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Posts tagged ‘Jonathan Edwards’

God-Glorifying Social Media.


God-Glorifying Social Media

The natural response to seeing God’s glory is to audibly praise Him.

Psalm 35:27-28 says, “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, ‘Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!’ Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.”

Since the digital revolution, the platform of our audible voice has extended into the digital realm. We now have a digital voice. The all-daylong praise of God’s glory in Psalm 35 extends into this realm, especially through social media.

It is far easier to praise God’s glory through the medium of social media than many realize. Here are three common-sense techniques to share God-glorifying social media content.

1.     Share a God-glorifying Word

Lots of people produce God-glorifying social media content already. If you’re on social media, you have friends, connections, those you follow, or a circle. Be sure to monitor your social network feed and the content already being shared. When you see something that proclaims the weightiness of God, don’t hesitate to praise Him by sharing. + One it. Like it. Retweet it. Make it known. Be part of an initiative that trends God-glorifying content.

Don’t hesitate to provide an original contribution to your social media network. Give your network a good, God-glorifying Word. You have prayers and praises to share. Occasionally, you’ll have a deep thought. I typically get one or two a month. You’ll likely have more. You’ll also read something in the Bible or in a book that strikes you. If you’ve got your social network handy, and I bet you do – be immediate in sharing.

A lot of bible aps have a copy and paste function. Kindle and iBooks have a sharing mechanism. If you’re reading a print copy, take a moment and type the quote out and share. This selfless effort will benefit another by bringing his or her attention to God’s glory.

2.     Share a God-glorifying Link

Whatever social media you’re using has a mechanism for shortening links. As you browse the web, look for opportunities to share. Youtube, Vimeo, and any news article or blog post will have a share button.

We consume and consume. Often, we don’t take a moment to share with others the goodness of God-glorifying content that we ingest. When you stumble across a link in the digital world that proclaims the excellencies of God, press that share button. Minister to someone else with what has ministered to you.

3.     Share a God-glorifying Image

So many of us walk around with the power to share the image and likeness of God at a touch of a button. We have the astonishing capability to capture God’s creative masterpiece, the world, and all it’s creation with high resolution. This power is in your phone and thanks to aps like Instagram we can glorify-God with this content.

Share photos of heavenly bodies, the picturesque horizon, wildlife, family and friends. When you write your caption, give God credit for those snapshots. Indicate that God’s image is clearly seen in all creation. (Romans 1:20)

The End for Which The World Was Made

Jonathan Edwards wrote a short piece expressing that the end for which God made the world is for His glory. If that is the case, then this end extends into the digital world.

So don’t waste your digital life! Share God-glorifying social media through these three techniques.

Joey Cochran, Pastor

Joey Cochran served as an Associate Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma for four years before transitioning to be the Church Planting Intern at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois under the leadership of Pastor Joe Thorn. Joey is a graduate of Dallas Seminary. Joey blogs at jtcochran.com. Follow @joeycochran on Twitter.

Are You a Good Steward of the Gospel?.


Are You a Good Steward of the Gospel?

Stewardship is an important biblical word and vital Christian concept. Unfortunately, we usually think it refers only to money.

A steward is one who has been given the responsibility to manage or care for someone or something. He’s not the owner. The steward is simply the caretaker. He’s the manager of property belonging to another. As a result, the steward is accountable to the actual owner.

The Bible says that God is the owner of everything and that he gives humanity a stewardship to care for and manage his gifts. Our lives are to be comprehensively God-Centered. God owns everything. We do not. Everything is ultimately for God, not us.

In theory, this all sounds right and good. Few Christians would dispute it. However, the issue of stewardship being lived out is a perennial problem for believers. For example, when you read these verses, don’t you have a little something inside of you that wants to resist them? Or at least qualify them?

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Can you imagine putting one of these as your life verse? Whether I live or die, it’s all Christ! And I’m good with either. Let me live and I’ll magnify Jesus. Take my life and I go and see Jesus. It’s all Jesus; and I’m good with that! I do all for the glory of God. I do everything, everyday, all the time, for the showcasing of the glory of God. That’s me.

Sometimes we encounter these verses and their corresponding principles and say, “Oh, that’s just Paul being Paul. That is varsity Christianity. I play on the little league team.” Instead of taking these verses to be literal and personal they become ethereal.

It shouldn’t be this way. Paul and other Christians viewed this as the right response to the gospel. They viewed life in light of a stewardship. They worked for and served God in light of his ownership of all things.

Jonathan Edwards, the 18th Century preacher and writer understood the concept of gospel stewardship when he wrote his 70 Resolutions. These personal declarations of what and who he wanted to be pivoted out of the fact that he was to be a steward of his entire life. Here is a sampling:

# 52 I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

#70 Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

# 6 Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

# 4 Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

# 5 Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

# 7 Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

Quite an impressive list, and it’s only a sampling. The point with Edwards and the Apostle Paul is that the Christian must view his/her life in terms of a stewardship. Far from being exclusively on the varsity team, stewardship is to be characteristic of every Christian.

How Do We Become Good Stewards?

Start by remembering these three truths:

1)    God is the owner and giver of all good things.

In the beginning there was only God. If we were to undo every moment all the way back to the beginning we would be left with God. He initiated and brought forth creation. (Genesis 1:1, 2Psalm 24:1, 2)

There is nothing that is that is not God’s. He has the title deed to everything from crickets to countries. He is the owner of our time as well as our treasures. He is the basis and end of our joy. It’s all his.

In fact, the Bible goes so far as to say that every good gift is from him: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

When we start thinking about what we have, we must remember that it is not ultimately our own. We are stewards of what God has given us.

2) Sin corrupts God’s good gifts by making them about us.

Instead of seeing God’s good gifts as from God and for his glory we often make them about us and for our glory. Romans 1:18-25 says that a big part of what’s wrong with the world is that instead of honoring God and giving him thanks, we worship and serve the creation. This is the ultimate perversion of a gift. It is to take a gift that we are to be stewards over and make ourselves the owner of it instead. Who get’s slighted in this scenario? God. It’s his glory that is robbed when we make much of ourselves instead of him.

I remember a conversation with one of our little children. She was eating some chips and I asked for one. She turned her back and said, “No. These are mine.” In what sense were they hers? She could not even open the bag herself, much less create them out of nothing. She is dependent on countless people to provide those chips for her. They are not “hers.” That’s exactly how we act with the gifts of God. Our favorite word is the favorite word of the toddler: “mine.” This is my body, my money, my time, my life, my house, my clothes, my job, my family, my, my, my, my. This is what happens when we take what we are supposed to be stewards of and make ourselves the owner of them. These are gifts from God that we are accountable for. Sin, however, corrupts these good gifts by making them about us.

When we think about stewardship we have to think about what sin has done to corrupt our own hearts and minds. Sin turns God’s gifts on their head and makes them about us rather than God.

3) The Gospel liberates us to glorify God through faithful stewardship.

The good news is that the gospel liberates us from this bondage. The gospel rescues us from squandering God’s good gifts by making us stewards of them. The gospel causes us to be grateful and giving. Gratitude and generosity are the characteristics of gospel stewardship.

A great example of this in the Bible is Levi, also known as Matthew. In Luke 5:27-32 we read that this tax collector was converted and followed Jesus. He made restitution for his robbery and threw a party for Jesus and his friends. The one who was all about himself (greedy) became about others (generous). That’s exactly what the gospel does; it frees us from squandering God’s gifts by making us stewards of them.

The gospel simultaneously loosens our grip on this world by giving us eyes to see the world to come. The result is a gospel stewardship that reflects grace and gratitude.

That’s not super Christianity. That’s mere Christianity.

Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is pastor at Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska. He and his wife, Christie, have six children. You can follow Erik on Twitter @erikraymond and read his blog at ordinarypastor.com.  

Fall Favorites: Faith.


O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8:9

Recommended Reading
Psalm 8 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%208&version=NKJV )

John Piper wrote, “When I was in seminary, a wise professor told me that besides the Bible I should choose one great theologian and apply myself throughout life to understanding and mastering his thought…. The theologian I have devoted myself to is Jonathan Edwards.”

Watch This Week’s TV Broadcast ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/television.aspx?tid=email_watchedevo )

Piper was particularly influenced by Edwards’ dissertation about the reason God created the world, which was ultimately and exclusively for His glory. Everything is  of  God and  in  God and  to  God. The presence of beauty in this sin-cursed world is a reflection of the glory of God.1

This autumn as you watch the swirls of oranges, reds, and browns; as the birds migrate above you; as the harvest rolls in around you; and as you see the sun set earlier in the sky, take time to reaffirm your faith in God. Trust the Creator with all your heart and say to Him: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth.”

In the creatures’ knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; His fullness is received and returned.
Jonathan Edwards

1John Piper in the introduction of  Jonathan Edwards on Beauty  by Owen Strachan and Douglas Sweeney (Chicago: Moody, 2010), 15-17.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Hosea 1-9

By David Jeremiah.

How to Pursue Spiritual Formation through Means of Grace.


Whitney Hopler

Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kyle Strobel’s new book,Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards, (InterVarsity Press, 2013).

One of the greatest minds in Christian history – 18th century pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards – can inspire your own spiritual development. By using the spiritual practices that Edwards called “means of grace,” you can encounter God’s glory in ways that transform your soul so you become the person God wants you to become.

Here’s how you can follow Edward’s classic example of spiritual formation through practices that connect you with God’s grace:

Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s beauty to you and bind you to Him in love. Spiritual formation is all about God’s work within your soul through the power of His Spirit; your part in that work is simply to pursue God and respond to how He works in your life as you seek Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you more of God’s beauty every day. As He does, let yourself fall in love with God. The more you learn about God, the more you’ll grow to love Him, which will then motivate you to learn even more about Him in a wonderful cycle that constantly draws you closer to God.

Start the journey with love in mind. Edwards presents the Christian life a journey of seeing God more clearly every day that you focus on Him and seek to grow closer to Him. Keep in mind as you travel on your spiritual pilgrimage that love is your goal, because God is love. Heaven – a place of pure love – is the ultimate destination on your journey because God lives there. Expect to be changed on your journey. As you travel closer to the God of beautiful love, He will make you a more beautiful and loving person yourself.

Walk in affection. God loves you personally, so He wants you get to know Him personally. Rather than just seeking to learn about God, seek to know God on a personal level. Let your growing knowledge of God inspire affection in your soul. In order to share in the life of love that God offers you, you must undergo a renovation of your heart. Encountering God in a transformative way involves more than just thinking about Him; it involves responding to God’s love by loving Him back. Aim to walk in harmony with God by having your emotional heart beat in rhythm with God’s heart. As you do, you’ll come to see both God and yourself more accurately and understand how deeply you need God to love and redeem you.

View spiritual disciplines as means of grace. Edwards saw spiritual disciplines as means people can use to experience more of God’s grace in their lives. When you practice spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading, you place yourself in a posture of dependence on God, thereby positioning yourself to receive His love. Spiritual disciplines usher God’s grace into your life by orienting your mind and heart to God and inviting God to transform them.

Experience God’s grace through His Word. God reveals His mind and will to people through His Word, the Bible. Since the Bible is the primary way that God reveals Himself to the world through Jesus Christ, the Bible can help you understand all of the other means of grace. When you read, study, and reflect on the Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the wisdom you need to understand its message and apply it faithfully to your life.

Experience God’s grace through prayer. Prayer – the main way of communicating with God – gives life to all of the other means of grace. Pray with faith, expecting God to listen to your prayers, care about them, and respond to them according to what’s best for you. Pray from the heart, expressing your thoughts and feelings honestly to God since God wants to relate to personally and is willing to meet you wherever you are. In prayer, you can orient your life around God’s presence and power, which will then transform you for the better as God works in your life.

Experience God’s grace through self-examination. When you examine your soul before God with honesty and humility, inviting God to show you sin that you need to confess and repent of to keep growing closer to Him, you can experience the grace of spiritual freedom as God forgives you and empowers you to grow.

Experience God’s grace through meditation. Saturating your mind with Scripture verses from the Bible and carefully reflecting on them will give you a fresh perspective on God’s beautiful glory, Edwards says. As you meditate on a specific truth about God, you also hold it before you as a kind of spiritual mirror so you can get a more accurate view of your own life in relation to God. Meditation will help you focus on the realities of God’s holiness and your own sinfulness, inspiring you to more deeply appreciate the love and forgiveness God offers you.

Experience God’s grace through contemplation. Edwards says that contemplation is similar to meditation, but with the focus only on God rather than on yourself as well. Contemplation involves setting your mind completely on God in order to learn more about Him. Ask God to help you approach contemplation with quietness, calmness, humility, patience, and hope.

Experience God’s grace through the Sabbath day. Resting from work one day per week creates space in your life for you to recalibrate your soul to God and experience the joy of living according to God’s rhythms, without unhealthy stress.

Experience God’s grace through fasting. When you fast, you give up something that you crave (such as food) but that may sometimes distract you from pursuing God as your top priority. Suppressing your natural appetite for whatever you’re fasting from exposes weaknesses in your soul (such as pride, control, lust, and arrogance) that you can hold before God in repentance during fasting. As a result, spiritual breakthroughs may occur. Edwards recommended that people fast together in church communities rather than privately so that they could support and encourage each other in the process.

Experience God’s grace through conferencing. The practice of conferencing involves discussing Bible passages or church sermons with other people in your congregation. Working together, you can encourage each other to grow closer to God and hold each other accountable along the way.

Experience God’s grace through soliloquy. Edwards uses the term “soliloquy” to refer to the practice of speaking directly to your own soul as you hold it open before God in prayer. When you invite God to show you who you really are through soliloquy, you’ll learn more about who He is, and how His grace can transform you for the better.

Experience God’s grace through silence and solitude. Incorporate both silence and solitude into your life regularly, because both of these practices create the space necessary for you to practice prayer, meditation, and contemplation.

Adapted from Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards, copyright 2013 by Kyle Strobel. Published by IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.

Kyle Strobel (Ph.D.,University of Aberdeen) is professor of theology at Grand Canyon University and research associate at the University of Free State (Bloemfontein). Strobel previously publishedJonathan Edwards’ Theology: A Reinterpretation (T&T Clark). He blogs at metamorpha.com.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new novel Dream Factory, which is available in both paperback and ebook formats. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: July 5, 2013

How to Contend for Revival in Your Region.


(© Catholic Chapel House)

When John Wesley and friends prayed earnestly for revival in England, God answered their prayers. Find out how you can be part of the next great revival in your nation.

Flames leapt from the roof of the pastor’s home in Epworth, England. Susanna and Samuel Wesley desperately rounded up their children and counted them, but one was missing. Little 5-year-old John was still in the burning house. Susanna broke into a loud sob. She had already lost 10 of her 19 children before they reached the age of 2, and she couldn’t bear to lose her beloved little John.

Just then a neighbor spotted the child, as the boy looked helplessly out the upstairs window. The house was about to burst into uncontrollable flames; but acting quickly, the neighbors made a chain, climbing on each other’s shoulders. Finally, the top man was able to reach out and gather the boy into his arms. Immediately, even as they lowered little John to safety, the whole house exploded into flames, shooting sparks into the midnight sky.

For the rest of his life, John Wesley referred to himself as “a brand plucked from the fire” (Zech. 3:2). Because of this near-death experience, he always believed that God had a special calling on his life—a destiny he must fulfill.

Inspired by Jonathan Edwards’ description of revival at Northampton just before America’s First Great Awakening, Wesley began to pray that God would bring revival to England as well. He began joining with his friends and praying earnestly for revival.

One night, as Wesley and 60 others prayed all night, suddenly the power of God swept in and broke over all of them. Many of them cried out and others were knocked to the floor by God’s power. Those proper Englishmen were undone by the presence of God; and from that time on, Wesley began seeing mighty manifestations of God’s power.

Like the apostle Paul, Wesley “was prepared to strip his message of all that was peripheral and to know nothing among his hearers except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In fact, Wesley once said, “Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but God, hate nothing but sin and are determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and I will set the world on fire with them.”

This is what we need in America! Where are the preachers like John Wesley who will lift up the torch of the cross until their entire nation is ablaze? Where are those like the Moravians, who will cry, “May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!” until the gospel spreads around the world? Where are those like Evan Roberts, only 26 years old, who will preach, “Calvary’s love and love for Calvary” until an entire nation is changed as in Wales in 1905? Where are those like Jonathan Edwards, who will describe the Father’s cup with such intensity that people will groan for mercy and a Great Wakening will result?

We need prophets like John the Baptist who will cry, “Behold the Lamb of God!” until the church is “baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire” (John 1:29; Luke 3:16). We need preachers like Peter who will preach the gospel with such power that people are “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). We need apostles like Paul, who will resolve to “preach Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23), until the whole world is turned upside-down. We need visionaries like John who will look into heaven until they see the slain Lamb on the throne (Rev. 5:6), then will reveal Him down on earth. We need men and women who burn and blaze for the gospel and will never give up preaching the blood of the Lamb.

At last the time has come for the Lamb to be glorified in this nation. Won’t you join us in this great cause? This is not just another charismatic bandwagon to jump on. This is not just one more stream in the body of Christ. We are talking about the Son of God—God’s eternal Lamb! He deserves the reward of His suffering.

We simply cannot give up until there’s a paradigm shift in the church—a reformation that is driven by arediscovery of the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a resurrection of the cross that is founded on a revelation of the Lamb.

“But I’m not a preacher,” you say. “I can’t stand before people and speak.” Neither could Moses or Gideon, but God used them to lead a whole nation. You see, once God consumes your heart with a melting revelation of the Lamb, He will change you into a different person. Once the cross penetrates your soul and fills your heart, you will become pregnant with a message.

So I urge you, let the gospel go deep. Let it surge and seethe within you until it does a deep work in your soul. Let it crucify your heart until your selfish ambitions are nailed to the cross.

Once the gospel has done its crucifying work in your heart, “shout it from the rooftops” and be a voice for the Lamb to your generation. Let it come from a heart that’s been broken open and spilled out with love for the Lamb. And if the Spirit of God attends your words, people will be undone by a revelation of the Lamb. The Lamb of God was silent, but now it’s no longer time for silence!

Undonecover FINALAdapted from Undone by a Revelation of the Lamb by Sandy Davis Kirk, copyright 2013, published by Creation House. This book will help you see the awesome sacrifice of our Lord in a totally new light. The vivid picture the author paints shows you the Lamb of God before creation, the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and glorification in eternity. Set aside everything you think you know about the Cross and be prepared to be undone. To order your copy, click here.

PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 7/01/2013

This week fervently pray for revival in our nation. Ask the Lord to give you a revelation of the Lamb, and to ignite a hunger and passion for Him that results in powerful intercession to move spiritual mountains. Pray for His truth to penetrate the darkest realms, lift the veils of deception and break the chains off people bound and enslaved by the enemy through their sin and addictions. Pray for a love of souls and ask what you can do to extend His kingdom. Pray for a spirit of conviction and repentance to permeate our churches, communities and political arenas. Contend for the souls of men through your intercession and thank Him for sending more laborers into His harvest fields. Continue to pray for the persecuted church, Israel, and those in authority over us. John 1:29; Rev. 5:6; James 5:16-20.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

SANDRA DAVIS KIRK, PH.D.

The Greatest Legacy.



by Stan Toler

A television sitcom promotion included an interesting statement by the main character: “I learned about integrity from my father. He had five wives but never missed an alimony payment.”

If worldly integrity is learned by the example of careless character, we are called to a higher standard. The integrity of a Christian leader speaks louder than a sharp résumé, a handful of brochures or a stack of business cards. Integrity is something that can’t be handed to you as you walk across the graduation platform. Integrity comes from within. It’s the result of a focused faith, godly choices, right associations and a tenacious commitment to truth.

When integrity is present in the life of a leader, it is a beautiful thing. When integrity is missing, life gets messy! Integrity may be one of the least-recognized qualities for new-millennium leadership, yet it will leave the greatest legacy.

Later on, when historians think about many present-day leaders, they will struggle to remember how many people they had on their staffs and will forget how many letters followed their names. What history will remember is how leaders conducted themselves. Leaders will be known in the future primarily based on their integrity.

In a publication called The Cross and the Flag, the power of integrity’s legacy was chronicled in the lives of two men. One was Max Jukes, who lived in New York State. He was an unbeliever. Jukes had 1,029 known descendants: 300 died prematurely; 100 were sent to prison for an average of 13 years each; 190 were prostitutes; and 100 were alcoholics. Through the years, the Jukes family cost the state $1.2 million and made no contribution to society.

The second man, Jonathan Edwards, lived in New England at about the same time as Max Jukes. He believed in God and became a prominent Christian minister. Edwards had 729 known descendants: 300 were preachers; 65 were college professors; 13 were college or university presidents; 60 were authors; three were elected to congress; and one became a vice president of the United States.

Integrity cannot be faked; the future will bring it to light. The most urgent question for any leader is not “What is my vision?” or “What are my skills?” The most vital issue for any leader to settle is this one: “What is my level of integrity?”

The answer to that single question will shape a leader’s legacy for generations to come.

The Key to Faith.


How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God—John 5:44

This verse is a warning and an encouragement to you and me. The warning: if you and I do not make an attempt to receive the praise that comes from God rather than the praise of people, we too will find it impossible to exercise genuine faith. The encouragement: we are not required to have obtained the honor and praise of God, but only to make an effort to obtain it. God’s commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).

He is not demanding that we perfectly repudiate the praise of people and absolutely receive His praise; He is only asking us to make an effort to obtain His praise. Nothing can be more reasonable than that.

What is so scary about this implication is that you and I could continue to miss what God may be up to in His church generally and in our lives in particular. If I choose the praise of people over God’s approval, I will be a victim of unbelief. I will render myself incapable of believing God, as He wants me to. I will likewise miss whatever God has chosen to do at the moment. Jonathan Edwards taught us that the task of every generation is to discover in which direction the Sovereign Redeemer is moving, then move in that direction. But if I am found being enamoured with the praise of people during the time God is at work in my day or in my area, I will miss seeing His glory—even if it is right in front of me. That is what happened to the ancient Jews in Israel, and it can happen to us today. I can think of nothing worse than that.

This verse therefore contains an immense encouragement, namely, if I but seek—or make an effort to obtain—His honor, I will be able to believe and see what He is up to.

Excerpted from Pure Joy (Charisma House, 2006).

By R. T. KENDALL.

SPIRITUAL RESOLUTIONS FOR A NEW YEAR.


JAMES 4:13-17

1. WHEN JONATHAN EDWARDS WAS JUST A YOUNG MAN, HE MADE
FIVE RESOLUTIONS AND LIVED BY THEM FAITHFULLY:

RESOLVED: TO LIVE WITH ALL MY MIGHT WHILE I DO LIVE.

RESOLVED: NEVER TO LOSE A MOMENT OF TIME, BUT TO
IMPROVE IT IN THE MOST PROFITABLE WAY I CAN.

RESOLVED: NEVER TO DO ANYTHING WHICH I SHOULD DESPISE
OR THINK MEANLY OF IN ANOTHER.

RESOLVED: NEVER TO DO ANYTHING OUT OF REVENGE.

RESOLVED: NEVER TO DO ANYTHING WHICH I SHOULD BE
AFRAID TO DO IF IT WERE THE LAST HOUR OF MY LIFE.

2. I WOULD SUGGEST TO YOU THAT THE RESOLUTIONS OF
JONATHAN EDWARDS WOULD BE GOOD RESOLUTIONS FOR EVERY
ONE OF US, ESPECIALLY AS WE CLOSE OUT ONE YEAR AND
BEGIN A NEW YEAR.

3. ALL OF US HAVE AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER HAS MADE NEW
YEAR RESOLUTIONS. SOMEONE HAS SAID, “THE WEAKNESS OF
MOST NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS IS THAT THEY SIMPLY GO IN
ONE YEAR AND OUT THE OTHER.”

4. ANOTHER HAS SAID, “RESOLUTIONS ARE LIKE BABIES
CRYING IN CHURCH. THEY MUST BE CARRIED OUT TO BE
GOOD.”

5. AS WE LOOK AT OUR TEXT WE SEE THAT JAMES IS TALKING
ABOUT THE FUTURE. IN VERSE 13 HE REFERS TO THE PLANS
CERTAIN ONES HAD FOR THE YEAR BEFORE THEM. WE READ:

“GO TO NOW, YE THAT SAY, TO DAY OR TO MORROW WE WILL
GO INTO SUCH A CITY, AND CONTINUE THERE A YEAR, AND
BUY AND SELL, AND GET GAIN:”

6. HE SPEAKS TO US ABOUT THE ATTITUDES WE SHOULD HAVE
ABOUT THE DAYS THAT ARE BEFORE US.

7. JAMES TELLS US THAT WHEN WE CONSIDER THE YEAR THAT
IS BEFORE US THAT THERE IS MUCH ABOUT THE FUTURE THAT
IS UNCERTAIN. HE SAYS TO US IN VERSE 14, “WHEREAS YE
KNOW NOT WHAT SHALL BE ON THE MORROW.”

8. HE REMINDS US THAT WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TOMORROW
HOLDS, MUCH LESS A YEAR.

9. LET ME SAY THAT EVEN THOUGH WE MAY NOT KNOW WHAT WE
FACE IN THE FUTURE, WE SHOULD KNOW HOW TO FACE THE
FUTURE.

10. ONE OF THE WAYS TO FACE THE NEW YEAR IS TO SETTLE
CERTAIN THINGS IN OUR HEART AND LIFE. THERE ARE
CERTAIN SPIRITUAL RESOLUTIONS WE SHOULD MAKE ABOUT HOW
WE ARE GOING TO APPROACH AND FACE THE NEW YEAR.

11. I WANT US TO GLEAN FROM WHAT JAMES SAID CERTAIN
SPIRITUAL RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR. NOTICE THAT
JAMES SPEAKS TO US CONCERNING:

I. A DAILY MEASURED LIFE!

1. IN VERSE 13 JAMES SPEAKS OF THOSE WHO WERE MAKING
PLANS ABOUT THE FUTURE. WE READ: “GO TO NOW, YE THAT
SAY, TO DAY OR TO MORROW WE WILL GO INTO SUCH A CITY,
AND CONTINUE THERE A YEAR, AND BUY AND SELL, AND GET
GAIN:”

2. THEIR PLANS WERE TO GO INTO A CERTAIN CITY AND OVER
THE NEXT YEAR BUY AND SELL AND MAKE A PROFIT. THE
WORDS “GO TO NOW” IS SIMILAR TO OUR EXPRESSION, “NOW
LOOK HERE.”

3. JAMES IS SAYING, “YOU ARE MAKING ALL THESE BIG
PLANS BUT THERE IS SOMETHING YOU ARE FAILING TO
CONSIDER.” HE CONTINUES IN VERSE 14: “WHEREAS YE KNOW
NOT WHAT SHALL BE ON THE MORROW. FOR WHAT IS YOUR
LIFE? IT IS EVEN A VAPOUR, THAT APPEARETH FOR A LITTLE
TIME, AND THEN VANISHETH AWAY.”

By Ken Trivette

Teaching Teachers.


Teaching Teachers

With school having started again recently, my life is seemingly consumed with the topic. At home, we have a closet full of school supplies. My desk is covered with textbooks, notebooks, and grade books (metaphorically speaking). So, much of my conversation at this time of the year relates to students and school.

Today, I want to reflect on the teachers. Specifically, I want to consider the Christian teacher and what he or she must do to do this task to the glory of God.

Paul warned Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Too often teachers (and I include public, private, home, college, and Sunday School teachers in this category) focus only on the second half of Paul’s admonition — “your teaching.” We are right to be concerned about this area of our calling. We must insure that our content and our proficiency measure up. We will one day be held accountable for what we do or don’t do in the classroom.

The admonition to pay close attention to one’s teaching, however, is second in Paul’s mind. First, he urged Timothy, the teacher must pay close attention to himself (or herself, since the general principle applies to women as well in this essay). Who we are as Christians makes a difference in what we do as teachers.

We are to examine our hearts and our minds. We are to look at our sanctification and our preparation. The best lecture plans in the world are pointless, if the saving and preserving grace of Christ are not evident in the teacher.

As hard as it is to put together quality lectures and lesson plans, it’s far easier than examining and training one’s own soul. It’s also less painful. But, the latter must inform the former. The depth of our faith drives the quality of our teaching.

The consequences, Paul writes, are great. The eternal destiny of the teacher is at stake. If our hearts are not right, we may lose our souls. Moreover, as Christian teachers, we need to step back and consider our careers in light of eternity as well. What we do bears heavenly weight. The strength or weakness of our faith will fertilize the ground of our students’ souls and may produce wheat or weeds accordingly. As a teacher, we bear great responsibility, even on the spiritual level. To protect their souls, we must look after our own.

As Christians we are all called to make disciples (Mt 28:19-20). As teachers we are making disciples also. We must be careful that the disciples what we create are the type of disciples that God has called us to make.

Thus, Paul warns, “pay close attention to yourselves” first and “your teaching” second. Be sure that you have been schooled by the Master before you try to school the learners.

By Peter Beck.

Peter Beck is Assistant Professor of Religion and Director of the Honors Program at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards’s Theology of Prayer. Follow him on Twitter @DrPeterBeck.

The Treadmill.


Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.” Ecclesiastes 1:4-8

Generations come and generations go.” In 1517 Mar­tin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. That same year Bernard Gilpin was born. He became an English church leader who worked for social reform. He died in 1583, the same year that Simon Episcopius was born. He became a leader of the Dutch church and took part in the Remonstrance of 1610. He died in 1643, the same year that Solomon Stoddard was born. He was the first librarian of Harvard College and the grandfather of Jonathan Edwards.

He died in 1729, the same year that Catherine the Great was born. She was Empress of Russia and brought the ideas of the Enlightenment to the Russian Empire. She died in 1796, the same year that Horace Mann was born. We re­member him as the founder of free public education in the United States. He died in 1859, the year that John Dewey was born. He became a controversial figure for theories regarding the education of children and teenagers. He died in 1952, the same year that I was born.

That’s seven generations spanning 435 years. And I, well, I’ve done nothing comparable to any of those im­portant figures. But I have one great advantage over them. They’re dead and I’m alive. But I will pass off the scene eventually, and someone (many people, to be pre­cise) will be born on the very day I die.

Life is truly short and transitory. Most of us have never heard of the first two names on the list-Gilpin and Episcopius. Theology students might know about Solomon Stoddard. Probably everyone has at least heard of Catherine the Great, Horace Mann, and John Dewey. But all the names grow fainter by the day, dusty remnants of the past. And so, sooner than I prefer, my name will join theirs, and generations will rise up and never know I existed. Surely this is the height of futility.

Isaac Watts said it well: “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.” Those lines from Ό God, Our Help in Ages Past” remind us that only God can give our lives significance. Without Him we are here today, gone tomorrow, and eventually forgotten.

Father, You are from everlasting to everlasting. When the earth itself passes away, You will remain forever. I believe that You are eternal and that Your Son is the light of the world. Amen.

This is 1 of 100 daily devotionals called Something New Under the Sun.

By Dr. Ray Pritchard

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