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Motivational Mercy

June 6, 2010

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ROMANS 12:1-2

What a calling we receive here in the beginning of Romans 12. Let’s look at it backwards.

First we have a promise that there IS something that is good, acceptable and perfect, which is what we all strive for as believers in Christ, and that is the ability to discern what is the will of God. How do we know His will? We often seek God’s will in life’s big decisions, but as Paul Tripp says, if God doesn’t rule your  mundane, then He doesn’t rule you. We live in the mundane, not the life-altering moments we think of associating with seeking God’s will. A desire to know and do His will in every facet of our life should trickle from those big decisions all the way down to the hundreds of minuscule, daily, seemingly trivial activities and thoughts we fill our lives with. These are the things that constitute our being. These are where battles of grand significance are won and lost. This is where we should be striving to know God’s will.

So how do we know God’s will? These verses promise us its by the renewal of our mind through the Scriptures. Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

If we read Scripture without thinking about God, it is of no value to us. Its valuable because of who wrote it, and its this dependence upon, saturation of, and meditation on God’s character, attributes, precepts and commandments that refreshes our soul and separates us from the world.  This is how we prohibit world conformity. This is how we battle fleshly desires. The manifestation of God’s glory through His son Christ, and the great plan of redemption set in motion from before time and performed on the cross, is the focal point of all Scripture. This alone offers freedom from sin and hope in righteousness. Christ-o-centric reading and obedient living is the only way to ultimate, lasting transformation.

Worship constitutes a living sacrifice. We see here that in order for your life to be acceptable to God, a LIVING sacrifice, striving for holiness, is required. Because our sacrifice must be living, it must include the totality of our being – all our wants, desires, toilings and strivings are to be included in this submission to God and His word. Our life’s greatest ambition should be conformity to Christ, which is precluded by separation from sin and worldliness. This is sanctification. Herein lies our ultimate good and greatest joy.

And finally, the precursor to all this: mercy. God’s mercy. Its only because of this, and through this communicable attribute of our God, that we can move on to living sacrificially, striving for holiness, worshiping, conforming, being transformed, discerning what God’s will is and ultimately knowing what is good, acceptable, and perfect. And it is only because of the righteous life and the atoning death of Christ that we are made able to partake of this life-giving mercy. If we attempt the Christian walk, this hungering for righteousness and goodness, apart from a right view of God’s mercy on our wicked hearts every second of every day, then we will soon wander either down the path of despair or the path of self-righteousness. Only in the cross of Christ can we stand between those two chasms in perfect peace.

By the mercies of God, we can do these things which we are called to. Apart from a right view of man lost in sin and saved by grace through faith in the redemptive plan of the Son of God, living is futile. But inside this grace, life abounds. Mercy reigns, and so we strain forward, full of joy.

Is Your Love For God a Reality?

March 29, 2010

Theology Matters

March 19, 2010

The Great Business of Life is Settled

March 18, 2010

The rest that Christ gives is an inward and spiritual thing. It is rest of heart, rest of conscience, rest of mind, rest of affection, rest of will. It is rest, from a comfortable sense of sins being all forgiven and guilt all put away. It is rest, from a solid hope of good things to come, laid up beyond the reach of disease, death and the grave. It is rest, from the well-grounded feeling, that the great business of life is settled, its great end provided for, that in time all is well done, and in eternity heaven will be our home. – JC RYLE

The clamor of man in his quest for meaning echos throughout the world with each new day’s rising sun. Consumed with a longing for purpose and a never-relenting pursuit of riches, success, knowledge and admiration, he has become anesthetized to the unrest inside him. A hunger for ultimate joy eats away at his insides, while he fills his stomach full of the chaff of worldly pleasures.

Where is the peace that all this seeking and pursuing looks for? Where is a happiness that is greater than this fleeting physical sensation? Man searches out the wide plains of materialism and the dark corners of his reason for any trace of solidity in purpose. Knowledge, fame, power and money have unmercifully sent every owner to the grave empty and unfulfilled. Yet still we chase them.

Man is created with a longing and desire that nothing on this earth can satisfy and quench. You and I were created to love and live for the God who made us in his likeness, who calls us to righteousness so that we may be trophies of grace, light in darkness, and salt to the decay of our society. We are called to reflect his glory as vessels of mercy. Everything else will fail to bring peace and eternal joy. But there is hope, and it is found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ, through whom we have redemption, forgiveness of sins, and justification in the court of God’s infinite justice.

The great business of life has been settled. Every one of us is seeking happiness in something temporal, something that will rust or weaken or fade, and when it does we will feel our finitude all over again and be left wanting, thirsty, hungry for meaning. Seek comfort in the gospel of Christ, and find rest for your weary souls.

The Explicit Gospel

March 3, 2010

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
EPH. 3:16-19

It seems easy to stray from the gospel. No matter how long you’ve been a believer, we tend to fall into living like we are ready to move on from the cross and advance to what’s next, even if we aren’t mentally assenting to that thought. We tend to assume that other people around us understand the intricacies gospel. But there is nothing that can be more detrimental to Christian living and thinking than forgetting, neglecting, or skipping over the simple, powerful core message of God > Man > Christ > Redemption.

Mat Chandler does an awesome job in this video clip of reminding us to live every day of our lives on the fundamental foundation of the gospel. If you have tasted and known the reality of Christ’s transforming power on sinful hearts, then I trust you will be blessed by this reminder to go back to the cross –and stay there.

May we never be satisfied with our understanding of the gospel message, and unremittingly strive for greater and greater depths of insight and appreciation, all for the ultimate purpose of worship, praise, and reflection of the story of God’s infinite glory.

The War Within

February 25, 2010

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Here we are, justified by faith in the righteousness and redemption of Christ, regenerated by His Holy Spirit, and being sanctified in all facets of life, and yet we find our stomachs still filled with the poison of sin. We’re jammed between the truth of freedom from sin, and this daily warfare raging on behind our foreheads at all hours of the day. Why is sin still so tempting? Why, like Paul, are we unable to do what we know is right and desire to do? Why does this battle  inside us refuse to be quieted or subdued?

Paul Washer is helpful here. He reminds us that man has two problems:
1. The power of sin
2. The condemnation of sin.

Christ’s death on the cross relieves us of the condemnation of sin, as he absorbed and drank down the wrath of a Holy God that I deserved. And the holy spirit now within me frees me from the power of sin as well. So what remains? The presence of sin and the influence of sin. This is the struggle of fallen man living in a fallen, broken world. We have been redeemed, but have not yet been called home.

We have within us planted the seeds of holiness, so that our once-dead minds now breathe life and seek and taste and feel what is pure, and we chase it because it is true and noble and arouses within us things we never knew existed. Our desires have been ignited, but our instruments of righteousness still need oil and practice to shake off the rust and dirt of the slumber of death from which we have been awoken. Sin crouches in the bushes of our daily paths, lurking around the corners of our decisions. We have been armed for battle, but a fight to the death it will certainly be.

We persevere in this battle by looking to the cross, and overcome only by the power of Christ within us. Christ didn’t just die for us, conquering death. He lived for us, conquering sin. By faith in Him, we partake of the righteousness that we are unable to attain on our own. Begin with obedience. Proceed upon the Savior’s fortitude.

So take heart, fellow men and women of faith. Victory will be had, and Christ will overcome. This makes all the difference in how we live today, and how vigorously we wage war against the toxicity of the flesh that envelopes us. We taste life, while death grasps for its last breaths inside us.

Lord, save us from ourselves.

Smiting Morality With Gospel Joy

February 22, 2010