Josh Bishop

Meditations on Amos 4:13

Meditations on Amos 4:13

Amos 4:13
For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind
And declares to man what are His thoughts,
He who makes dawn into darkness
And treads on the high places of the earth,
The Lord God of hosts is His name.

“Behold” is one of those words that hasn’t really spanned the millennia. Maybe because we don’t “behold” much in our day. Beholding is the idea of becoming silent and focused on one solitary thing. It’s a matter of turning that one thing around all it’s angles to not just see, but perceive all it’s faceted edges and details. When you behold something you’re intimately acquainted with nearly every part of it.

The Lord speaks through Amos and tells His children to, “Behold… (He who does all these things is) the Lord God of Hosts is His name.” Here’s two more things that haven’t really survived much in our language today either; Hosts, and the concept of the Name.

When I say the name, Rockefeller, what instantly comes to your mind? Money? Oil? The piano donated to our church? When I say, Hitler, doesn’t that also conjure up thoughts, images, and even feelings? Neither of these infamous people need a first name attached for their last name is infamous enough. With one single name I can elicit an emotional response in all of us right now: Irma. Names are more than identifiers—they can carry with them hope, sorrow, fear, joy, and even disdain and hatred.

A “host” as in “the Lord of Hosts”, is an innumerable amount of people, things, etc. Specifically in our context it’s not just a huge number of things, rather in this use we’re saying that a host is a massive army. As it is related then to the idea of The Lord having the “Name” of “the Lord of Host(s)” We should understand that Jesus Christ is the universally renowned Master of an innumerable number of heavenly armies. Wow.

And what is it about this amazing Lord Amos is here to tell us? Isn’t it that by this Lord’s own hands He fashions—He forms the mountains. No one could ever decipher the thoughts of God, for God grants it to His prophets to know what He wants them to know. This God, the only God, turns the dawn into darkness. In case you missed it that’s a bad thing, darkness is not as happy of a thing as the dawn. Yet this Lord of Hosts does this. Furthermore, Christ is the one who treads on the high places. He is the one who can reach the peaks of Everest and the Matterhorn not by vigilant ascent but by condescension.

As it pertains this morning, this mighty Lord of Hosts also, “creates the wind…”. Each of these things mentioned, every one of these flexes of the muscles as it were, are not hard for God, and more interestingly, not momentary either. God’s Name is not great because he once decided this was how it was going to be. He did that for sure because we know that He decrees all things from the beginning. But note that God hasn’t merely wound up the world and then walks away. No, Christ continues to form the mountains and planes by earthquakes. He changes the landscape of this world through localized floods and wildfires. The Lord covers the sun with the moon and raises up storm clouds to bring noon day to darkness. The Lord has delivered His Word to us, and continues to illuminate it day by day.

As we see with Irma and other hurricanes, He creates wind and causes that wind to bring to nothing concrete buildings in Barbuda and other islands there in the tropics. And as I pen these words this category 4 storm, that the Lord of Hosts has created, is about to make landfall on the Florida Keys. We take refuge in the wings of this wind creator, this hurricane maker. Not because we feel that the storm will not effect us, but because we know that not one drop of it’s rain has gone rouge against its creator.

Let us behold this God. Let us behold the beauty of this Lord of Hosts. Let us direct our attention, the attention of our families and neighbors to behold the greatness of the name, the infamy, and glory of our great God. The God who forms the mountains and therefore has the right to flatten them with his winds, if He sees fit.

And let us also pray for those who will be effected by this wind in a negative way. That we might be able to speak truth into their hearts concerning the gospel and that they will not make shipwreck of their souls but find their peace in the loving arms of this awesome and powerful Creator.

I love you all. Be safe, and let us together, though separate, worship the Lord in unity.

— Josh Bishop

Posted by Josh Bishop in An Encouraging Word, 0 comments
Hatred and Its Many, Many Sides

Hatred and Its Many, Many Sides

God hates racism, and He hates all those who worship at the alter of the Neo-Naziism and White-Supremacy.

There are two sorts of people that will agree with this statement, and two that would disagree. Those who might disagree would be those who either believe that God loves all people no matter who they are or what they do. Or, they themselves harbor in their hearts a sense of camaraderie with the ideals of the white-supremacist. To the one who believes that God loves everyone irrespective of who they are or what they do––the only logical end to that way of thinking is the belief in universalism. If God loves a person, it is an unconditional love and therefore there is nothing that they could ever do to shake the love of God off of them. Therefore you must come to the conclusion that all people everywhere then are safe from hell no matter what they believe, what they do, or who they are. To you, I haven’t the time in this short expose to address how; anti-Christian, anti-logic, and anti-love that position actually is. I call you to repent of such universal thinking and hear the words of Romans 9:13 “As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

To the one who disbelieves the fact that God “hates” the white-supremacist because they are inclined to agree with some or most of their logic, let me call you to repent from such an evil. I had the displeasure of watching an episode of Vice, which is an HBO news crew that were interviewing the organizers of the Neo-Nazi group that went to Charlottesville to “protest” the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee. The man in charge said that the reason they came was to be a show of force. He came strapped with two AR-15’s, several concealed handguns, and a knife as he quipped. Before the deadly encounter, they threatened violence. After the car ran through the crowed, he called the act justified and that he’s looking forward to topping this rally at the next one. This was the largest assembly of white-supremacists in 4 decades and they are planning more.

Let me be very, very clear. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms. I have a concealed weapon’s permit, and I carry when it’s lawful to do so. I believe that AR-15’s are a perfectly fine rifle to own and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with owning as many as you want to own. I believe in the right to free speech, which I’m exercising right now. What I find truly heinous is the use of these freedoms to boast concerning the great job that “his people” (speaking of white people, which I refuse to be lumped into his category) did to begin their “ethnic cleansing” so as to gain an “ethno-state”. If you disagree with the fact that God hates those who worship at the altar of white-supremacy, because you find that ideology in any way appealing or defendable; then the fact remains for you that God’s hatred is residing upon you as well. True Christianity CANNOT and MUST NOT permit such evil and hatred to be even named among the brethren. So repent and turn from your hatred and you’re elevation of one color over another. Turn from your hatred and malice and trust in Jesus for your forgiveness.

Again there are a total of four sides to this discussion. Those who disagree with my statement above and those who agree are both broken into two separate categories. One of those who might agree, would be one who understands what the Bible says about the character and nature of God in the depths of His attributes. These are the ones who understand that God reserves His unconditional love for those whom He foreknew and predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus the Christ. Those who worship at this evil altar, even if they profess faith in Christ, are no different than the one who steals, fornicates, lies, blasphemes. For the truth of the Word of God has said it best, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 So all those, including the murderous in heart or in action also are going to face judgement unless they repent and the blood of Jesus is applied to them.

The second individual who might laud this statement does so not out of an understanding of theological truth, but from the pits of hatred themselves. Because of the great and outstanding hatred that this person has for the white-supremacist, their disdain boils over into their thinking about God. Their hate, the hate of the one who agrees with my previous statement might be understood as sin to some, but in their minds it is a justifiable hate. So when a statement of God’s hatred for the radical Nazi shows up, they joyfully latch onto it not caring about the Biblical or practical implications of such a position. This person, the person that hates the white-supremacist is one who honestly believes that there is something different in them than in the Neo-Nazis.

“For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

“Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.” Psalm 143:2

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8, 10

To believe that you are better than a radical hitler-loving, murderous fool, is to think of yourself more highly than you ought. For but by the grace of God, there go I, and there go you. The Christian onlooker to this disaster must––they must stand up and decry the awful and heinous act of these people inciting a racial storm. But the Christian also MUST NOT get caught up in the tornado of hate that will leave everything and everyone they love destroyed.

Let us not believe that these foolish “white nationalists” / “white supremacist” are any worse off than us and our hearts. There are plenty of racially charged groups from the various “races”. (the term race should be understood as singular only considering that there is a human race and variations in the pigment of our skin.) Let me close this open letter with the definition from Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary of racism.

a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Racism is alive and well in our world. It is growing and morphing into what it once was in our country––a violent and deadly viper. God hates racism, and He hates those who worship at the altar of racial supremacy. God also hates those who hate for any other reason as well.

Matthew 5:43-48

43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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Curing Thru Confession

Curing Thru Confession

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

I’ve been thinking about this verse over the last few weeks and a question keeps drifting to the top of my thinking. When we pray for each other God uses that obedience to accomplish His will in our healing. The question though hasn’t had anything to do with that part of the verse but rather the confession or accountability part. How does “confess(ing) your sins to one another…” add to that process of healing? This morning I was up early meditating on this and here’s what I’ve come to. 

If we’ll be honest with each other, confession embarrasses us. Sure we could use a more Christian term and say that it “humbles” us but what it feels like is just embarrassment. When I share with someone how I’ve sinned against God I feel and experience a type of shame. 

I actually said that to my neighbor; I actually entertained those thoughts; Yes, I spoke that way to my wife; 

These aren’t happy things we’re talking about and they’re definitely not things that we should be thrilled to share with others. It seems, if that’s what it produces in me, maybe that’s what it’s for.

Confession of sins one to another, I believe, is supposed to create that embarrassment. It’s designed by God to create in us that uneasy shameful feeling. Just a couple of days ago I had to confess twice to a brother over the course of five minutes. Once where I used generalities and made things oh-so-vague that I still felt less vulnerable. But then the second when I had to come back behind myself and “actually confess” what sin I committed and not leave it so nebulous. Confessing generalities of categories of sin––isn’t the same thing as confession of our sin. “I’m struggling with my thought life so please pray for me.” That doesn’t cut it.  You see, confession reminds sin that there are consequences.

When we’re tempted by our sinful desires and are being lead astray––sin either neglects to consider or just doesn’t care that there are ramifications to it’s actions. Temptation is so alluring because it boasts anonymity and freedom from any consequences. Sin promises to enrich our experiences and satisfy some longing or desire that we have. It makes that promise and is eerily quiet when the subject of consequence arises. When there’s no police car behind you, what the law has said is the maximum speed you’re allowed to drive doesn’t seem so rigid. So too confession places the police car in the rearview mirror. If I know that I’m going to give an account to someone or someones for my sins there is a reminder of consequence in the midst of temptation. Every time pride and arrogance creeps up in my heart I should make it my goal to share that with others that I might be healed. When that sin begin’s to boast a consequent-less pleasure then, my mind will rise up and clearly be able to crush that falsehood.

However, sin is not merely indifferent toward consequences, sometimes it’s indignant. So we will still sin. Even with confession reminding sin of consequences, sin is willing to throw caution to the wind. This is why the apostle John said, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” So even if we do sin, even if we have already determined that we’re going to be open and honest with each other about our sin; When we sin, we know that if we’re in Christ He is our righteousness. When it’s time to come to each other and confess our hearts to one another, we then can do that in confidence feeling the embarrassment and the shame of our sin knowing that, “…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) The embarrassment of confession can then be replaced by gratitude for Christ and intercession from each other. It feels shameful to sin, and rightly so. But the actual shame of our sin was dealt with on the cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. 

Let’s join together as a church and begin more and more to confess sins one to another, praying for each other so that we might all be healed. After all, “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (KJV)

Posted by Josh Bishop in An Encouraging Word, 0 comments

MONDAY BRIEF


ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS

WEDNESDAY 3/22: The Anatomy of God Study Continues - 6:30pm-7:45pm
SUNDAY 3/26: Bible Study Teacher's Meeting - 12:00pm-12:45pm
MONDAY 3/27: Ladies Ministry Meeting @ 6:30pm
SUNDAY 4/1: Brown-Bag Fellowship Lunch - 12:00pm-2:00pm



CHURCH DISTINCTIVE
SOVERIEGN GRACE


John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

To say that we hold God’s sovereign grace up as a distinctive is to say that we believe salvation is completely and totally in the hands of God. It is a “monergistic” work not a “synergistic work”. Meaning that God saves sinners without their help in the matter at all. We believe that mankind is totally depraved. We believe that God unconditionally elects some men and women to salvation. We believe that the Father, through Christ, has limited the atonement to only those whom He has set His love upon. We furthermore believe that as God has seen fit to love that people, His grace to them is irresistible and all that are to come, will come to. We also believe that those whom God has irresistibly drawn by this sovereign grace, they will persevere to the end.
Press HERE to view more about this church distinctive.



CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

New Rough Plumbing for ADA Bathroom: Completed
New Fire Escape Staircase: Completed
New Doorway & Door for Fire Escape: Working on it Today
Electrical Inspections: Scheduled for Wednesday
Plumbing Inspections: Scheduled for Wednesday
Tentative Schedule until completion: 2-3 weeks.


CLEANING MINISTRY

THIS WEEK:

Clint & Angie Gowell

NEXT WEEK:

Sarah Bishop



“My beloved.”

Song of Solomon 2:8


This was a golden name which the ancient Church in her most joyous moments was wont to give to the Anointed of the Lord. When the time of the singing of birds was come, and the voice of the turtle was heard in her land, her love-note was sweeter than either, as she sang, "My beloved is mine and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies." Ever in her song of songs doth she call him by that delightful name, "My beloved!" Even in the long winter, when idolatry had withered the garden of the Lord, her prophets found space to lay aside the burden of the Lord for a little season, and to say, as Esaias did, "Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard." Though the saints had never seen his face, though as yet he was not made flesh, nor had dwelt among us, nor had man beheld his glory, yet he was the consolation of Israel, the hope and joy of all the chosen, the "beloved" of all those who were upright before the Most High. We, in the summer days of the Church, are also wont to speak of Christ as the best beloved of our soul, and to feel that he is very precious, the "chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." So true is it that the Church loves Jesus, and claims him as her beloved, that the apostle dares to defy the whole universe to separate her from the love of Christ, and declares that neither persecutions, distress, affliction, peril, or the sword have been able to do it; nay, he joyously boasts, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

O that we knew more of thee, thou ever precious one!
"My sole possession is thy love;
In earth beneath, or heaven above,
I have no other store;
And though with fervent suit I pray,
And importune thee day by day,
I ask thee nothing more."
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Weekly Brief – 03/14/2017



ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS

PARTIAL MOVING DAY: Saturday - 3/18 from 10am to 12pm - Meet at 210 N. Peninsula Dr.
FCC LEADERSHIP TRAINING: Sunday - 3/26 from 5pm to 7pm
WOMEN'S MINISTRY EVENT: Monday - 3/27 @ 6:15pm
BROWN-BAG LUNCH FELLOWSHIP: Sunday - 4/2 After Bible Study

THIS WEEK’S CHURCH DISTINCTIVE

Each week for the next several weeks, I want to share with you all a fresh some of the things that we as a church have come to believe and hold to be true. Some of these things are infant of us every week and others are things that we may have forgotten or have actually never known. Please take some time this week to refresh yourself with the very foundations of our fellowship together.

This week: Being "Gospel" or "Christ-Centered".

CLEANING MINISTRY

THIS WEEK:
Victor Campbell

NEXT WEEK:
Clint & Angie Gowell


“Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

1 Corinthians 10:12


It is a curious fact, that there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, "I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall." "I have fervent love," says another, "I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray." He who boasts of grace has little grace to boast of. Some who do this imagine that their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, or else the brook will soon be dry. If a continuous stream of oil comes not to the lamp, though it burn brightly today, it will smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be its scent. Take heed that thou gloriest not in thy graces, but let all thy glorying and confidence be in Christ and his strength, for only so canst thou be kept from falling. Be much more in prayer. Spend longer time in holy adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men's souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come, when he whom you love shall say, "Come up higher," may it be your happiness to hear him say, "Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away." On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling! On, with faith and confidence in Jesus alone, and let your constant petition be, "Uphold me according to thy word." He is able, and he alone, "To keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."
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New Covenant Theology

New Covenant Theology

New covenant theology is a hermeneutic, a lens as it were by which the scriptures and the gospel is viewed and understood. The essence of the this paradigm is that Jesus is the new lawgiver. The 10 commandments were surely a law, but that law was nothing more than a document of the covenant that God made with man. That document established an objective righteousness providing then a means for Jesus to visibly satisfy all righteousness. When Jesus accomplished the work of the law vicariously for His people, He then vicariously died to atone for their sins and thus established a New and Better covenant–a covenant of faith and not of works. The ramifications on the believer's life are huge and alter many known doctrines. Because Christ has established a New Covenant and if then the old has passed away, then the rule of law falls not to Moses, but to Christ, which is exactly what we find in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

Hebrews 8:13

"In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."

Listen to Josh Preach on this very subject of New Covenant Theology.

 

Watch below a sermon defining New Covenant Theology from Douglas Goodin

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MONDAY BRIEF – March 6th, 2017



ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS

CHAIR DELIVERY: The best estimate I've been given so far is either Wednesday or Thursday. I will be getting another notification as we get closer, but what little information I had, I wanted to pass long.

SATURDAY 3/11: Khadijah Campbell's Baby Shower from 10am to 12pm at 825 N. Ridgewood Ave. Ormond Beach, FL 32174

SUNDAY 3/12: The Celebration of the Lord's Supper

SATURDAY 3/18: Partial Moving day from 10am to 12pm

SUNDAY 3/19: Teacher's Meeting - All current bible study teachers and or desirous teachers we'll be meeting after all the events of Sunday from 11:50am to 12:30 for the purpose of direction and planning.

SUNDAY 3/26: Leadership Training Class from 5pm to 7pm.



BIKE WEEK INFO

In the transition from being owners to renters, all of our insurances were canceled and nothing was restarted. Long-story-short, we've got no insurance right now and so we are working diligently to get the best price and enact that new policy as soon as possible. If we can get a policy started that can cover the current location sufficiently then I believe the following corse of action is in order. If we can't then I'll just hang a banner explaining that the previous events were our last and it will make sure that as people drive by they don't think they can park on the grounds any longer.

If we can get a policy in time then we'll "do our best" to man the lot. Considering that it is so last minute between myself, the deacons and any other volunteers that are able, we'll be manning a single table with Bible's and gospel tracts as often as able. I'll also setup a cheap banner explaining the situation that people might find themselves in if they pull up and no one is manning the tent. Below is a basic schedule of things that will be needed and you can sign up for that help below. As far as people providing dinners throughout the week, if you're available to do so, please sign up below and on the day you plan to bring food, just call myself or Sarah and we'll be able to tell you who has committed to that evening and therefore how many to plan for. A good round number to shoot for normally is 10 though.

Schedule: This Friday- Setup - 10am
This Saturday - Parking Help - 10am to 7pm
This Sunday - Parking Help - 1pm to 7pm
Next Monday - Parking Help - 11am to 7pm
Next Tuesday - Parking Help - 11am to 7pm
Next Wednesday - Parking Help - 10am to 7pm
Next Thursday - Parking Help - 10am to 7pm
Next Friday - Parking Help - 10am to 8pm
Next Saturday - Parking Help - 12pm to 9pm (We'll be doing the partial move day so we'll keep the lot closed or to a minimum while we do that.)
Next Sunday - Cleanup & Takedown - 12pm-1pm

Also please note that if we are able to do this Children's and Adult Bible study will be canceled on these two next Sundays.




CLEANING MINISTRY

THIS WEEK: Josh & Erin Allred
NEXT WEEK: Clint & Angie Gowell




“Ye must be born again.”

John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are "born again," for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it--the being "born again," is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been "born again," your acknowledgment will be, "O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, thou art my spiritual Parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day dead in trespasses and sins.' My heavenly life is wholly derived from thee, to thee I ascribe it. My life is hid with Christ in God.' It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me." May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.
Posted by Josh Bishop in Weekly Briefs, 0 comments
The Anatomy of God

The Anatomy of God

NEW WEDNESDAY NIGHT STUDY

Starting March 1st, 2017, we'll be embarking upon a journey through the "Anatomy of God" on Wednesday nights. This will be a study on the various attributes of our Great God. Come with us as we put on our surgeon's gloves and grab our scalpels and cut into the details of who God is.

OVERVIEW

An Attribute is more than merely a characteristic. An attribute is something that is unique and as one theologian put it, "...begins with the object from which exhibits it." When we talk about studying the "attributes" of God what then we're really saying is that we're looking into those characteristics or qualities that are either unique to God or have their source from Him. The destruction is then made concerning those things that God alone has, like omnipresence and those things that He communicates to us, like love. The one is called, interestingly enough, non-communicable attributes, or those that He doesn't give to us; and communicable attributes, those that He does grant to us under His own conditions.

Over the course of the next several weeks and months, we'll be looking at these various kinds and types, and not only seeing what they mean, but also what that means for us. Surely the qualities of God should cause us to praise and worship Him, but each of God's attributes are, among other things, points of praise for various circumstances and needs that arise in our lives.

So again I invite you, actually, I implore you to come and be apart of this study as we do exploratory surgery, through the Bible, discovering the wonder and beauty of God's unique qualities.

OUTLINE:

- Introduction
- Eternality
- Faithfulness
- Goodness
- Holiness
- Immutability
- Incomprehensibility
- Love
- Wrath
- Merciful & Just
- Omnipotence
- Omnipresence
- Omniscience
- Spirit
- Transcendent & Immanent
- Truth

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MONDAY BRIEF – 02/27


EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

TONIGHT: Ladies Ministry Meeting at our current location at 6:15pm - Ladies, don't miss it.

SATURDAY: Men's Ministry Support Day, helping Clint get some brush cleared out at his home on Seneca Blvd. His actual address is: 321 S. Seneca Blvd.

SUNDAY: Lord's Supper. Come prepared to celebrate the Lord's table together.

NEXT SATURDAY: Join us for a Baby Shower honoring Khadijah Campbell and baby Justus @ the home of Sarah Bishop: 825 N. Ridgewood Ave. Ormond Beach, FL 32174 from 10am to 12pm.
They are registered at Target & Baby's-R-Us. In Lieu of a card, please help get a little library started for Justus and bring a book!
RSVP: Call or Text Sarah @ 386-852-0028

SATURDAY MARCH 18: Partial moving day from our current facility to the new one. From 10am to 12pm.

BREAKFAST MINISTRY

We've had some people interested in joining in on the breakfast ministry and because of that, I'd like to take the opportunity to ask who all would still like to continue that and if anyone else might want to sign up as well. The more people that want to do it, the less often each person needs to do it. 🙂

CLEANING MINISTRY

THIS WEEK:
Sarah Bishop

NEXT WEEK:
Erin Allred


“Thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation.”

Psalm 91:9

The Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change. Whenever the pillar stayed its motion, the tents were pitched; but tomorrow, ere the morning sun had risen, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow defiles of the mountain, up the hill side, or along the arid waste of the wilderness. They had scarcely time to rest a little before they heard the sound of "Away! this is not your rest; you must still be onward journeying towards Canaan!" They were never long in one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet they had an abiding home in their God, his cloudy pillar was their roof-tree, and its flame by night their household fire. They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle, and to say, "Now we are secure; in this place we shall dwell." "Yet," says Moses, "though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations." The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich today and poor to-morrow; he may be sickly today and well to-morrow; he may be in happiness today, to-morrow he may be distressed--but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God. If he loved me yesterday, he loves me today. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord. Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted; let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is "my strong habitation whereunto I can continually resort." I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.

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MONDAY BRIEF


ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS

FEBRUARY 25TH - Saturday - 2pm to 4pm - Men's Ministry Meeting @ 210 N. Peninsula to walk the area sharing the gospel.

FEBRUARY 27TH - Monday - 6:15pm - Women's Ministry Meeting @ 210 N. Peninsula for a time of meditation on scriptures and fellowship.

MARCH 4TH - Saturday - 9:30am - Men's Ministry @ Clint's House to help cut up and remove some tree debris.

MARCH 11TH - Saturday - 10am - First Partial Moving Day @ 210 N. Peninsula - We'll be moving a set amount of things to 909.




CHAIR COLOR

Please accept my apologies for not finding the colors of the chairs for everyone yesterday. I went home and searched and searched again and finally found it. I know we voted on the blue, but for the purpose of being fully informed, here is a picture of all the colors available side by side. Please let me know if anyone want to reopen the discussion. If not, then now that we have all seen every option, we'll just move forward.



CLEANING MINISTRY

This Week: David & Amanda Black

Next Week: Sarah Bishop





“God, that comforteth those that are cast down.”

2 Corinthians 7:6

And who comforteth like him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises, and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder, he listens not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and comfort him as you may, it will be only a note or two of mournful resignation that you will get from him; you will bring forth no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to his child, let him lift up his countenance, and the mourner's eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing--

"'Tis paradise, if thou art here;
If thou depart, 'tis hell?"

You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; "He is the God of all comfort." There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvellous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold beater, and can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. So, then, poor Christian, thou needest not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask him to give thee consolation. Thou art a poor dry well. You have heard it said, that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water, and so, Christian, when thou art dry, go to God, ask him to shed abroad his joy in thy heart, and then thy joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them Job's comforters after all; but go first and foremost to thy "God, that comforteth those that are cast down," and you will soon say, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul."



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Monday Brief

909 UPDATE

First, we've actually received a copy of the recorded or "warranted" deed this afternoon from the purchase on Friday. The significance is in the timing that I sent out before. We weren't supposed to get the deed until at least Wednesday. Instead we got it today and Lloyd is already working on finalizing the pulling of the permit. We're already about 3-5 days ahead of schedule. Keep praying and seeking the Lord's blessing on this endeavor.

Below please see the image that shows the 50 chairs we get to keep placed in the new worship area. The chairs fit incredibly comfortably and there is ample room to add many, many more.

Speaking of chairs... Wednesday night at 909 S. Ridgewood, one thing that I'd love is to get some input on chairs and colors. I'll have some color/pattern samples there for us to consider. Sunday immediately after worship we're going o vote on the choice of chairs we want for the new property. There are four sample chairs and each will be available. This is going to be about a $2,500 to 3,000 dollar expense so, we really need to think critically about it.

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS

- Wednesday Feb. 15th, Prayer Meeting will be at the new location:
909 S. Ridgewood Ave. Daytona Beach, FL 32114

- Sunday Feb. 19th, Leadership Training Class from 5pm-7pm
- Sunday Feb. 26th, Celebrating the Lord's Supper

TEACHING MINISTRY

SUNDAY FEB. 12TH

WEDNESDAY FEB. 8th

“There is therefore now no condemnation.”

Romans 8:1 Come, my soul, think thou of this. Believing in Jesus, thou art actually and effectually cleared from guilt; thou art led out of thy prison. Thou art no more in fetters as a bond-slave; thou art delivered now from the bondage of the law; thou art freed from sin, and canst walk at large as a freeman; thy Saviour's blood has procured thy full discharge. Thou hast a right now to approach thy Father's throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare thee now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Thy disabilities are taken away: thou wast once unable to see thy Father's face: thou canst see it now. Thou couldst not speak with him: but now thou hast access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon thee; but thou hast no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believeth is not condemned, and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges thou mightst have enjoyed, if thou hadst never sinned, are thine now that thou art justified. All the blessings which thou wouldst have had if thou hadst kept the law, and more, are thine, because Christ has kept it for thee. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to thee, because Christ was perfectly obedient on thy behalf, and hath imputed all his merits to thy account, that thou mightst be exceeding rich through him, who for thy sake became exceeding poor. Oh! how great the debt of love and gratitude thou owest to thy Saviour!

"A debtor to mercy alone,

Of covenant mercy I sing;

Nor fear with thy righteousness on,

My person and offerings to bring:

The terrors of law and of God,

With me can have nothing to do;

My Saviour's obedience and blood

Hide all my transgressions from view."

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Demetrius Williamson

Demetrius Williamson

Demetrius is the leader of our monthly student ministries. Having played football for Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Demetrius had been offered an opportunity to play professional football but having come to Christ only a short time before that, Demetrius chose rather to abandon that career path for a life yet unknown to him. Since, he’s become a local realtor, a budding computer developer, and most recently found his wife, Susanna. Demetrius has a passion and hunger for learning and understanding the scriptures. That passion is then seen clearly in his teaching and leading of the youth.

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Jeffrey Hays

Jeffrey Hays

Jeffrey Hays is the leader of the Counseling Ministry here at Faith Covenant. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Dallas Baptist University. His Master of Science Lubbock Christian University and is a member of the Association of Biblical Counselors and the National Council on Family Relations. He’s also recognized as a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE-P) and committed to ongoing education and training in pursuit of further certifications.

He and his wife Lia have two beautiful daughters, Hannah and Heidi.

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SMALL CHURCH

SMALL CHURCH

We believe that a local expression of the body of Christ should be small, intimate. You should know and be known well by all members. The church is referred to in the Scriptures as a body, a house, a family. Each of these expressions are indicative of a healthy number of members to make sure it can run smoothly and operate well. Outside of the health of the body, the numbers of the church ought to then be maintained at a level that is conducive to true community one with another. What’s that number? We feel that number should be between 100 and 200 people. That seems to maximize both the health of the church and maintain community.

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CHURCH PLANTING

CHURCH PLANTING

Churches are to beget churches. We believe that instead of growing to a massive congregation where most people can only know a few of the members of the church, instead churches ought to be planting new churches once they reach a healthy size. Church planting is the number one means of evangelism as seen in the New Testament. Pauline missions was nothing more than preaching the gospel in a city, and then training men to start a church right there and then. We too feel as though the church needs to again catch this vision for the planting of churches everywhere we’r able.

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BIBLICALLY BASED

BIBLICALLY BASED

Our highest and greatest authority is the Scripture, the 66 books of the Christian Bible. Only the words contained within it are what bind the conscience of the New Covenant believer. Being bible based means that everything we do, we seek to make sure that it is in line with the Scriptures. There’s an old latin phrase that we would joyfully adhere to; In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas: In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity. Let the Scriptures alone and their perspicuous reading be that which binds the conscience alone. Sola Scriptura.

2 Tim. 3:16-17
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

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FAMILY WORSHIP

FAMILY WORSHIP

We believe that children should worship with us. Your child has a heart that is, unless reached with the gospel already, hard and in desperate need of Christ. Every week we gather together so that the message of the gospel might enlighten us and strengthen us for the coming week. Why would we then remove these little sponges from under the sound of that life-giving truth? Jesus said not to suffer the children but to let them come to Him. This might mean that while we sit and listen to the Word of God, one of these little ones might yelp or cry out––but that’s okay. If you’re visiting with us and don’t really know how that works, we have a “training / cry-room” available to anyone who needs it during the service. It’s equipped with a private changing room and baby toys as well as toddler toys. If you need child care, we’re more than happy to provide that too, but we feel that children should be apart of worship as early as possible—even if that means a hiccup from time to time. You know your child far better than we do, so we leave this decision, in your capable hands.

Matthew 19:14
“but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'”

Listen to a sermon by Scott Brown on this subject below, or press HERE to download the file.

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SOVEREIGN GRACE

SOVEREIGN GRACE

To say that we hold God’s sovereign grace up as a distinctive is to say that we believe salvation is completely and totally in the hands of God. It is a “monergistic” work not a “synergistic work”. Meaning that God saves sinners without their help in the matter at all. We believe that mankind is totally depraved. We believe that God unconditionally elects some men and women to salvation. We believe that the Father, through Christ, has limited the atonement to only those whom He has set His love upon. We furthermore believe that as God has seen fit to love that people, His grace to them is irresistible and all that are to come, will come to. We also believe that those whom God has irresistibly drawn by this sovereign grace, they will persevere to the end.

John 15:16
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

Feel free to listen to a sermon preached by Josh Below:

Or watch a sermon by John MacArthur on the sovereignty of God below:

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CHRIST CENTERED

CHRIST CENTERED

Being Christ-Centered means that at the center of everything we do and teach is the person and work of Jesus Christ. One thing that this means is that in every situation, we look to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the means of answering our deepest and greatest questions. In the gospel, which is the satisfactory life and substitutionary death of Jesus, we find our hope, our peace, and our needs all met.

Colossians 3:1-3
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Listen to a couple of sermons from Josh concerning the foundation of our fellowship below:

Watch a sermon on this topic by John Piper on Gospel / Christ-Centeredness below, OR download it HERE

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Monday Brief – 0617

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS

- Saturday Feb. 11th, Marriage Workshop from 11:45am to 2pm
- Saturday Feb. 11th, Valentine's Day Potluck 6pm
- Sunday Feb. 12th, Tech-Help Desk Event 4pm-6pm Press HERE for more details.
- Sunday Feb. 19th, Leadership Training Class from 5pm-7pm


CLEANING MINISTRY INFORMATION

If you have signed up to clean the church, here are some important details you'll need:

In order to get into the church you'll need the code for the little lock box on the door into the church. Let Josh know and he can give it to you.

The things that need to be done every week are; vacuuming the upstairs and down, cleaning the bathrooms, and making sure that the garbage is out. Extra bags and supplies are in a few locations for ease of use.
- The "buffet" in the Adult Bible Study area.
- The left-hand closet beside the stage.
- The shelves downstairs in front of the refrigerator.
- The kitchen also has some extra resources as well.

If you have any questions while there, please feel free to contact Josh or any of the deacons and they can help you locate anything you need.


TEACHING MINISTRY

In order to listen to Yesterday's message or Wednesday Night's message see below:





THIS WEEK’s CLEANER

Josh & Erin Allred
Due before February 12th

NEXT WEEK’s CLEANER

Jeff & Lia Hays Due before February 19th

Praying always.

Ephesians 6:18

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock--Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, "I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication"? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God's answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

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Civil War

Civil War

During the days of the Civil War historians tell us that approximately 150,000 people repented and believed in the name of Jesus Christ. A great and wonderful revival swept through the camps of both the North and the South and it was even reported that the Tennessee barracks had a 1,000 seat tent erected for the chaplain’s sermons each week. Interestingly enough, having chaplains before the civil war was arbitrary, never intentional, and very rare. Since the civil war chaplains have been and remain a mainstay of the military.

The Civil War was fought over two sides of this “union of states”. During the Civil War the name of our country could easily have been changed from the “United States” to the “Fractured States” of America, for the divide was real and palpable, and the devastation it had on the lives and families of our countrymen was long lasting. It has left it’s imprint on this nation even to this very day.

As I read the newspaper articles and hear things unraveling in our land today, there seems to be a clear civil war taking place now as well. Instead of the battle cries of states rights, and the ending of slavery, there’s the “alt-left” and the “alt-right” screaming as loud as they can. Brother is turning against brother, sister against sister, and Christian––against christian. The casualties of the Civil War are estimated to be roughly 620,000. That’s more deaths than all wars we’ve fought combined. In this civil war of; blockades, executive orders, boycotts, and the like, our nation is becoming divided in an unprecedented and historic way. California, California is trying to succeed from the union!

The question is however, where are all the chaplains? The U.S. Christian Commission handed out 30 million tracts during the civil war. One of the young men who handed out a huge portion of those 30 million was named Dwight L. Moody. E.M. Bounds a wonderful author and theologian was first a chaplain in the southern army risking life and limb on the front lines to pray for and minister to the hurting and lost people at the brink of death. And let’s never forget H.M. Turner. This man drew crowds that included not only soldiers but congressmen from both sides. They all wanted to come and listen to this man preach the gospel. Because of his gifted preaching Turner became affectionately known to all who heard him as “the Negro Spurgeon”.

So, where are all the chaplains today? Where are the Moodys and Turners? What are we doing in this, our generation’s civil war? Are we dawning our grey or blue? Are we taking up our musket and joining the regiment? Or are we leaving the political debates to join with other Christians to fight the good fight of faith? Is our outrage over one side or another fueling the drawing of lines in the sand? I beg of you to please, please bid people come away from the shifting sands of hope in human measures and place their lives upon the rock of Jesus Christ.

There were many very famous battle grounds of the Civil War; Gettysburg, Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Sumter, Lookout Mountain, etc, as there are many for us today. Our living rooms, our offices, Facebook, Twitter, etc. In those places where bullets fly and you’re tempted to join in the shooting, please––for the Love of Christ, don’t shoot opinions––share Christ. Let’s not waste this fractured condition that our states find themselves in. Let’s use it and let’s pray together for the sake of revival spreading across our land.

Abraham Lincoln, though he had previously never been religious or thought greatly about Christianity, uttered in the wake of such great revival and the closing of the Civil War, that he saw us now as “One nation under God”. This later struck Dwight D. Eisenhower so profoundly that he had the phrase added to the pledge of allegiance and then “In God We Trust” added to our currency the next year. This is tangible, historical evidence proving that gospel change can not only stop conflicts, the gospel can also make lasting changes for centuries to come.

Pray for and preach toward a “United” States of America, “One nation under God…”

(Image courtesy of Joe Thorn; https://www.flickr.com/photos/joethorn/200965187/in/photolist-iKZWZ-iKZX3-iKZX2)

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Monday Brief – 00517

PRAYER REQUEST

Jeff and Lia's youngest daughter is in the hospital today with bacterial pneumonia. Early this morning she woke up running a 104.4 temp and now the doctors want to watch her for the next 48 hours to see how she's doing. Please be in prayer for the Hay's family, especially little Heidi.

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS

  • TONIGHT: The Ladies ministry is meeting starting at 6:15. Don't miss it.
  • SUNDAY FEB. 5th: Come to church with a picnic lunch for your family plus one extra portion and we'll all enjoy some time of fellowshipping together.
  • SATURDAY FEB. 11th: Two events for you couples...
    • From 11:45am to 2pm a marriage workshop sponsored by the new counseling ministry lead by Jeff Hays. The theme is "We Need to Talk" which will focus on marital conflict resolution.
    • Stating at 6pm the Annual Valentine's Day Potluck Banquet. Don't forget to bring a framed picture of you and your significant other.
  • SUNDAY FEB. 12th: Outreach Event "The Tech Help-Desk". As a service to the community and a sly way to garner an audience, we're offering free help with people's technical issues and then we'll be sharing with them the gospel as a part of a security and internet safety overview. Come if you wish. Invite those who need it. And pray that we'll be effective witnesses for the gospel.
  • More information and events in February are planned... be on the look out for those.

CLEANING MINISTRY INFORMATION

For those who signed up to help with the cleaning ministry, this Wednesday night we'll have a 5 minute walk through of those things you'll need to know. Please try to attend. But if you can't please let me know and I'll send as much info to you as possible. Thank you so much for signing up. And for those who have been doing it for a while now... Thank you SO much for your continued service to the Lord and His people.

TEACHING MINISTRY

Below you can listen to either Sunday's sermon on the book of Esther or Wednesday's "Lesson on Love".



“When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself.”

2 Samuel 5:24

The members of Christ's Church should be very prayerful, always seeking the unction of the Holy One to rest upon their hearts, that the kingdom of Christ may come, and that his "will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven;" but there are times when God seems especially to favour Zion, such seasons ought to be to them like "the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." We ought then to be doubly prayerful, doubly earnest, wrestling more at the throne than we have been wont to do. Action should then be prompt and vigorous. The tide is flowing--now let us pull manfully for the shore. O for Pentecostal outpourings and Pentecostal labours. Christian, in yourself there are times "when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." You have a peculiar power in prayer; the Spirit of God gives you joy and gladness; the Scripture is open to you; the promises are applied; you walk in the light of God's countenance; you have peculiar freedom and liberty in devotion, and more closeness of communion with Christ than was your wont. Now, at such joyous periods when you hear the "sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees," is the time to bestir yourself; now is the time to get rid of any evil habit, while God the Spirit helpeth your infirmities. Spread your sail; but remember what you sometimes sing--

"I can only spread the sail;

Thou! Thou! must breathe the auspicious gale."

Only be sure you have the sail up. Do not miss the gale for want of preparation for it. Seek help of God, that you may be more earnest in duty when made more strong in faith; that you may be more constant in prayer when you have more liberty at the throne; that you may be more holy in your conversation whilst you live more closely with Christ.
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Biology Doesn’t Determine Sex

Preface:

I can’t imagine that this post will have any lasting impact on things transpiring in our world, but being compelled to say something, I use my tiny platform with great caution. What follows is a polemical treatise in hopes that harsh and rational words might wake someone up to the utter foolishness taking place. The ultimate problem that we as people have is not our political or lifestyle beliefs, the greater issue with mankind is we are all transgressors of God’s holy law and therefore need redemption from Jesus Christ. Through His finished work on the cross, all those who live in sin, can find peace and forgiveness if they will turn from their passions for anything less than Christ, and trust that Jesus is God and has offered them the gift of eternal life. Now to my fictitious letter…

To the liberal transgender extremists,

The barrage of transgender men seeking to compete and live as women, although must be—“profoundly complementing” to the female gender as a whole, has gone to the extent of science-fiction. I’m the pastor of a small conservative baptist congregation and seek to teach my family, our church, and others that I come in contact with the value of loving people for the sake of the gospel in spite of their sin. In such I feel the whole, let’s eat Chick-Fil-A when there’s another homosexual issue, an abomination. Instead of boycotting Disney for their homosexual week, we should share the love and redemptive sacrifice of Christ that has the infinite power to transforms lives. That being said, the liberal transgender extremist position is the dumbest thing I have ever heard!

While reading an article recently about another 50 year old man being permitted to change his birth certificate to indicate he’s now a she, I read these words, “…biology doesn’t determine sex…” I began to laugh. Instantly I was transported back to my high-school biology class. I thought surely you can’t be serious. Surely no educated individual actually said those words. I got the giggles––we’ve actually come this far in our society where fundamental elements of nature, empirical sensory observable data, is being rejected for fantasy. David Hume should be rolling over in his grave. We are living in a day where, if we were logically consistent, anyone who didn’t identify with being restrained by gravity should be allowed to jump off the Empire State Building. No matter the carnage or effect it might have on those around him, this man identifies with birds, not people.

The liberal transgender extremist might say however, that I’m not comparing apples to apples. “There’s no risk to anyone when a 50 year old man shares a locker room and sauna with girls as young as 6. They won’t be effected at all by seeing his biological genitals––after all it’s what he identifies with, that’s what those 6 year olds should come to understand.” To which I say; the logically consistent parallel is that the bird/man’s decimated remains are perfectly fine for any 6 year old to be subjected to. After all, it’s his right not to identify with natural laws. The only difference however, is that if the 6 year old saw the gruesome remains of this fool, they might learn a thing or two about the laws of nature––that they cannot and should not be trifled with.

So I laughed. I laughed because less than five years ago something like this would have been a skit on Saturday Night Live. Because, as a kid watching Scott Backula in the show Quantum Leap, the absolute funniest episodes were always the ones where he took the place of a woman and had to try to hide it. At least in “Just One of the Guys” Joyce Hyser did everything possible to hide her gender in the locker room so she could keep her scholarship. Now we’re not laughing any more. Now this is the society that I must raise my son and daughter in.

So––to keep from loosing my mind at the utter foolishness of the idiotic acceptance of this phrase, “biology doesn’t determine sex” I have to laugh. I have to think that Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, C-SPAN, they’re all just punking us. Ashton Kutcher is going to pop out from behind one of these cameras one of these days and say we’ve been had. The hard reality is, that’s not at all what’s happening. Instead the moronic, asinine, dimwitted, brainless, imbecilic, stupid people with their witless, feebleminded, vacuous, birdbrained non-logic are shoving people out of the windows of skyscrapers insisting that their fantasy is reality.

So please forgive me for my chuckles at your stupidity, it’s my coping mechanism for the destruction of society that is being heralded as ground-breaking civil liberty. Please be tolerant of my rant for I am merely identifying with the concept of frustration and bafflement of the replacement of rational, logical, and empirical evidence for the sake of a fool’s imagination. Do bear with me as I merely seek to push back against your fantasy for the sake of my desire to raise my children the way I want them raised and not the way you want them raised. I understand that it might be a little hard for you to grasp, liberal transgender extremist, that I don’t want my son to grow up thinking it’s okay for men to pretend to be girls, but I don’t. And for at least right now, thank God, I am still afforded that right as an American.

Sincerely,

A Flabbergasted Father
Joshua E. Bishop

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Christmas Sunday

So I read an article just a few moments ago outlining several reasons why church’s should still hold services the 25th of December this year. Christmas falls on a Sunday as it does every blue moon. (Not the astronomical event, the colloquial expression for “not that often”.)

The plea of the article struck me and got me thinking, “Am I capitulating on my principles by canceling service?” The line that really drew me in was, “Family is a gift, not a God.” It would continue, “I want my family to know that we rearrange our schedule for corporate worship; we don’t expect corporate worship to be rearranged for us.” That’s a seemingly valid argument. That seemed to turn the tide in my mind. So then I got to thinking about some points of my own—somewhat of a pros and cons list.

Pros

1. Christ never commanded the observance of His birth.
2. We shouldn’t forsake the gathering of ourselves together.
3. Sunday is “the Lord’s day” after all. (The article actually made that very argument.)
4. Here’s the big gun; Family is a gift not a god.

Cons

1. Paul spoke about feasts and festivals, that if someone wants to observe a feast or festival, let them. If not, don’t. But rather let each one do or not do to the glory of God. If we are celebrating the birth of the Lord with all the typical commercialized methods, then let us glorify God in that way. If you find all the tinsel and glitter, trees and wreaths to be a distraction from glorifying God, by all means, abstain.
2. Are we really “forsaking” the gathering or merely moving the timing of our meeting up about 18 hours for Christmas Eve service? Böhme says concerning the term “forsaking” in the Greek that to understand the expression properly we should see it as a “leaving to its fate the Christian church, sunk in poverty, peril, and distress, by the refusal of acts of assistance.” Bleek said it’s “the escape from the claims of the church to the cherishing and tending of its members, by the neglecting of the common religious assemblies. These commentators showcase that skipping a service is NOT what’s meant here. Rather, forsaking the assembly is a Heart issue of being a derelict member of the body. The early church would actually gather daily together for encouragement, teaching and worship. You came when you were available. Sunday’s were the big event for sure, but missing a Sunday was not considered “forsaking the church”.
3. Legalism would demand that we never change service times or days. If the Lord intends us to be sure to have the church doors open every single Sunday without fail, explain then how Jesus’ lessons on the Sabbath should be then interpreted for the Christian. Jesus made it very clear that the day there was an “actual law” written of concerning its observance, was made for man and not man for it. I’m no Sabbatarian but the idea of a weekly day for worship is very Jewish and Jesus already clarified that argument well.
4. I didn’t make the call to cancel services on Christmas because I wanted family more than Christ. This argument, although very abrupt and jarring, is chalked full of holes. Taking this argument to its logical end then you could say that a mother staying home with sick children is showing preference for her children over God. She’d rather take care of her children than worship Christ. But wouldn’t Paul say, and wouldn’t a Christian mother agree that anything we do can be and should be an act of worship? That mother saying I’m staying home with the kids to tend to their illness can have just as deep and rich a time of worship in her home than in the building where the church gathered that same day.

Choosing to spend Christmas morning with family in observance of a feast and festival is not idolizing family over Christ. It can be. But just because something can be used wrong doesn’t mean that it is used wrong. We as New Testament believers have freedom in Christ and are not bound by Old Testament laws concerning the feasts and festivals we are or are not permitted to enjoy. Rather, if one eats, let him eat to the Lord. If one abstains, let him abstain to the Lord. The hard reality is that the article I read built a straw man so as to tear it down. If a church feels convicted to have services on Christmas Sunday, do not sin against your consciences. But if my conscience is clear of the matter, then permit me to worship the Lord with that clear conscience. If, however, in any of this someone might stumble, far be it from me to hold fast to my position in the face of the one who would stumble over my liberty.

I made the call to “cancel” Sunday service on 12/25 after seeking to determine just that. I felt that freedom to cancel, but held off until I could get a feel from some members toward that idea. Having a good inclination, that’s when I made the call.

I will say this however, as a caveat, the argument that held the most water after close scrutiny was the argument of the visitor looking for a place to worship with other believers. To which, I would say that if by the providence of God a sheep of the Lord’s was looking for fellowship on 12/25, and our doors were shut, that would be a very sad thing. The likelihood of that, and wanting to meet at our church at the 9:30 am hour is extremely small in my estimation.

One last thing here. Although I’ve been using the term “cancel” service throughout this article, really all we’re doing is moving our Sunday worship service to Saturday night. Please, if you’re in town, come and worship with us 12/24, Saturday night at 5:30pm. It will be a quiet and reflective time of worshiping the Savior together.

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Pigs & Dogs

Pigs & Dogs

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Matthew 7:7 – July 26th, 2016

There is real danger in the spread of the gospel and our gracious and understanding God knows it. The verse that lies before us today expressed that reality in a way that many have overlooked. The notion of dogs and pigs is obvious metaphor, but the objects of this metaphor is what has obviously escaped many Christians. We’re admonished by Christ that when we are casting the seed of the gospel, that we abstain from giving this holy word, this pearl of immeasurable value to those that might be called dogs or pigs.

Who could these two groups of people be? Why would Christ call us to keep back the life-giving words of the gospel to these people? The simple answer is found in understanding Jesus’ culture in which He spoke. Dogs were definitely not man’s best friend in the Jerusalem. The dogs that would invariably come into town would be ferrel dogs, not tamed by man, and were vicious pack animals that sought to harm those that might get in their way. In the Old Testament any animal with a split hoof, which would include swine, were considered “unclean”. If someone ate that animal or touched it’s dead carcas they would be deemed “unclean”.

Jesus makes the point that there are those that we will come in contact with; those who will name the name of Christ and those who might not, who will seek to harm us and therefore goad us to invest in them. We then must be watchful and seek to determine from our conversations and interactions if these persons might actually be seeking to “…turn to attack you…”, or if they are sincerely desiring help. Likewise, there are going to be those whose entire aim is to try, in whatever way possible, to defile you thereby “trampling [the pearl of the gospel] underfoot…”.

We are commanded to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with “almost” everyone we come in contact with. These are the two exemptions from that command. The danger now might be though to think or justify you’re failure to preach that holy pearl because everyone is seeking to “defile” or “attack” you. In a sense––that is true. Everyone who is not in Christ is under the sway of the enemy, and therefore their aim is to defile or hurt you. This caveat though is not about those who might be passively involved in this action or might come into this category for a moment when confronted with the gospel. This is a description of those people as a whole. They “are dogs” they “are swine”. That’s their entire aim in life and that’s their only reason to speak with you.

Therefore, the “Connection Point” of this verse is simply this: If someone’s confrontational it doesn’t mean that they are dogs, but confrontational. If someone turns against you and is seeking to upset your perception with others it doesn’t mean that they are as a whole swine. If however, someone is persistently, consistently, seeking to trap you or back you into a corner so that you appear or actually fall into sin––run. If a person is laying traps or worse, land-mines for you to step in––run. Do not continue to give to them the grace of God. Do not continue to cast those pearls of the gospel at them. Instead, shake the dust of their home off your feet and go to the next.

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THROUGH FAITH

THROUGH FAITH

Salvation is a monergistic work of God. Meaning that the work of a person’s salvation is not a work of cooperation between man and God, but instead it is purely a word of God alone. The Father bestows grace upon a sinner and that sinner is then granted the faith to believe. It is then through that faith alone that salvation is then granted to the person in particular. By grace alone, through faith alone.

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SOVEREIGN GRACE

SOVEREIGN GRACE

In Christian culture ambiguity is on the rise. It’s our desire to be as forth-right as possible. We believe that God grants Salvation alone by His Sovereign Grace alone through His Sovereign gift of Faith alone which He grants to all those who believe. We therefore reject the notion that God’s grace is enacted by some movement of an intrinsic faith in man thus causing God to show mercy. No. Salvation is wholly of God in spite of our responsibility as sinful men & women.

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SCRIPTURE ALONE

SCRIPTURE ALONE

We believe that the Bible is God’s special revelation that is without error in doctrine and detail in it’s original manuscripts. To use the terminology of the day we believe in the absolute inerrancy of the Scriptures as they existed in their original form. Those copies we have today, we recognize as being more than 99% accurate to those original forms and therefore we have incalculable trust in our Bible’s to be the lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

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Oh, This Present Evil Age!

Oh, This Present Evil Age!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

This present evil age! God has planned to deliver us from this “present evil age.” And rightly praise God for that. But is that the point of Paul’s greeting to the Galatians in verses 3-5? Note the grace and the peace that Paul reminds them of in his formal greeting. Paul is not wasting his breath, they need to be reminded that God has granted them both of these wonderful blessings. Furthermore Paul is actually starting this entire letter off with those things that God has already so graciously done.

You see the statement that lies before us is not that of Paul saying that God “will” grant grace and peace; this is not a statement of God promising to forgive us of our sins; it is a declaration that these things have already occurred. This is where the whole, “present evil age” comes into play. Paul is not saying that God is delivering, or even is planning on delivering us from this present evil age. Paul says, God, by His grace, has—delivered us from this present evil age.

What’s more, the way that God has delivered us from “this present evil age”, is not through the means that most Christians think. God’s grace has not rescued us from the evil people that befall us—well, I mean it does, but that’s not what Paul is talking about here. God “…gave himself for our sins…” And why did He forgive us our sins? “…to deliver us from the present evil age…” This present evil age is not so because people hate Christians and mock and ridicule us. This present world is evil because there is human life in it. This, which Paul was talking about 2,000 years ago, but this present age is evil because you and I are sinners, we are, “…by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:3)

So before we rail against our culture—again, maybe this text might remind us that the reason the world is so evil, is due ONLY to the fact that sinners, like you and I, are in it. May the reminder of God’s grace freely given, and peace that surpasses all understanding be a guide to us this day, as we seek to show that grace and tell of that peace to others.

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Controlled by Guns

Controlled by Guns

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath… Exodus 20:4

I made a comment this morning during my sermon on the concept of gun control and my firm belief that we ought to protect our homes and families in the face of those that would wish us or our families harm. I personally own a few firearms and as long as it is legal for me to do so I will retain that ownership, Lord willing.

There are those whose desires are to be biblical and to rethink what we often times take for granted because of our culture. I not only applaud that I strive to do that myself as well. I believe that our culture plays too heavy a role in our understanding of the scriptures which is terribly unfortunate.

Let me first say that I am not an American, I am a Christian who has been blessed to be born and raised in America, to parents who also enjoyed that privilege; along with their parents etc. The distinction is that I hold firmly to the reality that Christians are sojourners in this land and as such our citizenship belongs to another kingdom. I also believe that the Bible gives us all we need for life and godliness and so I believe the answer concerning the ownership and usage of firearms can and ought to be addressed from the Scriptures and not the United States Constitution.

Essentially, the Scriptures take two positions and they could potentially be seen as contradictions.

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (Matthew 5:39-40)

But Jesus also said, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Luke 22:36

So, turn the other cheek or weild the sword? Without an in depth exegesis, I would say this; The one who is evil that slaps me (no threat of severe bodily harm, but is rather insulting me) or the one who would take me before a judge is not the same as one who, unlawfully, breaks my door lock, and enters my home purposefully to rob and possibly to harm my family. So I see a clear distinction between these passages as different concepts all together.

To go one further, I would also expresse the implication of the parable of the strong man… “Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” Matthew 12:22 The implication is that the strong man defends his home.

However, let me also say this. The “you can have my guns when you take them from my cold dead hands” may be very John Wayne-American, but God calls His people, Christians, to obey the governing authorities that have been sovereignly placed over them by God. Wether that be Emperor Nero who wants us ripped to pieces, OR a president who wants to take away our guns. After all let’s not forget what Philippians 4:5 teaches us, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand”.

While Christians are to be known for their hope and reasonablness, and be “living at peace with all as far as it depends upon us…” most American Christians are busy barking about red coffee cups, and confusing the 2nd amendment and the 2nd Commandment.

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Assigned Faith

Assigned Faith

“…each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3 ESV)

Flower in AsphaltPaul boldly says that, varied individuals have been assigned, by our sovereign God, levels of faith in this verse. Paul makes a case for why each Christian must not elevate himself/herself due largely to this fact. Paul would also say in 1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” Quite literally then, the person that says that “They put their faith in Christ.” is either unwittingly OR purposefully believing something contrary to the Scriptures.

If someone is under the impression that they had done something for their salvation, OR, if they believe that their sanctification solely rests upon “their faith”; that they need to just “have more faith” they’re wrong. Now the Scriptures tell us that we are to grow in faith, our faith will increase, and that as we get closer to God that faith increases. So I’m “not saying” that our faith “doesn’t increase”, for it does. I am also not saying that, once we are Christians we merely sit around waiting for God to increase our faith. On the contrary that’s not true at all either.

In order for our faith to increase, we must be growing in the grace and knowledge of our God, the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18) When we grow in our understanding of Christ and His work, namely the gospel, God increases the faith He’s already given us. Although we typically understand our work to reap rewards, what do you have that you have not been given? The idea of working and gaining pay for that work is not a heavenly economy. We are slaves of righteousness. We are slaves of Christ. Meaning, we do what we’re told to do and that’s it.

Anything that we “gain” has nothing to do with our work, but is due to the joy that the slave-master has in giving to His slaves. The most derelict believer is still a son or daughter of the King and will be an equal inheritor with Christ. This is not to encourage a lazy hoard of slaves, but to set those slaves free from a works mentality. I gain; faith, grace, love, forgiveness, righteousness, heavenly pleasure, earthly pleasure, complete satisfaction of my soul––not because I have worked hard for it. I gain those things because Christ worked hard for them and then graciously gives it all to me.

I am freed to simply to work for my Lord, because it makes me happy to work for Him. This is not the toil of working the ground in spite of the briars and thorn bushes. This is work that is pleasurable and fulfilling for the “goal” has already been achieved, and already, in a not-yet sort-of-way, been given to me. The faith then that I have directly correlates not with my works. The level of faith that I have, regardless of what I do for God, correlates purely in relation to the grace and wisdom of God as he assigns it.

Therefore: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 NIV)

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PHILOSOPHY OF ADOLESCENCE

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

The Bible teaches that there are two stages in life; childhood and adulthood. The notion of adolescence is a contemporary cultural creation. Adolescence is some homogenous, unknown period of time when a person is no longer understood as a child, and yet not recognized as an adult.

We reject this notion and opt for a more Biblical perspective. Around the time a child has reached puberty they are transitioning between childhood and adulthood. It’s at this time that we encourage parents to begin training their children to start thinking of themselves as adults. This also is why we encourage high-school students to join their parents in the adult Bible study as opposed to having another class for the adolescent age. The Scriptures teach the folly of wasting our youth on things that are of no value. We believe that adolescence is one of those philosophies of man that encourages just that.

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To what lengths would you follow Christ? That’s Christianity’s question. In order to become a Christian to begin with this question is asked of you. Will you follow Christ more than your own desire? While you follow Christ into self-denial and serve no longer yourself but Him alone? Truly the concepts of both repentance and faith are bound up in that question. Will you turn away from following self and seek only to follow Christ? Will you trust Christ enough to put away all the other things you follow? The true Christian, upon conversion, was empowered to answer yes. Yes I will reject self and reject this world in order to follow hard after You God.

To what lengths would you follow Christ? That’s Christianity’s question. Not merely at the beginning, but also along the way. The true Christian doesn’t follow Christ to one point and then says, alright, I’ve followed Him and now it’s my turn to lead. No, no, no. Christ is the head of His body. Christ is the leader of His household. Christ is the one who has every right to lead you into literally any and every situation you might find yourself. What’s more is that Christ, as He is the sovereign of creation, has lead you into all circumstances––it’s just our sinful hearts that fail to see that very point. So the call to the Christian who’s been a Christian for “x” number remains is to follow Christ every day.

To what lengths would you follow Christ? That’s Christianity’s question; Not only for the one’s who needs initial salvation, Not merely for the one who is seeking to continue their walk with Him, But it is also the question of the Christian who is seeking to understand their walk with Christ. Let me explain. A person, a Christian, can become deceived into thinking that they are following Christ when in reality they are not. If you’re following Christ because He’s “leading” you where you already want to go, you’re not following Christ, you’re following yourself. To what lengths would you follow Christ? Would you follow Him if what He said you didn’t agree with? Would you follow Him if what He allowed didn’t seem loving? Would you follow Him into the pit of despair if that’s where His providence were to take you? King David said it plainly, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” In what capacity is Jesus with me there? Do I see Him as my companion in that moment, or is He my leader?

To what lengths would you follow Christ? Would you be willing to walk into the valley of the shadow of death if you knew that’s where He was leading you? You see this is the question Christianity is always asking. Wether it’s the question that we’re empowered by the Holy Spirit to say yes to and therefore be accepted into the family of God; Or if it’s the question that reveals our intentions to follow Him only if He leads me by the still waters and no where else. How far would you follow Christ today? How deep would you be willing to “let” Him take you? How much of yourself would you “allow” Him to reveal to you, before you said that’s enough? This is Christianity’s question: To what lengths will––you––follow Christ?

Follow Christ
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I Want You

I Want You

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel…” (James 4:1-2) 

Let’s just say it! Sin sucks. Sin removes us from fellowship with God. Sin clouds our judgment. Sin frustrates our soul. Sin calls down the Lord’s discipline-sin breaks God’s heart. So why do we do it? If all this is true, and we know it’s true, why are we still doing it? Let’s just say it! We want sin more than God. It doesn’t matter what sin it is, it doesn’t matter what promises we’re believing, when we sin it’s a matter of wanting that more than God.

When we desire anything more than God, that “anything”, becomes our god. Pride is desiring our-fame more than God’s fame. Envy is discontentment with God and His providence as we look to our neighbors. Quarreling, fighting, murdering all happens, as James says, because we desire something other than God and we don’t get it. Sin is the crafting of idols. Idols that; because they have eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear, and feet but cannot move, therefore they make promises that they cannot fulfill.

So how do we fight these false gods? I believe one of the best ways to fight them might be found in three simple words—I Want You. When I’m faced with temptation what should I do? Often times, temptation clouds my ability to articulate a thoughtful prayer recognizing the truth of what we’ve just stated. Often times I can’t see that I’m experiencing the throws of idolatry. So what can we do? Well, I’ll tell you what I’ve had some success with – uttering the simple prayer—I want You.

These three simple words might be easy to say but their meaning is profound. I mean that, if I truly say these three words, they can remind me of the idolatry that I’m being confronted with. If I’ve been confronted now with my idolatry then I have a better chance of realigning my worship towards the one true God. It’s not going to work every time because we are fallen people. But I have found that this grants me a fighting chance at overturning my hearts natural propensity. John Calvin, the French reformer of the 1500’s said this, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” Let’s put those factories out of business. Let’s remove the idols from before us. Let’s want Christ more than everything else. Let’s just say it! We want You God.

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Ambassadors of Christ

Ambassadors of Christ

1816D77F-15DA-4CE4-97F3-FD0BF46D4B99Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. –– 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

If you were to ask me what I believed to be the quintessential verse that expresses the Gospel, I would reply instantaneously, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Expiation, the removal of our sin is there. Imputation of Christ’s righteousness on the sinner, it’s there. Christ’s sinless perfection, there. Man’s fallen condition, yep it’s there. Paul says that the––Father––made Jesus to be sin, so we clearly had nothing to do with it; Sovereignty in salvation––there. There’s even an understanding of propitiation, that in order for us to be considered or counted as righteous, Jesus had to take our sin and pay for them on the cross. The depth of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is vastly immeasurable. The gospel presentation is probably clearest and most completely expressed, in my opinion, in this solitary verse.

What I find interesting Church, is that directly preceding what I believe to be the most gospel-clear verse in the entirety of the Bible is the most evangelism-oriented verse as well. As a matter of fact the whole passage, beginning in verse 18, we’re being pressed toward pleading as Paul pleads with those who are perishing without Christ. The clearest expression of the gospel is providentially placed within some of the strongest urgings on Christians to be about the task of evangelism––appealing to the lost and dying world to be reconciled with Christ.

Let’s be encouraged today Church, to be about the work that our Lord has called us to. Let’s be encouraged Church, to be working out our faith by being the ambassador’s that God has made us to be. And as A.W. Tozer said, let us also be encouraged that our role as ambassadors is that not of “…diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.”

Much love to you Church,

– Josh

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Hating Sin…

Hating Sin…

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. — 1 John 3:8

Sin is deadly. Sin is that which the Lord hates and sin is that which Christ suffered and died so as to rescue His chosen people from its curse. (The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.) Whoever it is that makes a practice of doing that which God views as detestable, is himself or herself also detestable in His sight. Interestingly, one of the synonymous terms for the Greek word translated “practice” in this text is, “to lighten the ship”. How interesting a term to use here about a life of sin.
I believe the imagery here in this word can help us understand not only ourselves, but also our sin better. You see, the one who is lightening the ship for sin is the one who is contemplating, the one who is devising new means to make sin easier and more quickly and effortlessly enjoyed. You practice something so that you might get better at it. The true Christian falls into sin, the false Christian trains for it.
This verse and so many like it are there to grant us a litmus test, a scale or thermometer for our spiritual health and life. John didn’t write this to beat you over the head, he intended your encouragement. If you are finding yourself having fallen into sin today, take heart. The Christian life is not that of perfection but that of the sinner’s repentance and the Saviour’s reception. If, however, you find yourself devising plans so that you might get better at your sin, if you are lightening the ship to more swiftly travel into your sin, this is a warning for your soul. Repent, turn and trust Christ before it’s too late.
Much love to you all my family…
– Josh
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Meeting the Uncertainties of the World with Faith

Meeting the Uncertainties of the World with Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. – Hebrews 11:1-2

Faith is the equivalent to a word that we use quite often—trust. You and I actively trust more than you probably take note of. We trust our food suppliers not to poison us; We trust the driver in the on-coming lane not to wreck into us; We trust our AC units to turn on when the temperature gets too high, we even actively trust gravity every day without actually being aware of it. The question of the Christian Faith is not do we trust anything, but do we trust God more than anything? When God says something are we only inclined to trust it because it’s in line with what we might naturally believe? Or are we inclined to believe Him simply because He said it?
When the food tastes good and you survive lunch; When the 38 drivers you’ve passed don’t slam into the hood of your car; When your feet remain firmly planted on the air-conditioned floor of your home, you’re not too often shocked. But when Christ calls you to trust Him, and believe that even the seemingly bad things in life are happening to you for your ultimate good, does that shock you?
Let’s join together and pray as a church family that we might learn to trust God. To trust Him so thoroughly that we’re more sure of His Word than the fact that our next breath will contain the oxygen needed to sustain our very lives. Let’s pray together that we might learn day in and day out to have full assurance of the things we’re told we should hope for. Let’s pray that the Lord might teach us how to have the kind of faith that grants us a firmly held conviction of things that we might never see in this life. And let’s pray that the Lord might grant us this faith that we too might receive our commendation because of it in the life yet to come.
Much love to you all my family…
– Josh
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Be Still…

Be Still…

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted above the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  – Psalm 46:10

There is a great danger in every society, the danger that even a lost man Socrates understood. The danger is in striving too much. Whether that be striving for the sake of God’s glory or striving for the sake of putting food on the table. Although much striving and busyness can be founded on the world’s greatest intentions, yet they can still be poinous to our intended goal. God is perfectly in control of all your affairs and so let us cease from our incessant need to be ever moving and ever working and let us simply learn to… Be still and know that He is God.
Let’s pray as a church family to learn together the art of being still. Let’s pray together for the Lord’s peace, that peace which surpasses all understanding that is able to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And let us pray that through our stillness and trust that we would guard our lives from the barrenness of busy lives.
Much love to you church family…
– Josh
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Preparing to Fail

Preparing to Fail

A Conversation in Sin: 

“When I’m in the middle of a battle over my sin, how do I overcome it?” The answer is that you can’t. The only way that anyone overcomes sin is through the work of Christ in them. “Alright, but how does that work?” Well, you have to trust Christ that He’ll carry you through each temptation. “Okay, so how does He do that and what does that feel like?” It’s a matter of your trust in Him and not in yourself. “Alright, well how do I do that to the point where I don’t sin?” You evaluate those things that you want to trust in and realize that they are not trustworthy, but that Christ is the only one trustworthy. “Yeah, that’s all well-fine-and-good, but when I’m faced with temptations, I’m not in my right mind and rationality really isn’t an easy thing in the thick of it.” Good point. “So…”

You Need a Plan:

I’ve had this pretend conversation over and over with myself in the midst of temptation. I’ve sought to think logically about sin and it’s false promises. The problem is that when you’re being tempted to lie, lust, or loose heart, rational thinking isn’t happening. Sin, at it’s core is not a logical thing. Sin is an emotional response to stimuli. Sin is a default that we’re born, prone to. Sin is anything from breathing to bartending. “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23b ESV) So sitting down and having a rational conversation with yourself in the midst of the temptation is going to be one of the worst things you can do. Trust me, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. Alright, so what does?

“…nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Romans 7:18 ESV)

So if that’s true of Paul and of me, and of you, what’s the alternative to falling into sin? Worship. But if you’re anything like me you ask yourself the question, “How?”. To which the logical argument begins all over again. The how is not to be asked in the midst of the temptation. If you don’t have a plan before the temptation, you’ll never overcome that temptation in Christ. Before I offer the biblical plan let me say first that even if you overcome your temptation, in the moment, it doesn’t mean that you’ve just escaped sinning.

Sin’s Abstinence Might Just be Sin Too:

Recently I was confronted with a very harsh reality. You see previously, (the first 12 or so years of my salvation) when a temptation arose in my heart I utilized a means of combating it. When a temptation arose, I would shame myself for being tempted. I would, under my breath and to myself, demean myself for being tempted. For the most part it worked, at least when I remembered to do that. What I forgot to remember is that the Christian life is not a list of good things to do, and bad things to abstain from. The Christian life is about living in the power of Christ and not in my own strength. When I would refrain from any particular sin, because I shamed myself to keep my hands clean, my heart was still full of sin––the sin of self-reliance.

“For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23b ESV)

This makes the proverb, “The plowing of the wicked is sin” (Proverbs 21:4 KJV) understandable now. In light of Romans 14, falling into temptation, or not, can both be sin. Sleeping with another woman or sleeping with your wife, can both be sin. Anything, means just that, anything––including, abstinence. So, as we move forward to consider the plan we need in place, we first must understand that this plan can only be something that is rooted, founded, and has it’s complete essence in faith. For any plan that fails in this is not a plan away from sin, but simply a plan to sin another way.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11 ESV)

The Plan:

You’ve heard it before. You have, and I know it. You say, “I’ve memorized verses and passages that deal with my sins and have tried quoting them in the heat of battle.” And you’ve sinned regardless. Right? Yeah, me too. You know what’s happened to me? I’ve gone into battle and pulled out the “Sword of the Spirit” which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17) and been pummeled. And I’ve thought, but I had my sword out! I had the verse! If that doesn’t stop it, what will? There is a fundamental error in our logic as well as in our exegesis of the text. This verse doesn’t say, “If you want to overcome sin, memorize proof-texts in your mind.” It says, You store-up, or you “hoard, reserve––esteem”, the “utterances” of God that you “might not” sin. The term “might” is too often completely over looked.

The classic interpretation of this verse, memorize the Bible and you won’t sin, is wrong. The Bible is not for the primary purpose of defeating your battles with sin. The Bible is about Christ. It’s the story of who we are in light of Christ. It’s the story of what He has done for us. And it’s the story of why He did all those things. Psalm 119:11 expresses our need to store-up God’s whole Word in our hearts so that we might; know Him more, love Him because of what we learn, worship Him because of the love and knowledge we have of Him, and then thru this worship we might be kept from sin. The plan to defeat sin is not simply a self-reliance upon your ability to quote Scripture, but rather to set as your aim, knowing God more, loving Him because of what you know, and then that love causing your heart to worship Him more and more and more. If you’re in the thick of worshipping God, you’re less likely to fall into sin.

Best Laid Plan’s of Mice & Men:

Before we all run off trying this plan out and testing my thesis, let me give one great big caveat. This caveat is the same one that appears in the text of Psalm 119:11. Don’t forget that the Holy Spirit revealed this passage in light of the word “might”. So we have our plan. We’re going to store-up God’s Word in our hearts so that we might know Him more, and therefore love Him more, and therefore worship Him all day long. The sad reality is that although we’re less likely to sin in the midst of worship––we still might. John Steinbeck was an early 20th century author. Some of his most prolific works are; “The Grapes of Wrath”, “East of Eden”, “In Dubious Battle” and the first of his novels I ever read, “Of Mice and Men”. Frankly, Steinbeck is a major downer. In the literary world He’s said to be a “realist” and sadly, I must agree.

“but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7 ESV)

Let me offer by way of illustration the Cliff-notes version of the book “Of Mice and Men”. It’s the tale of two hobos, George an average guy and Lenny, a burly man most likely struggling with autism. George has been watching out for Lenny for a long time now but when Lenny accidentally kills a woman, George shoots his long-time mentally-challenged friend, so that the towns-people don’t exact a more inhuman justice from him. And that’s the end of the book. Sad, depressing, but unfortunately realistic. No matter how hard we try, we’re going to sin. Psalm 119 knows this and makes provision for it by using the term “might”. We do all this. We make our plans. We worship Christ as often as possible by reading and storing up His word. But at the end of the day, you and I remain sinners. Until Christ puts away our flesh, we’re still trapped by it and no matter how hard we plan, we still––might sin. That’s the end of our book, period.

Final Word: 

So as a final word of encouragement let me leave us not with a depressing reality like good ole Mr. Steinbeck, but rather with the encouraging words of the Apostle Paul. The words that we too share with him. The words that breath hope into this life and reveal that you and I, in our struggles are never alone. More importantly though, you and I, if we’re in Christ, we’re not condemned.

“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 7:21-8:1 ESV)

Plan to worship Christ, but trust that His grace is still sufficient when we fail.

Posted by Josh Bishop in Blog, 0 comments
Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

When Christmas rolls around every year it seems like the same battles are fought over and over again. Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas. And it seems like every year I see that bumper sticker on the back of peoples cars of a little nativity scene that says , “Put Christ Back into Christmas”. Expressing that Jesus is the reason why we celebrate Christmas the way we do is perfectly fine. But it’s simply not true when we say with a blanket statement “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It’s the winter solstice and had it not been for the Roman Catholics hijacking a pagan holiday, we would be celebrating Christmas in the spring, when Jesus was actually born. The problem I have, however, with many Christians this time of year is the fact that we’re so focused on fighting some war against atheists that we’re not engaging the lost with the gospel.

If someone says happy holidays to us, why are we so offended? Do we not know that only true Christians love Christ? Yet we’re demanding that people and stores extend a “Merry Christmas” because we want them to. We would hardly like it if Muslims demanded during Ramadan that we say some mantra that only they believe. This has become a great distraction that the enemy has cooked up to cause the Christians themselves to remove Christ from the intended meaning of Christmas. If Christmas is supposed to be about the incarnation of the of the Savior of the world, why are we fighting a war on terminology? Jesus is about the gospel, not about making sure atheists say Merry Christmas. When someone looks at you this season and says, “Happy Holidays”, instead of becoming outraged that a lost person has just devalued your religion, recognize that you’re probably speaking to a lost person who needs Christ more than your irritation.

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Birth?

Birth?

Monergism; Synergism; These are words that have great implications for the Christian and yet many Christians wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what they mean. The difference between these words is, life eternal with Christ, and an eternity spent in the pits of hell. So critical are these terms and their meanings that without the truth associated with one, no one who be rescued from their sins and mankind as a whole would be lost without hope. Do I have your attention yet?

Monergism references the work of salvation as a divine act of God without input or help from the one receiving salvation. Synergism places the work of salvation on God with the sinner’s cooperation and assistance. Synergistic salvation is an offer from God wisely received and accepted by man. Monergistic salvation is purely and wholly an act of God rescuing a sinner from their lost and helpless condition. Arguments persist over the roll of man in his salvation which sound like this; Men must repent and believe, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” and therefore we have a roll in our salvation, synergism cries. Monergism retorts by agreeing and teaches that is is “…God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” One must be right and the other must be wrong. Salvation is either totally God’s grace granted to dead sinners, or salvation is not grace and is simply awarded to those who respond properly.

We could spend months even years discussing all the various issues facing this argument and quote back and forth chapter and verse from both sides. However, I believe there is an unsung hero in this fight. A simple, well known, statement that should put this battle to rest. Something that A.W. Pink wrote clued me into this subtle argument that I believe too many have overlooked.

The new birth is solely the work of God the Spirit and man has NO part or lot in causing it . . . birth altogether excludes the idea of any effort or work on the part of the one who is born.
~ AW Pink

Is God in the habit of wasting His infinitely valuable breath?

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
(Psalm 12:6)

Is it not His breath that caused the heaven’s to come into existence?

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.”
(Psalm 33:6 ESV)

So if God is not in the habit of wasting His words and they are all purposeful and carry exactly the meaning He intends why would Jesus say that you must be “born” again?

Almost four years ago my son was born. I had the most amazing privilege of being in the room and coaching my wife on while it happened. I remember quite profoundly the events of the moments leading up to his birth, the event itself, and the moments afterwards. My wife was AMAZING, as I’m sure any husband must admit of his wife for going through that. The midwife and the nurses we’re wonderful and did everything so precisely. There were, however, two people in the room who did absolutely nothing––myself and my son. All I was qualified for in that moment was to stand there, out of the way, holding my wife’s hand and that was the extent of my involvement. My son, however was thoroughly involved but incapable of helping.

Little AJ, from the moment of conception, could do absolutely nothing to cooperate with us in his birth. Synergism must say then, that this analogy is a wrong one. The idea of a person becoming a Christian by way of “birth” cannot be the way that one is saved if we are to cooperate with God in it. Yet we hear Jesus explain to a notorious synergistic individual, Nicodemus a pharisee, that salvation is just that––a new birth.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
(John 3:1-7 ESV)

Let us not marvel at the idea that we should be monergistically, “born” again. God gave us physical life without our cooperation, so why should eternal life somehow be based upon anything other than His grace alone?

Posted by Josh Bishop in Blog
Always Ascending

Always Ascending

Our flesh, also understood as our human nature, is constantly seeking to drag us down into the muck and more of sin. The pit of depravity is our nature’s natural habitat and feels most at home when we’re dwelling in darkness. Often times there is a familiarity with the shadows that, though we may despise them, they can feel—easier than walking in the light. If you’ve ever felt that way let me encourage you by saying the reason for that is due to the fact that, it is easier to dwell in darkness. Surely if we are Christians it’s very uncomfortable  and can cause our soul’s to be in great distress.  There is, however,  something about the darkness that a part of us loves and longs for. Paul said it this way in Romans 7.

 

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25 ESV) 

 

To highlight just how difficult the war within us really is, Paul says this in Galatians 5;

 

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17 ESV)

 

Jonathan Edwards put well by saying that the Christian life is an uphill climb. If you’ve been a Christian longer than a week you know that this climb is filled with jagged edges, rockslides, and sometimes full-out avalanches. It seems that in my own life I’m having to pick myself up off the ground again and again and then gazing up at the precipice before me thinking, will I ever get to the top? In spite of those moments, and in spite of those thoughts I must remember the words of our Lord and His promises specifically aimed at this very struggle.

 

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV) 

 

The task before you and I is not to overcome; our flesh, our desires, our sin, or even the world that dangles these things in front of us. For the reality is that Christ has already overcome those things. Our task is to simply climb. One hand in front of the other, one foothold at a time. When the rocks give way under us, wether just a simple slip or what seem like the mountain itself is coming down, we can be sure that we are held secure. For it’s not some flimsy metal clip that holds our rope but Christ the Rock of our salvation, at the top, keeping us safe from falling too far.

Posted by Josh Bishop in Blog, 0 comments
Preach, Die, Be Forgotten

Preach, Die, Be Forgotten

Count Nicolas Ludwig Von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf was known for the great Moravian missionaries that were birthed from his town of Hurrnhut Germany. The Moravians were known the world around for their incredible devotion to God and to the Gospel. The Moravians and Count Zinzendorf, as he is most commonly known, were devoted to the notion that those who were to serve God were to work amongst the people. It was taught that through earning their own wages and not through missionary support that they could be true salt and light. The only provisions that were made for a missionary from the church was to get them from Hurrnhut to a port where they might find passage by their own work aboard a ship. Typically when a missionary left, they left for good, to spend the rest of their lives where they landed.

Nicolas and those whom he commissioned as missionaries’ devotion to the gospel and the Christ of the gospel was astounding. On one instance a small group of single men who desired to give their lives to the cause of Christ, sold themselves into salary. Their attention was placed upon slaves and how unless slaves preached to slaves, Christ would not be know. It was this reality drove them to do what would normally be unthinkable. They offered themselves in exchange for money given to their family and boarded slave ships for the glory of God.

For the Moravian and for Zinzendorf, the only thing that mattered was the name and fame of Jesus Christ to all people’s no matter what the cost. The truth is, that the gospel is worth our all, because the God of the Gospel is worth our all. Oh that we might become enamored with Gospel so much that we too might cherish it above pride, possessions and even life itself!

Posted by Josh Bishop in Blog
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Now I lay me down to sleep, 

for the lost my heart should weep. 

If he should die before I wake, 

I know the Lord, his soul, won’t take. 

And yet we slumber in our bed,

unconcerned for man’s painful end.

Knowing the gospel for ourselves,

yet keeping faith upon our shelves.

We enjoy His abundant grace, 

awaiting to see Him face to face. 

Yet we do not hear what He has said!

Concerned not for man’s coming dread!

And so we sleep with blissful dreams, 

Never hearing Hell’s deadly screams. 

Oh that we might soon would grieve, 

and bid men unto Christ to cleave. 

Rescue is offered by Christ alone, 

but He’s determined through men to show, 

redemption’s peace with the Father is free,

but must be preached by you and by me!

Posted by Josh Bishop in Blog, Poetry, 0 comments
Prayer Without Hope

Prayer Without Hope

 

As Christians we too often overlook the call on our lives to pray earnestly. James 5:16 says; “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” That verse highlights the incredible power in prayer that we too often times forget as well. Prayer, although powerful, is also understood as nothing more than simply speaking with our Lord as if we were simply face to face with Him. There are never more joyful times of prayer that I experience than when I’m simply conversing with the Lord as if He were right next to me. I find the sweetest hours of prayer when I find myself chatting, as if with a dear friend about things that––no one would really be interested in.

The Father desires that we share with Him our deepest concerns and innermost longings. And there is nothing that is more intimate than following those guidelines for prayer. Although prayer is that which is to be done in a loving and intimate manner, it’s also not to be done without the expectancy of His listening ear. James, the half brother of Jesus said in relation to asking God for wisdom;

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(James 1:5-8 ESV)

Although James speaks of asking the Lord for wisdom, the principle is the same no matter what we’re asking for. If we seek the Lord’s assistance and we believe we’re asking not for our own passions or lusts, we must be asking in faith. Asking in faith means that we are as Richard Sibbes said, “…wait[ing] on hope.” That is, when we seek the Lord, we must not “atheistically” believe that God isn’t there or won’t hear us. The Father delights to hear His children and will not turn away the one who asks Him in patient anticipation.

Posted by Josh Bishop in Blog, Prayer, 0 comments