Straight to the Heart

 
 
 

Maintain Christian Unity

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, . . . eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 
(Ephesians 4:1, 3, ESV)
 

As Americans we declare our unity by pledging allegiance to the flag of the UNITED States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, ONE NATION, under God, INDIVISIBLE, with liberty and justice for ALL. Yet by many accounts America is deeply divided. We are divided among ethnic, socio-economic, gender, generational, regional, and political lines (just to name a few divisions). Clearly, we are not a “united” nation, not “one nation,” and not “indivisible.” Just because we declare unity does not mean we have unity. There is not enough space in this brief article to explain how we went from being “one nation under God” to a nation of individuals with many gods. Nevertheless, having started out as a nation with an understanding of responsibility for one another, Americans now find themselves caught up in the individualism of our age. 

Unfortunately, this rugged American individualism has invaded the church. Consequently, there is not much unity in the church as many demand their own way. We might offer a host of reasons for the American church’s disunity, but the apostle Paul summarizes well what is perhaps the number one reason: spiritual immaturity (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). Those who are spiritually immature think of no one other than themselves (James 4:1-4). 

Realizing the human proclivity toward self-centeredness and selfishness, Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians to manifest Christian unity with all humility and gentleness, patience and forbearance, in love (Eph. 4:1-2). In other words, as Christians, we manifest our unity by how we treat others. Do you treat others with humility? Gentleness? Patience? Forbearance? Love? 

On Sunday, Brian Davis reminded us from Psalm 133 that the basis of Christian unity is that God is our Father and Jesus, through whom we have been reconciled to God, is our elder brother. By faith in Christ, then, we are united with Christ by his Spirit, brought into the family of God, and call one another brothers and sisters. This love and unity is our “apologetic,” Brian said. By our love and unity the world will know we belong to Jesus.

On this basis, then, Paul urges the Ephesians to maintain Christian unity with all diligence (Eph. 4:3). Christian unity is a gift, given to us by the Holy Spirit of God when He unites us with Christ at conversion (Eph. 4:3), yet we are to diligently maintain it. Why? Here is Paul’s argument: since we have one Father, we are one family (Eph. 4:6); since we have one Lord, we have one hope, one faith and one baptism (Eph. 4:4b-5); and since we have one Spirit, we are one body (Eph. 4:4a). In other words, we are to maintain Christian unity because the unity of the church is a reflection and testimony to the indestructible unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

In your interactions with fellow church members, are you manifesting the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, or are you manifesting bitter jealousy and selfish ambitions? Are you diligently maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, or are you diligently maintaining divisions within the body of Christ? Remember Paul’s warning to the Corinthians that anyone who seeks to destroy the temple (church) of God, God will destroy them (1 Corinthians 3:17). Therefore, let us glorify God’s united, Trinitarian nature by manifesting and maintaining the unity that He has given to us. As we treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, the world will know we belong to the Father in heaven.

Love,


The Cries of a Wounded Heart

“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.”

(Psalm 6:6, ESV)

Did you know that the largest number of Psalms record the laments or complaints of the people of God? These laments offer God’s people great instruction in the expression of raw human emotions. For this reason, the Psalms can be a source of soothing comfort for those who experience major distress and suffering. Have you ever been so depressed that you thought you could not go on living? Well, the Psalms help us to see that when we find ourselves in the depths of woe we can and should cry out to God. How?

In Psalm 6, for example, David has fallen into deep depression for some reason that is not immediately apparent to us. Perhaps David’s depression is a direct result of a personal sin; perhaps it is a result of his adversaries (6:8, 10). Whatever the source of David’s dismay, we hear him cry out to God in utter desperation.

First we notice the cry for mercy and grace. David pleads with God to withhold His wrath. God’s wrath is what all sin deserves. If David had sinned, he is asking God to be merciful to him in judging his sin. If David had not sinned, then he is merely pleading with God because his suffering seems unbearable. His suffering is such that he feels he is “pining away” (6:2) and wonders how long it will be before God delivers him (6:3). Have you ever felt like that? Have you been in that dark, lonely place where, whether because of your sin or someone else’s, your suffering seems too great to bear?

It is at this point we hear David’s second cry: the cry for deliverance. David is at a point where he no longer senses God’s presence, so he asks God to “return” so that He would rescue him. David knows he does not deserve such salvation, but he knows that God is a covenant God, so he pleads for salvation based on God’s promise to love His covenant people; this is the lovingkindness of God (6:4). Have you ever felt abandoned by God, like God is nowhere to be found? Cry out for God’s deliverance. On the basis of what he has done for us in Christ in the new covenant, we can cry out to Him. If he has not withheld his own Son, how will he not also freely give us all we need to persevere, even in the midst of suffering (Romans 8:32)?

Next, we hear David’s cry of grief. David’s suffering is so great that he is weary of weeping; he has shed so many tears that his bed is ready to float away (6:6); David is so overwhelmed by suffering that his physical strength has left him (6:7). If you have ever been in such a state of depression then you know what David experienced. You know how difficult it is to get out of bed, for you do not have enough strength. You have cried to the point where you think you have no more tears left inside of you, and you wonder if there is anyone to hear your cries; is there anyone who can come to your rescue? The good news is that there is. David understood this, so he offered a final cry of assurance. He recognized that just like every other time in the past that this time also, the Lord heard his weeping; the Lord heard his prayer. He had confidence that the Lord would answer his prayers (6:8-9) and would make all things right (6:10). Friends, do you have such assurance? Do you have such confidence? You can if you turn to the God who is our ever-present help in time of trouble.

If you are downcast and broken-hearted, the Psalms can teach you how even in a state of deep depression, God’s children can cry out to Him in confidence, for He is our shepherd (Psalm 23), who has provided the lamb who takes away our sin. May you know and experience the peace of God given to us in the person of Christ.

Love,



The July Preaching Series 2019

This Sunday we begin our second annual July Preaching Series. Each Sunday in July, we will host a special guest who will deliver the sermon in our 10:00 am gathering. There are several reasons I’m excited about this preaching series, but the primary reason is that it allows us to hear from faithful voices outside of High Pointe. I hope it will encourage you to hear the same gospel we already preach from different voices.
 
Who is coming?
 

July 7

John Onwuchekwa

Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, GA
 

July 14

Brian Davis

Pastor of Risen Christ Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA
 

July 21

Julius Kim

Dean of Students and Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Seminary in California

 
July 28

Ryan Kelly

Preaching Pastor at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM
 
 
How can you participate in this series?
 

Pray

Please join us in praying for the guest preachers, that they might preach the Word with faithfulness and conviction. Pray for their families and churches while they are away, and pray for us, that we would hear the Word and be faithful to obey.

 

Come

Be sure to make every effort to be with us each Sunday in July that you’re in town. I am sure you will be blessed as a result of our time together.

 

Welcome

As always, continue to welcome all our guests. Not only will we have guest preachers in July, but we are already seeing LOTS of visitors in our morning services. This is a time when families moving into town are looking for a home church so may we remain sensitive to those who will be visiting among us and continue to make all our guests feel welcome at High Pointe.
 
Love,
 



Juan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. In addition, Juan serves as a council member of The Gospel Coalition, co-founder and president of Coalición, assistant professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He has authored numerous books, including 1 Peter for You and Seven Dangers Facing your Church. Juan and his wife, Jeanine, have five daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.
 
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