Monthly Archives: June 2015

God As The Refiner


The RefinerMalachi 3:3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness. Background of Malachi:  Malachi was written to the Levites or to the priests because they had lost their respect for God in their worship (see ch. 1:6).  That was manifested by their offerings to God. They chose to dishonor God.  God, in His love for them, knew this was not good for them, so He purified them. By the end of Malachi we find that the refining did its work. The priests listened to God and obeyed and they were able to offer offerings in righteousness.” The next verse says, “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD.” In I Peter 2:5 it talks about NT believers being a “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” We have the same position as the priests in the OT did. The values God wanted to see in the lives of the priests in Malachi, He is looking for in us today. God puts trials in our lives for different reasons.

  • For Learning (Job 23:10 – When I am tried I shall come forth as gold.) God put him through a trial because there were things about God that he needed to learn.
  • For Chastening (Malachi)  There was sin in the way the Priests worshiped God. God got their attention.
  • For Teaching Others (Jn 9:3) The man blind from birth was created for the purpose of showing God’s power.  “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

All of us go through testing and trials in our lives. I would like us to focus on trusting God because of His love that is shown through His presence, purification, and purpose in trials. First of all we will see that …

God’s Love is shown by His Presence.

He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; We see God here pictured as a refiner of gold and silver as well as the refining process (vs2). When a refiner puts his gold in a pot on the fire he never, ever leaves the gold for any reason. He values that gold and wants to see that fire bring up the dross or the impurities in the gold. When God puts us as His children on the fire He doesn’t leave us there by ourselves. He stays right there beside us watching to be sure that the fire or the trial does what He wants it to. The work in progress has His full attention.

God Cares

God knows our limitations and will not put any trial in our path that He does not give the strength for. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. There were two men in Rome long ago that were sentenced to be burned at the stake for being Christians. One of the men was an older more mature Christian and the other was a young man newly saved. As the two men were put in their cell they looked out the back window into the arena where their stakes were being prepared for them to be burned the next day. The young man nervously tried to light a candle and in the process he burned his finger badly. He turned to the older man and said, “If I have this much pain over a burn on my finger how will I stand it tomorrow when my whole body is engulfed in flame?”  The older Christian said, “Young man, God did not ask you to burn you finger so you do not have the grace to endure the pain. Tomorrow God has asked us to go out and burn for His honor and glory.”  And the next day the two men went into the arena and burned with songs of praise to God on their lips. God gives us the grace to endure what we need endure so that we will learn what God would have us to learn so that we can to offer to God an offering in Righteousness – serving Him with our lives. That does not mean that when we go through a trial that it will be easy. No, when silver gets purged it gets very hot and melts, and our trials are to melt us. But God will give the strength to go through it. “Don’t pray for lighter burdens, pray for stronger shoulders” –unknown author

God Comforts

God has promised us directly that He will be with us.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

We don’t have to be afraid of what we are going through right now because we know that God will give us the strength and He will always be with us. There was a train traveling through the mountain passes late one night. There was a bad storm raging and the water was starting to rise along the tracks. The passengers started panicking until one older man noticed a little girl sitting with a quiet smile on her face. He made his way over to her and asked her why she wasn’t afraid. She looked up at him and said, “My father is the engineer.” Whatever “storms” are going on outside or whatever mountains we are facing, we can have complete assurance that nothing will happen to us that God does not allow as long as we allow Him to “direct” our life. If verses like Isaiah 41:10 do not provide comfort, we do not know our “Engineer” very well.

God’s Love is shown by His Purification.

He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, God had a reason for the trials that the Levites went through. That was to purify them. To make them serve God with the respect that they were supposed to have. God has a reason for every trial that we go through.    Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

God uses every circumstance for good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Well, whose definition of “good” are we following? Our understanding of “good” will set our expectations of God’s promise. Our definition of good often includes saying, “Well things will just turn out right and everything will be comfortable again.” God’s definition of good comes in the very next verse. In Rom 8:29, God shows us that His best plan for us, the greatest good in the light of heavenly values, is for us “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God takes all the seemingly bad things and all the seemingly good things and brings them together and it works out for good. We will be more like Christ.  So, if we know that the good and the bad work together for good then we can conclude that

God controls our trials.

“He shall sit” Nothing is going to happen to us that surprises God or that He is not ready for. When we are in a fiery trial we don’t get knocked over into the fire or the fire does not consume us. Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You find their story in Daniel chapter

Trials do not destroy.

The three Hebrews were thrown into the fire but they came out without harm. We may go through great times of testing, but they are designed to teach us something, not destroy us.

Trials free from sin.

The three Hebrews were cast into the fire with cords binding their hands. When we are in a trial often God uses it to show us the sin that weighs us down.  Hebrews 12:1 let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Trials make God’s presence real.

When the three Hebrew boys were in what seemed to be the toughest part of their trial, it was then that Christ walked with them and they were the closest to God. When our trials get the toughest, it is at that time that we draw the closest to God.

God’s Love is shown in His Purpose.

That they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness. God brought the Levites back to a place doing what was right in a right way. He kept the heat on until the dross was dealt with. A man walked into a silversmiths shop long ago and went to the back of the shop to talk with the silversmith. He found the silversmith bending over a pot of molten silver skimming the dross off the top. The man asked the silversmith how he knew when the silver was ready to be used. The silversmith said, “Do you see how I am bending over the pot looking into it?” The man said, “Yes.”  The silversmith said, “When I can see my reflection in the silver then I know it is done.” When God puts us on the fire, He sits there with us cleaning the dross off the top of our lives. When God can look at us and see the reflected image of His Son Jesus Christ shining back, then He knows that the trial has accomplished its purpose in that area of our life. Romans 8:29 says that we are “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God puts people through different trials so that they can be in a position to do something for God that He will be pleased with. Look at Joseph. He was first betrayed by his brothers, and then he was falsely accused and sent to prison, and then was forgotten by friends. He went through all this so that he could be in a position to be of service for God at the right time. Think of what Hannah had to go through in order to be willing to give Samuel to God’s service. Think of Ruth leaving her country to live with her mother-in-law. She went to a new country where she was a Gentile in a Jewish country. All so she could help Naomi and God used her to be part of the line of Christ.

God’s purpose is to change us.

Our lives need to be a worthy sacrifice for God.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Our lives need to be holy and acceptable to God. This means that if we are living for ourselves, if there is sin in our lives, or if we are resisting God’s will that anything we do for God will not be acceptable. God values obedience over any service we do for Him. If we serve God with the wrong attitude or motive than we are doing what the priests did in Malachi.

I Sam. 15:22 Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

We cannot come to God with the attitude that God owes us something. We need to realize that God owes us nothing and we owe God everything. God is in charge of our lives and He is in control of what happens in our lives. Let us serve Him with the realization that God is doing a work in each of our lives and we need to trust Him and learn what He is teaching us. God will be able to use more and more of our life as we yield it to Him. God’s purpose in trials is so that He can shape us and mold us to serve Him in the best way possible. That is an offering in righteousness.

God’s purpose is to make our sacrifice acceptable.

When our service is done with our efforts, our strength, our wisdom, our understanding, we contaminate God’s work. The work must be what God is doing in us and through us. There is nothing left for us to boast about. He is Lord, He is King, He deserves all the praise!

Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Becoming A Man After God’s Heart


A Man After God's Heart.001Today is Father’s Day – we salute fatherhood.

Some of you have happy memories of your relationship with your Father, others like me have other kind of memories.  One thing that is consistent for all of those who know Christ, through Him we have a perfect father! One who loves us, redeemed us, calls us His own special children.

In honor of Father’s Day and in honor of father’s everywhere, today I want to encourage and challenge the men!

Ladies before you tune out, there is something here for you too! The qualities that God wants men to display in their lives are the same qualities that God wants for you too.  As you consider God’s word to the men today, I pray that you will be encouraged to pray for the men in your life that they will be what God has called them to be!

Our goal at Kitwe Church is to see a generation of men step up and be the spiritual leaders in their homes, a generation that will teach their sons how to love their wives one day, a generation of men who will demonstrate to their daughters how a man should respect and treat women. We are the men that must step up in our communities and in our world to make an eternal difference.  This will be accomplished by men who understand the Word of God and recklessly abandon themselves to obey it!

And that is why Kitwe Church exists to: Teach Adults and Children to know and obey God’s word.

Are you a man after God’s own heart?  Perhaps to help answer that question we could ask this question:  What do you value?

The things we value shapes our vision and our vision determines what we will give our life for. We all want our life to count, none of us want to waste our life!

There are two men in the Old Testament whose lives give us insight into what it means to be a man after God’s own heart.  These men: Saul and David.

In 1 Samuel 13:14 God is speaking to King Saul through the prophet Samuel and said,

“But now your kingdom will not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over his people because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

Saul:  An illustration of what that man does NOT look like.

In our text the people demanded a king like the nations around them. (I Sa. 8:5) They did this after the prophet Samuel’s children became materialistic and corrupt (I Sa. 8:3).

At Saul’s coronation a warning was given: Don’t rebel against the commandments of the Lord. Obedience was demanded (12:13-15). This obedience would be reflected in their service to God. “Serve the Lord with all your heart.” (12:20)  And then God concluded with this thundering warning: “Don’t go after empty things that cannot profit or deliver!” (12:21)

What things do people value in themselves and in others? (1 Sa. 10:22-24).  So often it is the external things that we value so highly.

Saul had the external qualities that drew people to him.

  • Saul was physically attractive: He was handsome and a head taller than everyone else.  Saul looked like a king! (1 Sa. 10:23)
  • Charming personality: He appeared to be modest and self-demeaning, when they were looking for him to crown him king he was found hiding among the equipment (1 Sa. 10:22).

But what did Saul value?  To answer this question let’s reverse it:  What did Saul NOT value?

He did not value obedience to God.

  • He valued personal success – Saul was willing to cut corners with God’s commands for personal advancement – offering the sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel as commanded. (1 Sa. 13:11-13). All of this was done with spiritual reasoning.
  • He valued personal gain – Saul was willing to disobey God’s orders with the Amalekites because of personal gain. (1 Sa. 15:8-9)

He did not value honesty before God

Saul was not willing to accept personal responsibility for his wrong doings. He pointed to the actions of the people as excuses for his disobedience on both occasions. (1 Sa. 13:11, 15:15,21)

He did not value service to God

Saul was willing to pursue and seek the death of an innocent man (I Sa 19:2). God had said that David was the chosen replacement for Saul on the throne of Israel. Jonathan the heir to the throne, accepted God’s decision and willingly chose to serve God and David (20:13-14).

He did not value God’s wisdom (28:3-19)

Ended his life visiting the witchdoctor. What we value will lead us eventually to make decisions we never dreamed that we would consider!

The people were attracted to Saul because of his external attributes!  But Saul had heart issues that God clearly saw and the people eventually came to see.

  • Saul was unfaithful
  • Saul was self-centered
  • Saul was concerned with self-preservation
  • Saul was jealous

When we come to 1 Samuel 13:14 we come to a CRITICAL TRANSITION POINT IN THE NARRATIVE!

We are told that God is going to replace Saul as king and the man coming on the scene will be a man after God’s own heart.

The following story is the unfolding and revealing of who that man is and what a man after God’s own heart looks like.

This is not a list of qualities, it is a life being lived out in real-time!  The man is David.

David – an illustration of what that man DOES look like.

When God sets out to do a work and bring himself Glory, God reveals that He does not choose like man chooses.  God does not value what man values.  Man looks on the outward appearance of things, but God looks on the heart! (I Sa. 16:7)

What does God look for in a man after His heart?

  1. A man after God’s own heart is faithful in the little things, the unexciting menial tasks assigned to him.  He carries them out faithfully and completely.  Hours, days, months as the last born tending sheep, long hours and days with little to do. (1 Sa. 16:11)
  2. A man after God’s own heart is necessarily someone who would be chosen because of particular position or physical attributes.  David was a red-faced youth who wore simple clothes and smelled like sheep and smoke. (1 Sa. 16:12)
  3. A man after God’s own heart lives in humble submission to the authority of God and the authority of those God has placed in his life:  Obediently watching the sheep.  Obediently carrying the lunch to the brothers serving in the army. (1 Sa. 16:19, 17:15)
  4. A man after God’s own heart has a heart for God cultivated by meditation on the Word – Shepherd boy (Ps. 23).
  5. A man after God’s own heart handles discouragements and perseveres.
    • Accused of pride, insolence and self-serving motives by those closest to him.  This came from his own brothers (I Sa. 17:28)
    • Told that he can’t do the job because of his youth (I Sa 17:33)
    • Others tried to force him into their armor, he saw it as a hindrance to doing what God was calling him to do. (I Sa 17:38-39). NOTE: This was not astonishing bravery – it was the outworking of what David really believed.
    • When threatened by the enemy, he did not stop, but picked up his pace to pursue what he was convinced was for the glory of God. (I Sa 17:43-44)
  6. A man after God’s own heart has a heart that beats with a passion for God and His glory. Is there not a cause? Facing Goliath (1 Sa. 17:29)
  7. A man after God’s own heart has an unwavering confidence in God’s power and ability:  Lion, bear, Goliath (1 Sa 17:33-36)
  8. A man after God’s own heart is not without times of fear and doubt, yet he returns again and again to his faith in God’s nature, character etc.:  Acting like a madman in front of King of Amalekites. (1 Sa. 21:12-13)
  9. A man after God’s own heart is not perfect but he faces his failures with honesty and true heart repentance:  Numbering the people, Bathsheba (Ps. 51).

What we are passionate about controls our perspective and orients our priorities.  David’s passion was God!  

What we are passionate about will control how we spend our time, talents and treasure.  So we are back to our opening question: “What do you value?”

Let’s answer four questions that help us evaluate where we are:

  1. How does a man after God’s own heart respond to his authority?
  2. How does a man after God’s own heart respond to crisis?
  3. How does a man after God’s own heart respond to criticism and accusations?

How does a man after God’s own heart respond to failure?

A man after God’s own heart is someone who will do ALL the will of God:

Acts 13:22 22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

A man after God’s own heart is one who has a heart inclination to obey the LORD!

Ps. 89:20 I have found My servant David;With My holy oil I have anointed him,

David fulfilled his purpose by skillfully shepherd God’s people because:  He had integrity of heart, and skill of hands!

Ps 78:70 He also chose David His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds; 71 From following the ewes that had young He brought him To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance. 72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

MEN, THIS IS WHAT EVERYONE OF US OUGHT TO DESIRE!  So how do we get there?  Run to Christ – He is the perfect man, the perfect husband, the perfect father.  He will fill us with Himself and make us like Himself!

This is why he came!  This is why he died! This is why he calls men to come!

Download the pdf of Becoming A Man After God’s Heart

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Accomplishing The Mission of Jesus


Accomplishing The Mission of Jesus.001

Do we really understand the desperate needs that exist around us?

Late one afternoon staff at Faith Children’s Village brought a lone visitor to see out Administrator. The young visitor was a little girl, 11 years old.  She had walked all day, crossing the Kafue River to find this place where she heard that people cared for kids.  Both of her parents had died when she was a baby.  She was cared for by her grandmother who later died.  She was then in and out of various homes, some places she was mistreated and she was not in school. Finally she ran away. She would dance at bars for money.  Someone told her about Faith Children’s Village so on this day she came searching and pleading to be taken in.

Few of us here have faced a situation like this in our lives!  Desperation, pain, suffering, a loss of hope for the future.

We have been studying the church and today we will look at the mission of the church.  God has called us for a purpose – to glorify Him!  But what are we to do?  Why does the church exist, why do we come together in fellowship, to study the Word, encourage and edify one another?  What is it that all of this enables us to do that will bring God glory throughout eternity?

Let us look at our text in Romans 10.  Have you ever encountered something that so deeply affected you that you felt deep searing anguish and grief in your heart? That is exactly what is happening with Paul in our text today!

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.

He is so consumed with grief in HIs heart that he said this:

Romans 9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

What are the things that cause your heart to bleed? What are the things that causes you to cry out to God in heartfelt desperation?

Kent Hughes in his commentary on Romans is spot on when he wrote, “Romans 9 teaches divine election—chapter 10 teaches human responsibility. I emphasize this because it is possible to get just enough of the vertical theology of chapter 9 to make us horizontally irresponsible… We humans like being absolved of responsibility.”

Let’s be very clear: “If you are without Christ it is not because you are not elect – it is because you are rejecting Christ!” (21)

Our mission is to carry out God’s mission of reconciling sinful human beings to God through Christ!  So what is the world’s greatest need, and what must you do about it?

THE GOSPEL IS THE GREATEST NEED OF EVERY PEOPLE GROUP (1-13)

In the midst of human suffering, loss and the man ills that afflict modern-day man, why is the gospel the greatest need?

Because they are lost! (1)

Paul had a God-given passionate desire for the salvation of his own people group, the Jews. (10:1, 9:1-3).  They did not realize it, they were convinced otherwise – but they were hopelessly lost!

Isaiah put it this way:  All we like sheep have gone astray…  and Paul wrote earlier in this same letter that “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”

Because all people outside of Christ are trying and failing to establish their own righteousness. (2-3)

It is not enough that these people were sincere or zealous for God or committed to their religion. (2)

You can be zealous for church, zealous in Bible study, zealous in the choir, and be lost!

A couple years ago I was was in the USA for some speaking engagements.  On my trip home, I flew out of Boston on a Boeing 747 for Lusaka via London.  After we got up to 40,000 feet the stewardesses serviced the cabin and eventually dimmed the lights for the night flight.  I got up and went to the back of the plane.  In front of the toilet doors near the exit door a man had rolled out his prayer mat and was on his knees bowing in prayer toward Mecca.  There is no one who can question this man’s zeal toward his religion!

And this is exactly what Paul was talking about – these people were zealously working for God in an attempt to establish their own righteousness.  They were trying to be righteous by keeping the law.

Galatians 3: 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

God’s standard is His own righteous perfections, and nobody can pull that off, no matter how sincere they are or how hard they try! The problem is human wickedness and depravity. Everyone, everywhere has sinned and stands guilty before God.

Some people base their confidence of salvation on how good they are in relation to someone else.  Or they base their salvation on what they don’t do.  This is called moralism.  You can be moral, but man’s morality will never meet God’s standard of righteous perfection!

Because there is no other way to be reconciled to God – none! (4-13)

Salvation through Christ is the ONLY way to God. Faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross is the only way any person – Jew, Gentile, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu – can be saved.  Jesus Christ is the only way to God! (4-8).  You have to believe that!

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Now at this point, you might be asking a very fair question:  How can Paul say this?  If Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, what about those who have never heard of Jesus?

Remember our text is coming from chapter 10, so we are jumping into something that Paul has already been talking about for some time.  In fact he has already dealt with the answer to this very question.  Let’s quickly look at what he has said,

God speaks through creation.

God is a God who loves and calls to all mankind, now matter where they are.  First, God speaks through Creation.  Imagine that our hall this morning is in complete darkness, and I were to light a candle on the table at the front.  Would you be able to see that flame?  Of course!  It would be the one thing in the midst of darkness that jumps out and screams for your attention.  Now what if you rushed toward the light, not to embrace it, but to blow it out?  God has given all men the light of creation, reject that light and you have no excuse.  Here is how Paul explains it:

Romans 1:18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.* 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (NLT)

God speaks through Conscience

Our conscience is that inner voice in every one of us that tells us to do or not to do a thing.  It is true that our conscience can be corrupt or misinformed, but that voice is there speaking to us none-the-less!  It is interesting that anthropologists who reach formerly unreached peoples have yet to discover a society in some remote corner of the earth that is atheist!  Why? Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God “has put eternity in their hearts.”

Ro.2:14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. (NLT)

God speaks through Christ

Acts 17:22 So Paul, standing before the council,* addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man* he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your* own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

Salvation requires belief in two things (9-11):

  • That Jesus is Lord – that he shares the nature, character, holiness, power and authority of the one and only true God and thus He I supreme over me – I belong to Him!
  • That God raised Jesus from the dead – true belief of this will cause us to confess before others – “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

The salvation message is for EVERYONE!  It is universal (13)

For whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. There is no national distinction, no ethnic distinction, cultural distinction, no depraved condition too deep, no sin too great, no person too lost. The same Lord is over all people and is generous to all who call upon Him!

And here is the glorious crescendo to the gospel! Whoever will call upon Jesus will be delivered from the just condemnation of their rebellion and sin!

So how can verse 13 happen in Kitwe this week?  How can this happen in Blantyre? In Nairobi? In Juba? In Accra? In Mogadishu? 

If this is the world’s greatest need – what must we do to meet it?

How does this gospel get to those who must receive it?  How does it get to little orphaned girls that no one wants?  Little girls like the 11 year old girl who arrived at Faith Children’s Village?

Should maybe we fly over and drop illustrated leaflets explaining the gospel message?  Maybe we could send food to the nearly 1m people on the verge of starvation of S. Kordafan & Blue Nile State, living in caves to escape the bombing raids from Kartoum?  Maybe we should go to rural Zambia and dig some wells so people can have fresh water?

In Jesus’ ministry He went everywhere “doing good.”  But there were always more sick people to heal, more dead people to raise up, more mouths to feed… and they were begging him to do these things.  Mark 1:36–38 And Simon… said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

PREACHING THE GOSPEL IS THE CHRISTIAN’S GREATEST RESPONSIBILITY (14-17)

Why is proclaiming the gospel the Christian’s greatest responsibility?

Because we were commissioned to this task by Jesus Himself!

Paul was cornered by Jesus on the Damascus Road and called as a gospel witness (Acts 9). We too have been cornered by Jesus and called to be gospel witnesses for Jesus! (Mt.28.18-20)

Because whoever calls upon the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved! (13)

Because those who don’t hear will be damned forever! (14-17)

Let us look at verses 14-15 in reverse:

  • If here is no sending, there is no preaching. (15)
  • If there is no preaching, there is no hearing. (14c)
  • If there is no hearing, there is no believing. (14b)
  • If there is no believing there is no calling. (14a)
  • If there is no calling on Jesus – they are DAMNED!  Forever!

John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Luke 16:23–24 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 

2 Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 20:13–15 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.  14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Let’s conclude with Paul’s summary statement in verse 17: So then, Faith comes through hearing the Word of God! They must hear the word of God in order to believe!  We too must hear the Word of God if we are to believe and obey!

The Gospel:

You must know it!

You must receive it!

Have you received God’s free gift of salvation through Christ Jesus?  Do you believe Christ is man’s only way to heaven?

You must share it (17)

  • Locally – intentional engagement and proclamation of the gospel within your circle of influence.
  • Globally – through gospel partnerships.  For some through obedient abandonment to going cross-culturally to preach this gospel.

You have just heard the gospel – have you received it?  Is this truth your personal reality?

What is the all-consuming desire of your heart?  Does your heart burn for people to know Christ?

Download the pdf copy of Accomplishing the Mission of Jesus

Listen or download the free mp3 of this sermon here.

The Calling of the Church


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Back in 2010 I received an envelope in the mail from our local courthouse.  Inside was a letter stating I was being summoned to appear at the courthouse on a specific date for a specific purpose – to serve as a member of the jury of fellow citizens who would decide the guilt or innocence of an individual who was accused of a crime. The word summon is defined as “an authoritatively or urgently call on (someone) to be present, especially as a defendant or witness in a law court.”

Today, as we continue to series on “The Pattern of the Church,” we are going to recognize an important truth that clearly defines what a church is and in doing so we are instructed on how we should behave.

The word church is a translation of a Greek Word, Ekklesia, which means “a called-out assembly or congregation.” The term comes from a Greek verb “kaleo”, which means “to call.” When you think of “the church” that is exactly what you should think of.  According to Scripture, we are “the called – the summoned.”

In Romans 8:28 there is a wonderful definition of the assembly of believers as, “the called according to his purpose.” We meet in a building that is owned by a human organization. This building is the property of the Moth’s Club.  That is a human organization.  The church is something totally different.  We are a group summoned together by God for His purpose.  We are not a human organization resulting from man’s ingenuity or power.  We are not built by good, religious people.  Rather, we have been called into existence by God.

The one big idea that I hope you take with you when you leave today is this:   The Church exists because called God called it into being for one purpose – for the praise of His glory. This fact makes the church special and must be regarded as such.

This idea of the church being called is obviously found throughout all of scripture, but for the rest of our time today we are going to focus on Ephesians 1: 3-14 to see several important truths about our calling.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

In the Greek language, this passage is one long elegant sentence to paint the beautiful picture of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit beginning and completing the reconciliation and redemption of the all those who put their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin (Grudem 1661).  At the very core of this beautiful passage of scripture is the word “called”.  Today we will see eight distinct aspects of the church’s calling.

1. Called Before – Election v. 4-5, 11

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

What did God do?

  • He Chose
  • He predestined – determine (an outcome or course of events) in advance by divine will or fate:

When did he do this?

Before the foundation of the world

The church is not something that accidentally came into being.  It is the result of God’s predetermined, sovereign call (MacArthur 119).

2 Timothy 1:9 says, “(God) saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

Remember, God exists outside of time and space.  He created those aspects of the world.  He is eternal.  In God’s mind, there is no time frame.  For Him, everything is an immediate eternal present.  The church was as real to Him before the world began as it is now” (MacArthur 119).

2. Called Out – Redemption v. 7,13

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

What have we been called out of?

  • Sin
  • Death
  • The World System

Romans 6:8-11 says, “8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” I John 2:15-17 says, “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

The church is a redeemed community, born again by the Spirit of God.  Unredeemed people who assemble in a religious/ritualistic ceremony are not part of the Church that Christ is building (MacArthur 119).

Sadly, there are many human institutions that call themselves churches all over the world.  They appear to be “alive” when really there are dead (Rev. 3:1).  Rather than being called out from the world, they are part of it, in spite of all their religious activities (MacArthur 119).  Such groups are only partially fulfilling the definition of a church.  Yes, they are an assembly, but not a called-out assembly.  Really they are just a social club that may or may not promote good morals. Having a church membership that is truly comprised of people who are saved or born-again, is so important.  We don’t want to play church.  We want to be a church.  The church should always have people in attendance who are seeking to understand the truth of God’s Word.  Never a week should go by when we don’t have unsaved people sitting in these seats listening to God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can open their spiritual understanding and draw them to faith in Christ.  However, never should a person who is still lost in sin, blind to spiritual truths, and living according to the passions of the sinful human nature be admitted as an official church member.

With membership come both privileges and responsibilities that are reserved for those who have been redeemed from sin – called out of the world. What we do not want to see at the end of time when all mankind stands before the Judgment of God is for someone who was considered a “Kitwe Church Member” to be one of those spoken of in Matthew 7:21-23 where it says,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Before we move on to the next point, let me share with you a quote that can be found on a painting in the cathedral of Lubeck, Germany (MacArthur, 120).

You call Me Master, and obey Me not;

You call Me Light, and see Me not;

You call Me the way, and walk Me not;

You call Me life, and live Me not;

You call Me wise, and follow Me not;

You call Me fair, and love Me not;

You call Me rich, and ask Me not;

You call Me eternal, and seek Me not;

If I condemn thee, blame Me not.

In Luke 6:46, Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”   The church is called out of sin, out of death, and out of the world.  Have you truly been redeemed? Are you part of God’s church?

3. Called From – Sanctification v.4

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

“Christians are supposed to manifest the holiness of our heavenly Father, our Savior, and the Spirit who dwells within us” (MacArthur 121).

I John 2:15-17 says,

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

As a church we must emphasize the importance of humility, confession of sin, and pure worship.  We have been called to live holy lives.  That means leaving sinful pleasures and sinful habits behind.  One of the reasons we often fail to do this is because we don’t have an understanding of the holiness of God.  In our pursuit of holiness, we must first recognize the holiness of God the Father and Christ.  Although God’s love should make us confident to approach Him, God’s holiness should produce within us a profound sense of awe and respect even to the point of fear if we attempted to approach Him in an unholy manner with presumptuous sins in our lives.

4. Called To – Identification v. 4-6

4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Here we see three important things about the calling of the Church that each believer is a part of once they have come to Jesus in repentance and faith.

  • How God Sees Us – Holy & Blameless
  • How God relates to us – As sons/daughters – children adopted into his family
  • How God satisfies us – He has blessed us in the Beloved

I once read a story about a high-society luncheon where an actor was guest of honor.  The host asked the famous actor to demonstrate his skill by reciting something for the guests.  The actor asked for any specific requests.  An old pastor in the crowd requested Psalm 23.  The actor agreed as long as the pastor would do the same.  When the actor finished reciting the 23rd Psalm the he received much applause.  However, the audience wept when the pastor was finished.  The actor humbly addressed the crowd saying, “You clapped for me, but you wept for him.  The difference is obvious: I know the Psalm, but he knows the shepherd” (MacArthur, 121).

As Christians, we have a special relationship with God that should be evident to the on-looking world.  They should be able to identify us as adopted children of God. “Romans 8:14-17 teaches that Christians have become intimately related to God, having been adopted as His sons.  That makes us joint heirs with Christ.  The church isn’t a group that you join by signing your name.  It isn’t merely a society committed to a system of teaching” (MacArthur 122). We don’t believe God is an all-powerful tyrant or monster waiting to step on us if we break one of His rules.  Rather, we have an intimate love relationship with Him.  We are called to a sweet intimacy with Jesus Christ – a personal, living relationship with God the Father.  As a loving Father He has rules to protect us from what He knows will be harmful to us, but He is not waiting for us to mess up so he can enjoy punishing us.  No!  He desires that we trust Him and obey Him so we can experience all the joy that comes from this loving relationship.

5. Called Under – Revelation v. 7-9

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

As a pastor, one of the most common questions I have been asked by Christians over the years has been, “what is God’s will for my life?”

Everyone seems to want to know some inside information from God.  Yet sadly, many people are ignorant of the one place where such information can be found.  The Bible!

“God has filled us in on great spiritual truths concerning life, death, God, man, and eternity” (MacArthur 123). He has also given us many principles for wise living. All of this is found in this book.  The Bible is the very word of God, not the opinion of any man. Therefore, Christians are called to submit to the Word of God.  We don’t get to need to help God out in figuring out how to run His church or run this world.  God’s ways have not been proven to be outdated or unproven.  Sadly, however, they have been untried by most who call themselves Christians and sadder still, they have been largely ignored by the leaders of God’s called out assembly – the church.

“When we meet together to plan. Pray, and serve the Lord, one thing should be central in our minds: What does the Word of God say about the matter” (MacArthur 123).

As I keep asking many of you why you come to Kitwe Church, I repeatedly here that it is because we preach and teach God’s Word clearly.  Excellent!  If we ever stop doing that then you should stop coming.

“Christians mature through the study and application of Scripture.  The job of church leaders is to equip people with the “sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17).  That means more than merely owning a Bible; rather, our people need to understand the Bible so they can use it as a weapon for good” (MacArthur 123).  Why?  Because we are in a spiritual battle.

There is a song I want us to learn here entitled, “O Church Arise,” by modern hymn writers Keith and Kristin Getty.  Let me read to you the words of verse two: “Our call to war – to love the captive soul, but to rage against the captor.  And with the sword that makes the wounded whole, we will fight with faith and valor.  When faced with trials on every side, we know the outcome is secure.  And Christ will have the prize for which he died – an inheritance of nations!

6. Called With – Unification v. 10

10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

“The ultimate purpose of God is together all things together at the completion of redemptive history.”  Revelation 5 paints a beautiful picture of that day when people from every family, tribe, nation, and language will be gathered around the throne of their redeemer Jesus Christ.  No longer will there be cultural, racial, or national barriers.  Their will be total unity caused by the one thing they all have in common – their Savior!  Oh, how I look forward to that day. However, until then the Church is the symbol of that unity.  We are the “sneak preview” of what is to come.

We are called to be one in the family of God. In the earliest years of my life my family was part of a church that called itself fundamental, but sadly that was a code word for “isolationist.” There was not fellowship or unity within the local church.  There was suspicion and fear.  People were more concerned about image than substance.  People certainly didn’t let out anything our about their inner selves for fear of being judged, rejected, shunned, and shamed. The leaders were more concerned about their control than the well-being of the sheep.   Such an environment did not foster spiritual growth.

Our assembly meetings should be a safe place to let down our guard, confess our questions, fears, doubts, and sins so that we can help one another grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Everyone should sense that although we hate sin, we love the sinner.  And everyone should recognize that even after our salvation, we still have a sin nature.  We must recognize that there is no sin that anyone has ever done that you and I are not still capable of doing.  When we have these two mentalities then we will join together in unity to attack sin, but love one another.

In Philippians 2:2 Paul says that Christians should be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in the spirit, intent on one purpose.” 

That is why I love inter-church fellowships, where one local church gathers with others.  That is why I love conferences.  We can unite with those who are equally committed to the truths of scripture to encourage and strengthen one another. Of course, there is danger in going to far.  We want to avoid both extremes of isolationism and ecumenicalism.  We do not want an ecumenical fellowship which promotes unity at all costs – including doctrine.  We must be in agreement on the core doctrines of the faith,  but let’s make sure we are not being isolationists and dividing over traditions, or small differences in interpretations. If we can agree on the major doctrines of the Bible then Scripture says there can and should be unity.

7. Called Unto – Glorification v. 11

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

An inheritance is something that is promised at one point in time and given in another.  The focus is on the future. Paul says, that in Christ we have obtained an inheritance.  What is it?  It is the final state that we experience only on the other side of heaven.  It is glorification.

“Christians are committed to glorification.  Our focus is future.  We are not citizens of this world” (MacArthur 124).

Colossians 3:1-2 says,

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Can we say that we are investing in eternal things?  Sadly, I think all too often we get sidetracked by less valuable, temporary, earthly treasures.

8. Called For – Proclamation v. 12

12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Yes, if we have been saved, if we are part of God’s called-out assembly of believers in this world, then there are privileges that await us in our glorification.  But notice, God has not taken us to heaven yet.  The glorification is still a future reality.

That leads us to take note of an important truth.  God has left us on earth for a reason.  We were “called for” something.  We have a job to do.  We were saved to serve!

“We have been called to proclaim the glory of God’s grace.  God should be glorified in how we live and in what we say” (MacArthur 124).

We have been called -we have been summoned to be witnesses of God’s grace! Think back over your life this past week.  Have your words, actions, and attitudes pointed people to your great God?The unsaved, unbelieving world should look at us and say, “Look at the group of people.  What a gracious God they have.”

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said,

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.”

My fellow believers, we are the primary manifestation of God in this world because many of those who are lost in sin will never read the Bible.  As you life out the truths of scripture, your life may be the only Bible they read.  Are you being faithful to proclaim God’s glory in word and deed?

Those who are religious, but have no relationship with Christ – those who have a form of religion, but deny the power of the Gospel should look at Kitwe Church and say, “What is different there?  They have God’s power.  They have God’s peace.  That must mean they have God’s presence.”  And it should drive them to abandon empty religion and come to seek a relationship with Christ as well.

Perhaps some of you in this room would fall into that category.  Perhaps you know that before you leave here today you need to respond to God’s free gift of righteousness, forgiveness, and eternal life.  Perhaps you need to trade in your religious activities for a relationship with Christ and become a true member of God’s church – His assembly of called-out ones by putting faith in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: 

The entire church has been called into existence by God Himself.  That helps to explain the church’s overall success and blessing.  However, we all have seen instances when a church has failed to live up to this holy calling.  The weaknesses and failures of the church are explained by the fact that God has chosen to work through human agents to accomplish His purpose – His will.

We must remember that when we succeed it is because of Him, not us.  When we fail it is because of us, not Him.  The main goal of the church is to let God work and build His kingdom as we obediently submit to His Word and Spirit (MacArthur 118).  I pray that our study of Ephesians 1 has helped us to understand the extent of what it means to be called.

If you would like to study this more for yourself, I would encourage you to read chapter 9 of John MacArthur’s book, The Master’s Plan for the Church. Bibliography: Grudem, Wayne Dr. editor, ESV Global Study Bible Notes (Wheaton: Crossway Publications, 2012) MacArthur, John. The Master’s Plan for the Church (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1991)

Download the audio sermon here.

The Beginnings of Despair


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Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

The way down to despair is always predictable and preventable. Just as there is a way down, there is also a way out!! We don’t have to live in despair. We need to understand where despair begins so we can stop it at its source.

Rom 1:21 – When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God. Though Rom. 1:21 is referring to the unsaved man, it is still the natural bent of all of our hearts.

We think up vain imaginations about our God that are not true of Him. Then we try to live in the world He created and we wonder why we struggle with the truth.

Isa. 55:7-9 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts

We exchange the truth of God for a lie. “Let the wicked (speaking of God’s people who have sinned) forsake his way” … (note God’s disposition toward us) .. “He will abundantly pardon.” God is waiting like the Prodigal Son’s father, looking down the road, wanting us in fellowship with Him.

It all starts with Unbelief.

Unbelief is hard to see sometimes. God did not give this truth to us in the form of a chart, but the flow of thought comes from the Word.

For example, Moses did not get rebuked for his anger when he struck the rock (Num. 20). God said the he did not believe God and that is why he disobeyed (Num. 20:12). God connected his action to unbelief.

Disciples in the boat “Carest thou not that we perish?” Christ – “How is it that you have no faith” (belief)… that I care for you (Mark 4:38-40). It was their unbelief that was challenged.

Heb. 12:2-3 Christ endured the cross… consider him (think/meditate about Him) lest you be weary in mind. When Christ is not our focus, our belief, we have problems. It is always a problem with belief. God made this connection.

All of us have belief (spiritual) problems! You do and I. Being humble and admitting it is the first step to the way out of despair.

Unbelief—“The Great Disorder” of the Heart

      • Unbelief is a “disorder” because it accepts the reasonings of fallen man (“vain imaginations” Rom 1:21) over the revelation of God.
      • The lie—the fantasy—of “The Great Disorder” is that “God is not doing enough for me; God Himself is not enough for me. I need something more.”

You can’t be worried/ anxious/angry if you believe God has given you what you need. Try it! Once your thoughts focus not the truth of

We have interpreted what we know about God from our experience instead of interpreting our experiences in light of what is true about do from the Scriptures.

We think we need something more today … is a fantasy. If we think these things, we don’t know God well.

If we reject what God says to be true, all we can do is live in fantasy world of imagination, because the world as we are choosing to believe it does not exist.

  • A world where God does not love does not exist.
  • A world where God is not in control of all things for our good and His glory does not exist.
  • A world where God is not with me or does not hear my cry does not exist.
  • A world where God is overly tough and mean-spirited does not exist.
  • These worlds are fantasy world of our imaginations. To live in a fantasy world is to hasten our own disintegration.

This is reality!

Phil. 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

God will always meet our genuine need. Always. What we have is what we needed because a loving, wise, powerful, caring God knew we did.

Our God exists, He has spoken, what He has said matters. The world is living a fantasy that will burn up soon. If we are not careful, we will also live in a fantasy world if we listen to our hearts deceptions.

Discontent

Discontent is the dissatisfaction of not having what we have decided we need.

The whining of our discontented heart is familiar.

  • “If only I had what I need.”
  • “I should be/have…”
  • “I don’t like…”

See if these statements of discontent sound familiar: If only my spouse/boss/parents would try to understand me. If only people appreciated me more. If only … I had more freedom/money/authority/better health/less pain/more answers about what’s going on in my life/ I hadn’t messed up/I had different parents or roommates/ I weren’t married /I was married. All these imply that I would have satisfaction if it had been different.

We might, in our minds, attempt to limit God’s ability to help our problems today because of problems in our past. With a God as powerful as ours, He does not need anything different in your past to make you different today.

Our past does not interfere with God’s ability to use us now.

Homework: Begin a list of your own “if only’s,” “I should’s,” and “I don’t likes.”

What’s the big deal?

1. God takes complaining personally. Why? Because He is the Provider. When we complain, we are denying the promise of God. Look at Numbers 11-16. God dealt with the Israelites discontent and He called it unbelief.

2. Complaining is dangerous because a “lust for more” its the basis for every temptation in the heart.

Once you think you have to have something, you are open to being tempted by it. You can’t be tempted with something that you don’t want. (Ever been tempted to pick up road kill for a cookout?)

James 1:14 – Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed.”

Legitimate concerns should be turned into prayer while surrendering the results to God.

Conclusion: Learn to look for the roots of unbelief and discontent when you see the fruit of guilt, anxiety, anger, and despair.

Listen to the message: The Beginnings of Despair

Download the Beginnings of Despair Notes.

Material from Quieting a Noisy Soul by Dr. Jim Berg, BJU Press 2006 used with permission.