Bought by the Blood

June 30, 2009

What A Great Salvation

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared. – Psalm 130:3-4

God has a holy standard that He has called all men to live up to.  The words that God wrote to Belshazar are true for all men, “you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; (Daniel 5:27)”  The balances is that of God’s righteousness and when ours is weighed against God’s, we are found wanting, there is no curve on God’s scale.    Our best attempts of having any righteousness of our own are filthy rags when seen in light of God’s holiness.  There is no one sin that is greater than another sin, all sin is equally heinous because it is against a holy God.  You and I are in the same boat as Adolf  Hitler and have no goodness in and of ourselves to make us attractive to God.

If you and I were to stand before God, we would be trembling in fear.  When sinful man comes in contact with a holy God there is an instant realization of our smallness and unworthiness.  The media today has presented a false portrayal of angels, but the Biblical picture of angels is one that is so beyond our imagination.  Angels, are not creatures with wings and harps that belong on hallmark cards, but in Scripture when an angel speaks to man the first thing an angel says is “fear not.”  If our immediate reaction is to fear angel’s which are messengers and servants of God’s, then it is terrifying to think what our reaction would be if we actually saw God.  When Job got a greater revelation into God’s character He was reduced to stating, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further. (Job 40:4-5)”  When we are placed next to God we realize we have no room to stand or speak, we are nothing, if God is the ocean, we are but one drop of rain.

Praise God that this is not our ultimate end, God has made a way for us to be forgiven.  This forgiveness is nothing light, but it came at the price of His Son.  For those who have faith in Christ, He has passed over their sins by the means of diverting God’s wrath away from us and onto Himself.  God’s justice has been satisfied by Christ taking the holy wrath that we deserve (Romans 3:25).  Instead of God seeing us and our sinful state that is deserving of punishment, He sees Christ righteousness.  He has washed our sins away by Christ blood and cleaned us from our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  My sin is no longer on my record, but instead has been transferred to Christ, so that God may remember my sinfulness no more, although my sin was abounding more and more, grace abounded exceedingly more (Isaiah 43:25 and Romans 5:20).  Since we have such a great salvation, God’s wrath does not need to be feared, but instead we can worship Him and serve Him in loving reverence.

June 29, 2009

How Salvation Puts Trials In Perspective

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy! – Psalm 130:1-2

The state of the Psalmist is not any different then yours or mine.  Any cry or plea that we made to God is made from the depths.  Due to the sinfulness of our fallen hearts, we can never reach up to God and any striving that we make will still leave us in the depths.  In our own strength and power we can do nothing to come close to God, therefore we need a mediator to bring us from the depths and into God’s presence.  If God were to come down to us and we didn’t have a mediator we would cry out like Isaiah, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! (Isaiah 9:6).”

Thankfully, God has provided a mediator.  It is the man, Christ Jesus, He lived a perfect and sinless life which we could never do.  His life was offered up as a ransom to purchase us from the power of sin and death.  By the blood of Jesus we have been brought into a covenant of grace that makes us the recipients of His steadfast love.  Through this covenant we have been redeemed from the slavery of our flesh and our captor the devil that once held us prisoner (1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 9:15, 12:24).  We now have the Holy Spirit as a down payment of our eternal inheritance, the benefits of this we already enjoy because we have been lifted up from the depths and are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3,13-14).

Even though we are seated with Christ above, emotionally the circumstances of life can still make us feel like we are in the depths.  At times like this we must be become the most talkative people that we know.  First, we have to talk to ourselves instead of listening ourselves.  We need to drown out the voice of our feelings and remind ourselves of the truth that if God would send His Son to die for us, how will He not do all other things (Romans 8:28).  We must also use our voices to speak to God and cry out to Him.  He is ready to listen and ready to answer our prayers.  He is rich in mercy and like all good fathers He is a protector of His children.

June 25, 2009

I pray Miya will have a heart like this

Filed under: Jerome,Matthew,Sacrifice — cubsfan1980 @ 8:25 am
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“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

“If my father were weeping on his knees before me, my mother hanging on my neck behind me, my brethren, sisters, and kinsfolk howling on every side, to retain me in a sinful course, I would fling my mother to the ground, run over my father, despise all my kindred, and tread them under my feet that I might run to Christ.” Jerome

June 24, 2009

God Suffers for your sins

Filed under: Gospel,parenting,Suffering,Tim Keller — cubsfan1980 @ 5:54 am
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Today’s parenting quote is taken from “Take Your Vitamin Z.” If I were to ever update the links on my blog this guy would definitely be included.  A great mix of quotes, funny videos, music recommendations and thoughts on parenting.  This is my first time using a Tim Keller quote on this blog and I really appreciate how he points out the connection between the gospel and parenting.  God suffers for our sins because we are His children, therefore as parents, we also suffer when we see our children in sin or feeling the effects of this sinful world.

“You need to get used to this reality. Once you become a parent, for the rest of your life, you’ll never be happier than your unhappiest child, because your heart is tied to your kids. That is a way of learning the gospel because before you have kids you don’t really know what it means that God suffers for your sins. He has to. He has to suffer for your sins, because when you have children you suffer for their sins. Your heart is tied up to them.”

– Tim Keller, quoted from this Q and A session at The Gospel Coalition

June 22, 2009

Spurgeon continues to get jiggy with Psalm 118

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man. – Psalm 118:8

“It is better in all ways, for first of all it is wiser: God is infinitely more able to help, and more likely to help than man, and therefore prudence suggests that we put our confidence in him above all others.  It is also morally better to do son, for it is the duty of the the creature to trust in the Creator.  God has a claim upon his creatures’ faith, he deserves to be trusted; and to place our reliance upon another rather than upon himself, is a direct insult to his faithfulness. It is better in the sense of safer, since we can never be sure of our ground if we rely upon mortal man, but we are always secure in the hand of our God. It is better in its effect upon ourselves: to trust in man tends to make us mean, crouching, dependent; but confidence in God elevates, produces a sacred quiet of spirit, and sanctifies the soul.  It is, moreover, much better to trust in God, as far as the result in concerned; for in many cases, the human object of our trust fail from want of ability, from want of generosity, from want of affection, or from want of memory; but the Lord, so far from failing, does for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think. This verse is written out of the experience of many who have first of all found the broken reeds of the creature break under them and have afterwords joyfully found the Lord to be a solid pillar sustaining all their weight. ” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Why Spurgeon is “Da Man”

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free. – Psalm 118:5

“Many of us can join with the Psalmist in the declarations of this verse: deep was our distress on account of sin, and we were shut up as in a prison under the law, but in answer to the prayer of faith we obtained the liberty of full justification wherewith Christ makes men free, we are free indeed.  It was the Lord who did it, and unto his name we ascribe all the glory; we had no merits, no strength, no wisdom, all we could do was to call upon him, and even that was his gift; but the mercy which is to eternity came to our rescue, we were brought out of bondage, and we were made to delight ourselves in the length and breadth of a boundless inheritance.  What a large place is that in which the great God has placed us!  All things are ours, all times are ours, all places are ours, for God himself is ours; we have earth to lodge in and heaven to dwell in, – what larger place can be imagined (Prosperity Gospel ain’t got nothin’ on this)?  We need all Israel, the whole house of Aaron, and all them that fear the Lord, to assist us in the expression of our gratitude; and when they have aided us to the utmost, and we ourselves have done our best, all will fall short of the praises that are due to our gracious Lord.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon (italics are mine)

Parenting & Prayer

Filed under: parenting,Prayer,Suffering — cubsfan1980 @ 9:05 am
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This is a quote from an excellent book by Paul Miller called, “A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World” on how we do our best parenting by prayer.   If you didn’t know, welcome to parenting week here at the blog.

When our kids were two, five, eight, twelve, fourteen and sixteen, I wrote this in my prayer journal:

March 19,1991. Amazing how when I don’t pray in the morning evil just floods into our home.  I absolutely must pray!  Oh, God, give me the grace to pray.

It took me seventeen years to realize I couldn’t parent on my own.  It was not a great spiritual insight, just a realistic observation.  If I didn’t pray deliberately and reflectively for members of my family by name every morning, they’d kill one another name.  I was incapable of getting inside their hearts.  I was desperate.  But even more, I couldn’t change my self-confident heart.  My prayer journal reflects both my inability to change my kids and my inability to change my self-confidence.  That’s why I need grace even to pray.

God answered my prayer.  As I began to pray regularly for the children, he began to work in their hearts.  For example, I began to pray for more humility in my eldest son, John.  (As my wife says “The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.”)  About six months later he came to me and said, “Dad, I’ve been thinking a lot about humility lately and my lack of it.”  It didn’t take me long to realize I did my best parenting by prayer.  I began to speak less to the kids and more to God.  It was actually quite relaxing.

If we can do life on our own, we will not take prayer seriously.  Our failure to pray will always feel like something else – a lack of discipline or too many obligations.  But when something is important to us, we make room for it.  Prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add-on.  That is why, as we’ll see  later, suffering is so important to the process of learning how to pray.  It is God’s gift to us to show us what life is really like.

June 21, 2009

Letter to my daughter by special guest Mark Driscoll

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Mark Driscoll’s book, “Death by love: Letters from the cross.”  One of my favorite chapters is “My Daddys is a pastor: Gideon’s Unlimited Limited Atonement.”  This is a chapter that Driscoll wrote to his youngest son about the cross and his need to accept Jesus as Savior.  This letter to my daughter is pretty much word for word from Driscoll except for where I inserted Miya’s name for the place of Gideon.  This section truly does echo my heart for Miya and probably rings true for so many Christian parents.

“Upon holding you for the first time, I thanked Jesus for all the benefits and blessing that have come in your life and mine through his death and resurrection.  I also prayed, as I have every day since, that you would place your faith in Jesus and also benefit from his saving work on the cross, which he suffered in your place for your sins.  I pray you will live in the power of his resurrection with the new heart and all the newness of life that it brings.  I pray that you would be not only my daughter but also God the Father’s daughter with whom I can pray, read scripture, and serve Jesus in joy.  For this to happen, you must live as a Christian woman under the lordship of Jesus, because the line to heaven is single file.

Your mother and I are walking the path of faith into eternal life with Jesus and want nothing more than to see each of our children with us walking personally with Jesus.  Therefore, as your pastor-dad, I am imploring you not to take for granted the person and work of Jesus, merely enjoying his general benefits while neglecting his saving benefits, or borrowing the faith of your Christian family without having your own.  I cannot mediate between you and God, but Jesus can.  He can and will forgive your sin and give you a new heart and a new nature with new appetites for holiness, and he will not only bless you in this life but also in the life to come…

In some ways, you were born into a family and a nation that is akin to the Old Testament nation of Israel.  There, the most holy day of the year was the day of atonement, which foreshadowed the death of Jesus on the cross.  On that day, the entire nation was called to repent of sin and trust in God for salvation from sin and its effects.  In many ways, everyone who was a member of that nation was blessed by living among a people who worshiped God.  Yet, in addition to that there was an expectation that each individual would also confess his own sins and have his own personal faith in God.  In this way the Day of Atonement was a blessing to all in a general way, and a blessing to those who repented of sin and trusted in God in a particular way.

As a member of our family and church and nation, you have been born into a world with many blessings that are the consequence of Christ and Christianity, just like the Old Testament Israelites.  But those blessings will be in vain if you are merely part of a Christian family and church without yourself being a Christian who has received Jesus’ death as the source of your life.

Miya, you know that your daddy love you with all of his heart.  You need to know that Jesus loves you even more, and he showed it on the cross.  You need to live in light of that defining, transforming, illumianting and empowering truth.”

June 19, 2009

Prayer To Walk in the Ancient Paths

Filed under: Jeremiah,obedience,Psalms,Sanctification — cubsfan1980 @ 4:11 pm
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Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ – Jeremiah 6:16

Lord God, Heavenly Father
Who sent your Son to die for me
So that by His blood I can be redeemed
And no longer enslaved by my sinful flesh,
Please pour out your Holy Spirit on my life
So that I may experience more of your grace and mercy
To mortify my sin and walk in a way that pleases you.
Guide me in the old paths so that I may be directed to obedience,
I cannot do this without your aid, I am weak and helpless on my own.
Earnestly I seek your through your Word, so that I may see more of Jesus,
This is the only way to be brought to the road which is the good way
Where my soul may find rest and fulfillment.
You refresh me and revive me over and over again if I seek you,
Faithful is your character and your promise to do this.
Although the journey of obedience is hard my lot is one of blessing
And so I give my life to you to glorify you
Because I know on that day I will be glorified
And the trials and work of walking in the old path will be all worth it.

June 18, 2009

Thank your pastor

Filed under: Jeremiah,John Calvin,Pastors,Word of God — cubsfan1980 @ 10:17 am
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“‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. – Jeremiah 3:15

There are three great gifts that God has given to His church.  The first and obvious one is the cross, without which, there is no church.  The second and third are closely related, Godly men who are led by the Holy Spirit to to shepherd the flock.  The Holy Spirit is essential to every pastor as it brings them to close to God’s heart.  John Calvin says on this verse, “We learn from this that the church cannot continue without having faithful pastors to show the way of salvation.”  Let us never take for granted the Godly men that God has given to care for His people and guide them into greater spiritual maturity.

There are two attributes of a pastor that God mentions in this verse that are key for shepherds.  First, the shepherd must have a heart for others, he can’t be self serving, but must give of himself to feed his flock.  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, so to a pastor must give his life away to serve his people by feeding them through practical acts and preaching the word.  The second characteristic of a pastor is to seek to grow in his knowledge and understanding of God’s word to pass onto others.  The church cannot be the blind leading the blind.  It is clear from the verse that a pastor is supposed to be one with wisdom.  This isn’t just head knowledge, but also works itself out in his lifestyle that is informed by God’s Word.

The godly men that God has placed in the church need to know the appreciation of those that are under them.  Charles Spurgeon once said, the greatest kindndess any man can do is to pray for me.  The same is true for your pastor, be vigilant to pray for him.  Your pastor has a very serious role of taking care of your spiritual life, so seek to take care of his wife and kids.  Volunteering to babysit can mean a ton to a pastor with young kids.  Speaking of your spiritual life, take your spiritual growth seriously, nothing encourages a pastor more than seeing fruit in his peple.  Lastly, encourage him when he does a good message, does a great job of leading or counseling.  Encourage him when he doesn’t do these things well and let him know things that you observed.  It is very important that your pastor knows your thankfulness for him.  For a more exhaustive list on how to show care for your pastor, please visit the website of Jollyblogger who gives an excellent treatment of this topic.

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