This was a blessing to me today:
We are constantly tempted to look within ourselves to seek to find some reason why God should love us. Such searching is, of course, usually discouraging. We usually find within ourselves reasons why we think God should not love us. Such searching is also unbiblical.
The Bible is quite clear that God does not look within us for a reason to love us. He loves us because we are in Christ Jesus. When He looks at us, He does not look at us as “stand alone” Christians, resplendent in our own good works, even good works as Christians. Rather, as He looks at us, He sees us united to His beloved Son, clothed in His righteousness. He loves us, not because we are lovely in ourselves, but because we are in Christ.
Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, pp. 151-152
I listened to an interview with Pastor Tim Keller this week. In it, he was asked, “How do you preach the gospel to yourself every day?” This may seem an odd question to some. In essence, to preach the gospel to yourself means that we Christians take time to remember the accomplishments of Christ on our behalf, and make sure they are being applied through the flurry of life and its many distractions. His answer was very helpful to me. I hope to implement something like it in my own life. Here’s his answer (taken from Steve McCoy’s attempt to transcribe the answer):
I try to do petition in the morning. I try to do repentance in the evening. So I try to pray in the morning and in the evening. In the evening I look back on what I did wrong and repent. But in the middle of the day I try to catch myself and I look for four kinds of emotions. I always pray in the morning, “Lord make me happy enough in the grace of Jesus to avoid being proud, cold, scared, and hooked.”
- Now, by proud I mean what you think, too self-congratulatory. And maybe disdainful of people who I don’t think have it together.
- Cold means I’m just too absorbed in my concerns to really be compassionate and gracious and warm and joyful to the people around me.
- Scared means I’m just obviously too anxious and worried.
- Hooked means…when you’re overworked, it means for me…eating. Eating things I shouldn’t eat just because it’s a way of keeping my energy up, and also because it’s a way of rewarding myself. Or looking at women more than once.
So: proud, cold, scared, hooked. Now, in the middle of the day I get it out and say, “Have I been proud, scared, cold, or hooked in the last 3-4 hours. And the answer usually is “Yeah.” And then I say, “How do I bring the Gospel to bear on that? How does the grace of God deal with it?” And you try to catch yourself in those feelings. So basically finding problem feelings and inordinate desires, catch them when they’re happening, try to deal with them with the Gospel right there. I call that “Quick Strike” on my idols around noon, if I can remember it. And repentance at night and petition in the morning. So I try to get into God’s presence three times a day. […] I know the times in which I’ve been most prone to temptation is when I’ve basically drop-kicked the whole practice, the discipline of it, for weeks on end because I’ve just been so busy and running ragged and that’s when I can really sense myself being vulnerable.
Last night at our elders meeting we hovered over Luke 10:1-3. That’s the passage where Jesus says that the fields are white unto harvest, but the laborers are few. We all prayed over this text, and most of our prayers were prayers of confession – “forgive us for not praying and not going”. Lord willing, He will move us to pray and go with courage and love.
This morning I read something from J.C. Ryle that helped me linger over this some more. Ryle says:
The wickedness of being ashamed of Christ is very great.
It is a proof of unbelief.
It shows that we care more for the praise of men whom we can see, than that of God whom we cannot see.
It is a proof of ingratitude.
It shows that we fear confessing Him before man who was not ashamed to die for us upon the cross.
Let us resolve never to be ashamed of Christ. Of sin and worldliness we may well be ashamed. Of Christ and His cause we have no right to be ashamed at all. Boldness in Christ’s service always brings its own reward.
The boldest Christian is always the happiest person.
as·pire – to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, esp. for something great or of high value
As a church, we should know and understand the glory of God. Sam Storms defines glory this way: “Glory is what you see and experience and feel when God goes public with His beauty.”
The church is where God goes public with His beauty.
- Where lives are CHANGED (and being changed) by the gospel
- Where love is sacrificial, steady, faithful, and pure
- Where sweet unity exists in the midst of great diversity
- Where comfort and encouragement are frequent and normal
- Where Jesus is seen and His ministry and word are lived out
- Where forgiveness, forbearance, and patience flows
- Where truth is loved and lived
- Where grace is not just a word, but is manifest actions
The list could go on. All the above, when lived out, showcases the power, work, and mission of God — it declares His beauty.
As a church, ALL OF US should be “aspiring” to display God’s glory. Where “the church” makes public God’s beauty as we (the church) go off to work and school; as we talk with our spouses; as we interact with our children; as we hang out with each other; as we go to family gatherings, work parties, or community meetings.
May God lead and empower Country Bible Church to aspire to showcase God’s glory.
This is a wonderfully helpful quote for any who are sick of their sins and the residual guilt that comes along with them.
I know not what you may have been in your past life – it matters nothing. You may have broken every commandment under heaven; you may have sinned with a high hand against light and knowledge; you may have despised a father’s warnings and a mother’s tears; you may have run greedily into every excess of riot, and plunged into every kind of abominable behavior – you may have turned your back entirely on God, His day, His house, His ministers, His word. I say again it matters nothing. Do you feel your sins? Are you sick of them? Are you ashamed of them? Are you weary of them? Then come to Christ just as you are, and Christ’s blood shall make you clean. (J. C. Ryle, Old Paths)
Isn’t that glorious!! COME TO CHRIST JUST AS YOU ARE, AND CHRIST’S BLOOD SHALL MAKE YOU CLEAN!
This reminds me of the second and third verses of one of my favorite hymns, “It Is Well With My Soul”:
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
With that solid truth, my heart can sing, “It IS well with my soul!”
Dane Ortlund asked several prominent pastors and theologians to write what they understood the Bible to be about in just one sentence.
I really liked this one from Doug Wilson:
Scripture tells us the story of how a Garden is transformed into a Garden City, but only after a dragon had turned that Garden into a howling wilderness, a haunt of owls and jackals, which lasted until an appointed warrior came to slay the dragon, giving up his life in the process, but with his blood effecting the transformation of the wilderness into the Garden City.
Read the rest here. They are very edifying!