Friday, July 31, 2009

Unsearchable riches of Christ


“Unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8)

Briefly I have tried to do an overview on the importance of knowing God on a deep level. All Christians need constant reminders of the basics of God’s word, keeping our focus on the gospel which should always be transforming our lives. We also should have a desire to dig deeper into God’s word for growth. Digging deep into God word is how we discern good from evil (Hebrew 5:14) and also how we know the will of God (Romans 12:2). We gain our understanding through seeing the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”

While I find growth significant for every believer I think Paul here wants to remind us of the gospel. The gospel presents such great mystery that the human mind will never fully understand what has taken place in this lifetime. Sure we can understand that Christ was sent to redeem a people for his own possession. We can understand that Christ became our substitute on the cross. We can understand that salvation is through Christ alone and his finished work on the cross. We can affirm that the Bible is God’s holy word given to us. However, we can never exhaust these truths and so many more. We can never fully understand why God would do these things for sinners. This is what Paul means when he says to preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” We must hear this kind of preaching but also preach it daily to ourselves.

My prayer for all Christians would be to understand this calling to dig into God’s word and be in awe of the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Unsearchable means the search will never end. Christ is inexhaustible. May I encourage you with Paul’s prayer at the end of Ephesians 3:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (14-21).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, July 30, 2009

God is Deep (Part 4)

3. Calling all to faith and repentance.

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day, rise from the dead and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:46-47). This is my simple plea that all would examine the Scriptures and pray the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth to you. If He has revealed Himself to you praise God but if He has not, stop clinging to your pride. Humbly kneel before the throne of grace and repent.

The holy Scriptures are clear when they speak to those who do not repent: “If a man does not repent, God will whet His sword; He has bent and readied His bow; He has prepared for Him His deadly weapons, making His arrows fiery shafts” (Psalm 7:12-13).

The truth is “all have sinned” but there is good news that follows for those who repent “and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness (not our own righteousness which is filthy rags), because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins” (Romans 3:24-25).

In conclusion:
Pastors, do you love your flock enough to teach them the truth of God? Or do you love filling seats with the shallow words of eternal damnation? Love your flock in way that you reprove, rebuke and exhort with sound teaching.

Christian, do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Do you love Him enough to want to know who He is even when it is tough? Dig in. Study to show yourself approved, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Unrepentant, submit to His loving authority. Do not miss out on the greatest satisfaction offered:

“In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

God is Deep (Part 3)

2. Calling all Christians to ponder the deep truths of God found in the Scriptures.

Be involved in a church that teaches the great doctrines of the Bible; but that cannot be all you do because we have a responsibility and delight to dig in the Scriptures ourselves. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We can know the God of the universe, not in a mystical way but in a real way. He speaks through His word He has given to us, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).

Study the doctrines – grace, holiness, mercy, sovereignty – and you will begin to see who God is.

Let me briefly touch on one of the doctrines mentioned above. Reverend D.H. Kuiper says, “The word holy has the literal meaning of ‘to cut, to separate,’ and thus it contains the idea of apartness or separation. Thus, two important truths are included in the idea of holiness, and we must certainly understand this today; that which is holy is separate from all that is common, ordinary, sinful and corrupt; and that which is holy is set apart and dedicated to that which is good, namely God.”

Remember when Isaiah saw God’s holiness? “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5)! When God, through the Holy Spirit, peels the scales from our eyes our response will be “Woe is me!” Our sin will be exposed and grace will abound through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. You will be undone when you see yourself in the light of God’s holiness. Moses sings in Exodus 15:11:

“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

Be still and ponder that God is God.

The Bible also speaks of a stillness involved in knowing who God is. Sometimes we just need to sit, be silent and ponder that God is God. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Jonathan Edwards elaborated on this text saying:

“Hence, the bare consideration that God is God, may well be sufficient to still all objections and opposition against the divine sovereign dispensations.”

Once again this is not a mystical way of knowing God but a reflection on His word. David, in the Psalms, mentions “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Meditating day and night requires many hours of stillness. “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:12), “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works” (Psalm 119:27), and “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (Psalm 119:148). God’s promises, works, deeds and commandments are worthy of our undivided attention. They are to be pondered over and over throughout the day. We need to be still and reflect on these great truths.

Pray the truth of God’s word back to Him.

God loves to hear His truth proclaimed back to Him. This should be a great joy to us to speak back His truth and know that it will not return void. He will not break His promises. He will always be faithful. He will always work things together for good. He has been tempted as we have been tempted.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

God is Deep (Part 2)

1. Calling all leaders of the church to teach the deep truths of Scripture.
(Since I am not a leader in the church I will let one, John Piper, speak)

“The strong timber of the tree of evangelicalism has historically been the great doctrines of the Bible-
*God's glorious perfections,
*man's fallen nature,
*the wonders of redemptive history,
*the magnificent work of redemption in Christ,
*the saving and sanctifying work of grace in the soul,
*the great mission of the church in conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil
*the greatness of our hope of everlasting joy at God's right hand.

These unspeakably magnificent things once defined us and were the strong timber and root supporting the fragile leaves and fruit of our religious affections and moral actions. But this is not the case for many churches and denominations and ministries and movements in Evangelicalism today. And that is why the waving leaves of present Evangelical success and the sweet fruit of prosperity are not as promising as we may think. There is a hollowness to this triumph, and the tree is weak even while the leafy branches are waving in the sun.

What is missing is the mind-shaping knowledge and the all-transforming enjoyment of the weight of the glory of God. The glory of God-holy, righteous, all-sovereign, all-wise, all-good-is missing. God rests lightly on the church in America. He is not felt as a weighty concern. David Wells puts it starkly, ‘It is this God, majestic and holy in his being, this God whose love knows no bounds because his holiness knows no limits, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world.’”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, July 27, 2009

God is Deep (Part 1)

We love our fast paced, technologically advanced world where events, projects and communication can be done in a matter of seconds. We want advancements everywhere so we can cram more stuff into little time spaces. Our ability to sit and ponder has vanished with all of these advancements. Christians really need to wake up to the reality of who the God of the Bible really is. What we are called to do here in this world is not a shallow thinking, fast paced sort of life. God has us here as His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10). Knowing God causes awe, wonder and a whole lot of pondering. My problem is not with the advancements, because they can be used for good just as much as evil, but we need to remember God is deep not shallow!

Three points we will cover the next three days on this topic:

1. Calling all leaders of the church to teach the deep truths of Scripture
2. Calling all Christians to ponder the deep truths of God found in Scripture
3. Calling all to faith and repentance

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, July 24, 2009

Help my unbelief


“Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)

Have you ever cried out to the Lord “I believe; help my unbelief.” We lack in this area too often relying rather on our own strength to pull us through in any given situation. Rather then crying out to our Savior we try to muster up the strength inside of ourselves. The only true help and strength comes from outside of us. May we as Christians stop relying on our own abilities but rather cry out to the Lord, “Help my unbelief.”

The story in Mark 9 is of a father crying out to Jesus to cast out the unclean spirit within his son. The father is pleading with Jesus to cleanse his son because the disciples were not able to cast out the demon (v.18). Jesus answers with such tenderness, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me” (v.19). Jesus wants to speak to the hearts of all humans before he addresses the immediate issue with the father and the boy. Jesus is challenging us to examine our life to see whether we are trusting in him who has the power over Satan. Jesus wants us, in our faithlessness, to cry out to him, “Help my unbelief.”

Notice the patience of Jesus in this text: “And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’” There is no panic with Jesus. This man is pleading with Jesus to rescue his son from this demon but Jesus takes the time to ask “How long has this been happening to him?” Amazing! Jesus timing is always perfect in his response to our cries. We may not always understand but the sovereign Ruler is always working his plan and purposes with perfection. The father then says to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (v. 22). We see the man's unbelief and should also see our own unbelief. I see the reflection of my own heart in this statement. Too often I ask Jesus if he can do anything rather than knowing he can do everything. Jesus, “Help my unbelief.”

Jesus knows right away what is in the man’s heart when he responds: “’If you can?’ All things are possible for one who believes” (v.23). Jesus knows he can conquer, overthrow, destroy or cast out the demon. Jesus knows he has the power to make the son well but Jesus is concerned with the father’s heart. This man obviously had some sort of belief in Jesus since he asked Jesus to cast out the demon. Look at the man’s response: “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” No hesitation is shown from the father in response to Jesus exposure to his unbelief. Jesus is telling this man, “Trust me.” I will heal your son but I will examine your heart in the process to show you your lack of belief in me. We must examine our own hearts in light of God’s word. Turn you eyes upon Jesus and cry out “Help my unbelief.”
Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Transferring from Darkness to Light

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endruance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1: 11-14)

What can make us more excited than knowing we have been transferred from darkness into light because of Christ? There is no more exciting news than this. May we be faithful to give thanks to the Father for qualifying us, through his Son, to share in the inheritance of the saints. We have been forgiven because of the cross.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

FamilyLife Hero

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

Just wanted to wish my dad a Happy Birthday today. I used this verse from Genesis because my dad has been faithful to the ministry of FamilyLife for over 15 years. He loves his job because he believes only Scripture can shape a marriage according to God's design for marriage. Right now he and my mom are in Colorado for staff training and I'm sure they are loving every minute of it. They love doing marriage conferences together and going to visit those who support them in the ministry.

Dad, I love you and hope you get many more years to do what you love. Thanks for being an example of what it looks like to love your wife. I love the way you love mom.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

God is Just

Speaking of our sinful hearts Shai Linne makes a great observation and then challenges all Christians with a great question:

"We would accept salvation no matter how it came even if God were unjust in the process. We care so little about the glory of God and so much about saving our own behinds that God could save us doing it any way we want even if it shows God to be unrighteous as long as we get to escape hell for eternity. That's not how God operates, God does everything for his glory and we need to be people who would say 'If you can't be shown to be just in it don't save us.'"

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, July 20, 2009

Love

"Love is patient...never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs...There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope and its endurance.

The trouble, of course, is that we must learn to love people. People are sinners. Love must be patient when it is tempted (by the delays of other people) to be impatient. Love must not be selfish, even if other people are. Love does not take offence, though people are offensive sometimes. There are wrongs, but love won't keep score. There are things to be faced, but nothing love can't face, things to try love's faith, discourage its hope and call for its endruance; but it keeps right on trusting, hoping, and enduring. Love never ends." (Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who knew no sin


“Who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Here is one of the most mind blowing truths in all of Scripture. Seeing myself and how engrossed in sin I am with my thoughts, attitudes and actions it is hard for me to get my finite mind around this reality. Sin is all over our culture not too mention sin was all over the culture of Jesus’ time as well. Sin is not a new concept. There is no way to use the logic that it was easy for Jesus because he lived in a time of less sin. Sin was as strong then as it is now. This is why the Father had to crush him “who knew no sin.”

Jesus, the Son of God, took the form of humanity being fully God and fully man at the same time. The humility displayed by Christ is humility in greatest form. Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit came for one reason: to do the will of his Father. Praise God the Father for his sovereign purpose and plan to send his Son into the world to die in our place. This is the pinnacle of love. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) but the Father sent his Son to die for his enemies. We might die for a friend or a loved one but to die for an enemy makes no sense at all. But God’s word affirms this truth saying, “For our sake he made him to be sin ‘who knew no sin’.” For our sake the Father made his Son to be sin on our behalf. The perfect sacrifice was put in our place to bear the wrath we rightfully deserved. Sinners made right by him ‘who knew no sin.’

The Father’s purpose in crushing his Son was “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Due to the Father’s crushing we find our righteousness in Jesus. This is the hope we have in him. The Father now looks down on us and sees the righteousness of his perfect Son. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Col. 1:21-22). Think about it, sinners are reconciled before God the Father because of his Son’s death in order to be presented holy, blameless and above reproach before the Father. Grace! Grace! Grace! Praise God for his amazing grace. We have no right to enter into a holy God’s presence. But God, who is rich in mercy, made a way for us. Praise God for him ‘who knew no sin’ to be sin on our behalf.

Ponder your sin alone. When I think of my own sin which I commit daily or better yet every minute I can only begin to imagine the agony it caused Jesus on the cross. Every sinful thought, attitude and action from this wretched worm kept the sinless Savior on the cross. We cannot understand a love like his. There is no greater love in the entire world. But we must not forget that left to ourselves we would perish for all eternity in hell. We must repent of our sins and confess Jesus Christ as the name above all names. Jesus is the Savior. Only by his work on the cross can we be reconciled to the Father. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to see this beautiful love from the Father who crushed his Son. “For our sake he made him to be sin ‘who knew no sin,’ so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

“You treat me as if I live his life
You look at me as if sin had died;
Therefore; no condemnation will come over me
I’m a son, I’m an heir, I’m a child of the King” (Daniel Renstrom, Sweet Substitution)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Companion of Fools

Two great questions to ask yourself from Bob Kauflin in God, My Heart and Music:

"First, does the music you listen to lead you to love the Savior more or cause your affections for Christ to diminish?

Second, does your music lead you to value an eternal perspective or influence you to adopt the mindset of this 'present evil age'?"

Bob then makes a great point about how we can suffer harm from the companion of fools (Prov. 13:20):

"The music we listen to regularly becomes a 'companion' that informs our view of the world, influences our emotional state, and affects our thinking. If we wouldn't trust a non-Christian to give us counsel on how to live our lives, why would we regularly listen to their counsel set to music?

Christians often justify their questionable music choices by saying that music produced by non-Christians is more creative than Christian music. They praise artist like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band, Jay-Z, and others for their musical innovation and originality. There's no doubt they're creative. What we can forget is that non-Christian companies and bands are also more creative in deceiving us to love the world. They aren't trying to care for our souls; they want us to buy their product. They want us to forget there's a God to whom we're accountable for our every word, thought, and action. If you consistently choose ungodly music as your companion, you won't be the exception. You too will suffer harm.

Seeking out and listening to 'creative' music isn't a right we can demand at the expense of biblical standards. It could be a sign that we're worshipping at the altar of innovation rather than at the foot of the cross." (Bob Kauflin, Worldliness)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Music

I recently read the chapter in Worldliness titled God, My Heart, and Music written by Bob Kauflin and was convicted by the effect music has played in my life in the past, now and will continue to play in the future. Maybe to help some with my post from yesterday I will share with you all a few comments today and tomorrow from this chapter.

"It's not uncommon for Christians on Sunday mornings to worship Jesus for his substitutionary death on the cross, then sing songs during the week that exalt the sins he died for. We sing, 'My chains are gone, I've been set free,' then remain enslaved to lyrics that promote fornication, profanity, anger, godless pleasure, sensuality, and materialism. 'From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so' (James 3:10).

Don't misunderstand me. Listening to a song with sexually suggestive lyrics won't cause you to run to the Internet and start downloading pornography. Hearing a song with profanity doesn't mean you'll be peppering your conversations tomorrow with four-letter words. But over time the lyrics to songs can weaken our defenses, blur our discernment, and redirect our affections toward the world. Listening to music is never neutral, because our sinful hearts are involved." (Bob Kauflin, Worldliness)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Reflection of the Heart

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3-4)

If you will allow me to think something through with you all today I would really appreciate it. I started to ponder the hypocritical spirit of many Christians, including myself, talk about the radio station K-Love. Let me set one thing straight this is not a bash of K-Love but rather an examination of the heart to those who are discouraged by K-Love’s message of “Positive & Encouraging” instead of a Christ-Centered message.

The complaint is always the same: “K-Love is not proclaiming a gospel message but rather a positive & encouraging one.” While I completely agree K-Love is lacking in the Christ-centered message of the gospel, I must ask: Does our message and music reflect a Christ-centered message? We have this mindset that because K-Love is Christian radio they ought to proclaim the gospel in the slogan and music. With this I agree completely but are we being hypocritical in our complaint? We want the gospel message to spread over the airwaves of the radio but not with our own music we play. We hate the fact that a Christian radio station is not proclaiming a Christ-centered message but we, as Christians, do the same thing by our message and music. Maybe we are not mad at K-Love but the reflection of our own hearts that K-Love shows us.

Now I know many of you are thinking: “This guy is a huge legalist.” I hope that is not the impression you get. The truth is my heart is saddened when I hear a Christian radio station proclaim a “Positive & Encouraging” message and not a Christ-centered gospel but I’m even more concerned with my own heart. How is it I can see the speck in the eye of Christian radio but I miss the log sticking out of my own eye? God’s word tells us “Whether we eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). I can only assume whatever includes my message and music. My challenge to everyone is: Do we hate the “Positive & Encouraging” message of our own heart? If it frustrates us so much that Christian radio is not proclaiming a Christ-centered message yet our own lives and music do the same, are we being hypocritical? I can find no way around this issue. Let all of us be careful to examine our own hearts and take the log out of our own eye before we worry about the speck in our brothers eye.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, July 13, 2009

The heart's deceitful and wicked workings

"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve." (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

"The heart, with all its deceitful and wicked workings--is incessantly under Divine inspection and examination! The Lord searches the heart--He traces and investigates, the inmost principles of our souls and their motives, with the utmost exactness!

To form a more just idea of this scrutiny, let us ask ourselves how we could bear to be compelled to declare aloud, in full company--every thought, wish and desire which pass through our minds--with no exception! People, if they were brought to this trial, would rather choose to die than comply with it!

If every man was compelled to speak all that he thinks--there would be an end of human society; and man would no more venture to dwell with man, than with tigers and bears!" (John Newton taken from Grace Gems)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pleasures Forevermore


“Pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

This is what the whole world longs for in life. Every human soul longs to be satisfied with pleasure. We search for this satisfaction any place we can not realizing earthly possessions only satisfy temporarily. But here in God’s holy world we find him saying we can have “pleasures forevermore.”

God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign, eternal says he will give us “pleasures forevermore.” Only an eternal, everlasting being could offer “pleasures forevermore.” All other satisfactions will end with death but God eternally promises pleasure. But we still seem to look over this beautiful promise from God turning ourselves over to fleeting pleasures that fulfill us for the moment but leave us empty in the end. We want what we think will be the quick fix to our empty soul not looking to God’s word telling us he makes known to us the path of life; in his presence there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). The path we have marked out leads to destruction but God promises, to his children, to make known our path and greater still, his path is in his presence where there is fullness of joy and “pleasures forevermore.”

I think C.S. Lewis had this perspective when he wrote in the opening pages of The Weight of Glory: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” In our ignorance we are toying around with fleeting pleasures not trusting God’s promise that in him we have “pleasures forevermore.”

God has created us to be satisfied. Its not that God wants us to be creatures that live in a dark and gloomy state every day of our lives while he is ultimately satisfied rather he wants us to be satisfied but he knows where the only true satisfaction lies. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). Seeking the face of the all-sufficient God is the only possible way of being sufficiently satisfied. Striving, by grace, to be more and more like Christ is where pleasure and satisfaction are found. When we seek our satisfaction in Christ, God gets the glory while we get ultimate joy. No where on this earth will we find “pleasures forevermore.”

This truth ought to intensify our worship of Christ. “The great hindrance to worship is not that we are pleasure-seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures” (John Piper). Solomon had everything this world could offer yet near the end of Ecclesiastes he writes, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity” (12:8). In the end Solomon found no pleasure in the world’s goods but rather in fearing God and obeying his commandments. The worship of God is the ultimate, eternal satisfaction who makes known to us the path of life and in whose presents there is fullness of joy and “pleasures forevermore.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Killing Sin

One the best quotations I've read on killing sin in the life of a believer:

"Do you mortify;
do you make it your daily work;
be always at it while you live;
cease not a day from this work;
be killing sin or it will be killing you." (John Owen)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

He Hides a Smiling Face

"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

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 flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain." (William Cowper)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Most Glorified, Most Satisfied

Here is a quotation from John Piper:

"God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, July 6, 2009

Seeing Sin is the Best Sight

This week I would like to share with you some of my favorite quotations I have heard over the years. Lord willing, on Friday, I will end the week with another Text Treasure with another one of my favorite quotations from C.S. Lewis.

Today will present a quotation from Matthew Mead:

"Though to do sin is the worst work - yet to see sin is the best sight! Sin discovered in its vileness - makes Christ to be desired in his fulness!"

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bought with a Price


“Bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Christianity is not a decision we make by signing a card, walking an aisle, praying a pray or being raised by Christian parents. Christianity is not going to church on Sunday, going to bible study one night a week, watching Christian television or listening to Christian music. Christianity is not pulling out your bible once a week, twice a week, five times a week or everyday. Christianity is not praying so you may receive everything you want. Christianity is not obeying the Ten Commandments and making life miserable for those who do not obey them. So why does the world see it that way? I would say it is because most people who claim to be Christians are not people who fully understand they are not their own but they were “bought with a price.”

As humans it is our nature to live for ourselves. Our best friend is ourselves. Naturally we are inclined to sin because we are sinners. This is not a family background issue (I’m not trying to minimize a bad background) but rather a heart issue. No one is responsible for you as a sinner beside yourself. But the question now is: Why do those who claim to be Christians still live in this manner? They treat Christ as if he has called us to do religious activity but not to die to ourselves. We do these religious workouts mentioned above forgetting we were “bought with a price.” Jesus made it clear, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). But the world sees Christians doing so little dying to ourselves that they have to wonder why sin is significant to what we believe.

Christians are followers of Christ. We have been regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit, being transformed to conformity to his will not our own. Sin should be ever fading in the life of those who are redeemed. Christians should not look the same as the world around us. We cannot serve both the true God and the god of this world. Christianity is not a matter of spiritual exercises but is trusting in Jesus as the one who bore our wrath, we deserve, on the cross covering us in his righteousness. Then, by the work of the Spirit, we begin our new life being renewed by the washing of the word and praying that we may understand the love of God at a deeper level while here on earth. This is why we pray, read the bible, go to church and most importantly die to sin so God may receive all the praise and glory he is worthy of through our lives that he “bought with a price.”

The spiritual exercises are to be our joy and delight in helping us fight the battle to die to ourselves. Rick Holland sums up the importance of dying to self, knowing we are not our own but we were “bought with a price” when he speaks about evangelism saying, “Your evangelism is largely dependent on the people around you seeing that you are serious about your sin. If you are not serious about sin why should they think your God is serious about sin.”

Do you understand the price Jesus paid at Calvary? “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)? Have you repented? Better yet, are you a repenter? Do you hate your sin knowing you were “brought with a price?”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, July 2, 2009

True Humility

Have you ever compared yourself to another human being to judge how good of a person you are? I know I have done that pridefully in the past. It easy to make ourselves feel good by comparing ourselves to others who seem to be worse sinners than we are. As long as I assume I am better then another human then I'm not that bad. Why? Because I'm better then this other person. The problem with this logic is we have no standard but rather judges. We make ourselves God at this point not knowing who God is or ourselves. We are blinded by the god of this world. If this is how you constantly judge to see whether you are a bad or good person you have completely missed the mark. We must daily ask for humility from God the Father. What does true humility look like?

"True humility comes when, in the light of God, we have seen ourselves to be nothing, have consented to part with and cast away self, to let God be all. The soul that has done this, and can say, 'So have I lost myself in finding thee,' no longer compares itself with others." (Andrew Murray, Humility)

True humility is seeing God's perfect holiness then rightly seeing ourselves as wholly sinful. Once we see God we will cry out "Woe is me." At the cross forgiveness from pride is granted. The Holy Spirit will teach you to love others, not judge them. Humility has a high view of God and a right view of man. Pride has a high view of man and no view of God. Are you striving toward humility? Or are you in love with your pride?

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Your Kind Discipline

"Hear, Lord, my prayer. Do not let my soul faint under Your discipline. Do not let me faint in confessing to You all your mercies, by which You have drown me out of all my most evil ways so that You might become a delight to me above all the allurements which I once pursued, that I may most entirely love You and clasp Your hand with all my affections. You may yet rescue me from every temptation, even to the end. Behold, Lord, my King and my God, it is for Your service that I speak, write, read, think. For You did grant me Your discipline while I was learning vanities, and my sin of delighting in those vanities You have forgiven. In them, indeed, I learned many a useful word, but words may as well be learned in things that are not vain. That is the safe path for the steps of youth." (St. Augustine, Confessions)

Grace upon grace,
JRL