Saturday, April 30, 2011

depraved.

"The ordinary man may feel ashamed of doing wrong: but the saint, endowed with a superior refinement of moral sensibility, and keener powers of introspection, is ashamed of being the kind of man who is liable to do wrong"- N.P. Williams
~~~
Romans 7:18- "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh."
I Corinthians 2:14- "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."
~~~
Over and over, I am reminded of my spiritual depravity.  I am unable to choose anything good, namely Christ.  I am vehemently resistant to the love of Christ.  This is utterly disheartening, but thank God He made me alive!  Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But God, being RICH in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved."  No matter how hard I TRY to love Christ, I am incapable without the drawing of the Holy Spirit.  To find delight in Christ, God must make my heart alive.  This makes me so thankful to my God and humbles my heart completely.  
~~~
"We are so bad that we cannot love God.  We cannot delight in God above all things.  We cannot treasure Christ..."  -J.Piper When I Don't Desire God

Thursday, April 28, 2011

refuge.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,  though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46:1-3
~~~
Refuge- "protection or shelter, as from danger or hardship"   God is the one who protects us from anything that seeks to harm us.  He's ALWAYS there.  Because of this, we are NOT afraid!  Even if everything around us falls apart, we trust in our ever-faithful God to hold and protect us.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

conform.

Romans 12:2-  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will."

~~~
Conform- 1) to comply  2) to act in accord with the prevailing standards, attitudes, practices, etc., of a society or a group  3) to be or become similar in form, nature, or character.  Clearly, we are to be opposite of the culture in which we live.  The way we do this is by being transformed (changed completely) in our deepest parts.  Our minds should be made new, and the way to effect this change is by living and breathing in the Word of God.  It is only when we are in step with Christ that we will know the will of the Father.  People often ask, "How will I know God's will for this or that?"  Simply put, if we are always seeking God, and we fill our hearts and minds with Him, we will know what will please Him.  Us looking like everyone else doesn't please God; He requires us to stand out as His children...to be different...completely.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the race.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~~~
The great men and women of faith (ch.11) who have gone before us give us examples to follow in our Christian walk.  Paul doesn't tell us to drop the excess weight; rather, he tell us to THROW it off.  This implies intention and force.  Anything that hinders us from following Christ 100% must be given up passionately and purposefully.  The sin in our lives holds us in chains, and this keeps us from running.  Paul tells us to RUN!  Run, don't walk, don't amble, don't plod.  We should RUN with the intention of never giving up or stopping.  This race that we run has been determined by God from the beginning of time.  We don't choose the path; He lays it out and we are only to follow the path.  The only way we can do this is to look at Jesus CONSTANTLY.  Fixing our eyes on Him implies unmoving and undistracted.  Jesus is the one who created our faith and He will complete it for us.  Jesus knows what running this race is like because He has a race of his own to run.  The path laid out for HIM before time was death on the cross.  His purpose, his RACE, was to provide a way for us to avoid eternal punishment for the sins we deserve to suffer and die for.  Jesus endured this unthinkable suffering, felt contempt for the shame that came with the cross, and when He was finished, when his race was done and his path complete, He received his reward, being exalted to the highest place next to the Father.  How much more should we run with perseverance and vigor, always with joy, because we know what is to come!

delight.

Psalm 37:4- "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
~~~
When a man's delight and joy are in the Lord, the desires of his heart can ONLY be fulfilled by God. This isn't saying that God will give him everything he wants, but when man finds his true delight in God, He CHANGES man's desires.  Psalm 36:8 tells us, "They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights."

Monday, April 25, 2011

glorify.

"God’s law demanded, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But we have all loved other things more. This is what sin is—dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We glorify what we enjoy most. And it isn’t God."- John Piper- Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
~~~
To prefer something over God is to sin.  Let's think about that statement for a minute.  I'm sure we all go through our lives thinking, "Oh, I love God.  I read my Bible and pray all the time."  But has it become our life and breath?  Do we truly seek Him first and foremost?  Are thoughts of Him always on our minds, or are we constantly distracted by worldly desires?  We are even told in scripture that Jesus said to hate our families!  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)  He clearly says here that we should, IN COMPARISON TO HIM, hate our own lives!  What does this mean?  Surely Jesus isn't telling us to hate those whom He's given us to love!  No, not at all.  He's saying that our love and desire for Him should be so great that any other human love should pale in comparison.  Our love and passion for Him should be something that penetrates our souls and pervades our beings.  We should be so deeply in love with our Savior that we truly do live and move and breathe IN HIM (Acts 17:28).  As humans, we do naturally glorify what we value most.  It SHOULD be Christ, but it usually isn't.  God craves our praise, no, He DEMANDS it.  Does this make him self-serving?  No, this makes him GOD.  A deserving, sovereign, powerful God.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

joy

“Surely this is the way we should understand the sufferings and death of Christ. They have to do with me. They are about Christ’s love for me personally. It is my sin that cuts me off from God, not sin in general. It is my hard-heartedness and spiritual numbness that demean the worth of Christ. I am lost and perishing. When it comes to salvation, I have forfeited all claim on justice. All I can do is plead for mercy.” -John Piper- The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons He Came to Die
~~~
“My hard-heartedness and spiritual numbness…”  Have you ever thought about spiritual apathy being a sin?  We are commanded to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds…  Yet daily, we choose, over and over again, to love other things more than we love Him.  I think we sometimes tell ourselves that if we love God more than our pleasures, He will surely take them away.  What if He calls us to the far reaches of the earth to serve Him, removing us from our families and friends and comforts?  Loving God fully MUST mean having NO earthly pleasures.  How wrong we are!  God delights in giving us pleasure, and He knows that we are MADE for Him.  Everything we “love” in this world leaves us wanting, never fully satisfied.  He knows that if we will just find our JOY in Him, we will be completely fulfilled.  It breaks His heart that He stands ready to receive us and give us true joy, yet we continually tell Him, “It’s ok, God, I have this other thing that I will give myself to.  I don’t need you.”  The key here, the key that we all seem to miss, is that being satisfied in Christ makes all earthly pleasures, the ones that He gives us, just that much more wonderful.

grace for frogs

One will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,Christ died for us.
R o m a n s 5 : 7 - 8
~~~
“I have heard it said, “God didn’t die for frogs. So he was responding to our value as humans.” This turns grace on its head. We are worse off than frogs. They have not sinned. They have not rebelled and treated God with the contempt of being inconsequential in their lives. God did not have to die for frogs. They aren’t bad enough. We are. Our debt is so great, only a divine sacrifice could pay it.”  -John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die
~~~
If we could only understand fully how depraved our human nature actually is, we would understand the immense gratitude we should have toward a loving Savior who suffered the pain we completely and wholly deserve.  In and of ourselves, there is no way we CAN or WILL ever choose Christ.  The Holy Spirit must bring us to Himself.  We are undeserving of anything at all, most notably pardon from sin.  Yet everyday, we choose to treat him like just part of our lives, not our entire lives, the giver OF our lives… 

phil3.8

“Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ.”

denying Him

Matthew 26:69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” 
Immediately a rooster crowed.
75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. 
—-
I’m reading the verses about the crucifixion.  This passage struck me tonight in both Matthew and Luke.  Peter denying Christ after being told he would and saying he wouldn’t.  When it came down to him having to choose the world’s acceptance or the acceptance of Christ, he chose the world.  I have often thought about how stupid that was, and about what I would do in the same situation.  Would I choose Christ in the face of death?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think I would.  But when you think about it, anytime I choose sin, I’m denying the power of Christ in my life and I’m denying my relationship and submission to Him.  I’m Peter every time I choose to think bad thoughts about someone.  I’m Peter every time I choose to gossip about someone.  I’m Peter every time I allow my anger to take over.  Every time, I deny Him.  And then the rooster crows, He looks at me, and my heart weeps because of my sinful betrayal.

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