Worship in Faith

February 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Posted in Habakkuk | 2 Comments
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Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17

The doctrine of faith as the doorway to salvation did not originate in the New Testament.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:11

However, the New Testament clearly refutes the false belief that keeping God’s law can save.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Hebrews 10:38

So, what about after salvation? We are saved through faith, but how do we please God after He saves us?

Faith is the means of salvation because God has declared that by faith will man be justified. “The just” are those whom God, by His grace, has declared righteous, and who, therefore, have a perfect standing before Him in Christ Jesus. Does that scare you? It shouldn’t – it put Habakkuk right into a spirit of worship. How I wish that modern Christians didn’t have such a tendency to surrender their brains to their feelings in worship!

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk 3:2

Dear Lord, the basis for our worship is Your Word. We fear You, Lord. Your Word has convicted us where we stand – and we admit it. We want a revival – not of wordly “success” – but Your work. Even if not right now, but in the midst of years – in Your time. We trust You – we even trust Your wrath. We call on You to remember mercy, not because we deserve it, but because of Who You are. Keep Your promises, O God. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Practical Sovereignty

January 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Habakkuk | 2 Comments
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God is steadfast. He keeps His Word. God is strong. He is also sovereign.

But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:20

He is on the throne and in complete control of all events and people in the world. Once we realize this, we can stop fearing the future – the fear of the unknown.

Many Christians are plagued by fear. “What if I get sick? What if people are talking negatively about me? What if I lose all my material possessions?” If we don’t really believe that God is in control – that He’s sovereign – then our anxiety has a rational basis. Or if we imagine that He needs our help – that there are some situations we’ve gotten ourselves into that He couldn’t have forseen, and therefore might not be able to rescue us. But if we act that way in a crisis – if we fall to pieces every time the car breaks down, every time the weather says a storm is showing up on the radar – then let’s at least be honest. Let’s admit that we think it’s kind of cool to be church-going people, but we only have faith in God when He’s explaining everything to us ahead of time.

God told Habakkuk, “I’m in control. I’m on the throne. I don’t owe you an explanation – and you couldn’t handle it if I gave you one.” When we grasp that – really grasp it and internalize it and not just not recognize it as a thought in our heads, but rather incorporate it into our hearts – then we will step out in true faith – a faith that goes beyond Christian CDs, Christian DVDs, key chains, bumper stickers, t-shirts, compartmentalized living. We will move from from saying, “What can Jesus do for me?” into saying, “Jesus, what would You have me to do?”

The Wastefulness of Idolatry

December 12, 2014 at 11:33 am | Posted in Habakkuk | 6 Comments
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God is steadfast. He keeps His Word. He is also strong. He can stop iniquity at any time. He does not fret or tremble over the mightiest armies, weapons, or mass movements.

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14

God could flood the earth at this moment with His glory – even faster than He flooded it last time with natural water. He let Habakkuk know that Babylon’s powerful reign, although it seemed invincible, would one day be destroyed. This foreshadows the destruction of the new Babylon – the world system of the last days – which will be destroyed at the return of Christ (Revelation 17-18).

Compare the idols worshipped by the people of Judah to the idols that may be worshipped by God’s people today.

What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

Habakkuk 2:18

Things that do not profit us spiritually are a waste of our time (and not really “our” time, but God’s time that He has given us to manage).

Therefore, things which use our time for purposes other than the Kingdom of God would seem to be idols. Wasting time is wrong, although many people think it’s harmless. Idols, even though they can’t talk, have a way of “speaking” lies. The “wisdom” of man – found in TV programs, books, magazines, or just regular traditions – if it doesn’t originate from God’s Word, not only sucks up our valuable time, but it lies to us and deceives us.

When we place our trust in things made by man, rather than God’s Truth, we are worshiping the created instead of the Creator – which is the essence of idolatry.

The Stones of Covetousness

December 31, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Habakkuk, Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 8 Comments
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The Lord Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem. Those who had plotted to tempt Him, to cause Him to fall into sin, to argue against Him and to try to prove Him a to be a blasphemer, and those who had tried to kill Him, had all failed – because His time had not yet come.

The Lord Jesus, Who had never allowed His followers to engage in a public demonstration for Him, allowed it this one time, and they treated Him like a triumphant King. Garments were laid on the animals and on the road. Palm tree branches were waved and spread before Him (John 12:13). He rode a “colt” (a young donkey) which had not been broken or trained by men, but which submitted to Jesus because He, as the “second Adam” and as God incarnate, had dominion over all creation.

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

Luke 19:35-36

The crowd was excited. Many of them had seen this Man – Jesus of Nazareth – perform miracles, heal the blind, even raise a man from the dead. Possibly others – even some of the Disciples – believed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government there. This is indicated by their use of the messianic Psalm 118 (118:26).

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 19:37-38

But there were also Pharisees in the crowd, and they were upset.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Luke 19:39

In the Lord’s response to them, you might recognize a very common modern church expression:

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:40 (emphasis added)

This expression is used to encourage and exhort people to “liven up” – to get excited in worship – to “get free” – to “loosen up” – to sing louder and with greater emotional enthusiasm. This will be the plea of song leaders and worship ministers all across America this Sunday morning: “We don’t want the rocks to put us to shame – come on, please – if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will! You don’t want us to be outdone by a rock, do you?”

One of the things that happened often in Christ’s ministry on earth is that He would speak a great truth and people would put their own stamp of perception on it. Instead of hearing what He actually said, they heard what they wanted Him to say. When He said that the temple would be torn down, and in three days He would raise it again, they thought He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood would have eternal life they were offended at the thought of eating literal flesh. I wonder if Jesus’s followers knew the deeper spiritual meaning when He said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out?”

I don’t know for sure, but I believe the Pharisees must have known. They were students of the Word. They knew the writings of the prophets. Surely they would have recognized the quote from Habakkuk:

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

Habakkuk 2:9-11

See, the followers of Christ wanted Psalm 118 – “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord!” – but Christ’s point was, “What about Habakkuk 2:11? Thou hast brought shame to thy house! The very stones of the houses cry out!”

Is your house just a pile of stones (or bricks or wood or aluminum siding)? What is it about your house that cries out about the glory of God? About the salvation of Christ? I’m not talking about the materials out of which your home is made. I’m talking about what takes place in your home. If the praises of the Lord are not heard in our homes, we won’t have to worry about the paneling and the bricks crying out in praise. Oh, they’ll be crying out alright – but they’ll be crying, “Covetous! Covetous! I am a house full of furniture! Full of television sets! Full of computers! I am a house full of possessions – of material treasures – I am a monument to covetousness!”

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:19-20

Let’s make sure our homes are places where the Word of God is taught. Where the fear of God is evident. Where the love of God is shown. Let’s make sure our possessions “keep silence” before Him. The “stones of covetousness” which make up our homes don’t have to cry out, but if they are crying out already, how will we respond?

Next time, we will take a look another of The Stones that Don’t Cry Outthe Stones of Condemnation.

The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus

February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 5 Comments
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If Ezekiel was describing the Millenial Temple in Chapters 40-48 – and I believe that he was – then it is somewhat surprising to see that this temple will have altars for sacrifices.

And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit. So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns.

Ezekiel 43:14-15

And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 45:15

Why sacrifice? Didn’t Jesus die for the sins of the whole world once and for all? You better believe He did! But in Ezekiel we have descriptions of burnt offerings, trespass offering, sin offering, peace offering, meal offering, drink offering… What gives?

It is helpful to remember that Old Testament believers weren’t forgiven because of the actual shedding of the blood of animals.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

The Old Testament believers were not saved by the sacrifices of animals, but, as we see in Hebrews 11, they were saved because of the sacrifice of the then-future Messiah, through faith.

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

I Thessalonians 2:9-10

These verses are addressed specifically to believers.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

I Thessalonians 2:11

Note the honesty and authenticity in the “exhorting, comforting, and charging.” Note that the Apostle and the other leaders did not subtly insert themselves into the lives of the new Christians. This was more deliberate and intentional discipleship than backyard barbeques and once-weekly meetings at Starbucks. The purpose of discipleship is not to make new believers feel comfy and cozy.

That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

I Thessalonians 2:12-13 (emphasis added)

These new believers received the Word of God more than the excitement of experiences, more than the external appearance of exuberant praise and worship, more than fun, food, and fellowship. Many folks will agree that the Word of God must be trusted at salvation, but then they abandon it, or don’t place the same importance on it. The Word of God is still of paramount importance after we are saved. It works “effectually” in those that believe.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

I Thessalonians 2:14-16 (emphasis added)

In the Millenial Temple Jewish people and gentiles will study the Word of God and worship together.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

I Thessalonians 2:17

Circumstances caused the Apostle and the other leaders to be physically separated from these new believers, but they longed to see them face to face. As Christians today, we need to physically attend church whenever possible so that we can see our brothers and sisters face to face.

In the Millenial Temple there will be no “separating wall.” In the Book of Acts we saw that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Paul because they thought he had brought Gentiles into the Temple.

If you are reading this, and you are a gentile Christian like me, I am not sure what we will be doing during the Millenial Reign. Perhaps we will have authority over certain regions (under King Jesus, of course). Perhaps we will have specific ministry- or worship-related tasks. It appears that we will not be “priests,” although that is what we are, in a sense, today.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

I Peter 2:9

There will be singers in the Millennial Temple.

And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.

Ezekiel 40:44

Perhaps some people in the Millenium – Old Testament saints, New Testament believers, Tribulation martyrs – will have glorified bodies. Perhaps there will be some Tribulation survivors with mortal bodies who will be subject to death. I suppose that babies born in the Millennium will be sinners who need to be saved. Apparently, Satan will be able to raise an army to oppose the Lord. The descendants of Zadok will be the ones who will serve as priests.

And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.

Ezekiel 40:46

“Zadok” means “righteous.” They will not shave their heads, nor allow their hair to grow too long.

Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.

Ezekiel 44:20

Ezekiel Chpaters 45-48 describe the geography of the Kingdom, not just the Temple.

There will be a “prince” under the Messiah.

And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof. Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince.

Ezekiel 48:21-22.

There will be 20 separate “Years of Jubilee” – one every 50 years for 1000 years.

There will be a river of life, which Ezekiel was shown in a vision. He was taken out of the north gate of the Temple because the east gate has been closed. His vision was highlighted by things like fertility in the desert, bountiful fruit, and leaves for medicine.

God’s Reason for His Delivery

August 26, 2010 at 9:57 am | Posted in Romans | 6 Comments
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The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans was written around A.D. 56. “A.D.” means anno domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord.” What we now know as the Book of Romans was written in Corinth and sent to Rome from there by Phebe.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Romans 1:1

Paul was a voluntary slave to Christ. All slaves serve their masters, but many slaves do not love their masters and question their orders. Paul served Christ willingly, and did not question His instructions.

The part of the Bible which is its main theme, and which we must not, as believers, get wrong, is the Gospel. It is the Gospel of God and of the whole Bible. Most people think of the “Gospels” as the first four books of the New Testament, but it is much more than that.

The Holy Spirit through Paul refers right away to the holy Scriptures – opening the Word of God.

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Romans 1:5

Paul had a mission. He was sent with grace and a special calling. With these gifts came his obedience to go to all “nations” (gentiles). What do we have that we can honor God with? Our obedience.

Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Romans 1:6

The Holy Spirit had Paul remind other believers that they were appointed – given a special commission. Let’s not waste time waiting around to receive our special “anointing.” God can find me wherever I am. I need to be busy taking the Gospel everywhere and reminding others to do the same, unless and until God leads me into some very specialized ministry. The “body” starts off as just one small cell. It gets more specialized as it develops. God is really the One Who owns “my” time.

In Romans 1:8-15, Paul expresses his love for the other Christians.

Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

Romans 1:13-14

He freely told them he was in debt to them – but also to many others. I need to remember that I owe a debt to God I can never repay. What if you discovered a cure for cancer? Would you anxiously start telling everyone, or would you keep it to yourself? When God revealed His Gospel to you by His Spirit, you discovered something far greater than the cure for cancer.

In verse 17, Paul begins to preach:

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17

This is the main theme of Romans Chapter 1, and, again, Paul preaches straight from the Word of God:

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

He now begins to explain where the Gentiles went wrong in relation to sin, and he shows that all are guilty before a holy God.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Romans 1:18-19

Unbelievers “hold” the truth, but do not allow it to have any effect in their lives. Sadly, the areas where sinful man first went wrong are the areas where we go just as wrong today.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Romans 1:26-27

I believe the King James version, cited above, is the best translation of these verses, which clearly condemn homosexual acts, but there are many modern Bible scholars who are trying to prove from the New Testament that the original languages didn’t condemn homosexual behavior. However, even in today’s liberal and disbelieving climate, there are still scholars who believe that the Bible passages on this topic are even more clear and more graphic than most fundamentalists believe. From Robert Jewett’s 2007 Romans commentary, here is his version of Romans 1:26-27: “For this reason, God delivered them to the desires of their hearts for passions of dishonor, for their females exchanged the natural use for the unnatural, and likewise also the males, after they abandoned the natural use with females, were inflamed with their lust for one another, males who work up their shameful member in other males, and receive back for their deception the recompense that is tightness in themselves.”

Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Romans 1:31

The Holy Spirit through Paul is speaking of people whose affections, desire, love, and “knowledge” were so far from God that He gave them over to a reprobate mind.

And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

Genesis 6:3

A reprobate mind is what happens when God’s Spirit is so grieved that He no longer strives with someone. Let us pray for the unbelievers we know that their hearts would not be hardened.

300

May 25, 2010 at 9:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Celebrating the 300th post on this site with a blast from the past:

Getting Ready To Swim

We live in a day and age when the fountain of God’s Word seems to be flowing in pitifully small, and rapidly drying, streams. By and large, the practice of the world is to stomp right past the cleansing fountain of the wisdom contained in the Bible, and to wallow instead in the muddy imaginations of man (II Corinthians 10:5). However, there is coming a day when “… the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). In that day, experienced “swimmers” will have an advantage. Having spent much time learning to maneuver in the cleansing water of the Word, some will not be shocked or afraid as the tidal knowledge of the Lord’s glory rises, and covers the whole earth.

Over the past few weeks, our S.W.I.M. lessons have looked at the competitive strokes of literal swimming, and applied them to spiritual truths found in Scripture. This week’s lesson will serve as a brief review:

  1. The Backstroke: True disciples of Christ will encounter opposition that will at times push them backward into troubled waters. The Bible’s solution to this situation is to look up to the Lord, and keep moving ahead. (Acts 27:41-44)
  2. The Breaststroke: God’s hands go forth from God’s heart, and the love of God will cause His hands to reach out and push away the encompassing enemies of His people as they humbly call upon Him. (Isaiah 25:11)
  3. The Butterfly: Some swimmers follow strict rules of form to appear graceful, when in fact they are thrashing violently beneath the surface. God is not impressed by a false show of outward beauty or self-righteousness. (Matthew 23:27-28 )
  4. The Crawl: Creeping and crawling is sometimes seen as a reason for scorn among the skeptical, but God has appointed to all things a time and an order. Just as there are nocturnal animals which creep forth at night because of the design of God, so also new believers in Christ Jesus must go through a period of spiritual crawling, before growing into walking and running. (Psalm 104:19-20)
  5. Freestyle: Competitive swimmers with the freedom to choose the stroke they want, will choose a style which allows them to swim most efficiently. Christians, striving for the prize of the high calling, see their freedom in Christ as an opportunity to do those things which are most profitable for the cause of Christ and the glory of God. (Galatians 5:1-7)
  6. The Dog Paddle: When new Christians begin to navigate the waters of spiritual maturity, they must be careful not to imitate, or pick up the bad habits of, those who would promote a “watered-down,” or ritual-based gospel. (Philippians 3:2)

Those who have believed on Christ Jesus in their hearts, and who have called upon the name of the Lord, must dive into God’s Word and learn to “see what it means” (S.W.I.M.). In His Word you will find reasons to be grateful, and promises and comfort for the coming storms.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

“Count Your Blessings,” Johnson Oatman Jr.

It’s Just Faith

July 28, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Eternity, Habakkuk, Romans, Salvation | 22 Comments
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If you have no real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if you have never received Him as your Savior, you are in a dangerous and deadly condition. According to the Bible, when God considers your eternal soul, lifted up before Him, it is not “upright.” In other words, you are not right before God, and you may not stand before Him and live.

How can this situation be rectified? What can you do to escape from eternal death, and receive eternal life? All praise to God, He has made a way! This way is called by some “justification.” Justification is the way that God makes the unrighteous righteous before Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

But what is the means by which you can receive this gift from God? Must you work for it? Must you pay for it? Can you inherit it from your earthly parents? Will men grant it to you if you join an organization or perform some rite of initiation? By no means! The only way to be justified before God Almighty is through faith.

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

Do you want to live? I mean live eternally? If so, you must transfer your faith from whatever it is currently in, and place it entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He paid the price for your sins on the Cross of Calvary, and that He died and rose again.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 4:5

John Piper Likes To “S.W.I.M.,” Too

February 11, 2009 at 10:50 am | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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Even though it is God who ultimately directs the steps of the leader, he should plan his path. A leader is not a jellyfish that gets tossed around by the waves, nor is he an oyster that is immovable. The leader is the dolphin of the sea and can swim against the stream or with the stream as he plans.

John Piper

There is coming a day when “… the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14) In that day, experienced “swimmers” will have an advantage. Having spent much time learning to maneuver in the cleansing water of the Word, some will not be shocked or afraid as the tidal knowledge of the Lord’s glory rises, and covers the whole earth.

Ministry Addict

Getting Ready to Swim

January 26, 2009 at 10:55 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming | 19 Comments
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We live in a day and age when the fountain of God’s Word seems to be flowing in pitifully small, and rapidly drying, streams. By and large, the practice of the world is to stomp right past the cleansing fountain of the wisdom contained in the Bible, and to wallow instead in the muddy imaginations of man (II Corinthians 10:5). However, there is coming a day when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). In that day, experienced “swimmers” will have an advantage. Having spent much time learning to maneuver in the cleansing water of the Word, some will not be shocked or afraid as the tidal knowledge of the Lord’s glory rises, and covers the whole earth.

Over the past few weeks, our S.W.I.M. lessons have looked at the competitive strokes of literal swimming, and applied them to spiritual truths found in Scripture. This week’s lesson will serve as a brief review:

  1. The Backstroke: True disciples of Christ will encounter opposition that will at times push them backward into troubled waters. The Bible’s solution to this situation is to look up to the Lord, and keep moving ahead. (Acts 27:41-44)
  2. The Breaststroke: God’s hands go forth from God’s heart, and the love of God will cause His hands to reach out and push away the encompassing enemies of His people as they humbly call upon Him. (Isaiah 25:11)
  3. The Butterfly: Some swimmers follow strict rules of form to appear graceful, when in fact they are thrashing violently beneath the surface. God is not impressed by a false show of outward beauty or self-righteousness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
  4. The Crawl: Creeping and crawling is sometimes seen as a reason for scorn among the skeptical, but God has appointed to all things a time and an order. Just as there are nocturnal animals which creep forth at night because of the design of God, so also new believers in Christ Jesus must go through a period of spiritual crawling, before growing into walking and running. (Psalm 104:19-20)
  5. Freestyle: Competitive swimmers with the freedom to choose the stroke they want, will choose a style which allows them to swim most efficiently. Christians, striving for the prize of the high calling, see their freedom in Christ as an opportunity to do those things which are most profitable for the cause of Christ and the glory of God. (Galatians 5:1-7)
  6. The Dog Paddle: When new Christians begin to navigate the waters of spiritual maturity, they must be careful not to imitate, or pick up the bad habits of, those who would promote a “watered-down,” or ritual-based gospel. (Philippians 3:2)

Those who have believed on Christ Jesus in their hearts, and who have called upon the name of the Lord, must dive into God’s Word and learn to “see what it means” (S.W.I.M.). In His Word you will find reasons to be grateful, and promises and comfort for the coming storms.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

“Count Your Blessings,” Johnson Oatman Jr.


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