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Archive for February 28th, 2013

Jared writes,

“In speaking about God’s grace in raising up Samuel to be a prophet, Dale Ralph Davies writes:

If contemporary believers have a church where social activities, committee meetings, and nifty programs have not eclipsed the place of the word of God, if the teaching of the word of God stands at the heart of the church’s life, if there is a pulpit ministry where the Scriptures are clearly, accurately, and helpfully preached, then they are rich in the grace of God.

If you have such a church family, regardless of what else others might think is missing, give thanks to God for the grace of His Word!”

Many churches today have grown “word-less”–a situation which is lamentable.  Robert Godfrey points out,

Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?

What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help advice. Congregations where the Bible is ignored or abused are in the gravest peril. Churches that depart from the Word will soon find that God has departed from them.

What solution does the Bible teach for this sad situation? The short but profound answer is given by Paul in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We need the Word to dwell in us richly so that we will know the truths that God thinks are most important and so that we will know His purposes and priorities. We need to be concerned less about “felt-needs” and more about the real needs of lost sinners as taught in the Bible.

Paul not only calls us here to have the Word dwell in us richly, but shows us what that rich experience of the Word looks like. He shows us that in three points. (Paul was a preacher, after all.)

Read the three points here.

In summary, if you have a word-centered church, express your thanks to God and your appreciation to your church leadership this week.  If you don’t, pray and discuss this with your pastors and ask God that they would see the need for living out the Colossians 3:16 model for a rich Word-dwelling-in -you ministry!

 

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Ask John Piper

Desiring God is producing nearly 5 new podcast episodes each week called “Ask Pastor John.”  Each episode is just a few short minutes (under five normally). Who knows, the question someone has asked John might be one that you have been thinking about.  The questions cover a wide variety of topics from theology to literature to art to leadership and much more. Click here to see a recent weekly digest as well as all the podcasts released so far.  So far the only drawback is they aren’t yet available on iTunes.

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Justin Taylor notes that D. A. Carson “strongly endorses Dr. Megan Best’s new book, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Ethics and the Beginning of Human Life (Matthias Media, 2012): “At last—a single volume examining beginning-of-life issues that is equally competent in biology, theology, philosophy, and pastoral care. This is now the ‘must read’ book in the field, a necessary resource not only for pastors, ethicists, and laypersons who share her Christian convictions, but also for anyone who wants to participate knowledgeably in current bioethical debates.”

Many bloggers I read are talking about the new book by J. D. Greear entitled Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart:  How to Know for Sure You are SavedIt’s on sale right now for a reasonable price in the Kindle edition. You can read one chapter here for free.

“If you have ever heard the preaching of pastor Alistair Begg of Truth for Life Ministries, you know he has a Scottish brogue that seems to freshen every word he speaks. Now, Cruciform Press has teamed up with Alistair Begg to produce this beautiful, unabridged recording of what is quickly becoming a classic work from Jerry Bridges.This book is available as either a 2-CD product or downloadable audio book. It  runs about 2.5 hours and lists for $12.98, but we are offering it here for just $7.49.”  You can listen to chapter 3 of Who I Am for free by clicking here.

David Murray reviews Building a Pure Life, a “book was forged in the battlefield of personal sanctification as Pastor and Biblical Counselor, Dave Coats, fought for purity in this muddy world. Also, having worked with people in this area of spiritual struggle for many years, he concluded that the best way to help people who already lacked personal discipline and self-control was to provide a workbook format that “forced” them to study the Word of God daily.Over an eight week period of manageable daily lessons, Dave systematically dismantles the heart idols that surround the sins of impurity and gradually builds a new and powerful sense of the greatness and goodness of God. The mind is renewed by daily readings, songs, meditations, and questions, hopefully renewing the heart in the process.”  You can buy it here.

 

– See more at: http://cruciformpress.com/our-books/who-am-i/#audiobook

 

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A prayer by Scotty Smith that is based on these verses

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Then Scotty writes:

Dear Lord Jesus, yesterday’s troubling stories shape today’s morning prayer. I went to bed late last night, wearied with woes of good friends. I arise today hungry with hope in you—our great and gracious Savior.

Thank you for being honest with us about life this side of the new heaven and new earth. We are a broken people in a broken world; and you’re not an on-demand bellhop or genie, promising the elimination hardships and heartaches. But you are a very present help and Redeemer—pledging your presence in every circumstance and trial. Troubling news doesn’t have to cripple our hearts. Indeed, may it carry our hearts to you today, for you are ever so trustworthy, Lord Jesus.

For our friends stunned with heartbreaking health news, we declare our trust in you, Jesus. How we long for the day when words like cancerdementia and heart disease will no longer appear in our vocabulary. Until that day, we unabashedly and earnestly pray for healing, and we trust you for all-surpassing peace and more-than-sufficient grace.

For our friends saddened with heart-ripping issues with their children, we declare our trust in you, Jesus. Few troubling reports carry more power to dishearten than those related to our children. Whether they’ve been vandalized by others’ darkness or victimized by their own foolish choices, it hurts real bad and real deep. We appeal to your covenant faithfulness and your powerful reach. Capture the hearts of our children, Jesus, and help us love them well in the chaos and the crisis.

For our friends saddled with heart-wrenching financial burdens, we declare our trust in you, Jesus. There’s a growing number among us who have more month left over at the end of the check. Even though the Dow is up, the hope of many is down, and the possibility of losing homes still looms.

Continue reading here.

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Our church is planning on observing the Lord’s Supper this Sunday morning.  To help prepare my own heart for this I read this week a short devotional from John Flavel in which he shares six advantages of participating in this ordinance.  Here are three of them:

[T]he believing and affectionate remembrance of Christ [in the Lord’s Supper] is of singular advantage at all times to the people of God. For it is the immediate end of one of the greatest ordinances that ever Christ appointed to the church.

To have frequent recognitions of Christ, will appear to be singularly efficacious [productive] and useful to believers, if you consider,

1. If at any time the heart be dead and hard, this is the likeliest means in the world to dissolve, melt, and quicken it. Look hither, hard heart; hard indeed if this hammer will not break it. Behold the blood of Jesus.

2. Art thou easily overcome by temptations to sin? This is the most powerful restraint in the world from sin: Romans 6:2, ‘How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ We are crucified with Christ, what have we to do with sin? Have such a thought as this, when thy heart is yielding to temptation. How can I do this, and crucify the Son of God afresh! Hath He not suffered enough already on earth; shall I yet make Him groan as it were for me in heaven! Look, as David poured the water brought from the well of Bethlehem, on the ground, though he was athirst, for he said, it is the blood of the men. That is, they eminently hazarded their lives to fetch it; much more should a Christian pour out upon the ground, yea, despise and trample under foot, the greatest profit or pleasure of sin; saying, Nay, I will have nothing to do with it, I will on no terms touch it, for it is the blood of Christ: it cost blood, infinite, precious blood to expiate it. If there were a knife in your house that had been thrust to the heart of your father, you would not take pleasure to see that knife, much less to use it.

3. Are you afraid your sins are not pardoned, but still stand upon account before the Lord? What more relieving, what more satisfying, than to see the cup of the New Testament in the blood of Christ, which is ‘shed for many for the remission of sins’? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is ‘Christ that died’.

Flavel, 1:269–70 from Feasting with Christ: Meditations on the Lord’s Supper. 2012 (J. R. Beeke & P. M. Smalley, Ed.) (24–27). Darlington, England: Evangelical Press.

 

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