May 9, 2013

Today you should read: Nehemiah 1

Today we start the book of Nehemiah and Nehemiah lived during the time when they saw the words of Deuteronomy 28:36-37 come true:

The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the Lord will lead you away.

Due to Israel’s disobedience God allowed other nations to come in and destroy them and take some away to other nations. We see this begin in 2 Kings 24 & Jeremiah 39.

In the book of Nehemiah we get a glimpse into life during the exile. Nehemiah was an exile in Persia where he was cup bearer to King Artaxerxes. The role of cup bearer was very significant because it meant that Nehemiah had direct access to the King.

Our chapter starts off with Nehemiah getting a bad report about Jerusalem. Nehemiah hears that there is still a remnant in Jerusalem but things were not going well. The walls were torn down and shame was brought on all the people. This was once a great and proud nation that represented Yahweh, the God of the universe. Now they are at the mercy of all other nations and a laughing stock at that.

So how did Nehemiah respond?

  1. He Mourned. Nehemiah recognized the travesty that had happened to Israel. Notice he does not cry to God and ask him why he would do this to his people. Nehemiah knew exactly why all of this happened and he is saddened because of Israel’s sin against God (v.6). Nehemiah was humbled and desired mercy for the sin of the people. How often do we mourn over our sin before God? Do you desire not to sin because you know it is against our merciful and just God? Or do you push the line of grace? (Romans 6:1-3)
  2. He Repented. Not only did he recognize his own sin and repent but he repented for the sin of his people. Repentance is the key to freedom and Nehemiah understood that. When you sin and are convicted do you react in repentance? Or do you run away from God and excuse the sin?
  3. He Remembered the Promise of God. Nehemiah knew that God was still God and he always keeps his promises. Nehemiah leaned upon the word of God (v.9-10). When we sin we should have the same response that Nehemiah had and remember the promise of the Gospel (Ephesians 2:8-10). God is faithful to forgive us and grow us into the image of his son (1 John 1:8-9, Philippians 1:6). However, it starts when we recognize that our lives are to glorify him and not ourselves.

Let us be men and women of prayer today. Let’s praise God for his name sake and rejoice in his mercy upon us.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

May 8, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Peter 3:1-18

Jesus is coming back – and I believe it will be soon.  People have always doubted that He would (v.3-4).  He says He’s coming – but nothing has changed since the beginning of time – where is He?  The problem is, they forgot that God – who created the world – always has a plan, and that He does things in His time.  His time is different from ours – to Him, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day.  That’s how it is when you live outside of time.  But make no mistake – Jesus is coming back for His church.  Jesus will come like a thief does – when no when expects it.

How will that happen?

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Since we know this is going to happen – imminently – at any moment – this should affect how we live (v.11).  We should live our days like we will see Jesus tonight.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 2 Peter 3:14

Why hasn’t Jesus come back already?  He’s giving people time to be saved (v.15).  Getting that message to our friends and family MUST be our top priority.  Time is running out…

So… thinking all of this through should motivate us to:

  • Live holy
  • Think heavenly (Philippians 3:20-21)
  • Witness hastily

Posted by: Tim Parsons

May 7, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Peter 2:1-22

fetalpositioncryYou may be rocking back and forth in the fetal position after reading today’s chapter. Peter did not hold back when describing God’s wrath and judgment reserved for those who are known as false teachers or wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s a sobering thought to know that there are people in the body of Christ who give off the appearance of a Christian that have certain positions of authority and influence will purposefully use those positions to deceive God’s people and blaspheme God’s word. These people are not just the average “lost” person who is blind to their sin and as Jesus described while hanging on the cross “doesn’t know what they are doing.” They know what they are doing and using Christ’s good, holy name to do it, reveling in their deceptions as they sit amongst you (vs. 13).

That’s part of the reason why Peter is so blunt in his warning and condemnation for these wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s also why we need to be discerning and wise within the church ourselves. Usually these people start to show their true colors in sexual immorality, greed and other sinful characteristics (vs. 10-16). Not only do we have to keep an eye out for unrepentant hearts exhibiting these characteristics; but pay close attention to their teachings of closed hand issues like the exclusivity of the Gospel (vs. 1) and inerrancy of God’s Word (vs. 3). Of course, these characteristics and teachings don’t always come out at first and will most likely slowly leak out. And if you’re not careful, that wolf in sheep’s clothing will convince enough stupid sheep that what they are teaching and doing is from God and will lead people to Hell. All within the same community that Jesus calls to be a light in a dark world. That’s why the same judgment waters reserved for the wickedness of Noah’s time and the wrath that was poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah is used as an example for what is to come for those who use Jesus’ church to purposefully lead others away from truth. So, just like Peter was clear and blunt concerning heretical teachers within the church, I will leave you with a clear and blunt quote by Mark Driscoll when preaching at a Desiring God Conference a few years ago… “We must feed the sheep, rebuke the swine, and shoot the wolves,”

Questions to ponder regarding 2 Peter 2:

1. Have you ever seen a church suffering the consequences or fallout of a false teacher? What steps could have been taken beforehand?

2. How should we discern between ignorance in false teachings and aspiration to deceive others in the church? Should we treat those people differently?

3. How does CPC protect its flock in such matters?

Posted by: Erik Koliser

May 6, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Peter 1:12-21

When you depart from your job, your campus, your town, your neighborhood, your ministry, or this life what do you hope to leave behind?  Peter wanted to leave something behind:

And I will be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.—2 Peter 1:15

He wanted to leave behind some teachings that are foundational to the Christian faith, which were mentioned in the first 11 verses of the chapter.  In verses 12-14, Peter said he would always be ready to remind them of these things, even though they already knew them and were established in these truths.  He considered it right “to stir them up by way of reminder.”

Peter has no problem teaching things that these believers already knew.  He is teaching seemingly foundational truths to people who were already established in the truth.  Why?  Because, as verse 15 tells us, he wanted the believers to be able to call these things to mind after he departed.  He wanted to make sure they knew what they already knew because they would need to be able to remember these teachings for themselves and so that they could teach others in the future.

I was reminded of some great disciple-making principles as I read this little section of Scripture:

  1. Re-teach the foundational truths over and over.  Why?  Because we never “graduate” from these foundational truths.  The foundational truths are deep, and without a firm grasp on these truths, our disciples will never be able to grow to their full potential.
  2. Never assume that I am boring my disciples by re-teaching and reminding them what they already know.  Why?  Just because they know the truth doesn’t mean they know how to teach the truth.  Also, just because they know the truth doesn’t mean they won’t forget certain aspects of the truth.

I’m a firm believer that people need to have a firm grasp on the foundational truths of assurance of salvation, forgiveness, the Spirit-filled life, purity, the importance of the Word and prayer, fellowship, and how to share the gospel.  I find these foundational truths to be “the good stuff” or “the deep stuff.”

When I depart from this life, or from this role that I serve, or from my neighborhood, I hope I leave behind a bunch of people who can easily call to mind some biblical foundational truths to apply to their own lives and be confidently able to teach these truths to other people.

Posted by: Rich Duffield