It can become very easy for us to slip in and out of church and forget what we really are and what we are really doing. Here is a great little reminder of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.
Excerpt from Keys to The Deeper Life by A.W. Tozer
The true church is a spiritual phenomenon appearing in human society and intermingling with it to some degree but differing from it sharply in certain vital characteristics. It is composed of regenerated persons who differ from other human beings in that they have a superior kind of life imparted to them at the time of their inward renewal.
They are children of God in a sense not true of any other created beings.
Their origin is divine and their citizenship is in heaven.
They worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Jesus Christ and have no confidence in the flesh.
They constitute a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.
They have espoused the cause of a rejected and crucified Man Who claimed to be God and Who has pledged His sacred honor that He will prepare a place for them in His Father’s house and return again to conduct them there with rejoicing.
In the meantime, they carry His cross, suffer whatever indignities men may heap upon them for His sake, act as His ambassadors and do good to all men in His name.
They steadfastly believe that they will share His triumph, and for this reason they are perfectly willing to share His rejection by a society that does not understand them.
And they have no hard feelings – only charity and compassion and a strong desire that all men may come to repentance and be reconciled to God.
Here is a little discourse by Jonathan Edwards on how important our time is. I thought this might be fitting over the thanksgiving break. Enjoy!
Time is very short, which is another thing that renders it very precious. The scarcity of any commodity occasions men to set higher value upon it, espiecially if it be necessary and they cannot do without it. Thus when Samaria was besieged by the Syrians, and provisions were exceedingly scarce, “an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver”–2 Kings 6:25.
So time is the more to be prized by men, because a whole eternity depends upon it; and yet we have but a little of time. “When a few years come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return”–Job 16:22. “My days are swifter than a post. They are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hastes to the prey”–Job 9:25-26. It is but a moment to eternity. Time is so short, and the work which we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity, must be done in time, or it never can be done; and it is found to be a work of great difficulty and labor, and therefore that for which time is the more requisite.
Time ought to be esteemed by us very precious, because we are uncertain of its continuance. We know that it is very short, but we know not how short. We know not how little of it remains–whether a year, or serveral years, or only a month, a week, or a day. We are every day uncertain whether that day will not be the last, or whether we are to have the whole day. There is nothing that experience does more verify than this.
If a man but little provision laid up for a journey or a voyage, and at the same time knew that if his provision should fail, he must perish by the way, he would be the more selective of it. How much more would many men prize their time if they knew that they had but a few months, or a few days, more to live! And certainly a wise man will prize his time the more, as he knows not but that it will be so for himself.
This is the case with multitudes now in the world who at present enjoy health, and see no signs of approaching death: many such, no doubt, are to die the next month, many the next week–yes, many probably tomorrow, and some this night; yet these same persons know nothing of it, and prehaps think nothing of it, and neither they nor their neighbors can say that they are more likely soon to be taken out of the world than others. This teaches us how we ought to prize our time, and how careful we ought to be, that we lose none of it.
I thought this little blurb was very focused and insightful especially in the context of what we have been looking at on Wednesday nights 1 Corinthians 6 and 7:
Tim Keller reflects on why sex before marriage is wrong and unwise:
The modern sexual revolution find the idea of abstinence till marriage to be so unrealistic as to be ludicrous. In fact, many people believe it is psychologically unhealthy and harmful. Yet despite the contemporary incredulity, this has been the unquestioned uniform teaching of not only one but all of the Christian churches—Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant.
The Bible does not counsel sexual abstinence before marriage because it has such a low view of sex but because it has such a lofty one. The Biblical view implies that sex outside of marriage is not just morally wrong but also personally harmful. If sex is designed to be part of making a covenant and experiencing that covenant’s renewal, then we should think of sex as an emotional “commitment apparatus.”
If sex is a method that God invented to do “whole life entrustment” and self-giving, it should not surprise us that sex makes us feel deeply connected to the other person, even when used wrongly. Unless you deliberately disable it, or through practice you numb the original impulse, sex makes you feel personally interwoven and joined to another human being, as you are literally physically joined. In the midst of sexual passion, you naturally want to say extravagant things such as, “I’ll always love you.”
Even if you are not legally married, you may find yourself quickly feeling marriage-like ties, feeling that the other person has obligations to you. But that other person has no legal, social, or moral responsibility to even call you back in the morning. This incongruity leads to jealousy and hurt feelings and obsessiveness if two people are having sex but are not married. It makes breaking up vastly harder than it should be. It leads many people to stay trapped in relationships that are not good because of a feeling of having (somehow) connected themselves.
Therefore, if you have sex outside marriage, you will have to steel yourself against sex’s power to soften your hear toward another person and make you more trusting. The problem is that, eventually, sex will lose its covenant-making power for you, even if you one day do get married. Ironically, then, sex outside of marriage eventually works backwards, making you less able to commit and trust another person. (The Meaning of Marriage, 225-27)
We have two upcoming opportunities for you young men and ladies.
First, on Sunday December 9th we will be serving at a homeless dinner at 10th Presbyterian church. We have done this many times before and it has always been a blessing to us, them, and those that attend. Get in touch with me if you want more details.
Lastly, we are looking to go to Zambia again this summer. The trip will be mid to late June. We usually only take 10th-12th graders(sorry freshmen). If you are interested please get in touch with me soon as possible and I will place you on a list. Once I have more details I will meet with all those who said they were interested and we will move from there.
So please be in prayer about either or both!
Here is the response of one of the missionaries ccphilly supports when Carlos told him we were praying for him. Hope this encourages you!
It’s so encouraging to know about your High School teenagers praying for the ministry I’m doing here in Serbia. That’s so great! Thank you, and please thank them all on my behalf.
Usually, at least here in Serbia, the elderly people are those who eagerly pray for others, and it’s really a happening when the youngsters are praying especially for those they don’t know. So, I told you this so you know how much I appreciate prayers of the youth!
May God bless you all and fill you with joy in all you do for the sake of His glorious name!
With much appreciation,
For all of you who could not join us on the Prayer Retreat this weekend, please remember us in prayer! Look at the example of Epaphras in Colossians 4:12 and pray that God would cause us to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. I think that will be a great summary request for us.
Jared Wilson, in Gospel Deeps, writes that “while we may not be satisfied with what God has revealed about his purposes in suffering, we cannot justifiably say he has not revealed anything about his purposes in suffering. We may not have the answer we are laboring for, but we do have a wealth of answers that lie in the same field.”
Here’s an outline of ten reasons he identifies in God’s Word:
- To remind us that the world is broken and groans for redemption [Rom. 8:20-23].
- To do justice in response to Adam’s (and our) sin.
- To remind us of the severity of the impact of Adam’s (and our) sin.
- To keep us dependent on God [Heb. 12:6-7].
- So that we will long more for heaven and less for the world.
- To make us more like Christ, the suffering servant [Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 1:5, 4:11].
- To awaken the lost to their need for God [Ps. 119:67, 71].
- To make the bliss of heaven more sweet [Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 4:13; Ps. 126:5; Isa. 61:3].
- So that Christ will get the glory in being our strength [John 9:3; 2 Cor. 4:7].
- And so that, thereby, others see that he is our treasure, and not ourselves [2 Cor. 4:8-9].
Here is a little sneak peek of our Bible study tonight:
Know as the Judgment seat of Christ, is seen clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10 and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. This judgment will be only for believers—not to decide salvation—but to reward love, obedience, and devotion.
Christ as Judge:
John 5:22, Acts 10:42-43, 17:31, Romans 14:9, 1 Peter 4:5
God ties His character to the process of rewards:
Romans 2:5-8; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Colossians 3:23-25; Hebrews 6:10, 11:6.
Numerous Scriptural encouragements to consider rewards:
Matthew 5:11-12; 19; 46; 6:1-6; 16-21; 10:40-42; 16:26-27; 18:3-4; 19:20-21; 27-30; Mark 9:33-35; 41; 10:21; 42-45; Luke 6:22-24; 35; 12:33-34; 16:2; 18:22; Galatians 6:9-10; Ephesians 6:8; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Hebrews 10:34-36; Revelation 14:13, 22:12
Criteria of rewards:
1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Matthew 10:41-42, John 4:23-24, John 14:15
Some areas of faithfulness God promises to reward:
Work of Gods kingdom/Discipleship—Matthew 10:41-42
Use of material goods—2 Cor. 9:6, 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Striving as an athlete(are we serious or lax?)—1 Corinthians 9:24-25, 15:58, Philippians 3:13-14
Use of spiritual gifts—1 Peter 4:10
Testimony—James 3:1, Hebrews 13:17, Daniel 12:3
Sufferings—Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Matthew 5:11-12, Hebrews 11:38
Crown of life—James 1:12, Revelation 2:10
Crown of righteousness—2 Timothy 4:8
Crown of glory—1 Peter 5:4
Crown of rejoicing—1 Thessalonians 2:19
Incorruptible crown—1 Corinthians 9:25
Eating of the tree of life, or hidden mana—Revelation 2:7 &17
New names/white stone with a new name—Revelation 2:17, 3:12
Places of service—Revelation 3:12
Responsibility/Authority—Luke 12:42-44, Matthew 25: 21 & 29, Revelation 2:26-27, 3:21
Praise—Matthew 25:21, 8:38, Luke 9:26, 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Peter 1:7
Glory—Matthew 13:43, Romans 2:10, 1 Corinthians 15:40-41, Revelation 3:5, Daniel 12:3
God Himself—Revelation 2:28, Genesis 15:1, John 17:3
Reality of Loss for those who Ignore Rewards:
1 Corinthians 3:15, 9:24 & 27; Matthew 6:1-2; 4-5; 16; Galatians 2:2; Philippians 2:16; Colossians 2:18; 2 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:28; 2 John 8
Hence, we should live for heavenly rewards because:
1) They are a sign of God’s love and pleasure. The crown on our head is a physical expression of His pleasure. Rewards are the joy of His joy.
2) They bring God glory as eternal memorials of His work—John 15:8. We will view our rewards with the same ownership as Moses did the parting of the Red Sea! It’s all about Him!
3) They are better stewardship of our real heavenly lives, home, citizenship, and treasure—Matthew 6:19-21
4) They are the reality of God’s true and eternal pleasures which if we ignore we are left with only the false and temporal enjoyment of worldly and sinful pleasures.
These lists are by no means exhaustive and there are many other Scriptures to look at and find. Enjoy!
Here is a great article by pastor Thabiti Anyabwile on spiritual warfare:
It seems to me that many (most?) theologically conservative Bible believers (which includes me) don’t think very much about spiritual warfare. Maybe it’s because there are some wacky Christians who seem to only talk about spiritual warfare. Or, maybe it’s because it all sounds a bit spooky or scary. Or, perhaps we don’t talk about it much because we’re infected with the skepticism of modernistic and “scientific” thinking, leaving us to disdain “all that spiritual warfare stuff”? I don’t know. But I’m thinking that if we don’t have categories for spiritual warfare, then we’re probably losing the war in some area of our Christian lives.
But, what reader of the New Testament can doubt the reality of our struggle in the spiritual realm? Just one classic example:
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in he heavenly realms (Eph. 6:11-12).
Our Enemies in This War
We have three enemies in this warfare: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Or, because I’m feeling oddly poetic: Of my enemies there are three/Satan, the world, and me. These enemies were and are deadly to us:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world [the world] and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient [the devil]. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts [the flesh]. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath (Eph. 2:1-3).
These three enemies have a particular relationship to one another in their warfare against us. The Devil, that serpent of old, is “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). As such, he governs the world system in an effort to hide the truth about God:
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 Jn 5:19).
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4).
The world, under the sway of the evil one, is a system of thoughts, values, ideas, and actions that expresses real hostility toward and rejection of God and God’s people. The world is irreconcilable to God–so much so that to embrace the ways of the world is to join the world in hostility toward God.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 Jn 2:15-17).
So, Satan has distorted and sabotaged the world God made, inventing a system that remains intractably hostile toward the Creator. How does the world join the assault against the Christian? Well, the world attacks by conspiring with and beguiling the Christian’s flesh, the sinful desires and thoughts that remain in the Christian. Let me use four biblical comments regarding the Law as an illustration:
So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. … Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (Gal. 4:3, 8-9).
In the context, stunningly, Paul’s references to “the basic principles of the world” include the very law of God which was our school master, supervising us until the coming of Christ (3:23-25). The apostle regards the law’s regulations about touching, tasting, and celebrating as part of the basic principles of the world:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. …Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules (Col. 2:8, 20).
Satan governs the world to make an attack on the Christian through their flesh in a lot of ways. By God’s grace we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices. I’ll mention three. First, he uses the world to conspire with our flesh by blinding the Christian with an ineffectual religious asceticism:
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence (Col. 2:20-23).
Second, Satan uses the world to strengthen our conspiring flesh so that we might neglect living in/by the Spirit of God:
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature [the flesh], God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Rom. 8:3-8).
Third, Satan uses the world to blind us to the fact that our sin nature is the root cause of our sin and temptation:
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).
How do we fight back?
First, since our own desires and thoughts are the battleground of this warfare, we must put our flesh to death.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom. 8:12-14).
A dead flesh cannot be a tempting flesh.
Second, since the world conspires with our flesh against God, we must cultivate a holy hatred against the world system.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:2).
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).
Third, constantly mortifying the flesh and renewing our minds and affections for God, we must take our stand against the devil:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. …Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm, then… (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-14).
Of course, all of this is only possible if Christ Jesus the Son of God is our Victor and our hope is in Him who crushed the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15), who brought judgment against the world and drove out its prince (John 12:31), and by His Spirit crucifies our flesh (Rom. 8:13; 2 Pet. 1:4).
The basic strategy for our warfare: Kill the flesh. Hate the world system. Stand against the devil.
Fight happily because we everyone in Christ overcomes the world by faith in the Son of God (1 John 5:1-5).
Here is a quote from William Law that convicted me so I hope it does the same for you!
I come now to consider that part of devotion, which relates to times and hours of prayer. I take it for granted, that every Christian, that is in health, is up early in the morning; for it is much more reasonable to suppose a person up early, because he is a Christian, than because he is a laborer, or a tradesman, or a servant, or has business that wants him. We naturally conceive some abhorrence of a man that is in bed when he should be at his labor or in his shop. We cannot tell how to think anything good of him, who is such a slave to drowsiness as to neglect his business for it.
Let this therefore teach us to conceive how odious we must appear in the sight of Heaven, if we are in bed, shut up in sleep and darkness, when we should be praising God; and are such slaves to drowsiness, as to neglect our devotions for it. For if he is to be blamed as a slothful drone, that rather chooses the lazy indulgence of sleep, than to perform his proper share of worldly business; how much more is he to be reproached, that would rather lie folded up in a bed, than be raising up his heart to God in acts of praise and adoration!
Prayer is the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of Him, that we are capable of in this life. It is the noblest exercise of the soul, the most exalted use of our best faculties, and the highest imitation of the blessed inhabitants of Heaven. When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires to the throne of grace, we are then in our highest state, we are upon the utmost heights of human greatness; we are not before kings and princes, but in the presence and audience of the Lord of all the world, and can be no higher, till death is swallowed up in glory.
On the other hand, sleep is the poorest, dullest refreshment of the body, that is so far from being intended as an enjoyment, that we are forced to receive it either in a state of insensibility, or in the folly of dreams. Sleep is such a dull, stupid state of existence, that even amongst mere animals, we despise them most which are most drowsy.
He, therefore, that chooses to enlarge the slothful indulgence of sleep, rather than be early at his devotions to God, chooses the dullest refreshment of the body, before the highest, noblest employment of the soul; he chooses that state which is a reproach to mere animals, rather than that exercise which is the glory of Angels.