Praying Against Pride

I confess that my pride and self-centeredness are always lurking beneath each breath, glance, and turn of life. They are the ever-present combatants skulking in the shadows just out of sight until the attack. They seek to draw me into their dungeon of pride through both criticism and praise, poverty and prosperity, and love and hate. Thank you for humbling me and giving me a hunger for walking in humility before you, although, my failings and weaknesses, at times, envelop me as though I am but a small stem in the eye of a tsunamic torrent.

Thank You for your promise, “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9). For because of you, this is my desire. “Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25:12).

Oh my precious LORD, “forgive all of my sins” (Psalm 25:18), and they are many, more sins than any one in the world it seems to me.

Help me to balance praise for how dramatically You have changed who I am and how I love while never ignoring or making light of the sinfulness I see in my heart, which immeasurably disheartens me because You are always good and deserving of infinitely more. May I prize humility in every thought and action so that honor comes to You first and then to those whom you bring to me. “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

Thank you that you have brought me to a place in which I can clearly see how dastardly despicable and de-humanizing pride is; this vividness affords a constant reminder that fighting the domination of pride is a noble endeavor. Yet, I know this has nothing to do with my own acumen or abilities (Romans 12:16–20).

May my pride lie in defeat today more than yesterday, having been slain by the sword of the Spirit, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6).

 “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2b).

Beware of a Remote Love for Christ

A lack of, or a diminishing,  passion for God’s Word is symptomatic of a remote love for God. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Yet, some Christians seem content to not only fail to keep Christ’s commandments but even to spend little time to know them.

If every architect knew as much about buildings as some Christians know about Christianity, no building could withstand a spring shower. If every lawman knew as much about law as some Christians know about Christianity, even the anarchist would long for a badge. If every sea captain knew as much about sailing the high seas as some Christians know about Christianity, every ship would be a floating mass grave. If every composer knew as much about music as some Christians know about Christianity, music would be so cacophonic it would be deemed cruel and unusual punishment. If every medical practitioner knew as much about medicine as some Christians know about Christianity, every disease would be treated with a prescription from a Mr. Potato Head game. If every educator knew as much about their subject as some Christians know about Christianity, kindergarten would be the terminal degree, and goo goo gaga would be our lingua franca.

May we say with the psalmist, “May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord, Your salvation according to Your word; So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word. And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I wait for Your ordinances. So I will keep Your law continually, Forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings And shall not be ashamed. I shall delight in Your commandments, Which I love. And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes” (Psalm 119:41–48).

A Pastor’s Prayer

Lord, I ask that I may shepherd Your flock with the same devotion that You shepherd me. May I not seek recognition, prosperity, status, or anything that detracts from being the shepherd of Your people.

May I be found faithful to feed, protect, lead, and care for them according to Your Word and not trends, visions, fears, and the ideas of man. May I not be tempted by the flesh to do those things that are pleasing to me, but only that which is pleasing to You. May I live daily knowing that the church does not exist for me but I vocationally exist for her.

May I pastor in the fullness of Your Word. If not for you oh God, I would not be able to contribute one thing to Your people, but by Your grace I will give what You give me.

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep” (John 21:15–17).

A Simple Prayer to be a Faithful Follower of Christ

Lord, let me never see myself as anything more than a follower of You, and never let me lean on the flesh, what others might or can do. May I never seek to be anything more than a follower. Please allow me to quickly see when I am seeking to lead myself, and as quickly step in line behind You. I pray for a decreasing fear of what may come in following You by a greater understanding of Your majesty, wonder, and incomprehensible nature and work.

I know that being a follower of You is the greatest blessing, calling, and endeavor that a human can be allowed the privilege of receiving, and I am grateful every day for that blessing of blessings.

May all of my errors, failings, mistakes, misjudgments be not from willful rebellion against You, out of a desire to promote me, but rather may they only flow out of a sincere misunderstanding of You. May they be failings of a pure heart on a quest for You.

Jesus’s call is simply “follow me” (Matt 4:19; 8:22; 9:9).

The Ghastly Gospel of Limited Atonement

To be a consistent five-point Calvinist, a person must believe the Bible teaches that the benefit of Christ’s death is limited to actually having paid for the sins of only the unconditionally elect.[1] This means that the non-elect are condemned for rejecting what does not exist. To begin with, it is important to distinguish between the intent of the atonement (why), extent (for whom) and application (when) while maintaining the relationship of these distinct features of the atonement.[2] Continue reading →

Think About IT: God’s Will Is Not Always So Easy

Whether one has chosen the Lord’s will is not determined by whether things get better.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus surrendered to the cross that lay before Him, bearing our judgment, and that was of course the eternal plan of salvation; therefore, He made the right choice. He was in the perfect will of the Father.

However, immediately after the decision to follow the Father’s plan no matter the loss, things went from bad to worse, and then worse even still. He was betrayed by a friend, tried by hypocrites, innocent but declared guilty, denied by a disciple, rejected for a criminal, mocked, flogged, crucified, and ultimately enveloped in the wrath of God and abandoned by the Father unto death.

The Lord’s will is known by the Scripture rather than by what happens after our choice.

“And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will’” Mark 14:36.

The Friendship of Church Discipline and the Gospel

On one occasion, the chief priests and elders approached Jesus while he was teaching and asked him, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matt 21:23). While it is obvious that the priests and elders were disputing rather than making careful inquiry, the question they asked is good and deserves being asked and answered. Many indeed ask by what authority does the church practice church discipline? In answering this question, I will seek to briefly demonstrate that we not only practice church discipline because of explicit commands to do so (Matt 18:15–20; Rom 16:17–18; 1 Cor 5:1–13; 1 Tim 1:19–20; 2 Thess 3:6–15), but also because church discipline is inextricably related to the gospel, evangelism, and the Great Commission. Continue reading →

Think about IT: Loving Those People

Showing the gentle kindness and concern of Christ toward those who love us is good, but such disposition toward our enemies is indeed supernatural.

If we are truly showing Christ’s love, it can never be limited to those who love us or those whom we believe will reciprocate.

Christ commanded us, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love and praying requires us to die to self for the flesh wars against such acts (Gal 5:19-21). When we pray for our enemies, it permits us to experience some of what our Lord felt when his enemies crucified him, and his response was to pray, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34).

There is simply a dimension of knowing Christ that is unknowable without loving those who seek to harm us. Resentment, bitterness, revenge emanate from our flesh, but loving the ones who may be deserving of our wrath emanates from Christ living through us.

God’s great love in salvation is for those who will accept it and become his children as well as those who will reject his incalculable sacrifice and immeasurable love. It extends even to those who seek to undermine the gospel. may we experience his fullness by walking among enemies of the gospel as he himself did.   

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16.

Think About IT: Receiving Compliments that Honor Christ

Compliments are more pleasing to the ear and honoring to Christ when they come not from the complimented.

Matthew was a tax collector prior to following Christ, an occupation which was one of the most loathed by the Jews. They saw them as traitors.

If God had not used Matthew to pen the gospel that bears his name, he would have remained basically a faceless apostle. When the other gospels mention him, he is simply referred to as Matthew.

When Matthew refers to himself in the gospel he penned, he refers to himself as “Matthew the tax collector.”

Matthew’s designation of himself reminds us that it is for others to cast us in the best light, and it is for we who have been redeemed to remember who we are without Christ.

“Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus” Matthew 10:3.

Bibliography for Studying Scripture

­­SELECTED STUDY BIBLIOGRAPHY  5/31/16 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1984

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1985

 Unger’s New Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, 2006

Logos Library System, several upgradeable levels are available. Find out more at www.logos.com

An Exhaustive Analytical Concordance (Strong’s or NAS)

Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House, 1984

Evangelical Ethics, John Jefferson Davis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2003 or Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, Norman L. Geisler, Jan 1, 2010

Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias, Bethany House Publishers; Rev Updated edition (October 1, 2003) or latest update

Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry Clarence Thiessen, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983, or Eerdmans Revised edition November 9, 2006

Nave’s Topical Bible, Orville J. Nave, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002

Pronouncing Bible Names, W. Murray Severance, Holman Bible Publishers, 1983

Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982

Dispensationalism, Charles C. Ryrie, 2007

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W. E. Vine and F.F. Bruce, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1996