Monthly Archives: March 2012

Myriad Mercies

Lamentations 3:21-33

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.”

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The Love of God

Here’s a heart-throbbing sermon on God’s love (John 3:11-18) by Jason Meyer, the man who will likely succeed John Piper as the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church. You can read more about him here.

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Praying Biblical Prayers for Your Spouse & Children

Praying Biblical Prayers for Those You Love

There is no discipline more important than prayer. Here’s a great guide for praying biblical prayers for your spouse (or future spouse), and/or brothers and sisters in Christ. There’s also a great guide for praying for your children. Andrew Case has done an incredible job of modeling how to use Scripture to inform the way that we pray for those most important to us. I recommend that you either pick up the books, or download the free pdf, kindle, or nook versions here: His Magnificence Prayer Guides.

Prayer Guide for Husbands:

Water of the Word: Intercession for Her

 

“Andrew Case has provided an ingenious and glorious tool for Christian husbands, one that has the potential of binding husbands and wives ever closer together while these prayers seek more intimate relationship between their wives and their God. By employing themes, principles, promises, and pleas from Scripture itself, Case has crafted hundreds of rich and meaningful prayers that any and every Christian husband can pray for his own wife.” -BRUCE A. WARE Professor of Christian Theology (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

 

Prayer Guide for Wives:

Prayers of An Excellent Wife: Intercession for Him 

“God sees when women kneel in prayer for their husbands, and Prayers of an Excellent Wife provides the reader with all the scriptural principles and language needed to cover a man with powerful intercession—prayers so effective, they’ll resonate throughout his life.”  -JONI EARECKSON TADA (Joni and Friends International Disability Center)

Prayer Guide for Parents:

Setting Their Hope in God: Intercession for Your Children

This book, drawn mostly right from Holy Scripture, can be a spur to your family to get off the couch and away from the television and on your knees praying for the salvation and welfare of your children.” -RUSSEL D. MOORE (Author of Adopted for Life; Senior Vice President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

“Andrew Case has provided parents with a powerful tool: the Word of God turned to prayer–specifically for their children…. this book will encourage, inspire, and strengthen anyone who wants to learn to grow in dependence on God, or–in other words–prayer.” SALLY LLOYD-JONES (Bestselling author of The Jesus Storybook Bible)

Being the servant that he is, Andrew Case has made the books available at a significant discount–as well as free pdf, kindle, or nook downloads. You can access them here: www.HisMagnificence.com.

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Prayers of A Desperate Heart

We have few greater needs than the Spirit of God filling us with His power, wisdom, and grace. We cannot live apart from God’s presence guiding and sustaining us. Yet, we rarely acknowledge our need of Him. This deficiency is evidenced in how little we practice the most self-denying action possible: prayer. There is no glory for self in private prayer. It’s a most difficult and crucifying work that makes us weary and yet provides power and grace beyond anything we could imagine. In fact, it could be said that prayer is the clearest measure of our spiritual maturity and devotion. A lack of prayer reveals a lack of grace and a lack of dependence upon the One who gives it. This sermon by Paul Washer was a deep cut to my heart and one that I pray will leave me scarred for years to come. It’s worth your time. May it provoke you to a spirit of prayer in the ways that it has stirred up fresh passion in mine.

Thanks, Brother Washer for serving us so well!!

“You Alone” by David Crowder Band

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Living in Light of Eternity

Living in Light of Eternity

Colossians 3:1-17If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Make Each Day Count

I thought this quote was piercing, even though I think God will shield believers in eternity from feeling the painful memories of sins committed and endured in this life:

“A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity… The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever… Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone [and] indelibly marked.” – Adoniram Judson
Thanks to a new Facebook friend for posting this quote!!

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More Than Watchmen for the Morning

(Photo Source)

Psalm 130

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.”

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Make War: Walk by the Spirit

The Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battlefield. Those who desire victory must wage war against the sinful flesh!

The Crucified Life (Galatians 5:16-26):

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Engaging the Battle, One Inch At A Time

“After detection and, if necessary, detoxification, the work begins. Many families, friends, and churches err at this point. Sin, slavery, and idolatry do not go away overnight. There is a Christian myth that change is an event rather than a process; that it is more like a light switch that is turned on than a battle that must be engaged. For some reason, we tend to think–wrongly–that immediate liberation from the slavery of addiction [and I would add, sinful patterns] is more glamorous than the gradual process of taking a little bit of land at a time…

“We must remember that for everyone, the Christian life is an ongoing battle. It is a daily process of mortifying the flesh. We must ‘encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’ (Heb. 3:13). To our shame, Alcoholics Anonymous has a better understanding of the need for daily exhortation than the church…”[1]

Our victory against sin is not minimized because it is secured inch-by-inch, moment-by-moment. While the enormously slow process of our sanctification can be discouraging, we can rest in knowing that God will finish the work He has started (Phil. 1:6). In the meantime, we must keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Finisher of our faith, and trust that He has given us enough grace for today. We can win the battle in front of us, and we can take the Enemy’s ground inch-by-inch as we walk by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, the Hope of Glory. He has given us the grace of salvation and He will give us the grace of sanctification. May we honor Him as we walk by the Spirit and wage war against the Flesh.

Strategies for Battling Sin [2]

  • Although I had trusted in Christ, I lacked a deep grasp of the transforming power of my union with Christ.
  • I was driven by guilt, not joy. I needed a deeper satisfaction, a new affection, to expel my affections for sin.
  • My focus was more on sin avoidance than on growing in Christlike character. I needed to learn the practical power of replacing sin with grace (cf. Colossians 3:1-17).

Questions to Consider

  • Does your peace inspire anything less than hatred for your sin?
  • Is your peace rooted in logic alone, thus failing to sweeten your heart with rest and contentment in Christ?
  • Is your peace superficial, dealing only with the fruit (sinful behaviors), rather than roots (sinful motives)?
  • Does your peace focus on only one sin, while leaving the others untouched?
  • Does your peace lead to greater humility before God?
Extracting the Cancerous Marrow: “God’s terrible majesty is radiation. It X-rays a soul and shows that it’s gorged with sin… God’s radiating majesty kills the rotten marrow of sin and replaces it with humility. A heart humbled by God’s terrible majesty can begin its recovery and grow strong. Sin can’t thrive in a humble heart.” (Kris Lundgaard).[3]

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[1] Edward T. Welch, Addictions, A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2001), 113.

[2] Brian Hedges, Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual For Mortifying Sin (Adelphi: Cruciform Press, 2011), 57-59.

[3] Ibid, 62.

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Passing the Cross on the Way to the OT

Reading the Old Testament in light of Christ: “…Christian students of the Old Testament must pass by the cross of Jesus Christ on their return to the Old Testament, and as such they can never lose their identity as a Christian.”[1]

While we must keep all of Scripture in proper context, we cannot read the Old Testament as Jesus and the Apostles did unless we see the person and work of Christ promised and anticipated there (Cf. Luke 24:13-53; 1Peter 1:10-12). They read it in light of the redemptive-historical context. Let us, therefore, learn to see all of Scripture in a responsible, gospel-focused way that has Christ, and the redemption that He secured, at its center.

Here’s a sermon by Matt Harmon to whet your appetite (“A Salvation Long Ago Foretold” -1Peter 1:10-12).

[See Reading the Bible in Light of the Whole Story“Christ-centered approach to Scripture”, Paradigm for Reading Scripture in a Gospel-Focused Way, “Seeing the Gospel in Every Text Series” and Preaching the Gospel to Myself Everyday.]

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[1] Willem VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption: The Story of Salvation from Creation to the New Jerusalem (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 21 (emphasis in the original), as contained in Graham Cole, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

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Holiness of Heart: Christ in Us

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

From the diary of Jonathan Edwards:

“Holiness… it seemed to me, brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness and ravishment to the soul; and that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers; that is all pleasant, delightful and undisturbed; enjoying a sweet calm, and the gently vivifying beams of the sun. The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote [in] my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the year; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun’s glory; rejoicing as it were in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly in the midst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun. There was no part of creature-holiness that I then, and at other times, had so great a sense of loveliness of, as humility, brokenness of heart and poverty of spirit: and there was nothing that I had such a spirit to long for. My heart as it were panted after this, to lie low before God, and in the dust: that I might be nothing, and that God might be all; that I might become as a little child.” [1]

May the Spirit make us “pure in heart” so that we can see God and reflect His glory in humility, brokenness, and spiritual poverty–that in our weakness He manifests His power and wisdom and grace. We long to see the radiance of the Son, and display the beauty of His holiness in our hearts and lives. We have nothing, except that which has been given to us. Lord, give us the holiness of Jesus, that we might be set apart to You!

[1] Samuel Hopkins, The Life and Character of the Late Reverend Mr. Jonathan Edwards (Boston, 1765), 29-30, as quoted in T.M. Moore, Pursuing Holiness in the Lord: Jonathan Edwards (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2005), 2.

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Fullness of Joy

Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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Worthy of Death

Anything worth living for must also be worth dying for… May we learn to live faithfully and vehemently for Christ, so that when the time comes, we may die gracefully and confidently for Him.[1]

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. 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…” Philippians 1:18-27

May our hearts beat for Christ alone so that we long to see Him exalted among every tribe and tongue and nation. May we long for every soul to be in His saving presence for eternity. Let us live in such a way that the nations of the earth find us to be the aroma of Christ–the aroma of death to the perishing and the aroma of life to the redeemed. Lord Jesus, come, have Your way among us through the power of Your Spirit!! We love You and praise God the Father for You!!

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[1] “There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.” – Elizabeth Elliott

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Murdering My Corruptions

CRUCIFIED with CHRIST

“For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me… And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires… But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 2:19-20; 5:24

The Christian life is a crucified one whereby the Spirit of God leads us to murder our corrupt nature. He enables us to starve the flesh and empowers us to make war with the sinful passions that previously consumed us. By His strength and wisdom, we become increasingly renewed so that our behavior reflects our status as redeemed sons and daughters of God. However, we know that our battles with the flesh are painful and costly and won slowly, inch-by-inch, as we fight the good fight of faith.

Commenting on our sinful tendency to reflect worldliness rather than holiness, Brian Hedges writes: “We don’t bear the fruit of holiness because the roots of repentance have not gone deep enough.”[1] The problem is that instead of hating our sin, we love it and dread giving it up. John Stott provides an illustration that pictures our grotesque love affair with sin and calls us to put an end to it:

“It is as if, having nailed our old nature to the cross, we keep wistfully returning to the scene of its execution. We begin to fondle it, to caress it, to long for its release, even to try to take it down again from the cross. We need to learn to leave it there. When some jealous, or proud, or malicious, or impure thought invades our mind we must kick it out at once. It is fatal to begin to examine it and consider whether we are going to give in to it or not. We have declared war on it; we are not going to resume negotiations. We have settled the issue for good; we are not going to re-open it. We have crucified the flesh; we are never going to draw the nails.”[2]

 May we learn to embrace the crucified life with the joy and faith of adopted sons and daughters who are no longer enslaved to their former masters!!

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[1] Brian Hedges, Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin (Adelphi: Cruciform Press, 2011), 76. I highly recommend this book as a brief synopsis of the best instructions from John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin.

[2] John R.W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1984), 151-152, as cited in Brian Hedges, Licensed to Kill, 76-77.

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