Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blessed are those who mourn...

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."  Matthew 5:4

I'm just going to give you some thoughts out of John MacArthur's commentary on this verse -

The mourning that Jesus is talking about is godly sorrow, godly mourning, mourning that only those who sincerely desire to belong to Him or who already belong to Him can experience.

The first beatitude made clear that entrance into the kingdom of heaven begins with a recognition of total spiritual bankruptcy.  Spiritual poverty leads to godly sorrow; the poor in spirit become those who mourn.

There are nine terms used for sorrow, the one used in this verse is the strongest, most severe.  It represents the deepest, most heart-felt grief, and was generally reserved for grieving over the death of a loved one.  It is used to describe Jacob's grief when he thought Joseph was killed by a wild animal.  It is also used of the disciples' mourning for Jesus before they knew He was raised from the dead.  The word carries the idea of a deep inner agony over their sin, which may or may not be expressed by outward weeping.

Godly mourning brings God's forgiveness, which brings God's happiness.

Those who express deep inner agony over their sin will have their grief wiped away by the loving hand of Jesus Christ.

If it was necessary for Jesus Christ to shed His blood on the cross to save us from our sin, our sin must be great indeed!

One step toward godly mourning is to study sin in Scripture, to learn what an evil and repulsive thing it is to God and what a destructive damning thing it is to us.  We should learn from David to keep our sin ever before us (Psalm 51:3) and from Isaiah to say, "Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips." (Isaiah 6:5)

Sin tramples on God's laws, makes light of His love, grieves His Spirit, spurns His forgiveness and blessing, and in every way resists His grace.

Pray for contriteness of heart, which only God can give and which He never refuses to give those who ask.  It must always be recognized that humility depends on the working of the Lord.

How do we know if we have godly mourning?  We need to ask ourselves if we are sensitive to sin.  Do we laugh at it or take it lightly?  Do we enjoy it?  If we do, we can be sure we are not mourning over it and we are outside of the sphere of God's blessing.

The second way to determine if we have godly mourning over sin is to check our sense of God's forgiveness.  Have we experienced the release of freedom of knowing our sins are forgiven?  Do we have His peace and joy in our life?

And this is from a sermon by Jerry Bridges on this verse -

"I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daniel and the Train Ride

Contrast in Pride of Spirit vs. Poverty of Spirit

This parable in Luke 18 really says it all:

"And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Bottom line, the prideful in spirit are full of themselves and compare themselves and their works to others.  The poor in spirit see themselves as bankrupt of anything good, because they compare themselves to God.  

After salvation, the penalty and power of sin is broken in our lives, but we continue to battle with sin.  As we grow, the sinful choices we make should diminish, but we will always battle with sin until we die or the Lord returns.  The battle over pride (and all sin) is won at the cross.  Keeping our eyes on the cross produces humility in our hearts and instead of God being opposed to us, we have His favor.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Produces Humility?

Scripture tells us that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.  (James 4:6)  What produces humility?  Humility begins with an awareness of our own sinfulness coupled with a growing appreciation of what Christ did for us at the cross.     Being humble is not saying, "I am worthless."  It is saying, "I'm sinful and need a Savior."  Humility is produced with the realization that the perfect, spotless, Lamb of God bore God's wrath for our sin, when it should have been us - the sinner.  Humility is produced when we realize God withheld from us what we deserved and put it on His precious Son.  The favor of God is upon those who recognize they are bankrupt of any righteousness of their own.  The favor of God is upon those who acknowledge they are sinful and need a Savior.  They look to Christ and Christ alone for salvation.  We are commanded to grow in grace.  When we study Christ, we will gain a deepening sense of poverty of spirit.  When we spend time in the Word, He increases and we decrease.  A deepening sense of poverty of spirit is a sign that we are growing.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God."  Matthew 5:3

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Great Piper Nugget

If you know me at all, you know I love the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in salvation. Here's a Piper nugget that celebrates that -

"When we become aware that we are spiritually alive, we know someone has already raised us from the dead.  And it wasn't us."

Lot's to celebrate and praise God for - so thankful for His grace, aren't you?  Ponder on His grace long enough and you realize it's just as amazing as He is infinite!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Walking with Jesus

To walk away from Jesus is to have never truly mourned over our sin, to have never truly admitted how desperate of a condition we are in, or to have never confessed how far we fall short of God's purity and holiness.  If we feel God has failed us, we have come to Him on our own terms and with our own sinful expectations.  We have believed the lies of Satan.  To walk away from Jesus is to walk away from hope, to walk away from love, to walk away from joy, and to walk away from peace.  To walk away from Jesus is to walk away from abundant life.  To walk away from Jesus is to walk away from the Father and to walk towards destruction.  To walk away from Jesus is, well, crazy, because the alternative is an eternity of God's wrath.  If we find ourselves in such a state, may we remember the story of the forgiving father and the prodigal son, and may we cry out to God for mercy, to withhold from us what we deserve, and to give us eyes to see us as we truly are, in desperate need of His righteousness.

To walk with Jesus is glorious and wonderful, because that's just what He is...there's just something about that name...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eternal Life | Brought to God

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God."  1 Peter 3:18

Salvation, the cross, is so much more than deliverance from God's wrath in hell for our sins...

It - brings - us - to - God...

The deeper and farther you go into your knowledge of Christ, the greater this truth will have meaning, causing you to rejoice and the more you will long to see Him face to face.

Being brought to God is something to get excited about!

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."  John 17:3

"For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him..."  Ephesians 1:15-17

So what are you doing to grow in your knowledge of Christ?  Here are some things you can be doing. Be in the Word, often.  Listen to sermons, more than just on Sunday.  You are reading this post, probably on a computer.  The internet is rich with resources.  (I love Piper, MacArthur, and a couple of other pastors.)  Read books about Christ.  Get into a Bible study.   And, as my pastor said on Sunday, get a friend who will encourage you in these things, who will walk alongside of you, pushing you along, and encouraging you and then you do the same for them.  I have a couple of friends like this. 

Jesus laid down His life to bring us to God, this really is something to get excited about...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Letter by Elyse Fitzpatrick

I came across this letter written by Elyse Fitzpatrick at The Gospel Coalition website...

I got to meet Elyse a couple of years ago and chat with her.  She is rather spunky to say the least - enjoy!

(By the way, "flummoxed" means greatly perplexed or bewildered...)

From Glory to Glory

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."  2 Corinthians 3:18

I need transforming.  I'm sinful and flawed and that is why I need transforming.  God is in the business of transforming lives.

We become like what we behold.

Charlie just turned nine months old and he is now starting to mimic what he sees.  If he sees us clapping, he claps.  If he sees us waving, he waves.  And just like Charlie, who we spend our time with, that is what we become like.

Paul understood the reason why Christ had laid hold of him.  It was to conform him to His image.  Paul recognized he was not completely there yet.  But it was Paul's goal.  (Philippians 3:12)  Believers are perfect in their position before God.  There is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Romans 8:1) Jesus gave us His righteousness in exchange for our sin.  He became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God, in Him.  But we are not perfect in our practice.  Our responsibility (and joy!) as believers is to behold the glory of the Lord in His Word, to walk in obedience.  Believers are being transformed, progressively, degree by degree, into the image of Christ.  The ultimate outcome of the believer is to be completely like Christ.  And it will happen because God will cause it to happen.  (Romans 8:29)  In the meantime, we are to work out our salvation, we are to strive at becoming more and more like Christ in our practice.  We are to work, while He is working in us.

We become like what we behold.  The more we are in the Word, the more we will look like the Word.

Monday, June 20, 2011

You are the salt of the earth...

On Sunday, my pastor preached on Matthew 5:13.  "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again?  It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out  and trampled under foot by men."  

John MacArthur in his Matthew commentary says regarding this verse that the Lord is telling us our function in the world, as believers.  Reduced to one word, that function is influence.

The world needs salt because it is corrupt and decaying.  Paul warns Timothy that "evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."  (2 Tim. 3:13)  The world cannot do anything but get worse because it has no inherent goodness in itself.  Year after year, the world's system of evil becomes more corrupt and more decayed.  That is just the nature of sin.  It wasn't very many generations after the Fall that the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  Because wickedness was so great, God destroyed every person but eight with a world-wide flood.  A few generations after the flood, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah became so rotten from the offspring of those eight that God destroyed them with fire and brimstone.  Another day of judgment is coming, the day of the Lord, when He will pour out His wrath on the evil men and impostors, after the church is raptured, at the opening of the sixth seal.  In the meantime, however, those who find God's favor, are salt.  Pastor Kennedy said that when Jesus spoke these words, He had in mind that we are a preserving influence.  At the time of Christ, salt would be packed into the fish that were caught, to keep them from decaying, as they were transported.  As salt, believers prevent the entire earth from degenerating even faster than it is, because they are clothed in the beauty and righteousness of Christ.

John MacArthur tells the story of Helen Ewing in his Matthew commentary.  Her story is an example to us of being God's salt in the world.  Helen was a young girl in Scotland who gave her life to the lordship of Christ.  Her dream was to be a missionary in Europe but she was not able to fulfill that dream.  She died at the age of 22.  By the time she died she had won hundreds of people to Jesus Christ.  It was said that all of Scotland wept upon hearing of her death.  It was her practice to rise every morning at five to study her Bible and pray.  Her diary showed that she prayed for over 300 missionaries by name.  Everywhere she went the atmosphere was changed.  If someone was telling a dirty story, he would stop if he saw her coming.  If people were complaining, they would become ashamed of it in her presence.  An acquaintance said that while she was at Glasgow University she left the fragrance of Christ wherever she went.  In what she said and did, she was God's salt.

The Lord's salt shakers come in different shapes and sizes.  Helen Ewing was a rose bred without thorns.  Sin is ugly and Jesus got right into the face of the self-righteous Pharisees.  Sometimes we have to get harsh, as salt.  False teachers and hypocrites need to be exposed.  The Lord uses all kinds of different personalities to be an influence in a sinful, decaying world.

Believers cannot lose their salvation, but they can lose their influence.  We cannot be used of God to retard the corruption of sin if our own lives become corrupted by sin.  When we allow sin into our lives, we lose our influence.  How do we prevent that from occurring?  By being in the Word, just like Helen Ewing was.  When we hide God's Word in our hearts, it can keep us from falling into sin and losing our ability to be an influence in a corrupt and decaying world.  What do we do if we have sinned?  We confess it and then we turn from it.  We put off the sin, we renew our minds in the Word, and then we put on right living...a practice we must be diligently and relentlessly involved in until we are rid of these fleshly, corrupted bodies.

God chooses His salt shakers and then His salt shakers choose to be in the they can be a preserving influence, for the glory of Christ.

(My pastor also gave this charge, have a friend who will influence you to pour your life into the Word...good advice...)

Tim's Potato Patch

Looking good, huh?  (And the potatoes are, too!)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Few Thoughts on God from Romans 8:28-30

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."  Romans 8:28-30

  • God is sovereign, He runs the universe, and what He is able to do is mind-boggling...
  • God is stunningly amazing, bigger than I can even remotely attempt to comprehend, because He is working for the good of His elect, all at the same time, not wasting anything that happens to accomplish this good...
  • God is purposeful and it revolves around His Son; God holds His Son in the highest esteem...
  • God was before the beginning and has planned the end from the beginning in the lives of His elect and sees it already as accomplished...
  • God transforms lives, for the glory of His Son...
Conclusion - Wow...


Monday, June 13, 2011

Three Reasons Today Has Been a Good Day...

  • The Lord's mercies were new this morning...
  • He took the chaos and hurt His children created and turned it into their good...
  • We are one day closer to His return...
And tomorrow will be a good day too, for the very same reasons, and a whole lot more...

Woke up Tuesday morning thinking how this shouts volumes as to who God is, and His He is in His character, we are correspondingly blessed.  We cannot fully grasp the greatness of our God.  I think this means we cannot accurately fathom how blessed we are, but we can respond with praises and with a life lived in humble submission, diligent service, and joyful obedience to Him.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Daniel Turns Two...

It's hard to believe it's been two years since Daniel began being a sweet blessing in our lives...

He turned two, today!

Enjoy the whole album by clicking here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What I've Been up to Lately...

No, the rapture hasn't happened...I've just been in Michigan and I've been playing with my grandsons!

I had the privilege of meeting the famous Danish while in Michigan...  Dane, you are just as kind and friendly as I imagined you would be, and just as tall, too!  I love your heart for children...

I spent two Bible studies and an afternoon with my sweet friend Beth...

...Mia and Sophie, Beth's fun girls...

I ate too many of the best chocolate chip cookies in the world...(I now know the secret to the recipe, and the dough, the dough is to die for...I've requested it for part of my meal at the marriage feast in heaven...)

I enjoyed a gorgeous Michigan sunset...

...definitely one of the highlights of the trip was meeting and holding Kristen's grandbabies!

...believe me, they are identical!
(Ashley is on the left and Norah is on the right...)

...this is my favorite image from the whole trip...magazine cover worthy, don't you think?!

Your babies are precious, dear friend.  They are going to grow up with the blessing of a family that loves and cherishes them as beautiful gifts from the Lord.  I pray with you, that they will never know a life without Him.  Thanks for a great, great week!

I said I've been playing with my grandsons, too.  On Tuesday, we took them up to Mt. Rainier, and stopped at a park on the way...  Daniel wasn't too sure about the first time down the slide...

 But he was fine the second, and third, and fourth time...

There was a bear sighting at Mt. Rainier, but it was quite friendly...

...and there is still 15 feet of snow in the parking lot at Paradise!

I think this little bear's bottom was a bit cold...

So now you're caught up, on what I've been up too, lately!