Here is the twelfth in a series of audio sermons on the First Epistle of John by Phillip Jensen; the name of the series is “1 John: Living Confidently in a Dangerous World”. This message is titled The Testimony that Believes and is based on 1 John 5:4-15. It can be heard at this link, or you can use the player below.
I’ve been listening to the album Psalms by Sandra McCracken, and wanted to mention the song “Sweet Comfort” as one among several of her songs that I find outstanding. Below you’ll find a YouTube video and I will also post the words. Both words and music are beautiful.
Whatever my God ordains is right
His holy will abides
I will be still whatever he does
And follow where he guides
Sweet comfort, sweet comfort
Yet shall fill my heart
Sweet comfort, sweet comfort
Sorrow shall depart
Whatever my God ordains is right
He makes my feet to stand
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine
He holds me in his hand (Chorus)
This bitter cup, I take it
My fainting heart restored
So here I stand, unshaken
I trust upon the Lord (Chorus)
He is my God though dark my road
He holds me, I shall not fall
Whatever my God ordains as right
To him I leave it all. (Chorus)
I thought I would mention one of Fr. Bill Klock’s latest messages, Be Renewed in the Spirit of Your Mind, which is based on Ephesians 4:17-32. In particular I found this portion worth considering for any of us, since these sins are surely things we all must fight:
And so Paul can end saying:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:30-32)
We all know people who are bitter and angry. I remember counselling someone once who was overflowing with bitterness, but he said, “This is just who I am and I’m not going to change!” He thought that by being bitter he was being free and that I was trying to chain him up by telling him to stop being bitter, but in fact it was bitterness that had him in bondage. His mind was captive to futility and his bitterness was the evidence. But the Spirit frees us from that kind of bondage. The Spirit sets our minds on Jesus and the natural and free outflowing then ought to be an outpouring of Christ-likeness in our lives: things like love and kindness and grace. And, Friends, in doing that we manifest Jesus and his kingdom, we manifest our hope to the world around us.
I’m convinced this is part of what St. Paul was getting at when he wrote to the Philippians, telling them to “work out their salvation”. “Work out your salvation” doesn’t mean that we save ourselves through good works. What Paul’s getting at is the practical outworking of the Spirit having renewed our minds. The Spirit has thrown out the filth, the lies, the rebellion so that we can think straight about the Lord Jesus and so that we can set our minds on the hope of the world and the age to come. Paul’s given this list of dos and don’ts, but his point isn’t to put us into some new kind of bondage. He’s trying to show us the mind of Christ so that we are set us free to really and truly live out the Good News. It’s like learning the rules of spelling and vocabulary. Those rules aren’t there to bind us up. They’re there so that once we’ve learned them we can be free to speak and write and express ourselves. And so Paul shows us Jesus and he reminds us what Jesus has done for us and what his new world is going to be like and he turns us loose, and says: work out what the salvation Jesus has brought us looks like within the unique particulars of your life and personality. What does it look like to live out the Christian hope for you. How can you in your life and vocation and with your unique gifts live and think as a day-dweller in the midst of a world still in the dark? Brothers and Sisters, this is what it means to have the mind of Christ. In Jesus the Spirit has set our minds on something worthwhile and of value. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Now let that truth work out into your actions and in your day to day life. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Indeed, that is the crux of the matter: to live these truths out in our daily lives. If you’d like to hear the sermon, you can do so here or on the player below.
From the Rev. Clive Hawkins of St. Mary’s Church, Basingstoke in the United Kingdom, here is an audio sermon on Are we culpable? that is based on Romans 1:18-32. Here, Rev. Hawkins addresses that famous passage in St. Paul’s Epistle that describes “the downward spiral” of human sinfulness. Are we all culpable for our sin? In this message, Rev. Hawkins answers that question.
From Dr. Richard Trucks of Third Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, here is a message based on John 14:15-27, titled “The Remodeling of a Believer’s Heart”. This well-known passage addresses the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer, and that title is quite apt in its description of this event. I think you’ll find this a worthwhile sermon.
Here is another video from the folks at Prager University, asking: “Can You Trust The Press?” After seeing how some of the media performed in the recent debates, one has to say that is an excellent question.
Writing for 9Marks Journal, the writer and social critic Os Guinness has penned a rather good essay, titled The Shift from Authority to Preference—And Its Consequences for the Church. He asks such questions as “are we changing the world – or being changed by it?” And this observation is excellent:
There is no question the world would like to change the church. In area after area only the church stands between the world and its success over issues such as sexuality. Unquestionably the world would like to change the church, but does the church still want to change the world, or is its only concern to change the church in the light of the world? Something is rotten in the state of evangelicalism, and all too often it is impossible to tell who is changing whom.
There are always essential questions to ask of anyone we hear or anything we read. What is being said? Is it true? And what of it? All three questions are discounted in our modern age of information, but as Christians we must never allow the truth question to be removed from its central place. To be sure, faithfulness is costly in the short term. It is upstream and against the flow, and the flow that was once politically correct can suddenly become a raging and life-threatening intolerance.
But costly though that stand may be, it is never as costly as the long-term price of rejecting the authority of Jesus and abandoning the way of life in the gospel. Our Lord warned of that very danger: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:28).
Read the whole thing, if you would, and indeed the whole issue of 9Marks Journal is worth a look.
This month’s free audiobook from christianaudio: “The Poverty of Nations” by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus
This month’s free audiobook from christianaudio is something quite different: The Poverty of Nations, by theologian Wayne Grudem and economist Barry Asmus. The notes say:
The whole world has a stake in the war against poverty and leaders across the globe are looking for a permanent solution. That’s why economist Barry Asmus and theologian Wayne Grudem have teamed up to outline a robust proposal for fighting poverty on a national level. Speaking to the importance of personal freedom, the rule of law, private property, moral virtue, and education, this book offers a clear path for promoting economic prosperity and safeguarding a country’s long-term stability—a sustainable solution for a world looking for the way forward.
This could indeed be a very helpful book – if you are interested, give The Poverty of Nations a try.