Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Preacher's Prayer

One of the greatest privileges of pastoring is preaching and teaching God’s Word. The potential for eternal life-change through the anointed preaching of God’s Word is both humbling and exciting. I know my life has been changed by Spirit-anointed sermons. I desire with all my heart to be used by God to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As I preach again this Sunday, here is my earnest prayer that I invite all preachers to pray with me:

Lord God Almighty, thank You for Your Holy Word. In it is found life and truth. You tell us to “preach the Word in season and out of season” (1 Tim. 4:2). I want to do just that, so I ask You to “bring Your Word to light through the preaching entrusted to me” (Titus 1:3). I pray that Your written Word will reveal to people the Living Word, Jesus Christ, because it is in Him that eternal life is found (Jn. 5:39-40).

I joyfully acknowledge that “apart from You I can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5) on my own. I desperately need You. If You do not breath life into this message, it will be dry bones at best (2 Kings 13:21), and no one today needs lifeless bones. Therefore, I ask You to empower and anoint this message by Your Spirit. Help me not to “preach with persuasive words of human wisdom, but rather with the demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that people’s faith would not rest on the wisdom of man but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5).

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable unto You, my Strength and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).

Just as in the book of Acts when the Spirit “came upon people” (Acts 10:44), I ask You, Holy Spirit, to come upon those that hear me preach – come upon them with conviction, encouragement, and insight. Move their hearts and their wills to want to follow You. Work in them both to “will and to do for Your good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Make this message an encounter with You, the Living God.

Finally, Lord, I ask You to speak to my heart and life through this message. Change me, O Lord, through my own preaching.

Most importantly, may You get all the glory and honor that is due Your Name. I pray this in Jesus’ precious Name. Amen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Remembering and Forgetting

I am currently going through The Truth Project class at our church. Del Tackett said in one of the lessons, “We often forget what we should remember, and we remember what we should forget.” I found this statement to be very thought provoking.

Let’s reflect for a moment on what we should remember and what we should forget.

What are we to remember? The bible is very clear that we are to remember such truths as:
- The goodness of God.
- The faithfulness of God.
- The ways God has worked in our life.
- The blessings of God.
- The cross of Jesus.
- The future of Satan.
- Our identity in Christ.

Psalms 78 tells us that Israel fell away from God because they frequently forgot what He had done in their past. When the people of Israel crossed the Jordan River, God had them stack stones as a memorial, so that future generations would not forget what He had done for them. Let us not forget what God has done – in the Bible, in history, and in our lives!

On the other hand, what should we forget? God’s Word tells us to forget such things as:
- Our forgiven sins. If God has thrown our sins as far as the east is from the west, and if He remembers our sins no more, then we have no business remembering them. Instead, we need to thank God for His amazing love and complete forgiveness of all our sins (see 1 John 1:9).
- The sins of others. 1 Cor. 13 says that love does not keep a record of wrongs. We must forgive those who hurt us just like Christ forgives us.
- Our past mistakes. Now, there is a place to learn from our mistakes, but too often we condemn ourselves for things in our past that God has already forgiven and forgotten. Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” and loves to use our ungodly past against us. God sees us as new creatures in Christ, “the old has gone and the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

When Satan brings up your past, you remind him of his future and remind yourself of your identity in Christ. Let’s learn to remember what we should remember and forget what we should forget.

Friday, July 3, 2009

True Independence Day

This weekend there will be lots of talk about Independence Day. And isn't it great that we live in a free country? Praise God for all that has happened to give us the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation. However, there is an even greater freedom that comes only through Jesus Christ.

Here are some of the many freedoms one can have through Jesus:

1. Freedom from the penalty of sin. Jesus fully paid the penalty for us when He died and rose again. Therefore, the Holy God of the universe can accept Jesus' payment and clear our account from the huge debt we owe. In Christ, we can have eternal freedom from the penalty of sin! "God made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behave, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21

2. Freedom from the power of sin. Not only did Jesus' death and resurrection win the victory over the penalty of sin, but it also won the victory over the power of sin. In other words, through the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, we can now live a life of victory over sin. We do not have to sin. We can resist through God's power. "How shall we who died to sin still live in?" Rom. 6:1

3. Freedom to be real. God loves and accepts us in Christ with an unconditional love. This doesn't mean our behavior is irrelevant, but it does mean that we do not obey to earn God's love but rather because of His love. Therefore, we can be real. We can be honest. We can admit our weaknesses and failures, and come to God just like we are. We can even be real with others, which is how we grow the most. Let's take off our mask and be real.

4. Freedom from Satan. Though Satan is more powerful than we are in our flesh, he is not more powerful than the God who lives in us. "Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world" (1 Jn. 4:4). Because of Christ's death and resurrection, Satan lost his upper hand over us. We can submit to God, resist the Devil and he will flee (Jas. 4:7).

5. Freedom from condemnation. Satan loves to bring condemnation upon believers by reminding them of their past or current failures. However, we can bring those sins to the cross and claim the forgiveness of Christ. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). When Satan brings up your past, remind him of your righteousness in Christ. Also, remind him of his future!

6. Freedom to live "all out" for God. How cool that we can give our all for the One who gave His all for us. How cool that we can give our lives for something that matters for eternity. We are set free to live freely for our Master, Jesus. We do this because He has put a new song in our heart. We do this because He is working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13).

On this Independence Day weekend, let us give thanks to God for the freedoms we have in Christ!