Monday, August 31, 2009

Seven Principles for Examing Your Own Level of Humility

Thomas Watson gives us seven principles to examining our own level of humility:

1. If we are humble, we will not be self-preoccupied. Self is nothing, Christ is everything. "He must increase, I must decrease."

2. Humility will lead to a desire to be like Christ.

3. We will not be complainers. Those who are proud are concerned for their personal rights and comforts, and treat God's will as if it is not fair.

4. We will see the strengths and virtues of others as well as our own weaknesses and sins (Phil. 2:3) and the example of Paul.

5. We will spend much time with God in His Word and in prayer.

6. We will take Christ on His own terms, and obey His commandments.

7. We will praise and thank God for His grace.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, August 28, 2009

Your labor is not in vain


“Your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Kingdom work is never labor done in vain. The Lord has a purpose for all things therefore the Christians work, from the least to the greatest, is all for the purpose of God’s glory. God has us here on this earth to throw the seeds of the gospel to the praise of his glorious grace for his glory alone. Let’s look at how the gospel ties to kingdom work so “your labor is not in vain.”

If you recall the first few verses of chapter fifteen, Paul is quick to remind the church of Corinth of the gospel he preached to them. This gospel is the one they received, in which they stand and by which they are being saved, if they hold fast and believe not in vain (1-2). The gospel is “that 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 Scripture” (15:3-4). If this is the message you are proclaiming to every tribe, tongue and nation then know “your labor is not in vain.” God wants us to be faithful with his message of salvation by not adding our own opinions but rather proclaiming his truth.

Laboring faithfully is not an easy task. We must constantly ask God for his sustaining grace to keep running the race. As humans we want to see results so when we don’t see results we give up on people or we change the message to make it appeal to the current crowd. Paul’s words should bring comfort to our downcast soul: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (58). If we truly know and believe the gospel then we should understand the results do not rely on us. Jesus is the one who gives new hearts therefore our job is to faithfully proclaim Jesus. Do not make the mistake of confusing his work with our work. We proclaim the truth about Jesus but Jesus is the one who redeems sinners. Paul says when the truth is proclaimed then “your labor is not in vain.”

Some might respond: If the results are up to Jesus then why should we labor? One simple, yet profound, answer to that question is found in Scripture. We are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). The God of the universe has chosen to use us as his instruments. This is not some half-hearted attempt from us to save people but rather a command we should whole-heartedly embrace as our calling in life. Believing in Jesus will shape every area of life. We will not have to do evangelism but our lives will be poured out like a drink offering to others for the sake of God’s glory. Make sure your hope is placed in the finished work of Christ on the cross so when you are pouring out your life to others you will know for certain “your labor is not in vain.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are you a Drink Offering?

"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

I started pondering this verse the other night after something at lunch on Tuesday reminded me of the legacy I want to leave behind. On Tuesday I had the privilege to go to lunch with a couple of co-workers and a customer of the bank. While we were there one of the waitresses knew me from years past. When she came over to say hello our customer at the bank knew her as well from eating at this restaurant many times.

Our customer ask her a simple question, "Tell me something about this guy?" "This guy" was me. The words from her were "He can play volleyball." Reflecting back that day I thought, "What a waste to get to the end of this life known as someone who played volleyball." You can fill in your own blank. Maybe for you it's money, possessions, fashion, movies, video games, grades, education and the list could go on. Please do not hear me say those things are wrong but ultimately I don't want to be known as a person who played volleyball. I want to be like Paul and have my life be poured out as an offering for Jesus sake.

I pray at my departure from this world I can recall the reality that I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. Without something to look forward to this life is just a waste. Volleyball will pass away. Money will pass away. Education will pass away. That which is done for Christ will be eternal!! O how I wish her words would have been, "He loves Jesus Christ." As a Christian there would be no better words to come from another's mouth when told to give a description of yourself.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Forsake not your mother's teaching

"Hear, my son, your father's instruction,and forsake not your mother's teaching" (Proverbs 1:8)

Mom,

Thanks for your teaching from God's word in my life going up. You trained Krista (my sister) and I so well in the teachings of Scripture. More importantly you modeled them for us, not perfectly, but consistently. I know it is only by God's grace that I am what I am but he used you and your teaching in that process. Both you and dad model a life of godliness for me. Thanks for all the praying, praying and more praying.

I have slowly learned the consequences of forsaking the truth of God's word. That in turn was forsaking the teaching you graciously taught me. That in turn was forsaking the truth of God's word. Do you get the cycle? What a blessing to have a mother who loves the Lord and her lips constantly proclaim his truth. It took me a long time to realize what a gift I had in you mom. God is so good. I'm both him and you have been patient.

I love you Mom.

Grace upon grace,
JRL (Your son)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Answer to the Question

When you die do you know where you will spend eternity?

Instinctively every human soul has contemplated where they will spend eternity. I’ve never been to a funeral where the future has not been brought up. Of course all funerals bring up the idea that the person is now in heaven. Where does that concept come from? Ask most people where they think they will spend eternity they will respond, “I hope I make it into heaven.”

Heaven is a biblical truth. Heaven is not some made up idea about the afterlife but a reality in God’s written word. We hear the response, “I hope I make it into heaven” because in every soul is the reality of heaven and hell. Most people want to go to heaven because the alternative hell scares them. I see two problems with this thinking: 1. There is no hope in hoping; 2. We miss the greatest reason to look forward to heaven.

I want to dissect briefly 1 Corinthians 15 to help us answer the questions proposed above. First we must start with the gospel. Paul says, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that 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” (3-4). This is the message Christians believe to be true. Christ, our mediator, took on human form, lived a perfectly obedient life, died on a cross for sinners and resurrected from the dead three days later. This is the good news. The gospel is hope.

How do we know for certain this is true? We accept these things by faith which is a gift from God. But we can also see the historical accounts in Scripture. There are a ton of things in history we must accept by faith: None of us saw the War of 1812, none of us saw Christopher Columbus sail the ocean blue in 1492, and me personally, I’ve never seen Canada. Of course the rebuttal is we have proof. People have been to Canada and the history books report the War of 1812 and Christopher Columbus but history also records eye witness accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The text goes on, “And that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared to me” (5-8). Paul is saying, “If you don’t believe me go ask anyone who was there when he appeared to more than 500 at one time, they will tell you the same thing.” Conspiracies do not involve more than 500 people. Plus many whom Jesus appeared to were martyred for proclaiming the resurrection. Picture this: You tell people a man raised from the dead and you saw it with your own two eyes then they respond by saying, “Recant that statement or we will kill you.” If you were lying wouldn’t you just take the statement back? But if it really happened and the resurrection meant this man is God and conquered death and sin then by faith you would hold to the truth. This is great historical evidence.

Paul then asks, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead” (12)? Paul asks this question to the religious people who claimed to know God but denied the resurrection. The problem: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (13-14). If there is no resurrection then what we are proclaiming is worthless. Even worse we are misrepresenting who God really is and we are still in our sins with no hope. The resurrection is the proof that Jesus is who he says he is. If Jesus is not who he claims to be then there is no resurrection. But Jesus backed up his claims by rising on the third day. Jesus is hope.

“If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (32). This is mindset of the world that denies the resurrection. Most of them give no thought to life after death but sadly think this life on earth is the life. When they die they want the luxuries of their view of heaven because the thought of hell scares them. What they do is place the objects of their worship here on earth and make them into gold objects thinking about play golf on a golden golf course or having a golden car in heaven instead of understanding what heaven is all about. They live for self here on earth not thinking of the consequences that wait at judgment. But true repentance and faith makes Christ the object of our worship. Once our eyes are opened to see Christ as the greatest treasure we realize gold (something of great value here on earth) is but asphalt in heaven. Christ is superior over all things. He is our greatest treasure.

Jesus Christ is the one who has provided the hope of an eternity with him. He is the one who took our wrath on him. He is the one who conquered death. Now we can relish in, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (54-55). In Christ death has no victory or sting. We no longer have to fear death because death will be the beginning of true life. No more sin or sorrow but rather rejoicing with the saints at the feet of Jesus Christ. Put your hope in the truth that never changes. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (57).

Don't simply hope you make it into heaven when you can know for sure. Trust in Christ's death and resurrection knowing for sure you will spend eternity with him.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Question to Ask Yourself?

When you die do you know where you will spend eternity?

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Love never ends"


“Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘We just fell out of love?’ Sadly this expression has not just been a part of the world but has found its way into the church as well. But here in God’s word we see the objective, reality that “love never ends.” We, as Christ’s bride, must look to the truth about love not following after the patterns of the world.

If we listen to God’s word we can find the truth about love. Love is a promise like the sun everyday. In God’s kindness we know for certain the sun will rise every morning. Clouds may appear blocking our view of the sun but we know the sun is still above the clouds. When the clouds are blocking our view of the sun it does not change the reality of the sun so it is with love. Love will produce cloudy days but love must exist in the truth that “love never ends.” We must see beyond our own finite vision to the infinite truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Excuses reign supreme of why people fall out of love but I wonder how many of our excuses Paul negates right here in this constitution of love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:4-6). When we say we have ‘fallen out of love’ we have a lack of patience and kindness. We are envious because of our arrogance. We are boastful and rude to one another always insisting on having it our way being irritable and resentful when it does not go our way. Oh and don’t miss the point that we rejoice at wrongdoing. We love to point the finger when someone does wrong. As followers of Christ we should listen to the Book, rejoicing in the truth that “love never ends.”

Can we endure through the clouds? Do we know the truth about the sun? Better yet, do we know the truth given from the Son? Listen again to his truth: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). “All things” means all things. The chief of sinners was not Paul’s title. The chief of sinners is not your wife/husband’s title. The chief of sinners is my title. Do you understand this title? Love has to understand sin. We have to know that it is me who is the greatest sinner. Once we know this truth we stop pointing fingers at others and start asking God to renew us by his Spirit to make us more into the image of Christ.

Christ’s love is unfailing. His “love never ends.” He went to the cross to demonstrate his love for us, his enemies. As his bride we should want to please him above all else giving him all the glory. Look at his word and know his will. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Knowing this truth will help us see “love never ends.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, August 20, 2009

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
’Tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
’Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee! (Samuel Trevor Francis)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Cross of Christ

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

“Are you living in any kind of sin? Are you following the course of this world, and neglecting your soul? Hear! I beseech you, what I say to you this day: 'Behold the cross of Christ.'

See there how Jesus loved you! See there what Jesus suffered to prepare for you a way of salvation! Yes: careless men and women, for you that blood was shed! For you those hands and feet were pierced with nails! For you that body hung in agony on the cross!

You are they whom Jesus loved, and for whom He died! Surely that love ought to melt you. Surely the thought of the cross should draw you to repentance. Oh, that it might be so this very day!” (J.C. Ryle)

For more quotations from J.C. Ryle click here.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Washing the Feet of the Ones You Lve

"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garment, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him." (John 13:3-5)

Our great example, Jesus Christ, displays humility in washing the disciples' feet. We love to see this sort of humility displayed to one another in the family of Christ. But I what I find most amazing, as I obverse people who serve with this great humility, is the fact that I can watch it at my house. I am blessed to have a woman who walks in a manner worthy of her calling as a daughter of the King, Jesus Christ. She understands what it means to wash the feet of those she loves. Most of that display is for me on a human level to bring glory to our great God. I wish words could tell how much she serves and serves joyfully. Serving is not about ease but faithfulness and as my wife and a mother she does serve faithfully.

Heather, thanks for being a true servant who wants Christ to be displayed in your life. Thanks for serving me faithfully for all of these years. Thank you for serving Emma tirelessly for these past three months. Thanks for not grumbling or complaining while being an example to me of what it means to serve with great joy. You have been wise to seek counsel when times get tough. You have been wise to call and talk issues through when you are uncertain. You have prayed faithfully for me and Emma. You have lived out Christ's example through your actions, attitudes and words which brings great joy to my heart. I love the fact you love Christ. I love the fact you love me. I love the fact you love Emma. Thank you. You are truly a woman who deserves honor and respect. Thank you for 'washing me feet' all of these years.

I love you, Heather.
Happy Birthday

Grace upon grace,
JRL (Your husband)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grace in the Flood

How many times have you heard the story of Noah? I know as a kid I heard that story so many times. An ark, animals and a huge flood all make for a great story as a kid. But I think I may have always missed one of the key points to the story. The flood was a real event in history with real lives saved and real lives destroyed. Our pastor, Lance Quinn, talked about seeing Noah's Ark the musical in Branson last weekend and he said something of great significance about the people involved in the story but more importantly about God. Here is a small summary of his thoughts:

When the door was closed on the ark most people talk about how unfair God was to allow all of those people on the outside to be destroyed but should we not be more in awe of the fact that the holy God of the universe spared the lives of Noah and his family?

This is crucial in our understanding of God. Too often we have the mindset that God is not fair in his dealings with people. The question then is: What makes God unfair? When we look at his Word we must confess we have it completely backwards. Man's logic says it is unfair for God to close the door on man. This logic reveals man's heart as being good not evil. But the Bible clearly states that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We are all sinners because we have neglected to give all the glory to God therefore we deserve death. If we are to focused on those outside the door we miss the greater reality about God.

Our focus should always shift to the reality of God's great mercy for sinners. Christian, be in awe that Noah and his family are a picture of the mercy God has displayed to you and me as sinners. God is just in sending those who do not repent and believe in him to hell. That is not unfair, its justice. Those outside the door were getting what they deserved but those inside the door were getting what was undeserved. They received the grace of God.

Be warned! Another day is coming like the flood when Jesus Christ will split the sky returning to claim his bride. Edward Griffin says, "The same terrors will seize an unbelieving world when Jesus comes again! 'As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and swept them all away! That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man'" (Matthew 24:37-39)!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, August 14, 2009

"It is Finished"


“It is finished” (John 19:30)

Jesus uttered the words “It is finished” on the cross signifying the completion or accomplishment of salvation. Through Jesus Christ the Father’s wrath was poured out on the Son for all who would repent and believe. Jesus conquered death, by rising from the dead, bringing life to those whom he called according to his purpose. “It is finished” accomplished that purpose.

Sweeter than the three words, “He saved us” or “God loves you”, are the words “It is finished.” “It is finished” encompasses both the saving power of God and the love God the Father has for those he sent his Son to save. In Matthew 1 an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph saying, “She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (21). Before his birth we see clearly his purpose for coming was to save his people from their sins.

In John’s gospel we read the most widely known verse in the world: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (3:16). God’s love is clearly seen through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was sent to save those who would repent and believe but in John we read “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (19). The light, Jesus Christ, is proclaimed but those who love the darkness rather than the light, rejecting Jesus as Savior and Lord, will perish for all eternity because they do not love God. But for those who repent and believe we know that “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We do not love the light without him first loving us and making us alive to his mercy. “It is finished” demonstrated that love for those who would believe.

Be encouraged Christian the blood of Jesus Christ accomplished salvation. Do not boast in anything other than the cross of Christ. You had one part in your salvation: your sin. “Do you understand the uniqueness of salvation? In all other religions you go to the gods but in Biblical salvation God comes to us” (Doug Logan). The God of the universe reaches down to save sinners.

“Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
‘Full atonement!’ can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
‘It is finished!’ was His cry;
Now in Heaven exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior! (Philip Bliss)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Be an Expert in the Gospel"

My friend, Stephen Bean, challenge me last month with his post on being an expert in the Gospel. Here are his words:

"And God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.' (Exodus 20:1-2)

In his sermon last week R.W. Glenn encouraged his congregation to become "experts in the gospel." The gospel should be the point to which Christians return again and again to find grace, hope, and a reason to live differently in this world.

Too many Christians are experts in secondary things while stammering at the mere thought of a coherent presentation of the gospel. If you see yourself as the type of person of which I am speaking you are certainly not alone. However, it's time to stop being that kind of person.

Until you have become an expert in the gospel you have no right to be an expert in morality.

Until you have become an expert in the gospel you have no right to be an expert in conservative politics.

Until you have become an expert in the gospel you have no right to be an expert in parenting philosophy.

Until you have become an expert in the gospel you have no right to be an expert in the direction and values of your church.

I say this because all of these things can only be understood rightly when one has a proper view of the gospel. Consider the verse at the beginning of this post which precedes the ten commandments. The ultimate code of morality is not given as a to do list. It is the proper life of a people who have been mercied by a gracious God.

What about the sermon on the mount? People of all religions (and non religions) love to quote Jesus' words as if a person can become a good person. They just happen to forget that the two books that contain the sermon on the mount are gospels. Their primary purpose is to bring about faith in Christ as Savior first. Flowing from that salvation is the life that follows his teaching.

All that is to say be an expert in the gospel. Remind yourself of what it is and what it has done for you."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Share in the Inheritance

Find a believing friend who will pray for you in this manner:

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance 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 1:3-14)

This will conclude my posts on prayer. It has been a great reminder to me the importance of prayer. May we pray for God's grace, mercy and strength. May we pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to walk in a manner worthy of the calling. May we pray for the gospel to go forth into all the world.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

'Not as I will, but as you will'

"My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26:39).

I hope every Christian understands the magnitude of this prayer. Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane knowing his Father's wrath is about to be poured out on him. Total abandonment from his Father for our salvation to the glory of the Father. The cup we deserved to drink was poured out on Jesus Christ at the cross. Jesus drank our cup. This was a great display of obedience to the Father because of his love for the Father. May we pray, "Father, not as I will, but as you will."

For more on the cup please read The Cup (Part 1 & Part 2).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Cling to You

"Heavenly Father,
Deepen in us this day, contrition for our vileness, as miserable sinners in Your sight. How often without resistance, have we floated down the stream of evil! We do not cloak our wretchedness. Our lips are ready to confess--but our hearts are slow to feel, and our feet are reluctant to amend our ways. We bring our hard hearts unto You. Break them by Your Spirit--and then bind them up by Your grace. Wound them to the core--and then pour in the Gospel-balm!

Such is the blindness of our fallen nature, that we cannot see sin's deformity--except as You are pleased to unmask it. Such is our deadness, that we cannot hate sin--except as You shall graciously implant abhorrence. Such is our infirmity, that we cannot flee sin--except as Your strength enables. Conscious of our total inability--we come to You for light, for help, for strength, for blessing.

Our sins without number stare us in the face! They are piled as mountain upon mountain. Their height reaches unto the heavens! But their full extent is open only to Your omniscient eye. The burden of our known transgressions weighs us to the dust. But the burden is light, compared to the mass which the scales of Your justice hold. We see but little, because our light is partial and our sight is dim. How must we appear, as seen by You, before whom the very heavens are not clean! You charge Your holy angels with folly. What must be Your estimate of our polluted souls! Humbled for what we see and feel; fearful for what is known only unto You--we meekly cry, "Pardon all our sins--for Jesus' sake!"

We smite upon our breasts, as utterly unworthy of the least of Your gracious and unfathomable mercies. Hear now our cry, and work in us by the omnipotence of Your Holy Spirit, more profound and abiding repentance. Give us more and more of that godly grief, which ever fears and trembles, and yet ever trusts and loves--which is ever watchful and prayerful, and yet is ever confident and hopeful. May the remembrance of the sad past--quicken us to walk in entire newness of life. Grant that through the tears of penitence, we may see more clearly--the brightness and the glories of the saving Cross!

Oh! blessed Jesus--we flee to You! We cling to You. Our countless iniquities condemn us--but You will wash them all away! Our tears of penitence cannot remove one blot--but Your blood has all cleansing merit. Our prayers can earn no pardon--but Your mercy says, "Your sins which are many--are all forgiven!" The more we loathe ourselves--the more we love You! Our vile demerits--commend Your glorious worth!" (Henry Law)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, August 7, 2009

Throne of Grace


“Throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16)

God over all creation,
Thank you for creating man in your own image.
You are worthy of worship and praise for being the Creator of all things.
Your beauty is seen in the sky, the stars, the trees,
the birds, human beings and so many other amazing aspects of creation.
Thank you for also being the God of redemption
for we who are your children, you have created us anew.
We have crucified the old man being raised to newness of life by your Spirit, through your Son, Jesus Christ.

We can now address you, the Creator, as Father.
We now have access to your throne of grace which we, as your children, should
Visit constantly throughout our days.
Lord, my prayers are stale and many times non-existent.
Forgive me for trying to run my life myself.
I am not my own now because I was bought with a price.
Give me the desire and ability to submit to your will.

You are my Creator and Redeemer!
As my Creator you know all my needs
As my Redeemer you supply the grace to
satisfy those needs according to your
great purpose and plan.
Let me be in constant submission to your perfect
and holy will.

Amen

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Prayer of Love

"Gracious LORD,
Thy name is love,
in love receive my prayer.
My sins are more than the wide sea's sand,
but where sin abounds, there is grace more abundant.
Look to the cross of thy beloved Son,
and view the preciousness of his atoning blood;
listen to his never-failing intercession,
and whisper to my heart, 'Thy sins are forgiven,
be of good cheer, lie down in peace.'
Grace cataracts from heaven and flows for ever,
and mercy never wearies in bestowing benefits.
Grant me more and more
to prize the privilege of prayer,
to come to thee as a sin-soiled sinner,
to find pardon in thee,
to converse with thee;
to know thee in prayer as
the path in which my feet tread,
the latch upon the door of my lips,
the light that shines through my eyes,
the music of my ears,
the marrow of my understanding,
the strength of my will,
the power of my affection,
the sweetness of my memory.
May the matter of my prayer be always wise, humble, submissive,
obedient, scriptural, Christ-like.
Give me unwavering faith that supplications are never in vain,
that if I seem not to obtain my petitions
I shall have larger, richer answers,
surpassing all that I ask or think.
Unsought, thou hast given me the greatest gift,
the person of thy Son,
and in him thou wilt give me all I need." (The Valley of Vision)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

His Spotless Robe of Righteousness

"Holy Father,
We blush to lift up our eyes unto You, O God of all grace and love. Shame and confusion of face humble us to the very dust. Wherever You have been boundless in mercy--we have been abundant in sin! We cannot measure our ingratitude. We cannot estimate our vileness. Each day has added to our guilt. Each scene has witnessed our wicked hearts, our straying feet and our offending tongues. What is there in heaven or in earth, above, around, without, or within--which condemns us not? The sun condemns us, which has seen our misdeeds; the darkness, too, which hides nothing from Your all-penetrating eye! The cruel accuser justly accuses us. Your righteous law, Your holy Word, our sin-soiled consciences, our public and our private hours--write dark things against us! We make no denial. We frame no excuse. We confess, Father, that we have sinned against heaven and before You--and are not worthy to be called Your sons!

But still we live! We live to fly as contrite penitents to Your extended arms! We know that You will not cast us off--for Jesus brings us near. You will not condemn us--for Your dear Son died in our place. You will not mark the mountains upon mountains of our sins--for the Savior has removed them all. His precious blood has washed out every crimson stain! His spotless robe of righteousness, covers all our deformities! We put it on by the hand of faith--and we rejoice that we are lovely in His precious loveliness, and beauteous in His matchless beauty.

Open widely the eyes of our faith, that we may see all our justly merited curse, expended on the faultless head of our precious sin-atoning Savior, and the sword of Divine justice buried in His sinless heart!

We come to You . . .
clinging to His cross,
sheltered by His side,
hidden in His wounds,
cleansed in His blood,
covered by His spotless robe,
beautified in His salvation!" (Henry Law)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Our Father in heaven...

Let's start the week of pray with the greatest example; our Lord Jesus Christ tells us to pray like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Throne of Grace

This week and maybe some of next week I would like to look at prayers from other godly men to see an example of how we ought to pray. C. H. Spurgeon will kick off our time giving us a reminder about God's kind grace that allows us to come to the throne of grace:

"When we offer prayer, is there not at times a sorrowful mixture of self-will, petulance, and impatience? Does not unbelief, which is quite as obnoxious as brimstone, too often spoil the sweet fragrance of our supplications? When we offer praise, is it all pure spices from the heavenly apothecary? Do not self-conceit and pride, frequently spoil the holy frankincense and myrrh? Alas! we fear that the charge must lie against us, and force us to a sorrowful confession!

As the priests of God, our whole life should be the presentation of holy incense unto God--and yet it is not so. The worldly ambitions and carnal lustings of our hearts, deteriorate and adulterate the spices of our lives! And Satan, with the sulphur of pride, ruins the delicate perfume of perfect consecration.

What astounding grace does the Lord display--in accepting our poor, imperfect offerings! What rich merit abides in our Lord Jesus! What sweet fragrance beyond expression dwells in Him--to drown and destroy our foul sulphurous offerings, and to make us accepted in the Beloved! Glory be unto our glorious High Priest, whose perfect life and sin-atoning death, is so sweet--that the Holy Judge is well pleased with us for His righteousness' sake--and accepts us in Him, even with our sulphurous incense!" (Charles Spurgeon)

What great comfort to know because of Christ's work on the cross we can come to the throne of grace. As his precious children we can call out to our Father in heaven declaring his great promises to us giving him all the praise and glory he rightfully deserves.

Grace upon grace,
JRL