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    Pastor's Posts

    Pastor David's Blog

    Wednesday
    Mar162016

    Basic Theology

    There is much misunderstanding these days about what it means to be "Reformed and Always Reforming." The tragic necessity of the Protestant Reformation returned focus of God's people to the basic principles of the early Church; that was reform. The ..."and Always Reforming" was an injunction to listen to the Word of God and correct what you have heard by continuing to listen to the Word of God! The following "five solas" (five solo principles) were foundational. Read them. It's good review!

     

    The Five Solas of the Reformation

     † SOLA SCRIPTURA †

    Scripture alone. When the Reformers used the words sola Scriptura they were expressing their concern for the Bible’s authority, and what they meant is that the Bible alone is our ultimate authority—not the pope, not the church, not the traditions of the church or church councils, still less personal intimations or subjective feelings, but Scripture only. Other sources of authority may have an important role to play. Some are even established by God—such as the authority of church elders, the authority of the state, or the authority of parents over children. But Scripture alone is truly ultimate. Therefore, if any of these other authorities depart from Bible teaching, they are to be judged by the Bible and rejected.

     

    † SOLUS CHRISTUS †

    Christ alone. The church of the Middle Ages spoke about Christ. A church that failed to do that could hardly claim to be Christian. But the medieval church had added many human achievements to Christ’s work, so that it was no longer possible to say that salvation was entirely by Christ and his atonement. This was the most basic of all heresies, as the Reformers rightly perceived. It was the work of God plus our own righteousness. The Reformation motto solus Christus was formed to repudiate this error. It affirmed that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any ‘gospel’ that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one.

     

    † SOLA GRATIA †

    Grace alone. The words sola gratia mean that human beings have no claim upon God. That is, God owes us nothing except just punishment for our many and very willful sins. Therefore, if he does save sinners, which he does in the case of some but not all, it is only because it pleases him to do it. Indeed, apart from this grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that flows from it, no one would be saved, since in our lost condition, human beings are not capable of winning, seeking out, or even cooperating with God’s grace. By insisting on ‘grace alone’ the Reformers were denying that human methods, techniques, or strategies in themselves could ever bring anyone to faith. It is grace alone expressed through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ, releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from death to spiritual life.

     

    † SOLA FIDE †

    Faith alone. The Reformers never tired of saying that ‘justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.’ When put into theological shorthand the doctrine was expressed as “justification by faith alone,” the article by which the church stands or falls, according to Martin Luther. The Reformers called justification by faith Christianity’s “material principle,” because it involves the very matter or substance of what a person must understand and believe to be saved. Justification is a declaration of God based on the work of Christ. It flows from God’s grace and it comes to the individual not by anything he or she might do but by ‘faith alone’ (sola fide). We may state the full doctrine as: Justification is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

     

    † SOLI DEO GLORIA †

    Glory to God alone. Each of the great solas is summed up in the fifth Reformation motto: soli Deo gloria, meaning ‘to God alone be the glory.’ It is what the apostle Paul expressed in Romans 11:36 when he wrote, ‘to Him be the glory forever! Amen.’ These words follow naturally from the preceding words, “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (v. 36), since it is because all things really are from God, and to God, that we say, ‘to God alone be the glory.’”

     


     

    Wednesday
    Jan062016

    Top Ten Psalms Countdown!

    Greetings! Last week, I began a Sunday morning series in the book of Psalms. In the first sermon, on Psalm 84, I encouraged you to look at the Psalms as a guide to prayer, but to think of those prayers in three ways – from an Old Testament perspective, a New Testament perspective and a personal perspective.

     

    From the Old Testament perspective, I encouraged you to think about the Psalm as a race course, a track with a starting line and a finish line. Knowing the course, you know where to run! From the New Testament perspective, I encouraged you to look at the Psalm with the understanding that Jesus has already run the course, won the race for us, and now Jesus runs alongside us, never leaving or forsaking us! The final perspective is personal. Read the Psalms as if they were your own words. When you come across a first-person pronoun, insert yourself! Make it personal. Let the words of the Psalms speak for you and into your heart and mind.

     

    Finally, I challenged you to read with three thoughts in mind. First, trusting in the sovereignty of God! Believing that God is in control, and nothing happens apart from God’s knowledge, can help us deal with difficult situations. It is an exercise in trust to live in that middle section of Psalm 84, going from strength to strength, leaving everywhere we travel better than when we found it! Trust is the key here.

     

    Next, pray for desire, a longing for God. Start where you are. If you only have a little desire for God, work with it! Go to God in prayer and ask God to increase your desire for God, increase your desire to pray more, increase your desire to read more Scripture. If you pray for increase desire, stand by!

     

    Last, expect God to show up! Expect God to increase your desire. Expect God to honor your commitment to Trust in God’s sovereignty! If you pray without expectation, you defeated before you begin. 

     

    Trust, pray for greater desire, and expect God to show up! Let’s make this New Year one in which we see all of us grow spiritually, for the glory of God!

     

    Below are the Ten Psalms I’m using. We started with Psalm 84 and we will conclude with the most popular one, Psalm 23 (It makes me smile to think of being in my 23rd year here at Graham and reflecting on Psalm 23!) This Sunday...Psalm 40!

     

    Grace and peace to you all,

     

    Pastor David

     

    Top Ten Psalms

    1/3 – Psalm 84 – My King

    1/10 – Psalm 40 (Communion Sunday) – My Strength

    1/17 – Psalm 1 – My Delight

    1/24 – Psalm 37:1-9 – My Security

    1/31 – Psalm 117 – My Praise 

    2/7 – Psalm 46 – Scottish Heritage Sunday – My Refuge

    2/14 – Psalm 62 (Communion Sunday) – My Rock

    2/21 – Psalm 138 – My Song

    2/28 – Psalm 121 – My Help

    3/6 – Psalm 23 – My Shepherd

    Sunday
    Jan192014

    Heidi's India Adventure

    As most of you know, my daughter Heidi has dedicated this year to working at 7 Sisters International, a home for girls who have been rescued from human trafficking and abuse. This year has been made possible by the support of our Mission Committee and several individuals in the community of faith. She has completed her first ten days of training in Delhi and as just arrived in Guwahati, where 7 Sisters International resides. Heidi has promised to chronicle her journey for those of us who are supporting her financially and, more importantly, through prayer. Running in Dust is the name of her blog. I hope you enjoy her first post as much I did. Thank you all for your ongoing prayers for my daughter as she ministers amongst these victims of abuse.

    Saturday
    Jun082013

    Soul Exercises 

    Jesus asks the question, “Why do you call me Lord, and not do what I say? As follower of Jesus, we need to engage in activities that help us practice our faith, to do what Jesus commands us to do. It doesn’t happen by accident. We need to make room for the Holy Spirit to work toward transforming our lives into His image.  With that in mind, I have listed 15 “Soul Exercises” that do just that. I would encourage you to copy this list and create space in your life to practice these exercises. 

     

    1. I will be still before God for 5 minutes a day
    2. I will begin each day by counting five blessings  
    3. I will read Scripture intentionally
    4. I will pray through Psalm 23 regularly
    5. I will pray for an enemy
    6. I will unplug occasionally (live a day without screens)
    7. I will slow down (ruthlessly eliminate hurry)
    8. I will remember to Play (keeping the Sabbath)
    9. I will reach out to someone beyond my comfort zone
    10. I will do something kind for someone who doesn’t like me
    11. I will share my faith with someone
    12. I will refuse to gossip
    13. I will be generous
    14. I will practice forgiveness
    15. I will trust God for all outcomes and stop worrying

     

    God bless you as you engage your faith for God's glory!

    Thursday
    Apr112013

    Becoming Apprentices 

    Being a follower of Jesus is more than just celebrating that He died for our sins and knowing that we will escape the fiery pit of Hell. Being a follower of Jesus is about living in the Kingdom NOW! "Seek ye first the kingdom of God..." Too few of us have been trained in methods of seeking God's kingdom, and thus we live, according to Henry David Thoreau, "quiet lives of desperation." 

     

    But what if I told you that it was possible to break out of that life of quiet desperation? Jesus declared..."I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly!" To be sure, most people would agree that there are things we can change and things we cannot change. Seeking the kingdom, is definitely something within our control. But how do we begin? I think the place to begin is by "bringing every thought captive to Christ."

     

    Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame, suggested that the place to begin was by getting God's Word into our minds so it can filter down to our hearts and then work its way out to our hands. He suggests four sections of Scripture every believer should commit to memory; Exodus 20:1-17 (The Ten Commandments); Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd…); Matthew 5:3-10 (The Beatitudes); and Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer).

     

    Now, you may think you cannot memorize Scripture. I assure you that you can. It may take some time, but remember, Scripture memorization does not need to be done quickly. Try this… start with Psalm 23. Copy it on a piece of paper. Read it aloud to yourself as a part of your morning routine. Read it again (aloud) at night as part of your “getting ready for bed routine.” Just before you read, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Commit to doing this for forty days, and I guarantee that you will have the 23rd Psalm memorized before the fortieth day. Then move on to the second passage and the third and the fourth! Remember, it’s not a race; it’s about endurance. When you memorize Scripture in such a way, you will find yourself thinking about God’s Words more often. Thoughts impact actions, and actions define character.

     

    As we allow the Word of God to occupy our thoughts, our actions will be influenced and the result will be a transformed character. Transformation is what we are after as apprentices of Jesus. Transformation leads to that abundant life Jesus referred to when talking with His followers. I hope you will accept this challenge to “seek first the kingdom of God.” I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. Please feel free to drop me an email at pastordavid@gmpc.org. My prayers will be with you!

     

                                                          Grace and peace,

                                                                       Pastor David 

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