Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How We Overcome

"How dare you approach the mercy-seat of God on the basis of what kind of day you had, as if that were the basis for our entrance into the presence of the sovereign and holy God? No wonder we cannot beat the Devil. This is works theology. It has nothing to do with grace and the exclusive sufficiency of Christ. Nothing.

"Do you not understand that we overcome the accuser on the ground of the blood of Christ? Nothing more, nothing less. That is how we win. It is the only way we win. This is the only ground of our acceptance before God. If you drift far from the cross, you are done. You are defeated.

"We overcome the accuser of our brothers and sisters, we overcome our consciences, we overcome our bad tempers, we overcome our defeats, we overcome our lusts, we overcome our fears, we overcome our pettiness on the basis of the blood of the Lamb."

— D. A. Carson
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 103

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Christ the Lord Is Risen Today"

[Included below are more verses than are generally sung today....]

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is o'er, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

–Charles Wesley
originally posted by Tullian Tchividjian

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Christ's Resurrection: The Enthronement of the New King

"The story of the Gospels is one in which Jesus inaugurates a new reign of God and deals a deathblow to the imposter king through his death on the cross. If the Cross is the defeat of the old king, the Resurrection is the enthronement of the new." -- J.R. Daniel Kirk

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday...Easter Sunday...But what about Saturday?

"Holy Saturday speaks a peculiarly needed word to a world that demands satisfaction now, immediately. It is a day of quiet waiting, when obedience to the command to rest, to observe Sabbath as the women did, is harder than ever in Israel’s history. The resurrection is not yet. Holy Saturday is quintessentially the day when the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper and God is silent. It is the day when 'the souls under the altar' are told to rest for a little while until their number is completed. It is in its own way the emblem of the entire present age." -- Jon Laansma

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to be truly nourished by God's Word

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” 

― Charles H. Spurgeon

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Resurrection and Kingdom Ministry

from Michael Bird ("Evangelical Theology")

...Finally, resurrection is an inspiration for kingdom ministry.

The resurrection is not simply an amazing fact that God brings dead people to life. It has a host of consequences. Jesus is risen; therefore God’s new world has begun. Jesus is risen; therefore the tyrants and despots of the world should tremble and quiver — because God has exalted Jesus and every knee will bow before him. Jesus is risen; therefore Israel has been restored and the plan for the nation is fulfilled in him. Jesus is risen; therefore death has been defeated. Jesus is risen; therefore creation groans in anticipation of its renewal. Jesus is risen; therefore we will be raised also to live in God’s new world. Jesus is risen; therefore go and make disciples in his name. The resurrection means that God’s new world has broken into our own world, and we are heirs and ambassadors of the king that is coming.

But the resurrection implies something else. It means we have the task of proclaiming and embodying before the world exactly what this new creation is and what it looks like. We are a resurrection people, and we demonstrate how resurrection— as both a present experience and a future hope — impacts people when it is worked out in daily life, family life, and community life. If we are “children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), we show the suitability of this name when we are committed to talking, taking, and turning our lives into a means of life-giving grace to those around us.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes his most extensive discourse on the resurrection— that it is intrinsic to the gospel, what the resurrection body looks like, and how it is part of God’s victory. Yet we must take to heart the application that the apostle makes at the end: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (15:58, italics added). Here Paul is telling the Corinthians that despite the world around them, pagan and promiscuous as it is, they must hold their ground, not let up, and not shut up, because they are the vessels of the same divine power exercised in the resurrection of Christ. The future horizon of resurrection gives purpose and drive to Christian living in the present.

If you’re contemplating missionary service, adding your name to rosters at church, learning to preach, becoming a Sunday school teacher, wondering what you can do to stop sex-trafficking, then do it. Here’s why: the resurrection moves us to take risks for God because the resurrection proves that God is behind us, before us, and with us. Our labor in the Lord in this life plants seeds that will sprout forth in the resurrection life; thus, what work we do in this age will flower in the coming age of new creation.

Furthermore, if the resurrection drives us to do anything, it must surely be worship. Look what happened when the women at the empty tomb met the risen Lord: “Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him” (Matt 28:9, italics added). Their first thought was not to hold a colloquium on the nature of the resurrection body or reconcile scientific notions of personal identity with molecular biology. I imagine that their knees bent with awe, their mouths opened with joy, and their arms were raised in adoration. Resurrection bids us to cling to Christ in joyous and exulting worship.

If our theology is gospel-driven, the resurrection will permeate every facet of Christian thought. We can contemplate Christ only as the risen Lord. We may speak of God’s kingdom only as it enters our world through resurrection power. We imagine the Spirit not as an impersonal force, but as the personal instrument of inward regeneration and physical resurrection. The church exists only upon the premise and in the power of resurrection. Indeed, we can only view the world around us through the lens of resurrection faith. John Chrysostom’s famous paschal homily speaks of the all-encompassing transformation of reality wrought by Christ’s resurrection:

Christ is risen! And you, O death, are annihilated!

Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!

Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen! And life is liberated!

Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead;

For Christ having risen from the dead,

Is become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and power, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages.

Amen. (pgs. 447-448)

- See more at: http://www.koinoniablog.net/2014/04/consequences-of-the-resurrection-and-evangelical-theology-by-michael-bird.html#sthash.ESr7D6FO.vG5fwKDI.dpuf

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"A Prayer for Palm Sunday" (from Pastor Scotty Smith)

     Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. Zech. 9:9-12

    Dear Lord Jesus, we’ll exhaust the wonder of this passage as soon as we drink Niagara Falls dry; as soon as we memorize the names of every star you’ve launched into the heavens; as soon as we finish climbing all the Alps in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and France. You are the King of Zechariah’s vision, and on this Palm Sunday, we worship, honor, and bless you.

No other king could show up to conquer warhorses and warriors, humbly riding on the foal of a donkey. No other king could break the battle bow and the backbone of all warfare, by the brokenness of the cross. No other king could supplant the politics of evil and tyranny of power, with an eternal reign of peace.

No other king could offer his life and death, for the redemption and restoration, of rebels and idolaters like us. No other king could possibly make prisoners of sin, death, and “waterless pits,” into prisoners of hope.

Lord Jesus, you are that King—the King of glory, the King of kings and Lord of lords—the Monarch of mercy, the Governor of grace, the Prince of Peace. Great is our rejoicing, for you have come to us, righteous and victorious, loving and sovereign.

By the riches of your grace, continue to free us from waterless pits, broken cisterns and worthless idols. By the power of the gospel, enable us to live as prisoners of hope and agents of redemption until the Day you return to finish making all things new. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and matchless name.

-- Pastor Scotty Smith

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Find Your Identity Vertically

"...Gideon [in Judges 6:15] finds his identity in his own strength and in his own family. I think you should respect, love, and cherish your earthly family, but if you're a child of God, you have a new Father; you've been adopted into a new family. Gideon forgets that his identity is defined by God and not by Manasseh.

You will only be able to be the person you're called to be and do the things you're called to do when you find your identity vertically. Horizontal identities never give you the strength you need and never satisfy your soul...."

-- Paul Tripp (part of a very helpful set of articles based on the Book of Judges from Tripp's excellent website)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Trust....and obey

“By establishing his kingdom, God reveals his glory in the world through creating a people who will obey his commands as an expression of their confidence in his sovereignty.”

-- Scott Hafemann, p. 237 “For the Fame of His Name”

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The King

"The man who was mocked as king—is the king." -- D.A. Carson (Matthew 27:42)  "Scandalous"