Tag Archives: Encouragement

Hopeful

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus Name.”
Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Solid Rock

Solid Rock (Photo credit: notashamed)

Hope.

Such a short word, but for the Christian, pregnant with promise!

Our hope is alive. This hope is no desperate gasp of a dying man. But rather, ours is a hope quickened by the merciful hand of God, causing us to be born again to a living hope and the assurance of an inheritance that is  “imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

This is no static hope, but a confident movement toward trusting in the promises of God. Our hope joins hands with faith and dances with bold conviction; it is a joyful expectation of things hoped for and not yet seen.

Our hope is tangible. Our fathers in the faith heard Him speak, saw Him with their own eyes, and touched Him with their own hands. They ate with Him, lived life with Him, learned from Him, and prayed with Him. No ethereal hope here. Jesus of Nazereth was a man, though no ordinary man. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory…”

Ours is a hope tethered to eternity. Immense in scope and eternal in perspective, this kind of hope will not disappoint. The hope of Christ is ours today and will ever outlive itself in the ages to come. Lay your dead hope at the foot of the cross and watch Christ breathe into it Life Everlasting. “Do not lose heart…for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

Our hope is real. Unlike the “water” on a hot asphalt road that is always just out of reach, this hope is no mirage. It quenches real thirst and imparts real life. Those who place their faith in Christ build a foundation of hope upon the bedrock of Gospel Truth. This hope is as solid as the wood of the cross upon which our Savior died.

Oh, Christian, in the economy of Hope you are a very rich man, indeed!.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.   Romans 15:13

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

(1 Peter 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:12-19; Heb. 11:1; John 1:14; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Col. 1:27)


Jesus, the Man

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… Isaiah 53:4

The Deity of Christ is an important core doctrine that separates Christianity from the false religions of the world. However, when I am feeling overwhelmed by the suffering and sorrow that this world so often has to offer, I am comforted to think about the humanity of Christ.

Jesus, the man.

There is no darkness, no pain, no suffering, no hunger or thirst that Jesus did not experience. There is no hatred, no rejection, no hurt that Jesus is not personally acquainted with. He understands the depths of my grief, the magnitude of my sorrow and the scope of my heartache. Jesus owned all the weaknesses of man, except sin.

I am blessed to have friends and family who have lifted me in prayer, wept beside me in sorrow and helped me when I most needed it. For that I am thankful.

However, I am most grateful that because of this God-Man, I do not walk alone.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Always Transforming

Sermon Notes: Pastor Milton Vincent
July 22, 2012-Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar. Shot in Aucklan...

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar. Shot in Auckland, New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We ask the question, “What then, shall we do with the Gospel truths we have learned previously in the book of Romans?”

Implications of the command to “be transformed” in Romans 12:2:

You’re not perfect yet.
Yes, you are saved, forgiven, clothed with righteousness, secure in eternity, etc. But we still need to grow.

You need to change.
Not just others need to change, not just circumstances, but, you.

Transformation is possible.
Implied in every command of God is the promise that God will empower you to do it. For example, in Matthew 14 when Peter wants to walk on water he says to Jesus, “Lord…command me to come to you on the water.” When Jesus tells Peter to come, Peter knows that he will be able to walk on the water.

Transformation is never finished in this life.
The command to be transformed is in the present tense. Be continuously being transformed. In every stage of Christian life, be transformed. Don’t think you’ve been changed enough. God is never done changing and transforming you.

Don’t make your changing conditional. “I’ll change if…” It’s not Jesus +…. in order to be transformed.

You cannot transform yourself.
Only God can transform you. God stands at the ready to empower you to transform.

Transformation is something you must choose.
Paul is appealing to our will. God will change you to the degree that you choose to allow him to. It’s deeper than mere behavior modification. It’s a process of deep transformation that often happens very slowly and is not observable on the outside.

How can I position myself to allow God to most effectively transform me?

Monarch male showing its wings to attract a mate

Monarch male showing its wings to attract a mate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SIX STEPS TO TRANSFORMATION

1. Embrace the fact that the purpose of all things (including you) is to glorify God. (Rom. 11:36)
-Get away from the idea that everything revolves around you.
-God is bigger and greater than you. Open your eyes to the big picture.
-Seek His glory and our circumstances become less about us and more about Him.
-We conform to Him, not Him to us.

2. Surrender everything you are and have to God.
-We no longer belong to ourselves.
-Fully surrender yourself and be transformed.
-Transformation happens most deeply on the other side of surrender.
-Just as when someone goes into surgery they fully surrender themselves to the surgeon, surrender yourself to the Great Surgeon!
-It’s not, “Lord I want to be good!” but, “Lord, I want to be Christ-like.”

3. Consciously resist the influence of the world every day.
-The world system seeks to press us into its mold.
-Don’t go along with the world’s flow.
-We flatter the things we conform to. What has the world done to deserve such flattery?
-Steel yourself against the influence of the world.

4. Be continually engaging in the task of renewing your mind.
-Transformation comes through the mind.
-The battle is fought and won or lost in the mind.
-Even as saved people, sometimes we have wrong thinking.
-Renew your mind with Gospel truth. Learn Gospel truth, unlearn anything contrary to the Gospel.
-Be intentional. Read, memorize, meditate, wrap your mind around truth and envision how you can apply truth and walk in it.

5. Make it your daily ambition to discover and demonstrate that God’s will is exceedingly good.
-Get up every morning with the attitude to prove that God’s will is beneficial to you.
-God’s will is well-pleasing.
-Discern the experience that God’s will is perfect and good.
-God’s will is most satisfying.

6. Live in community with your brothers and sisters in Christ. (Romans 12:36)
-Transformation is a community project.
-More to come on this!


Called to Restore

Sermon Notes – Pastor Karlos Limtiaco
June 3, 2012 – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

What should you do when you find out a fellow believer has been overtaken by sin? How should you respond?

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:1-2

TEN TRUTHS TO INSTRUCT AND MOTIVATE YOU IN GOD’S CALL TO RESTORE WAYWARD BELIEVERS

1. God’s call to restore is a family matter.
Brethren
-A family loves and cares for one another.
-The word brethren implies relationship.
-Unity purchased by the blood of Jesus.
-But, there are times when all is not well in the family.

2. God’s call to restore implies that believers can struggle with sin.
-…if anyone is caught in any trespass…
-Caught = trapped, overtaken, ensnared, pursued and caught by sin.
-Talking about a believer who has been overtaken by sin and is miserable in it.
-The fact that the sin has been discovered is a grace from God.
-God presents us with opportunity to minister Gospel Grace to the one in sin.
-The effects of the Fall remain with believers until their glorification.
-Whenever you deviate from the Gospel you will be ensnared by sin.
-Sin comes when believer is not walking by power of the Holy Spirit.

3. God’s call to restore involves a community of believers.
-…you (who are spiritual)…, you is plural, infers community of believers.
-God’s call to restore goes out to the Body, the people of God, not just pastors.

4. God’s call to restore requires being spiritual.
-…(you) who are spiritual…
-In a healthy Body every person would be called a spiritual one.
-What does it mean to be a spiritual one?
*knowing and embracing the Gospel
*walking in the Spirit
*manifesting the fruit of the Spirit
*living in worship of God
*abiding in the vine (John 15), etc.

5. God’s call to restore is a command.
-Restore (such a one)…, the word restore is imperative and present tense, active.
-Keep on restoring, actively. Active not passive.
-Paul wants people of God to be involved in restoration.
-This is not optional. We are our brother’s keeper.
-It’s not to attack or criticize, come down on or shred, but restore.
-Restore with a goal to build up and put a person on the path to pursue holiness.
-This same word is used elsewhere as in mending a fisherman’s net or setting a broken bone.
-Restoration does not mean to look down on, ignore, dismiss, slander, etc.

6. God’s call to restore involves anyone with any sin problem.
-(Restore) such a one…, such a one = anyone
-Not showing favoritism in your ministry of restoration.
-Restore the lovely/unlovely, wealthy/poor, attractive/unattractive, clean/dirty, any ethnic background without prejudice or common/uncommon and grotesque sin problems.
-It’s anyone with any sin problem.

Gentleness in Mosaic

Gentleness in Mosaic (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

7. God’s call to restore requires gentleness.
-…in a spirit of gentleness…
-Not harsh or severe.
-Loving, compassionate, kind, patient restoration even though there may be the potential for an angry response from the one being restored.
-Prov. 15:1; Matt. 5:5; 11:29
But we proved to be gentle among you…(1 Thess. 2:7)
-1 Tim 3:3 gentleness part of the qualifications for an elder.
James 3:17; …wisdom from above is…gentle.
-It is the antithesis of legalism.
-Gentle in thoughts, attitude, speech toward the person, being clothed in gentleness.

8. God’s call to restore requires humility and caution.
-…each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
-Restore without being prideful thinking that you cannot fall into the same sin.
-Be cautious because the command comes with a warning.
-When helping someone out in a particular area of sin there is the potential for you to struggle with the same sin.
-During restoration process, keep seeking the things above and keep gazing at Jesus.

9. God’s call to restore requires perseverance.
Bear one another’s burdens
-Another command in the imperative and present tense. Keep on bearing.
-Also a community project.
-Patience and perseverance are needed.
-Connotes that the burden is heavy, tiresome, and requires strength.

10. God’s call to restore is a call to flesh out the Gospel.
-…and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
-Law of Christ = Love one another.
-Demonstrated in its most full and grand form at the cross.
-Jesus came to die on the cross to RESTORE us.
-The law of love takes us to the foot of the cross.
-To engage in restoration is fleshing out Gospel realities and Christ Himself.


Aslan Is On The Move

“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chapter 7

Aslan

Aslan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am concerned for a loved one. My heart aches for this person. My spirit grieves. Not an hour goes by that I don’t pray for this someone. This person is the first thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. Not a night passes that I don’t I fall asleep committing this loved one to the Lord’s care.

This morning, my heart was breaking. I cried out to the Lord and begged Him to intervene. I prayed Psalm 27 for several people who are facing daunting trials, but the words came most fervently when my loved one came to mind.

After breakfast, rather than leave for my morning errands as I had planned, I decided to wait and pray a bit more, read my Bible a little longer. I implored the Lord (again!) to answer my prayers for this person. I poured out my heart, did not hold anything back. I expressed frustration and fear, dismay and disappointment. I asked Jesus to work. I asked for help.

Just as I was about to leave, my phone rang. It was a precious, longtime friend of mine. She had a bit of encouragement for me in regard to this someone. We prayed together and again entrusted the situation to the Lord’s providence and care.

When I cannot do anything, God is surely able. When my heart is in turmoil, He gives peace. When I am overwhelmed with the details, God sees and knows the scope of it all. And, this morning when I most needed it, God answered a prayer for encouragement that I did not even realize I had prayed, deep groanings that did not go unattended.

It is no coincidence that I did not leave the house as early as I had planned. It is not mere happenstance that my friend called at the very moment I needed a fellow soldier to battle with me in prayer. Praise God!

Now I know. Aslan is on the move.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


I’ve Been Thinking…

It’s a busy time for us. My thoughts have been scattered. So, I thought I would share some of the things that have been floating around in my head the last few mornings.

IN DENIAL
Every once in awhile, I pull out my old Keith Green records, (in reality, they are on my husband’s ipod, but I still think of them as records… showing my age, I know) turn up the volume, and sing the words right out loud. The Lord saved me in 1981 and Keith Green’s music was a great encouragement to me as a new Christian. Here are a couple of lines from his song, Until That Final Day:

My flesh is tired of seeking God, but on my knees I’ll stay…

Those words made me think about how much prayer is connected to the idea of denying one’s own flesh. If we get up early or stay up late to pray, we are denying ourselves sleep. (Think of the Jesus’ disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.) If we fast and pray, we deny ourselves food. Even taking a few moments to pray before a meal keeps us from immediately satisfying the desires of our flesh. Setting aside time to pray denies us the time we could be doing something else. I concluded that to pray is to be “in denial.” So, maybe being “in denial” is not such a bad thing to be.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

THE GOODNESS OF GOD’S WORD
I recently listened to a sermon, “How to Think and Feel About the Word of God, Psalm 119:1-176,” by Kevin DeYoung out of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. In it he brings out the point that although we have people in our lives who may desire to help and want to give us the right words of wisdom, they do not have the capacity to always get it right. But, God not only loves us and wants what is best for us, but His wisdom is always right and good and proper and well…perfect! The Lord used this sermon to stir up my love for His Word. By the way, if you are interested you can download the University Reformed Church App on your mobile device and listen to lots of great sermons. The app also links to Pastor DeYoung’s blog, information about events at URC, and a cool Bible reading plan.

Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. Ps. 119:24

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR MOMS
Kimm Crandall, a fellow blogger I follow, tweeted these words recently: “Don’t believe the lie that you are not the mother your kids need. He has given you the exact kids you need and the exact mother they need.” Although Kimm and I are in different seasons as far as motherhood goes, she continues to be an encouragement to me. My kids are all grown up, but there are still times I look back and wish I’d been a different kind of mom. Done things differently. I suppose it comes with the territory, but I’m convinced that Mommy Guilt is the worst there is. Kimm’s tweet was timely and appreciated.  I’m thankful for people like her, and all of you, who are part of my “Gospel Inheritance.” You can read Kimm’s blog “Christ in the Chaos” by clicking here.

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11

SURPRISED BY SIN
Recently, I read that artist Thomas Kinkade’s death was caused by an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. I’m ashamed to admit that my first thoughts upon reading the news were both harsh and judgmental. Something along the lines of: “Hmmph! And he called himself a Christian!” I was surprised at the vehemence of my response, but I should not have been. Yes, by God’s grace I am growing in my sanctification, but the ugliness of sin still surfaces. Thankfully, the Lord was faithful to convict me right away for my arrogant attitude.

I understand that as Christians our lives are to reflect Christ and be marked by godly obedience and love for God and others. But, on the other hand, I realized pretty quickly that to mete out justice is God’s place, not mine.

If Mr. Kinkade was a Christian, how sad is it that the end of his life would represent the antithesis to the hope and joy found in Christ? And if Mr. Kinkade was not a Christian, how terrible that the man known as the painter of light would die in such darkness.

Therefore, do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.  1 Cor. 4:5

THE WEDDING
And then, there’s the wedding. My oldest son, Joshua, will be married on June 29th. We are thrilled and excited for him and our future daughter-in-law, Sarah. Wonderful! It’s been a joy to watch their Gospel-centric relationship blossom and grow.

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gen. 2:24

THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
I will leave you with a quote from Charles Spurgeon:

[God’s] “Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads, an anodyne for care, a grave for despair.”

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


A Story Women Should Love

Sermon Notes – Pastor Milton Vincent
May 13, 2012 Mother’s Day – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

(Note from Terrie: I’m a little late with this, but it was such a good message that I wanted to post it anyway. What a blessed Mother’s Day Sermon! It’s good to re-think about it.)

Luke 10:38-42 (Martha and Mary)

This section is the story of a woman who:
-wants Jesus in her home.
-is truly seeking to serve Jesus.
-feels worried and bothered about many things.
-begins to feel alone in her concerns and labor.
-wishes she had help.
-becomes critical of others.
-brings her concerns to Jesus.

“Whatever else our Lord Jesus did, He immeasurably exalted womanhood.”
-George Morrison

"Christ in the House of Martha and Mary&q...

“Christ in the House of Martha and Mary” by Jan Vermeer, 1655. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Greek, Roman, and Jewish culture during this time, women had no rights. Jesus ushered in a new age where women are given new freedoms and rights. It is a turning point in the history of women.

SEVEN WAYS THAT JESUS EXALTS WOMEN IN THE STORY OF MARTHA AND MARY

1. He accepts the invitation of a woman into her home. (v. 38)
-No rabbi would have done this.
-The invitation is an act of kindness originating in the heart of a woman toward Jesus and He warmly accepts it.

2. He allows a woman to sit at His feet as a disciple. (v.39)
-Mary assumed her place as a disciple. (It’s possible that the other men disciples could have been there, also.)
-Mary was also part of the preparations to receive Jesus, but at some point sat at Jesus’ feet.
-We misread it if we think that all Mary did was sit. In v. 40 Martha says, “My sister has left me…”, implies Mary had done her part.
-Jesus does not rebuke Mary but receives her as a disciple.
-Words from the Jerusalem Talmud: “Let the words of the law be burned rather than taught to women.” Sotah 3:4

3. He gives a woman freedom to bring her complaint to Him. (v. 40)
-Avoid either mistake: 1. thinking that Mary did no work. 2. Thinking that Martha was not listening at all to Jesus.
-Martha was probably expecting Jesus to intervene.
-She becomes upset, rebuking not only Martha but Jesus too!
-But, she does bring her complaint to Jesus just as all of us should do.
-She felt comfortable doing so. We can feel safe pouring out our hearts and emotions to Jesus.

4. He looks into the heart of a woman and tells her what He sees. (v. 41)
-Jesus is showing us that the heart of a woman is important and worth His notice.
-He actually cares about our hearts.

5. He seeks to lighten the woman’s burden to only what was necessary. (v. 42)
-There are different ways of understanding what Jesus is saying here, but at the very least he is saying: You’re preparing an elaborate feast for me – but really only one simple meal is needed.
-Jesus acknowledges her service, but is telling her that he’d rather have Martha with Him than an elaborately prepared dish.

6. He tells women that the best way to serve Him is to commune with Him and let Him feed them. (v. 42)
Jesus is saying that He did not come to be served, but to serve.
-Jesus turns everything upside down!
-Jesus is the best food and the best drink.
-Jesus is not just interested in exacting service from you, but He wants to serve you. He wants relationship with Him to be your portion.

7. He promises women that the blessings of sitting at His feet will never be taken away from them. (v. 42)
-Women in the 1st century must have shouted “Hallelujah!” at this.
-He is giving women a place at the table.
-He is saying that women can be His disciples.
-This story is more than Mary vs. Martha. It is an opportunity for Jesus to express what He wants to do for all women.
-He is saying that the privilege of being a disciple of Jesus can never be taken away fom women.
-He is saying that He will be blessed by your service to Him, but to not let it distract fom relationship with Him.
-Ask Jesus how to serve Him best!
-The greatest service to Jesus is to sit at His feet and let Him serve and feed you.


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