Archive for April, 2011

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, the apostle Paul writes, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” 

Everything Paul and his colleagues experienced – their afflictions and burdens  – were ordained and used by God for the purpose of driving them to depend fully upon God rather than their own resources. The Lord will use whatever it takes to knock out our props – because He loves us, not because He doesn’t.

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The Conveyor Belt

Life is a conveyor belt that cannot be paused, stopped, or reversed. We get older with each passing day, but do we get more mature? Hebrews 6:1 tells us to “press on to maturity” – maturity in our walk with the Lord, that is. Chronological age does not always correspond to spiritual maturity, even though it should. There are few things more disappointing than an older saint who is still in diapers spiritually. Few things are more encouraging than a young saint who is mature and wise beyond their years.

The conveyor belt that is life relentlessly keeps moving, requiring nothing on our part except our continued existence. Maturity and spiritual growth, on the other hand, takes blood, sweat, toil, and tears. Are we up for it?

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There are times when a word or phrase will almost literally “jump off the page” as you read the Bible. It happened to me recently as I read Matthew 6, and from it came a very timely reminder on the subject of prayer.

As He was giving instruction on prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ said in verse 10, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I’ve read that chapter, and the entire Sermon on the Mount many times, but this time the words – four of them – that “came off the page” were “your will be done.”

We are asking that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven when we pray this prayer. His will, not our will. We can, and should, pray about everything (see Philippians 4:6-7). But when we do, it must always be with the understanding that we’re asking that God would do what He wants, and not what we want.

“Your will be done” may have “jumped out at me” because my requests lately have been characterized by an attitude of “my will be done.” In other words, “God, here’s my list. Now do it.” Prayer is not trying to talk the Lord into doing what we want Him to do, it’s aligning our will with His and being satisfied with and submitted to that holy, perfect, righteous, just, good, sovereign will.

Your will, not mine!

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C.S. Lewis:

Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home is good actions, or Faith in Christ? I have no right really to speak on such difficult questions, but it does seem to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. A serious moral effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw up the sponge. Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point: and out of that Faith in Him good actions must inevitable come.

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I was my privilege to preach on Ephesians 2:4-10 this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon, including a review of 2:1-3, in one sentence: God graciously saves guilty sinners through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, who then serve Him based on their gratitude.

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