Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Proverbs 31:10-31

Yesterday I started writing my first Bible study. I am not exactly sure how this will turn out - or if I even finish it - but this what I feel lead to do.
I wanted to do a study on the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 with a couple friends but to my surprise I could not find a legit study - not even one Beth Moore.   I looked at a few but wasn't sold.   So here I am trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead me in wisdom to write a good study instead of depending upon the wisdom He has given others.  I recognize the value of gleaning wisdom from others older and wiser than I, and I think now God is teaching me to trust Him that the wisdom only comes from Him. That wisdom can be shared through the 50-something, career Christian, ordained teacher and the 30 year-old, 5 1/2 years in Christ ordained encourager.
Lord help me.

On a somewhat other note... this is why I love Beth Moore:

The true grace of God

“. . . this is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.”  1 Peter 5:12

What does the this refer to?  What is “the true grace of God”?  The basic message of Peter’s letter: first the cross, then the crown.  For example, “Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).  Suffering now, and glory then — this is the true grace of God.

When you are following Christ and your whole life falls apart, don’t think God has turned against you.  It’s the opposite.  You’re entering into the true grace of God.  Therefore, don’t cut and run.  Stand firm.
Whatever life thrusts upon us — not some dreamy ideal life we could wish for, but our real lives as they are — the true grace of God is in that hard place, where we embrace identification with Jesus in his death and resurrection.

The true grace of God is a post from: Ray Ortlund

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Strengthened Becomes the Strengthener

I love reading about the lives of the apostles Peter and Paul.  I love that God brought them through such bleakness into strengthened faith.  I love that their 'happy ending' didn't include marriage and babies like Ruth or prosperity like Job and Joseph.  Their lives on this earth were much like their Savior's - with much pain, sorrow and joyful faith that their happy ending was waiting for them where rust and moth do not destroy.  
When I feel as though I am being sifted like wheat, I turn to these stories.  They encourage me to keep going, keep fighting the good fight of faith.  They help me to remember that anything short of hell is pure grace, and to encourage others out of my open wounds that bleed joy.

One sermon I love listening to is John Piper's The Sifting of Simon Peter.  Piper shares with us God's heart in protecting and strengthening our faith and encourages us to share the strength and joy we receive.

"This is not to lay a burden on you, but only to increase your joy. The joy we have in the promises of God is always doubled when it bubbles up over the brim of our life and spill over onto others. What about the other ten apostles (not counting Judas)? Satan was going to sift them too. Did Jesus pray for them? Yes he did. But he did not ask the Father to guard their faith in the very same way he guarded Peter's. God broke the back of Peter's pride and self-reliance that night in the agony of Satan's sieve. But he did not let him go. He turned him around and forgave him and restored him and strengthened his faith. And now it was Peter's mission to strengthen the other ten. Jesus provided for the ten by providing for Peter. The strengthened becomes the strengthener. 

There is a great lesson here for us. Sometimes God will deal with you directly, strengthening your faith alone in the wee hours of the morning. But most of the time (we might say ten-elevenths of the time) God strengthens our faith through another person. God sends us some Simon Peter who brings just the word of grace we need to keep on in the faith: some testimony about how "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning" (Psalm 30:5). Eternal security is a community project. Whenever God encourages your heart with the promise that in Satan's sifting your faith will not fail, then take that encouragement and double your joy by using it to strengthen your brothers and sisters."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Deeper Grace

"I asked Justin Holcomb what is the Holcombs’ desire in providing Rid Of My Disgrace.  “You want something to happen out there in people’s lives.  What is the one impact you long for most of all?”  His beautiful answer:
“The disgrace that results from sexual assault has a way of grinding people down and heaping huge burdens on them.  Because of it people feel lonely, filthy, worthless, repulsive, hopeless, and unwanted.  Our hope is that God will use the clear Gospel message of the book to eliminate that disgrace and its effects.  What victims need is for God to be strong when they are weak and to be close to the brokenhearted.  We want people to experience God fulfilling his promises to them.  We pray that God uses the book to apply the grace from Jesus deeper than the wounds people have experienced.”
With the tsunami of sin, and its abuses of all kinds, slamming us today, may our churches be safe havens where violated people experience the deeper grace of Jesus in the gospel."

Deeper grace is a post from: Ray Ortlund

Friday, February 4, 2011

“Do you want to be healed?”

“He that . . . wants relief must come to Christ himself.  He must not be content with coming to His Church and His ordinances or to the assemblies of His people for prayer and praise.  He must not stop short even at His holy table or rest satisfied with privately opening his heart to His ordained ministers.  Oh no! . . . He must go higher, further, much further than this.  He must have personal dealings with Christ Himself.  All else in religion is worthless without Him.  The King’s palace, the attendant servants, the richly furnished banqueting house, the very banquet itself — all are nothing, unless we speak with the King.  His hand alone can take the burden off our backs and make us feel free. . . . We must deal directly with Christ.”
J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Old Tappan, n.d.), pages 266-267.

If we go to church just to be with one another, one another is all we will get.  And it isn’t enough.  Eventually, our deepest unmet needs will turn to anger at one another.  Putting community first destroys community.  We must put Christ himself first and keep him first and treat him as first and come to him first and again and again.  He can heal as no other can.  Can, and will.  If we come to him.

 [HT: Ray Ortland]