Monthly Archives: April 2012

Encouraging the Servant-Hearted

May you take time this week to offer a word of God-centered encouragement and gratitude to the servants in your life who regularly seek to refresh the hearts of God’s people!! Here’s an example from the Apostle Paul:

Philemon 1:4-7 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

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Word of Life

Deuteronomy 8:1-3

“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

John 17:17

“Sanctify them by truth, your word is truth.”

The Word Revives God’s People & Restores Lost Sinners

“The Word brings life. Every revival recorded in Scripture followed the recovery of the public reading of God’s Word. For example, Moses read the Book of the Covenant with the people in Exodus 24:7. Joshua read the entire law at the renewal of the covenant following the fiasco at Ai in Joshua 8. The great scene in Nehemiah 8 featured reading and expounding the Scripture all day long (Nehemiah 9; 13). Repentance was Jeremiah’s hope when he urged Baruch to read the Word before the people (Jeremiah 36). And how many times in the Gospels does the Lord begin some great statement with, ‘Have you not read…’? …The Father reveals himself in and through his Word. The Word points to Jesus. The Spirit moved men to write it. Given the Trinitarian effort, what good reason could we have for neglecting it?”[1]

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[1] Thabiti Anyabwile, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 142-43.

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The God of Glory

Jude 24-25

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

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Generosity: The Poverty of A Rich King

The Macedonian church was radically generous in response to the gospel gaining traction in their lives. They understood that they were redeemed in order to serve the rich King who became poor for their sake, so that they might become rich; and thereby bless others through their abundance of wealth and joy in the midst of extreme poverty. God provided for them so that they could provide for the needs of others (cf. Gen. 12:1-3), despite the fact that they were among the poorest churches in the first century (AD). May our hearts reflect their radical generosity…

2 Corinthians 8:1-15 

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

(Image Source)

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

 

The Radical Generosity of John Wesley

“[Wesley] had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found he had little left. It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he had spent his money. He asked himself: ‘Will thy Master say, “Well done, good and faithful steward?” Thou has adorned thy walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?’

“Perhaps as a result of this incident, in 1731 Wesley began to limit his expenses so he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was £30, and his living expenses £28, so he had £2 to give away. The next year, his income doubled, but he still lived on £28 and gave £32 away. In the third year, his income jumped to £90; again he lived on £28, and gave £62 to the poor.

(Image Source)

“Wesley preached that Christian should not merely tithe, but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of. He believed that with increasing income, the Christian’s standard of giving should increase, not his standard of living. He began this practice at Oxford and continued it throughout his life. Even when his income rose into the thousands of pounds, he lived simply and quickly gave up treasures on earth, so the money went out in charity as quickly as it came in. He reports that he never had as much as £100 at one time.

“When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers. Most of the £30,000 he had earned in his life-time he had given away. As Wesley said, ‘I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but, in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.'”

Randy Alcorn points out that Wesley’s income in today’s dollars would be $160,000 annually. Yet, he lived on only $20,000 of it.[1]

While we may not be able to live as radically generous as John Wesley (just as few of us can live out the uncommon faith of George Muller) ,we can certainly strive to imitate the faith and generosity of our King and those who have been given the grace to reflect Him. After all, it is the Spirit of God who empowers such things! May we cultivate the grace of generosity and find God’s provision sufficient to sustain our radical self-denial and increasing ministry to the least of these–both physically and spiritually. May we put God to the test and find His grace sufficient for producing in us an abundance of joy and poverty that results in nothing short of a wealth of generosity (Mal. 3:10; 2Cor. 8).

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[1] Charles Edward White, “Four Lessons on Money from One of the World’s Richest Preachers,” Christian History 19 (Summer 1988): 24; cited in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity (Sisters: Multnomah, 2003), 298-99. Cf. Thabiti Anyabwile, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons (IX Marks) (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2012), 88-89.

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God’s Message

Thabiti Anyabwile (T4G 2012)

“God has only one sermon: the redemption of sinners

through the atoning work of Christ Jesus his Son.”

31 Days of Prayer

Click here for a downloadable prayer calendar for

the nations with the worst persecution of Christians and least gospel light.

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Sacrificing for God’s Glory among the Nations

David Platt, “Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death Defying Missions” (Together for the Gospel 2012)

This message is one of the best (and most inspiring) sermons on mission that I have ever heard (Rev. 5). It is a “must-listen” (not exaggerating) and worth making time to hear. It provoked me to much awe and heart-searching before God, and confirmed many burdens that the Lord has been laying upon my heart. I trust that it will do the same for you, regardless of your role in this most holy endeavor. Grace and peace… Warning: It may ruin your life in the most soul-stirring way possible, and result in radical desires for God-glorifying life and service. (Audio)

Here’s a similar message that John Piper preached several years ago: “Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain”.

 

 

Ligon Duncan, “The Underestimated God: God’s Ruthless, Compassionate Grace in the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Minister’s Joy,” (Together for the Gospel 2012)

This message struck me, as well. It targeted the heart of God’s servants and how our Master often exposes those things that we treasure (and long for) above or beside Him (2Kings 19). Duncan reflected on how God often withholds the fulfillment of good things, even godly desires, from His people in order to increase their joy in Him. There is much pain and suffering in the service of God, but that was the experience of our Savior and should be expected by all who would follow after Him. Those who walk by faith while entrusting themselves to God’s provision and timing will find an inexpressible joy that softens the hardships that crush our hearts. May you find comfort and strength (as I did) from God’s word as you hear it preached in this message. It’s worth your time.

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Prayer: What God Does While We Persevere

Andrew Peterson “The Silence of God”

“When we cannot trace God’s hands [in the midst of suffering], we must resolve to trust His heart.” C.J. Mahaney

 

Here’s an excerpt from Nancy Guthrie on things to pray for in the midst of suffering and disappointment:

“We could make a very long list of purposes for which God intends to use suffering according to the Scripture. But here are just a few:

“What would happen if we allowed Scripture to provide the outcomes we prayed toward? What if we expanded our prayers from praying solely for healing and deliverance and success to praying that God would use the suffering and disappointment and dead ends in our lives to accomplish the purposes he has set forth in Scripture? Scripture provides us with a vocabulary for expanding our prayers for hurting people far beyond our predetermined positive outcomes. Instead of praying only for relief, we begin to pray that the glory of God’s character would be on display in our lives and the lives of those for whom we are praying. We pray for the joy of discovering that the faith we have given lip service to over a lifetime is the real deal. We ask God to use the difficulty to make us less self-reliant and more God-reliant. Rather than only begging him to remove the suffering in our loved ones’ lives, we ask him to make them spiritually fruitful in the midst of suffering he chooses not to remove.”[1]

 

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[1] Nancy Guthrie, “Praying Past Preferred Outcomes”: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/04/praying-past-preferred-outcomes/

[2] Image Source

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He is Risen and Ever-Faithful

He remains faithful, even when we are faithless, and because of Christ’s resurrection our faith in God and His promises will never be futile…

2 Timothy 2:8-14

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.”

1 Corinthians 15:12-14, 20-23

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”

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God-sized Ambitions

“Ambitions for God,

if they are to be worthy,

can never be modest.” John Stott

J. Hudson Taylor: “…to move man, 

through God, by prayer alone.”

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Mission Accomplished…

While I don’t generally gravitate toward rap music, it’s hard to not be moved by such theologically-robust lyrics (You can follow the lyrics in the video):

The Father elects them, the Son pays their debt, and protects them
The Spirit is the One who resurrects them
The Father chooses them, the Son gets bruised for them
The Spirit renews them and produces fruit in them
-Shai Linne

Thanks, Josh Arnold…

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Arrows in the Quiver

God makes His servants to be as polished arrows–choice weapons in the quiver of God–as He shoots forth His gospel message among the nations of the Earth!! May we see our ministries (and parenting) as gospel work…

Jim Elliot: “Children are arrows in the quiver, and they are to be trained to be missionaries and shot at the Devil.”

Isaiah 49:2-6

Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The LORD called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the LORD,
and my recompense with my God.”
And now the LORD says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Revelation 12:11

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

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The Life Giving Spirit of God

Praise God for His Life-Giving and Life-Sustaining Spirit:

Psalm 104:29-30 “When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” 

‎Isaiah 63:14“…Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave [the people of Israel] rest. So You led your people, to make for Yourself a glorious name.”

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