Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Finding Hope in a Holy God

Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. Isaiah 6:3
Be holy because I am holy. 1 Peter 1:16

Finding Hope in a Holy God

There is a song – a lot of times for me it is a song that moves my heart. This particular song has not only moved my heart, but it has also given me a whole new vision of the holiness of God. The song talks about the holiness of God and how we will all fall face down before Him and declare Him holy in heaven.

A million angels fall
Face down on the floor
All to echo, "Holy is the Lord"
My heart can't help but sing
With all of Heaven roar
Forever echo, "Holy is the Lord"
(Echo Holy by Red Rocks Worship)

No matter how many times I listen to it, it never gets old. It always brings me to tears and takes my breath away to think of that sight. A million angels falling face down before Him calling Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. I can only imagine what that day will be like. It has made me think a lot about what I believe about God, and this has led to a deepening and growth in my relationship with Him – a Holy God who cares about me when I am so unworthy of even a thought from Him. We will all be there one day – standing before Him, roaring with all of heaven of His holiness.

Have you ever really thought about the word Holy and what is means? Holiness is one of the attributes of God, which means something about God that is true. They are His inherent qualities. They are who He is. Unless we understand Who He is, we will seek after something else. And once you do understand this about Him, you will know there is nothing else to turn to but Him. Holy means set apart. The holiness of God sets Him apart from everything else. He is sacred and pure, and holiness is His very nature. He doesn’t have to try to be holy – it is who He is.

The magnificence of a Holy God makes me painfully aware of the sin in me. Just looking at myself, my life, my circumstances, this world - there is nothing that brings hope to my heart like Holy God. Because He is holy – pure and eternally incorruptible – He is set apart from our sinful existence. We cannot come to Him the way we are in our unholiness. We are left with no hope if this is the truth. But because Jesus came, because He covers us with His shed blood, and because we are declared holy the moment we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we can kneel before His throne and freely worship Him forever.

Holiness is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times. That is not a fluke. Everything in God’s word – every numerical pattern – is there for a reason. R.C. Sproul says this about the holiness of God - On a handful of occasions the Bible repeats something to the third degree. To mention something three times in succession is to elevate it to the superlative degree. Only once in Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love or mercy, mercy, mercy or justice, justice, justice.

John Piper has this definition of God’s holiness: God’s holiness is His infinite value as the absolutely unique, morally perfect, permanent person that He is and who by grace made Himself accessible — His infinite value as the absolutely unique, morally perfect, permanent person that He is. Our goal is to be holy as He is holy. We can never be holy like God, but it should be our goal in everything we do to be holy as He is holy.

Jesus was the Promised Hope because without His birth, His life, and His sacrifice, we are still dead in our sin. There is no hope in this world – no hope on earth. The only real hope we have is in our eternal life. No matter what happens, that can never be taken away. Illness can claim our health and our loved ones. Tragedy takes from us and people misuse and abuse us, but the hope we have in Jesus – it is safe forever. He is the Promised One who can defeat death, sin, shame, and guilt, and impart His righteousness to us, so we can go before a Holy God - the only true hope we have.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Faith and Hope...They Go Hand in Hand

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait for the LORD (Psalm 27:14). Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. —Hebrews 11:6

Bring Hope

How do you bring hope to a world that is so full of tragedy and evil?  And what is hope exactly?  This past Sunday in church we lit the hope candle on the Advent wreath.  Advent is a season of waiting and preparing – waiting and preparing for the coming of the only hope for you, me, and this fallen world.

Hope is defined as: 1. to desire with expectation of obtainment. 2. to expect with confidence : trust. —True hope is more than just a wish.  A wish is more of a dream and Hope is more of a possibility or something that one can look forward to. Hope is usually something that is doable and have a huge potential to happen.  The objects of hope are different for everyone.  For some, hope is waiting for financial relief from excessive debt.  For some, hope is waiting for healing in a broken relationship or marriage.  For some, hope means waiting for miraculous healing from disease or illness.  For some, hope means never giving up believing that a child that has strayed will come back to how they were raised. For others, hope means hanging on day after day and trusting God in a seemingly hopeless life.  Hope can be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in a life burdened by sin and shame.  But for all of these the only real hope they have is in someone or something outside themselves.

Faith and hope…they go hand in hand

In order to have real hope, we must have faith.  Faith is as strong as that which it believes in.  Real hope is based on a strong faith in a loving God.  It took many, many years for the prophecy of the coming King to finally come about, and truthfully, many of those watching and waiting probably lost hope and faith as well.  But He came.  He came and He brought hope to a hopeless world.  The gift of the baby in the manger was realized hope.  He came as man, lived and died on the cross for us so we could have eternal life, and hope.  We cannot save ourselves and we cannot save each other.  Jesus is the one and only true hope for all. He came as one of us and lived, died and rose from the dead.  We now live in the hope that He is coming again!   

This Christmas season prepare your heart and make room for the coming Christ.  Celebrate His birth and embrace the hope that is Jesus Christ.

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

Monday, November 28, 2022

Hope is Born

 Monday, November 28, 2022 Some material taken from Promised Hope

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for yhe who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Hope is Born

Advent. We celebrate this season every year. It is a time of expectant waiting, excitement, and reflective preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus – the Promised One – the Promised Hope. This season is marked in most churches by four Sundays leading up to Christmas where we focus on Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. We began yesterday with Hope. 

Hope is a very misused word these days, and one we lay a lot of weight on. We hope for a lot and stake our joy and peace on the things we hope in. Unfortunately, a lot of us are hoping in the wrong things. There has only ever been one true source of hope.

When God created the world, He made a perfect world. He made a perfect man and woman, who lived in a perfect place, in perfect harmony. They were in perfect harmony with each other and with the world. Together they lived a life of worship to the creator. There was no need for hope. 

God described the natural order and gave purpose to humanity – to glorify God by working and taking care of the garden, and to be fruitful and multiply. and He described the supernatural order with Him as the “boundary maker.” He gave them boundaries because He loved them. All He gave them was good – abundant life – if they lived within the boundaries He gave. But if they stepped outside those boundaries, they would exchange that abundant life for brokenness because of sin, which leads to consequences – which leads to hopelessness. Adam and Eve made that exchange and lost the abundant life they had. They rebelled against the boundaries God had given them, boundaries meant not to take the fun out of life, but to keep them safe. What He had given was the best. The moment sin entered the garden, they realized their nakedness. Their reaction was to sew fig leaves together to try to cover their sin.

Satan is the father of lies and he deceived Adam and Eve and they fell to that temptation. He deceived them with a lie and a promise he could not fulfill. He told them he could give them something better than what God had for them, but that could never be. Today he still deceives and tempts God’s children, and we still fall. He tries to make us believe that what he offers is better than God’s abundant goodness and sometimes we believe it, only to be left more hopeless in the end. Like Adam and Eve, we also sew our own “fig leaves” to try to cover our sin. We try every way to solve our own problems, but it all leads to hopelessness. The blood of Jesus is what we need to cover our sin. The consequences of sin cause despair and hopelessness. 

Sin causes hopelessness. Sin always makes promises it cannot fulfill. But the shed blood of Jesus brings the cleansing that washes us whiter than snow and gives eternal hope – a hope that never dies out and is stronger than and hopeless circumstance we may face. There is nothing on earth that can extinguish this eternal hope. 

Adam and Eve were desperate in their sin, shame, and guilt, but God still pursued them with grace, mercy, and compassion. They still had consequences, but He gave them a Promised Hope. Part of the consequences of sin was that we (all of Eve's offspring) will be at war with Satan and we are. But God said their would be One - One offspring that would defeat Satan, a rescuer for us, the Promised Hope. God delivered the very first Gospel message to Adam and Eve, and all mankind that day. The first promise of hope. Jesus.

Maybe this season of Advent finds you completely hopeless. Maybe every direction you look in your life offers nothing but despair. My prayer for you is that you look to the Promised Hope – Jesus. He is the only hope we have. Maybe you are desperate in your sin, shame, and guilt, but God is still pursuing you just as He did Adam and Eve. He chases us with grace, mercy, and compassion. He covers our sin, so we do not need to sew more and more and more leaves to cover up. Everything around you may be broken, and you may feel nothing but discouragement. There is no hope to be found on this earth – not in any person or thing. Anything we put our hope in besides Jesus Christ will only lead to hopelessness because He is the only true source of hope. Let this Advent season be a time for you to realign your life and your hope to Him – the one true source of hope. The Promised hope. 


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Promised Hope

Sunday, November 27, 2022 

Promised Hope

The advent season is a chance to really focus and prepare our hearts and minds on Christ and all that His birth means for us. Not a ‘reason for the season’ but a directing of my heart and actions towards this belief: He is good, He is trustworthy.

Creation - Marked by Its Order and Purpose; And Characterized By Its Harmony

The purpose of humanity is clear. 

God placed humanity in the garden and described the natural order
God described the supernatural order with Him as the boundary maker.  

The Fall and Its Effect

God has an enemy who seeks to harm God through the destruction of His creation.  

In one act harmony was exchanged for brokenness

Where there was once perfect harmony, we introduced complete brokenness by our rebellion.

God’s Faithfulness and Compassion

In the depths of mankind’s despair God responds with love and a Promised Hope.

The Promised Hope

Adam and Eve were able to endure, b/c they had a Promised Hope in the form of a Rescuer.

Hope has a source that is stronger than my present circumstance.

Hope Delivered

Excitement of the Rescuer’s arrival 

Just as Adam and Eve were clothed with the body of the first sacrifice to cover their guilt and                   shame, we have the offer from Jesus to be covered by the righteousness of His perfect sacrifice1 Peter 3:18

Spreading Hope

We need an urgency in sharing this great hope that is offered as a remedy for the greatest need of all people. 

We are also to encourage one another, and to be a conduit of hope to one another, in the various trials our fellow believers are enduring.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of North Side Baptist Church

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

- Psalm 100

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

A Life of Gratitude

 Wednesday, November 23, 2022 Some material taken from Living in Gratitude

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…  Ephesians 5:15-20

A Life of Gratitude

As babies we are completely dependent on someone for every single thing. We needed someone to feed us, change our diapers, and keep us warm, dry, and safe. They did everything they could to keep us happy and content.  As mature believers in Christ we are taught that contentment is found only by trusting and resting in the Lord. As we grow, we begin to understand that accepting God’s will in the losses and gains in this life leads to an inner calm and a surrender to complete trust and rest in Him. 

Before we get to this place of contentment, we sometimes seek to find contentment in all the wrong places. Our souls become restless, and we think we can find contentment somewhere else, but the idols that we run to make us content for a while, until they don’t. Then we move on to the next thing, person, job, etc., that won’t do it either.  In the process, we can end up doing a lot of damage to our lives and the lives of those around us. This restlessness comes from many different things such as a long season of waiting, an unanswered prayer or an answer we did not want, shattered dreams and more.

We run and run until we have nothing left, but at the end of every wrong road is Jesus, waiting to give us exactly what we are looking for.  We make the choice as to whether we are going to choose Him this time or keep running. If we are ever going to find contentment in God, He has to wean us away from all these things we have been looking to fulfill us When we finally realize that true contentment can only be found in Him, we can live a life of gratitude. Contentment leads to gratitude. 

Before we can be content, we have to be ready. We have to want it. God has to do some work in our hearts before we are primed to accept the best He has for us. 

How God Weans Us from the World

·  First, He makes the things of the world bitter to us – It is a relief when God makes the things of the world bitter to us. At some point the things we so desperately seek after will leave a bitter taste in our mouth. This is the sweetest bitterness, and most welcome. That doesn’t mean it might not still be a temptation sometimes, so we have to guard our hearts.

·  Second, he removes one by one the things on which we depend – When we are before Him stripped bare of everything that we have been depending on and have nothing, we are ready to surrender to Him. We know at this point that we do not need anything but Him. Nothing else matters now. Here our eyes are opened to the false security and false hope we have put in other things. 

·  Third, he gives us something better. The dependence we have on Him is the only thing we can’t do without at this point. We do not need anything more than we need Him. 

God takes away the “good” things to give us something better – real and true contentment in Him. He gives us what nothing else in this world can and when we find contentment in Him, we can live a life of true gratitude. We can be thankful, not because we have what we want, or our life is perfect. We can be thankful because we finally understand that we have everything we could ever hope for in Him. Unlike the circumstances in our lives, the number in our bank account, His love for us will never change. We can depend on Him and find contentment in Him that is safe forever. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Intentional Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced… Psalm 105:1-5

Its Thanksgiving week and hopefully you are thinking a little more about all the blessings you have.  If you are not, then stop and take a moment to really reflect on the many blessings in your life.  Then take action to let God and those special people in your life know just how grateful you are.
Intentional Thanksgiving
It is not enough to be grateful TO someone, but we must also be grateful FOR something. 
Too often we don’t spend enough time reflecting upon the specific ways in which God has blessed us. But to be truly thankful, we must be grateful FOR something.
If we would not be careless with God’s blessings, we must be careful to remember them. 
The psalmist calls his people to "remember" the wonders of God. (Verse 5) He knew how prone we are to forget. He knew how easy it is for us to focus on our trials, to be weighted down with care, to overlook the many, simple blessings we enjoy in life.
O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations…   Psalm 105:6-8In the passage above the psalmist begins to mention specifically the good “deeds” of God and that God remembered His covenant forever.  God keeps His promises to us and He does what He says He will do.  His promises are like a door prize.  If you claim it, it is yours but if you don’t claim it, it is no good to you.  You have to believe and claim the promises of God and then be grateful to Him for His everlasting mercy, love, and faithfulness.
Take some time to perform this simple exercise. 
1. Sometime soon (today would be best) get a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. 
2. Give each of the columns one of the following headings: God, People, Things
3. Then, begin to list the things under each column for which you can be thankful. Don’t rush through it. Take time to remember. 
4. When your list is completed, take it before God in prayer and deliberately, one by one, thank Him for the things on your list. 
5. Then, you might want to thank the people on that list for how they have been a blessing. Write them a note, call them on the phone, or give them a hug the next time you see them. 

There is so much to be thankful to God for.  His faithfulness to keep His promises, His loving kindness, His mercy, His grace, His sacrifice to give us eternal life, and the list could go on and on.  Take some time this holiday to really focus on all He is and the blessings He gives.  

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. 
Hebrews 12:28-29

Monday, November 21, 2022

Giving Thanks In When It is Hard

 Monday, November 21, 2022

Thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 The Message

Giving Thanks In When It is Hard

When tragedy and hardships come, as Christians, we are often surprised. We have an underlying expectation that God wants us to have a happy life and He will orchestrate everything in our path to make it happen. When this doesn’t happen, we struggle to understand what is happening, and the last thing on our minds is a posture of gratefulness.

But Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we are to always thank God, no matter what is happening in our livesThank God no matter what happens: We don’t give thanks for everything, but in everything. When we recognize God’s sovereign hand is in charge, and not blind fate or chance, we can trust Him and that we can be thankful even in hard things. 

Real Thanksgiving is an everyday, good and bad, easy and hard, no matter what, posture of thanks for the blessings we have and hard things that make us grow. These are the things that help us realize how much we really need Him and bring us closer to Him. In the end, the hard things and painful experiences, the bitterness of the world and the failure of those we depend on more than Him teach us the greatest lesson of all. There are no greater blessings than those that open our eyes, lays bare our hearts before Him and strengthens our relationship to Him

We are not thankful for the pain, loss, trials, but we can be thankful for the way they bring us closer to Him. In the midst of these we reach for Him fast and hard. We cling. We cry out. We can be thankful because He is there. We can be thankful that He is in control, even when it feels out of control. 

It is a delicate balance to experience hard times and understand, and be grateful for, the bridge it builds that takes us straight to Him. We won’t feel grateful for what has happened, but we can feel grateful for our Heavenly Father who wants the best for us. We can trust Him and accept whatever His good is.   

Be thankful in the valley.

Be thankful in the dessert.

Be thankful in the shattered dreams.

Be thankful in the loneliness.

Be thankful in the darkest night.

It goes against everything we feel to be grateful in times of sorrow and pain. Yet that is what we are called to do. Even in sorrow and pain we can have a posture of gratefulness for God – Who He is and what He has done – because no matter what our circumstances are, that does not change who He is. He is worthy of praise. He is good and His character and power are beyond what we can know. And - This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. It isn’t easy but we can do it because this is what God wants us to do. This is how He wants us to live. The testimony of our lives should be an example to the rest of the world because they will definitely be watching how we live out our faith, or not, in times of trials and heartache. 


We can give thanks in hard times because of His faithfulnessEven in times of trial, we can count our blessings and remember what God has done. God allows us to go through hard times, but whatever happens to us in this life, we have a hope for something better. This life is not the end for us. We are to live for the life that is to come, not this one.

There are some horribly painful things in life that some may have to go through and giving thanks seems impossible. God understands our pain. He cares and He is patient with us. The most beautiful sound to Him has to be gratitude through the veil sorrow. If we can show Him we are thankful even in “this,” we are showing Him that we understand who He is and that who He is has nothing to do with what is happening in our lives. So we are not thankful for these things, but thankful in these things, because we are called to be thankful in all things – because He is always good.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Living in Gratitude

Living in Gratitude 

Psalm 131

It’s possible that you’ve never noticed Psalm 131 before. It only has three verses, so you might tend to overlook it as being not very important. But that would be a mistake because this little chorus by David is quite powerful.  Rev. Charles Spurgeon said that this Psalm is “one of the shortest to read, but one of the longest to learn.”

I.    The Spirit of Gratitude - v1a

A core part of true thanksgiving is understanding that I am not the full source of my blessings.

An overdeveloped sense of entitlement blocks gratitude.

II.  The Attitude of Gratitude - v1b

Arrogance and pride lead to advertising one’s ignorance.

Meddlers are people who butt into other people’s lives with shallow advice on deep matters they know little about seeking praise for their wisdom.

To know Godourselves and our duty is our responsibility.  All else belongs to God.

III. The Condition of Gratitude - v2

Happiness requires contentment.

The first lesson in the school of life: growing up involves painful losses that can lead to wonderful gains.

An immature believer seeks God for what God can do for them. A mature believer seeks God for who He is and to have a relationship with Him and love Him.

God sometimes has to wean us away from good things in order to give us better things.

Existing in an abnormal “normal” is a sign of a surrender to the person or circumstance that has entangled us.

To be weaned is to have something removed from your life which you thought you couldn’t live without.

How God Weans Us from the World

He makes the things of the world bitter to us. 

He removes one by one the things on which we depend

He gives us something better

IV.      The Result of Gratitude - v3

Real hope is to place your faith in someone not something.

Our present circumstances are the womb out of which new blessings and opportunities will be born.  Romans 8:28

If you are not looking forward to the future as a Christian you can't enjoy the present or be grateful for your past.



Friday, November 18, 2022

Unified In The Mission Of Sharing The Gospel

Friday, November 18, 2022 Some material taken from The Church I Want to Serve

For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of grace with me.  Philippians 1:7            

Unified In The Mission Of Sharing The Gospel

You and I gather together for worship today because Jesus sent Peter to Cornelius in Acts 10, and the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas out in Acts 13. And, because the Philippians were grateful to have received the gospel, they saw the need and supported Paul in his journeys from there.

All these years later, the mission of the church has not changed. We are still called to spread the Good News and make disciples. Our job is just as important as that of the 12 Apostles that Jesus sent out. Jesus is sending us out as well. There is a hurting and very confused world that is seeking something. They don’t know what it is, but we do, and we have what they want. We can share the truth that will fill the void they are desperately trying to fill. 

Paul was thankful and feeling joyful for the Philippians because they had stood beside him and supported him in his trials for the gospel. They had also received the same grace he had - you are all partakers of grace with me… They knew what the spreading the gospel meant to Paul and it meant the same to them.

When we are unified in our mission in the body of Christ, or as North Side Baptist Church, the world sees the value of what unifies us. As we are unified we are stronger and when we work in unity for the same mission, we support one another in ministry. We support one another in doing what the Lord asked us to do - And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20

The gospel is good news because without it we have no hope. We are sinners and deserve nothing but death. And we have absolutely no hope of saving ourselves. But God - Who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do Ephesians 2:4-10 

This is why we have to share to gospel. People need to hear that there is hope in a Living God. He is their only hope. Hope is in short supply in this world these days. This why we should be unified and focused on sharing this hope as Jesus asked us to do. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Press In and Press On

Thursday, November 17, 2022 

Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Press In and Press On

If we were to be honest… both forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead can be hard. We can easily get entangled in the messes we have made and let them hold us back. 

We can also get slowed down by fear of the future, all the “what ifs,” and unknowns.  We can get so wrapped up in what might happen tomorrow or down the road that we miss today. There are things God is calling us to do today. Right now. We can miss His calling for today because we are either looking back or fearing the future.

God never intends for us to be stuck in the past – or held back by past mistakes and bad choices. He also never intends for us to be paralyzed in fear of the future. We have this beautiful freedom in Him. He has forgiven our past and has taken care of our future. All He asks is that we trust Him – trust Him in the salvation He gives from all past sin and mistakes and trust Him with all the unknowns of the future. He broke the chains. He opened the prison doors. He sets the captive free. We are free, but whatever we allow ourselves to be captive to will hold us back. He is already in our tomorrows, and any problem we can imagine, He already has solved. He just asks us to trust Him.

Here Paul says to “Press on…”  Look at these definitions of the word “press.”

To move or cause to move into a position of contact with something by exerting continuous physical force. – When we try to press on – we will bump up against resistance that is working to keep us from pressing on.

To apply pressure to (something) to flatten, shape, or smooth it, typically by ironing. – We will definitely experience some pressure when we press on.

Pressing on will not feel good some days, and it may even be a little painful. We use it to rally the troops, and to encourage each other (which is absolutely good!), but when we press on, we can be sure that we will be pressed in two ways.

We will be pressed by God – as He shapes us and molds us for His purpose and His glory. To press on there will be some things that need to go – that need to be pressed out of us. There will be some pressing by God to mold us and there will have to be some good ol pressing to get us to move at all some days.

Satan will surely press us as we try to move forward. He wants us to be held back by our past, our mistakes, or bad choices, and by our fear of the future. This fear keeps us from stepping out in faith and landing in the good things God has planned for us. We don’t give up the good because we are afraid. But God wants us to let go of the” good” to have what He has for us – the better. 

No matter how hard it is to press on, there is one thing we cannot do – we cannot lose faith. If we lose faith, we cannot press on. We can hold onto our faith by pressing into Him. Press in and press on. 

This is such a beautiful picture of the only we can make it through this life, pressing into Him for all we need, and pressing on in His strength and power. This is where the “mature” part comes in. Let those of us who are mature think this way… As we grow in Christ, and by some trial, and a lot of error, we realize that pressing into Him is the only thing. It is the only thing that brings peace, makes us feel safe, satisfies the longing of our souls, and anything else we ask the world to give us. Only pressing into Him gives us what we need and truly want. And it is the only thing that will give us the strength to press on to complete the journey to reach the goal – the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus – the prize of all prizes. Focus on the goal to achieve this upward call, not the past, not the unknown future, and not the circumstances surrounding you.

Eyes on the prize, press in, and press on.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Unified in Love for One Another

 Wednesday, November 16, 2022 Some material taken from The Church I Want to Serve

For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:8-11

Unified in Love for One Another

Without unity in the body of Christ, we cannot do the work of the Lord. If we are not unified, we are all trying to go in different directions - our own desired direction. Self-centeredness results from disordered affections. They have elevated their affection for their own preferences and have ignored or overlooked the needs of others. If we are focused on ourselves, we cannot be fully engaged in participating in the Lord’s work. We either operate out of love for ourselves, or love for God and others. There is no room for both. 

Once our affections are disordered, it seeps into every area of our lives and when the affections of a congregation are disordered, it can be destructive to the fellowship. This is exactly what Paul was seeing in the church in Philippi and he was determined to stop it before it got any worse. Because of this concern for them Paul prayed four specific things for this church:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment… v9 There is no such thing as too much love. No matter how much we love we have for others, we can still have more! But Paul wants them to be discerning in their love - Testing what is believed to be true against God’s word and discerning when a selfish spirit has taken root. Discernment in love would approve the things that are excellent

So that you may approve the things that are excellent…v10  Paul wanted them to carefully choose between what is excellent and what is not. Anything that does not line up with God’s word is not excellent and whatever draws our focus away from Him is not a good influence in the body of Christ or in our own personal lives. When we don’t have a standard in our lives, we settle for less than excellent.  Excellent is what God wants for us, and so many times we fill our lives with good thinking we don’t deserve excellent. We settle. Or we see something or someone as excellent because of our own selfish desires but if we were to get self out of the way, we would discern that it is not excellent in God’s eyes. 

In order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ…v10  Authenticity is Paul’s message here, to not have ulterior motives. When we approve what is excellent, and walk with the Lord, we can be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. Only in His grace and forgiveness can we be blameless before Him. Only in His strength can we walk a path here on earth that keeps us blameless. 

Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ…v11  When we abide in Christ, there will be fruit.  The true meaning of abiding in Christ is Welcoming it, being at home with it, and living with it so continuously that it becomes part of the believer’s life, a permanent influence and stimulus in every fresh advance in goodness and holiness. (Tasker) Living with Christ and His Word so continuously that it becomes a part of who we are is where the fruit of righteousness comes from – from a relationship with Him. When we are so entwined with Christ, fruit will always be the result. 

 To the glory and praise of God. v11 – abiding and bearing fruit in Him will always lead to the glory and praise of God.  He pours into us and we in turn pour out to those around us – spreading His goodness and glory to them. 

Unity in the body of Christ is so important because anywhere there is a hole in that unity, Satan tries to get in. When he gets in, he does everything he can to try to destroy the unity in the body. We also quickly begin to focus on ourselves when there is no unity.  

Paul is reminding his readers that love is the main thing. Love is the thing that keeps us unified – unselfish love that focuses on others and not on ourselves. Our unity in love in the body of Christ makes us stronger to do His work, and it is a testimony to those around us. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35  
Being unified in this kind of love helps us go out and love others the way we are supposed to.

All of these things really come down to one thing – abiding in Christ. If the body of believers is abiding in Christ, their affections will not be disordered, they will have knowledge and discernment, approve what is excellent, and remain sincere and blameless until the day of Christ – bearing the fruit of His righteousness for His honor and glory and praise.  

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Bond of Working Together for Christ

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1:3-5

The Bond of Working Together for Christ

Paul wrote many letters to many churches while he was in jail – or house arrest. Philippians was written to the church in Philippi, a church he founded on his second missionary journey, making it the first church established on the continent of Europe. 

Paul begins with the endearing words; I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…  Paul loved the Christians at the church in Philippi and he had many happy memories of them. He was very grateful to them for the generosity they showed him, and he was thankful to God for working through them. They had partnered with Paul in spreading the Gospel by backing him financially. They trusted him and had faith in God.  

Paul spoke of offering this prayer with joy, even though he was imprisoned and possibly facing execution. That seems like some of the worst circumstances anyone could face, yet Paul was joyful when he was praying for the church. He was joyful because of the unity he saw in their congregation as they worked together. 

It wasn’t about Paul boasting in joy over what he had created among the believers in that church. He was joyful because of what God had done among them and their obedience and surrender to His leading. They were unified. They were unified in several things as a result of their submission to God and this is what brought Paul such joy in the midst of such personal hardship. 

One of the ways they were united was in their participation of the Gospel. They were active in their faith and beliefs and committed to spreading the Gospel. They helped Paul financially and they physically went out and shared the Gospel themselves. This is the most important thing we are called to do as Christians. We do many other things like meet physical needs, but Jesus’ last words to His disciples – and to us – were to go and make disciples. He tasked us with the honor of carrying on the work of the Kingdom that He started while here on earth. 

Brother Van talked about koinonia being fellowship that is never passive.  It is always linked to action, not just being together, but also doing together. We have work to do. Bible study and worship and fellowship are amazing gifts, and it is how we make it through this life. But He uses us to do the work of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. The result is two-fold because the blessing we will receive from doing His work, together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, will fill our hearts and propel us onward. 

Paul’s joy was made complete, as the church in Philippi came together in unity, and I can only imagine the joy it brings the Father and the Son to see the body of Christ today coming together in unity today to do the work He called us to do.

Devotional Archive