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Archive for May, 2009

 

In Mark 8:34, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

To “deny” ourselves does not mean giving things up – it means giving ourselves up.

Obeying this commandment is not simply a matter of not eating candy during Lent, or not watching television on Sundays, or not indulging in the second piece of cake.

Denying ourselves means saying “no” to ourself in the sense that we no longer are in control of our life’s direction or destiny – we aren’t in charge anymore, we don’t set the course of our life, and we aren’t the captain of our own ship. Denying ourself means that we’ve said “yes” to the Lord Jesus Christ doing all of those things.

If we deny ourselves, we’ll gain real, true, and everlasting life. If we try to “save” our lives, we’ll lose them for sure. that’s the kind of denial that Jesus is talking about.

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Resolved, Never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honour, and to love mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the Golden Rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

Edwards is attempting to apply Matthew 7:12 – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” – to every area of his life, including his relationships with others.

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I’ve always said that I drive like a grandma. By saying that, I mean that I tend to drive slowly and carefully and not take too many chances (most of the time, that is).

Well, grandma got a ticket! My first, by the way.

A nice letter arrived in the mail recently from the city of Renton, Washington. It looked official – and it was. We were greeted with a series of three pictures of our car going 28 miles per hour in a school zone. Yes, it was our car and me behind the wheel. Photo-enforcement of the speed limit cost us $124. Ouch!

All of this reminded me that God sees everything even though He doesn’t have photo-enforcement – He doesn’t need it! The author of Hebrews wrote, “And there is no creature hidden from His (God’s) sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (4:13) My speeding in a school zone are open and laid bare before the true and living God and not only the Renton Police Department.

That expensive ticket is a providential reminder that we live all of life Coram Deo – before the face of God.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts these words in the mouth of Satan:

Keep on posing problems and you will escape the necessity of obedience.

Bonhoeffer rightly thinks there is a time when we have to leave the academic discussion behind and “get on with the task of obedience.”

Amen, brother!

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In terms of interpersonal relationships, I’m convinced that we would all be happier and holier if we simply “let it go.”

I agree with John MacArthur that at least 85% of all offenses should be overlooked. We encounter all kinds of slights as we go through our day: someone “looks at us funny,” we don’t like their tone or attitude, they don’t do exactly what they told us they would do, we’re not given the appreciation we think we deserve, someone treats us unfairly, or they never bothered to say “thank you” (the list could go on and on).

1 Peter 4:8 is most likely the best way to react. Peter wrote, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” The most loving thing we can do may be to “cover” the sin – simply “let it go.” Overlook it, forgive, forget it, and move on. Don’t try to confront everyone who offends you every time they offend you. If you do, your life will be unhappy, unholy, and lacking joy.

Yes, there are offenses and sins that must be confronted (remember that 85% is not 100% – roughly 15% should not be ignored or let go). The New Testament gives us clear instructions for church discipline which we are required by the Lord to follow.

But the vast majority of offenses are not on the level of church discipline and don’t require a heresy trial. Let them go. Drop them. Don’t make someone “pry them out of your cold, dead fingers.” Loving God and others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, requires it, and a happy and holy life depends upon it.

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Resolved, To strive, every week, to be brought higher in Religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

In other words, Edwards wanted to obey 2 Peter 3:17-18 — “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

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