Every Christian’s 2nd Most Important Book

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Prayer JournalFor Christians, the Bible is the most precious and important book we possess. In its pages are the divinely inspired words that guide us to know and love our God.

After the Bible there are a few books that every believer should probably read, reread, and apply. On this short list would be works like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Pilgrim’s Progress, Augustine’s Confessions, Mere Christianity, Knowing God, and Operation World. But even these great works fall behind what I consider the second most important book for every Christian.

What book is that? Your local church’s membership directory.

Now, before you roll your eyes and run off to read something else, give me a moment more of your time.

Christians are not isolated spiritual pilgrims on a journey to heaven. Rather, the Bible says we are all members of His body (1 Corinthians 12:27), children in His family (1 John 3:1-2), and sheep of His flock (John 16:10). These descriptions reflect the reality that God intends Christians to be part of a tight knit community.

One day that community will all be together in heaven with Jesus (Revelation 5:9-14, 7:9-17), but for now we gather together in local churches. These churches are assemblies of believers who regularly come together to worship Jesus through song, prayer, preaching of the Word, and sharing in the ordinances (baptism and Lord’s Supper).

But we don’t just gather for those reasons, we also gather to foster relationships in which we help each other to the heaven. Consider these two verses from the book of Hebrews.

“Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25).

These verses highlight the kind of things that flow out of relationships formed in a local church. We are not merely a social club who gets together for sweet tea, chitchat, and a round of golf. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle awaiting our Savior’s return. We are being assaulted with temptations, trials, and hardships of every kind. In light of this, we need each other to help one another not give up, but to keep our hope set on Jesus’ return.

So what in the world does this have to do with a church membership directory?

I believe it is the second most important book you own because it keeps before your eyes the brothers and sisters you are responsible to help to heaven. God has called you to help particular brothers and sisters to fight against sin. He has called you to stir up particular people to love and good works. He has called you to encourage particular people every day until it is no longer called today.

The directory, if designed and used well, can be one of the most practical tools to helping you and your church fulfill the one another commands of the New Testament.

Let me explain a little more…

1.     It gives every member a practical tool to aid in prayer and encouragement.

When someone joins our church we explain that they’ll likely develop several deep relationships, but that they won’t be able to be friends with everyone. However, one way they can encourage everyone else in the church is to pray for them. The membership directory is the best way I can think of to help them do this.

Here’s a few ways our church is encouraged to use the directory:

  • Make it part of your daily devotions. I suggest that our members pray through a page of the directory each day. Some keep it in their Bibles, some in their cars to pray during their commute (be careful), some have it downloaded on their iPads for lunchtime prayer.

By making prayer for fellow members part of your daily life, God knits your heart to them while also moving in their lives in response to the things we’ve prayed. In case you aren’t sure what to pray for when you do pray, I suggest asking God to help your fellow members…

    • …love God and hate sin.
    • …become more like Jesus everyday.
    • …have open doors to share the Gospel.
    • …grow in humility, wisdom, compassion, and courage.
    • …be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and leading.
    • …be willing and able to endure persecution for Jesus’ sake.
  • Make it part of your family’s devotions. You can use it as part of your family’s devotional time. By picking one person each night or one person per week that your family is praying for, you take a good opportunity to teach your family the importance of loving and praying for the local church where you are members.

Along with this, if the directory has a section in the back of missionaries your church supports, your family can regularly intercede for Gospel workers around the world. If your family sends them encouraging notes or emails telling them that they are being remembered in prayer, it will only bolster their faith.

  • Use it as an opportunity to encourage someone. If you pray for another member, consider taking a moment to text, email, or call them and let them know. A simple “I just wanted you to know you were prayed for today, may God bless you” kind of note can be hugely encouraging to people.

Also, if the Lord brings to mind something specific to pray about for someone, consider checking in with them and see if they need any further prayer or counsel on the matter. You might be surprised how often God’s Spirit uses prayerful members of the church to encourage other members of the Body.

  • Use it as tool for hospitality. Take some time to look through the directory and see if any other members live near by. If so, extend an invitation to have them over for a meal. You never know how the Lord might use that connection to reach your neighborhood with the Gospel.

 

2.  This helps pastors better shepherd the flock Jesus entrusts to them.

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account…”

As pastors we need to know whose souls Jesus expects us to be watching over and preparing to give an account for. Church membership helps make this clear, but a church directory helps make it practically clear.

As a pastor, there are few things that help me feel the weight of the Hebrews 13:17 responsibility like spending time praying through the pages of our church’s membership directory. As I do this, I see the eyes of those who have said “I am following Jesus by obeying and submitting to your leadership.” If that isn’t weighty to you as a pastor, then I’m not sure what is.

Here’s two ways I’ve found the directory helpful to our church’s leadership:

  • Elder / staff meetings. Our elders take 30-40 minutes to talk about and pray for members at the beginning of every elder meeting. To aid this we use the membership directory and intercede for a group of members in our church. To make this more fruitful, we try to email or call those we’ll be praying for beforehand to see how they are doing spiritually. This is one of my favorite parts of our elder meetings.
  • Sermon preparation. By taking time during my sermon prep to look through the directory, I am able to think more clearly about how the promises and commands in my sermon best apply to different types of people who will be hearing it. I often take a truth from the sermon and pray it over several people from the directory. This tends to bear good fruit for my prep and the people who hear the message.

 

3.     It keeps homebound members on your mind, though they may be out of sight.

James 1:27 “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and father is to visit orphans and widows in their distress.”

Members who are no longer able to worship with us are marked as “homebound” in our directory. We encourage families and non-married members to write them letters or go by and visit them. The Lord has used this to help us keep these sometimes forgotten members close to our hearts. I’m not sure of a better tool to help keep these members on our mind like a well-used directory.

 

4.  It helps homebound members continue to invest in the spiritual health of the church.

For many members who can no longer come together with the church for worship, prayer has become their primary ministry. By ensuring that they get updated copies of the picture directory, we remind them that they are not forgotten and that they are still playing a vital role in the life and health of the church. By having pictures and names in a booklet they can look at each day, it can help those whose memories may be fading to be reminded of their bothers and sisters in Christ.

 

5.  It helps alert church members to people who may be in danger.

James 5:19–20 “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

 

We’d like to think that our church is the kind of tight knit community where everyone knows who’s showing up regularly, and even more importantly, how one another’s souls are doing. But the fact is, some people get overlooked.

 

If however your church and elders are regularly praying through the directory, the probability dramatically increases of someone saying, “have you seen ______ in a while?” And, over time, as God develops a culture of members knowing (and caring) that they have responsibility for each other, members will take initiative to reach out to people they haven’t seen in a while.

 

I know of several people who had been absent from church and wandering in sin, but when a praying member noticed they hadn’t seen them in a while, they reached out and God used them to help that fellow member begin walking with the Lord again. May God make us a people who are always alert to those who may be wandering into danger—and may people rescue us were we to ever be the ones who wander.

While the idea of a membership directory being the second most important book a Christian may not be real sexy, I hope you can see why I say it is. There are few other practical resources that help every member in your church love one another by praying for each other. So if you’ve got a directory, start using it. If not, lead the charge to get one put together. To help spark some ideas, consider this article.

 

May God make us a people who are intentional to pray for one another.

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Eavesdropping on a Song of Faith

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Church HallwayOn Wednesdays a group of women meet down the hall from my office to study the Bible. Today the lesson was on perseverance in the midst of trials and suffering.

At the end of the study I heard them singing a familiar song, so I leaned out my office door to catch the chorus filling the hallway…

 

“One day all things will be made new

I’ll see the hope You called me to

And in Your kingdom paved with gold

I’ll praise Your faithfulness of old

I’ll praise Your faithfulness of old.”

 

What moved me so much wasn’t just their voices (which were beautiful), but the heart of faith that moved their voices. I’m not sure which ladies were in the study today, but as their pastor, I know the stories of many of the women who could be there.

Their stories are, like all of ours, filled with pain and hardship. There’s guilt over abortions, scars from sexual abuse, wounds from harsh words. Some of their bodies are weary from having children, others from disease or depression. Some of the ladies are still reeling from divorce, others from desperately wanting to be married.

And as they lifted their voices, I heard true words sung with hearts of hope. Hope in the God who will keep His promises. Hope in the God who will one day put an end to all the things that ravish our lives. Our God promises that He will do this…

 

“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from

all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for

the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have

waited for Him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him;

let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:8–9 (cf. Revelation 21:1-7)

 

One day we who have trusted in Christ will be in that place where scars will be salvaged and hearts will be healed and cries will be consoled. What a day that will be. To see how the Orchestrator of eternity has worked all things, wonderful and hurtful, into a marvelous tapestry of His glory (Rom. 8:18, 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17; 1 Pet. 5:10) and forever praise Him for it.

 

Heavenly Father, usher the Day when we can cease singing by faith. Bring our hope to pass. But until then, help us to persevere and not give up. Use our many trials and tribulations to remind us that this world is not our home. Give us hearts that trust you and tongues that praise you. Come Lord Jesus!

 

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Divine Appointments: The Spirit is Willing But the Schedule is Tight

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Use me hands

“Pray that God would set up divine appointments this week. Ask Him to interrupt your life and use you to talk with someone about Jesus.”

That was my final encouragement during Sunday’s message from Romans 10.

Sure enough, right after the service a young man was in our parking lot looking for someone to help him get his life on track. And sure enough there we were with four screaming kiddos in the mini-van and plans for the afternoon.

It’s moments like those that tempt me to change my prayer from “Lord, use me” to “Lord, use me when I’ve got some free time.”

Gospel ministry can be lots of things, but convenient is usually not the best way to describe it. The very fact that our interruptions are divine appointments ensures that they probably won’t fit neatly into our schedule.

So if the Spirit is willing to set up divine appointments, how should we prepare to respond—even when our schedule is full? There are no magic answers, but here are a few things to prayerfully consider:

 

1. Pray for divine appointments.

God is sovereignly working out His purposes in history. He places people where He wants them (Acts 17:26) and amazingly arranges circumstances to draw people to Himself (Acts 8:26-40). As His followers, we are to be ready, willing, and desirous to be a part of introducing people to Him (Isa. 6:8; Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:20).

Pray for God to use you. Pray for Him to use your church. Regularly pray for Him to interrupt your schedule and arrange circumstances so that you will have opportunity to speak to others about Him. Ask Him to open doors for the Word to go forth (Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:9; Col. 4:2; Rev. 3:8) and for Him to open your eyes to see the appointments He is arranging.

 

2. Plan for divine answers.

When we pray, we should expect that God will answer. We serve a God who delights in finding and using available people (2 Chron. 16:9). That means that when we awake each morning, we should fully expect that the Lord of heaven will use us on earth that day for His glory. Some days this will be more obvious than others, but we should always be expectant.

My wife has long said, “every brief encounter is from the Lord.” Since there is no such thing as luck or chance, we should always remember that when we encounter the people in our family, neighbor, workplace, and at the check out counter (get off your phone) it happens because God has arranged it to happen that way.

Are you seeking open doors in conversations? Are you asking people questions about their life? Are you asking people how you can pray for them? Are you pushing on doors in relationships to see if the Lord makes one swing open? I would encourage you to be planning for the Lord to use you. Be watchful and expectant.

I know an elder and his wife who would make a crockpot meal almost every Sunday morning so they could invite people they met at church home for lunch. I’ve heard testimonies of people who sat in front of them at church and then got the invite to join them for lunch. That elder’s family was ready to be used by the Lord!

Another practical way to plan for divine answers is to stockpile resources you can give to people who might be interested in hearing more. I have copies of the Scriptures and a Gospel tract called 2 Ways to Live in my backpack when I travel, in my car, in my home office, and at the church. I also have a reading plan to give someone who shows interest in starting to read the Bible. You may not use these resources all the time, but they’re nice to have around in case the conversation gets that far.

 

3. Pray to know when you should walk away from a possible Gospel opportunity.

Jesus never lacked for opportunities to minister. But Jesus didn’t minister to every person who came to Him. There were times He said “no” to opportunities that were before Him because He had other business from the Father to attend to (Mk. 1:36-38).

Jesus did have an advantage, being omniscient and all, but the reality is that He gives us His Spirit to guide us (Jn. 16:33; Acts 8:29, 10:19, 13:2) and wisdom as we ask for it (Matt. 7:7-11; James 1:5). There are times we just aren’t able to share with people because we have other things the Lord would have us do.

For instance, we didn’t stick around and share the Gospel with the young man who was in the parking lot on Sunday after church. It just wasn’t the right time. We exchanged emails and I introduced him to a few of our other members, but it was best for me to keep the commitment I had with my family on that day. On other days, we may have invited him to lunch or I may have told the family to head home and I’d stay back to talk.

Pray for the Lord to help you walk in wisdom, and rest in the fact that Jesus is the Savior, not you.

 

4. Pray to know when your plans are getting in the way of God’s plans.

There are times when the good things we are doing are in the way of the greater things the Lord wants us to do. In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus encounters three would-be followers who when asked to follow him gave what seem like good excuses. I mean, ensuring shelter, burying a dying parent, and saying farewell to your family seem like better reasons to delay following Jesus than I usually come up with.

This passage should serve as a humbling reminder that we must not “lean on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5-6) and prayerfully ensure that we are choosing the “better portion” (Lk. 10:38-42). We need grace to see things in our schedule that might be able to go in order to free up available time. We should be prayerful that God would cultivate a sensitive heart in us like young Samuel had (1 Sam. 3:1-11) so that if we ever sense Him calling us to do something, we will step out with expectant faith.

This is where being in loving, intentional, truth-speaking community with other believers is essential. I need people in my life to help me think through my priorities. I am not above allowing comfort and personal plans to creep in and cloud my ability to see what the Lord has set before me. Let’s help each other be attentive to divine appointments and create a culture in our churches where we are surrendered to the Lord’s call to make His name known.

 

5. Rest in God’s grace if you miss an opportunity.

We will all miss divine appointments. We are sinners who, for many reasons, are prone to have deaf ears, hardened hearts, and dulled senses. I still have instances that haunt me where I missed what appeared to be a divinely ordained opportunity to point someone towards Christ. And while we must always learn and repent when appropriate, we must also rest in the fact that God’s grace covers all our failures.

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus died and rose for sinners, including those who miss divine appointments. So if you’ve been too busy to notice, or too fearful to speak, cast yourself upon the Lord’s matchless mercy—and get ready for the next opportunity He lays before you.

 

The Spirit is willing to use us, so draw near to the Lord and ask Him to do so. Nothing is better than having the message of God’s grace and a schedule full of divine appointments to share it with. Lord, use us!

 

 

Thanks to Blake White @ablakewhite for his tweet “the Spirit is willing but the schedule is tight” which got me thinking about this and to Tim Challies @challies for this post on getting things done that had a section on being ready for divine appointments.

 

I also want to strongly recommend Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy and Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next for your reading. They are wonderful resources that will help you think well about having a full schedule for the glory of God.

 

 

 

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God is Good and Does Good—Even in Our Pain

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Psalm 84: 11 “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

 

George Mueller is one of the men from church history who has most inspired me to trust God. He is famous for his work with orphans and his dependence upon the Lord in prayer. His autobiography is filled with 100s of pages of prayers and the record of God’s faithful answers (he claims over 50,000 answers to prayer). John Piper’s biographical sketch of Mueller is a deeply edifying study if you’d like an introduction to his life.

 

Undergirding Mueller’s life of faith was a deep trust in the goodness and sovereignty of His God. Mueller trusted God to provide in way that many would call foolish, and even presumptive. But Mueller was never left lacking in what he needed. God was good to him.

 

But God’s goodness to Mueller did not excuse him from heart wrenching trials. He suffered the loss of three children, endured seasons of unrelenting physical pain, buried his father without seeing him come to know Christ, and outlived two wives whom he loved very much.

 

As most of us know all to well, few things reveal what we really believe about God like pain. Somehow pain strips us down to who we really are. When sickness or strife or betrayal or death of loved ones come, normal comforts seem to lose their luster. Comfy couches and bursting bank accounts would all be traded in for a moment of relief. In those dark hours all we are left with is God Almighty.

 

And it is there, standing alone with God in that dark place, that we are forced to wrestle with what we really believe about Him. If God were really good and sovereign, as Mueller believed He was, then why would He bring such suffering into my life?

 

God’s goodness isn’t often questioned in days of ease. His benevolence is easily seen when the sun is shining and flowers are in bloom. But when the winter of woe comes, evidences of God’s goodness are more difficult to find. The dark clouds turn everything to gray. Cold winds of affliction bite and sting us. Our souls become numb in ways that tempt us to give up and withdraw from everyone, including God.

 

None of us are exempt from suffering. It is part of the required course in this life. One particular story, which John Piper mentions in his book Pleasures of God has long stayed with me as a buoy for my faith.

 

After 39 years of marriage, Mueller’s first wife Mary contracted rheumatic fever, which was a known mortal illness. During the last minutes of her life he read to her Psalm 84:11 “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

 

Mueller said of the last phrase, “‘no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly’—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me.”

 

Mary died shortly after on February 6, 1870.

 

Within a few hours after her death, Mueller went to an evening prayer meeting in Salem Chapel where he lifted up prayer and praise to His God. One in attendance recorded these words, which forever marked him, “Beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, I ask you to join with me in hearty praise and thanksgiving to my precious Lord for His loving kindness in having taken my darling, beloved wife out of the pain and suffering which she has endured, into His own presence; and as I rejoice in everything that is for her happiness, so I now rejoice as I realize how far happier she is, in beholding her Lord whom she loved so well, than in any joy she has known or could know here. I ask you also to pray that the Lord will so enable me to have fellowship in her joy that my bereaved heart may be occupied with her blessedness instead of my unspeakable loss.”

 

On February 11th, some twelve hundred orphans and thousands of grieving friends joined Mr. Mueller in his grieving at her burial.

 

After recovering from a bout of sickness, Mueller preached her funeral sermon. His text was Psalm 119:68 which says “You are good, and do good.” As he preached, he laid out three simple, yet stirring points:

  1. The Lord was good, and did good, in giving her to me.
  2. The Lord was good, and did good, in so long leaving her to me.
  3. The Lord was good, and did good, in taking her from me.

 

Reflecting later on her passing Mueller said, “My heart was at rest and my heart was satisfied with God. And all this springs…from taking God at His Word, believing what He says.”

 

Do you believe that God is good and does good—to you?

 

There is no more important question for us to answer in this life. And there is no more certain truth to rest in during the dark days that are coming; or are here as you read this.

 

There is no better way to settle this matter in your heart than to consider how God has loved us in His Son Jesus. Romans 8:32 rightly says “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

 

Jesus is the proof that God is good and does good. In Christ, God displayed His goodness by sending His Son to die for our sins and raising Him up from the grave. God loved us when we were unlovable in the most wonderful of ways.

 

God did not spare His own Son who did Him no wrong so that He could spare us, who did Him no right. God was against Jesus so that He could be for us forever. He was forsaken so we could be forgiven. If God gave us Jesus, what good would He withhold?

 

Mueller knew that through the sorrow of grieving loss, there was a sovereign and good hand that was guiding everything—even the pain. May God give us grace to believe the same.

 

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The 2nd Commandment and the Son of God Movie

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“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…” Exodus 20:4–5

 

Our elders have recently been thinking through how the second commandment applies in the life of our church. This has been particularly beneficial for me because, to my shame, I’ve never given much thought to the second commandment. I know that Christ has fulfilled the Mosaic Law on my behalf, and that I am now under the New Covenant. I’ve also never been one to make or bow down to graven images, so I’ve tended to skim over this prohibition.

 

But upon further review, I believe the Law is still instructive for believer’s lives today, including the second commandment. At the end of the article I’ll give you a few links for your own personal study.

 

This study has been good for my soul, but it has also proven to be timely. Mark Burnett’s Son of God movie is coming out and I am considering whether or not I’ll watch it. In years past I’ve watched and even shown in church The Passion of the Christ. I’ve also used The JESUS Film as an evangelistic tool in the Amazon jungle; and didn’t give any of that a second thought.

 

But with my recent consideration of the second commandment, I’m approaching this movie watching decision with more caution. I realize that many movies about Jesus are made with the intent of helping people think well about Jesus. But to portray an image of the Son of God does affect the way we think about Jesus, which I think the second commandment was put in place to guard. In light of this, we must “keep watch over our hearts with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23).

 

Now for some of you, this question may seem ridiculous. To be honest, when we first began the discussion I was a bit irritated and thought that we were wading into Pharisaical waters of prohibiting artistic expressions of the beauty of the incarnate Son of God. But the more I’ve prayed and processed and considered, the more convinced I’ve become that all believers should at least wrestle with this question: Does making or watching a movie that portrays an image of Jesus violate the Second Commandment?

 

I do realize that all films reflect truths about God and humanity that we need to wrestle with. In light of that, we should research and prayerfully discern whether or not we should watch them. But for the sake of this article, let’s consider a few questions about movies that portray images of Jesus.

 

 

1. Why do you want to go see this movie about Jesus? 

 

Here are some answers that would be concerning.

 

#1 – I just want to go see it and I’m free in Christ, so I plan to go.

 

First, I wouldn’t just assume that because you are free in Christ, that there aren’t important applications for you from God’s Law. This is an important study and one that every Christian should consider.

 

But as we do seek to live out our New Covenant freedom, we must remember that just because we’re free to do something doesn’t mean we should do it. Paul said “all things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up” (1 Corinthians 10:23). To want to do something isn’t good a enough reason to make a decision. We live to please The Lord (2 Corinthians 5:15) and build up other believers (1 Corinthians 14:26).

 

The “I just want to and am free to” response could reveal pride and immaturity. Everything we do should be for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We grow in maturity by practicing discernment (Hebrews 5:14). This means we should look to Him in all our ways (Proverbs 3:5-6) realizing that there are some things that seem right but aren’t (Prov. 14:12).

 

#2 – I think the movie will help me better worship and understand God.

 

To want to worship God more deeply is a wonderful desire. But to think that a movie could give you something that the Word cannot is very dangerous. Christians are a people of God’s Word. We grow, not by seeing visual depictions of Jesus, but by seeing Jesus with the eyes of our heart (revealed by the Spirit of God) through the written Word.

 

If you walk away from a movie about Jesus and say “I never thought of Jesus like that” or “now I understand what the Bible says” it may be evidence of God’s grace, or it may be a dangerous delusion. The Bible tells us “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). This doesn’t mean that we can’t learn about God through general revelation or that we can’t be edified by Christian art. It does mean however that there must be no substitute for the Word, and any supplement that we take in must be done cautiously, especially when it paints images in our head of things God has given directly to us.

 

If we aren’t careful, we can begin to undermine the sufficiency of Scripture when it comes to learning about who Jesus really is. This is a common trend in our day, one that Kathy Keller’s review of Jesus Calling captures wonderfully. God’s Word is sufficient to teach us everything we need to know about Jesus. Portraying Jesus on the big screen or in paintings has the potential to tempt us to look somewhere besides God’s Word to learn about who Jesus really is.

 

2. Are you more excited about this movie than reading what the bible says about Jesus? 

 

The question behind this question is, what stirs your affections for God? If it’s something more than God’s specific revelation of Himself through His Son by the Spirit in the Word—then we are in dangerous waters. Sunsets, movies, and all other things that can help us delight in God must be seen through the lens of Scripture.

 

God’s Word is able to do what even the world’s most talented artist can not do: portray Jesus for who He really is. For instance, no matter how gruesome one portrays the crucifixion and death of Jesus, no one can capture the unfathomable horror of the Father turning away from the Son when He poured out His wrath at the cross.

 

Only God’s Word, as illumined by God’s Spirit in the hearts of God’s people can paint the true picture of Christ. Doesn’t that make you want to open your Bible? Praise God for His Word! If we’re getting more amped up to see people’s guesses of what Jesus was like than who He really is, as revealed in His Word, we should reevaluate our hearts.

 

3. What potential spiritual good can come from watching the movie?

 

I trust there are spiritually edifying things that can come from the movie. For instance, one of my friends shared with me how The Passion of the Christ reinforced that the stories given to us in the Scripture were not lived out by westerners speaking English. He said the movie helped to connect him more to the 1st century Jewish culture than he had ever been before.

 

Another potential benefit would be the opportunity to go see it with a friend who might never go to church with you but who would go to a theater and then discuss it afterwards.

 

Now, I have a good friend who came to trust in Christ after watching the Passion of the Christ and one of our church members was reminded of the Gospel message she’d heard from her brother while seeing Aslan slain in The Chronicles of Narnia. God can and does use all kinds of things to bring His children to Himself. Praise Him for that!

 

At the same time, I do think we should humbly realize that this, or any movie, isn’t the ultimate answer. For a good article by Tim Challies on this idea click here. God’s Word proclaimed in His church and through loving relationships is always the primary way God saves people. The Gospel shared in a loving way is hard to beat. Could this movie be a helpful supplement? Maybe so, but we need to consider the next question.

 

4. What potential spiritual harm can come from watching the movie?

 

Let me lay out three potential dangers I’ve been wrestling with, all that center around the second commandment issues.

 

#1 – This movie could put images of Jesus in my mind that will affect my prayer and reading of the Bible later.

 

To this day some of our elders have images from The Passion of the Christ that come to mind when they pray or read about Jesus’ final hours. Why does this matter? There is something wonderful about the mystery of faith that can be potentially be stifled by having limiting and inaccurate images in our mind. This is at least worthy of consideration.

 

#2 – This movie could speak where God was intentionally silent.

 

I suspect any Christian who has read the Bible has longed for more stories and words of our Lord. But the fact is that God doesn’t tell us everything we want to know, He tells us what we need to know. Curiosity killed the cat they say, and I suspect that it could harm our soul as well.

 

With that in mind, we should be careful when watching scenes about Jesus that God has intentionally remained silent on. Why? Because it could cause us to think wrongly about Him based on what a film producer has taught us through the film.

 

What if a movie shows scenes from Jesus’ life that aren’t in the Scriptures, or what if the person who plays Jesus has lines that aren’t part of the revealed canon? Could that affect me? What about my non-Christian friend I took to see it?

 

Do you doubt that’s possible? Once after preaching through a passage in Exodus I was approached by a grown evangelical man who tried to correct me on a point because he’d seen it differently in a movie. Are you above that? Maybe. Or maybe not.

 

#3 – These images of Jesus could lead me to think wrongly of Jesus.

 

This is the heart of the issue as I see it. As with all things, there is no neutral ground with visual depictions of Jesus.  The most well-intended artists will have to take artistic liberty that will knowingly fall short of presenting Jesus accurately. And the more realistic a portrayal of Jesus becomes, the more potentially dangerous the threat becomes that someone might receive what that Jesus does or says as being true.

 

I realize we are all likely to imagine what Jesus said or how he said it as we read the bible, but when God gave the second command He specifically spoke against the making of images of Him for a reason. Our natural sinful nature tends to make God into our own imaginative image. But as J.I. Packer said in Keeping the Ten Commandments “I like to think of God as…” should never be trusted. An imagined God will always be an imaginary God.”

 

My children have all asked if the Jesus in The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Action Bible are what Jesus really looked like. We want to know what He looks like. This is the longing of our hearts.

 

1 Peter 1:8-9 says “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…” Peter, who had seen Jesus, didn’t tell them what He looked like. Instead he pointed them to the day when they would see Him and see the Father face to face (Revelation 22:4).

 

Between now and then what must shape our thoughts about what God is like are the Scriptures. These are the only trustworthy guide to what Jesus really looks like.

 

Our original question was does making or watching a movie that portrays an image of Jesus violate the Second Commandment?

 

The Scriptures are clear that God’s people must not attempt to worship God through any types of images (Ex 20:4-5). To do this is certainly a sin. This echoes the Westminster Shorter Catechism which says “the second commandment forbids the worshiping of God by images (Deut. 4:15-19; Rom. 1:22-23), or any other way not appointed in his Word (Lev. 10:1-2; Jer. 19:4-5; Col. 2:18-23).”

 

It is less clear however if the use of certain depictions of Jesus as a man violates this command. Some images are clearly not intended to draw our hearts and minds to worship as an idol (e.g., picture Bible images of Jesus).  These images may not necessarily violate the second commandment.

 

At the same time, I think it is wise for spiritual discernment and heart-searching to be put to use in order to avoid being led into breaking the second commandment.  The more lifelike the depiction of Jesus, the more likely it is that images could become impressed on our minds during worship, which could result in violating God’s command by replacing God’s revealed Word with an artist’s rendition of Jesus.

 

If we do see movies with images of Jesus in them, we must be careful to be like Bereans (Acts 17:11) and judge the movies, and what they communicate about Jesus according to what He has told us about Himself through His Word. May God give us wisdom as we seek to honor and obey Him in all we say, do, and view.

 

For further study on how the second commandment applies today check out:

 

This Ligonier article, this Tim Keller audio clip about the heart behind the 2nd commandment, this excellent Mark Dever Sermon where he preaches on the 2nd commandment in Dubai (the last 10 minutes deal with images of Jesus), this John Murray article entitled The Second Commandment and Images of Christ, the Westminster Shorter Catechism – Question #51 and the Larger Catechism – Question #109.

 

For a few other good resources on the 10 Commandments check out these:

How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments – Edmund P. Clowney

The Law and the Gospel – Ernest C. Reisinger

Keeping the Ten Commandments – J.I. Packer

His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy – Jani Ortlund (for teaching children)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Humility and Pride

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crown of thorns“God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Pride is a disease of the heart that leads us to think more of ourselves and less of God. Pride shows itself by thinking too highly of ourselves and forgetting that anything we have is given to us from God (1 Corinthians 4:7). Pride can also flourish when we think too lowly of ourselves and doubt that God could ever use us (1 Corinthians 12:15-18). Either way pride is thriving because our focus is on self rather than Christ.

Our text tells us there is much at stake when it comes to pride. It must be opposed, otherwise God will oppose us. Few things could be more terrifying than for the omnipotent God of the universe to set Himself against us.

Yet, in the same breath of this dreadful warning, we also find a wonderful promise. God will give grace to the humble. God will pour out His undeserved, unearned favor of support and care on those who think rightly of themselves, and rightly of God. For the humble, there is grace.

A person of humility will hear this verse and will say something like, “Lord, make me humble, whatever it costs.” The humble see pride for the poison it truly is. Pride is not our friend because it leads us away from fearing and trusting in God as our all in all.

To help us evaluate our hearts, here are a few statements and questions that might do us good to pray through and consider with a close friend.

 

Do you wear a mask to impress people or are you transparent before those around you?

Pride poses as humble. (Isaiah 29:13)

Humility doesn’t pretend. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

 

Do you resist confessing certain sins so that you will look better to others?

Pride resists honesty because it prefers a positive impression. (Acts 5:1-11)

Humility pursues honesty because God’s honor is more important than its own. (Joshua 7:19)

 

Do you study the Scriptures to grow in love for Christ or to look and sound spiritual?

Humility prefers to sit at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42)

Pride prefers the stage. (Matthew 23:5-7)

 

What happens in your heart when God’s will for your life calls you to give up on your goals and dreams?

Pride says “my will be done.” (Exodus 5:2)

Humility says “Thy will be done.” (Luke 22:42; 1 Peter 5:6)

 

Do you listen to others with a loving ear or do you interrupt them so you can be heard?

Pride is happy to talk much and listen little. (Proverbs 10:19)

Humility prefers to talk little and listen much. (Proverbs 12:15)

 

Why do you say what you say? Are you trying to lift up those around or are you trying to exalt yourself?

Pride speaks to be thought of highly.

Humility speaks to give help. (Ephesians 4:29)

 

Do you expect that you can learn from what others have to say? Do you search for the truth, even in what might be a misguided accusation or attack? Do you assume you can benefit from correction or assume you have it figured out?

Humility has open ears. (Proverbs 12:15)

Pride has no need to listen. (Proverbs 5:12-13)

 

Do you hold up your rights or lay them down for the benefit of others? Do you serve people only if they can do something for you or if they have treated you with a measure of respect?

Humility comes to serve. (Mark 10:45)

Pride comes to be served.

 

Do you hate sin because it breaks the heart of God or do you hate the consequences that wreck your life?

Pride hates the inconvenience of sin’s effects. (2 Cor. 7:10)

Humility hates sin because it is the traitor who killed its Best Friend. (Spurgeon)

 

Do you invite correction and rebuke? Do you make excuses and qualifications for your sins and mistakes?

Pride hates to be called pride.

Humility doesn’t care what you call it.

 

Do you think you haven’t strayed into certain sins because you are above them or because God has been merciful to hold you back from them?

Pride thinks, “I could never sin like that.” (Luke 18:11)

Humility knows that apart from grace, you are capable of anything. (Genesis 20:6)

 

How do you view difficult people?

Pride views difficult people as a nuisance.

Humility sees them as God’s instrument to change us.

 

Do you compare yourself with others? Do you worry why God is using them in a way you want to be used?

Pride finds itself comparing, criticizing, and envying others whom God chooses to bless. (John 21:21-22)

Humility is just thankful to be used at all. (1 Corinthians 15:9)

 

How is your prayer life? Do you have regular, uninterrupted times where you step away from everything (phone, email, people, social media) and pray to God?

Humility prays. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Pride speaks about prayer, teaches about prayer, but rarely prays.

 

Are you content if no one notices you or are you always fishing for compliments and attention?

Humility is at rest when no one praises it. (Galatians 1:10)

Pride is never at rest unless someone is praising it. (Matthew 6:1, 5, 16)

 

Do you speak of Jesus openly with friends, neighbors, family members, and those who hate Jesus?

Humility speaks of Jesus because He is its greatest treasure. (Acts 5:41)

Pride hides devotion to Jesus because it wants to be thought well of by a perishing world. (John 12:42-43)

 

We are all naturally given to rely on our self and exalt our self. But grace is given to the humble, to those who see their sin and cry out for help. Praise God for Jesus Christ who came as the humble One of heaven and laid down His life on the cross for proud rebels like us. Let us look to Christ; He is pride’s ultimate antidote. Grace comes with a humble glance toward Calvary. Spurgeon rightly said, “pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.”

Amen.

Lord, we humbly ask for grace.

 

*If you have better suggestions for verses next to some of these principles, please add them in the comments. Also feel free to include additional principles about pride and humility.

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Two Men Who Marked My Life

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Nelson, Dever, KellOne of my earliest prayers as a Christian was, “Lord, bring me someone to teach me Your Word.”

My life before Christ had been devastated by the lies of sin and I needed someone to help me learn what it meant to walk in the truth of God’s Word. God graciously answered my prayer by bringing many people into my life, but two of the most influential have been Tommy Nelson and Mark Dever. I was recently blessed with the opportunity to see these men come together for an evening, which gave me a good reason to reflect on how they have marked my life—which I hope in turn will mark yours as well.

On the one hand, these men have little in common. Tom Nelson is a former D-1 football player, who in his 60s can still bench 300, squat 300, and run 3 miles. Mark, well, he isn’t sure what football is and doesn’t understand why you’d run if you can sit. Tom is more of an introvert while Mark is so extroverted he makes the rest of us look like monks. For fun Tom shoots things and goes to they gym while Mark plays board games and organizes Puritan quotes. Tom jokes he had a 2.1 GPA as a physical education major (though he’s really quite brilliant), while Dever has more degrees than Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, these men have much in common. They both love God in ways that are contagious. They both tremble at His Word and help others do the same. Both men have godly wives who joyfully and sacrificially support them in their ministries. Both Tom and Mark have resisted climbing the ministry ladder so they can pour their lives into the congregations they love. Both men work tirelessly to impart the Word of truth to the next generation. They both possess a courage that can only be explained by the promised power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Both men have a unique ability to stir people’s hearts with awe and love for God.

 

Memory Lane

While there are plenty of stories I could share on these men, I’ll give you one that characterizes what I love most about them.

A Breakfast with Tom the Bible man…

I’d been a believer for about a year when my friend Jason Seville and I stopped in Denton, Texas to have breakfast with Tom Nelson. I was told Tom had a discipleship program called Young Guns where he taught verse-by-verse through the Bible for a select crew of men. I wanted to do this program, but needed to size up this unknown pastor first.

During breakfast I pulled out a list of 20 of the hardest questions Jason and I could put together. We were sure our inquisition would lead him to beg for mercy, but we were wrong. As I asked questions, Tom gave answers. But in his answers he never said, ‘I think’ or ‘I feel.’ Rather, he’d say, ‘The Bible says…’ and then rattle off several verses from memory to explain what we thought were unsolvable mysteries. He did this for each of our questions—quoting Scripture and giving brief biblical commentary. I’d never seen someone handle God’s Word like that before—and my heart burned to be able to do the same thing.

Over the next three years Tom allowed me into his life to learn from him. I went through his discipleship program three times, accompanied him to many of his other bible studies, and became his yard-care gofer so I could ask him questions about supralapsarianism in between water breaks. I was hungry for God’s Word, and the Lord fed me well through Tom.

Tom had a masterful way of teaching so that God’s Word stuck in my head. He was gritty, hilarious, a master illustrator, and could teach in a way that made Levitical codes and land allotments come to life. He helped me see the big picture of the Bible and how every part pointed to Christ. When Tom taught, I wanted to go home and study my Bible more.

I truly believe God brought Tom into my life at the perfect time. I was young, prideful, and impressionable which was a recipe for disaster if I had gotten in with the wrong theological crew. But, in the Lord’s kindness he introduced me to a man who taught me to trust the Bible and even more, the God of the Bible. I owe much of my esteem for God and His Word to the Holy Spirit’s work through Tom Nelson.

 

After my time studying under Tom I helped to plant a church in Graham, Texas where I pastored for 7 ½ years. During those years God blessed the preaching of His word, but it was certainly in spite of me. I felt well trained to handle the Scriptures, but didn’t have a clue what to do with His church. That’s when I met Mark Dever.

 

A Weekend with Mark the Shepherd…

I met Mark briefly at a Desiring God conference and then spent more time with him at a 9Marks event at Southwestern Seminary. Mark shared his email address with me and I suspected I’d never see him again.

A few months later I was struggling with a pastoral situation and emailed Mark a question. He wrote back saying, “Why don’t you come to DC for a weekend since I’m better in person than on phone or email.” The invite seemed over the top, but my wife and elders gave the green light so I made the trip to Capitol Hill Baptist (CHBC) in Washington, D.C.

Mark picked me up from the airport and began asking me what would prove to be the first of a thousand questions. He wanted to know everything about me, my marriage, and our church. I’ve since learned that Mark asks questions because he really loves people and desires to help them in order to strengthen God’s kingdom. As I followed Mark around for the next several days I was a bit beside myself. Mark was a pastor—a real pastor.

He loved his church. He showed me how he prayed through the church directory each day to keep the members close to his heart and fresh on his mind. He let me sit in on an elder meeting where, if I hadn’t known it, I never would have guessed he was the senior pastor because of the way he quietly gave room for the other men to lead and wrestle with decisions.

On Sunday he introduced me to members of the church and seemed to know what was going on in most of their lives. He prayed for other local churches in the service and even encouraged people to consider visiting themif CHBC wasn’t right for them. His preaching wasn’t flashy, but you could tell that with every idea he was pushing the people toward heaven. His applications encouraged people to talk over lunch about points from the sermon and to share the Gospel with unbelieving friends.

Long story short, after two years I came to CHBC where I served as an intern and elder before being placed across the river at Del Ray Baptist Church, where I now serve.

I’ve learned from Mark that life isn’t about us, but about building God’s kingdom. Mark seeks no glory for himself, only to help do spiritual good to those he encounters. His love for the church abroad is seen most clearly in his love for his church at home. He regularly chokes up talking about them because of his pastoral love for them.

 

There are countless lessons I’ve learned from these men, but the main one is this: God works through discipleship relationships to change lives.

By inviting me into their lives, these men have said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). In countless ways they have said, “Come and see Jesus” (John 1:46, 4:29).  And by allowing me to follow them, they have allowed me to see who they are, warts and all. There are things I want to emulate from both these men, and there are things I want to avoid. I don’t agree with all their convictions, but I will never be the same because of the way they have loved and led me toward the Savior.

One of the simplest ways this is true is that God has given me an inescapable passion to always be discipling other young men. I may not have the Bible memorized like Tom or memorize everyone’s name like Mark, but you don’t have to do those things to help others to heaven. Our call is to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20), “be witnesses” (Acts 1:8), and take truth given to us and “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Any of us can do this, and all of us must do it. This is the call of our Savior.

So pray that God might use you. Pray He might give you someone at your church to pour into. If you aren’t sure how to do that, pray He might give you someone to help you as well. Don’t wait till you’ve arrived to get started, cause we’ll never feel “ready” to help others. It is, however, out of this weakness that Jesus gives strength (2 Cor. 12:9). And if you’ve had someone pour into you, tell them how they’ve blessed you. That’s a good way to help those who have helped you.

 

My life was indelibly marked by two men who simply offered a breakfast and an open door. They radically transformed my life by giving me truth and time, and I want to invest my life doing likewise. This is the model of Christ; this is the New Testament call for those who follow Christ. Extend an invitation to a younger Christian and get started.

 

 

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Spurgeon on the Death of a Christian

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Heaven Shines Down

Psalm 33:21 “Our heart shall rejoice in Him.”

“Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress. Although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance. They have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.” To whom will the glory be given? Oh to Jesus, it is all by Jesus.

Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him and says, “Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed. The waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven. They are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God.”

As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, “Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God.” As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost too frightened to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die, no, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once:

“The glory of our brightest days; The comfort of our nights.”

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Overflowing Hearts – Spurgeon

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heart“He who lives without prayer – he who lives with little prayer – he who seldom reads the Word – he who seldom looks up to heaven for a fresh  influence from on high – he will be the man whose heart will become dry and barren; but he who calls in secret  on his God – who spends much time in holy retirement – who delights to meditate on the words of the Most High – whose soul is given up to Christ – such a man must have an overflowing heart; and as his heart is, such will his life be.” – Spurgeon from The Great Reservoir on Proverbs 4:23

Lord, guard us from getting by with what we can do in our own strength. Guard us from our own sufficiency. Guard us from neglecting the power that comes from You alone. Guard us from having withered hearts that are dried up from not abiding deeply.

Lord, guide us to our knees in humble dependence. Guide us to Your Word that our souls may be refreshed with your benevolent grace. Guide us to step away from the many distractions we could find refuge in and make us to find refuge in You. Guide us by Your Spirit to live lives of that are simply an overflow of Your love to us.

Lord, make our hearts overflow with Your life and love. We need you.

Amen.

 

credit to 12stonehollowway.blogspot.com for the picture.

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How Mercy Moves Us to Worship God

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What moves you to worship God? 

The sound of your favorite song? A breathtaking sunset? Your favorite preacher preaching your favorite text?

While all of these can move us to worship God, in Romans 12 we find another motive that stirs our heart to respond to God by giving Him all that we are.

Romans 12:1 says “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” 

True worship of God is found in giving our bodies, our entire self, to God as a living sacrifice. We are to worship God through everything we think, do, and say. And to what does Paul appeal to motivate us to respond in obedience to this high call?

Mercy. 

God’s mercy.

God’s many, many mercies.

But, what particular mercies does he mean?

In Romans 12:1 Paul points us back to the first eleven chapters of the book that chronicle the many mercies of God toward His people in Christ. These mercies are intended to warm our heart toward God so that we might respond to Him by offering our entire lives to Him as worship.

In a recent sermon on Romans 12:1-2, one of our pastors, Shai Linne, walked us through God’s many mercies in Romans 3-11 and showed us how God’s mercy moves us to worship.

You can listen to Shai on the Mercies of God as you read through the list. 

3:24 – the mercy of justification – we have been declared righteous by God

3:24 – the mercy of redemption- we have been purchased by the blood of Jesus

3:25 – the mercy of propitiation- Jesus absorbs the wrath of God on our behalf

4:7-8 – the mercy of forgiveness of sins

5:1 – the mercy of peace with God through Jesus Christ

5:2 – the mercy of access to the grace of God 

5:2 – the mercy of the hope of Glory of God

5:3 – the mercy of joy even in the midst of suffering

5:5 – the mercy of the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit

5:5 – the mercy of the Holy Spirit Himself

5:8 – the mercy of the Love of God

5:8 – the mercy of Christ’s death for Us while we were still sinners

5:9 – the mercy of being saved from the wrath of God

5:11 – the mercy of being reconciled to God

5:20 – the mercy of abounding grace 

5:21 – the mercy of eternal Life

6:2 – the mercy of us dying to sin

6:5 – the mercy of us being united with Christ in His Death

6:5 – the mercy of being united with Christ in His resurrection

6:13 – the mercy of being brought from death to life by God

6:18 – the mercy of being freed from slavery to sin

6:18 – the mercy of being made slaves of righteousness

6:22 – the mercy of sanctification, that we are being made more like Jesus

8:1 – the mercy that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus

8:3 – the mercy of being set free from law of sin and death

8:9 – the mercy of the indwelling Spirit of God

8:15 – the mercy that we have been adopted as sons of God

8:17 – the mercy of being heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ

8:23 – the merciful promise of the redemption of our bodies

8:26 – the mercy of the Spirit’s help in our weakness

8:27 – the mercy of the intercession of the Spirit

8:28 – the mercy that God works all things together for our good

8:29 – the mercy of being foreknown by God

8:29 – the mercy of being predestined to conformity to the image Christ by God

8:30 – the mercy of being called by God

8:30 – the mercy of being justified by God

8:30 – the mercy of being glorified by God

8:31 – the mercy that God is for us

8:32 – the mercy of God promising to graciously give us all things

8:34 – the mercy of Christ Jesus interceding for us

8:39 – the mercy that nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord

9:18 – the mercy of the sovereign mercy of God

9:23 – the mercy of the riches of His glory being made known to vessels of mercy

9:25 – the mercy of Gentiles being called the people of God

9:33 – the mercy that we will not be put to shame

10:17 – the mercy of faith that came from hearing the word of Christ

10:20 – the mercy we found God when we weren’t seeking Him

11:5 – the mercy of being chosen by grace

11:17 – the mercy of being grafted into the people of God

11:22 – the mercy of the kindness of God

11:33 – the mercy of the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.

“How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!”

These mercies are what move us to respond in worship to God.

His love moves us to love others (1 John 4:19). His service moves us to serve others (John 13:14). His forgiveness moves us to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us (Ephesians 4:32). His welcoming us in Christ moves us to gracefully welcome others (Rom. 15:7).

 

Let this be a cue to us to study and meditate deeply on God’s mercies. As we do, let’s plead with God to move our hearts to respond in worship that brings Him everlasting glory and us everlasting joy.

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