This evening I walked into the church office of the First Baptist Church in Clinton, LA where my Uncle is co-pastor and saw I paper taped on the wall. It was a prayer by John Piper for his church. I think it is amazing.
O Lord, by the truth of your Word, and the power of your Spirit and the ministry of your body, build men and women at Bethlehem . . .
Who don’t love the world more than God,
who don’t care if they make much money,
who don’t care if they own a house,
who don’t care if they have a new car or two cars,
who don’t need recent styles,
who don’t care if they get famous,
who don’t miss steak or fancy fare,
who don’t expect that life should be comfortable and easy,
who don’t feed their minds on TV each night,
who don’t measure truth with their finger in the wind,
who don’t get paralyzed by others’ disapproval,
who don’t return evil for evil,
who don’t hold grudges,
who don’t gossip,
who don’t twist the truth,
who don’t brag or boast,
who don’t whine or use body language to get pity,
who don’t criticize more than praise,
who don’t hang out in cliques,
who don’t eat too much or exercise too little;
who are ablaze for God,
who are utterly God-besotted,
who are filled with the Holy Spirit,
who strive to know the height and depth of Christ’s love,
who are crucified to the world and dead to sin,
who are purified by the Word and addicted to righteousness,
who are mighty in memorizing and using the Scriptures,
who keep the Lord’s Day holy and refreshing,
who are broken by the consciousness of sin,
who are thrilled by the wonder of free grace,
who are stunned into humble silence by the riches of God’s glory,
who are persevering constantly in prayer,
who are ruthless in self-denial,
who are fearless in public witness to Christ’s Lordship,
who are able to unmask error and blow away doctrinal haze,
who are tough in standing for the truth,
who are tender in touching hurting people,
who are passionate about reaching the peoples who have no church,
who are pro-life for the sake of babies and moms and dads and the glory of God,
who are keepers of all their promises, including marriage vows,
who are content with what they have and trusting the promises of God,
who are patient and kind and meek when life is hard.
Pressing for all there is in Christ,
As I was driving towards Shreveport this evening with my younger brother on our way to Bible study, I asked him to read me a psalm. He read Psalm 103. It is a very uplifting song of praise and I believes it hits a homerun with regards to the work of Christ. That is very interesting considering it is the old testament, hundreds of years before Christ would come. He is hitting the attributes of God and just exalting the very character of who God is. He is going through the righteousness, the goodness, the power, and the glory of God. And then comes verse ten. And verse ten is right in stride and definitely dealing with the innate character of God. But it is memorable.
Psalms 103:10, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”
Praise the Lord! That’s just about all I can say in response to that. Praise God. The longer I live and the more God shows me the deceit and wickedness in my own heart – the more I rejoice. I think that it is amazing, the gospel never grows old. I never get tired or telling or hearing the gospel. My heart leaps for joy every time I hear the name of Jesus. If you have ever seen the smallest glimpse of your own vile, filthy, wicked heart- you will never tire of hearing the gospel either.
He doesn’t repay us as we should be! Because we should be damned to hell a million times over for our sin. The wages of sin is death and you earned death. I earned death. I believe that we understand our depravity the more we will praise and glorify Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is not like a story that grows old. It’s not like the story about your friend almost getting in a car wreck that by the third time they start into it you stop them and say, “That’s alright. I’ve already heard the story. I don’t need to hear it again.”
Praise God for the good news that saves to the uttermost.
I spent the past few days at my parents house south of Natchitoches, LA- way out in the country. On Monday afternoon, Hurricane Gustav came and took our electricity out. It is actually still out today. We’ve been running on a generator that it powered by the PTO on the back of our tractor for a couple of days now. We have to give the tractor a break every few hours or it will overheat. During the first several hours without power I sat down with my Bible and a candle and began to read. I opened my Bible to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and started in.
After reading the entire book in a short period of time and then reviewing it all again, I came away with a great appreciation for just how sold-out, radical and on-fire Paul was. This man would do anything that he have the chance to witness to someone. He would do whatever it took to get around even the greatest obstacle. He would do anything to further the gospel. That impressed me.
In chapter nine, verse twelve he writes concerning the issue of eating food offered to idols, “Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” I think it would be the natural human tendency of most people to throw it back in the face of those who were offended and say, “Come one man, I have liberty in Christ – give me a break.” But that is not what Paul does. He says that he would willingly swallow his pride to keep from causing a brother to stumble. Rather, he says he would endure anything to keep from putting an obstacle in the way of the gospel.
Just a few verses down in that same chapter (9) he expounds on the same thought. He writes in verses 19-23, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” That is hardcore. That is radical. That is awesome. Read that through about five times.
Paul had his eyes fixed on Christ and the only thing that mattered to him was the gospel. He would do anything to be able to share the gospel with others. Read that passage again: “though I am free, I became a servant. To the Jews, I became a Jew. To the weak, I became weak. To those under the law, I became as one under the law. To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law. I have become all things to all people that I might save some.” That is incredible to me. And incredibly challenging. I start looking around at how little I share the gospel with others, how little I evangelize and I feel indicted. And rightly so.
Without a doubt, we should all have the same mindset that Paul has. We should be willing to give up all of our rights and all of our pride for the sake of the gospel. If God has shown us the darkness of our own hearts and the reality and completeness of the forgiveness we have in Christ, we should want to spend the rest of our lives telling others about Jesus. I don’t say this as though I have perfected the art. But rather, I am preaching to myself.
Two years ago, I came to Shreveport to attend a Hermeneutics class being taught by a Bible Scholar who directs a seminary in India. There I met several other young men who really had a passion for the Lord and a desire to spread the gospel. I was very impressed. These men invited my brothers and me to attend a Friday night Bible study with them. We came to their Bible study and were amazed. These men were truly “on fire” for the Lord. They had a seemly unquenchable desire to tell others the good news about the savior. I had never met anyone like them before in my life. But I knew that I needed the encouragement of brothers like that to challenge me and encourage me to “seek first the kingdom of God”. From that day forward we have attended the Friday night Bible study and now, two years later, we (my older brother and I) have an apartment in Shreveport and worship with them every Sunday and Wednesday as well. They constantly challenge me to have a passion for lost souls. And likewise, I challenge you: pray that God would give you a passion for lost souls.
They say that 150,000 people are dying each and every single day that goes by. Men are dying in their sin. Dying without Christ. We must tell them the good news. We must tell them that there is hope in Jesus Christ.