Praying for New Believers

When Paul hears of new believers, he immediately prays, and continues to pray, for two things:

1. That they would be filled with the knowledge of God.

2. That they would be strengthened with power.

He prays for these two things so that they may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, bear fruit in their work, and have endurance in their faith. (Colossians 1:9-14).

Let us pray the same for each other, for those who have recently come to faith, and for those who have been walking with Jesus for years. May we all be filled with the knowledge of God and strengthened with His power, so that we may walk in a manner worthy of Him, bear fruit in our works, and have endurance in our faith!

An Encouraging Day as a Discipleship Pastor

In every profession, there are good days and bad days. Days that are more difficult and days that are easier. Too often, I’m afraid, we remember the bad days more than the good. We remember the slumps of the tough days more than the joys of the fruitful days. I’ve had many difficult days in ministry. But I’ve also had many exciting, fruitful days. Yesterday was one of those exciting days, and I want to revel in it for just a bit.

Continue reading “An Encouraging Day as a Discipleship Pastor”

Seven Ways to Get More Out of Sunday Sermons

For centuries, Christians have considered the preaching of God’s Word to be one of the primary means of grace.  In other words, it is one of the main things God uses not only to save, but to grow and sanctify His people. Does the way we view, prepare for, and listen to preaching reflect this truth? If we really believe that preaching is one of the primary tools God uses to fashion, guide, and grow us, what practices regarding sermon-listening should we develop? I’d like to offer seven.

Continue reading “Seven Ways to Get More Out of Sunday Sermons”

Partiality & The Gospel

We are currently preaching through the book of James on Sunday mornings at our church. Our text for this past week was James 2:1-13, where James encourages his readers to avoid the sin of partiality. The chapter begins with the following admonition,

My brothers and sisters, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

James 2:1

This passage contains one of my favorite aspects of the Bible: God often calls us to simply imitate who He is and what He has done for us in the gospel. It makes sense, considering His call to “be holy as I am holy” (Lev. 19:2). Everything that He asks us to do compels us to be more like Him. And we become more like Him by imitating, as far as we are able, who He is and what He has done for us. Let me explain.

We are told throughout the scriptures that God does not show partiality (Rom. 2:11; Deut. 10:17; Job 34:19; Acts 10:33). He does not show favoritism. He treats everyone equally, regardless of nationality, physical appearance, talents, position, family, etc. Thus, if we want to imitate God and be holy as He is holy, we should refrain from showing partiality. But what does that look like?

Continue reading “Partiality & The Gospel”

A Merciful God Who Doesn’t Clear the Guilty

Throughout the Bible, there is a seeming paradox: God is holy and just, but He is also loving and forgiving. God declares these things to be true about Himself in Exodus 34. He tells Moses that He is a “merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). But He also says that He will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:7). We are left with the question: how can God be gracious, loving, and merciful, while also being a just, holy, fair judge of the guilty?

Continue reading “A Merciful God Who Doesn’t Clear the Guilty”

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).

Continue reading “Three Areas Where God Calls Us to Invest Our Time”

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!

Continue reading “Why Manna? God’s Grace Displayed in Our Grumbling”

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.

Continue reading “Matthew 5:1 & Jesus as the Greater Moses”

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.

Continue reading “Russia, Ukraine, and the Reality of Right and Wrong”

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!