Friday, October 31, 2008

But God...

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses (sin), made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.
-Ephesians 2:4-5

What made us dead? "Following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind" (Ephesians 2:2-3).

After painting a picture of ourselves, Paul says "But God." It is His mercy that makes us who we are in Christ. I love later when Paul says, "so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God" (Ephesians 2:7-8).

In whatever task you do this weekend rejoice in the fact that God did not leave you dead in your sins. Rejoice that He did not leave you a child of wrath but instead covered you with immeasurable grace.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Challies review on The Prodigal God

Tim Keller has follow up The Reason for God with his book The Prodigal God. Here is Tim Challies review of this book. Here is a glimpse from the review:

"Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners doesn't have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think."

Christ Has Conquered All

This is BCLR's song of the month and I love the words:

Christ Has Conquered All

Heavy laden, weary soul,
Bearing up a heart of stone,
His Spirit comes to dwell in you,
And Christ, the weight of sin assume.
All my guilt is cast on Christ,
And His righteousness is mine.
What guilt should weigh upon my head?
For Christ has cleared it all!

The sum of all my sacrifice,
Though joyful, fails to justify.
I cannot pay for grace that’s free,
Nor add to work that is complete.
Jesus paid it all for me!
This my ransom and my plea.
What debt I labor to repay?
For Christ has paid it all!

Through the law comes sin and death,
But faith is counted righteousness.
So I will trust in Christ alone,
My debt to pay, my sin atone.
And I stand in confidence,
Covered by His righteousness.
What shall become of boasting tongues?
For Christ has done it all!

Where O death is now thy sting?
Swallowed up in victory!
The Lord of glory reigns on high,
Sov’reign over earth and sky!
Yes, He triumphed o’er the grave,
And He comes again one day.
What lesser name shall draw our praise?
For Christ has conquered all!
-Kristie Braselton

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Call to Discernment

What I would like to start doing for my Wednesday posts is go through some books I have read and give you a brief summary of each chapter. The first book I will try this on is Tim Challies book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. I hope these summaries we your appetite to go out and read these books.

Tim does a great job in his book to summarize the key thoughts of each chapter.

Chapter 1 - A Call to Discernment

"By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you."
-2 Timothy 1:14

The Bible teaches there is a clear relationship between spiritual discernment and spiritual maturity. For a Christian to be mature, he must also be discerning. Those who are not discerning must be immature, backsliding, or dead. Conversely, those who exhibit discernment must be alive, growing, and mature. It is clear from Scripture that all Christians are expected to pursue discernment, for the Bible cries out repeatedly for us to do so. It is the responsibility of each Christian to heed and to answer the call and so to guard the deposit God has entrusted to us.
-Tim Challies
Also I may start posting other articles throughout the day if you all are interested in checking back.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My In-Laws

Today I just want to celebrate 25 years of marriage for my in-laws. I have not been around them for all 25 years, trust me my father-in-law is happy about that, but from what I've seen their marriage has definitely reflected Ephesians 5:22-33. I love my in-laws very much. Praise God for His grace in 25 years of marriage and hopefully many more. "And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16). Happy Anniversary!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Comfort in the battle

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
Ephesians 6:1

"We have got to realize as we fight this fight of faith and wrestle with these principalities and powers and face the assaults of the world and the flesh and the devil, that God is involved in it with us. We would never have been in it but for that. The ultimate battle is the battle between God and the devil, between heaven and hell, between light and darkness. That in turn should make us realize a further truth, that this campaign cannot fail, because God's honour is involved in it.

Lift up your minds and your hearts in the thick of the battle and call this to mind. You see the might and the power of the enemy and you are conscious of your own weakness. But say to youselves, 'This is God's battle, we are given the privilege of being in it and of fighting as individual soldiers, but God's honour is involved at every point.' 'Be strong in the Lord'; remember that He is there, and that it is His battle. This cannot be emphasized too much."
-Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God's love

The measure of God's love for us is shown by two things:
  • The degree of His sacrifice in saving us from the penalty of our sin.
  • The degree of unworthiness that we had when He saved us.

We need to understand the magnitude of our unworthiness and sin in order to understand how great a sacrifice was paid. If we have no understanding of God's holiness and our wickedness then the Bible is just a bunch of words with no meaning. We must read the Word praying that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth to us. We must understand what Christ has done on the cross. He willing laid down His life for those that hated Him (Romans 1:30). He defeated death on the third day so He could raise us to newness of life. Without the gospel we remain dead in our sin. John Piper says,

"Divine love is in the end: a passion to enthrall undeserving sinners, at great cost, with what will make us supremely happy forever, namely, His infinite beauty."

Thoughts taken from John Piper's book Fifty Reason Why Jesus had to Die

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Newton's focus on grace

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death!
-Romans 7:24

John Newton said, “By our repeated slips and falls into sin, we gain a more emphatic conviction of our own vileness and depravity; and we experimentally learn and feel our own weakness.” Later in this same letter Newton says, “This wretched state of sin and temptation, makes the thoughts of death and eternity desirable. Then this conflict shall cease! Then I shall sin and wander no more, shall see Him as He is, and be like Him forever!” I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine about John Newton as I reading Newton’s letter this morning. My friend made the statement “John Newton seems to focus too much on his sin.” To that statement there is only one such rebuttal needed: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see. T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me. He word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.” Unless we focus on our sin in light of God’s holiness we will never understand grace the way John Newton did.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Unchanging Truth

We can either listen to ourselves and our constantly changing feelings about our circumstances, or we can talk to ourselves about the unchanging truth of who God is and what He’s accomplished for us at the cross.
-C.J. Mahaney

Monday, October 20, 2008

Looking at the wrong person

We Christians tend to compare ourselves constantly to others when dealing with sin. We tend to think all is well because we are not like another man who we see as worse off. Jerry Bridges, in his book Respectable Sins, says, "What about our conservative, evangelical churches? Has the idea of sin all but disappeared from us also? No, it has not disappeared, but it has, in many instances, been deflected to those outside our circles who commit flagrant sins such as abortion, homosexuality, and murder, or the notorious white-collar crimes of high-level corporate executives. It’s easy for us to condemn those obvious sins while virtually ignoring our own sins of gossip, pride envy, bitterness, and lust, or even our lack of those gracious qualities that Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit." The standard is not others who sin or who we think sin more often, the standard is Christ. When we compare ourselves to Christ's holiness our only response will be "Woe is me! I am undone."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Killing Sin

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
Romans 8:12-13

If you have time please go read or listen to this series by John Piper. It will greatly enrich your Christian walk or maybe I should say battle.

How to Kill Sin
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Be Content

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with such things as you have, because God has said--Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5

These words are very simple. A little child might easily understand them. They contain no high doctrine; they involve no deep metaphysical question; and yet, as simple as they are--the duty which these words enjoin on us, is of highest practical importance to all Christians.
Contentment is one of the rarest graces. Like all precious things--it is most uncommon. To practice contentment, is very hard. To talk of contentment in the day of health and prosperity is easy enough; but to be content in the midst of poverty, sickness, trouble, disappointments, and losses--is a state of mind to which very few can attain!
The fallen angels had heaven itself to dwell in, and the immediate presence and favor of God--but they were not content. Adam and Eve had the garden of Eden to live in, with a free grant of everything in it excepting one tree--but they were not content. Ahab had his throne and kingdom, but so long as Naboth's vineyard was not his--he was not content. Haman was the chief favorite of the Persian king--but so long as Mordecai sat at the gate--he was not content.
It is just the same everywhere in the present day. Murmuring, dissatisfaction, discontent with what we have, meet us at every turn. To say, with Jacob, "I have enough," seems flatly contrary to the grain of human nature. To say, "I want more," seems the mother tongue of every child of Adam.
Paul's direction ought to come with power to all our consciences: "Be content with such things as you have," not with such things as you once used to have--not with such things as you hope to have--but with such things as you now have. With such things, whatever they may be--we are to be content. With such a dwelling, such a family, such health, such income, such work, such circumstances as we now have--we are to be content.
Ah! reader, if you would be truly happy--seek it where alone it can be found. Seek it not in money, seek it not in pleasure, nor in friends, nor in learning. Seek it in having a will in perfect harmony with the will of God. Seek it in studying to be content.
You may say, that is fine talking--but how can we be always content in such a world? I answer, that you need to cast away your pride, and know your deserts, in order to be thankful in any condition. If men really knew that they deserve nothing, and are debtors to God's mercy every day--they would soon cease to complain.
Let me tell you why there is so little contentment in the world. The simple answer is, because there is so little grace, and true godliness. Few know their own sin; few feel their desert; and so few are content with such things as they have. Humility, self-knowledge, a clear sight of our own utter vileness and corruption; these are the true roots of contentment.
Let me tell you--what you should do, if you would be content. You must know your own heart, seek God for your portion, take Christ for your Savior, and use God's Word for your daily food. Contentment must be learned at the feet of Jesus Christ. He who has God for his friend, and heaven for his home--can wait for his good things, and be content with little here below.
-J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Evangelism

Many times in my evangelism I forget who does the work. I forget my job is to be faithful to God by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. My job is not to change the heart. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can accomplish that task. “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). It is prideful to think it is my responsibility to do the work only Christ can accomplish. Throw the seed, get on your knees and let God do His work. Be faithful with your seed throwing and prayer and God will accomplish His sovereign plan in His time. As I reflect, it is amazing how much sin is involved with my evangelism. Dead men cannot walk. Hearts of stone cannot beat. Only God can raise the dead and remove a stony heart. God, make us faithful to do what you have commanded us to do and may we not sin by trying to do Your work. Draw people to Yourself for Your glory and honor. May I remember how you gave the “chief of sinners” life. It is sinful to think You cannot change a persons heart.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Story

A little reminder to spread the good news of Jesus Christ:

Story
I'm sick and tired of blending in
and never telling anyone how You set this sinner free
You found me living without hope
and then You drew me to yourself
and Your mercy made me clean

I will tell Your story
for the world to hear of Your great love
and how it rescued me

You came into the world You made,
and then died upon a tree to bring us back to You
You're like fire in my bones and like fire in my soul
and I can't hold You in anymore

What if nobody told me?
Where would I be without You now?
-Mainstay

Friday, October 10, 2008

Perfect Righteousness

Have you ever read one sentence and thought that is right on the money. Well Martyn Lloyd-Jones did just that: "My only hope is that I shall be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ." Anything added to His righteousness is but filthy rags. Ask to be clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ which is given through the cross.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The great Ophthalmologist

Last night at bible study we learn about Christ being the great Ophthalmologist. In his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Donald Whitney teaches Christians that clear vision comes for knowledge and discernment of the Scriptures. According to Philippians 1:9 love will abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment. Knowledge for knowledge sake is idolatry. We must have knowledge with love. We must have discernment with love. Then love will abound more and more in our outpouring into others. The gospel will become a natural fountain from how we live our lives. This requires 20/20 vision that only Christ can give. We must be spiritual beggars asking for that perfect vision. As Trip Lee puts it:

"I'm hoping we prepared, we bout a take a trip
I'll point you to the living water homie take a sip
Go to the pool of Siloam go on and take a dip
Come back with vision that's given by Him, who makes a switch
Though it would it cost Him, His enemies would cross Him
He called, and was dropping that knowledge like books falling
From Dallas to New Orleans, Philly to every city
Our vision is looking blurred we gotta see 20/20
Got ears but don't hear, eyes but don't see
Our God we don't fear, these rhymes are so we
Can peak off into the mind of God, He's holy
Our lives are so weak, but God is so He
Yeah He's perfect and flawless, He stands as the standard
His stance is grand, understand that He stands up
Always upright, we got a chance since the ransom
He paid at the cross, now let's find us some answers
What kind of God, would take some dudes and hand em
Eternal life for free, through the grace that He grants them?
By faith, we been changed, used to roll as His foes
But He rose and He chose, now we clothed in His clothes
It's kinda crazy, we all had ambitions of getting dough
He changed our character like an actor who's switching roles
This is to testify bout the God that we living for"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Have you tasted?

Can you picture your favorite meal or dessert right there in front of you? You are ready to just dig in and eat. It is easy to imagine how good it would taste. Then, sharing the joy with others, telling them how much you enjoyed the meal or dessert. I know many times I have shared with others how much I enjoy cheesecake. It’s a weakness of mine!! I’m convicted. I have to ask myself why I do not share of God’s goodness when I’ve tasted it. The Psalmist says, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8); “How sweet are Your words to my taste” (Psalm 119:103). The Bible speaks of Christians tasting the Lord’s goodness. Many times I have to examine my heart and wonder why I am not sharing what I’ve tasted. Cheesecake is so easy to share with others but God’s goodness isn’t? Why do I fear man so much? I fear man from a lack of humility. We taste humility our entire life at the foot of the cross. We cannot get beyond the cross. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-4). Have you tasted His goodness? If you have tasted, “love your salvation saying continually ‘Great is the LORD!’”(Psalm 40:16). If you have not tasted, go to the Bible. Read the book of John and pray that the Spirit would give you a broken heart and humility at the cross.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life: Lecrae Interview

It's always a joy to hear of Jesus rescuing a lost soul and bringing true joy to that persons life.

Check out Lecrae's new disc Rebel.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What has happened to faithfulness?

On Friday, October 3, CJ Mahaney posted on his blog The Idol of Relevance. Relevance has become the latest and greatest tool in the Christian market. We get massively tied into what the culture has to say about church that we can lose the gospel. Much of the post is quotations and points from Os Guinness book Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. Os states "Never have Christians pursued relevance more strenously; never have Christians been more irrelevant." He goes on to explain "By our uncritical pursuit of relevance we have actually courted irrelevance; by our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant."

Friday, October 3, 2008

The heavens declare

I could not help but be reminded of Psalm 19:1 driving into work this morning: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork."





Thursday, October 2, 2008

God's promises are Yes and Amen

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Ephesians 4:7

Wilberforce said, "This is the Christian love of God! A love compounded of admiration, of preference, of hope, of trust, of joy; chastised by reverential awe, and wakeful with continual gratitude." I must confess trust is a tough one. Many times over I read the promises God has for me and doubt. He promises to "never leave me or forsake me", "All things work together for good for those who are His children", "My grace is sufficient" yet I doubt. Clinging to God's promises without doubt is trust. We have to fight against our flesh and see God's promises as yes and Amen!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

True or false

Scripture does not give believers permission to expose themselves to evil. Some people believe the only way to defend against false doctrine is to study it, become proficient in it, and master all its nuances - then refute it. I know some people who study the cults more than they study sound doctrine. Some Christians immerse themselves in the philosophy, entertainment, and culture of society. They feel such a strategy will strengthen their witness to unbelievers...But the emphasis of that strategy is all wrong. Our focus should be on knowing the truth. Error is to be shunned.
-John MacArthur (Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses its Will to Discern)

This quotation was pulled from Tim Challies books The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment which I just finished this morning and would recommend to you all. We, as Christians, lack in this area.