Sunday, January 29, 2012

Links of the Week

I'm going to try something new here and provide you with some links that will hopefully serve you.

Russell Moore writes an excellent response about how to approach sexual lust.

Jefferson Behethke performs another great poetry video about Sex, Marriage, & Fairytales.

Collin Hansen breaks down the death of Joe Paterno in a compelling way.

Kevin Twit writes about why we still need hymns.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sermon Notes: Gospel Provisions During Trials

Gospel Provisions for Suffering (James 1) Chris Peterson

In the book of James the main theme is the character of saving faith. But faith is not seen in a vacuum. It is seen in the midst of trials and suffering.
It is in the fires of trial that the true character of saving faith comes to life. Faith is realized through trials.

5 divine provisions for suffering
Each provision is underlined with the word “let” (verses 4, 6, 9, 13, 19).

1. Persevering Faith (verses 2-4)
This persevering faith possesses trials and these trials belong specifically to saving faith. In other words, these trials the world knows nothing about. The trials are tested by God and they belong to believers in Christ. Trials test the believer’s dependence. Trials show us where our reliance is.
Genuine faith employs spiritual knowledge in the trial. Faith receives the spiritual data called it “all” (verse 2). It adds spiritual knowledge and receives the sum total= joy in God’s sovereign purpose. Therefore joy is the attitude of resting in God’s sovereignty.

Genuine faith employs experimental knowledge (verse 3). We can know a lot about the glory of God or the gospel, but until we're thrown in the midst of the trial to apply our knowledge, we really don't understand it.

As your faith grows, you need various trials to meet that growing faith.

“It doesn't matter how great the pressure is, it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord, then the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to his heart.” Hudson Taylor

2. Pure Wisdom (verses 5-8)
We need wisdom to respond appropriately to trials. But this wisdom is supplied by God. If you lack wisdom...and you do... then ask! If we do not ask for wisdom, we will fall into the traps of doubt and double-mindedness (verses 6-8).
Wisdom can be summed up in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Prayer is the gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ. We can come boldly for wisdom because Christ has procured access for us. Jesus fulfilled the royal law by loving God and neighbor perfectly. Then he went to the cross and took the punishment that was required, so that through faith his righteousness is credited to our account and our guilt is credited to his account. And we have full access to the throne of grace,through Jesus Christ, because he has purchased access!

3. Paradoxical Boasting (verses 9-11)
“Let the lowly brother boast (glory) in his exaltation.” What is he boasting in? The gospel (James 2:5). The person in a humble circumstance is treasuring the richness that he has in the promises of the gospel. He is making an exchange or calculation by realizing that his humble condition is not his eternal condition, which is settled in Christ.
The rich also boast. However, they don't boast in their riches, but rather in their humiliation.
They understand that their riches can never get them to heaven, rather it's a gift from God that they are broken over the cross by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus.

4. Perfect Gifts (verses 13-18)
It's the goodness of God that is the promise to do battle with the temptation of sin. The promise of our flesh looks attractive to us, but it comes up empty. The goodness of God, however, is faithful.

5. Planted Word (verses 19-25)
Chris argues that the “royal law” (chapter 2:8) is the great commandment to love God and others. The royal law is contrasted with the law of liberty in verse 12. We have broke the royal law, so we look to the law of liberty for mercy (chapter 2:13) which is the promise of the gospel-faith in Christ Jesus.
James says look at the law of liberty in the midst of trials. How do we get the law of liberty? We believe the gospel and it is credited to us as righteousness (chapter 2:23). Christ provided righteousness for us.
Some characteristics of the word in verses 19-25:
The word has a saving character (1:21).
The word has a liberating character (1:25). The word frees us from sin's deception. We are to be on guard against the wickedness and filthiness of sin.
When we need our eyes clean to see the trial, we need to run to the promise of the gospel.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paul Tripp Quotes Part 7

If you can't earn God's favor, then you're freed from trying. Now you're free to admit your sin and run to God for the help you need.

Whatever commands your hope will control your heart and what controls your heart will direct your words and behavior.

You and I actually control very little in our lives, that's why the truth of God's sovereign rule over all things is such a comfort.

Today you will be tempted to buy into the delusion that you're smarter than God; that your way is better than his way.

The scary deception of sin is that at the point of sinning, sin doesn't look all that sinful.

As creator and controller of all things, God has a better sense of what you need than you ever will. It's wise to listen to him.

Be warned, it's easier to see your neighbor's need for grace than it is to admit and embrace your own.

I still need to be rescued from me because as long as sin remains I'll be drawn to desire, think, say and do what God names as evil.

Could there be a greater comfort known to man than these six hope-giving words, "Your mercies are new every morning"?

Lasting hope is always found vertically; all the horizontal places you'd look for hope are, like you, broken and groaning for redemption.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Psalm 30: A Field Manual for Praise

Living our lives in this sin cursed world is very often not easy. Life is not a smooth ride, but more like a roller coaster with unexpected bumps and turns. And life is sometimes more difficult for us Christians. Our enemy Satan is after us and wants us.  He will do everything in his power to frustrate us, confuse us, and mock us. Thankfully our loving Savior is in control and is working all things together for our good.

David in Psalm 30 is experiencing his enemies mocking him. For it leads him to cry out to God for help and deliverance,  "O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me" (Psalm 30:2). David cries out to his God in prayer and God is faithful to deliver him. I love the expression of David crying out to God in prayer. It points to his desperation, faith, and brokenness before God. This verse therefore tell us much about how we ought to approach God in our prayers.

But David did not just move on after God answered his prayers. No. He then gives us a weighty exhortation to praise our glorious God. "Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name" (Psalm 30:4). I love this. It makes perfect sense. Praise humbles us and gives the glory to God alone.

Towards the end of the Psalm David basically extends the praise and opens it up a bit. "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" (Psalm 30:11-12)

We can to. We most definitely can when we think of the infinite kindness of our God giving us his precious son Jesus. I think the description of David's mourning into dancing is a perfect description of what our response is to the gospel.

Our own sin left us miserable. We had no way out, because we didn't want to get out. We wanted our own way. Yet God rescued us. He raised us to new life in Christ!! We discover how much we need Jesus, we cling to him, and treasure him as supreme! The gospel and only the gospel leads us to dance with infinite joy, praise, and thanksgiving! Do that now.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Passion 2012: Sermon Notes from John Piper's Message

I never expected to take notes from the Passion 2012 conference, because I didn't even know it was going on until I saw it pop up on my Twitter account! I read that 45,000 students packed the Georgia dome and was excited for sure. And then I heard that John Piper was speaking in one of the night sessions; it made me even more excited. Thanks to the team at Passion for being willing to show parts of this great conference.

This sermon is one of the best I've heard in a long time. Of course I would highly recommend that you listen to it or watch it (not sure if its still available to watch). I hope and pray that this will help you. Listening and taking notes in this sermon has certainty been a great exercise for me and I praise God for that.  

Main point: Seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of sin for the sacrifices of love.

Step 1: Saving Faith: Seeing, Savoring, and Believing
Piper sees that saving faith is seeing and savoring Jesus and being satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus. Therefore, when you see and savor Jesus, when you are satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus, and when you believe Jesus (saving faith) you outwardly are set free from the slavery of sin and the sacrifices of love.

The root of your salvation glorifies God privately (seeing and savoring, being satisfied, and trusting Jesus) and the fruit of your salvation glorifies God publically (slavery of sin and sacrifices of love).

The first verse he gives for proof of his main point is John 6:35: “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Coming to Jesus and believing in Jesus are parallel statements meant to interpret each other. The bread and the water are both images of Jesus. So, believing in Jesus is a soul coming to Jesus to be satisfied in all that he is!

Next verse is John 1:12, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Receiving Jesus and believing in Jesus are the same. Receiving or believing Jesus means you see what he is, you want him, and you embrace him! You say yes, yes, yes!

Remember Piper is proving his definition of saving faith from the Bible.

The last verse is Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he is and that he rewards those who seek him.”

The only way to please God is by believing. And he (the writer) unpacks what he means by believing. The believing heart says you are my reward! You are the treasure of my life! Faith is childlike, needy, and hungry. It is a desperate response to glory.

The fact that seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus, being satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus, and trusting Jesus are equivalent realities is striking and threatening.

It means coming to faith in Jesus requires a resurrection from the dead. You don’t by nature see and savor him. You aren’t satisfied in all that he is for you, and you do not by nature trust him.

Conversion or saving faith is a gift of seeing and savoring! It is morally impossible for someone who is in love with darkness to walk into the light. The new birth awakens us from our deadness to treasure Jesus.

Romans 6:17-18, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart, having been set free from sin, having become slaves of righteousness.”

Having saving faith does NOT mean you won’t struggle in this life. But in heaven there will be no struggle to obey. We will all the way slaves of righteousness and the freest people in the universe!

Step 2: The supremacy of Jesus Christ.
Here Piper sets out to help us SEE so we can SAVOR the supremacy of Jesus by proclaiming who he is and why we should trust him. (Note: I did not include every aspect of what Piper talked about, otherwise it would have been too long.)

The supremacy of his eternality: Jesus Christ never had a beginning. He always was.

The supremacy of his knowledge: That makes all the information on the internet look like a 1940’s farmer’s almanac.

The supremacy of his authority: Without his permission nobody can move one inch. He puts up kings and puts down kings.

The supremacy of his providence: Without him not a single bird falls to the ground anywhere in the world, including the deepest darkest jungle of the Amazon forest.

The supremacy of his power: To walk on water, to open the eyes of the blind, the storms to cease, and the dead to rise with a single word of his power.

The supremacy of his justice: He will render in due time all moral accounts settled either on the cross or in hell.

The supremacy of his patience: To endure my dullness and your dullness decade after decade. And hold back his final judgment on every land so that many can repent.

The supremacy of his sovereign servant obedience: He kept the father’s commandments perfectly. And then he embraced the pain of the cross willingly.

The supremacy of his grace: He gives life to the spiritually dead. He awakens faith in hell-bound haters of God. He justifies the ungodly with his own righteousness.

The supremacy of his love: He willingly dies for sinners while we were against him, that we might have ever-increasing joy in making much of him forever.

He is supreme in every admirable way over everything.
“There is not ONE square inch on this planet where Jesus Christ does not say, mine!”
Oh, that God would grant you to see and savor the supremacy of Jesus.

Step 3: Seeing and Savoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ frees from sin.
2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

Beholding (seeing, savoring) the glory of the Lord (supreme, glorious) seeing that you are changed!! This verse says, if I could just see with the eyes of my heart I would be changed.

Little hearts give little lusts big power. Big hearts give little lusts little power. You have to see! Your heart has to get bigger and bigger so that this little temptation looks like the stupid, suicidal, insane little monster it is!

If you see and savor the supremacy of Jesus Christ you will be progressively freed from the bondage and slavery of sin.

Step 4: You will be freed from the sacrifices of love.

"For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one." Hebrews 10:34

What is it that frees you to take risks with your life for the sake of others?

You look up to Jesus, heaven, your inheritance, an eternity of everlasting and ever-increasing joy, and you say that is enough! I don’t need it now. I’ve got it there and I’m going here now. That is how sacrifices are freed by being satisfied in Jesus.

Closing: Isaiah 26:8, “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

It takes a miracle for a desire to be born for a supernatural reality that you can’t see.
May God Almighty make the supremacy of the name of Jesus and the supremacy of the renown of Jesus be your sight, savor, satisfaction, desire, and trust.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Will We Die Alone?

One of my favorite bands has a song that just recently came out. This band is not Christian at all, but there are some things to take away from the song from a biblical perspective.

Everyone lies and cheats their wants and needs and still believes their heart.
And everyone gets the chills, the kind that kills when the pain begins to start.

Notice everyone is the key word for us in this part of the song. Sin is such a universal malady that even a non-Christian band can recognize the utter depravity of every single person's heart (Romans 3:23). We all love ourselves and will do anything to make us look better.
I'm not exactly sure what is meant by "the chills" but I think it means that everyone recognizes that things are not right. Everyone has some sense that we must do something to fill the void that is in our hearts. So we try to fill it by success, money, fame, human approval, pleasure, etc.

Everyone raises kids in a world that changes life to a bitter game.

Here we see the absolute miracle of life and the happiness of it. But notice that this world tends to eat away at us and changes life from happiness to bitterness. Human beings, apart from the grace of God, end up depressed, angry, bitter, and unloving (Romans 1:29). To the point that life just becomes a pointless game.

And everyone lives to tell the tale of how we die alone some day.
Notice everyone realizes they will die someday. It is obvious. Everyone will reap what they sow. But the word alone caught my attention. This is not exactly true of the Christian. Yes we will die alone in one sense; but Christ took our place, he died our death! (Romans 6:8) Therefore we have hope that we will stand the judgement of God against sinners because our Lord Jesus bore our sin and nailed it to the cross.

It grieves me that there is so much hopelessness in this world. Alas, we can only pray that people will realize the value of Jesus Christ for their souls.