Friday, May 29, 2009

"Of First Importance"


“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received.” (1 Corinthians 15:3)

I write this post as a great sinner who is not as evangelistic as I want or ought to be but my desire is to challenge myself. Hopefully in challenging myself I can challenge other Christians to heed Paul’s words to the church of Corinth.

In your normal day what are you prone to speak to others about? The NBA playoffs? American idol? The latest fashion? What the stock market is doing? We all speak about what we love the most. Sadly for me “of first importance” is often something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ. But Paul says the gospel is “of first importance.”

Deliver is verb which requires us to take action. Dictionary.com says, “To give forth in words; utter or pronounce.” Paul is saying we must speak the truth. This is not the first time Paul has told us of the gospel because earlier in the chapter Paul says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you” (1). The gospel is not something to share once and then set it on a shelf but rather we are to proclaim it to all often. Unbelievers need to hear the gospel because the gospel brings about repentance.

Christians also need to hear the gospel daily because the gospel is that “which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved” (1-2). When the message is clearly delivered it can be received. Christians are God’s messenger sent to deliver the good news. We must deliver the gospel so those who have not repented of sins will treasure Jesus Christ. Once received, the gospel is what every Christian stands on. The gospel is the foundation we must stand on so we will not be destroyed by the evil one. When we heed Christ’s words we “will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24) and the Rock is Jesus Christ. The gospel is also that “by which we are being saved.” Salvation comes through receiving the gospel by faith. God works in our hearts so our affections are changed toward him. Christians are justified at conversion and then the life-long process of sanctification (growing in grace) begins, this is why Paul says we are being saved.

So what is this message that is “of first importance?”

“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

Christian, be strengthened constantly by the amazing price paid at Calvary. Praise God for making you alive to receive the gospel. Praise God for the foundation on which you stand. Praise God he is graciously continuing his work of grace each day of your life. But don’t be selfish, go deliver this good news to a dying world and make it “of first importance.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, May 28, 2009

General Entertainment

I would like to follow up my post from yesterday on entertainment with another thought. Here is a link to another post on entertainment by my friend Mariah.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9-10).

At the end of yesterday’s post John Piper challenged us to think about our death and think about it often. The apostle John speaks of these same thoughts saying, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink form him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28). John warns us to be ready for the coming of the Lord. John Piper reminds us that life here on earth is short and we need to be ready for the day we die. But as I pondered the post from yesterday I kept thinking to myself about Piper’s last suggestion and thought we need to ponder another death as well, the death of Jesus.

Yes, it is true only those who have been transformed by the Spirit will do battle against sin. We must first acknowledge that not all entertainment is sinful. John Piper was speaking to a question about the addiction of entertainment but I am more referring to entertainment in general. The question is “Why do we watch, listen to or read the things we do?” The bible tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Christians should strive towards holiness. Will we be perfect? No, but we strive to be like Christ. We don’t run toward the world’s standards but rather run to God’s standards in his word. We find sinful entertainment to be amusing, not harmful, because we love sin so much. We want to consider ourselves good people but our standards are so low. Make your standard Jesus Christ. Strive to know his will in his word. Guard your heart from the very sins that nailed our Savior, Jesus Christ, to the cross.

Why would any Christian not care about sin? If you do not care to fight against the sin in your life or fight against the sin this world is offering I would seriously challenge you to examine your heart. If you think it does not matter please take Dr. Piper’s suggestion and consider your death. We are here for a brief moment then we must give an account before the Judge.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Are you addicted to Entertainment?

Here is a great question about being addicted to entertainment. Many times I have pondered if this is an issue in my own life. Being a huge sports fan I know how quickly 3 or 4 hours can be gone for one baseball or football game. This is a danger and we must recognize this addiction. John Piper answers the question "How do you break free from that kind of addiction?"

1. Recognizing it is a huge step in the right direction.
2. Seek the Lord earnestly about it. Pray like crazy that God would open your eyes to see wondrous things out of his law.
3. Immerse yourself in the Bible, even when you don't feel like it, pleading with God to open your eyes to see what's really there.
4. Get in a group where you talk about serious things.
5. Begin to share your faith. One of the reasons we are not as moved by our own faith as we are is because we almost never talk about it to any unbeliever. It starts to feel like a kind of hothouse thing, and then it starts to have a feeling of unreality about it. And then the powers of entertainment have more sway in our life.

"And so those would be some of the things, but ultimately it's a gift of grace to feel the glory of God.

One last suggestion: think about your death. Think about your death a lot. Ask what you'd like to be doing in the season of life, or hours or days, leading up to meeting Christ. I do that a lot these days. I think about the impact of death, and what I would like to be found doing, and how I would prepare to meet him and give an account to him."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why loving your fellow man is crucial to Christianity

"If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20)

"What a solemn thought, that our love to God will be measured by our everyday intercourse with men and the love it displays; and that our love to God will be found to be a delusion, except as its truth is proved in standing the test of daily life with our fellow-men. It is even so with our humility. It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God: but humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real; that humility has taken up its abode in us, and become our very nature; that we actually, like Christ, have made ourselves of no reputation. When in the presence of God lowliness of heart has become, not a posture we assume for a time, when we think of him, or pray to him, but the very spirit of our life, it will manifest itself in all our bearing towards our brethern.

The lesson is one of deep import: the only humility that is really ours is not that which we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct. The insignificances of daily life are the importances and the tests of eternity, because they prove what really is the spirit that possesses us. It is in our most unguarded moments that we really show and see what we are. To know the humble man, to know how the humble man behaves, you must follow him in the common course of daily life." (Andrew Murray, Humility)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, May 25, 2009

Christianity

Hope everyone enjoys Memorial Day. Praise God for the troops, past and present, who have fought to defend our freedom. May we continue to pray for those who are serving our country right now.

Here is just a short quotation for the day:

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen:not only because I see it, but because by it I see everythingelse." (C.S. Lewis)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, May 22, 2009

Eternal Destruction


“They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

Here is a clear warning in Scripture to those who do not repent. Rarely do we talk about what it is we need to be saved from. Why is a Savior important? The reason is those who cannot save themselves need a Savior to rescue them from eternal destruction. Sinners need to be made clean by the righteousness of another. Humans’ righteousness is but “filthy rags” in the eyes of a holy God. Those who do not trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.”

I write about this text because of the authority of God’s holy word. These words are clear: “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.” Who? “Those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thes. 1:8). God is going to judge the world. We will all come face to face with God and he has promised that all men will bow the knee to Jesus and confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of the Father (Phil. 2:10-11). There is no escaping the truth. Those who are not transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.”

What is eternal destruction? Eternal destruction is not an eternity with a guy in a red suit with horns carrying a pitchfork. The seriousness of eternal destruction has been minimized by our society because of cartoons. Here Paul says eternal destruction is being “away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thes. 1:9b). This sounds foolish to those who do not know God but being away from his presence means absolute darkness and evil. God is light. God is good. Apart from God these two things do not exist. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.”

To those who know God and are striving by the Spirit to be more and more like Jesus Christ Paul writes: “When he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:10-12). The Lord Jesus will be marveled at by those who have believed. We will be with our Savior for whom we have surrender all in this short life here on earth always looking forward to an eternity at his feet. For those whom he has called he will hold until the day of glorification. He will make us worthy of his calling so that Jesus may be glorified in us and we in him according to the grace he alone supplies.

Christian, be encouraged of the Spirit’s calling on your life that he will make you persevere until the day of glorification. But to those who do not know God, be warned, “they will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Worship begets worship

I read this post on worship the other day on New Reformation Ministries blog and found it very profound so I thought I'd share it with you all:

"When we talk about worship, we are talking about something we give to God. It is an all-consuming, selfless desire to give God our lives, our praise, our possessions, our attitudes, our all.

Think of the magi who came to worship the Christ-Child. These oriental king makers picture for us the true essence of worship. They came into the presence of the holy Child, fell down before Him, and gave Him gifts. Costly, valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gifts befitting a king.

These Christ-worshippers demonstrated their adoration by giving Him gifts. No worshipper can come empty-handed into His presence. Worship is all about giving—not getting. It’s all about giving Him praise, giving Him glory, giving Him our gifts, giving Him our lives (Romans 12:1).
Only in giving do we receive. Only as we give glory to Christ do we receive back from Him the grace and blessing we need to live for Him.

Adoration and a worshipful heart always lead to deeper repentance and create a selfless desire to give to God. In other words, worship begets worship." (Steven Lawson, Heaven Help Us!)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Submit to God, respect the government

Today I want to look at three questions addressed in Scripture: governments responsibility, Christians responsibility to government and how we submit to the government. The issue we will be looking at in this case is abortion as I spoke about yesterday.

1. Governments responsibility?
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. " (Romans 13:1-5).

2. Christians responsibility?
"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor" (1 Peter 2:13-17).

3. How do we submit to the government?
Yesterday we concluded from Scripture that abortion is sinful. God knits in the womb and abortion kills that which is in the womb therefore destroying God's creation. The government has deemed legal the killing of that which God has created. So how do Christians submit to government while speaking up against issues that are against God's word? Lets look at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the book of Daniel.

"And the herald proclaimed aloud, 'You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.' Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up" (Daniel 3:4-7).

King Nebuchadnezzar passed a law requiring all peoples to bow and worship the golden image the king had set up. While an issue like abortion is not forced on everyone it is a law that was passed by our government that Christians must not submit to or agree with. But how do we respond with respect to the government?

Once Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are brought forth before the king because they did not bow the king is furious with them (3:13) and demands they be thrown into the fiery furnace. Here is the response of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that we, as Christians, should learn from: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up'” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Nebuchadnezzar was appointed king according to God's will but was not a God-fearing man. There was no mistake when he was appointed king but we see here in Scripture the pride of an unrepentant heart. The king passed a law that was against the commands of God. As Christians we are supernaturally changed by the Spirit's regenerating work in our heart therefore our love for the world changes to a love of Jesus Christ and his most holy word. His commands become our joy and passion. This isn't religion but a life change. We see here the respect of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego addressing king Nebuchadnezzar as king but also not submitting to a law against the will of God. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were God-fearing men being respectful to a God appointed king but not breaking the command of the King of kings. We must respond with respect but we cannot budge on the truth of God's word.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Christian, please know the Word

I really want to touch an issue strictly using God's holy word. The issue is fresh in my mind with having a baby last week and seeing DGdwyl addressing the same issue with a great video using clips from a message by Dr. John Piper.

What's the issue?

Abortion

Two questions:
Is abortion okay?
Should Christians speak up against abortion?

1. Is abortion okay?
The great debate begins with the question: when is a baby created? Hear is what the God's word says in Psalm 139: "For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb...My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth" (13,15). In Genesis the Bible says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (1:27).

A baby's life begins at conception when God begins his knitting inside the womb of a mother. The Scripture is clear in answering this question. Science may claim they do not know and the government may claim after a certain point in a pregnancy but God's word is clear.

2. Should Christians speak up against abortion?
Since God has told us in his Word that it is he who creates humans and does so while in the womb we must speak up for what is right. Science can call it what they would like but the reality is a baby (human being) is alive once conceived.

Tomorrow I want to address governments responsibility, Christians responsibility and our submission to the government as Christians.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, May 18, 2009

Humility of Jesus

"Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant; and humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death. Wherefore God also highly exalted him." (Phil. 2:5-7)

This is a most crucial text in Scripture. The importance of seeing the humility of our Savior Jesus Christ. Here is our example. Here is the life we are to live by the grace God supplies. Pride lies at the root of every sin we commit. Pride is who we are apart from God's grace. We want to be God not submit to him. Naturally we are full of self but God wants us to empty ourselves and be filled with him. Look at the our example Jesus. He did not equality with God a thing to be grasp but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. We cannot serve unless we empty ourselves to be filled with Jesus. Andrew Murray says:

"If humility be the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus - if humility be the secret of his atonement - then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend upon our putting this grace first too, and making humility the chief thing we admire in him, the chief thing we ask of him, the one thing for which we sacrifice all else.

Is it any wonder that the Christian life is so often feeble and fruitless, when the very root of the Christ life is neglected, is unknown? Is it any wonder that the joy of salvation is so little felt, when that in which Christ found it and brings it, is so little sought? Until a humility which will rest in nothing less than the end and death of self; which gives up all the honor of men as Jesus did, to seek the honor that comes from God alone; which absolutely makes and counts itself nothing, that God may be all, that the Lord alone may be exalted - until such a humility be what we seek in Christ above our chief joy, and welcome at any price, there is very little hope of a religion that will conquer the world." (Andrew Murray, Humility)

Have you taken the time to study the humility of Jesus?

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, May 15, 2009

Present you blameless


“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).

The book of Jude is a short book but addresses great issues for Christians. Jude addresses Christians with great warning against false teachers and great hope of perseverance. Jude tells Christians to contend for the faith against those who are “waterless clouds; swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead uprooted” (12). This is a warning about false teachers who speak but say nothing because they are dead in their sins. Christians are to contend against these teachers in the strength Christ supplies.

Jude then tells Christians to not be one of these false teachers but to “build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God” (20-21). This is the reminder that those who are children of the Father will endure until the very end. Jude writes in a manner where it seems we are the ones who have the responsibility to persevere until the end but the ultimate comfort comes in Jude’s doxology. Yes, we do have a responsibility but the responsibility is to rely on the One “who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”

“Keep you from stumbling” is a great encouragement to sinners who stumble daily. Jesus says, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me” (John 17:12). Once you surrender all to Jesus, He promises to keep you in the name of the Father because you are one of His Children. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).

“Present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.” The thought of sinners being presented blameless before a perfect and holy God should make his children praise his holy name. How are we presented blameless? The Scriptures says, “He [Jesus] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him [God the Father]” (Col. 1:22). Jesus was our substitute. Jesus took the wrath we deserve when he died at Calvary. He, who knew no sin, became sin so we might be presented blameless “before the presence of his glory with great joy.” Beloved, we are presented blameless in the presence of a holy God with joy because of the death of Jesus Christ. Grace upon grace flows down from the Father above who crushed his Son so his children would be presented blameless.

“Now to him who is able…the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (25).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, May 14, 2009

All I Have is Christ

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the graveI had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You (Sovereign Grace Music, Jordan Kauflin)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dispensers of Grace

"Each Christian is a dispenser. God has supplied each one with gifts. He has selected (He does not offer an array of options), with the good of all in mind. When we imagine that these gifts are for our own mere satisfaction, we are forgetting they are intended for service. All that I have is meant to contribute to the needs of others, and what I need will be supplied through God's dispensers. Thus He unifies and harmonizes the whole Church, which is His body, making each dispenser indispensable, for each dispenses a grace that is peculiarly His.

'Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you, as faithful dispensers of the wonderfully varied grace of God' (1 Peter 4:10)." (Elisabeth Elliot, A Lamp unto my Feet)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vanity, all is vanity

"Behold, all is vanity!" Ecclesiastes 1:14

"Nothing can fully satisfy a person--but the Lord's love and the Lord's own self. Christians have tried other pursuits--but they have been driven out of such fatal refuges.

Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all; and to do for us--what we must not dare to do for ourselves. Here is his testimony in his own words, 'So I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired. I refused my heart no pleasure. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind! Nothing was gained under the sun!' 'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!'

What! Is the whole of it meaningless? O favored monarch--is there nothing in all your wealth? Nothing in that wide dominion reaching from the river even to the sea? Nothing in your glorious palaces? Is there nothing--in all your music and dancing, and wine and luxury? 'Nothing!' he says, 'but a chasing after the wind!' This was his final verdict--after he had trodden the whole round of pleasure.

To embrace our Lord Jesus, to dwell in His love, and be fully assured of union with Him--this is all in all. Dear reader, you need not try other forms of pleasure in order to see whether they are better than Christ. If you roam the whole world--you will see no sights like a sight of the Savior's face! If you could have all the comforts of life--without the Savior, you would be most wretched. But if you possess Christ--though you should you rot in a dungeon--you would find it a paradise! Though you should you live in obscurity, or die with famine--yet you would be satisfied with the favor and goodness of the Lord!" (Charles Spurgeon)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, May 11, 2009

Born Again

This morning I am sitting in a hospital waiting in anticipation of our first child, Emma Lawson. God has been so good to us to give us this special day. He has created life and given us the wonder gift of grace. The Scripture speak plainly of children being a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3)and we firmly say "Amen" in anticipation. But what I am most reminded of in the birth of a child are the words of Jesus when he speaks of being born again. We, children of wrath, are given new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit turns our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh and gives us affections for our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are given life, true life.

John Piper says, "What happens in the new birth is not the improvement of your old human nature but the creation of a new human nature - a nature that is really you, forgiven and cleansed; and a nature that is really new, being formed in you by the indwelling Spirit of God" (Finally Alive, 37).

The new life is given by the Holy Spirit. He gives us a new nature or better yet true life. This birth of Emma is very exciting but it is also humbly to see this great gift God has given to us. We are seeing the miracle of birth but being reminded of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to those who are born again. Praise God for his working in the common grace of life but praise him more for his saving grace that gives eternal life.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, May 8, 2009

Raising the Dead


“Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:43)

Do you get excited to read these words from our Savior, Jesus Christ? Most of us know the story but do we see the huge significance of what occurred with the words, “Lazarus, come out?” These are words of great hope spoken by Jesus. He claimed to be the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) and now backs His claim by raising Lazarus from the dead. “Lazarus, come out.”

The account begins with Jesus hearing the news of Lazarus’ illness. Jesus says, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). The greatest purpose for all God does is for His own glory. He will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8).

Second, Jesus tells His disciples, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him” (John 11:14-15). When Jesus first heard of Lazarus illness the text says “He stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (John 11:6). Why would Jesus delay in going to see Lazarus? The answer is so He may be glorified through it and so the disciples would believe.

Third, we hear Jesus tell Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). Martha had to be wondering why Jesus delayed in coming to be with Lazarus. We see Martha’s faith in Jesus being able to heal her brother while he was still alive but now Lazarus was dead and Martha’s faith is shaken. Jesus then makes the claim that should bring joy to our hearts: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? This is the question we must all ask ourselves: Do you believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life? The claims are there but why believe? Why does Martha respond with “Yes Lord; I believe” (John 11:27)? Is Jesus who He claims to be?

Here is my final point. The claim is laid out by Jesus that He is the resurrection and the life and that no man shall perish who believes in Him but He also backs the claim. Jesus instructs them to remove the stone from the front of the tomb. The people are confused wondering why Jesus would want them to remove the stone due to the foul odor inside. Jesus says, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God” (John 11:40). The stone is moved then Jesus lifts His eyes to the Father in prayer and cries out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The text says “The man who had died came out” (John 11:44).

This is a picture of our spiritual state. We are all born into sin. We are all dead in our trespasses. Unless Jesus is the resurrection and the life we all remain in our dead state but He is as He says. Jesus went to the cross, He took the place of those He came to ransom then on the third day He resurrected conquering sin and death. Through His death, burial and resurrection we can have eternal life if we believe He is who He claims to be. When we are humbled by His holiness, His Spirit cries out with a loud voice: “Dead man, come out.” Then we who were dead in our sins are made alive by His mercy, grace and great love (Eph. 2:4-5). To God alone be the glory.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Good Kick in the Mouth

Have you ever read a book that basically kicked you in the mouth? My wife had recommended I read a book she absolutely loves called Humility written by Andrew Murray. I had many other books I wanted to read before this one would even enter my mind but as I began to see myself more and more in light of who Christ is I realized this book is what I needed to read. So I want to share some thoughts from the book over the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy getting kicked in the mouth.

"Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil.

It is not a something which we bring to God, or he bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way from God to be all. When the creature realizes that this is the true nobility, and consents to be with his will, his mind, and his affections, the form - the vessel - in which the life and glory of God are to work and manifest themselves, he sees that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of his position as creature, and yielding to God his place." (Andrew Murray, Humility)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Kindness of God

"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7)

The kindness of God is such a beautiful virtue to dwell on. The reality is God's kindness leads us to repentance. Our dead lives are awakened to the reality of the holy God of the universe setting his affections and love on us. We looked at this yesterday: "We love because he first loved us." John Piper talks about God's kindness and our regeneration in this manner:

"If you are born again - if you were wakened from spiritual death, and given eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a spiritual sense to taste that Jesus is supremely satisfying, and a heart to thrust him - it is owing to the kindness of God.

God loves to lavish kindness on us. The bigger your conception of God, the more amazing this is. God is the creator of the universe. He holds the galaxies in being. He governs everything that happens in the world, down to the fall of a bird and the number of your hairs (Matt. 10:29-30). He is infinitely strong and wise and holy and just. And amazingly, he is kind. 'When the kindness of God appeared...' (Titus 3:4). And because of this kindness, we were born again. Let your very existence as a Christian tell you every hour of every day: God is kind to you." (Finally Alive, 93).Do you remind yourself of God's kindness in your life? Remember who you are and who God is and be in awe that He is kind to you. God is amazing and worthy of all praise, honor and glory.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Source of True Love

I want to keep this morning's post simple in length but profound in words. Be diligent to go back to these words throughout the day. If you care nothing about these words I would challenge you to ask yourself, "Why?" These words are of great encouragement to those who are in Christ Jesus:

"We love because he [Jesus] first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, May 4, 2009

Here is Love

Here is love wide as the ocean
Loving kindness as a flood
When the Prince of Life, our ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heaven’s eternal days

On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

Oh how marvelous, oh how glorious
Is my Savior’s love for me!
Oh how marvelous, oh how glorious
Is my Savior’s love for me!

Of Your fullness You are pouring
Your great love on me anew
Without measure, full and boundless
Drawing out my heart to You
You alone will be my glory
Nothing in the world I see
You have cleansed and sanctified me
You Yourself have set me free (William Rees; Sovereign Grace)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, May 1, 2009

Preach the Word


“Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2)

In Paul’s final letter he writes to his young protégé Timothy these words, “Preach the word.” Paul is in his last days urging young Timothy to hold fast to the truth of God’s word. He tells Timothy in the beginning of the letter to “guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14). We must realize this is not just a call to young Timothy but to every person who has been awakened by the Holy Spirit.

The sheep must preach the Word to themselves. We must remind ourselves of the glorious truths found in God’s own words to us. Prior to Paul’s words here in chapter four we see him tell Timothy “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” The Bible is God’s word and will revealed to us “for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We must daily preach the word to ourselves so at the end of life may we be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

The sheep must preach the Word to each other. We are the body of Christ so we must preach His words to each other. The result is the strengthening of God’s people. Listen to Paul’s tender words to his fellow brother and spiritual son, “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:2). “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). When was the last time you encouraged a brother or sister in Christ with those words? Be strengthened by the grace, mercy and peace that are found in Christ Jesus. We need to speak and pray for each other in this manner. We should strive for less quarrelling and more words of grace to one another.

The sheep must preach the Word to the lost. We must not keep the message of the gospel bound up to ourselves but rather proclaim it from the rooftops. Jesus came to reconcile sinners to Himself! Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians this message is of “first importance that Jesus died according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (15:3-4). Urgency is in Paul’s voice when it comes to proclaiming the good news of Christ. Paul tells Timothy, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

Do you see the beauty of our responsibility? We are commanded to “Preach the word.” God tells us to be faithful to preach the word and He will be faithful to do His work. It is His Spirit that makes us more and more into the image of Christ. It is His Spirit that lets us love fellow Christians. It is His Spirit that changes hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. Preach the word and ask the Spirit to transform every aspect of your life for His glory alone.

Grace upon grace,
JRL