Dear Saint at Redeemer,
As we launch into a new year, I’m reminded of the words of the author of Hebrews:
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. –Hebrews 13:7-8
For the last three years, at the beginning of each year, it has been our custom to do just that. I have the privilege of studying the life of a “hero of the faith,” and presenting the “outcome of their life” to you in the form of a biographical sermon that we call “Footsteps of the Faithful.” Our prayer is that you and I would imitate their faith, and be reminded that Jesus is the same, yesterday and today and forever. In other words, their Jesus is our Jesus. Thus far, we’ve considered the lives of George Whitfield and William Tyndale and I hope that you will join us this coming Sunday, we will study and learn from the life of Hudson Taylor.
Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) is often referred to as the founder of modern missions. He is best known for his work in founding the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship) which impacted China for the gospel in countless and supernatural ways. But, the focus of this Sunday’s message will not mainly be on facts and numbers, although those are astounding and worth careful consideration. The focus will be on Hudson Taylor’s private life. What was Hudson Taylor like as a man? What was he like behind closed doors? What role did prayer and dependence upon God play in his ministry? How did he deal with struggles and temptation? What can God teach us from his life? How can we be encouraged to press harder into Jesus in this new year by reflecting on the life of this saint?
I pray that you will join us this Sunday as we consider Moving Men by God–Inside the Life of Hudson Taylor. It has been a joy to study the life of such a witness to King Jesus. It was said of Taylor that he was “small in stature and far from strong. . .always facing physical limitations. . . But above all, he tested the promises of God and proved that it was possible to live a consistent spiritual life on the highest plane.” And that he did. Through tragedy, personal loss and setback after setback, Taylor’s joy and resolve only strengthened. How could this be? What was his secret? Join us this Sunday to find out. Pray that God would prepare you to set out this year to know Him like Hudson Taylor knew Him–a God that could and would provide for those who seek Him. . . That even when we are faithless, He is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). I’ll look forward to seeing you this Sunday at Redeemer!
Blessings in Him this New Year!
Jason Allison is a mastermind. His work has shown up on my blog before and will again. He’s creative, gospel-centered and really good at what he does. The video below is a great example of the quality of his work. He took a clip from a sermon I recently preached on the Lord’s Supper and. . . well check it out:
Jesus had been crucified on a cross, enduring the full wrath of Almighty God. He had been buried. Three days later He rose. He appeared to Mary, and then to his disciples. Then, while his disciples were gathered in a room, after Mary had given them the announcement that Jesus had risen, He appeared to them (when the doors were shut). He showed them his hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw Him. Then He said:
John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
So, the message of Christmas is not just that Jesus came, but that now He is sending. . . us. This December I will press pause on my sermon series through the Gospel of Mark, to take up, what Hudson Taylor so aptly coined as the Great Commission of Jesus. Each week, we will study a phrase from Matthew 28:18-20. The schedule is below:
December 4th—”We Are Sent.”
December 11th—“We Are Sent to Make Disciples.”
December 18th—“We Are Sent to Make Disciples of All the Nations.”
December 25th—”We Are Sent to Make Disciples of All the Nations, by the Power of the Spirit.”
I hope that you will pray with me for God’s blessing on the teaching of His word this Christmas at Redeemer and in all of our churches, for His glory.
This past weekend our church family had the opportunity to retreat together for our annual church Family Camp. This year our speaker was author, pastor and speaker Craig Cabaniss. Craig is the senior pastor of Grace Church in Frisco, TX. He is also a member of the leadership team of Sovereign Grace Ministries and a contributing author to the book Worldliness, recently published by Crossway. He and his wife Ginger have four children.
Over three sessions together, Craig walked through the book of Ruth considering “The Gospel According to Ruth.” The sessions can all be accessed at our sermon page at bcredeemer.org. Here’s an outline of Craig’s messages from Ruth:
Session 1: Grace and the Prodigal Daughter, Ruth 1:1-6
Session 2: God’s Grace to the Bitter and Rejected, Ruth 1:7–2:23
Session 3: God’s Redeeming Grace, Ruth 3-4
I can’t recommend these messages, or the ministry of Craig Cabaniss more highly. Take some time and listen to God’s story of grace in Ruth and be reminded of that story in your own life.
My favorite quote from the weekend summed up the book well: “Grace is always God’s last word to His people.” ENJOY!
How helpless are you? I bet the last time you worked up a resume, you didn’t list helplessness under the category of “strengths of the applicant.” I mean, how can helplessness be a strength? Isn’t it by definition a weakness? We pride ourselves on virtues like independence, resilience, inner strength, confidence and dependability. What about helplessness is attractive or useful? If you’ve noticed through our study of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus likes to turn things upside down. So, could it be that our greatest strength or asset on the journey of following Jesus is helplessness? Often the Kingdom turns our world around so that the first shall be last and losing your life actually saves it. Our text this week is no different. True strength, Jesus says is found in helplessness.
Jesus had just revealed His true glory on the Mount of Transfiguration to the inner three. They were however still very confused about his impending suffering and resurrection. Like Moses, coming down from Sinai, Jesus is met with a people plagued by unbelief. A crowd had formed, including the Scribes who were arguing with them. A man relayed the story of his son who was possessed with a spirit which made him mute and caused violent spasms. He brought the boy to the disciples but they could not cast the demon out. Jesus’ response was to categorize the entire generation as unbelieving! The boy is brought before Jesus and the father admits that he has doubts as to whether or not Jesus can heal him. Jesus declares that “all things are possible to him who believes.” The man begged for more faith–“help my unbelief!” Jesus commanded the demon to leave and the boy was rescued. When the disciples inquired about their inability to cast out the demon Jesus’ response was that “this kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” In other words, you weren’t helpless enough. You did not depend on the Father, but on yourselves.
This week, we will be considering this text with a message entitled, Mission Strategy: Prayer, from Mark 9:14-29. Have you ever run into a situation in your life that was so debilitating that no matter what you tried to do, it would not go away or get better? Imagine this man’s plight as a parent who’s son was tormented day and night by a demon who would throw him into violent convulsions and even into the fire? How helpless would you feel? How do you respond to situations like these? I think Jesus’ response to the disciples is one of the keys to prayer. We cannot make any progress in this life until we realize that WE cannot make any progress in this life. It must be God–his power, working through His Spirit, for His glory. If that is our understanding we simultaneously become helpless and incredibly strong. We become dependent upon God and lose our confidence in our own abilities. Is it possible that the thing that you are dealing with in your life is a mechanism that God is using to teach you to depend on Him? Are you helpless? Join us this Sunday as we seek to lay down our strengths and confidences and lean fully into Him.
The past Sunday, I made a decision (mid-sermon) NOT to include the following notes/observations about demons and the demonic influences that we’ve been observing in our study of the Gospel of Mark. So, I said that I would post those thoughts here for people to glance at.
*Most of my outline for this came from Wayne Grudem’s (helpful) chapter on Satan, Angels and Demons in his Systematic Theology.
Warning: don’t fall into the ditch on either side of the road—the ditches are over or under emphasis of Satan and Demons. Some might completely over emphasize the demonic and spiritual warfare to the point that EVERYTHING evil or sinful in their lives is directly attributed to a demonic attack or influence. Actually, the lion’s share of material in the NT pertaining to sin and evil flows from sin as a root cause, not the demonic. Relatively little material is devoted to Satan’s influence. However, the other ditch is just as devastating–demons are not real (you’re hokey if you think they do!) and we should grow up and live in a world that reality = what you see, hear, feel, taste and touch. That makes Satan’s day! Satan and demons are real and they are active today. We need to know this and know our Bibles so we know how to deal with them.
The Demonic Game Plan: Satan and demons seek to oppose and try to destroy every work of God. Satan tempted Eve to sin against God in the garden, tried to get Jesus to sin in the wilderness. Their tactics are lies, deception murder, and every their kind of destructive activity to cause people to turn away from God and destroy themselves. They even blind people to the gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Part of defeating and battling this enemy is to understand their plan of attack. . . and how to overcome it.
Demons are limited by God’s control and have limited power–(See the story of Job!) Demons cannot read our minds or know our thoughts, or know the future. Only Almighty God is omniscient. Demons can observe what goes on and study our lives and tempt and attack accordingly. (Occult, fortune tellers etc.)
Demons are active in the world today—If we believe that the Bible accurately gives an account of the world as it is (it does!), then we need to understand that demonic activity (perhaps to a lesser extent) is part of that reality. Our society is unwilling to admit the existence of demons (except maybe in primitive societies), but that is mainly due to a false sense of reality.
What About Demon Possession? What we see here in Mark, especially in chapter 5 (Gerasene Demoniac) seems to be an extreme case, but absolutely possible. In most cases, we should probably think about demonic attacks in terms of someone being demonized, or tormented by a demon. We would rule out this kind of thing happening to a believer, (no sin shall have dominion over us. . . the Holy Spirit indwells us), but there can be differing degrees of demonic attack or influence in the lives of believers. After all, Jesus was tempted by the Devil! Paul writes of a messenger of Satan given to him:
2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations,1 a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.
James encourages us:
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How can you recognize demonic influence? Wayne Grudem gives a few biblical markers:
*Bizarre and often violent actions (Gerasene Demoniac in Mark 5)
*Opposition to the gospel and preaching of the gospel (demons opposed to Jesus’ preaching)
Example: The boy in Mark 9—the spirit would seize him and dash him down, foam from the mouth, grind his teeth, threw him into the fire and water to destroy him. He violently convulsed when he came in contact with Jesus.
*Blatantly false doctrine claiming to be by the Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit…
*A Subjective Sense of the Demonic [Make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened!] This would be the ability to subjectively/objectively sense demonic activity . . . Paul writes of this gift:
1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits . . . .
GOOD NEWS: Jesus gives all believers authority to rebuke demons and command them to leave—see Mark 3:15.
Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
Acts 8:6-7 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
The basis for our authority over demons is found in the power of Christ on the cross. Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
[Our authority over demons is rooted in Christ and the Cross]
Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities1 and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
*You can listen to this sermon, “Who is Jesus, The Head of the Church,” in it’s entirety HERE.
This past Sunday at Redeemer, we had the joy of hearing Mr. David Joseph finish up our series on Proverbs entitled Questioning Wisdom, with an exposition of Proverbs 7. David’s sermon, “How Can You Live with Temptation?” is available online here and I highly commend it to you! David’s answer to the question posed by the title was threefold: How can you live with temptation?
1. We must grow in wisdom (verses 1-9)
2. We must recognize evil for what it is (verses 10-20)
3. We must think on the results of temptation (21-27)
You can listen to the entire Questioning Wisdom series (Proverbs 2-7) here.
As many of you know, we have been experiencing some technical difficulties over the past few weeks with our sermon audio. Unfortunately, the last two sermons preached at Redeemer (Chris Pope on Hebrews 1, and myself on Proverbs 2) were lost. However, we hope to have the problem corrected and it should not repeat itself.
Also our sermon player went down this week, so if you podcast, you’ve noticed that some of the sermons in May and all of June have disappeared. You can see an explanation here of what happened. Thankfully all of the sermons have been uploaded again (this should automatically update your podcast).
The newest sermon available from Redeemer is from John Thacker entitled Christ our Exemplar. I highly recommend that you listen and benefit from his work in Philippians 2:1-18.
Thank you for your patience and continued listening support of our ministry!