Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Desires of the Heart

by Garth Gaddy

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

In this season of commercialized Christmas, man’s desire-based life is on full display. Television, radio, internet and newspaper are all used to stoke the fire of our fleshly desire and get us ramped up to buy the next big thing. Our fleshly response to the above verse is to focus only on the second half—getting the desires of our heart. But God is not our personal genie. Shouldn’t we rather be interested in what God desires for us? What His will is for us?

As believers our desires should be aligned with God’s desires. That is where the first half of the verse comes in—to delight ourselves in the Lord. So how do we get to the second part of the verse, God giving us the desires of our heart? First, we need a God-affected heart.

John MacArthur, in his sermon “Found: God’s Will,” gives us six steps to delighting in the Lord and aligning with His will.

  1. Salvation: This sounds obvious but must be recognized as foundational. It is impossible for an unbeliever to know God’s will because he cannot accomplish the next steps without the Spirit of God.
  2. Spirit-Filling (Eph. 5:18): We must saturate ourselves in His Word for Him to be in control.
  3. Sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3): Exercising control over our bodies. Become conformed to the image of Christ in every way.
  4. Submission (1 Pet. 2:13-17): Submit to the authorities God has placed in your life.
  5. Suffering (1 Pet. 3:17, Mt. 10:24-25): Suffer according to the will of God. Be willing to stand up and be counted for Christ. If you live a godly life in this society, you will suffer.
  6. Choose. That’s right–choose! If the above five steps are in place, God will have implanted His righteous desires in your heart and you get to choose, knowing that you will be deciding within His will.

Delight yourself in the Lord; He will then implant in you righteous desires, and you get to choose.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bah Humbug...

by Adam Bailie

Each year I face a struggle unique to advent and the Christmas celebration, and I am quite sure that many would attribute my struggle to Scrooge-likeness. Every year of my adult life, I have battled to genuinely enjoy a season that revolves around commercialization at the very highest level. I have found the pressure to purchase gifts and cards, and to pay an exorbitant electric bill in the name of holiday cheer a real roadblock to a Christ-centered Christmas. Everywhere I turn, a false superficial joy is offered through possessions and wealth. It is a lie that robs Christmas of its true life-giving and joy-inducing truth…Jesus Christ, the God-Man who has come from heaven for the salvation of sinful humanity.

American Christmas traditions can be both enjoyable extras and dangerous temptations for our church family, which leads me to ask a few pointed questions for your benefit. If Jesus Christ and the miraculous incarnation is the very reason we are celebrating on December 25th, how will you practically pursue His centrality in your actual celebration? Will Jesus merely be slipped in right before or after presents with a reading of the incarnation narrative, or will He dominate Christmas? With presents, family, White Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life, and mounds of food, how will you be distinguished as Christians this Christmas? These are questions we must ask and must answer. Why?

In Colossians 1:16, Paul reminds us that all that is exists through the creative power of Christ and for the glory of Christ. This is our life as Christians; we live to make the glory of Christ known in everything we are and do. So unlike Scrooge, who was so miserly that generosity was His worst imagination, we Christians have another reason to be concerned about Christmas. American Christmas endangers the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ and His miraculous and gracious condescension to earth for the sake of salvation of sinners like us. So, let’s band together for the sake of our Christ, and make this Christmas unique. Unique in that it begins, revolves around, and ends with the glorious reality of the Lord Jesus…Immanuel, God with us!
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Letter from Lucio Stanisci

Dear Adam, leadership and church family,

We want to express our gratitude for your decision to adopt us as your missionaries. We praise our Lord the way He led you. It is particularly moving to me to see, not only that you were unanimous in the decision but that you are investing much in us! Thank you! This gives us the conviction that the Lord wants to use your church consistently in our ministry. We are VERY grateful and VERY excited! Please extend once again our words of thanks to the leadership and the church family.

We want you to know that despite the sadness for the passing of my mother-in-law caused by her grievous spinal injury, the Lord has been encouraging us in our ministry. At the moment we are collaborating with four different churches, two of which are located in Rome. This has been very encouraging to us especially knowing that the Lord is the one who directs our steps. We can also see in this a potential development for a future Theological Academy in central Italy.

We are currently praying and asking for guidance in our decision regarding our final destination this coming June. I can confidently say that, at the moment, we see many open doors for the city of Rome. The increase of our needed monthly financial support gives us further confirmation that the Lord is leading us this way.

We want to thank you again for adopting us as your missionaries. It is a great privilege for us especially knowing how many beloved brothers and sisters we have in Kingsburg and that we are bonded in and by the truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We wish you all a blessed Christmas season.

In Christ,
Lucio Stanisci
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Who Do You Say That I Am?

by Ken Harvey

He [Jesus] said to them [the twelve disciples], “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” –Matthew 16:15-16

Peter’s confession was one of the great turning points in our Lord’s earthly ministry. Jesus proclaimed that He was the fulfillment of two prophetic promises: that He was the long awaited Messiah and that He was Son of the Living God. It is important that we understand who Jesus is since He spent years making sure that His disciples understood before He revealed His death and resurrection (Matt. 16:21).

Jesus is the “Christ” or “anointed one.” In the Old Testament, someone who was anointed was set apart and consecrated for God’s work and received special empowerment by the Spirit. Likewise, Jesus was ordained by the Father and anointed by the Spirit to do the work of His Father. He was set apart at His baptism to be our Prophet, Priest, and King. As our Prophet (Acts 3:22), Jesus reveals God to us. Without Him, we would not truly know God. As our Priest (Heb. 7:24), Jesus bridges the gap between man and God. Only He, the God-man, can represent us before a thrice holy God. As our King (Ps. 2:6; Eph. 1:20-23), Jesus is the Sovereign Lord. He is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant–the king in the line of David that rules forever.

Jesus is the Son of the Living God, a title used to declare that the second person of the Trinity humbled Himself by becoming fully man (His incarnation). It is a title also used to describe His future exaltation.

Once the disciples understood who Jesus was, He then communicated His mission: that He would die, paying the penalty of sin on behalf of sinners, and be raised from the dead. In this holiday season, let us think biblically and specifically about who Jesus is. He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came to die as the penalty for sin.
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