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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Today’s Sermon

Hello again!

Today the pastor preached on Isiah 8:22 and 9:3-4. From these passages he got five main points:

  1. Oppression. Here the pastor talked on how people tend to turn to the wrong things to find solutions to their problems. He said they tend to go to the “Earth”, instead of to Christ.
  2. Illumination. The pastor talked here about zeal for the Lord. i.e. That our zeal for the Lord will spread Christ’s light.
  3. Celebration. Here he talked about how all nations are blessed by Christ.
  4. Liberation. Here the pastor talked about how the people in Isiah’s day would have known what it was like to have a “bar across their shoulders. He said that we too had a bar across our shoulders – one of sin, but that it was lifted from us and put on Jesus.
  5. Incarnation. Here the pastor concluded by talking about how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the previous four points: Jesus bore unimaginable oppression  He was the very light of the World. He is the reason we can celebrate, and He has freed us from our sins (we are liberated).

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

P.S. I apologize if the points don’t seem connected. I assure you they were connected quite nicely in his sermon, but I couldn’t quite remember the finer details of the sermon.

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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Knowing God is Near

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:16-18)

This passage is quite encouraging; even when it seems like we’ve been deserted, God is always with us. Knowing God is with us, though, is quite difficult at times. The Bible assures us in multiple different passages that God is always with us, but when we experience something like what Job or even Paul experienced, how can we know for sure? It seems that going through what either of these two men went through would shake anyone’s faith.

The answer is somewhat simple: We have to look to the cross. See, when hard times come, we don’t really have to believe God is with us, so much as Christ has died for us. This is because of two simple reasons:

  1. God sent His very own son to die for us, to make us His sons. What human father abandons His children? And how much greater than a human father is God?
  2. If we believe Christ died for us in order to save us, we must also believe He completely finished the work He set out to do. Meaning, that since Christ promised that after He died He would send the Holy Spirit to live within us, He must indeed have done so.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Old Testament: Is it Actually ‘Useful’?

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

All Scripture, Old and New Testaments, are useful in teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness… However, there are some books of the Bible, such as Numbers, Lamentations, and Leviticus, which, when we look at them, don’t appear to be exactly “helpful” in any of these areas. The book of Numbers can seem like nothing more than a bunch of useless numbers and history. The book of Lamentations can appear to be nothing more than a man lamenting. The book of Leviticus can seem like nothing more than rules and regulations which are no longer helpful to us.

They are much more than that though: Numbers is an account of how God sustained His people. Lamentations shows us that, even for a believer in God, things do get tough at times (we have to look at the New Testament in order to see that, even when things get tough, God always either helps us endure or provides a way out). As for Leviticus, while the rules within it are no longer applicable to those who have been saved through the blood of Christ, it can still aid us in showing us exactly what Jesus went through for us on the cross. For example, burnt offerings were consumed completely in fire. Likewise Jesus, the final burn offering, was consumed completely in God’s wrath for us on the cross.

The Old Testament is more than a collection of stories. It can be, when we look at it in light of what Jesus has done for us (i.e., in light of the New Testament), can be an encouraging and helpful aid in our walk with the Lord. We just have to look at Job in order to see that whatever trouble we’re going through now is meant to build us in the Lord. We can look to Noah’s ark, and see that God saves His people through the wood. 1 Kings 19:18 tells us that, even when it seems like no one around us believes in Christ, there are those that do.

In conclusion: The Bible doesn’t lie. When Paul says that all Scriptures are useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, he truly does mean all Scriptures, both from the New and Old Testaments.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Cleansing

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:20-22)

Now, it is certainly true that we have been saved by grace, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. However, this does not mean we can continue living like we once did. Paul charges us here to, “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace,”. Paul says this more clearly in Romans 6:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)

Jesus has already cleansed us of our sin nature, but it’s our job to, through Christ’s strengthening us, resist our flesh. In other words, we should cleanse our-self (again, through God’s strength, and not our own) from things we are tempted towards. One way we can do this is by removing any access to the thing we’re tempted towards. Other things we can do to cleanse our-self is to get in the Word, to pray, and to be around other believers. Also, there’s the obvious thing we can do, which is to obey Paul’s command to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Meditating on Jesus

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Meditate on Jesus, the Messiah, who was raised from the dead and is a descendant of David. This is the gospel I tell others. (2 Timothy 2:8) – A quick side note here: I prefer the ISV translation of this verse simply because I believe “meditate” has a stronger meaning than “remember”, which is how the ESV translates it).

Paul first talks about what we are to do for Christ (see 2 Timothy 2:1-7), and now he is telling us to remember what Christ did for us. Indeed, not only to remember, but to meditate upon it. Meditation implies finding a quiet place, clearing your mind of all other thoughts, and focusing only upon Christ. – The World has its own form of meditation, where you clear your mind of all thoughts except those which build you up. While this can sometimes provide temporary relief from stress, it cannot truly fix our problems. It’s only by focusing on Jesus and the mighty work which He has accomplished for us that we can truly have our problems erased.

Jesus once told a parable about a man who built his house on sand, and a man who built his house on rock. Storms came to both houses, but only the house which had been built upon rock survived the storms. Jesus is our rock, and we are to mentally “build a house” on Him. Meaning that we are to settle down, as it were, on Him. When you live somewhere, you see that place constantly. You can’t go outside without seeing where you live; for that matter, you can’t even go inside without seeing where you live. It should be the same with us and Christ: If He truly is our rock, and if we truly have built our-self upon Him, it only makes sense that we ought to be thinking constantly of Him. He is our savior and our Redeemer, He deserves our constant praise and worship. Of course, we can’t hope that thoughts of us won’t ever intrude upon thoughts of Him here on Earth, we have to wait until we get to Heaven for that to happen. However, we can certainly set time apart to be with Jesus, and think on Him.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Today’s Sermon

Hello again!

Today the pastor preached on Luke 2: 8-20. His main point was that we should, “let the Angel’s song encourage us to:

  • Find Wonder in God’s Presence (vs.16).
  • Let Our Wonder Become Contagious (vs. 17-18).
  • Worship God with Wonder and Awe (vs. 20).

His point was that we, as Christians, often lose the wonder of how Jesus gave His very life for us. The sermon encouraged us to regain the wonder we had for the amazing work Jesus has done for us.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Athletic Soldier-Farmers for Christ

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. (2 Timothy 2:3-6)

Share in Christ’s sufferings first, then in all you do aim to please God, then in all you do make sure to “compete according to the rules”. Once you’ve done all that, you can expect your reward… This is how the passage might apply to our lives. It has some obvious applications for pastors as well (it was, after all, written for a pastor: Timothy), but for now let’s focus on the impact it can have on our own lives.

Paul always make sure that the most important point comes first in his letters, and here is no different. He reminds Timothy to, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus ought, to share in Christ’s sufferings. Back then this could have been meant quite literally that Timothy was to be willing to share in Christ’s physical suffering. Even today, in certain parts of the World, this can have a physical meaning. However, for those who have been blessed with a life which isn’t currently being threatened, I believe it can also have a Spiritual meaning: i.e., that we should be willing to see and, in some small part, “feel” what Christ suffered on the cross, when He took our sin and guilt and shame upon Himself..

The next part of what Paul tells Timothy, says to not get involved with “civilian pursuits”, but aim to please God. This has rather obvious application to our own life: We should not allow anything to become more important in our life than doing all that we can to please God.

Paul’s next point, is that an athlete is only crowned when he competes according to the rules. This point perhaps applies a bit more to pastors than to others, as I believe Paul intended this to mean that pastors are to preach “according to the rules”; i.e. according to the “rules” the Bible sets out for pastors. That being said, it’s also quite important for us to obey the doctrines the Bible lays out for us.

Paul’s final point is that the “hard-working farmer” should get the first share from the crops. I believe this point was also intended rather more for pastors, as Paul is stating that a preacher that plants the seeds of the Gospel in his congregation, ought to be paid. However, it should also tell us non-pastoring people that we should indeed give at least something to our pastor. Most work quite hard to write and to preach sermons, and so long as those sermons include the power of God, they ought to be rewarded with money for their hard work.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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