Thursday, December 29, 2011

Two Truths That Never Grow Old

As I look back over this year, I can easily share so much that has happened, and all that God has taught me. Yes, I could share all the joys, excitement, smiles, and such things. I could also share the pain, suffering, and tears that I've endured. All to say that God was in it all; every step and every second of it. Yet I'm not going to do that. Instead I'd like to share two bells that rung so loud at the beginning of the year, and ring ever so loud now as 2011 come to a close. Two truths that never grow old, and I pray that would always be in the forefront of my mind.

The two truths are: 1.) I'm a wretched sinner 2.) I have a scandalously merciful Savior

These 2 truths together create the Gospel! It's without a doubt that God reminded me of these two truths, in different degrees, daily throughout 2011. It was through the rough and hard circumstances and even the joyous and exciting moments that I found myself humbled yet also filled with joy in light of the Cross of my Savior, in which gazing upon, I see these two truths collide. The Gospel is what my life is all about! If I were to summarized to some one, whether they be a genuine follower of Christ or one who is still dead in their sins, I would share the Gospel. Why would I does this? Here's why:

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all , that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised- 2 Cor 5:14-15

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.- Gal 2:20

"The gospel is just not the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity; it is the pool itself."- J.D. Greear

"Hallelujah! All I have is Christ! Hallelujah! Jesus is my life!"- Jordan Kauflin

So it is the truth that I'm a wretched sinner, yet Christ died for me, that defines who I am. More so it defines my life. So it is these two truths- I'm a wretched sinner and I have a scandalously merciful Savior- that I need to be remind of daily, and I pray would continue, as I step into 2012, to consumed my mind & heart, being the very driving force of my life!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Bother With Theology?

Predestination, election, justification, substitutionary atonement, propitiation, and imputation. These are all things that come to mind when you hear the word theology. There are those who like to discuss, read about, and study theology, and there of course those who don't want anything to do with it.
For the first party, they are people who are drawn to theology. It catches their interests. It drives them into a deeper understanding and knowledge of events that surround the gospel. Then the latter party has little interest in theological matters. Why? Well from what I can gather is that theological terms like predestination for an example goes right over their heads. What do I mean? I mean that no matter how hard they try to understand, they just can't grasp it. Also there's a great deal of debate between calvinists and arminians; two groups of people that have opposing theological views on salvation and events relating to salvation. Those who have little interest in theology see this as pointless and turn away. There are without a doubt other reasons, I'm sure, that people in this party choose not to do much with theology, and I feel like that's alright.

Yet there are people who ask the question, "Why bother with theology?". They usually don't see a point studying and discussing theology. "Why not just keep it at Christ and Him crucified?" Let me give you several reasons why getting your feet wet in theology can be and is edifying, beneficial, and even in some instances, important.

1. It's Biblical- Yes the terms "election" and "predestination" are in the Bible. They both can be found in the books of Romans, the most theological of Paul's epistles. Predestination in chapter 8 and election in chapter 9. Other terms like imputed righteousness, justification, and substitutionary atonement can be found, but are not in plain sight in their original terms like election and predestination are. You just have to look closely at passages that explain those terms. Like justification can be found in the famed 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." You can also find imputation in there as well too. So what's my point here? These theological terms and others are found in the Bible, so they are worth looking into. More so I would dare say that they are important to deal with and wrestle with.

2. Deeper Understanding of the Gospel- I know in my time of studying and reading up on justification or substituationary atonement has given me a deeper understanding of the gospel itself. As you dig deeper into the gospel these theological terms will come up and as you explore what these terms (and others) mean and how they all work within the gospel, then you will in turn grow deeper in knowledge and understanding of the gospel.

3. Humility- It's humbles me knowing that Jesus hung in my place, taking the punishment that I so justly deserve. In my place condemned He stood (Substitutionary atonement). Also that my sins were imputed to Him, and His righteousness imputed to me, therefore giving me legal right standing before God (Justification). As I meditate on these and other theological terms that relate to the gospel, I can't but help but be driven to my knees in humility over such grace & mercy that come from Him. That I don't deserve. Woe is me! For I'm a wretch! I'm a sinner! But Jesus died for me!

4. Thanksgiving & Gratitude- As I grow in a deeper understanding and knowledge of the gospel (in light of growing in the knowledge of theology), it cause thanksgiving and gratitude flow out from me to God for His glory. Expressing in word and deed how thankful I am for such a great salvation that I've been given, that I don't deserve.

5. Praise & Worship- Then it also compels me to worship and praise to God for His love, grace, and mercy. To worship a God who in His love would send His Son to come die in the place of wretched sinners like you and me. To worship a God who has chosen me before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him, and to be adopted in His family. For He is worthy of our worship and praise that we lift up to Him.

You can probably think of other reasons of why it's worth getting your feet wet in biblical doctrine and theology. Of course I touch only on soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), because that's the doctrine that relates to the gospel more than any other doctrine, at least I think so. There are others like eschatology (the end times) for example. Yet whether you were skeptical about getting your feet wet in theology, or you have dove right in already, I hope that your the time you spend looking into and studying theology is fruitful, beneficial, and God-glorifying. Most importantly that it will cause you to fall deeper in love with such an incomprehensibly GREAT God that we serve, and to savor and treasure Him above all else! For that it what I'm aiming for as I explore deeper into biblical doctrine. He is worthy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

In My Place Condemned He Stood

For the past couple weeks I've been meditating on and marveling at the beautiful biblical truth of substitutionary atonement.

As the song goes: In my place condemned He stood!"

To look at it personally just leaves me humbled and in joy! In light looking at the depth of my sin and depravity, and what I deserve. Then to see how Jesus known as the spotless lamb (1 Pet 1:19) hanging on the cross bearing my sins (2 Cor 5:21 & 1 Pet 2:24), taking the punishment that was due me, taking the wrath I deserved! Isaiah 53, the most well known prophecy in the whole of Scripture hit home on Christ's subsitutionary death.

But he was wounded for our transgressions:
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that
brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned- every one- to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (vs. 5-6)

You can see how I made it where you can see how Jesus took what we deserved!
And here's how I see it:

Jesus Christ
The perfect & spotless lamb
Bore my sins on that cross
He took the cup
My hell
My punishment
The wrath
That was reserved for me
He died in my place
The Righteous for the unrighteous
The Holy for the unholy
The Just for the unjust
The Innocent for the guilty
The beloved Son of God for the Child of wrath
To show love towards the one who hatred-filled rebel
To have mercy and forgive
A wretch & sinner!
It leads me to shout, sing, and proclaim
"Oh what LOVE!"

I can spend all day just telling you the beauty and riches of the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. But I just hope and pray that what I just shared will cause you to be humbled, and rejoice singing, "In MY place condemned HE stood! Hallelujah! What a Savior!"

grace & peace

Monday, September 12, 2011

This has become a desire of mine as of late. And a prayer.

Dear Father
May the songs I sing
And listen to
The books I read
And the things I write
Even the sermons I listen to
The conversations I have
And the time I spend
With family & friends
Every event I particpate in
From weddings to funerals
From meetings to parties
And every sort of gathering
With the body of Christ
Every sunrise and sunset
Every starry night sky
All the times of laughter, joy, & excitement
All the times of pain, tears, & suffering
All the highs
All the lows
Every breath-taking & awe-inspiring moment
And everything else
Big, small, & inbetween
Cause me to fall deeper in love with You
Use these things
Use whatever You will
To draw me closer to You
So that I may adore You
More & more
In the light of Your
Beauty, majesty, splendor, radiance, & glory

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Change of Heart

Ever since my senior year of highschool a passion to be a missionary to the unreached has burned within me. To be a missionary is what I'm aiming for and pursuing. It wasn't long ago though I very narrow-minded about it. Let me explain.
Before the whole idea of the possibility of moving down to Louisville, I was lost and in despair. With going to school or taking any classes, working, living at home, and hanging with friends, I was beginning to get restless. I have this passion and aim of being a missionary, but I felt like I was stuck., and I cried out to God, asking Him to lead & guide me. During that time whenever I would share my plight with friends they would say something like this: "Well Josh, God could very well be calling you to stay, and send others." I would kindly reject that idea by replying, "No, God has given me a passion to be a missionary, and besides I can't see myself doing anything else." Yea I completely understood that they were trying to be a help, and I did and still do appreciate it. Yet my heart stayed unmoved by the whole matter.
Matt, a good friend of mine one evening, as I was over at his place, he reminded me that God's mission to reach every nation (people group) will be accomplished! "God promises that in his Word", he said. Even John Piper is well of that.

"The mission to make disciples of all nations will succed"~ John Piper

The Scriptures, especially the Psalms, make it clear that His missions to make disciples of all nations will come to pass.

"All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all families of the nations shall worship before you"~ Psalm 22:27

"I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."~ Isaiah 49:6

"All the nations that you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name."~ Psalm 86:9

Of course there are a good handful more of verses that display the promise, or you can say guarantee that His mission will come to pass. So what does this have to do with me and my desire and aim of being a missionary?
Well during my trip to Flagstaff, AZ earlier this summer with 25 other, to host a vbs for the Navajo, He gave me a change of heart towards the whole matter of missions. He open my eyes to the need here in the U.S., of how there definitely is a great need here! I can here Him saying, "Josh, my mission of making disciples of all nations will come to pass, whether I send you out as a missionary, or I call you to stay here and send others."
Now the crazy thing is that day by day I can more easily see what I would be doing if He just so happens call me to stay here and send others. Not to say that He has, or that I'm not still pursuing on being sent out to a people in Asia or Northern Africa to reach them with the Gospel of Christ, but if He does call me to stay and be one who sends, then I wouldn't lose heart or despair. I have that desire to be used in His mission, and I know He will. I know that either way the life I live won't be wasted.
His mission cannot fail, indeed it will not! All nations will be before Him on that Day, in reverence and awe of the glory & radiance of His presence and worship Him forever!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

May I Not Forget the Cross

Dear Father
May I not forget
What happened at Calvary
May I never lose sight
Of what took place
At the Cross
When Jesus
The spotless Lamb
The innocent One
The Son of the Most High
Took my place
Hanging there as my substitute
Bearing my sins
Recieving the punishment
That I justly deserve
Asorbing the wrath
That was reserved for me
Crushed and slain
The innocent for the guilty
The just for the unjust
The righteous for the unrighteous
So that I can be forgiven
And set free
From the bondage of sin
So that I can be redeemed
And reconciled to You
So that You can be recieve the glory
So that I can behold Your beauty
And enjoy You forever
So yes may I never forget
The Cross
May I be reminded of it daily
May I preach it to myself daily
May I be humbled by it
Ever so thankful
May it be my only boast
May it be my heart's song
May it be what compels me
To keep pressing on
Consuming my heart & mind
May it captivate & mesmerize me
Drawing me nearer to You
Causing me to savor & treasure You
Above all things
Causing me to fall deeper
In love with You, my God

Monday, July 25, 2011

All For Christ and All About Christ: Friends (My brothers & Sisters in Christ)

It definitely has been amazing to see God working in the relationships He's given me with friends, all my brother's and sisters in Christ! My love for them all has grown so much as the years have come and gone. There have been times of laughter, grief, smiles, tears, late nights, early mornings, jamming with instuments, board games, road trips, prayer, worshipping & praising God, studying & sharing Scripture, deep conversations about Christ & the Gospel, sharing the Gospel of Christ, and so much more. The memories are unforgettable! I'm thank God so very much for blessing me with godly & Christlike friends. They have and continue to be a blessing and encouragement to me in Christ!
Yet there has been something that I've been thinking about off and on lately. Or I can say that it is the ultimate aim I have in regards to the relationships I have with my friends, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. My aim is this: That my relationships with my friend be all for Christ and all about Christ. Let me elaborate. I find joy in and delight in seeing my friends having joy and delighting in Jesus, the Gospel, God, and the Scriptures; it makes me smile and encourages me to hear what God has been teaching them in His Word, seeing them grow more into the image of Christ, and hunger for more of Him! I love it!
I can have those time of laugther, late nights, joking around, playing board games, and all that; yet if Christ is missing in the relationships I have with my friends, then these friendships would hardly be anything. They would all be for just selfish gain. So my ultimate desire in my relationships with my friends is to see them savoring and treasuring Christ above all else, and that God would use me to fuel that passion in their hearts for more of Christ in their lives!

This is my prayer in regards to me and my friends, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ:

That I'd be selfless, humble and meek towards them. Being lowly and servant-like when around them. That I'd be I'd be a blessing, joy, and an encouragement in Christ when I'm with them. Always exlating Christ in my attitude, motives, intentions, conversations, and overall interactions towards them. Seeking to build them up and point them to Christ. Reminding them of God's promises that are in His Word. Wanting my time with them to be filled with Christ. Encouraging them to keep pressing on toward the goal (Phil 3:14), keep fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12), keep running the race with endurance (Heb 12:1), with their gaze fixed on Christ! Oh that my relationship with them be all for Christ and all about Christ!

Friday, July 1, 2011

All For Christ and All About Christ: Facebook

Facebook........a social networking site that millions of people around the world invest their time on. MANY use it for their own pleasure and amusement, wasting hours upon hours on it. While VERY FEW use it to display and exalt Christ.
Now I ask you this question; What do you use facebook for? Do you use it for your own pleasure and amusement? Or do you use it to display and exalt Christ? Take a moment and think about it. Seriously.
For many many people facebook is an idol. They would spend half or even most of their day on it. Wasting their time on it. As a child of God, a follower of Christ; do you find yourself as one of those people who waste 7 to 8 hours on facebook a day? And do you use it just to goof around with others on it? Has it become an idol in your life? Just another thing that is keeping you from God?
I will admit I am one of those people who struggle with facebook. More so, I just don't know when to get off. Some people I know, dear friends of mine only get on 2 to 3 times a week. I'm jealous of those people. But I am aiming at just getting on only twice a week. For what purpose? To display and exalt Christ, to proclaim the gospel to those who don't know Him, and encourage and build up my beloved brothers & sisters in Christ! Namely I want my time on facebook to be all for Christ and all about Christ. Consider what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:15

and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raise-- 2 Cor 5:15

Then consider what he says earlier on in the chapter in verse 9

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him-- 2 Cor 5:9

When we spend 5 minutes or an hour on facebook, is our aim focused on pleasing Him or ourselves?

Also let us not waste time on facebook, becasue as follwers of Christ we are called to live a life for Him, a life that is oh so difficult. We are called to fight the good fight (1 Tim 6:12), run with endurance the race set before us (Heb 12:1), and let us press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14). The time we waste on facebook, is time that could be spent being used by God, being poured out for the sake of Christ and the gospel. Time that could be spent whether on the streets of downtown Indy or in a small village in Uganda or China reach the lost with the Gospel of Christ!
Now I'm not saying that we all should get rid of facebook to do the work we have been called to do in Christ (although if you feel led to do so then I commend you for that), but what I'm saying get off facebook and long to be poured out and used for the glory of our God! And seek to use facebook for sake of Christ and the gospel, and for building up and encouraging the body of Christ! May it be all for Christ and all about Christ! He died not so that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for Him!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Loving Others As Yourself.

So I've been reading a book by John Piper (again) entitled, "What Jesus Demands from the World". I've been enjoying this thick book, which has been thought-provoking, challenging, and insightful. Piper goes through 50 demamds that Jesus gives through the gospels, primarily sticking with the gospels for scriptural support.
There is one previous demand that has really been insightful and thought-provoking above all the rest that I've read through. It is demands #33 in the book; entitled, "Love Your Neighbor With The Same Commitment You Have To Your Own Well-Being". Here Piper explains what Jesus means when He says "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt 22:39).
We read and heard this command plenty of times before, but do we really know what this means? Seriously? I found it profound what Piper had to say about this! I don't wanna share the whole chapter with ya'll, but I will share somethings that Piper says in the chapter that I found precious.
First Piper explains what Jesus means by "as yourself", by saying how we love ourselves, and long for self-presevation and self-fulfillment.

"All of you have a poweful instinct of self-preservation and self-fulfillment. You all want to be happy. You all want to live, and to live with satisfaction. You want food for yourself. You want clothes for yourself. You want a place to live for yourself. You want protection from violence against yourself. You want meaningful or pleasant activity to fill your days. You want some friends to like you and spend som time with you. You want your life to count in some way. All this is self-love. Self-love is the deep longing to diminish pain and to increase happiness." (Piper, pg. 257, What Jesus Demands from the World)

Piper goes on to say as Jesus would say that this self love is natural, and is something that all humans have in common. It's something that God has created. So it's not wrong. Then he goes on to say that this is the same way that we are to love our neighbors.

"As you long for food when you are hungry, so long to feed your neighbor when he is hungry. As you long for nice clothes for yourself, so long for nice clothes for your neighbor. As you work for a comfortable place to live, so desire a comfortable place to live for your neighbor. As you seek to be safe and secure from calamity and violence, so seek comfort and security for your neighbor." (Piper, pg. 258, What Jesus Demands from the World)

He goes in in this sort of pattern, but I stop there because I think you get idea of what he's saying. As followers of Christ we find for ourselves satifaction, comfort, security, happiness, and peace in Christ alone. So in light of Jesus' command to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are to long and desire that our neighbor find those same things in Christ as well. When I take it to a more personal level, I say it like this:

I long and desire to see my dear friends and beloved brothers and sisters in Christ be happy and content in Christ. Seeking and chasing after Him, becuase they are madly in love with Him. Doing everything they can to make sure that Jesus is the very foundation or their their joy, peace, strength, and satisfaction. Living lives that are centered around Jesus, exalting and magnifying Him. That Christ is who they lives for, and who their lives are about. Unashamedly proclaiming, "All I have is Christ! Jesus is my life!"

This is not something that is easy for me to live out. It involves killing pride, and cultivating humility, which isn't easy of course ( see Philippians 2:3-4). Yet this is how I long to love my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then to also love those who don't know Christ as their Lord and Savior, namely the lost. To love in the same way. A way that displays Christ, and proclaims the gospel truth, so that they may be saved and have the same love and desire for Christ that those who are already in Christ have.

Like I've said before, this has been thought-provoking and challenging to me. It's a command that I want to do my best to obey. A command that I want to bring to your guys' attention and encourage you all to do the same and be obedient to our Lord and Savior Jesus' command. If we love Him, then we'll keep His commandments.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

To Be Consumed With Christ!

I long to be consumed with Christ!
I long to see His face
And to hear His voice
To daily deny myself
And submit myself to His rule
To everday decrease
So that He may increase
To faithful and obedient
To His commands
To make Him known
To those who've never heard
And to exalt Him
Displaying Him in all beauty, glory, and radiance
So that those who reject and rebel against Him
May repent and believe in Him
And no longer live for themselves
But for Him
Who for their sake died and was raised
I long to chase after Him
To go hard after Him
To please Him
And do all things for His glory
To savor and treasure Him
Above all else
To have Him at the center
Of every choice and decision
To have His glory and fame
Be the source of all my intentions and motives
To have Him fill every nook and cranny of my life
So that all may see
Who my life is about
And Who I live is for
Jesus...........enough said!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Disappointed With Myself

As of late I have been disappoited with myself. I looked at the fact that I'm not currently in college and other such things in my life, and couldn't help but be disappointed with myself. If only I could've done this or that better or differently then it wouldn't be this way right now. I guess the old sins of self-pity and discontentment that I've also been struggling with lately could have been the spring board for the self-disappointment. After being stuck of not going anywhere for about 2 years post-highschool I was getting restless; and with the wheels not turning there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Yesterday as I was driving home with my mother from picking her up from work, it was raining like crazy! My mother was tired, and not in the best mood, and my driving wasn't helping that. Not to say that my driving at the time was bad, but apparently she just wasn't comfortable with my driving. So against my will she had mne pull over so that could take over driving. I wasn't happy about that, becasue I felt like at that moment she was pretty much saying that my driving was pitiful, and it got in the mood of being disappointed. Not only with that, but a lot of other things. I just felt disappointed with myself in regards with a lot of things that have happened in my life. Yet as I thought more and more of this, I couldn't help but become not only disappointed with myself, but angry as well. Why would I be angry with myself? Well I think only healthy reason to be angry with self is because of sin.
Yep, it sure was crazy how it took a twist from being diappoited with myself in a negative, putting-myself-down kinda way to being disappointed with sin. I started to look at things that have gone wrong in the past, a messes that that I've made, and became more disgust with my sin. It all reminds me of Paul in Romas 7 where he is expressing the struggle between the good he wants to do but doesn't do it, and the bad he doesn't want to do but keeps commiting. "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (Rom 7:15). Here in verse 7 expresses how he is not doing the good he wants to do, and is doing the opposite, what he hates, namely sin.
I can relate to Paul here, because quite frankly I'm getting sick of committing the sin I hate, and not doing the good that I want to do. Looking back how the messes that my sin has created, and how it makes me act makes me grow more in hatred toward it. This is how it should be. Growing in hatred against sin, and in desire to do good. Or better yet growing more in love with with Christ and all things that relate to Him!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jesus Is My Provider!

What come to your mind when you here the statement, "God provides"? Maybe it might be when God provided a car for you when you needed it, or possibly when he provided meals for you when you went through through that season of no job and very little income, or how about when you needed a kidney transplant an d someone from your church who was a perfect match offered one of his kidneys. We can all probably smile and look back in our lives to see how God has provided for us in many ways, thankful that we have a God who always provides for His people.

Although I want to remind you of the best way God has provided for us. He provided salvation through the blood of His beloved Son Jesus! Let me break it down.

First I want refresh you all of the picture of how God provided for us through the death of Jesus, His Son, at Calvary by looking at Genesis 22 of where God commands Abraham to offer his only son, Isaac, as a burnt offering on one of the mountains in the land of Moriah. So Abraham does as he is commanded. In verse Isaac asked his father, Abraham, where the lamb for the burnt offering is, and Abraham replies to his son, by saying "God will provide for Himself , the lamb for a burnt offering my son." (vs. 8). Quite amazingly, Abraham trusts that God will provide a lamb for the burnt offering. Then going onward to verse 10 after Abraham has bound his son on the altar, he raises his hand, with the knife in it, to kill his son......stop. Right here we see Abraham being exactly obedient to God, following through with what God has commanded him to do. Now just add a sidenote, The whole chapter of Genesis 22 displays the parallel of Abraham's obedience to God and Jesus' obedience to God. Quite awesome right? Let's move on though, picking up at verse 11. In verse 11 an angel of the Lord stops Abraham from killing his only son, and says this, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." After this Abraham looks up to see a ram caught in a thicket. So he goes to offering it as a burnt offering instead of his only son. He calls the place "The Lord will provide". So what we see in Genesis 22 is Abraham's obedience and God's provision. That is pretty much the theme of the whole chapter.

So how does this parallel with Jesus sacraficial death at Calvary? Well first of all we see Jesus' perfect obedience to the Father. He was obedient to point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). Jeus perfectly kept God's law, which we have failed to keep. He was obedient to the Father throughout His whole time on then earth, never once did but He rebel against the Father. If He did, then his sacrifice for us on the cross would've been insufficient and pointless. This is why Jesus is know as "the Lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Pet 1:19). This parallels with Abraham in Gen 22 in where he was obedient to God every step of the way, even to the point of where he was about to kill Isaac, his only son whom he loved. Then noticed the more bigger picture of how, a different paralell in both scenes. God provides. In Genesis 22, God provides a ram that Abraham offers as a burnt offering. Then in the gospel we see how Jesus is not only the one who is offering the sacrifice, but is Himself the sacrifice. Remeber the O.T. system the Jews had of offering sacrifices yearly for the forgiveness of sins? There would be a high priest who would perform the offering in the most holy place for his sins and the sins of the people. Yet at the cross Jesus offers Himself as the final sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. "He entered once and for all into the holy places , not by the means of the blood of goats and calves but by the means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." (Heb 9:12). Here God provides the perfect sacrifice once and for all for the forgiveness of sins, and it is by the blood of Jesus, His beloved son.

So the title is: Jesus is my Provider. How? Well we as sinner cannot in and of ourselves provide the forgiveness of sins, just like the the O.T. sacrificial system couldn't (sufficiently) provide forgiveness of sins. We as sinners cannot provide the rescue from the punishment we deserved, which is hell and God's wrath. For we have sinned against an infinitely holy and righteous God, and have broken His law. All the good things we do cannot make up for the sin we have commited against God. All of our rigtheous deeds are just filthy rags in God's eyes (Is 64:6). So since He is perfectly just, He would have to give us what we desrve, which is hell for an eternity. Yet since God is also a loving and mercriful God, He sent Jesus His son to die in our place, taking the wrath that was reserved for us. Justice is satisfied, and we are forgiven of our sins. S

Thus Jesus is my Provider, and your Provider through His death on the cross, and His ressurection 3 days later.

Through His death and resurrection, Jesus provides rescue from hell and the wrath of God

Through His death and resurrection, Jesus provides freedom from the bondage of sin

Through His death and ressurection, Jesus provides healing from the disease of sin

And it goes on and on.

May we reflect upon this, and be thankful to God that through the blood of Christ that was shed for our sake, Jesus has become our Provider in these things. To Him be the glory, honor, and praise forevermore. Amen.

So may we reflect on this glorious truth, and be ever thankful of to God for providing these things for us through Jesus Christ. He is our provider

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jesus Is My Everything

Before I was in Christ, I lived for myself, and myself only. I was King, and Lord. I was in the driver's seat, I was calling the shots, and I was running the show. I found temporary joy and satisfaction in my sin, and passions of the flesh. I was decieved that my own good works would get me into heaven. I believed that I was free, living in my sin, but blind to reality that I was enslaved to it. I was blind to the fact that living in my sin, would lead my to hell. I was just soaking it all in. My life was about me.

Yet, Jesus' death on the cross, and resurrection 3 days later radically change all that! My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Christ. I live for Him, because of Him.

Now Jesus is:

my joy
my peace
my contentment
my hope
my delight
my strength
my light
my wisdom
my song
my rock
my refuge
my rescue
my sustainer
my comfort
my freedom
my healer
my redeemer
my salvation
my assurance
my righteousness
my restorer
my mediator
my substitute
my salvation
my provider
my passion
my sanctification
my redemption
my boast
my one love
my reward
my treasure
my Savior & Lord
my life
my all in all

Oh, Hallelujah! All I have is Jesus
Hallelujah! All I need is Jesus
Hallelujah! All I want is Jesus!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Our Salvation Is Not Complete?

I read chapters 8 and 9 of Hebrews last night, and I must say there some neat stuff in these 2 chapters. Yet I was struck, or inasmuch reminded of something that I saw in vs. 28 of chapter 9. So Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him-- Hebrews 9:28 Now look at the last part of the verse is what struck me. We are eagerly awaiting His second arrival so that we can be saved. So what does that mean? Didn't Christ already save us? Didn't He already save us from God, namely the cup of His wrath, and from the curse of sin we were under? He certainly has. But why is coming again to save us? What from? His suffering and death on the cross was sufficient. He appeased the Faher's wrath, the same wrath that was reserved for us; so he certainly isn't coming again to save us from the Father's wrath, because He already did so. So what does He have to save us from this time? To answer I go to Romans 7. Starting in verse 15 onward Paul is expressing a struggle that's going on inside of him. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate (vs. 15). Then go a bit further a couple verses, For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (vs. 19). Yet we have to be sure not to miss what Paul says near the end of the chapter. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (vs. 24) The he goes on to answer his own question the following verse which concludes the chapter. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (vs. 25a).
So there it is! The answer to our question earlier. This body of death that we're still in is what Jesus is gonna save us from when He arrives again. When He comes again, He is going to tranform our lowly, eathly bodies to be like His glorious body (Phil 3:21). We are still in the flesh, therefore we are prone to wonder, still prone to sin. The first time Jesus came, he did so to die on the cross, and rise 3 days later from the grave, thus saving us. This doesn't mean that we no longer sin. No! He saved us from the Father's wrath (which we justly deserve) and the curse of sin the first time. Which means is that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Also that we are no longer dead in our sin, and slaves to sin (see Romans 6). Sadly there are those who believe that once they are saved that they are sinless, meaning that they will sin no more, but that doesn't come to accord with the Scriptures, namely what Paul says in Romans 7.

Let me remind you of the resposibility we have of fighting sin and the desires of the flesh. Before we were in Christ, we loved to sin. We were basically swimming in it. Now that we are in Christ we have a new heart with new desires. We no longer desire to do evil, committing sin after sin. We now have a hatred for sin, but despite that we are still prone to it, cause we are still in then body of death. We are called to put to death what is earthly in us (Col 3:5), and put on the new self created in the likness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24).

So let me conclude with a word on encouragement to you all, my brotehrs and sisters. Keep pressing on toward the goal (Phil 3:14), and fighting the good fight of faith ( 1Tim 6:12). Going all out in the war against sin, cling to Christ, our hope, who is coming again for us. On that day my dearly beloved our salvation will be complete! Oh what glorious day it will be!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Can't Keep Silent!

The Great Commission is a command, not a choice. We're all called as followers of Christ to preach the gospel to every creature. We can't keep silent!

Why should I be selfish?
To keep Christ to myself?
To keep silent of His redemptive work at Calvary?
While millions near and far never heard!
While every second more than a handful of people die without hearing the Good News!
They walk into hell to spend an eternity in outer darkness and unspeakable torment!
Such terror, such tragedy!
I can't find any reason or excuse not to proclaim the gospel!
To lost here in my own city, and the unreached in places like Somalia!
So may I not only do so out of obedience
But more so out of love! Love for the lost and unreached.
And most of all because I love you, my Lord my God!
So may I die to self daily! To be selfless,
And count other more significant than myself!
To become less, so You may become greater!
To face hardships, trials, suffering, and persecution,
For the sake of the lost,
And for the sake of Christ & the gospel!
May they be saved, and may You be glorified!
I'm willing to die so they may live!
Yes, I'm willing to disappear,
So You may appear in and through me!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Will I Stay or Go?

Paul Washer, founder of Heart Missionary Society and preacher has said this about missions:

You are either called to go down into the well

Or hold the ropoe for those who go down

Either way there will be scars on your hands

Back in October last year, I had an invasive surgery on my vocals chords in hope that it will improve my voice. Thankfully it did, but not as much as I dreamed it would. My voice is now different from what is was before the surgery back in October, namely it is more understandable than it was before. The result was that family friends , coworkers, and anybody else who was around me during a weekly basis could notice the improvement. Despite this it still is quite rough still, and not the best it could be. Yet I know that if the Lord, He can heal my voice completely in blink of an eye.

I say this because a couple days ago one of my best friends told me that my voice is the only thing that is hindering me from being sent out into the mission field, at least what I desire to do out in to mission field which is evangelism/church planting. For about 4 years I've had a burning passion to go and preach the gospel to the lost, to proclaim Christ to those who haven't heard. There have been long nigths of prayer for the lost and unreached, and plenty of tears shed for their sake. My heart achces for them!

Yet, for my friend to tell to consider staying and sending others to go instead of me going myself as a missionary, due to my compromised voice, was a blow to me at first. Now to be sure I wasn't enraged at my best friend, but I was....confused. Certainly he knows how strong my passion is for the proclomation of Christ and the gospel, and my heart for the lost & unreached. Though I after a couple times of hearing the same thing he just told me, it did hit me; "My voice is pretty compromised.......what if that is the Lord calling me to to stay, and be the one who holds the rope for the one who goes down into the well?" Now this is something I will probably struggle with for a while.

My heart is set on being a missionary, the one who goes down into the well; that is what I will continue to pursue, despite what my friend told me to consider. I do appreciate his advice and suggestions, and I always will, cause I love my dear friend. I am also well aware that both sending and going are equally important, and there will be scars on my hands either way. Nonetheless I will pursue being a missionary despite my compromised voice. At the end of the day I want the Lord's will to be done not my own. So whether I stay or go, may His will be done and may He be given all the praise and glory!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I've Hidden Your Word in My Heart

My dear friends and beloved brothers & sisters,

As of late I've been focusing on memorization, scripture memorization to be exact; and I must say too, that I've come to enjoy it oh so much. Yet...why? Why spend time memorizing scripture? Well I'll give you my aim for memorizing scripture.
If I were just to memorize a couple verses or 2 chapter, and be done with it then why bother wasting the time just doing that? I would more than likely have selfish motive if I were to just shoot for that, and become puffed up with pride. Listen it would be just plain foolish to just memorize scripture just to boast about how you cite 1 Corinthian 13 or the whole book of Ephesians by heart, all out of selfish gain. So I say this to assure you that the aim for memorizing scripture is won't one of self, but all for the glory of God, and the exaltation of Christ! So that we won't boast in ourselves, but in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Oh that we grow more in Love with Christ, longing for more of Him. To savor and treasure Jesus above everything else. Let me put it in my own words:

My aim for memorizing scripture is to not only grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), but to also work out my own salvation with fear and trembling (Philppians 2:12b) and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, (Colossians 1:10a).

So in order, I read it, memorize it, meditate on it, and then live it out. For we are called to be doers of the word, and not hearers only(James 1:22).
I encourage you to do the same, with the aim of bringing glory to God, to exalt Christ, and grow more in love with Him! I'm working on memorizing 2 Corinthians 4 & 5; 2 amazing chapters, so if you'd like you can join me in memorizing them. Let me know!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What Shall I Aim For?

We're in the 2 month of 2011, and I found out I want to aim for this year. It two separate things that connect together:

1.) Growing in the knowledge of Christ, the Gospel, and the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:18)

2.) Living out my salvation (Philippians 2:12b)

In 2010 the Lord has given me knowledge of His Word and Himself. He gave me some points of theology to wrestle with, awakened me to sin that I was blind to, gave me understand of some passages of Scripture, and led and taught me His ways. The Lord continues to teach and reveal to me what He wills, and I hunger for more knowledge of Him and His holy Scriptures.
Yet the Lord has also impressed upon my heart to not only grow in knowledge of these things, but to also live out what I know and preach. He has reminded me that it's one thing to know and preach, but it's very different in living it out.

Here are some passages of Scripture that come to mind when I think about this.

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12b)

"The scribes and the pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe all that they tell you- but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. (Matthew 23:2-3)

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (James 1:22)

These verses remind me that the Christian life is not all about knowing, but about living as well. We were created in Christ to do good works(Ephesians 2:10). We are to abide in Christ, and bear fruit. Our faith apart from works is as dead as....roadkill. So I ask you the same question that I asked myself: Are you living? Are you working out your own salvation with fear and trembling? Are you living out the gospel? Or are you just focused on growing in the knowledge of the Word, of theology, and of Christ? I'm definitely not against growing in the knowledge of Christ and the gospel; rather I commend and encourage you to do so, but I want to encourage you just as much to live! We are to make sure that our manner of life is centered around Christ and the gospel. So is it?
I conclude with this: The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

The phrase, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." is in bold, because it stand out when I think about living out the faith. We as Christians have been taught to observe all that Jesus has commanded us to do. The NIV translations has "obey" in place of observe. There is a lot in the gospels thaty Jesus has commanded us to do. I encourage you to go through the gospels, more so the entire Bible in search of the commands that the Lord has given us to obey, and see how we are to live in light of the gospel. As a good friend once put it: "Let us not only talk, let us live!"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Humility Before God

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.-- James 4:10

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.-- 1 Peter 5:6

These 2 verses come to mind when I think about being humble before the Lord. Living a life of humility is very though, but nonetheless humility is a vital trait that we as Christians must practice. We more so tend to be prideful in life, and think of ourselves more highly than we ought, which comes from our sinful nature. So for pretty much during our whole time in this life we'll be battling our pride, everyday, from sunrise to sunset.

Humility before God is so much more important than humility before other. Once we are born again we submit ourselves to the Lord, letting Him have our bodies, mind, and lives to use for His glory (for He is worthy of our humble submission to Him). The thing is though, we are not perfect and spot on for doing that daily. We tend to be prideful, and take the wheel of our lives to steer through life often times. In saying this I mean we want to be independent and take control of situations and circumstances that come up, so we can hopefully obtain the outcome we want. It like telling God, "Hey, let me handle this!" or "Step aside, I'll take care of it."
Here's what Jesus says to His disciples when they ask who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 18: "Whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." What Jesus means by saying this that children are definitely in a sense are dependent. Children rely on their parents for food, shelter, clothing, protection, a good education, and other essentials in life. In the same way, we as God's children are called to to be dependent on our Father for everything we need in the Christian life.
One way I humble myself before the Lord is meditating on the gospel. I remind myself of who I am a dirty, wretched, finite, sinner....saved by grace before an infinitely holy, righteous, just, powerful, all-knowing sovereign God. Then in light of that I remind myself of how I don't deserve anything except death, the Father's wrath, namely eternal damnation. God would be entirely just to rid this earth of me and cast me into hell at this very moment. Although God being rich in love and mercy toward me poured out His grace on me, and saved me from my sin and eternal punishment (which Christ took in my place on the cross). He did so that I may be forgiven, and reconciled to the Father, and......given a new heart with new desires. Which means that I will desire to live a life of humility, long for Christ increase, and myself decrease (John 3:30). Also that I may live to glorify, praise, exalt, and magnify above all things, especially myself.
Meditating and praying about this does help my to humble myself before the Lord. For He is oh so worthy of my sacrifice of my all to Him everyday!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Following Their Example

Dear Friends,

The past few weeks (including last month), have been quite a bit for me. A lot has happened in my life, and in the lives of some dear friends of mine during these past few weeks. I can go on listing out what has happened, but......I won't do that. Although I would see myself possibly sharing some of those things in future blog posts.

The one thing I will share is that God has reminded me of Philippians 3:17; in which Paul says, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us." This verse has come to mind when I spent time with some dear friends, brothers and sisters in the faith. This passages and others encourage us as Christians to imitate those who are basically imitating Christ in different areas of the faith. I can't begin to tell you the many ways I've seen my dear friends imitate Christ in many different ways. They have set an example before me to follow. It's such an encouragement for me!

Not only that, but I want to be sure that I set a Christlike example before them, and my family as well. That is my goal for this year. I want my character and conduct to be centered around Christ and the gospel, so that those whom I love friends and family alike can have an example they can follow.

Now I encourage you to aim on doing the same yourself my dear friend. Yea, we won't be perfect at doing so, but as long as our eyes are fixed on Christ, and our hearts rooted so deep in Him, then it can surely happen.

In Christ,
Joshua A. Taylor

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Battle for True Contentment

I'm currently at war against my selfish desires and God's sovereign will. I long for His will to be done. I want to content in His will. Thy way not mine own Lord; however hard, painful, and confusing it may be. Not just for this moment, but for my future; for every area of my life. I want to be like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane saying "Not as I will, but as you will."

Whether I get married or stay single

Whether I go to college, and perhaps seminary or not

Whether I actually am sent out onto the field or I send others out

Whether I stay in Indy or eventually move to a different state

Whether my voice gets fully restored or it stays gruff & rough

And in every other area of my life. Everything big, small, and inbetween.

I want to be content with Christ, abiding in Him above all else. Not having a care about the fleeting pleasures of sin, this world and my own selfish desires. Chasing after Him, and clinging to Him. This is my prayer. This my battle. If God is for me....then who can be against me? If I delight myself in Him, then He will give me the desires of my heart; namely Himself. I want my life to be all for Christ, and all about Christ. I want to disappear, so that Christ may shine ever so brightly and radiantly. To Him be all power, wisdom, honor, glory, and praise, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Simple At Best

Making a resolution or two when the new year rolls around is just a part of American culture, and has been for some years now; whether it's wanting to stay fit or spending more time with the family, or even give as much as one can financially to good causes and charities. I know that I have made resolutions in the past (although I can't remember any of them). The funny thing is that we may commit ourselves to these resolutions for a good several week to maybe at best, two months into the new years, but then we always quit or end up forgetting about them.
This time around I'm taking it differently. I just wanna make it simple at best. What do I mean by that? Well what I mean is that I just want to keep chasing after Christ. Pretty darn simple right? Yes, it exactly is; yet at the same time isn't . The reason why it isn't simple is that I know for a fact that the Christian life is not an easy one to live. Matthew 7:14 comes to mind when I speak of this, which says; "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few." So this verse says that the way is HARD that leads to life; not easy. So despite the fact that I'm excited about 2011 already because I already see God at work in my life, and in the lives of others around me, I do know that there will time of pain, tears, confusion, disappointment, and shame, and it won't be easy and joyful. Just the reminder, though, that God is sovereign over all things is oh so comforting.
So I'm ready for it all. The joy & sorrow, happiness & joy, smiles & tears, laughter & pain, sun & rain. I'm also ready to grow & learn in ways I never have before. Dig deeper in the faith, wrestle with biblical theology and doctrine, seek after God, to grow in the relationships I have with friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and savor and treasure Christ and the gospel more.
Aaaah Yeeeeeaaaaaaaa!