Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Most Important Thing

In the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs (c1600-1646) writes,

Before, the soul sought after this and that, but now it says, I see that it is not necessary that I should have pardon of my  sin; it is not necessary that I should have honor and preferment, but it is necessary that I should have God as my portion, and have my part in Jesus Christ, it is necessary that my soul should be saved in the day of Jesus Christ. The other things are pretty fine indeed, and I should be glad if God would give me them, a fine house, and income, and clothes, and advancement for my wife and children: these are comfortable things, but they are not the necessary things; I may have these and yet perish forever, but the other is absolutely necessary . . .

What are the things that disquiet us here but some by-matters in this world? And it is because our hearts are not taken up with the one absolutely necessary thing. Who are the men who are most discontented, but idle persons, persons who have nothing to occupy their minds? Every little thing disquiets and discontents them; but in the case of a man who has business of great weight and consequence, if all things go well with his great business which is in his head, he s not aware of meaner things in the family.

On the other hand a man who lies at home and has nothing to do finds fault with everything. So it is with the heart: when the heart of a man has nothing to do, but to be busy about creature-comforts, every little thing troubles him; but when the heart is taken up with the weighty things of eternity, with the great things of eternal life, the things of here below that disquieted it before tare things now of no consequence to him in comparison with the other – how things fall out here is not much regarded by him, if the one thing that is necessary is provided for (36-37).


Five Verses on Adoption

Tim Challies writes:

The word “adoption” (Greek huiothesias) occurs only a few times in the New Testament, and each time it refers to God choosing a people for himself. Though there are not a lot of references to this word, there is a good deal we learn from them about the doctrine of adoption.

1) God adopts those whom he loves and has predestined to be his children

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

2) It is through Jesus Christ that God’s children are adopted

“In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

3) God adopts his children so that he might display the glory of his grace

“In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

4) God has secured this adoption by his Spirit

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15)

5) God will complete this adoption when he renews our bodies, thus making us eager for Christ’s return

“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23)

For more on the doctrine of adoption, I recommend Reclaiming Adoption, edited by Dan Cruver, or Adopted for Life by Russell Moore.

 


Shine Like the Stars Above

And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:3, ESV)

I cannot imagine anyone who isn’t awed by a mid-summer’s starry night. Even someone like me who can identify but one constellation (go Big Dipper!), even without a telescope , it sure can be breathtaking. It brings one to worship as our gaze rests upon God’s glory scattered throughout the black canvas.

Just as those stars twinkle in brilliant splendor, so too can child of God. How, you ask? By living in wisdom and turning many to righteousness.

 

We obtain wisdom from God through prayer and mining his Word for truth and by forsaking our own proud self-sufficiency.

We turn people toward righteousness by graciously proclaiming the glories of the gospel — that there is a Savior who died for sin, rose from the dead and offers salvation to those who will believe.

It doesn’t take a trip to Hollywood to be a star, only faithful obedience to God.


Three Criteria of Righteous Anger

Paul Tautges writes:

“One of the most common, ongoing struggles we face in our sanctification as believers is the area of anger. And one of the most common ways we mismanage our anger is by failing to distinguish between righteous and sinful anger, and response. This failure is sometimes due to our conscious choice to not face our sin honestly, but it also can be the result of the blindness that stems from our own pride. And not one of us is exempt from this battle!”

He goes on to list three biblical criteria of righteous anger taken from passages such as when Jesus was angry (Mk 3:1-6; 10:13-16; Jn 2:13-17), and three cases of righteous anger in Saul and Jonathan (1 Sam 11:1-6; 20:24-35):

1. Righteous Anger Reacts against Actual Sin. Righteous anger arises from an accurate perception of true evil, from sin as defined biblically, i.e., as a violation of God’s Word (Rom 3:23; 1 Jn 3:4). Righteous anger does not result from merely being inconvenienced or from violations of personal preference or human tradition.

2. Righteous Anger Focuses on God and His Kingdom, Rights, and Concerns, Not on Me and My Kingdom, Rights and Concerns. In Scripture, God-centered motives, not self-centered motives, drive righteous anger. Righteous anger focuses on how people offend God and his name, not me and my name. It terminates on God more than me. In other words, accurately viewing something as offensive is not enough. We must view it primarily as offending God.

3. Righteous Anger Is Accompanied by Other Godly Qualities and Expresses Itself in Godly Ways. Righteous anger remains self-controlled. It keeps its head without cursing, screaming, raging, or flying off the handle. Nor does it spiral downward in self-pity or despair. It does not ignore people, snub people, or withdraw from people.”


A “Must-Have” Holiness

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14, ESV)

Jerry Bridges writes on this sobering verse:

“So the writer of Hebrews is telling us to take seriously the necessity of personal, practical holiness. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at salvation, He comes to make us holy in practice. If there is not, then, at least a yearning in our hearts to live a holy life pleasing to God, we need to seriously question whether our faith in Christ is genuine…

The whole purpose of our salvation is that we be ‘holy and blameless in his sight’ (Ephesians 1:4). To continue to live in sin as a Christ is to go contrary to God’s very purpose for our salvation. One of the writers of three centuries ago  [Walter Marshall] put it like this: ‘What a strange kind of salvation do they desire that care not for holiness . . . They would be saved by Christ and yet be out of Christ in a fleshly state . . . They would have their sins forgiven, not that they may walk with God in love, in time to come, but that they may practice their enmity against Him without any fear of punishment.’”

The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 33-34


Grace for the Humble

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6–10, ESV)

Probably none of us would openly admit to a desire to live in opposition to God (at least, if you’re a Christian you shouldn’t want that). Yet today’s passage bluntly (go James!) explains that those who choose pride square off against God.

That’s not a good thing.

God opposes the proud because pride tells him, “I don’t need you! I can take care of myself just fine.” The problem with that is that you can’t take care of yourself just fine. You and I desperately need him moment by moment, not only for salvation but for each breath and everything in between.

 

These verses fall in the context of exhorting the wealthy who are driven by greed and worldly desires. Modern America is the wealthiest society in human history and the temptation to be self-sufficient lurks everywhere. When we choose to submit to God and humbly acknowledge our great need of him, God’s rich grace is poured out upon us. He exalts and lifts up those of a humble heart. It is right to be brokenhearted over our sin and to be shaken by our inability to do anything for God on our own. The humble heart clings to Jesus Christ as his all in all — as his prize and the source of all righteousness.


A Monday Morning Prayer

Morning Dedication

Almighty God,

As I cross the threshold of this day

I commit myself, soul, body,

affairs, friends, to thy care;

Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me.

Incline my heart to thy ways;

Mold me wholly into the image of Jesus,

as a potter forms clay;

May my lips be a well-tuned harp

To sound thy praise;

Let those around me see me living by thy Spirit,

trampling the world underfoot,

unconformed to lying vanities,

transformed by a renewed mind,

clad in the entire armour of God,

shining as a never-dimmed light,

showing holiness in all my doings.

Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands.

May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain.

In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven,

and my love soar upwards in flames of fire,

my gaze fixed on unseen things,

My eyes open to the emptiness, fragility,

Mockery of earth and its vanities.

May I view all things in the mirror of eternity,

waiting for the coming of my Lord,

listening for the last trumpet call,

hastening unto the new heaven and earth.

Order this day all my communications

according to thy wisdom,

and to the gain of mutual good.

Forbid that I should not be profited

or made profitable.

May I speak each word as if my last word,

and walk each step as my final one.

If my life should end today,

let this be my best day.

Valley of Vision, p. 220-21