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How God Grows a Work

April 30th, 2018

The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:2-3 NIV)

Christ envisioned the kingdom of heaven in terms of growth – like a seed planted that produces a crop, bearing a hundred times, or sixty or thirty times what was originally planted. Or like a small seed that grows into a tree that even the birds can nest in the branches (Matt. 13). Any pastor who does not have the growth of the church on his heart has certainly not grasped the reality of the work of Christ in this world.

But how does God grow His work? That is the question. Does He grow it by manipulation? Does He grow it by worldly means? Does He grow it by worldly advertisements, or by the preacher promising people will become richer or healthier or happier?

The passage from Psalm 147 above says that He grows it by love, by tenderly and graciously dealing with the brokenhearted, the hurt, the hopeless, the wounded, the damaged souls of this world. The gathering of the exiles back into Jerusalem was emblematic of the work of God in the growing of the church, and the ones whom God calls to come to Him through faith in Christ are touched by the love of God for them.

It is the great need of the church and of each individual Christian to experience God’s love on a deep personal level. Love builds up like nothing else can or ever will. That God so loved the world that He sent the Son to die on the cross for our sins is the seed of the gospel. Christ, who had no sin of His own, died voluntarily for yours and mine, and this is the heart and soul of the gospel.

Hurt people hurt others, and loved people love others. The one who is being healed by the love of Christ for him is the one who is also loving others in Jesus’ name. Love builds up. Love is patient and kind, encouraging, and tenderhearted. Love listens and blesses and hopes all things. To be a loving Christian must be achieved by the Spirit in us. This must be the great means by which the church of Jesus Christ grows. We are to love people into God’s kingdom. And we are to love them until they grow in grace and become His instrument to love and reach others.

…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:15-16)

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Are You Worried about Government?

January 12th, 2017

All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. (Isaiah 40:17)

I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35)

An incredible amount of emotion, fear, worry, and even rage are spent in concern for things that we cannot control, specially human governments. In these days in America, with the presidency of Barak Obama coming to an end and the presidency of Donald Trump beginning, there has been a significant amount of outpouring of emotion from both sides. Some prefer the style of Obama, and others prefer the substance of Trump – no doubt that in personality Obama is smoother than Trump, or than most people in the planet, for that matter.

No human government in the history of the world has been perfect nor can become perfect because they are always dealing with the sin and failure of humanity. Some governments are better than others, and some are worse than others, but beyond that no one can truly say that a flawless one has ever existed, or will ever exist, until Christ returns.

God’s work in our age is redemptive. He lifts up the fallen, forgives the sinner, and redeems the captive from his addiction to sin. He establishes people in His grace and allows us to stand in Him forgiven, free, and new. He gives peace to the troubled, health to the sick, food to the hungry, and joy to the joyless. He makes peace between enemies, turns swords into plowshares, and makes former enemies to become brothers.

Paul wrote:

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)

Government’s work is as an agent of God to establish order and to see that justice is done. Romans 13:1-7 teaches us the biblical principles of governments, that they are instituted and upheld by God for without them there would be anarchy and chaos, the rule of the mob and of the mobster. So be grateful for the government that you have. It is imperfect, flawed, but still helpful. Seek to make it better if you can, but do not expect it to be perfect.

But God is not in awe of human government. He does not tremble at the thoughts of kings and dictators, or of presidents and prime ministers. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing.” He loves and He redeems from sin, and He has a plan for our eternity, but human government is not impressive to God.

What we can do in the name of Christ is to seek to spread love, forgiveness, peace, and redemption. There is enough indignation, cynicism, anger, and hate. If you are spreading more of that then you are not necessary, and you have made yourself such. We need people who will reach out in compassion and grace and draw people to Jesus Christ. He is our hope.

Instead of anger and hate, instead of fear and worry, I suggest we spread love and grace, that we preach confidence in the final victory of Christ and of His return. I believe this will bring more honor to Christ and will be a bigger blessing to people on this earth.

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