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Archive for March, 2011

“I have made a covenant with God that he sends me neither visions, dreams, nor even angels. I am well satisfied with the gift of the Holy Scriptures, which give me abundant instruction and all that I need to know both for this life and for that which is to come.” ―Martin Luther

“The Holy Spirit has not promised to reveal new truths, but to enable us to understand what we read in the Bible; and if we venture beyond the pale of Scripture we are upon enchanted ground and exposed to all the illusions of imagination and enthusiasm.” ―John Newton

 

 

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“An incomparable blessing awaits God’s people whenever they come to God’s house to hear God’s Word.  True spiritual growth necessitates that believers regularly attend the gathering of worshippers and sit under the Scripture being taught. Wherever the Word of God is proclaimed, the glory of God is manifested, and the grace of God is magnified in the hearts of the saints.  Whatever the distance a person must travel to receive the Word, the effort is always eternally  rewarding. Singing praises to God with other like-minded believers makes the journey worth the while.  Nothing is more important to one’s spiritual life than hearing and living God’s Word.”–Steve Lawson, Psalms 76-150, The Holman OT Commentary Series, p. 261

 

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Part 3 of signs you are growing in grace with links to part 1 and 2.

Are you growing in grace?

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Are you weary?

Here’s a pray for those who are weary servants of God who are running a bit low on hope:

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

Gracious Father, there are times when the “odds” feel quite stacked against us, as your people. With the naked eye, the enemies of justice, truth and the gospel seem to greatly outnumber your “troops.” Serving you is stressful, overwhelming, and at times it feels futile.

But just when we begin to retreat into a basement of fear, or question your concern and faithfulness, you open our eyes and show us the way things really are. We praise you for the gift of perspective. You haven’t and you will not abandoned us. Things are not as they appear. Because the gospel is true, “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).

But the way of the gospel will always be strength in weakness—the transforming treasure of the gospel in fragile jars of clay, like us. You sent 300 poorly armed soldiers with Gideon, not 34,000 fighting men, to defeat the entire Midianite army. You chose Jesse’s youngest son, David—a young shepherd, to be the king of Israel—a most unlikely candidate. Most profoundly, it was the crucifixion of Jesus, not an insurrection of zealots or the religion of Pharisees, which won our salvation.

Father, the “odds” are never really stacked against your covenant purposes and your transforming kingdom. You’re not “trying” to do anything. You never have to resort to plan B or hedge your bets. You are God, and there is no other god. Strengthen us, and your servants throughout the world, when we grow weary in preaching and applying the gospel; planting and maturing churches; and in doing justice and loving mercy. We will reap a harvest at the proper time, if we do not give up (Gal. 6:9).

You don’t need to show us herds of horses or chariots of fire, just show us more and more of the resurrected and reigning Jesus. Our labors in Him are often exhausting and discouraging, but they are never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ trustworthy and triumphant name.

By Scotty Smith

 

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The folks at christianaudio.com are giving away a free download of Piper’s booklet Jesus: The Only Way to God.

This offer is available until March 31.

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Carolyn McCulley writes about a resource available from Revive Our Hearts (an organization for teaching women that is trustworthy and sound:

We are now four weeks out from Easter and as my family makes plans to celebrate, I am thinking about how to prepare spiritually. One helpful resource is the series Nancy Leigh DeMoss is going through on her Revive Our Hearts radio show: “The Incomparable Christ,” loosely based on Oswald Sanders’ classic book. She will be airing programs on this topic right up through Resurrection Sunday. I recommend you check out the series, including some of the recent programs she’s aired:

The series includes Scriptures for meditation and personal application questions. It’s excellent material to use for personal devotions (as I am doing) or small group study.

 

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Hope: a glorious grace

Do you think about heaven and eternity much?

Having known four people who died in the last month, I have many opportunities to think about eternity and what awaits every believer upon their death.

John Owen on the hope of heavenly glory:

The especial object of hope is eternal glory, Colossians 1:27; Romans 5:2. The peculiar use of it is to support, comfort, and refresh the soul, in all trials, under all weariness and despondencies, with a ftrm expectation of a speedy entrance into that glory, with an earnest desire after it.Wherefore, unless we acquaint ourselves, by continual meditation, with the reality and nature of this glory, it is impossible it should be the object of a vigorous, active hope, such as whereby the apostle says “we are saved.” Without this we can neither have that evidence of eternal things, nor that valuation of them, nor that preparedness in our minds for them, as should keep us in the exercise of gracious hope about them.

In that journey or pilgrimage wherein we are engaged towards a heavenly country, we are sure to meet with all kinds of dangers, difficulties, and perils. It is not a general notion of blessedness that will excite and work in us a spiritual, refreshing hope. But when we think and meditate on future glory as we ought, that grace which is neglected for the most pare as unto its benefit, and dead as unto its exercise, will of all others be most vigorous and active, putting itself forth on all occasions. This, therefore, is an inestimable benefit of the duty exhorted unto, and which they find the advantage of who are really spiritually minded.

From “The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded.”

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It’s this book:

Tim Challies explains:

If you struggle believing what the Bible says, but learn to find security in the testimony of a toddler, well, I feel sorry for you. And I do not mean this in a condescending way. If God’s Word is not sufficient for you, if the testimony of his Spirit, given to believers, is not enough for you, you will not find any true hope in the unproven tales of a child. This hope may last for a moment, but it will not sustain you, it will not bless you, in those times when hope is waning and times are hard.

So reject this book. Do not read it. Do not believe it. And do not feel guilty doing so.

Read his whole review here.

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Two quotes I recently read:

“When suffering you need to seek help. This help comes first and finally from the living God. He hears, helps, strengthens, and vindicates those who rely on Him. If you look anywhere else first, you will set yourself up for a fall. You will get snared in bitterness and revenge (spurning God for your pride). You will flee in avoidance and addiction (spurning God for your false refuges and comforts). You will develop a perverted dependency on others (spurning God for your trust in man). Sadly, our culture has awakened countless people to think about what evil-doers (“abusers”) have done to them, but it has cast them upon their own resources as “abuse victims.” Yet victims can properly understand their own sins and sufferings, and God’s grace.”

David Powlison – Seeing With New Eyes, p. 107.

“It is in the gymnasium of affliction that men are modelled and fashioned in the beauty of holiness, and all their spiritual powers are trained for harmonious action. It was meet also that they should suffer, in order to complete their service. Like their Lord, they had to be made perfect through suffering; and if they had not suffered they had not finished the work which he had given them to do. They needed tribulation, moreover, that they might be made like their Savior; for a saint untroubled, how can he be like the man who wore the thorn crown? Never smitten, never slandered, never despised, never mocked at, never crucified, then how could we be like our Head? Shall the servant be above his Master, or the disciple above his Lord?”

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled “What And Whence Are These?,” delivered February 25, 1872

HT: Truth Matters and Daily Spurgeon)

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“Most people in the world believe that if there is a God, you related to God by being good. Most religions are based on that principle, though there are a million different variations on it. Some religions are what you might call nationalistic: You connect to God, they say, by coming into our people group and taking on the markers of society membership. Other religions are spiritualistic: You reach God by working your way through certain transformations of consciousness. Yet other religions are legalistic: There’s a code of conduct, and if you follow it God will look upon you with favor. But they all have the same logic: If I perform, if I obey, I’m accepted. The gospel of Jesus is not only different from that but diametrically opposed to it: I’m fully accepted in Jesus Christ, and therefore I obey.”

– Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus

(HT: Z)

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