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Archive for the ‘faith in life’ Category

The lyrics to William Cowper’s great hymn were needed words this morning. They were a good reminder for me.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Daniel 1:8 (after sharing a bit about my teaching trip to Vietnam). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Daniel’s resolve came from a heart changed by God, a knowledge and submission to God’s Word, a deep love for God, an understanding of his situation, and a strong trust in God for the results.

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I’ve come across several articles lately that are good and worth consideration.

First, Jon Bloom writes on “The Real Root of Sexual Sin” at the Desiring God blog. You can read it here.

“70 Prompts for Praising God” is a goldmine of a resource on prayer. You can read it here.

We hear a lot about “privilege” today, especially white privilege. Jonathan Leeman has written a thoughtful piece about it from a biblical perspective. You can read it here.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Psalm 56:3 is good medicine for the soul.

In context, David writes, “Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; fighting all day long he oppresses me. My foes have trampled upon me all day long, for they are many who fight proudly against me. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise; in God i have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (Ps. 56:1-4)

When David wrote this psalm, King Saul was in hot pursuit of him, trying to kill him. David, the man after God’s own heart, admitted the nature of the battle and the effect it had upon him, but he was convinced of a deeper truth that was even more real then the personal effects of the battle.

He states it in verse 3: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” When we are afraid, even as a precious child of God, we know our Father can be trusted. We may be trampled upon, oppressed, and fought against, but it never has to be simply endured, stoically accepted, or even raged against. David’s prescription is medicine for the soul – when I am afraid, I will trust God.

The deeper truth is that God is worthy of our trust. He knows what He’s doing. He’s causing all things to work together for our good and His glory. Our sovereign God (sovereign over everything) sees to it.

This truth, which is also a command, has an application that is far wider than being on the run from a king! It applies to everything! We can say:

When I am discouraged, I will put my trust in You.

When I am worried, I will put my trust in You.

When I am angry, I will put my trust in You.

When I am confused, I will put my trust in You.

When I am discontent, I will put my trust in You.

When I am impatient, I will put my trust in You.

When I am irritated, I will put my trust in You.

When I am tempted, I will put my trust in You.

When I am “out of my comfort zone,” I will put my trust in You.

When I am proud, I will put my trust in You.

When I am nervous, I will put my trust in You.

When I am joyful, I will put my trust in You.

And finally,when I am afraid, I will trust in You. That’s good medicine for the soul!

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Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers in their early years, is said to have begun training camp by gathering all of the players around him and, while holding up a football, said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

There wasn’t one of those men who didn’t know what a football was, but that wasn’t Lombardi’s point. He wanted all of his players and coaches to know that the fundamentals of the game were important and would be stressed. If you forget the fundamentals, you’ll lose games – lots of them.

In the epistle he wrote to Titus, the apostle Paul laid down fundamental truth. He said,

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. (Titus 3:1-8)

Two bedrock truths are emphasized in this paragraph:

First, sinners are saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. We can never be right with God through our own efforts or good deeds. The only hope we have is God’s grace extended to us through the finished work of Jesus Christ. That’s the gospel we preach.

Second, salvation by grace alone through faith alone produces good works or deeds. When God justifies us by His grace, the inevitable result will be good deeds. One of the evidences of true faith in Christ is the presence of good works. As the Reformers put it, we’re saved by faith alone, but never by a faith that is alone.

Both faith and works have a part to play in the life of Christian. We aren’t saved by works, but they are part of the proof that we are saved. In other words, we don’t do good works in order to get saved, we do them because we are saved.

Gentlemen, this is a football.

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One of the most precious, and possibly memorized, passages in all of Scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

The positive command is to trust God, and that with all of our mind, affections, will, and our bodies. In other words, we trust God with everything we are, our whole being. This is the main point of these two verses.

The other side of the coin – the negative command – is not to trust ourselves. The point is that we can either trust (lean on) ourselves or we can trust (lean on) God. In our sinfulness and fallenness, we don’t have all the facts and we don’t know what we don’t know.

The commands of verse 5 are followed by the promise of verse 6. If we acknowledge God as we trust Him, He promises to direct our paths. He’ll give us wisdom if we trust Him rather than ourselves.

In His Word, God gives us a number of negative examples, like Abram. Genesis 12:10-20 records Abram (before God changed his name to Abraham) going to Egypt with his wife Sarai to escape a famine. To keep themselves safe, they came up with a scheme: they’d tell everyone they were brother and sister, not husband and wife. They leaned on their own understanding, didn’t trust God, and didn’t acknowledge Him (until the end). They thought their plan was better. It clearly wasn’t. Abram and Sarai sinned in their lying and deception. Yes, God used it in His providence, but they sinned by not trusting God with their circumstances.

God’s promise remains firm and reliable – He will direct our paths and give us wisdom in any and every situation we face. God’s command remains firm and reliable, too – Trust Him with all your heart, not yourself, and acknowledge Him. We need to look no further than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who exemplified Proverbs 3:5-6, for ourselves and for the church. We trust God for His glory and our good!

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I was reminded of an important truth today as I listened to a sermon on Luke 1:5-25 delivered by R.C. Sproul: there’s a big difference between believing in God and believing God.

I believe in God as a result of His sovereign grace. He opened my eyes to see Him, my ears to hear Him, and my heart to believe. But what’s more significant and important is to believe God. In other words, to trust Him, to take Him at His Word, and to act on what He says.

You can believe in God without believing Him, but you can’t believe God without believing in Him. It’s the difference between being convinced that God really does exist and trusting that He’s good and knows what He’s doing when you’re going through a difficult time. It’s the difference between believing God has spoken and knowing that what God says about you is true (that you’re dead in sin and deserving of God’s wrath) and, as a result, you repent of your sin and trust Christ alone for your salvation.

Our walk with the Lord consists of believing God one day at a time for as long as He gives us on this earth. Believe in God – yes. Believe God – far better.

A little two-letter word – “in” – makes a gigantic difference.

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