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All I Have is Christ

– A Prayer from Elder Bill Pritchett

Father God,

Thank you for the reminder that while we might think we know the way through this life, that the sin and temptation that promises joy and life actually leads to our destitution. That if You had not loved us first, we would refuse You still. We confess Father that we still can struggle in this area, that we are still tempted to look to other things to satisfy ourselves. That we still think that we know the way and that our way is best.

Lord God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips hesitate and tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

Lord, we ask that You fix our eyes back on You. That we are constantly reminded of our need of a savior and that that reminder is beautifully refreshing and causes us to cling to the truths of the gospel.

You are good and You show us more grace everyday than we could ever deserve. You are faithful and do not let us be plucked out of Your hand, even when that is what our fate should be.

Father, in light of the election, we pray for the leaders of this country, whether today or those that will be assuming office in a few months. We pray for humility and wisdom and that those who do not know You and call You Lord, that their heart will be softened toward You. Father, it seems with this election specificity that no matter who is elected, many will be unhappy and frustrated. Let us be different, let us be a light, let our confidence in You not be shaken. That we will remind ourselves and others that You appoint the leaders. Let our response or reaction not be one of prideful boasting or fear and despair, but one that reflects our trust in You and Your sovereignty.

Whether the election, or frustration or stress with our jobs, or tension at home, or the reminder that our body is susceptible to disease, fix our eyes on You. Give us the strength to say “Hallelujah! All I have is Christ; Hallelujah! Jesus is my life”.

It is in His name that we pray, AMEN

Behold the Glory of Christ!

(Communion meditation by Bill Pritchett)

“Oh to behold the Glory of Christ! Here in would I live, Here in would I die, here on would I dwell in my thoughts and my affections until all things here below become as dead and deformed things, and in no longer, any way, calling out for my affections” ~ John Owen

I think that many of us can at times fall into one of two categories…in one we acknowledge that we are sinners in a very general sense, but overall we think we are not too bad…or, the second one…we have sinned and we can’t seem to let it go and we allow this sin to become our identity.

In both instances we are dealing with our own pride. We focus on ourselves and those around us or on the news and we can think that since we are not that bad we only have a generic need for Jesus. Or, we can think that we are so bad so sinful so wretched that Jesus’ blood could not possibly be sufficient to cover our sin. In both cases, we have made the object of our own affection something other than Jesus.

As this quote from John Owen reminds us, if we could fully grasp and fathom the Glory of Christ we would not want to let it go. “Here in would I live, Here in would I die, Here on would I dwell in my thoughts and my affections until all things here below become as dead and deformed things, and in no longer, any way, calling out for my affections.

In Galatians chapter 2 versus 20-21 it says: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, Christ died for no purpose.”

When we stop fixing our eyes on Christ and instead fix them on ourselves, we stop being in awe of the realities of the cross and just how great our debt is and how overwhelming it is that our debt is paid. If we are nothing more than morally neutral then we rob grace of all that it is…the better we think we are, the less we think we need it, the less amazing grace becomes. When we see grace as not sufficient enough to deal with our sin then we have decided that grace must meet us and meet our standards.

Randy Alcorn says: “Grace isn’t about God lowering His standards. It’s about God fulfilling those standards through the substitutionary suffering of the standard-setter. Christ went to the cross because He would not ignore the truths of His holiness and our sin. Grace never ignores or violates truth. Grace gave what truth demanded: the ultimate sacrifice of our sins.”

If you’re not sure you are really that bad, if you acknowledge that you are a sinner, but really only in a general and generic ways…

Romans 3:23 famously says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

As John Piper says “Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God”

If you struggle to believe that God loves you just as you are even though you are a sinner…

Zephaniah 3:17 says “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

We desperately need to behold the Glory of Christ. We need to see ourselves as the sinful wretch that we are…and then not stay there, not leave it there, but let that direct our affections to Christ, that we might be in even more awe over the Cross, even more humbled over the Cross…that as we see the Glory of Christ as we see the sin in our hearts, as we see that this is the same Christ that died on the cross, that we see Jesus as sufficient and all that we need. That the things that once robbed our affections for Christ are now becoming dead and deformed things no longer calling out for our affections.

Father God,

We confess our tendency to be too ‘routine focused’ and not in awe enough of the realities of communion or of our relationship with You in general. I pray that our affections toward You continue to be increased. Help us to put off sin and to put on the things that are of You. Help us to be less concerned about our own comforts and more concerned with honoring You with our words and our deeds. We recognize that we are sinners in need of a savior and we thank You that in Your grace You have provided that savior. We don’t deserve Your love or Your grace and You give it freely.  It is in Jesus’ holy name that we pray, AMEN

Follow up

Hey folks!  Pastor Dale here.

I hope you enjoy a blessed holiday here today, as we recall the freedoms we cherish as Americans.  Among them, the privilege of relishing our total and utter dependence on Jesus Christ, as we did in our singing and our teaching at services yesterday at BCC.

Thanks to all who participated in the Campout this weekend, and for those who lugged stuff up or down the mountain.  And thanks to Bill for hosting the sharing

on Saturday and the service on Sunday morning, and for worship leader Dustin.  And to Drew, who figured out how to run the sound system through his own car speakers.  He could probably generate electricity with just a salad spoon, tin foil and some salt.  Anyway, it was tons of fun, and as I mentioned yesterday morning in church, the sharing on Saturday

night was very precious.  Also, I hope that all you campers are caught up on your laundry by the middle of next week 🙂

I found that video we shared yesterday so encouraging (“They lied to our people for two thousand years!”).  If you missed it, you can watch it here:

Here is the note from Sam that we received about the launch of a new church in Harare.  Thank the Lord that we get to be involved with saints like this!

Hi there BCC- We’re so thankful to the Lord for the launch of Sovereign Grace Fellowship Church today. We have been humbled by the response from the people both before today and after the service.I taught from Isaiah 6:1-7 and spoke about the Sovereignty and grace of God. A God so high and lifted up, filling the whole earth with His presence, holy and unapproachable but in forgiving sinners and sending them. We had 45 people altogether including about ten couples and the rest were singles. Am sorry we couldn’t take any pictures because the lighting was very bad since it was dark. The people have already started to talk about their need to be involved in home groups. A young lady quickly responded and joined Samantha, Munashe and Josh who were leading us in worship. The Lord is good, (Jesu wakanaka).  Thank you for praying with us BCC. May the Lord’s day be most blessed for you today. – Sam

Here is the list of scriptures that talk about ways to love one another.  Good one to post on the fridge??

Be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10).

Give preference to one another (Rom. 12:10).

Be of the same mind toward one another (Rom. 12:16).

Accept one another by withholding judgment (Rom. 14:1).

Accept one another by showing deference (Rom. 14:1–5; 15:7).

Esteem [highly regard] one another in love (Rom. 14:5; Phil. 2:3).

Build up one another (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thes. 5:11).

Counsel one another (Rom. 15:14).

Serve one another by showing deference in matters of liberty (Gal. 5:13).

Bear one another’s sin burdens (Gal. 6:2).

Be gentle with one another (Eph. 4:2).

Be kind to one another so as to preserve unity (Eph. 4:32).

Speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:25; Col 3:9).

Submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).

Show compassion to one another (Col. 3:12).

Bear with the inherent sinfulness of one another (Col. 3:13).

Forgive one another (Col. 3:13).

Use Spirit-filled, Word-saturated music to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19).

Comfort one another with the hope of Christ’s return (1 Thes. 4:18).

Encourage one another (1 Thes. 5:11).

Live in peace with one another (1 Thes. 5:13).

Seek good for one another (1 Thes. 5:15).

Encourage one another to forsake unbelief and hardness of heart (Heb. 3:13).

Stimulate one another to spiritual growth (Heb. 10:24).

Encourage one another by faithful participation in your local church (Heb. 10:25).

Confess sins to one another (James 5:16).

Pray for one another’s spiritual and physical healing (James 5:16).

Be long-suffering and patient toward one another (1 Peter 4:8; Eph. 4:2).

Be hospitable to one another without complaint (1 Peter 4:9).

Serve one another (1 Peter 4:10; Gal. 5:13).

Act in humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5).

Show holy affection to one another (1 Peter 5:14).

Participate in the holy walk with one another (1 John 1:7).

Refuse to become resentful toward one another (1 John 3:11–12).

Give sacrificially to meet one another’s needs (1 John 3:16–17).

Fight fear together by growing in love (1 John 4:18).

Walk in truth together (1 John 3:18; 2 John 1:5).

Finally, here’s that quote from my former Professor, Dennis Johnson, on how that lost “first love” of the Ephesians may have had more to do with their love for one another than their love for the Lord.  I like how he shows that TRUTH and LOVE go together, and ought not compete:

“Some have thought that the “first love” from which Ephesus had fallen was its devotion to Christ Himself. However, unlike the compromising churches at Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, and Laodicea, the Ephesian church could not be faulted for flirting with Christ’s rivals, nor for cooling zeal for their King. It makes better sense to conclude that “the love you had at first,” which had waned, was their love for one another. Paul had taught this church that their health as the body of Christ was dependent on “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). But it seems that the key qualification — “in love” — had been overlooked in their zealous defense of the truth.Keeping a firm grip on both poles — truth and love — is a constant challenge for redeemed sinners who swing like pendulums from one extreme to another. Too often, churches and their leaders either stand for biblical truth vigorously but lovelessly or else they preserve apparent unity and love at the expense of truth. Of course, when the truth of the gospel truly grasps our hearts, love for others must result; and, by the same token, the love that delights Jesus grows only in the rich soil of fidelity to God’s truth. Jesus’ sobering threat to remove the Ephesians’ lampstand — to snuff out this truth-loving congregation’s witness to truth amid its pagan community — shows how seriously He regards His summons to blend doctrinal fidelity to the Bible with sacrificial love for the saints.”