Whose Universe Are You Living In?

By Andy Callis

 

Just this week in our student ministry Zoom meeting, we were talking about the universe. Did you know that for nearly 1500 years it was commonly believed that the sun, moon, and stars all revolved around the earth? This is called the geocentric view. It was popularized by Plato and Aristotle before Jesus was ever born. It remained the common view until medieval times. The church wholeheartedly accepted this view. It made sense scientifically at the time as well as theologically. In fact, those who challenged this view had better be ready to face some persecution!

 

This is when a man named Nicolas Copernicus did some research and developed a theory we now call the heliocentric model. It was the idea that the sun, not the earth, was at the center of our solar system. It was, in fact, the earth and other celestial bodies that revolved around the sun. Copernicus didn’t release his ideas until near his death for fear of the accusation of heresy. Some had been burned at the stake for such claims! Nonetheless, his theory was further backed by science and as it developed the ability to see and understand our universe. He was right. The earth did, in fact, revolve around the sun- not the other way around.

 

Now, just because it was the common and accepted view that the earth was the center that all else orbited around did not make it any more true. That idea was wrong. It still is. I think we can make a great spiritual analogy from this.

 

Our sinful tendency as humans is to place ourselves in the center of the universe. It’s like this geocentric model. Everything revolves around me: my wants, my desires, my schedule, etc. If anyone suggests that I’m not in the center, it’d rather not hear it. I may get angry with them. I may dismiss them. I may slander them. Even as believers, we have this tendency. We’d like for everyone to plan their lives in such a way to meet our desires. Truth be told, we’d really like God to do the same.  James 4:1-10 talks about this tendency we all have and the solution for it.

 

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

James teaches us what happens when we place ourselves in the center of the universe. We argue. We fight. We don’t get what we desire so we kill (don’t forget that hatred in your heart is like murder to God- 1 John 3:15). We don’t get what we want, so we complain and bicker. Placing our desires in the center of our lives and demanding others to abide by them destroys our relationships with others. What else happens?

 

Our relationship to God is hindered. In our pride, we can let our own desires control us and we don’t even ask God to provide a way to meet our desires. Desires, biblically speaking, are quite neutral. We can desire good things or bad things. One thing that God doesn’t expect for us to do is to not desire! We made us a desirous people. But here we see James pointing out that this person is so bent on getting what they desire that it’s become idolatrous. They haven’t even considered asking God to meet that desire. So what happens? They try to get it their way and don’t get it. In the process they become more and more self-absorbed aligning themselves with the world and its desires which are in direct opposition to God.

 

James tells us in verse five that God will have none of that. He is a jealous God who yearns to have all of us. He won’t accept any rival to Him in your life. The idol must be smashed and the world and its ways must be renounced. So what’s the solution that James offers? We see his solution in the rest of the passage. We could summarize it like this:

 

  • Submit yourselves to God (v.7)
  • Resist the devil (v. 7)
  • Draw near to God (v. 8)
  • Cleanse your hands and heart (v. 8)
  • Weep over your sin (v. 9)
  • Humble yourself (v. 10)

 

It’s all a reversal of the idolatrous, worldly pattern we established in putting ourselves in the center of the universe. Trust God and submit yourself to His plan. Let Him meet your desires and even give you new ones (Psa. 37:4). Fight back against Satan by the power of the Spirit and His Word. Come near to God once again and abandon this self-centered view. Repent over your sin in a heartfelt way.

 

Someone who has went through this process has realized something that they were so blinded to before. They’ve had a Copernicus-type moment. They think, “Maybe everyone isn’t supposed to revolve around me after all! My life and all others actually revolve around the Son! He is and deserves to be in the center of the universe, not me. He’s the King, not me. He calls the shots, not me. All of life, including my own, is under His authority.”

 

What’s the end result for those who come to this new conclusion of the truth? Verse ten tells us- God will exalt this person. They no longer have to try and exalt themselves and strive to meet their own desires. They can trust God to take care of it.

 

How about you? Are their some desires your life that you are striving way too hard to meet? What might they be (ex. ease, comfort, pleasure, peace, success, admiration, etc.)? Have they blinded you to the point of possibly becoming idols? Will you sin to try and get it or will you sin if you lose it?

 

If you start to see this in your life, follow the advice James offers. Submit yourself to God. Humble yourself. Repent of your sin. He’ll give grace to a person like that and just may give you the desires that you’re looking for but in a new way and with a whole new perspective.

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The 1

99(1)We all love the story in the Bible of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to find the 1 that went astray (Matthew 18).  We want someone to rejoice over us when we are found.

But did you ever realize that God calls us to the role of going after the 1? That’s not just the Good Shepherd’s role, or only the duty of your pastor.  Jesus shows us in the following verses how to go after those who are walking away from the fold in sin.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.  (Matthew 18:15)

Jesus tells us to go after the 1.  When someone sins against us (or against others), we aren’t told to wait until they recognize their sin and come ask us for forgiveness.  We are told to go after them.

And why should this surprise us?

 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

The example has already been set for us.  God’s love is demonstrated through Christ.  How are you showing your love to your fellow believers?

We encourage you to watch or listen to Pastor Ben’s message from Sunday about Biblical Accountability.  Let’s care for the flock we are a part of and actively engage in one another’s lives.  Let’s be the Church.

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Praying the promises of God

Pastor Eric’s message this past Sunday spoke to our fears and our anxiety.  You can watch or listen to the full message at https://capebiblechapel.org/resources/sermons

Here, we’d like to highlight his counsel to pray the promises of God

 

I love the words of the psalmist in Psalm chapter 73 verse 28: He says,

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good, I have made the Lord God my refuge

Let me bring a question to bear out of that…

 

Where is your refuge from worry, fear, and anxiety?

Where do you run?

Where do you go?

Where do you hide?

 

Where is your refuge?

Where do you fears and your anxiety drive you?

Do they drive you to deeper wells of worry, or do they drive you to the promises of God?

I want to encourage you to pray the promises of God. Not just in the middle of life’s difficult circumstances, not just in the middle of trials and God’s dark providence, but get in the habit of day-in and day-out praying the promises of God, praying the Word of God helps to saturate our hearts and our minds in the truth of God.

Oh how we need that.

 

JD Greear offers some practical examples in his article “Pray God’s Words Back to Him: Claiming the Promises of God“.

We encourage you to read God’s Word.  Look for His promises.  Make these promises your prayers.

Get in the habit, the practice of talking to God about your fears in light of His character.  Frame your prayers in light of Who it is that you are talking to.

 

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Resolving Conflict Biblically

By Andy Callis

COVID-19 has certainly caused an increase in stress for families. Many things have changed all at once: school schedules, work schedules, more time at home, less to do, more time with family, less time with friends, etc. It’s all a recipe for some challenging times!

 

With the increased time at home and all the previously mentioned factors, conflict is bound to happen at home. How will you and your family handle it? My hope is that you’ll handle it biblically and with much grace.

 

If you’re not sure how to handle conflict biblically or just a great refresher, I highly recommend the book The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. Sande shows how the heart of God resonates towards making peace. He begins his case by showing from Scripture just how much God has done to make peace with us through the blood of the cross (Rom. 5:1). He continues to challenge us to be just like Him in our relationships with one another. He provides a lot of practical, biblical advice on resolving conflict depending on where you are at with your opponent on what he calls “The Slippery Slope” of conflict.

 

Don’t be a peace-breaker (too aggressive) or a peace-faker (too passive). Be a peacemaker in your home during this time!

 


 

If you’d prefer the cliffnotes on this book, see the The Peacemaker Book Analysis – an overview of its key points. God bless!
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One Another | Each Other

agitateOne of our great goals this year as a pastoral team is to encourage us collectively, corporately, as a body to step off the sideline and into the game.  We want to be encouraging our body here to be participating members of the body of Christ: growing, changing, overflowing, ministering, serving, being edified and edifying members of the local church.  That we would come here on Sunday mornings not just as a bunch of consumers, but that we would come and consume so that we could turn around and contribute. 

The Membership Matters series is really for this purpose: we want to exalt your view of assembling together as God’s people: His bride, the church. We want your love for the church to grow. We want your desire to be a participating member of the local church to grow.

It’s not meant to manipulate you in any way. It’s not meant to be heavy handed in any way.  It’s meant to exalt your view. To call you into the game.

We began this series last week talking about the subject matter of assembly.  Ben preached last week from Hebrews 10 encouraging us “not to neglect meeting together as some are in the habit of doing”. But not only are we not to neglect meeting together, we are “meet together all the more as we see the Day approaching”.  Assembly is very important.  We live in a world today that does not value interdependence. We live in a culture that values independence.  Go your own way. Do your own thing. Forge your own path. But that’s not what the bible presents us with.  The bible tells us that we are one in Christ of many. That we are an individual, but yet we were saved not only to be an individual, but saved to be a part of a collective body.  We ought to be meeting together, encouraging one another, stirring one another up towards love and good deeds. 

That language – “stir one another up” – the original language there, the Greek behind your translation literally means “to agitate one another”.  Not like my 12-year-old son and my 11-year-old daughter agitate one another, but to agitate one another in a positive fruitful way.

Most of you probably have a washing machine at home. You put those clothes in the washing machine along with some laundry detergent. How does that washing machine clean your clothes?  It agitates them.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

You cannot obey that very precept unless you are assembling together with God’s people.  You can’t stir one another up towards love and good deeds.  Neither can you be stirred up to love and good deeds if you’re not meeting together regularly, consistently, faithfully with God’s people.  Not only can you not obey that command, but you can’t obey the 35+ one-anothers that come to us in the New Testament.

Encourage one another.

Build one another up.

Pray for one another. 

Carry one another’s burdens.  

Love one another. 

Serve one another.

And on and on and on and on.

You can’t do that if you’re not in close proximity to the body of which you are an integral part if you know Jesus savingly.


One Another | Each Other Passages

1. Be at peace with each other. (Mark 9:50)

2. Wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14)

3. Love one another. (John 13:34)

4. Love one another. (John 13:34)

5. Love one another. (John 13:35)

6. Love one another. (John 15:12)

7. Love one another. (John 15:17)

8. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. (Romans 12:10)

9. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

10. Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:16)

11. Love one another. (Romans 13:8)

12. Stop passing judgment on one another. (Romans 14:13)

13. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you. (Romans 15:7)

14. Instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)

15. Greet one another with a holy kiss. (Romans 16:16)

16. When you come together to eat, wait for each other. (1 Corinthians 11:33)

17. Have equal concern for each other. (1 Corinthians 12:25)

18. Greet one another with a holy kiss. (1 Corinthians 16:20)

19. Greet one another with a holy kiss. (2 Corinthians 13:12)

20. Serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

21. If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:15)

22. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:26)

23. Carry each other’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)

24. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

25. Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

26. Forgiving each other. (Ephesians 4:32)

27. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Ephesians 5:19)

28. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

29. In humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

30. Do not lie to each other. (Colossians 3:9)

31. Bear with each other. (Colossians 3:13)

32. Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. (Colossians 3:13)

33. Teach…[one another] (Colossians 3:16)

34. Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

35. Make your love increase and overflow for each other. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

36. Love each other. (1 Thessalonians 4:9)

37. Encourage each other.1 Thessalonians 4:18)

38. Encourage each other. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

39. Build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

40. Encourage one another daily. Hebrews 3:13)

41. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

42. Encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:25)

43. Do not slander one another. (James 4:11)

44. Don’t grumble against each other. (James 5:9)

45. Confess your sins to each other. (James 5:16)

46. Pray for each other. (James 5:16)

47. Love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 3:8)

48. Live in harmony with one another. (1 Peter 3:8)

49. Love each other deeply. (1 Peter 4:8)

50. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

51. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others. (1 Peter 4:10)

52. Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. 1 Peter 5:5)

53. Greet one another with a kiss of love. (1 Peter 5:14)

54. Love one another. (1 John 3:11)

55. Love one another. (1 John 3:23)

56. Love one another. (1 John 4:7)

57. Love one another. (1 John 4:11)

58. Love one another. (1 John 4:12)

59. Love one another. (2 John 5)

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Respect

This past Sunday, Pastor Eric taught from Mark 12 about the beloved son.

In the parable, the tenants showed disrespect to the landowner by rejecting his servants, one after another, even to the point of killing his beloved son. Pastor Eric helped us understand how this related to the Israelites rejecting the prophets and eventually, Jesus Himself. [You can listen or watch the whole message at https://capebiblechapel.org/resources/]

But this isn’t just a message to scoff at the Israelites’ response. We, by God’s grace, are children of the promise.

How, then, can we show respect for God’s beloved Son?

In his message, Pastor Eric referenced a short article by John Piper, How to Drink Orange Juice to the Glory of God. This quick read shows us how even our most mundane, routine actions can serve to glorify Him if we do so in faith, with gratitude and humility.

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So let’s get practical, brothers and sisters…what part of your day glorifies God?

This isn’t a question to condemn, but to spark an awareness of the Giver of good things. It’s meant to provoke us to use our lives, even the every-day parts, to build His kingdom.

 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Radically Ordinary Hospitality

By: Jessie Yount

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I recently read a couple of books by Rosaria Butterfield, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” and “The Gospel Comes With a House Key”.  Read…I guess I should say devoured.  Rosaria oozes the kind of practical, loving Christianity I desire to show to others.  Here’s my brief two cents about these two books.

Rosaria’s personal story is beautiful.  Not only in how God works to change us before we really seek Him, but also how drastically God changes the desires of our heart once we understand the Gospel.

I relate well to her academic background and her skepticism of conservatives (especially evangelical Christians) and appreciate how openly she shares how she used to feel.  I also appreciated that she doesn’t sugar-coat her experience of becoming a follower of Jesus.  “Although grateful, I did not perceive conversion to be ‘a blessing.’ It was a train wreck.”  She also admits to missing various aspects of her life before Jesus, “grieving” the loss.  I love her honesty.

What I loved most about her story of coming to genuine faith in Christ is the people God placed in her life to move her towards Him.  She calls what they showed her “radically ordinary hospitality.”  It’s creating space in our homes and our lives (physically and in our management of time) to welcome the world into a Christian home and a Christian life.  She says “ordinary”, and it is.  But I wouldn’t say it is easy.  Not in the pace of life we tend to set for ourselves.

She brings a refreshingly honest and biblical perspective to what sin is.  She calls out the church for the ways it pushes lost sinners away instead of persistently drawing them in.  She demands that the family of God be a family Monday through Saturday, in addition to Sunday mornings.  And she points to Jesus as offering real solutions to the brokenness of our world.

In a world of so many hypocritical Christians, I pray for more Rosarias.

 

*Topics in her books include (but are definitely not limited to): hospitality, fostering and adoption, the LGBTQ community, homeschooling, church planting, prison ministry, Sabbath keeping, and psalm singing.

**The opinions expressed in this review are that of the author and do not imply an endorsement of or support of these books or their author by Cape Bible Chapel.

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Heroes

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I picked up a copy of “Shadow of the Almighty” from our church library today.  It’s the biography of missionary Jim Elliot, written by his wife, Elizabeth.  I’ve only read to page 14 so far, but already, I have something I want to share.

In the introduction, Elizabeth is reflecting on the idea of heroes.  She recalls being with high school and college students and asking who their heroes were.  The students first had to decide on a definition for hero, and then still struggled to say they whether they had any heroes or people they wanted to be “like”.  She laments this, as compared to her own memories of many childhood heroes.  After listing some of her own (Gideon, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Hans the Hero of Haarlem, Florence Nightingale, and Abraham Lincoln), she then proceeds to reflect on a few who embodied Hebrews 13:7[i].

This one, about her neighbor, really struck me.

My next door neighbor, Ruth Richie, was another [hero]. To a ten-year-old girl, this fifteen-year-old was something of a goddess. She was first of all a ‘grown-up’ to me. She was also pretty, soft-spoken, feminine, and uncommonly kind to the shy and uncertain child next door. She was my heroine. I admired everything about her, wanted to do my hair like hers, and walk like her, talk like her, be like her.

Was this you?  Were you this little girl (or little boy) who was simply fascinated by that older kid?  I certainly remember when the 8th grade students came to our 1st or 2nd grade class to help with a school project.  The girls seemed so grown and confident.  I always looked for them in the hallways after that.  And I remember finding their faces in church for years afterwards.

We can never underestimate the influence we have on the next generation.  Who are you reaching?  Who are you influencing?  If no one intentionally, know that young boys and girls are still looking for examples of how to live and do and be.  They are looking as they try to develop strength and character.

The world has plenty of examples to show them.

What are you modeling to our young people?  Are you a source of what is good and holy and set apart?  Are you encouraging, patient, and ready to offer grace?  Are you willing to spend time with them and simply acknowledge them?

We aren’t perfect examples, by any means, but are we striving towards and fixed upon Jesus?  Can we offer a model of how to follow Jesus as Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”?[ii]

Let’s talk about heroes.  Ask your kids.  Ask your neighbor’s kids.  Your nieces and nephews and cousins and grand-kids.

Ask yourself.

Who is your hero?

 

 

[i] Remember your leaders, those who first spoke God’s message to you; and reflecting upon the outcome of their life and work, follow the example of their faith

[ii] 1 Corinthians 11:1

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Diagnostic Questions: Earthly Treasure or Heavenly Treasure

In our text this past Sunday, Jesus talks about laying up treasures:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19–21

How can you know where your treasure is?

When you go to the doctor for a particular ailment, one of the first things that doctor does is begin to ask you questions. We call these diagnostic questions. Here are some good diagnostic questions to discern if your heart is attached to earthly treasure or heavenly treasure:

A. What are the things that seem to govern your life?
B. What are the things that occupy your thoughts and daydreams?
C. What are the things that tug at your heart, your mind, and your emotions?
D. What are the things you are continually drawn to?
E. What are the things that you worry and fret over the most?
F. What are the things you fear losing the most?
G. What are the things by which you measure yourself and others?
H. What are the things you don’t think you could be happy without?

Listen to the full message or read the whole manuscript at http://capebiblechapel.org/resources

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The Valley of Vision

ValleyOfVision

We wanted to make you aware of a beautiful resource which Banner of Truth has made available free online: The Valley of Vision – A Collection of Puritan Prayers.

It’s not intended to replace your own prayers with God, but rather to inspire and challenge you in the depth and honesty of your time with God.

Rather than try to explain the beauty of this collection, just visit the Banner of Truth website and read for yourself and let these prayers serve as a “cloud of witnesses” to draw you closer to Jesus.

Options to purchase the book (print and digital) are also available through Banner of Truth

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