Charles Spurgeon called the local church 'the dearest place on earth'. He had good reason to when you look at what the Scripture says about the Bride of Christ. Ed Stetzer lists 10 reasons
from Scripture as to why the local church matters:
- The church is the only institution that our Lord promised to build and to bless (Matt. 16:18).
- The church is the gathering place of true worshippers (Phil. 3:3).
- The church is the most precious assembly on earth since Christ purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 5:25; Col. 1:20; 1 Pet. 1:18; Rev. 1:5).
- The church is the earthly expression of the heavenly reality (Matt. 6:10; 18:18).
- The church will ultimately triumph both universally and locally (Matt. 16:18; Phil. 1:6)
- The church is the realm of spiritual fellowship (Heb. 10:22-25; 1 John 1:3, 6-7).
- The church is the proclaimer and protector of divine truth (1 Tim. 3:15; Titus 2:1, 15).
- The church is the chief place for spiritual edification and growth (Acts. 20:32; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:18).
- The church is the launching pad for world evangelization (Mark 16:15; Titus 2:11).
- The church is the environment where strong spiritual leadership develops and matures (2 Tim. 2:2).
Think it matters to the Creator & Redeemer? It sure does!
Does it matter to you?
Work in Scripture is always in an ultimate sense done to the glory of God as serving Him.
Colossians 3 says, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men
, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ
Did Adam & Eve serve God in the perfect world before the Fall? Yes. Are we to serve God since the Fall? Yes. Will we serve God in Heaven? Yes, according to Rev. 22:3-5.
It was only the Fall that placed the curse on our work. That curse will be lifted and work will be in done in our glorified state for the worship of Christ.
What will that work in heaven include? Jonathan Edwards takes a shot at answering that question in a sermon and puts it this way: "The happiness of the saints in heaven consists partly in that they there serve God
A poem by John Bunyan. Somewhat humorous, yet very serious. Parents, don't shirk your role and indulge your children's flesh. Indulge their souls with redemptive grace that disciplines (Titus 2:11-12).
UPON THE DISOBEDIENT CHILD
Children become, while little, our delights!
When they grow bigger, they begin to fright’s.
Their sinful nature prompts them to rebel,
And to delight in paths that lead to hell.
Their parents’ love and care they overlook,
As if relation had them quite forsook.
They take the counsels of the wanton’s, rather
Than the most grave instructions of a father.
They reckon parents ought to do for them,
Though they the fifth commandment do
They snap and snarl if parents them control,
Though but in things most hurtful to the soul.
They reckon they are masters, and that we
Who parents are, should to them subject be!
If parents fain would have a hand in choosing,
The children have a heart will in refusing.
They’ll by wrong doings, under parents gather,
And say it is no sin to rob a father.
They’ll jostle parents out of place and power,
They’ll make themselves the head, and them
How many children, by becoming head,
Have brought their parents to a piece of bread!
Thus they who, at the first, were parents joy,
Turn that to bitterness, themselves destroy.
But, wretched child, how canst thou thus
Thy aged parents, for that great delight
They took in thee, when thou, as helpless, lay
In their indulgent bosoms day by day?
Thy mother, long before she brought thee forth,
Took care thou shouldst want neither food nor
Thy father glad was at his very heart,
Had he to thee a portion to impart.
Comfort they promised themselves in thee,
But thou, it seems, to them a grief wilt be.
How oft, how willingly brake they their sleep,
If thou, their bantling, didst but winch or weep.
Their love to thee was such they could have
That thou mightst live, almost their part of
But now, behold how they rewarded are!
For their indulgent love and tender care;
All is forgot, this love he doth despise.
They brought this bird up to pick out their eyes.
We can talk about free will all we want, but we have to face the biblical truth that our choices are directly tied to our desires and our desires apart from God's grace are self-serving. Consider the words of Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Werkes, 33:288–289):
"For my own part, I frankly confess that even if it were possible, I should not wish to have free choice given to me, or to have anything left in my own hands by which I might strive toward salvation. For, on the one hand, I should be unable to stand firm and keep hold of it amid so many adversities and perils and so many assaults of demons, seeing that even one demon is mightier, than all men, and no man at all could be saved; and on the other hand, even if there were no perils or adversities or demons, I should nevertheless have to labor under perpetual uncertainty and to fight as one beating the air, since even if I lived and worked to eternity, my conscience would never be assured and certain how much it ought to do to satisfy God.
For whatever work might be accomplished, there would always remain an anxious doubt whether it pleased God or whether he required something more, as the experience of all self-justifiers proves, and as I myself learned to my bitter cost through so many years.
But now, since God has taken my salvation out of my hands into his, making it depend on his choice and not mine, and has promised to save me, not by my own work or exertion but by his grace and mercy, I am assured and certain both that he is faithful and will not lie to me, and also that he is too great and powerful for any demons or any adversities to be able to break him or to snatch me from him."
Ht: Tony Reinke
...when we turn to the intercession of Christ at the Father's right hand in the present age, we must not think of Christ as somehow begging, cajoling, or bribing the Father to be merciful. Rather, we should think of the heavenly session of Christ as involving the mutual delight of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the accomplished work of the Incarnate God and as rejoicing in the great work of salvation. The Father does not hear the Son's intercessions unwillingly or impatiently; he takes pleasure in hearing the Son and in granting his requests, for in a very real sense the intercessions of the Son are the deepest intentions of the Father as well. The very presence before him of the Son with his wounded hands and side is a source of immeasurable satisfaction, pleasure and joy.
This should fill believers with confidence as they pray. We need no intermediary other than that which we already have in God Incarnate. Read the rest
. HT: Z
Because I have family from my Mom's side and my wife's in Michigan, I can relate with a lot of these!
~ You show people where you're from by pointing to a spot on the back of your left hand
~ The only place in the world you can experience all four seasons in one day.
~ You've never met any celebrities.
~ At least one member of your family disowns you the week of the Michigan / Michigan State game
~ You know how to pronounce "Mackinac." and get annoyed when other people can't.
~ You've had to switch on the heat and the air conditioning in the same day.
~ Your little league game was snowed out.
~ Your year has two seasons: Winter and Construction.
~ Driving in the winter is better because the pot-holes are filled with snow.
~ Your favorite holidays are Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the opening of deer season, which you consider a national holiday.
~ You have experienced frostbite and sunburn in the same week.
~ You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."
~ You know that UP is a place not a direction.
Thoughts on heaven from Jonathan Edwards for Micaela on a sad day:
"On these accounts the saints in heaven must needs be under a thousand times greater advantage than we here…"
"When God gave man his capacity of happiness, he doubtless made provision for the filling of it. There was some good that God had in his eye when he made the vessel, and made it of such dimensions, that he knew to be sufficient to fill it and to contain which the vessel was prepared; and doubtless that, whatever it be, is man’s true blessedness."
"But the fountain that supplies the joy and delight which the soul has in seeing God is sufficient to fill the vessel because it is infinite. He that sees the glory of God, he in his measure beholds that there is no end of. The understanding may extend itself as far [as] it will; it doth but take its flight out into an endless expanse and dive into a bottomless ocean. It may discover more and more of the beauty and loveliness of God, but it never will exhaust the fountain. Man may as well swallow up the ocean as he can extend his faculties to the utmost of God’s excellency."
"How blessed therefore are they that do see God, that are come to this exhaustless fountain! They have obtained that delight that gives full satisfaction; being come to his pleasure, they neither do nor can desire any more. They can sit down fully contented, and take up with this enjoyment forever and ever, and desire no change. After they have had the pleasures of beholding the face of God millions of ages, it won’t grow a dull story; the relish of this delight will be as exquisite as ever. There is enough still for the utmost employment of every faculty."
Forgiveness is a tough issue--so much so that Jesus says that those who don't forgive won't be forgiven by his Father. So the question is, if it's that serious, what exactly is forgiveness? And what isn't forgiveness. Sam Storms tries to answer that here
I'm reading a short book (75 pages) that fleshes out the ministry of the Word in the life of the church and the world called One to One Bible Reading-A Simple Guide for Every Christian
. So far it's excellent, exciting, and simple and practical for unleashing the Word in your community. Here's a quote from the opening of chapter 2:
Reading one-to-one is a variation on that most central Christian activity—reading the Bible—but done in the context of reading with someone. It is something a Christian does with another person, on a regular basis for a mutually agreed upon length of time, with the intention of reading through and discussing a book or part of a book of the Bible. In the book The Trellis and the Vine, the authors dream about this idea: Imagine if all Christians, as a normal part of their discipleship, were caught up in a web of regular Bible reading—not only digging into the Word privately, but reading it with their children before bed, with their spouse over breakfast, with a non-Christian colleague at work once a week over lunch, with a new Christian for follow-up once a fortnight for mutual encouragement, and with a mature Christian friend once a month for mutual encouragement. It would be a chaotic web of personal relationships, prayer, and Bible reading—more of a movement than a program—but at another level it would be profoundly simple and within reach of all. It’s an exciting thought! This simple idea could influence the growth of the gospel—not only in your own life but in the lives of your family members and friends as well. More specifically, there are at least four tangible benefits to reading one-to-one…