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Archive for August, 2011

Excellent words from D.A. Carson:

At the end of World War 1, that bloodiest and most stupid of wars, several English poets (Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brook, one or two others) wrote some very moving poetry about the sheer savagery of the war. One of the minor poets was Edward Shillito whose piece “Jesus of the Scars” deserves wide circulation. The poem ends by saying, “The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak; They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, and not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.”

So when we face the ravages of uncertainty, when there is suffering and agony in our lives or in the world, and we wonder what God is doing and we have no answers and we reread the book of Job (that piece of wisdom literature we saw in chapter 6) and we hear God saying through four chapters of rhetorical questions, “Be still, Job; there are many things you do not understand at all,” we can now actually add something more that we do understand: “But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, and not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.”

You can trust a God who not only is sovereign but bleeds for you. Sometimes when there are no other answers for your guilt or your fears or your uncertainties or your anguish, there is one immovable place on which to stand. It is the ground right in front of the cross. (The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story. Emphasis in the original.)

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In Ephesians 5.16, Paul exhorts believers in Jesus Christ to use our time wisely – “making the best use of the time” (or as it reads in the King James Version, “redeeming the time”).

When author and lecturer John Erskine was a boy, he was asked by his piano teacher how much he practiced. He proudly answered that he practiced for an hour at a time every day. To his surprise, Erskine was told rather firmly by his teacher, “Don’t do that. When you grow up, time won’t come to you in long stretches like that. Practice in minutes wherever you can find them – five or ten before school, a few after lunch. Sandwich them in between chores. Spread the practice throughout the day, and music will become part of your life.” Erskine followed that advice. He wrote nearly all of Helen of Troy on streetcars while he was commuting between home and the university where he taught.

Moms with young children aren’t likely to get free, uninterrupted solitude in order to study God’s Word and pray, but they can take five minutes here or ten minutes there to spend time with the Lord. Anyone else with a busy schedule can do the same thing. Don’t waste time or kill it, redeem it for the glory of God!

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 5:15-17. What follows is a summary of my sermon in the space of one sentence: Living wisely means watching your step, redeeming the time, and understanding God’s will.

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You’ve had those days, or maybe even weeks, when nearly everything you’ve planned gets dashed. Nothing seems to work out the way you thought it would. A routine trip to the grocery store turns into something far more. Your schedule for the day is smashed into a million little pieces. You know what I’m talking about – you’ve been there.

Interestingly enough, dashed plans are evidence of the sovereignty of God. Proverbs 16:1 says, “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” Proverbs 16:9 adds this: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” Proverbs 19:21 says, Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

God’s Word, and the wisdom found in it, teaches us that the plans we make are always subject to the veto power of God. He, as the wise sovereign ruler of the universe, may overrule us for our good and His glory.

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Sermon in a Sentence

I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 5:8-14 this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: As children of light, we are to reflect light and expose darkness (which are part of living a holy life).

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The Best of Men are Men at Best

The best of men…

Thus King Solomon excelled all the other kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. (1 Kings 10:23-24)

…are men at best.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. (1 Kings 11:1-4)

So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:6)

 

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Blessings in Disguise

I read the lyrics of this song – “Blessings” by Laura Story – before my pastoral prayer last Sunday. We all need to think about what we pray for and how we pray. It’s a good reminder before you go to the Lord in prayer.

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Of the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

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