Encouragement

Encouragement

Does God Still Reign?

At the beginning of 2015, I preached a sermon (which you can find here) titled “God Reigns in 2015.” I argued that despite all the uncertainty in the world, God still reigns. In the sermon I used the following examples of uncertainty in our world: Robin Williams death by suicide, the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and Malaysian Flight 370 vanishing during a routine flight. Not to diminish any of these uncertainties, but Covid-19, stock market crash, and political and…

The Father of Lights in a Changing World

In James 1:17 a curious title is given to God. God is called “the Father of lights.” Why does James call God “the Father of lights”? James calls God “the Father of lights” because he wants to communicate that God is unchanging. But how does God as “the Father of lights” relate to him being unchanging? Since God is the creator of the lights—the sun, moon, and stars, He does not change. The creation experiences constant change. Even in the lights. The…

Civil Government Is Not a Human Creation

In Romans 13:1 Paul states: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” At least one implication can be drawn from this verse: civil government is not fundamentally a human creation. I say this because in political theory, several theories of government origin exist, to name a few: Government exists because of the consent of the governed Government exists because of an…

Two Insufficient Ways to Deal with Difficulty

Over the years I have recognized that people deal with difficulty in generally one of two ways. One person deals with difficulty by looking out. When difficulty and conflict are present, the tendency is to want to look away and escape. Escaping can take many forms, like binge watching TV, gorging on food, or spending above your means. Another person deals with difficulty by looking in. When difficulty and conflict are present, the tendency is to want to look in and fix.…

Easter is Not Canceled

You might read this title and think: My Easter has been canceled! My church is not assembling. Easter brunch is not happening and my family is not gathering. Easter is canceled for me! Yes, churches are not assembling, restaurants are not open, and families are not meeting. But Easter is not canceled. I say Easter is not canceled because of the nature of Easter. All the things I’ve mentioned thus far—church assemblies, Easter brunches, and family gatherings—are merely celebrations of…

God’s Grace and Sovereignty in Troubled Times

Charles Spurgeon observes of 2 Kings 6:6 that no matter how many of life’s heavy burdens threaten to overwhelm us, we can take it to the Lord in prayer. Perhaps you are facing desperation in a relationship, job, or an unimaginable task that is just too heavy for you to bear, where are you to turn? Too often we only turn to prayer when we are in agony because our own abilities to resolve the situation to our liking has…

Standing Firm in Christ

In 1 Cor 15:58, Paul reminds the Corinthians that the blood of Christ redeemed them and because of that they can stand fast in Him. The times we live in are unlike any other. Not only are we dealing with the Coronavirus, but our world is such a different place now than it has ever been, filled with prosperity and material abundance, medical technology that is second to none and the ability to travel around the world faster and with…

The Coronavirus and the Last Days

With many stores and venues closed and shelves remaining understocked, I’m sure you, like me, have drifted to thoughts of: Is this the beginning of the end? As my mind ponders all the ramifications of the coronavirus on my 401k balance, my favorite restaurant, and our church body, I am reminded of two truths: (1) We are living in the last days and (2) Jesus is coming back sooner today than he was yesterday. I want you to know that…

The One Principle that Will Save Your Marriage

One principle, if consistently followed, will save your marriage. The principle is easy to understand but hard to practice. The principle is this: See yourself as the problem not your spouse. I get this from Jesus’ wise instructions in Matthew 7:3-5: “Why do you look at the s peck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck…

Why Is God Enough?

In a recent sermon, I made the case that no matter what we experience in this world (good or bad), being in a close relationship with God through Jesus Christ brings lasting satisfaction and goodness, for God is good and enough. Of course, the key part of this sentence is the foundation upon which it is built: God is good and He is enough. God’s benevolence and sufficiency brings lasting satisfaction and goodness. But why? Puritan, Thomas Watson, helped me…

Encouragement During Temptation

We all need encouragement, especially when temptation to sin is weighing heavily upon us. Thankfully, the Scripture gives us two encouragements to help us fight temptation: Temptation is common to man. In temptation, God is faithful. If you’re familiar with Scripture, you will recognize that these two encouragements come from 1 Cor 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,…

Hope for the Darkness of Depression

Of all the words to describe depression, one word stands out: darkness. If you have ever felt depressed, your world is dark. Darkness permeates every aspect of your life. Everything is dark. One author calls depression a “stubborn darkness.” The Psalmist, in a time of depression, said: “Darkness is my closest friend” (Ps 88:18). Turning to another Psalm, we encounter a man in deep darkness. He laments, “Why are you in despair, Oh my soul? Why are you distressed within…

What Does God Hold Precious?

We hold items precious, not necessarily because of their intrinsic monetary value, but because of the emotional and situational value: a ring given by a lover, a home run ball caught from your favorite player, a homemade birthday card from your child. What we hold precious, we wouldn’t trade for the world. But something I hold precious might not be precious to you. As the saying goes: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. But have you ever thought about…

What If the Resurrection Never Happened?

Easter has come and gone. So why post a blog about Easter? The simple reason is because the resurrection is not a holiday to celebrate once a year; the resurrection matters every day of the year. I know this because of what would be true about us if the resurrection never happened. If Christ were not raised, three devastating realities would be true about us: We would be liars. If Christ were not raised, “we are then found to be…

What Benefit is the Providence of God?

God’s providence is meticulously detailed.  Puritan Ezekiel Hopkins once wrote, “Not one particle of dust moves on a well-travelled road, but God raises it, directs its motion, and directs it to the specific place he appointed for it.  The strongest wind cannot move it from its appointed place.”  Even better, Jesus states our Father’s meticulous providence like this: “Not [a sparrow] will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matt 10:29). Knowing God’s providence is meticulously detailed is one…

Who Threw Jonah Into the Sea?

    The answer to the question: who threw Jonah into the sea is simple. Jonah 1:15 says, “So they [the sailors] picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, . . .”   However, upon closer reading of the text, someone else threw Jonah into the sea. To see this, we need to review the story. In chapter one of the book of Jonah, Jonah is absolutely set on running from God (1:3). He despises God’s call to preach…

What I Should Not Do If I Am Offended at Church?

The local church is composed of sinner-saints. We are sinners, and we are saints. Sinners will offend you. And you, as a sinner, will offend others. So, what should you do if you are offended by someone in your church? There is a lot you should do, but here is what you should not do: do not forsake assembling together. I know the natural inclination is to let an offense keep you from coming to church (or sometimes you want…

A Listening God

Sometimes, in the course of life, you only want someone to listen to you. You don’t want them to fix you or fix your problems. You want them to listen. When you find a person who listens to you, maybe a spouse or a friend, you know that person is expressing love. One day I was reading the Bible and came across a verse that teaches us that God is a listening God. He has a listening ear. And this…

Sin Is In Prison

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and union by faith into that death and resurrection, you have been justified and definitively sanctified. The condemnation due to sin has been removed. You are a saint. And this means that your relationship to sin has changed. When once sin held sway over you, you now have the power, through the Holy Spirit, “to not let sin reign in your mortal body” (Rom 6:12). Sin no longer reigns; righteousness reigns. Unfortunately,…

Books Change Lives

The same book, much like the same sermon, can have different affects on different people. God, through his Spirit, uses the written word (or spoken word) as he pleases. In light of this, as I look back on my Christian pilgrimage, a few books, rooted in the Scriptures, stand out that God has been pleased to substantially influence my spiritual life. These three books impacted my life the most in the first ten years of my Christian pilgrimage (in no…
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