Monthly Archives: June 2012

He Was Still in Control

for truly in [Jerusalem] there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:27–28, ESV)

As you read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, does it ever seem to you like you’re trapped in a bad dream or an ordinary day that completely spiraled out of control? There have been occasions after a big argument with my wife and we’re both in our corners fuming that I step back and ask myself, “How did that just happen?” One minute we were reminiscing about our favorite dates and the next we were in each other’s face.

I used to look at the night of Jesus’ death this way. He gets picked up in the garden by a few clueless soldiers. After a little grumpiness from the high priest, it actually seems like he’s going to walk because both Pilate and Herod have no idea what the whole thing is all about. But the angry voices get louder, Pilate is backed into a corner and before you know it Jesus is taking his last breathes on the cross as blood and water stream down his side.” And you ask yourself, “How did it come to this? How could this have happened.”

It happened because it was planned by an sovereign, all-powerful God.

God was weaving a tapestry. The threads included angry mobs, lies, murder, hatred, betrayal, cowardice, pain and agony. It’s hard to believe anything beautiful could come from such thread.

But it did. The atoning blood of Jesus opened the door of eternal life for those who would believe.

God is weaving a tapestry today and there is no thread he cannot use.

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The Message of the Bible in 221 Words

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

D.A. Carson


The Day Francis Schaeffer’s Plane Almost Crashed

Francis Schaeffer:

Once I was flying at night over the North Atlantic. It was in 1947, and I was coming back from my first visit to Europe. Our plane, one of those old DC4′s with two engines on each wing, was within two or three minutes of the middle of the Atlantic.

Suddenly two engines on one wing stopped. I had already flown a lot, and so I could feel the engines going wrong. I remember thinking, if I’m going to go down into the ocean, I’d better get my coat. When I did, I said to the hostess, “There’s something wrong with the engines.” She was a bit snappy and said, “You people always think there’s something wrong with the engines.” So I shrugged my shoulders, but I took my coat.

I had no sooner sat down, than the lights came on and a very agitated co-pilot came out. “We’re in trouble,” he said. “Hurry and put on your life jackets.”

So down we went, and we fell and fell, until in the middle of the night with no moon we could actually see the water breaking under us in the darkness. And as we were coming down, I prayed.

Interestingly enough, a radio message had gone out, an SOS that was picked up and broadcast immediately all over the United States in a flash news announcement: “There is a plane falling in the middle of the Atlantic.” My wife heard about this and at once she gathered our three little girls together and they knelt down and began to pray. They were praying in St Louis, Missouri, and I was praying on the plane. And we were going down and down.

Then, while we could see the waves breaking beneath us and everybody was ready for the crash, suddenly the two motors started, and we went on into Gander.

When we got down I found the pilot and asked what happened. “Well,” he said, “it’s a strange thing, something we can’t explain. Only rarely do two motors stop on one wing, but you can make an absolute rule that when they do, they don’t start again. We don’t understand it.”

So I turned to him and I said, “I can explain it.”

He looked at me: “How?”

And I said, “My Father in heaven started it because I was praying.”

That man had the strangest look on his face and he turned away.

Schaeffer draws a big-picture application:

What one must realize is that seeing the world as a Christian does not mean just saying, “I am a Christian. I believe in the supernatural world,” and then stopping. It is possible to be saved through faith in Christ and then spend much of our lives in the materialist’s chair. We can say we believe in a supernatural world, and yet live as though there were no supernatural in the universe at all. It is not enough merely to say, “I believe in a supernatural world.”

Christianity is not just a mental assent that certain doctrines are true. This is only the beginning. This would be rather like a starving man sitting in front of great heaps of food and saying, “I believe the food exists; I believe it is real,” and yet never eating it.

It is not enough merely to say, “I am a Christian,” and then in practice to live as if present contact with the supernatural were something far off and strange.

Many Christians I know seem to act as though they come in contact with the supernatural just twice—once when they are justified and become a Christian and once when they die. The rest of the time they act as though they were sitting in the materialist’s chair.

—Francis Schaeffer, “The Universe and Two Chairs

All for God’s Glory

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

All for God’s glory. Even life’s most basic tasks such as food consumption are to be done with the glory of God in mind, but how? How can a mom change poopy diapers to the glory of God? How can a carpenter hang drywall to the glory of God? How can we eat our bowl of Cheerios to the glory of God?

It’s easy to see how feeding the hungry, teaching a Sunday School class or singing in the morning worship service brings glory to God, but how can grinding through the mundane and menial bring glory to God? Here’s a couple thoughts:

1. Do it with gratitude

Whatever you’ve got going on today, do it with thankfulness. Have you praised God for the Cheerios? Are you grateful that you can change the poopy diaper rather than watch a nurse through a glass window in the NICU do it?

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV)

2. Do it with a servant’s heart

Is this task the opportunity to serve someone? A spouse? A child? A coworker? A client? An enemy? Humbling ourselves to serve others brings glory to God (1 Peter 4:11) and becomes an opportunity to model the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the greatest servant of all (Philippians 2:3-8).

3. Do it with spiritual growth in mind

Is God stretching you to make you more like Jesus? It is God’s will that your life becomes more and more like that of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:3). When it does, God’s name is honored among Christians and non-Christians alike. Has God given you a mundane task today? Perhaps it’s nothing more than character development. That difficult co-worker or whiny child may be God’s means of refining your faith to make it well-pleasing unto him.

4. Do it with evangelism in mind

How easily we forget that God frequently brings people into our lives so that we can share our hope with them, yet we (I) rarely do. As you brush up against numerous folk today, remember than he may lead you to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone who desperately needs to here it.

 The shop, the barn, the scullery, and the smithy become temples when men and women do all to the glory of God! —C.H. Spurgeon


Better Than A Rich Uncle

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3–4, ESV)

When we think of inheritance, we often think of “rich uncle” (because most of our parents spent our inheritance on our bicycles, birthday parties, family vacations and college!). The reality is that very few of us are going to fall into a huge pile of cash when a family member’s will is read. There is, however, one inheritance you can bank on: God’s!

Peter tells us in today’s passage God has breathed life and given a living hope into those who place their faith in Jesus. The hope possessed by Christians is not a sterile wish, but it is alive and genuine. Neither is it merely an earthly hope, but it leads to an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. This inheritance is unlike our rich uncle’s. It will not fade away. It can’t be lost on the stock market or dribbled away on expensive toys. This inheritance will truly last. When you die, you can take it with you.

Therefore, we are reminded by Paul to “set our mind on things above” (Colossians 3:1-4) — not to place our hope in that which will soon pass. The earthly is temporary, but  so easily we forget because our eyes have yet to see the eternal. Oh, that the eyes of our hearts would be opened to see the untarnished, unfading inheritance which awaits those who have embraced Christ.


How I Approach God When Feeling Rotten

A vague bad feeling that you are a crummy person is not the same as conviction for sin. Feeling rotten is not the same as repentance.This morning I began to pray, and felt unworthy to be talking to the Creator of the universe. It was a vague sense of unworthiness. So I told him so. Now what?

Nothing changed until I began to get specific about my sins. Crummy feelings can be useful if they lead to conviction for sins. Vague feelings of being a bad person are not very helpful. The fog of unworthiness needs to take shape into clear dark pillars of disobedience. Then you can point to them and repent and ask for forgiveness and take aim to blow them up.

So I began to call to mind the commands I frequently break. These are the ones that came to mind.

  • Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Not 95%, 100%. (Matthew 22:37)
  • Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Be as eager for things to go well for him as you are for things to go well for you. (Matthew 22:39)
  • Do all things without grumbling. No grumbling—inside or outside. (Philippians 2:14)
  • Cast all your anxieties on him—so you are not being weighed down by it anymore. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • Only say things that give grace to others—especially those closest to you. (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Redeem the time. Don’t fritter or dawdle. (Ephesians 5:16)
  • Set your mind on things that are above. Connect all your thoughts to Christ. (Colossians 3:2)
  • Do not return evil for evil—like when your wife or daughter says something you don’t like. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
  • Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice. Always. If sorrowful, keep rejoicing. (Philippians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 6:10)
  • Give thanks in all circumstances. All. All. All. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

So much for any pretensions to great holiness! I’m undone.

But now it is specific. I look it in the eye. I’m not whining about feeling crummy. I’m apologizing to Christ for not keeping all that he commanded. I’m broken and I’m angry at my sin. I want to kill it, not me. I’m not suicidal. I’m a sin hater and a sin murderer (“Put to death what is earthly in you” Colossians 3:5. “Put to death the deeds of the body” Romans 8:13.)

In this conflict, I hear the promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9). Peace rises. Prayer feels possible and right and powerful again.


Apple of His Eye

But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. –Deuteronomy 32:9-10

…….

What does God most delight in after himself? What brings him more pleasure than all the beauty of the forests and mountains and waterfalls and fields? What does he care about more than all the art in all the museums, All the books that have ever been written, All the technology and accomplishments of mankind?

His people.

Weak and frail as we are, Full of foibles Doubts and fears We are his portion. His heritage. His special delight.

He encircles us, cares for us, Keeps us as the apple of his eye. Yes, really We are the apple of his eye. That thing which most delights him.

His bride. His beloved. His objects of mercy. His chosen race, His royal priesthood, The people for his own possession, The ones he loved with an everlasting love. The ones he is transforming To look like Jesus Act like Jesus Talk like Jesus And display Jesus to the world.

Is this how you see your church?

Is your church the apple of your eye?
HT: Mark Altrogge