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Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Valley of Vision

I recently acquired a book called “The Valley of Vision” and it is a collection of prayers and devotions from past Puritan men. Men such as Thomas Watson, Charles Spurgeon, David Brainerd, Isaac Watts, and many others. The first one in this book is called “The Valley of Vision” and has so many wonderful truths in it.

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou has brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the day down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Edification

 

“To live is Christ…

…and to die is gain” as the apostle Paul proclaimed in Philippians 1:21. What exactly does this mean though and how does it relate to the Christian walk? As I type this on my laptop, my battery charger is currently not working and the battery is getting near the end of its charge. In a similar way, every person has a limited amount of time they are given to live, some may be given 100 years or more while others may have just a few hours, days, or weeks of life left. Whatever the case may be, our time is limited and therefore should be lived with a purpose. Unfortunately, many people try to take the things of life and use them to take the place of God instead. In reading Psalm 119 this morning, verses 1-4 caught my attention and here is what those verses say: “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe [lit. keep] His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently.” In reading through this and subsequent passages I was reminded of the purpose and goal of the Christian walk, namely that we should be diligently seeking God with our time. In the busy schedule of life it is many times hard to spend time with God, and unless we decide to set aside a certain time to spend with God each day the most likely result will be to put God off and give Him the “leftover time” of our day, if any at all. I have noticed this in my own personal life at times, pushing God aside and saying that my school work was more important than spending time with God. During these times the struggle spiritually was much greater, and recent days have proved the power of God’s Word as it can change a person’s heart and desires. So for us as Christians we must be seeking diligently after God and walking after His commandments, for our love for God is shown in whether or not we follow His commandments. Paul’s quote in Philippians 1:21 indicates a greater purpose in life than what we commonly see; every day presents opportunities to bring glory to God. Think about the person who may be sitting at a lunch table alone with no one to talk to, or those around you at church, school, or work who may appear fine on the outside but hurting on the inside. How about taking the time to invest a part of our day encouraging others spiritually or spending an hour or more reading the Bible and praying? What about those most of all who we pass by so frequently without even a thought as to their eternal destiny, unconcerned about their soul but more concerned with our trivial daily matters? It seems unlike Paul we today have focused our minds and attention on both the present and temporal rather than the future and eternal. God has called us to invest everything into serving Him and building His Kingdom, including our time, money, and opportunities we are presented with. I believe many times God gives us opportunities each day to have an impact on a person’s life or even offer an encouraging word to someone, but we are so focused on our own problems instead of the needs of others that we miss these opportunities and overlook the importance of them. Our lives are to be lived for Christ, and if as Paul said to “live is Christ” then each day presents opportunities to live for God and most importantly glorify God. We exist to bring glory to God and to serve Him, anything apart from this is a life wasted and lived in vain contrary to what God has called us to live. I can only think of Paul as he sits in the prison cell and recounts the life he has lived, knowing that in death he will finally meet his wonderful Savior face to face while life presents further opportunities to bring glory to God. If we are to know God and serve Him better, we need to be spending time with God in prayer and Bible reading. Ask yourself this question, what would you be willing to give up throughout your day in order to spend more time with God? Or what are you willing to do in order to reach out to those who need Christ or someone who needs a good friend? In summary, our life is not our own, it is God’s. To live for self is to live completely apart from God’s intended purpose for your life and glorify God. If the people in the world are living for everything except God, then how can we expect to be the “salt and light” of this world if we are living for the same pursuits and desires as they are? May we by God’s grace seek to live daily to demonstrate the radical change God has made in us and in our lives, giving our all to Him no matter what He asks.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Edification

 

“Unchurched Harry”

From the book “This Little Church Went to Market”, an eye-opening excerpt of how the gospel today has been so abandoned and changed from the biblical perspective.

Counterfeit money is recognized by those who know how to identify the real thing. Before we examine the gospel message foudn in the new-paradigm churches, it would be best to examine the gospel message found in the Bible. The good news in a nutshell is this: Harry (to use Willow Creek’s name for the unsaved) is a sunner, in full-blown rebellion against God. While some Harrys are outwardly religious and some even desires the gifts and benefits that God can supply, no Harrys truly seek after God or desire him (Roma 3:10-18). As a result of Harry’s sinfulness he is under the wrath of God (Rom. 1:18), faces future judgment (Heb. 9:27), will die both physically and spiritually (Rom. 6:23) and will spend eternity in hell (Rev. 20:11-15).
It is because of Harry’s hopeless plight, and the fact that he can do nothing to redeem himself in God’s eyes (Titus 3:5), that Jesus Christ, through grace alone, not because of Harry’s value and worth (Eph. 2:8), became a man died on the cross (Romans 5:8) thus taking Harry’s sin upon himself and satisfying the wrath of God (Heb. 2:17), and resurrected from the dead, in order that Harry could be saved from his sin and be given the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 4). While all of this is a gift from God, Harry obtains that gift through the exercise of faith (Eph. 2:8-9) – purely taking God at his Word, trusting that God will save him if only he truly believes. While many within the seeker-sensitive movement would ascribe to most of the above definition for the gospel, this is not how the gospel is being presented to harry. Rather Harry is being told that he is so valuable to God that he sent his Son to die for him. This is, in effect, a denial of grace, whereby God grants us undeserved favor. Harry is also being told that if he will come to Christ, Christ will meet all of his felt needs and that will lead to personal fulfillment. Harry is then being asked to trust in Christ, the great ‘Needs-Meeter’, who will end his search for a life of happiness and fulfillment.
This, I suggest, is not the gospel at all but the ‘Gospel of Me’, the ‘Gospel of Self-Fulfillment,’ the ‘New Gospel’. ‘We must never confuse our desire for people to accept the gospel,’ Oswald Chambers warned long ago, ‘with creating a gospel that is acceptable to people.’ ‘How we define the problem will define our gospel. If the “big problem” in the universe is my lack of self-esteem, the gospel will be “finding the neat person inside of your”. If the great question is “how can we fix society?” the gospel will be a set of moral agendas complete with a list of approved candidates. But how often do we discuss the “big problem” as defined by Scripture? That problem is the wrath of God.’

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Edification

 

A Reminder

In a new devotional book I recently bought by Henry and Richard Blackaby called “Experiencing God Day by Day” a devotion came up today called “Painful Reminders” and was very encouraging to me, so I wanted to share it with everyone here.

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. ~Acts 14:19~

God has many ways to deter us from sin. One is to provide reminders for us so that we never take disobedience to Him lightly. Before his conversion, Paul assumed that he was righteous before God. In reality, Paul was so disoriented to God that he arrested and executed Christians in order to please Him! Paul was so blinded to God’s will that when he watched Stephen being brutally murdered for his faith, Paul’s heart was hardened, and he became even more determined to imprison other Christians.

It is significant that there are two occurrences of stoning mentioned in the New Testament–Stephen’s and Paul’s. Was it coincidence that God allowed Paul to be stoned in the same manner as Stephen had been? God had certainly forgiven Paul for his involvement in Stephen’s death, but God also left him with a reminder of what his arrogance had led him to do. If pride could blind Paul to God once, pride could do it again. Perhaps Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was a direct result of this stoning. It may have served as a visible reminder to Paul, and to others, of the terrible consequences of sin.

God is absolutely just. He loves, and He forgives, but He does not compromise His righteousness. God deals with us uniquely. he draws upon our experiences to teach us about Himself. God will forgive us of our sin, but He may provide stark reminders of the ugliness of sin. Let us thank God that He loves us enough to remind us of the destructive consequences of sin in our lives.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Encouragement

 
 
In Christ Jesus

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus