God’s Grace in Awakening Sinners

Today’s sermon is from 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 and is titled God’s Grace in Awakening Sinners.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (HCSB)
1 Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of the truth. 3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.


Saturday Stuff

supergirl*CBS has picked up the Supergirl TV series.

*The Supergirl title role hasn’t been cast but here are 7 actresses who could possibly play that role.

*Marvel’s Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds to star in the title role finally has a release date on February 12, 2016.

*Here’s a fun history of DC Comics on TV.

*DC’s Suicide Squad has appeared on a few episodes of the CW’s Arrow.  Now comes news that the Suicide Squad may become a movie.

 


6-String Salvo, September 19, 2014

bigstock-Guitar-950679Fall is in the air, and the 6-String Salvo is in your inbox…enjoy!

1. Check out this interview Trevin Wax does with Jonathan Edwards (not that Jonathan Edwards), author of Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves.

2. Paul Maxwell helps us discern what God is teaching us when He tells us, “Later.”

3. Al Mohler says that the “current debates on sexuality present to the church a crisis that is irreducibly and inescapably theological.”

4. Here’s a great reminder from Ed Stetzer that the church isn’t only to love one another, she is also to love the broken outside the church.

5. My friend Adam Lickey shares 7 ways to improve at apologetics.

6. Are there ways we make it difficult for people who are turning to God?  J. D. Greear says there are 3 ways.

And here’s Attic Wolves with Safe & Sound


How Do We Get the Passion?

If the greatest hindrance to the gospel being proclaimed to the nations is the silence of Christians, how can we see Christians awakened to their responsibility to go and tell?

Passion misdirected

Whatever we’re passionate about we will make evident in our words.  Football is incredibly popular in America, both professional and collegiate.  People happily identify the team they root for through wearing their team’s colors and logos, by ringtones with their fight song, through banners, flags, and bumper stickers on their vehicles.

Fans will bravely walk into “enemy territory” with their team colors on and will bear any abuse to cheer on their team.  They won’t be shouted down or shamed, win or lose, by the opposing fans.  Why?  Because they are passionate about their team.  Most grew up as a fan through the influence of their family.  Others attended that school and are proud alums.  Whether their teams are winners or loveable losers, they will passionately support their team.

Passion rightly directed

The bottom line, there are many things we are more passionate about than our Lord Jesus Christ.  This sounds incredibly judgmental, but if we love Jesus the way we say we love Jesus, everyone around us should know.  I think we’ve been so shouted down by our culture, so marginalized by society, that we are almost embarrassed to make a big deal about our faith.  We won’t even bow our heads in the restaurant and thank our God for the meal.  If we won’t do that, how will we muster up the courage to tell someone that they are a sinner, that they’ve rebelled against God, that their destination is an eternal hell, and their only hope is repenting of their sins and trusting in the finished work of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ?

(And to be clear, I could have picked any number of things about which Americans are passionate, many which have nothing to do with sports.  We just happen to be in football season so I’m grabbing the low hanging fruit.)

If we aren’t embarrassed to make much of our favorite team which has really done nothing for us but give us fleeting joy, why are we embarrassed to make much of Jesus who has given us eternal joy through His death and resurrection?

How can we become passionate about our Lord in such a way that it spills over in our words?

  1. Pray. Our Father knows what we need before we ask. If we ask for Kingdom things, won’t He answer far beyond what we ask or think?  Pray for a love for Jesus that is such a deep and strong treasure in our hearts that our mouths will speak from the overflow.  I believe that’s a prayer God will gladly answer.
  1. Preach the gospel to ourselves daily. We must continuously remind ourselves of what Jesus has done for us. We must weep over our sins.  We must marvel at His mercy and grace.  We must long for His return.
  1. People need the Lord. We must understand that the deepest need, the most critical need every man, woman, and child has is to be reconciled to our Lord. We must understand that people who die without Christ are eternally lost in hell.  We must understand that our Lord has given us one means by which people will hear the gospel and be saved: the preaching of the gospel.  It is given to every believer that he or she must be a witness.  And the Lord has given us power through His indwelling Spirit to be that witness.
  1. Passing on an opportunity to make much of Jesus will never be an option. My answer to the prompting of the Spirit to speak about Jesus, no matter how awkward I feel or how awkward the situation will always be YES Lord!

What will our God do for His glory?

I think these four things would be a start.  I know I’m doing these three things.  May God do far more than we can ask or imagine for His glory and the good of the nations.


Why Christianity in America is Declining

If you follow any news concerning religion in America, you will have heard that Christianity isn’t growing in our nation.  The Southern Baptist Convention, the world’s largest Protestant denomination, is in decline.  Some have said that as much as 85% of churches in America are plateaued or declining.  America, any way you look at her, is not the Christian stronghold it once was.

What’s going on?

So why is this happening?  Why is Christianity struggling?  What’s hindering the proclamation of the gospel?  Some will say it’s our current moral climate within the nation.  People have become openly antagonistic to Christians and their message.  The media industry is against Christians.  Hollywood is against Christians.  Political parties are against Christians.  The Supreme Court is against Christians.

Some will say it’s the rise of Calvinism with its accompanying belief in predestination that is killing Christianity and hindering the gospel’s proclamation.  Some will say it’s the rise of seeker friendly megachurches who promote an easy believism.  Some will say it’s the rise of prosperity gospel churches which proclaim no gospel at all.

One reason for our decline

I think there is one, and only one, hindrance to the spread of the gospel.  It’s the silence of Christians.  Christians are not engaging their lost neighbors, coworkers, family members, classmates, or really anyone with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Our Lord can overcome poor gospel presentations.  He can overcome gospel sharers whose lifestyle doesn’t match the message.  He can overcome shy Christians, loud Christians, nervous Christians, and even obnoxious Christians.  But He can’t overcome silent Christians.

Why?  The message we’ve been given is meant to be proclaimed.  It’s good news.  If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, Christians must tell others the gospel so they can hear and be saved.  No sharing the gospel, no hearing the gospel.  No hearing the gospel, no faith in the message of the gospel.  No faith in the message of the gospel, no one being saved.

The problem is me!

Is it really that simple?  Is the key to turning back the decline in the growth of Christianity really for Christians to begin sharing the gospel?  I think so.  I love what J. D. Greear says, “The strange thing is, the more people I share Christ with, the more people seem to keep getting elected!”  I can pray all I want that God will save the lost.  But if I’m not willing to be His instrument proclaiming the gospel to the lost, I’m in rebellion against Him.

Listen, we can have all kinds of gospel meetings where we talk about the gospel.  But if all I do is talk with other Christians about the gospel, but I never talk to the lost about the gospel, I’m just a clanging symbol.  It’s not the well who need the doctor, it’s the sick.  If I’m more excited about a conference or a book than I am broken over the lostness of my city, I have a heart problem.  If conferences and books and how-to seminars about the gospel don’t fuel a passion to make the gospel known to the lost, the problem isn’t our nation’s moral climate or a Christian’s particular theological persuasion.  The problem is me!

God has ordained the means

God has ordained one means by which people will be saved and that’s Christians telling people the good news of the gospel.  Christians keep praying for an awakening within our nation.  I pray for that to happen as well.  But the awakening will happen when Christians love Jesus so much, and they love lost people so much, that they will do everything so that they will meet.

The biggest hindrance to the spread of the gospel isn’t outside of us, it’s us!  May our Lord empower us with His love so that, with Peter and John, we will say, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)


You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry

From 1978-1982 CBS ran a TV series called The Incredible Hulk based on the Marvel Comics character.  Bill Bixby played Dr. David Banner, a scientist who was seeking to find the key to unlocking human strength.  Banner exposed himself to high levels of gamma radiation.  The effect of this exposure was that when extremely angry, Banner would transform into the Hulk (played by Lou Ferrigno), an enormous being with unlimited strength.

A famous line from the series has now entered into popular culture.  Check it out below…

How many of us can identify with the last part of that famous line, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”?  I know in my life, I get angry at the dumbest things, act foolishly, and then deal with regret over my overreaction.  It’s a cycle I too often repeat.

What about my “me time?”

When I say I get angry at the dumbest things I mean my anger is often an outgrowth of my pride fueled by impatience and/or irritation.  I want what I want right now and I get ticked off when I don’t get.  Or, I want to do what I want to do and get irritated if my desires are short-changed by what my wife or children want to do.

You know the scenario: all morning you’ve been lazing around the house with nothing to do as you anticipate the 2:30 p.m. big game on TV.  At 2:28 p.m. your wife decides it’s time to do spring cleaning and you’re the indentured servant.  Or, at 2:28 p.m. your child decides that this would be a great time for you to shag fly balls, or rebound shots, or do a review for the big test on Monday.  Why now?  Just so that I will be irritated?  I was available all morning long and would have been glad to help.  But this is my “me time” and I deserve it!  And even if I do what my wife or children ask, I do it with a scowl on my face so that they absolutely know I’m angry over their poor planning, especially because it affects my “me time!”  Thus the familiar line, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

How do I keep my pride at bay so that I don’t become angry through the slightest impatience and/or irritation?

1. Realize that I’m a steward of God’s time. My life, my time isn’t my own. I’m on God’s time that He has graciously given.  This helps me see time as a gift.

2. Realize that I’m a servant to others. As the Lord came not to serve but to serve, He’s called me to serve others. This means I put my desires behind my family’s desires and others.

3. Realize the grace of God shown to me by His patience towards me. I deserve the full measure of God’s wrath because of my sin. Instead, He was patience towards me not wanting me to perish, but to have eternal life.  The grace God has shown me should overflow in my showing grace to others.

4. Realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me. I tell parents that the greatest lesson they can teach their children is that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I am often reminded that’s a lesson I need to be reminded of.

5. Realize that time with people is an eternal investment. The great commandment says not only are we to love the Lord with all we are, but we’re to love our neighbors as ourselves. We can’t love God and hate people.  Instead of seeing people as interruptions, God wants me to see people as opportunities to make much of Him, as a means of my sanctification, and as a reminder it isn’t all about me (see #4).

He’s Still Working on Me

I wish I was more patient than I am.  But growing in patience doesn’t have to be wishful thinking.  Through the Spirit’s work, through the Word of God, and through some constant reminders, I can see the Lord sanctifying me in His grace.


God’s Grace in New Covenant Ministry…The Notes

The notes from yesterday’s sermon are below.  If you’d like to listen to the sermon you can go here.

GOD’S GRACE IN NEW COVENANT MINISTRY

2 Corinthians 3:1-18

1. New covenant ministry is a ministry of the Holy Spirit

2. New covenant ministry transforms lives through the Spirit

3. New covenant ministry uses Spirit-empowered proclaimers

4. New covenant ministry is possible because someone better than Moses, and something better than the Law, has come.

5. New covenant ministry expresses God’s grace through opening blind eyes to the glory of Jesus.


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