Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Last Days Madness

Living in the Last Days

The most crucial question about the return of Christ is not the “when” question. The most important perspective on the last days has nothing to do with the geo-political landscape. The most vital issue in eschatology is not how to survive the tribulation.

The most fundamental question is asked by the Apostle Peter: “What sort of people ought you to be…?”

Our pressing concern is a practical, ethical, and moral concern for how we live our lives.

Last Sunday we looked at some (okay – a bunch of) texts which speak of the character we should exhibit as those living in the “end times” (which, by the way, have been going on since the resurrection of Christ!). But in this article let me just add three lessons from three stories Jesus told in Matthew 25:

1. The parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) – Keep watch and keep your lamps burning. The coming of Christ will happen when you least expect it (even if it seems delayed). So be ready at any moment. Stir up your heart with love for Christ by the “oil” of the Holy Spirit!

2. The parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) – Take risks for the kingdom. Don’t play it safe out of fear. Invest yourself in kingdom pursuits and watch God cause the increase.

3. The parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-45) – Love indiscriminately and sacrificially. Look for those in need and meet those needs. It could be the poor, the prisoner, the sick, or sorrowful. In loving those with such needs you are loving Jesus. And when he comes he will personally thank you!

So let’s leave the speculation to the “last day’s madness” crowd and be the people we ought to be!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

Friday, September 24, 2010

Where does God work?

Last week we looked at the topic of “Does My Work Matter to God?” Our word matter because God is also a worker!

Psalms 111:2 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.

Isaiah 64:4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working."

I want us to consider where God is at work. He is at work in each of our lives (Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”) And God is at work around the world – and he calls us to join Him in His work!

One of the exciting/scary ways God is at work is pushing back the darkness in areas of the world where Christ is not known. We are excited to join him in this work through our participation in a great missions movement.

Recently the president of our “tribe” (the Christian and Missionary Alliance) wrote a report on the movement of God in our county and in four key areas of the world. I would highly encourage you to click the link and read it for yourself (President’s Report).

And as you read, ask yourself this question, “How is God calling me to join him in his work?”

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

He rejoices over us..

He rejoices over us � Of First Importance:

“How heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in his saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God’s people cannot take much delight in us, for they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us.”

- Charles Spurgeon, Morning & Evening, September 21"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.

What do we give to God when we really don't feel up to giving much? God is not hungry or needy. Therefore he does not want our offerings of food or service to him. What he does want is a thankful heart:

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
“and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:14-15

But what do you do when you feel so beat down, stressed, or in need that you can’t muster up a grateful and thankful heart? The car is in the shop (again!), the jobs are tenuous and scarce, the kids are having problems, etc… Feelings like that are what I call a “Day of Trouble”! And what do we do in the day of trouble? We call upon the Lord for deliverance. And we start counting our blessings.

Here’s my list:

  • Food (I haven’t missed a meal!)
  • A/C, refridgeration, running water, indoor plumbing, electricity
  • A lake to swim in
  • Health Care
  • Breakthroughs (Janna got a job!)
  • Air to breathe
  • Breath!
  • A heart beat
  • Friends I could call on at anytime
  • Etc, etc, etc!

Now, add to those all the treasures we have in Christ:

  • Forgiveness of sin
  • Power of regeneration
  • A sovereign and loving Father
  • Prayer that is heard
  • Union with Christ through faith
  • Jesus – my example, savior, victor
  • Indwelling Holy Spirit
  • Hope of a great inheritance
  • Etc, etc, etc!

All of these (and more) become my “sacrifice of thanksgiving”. They also talk me off the ledge and calm my heart.

So call upon the Lord in the day of trouble. He will deliver you and you will glorify him. How will we glorify him? By our thankful hearts!

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me” Psalm 50:23

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Luther on Depression...

This week I have invited Martin Luther to share his thoughts on spiritual depression. In this letter he counsels Prince Joachim of Anhalt, a mutual friend of Luther and Nicholas Hausmann, on how to deal with apathy, burn-out, and depression. Enjoy!

"Be merry, then, both inwardly in Christ himself and outwardly in his gifts and the good things of life." Luther

“Your Grace has Master Nicholas Hausmann and many others near at hand. Be merry with them; for gladness and good cheer, when decent and proper, are the best medicine for a young person - indeed, for all people. I myself, who have spent a good part of my life in sorrow and gloom, now seek and find pleasure wherever I can. Praise God, we now have sufficient understanding [of the Word of God] to be able to rejoice with a good conscience and to use God's gifts with thanksgiving, for he created them for this purpose and is pleased when we use them.

If I am mistaken in my judgment and have done Your Grace an injustice, I hope that Your Grace will be good enough to forgive me. But it is my opinion that Your Grace is reluctant to be merry, as if this were sinful. This has often been my case, and sometimes it still is. To be sure, to have pleasure in sins is of the devil, but participation in proper and honorable pleasures with good and God-fearing people is pleasing to God, even if one may at times carry playfulness too far.

Be merry, then, both inwardly in Christ himself and outwardly in his gifts and the good things of life. He will have it so. It is for this that he is with us. It is for this that he provides his gifts - that we may use them and be glad, and that we may praise, love, and thank him forever and ever.

Old age and other circumstances will in time render present depression and melancholy superfluous. Christ cares for us and will not forsake us. To his keeping I commit Your Grace forever. Amen.

Your Grace's willing [servant],
Martin Luther, Doctor.
The eve of Pentecost in the year 1543

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Free Excellent Audio Book... - "Spiritual Leadership (Unabridged) by J. Oswald Sanders
With more than 500,000 in print, Spiritual Leadership has proven itself a timeless classic in teaching the principles of leadership. J. Oswald Sanders presents and illustrates those principles through biographies of eminent men of God - men such as Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, David Livingstone, and Charles Spurgeon."