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Archive for the ‘Theology Matters’ Category

There may be circumstances in your earthly lot which at this moment are peculiarly trying. You look around and wonder how this or that circumstance will terminate. At present it looks very dark–clouds and mists hang over it, and you fear lest these clouds may break, not in showers upon your head, but burst forth in the lightning flash and the thunder stroke! But all things are put in subjection under Christ’s feet! That which you dread cannot take place except by His sovereign will–nor can it move any further except by His supreme disposal. Then make yourself quiet. He will not allow you to be harmed. That frowning providence shall only execute His sovereign purposes, and it shall be among those all things which, according to His promise, shall work together for your good. None of our trials come upon us by chance! They are all appointed in weight and measure–are all designed to fulfill a certain end. And however painful they may at present be, yet they are intended for your good. When the trial comes upon you, what a help it would be for you if you could view it thus, “This trial is sent for my good. It does not spring out of the dust. The Lord Himself is the supreme disposer of it. It is very painful to bear; but let me believe that He has appointed me this peculiar trial, along with every other circumstance. He will bring about His own will therein, and either remove the trial, or give me patience under it, and submission to it.”

Source: J.C. Philpot

(The Subjection of All Things Under the Feet of Jesus)

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joy

 

Did you know that God commands us to be glad?

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

 

1) God created us for his glory.

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth,… whom I created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

God made us to magnify his greatness – the way telescopes magnify stars. He created us to put his goodness and truth and beauty and wisdom and justice on display. The greatest display of God’s glory comes from deep delight in all that he is. This means that God gets the praise and we get the pleasure. God created us so that he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

 

2) Every human should live for God’s glory.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

If God made us for his glory, it is clear that we should live for his glory. Our duty comes from his design. So our first obligation is to show God’s value by being satisfied with all that he is for us. This is the essence of loving God (Matthew 22:37) and trusting him (1 John 5:3-4) and being thankful to him (Psalm 100:2-4) It is the root of all true obedience, especially loving others (Colossians 1:4-5).

 

3) All of us have failed to glorify God as we should.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

What does it mean to “fall short of the glory of God?” It means that none of us has trusted and treasured God the way we should. We have not been satisfied with his greatness and walked in his ways. We have sought our satisfaction in other things, and treated them as more valuable than God, which is the essence of idolatry (Romans 1:21-23). Since sin came into the world we have all been deeply resistant to having God as our all-satisfying treasure (Ephesians 2:3). This is an appalling offense to the greatness of God (Jeremiah 2:12-13).

 

4) All of us are subject to God’s just condemnation.

“The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).

We have all belittled the glory of God. How? By preferring other things above him. By our ingratitude, distrust and disobedience. So God is just in shutting us out from the enjoyment of his glory forever. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The word “hell” is used in the New Testament twelve times – eleven times by Jesus himself. It is not a myth created by dismal and angry preachers. It is a solemn warning from the Son of God who died to deliver sinners from its curse. We ignore it at great risk.

If the Bible stopped here in its analysis of the human condition, we would be doomed to a hopeless future. However, this is not where it stops…

 

5) God sent his only son Jesus to provide eternal life and joy.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15)

The good news is that Christ died for sinners like us. And he rose physically from the dead to validate the saving power of his death and to open the gates of eternal life and joy (1 Corinthians 15:20). This means God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just (Romans 3:25-26). “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Coming home to God is where all deep and lasting satisfaction is found.

 

6) The benefits purchased by the death of Christ belong to those who repent and trust him.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19). “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

“Repent” means to turn from all the deceitful promises of sin. “Faith” means being satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Jesus. “He who believes in me,” Jesus says, “shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We do not earn our salvation. We cannot merit it (Romans 4:4-5). It is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a free gift (Romans 3:24). We will have it if we cherish it above all things (Matthew 13:44). When we do that, God’s aim in creation is accomplished: He is glorified in us and we are satisfied in him – forever.

 

Does this make sense to you?

Do you desire the kind of gladness that comes from being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus? If so, then God is at work in your life.

What should you do?

Turn from the deceitful promises of sin. Call upon Jesus to save you from the guilt and punishment and bondage. “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Start banking your hope on all that God is for you in Jesus. Break the power of sin’s promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of God’s promises. Begin reading the Bible to find his precious and very great promises, which can set you free (2 Peter 1:3-4). Find a Bible-believing church and begin to worship and grow together with other people who treasure Christ above all things (Philippians 3:7).

 

The best news in the world is that there is no necessary conflict between our happiness and God’s holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus magnifies him as a great Treasure.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

 

Source: Desiring God Ministries (www.desiringgod.org)

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Do-it-now

If only we could go back in time and share some wisdom with our younger selves! One little girl wrote some advice to herself ten years in the future.

Her family called this Johnson City, Tennessee girl “quirky,” but by all accounts, Taylor Scout Smith was a deeply spiritual young lady who loved God and was excited to do mission work.

While rummaging through their daughter’s things, Taylor’s parents spied a letter Taylor wrote to herself on April 13, 2013, which was to be opened on that same day exactly ten years later. Taylor specified that the letter was for her eyes only “unless said otherwise,” as she put it. Her parents took this as permission to open it.

While some of the letter deals with whimsical interests, such as visits to Dollywood and episodes of Dr. Who, Taylor also encourages her future self to graduate high school and get a college degree.

Now, if you’re wondering whether Taylor’s parents violated their daughter’s privacy, you need to know that tragedy struck their family early this year. Just after Christmas, Taylor died suddenly of complications from pneumonia. It’s a scenario no parent should have to endure, but sharing Taylor’s letter with others is helping them work through their grief.

Her death also lends a greater weight to the message she wanted her future self to ponder. Permit me to quote this part in full. “How’s your relationship with God? Have you prayed, worshipped, read the Bible or gone to serve the Lord recently? If not, get up and do so NOW! I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it. He was mocked, beaten, tortured, and crucified for you! A sinless man, who never did you or any other person any wrong! Now, have you gone on any more mission trips?”

Wow. We may be old and infirm or young and full of vitality, but death comes for us all, and none of us knows the time in advance. St. Anthony, who founded desert monasticism in the third century, felt that a Christian should always be mindful of his death.

He wrote, “If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle’s words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts.”

Now, how many of us can say that we could meet death today with an unfettered heart? Are we prepared to meet our Maker, or are our spirits weighed down or distracted with bills to pay, kids to pick up from the drama club, or that TV show to watch?

Another question is, “What are we putting aside until later that we should be doing now?” Taylor told herself not to wait another day, not even another moment, to pray and worship God, to read the Bible and serve the Lord.

Can any of this really important stuff wait? No, says a young lady who now resides in God’s glory. Don’t wait another moment to praise God for your blessings or to tell another that God has reconciled us to Himself. Don’t wait another moment to tell your family that you love them or that you’re sorry for what you’ve done. And while you’re at it, offer a prayer of consolation for Taylor’s family and friends.

Taylor’s letter ends with an uncanny statement about the uncertainty of life. She wrote, “It’s been ten years since I wrote this. Stuff has happened good and bad. That’s how life works, and you have to go with it.”

Indeed. If we aren’t careful, the craziness of life can pull all of us away from what really matters. Thank God that He gave us such an important reminder in the words of a faithful girl.

 

Source: Eric Metaxas (BreakPoint Daily)

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love jesus

“We love  because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth.

O, how I love Jesus,
O, how I love Jesus,
O, how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.

It tells me what my Father hath,
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe,
Who in each sorrow bears a part
That none can bear below.

Author: Frederick Whitfield

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My most gracious Beloved,

I am now going from a prison to a palace: I have finished my work, and am now going to receive my wages.  I am going to heaven, where are two of my children, and leaving you on earth, where there are three of my babes.  These two above, need not my care; but the three below need thine.  It comforts me to think, two of my children are in the bosom of Abraham, and three of them will be in the arms and care of such a tender and godly mother.  I know you are a woman of sorrowful spirit, yet be comforted, though you sorrows be great for you husband going out of the world, yet your pains shall be the less in bringing your child into the world; you shall be a joyful mother, though you be a sad widow; God hath many mercies in store for you; the prayer of a dying husband for you, will not be lost.  To my shame I speak it, I never prayed for you at liberty, as I have done in prison.  I can write much, but I have few practical counsels to leave with you, viz.,

1. Keep under a sound, orthodox, soul searching ministry. Oh! There are many deceivers gone out into the world, but Christ’s sheep know His voice, and a stranger they will not follow.  Attend any minister that teacheth the way of God in truth; and follow Solomon’s advice, Proverbs 19:27.

2. Bring up your children in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord.  The mother ought to be a teacher in the father’s absence, Proverbs 31:1, “The words that his mother taught him…”  And Timothy was instructed by his grandmother, 1 Timothy 1:5.

3. Pray in your family daily, that yours may be in the number of the families who call upon God.

4. Labor for a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God, is of great price, 1 Peter 3:4.

5. Pour not on the comforts you want, but upon the mercies you have.  Look rather at God’s ending in afflicting, than to the measure and degree of your affliction.

6. Labor to clear up your evidence for heaven when God takes from you the comfort of earth, so that as your sufferings do abound, your consolation in Christ may abound much more, 2 Corinthians 1:5.  Though it be good to maintain a holy jealously of heart, yet it is still ill of you to cherish fears and doubts touching the truth of your graces.  If ever I had confidence touching the grace of another, I have confidence of grace in you; as Peter said of Silvanus, I am persuaded that this is the grace of God wherein ye stand, 1 Peter 5:12.

7. O, my dear soul wherefore dost thou doubt, who heart has been laid upright, whose walking has been holy, &c.  I could venture my soul this day in they soul’s stead, such a confidence I have in you.

8. When you find your heart secure, presumptuous and proud, then pour upon corruption more than grace: then look upon your grace without infirmities.

9. Study the covenant of grace, and merits of Christ, and be troubled if you can; you are interested in such a covenant that accepts purposes for performances, desires for deeds, sincerity for perfection, the righteousness of another, viz., that of Jesus Christ, as it were your own alone.  Oh! My love! Rest thou in the love of God, the bosom of Christ.

10. Swallow up your will in the will of God.  It is a bitter cup we are to drink, but it is the cup of our Father which has been put into our hands.  When Paul was to suffer at Jerusalem, the Christians said, “The will of the Lord be done!” Oh! Say ye so, when I go to the Tower-Hill, “The will of the Lord be done!”

11. Rejoice in my joy.  To mourn for me inordinately argues, that you either envy or suspect my happiness.  The joy of the Lord is my strength; Oh! Let it be yours also!  Dear wife, farewell: I will call thee wife no more: I shall see thy face no more: yet I am not much troubled, for now I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, to whom I shall be eternally married.

12. Refuse not to marry, when God offers you a fair opportunity; but be sure you marry in the Lord; and one of a good disposition, that he may not grieve you, but give you a comfortable livelihood in the world.

Farewell dear love, and again I say farewell.  The Lord Jesus be with your spirit, the Maker of heaven and earth be a husband to you; and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ be a father to your children – so prays your dying,

Your most affectionate friend till death,

Christopher love

The day of my glorification.

From the Tower of London, August 22, 1651

Source:  www.sounddoctrine.net

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good

God is good because of who he is.

He is not good because we like our circumstances.
He is not good because we deserve his goodness.
He is not good because we have good health.
He is not good because we may live in apparent safety compared to others.
He is not good because it is a beautiful day.

God is good simply and profoundly because his own being and character defines goodness. God is good even when our lives are torn by despair. God is good when a storm brings destruction. God is good when those we love become sick and we see the awful plague of death. God is good in ravages of war. God is good when the car doesn’t start. God is good when your child’s favorite toy breaks.

God was good when his son hung on the cross for my sins.

The unshakeable truth that God is good is cornerstone of our lives. Whether our experience confirms it or not, God is good. This truth will orient our lives to praise God for who he is. He alone is good. He alone is God.

Your hope is not tied to the pleasantness of your circumstances. Your hope is rooted in the eternal goodness of your God.

For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
Psalm 100:5

 

 

Source: Shepherd Press

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chair

Sometimes the hope of Christmas is, “Next year all our troubles will be miles away.” That’s what the song says anyway, but many will not have a merry Christmas just because of that. They know it is not true. Many start with and cannot get past the empty chair—where their husband used to sit, where their daughter used to climb, where grandma used to stand to reach up high. Sure, the stores have been visited, and the goodies consumed, but joy will not be unmixed this season because someone isn’t there. Death has come and cast its shadow upon Christmas.

 

Lurking in this shadow is the great beast, despair—slithering through the house as the family arrives, waiting for an opportunity to steal your joy. Satan loves to use good memories to bring pain. The fond remembrance of how it used to be can become a sea of sadness because it will never be just like that again.

 

I can still remember Christmas as a boy and teenager when my grandpa was alive. He would read from the Bible and pray, and some years would surprise the family with interesting gifts that he wanted to keep at his house after you opened them. Unforgettable. He is easy to miss, and it is not uncommon for the tears to flow while remembering how it was before he died. But he did die, and so did your sister, cousin or father. And people only die once, so they are not coming back. Let the weight of death affect you.

 

I’m sure you have tried to lift it, and maybe you feel like this time of year is another opportunity to hopelessly carry the burden. The heaviness of death that Christmas has the tendency to bring is the reason Jesus came. After his birth, the murderous Herod called for all children around Bethlehem under the age of two to be killed because he could not find out exactly where Jesus was staying. Jeremiah prophesied, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more,” (Matt 2:18). This is the world that God entered, a world of horrifying fatality. A world that was broken and lost, estranged from God and spiraling downward into the murky depths of hell.

 

Into this blackness, the true light broke when God became a man. “Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” Jesus came to bring new birth, bind up the broken-hearted and release the captives. He came because sin reigned in death. Both spiritually and physically, death had reign, and then Jesus came to beat down the old king. He was born so that “as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Rom 5:21). When Jesus came that man no more would die, he brought tidings of great joy. Grace has arrived!

 

Because death no longer rules, true joy cannot be swallowed by storm clouds of despair. This does not mean that there will be no tears this Christmas—that reality is still to come. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” (Rev 21:4). The former things of this glorious future are still our earthly reality today. So we long for the end, the second advent of our Lord.

 

Jesus came and provided rescue from sin and life eternal. Because death no longer rules, songs of a trouble free next year are not our hope. They don’t even make sense. Trouble is here, and it is coming again to you and your family, but a humble man from Nazareth has lifted the burden of death from your shoulders, and is coming quickly to wipe all tears away. Our hope at Christmas is the One who experienced death to conquer it – forever.

 

Author: Kole Farney

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