Posts Tagged faith

What is the extent of God’s control?

Yesterday we began our Living in 4G series and we took a look at the reality that God is Great. We saw that because God is great, we don’t have to be in control. God is sovereign and ruling over the universe that he created — so we can trust him. It raises the question, “What is the extent of God’s control over the world?”

Charles Spurgeon answered the question this way:

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—
that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—
that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.
The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—
the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

HT: Justin Taylor

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What do you really want from God?

Last night our community group was studying prayer and praying. A question occurred to me during our discussion:

If you were God (with all the character of the God of the Bible), what would you want your children to ask from you?

It struck me that God probably doesn’t get too excited about all our prayers/vain repetitions for him to “bless this day” or “bless this food to our bodies” (see Tim Hawkins joke about this), but probably gets very excited about us asking him to reveal his glory to our hearts in a way that causes us to treasure Jesus and keep in step with the Spirit.

This idea was confirmed by our reading from Redeemer’s “Studies in Prayer”:

‘Had God nothing better to bestow upon you, when he had made you his children, than a little money or land, that you seem so much to behave yourselves as if you thought this was your chief good?… I am bold to say that God is now offering the blessing of his Holy Spirit to this town, and I am bold to say we may have it only for the asking. But if we ask in such a manner that, at the same moment we ask, we show that we have no sense of the value of what we ask — if we ask in such a manner as implicitly to ask and deny at the same time — then we have no reason to think that we have truly asked.’ (Jonathan Edwards)

It is a powerful argument. The fact that we pray so much more instinctively, consistently, and fervently for money, health, reputation, approval, and social status than we do for the glory of God and the work of his Spirit shows what our hearts are really after and really trusting in. And, as Edwards argues, formal, infrequent, dispassionate prayers for the Spirit are not genuine requests at all. To ask in a way that shows we have no idea what we are asking for is the same (if not worse) than to not ask at all.

What will you ask God for today? Will you be content with just praying for him to bless your health and your food and your finances or will you ask him for more of himself? Will you ask him to bless you with his Holy Spirit in a fresh way?

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Are You Feeding Your Faith?

Check out this brief, brilliant article by John Piper, “Please Feed Me More!”

His opening paragraph:

Faith feeds on the word of God. Without a steady diet it gets weaker and weaker. If you are dissatisfied with your Christian courage and joy and purity of heart, check the way you are feeding your faith.

May you feed your soul as much as you’ll feed your body this Thanksgiving!

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My Prayers for Second Mile

This Sunday I’ll be concluding our Core Values series with a state-of-the-church type message, exploring where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s reminded me of the post I wrote almost 11 months ago that listed out my prayers for our new church. I’m so thankful to Jesus for how he’s answered some of these already and how he will continue to do so in the future.

Will you join me in praying for these things?

I pray…

  • That Second Mile would be a faithful group of people who love Jesus Christ more than anything.
  • That Second Mile would be a catalyst for dozens of other new churches that would saturate the Williams Gateway/Queen Creek communities.
  • That thousands of people would come to personally know Jesus through our ministry.
  • That Second Mile would experience miracles and answers to prayer that can only be explained by the power of God.
  • That Second Mile would cling to the gospel of grace not just for salvation but for daily renewal.
  • That Second Mile would be an agent of restoration, particularly in broken marriages and families.
  • That Second Mile’s leadership would make right decisions even when they are costly or unpopular.
  • That Second Mile would be such a valuable part of the community that people who disagree with us would still be thankful that we’re here.
  • That Second Mile would be the most generous, most sacrificial, most joyful, and most service-oriented people in the community.
  • That Second Mile’s treasure would always be Jesus himself and that we wouldn’t settle for just doing church.

These are big prayers that are worth devoting my life to. Fortunately, we serve a big God who alone can answer each of them above and beyond what we ask or think.

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Four Truths During Economic Crisis

I came across these four truths from Nelson Searcy, a pastor in New York City that does a podcast that I listen to. These are basic ideas, but very important.

1. God is in charge.
God is still on the throne and He is not shaken by the economic uncertainties of life (or any other uncertainties for that matter). He still offers hope to those who trust in him.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” – Hebrews 12:28

2. God will give you peace if you call on him.
Turn off the anxiety-producing news reports and open the Good News of God’s Word. Spend some time reading your Bible and praying each day. And remember this promise:

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

3. God will give you all you need if you put him first.
While it’s tempting to ‘take control’ of our finances when the future is uncertain, let me challenge you to do the opposite. Give control of your finances to God and put him first. If you do, he will give you all you need.

“God will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” – Matthew 6:33

4. God might use you more in a time of crisis than in calm.
While none of us would have wished for this time of difficulty, there is an opportunity for us, as God’s people, to model to the world that our faith is not just a ‘sunny day faith.’ Throughout the ages, it has been during times of crisis that Christianity and God’s people have had the most impact. Let me challenge you to model with your life and lips the 3 truths above and put feet to your faith by:

  • being a person of generosity while everyone else is hoarding (John 3:16);
  • being consistent in faith while others are fearing (2 Timothy 1:7);
  • showing great love and concern for your friends and inviting them with you to The Journey so they too can find hope (1 Peter 2:12).

I think these are great thoughts and worth listening to. May this be a time when God’s people stand out as people of faith whose security is in him.

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We Want God to Attend Second Mile

I read a great blog post by James MacDonald regarding the book he’s writing (tentatively called “When God Goes to Church”). His thesis is that God doesn’t attend many American churches because “His Word is apologized for, His Son is polished and marketed, and His power is not sought in prayer or even anticipated.” I’ve thought about this and realize how devastating it would be if we had church that God wouldn’t want to be part of because we felt like we could do it on our own. May it never be!

MacDonald continues:

I heard a pastor say recently that the past 20 years have been about “church done with excellence in the flesh is better than church done poorly in the flesh.” How insightful! How about church done according to God’s Word and in the power of the Spirit? How about church on fire, led by men on fire, burning a swath of God’s power across our land like a tornado across a Kansas wheat field? Where is the mighty prevailing church (Matthew 16:18) moving with God’s power, seeing lives transformed frequently and totally? Where is the church that sees miraculous answers to prayer and marvelous interventions of grace? I want to spend the rest of my days working to see the true church, the grace and truth church, (John 1:14) the spirit and power church, the overcoming, Christ-adoring, prayerfully dependant, Word-proclaiming church return to prominence. I believe it is only then that God will begin regularly attending the churches of our land. If that were to happen it would make ALL the difference, would it not?

Pray that Second Mile would be a church where God doesn’t just attend, but where he does manifest miraculous answers to prayer and marvelous interventions of grace.

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Sons of God Through Faith

Galatians 3:26 says something amazing:

“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”

It’s common for people today to say something like, “We’re all children of God.” They mean that we’re all created by God, which is true. But the title of “children” or “sons” is reserved for those who have placed their faith in Christ.

What an incredible title! Anyone who’s a parent knows the love and joy you have in your children. Just think — God has that same joy over his sons and daughters!

May your faith be in Jesus and may you know the delight of being God’s loved child.

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