The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Not I, But Christ by A.A. Worthington

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden!
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.

Christ, only Christ, no idle word e’er falling;
Christ, only Christ, no needless bustling sound;
Christ, only Christ, no self-important bearing;
Christ, only Christ, no trace of “I” be found.

Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying,
Not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be;
Christ, only Christ, for body, soul, and spirit,
Christ, only Christ, live then Thy life in me.

Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision;
Glory excelling soon, full soon I’ll see –
Christ, only Christ, my all in all to be.

- Mrs. A.A. Worthington

Friday, September 16, 2011

Love in Action

Abortion is a real hot button issue. Given the advances in sonogram technology it’s clear and undeniable that the womb contains a real living person; a baby. Those who believe the Bible to be God’s truth and revelation knew that already (e.g. Psalm 139:13-16). Science is also on the side of those who speak against abortion death and for birthing these children to life. But for the church or Christians or anyone to speak out against abortion while offering no practical help to the pregnant mothers in question is at best Laodicean lukewarmness and at worst a misrepresentation of Christian love.

To speak against abortion and not provide a viable alternative is a hollow gong. Love, true Christlike love, not only speaks truth in love (Eph. 4:15), but takes action to sustain and support truth in life. The apostle John wrote: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18). It’s interesting that John uses the endearing reference to “My little children.” Perhaps the recipients of John’s letter were childlike spiritually, immature in their faith and talking a good talk of love but not walking a walk of love.

The spiritually mature know that love is an action. Love acts. God’s brand of love is sacrificial; it lays down its life for others. It not only speaks out against or about injustices, it does something to alleviate them. As John points out, it’s about the condition of your heart. If you shut your heart to those in need around you, “how does the love of God abide” in you? A shut heart is a loveless heart. And that is a big problem. Why? Because the prime sign of a person genuinely saved and born of the Spirit is love.

A person must be born of the Spirit. Jesus said that just as we are born physically, we must be born spiritually (John 3). Spiritual life comes from God’s regenerative work in us. When a person acknowledges their sin, turns from it to God and by faith asks God to forgive their sins based on the cross work of Christ, that person will be forgiven by God. And once forgiven the Holy Spirit indwells the believer giving them spiritual life (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 3:16).

How do we know if we are born of the Spirit? We know by the witness of the Spirit in our hearts (1 John 3:24). These is a tangible change in our lives (2 Cor. 5:17). The person born of the Spirit is a new creation with a new way of life (Rom. 6:4). And the evidence of that new life is God’s love. God pours His love into the heart of the person who has been born again (Rom. 5:5). God’s love is a sacrificial active love (e.g. Rom. 5:8).

Love is an action. And all that we do needs to be done in the love of God if it is to be worth anything (1 Cor. 13:1-7). That done without love will fail. That which is done in love “never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). If we are to experience victory in this battle against abortion, we will have to take loving action. And here is where I want to provide you with an opportunity to act in love right here in our own Long Island community. I’m speaking of The Care Center.

The Care Center provides a viable Spirit led link between truth spoken in love and that love in practical action. This ministry provides counseling on sexual health, abortion education, pregnancy, abortion recovery, parenting skills and referrals. They provide free pregnancy tests, diapers and other supplies and services to those who are pregnant and in need. And all of this is provided from a Christ-centered world view. This is a ministry Christians should get behind and support. Pastors can preach about the evils and tragedy of abortion from the pulpit, but unless they are encouraging a real alternative with real help, it is an impotent message. No, we need to speak the truth about abortion in love and provide a loving Christlike alternative to those who are pregnant. If you would like to learn more about The Care Center, volunteer, offer financial support, or just learn more about this ministry the contact information is as follows:

The Care Center
Doreen Gelesko, Executive Director,
1930 Vets Memorial Highway
Suite 15
Islandia NY 11749

Pray about this. Pray for the Care Center. What would the Lord have you do in order to not only speak about love but act in love? I think God’s answer to that prayer just may be found in The Care Center. God bless you all.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Three Musts

Studies show that on average a person makes three thousand decisions a day. The vast proportion of these decisions are inconsequential. But in John 3 Jesus speaks of Three Musts in John 3:7, 14, and 30. The word “must” (δεῖ - dĕi, die) means something necessary, binding, needed, must. In this chapter there are three musts, three things that are absolutely eternally necessary and essential. What are they?

The Sinner’s Must - “You must be born again” (3:7)

George Whitefield, mighty preacher of the 18th century revivals in England and America (i.e. The Great Awakening - in America) was frequently asked why he always preached that man must be born again. “Why do I preach you must be born again?” said Whitefield? “Because you must be born again!”

In this passage of scripture Jesus is speaking about spiritual regeneration. In this material world we look at each other and see life. When someone dies or some form of life dies it is evident to us, e.g. it stops breathing; it’s heart stops beating; it decomposes, etc. But there is another dimension we don’t readily consider, the realm of the spirit. This realm is unseen. The Bible tells us that we are not born with spiritual life but must be born again or experience a second birth, a spiritual birth. If we do not, we are dead spiritually.

What causes this spiritual death? Sin causes death physically, mentally, and spiritually (Rom. 6:23). Sin is living in disobedience to God. It is settling for physical material life while neglecting or not experiencing spiritual life. If we die physically without being “born again” we will go into an eternal existence separate from God in a place of torment called hell where God’s just penalty for sin and spiritual death will be properly imposed for eternity. But if we are “born again” we will live eternally with God in a place called heaven which is a place of endless blessing in the wonderful presence of the Lord. For this to happen, you must experience spiritual birth, be born of the Holy Spirit, “You must be born again.”

How can we be born again?

John 1:12-13 states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Being born again involves simply turning from your sin, giving up your sinful ways, and turning to God to receive by faith His gracious gift of salvation provided through Jesus. Being born again is a work of God not humanity (cf. also John 6:29). It is a work of the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin (John 16:8-11), and draws the sinner to the Father (John 6:44). This spiritual birth can perplex us at times, but that is because it is an incredible work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:7-8).

Our church has an annual baptism at a public beach on the north shore of Long Island. During this service on the shore I give an evangelistic open air message. To illustrate what it means to be born of the Spirit I once scoured the shore of the beach for a horseshoe crab shell. I use the shell to show that we can easily observe that the horseshoe crab is dead. It isn’t breathing. It isn’t moving. Its innards are empty leaving only a shell of what it used to be. In this material world of ours it’s easy for us to see that life has left this shell. But there’s more to existence than what we can see in the material world. There is a spiritual dimension. From the material dimension it’s not always easy to determine if one is alive or dead. We can sometimes mistake religious or altruistic activity for spiritual life when in fact a person is spiritually dead. Sometimes we are mere empty shells. Jesus said some people are tares amongst wheat. That is, some people look good on the outside but are empty or lifeless on the inside. Jesus has so much more than that for us. Jesus said just like we were born into the material world, we also need to be born again, born a second time spiritually. This second birth happens in the heart and fills the heart with the Holy Spirit who makes Christ’s presence known.

How can we determine spiritual life? Here are some evidences that show spiritual life:

1. Spiritual – John 3:6
2. Obedience – John 14:21
3. Understanding of God’s word – John 14:26
4. Personal saving relationship with Jesus – John 15:26
5. Guided into God’s truth – John 16:13
6. Holy Life – As the Holy Spirit lives in them – John 20:22
7. Assurance of salvation – 1 John 3:24; 4:13
8. Love – Rom. 5:5
9. Righteousness, peace and joy – Rom. 14:17
10. Fruit – Gal. 5:22-24

Read these scriptures references. Do you have these in your life? Have you been born of the Spirit? If not you are spiritually dead and risk spending an eternity separate from God.

Sin is disobeying the laws of the Holy God of love. He has created us and given a manual (the Bible) for people to live by to experience His best in life. Those who disregard and disobey this manual are in rebellion against God and His enemies. Their rebellious behavior is sin and that sin causes pain, suffering, and opposes the will of God. God who is just imposes a penalty for such sin – eternal death. The only way the death penalty for such sin to be justly and righteously paid is for a death to occur. But not just any death; since sin stains people it disqualifies them for paying the proper death penalty. Therefore only a perfect sinless atoning death would suffice. Jesus, as a gift of God’s grace, went to the cross and paid that death penalty for humankind. To be born again all a person therefore has to do is turn from their sins repent) and by faith in Christ receive God’s gift of forgiveness based on the death penalty Jesus paid for us.

The Savior’s Must – “. . . even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (3:14)

In Numbers 21 the children of Israel complained against the Lord resulting in a plague of pain-producing biting serpents. The people were dying. They cried out to the Lord. The Lord told Moses to make a bronze serpent, put it on a pole and lift it up before the people. Then if they looked at the bronze serpent on the pole they would be healed and live. Jesus referred to this OT incident because it was a prophetic picture of what He must do.

The snake is sin. It was cast in bronze because bronze is a metal that speaks of judgment. What did this correspond to in the NT? To the cross. Jesus became a snake for us so that our sin could be judged and put away and we could be healed. Sin has painful venom. There is always a painful consequence to sin. Jesus is the antidote for those snake bitten by sin. Look to Jesus in faith and live!

2 Corinthians 5:21 - 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The Servant’s Must – “He must increase, but I must decrease” (3:30)

We are saved to live our lives in old sinful ways. We are saved to enter in service of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. When we are born again the Holy Spirit comes to dwells in us, in our heart, to give us spiritual life (Rom. 8:9-11; 10:9-10). When the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us He comes to make us holy. What is holiness? It is loving God supremely with the love the Holy Spirit puts in us (Rom. 5:5), but second to that it is loving others sacrificially (Mat. 22:37-40; John 13:35). That means living a life of loving service toward God and others.

John the Baptist is the perfect picture of this. He knew he must decrease; he must put his desires; his self-centeredness aside; and replace it with a life that lifts up Jesus. Jesus said to find life you have to die to self (Mat. 10:39). Truer words were never spoken.

The world will tell you push others aside; put yourself and your interests first; if you don’t look out for yourself who will? That is a very low and fruitless way of life. Instead, when we are born again through faith in Christ we find life by giving up self. You have to willfully give up your life; put it to rest; bury it; in order to find full and rich meaning in the life of Christ. You see your flesh or self, your sinful nature is so obsessed with self that it will compete with and get in the way of God’s best for you. He will say one thing and your flesh will compete against God’s word. You have to die to self. That requires us to trust God and surrender ourselves, our flesh to the cross of Christ (e.g. Gal. 2:20). The only way to abundant life is for Jesus to increase in your life and you, your fleshly sinful nature to decrease.

A Second Work of the Spirit – The Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Jesus told His disciples (i.e. learners) to wait and receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit which would give them power to witness and serve Him (Acts 1:4-5, 8). Jesus is “He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33). This is a purifying (Acts 15:8-9) and empowering (Acts 1:8) experience where we don’t get more of the Holy Spirit but He gets more of, all of us. It’s called baptism because we are totally immersed in the Holy Spirit. This is full surrender, abandonment to the will of the Spirit (Rom. 8).

Have you been born again? Do you believe and trust in Jesus atoning cross work? Are you a servant of the Lord? Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit and empowered to serve Him? These are must questions we should consider seriously. I pray the Spirit compels you to experience fully all He has for you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - Ten Years Later - A Psalm


To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
2 May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion;
3 May He remember all your offerings,
And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah
4 May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose.
5 We will rejoice in your salvation,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
8 They have bowed down and fallen;
But we have risen and stand upright.
9 Save, LORD!
May the King answer us when we call.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Revival Account: Asbury College 1970

This is what we need today.

Pray for it. Wait on the Lord for it. Pray it through for our churches, our communities, our nation, the world.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Support Israel at the United Nations on September 21st!

There is an important meeting at the United Nations on September 21st. It is the Durban III meeting which will serve as a platform for anti-Israel nations to denounce Israel. On that day there is a demonstration of pro-Israel supporters being held at the Dag Hamarskjold Plaza in front of the UN. I encourage you to watch this short video which explains the situation and that you prayerfully seek the Lord on how to show your support for Israel and denounce the unjust propaganda of the Durban meeting.

Top Ten Reasons to Support Israel (from David Hocking)

1. Because Israel is the most frequently mentioned subject in the Bible next to the LORD Himself! “Israel” is mentioned 2566 times in the Bible.

2. Because God has chosen Israel out of all nations! – Deut. 7:6 (Isaiah 41:8; 43:1; 44:1; 45:4; 48:10)

3. Because God has identified Himself with Israel! – “The LORD God of Israel” – 108 times in the Bible. “The God of Israel” – 203 times. “The Holy One of Israel” – 31 times. Bible never identifies Himself with any other nation.

4. Because God has a special love for Israel! – The LORD chose Israel not because they were better than other nations but because of His love for her (Deut. 7:8; see also Isaiah 63:7; Jeremiah 31:1-3).

5. Because God has given her Land that He calls His own Land! – Genesis 15:18; 17:7-8 – everlasting covenant – reemphasized over 100 years later to David in Psalm 105:8-11; Leviticus 25:2, 23).

6. Because God will never forsake Israel! – God’s promise is not based on Israel’s performance but His immutable faithfulness – Isaiah 41:17; 49:13-16; 54:5-8; 60:15-16; 62:11-12; Psalm 89:30-37; Leviticus 26:44; Jeremiah 31:3-37; Romans 11:1-2.

7. Because God will destroy all nations who attack Israel! –Isaiah 41:11-12; 63:1-6; 66:15-16; Zechariah 12:9; 14:3; Revelation 19:11-21.

8. Because God will restore Israel to her Promised Land! God is not through with Israel! – Deut. 30:3-10; Isaiah 35:10; 43:5-7; 51:11; Jeremiah 30:1-2; Ezekiel 36:24, 28; 37:13-14; Amos 9:13-14. May 14, 1948 saw the rebirth of Israel and June 1967 Jerusalem was restored to her. She is prospering and being persecuted just as God said would happen!

9. Because God will come and dwell in the midst of Israel! – Zechariah 2:10-12.

10. Because God will bring salvation to the WHOLE world through the Messiah of Israel! – Isaiah 11:1-10; 42:, 6; 43:11, 25; 44:21-22; 45:17, 22-23; 49:5-16; 52:10; 53:1-6; 59:2, 20; 60:3; 61:1-3, 10; 62:1, 11; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Romans 11:25-27. Salvation is “of the Jews.”

For directions to the demonstration go to -