Thomas Watson On Wasting Time…

For those of us in ministry this is a powerful reminder of how we must be careful in managing our days and hours:

A man has no time for which he is not accountable to God. If his very diversions are not governed by reason and religion he will one day suffer for the time he has spent in them. Thomas Watson

Our Calling… part 2

So, lets read some bible verses:

1 Corinthians 1:2 says: 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.

What is the calling here?

To be holy.

1 Cor 1:9 says 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is the calling here?

To have fellowship with Jesus.

Galatians 5:13 says 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature [a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love

What is the calling here?

To be free from the world and sin.

1 Timothy 6:12 says: 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

What is the calling here?

To eternal life!

So, your calling and my calling, your purpose and my purpose is this:

To be a holy person, living righteous lives, in fellowship with Jesus, using our freedom in Jesus to not indulge in our sinful natures, to be free from the world and to take hold of eternal life which we are called to right here, right now, living for Christ, in Christ and with Christ.

That is our calling.

When we are doing that – then God will use us, guide us, and place us in the situations where we will effect others, help others and minister to others.

So, on one level, it really does not matter what you do – a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a pastor, a construction worker – the point is to do it WITH ALL YOUR PASSION FOR CHRIST.

In fact, much of the time, I don’t think God minds which one of these things you do – should I be a pastor, or a construction worker – does not matter – which ever you do, do it for God and he will anoint you, bless you and fulfill you. There are pastors who are not being blessed because they are not doing what they are doing for Christ.

So, firstly, our purpose and our calling is the same – it is to Christ – and out of that everything else comes.

What is the “everything else comes”?

Ephesians 2:8-10 says: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When we are in Christ, following our purpose we become a ‘vassal’ for the works that God has for us.

This is not necessarily about trying to figure out what God has planned for you – we have seen that our purpose is to be IN Christ – but then, when we are IN Christ, we become apart of the redemption story – part of the salvation history – partnering with God in declaring and working in HIS sovereign plans for humanity.

And that can look very different for each of us, what we do, where we go and how we live.

Our Calling…part 1

I find the story of Winston Churchill fascinating. In almost everything Churchill did, he was a failure – He was undistinguished at school – he failed twice to get into the officers training school for the military – Sandhurst – his father said of Churchill that he lacked cleverness, knowledge and any capacity for settled work. He has a great talent for show-off, exaggeration and make believe.

Churchill became a member of Parliament, but then switched parties and became head of the British Navy only to send it to a catastrophic defeat in the 1st World War, causing him to resign.  After being re-elected to Parliament he became Chancellor of the Exchequer and returned Britain to the Gold Standard, which proved financially disastrous and contributed to his resignation from that post.

Yet, as the Prime Minister of Britain during the 2nd World War he shined. In fact he himself said that that was what he was born for – to lead Britain through the war.

After the war he returned as Prime Minister in 1951 only to resign in 1955 because of ill health.

Was Churchill’s purpose in life to be Prime Minister of Great Britain during the 2nd World War?

This morning our aim is to understand that God has a purpose for our lives and that he is working in the events of our lives, including our failures, to prepare us for that destiny.

Before we go any further, we need to establish three old truths:

Who Am I

Who Do I Belong To

Where Am I Going

Who Am I

We cannot know God’s purpose, guidance or calling in our lives if we are not first assured of our place in Christ. And that assurance of our place in Christ begins with the acknowledgment that today, right know, you are a child of God because you have asked God to come into your life.

Who Do I Belong To

This means, then you BELONG to God.  Romans 1:5-6:

5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to faith and obedience for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

You are his! And your future is in Him, with Him and through Him.

Where Am I Going

This leads to the fact that our destination is eternity with Jesus.

The most common question and dilemma for many Christians is “What is God calling me to do?” or “Where is God calling me to go?” or even “Is God Calling me?”

What is our purpose and destiny while we live here on earth as followers of Jesus?

My suggestion is that we must start by understanding that our purpose, yours, and mine are the same purpose as every believer. And once we understand this we can then begin to see the unique things God has for us as individuals.

Daniel Chapter 4 – Part 2

Neb has seen the power of God. He has experienced God’s help in interpreting dreams but he has not yet acknowledged that this God should be his God.

And God is about to bring him to the place of knowing that.

And Daniel knows that the easier why for Neb would be to repent right now – give his life to God. Daniel almost pleads with him to change – v27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

God never judges for the sake of judging – he judges to turn people to him. He judged Israel so that they might turn back to him and he judges Neb in the same way.

The purpose of God’s dealings with Neb was to convince the King that there is NO OTHER WAY TO LIVE LIFE.

The choice before Neb was this – repent, give ALL your life to God, live life for God now, or Get floored by God and then give your life to God.

And God floored this great King by removing everything from him – his power, status, position. To some extent what had happened to Israel and to Daniel happened to Nebuchadezzar – he was stripped of everything!!

THIS IS SO AMAZING BECAUSE IT SHOWS THAT GOD IS JUST AND RIGHTEOUS. HE JUDGES ALL WHO IGNORE HIM, BE IT THE ISRAELITES OR THE KING OF BABYLON, THE CHRISTIAN OR THE ATHIEST.

My question to you this evening is this – Does God need to floor you?

That is a frightening thought. But if we persistently refuse to do what God asks of us and yet we call ourselves believers God will at some point floor us. For Neb it was a full year after Daniel had made his interpretation and challenge.

Neb had reverted back to thinking it was all about him – walking in his garden admiring all that he had made –  and God steps in.

God will step in into our lives and floor us if we continue to ignore him.

But the point that God brings Neb too is two fold:

1.   Neb realizes exactly who God is and it changes him. This chapter is remarkable coming from the King of Babylon – he says in v34 that he looked to the Most High and he honored and glorified ‘him who lives forever.’ It worked – Neb changed – he recognized God for who he was.

He then goes on to say his dominion is an eternal dominion one and that no one can hold back his hand.

2.   That he is not to be the same person – he is to have a different view of authority and power because he knows it comes from God.

Biblical faith is not about letting go of authority or power but about its right use, especially on behalf of the powerless.

Is your life one of serving God and being a servant? Are you one who champions those who are weaker, especially at school – who stand up for truth, who fights injustice. Do you use your position to protect those who are bullied, or those who are ridiculed, or those who are shunned, or those who are friendless.

But, you might say to me, you don’t understand what would happen to me if I do that – people will think I am a dork, or a loser.

SO WHAT. This is not about you – its about God and if you refuse it God will floor you – eventually!

A powerless Daniel, a captive and exile, who has lost everything and whose God is in apparent disgrace stands before the most powerful person on the earth and tells him he is wrong and he needs to repent and that God will cut him down if he does not.

Daniel put his life on the line to do what he must do for God.

No less is the call God has asked of YOU!!

Daniel Chapter 4 – Part 1

How do you view the world? How do you view yourself? Are you pleased with what you have accomplished in school, sports, music?

Are you popular? Are you liked? Are you unpopular or disliked?

How much of who you are and what you are and where you hope you are going do you think is down to you?

Most of us, if we were truly honest, have had that moment when we have said to ourselves – I am GOOD; I Did it; I am Talented; I am Cool; I am the Man!

What is presented to you by our society is that you can be what you want to be. You can achieve what you want to achieve. You can fly as high as you want.

Is that not the American dream? You have within you all that is needed to make you successful – you just need to try harder!

Also, power, authority and status (and money) are the places to crave – to aspire to. If you have power, authority and status (and money) you are strong – anything else is seen as weakness.

The point of Daniel 4 is that no matter how far you fly, how powerful you become, how good you are, how popular you become God is the ultimate source and determiner of your future and your place.

What you achieve, you do so ONLY because God has given it to you. When we stop realizing this then we are in danger.

This is why, in all we do we must do it FOR GOD and for NOBODY ELSE.

Nebuchanezzar was the ruler of the known world.

He was as powerful as you get – as important as you get. For him he had accomplished a lot. He was the ruler – he was the victor – he was the dude – everyone wanted to hang with him, to please him, to get his attention. He was the center of everything.

He was about to go through a tough lesson.

And it’s a lesson we need to learn, not just for now, but for the rest of our lives – God is Sovereign.

Sovereign means: supreme; preeminent; indisputable: a sovereign right /greatest in degree; utmost or extreme /being above all others in character, importance, excellence.

Which means that there really is only one person you need to worry about, God. But for most of us we only think about God a few times a week, at church or youth group or bible study.

But God is involved in every aspect of our existence.

One of the most famous passages of scripture can easily slip by us in its meaning – Matthew 28 says ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME.

All authority is God’s and he has given that authority to the incarnate Christ.

This was the lesson Neb was going to learn.

Chp 4 is Neb’s testimony of how he came to change his worldview – how he realized that there was something more about life.

Do you have a testimony of what God has done in your life? Can you write down your testimony of how God has changed you – from the then to the now? A testimony is not just about WHEN you were converted to Christianity because for many the process was a journey which happened over time.

We should have many testimonies – some big, most small, about how God has been involved with our lives, how we have seen him move and act and help us and bless us and encourage us.

That is why I think it is so important to write down the experiences we have – whenever we say “Wow, God showed up” write it down – no matter how small the situation – so that you can look back and see how God has moved in your life.

Neb has a dream and Daniel is called to interpret it. And Daniel knows the gravity of this dream. God is going to do something to Neb which is frightening.

But the purpose of this, Daniel says, is so that Neb will know that GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE NATIONS.

Thanksgiving Service

I had the privilege of taking our Thanksgiving Service at our sister chapel, Prince Frederick, in Plantersville. The chapel seats about 100 and we had 120. It was a fun time. We used the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. If the recording of the sermon worked I’ll post it here next week sometime.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Doctrine of Assurance – Part 4

Dr R.T. Kendall rejects the Reformed teaching concerning temporary faith; those who fall away were never saved in the first place. Kendall holds that a man can be truly saved and yet backslide into apostasy. By taking passages such as 2 Peter 2:21, Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 6:6 &10:26 to refer not to salvation but to rewards in heaven, Kendall claims that the scriptures clearly teach once saved always saved.

Such an interpretation has been widely rejected. We shall look at those who claim that Kendall’s thesis is wrong. Perhaps the most direct attack comes from Paul Helm’s book Calvin and The Calvinists in which he argues that Kendall has misread the puritans completely. The foundation of assurance was indeed faith in Christ and his promises and that saving faith did by saving faith, by its very definition, contains assurance. Helm argues that to say that the puritans separated faith and assurance in not correct. Helm also rejects Kendall’s view that Puritan assurance was a departure from Calvin’s teaching. Helm argues that Perkins and co merely filled in the gaps in Calvin’s thought and developed his (Calvin’s) understanding. We shall examine Don Carson’s important article on assurance, where he examines the biblical and theological importance of this doctrine.

We will analyze the differences between these two positions. We will examine both their weakness and strengths, to see if a conclusion can be reached. Also and more importantly, we shall briefly examine the effects that the doctrine of assurance has had on the church and the effect it should have.