. When his career fails, however, look out.

His confidence often falters, and he becomes vulnerable. Depression, anger, and withdrawal are just some of his potential responses. Wives, here’s something to remember: More than anything, your man needs your respect. Compliment him on the qualities you most admire in him. Avoid comments that debase or embarrass him—especially in the eyes of others. As much as is reasonably possible, understand and support his career, but also create such an affirming atmosphere at home that he will be happy to leave career concerns at the office.

The better you understand your differences, the more you’ll appreciate the gift that is your mate.

Just between us…

  • (wife) What achievement are you proudest of?
  • (wife)
  • Are you satisfied with the current state of your career?
  • (wife) How can I help you with your career?
  • (wife) How can I show more respect for you and what you do?

(wife) Father, thank You for my husband—for the energy, skills, and ambitions you’ve placed in him. Help him to know that You love him no matter how he performs, and please help me show him the honor and respect I feel. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Gift of Sex

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

You father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains. Genesis 49:26

The Lord gave us the holy gift of physical intimacy as a means for expressing love between husband and wife. We are told that when a man and wife unite in marriage, they become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Solomon’s Song of Songs clearly celebrates sexual pleasure between married lovers. In today’s immoral culture, however, that purpose has been twisted. Sexual “freedom” is preached with evangelistic fervor. A motel marquee suggests to its patrons, “Have your next affair with us.” Premarital virginity and marital fidelity are portrayed as outdated concepts. In this warped atmosphere, how can parents instill healthy attitudes toward the gift of sexual intimacy?

You can start by taking a leadership role. Gradually introduce your kids to God’s plan for sex, beginning at age three or four and ending shortly before puberty. Let your kids’ questions be a guide to how much you should reveal. And if they don’t ask, don’t wait for someone else to fill in the blanks. When our son, Ryan, showed no interest in the subject of sex, I (JCD) finally took him on a fishing trip and suggested we discuss “how babies are made and all that.” Ryan said, “What if I don’t wanna know?” I dragged him kicking and screaming into the world of adult sexuality.

We are told to “Train a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). That means we are to teach our children about all of God’s gifts and truths—including His wonderful gift of sex—when the timing is right.

Before you say good night…

How much do your children know about sex?

What are you doing to counteract immoral sexual messages?

Heavenly Father, we ask You to help us raise our children with the love You inspire, the reverence You intend, and the attitudes You desire for each of us toward the unique blessing of sexual intimacy. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Praying the Names of God – May 1

From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Twenty, Day Five

The Name
David was Israel’s greatest king, a man whom the Bible describes as having the very heart of God. So it may not be surprising that the New Testament both begins and ends with references to Jesus as the Son or Offspring of David. He is the One who fulfilled the promise of a coming King so beloved by God that his throne will endure forever. Like David, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (the city of David). And like David, who established his kingdom by overcoming Israel’s enemies and uniting God’s people, Jesus would establish his kingdom by defeating the principalities and powers, making a way for us to become part of it as we confess our faith in him. When you pray to Jesus as the Son of David, you are praying to the long-awaited King, human by virtue of his descent from David and divine by virtue of being God’s only Son.

Key Scripture
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:32-33

***

Friday
Promises Associated with His Name

What comes to mind when you think of a promise — a rainbow, a ring, a stump? A stump! That is precisely the image Isaiah used when he spoke of the promised Messiah. He was saying that God would fulfill his promise to David despite impossible odds. The New Testament reveals that God kept that promise when, hundreds of years after David’s dynasty had fallen, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But how does this ancient prophecy apply now, in a world in which the strong still dominate the weak and the poor often have no voice? This word from Isaiah, it would seem, still awaits its completion. Even though the King has been revealed, his power is still veiled and his kingdom often grows in ways that are hidden and obscure. As believers and members of the kingdom we are called to wait in faith, seeking to advance the kingdom until Christ comes again, this time fully revealing his power, his justice, and his majesty. On that day perfect judgment will bring forth perfect peace and all God’s people will worship the King, who is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.

Promises in Scripture

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse [David’s father];
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him —
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord —
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness
he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
Isaiah 11:1-4

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Continued Prayer and Praise

Worship the King. (Matthew 1:1-2:12)

Understand that Jesus is great David’s greater son. (Acts 13:21-39)

Consider the key of David. (Revelation 3:7-10)

Remember the Root of David. (Revelation 5:1-5; 22:16)

For more from Ann Spangler, please visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. And be sure to check out Ann’s newest books on AnnSpangler.com.


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