Monthly Archives: December 2011
This is an excellent article and video worth watching…
A medical scientist sketches human development from conception to birth and describes the intricate structure of the human body in a way that clearly reflects divine creation, “Tsiaras claims that the developing human body is ‘so perfectly organized a structure that it was hard not to attribute divinity to it.’”
Incredibly fascinating–watch the video here!!
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
(Psalm 139:14-16 ESV)
30 Pieces or Less: While Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, my wretched heart has often sold Him for less…
How can we trust Him so little and find the world so attractive? Our foolish hearts would drink poison if they could–were it not for the Living Water who does not allow His precious Bride to remain thirsty or drink from broken cisterns.
Praise God that His steadfast love endures forever, and that His love for us is rooted in His faithfulness, not ours. Oh, how sweet to know the patient love of Jesus who purchased His bride back from harlotry. We are an unfaithful people and we shall never fully know the depth of His love on this side of eternity–but when we finally see our Savior face-to-face, we shall see Him as He is and know the full measure of His steadfast love!! What a beautiful day that will be…
The book of Hosea portrays the story of a prophet instructed to marry a prostitute–and the story boggles our minds except for the fact that we see Israel, ourselves, and our Savior in it. God was making a point–His people had prostituted themselves with sin, and while He had covenanted Himself with them, they ran back to their former, promiscuous way of life. Yet, in His mercy, God buys us back–a truth demonstrated through the self-denying, heart-breaking, and longsuffering love that Hosea had for His blemished bride:
Hosea 3:1-3 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”
Anthony Selvaggio: “Do you see what’s going on here? Hosea marries Gomer and she eventually leaves him to continue practicing her adultery. She ends up being sold as a slave. So does God say to Hosea, ‘Let her go, she’s getting what she deserves’? No, to the contrary, God commands Hosea to go and buy her back!
“Now just pause and think about this for a moment. Hosea is being asked to walk into the town square and buy his wife back at an auction. Do you know how a woman slave was sold at an auction? All of her clothes were removed so that the buyers could see the merchandise. Hosea had to bear the indignity of entering into a crowd of men gazing at his undressed wife. If that was not enough, he also had to bid for her! He had to bid for his own wife!
“…Why did God make Hosea endure such personal hardship? It is because God transmitted his message not only through Hosea’s words, but through his life as well… He was trying to teach Israel that they were Gomer, the unfaithful and adulterous wife.”
“For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.”
Check out this post (“Harlots at Heart”) to read of the redeeming love of Jesus that saves and changes us!!
Lord, we have been an unfaithful people and we have wandered into our former ways of life. Yet, you have loved us with an everlasting love and pursued us with patience. You bore our shame and nakedness, and suffered on our account. You purchased us with the greatest price, so that we might experience your mercy and forgiveness. You welcomed us into Your home with tenderness and love. You have dwelled in us so that we might dwell with you. Forgive us, Lord, for chasing other lovers. May you ruin our hearts for the things of this world, and help us to find satisfaction in You.
 Anthony Selvaggio, The Prophets Speak of Him: Encountering Jesus in the Minor Prophets (Webster: Evangelical Press, 2006), 18.
Our God is Glorious and Praiseworthy in All Things–He is the Giver of Sight
In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus cured a blind man named Bartimaeus. While known as a blind beggar, Bartimaeus had the eyes of faith that most seeing men did not have. As a result of his faith, Jesus healed him. The same is true for us, the spiritual realities precede the physical realities that will ultimately be fulfilled in glory. Bartimaeus was a picture for us of Jesus giving the eyes of faith followed by the sight necessary to see Him and be like Him. One day our faith shall be made sight… and oh what a glorious day that will be. I watched this wonderful video on Justin Taylor’s blog, and it caused me to praise God for the faith of Bartimaeus, as well as Christopher Duffley.
Justin Taylor writes: “10-year-old Christopher Duffley was born premature, blind, and autistic, and was adopted by his parents at 15 months of age. God has given him the gift of music.” This video is worth your time:
HT: Justin Taylor
God works sovereignly, whether through ordinary or extraordinary means. While reading some material on the topic of hermeneutics, I came across the following paragraphs which I found helpfully clarifying on the topic of God’s miraculous providence.
Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text, 39-40:
“The Bible, however does not set God and nature over against each other as two autonomous entities. On the contrary, nature is God’s handiwork which responds obediently to his bidding: ‘He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly,’ and God’s creation responds with snow, ice, or rain–whatever God’s word calls for (Ps. 147:15-18; cf. 148:8). Hence the regular patterns we observe in creation are not immutable laws of autonomous nature but rather creation’s regular responses to the constancy of God’s words or laws (see Gen. 8:22). The sovereign God is not locked into these regular patterns, however; he is free, naturally, to vary his word, and then creation responds in unique ways.
“It must also be recognized that according to the Bible God performs many of his miracles by ‘natural’ means. For example, the miraculous conception of Samuel to the barren Hannah came about by quite natural means: ‘Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her’ (1 Sam 1:19). Similarly, the miracle of Israel crossing the Sea of Reeds on dry ground was accomplished by natural means: ‘The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land’ (Exod 14:21). Later, the crossing of the Jordan may well have been made possible by a landslide at Adam blocking the water of the Jordan, thus drying up the riverbed opposite Jericho (Josh 3:16). Should we deny that these were miracles because the Bible points to so-called natural causes? But then we may overlook that God works in regular, natural ways as well as unique ways, mediately as well as immediately. It is clear, moreover, that Israel celebrated these events as miracles not because they ‘violated natural law’ but because they were unexpected and therefore surprising; the timing of these events clearly revealed God at work. Hence these miracles were perceived as fulfillment of God’s prior promises or his answer to prayer. As Goldingay notes with respect to the Exodus, ‘The marvel was not essentially something quite inexplicable, but something quite unexpected. It intervened to break the bounds of what could have been envisaged in the situation, and Israel responded with wonder.
“Another problem with defining miracles as ‘violations of natural law’ is that this definition overlooks that fact that we now live in a fallen creation where, for example, enslavement, sickness, and death appear to be natural. Is it indeed the case that liberation, healing, and resurrection from the dead are contrary to the ‘laws of nature’? They may be contrary to what we have come to expect in this world, but from the perspective of God’s good creation and his coming kingdom, enslavement, sickness, and death are unnatural, and liberation, healing, and eternal life are natural (Gen 2-3; Rev 21:4). From that perspective, then, miracles are not to be seen as ‘unnatural’ but as signs of God’s kingdom breaking into our fallen world, provisional indications of the restoration of God’s creation to its original goodness.
“Accordingly, miracles should be thought of not as ‘violations of natural law’ but as outstanding, exceptional acts of God, signs which point to God’s power and faithfulness (cf. Ps 107:20), events which create a sense of wonder. In agreement with biblical teaching, miracles have been defined as occasional evidences of direct divine power in actions striking and unusual, yet by their ‘beneficence pointing to the goodness of God.’ Miracles, in short, are signs of God’s kingdom.”
I think Greidanus makes a convincing case for using more precise language when speaking of God’s activity in our world. Instead of speaking of miracles as being God’s intervention (or reversal of our normal circumstances), it would be better to distinguish between the ordinary (normative, expected) and extraordinary (unusual, unexpected) activity of God. In both cases, He uses His created means to accomplish His purpose–whether we deem it natural or supernatural, it’s ultimately the activity of God. Many of us have spoken, erroneously, of God intervening in human affairs during miracles–as though He were conspicuously absent from any involvement in the world when “miracles” are not taking place. The reality is that He is always actively engaged in the created order, but He generally goes unnoticed (except for those who look at His meticulous providence with the eyes of faith) since His activity works through “natural order” where God resides “behind the scenes.”
However, in the case of “miracles” God works “front and center” rather than “behind the scenes,” and performs unexpected outcomes through various means (weather patterns, human body’s healing capacity, or even the unexplained ‘supernatural’ means, etc) that appear natural but are always supernatural in the sense that God ordains them. It’s just a matter of how much we recognize God in His hidden providence of ordinary activity (natural order) and His visible providence of extraordinary activity (miracles). After all, God created everything, and He holds all things together (Gen 1; Col 1), whether He chooses to work in expected, ordinary means or unexpected extraordinary ones..
May God give us the eyes of faith to see His mighty actions in everything around us from the breath we draw to the snow that falls to the unexpected healing of someone stricken with terminal cancer!! And may we worship Him as completely good and sovereign even when He chooses not to display His power in such wondrous and extraordinary ways.
 Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature (Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans Publishers, 1988), 39-40. Greidanus aslo has some wonderful stuff on the topic of preaching Christ from the Old Testament: Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, Preaching Christ from Genesis, Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes.
This post, by Ray Ortlund, provided a clear picture of every sinner’s heart–of my heart–apart from God’s marvelous, matchless grace. Since I found it so convicting and praise-inspiring, I decided to share it with you:
“When we take the history of a child of God, compressed within the short period of a single day — mark what flaws, what imperfections, what fickleness, what dereliction in principle, what flaws in practice, what errors in judgment and what wanderings of heart make up that brief history — how we are led to thank God for the stability of the covenant, that covenant which provides for the full redemption of all believers, which from eternity secures the effectual calling, the perfect keeping and certain salvation of every chosen vessel of mercy!”
Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul (London, 1962), page 169.
Praise God for His cleansing, covenant-keeping love that is steadfast despite our wandering hearts that stray from His grace. We are beggars hungry for bread, and so often, we are willing to eat the rottenness of this fallen world rather than enjoy the soul-satisfying Bread of Life that has already been served up for us! Oh, that we might finally learn to taste and see that He is good!!
HT: Thanks, Dr. Ortlund for the scrumptious quote.
I have been LOVING this new album, The Gathering, recently released by Sovereign Grace Ministries. The lyrics are incredible–convicting, compelling, and refreshing–and they make it painful for my heart to not worship. All that I want to do is respond to the glory and grace of God by praising Him for all that He is and all that He does for His people.
To whet your appetite, here are two of the featured songs (one is upbeat and the other more reflective):
Listen to “Shine into Our Night” (and read the lyrics) by clicking on the link.
Listen to “Generous King” (and read the lyrics) by clicking on the link.
You can purchase the album on Amazon, Itunes, or at SGM.