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It has been my experience that every church is going through a process of revitalization in some form or another. I have never met a pastor who did not want their church to be healthier or to grow. Every church that I have served in tirelessly worked to be more useful for the glory of God.

We pushed because we knew church health and the salvation of souls hung in the balance. We worked hard in revitalization because we knew that churches that revitalize well, in most cases experience biblical growth and churches that do not work at revitalization end up in stagnation and death. Church revitalization must be a constant work of every church leader. But what does it look like to revitalize well?

After leading churches in the work of revitalization and working through countless hours of materials on church revitalization, I have found three things to be imperative for the work of revitalization. Here is the third step.

(Click Here For Step 1)

(Click Here For Step 2)

Understanding The Pastor’s Role in Church Revitalization

The Pastor is the Front Runner For Revitalization.

The pastor plays a vital role in communicating the vision of church revitalization. The pastor is the out-front and visible leader of the church. Therefore, the pastor is designed to be the one leading the charge for church revitalization. He is delegating tasks and letting people know what needs to get done. There is also great power in the pulpit to steer the church, and the pastor must utilize this power to lead the church in the process of revitalization. Casting a vision of the church’s bright future to reach the next generation for the cause of the Kingdom, and proclaim salvation in Christ alone is the pastor’s privilege and responsibility.

The Pastor is the Visionary for Revitalization.

The pastor must have a clear vision for revitalization. When a church makes shifts to become healthy and effective, the forces of evil always push back. Pushback may present itself through spiritual warfare on the pastor’s family, or resistance to change from the church family. Regardless of the method, the pastor must have a clear vision of the Lord for the mission of revitalization. If the pastor committed to church revitalization, the church will lose sight of their purpose and return to stagnation. But if the pastor is clear and committed to what the Lord has called, he will remain faithful and see his calling for church revitalization through.

The Pastor is the Leader for Revitalization

Church revitalization is hard work for a pastor. Churches consist of people who want to run the church their way, individuals who desire for nothing to change or grow, apathetic people who don’t care whether the church grows or stagnates, and others who wish to see their church grow but don’t know how to go about it. Therefore, strong pastoral leadership is a requirement for church revitalization. Pastors must determine if they are ready and committed to lead the church to take on the mission of revitalization. Church revitalization takes time, and if the pastor is already considering a move or is uncommitted to the church’s future, it would be best for the pastor not to take the leadership role the process of revitalization.

The process of church revitalization is not an easy task. Leading a church through the many stages of church revitalization, namely, grieving the past, working through change, and envisioning a future takes patience and endurance for even the most seasoned pastors. Theologically we must understand that while church revitalization is complicated, God cares about the health of his church. Jesus loves his bride greatly, and he will return for her soon (Rev 19:7). He has even given her great, enduring power in a dark world and has promised her victory over the powers of hell (Matt 16:18). While the work of church revitalization is no doubt hard work, God has called us to the task, and I believe the work is worth the effort.

In my devotional this morning I was inspired by the content that Oswald Chambers put forth. He addresses an issue that is not discussed as much as it should be in the Christian world today. Chambers addressed the topic of how to get more connected with God. I paraphrased a few of my thoughts while reading it below. (you can read the entire devotional for yourself at www.utmost.org)

My vision of God is dependent on the condition of my character. If my character is flawed, so will my vision be. My character determines whether God’s truth can be revealed to me. 

Before you can claim to see the Lord, there must be something that is conformed to the likeness of God in you. This requires you to put God first in all circumstances before we can be in continual communion with Him.

As I was reading and thinking through this I couldn’t help but thinking of my life and those around me seeking a deeper relationship with God without knowing really how to get there. It would seem that in the midst of all the easy-going self-help / motivational sermons and bible studies that we have lost our understanding of what it takes to have a correct relationship with God.

[Side Note:  I say this because I listen to a lot of podcasts from across the nation and I read a lot of books and recently it seems that we shy away from the root problem of sin and the value of living a holy life. To be honest, it is troubling to me that the only place I seem to find any illusion to a commitment to holiness is found in the Scripture and in the writings of older theologians such as Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody, etc. or ones that are not as old such as Oswald Chambers or Bill Graham.]

Let us not be fooled friends, the Lord gave you grace for salvation to cover your sins and deliver you from the perils of torment. But He now expects you as Lord to follow Him and be holy unto Him.

“[13] Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)

I am not saying that you will or are immediately perfect or sinless. Because we all still fall short of God and even Paul dealt with the struggles of sin in the flesh. (Romans 7) But even Paul while struggling in his sin knew that he could not keep sinning and be in right relationship with God.

“[6:1] What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? [2] By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? [3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? [4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

[5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. [6] We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. [7] For one who has died has been set free from sin. [8] Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. [9] We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. [10] For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. [11] So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. [13] Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. [14] For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:1-14 ESV)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realize that the Lord desires for you to be in correct relationship with him and that in order for this to happen we must stop sinning and replace that sin with His presence in our lives. It is the only way we can become closer to him.

Lord, correct my character so I can see you faithfully and you can reveal your truth to me. Lord remove my sin from me so that I can walk more faithfully to you.

Quotes on Living Holy Lives

Spurgeon – “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”(read more here)

D.L. Moody – “Lord make me as holy as a sinner saved by grace can be”

Billy Graham – “holiness is God’s priority for our earthly lives. A disciple of Christ should always be careful not to place a higher value on being “happy” than on being holy. Yes, it gives our heavenly Father pleasure for us to have happiness, but not at the cost of our personal holiness.” (read more here)

John Brown – “Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”

AW Tozer – “The holy man is not one who cannot sin. A holy man is one who will not sin.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.”

What have you dedicated more time to this week? Your happiness or your holiness?

Do you have any scriptures or quotes that inspire you to be more holy in your walk with Christ? Post them as a comment for all to see.

2 John 1:7-13 ESV (Bold Added)

[7] For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. [8] Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. [9] Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. [10] If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, [11] for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

[12] Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

[13] The children of your elect sister greet you.

As I have meditated on this and some of the other scriptures I have been reading in my devotional times, I have seen how important it is for believers to have a very proactive faith. I know that just about everyone who is a committed church attender will say “yes that’s true” or “I believe that.” After all most church going Christians have heard this message every Sunday as long as they have attended church.
 

So my question then becomes, why don’t we act on it more often?
 

I believe that sometimes this is credited to laziness but other times, it is simply because we don’t know where to start. Which is why I added an excerpt from the devotional below. Here the author outlines some great insight for people of all spiritual depths to get involved in God’s plan.
 

Connecting the Testaments Devotional (June 28th) Excerpt

John wanted the community to be aware of false teaching so they wouldn’t become confused or weakened in their faith. We, too, need to be intentional about the teaching we adhere to. If we are weak and troubled in our faith, we should seek out mature believers who can teach and minister to us. However, if we are confident in our faith, we should be ready and willing to share the message of salvation with those who need to hear it- both inside and outside our communities.

 

  • Be intentional about knowing what you believe and how to articulate it.
  • If you are going through a hard situation, seek solid Christian counsel from those around you and God the Father in prayer.
  • If you are solid in your understanding and okay, seek others to minister to through sharing the Gospel or discipling a person younger in the faith. There are many out there who need help and we must step up to meet the need.

 

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Why don’t we evangelize? What is the gospel? Who should evangelize? What is evangelism? Why should we evangelize? Mark Dever’s book, The Gospel And Personal Evangelism, seeks to answer all of these basic questions about evangelism for the common Christian. In today’s Christian culture, evangelism has fallen by the wayside in terms of priority and is often seen as the one thing that the church always has on their to-do list but never gets around to actually accomplishing it. In The Gospel And Personal Evangelism, Mark Dever desires to answer some of the questions that people have about evangelism, clarify some of the terms that the church uses in evangelism, instruct his readers on how to do evangelism, and challenge all Christians to practice evangelism. Over all, this book aims to discuss the best news there has ever been given and how we should share that news with others.[1]

In order to accomplish this task, Dever’s book consists of answering the common questions by first asking them, and then answering them based on his own, personal experience. Dever also includes quotes from current and past theologians and helpful illustrations. Each chapter is titled as a common question that is asked by many within the Christian church. Then, the content of each chapter discusses the common answers with Dever’s refutations, illustrations, and comments based on the question being discussed. For example, Chapter Two is titled “What is the Gospel?”[2]. In the contents of this chapter, the author explains that there is some confusion among Christians about what constitutes the Gospel message and that a large amount of Christians do not explain clearly what the Gospel is when sharing with others. After this, Dever dives into the common answers or implied answers that non-believers receive when they are witnessed to and what implications those answer have. For this chapter, those assumptions would include; The Good News Is Not Simply That We Are Okay (the gospel is not simply a feel good message)[3], The Good News Is Not Simply That God is Love (the gospel declares that God is more than just love and has many other attributes)[4], The Good New Is Not Simply That Jesus Wants to Be Our Friend (the gospel is more than a relationship that needs to be cultivated)[5], and The Good News Is Not That We Should Live Rightly (the gospel is more than corrective action from sin)[6]. At the end of each chapter Dever concludes by answering the question proposed in the chapter’s title from his own opinion and view on theology. In Chapter Two, Dever writes the following.

 

“Here is what I understand the good news (the gospel) to be: the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law in himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.”[7]

 

Overall, the author answers his thesis in a clear and consistent manner throughout the book.  Dever tackles all of the questions which he sets out to address in each chapter. However, because the author holds a reformed view of theology, some of his answers to the basic questions may cause some readers to have further questions about his interpretation of evangelism. This specifically plays out when Dever begins to address his application and methodology of evangelism in chapters four, five, and seven. (Ch. 4 – How Should We Evangelize?, Ch. 5 – What Isn’t Evangelism?, Ch. 7 – Closing The Sale) For example, because of Dever’s belief in reform theology, he holds the view that God’s regeneration precedes a person’s profession of faith and therefore presents a weak set of instructions for giving a call for those who are being witnessed to, to accept Christ. We see this in the way that he confirms the statement that accepting the gospel is a “journey” and further explaining that Christians should “Let people find the truth themselves. These days of simple tracts and surefire, sales-presentation evangelism is over.” [8]As a result of statements like this, the reader walks away with the impression that they are to politely talk through a gospel presentation without pleading the urgency of the matter with the receiver of the message and then simply rely on God’s sovereignty to redeem those who are unregenerate.

I find this troubling because, first and foremost, it is not consistent with Scripture. Jesus did not simply have a conversation with Nicodemus[9] or the Woman at the Well[10] and send them on their way to process the message. He challenged them on what they believed and then called them to repent and be born again or to drink of the living water. Jesus presented the message and called the hearers to make a decision. It also does not portray the urgency of the gospel which we see the Apostles use when witnessing to those who formed the early church in Acts. Secondly, these statements disqualify several forms of evangelism that are very effective such as preaching and door to door evangelism. Dever attempts to justify his position in Chapter Seven by explaining that his desire is to avoid any false professions of faith because of the emotional pressure of the moment. However, I would then desire to ask him how many people has he witnessed to that would have made the decision to accept Christ but did not, because he did not ask them to.

It is imperative that we call people to make a decision to accept Christ when sharing the gospel for two reasons. First, that they may have the opportunity to profess their belief in Christ and receive the forgiveness of their sins[11]. Second, if they do or do not profess salvation they are without excuse on the Day of Judgment when asked if they have heard the gospel message[12]. Aside from Dever’s theological position and the implications it has on his evangelism tactics, it should be noted that he did an excellent job of tackling some of the culture’s questions when it comes to evangelism and I would encourage others to read this book.



[1] Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2007). Page 16-17

[2] Ibid. Page 31

[3] Ibid. Page 32-35

[4] Ibid. Page 36-37

[5] Ibid. Page 37-39

[6] Ibid. Page 40-42

[7] Ibid. Page 43, Italics added.

[8] Ibid. Page 64-65

[9] Crossway Bibles., Esv Study Bible : English Standard Version, ESV text ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Bibles, 2008).  John 3

[10] Ibid. John 4

[11] Ibid. Romans 10:9-10

[12] Ibid. John 9:39-41

I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

This week in one of the church’s Bible studies we were asked the question

“Why is hatred so serious a sin?”

And as I started to think through the answer of this I was brought to many different verses and ideas on why hate is such a serious issue in the believers life. I have outlined my findings below.

Hatred in the heart of God’s People is rebellion against God

 (Lev 19:17-18 ESV) 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

We see that as far back as the Old Testament book of Leviticus that God was concerned about hatred in the heart of His people.  In this passage God also contrasts hate with love as the mark of His people when He commands them to not harbor hate in their hearts but to Love their neighbors as themselves.

In the New Testament, Jesus confirms the love that is expected from God’s people when he explains the greatest commandment to the scribe in Mark 12: 28b-32.

(Mark 12: 28b-32 ESV) “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.

Throughout the entire Bible we are called as believers to love other people. Therefore, if we harbor hate in our hearts toward another, we are disobeying God’s direct command to love and not hate.

Hatred in the Heart is a sign of our fallen condition

(1John 3:14-15 ESV) 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

John outlines hatred in our heart as a signal of our sinful nature and that the love for others is an indication of our relationship with Christ and evidence of the eternal life we have in him. We should also notice the strict condemnation of hate which results in murder and no eternal life.

(Matt 15:18-20) 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Jesus outlines that our heart is the origin of our sin; it is what defiles us as believers. As outlined in the passage above, our hearts are the source for out hate through murder and other rebellious acts. We can see that hate comes from our heart as a result of our fallen nature separated from God.

Hatred in the Heart identifies you with the world

(Luke 6:22-23 ESV)   [22] “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

(1 John 3:13 ESV)  [13] Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

Jesus and John in these passages clearly describe the reaction of hate that the world will give to Christians based on their relationship with Christ. When it comes to the believer and the world we often see the characteristic of hate displayed in everyday life. Whether we are driving down the road, negotiating a business deal or trying to get through the grocery story, we see people act in hate toward one another intentionally and unintentionally. This is because our heart is naturally hateful and worldly.

In contrast to hate, the Scripture calls us to observe love in our lives.

(1 John 3:11 ESV)  [11] For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

(John 13:35 ESV) [35] By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(John 15:12-13 ESV) [12] “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. [13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Over and over the Scriptures call us to unity, community and love in the name of Him who gave us grace. We are called to Love and to be Loving. This is an outward indication of our internal salvation.

If you are not practicing love but practicing hate, you are aligning with the world.

So back to the Question;   Why is hatred such a serious sin?

1.       Hatred is complete rebellion against God

Knowing the command of God to love and not practicing it is rebellion.

2.       Hatred is the mark of our fallen nature

If you are a Christian and practicing hate, you are reverting back to your old nature. You have been made new in Christ. (2Cor.5:17) Walk in the newness of life and obey Him in loving your neighbor as yourself.

3.       Hatred is not aligning with God’s will for your life but identifying with the World

As Christians we will be identified with Christ inasmuch as we have love for one another. Failing to love as Christ as loved us is contradictory to the very Spirit that He has placed within us.

I was recently in a Bible study where the question below came up and I found that there is some confusion on the subject. So I decided to do a little research and found myself immersed in good stuff that I thought I would share.

“What is regeneration?”

With regeneration being a common theme in the Scripture and an essential element to the Christian faith, I thought I may be able to shed a little light on the subject for you.

The Greek word for Regeneration is paliggenesia (paliggenesia) and the meaning is to be renewed. It is important to note that it is a passive verb, meaning that we do not perform the action but the action is performed on us.

(Passive verbs describe an action that the subject of the sentence receives. For example, in the sentence “I was regenerated by God”, regenerated would be a passive verb because was done by God to me.)

Typically we see the Bible use the term in two different ways: In the life of a believer and in the Heavens and Earth.

In the life of the believer:

In the life of a believer, regeneration is played out at salvation. For example, picture Saul in Acts (chapter 7-8). We are introduced to him as he is persecuting the early Christian church and murdering Christians. Then Jesus confronts Saul on the Road to Damascus and Saul is changed (chapter 9). Saul changes his name to Paul and he starts preaching and teaching the Christian faith. Saul was regenerated to Paul. He was transformed through the Holy Spirit.

The Holman Bible Dictionary states Regeneration like this:

REGENERATION Special act of God in which the recipient is passive. God alone awakens the person spiritually through the power of His Holy Spirit. Both the OT and NT also speak of the renewing of the individual. In a technical sense the act of regeneration takes place at the moment of conversion as the individual is spiritually awakened.

So we can align regeneration with the renewing of our souls through salvation in Christ. This renewal is not something that we are able to accomplish for ourselves but something God does within us.

We see this in passages like Titus 3:5 (he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,) where Paul outlines for Titus the renewal that we receive through salvation, not because of works but through the saving power of the Holy Spirit.

In the Heavens and Earth:

The Bible also speaks of a renewal or regeneration of the Heavens and Earth at the end of times in passages like.

Matt 19:28-29 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Revelation 21:1-3 21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

So in conclusion, Regeneration is the renewal of God’s presence in our lives now through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit for the believer and the renewal of the heavens and the earth upon His return.

I hope this sheds a little light on the subject. If you have other questions, please let me know.

Anthony

 


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I just finished Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger and if you are looking for a book on the structure of how a church should be, this is a great book.

 

Often times, churches and ministers get caught up in the day to day ministries and in the many events that are commonly labeled as ministry. This often times leaves our church staff tired, worn out and frustrated while at the same time exhausting the church budget and volunteers. The go, go, go “ministry” of the church then transfers down to those who are not even a part of the church. Which gives the new comers an uneasy feeling.

 

Rainer & Geiger challenge the traditional thought of this go, go, go church model by examining the processes of growing and vital churches in different environments across the country. (Including Andy Stanely‘s church North Point Community Church.)
After examining the key features of these churches  and their focus on keeping their churches simple, Rainer and Geiger give practical advise on how to implement a similar strategy in your own church.

 

I personally found this book to be a wealth of wisdom. I knew some of it from business training courses and marketing courses, so some of it was refresher. But over all the book was a great read and I would encourage anyone in church leadership to read it. (This is not for pastoral staff only. If you are a Sunday School teacher or small group leader, this is a great book for you as well.)

 

Here is the Table of Contents so that you can get a feel for what all the book covers.
Ch1- The Simple Revolution Has Begun in America
Ch2- The Simple Church in Action
Ch3- Simple Church: An Extreme Makeover
Ch4- Three Simple Stories
Ch5- Clarity: Starting with a Ministry Blueprint
Ch6- Movement: Removing Congestion
Ch7- Alignment: Maximizing the Energy of Everyone
Ch8- Focus: Saying No to Almost Everything
Ch9- Becoming Simple
I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!If the Author or Publisher has an issue with this post, please let me know and I will remove it.

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I am often asked about the books I read in seminary and although most are fascinating, I would not recommend them to most people because they can be kind of dry. However, this is a book that I believe should be essential for every Christian to read. (Along with the Bible, of course.)

In the book, Donald Whitney explains the Spiritual Disciplines in great detail. Giving you not only the Biblical reasoning but the effects of such practices and the practical know how to perform the disciplines.
Now, you maybe asking yourself “Why would I want to read anything like that? I have been a Christian for years and I have gotten along fine without it.” Well, to be honest, I would have told you the same thing before I read the book. But after I read the book, I can faithfully tell you that I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about the disciplines and that Whitney wrote in a way that made this book engaging and fun to read. So again I would encourage you to read this book for the betterment of your Christian walk.
Here is the Table of Contents so that you can get a feel for what all the book covers.
Ch 1- The Spiritual Disciplines…For the Purpose of Godliness
Ch 2- Bible Intake (Part 1)
Ch 3- Bible Intake (Part 2)
Ch 4- Prayer
Ch 5- Worship
Ch 6- Evangelism
Ch 7- Serving
Ch 8- Stewardship
Ch 9- Fasting
Ch 10- Silence and Solitude
Ch 11- Journaling
Ch 12- Learning
Ch 13- Perseverance in the Disciplines
I am in no way affiliated with the publisher or writer of this book. But I endorse this because it impacted my life and I would like that same blessing for you. Click Here for Other Recommended Reading!
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[5:1] Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. [2] And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” [3] And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, [4] and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. [5] And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
[6] And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. [7] And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. [8] And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. [9] And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
[10] and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
[11] Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, [12] saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
[13] And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
[14] And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. 

(Revelation 5 ESV)

In the first part of this section of scripture (Revelation 5:1-5 – The Scroll)  We learned of what the scroll is and we left with the question, Who can open the seal?
 The Scripture proclaims that no one is able to open the scroll who has been created. No angel, No human, Not even Satan or his demons. (“No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth.”)

 

Introduction of the one who is worthy

In the second section of chapter 5, we are then we are introduced to the one who is able to take the scroll. As we look at this, we should first notice the introduction of who is able to open the scroll listed in verse 5. He is named as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:9; Heb. 7:14)  and the root of Jesse who conquered (Isaiah 1:1,10). The names given to the one who is worthy is very important to the interpretation of the passage.  Because these Old and New Testament passages are describing the one who is worthy to bring in the new covenant of salvation found in the Gospels and both passages also describe one who will overcome or an agent that will be superior and we know this person to be Jesus.

 

So what do we know about Him?

Verse 6 then describes that same conquering agent as a lamb that was slain. Immediately when we  compare the descriptions given in verse 5, the lion of Judah and the root of Jesse, in contrast to the description given in verse 6, the lamb that was slain (Isaiah 53:7-8), we can see that both descriptions of the worthy one are prophetic in nature. But in this case the lamb is portrayed as slain which does not indicate a figure that conquers but one that has been conquered.
We should also notice that this is no ordinary lamb. He comes with seven eyes, seven horns and seven spirits sent into the earth. These additional attributes are  illustrations of His perfect authority (seven horns), His perfect sight (seven eyes) and His perfect spirit (seven spirits). (Zech. 3:9; 4:10)

 

So what is His purpose?

The Lamb is then given the scroll of God’s will and knowledge in verse 7. So the Lamb that was slain is here to do God’s will and have his knowledge. We know from the passages above that the Lamb is Christ. (Passover Lamb, Isaiah 53:4-12) We also know from the Gospels that Jesus’ desire was to do the will of Him who sent him (Isaiah 53:10-12, John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 14:31) and that if we know Him we also know the Father who sent Him (John 8:19; 14:7).

 

So what does this mean for us today?

  • Verse 5 – Jesus came to conquer sin and death as the remnant, the Lion from the tribe of Judah and the root of Jesse. His plan has been foretold through prophets for hundreds of years. This was not a fly by night scheme but preordained by God from the beginning of time.
  • Verse 6 – Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb as illustrated through the Passover in Exodus, prophesied about in Isaiah 49-56 as the suffering servant, demonstrated in the Gospels and explained in the Epistles (Hebrews 2:9,  2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is the Lamb that gave His life that you may have life. He died for your and my sins on the cross. He is the perfect sacrifice.
  • Verse 6 – The Lamb controls all, sees all and His spirit is all. Just because He was slain does not mean that He is inferior. It was the will of the Father for the Lamb to be slaughtered to redeem us from sin. He did this by choice. (Isaiah 53:6, 10-12; John 3:16)
  • Verse 7 – Jesus’ will and desire is to do the will of God the Father.

As these things of God are revealed to me through this book of Revelation, I cant help but identify with the sentiment of worship to God as the elders and hosts of heaven did in verses 8-14 as they recounted all the things He has done and who He is.

Merry Christmas Eve Everyone!

As we reflect on this Christmas spent with Family & Friends, let us remember the reason for this season and be encouraged by what our savior has done for us.

[2:1] Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, [2] saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” [3] When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; [4] and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. [5] They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
[6] “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
[7] Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. [8] And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” [9] After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. [10] When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. [11] And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. [12] And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
[13] Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” [14] And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt [15] and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet,“Out of Egypt I called my son.”
[16] Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. [17] Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
[18] “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
[19] But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, [20] saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” [21] And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. [22] But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. [23] And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. (Matthew 2 ESV)