Three Areas Where God Calls Us to Invest Our Time

In today’s world, distractions abound. Phones, social media platforms, sporting events, and advertisements compete for our attention. Once they have our attention, they begin to clamor for our time. Soon, we begin investing large amounts of time on these platforms, at these events, or watching these shows. Yet God has called us to invest the majority of our time in three primary areas:

  1. Our relationship with Him.
  2. Our relationship with the people in our lives (family, church, friends).
  3. Our life of work.[1]

Are we spending the majority of our time investing in these three areas? If not, what distractions keep us from them? There are only twenty four hours in a day, seven days in a week. If we invest time in one place, it inevitably detracts from the time we can spend in another. Too often we become distracted and end up mindlessly investing our time in things that do not matter. Not only do they not matter, but they take time away from the things that do matter. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. That’s why Paul tells us to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:15-17).

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Why Manna? God’s Grace Displayed in Our Grumbling

In Exodus 16, the word “grumbling” is used eight times to describe Israel’s response to their hunger. It is easy to accuse them of lacking gratitude and faith, but I am afraid I would’ve been among their number. They watched God rescue them from slavery in Egypt with signs and wonders, yet they find themselves in the wilderness without food.

What was their response? They grumbled. They complained. They reminisced on how good the food was in their Egyptian slavery. They questioned all that God had done for them and wondered whether it was Him who did it after all. They blamed Moses, “you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Ex 16:3).

Israel’s grumbling is not the response we expect when we read the story, especially right after God’s miraculous provision of water. But perhaps we should expect it. If we are honest, we probably would have grumbled too. But that’s good news. Because God’s responds in grace and provides for their needs.

In v. 4-8, God promised to send meat (quail) in the evening followed by bread in the morning. This bread was called “manna.” When Moses reveals this promise to the people, He begins by telling them that God “has heard your grumbling.” God responds to the people’s need without them asking. There isn’t a prayer uttered in this chapter. Just grumbling. Complaining. Blaming others. Yet God knew what His people needed. And He gave it to them. They were undeserving, yet He gave it to them. Why? Because He loves them. That’s grace!

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Matthew 5:1 & Jesus as the Greater Moses

As we begin considering the content of the Sermon on the Mount, we’ll quickly notice that every verse is packed with meaning, including the very first one. Matthew 5:1 reads, “Seeing the crowds, he [Jesus]went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.” In this verse, Matthew begins to reveal Jesus as the greater Moses. How? By the little phrase, “he went up on the mountain.”[1]

In Exodus 19:3, Moses “went up on the mountain” to receive God’s law and deliver it to the people of Israel. In the Greek Old Testament (The Septuagint), which Matthew was undoubtedly familiar with, the phrase describing Moses’ ascent reads, “ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος.” Even if you can’t read Greek, you can see the identical nature of Matthew 5:1, which reads, “ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος.” This phrase is used only three times in the Septuagint, each referring to Moses’ ascent to Sinai (Ex 19:3, 24:18, 34:4). This limited use makes the argument for Matthew’s intentional quotation compelling. He clearly wants his readers to note the connection and realize that Jesus was ascending the mountain to teach God’s people just like Moses did.

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Russia, Ukraine, and the Reality of Right and Wrong

Just about every morning I wake up and think about the people of Ukraine. Though I try to avoid looking at my phone for the first hour of the day, I have been waking and checking it regularly, eager to read of new developments. This morning I listened to Albert Mohler’s edition of The Briefing, which reminded me of a peculiar trend I have seen in the media. The trend is this: individuals, countries, and organizations are almost all unified in their denunciation of Russia’s wrongdoing. This collective condemnation raises the question: does this mean there is such a thing as right and wrong?

In the last few decades, post-modern thought has trained societies to reject moral absolutes (i.e. concrete, black-and-white claims of right and wrong). In fact, many assert that any claim to moral authority or to a recognition of moral truth is simply a tool of power and oppression (critical theory). Thus, what is right for you may not be right for me. What is true for you may not be true for me, and so on. A rejection of moral absolutes may be able to survive in the petri dish of theoretical frameworks, but it cannot survive in war-torn reality.

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Reflecting God’s Love- A Eulogy for Dorothy Rachels

This Saturday I had the privilege of speaking at Dorothy Rachel’s funeral in Thomaston, GA. She was my wife’s grandmother, whom we all referred to as “Memomma Dot.” She was the spiritual matriarch of the family and played important roles in my wife’s and my own faith journey. She was full of faith, love, and life. I used her favorite verse for the message- John 3:16. My aim was demonstrate that her remarkable life can only be explained by the fact that she knew and experienced God’s love.

I am posting the audio recording of message here for Memomma’s family and friends who were not able to attend the funeral and for those in attendance who asked if we had a recording. I pray that it will be a blessing to you, honor Memomma, and bring glory to God!

Precious in the Sight of the Lord is the Death of His Saints

In light of my wife’s faithful and loving grandmother’s crossing the threshold of heaven this week, I am reminded of the verse:

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

These words remind us of God’s immense love for His sons and daughters. At no point in their lives is he a distant observer. Rather, He is an ever present, sovereign, involved Father- every step of the way. Including the final step of their earthy lives.

Their death, says the psalmist, is precious in His sight. Why is it precious? Because for them, it is the last trial they will go through. It is the last time they will ever feel pain. It is the last effect of a sinful and fallen world that they will experience. Endless joy, peace, comfort, and fulfillment lay ahead.

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Four Reasons the Sermon on the Mount is Relevant Today

In January, I started studying and writing on the Sermon on the Mount. A family wide bout of Covid-19 delayed my study for a little bit. But alas, God has allowed me to return to it! This week I want to share something I read from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Sermon. I am summarizing his comments under the title, “Four Reasons the Sermon on the Mount is Relevant Today.” Here they are:

1. Jesus died to enable us to live the Sermon on the Mount.

As I argued in my previous blog, the Sermon on the Mount is a description of the Christian life. Thus, Jesus died for us to be able to live out the principles of the Sermon. He died to “purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The principles contained in the Sermon are a part of these “good works.” In fact, God has planned from eternity past for us to walk in them (Eph 2:10). Because of Jesus’ death and the new life it has brought us, we can be zealous for doing the good works He expounds in the Sermon

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5 Things to Remember in Suffering

1. God promises to comfort us in our affliction (2 Cor. 1:3-4). We can ask him on the basis of his Word to comfort us. Then we should pursue channels of that comfort! Psalm reading, praying (honestly), listening to worship music, asking brothers and sisters to pray for us, etc. God can and will use all these things (and more) to comfort us in our pain.

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Sermon on the Mount (Pt. 1- Interpretation)

While in seminary, I attended a doctoral colloquium where Dr. Charles Quarles described the Sermon on the Mount as a kind of New Covenant Torah. By this, he meant that the Sermon on the Mount is the standard of life that will characterize the members of the New Covenant (Jesus’ followers). Ever since that talk, I have desired to take the time to study the most famous message ever preached.  As I study, I am going to write what I am learning on my blog. This will allow me an opportunity to synthesize what I am learning, and I hope that it will be beneficial to some of you as well![1]

The SM begins in Matthew 5, after Jesus ascends a mountain and begins to teach. He describes the nature of those who will be recipients of His blessings. He proclaims an upside-down kingdom in which the least are the greatest. And He presents a way of life rooted in a pure heart that loves God supremely and serves others sacrificially. His words have been regarded as the “manifesto” of the Christian faith and are well-respected by those inside and outside the church (see Mahatma Gandhi and the Sermon on the Mount, for example[2]).

In today’s post I want to consider the proper interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. As I began my study, I was surprised to see how many different ways that the SM is interpreted. For those outside the faith, the SM is primarily interpreted as a description of the Christian life. This is not entirely incorrect, but it is often viewed as the primary substance of Christ’s message, which it is not. One must also account for and synthesize many other truths that Jesus taught, such as Him being the Son of God who would save His people via His death and resurrection, to understand the true substance of Christianity.

Inside the faith, interpretations are primarily concerned with understanding the purpose of the SM. Is it meant to be a law that exposes sin and drives people to the grace of God in Christ? Is it a code of ethic that will only be realized in heaven? Is it a way of life for elite Christians only?[3] Or is it a description of the kind of life that God progressively creates in His people by His Spirit?

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J. Gresham Machen, A Biographical Essay

Introduction

Throughout the history of Christianity, certain theologies, ideologies, and philosophies have arisen and threatened the church’s understanding of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. One such theology is the modern liberalism that arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which the main character of this essay describes as “an attempt to solve the problem of historic Christianity’s relation to modern culture.”[1] In an attempt to solve this “problem,” modern liberalism became rooted in naturalism and discarded the supernatural particulars of the Christian message such as the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as mere symbols of the more general aspects of religion.[2]

Modern liberalism taught that the essence of Christianity is to be found in its general ethical principles rather than in the event of the Son of God dying for the sins of His people. Liberalism made its way into many churches, denominations, and seminaries by the dawn of the twentieth century and was threatening to overpower historic Protestantism in its popularity and acceptance. However, church history often demonstrates that when a harmful theology arises, God raises up a voice to expose, correct, and provide clarity for the church. In the early decades of the twentieth century in the United States, that voice was J. Gresham Machen’s.

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