Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Spirit's Persuasive Work

"God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:5

“The Comforter gives a sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us, such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated withal. This is his work, and he doth it effectually. To give a poor sinful soul a comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties and affections, that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well pleased with him, hath thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards him; to give, I say, a soul an overflowing sense hereof, is an inexpressible mercy.”

John Owen, Works (Edinburgh, 1980), II:240.

-- from Ray Ortlund

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Season Devotional

From the faculty of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary...

"The season of Advent has traditionally been a time of preparation for Christians. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we have looked forward toward the second coming of Jesus Christ, even as we celebrated His first coming as a child in the manger. The faculty of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary are again pleased to have prepared 27 daily meditations for use from the Sunday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. Our hope is that you would be fulfilled and edified as you contemplate God's goodness, provision and mercy. If you would like to receive this daily email devotional, please fill out the form on this page. (We will not sell or release your information.)

"Please join us as we Journey to the Manger."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

President Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Here's a brief excerpt:

"...As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God...."

You can read the entire proclamation here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Blessing of Gratitude

A good meditation for Thanksgiving Day: "Why Jesus commands us to be thankful" by Stan Guthrie

Christ Saves Completely

"Because Christ lived perfectly, died sufficiently, and rose victoriously, you and I can come out of hiding. We are free to own up to, without fear, the darkest of our thoughts and motives, the ugliest of our words, our most selfish choices, and our most rebellious and unloving actions. We are freed from our bondage to guilt and shame. We are freed from hiding behind accusation, blame, recrimination, and rationalization.

"Confession is powerful and effective. It turns guilt into forgiveness. It turns regret into hope. It turns slavery into freedom. It turns you from mourning over your harvest to planting new seeds of faith, repentance, and hope. You see, you are not trapped! Things are not hopeless! The Lord, the great Creator and Savior, is the God who never changes, but at the same time he is the God who promises and produces deep personal change. The changes he makes in us are so foundational that the Bible’s best words describing them are ‘new creation.’ God’s plan is to change us so fundamentally that it is as if we are no longer us; something brand new has been created!"

— Paul David Tripp
Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God
(Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2004), 124

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"A Hole in Our Holiness"

A good post from Kevin DeYoung.... Here's the gist:

"I have a growing concern that younger evangelicals do not take seriously the Bible’s call to personal holiness. We are too at peace with worldliness in our homes, too at ease with sin in our lives, too content with spiritual immaturity in our churches."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Preachers who desire nothing but God...

“No, Aleck, no! The danger of ruin to Methodism does not lie here. It springs from quite a different quarter. Our preachers, many of them, are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God. They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, hardship. . . . Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.”

John Wesley, writing at age 87 to Alexander Mather, quoted in Luke Tyerman, The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley (London, 1871), III:632.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Faith, leading to informed obedience

D.A. Carson shares an insightful meditation on 1 Chronicles 15, leading to this conclusion...

"...Here is a profound lesson. At one level, doubtless God approves childlike praise and enthusiastic zeal. But he expects those with authority among his people to know what his Word says and obey it. No amount of enthusiasm and zeal can ever hope to make up for this lack. Zeal that is heading in the wrong direction never reaches the goal. It must either be redirected in the direction staked out in God’s Word, or however enthusiastic, it is still wrong-headed and misdirected. There is no substitute for faith working itself out in informed obedience."

Friday, November 19, 2010

"We care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering..."

From John Piper’s address to the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization:

One truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it impels us out toward the alleviation of all unjust suffering in this age. That’s what love does!

The other truth is that when the gospel takes root in our souls it awakens us to the horrible reality of eternal suffering in hell, under the wrath of a just and omnipotent God. And it impels us to rescue the perishing, and to warn people to flee from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10).

I plead with you. Don’t choose between those two truths. Embrace them both. It doesn’t mean we all spend our time in the same way. God forbid. But it means we let the Bible define reality and define love.

Could Lausanne say—could the evangelical church say—we Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering? I hope we can say that. But if we feel resistant to saying “especially eternal suffering,” or if we feel resistant to saying “we care about all suffering in this age,” then either we have a defective view of hell or a defective heart.

I pray that Lausanne would have neither.

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Justin Taylor outlines a thoughtful article from Ted Turnau on how to partake in, engage, and respond to pop culture.

Whatever else popular culture is, it is not trivial, because it is an expression of faith and worship.
  • Not all popular culture is equally meaningful.
  • Not every piece of popular culture is appropriate for engagement.
  • Popular culture works by creating imaginative landscapes for us to inhabit.
  • When thinking about a piece of popular culture, it pays to know the tricks of the trade.
  • Every piece of popular culture is a complicated mixture of grace and idolatry.
  • Think carefully about how to undermine the idol, and how the gospel applies to the piece of popular culture you’re sharing with friends.
  • Look for occasions where you can experience popular culture together with friends and family (both Christian and non-Christian).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Jesus Came

“Jesus Christ came to blind those who saw clearly, and to give sight to the blind; to heal the sick, and leave the healthy to die; to call to repentance and to justify sinners, and to leave the righteous in their sins; to fill the needy, and leave the rich empty.”

-- Pascal, Thoughts (New York, 1910), #771.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Online Bible Study Resource

The folks at Lifeway Publishing have produced an impressive new online Bible study resource (using the Holman Christian Standard Bible). You can find it at mystudybible.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

Looking forward in faith...

“It is one of the devil’s oldest tricks to discourage Christian believers by causing them to look back at what they once were. It is indeed the enemy of our souls who makes us forget that we are never at the end of God’s love. No one will make progress with God until the eyes are lifted to the faithfulness of God and we stop looking at ourselves! Our instructions in the New Testament all add up to the necessity of looking forward in faith-and not spending our time looking back or just looking within.” -- A.W. Tozer

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christ's Hope for the Hopeless

Whatever a man’s past life may have been, there is hope and a remedy for him in Christ. If he is only willing to hear Christ’s voice and follow Him, Christ is willing to receive him at once as a friend, and to bestow on him the fullest measure of mercy and grace. The Samaritan woman, the penitent thief, the Philippian jailor, the tax-collector Zaccheus, are all patterns of Christ’s readiness to show mercy, and to confer full and immediate pardons. It is His glory that, like a great physician, He will undertake to cure those who are apparently incurable, and that none are too bad for Him to love and heal. Let these things sink down into our hearts. Whatever else we doubt, let us never doubt that Christ’s love to sinners passes knowledge, and that Christ is as willing to receive as He is almighty to save.

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, volume 1, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987], 207, 208.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Grumblers in the Refiner's Fire"

Kevin DeYoung is a clear, relevant teacher of God's Word. On his own blog he's been doing a series from the Book of Malachi. Here's an excerpt:

"You have wearied the Lord with your words." (Malachi 2:17)

"God’s people have a history of grumbling. Things were no different in Malachi’s day. In this fourth argument, the people voiced two main grumbles against God. “First, Lord, you’re treating the bad guys like the good guys. Second, you’re sitting in heaven doing nothing when you should come and judge the wicked.” They wanted the God of the ten plagues and Mt. Carmel to zap their enemies. It’s not that they were consumed with zeal for the Lord’s glory. They just wanted their problems to go away. So they grumbled.

"We are grumblers too. We’re too busy, too bored, we don’t have enough money, we’re not appreciated, we don’t like our church, our sports teams stink, we don’t look good, don’t feel good, we’re too skinny, too fat, too short, too tall, our clothes are worn out, our car’s a lemon, we’re single and we wish were married, we’re married and we wish we had kids, we have kids and we wish we could be single again. We moan and murmur like a whiney two year old.

"But God calls us to patience and longsuffering. And he calls us to confidence too. When we are assured that God is working all things according to his good purpose, we are freed to 'do everything with grumbling or complaining' (Philippians 2:14)."

You can read the entire blog post here.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"...enjoy Him forever."

"If I were to ask you why you have believed in Christ, why you have become Christians, every man will answer truly, 'For the sake of happiness.'"


Monday, November 8, 2010

"The thing just isn't there."

Behold, they are all a delusion;
their works are nothing;
their metal images are empty wind. Isaiah 41:29

“I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion — which raises its head in every temptation — that there is something else than God, some other country into which he forbids us to trespass, some kind of delight which he ‘doesn’t appreciate’ or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as he can, or else a false picture of what he is trying to give us, a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing. . . . He knows what we want, even in our vilest acts. He is longing to give it to us. . . . The truth is that evil is not a real thing at all, like God. It is simply good spoiled. . . . You know what the biologists mean by a parasite — an animal that lives on another animal. Evil is a parasite. It is there only because good is there for it to spoil and confuse.”

-- C. S. Lewis, in Walter Hooper, editor, They Stand Together (New York, 1979), page 465. Italics original.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Are you still amazed by grace?

“Being amazed by God’s grace is a sign of spiritual vitality. It is a litmus test of how firm and real is our grasp of the Christian gospel and how close is our walk with Jesus Christ. The growing Christian finds that the grace of God astonishes and amazes.”

- Sinclair B. Ferguson, By Grace Alone (Orlando, Fl.; Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010), xiv.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pray for the Advance of the Gospel

Prayer is one of the best and most powerful means of helping forward the cause of Christ in the world. It is a means within the reach of all who have the Spirit of adoption. Not all believers have money to give to missions. Very few have great intellectual gifts, or extensive influence among men. But all believers can pray for the success of the Gospel, and they ought to pray for it daily. Many and marvelous are the answers to prayer which are recorded for our learning in the Bible. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16.)

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 1, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986], 345.

"Be Prepared" (for college profs....)

R.C. Sproul gives some helpful advice to young people and their parents about what typically can happen as Christian students encounter professors hostile to Christian belief....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

All Legislation is Moral

Micah Watson—William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Affairs at the James Madison Program at Princeton University and Director of the Center for Politics & Religion at Union University—has a helpful essay today on “Why We Can’t Help But Legislate Morality.”

Here’s the conclusion:

To legislate, then, is to legislate morality. One can no more avoid legislating morality than one can speak without syntax. One cannot sever morality from the law. Even partisans of the most spartan libertarian conception of the state would themselves employ state power to enforce their vision of the common good. Given this understanding, the term “morals legislation” is, strictly speaking, redundant. The real question is not whether the political community will legislate morality; the question is which vision of morality will be enforced and by what sort of government.

You can read the whole thing here.

(from Justin Taylor)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You have to trample on Him to go there...

“The gospel does not say, ‘There is a Savior, if you wish to be saved’; but, ‘Sir, you have no right to go to hell — you cannot go there without trampling on the Son of God.’”

-- John Duncan, quoted in Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism (Edinburgh, 1995), page 97.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God's children are pleasing to Him...

“God’s children are pleasing and lovable to Him, since He sees in them the marks and features of His own countenance.”

- John Calvin, Institutes, 3.17.5