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Archive for June, 2011

Flax in the Flame.

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

1 Timothy 1:15

Recommended Reading
Revelation 6:12-17

David Marks was born to godly Connecticut parents in 1805, and his awareness of God began early.

The incident that started him thinking about the Savior was when he saw some flax burn.

He had heard of the fires of hell; and as he watched the flax, he thought how dreadful one moment in hell would be.

He decided that if the Day of Judgment came, he would hide in the well.

Running to his mother, he shared his plan; but she replied, “Ah, my son, the water will boil and the earth will burn.”

He then told her he would run to a spot he knew in the rocks where he could hide. She said, “But the rocks will melt.”

Young David pondered at length the reality of that coming day. Putting his hand over his heart, he looked toward heaven and said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

David recognized that he was not ready to stand before Holy God in his present state.

What a simple, yet profound reminder that only through His mercy are we rescued from the punishment that we deserve.

Are you ready?

The only passport we need to heaven is Jesus.
David Jeremiah

Psalm 136:1-140:13

By David Jeremiah.

Reaching Our Children.

So many things define this generation but the one that stands out is loneliness; which runs deep.

They are home alone,; and are raised by their music, television, and video games.

They will do anything to get a loving feeling, even if only for one night.

A lot of what’s going on sexually isn’t about biology; it’s about feeling close to someone for a few minutes.

With today’s youth having so many labels placed on them such as “Generation X”, “The Lost Generation”, “Generation Me”, “ghetto”, “alley” and many more names; it has been said that the generations prior have dropped the ball and let our community down.

Yes, the ball has been dropped, but it is not our duty to ponder on who dropped it; it is our duty to pick it back up and run with it.

I don’t think that this generation is lost, but that the people who are trying to reach them are lost.

I say this because many don’t know how to minister to them.

We must minister to our children on their level and love them until they change.

So how do we reach our children today? How do we as parents and church family take back our youth from the streets, destruction, youth pregnancy and disease, disrespectfulness, promiscuity, and from the hands of Satan himself?

Here are a few things:

1. A sense of realness. Our children need to know that we too are real, struggle, and have been where they are.

2. Learn to listen. We have to listen so that we can find out where young people are today.

Don’t just speak to the head without addressing the heart.

3. Speak their language. Young people are interested to know if you can identify on their level and within their cultural framework, while not distorting God’s truth.

4. Just be yourself. Don’t think you have to be something you are not in order to reach youth. Let God’s truth, love and grace come through the personality He has gifted you with.
5. Pray. Prayerful people are able to minister to youth with the power of God’s hand upon them.

6. Speak life. Young people often think that life is pointless, has little meaning, and wonder why they are here.

We can’t approach them by saying words like you are worthless. We have to speak life.

7. Spend time. Children trust and open up when they have spent ample time with a person.

When you spend no time with them you will not have the key to their heart.

That’s why many say to children “why didn’t you tell me?” or “you know you can talk to me about anything”, but they never open up because you never spend time with them.

These are just a few things for thought that may help us reach our children. Always remember:

Scripture Of The Day: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”1 Timothy 4:12 (NKJV)

By Pastor Marquis Boone.

Shielded With Favor.

For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. —Psalm 5:12

Our righteousness is as filthy rags.

Right standing with God comes only through the blood of Christ and has nothing to do with our works; it is nothing we can earn.

We are made the righteousness of God, and we will never be more righteous than we are right now.

Being in right standing with God positions us for blessing.

We serve a “faith God.” His promises are “yes” and “amen” to those who believe, and He wants every believer to walk in those promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Because God wants to bless you, He will give you supernatural favor with all men.

God will cause your boss to give you a raise when he knows he can’t stand you.

He will cause the owner to sell you a house at a bargain price without knowing why.

He will even cause your enemies to bless you.

Because God rejoices as you come into His presence, you are wrapped in His blessing and favor—an impenetrable covering and shield of His loving grace and mercy.

God, release Your favor upon my life.

Cover me with Your blessing as I go out and come in.

Thank you, Jesus, for being my righteousness. Amen.


True Success.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. —1 Corinthians 9:19

To quote my friend Joseph Ton, “Success in the eyes of the world is how many servants you have.

Success in the eyes of Jesus is how many people you serve.”

God is looking for people who are willing to become servants, and we can expect that, like Jesus, we will be tested in that role to the extreme.

Yet it is a great faith-builder, for one who is willing to be subordinate, and all that that means, must rely increasingly on God’s faithfulness.

So we must ask ourselves how willing are we to go in pursuit of God’s standards rather than the world’s, which will always be the reverse.

Too often when we first come to God we are under the impression that God owes us something.

We think we have bargaining power with God to ask Him questions and make Him answer us.

Yet suddenly we begin to realize that we are nothing and that God owes us nothing.

He owes us, if anything, a place in hell.

It is at this point that we begin to say, “I subordinate myself to you.”

Everybody you meet thereafter will be your superior in some sense.

And this is why Paul said in Philippians 2, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (v. 4).

How humbling it is to accept authority from and be subordinate to one whom you think is less capable or qualified than you! How humiliating!

Yet the beginning of greatness is accepting authority.

When the disciples asked for preferment, Jesus did not rebuke them.

He just reversed the roles: let the greatest among you be the servant of the rest.

This is just what Jesus did in His own life: He “emptied himself” and became a servant.

What we must ask ourselves, therefore, is to what extent will the marks of the bond servant, which characterized Jesus’ life, be ours?

Excerpted from Meekness and Majesty (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1992, 2000).


{ Day 180 }.

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.

My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” —John 14:23-24

Jesus equated obedience with love.

Let’s not deceive ourselves: it’s critically important to obey God.

David was tenacious, determined, and sincerely devoted to following hard after God’s commands.

This desire chiseled and shaped his heart over many years.

But he was far from a model of obedience.

There was often a yawning gap between his sincere resolve and his actions.

In other words, he blew it from time to time, sometimes in spades.

Yet he was still a man after God’s own heart.

That should flutter your heart a bit!

What does this tell us? That there’s more to being a person after God’s heart than obedience.

There is also the posture of your heart before God. God counted the sincere intentions of David’s heart even when his great weakness led him to wrong decisions.

God sees us the same way.

Our sincere intentions to obey are very significant to God.

He notices our desires, not just our outward actions.


Father, search my heart and show me where I have failed to walk in obedience to Your will.

Keep my heart pure before You, and help me to walk in ever-increasing obedience to Your plans and purposes.

A sincere determination to love Jesus even in the midst of your weakness is a huge part of being a man or woman after God’s own heart.


The Devil’s Hit List.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. —Luke 22:31-32

On the top of the devil‘s hit list are those who love the Lord and walk according to His plan for their lives.

The devil wants to sift you as wheat, but you do not have to be afraid, because he has to contend with the next verse: “But I have prayed for you.”

Who prayed? Not Abraham, David, Peter, nor Paul.

The One who prays for you is the resurrected Son of the living God, the One who conquered death, hell, and the grave.

He pulled the keys of your bondage out of the defeated hands of your adversary.

Take hold of this revelation: Jesus is interceding at the right hand of your Father, calling your name aloud and praying, specifically, that your faith won’t fail.

Then rejoice that you have made the devil’s hit list.

He cannot touch or harm you.

At least, you are a problem to him.

At least, he has noticed your work in the kingdom of God.

Rejoice when he attacks.

You are doing something right, and the enemy hates it.

God, empower me to withstand the attacks and fiery darts of the evil one.

I know that Jesus is interceding for me, and I walk in the power of His intercession.


Disappointed With a Word From God.

Naaman‘s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” —2 Kings 5:13

Perhaps you have gone to church or to a Bible study hoping for a word from the Lord, and you have sat there thinking, Well, so far God hasn’t spoken to me.

I don’t know why I even came.

Second Kings 5 tells the story of Naaman, who suffered from leprosy.

He hears of the famous prophet Elisha through his wife’s little Israelite servant girl.

He makes all kinds of arrangements and finally goes to where Elisha is.

But Elisha won’t even come out to meet him!

Naaman feels insulted.

Here he is—a commander and an officer—and Elisha won’t even greet him.

Instead, the prophet sends a message (which Naaman doesn’t like at all): “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed” (v. 10).

Naaman goes away angry: “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy” (v. 11).

“How dare he insult me? Go to the Jordan and wash seven times?!”

Naaman’s servants persuade him to believe that this really is a word from the Lord.

Naaman goes into the Jordan once and comes out just like he was.

The second time—still no change.

When he goes in a third time, he thinks, Well, I’ll start getting better now.

But no.

Even after the sixth time, there’s no difference.

But on the seventh time, lo and behold, he is healed completely!

It may be that God has given you a word and you don’t like it.

You want something else, some other word. Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10).

Accept what God has given you, and who knows what will happen in the end?

Excerpted from When God Shows Up (Renew Books, 1998).


{ Day 179 }.

After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet.

Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” —Acts 13:20-22

One of the toughest questions throughout Christian history has been, “Why did David get this special distinction from God? What set him apart from so many other godly men and women?”

The answer has the power to revolutionize the way you see God, the way you relate to Him, and how you view yourself and your destiny in Him.

What set David apart as a man after God’s heart was his unrelenting passion to search out and understand the emotions of God.

This, I believe, is the distinguishing factor in the life of any person—you or me or anyone else—who sets out to have a heart after God’s.

In fact, someday the church worldwide will be like David in this regard.

We will be a massive group of people who worship, serve, and love God with ever-increasing understanding of His emotions and passions.

Like David, we will understand and reflect the heart of God in a way humanity has rarely seen.


I want nothing more than to be a person after God’s own heart.

I want to worship, serve, and love You with an ever-increasing awareness of Your great love for me.

You can be a person after God’s own heart,
just as David was.


Don’t Gut the Gospel of Its Purpose.

Last month, John Starke and I had a friendly blog conversation about the place of the church in how we think and speak about the gospel.

John expressed concern about the Story-Announcement-Community emphasis explained in my book Counterfeit Gospels, particularly because the metaphor could lead people to think the church (an implication of the gospel) is too tightly tied to the gospel announcement.

I agree with John that the church is not the gospel, and that the gospel births the church.

But I believe the potential for error is greater in making too sharp a separation between the gospel and the church.

There are times that our theological precision can lead to ideas that were foreign to the sensibilities of the apostles.

A Scenario from Baptist History

Let me give an example from my Baptist heritage.

Baptists disagree with the idea that salvation is somehow dependent upon a person’s baptism.

We want to (correctly, I believe) make a distinction between repentance and faith as the condition of salvation and the act of baptism as the expression of salvation.

But there are times when, in our zeal to make this distinction, we unintentionally downplay the importance of believer’s baptism.

The Apostle Peter‘s sermon at Pentecost ended with a command: “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

Now imagine a back-row Baptist critiquing Peter’s sermon, chiding him for saying, “Peter, Peter, the way you’ve formulated your gospel presentation might confuse people into thinking that baptism is a requirement for salvation.

You might confuse the implication with the announcement. You need to make sharper distinctions.”

The Baptist is right to distinguish between the act of salvation and the expression of baptism, but wrong to push that distinction to the point he imposes foreign sensibilities on the Apostle.

It’s obvious that Peter saw repentance and baptism as so intertwined that he thought the danger of too sharply separating the two was stronger than the danger of putting them too close together.

The Gospel and its Purpose

Now back to the gospel announcement and the gospel community as two legs of the three-legged stool.

The announcement and the community aren’t the same thing, but they are tightly intertwined.

And though I agree with John that certain distinctions must be made, I want to stay true to the way the Scriptural authors hold the announcement and the community together.

I believe making too sharp a division is more problematic than keeping them too close together.

Let me put it this way: If you excise the gospel community from your thinking about the gospel announcement, you gut the gospel of its purpose.

Though the church is not the subject of the gospel announcement (Christ alone is the subject, of course), the church is a necessary object. Christ’s death has a purpose: to save sinners and incorporate them into a community that reflects His glory.

Story – Announcement – Community

Too many times, we think of the gospel as a story that jumps from the Garden of Eden (we’ve all sinned) right to the cross (but Jesus fixes everything). On its own, that works fine in getting across the systematic points of our need for salvation and God‘s provision in Christ, but from a biblical theological perspective, it doesn’t do justice to what’s actually in the text.

Once a person becomes a Christian and cracks the Bible, they’re going to wonder what the big deal is about Israel and the covenant, since that storyline takes up roughly 75% of the Bible. Getting people into that story is important.

As D.A. Carson says, the announcement is incoherent without it. That’s why I want to hold story and announcement together.

Furthermore, the gospel has a telos – the purpose of calling out a people, which is why I want to keep “gospel community” close to the announcement.

I fear that most evangelicals see the church as “just an implication of the gospel” instead of thinking, This is the whole point of the good news – God forming a people for His glory and the good of the world.

The Gospel Community in the New Testament

The backdrop for the gospel announcement are three covenants (Abrahamic, Davidic, and the New Covenant) that culminate in God calling out a people who will know Him and reflect His glory.

It’s no coincidence that immediately following Mark’s summation of Christ’s gospel preaching “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15) we see Jesus calling the first disciples (1:16-20).

The gospel is proclaimed in order that the community might be formed. The good news constitutes a people.

Jesus succeeded where Adam failed. He succeeded where Israel failed.

He died in the place of His people, rose from the dead in victory, and has set about building a new temple – a body of believers from all nations, all to His praise and glory.

The formation of the church gets to the “why” of Christ’s death and resurrection. Look at what Paul writes in Titus 2:14:

He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.

We often emphasize the first purpose – that Christ died to redeem us from sin.

But we can’t miss the second part of that purpose, the “why” of Christ’s cleansing us from sin – that we would be a people for His own possession, eager to do good works. Just verses later, Paul again makes the gospel’s purpose clear:

When the goodness of God and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviorso that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7).

Our personal salvation incorporates us into the family of God.

We are reconciled to the Father and are promised an inheritance.

Peter uses this language as well:

According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable… (1 Peter 1:3-4)

This idea of receiving the promised Holy Spirit, which signifies the forming of a new people, is central to the way Peter presented the gospel at Pentecost:

“Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.

The Spirit is the sign that God is forming a new people. Peter makes it even more explicit in his first letter: “For Christ also suffered for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God… (1 Pet. 3:18) That “us” is plural.

The idea of sharing the inheritance as a family is expressed by Paul as well when speaking of the mission of the Gentiles. When he recounts his dramatic conversion story in Acts 26, Paul quotes the Risen Jesus as saying:

“I now send you to them to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that by faith in Me they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified.” (26:17-18).

Do you see the connection? Faith in Christ assures us of “forgiveness of sins” and “a share among the sanctified.”

Reconciliation with God leads to inclusion among His people. Paul has no trouble keeping the announcement of forgiveness together with the incorporation into the gospel community.

Then there is Ephesians 1-3. In Ephesians 1, we get the wide-angled view of the gospel story, culminating with the gospel announcement of Jesus Christ (1:20-23). The gospel announcement is brought down to the individual level in Ephesians 2:1-10: For by grace we have been saved through faith. Why? For the creation of the gospel community in 2:11-22 and chapter 3. Story, Announcement, Community.

In Ephesians 3, we see Paul even more explicitly linking the church to the gospel announcement. He declares that Christ is our peace, the One who tears down the dividing wall of hostility, and brings together Jew and Gentile in order to create one new man from the two.

Then, watch how he speaks of the Gentiles: they are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (3:6) Immediately following this statement, he says, “I was made a servant of this gospel…” (3:7).

Apparently, Paul has no trouble linking the gospel announcement with its purpose: the creation of the gospel community.

The theological body of Paul’s letter to the Romans is bookended by this same emphasis.

The letter begins with Paul’s proclamation that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, for the Jew and the Gentile alike (1:16), and the letter’s theological portion ends with the breathtaking picture of Jews and Gentiles singing together the praises of God (15:7-13).

The ultimate aim of the gospel is the glory of the God who brings salvation through judgment, and the gospel community is what puts that glory on display.

Don’t Miss the Point

So, back to my original point. The gospel announcement of Jesus Christ must be understood within the context of the story that gives it meaning.

This announcement then births the gospel community.

Saying the good news is limited to the gospel announcement is like saying, “The good news is that the adoption papers are signed” without a view to the purpose of the papers – to incorporate an orphan into a family!

We can say all day long that becoming part of the family is the implication of the adoption process, not the process itself.

But to make that point too forcefully risks losing the point of it all.

Christ’s death and resurrection completes the transaction of the gospel, yes.

But the purpose of Christ’s work is that, in union with Him, we would be reconciled to the Father and adopted into His family.

Good news all around! So, let’s make sure that in our thinking and speaking about the centrality of the gospel announcement we not leave out the gospel-formed family.

Otherwise, we gut the gospel of its purpose.

By Trevin Wax.

The Promise of Persecution?.

If you live a godly life, you will be persecuted.

You can count on this.

It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when and how much.

We love to claim the promises of God.

We love to claim His promises of provision and protection.

But how many of us have claimed this promise: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12)? I haven’t.

Who likes to be persecuted?

Yet Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness‘ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-11).

In all the other beatitudes, the word “blessed” is used once, but in this particular beatitude, Jesus used the word “blessed” twice to emphasize the generous blessing given by God to the persecuted.

Righteousness, by its very nature, is confrontational.

The very fact that you believe in Jesus bothers some people, because Jesus said, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).

People give a lot of excuses as to why they are not Christians, but I would say the real reason people do not come to Christ is they don’t want their evil deeds exposed.

They don’t want to admit they are sinners.

You are a representative of Christ. And the reality is that if you follow Jesus, then you will face persecution. Because “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

Taken from “The Promise of Persecution” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

By Greg Laurie.

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