Thursday, November 19, 2009

When Blessing Seems Far From You

NIV When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'" At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Luke 7:20-23

How could John the Baptist even ask that question? John proclaimed Jesus Christ before Jesus ever showed up. John was the one who baptized Jesus and saw the heavenly dove descend. Yet even with all of that, our souls are fickle. John's association with Jesus had brought much hardship and his death was immanent. John wondered if he made the biggest mistake in his life. But hardship does not mean failure. There is a blessing reserved for those who can stay true to Jesus even when the blessing seems far from them.

Today's commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, Grace NYC

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Get Up You Lazy Scamp!

Two theologians i really enjoy are Charles H. Spurgeon and Martin Luther. They really get to the heart of a matter with no waste of time or sugar coating - pithy and wonderful! As Brian joked this Sunday, "some reformed guys are close to the Bible," their words really do have a way of cutting straight to the heart. They have brought me to love phrases/quotes such as, "I can not and will not recant,"; "Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail," from Luther and, "No man’s reason would survive a full sight of his own inner self,"; "It is a good thing for the melancholy to become a Christian; it is an unfortunate thing for the Christian to become melancholy" from Spurgeon.
I read this little gem from Martin Luther tonight and just had to share:

"Don't just sit there by yourself or off to one side and hang your head, and shake it and gnaw your knuckles and worry and look for a way out, nothing on your mind except how bad you feel, how you hurt, what a poor guy you are. Get up, you lazy scamp! Down on your knees! Up with your hands and eyes toward heaven!"

Now if you'll excuse me, this scamp has some praying to do ;-)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Longing for Justice

12For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
Psalm 9:12

Christ knows our wounds intimately. He knows them so well as He paid the price that would redeem and heal them. God heals the brokenhearted and he binds up their wounds (Ps 147:3). Any grievance against you has/will be paid one of two ways: either Christ has already taken the penalty for them on the cross or the one who does not repent that Christ is Lord will pay in eternity. Either way, someone will pay and the price will be far more grievous than anything that has ever been brought against you. Therefore:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,
"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary,
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty,
give him something to drink;
for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grace is Power, Not Just Pardon

Just as it is easy for us to identify blessing as purely "good things"; it is easy to think that a person has been given much grace when they do not struggle or suffer. On the contrary, a believer who obeys God amidst struggles is given the power of grace and the blessing of being conformed to Christ's image.

"Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is power, not just pardon."
John Piper

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about the adoptive grace of God and have come to realize that i have a lot of trouble with this. Not that i do not believe that God is full of grace and showers it freely upon those who believe; but some how i have a hard time accepting that it is for me too. Every time i hear of God's adopting grace and love for us, i choke back tears, struggling to believe that "us" includes me (Lord, i believe; help my unbelief!). I have no problem telling anyone, 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. But to tell myself, and because you, Jennifer Lynn are a son, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your heart Jennifer, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you, Jennifer Lynn are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God... that brings tears to my eyes. I want so badly for it to be true; yet there is an ounce of disbelief that says, it is to good to be true, you are to unworthy.

Proverbs 22:6 says, Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. The "way" spoken here is actually in the negative, meaning train up a child in corrupt ways and he will not depart from that way of life. However, once Christ takes hold of your heart and you submit to Him as Lord over your life, Christ has taken you by the hand and with Him you have then departed - but the work isn't over.

After years of training that no gift is ever free, it really does take the continual daily covering of redemptive blood to accept Christ's free gift. I was taught that every gift had a price and oh man, if only that price were money! Every gift came back to haunt. Every gift was used as leverage. Every gift was used as a tool for guilt. Even everyday provisions for a child were these so called gifts. So logically, if someone were to offer me a free gift of salvation do you think i would take him up on it. A resounding, NO! That is a weighty gift with an infinite price that i could not, nor have any desire to pay. If it weren't for Christ - Who is the weighty gift and paid the infinite price -
and His love, i would have continued in destruction sinning in response to the sin against me. Looking back on this, my salvation was truly a miracle. God wanted me that much. That is what i must remember when doubt comes.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:11-12