March 24, 2009

Grace Abounding: Laboring in the Fields

The past 3 weeks have been very difficult ones, however, they have also been filled with God's grace as it continually flows through Christ to all who live by the Spirit (John 1:16,17; Romans 8:9,10,11). Without going into detail, I will say that I am very thankful to God for all the saints who are praying for my family and for the church I attend. I have also been learning Spanish much better than before, and can understand it pretty comfortably when hearing it spoken. I can even converse in Spanglish with Latin Americans in Philadelphia when witnessing on the streets. I have met many people, one man from Ivory Coast spoke French, and we were able to find him a Bible to read in his language. Another time, I talked to a young man from the "Hebrew Israelites" and just exhorted him with love to read Romans and stop following those who distort the truth. He reasoned with me for a few minutes out of the Bible, then walked away mad. May the Lord grant him and those with him a humble heart of repentance and genuine faith in Christ.

In addition, tomorrow early in the morning, I plan on taking a trip to the Dominican Republic with two Christian brothers, and our plan is to take some gospel tracts and spend almost a week witnessing to people on the streets. We are going to meet a friend and by God's grace, perhaps some other people who will join us in our endeavor. Although I am not giving a lot of detailed information, I am asking for sincere prayer that God would open up communication with people, open their hearts up and also reveal His Son for the salvation of sinners.

Thank you and may the Lord bless all who lay their hands to the plow with joy, and don't look back!

March 21, 2009

Grace Gems: Spurgeon's Ant

If there were an ant at the door of your granary

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do not be afraid--for I Myself will help you--declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 41:14

This morning, let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us:
"I Myself will help you. It is but a small thing for Me, your God, to help you. Consider what I have done already. What! not help you? Why, I bought you with My blood. What! not help you? Why, I have died for you! And if I have done the greater--will I not do the lesser? Help you? Before the world began--I chose you. I laid aside My glory and became a man for you. I gave up My life for you! And if I did all this--I will surely help you now. If you had need of a thousand times as much help--I would give it to you. You require little, compared with what I am ready to give. It is much for you to need--but it is nothing for Me to bestow.

What! not help you? Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of your granary, asking for help--it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat! Just so, you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency!"

"I Myself will help you!" O my soul, is not this enough? Bring your empty pitcher here! Surely this well will fill it. Hasten! gather up your needs, and bring them here--your emptiness, your woes, your troubles. Behold, this river of God is full for your supply. What more can you desire? The Eternal God is your helper!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

Grace Gems: It Kindles in the Heart

The following quote by A. W. Pink is very true. Romans 8:29,30 would make a good reference this subject.

It kindles in the heart

(Arthur Pink)

Whom God justifies--those He also sanctifies.

Whom He legally saves--He experimentally saves.

Where the righteousness of Christ is imputed to an
individual--a principle of holiness is imparted to him;
the former can only be ascertained by the latter.

The merits of Christ's finished work are reckoned to
my account--only if the efficacy of the Holy Spirit's
work is evident in my soul and life.

Wherever Christ's redemption is truly received by
faith--it kindles in the heart, an intense hatred
of sin, and the deepest love and gratitude unto God.

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

March 19, 2009

James White speaks about Christ's Humility: good sermon

Following the link below is a sermon preached by Dr. James White from Alpha & Omega Ministries. It is a very good reminder of how Christ is our example as Christians to be obediently humble and consider others as better than ourselves.

Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV:
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

March 17, 2009

No Condemnation! Study Note on Romans 8:1

(Note: in Romans chapter 8, verse 1 must be read in context with the rest of the chapter to get the best and fullest understanding of the great doctrine of the believer's assurance in Christ. We have assurance of salvation, only as long as we are both in Christ and walking in the Spirit. - see Romans 8:1-10)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 ESV).

It literally says in Greek something like this, "None therefore now sentence of condemnation those in Christ Jesus", which could be translated, "Therefore, there is now no sentence of condemnation* for those in Christ Jesus."

*The word for condemnation (katakrima G2631) is a legal term and means to be judicially sentenced to condemnation.

The word "therefore" indicates a conclusion drawn from what has already previously been explained, specifically, that one is justified by faith in Christ Jesus apart from works of the law (Rom 3:28). If a man or woman who is united to Christ by faith is freely forgiven of all sin (Rom 4:7-8), as well as freely granted the perfect righteousness of God as a gift (Rom 3:21,24), it must be concluded then that there cannot be any condemnation for them. It is not possible to condemn anyone whom God has justified (Rom 8:33), and all who are united to Christ Jesus by faith (trusting faith resulting in obedience from the heart) are completely justified and therefore free from condemnation. "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:39). Praise be to our wonderful God!

March 13, 2009

They Speak Peace While Evil is in Their Hearts

I am reposting this meditation on Psalm 28 today, because I've been thinking about God's grace toward sinners like myself. Please read it and let me know what you think. Grace and peace - Penn.

"Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neghbors
while evil is in their hearts." (Psalm 28:3 ESV).

In this Psalm, David is pleading for mercy from the LORD so that he will not end up "like those who go down to the pit" (Ps. 28:1). I was once one of those people who was sinking down, and like David, I can remember taking long walks and praying for help, "Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary." (Ps. 28:2).

After writing his pleas for mercy from God, David then says such revealing things about sinful people:
"Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts. Give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them no more." (Ps. 28:3-5).

That is a scary passage! "Because they do not regard the works of the LORD... he will tear them down..." And yet, David himself is pleading not to go down with them, which means that David himself knew he had sinned. Nevertheless, the fate of all who trust in their own works to save them and do not seek mercy by the grace of God, is perfectly described in this Psalm. He says they "speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts." They say a lot of good words, but they really hate the people they are talking to (or at least despise them in many ways). I think it is also like they talk as if nothing bad will happen to them, even though their hearts are full of sin. They think God will not punish them, or that somehow they will not get what perhaps others deserve, so they imagine peace for themselves and those around them. How many times and in how many ways have we done this? How have we spoken "peace" to someone when in our hearts we did not mean it?

Then David prays this, "Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward." (Ps. 28:4). That is what the wages of sin is all about... getting what we deserve (Romans 6:23). If we think that our works can do us any good, when our hearts are so far from loving God fully in them all, then the end result is debt. And in this case the debt being paid to them is one of justice and punishment for their manipulative and scheming works while they pretended peace.

Grace is not in the picture for these folks, since grace is God's work, and it says "they do not regard the works of the LORD" (Ps. 28:5). They trusted in their plans, in their ways, in their manipulation of the people around them, but they did not regard God's works. God is a God of truth, as well as mercy and grace. God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world full of grace and truth, so that all who humble themselves in repentance and trust in Him who died and rose will be forgiven completely (John 1:14; Acts 10:39-43; 11:18; Hebrews 7:25). I used to be a young man, like so many others, who acknowledged what Jesus had done for me, and even claimed I trusted Him as my personal Savior, but I did not have regard for the works of the LORD. I regarded myself, my ways, my wants, my... my... my whatever.

Then God brought me to the end. And like David, I can now say, "Blessed be the LORD! for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." (Ps. 28:6-7). Notice that David speaks of "the LORD" as the one who is "blessed" and "the LORD is my strength", and how He has heard... He helps those who trust... my heart exults and sings thanks to Him. When works are at the center of religion, it is all about us, but when it is grace that reigns, we see it is all about Him who alone can save with mercy. Then we also say, "Blessed be the LORD!"

Of course, no Psalm ends without a message about the Messiah. All the Bible is Christ centered, and here we find a wonderful reference to the "anointed" (Christ in Greek), and to the fact that the LORD is the "Shepherd" of his people, which means that Jesus is God in the flesh (John 10:11). These Old Testament references to Christ always amaze me!

"The LORD is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever." (Psalm 28:8-9).

March 12, 2009

A Portrait of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, part 4

Here are chapters 7 and 8 of my short summary of the Gospel of Mark (simply click the tag at the bottom of the post to read the others or click here):

7. Jesus severely corrected the hypocrisy of many religious people, because they honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. They were rejecting God's commandments for the teachings of men. He explained to them that it is not what enters, but what comes out of the heart and mouth that makes a person unclean. Jesus said that from people's hearts come "evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness." (Mark 7:21-22). He then cast out a demon from a non-Jewish woman's daughter, and blessed her for her great faith, because she believed that she could still find mercy at the Lord's table as a dog finds a crumb. Jesus also healed a man who could not hear or speak, so that he heard and spoke clearly.

8. With great compassion, Jesus fed another large crowd of more than 4,000 people, simply with seven loaves and a few small fish. Everyone ate to their satisfaction and found seven full baskets left over. Afterward he was deeply grieved when his enemies deceitfully asked him for a sign from heaven. Instead of giving it, he rebuked them for their willful unbelief and left in a boat. Then he warned his students about hypocrites and their ways, but his own students still had very little faith in him. When a blind man was brought to him, he fully restored the man's sight. Then they traveled on. Jesus asked his students, "who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ." (Mark 8:29). He charged them to keep it a secret, and told how he was going to be betrayed, suffer and die on a cross, then be raised again in three days. When Peter tried to correct him for this, Jesus rebuked Peter. He charged all his followers to also be willing to deny themselves and take up their crosses after him.

March 9, 2009

To Examine Our Faith

Jesus said that He came to give life to His sheep by giving His life for them, and that He came to give life more abundantly (John 10:10). Only those who continue in His word will know the truth and be set free from their sins (John 8:36). So we can realize that it is absolutely essential to continue in the word and teachings of Christ. That is the only way to freedom. Satan lied to Eve in the garden and made her think true freedom was found in doing whatever she desired to do, but that was a deception (see Genesis 3). It is the same lie we all believe whenever we follow our own will instead of God's will revealed to us in the Bible.

1 Samuel 15:23
records the words that Samuel said to King Saul when the king did not do what God had commanded,
"For rebellion* is as the sin of divination, and presumption* is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king."

*[rebellion = the action or process of resisting authority, control or convention; e.g. against parents; in this case it is against God's word.]

*[presumption = carries the idea of assuming something is right or OK without a proper basis for it; e.g. I may make decisions based on what I personally think is right for me, but fail to decide based on what God says is right in the Bible.]

Rom 1:5
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,...

The gospel always brings about obedience in the lives of those who believe it. Obedience to the law of God does not save anyone, because it is the obedience of Christ that saves all who believe the truth (Rom 5:19). But our obedience to Christ is the essential fruit and proof of true saving faith, without which there is no salvation (James 2:14).

Faith in Christ always produces obedience from a genuine heart of love for God and for others. The New Testament tells us we must examine our faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). It is possible to genuinely love someone and still question the sincerity of their faith, just as the apostles did in order to help the early Christians. It is not an unloving or judgmental thing to do, but is necessary because it helps people become more assured of the gospel and their own salvation. The moment we think we are not in need of being tested is the very moment we are most blinded to what we actually do need. If you are not sure about whether you are truly born again and saved for eternal life by the grace of God in Christ, then it would be best to go to Jesus now in prayer and plead with Him to show you Himself through the Bible and ask Him to make your faith genuine and lasting.

March 4, 2009

Grace Abounding from Philly

It has been a while since my last grace abounding update since I have insufficient time to write. Therefore, I have posted an 18 min. conversation I had with a man on the street. This is one example of many people who stop to talk to a "lunatic" street evangelist. It is by no means the perfect example of evangelism, but I hope it will motivate some of you to pray and perhaps go out and talk to people by God's grace. God bless!

(Note: The conversation focuses somewhat on baptism in the beginning, so if you are confused about a proper understanding of baptism, then please see some of the resources I have linked to on my sidebar. Thanks.)