Too Heavenly Minded? June 24, 2014

Most of us have probably heard this phrase (or something very similar): “Too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.”  This seems to be a phrase used to describe people who are so focused on heaven that they neglect their responsibilities in this world.  Hopefully it goes without saying that it is decidedly unbiblical to neglect our responsibilities here on earth.  However, what troubles me more about this whole issue is that the above phrase seems to imply that we as Christians should be careful not be too mindful of heaven.  As I look at my own life, and the lives of fellow Christians I really do not think that we need to be encouraged to be less heavenly minded in our Christian lives.  I think we are far more prone to neglect thinking about eternity and living in light of it.  Paul Tripp, in his book Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It, says that we often function as “eternity amnesiacs” (p. 12).  While we know heaven exists and are vaguely comforted by this fact, we really don’t dwell on it like we should.

I have been working on preparing a short sermon series on Heaven, and this has forced me to ask, “Does the Bible encourage us to be less heavenly minded so that we might not become less good here on earth?”  It probably comes as no surprise that we find precisely the opposite message in the Bible.  The Bible seems to continuously exhort Christians to be more heavenly minded, not less.  Look at passages like 2 Cor. 4.17-18, Col. 3.1-4, and 1 Pet. 1.13.  All of these passages tell us to think on things above, and to be ever-mindful of heavenly realities.  In fact, these passages seem to indicate that the more heavenly minded we become, the more equipped we are to live righteously here on the earth.  The passages listed above show that we can face the realities of suffering and trials, and live more righteous and godly lives the more aware we are of heavenly realities and of our eternal destinies as Christians.  It seems that, in the Bible’s view of things, if we are no earthly good, the problem is probably that we are not heavenly minded enough!

Of course we still have to ask ourselves what it means to be heavenly minded, and what that looks like.  We will see some of this in the upcoming sermon series.  But I don’t believe that we as Christians need to be challenged to be less mindful of heaven, and of God’s Kingdom; we need to be more mindful of these things.  And as we are more mindful of these realities, we will love our neighbors better, obey God more consistently, and face trials and tribulations with faith and perseverance.  In short, we will be of immense earthly good.

 

Pastor Nathan Hogan

You Can’t Outlive the Sufficiency of the Bible June 17, 2014

I was reading one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons today, and came across this wonderful quote about the sufficiency of God’s Word.  Spurgeon stated, “Believer! there is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon forever…if thou shouldst live till Christ should come upon the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word; if thou shouldst go down as deep as Jonah…there would be enough in the Bible to comfort thee without a supplementary sentence.”

Even with the somewhat dated way of speaking, I think the power of the quote is easy to see.  We love things that are new and exciting, and I think we sometimes worry that God’s Word can’t possibly be sufficient for salvation and godliness for our whole lives.  We go looking for newer and flashier ways of growing in the Lord, because on some level we struggle to believe that God’s Word as it is read, studied, and preached can possibly be sufficient for our growth in the Lord.  However, the more we study God’s Word, the more we see that we will never outlive the sufficiency of the Scriptures.  As Spurgeon so eloquently put it, even if we live until the return of Christ, there would not be the need for a single additional word in the Bible for our lives as Christians.  We should be eternally grateful for the sufficiency of God’s Word, for in it are the words of eternal life, and godliness.  We can rest easy that God’s Word will never outlive its usefulness and sufficiency in our lives.

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

Waiting on the Lord May 19, 2014

In Psalm 130, the Psalmist is crying out to the Lord. This is a person who is crying “out of the depths.” In other words, they are going through struggles and dark moments in their life. And they are crying out to the Lord. They are confident that God will hear, God will forgive their sins, and God will restore their life.

Notice what happens next—they wait on the Lord.

Waiting on the Lord is probably one of the most difficult things we do. Waiting implies that we have no control. We have no say in how or when God will respond. We simply wait.

But waiting doesn’t mean we do nothing. It means that by faith, we continue to faithfully live out our lives where God has us at the moment and then wait on him to make any changes he sees fit to make. Waiting is where we demonstrate our true belief in the sovereignty of God. Waiting is where faith and hope are refined.

May we continue to live faithfully where God has us, and cry out to him when the circumstances seem depressing and down (see also, Philippians 4:11-12).  We wait with our hope fully placed on him.

Getting Real Even in Our Pain May 15, 2014

You ever been really angry at someone who has wronged you? They have sinned against you, maybe injured you—either physically or emotionally.

 

You try to forgive because that is the ‘Christian’ thing to do—and so you put a smile on and try to pretend nothing is wrong. You try to get over it, but as much as you try, you just can’t seem to forget it.

 

It hurt. It is still painful.

 

You talk to the person and they blow it off or worse yet, blame you for what happened.

 

What do you do? Psalms, like Psalm 109, teach us that we can come to God even when our feelings are raw and we are in pain. We can be honest and real and express to God what it is we are going through.

 

But also Psalm 109 teaches us to cry out in dependence on God—that we ask for God’s help, that we ask for God to take care of the situation (starts in verse 21).

 

Romans 12:19 states: Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord. CEB

 

Instead of trying to take care out it ourselves, instead of trying to stuff our emotions (which then can come back stronger or in the form of depression), instead of trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, we are invited to put the matter into God’s hands, and just as importantly, put ourselves into God’s hands and rely on him for our deliverance.

 

 

Getting Real with God May 8, 2014

Do you ever feel that certain emotions are “off limits” when it comes to God? That you can’t express anger to God? That you can’t express fear or confusion to God?

 

It seems, at times, people have a false sense of spirituality like “Oh, I could never say those things to God.” The reality is that God is the one person who is capable of handling any emotional expression that we bring to Him.

 

The ‘Psalms of Lament’ point out that we can express our fear to God, we can express our anger to God and we can express our doubt to God. In fact, God is the one person we can come to no matter what condition we find our soul and cry out to Him.

 

Indeed, God is the only person we can come to who can truly heal our hurting soul.

 

In Psalm 22 the psalmist cries out in the pain of abandonment and yet he ends with a statement of praise and commitment.

 

The reality is that when we don’t bring our hurts and doubts to God, we also rarely end up with true praise and commitment. When we don’t deal with our hurt and resentment, we can begin to build up a little bit of resentment because we think that God is holding out on us a little bit.