424:  Our Greatest Gift from Him

424: Our Greatest Gift from Him

As the Christmas season is winding down, it would be appropriate for us to look at the greatest gift we have ever received from the greatest Person we have ever known— our Lord, and to give Him praise for that wondrous gift.  And for me, I find that gift revealed to me in Colossians.

Let’s look at this gift together.


No Longer Alienated and Enemies of the Lord

The Scriptures say that I, and all who are called by His name, are no longer “alienated and enemies” of the Lord.  Look at this marvelous gift found in Colossians 1:21-22:

And you (your name), who once were (past tense) alienated (apallotrióō – to estrange, alienate entirely) and enemies (echthrós – hatred, hostility, enmity) in your mind by (what) wicked works, yet now (present tense) He (Christ’s actions) has reconciled (apokatallássō – the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed) in the body of His flesh (how) through death, (why) to present (paristánō – to cause to stand near or before) you (your name) holy (hágios – set apart, sanctified, consecrated, a saint), and blameless (ámōmos – unblameable, without spot or blemish) and above reproach (anégklētos –unreproveable, not merely unaccusable but unaccused, free from any legal charge) in His sight (presence, before His face).

But there is more.  He keeps us from stumbling and presents us faultless before His glory.  Amazing.   Read it yourself in Jude 1:24.

Now to Him (Christ) who is able to keep you (your name) from stumbling (áptaistos – falling), and to present you (your name) faultless (where) before the presence of His glory (how) with exceeding joy (agallíasis – extreme exultation, exuberant joy),

And how do we respond to this incredible gift?  Read the next verse.

To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

I pray you will begin the next year with the same praise and passion for your Lord that you ended the last one.  And you can do that by realizing what a great God we serve and what a great gift He has given us in His Son.  Will you join with me in exalting His Name?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on realizing our great blessings found in Colossians 1:21-22 and Jude 1:24-25.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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423:  The Breathtaking View of Christ

423: The Breathtaking View of Christ

One of the major failures of the church today is to downplay the place of Christ when we come together to worship.  Yes, you heard right.  We, hopefully unknowingly, often relegate Christ to the back pew or the second chair.  And who do we elevate in His place?  Usually the pastor or, often, the worship leader.

And when we come together as a church we have a tendency to preach on the “what’s” and “why’s” of the Scripture and seldom the “how’s”.  Think about it.  We know we are commanded to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1-2), but are never told exactly how to do that.  Did you ever wonder why?

We are commanded to “walk according to the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), yet are never instructed on how to do that.  We know what it means and why it’s important.  But for some reason, our pastors fail to take our hands and show us exactly how to accomplish this command.  Why?

Is it because practical Christianity is not in vogue today?  Or could it be we have become a church made up of those who can tell us what to do but have never experienced it themselves?  Are we more like cowboys driving cattle from the rear than a shepherd leading from the front?

What are we to do?


Seven Things the Church Failed to Teach Me

Recently I was reading a blog by Frank Viola that shared these seven things the church never taught him.  And I couldn’t agree more.  Consider the following:

  1.  How to practically live by the Christ who dwells inside me.
  2.  How to practically learn how to hear the Lord’s voice beyond “pray and read your Bible.”
  3.  That church-as-we-know-it is drastically different from church-as-God-would-have-it.
  4.  What the gospel of the kingdom is and how radically it can alter a human life.
  5.  How deep the tentacles of the world system go and how to break free from them.
  6.  That God’s presence is extremely subtle most of the time.
  7.  How to find Christ in the Scriptures, including the entire Old Testament.

So in 2019, I have committed to teach the church I pastor the “how’s” of the Christian faith and to answer these, and other, practical questions about living for Him.  Will you join with me as we explore the breathtaking view of our Lord together?

The following is a study on the Breathtaking View of Christ found in Colossians 1:15-19 and 2 Colossians 2:9-10.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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2019 Bible Reading Plans

2019 Bible Reading Plans

The following are a few 2019 Bible Reading Plans from various sources.  Make a commitment today to faithfully read the Scriptures more next year than you did this last year.

After all, the mantra “no pain, no gain” also applies to spiritual disciplines.

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Genesis Through Revelation Bible Reading Plan

Read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation with daily readings of three to four chapters.  From www.heartlight.org.

Download: PDF

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52 Week Bible Reading Plan

Read through the Bible in a year with daily readings from the Epistles, the Law, History, Psalms, Poetry (Job, Proverbs, etc.), Prophecy, and the Gospels.  From www.bible-reading.com.

Download:  PDF

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Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Read through the Bible in chronological order.  This is one of my favorites.  From www.esv.org.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF

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Historical Bible Reading Plan

The Old Testament readings are much like the order found in Israel’s Hebrew Bible and the New Testament readings are in the order in which the books were written.  From www.blueletterbible.org.

Download:  PDF

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Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan

This is the classic M’Cheyne Bible reading calendar that will let you read the New Testament and Psalms twice and the Old Testament once.  From www.edginet.org.

Download:  PDF

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5 Day Bible Reading Program

Read through the Bible in a year with readings five days a week.  From www.BibleClassMaterial.com.

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And a special thanks to Ligonier ministries for the reminder.

 

Twenty Strange Pastor Criticisms

Twenty Strange Pastor Criticisms

For a little Christmas cheer, I’ve listed below the latest actual pastor criticisms from church members.  And a special thanks to Thom Rainer for these.

  1. “You didn’t send me a thank you note for my thank you note.”  Thank you.
  2. “You are too happy!”  I’ll make a point of being a total grump around you.
  3. “I will leave the church if you don’t put tissue seat covers in the bathrooms!”  Please flush on the way out.
  4. “I would be happy to take your wife to the store to help her select some appropriate clothes.”  Please do, but don’t return.
  5. “I guess I have to die to get you to wear a suit and tie to church again.”  The pastor did so the next Sunday.  He’s waiting on the member to hold up his end of the deal.
  6. “Every sermon you preach is better than the next one.”  Thank you . . . no, wait.
  7. “Why do we have to follow something an apostle wrote 2,000 years ago?”  Yep, that Bible is overrated.
  8. “The VBS hot dogs are too cheap.”  What?  We got them at LifeWay!
  9. “You don’t tell enough jokes when you preach.”  Yes, I do. I mentioned your name in my last sermon.
  10. “You need to stop talking about making disciples.”  Yes, that criticism came from an elder.
  11. “When you changed the name from Sunday school to small groups, you took Jesus and the Bible out of the church!”  I agree.  Read Hezekiah 4:11.
  12. “You didn’t give good advice about the family vacuum.”  Now, that’s important.
  13. “I heard you are going to cancel Christmas.”  Yes, I consulted with the Grinch.
  14. “I don’t like the color of your beard hair.”  Thank you.  I plan to dye it pink.
  15. “Your hair color is too dark for someone in your profession.”  Don’t worry.  The more I hear from you, the grayer it gets.
  16. “Just because it’s in the Bible, you don’t have to talk about it.”  I try to be selective.
  17. “Your wife used the wrong spoon in the coleslaw at the church social.”  Thank you.  She has agreed to be in timeout from church for one year.
  18. “We need to throw out the guitar to the streets. The piano is the only instrument that belongs in the church.”  Yep, that’s what the Apostle Paul said.
  19. “You ended a sentence with a preposition in your sermon.”  What is this criticism good for?
  20. “Your pregnant wife is faking morning sickness.”  I would be happy for you to watch her throw up.

Enjoy.

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You can read more of Thom’s church wisdom at his website, www.thomrainer.com.

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422:  Christ + One = Enough

422: Christ + One = Enough

When we look at the turmoil in the world and the lukewarmness of the church, sometimes it feels natural to get depressed and throw up our hands and see the problem as too big and the solution as too small.  We long for others to step up and stand in the gap against the rising tide of sin in our land.  And we’ll gladly support those that do.  But they seem so few and the enemy seems so many.

What are we to do?


One Man is All God Needs

But there are some encouraging words for us in the Proverbs.  Consider the following:

Proverbs 28:2 – Because of the transgression (rebellion) of a land, (result) many are its princes (ruler, official, chieftain); But (what) by (through) a man (one, singular, individual) of understanding (biyn – to discern, to pay careful attention to, to consider diligently) and knowledge (yāḏa) right will be prolonged.

Did you catch that?  It only takes one man, one single man of understanding and knowledge for God to prolonger what is right in a land.  Just one man.  That’s why the Lord continually addresses the remnant in His letters to the church at Thyatira and Sardis.

Revelation 2:24 – “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira (the remnant), as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.”

Revelation 3:4 – “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments (the remnant); and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.”

Do you want to be part of the remnant?  Do you want to be the man, the single man the Lord can use to change the face of our culture?  Do you want to know Him more than you do today?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on the Lord’s letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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