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I am sure that we have all heard these verses (even if you aren’t a follower of Jesus) at some point in our lives. Psalm 23 says,

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord forever.

Today’s Worship Wednesday song is “You Are My Shepherd” by Tricia Brock. It is a beautiful reminder of the words from Psalm 100:3,

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

I hope you enjoy “You Are My Shepherd”!

 

Points To Ponder

God Is Working in Your Waiting

by: Desiring God

Most parents would agree that their children don’t want to wait for anything. The last thing kids want to hear is Mom say, “Not now.” It can prompt anger, frustration, even hopelessness. This “dis-ease” of waiting follows most of us into our adult years. We may not respond with the same emotional outbursts as children, but most of us still hate waiting for what we want.

And our modern society just makes it worse. We want everything done quickly — and new devices constantly spring up to meet those demands and encourage our impatience. We are not used to waiting, and the more our technology caters to our immediate desires, the less we feel willing to wait.

Read Full Article…


Five Ways To Start A Conversation With A Women Considering An Abortion

by: Radical

We know that abortion is wrong. We know we must defend the unborn. But when we’re face-to-face with a woman who is considering an abortion, we don’t always know what to say. Here are five ways to start a conversation with her:

Read full Article…


The Importance of Worshipping When You Don’t Feel Like It

by: Lauren Bruce (Brentwood-Benson)

“I hate this song, so I’m just not going to sing.”

“I can’t lead others in worship when I’m not worshipping.”

I have said both of these things on more than one occasion. And you know what? God still lets me worship Him. I’m still allowed in the throne room. Believe me, if there was a tolerance for how many times you can say or think something stupid, I would’ve been thrown out years ago.

I tend to let my emotions get the best of me, especially in the heat of the moment. If something happens to make me angry or upset two minutes before church starts, I might as well sit in the lobby.

Read Full Article…


Why Christians Should Fight for the Religious Liberties of False Religions

by: Russell Moore & The Gospel Coalition


Disclaimer: These are articles or blog post that I have found interesting over the past few weeks. This does not mean that I agree with each and every point.

ephesians-identity

Ephesians 2: A New Life In Christ

To understand our new identity, we’ve got to uncover our old identity. We’ve got to dig deeper into who we were, beyond our ancestry and family of origin, to see the ugly truth. Paul is going to show us an unfiltered picture of who we really are.

– Tony Merida

Before we can understand just how much God has done for us, we must understand where we have come from or better yet, where we were without Christ.

Chapter 2 of the book of Ephesians begins with four very strong words … “And you were dead…”. Every human being that is a son or daughter of Adam (which is pretty much everyone!) entered the world spiritually dead. We have no inclination toward God and no ability to please Him (Romans 8:8). As Merida puts it, “Apart from Christ, we are spiritually dead”.

ephesians-2

We all know the first line of Amazing Grace:  “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”. That is who we are – dead wretches!

Just as verse 1 starts with four strong words, verse 4 starts with two of the sweetest words found in the bible – BUT GOD!

Just when things look the most desolate, Paul utters the greatest short phrase in the history of human speech: “But God!” – ESV Study Notes

Ephesians 2:4-5: But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.

It is said that grace is “God’s unmerited favor to us”! Praise the Lord for His grace! This “grace” has been given to each of us who have transgressed His law and have sinned against Him. Again, this is everyone!

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Tony Merida goes on in his teaching of Ephesians to say:

Works matter to the Christian, but we’re not working for salvation; we’re working from salvation. The words for and from are subtle but incredibly important.

It is vital to understand that what God has to offer us is a gift and not a prize! A gift is something that we are given – no strings attached; no “if you do this, then I’ll do that”. Whereas a prize is something that can be obtained or worked for. A prize is given to those people who have accomplished a set of guidelines or list of things to do. If we could do something to work for our salvation then the gospel would be in vain.

christianity-is-not-a-do-gospel-it-is-a-done-gospelMerida points out that the difference in Christianity and a lot of other so-called religions is that their’s is a “do” religion whereas Christianity is a “done” religion. Jesus has done everything for us and it is only through Him. He went to the cross. He shed His blood for me. He died for the sin of mankind. When Jesus uttered the words “It Is Finished” on the cross of Calvary, there was nothing else that needed to be done.

Remember in Ephesians: Your Identity In Christ – Part 1 where we talked about the phrase “In Him”. This is the only place that salvation can be found. Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”. John tells us in John 14: 6 that Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Because Jesus has become our substitute, we now have life in Him. Ephesians should compel us to hope and to understand that no one is beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace. – Tony Merida

Let me leave you with these thoughts on our new identity in Christ. Tony refers to these as the “formerly … but now” expressions:

  • We were dead in sin, but now we “are alive together with Christ” (2:4)
  • We were separated from Christ, but now in Christ Jesus, we ” have been brought near by the blood” (2:13)
  • We were foreigners, “but now we are fellow citizens” (2:19)

Who are you in Christ? You are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works!

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, my God my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love – Amazing Grace!

Quotes from my readings banner

david-plattJust recently, my church went through David Platt’s Bible study entitled “Counter Culture”. It is an excellent study that shows how Christians should be countering our culture when faced with things like poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, immigration, abortion, pornography, and orphans.

A description of the book is as follows:

Everywhere we turn, battle lines are being drawn – traditional marriage vs. gay marriage, pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal freedom vs. governmental protection. Seemingly overnight, culture has shifted to the point where right and wrong are no longer measured by universal truth but by popular opinion. And as difficult conversations about homosexuality, abortion and religious freedom continue to inject themselves into our workplace, our churches,, our schools and our homes, Christians everywhere are asking the same question: How are we suppose to respond to all this?

David Platt (current president of the International Mission Board & former pastor at The Church at Brook Hills) tackles these subjects head-on and takes us to God’s Word for the answers. Each subject is looked at through the lens of what God says in His Word vs. what the world is saying.

Each chapter is excellent and brings out some great points but I want to focus on several quotes from the last chapter entitled “The Most Urgent Need: The Gospel & The Unreached”.

David opens the book with asking three questions that each of us must answer for ourselves.

  1. Are we going to choose comfort for the cross?
  2. Are we going to settle for maintenance or sacrifice for mission?
  3. Will our lives be marked by indecisive minds or undivided hearts?

Platt is urging the church and Christians to answer these questions. He makes the following statement:

Are we going to follow Jesus? Not, are we going to bow our heads, say a prayer, read the Bible, go to church, and give a tithe while we get on with the rest of our lives? But, are we going to follow Jesus with all our lives, no matter where He leads us to go, how countercultural the task is, or what the cost may be for us, our families, and our churches?

He goes on to talk about choosing comfort over the cross:

When we observe our churches today, do they look like groups of people who gather with one another as they give their lives to spread the gospel among unreached people, impoverished communities, abandoned orphans, lonely widows, dying babies, sex slaves, and suffering brother and sisters around the world? Sadly, I don’t believe that’s the picture we portray. Instead, we spend the majority of our time sitting as spectators in services that cater to our comforts. Even in our giving to the church, we spend the majority of our money on places for us to meet, professionals to do the ministry, and programs designed around us and our kids.

I can’t help but wonder what might happen if we put aside our personal preferences, let go or our extra biblical (and in some cases unbiblical) traditions, lay down our cultural comforts, and organize ourselves solely and sacrificially around God’s Word and gospel mission.

David Platt then talks about are we settling for maintenance or are we willing to sacrifice for the mission:

Over the course of the book, we have considered massive physical needs in the world. Yet as we contemplate these needs, if we are not careful, we run the risk of ignoring people’s most pressing need. That need is not for water, food, family, freedom, safety, or equality. As urgent as all of these things are for men, women, and children around the world, they are surpassed in urgency by a much greater need. That need – the most urgent need – is for the gospel.

The central message of the church in the world, then, is proclaiming the gospel to the world.

Jesus Christ gave us marching orders, and they are clear. Proclaim the gospel – the good news of God’s great love for us in Christ – to every people group on the planet.

Platt concludes the chapter by explaining that too many people are marked by indecisive minds. He pleads with each of us to have undivided hearts toward the work of spending the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Following Jesus doesn’t just entail sacrificial abandonment of our lives: it requires supreme affection from our hearts.

What must be consistent for all of us, however, is that we pray, give and go as He leads, and as we do, that we proclaim the gospel with conviction, compassion, and courage.

My favorite quote from this chapter and one that I hope and pray that I live out is the following:

For if the gospel is true, and if our God is worthy of the praise of all people, then we must spend our lives and mobilize our churches for the spread of Christ’s love to unreached people groups all around the world. Jesus has not given us a commission to consider; He has given us a command to obey.