Devotional

When Temptation Comes Our Way

Jubilee Fam,


If I could go back and redo a part of the sermon on Sunday, it would be to spend more time reflecting on the personal application of Jesus being a part of our family album as the Son of God, particularly in our fight against temptation. All of us stand at the crossroads of temptation to sin in many ways. The heat of temptation burns in various degrees. For some, the fires of temptation are under control, and for others, it is raging like a forest fire.


In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul the Apostle tells us that we have three enemies. Each use temptation as a weapon against the throne of God — the devil, the flesh, and the world (Eph 2:2-3). Now, I don’t know to what degree the devil in his finiteness tempts us. Unlike our good Father, he can’t be everywhere at all times.What I do know is that the flesh and the world are constant bad travel partners (FYI, by world, Paul means the course or ways of this world that oppose God and by flesh he doesn’t mean our bodies but the “resilient foe” of our fallen nature).


What do we do when temptation comes our way from these enemies of our soul, especially the flesh and the world? When sharp words are ready to fly out of our mouths and when impatience and frustration are about to win the moment, what tactics will we employ? When, in the name of Jesus, we are tempted to not act like Jesus on social media, or when you feel more pleasure at looking than shutting the computer off or putting the phone down, how will we fight?


I am very helped by this article by Sinclair Ferguson called Holiness Means More Than Killing Sin. Ferguson helpfully writes that “Sanctification is not merely the process of overcoming our sin; it is, ultimately, becoming like the Lord Jesus.” While the account of Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4:1–13 isn’t first and foremost about us, it speaks powerfully to us about what Christ did as our representative and as our example. In Luke 4, as those who take refuge in the King, we see how to fight as he did. In essence, empowered by the Spirit and educated by the Word, Jesus kicked his will in and chose not to follow temptation.That is how we do it and in following our Lord, we become like him.


When temptation comes our way, empowered by the Spirit, educated by the Word, and exemplified by our King, we say no to sin and yes to the joy of obedience. We put our Spirit-empowered wills into motion and we decide not to follow the beckoning of temptation. When tempted to sharpness, we decide to speak kindly and actually do it. When encouraged to be judgmental at a person with a different opinion, we humbly listen. When tempted to click, we turn off or turn away to something else. We act and do that which is pleasing to our Father, like a child of God who is imitating Jesus, the Son of God. The Advent season is for looking, and looking is for running. I thank God for the inexpressible gift of his Son -- a gift wrapped in human flesh as both our representative and example! Let’s keep looking at our King and running the race set before us this week.


Pastor Lew 


P.S. Do you want some encouragement in this area of acting in obedience? Check out Jarvis Williams here!


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We Give Thanks

Jubilee Fam,


Once again and right on time, Thanksgiving is upon us. We, through it all, have much to be thankful for. I hope it will be a day of reflection, remembrance, good food, and good company as we take some time off and give thanks for all who our Father is and all he has done for us in Christ. Scripture gives us plenty to feast our hearts upon even as we look forward to dining at the dinner table. Let me give you some of which I encourage you to pick one as one of the many things you can share with someone for a reason for your thankfulness.


  • We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds — Ps 75:1
  • Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever — Ps 106:1
  • I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds — Ps 9:1
  • 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 — Ro 6:17.
  • But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ — 1 Cor 15:57
  • And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins — Col 1:9–14
  • And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign — Rev 11:16,17


There are plenty more texts to give our hearts a full meal of reasons why we ought to give thanks! Know that the Jubilee elders are thankful to our good Father for you! You are a source of great joy to us, and we count it a great privilege to walk with Christ together with you. 


Much love, 


Pastor Lew 

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The Spirit Illumines Our Hearts

Jubilee Fam,


I read something this week that reminded me why prayer must come before preaching. It really does matter that we pray before we sit underneath the preaching of God’s Word. The following quote is from John Calvin’s institutes, and it highlights the need for illumination as we hear God speak through his preached Word. Calvin writes:


The Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed with the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded.


Even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit. Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else's judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment, we affirm with utter certainty ... that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men.


We pray because we need the Spirit’s illumination to help us see reality. I simply loved Dr. Jared Compton’s descriptions of parables. Parables are pictures of reality. They are illustrations of what truly is, and lack of sight does not change reality in one bit. The kingdom of God is truly like what we heard on Sunday. Our hearts now must see and savor this reality and live in light of it. May the Spirit always illuminate our hearts to see reality and be “seriously affected” by what we hear week in and week out in preaching.


Pastor Lew


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What is the Kingdom of God like?

Jubilee Fam,


What is the Kingdom of God like? What do you compare it to? It ought not surprise us that Jesus the King would have stories, called parables, that unpack the Kingdom. The word parable comes from the idea of putting things side by side to illustrate a truth. For three weeks, leading into Advent, we are sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to the King's parables — short stories that tell us about the nature of the Kingdom. Last week we saw that the Kingdom of God is a prosperous and fruitful harvest for those who receive it — As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty (Mt. 13:23). This Sunday, Lord willing, Dr. Jared Compton will unpack how the Kingdom is both like a man who sowed good seed in his field and yet weeds have sprung up and how the Kingdom is expansive through the imagery of a mustard seed and leaven. We need these stories to occupy our imagination of what the Kingdom of God is like. The more we see, the more we will marvel and be transformed by the beautiful vision of the Kingdom. 


Pastor Lew


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We Can Never Hear Enough

Jubilee Fam,


I hope our time in the story of the Kingdom of God has created a deep longing in our hearts to boast in, reflect, share, and rest in the remarkable reality of belonging to the King. We are the King’s people. We gladly live under the King’s rule. We are in the King’s place, now in Christ and later in the new heavens and earth. We yearn to enjoy and enact the King’s rule in the various spheres of life our King has called us to. All of this is by grace and because of Jesus’ person and work as the embodiment of the Kingdom. We look forward to the perfect Kingdom when the whole earth enjoys the rule and reign of the King. Until then, we call folks to enter the Kingdom. This story, though the reality of our lives, has competition. There are other stories out there that purport to tell us about reality apart from divine royalty — stories infused with human nobility where we are king and queen, and the world revolves around us, our needs, our desires, our wants, and our decisions on what is right or wrong. Brothers and sisters, we can never hear enough about the Kingdom of God!! For the next three weeks, though we have completed the story of the Kingdom as a series, we aim to hear more, but this time through the genre of parables. Consider the next three weeks and Advent after that like the epilogue of the Story of the Kingdom. In the parables, we will listen to King Jesus as he tells us from a different angle what the Kingdom of God is like. We can never hear it enough!


Yearning for more,


Pastor Lew


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Members of the Kingdom

Jubilee Fam,


Lewis reminded us on Sunday that the King is here! But he has come in a way that is bewildering to the world of mankind, for he came with great power and authority to serve. The powerful find it difficult to resonate with his gospel that speaks more of heart change than the political change for which we are often longing.


And yet his gospel message was all about the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom in your midst. For most it is puzzling and makes little sense in a world influenced by the god of this world.


Lewis pointed us to the record of the ‘Acts of the kingdom’ where the Spirit of God continued the ongoing work of the King through the daily lives of his people. God proclaiming everywhere and to everyone that we must repent of self-centered focus that stands in rebellion to the true King. We must believe his word and trust his leadership in our daily lives so that the daily chores of doing dishes and getting groceries; raising children and working in offices become platforms through our lives for the proclamation of the King and his kingdom. 


And so marvel, Jubilee, at the calling on our life as members of the kingdom. Marvel and ask for help of the Spirit so that our lives reflect the life of the King. Let’s prepare our hearts daily from his Word and reading good books and through encouraging words to one another. And then, from a place of resting in God at work in us by grace, let’s work the work of the kingdom until the day that he takes us home to be with him forever.


Pastor Dan


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The King is on the Scene!

Jubilee Fam,


The King is on the scene! This past Sunday, Pastor Toph got us to the person the whole story has been waiting for since Genesis! Finally, an obedient Son has arrived! At last, the perfect King is here! What is the King’s message? The Kingdom of God is at hand! Now, the Creator King will have a people gladly under his rule in his place enjoying and enacting his blessing and reign. How is this possible? We had seen time and time again that somehow or another, just when we thought that the pattern of the Kingdom would be established, a fall narrative happens — the garden, the golden idol, all the unfaithful kings, exile. Why will anything be different now that Jesus the King is on the scene? Why are there no more fall narratives like that have come before? Jesus’ person and work is THE difference maker! His life, death, resurrection, and ascension to the universal throne provide all that is necessary for the elements of the Kingdom to arrive in part now and fully later. The Kingdom of God has decisively arrived because the King has arrived, and his cleansing work is perfect. This is the Kingdom that we proclaim!


I’m looking forward to Sunday to boast in the Kingdom together.


Pastor Lew

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How to Live in the Kingdom

Jubilee Fam,

 

I am slowly working through Eugene Peterson’s series on Spiritual Theology for devotional reading, and it has been very encouraging. Book four of five in the series is called The Jesus Way: A Conversation On the Ways that Jesus is the Way, and Peterson crafts a phrase that captures so well what our days, together, in Christ are like. In this particular chapter, he compares Josephus, a Jewish historian among many other things, and followers of King Jesus. Peterson writes that “Josephus grew up in a world where Peter was the church’s lead preacher, and pastor and Paul was traveling all over the Mediterranean basin starting churches. He was active in diplomatic and military affairs in Jewish/Roman Palestine at the same time that Paul was writing letters of counsel and encouragement to congregations who were learning how to live in the kingdom of God.” It was that last relative clause that jumped out at me — for obvious reasons, right? In our series on the kingdom, now kingdom themes pop out all over the place. It captures our lives so well, doesn’t it? We are learning how to live in the kingdom of God. On Sunday, Pastor Toph will bring us to the character that the whole story has been waiting for. We are finally going to get to King Jesus, who will declare that the Kingdom of God is at hand! Jesus is the king who will bring the kingdom, and all those in Jesus are in the kingdom. Now, we are learning day in and day out, situation in and situation out, in every season of life, to live in the kingdom of God. This is both for our witness to the world and encouragement to our brothers and sisters. Let’s keep learning how to live as the king’s people in the king’s place! Let’s drink deeply from the enjoyment of the king’s blessing, and let’s pray for much opportunity to extend his reign through sharing the gospel! Our King is good! 


Living in the Kingdom Together, 


Pastor Lew


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Faithfulness to His Word

Jubilee Fam,


We left off on Sunday with the King’s king on the throne. The storyline has taken us to the point where King David has arrived, and he has been given an astonishing promise. The Lord covenanted with David that his throne would be an eternal throne. A son of David will be an everlasting king. This King will be the instrument through which God’s blessings will be poured out on the world. The story from King David, though, takes another tragic turn. At BCS, we just finished reading and discussing 1–2 Kings. The book doesn’t end with Israel being a blessing to the nations. Israel enters into exile AMONG the nations, and kings play a significant role in why the story ends in exile. This question came up in class. Is all lost? His people are in exile. There is no Davidic king on the throne. Has God’s word failed?


   The end of 2 Kings provides a beam of light in the darkness of exile. The book ends with a Davidic king exalted even in exile (2 Kings 25:27–30). Here is how one person describes the end of 2 Kings — By the end of 2 Kings, the lamp may be smoldering, but it has not been extinguished (11:36; 15:4; 2 Kgs. 8:19). The house of David is still intact. The line of Judah still survives and the seed of Abraham can bring blessing to the world. In other words, God’s word still has not failed. As he has overcome plenty of obstacles in the story like slavery, barrenness, and complaining, he will overcome the obstacle of exile to show himself faithful to his word. I pray this week that you would have fresh heart-encouraging glimpses of our Father’s faithfulness to his Word to us in Christ! 


Pastor Lew


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The Story of the Kingdom

Jubilee Fam,


In 2018 an article dropped entitled “Why ‘Getting Lost In a Book’ Is So Good For You, According to Science.” The gist is that getting lost in a story, also called ‘transportation,’ is good, on the one hand, for enjoyment, pleasure, escape from boredom, and, on the other hand, to build a sense of belonging and empathy and social skills. One doctor even went as far as saying that reading might help us live longer! Stories do these things to us because stories intend to shape and influence us. We are storied creatures influenced by stories more than we know. Each of us has master stories that shape us to our very core. We need to get lost in stories for our good. This is why we are spending time traveling the Scripture to hear afresh about the story of the kingdom of God. Is there any more extraordinary story to get lost in, be shaped by, participate in, and become a great storyteller about? What was the last story that you got lost in? We hope that out of all stories, the story of the Kingdom of God would be the master story we get lost in and are fundamentally shaped by above all things. 


Pastor Lew


(My last one was about Darth Plaguies the Wise. 🔥🔥🔥 It was riveting!)


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