What is at the top of your prayer list? What issue consumes your prayer life? When you bow your head, what is it that you seek with the most fervor and zeal?
Is it God's glory?
It may be argued that the Lord's prayer has a rank and file to it. The first three petitions focus on the Lord directly. The second three focus on our personal interests:
The first of the first petitions has to do with God's honor. It is, you may say, the "first and greatest commandment" of prayer, ranking before our daily bread and even our salvation.
To hallow is to regard as holy, sacred, and with great admiration. Negatively speaking, we may say that it forbids any flippant attitude towards the things of God, emptiness of heart for God, or irreligious use of those items which pertain to God.
What if we began to re-prioritize our prayers along these lines? What if, instead of starting our prayers with our needs and earth bound concerns, we asked for a greater reverence for God in our lives:
Would not many of our problems be corrected if we sought and achieved this by prayer?
To be sure, blasphemy increases problems. "I will prepare your grave, for you are vile," said the Lord (Nahum 1:4). We know that He does not hold him "guiltless who takes His name in vain."
But we also know that God will "honor those who honor him." (1 Sam 2:30). Does this not make it all the more imperative to pray for God's name to be hallowed?
It is not by chance that this statement stands at the head of the Lord's Prayer. The glory of God is to be the chief pursuit of our lives. Let this priority thus beget the priority of our prayer life: Hallowed be Thy name.
Want to develop your marriage with godly goals? The following article provides you with some specialized areas of concentration that may be helpful for you as you seek to
1. Speak Only Positive and Good Things About Each Other!
Words are very powerful and have meaning. Studies of couple who continued to speak positive and uplifting words to one another had meaningful marriages. If you want the other person to love and take care of you for a lifetime, invest in speaking good things about one another. Compare your relationship to a bank account. The more positive deposits you make, the more valuable your account.
2. Don’t Hold Grudges!
There will be disagreements. Forgive easily and to work on issues. One of the marvelous things about relationships is that we are all different. A difference of opinion does not mean a couple is not compatible. It just means that we all have different opinions. We all have different ways to accomplish the same thing or there are times when the other person has a better idea.
3. Pray For One Another Every Day!
Marriage is a sacred institution and involves a spiritual battle. There are forces of evil seeking to break it apart or cause friction within it. Therefore, we must dedicate ourselves to praying with and for our mates as much as possible. Set time apart each day to pray for your spouse's needs, protection, and advancement. Pray that the Lord would show you how to better serve your spouse and be useful for advancing their happiness.
4. Buy Things For One Another!
One of the biggest complaints of marriage is when a person stops doing nice things as they did when they were dating. Just because we are now married does not mean for us to stop sending cards, small gifts, flowers, going out on a date, and taking a special time to tell each other you love each other. Things don’t have to be expensive, but it is the thought that counts. Remember to invest in your relationship!
5. Worship Together!
Marriage is difficult enough without maintaining a commitment to worship (weekly and daily). There are too many distractions and influences that will hinder a relationship without God. Remember your wedding vows, “What God has joined together.” Being close to God allows a couple to seek wisdom and guidance in their relationship. It also provides a willingness to allow forgiveness to play an important part of your marriage.
6. Touch, Spend Special Time Alone!
There is something special about touching! One thing is that is shows the importance of each other. Touch never solves disagreements, but it does give validation to the fact that you care for the other person. So be sure to give hugs, put your arm around your spouse, or give a simple yet loving touch on the shoulder. Affirm your spouse and spread your affection through small, daily contacts.
7. Don’t Let Arguments or Disagreements Get Out Of Hand
Disagreements in every relationship will happen, even in the best of marriages. Either of you can call a “time out” to set a time to discuss disagreements or you may agree to disagree for that moment.
Remember when disagreements arise, it is always best to try to limit your anger and communicate to each other in positive ways. Never name call or place negative put-downs to one another. Do not use humor to make the other person look stupid. Successful marriages have learned the importance of loving one another without using negative influences or trying to get one’s way. These will only destroy a relationship. Once you fully understand this as a couple, you are on your way to having a more successful and productive relationship.
8. Express Your Gratitude!
Don't take your spouse for granted. Did she get the kids dressed? This was a monumental thing. Sure it has happened a thousand times, but it is no less significant each time. Make sure she knows that you appreciate it.
Did your husband make any kind of headway on your "honey-do" list? Leave a little note of gratitude for him. Your spouse needs your affirmation and regular praise. In this "home church" we should regularly build one another up and fulfill the Lord's command to be thankful (Col. 3:15).
[The above article was adapted from pastoralcareinc.com]
Our God specifically addresses the problem of worry in Philippians 4. He gives practical guidance to help us enjoy the "peace of God which surpasses all understanding."
In sum, the Lord lays forth 4 steps to gainning the victory over anxiety. We must...
1. Feel Right - Notice the accent on emotional control in Philpians 4. God tells us "do not be anxious." In other words, don't let yourself be dominated by the emotion of worry. Instead, we must "rejoice in the Lord" and "let your reasonableness (i.e. restraint of passion) be known."
Paul promises that we will feel the "Peace of God which surpasses all understanding." But it is of note that God works that peace as we seek to put off ungodly feelings and put on godly feelings.
2. Pray Right - "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Phil 4:6
Sinclar Ferguson once said that prayer is the guilitine of anxiety. When we put our cares in God's hands, we virtually cut the head off the beast of anxiety.
When we pray, we should essentially say, "God, this is your problem, not mine. If I can serve you in it, let me be your vessel. Until then, I trust that you will do what is right."
Joseph Scriven penned majestic words:
O what peace we often forfeit; O what needless pain we bear!
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
3. Think Right - "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Phil. 4:8
"Thought Replacement." It sounds like something out of a George Orwell book. But that's the tactic Scripture tells us to imploy. The rationale is easy to undrestand: If your brain is crammed full of godly thoughts, there won't be room enough for worry.
So replace worrisome thoughts with blessed thoughts. Lift your mind off yourself, the present circumstances, and what the future supoosedly will be. Begin to think theologically and fill your mind with godly thoughts.
Spend your energy adoring God, meditating on His attributes, reflecting on God's law/your duty, praying for others. Get a good book and read it.
4. Do Right - "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Phil. 4:9
A lot of our worries come from sin (financially strapped because I'm spending too much). A lot of our sin stems from our worries (slacking at my job because I'm fretting). If we straighten out our behavior, a lot of reprieve will be had.
Biblically speaking: Work and worry are polar opposites. That's why diligence and obedience are two major steping stones to easing our anxieties.
If we get our feelings, prayers, thoughts, and behavior conforming to God's word, our anxieties will melt away. The peace of God will be ours!
Work on Your Worry!
Is worry a thing for you?
Try applying some of these principles by using this worry worsheet. You'll find that its a meaningful resource for gaining greater peace in your life.
Fear, worry, and anxiety are just feelings - just like anger, guilt, and annoyance. They are, to be sure, a natural part of our humanity. But they are just emotions, and they don't have to govern us and become sin.
God created us as emotive beings. Our emotions are part of who we are. Each of our feelings is part of our divine design and has its place. But, due to the fall, we must keep them in their place.
To be sure, our problems are not our emotions. Our problem is letting ourselves be ruled by our emotions. When we allow our feelings to dominate us and dicatate our behavior (and not the Word of God), that is sin.
Being annoyed with the faucet dripping is not necessarily wrong. That initial annoyance may be said to be a natural feeling. Bashing the sink in with a sledge hammer or yelling at your husband for not fixing it would be sinful. You've just let your emotion drive and control you.
The same applies to fear and worry. Fear of your child being abducted is not necessarily a bad thing. Hovering over them every minute of their lives and not allowing them to take risks or carry out normal life activities is sinful. That fear has come to dominate your behavior. Parenting is no longer about raising a responsible and productive servant whose life is in the hands of God; it is about my control and squelching life.
John Piper once said that "God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you."
Those are beautiful words. When it comes to fear, it is a good thing. Fear is an emotion that reports to us: it tells us something is not right. It reports the fact that there is danger; the potential for harm.
While worry or fear may be a God given guage, it is not a guide. God's word is to be our guide. Thus, we must have the Word of God rule over our emotions and we must tell them how far they are to go. Moreover, we must will what is right in the midst of them.
Did David fear Goliath? Certainly not like the rest of the Israelite soldiers who cowered in their foxholes. These men (if you can call them that!) were guided by fear. The fear had become their boss. They would not serve God, but served the fear.
David may have been scared. Fear may have rightly said, "There's a human tank out there." But even if he did have some level of concern/fear (we are not told exactly), we do know that he courageously ran towards the big oaf and accomplished the Lord's will. Even before going to the battle feild he entrusted himself to God with his words.
When the Bible tells us to "Fear not" or "Do not worry," it is telling us not to let these emotions drive us or divert us from our God given service. When we are annoyed, we actively work to suppress the desire to act on that annoyance. Instead of lashing out, we try to tenderly deal with the source of our annoyance.
When we are fearful, we do the same. We suppress the desire to run, stew, cower, or fret. Instead, we think of God, thank Him for this circumstance to prove Himself to be mighty, call upon His streghth and protection, and actively will to do as He would have us.
Fear is good. It is a guage. We can thank God for the emotion of self preservation (or better yet, the emotion which indicates our need for God's preservation). But it is not a guide. It is just a feeling which, along with all other emotions, must submit to God and be kept in its place.
When dealing with worry, many good steps can be taken. A person can pray about their worries. They may recite Scripture verses to combat their worries. They may try to put their worries out of their mind.
But the worries continue. Despite all these commendable (Biblical!) actions the fears and anxieties may persist. What is the deal?
Perhaps we need to take a step back. The worry-wart may have skipped a most vital step: confession of it. Maybe there is no redemption because you've not owed up to it before God and sought His forgiveness for it.
Scripture is clear about the role of confession. It is not just something to do to "get something off your chest." Confession is means of restoration and redemption.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John tells us that God will not just forgive us for our sin, but cleanse us of it. This is not just a reference to the guilt of our sin. It includes the actual presence of it too. God works to purge away our worrisome fears as we acknowledge the reality of this sin in our lives.
Psalms 51:17 - The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
God loves to see people who are broken for sin. Instead of despising them, He moves near to them to help them. He restores and "renews a right spirit" within them (Ps. 51:10).
Proverbs 28:13 - Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
If we are not confessing our sin, we are concealing it. If that's the case, we will not prosper..
If we don't confess our worry to God, we are concealing our transgression behind a self righteous, works based religion. We end up acting like we don't have a problem or acting like we can handle the problem on our own.
But if we acknowledge the evil we are involved in and take personal responsibilty for our folly, we recieve mercy. God brings the victory of the cross to bear in our lives and the power and presence of worry will begin to wane.
So, next time your thoughts begin to race or feel yourself becoming anxitious, make a point to pray. Humbe yourself before God and confess that you have not kept a quiet and determined mind. Something like this may be approrpriate:
I have not put my faith in you nor hoped in your Soveriegn care. I am troubled by the present situation and have become guilty of stressing about the affairs of life. I acknowledge that I am overly focused on myself: my control, my welfare, my perception before men.
Forgive me for being anxitious and help me to live a life before you that is pleasing. May you give me courage to live and to work whatever may come. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Throughout history membership in a church has been a regular practice. Christians recognized that regular attendance and participation in a local church was important.
In our modern erra this has changed. Today, many people who call themselves Christians don't see the need for regular, weekly fellowship or commitment to any one particular church.
But the Scriptures have quite a bit to say about the need for affiliation with local body of believers. For instance, we find that it is necessary...
1. To be identified with Christ and formally associated with His people
2. To take part in the sacraments.
3. To come under the care and authority of the Elders.
4. To be united in full fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ and enjoy the rights and privileges of the church.
5. To advance the church in the world
Are you in need of a local church fellowship?
Do not be anxious. Fear not. Let not your heart be troubled. Do not be weighed down with the cares of life.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Easier said than done, right?
The Bible is replete with commands not to worry. The admonitions against it are so clear and repetitive that one can easily become worried about becoming worried!
But God's word is clear: We must wage war on worry. We have a duty to not let ourselves be distracted with it or dominated by it.
But how do we do this? How can we experience sanctification in this area?
The first step is to confess it and take responsibility for it. That is to say, when thoughts begin to race around in our minds and we become obsessed with particular situations (real or fantasized), we must own up to the fact that we are in sin. We are in fact disobeying God.
One of the reasons anxiety persists in our lives is because we fail in this, the most simple and basic part of repentance. Instead of turning to God, we will do one of the following:
1. We blame others - I'm worried because my kid is 10 minutes past curfew. My boss was supposed to tell me if I got the promotion last week. It's not my fault I'm strung out, right? Wrong. You may worry about others, but they are not the cause of your worries. Your anxiety is due only to your own sinful proclivity. Don't pass the buck onto them.
2. We minimize it - To many people, worry is not a sin. We don't want to admit that it is a transgression against God and a form of disobedience. We'd rather think of it as "deep concern" or think of ourselves as having a full heart. But we must be true to Scripture and recognize that it is indeed an offense to our Lord.
3. We excuse it - I have a right to be worried, after all I'm his father/mother. I'm a worrier; it's just who I am. Someone has to be concerned around here. We will come up with all kinds of justifications. We will rationalize our sin into perfect reasonableness. But the truth is, we do not have a right or excuse to be all hot and bothered about anything.
4. We think we have no power over it - I can't stop it. I've been this way all my life. It is a disorder. I can only cope and make do. This is the defeatist mentality. Its saying that redemption isn't possible, so why even try repenting? In the words of Churchill, "Never, never, never give up." The Lord has not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
5. We gloss over it - For many, worry isn't even considered to be a sin. They don't think of it as being a real infraction against God's law. It could be thought of as a problem or struggle that they have, but not a sin. But Scripture is clear: it is a grave error and serious offense to God. It must be confessed and repented of.
If we are ever going to seek victory over worry, we must wage war on it. This means we must first come to terms with it and own up to it before God. As we begin taking responsibility for our sin and acknowledging our failures to God, we will be well on our way to victory in that battle.
Over the course of the next year we will be making our confession of faith through the use of the New City Catechism. This contemporary teaching tool covers some of the basics of the Christian faith.
This video gives you a little introduction to the NCC and a brief synopsis of why we as Christians need catechisms for our growth in Christ.
Sure you do. Everyone wants to enjoy the good life. No one wants to wake up and curse the fact that the sun has risen again.
But did you know that it is possible to love life and enjoy good days? In Psalm 34 the Lord tells us the key to making this happen:
Whoever desires to love life and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil and
his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
The first key principle to gaining the good life has to do with your lips. You have to keep your tongue from evil. How is this done? Here are a few of the most common methods:
1. Keep your tongue from speaking evil of God - If we are constantly complaining about what God has done in His daily providence or using His name as an expletive, we shouldn't be surprised if God fills our days with misery. Speaking about the Lord with the utmost reverence and paying verbal respect to His laws, attributes, and worship will make your days much more delightful.
2. Keep your tongue from crude or obscene chatter: Vulgar language is a form of blasphemy. It degrades the good things God has created. But more than that, base talk stem from a heart that lacks cheerfulness, gratitude, and courtesy. Fix these core issues and you will see a drastic change for the better.
3. Keep your tongue from rash promises and empty threats: Words should mean something. They are to communicate truth at all times. They are to be "worth something" just like God's word. When our speech is true, it has weight with others and can be trusted. That leads to many good things in life.
4. Keep your tongue from gossip and slander: Good days and loving life are easy when there is less drama. And that can easily be diminished when you take a tight lipped approach to speaking about others. Loose lips create all kinds of strife and fill your days with undue hardship.
5. Keep your tongue from boasting and prideful clamor: Arrogance is found in overtly speaking well of yourself and in putting down others. Either way, you inflate yourself over others. Remember: When you put yourself on a pedestal, you are either ignored or you easily get knocked off.
The weapons of our warfare ...have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Cor. 10:4
"I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round."
Thus were the words of famed boxer Muhammad Ali. He may have been a pompous jerk, but there was no doubting the fact that he was a powerful force to be reckoned with in the ring. Once you came face to face with the heavyweight champion, you knew that power first hand.
When it comes to the Bible, we can apply Ali's words more directly. Scripture isn't just the greatest; it is the double greatest. There is not one book that can compare with its power. It has a supernatural force that penetrates deep and powerfully moves upon the souls of men. No book can compare with its ability to convict, convert, and built up.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation. The Word of God is living and active, able to pierce down to the innermost parts of the soul. Its nature is to revive, delight the heart, enrich, and suppress evil. For those who are not redeemed, it is the fragrance of death. For those who are unregenerate, it acts like chains that restrain the heart from acting out.
Read anything. Read a novel; the best one you can find. Make it a classic; one that has stood the test of time and been commended by the masses of humanity. Then read the Bible. You will find that while the former may be entertaining, persuasive, informative, or enlightening. It may move you to laugh, cry, or leave you wanting more at the end. But it will not have the same effect as the Bible.
The Scriptures, being divine in nature, have spiritual vitality. They exert a power over you that will either anger or agitate you, or comfort and encourage you.
Perhaps you've had just such an experience. You've had different literature that you've read for a certain amount of time. It actually took over for your devotional reading of Scripture. You enjoyed the reading. You were drawn back to it again and again.
But then you took up the Scriptures. As you read it, you could tell that there was something different about it. It had an impact that was much more significant. It "spoke" to you in a deeper fashion than the other book.
Or perhaps it was the other way around. I've found in my passing out of gospel tracts that more people become intently angered over that little slip of paper than anything else in the world. If I had given them a copy of the Book of Mormon or the JW's Watchtower, they'd probably never would have batted an eye. But since it was God's Word on that paper, it spooked them.
That is a testimony of the inherent power of God's Word. It has an efficacy that goes far beyond all human books. It doesn't just tickle the mind; it touches the soul.
Because we can see and feel the Spirit working by it we can understand that it comes from the Spirit.
An exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago displays a particularly radiant set of diamonds known as "colorless diamonds." These diamonds are some of the most precious stones in all the earth. This is because, unlike most diamonds, they lack the slightest tint of yellow or brown.
In a similar way, the purity of the Bible sets it apart from all other writings. Scripture is distinguished as the highest of books because it does not contain even the slightest fleck of immorality or sinful corruption.
Every human composition, no matter how virtuous it may be in its content, bears some fatal flaw. The taint of sin will be found in it to one degree or another. It may say many wonderful things. It may give much wisdom. But somewhere or somehow it will promote sin and show its earthly origin.
The Bible, however, reveals itself to be divine in nature because it reflects the perfect purity of God Himself. This is why the Christian scriptures have become known throughout history as "the Holy Bible." No other book can bear such an epitaph because no other book can be said to be flawless in doctrine and spotless in moral virtue.
This doesn't mean the Bible is without its detractors. Many men seek to assail the purity of the Scriptures. Many scoffers have said that it promotes murder (i.e. the extermination of the Canaanites), diminishes human dignity (slavery), and presents a sadistic God (one who sacrifices His Son).
But such attacks are without grounds and arise only from a spirit of animosity. The holiness of the Bible is easily discovered when one reads through it.
It doesn't take long to see how vigorously it denounces sin and shows how abhorrent it really is. Never once does it condone the slightest evil or allow for its indulgence. Instead, it roots out sin from the most secret recesses of the heart, guards against it, and leads only to a life of holiness.
To be sure, this is why most people will not dare to read the Bible: they fear it will expose their guilt, remind them of God's vengeance, and lead them away from the corruptions they currently enjoy.
But if you ever needed assurance that the Bible is God's word, all you have to do is read it. It validates itself. As you examine it you will find that each page bears the insignia of a holy God. To be sure, "Every word of God is flawless." Prov. 30:5
There are many creative works that men have produced that may be said to be “inspirational.”
For instance, Michelangelo's paintings are some of the most brilliant of all time. If you watch the old classic “On the Waterfront” or a modern Spielberg film, you will be mesmerized by the quality of cinematography.
In the literary world, Milton’s Paradise Lost displays the mastery that he had over his pen. The oratory power of the ancient Greeks (people like Cicero, Plato, etc) sets them apart and puts them in the lofty category of “classics” because their rhetorical talent is obvious.
All of these present something of the supreme artistry of mankind. These works have a distinct beauty and demonstrate a higher level of creativity than what you normally find on earth.
But one of the distinct proofs for Scripture being the very word of God is that it has a style that is much more profound than all of these. As you read through the pages of Scripture you cannot help but notice that it exudes a heavenly elegance. Or, as theologians have often said, the Spirit of God verifies the divine origin and unique authority of Scripture in the majestic style that we witness in its pages.
The loftiness of the Bible, it should be noted, is not due to any rhetorical embellishment or sophistication. There is no particular cadence, flashy wording, or theatrical technique employed. If the truth be told, the Bible is unabashedly simple. As a matter of fact, it employs such a plain and ordinary style that small children can read and understand it.
Yet, despite having no excessive color or decoration, it is easy to perceive that “the Holy Scriptures breathe out something divine, and surpass all the gifts and graces of human industry.” (Calvin) Or, in the words of the Apostle Paul, Scripture does not possess “enticing words of man’s wisdom,” but it nevertheless is filled with a “demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
One pastor set forth a challenge to anyone to try and create a document that would rival the Bible's unique majesty. Could someone create a fifth gospel? Could another psalm be composed which would trick men to thinking it was penned by the Holy Spirit? The answer is no. For no man can imitate the supernal style of the Spirit.
In effect, imitations has already been attempted. Many other books could have been chosen to be a part of the Bible in the early centuries. They, however, eventually fell by the wayside. Even today, many books put themselves forward as sacred script. But none are recognized to possess the same grandeur that is found in the Bible.
It is not without reason that the Bible has been called the “God of books” and looked at as the most wonderful literary creation of all time. It declares its own uniqueness in every line. And if one wants proof that God speaks in and through His Word, all we must do is read and listen to it.
Hopewell will be having a used book & curriculum sale to help raise money for this year's national Bible Bee qualifiers. Anyone who would like to sell their supplies is welcome to purchase vending space.
The sale is scheduled for June 2nd from 10-4. It will be located in our meeting room at Hedstrom Plastics (100 Hedstrom Drive).
See the flyer below for details or send us an email for more information.
Envy has many vile manifestations (complaints, theft, vandalism, and cheating to name a few). But it mainly lurks within and goes unnoticed by the average onlooker.
To be sure, the outward expressions may be likened to the tip of an iceberg sticking out of the water. The greater mass of it lies deep beneath the surface where nobody can see.
Envy is that grief one feels at the fortune of others. One theologian summed it up as an internal "disquietude." That's merely a fancy way of saying that you're irked because someone has something you don't.
The point is that your soul is not displaying the "quiet," peaceful happiness that accompanies contentment. Instead, you're agitated and given to all kinds of unhealthy emotions and imaginations. You brood, murmur, and are angry. You curse under your breath and you devise scenarios in your mind that are not charitable towards others.
Think about how this irritation is displayed in your own life. You may be sad because don't have those granite counter-tops. You mope and are angry because someone else got the promotion. You secretly hope your neighbor hits a speed bump too hard in his new sports car.
Your discontent has not only robbed you of personal peace, happiness, and thankfulness, but it has put you in a frame of mind that is altogether uncharitable.
Since he Lord requires holiness in the inward parts, subduing inward sin is paramount to our sanctification. To this end, be mindful of the following ways to subdue envy:
1. Savor what God has given you and strive to be thankful for it.
2. Strive with diligence to serve God with what you have. If you are faithful in little things, the Lord will likely add more blessings. If you serve him diligently and maintain a sweet comportment are typically God's means to increase.
3. Consider that God may take away what you do have if you make no contentment in it. "Even what he has will be taken away." Those where the words that haunted the unfaithful steward in the Parable of the Talents.
4. Remember that you are rich. You own more than you had when you first entered life. You possess more than all those who have died. Even what you have should not be in your possession due to having sinned against God and forfeited the right to these blessings.
5. Remember that getting what you want may not be good. Rachel's desire for a child was blown way out of proportion. In the end, God gave her a child, and she ended up dying as she gave birth to him.
This teaching was included in the Hopewell Weekly, Hopewell's weekly newsletter. If you would like to subscribe and stay connected on all the events, teachings, and prayer requests, you can sign up here.
This past Lord's Day we were blessed to have two young people make their professions of faith and to receive some new brothers into communing fellowship. We pray that the Lord will establish and prosper them in every way!
What a blessed time remembering the Lord's promises to cleanse and receive sinners. May this memorial live on and continually stir us up to faith and obedience.
I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give up,' and to the south, 'Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth.'
God is infinite in his being and the only supreme good. We were made for Him and were designed to find our delight in Him.
Put these two facts together and you understand: No other thing in this world can bring us true happiness or satisfy the longings of our soul. Nothing in creation can compare with Him or measure up to Him.
Enjoying God does not come easy. But we can be more apt to relish Him when we understand the depth and degree to which the Lord enjoys us.
The best job I've ever had was being an elementary school gym teacher. If the pay had been worth while, I may never have left it. The reason was simple: I had the admiration of every kid in that building.
I didn't know anything about teaching. I had no snazzy methods or dazzling teaching techniques. I was just in charge of play. My day consisted of kickball, dodgeball, tag, basketball, and what amounts to infinite fun.
And the kids loved it; they loved ME. I could do no wrong in their eyes. They looked forward to my class. They shouted at me in the hallways, "HI COACH!" The level of enthusiasm of these wee tots was cranked to extreme every day.
But I've also taught high school sophomores.
Not long after starting that job did I learn the etymology of the term. It may go without saying that these were dark days in my life. If purgatory were a real, I would certainly say that it consists of two consecutive periods of being an instructor at this level.
It is obvious which group of kids I enjoyed most and who's company I preferred. I delighted in the wee tots because they so much delighted in me.
This provides us with one of the keys to enjoying God. We will be more inclined to enjoy God when we understand just how enamored He is with us.
Sometimes we do not fully enjoy God because we do not fully realize the extent to which the Lord delights in us. Often our view of God is distorted: we see him as an angry tyrant, an ogre, an unpalatable judge. As a result, we live in fear of Him and serve from a distance.
But we must remember that this is a false image. The Lord always sees us in Christ. Thus, we may hear the echos of "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased."
God's Word emphasizes this repeatedly when it tells us that He rejoices over us with singing; He works all things for our good, and He loves us with an everlasting love.
Psalm 147 & 149 state it in the clearest language when they say, "The Lord takes pleasure in his people."
God takes pleasure in us! It is no wonder why these two Psalms are so jubilant and full of praise. The Psalmist is only reciprocating the personal exuberance that God himself shows to us.
Read more in this week's Hopewell Weekly...
Hopewell was blessed to participate in Mansfield's annual pro-life walk/rally again this year. The Richland Source provided coverage of the event and highlighted some of Hopewell's involvement.
We might note that the RS article does need some modification. Those who participated numbered well over 100 people.
In 2 Corinthians 11 the Apostle Paul reminds us that jealousy can be a good thing--a very good thing. When false teachers woo the hearts of God's people away to another gospel and another Christ, God is provoked to anger.
Join us as we study this godly jealousy and the exclusive rights of God to our affections.
As we look back over 2017, we can definitely see the good hand of Providence among us. The year has been full of gospel opportunities, fellowship, and growth in grace. So much has been His blessing that we can say with the Psalmist, "The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad." Psalm 126:3
Some of these great things can be witnessed in our HOPEWELL 2017 YEAR IN REVIEW (pdf). Feel free to check it out and see what God has done among us!
If you believe that God is almighty, why do you fear devils and enemies and not confidently trust in God.
If you believe Him to be sovereign, why do you not call upon Him and crave His help in all your troubles and dangers?
If you believe God to be infinite,
how dare you provoke Him to anger?
If you believe that God is simple, how can you play the hypocrite and maintain double motives?
If you believe that God is good, why is your heart not more settled upon Him?
If you believe Him to be a just Judge, how dare you live so securely in sin without repentance?
If you truly believe that God is most wise, why do you not patiently bear and appreciate the crosses of life? Is He not able to turn all things to the best for those who love Him?
If you are persuaded that God is true, why do you doubt His promises?
If you believe that God is beauty and perfection itself, why do you not make Him alone your chief end and primary pursuit?
If you believe God is generous, why do you not pray to Him? Will He not open wide the storehouse of heaven and pour forth with great liberality wisdom, love, earthly goods, faith, and friendship?
Check out all the latest in this week's Hopewell Weekly.
At Christmas time we remember the good news of the Savior's birth. He entered the world to bring salvation to men.
But our appreciation of Christ will be more fully attuned when we remember that His incarnation was anything but glorious.
The Son of God's entrance into the world was part of his humiliation and thus very "inglorious." We can only appreciate the work of the Savior when we see his incarnation in this light.
Consider the depths to which he did descend to bring you salvation:
1. He left his Father - Prior to the incarnation the Son dwelt in the bosom of the Father, wherein he enjoyed perfect love, joy, and blessing. His leaving this sweet realm marks his first step into hell (for hell is separation from God). What pain it is for us to leave home and part with human parents! How infinitely greater was the pain of Christ in relinquishing the enchanting place of the Father's presence!
2. He was born - He who was very God of very God took upon himself the very flesh He did create. He created man in His own image, but then took the image of man himself. And while this cannot expressly be said to be part of his 'humiliation" (for he retains his human nature now in his exaltation), it is a superb act of condescension on his part.
3. He was born into severe conditions - Christ was not only born into abject poverty, but his birth suffered from the further indignities of obscurity and insult. Bethlehem was little known town, the stable was an undignified place, the manger was, to say the least, crude. Added is the insult of relatives in Bethlehem who did not show compassion on the poor travelers and expecting mother.
4. He was utterly dependent - The sovereign Creator, upon whom all creation depends, was himself made dependent upon Mary & Joseph. He who was used to the service of angels was at the mercy of new parents.
5. He suffered the extremities of infancy - Catholic dogma says that Christ retained the reason of a grown man from infancy. But this is not true. He grew in wisdom & stature. More than that, He suffered from the first hour the new experiences of humanity: hunger, neglect, fatigue, grief, etc.
6. His infancy was filled with accentuated agonies - The conditions surrounding his birth were filled with adversity, adding to his difficulties. He felt the pricks of hay for bedding, endured the pains of an unhospitable manger, and was threatened with death by Herod.
7. He subjected himself to the law - He who was the very Lawgiver, Lord, and Judge put himself under the law. It was not just to live by it as a rule--for he already did this by nature. Rather, he came under the curse of it. He came into this world to fulfill its stipulations for others. In sum, He was born to die.