The Need for Reminders

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To forget is a tendency of being human. The condition of forgetfulness can be frustrating and even embarrassing at times. We forget items on a shopping list, stickers or tags on new clothes, to check the mail, to turn the light off, special occasions, appointments and even people’s names. There are many things that we do so as to help us remember. We write post it notes, we tie a piece of string to our finger, or we write on our hands. Though these devices can be helpful, they do not eradicate the human tendency of forgetfulness. Continue reading The Need for Reminders

The Life of Faith

The Christian life has been likened to running in a race. The writer to the Hebrews said,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God ()

On Sunday evenings at Hills Bible Church we are going to spend a number of weeks working our way through . In this great chapter, we see example after example of men and women who are heroes of the faith. The have gone before us running that well worn track of faith.

You are welcome to join us at 6:00 PM Sunday evenings or you can download the message from our website. Below is a video introducing our series.

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

A Word to those who are Single V: Struggling Singles

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What is a struggling single? This is a single person that desires to marry but hasn’t found any prospects. Know and understand that the desire to marry is good because marriage is good (cf. ). Marriage is the oldest institution in the history of the world and is a Divinely established institution.

Why is it then that some who desire to marry remain single? There are a number of possible reasons. Sometimes those who desire to marry but can’t find anyone may have unrealistic expectations. Sadly, a single believer may have a certain expectation in their mind that isn’t grounded in Scripture but is simply worldly. These expectations tend to be focused on outward appearance and ignore the importance of godly Christian character.

Another reason why some might still be single is due to immaturity. I am amazed at how many people who are single desire to marry but still behave like juveniles. Living a life of parties, video games, and an all-consuming social life is not living a single life to the glory of God. If these things mark your single life, you need to grow up.

But what about the single person that is honouring the Lord, has realistic expectations and is living with maturity? The struggling single believer needs to know that this is due to God’s plan. For a reason unknown to you and me, God has provided you with a providential opportunity in being single. When it comes to God’s providence I am referring to the work of God, in which He sustains (), directs () and governs () all things. “God’s providence” says Thomas Watson, “reaches to all places, persons, and occurrences.”[1] What is the purpose of God’s providence? It is His glory () and our good ().

If you are single and struggling, know that God has not forgotten nor neglected you. In His wisdom (), He would have you be single at this time for His glory and your good. Allow the providence of God to be an encouragement to you. Because of the providence of God, struggling single you ought not to fear () or worry (), your Heavenly Father knows what you need () and He cares for you ().

To finish off this post, here are three practical points to keep in mind if your are a struggling single:

Look to Jesus Christ
Whatever state we are in, we must set before us our Lord and Saviour. He is our Master and we are His slaves. As a struggling single, remember that we have a compassionate High Priest. The writer to the Hebrews said, “ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (). He is aware of your situation and cares for you. We are to look to Him and treasure Him in all situations. Mark Dever noted, “Ultimately, our object of satisfaction – whether single or married – should not be our spouse; it should be Christ”.[2]

Give yourself to Faithful Service
While you wait upon the Lord, certainly pray for your future spouse, but make use of this providential opportunity. Christian single, you have an opportunity to be faithful in the Lord’s service with great freedom (See The Advantages of being Single). With great dedication, discipline and delight immerse yourself in the Lord’s service. Honour the Lord with faithfulness with the stewardship of time He has sovereignly granted you. If you are to marry, this can be a time in which you grow in your character and even learn from mature Christian couples concerning roles in marriage and parenthood. Christian single, don’t waste your singleness!

Don’t Marry an Unbeliever!
A temptation many Christian singles face is the issue of dating or marrying an unbeliever. With great wisdom Steve Cole writes,

“Burn it into your thinking: It is never God’s will for a Christian to become unequally yoked with a non-Christian in marriage (7:39; ). For some reason, it is usually Christian women who get tangled up with nice (they’re always nice!) unbelieving men, rather than the other way around. I don’t care how nice he is to you, if he is not committed to Jesus Christ and if he is not denying self daily to follow Christ, then he’s living for self. You’re going to be miserable married to such a person. Your children will suffer. Your devotion to Christ will be hindered. Don’t do it!”[3]

If you are a Christian, understand that dating or marrying an unbeliever is not an option.

Let us be prayerful for and encouraging towards of dear struggling brothers and sisters that are single.

 


[1] Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, Banner of Truth, 1978, p. 120

[2] Mark Dever, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Crossway Books, 2005, p. 135

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 1

spiritual-growth2 Back in , Moses gave the Israelites the mandates for their inheritance of the land of Canaan. There were specific things that they were to do. They were to eliminate their enemies () because they opposed the holiness of God. Though these enemies were in the land, they were to remove them. In addition to removing the people, they were to also eliminate all the remnants of ungodliness (). The reason why the Lord commanded this elimination is because His people are holy, chosen, and loved. He said,

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt().

On the basis of their condition before the Lord, they were to remove anything that is not characteristic of this condition. We can use that episode in the history of Israel as a real illustration for what we need to be doing in our spiritual conduct. We are not called to remove any people groups from their nation but we are called – on the basis of our new life – to put to death anything in our lives that is not characteristic of God’s people. We are to remove the spiritual Hittites, Girgashites, Ammorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites in our life. Sin is a wicked thing. In-fact, sin should be considered the believer’s worst enemy. For this reason, our attitude towards sin should be very serious. By God’s Continue reading Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 1

7:1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.

7:1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

How to Strengthen your Faith

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At times the Christian does get discouraged and become despondent. They have not lost their faith, as this was a divinely given gift. However, their faith can be weakened and therefore in need of strengthening. The child of God at times will have “little faith” () and ought to desire to have a growing faith (cf. ).

Though a believer can have weak faith, it is important to remember that there is a huge difference between weak faith and having no faith at all. Spurgeon notes that “between the very lowest degree of faith and a state of unbelief there is a great gulf. An immeasurable abyss yawns between the man who has even the smallest faith in Christ and the man who has none.” Weak faith is still saving faith, but as a believer we ought to desire to see it increase.

Continue reading How to Strengthen your Faith

31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Dealing with Temptation

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Temptation to sin is a struggle all of us experience. Sadly, a natural tendency of people is to shift the blame away from themselves. In doing so, they wrongly diagnose the problem and ignore the symptoms and therefore don’t receive the biblical solution. In this brief post, I want to look at temptation from the lens of .

The Source of Temptation

James makes it clear that God is not the source of our temptation. He can’t be tempted becauseHe has no capacity or vulnerability to temptation (; ; ) and therefore He does not tempt (). So then, where does temptation come from? says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire”. He illustrates the source of temptation with fishing metaphors. Like a fish that is enticed by the bait and then lured away, we fall into temptation when our “own desire”drags us to the bait. The problem is within us (). Again, notice that the text says, “his own Continue reading Dealing with Temptation

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Comforting Others as God has Comforted us

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In reading through Andrew’s recent blogs on identifying sin and replacing it with righteous and pure thoughts and actions, I am reminded of and the critical need to support and encourage one another in our walk with Christ. Thank God we are not to walk this journey alone! This world will often trivialize sin and tempt us to take the easy option, so we must encourage one another to focus on what is pure and honorable and just and lovely as it says in .

Let me be frank and honest here though. Andrew rightly said we should hate and detest sin as it goes against God’s very character. However, in actual fact, there are times, if we are honest with ourselves, when we “want to sin”… we want to take the so called easy option, to make the choice that we think will bring us more satisfaction. As appealing as it may be for many of us to have lots of chocolate or ice cream, afterwards our actions often lead to guilt and a stomach ache. We feel unhealthy and our bodies don’t feel like they are working at their best. This is what it is like with sin… It’s appealing, but always leads us feeling guilty and broken. We are never fulfilled in the long run. We may have short term satisfaction, but always long term decay and unfulfilment. Given the enticing nature of sin, we need to be honest about our struggles with God and when appropriate with others, followed by how God blesses us as we choose to trust in Him rather than continue to feed our sinful appetites. To keep from others how God impacts and liberates our lives robs them of the hope and comfort that God has given us.

Continue reading Comforting Others as God has Comforted us

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

A Life of Freedom

  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

    “For you have been called to live in freedom – not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love.”

What does it mean to be free? In having faith in Jesus, what freedom has He promised us? Continue reading A Life of Freedom

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Living Effective Lives for God

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” ()

How do we mature in our faith as Christians? What causes us to become more Christ-like in our conduct? It’s not uncommon to witness people declaring they are Christians, but by their actions it’s hard to see much of Christ in them? Clearly we all struggle with our sinful nature. It can inhibit us from doing what we know we should … a struggle even the apostle Paul had (). But too often some so-called Christians seem to live a life devoid of what the Bible teaches. Continue reading Living Effective Lives for God

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.