Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Faith in His Sovereignty

The small book of Habakkuk is one that is often not preached or studied, but it has a powerful message. Habakkuk begins by doubting God's plan in how He chose to deal with the sinful nation of Judah before the Babylonian Captivity. He couldn't understand why God would allow them to continue to live in such evil, and even more he could understand why God would use a more sinful nation by which to judge Judah.

But the Lord told him what he would do, and said that the just shall live by faith. The wicked do not live this way, but the righteous do. This statement in Habakkuk is also quoted in Romans, and it is this phrase "the just shall live by faith" that rocked Martin Luther 500 years ago. We live how we live as a result of our faith. We don't do what we do in order to get faith. So, as believers we are to live our lives trusting God, having faith in His plan, and being faithful to what He has called us to do.

Maybe we don't know God's plan for our lives clearly, maybe we can understand what He is doing, maybe we can't imagine why God would allow certain things to happen in our lives or certain people to "prosper" and other to suffer. But we can take comfort from Habakkuk and know that the just live by faith.

May we not forget God's faithfulness, His love, His compassion, and His perfect plan. When Habakkuk came to understand all of this and to see what God was doing he broke forth in song in the last chapter (ch. 3). Look at how he closed the book:

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail, And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.

May we rest in His sovereignty and live by faith in the One who planned the end from the beginning.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Perseverance of the Knee-bending Saints

In Colossians 4:2 the Apostle Paul called upon the saints to persevere in prayer. Paul writing from prison didn't ask them to pray for him to be freed. His concern was that the saints carry on the ministry of prayer and not to let their leader's imprisonment cause them to abandon prayer. He didn't see his circumstance as something that should cause them to get discouraged, but rather that they should continue on in prayer being watchful!

Oh don't the disciples wish they would have prayed that way upon Jesus' command in the Garden of Gethsemane? You and I have an opportunity to continue on in prayer watchfully with an attitude of thanksgiving. So, what are you doing? How are we praying during these dark days in which people abandon truth, and do that which is right in their own eyes?

Paul told the Colossians in the next two verses (4:3-4) to pray not for his release, but for a door to be opened for the furtherance of the gospel. He also asked for prayer so that he would speak the gospel clearly.

May we continue on in persevering, watchful, thankful prayer for the furtherance of the gospel! May God give us the words of truth in that moment, and may we communicate it clearly and in love!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Truth Quote of the Week

Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.
—Benjamin Disraeli


Monday, February 11, 2008

Endurance in Ministry

I have chosen to read John Piper's The Roots of Endurance, because I believe that we need to read about the lives of other saints who have endured through many difficulties. I haven't read the whole book yet, but what I have read has been very encouraging. It is always very motivating and encouraging for me to read about the lives of those who have gone before us in the cause of Christ, and to see how they endured for the glory of God.

I think one reason we may struggle with endurance in ministry today when the times get tough is because of our mindset. Piper, I believe, rightly describes today's Christian culture in the following way, "There is a mind-set in the prosperous West that we deserve pain-free, trouble-free existence...I have found myself in conversation with Christians for whom it is simply a given that you do not put yourself or your family at risk. The commitment to safety and comfort is an unquestioned absolute" (p. 18). I find this to be so true. I think we as Christians often expect to have an easy ministry, with a lot of visible success and fruit, and with little hardship. We tend to look at this type of ministry as a mark of God's blessing upon our faithfulness to Him and of our faithful preaching of His Word.

But what about Joseph? What about David? What about Moses (Heb. 11:24-26)? What about Paul? All of them were very faithful and yet experienced extreme hardships. These seem to be the normal experiences of most in the Bible. Should we not reevaluate our western, 21st century mentality and ask if the way of the cross for us may just be that of these great men of faith? Should we not look at trials as a mark of God's blessing (Phil. 1:29)?

Piper says, "Frustration is normal, disappointment is normal, sickness is normal. Conflict, persecution, danger, stress--they are all normal. The mind-set that moves away from these will move away from reality and away from Christ" (p. 19).

Can trials not be a result of doing something good for the Lord? Are they not a mark that we are in a spiritual battle? Are they not being used by God to sanctify us? One friend recently shared, "I believe God cares more about our own sanctification than about what we can accomplish for Him." I agree. He can't very well use an unsanctified vessel to accomplish much for His holy name.

So when evaluating our ministry I believe it is important to remember those who have gone before us. May they be our example (Heb. 12:1-2)! May they serve as a root of our endurance in ministry! May we resist the temptation to look at difficulties in ministry as a reason to get discouraged and give up, or to choose an easy way out. The deeper the trial the greater God's grace, and the greater our faith will be if we endure!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Christian Liberalism and Islam

Christian Liberalism to no surprise opens its arms to Islam.

As quoted in the Christian Post, Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity said, "churches are moving away from central doctrines that teach about separation and instead conforming to secular society’s ideology of inclusion." He went on and said, "when faced with the uniqueness of Christ we become inclusive. He loves everybody so we talk about love, and hell and damnation goes out the window. It becomes too embarrassing. So our church has conformed itself according to society.”

The Christian Post also states, "Christians are afraid to admit that only believers in Jesus Christ will be saved and others – Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists – are lost, because that would be arrogance in a society dominated by secular humanist ideology, Sookhdeo argued."

How sad. Just throw up one's hands and seal one's lips. Is that truly what Jesus called us to do? Have we forgotten what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 10? He said it would be difficult, but they must continue to preach the truth!

Now the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams suggests adopting Sharia Law in the United Kingdom! Thisislondon.co.uk has an article on his latest outrageous comments.

This is Christianity gone mad! In fact, I don't believe we should use the word "Christian" or "Christianity" to describe such people. They stand for everything the Bible is against. This is the same Dr. Williams that suggests using the Simpsons to teach youth theology!

May we not be afraid to take a stand in this age when people call good evil and evil good! This liberal, post-modern philosophy and teaching is Satanic and is an abomination before a Holy God!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mitt Romney for President

I registered in the State of California to vote on Super Tuesday, but they have not filed our application in order for us to do so. And after seeing the presidential campaign come down to two men running for president in the Republican primary, I have decided to publicly state who I would vote for if I could vote on Tuesday. I endorse MITT ROMNEY for President.

From a spiritual standpoint I understand he is Mormon. But he stands for life and is far more conservative on many other issues than John McCain who has abandoned conservative positions time and again. If you disagree with me or would like to persuade me to change my vote, please post a comment.