Five Points Blog

Planting the Joy of Deep-Rooted Gratefulness


The following is a post by one of our elders, summarizing the content from this past Sunday's Adult Bible Study Hour. In the class, we are going through eight different aspects of our Planting Joy vision. Consider joining us this Sunday at 9:30am in the sanctuary.

True gratefulness has to be one of the most well known and least known Christian attributes. Here's what I mean: Everyone knows you should be thankful, yet few understand or experience the depth of joy that is connected to and comes with true thankfulness. Perhaps we've forgotten, in part, how thankfulness permeates all of Scripture.

Thankfulness is...

- a theme of our singing (1 Chronicles 16:7)

- our first word of praise to the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:8)

- offered because of the Lord’s steadfast love (1 Chronicles 16:34)

- one of the purposes to which we are saved (1 Chronicles 16:35) 

- a specific part of our worship (1 Chronicles 16:41)

- a part of recognizing God’s goodness and steadfast love (2 Chronicles 7:3)

- offered to the Lord due to his righteousness (Psalm 7:17)

- a part of remembering God’s wonderful deeds (Psalm 9:1)

- to be done aloud (Psalm 26:7)

- linked to a joyful heart and the natural result of trusting in God (Psalm 28:7)

- directed to the holy name of God (Psalm 30:4)

- to be offered through all eternity (Psalm 30:12)

- accomplished through music (Psalm 33:2)

- another way of saying “Christian boasting” (Psalm 44:8)

- glorifying to God (Psalm 50:23)

- good (Psalm 54:6)

- to be offered publicly to God as a testimony to the people (Psalm 57:9)

- a way to magnify the name of God (Psalm 69:30)

- to be done with your whole heart (Psalm 86:12)

- the attitude we should have when we come to church to worship (Psalm 95:2)

- linked to rejoicing (Psalm 97:12)

- part of personally praising your God (Psalm 118:28)

- offered in response to hearing the Word of God (Psalm 138:4)

- what righteous people do (Psalm 140:13)

- the attitude of the soul that’s been set free (Psalm 142:7)

- the natural response of a soul that’s been mercied (Isaiah 12:1)

- the verbal outpouring of joy and gladness for the Lord’s comfort (Isaiah 51:3)

- given back to God when he grants wisdom and might (Daniel 2:23)

- is connected to disciplined prayer (Daniel 6:10)

- what Christ offered to God right before a miracle (Matthew 15:36)

- what Christ offered to God at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:27)

- the essence of a public prayer to God before a meal (Acts 27:35)

- showing honor to God (Romans 1:21)

If you find yourself shallow in thankfulness, meditate on these Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind and grow your heart of faith. Ask him to help you love Christ and the gospel again. The same Spirit who regenerated your heart can fill you up and cause an outpouring of deep-rooted joy and thankfulness.

 


Planting the Joy of Grateful Worship


The following is a post by one of our elders, summarizing the content from the Adult Bible Study Hour two Sundays ago. In the class, we are going through eight different aspects of our Planting Joy vision. Consider joining us this Sunday at 9:30am in the sanctuary.

Worship has always been a characteristic that has marked the people of God. As one of the “Songs of Ascents,” Psalm 126 was used by the children of God in the Old Testament, especially at times of festival when they would have gathered together in Jerusalem for worship. Oftentimes, worship is preceded by difficulty. True Christ-honoring worship actually gains greater meaning as its sweetness is contrasted with life’s daily challenges.

Throughout redemptive history, the Lord’s people honestly say, “We are not what we want to be,” and yet, with hope announce, “We are not what we shall be.” We find ourselves in this fallen and sin-cursed world of pain and hurt, of what this psalm calls in verse 5 “tears.”

Tears in the home, tears in our personal lives … sadness and grief are one of the reasons why we gather together. This psalm is one of many that begins with tears and ends with joy and laughter.  O, the relevance of God’s timeless revelation! We can go to the Psalms time and again to find comfort and help because they speak to our condition.

The background of this psalm finds the Israelites returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall and then the temple under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. As Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites proclaimed God’s word to the people, the words of encouragement reoriented God’s elect to the realization of their privileged standing of favor with their God:

“This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:9-12).

The source of their joy was so very solid because it came from the LORD, the “Self-Existent One,” and in his strength the people worshiped. Today, in this new and better covenant (Hebrews 12:18-29), how much more can the gathering of God’s people to worship cause our hope and faith to be renewed and persevere until we see him face to face!

May the vision, “Planting the Joy of Grateful Worship,” become increasingly clear to us as we sojourn here at Five Points.


How Much He Loves His Own


O, how the Lord loves the elect, his own blood-bought people. You can’t help but see this great love for his people in the way the Lord orders the end of all time.

He plans that there be tribulations. These are times of trial to purify and beautify his church. There was one dramatic trial in 70 A.D., when the Roman armies defiled the Jewish temple by roasting a pig on the altar and razing the entire temple to the ground. But that event 1,942 years ago foretold what is yet to come. Jesus teaches that a far larger tribulation awaits: “For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be” (Mark 13:19). This great tribulation will not be confined to one small Palestinian city or one marauding army, but it will cover the earth such that “if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved” (Mark 13:20).

What’s God’s purpose in all this? Jesus explains, “But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days” (Mark 13:20). Again, our Lord warns of false christs who will arise “to lead astray, if possible, the elect” (Mark 13:22). But it is not possible. The elect cannot be snatched from the Father’s hand. That’s the point of the tribulation, to reveal who are the children of God! In the final days of false teaching—creating hatred, violence, death and destruction—the entire purpose is to reveal who God’s chosen ones truly are.

So when the trials come, don’t miss the purposes of God in it all; he means to so preserve and protect your faith in the middle of such suffering that you would glorify him in the final days. O, how he loves his elect!


Delivered Up


If the last days of the world, in which we live, will unfold as Jesus has foretold—and indeed they perfectly are—then it should come as no surprise that these days will be full of hardship and opposition against Christ’s followers. In fact, in Mark 13, Jesus forewarns us that we will be delivered up in three ways.

First, we will be delivered up to religious councils. Jesus says we will be beaten in the synagogues. Can you imagine the ignominy and horror of religious councils believing that flogging Christians is an act of worship to their god? It’s coming. In some places it’s already here.

We will also be delivered up to government trials. The kings and governors will step in to try Christians for the crime of following Jesus Christ. The “great American experiment” notwithstanding, most political movements feel threatened by the supreme sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ. And well they should. They will be finally destroyed if they do not repent of the sin of rebellion against his rightful reign.

Finally, our own family members will deliver us up to Christ’s opponents. Mark 13:12, “And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death.” This is maybe the most painful. Our hope is that our biological family will also become our eternal family in Christ. When that does not happen, our sorrow surges. When they betray us for loving Christ, our sorrow multiplies.

Why does Jesus forewarn us of all these? So that we would be diligently on guard. On guard against what? Not merely the physical harm but the drawing away of our faith because of those persecutions. He calls us not merely to avoid pain but to flee all unbelief and—by his grace—hold fast to our Lord and Savior.

Holding fast with you,
Pastor Brent


Planting the Joy of Sweet Fellowship


The following is a post by one of our elders, summarizing the content from this past Sunday's Adult Bible Study Hour. In the class, we are going through eight different aspects of our Planting Joy vision. Consider joining us this Sunday at 9:30am in the sanctuary.

1 Corinthians 9:7, “Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit?”

As Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, his expectation was like that of a hardworking farmer (2 Timothy 2:6) towards harvest. We too look to sweet Christian fellowship as our expectation while we live on this side of Heaven. Our fellowship is defined by our devoted lives to our Christian living and communion with Christ through worship and prayer (Acts 2:42). We live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16), loving as Christ has loved us first. Our loving one another will testify what we know and believe of God and his character. Do we live all in worship of God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth?

As Mark paints the image of a widow giving her last two coins in Mark 12:41-44, Jesus commends her as the one giving of herself fully unto God. She risked everything because she believed and trusted in God, who has now fully paid for our sins, the sin of many, by the Son.

Our motivation of sweet fellowship must be to pursue Christ in the practice of godliness. Paul exhorted Timothy to have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths but to train ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Jerry Bridges in his book, The Practice of Godliness, defines godliness as a devotion to God that results in a life that is pleasing to him. The devoted life will display a correct understanding of a) the fear of God, b) the love of God, and c) the desire for God. Therefore, this is godliness: God-centeredness, or devotion to God; and God-likeness, or Christian character. The practice of godliness is both the practice of devotion to God and the practice of a lifestyle that is pleasing to God in reflecting his character to other people.

Our expectation drives our motivation but all are derived as an overflow of our understanding of and desiring of God. As we live our motivation of devoted Christian lives in the joy of sweet fellowship, we get more God. Hence, the expectation of this vision, Planting Joy, will yield the testimony of our God who promised that our joy will be complete in him. This joy is the joy of sweet fellowship that an Ethiopian taxi driver explained to me during one of my visits to Denver. Through his joy and the testimony of their church building program in Denver, we rejoiced in God’s goodness in our brief fellowship.


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