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Archive for the ‘obedience’ Category

weary

Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing (Judges 8:4).

The Midianites had oppressed Israel for seven years. In response to the cries and prayers of His people, God raised up Gideon as a judge and deliverer. After paring down Gideon’s army from 32,000 to a mere 300, God told him to pursue the Midianites and promised him victory.

That doesn’t mean it was easy, however. Gideon and his men, the Scripture says, were “weary yet pursuing” the Midianites. In the English Standard Version, weary is translated as “exhausted.”

We all get tired. We all become weary, even to the point of exhaustion. And the truth of the matter is that we can become weary, even if we’re doing precisely what God has commanded us to do – when we’re obedient to His will. Obedience doesn’t make us immune to weariness and exhaustion. That was true for Gideon and his men and it’s true for us. The weariness could be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual (or any combination), but it happens and it’s real.

Gideon and his 300 men were weary, but they kept going – they pressed on and pursued by the power of the Holy Spirit and ultimately gained the promised victory.

In Isaiah 40:28-31, we have God’s promise and a good dose of hope for the weary:

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
 He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

When you’re weary, continue to pursue in the power of God’s Spirit. In the words of J.I. Packer, “Trust God and get going.”

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Reading from Deuteronomy chapters 27 through 32, the words of R.C. Sproul were prominent in my thinking: “God plays for keeps.”

God takes His law and word very seriously. It reveals His character, nature, and will – indeed, it is a reflection of Him. In those chapters, those who obey God’s law are blessed, while those who disobey are cursed. The detail of this larger passage shows us that not only does God take His law and word seriously, He also takes our response to it seriously.

In other words, God plays for keeps. He’s serious about His children obeying (or, conversely, disobeying) His law and word. In fact, in 32:45-46, it says, When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.” (Emphasis added)

God’s Word and Law are not idle for us – they’re not meaningless or inconsequential; they are our life. Through His Word and Spirit, God saves us, sustains us, transforms us, and conforms us to the image of Christ. It really is our life, and there’s nothing idle about that!

God plays for keeps. Shouldn’t we be serious, too?

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psalm21

This morning, I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 2. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: The one who submits to the kingship of Jesus Christ is blessed.

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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 had the privilege this morning of preaching the fourth sermon in a short series on God’s Design for Gender and Sexuality. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: As Christians, we must respond to transgenderism and transgender people (and everyone else for that matter) with clarity, conviction, and compassion.

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football-1

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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The goal is not conformity to a standard; it’s loving the standard.

Those are the words of Doug Wilson as he gives advice to parents wrestling with the question of whether or not to give their children smart phones (and at what age).

He’s not against standards (no Christian should be). We all have standards to which we must conform. Those include “house rules,” the laws of the land, and ultimately the Law of God. The issue (and this is what I liked so much) is deeper than simply obedience versus disobedience, conformity on the one hand and non-conformity on the other. The issue is where does this conformity of obedience to the standard come from?

We all know how easy it is to obey on the outside and be in complete raging rebellion on the inside (in our heart). To put it another way, obedience can be external without the heart being “in it,” so to speak.

The goal – the deeper goal, the goal that makes the most difference in the long run – is to love and delight in the standard. If that happens, conformity to the standard will follow. If the heart (from where delight springs) is right, actions will follow.

Psalm 1 begins like this: How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night (vv. 1-2).

Psalm 40:8 takes it one step further, as it says, I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart. A delight in the Law of God produces obedience to it.

If, in our hearts, we delight in God’s Law (and love it), and in the One who gave it, we’ll conform to the standard. Delighting in God’s Law/Word means that we desire it, and derive great pleasure and joy from it. We love God’s Law and delight in it because we know that God always has our good and His glory in mind, and that He knows exactly what He’s doing.

Here’s a question for dads and moms: Do your children know the reasons behind God’s Law and your house rules? Do they know that both standards (yours and God’s) are meant to help the household operate in a way that’s orderly and glorifies God? Are they (and you) aware that it’s dangerous to confuse God’s Law with your house rules? Something to think about.

Here’s a question for churches: Are we simply telling God’s people to “conform to the standard,” or are we urging them to “love the standard”? Another thing to think about.

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