Monthly Archives: January 2011

Christ the Jewel

Christ Most Precious

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Phil. 3:8 NKJV

Jesus Christ is more precious than the finest diamond, more precious than all the world’s power, and more precious than all the praise of men (and women). He is more precious than sin’s best pleasure, the world’s mightiest throne, and Satan’s best promises. Jesus is worth living for and dying for. Cast aside all power, privilege, and authority to have him. Run to Jesus, the man of forgiveness, love, joy, and liberty. At Jesus’ feet, one finds a jewel that cannot be bought or sold only treasured and loved (Isa. 55:1-3). Embrace him and embrace all that life was meant to be, miss him and stumble into a vast void of emptiness (John 10:10 NLT).

Christ is a jewel more worth than a thousand worlds, as all know who have Him. Get Him, and get all; miss Him and miss all.

Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Vol. 3.

Conversing With God

A Still Small Voice

And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:12 NLT

Prayer is an ongoing dialogue-a real and intimate conversation-between the Abba Father of Jesus and us, his beloved children. Since prayer is a conversation between us and God, we can expect to be heard by the Holy Spirit and to be spoken to by God. Our conversation with God involves sharing, asking questions, clarifying, and responding. Prayer opens our hearts to God’s presence, our ears to his direction, our minds to his will, and our spirit to his great love. Prayer makes us great receivers of God’s most gracious grace.

Prayer is standing before God transparent and open in a real on-going back-and-forth conversation. In that conversation, we share our hopes, fears, needs, and desires knowing that our Abba Father who cares for us will respond. He will hear our cry and answer: he will move on our behalf and provide what is best for us.

Does God, then, really tell us things when we pray? Yes. We shall probably not hear voices, nor feel sudden strong impressions of a message coming through (and we shall be wise to suspect such experiences should they come our way); but as we analyze and verbalize our problems before God’s throne, and tell him what we want and why we want it, and think our way through passages and principles of God’s written Word bearing on the matter in hand, we shall find many certainties crystallizing in our hearts as to God’s view of us and our prayers, and his will for us and others. If you ask, “Why is this or that happening?” no light may come, for “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29); but if you ask, “How am I to serve and glorify God here and now, where I am?” there will always be an answer.

J. I. Packer, Growing in Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994).

We Love the Bible Because We Love Christ

Love for the Scriptures

You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!

John 5:39 NLT

To be in love with Christ is to be in love with the Word of God, the Bible. Through God’s Word, we come to know and experience all of Christ’s perfections, beauty, and glory. To read and examine what Christ has done for us is to be encouraged to trust God’s promises, empowered to love in a world full of chaos, and strengthened against the assaults of the evil one. To love Christ is to love his Word. The quality of our reading, studying, and meditation of God’s Word is an indication of the quality of our love, zeal, and passion for our Savior.

A man who loves his wife will love her letters and her photographs because they speak to him of her. So if we love the Lord Jesus we shall love the Bible because it speaks to us of him. The husband is not so stupid as to prefer his wife’s letters to her voice, or her photographs to herself. He simply loves them because of her. So, too, we love the Bible because of Christ. It is his portrait. It is his love-letter.

John Stott, Fundamentalism and Evangelism (London: Crusade Booklets, 1956), 22.

I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah (?)

His Righteousness

Righteousness: Being Right With God

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.

Rom. 1:16-17 NLT

When we look to Christ in faith and believe that his death was our death, and that his punishment was our judgment, and that his blood shed is our forgiveness, we receive by God’s grace his righteousness. This righteous declaration is forensic in that the legal charges against us have been dropped and we are declared in right standing with God. To be credited as righteous is to be conferred a legal standing of being forgiven and no longer liable to punishment.

Justification is an immediate work of God in which he forgives our sins, counts Christ’s righteousness as our own, and declares us righteous in his sight. Christ’s righteousness is not only declared to be our righteousness in heaven, but this righteousness also transforms our life here on earth. The Reformation tradition is unwavering: the imputed righteousness of Christ is a free gift; it cannot be earned. It can only be received from a grateful heart by faith alone

Righteousness apart from the law; righteousness apart from human doings; righteousness apart from man’s deserving; righteousness given freely to those who do not desire it. Righteousness streaming from the heart of God because of the nature of His being. This is the theme of the Word of God. Look into your own heart and see whether you are trusting, even in a small fraction, in something that you are doing for yourself, or that you are doing for God, instead of finding that you have ceased from your works, and are resting on the righteous work that was accomplished on the cross of Calvary.

Righteousness that you must choose by abandoning any hope of salvation from anything that is in yourself, or could produce by yourself; God’s own righteousness, and the only righteousness that can produce practical righteousness in you.

Donald Grey Barnhouse, “Righteousness Without the Law,” in Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 364.

My Portion

Our Inheritance is God

I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

Psalm 142:5 KJV

Remember when your were a little kid and mom was dolling out the ice cream. Every brother, sister, or friend had to get the same amount. No one should or could feel cheated. Every one must have the same and equal portion of ice cream. The idea of “portion,” meant an individual part or share in something.

In scripture, the word, “portion,” means something different. Portion in the old King James Version Bible and in the writings of the Puritans meant, “inheritance” : something granted or given to us by God. The greatest gift that God can give us is himself. Therefore, God is our inheritance: all we could ever want or desire. He is our complete satisfaction, our perfect portion forever.

Our God is a safe portion, a secure portion. He is a portion that no one can rob you of. He is a portion that none can touch or take from you. He is a portion that none can cheat or spoil you of. God is such a portion, that no friend, no foe, and no devil can ever rob a Christian of. O Christians, God is so yours in Christ, and so yours by covenant, and so yours by promise, and so yours by purchase, and so yours by conquest, and so yours by marriage union and communion, and so yours by the earnest of the Spirit, and so yours by the feelings and witnessings of the Spirit, that no power or policy on earth can ever pilfer your portion, or cheat, or rob you of your portion. He is not only our God for the present, O no! He will be our God for ever and ever. If God be once your portion, he will be forever your portion.

Thomas Brooks, Works of Thomas Thomas Brooks, II:26-27, cited in Voices From the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings, ed., Richard Rushing (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 22.

What is Bible Meditation?

Word and Spirit

Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.

Psalm 119:33

Bible meditation is the diligent and careful consideration of God’s Word for the purpose of growing in the knowledge of God and for the obtaining of practical holiness. The believer uses his or her own rational abilities combined with Spirit-led illumination and heart-felt participation to engage God’s Spirit-inspired Word. We study the Bible to learn God’s ways, grow into God’s character, and learn God’s commands.

God has ordained that the eye-opening work of his Spirit always be combined with the mind-informing work of his Word.

John Piper, A Godward Life, Book Two (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 1999), 184.

I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions. If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

George Muller, .

Feeling Sorry for Ourselves

The Self-Deception of Self-Pity

He [Elijah] replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.

1 Kings 19:10 NIV

Self-pity is feeling sorry for oneself: a pathetic state of self-absorption. Self-pity is our own belief that we are victims of pernicious circumstances and hostile people. “No one’s life is as hard as mine” is the cry of the “forsaken” saint.

When we  walk in self-pity, we long for attention, condolences, and admiration for our “unbearable suffering.” Christians experiencing self-pity want our wounded egos massaged by others: see my sacrifice, see my suffering, see my heroic efforts, etc. Self-pity is smashed when we see our Savior’s sufferings and recognize that in a fallen world no one is immune from pain and disappointment.

As Christians we should never feel sorry for ourselves. The moment we do so, we lose our energy, we lose the will to fight and the will to live, and are paralyzed.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

HT: Christian Quote of the Day

“Handle Them With Hands”

Ministry That Is Full of the Spirit

And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom.

Acts 6:3 NLT

When I entered the ministry some thirty years ago (it seems like yesterday), the emphasis was on the Holy Spirit’s power. Christian leaders taught that Christian ministry should not be pursued without the Spirit’s blessing. Our ministry could not be successful without the Spirit’s enabling. Our ministry would not have a lasting impact without the anointing of the Spirit. Our ministry could not change hearts without the transforming work of the Spirit. All these statements were true and are still true.

While these “spiritual” concerns were real and should be heeded by any gospel minister: we should not neglect diligent study of the Word, faithful theological reflection, and research into the latest insights in pastoral care and counseling. Emphasis on the Spirit’s anointing should not displace diligent and faithful study. “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15 NLT).

It’s not an either-or, God blesses the minister with a yielded heart and a faithful mind. We worship and serve the Lord in “Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). We are called to love the Lord with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

However for today’s new minister, the pendulum has swung the other direction. For the training of new pastors, the academic is over emphasized to the neglect of spiritual maturity. The obtaining of advance degrees more prized than a ministry candidate’s prayer life. The size of the congregation more valued than than the depth of the minister’s walk with the Lord.

We need both: faithful men and women who will walk with God while consistently acting on the means of grace: study of the Word of God, earnest prayer, receiving the sacraments, and fellowshipping with other believers.

This practice he [i.e., David Brainerd] earnestly recommended on his death-bed, from his own experience of its great benefits, to some candidates for the ministry that stood by his bedside. He often speaking of the great need of ministers have much of the Spirit of Christ in their work, and how little good they are like to do without it; and how, ‘when ministers were under the special influences of the Spirit of God, it assisted them to come at consciences of men, and (as he expressed it) as it were to handle them with hands: whereas, without the Spirit of God, said he, whatever reason and oratory we make use of, we do but make use of stumps, instead of hands.’

Jonathan Edwards quoted by D. M. Lloyd-Jones, “Jonathan Edwards and the Crucial Importance of Revival,” in The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987), 370.

“People Will Be Miserable”

Motive For Mission

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Tim. 2:3-4 NKJV

Christian mission is the divine call to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the story of his life, miracles, death, and resurrection, to the world by establishing churches in different cultures, locations, and language groups. Missions should be a joy not a burden to the believer. Missions means lives knowing and experiencing the love, joy, and peace of Christ: they are no longer miserable. Missions means pleasing God’s heart by sharing the truth of his Son to those whose need is greater than they know.

Missions is calling the world to do what they were created to do, namely, to enjoy making much of God forever. If missions does not reach a people with the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ, God will be dishonored and the people will be miserable—forever. Therefore we are driven by two motives (which turn out to be one): the glory of God, and the good of man. They are one because praise to God is the consummation of pleasure in God.

John Piper, “Everlasting Truth for the Joy of All Peoples

Why Does God Love Us?

God Loves Us Because He Loves Us

The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you . . . .

Deut. 7:7-8 NLT

Does God love us because we are good little boys and girls? Does God love us because we attended church all our lives? Does God love us because we are talented, pretty, and full of life and personality? Does God love us because we keep all the rules and obey all the norms of our society? No, he loves us because he loves us. It has nothing to do with our performance, it has every thing to do with his grace and glory.

Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love. God showed his wisdom, power, justice, and holiness in our redemption by Christ. If you ask why he made so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and had now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him, we have an answer at hand: Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other answer but because he loved us; for beyond the first rise of things we cannot go. And the same reason is given by Moses, Deut. 7:7–8: ‘The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you . . . .’ That is, in short, he loved you because he loved you. All came from his free and undeserved mercy; higher we cannot go in seeking after the causes of what is done for our salvation.

Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 2:340–341.

HT: Miscellanies