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Archive for September, 2016

You, a Slave to Sin

Romans 6:17-20 (ESV) says, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.”slave-to-sin

Did you know, fellow believer, that you were once a slave to sin? When you think of a slave…what generally comes to mind? Please ponder about that for a moment.

When Romans 6 uses the word slave it’s originating from the word “doulos.” Doulos has a number of serious implications with it, which we’ll discuss in a moment, but generally it is employed in relationship to being owned by, belonging to, and being wholly subordinate to one’s master. To bring this home, the Bible makes it expressly clear – we were once owned by, belonged to, and were completely subordinate to our sin – which was our master as long as we dwelled in it, apart from Christ.

Romans 6 continues though – that once we become obedient from the heart (the heart / desire change I often refer to away from the world, and to Christ in response) we have been set free from sin, and made slaves to righteousness / Christ! If there was ever Someone to be a slave to, it is certainly Jesus Christ. It is this level of obedience that He demands from His people. Well what does this obedience / slavery to Christ look like? For that we return to the word doulos. First, the world connotates absolute obedience (Matt 8:5-9, Luke 7:2-10) to one’s master. In our case – Jesus Christ. This is unquestioning obedience, and for the believer – absolute respect of Scripture like

(2 Timothy 3:16-17) demands. Also, compulsory obedience (Luke 6:46). Our immediate responses should be both to desire to, as well as physically respond in Christ-likeness always. Thirdly, this slavery to Christ entails consistent, immediate obedience (John 13:16). We should be unwavering in this way. Fourth – as the Bible tells us that we cannot serve two masters (Matt 6:24), our obedience must be exclusive to He and He alone. If our slavery and servitude to Christ is not exclusive, we are willingly engaging in idol-worship and sinning against the Lord. Finally, our obedience should be loyal (John 15:20). Our Savior demands absolute loyalty, born in a desire to do so, to Himself.

This is what putting off of the old man, and putting on the new man looks like in practicality. This is what it means to put away the things of this world, and focus solely on Christ. Unwavering obedience and willing slavery, in humility, to Jesus Christ.

Where are you in this commitment? Have you examined yourself before the Lord in this way? Are you able to communicate these Truths to those you disciple? Are you living it yourself? Are you a willing-slave to Jesus Christ?

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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“I Never Made a Sacrifice” : Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor in Early Years, The Growth of a Soul and Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, The Growth of a Work of God

By Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor, OMF International Publishing, 1911, 2005800px-hudsontaylorin1893

James and Amelia Taylor loved their children and, like all doting parents, they enjoyed giving them little treats on occasion. But once in a while, when Amelia brought a dessert to the table for her family, James would say, “Who will see if they can do without today?” He explained it to the children this way:

By and by, you will have to say “No” to yourself when we are not there to help you, and very difficult you will find it when you want a thing tremendously. So let us try to practice now, for the sooner you begin, the stronger will be the habit.

The children were not punished if they chose not to give up the sweet, but if they were able to go the entire day without it they were rewarded with some other treat and most importantly, with the loving approval of their parents. Hudson Taylor took this lesson to heart and learned early how to say “no” to himself. He went on to live a life characterized by self-denial for the sake of the gospel, and yet, when he looked back over his long life he said, “I never made a sacrifice.” How could he honestly say such a thing?

From his conversion in his teens, Hudson Taylor had a deep passion for God and desire to serve him as a missionary in China. All through his young adulthood his focus on this goal never failed. Most of China’s inland cities had never seen a foreign missionary and a million Chinese each month were dying without having heard the gospel. Taylor could not understand how any believer could be unmoved in the face of such staggering need. He left his home in Barnsley in 1850 to study medicine in London, planning to go to China at the first opportunity as a medical missionary.

Taylor chose to live among the poor in the slums of London in order to devote as much of his small income as possible to medicines and tracts to alleviate both the physical and spiritual suffering of the community. The damp, smelly neighborhood (aptly named Drainside) in which he rented a room was a full four miles from the hospital, which meant Taylor had at least an hour’s brisk walk each way in every kind of weather. He willingly made that sacrifice to serve the poor.

During his studies at the hospital, Taylor was required to dissect a cadaver. While working on a particularly dangerous specimen, a small open wound on Taylor’s finger allowed contaminants from the cadaver to enter his own blood stream. He became ill almost immediately. As soon as the teacher on duty learned what had happened and diagnosed “malignant fever,” he urged Taylor to hurry home to get his affairs in order. “You are a dead man,” he said grimly, expecting Taylor to die within hours. And though Taylor did get very sick, he recovered fully. The physician who cared for him credited Taylor’s careful lifestyle and his long walks to and from the hospital as giving him the stamina to survive. Suddenly, his choice to live in Drainside didn’t seem like a sacrifice.

During this same period of Taylor’s life, the woman he loved refused to marry him unless he gave up his dream of serving in China. Taylor ended this relationship with tears. He trusted that God (like his parents at the dinner table) would have something better for him later if he denied himself for the sake of the gospel. And his faith proved true. God provided a wife in China—one who shared his passion for missionary work. Maria grew up in China, the daughter of English missionaries in Shanghai. She was as fluent in Mandarin as she was in English and became great help and comfort in Taylor’s work. “It never cooled, my love for her,” he said forty years later—”It has not cooled now.” The relationship he gave up in London no longer seemed like a sacrifice.

In China, Taylor found that to gain an audience with the people, he first needed to give up his European dress and customs. He adopted a pigtail and chopsticks and traveled from town to town, living in boats, in small shacks or in attic garrets, usually battling insects and vermin. Once, on a journey to an inland city, he was robbed of his traveling bed, spare clothes, surgical instruments, and a Bible given to him by his mother. Taylor decided not to prosecute the thief because of the harsh Chinese penal system, but wrote the culprit a letter instead, urging him to repent. He described his plea to the errant servant in a letter sent home to England. That letter somehow fell into the hands of George Mueller of Bristol. He was so impressed by the spirit of the writer that he became a supporter of the mission. Taylor’s sacrifice of the right to prosecute the man who stole his bed resulted in a supporter who would provide over $10,000 per year for the mission and would be a friend and advisor in times of trial. Looking back, giving up the right to justice did not seem like a sacrifice.

Taylor endured many hardships including arrests, insults, slander and poverty, but lived his life believing what Christ said in Mark 10:29 and 30—that if we give up anything for the sake of the gospel we will receive blessings one hundred times better in this life, and eternal life in the world to come. With that perspective, he could truly say, “I never made a sacrifice.”

There are dozens of Hudson Taylor biographies on the market, but I recommend the two-volume set written by Taylor’s son, Hudson Taylor in Early Years, The Growth of a Soul and Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, The Growth of a Work of God. Both volumes are available to read free through Google books, listen free at http://www.archive.org/details/HudsonTaylor-InEarlyYears-TheGrowthOfASoul-FreeChristianAudio , Amazon sells the
Kindle version for $1.99 per volume, or you can get both volumes from Taylor’s ministry at http://www.omfbooks.com/  for about $30.

 

Review by Susan Verstraete, church secretary at FCC.

Posted in: Book Review

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Give Me That Old Time(rs) Religion

By Matt Greco

During the time I was a Pastor in Argentina, the church was preparing to go on its 7th short term trip.  I was approached by some good friends who had an “elderly” friend from the States who wanted to be a part of the trip.  I wanted to be polite, but the last thing I needed on a trip was an elderly person who could not pull their own weight.  My friends assured me this lady would not be a problem.

The trip was during a very hot summer and in a slum.  When the elderly lady arrived, I will call her Marilyn, the first thing she said to me was that she was tired from the flight and from the heat and that she needed to do something where she could sit.  “GREAT!” I thought, “Just like I imagined.  Just stay out of my way,” I said to myself as I tried to smile and be the example of spiritual understanding.old-timers-religion

So what did she do?  She brought a chair over and sat down next to me!  “COME ON LORD, I DON’T NEED THIS, I HAVE A CHURCH TO PAINT,” I thought to myself.  Was this lady going to sit and watch me paint during the next 10 days?  Then she said, “I noticed that when you paint the wall that you do great on the higher parts, but it is harder for you from your knees down.  How about if I just come along after you and paint the lower parts?” What a blessing she was to me for the next ten days as I did not have to stoop over and paint where she could reach from sitting down!  But it doesn’t stop there.

She started to buy fruit for the slum children when they would come to our outreach services.  For pennies, she could get each child a piece of fruit.  Marilyn took this idea back to the States with her and started, “Pennies for Fruit” at her church.  Since then her idea has spread to other churches and she has sent hundreds and hundreds of dollars to that church in Argentina to help feed the children physically as the church feeds them spiritually.  All from a person who I didn’t think should come on our trip!!

These Scriptures came to mind:
(1 Samuel 16:7) – But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

(Romans 10:13–15) ….for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”  If you cannot go, then be involved in sending!

Matt Greco is the headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

Posted in: Christian Living

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