Author Archives: Stephen Rodgers

That Those Things Which Cannot Be Shaken May Remain

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Hebrews 12:27

We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill becomes a Christian man to set much store by them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things. Yet, we have certain ‘things which cannot be shaken,’ and I invite you this evening to think of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken, which will remain.

Whatever your losses have been, or may be, you enjoy present salvation. You are standing at the foot of His cross, trusting alone in the merit of Jesus’ precious blood, and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with your salvation in Him; no breaking of banks, no failures and bankruptcies can touch that. Then you are a child of God this evening. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob you of that. Although by losses brought to poverty, and stripped bare, you can say, ‘He is my Father still. In my Father’s house are many mansions; therefore will I not be troubled.’

You have another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. He who is God and Man loves you with all the strength of His affectionate nature-nothing can affect that. The fig tree may not blossom, and the flocks may cease from the field, it matters not to the man who can sing, ‘My Beloved is mine, and I am His.’ Our best portion and richest heritage we cannot lose.

Whatever troubles come, let us play the man; let us show that we are not such little children as to be cast down by what may happen in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel’s land, our hope is above the sky, and therefore, calm as the summer’s ocean; we will see the wreck of everything earthborn, and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation.

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Some Things Don’t Change

by Ryan McAdams

Over the summer, my daughter and a number of her friends graduated from our Sunday preschool (Sparklers) ministry to the elementary school (Sonlight) ministry, bringing the number of children who regularly attend our Sonlight program to between 45 and 50 children. Less than two months later, our church moved to a two-service format which runs the same program for both the first and second services. I won’t bore you with the details, but this resulted in our Sonlight program transitioning from one group altogether to four groups, splitting the older and younger groups, and splitting with the two services. Of course, this resulted in needs for more staff and changes to the way we run each classroom. But, amid all of the changes we made to accommodate this new structure, Sonlight will always comprise the following components:

Teaching the Breadth of God’s Word

We have over an hour with the children whenever we have time with them in Sonlight, and we want to make the most of our time. Though most of the children probably hear Biblical teaching at home, we want to do our part to assist the parents in the making of disciples, even little ones, and we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the word of God. And, believing that all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, we don’t want to limit our instruction to the familiar Bible stories, but proclaim the whole of God’s greatness to the next generation.

A Safe Environment

We run our Sonlight program concurrently with our Sunday School Services to enable our parents to receive the benefit of teaching without distraction. If the parents can’t trust that their children are in a safe environment in the Sonlight classroom, then we give the parents cause to worry and are providing a hindrance to the parents’ learning and thus failing in our goal.

Staff Who Love the Children

While we did have additional staffing needs with the transitions and we do promote service in our Children’s Ministries as a way for a member to begin to involve himself in the church, we don’t want to throw unwilling participants on our staff. We want staff who desire to serve the families of our church body and shepherd the children of the church. Additionally, we want staff who have demonstrated faithfulness and consistency in their Christian character, people who would model Jesus Christ well for the observant children in our care. So, even with the desire for greater numbers in our staff, we won’t just look for warm bodies to fill spots, but rather those who love God and want to use their abilities to serve the church in this particular way.
Though the adjustments for the recent changes may not have finished, I know that however our program looks, we can count on these components to help form the core of our Sonlight ministry, as we seek faithfulness to our Lord and to bring glory to his name in every ministry of our church.

He Shall Build The Temple Of The Lord

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Zechariah 6:13

Christ Himself is the builder of His spiritual temple, and He has built it on the mountains of His unchangeable affection, His omnipotent grace, and His infallible truthfulness. But as it was in Solomon’s temple, so in this; the materials need making ready. There are the ‘Cedars of Lebanon,’ but they are not framed for the building; they are not cut down, and shaped, and made into those planks of cedar, whose odoriferous beauty shall make glad the courts of the Lord’s house in Paradise. There are also the rough stones still in the quarry, they must be hewn thence, and squared. All this is Christ’s own work. Each individual believer is being prepared, and polished, and made ready for his place in the temple; but Christ’s own hand performs the preparation-work. Afflictions cannot sanctify, excepting as they are used by Him to this end. Our prayers and efforts cannot make us ready for heaven, apart from the hand of Jesus, who fashioneth our hearts aright.

As in the building of Solomon’s temple, ‘there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house,’ because all was brought perfectly ready for the exact spot it was to occupy-so is it with the temple which Jesus builds; the making ready is all done on earth. When we reach heaven, there will be no sanctifying us there, no squaring us with affliction, no planing us with suffering. No, we must be made meet here-all that Christ will do beforehand; and when He has done it, we shall be ferried by a loving hand across the stream of death, and brought to the heavenly Jerusalem, to abide as eternal pillars in the temple of our Lord.

‘Beneath His eye and care,
The edifice shall rise,
Majestic, strong, and fair,
And shine above the skies.’

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The Foundation Of God Standeth Sure

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

2 Timothy 2:19

The foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.’ The great fact on which genuine faith relies is, that ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,’ and that ‘Christ also hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God’; ‘Who Himself bare our sins in His own body on the tree’; ‘For the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.’ In one word, the great pillar of the Christian’s hope is substitution.

The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave Him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus-this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it standeth firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation.

In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that ‘Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure.’

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Weekly Links (11/3/2017)

by Stephen Rodgers

Alright everyone, free stuff time! Rather than highlighting all sorts of different resources, we’re going to try something a bit different this month. Given that last Sunday’s sermon was on the topic of Martin Luther and the Reformation, here are the three most recent issues of CredoMag, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of the Reformation:

CredoMag has changed the way that they distribute their “magazine,” so each of those links is essentially a table of contents for the articles in each issue. So you can easily click and scroll through to find articles that are of particular interest.

Enjoy!

Thou Art Fairer Than The Children Of Men

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Psalm 45:2

The entire person of Jesus is but as one gem, and His life is all along but one impression of the seal. He is altogether complete; not only in His several parts, but as a gracious all-glorious whole. His character is not a mass of fair colours mixed confusedly, nor a heap of precious stones laid carelessly one upon another; He is a picture of beauty and a breastplate of glory. In Him, all the ‘things of good repute’ are in their proper places, and assist in adorning each other. Not one feature in His glorious person attracts attention at the expense of others; but He is perfectly and altogether lovely.

Oh, Jesus! Thy power, Thy grace, Thy justice, Thy tenderness, Thy truth, Thy majesty, and Thine immutability make up such a man, or rather such a God-man, as neither heaven nor earth hath seen elsewhere. Thy infancy, Thy eternity, Thy sufferings, Thy triumphs, Thy death, and Thine immortality, are all woven in one gorgeous tapestry, without seam or rent. Thou art music without discord; Thou art many, and yet not divided; Thou art all things, and yet not diverse. As all the colours blend into one resplendent rainbow, so all the glories of heaven and earth meet in Thee, and unite so wondrously, that there is none like Thee in all things; nay, if all the virtues of the most excellent were bound in one bundle, they could not rival Thee, Thou mirror of all perfection. Thou hast been anointed with the holy oil of myrrh and cassia, which Thy God hath reserved for Thee alone; and as for Thy fragrance, it is as the holy perfume, the like of which none other can ever mingle, even with the art of the apothecary; each spice is fragrant, but the compound is divine.

‘Oh, sacred symmetry! oh, rare connection
Of many perfects, to make one perfection!
Oh, heavenly music, where all parts do meet
In one sweet strain, to make one perfect sweet!’

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Right in His Own Eyes

by Josh Liu

College Life had its annual luau at the beginning of October. It was a great time with all of our semester and quarter students back together! We welcomed a number of new students as well! It is exciting seeing all of these students begin or continue their college careers. This stage of life provides unique opportunities to explore, learn, and mature; lifelong friendships are often formed during this time; habits and decisions are made that often lead to a particular direction of life. It can also be a confusing time.

CL Luau Group Photo

During the devotional, Pastor Patrick began with recounting Israel’s lawlessness. Israel forsook God as their rightful King and did what was right in their own eyes (cf. Judges 21:25). Israel’s rebellion against God’s authority is illustrative of every person’s rebellion against God. Every person, in his or her depraved nature, rebels against God (cf. Ps. 2:1-2; Rom. 1:18-32). Sinners deceive themselves by believing that they are the rulers of their own kingdoms, declaring what they believe is right or true. Opinions, preferences, and personal desires become “law.” This self-inaugurating authority reveals itself in many ways. For example, a person may believe anger or premarital sex can be right simply because he or she feels that it is right, whereas God proclaims such acts as damnable sins (cf. Gal. 5:19-21). Or, abortion is declared right because of one’s personal claim over the body, though God declares every life precious and the body to be used to glorify Him (cf. Gen. 9:6; 1 Cor. 6:20). God has ultimate authority over all of His creation, over your life (cf. Rom. 9:20-21). God has the authority to righteous judge sinners, and the authority to graciously forgive sinners (cf. James 4:12).

By God’s grace, Jesus Christ came to redeem rebels into obedient servants (cf. Rom. 6:4ff; Titus 3:3-7). Those who repent of their sins and submit their lives to Christ through faith are liberated to truly live with Christ as Lord and King.

Here are some questions to examine your heart on what authority might be ruling you:

  1. What can you not live without?
  2. What would ultimately satisfy you?
  3. What do you sacrifice for?
  4. What do you spend most of your time, energy, thought, and money on?
  5. Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape, pleasure, or security?

Some common authorities (idols) may be a relationship, respect, material possession, accolade, comfort, control, etc.

Brad Bigney provided an insightful caution: good things can become god-things [idols] when we exchange the glory of God [God’s authority]. Let us seek to live for and submit to God in all that we do.

Here are some principles to help you live with God as your authority:

  1. Prayerfully examine your own heart through what Scripture teaches on the responses to the questions above.
  2. Prayerfully study and practice Scripture before coming to a judgment or decision based on your own experiences, opinions, or preferences.
  3. Prayerfully practice appropriate silence or flexibility where God’s Word has not specifically spoken.
  4. Prayerfully seek biblical counsel from godly mentors and leaders who will direct you back to the Word of God in all situations.
  5. Pray through the truths, promises, and commands of Scripture in all situations.

God’s Word is our final and absolute authority for life and godliness (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3). We must be saturated with God’s Word in order to appropriately live under the beautiful lordship of Christ. And we must be immersed in God-centered prayers–approaching His throne of grace through prayer (cf. Heb. 4:16).

Straightway They Forsook Their Nets, And Followed Him

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Mark 1:18

When they heard the call of Jesus, Simon and Andrew obeyed at once without demur. If we would always, punctually and with resolute zeal, put in practice what we hear upon the spot, or at the first fit occasion, our attendance at the means of grace, and our reading of good books, could not fail to enrich us spiritually. He will not lose his loaf who has taken care at once to eat it, neither can he be deprived of the benefit of the doctrine who has already acted upon it. Most readers and hearers become moved so far as to purpose to amend; but, alas! the proposal is a blossom which has not been knit, and therefore no fruit comes of it; they wait, they waver, and then they forget, till, like the ponds in nights of frost, when the sun shines by day, they are only thawed in time to be frozen again. That fatal to-morrow is blood-red with the murder of fair resolutions; it is the slaughter-house of the innocents.

We are very concerned that our little book of ‘Evening Readings’ should not be fruitless, and therefore we pray that readers may not be readers only, but doers, of the word. The practice of truth is the most profitable reading of it. Should the reader be impressed with any duty while perusing these pages, let him hasten to fulfil it before the holy glow has departed from his soul, and let him leave his nets, and all that he has, sooner than be found rebellious to the Master’s call. Do not give place to the devil by delay! Haste while opportunity and quickening are in happy conjunction. Do not be caught in your own nets, but break the meshes of worldliness, and away where glory calls you. Happy is the writer who shall meet with readers resolved to carry out his teachings: his harvest shall be a hundredfold, and his Master shall have great honour. Would to God that such might be our reward upon these brief meditations and hurried hints. Grant it, O Lord, unto thy servant!

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Growing Pains: Fulfillment (Part 3)

by Kristen Lim

This article is a continuation of the Growing Pains series, a look at various topics that young Christians encounter.

My late paternal grandfather was a Korean immigrant who came to the United States to provide more opportunities for his children. He worked odd jobs, making just enough to put food on the table and pay for rent. He wasn’t a leader at his church or a part of any official ministry due to his poor health. He never became a homeowner, got his name in the newspaper, obtained awards, or had a mass following. He didn’t enjoy long vacations traveling around the world, dining in fine restaurants, or had the latest technological gadgets. On purely earthly standards, you would come to the conclusion that his life didn’t achieve greatness, and thus was unfulfilling. But how about on God’s standards?

Young Christians need to be mindful that there is a spiritual war going on, and living in this world means being bombarded with unbiblical ideologies, perspectives, and values. We all need to be continually renewing our minds with God’s word (Romans 12:2), since the Bible is the lens through which we can clearly evaluate the world and our lives. Let’s discover what God has to say about two factors that lead to fulfillment: greatness and ambition.

Redefining Greatness

There is nothing new under the sun. Humans have always been on the quest to achieve greatness, investing time and resources to make sure they’re the best, the top dog. Even Jesus’ disciples argued about who was the greatest amongst them. In Luke 9:48, when prompted to give an answer of who was the greatest, Jesus answers “…the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” You can imagine the disciples’ jaws dropping from that response. It’s noteworthy that Jesus doesn’t denounce their desire to be great; rather, their definition of greatness was the problem. True greatness is not found in eloquence of speech, abundance of knowledge, achieving many degrees, building a platform, or to be well known by others. Those things are not necessarily bad things, but they do not define true greatness.

Since God is the Creator and author of life, He is the one who determines the definition of greatness. Can we all give a collective amen that Jesus is the epitome of greatness? He is greatness incarnate and exemplified, so we learn from his example. In John 13, we see Jesus and His disciples getting ready to begin the last Passover supper before His crucifixion. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,…” (John 13:3). From just reading that verse, what would you assume the next verse to be? Naturally, we would think the flow of thought would lead to something grandiose and majestic. Let’s read on in John 13:4. “[Jesus] got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded…” (John 13:4-5). At first glance, it doesn’t seem logical that the God of the universe would choose to wash dirty feet, but this is exactly what our Savior and Lord did.

Not only did Jesus condescend to do a slave’s job of washing filthy feet, but He laid down His life in order to give sinners the hope of salvation through His substitutionary life, death, and resurrection. This is true greatness. “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). Jesus died for us not only to save us from our just sentence of God’s wrath, but so that in the newness of life we would be like Jesus in how we live. In John 13:15, Jesus says, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” So, a truly great person in the eyes of God is someone who mirrors Jesus, characterized by sacrifice, looking out for the interests of others in self-forgetful service (Phil 2:4).

Refocusing Ambition

Just as we are called to pursue biblical greatness, God desires for us to have godly ambition. Ambition can almost seem like a taboo word among Christians. We erroneously equate ambition with pride, but ambition in and of itself is not necessarily a sin. Ambition can be either selfish or godly. In Dave Harvey’s book Rescuing Ambition, he describes the difference between the two. Simply put, “selfish ambition is a motivating desire to do things for selfish glory. Godly ambition is a motivating desire to do things for God’s glory.”

In James 3:16, we can see the destructive nature of selfish ambition. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” A heart that is focused on “me, myself, and I” will not be submitting to God’s will or desire God’s glory, since no one can serve two masters. A sure sign of selfish ambition is if you are sinning (or willing to) in order to achieve certain desires, or sinning in the event of desires being unmet. Or, if you wallow in envy and are not able to rejoice when God chooses to allow other people to achieve success or obtain a desire that you sought after.

A common question to ask a young person is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” which focuses just on the vocation itself. But how often do you hear the question framed in this way: “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” Godly ambition starts with who you are, your character, rather than what you do. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he spends the first half to remind the church of the gospel, that God has saved them by grace through faith in Jesus. They have been brought near to God, and have peace through the blood of Christ. With that foundation laid, he proceeds to exhort them to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Eph. 4:2-3). Note that Paul doesn’t say that in response to the gospel they all need to become pastors, overseas missionaries, soapbox preachers, or do “big things for God.” Those things aren’t bad, and certainly God calls people into those roles, but what matters most is cultivating a heart that wants to love like Jesus.

A sure sign of godly ambition is attributing glory to God for the blessings, gifts, and success you may experience, because you know that He is the source of power for everything you do. Can you resonate with Paul when he proclaims in Romans 11:36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Can you echo the words of the psalmist in Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O LORD, not us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.”

Paul succinctly sums it up by saying, “Therefore we also have as our ambition whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2 Cor 5:9). Our ambition will remain the same for all eternity, to please our Heavenly Father. So whether you’re a mom with three kids all under the age of 5, or working in the office under an unreasonable manager, or a student studying for finals, or changing your career direction, your aim is to please God by being faithful in your specific roles and responsibilities at hand and proclaim Jesus in words and actions.

Though my grandfather didn’t have much material wealth or fame, he had the greatest treasure of eternal life, in knowing Jesus Christ. He found the secret jewel of contentment in having a thriving relationship with Jesus, and that made him wealthy in joy. He displayed true greatness by sacrificially serving his family and passing down the love of God to them. He was ambitious for God to be glorified and pleased with his life, not to make much of himself. Not many knew his name, but many will be pointed to God because of his life, as those who have been impacted by him continue on the work of making disciples of Christ. He enjoyed a fulfilled life because God had redeemed him to pursue true greatness and ambitiously seek first the kingdom of God. May our church be unified in that same pursuit, for God’s glory.

I Will Sift The House Of Israel Among All Nations

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Amos 9:9

Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask leave before he can lay a finger upon Job. Nay, more, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for the text says, ‘I will sift the house of Israel.’ Satan, like a drudge, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive. Precious, but much sifted corn of the Lord’s floor, be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directeth both flail and sieve to His own glory, and to thine eternal profit.

The Lord Jesus will surely use the fan which is in His hand, and will divide the precious from the vile. All are not Israel that are of Israel; the heap on the barn floor is not clean provender, and hence the winnowing process must be performed. In the sieve true weight alone has power. Husks and chaff being devoid of substance must fly before the wind, and only solid corn will remain.

Observe the complete safety of the Lord’s wheat; even the least grain has a promise of preservation. God Himself sifts, and therefore it is stern and terrible work; He sifts them in all places, ‘among all nations’; He sifts them in the most effectual manner, ‘like as corn is sifted in a sieve’; and yet for all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shrivelled grain, is permitted to fall to the ground. Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord, a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweller one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of His redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord’s, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.

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