By: Pastor Scott Brodd
I came across another gem in my devotionals this morning from Charles Spurgeon I felt compelled to share here.
“It is only through a mediator that we poor defiled ones can ever become priests unto God. I present what I have before the messenger, the angel of the covenant, the Lord Jesus; and through him my prayers find acceptance wrapped up in his prayers; my praises become sweet as they are bound up with bundles of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia from Christ’s own garden. If I can bring him nothing but my tears, he will put them with his own tears in his own bottle for he once wept; if I can bring him nothing but my groans and sighs, he will accept these as an acceptable sacrifice, for he once was broken in heart, and sighed heavily in spirit. I myself, standing in him, am accepted in the Beloved; and all my polluted works, though in themselves only objects of divine abhorrence, are so received, that God smelleth a sweet savour. He is content and I am blessed. See, then, the position of the Christian—“a priest—standing—before the angel of the Lord.”
Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Morning November 27, AM reading.
By: Pastor Scott Brodd
For years, as a Protestant Evangelical follower of Jesus, I've dismissed Lent as a "high-church-attempt-to-earn-God's-favor" tradition and refused any and every chance to look into the value of such a ritual. I was wrong. Despite the ways I've seen Lent abused and misused, the merit of the gift of Lent still holds true, especially when understood rightly as a personal fast to prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. While observing Lent is not explicitly commanded in Scripture, fasting is often encouraged and commanded as a means to communicate your hunger for God to work on your heart and in your life for spiritual growth into maturity. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 1st) and ends Easter Sunday, lasting approximately 40 days. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting in preparation to launch His ministry, Lent encourages us to spend 40 days fasting in order to prepare our hearts and minds for the greatest celebration of all time, Resurrection Sunday. "It is a time for fasting and self-denial, though not for denial itself. It is a period to empty ourselves of lesser things so that we might be filled with the greater things of the Gospel. Whereas Advent is a season of ever-increasing light awaiting the incarnation of Christ, Lent is a season of ever-decreasing light approaching the cross."
One of the ministries I look to most to shepherd my heart is The Village Church located in Texas. This year, to encourage their church family to observe Lent, they have published various resources individuals and families can use to help them press deeper into the "common grace" of Lent.
One of those resources is the following video of their teaching pastor, Matt Chandler, explaining why Lent, (when rightly understood) can have a profound impact on your relationship with Jesus. I encourage you to watch it.
In addition, The Village Church has also published a Lent Guide, a free, printable ebook anyone can access. "This guide walks you through the seven weeks of Lent. Each week includes a reading from the life of Christ in the Gospel of Luke, as well as four supplemental passages to consider throughout the week. Additionally, there is a suggested fast to coincide with each week."
My wife and I have committed to observing Lent this year using this resource. It is free to download, simply click the button below. Will you join me in preparing our hearts to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus?
Beach Lake FM Church does not claim any rights to this resource; all rights reserved by The Village Church.
By: Pastor Scott Brodd
Just imagine this for a minute: you're behind enemy lines, in territory held captive to a ruthless, malicious adversary bent on your destruction. His ways are cunning, his tactics are plentiful, and he will not relent until you lay in ruins. He sets before you lethal traps and pits and lures you into them with those things that entice your heart. He seeks not just to capture you, but to control you and enslave you to his merciless rule. He is seeking to end you.
Who is this enemy? You might be thinking of Satan, but I'm not (though the same could be said of him too). No, this enemy is Sin, who disguises himself as your friend seeking your good but is truly your enemy seeking your demise. Just as God warns and exhorts Cain in Genesis 4:7, "sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it" (ESV), He also warns us that "when [we] want to do right, evil lies close at hand" (Rom. 7:21 ESV) and exhorts us to, "by the Spirit... put to death the deeds of the body (sin)" (Rom. 8:13 ESV).
Unfortunately, when it comes to this front of the war we won't ever step out of this enemy's territory; on this side of eternity, we will never meander into a safe zone where we can lower our defenses and enjoy our surroundings rather than examine them for enemy advances. Why won't we ever find rest from war in this life? Because...
This enemy dwells within us!
Paul candidly confessed in Romans 7:23, "I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members" (ESV). Our greatest enemy, the enemy that condemns us to judgment, still lives within us. Though we've been set free from the tyranny of sin (Rom. 6:6-7), sin hasn't been fully removed and will not be until Christ resurrects our bodies to new life. Therefore, we're in a constant war, from sun up till sun down. The moment our feet touch the bedroom floor we're in enemy territory. So how do we make war with this enemy within? How do we kill this savage tyrant?
Look to Jesus as our example. Yes, you know the story well. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted into sin by Satan, the greatest tempter of all. In Satan's three hostile advances, Jesus countered the attack with the only defense we have against sin: The Word of God. I guarantee you know fully well the fact that Jesus used passages of scripture like a sword to parry the enemy's advances. My point is not to show you something new, but rather something lacking. What I mean is, do you give weight to His example? Do you give this fact enough credibility to the point where you regularly equip yourself by memorizing strategic passages of scripture (War Verses) to help you make war against the enemy's advances? This is a discipline I've stepped in and out of throughout my life, but in the times when I am regularly memorizing war verses, I find I do not sin as much and I walk in greater joy.
To help me in this war against sin, I've gathered and memorized various passages of scripture I've chosen to help me put to death the various ways sin raises its ugly head. To help you in your war against sin, below is a chart of the transgressions listed in Colossians chapter three along with corresponding War Verses, each of which I encourage you to memorize and arm yourself for the day of war. Sin is looking to destroy you. Rule over it!
By: Pastor Scott Brodd
I can hear the words in my head over and over again, the words I often recited with the rest of the congregation on Sunday morning in response to the pastor's cue. He would start out the chorus by declaring, "God is good..." then we would respond, "All the time!" Then, to solidify that truth in our heads, he would then reverse the wording by repeating the congregation's words, "All the time..." then we would respond with the original promise, "God is good!"
As I sit here holding our 3-month-old daughter, the baby who the odds were stacked against because of a high-risk pregnancy due to a rare pregnancy-related condition Kaitlin (my wife) suffered from, the same baby who the head of the OB/GYN department at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital said, "all we can do is pray," I can't help but repeat over and over again my pastor's promise...
GOD is GOOD
What a great promise that is! Our God is morally, perfectly, supremely, eternally good in all of His ways. His Word is saturated with reminders of this refrain: "You [God] are good and do good..." (Ps. 119:68 ESV), "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good..." (Ps. 107:1 ESV), "The LORD is good to all..." (Ps. 145:9 ESV), "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!" (Ps. 34:8 ESV). There is no doubt about it... God is in fact good, and "[He] is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8 ESV).
However, when is it that we most often joyfully recount this three-word promise of God's goodness? What posts or tweets are worthy enough to merit the hashtag #Godisgood or even a short comment from friends, "God is good!"? Usually, those events/posts that are deemed worthy concern something joyous or favorable happening in our lives. If you do a quick search on Facebook or twitter of the hashtag "#GodIsGood," you will discover a vast array of exciting and positive events in the lives of your friends (or even your own) that have been tagged with this very promise. For example, "I have an interview for a new job with better pay and benefits... #Godisgood," "Thankful that we were able to spend our Thanksgiving together with family this year... #Godisgood," "We're moving into our new house today...#Godisgood," "Our baby was brought into this world alive and well, despite a deadly pregnancy-related condition...#Godisgood," Now, of course, God is good and everything good that happens in our lives is because of His handiwork, from new jobs to new babies, all because of that amazing truth. To not attribute "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17 ESV) as coming from God's goodness would be sin.