Dec 16

Family Resemblance

I am the proud papa to four amazing children. If you are to look at a picture of our family, you will quickly notice that I cannot deny the boys. They each have some distinct features that make them look like me. If you spend any amount of time with them, you will quickly find out that I cannot deny any of the four children are mine because they all act like me. But isn’t that the way it is supposed to be? Shouldn’t be able to see ourselves, at least somewhat, in our children? This not only applies to our children, but it certainly applies to God’s children. 1 John 2:16 says, “He who says he abides in Him (Jesus) ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” John is saying, if you claim to be a Christian, you should resemble Jesus.

The book of 1 John is truly an amazing letter. It is written from the standpoint of helping those people to have assurance of their salvation is the are truly saved. The opposite is also true, the letter of 1 John will show you that you shouldn’t have the assurance if you aren’t saved. I believe that 1 John is John’s most straightforward letter. His premise is that we should be able to examine our life, and others should be able to examine our life and know for certain whether or not we are Christian or not. The two questions we should ask ourselves, and they both go together are these; are we living in obedience to God’s Word? Are we doing the things that Jesus told us as we should be doing? If the answer to either question is “no”, then we have a problem. John gives us two indicators that are good tests about our relationship with God. First, are we living in known, habitual sin. This is very important, because a lot of people who claim to be Christian, use God’s forgiveness as a license to sin. If we are genuinely saved, we will not want to live in such a way as to grieve God. Over time, as we grow in our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit will transform us in such a way that we will be grieved by what grieves God. While old habits die hard, we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit in striving to eliminate known sin from our life. The second indicator is our obedience. Jesus plainly says in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” Evidence of our love for Jesus is seen in our obedience to Jesus. Without obedience, we shouldn’t have assurance of our salvation. This doesn’t mean that we will be perfect. But it does mean that we will strive to die to ourselves daily, and when we do sin, we will feel the conviction from the Spirit and confess and repent of our sin immediately. If people put your life side by side with Jesus’ life, would they see some similarity or are we a child of God in name only? Let us confess and repent on any known sin in our life, ask God for power to die to ourselves each day, and make sure that our life points people to Jesus.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 15

He Cares

Among the many difficult aspects of this current pandemic is the isolation that it has brought to many people due to lockdowns. I have said from the very beginning that I am very concerned about a potential mental health crisis coming as these shutdowns continue. We were created by God for community. That is why I feel that isolation is the devil’s playground. When we are alone, he can really go to work on your mind. One of the biggest ways that he does this is causing many people to feel as though no one cares about them. While we are very connected society, it is mainly in superficial ways such as text messages or social media. The true contact that we crave is face to face. When we are use to having people come over and see us and talk with us, and then that stops, we can believe that we are no longer loved. We can think this even when we are aware that there are circumstances preventing normal operations and behaviors. This is why we must really understand what Peter was writing in 1 Peter 5:7 when he wrote, “Casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”

This is a reminder from Peter that we are not alone. There is someone who loves us deeply, and He desires fellowship and communion with us. God invites us to come into His presence anytime, for any reason. He wants us to come and tell Him all of our cares, concerns, stresses, and struggles. The context of the verse is also reminding us that we need to be humble, not prideful. Prideful people don’t ask for directions or help. They also don’t share what is going on in their life, because they think they can handle it or that they can fix it. It takes great humility to be able to admit that you can’t do something, or that a situation is too big or difficult for you to handle on your own. When we are humble, we submit ourselves to those in authority. Peter in the text of 1 Peter 5 is also talking about the need for us to submit to authority. We need to learn to ask God to check our heart and reveal any pride that is lurking in us. We need to ask ourselves the questions, am I being submissive? Am I prayerful over the things in my life, or am I trying to call all the shots and fix it all myself?

I don’t know what you are dealing with right now, but I’m sure you are dealing with something. I also feel fairly safe in saying there has been a time, maybe even now, where you have felt overwhelmed with life. In those moments of fear, anxiety, and worry, what did you do? Did you pray or did you try to work harder or act like it wasn’t there? When the Bible says “all”, it means all. Whatever is on your heart and mind, Jesus says cast it on Me. The word “cast” means to thrown it to or place it upon. In other words, take the burden off your shoulders, and place it on God’s. He is more than able to handle all of our burdens. In fact, Isaiah wrote that He has carried all of our burdens (Isa. 53). God doesn’t want you to walk around with the weight of the world on your shoulders. It is too much for you, but it isn’t too much for Him. What do you need to lay down today? By the way, you might have to lay it down multiple times a day. The key is, every time it comes to your mind, use that as a prompt to pray. Also, remind yourself of all the times that God has answered your prayers and worked situations out. Remembering those will give you confidence that He can and will do it again. So, go ahead, lay your concerns down so you can lift your voice up thanking Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He will do.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 14

The Eyes Of The Lord

How many of you remember the Christmas song, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town? Have you ever sat down and thought about some of those lyrics? “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.” Those are some creepy lyrics! A mystical person is constantly watching us, yet only comes to see us once a year. And what we get is based on whether we have been good or bad. By the way, who’s definition of good and bad is being used? It is “Santa’s” definition. Yet, that definition is very fluid isn’t it, because each “Santa” defines good and bad differently. Not only is it a little unsettling, it also teaches children a wrong theology. There is someone who knows everything about us, and He is constantly watching over His creation. However, God is not doing it to decide whether or not we deserve good or bad; but rather He is watching over us because of His love for us. God’s definition of right and wrong never changes, because He never changes. He knows that we are bad, all of us (see Rom.. 3:10-12). Yet, listen to what Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are opened to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Peter is calling on the Christians to live properly, in a way that glorifies God. Peter here is quoting from Psalm 34:12-16. He is reminding them of the several important truths. First, God is omnipresent. There is not a place that God isn’t. Second, God is omniscient, that is He is all-knowing. Nothing and no one escapes His eyes. However, God knows more than just what we do, He sees the thoughts and intents of our heart the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:12. Next, we see that God delights in His children. Not only is He watching over us, He also delights in answering our prayers. Of course this means that we are praying according to God’s will, and not just praying about things that we want that will not glorify Him. Next, it also shows us that God hates evil. He has a clearly defined standard of right and wrong. Wrong is wrong no matter who commits it. If we are living in sin, the blessings of communion and answered prayers will not be experienced in our lives. This is why we must take sin seriously. Not only does it invite the judgment of God into our lives or the discipline of God, but worse, it breaks our fellowship with God. The fear of the Lord isn’t fearing that God is sitting in heaven just waiting to strike us down when we sin. The fear of the Lord is being afraid of doing anything that would cause God to take His hand of blessing off our life.

I want to address the bad theology I mentioned earlier. It is not my intention to shame anyone for teaching their children about Santa Claus or anything of that nature. It is my intention however to call to our minds that everything we say and do teaches our children, and influences them either closer to God or away from God. The idea of Santa is that he is watching all the children of the world, and if they are good he will bring them presents; however, if they are bad, they will get coal in their stocking. This is teaching our children a works based salvation. They have to “do good” in order to receive blessings or in the case of Christmas, gifts. If they don’t “do good”, then they won’t receive good things. Here is another aspect of the bad theology, it teaches that our love is conditional for our children. Again, if they are good, they receive presents. If they are bad, they get coal. I will be the first to say, I have never heard of parents giving their children coal for Christmas. If that was a real thing, I assure you, I deserved coal! Even though the children don’t know that their parents are Santa, they have the message reinforced that they must be good in order to get good things. Again, I have never heard of parents giving their children coal for Christmas which actually leads to another aspect of bad theology. We are teaching our children to do good in order to receive something, not to do good because they love and know it is the right thing to do. Finally, it sets up this us vs. them mentality or that “Santa” is a respecter of persons. What I mean is that some children get presents, and others don’t. Think of all the children who are homeless or are in foster care right now. Think of the children whose parents have been laid off, and can’t afford to give their children Christmas presents. Yes, there are many organizations who help with this, but not every child gets a Christmas present. You reinforce this thought, especially to those in group homes or foster care, that they have been “bad.” Why else wouldn’t they get a present? Clearly, it’s not these children’s fault, but these are the messages that we reinforce. The reason I write about this a little here is because when children grow up they can transfer the thoughts they had about “Santa” to God. They can believe that God is just like “Santa.” I know this to be the case, because theology is caught more than it is taught. In other words, what our children see in us as parents will largely influence how they look at the world, and interpret events that happen in the world.

I’m not trying to say that if you do the Santa thing in your home you are a bad parent. For the record, I grew up with Santa and the Easter Bunny. I write out of concern for the coming generations. I am the father of four incredible children. Two of them are teenagers now. That means I only have a few more years with them, before they will be moving out as an adult and moving on with their life. I want to make sure that whatever time God gives me with them, I teach them rightly about Him, because that will not only be good for them now, but also for their eternity. If we are going to teach our children about an omniscient, omnipresent person, let’s teach them about God!

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 11

A Living Hope

Earthly hope is a tricky thing. It can cause people to believe in the impossible, but when hope is dashed, it can spiral people into a dark place. When we talk about earthly hope, we are really talking about nothing more than a possibility. The key word of earthly hope is the word “if.” If this happens, then… Or if this doesn’t happen, then….. Earthly hope can cause people to do or to attempt things that they wouldn’t normally do. But when earthly hope lets us down enough times, we become cynical and pessimistic. But earthly hope isn’t really hope. Again, it is nothing more than a mere possibility. But there is true hope. True hope is more than a possibility, it is a confident expectation. True hope, biblical hope isn’t a thing, it’s a Person. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” True hope, biblical hope is Jesus.

Peter is writing to a group of dispersed Jews who have believed in Jesus as Savior and Lord. They are suffering. As Jews, they knew the promises that God had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament. Yet, their circumstances were far from those promises. It is possible that they felt lost, abandoned, and without hope. They probably, like many people today, thought life would be different. We are living in a tricky time right now, because we live in a time best described as, already but not yet. Our citizenship as Christians is already in heaven. We have already passed from death into life. Therefore, we have no reason to fear sickness or death, because we know how the story will end. Yet, we are still living in a fallen, sinful world where suffering and sickness are the norm. We are stuck between knowing the goodness to come while having to deal with the sinfulness of now. This often leads to cynical Christians. Those who say they believe the Bible, yet struggle to see what God is doing in the here and now. They are so focused on what is to come in the kingdom of God, that they don’t see God’s purpose of leaving us here in this fallen, sinful kingdom.

It is with that backdrop, Peter writes that we have a “living hope.” Biblical hope is a confident expectation. What are we confident in and what is our expectation according to this verse? We are confident that God is merciful. Peter says that God is not only merciful, but He is abundantly merciful. Mercy is not receiving what we deserve. Peter is saying, listen as bad as things are just remember that we deserve so much worse. We are sinners by birth and by choice. Because God is holy, we deserve nothing short of Divine wrath. Yet, God has shown mercy and continues to show mercy to us. We are confident that this world is not our home nor is it the final chapter of our life. We have this confidence because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because He lives, those who surrender to Him in faith will live now and for eternity in His presence. This doesn’t mean that this life will be easy or that we won’t have trials and difficulties. Jesus promised that we would have those things. Yet, it means that we can face whatever comes in life with confidence, not in ourselves, but rather in Him. Just as Jesus has overcome the world, those who have trusted in Him have overcome the world through Him. While we walk through this sin-sickened, fallen world full of stresses and struggles, we can patiently wait knowing that there is a better day coming. Not only is there a better day coming, but we also have the presence and person of God with us until that moment. Because Jesus is alive, He is with His children. He has not left us alone nor are we like orphans. So, while we wait on the day in which we are in His presence, we rest and wait in Him. We trust Him in the good times and the bad times, knowing that everything happens for a purpose. While we wait, we worship and praise Him for His abundant mercy and looking forward to the day in which our faith becomes sight.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 10

Reconciled

This is a time of year when friends and family typically gather and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year has been and probably will be different in many ways for Christmas. One thing that is especially sad, but not unique to 2020 is how often those that we need the most, we push away the most. Small misunderstandings turn into grudges which are allowed to fester and become seeds of bitterness. The end result is family members go months and sometimes years without talking to each other. While I will admit that family can be dysfunctional, they are also often the people who can be there for you the most and help you through difficult times. The apostle Paul knew the power of reconciliation and restoration. He knew it because God had reconciled Paul to Himself through Jesus. But we see another reconciliation and restoration in Paul’s life. Years before our text, Paul and Barnabas split over a dispute concerning a traveling companion named Mark (Acts 15). We don’t read about any further interactions between Paul and Mark until the end of Paul’s life here in 2 Timothy. 2 Timothy 4:11 says, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me in ministry.” We don’t know how or when these two reconciled, but the text makes it clear that they had. Paul goes as far as to say that Mark is useful to him. This gives us a powerful picture of the Gospel and how it can reconcile not only God and man, but people as well. Why is this important?

It is important for a few reasons. First, as Christians we are called to be in the business of the ministry of reconciliation (see 2 Cor. 5). To reconcile means to bring two opposing parties into agreement. This must first be done between us and God. The only way that relationship can be reconciled is for you and I to admit that we are the offending party, and to surrender in faith to God’s grace as the only way we can be saved. After this, we need to do everything we can to live at peace with all people as Paul says in Romans 12:18. This means that we willingly overlook offenses and freely offer forgiveness. The second reason this text is important is the witness it gives to a watching world. When you willingly lay down a grudge, and choose instead to forgive and love; you are demonstrating the power of the Gospel. You are saying that in Christ, all offenses are removed and rendered powerless over us. You are declaring that the person is worth more than being right or being vindicated. Finally, it is powerful for your life. Nothing will rob you of joy and vitality like holding a grudge. While you sit and stew over whatever happened, the other person typically has moved on with their life. In some cases, they don’t even realize or remember what happened. Unresolved conflict has led many families to split when they needed to be with each other.

I’m not going to pretend to know all the dynamics of your family or all the nuances of the situation that has led you to where you are. But I do know the power of the Gospel to reconcile and to heal. And in a time in which we seemingly can’t be together, families need each other more than ever. Life is too precious to hold onto a grudge. Don’t let your last words to a loved one be angry words, or worse, no words at all. Surrender the hurt to Jesus, ask for His help and power to forgive so that you can be reconciled and restored to those you are far from right now. That’s a present that money can never buy, and a present that will far outlast the latest and greatest tech gadgets of this Christmas season.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 09

No Fear

I am going to date myself with this a little, but that is ok. Do you remember the “No Fear” shirts of the 90’s? They were sports related shirts. They had sayings like, “Bottom of the 9th, down by three runs, bases loaded, three balls, two strikes, no fear.” I always laughed at those shirts, because those who wore them seldom found themselves in those types of situations. It was all about projecting a belief that you weren’t afraid. We all like to think that we aren’t afraid of anything, but truthfully sometimes we are afraid. Look around at our world right now, people are walking around terrified in many ways. But should we be living in fear? As a Christian, the answer is no we shouldn’t. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him to be bold in his faith, and to live it out. Paul was confident that Timothy was saved, because he had seen the faith in Timothy’s family as well as in Timothy himself. However, Paul knew that leadership can be scary, and so he wanted to encourage Timothy to rely not on his own power, but rather the power that was in him from the Holy Spirit. This is why Paul says that God has given us a spirit. It is not that the spirit is naturally in us. Rather, it is a gift from God to His children to live in dark, uncertain times. The spirit that Paul is talking about is the Holy Spirit. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us. As a result, we don’t have to fear what is going to happen, because we are God’s child now. Where we could not naturally love, the Spirit empowers and enables us to love as Christ loves. And we have a mind that is firmly planted on the truths of Scripture. The ability to love and have a mind focused on Scripture helps us to no live in fear, but rather to walk by faith, knowing that God is always in control.

Yes, we live in uncertain times. Yes, the world can be a scary place. However, for the child of God, we don’t have to live in fear, because God is living inside of us, He is for us, and He will bring us through this world and into His presence in His time. Therefore, when you start to feel fear or worry creeping in, get alone and spend some additional time in the Bible. Remind yourself of God’s promises to you as His child. When you see a world full of hate, respond with love. God can use us to reach people if we rely on Him and choose faith over fear.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 08

Good For Everything

What if you could invest in something that would not only change your present but also change your future? That may sound too good to be true, but for once it isn’t. One reason that many people are feeling unfulfilled in their life is they are investing in the wrong things. That isn’t a judgment, it is incredibly easy to do, but it is also a fact. As Paul continued to give instructions to his protege, Timothy, Paul encourages Timothy to invest his energy in things that matter. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

Let’s be clear here, Paul is not saying that we shouldn’t take care of our physical body. He isn’t saying that exercise isn’t important. Rather, Paul is reminding Timothy that he needs to focus on the eternal things more than the temporary things. There are a lot of temporary things that we invest ourselves in. For some people, it is exercise, others it is their job, for some it is their family, and as strange as this may sound, for some it can be religion. These are things that we can see and touch. They are things that give us a sense of identity and belonging. However, all of those things are temporary. Those things can only change our life right now, and even then it is a superficial change. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can change your life now and for all of eternity. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring true, lasting change. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can give you an identity that is rooted in genuine love, give your life meaning, and help you make sense of what is happening in your life and the world around you. So, let me end this post with a question, is what you are living for right now doing all of that for you? If what you are living for right now isn’t worth dying for, is it really worth living for?

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 07

On Its Way To Someone Else

Have you ever wondered why things happen to you? I confess, sometimes I wonder this when seemingly bad things are happening to me or to my family. I can feel this way when it seems like one thing after another is occurring. Unfortunately, I seldom think this way when good things happen. As painful as this is to say, sometimes I feel like I or my family deserve good things to happen. More than painful, that statement is prideful. It reveals something deep and insidious in my heart that creeps into my mind from time to time. It is a reminder that I need God’s grace and the Gospel each day as much as any person alive. The apostle Paul understood this about himself. I am by no means an “apostle Paul.” It’s just nice to know that I’m not alone in my struggle. Yet, in his first letter to Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy and hopefully us that there is a purpose for God’s grace coming to us. 1 Timothy 1:15-16 says, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all long-suffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”

Paul begins by reminding Timothy of why Jesus came into the world. Sometimes, we as Christians can take for granted certain biblical truths, and it is always nice to be reminded of them. Then, Paul says that he is the chief sinner. It is Paul’s way not only of confessing his need for the Gospel, but also to remind Timothy of his need for the Gospel. Finally, Paul talks about why God saved him, and of course why God saved Timothy. God saved them so that those around them could see the power of God and the Gospel, and so that they could hear the truths of the Gospel. What was true for Paul and Timothy is also true for you and I. As a pastor I enjoy learning from says, “The Gospel came to me on its way to someone else.” In that statement, Pastor Robby Gallaty is stating what Paul is telling Timothy here in our verses. In the first chapter of 1 Timothy, I see two main takeaways or charges Paul is giving Timothy.

The first one is a charge to Timothy to give himself to learning and teaching sound doctrine. Even if you aren’t a Bible teacher, this is an important point for you. There are a lot of false teachers out there promoting false doctrines. If we aren’t careful, it is easy to get sucked into the charisma of a pastor/teacher. When we focus on how they deliver the message more than what message they are delivering, we can miss false teachings being slipped into their message. Charisma is good, eloquence of words is helpful, but neither of them are prerequisites for teaching the Word of God. Content trumps charisma every day! Whether you feel like a theologian as a Christian or not, you are. Every time you open your mouth and talk about God, you are making a theological statement. The way that you and I live is making a theological statement, because how we live reflects what we believe is true. Therefore, we must make sure that our words and our life match and reflect the glory of the Gospel and the truths of Scripture. The other charge that Paul gives here is to share the Gospel. The first charge applies to the church. This charge applies to our relationship with those around us. Paul had a past, it was a checkered past to say the least. Yet, the power of the Gospel saved and cleansed him from it all. God did that not just for Paul’s sake, but also for everyone that Paul would come in contact with after he was saved. The Gospel came to Paul on its way to Timothy and many, many others. The same is true for you and I. We have a past. Yet, if we have surrendered to the Gospel, we have been saved and cleansed from that past. It no longer defines us, Jesus does. We are no longer held captive by our past, instead we have been set free by Jesus in order to be captivated by Jesus. We need to share our testimony. The world needs to hear the hope of the Gospel, maybe now more than ever. God can and will use you, if you will surrender to Him and allow Him to work in you and through you. How can you do it?

You can do this in three minutes or less, and God may use it to impact and change someone’s eternity. Don’t blow past that statement. Go back and read it again, and let the gravity of it sink in. A simple act of obedience and submission on our part could be used by God to change someone’s present and future. Here is the great part, it doesn’t depend on you. It depends on the God who saved you! How can you be used? Here it is. In the first minute, share what you life was like before Christ. Don’t water it down, but also don’t glorify your past sinful life. Be truthful about who you were before Jesus saved you. In the second minute, share how you came to know that you needed to be saved. What was it that showed you your sinfulness, and caused you to cry out to Jesus? Finally, in the last minute share what God is doing and has done in your life. Let them hear of the faithfulness and power of God. Maybe you are thinking, “I can’t do this.” You are right and you are wrong. On your own, you can’t and in fact you won’t. However, if you surrender and submit to Jesus, He will use you to speak confidently and boldly about His amazing grace. And that just might change their life! Just remember, “The Gospel came to you on its way to someone else.” Who will God speak to through you this week?

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 04

Don’t Be Discouraged

Life is hard! I know that isn’t a breaking news worthy statement. It is easy to get discouraged, even when we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic. However, as Christians we can have hope in the middle of trials. The writer of Hebrews has spent the last 10-11 chapters showing how Jesus is better than anything or anyone from the Old Testament. It’s not diminishing those in the Old Testament, it is rather showing all everything in the Old Testament was pointing us to Jesus. He returns to reminding us of Jesus’ example as a way to give us practical application for life in Hebrews 12:3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

There are two key takeaways for me in this verse. The first is that we need to be faithful in our trials. Jesus warned the disciples and all of us that persecution should be expected as Christians. If we are living the life that God has called us to, we are going to live differently than the rest of the world. Because they are still unsaved, the Christian life will seem odd to the lost. One of the strongest witnesses to a watching, unsaved world is a Christian who continues to praise the Lord and have joy despite persecution. It is also an encouragement to be faithful to other Christians. They see us suffering well, and we tell them that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it can encourage them to rely on the Holy Spirit. The second takeaway is to be joyous in discipline. I know that statement seems very strange, and it is. Nevertheless, we are told to to be joyous in discipline, because it will do two things. First, it will show that we belong to God. The writer of Hebrews goes on in chapter 12 to say that if we sin and don’t feel conviction and discipline it is because we don’t belong to God. Second, it will strengthen our faith and make us more like Jesus. The phrase is “produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”

As difficult as persecution and discipline are, they are two vital ingredients to a strong, healthy, and growing faith. Therefore, don’t be discouraged when they happen. Instead, praise God for His faithfulness and His love for you. Then, commit yourself to God’s plan and purpose for your life, and watch what God does in you and through you.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Dec 03

Seeing The Unseen

What separates people like the late Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is that they can see what others don’t see. They are often referred to as visionaries. Who knew that every home one day would have a portable computer, or a computer that fits in your pocket? The answer is Steve Jobs. However, great entrepreneurs are not the greatest visionaries. People of faith are the greatest visionaries. This isn’t to put anyone down. Rather, there is one fundamental difference between the Steve Jobs of the world and people of faith. What the entrepreneurs create will one day fade or fail. What the people of faith are seeing that is unseen is eternal. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Here is the biggest similarity between people like Steve Jobs and people of faith; what they didn’t see was so powerful that is caused them to change how they lived. The essence of faith is primarily seen in how we live. Many people talk about faith from a standpoint of believing something. However, faith that doesn’t change who we are and how we live isn’t really faith. Hebrews 11 is commonly known as the “Hall of Faith” chapter. How do we know that people like Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Moses, Abel, Enoch, and others truly had faith in God? We know they had faith because of how they lived. What this shows us is this, while faith begins in our mind with beliefs, it then moves out into our life. Faith begins in our mind, and then works out through our lives. If we expect people to believe what we believe, they must see us living out what we believe. People should be able to see what we believe. This is what Paul Tripp refers to as our functional theology matching our confessional theology. Until the world sees us living out what we say we believe, they won’t believe what we say. And as much as we like our iPhones and our Samsungs, they won’t get you into the presence of God for all of eternity, only the Gospel will. Let’s makes sure that those around us not only hear what we believe, but they see us living it.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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