Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Name of Jesus

There is a name, a wondrous name
Of infinite and endless fame
Of God beloved, by saints revered
By angels and archangels feared
Ordained by God, 'ere the world began
Revealed by angels unto man
Proclaimed by men, believed, adored
By hearts and prayer and praise outpoured
The theme of prophets, priests and kings
The Word of which sweet psalmists sing
By pilgrims blessed, by suff'ers sung
The last word breathed by martyr's tongue
The name most precious and sublime
Supreme in faith, supreme in time
Destined to live and conquer all
'Til all knees everywhere shall fall
And tongue confess - what God proclaimed
This name to be the name of names
The name which in high heaven will be
The one name of eternity
Then, oh my soul, its praise forth tell
Jesus - the name ineffable!

From The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority (p. 116), by Adrian Rogers. No author or source is cited.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Way to Go, Men!

Let me give a public shout out to the men of the Ridgway First Baptist Church. This past Sunday was Baptist Men’s Day, with many of the men participating in the service in various ways. Nearly all the men joined in the men’s choir as we sang, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” Indeed, even as we recognized the roles and contributions of men in the church, it is the name of Jesus we honor and glorify!

There’s something special about men lifting their voices together in praise to the Lord Almighty! I remember being in a Promise Keeper’s conference quite a few years ago in Chicago where the men’s choir all wore T-shirts that read: “Real men sing real loud.” I love that line. I still have some tapes I’ll listen to occasionally from PK that feature men singing out such majestic hymns as “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “How Great Thou Art.” Fantastic, inspirational stuff!

We also were encouraged to hear four men give verbal testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ, and certainly more would have been willing if time allowed. One young man led in a responsive Scripture reading, another young man closed out the service in prayer, and the older men’s class Sunday School teacher gave a warm welcome and an opening prayer. I get pumped up when men step up in the church!

We also heard a couple of special songs from a men’s duet and a trio that I trust brought a message of encouragement to the church. God has gifted many in the church with the ability to help build up His people through music, and I’m grateful they’re eager to use their gifts for that purpose.

Our men also prepared and provided a fellowship meal for the congregation – not totally without the help of some of the women, mind you. But they came through with a wonderful dinner and were glad to serve. And, yes, they also cleaned up afterwards and left the kitchen spotless!

I’m running the risk here of leaving out somebody who went out of their way to make this a special day, and if so, I apologize. There are some who do so much work behind the scenes that they’d never get noticed by others – and they like it that way. But it’s always good to know that even what is done in secret will be richly rewarded by our Father in heaven.

The message I brought Sunday morning was about declaring our faith in Christ. This coming week’s message is about Christ declaring victory for His church. The Scripture for these sermons if found in Matthew 16:13-20. I’m not going to re-preach that right now, nor give too much away about what’s coming up, other than to say that now is the time for men to boldly declare their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Our world desperately needs men who are neither afraid nor ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our generation needs men (and women, too) to truly believe in their hearts, boldly confess with their mouths, and faithfully live out the truth that Jesus is the way, and the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6)! Our culture needs men willing to stake their lives upon the truth that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

There’s enough foolish disbelief already out there. And because of the stubbornness of men’s unrepentant hearts, they are storing up against themselves the wrath of God on that day when His righteousness judgment will be revealed (Rom. 2:5).

Friend, time is running out. I believe that the time of Christ’s return is very near. And even if in His patience He delays, that only means He’s giving you a chance now – before it’s too late – to repent of your sins and receive the salvation that He graciously offers you in Christ Jesus.

I’m thankful for the men at Ridgway FBC who are not ashamed to confess the name of Jesus Christ! I’m thankful for their servant leadership, their Christ-like love and their encouragement shown to others in the church, in their homes and in their communities. And I’m thankful most of all for the power of Jesus’ name we hail. Join us this Sunday in worship, and come be a part of Christ’s victorious church!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marvelous Mercy

Your mercy, Lord, is marvelous
Too great for me to tell
I cannot plumb its boundless depth
Yet my soul knows it well

For on the cross of Calvary
My Jesus bled and died
My place You took, my sin forgave
My soul You satisfied

And O such love, such awesome love
You poured out on that tree
To cleanse, make new and joy restore

This - my soul's victory

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Here's Your Sign

You’d have thought they would have wanted to hail Him as their King. You’d have thought they would have humbly bowed before Him in reverence and worship. You’d have thought they would have submitted joyfully in service and obedience to His lordship.

Instead they hardened their hearts against Him in unbelief. They hated Him without cause. They despised and rejected Him. And God’s set purpose was accomplished.

Who are “they?” The religious leaders of Jesus’ day. The Pharisees, the priests, the scribes and the Sadducees. Above all, they are the ones who should have recognized Him as their promised Messiah. More than anyone, they should have acknowledged that He was the One who was fulfilling the prophecies right in front of their eyes. Of all people, they should have known that Jesus was the One they had been waiting for.

The signs were obvious. All they had to do was look around and see the lame walking, the mute speaking, the deaf hearing and the blind seeing. All they had to do was look around and see the sick being healed, the diseased well, the lepers cleansed, and the demon-possessed in their right minds.

If they wanted a sign all they had to do was look to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, fulfilling Micah’s prophecy (Micah 5:2). Isn’t it something that the Magi from the east traveled so far when they saw His star, and you remember the story. Where did they first arrive? It wasn’t Bethlehem. It was Jerusalem. They came to the “city of the great King” looking for the One who was born King of the Jews.

They found out that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea, according to the words of the prophet. Who did they find this out from? The chief priests and teachers of the law – those who knew the Scriptures, those who were considered the religious leaders among the people. They knew where the Messiah was to be born. But who among them went to Bethlehem to worship their newborn King? No one! You’d have thought the whole city would have rejoiced.

The Magi continued on their way, however, alone. They sure didn’t miss the sign. And as they went the star appeared over the place where Jesus was, and they were the ones who rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. They were the ones who bowed down to worship Him. They were the ones who opened their treasures and gave Him gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

The signs were obvious, but the rulers of Israel were oblivious. And on at least two occasions in the gospels these leaders approach Jesus demanding that He perform some kind of sign to prove that He was the Messiah. But their motives were all wrong. They were not about to recognize Him as their King even if Jesus would have made the stars begin dancing in the sky nor if He would have written “I AM” in the clouds.

Like Pharaoh, their hearts were hardened in unbelief, and even if He would have brought someone back from the dead, still they would not have believed. If they refused to listen to Moses and the prophets, then no sign would convince them either.

So Jesus called them out and said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here” (Mt. 12:39-41).

Friend, are you waiting for a sign from heaven before you’ll believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Here’s the sign for all time for you: the empty tomb. Just like Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish and then was rescued by God and became the sign to Nineveh that his message was from God, so did Jesus spend three days and three nights in death’s chambers before rising from the grave as the sign of God’s salvation to this generation. God’s set purpose was accomplished in it all, and that means that now is the time to “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Beginning of Obedience

As we get rolling into the new year, like you, I have many things I’d love to accomplish this year. Things that need to move from the “good intentions” list to actual sweat, blood and tears get-it-done stuff. Some people call those resolutions. I call it revival.

Well-known evangelist Charles Finney has been quoted as saying, “Revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.” In the year 2010 I want to renew my level of obedience to the Word of God and the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Renewed obedience is the stuff of revivals. Last week I wrote in this column that I want to grow in faith. Faith and obedience go together like Batman and Robin – you can’t have one without the other.

Certainly some resolutions we make are not a matter of obedience or disobedience, but they do speak about priorities and what matters most to us. Often those things which we resolve to do are the very things that we’re not doing now that we ought to have already been doing. Some of those things are called sin.

Let me give you an example. Confession time, I guess. I know that I ought to be praying regularly and more fervently for the leaders of our nation. The Bible addresses this in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 where Paul writes: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

I’ll just be honest and tell you that I’ve sinned in this area of prayer, by neglecting the Spirit’s urging to lift up others – especially those in leadership positions over us – before God’s throne of grace. I’ll admit that I’ve taken our good government for granted. Not that it’s a perfect system with perfect people, but when we can enjoy such wonderful freedoms as we have, living in relative peace and prosperity, it’s easy to forget that we need to keep praying for our nation and her leaders.

If we lived under cruel and oppressive conditions, as many throughout the world do today, then we’d be much more mindful of how urgently we need to seek the Lord on behalf of our leaders. And yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that apart from God’s grace and blessings on this nation, we’d be doomed. Sometimes I wonder how much grace God has left for America before His judgment against us reaches a destructive climax.

Judgment against America, you say? Oh, yes. America has long since dismissed God from the public arena. There is no fear, or reverence, of God. We have mocked His holy Word. We have rebelled against His ways. We have trampled on His truth. There’s no acknowledgement of His authority and power over us. We’re living out the words of Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

And we are experiencing His wrath against our ungodliness. Read Romans 1:18-32 and see for yourself if that doesn’t directly speak to our generation in these United States of America! The Bible declares in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” God is judging us already, but unless we repent as a nation, the intensity of God’s righteous judgment against us will continue to escalate.

Now more than ever we need to heed the urging of the Spirit’s call to pray for all people, especially those whom God has appointed as our governing authorities. That’s one of my resolutions – a new beginning of obedience in prayer that might just bring national revival.

“Almighty God, turn the hearts of our national, state and local leaders to Your ways. Give them wisdom to seek Your counsel in every decision they make. Make them instruments of righteousness in this land, guided by Your hand, to accomplish Your will among us. And may the result be that we might lead peaceful and godly lives which please You, and in turn, draws all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth. Amen.”