Thursday, April 28, 2011

Moody Stuart's Six Exhortations

1. Never neglect daily private prayer; and when you pray, remember that God is present, and that he hears your prayers. (Hebrews 11:6)

2. Never neglect daily private Bible-reading and, when you read, remember that God is speaking to you and that you are to believe and act upon what he says. I believe all backsliding begins with the neglect of these two rules. (John 5:39)

3. Never let a day pass without trying to do something for Jesus. Every night reflect on what Jesus has done for you, and then ask yourself, "What am I doing for him?" (Matthew 5:13-16)

4. If you are in doubt as to a thing being right or wrong, go to your room and kneel down and ask God’s blessing upon it. (Colossians 3:17) If you cannot do this, it is wrong. (Romans 14:23)

5. Never take your Christianity from Christians, or argue that because such and such people do so and so, that therefore you may. (2 Corinthians 10:12) You are to ask yourself, “How would Christ act in my place?” and strive to follow him. (John 10:27)

6. Never believe what you feel, if it contradicts God’s Word. Ask yourself, “Can what I feel be true if God’s Word is true?” If both cannot be true, believe God, and make your own heart the liar. (Romans 3:41John 5:10-11)

HT: Thoughts On the Way

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Knowing God in Christ should be the most important pursuit in every Christian’s life. However, we live in a day where many people in Bible believing churches have a god who they have made with their own mind, and is not the God we have revealed for us in Scripture. This is why J.I. Packer wrote this book, he explains, “The conviction behind the book is that ignorance of God-ignorance both of his ways and of the practice of communion with him-lies at the root of much of the church’s weakness today.”

Packer divides this book into three sections. Section one is titled, “Know the Lord,” and is basically an introduction to some of the most important aspects of Knowing God. Section two is called, “Behold Your God,” this part is basically many of the attributes of God we find in Scripture. And the last section is called “If God Be for us,” here Packer dives into some of the marvelous truths of the gospel of Jesus.

This book has 22 chapters; the chapters are short, but rich in theological truth. I appreciated Packer’s attempt to simplify many tough theological words into understandable language for everyone to read. My three favorite chapters are on the grace of God, sons of God, and the heart of the gospel.

This book is not just on the attributes of God! When I first got this book, I thought it was just on the attributes of God. But this book covers many, if not all, of the most important truth’s we find in the Bible about God and what God has done for us in Christ.

This is the first book I have ever read from J.I. Packer and I have quickly appreciated his unique ability to encourage, convict, and strengthen our walk in Christ. If you are looking for a book to help you understand God, the gospel, and living out the gospel in your everyday life I can’t think of many better books than this one to help you do that.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ has Risen! YES!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3

See, what a morning, gloriously bright,
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce, "Christ is risen!"
See God's salvation plan,
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

See Mary weeping, "Where is He laid?"
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It's the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty.
Honor and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with pow'r and authority!
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead! 

Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Friday, April 22, 2011

Love Lustres at Calvary

My Father,

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections,
open my lips,
supply words that proclaim ‘Love Lustres at Calvary.’
There grace removes my burdens
and heaps them on thy Son,
made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;
There the sword of thy justice smote the man,
thy fellow;
There thy infinite attributes were magnified,
and infinite atonement was made;
There infinite punishment was due,
and infinite punishment was endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy
that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell’s worst
that I might attain heaven’s best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclothed brightness,
expired that I might forever live.

O Father, who spared not thine own Son
that thou mightest spare me,
All this transfer thy love designed and accomplished;
Help me to adore thee by lips and life.
O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,
my every step buoyant with delight,
as I see my enemies crushed,
Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,
sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,
hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.
Go forth, O conquering God, and show me
the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.

~ Love Lustres at Calvary, in The Valley of Vision

HT: Timmy Brister

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Watch the Dogs; Glory in Christ

The book of Philippians, written by the apostle Paul, is such a great and instructive book.  We have incredible statements like Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  We also have the great example of our Lord Jesus Christ in his humility (Phil. 2:5-8). We have the purpose of the book, which is in chapter 1 verse 27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

I could go on and on, but what I want to focus on is Philippians 3:2-3, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
In these two verses we have counterfeit Christianity and true Christianity.

Counterfeit Christianity (Phil. 3:2)
The first thing we must do is define the dogs. The dogs in this verse were basically people who were against the faithful professors of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The dangerous thing about these people was the fact that they did believe in Jesus Christ, but they wanted to add to Christ, therefore undermining the gospel of Christ.  They wanted to add that you could not be saved unless you were circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul wrote about them in the book of Galatians (Gal. 1:6-9). These people were known as the Judaizers.  
Paul says keep a close watch on them so they do not harm the church.  Spurgeon said this about the dogs, “They are like to dogs. If they fawn upon you, they will bemire you, if they do not bite you."

Counterfeit Christianity glories in the flesh. This means that they trust or exalt human merit. 

Counterfeit Christianity says, “Yes, believe in Christ, but also add this…”

In our day, we might not have the influence of the Judaizers specifically, but we definitely do have people who teach similar doctrine. We have people who say they believe in salvation by grace, through faith, and in Christ. I, at one time, and many others would say, “What is wrong with that”? The one word that is missing in that sentence is ALONE. Change that one word and we have a completely different meaning. Counterfeit Christianity misses that one word.

True Christianity (Phil 3:3)
“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
I love this verse; it is a great definition of a true Christian. True Christians glory in Christ Jesus! Alone!

We look away from our own righteousness, because we have no righteousness! Christians look to Christ, who lived perfectly on our behalf, died for us, and rose for us to secure our righteousness. The Christians gaze is upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who the Father is well pleased (Mark 1:11), the one who is infinitely worthy of our worship.

Could it be the command to rejoice in the Lord in verse 1 of Chapter 3 is directly related to the gospel?! Yes, says the Christian, I will rejoice in what Christ has done! I have no other hope for righteousness; I have not other hope except in Christ alone.

So, watch out for the dogs, watch out for those who seek to rob you of the joy of resting in Christ alone, in his righteousness. And glory in Christ by treasuring the gospel of Christ. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Wind of God's Wrath

The other day I was umpiring a baseball game, and during that game was hit with some of the worst wind conditions I have ever seen. The field where I was working at was facing the north, so the wind was coming directly at me the whole game. As the game proceeded it was getting worse and worse, till finally when the game got over I was utterly exhausted. As I was working the game, the misery of being in those conditions for two hours was so draining.  I couldn’t help but think about the reality of God’s wrath that will one day fall on sinners who are not clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

In the book of Revelation, Chapter 6:16-17, we have the fierceness of God’s wrath described that even the mountains and rocks want to hide from him. “Calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who I seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
This is a fearful text and God’s wrath is a fearful topic. I hesitated to write on this, but we live in a day where God’s wrath is being diminished or outright denied. We do not like the topic of hell or God’s wrath; however, Scripture makes it clear that everyone deserves to be under God’s wrath, because of our sin against our great Creator.

The news could not be darker for us, however, there is great news that the son of God came down to rescue us sinners. Christ satisfied the justice of God and now God is able to show mercy!

We have two options: We can choose to ignore the reality of our sin and continue in unbelief, or we can agree with God about our sin and run to Christ who died for sinners. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Regeneration is Supernatural

One of the biggest problems with many Christian churches today is a false view of regeneration. In fact, a right view of the regeneration of a sinner is one of the marks of a biblical church. Regeneration is the same word as born again. Today we use the term born again much more than regeneration. Unfortunately, I believe that many Christian churches do not have a biblically solid view of regeneration. Many churches have portrayed a false view of man’s true spiritual condition and this consequently leads to wrong views of conversion. 

To start off I want to define biblically what regeneration is.  Regeneration is when God miraculously breaks through a sinner’s heart with a view of the glory of Jesus Christ. There are many passages in Scripture related to regeneration; I want to highlight a couple of them.
One of the best texts is 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The first thing to notice about this verse is Paul is referring to the creation account in Genesis 1. The earth was one time empty, dark, and without form (Genesis 1:2). God spoke and he created everything by a word. In the same way, Paul in 2 Corinthians uses the creation account to illustrate the new creation. In the same way, we are sinners, who loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19), we were caught up in the idolatrous pursuit of self exaltation undermining the glory of God at every turn in our lives (Romans 3:23). But God in conversion makes known to us the futility of living life for our own glory, God by the magnificent work of his Holy Spirit shows us the glory of Christ, and we now see the glory of the cross of Christ.

The next text that is a great picture of regeneration is Ephesians 2:1-6. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”

Paul, in this text, presents fallen man in his lost state before God, spiritually dead, with a heart that is unresponsive to God’s glory, not concerned with proclaiming and promoting God’s glory. Furthermore, all of us at one time followed the prince of the power of the air, who is Satan, all of us delighted in walking according to our own wisdom, according to our own fallen nature opposed to God.

But God! Blessed two words! God awakens us, he has mercy on us, he not only sends his son to be our substitute, providing eternal righteousness for us, he also sends his spirit to make us alive! That is sovereign grace! We do nothing! Yes, we do believe as a result, and we must believe, however, God makes it possible for us to believe.

Wrong views of regeneration invite people to do something to receive the benefits of the atonement of Christ.  They invite people to make a decision, to pray a superstitious prayer, or do something else that is not biblical. But someone will say, are we not called to repent and believe? Yes! We are! The problem is most churches in Christianity do not use the terms repent and believe. We have replaced repent and believe to accept Christ as Savior not Lord, and receive Christ as Savior and not Lord, to pray a prayer and ask Jesus into your heart, or something else that is not biblical.

The biblical view is to command men and women to believe in Christ, yet knowing that it is God who makes the person alive to receive the benefits of Christ.

Praise God for sovereign grace! Praise God for showing amazing grace to rebels like you and like me!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Am the Crippled One!

I read a story about a little boy that is a good example of the love of God in Christ for us believers.

The little boy entered a Sunday school contest in reciting Bible verses. This little boy happened to be a cripple, who could hardly walk across the stage to recite the verses he had memorized. As he started to hobble across the stage as best he could, with his terribly humped back, an older boy who had come in off the street thoughtlessly cried out, "Hey, crip, take the pack off your back!" The little boy broke down in tears, and couldn't go on. A man came up out of the audience and stood beside him. He said, "I don't know what kind of a person would make fun of a little crippled boy, but I want to tell you who this boy is. He's my son, and he's got more courage than any of you! And I'm proud of him, because he is mine!" And he picked him up in his arms and walked off the stage.

I am, spiritually speaking, the crippled one! I am a rebel against God. Yet God in Christ has taken me in, he has forgiven me of all my sin. This is encouraging, life-changing, life-giving truth.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In the name of the Lord I will destroy them!

"In the name of the Lord I will destroy them." --Psalm 118:12 

Our Lord Jesus, by His death, did not purchase a right to a part of us only, but to the entire man. He contemplated in His passion the sanctification of us wholly, spirit, soul, and body; that in this triple kingdom He Himself might reign supreme without a rival. It is the business of the newborn nature which God has given to the regenerate to assert the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ. My soul, so far as thou art a child of God, thou must conquer all the rest of thyself which yet remains unblest; thou must subdue all thy powers and passions to the silver sceptre of Jesus' gracious reign, and thou must never be satisfied till He who is King by purchase becomes also King by gracious coronation, and reigns in thee supreme. Seeing, then, that sin has no right to any part of us, we go about a good and lawful warfare when we seek, in the name of God, to drive it out. O my body, thou art a member of Christ: shall I tolerate thy subjection to the prince of darkness? O my soul, Christ has suffered for thy sins, and redeemed thee with His most precious blood: shall I suffer thy memory to become a storehouse of evil, or thy passions to be firebrands of iniquity? Shall I surrender my judgment to be perverted by error, or my will to be led in fetters of iniquity? No, my soul, thou art Christ's, and sin hath no right to thee. 

Be courageous concerning this, O Christian! be not dispirited, as though your spiritual enemies could never be destroyed. You are able to overcome them--not in your own strength--the weakest of them would be too much for you in that; but you can and shall overcome them through the blood of the Lamb. Do not ask, "How shall I dispossess them, for they are greater and mightier than I?" but go to the strong for strength, wait humbly upon God, and the mighty God of Jacob will surely come to the rescue, and you shall sing of victory through His grace.

Taken from C.H. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotional.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Effects of Prayer

"Prayer produces cleanliness of heart and purity of life. it can produce nothing else. Unrighteous conduct is born of prayerlessness-the two go hand-in-hand. Prayer and sinning cannot keep company with each other. One or the other must of necessity stop. Get men to pray, and they will quit sinning, because prayer creates a distaste for sinning, and so works upon the heart, that evildoing becomes repugnant, and the entire nature is lifted to a reverent contemplation of high and holy things." 

E. M. Bounds