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”
Introduction and Purpose
Allan Moseley’s From the Study to the Pulpit seeks to provide a comprehensive methodology for preaching and teaching the Old Testament. In the opening pages of his book, Moseley quotes Haddon Robinson on the need for such a method, “Clear, relevant biblical exposition does not take place Sunday by Sunday by either intuition or accident. Good expositors have methods for their study” (14). Moseley successfully provides anyone teaching the Old Testament with a such a method. This method aims to challenge readers to grow in exegetical proficiency while also providing a simple, usable process that they can use right away. The author succeeds in this task, blessing the reader with trustworthy manual backed by decades of teaching and preaching the Old Testament. If followed, Moseley’s method is sure to facilitate clear, relevant, and biblical teaching that pleases God and faithfully represents His Word.
Before reading Putting on the Armor, I must confess that I often viewed the “armor of God” passage in Ephesians 6 as somewhat irrelevant. In a way, I knew it was probably important, but it seemed to be no more than a descriptive metaphor for walking with God, something I could easily skim over and get the point. I remember hearing a small handful of sermons or talks on the subject that seemed to trivialize the description of the armor. These talks of “praying on the armor” or “which piece of the armor are you missing?” trivialized the concepts of the passage so much that it had a negative effect on how I viewed the relevance of the verses. Dr. Lawless’ book has changed my view on the concept of the “armor” by providing me with an accurate view of the passage as a whole, helping me understand each individual piece of armor, and walking me through how to “wear” the armor in everyday life.
“For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” – Ezra 8:22-23
Song of Solomon 4:7-6:3. An allegorical interpretation of the Song of Solomon, depicting Jesus as our groom, highlighting our role as his bride, and the implications on our prayer lives.
“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”
“…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4
My wife is a quiet and gentle woman; I am not a quiet and gentle man. I want to be. I pray daily to be…but I am constantly acting in pride, selfishness, and harshness. I grieve these sins, because I know they grieve my Master. But thank goodness, my God has given me an amazing wife-a daily reminder, and frequent conviction, to pursue gentleness, and to be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen. Continue reading “My Gentle Wife & God’s Chisel”
Despite a time where England was passing through a period of national convulsion and political excitement, men and women of God found comfort and strength through prayer. One beloved English physician, named Sir Thomas Browne, is one of these men. He wrote in his journal,”I have resolved to pray more and pray always, to pray in all places where quietness invites, in the house, on the highway and on the street; and to know no street or passage in this city that may not witness that I have not forgotten God.”
Do we witness that we have not forgotten God in all places?
Browne adds, “I purpose to take occasion of praying upon the sight of any church which I may pass, that God may be worshiped there in spirit, and that souls may be saved there; to pray daily for my sick patients and for the patients of other physicians; at my entrance into any home to say, “May the peace of God abide here;” after hearing a sermon, to pray for a blessing on God’s truth, and upon the messenger; upon the sight of a beautiful person to bless God for His creatures, to pray for the beauty of such an one’s soul, that God may enrich her with inward graces, and that the outward and inward may correspond; upon the sight of a deformed person, to pray God to give them wholeness of soul, and by and but to give them the beauty of the resurrection.”
May adding constant daily patterns of prayer give us comfort and strength through our hard times?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Our God NEVER changes. One may think, “great, how is that of use to me?” It is of great importance to us! Think of the ways that Jesus responded to the crowds in the first chapters of Mark: there were three different instances when Jesus was almost crushed by crowds of people. He even had to tell his disciples to prepare a boat that He could get in if the crowds started to crush Him (yes, that many people were running to Him!) When He went home to sleep that night, the scriptures say that the entire town was at His house! Yet, He skipped his meal, stayed and ministered to and loved on the people so much that his own family remarked that he was “out of his mind.” So, if He never changes, He still has this disposition, and He still reacts this way to those who run to Him.
Here is solid comfort. Our human nature cannot be relied on, but we can rely on God! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God does not change. If He changed as we do; if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by His mood, who could reveal their secrets to Him? However, we can bring Him praise and worship, because He is ever the same! His purpose is fixed, His will is stable, His Word is sure. Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty oceans of life try to sweep us away. (My translation of A.W Pinks Attributes, pp 692 Kindle)
Think about it. His character is permanent. He could never change for the better, for that would imply that there was something about Him that needed improving before, and thus, He wouldn’t be a perfect God. He has always been, and forever will be, the same, perfect, God. The permanence of His character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises:
“For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
His promises are true. His hatred of sin endures forever. His love for His children never changes. His satisfaction with the sacrifice His Son paid for our sins will never change…Aren’t you glad that our God never changes?
“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.’”
–Charles Spurgeon, “June 28 – Morning” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994), 378.