Four Things NOT to Say to Those Who Are Suffering

As Christians, we are called to bear one another’s burdens, especially when we experience suffering. Yet we often do not prepare for these moments and get tongue tied, speak with general spiritual platitudes, or avoid speaking altogether. But we must learn to comfort and encourage each other in suffering, because it is a natural part of life and a supernatural part of God’s plan (see Philippians 1:29). As we help one another, we can be instruments used by God to comfort those in need.

As we seek to speak to those who are suffering, we must avoid saying these four things:

Continue reading “Four Things NOT to Say to Those Who Are Suffering”

Trust God, Not Yourself

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

These often-quoted verses are very encouraging. However, there is a risk of them becoming too familiar that we fail to see the point and power in them. Continue reading “Trust God, Not Yourself”

Are Black People Cursed? An Analysis of the Use of “Ham’s Curse” as a Justification for African Slavery

Are black people cursed? The question was raised this Sunday as our church concluded its first part of a three part series on racial reconciliation. What about “The Curse of Ham?” What about the white Southerners that used the story in Genesis 9 as a justification for slavery? I was asked to do some digging that we might appropriately respond to this question. Here are my results and conclusions:

The “Curse of Ham” comes a story from Genesis 9, where Noah, after surviving the flood, gets drunk and lays naked in his tent (quote shocking, I must agree, for the righteous man who just watched God unleash his wrath upon the world and save his family). One of Noah’s three sons, Ham, sees his father naked and tells his two brothers, Shem and Japheth . Since Ham’s actions are considered sinful enough to receive a curse, we must assume that he shared this information that was in some way dishonoring to his father. Contrary to Ham, Shem and Japheth honorably drape a garment over their father without looking at him. When Noah wakes up, he places a curse on Ham’s son, Canaan: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers” (Gen. 9:24-25) for his dishonorable act. He goes on: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth…and let Canaan be his servant” (Gen. 9:26-27).

Continue reading “Are Black People Cursed? An Analysis of the Use of “Ham’s Curse” as a Justification for African Slavery”

Six Key Benefits of the Necessary Evangelism Component in Discipleship

Yes. I am afraid. Every time I begin to share about Jesus with someone, millions of thoughts run through my head about how I may offend or be received wrongly. Have you ever felt the same?

This is the log jam in the discipleship process and to fulfilling the Great Commission: evangelism. Sharing our faith. Why? Often times it is because we haven’t seen it modeled, or haven’t been taught “how.” Even in our rigorous attempts at discipleship have not fixed the problem, because discipleship has come to be regarded as a practice without the necessary component of evangelism training or practice. However, treating evangelism as a necessary part of discipleship helps to grow mature disciples, and is absolutely necessary. I read a great article recently highlighting 6 reasons why. Here they are: Continue reading “Six Key Benefits of the Necessary Evangelism Component in Discipleship”

Coming to the Blood of Jesus -Spurgeon

and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”    – Hebrews 12:24

Reader, have you come to the blood of sprinkling? The question is not whether you have come to a knowledge of doctrine, or an observance of ceremonies, or to a certain form of experience, but have you come to the blood of Jesus?
The blood of Jesus is the life of all vital godliness. If you have truly come to Jesus, we know how you came–the Holy Spirit sweetly brought you there. You came to the blood of sprinkling with no merits of your own. Guilty, lost, and helpless, you came to take that blood, and that blood alone, as your everlasting hope. You came to the cross of Christ, with a trembling and an aching heart; and oh! what a precious sound it was to you to hear the voice of the blood of Jesus! Continue reading “Coming to the Blood of Jesus -Spurgeon”

Looking To Jesus- C.H. Spurgeon

“Looking unto Jesus.” —Hebrews 12:2

spurgeon_bw

“It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.

He insinuates, ‘Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.’

All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that ‘Christ is all in all.’

Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits.

Therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.

We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by ‘looking unto Jesus.’

Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him.

Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail thee.

‘My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesu’s name.’”

–Charles Spurgeon, “June 28 – Morning” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994), 378.

Seeing the Goodness of Our God

Topaz-Waters-beautiful-nature-21888528-1217-812

The more closely we study ourselves, the more beneficent our Creator becomes. Look at the highest of God’s earthly creatures-man. We have plenty of reasons to say with the Psalmist, “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that I know full well” (Psalm 139:14). Everything about the structure of our bodies attest to the goodness of our Maker. How suited are our hands to perform work! How good of the Lord to appoint sleep to refresh our wearied bodies! How benevolent His provision to give to the eyes lids and brows for their protection! We could continue indefinitely!*

The goodness of God is also seen in the variety of natural pleasures that He has provided for his creatures. God could have decided to satisfy our hunger without allowing us to really enjoy the taste of it- yet how good is He that he gave us such flavors as those in meat, vegetables, and fruits! He has not only given us senses, but also things that will gratify our senses, and this too reveals His goodness. The earth could have been fertile as it is without its surface being so delightfully multicolored. Our physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful flowers to please our eyes with their colors, and our nostrils with their sweet perfumes. We might have walked outside without hearing the music of birds. Why then, is all of this loveliness so freely diffused over the face of nature? Because the tender mercies of the Lord “are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).*

When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same (C.H. Spurgeon).

Gratitude and thankfulness is the return justly required from us, the objects of His goodness. Yet we often do not give it to God because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it!* We must labor to not allow this to be so!

Praise the Lord for His Goodness!!

*My translation from A.W. Pink’s “Old” English language (Attributes of God, Ch. 11, The Goodness of God)

Looking Unto Jesus- Charles Spurgeon

“Looking unto Jesus.” —Hebrews 12:2

“It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.

He insinuates, ‘Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.’

All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that ‘Christ is all in all.’

Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits.

Therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.

We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by ‘looking unto Jesus.’

Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him.

Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail thee.

‘My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesu’s name.’”

spurgeon_bw

–Charles Spurgeon, “June 28 – Morning” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994), 378.

Missions Exists, Because Worship Doesn’t

“Missions Exists Because Worship Doesn’t” -John Piper

missions

This semester, the Lord led my fiancée and I into a class called Perspectives that our church was hosting. The class is basically a college-type class set up to give believers a fresh “perspective” on the world christian movement, and to give a glimpse of what God is doing around the world. The first week we learned how God has been a missionary God from the very beginning, in his promise to Abraham to make him a blessing “to the nations.” But this week, we talked about the main point of missions-to bring worship to God and to bring him the glory and honor he deserves. One of the main quotes from the lesson was, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t” originally coined by John Piper. I just want to share a quick quote from our reading, and a conviction that I was confronted with.

This is the quote from this week’s reading, “The Story of His Glory,”:

“Humanity does not deserve the love of God any more than you or I do. We should never be Christian humanists, taking Jesus to poor sinful people, reducing Jesus to some kind of product that will better their lot. People deserve to be damned, but Jesus, the suffering lamb of God, deserves the reward of his suffering.”

I was convicted because of this: most of my evangelism and missions-mindset was just to save people from hell, and to show them the full life Jesus wants for them. However, Its not all about what we are saving them FROM but what we are saving them FOR- the worship of a worthy Savior.
We don’t just labor to save people from an eternity in hell, we labor to win our Savior the crowns he deserves for his life and sacrifice, and to bring Him the glory and worship that he deserves for all of eternity!

Thus, our neglect of evangelism and participation in missions is not only unloving to the lost, but it is a refusal to bring God the glory, worship, and honor that he deserves. And our participation in missions and evangelism is not only loving to the lost, but is obedient to God’s plan for our lives: to bring Him worship from every tribe, tongue, and nation!

We take part in missions because there are still tribes and people groups, friends and coworkers, family members and strangers, who do not worship our Father. We labor in part because of our yearning for them to avoid eternal punishment, but our main incentive should be drawn from our own love and adoration of the Father! We know how worthy he is of praise and worship, and we must devote ourselves to winning it for him from the people that do not know him.

The Father sent his only son, Jesus, who, through his death and resurrection, bridged the gap between our sinfulness and God’s holiness, so that we would be reconciled to God (1 Peter 3:18) and worship him! He extends grace and love to us, that we would return love and worship to him. This is the desire of his heart is to receive worship from his creation. This is what was broken in the garden of Eden, the ability to worship the Lord in truth and have a relationship with him. But now, through Christ, we are more than able! Not only that, we are entrusted as his children to win him the worship and glory that his mighty name deserves!

The question we must ask ourselves is this: What is my part in winning the blessed Savior this worship that he is so deserving of?

May the Spirit guide you as you commit yourself to his eternal purpose!

God’s Sovereignty In the Book of Acts: Ordaining the Cross

God’s-Sovereignty

“His Sovereignty rules over all.” – Ps. 103:19

I have often heard the phrase, “God is sovereign” in a way that has been spoken to me to give me encouragement in a tough time or situation. But I never really took the time to meditate on what it meant for Him to be sovereign. The term is defined by having supreme power and authority, a free ability to do as one pleases. In other words, God is in absolute control over every situation, and works out everything according to His will. Think on it for a while, and it will drive your brain into massive confusion. However, we are called to submit ourselves to and believe what scripture tells us, and trust in his sovereignty.

These past few days, I have read through the book of Acts, and I was struck with how much it reveals about God’s sovereignty-with regards to salvation! I simply would like to share them with you in a 3 part series, so that you too can see how God has worked out salvation for his people, and how you, too, if in Christ, were brought into salvation by his amazing grace.

In this first post, Lets look at the major theme of sovereignty in how God ordained the cross:

  • Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” Acts 2:23

I had a very interesting conversation with a Muslim man the other day, who asked me if Christians hated Jews, because they were the ones who “killed Jesus.” This was the first time that I had really come across this misconception. Before I could reply, my friend with me answered, “No,no,no, we don’t hate them at all. We believe it was God’s plan all along, that he used the Jews and the Romans to accomplish his purpose of sacrificing Jesus!” This can be a tough pill to swallow, but Acts 2:23 clearly states for us that Jesus was crucified because it was the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. Let’s look at another verse:

  • What God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.” Acts 3:18

In this verse we are told that not only did God plan it from the beginning, but you can see his plan through reading the prophets in the Old Testament. Lets look at one of the most well-known passages. Isaiah 53:5 reads, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isn’t is incredible that these words were written 600-700 years before Jesus birth? There are over 300 in the Old Testament like it! God surely had a plan, and was voicing it to his people all throughout history.

If you haven’t been convinced yet, lets look at one last verse,

  • For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus…Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your hand had predestined to take place.” Acts 4:27-28

In the most heinous crime committed in the history of mankind, God was behind the scenes, sovereignly ruling. His hand predestined for Jesus to go to the cross, and to bear the weight of our filthy sin. He planned it all, so that whosoever would repent and believe in Him, would have eternal life. This was the depth of his love for us, that he would send his own Son, who would be despised and rejected, so that we might have life with Him. “But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. Recognizing this plan helps us understand the cornerstone of the gospel, seen in Isaiah 53:10,” Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him.” Him- meaning Jesus.

People everywhere are commanded to repent and believe in this incredible gospel (Acts 17:30). How could we not accept so great a Savior? How could we not devote our lives to a God, who in his sovereignty planted the very tree that he would be crucified on-all to give us life and relationship with Him?

Truly, He is sovereign.