Monthly Archives: July 2010

God’s Relentless Love

“God’s love is relentless in its determination that we be cured of our sins, at whatever the cost to us or to Him.”  -C.S. Lewis

Plumb the depth of our sin with the plumb-line of Christ’s suffering; mark the breadth of His love for us by His willingness to exact the price. The cure for sin cost God dearly. It was put on display by the bloody sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

And what does it cost us?

On the other side of redemption, perhaps a lifetime of obvious sin and ruinous living is the pathway to the cross. For others, it is a terrible awareness that their lives are like whitewashed tombs, appearing beautiful on the outside but inside full of dead man’s bones and all uncleanness.

On this side of our salvation it costs the denial of self, taking up our own cross daily and following Him. A willingness to identify with His suffering may be the price we pay. The oft times arduous way of sanctification. Perseverance until the end. A life of obedience. The mortification of the flesh. But, whatever the cost to us, it pales in significance to and hinges entirely upon what He has already done for us. 

Either way, understanding that our sin affliction can only be cured by the excruciating death of the One Innocent God-Man should humble us.  

God’s love hounds us from the day we are born until the day we die. God’s love follows us into eternity. It is all adamant mercy and obstinate Grace. It is audacious in scope, resolute in its efficacy, and finds its full expression in the Glory of the Gospel.

Praise God for His relentless love!

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

(See: John 1:16-17; 15:13; Matthew 23:27; Rom. 3:23-24; 5:6-8; I Peter 2:21; Luke 9:23)


In Search of God’s Will

One of the best things about Kevin DeYoung’s book on finding God’s Will in your life is the title:

JUST DO SOMETHING – A LIBERATING APPROACH TO FINDING GOD’S WILL
                                                                    or
How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random Bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.

That’s not to say the actual content of the book is sub par, it definitely is not. In Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung explains the difference between God’s will of decree (referring to what God has ordained), God’s will of desire (referring to what God has commanded), and God’s will of direction (referring to God’s specific plan for our lives). When we ask questions like, “What job should I take?”, “Where should I live?”, “Which college should I attend?”, or “Should I travel abroad or stay home on my vacation?”, we are asking God to show us the specific who, what, when or where for our lives. We are asking God to reveal to us His “will of direction.” De Young asserts that many Christians worry so much about missing God’s will that they either “tinker around” and never settle down or become so paralyzed in their uncertainty that they end up doing nothing.

Mr. DeYoung is quick to affirm that the Bible has already revealed God’s will to us. We are to love God, love others, and walk in obedience to our Lord. He also maintains that we should pray, ask for wisdom, and seek godly counsel. However, unless there is some moral reason why we should or should not do a particular thing, sometimes, as the title of the book suggests, it’s best to… just do something.

This little book (122 pages) is filled with Scripture and Biblical examples. The only slight criticism I can muster is that sometimes DeYoung’s advice can seem simplistic considering the complexities of life. But, Mr. DeYoung insists, and I agree, that believers can avoid the paralysis and confusion that often accompany seeking out God’s will by simply making a decision “confident that He’s already determined how to fit our choices into His sovereign will” (51).

Kevin DeYoung does a masterful job weaving together God’s Sovereignty over our decisions with our human responsibility to make them. I highly recommend this book. In fact, I plan to buy several copies and give them out as gifts to young people (i.e. high school or college students) who are just beginning to learn about making life decisions. DeYoung ends his book with the following words:

“So the end of the matter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God” (122).

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


What a Savior!

In this guest post, Ruby Kimble shares an entry from her journal as a glimpse of the daily blessings the Gospel brings.

Hallelujah! What a Savior! 
by Phillip Bliss

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Mark it down! Yesterday–another one of those “worst days of sin and failure.” As I sit here this morning, I am sore from kicking myself over this. I had almost forgotten the three really cool things the Lord did yesterday–two of them were incredible heart changing moments in church. Then afterward, an act of God’s provision–a miracle, a wonderful afternoon ahead and then, BOOM–lest I be prideful, the thorn in my flesh appears…ME! I am that THORN! Ruined the day for everyone.

…Double-minded in church, I struggled to focus on the worship, then through the song, Hallelujah! What a Savior! (Devon Kauflin version), the Spirit performed a work in me that I could never have accomplished. As I sang the song and gazed at the Savior, the ugliness in my heart melted away. Conscious of this as it was happening, it was as if the Lord, in one instant put the two images, one of Himself and one of my sin, side by side and simply said, “Choose.” The simple and obvious, the joyful with no reservations choice was the One who came for me, who stood condemned in my place, He who sealed my pardon, the Spotless One! And again at the end of the service when my heart wandered away from perfect love to breaking with self-pity at a disappointment; through the music, the Holy Spirit reminded me, “I’m bigger than this seeming disappointment!” Out on the lawn after the service, the news of  answered prayer came from an unexpected source! With three such incredible moments in one morning, how could the day have ended so badly? Why did I let the little things that were to follow get on top of me? Because I am a sinner!

Thankfully, because I have this wonderful, merciful Savior I can be forgiven yet again for another “worst day of sin and failure.” I am reminded this morning of the  truth that though black and dark sin looks to me, and it is awful; something amazing is happening on the other side of glory–grace is abounding to me! Because Christ took the blame and guilt of my sin and bore God’s righteous wrath in my place, grace is reigning! The multitudes in the heavenly realms rejoice as the finished work of Christ holds firm yet again and declares Satan’s best efforts impotent. My feeble efforts at defeating so great a foe are not the focus of heavenly hosts. No, the attention of all is firmly fixed on the Victor! Jesus, Lamb of God, who reigns supreme, is the focus of celebration as He again presents a reconciled enemy, now spotless and free from accusation, before the throne of the Holy One. At no moment in time am I more a recipient of God’s Grace than when I am seeing my sin and confessing it. God’s Grace is abounding to me as He protects and maintains my justification and His grace is being lavished on me as He opens my blind eyes to see the truth. I have nothing to fear as I approach the throne, for I know that as I come to confess and repent and be cleansed that He will receive me–for He has sent for me, nay He has come and gotten me in His love, and His aim is to remove this bondage from my life. HALLELUJAH! What a Savior!

“Savior, You showed your love, defeated sin, poured out Your blood, so we praise You, Lamb that was slain, we offer our lives to proclaim, What a Savior!” (chorus by Devon Kauflin)

Scripture referenced: Colossians 1:15-22; Ephesians 1:20-23


Some Passionate Final Words

Sermon notes – Pastor Milton Vincent – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church, July 11, 2010

For more information or to download sermons, please visit Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church website at www.cornerstonebible.org.

A note from Terrie: These are my notes taken during our church service on Sunday mornings. I will do my best to represent each sermon faithfully and post by Friday evening. Please keep in mind that these notes are just that, notes, and are a condensed version of the sermon. My prayer is that not only will these posts help me to think about God’s Word and how to apply it to my life, but that each post will encourage others to do the same.

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”–which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.   I Timothy 6:20

The word “O” is used here by Paul as an emotional interjection. It is exclamatory and emotional in tone.

THREE WISHES PAUL HAS FOR TIMOTHY AND FOR US

1.  That we would guard the apostolic deposit.
At the very least the apostolic deposit refers to the Good News of Jesus Christ but could also include the contents of  Paul’s letter to Timothy and the full body of apostolic teaching with the Gospel at its core. Paul made a “deposit” into Timothy’s life. He exhorts Timothy here to guard that deposit. It is important to note that part of the idea of guarding the apostolic deposit is to keep the Gospel unaltered (i.e. not adding to nor subtracting from the Gospel) as you pass it on to others.

To guard is to prevent from escape, to not let out of one’s sight, to observe or follow, to keep from being violated or broken.

2.  That we would avoid any and all substitutes for this deposit.
Make sure you avoid anything that is contrary to or a substitute for this deposit in your ministry or personal life. Avoid natural, worldly wisdom and empty messages. Seek the true knowledge that is granted by God. Knowledge that either opposes or replaces the Gospel is most dangerous!

3.  That God’s Grace would be with us at all times.
Pray for God’s Grace to go with you. You need God’s Grace to Go with you. God’s Grace will in fact, go with you. God’s Grace is in fact, just that–Grace.

 


A Tree Firmly Planted

He is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither… (Psalm 1:3)

How can I be like this tree? The rest of the Psalm helps me to understand.

I must not base my life decisions on the counsel of wicked people. Worldly counsel is everywhere I turn. I must turn to the One who is the source of true Godly wisdom.

I must follow the path of obedience. I have no business standing rank and file with those who love sin.

I must not find my fellowship with people who scoff at the things of God. There is no wisdom in that.

But rather, my delight is in God’s law. My thoughts consistently and constantly turning to the Holy Scriptures. What a Grace is God’s Word! That he would lovingly preserve and present His very thoughts to us! That He would use the propositional, subjective truth of His Word to point out the way of salvation! Oh, that a love of the Bible would characterize who I am! Without God’s Word, I am lost.

When the truth of the Gospel is central in my heart and mind, then my desire is to walk in obedience to God’s law. Only then am I the “Blessed…one” referred to by the Psalmist. When Jesus is first in my heart, sin loses its attractiveness. It is then that I have no desire to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, and sit in the seat of the scornful. But rather, because of the Gospel, I want to love God and love people because God has loved me. I want to show mercy to others because God, through His Son, has showered His mercy on me. I want to forgive others because God has forgiven me.

A tree firmly planted must have a substantial root system. It requires water to grow and flourish. It produces fruit in its season and does not wither and die.

The Gospel is my only hope if I am to be like that tree. Roots deeply grounded in the truths of Scripture, drawing sustenance from the well of Living Water which is Jesus Christ, producing fruit in every season of life and all to the Glory of God, forever!

Lord, may I be like a tree firmly planted.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


How to Really Enjoy Your Earthly Wealth

Sermon notes – Pastor Milton Vincent – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church, June 27, 2010

For more information or to download sermons, please visit Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church website at www.cornerstonebible.org.

A note from Terrie: These are my notes taken during our church service on Sunday mornings. I will do my best to represent each sermon faithfully and post by Wednesday evening. Please keep in mind that these notes are just that, notes, and are a condensed version of the sermon. My prayer is that not only will these posts help me to think about God’s Word and how to apply it to my life, but that each post will encourage others to do the same.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share… I Timothy 6:17-18

We are rich. Did you know that anyone who makes $45,500 dollars per year is in the top one percentile income in the world? So yes, we are rich. Any legitimate gain is a blessing from God and is meant to give us pleasure. Not everyone who is rich is necessarily happy (see Ecc. 2:7-11, 17-20). We must follow God’s instructions in order to experience pleasure in what He gives us.

SEVEN INSTRUCTIONS TO ENTER INTO THE PLEASURE THAT GOD WANTS YOU TO EXPERIENCE IN THE MATERIAL POSSESSIONS HE HAS GIVEN TO YOU

1.  Don’t let your riches make you proud.
–    God is against the proud.

2.  Don’t let your riches assume the place of God.
–    He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity (Ecc. 5:10).
–    If we let our riches assume the place of God, we will never be satisfied.
–    We take from God when we worship what He has given us instead of the One who gives us all things.
–    Anything that we allow to assume the place of God will let us down.
–    Do not place the burden of deity on anyone or anything else besides God. This is idolatry.
–    Idolatry destroys people.

3.  Enjoy your riches together with God.
–   
See I Tim 4:3-5
–    Be thankful to God.
–    Include God in your enjoyment of the blessings He so graciously gives to you.
–    God wants us to enjoy His blessings in the context of His love – as a personal gift from Him.

4.  Do good works with your riches.
–    “Work good” with your riches.
–    Accomplish good, do good with God-given provision.
–    We are created for good works (Eph. 2:10).
–    Meet the practical needs of others.
–    We imitate God by working good.
–    Accomplish those things with eternal value, especially by imparting the Gospel through word and deed!

5.  Become rich in good works.
–    Not just a token good work now and then.
–    ABOUND in good works (2 Cor. 8:7)!
–    Be rich, plentiful in good works.
–    Become a living embodiment of Jesus Christ.
–    Your good works will follow you into eternity. You can take them with you (Rev. 14:13)!
–    Becoming rich in good works gives us pleasure.

6.  Be generous in giving goodly (sizeable) portions of good things to others.
–    Not just the things we don’t need anymore (although there is nothing wrong with that), but be ready to give beyond that.
–    Recipients of our giving:
a.  Fellow Christians who are suffering. (2 Cor. 8-9; I Tim. 5:3)
b.  Anyone outside the church that you have the power to help. (Gal. 6:10)
c.  Those who labor as elders, working hard at preaching and teaching. (I Tim. 5:17-18)
d.  Those who serve the church by going out on behalf of the church to spread the Gospel of Christ. (Phil. 4:10-19; I Cor. 9:14)
–    Keep in mind that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35).
–    Give sizable portions from the best that you have.
–    You cannot out-give God. God glorifies Himself when He out-gives us. He loves to bless us.

7.  Allow others share in what you have.
–    Not just outwardly, but invite others in to experience what God has given you.

Feel the heart of God in this. He lavishes bounty on us for our pleasure. Yet, he instructs us how to give from the abundance of what He has given to us, and even that (giving to others) brings us even more pleasure and blessing!

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD?!


%d bloggers like this: