Greetings church family,
As you know today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Today, we are called to remember the heinous terrorists attacks on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and our transportation system. We are called to remember all the heroes that stepped up and risked their own lives to save others. There were many who ran toward the danger instead of fleeing from it. Those in the towers, those in the Pentagon, and those aboard Flight 93. We thank God for their heroism and their sacrifice.
It is in times like these, that the Word of God speaks clearly and abundantly to us! As I reflect on the events that took place 20 years ago, I am reminded of the first few verses of the 91st Psalm.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust! For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark." -Psalm 91:1-4
In this passage we are reminded of the comfort and safety for those who abide in Christ. No matter if you were the one who ran into danger at the risk of your own life, like so many did, or if you were like me stunned watching on TV, there is only one place to find shelter.
Fear was rampant in that time here in America and yet for the one who seeks after the Lord, there is no reason for it. As with today in the middle of a "pestilence," we must remember that God is our refuge! God is our fortress! God is the one that we place all our trust in! He will deliver us from any danger or foe!
That may mean that your life will be lost like so many first responders or civilian heroes. But if you are in Christ, then He will cover over you with His "wings." He will eternally shield you like a bulwark before the evil one! He is always faithful to protect those that call on His name!
The world can throw a lot at us, but there is nothing that they do against the great and mighty sovereign Lord! Terrorists may come, your country may abandon you, but the Lord will always shelter you with His perfect hand!
Remember those who died on that day 20 years ago, remember them and thank God for the heroes. And may it be a call for you to place your trust in Him in all circumstances and situations!
Like Habakkuk standing faithfully in the Lord's strength even in the face of a mighty army of foreign invaders who are going to take them all captive, he says "Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength..." Let us stand firm in our Lord no matter the tyranny and violence that comes our way!
Remember those innocent people and those heroes by refusing to live in fear, and instead stand in the strength and might of the Lord of all creation. If you are His, you are eternally His no matter what comes! Praise God!
For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This statement is trustworthy; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and beneficial for people. -Titus 3:3-8
Every person on the earth has had something shape their thinking. Our home environment is a huge determining factor in how we perceive the world and our surroundings growing up. The city and state that we live in can have an impact upon the way that we think and process through things in life. The college we choose to go to can have massive implications upon our worldview and how we think through many of the deep questions of life. Our families and spouses can be a huge piece of what shapes our thinking. Many times, our view of politics, religion, and life in general are shaped by these and others influences in life.
For the Christian, there is one truth that should shape our thinking over and above everything else. The Word of God is that fountain that we drink truth from. But even more specifically when thinking of how we think of our lives, there is a glaring truth that needs to prevail in our thought life and how we view the world and all things. And that is the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to have a gospel shaped thought process in all of life!
Let us quickly move through our passage for today to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ must shape our thinking in this life.
Verse 3 reminds us who we were before Christ. It says that we were all once foolish. Being foolish is to deny God and His existence. We not only live this out in what we say, we also live this out in how we live. Instead of living in the knowledge of God and seeking after Him, we reject Him with our mouths and our lives. And that is what we have all done!
Verse 3 also states that without Christ we are like disobedient children who refuse to follow the laws of God our Father. We are deceived in this kind of living. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden our thinking is shaped by our selfish motives and we are deceived into thinking that being sovereign like God is what we need. As we follow after the world's systems and live in our sin, it's as if we are closing our eyes to the truth of God and hoping that when we open them God is no longer there. Before we cling to the truth of the gospel, we feel as though we are our authority and that we know what’s best for our soul. Our worldview is so foolish outside of Christ that we are actually enslaved to it. We are enslaved to our lives of foolish living deceived by the idea that we should be our authority in life.
Paul also tells us here in verse 3 that we lived lives of malice and envy before Christ transforms His people. We lived lives of hatred, hating the people around us.
This is not a pretty picture is it? Complete wrecks! Desperately needy people. Why do I say this when thinking through having a biblical worldview? Simply because we need to be constantly reminded of the gospel and have that good news shape our worldview. It is good to know that we were once miserable wrecks outside of Christ. It makes the good news all the better and it forces us to have a gospel centered perspective in life no matter what is going on around us. The gospel forces a biblical worldview for the one who always remembers who they are in light of who God is and what God has done.
What is that gospel centered perspective in life? Verse 4, the incarnation! The kindness and love of God has been manifested in the person of Jesus the Christ. The author of our salvation revealed to us His kindness and love through the incarnation of His Son. He sent Him into this world to take on flesh to be the atonement for our rebellion that we just spoke of when looking at verse 3. You see, God in His righteous justice just couldn’t ignore our rebellion, or say “well you have been better than most.” No, it had to be paid for, and that was done on the cross of Christ. What kindness! What love! What a beautiful truth to shape all our thinking day by day!
Verse 5 goes on to tell us even more good news. Christ atoned for our sin and the Holy Spirit comes and washes us in Christ’s blood and gives us a new heart, regenerating us, causing us to be born again in grace. Our deeds would only condemn, but His deeds credited to our account lead us to have a declaration of “righteous” by the Father who looks at us through the lens of the Son’s life and ministry. The Father declares to all of the universe that all of those who are found in Christ, washed and renewed by the Spirit, believing in the Lordship of Christ, are righteous saints. Righteous saints! Is this truth what shapes your thinking when looking around at the world today? What a humility generating proclamation!
Verse 7 even reminds us that we are heirs. Heirs of God!! What good news! What a gospel!
Paul ends this section of Scripture by encouraging believers to live lives that reflect our conversion. In verse 8 he says that we are to be careful to engage in good deeds because they are good and profitable for us. Of course we recognize that these are done only in light of the salvation secured for us.
If you are in Christ, meaning that you have repented of your sins and confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, you must remember what Christ has done in your life. We must recognize that Christ has rescued us from our foolish lives of disobedient living. We must dwell on the glorious gospel of grace no matter what is going on around us.
It is easy to get caught up in focusing in on political movements, pandemic fears, all sorts of culture driven conversations, or even another gospel to relieve the tension, but these things cannot replace the centrality of the gospel in what shapes our thinking.
I am not saying that we cannot have political conversations or discuss what is going on in our culture, but what I am saying is that everything we think and say needs to be shaped by a mind that has been molded and formed by the gospel. We must speak of the hope of the gospel even as we discuss our current pandemic, we must bless with the gospel when conversing about politics, we must proclaim gospel truth when engaging with the culture’s latest whims, we must seek to crush any other gospel when presented as an answer to what we see going on in our world.
As we reflect upon the truth of who we were and what the Lord has done for us, how can any other thing that comes along shape how we think, what we speak, and who we are? We truly need a gospel shaped worldview.
This is what C.S. Lewis says when reflecting on the need for a gospel, Christian-centered worldview. “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
I hope and pray that we all have a gospel-centered worldview so that we will never be taken captive by all the opposing worldviews that are constantly vying for our attention and affection. May the good news of what Christ has done for you always shape, direct, and guide your mind and heart in this life no matter what is going on around you!
11 “Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep his commands, ordinances, and statutes that I am giving you today. 12 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, 13 and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, 14 be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. - Deuteronomy 8:11-14
Over the past three weeks Pastor Brian and I have written three articles concerning the need for having and developing a biblical worldview. Today, I want to talk about what happens when we don’t maintain a biblical worldview (when we don’t remember the Lord our God). The passage we’ve chosen from Deuteronomy is speaking directly to God’s chosen people, the Israelites, but some principles remain for His followers today.
Any time we read the book of Deuteronomy, it is helpful to understand that their leader, Moses, is trying to remind the Israelites how to live and serve the Lord even beyond his departure (death). It’s like a father nearing death trying to impart final wisdom before he leaves. The message is filled with compassion and hope that they will be faithful to the Lord, their God, who brought them out of Egypt with great strength.
Moses seems to understand the condition of the human heart, namely, that of forgetfulness. We have a tendency to forget what is most important. When my wife and I were getting to know one another and even into the time we were engaged to be married, we were in a long-distance relationship. I found that unless we nurtured that relationship with letters and phone calls (effort), the heart would forget the good feelings we had for one another.
Here, Moses fears that as the Israelites get comfortable enjoying the blessings from the Lord that they will forget the very One who provided those comforts. Isn’t that amazing that we can experience the blessing of God and forget about the very God who provided the blessing!?! It shouldn’t be this way, but it is an all too easy place to find oneself.
Having a biblical worldview means that we will maintain a healthy perspective that all good gifts come from God and are meant to draw us closer to God. Perhaps this is why we are so often instructed to give thanks to God in the Scriptures. Even when life is going poorly, even if everything seems to be falling apart, we can give thanks to God for bringing us out of the land of Egypt (fyi, that’s code for our bondage to sin).
Do you regularly give praise to God for His gift of salvation? Do you give thanks to God that He has fully forgiven your sins and remembers them no more? This life is a gift from God, and in it, He does give good gifts. But, this life is temporary and short-lived. Our pursuits and passions should not be set on things that are going to fade away and mean little to nothing for eternity.
What happened to the Israelites when they forgot God? We see the warning of Moses just a few verses down, “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve them and bow in worship to them, I testify against you today that you will certainly perish (Deuteronomy 8:19).” We don’t have to read too far down in Israel’s history to start reading of the destruction that came upon them because of their neglect in their relationship with God.
Again, we are not the Israelites living in the land promised by God, but there are principles that hold true. There is a cost to neglecting our God. The health of our relationship with God begins breaking down when we stop cultivating it. What should we expect when we move away from the author of life? We may not be attacked by marauding Philistines or Babylonians, but we begin to experience a slow death.
For instance, if our pursuit of God is replaced by a pursuit of wealth. We may find that our family relationships begin to suffer, our friendships (particularly in the faith) begin to suffer, and we might feel less satisfaction or contentment with what we have. Next thing we know, we act like a slave to this insatiable desire for wealth making choices without even thinking or being aware of the consequences it’s having on our life and relationships. Then, our marriage ends in an ugly divorce, we don’t know our kids, we feel miles away from God, and we look up one day wondering what happened only to realize too late that we have forgotten our God.
The pursuit of wealth is just one of many potential idols that can grab our heart’s attention. Perhaps it would be helpful to spend a little time evaluating where we spend our time, money, and energies. Are we focusing and spending much of our lives on building or improving our homes and making ourselves as comfortable as we can possibly be? Are we focused on growing a large nest egg at the expense of seeking after God? Do we consider the things we have as tools for use in God’s work or are they to make the most of this life here and now?
May it be that we continually grow in our love for God and dependence on Him whether we have a little or a lot. May we be open to our brothers and sisters in the faith as they speak into our lives to encourage us in our faith (even when it isn’t easy to hear).
For many Christians we are dumbfounded when we look around at what is going on in our society. We look at the sin that seems to prevail in our country and world and we ask ourselves, what is going on? That is the very question that I want to answer today from the book of Romans.
I know that this passage is very sobering. It is a hard truth to read and hear. But we must know it and believe it in order to have a correct understanding of what is going on and then to be able to walk away having the joy of the Lord in it.
So what is going on? Look at verse 25. Why does it seem as though our nation is changing rapidly and losing all sense of morality? It seems inconceivable to us that we would continue to legislate sin like abortion, same-sex marriage, no-fault divorce, and on and on the list goes. Why does Romans 1:18-32 look like a prophecy for our day and age? For one, nothing is new under the sun. But for two, this is what happens when God gives people over to their depraved minds.
There is no excuse for any person to not find themselves worshiping Christ. The gospel has been preached here in America, creation itself screams out its makers praise. Christ deserves and commands the worship of every citizen in America. But what do we see?
People refusing to give honor where it is due (verse 21). We would rather call our judges who preside over the court room “honorable” than attribute this title to the One who presides over all of creation. Our nation has darkened its heart against God by refusing to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
We proclaim on the rooftops how wise we are (verse 22) and put all kinds of pride-filled letters after our professors’ names while they blaspheme the Holy One. We have created gods in all kinds of forms and fashion (verse 23). We have worshiped the earth and ourselves far and above the One who spoke and all things came into being. We have a day that we set aside in April to celebrate mother earth and at the same time we call it hate speech to preach the infinite Creator’s written revelation of Himself and His glorious attributes.
Why is same-sex marriage legal today (verse 26)? Why do we have people who are exchanging that which is natural for that which is unnatural and sinful in sexual relations? Because God will give people over when they reject Him. We have people who are rejecting God’s creative perfection saying that He got their gender wrong at birth.
We have people who have the audacity to take the life of our most precious and vulnerable. The greatest scourge that could ever come on our nation is the scourge of abortion. Who do we think we are, to take the life of the most innocent among us? Shame on America for allowing this to happen and calling it lawful! Look again at verse 25. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie. We have begun to worship self in such an egregious way that we now say that having a baby is an inconvenience to my life. Or we excuse ourselves and say that the child may have health problems, or it was unplanned, so he or she must be terminated. And we wonder why God would give a nation over to its own depravity?
All unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, slander, malice, the list goes on with what we are seeing in our country. Look at the last piece of verse 32. They give hearty approval to those who practice them. We have organizations dedicated to preserving institutions of sin. Planned Parenthood? Who plans life but God alone! Law firms dedicated to seeing sinners go free? Our national language has turned into “whatever is right for you” instead of “what does God’s Word say?” I cannot confidently say that God has given us over in every way to these things, but I can say according to this passage, it should not surprise us if this is the case. That is my point if you were wondering where I was going with this.
I am in no way seeking to be political today, I am seeking to be biblical in how we view the world and what is going on. Our worldview needs to be shaped by the Word of God. We look at this list in Romans 1 and pray fervently that God would either withhold His hand of judgement so that we can repent as a nation or that He would strike and strike hard to purify this nation for His glory.
I am writing this to make sure that we understand what is going on in general. The wrath of God will be revealed against a nation that thrives on ungodliness and unrighteousness. He will not sit idly by while a nation claims wisdom as it blasphemes Him and rejects His Word and even His gospel. Our Lord will reveal His wrath in His timing and on His scale, but it will come.
Let us never be caught in the worldview that says that America will be preserved because we are a Christian nation. When we exchange the truth of God for a lie (there are many listed out here), then He will give them over and they will be destroyed. When a nation legislates sin, you can be sure Romans 1:18-32 applies to it.
All that to be said, I want us to be encouraged by this passage. Not because this is good news for us as a nation, but because at least now we can understand what is going on. This passage explains a lot! This passage should be one of the go to’s that shapes our response. We need Romans 1! I want us to be informed people. Because people who are informed by the Word of God are people who are not shocked when a passage such as this comes true of their nation.
And never forget this; do not let your heart be troubled, your hope is not in a nation. If you are in Christ, then your hope is infinitely tied to the Eternal Governor and Prince of Peace, your hope is in the Author of Life and Savior of souls. Our nation may one day be given over to its sinful principles and it may be destroyed for it, but your eternal life and eternal security is found in Christ alone.
Let your worldview be driven by the Word of God, even if it is a hard truth to swallow. It is good to look around at what is going on and be grieved at the level of public and even lawful sin, but we know what is going on because God’s Word tells us. So be encouraged, your worldview isn’t blown out of the water by a sinful world. It is what we are to expect.
Now go and share the good news of Christ to those who fall into the categories of sinful behavior that we have in our text for today. As long as they have breath, there is hope! Right before our passage today Paul tells us this, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Our nation may be condoning sin and encouraging sinful lifestyles, but the gospel is still just as powerful to change lives! The gospel of Jesus Christ has not lost any of its luster just because sin reigns in the hearts of men. It is still the power of God unto salvation!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7 CSB
Do you remember the story of Pharaoh and the Ten Plagues of Egypt? There is a fascinating element that is revealed to us throughout the narrative about the heart of Pharaoh. Exodus 5 begins telling us about the interaction between Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh. Now, Pharaoh didn’t start from a great position. He didn’t know the Lord, the true God. Here are his own words, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go. (Ex. 5:2 CSB)” What Pharaoh didn’t know will hurt him later in the account.
Look at Proverbs 1:7 above. Is the fear of the Lord what we think of when we think about having knowledge or wisdom? When we hear the word fear nowadays, we tend to minimize the part about being terrified as if one is in a dangerous place. Instead, we define it with words like awe and reverence. Now, to be sure, awe and reverence are a part of this instruction, but the word is not limited to just a reverential awe. By Pharaoh not knowing the Lord or regarding Him as the one, true God, he put himself in an incredibly terrifying and dangerous position. Only, he didn’t know it at first.
We are told at least six times that Pharaoh’s heart was hard or he hardened his heart and would not let the Israelites leave Egypt. Amazingly, the Lord (the knower of hearts), predicted that Pharaoh would harden his heart. After these events, we see that the Lord hardens the heart of Pharaoh to accomplish His good plan and to bring light to His unmatched power. The final hardening of his heart led to Pharaoh losing his firstborn son followed by losing his own life in the Red Sea as he relentlessly pursued the Israelites. He truly was in a dangerous place by not having fear of the Lord.
Though God intervened and hardened Pharaoh’s heart towards the end of the account, there were many opportunities for Pharaoh to humble himself before God and pursue wisdom and knowledge. The plagues that God sent on Egypt can be seen as multiple gracious warnings to Pharaoh to begin fearing the Lord. Can you imagine experiencing some of the plagues that the Egyptians suffered and still not recognize God as powerful and holy?
According to Proverbs 1:7, Pharaoh was a fool by refusing to seek or even fear the Lord, and it cost him dearly. As we consider what it means to have a biblical worldview, we must start with the fear of the Lord. Understanding God’s holiness and justice is just as important as understanding His grace and compassion. Our position in light of God’s holiness and justice (apart from being in Christ) is a dangerous one. Similarly, every other human exists in the same terrifying place because of sin. If there were no God, there would be no sin, no violation of moral law. Yet, it is precisely because there is a God, a holy one, we know there is an objective standard by which we should live and by which He measures us.
Knowing that God measures us by a righteous standard is part of our biblical worldview. See, we don’t simply decide to do what is “right” because it is the most convenient or the most logical for our situation, that would be an evolutionary based, relativistic mindset. Someone with a biblical worldview will aim to do what is “right” by God’s standards because He put those standards in place. A biblical worldview understands that because God is God, He gets to make the rules. We also trust that His rules are intended for our good even though we may not understand how or why.
This fear of God we are describing influences any topic even from current headlines. How should we think about our culture’s swing to no longer differentiate between male and female for instance? In the fear of the Lord (pursuing Him through His Word), we discover that God created us and that he created two sexes, male and female. He had a good purpose for doing so. His purpose, in part, reflects our image-of-God bearing nature. The world may be unwilling to acknowledge God’s right to govern over us, but that doesn’t mean we ought to acquiesce to the pressures of those who want to rebel against God. We must hold to what the Scriptures reveal to be true.
In our situation, we might be tempted to cave to the pressure from those who have no fear of God. Because they are loud and threatening and may cost us jobs or create legal troubles for us, we might find ourselves fearing these people. Our fear of the Lord needs to be greater than our fear of any person or group on this earth. Otherwise, we’ll cave to the pressure weighing down on us to “accept” and “tolerate” everybody’s position.
May we be gracious in our response to those around us, yet firm on our foundation. We ought not hate those who are pressing or believing these anti-God messages. We do not need to rail loudly against them, attacking their character, their grandma, and their dog. We ought to lovingly speak truth as we have the opportunity, and hold on to the convictions that are based on the teaching of Scripture. We also ought to patiently teach others. Don’t be surprised when the world doesn’t want to listen. Don’t be afraid of them either. Fear God.
Do you want to be a knowledgeable and wise person knowing how to conduct yourself in a really strange time (2021)? Then pursue God. Start from a place of terror of what God can do to you because of what your sins against Him deserve. Move to a place of reverential awe at His power, integrity, and holiness. Come to adore Him for His indescribable grace towards us. As we look at the world around us and figure out how we should interact with it, let’s always keep a biblical perspective in mind.
Greetings church family!
If there was ever a time in our lives as 21st century Americans where we needed to be reminded of God’s goodness and control over all things, the time is now. If there was ever a time where we needed to be reminded of what our “worldview” ought to be, the time may be right now. Usually we have one or two national events going on each year that draw our attention and notice. This last year, we have had more than normal, to say the least. From the pandemic, to the quarantine, this has been a challenging time. Surprisingly, we have had a level of governmental oversight the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time and then on the opposite side a seeming lack of governmental oversight in our major cities with riots and violence that we also haven’t seen in a long time. We sure have seen some things over the course of the last year!
We may well have seen the sharpest division and clash between political ideologies in our lives this last November and the results have been shocking to many of us. And as Christians who are citizens of this country, we look around and are drawn by the voices and the calls for action on both sides. We are pulled hard by the side that calls out to us and its specific call for action. Our worldview is challenged by these voices especially in these uncertain and unprecedented times.
I don’t think that I speak for myself alone when I say that I need to be snapped (maybe even slapped) back to what is eternally true. I need to have my mind brought into conformity with the Word of God daily as I hear the national and local news and see what is going on around me. I need a reminder of what my worldview is to be shaped by.
Therefore, over the course of the next 8 weeks or so, Pastor Justin and I will be sending out a weekly Scripture passage along with a few thoughts that we hope will help us all be “snapped back” to what is eternal, what is absolutely true, and what it is that our lives are to be consumed by.
Today in our first installment, I have a passage that is truly “the cure all” for any difficulty that we may be facing as Christians who are citizens of America. I believe that this is the truth that we have to start with if we are going to be snapped back into conformity to what is true and what is eternally joyful to know and cling to.
Therefore, here is the question for us to answer today? “Where does a biblical worldview begin and end?”
Here is the passage for today that will frame our answer: Acts 17:24-31
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘for we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because he has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
Paul arrives in Athens, sees all of these statues to false gods lining the street and as he is looking at these, he notices one that is a statue that is titled “to an unknown god.” Bingo! Paul has his opportunity to go up to the Areopagus, the place where all of the local philosophers would come and try to teach and persuade men about their pagan ideologies. Paul uses their own statue to preach Christ!
Let us briefly walk through this text and as we do this, I encourage you to have your joy restored as your worldview is refashioned when thinking of the beauty of our great God.
Verse 24, Paul begins by telling them that it is God, the one and only Yahweh who created the world and all things in it. This in and of itself should shape our worldview! God is the creator of all things! There is nothing that was made or that has come into existence without it emanating from the very breath of His mouth! God speaks and life is created.
Verse 25, God speaks and by His breath all things and I mean all things are created. People and trees, rocks and rodents, cells and DNA, all created by Him. This crushes the idea of their gods on that hill in Athens since this is the only God who speaks (this also crushes all false gods today). Their worldview and ideologies are challenged by their new (albeit limited) knowledge of the sovereign and everlasting creator of all things.
Is that how we see the world? Do we look at the divisions in America knowing that God is sovereign over all things? Do we realize that God is not contained by human hands nor manmade structures? Do we realize that every nation and people (even if they don’t agree with us) have been made by God?
And if that doesn’t help shape how you view the world and its current events, look again at verse 26. God has appointed the lifespan of each person and in that lifespan He has even appointed the time in history in which they will exist. God has chosen you specifically to be born in this time in history as He numbered your days! God has chosen the boundaries of our habitation right now where we are at.
Two days ago, a new president was inaugurated in America. Now, we can say all day long that it was a vote of the people or we can say that it was not a vote of the people because it was stolen. I want to tell you to put both of those things behind you and simply recognize that our president(s) all throughout our history were all inaugurated by God and God alone and this is accomplished by His sovereign will, including this last one (Romans 13:1 says “established by God,” not on their merits but for His sovereign purposes. One glance at the Democratic platform of abortion on demand tells us it had nothing to do with the goodness of the candidate).
Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t vote or advocate for reform or change as citizens since God is sovereign and enacting His sovereign purposes, but what that does mean is that we find joy either way. Why? Because God’s sovereign hand caused this to take place. He is the inaugurator for His sovereign purposes, which brings about our good and His glory.
Let that thrill and encourage you even if it didn’t go the way you would have wanted it to!
Verse 27 teaches us another worldview truth that is stunning. That this God who is not bound by the confines of creation and time is not far from us. This is shocking! He is God! He is all-powerful! He is the universe creating artist who crafted the stars and the sun in a day! And yet He is not far from us and ready to commune with us through the blood of His Son. We are all children of His by the nature of our birth as humans, but He is even willing to be our God and Savior in an incredibly intimate way through Jesus Christ His only Son. He is a personal God to His worshipers, even as the sovereign creator.
Verse 29, let us always remember that this great God is not some chunk of wood, or even a precious metal that we fight over, nor is He a mere figment of our imagination. He is Divine! He is all-glorious and powerful, and His declaration both then and now is a call for all men to repent of their sins in light of who He is and His divine will and Word.
This is not a mere request, this is a command! All men, all people of the earth are commanded to repent, commanded to turn from their sins and to turn to the one true God in faith. Now that is a worldview that transforms the rioters into servants of God. It turns the slanderous and politically motivated colleague into a righteous tongued worshiper at the feet of the cross. It turns the heart of the Christian back to realize that it is not merely in America in which they exist and live and move, but that it is in the gospel and in your great God in which the Christian does all things in his or her temporal existence.
As you reflect upon the day and age in which we live with all its current events, never forget that God is sovereign over every single thing that happens. He is the creator! He is the sustainer! He is the one who appoints how all things shall go. Trust His sovereign goodness in all areas of life. In politics and pandemic, in chaos and carnage, in tension and trial, it is truly all in the palm of His hand and sustained by the word of His power. Cling to a worldview that says, “my God is sovereign over this, and in this I will rejoice!”
Those who riot, those who speak maliciously, those who have lost hope are those who have a worldview that begins and ends with the things of this earth. Whether that is people, laws, freedoms, or stuff, their worldview starts and ends with things going the way that they want them to. The biblical worldview on the other hand, begins and ends with what God has spoken in His Word. His Word shapes our thoughts and reactions in life. Never forget dear Christian, His word transcends not only cultures, presidencies, laws, political movements, and pandemics, but it transcends even time itself.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. Our sovereign God has placed eternity in all our hearts. Let our eternal condition as believers shape our worldview and our response to the culture at hand in light of who we serve.
So, to answer the question that we started with, let us say this… we have but one Judge and King! The One and only risen Jesus Christ (verse 31)! A biblical worldview begins and ends with the sovereign purposes of the great and mighty God. Find joy in it all my brothers and sisters!
Today is June 19th. It is a day that commemorates and celebrates the actualized freedom of slaves in Texas on this day in 1865. It was more than two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation! Our country's history with slavery is a sad one.
Can you imagine the joy and excitement of being able to make your own decision about what to do or where to go for the very first time? No wonder there was so much celebration surrounding this day. Similarly, when we place our faith in Christ Jesus for salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, He immediately shatters the shackles that enslaved us to sin and rebellion against God. For the first time, we become free to love God, honor God, and obey God. What an exciting and joyous realization that event was for us who have trusted in Christ!
Our nation has come a long ways in fair treatment for all, and we still have a ways to go. Would you pray that God would move throughout our nation to draw people to Himself? Apart from God's supernatural work, hatred and bitterness will continue to thrive (no matter what laws are in place). Hatred and bitterness is an enemy of all people of all ethnicities, and should not be found in Christians. May God be honored by the words and actions of His people as we participate in the unfolding of these tense times. May many experience freedom in Christ for the first time as a direct result of this very season!
The words of James seem incredibly relevant to the moment (and all the time): "My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God's righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word which is able to save your souls." - James 1:19-21 (CSB)
Although we cannot meet for what looks like a least a few more weeks due to COVID-19, we are excited to have in-home worship services available to you on Sunday mornings. We highly encourage you to go to the website vccburlington.org on Sunday mornings and scroll down just a little bit until you see the words "Worship With Us" and what you will find there is an order of service similar to what we have been going through together on Sunday mornings. This will be ready for you early Sunday morning.
This is what you will see (we encourage you to go through this in its order):
- An opening prayer to reflect on and pray through.
- You will then see three links to songs to hear and sing along with.
- Next, you will see a Scripture reading from the Old Testament since the sermon text is in the new.
- Following that text of Scripture, you will see two more links to songs to hear and sing along with.
- After that will be the sermon player. Click on the button that looks like a "play" button to hear the sermon from the book of Colossians.
- After you listen to the message you will see one more link to a song to hear and sing along with.
- And finally, you will see the benediction to read and be encouraged by.
Our hope is that we can all continue looking to the Lord seeking to be fed by His Word together even if we cannot come together physically. This is also one of the ways that we can stay connected. Coming together for corporate worship may be the most beautiful aspect of what it means to be the church. In the book of Acts, the author Luke desired to show us the beauty of the early church by making every effort to tell his readers that the people of the early church were coming together daily for worship and fellowship (Acts 2:44-47). Since we cannot come together to do this on Sunday mornings for now, worshiping this way in our homes on Sunday mornings is one way that we can continue to worship together as Valley Community Church.
"See" you Sunday!
"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6
The Pastors of VCC
(feel free to comment)
As you all probably know by now, Valley Community Church will not be meeting for at least two weeks. Our governing authorities have mandated that groups of our size not meet so that the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be contained. We the pastors of VCC wanted to email you and encourage you in the Lord as well as inform you in what the church will be doing going forward.
Although Hebrews 10:23-25 reminds us of the beauty of meeting together as well as commanding that we do meet together as Christians, we feel as though temporarily suspending our gatherings is in no way opposing or neglecting this commandment from God. We feel the need to avoid carelessness. We do not want to be unwise in the stewardship of our own lives or fail to love our neighbors by putting them at unnecessary risk if we were to continue to meet even in smaller groups. Rather, as good neighbors, we want to do our part in mitigating against the spread of this disease in our community. And as your pastors, we feel a special stewardship in protecting the members of the church as shepherds. We love you, and we want you to be safe.
We may not be able to congregate together physically at this time, but this will not stop us from connecting with each other regularly, nor will it prevent us from worshiping together on Sunday mornings.
For the next two weeks and as long as needed we will have an order of service on the website ready for you on Sunday mornings. Our hope in this is that we will be worshiping with each other from our homes. As you go to the home page on Sunday morning, here is what you will find as an order of service:
-Written prayer for you to reflect upon
-Scripture reading that relates to the text of the sermon
-Songs with links for you to sing. We encourage you to click on the links and listen and sing along with the words on the screen.
-A sermon from our continued journey in the book of Colossians.
We strongly encourage you to be ready for corporate worship on Sunday mornings and for us all to log on and go to the website and partake in worship through prayer, Scripture reading, song, and a message from God's Word.
What you can do!
I. We encourage you to not let our current physical distance from one another hinder our privilege and responsibility to love one another in Christ. Pray for one another diligently. Pray for those who have been affected by this virus. Pray for our medical workers and hospital staff. Pray for our governing authorities. Pray that this would provide many gospel opportunities with those around you and around the world. Pray that our country and our world would turn to Jesus for hope and that thousands, if not millions would respond to the gospel message in repentance and faith.
II. Reach out to your fellow church members. Call each other regularly and encourage one another in the Lord. It can be very easy to be consumed by fear and anxiety as we are bombarded with news feeds and opinion columns. This is a very real threat and dangerous virus, but it is no surprise to our Lord and it is under His sovereign hand. Remind one another of the beauty and truth of the gospel and eternal life. Comfort each other with the Word of God and the truth of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
III. Reach out to your neighbors and other people in your life. Be ready in this season to give an account for the hope that you have. Proclaim to them through your message and your life the hope that you have even in the face of a global pandemic. Show them and tell them that there is nothing to fear if you have Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
What a joy to know that even though a pandemic is engulfing almost the whole earth, we have a God who is a rock and a refuge no matter what comes!
Listen to what the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 62. "My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength and my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:5-8
God is your refuge dear Christian! Never waver from the hope of the gospel! Praise the Lord that He has already gained the victory over sin, disease, sickness, and even death. Praise God that we do not have to live in fear of what the next moment holds, because our great and mighty God holds eternity in the palm of His hand.
Please know that your pastors are praying for you and will be contacting you regularly to check in. We again encourage you to reach out at any time if there is anything you need whether that is prayer, food, or just to simply communicate what the Lord has been doing in your life.
The Pastors of VCC
Greetings dear saints of the Lord,
To start with we want to acknowledge that many in our communities and our state are nervous and scared about the potential effects of the rapidly spreading coronavirus. As Christians we have a unique privilege and role in this time in our lives to encourage and proclaim the gospel, the message of hope, to many who have no hope in the face of what is being called a pandemic. Remember dear Christian that Jesus is on the throne and that there is not one molecule nor virus that can live or move without His authority. We encourage you to not let the minute by minute news feeds distract you from the hope of the gospel. The fear that we have all seen in the recent days and weeks cannot characterize the one who has placed their faith and trust in the Lord. We have an obligation to be the voice of reason and the voice of hope.
As Psalm 91 reminds us "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust! For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark."
Only the Christian has hope in the midst of despair. Let us as a church see this as a unique opportunity to share the beauty of Christ and our eternal hope to people who have no hope. Let us hold fast to our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ no matter what comes our way.
That being said, in light of the local outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) we wanted to reach out and make you all aware of some steps that we will be taking as leaders of the church. First and foremost, at this time we will continue to meet at 10:30am on Sunday mornings for our worship service. We feel that the priority of gathering together as the church should continue to play a vital part in all of our lives. We encourage you to plan to be here on Sunday mornings at this time.
When you come on Sunday mornings, please refrain from shaking hands, hugging, or any close personal contact as advised by our health care professionals.
Although we will continue to meet on Sunday mornings for our normal 10:30am worship service, we are going to temporarily postpone all other meetings held by the church.
- 9:30am Sunday morning Bible Classes
- The Saturday morning men's group
- The Tuesday morning women's group
- All Life Groups
Again, we will continue to meet for our Sunday worship service at 10:30am, but all other church functions will be temporarily postponed.
In preparation for our Sunday morning gatherings we will be giving extra attention to sanitizing the church, particularly commonly used handles and fixtures, to help reduce the spread of any potential illness that may come.
Reasons to not attend:
If you have any symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, or any flu like symptoms we ask that you remain home. If you are sick or choose to remain home, please reach out to the leaders of the church so that we can pray for you and make sure that your needs are attended to.
If you are someone who is immune compromised, we encourage you to seek out the Lord for guidance and to speak to your doctor about whether or not you should attend services. If you choose to abstain from coming on Sunday mornings for a period of time due to the virus, we fully honor and respect that decision and ask that you would keep us informed so that we continue to minister to you.
If you choose to not attend for a period of time, please remember sermons will be available online at vccburlington.org (to stay connected). Please continue your financial support of the church through this time. Your regular offering can be made through your personal online banking, online giving, or simply sending a check to the church. We want to continue supporting the work of the gospel through our church, our pastors, and our missionaries throughout the world.
Let us as a church truly rest in what the Lord has promised us. The apostle Paul gives us these words precisely for a time such as this. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Your brothers in Christ,
The pastors of VCC