Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Godly Women


At Grace Fellowship Church we have been blessed with some godly women who love their husbands and their children. On a daily basis they sacrifice their time and energy to ensure that all of them are taken care of and the children are educated in the fear of the Lord. I applaud these women and am very thankful they are raising the next generation of wives.

One of our ladies had the privilege of speaking at a ladies event just a few weeks ago and has been gracious enough to allow me to post what she said here.


Good evening! It’s an honor to be here with you. My prayer tonight is for our Heavenly Father to be glorified, for truth to be spoken in love, and for you to be encouraged in your

relationship with Him and others. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.” May the LORD be glorified here tonight.

As I was praying about what the Lord would have me speak to you, I thought of the theme of this banquet: LOVE BY DESIGN. I thought of how God is a God of LOVE and that He is our Master DESIGNER. He is a God of order: order in the universe, order in the church, and order in our families. By following His design for these things, we can experience peace and blessings. When I say blessings, I’m not talking about “health & wealth”; I’m talking about contentment & joy that ONLY can come from Him,

especially in the midst of trials and sufferings. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, has EVERYTHING you need to find His design for your life. Romans 15:4 states, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through

perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

There are many commandments that God gives throughout the pages of Scripture. I used to think that when I heard the word “commandments”, it was only referring to the 10 Commandments. However, Scripture is full of commandments. A commandment

is a mandate; charge; or an order given by authority and is expected to be obeyed.

The greatest commandment that God gives is to love Him first. This commandment is written in the Old Testament, and repeated gain in the New Testament. In Deut. 6:5 Moses tells the Israelites, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and

with all your soul and with all your might. In Matthew 22:36-37, Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “YOU

SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” (Mk.12:30 includes mind & strength) The Greek word “love” when used as a noun is agape. (God is Love). Here it’s the action verb-agapao- which means “the commitment of devotion that is directed by the will and can be commanded as a duty.” We are commanded to love God with our

entire being! We are to give God our complete allegiance and total devotion!

When our focus is on putting God first, we desire to please Him in every area of our life. When it’s not, we become focused on self and worldly pleasures, which ultimately bring discontentment. If you’re discontent in your life right now, my questions to you would be: Where is YOUR focus? Are you allowing God to be 1st in your life? Are you content with where God has you right now? To experience contentment in our lives, we must surrender our hearts to the LORD and know His truths. Contentment is also a

choice. We can always find the good or bad in anything. We should pray as David prayed in Psalm 86:11, “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name.” An undivided heart is one totally and completely devoted to Him. To fear God is to have a Holy reverence for Him. We must also be on our guard NOT to become complacent! When our whole heart is surrendered to Him, we can experience contentment in our lives, no matter what comes our way.

There was a time in my life when I was not devoted to God, nor did I love Him first. I was selfish and sinful. I didn’t realize His love for me through Jesus Christ. I got involved in unhealthy relationships; relationships that seemed fun and exciting at first,

but ended up in abuse. The abuse, which started out as verbal eventually got worse and left me with no self worth. It had gotten so bad that one young man I had dated for a few years told me that if I ever broke up with him, no one would ever have me…and I believed him. At that point, I even thought it’d be better to stay with him and be miserable than to have no one and be miserable. Eventually, I ended that relationship. Looking back, I see I was searching for that unconditional love that only God can

give and that no one can take away. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eighteen years ago I attended an Easter program in Mobile, AL. God used that to speak to my heart, to show me His love, and to draw me to Him. My life has never been the same. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,…” Shortly after this, I started attending a church in Gulfport. I loved being around other Christians and learning about the Lord. I was single at the time, but desperately wanted to be a wife and a mother. One night as I was praying, I laid my heart bare before the Lord. I told Him that I didn’t want to be single all my life, and that I wanted a husband and children. I confessed that obviously I did not do well choosing the “right” guy for me. I asked God to choose my husband for me, and that the only request I had was that he loved God more than life itself. I knew that if my future husband loved God first, he would treat me and our children well.

I also prayed that if God wanted me to stay single, that He’d put a peace in my heart because I did NOT have it. I pictured Jesus in the Garden at Gethsemane asking for God’s will and not His own. Even though my situation did not compare to what Christ

went through, I desired the same: God’s will above my own. It was when I became content in Him, that He blessed me with my husband Mark. I share this with you to encourage you to be still and wait on the Lord. His will for your life is far greater than you can imagine. Surrender to Him and allow Him to be the Lover of your soul!

The second greatest commandment is, Matthew 22:39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Who is our neighbor? Basically, anyone other than ourselves! We are commanded to love and esteem others. Philippians 2:3-4 states, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humility of mind consider others as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.” God has given us the family as a perfect environment to practice this in. When my children are having difficulties sharing or being kind to one another, I remind them that of all the children in the whole world God chose them to be siblings, and He does NOT make mistakes, so they have to love one another and treat each other kindly...It is NOT an option!

Scripture is very clear about our roles as women. Whether you are single or married we have many opportunities to show God’s love to others. For those of us who are married, or desire to be, God has designed us to love our husbands. Marriage is ordained by God and has been from the beginning of creation when He created Adam and Eve. He created Adam first, and then Eve to be Adam’s suitable helper. Similarly, we are to be our husband’s helpers. Are you a helper to your husband? God has ordained our husbands and given them the responsibility to lead our families. For those of us who like to be in control, we must let go of the reigns and trust God to work through our husbands. When we submit to their headship, we are recognizing their Biblical authority.

Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church. He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” We are to submit to them in all things UNLESS it CLEARLY goes against the Word of God.

For those of you who may be married to an unbeliever, Scripture is clear about your behavior towards your husband. 1 Peter 3:1-2 states, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the

word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and *respectful behavior.” What kind of behavior? Chaste & respectful. *You can find something to respect about your husband-(ex. work; think back to

what 1st attracted you to him).

Submission is a word many women shy away from. Some even make up their “own” definition for it, but we must realize the authority of Scripture. It does not mean that wives must throw their brains out the back door and become doormats. Submission

is yielding, resigning, or surrendering to the power, will, or authority of another. It is recognizing God’s order for our home. We should desire to be the “most excellent wife” we can be for the glory of God. Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness to his bones.” When we don’t submit and respect our husbands, we become like ‘rottenness to his bones’. Do you ever

talk badly about your husbands? We should NEVER speak disrespectfully about our husbands, not even in a joking manner, because that would be shaming them.

We can submit to our husbands as an act of submission to the Lord. However, we are not to place them above the Lord. That would be idolatry. By the way, ladies, when we submit, we’re to do it WITHOUT grumbling or complaining. Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” By submitting to our husbands, we are honoring God by obeying His Word.

God has also designed us to love our children. After Moses told the Israelites to love the LORD with all their heart, soul, and might, he told them in Deut. 6:6-7, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” We are to make the most of every opportunity to train our children according to the Word of God. To do this, we must spend time in the Word and obey it, as well as spend time with out children. Psalm 119:2 says, “How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him

with all their heart.”

We must also be careful to see children as God does. In Psalm 127:3 it says, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” How do you view your children? Will you be glad when they’re grown and gone; or do you see them as blessings from the LORD? Are they one of the joys of your life? Unfortunately, many in our society view children as a curse, when God clearly says they are a blessing. Being a

mom is a privilege, but comes with great responsibility. When we mess up, we must ask our children’s forgiveness. When I ask for my children’s forgiveness, I remind them that our Heavenly Father is the only perfect parent and that I’m going to mess up. I also

remind them that Jesus Christ was the only perfect child that walked on this Earth, and that I don’t expect perfection from them, but I do expect them to do their best. Because we love our children and want to train them in righteousness, we must instruct, encourage, correct, and discipline them. To do this Biblically, we must know the difference between childishness and foolishness. Childishness is when a child behaves in a way because they don’t know any better. Foolishness is when a child knows better, but chooses to be disobedient or defiant.

Proverbs is full of Godly counsel in training children. We should make every effort to train them up to have Godly character, but be on our guard NOT to compare them with others. We must love our children for who they are; if we don’t, they will find someone who will….and that could be DANGEROUS! Enjoy who God created them to be. Pray to see them through the eyes of Christ. Encourage them in their strengths, and help them

through their weaknesses. What we may see as a weakness, God can use for His glory if it’s encouraged properly. Critical words can tear down a child, but wise words can build him up. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue…”. How have your words been lately? Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” We can set the tone in our homes by our attitude, by not allowing our emotions to control us. The only way we can succeed in this is by spending time with the LORD in His Word. John 15:4 says, “Abide in Me,

and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” This verse applies to all of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, divorced, or widowed. God can use you!

I just want encourage anyone here who may be dealing with rebellious or wayward children to not give up. Keep praying! There was a time in my life when I was rebellious and my precious mother prayed fervently for me. I am forever grateful.

For those of us who are older, in age and in the faith, Scripture makes it clear what we are to do. Titus 2:3-says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (blasphemed) Why do we need to encourage younger women in these things? So that the Word of God will not be blasphemed!

There are women everywhere that are hungry for the Truth. Pray for opportunities to share the love of Christ. I will conclude with this…

John 13:34-35, Jesus is speaking and says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all

men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

When we get into the Word of God, and realize His great love for us, it is then we are able to love Him first, and love others as He commands.

*REMEMBER:

The author of Scripture is the Lover of our Souls.

Monday, March 10, 2008

When in Rome


Guest blogger Tom Holliday has written a timely piece about Christianity and culture. He has graciously allowed me to post it here. May you find it instructive and convicting as I have.

When in Rome…

How many times have you heard the saying “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”? The origin of this concept is definitely not from the Bible. Some of the first Christians were living in Rome, and though many of them were from Rome they refused to do as the Romans did. These Christians understood that their citizenship was in heaven (Phil 3:20) and they were to follow the customs and culture of heaven regardless what country they were in. This refusal to yield to local culture was costly: the Romans fed Christians to lions for entertainment.

Personal experience has shown that it is easy to go along with local culture and sometimes even forget that I am a stranger and a pilgrim in this land (1Pet 2:11). It is tempting to look for ways to settle comfortably in this world, but to do so is to betray the Lord to whom I owe allegiance. It is easier to just dig into dinner at a restaurant than to interrupt a conversation with business associates to give thanks to the Lord for the food. It would be easier to just go along with attending events that are held at a casino or include inappropriate entertainment. It is easier to spend the evening surfing the internet than to meditate on the Word of God.

A subtle danger is to look for ways to avoid the conflict altogether. It is easier to think about isolating myself from the local culture than to live differently in the midst of the culture. But we are called to the spiritual battle. We are soldiers operating inside enemy territory (Eph 6:10-18). To hide from the culture is to lay down our armor and wait quietly for the war to end. This is neither the way of the cross nor the way of valor.

May our Lord give us strength and courage to live even as He lived – confronting those around us with the culture and customs of our heaven, not fitting into or avoiding the culture of earth. While in Rome, we will not do as the Romans do, but we will be ambassadors for Christ even as the Roman Christians were.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Martin Lloyd Jones on Biblical Authority


A friend sent this to me and I thought it was worth posting. Honestly, can you think of too many things better than Martin Lloyd Jones quoting Charles Haddon Spurgeon on biblical authority? Here is the quote.

The authority of the Scriptures is not a matter to be defended, so much as to be asserted.... I am reminded of what the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said in this connexion: 'There is no need for you to defend a lion when he is being attacked. All you need to do is to open the gate and let him out' . . . it is the preaching and exposition of the Bible that really establish its truth and authority. I believe that this is more true today, perhaps ... than it has been for the last two centuries.... There is nothing that really explains the whole world situation, as it is today, except the Bible. Take even the question of the origin of the world, and the very nature and character of the world itself. We know that there have been certain scientists in this present century who ... have been forced to come to the conclusion that there must be a great Mind, a great Architect behind the universe.... The Bible has always asserted this, but at long last some of these men are coming to admit it.
But when you come to consider the state and condition of the world this particular point is still more evident. When you look at the average individual man as he is today, in spite of all the advance of learning and culture and knowledge ... what, are you to say? When you are confronted by the fact of two major world wars in this present century ... the only adequate explanation is that which is given in the Bible: the biblical doctrine of sin. Nothing else really gives an adequate explanation.... It is only in the light of this teaching that you can understand the whole process of history. Now it is of great interest and real significance to observe that the critics themselves are now beginning to say this. They used to deny it.... They hated the whole notion of sin. Man was developing and improving. He was getting better and better. But now they have been forced to admit the truth of the biblical teaching and they are coming back to it.

Authority, pp. 41-2

A thousand amens to that. And this is another reason the elders of Grace Fellowship Church are committed to the faithful, ongoing unleashing of God's Word through the exposition of the Bible. Our most feeble attempts of studying and preaching God's Word will be blessed because the God of that Word has instructed us to do so.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Catching Up

Its been quite a while since I have been able to put anything on the blog. But here are a couple of updates for Grace Fellowship Church. First our website was down for a while but is now back up and running at a new address. That link is www.gracefellowshipgulfport.org.

Also, all the sermons for Hebrews that I have preached to date have been uploaded to the sermon hosting site. You can get those here.

Also please pray for Gary Lankford as he travels to Guatemala today. He will be there for two weeks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Great High Priest of the New Covenant

Here is the link to the new sermons from GFC. We have been dealing with Christ as the Great High Priest of the New Covenant. I hope these sermons will be as edifying to you as they were to me in preparing and preaching them. I have been reminded over and over through this series of the absolute superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ over all. He truly is the Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Here is the link.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Jesus Christ Our Great High Priest

Christ is indeed our Great High Priest thus nullifying the Old Covenant sacrificial system. Yesterday I preached on Hebrews 5:1-10 and gave two ways that Christ's priesthood is superior to Aaron's. Click here to get the sermon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones on Evangelism


Charles Spurgeon is my hero. He was a Calvinist, a Baptist, and an evangelist used mightily by his Lord. Right now I am finishing a cup of coffee from my "Charles Spurgeon is my Homeboy" coffee mug. It's my favorite mug. One of my prize possessions is a one hundred plus year old print of Charles Spurgeon that I bought off eBay. As much as I admire Spurgeon a close second in my hero list of non-biblical characters is Dr. Lloyd-Jones or "the Doctor" as he was often called. He lived from 1899-1981 and pastored two churches. One at Aberavon in Wales and then at the Westminster Chapel in London. He forsook a promising career in medicine for the ministry of the Word of God.

I have been reading his two volume biography by Ian Murray and I wanted to share some gems I have discovered. The first gem I have discovered about this man is his steadiness. When the evangelical world around him was tossed about by fad and new invention of "winning" people to the Lord he remained steadfast in his conviction that the Lord uses His Word in the conviction and conversion of sinners to Christ. He believed that it was through the preached Word that God gave the evangelical gifts of repentance and faith. He rejected a merely intellectual Calvinism that led to a full head but a cold heart. His doctrine and preaching was correct yet filled with the passion of a heart that loved God, loved the Word of God, and lived for the glory of his Lord.


In February, 1942 the Doctor was asked to speak on evangelism by the leaders of the Crusaders' Union at Sion College. The first portion of his address dealt with avoiding two opposite ends of the spectrum. First there were those who were "perfectly orthodox" yet had ministries that were "barren and fruitless." The second end of the spectrum were those who always claimed "phenomenal results" without even considering their methods and the results. He pointed his listeners back to the "textbook" for evangelism, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the New Testament Epistles. He said if we are going to evangelize correctly we must follow the model therein. The second suggestion for learning proper evangelism was to study and know the history of the church. He advised that we look at the Puritans, the Protestant Reformers, and even the Church fathers. It is important to learn how these people of the faith down through the ages understood the biblical text and how they practiced evangelism. Ignorance of these two guides would lead us down a road of pragmatism where everything we do is based on what we think and what we feel will work usually disregarding the witness of Scripture and the testimony of the church through the ages.

After teaching this the Doctor laid down five foundational principles of evangelism. Here they are as Ian Murray reports them on page 90 of Volume 2.

1. The supreme object of this work is to glorify God... The first object of the preaching of the Gospel is not to save souls... Nothing else, however good in itself, or however noble, must be allowed to usurp that first place.

2. The only power that can really do this work is that of the Holy Spirit...

3. The one and only medium through which the Holy Spirit works is the Word of God... The medium that is used by the Holy Spirit is the truth.

4. The true urge to evangelization must come from apprehending these principles and, therefore, of a zeal for the honor and glory of God, and a love for the souls of men.

5. There is a constant danger of error, and of heresy, even amongst the most sincere, and also the danger of a false zeal and the employment of unscriptural methods.

I hope in my own life and in yours these principles will both guide us and ignite a fiery passion for scripturally informed and biblically saturated evangelism to the glory of God.