service genset jogja
1 Corinthians 3:6-7, John 3:6-8, Colossians 2:19

God Gives The Growth

The true source of Spiritual Growth is what we call a “God Thing.” We are all called to make disciples of Jesus in His Great Commission, but all we can do is plant and water. Just like any other plant, the rest is out of our hands. Paul made this clear in his letter to the Corinthians. He writes in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed. Apollos watered it. But God made it grow.” The focus of our faith is not on the one who planted; neither is it on the one who waters. Hopefully, there will always be workers in the field, but the true credit for any growth is God’s. That’s what Paul meant when he continued with the next verse: “So the one who plants is not important. The one who waters is not important. It is God who makes things grow. He is the One who is important.”

It takes time for anything significant to grow. A dandelion can shoot up overnight. An oak tree takes decades and more. Good growth, however, needs more than time. It also needs the right kind of soil. The soil needs to be prepared. In the spiritual life, it’s the Spirit of God that prepares the soil. Once the soil has been prepared and the seed planted It needs some tending to.  But all the tending to and caring for the seed will not guarantee any kind of true spiritual growth. Spiritual Growth is just that, it’s Spiritual, and no one can harness the Spirit. Jesus said it comes and goes as it wills. Jesus said, in John 3:6-8, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

 If I were to ask you what the book of Jonah in the Bible was all about, you’d probably say it was about a man who got swallowed by a whale while he was running from God. Well, that’s true, but it’s not really about a great big fish swallowing a man. The whale is only mentioned four times. It’s not about the repentance of a great city. Nineveh is only mentioned nine times. Really it’s not even about a disobedient prophet. Jonah is only mentioned 18 times. There are many players in the story, including a fish, a plant, a man and a storm and a ship and a crew, and many other things. But it’s really all about God, who is mentioned 38 times in the four short chapters of Jonah. The book of Jonah is really about How God uses his people to reach others, even when they don’t want to. It’s also about how God works in Jonah’s life to help him grow in love and care for others. We need to let God do “His Thing” in our lives. We need to let God do His work in us. Paul tells the Colossians, in chapter two, verse 19, “Christ…is the head of the body. Under Christ’s control, the whole body is nourished and held together by its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God wants it to grow.”

Romans 15:13, Philippians 3:20-21

Growing Hope For Something Better

The key verse regarding a growing hope is Romans 15:13. It’s another prayer that Paul prays for the believers in Rome and in every city in the world. He writes, “May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When we sink our roots down deep into God’s Love for us and begin to fully apprehend how deep, how high, how long, and how wide God’s love for us really is, our faith grows. We get stronger and stronger, and the tidal waves and tsunamis of life may bend and twist us, but they will never break us! Being a true disciple means a growing faith that withstands the trials and hardships of life. Another major element of spiritual growth is our “Hope.” The Bible teaches us that “hope” is the substance of things unseen. Hope reaches into the future to better times and better circumstances. If our love has its roots in God’s love, it looks back to the cross and draws sustenance for the present. Hope, on the other hand, sets its sight on the future, also drawing sustenance for the present. Knowing what awaits us in the Kingdom of God has a powerful sustaining effect on our lives as we walk hand in hand through this valley of the shadow of death. In this life, we all need something to look forward to.

God is always the source of it all. It all comes from Him! His love is the nourishment that feeds our faith. I like to see joy as the water! I think of the tree of Psalm 1 that is planted by the living water and has all the nourishment it needs. Its limbs get big and strong and hold many branches, which hold many leaves and is a joy to behold. Peace is the sunshine. If he “leads me beside still waters and puts me in green pastures,” I’m overcome by a sense of peace that feeds and nourishes my soul to continue its journey in this valley, looking forward to the meadow of heaven that awaits me at the end.

Heaven is often presented to us in unattractive ways! Most of us don’t want to spend eternity floating around on clouds playing harps in white robes! How boring does that sound? When I think of heaven as the scriptures present it, I think of complete healing. I think of complete peace and contentment and perfect communion with God and with those we love. I think of pleasures far exceeding the lame excuses we have in this life, but the details of which haven’t been completely revealed. Paul said, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has revealed the general idea. They are enough to nourish us and sustain us in the present through any trial and hardship life might bring our way. Paul lets us know that we were not designed for this world but for a better one yet to come. In Philippians 3:20-21, he tells us, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory…”

Acts 2:42-47, Romans 12:4-5

Living Together

I remember the last time I was in Dallas that the central expressway, running through the city from north to south, had the inside lane marked as HOV lanes. That stands for High Occupancy Vehicle. You must have two or more people in the car to use that lane. It was designated as such in order to encourage carpooling. But there were hardly any cars in those lanes, while the other lanes were backed up at times with that miserable start and stop congestion. I’ve recently read a news article where someone was arrested for driving in that lane with a mannequin in the passenger seat. He wanted the ability to drive in a faster lane. We often want the benefits of the community without the inconveniences associated with it.  We hate to wait for others. We hate to have to depend on others. Independence is probably one of the greatest values in our American culture. It’s also true of us in the Church.

When we study the foundation of the early church in the book of Acts, we find that the first believers in Jerusalem devoted themselves to four things. (See Acts 2:42-47).  The first thing is probably first for a reason. They were devoted to “The Apostles’ teaching.” The Apostles continued Jesus’ teaching and told stories about Jesus’ life, explained Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, and encouraged and exhorted all believers to live sacrificial lives in community with others. They were now members of a new family and needed to live in harmony with other believers.  They needed to learn patience with others and learn how to forgive others and learn how to overlook others’ faults and weaknesses, and they needed to learn how to love each other. You cannot do that unless you are in community with others. All the fruits of the Spirit are relationship concepts: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-control.

I mentioned that the first of the four things that those in the early church were devoted to is probably first for a reason. It was always a community event, like our church services on Sunday. Their time in the “Word” (The Apostles’ Teachings”) had to be a community event because there was no recognized written word at the time. Actually, there were no personal bible studies for 1500 years after Jesus’ death! It wasn’t until the printing press was invented that individuals had personal access to the Apostles’ teachings. It was always done in community. The letters were hand copied and distributed around the area to other churches. We even read where the letter to one church was read to members of other churches. Further, the literacy rate was very low in the first century. Slaves, over half the world’s population, could not read. Women were not taught to read, and the luxury of devoting time to such activity was reserved for the rich or those, like Paul & the other Apostles, who were supported by the giving of others. We need each other! We may need moments alone for reflection and meditation on God’s truth, but unless we put what we learn to practice in community, we haven’t learned a thing or grown an inch. Paul addresses the community in Rome as a physical body. He says in Romans 12:4-5, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”

John 3:16, 3:36

Security & Assurance!

Just a few years before he passed away, J. Vernon McGee was the commencement speaker at Dallas Theological Seminary. It was a pleasure to hear this 80+-year-old man explain some of the more difficult doctrines of our faith in simple, down-home language that we could all understand. He does that well in his writing as well. In one text, he writes about the subject of eternal security. He explains, “There is also a sharp difference between eternal security and assurance. Nevertheless, they are two sides of the same subject. It’s like two sides of a door. Eternal security is the exterior—that’s the outside of the door. Assurance is the inside of the door, and that’s internal. Eternal security is objective—it depends on that which is on the outside of us. It doesn’t depend on anything inside of us. Assurance depends on the inside. It is subjective. Eternal security is not an experience at all. Assurance is experienced. And eternal security is theological, while assurance is psychological.”

He goes on to clarify even further when he discusses salvation in general. He says, “There is actually no difference between salvation and security. Will you notice this? The only salvation God is offering is eternal salvation. He’s not offering any other kind. The kind of life that God is offering is eternal life. This is quite simple, and yet it is so important to see.” He uses John 3:36 to illustrate this truth from a biblical passage. It says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” We could find dozens of passages that further support McGee’s observation that the only kind of salvation offered by Jesus is “eternal” salvation. John 3:16 is key also. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” What kind of life? Everlasting!!

It’s crucial for us to move this truth from the theological realm of eternal security to the internal realm of personal assurance. It’s this truth that Paul was writing to Titus about when he said, “This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God – who does not lie – promised them before the world began” (Titus 1:2). In his commentary on the book of Romans, John MacArthur rightly observes, “Tragically, many Christians throughout the history of the church, including many in our own day, refuse to believe that God guarantees the believer’s eternal security. Such denial is tied to the belief that salvation is a cooperative effort between men and God, and although God will not fail on His side, man might-thus a sense of insecurity. Belief in salvation by a sovereign God alone, however, leads to the confidence that salvation is secure because God, who alone is responsible, cannot fail. Beyond that theological consideration, Paul is saying that the truth of eternal security is clearly revealed by God to us so that all believers are able with certainty to know the comfort and hope of that reality if they simply take God at His word. God’s child need never fear being cast out of his heavenly Father’s house or fear losing his citizenship in His eternal kingdom of righteousness.”

Luke 6:35-36

Children Of The Most HIgh!

I hate to admit it, but the older I get the more I see my father when I look in the mirror. I’m 76 with 77 coming up in January 2024. My Dad passed away at 64. I can remember the way he yawned. I yawn like that. I remember how he carried a handkerchief and would blow his nose with one hand because he was always busy with the other. I find myself doing that also. That served him well in the last ten years of his life because he lost his right arm in an electrical accident and had to do everything one-handed. I hear my dad laugh when I laugh. He had a weird sense of humor. Some say I have one too! My friend and my dad’s cousin, Mary Ellen, told me that the last time I saw her, I reminded her of my dad.  She lived next door to Dad as they grew up on 47th and Seward and knew him all her life.  She said she’d know just by looking at me that I was Chuck’s kid. The family resemblance was undeniable. Even though he wasn’t perfect, I still liked being told I am like my father in some ways.

As sons and daughters of our heavenly father, it’s not the physical appearance that identifies us as God’s offspring. It’s the way we live. The most significant characteristic that identifies us as children of God is that, like God, our relationships with others are characterized by mercy and grace.  In Luke 6:35, Jesus tells us to “love our enemies.” You might remember that “love” in the Bible is often referring to “actions” rather than feelings. It is used that way in this passage. It’s how we treat others who have hurt us, offended us, or otherwise deserve some sort of retaliation. When we are gracious, we identify with God’s character. We do what God does. We treat others as God treats us. We are “like God” in a moral, family sense.  That’s how we distinguish ourselves as God’s children. In the preceding passage of Luke, Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount.”

Grace and Mercy in our relationships with others are what mark us as children of God. Even the sinners of the world give back what they get in life, but only God’s children give good when they get something bad! Mercy and grace go together. Mercy is when you do not get the judgment you deserve, and grace takes it a step further in that instead of getting retaliation, we do something good for another. In the passage following “love your enemies,” Jesus says, “… and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).

Mark 4:39

A Great Calm!

In Genesis chapter 1, we read that the earth was “formless and void.” These ideas perfectly describe a chaotic situation. Then God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3). He then proceeded to create categories. In Genesis 1:5, we read, “God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. …And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse…And God called the expanse Heaven… God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.” He then filled space with planets and stars. He filled the skies with birds, the seas with fish, and the land with plants and animals. In other words, he gave the categories content and brought order out of the chaos.  It resulted in a perfect environment of peaceful coexistence in the Garden of Eden with man entrusted with its care. This is called paradise!

Evolutionary Scientists argue that order (the complexities in the universe) came about by accident. Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine, in his book “Order out of Chaos” argues that many complex systems have evolved into a high degree of order without the interference of a designer. Stuart Kauffman suggests a fourth law of thermodynamics which involves spontaneous self-sustaining, self-organizing systems.  One creationist observed that this 4th so-called law “would violate the second law of thermodynamics, which states everything in nature tends toward decay.” The law of decay has its roots in man’s sin. God brought order, man’s rebellion brought chaos again, and the earth was cursed.

Harry Reasoner concluded his book, “Before the Colors Fade” (Alfred A. Knopf, 1981), with a Catholic theologian’s definition of work: “Work is the effort of men and women to bring order out of the chaos left by original sin.” The problem with this is that man’s failure involves his inability to bring perfect order back into a chaotic world of sin and confusion.  But Jesus, the 2nd Adam, came to do just that. Many of His miracles were designed for us to see Him as the producer of order in the world. We read about one of these in Mark 4:39: “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

I’m not convinced about global warming, but it sure does seem that there are many natural disasters today. It wasn’t long ago that Maui was destroyed by wind, fire, and water. Earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires, and other natural catastrophes seem to be increasing. Maybe we’re better equipped to learn about them. This makes me pray the last verse in the bible more fervently. “Even so, Come Lord Jesus.” Not only does Jesus restore order from all the chaos in the world, but he also brings “great calms” into the lives of those who trust Him.  In his book, “The Loins Girded,” Knap says, “There is the storm of doubt that may make us shake within our deepest essence. We can control her as little as the howling wind. However, when the grace of Immanuel flows towards us to uphold us in the evil day, then it seems like our vexed soul may hear from the throne of majesty the word: ‘Peace, be still,’ and a great calm enters our innermost.”


Matthew 1:21, Various

What’s In A Name?

Everyone has a name. My name is Charles Elliott Larsen. The last name is obvious. It came from my father’s last name. I’m confident you understand this tradition. My middle name, “Elliott,” has a link to the past as well. Elliott was the last name of my maternal great-grandfather. My first name comes from my father. I’m Junior! You can look up names to find the dictionary meanings also. My name, Charles, means manly, courageous, and brave! There have been a few rare incidents in my life where I felt I lived up to that name, but not very often. I can recount more times when I failed. The only time my mother called me “Charles” was when she was mad at me. I knew I had been found out. I had not been brave, courageous, or manly at all, and I’d come with my head hung in shame. My wife’s name is “Kathy,” which comes from the word for “clean” or “pure.” She lives up to her name a lot better than I live up to mine. She got her name simply from the fact that her parents liked that name.

“In Scripture, names of people and places often have meaning. OT verses where such is the case are listed along with the appropriate meaning. Translators may transliterate names, transliterate with a footnote, transliterate with an explanatory, “which means,” transliterate with the meaning in parenthesis, or translate the meaning of the name.”[1] But when Jesus was named, it came directly from God and had a direct relationship with what his life mission would be. It came directly from God via the angel Gabriel. Matthew 1:21 says, She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

 The Angel told Joseph what to name the baby: “Jesus.” He would be given this name because he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus means “salvation.” There are no inconsistencies with Jesus and his name like those with me and my name. Acts 4:12 tells us that he is the only savior. It says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” When Jesus, the only savior, saves, he saves completely. Hebrews 7:25 tells us, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  Further, we must not miss the fact that his complete, “to the uttermost” salvation is a personal, individual salvation that will never fail us. There will never be a time when His salvation is inconsistent. It’s always thorough and complete. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It doesn’t say “you might be” saved.  Unlike me, Jesus is always consistent in living up to his name. No one who believes in Jesus will be disappointed. The Romans passage goes on to say, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Another verse, 1 John 5:13 (one of my favorites), explains the certainty that comes from trusting Jesus to fulfill the definition of his name. It says, “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the son of God so that you will know that you have eternal life.”

[1] Sailer, William, J. Creighton Christman, David C. Greulich, Harold P. Scanlin, Stephen J. Lennox, and Phillip Guistwite. 2012. Religious and Theological Abstracts. Myerstown, PA: Religious and Theological Abstracts.

Malachi 1:7-8

Despising The Table Of The Lord

Malachi confronted the religious leaders in Israel for “despising” the name of the Lord. Their rebellion and disobedience to ways of worship set forth in the Scriptures were, according to Malachi, rebellion against God, Himself. But the religious leaders, rejecting even the prophet’s authority and confrontation, want to argue about what is right and what is wrong with their behavior. They want to know exactly what Malachi is accusing them of. So the prophet points out in detail how the religious leaders disrespect God and His Name. In Malachi 1:7-8 he says, “By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor?’ says the Lord of hosts.”

The priests offered “polluted food.” I think what Malachi means by “polluted food” is that the priests ignored the specific directions regarding sacrificial animals. The priests offered blind, lame, and sick animals as sacrifices to God. Not only did these animals represent disobedience to the law, but they represented gifts of lesser value. They kept the good ones for themselves and gave God what wasn’t of much real value. If these things were offered to secular leaders, they would not accept them, but you expect God to stay silent as you disrespect Him with such offerings. With Malachi as God’s spokesman, God doesn’t remain silent. When I was on recruiting duty in Detroit, Michigan, if you had a military vehicle signed out to you, you had to go through a training class. This was back in the late 70s. As I remember it, seatbelts were just becoming mandatory. I remember the instructor telling all the recruiters that if they had an accident, make sure they told the authorities you were wearing your seat belt. It didn’t matter whether we were wearing it or not. They were not really popular at the time. He said, “Only God and you know the truth. And God isn’t going to tell anyone.” This was the attitude the priests took about offering polluted sacrifices to the Lord. But in this case, the Lord did speak.

Malachi sounded extremely harsh when he accused the priests of “despising” the table of the Lord. It’s just a little white lie that no one cares about, the instructor at the Navy Recruiting station said. It’s just a broken leg, the priest said. It’s such a little thing. But little things like that never stay little. Peter Adam said. “They began by accepting worthless sacrifices, that then led to despising the table or altar on which the sacrifices were offered. The logic is that if the sacrifices are worthless, then the table must be worthless as well. So, they despise the gracious gift of God, the means by which sin is atoned for, and offerings are accepted. To despise God’s gifts is to despise God; to treat God’s gifts of grace as unholy is to reject the very means that God has provided for sins to be forgiven. And this attitude is then reflected in what they say and so communicated to others, priests and worshippers alike: ‘What a weariness this is,’ you say, and you sniff at me, says the Lord of hosts (13). We see here a spiraling moral decline, in which sin multiplies and intensifies.”[1] The sacrificial offerings were how God would bestow forgiveness for the people’s sins. Today, it’s the cross of Jesus Christ. The communion table represents the reminder that it was the worthy sacrifice of the Son of God, the shedding of that blood, that makes forgiveness possible for us today. To take the Lord’s name in vain, as it is done today, is to “sniff” at God and to despise the table of the Lord.

[1] Adam, Peter. 2013. The Message of Malachi: “I Have Loved You,” Says the Lord. Edited by Alec Motyer and Derek Tidball. The Bible Speaks Today. England: Inter-Varsity Press.

sewa motor jogja
© Chuck Larsen 2019. Powered by WordPress.