Sunday, June 29, 2008

" Looking unto Jesus" Hebrews 12:2

Spurgeon Devotional
"Looking unto Jesus."
Hebrews 12:2

It is ever the Holy Spirit's work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan's work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus." All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that "Christ is all in all." Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee-it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument-it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by "looking unto Jesus." Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.

"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Apologize



I'm holding on your rope,
Got me ten feet off the ground
I'm hearin what you say but I just can't make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down, but wait
You tell me that you're sorry
Didn't think I'd turn around, and say...
It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late

I'd take another chance, take a fall
Take a shot for you
And I need you like a heart needs a beat
But it's nothin new
I loved you with a fire red-
Now it's turning blue, and you say...
"Sorry" like the angel heaven let me think was you
But I'm afraid...
It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late

Bridge (guitar/piano)

It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late
It's too late to apologize, yeah
I said it's too late to apologize, yeah-
I'm holdin on your rope, got me ten feet off the ground...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Cry for Deliverance

Heavenly Father,
Save me entirely from sin.
I know I am righteous through the righteousness of another,
but I pant and pine for likeness to thyself;
I am thy child and should bear thy image,
Enable me to recognize my death unto sin;
When it temps me may I be deaf unto its voice.
Deliver me from the invasion as well as the dominion of sin.
Grant me to walk as Christ walked,
to live in the newness of his life,
the life of love, the life of faith,
the life of holiness.
I abhor my body of death,
its indolence, envy, meanness, pride.
Forgive, and kill these vices,
have mercy on my unbelief,
on my corrupt and wandering heart.
When thy blessings come I begin to idolize them,
and set my affection on some beloved object –
children, friends, wealth, honour;
Cleanse this spiritual adultery and give me chastity;
close my heart to all but thee.
Sin is my greatest curse;
Let thy victory be apparent to my consciousness,
and displayed in my life.
Help me to be always devoted, confident, obedient,
resigned, childlike in my trust of thee,
to love thee with soul, body, mind, strength,
to love my fellow-man as I love myself,
to be saved from unregenerate temper, hard thoughts,
slanderous words, meanness, unkind manners,
to master my tongue and keep the door of my lips.
Fill me with grace daily,
that my life be a fountain of sweet water.

(The Banner of Truth Trust, VALLEY OF VISION: A COLLECTION OF PURITAN PRAYERS & DEVOTIONS. Page 92.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Never, Never, Never Give Up

Again, this comes to me from Tania. I am ever so thankful that God has placed you in my life, Tania, and that He has placed it on your heart to share this with me. Thank you.

Never, Never, Never Give Up
http://stillreforming.blogspot.com/

This past Sunday, our pastor covered the "parable of the soils" found in Luke 8. Out of this, I came away with three reasons why we shouldn't give up on evangelizing people.

1) The sower's job is to sow the seed indiscriminately.

Our pastor told us that parables almost always have something included that is a surprise. It is that element of surprise that we need to pay close attention to, because it is usually central to the parable.

In the case of this parable, the surprise element is that the sower is not picky at all where he sows the seed. He scatters seed on all four of the different soils.

You don't have to be a farmer to know this is odd. Anyone who has every planted a garden or some flowers knows that good soil is the key to growth. I doubt anyone would consider trying to plant a tree in the middle of their driveway, a rose garden on their front porch, or their cherry tomatoes on the sidewalk. Instead, you are going to put these plants in the ground where they will grow.

So this picture may seem a little odd to us at first, even though we can clearly see and acknowledge that it is true. From the picture of this parable, as well as other places in Scripture, it's clear that we are commanded to preach the gospel to everyone. The next two points clarify the first.

2) We must sow the seed this way, because we can't know what kind of soil we are sowing on.

The sower isn't digging furrows, he's casting seed out. If you've ever spread grass seed, then you know that some of it will end up on the driveway, some in the street, some in that one dead spot that seems to kill everything, and some in the yard. The sower doesn't really know where an individual seed goes, and he doesn't care. He won't even know whether some ground is too rocky, too thorny, or just right, because most likely he will be gone by the time that seed actually starts to grow.

For all these reasons, there is no way to know what kind of soil a person is, so we must focus on simply sharing the gospel.

3) God ultimately determines who is saved.

If we were to look at the Apostle Paul (or rather Saul the Pharisee), most likely we would have judged him as the wrong kind of person. The same with many other followers of God throughout the Bible. Ultimately, we are all just dirt trodden down into the hard path that nothing will penetrate. It is God who ultimately turns that hard dirt into soil that is able to grow things. It is God through His Word that turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

So it is up to us, as faithful followers, to go out and spread the seed of the gospel to everyone we meet, regardless of the likelihood of their conversion, trusting God that He will till the soil, and cultivate the life that Peter describes as being "born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, thought the living and abiding word of God."

http://stillreforming.blogspot.com/

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thinking Biblically

(By John MacArthur)

Biblical DiscernmentIn its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.

First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer — it is required. The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living — a certain recipe for compromise.

Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word, and they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior. In short, they are not armed to take a decidedly biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them throughout their day.

Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God’s Word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue of life. According to Peter, God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). You see, it is through the “true knowledge of Him,” that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God’s granting “to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

Discernment — the ability to think biblically about all areas of life — is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon the Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth! Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).


Why Biblical Christianity Is Intolerable in an Age of "Tolerance"

Thank you Tania for emailing this to me.

Why Biblical Christianity Is Intolerable in an Age of “Tolerance”
(by John MacArthur)
http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/10176

In these postmodern times, tolerance is the supreme virtue of the public square. Tolerant people can be broad thinkers, open-minded, and charitable to every worldview—every worldview, that is, except biblical Christianity. The authoritative demands of Jesus Christ are beyond the threshold of postmodern tolerance.

In this postmodern era, one virtue is esteemed above all others: tolerance. As a matter of fact, tolerance may soon be the only virtue secular society will embrace. Many traditional virtues (including humility, self-control, and chastity) have already fallen out of public favor and in some quarters are openly scorned or even regarded as transgressions.

Instead, with the beatification of tolerance, what was once forbidden is now encouraged. What was once universally deemed immoral is now celebrated. Marital infidelity and divorce have been normalized. Profanity is commonplace. Abortion, homosexuality, and moral perversions of all kinds are championed by large advocacy groups and tacitly encouraged by the popular media. The modern notion of “tolerance” is systematically turning morality on its head.

Just about the only remaining taboo is the naive and politically incorrect notion that another person’s “alternative lifestyle,” religion, or different perspective is wrong.

One major exception to that rule stands out starkly: it is OK to be intolerant of biblical Christianity. In fact, those who fancy themselves the leading advocates of religious tolerance today are often the most outspoken opponents of evangelical Christianity. A classic example of this is the Web site at religioustolerance.org. Page after page at that Web site lambastes Bible-based Christianity. It is one of the most bitterly anti-Christian sites on the World Wide Web.

Why is that? Why does authentic biblical Christianity find such ferocious opposition among today’s self-styled champions of “religious tolerance”?

It is because Christianity is diametrically opposed to the postmodern ideas that have made this an age of “tolerance.” Here are six key concepts that set Christianity in opposition to the very spirit of our age:

1. Objectivity
True Christianity starts from the premise that there is a source of truth outside of us. God’s Word is truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). It is objectively true—meaning it is true whether it speaks subjectively to any given individual or not; it is true regardless of how anyone feels about it; it is true in an absolute sense.

Of course this existential generation finds such a view utterly distasteful. People prefer to seek truth inside themselves. If they contemplate the meaning of Scripture at all, it is usually only in terms of “what this verse means to me”—as if the message of Scripture were unique to every individual.

But authentic Christianity regards Scripture as the objective revelation of God’s truth. It is God’s Word to humanity, and its true meaning is determined by God; it is not something that can be shaped according to the preferences of individual hearers.

2. Rationality
Biblical Christianity is also based on the conviction that the objective revelation of Scripture is rational. The Bible makes good sense. It contains no contradictions, no errors, and no unsound principles. Anything that does contradict Scripture is untrue.

That sort of rationality is antithetical to the whole gist of postmodern thought. People today are taught to glorify contradiction, embrace that which is absurd, prefer that which is subjective, and let feelings (rather than intellect) determine what they believe. But such irrationality is nothing less than an overt rejection of the very concept of truth.

As Christians, we know that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). He does not contradict Himself. His truth is perfectly self-consistent. That sort of black-and-white rationality is one of the main reasons biblical Christianity is intolerable in a generation that rejects reason.

3. Veracity
Authentic Christianity is based on the conviction that God’s objective revelation (the Bible) approached rationally yields divine truth in perfectly sufficient measure. Everything we need to know for life and godliness is there for us in Scripture. We don’t need to seek principles for godly or successful living through any other source. Scripture is not only wholly truth; it is also the highest standard of all truth—the rule by which all truth-claims must be measured.

Such a conviction is the very antithesis of the postmodern notion of “tolerance.” And that is another major reason why Christianity has been targeted by the proponents of postmodern “tolerance.”

4. Authority
Because Christians believe Scripture is true, they teach its precepts with authority and without apology.

The Bible makes bold claims, and faithful Christians affirm it boldly and without compromise. That, too, is a profound threat to the “tolerance” of a society that loves its sin and thinks of compromise as a good thing.

5. Incompatibility
Scripture says, “No lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). As Christians, we know that whatever contradicts truth is by definition false. In other words, truth is incompatible with error.

Jesus Himself affirmed the utter exclusivity of Christianity. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). That sort of exclusivity is utterly incompatible with postmodern notions of “tolerance.”

Moreover, as Christians we understand that whatever opposes God’s Word or departs from it in any way is a danger to the very cause of truth. Genuine Christians therefore eschew passivity toward known error—and that too has set the postmodern defenders of “tolerance” against us.

6. Integrity
Since all of the above is true, genuine Christianity sees integrity as an essential virtue and hypocrisy as a horrible vice. Such a mind-set is virtually the antithesis of postmodern “tolerance,” and it is yet another reason our society despises our faith.

Unfortunately, the church in our generation is drifting from these fundamental convictions and has already begun to embrace postmodern ideas uncritically. Evangelicalism is quickly losing its footing, and the church is becoming more and more like the world. Fewer and fewer Christians are willing to stand against the trends, and the effects have been disastrous. Subjectivity, irrationality, worldliness, uncertainty, compromise, and hypocrisy have already become commonplace among churches and organizations that once constituted the evangelical mainstream.

The only cure, I am convinced, is a conscious, wholesale rejection of postmodern values and a return to these six distinctives of biblical Christianity. We must be faithful to guard the treasure of truth that has been entrusted to us (2 Timothy 1:14). If we do not, who will?

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/10176

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jesus Is Precious as the Foundation of the Family




(by John Piper)

March 21, 1982


Ephesians 5:21-6:9
Jesus is precious because he removes our guilt. He is precious because he gives us eternal life. And he is precious because through him we become authentic. Jesus Christ is the most important man that ever lived. To know him is more valuable than knowing all the most famous and powerful people of history. To be known and loved by him is a greater honor than if all the heads of state were to bow in your presence. When this world is over and we all stand before the judgment seat of God, many of you will look back with shame and dismay at how small was the place granted to the Son of God in your daily lives: how seldom you spoke to him, how little of his Word you learned, how half-hearted your resolve to obey, how narrow the sphere of life in which you eagerly sought his lordship. And on that day you will wonder no more why you were so unhappy in this life: unhappy at work,, unhappy in school, unhappy at church, unhappy at home. It will all come clear: half-hearted allegiance to the lordship of Christ in the practical affairs of everyday life not only robs Jesus of the honor we owe him, but also robs us of joy and purpose.

The Lordship of Christ in the Home
If it is true, as we saw last week from Romans 14:9, that Jesus desires so much to be Lord in your life that he died for that purpose, then is it not plain that in every part of your life Jesus wants to be Lord? There is no time or place or activity in your daily routine where Jesus does not want to be your owner, your provider, and your commander. And you will never know joy and authenticity in the minute by minute doing of your daily duties until you are wholly surrendered to him. That is, until you say, "Anything you say, Jesus, at work. Anything you say, Jesus, at school. Anything you say, Jesus, at church. Jesus, I will do anything, anything you say at home."

Everybody wants a happy home. And most people want a purposeful home—a home with a mission and destiny beyond the mere satisfaction of our own daily desires. We want homes where each person flowers rather than fades. Homes with the aroma of respect rather than the odor of continual belittling. Homes with laughter instead of bitterness, eye to eye conversations instead of sporadic comments, peace instead of conflict, a sense of common mission instead of festering introversion.

The importance of family life in society and church can scarcely be exaggerated. O how crucial in the development of a child's personhood is the life of his family. And not only little children—but also the lives of husbands and wives are made more or less fruitful by their experience at home. We want a happy home and a family with a purpose and a mission. And my message today is that the lordship of Jesus Christ is the only lasting foundation of such a home. Trusting Christ as Savior, surrendering to him as Lord, and orienting all of your family relations on him, transforms the home into a little heaven on earth. And even if some member of your family is not a believer, there is more grace and power for your love under the lordship of Jesus than anywhere else. He is precious as the foundation of the family.

What I want to do this morning from our text in Ephesians 5 is make one main point and illustrate it briefly in the relationship of husband and wife. The main point is this: Christian family life is a work of God's Spirit in the lives of those who do everything for Christ's sake.

A Work of God's Spirit
Ephesians 5:21–6:9 is a fairly familiar text. It deals with wives and husbands, children and fathers, slaves and masters. In a typical household of that time, those were the three dominant relationships that needed to be regulated. Paul was answering the question: what difference doers it make in a family when its members become Christians? The very existence of such a text in the New Testament (and there are several of them—Colossians 3:18–4:1; 1 Peter 2:18–3:7; Titus 2:4–10) shows that God is not indifferent about the ordinary give and take of home-life. If Christ is your Lord, he is Lord of all your daily life.

But what is not as familiar about this text is the context in which Paul puts it. Look back to verse 15: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit." And then comes a series of phrases which tell us the effect of being filled with the Spirit of God: "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father." And then most of the English versions do something that makes it very hard to see Paul's intention. They put a period or semicolon at the end of verse 20 and translate verse 21, "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." But in the original, "Be subject" is not a new sentence or a main verb. It is another participle like "addressing," "singing," "making melody," and "giving thanks." In other words, verse 21 belongs with verses 19–20 as an explanation of what it means to be filled with the Spirit in verse 18. Literally, then, the passage says: "Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord in your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." The purpose of verses 19–21 is to spell out what happens when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. In verse 19 your heart overflows in song to each other and to the Lord. Verse 20 says that thankfulness is at the center of those heart songs. And verse 21 says that when you are filled with the Spirit, you will submit to one another.

When the Holy Spirit is holding full sway in your life, then your heart brims with a song of gratitude and your heart humbly submits to serve those around you. Submitting yourself to someone means not rebelling with a sense of superiority or a feeling that you are too good to stoop and help when someone puts upon you for service. It's what Paul means when he says in Ephesians 4:1–2, "Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called in all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love." And in Romans 15:2, "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him." And Romans 12:10, "Outdo one another in showing honor." And Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in lowliness count each other better than yourselves." That kind of humility and readiness to serve rather than be served, to honor rather than be honored, is a fruit of the Spirit. And when we are filled with the Spirit, we will be submissive to each other in this way. That is the connection between verses 18 and 21.

But now comes the crucial connection with family life. Verses 22ff. are clearly an extension and application of the principle in verse 21. We know this mainly from the grammar of the text. The command in verse 22, "Wives be subject to your husbands," has no verb in the original. It simply says, "Wives to your own husbands." Which means it is a continuation of verse 21. The flow of thought then from verse 18 to 22 would be: "Be filled with the Spirit . . . submitting to each other out of reverence for Christ, wives to your own husbands as to the Lord."

So now it should be evident where I got my main point: Christian family life is a work of God's Spirit. The submission of a wife to her husband and a husband's love to his wife (vv. 22–33),the obedience of children and their nurturing by parents (6:1–4), the obedience of servants and the forbearance of masters (6:5–9) all are expansions of the principle in 5:21: "submitting to each other in reverence to Christ." And this submission in verse 21 is a description of how people act when they are filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 18). Therefore, all of Christian family life is a work of God's Spirit.

In Those Who Do Everything for Christ's Sake
But my main point had another part. I said, "Christian family life is a work of God's Spirit in the lives of those who do everything for Christ's sake." Even though the Spirit of God is free to blow where he wills, there is a God-ordained correlation between submission to Jesus as Lord and the work of the Spirit. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:3, "No one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says 'Jesus be accursed!' and no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." Wherever a person bows in humility under the lordship of Christ, there the Spirit of God is at work. It is the mission of the Spirit to exalt Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 16:14, when the Spirit comes, "He will glorify me." Therefore, when we are filled with the Spirit, we are in love with the glory of Christ and we delight to bow to him as Lord. Or to put it the other way around, if we desire to see the Spirit of God transform our family life, we must surrender totally to Jesus as Lord and turn all our daily doings into an offering of worship to him. When the Spirit reigns in your life, you do everything with a view to honoring Jesus. And in that way Jesus becomes the foundation and focus and goal of the family, and life at home is transformed.

Notice the evidence for this in the text. After commanding us to be filled with the Spirit in verse 18, almost every verse that follows all the way to 6:9 shows that the Spirit's work is to exalt Christ and orient all of life (especially family life) on him. Let's follow his thought. First, in verse 19 the Spirit produces songs to the Lord (Jesus). Then, in verse 20 he produces gratitude to God in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then, in verse 21 he produces submission in reverence for Christ. In verse 22 wives submit themselves to their husbands as to the Lord. In verse 25 husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church. In 6:1 children obey their parents in the Lord. In verse 4 fathers bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In verse 5 slaves obey their earthly masters in singleness of heart as to Christ. And in verse 9 masters leave off threatening because they too have a Master in heaven. When a family is filled with the Spirit, everything is oriented on Christ. Christian family life is a work of God's Spirit in the lives of those who do everything for Christ's sake. That's the main point.

A Word to Husbands
And now I want to look briefly at two of Paul's applications of this truth in our text: first a word to husbands, then to wives, then a closing challenge to us all to be filled with the Spirit, yielded to the lordship of Christ for the sake of our families. The word to husbands is this: Be filled with the Spirit! Yield to the lordship of Christ! And then recognize this: your God-appointed headship in the family is to be exercised in love on the pattern of Christ's love for the church. I believe many people today make the mistake of saying that since mutual submission of all believers to each other is taught in verse 21, therefore there is no distinction between the roles of husband and wife. But the text simply will not allow this. What verses 22–33 do is spell out the peculiar forms that lowliness and submissiveness of husband and wife will take. And they are not the same. The wife is compared to the church, the husband compared to Christ. The husband is compared to the head, the wife is compared to his body (v. 28). If all Paul wanted to say was "Submit to each other," he could have left out verses 22–33 altogether. But we know from other letters he wrote (1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 2) that Paul sees in the created order a God-appointed distinction between male and female that makes the man's headship or leadership in marriage fitting and beautiful.

But what the apostle stresses here in Ephesians 5:25–33 is that husbands should be filled with the Holy Spirit, eager to exalt Jesus Christ, and therefore ready to conform their leadership to Christ's. Christ fulfilled his headship or leadership over the disciples through sacrificial service. Jesus did not cease to be the leader of the disciples when he stooped to wash their feet (John 13:13–15). And when he hung on the cross, the weakest of the weak for the sake of his bride, the church, he was no less her head. Woe to the husband who thinks that his maleness requires of him a domineering, demanding attitude toward his wife. This is not the mark of a Christ-like head but a childish bully.

But the subordinate point of this text for husbands is just as needed today as the main point, namely, you are to be the leader and head of your household under Christ. Do not let the rhetoric of contemporary feminism cow you into thinking that Christ-like leadership in the home is bad. It is what our homes need more than anything. Husbands, for all your meekness and all your servanthood and all your submission to your wife's deep desires and needs, you are still the head, the leader. What I mean is this: it is you who should take the lead in the things of the Spirit; it is you who should lead the family in prayer, in the study of God's Word, in worship; it is you who should lead out in giving the family a vision of its meaning and mission; it is you who should take the lead in shaping the moral fabric of the home and in governing its happy peace. I have never yet met a woman who chafes under such Christ-like leadership. But I know of many women whose lives are unhappy because their husbands have no moral vision, no spiritual conception of what a family is for, and therefore no desire to lead anyone anywhere.

Have you seen the Camel Cigarette billboards—the curly-headed, bronze-faced, muscular macho with the cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth? The sign says, "Where a man belongs." You know what I pray when I think about that sign? I pray that Bethlehem will be filled with men who, when they see that sign, say, "To hell with such lies!"—men who know that where a man belongs is on his knees beside his wife, leading in prayer. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is in the driver's seat, leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God, seeking vision and direction for the family. Men, I challenge you in the name of Jesus Christ our King, be where you belong!

A Word to Wives
And now a brief word to wives. In its context Ephesians 5:22 means: if you are filled with the Spirit and yielded to the lordship of Christ, then you will be subject to your husbands as to the Lord. That little phrase "as to the Lord" has two implications. One is that a woman's first and ultimate allegiance is to the Lord Jesus and that other allegiances are subordinate to and derivative from this one. The other implication is that, therefore, the subordinate allegiances are limited by the revealed will of Christ. This means that the form which a wife's submission takes will vary according to the quality of her husband's leadership.

If the husband is a godly man who has a biblical vision for the family and leads out in the things of the Spirit, a godly woman will rejoice in this leadership and support him in it. She will no more be squelched by this leadership than disciples are squelched by the leadership of Jesus. If she thinks his vision is distorted or his direction is unbiblical, she will not sit in dumb silence but query him in a spirit of meekness and may often save his foot from stumbling. For husband-headship does not mean infallibility or hostility to correction. Nor does the wife's involvement in shaping the direction of the family involve insubordination.

But if a Christian woman is married to a man who provides no vision, gives no moral direction, takes no lead in the things of the Spirit, the form of her submission will be different. Under the lordship of Christ she will not join her husband in sin, even if he wants her to. And where she can, she will give a spiritual vision and moral direction to her children. But even in this she need not communicate a cocky spirit of insubordination. Even when she must, for Christ's sake, do what her husband does not approve of, she can try to explain in a tranquil and gentle spirit that it is not because she wants to go against him but because she is bound to Christ. Yet it will do no good to preach at him. At the root of his being he is dreadfully guilty that he is not assuming the moral leadership of his house. You must give him room and in quietness win him by your powerful and sacrificial love (1 Peter 3:1–6).

In conclusion, there is a God-ordained pattern of headship and submission, of leadership and joyful support of that leadership, within the family. It has been conceived by God and revealed to us that we might discover happiness at home and a meaningful mission for our family. It is the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of those who do everything for Christ's sake. Therefore, the question for you who want a happy home and a meaningful mission and destiny for your family is: Are you filled with the Spirit of God and yielded to the lordship of Christ?


By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pictures From on the Road

Sunset, Daytona Beach


We praise God each day for His grace and for safe travel.

This is Pepe. He lives in Mississippi.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

God's grace is new everyday!

Daytona Beach, FL

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Grace: eighteen affirmations and denials

This came to me via email from Tania B. regarding Lordship vs. belief. Thank you, Tania.

Grace: eighteen affirmations and denials
(by Dan Phillips)

I feel a bit like Jude (v. 3), except without the inerrant inspiration. I had a long, detailed post on another topic nearly ready. A recent development pushed that out of my mind, and pushed this subject into it.

It won't be pretty; I'll be trying to keep up with my thoughts and make them intelligible. But I reserve the right to re-post this in a shinier form at a later date.

  1. God's grace was given to His elect in His purposes from before times eternal (2 Timothy 1:9). It is not an afterthought.
  2. Grace answers the question Cur Deus homo? — it is why God the Son became a human being, lived among us, fulfilled all righteousness, died in the stead of the elect, and redeemed them (1 Corinthians 8:9). Nothing in us motivated the Incarnation.
  3. Grace is known in the special revelation of the Gospel (Colossians 1:6), not by natural revelation.
  4. Grace frees the elect to exercise saving faith (Acts 18:27). Slaves don't free themselves.
  5. Grace is the whole reason we are declared righteous as a free gift by grace alone, through faith alone, in and because of Christ alone (Acts 15:11; Romans 3:24; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7); it is not merely an important factor.
  6. Grace in Christ's death is the cause of our righteous standing before God (Galatians 2:21; 5:4). Human works play no part whatever.
  7. Grace is a good reason to leave sin (Romans 6:1ff). It is not a good reason to remain in sin.
  8. Grace frees us from the Mosaic law's condemnation (Romans 6:14). It does not "free" us from God being God, nor from all that necessarily follows from that truth.
  9. Grace motivates and empowers us to do more for God than we otherwise would (1 Corinthians 15:10). It isn't our license to do less or nothing for God than we otherwise would.
  10. Grace strengthens us for service (2 Timothy 2:1). It does not "strengthen" us for indifferent, lazy lassitude.
  11. Grace motivates us to speak more boldly to professed brothers in Christ (Romans 15:15). It does not motivate us to care less about God's glory or others' spiritual health.
  12. Put another way, grace is the motivator for speaking even unwelcome truth boldly to professed Christians (Romans 15:15). Grace is not the antithesis of such plain-speaking.
  13. Grace builds us up as Christians (Acts 20:32). Grace is not for the moment of salvation only.
  14. Grace is at home with humility (1 Peter 5:5). It is the opposite of stiff-necked, arrogant rebellion against the word and will of God.
  15. Grace is the sufficient, efficient, indispensable and unerring cause for practical holy living, for obeying the written word of God (Titus 2:11-12; cf. Romans 8:12-13). It isn't our "get out of obedience" card.
  16. Grace will not be fully experienced, realized, or known until we see Christ (1 Peter 1:13). This present consciousness of grace is not "all there is."
  17. Until that day, we must grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). No man can say he is "there," yet.
  18. It is an abominable blasphemy to use pleas of "grace" as a cloak for outrageous, amoral, immoral, licentious thinking and living (Jude 4). Grace is not a pretext for sin.

Three brief reflections:

Dispensationalism. I am unapologetically a Calvinist dispensationalist (someone tell that punk Heinrich). Having said that, it shames and confounds me that so many have cause to associate dispensationalism with antinomian, libertine licentiousness. I disown that false teaching with every fiber of my being, and it in no way grows necessarily out of the heart of the dispensational approach to Scripture.

That dispensationalists as a whole haven't roundly disowned that bastard child is as fully to our shame as the failure of Moslems to denounce all terrorism.

For whatever it's worth, count me as a denouncer.

It doesn't matter. However, anyone who thinks that abuse of the rich Biblical concept of grace is confined to dispensationalism... well, you need to get out more.

Final plea. Do this for me.

  • If you're going to sin, poke God in the eye, shame His name, bring ridicule on the Gospel, and refuse to deal with your sin by repentance as God defines it — don't drag the lovely word grace into the sewer with you. Just sin, and prepare for the consequences. Well, scratch that. You can't prepare for the consequences. But at least let's not lie to ourselves and others, compound our sin, and smear the dung of our sin over the beautiful concept of grace.
  • If you're going to sin and bring heartbreak, ruin, robbery, treachery, betrayal and misery into the lives of others, and then refuse to deal with your sin by repentance as God defines it — don't drag the the lovely word grace or "the Cross" into it. Grace and the cross are the antithesis of continuance in heardhearted, unrepentant sin. What we've done to others is bad enough. No need to blaspheme the saving grace of God in the bargain.

That is all.

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/02/grace-eighteen-affirmations-and-denials.html

Follow Me

The following was emailed to me by Nikki M. She says, "I enjoyed this devotion and wanted to share it with you. May the Lord bless your day." Thanks Nikki!!!

Follow Me

"And as he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him." Mark 2:14

Jesus was in the beginning of His ministry performing miracles of healing and meeting the needs of the people when He confronts Levi [Matthew] and says to him, "Follow me." Matthew had seen Christ minister to the people and saw in Him the "hope" that his heart longed for, the One sent from God. He immediately leaves his post, follows the Lord, and becomes one of His disciples. What does it mean to follow Him and be His disciple?

Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. We think we have to do exceptional things for God. We do not. We have to be exceptional in ordinary things and holy in difficult circumstances among difficult people. Jesus said, "I have chosen you." We can disobey His call, but we can't generate it. He supernaturally draws us to Himself by the Holy Spirit. But what qualifies a person to be a disciple? This perplexes many people. Actually, our nothingness! There's nothing within us that qualifies us to be "chosen by God" and be His disciple.

Only as we come in our "nothingness," in complete dependence upon Him, can God clothe us with "His sufficiency." Why? So that no flesh should glory in His presence. "For of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is unto you wisdom and righteousness and redemption. That according as it is written, he that glories, let him glory in the Lord." God is not interested in "who" we are or "what" we have or the "gifts" we possess. He who calls us to walk, to live, and to serve will also equip us in all things, so that we may be fruitful in our service and glorify Him in our life. How quickly we forget that.

Saul illustrates this very thing. Read Saul's attitude by what he says to Samuel: "Certainly God will be pleased if I bring the 'best' of all the Amalekites, the king, and all that was good and sacrifice them unto God." But look closely at Saul's thinking. Saul called "good" what God condemned. He wanted to sacrifice to God that which God hated. Saul usurped the authority and sovereignty of God by doing it "his way." He disregarded God's command by inserting his own will. And what was Samuel's answer to Saul? "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to hearken than the fat of rams." OBEDIENCE must take precedence in all of our actions.

We do not want to submit our will to the control and authority of God; we insist on doing things "our" way. The last thing we want to let go of...is the control of our will. Simple obedience is "submission and surrender to His will." To be a disciple begins with the Lord being in control of all. Someone has wisely said, "If Christ is not the Lord of all, He is not the Lord at all." It is not natural for us to surrender our will, that's why discipleship is "supernatural," the result of the Holy Spirit probing our hearts and drawing us unto Christ. He melts and molds our lives that we might be channels through which His Spirit can flow fully. If we are to follow Christ, we must walk according to His leading and be submissive to His will. There is no better or more blessed path than walking under His Lordship!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Open Their Eyes: Doing What Only God Can Do, Part 1



By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

The Gospel and Politics (Part 1)


The following is from Pulpit Magazine:



June 9th, 2008

(By John MacArthur)


For us, as Christians in the United States, it’s easy to get caught up in all the political fervor. It can even be tempting to think that legislation is the key to solving the moral problems that plague American society. But is that a right perspective? John MacArthur addresses this important issue and underscores a biblical response.

There was a time (in the days of our Puritan forefathers), when almost every soul in America acknowledged the Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of ethics and morality. Today most Americans can’t even name three of the Ten.

There was also a time (not so long ago) when Americans universally disapproved of homosexuality, adultery, and divorce; they believed sexual promiscuity is absolutely wrong; they regarded obscene language as inappropriate; they saw abortion as unthinkable; and they held public officials to high moral and ethical standards. Nowadays, most of the behavior society once deemed immoral is defended as an inalienable civil right.

How times and the culture have changed! The strong Christian influence and scriptural standards that shaped Western culture and American society through the end of the nineteenth century have given way to practical atheism and moral relativism. The few vestiges of Christianity in our culture are at best weak and compromising, and to an increasingly pagan society they are cultic and bizarre.

In less than fifty years’ time, our nation’s political leaders, legislative bodies, and courts have adopted a distinctly anti-Christian attitude and agenda. The country has swept away the Christian worldview and its principles in the name of equal rights, political correctness, tolerance, and strict separation of church and state. Gross immorality—including homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and other evils—has been sanctioned not only by society in general but in effect by the government as well. A portion of our tax dollars are now used to fund programs and government agencies that actively engage in blatant advocacy of various immoral practices.

What are Christians to do about it?

Many think this is a political problem that will not be solved without a political strategy. During the past twenty-five years, well-meaning Christians have founded a number of evangelical activist organizations and sunk millions of dollars into them in an effort to use the apparatus of politics—lobbying, legislation, demonstration, and boycott—to counteract the moral decline of American culture. They pour their energy and other resources into efforts to drum up a “Christian” political movement that will fight back against the prevailing anti-Christian culture.

But is that a proper perspective? I believe not. America’s moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pretend Not To Love Them, If You Favour Their Sins-Richard Baxter

This was emailed to me by Tania. I am thankful God placed it on her heart to share. :)

This comes from Puritan Fellowship.com: http://www.puritanfellowship.com/

"The whole of our ministry must be carried on in tender love to our people. We must let them see that nothing pleaseth us but what profiteth them; and that what doeth them good doth us good; and that nothing troubleth us more than their hurt. We must feel toward our people, as a father toward his children: yea, the tenderest love of a mother must not surpass ours. We must even travail in birth, till Christ be formed in them. They should see that we care for no outward thing, neither wealth, nor liberty, nor honor, nor life, in comparison of their salvation; but could even be content, with Moses, to have our names blotted out of the book of life, i. e. to be removed from the number of the living: rather than they should not be found in the Lamb’s book of life.

Thus should we, as John saith, be ready to ‘lay down our lives for the brethren,’ and, with Paul, not count our lives dear to us, so we may but ‘finish our course with joy, and the ministry which we have received of the Lord Jesus.’ When the people see that you unfeignedly love them, they will hear any thing and bear any thing from you; as Augustine saith, ‘Love God, and do what you please.’ We ourselves will take all things well from one that we know doth entirely love us. We will put up with a blow that is given us in love, sooner than with a foul word that is spoken to us in malice or in anger. Most men judge of the counsel, as they judge of the a affection of him that gives it: at least, so far as to give it a fair hearing.

Oh, therefore, see that you feel a tender love to your people in your breasts, and let them perceive it in your speeches, and see it in your conduct. Let them see that you spend, and are spent, for their sakes; and that all you do is for them, and not for any private ends of your own. To this end the works of charity are necessary, as far as your estate will reach; for bare words will hardly convince men that you have any great love to them. But, if you are not able to give, show that you are willing to give if you had it, and do that sort of good you can. But see that your love be not carnal, flowing from pride, as one that is a suitor for himself rather than for Christ, and, therefore, doth love because he is loved, or that he may be loved.

Take heed, therefore, that you do not connive at the sins of your people, under pretense of love, for that were to cross the nature and end of love. Friendship must be cemented by piety. A wicked man cannot be a true friend; and, if you befriend their wickedness, you show that you are wicked yourselves. Pretend not to love them, if you favour their sins, and seek not their salvation. By favoring their sins, you will show your enmity to God; and then how can you love your brother? If you be their best friends, help them against their worst enemies. And think not all sharpness inconsistent with love: parents correct their children, and God himself ‘chastens every son whom he receiveth.’ Augustine saith, ‘Better it is to love even with the accompaniment of severity, than to mislead by (excess of) lenity.’"

http://www.puritanfellowship.com/

Monday, June 02, 2008

The following excerpt is from "How to Read the Bible," a sermon published in 1879.

Need I suggest the question as to whether you do read your Bibles or not? I am afraid that this is a magazine-reading age, a newspaper-reading age, a periodical-reading age, but not so much a Bible-reading age as it ought to be.

In the old Puritanic times men used to have a scant supply of other literature, but they found a library enough in the one book, the Bible. And how they did read the Bible! How little of Scripture there is in modern sermons compared with the sermons of those masters of theology, the Puritanic divines! Almost every sentence of theirs seems to cast sidelights upon a text of Scripture; not only the one they are preaching about, but many others as well are set in a new light as the discourse proceeds. They introduce blended lights from other passages, which are parallel or semi-parallel thereunto, and thus they educate their readers to compare spiritual things with spiritual.

I would to God that we ministers kept more closely to the grand old book. We should be instructive preachers if we did so, even if we were ignorant of "modern thought," and were not "abreast of the times." I warrant you we should be leagues ahead of our times if we kept closely to the word of God.

As for you, my brothers and sisters, who have not to preach, the best food for you is the word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head. Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. You shall find that reading the word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace. Drink of the unadulterated milk of the word of God, and not of the skim milk, or the milk and water of man's word.

What Does It Mean “to Me”?

(By John MacArthur)

That’s a fashionable concern, judging from the trends in devotional booklets, home Bible study discussions, Sunday-school literature, and most popular preaching.

The question of what Scripture means has taken a back seat to the issue of what it means “to me.”

The difference may seem insignificant at first. Nevertheless, our obsession with the Scripture’s applicability reflects a fundamental weakness. We have adopted practicality as the ultimate judge of the worth of God’s Word. We bury ourselves in passages that overtly relate to daily living, and ignore those that don’t.

Early in my ministry, I made a conscious commitment to biblical preaching. My first priority has always been to answer the question, “What does this passage mean?” After I’ve explained as clearly and accurately as possible the meaning of God’s Word, then I exhort people to obey and apply it to their own lives.

The Bible speaks for itself to the human heart; it is not my role as a preacher to try to tailor the message. That’s why I preach my way through entire books of the Bible, dealing carefully with each verse and phrase–even though that occasionally means spending time in passages that don’t readily lend themselves to anecdotal or motivational messages.

I am grateful to the Lord for the way He has used this expository approach in our church and in the lives of our radio listeners.

But now and then someone tells me frankly that my preaching needs to be less doctrinal and more practical.

Practical application is vital. I don’t want to minimize its importance. But the distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine.

Too many Christians view doctrine as heady and theoretical. They have dismissed doctrinal passages as unimportant, divisive, threatening, or simply impractical. A best-selling Christian book I just read warns readers to be on guard against preachers whose emphasis is on interpreting Scripture rather than applying it.

Wait a minute. Is that wise counsel? No it is not.

There is no danger of irrelevant doctrine; the real threat is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance. Application not based on solid interpretation has led Christians into all kinds of confusion.

No discipline is more sorely needed in the contemporary church than expositional biblical teaching. Too many have bought the lie that doctrine is something abstract and threatening, unrelated to daily life.

It is in vogue to substitute psychology and spoon-fed application for doctrinal substance, while demeaning theological and expositional ministry.

But the pastor who turns away from preaching sound doctrine abdicates the primary responsibility of an elder: “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Practical insights, gimmicks, and illustrations mean little if they’re not attached to divine principles. There’s no basis for godly behavior apart from the truth of God’s Word.

There are only three options: We teach truth, error, or nothing at all.

Before the preacher asks anyone to perform a certain duty, he must first deal with doctrine. He must develop his message around theological themes and draw out the principles of the texts. Then the truth can be applied.

Romans provides the clearest biblical example. Paul didn’t give any exhortation until he had given eleven chapters of theology.

He scaled incredible heights of truth, culminating in 11:33-36: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

Then in chapter 12, he turned immediately to the practical consequences of the doctrine of the first 11 chapters. No passage in Scripture captures the Christian’s responsibility to the truth more clearly than Romans 12:1-2. There, building on eleven chapters of profound doctrine, Paul calls each believer to a supreme act of spiritual worship–giving oneself as a living sacrifice. Doctrine gives rise to dedication to Christ, the greatest practical act. And the remainder of the book of Romans goes on to explain the many practical outworkings of one’s dedication to Christ.

Paul followed the same pattern in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians. The doctrinal message came first. Upon that foundation he built the practical application, making the logical connection with the word therefore (Rom. 12:1; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 4:1; Phil. 2:1) or then (Col. 3:1; 1 Thess. 4:1).

True doctrine transforms behavior as it is woven into the fabric of everyday life. But it must be understood if it is to have its impact. The real challenge of the ministry is to dispense the truth clearly and accurately. Practical application comes easily by comparison.

No believer can apply truth he doesn’t know. Those who don’t understand what the Bible really says about marriage, divorce, family, child-rearing, discipline, money, debt, work, service to Christ, eternal rewards, helping the poor, caring for widows, respecting government, and other teachings won’t be able to apply it.

Those who don’t know what the Bible teaches about salvation cannot be saved. Those who don’t know what the Bible teaches about holiness are incapable of dealing with sin. Thus they are unable to live fully to their own blessedness and God’s glory.

The nucleus of all that is truly practical is sown up in the teaching of Scripture. We don’t make the Bible relevant; it is inherently so, simply because it is God’s Word. And after all, how can anything God says be irrelevant?


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