My hope is to get back to writing musings more frequently as the fall gets going. Our summer was a bit of a blitz (no different than many of yours). With the big event of Hannah and Grant’s wedding, summer baseball, and trying to keep up with church things, things were a bit hectic, to say the least. With fall just around the corner, the beginning of the school year seems to “calm” things down a bit, which I’m looking forward to.
Looking back on Ephesians:
I didn’t write much at all as we went through Ephesians. But let me add a few thoughts about our time in that book.
- The whole idea in Ephesians, about God bringing all things under the authority of Christ (1:9-10), really excites my soul. And it calms it down in times of chaos. It was really encouraging to me to see that this is God’s plan from the beginning and the way God works that plan out, is through HIs redeemed people. Through transforming our marriages, family life, work, and the way we see spiritual realities. It was a powerful lesson for me.
- I get amazed at Paul’s comments about himself and about he views his circumstances. He’s got such unique perspective. At the very end of the book (6:20), Paul called himself an “ambassador in chains”. Here’s this man, in a prison cell, chained to a Roman guard, and sees this as his “calling”. He ministered right where he was. There’s a saying that I try to remind myself about a lot and it’s “be where your feet are”…but Paul takes this to a whole new level…he’s actually challenging us to “minister where your feet are”.
- Finally, in that great section on spiritual warfare, I was struck by how “everyday life” this stuff was. It was fascinating to me that directly after Paul has talked about Christ’s work in us in our churches, our homes, and our workplaces, he then tells us that our battle is “not against flesh and blood”. All of those areas are “flesh and blood” and this would tell me that there is a spiritual battle going on…everywhere. And it’s in normal, everyday life. This strikes my heart with a feeling utter dependence and need for Jesus and His power. I just don’t have the power to live, everyday and in every moment, without the power of Christ on my side. And thank God that’s exactly what God gives me.
Things about this past Sunday:
- I love the book of Philippians because of Paul’s unique Christ-focus and joy that this brings him. But something happened Sunday to me that I was very thankful to God for. I had been laboring all week over the text we studied (1:1-18) and trying to connect some dots in the book and Paul’s joy for these people. During our worship in song time, the Lord began to show me tidbits in each chapter of Philippians that revealed Christ in every chapter. I quickly jotted those notes down on my Notes app and then got up to speak. As I got to that section of the sermon, flipped to that Note and started to preach on that…it was fascinating to see eyes of faith and excitement fill the hearts of people. Not sure I can explain that, except the Spirit of God going to work in HIs people.
- There were 2 things that I didn’t spend a ton of time on Sunday that I want to explain a bit here:
- I didn’t spend any time on how Paul says he prays for these folks in vs. 8-11 but it is really powerful. This is a church who’s partnership in the gospel is really encouraging to Paul. This is a church that served with him and served him better than any other church he planted. And yet, he prays that their love would abound more and more. He prays that they would bear fruit. And he prays that they would know clearly what pleases the Lord. In other words, they were already many of these things, but Paul wanted them to do it more and more. To me, this also says, if this church was a great joy doing the things they were already doing…how much joy would they be to Paul and how much joy would they have, if they abounded in those things?
- The other thing I didn’t spend a ton of time on is found in vs. 15-18. That’s the issue of the gospel being preached and Paul’s rejoicing in the gospel being preached, even though some of the preachers did it out of selfish ambition. What strikes me about this is not only the power of Christ’s gospel above the proclaimer’s motives, but also, the power of Christ’s gospel over the proclaimer’s methods. I did not touch on this very much during the sermon, but I want to do that here. There are methods of evangelism that I’m studying and I’m researching, that I don’t think are necessarily wise. And I’ve heard and read online, much criticisms for different forms of evangelism. Too be clear, there are usually two-extremes that get drawn: some say, street evangelism is ineffective and doesn’t work…others say, relationship evangelism is an excuse for never sharing the gospel. And too be honest, I’m saddened by both of these perspectives, because, it’s too general in nature and it draws the lines too broadly. Are there some forms of street evangelism that are unwise? Absolutely! But, are there some who do street evangelism in an engaging, winsome way that allows for personal interaction that is loving, helpful, and gospel-driven? Absolutely! Further, are there folks who hide behind the cloak of “relationship evangelism” and never tell their friends about Jesus? Yes, there are. But, are there people who build relationships with others and share the gospel with their friends? Absolutely…lots of them. Here’s my point…when the gospel is proclaimed, we should rejoice. At the same time, we need to be very cautious with our criticisms and judgments of one another. All of us, should be seeking for ways to honor the Lord and love people with Christ whichever way we choose to share the gospel. Now, without all of that said, it is very important for us to evaluate our hearts and methods with Scripture. But evaluation should be done with charitable thoughts and with grace. This means our communication to and about those using methods we don’t agree with, must be done with grace and filled with love. That means face-to-face communication as well as those moments when we get some “computer courage” and post online. All communication should be filled with God-glorifying grace towards those we disagree with.
- The final thought on this…as Christians, we should believe that the gospel is to be shared, all over the place…through demonstration and declaration. And we should be praying for opportunities, everywhere. As a friend recently said to me, “we should have a ‘wholistic’ approach to evangelism”…that was a very helpful statement and one that I completely agree with. This will leave little “room” for self-righteous judgments and criticisms.
Quotes I left out:
- “He is the fully divine Lord, of one being and equal glory with God, rightful possessor of the divine name, together with the Father the source of grace and peace and heavenly riches. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. To his people he is the coming One, the Lord of the future; but he is also the Jesus of the past—of the cross, of the experience of personal faith reposed in him by the sovereign gift and call of God, and of that gift of righteousness which satisfies God’s requirements. Likewise, he is the present Lord Jesus Christ: he will come as the Transformer, but he is even now transforming, for he is the source of the present fruit of righteousness which Christians would bring forth to his glory. He is their joy. In all circumstances he gives confidence and security, for he is Lord of circumstances, and when proved is found sufficient. They regard him as worthy of all devotion, and will serve him to the end. Their objective is that he should be seen in them. It is in him they find their present oneness, which they seek to implement by loving each other as he has loved them and by conforming their emotions to his. He is their message to the world, and their chief prize when this passing world is done. This is the richness of Christ; this is the Jesus who is his people’s joy.” J.A. Motyer
- “In Christ we are secure and have everything we need with the peace of God as a garrison patrolling our hearts and his glorious riches laid open to meet our needs. In Christ we become new people with new feelings, a new mind or way of looking at things, new encouragements or incentives to live as Christians should, and new abilities to bring those incentives to fruition. In Christ we have a whole new way of looking at life, seeing his hand and his sovereign will in all things. Paul says his imprisonment is ‘in Christ’ and testifies that it was when he helped the Roman believers to see this that they came to new confidence in the Lord.” J.A. Motyer
- “The Father has weighed up the merits of his Son and the proper response to his work at Calvary, and nothing will suffice but that he should bring his Son out from the invisible glories of heaven and show him publicly to a wondering and worshipping world. For his own glory, the Father must one day see every knee bowed to Jesus and hear every tongue acknowledge his Lordship.” J.A. Motyer
- “The salvation we are assured of is wholly wrought by God for helpless, hopeless sinners. It does not lead us to be complacent, for our assurance increases as we see hard evidence of our spiritual progress. It does not make us lazy, for a large part of the evidence is the depth of our commitment to the cause of the gospel. Nor does it make us independent of one another, for we need one another’s prayers to maintain and further our ongoing walk with God.” J.A. Motyer
- “We return, finally, to the individual level. Differences of personal like and dislike will remain in the church; different stages of sanctification will mark individual Christians; different appreciations of what constitutes the will of God for a person’s life will continue to be expressed. But all these are secondary—secondary to the grand truth of individual redemption by the blood of Christ, of being accepted by God in Christ, and, what grips and controls Paul in his Roman jail, common possession of the saving truth of the gospel. If there is anything which, for us, fails to pale into insignificance, compared with the scriptural knowledge of Christ, then we are not living by the priorities of God.” J.A. Motyer
- I’m really excited about all the options for fellowship and Christian growth that are going on at CLF. Amazed is probably the better word. We have a wide-range of groups that are beginning this fall in the forms of study groups or community groups. Be sure to check those options out at clfroseburg.com.
- If you’re a Premier League Soccer fan…I’m not a fan of VAR right now. Twice it’s cost Manchester City (the team I pull for) and…not a fan of it…until it works out for the team I’m pulling for:).
- The fall…leaves falling to the ground…some of the best weather in Oregon…and post-season baseball…wow! It doesn’t get much better than that.
- Over the course of the last month or so, our Facebook live videos have had over 1500 views. That’s crazy to me.
- Is there anyone else out there that is just tired of all the fighting, bickering, and non-sense? These are definitely the effects of living in a Genesis 3 world, but, my word, this is tiring.
- Sunday was another reminder to me…I love my church! Seeing the wide-ranging ages, different life-styles, and unique people, all worship Jesus together…just amazing to me. CLF, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…”