God Hates & Loves Sinners

David Platt covers a really difficult concept found in Scripture: the fact that God hates sinners, but loves them as well. Let’s face it, this is not an easy topic. On the one hand, you have Psalm 5:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 

Now watch the video.

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“This is the work of God…”

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When the people ask Jesus what they may do to do the works of God, I bet they never imagined that the focus of God’s work in us is belief in Him. Jesus responded to their question by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

This verse is full of truth in that it reveals that even our faith is a work of God’s grace in us. We like to think that our faith is something that we conjure up when were driven by our fickle emotions in hearing about Jesus. But true faith never comes about by emotions. It comes by the power and the hand of God. This is what He does in saving us. He tells us we are to believe in His Son, then works the faith in our hearts, so that we can believe.

I know many reject this truth because they want to cling onto their ability to believe in Christ for salvation. This is where we differ when it comes to the gospel. Those with Calvinist leanings, like myself, understand that even our faith is a gift of God’s grace toward us so that He gets all the glory for our salvation. If we accept this truth, then we can also take great comfort in the passage found in Hebrews 12:1-2.

Therefore… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

He is the author of our faith, in that His Spirit worked in us so that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear. He worked in us, giving us a heart to believe. He worked in us, so that when we heard the gospel, we would actually hear from Him (Romans 10:14). This is the work of God, that we believe in Him whom the Father has sent. All of our salvation is the work of God in our lives. He is the One who began a good work, and will see it to the day of salvation.

When we accept the premise above that even our faith is from Him, then we can find the assurance of salvation that so many of us struggle with because we also see that the One who began it, will see it to its completion. If our faith is dependent upon something that we have done, then we know rightly that we can lose our faith and our salvation is only as certain as our fickle emotions. Yet, if our faith is something He produced in us, then we can rest assured that He is the finisher of that faith as well.

Let’s not make the mistake of the people who asked God what they could do. When it comes to saving faith, nothing but believing in Him is the only answer. We cannot walk an aisle, say a prayer, give $10,000 to Joel Osteen, go to a Bible conference, or even be baptized. All we can do is believe, and then we must trust in the Spirit to work faith in us.

In other words, if we are truly saved, then we know it is because of God’s rich mercy toward us. Many, like the people in Christ’s time, want nothing to do with God’s mercy. They want more Law, even though the Law condemns us all the more, even though we are unable of keeping the Law, even though it signs our death warrants. This is one reason the people in Christ’s day were so furious with Him. They liked the Law, and their false-belief that they were actually keeping the Law. But the gospel stands to show us otherwise. The gospel stands to show us… we are in need of God’s mercy and His hand working in us.

The Underestimated God

There are some sermons that are so good, they must be listened to more than once. The one posted below by Ligon Duncan is one of those sermons. This message has helped my understanding of the bigger picture of what God is doing more than any in a while. Just listen and see how God was working in Elijah, even in Elijah’s failures. As Ligon points out, sometimes the answer to our desires and prayers is “no” because God is doing something bigger than our desires.

Give yourself some time to listen.

Hattip: Heath. And Heath, thanks for sharing this with me. I do appreciate that.

The Charge of Hypocrisy

We often hear the charge of hypocrisy from those outside the church. It’s an easy charge since the church is full of sinners and we tend to fall short of God’s glory like the rest of mankind.

I even had my doctor mention it to me the last time I had an appointment. She pointed out that the church was fully of hypocrites. I know the temptation is to say, “well, there is room for one more.”

But that would have missed an great opportunity. I answered her in the affirmative and said that when it comes to the heart of Christianity, we know that we are all hypocrites. That is the point. No one lives up to the righteous requirements of the Law. This is why we need Jesus as our Savior. He did live up to those requirements. In doing so, He is able to save any hypocrite that is willing to trust in Him for salvation.

I hope it and pray it planted a seed that the Spirit will water with the word. We will see. She seemed quite bitter about religion in general. In fact, her main attack was on the Roman Catholic Church and Jews in Israel. That shouldn’t surprise us since they suffer from the same problems we do. But I think it wise to admit our short comings and point to Christ. He is the answer to our hypocritical problem.

Photog Joey!

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The above picture came about when I said, “Joey, can you go get the camera?” I didn’t think he would use it, but Joey, being the stinker than he can be, had other ideas. I knew after he took a while to bring the camera that he was up to something. That is just Joey. (See here for more of his antics).

This was his first picture. I wanted to take pictures of us working on our fish-tank project together, but I wanted to be the one taking the photos. That didn’t happen. Joey was too much of a shutterbug. He probably gets it from me, but I’m denying that.

The project we were working on was trying to get enough rocks for Andy’s fish tank. Somewhere in the move last year, I lost the rocks we had for the tank. My father suggested that we pick up some pebbles and stones off his driveway and save some money. Great idea. It was a lot of work, and didn’t end up working because the rocks raised the ph level too high for fish. We ended up pulling all the driveway rocks back out of the tank and buying new ones.

AS for Photog (short for photographer) Joey, he wasn’t through! All the photos in this post are copyright Joseph N. Hammons 2014., just in case you needed to know that.

His next photo is when he was still being sneaky. He didn’t realize that the camera would fail to focus, given that this shot is through a bush. But I love his ambition here. Take secret pictures of Dad and Andy without us knowing. At this point, we didn’t know he had taken these shots. I didn’t realize it until I found the lens cap on the back porch where the above photo was taken.

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The next shot, the cat was out of the bag (that is a figure of speech for any animal lovers in my audience. I don’t put cats into bags.) This is a close up of his brother, with his big smile.

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Of course, no photographer ever completes his work without a self portrait. We just so happen to call them selfies now instead of self portraits.

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And finally, no 7-year-old photographer has a complete line of work without taking a photo of his brother’s…. butt.

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Yes, I know. I should be grown up enough not to publish such a… well, base piece of art. But there is too much Joey in me to pass up on the opportunity!  I hope you enjoyed Joey’s first art show!

Trolly Car

 

 

Not my best photo, but I liked it because it gives a good sense of downtown San Antonio. I wish that I had spent more time there taking pictures.

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Taking Up Our Crosses

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeveral times in the Gospels, Jesus says “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23).”

This passage is rich with spiritual truth and truly eye-opening for those of us who are following Christ because it is not a passage of comfort and ease. The very image He is giving is one of death and self denial. Just think of what we know about those who were crucified. They had to bear their own cross to the hill where they were put to death after being flogged with a cat-o-nine-tails. It was a gruesome way to die.

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San Antonio River Walk

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I took this as I and about 10 other pastors gathered on the walk to enjoy refreshments and talk all manner of things. The meetings that took place on Saturday went very smoothly and I was glad that I attended the meeting.

What I came away with most of all is that I have the desire to return to full-time ministry if the LORD opens the door for me. For the past 18 months, that desire was not really there, I was in survival mode and still am in many ways. But I heard of two churches that need pulpit supply and I’m hoping that I can go down and preach for them on a few Sundays.

All in all, it was worth the effort to attend the meeting. I met a lot of great men and was truly encouraged. Here’s hoping to positive change in the coming months.

Downtown San Antonio and Redeemer Presbyterian Church

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I realized that I was lost as I walked down the streets of San Antonio. I knew where I was, but where I was, wasn’t where I was supposed to be and there was no alignment in what I saw and my destination. I was looking for Redeemer Presbyterian Church of San Antonio. That was where the presbytery meeting was being held. A fellow pastor invited me to the presbytery meeting so I could get to know some of our fellow pastors  throughout south Texas. I would not be there as a presbyter, because my membership is in another presbytery. I would be a guest.

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In the Beginning, God!

I really do like the way that the Bible starts out in Genesis 1:1. Moses writes the first few words of the Bible as a stated fact. He doesn’t ask if we think there was a god, or there might have been a god, but “In the beginning God…” He writes as if he were telling a story about something that happened just that morning.

“This morning, I got up out of bed…” A simple statement about my day and when I make it, no one assumes it’s not true. In fact, if we were to ask the same questions of the atheist when they make an obvious statement like the one found in Genesis 1:1, we might just frustrate them a bit. “Really, how do we know you even exist to get up out of bed?” “What scientific evidence do you have for your rising up out of bed, and for your existence at all?” “How can you prove you got up out of bed this morning, and how do we know you won’t skew the results of this proof?” Or worse, “Sorry, but you don’t exist, therefore you did not get out of bed at all.”

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“But The Bible Was Written By Men!”

Often times we hear objections from non-believers that we cannot trust the Bible because it was written by men. The implication is that the Bible is fallible because men wrote it, men who were simply giving their opinion, or worse, conspiring to say something that God never said. It is the quickest way to stifle conversation or thought among non-believers. Never mind the fact that men are making this judgment that we cannot trust the Bible. Which means if men are so fallible that we cannot trust the Bible, then how can we trust their opinion that we cannot trust the Bible because men made it, and they are men, and men are making opinion statements… wow, that was confusing. But you get the idea.

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