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Spiritual Development January 2019

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The Fierce Fruit of Self-Control” by John Piper

The very concept of “self-control” implies a battle between a divided self. It implies that our “self” produces desires we should not satisfy but instead “control.” We should deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, Jesus says, and follow him (Luke 9:23). Daily our “self” produces  desires that should be “denied” or “controlled.” The path that leads to heaven is narrow and strewn with suicidal temptations to abandon the way. Therefore Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24). The Greek word for “strive” is agonizesthe, in which you correctly hear the English word “agonize.”

We get a taste of what is involved from Matthew 5:29: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” This is the fierceness of self-control. This is what is behind the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:12: “The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” Are you laying hold on the kingdom fiercely? Paul says that Christians exercise self-control like the Greek athletes, only our goal is eternal, not temporal. “Every athlete [agonizomenos] exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25). So he says, “I discipline my body and keep it under control” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Self-control is saying no to sinful desires, even when it hurts.

But the Christian way of self-control is not “Just say no!” The problem is with the word “just.” You don’t just say no. You say no in a certain way: You say no by faith in the superior power and pleasure of Christ. It is just as ruthless. And may be just as painful. But the difference      between worldly self-control and godly self-control is crucial. Who will get the glory for victory? That’s the issue. Will we get the glory? Or will Christ get the glory? If we exercise self-control by faith in Christ’s superior power and pleasure, Christ will get the glory.

Fundamental to the Christian view of self-control is that it is a gift. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . . self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). How do we “strive” against our fatal desires? Paul answers: “For this I toil, struggling [agonizomenos] with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29). He “agonizes” by the power of Christ, not his own. Similarly he tells us, “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). We must be fierce! Yes. But not by our might. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

And how does the Spirit produce this fruit of self-control in us? By instructing us in the superior preciousness of grace, and enabling us to see and savor (that is, “trust”) all that God is for us in Jesus. “The grace of God has appeared . . .  training us to    renounce . . . worldly passions . . . in the present age” (Titus 2:11–12). When we really see and believe what God is for us by grace through Jesus Christ, the power of wrong desires is broken. Therefore, the fight for self-control is a fight of faith. “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim 6:12).

 Recommended ResourceGraciousness by John Crotts
Sometimes we have important things to say to other Christians, but if we deliver our message ungraciously, they won’t benefit from it.  Author John Crotts points out that God cares about how we say what we say: “It is not enough always to say the truth; you must also say the truth in love.” In Graciousness, the author addresses Christians who are zealous for God’s truth yet struggle to communicate it graciously— in a loving way. Filled with practical instruction and wise insights, this book includes a biblical description of graciousness, with a look at positive examples and commands from the Bible and methods for cultivating graciousness in various areas of the Christian life. Be equipped to speak the truth in love!

 

Posted by Nick Scott with

Kids Happenings January 2019

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Hello church family,
As I write this article, it brings to the surface many emotions.  As you know, this will be my final article to write as a staff member of our church.  With a lot of prayer and thought I have decided that it will be best for me and my family to step away from my position as the Children’s Director at our church.  I am at peace with this decision and am so blessed to have had this opportunity to be Oakhill’s Children’s Director and to love on each of your children.

I would like to share my heart now so you can better understand. Oakhill is my church family, it is where my husband, girls and I call our church home.  I genuinely love the people that make up this amazing church and I love being a servant of our Lord.  Pastor Alan has often told me and most of you that ministering to others can be messy.  This is all so true, with ministry comes the heaviness of carrying each other’s burdens because we have a great love and care for each other.   With the weight of vocational ministry pressing in on my family and me, I know without a doubt that God is wanting me to place more focus on my family and nurture our love for our church.

This change is bitter sweet because with change comes sadness, nervousness, and even fear.  Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind when I think of this change “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do and He will direct your path.” There are no better words for us to go to during this time of change.  When I consider this decision, I am able to look back and see Gods hand moving long before the thoughts even came to mind.  We may not understand His plan but we trust in Him and we seek His will for the path He wants for us.

My family and I have a strong desire to serve alongside each of you and our Pastors at Oakhill.  Do not get discouraged during this time of change. I know God has great plans ahead for our church, allowing us to bring Glory to Him.  I want to encourage each of you to continue serving in your areas of giftedness.  For those of you that are seeking a place to serve, now is the time to consider children’s ministry.  Our pastors have a true love for the people that make up this wonderful church and I have faith in knowing that they will look to God for wisdom during this transition. Our children’s ministry will continue to be a wonderful place for our children to learn of Christ’s love and allowing them to grow in their spiritual walk.  We have amazing teachers that love children and have great passion to see them have a relationship with Christ.  I’m looking forward to serving in a different capacity with these same teachers.  God’s hand is at work and I’m excited to watch His plan unfold and for the future of our children’s ministry.

Thank you for allowing me to love on your kiddos.

God Bless

 

Posted by April Sharp with

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