God

John PiperQuotes from John Piper:

“All that looks like reality to us is dependent on God. There is creation and Creator, nothing more. And creation gets all its meaning and purpose from God.”

“If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don’t get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism, but deception.”

“Christians believe in a sovereign God who never says “Oops”. We believe that all our days … are divine strokes on the canvas of our lives by the Master Artist who certified his skill, his power, and his love in the Masterpiece of Calvary. If you doubt His skill in painting your life – look at Calvary”

A Covenant New Year

2014He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, (Psalm 105:8 ESV)

As we approach the year 2014, many of us wonder what this year will bring. We all have concerns for our jobs, families, health, and security. But, as Christians, how should we manage all these sources of worry?

Often, the primary foundation of our anxiety is spiritual. We have little confidence in our standing and relationship with God. Therefore, we lose hope. Christians often forget or misunderstand the fact that we have a covenant with God.

Let us take a moment to consider our covenant making God. From the beginning, it was God’s plan to create for Himself a people. We see this clearly in God’s relationship with Abraham. God goes to Abraham and establishes a relationship with him; He establishes a covenant.

A covenant is not just a mutual agreement or contract. It is a binding agreement between two parties that can never be broken on pain of death. God’s covenant promise was to redeem His people and to be their shield and great reward.

The Holy Child, whose birth we celebrated last week, brought the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise. God came to redeem His people and fulfill His covenant with Abraham. Therefore our standing with God is established forever through Jesus Christ.

Even in our rebellion and sinfulness, God pursues man. God is not content to simply exist in some corner of the kingdom of heaven; He has not wound the world up like a clock and then walked away. Our God is intensely personal. Paul writes to Timothy, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV)

God’s covenant with Abraham was singularly one-sided. During the time of Abraham, the practice of making a covenant was to take a few animals and cut them in half from head to tail. The halves were then positioned to form a path between them. The two people making the covenant would walk the path between the severed pieces; saying in effect, “If I break this covenant, may my flesh be ripped apart like these animals.”

When God made covenant with Abraham, however, only God walked the path between the split animals. The Bible tells us, “When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.” (Genesis 15:17 ESV) Abraham did not walk between the pieces because Abraham was not capable of keeping the terms of the covenant. God made a unilateral covenant. Even if Abraham and his descendants could not keep their side of the covenant, God would keep His.

Christian, this is God’s eternal covenant with you. God is working out His purpose for each of us. Your life has meaning and God rules over it. The Scriptures teach us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV)

God will make good His promises and fulfill His covenant with us. We should meditate on this throughout the coming year. We serve a God who saved Abraham’s son and, yet, did not save His own Son from the sacrifice of the cross. God has given us an incredible gift and an amazing future through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Samuel at Gilgal

Preaching to the Heart

Sinclair B. FergusonSinclair B. Ferguson:

Preaching to the heart addresses the understanding first, in order to instruct it; but in doing so it also reaches through the mind to inform, rebuke, and cleanse the conscience. It then touches the will in order to reform and transform life and equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12).

In the last analysis, this is what preaching to the heart is intended to produce: inner prostration of the hearts of our listeners through a consciousness of the presence and the glory of God. This distinguishes authentic biblical, expository preaching from any cheap substitute for it; it marks the difference between preaching about the Word of God and preaching the Word of God. (Feed My Sheep, Don Kistler, Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, 2002)

Peace and Rest

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

My people shall dwell in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32:18)

Peace and rest belong not to the unregenerate, they are the peculiar possession of the Lord’s people, and of them only. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon Him. When man was unfallen, his God gave him the flowery bowers of Eden as his quiet resting places; alas! how soon sin blighted the fair abode of innocence. In the day of universal wrath when the flood swept away a guilty race, the chosen family were quietly secured in the resting-place of the ark, which floated them from the old condemned world into the new earth of the rainbow and the covenant, herein typifying Jesus, the ark of our salvation. Israel rested safely beneath the blood-besprinkled habitations of Egypt when the destroying angel smote the first-born; and in the wilderness the shadow of the pillar of cloud, and the flowing rock, gave the weary pilgrims sweet repose. At this hour we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that His words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of His word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of His grace, which is a haven of delight. More highly favoured are we than David in Adullam, or Jonah beneath his gourd, for none can invade or destroy our shelter. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of His people, and when we draw near to Him in the breaking of the bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to Him to be the return of peace to our spirits.

“I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace, sure as Jehovah‘s name,
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne, for evermore the same:
The clouds may go and come, and storms may sweep my sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not, the cross is ever nigh.”

Shame

ShameEdward T. Welch:

God extends his compassion and his mighty, rescuing arm to take away shame. Jesus both experienced shame and took our shame on himself, so shame no longer defines us. In fact, by grace through faith, it is no longer part of us. Then, in an act that seems inconceivable, God goes a step further: he marries and exalts those who once were shamed. (Isa. 54:4-5) (When People are Big and God is Small)

A Story without End

J. C. RyleBishop J. C. Ryle:

I have heard of a book entitled “The Story without an End.” I know no story deserving that title so well as the everlasting Gospel: this is indeed and in truth the story without an end. There is an infinite “fullness” in Christ; there are in Him “unsearchable riches;” there is in Him a “love which passeth knowledge;” He is an “unspeakable gift.” (Coloss. i. 19; Ephes. iii. 8; iii. 19; 2 Cor. ix. 15.) There is no end to all the riches that are treasured up in Him,–in His person, in His work, in His offices, in His words, in His deeds, in His life, in His death, in His resurrection. . . .

True Christians come unto God. They are not as many, who turn their backs upon Him; who “go into a far country,” like the prodigal son; “who go out,” like Cain, “from the presence of the Lord”; who are “alienated, strangers and enemies in their mind by wicked works.” (Coloss. i. 21.) They are reconciled to God and friends of God. They are not as many, who dislike everything that belongs to God,–His Word, His day, His ordinances, His people, His house. They love all that belongs to their Master. The very footprints of His steps are dear unto them. His name is as ointment poured forth.–They are not as many, who are content with coming to church, or with coming to chapel, or with coming to the Lord’s Table. They go further than that. They “come unto God,” and in communion with God they live.

But, more than this, true Christians come unto God in a certain peculiar way. They come unto God by Christ; pleading no other plea, mentioning no other name, trusting in no other righteousness, resting on no other foundation than this,–that Jesus hath lived, Jesus hath died, Jesus hath risen again for their souls. (“Able to Save”)

A Celebration of Christ

Christian+Christmas

George Whitefield:

 “And she shall bring forth a Son, and then shalt call his Name Jesus: For he shall save his People from their Sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

The celebration of the birth of Christ hath been esteemed a duty by most who profess Christianity. When we consider the condescension and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, in submitting to be born of a virgin, a poor sinful creature; and especially as he knew how he was to be treated in this world; that he was to be despised, scoffed at, and at last to die a painful, shameful, and ignominious death; that he should be treated as though he was the off-scouring of all mankind; used, not like the son of man, and, therefore, not at all like the Son of God; the consideration of these things should make us to admire the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was so willing to offer himself as a ransom for the sins of the people, that when the fullness of time was come, Christ came, made of a woman, made under the law: he came according to the eternal counsel of the Father; he came, not in glory or in splendor, not like him who brought all salvation with him: no, he was born in a stable, and laid in a manger; oxen were his companions. … What love is this, what great and wonderful love was here, that the Son of God should come into our world in so mean a condition, to deliver us from the sin and misery in which we were involved by our fall in our first parents!

Therefore, if we do but consider into what state, and at how great a distance from God we are fallen; how vile our natures were; what a depravity, and how incapable to restore that image of God to our souls, which we lost in our first parents: when I consider these things, my brethren, and that the Lord Jesus Christ came to restore us to that favor with God which we had lost, and that Christ not only came down with an intent to do it, but actually accomplished all that was in his heart towards us; that he raised and brought us into favor with God, that we might find kindness and mercy in his sight; surely this calls for some return of thanks on our part to our dear Redeemer, for this love and kindness to our souls. … [L]et us celebrate and keep this festival of our church, with joy in our hearts: let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this Savior’s love never be forgotten! But may we sing forth all his love and glory as long as life shall last here, and through an endless eternity in the world above! May we chant forth the wonders of redeeming love, and the riches of free grace, amidst angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, without intermission, for ever and ever! And as, my brethren, the time for keeping this festival is approaching, let us consider our duty in the true observation thereof, of the right way for the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls, to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; an event which ought to be had in eternal remembrance. (“The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of all Christians; or the True Way of Keeping Christmas”)

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