Built on Nothing Less

In this day of turmoil, upheaval, and outright blatant disregard for God-appointed government, I wanted to encourage our hearts with the beautiful reminder that the true AND only hope for a sin-cursed, totally depraved world is built on nothing less than the blood of Jesus Christ.

Dear believers, no matter what happens, we stand secure on the Solid Rock which is Jesus Christ. ALL other ground is sinking sand.

Things I’ve Learned

Seven or eight years ago, I went through the greatest trial of my life so far. My life has not always been easy, but looking back at most of the difficult times, I can see how God used them in some way in spite of how hard it was to go through them. This last trial, I still cannot see any good that came out of it, and I possibly never will. I can say, though, that God is still faithful. Although He felt distant at times, He kept holding my hand and, eventually, I was able to smile again. He also has opened doors for me that I would not have walked through had I not gone through that. Hmm. Maybe something good came out of it after all.

People like to quote Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” The key words are “for them that love God.” Sometimes bad things happen because of people’s selfishness or fleshly desires. God is not obligated to bring anything good out of these situations. He may do so, but He may not.

Too many treat God like a genie. When they need something, they call on Him. When everything is going well, they ignore Him. When things aren’t going as they’d like and He doesn’t answer how they wish, they get mad at Him. How this must grieve Him!

I turned 45 earlier this month. That may seem young to some of you and old to others, but I think of it as somewhere in between. I know I have a lot to learn yet, but I have learned a few things in my relatively short time here on earth. The one thing I cling to in the good and the bad times is that God is faithful. People are not always, but God is.

As long as there is breath, there is hope. The fact that I am alive proves that God still has a work for me to do, and I know that is the same for you as well. When troubles come, you may want to shut down and give up. That is the worst thing you could do. Give your burden to the Lord. Let Him carry it while you continue doing the work that God has called you to do.

I hope this encourages you, as that is my intent. “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; [Christ has] overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When Your Kids Won’t Bow to Your Idols

I believe there is a great deal of truth in this article. It was a good reminder that if we are not careful, all we may end up doing with our children is turning them away from Christ instead of pointing them to Christ. I recommend all true believing parents to read the blogpost found here by Jennifer Phillips.

No Disappointment

Disappointment is defined as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”

There are many things in life that can and do cause disappointment. Disappointments are like storms that can threaten to overwhelm your heart and soul. It could be the loss of a promotion when you feel that you were qualified for the position that was given to another person. Maybe the disappointment brings sadness when holiday times do not measure up to your hopes or expectations.

What about when your children do not follow your commands? We say that they have disappointed us. Simply put, our minds and hearts are sad or displeased because our children failed to live up to our hopes or expectations.

As we grow older in life, we find that our hopes or expectations of a good long life free of health issues produces disappointments. We realize that life is not easy and that our hopes continue to be dashed with each advancing year and trip to the doctor. One day they take tests and reveal a life-threatening illness, or maybe they are just not able to determine what is causing the severe pain. Either way, we have feelings of sadness because this is not what we could have imagined when we were young and in excellent health.

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Life is full of times that cause sadness and displeasure. Life is full of sadness because we are fallen creatures. Sin has caused our minds and hearts to run from what is perfect or ideal in each situation. Our chosen paths do not reflect the image in which we were created and thus we end up with more sadness and displeasure.

Our hopes and expectations do not come to fruition and then we try to make sense of the aftermath. What do we do with that disappointment? Do we allow it to overwhelm us or do we strive to rise above the clouds of despair and set new goals?

The Scriptures are full of times when disappointment was the order of the day throughout different periods of history. Adam and Eve must have been disappointed when they learned the news of Cain killing his own brother. Despite having prepared for 120 years, Noah must have felt a keen disappointment that there were only seven other people in the boat with him while the remainder of the world perished.

Surely, Joseph was disappointed when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and realized that he would probably never see them again. Yet, there was a ray of hope, grace, and redemption at the end of the account. Joseph and his brothers were ultimately reconciled and Joseph revealed the answer to life’s most poignant disappointments.

Are you ready for this? In this answer, you too can understand what many cannot or will not grasp. The answer to all the disappointments is a full recognition of who is in charge of every aspect of your life. Without taking full knowledge of this answer, you and I will long struggle with what happens to us from day to day. We will continue to be filled with sadness and displeasure when our hopes and expectations flee from us like dew before the morning sun. As James 4:14 puts it so eloquently, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

Joseph had to go through a great deal of disappointments in order for him to finally learn the truth. Life was not about him. It was not about his brothers. In fact, life was not even about the hardships that he had endured. Was his life full of various disappointments? Yes, of course, but those disappointments are not ultimately what made Joseph such a wise person.

His point of wisdom is found in Genesis 50:20.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

The Hebrew word for evil is also translated in other verses as wickedness, mischief, hurt, trouble, affliction, adversity, harm, or sad. In other words, it is not just the evil out of the heart of man that God means for good to us. There is a reason why you are going through the disappointments of life.

To take the cue from Joseph, maybe we should memorize this verse in Genesis 50. When the disappointments of life come, then we should be learning to say:

“As for you, you meant hurt or trouble or affliction or adversity or disappointment to or against me, BUT God meant it for good.”

joseph

Understanding this will enable us to put aside feelings of sadness and displeasure when it seems like our lives are falling apart. Instead of allowing disappointment to overwhelm us like shadows in the valleys of life, we can appreciate verses like James 4:15 where the apostle continues by sharing with true believers, “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Or, we can even appreciate opening up the wonderful passage in Romans 8 where we learn that all the things that God is working together in our lives is for the express purpose of making us more like His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the total sovereignty of God in action. Our biggest problem as true believers is that we fail to note this every day. Disappointments come and go, yet one thing remains sure –

There’s no disappointment in Jesus!

*****

There was a hymn written before World War 2 that is rarely heard anymore, but I leave the words for you to consider. May they be an encouragement to your heart and mind.

There’s No Disappointment in Jesus

1) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He’s more than my tongue can tell;
His love is so sure
And so steadfast,
His friendship divine will not fail.

Chorus
There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He’s all that He promised to be;
His love and His care
Comfort me everywhere;
He is no disappointment to me.

2) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
Tho’ sorrows may press me sore.
He comforts with tender compassion,
His love cheers my heart evermore.

3) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He satisfies me alway;
So strong and so willing to help me,
In Him I find comfort each day,

John C. Hallett © 1940 Renewal 1968 Word Music, LLC

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

I wonder what it was like to live before Jesus was born. The prophets had foretold His birth and encouraged people to be ready, but I wonder how many took the prophecy seriously. Maybe it seemed like one of those tales they had heard their whole lives so, even if it would become true some day, it most likely wouldn’t be in their lifetime.

 

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I expect that people then were very much like they are today. The difference is that, today, we know He came. He lived, He died, He rose. But He also promised to come again! Are we watching, making sure that we are ready for His return? Or we are going through life with a vague recollection that He said He would return, but it probably won’t be for a long time yet?

Although that may be true, we need to live as if He were coming today. So many missed His first coming. I do not want to be among those who are not ready for Jesus’ second coming.

As you celebrate this week, think about how much we truly have to celebrate. God so loved you that He gave His Son, and one day, we will get to see Him face to face. Lord, hasten that day!

Jesus Calling Problems?

10 Serious Problems with “Jesus Calling”

Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling is a phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. According to publisher Thomas Nelson, it “continues to grow in units sold each year since it was released [and] has surpassed 15 million copies sold.” Nelson is involved in an expansive new marketing campaign that involves a new web site and daily radio devotionals. ECPAreports that “Thomas Nelson began its partnership with the Salem Media group to provide 60-second daily messages on Eric Metaxas’ show, which is carried on more than 100 stations nationwide and worldwide on SiriusXM Radio. The Jesus Calling radio devotional reaches more than 500,000 people each day through these segments.” With 15 million copies sold, it has marched its way into rare company.

jesus-calling

Yet it is a deeply troubling book. I am going to point out 10 serious problems with Jesus Calling in the hope that you will consider and heed these warnings.

1. She speaks for God. Far and away the most troubling aspect of the book is its very premise—that Sarah Young hears from Jesus and then dutifully brings his messages to her readers.

(Go here to continue reading this informative and well-written article from Tim Challies.)

Quotes (860)

“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum up all in one word – what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and loves also the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible bodies, looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake.”  – Mathetes – Epistle To Diognetus, 5-6

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35

Quotes (816)

You must understand that there is only one door to salvation, and that is Christ; there is one way, and that is Christ; one truth, and that is Christ; one life, and that is Christ. Salvation lies in Jesus only; it does not lie in you, in your doings, or your feelings, or your knowings, or your resolutions. In Him all life and light for the sons of men are stored up by the mercy of God the Father. This may be one reason why you have not found the light; because you have sought it in the wrong place. Though the Lord has placed it on record in His Word, in the plainest language, that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16) yet most men in their hearts imagine that everlasting life is tied to duties and earned by service. You must abandon such vainglorious notions; you must come before God as a humble petitioner, pleading the promises of mercy, abhorring all idea of merit, confessing that if the Lord condemns you He has a right to do it, and if He saves you, it will be an act of pure gratuitous mercy, a deed of sovereign grace. Oh, too many of you hold your heads too high; to enter the lowly gate of light you must stoop. On the bended knee is the penitent’s true place. “God be merciful to me, a sinner’, is the penitent’s true place. If God should condemn you, you could never complain of injustice, for you could not accuse the Lord, for you have no right to be heard. He could righteously withhold an answer of peace if He so willed.

Confess that you are an undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinner and begin to pray as you have never prayed before. Cry out of the depth of self-abasement if you want to be heard. Come as a beggar, not as a creditor. Come to crave, not to demand. Use only this argument, “Lord, hear me, for you are gracious, and Jesus died; I cry to you as a condemned criminal. who seeks pardon. Deliver me from going down into the pit, that I may praise your name.” This harboring of a proud spirit, I fear, has been a great source of mischief with many, and if it has been so with you, amend it and go now with humble and contrite hearts, in lowliness and brokenness of spirit, to your Father whom you have offended, for he will surely accept you as his children. Your salvation does not depend upon what you do, but upon what Christ did when he offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin. All your salvation takes root in the death throes of Calvary; the great Substitute bore your sin and suffered its penalty. Your sin shall never destroy you if upon that bloody tree the Lord’s chosen High Priest made a full expiation for your sins; they shall not be laid against you any more forever. What you have to do is simply accept what Jesus has finished. I know your idea is that you are to bring something to him; but that vainglorious idea has ruined many, and will ruin many more. When you are brought empty-handed, made willing to accept a free and full salvation from the hand of the Crucified, then, and then only, will you will be saved.

-C.H. Spurgeon

1834-1892

Quotes (757)

“For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among the nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” – Amos 9:9

Every sifting comes by divine command and permission.  Satan must ask leave before he can lay a finger upon Job.  Nay, more, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for the text says, “I will sift the house of Israel”.  Satan, like a drudge, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive.  Precious, but much sifted corn of the Lord’s floor, be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directeth both flail and sieve to His own glory, and to thine eternal profit. 

The Lord Jesus will surely use the fan which is in His hand, and will divide the precious from the vile.  All are not Israel that are of Israel; the heap on the barn floor is not clean provender, and hence the winnowing process must be performed.  In the sieve true weight alone has power.  Husks and chaff being devoid of substance must fly before the wind, and only solid corn will remain.

Observe the complete safety of the Lord’s wheat; even the least grain has a promise of preservation.  God Himself sifts, and therefore it is stern and terrible work; He sifts them in all places, “among the nations”; He sifts them in the most effectual manner, “like corn is sifted in a sieve”; and yet for all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shrivelled grain, is permitted to fall to the ground.  Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord, a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweller one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of His redeemed people.  However little we may be, if we are the Lord’s, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.

– Charles Spurgeon

1834 – 1892

Quotes (750)

“He humbled Himself.” – Philippians 2:8

Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart.  We need daily to learn of Him.  See the Master taking a towel and washing His disciples’ feet!  Follower of Christ, wilt thou not humble thyself?  See Him as the Servant of servants, and surely thou canst not be proud!  Is not this sentence the compendium of His biography, “He humbled Himself”?  Was He not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honor and then another, till, naked He was fastened to the cross, and there did He not empty out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave?  How low was our dear Redeemer brought!  How then can we be proud?  Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame; hear the thrilling shriek, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it; if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him.  You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten.  Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet.  A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt.  May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him.  Pride cannot live beneath the cross.  Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.

– Charles Spurgeon

1834 – 1892

Quotes (743)

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” —2 Tim. 1:13

 “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”—Titus 1. 9.

But let us not forget that this testimony for the “form of sound words which we have heard of” the apostles must be borne “in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” Unhallowed is that zeal for the truth which is animated merely by rivalry, or the spirit of party, which is not founded in solemn convic­tion, the result of faithful study and earnest prayer, which con­tends for wrath, and not for conscience’s sake. The apostle here teaches us, in two words, what is that spirit of orthodoxy which God requires. It values revealed truth because it has humbly received it with adoring reverence, as the gift and trust of infinite wisdom and love, and because it sees in those doc­trines the instruments of glory to God and endless blessing to blind, erring man; yea, to our enemies and opposers. Let us, then, while we hold fast to the pattern of sound words, ever study to do it in faith and love.

– R.L. Dabney

1820 – 1898

John MacArthur on Mark Driscoll – Part 2

As a follow up to the original piece John MacArthur on Mark Driscoll there has been a flurry of recent activity on several fronts addressing what seems to be fast becoming a latter day Great Downgrade Controversy of sorts.

Recently Phil Johnson, director of Grace to You, editor of several of John MacArthur’s books, co-pastor of the Grace Life Pulpit at Grace Community Church, webmaster of The Spurgeon Archive, and blogmaster of Pyromaniacs preached a scathing Biblical indictment against the “pornification of the pulpit” entitled “Sound Doctrine, Sound Words” at the 2009 Shepherd’s Fellowship Conference.

Now Dr. John MacArthur has weighed in on this important and timely issue in a series of four articles entitled “THE RAPE OF SOLOMON’S SONG” which zeroes in on the gross, heinous, and wholly unbiblical perversion of scripture perpetrated by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

Continue reading

Quotes (510)

spurgeon!

“Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp” – Hebrews 13:13

Jesus, bearing His cross, went forth to suffer without the gate.  The Christian’s reason for leaving the camp of the world’s sin and religion is not because he loves to be singular, but because Jesus did so; and the disciple must follow his Master.  Christ was “not of the world”:  His life and His testimony were a constant protest against conformity with the world.  Never was such overflowing affection for men as you find in Him; but still He was separate from sinners.  In like manner Christ’s people must “go forth unto Him”.  They must take their position “without the camp”, as witness-bearers for the truth.  They must be prepared to tread the straight and narrow path.  They must have bold, unflinching, lion-like hearts, loving Christ first, and His truth next, and Christ and His truth beyond all the world.  Jesus would have His people “go forth without the camp” for their own sanctification.  You cannot grow in grace to any high degree while you are conformed to the world.  The life of separation may be a path of sorrow, but it is the highway of safety; and though the separated life may cost you many pangs, and make every day a battle, yet it is a happy life after all.  No joy can excel that of the soldier of Christ:  Jesus reveals Himself so graciously, and gives such sweet refreshment, that the warrior feels more calm and peace in his daily strife than others in their hours of rest.  The highway of holiness is the highway of communion.  It is thus we shall hope to win the crown if we are enabled by divine grace faithfully to follow Christ “without the camp”.  The crown of glory will follow the cross of separation.  A moment’s shame will be well recompensed by eternal honor; a little while of witness-bearing will seem nothing when we are “forever with the Lord”.

– C.H. Spurgeon

1834 – 1892