Joy’s Eternal Increase

Pastor Emilio Ramos writes:

I highly recommend a much needed message for the church.  Sam Storms delivers a powerful meditation “Joy’s eternal increase: Edwards on the beauty of Heaven“.

When was the last time we have heard a message on heaven?  When was the last time you heard a graphic description of the glories and the joys of the heavenly kingdom?  Yet it is where we will spend our endless existence with God.  Heaven is the realm of ancient days where our vapor like existence in this world will be but a blip on the screen of our existence.

I found this message riveting, challenging, and deeply encouraging.  “Joy’s Eternal Increase” will help you to labor to make this world seem more fleeting and vain, and conversely, heaven more precious and treasure-like.

Q. Why should we even consider this topic of heaven?
A. Philippians 3:19-4:1 – Knowing this enables us to escape the grip of earthly things and stand firm.
A. 1 Peter 1:3-5 – The ultimate purpose of the new birth is our experience of a heavenly hope.
A. 1 Peter 1:13 – It is a commanded obsession.
A. Hebrews 11:9-10 ; Hebrews 11:13-16 – Looking to the heavenly city helped the faith of Abraham and the patriarchs.
A. Revelation 16:5-7 – Enables us to respond appropriately to the injustice in this life.
A. Romans 8:18 – Produces the fruit of endurance and perseverance now in suffering.
A. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – When earthly suffering is juxtaposed with the endless ages of eternal bliss can the suffering in this life become tolerable.
A. Colossians 3:1-3 – We are told to fix our mind on the things of heaven, where our life is hid with Christ.

You can listen, watch, or download  “Joy’s Eternal Increase” by clicking on the links below:

Listen |   Watch |   Download: Audio |   Video

How ought we to live under our president?

Pastor Jay wrote:

I think that we should pray for his salvation and pray that laws are continued to be established that would guarantee our right to proclaim the gospel and freely assemble (1 Tim. 2:1-6). Mainly that we would have freedom of speech. Once freedom of speech is taken away, then we will be in trouble with preaching and teaching the truth of the Word of God openly and freely.

Ligon Duncan (who watched President Obama’s inauguration with Al Mohler, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, and Thabiti Anyabwile) writes:

…Many Christians find themselves profoundly conflicted because of some of the moral positions and social policies that Mr. Obama espouses. So how do you pray for your President when you disagree with him?

 

Thankfully, the Bible is not silent about such a question. After all it commands us to pray for all in authority (1 Timothy 2:2), no matter their party, policies or religion (or lack thereof). It is vital that we think Christianly, which is to say, biblically, about this issue (and not just as Democrats or Republicans who happen to be Christian). So, back to the question. How do we pray for Mr. Obama? Here are some ideas (and I want to thank Al Mohler and Justin Taylor for many of these thoughts and words) for praying for our new President, Barack Obama.

 

First, it needs to be said, that we ought to commit ourselves to pray for our new President, for his wife and family, for his administration, and for the nation. We will do this, not only because of the biblical command to pray for our rulers, but because of the second greatest commandment “Love your neighbor” and what better way to love your neighbor, than to pray for his well-being. Those with the greatest moral and political differences with the President ought to ask God to engender in them, by His Spirit, genuine neighbor-love for Mr. Obama.

 

We will also pray for our new President because he (and we) face challenges that are not only daunting but potentially disastrous. We will pray that God will grant him wisdom. He and his family will face new challenges and the pressures of this office. May God protect them, give them joy in their family life, and hold them close together.

 

We will pray that God will protect this nation even as our new President settles into his role as Commander in Chief, and that God will grant peace as he leads the nation through times of trial and international conflict and tension.

 

We will pray that God would change President Obama’s mind and heart on issues of crucial moral concern. May God change his heart and open his eyes to see abortion as the murder of the innocent unborn, to see marriage as an institution to be defended, and to see a host of issues in a new light. We must pray this from this day until the day he leaves office. God is sovereign, after all.

 

For those Christians who are more concerned than overjoyed about the prospects of an Obama presidency, there should be a remembrance that as our President, Barack Obama will have God-given authority to govern us, and that we should view him as a servant of God (Rom. 13:1, 4) to whom we should be subject (1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:1; Rom. 13:5). Thus, again, we are to pray for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2). We are to thank God for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2). We are to respect Barack Obama (Rom. 13:7). We are to honor Barack Obama (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17).

 

For those Christians who are more overjoyed than concerned about the prospects of an Obama presidency, there should be a remembrance of our ultimate allegiance: Jesus is Lord (and thus, He, not we, decides what is right and wrong), we serve God not man, and the Lord himself has promised to establish “the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him” (Malachi 3:18). Thus, where our new president opposes or undermines biblical moral standards in our society, fails to uphold justice for the unborn, undermines religious liberties or condones an ethos that is hostile to the Gospel, we will pray for God’s purposes to triumph over our President’s plans and policies.

 

Without doubt and whatever our particular views may be, we face hard days ahead. Realistically, we must all expect to be frustrated and disappointed. Some now may feel defeated and discouraged. While others may all-too-soon find their audacious hopes unfounded and unrealized. We must all keep ever in mind that it is God who raises up leaders and nations, and it is God who pulls them down, and who judges both nations and rulers. We must not act or think like unbelievers, or as those who do not trust God.

 

So, now, Christian. Let’s get to work. And pray.

Pray for Our Pastors

On reflecting on what Pastor Jay preached this past Friday from Colossians 4:2-4:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well,…

We wanted to share some aids to help you pray for our pastors. (Both would be great to print out for your prayer time):

The first aid is how we can pray for our pastor’s preaching:

  1. For _________ to love God’s Word and have a desire to meditate on it continually (Psalm 119:97)
  2. For _________ to preach nothing but Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2)
  3. For _________to proclaim God’s Word with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Cor 2:4-5)
  4. For _________ to comprehend the realities of God’s presence; the appearing and judgement of Christ Jesus, and in that light ‘preach the Word.’ (2 Tim 4:1-8)
  5. For _________ to patiently and carefully correct, rebuke and encourage via the instrument of the Word of God, whatever the hostile climate to sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:2-3)
  6. For _________ to boldly proclaim the gospel (Eph 6:19-20)
  7. For _________ to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18)
  8. For _________ to be clear in his proclamation (Col 4:3-4).
  9. For _________ to prepare God’s people for works of service through the teaching of the Scriptures (Eph 4:11ff)
  10. For_________ to see some fruit for their preaching and teaching: some becoming wise unto salvation by the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:15), others being sanctified by the truth (John 17:17)
source: Unashamed Workman

The second aid come from Ligon Duncon, he writes:

Because I have a congregation that loves me more than I deserve, I am often asked by them: “how can I pray for you?” I’ve tried to put some thought into how I answer that question. So, maybe these ideas will help you pray for your pastor, or tell others how they can pray for you.

Pray –

1. That [your pastor] would know and love the living God, would have a saving interest in Christ, being purchased by His blood, and thus would be bound to the Lord by the indissoluble bond of the Holy Spirit.

2. That [your pastor] would know, embrace and ever more deeply understand the Gospel and be shaped by it in life and ministry.

3. That [your pastor] would be useful servant of the Lord, that he would know and love God’s word, God’s people, and God’s kingdom; that he would be used to build it up and so that it prevails even against Hell’s gates.

4. That [your pastor] would study, practice and teach the Word of the Lord, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

5. That [your pastor] would love to pray, because he loves to commune with his God, and that he would be a man of prayer, characteristically.

6. That [your pastor] would be ever dependent upon and filled with the Spirit; and that he would possess true Spiritual wisdom.

7. That [your pastor] would be holy unto the Lord. That his tongue and heart would be wholly God’s.

8. That [your pastor] would be kept from pride, and especially spiritual pride. That the Lord himself would be gracious to slay pride in him, and that your pastor would endeavor to always be putting pride to death, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

9. That God would give [your pastor] guidance as to where to focus his efforts in ministry.

10. That He would protect [your pastor] from himself, from the enemy of his soul, and from all earthly enemies.

11. That no decision which [your pastor] ever makes or desire that [your pastor] ever pursues would restrict his ability to pour his whole soul into the Gospel ministry.

12.That many would be converted and many built up under [your pastor]’s ministry, to God’s glory alone.

13. That the Lord would bless [your pastor]’s wife, […], with holiness and happiness, Gospel assurance and Gospel rest.

14. That God would make [your pastor] a decent husband and father.

15. That [your pastor] would be a good friend to his wife, and love her self-sacrificially,

16. That [your pastor] would be a good daddy to his children. That they would love God, their parents and the church.

17. That [your pastor] would be a testimony in the home so that his wife might be able to respect him when he is in the pulpit, and so that [your pastor] will be able to feed her soul, along with the rest of the congregation.

source: Together for the Gospel

What Is RSS? A Step-by-Step Guide to Google Reader

The following is courtesy of Abraham Piper, and will help you learn about RSS and how it can help you if you regularly check blogs:

If you read even one blog regularly, RSS is for you. It will save you time, I promise.

Some of you may be wondering, “Doesn’t everyone use RSS?” The answer is no; less than 6% of internet users take advantage of this extraordinarily helpful technology.

I’ve read lots of posts on what RSS is and how to use it, but they’re limited in their helpfulness. There are just too many options out there to fully explain any one of them in a post that tackles RSS as a whole. So I am going to use the majority of this article to help non-RSS-users get started on Google Reader.

If you follow these instructions, you will be subscribed to your favorite sites and already saving time by the end of this article.

What Is RSS and Why Is It Worthwhile?

The acronym RSS stands for a couple things. The most helpful as far as a clear explanation of what it’s for is “Real Simple Syndication.”

RSS is a technology that allows you to subscribe to any website that has one of these RSS icon in the address bar. You can then track every site you’re subscribed to without having to go to each individual site.

If you’re like me there are a couple websites that you love to read. Without RSS, I would be looking at these sites regularly to see if there were new material. Depending on how often I checked, I wouldn’t see anything new most times I visited.

With RSS, I never again have to go to a site that has no new material. I subscribe to the sites I enjoy and am updated every time they post.

(This is especially helpful for keeping track of those bloggers who we want to read but who only post every 3 months.)

Why I’m Focusing on Google Reader

If you’re not a current RSS-user and would like to be, my hope is that by the end of this article you’d have everything you need to begin. In order to do that, I need to pick one feedreader to show you how to use. (“Feedreaders” are the programs that people use to collect and manage their RSS subscriptions.)

I’ve chosen to use Google Reader for 3 reasons:

  • It’s free and available to everyone no matter what computer or browser you use.
  • It is by far the most popular feedreader that’s out there right now. On both the blogs I write for, Google subscribers are between 35-40% of the readership. The next most popular feedreader only claims about 5% of readers.
  • It’s really easy to use, so let’s get started.

Setting Up Google Reader

1. Create a Google account.
2. Go to Google Reader and make sure you’re signed in.

Adding a Subscription in Google Reader

Google reader front page.

1. Select “Add Subscription” from the left column.
2. Type in the address of a blog you want to subscribe to and click “Add.”

Google reader front page.

Adding a Subscription from Elsewhere Online

1. When you are visiting a site that you want to subscribe to, click on the orange icon in the address bar or on a link provided on the site.

RSS icon in the address bar.

You will either see a page like this:

Subscription page 1

Or like this:

Subscription page 2

2. On either page, select Google as the reader you want to subscribe with.
3. On the first page, you will need to click “Subscribe Now.”
4. On either page, choose “Add to Google Reader.”

Reading and Managing your Subscriptions

Reading Options

Google Reader reading options

You now have a few of your favorite blogs listed in the left column of your Google reader page. The best way to go through your feeds is up to you. Here are some options.

  • Home, at the top of the left column, is where you can see new, unread posts listed with just a few lines of content.
  • All Items, just below “Home,” is where you can see new, unread posts listed with all their content.
  • Selecting an individual feed from the list in the left column allows you to see new posts as well as scroll down through older ones.

Scanning Options

In the upper right corner you will see tabs for “Expanded view” and “List view.” These allow you to decide whether you see all content as you scroll through your feeds or just titles and the first few words.

Google reader scanning options.

Marking as Read

You will mark a post as read when you click on it. Scrolling through posts will also mark them as read, although you can turn this feature off in settings if you want to. Finally, if you want to mark all your new posts as read at once, you can do so at the top of the “All Items” page.

Unsubscribing

When you change your mind about being subscribed to a blog, you can unsubscribe by going to the settings in the upper right corner.

Google Reader unsubscribe.

You’re All Set!

As you poke around in Google Reader, I’m sure you’ll find more nifty ways to improve your RSSing. But for now, you should have what you need to go blog wild.

(Of course, we’d love it if you subscribed to this blog.)

Happy reading!

Why a blog?

The purpose of this blog will be to post website updates,  announcements, prayer request and articles we feel will exhort and encourage our congregation spiritually. We will also be posting articles, links, or more resources that the elders mention during their sermon.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sov Joy

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