Monday, May 21, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world.

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

When Christ became our sacrifice, he bore away our sins. The word 'to bear' is a full and emphatic word signifying not only  to bear, but to bear away. This is a real purging of sin. How great a mercy is this! 'Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered' (Psa. 32:1), Who can express the happiness of such a state as this? Pardoned reader, let me beg you, look over the cancelled bonds, and see what a vast sum has been remitted to you. Remember your natural state, and yet pardoned. Fully, finally, and freely pardoned! What can you do less than fall down at the feet of free grace that moved so freely towards so vile a sinner? Not long ago your iniquities were upon you. Now they are as far as the east is from the west (Psa 103:11-12). O the unspeakable effectiveness of Christ's sacrifice; it extends to all sins (1 John 1:7); past, present, without exception, and all sins to come! God 'did not spare his own Son'. Sparing mercy was denied to Christ. Not a moment of time was lessened for the suffering and wrath that was appointed for him. Justice will not bend in the least. What a sad case for your soul, O reader, if you have no interest in this sacrifice! Consider how you can support the infinite wrath that Christ bore in the place of Gods elect. Woe and alas for evermore to that man who meets a just God without a mediator!  I beseech you, but the mercies of God, in the light of all the love you have for your own soul, do not neglect this opportunity. Get an interest in this sacrifice quickly. What will your state be when vast eternity opens to swallow you up? Happy is that man who can say in a dying hour: 'This is my comfort--"Forgiven!"' Remember, no sin can stand before the effectiveness of his blood (1 John 1:7).

From works of John Flavel, 1:161-164 as quoted in Voices From the Past, Edited by Richard Rushing, Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, Page 21

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That's What Faith Must Be by Michael Card

 That's What Faith Must Be  by Michael Card

To hear with my heart,
To see with my soul,
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
To trust in a way that I cannot see,
That's what faith must be.

When the universe fell from His fingertips,
He decided He wanted some fellowship.
But the man and the woman would not submit,
So He made a better way

When the moment was right, He sent His own son,
And He opened the way so that everyone
Could have hope and believe that when time was done,
He'd be able to make us one

To hear with my heart,
To see with my soul,
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
To trust in a way that I cannot see,
That's what faith must be.

Now I understand that there is a key.
It's Jesus in me, a reality,
That God is in Christ, and that Christ's in me,
That with faith I see what is unseen

To hear with my heart,
To see with my soul,
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
To trust in a way that I cannot see,
That's what faith must be.
That's what faith must be.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There is a Joy in the Journey by Michael Card

One of my favorite songs by Michael Card is "There is a Joy in the Journey".  Perhaps the lyrics can be an encouragement to you today.

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

To all who've been born in the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And freedom for those who obey...

Memorization Monday - Romans 6:7

I'm a day late, but here are the verses from Romans I'm working on this week.

Romans 6:7,8  For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hymn of the Week - How Sad Our State by Nature Is

How sad our state by nature is 
Our sin how deep its stains 
When Satan takes our captive minds 
And binds us with his chains 
But there’s a voice of sovereign grace 
Within Your sacred Word 
“Come you hopeless, lost sinners come
And trust upon the Lord”

My soul obeys the mighty call
And runs to this relief
I have believed Your promise, Lord
Oh help my unbelief
To the fountain of Your own blood
Incarnate God, I fly
Here let me wash my spotted soul
From crimes of deepest dye

Stretch out Your arm, victorious King
My reigning sins subdue
Defeat the pride that dwells within
Keep Calvary in my view
A guilty, weak, and helpless soul
Into Your hands I fall
Lord, be my strength and righteousness
My Jesus, be my all

"Jesus, Be My All"
Original words by Isaac Watts (1707), music and additional words by Devon Kauflin.
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)
[Looked Upon]

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Where Is Happiness Found?

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,   John 6:68

Have you taken God for your happiness?  Where does the desire of your heart lie?  What is the source of your greatest satisfaction?
 Come then, and with Abraham lift up your eyes eastward, and westward, and northward, and southward, and look around you; what is it that you would have in heaven or on earth to make you happy?  If God would give you your choice, as he did to Solomon, what would you ask?  
Go into the garden pleasure, and gather all the fragrant flowers there; would these satisfy you?  Go to he treasures of mammon, and to the trophies of honour; would any of these, would all of these satisfy you and make you to consider yourself happy?  If so, then certainly you are carnal and unconverted.  
If not, go farther; wade into the divine excellencies, the store of his mercies, the hiding of his power, the depths unfathomable of his all-sufficiency.  Does this suit you best and please you most?  Do you say; ‘It is good to be here; here will I dwell, and here will I live and die?’  Will you let the whole world go rather than lose this?  Then it is well between God and you; happy are you, O man – happy are you that you were born. 
If God can make you happy, you must be happy, for you have taken the Lord to be your God.  Do you say to Christ; ‘Your Father shall be my Father, and your God my God?’  Here is the turning point.  An unsound convert never takes up his rest in God; but converting grace does the work, and cures the fatal misery of the fall by turning the heart from its idols to the living God.  Here, the soul centres, here it settles.  It is the entrance of heaven to him; he sees his interest in God.  Is this the case with you?  Have you experienced this?  If so then, ‘blessed are you of the Lord.’

Taken from, Voices from the Past - Puritan Devotional Readings, Edited by Richard Rushing, Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, Page 12

Monday, May 07, 2012

Memorization Monday-Romans 6:6-7

Romans 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hymn of the Week - Come Thou Almighty King

"Come, Thou Almighty King"
by Unknown Author
1. Come, Thou almighty King,
Help us Thy name to sing,
Help us to praise!
Father all-glorious,
O'er all victorious,
Come and reign over us,
Ancient of Days.

2. Come, Thou Incarnate Word,
Gird on Thy mighty sword,
Our prayer attend;
Come and Thy people bless
And give Thy Word success;
Spirit of holiness
On us descend.

3. Come, holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear
In this glad hour.
Thou, who almighty art,
Now rule in every heart
And ne'er from us depart,
Spirit of Power!

4. To the great One in Three
Eternal praises be
Hence evermore!
His sovereign majesty
May we in glory see
And to eternity
Love and adore!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Protect Your Wife from Fear

My purpose in writing today is to encourage husbands to help their wives in overcoming their fears.

1 Peter 3:7 says, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with [your wife] with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered."

In the verse 6, Peter had encouraged women to follow Sarah's example of godliness and as part of that encouragement he told them that they would truly be her daughters if they do good and are not afraid with any terror. The HCSB translation says it this way, "if you are not frightened by anything alarming." That is a major goal of Christian growth for women. But it seems to me that we as husbands have a major responsibility in helping her in this process. That is why we were told to live with them with understanding and giving them honor.

My point today is to encourage you as a husband to be the kind of protector of your wife that God wants you to be. Verse 7 of this passage tells men to dwell with their wives with understanding as the weaker vessel knowing that both husband and wife are heirs together of the grace of life. We are to understand that our wives are prone to various fears and it is our responsibility to help them so that these fears can be minimized or eliminated. Everyone has fears of one kind or another. Do you know what sort of fears your wife is especially susceptible to? If not, you need to work on your level of understanding of her needs and desires so that you can discern those fears.

This works itself out in several ways. First, I think it means we shouldn't belittle their fears. If we live with them in an understanding way we will not imply that their fears are stupid. That approach doesn't help them with any fears they may have and instead it makes them hold their fears inside and  may reduce their trust in our ability to protect them.

Second, we should be careful about what information enters their mind and heart. They don't need to know about every news story we have read that involves murder, kidnapping or rape. I'm not suggesting censoring or monitoring their TV viewing. I'm just saying we shouldn't bring extra things to their attention that they don't need to hear. In a similar way we need to be careful what we watch in their presence. We may enjoy a good murder mystery, but if such programming causes them to be afraid, we should forego our own preferences in order to serve them.

Finally, we need to be careful not to raise fears about our faithfulness in our love and the marriage promises we made.  As Christian men we have made a promise to love and protect our wife and we must be faithful to that promise and not give her anything to worry about. We've recently known two families that have been ripped apart by men who have broken their marriage promises. These men have put their wives in a position where they are fearful for the future -- fearful for their future well being, their means of income, their provision for their children, etc. This kind of behavior is wrong for a Christian man. We should not put ourselves into any sort of situation which will cause our wife to fear that we are lacking in loyalty or integrity.

Peter tells us that if we are not providing for our wife in an understanding way, our prayers can be hindered. What kind of Christian can we be if we can't have an effective prayer life?  Let's be men of character and men who have a solid relationship with Christ; men who protect our wives and families and who help to alleviate their fears rather than aggravate them.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Grace-Driven Effort vs. Human Moralism

I've been reading the book The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. In Chapter 11, Moralism and the Cross, Chandler gives us some distinctions that I have found very helpful. Churches today are plagued by a religious belief called moralistic, therapeutic deism. This phrase was coined by Christian Smith in a book entitled, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. The term basically means that God wants us to be good and happy and he basically stays out of our business unless we need his help in being good or in making us happy.

Preaching and teaching in the church that pushes moralistic teaching without the underpinnings of the Gospel is dangerous because it separates moral living from the power and motivation of the Gospel. Chandler writes, “By taking the cross out of the functional equation, moral therapeutic deism promotes the wrong-headed idea that God probably needs our help in the work of justification and most certainly needs us to carry the weight of our sanctification, as well. The result is innumerable Christians suffering under the burden of the law's curse because they have not been led to see that gospel-centered living is the only way to delight in the law.” (Page 209)

In the Christian life, we don't just stand still hoping for growth. On the other hand, we don't pursue growth through human effort either. Somehow we need grace-driven effort. Chandler asks this question, “What is grace-driven effort, and how is it different from the motivations offered by moralism?” He identifies five characteristics of grace-driven effort that revolve around Christ's saving performance for us rather than around religious performance. I found these five points very helpful in distinguishing the efforts we make as a result of grace and those which come from our own human effort. My intention is to summarize them here. I would highly recommend your reading Chandler's book in its entirety. His discussion of the five grace-driven characteristics begins on page 210.

1. The Weapons of Grace. Chandler writes, “When you're walking in moralistic deism, trying to earn God's favor, and your access to God is built around how well you're behaving, then you are motivated to obey by the hope of acceptance through your behavior.” The results of this kind of thinking makes you believe that your cancer is a result of not having had long enough devotions, for example.

Chandler divides this up into what he calls weapons of grace:
a. The blood of Christ. The blood of Christ has washed away all of our sins. Our acceptance is based on Jesus' blood and not our performance.
b. The Word of God. You need to use the Word of God to combat the condemnation the devil will throw at you.
c. The promise of the new covenant. Under the new covenant we have been perfected and sanctified “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10.

2. Attack the root of the sin. Moralism works on the outward expression of sin, whereas when grace is at work, it attacks sin at the heart, at the level of motivations and affections.

3. Fear of God. “Grace-driven effort fights for a reason that goes beyond a clear conscience and an emotional peace.” People “are not broken up because they have sinned against a holy God. They are broken up because their sin is costing them something.” (Page 215)

4. Dead to Sin “Grace-driven effort doesn't just forsake sin but is absolutely dead to it.” (page 216) Becoming dead to sin results from spending more time gazing at the Savior. The more we see Jesus Christ in the pages of Scripture, the less powerful sin will be in our lives.

5. Gospel Violence “Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life, but to outright destroy it.”

These five concepts that distinguish grace-driven effort from plain old human will-power will help us grow in grace in a way that frees us from the bondage and guilt we so often feel when we don't measure up. God has forgiven us. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Under that umbrella of no condemnation, we can “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Musings on Faith and Life -- 4

So far in my musings about the meaning and purpose of life, I have tried to show that there is a God who exists and that he is greater than all that we can imagine and he created and owns everything and doesn't need our advice and counsel to figure out how to run the world. The second thing we looked at is the Bible's teaching that God's purpose for all he does is his glory. We were created by him in his image in order to reflect his glory and majesty and when we get side-tracked from that we lose our focus and then find ourselves without meaning and purpose. Finally I tried to explain the Bible's point of view that all of us have sinned against God by not acknowledging him and by not being thankful for his provisions for us and finally disobeying his just commands.

Most people view God as being a kind old man who doesn't really expect much of us. He wants us to be happy and helps us now and then but pretty much stays out of our way. When it comes to some sort of final judgment, God realizes that we all pretty much do our best and nodding his approval, welcomes us into his home. The problem with this is that it is not at all the way the Bible describes God. The Bible describes God as being a just God. Being just means that he cannot just ignore sins against him. He loves people, but in that loving, his character of justice cannot simply overlook sin. Think about it this way. How would you feel about a judge who let the same criminal go over and over because he really liked the guy. Suppose the criminal was in court for his 50th murder in the act of committing a robbery. Would you be pretty content with that judge if he just keep letting this man go because he was a nice guy and was really likeable? We all know that such a judge is not just and should be removed from the bench. And yet we are hoping that God is like that judge.

The God presented to us in the Bible is completely just and will not overlook sin. He has already demonstrated that to us in this world by putting all creation under a curse. We know something is wrong. We have a sense about how people should ideally get along, and yet we see so much abuse, fighting and killing in the world that we know something is wrong. We picture what an idyllic garden should be like and yet there are constant attacks on that garden by weeds and pests of one kind or another. We are trying to grow a few beautiful roses right up next to our sunroom and suddenly one morning every bud was gone. A deer had come up to the house and had eaten every bud that was available. That same deer has to be careful to avoid being attacked by a predator or killed by a hunter or run over by a car.

We know things are not like we think they should be and it's not because we're just lazy and want an easy life. We know things are out of whack somehow. The Bible explains that God cursed the ground because of us – because of our sin. Paul writes in the book of Romans, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”

So my thoughts today are aimed at understanding that God is a just God and he will and has responded to our sin and disobedience with appropriate punishment.

Numbers 14:18 “He will by no means clear the guilty.”

Ezekiel 18:4 “The soul that sins shall die.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”

Next time we'll look at God's solution to our problem.