Wednesday, December 27, 2006

THE NECESSITY OF TIME SPENT WITH GOD



Matt. 14:22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

The one great need in the life of every Christian is time alone with God. We see here in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus did not allow the demands of ministry to interfere with His fellowship with the Father. A short while ago I was preparing a sermon for the Lord’s Day and came upon a portion of Scripture in 1 Timothy 2 that made a similar impression on me. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; (verses 1,2a). What struck me about Paul’s exhortation to pray for all men, but especially those in authority is the vital purpose of such prayer which is stated at the end of verse 2,” that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." Here is the mark that we as believers should aim for. A peaceable life that is marked by godliness and honesty! Matthew Henry, was of the conviction that the Christian’s duty is summed up in those two words, godliness and honesty. Godliness encompasses our worship of God that is evidenced by our sacrificial love for the Lord, and honesty (gravity) our duty toward men who behold our testimony. As I understand it, godliness is spiritual shorthand for “a holy manner of life” (2 Peter 3:11). Honesty before men is the sincerity of our convictions that bear witness to the truth we profess. These two spiritual fruits do not come accidentally in our life. The Holy Spirit produces them in us as He directs our thoughts heavenward in our quiet times before the God. As we have already seen, the Lord Jesus set the example for us. He retreated from the crowds to be alone with His Heavenly Father. Can we afford to do less? When I fail to spend time with the Lord I begin to falter in my spiritual walk and I fail the very ones who are the objects of my ministry. How foolish of me to ever think that I am a spiritual giant who can take on the worldly Goliath without the blessing of the Lord upon me. A blessing that can only time from time in His presence. Brethren, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Let us encourage one another to maintain a quiet time with God each day. Only in such an hour will we be able to follow in spirit the word of Eli to Samuel, “Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:9). As we approach a new year I can think of no better resolution than to be resolved that no one or nothing will come between us and the blessing of sweet fellowship with our Savior.

God bless you all,

Pastor Tom

Monday, December 11, 2006

AND CAN IT BE

And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior's blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

These words are very familiar to those of us who still love the old hymns of the faith. It is one of my personal favorites. Penned long ago by Charles Wesley, this hymn still provokes me to consider afresh the depth of the rich mercy of God. How Can It Be that the immortal God should take upon Himself the form of lowly man, and shed His precious blood for grievous sinners? Why should He who did no sin (2 Cor. 5:21) face the bar of Divine justice on Calvary’s cross so that I can stand before the highest court in heaven clothed in robes of righteousness (Rev. 19:8) ? In the futility of my own world of thought I have no answer for such questions. However, from the inspired Word of God I gleam the sacred truth that His heart of love is the stream out of which such mercy flows. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:9,10). Little wonder Wesley could exclaim, “Amazing love! How Can It be! What makes this love so amazing is the unconditional nature of it. It was extended to us when we did not deserve it. It was a love bestowed upon a world of men, women, and children from every class and culture who had one thing in common – a rebellious heart. We are sinners by nature, and sinners by choice. Yes, that is our spiritual condition; so how profound, how glorious is the truth that “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). If you and I could meet the greatest philanthropists of the past and present, we would find no comparison to the love of God. No human being could love, has loved, or will ever love like God has loved us. Because He is a Supreme Being, His love is the ultimate love. Because He is infinite, His love cannot be measured by any human standard. Because He is holy, His love is without any impurity. Because He is immutable, His love for us will never falter. Because He is compassionate, His love is a tender and gracious love. Because He is Perfect, his love has a beauty to it that is incomprehensible. Because He is timeless, His love will never end. What more can I say! Such love is the greatest gift I possess, the greatest joy I know. And, my greatest desire is that others may come to know this wonderful love of God, manifest in the person of Jesus Christ, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). May God be forever praised for the gift of His love.
No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
alive in him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Rejoicing in the knowledge that my sins have been forgiven,

Pastor Tom

2 Cor. 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Monday, December 04, 2006

NO GREATER JOY!


The apostle John expressed his shepherd’s heart in a simple sentence found in his third epistle. To a dear friend named Gaius, John wrote, “ I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (verse 4). To walk in the truth simply means to live consistent with the truth you have received. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1). Christian parents can readily identify with John’s sentiments. Every pastor who serves in a local church hopes to realize the very same joy. But why should John’s joy be tied to the obedience of another brother in Christ? I believe it's because John rejoiced to see God glorified in the lives of His redeemed people. When a Christian leads a holy life in humble submission to the truth, God’s might transforming power is revealed. Just as the heavens above declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1), the glory of God is seen on earth when a child of God walks in newness of life. He or she becomes a “living epistle” (2 Cor. 3:2). A living epistle is an open book that the unconverted read. This book communicates a message of hope which magnifies God’s saving grace to a spiritually dark world held captive by Satan. It declares that the Lord who brought forth a beautiful creation out of nothing, is the one who alone can bring beauty out of the ashes of shattered lives. Thus, we find Peter admonishing the true pilgrims of this world to live a ‘noble life’ among the pagans (the lost) so that they may observe our good works and one day be counted among those who glorify God (1 Peter 2:12). Brethren, the eyes of many without Christ are on us. I pray that we bring joy to one another and to the Lord by following the example of Gaius, “walking in the truth” .

To God be the glory!

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

FOR ALL THINGS GIVE THANKS

The time of year has come when once again Americans will gather together with family and friends and celebrate Thanksgiving Day. We certainly have many reasons to be a thankful people as we "count our blessings", but how much of the conversation around the table or elsewhere in our homes will actually take the form of praise toward the one who is the source of these blessings. Dear brethren, if we are careful we can easily fail in this regard. This is why we are admonished by David in Psalm 103:1-2 to, "bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:".

Notice that David reminds us to take account of "all his benefits". If we are honest we must admit that we seldom meditate on 'all the blessings' that have come to us from the hand of God. Were we to compromise a list of past, present, and future blessings how great a list it would be! It certainly would include all the material things we possess, but far more than such good & plenteous things are the spiritual riches which are ours in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3). Surely the greatest of our spiritual riches is what David references in verses three and four of the above mentioned Psalm, " 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;". Ponder those thoughts for just a few moments and your heart must swell up with praise and thanksgiving to God. He has forgiven all of our transgressions, he has healed a heart ravaged by sin, and made it a fit abode for His Spirit. He has redeemed our life from eternal destruction, and crowned us with His lovingkindness and tender mercies. Blessings like these are not deserved. They cannot be earned. They come to us from the gracious hand of God who alone is full of goodness. Child of God, on this Thanksgiving Day, find a quiet place where you can be alone with God. Meditate on all that He has give to you, bow your knee, and render unto Him praise and thanks for having provided all that you need in this life and the life to come.

1 Cor. 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

2 Cor. 9:15
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you,

Pastor Tom

Monday, November 13, 2006

BLESSED FELLOWSHIP




One of the great blessings of the Christian life is the joy of spending time with other believers. I have experienced many such wonderful times of Christian fellowship. The word fellowship in the original language is 'koinonia' which etymologically has to do with something people have in common. For instance, Paul spoke of Titus as"mine own son after the common faith:" (Titus 1:4). Jude verse 3 speaks of a common salvation. One of the earliest Christian documents, the Apostles' Creed contains the words, "I believe in the communion of saints." This communion is based on the union of the sinner to Christ Jesus by faith. A.W. Tozer said, "Whoever is born of God is one with everyone else who is born of God. Just as gold is always gold, wherever and in whatever shape it is found, and every detached scrap of gold belongs to the true family and is composed of the same element, so every regenerate soul belongs to the universal Christian community and to the fellowship of the saints." The picture of the early Christian community in Acts 2 captures Tozer's sentiments beautifully,"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (verses 41,42). How marvelous, how wonderful is God's love to toward us when manifested by other believers with whom we enjoy such a strong spiritual bond. Natural family ties could not be stronger because Christian fellowship is more than just being together, it is sharing things together for the cause of Christ. We have learned to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). We have learned to "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). We have learned to suffer together, pray together, worship together, and wait together for the return of our Savior. No wonder the disciple whom Jesus loved could write, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ " (1 John 1:3). Having walked with Jesus and seen the greateness of His power and grace, John wanted others to come to know the spiritual riches of fellowship with Him and in so doing, the riches of fellowship among those who constitute His family. I have experienced those two great blessings in my life, fellowship with Christ, and precious moments with other saints whom He has redeemed. My thanks to all of you for your fellowship in Jesus Christ.

To Him be the glory forever,

Pastor Tom






Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST GOD'S WORD?




There are many reasons why I trust the Bible. I will not take the time to list them, but rather focus on one very significant thing that gives the Bible credibility. To put it succinctly, the Bible has "staying power". Upon reading a brief commentary on the book of Jeremiah which I have been studying I was struck by a comment from Thomas Watson. Watson was an English clergyman (1620-1686) best known for A Body of Divinity, long regarded as a Puritan masterpiece. Watson's love and defense of the holy Scriptures was prominent in his writings. Consider for example what he said about the ‘staying power of the Bible’: “We may know the Scripture to be the Word of God by its miraculous preservation in all ages. The holy Scriptures are the richest jewel Christ has left us; and the church of God has so kept these public records of heaven, that they have not been lost. The Word of God has never wanted enemies to oppose it, and, if possible to extirpate it…. But God has preserved this blessed Book inviolable to this day. The devil and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light, but could never blow it out; a clear sign that it was lighted from heaven.”

I give a hearty “amen” to Watson’s praise of God’s Word. There are few things in life that have real “staying power". Material things come and go, the old are cast out and the new ushered in, but we can be thankful that The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8). Take time to enjoy God’s Word today and you will discover that it will give you “staying power” in the spiritual battles we face daily.


Psalm 119:147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Blessings to you in Jesus name,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

ELECTION DAY IS HERE


Today is election day in America. As a citizen of this country and a Christian committed to the Lordship of Christ, I believe it is my responsibility to vote for those candidates best qualified to serve all Americans, and defend this nation from all threats foreign and dosmetic. They must be men and women with the courage of conviction who will never capitulate their will to the will of the ungodly for political gain. I will look for candidates who will protect the rights of the unborn and fight for traditional family values that good Americans have long cherished. The Bible teaches that "righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Pro.14:34). This being true, America may be tottering on the precipice. Yet, as I go to the polls I am optimistic. The optimism I retain is not because I believe that my choices will prevail, but because I believe that ultimately God's will must prevail. An ancient prophet in Israel declared, "blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: " (Daniel 2:20). This belief in the sovereignty of God in all realms of life is well established in the political sermons of the American founding era. Let us take up our patriotic duty and vote, bearing in mind Proverbs 21:1, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." Evil may seem to be winning the day, but do not lose heart brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a day coming when "the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). How we all long for that day when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).


May God bless and keep you ever close to Him.

Pastor Tom

Monday, October 30, 2006

WHAT IF THERE WAS NO CHURCH!



We have all heard the expression "we don't appreciate what we have until we no longer have it." I know from experience that this has proven true many times in my life. We often fail to see the real worth of something until it is gone. Think for a moment what it would be like to suddenly lose someone you dearly loved. As a pastor I know it is easy to find fault with a church. I have had my fair share of complaints when I was on the other side of the pulpit. Now people sometimes share their complaints with me. To some degree they may be justified. There is no perfect church this side of heaven. No perfect pastor, no perfect way of worship. But what it would be like if you found yourself with no place to worship? No fellowship with other believers you once delighted in. No solemn assembly to publicly proclaim the goodness and glory of God. No place where you could gather together with the saints of God and go boldly before the throne of His grace in prayer. No exposition of the Word of Truth found in the Holy Scriptures. No communion around the Lord's Table. Would you not long to be back where you once enjoyed such spiritual refreshments for you soul? Brethren, I pray that we learn to appreciate all that God has given us in the place we call "our church. " Above all, may the Lord of the church, our Savior Jesus, be the one whom we seek to please and serve.

Pastor Tom

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A WORM IN THE APPLE


The following illustration serves to remind us to be aware of the origin and end result of sin.

Have you ever bitten into an apple and found a worm in it, and yet the outside of the apple showed no hole or entry point for the worm? How did the worm get inside the apple? Clearly he could not have burrowed in from the outside. The fact is that an insect lays an egg in the apple blossom. Some time later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats his way out. Sin, like the worm, begins in the heart and finds a way out in thoughts, words, and actions.

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Brothers and sisters I pray that we examine our hearts carefully and through the power of the Spirit of God within us, confess and forsake every sin. How many lives have been ruined by some seemingly little worm (sin) ?

Be on guard!

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

THINK ON THESE THINGS


If you spend any amount of time reading the newspaper or watching the news on television, your mind is filled with thoughts and images that evidence the reality of the fallen world in which we live. We hear of wars, terror threats, famine, the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, murders, corrupt & immoral politicians etc. Even the creation is in a state of bondage as Paul wrote in in Romans 8:22, "for we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." On Sunday morning, October 16, 2006, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck the big island of Hawaii, a place that is called 'Paradise' in travel journals. Surely there is no paradise on earth. What can the child of God do to maintain a heavenly perspective which gives him hope and peace in the midst of the daily deluge of bad news? Fill your mind with the truth of God's Word. The promises of God and the teachings found in Scripture will give you a true joy while you are still present in a fallen world. Keep 'looking up' for your redemption (deliverance) is near (Luke 21:28).

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

May the peace of Christ Jesus be yours now and forever,

Pastor Tom

Monday, October 16, 2006

REAL CHRISTIANITY


How often have you heard it said that the world needs to see "Real Christianity" in action? Sometimes as we go about our daily business we forget the admonition of Scripture that we are living epistles (2 Corinthians 3:2). Recently I read an excerpt from a sermon by John Venn (1759-1813) that addresses this matter. Venn was pastor to William Wilberforce who converted to Christianity in 1785 and worked to abolish the slave trade in the British West Indies. Wilberforce was greatly influenced by Venn’s vision of a Christianity that truly impacts the culture. Here is what Venn preached:

"Let us be convinced that all prayer, all preaching, all knowledge, are but means to attain a superior end; and that end the sanctification of the heart and of all the principles on which we are daily acting. Till our Christianity appears in our conversation, in our business, in our pleasures, in the aims and objects of our life, we have not attained a conformity to the image of our Saviour, nor have we learned His Gospel aright".


1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.


Brother and sisters, let us learn the gospel aright and preach it in word and deed for the glory of Christ.

Pastor Tom

Thursday, October 12, 2006

REDEEMING THE TIME


Good morning!


It's the start of another new day. Last week a fellow believer gave me a very special gift. It was an hourglass with a small brass plate on it with the words - Redeeming the time because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16. For the past year I had a sticky note with that verse pasted on my computer monitor. It is so easy to 'waste time', but we as believers living in an evil day are to be good stewards of the time God has given to us. What will we do with our time for His glory? One very urgent thing we can do is "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). The heavenly minded Christian is to maintain an attitude of prayer and praise while he walks the pilgrim path. In so doing we will always be "sensitive" to the Spirit of God and ready to share the light of God's Word with those in darkness.


Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


A debtor to grace,


Pastor Tom

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NO GREATER THAN HIS PRAYER LIFE


It is easy to preach about prayer and talk to others about the need for prayer, but hard to pray. The title of this post is taken from a bookmark that I have on my bulletin board that sits above my desk. On the back are the words of Leonard Ravenhill who said, "the church has many organizers, but few agonizers; many who pay, but few who pray; many resters, but few wrestlers; many who are enterprising, but few who are interceding. People who are not praying are playing.... in the matter of effective praying, never have so many left so much to so few... Brethren, let us pray.


But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer (1 Peter 4:7).


How may I pray for you?


Pastor Tom

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP


I recently read these words from pastor & author Warren Wiersbe: “I have learned that preaching is an act of worship and that my message must be a sacrifice placed on the altar to the glory of God.” As one called to preach God's Word I find those words so very convicting. My sermon on the Lord's Day must be the fruit of a life lived for God without reservation.

We cannot present any sacrifice that would be acceptable to God, or render any service to the Lord, if we do not first offer up the whole of our life to Him. Men may applaud our efforts but only the Lord sees the heart.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (act of worship) .
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


In His name,
Pastor Tom




Monday, October 09, 2006

WELCOME TO THE ARMCHAIR THEOLOGIAN


Welcome to the first post of armchair-theology. In case you're wondering, the armchair theologian studies hard to be a Berean (Acts 17:10-11) knowing that the secret things belong unto God (Deu. 29:29). We will see where this adventure leads. Always my prayer is that God would be glorified. "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14).

God bless,

Pastor Tom.