Thursday, November 27, 2008

Three Marks Of A Thankful Heart

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus."
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

1.) Rejoice always: Joy is an outward result of firm hope of the Christian.

"Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:2)

2.) Pray without ceasing: This is a continual personal fellowship with a Holy God.

3.) Give thanks in all circumstances: A follower of Christ should in all circumstances, good or bad, give thanks.

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)

"How far less are the greatest afflictions that we meet with in this world...than we have deserved."
-Jonathan Edwards

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Catching Up

To those who follow this blog, I just wanted to apologize for not posting as often as I would like. Time has been crazy this past couple of months, but I am beginning to see relief in my schedule for the coming days. Be on the lookout for some upcoming posts that will be thought provoking and challenging. Please be in prayer for me and my church. Thanks to you who have contacted me concerned about me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Reflections

I love Sundays! Today was a great service at our church. We had a great crowd, wonderful Christ-centered music, and very challenging message from the Word of God. This morning we covered that in the story of Jonah, that God was determined that the Ninevites would be evangelized to. Also we saw that God takes moments in which we are disobedient, and uses them to mold and equip for his sovereign plan for our lives. The primary challenge was that if we want to see people come to know the Lord through the power and working of the Holy Spirit, we must be willing to die to our selves. Out of death, comes life.

Tonight, we continued our study on worship. The topic tonight was 'A Lifestyle of Worship.' We discovered through Scriptures, that God is not only interested in our words and attitudes, but also our actions. Like the morning service, the theme of total surrender (death to self) to God is way by which we are able to worship God the way He desires. Worship is not about us, it is always about Him. The question that we asked was 'What does your reflection look like?' Basically this refers to are we reflecting God's glory and the cross of Calvary, or are we reflecting with our lives our own personal desires, comforts, and opinions. May we die to self, so that God is glorified, and others are drawn to the saving grace of God.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spiritual Growth Is Tough

This has been a week full of challenges, to say the least. I now realize just how miserable being in ministry can be if you are not really called to it. I say this as one who is finding out that what my wife's grandfather told me at my ordination service is so true, 'If you can do anything else, son, you had better go and do it. You had better make sure that this is what God has called you to do.' In response I must say that this is exactly what I was born to do.

This life that God has called not only me to but many others, is a tough road. However, we must remember that our Lord and Savior suffered much more than we could ever imagine. In the moments that I was experiencing criticism and condemnation, the only thing that I could think of is 'Scott, these people need the grace and mercy that Jesus has granted you.' Six months ago, I believe that I would have responded in a much different way. I would have been enraged that someone would speak to me in this manner and would have the gumption to cast stones at me, a righteous man. I would have returned evil for evil, stone for stone.

It is amazing how God works in the heart of His children. I mean, I was hurt and offended, but this time it was not for myself, but for the gospel. When it was all said and done, I walked away thinking to myself, how could people miss all that Scriptures say about self-control and loving kindness? How could people be so blind to the gospel's message? How could they mock at the death of Christ in such a way that it doesn't even faze them?

I now understand what Jesus must have felt when interacting with the Pharisees. I never would have imagined that people in the church could be so cruel and so condemning. However, as I read through the gospels, those are the people that Jesus faced everyday and who ultimately killed Him.

In all of this, I am humbled. I am broken. I am more sure now than ever, that God is sovereign and working out His plan in my life. I must remain faithful to my call, to my Father, and to my church. I must be steadfast and self-controlled, while responding with loving kindness, mercy and grace, and continue to preach Christ and Him crucified, even if it cost me my life. Isn't that what Jesus did? Isn't that what all the apostles did? Why should I be any different?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In God We Do Not Trust: Mark Driscoll's Take On The Election

Over at Mark Driscoll's blog at the Resurgence, he has some very thoughtful insights on how Christians view and should view the election. This post was very convicting to me, and has really put some direction in my life. I hope you will check it out, and leave your thoughts here. May we put our total trust in God and in the atonement of Jesus Christ, and stop being as the Israelites looking for an earthly king to save us. He is the King, and is ruler of all and will one day take His rightful place on His throne.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday at church, we had a wonderful service. Our attendance was up 50% from last week, and everything was God-centered worship. John did an excellent job choosing songs that led up to the proclamation part of the service. I have to admit, during the song 'Here I Am To Worship', I broke down. This was not a result of an emotional experience, but one of realization of that which I was singing. In the song there is this phrase that is repeated: 'I'll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon that cross.' As I sang this I tried to imagine standing there as Jesus drank the cup that bore the wrath of God. As I did this, I saw myself, my sinful nature. This led to a desperation that I can't explain. It was like I finally realized, Scott you are unworthy, you are sinful, it is because of you that he is hanging there. In that moment I had no other option than to be broken and confess my need of God's grace and mercy. It was a very humbling moment, one that is needed daily.

We continued our study on Jonah. Yesterday we covered, Jonah 1:7-16. We focused on two things: God's sovereignty (He is in control of the good times as well as the bad times of life) and on Jonah as a symbol of the scapegoat used on the Day of Atonement. With this contrast, I was able to then show the congregation that even though Jonah was able to save the men from death of drowning, these sailors were still in need of something or someone to offer them hope for the salvation of their souls. This was a great lead into presenting the gospel of Jesus as that hope. The sailors made the statement that God does as he pleases, and I ended with the statement, 'It pleased God to provide a way for us to be atoned for, through the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus was the final sacrificial lamb and scapegoat needed.'

It was an amazing service. My prayer is that God was glorified and not the church nor the pastor. I pray that I directed people's attention to their own sinfulness and upon the hope and beauty of the Cross of Calvary.