“The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.”
from the autobiography of George Muller, as quoted in John Piper’s Desiring God
In Ezekiel 33, God begins to renew His people. The first step is His call to repentance. “Turn back to me and live,” God cries. This is the central message in this chapter and the first step to renewal.
So, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit – what does that get you? You are not only a temple but you are empowered! 2 Timothy 1:7 says you have a spirit of power, love and self-control – this will greatly impact your life.
My fourth sermon in the series, “who you are in Christ”, comes from 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” There is much healing of old wounds and hurts in this verse, and so much hope as well.
But to all who did receive him,who believed in his name,he gave the rightto becomechildren of God – John 1:12
What does it mean to be a child of God for me this morning? I think back to the time I received Him and believed in His name (spring, 1996, when I was 30 years old). I think how I’ve grown in Him over the years, how He’s trained me up and praised me and disciplined me. I picture a heavenly Father who’s held my hand, let me go on my own, “spank me” at times. I think about His loving care and parenting over me. I think about the right He has given me to be called His child. I rejoice today in standing in this and trusting in this and walking in this way. It is a blessing.
This summer we will begin partnering with the Soup Kitchen of Wheeling and the YWCA of Wheeling to launch new ministries to children and their families and single moms. There are many opportunities to pray/give/serve/send in these local areas. We are excited for the opportunities God has placed before us to “be salt and light” and “go and make disciples” and look forward to what He has in store for us through this work.
The Practice of Godliness is an excellent book by Jerry Bridges. It is a re-release of his sequel to the first book, The Pursuit of Holiness. In this book he addresses areas to grow in, “to put on” the new self and grow in Christian character. Pastor Bridges establishes three core elements (fear of God, love of God, desire for God = devotion to God) and the nature and need for training, and then briefly overviews each of 12 characteristics of God and His followers. Pastor Bridges’ book is heavily rooted in the Word but in an easy and flowing writing style. It is a practical exposition, encouraging the reader to apply what is developed. The author correctly focuses on internal heart and mind change in order to impact our outward behaviors – “good fruit can only grow from good roots and proper nourishment.” It is not necessary to read these chapters in order; the reader can “skip around” if needed. It would be helpful for the reader to read and study more on the areas of immediate concern. The additional study guide is helpful for further discussion and study. This is an excellent book to read and study through and apply in the life of any believer and follower of Christ.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
How to Multiply Your Church by Ralph Moore is a hopeful and inspiring and energetic book on church planting and church growth. The author’s purpose is to show us the history, need, and practical aspects of birthing new churches today. The basic premise is to train and equip each person of the congregation and release them into ministry they are gifted and called to serve. Pastor Moore provides biblical, historical and theological reasons and cultural necessities of obeying the Great Commission and being on mission in your local community as a newly birthed church. By training and releasing people into doing the work of the church (Eph 4:11-12), the church will multiply – a movement of church mulitiplication will begin. This book is not church growth for sustaining sake or a program (although it may bring revival to an older congregation), but it is to wage spiritual warfare in evangelism and advance the gospel and be salt and light to a hard world. The author provides guidelines to deal with “bucks, buildings, and brains” but cautions that each person must assess their situation as unique – there is no “one method fits all” approach. Ultimately, it is not a program-based approach but relying on the Spirit and breaking existing programs and paradigms to bring the gospel to needed areas. It is a recommended book, giving hope and calling us to the urgency of reaching out and obeying the Great Commission.
This book was provided to me for review by Regal Books. I was not required to write a positive review.
In our fourth session, The Challenge of Change, we learned that changing behavior and actions is second to what must occur first: a change of heart. Changing our behavior and actions are the leaves; changing the heart is the root of the issue. This changing of the heart is to change our thinking – “you are what you think.” Proverbs 27:19 tells us, “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” We must wage spiritual warfare and take every thought captive through the filter of Philippians 4:8-9. We can take control of our thinking and choose to think rightly and Biblically.
It is war we are waging! Be in control of your thinking! Exercise the power you have to turn off wrong thinking and turn on right thinking. Genesis 1:28 tells us to “subdue all the earth”, which includes our minds and thoughts.
It is hard discipline to train ourselves to think rightly. We are to put on right thinking, of God, His Son, His Spirit, the cross – every moment. Let us grow and press on to maturity, let us choose life over death.
In our second session, we reviewed the vigorous and vigilant effort it takes to train and discipline our bodies and minds for the glory of God. Training to think and act rightly takes continuous work and effort! Thankfully, God has given us a spirit of self-control (2 Timothy 1:7) and it is one of the fruits of the Spirit working within us.
It’s interesting how many times Paul refers to running a race and the image of an athlete as he describes our growth in Christ. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to “throw off what entangles us” and “persevere and run the race.” It is our passion for Christ that fuels this determination. We are not meander aimlessly with no direction or purpose – we are to be moving forward and getting farther along every day. We press on (Philippians 3:13-14), not slide or drift!
A disciple must be disciplined, through the work of God, the church, and himself. We are to be killing sin and buffet our bodies daily. Your body and mind will do what you tell them to – practice self-control!
Praise God for His correction and rebuke and guidance that come from His Spirit and Word and church.