A realization of our poverty

by C H MacIntosh

It is well to be poor, when the knowledge of our poverty serves but to unfold to us the exhaustless riches of divine grace. That grace can never suffer any one to go away empty. It can never tell anyone that he is too poor. I can meet the very deepest human need; and not only so, but it is glorified in meeting it. This holds good in every case. It is true of every individual sinner…

Grace is the grand and only resource for us all.  It is the basis of our salvation; the basis of a life of practical godliness; and the basis of those imperishable hopes which animate us amid the trials and conflicts of this sin-stricken world. May we cherish a deeper sense of grace, and more ardent desire for glory!

~ 1860, Notes on Leviticus

Seven benefits of delighting ourselves in God

by Richard Baxter (language updated some)

1.   Delight in God will prove that you know him and love him and that you are prepared for his kingdom, for all who truly delight in him shall enjoy him.

2.   Prosperity, which is merely the small addition of earthly things, will not easily corrupt you or transport you.

3.   Adversity, that is, the withholding of earthly delights, will not much grieve you or easily deject you.

4.   You will receive more profit from a sermon or good book or conversation you delight in, than other people, who don’t delight in them, will receive from many such opportunities.

5.   All your service will be sweet to yourself and acceptable to God; if you delight in him, he certainly delights in you (Psalm 149:4147:111 Chronicles 29:17).

6.   You will have a continual feast with you, to sweeten all the crosses of your life and provide you with joy greater than your sorrow in your saddest condition.

7.   When you delight in God, your created pleasures will be sanctified to you and warranted in their proper place, which in other people are idolatrous or corrupt.

Lord, “you are good and you do good” (Psalm 119:68).

~ A Christian Directory, p 140

A Prayer About Re-Setting My Heart on Jesus

A prayer by Scotty Smith

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

Gracious Jesus, I don’t think I’ve ever praised you for a phone with GPS before today. But as someone born with neither an internal compass nor a gyroscope… as someone who labors to find their parked car… as someone who walks out of a hotel room not remembering if the elevator is to the right or the left… I give you praise for the good gifts of modern technology. To have a phone that can talk me to my location has helped me save face, (and marital stress), more than once.

Jesus, in a far more profound way, I’m praising you this morning for the Scriptures… for they areconstantly re-directing my wandering heart to its true destination. And I’m praising you for the gospel… for the gospel is not only my GPS, it’s the car which gets me home. Indeed, Jesus, I’m resetting my heart on you this morning.

You are my destination and my delight. By God’s grace, your death is considered to be mine. When you died on the cross, God punished you for all my sins. When you were raised from the dead, I was raised with you and was given a whole new life and story.

Right now, my life is safely hidden in you… God has placed me in union with you, Jesus. I’m covered with your righteousness… completely forgiven and acceptable to God—very much loved by him. When you return to this world to finish your work of renewal and restoration, I will be made like you… I’m destined to become as lovely and as loving as you, and to reign with your whole Bride in the new heaven and new earth. This is the best news ever, Jesus. There’s no other story I’d rather be in… and yet, until the Day you return, I’ll be tempted to think otherwise.

Jesus, only you can change my heart, but I can, and I must, set my heart on you. No one and nothing else is worthy of my heart’s adoration, affection and allegiance… only you… though good things and bad things claim otherwise. I set my heart on you today, Jesus, as my ultimate good… Not on my reputation… my children… my marriage… my stuff… my job… Not on my desire to get even… to get out… to be liked… to be happy… to be in control… to be safe.

Jesus, you’ve done everything for me, and now I trust you to do everything in me that will bring you glory. So very Amen, I pray, in your matchless name.

Welcoming one another

I think we often overlook how powerful and important the “one another’ statements are. I am becoming more aware how neglectful I have been of them. Here is another thought along this line.

by Lionel Woods

2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

As I continue to work through Romans, I am often confused on how I missed how simple the letter is. Yes that justification stuff and maybe the Olive Tree and Paul’s remnant phrases, maybe even the whole Adam and Christ and Second Adam stuff could lead to much debate. But what can’t be debated are words like this. And while we focus on those difficult parts we often are ignoring the clear parts in the process. For example people are divided over justification and imputed righteousness and predestination and maybe Romans 7. And though it is healthy to wrestle through these things, we are actually disobeying what Paul says in Romans 15. How is that for irony?

Because we spend a good deal of time treating the bible as something to be studied, debated, compartmentalized and so forth, we actually forget about things such as grace, love, mercy, forbearance, patience, forgiveness, hospitality and reception. I think this is because we have forgot the Gospel. We are so bored with the simplicity of grace and how God receives us that we actually forget to extend the same grace to others. You see the first few chapters of Romans, if understood, leads us to Romans 12-15. Justification isn’t just what God does for us, it also has implications of what we are to do for one another. “No condemnation” isn’t just for us to find comfort in what God has done for us, we now extend such noncondemnation to others. Because God has freed us from the penalty of sin and guilt, we are now to free others who sin against us. And most importantly God receiving us in spite of all of our ignorance, foolishness, stupidity and error (and there is much on my side) isn’t just for us to boast about a God who receives ,we are now to receive others ,who may not have it all together.

We are now obligated to welcome others, not because they deserve it, but because we didn’t deserve to be received by God. Once we experience the supernatual work of Grace and understand just how wicked we were, there is no way we can turn to others and not extend the same grace. Once we understand God accepts us, not based of of our works but because He loves us, there is no way we can reject others because of their works. Once we understand that God welcomes us based off of the work of another (Christ) we now are to extend our arms and welcome others based off of the same work.

And why is it important? Because it is “to the glory of God”. How fascinating is that. We bring God glory by welcoming others we have differences with and who better as an example than God “who reconciled us by the death of His Son”? This is why understanding Romans 1-5 is so important, but if the importance stops with us just philosophically affirming these facts without practically (chapters 12-15) living the implications out then our understanding is futile.

Listen, there are no conditions yet it does take two parties. It is very difficult to receive someone who rejects you; however, we are always to keep a ”welcoming posture” so to say. We can not boast about understanding terms such as: justification, grace, reconciliation, propitiation, atonement, faith and love; if we don’t live out the practical implications. So the next time you hear someone boasting about these theological terms yet not living out the implications, pull their card, call them to the table, make the implications as real as the cognitive and don’t let them slip out of it. The Gospel of Grace doesn’t just fix me and God it fixes me and you also.

An irreconcilable war against sins

by older Puritan writer William Gurnall

The Christian is to proclaim and initiate an irreconcilable war against his choice sins.  Those nearest his heart must now be trampled under his feet.  This takes great courage and resolution.  O how a lust will plead for itself!  Satan pleads: ‘Is it not just a little one, O spare it!’  He will flatter the soul with the secrecy of it: ‘You can have it, and your honour also.’  If this does not work, Satan will try to get you to wait just a little while for its execution.  Do not be deceived by this strategy.  Most lusts that have received a delay in execution will eventually obtain a full pardon and regain full favor with your soul.  It takes great resolution to break through such violent pleading and bring your lust to full execution.  We must walk with a single purpose, without an eye on the world’s glitter.  We must stand fixed to heaven’s principles and so prove our citizenship in heaven by our faithfulness to the truth.

~ William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armor, 1:13-15

Subtitled , A Treatise Of the Saints’ War against the Devil: Wherein a Discovery is made of that grand Enemy of God and his People, in his Policies, Power, Seat of his Empire, Wickedness, and chief design he hath against the Saints. A Magazine Opened, From whence the Christian is furnished with Spiritual Arms for the Battle, helped on with his Armour, and taught the use of his Weapon: together with the happy issue of the whole War.

Connecting Church and Home

by Al Mohler in an address based on 1 Peter 5:1-11:

In his talked titled “Christian Parenting is Combat,” Mohler issued four challenges to the church:

#1 The church must present faithful vision of the family, marriage, and parenting – and equip believers to transfer that vision to the next generation.

#2 The church must overcome the zone of privacy and autonomy that keeps individuals from being accountable to the church community. We need to get into each others face. Our parenting and marriage are not properly ours – but belong to Christ and are the affairs of the whole church. Someone needs to get involved when people struggle in these areas.

#3 The church has got to be a place where brokenness is overcome by the Gospel. We slander the good news when we act like the only people who can glorify God are those who have never experienced brokenness.

#4 The church has to got to be the place where families are rescued and armed for the combat to which we are called. Discipleship is a battle. We come to church because we can’t afford not to come. We need to get together because we need to be equipped by the preaching of the Word of God and the fellowship of the Saints.

Is being a Christian and being a disciple the same?

by Dallas Willard

The disciple is one who, intent upon becomeing Christlike and so dwelling in his “faith and practice,” systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end.

Is being a Christian and being a disciple the same? Jesus sent his followers to make disciples –to bring them into a relationship to him. I understand that some have written whole books on this and it is a vigorourous debate in some circles. What do you think?

For example:

…For at least several decades the churches of the Western world have not made discipleship a condition of being a Christian. One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, and one may remain a Christian without any signs of progress toward or in discipleship. Contemporary American churches in particular do not require following Christ in his example, spirit, and teachings as a condition of membership…

…Little good results from insisting that Christ is also supposed to be Lord: to present his lordship as an option leaves it squarely in the category of white-wall tires and stereo equipment for the new car. You can do without it. And it is—alas!—for from clear what you would do with it. Obedience and training in obedience form not intelligible doctrinal or practical unity with the salvation presented in recent versions of the gospel.

…Not having made our converts disciples, it is impossible for us to teach them how to live as Christ lived and taught. That was not part of the package, not what they converted to.

…Thus the very type of life that could change the course of human society—and upon occasion has done so—is excluded from the essential message of the church.

Concerned to enter that life we ask: “Am I a disciple, or only a Christian by current standards?” Examination of our ultimate desires and intentions, reflected in the specific responses and choices that make up our lives, can show whether there are things we hold more important than being like him. If there are, then we are not yet his disciples. Being unwilling to follow him, our claim of trusting him must ring hollow. We could never claim to trust a doctor, teacher or auto mechanic whose direction we do not follow.

~ The Spirit of the Disciplines, pp 258-265

Worship is what it is about

I like AW Tozer for the bold, often blunt, way he expresses himself. His words are always a challange to my Christian life (even when I am not always sure I can even understand their lofty reach). In any study of the Christian life and discipleship, worship has to be the core. Without it, the rest is activity. Every true disciple must be in a place of awe and worship. Here are some more words of challenge from AW.

Worship: God Listens

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. ~ Psalm 95:1-2

What are we going to do about this awesome, beautiful worship that God calls for? I would rather worship God than do any other thing I know of in all this wide world.

I would not even attempt to tell you how many hymnbooks are piled up in my study. I cannot sing a lick, but that is nobody’s business. God thinks I am an opera star! God listens while I sing to Him the old French hymns in translation, the old Latin hymns in translation. God listens while I sing the old Greek hymns from the Eastern church as well as the beautiful psalms done in meter and some of the simpler songs of Watts and Wesley and the rest.

I mean it when I say that I would rather worship God than to do anything else.

~ Whatever Happened to Worship?, p.18.

You are as holy as you want to be

by A.W. Tozer

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. — Matthew 5:6

It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be.

Our Lord placed this beyond dispute when He said, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Hunger and thirst are physical sensations which, in their acute stages, may become real pain. It has been the experience of countless seekers after God that when their desires became a pain they were suddenly and wonderfully filled. The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently to permit Him to do so. The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness. Born After Midnight, 8.

Three Ways to Relate to God

by Tim Keller

People tend to think there are two ways to relate to God – to follow him and do his will or to reject him and do your own thing – but there are also two ways to reject God as Savior.  One is the way already mentioned: by rejecting God’s law and living as you see fit.  The other, however, is by obeying God’s Law, by being really righteous and really moral, so as to earn your own salvation.  It is not enough to simply think there are two ways to relate to God.  There are three: religion, irreligion, and the gospel.

In ‘religion,’ people may look to God as their helper, teacher, and example, but their moral performance is serving as their savior.  Both religious and irreligious people are avoiding God as Savior and Lord.  Both are seeking to keep control of their own lives by looking to something besides God as their salvation.  Religious legalism/moralism and secular/irreligious relativism are just different strategies of ‘self-salvation.’

~

Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything, page 15