Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'd Rather Have Jesus

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead (Rhea Miller)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, May 27, 2011

The LORD your God has Chosen you to be a People of his Treasured Possession


"The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession" (Deuteronomy 7:6)

God chose me for his treasured possession? Did I read that correctly? This is one of those statements in Scripture that should instantly produce humility in the life of a believer. Yes this covenant is with Israel but this covenant is also with those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Sit in awe as you read: "The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession."

The first obvious truth that should stand out to all of us is the fact that the holy Creator of all things "has chosen" any of us. We tend to think we are pretty good people who have upheld much of the law in the eyes of the world. We aren't as bad as so and so (you fill in the blank) so we tend to think we are safe. But God's standard compares us to one person: Himself. The standard we are to live up to is perfection. Show of hands: Who is perfect? You get my point. All of us have failed to perfectly obey God's law therefore the biblical conclusion is we have all earned our wage of death (Rom. 6:23). Instead of loving our Creator we have rebelled against him. But rather then justly sending us all to hell he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, into to the world to die in the place of sinners. For those who place their faith in Christ our wage goes from death to eternal life. The fact that God would send his Son to die in the place of any sinner is amazing; but when we realize the personal nature in which we have been chosen by God to be one of his people, it ought to overwhelm us.

Second we see that as his children we are not only chosen but we are chosen to be his treasured possession. This is mind-blowing. We have gone from rebelling against our Creator to our Creator coming and mediating for our sins in order for him to demonstrate his love by choosing us to be his treasured possession. WOW! How could we ever walk away thinking we are worthy of God's love? We are not worthy of his love but his love makes of his treasured possession. Our value is found solely in him and our joy is to make him supremely valuable. "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you" (Ps. 73:25). The Psalmist knew nothing was more valuable than knowing Christ and nothing is greater than being a "treasured possession" of the King of kings.

Christian, soak it up: "The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession." Be humbled. Be reminded of grace and mercy. Be reminded of God's patience and kindness. Be joyful. Rejoice that "God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Rom.5:8). We did nothing to earn salvation other than be sinners whom God chose to be one of his treasured possessions. Make your boast in the great God of your salvation alone. To him be the glory.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let God Speak




Byron Yawn recently wrote a book titled Well-Driven Nails: The Power of Finding your own Voice in which he covers the topic of preaching. In the first chapter he has a section about the topic of "relevance" which is huge in the church these days. Early in the section he writes, "Relevance is a trap preachers are forced into by epidemic demands for over-principalized teaching." Relevance can trap preachers into trying to please everyone rather than forsaking man's opinion in order to please God and teach his truth. He goes on to write:

By its very nature, preaching is ignoring man's opinion. We have been called to speak on behalf of God. Let God speak. Let man listen. Why not allow the Word of God to crush and rebuild me and then carry that transforming message to those people I love who are yearning for the same thing? That's real. That seems relevant.

Preach the Word. This is the only alternative to all the clamoring for relevance and the resulting nonsense that passes for preaching in too many churches. There's no need for all that "stuff." I've lost count of the "new" approaches. I can't keep up. Why not preach with transparency? Why not understand it and let it transform you? Carry that burden to the pulpit and allow it to transform others. The more you understand it, the more it transforms everyone. This simple aim transcends styles, methods of delivery, personality, education, etc. Herein is freedom. Freedom from expectations. Freedom from limitations of our giftedness. Freedom to preach with authority and passion. Freedom from the fear of men.

What we need as sinners is for preachers to study the Word and deliver to our ears the truth in order for us, as Christians, to grow in godliness. The message that transforms us is the gospel of Jesus Christ not a message that will be outdated by next week. All of us need to hear the unchanging truth. Paul solemnly charged Timothy in the presence of God to do this very thing: "Preach the Word" (2 Tim. 4:2).

If you are a preacher please stop with the "relevance" that is becoming the norm in the pulpits across the world. Break open the Word, study and let it transform your life then start preaching the gospel that has transformed your life. Let that message spill over into your preaching so your people may soak it up.

If you are a listener, like me, please ask the Spirit to challenge, convict and encourage you each time you have the privilege to hear God's Word taught. This will be help in your lifelong battle against the temptations of this world.

If you do not belong to a church I would encourage you to find one that preaches the Bible. Most churches will say they preach the Bible but what you'll find is your ears being tickled by self-help therapy rather than having your sin exposed before a holy God. That may make you feel better for an hour but it won't produce lasting change in your life. Only a relationship with the eternal God will produce a change in your life forever. Go hear his Word taught.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Out of Egypt

I was reading Deuteronomy 6 the other day when I ran into this passage that encouraged me because it was a clear reminder of how God saves his people and then sustains his people.

In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the LORD sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (6:20-25)

Notice how God delivers them with his mighty hand from out of the land of Egypt to bring them in to the promise land. Then the LORD commands them to obey his laws and fear him for the purpose of their good. What a joy to obey the God who delivers us from the slavery of sin to be his children who inherit eternal life. This is the God who gives us his commands for our greatest good. What a loving God!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Sunday I had the privilege to go to St. Andrew's church in Sanford, Florida where Dr. R. C. Sproul is the teaching pastor. To close the service we sang a hymn entitled Have Thine Own Way, Lord which was beautiful because it helped me remember that God is sovereign over all our plans. For his children we know his way is best.

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Search me and try me, Savior today!
Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now,
as in thy presence humbly I bow.

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway.
Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me! (Adelaide A. Pollard)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back At It


If you are wondering last week I was on vacation with my family in Orlando, Florida. Today is the day we are actually flying back to Arkansas. The week has been great to get away and just spend time with family. As you can see we ran into a few special people on the trip. We did have some time to relax as well but Disney World was definitely a big part of the trip.

I will be back tomorrow in full swing Lord-willing.

A couple of quotations on prayer that are extremely convicting:

If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I wouldnot fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. Heis praying for me. (Robert Murray M'Cheyne)

Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is tofaith what breath is to the body. How a person can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a person can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too. (J.C. Ryle)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fool! This Night your Soul is Required




“Fool! This night your soul is required” (Luke 12:20)

Do you treasure the pleasures of this world more than the treasures of the eternal kingdom? Jesus gives us a parable in Luke 12 that addresses the danger of worshiping the temporary joys of this world. This is not a parable against wisely planning for the future but rather a warning against covetousness and arrogantly believing our time is in our hands.

This passage refutes the idea of the “American Dream.” We have been fed the lie that we need to work more hours to make more money in order to obtain more stuff. But Jesus warns us: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (15). Jesus is talking to his disciples when “someone in the crowd” wants Jesus to act as judge between a dispute with this man and his brother. Jesus gives the warning to his disciples to guard against covetousness because it lures us into worldly thinking. As Christ’s disciples we can tend to get caught up in the trappings of this world. Satan and our flesh want us to forget that we are aliens and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:11). Temptations to covet are all over the place so we need to heed Jesus’ warning to guard against covetousness.

After warning against covetousness he gives us a reason for not coveting: “For one’s life does not consist in abundance of his possessions.” As sojourners in this world Christians ought to understand this world is passing away yet we are able to do kingdom work while we are here. This is where true value is found. Jesus goes on: “And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry” (16-19). This man’s arrogance is jumping off the page as we read the story. This man is not thinking about others or eternity but rather how will he be able to store all his possessions. What does Jesus say about this man? “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you” and then he asks the man a question: “And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” The correct response is God’s. The possessions have always been God’s because he is the one who gives life and breath and a job and earnings and so on and so forth.

Christian, are you caught up in the “American Dream”? The point is not your possessions but rather holding them so tightly that they become what you worship. God will not accept second place. And in order to live life to its fullest here, God must have first place in your heart. He owns your possessions so give him praise for what he has blessed you with in this life. Humbly acknowledge that they are gifts from his hand to help advance his kingdom.

If you are not a follower of Christ and you are living to gain all that the world has to offer to fulfill your desires, you are sadly caught in the lie of Satan. You will never be fully satisfied placing your hope in the fleeting pleasures of this world. In the end you will have gained…nothing. You may think you have all sorts of time to acquire possessions all the while rejecting the greatest treasure, Christ. Then the time will come when God will say, “Fool! Tonight your soul is required of you.” How foolish it will be to have all your possessions left behind. Jesus says elsewhere, “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul. For what can a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26)? I promise your possessions are no exchange for your soul but only trusting in Christ’s finished work. He came to the world to rescue sinners by his life, death and resurrection. Trust in him and find eternal pleasure and endless joy.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Bread of Life

For my time of reading I have been reading through the entire ESV Study Bible with the notes trying to soak everything I can from the Scriptures and then notes of these great scholars to help me see what the passage is saying. I like to read it and think through it myself and then see if the thoughts I have match up and if not what I may have missed as I read it. One of the major topics I have been trying to see as I read is the deity of Christ. I think this is one of the most significant doctrines to affirm because without Christ's deity we no longer have a substitutionary atonement or a mediator. Yesterday I was in John 6 which is a beautiful passage about Jesus being the Bread of Life. I noticed several times Jesus making the statement: "Comes down from heaven." I have heard the argument that Jesus Christ was created which also means he is not God since God is eternal. But I believe this passage along with many others (John 1, Colossians 1, Philippians 2) all clearly speak of Christ's deity. Below is part of John 6 that I think would be good to read for you to see yourself the deity of Christ:

The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea knew there had been only one boat. [They also knew] that Jesus had not boarded the boat with His disciples, but that His disciples had gone off alone. Some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, " Rabbi, when did You get here?"

Jesus answered, "I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don't work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him."

"What can we do to perform the works of God?" they asked.

Jesus replied, "This is the work of God: that you believe in the One He has sent."

"What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?" they asked. "What are You going to perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. "


Jesus said to them, " I assure you: Moses didn't give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

Then they said, "Sir, give us this bread always!"

"I am the bread of life," Jesus told them. "No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again. But as I told you, you've seen Me, and yet you do not believe. Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

Therefore the Jews started complaining about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They were saying, "Isn't this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"

Jesus answered them, "Stop complaining among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me—not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father.


"I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."

At that, the Jews argued among themselves, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

So Jesus said to them, " I assure you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day, because My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your fathers ate—and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever."

He said these things while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (22-59)


Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Celebrating Two Great Years



Grateful today to celebrate two years with our daughter. She has been a blessing and a joy. God has used her to grow us closer to him and to each other as husband and wife. Also grateful for the wife God has blessed me with to raise Emma. What a joy!

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24-25)

Happy Birthday Emma!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Triune Praise

Praise God the Father, the Immortal Creator
For Your glory you made us, You're the Sovereign Orchestrator
All that You decree will most surely come to happen
You're awesome as can be and Your glory none can fathom
Nothing could ever stain You, the heavens can't contain You
We thank You for sending Your Son to explain You
Otherwise we would have remained in the dark
but You sent Your Holy Spirit to spark a change in our hearts
According to Your eternal purpose and will
You determined to reveal Yourself to those who deserve to be killed
Those of us whom You foreknew adore You
We praise You that You predestined us to be conformed to
The image of Your Son who's the radiance of Your glory
When I meditate on it, the weightiness of it floors me
So Father, we'll praise you over and over again
Because You sent Your only Son to atone for our sins

Praise God the Son, Second Person of the Trinity
You're distinct from the Father, yet you share in His divinity
Fulfilling an eternal covenant- You came through
To planet earth to save who? All the Father gave You
You became a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief
For the glory of Your Father You extinguished the beef
That stood between us at the cross- the Father's anger released
The Shepherd slain for the sheep, the situation is deep
I can't find the right language to speak, in fact it's making me weep-
Just the thought of You saving this creep
You're risen from the dead, I still can't get this in my head,
How the Judge could leave the bench and go to prison instead
Lord Jesus, you're amazing, Your bleeding is what saved men
It's the reason why we're praising, can't wait to see Your face
In the meantime, please help us to see You as colossal
And by the Spirit live lives worthy of the gospel

Praise God the Holy Spirit, 3rd person of the Trinity
Distinct from Father and Son, yet share in Their divinity
Holy Spirit we praise You, You don't like the spotlight
You'd rather point away from yourself and give props to Christ
But yet because You're God, you deserve veneration
And You're the One responsible for our regeneration
You apply the finished work of Christ to all the elect
Your call is effectual- You haven't lost one yet
You comfort us when sin, Satan and the world got us bothered
And it's only by You that we cry out "Abba Father"
You're the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Truth,
You graciously provide Your people with the gifts and the fruit
You help us kill sin and dis-attach us from our idols
If it wasn't for You, we'd never understand the Bible
Because You wrote it- For our life it will surely suffice
Amazingly, You do it all for the glory of Christ!

Glory to the Father, Glory to the Son,
Glory to The Spirit- Three and Yet One
One in Your essence, Three in Your Person
The same in Your nature, distinct in Your working
Oh my soul- behold the wonder of the Trinity
Blessed be the Trinity, Oh, what a mystery!
I'll stand amazed for the rest of my days
Pouring out my heart in Triune praise (Shai Linne)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, May 6, 2011

Let the Peace of Christ Rule in your Hearts




“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15)

We have all heard the slogans: “Keep the Peace”, “Peace out”, “Peace is Patriotic” and so on they go. But Scripture talks about a different peace, a peace with God “which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). This is true peace. This peace is two-fold: Peace with God and peace with others. Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”

In order for something to rule you it must have control or authority over your life. Paul is talking about a peace that rules over your life. In Colossians 3 he is speaking to the church about putting on the new self. This means forsaking the old way of life and fully pursuing new passions and desires which ultimately stem from a new heart. This new heart comes from reconciliation between humans and God. Until the war is finished in our own souls against God we will never be at peace.

Earlier in the book of Colossians Paul addresses the issue of peace between God and humanity. As sinners we fight the battle against God by suppressing the truth but God has graciously provided his Son to bring reconciliation. It always blows my mind that the One we need to be reconciled with provided the way for reconciliation. Paul says, “For in [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (1:18-19). The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is how sinners are given peace with God, the One offended. Remember the prophet Isaiah talked about Jesus as the suffering servant: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (53:4-5). The gospel brings about the peace that surpasses all understanding because the cross tears down the hostility between creature and Creator. His atonement brought us peace! “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Not only are we given peace with our Creator but we also at peace with other humans.

Remember Paul is speaking to those who are followers of Jesus Christ when he commands, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” How is that possible with one another? It is possible because God has opened our eyes to understand the gospel and imparts his Spirit to be our helper. In John 14, Jesus says, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (26-27). The saving grace of God imparts the peace of our great Savior, Jesus Christ, in our lives and the Holy Spirit empowers us to be peacemakers. In Galatians, Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit and third on the list is “peace” (5:22-23). Peace is provided by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are you at peace with God? If you think you are at peace because of your religious duties or your relatively good deeds or your kindness to others you are sadly mistaken. Peace with God is found in Jesus Christ and in him alone. And until there is peace with your Creator you will not have peace with others. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will not be desires to live by with one another. Those who have the Spirit desire for these fruits to be a part of their lives and they are given the power to obey. Perfectly? No, but these fruits will be their practice because of the work of the Spirit. Listen to the words of Paul: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” All glory to God alone for this amazing peace.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saved By or For Good Works?

"For we are [God's] workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

In his book A Gospel Primer for Christians, Milton Vincent addresses the gospel's implication on works. In the section titled Saved for Good Works he says:

The Bible tells me that when Christ redeemed me, he did so in order that I might now be 'zealous for good works' (Titus 2:14). When God 'works' in my day by day, he does so in order to produce in me the desire and the power to 'work for his good pleasure' (Philippians 2:12-13). Indeed, though I am saved by grace and not by works, I am God's 'workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that [I] would walk in them.'

The more I embrace the saving work of God on my behalf, the more I find myself embracing the works for which God saved me. And as I am 'working hard' at doing these works for the good of others, I experience the truth of Jesus' words: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' (Acts 20:35)

Then he speaks about how reminding ourselves of the gospel daily will help us with these good works:

Preaching the gospel to myself each day not only reminds me of the love of God for me, but it also reminds me of the love of God for the works that he has saved me to perform. When I see the cross, I see the premium that God places on the works that he has prepared for me. How valuable all of these works must be if Christ would die so that I might now perform them! And how precious are those for whom these works are done if Christ would die that they might be served!

The gospel is not being saved by our works but rather God saving us for good works.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Offensive Truth of the Cross

In the book The Heart of the Cross, Philip Graham Ryken writes this about the offensive truth of the cross:

What is offensive about the cross is that it utterly contradicts this line of reasoning [that people are good enough to get into heaven]. Consider what the cross says. It says you are not righteous. It says you are a sinner. It says you do not measure up to God's perfect standard. The reason it was necessary for Jesus to be crucified was because of the sins of humanity, your own sins included.

The cross also says you are helpless. It says you cannot get into heaven on the strength of your own record. You need someone else to offer his perfect life on your behalf. This is one difference between Christianity and every other religion. Every other religion tells you to present to God the best record you can. Christianity teaches that God offers his perfect record to you. But that means you cannot gain eternal life without his total help. The death of Christ on the cross proves the helplessness of humanity.

Then the cross says you are hopeless. The cross of Christ shows that sin deserves the wrath and curse of God. It proves that without Christ, sinners will perish for their sins. Don't you think that if God could have saved you any other way he would have done it? But there was no other way, because every sin deserves a hell of suffering.

Who wants to be told that he or she is helpless, hopeless, and unrighteous? No one does. The very idea is offensive. Most people are convinced of their own basic goodness. They go through life helping themselves and hoping for the best. These attitudes make the cross offensive to the moral individual. The cross is a warning that you are dead in your sins. It announces that you cannot help yourself, indeed that you are without hope.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jesus Wants My Heart

Daniel Renstrom has released a new album titled Jesus Wants My Heart. This is a short three song album aimed at kids but if you are an adult please do not dismiss this album. Daniel has quickly become one of my favorite artist because of the Christ-centered theology in his songs. Yes, the music is good. Yes, he has a nice voice. But more importantly he has a high view of God and a right view of man behind his songs. He understands the gospel and his songs reflect it. This album is no different. As I listened to the songs closely, I quickly discovered this is more of a children's album rather than a kids album.

What do I mean by children's album?

Daniel did a wonderful job keeping the songs short and simple in words; but the theological truths behind the songs make this an album for all of ages. If you have young children this is a great album that will teach rich biblical truths. But I really think this album is also for all of God's children.

My favorite song on the disc is Love Love Love because of three biblical truths we see in this song:

1. God's bigness - "He knows every shining star above and calls them each by name. He formed the mighty mountains and the seas"

2. God's salvation in Christ - "The greatest gift He's given us is sending Jesus and making Him a substitute for sins"

3. God's electing grace - "He has loved you long before you could have loved Him in return"

Simple yet so profound. A child can listen and hear the truth. A Christian can listen and rejoice in the truth of the gospel. Daniel has done a great job putting it to great music for children and adults alike. I would encourage each of you spend $3 to buy Jesus Wants My Heart. It is out on iTunes today.

If you have never heard either of Daniel's other two albums (Adore and Temble and On the Incarnation) I would encourage you to give them a listen.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, May 2, 2011

While we were...Christ died...we are now

I had the privilege to study Romans 5:6-11 recently and saw some amazing things in this text. One is that this text is written to believers. It is so easy to see the gospel in these verse because Paul is talking about the gospel but he is speaking to those who are followers of Christ. Second the pattern throughout the text helps us see who we once were and who are we are now in Christ. I call it this section of Scripture: "While we were...Christ died...we are now."

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through who we have now received reconciliation.

Did you see it?

While we were...weak (6), sinners (8), enemies (10)
Christ died for the...ungodly (6), sinners (8), enemies (10)
We are now...justified (9), saved from God's wrath (9), reconciled (10, 11)

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ this is the way the Father has demonstrated his great love for us. He sent his Son to died in our place. He took his enemies and made them his sons and daughters. What a great God!

Grace upon grace,
JRL