Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
May 26, 2008 By: John Piper Category: Commentary
One of the mercies of God that keeps me believing in him is that none of the events of history or of the news today, which seem to contradict God’s character, contradict God’s Word.
In other words, there are no surprise sins or surprise calamities in this world for those who know their Bibles.
The reason this sustains faith is that, if the very book that tells me about God’s wisdom and power and justice and love also tells me of the worst seeming contradictions of his character, then either I never should have believed the God of this book, or I shouldn’t lose my faith now.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.
How do we reconcile the fact that God is sovereign with the fact that he has given us free will as persons?
I want to start with what Kristin said (via email), "we are bound to our nature...we either have new nature (that pursues Christ) or a sinful, unregenerate nature that pursues sin. Within those two natures is where this article falls..."
How do we reconcile the fact that God is sovereign with the fact that he has given us free will as persons?
(by R.C. Sproul)
I don't see any problem in reconciling the sovereignty of God with man's free will as long as we understand the biblical concept of freedom. With respect to mankind, human beings are given the ability to make free choices, but our freedom is a limited freedom. We are not absolutely free. Remember, God said to Adam and Eve, "You may eat of all of the trees in the Garden." But then he added a restriction: "Of this tree you may not eat. If you do, you will surely die."
Now, God is a being who has the ability to make free choices, and I am a being who has the ability to make free choices. The difference, however, is that I am not sovereign. God is sovereign. God has more authority than I do. God has the right and the power and the authority to do whatsoever he pleases. I have the power and the ability and the freedom to do those things that I can do, but my freedom can never override the power or the authority of God. My freedom is always limited by the higher freedom of God. What is a contradiction is God's sovereignty and human autonomy. Autonomy means that man can do whatever he wants without being worried about judgment from on high. Obviously those two are incompatible, and we do not believe that man is autonomous. We say that he is free, but his freedom is within limits, and those limits are defined by the sovereignty of God. This is a simple analogy: In my house I have more freedom than my son. We both have freedom, but mine is greater.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.'-Psalm 138:8
Most manifestly the confidence which the Psalmist here expressed was a divine confidence. He did not say, 'I have grace enough to perfect that which concerneth me-my faith is so steady that it will not stagger-my love is so warm that it will never grow cold-my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it; no, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion. All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein. The Psalmist was wise, he rested upon nothing short of the Lord's work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is He who has carried it on; and if he does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do. Unbelief insinuates- 'You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart, you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you, you will be certainly allured by them and led astray.' Ah! yes, we should indeed perish if left to our own strength. If we had alone to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but, thanks be to God, He will perfect that which concerneth us, and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in Him alone, and never too much concerned to have such a trust.
May 26th, 2008
(By John MacArthur)
Oh, if you have the hearts of Christians or of men in you, let them yearn towards your poor ignorant, ungodly neighbors. Alas, there is but a step betwixt them and death and hell; many hundred diseases are waiting ready to seize on them, and if they die unregenerate, they are lost forever. Have you hearts of rock, that cannot pity men in such a case as this? If you believe not the Word of God, and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves? If you do believe it, why do you not bestir yourself to the helping of others? (cited in I.D.E. Thomas, ed., A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], 92)
Walking Worthy of the Vocation
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3
Paul emphasizes our need to "walk worthy" and to walk "circumspectly" before others, so, to whatever vocation we have been called, our lives will be a consistent witness to the love and grace of our Lord. So often, in our desire to excel and spiritually achieve, we find ourselves striving and struggling to make things happen. Then comes an encounter with God that changes the focus of our lives. The Holy Spirit makes it clear that if anything is going to be accomplished in living a triumphant life, in having a fruitful ministry, in giving an effective testimony that will count for eternity...the Holy Spirit must do that work through us. We cannot initiate, sustain, or make our lives spiritually effective apart from the Spirit of God reigning sovereign in our life.
Dr. Raymond Edman, in his book "They Found the Secret," writes of Hudson Taylor, the great missionary that opened China to the gospel. He labored for years, frustrated with the many administrative details, organizational problems, language barriers, and the burden of reaching the lost of China with the gospel. One day he received a letter from a friend and fellow missionary. He, too, had gone through the trying experiences of striving and struggling. His friend encouraged him to "turn his life and ministry over to the Lord and let God do His work through him." He cried out to the Lord, "I see it now!" It's not by striving after faith, but by resting in the faithful One. It's letting Christ "work in me" to do His will, trusting Him for present power, living in the conscious joy of a complete salvation. Living in the realization of His unfathomable fullness of my life in His hands. It was no longer Hudson Taylor striving and struggling to make things happen, it was "Christ in him" that makes it all effective, through the free and full working of the Holy Spirit. Life was never the same after that! Three things characterized Hudson Taylor's life after his encounter with God. His walk was a "walk of faith," where there was complete dependence upon God for everything. It was a "walk after the Spirit," where there was daily submission to His sovereign control. And finally, he sought to appropriate the resources of God's grace that were his in Christ. He began to put into practice the essence of his faith.
When we so walk, Paul says four things will be evident: We will walk in LOWLINESS, an attitude of humility and submission to God. We will walk in MEEKNESS, which implies controlled strength; our attitude will be under His control as we are encountering the most demanding circumstances. Our walk will be marked with LONGSUFFERING; we will patiently endure without irritation, even when we are treated wrong. We do not surrender to circumstances or yield to despondency. FORBEARING ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE will characterize our walk as we lovingly respond to all that is disagreeable in others. Only as we "walk worthy," letting Christ fill our cup to overflowing, will His life "spill out" to others to be an encouragement, a blessing, and a challenge! Oh, fill me anew with Your holy presence that my life will reflect the virtues of the Lord of my life!
Monday, May 26, 2008
(This post from last year expresses our continued gratitude for all troops still in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families waiting at home. Thank you for another year of heroic sacrifice on behalf of all of us.)
Posted by Nicole Whitacre on May 26, 2008 at 08:59 AM Permalink
by C.J. Mahaney 5/23/2008 3:40:00 PM
You’ve probably seen the Walt Disney World brochure, the one where the family is capped with Mickey Mouse ears, standing for a photo op with the Cinderella Castle rising in the background skyline and exploding fireworks raining down to celebrate the conclusion of a fun-filled day. Huge smiles are present on each face. But if you’ve ever been to Disney you know that this family can be hard to find. Many of the families at Disney appear quite different than what you see on the brochure.
What does your family look like on vacation?
What a family looks like—what a family experiences on a vacation—is largely determined by the father’s attitude and leadership prior to and during the vacation....
Here’s what I’ve learned. The difference between forgettable vacations and unforgettable vacations is not the location or attractions. Nope. The difference between forgettable and unforgettable vacations is the father’s attitude and leadership. This makes all the difference.
Family vacations provide a unique opportunity each year for fathers to create memories their children will never forget. Memories that will last a lifetime. Memories that will be recreated by your children with your grandchildren. Memories that will outlive a father. But in order to create these memories, a father must be diligent to serve and lead during a vacation. How a father views his role on a vacation will make all the difference in the vacation.
So in this season where family vacations are being carefully planned and eagerly anticipated, I thought it might be helpful if I passed along seven lessons I’ve learned over the years, in hopes that your family vacation will be a God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making time together.
1. A Servant Heart
2. A Tone-Setting Attitude
3. An Awareness of Indwelling Sin
4. Studying Your Family
5. Skillful Surprises
6. Intentionally Together
7. Gratefulness to God
On to the first lesson....
who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!
“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
“The LORD is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!
“Forever, O LORD, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.
"Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:1-16, 57-64, 89-104. ESV.)
Monday, May 19, 2008
Listen Watch Download
But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
You don't have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity, you don't have to have a high IQ or EQ; you don't have to have to have good looks or riches; you don't have to come from a fine family or a fine school. You have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them.
But I know that not everybody in this crowd wants your life to make a difference. There are hundreds of you - you don't care whether you make a lasting difference for something great, you just want people to like you. If people would just like you, you'd be satisfied. Of if you could just have good job with a good wife and a couple good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and quick and easy death and no hell - if you could have that (minus God) - you'd be satisfied. THAT is a tragedy in the making....
I tell you what a tragedy is. I'll read to you from Reader's Digest (Feb. 2000, p. 98) what a tragedy is: "Bob and Penny... took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells." The American Dream: come to the end of your life - your one and only life - and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator, be "I collected shells. See my shells." THAT is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I get forty minutes to plead with you: don't buy it.
Don't waste your life. It is so short and so precious. I grew up in a home where my father spent himself as an evangelist to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. He had one consuming vision: Preach the gospel. There was a plaque in our kitchen for all my growing up years. Now it hangs in our living room. I have looked at it almost daily for about 48 years. It says, "Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.
Friday, May 16, 2008
God’s Plan for the Gay Agenda
May 16th, 2008
(By John MacArthur)
How should you respond to the success of the gay agenda? Should you accept the recent trend toward tolerance? Or should you side with those who exclude homosexuals with hostility and disdain?
Homosexual advocates have been remarkably effective in selling their warped interpretations of passages in Scripture that address homosexuality. When you ask a homosexual what the Bible says about homosexuality—and many of them know—they have digested an interpretation that is not only warped, but also completely irrational. Pro-homosexual arguments from the Bible are nothing but smokescreens—as you come close, you see right through them.
- In the patriarchs (Genesis 19:1-28)
- In the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)
- In the Prophets (Ezekiel 16:46-50)
- In the New Testament (Romans 1:18-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Jude 7-8)
Why, then, have homosexual interpretations of Scripture been so successful at persuading so many? Simple: people want to be convinced. Since the Bible is so clear about the issue, sinners have had to defy reason and embrace error to quiet their accusing consciences (Romans 2:14-16). As Jesus said, “Men loved the darkness rather than the Light, [because] their deeds were evil” (John 3:19-20).
So, what is God’s response to the homosexual agenda?