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Showing posts from June, 2018

the Lord told me

I hear this often from professing Christians.  "The Lord told me..." or "I received a word from the Lord" or "the Lord said to me _____ [ followed by a statement,  supposedly from God as speaker in the first person ]"   People saying such things don't realize how confusing this actually can be for others.  In a sense it places the person above others ("the Lord spoke to me") and beyond accountability ("how can you question what God said?").  This also causes people to want to have this experience for themselves and thus to minimize what God (by his Spirit) has already and eternally said in Scripture.  It makes the present more important than the past.       Can God speak to us apart from the Bible, or independently of it?  He certainly can.  The question is, however, is this what the Lord has promised to be a normal and expected experience for those who follow him?   Indeed there may be unusual and remarkable things from the

marvelous light

We should proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. This is our calling! (1 Peter 2:9)

every star has a name -- a psalm for the brokenhearted

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God;  for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.   (Psalm 147:1)  Downcast?  Brokenhearted?  Feeling crushed and helpless?  This psalm is for all of us.  By faith, we must begin with praise and worship.  Not by sight, by feeling, by happy circumstance, but by faith in God's word and his power and his goodness.  Our faith may be feeble, but he delights in it and we must come in faith and give thanks for all that he is and has done for us.   The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.   He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.   (147:2-3) Here is the promise.  Our God is the covenant Lord (YHWH, or Yahweh, translated most often in smaller all-caps, LORD) who has come to us in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus.  He said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  (Matt. 11:28)  It is by his wounds that we are healed (Isa. 53:5; 1

a surety

Surety.  This is a word we don't hear often today, except perhaps in legal matters.  There it means a pledge, guarantee, or bond.  And a "surety" can be in the form of a person who has pledged or made himself responsible for another.  In the gospel we learn that Jesus Christ is the surety for the believer.  He stands in our place, our substitute, who represents us before God, bears our sin, gives us his righteousness, and becomes the guarantor of the work of God in us.  And this truth gives us the freedom to live before the Lord in security and with assurance of final salvation.    "In the law of works there was no provision made for a surety; but it did not absolutely exclude one: therefore it left room for the covenant of grace, in which a provision was made in the person of Jesus Christ, for securing the divine honor of this holy law. He undertook to stand up in man’s place and stead, to magnify the precepts of the law in his life, and to glorify the penalties o

faith looks to Christ

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. (1 John 5:6)  "How does faith grow? When we don’t have an assurance of God’s love, we don’t want to be in his presence because of our sin. We think of God as a tyrant or harsh judge who has never really forgiven us; or maybe he’s forgiven some of our sins but not all of them, especially not the habitual ones. Faith can’t flourish when you see God this way because all you see is your guilt rather than Christ’s loving forgiveness through his blood. Faith looks at least ten times more at Christ than at your sin. Then you can face sin honestly and say, 'Yes, it’s really there, and I want to get rid of it.' But you do so out of the strength of knowing you are loved. Jesus went to the cross and shed real blood. It was a real salvation that guarantees real forgiveness, a real resurrection, and a

Job and the incomprehensible God

Behold, God is great, and we know him not;  the number of his years is unsearchable. ... The Almighty--we cannot find him;  he is great in power;  justice and abundant righteousness  he will not violate. (~Elihu, Job 36:26; 37:23 ESV) Job's friends were right in some of the truths they spoke, but wrong in their application to Job. Job was right in what he spoke, but his attitude was increasingly not humble.   Elihu gets things back on track with "the Almighty-- we cannot find him..." (37:23)  And this is the last thing said before God enters the conversation and repeatedly asks Job... "Where were you...?" "Do you know...?" "Are you able to...?"  (Job 38-41) Theologians speak of the incomprehensibility , or inscrutability , of God.  This can be stated different ways:  "The utmost that we know of God is nothing in respect of that which he is." (Thomas Aquinas)  "A finite creature can never fully comprehend that

why are you cast down?

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."  (Psalm 42:11 ESV) In his classic work, Spiritual Depression (Eerdmans, 1965), Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses upfront what he considers to be the ultimate cause of spiritual depression, and what generally the cure will be:   "The ultimate cause of all spiritual depression is unbelief.  For if it were not for unbelief even the devil could do nothing.  It is because we listen to the devil instead of listening to God that we go down before him and fall before his attacks.  That is why this psalmist keeps on saying to himself, 'Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise Him...' He reminds himself of God.  Why?  Because he was depressed and had forgotten God, so that his faith and his belief in God and in God's power, and in his relationship to God, were not what they ought to be.  We can indeed sum it all up by saying t

a prayer (kierkegaard)

"...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  (Matthew 6:20-21 ESV)  "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ..."  (Philippians 3:20 ESV) Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, wrote about anxiety and despair, and about faith and singleness of mind and will.   He said, "To despair is to lose the eternal."  Here is one of his written prayers... "Father in heaven! Draw our hearts to you so that our longing  may be where our treasure is supposed to be. Turn our minds  and our thoughts to where our citizenship is – in your kingdom,  so that when you finally call us away from here our leave-taking  may not be a painful separation but a joyful union with  you. We do not know the time and the place, perhaps a long  road still lies before us