Monday, August 21, 2017

Psalm 100 Follow Up

A little follow up to yesterday's message "Grumbling and Faith" from Psalm 100.

First, some humor (I saw this at the store last night, shopping for school supplies with Sam):

Second, a simple and practical idea:

A good friend of mine has long been a model to me of durable, steady, buoyant, gospel-saturated gratitude. He often leads off conversations by asking, "What are you thankful for?" He fights for grace-fueled gratitude through thick and thin. He influences others to remove the myopic lenses of negativity and put on the panoramic lenses of gospel grace. I'm really thankful for him.

What if you started asking yourself, daily, what you're thankful for? (See Psalm 103:1-14 and Colossians 1:12-14 to prime the pump.) And what if you started asking others, regularly, what they're thankful for? Rather than disseminating negativity, we would be curbing it, and pumping grace and gratitude into the atmospheres of our homes, our churches, our places of work, our neighborhoods, etc. All with a simple question.

Feeling Relationally Vulnerable?

I ran across this quote today. It's part of a prayer post by Scotty Smith:
We need the gospel to keep us sane, centered, and satisfied. There are many lonely husbands, many lonely wives, many lonely single people who are primed for a fling, targets for an affair—aching, yearning, reaching for a few minutes of pleasure to medicate months, years, even a lifetime of disconnect and emptiness. It may never become physical, but emotional affairs offer exhilaration bordering on intoxication—an intoxication that can lead to addiction; and an addiction whose GPS is set on our destruction.
Here is one clear place that we need to EXPERIENCE the truth of Psalm 73:23-28
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. 
Smith finishes his prayer:
So we turn our hearts to you, Lord Jesus. You, who have won us, are constantly wooing us in the gospel, saying, “Come away, my beloved. My desire is for you and my banner over you is love.” 
Who do we have in heaven but you, Lord Jesus, and being with you, who or what could we possibly desire more on this earth? Should our wildest fantasy be realized, it wouldn’t be enough. You alone have words of eternal life, grace sufficient for our souls, peace that passes all understanding, and the joy we desperately crave. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and holy name. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Don't You Want to Thank Someone?

Great song by Andrew Peterson:

Good preparation for this Sunday's installment in our "Summer in the Psalms for the Fight of Faith" series. We're going to be looking at Psalm 100:
A Psalm for giving thanks.
1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 
2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 
3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 
5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Satisfied in You by The Sing Team

Our series in the Psalms this summer is aimed at helping us in the fight of faith. This song, based on Psalm 42, helps me in the fight. You might find it helpful too.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Safe for Sinners or Safe for Sin?

The church must be a place that is safe for sinners, but not safe for sin (HT: RO). That's what the church ought to be, reflecting the image of Jesus.

Luke 5:31-32
And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
Luke 7:34
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
Luke 15:1-2
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
Jesus was always going to the sinners and sinners were always coming to him. And encountering Jesus, they were never the same. Though they felt safe with the Son of God, their sin was no longer safe. It was exposed in the light of his presence. The deadly cancer eating their souls was subject to the radiation of his gracious glory, and it shriveled.

So, his church, having been transformed by his grace, will shine with his light. We will always be going to sinners and sinners will be coming to us.

Sadly, it's often the other way around. This is the anti-church. Where it is safe for sin, but not safe for sinners. Wretched, God-forsaken place! Filled with Pharisees who look squeaky clean, but inside are stinking piles of self-righteous, self-serving, self-protective dung (Matthew 23:23-28). This place cares more about image than reality. Behavior management is the fast track, not heart transformation.

It's where all manner of ugliness can find shelter behind a thin veneer of religiosity: where buying shares of control passes for generosity; where abuse passes for headship; where a good show of "having it all together" passes for maturity; etc. ad nauseum.

What ends up happening in such places of institutionalized hypocrisy? They are not safe places for sinners. They give off the impression that church is only for "good," moral people who have their act together. People who are honest enough to know they're a mess won't see any reason to come.

A plague on these hypocritical houses!

May the loving Lord Jesus build his church - where sinners find safety and welcome by the gospel of grace -- the grace that goes too deep to leave us unchanged.

Friday, August 4, 2017

What The Devil Did Last Night

Gospel newsflash for today:

Heads up, everyone! The devil prowled around last night and switched all the price tags. He put all the really valuable, precious things on the clearance rack. Now all the cheap, tinny, worthless stuff is on display out front, and it's waaaay overpriced.

If you buy that cheap and worthless stuff, it'll cost you dearly AND you'll be left with nothing of substance.

Saying "no" to the costly cut-rate wares can feel like loss, but God offers his true gains as gifts, free for the taking (see Isa 55:1-2). His stuff is substantial, and it lasts.

So as you go about your day today, pay attention and be a smart shopper.

Matthew 13:44
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Philippians 3:7-8
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Mark 8:34-38
[Jesus] said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Letters to a Would-Be Adulterer and Adulteress

Have you ever entertained the possibility of having an affair?
Fantasized about it?
Wished you were married to someone else?
Do you ever daydream about that person at work or church or whose Instagram life you wish you were living?

Have you ever cautiously enjoyed a growing emotional bond with someone who is not your spouse?
Have you ever found yourself wondering if that person was sending you "signals"?
Do you believe you're capable of infidelity?

If you answered yes to any of these questions (and I'm guessing that's just about every married person alive), then John and Noel Piper wrote you a letter.

John's letter to husbands is entitled, "Husband, Lift Up Your Eyes: Letter to a Would-be Adulterer."

Brief excerpt:

  • Ask God that he would make sin sickening to you, not just morally wrong.
  • Ask him to make biblical realities, like hell and heaven, terribly and wonderfully real to you — real enough to taste and feel.
  • Ask him to open your eyes to the glory of the spiritual world “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
  • Ask him to give you a massive desire for ultimate Pleasure in God that is so strong that it makes sinful pleasures nauseous.
  • Ask him to transpose the pleasures of intimacy with your wife into foretastes of the unending ecstasies of heaven.

When you have prayed, lift up your eyes. … Take your eyes off your computer, off your mirror, off your pain, off your dead dream, off your self-pitying lust. God is speaking to you. He is waving a thousand flags to get your attention. He has more to give you than you have ever tasted or felt or dreamed. The price he paid to satisfy his people, with never-dying joy and ever-new beauties, was great. Don’t push him away.

Noel's letter to wives is entitled, "Will You Cleave and Leave Your Man? Letter to a Would-be Adulteress."

 Brief excerpt:
What did it boil down to during my darkest nights? I was saved from wandering by some form of this question: What kind of a cleaver am I? Am I the deadly implement who will split my family — with a husband and five children — into shreds? Because, with or without divorce, that is what unfaithfulness will do to us. 
Or will I cleave to the husband God has given me? Will I cling to my marriage and pray desperately for something different? I chose to cling, and God is still proving his faithfulness. He will do the same for you.