Friday, June 5, 2009

Shut in With the Trinity?!

Again, today, my blog post is prompted by my lesson from Spurgeon's book of devotionals called "Morning by Morning". Spurgeon is able to dissect scripture in an amazing way an pull out application implications that I would overlook every time. Today, Genesis 7:16: And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded in him. And the Lord shut him in. Now, this scripture comes directly from the account of Noah and the great flood. Having been through the D. Platt curriculum on how to study the Bible, I know that it can be a dangerous practice to assign implied meaning to scripture that is simply telling a story, but Spurgeon eloquently draws a parallel picture without distorting the historical exclusivity of this passage.

When God calls us out, transforms out hearts and souls, and justifies us before the Father, he shuts us in. We are shut in and protected from our former passions. We are shut in, or perhaps ushered into communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Yes, the infinitely glorious, ultimate joy-possessing, completely perfect Trinity. We are shut in to the possibility of experiencing joy greater than our old nature could ever know. HALLELUJAH! WHAT A SAVIOR (Bob Kauflin's Hymn Project is playing in my ear as I type). When sanctification begins, we are at war with our former nature. But, like Noah, we are shut in and protected from raging storms. While the winds of trials and temptation blow us off our navigated course, we are protected from the debris that these winds stir up. And flood waters lift us closer to Heaven. God's elect dwell in Him, and Him in us.

I imagine myself in this shut-in state with God the Father. His son, Jesus, my Savior protecting me from the Father's wrath and allowing me to feel their love. The Holy Spirit permeating this fellowship like a cool breeze. Imagine the joy and peace, the satisfaction and true contentment that comes from this experience. I pray for the ability to experience this fellowship daily as Jesus' blood prompts sanctification and a stronger desire/need for it. By faith, let us proclaim victory in Him and own this fellowship daily as we wade through the floods of life.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Preach the Gospel to Yourself

Today's post is going to be rather random, as there are many thoughts that I feel are worthy of imparting on whomever may read this post. Three different thoughts......

1.) As I am in the process of weaning from an antidepressant/antianxiety medicine, it seemed quite appropriate to revisit C.J. Mahaney's little but life-changing book, "The Cross Centered Life." I am reminded of the importance of preaching the gospel to ourselves (C.J. gives credit to John Stott for that terminology), so here is a fundamental scripture to memorize. 2 Corinthians 5:21: "For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." If you've not already committed this verse to memory, I exhort you to do that with me and revisit it all day long, letting this thought season every activity you take on throughout the day.

2.) Do I live daily with a healthy fear of God? Thank you to my friend and pastor, Scott, who took our flock on a scripture-journey yesterday, speaking truth from the word of God and prompting each of us to dwell on our perception (or misperception) of the Sovereign God of all we know. Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the Lod is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." This sermon actually piggy-backs so nicely on what God has been revealing to me in my "quiet times" with Him daily. Spurgeon's devotion book, "Morning by Morning" has lately (coincidentally) been dealing with the sufficiency of God and our Savior in the midst of trials. David, a man after God's heart, and Jesus, His own sinless, perfect son did not live on earth without trials. Why on earth do I seek a problem-free existence day after day? There is nothing in His Word that says that I deserve a comfortable life, free of resistance or darkness. As a matter of fact, Paul says that God gave him a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming arrogant. I pray that God will use our struggles to draw each of us closer to Him!

And this leads me to the last truth that God has unveiled recently.....

3.) James 1: 13-16 (Thanks again, Scott), my own paraphrase: No one is tempted by God. I am tempted when I am enticed by myself and my own sinful desires (people pleasing, comfort, satisfaction/joy in inferior objects/practices). Desire breeds sin, and sin becomes spiritual death. Don't be deceived!

This prompts a question: why are my desires more important than seeking God through prayer and scripture?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

IF Ye Have Tasted

1 Peter 2:3: "if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Oh, conviction..... Thank you, Jesus, for Your Word, for fellowship with You, Your life and joy giving sacrifice, and Thank You, Lord, that You have given me the fortune of like minded friends, so that "by testing, I may discern what is the will of God." Lord Jesus, allow us to drink more deeply of You! Allow us to "taste that the Lord is good."

IF we have tasted that the Lord is good, then we engage in the practice of self-abandonment, a practice commended by God. Our source of joy is no longer crap and filth of this world. John Piper reminded me last night ("Heat and Light") of something he learned from a book written by C.S. Lewis et al, "Quest for Joy." Self abandonment is not the act of renouncing pursuit of pleasure, but the act of abandoning the pursuit of lesser pleasures in favor of the life-giving, all-satisfying joy that comes from fellowship and friendship in Jesus Christ, in whom the fullness of Deity dwells, and to whom we have access to fullness.

Let yesterday's post tie into this one. 1 Peter 2:3 says [we may grow into salvation] IF we have tasted that the Lord is good. Wrestle with this! Let's beg him together for a taste of the joy that He alone provides!

Here is verse 2 of "Jesus, My Only Hope," a Sovereign Grace worship song.

I will not fear Your judgment
for me no wrath I dread
for it was spent on Jesus
poured out upon His head.
When Satan's accusations
make my poor heart afraid
I hear my King declaring
"Father, that debt is paid!"


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our Source of "Fullness"

Colossians 2: 9 - 10 speaks so much truth into my life yesterday and today. Paul says, "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, (10) and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." Jesus is God in the flesh. I, as a believer, have all fullness..... everything I need in Him! He has smashed every rule and authority and become my only hope.

Paul is speaking to the Colossian church about philosophers in Colossae who were spreading false doctrine. While the word "fullness" has such heavy implications to the believer, my ESV Study Bible tells me that Paul was actually using this term to kind of "poke" at these philosophers, using a term from their jargon to mock their parallel philosophy, rooted in evil and darkness. The question is: Where do I gain my fullness? If Christ allows my union with Him, and He provides the crushing blow to all rules and authorities, why do I seek pleasure, comfort, and joy in things other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Why do my remedies for worldly anxiety or depression trump the all-sufficient Savior?

Charles Spurgeon frequently suffered terrible bouts with "depression." He and I have that in common. Spurgeon applied the all-sufficient balm of the gospel to his life as his sole remedy. Is it double minded (James 1) to embrace contemporary methods for treating anxiety and depression? Is this a parallel teaching rooted in darkness like in Colossians 2: 9-10? When is Christ Jesus enough? Paul says here that Jesus is God manifest in body, and we are filled with Him!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Joint Heirs with Christ....

Romans 8:17 "and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ......"

Wow! This verse, even out of context (the rest of the passage adds tremendous clarity to the above statement), gives Christian life purpose. The passage of Romans 8:12-17 gives more depth to the main point I've isolated from verse 17. If we are children of God, then we are alive in His Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh. In the Spirit we cry out "Abba! Father!"

Is there a more humbling thought than this? That God has allowed us to be joint heirs with Jesus Christ. I pray that God Himself will reveal to each of us the depth and breadth of all this statement implies. The Sovereign God of all creation allows fallen worshipers to become as His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. WHAT? Oh, yes, God allows us to basque in the beauty of His presence of His Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we can enter into friendship with Him. We are heirs of righteousness and holiness!

Fellow believers, let us cling to this truth for joy when the suffering of this world inevitably strikes a blow to our faith. The person of Jesus Christ took the blow of our Father's wrath. He took our punishment so that we can be fellow heirs. Thank you, Jesus!

Romans 8:15 "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

Proverbs 14:29
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Saturday, our family's dishwasher caught fire. It had a good life, a number of years of service, and was generally dying a slow death anyway. Saturday night/Sunday I did some research and Sunday afternoon, while at Lowe's to purchase Kelley's Mother's Day flowers (to plant with the kids) we purchased a dishwasher.

Monday after work, Kelley called me to tell me that our brand new dishwasher was just sitting outside our house. How could this be? We paid an addition $105. to have our new dishwasher installed in our house..... No one had called me to set up an appointment to install. You mean to tell me that we dropped $500 on this new dishwasher and these guys had just left it sitting outside my house? Boy, I was livid. So, I headed to Lowe's to "straighten this whole thing out."

I marched straight back to the appliance section of Lowes. Before I was finished telling my story, two sales associates (including the one that had sold me the dishwasher Sunday), the delivery manager, and the store manager were surrounding me. They were captive to my rant. "Someone here has lost their mind," I proclaimed. "Maybe $500 isn't much to you guys, but that's a lot of money to me." I had caused a stir, maybe even a scene.

"Are you sure it's your dishwasher?" they asked. "Yes!" I exclaimed, "but I'll get my wife on the phone to make sure. The group huddled ever closer. "We don't show in our computer that we've delivered anything to your address," they continued.

"Honey, will you go outside and look at the box? Are you certain that it says 'Whirlpool' on there?" "Make sure there is a white Lowes delivery sticker on there."

"Oops, John, I'm so sorry. This box is our new sand filter for our swimming pool."

Red-faced, I apologized, tucked my tail and left embarassed and humbled. I believe there's a lesson for me here......