Present(s) In the World

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:6-11 (ESV)

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

“The principle by which we live is not “how can I avoid contact with the world so as to be separate from it?” Rather, it is “how can I live in the world yet be free from its influence and by my life actually expose its contagion?” …As the light of the world, we shine in its darkness; as the salt of the earth, we preserve only if we are present in it.” 
– Sinclair B. Ferguson, Guidelines For Separation (Article in Tabletalk, June 2014, pg. 17)

As I think about these passages of Scripture and the Sinclair Ferguson quote, I’m reminded of a Jewish sect called The Essenes. The Essenes weren’t talked about much in the New Testament because they chose to live monastic lives in the wilderness because they wanted to remain separate from the world and not be stained by the culture. The Essenes were reported to be some of the most honest, studious, morally upright, and God-fearing people the world had ever known, but they eventually died out because they refused to live within a culture of people outside themselves.

As Christians, I think we can be guilty of the same thing. Let’s think about small churches that have 10-15 active members all over the age of 70. More than likely, that church won’t be around for too much longer. More than likely, it’s because somewhere along the way, the church decided it was better to live outside the culture than to live in it.

Let me clarify some things. We just read in 1st John 2 that we shouldn’t love world or the things in the world, but Jesus tells us that we are lights in the world in Matthew 5. Are these contradictory statements? No. As a matter of fact these passages of Scripture present us with a powerful truth. We are in the world, but not of it. We cannot be lights in the culture of the world if we refuse to live outside of it. That’s why I have my weekly Bible study at Hastings. It’s a coffee shop and a bookstore. It’s the epicenter of culture in our town. All different kinds of people walk in there of different religions, ethnicities, and walks of life. I have my Bible study there because the gospel is for all people of any background.

As Christians we cannot deny that we are in the world. It does us no good to try to live outside of the world while we’re here. However, we are not present in the world, but we are also presents in the world. As Christians, we are gifts to world because we have something that they need, the gospel. As we live out the gospel, we show the light of Christ and the light of Christ exposes the works of darkness in the world as Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 and shows the world that there is a better way.

Today, pray about how you can be a light in the world.

Treasuring God’s Word


“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”
– Psalm 119:9-16 (NIV)

The Bible in the picture that I used is my own Bible and after 3 1/2 years of owning and using this Bible, I’ve decided that it’s time to retire it. I’ve preached many a sermon with it over the last few years and now, laden with duct tape, highlights, underlines, and post it notes, it will now have a special place in my top dresser drawer. I will confess though that as much as I’ve read the Bible, I’ve not always applied it to my heart like I should, and I can promise you that if I had applied God’s word to life all the times that I should have my life would’ve gone a lot easier and possibly would have turned out much differently.
David starts out this part of Psalm 119 by asking a legitimate question. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” The answer is by treasuring God’s word. Treasuring God’s word is not just reading it, but living it. James tells us,
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” – James 1:22-25 (ESV)
Did you catch that last part? James actually tells us we will be blessed by applying the word of God! He’s not talking about necessarily material blessings, but he’s talking about an inner sense of peace. The word blessing in the Bible means happiness. James is telling us that if we apply God’s word to our heart then in the end, we’ll be satisfied with living by God’s prescribed order.
Today, pray about how God would have you apply His word to your life and ask Him to put people in your path that you can share His word with.

The Lord Guides The Heart

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” – Proverbs 21:1 (ESV)

“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – Revelation 1:4-6 (NKJV)

When we were saved, we were brought into a kingdom, but we weren’t just brought into the kingdom, we were made into a kingdom. If you were to read Revelation 1:5b-6 in the English Standard Version, it says,

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom,priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

The ESV actually emphasizes in verse 6 that we were made into a kingdom. We could go on and on and talk about how in 1 Peter 2:9 talks about how we are a chosen generation and a royal priesthood, but the point is because Jesus is royalty we were made into royalty by his blood so that makes us kings and priests unto God.

I’ve prayed about things that I feel that God wanted me to do and honestly, I just didn’t want to do it. I wanted to obey God, but I didn’t want to do specifically what he was asking me to do and so I said, “God, I want to obey you, but my heart isn’t in this. Will you please change my heart to do what you would have me to do?” Then one day, he brought me to Proverbs 21:1. My pastor had been teaching a lot recently on our identity as kings and priests and so when I read how that the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, I immediately identified that with myself. I may be a king, but Jesus is the King of Kings and so I humbly serve and humbly live under His kingdom and lordship. God has the power to change my heart and yours to do his will.

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV) tells us,
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Take a good look at verse 13 because that’s where verse 12 ties together. Verse 12 tells us to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Verse 13 tells that we can only work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because God works in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. So, God has to mold and transform our heart in order for us to do His will because God is a gentleman, He will never force Himself in you, but He will change your heart to where you do want Him and want His will.

I hope you have a blessed day today. Thank you for reading and following.

Integrity in Pastoral Ministry

If you could mold the perfect pastor, what would he look like? Would he be a great expositor? Would he be able to give practical and biblical solutions to any problem that was brought before him? Would he deliver humorous anecdotes in his sermons? Would he love his wife to the way Christ loves the Church? Would he love his children and model the role of our heavenly father by being kind and showing loving leadership to his children the way God does for us?

Unfortunately, sometimes when a pulpit committee tries to decide on a pastor they don’t answer those last two questions first. This is why you have so many people who are excellent preachers, but they are horrid pastors. When you see a church goer that is satisfied to go to church on Sunday and live like hell Monday through Saturday, then there’s a good chance that they have a pastor that does the same.  This is why character is so important as a pastor. Pastoral ministry always starts in the home. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 tells us “He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way— for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?”

Your home is a private sector that’s limited to you and your family. It’s easy to avoid dealing with your sin at home because you are under the impression that your home life is your business and you can keep it separate from your church life because you treat your church like a source of income instead of treating it like the Bride of Christ. If you let your habitual sin control you in the home, it will control you in the church. James tells us that sin is simply a slow and painful death.

“But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved.” – James 1:14-16 (NRSV)

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Pastor of Cross Church of Fayetteville, and author of 10 Things Every Minister Should Know said that personal holiness seems to be a forgotten commodity in the church today and he’s not wrong. Names of famous pastors are popping up almost every week in the news and why? It seems like there’s a sin epidemic that going around and reality is that you, I, and everybody are all susceptible to it, but at what point to go from just being susceptible to being victims of the epidemic? In the passage we just looked at in James, what’s going on? You’re tempted by your desire. You’re lured and enticed by your desire. Your desire conceives, and then all at once, you’re in sin before you know it. It’s when you allow your desire to conceive with the allurement of ungodly affections that you give birth to sin. So, what’s the answer? What can possibly keep us from allowing sin to grow in us?

When we were justified, we received the Holy Spirit. According to Acts 1:8, we were granted power by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work. In Peter’s second epistle, the Apostle breaks down for us what it means to have that power.

“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.  For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:2-8 (NRSV)

The Holy Spirit gave us divine power, and according to the Apostle Peter, that power is all we need for life and godliness. Why? Because that divine power produces a divine nature within us. Because we are harnessing a divine nature, we must make every effort to make our faith active with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. We’re not fighting this battle against sin alone. Jesus declared victory over sin when He stepped in bodily form out of the tomb, and soon God will declare our final victory over sin when all those who have God’s Spirit dwelling inside them will rise triumphantly to meet Jesus in the air.

Our Story – Sermon Resources

After writing the blog post, “Our Story”, I put together a sermon outline and notes to go with it as well as some JPEG slides. So, here is the finished product free to use for any occasion whether it be a full-length sermon, a short devotional, or just a personal study.

In 1896, Henry Ernest Nichol penned these words:

“We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.”

While this hymn speaks to the ecclesiastical mandate for the Church to spread the gospel, on a much more personal level, you and I have a responsibility to tell others what God has done for us. Each one of us has a story. What God has done for us is important and it could very well help someone turn their test into a testimony.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. – [Psalm 66:16 ESV]

Two Reasons To Tell Our Story:
1. It Causes Us To Remember What God Has Done For Us (Joshua 4:4-7)
Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” – [Joshua 4:4-7 ESV]

    1. Remembering What God Has Done
      A. Builds Faith For the Present (Hebrews 11:1-6)
      B. Gives Hope For the Future (Hebrews 11:8-10)

2. It Causes Others To Know What God Can Do For Them (Psalm 71:17-18)
“O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 18So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” – [Psalms 71:17-18 ESV]

  1. David’s motive for this prayer came from
    A. a desire to glorify God by telling his story
    B. a desire to tell of God’s might to the next generation

Make your story known to someone this week as a reminder to yourself of what God has done and as a help to someone else who may be struggling to find God in the midst of their circumstances.

“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!” – [Psalms 106:48 ESV]

Our Story 1 Our Story 2 Our Story 3 Our Story 4 Our Story 5 Our Story 6 Our Story 7 Our Story 8 Our Story 9 Our Story 10 Our Story 11 Our Story 12 Our Story 13 Our Story 14

Our Story

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” – Psalm 66:16 (ESV)

In 1896, Henry Ernest Nichol penned these words:

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.

While this hymn speaks to the ecclesiastical mandate for the Church to spread the gospel, on a much more personal level, you and I have a responsibility to tell others what God has done for us. Each one of us has a story. What God has done for us is important and it could very well help someone turn their test into a testimony. I challenge you to find someone to tell your story to. Remember what God promises us about our testimonies.

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” – Revelation 12:11 (ESV)

God has given us to the ability to stomp on Satan’s head by the blood of Jesus Christ and the word of our testimony. So don’t miss out on the chance to bless and encourage someone, and make the devil mad in the process. Be blessed today!

God’s Keeping Power

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.” – John 16:1 (ESV)

Sometimes I think we underestimate the ability of God to keep us. We have a head knowledge that God saves to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25), but we lack heart knowledge. That’s evident by the fact that whenever we slip-up and miss the mark, the first thing that pops into our minds is “You’re not really saved. You don’t really love God.” But, if there’s anything I believe we need to come to terms with it’s that once God has His hand on our lives, He’s not letting go. We may try to let go of Him for a season, but He always brings us back. Remember the joy of Christ’s words today.

“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”…Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
– Hebrews 13:5b, 8 (ESV)