Saturday, September 29, 2007
John 12:36-“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you many become sons of the light.”
THE DESPERATE SITUATION WE ARE IN
So what is this desperate situation that only Jesus can rescue us from? Notice the words “perish,” “condemned,” and “wrath of God” in the passage bellow….
John 3:16-18, 36- “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God….. 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.”
“The desperate situation we are in, Jesus says, is that we are under the wrath of God. This is owing to our sin. God is just, and His anger is rightly kindled against human attitudes and behaviors that belittle His worth and treat Him as insignificant. All of us have done this. In fact, we do it every day.” –John Piper-
GOD SENT JESUS TO DIE IN OUR PLACE
The amazing truth is that God has sent his Son Jesus into the world not to add to this condemnation, but to rescue us from it. The way Jesus rescues us is by taking the condemnation on himself, and dying in our place.
Isaiah 53:4-6-“We esteemed stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to His own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
“The reason Jesus demands that we believe in Him is that there is nothing we can add to this rescue form the wrath of God. Jesus became our substitute. The sins that should have brought condemnation on us, God laid on Jesus. God’s love planned an amazing exchange: Jesus endured what we deserved sp that we might enjoy what he deserved- eternal life!” –John Piper-
John 14:11-“Believe me that I am the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account the works themselves.”
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
After being a believer for so long, I can sometimes become discouraged with what seems like a slow growth process concerning my sanctification. For every step forward, I feel like I take two steps back. Maybe that is why I could so identify with the words from J. Hudson Taylor.
“I hated myself; I hated my sin…I felt that there was nothing I so much desired in this world as holiness, nothing so much needed. But so far in any measure attaining it, the more I pursued and strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp; till hope itself almost died out… I cannot tell you how I am buffeted sometimes by temptation. I never knew how bad a heart I had. Often I am tempted to think that one so full of sin cannot be a child of God at all.”
Some may be surprised to find that these words were penned by one of the most revered heroes in the Christian church. J. Hudson Taylor was a nineteenth-century missionary to China. A renowned man of extraordinary faith, sacrifice, prayer and devotion. While serving in China, he found that every day he felt oppressed by his sin. Help came in the form of a letter from a fellow missionary.
“Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; trusting Him to subdue all inward corruption; resting in the love of an almighty Savior;…this is not new and yet ‘tis new to me. I feel as though the first dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me.”
In a later letter to his sister, Taylor communicated that he was as happy as he had ever been. What caused such a changed…even in the life of a believer? Taylor said, “I am as capable of sinning as ever, but Christ is realized as present as never before.” Fixing our gaze on Jesus is a powerful thing when we are seeking to be holy. Paul the apostle says it this way: "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."-2 Corin 3:18. So, even in my daily struggle against sin, I know that there is hope. I know that I don’t have to fight this battle alone. I can live my life hoping that my battles are achieving glory for God. But I can rest, knowing He has already won the war.
~Holy God, there is none like You and I thank you for sending Your precious Son as a sacrifice for my sins. Help me to hate me sin as You do, but not to make it bigger than You. May I live my life in the shadow of the cross, living in all joy and gladness because of what has been accomplished! Help me to walk humbly before You and the people in my life.~
"John 6:35- Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger."
HIS YOKE IS EASY, AND HIS BURDEN IS LIGHT
"Therefore, His demand that we come to Him is not burdensome. It means coming to the one who has become everything to us. Jesus did not come into the world mainly to bring a new law. He came to offer Himself for our eternal enjoyment and to do whatever He had to do- including death- to remove every obstacle to this everlasting joy with Him." -John Piper-
"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11)
When Jesus demands that we do things- like “come to me”- the essence of these demands is that we experience that life that most fully savors and spreads His supreme worth. When we come to him, he is the burden-lifter, the soul-satisfier, and the life-giver. How awesome! Coming to Jesus means coming to drink. And the water we drink in fellowship with Jesus gives everlasting life. "Jesus stood up and cried out. 'If anyone thirsts, let his come to me and drink'" (John 7:37)
"Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The Water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14)
The demand that we come to Jesus is the demand to come to the fountain of life and drink. How grateful I am that I can go to my savior when ever I am in need and be refreshed by His love and mercy.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
"There can be few more alarming sights than the sight of what we would be were we left to ourselves, of what we are by nature in and of ourselves. It is a sight which few of us are able to bear for any length of time. That is why such experiences are usually brief , pointed but not prolonged. God shows us enough to make us see our need, to break down any illusions we may have had about ourselves. Like a skilled surgeon his knife work is fast, accurate and clean."
I don't think Mr. Ferguson could be more right. Thank God that He does not leave me to myself where there will be certain failure. The sad thing is, is that God must repeat the process over and over again. Somehow I attribute any success I have to myself, which leads me abandon the wings of my Father and attempt to fly solo. In the end, as I am plummeting toward certain death and destruction, the Lord once again swoops in and shows me His grace. Amazing isn't it?
Monday, September 24, 2007
I just wanted to let you all know of an outstanding message on the subject of modesty by C.J. Mahaney titled, "The Soul Of Modesty." It is probably the best message I've ever heard on this subject and I highly recommend it.
Check it out!
You can download it free here....
Friday, September 21, 2007
Potter, have thy way!
My heart—so very hard!
My Master’s molding clay,
Feels a pot broken, charred.
Come again; soft’n my heart!
Fountain, quench my thirst!
My heart—so very dry!
The Spring once loved first,
Now broken cisterns, lies.
Come again; drench my heart!
Healer, let me see!
My heart—so very blind!
Open my eyes to thee,
With thy salve, love so kind.
Come again; unveil my heart!
Lover, fan my fire!
My heart—so very cold!
The flame of my desire,
but a mem’ry, of old.
Come again; warm my heart!
Father, comfort me!
My heart—so very torn!
My tears flow endlessly,
From soul, downcast, forlorn.
Come again; hush my heart!
Oh, Spirit of God, come!
Renew the passion of my soul;
Come again, and make me whole!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
“John 15:4-5- Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
1. Abiding means trusting in Jesus’ love:
“John 15:9- As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
“Not to abide in Jesus’ love would mean that we stop believing that we are loved by Jesus. We look at our circumstances and we conclude that we are not loved by Jesus any more. That’s the opposite of abiding in the love of Jesus. So abiding in his love means continuing to believe, moment by moment, that we are loved.”
2. Abiding means trusting in Jesus’ word:
“John 8:31-32- If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“This cannot mean merely, “Keep my commandments.” Rather it means, “Keep trusting my word. Keep trusting what I have revealed to you about myself and my Father and my work.”
The context of John 18:31-32 confirms this: “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free’”
Is the observer of all things.
Iniquity cannot hide from His sight,
My darkest corners are brought into light.
With my sin, it is the Lord that I scorn,
His Word I despise and disobey.
Transgression is on my very breath,
Why must I believe in this certain Death?
In the secret and quiet places I sin,
But with boldness affront the Will of the Lord.
Praise be to Jesus Christ, I shall win!
For it is "the Lord who has also put away my sin."
"I shall not die."
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Give me a passion
To see your glory
A heart that worships you alone
Cleanse me forgive me
For my self-seeking
That I might see to make you known
I want to serve You
I want to please You
My one desire is to
See the name of Jesus
Lifted high above all things
And the knowledge of your glory
Fill the earth
To see the name of Jesus
Lifted high above all things
And a fragrant offering
Ascending to the king in every place
Your heart your passion
To give all nations
Gladness and joy in Jesus Christ
Rivers of blessing
Mercy and kindness
Purchased by your great sacrifice
So we join our voices
To sing your praises
Our one desire is to….
The other day I was listening to the song above and I found my self crying out to God as I realized how often I fail to lift my savior “high above all things” when it comes to evangelizing and living out my convictions. If that is a struggle for me how then can I lift God “high above all things”? Undeservingly Gods grace is always there and I can repent for my fear of man and lack of fear in God. What a beautiful and glorious Savior I serve to do that for me!
“Titus 2:11-12- For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Father I pray that you would reign in my heart and let my soul be satisfied in you alone and nothing in this world. I want to serve you, I want to please you, my one desire it to see Your Holy name lifted “high above all things.”
Monday, September 17, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
MoveOn.org, and the new standards of Democratic debate.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:01 a.m.
Important as was yesterday's appearance before Congress by General David Petraeus, the events leading up to his testimony may have been more significant. Members of the Democratic leadership and their supporters have now normalized the practice of accusing their opponents of lying. If other members of the Democratic Party don't move quickly to repudiate this turn, the ability of the U.S. political system to function will be impaired in a way no one would wish for.
Well, with one exception. MoveOn.org, the Democratic activist group, bought space in the New York Times yesterday to accuse General Petraeus of "cooking the books for the White House." The ad transmutes the general's name into "General Betray Us."
"Betrayal," as every military officer knows, is a word that through the history of their profession bears the stain of acts that are both dishonorable and unforgivable. That is to say, MoveOn.org didn't stumble upon this word; it was chosen with specific intent, to convey the most serious accusation possible against General Petraeus, that his word is false, that he is a liar and that he is willing to betray his country. The next and obvious word to which this equation with betrayal leads is treason. That it is merely insinuated makes it worse.
MoveOn.org calls itself a "progressive" political group, but it is in fact drawn from the hard left of American politics and a pedigree that sees politics as not so much an ongoing struggle but a final competition. Their Web-based group is new to the political scene, but its politics are not so new. More surprising and troubling are the formerly liberal institutions and politicians who now share this political ethos.
In an editorial on Sunday, the New York Times, after saying that President Bush "isn't looking for the truth, only for ways to confound the public," asserted that "General Petraeus has his own credibility problems." We read this as an elision from George Bush, the oft-accused liar on WMD and all the rest, to David Petraeus, also a liar merely for serving in the chain of command. With this editorial, the Times establishes that the party line is no longer just "Bush lied," but anyone who says anything good about Iraq or our effort there is also lying. As such, the Times enables and ratifies MoveOn.org's rhetoric as common usage for Democrats.
Late last week, for instance, we heard it said of General Petraeus that, "He's made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual." This was from Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate.
The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos, said Thursday that General Petraeus would not be the author of his report; it would be written "by Administration political operatives." He opened yesterday's hearing, moments before General Petraeus was to speak, by saying, "We cannot take anything this Administration says on Iraq at face value."
So far, only two Democrats that we are aware of have repudiated this political turn. Joe Lieberman, already ostracized from the party for dissent, called the MoveOn ad an "act of slander that every member of the Congress--Democrat and Republican--has a solemn responsibility to condemn." And Joe Biden, after the MoveOn ad was read to him on "Meet the Press" Sunday, replied: "I don't buy into that. This is an honorable guy. He's telling the truth."
These are the exceptions. Another of the party's activist groups, Democracy for America, released a statement about the time General Petraeus began to speak: "It is offensive that our commander-in-chief has ordered a four-star general to mislead Congress."
As General Petraeus finished his statement yesterday, Senator Chris Dodd's Presidential campaign spammed an email about "the accuracy" of the report: "The fact that there are questions about General Petraeus's report is not surprising given that it was brought to you by this White House." Thus in Mr. Dodd's view, General Petraeus, returned from the Iraq battlefield, is a complicit ventriloquist's dummy.
Can this really be the new standard of political rhetoric across the Democratic Party? There was a time when the party's institutional elites, such as the Times, would have pulled it back from reducing politics to all or nothing. They would have blown the whistle on such accusations. Now they are leading the charge.
Under these new terms, public policy is no longer subject to debate, discussion and disagreement over competing views and interpretations. Instead, the opposition is reduced to the status of liar. Now the opposition is not merely wrong, but lacks legitimacy and political standing. The goal here is not to debate, but to destroy.Today General Petraeus testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Its Democratic Members include Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Jim Webb. This would be the appropriate setting to apologize to General Petraeus for the MoveOn.org ad. Or let it stand.
(HT: Denny Burk; and Jenn for telling me about his great blog)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I cannot really remember when I did not love to read books. I do know that I was very eager to learn to read, and that I quickly found myself immersed in the world of books and literature. It may have been a seduction of sorts, and the Christian disciple must always be on guard to guide the eyes to books worthy of a disciple's attention -- and there are so many.
As Solomon warned, "Of making many books there is no end" [Ecclesiastes: 12:12]. There is no way to read everything, and not everything deserves to be read. I say that in order to confront the notion that anyone, anywhere, can master all that could be read with profit. I read a great deal, and a large portion of my waking hours are devoted to reading. Devotional reading for spiritual profit is an important part of the day, and that begins with the reading of Scripture. In terms of timing, I am somewhat unorthodox. My best time for spending time in the Word is late at night, when all is calm and quiet and I am mentally alert and awake. That is not the case when I first get up in the mornings, when I struggle to find each word on the page (or anything else, for that matter).
In the course of any given week, I will read several books. I know how much I thrive on this learning and the intellectual stimulation I get from reading. As my wife and family would be first to tell you, I can read almost anytime, anywhere, under almost any kind of conditions. I have a book with me virtually all the time, and have been known to snatch a few moments for reading at stop lights. No, I do not read while driving (though I must admit that it has been a temptation at times). I took books to high school athletic events when I played in the band. [Heap coals of scorn and nerdliness here.] I remember the books -- do you remember the games?
A few initial suggestions:
1. Maintain regular reading projects. I strategize my reading in six main categories: Theology, Biblical Studies, Church Life, History, Cultural Studies, and Literature. I have some project from each of these categories going at all times. I collect and gather books for each project, and read them over a determined period of time. This helps to discipline my reading, and also keeps me working across several disciplines.
2. Work through major sections of Scripture. I am just completing an expository series, preaching verse by verse through the book of Romans. I have preached and taught several books of the Bible in recent years, and I plan my reading to stay ahead. I am turning next to Matthew, so I am gathering and reading ahead -- not yet planning specific messages, but reading to gain as much as possible from worthy works on the first gospel. I am constantly reading works in biblical theology as well as exegetical studies.
3. Read all the titles written by some authors. Choose carefully here, but identify some authors whose books demand your attention. Read all they have written and watch their minds at work and their thought in development. No author can complete his thoughts in one book, no matter how large.
4. Get some big sets and read them through. Yes, invest in the works of Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and others. Set a project for yourself to read through the entire set, and give yourself time. You will be surprised how far you will get in less time than you think.
5. Allow yourself some fun reading, and learn how to enjoy reading by reading enjoyable books. I like books across the fields of literature, but I really love to read historical biographies and historical works in general. In addition, I really enjoy quality fiction and worthy works of literature. As a boy, I probably discovered my love for reading in these categories of books. I allow some time each day, when possible, to such reading. It doesn't have to be much. Stay in touch with the thrill.
6. Write in your books; mark them up and make them yours. Books are to be read and used, not collected and coddled. [Make an exception here for those rare antiquarian books that are treasured for their antiquity. Mark not thy pen on the ancient page, and highlight not upon the manuscript.] Invent your own system or borrow from another, but learn to have a conversation with the book, pen in hand.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Psalm 25:2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Luke 12:4 I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
Hebrews 13:6 So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?"
"It has been said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength."-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon
~Lord, thank for Your trustworthy and unchanging character. Thank you for the scriptures that speak of Your faithfulness time and time again. Help me to trust in You, in good times and bad, and lean not on my own understanding. May I demonstrate the peace that can only come from You as I walk through this world. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for us and that we no longer have to fear death. "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?-1 Corinthians 15:55" Grant us Your peace, joy and protection, O God. Amen.~
Saturday, September 8, 2007
“Galatians 3:13- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us- for it is written, cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree. The wrath of God that should have caused our eternal suffering fell on Christ. This is the glory of grace, and it could only come by suffering.”
“The Ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering I himself to overcome our suffering. The suffering of the utterly innocent ad infinitely holy son of God in the place of utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God’s grace that ever was, or ever could be.” –John Piper-
“1 Peter 2:24- He himself bore our sin in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
As Piper said there is no greater example of suffering then the suffering that our savior Jesus Christ endured for us on the cross. It is so sobering to me how many times I have found my self discontent with God and how easy it is for me to think I am suffering. But oh the grace God has been so richly poured out on us by sending his son as the scripture says “To hang on the tree.” The sins that should have crushed us under the weight of guilt were transferred to Christ. This is the glory of grace, and it could only come by suffering.
“Isaiah 53:5- But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
Father forgive me for the countless times I have failed to recognize your great mercy and love on the cross that you poured upon such an undeserving sinner like me. Give me grace as your word says “to count is all joy when I meet trials of various kinds. (James 1:2)”
Friday, September 7, 2007
No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God... but while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe... The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ, and Him Crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of a man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity."
Though Charles Spurgeon spoke these words over a century ago, they still hold true to this day. They lead me to question myself: why do I continue to think that I know God already? Why does Knowing God seem boring to me? So often I make conscious decisions to not know God. I tell myself that it is not practical, or I will not be able to understand. Besides what's really the benefit anyways? J.I Packer offers this advice:
"It is the most practical project anyone can engage in. Knowing God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it... Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded."
Every morning that I wake and choose not to read my Bible or devote myself to prayer is also a decision to walk out my day with a spiritual blindfold wrapped around my heart. How dangerous and foolish of me! Knowing God is not only a worthy subject but it is an essential one for the Christian, and no one believed this more strongly than Spurgeon, who wrote some of the most enlightening and encouraging words that I have ever read.
"And, Whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead's deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning."
I believe that Spurgeon's invitation stems not only from himself but from God as well. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink" (John 7:37), "Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls" (Jer 6:16). Gods invitation to know Himself is open to all, the question is whether or not we will accept it and allow Him to lead us into to the riches of intimacy with God.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Oh how often have a failed to find joy in my trials and trust in the God of whom nothing is too hard. In the midst of trials it is often hard for me to believe that God puts trials in my life to draw me closer to Him. But indeed it is so true. Not once in my life have I gone through a trial where the Lord’s sovereign hand wasn’t behind it and haven’t looked back on it and thanked God for placing that difficult time in my life to draw me closer to Him.
“2 Corinthians 4:17-18- For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
The love of God is better then life….
“Your steadfast love is better than life…”(Ps. 63:3). The pleasures in this life are “fleeting” (Heb. 11:25) and the afflictions are “light and momentary” (2 Cor. 4:17) But the steadfast love of the Lord is forever. All his pleasures are superior and there will be no more pain. “In you presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore”(Ps. 16:11)