Praising God Through It All

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As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’”  Luke 19:37-38 

What a scene!  All the disciples of Jesus were rejoicing and praising God on that meaningful Palm Sunday.  Though the praise of the larger multitude of Israel was misguided and superficial, it would seem the praise of Jesus’ followers was true.  Even if they were not clear on what lied ahead that week, the cross looming on the horizon, they were praising God for all the mighty works of Christ they had seen in the previous years.

Regarding this text, I came across an insight from CH Spurgeon that encouraged me.  Maybe it will encourage you too.  He said, “The whole multitude of disciples rejoiced!  And yet, I suppose, those disciples had their trials as we have ours too.  There might have been a sick wife at home, or a child withering in disease.”  Yet they all praised him, and their praise was filled with remembrance.  They called to mind all they had seen.

I imagine each person reading this blog is going through some form of personal hardship.  Don’t let the hardship blur your eyes to the goodness of God in your life today. See all Christ has done for you.  Know that He is with you, strengthening you by His grace.    He loves you and will see you through!

 

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Glory to the Newborn King

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Moving into the Christmas season, I’m almost ready to start listening to the Christmas carols.  Popular radio stations jump the gun in my opinion.  December 1st is when I’m ready.

When it comes to Christmas carols, I like the ones that can (and should) be studied as well as sung.  Their content is so rich that you need to really take time and reflect on them.  “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is that kind of song.

Robert Morgan said it perfectly in his book, Then Sings My Soul.  Telling the story behind “Hark! The Herald,” he described the hymns of Charles Wesley like this:  “Each one packed with doctrine, all of them exhibit strength and sensitivity, both beauty and theological brawn.”

Amen to that.  For that reason, I can’t wait to begin a new December sermon series at Bethel Grace Baptist Church.  The series is titled “Glory to the Newborn King.”  It is drawn from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as we explore the all the titles used of Jesus Christ in that biblically rich song.  It will be a great way to learn about the One born in the stable and placed in the manger.

Here is an overview of the series and some amazing history behind the song.  Its original form was quite different from what we sing today.   Either way, it’s a treasured hymn of the Christian faith.  Not only is it my favorite Christmas carol, but one of my favorite songs ever.  I hope this blog will increase your appreciation for it.

Continue reading “Glory to the Newborn King”

Timeless Truths from the Early Church

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This Sunday we begin a new sermon series, “Timeless Truths from the Early Church.”  It will include five core principles from Scripture that apply to every church of every age.  I will list those principles as sermon titles at the end of this post.

As we embark, I pray that two realities will under-gird us as we apply each of the messages.   One of these thoughts came from Pastor Ray Ortlund Jr. as he opened last week’s Gospel Coalition West Coast Conference (October 16-18, 2018).  The other came from Pastor Mark Dever on his “Pastor’s Talk” podcast with Jonathan Leeman (Episode 59: On Teaching the Church about the Church).  Both stirred my heart.  I’ll share them briefly with you and then lay out the five “timeless truths” we will receive together.

Continue reading “Timeless Truths from the Early Church”

Joining the Membership of the Church

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Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

In Acts 2:42-47, we see a picture of corporate spiritual vitality in the early church.  Over and over again it is described how the church was together: together in the temple courts, together in one another’s homes, and together with glad and sincere hearts.  From the start, there has been a strong emphasis of togetherness in our life with Christ.

The Bible speaks of being saved as being added to the number of the local church.  There are no “Lone Ranger” Christians.  God intends each of you in Christ to be vitally connected to a local gathering of believers.

Here are several reasons why membership is encouraged at Bethel Grace:

Continue reading “Joining the Membership of the Church”

The Gospel Project with Bethel Grace

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“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”   Luke 24:27

What a walk that must of have been!   Two disciples strolling along the Emmaus Road with the risen Messiah.  Jesus took them through the Old Testament explaining how all along, the Scriptures were pointing to Him.

This Fall, we at Bethel Grace want to go on comparable journey with the Lord.  During our Sunday 9 a.m. hour, we are organizing communities to take part in “The Gospel Project.”   This is a three year journey through the Bible from beginning to end with a focus on the story of redemption in Christ.

According to Lifeway Christian Publishers, “The Gospel Project exists to point kids, students, and adults to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through weekly group Bible studies and additional resources, all ages discover how God’s plan of redemption unfolds throughout Scripture and still today, compelling them to join the mission of God.”

This opportunity is all about learning the Gospel Story while engaging in Gospel Community and inspiring Gospel Mission.

Here are several reasons why we are encouraging this at Bethel Grace…

Continue reading “The Gospel Project with Bethel Grace”

3 Ways to Love

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It’s Valentine’s Day 2018, and love is in the air.  As the couples enjoy their chocolates, cards and dinner dates, let’s also remember the kind of biblical love that should fill the life of each follower of Christ.

Here is a passage of the Bible that teaches several different ways that love takes shape in the Christian life.  It’s from Romans 12, a section of the Scripture teaching the transformation of life by the renewing of the mind.  It’s a word to the Christian community.   From it we can learn three ways to love…

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10 Reasons to Bring Your Child to Sunday School

While sleeping late can be nice, have you considered the benefits of Sunday School attendance for your child? Here are 10 reasons to make it a priority in your family.

1. Age Targeted Teaching: Where else can your kids get Biblical instruction that’s focused toward their developmental abilities?
2. Friends: In Sunday School, your child will build positive friendships with their peers by discovering God’s Word together. Continue reading “10 Reasons to Bring Your Child to Sunday School”

The Reformation: Luther’s Two Struggles

MartinLuther-workshopCranachElderOn Sunday, October 29th, Bethel Grace will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I pray it will be a day of heart lifting worship and joy as we celebrate salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

As we look forward to the celebration of Reformation Day, I want to recognize that this recovery of the Gospel was born out of a deep sense of struggle within a particular man’s heart.       Martin Luther carried two heavy burdens, the second perhaps more weighty than the first.  The Reformation took flight as the Lord helped Luther resolve these struggles. On the Lord’s Day, we will learn about these two matters, one during a combined 9 a.m. Sunday school gathering, the second during our 10:30 a.m. worship service.

Continue reading “The Reformation: Luther’s Two Struggles”

Light of the World

 

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And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. John 3:19-21

I totally forgot about the recent solar eclipse until like 3:00 p.m. on August 21st. I was busy at work and it just didn’t come to mind. It was great that so many people got to see it and recorded it, so I did get to see video and pictures after the fact. Lord willing, I’ll be around for the next one in North America in the year 2024, wear those fun glasses and see it! One thing that was interesting after the eclipse was the radio interviews that I heard from people who had seen it. They talked about the awe and feeling very small in comparison to the magnificence of what they saw.

The eclipse made me think about the verse above in John Chapter 3, particularly in verse 19 about people loving the darkness rather than the light. I was 25 when God saved me from the darkness I had been in. I lived my teen and young adult years knee deep in profanity, immorality, excessive spending, and frequent intoxication of various kinds.

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

Although both these passages state serious things about the sinfulness of mankind, there is also such hope! Who doesn’t need hope? If we come into the Light of Christ we will be saved through the work of God in our lives. We don’t have to stay in the dark!

Several years ago on a family vacation we visited Marvel Cave in Branson, Missouri. It’s a magnificent National Landmark with vast rooms and waterfalls. The lowest room is 505 feet underground. (50 stories down!) It took me several trips to the Silver Dollar City amusement park, where the cave is located, to be brave enough to go into the cave. It was amazing and I’m so very glad that I did! During the tour the guide turned off the lights for a minute. It was incredible how total the darkness is when you’re that far underground. When the lights were turned back on, it was so wonderful to have light again! God’s light through Jesus is just like that and is the ONLY thing that can take away the darkness of my sin. I am thankful to Him for taking it away!

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 9:9-13