Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015

This Thanksgiving, one of the things we are grateful for is our precious little son, Spurgeon Elliot. Knowing how much we love our son already only amazes us all the more that God gave His only Son, Jesus Christ to redeem mankind. We are so thankful for His love and forgiveness extended to all of us. This Thanksgiving we are so happy to be parents! Children are a blessing from the Lord. As we are embarking on this journey of parenthood, we appreciate all of your prayers. We pray that God would give us the wisdom to be good parents. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

-The Seewalds

Baby Spurgeon

Every Good and Perfect Gift

November 17, 2015

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." - James 1:16-17

Every good and perfect gift is from God. Here are some quick thoughts:

1) Gifts are given freely, and not earned.

If you earn something by your actions, it is your wages--your just and due compensation. If you aren't paid something you've earned it is considered an injustice. Now God created us for Himself and He therefore owns us as Creator (Col. 1:16). As a result, we owe God our very life breath, and He owes us nothing (except for wrath and damnation because of our sin, but that's another Devo). This fact should cause us to realize just how much we have been gifted by God and live in perpetual gratitude to Him.

2) This completely eliminates all grounds for boasting. Superstar athletes, for example, are often referred to as "highly gifted individuals".Too many times stars, celebrities, highly skilled professionals, politicians and other well knowns can be prideful and boastful. Even people who feel like they are less gifted often take great pride in how hard they work. Let this be clear, humanity may boast in itself, but there are no valid grounds for it. The glory all belongs to God, "in whom we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Your eyes couldn't see these words if God hadn't given you sight; Your brain couldn't make sense of these words if God didn't give you sanity; And the athlete couldn't have scored the touchdown, or made the game winning three-pointer if God hadn't freely given the ability.

3) The greatest gift God has given us is salvation through Jesus. "For God so loved the world, that HE GAVE His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 [emphasis added]). This gift was costly--so costly that we will never know the extent of it. But The God-Man Jesus sacrificed Himself to free all who believe in Him, from the punishment we deserved. He stood in our place as our substitute, taking on himself our infinite sin debt, and He gives believers His infinite Holiness that He earned while living on this earth. This is the "gift of God" as Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us, "not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

So remember, all the glory to God for every good and perfect gift, especially His Good and Perfect Son, offered as the ultimate gift to save those who believe on Him!

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. - 1 Timothy 1:15

This is one of my favorite Bible verses! Let's dive into it together:

1) Something trust-worthy.

Think about what "trustworthy" means. We could say "Worthy of Trust." Sometimes we use this term to describe a faithful friend or a son or daughter who has shown themselves to be responsible. Praise God for good friends and responsible children! But even the most "trustworthy" human, is still just a human. We might trust them to bring the veggie tray to the party, and they might get stuck in traffic or perhaps an emergency comes up that is beyond their control (Of course, we should understand and forgive them).

The "trustworthy" in this verse is far stronger than we can use it to describe a human or anything else besides God Himself. Paul calls the statement in this verse "trustworthy" because God Himself had said the same and God is always true and does not lie.

The statement is worthy of trust because God said it, and God is supremely worthy of trust.

He further describes this saying as "deserving of full acceptance." Because it is SO true, it deserves to be accepted.

2) God on a mission

So what is this saying that Paul describes as so trustworthy and deserving of acceptance?

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"

The Son of God, second person of the Trinity, entered the world He created. This world so full of death, filth, disease, hate, abuse, and all evil. Philippians 2 talks about this more. Because we can't comprehend just how mighty and majestic God is, we can't even begin to understand the wonder that He would come into our world. The One who holds all things in existence, see Him laying there as a newborn baby in the feeding trough, in a barn, surrounded by dirt, and odors! Imagine the One who created water becoming thirsty! The one who created the digestive system needing to eat!? What a wonder this is! We could go on, bet it's enough for now to say:

We will never ever comprehend the infinite humbling the King of the Universe voluntarily endured in order to come into the world the way He did.

3) The objective

What was the objective of God's mission to planet Earth?

I'm picturing the Angels at this point. There is baby Jesus, laying in the feeding trough in that barn with his poor parents trying to keep Him warm by wrapping Him in rags. "What's this? Amazing! What could God be doing?" Wouldn't God only come into this sinful and evil world as a conquering King to judge the wickedness of mankind? What would cause God to come as a helpless baby when He is all powerful? I imagine that they eagerly watched to see what Jesus would do. I imagine their awe as Jesus lived a life of poverty and homelessness, followed by a rag-tag band of the scum of the earth, and looked upon with disdain by the more respectable religious people. I picture their utter shock and confusion as Jesus gave up His life in the most cruel and torturous form of execution know to man: crucifixion. He made the metal and the wood on which He would die. He sustained the heartbeat of the man that brutally whipped Him.

And why?

"To save sinners"!

This, my friends, is the best news in the universe! You may be trying to get your act together before you come to God. Maybe you are trying to be good enough so He will accept you. It won't work. There is nothing we can do to earn God's favor. Ephesians 2:8-9 days that salvation is by grace (un-earned favor) through faith, and not of works. Yet for you, unworthy sinner, Christ offers you Himself. He offers you His righteousness; He offers to take your place and you take His. Perhaps you are burdened with guilt and sin and feeling hopeless. Or perhaps you feel that you aren’t good enough for this gospel and that you’ve sinned away any chance of being accepted by God. Well, then this good news of Jesus Christ is for you: Christ calls all men everywhere to repent of their sins and to believe in Him and He will give them rest for their souls. Repentance means confessing your sins to the Lord and crying out to Him for forgiveness. Belief is the entrusting of yourself wholly to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He says that “all who come to Me, I will never cast out.” Come to Christ. He is a merciful Savior, ready to forgive. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". Jesus said in Mark 1:15 to "repent (turn from your sin) and believe in the gospel". Give up trying to earn God's favor by your works. Believe in what Jesus did to save sinners like us, and that it is the only thing that will save you. Ask God to help you turn away (repent) of your sins. Turn away from sin and turn to God. He is the only way to salvation (John 14:6).

Christians, those who know Christ as their Savior and Lord, let us not be ashamed of this message, for it is the power of God unto salvation for anyone who believes (Romans 1:16). This news is good news! Let's think on it every day, and boldly and lovingly share about the One who saved us poor sinners and gave us new life!

Today's Devotional

September 30, 2015

Hebrews 12:1-4 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

I love these verses in Hebrews 12! There is an amazing picture painted for us here, of running a race. Much can be said about this, but I just want to point to a few quick observations.

1) Picture a runner. We are exhorted to lay aside every weight and sin that would try to thwart us from running the race. Imagine a runner with a backpack full of games, a camera hanging around his neck, and reading a novel as he carelessly jogs along. Would you think he was very serious about running the race? This is not the picture we get in Hebrews 12. Christian, beware of getting bogged down with distractions that would cause you to lose your focus on Christ and the race we are to run.

Sin is obviously a hindrance. But there are other things that may not even be sin per say, but would cause us to be less effective in serving Christ. Hobbies, entertainment, frivolous and empty conversation, wasted time, etc. are all things that can creep into your life and stop you from running this race like you potentially could. We are told to "lay aside every weight". This doesn't mean that we can't enjoy a little recreation here and there. We all need to take breaks sometimes, and "catch our breaths" so to speak. Just make sure that it keeps it's proper place: to restore, refuel, and refresh you in order to be more effective in the future. Note that we are called to run with "patience" (or endurance).

2) What should drive us? What is our goal and motivation in the race of the Christian life? It is Christ! A runner must have his eyes set on the prize. He must be focused. "Looking to Christ..." This is how we live the Christian life. "Looking to Christ;" considering (thinking, meditating on) Him as verse 3 says. "Consider Him" says verse 3--and why? So you don't become weary and faint.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." So how do we get closer to God? How do we become more like Christ? By focusing on Him! As a runner focuses on the goal set before him/her, and runs with endurance to get closer to it and to reach it, so must we! Christ is our treasure! Christians, let us be focused on our prize. The fun and entertainments of this world are NOTHING compared to the infinite joy and fulfillment of knowing God. They are passing away. They are futile and temporary. They can be distractions and "weights" if we aren't careful. Let us focus on our prize, which is God Himself, and run with endurance the race that will bring us closer to Him!

The Results Are In!

September 29, 2015

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Baby Poll.  We received over 110,000 votes and some wonderful name suggestions.  We've listed everything below.

Results:

58,350 Girl

23,158 Boy

17,999 Boy/Girl twins

8,608 Twin Girls

3,096 Twin Boys

Top 5 Boy Names

Luke
Zachary
Sawyer
Noah
Benjamin

Top 5 Girl Names

Savannah
Sarah
Olivia
Rachel
Hope