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Archive for March, 2015

Two humbling thoughts

The great English Puritan John Owen said, “There are two things that are suited to humble the souls of men, and they are, first, a due consideration of God, and then of themselves – of God, in his greatness, glory, holiness, power, majesty, and authority; of ourselves, in our mean, abject, and sinful condition.”

The great British preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross … Nothing else can do it. When I see that I am a sinner … that nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save me, I’m humbled to the dust … Nothing but the cross can give us this spirit of humility.”

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Jesus Christ is the beam of his Father’s love and through him the Father’s love reaches down and touches us. It is God’s will that he should always be seen as gentle, kind, tender, loving and unchangeable.

It is his will that we see him as the Father, and the great fountain and reservoir of all grace and love. . . Believers learn that it was God’s will and purpose to love them from everlasting to everlasting in Christ, and that all reason for God to be angry with us and treat us as his enemies has been taken away. The believer, being brought by Christ into the bosom of the Father, rests in the full assurance of God’s love and of never being separated from that love. Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not constantly delight and rejoice in God. There is still in them a resistance to walking close with God … So do this: set your thoughts on the eternal love of the Father and see if your heart is not aroused to delight in him. Sit down for a while at this delightful spring of living water and you will soon find its streams sweet and delightful. You who used to run from God will not now be able, even for a second, to keep at any distance from him.

Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not constantly delight and rejoice in God. There is still in them a resistance to walking close with God. . .So do this: set your thoughts on the eternal love of the Father and see if your heart is not aroused to delight in him. Sit down for a while at this delightful spring of living water and you will soon find its streams sweet and delightful. You who used to run from God will not now be able, even for a second, to keep at any distance from him.

John Owen, Communion with God, abridged by R. J. K. Law, Banner of Truth, 1991, pp. 16, 17, 32– 33.

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The crucifixion of Christ is an historical event! But it casts a shadow still today in the lives of those who have been saved by grace through faith.  And it does in very practical ways.  Really good stuff from Tim Chester here:

What does the practice of the cross mean when someone wrongs me?

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 32).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I’m tired and someone asks for help?

“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you” (Philippians 2: 17).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I want to hold back from taking a risk or moving out of my comfort zone?

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5: 1– 2).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I start asking, “How will this affect me?”

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus … he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2: 4– 5, 8).

What does the practice of the cross mean when my family asks why I’ve not pursued a career like other people?

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6: 14).

What does the practice of the cross mean when people don’t respond to my hard work on their behalf? “

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow-elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve” (1 Peter 5: 1– 2).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I open my wallet?

“See that you also excel in this grace of giving … For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8: 7, 9).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I start to say, “I want my way”?

“Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26: 38– 39).

What does the practice of the cross mean when friends urge me to join them in sinful behavior? When I am tempted to sin?

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin … They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you …” (1 Peter 4: 1, 4).

What does the practice of the cross mean when you are mocked for your faith?

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4: 12– 14).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I find other Christians difficult to get along with?

“Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me’ … Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15: 2– 3, 7).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I get a position of authority?

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 43– 45).

What does the practice of the cross mean when I see other Christians in need?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3: 16– 17).

What does the practice of the cross mean when the dishes need to be washed at home?

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5: 25; see also 1 Peter 2: 18 – 3: 7).

Chester, Tim (2013-10-23). Ordinary Hero (Kindle Locations 654–624). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition

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“The true test of our worldview is what we find entertaining. —Albert Mohler

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“We have tended to turn the Christian faith into a relationship through Christ with a God who is the divine vending machine in the sky, there to meet our every need. ‘Unhappy? Unattractive? Unsuccessful? Unmarried? Unfulfilled? Come to Christ and He will give you everything you ask for.’  We forget that God is not primarily in the business of meeting needs. And when we make Him out to be, we squeeze Him out of His rightful place at the center of our lives, and we put ourselves in His place. God is in the business of being God.”–Daniel Henderson, Culture Shift

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Esther came to a proud imperious man; we come to the God of love and grace. She was not called; we are: the Spirit says, Come, and the bride says, Come. She had a law against her; we have a promise, many a promise, in favor of us: Ask, and it shall be given you. She had no friend to introduce her, or intercede for her, while on the contrary he that was then the king’s favorite was her enemy; but we have an advocate with the Father, in whom he is well pleased. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace.–Matthew Henry

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