Organized Praise

At Grace we are currently in a series entitled, Psalms of Summer.  A few weeks ago I taught from Psalm 34. You can hear the sermon here if you’d like.

What I didn’t tell you that day was that this psalm is one of a few that is written in an acrostic.  Simply put, David went down the Hebrew alphabet as he penned each new verse. As you may know, the Bible was not written with chapter and verse markings, so he simply wrote this poem in acrostic style then later numbers were added to denote verses.

So here’s a quick thought for you today. What if you wrote out a prayer or praise to God using our alphabet? Write out a poem, speaking about God and why we praise Him. Or maybe make a list of things in your life that you give Him praise for. Perhaps write one word for each letter of the alphabet, each saying something about God. For instance, Awesome, Beautiful, Compassionate…

Go ahead. Give it a try. I bet it’s a worshipful experience you won’t soon forget.

But God.

I think it’s important for the Believer to know his lost estate before saved by God. The only reason I think it’s important is because Paul seems to think so as he reminds the Ephesian readers of this in the first three verses of chapter two.

Let’s be honest. We’d all like to forget our past, especially the blunders, the mistakes.  I recently had someone remind me of something I said years ago, and my first thought was “Really, that’s what you remember?” It wasn’t even a bad thing.  When I think of my past, I’m glad there are things that don’t come to mind.  Paul, however, seemed to think it was good to remember who we were and in what condition we were in before we met Christ.

Eph 2:1-3 ESV

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Read what Charles Ryrie says of our depravity:

The scriptural evidence provides the basis for what has been commonly called total depravity. Depravity means that man fails the test of pleasing God. This failure is total in that (a) it affects all aspects of man’s being and (b) it affects all people.

Negatively, the concept of total depravity does not mean (a) that every person has exhibited his depravity as thoroughly as he or she could; (b) that sinners do not have a conscience or a “native induction” concerning God; (c) that sinners will indulge in every form of sin; or (d) that depraved people do not perform actions that are good in the sight of others and even in the sight of God.

Positively, total depravity means (a) that corruption extends to every facet of man’s nature and faculties; and (b) that there is nothing in anyone that can commend him to a righteous God.

Total depravity must always be measured against God’s holiness. Relative goodness exists in people. They can do good works, which are appreciated by others. But nothing that anyone can do will gain salvational merit or favor in the sight of a holy God.

(from Basic Theology, Copyright © 1986, 1999 by Charles C. Ryrie.)

I think it matters that we understand this because of the next two words in the English text: But, God.

It seems to be possible to lose the wonder of God when we forget who He is and what He did for us, in our place.  We were lost without Him. We sinned.  Gen 3:6-13; Rom 5:12; Rom 3:10-12, 18, 23, 24

But God.

Eph 2:4-7 ESV

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Here Paul sums it up in one verse: Rom 5:8

You can listen to a full sermon on this passage here.

Identity In Christ

Last Sunday I read a few verses that described who we are in Christ and I wanted to make the whole list available to you! I hope these words encourage you today. Don’t forget to keep Gal 2:20 on your mind this week.

Can’t wait to see you on Sunday as we take back our faith!

Have a great week!
Pastor Mark

I got this list from:

Who Am I?
Matt. 5:13 I am the salt of the earth.
Matt. 5:14 I am the light of the world.
John 1:12 I am a child of God (part of His family).  (see Rom. 8:16)
John 15:1, 5 I am part of the true vine, a branch of His (Jesus’) life.
John 15:15 I am Jesus’ friend.
John 15:16 I am chosen and appointed by Jesus to bear His fruit.
Acts 1:8 I am a personal witness of Christ for Christ.
Rom. 6:18 I am a slave of righteousness.
Rom. 6:22 I am enslaved to God.
Rom. 8:14, 15 I am a son of God.  (God is my “daddy” so to speak) (see Gal. 3:26, 4:6)
Rom. 8:17 I am a joint-heir with Christ sharing His inheritance with Him.
1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19 I am a temple (home) of God.  His Spirit dwells in me.
1 Cor. 6:17 I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.
1 Cor. 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.  (see Eph. 5:30)
2 Cor. 5:17 I am a new creation (new person).
2 Cor. 5:18, 19 I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation.
Gal. 3:26, 28 I am a son of God and one in Christ.
Gal. 4:6, 7 I am an heir of God since I am a son of God.
Eph. 1:1 I am a saint.  (see 1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2)
Eph. 2:10 I am God’s workmanship (handiwork) created in Christ to do the work He planned beforehand that I should do.
Eph. 2:19 I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God’s people in His family.
Eph. 3:1 / 4:1 I am a prisoner of Christ.
Eph. 4:24 I am righteous and holy.
Phil. 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven and seated in heaven right now (see Eph. 2:6)
Col. 3:3 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Col. 3:4 I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life.
Col. 3:12 I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved.
1 Thes. 1:4 I am chosen and dearly loved by God.
1 Thes. 5:5 I am son of light and not of darkness.
Heb. 3:1 I am a holy brother, partaker of a heavenly calling.
Heb. 3:14 I am a partaker of Christ … I share in His life.
1 Pet. 2:5 I am one of God’s living stones and am being built up (in Christ) as a spiritual house.
1 Pet. 2:9, 10 I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession to proclaim His excellencies.
1 Pet. 2:11 I am an alien and stranger to this world that I temporarily live in.
1 Pet. 5:8 I am an enemy of the devil.
1 John 3:1, 2 I am now a child of God.  I will resemble Christ when He returns.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God; the evil one (the devil) can’t touch me.
Psalm 23 & 100 I am a sheep of His pasture.  Therefore, I have everything I need.

What Happened to Me?
Rom. 5:1 I have been justified (completely forgiven and made righteous).
Rom. 6:1-6 I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule on my life.
Rom. 8:1 I am free forever from condemnation.
1 Cor. 1:30 I have been put into Christ by God’s doing.
1 Cor. 2:12 I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God.
1 Cor. 2:16 I have been given the mind of Christ.
1 Cor. 6:19, 20 I have been bought with a price.  I am not my own.  I belong to God.
2 Cor. 1:21 I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ.
2 Cor. 5:14, 15 Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Him (Christ).
2 Cor. 5:21 I have been made righteous.
Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  (The life I am living is Christ’s life.)
Eph. 1:3 I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.
Eph. 1:4 I have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him.
Eph. 1:5 I was predestined (determined by God) to be adopted as a son.
Eph. 1:7, 8 I have been redeemed, forgiven, and am a recipient of His lavish grace, Eph. 1:13, 14 and have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge (a deposit/down payment) guaranteeing my inheritance to come.
Eph. 2:5 I have been made alive together with Christ.
Eph. 2:6 I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven.
Eph. 2:18 I have direct access to God through the Spirit.
Eph. 3:12 I may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence.
Col. 1:13 I have been delivered (rescued) from the domain of darkness (Satan’s rule) and transferred to the kingdom of Christ.
Col. 1:14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (the debt against me has been cancelled).  (see Col. 2:13, 14)
Col. 1:27 Christ Himself is in me.
Col. 2:7 I have been firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up in Him.
Col. 2:11 I have been spiritually circumcised (my old, unregenerate nature has been removed).
Col. 2:10 I have been made complete in Christ.
Col. 2:12, 13 I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ.
Col. 3:1-4 I have been raised up with Christ.  I died with Christ.  My life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Christ is now my life.
2 Tim. 1:7 I have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Tim. 1:9 I have been saved and called (set apart) according to God’s doing.
Heb. 2:11 Because I am sanctified and am one with the Sanctifier (Christ), He is not ashamed to call me brother.
Heb. 4:16 I have a right to come boldly before the throne of God (the throne of grace) to find mercy and find grace in time of need.
2 Pet. 1:4 I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which I am a partaker of the divine nature (God’s nature).

Psalm 151

Okay, I know you didn’t fall for that. There is no Psalm 151.  There are only 150 recorded in the OT book of Psalms.

Yesterday at Grace I spoke from Jonah chapter two, you can listen here.  Sometime after Jonah enjoyed the flight from the belly of the Big Fish to the shore, he sat down and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote out what had just happened.  Apparently during the three days and three nights in the big boy’s belly, he had time to reflect and process just how awesome it was that God delivered him. In what I called a potential 151st psalm, Jonah gave God praise for the great thing He had done for him.  Like many of the psalms, we read about the despair of Jonah’s sin, the consequences of his actions and the Lord’s hand in a remarkable delivery. God is faithful as our sovereign Lord of all.  For that we praise Him.

Jonah recalled what happened and how God was sovereign over every detail.  After Jonah disobeyed and ran the other way as fast as possible, God allowed him to be tossed overboard and soon delivered by the really large fish. In Jonah’s psalm he says it was God who threw him overboard and the waves and billows that were messing with him, were all God’s.  So after the bad day at sea, Jonah looked back and saw God at work the whole time.

How about writing your own Psalm 151 as a praise to God for how He has worked in your life.  Remember, He invites us to be a part of His story.  So, take a few minutes. Think back on a time when you were really going through something hard. It may have been running from God, like Jonah, or simply a difficult time, like the death of a loved one, or loss of job.  During that time you may not have noticed God’s grace in the details, but afterwards it was more obvious that God never left you. He is sovereign over the mess of our lives and all the while loving us and inviting us to be a part of His amazing story of grace.

Think and pray about it. Write it out.  Feel free to use the ‘comment’ section below for your “not real long” psalm of praise. Or if you’d rather, you can email it to:

Classic Passages

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across Proverbs 3:5-6. Many of you know that I read the Proverbs through each month. Along with the monthly drive-by, I also see this passage referred to often in cards and even in a Bible my dad once signed for me. I love this passage.

Prov 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

What I’m learning is what it means to ‘trust’. We trust God for our salvation, through Jesus. We trust that ‘all things work together for good’, Rom 8:28. But are we trusting Him with today.

What is it that God is leading you to trust Him with today? Your financial stuff? Job? Family? A snag? A bump in your road? Your health? What is it that God wants you to turn over to Him and know that He’s got your back? He doesn’t promise that it all goes away and everything is great, and good, and comfortable. What He tells us, is that as we trust Him and acknowledge Him, He’ll make our paths straight. He’ll make sense out of our chaos because He is ALWAYS working.

Trust Him. Go ahead, I’m right behind you.

Come Here…You!

Throughout our study in John we’re noticing Jesus’ invitation to come and follow Him.  Yesterday I broke it down to three invitations: Come and See – Come and Follow – Come and Die!

Where are you with Jesus?  He invites us to “come and see”. Check it out. “You gotta see this!” And that’s more than just an invitation to a great church service with amazing music and fog machines.  That’s about an honest look at Christianity and it’s claims.  Remember the gal from Samaria, “Come and see this Jesus, you gotta check this out”.  She could say that because she had already seen, and believed.

“Come and follow” is the invitation to become a genuine follower of Christ by placing your faith in Him as Savior. Exchanging your life for His. Crossing the line of faith.  Repenting of your sins, seeing yourself and your sins as filthy rags, and telling Jesus you believe WHO He is, and WHAT He’s done for you.  Pray the prayer!  I hope several did that at Grace yesterday. If YOU never have, I hope you will.

“Come and die” is the hard part of giving your all to Jesus.  This isn’t the same as being saved. This is an act of the (already)child of God giving full surrender to a life dedicated to the mission of Jesus.  There is a cost to consider.  This is obedience.  This is where God calls/leads us to give our all.

Wherever you are, Jesus reaches out His arms and says, “come here…come to Me!”

Aren’t you glad?

Summer Memorizing

Several weeks ago I threw a challenge out to our church family to memorize a block of verses in Titus 2. To my amazement, several have taken up the challenge and are making it happen. One guy walked into church this past Sunday carrying his written out verse reminding me how hard it is to memorize “at our age”. This morning one of our young ones rattled of all 4 verses in record time.

I love how kids memorize. They get the words, and I’m pretty sure they get the meaning. But the best thing is, it’s in their minds. Remember Romans 12:1,2? The much needed transformation of life takes place as our minds are renewed. To memorize and meditate on God’s Sacred Writings is perhaps the best way to renew your mind. Here’s a verse you can memorize if you haven’t already.

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

Ps 119:11 ESV

This little girl today is way ahead of the curve. Sure she said it real fast, and she might have a hard time defining some of the big words, but it’s in there. It’s in her mind, a mind that is being renewed. And if it’s in her mind, it’s in her heart.

It’s not too late to take up the challenge. Memorize Titus 2:11-14. Soon, I’ll pass on the next verse to work on.

Ordinary or Extraordinary

Perhaps there are many ways to distinguish between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Be it with someone’s performance, or someone’s character, or the “new car” versus the old one. Somethings are ordinary, and that’s good. Then there are the extraordinary. When it comes to life, do you want ordinary, or have you considered extraordinary?

I found a definition in Acts 5. (Best to read the chapter, save me writing out a whole sermon here!)

“We must obey God rather than men” 29

What made Peter’s confession so strong was that behind this statement was a life of amazing adventure. Extraordinary adventure that seemed to follow these Apostles. All they did was live it out.

Obviously we have a pretty cool healing ministry happening when people from all around Jerusalem are bringing their sick to just fall under the shadow of Peter. That’s not normal. And it’s really not something we’re suppossed to shoot for today when we think of being extraordinary. (Though I must admit it would be pretty cool to do.)

After the guys were imprisoned for this extraordinary ministry, “an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”

So, they did.

The next day the Apostles find themselves again in front of the council. Mr. BigShot councilman says, “I told you plainly not to teach in THIS NAME…” That’s when Peter gives us these words that mark the line between ordinary and extraordinary.

You see the ordinary response from most of us would be… “Well, gosh, if they don’t want me saying the name of Jesus outloud, maybe I should find a more subtle way to express my beliefs.” I say ordinary because that’s so what we would expect today. That’ how we respond. That’s probably exactly what I would have done. I mean these are powerful people telling me what to say and not say. But not the extraordinary Peter.

So, check out verse 42, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”


That’s the extraordinary life. It’s not about shadows that heal, or standing before the powerful leaders and getting all up in their face about your beliefs. It’s not about miracles and amazing things that make you say, WOW. No, it’s about being about Jesus! Seriously, that’s it. That’s the extraordinary life.

For the apostles, to “obey God, rather than man” meant to preach and teach Jesus Christ. It was more than a Sunday morning declaration, it was a way of living.

Did it cost them something? Um…yeah. v40.

What’s the extraordinary life look like for you today? I’m just sayin

What do you think?