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August 11, 2017

Our Sojourn’s End

by Robby Higginbottom

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:10-18 (http://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=62c2f04438&e=82a9a8f891)

THE END. What comes to mind when we see these words? Most of us think of the cessation or termination of something. Old cartoons and movies insult us by flashing “The End” on the screen, as if we don’t realize the show is over. But maybe there’s a message in there. We struggle to identify endings in this life. In this sense, Peter is quite interested in the end that is coming. He speaks of the day of the Lord, a day that will come like a thief, a day that will transform the heavens and the earth, a day that will mean judgment for some and salvation for others. At the close of our Sojourn series, Peter ends his letter by reminding us of the end. As much as we hear that “the joy is in the journey,” is there joy in a journey that ends in destruction? As the people of God, we cannot overstate how important it is to understand Who is coming, where we are going, and what that means for our lives as we watch and wait. You may have heard the question: “Where does the 800-pound gorilla sit?” The answer is, “Wherever he wants.” Something that big and powerful has the right to rearrange the room. In the Scriptures, the return of Christ is an 800-pound gorilla. In the midst of a thousand things that could lead us off the path, the coming of Christ fixes our gaze and sets our horizon. As we continue to travel together, how much will the return of Christ inform and empower our journey?

THE END. In our squishy English language, the end is not just about finish lines. The end also signifies an ultimate goal or purpose. Many of our children learn Question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism at an early age. “What is the chief end of man?” “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” In this sense, Peter calls us to a life that aligns with the supremacy of God in all things. As we sojourn together, waiting, preparing, growing, we live under this banner: “To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Peter 3:18). In The End For Which God Created the World, Jonathan Edwards writes that “all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.” Edwards imagines God’s glory shining upon us and into us, and then being reflected back to God through our lives. “The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original.

So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and He is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.” As we continue to travel together, for what (or for whom) will we live?

As we finish this season of our sojourn, we’re reminded of two precious truths. We know that the end is coming with Christ’s return, and with it, the beginning of eternity in His unveiled presence. Knowing that we have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading should give us joy and confidence as we walk by faith (1 Peter 1:3-5). We also know that, whatever happens, it is ultimately from Him and through Him and to Him (Romans 11:36). By God’s grace, let us live for the end for which we were created. The good news that God rescues, redeems, and reorients is as true for us today as it was for Peter in the first century. Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that we might no longer live for ourselves but for Him who for our sakes died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:15). He is the Alpha and the Omega, the founder and perfecter of our faith, the God of our sojourn. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

About the Author

Robbie Higginbottom Robbie Higginbottom

Robby Higginbottom
Assistant Pastor of College Ministry
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As early as high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. Through the years, he has worked with high school students, college students, and young adults at PCPC. Robby currently serves as an assistant pastor. He is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John Harper.

 

August 04, 2017

Your Advocate, Jesus Christ

by Robby Higginbottom

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (http://pcpc.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=b6a05c7ac1&e=82a9a8f891)

When we think of spiritual warfare, many of us might assume that Satan is after something dramatic: a scandalous sin, a psychological break, or a heretical conviction. But masquerading as an angel of light, Satan’s tactics and aims are typically more shrewd. What we may consider a mundane compromise is often the stuff of violent assault.

Consider the ways that Satan attacked Jesus with temptation in the wilderness. The first two means of temptation related to Jesus proving His deity and power. Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread,” and from the top of the temple, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down (Matthew 4:3,6).” Satan even quoted the Bible for rationale, making his temptations seem permissible, and perhaps even good.

In his classic, Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis suggests that Satan and his forces can do more damage to a Christian by twisting the truth than rejecting it altogether. Speaking of Jesus, the demon says, “We thus distract men’s minds from who He is, and what He did. We first make Him solely a teacher.” In other words, Lewis perceives that Satan may do us more harm by keeping a half-true version of Jesus before us than by convincing us that Jesus was a lunatic or liar.

It's been suggested that one of Satan’s greatest means of attack comes when he convinces us of the half-truth that we are unable to solve the problem of our guilt and sin. On the one hand, this is true: we aren’t able to solve this problem. But on the other hand, this is a hell-stained lie: Jesus has solved this problem and freely extends His victory to us. As the hymn-writer put it:

When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look to see Him there, who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free,

For God, the just, is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me.

In the fog of warfare, how do we defend ourselves against attacks that we miss so easily? How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith? Like Jesus, we must arm ourselves with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me (Psalm 119:97-98).

While it may seem like a simple, even permissible compromise, we must not consider God’s Word peripheral to our spiritual security. It is the sword God has given us to battle against the schemes of Satan, and with it we, like Jesus, are wiser than our great Enemy.

About the Author

Robby Higginbottom
Assistant Pastor of College Ministry
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As early as high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. Through the years, he has worked with high school students, college students, and young adults at PCPC. Robby currently serves as an assistant pastor. He is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John Harper.

 

 

July 28, 2017

Your Adversary, The Devil

by Robby Higginbottom

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (http://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=7cf066f491&e=82a9a8f891)

“Be sober-minded; be watchful.” If that’s all Peter had said, most of us would agree. We need a sound mind and a watchful eye for any number of reasons. But Peter grounds our thinking and watching in a confusing and frightening reality. We need to think well and keep our eyes open because we have an adversary, a fallen angel who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”. Does our life feel like war, like someone is seeking to devour us? Some of us came to Peter looking for a spiritual pick-me-up, but now he ushers us into the war room. We should have known this might happen, for when it comes to spiritual warfare, Peter is an experienced guide, tested and tried. This may not be the message we wanted, but this is the message we need. So when we hear about our adversary, how should we respond?

We shouldn’t remain oblivious. Paul says that “we are not ignorant of [Satan’s] designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11), but sadly, many are. The modern naturalistic worldview makes Peter’s teaching about the devil seem outdated or untenable. The march of technology and science makes the reality of a spiritual realm seem unlikely. But in Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis’s fictional tempter explains, “Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.” Could all these atmospheric challenges play into the demonic strategy of working behind the scenes? Of course. It doesn’t matter how the enemy conceals himself as long as we remain oblivious. How can we win a war when we’re not even aware of it?

When we learn about the devil, we also shouldn’t become obsessed. As the pendulum swings, we can quickly move from ignorance to obsession. We didn’t “see” the devil at all before, and now we see him everywhere, creeping under every rock, hiding around every corner. Once we gave the devil no credit; now we give him too much. We forget that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16), that He who is in us “is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). When this happens, our enemy becomes greater in our imaginations than our Strength and Shield, Jesus Christ. How can we win a war when we don’t realize that our resources are far greater than the enemy’s?

No, when we learn about the devil, we should not remain oblivious or become obsessed. By God’s grace, we should live as those who are informed but not intimidated. We should be sober-minded and watchful, aware of the devil’s schemes, but confident in Christ's victory. Because Adam (and all of us) have yielded to temptation, Jesus went into the wilderness—led by the Spirit!—and resisted Satan’s temptation in our place. Like a roaring lion, the devil sought to devour Jesus, but in the desert, in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, and in His resurrection, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has dealt the devil a deadly blow. As we engage in the fight of faith, do we rest in the victory of Christ?

The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure;
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

About the Author

Robby Higginbottom
Assistant Pastor of College Ministry
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As early as high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. Through the years, he has worked with high school students, college students, and young adults at PCPC. Robby currently serves as an assistant pastor. He is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John Harper.

 


God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Confirmation!

    [Jesus said,]  "When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes — the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father — he will confirm everything about me."

    John 15:26 MESSAGE

    Key Thought

    I have always been amazed at how Jesus uses the last few hours of his life to prepare his followers for their ordeal as he faces the cross, their wonder in his resurrection, and their amazement at his ascension. There is so much happening in a relatively short time, and it is so unexpected. The disciples are eyewitnesses, but how will they remember it all? How can they be confident in what they do remember? Jesus makes it clear that there is one ultimate answer to these questions: the Friend he will send from the Father, the Spirit of Truth! The Spirit will guide and confirm their message as well as empower them to share it boldly. And as we personally pass through the events of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus in our own baptism, we are given this same Spirit of Truth to help guide us into this same truth they proclaim. The Holy Spirit is our connection to the Source of the story, the truth of the story, and the power of the story of Jesus. No wonder Jesus taught that we have to be "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:3-37)!

    Today's Prayer

    O Father, thank you that the gospel is so simple and clear — that Jesus died for me and was buried just as the Scriptures had said, and that he was raised from the dead. Thank you that I have been able to share in this incredible set of events through my own trust in Jesus as Lord and through my baptism as I called on his name. Thank you that the power of his resurrection now is alive in me through the Holy Spirit. Thank you, O God, in Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Jesus' Parting Gift

    [Jesus said,]  I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left — feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught."

    John 14:25-27 MESSAGE

    Key Thought

    I hate goodbyes, especially when I don't know if I will ever again see the people with whom I'm saying, "Goodbye!" This summer has been filled with such goodbyes, and I'm trying not to let them be final. Jesus makes clear that as he leaves his closest followers, he is not abandoning them. He is sending the Friend, the Holy Spirit, to be with them. His presence is their source of peace! He is Comforter, Counselor, Helper, and Friend. The Spirit will be with them and bring them into the Lord's presence whole and holy. The Spirit will help them remember, and even remind them of, Jesus' teachings and help make those teachings plain. And I believe with all my heart that these same promises are given to us, we who have been invited to hear Jesus' last extended conversation with the early disciples!

    Today's Prayer

    O Father, thank you for your plan to incarnate yourself among us in Jesus and then to incarnate yourself within us in the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, Counselor, Helper, and Friend. I praise you, O God — Father, Son, and Spirit — in the name of Jesus. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2017 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.