Happy New Year! I realize we’re well into January at this point, but given how little time I have to blog it’ll have to do. Over the weekend, I was encouraged by this passage from Psalms and the reminder it offers of the gospel’s promise to believers. So I wanted to share it with all of you too. There is no better news in the world than the news that God offers mercy and does not repay us for our sins, but rather Christ Jesus took them on himself to free us.
Psalm 103:8-13 ESV
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
DC, Maryland and Virginia locals. Do you want to learn more about persecution? There’s a fantastic opportunity this coming weekend. Voice of the Martyrs is holding a free conference Saturday April 7, in Vienna, Virginia.
Speakers will include Gracia Burnham, Brother Bennie of India, Petr Jasek who spent 445 days in a Sudanese prison, and Gilbert Hovsepian. The event is free, although they prefer you RSVP through the VOM site.
I highly recommend taking this opportunity if you live in the area. I traveled to Pennsylvania for a conference like it a year or two ago and was so blessed by the testimonies and overall event.
Days before the resurrection, Jesus told his disciples again that he would be leaving them. Surely this had to be a crushing blow to his dear friends. But he also promised that he would not leave them “as orphans.”
This message from Pastor Matthew Hoskinson of the First Baptist Church of Manhattan examines that passage (John 14) and dives into what Jesus meant as well as the promise of the Holy Spirit that He sent to his followers (including us today). I hope the truth in it ministers to you today.
Bible link: John 14 (ESV)
Happy Easter everyone! I hope you wake up today and are reminded, yet again, that Jesus is alive! He is our continuing and eternal hope of salvation, thanks to his resurrection from the dead. Hallelujah!
Mark 16: 1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Well, honestly I’ve spent much of this year riding the roller coaster from discouragement, uncertainty, anger, and pain to hope, optimism and faith and back around again. The most recent instance has just been another circumstance which brought pain and worry.
A few days ago, I’d looked up Bible verses about worry and anxiety and was punched in the gut with Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I am always thankful for God’s grace when a verse like that lays me out flat. While I pray often, I also fail regularly to “not be anxious.”
The following day, I really didn’t want my worries and fears to consume all my thoughts as they had been doing. As I brought all of that to the Lord in prayer that morning, many things ran through my head. My need to repent and confess of my sins of worry, and control and fear was a large part of it, and it was in that time of prayer I finally realized all those were symptoms of having placed my faith in myself regarding the situation rather than placing it in God. Again, ouch.
Another great song to encourage you this week:
Perhaps this sounds like a strange admission, but there have been times in my life when I had no church home. While I believe those were legitimate absences, upon reflection, I may have learned more about the need to be part of a church when I didn’t have one than the many years I did.
When I first moved to Washington, D.C., finding a good church was a challenge. It took many visits to find and settle in a church I thought was committed to the truth. Then, after roughly a year there, God opened my eyes to some serious false teachings entrenched there. I was devastated. After trying and failing to make any headway against the teachings, I left.
It was painful and discouraging time in my life. I missed the fellowship, the community, I missed hearing the Bible taught regularly. I missed singing praise aloud to God with other people. But church visit, after church visit, I kept spotting the same problems. And it wrecked me. The discouragement got the better of me and I gave up for awhile.
I was judged by some Christians during that time, which made it even harder to want to find a church again. I want to be clear – I never gave up my faith in Jesus. I didn’t somehow lose my Christianity because I wasn’t attending church on Sundays. During my absence, I also read my Bible and listened to podcasts and sermons when possible. Thankfully, that season did not last forever, and I eventually found churches I could regularly attend again and eventually even consider my home church.
But I learned some things during that season that I think are important and sharing them could help others. Continue reading
Sermon number seven from the Grace to You series I’ve been working my way through, “Pillars of Christian Character,” is about joy. We know from Galatians that joy is one of the fruits of a spirit-filled and spirit-controlled life. It also may be my favorite character trait.
This sermon looks at how it should be a part of church life, the command to rejoice regardless of circumstances, what sin does to joy and other biblical passages about this essential character trait.
The sixth sermon in the Grace To You series that I’ve been listening to once a week is all about forgiveness.
Speaking for myself, forgiving others can be a struggle at times. I’m glad I was reminded and chastised through this message. You can listen to it here.
Following last week’s love sermon, the next in the Grace to You series of sermons from Pastor John MacArthur is focused on unity.