Two Ways to Crave: Quarreling for More vs. Contentment in Christ (1 Timothy 6:2b–10)

livingchurchTwo Ways to Crave: Quarreling for More vs. Contentment in Christ (1 Timothy 6:2b–10)

A. W. Tozer once said that what you think about when you think about God is the most important thing about you.

In his statement, this Chicago pastor captured the way our thinking drives our living. If we could only order our thinking about God and everything else rightly, we would be headed in a good direction. The problem is that we are not just “thinking-things,” we are “loving-things.” And often our thoughts are not driven by external facts but by internal longings. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:18, ignorance comes from the hardness of our hearts, not the absence of information.

Addressing this internal desire again in 1 Timothy 6, Paul unveils two motivations for seeking Christ—one that leads to contentment and life, one that leads to endless craving and death. How shocking (and scary): it is possible to seek Christ in a deadly way.

On Sunday, we considered Paul’s words and what they say to us about our inner longings. From 1 Timothy 6:2b–10, we saw Paul contrast two ways of godliness, and how this spurs us on to find contentment in Christ and not in the material gains that we might seek from Christ.

You can listen to the sermon online. Response questions can be found below. Continue reading

A Repentant Prayer or a Faithless Fake? What Jonah 2 Teaches Us About Our Hearts

kristine-weilert-88989-unsplash.jpgEarlier this week, I observed the way Jonah’s prayer of thanksgiving cited or alluded to many Psalms. Today, I want to consider what this may mean for Jonah and for us who read his book.

To get a handle on the meaning of Jonah’s prayer, we must answer this question: Is Jonah’s prayer a genuine word of repentant thanksgiving, one that faithfully cites many Psalms? Or is his prayer a faithless fake that masquerades under a smokescreen of Scripture? To answer that big question lets look at four smaller questions.

  1. What do we know about the historical Jonah?
  2. What do the Minor Prophets indicate about Jonah?
  3. What does the book of Jonah say about Jonah?
  4. What does the prayer itself reveal about Jonah?

By answering these questions, we should have good chance of rendering a verdict on Jonah’s prayer and what it is intended to communicate to us. Continue reading

The ‘Heart’: A Biblical-Theological Sketch

heartThe Bible regularly refers to the human heart. Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And to love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-30). Proverbs 4:23 indicate that guarding the heart protects the wellsprings of life. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s word judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And Matthew 5:8 implies that without a pure heart, we will not see God—or at least, we will not delight in seeing God.

Because the Bible says so much about the heart, it can be difficult to synthesize its contents. And yet, because the condition of our heart is so regularly mentioned and so vital to our walk with God, it is of the utmost importance that we have a good sense of what the heart is and what the Bible says about it’s condition. On Sunday, I preached a message on the heart from Matthew 5:8. What follows is some of the truths I found in the Scriptures as I prepared for that message.

I pray it may do your heart good as you consider this brief sketch.

Continue reading

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

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Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Matthew 5:8

Today I preached Matthew 5:8, which promises that the pure in heart will see God. In truth, everyone will one day see God. The question becomes, Will that beatific vision be a reason for rejoicing? Or, will it be a moment of terrifying judgment?

I pray for all who read these words or listen to this message, that seeing God would be the pinnacle of joy, and that God would purify your heart so that you might see Him. In this sermon, I considered three points

  1. What does it mean to see God?
  2. What does the Bible say about the heart?
  3. How can you have a pure heart?

If you long to see God, ponder the words of Matthew 5:8 and ask God to make your heart pure as only he can.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

That’s the Prosperity Gospel

One of the reasons I’ve been preaching on “blessing” and considering the prosperity gospel this month has to do with the fact that I see its falsehoods in the Christians I meet, and I see its deceptions in my own heart. SEBTS ethics professor, David Jones hits this point  in his short article, “The Prosperity Gospel in My Own Heart.” He writes,

Imagine you’re driving to church on a cold, rainy Sunday morning, and to your dismay you get a flat tire. What is your immediate thought? “God, really? I’m going to church. Isn’t there some drug dealer or abusive husband you could have afflicted with a flat tire?” That’s the prosperity gospel.

Or maybe you don’t get that promotion at work, your child gets sick, or you’re unfairly criticized at church. The result? You get mad at God because you were overlooked, troubled, or disparaged. That’s the prosperity gospel.

The very thought that God owes us a relatively trouble-free life, and the anger we feel when God doesn’t act the way we believe he is supposed to act, betray a heart that expects God to prosper us because of our good works. That’s the prosperity gospel.

I don’t know an American Christian who hasn’t struggled with this sort of thinking—questioning God’s providential goodness when, in our attempts to serve him, he has permitted (or better: ordained) our trial. It is part and parcel of the evangelical experience in America that the message of salvation is accompanied by a promise of God’s good plan: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” which includes eternal life and the absence of flat tires, right?

Not really. This is an American gospel of our own making. Therefore, we need to consider afresh just how much upward mobility we have imported into our own Christian faith. In my own case, I see far more than I would like to admit, and as I think on the prosperity gospel, I am beckoned to repent and return to the true gospel. Maybe God would have you do the same? And maybe, he would use David Jones’ article to help you see the tentacles of prosperity latching to your own heart.

For more reflections on the prosperity gospel, see this month’s 9Marks Journal on that subject.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss