Friday, February 17, 2012

Making the Best Use of your Time

"Making the best use of your time" (Ephesians 5:16)

Have you ever stopped to consider how much time is wasted in a day?  Did you know we are all accountable for our time?  The Lord knows our days and the time we have on this earth and he does not want us to waste the moments we have in this life.  He created us with a purpose and for a purpose in the time he has given to us.    He is the One we are accountable to for our time.

In Ephesians 5, Paul is graciously encouraging followers of Christ and also admonishing us to "look carefully how we walk."  Paul promotes discernment and wisdom in our walk in this world.  True wisdom and discernment flow from a fear of the Lord.  We are told to make the best of use of our time for time ahead.  Our focus should be on eternity.  An eternal focus brings this world into perspective.  We are told to walk wise in this world because the days are evil.  As sinners it is easy to get wrapped up in the evil ways of the world rather than set our minds on the things above (Col. 3:1).  Paul tells us in Romans to "not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing our minds, in order to live holy" (12:1).  We can conclude that spending time in the Word and in prayer would be making good use of our time.  The Word is where we find renewing and begging God for mercy is where we are given the strength to walk in holiness.

Sadly it is easy to get sucked into our culture which is so me-centered.  That is not to blame the culture because me-centeredness comes from a heart full of pride.  This means all of us are guilty.  If this wasn't a struggle Paul wouldn't have to tell us to make the best use of our time because we would naturally do it.  Since God has spoken it to remind us that we live in evil days, we should heed the warning.  We should seek his wisdom and grace in order to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.  We should see what his Word says about the best way to use our time.  We should seek to honor him with the time he has graciously given us.  Please don't hear me say we should be sitting in a church 24/7 because that is not making the best use of our time.  It does mean we should ask him for the grace to eat, drink and do whatever to his glory (1 Cor. 10:31).  We make the best use of our time when we can do life to his glory.

Are you "making the best us of your time"?  Are you striving to live for the glory of God in all you do?  This isn't easy but by God's grace it is possible.  Seek his wisdom and look carefully how you walk "making the best use of your time."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Need of God

I am rereading John Piper's book The Pleasures of God which is an anthem on God delighting in being God.  In his chapter The Pleasure of God in doing good to all who hope in Him, Piper wrote this simple phrase:

We have a God whose nature is such that what pleases him is not our work for him but our need of him.


Piper is talking about the pleasure and delight we find in knowing God.  We find our infinite joy and pleasure in knowing him.  In him is where are dependence ought to be found.  I found this sentence helpful in killing legalism.  It is a sinful tendency to think we can work for God as if he needs our help.  As if once we are in the family we can bear the work load to pay back what God has done for us.  But this is not the God of the Bible.  The God of the Bible is not asking us to pay back any debt we owe.  For starters that would be impossible so we ought to be glad he does not require us to pay him back.  What pleases God is holding on to him for grace. He is the Savior but he is also the Sustainer.   In our sinful nature this doesn't make sense.  The God of the universe, the Creator of all wants nothing more than our dependence upon him?  Could this be true?  Yes.

"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." (Isaiah 55:1-2)

Or how about Jesus with the woman at the well?

"Everyone who drinks of this water (the well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 5:13-14)

Come freely and drink from an eternal spring of life.  He doesn't want our work but he wants us to drink.  It pleases him to know we need him.  May our complete dependence be upon God.

Grace upon grace,
JRL


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Your City

Oh the glorious day when we arrive
And Heaven's gates are opened wide
All our fear and pain will fade away
When we see You
Face to face

Our Great and Awesome King
You will reign in brilliant light
Forever glorified
In Your city
And we
Your daughters and Your sons
Will see the kingdom come
In Your city

Love will rain and joy will have no end
When the saints go marching in
God we pray that You come soon
'Cause we were made
To be with You

When we've been there for ten thousand years
Our song will be the same
Praise to the One who has brought us here
Jesus is His name
Jesus is His name (Phil Wickham)


Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, February 10, 2012

Forget not all His Benefits

"Forget not all his benefits" (Psalm 103:20)

Psalm 103 is like the loud trumpet blowing in our ears that tells us why our souls are to bless and magnify the name of the Lord.  David is spurring his own soul on to bless the Lord with everything that is in him.  The Lord is the only one worthy of worship because he is holy. But what is truly amazing is the reality that holy God gives benefits to sinners like you and me.  This is why David tells us, "Forget not all his benefits."

How many benefits are tied into the word "all"?  It is a good question to ask yourself.  Have you truly considered what it means to receive benefits from the God of the universe?  Recently, I happened to be having a pretty "bad day."  My wife and I were having some trouble with our wonderful two year old daughter.  To pile on top of that situation our car got a flat tire.  I was sure the world was going to end with all the trouble going on in my life (That is called sarcasm).  I remember driving our other car to go change our flat tire when the Lord recalled to me many of his benefits.  I remember thinking, "Lord you have spoiled me."  If having a little trouble with our two year old and a flat tire means the world is coming to an end than I have been blessed way too much.  In the moment of "trials" I had totally forgotten all of God's benefits.  Rather than rejoice and bless his name, I was complaining that I was suddenly put out.

The gospel is also tied into his benefits.  David reminds us of the fact that sinners can have their sins removed for good.  These are the very sins that offend holy God yet in his great love he rescues us from the pit of destruction and brings us into his presence.  When David says, "Forget not all his benefits" he continues on reminding us of God's kindness in forgiving sin. 

"Who forgives all your iniquity"
"Who redeems your life from the pit"
"Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy"
"He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities"
"As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us"

Not only do we see his goodness in every moment of life but we see and recognize his goodness when he opens our eyes to the gospel.  When he quickens our hearts to see the glorious reality that Jesus Christ came  into the world to save sinners, we should bless his name.  Our souls ought to leap for joy when we can know that our holy God has provided the way for us to be in his presence for all eternity.  May we not forget the gospel.  When our heart's and mind's are fixed upon the Savior we will bless his holy name and "forget not all his benefits."

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Infinitely Wise Sovereign God

Divine sovereignty is not the sovereignty of a tyrannical Despot, but the exercise pleasure of One who is infinitely wise and good!  Because God is infinitely wise He cannot err, and because He is infinitely righteous He will not do wrong.  Here then is the preciousness of this truth.  The mere fact itself that God's will is irresistible and irreversible fills me with fear, but once I realize that God wills only that which is good, my heart is made to rejoice.  (A.W. Pink)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Come to the Waters


Come to the Waters
Come to the waters whoever is thirsty
drink from the Fountain that never runs dry
Jesus, the Living One offers you mercy
life more abundant in boundless supply
 
Come to the River that flows through the city
forth from the throne of the Father and Son
Jesus the Savior says "Come and drink deeply"
Drink from the pure inexhaustible One
 
Come to the Fountain without any money
buy what is given without any cost
Jesus, the gracious One welcomes the weary
Jesus, the selfless One, died for the lost
 
Come to the Well of unmerited favor
Stretch out your hand fill your cup to the brim
Jesus is such a compassionate Savior
Draw from the grace that flows freely from him
 
Come to the Savior, the God of salvation
God has provided an end to sin's strife
Why will you suffer the Law's condemnation?
Take the free gift of the water of life (James Montgomery Boice)

Grace upon grace,
JRL 
 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Look at the Bronze Serpent and Live


“Look at the bronze serpent and live” (Numbers 21:9)

We read in the New Testament that our one single cure for sin is Jesus Christ.  He is the remedy to our sinful state.  Jesus Christ is the plan for redemption.  The Father sent him to us in order to redeem us from the curse of sin and death.  God’s judgment has been removed for those who will look to Christ and trust in him.

In the Old Testament we often see the sins of the Israelites so clear that it tends to drive us crazy.  We wonder how God’s people could have been so foolish in the face of God’s faithfulness.  It doesn’t make sense until we examine our own hearts.  As the Israelites made their way away from Egypt they tended to grumble and complain of their circumstances.  Basically they were not happy with God’s plan because they thought they knew better.  In Numbers 21 we read of their grumbling, “And the people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food’” (5).  First of all we see their desire to return from freedom back to slavery.  Second, it is amazing to see how sin blinds people.  The Israelites were upset about not having food while complaining about the food they have in their hands.  You can’t say you don’t have food when you have food in your hand.  Not too mention this was bread raining down from heaven.  Maybe it did not taste the best but wouldn’t bread falling from heaven be a clue that the Lord was with them? 

Instantly we see the Lord’s judgment fall upon them as he sends fiery serpents among the people and they bit them.  I’m not sure what this looked like but fiery serpents do not sound as good as bread from heaven.  The result of their sin was judgment and for some it was death that very day.  Some of the Israelites recognized the judgment of the Lord and they repented.  “And the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you.  Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us’” (7).  They are not only scared but also broken.  They have had their complaining hearts revealed to them, which broke them and brought them to repentance.  Moses goes on to pray for the people (7).  The LORD responds, telling Moses to “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole.”  These seemed to be an odd instruction considering the fear the people had toward snakes.  Moses obeys and makes a fiery serpent out of bronze and sets it on a pole.  As if this event is not mind-blowing enough the LORD then promises that anyone who looks upon the bronze serpent will live.  Those who had not died had a decision to make whether to look and live or stay in their sins not trusting God’s remedy.  There was only one hope, one cure, one remedy. 

The bronze serpent is a clear picture of Christ.  God has provided the way for snake-bitten rebels to be cured from the poison of sins curse.  The remedy for our sins is Christ crucified.  This is the only hope, only cure and only remedy.  Sadly too many people hang onto sin rather than looking to Christ.  Our naturally condition likes the poison but we don’t realize it is killing us.  Repent and believe in Jesus Christ.  Trust him as the cure for your sins.  In his blood is the power to remove all your sins.  As the Israelites were told, “Look at the bronze serpent and live” so we are told, “Look at Jesus Christ and live.”  

Grace upon grace,
JRL