Isaiah: Free Advent Devotinals

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I recently wrote a series of devotionals through Isaiah for LifeWay.

Advent is a special and important time to reflect on the birth of Jesus and everything Jesus came to do. The goal for using the devotionals,

  • Draw your family closer around the birth of Christ
  • Help you develop fresh appreciation for why Christ came
  • Adopt a purpose- and mission-filled approach to the busy Christmas season.

I encourage you to not only use it for your family but to share it with other families in your study groups.

You can download them here. 

“What Did You Expect?” – A Marriage Conference with Paul Tripp in NC

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I just found out about this great opportunity! On November 6th and 7th, Paul Tripp will be at Calvary Baptist Church, West Campus, for a marriage conference. Here are the details.

Register Here!

  • Date: November 6 & 7 (Friday 7:00-9:15pm, Saturday 9:00am-12:15pm)
  • Cost: $20 per person, and a $10 flat fee for childcare.
  • Location: Calvary Baptist Church, West Campus (155 Commerce Drive
    Advance, NC 27006. Just outside of Winston-Salem)
  • Best Hotel: Hampton Inn in Bermuda Run (Right across the street, and has an indoor pool with water slide)

Note: the process for signing up for this conference is a little difficult and cumbersome. 

Overview

It won’t take long for you to be disappointed in marriage. It won’t take long for your dreams to be dashed. The reality is that you can’t escape the brokenness of this world. You won’t be able to avoid the sin of your spouse.

The Bible teaches that we all bring something destructive into our relationships – sin. But as Paul Tripp explains, we buy into the delusion that our biggest problem is outside of us. We blame our spouse. We blame our circumstances. We rarely take seriously the nature of our own sin.

What Did You Expect? challenges you to look into the mirror of God’s Word and see yourself with clarity. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you love yourself more than your spouse. Maybe you love your little kingdom more than God’s big Kingdom. When you reach that level of honesty, you’re at the edge of real good things for your marriage.

This conference is based on his book with the same title, What Did You Expect?

Register Here!

I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

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This is an excerpt from the sermon I preached this past Sunday at Fairview Baptist Church. You can watch the whole thing here.

In John 14 Jesus tells the disciples to stop letting their hearts be troubled. As Jesus was headed closer and closer to the cross, the disciples were becoming more and more confused and uncertain. And rightly so.

In Ancient Israel, a disciple would begin following a Rabbi or Teacher between the ages of 12-20. At an early age the disciples had left family, friends, homes, occupations – everything – in order to follow Jesus. Their whole world had been wrapped up in Jesus. And now after a few years, Jesus is telling them that he is leaving them, and that they cannot follow him where He goes. Not just yet. Jesus is going to prepare a place for them in His fathers house. They are called to turn their trouble into trust.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Textually, “the way” is placed over “truth” and “life”. In Greek, word order often indicates emphasis. So, we can trust Jesus is the way, because He is the truth. We can also trust that Jesus is the way, because He is the life. Jesus is the only way to God precisely because He is the truth of God and the life of God. No one comes to the Father except through Him.

When Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house, it gives us a good depiction of eternity. The word “place” is connected with the verb that means, to abide or dwell. Jesus goes to the cross in order to prepare a place to abide and dwell with God. This is good news. Whatever else heaven may hold, the most wonderful part of it will be the fact that we dwell with God forever. This truth was driven home for me several years ago as I read John Piper’s book God is the Gospel. Piper writes:

“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation— is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?”

Is dwelling with God central to your vision of eternity? I pray so. The way to God was opened through Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself in your place on the cross. Believe the truth that Jesus is the only way to an eternal life of dwelling with God.

Free eBook from The Gospel Project and Ligonier Ministries

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Sign up to download the eBook here. 

In 2014, LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries partnered to learn what Americans really believe in seven key doctrinal areas—and the resulting study paints a sobering picture about the state of American theology.

The Gospel Project just released a new, free eBook, The State of American Theology: Knowing the Truth, Loving the Church, Reaching Our Neighbors, collecting the research and thoughtful essays from renowned theologians.

This was the last project I led at LifeWay before entering the pastorate. I am thankful to see it available online. The eBook features essays and articles such as:

  • Why Theological Study Is For Everyone by Jared Wilson
  • The Love of God by D. A. Carson

  • Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by JD Greear
  • The Marks of the Church by Mark Dever
  • All Nations and Church Planting by Ed Stetzer
  • The Pillar of the Truth by Steve Timmis
  • Not So Fast by Trevin Wax
  • Soli Deo Gloria by John Piper
  • Bible Believing. Bible Obeying by Burk Parsons
  • What Should We Say? by Jonathan Akin

  • Dealing with Doubt by Randy Alcorn

  • Lust and Chastity by Thabiti Anyabwile
  • Ordinary Christian Work by Tim Challies
  • Christian Parenting by Elyse Fitzpatrick
  • Pain: God’s Megaphone by Alistair Begg
  • A Teachable Spirit by Justin Taylor

  • The Blessings of Humility by Jerry Bridges
  • Sabbath Rest by Sinclair Ferguson
  • The Holy Love of God by R.C. Sproul
  • The Breath of God by Derek Thomas

  • Bearers of God’s Image by Trillia Newbell

  • The Biblical Evidence for Hell by Christopher Morgan
  • The New Heavens and New Earth by Dennis Johnson
  • What Is The Gospel? by Ray Ortlund
  • Preach the Gospel, and Since It’s Necessary, Use Words by Ed Stetzer
  • Only One Way by Bruce Ware

  • And many more…

Sign up to download the book here!

Acting Our Way Into Feelings In Worship

a-long-obedience-in-the-same-directionI recently picked up Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction at a used book store (I love the title). I have always found Peterson’s writing soul stirring. In this book Peterson offers an honest and reflective journey through the Psalms of Ascent (120-134). Consider this thought on worship based on Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the LORD!” (ESV)

But very often we don’t feel like [worshiping], and so we say, “It would be dishonest for me to go to a place of worship and praise God when I don’t feel like it. I would be a hypocrite.” The Psalm says, I don’t care whether you feel like it or not: as was decreed, “give thanks to the name of God.”

I have put great emphasis on the fact that Christians worship because they want to, not because they are forced to. But I have never said that we worship because we feel like it. Feelings are great liars. If Christians worshiped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith. Paul Scherer is laconic: “The Bible wastes very little time on the way we feel.”

We live in what one writer has called “the age of sensation.” We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured.

3 Deadly Turns From The Gospel

CCEGalatiansThis post is excerpted and adapted from the Christ-centered Exposition Commentary on Galatians (1:6-7). You can get the whole set in WordSearch right now for $69.95. Here are three important truths accompany a person’s tragic turn from the gospel, by Tony Merida.

When you turn from the gospel, you turn from God Himself

Paul says that the Galatians are turning away from “Him,” not merely from a set of principles. When you turn from the gospel, you are turning from the God of all grace. You are turning from the Christ “who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age”. Paul says he is amazed that the Galatians are turning from their Redeemer, the fountain of all grace. When you turn from the gospel, you turn from God Himself. Disbelieving the gospel is no small error. If you miss Christ, you will lose everything.

When you turn from the gospel, you turn from the grace of Christ

“The grace of Christ” is a synonym for the gospel (cf. 5:4). Remember, the Judaizers believed salvation was Jesus + circumcision and the requirements of the OT law. But salvation is not Jesus + anything. Why? Because salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Notice how the words “called” and “grace” are together in Galatians 1:6 and in verse 15. The Galatians were called by grace, and they were called into the realm of grace. This type of call denotes God’s sovereign action and believers’ experience. When God calls you to Christ, you sense His power. You sense God dealing with you. Just as He called Abraham, Moses, and Paul, He calls sinners to Himself today. He calls us not because of any good in us but because of His grace.

When you turn from the gospel, you have nowhere else to go

Paul tells the Galatians that they are “turning to a different gospel,” but adds, “not that there is another gospel”. In other words, Paul says the false teachers’ message is no gospel at all. There is only one gospel. In all likelihood the false teachers were saying that their gospel was not different from what Paul taught. But Paul says, “Yes, it is.” There is nothing else like the gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, false teachers have been using the same “Oh, we believe in Jesus, too” line for centuries. But when you go deeper into the teachings of any cult, you realize that it presents a [another] gospel (cf. 2 Cor 11:3-4).

The point is that there is no other way to be right with God, to experience forgiveness of sin, apart from the gospel of Christ Jesus (see John 14:6-7). It is difficult for people to embrace the exclusiveness of the gospel when they swim in a sea of religious pluralism and philosophical relativism. We often hear, “All religions are equally valid, and there is no one truth.” But finding right relationship with God is not like selecting a deodorant. You may choose any of a number of antiperspirants to keep you fresh, but that is not the case when it comes to securing eternal life. Only one path to God will do: Jesus. He has no equal. He is not one among many religious leaders. He is the one and only Messiah.

The Seven Deadly Sins

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The Winter 2015 adult and student editions of The Gospel Project examined the truth of human sin and the beauty of God’s salvation. In conjunction with the studies, we launched a blog series on the Seven Daily Sins. Here is a list of the blog posts from the completed series.

Desiring God also released a free eBook titled Killjoys: The Seven Deadly Sins, you can download it here.

full_killjoysOur hearts were designed to enjoy a full and forever happiness, not the pitiful temporary pleasures for which we’re too prone to settle. Pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust are woefully inadequate substitutes for the wonder, beauty, and affection of God. They will rob you, not ravish you. They will numb you, not heal you. They will slaughter you, not save you.

Killjoys was written to lead you deeper in love with our God and further into war against your sin. The truths, warnings, and promises in these pages are meant to chart a life-giving path to greater holiness and greater joy.