Author: markspansel

Repentance & Sanctification

With all this talk of Good Grief and Genuine Repentance I thought it would be helpful to add a few additional thoughts from the last two weeks of sermons on 2 Corinthians 7:8-12 …

Repentance Is Always a Posture of Humility

 Whether it be the heart of an unbeliever awakened to the Gospel to turn from slavery to sin to the beauty of Jesus or a child of God aware of his failure in the flesh, a bowed head before the Lord is a good and right posture. It takes Spirit-produced humility to see and savor Christ over the pleasure of sin for a season. For this reason, repentance is both the response of a regenerated heart and the fruit of a believer’s sanctification.

Repentance Knows Where the Power is Found

 Whether it be the delighting in sin pursued, or the weight of guilt over sin forsaken, a believer can never let sin have the power. The power of sin has been defeated at the cross. Satan aims to thwart our sanctification as the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10), keeping our eyes on the sin and not the Savior. In repentance, we disarm the stronghold of sin by looking to the cross where Jesus paid it all and we put our confidence in the power of the Spirit to sanctify us completely. For this reason, repentance is both the response of a regenerated heart and the fruit of a believer’s sanctification.

Repentance Delights in Being Brought Low so that Christ is Lifted High

 Whether it be in our failure to turn from sin or the successful resisting of temptation, the child of God loves to be brought low so that Christ is exalted. Far from this being an attitude of poor self-esteem, it is an attitude of honor to God. He is the Conqueror over sin, not us. He is the Ruler of our souls, not us. He is the One to be praised, not our best efforts. To see yourself in the right place before the God of glory (remember Isaiah and Peter) is actually the place of great joy. Because in that place your life rightly lifts Jesus high … and don’t we all want to do that?!

May our repentance glory in the cross where sin met is match, so that our sanctification focuses on the glory and beauty of Jesus over the wretchedness of sin.

  • Mark Spansel
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Transformed to Discern God’s Will

I remember how my thoughts about God’s Word changed when I was saved at 19. The Bible went from boring and irrelevant to alive and life changing. In Roman 12:2 Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In order to be able to discern God’s will I first need to be transformed. This happens when I surrender my life to Christ and am saved and then daily as I walk with Him. The word transformed does not indicate a minor change but a radical change. I am not simply adding Jesus to complete my life which was already pretty good, there are deep profound changes that Jesus takes me through in salvation and while I walk with Him.

The verse goes on to say by testing we may discern God’s will. In my work we use lots of different established standards to test parts against to determine if they are good or bad. In the same way our standard is God’s Word which when properly applied causes us to discern what is good and from God. With all the distractions, partial truths and outright lies that are in the world today I desperately need to stay humble before God, seeking His Spirit to reveal His truth to me through the Word so I can discern rightly God’s heart in what I face. My prayers are with you that transformed by the work of the Spirit in your life, God’s Word would saturate your soul blessing you with Godly discernment in all you face.

  • Steve Selle

Using Our Gifts to Edify

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” I Peter 4:10.

As believers, we are to live with Christ’s imminent return in full view. We are called to be vigilant, watchful, and always ready for the Lord when He comes. For us, Jesus should not return as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), but our lamps should be ready, filled with oil, matches in hand, and prepared to join the parade of our Bridegroom (Matthew 25:6, 7). While we await His return, the Apostle Peter admonishes us to be serious and watchful in prayers with a goal of using our gifts to edify our Christian brothers and sisters (1 Peter 4:8-11).

Every Christian should have a fervent love for Christ. Then, that love continues its flow from the Throne of Grace through us and onto our brethren with ample supply to cover a multitude of sins.  The Bible addresses the need for church discipline concerning reprehensible sins in a Christian’s life. However, that thing we see in a brother or sister’s life, which is minor or petty, the apostle encourages us to let our love for one another cover the trivial matter (v 8).

His edification does not stop with love alone. We are encouraged to be hospitable, a great virtue. Peter presses in, instructing us to be hospitable and to demonstrate hospitality without grumbling. My dad often said, “Guests, like fish, stink after three days.” Dad had many clever sayings but contextually he would be in error. We are called to open our hearts to those who are in need, regardless of the duration. Even if we are seemingly exploited, we are not to grumble as we care for them (v 9).

Equipped with love, purveying hospitality, we should steward the gifts given us by God, for the edification of Church. No Christian is exempt. We are all called to the ministry of our gifts, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We normally think of stewardship in the context of finances. Finances have their rightful place in stewardship, but in this text, Pastor Peter has a grander view. He instructs believers to actively steward God’s abundant grace for the building-up of the church (v 10).

The author closes this paragraph on edifying gifts by reminding us that one of our greatest gifts is God’s Word, which informs our minds and sets our hearts ablaze. In the same way let us be zealous to use our gifts to God’s Glory, as He supplies the strength (v 11).

  • Selby Brannon

Gospel Unity

Paul writes to his friends in Philippi “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Any community will hold up unity as a pleasant idea but mostly in a superficial and sentimental way. How do you see that expressed in our culture? Paul isn’t satisfied with that type of unity. Where’s the enemy of unity? Is it outside the church? Is the enemy somewhere outside of us or perhaps it’s much closer? Paul’s words from Philippians seems to say it’s actually found within our hearts.

What differentiates Gospel unity from the general kind that always seems to be outside society’s reach? The “encouragement” Paul finds in Gospel unity is grounded in our relationship to the Trinity. Our unity is not found in who we are or what we do but in who He is and what He has done. It is found in sinners made righteouse as they are found in Christ. As each of us becomes more and more aware of how much we have been forgiven and the greatness of the grace by which we have been accepted as sons we come into deeper relationship within the family of God. Just after Paul’s words quoted above he goes on to say of Christ, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Our unity, Gospel unity is found at the foot of the cross. I’ve not died for unity but Christ has and He didn’t do that so anyone would bow to me but only to the one that “God has highly exalted…. so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth.” Our heart level sin of selfish ambition, conceit and pride, the sins that kill unity were crucified with Christ on the cross and now by grace are being replaced with humility, and an ability to count others as more significant. Gospel unity says I now have nothing to defend, nothing to do but show my friends in Christ the same grace I have been shown and lift up Christ and his work in our salvation.

  • David Ortiz

Growing The Gifts We Are Given

As Christmas approaches I am sure all parents can remember a gift that you gave your kids that unfortunately our children weren’t quite ready for. The drone in a tree, or the cell phone that caused a data overage or other issue.

Our Heavenly Father is the giver of perfect gifts but it is amazing how often I can mess His gifts up. For me this typically looks like one of two things:

The gift received that my pride uses to paint myself in a better light than others. This not only kills any productive use of His gift to serve others but holds me back in growing that gift. Also it potentially holds me back from the greater gifts God may desire to equip me with to serve Him. Luke 16:10-11 talks about those being faithful with the little, being entrusted with more.

The second is the gift that I don’t put to use to serve the body. This can happen for several reasons, my distraction with lesser things, or my fear that I am not that gifted to do something. Paul encourages Timothy to fan into a flame the gift he was given (2 Timothy 1:6). Many of the gifts given by God we are called to use in small but faithful ways and watch Him expand and grow that gift within us as we rest in the fact that this is a gift that God has given me to serve the body.

There are many who encourage me in my faith at Leroy by how faithful they are with the gifts God has given them. I think of people in our child care and kid’s church areas that serve often unseen but allow parents to relax and know their children are being taken care of, giving them the freedom to sit in a service and hear God’s Word. The list of people using their gifts at Leroy is long and they encourage us in our faith and use of the gifts God has given us.

  • Steve Selle

Looking to the Future – Worshipping Together

Psalm: 133 begins “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” The Hebrew word for unity speaks to a group of people who are together. 

At our most recent congregational meeting, Pastor Mark spoke to the desire of the elders to move toward a one worship service vision. This vision is cast as we move forward in our building campaign that includes a larger sanctuary. Currently, we have two services to accommodate all the people who call Leroy Community Chapel their church.

The reasons to choose one service time or another aren’t necessarily wrong: some are parents who bring their youth to 90@9 or Kingdom Kids and, by default, worship during the first service then continue on with their day. Others serve during the first hour and later join in worship with those who prefer the later service. But when we are split between two services, it means that all of Leroy is rarely together, rarely unified as a people who are together. So, there is a sense that LCC is two congregations who worship in the same building, on the same day, but at different times. Two groups hear the same message and sing the same worship songs but they are not in complete unity because they are not together, missing full fellowship and ministering to one another.

As elders, we want all who call Leroy “home” to be unified together in a common worship service. And our intent does not stop with an all-togetherness; rather, it goes much deeper than that. We want to have a second Sunday morning teaching time that focuses on the family. One where children meet with their age group in the new classrooms specially designed for them and the youth meet for their time of further study and worship. We also want Mom and Dad to meet, learn, and grow with other adults of like precious faith. Yes, there is a teacher who teaches, but much of the learning occurs when others in the class speak into how the Word of God addresses their 21st century world.

We also recognize that some of you attend alone, without a family in the area. You may be a single young professional beginning a career, divorced, or a widow or widower. At LCC, you will not be left out. There is room for you here.

If you are not already doing so, start making plans to spend a couple hours on a Sunday morning with us for corporate worship, learning, singing, praising, and fellowshipping together as the people of God.

  • Selby Brannon

Progress in Progressive Sanctification

“I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul assured his friends in Philippi they would eventually arrive home complete in Christ and that’s certainly true for anyone found in Christ today. I need to be reminded of that often. But if you’re like me that prompts some questions. Do you find yourself wondering if progress is being made? I mean how can I tell the Gospel is actually taking root in my heart and there’s something good going on deep down in my soul? What can we use to make an assessment? What’s the gauge?
● Moral behavior can certainly be an indicator, (see 1 Jn 3:6) but we all know people who don’t claim the name of Christ who are very good. Anyone with the least bit of self-awareness knows it’s possible to cover up what’s really going on inside with an outward appearance that is at odds with the heart.
● Healthy appetite for Christian culture and the otherwise religious can also be an indicator – had my quiet-time, listened to a sermon on the way to work, played praise and worship music all day, made it to small group and Church this week. Check and double check. I must be well on the way, right? Could all that just be the same insincere stuff Jesus had to call out the Pharisees for?
● A hunger to know and understand is another indicator. The book shelves are packed with good stuff and I love to be learning. We are alive in a time where it seems there’s an excellent book coming off the press every minute of the day full of truth and teaching for followers of Christ. Add everything that is instantly available to the learner today via the web and it’s an amazing blessing of help and input for growth and understanding of who we are in Christ. Yes, that’s been fuel for progress but apparently knowledge can out-run the application to my heart, (1 Cor 8:1).
Behavior, activity, and knowledge may be three things I’ve observed in my own life that are undoubtedly important in evaluating progress in sanctification but there’s a caution as well. To be sanctified isn’t a hyper-spiritual state but a more practical view of life as I’m becoming increasingly aware of the needfulness of grace. It is a quickening of the pace to turn away from confidence in self and toward the keeper of my soul. Maturing in wisdom, more sincere love and care for the wellbeing of others, seeing myself, God, and others more truly. In sum “becoming conformed to the image of His Son” Who is the only perfect and reliable gauge for measuring progress in sanctification. I am thankful He is both the power and the guarantee that it will be accomplished.

– David Ortiz