Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why is sin so strong?

James 4:1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

At snow retreat our theme was "Repentance, seeing sin for what it really is". So what causes us to keeping returning to our sin? What makes repentance so hard? Sean Higgins pointed out that we normally think of repentance as turning away from sin, but what is it that we turn toward? He pointed out that if we don't see sin as being the thing that keeps us from real joy, what is going to keep us from going back to our sin?

I think this is what James is pointing out here in this passage. If our desires and passions are for Christ and we realize that our sin is just junk that is keeping us from real and true joy, then holy living will be much easier. Often we are, wrongly, convinced that in our sin is where the true joy is. When we see sin as the evil that keeps us from true Joy, joy in Christ, it is then that He will start to change our desires and loves to be the sweetness of who He is.

I want to encourage you to think of repentance as turning toward true joy, rather than away from sin; from the negative thought toward the positive. You wouldn't eat pig slop if there was a feast right next to you, so eat the feast and don't snack on the slop.

Lord, may we taste Your sweetness and desire You over everything else this world has to offer. Give us a taste for You and Your Word. Give us other worldly loves. Give us eyes to see sin for what it is; our thief of joy. Ps. 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Who can Live with God?

Ps. 15:1O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

2He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;

In this Psalm God gives us the requirements necessary to dwell with Him. Those who follow these requirements will enjoy His presence forever, but those who don't will not. This should encourage us to watch our walk.

This first requirement is that our walk is to be blameless, or upright. Wow, what a standard. Blameless- no one can point a finger at me in blame. Upright- not to one side or the other, but perfectly balanced, as to not be shaken. Spurgeon states, "Walking is far more important than talking". We can say lots of things, but our walk is the proof of our love.

Secondly, He does what is right.
"His faith shows itself by good works, and therefore is no dead faith. God's house is a hive for workers, not a nest for drones. Those who rejoice that everything is done for them by another, even the Lord Jesus, and therefore hate legality, are the best doers in the world upon gospel principles. If we are not positively serving the Lord, and doing his holy will to the best of our power, we may seriously debate our interest in divine things, for trees which bear no fruit must be hewn down and cast into the fire." Spurgeon.

No dead faith, a hive for workers, positively serving the Lord, are all things we should be striving to do and be. If those things are not evident in our lives we should be considering if we are even interested in divine things and if we are not interested in divine things then are we bearing fruit? If we aren't bearing fruit then we will be a branch cut off and thrown into the fire.

Finally, form verse 2, Speaks the Truth from his heart.
"Saints not only desire to love and speak truth with their lips, but they seek to be true within; they will not lie even in the closet of their hearts, for God is there to listen; they scorn double meanings, evasions, equivocations, white lies, flatteries, and deceptions. Our heart must be the sanctuary and refuge of truth, should it be banished from all the world beside, and hunted from among men; at all risk we must entertain the angel of truth, for truth is God's daughter. We must be careful that the heart is really fixed and settled in principle, for tenderness of conscience toward truthfulness, like the bloom on a peach, needs gentle handling, and once lost it were hard to regain it. Jesus was the mirror of sincerity and holiness. Oh, to be more and more fashioned after his similitude!" Spurgeon

Is truth the foundation of my life? Do I love truth even when I am alone? Is my heart a sanctuary of truth? Do I guard the truth with vigor? Oh to be like our Savior, as lovers of truth.

When I consider the requirements to be with Jesus, I am sobered. In my self there is no way I can be blameless, doing right and seeking the truth, but God can do these things in me, if I allow Him to.

"Oh for that day when we'll sing with the angels,
Hallelujah Oh Ancient of Days,
when we'll have our Messiah forever,
offering glory and honor and praise"

Friday, January 30, 2009

Our NON- Trendy God

Job 23:10But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
11My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
12I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
13But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
14For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.

How is it that God can be unchangeable- never new- and yet He is never old. If He is always new yet never changing, in our minds that doesn't work. When we get something new, it doesn't take very long and it is obsolete, or at least out of style. Yet God is the greatest of all, is the latest and greatest, yet the unchanging Creator and Sustainer of all things.

How awesome it is to know that we can have the Best today and forever because He calls some men unto Himself, to delight in Him and claim Him as our greatest joy, never to diminish, never to grow dim or stale, never to be trumped by what comes along in the future. He is the Highest and there is none who compare to Him. And He is ours if we receive Him. We get Him for all of eternity, but we must repent and delight in Him as our greatest joy and treasure. Only He can give us the desire to take hold of Him, and make Him our Sweet Love. He loves to draw men to Himself, but we must be willing to submit our wills to His, to be His humble servants.

How hard really is it to "work" for the greatest Lord in the universe? People are thrilled to do almost anything, if they have a great boss. How much greater is it to line up under someone who knows exactly what we need, knows our desires and passions and will complete the work He has started in us?

Praise the Lord, He never changes, He's never any other way, and He'll be the same tomorrow as he was and is today.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Magnum Opus

Phil. 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Grace extended has fanned the fire in my heart to bring me closer to my first love. But why would Christ extend His grace to me and not another? Is it something in me that He has seen for Him to lavish His grace on me? By no means. He would only choose me that in the end He would be glorified in the work He has done in me, that others would see and realize that all my good is from and because of Him.

Augustine, after writing some 5 million words over the course of his converted life, would look back toward the end and say that his magnum opus would be "The Confessions".Why would it be that a recounting of his testimony would be his greatest work? Thousands upon 10's of thousands of words on paper, written on a scroll with a pen that had to be dipped, and yet his strongest argument is his testimony.

So what does that mean for us today? God can show off His power in a way that words may never tell, by others seeing the change He has brought about in our lives. Had Augustine not lived out his "confessions" then the impact would have been diminished, even extinguished, by his lack of repentance. It is interesting that he had to defend his "confessions" late into his life, but it would seem very difficult to argue with, "I was dead, a vile sinner, destined for hell and by no good of my own Christ lavished his grace on me and I am a new man, with new loves and a lust for the things of Heaven and God".

Don't we repentant sinners all have the same magnum opus? What greater work could we pen than to see for the first time who we were before Christ and who He has changed us to be? Do we need to study and pour over His word? Sure, but let us not forget the starting place of who, and what, we were- not to dwell on that only- but to remind ourselves that there is no good in us and yet Christ gave His life to win us. What are you going to do with that?

The joy of repentance, even the freedom of knowing that Christ has done this work entirely on our behalf, brings about love overflowing onto others as they see our joy.

How's your spiritual temperature?
How's your joy meter?

Lord, please continue to give me a desire for your Word and to seek your face. May I never again be satisfied with the things that are not You. Give me a love for the sweetness of your presence, your Word and Your people. On my own, I desire only evil and self, but You can change my loves. May You grant me to be a light for Your glory, not my own and may I be quick in giving you singular praise for the transformation of my heart, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Break my heart where it needs to be broken and encourage my heart in my despair. You are The Great Physician and you know my infirmities, you know the cure and you know the dosage to bring about healing. Continue your healing work by whatever means necessary to bring me to Yourself. Thank You in advance for Your work in all of our lives.

Go be a "Bright Light - Joy Pants" for the world to see.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rich in Good Deeds

1 Tim. 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

It is so easy for wealthy people to set their hopes on riches, but Paul tells Timothy that those riches are very uncertain. How true that is, as is evidenced by what is happening all around the world today. Many who were very rich yesterday have no money, or position, at all today.

Paul’s instruction is not to be haughty or puffed up, but instead to realize that all good things come from God, who richly provides us we everything we have, for our enjoyment; not our hoarding.

Paul further instructs the rich to do good, be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.
To “do good” would imply that they are thinking of more than just themselves.
“Rich in good works” extends that thought into the actual works, or actions, they are performing. Again, this requires for thinking of others, rather than just ourselves.
“Be generous and ready to share”, again requires thinking of the needs of others, not just our own needs.
If we cling to Christ with all we have, but then loosely hang onto what He has so generously given us, since it is His anyway, we are then treasuring up for ourselves a good foundation for the future, rather than gathering up things for this lifetime, that will soon pass away.

The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes Away, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

King for a Day

1 Tim. 6:6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

This is such a poignant truth, especially right now. So many have put all their hope and joy in riches and many have lost much, if not all, of their life's meaning and purpose recently.

If our love is money and the things we can get with it, then we are in a sorry state. It is so much better to go through this life poor and come to the end with no earthly possessions, but gain Christ, than it is to have all the treasures that this life can offer and end w/o Christ.

Would you rather;
1. Work really hard, endure crazy torture and be ridiculed by others for a day, but then when that day is over you get to live in the palace with the King,
2. Be king for a day, with everything you desire, with everyone bowing down to your "greatness", but when that day is over you are tortured for the rest of your life?

The answer is too obvious to even ask the question, but our lives are as grass, or a breath, yet many live their lives like it is forever, and put forever off like it will never come.

"How brief, how false, how unreasonable and shameful all these pleasures are! Yet in their drunken blindness men do not understand this, but like brute beasts incur death of soul for the miserly enjoyment of a corruptible life." Thomas a Kempis

If God has illumined your heart to see this truth, praise Him for it and pray that He would illumine other's hearts around you. If He has not, pray that He would.

Is wobbly faith better than no faith at all?

Matt. 14:28 And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."

I posted the other day about my irritation concerning my own wobbly faith, and I am still pondering that issue.

I am so encouraged by this passage and God's kind heart in including this for us. I, like Peter, have times when my faith is really strong, strong enough to jump right out of the boat in crazy seas and run to Christ. But also like Peter, as soon as I am out of the boat I start to look at the waves around me and listen to the wind howling in my ears and I realize I am in too deep for me and forget that I was in too deep for me when I first got out of the boat. It's not my strength that is keeping me up for even 1 step, but His.

My encouragement comes from knowing the rest of Peter's story. God obviously used Peter in a mighty way in the remainder of his life. He was not without failing moments along the way, but he was faithful over the long haul and God honored him for it. I want to be faithful in order that He/God would be glorified in my life as a result of others seeing and knowing that it is His power that works in me to bring about the change.

So, little, wobbly faith, faith that is strong one second and falters the next, can still be used by God and I am thankful that He chooses to use those moments to shape our spiritual lives.

Look how far God takes Peter's little, wobbly faith in his lifetime.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's the Point?

Heb. 10:35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
For, "Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him."
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

If at the end of our lives our reward is Heaven, and Him, and all that this life has to offer is striving after the wind, with no real results, then why not just bring us Home right now, since He rejoices with the death of one of His children?

I often think of what Paul must have gone through, in prison, stocks, ship wrecks, beatings and hunger, yet he still pressed on to finish the race to attain the prize. Did he beg God at times to take him Home and end the heartache of watching people rebel against God? God obviously used him in a mighty way to spread His Word to the lost.

Truly, as Micah said, it is about the people around us, especially right now. I am often shamefully reminded that I don't take EVERY opportunity to give Him praise for what He is doing, but He is faithful to give me more opportunities.

We are to be salt and light to those around us, and there are many who are lost and alone, without hope. We must continue to spread His light to the world. Don't look at the vanity of life, but the privilege that we have to share Christ with a dieing world. Go make disciples.

Ps. 18 meditation

Ps. 18:1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

You are the only true source of strength, yet the best source, You are a sure footing for my feet, a Shelter in time of storm, and The Hero that comes to my rescue.
You are my defense against the arrows of the evil one, the only Savior, and place I am most secure.
When I call on You Lord, the One who is most worthy of my praise, you save me from those who would want to do me harm.
When I am low I cry out to You, I beg You for mercy when I am in the corner with no way out. When looking up to You is my only way out, that is the best place for me to be.
And when I do call on You Lord, You hear my cry for help. How amazing it is to know that my prayers reach the ears of the Almighty.

20The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

What a scary thing it is for You to deal with me according to my own righteousness. I have no righteousness of my own and my hands; are my hands really clean? Let my hands be clean in Your sight oh Lord, that when You deal with me I would find favor in your sight.
Of my own, I have no desire to walk according to Your way, but you give me the desire. Keep me close to Your way that I may grow to love it above everything this world has to offer.
Of my own, I have not been blameless and I have been guilty of too much to recount, but in You I am blameless before the Father. So reward me according to Your righteousness imputed to me and Your cleanness that has washed me in Your blood, rather than what I truly deserve.

25With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28For it is you who light my lamp;
the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
29For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

May You make me merciful so that You in turn will show me mercy.
May I be blameless in Your eyes as You show me what it looks like to be blameless.
Purity does not come natural to me, so may you give me a glimpse into the purity that only can be found in You, and then change me.
Keep me from being a crooked man, so I will never need to see Your dreadful power.
You have brought me low to honor Yourself and may I never think again that I have done anything good on my own, or because of my own strength and wisdom.
You give light to my heart and illuminate the darkness of this world around me with the Light of You.
You multiply my strength and in You I have energy to do things I don't have to do in my own power.
You God-alone-are perfect. Your Word is proven right and true over and over again and in You I have a place to take refuge from the storm.

Thank you Lord for all that You are. Thank you for being perfect in every attribute. Thank you that you do not deal with me according to my own righteousness, but that You give me Christ's righteousness; oh how terrifying it would be for me if you did deal with me as I deserve. Thanks for the trials that You give to me, as You discipline the ones You love and allow things in my life to help me to see my dependence on You more. Though this is difficult, in the trial, You give strength for the moment, like You gave manna for each day and none could be reserved. You are my only Good, my only Hope, my only Strength and The Only Prize worth running for. Show me enough of Your goodness each minute to keep me pressing on for the Prize , but not so much that I think I can make it on my own. I quickly forget where my strength comes from, and I desire to be drawing my strength and wisdom only from You.
You are Good to me, You have given me much more than I deserve, You have made level paths for me and I have taken those smooth roads for granted. Thank you for the bumps that I am currently going over that have caused me to look only to You.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Electronic Mutual Edification

What started out as a way to let people know what was going on in Grant's life, through his event, has turned into somewhat of a public journal for me.

I don't post in order to get sympathy, or to have people think that I want to be a writer, as I really didn't ever like writing in school, or English for that matter- Sorry Leila. I am just hopeful that some would find encouragement in my struggles and victories along the way.

We are to encourage each other, to speak to one another with songs, hymns and spiritual songs and make melody in our hearts, Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16. So more than anything I hope that God would see fit to bolster other's faith in, and love for, Himself through my thinking "out loud".

Just so you all know, I do think many are at least as encouraged, if not more so, by other's comments, as they are from my original post. Please feel free, and I encourage you, to comment back.

This is electronic mutual edification:)

Glory Be To Our Great God

Eternal God, unchanging
Mysterious and unknown
Your boundless love unfailing
In grace and mercy shown
Bright seraphim in ceaseless flight
Around your glorious throne
Their voices raised both day and night
In praise to you alone

Glory be to our great God
Glory be to our great God!

Lord, we are weak and frail,
Helpless in the storm
Surround us with your angels
Hold us in your arms
Our cold and ruthless enemy
His pleasure is our harm
Rise up, oh Lord, and he will flee
Before our Sovereign God

Glory be to our great God!
Glory be to our great God!

Let every creature in the sea
And every flying bird
Let all the mountains, all the fields
And valleys of the earth
Let all the moons and all the stars
Throughout the universe
Sing praises to the Living God
Who rules them by His word

Glory be to our great God
Glory be to our great God!
Fernando Ortega

What great lyrics for drawing our hearts to worship The Great God we serve.
Some things that have been especially meaningful to me of late are;

All these words for sure are true, but to remember that He is unchanging from eternity past to eternity future, in our ever changing world, is such a source of comfort.

As I meditate on His boundless, unfailing love I am struck by the fact that it is for me and for you that He gives freely of that love. He lavishes His love on us, who are sinners and once His enemies.

I am truly starting, for the first time in my life, to understand that I really am weak. Men, I think especially, are prone to thinking that we have to always be strong and always have the answer, when in fact we are always frail and if God chose to crush us, even with just 1 single germ, He could do that and we would have no recourse but to submit to His power.

Of course "Helpless in the storm" rings all to clearly for me right now, but how thankful I am to Him that He does surround us with His angels and He does hold us in His arms. What a comfort to know, and even genuinely feel, the nearness of God as we are in trials that are so far greater than we can handle ourselves; He is the rock that we can cling to, the arms that hold us up, the eyes we can look into for our security.

Ashamedly, we often take all these things for granted and we are not the first and loudest to praise to Him. All the fields, forests, seas and animals are praising Him, we are most blessed and should be most joyful and ready to praise our Great God.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Flatter seas and a touch of blue sky

God gives us just what we can handle and then He gives us a little relief.

So I have been praying, along with many of you all-thank you very much- that I would have wisdom and that God would provide for PG. So after much petitioning and begging for Him to do His will, today I got a call from our bookkeeper. She told me that we had set aside a pretty nice chunk of cash for something that we didn't end up having to fund, which is going to loosen up the cash flow issue just a little.

I didn't need for the entire sea to be flat, or for there to be no more clouds, but it was certainly gracious of Him to give me a little break from the waves and bit of blue sky on the horizon.

So thanks for your prayers and praise God for His gracious provision. I was totally blown away.

Please continue to pray for our sales to increase and that we would have wisdom to know what projects to take on and what to let go. Also, that He would continue to reveal Himself to us and His will for our future.

Again, thanks for praying for us. It really does work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Afflicted NOT Crushed

2 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

First off, I am hit with "Belongs to God and not to us". We are powerless on our own and all power belongs to Him.

And past that, I feel the weight of being afflicted, not in every way as Paul was, but more than I have ever been called to endure, but not crushed. At this moment in time I am perplexed in my ability, or inability, to change the circumstances, but not driven to despair- really ONLY because Christ is my Hope and my Rock.

I feel at times that I am losing heart, which is really irritating to me, because I know He is faithful. I also am starting to relate to the "wasting away". Teresa just told me that the reason this is so hard on me now is that we have always had it pretty easy. I think she is right.

BUT, BIG conjunction--- the verse doesn't end there. "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

Oh how high and mighty is our God who gives us the encouragement of things to come. We have a hope that is beyond compare. This hope is far better than the best of here and now, and enables us to endure the worst of this life.

Keep up the fight, finish the course and the crown of life will be your reward.

Please pray for me and the people of PG that we would have wisdom in the coming days. Many very serious, life changing decisions may need to be made. Pray that we would be calm in the storm and that God would be glorified in our lives through this time.
And please pray for me that I would look only to Christ, and not to the circumstances, as they are too big for me, and the waves make me scared.

Ps 17:6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who do me violence,
my deadly enemies who surround me.

Clear Speaking

Col. 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

For sure if I were Paul I would have been thinking that he should have been out of prison, and able to speak freely so that the Gospel could have been more easily preached. Wasn't that what God had called him to do? It sure seems like it would have been more effective to have him out of prison.

But Paul isn't asking the believers to pray for his release; he is praying that a door would be open for him to preach from where his current state, and that he would have clarity of speech when he was given the opportunity.

I often am thinking that God could use me better if He just got me out of this jam and make it easier. He isn't in a hurry to get us out of our "prisons" and back to freedom. He is letting the trial do its perfect work, so that in the end we would be more complete in Him. We should be praying, like Paul, that God would give us an opportunity to speak and that we would have clarity of thought, and speech, when He gives it to us.

For sure God knew what He was doing with Paul, and knows what He is doing with us, and we can look back at His faithfulness in Paul's life for encouragement and strength when we are going through difficult times, and know that God will be faithful to do His work in us when we are content in the circumstance that we are in, because in Him is where we are truly to be.

Blesse be the Name if the Lord

Job 1:20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

5:22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts her mouth.
"Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.
He will deliver you from six troubles;
in seven no evil shall touch you.

You all know the story, as do I. There is something special about the relationship Job has with his Lord. It is not that Job is not weeping, and crushed over the loss of his family and possessions, but he really did understand that God gives and He also can take away; it is all His. Job had been faithful, and yet God chose to bring Himself glory in the story of Job, and is still bringing Himself glory even as I am recounting it.

A couple of thing I want to point out.

Right after the Lord takes everything away from Job, except his precious wife and dear friends; immediately Job says, "Blessed be the name of the Lord". What a testament to his trust in God's goodness, to him personally.

Also, it is not too far into the discussion with his friends that he says, "Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty." Job understood that it is not always best, in God's eyes, to have much on earth, and if God thought it best for him to have nothing, then he would take that as good for him. He was not going to question God's motives in the discipline, and in all this he did not sin with his mouth. It seems he didn't even have a bad attitude about it, because of the "despise not the discipline" portion.

There are quite a few differences between my estate and Job's, which is truly, perfectly fine with me. I am not here on earth to see how much money, or how many things, I can stack up. I don't think that was Job's motivation either; God had just really blessed him along the way. I also don't think my emotional, or spiritual, estate is on par with Job's. What a godly man, who understood who he was and who God is, and was happy in the relationship as it is supposed to be. For him not to be angry with, or even question, God in the midst of his trials, is truly amazing.

God is not to be held hostage. He is not required to turn every situation around in the same way He did for Job. But it is interesting that God did bless Job, and Job prayed for the forgiveness of his friends. He apparently didn't hold a grudge against them.

There are also very different ways for God to bless us. Maybe His blessing on us is that we should NOT have any material possessions in our lives, so we are most dependent on Him. Maybe He does choose to bless us with material possessions, but we are to be good stewards of those things, as they are His, and we are to share both the possessions with others and the praise in God entrusting them to us.

42:10 And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.
42:12 And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.

Oh to have the trust and spiritual eye sight of Job. To be able to truly give back all to God, if that is what He sees best for us. To be patient in affliction, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. May we all be like Job in this way, for God, our gracious, kind and tender Heavenly Father, knows what is best for us and He disciplines those He loves. In the "latter days" of our life we will be blessed more than the beginning, if we remain faithful, because He will give to us a crown of life, that far exceeds any earthly possessions we might attain.

Monday, January 19, 2009

His Highly Esteemed People.

"If God esteems so highly His people now on earth, how much more will He value them when they are in heaven? If when the righteous are afflicted they are so excellent, how much more when they are crowned? If with their blemishes they are precious, then how much more when their imperfections shall be done away and they shall be presented to the Father without spot and wrinkle? If gold is valuable in the wedge and the ore, then how precious is it when it is fully refined? If wheat is excellent when it is mingled with chaff, then how much worth has it when it is fanned and made pure?

If God reputes the righteous more excellent than others when conflicting with infirmities, then how incomparably excellent and glorious will they appear in His eye when they shall be cleansed from all remaining corruption, and shall shine with knowledge as the air with light? If a man makes any account of his friend when he sees him under distempers of body which cause forwardness, how much more will he prize him when he sees him in perfect health and his spirit calm and sedate? If God esteems the righteous better than others in the present juncture of time, when they have their unto-ward passions and fainting-fits of unbelief, what will He do when they shall be perfectly holy and as angels of God?" Thomas Watson

This is a little harder read, but worth the work. How sweet it is to know that our Father loves us now, in our weaknesses and He will continue to love us as we progressively are sanctified to His likeness. Oh what a day it will be when we are perfectly holy like the angels!

Not Lacking Anything

Phil. 4:19 And my God will supply EVERY need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

It is so amazing to read this verse and to know that God will supply everything we need. This is not only physical needs, but also spiritual needs. And He doesn't supply just enough to get us by, but according to His riches. And another thing, He actually knows what we need, better than we know ourselves.

This is cause for resting.

Peace in the Time of Storm

John 14:25 "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

There are many references to peace in the Bible. Some have the idea of the absence of war or hostility, where a certain king's reign was symbolized by peace, many are talking about being at peace with God, rather than being at war with Him, so a more spiritual sense, but John 14 seems to be talking about another kind of peace.

I have been convicted lately of the lack of inward peace in my heart in all the circumstances around me. God has been strengthening my faith, through various trials, but what about peace in those trials. I should be at peace in the midst of the storm if I am really trusting Him. This has been hard for me.

So if I really have faith that He will accomplish His purposes in my life, whatever they may be, and He is faithful in every situation to finish the work He has started, then why am I lacking peace?

Mark 4:35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

Jesus is at perfect peace as the storm rages, because He knows where His faith lies. The disciples, who have already watched Him do numerous miracles, have forgotten who He is and that He really does care for them, "Do you not care?", and are focused on the storm and its power. Jesus says, "Why are you so afraid, have you still no faith?" Since they have seen His power over sin and disease , their faith should have been stronger, and they should not have been afraid.

I have seen Him do many great miracles in my life, yet my faith is weak, which diminishes the peace in the midst of a trial; like calm, or tranquility, in the midst of a storm.

This is what God has called us to. Not only to have faith to trust Him, but to have faith strong enough that when the storm is breaking apart the ship, we are sleeping, or resting, in His care of His children.

Gracious Master and Commander of the seas of life, You not only control the literal seas and all that is in them, but You control every part of me. You have given me Your Holy Spirit to encourage and strengthen me, to grow my love for You, to increase my hatred for sin, and love for others. You are the Breast I can cling to when the storm is raging around me, like a child does when it needs comfort. There is no peace like Your peace, no rest like resting in the palm of Your hand, no calm like the calm when You quiet the storm in me. Shepherd of my anxious heart, give me faith to trust You, and forgive me for not trusting when You have shone yourself so trust worthy. I desire to be filled with faith and marked by peace, but only You can bring this about in me. Please see fit to change my heart to reflect You more clearly, not so I might be lifted up, but that You would be glorified as the Only One who could bring about this change.

Phil. 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

The God of Peace will be with Me, when I practice, and think, on these things.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Praise God for answering Prayer


Thomas a Kempis

"MY CHILD, I must be your supreme and last end, if you truly desire to be blessed. With this intention your affections, which are too often perversely inclined to self and to creatures, will be purified. For if you seek yourself in anything, you immediately fail interiorly and become dry of heart.

Refer all things principally to Me, therefore, for it is I Who have given them all. Consider each thing as flowing from the highest good, and therefore to Me, as to their highest source, must all things be brought back.

From Me the small and the great, the poor and the rich draw the water of life as from a living fountain, and they who serve Me willingly and freely shall receive grace upon grace. He who wishes to glory in things apart from Me, however, or to delight in some good as his own, shall not be grounded in true joy or gladdened in his heart, but shall be burdened and distressed in many ways. Hence you ought not to attribute any good to yourself or ascribe virtue to any man, but give all to God without Whom man has nothing.

I have given all things. I will that all be returned to Me again, and I exact most strictly a return of thanks. This is the truth by which vainglory is put to flight.

Where heavenly grace and true charity enter in, there neither envy nor narrowness of heart nor self-love will have place. Divine love conquers all and enlarges the powers of the soul.

If you are truly wise, you will rejoice only in Me, because no one is good except God alone, Who is to be praised above all things and above all to be blessed."

I have been praying, along with many others, for clear direction and for increased traffic and sales for Priceless.
Yesterday we had 12 new leads, which is double what a pretty good day normally brings.
I was just thinking that when we ask God for something and He immediately answers those prayers it is SIN not to immediately give Him praise for His gracious answer and provision. He is worthy of our praise, so we should delightfully, joyfully and exuberantly give Him praise.
I want to be quick to give Him praise for His working in my life.

By ANY Means Possible

Phil. 3:7 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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

When we are faced with losing anything of value, one of our children, a spouse, a parent or our earthly possessions, it is at this time we will find out what the value is in our eyes. All of these things can be difficult to lose, but it much easier when we recognize that they are God's to do with as He chooses and we are just to be good stewards of those things that He has entrusted to us, while He is still entrusting them to us.

Paul's grasp on this was profound, because God had given him a glimpse of Heaven. This made it easier to run hard after the prize, but he yearned to be in Heaven, rather than here on earth. To know the surpassing worth of Christ is a God granted understanding; an understanding that we should be asking Him for everyday. Until He gives us the correct value system, we will be running after the wrong things and laboring for things that are going to fade.

Having righteousness is also something we can't have, nor would we even want, on our own. But, if we ask God for righteous desires, and ask Him to enable us to see our sin for what it truly is, then we will grow in our hatred of sin, through His power, and the fight will be in His strength, not our own.

It is interesting to me that Paul's ultimate goal, in all this, is to be like Christ, in His death, and to suffer with Christ so he could be raised with Christ. If you asked most people their highest goal, I don't think they would say "death and suffering". Paul understood that to be finished with the race and thus gain the prize, he had to suffer where Christ had suffered and that in the end he would receive the prize of eternal life with the Savior.

I have been thinking about the battle against sin this morning. I can't imagine the energy one would exert in a battle, like the ones on Lord of the Rings, for even for 15 minutes, let alone for hours and days. When you get hungry and tired the sword gets heavier and if you let the sword down at the wrong time, your battle is over. In my battle against sin, I have previously been thinking too much of a battle like we see today, where people sit in vehicles or airplanes. I don't think this is a good picture of our type of battle against sin. Battling sin is tiring, but if I take off my armor and rest for even a minute, sin will over take me and the battle may be over.

We have a Savior who is waiting to defend us in our weakness, to fight the battle for us, to be our "weapon of mass destruction" against the rulers of this dark world. He is our Hero and He wants to put us on His back and carry us through the battle field. But for some reason, I too often, want to wage the war on my own.

Triumphant Savior, I want to trust and depend on You every minute of every day in my battle against sin. I am weak, tired and worn out from the battle. I don't want to war it alone, as I will be crushed, but I need you to strengthen and enable me to fight. You are the Great General who is my Hope and Defender in midst of arrows flying and thunderous horses rushing past me. I can trust and fight when you are near, but I quickly forget who is fighting for me, I lose sight of You and then start to wonder if I am able to stand. Bolster my faith, by giving me a clear sight line to You. Give me a confidence in You that can't be shaken, even as the battle grows hotter. On my own I have no strength, but in You I am strong.

Thank you Lord for being the Fortress we can escape from the battle and hide inside when the battle gets to hard. I want to be running and hiding in You.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Filled with the fullness of God

Eph. 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

What would it be like to be filled with ALL the fullness of God? We need to pray, like Paul, that we would be strengthened with power through His Spirit, so that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith, that we would be rooted and grounded in love, and that we would be able to comprehend all that the love of Christ is.

The exciting part about this; if we ask God to do these things in our hearts, He is faithful to give them to us, more abundantly than we could ask or think, and it is His power that works inside us to accomplish these things for His own glory. He really wants to do and be these things in our lives, but He is waiting for us to ask Him to bring about the changes necessary for us to BE Christlike.

I want to know, in more than just a passing way, the love of Christ and be filled, not part way, but to over flowing with the fullness of who God is. If, and when God allows me to be this person, then that is when "old things are past away, behold all things are become new" takes place. I am not talking about salvation, but sanctification. Now the light will be on full power.

OH Lord, grant to me the desire to be all that you would have me to be, to love others in a way that only you can, to hate sin and love righteousness, to see your face, in all Your glory, and then see for the first time the disparity between all that the world has to offer and all that you are. Only you can bring about the change, but it is your desire that all would come to repentance, and then live as a bright lights for the world to see that there is a difference between the children of Light and the children of this world. Lord please change me. You are strong and mighty to save.

Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Encourage the Fainthearted, Help the Weak

1 Thes. 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This is the final instructions to the Thessalonian believers, from Paul. It is an interesting list of things to do, be and not do.
I am not going to give an exegetical post on this list, but I do want to high light a couple of things that hit me today.

The economy is getting to me. There is much on my heart and mind, even though I know I am not to worry or be anxious, I am still a human and still a sinner. For some reason I have been discouraged lately and that makes my light dim. So, when I woke up early this morning I went right for the Word. I want to be filled with encouragement from the fountain. I wanted to drink with a fire hose, because I knew where I would be if I didn't. At the end of my quiet time, I was still just wimpy. I talked to Teresa before I left for work and told her I am just tired of the grind. I know that Ecclesiastes said this is how it would be, but it's like I have been on vacation the first 45 years of my life. It has been really easy compared to now.
She told me that God has me where He wants me and that I am here to encourage the people around me. So that is what I tried to do today.

I still had work to do, but my real focus today was to go out and try to tell others of what God has been doing in my life and what He has done in the lives of those around me. There are a lot of weak and wimpy people out there right now and we are to be salt and light to the world. If I go out and complain about God's plan for me, that is not honoring to Him. It is pride on my part. I want to be the brightest light I can be while He has me in the place He sees fit. As I often say, "easier to say, than to do".

So I highlighted a couple of verbs above, and a promise.
Encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. We need to do this for each other.

I love what Paul says right at the end; "sanctify you completely", "He will surely do it", because "He is faithful".
What an encouragement; He is going to do this in me. He has to do it, because I can't do it. He has to give me the desire to wake up early to go to the fountain. He has work out all these verbs in my life, because left to my own devices I don't want to do them. But He promised to complete the work He has started in me.
Now that's encouraging.

To The Praise of His Glory

Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

This passage is filled to over flowing with treasures that God has lavished on us, in Christ.
1. First, we are actually in Christ.
2. We have been giving every Spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places.
3. He Chose us before the foundation of the world.
4. He chose us to be holy and blameless before Him.
5. He predestined us to be His adopted sons, through Jesus Christ.
6. That predestination for adoption was according to the purpose of His will.
7. All of the previous blessings were given so that His glorious grace might be praised.
But wait, there's more.
8. In Christ we have;
A. Redemption through His blood.
B. The Forgiveness of our sins.
9. The forgiveness of our sins was according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us;
A. In all wisdom.
B. In all insight.
10. The wisdom and understanding makes known to us the mystery of His will.
A. His purposes are set forth in Christ and that purpose is to unite all things in Heaven and in earth in Christ.
11. In Christ we have an inheritance, since we have been predestined according to the purpose of Him, Who works all things together to the counsel of His will.
12. So that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be to the praise of His glory.
And if that wasn't enough we also;
13. Have heard the Truth, that is the Gospel of our salvation.
14. Believed in Him.
15. Were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is our personal guarantee.
16. The Holy Spirit is the personal guarantee of our inheritance, until we possess it.

All of this is so "That we should live and behave ourselves in such a way that His rich grace might be magnified, and appear glorious and worthy of highest praise", Matthew Henry.

A side note on this passage; A Personal Guarantee- The Holy Spirit in this case- is something I have to do often for PG. This is when someone comes, "I will make sure that whatever we are agreeing to will happen, even if the first person can't follow through with it". This is a super-sized co-signer basically. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that all of the promises that God has made will happen.
What a Blessed Surety.

"How can I keep from Singing Your praise?" comes to mind right now. Really, after having received all of this, how can we keeping from singing;

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Promises Kept, Rest At Last

Joshua 20:43 Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

This passage comes at a time when the Israelites had crossed the Jordan and had taken over every city in the land that God had promised to give them. Up until this time there were many battles to fight, much strategizing and blood was spilled.

I can't really imagine what those days preceding this passage must have been like, but after the battles and wars are finished, the rest from all this must have been all the more sweet.

We are currently in a war, though as I posted before we often forget that we are, and when the war is completed and we have finished our course, the rest will be sweet. I love it that Moses adds, right at the end, that EVERY promised God had made had come to pass.

What A Day That Will Be
Jim Hill
There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye;
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be!

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face the One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand and leads me thro' the promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be!

Tall Dunghill or Righteous Flat Ground?

I have watched young people, and older people, live their lives pursuing righteousness over the world's acceptance and some stay in the fight and others have caved under the pressure of the moment. I have often thought that the reason this could potentially happen is because they knew they were supposed to be righteous, but maybe it wasn't cool to be righteous. Maybe they saw being righteous for what it wasn't, like the world, rather than for what it is, more Christ-like. If they had seen righteousness as being most pleasing to God maybe the outcome would have been different.

"See what high thoughts God has of the righteous, He looks upon them as more excellent than others, and His judgment is best worth praising. The saints have low thoughts of themselves; they overlook their own worth, like Moses who knew not that his face shined. The eye, though beautiful, does not see itself. Yet, as low thoughts as the righteous have of themselves, God has high thoughts of them. "Since Thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honorable," Isaiah 43:4. The Lord puts away the wicked like dross. The greatest man in the world, lacking holiness, is like Naaman, who was captain of the king's host and a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper, 2 Kings 5:1. A wicked man may be higher than others in nobility and worldly grandeur. A dunghill is higher than other ground, but it is never the better; it sends forth odious vapors." Thomas Watson

A clear vision of what God thinks, gives me a deeper desire to be righteous. Not out of duty, but out of a desire to please Him.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Strangely dim

Is repentance just turning from what is "bad"? Is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear "repentance", something like "sin" or "lust"?

Turning is of course part of repentance, but only part. What is the turning from and what is the turning towards?

SKH was talking tonight in our staff meeting about this very topic. I have thought for a long time that repentance was turning from sin, toward something "not sin". But what of turning from something "ok" towards something excellent? The turning is then not out of duty, but more out of pleasure. Like; if you are eating top ramen compared to the perfect Kobe beef fillet? I like ramen, but later on in the day it comes back to haunt me. It doesn't take coercion to switch from eating the ramen to the fillet, but how often do we think that if we skip the ramen there might not be any fillet for us? So we fill up on ramen, knowing all the while that it's cheap, it will bite me later and we are satisfied. Only the fillet is waiting there the entire time, perfectly prepared, juicy and tender. BUT we made sure we got our ramen, because we didn't want to be left hungry.

Repentance is leaving what satisfies our earthly desires, that fade and are soon empty, for what is the most satisfying, never fading, perfect portion.

When we think about repentance in this way, it is much easier to understand, much more desirable and we will look on our current desires and lust with distaste. We would then be saying to ourselves, and others, "Why in the world would you ever want to fill up on that junk when you could be filled with the best Heaven has to offer?". That makes turning and repentance lasting, because our lust has changed. We then would lust after the things of God and Heaven. Our ultimate joy and satisfaction would not be in the things the world runs after, but eternal.

"A righteous man has more excellent food. Carnal men feed only on earthly provision; the righteous feeds on heavenly. He tastes how sweet the Lord is, Psalm 34:8. He feeds on God's love; this is the hidden manna. He eats Christ's flesh, which not only begets life, John 6:33, but prevents death. "This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die," John 6:50 - that is, not die the second death. Other bread may nauseate or cause bloating, but there is no excess here. We can-not eat too much of the Bread of Life. We cannot have too much of Christ, as one cannot have too much of health. Oh, what excellent food is this! God Himself is in this cheer!" Thomas Watson

How great would it be if God granted us repentance to find in Him our greatest treasure? Only He can satisfy and only He can give us the desire to chase after Him. When we line our wills and hearts up with His, then, and only then, will we desire true repentance and find our treasure in Him. Lord give us your loves. Grant us repentance that lasts.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

When we see ALL that Jesus is, then everything the world has is garbage. Pray that we would see Him in His splendor.

Excellent Promises

"A righteous man has more excellent promises belonging to him. What a sinner has is rather by providence than by virtue of a promise. It is the saints who are called "heirs of the promise;" Hebrews 6:17, and those promises are precious, 2 Peter 1:4. They are the beams of the sun of righteousness, the pleasant streams that run in the paradise of Scripture. "All things work together for good," Romans 8:28, but to whom? "To them that love God." All mercies shall work for their good. They shall be footstools to lift up their hearts higher to heaven, and all afflictions shall work for their good; the rod shall be a divine pencil to draw Christ's image more lively upon their souls.

There is another promise. "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee," Hebrews 13:5. This promise belongs to the heirs of salvation. God will not leave His people either to their strong corruptions or their weak graces. He will counsel them in their doubts, supply them in their wants, and defend them in their dangers. When they are most assaulted, they shall be most assisted. How can God leave them? They are His spouse. Will a man leave his spouse?

Thus the saints have the royal charter of the promises settled upon them. As these promises are sweet, so they are sure. Men reckon their wealth not always by what ready money they have in their houses but by their bonds and leases. A Christian's estate lies mostly in bonds and bills of God's hand sealed with His oath. What better security can there be?" Thomas Watson

What better security can there be indeed?!! If God be for us, who can be against us? Where your treasures are, there will your heart be also. When we work for earthly gain, our gains are in earthly currency, but when our aim is Heaven, then God pays us in another currency; a currency that does not fluctuate or depreciate; that can't be stolen or embezzled; that will not rust or corrode. Wait for that reward, rather than have it come in earthly currency.

When God makes a promises, He keeps it. He answers our prayers, but more often then not He answers in a different way than we are thinking, because He knows best. There are some great lines in these 3 paragraphs.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The portions in quotes are from A Plea for the godly, Thomas Watson
"Faith anticipates future things and makes them present. When God told Abraham what a glorious country He would give him, Abraham looked upon it as if it had been actually done and he had taken possession. Faith can live upon God in the deficiency of visible comforts. Although the fig-tree does not blossom, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. A righteous man believes that if God will save him from hell, He will save him from want; if He will give him a kingdom, He will not deny him daily bread."

This is both an encouragement and exhortation to me. The encouraging part is that God can and does keep His promises, so we should take them as already being completed. The exhortation is that even though He is growing my faith I have so far to go in really trusting Him. Not that He is not trustworthy, but He is the One who grants the faith to trust Him and sin gets in the way. I think this is the "come as a child" part that I often lack. A child implicitly trusts what his father tells him. It is not until the father has not kept all his promises that the child starts to have doubts if it is true. Our Heavenly Father ALWAYS keeps His promises.

"The life of a righteous man is more excellent for usefulness. He is a blessing in the midst of the land. He spends and is spent for Christ; yet he would rather wear out than rust out. The lives of the wicked are unprofitable (therefore they are compared to chaff), and hurtful (therefore compared to thorns). But a righteous man is like the bee or silk-worm, working for the good of others. "It comforts me," said worthy (John) Jewel, "that I have exhausted myself in the labors of my holy calling." A good man hangs between these two as a needle between two load stones: longing to be with Christ in heaven and loving to serve Him on earth."

Lately I have a strong pull between Heaven and knowing that God still has a plan for me here. It is difficult to be between the 2. Our lives will be so much more in Heaven, but He has plans for us here. It is my desire to wear out for Him, and also to be with Him. I am finally starting to understand Paul's heart when he said, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain", Phil. 1:21. Up until now I would only want the "live" part, but now I am starting to see that the "die" part is really the "live" part.

So, until He calls me home, I have work that He has set out for me to do here. There are people that, for some reason, He has chosen me to be His voice to them. Others that He has some act of kindness to live out to them, some tangible way for them to see God in whatever it is that I do, or an attitude that I portray. Representing the King is a high calling and one that I should not take lightly. It is kind of Him to allow us to participate in His divine work here on earth.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's the REAL Score?

Last night we played a few game of basketball against another area "Christian" school. I was reminded of something my dad told me a long time ago. He taught high school at a public school, when I was in grade school, and that school played a "Christian" school as part of their regular schedule. One time we had traveled to their school and had beaten them. When the guys came out of the locker room to return home, they went to get on the bus and all the tires had been slashed. Another time one of the moms had threatened the life of one of the officials. He said that school had the worst reputation in the league.

Last night's game was not that bad, but there was certainly room for improvement. I am glad to be associated with Grace Academy and the reputation that the school has in the community. This includes how the other schools view GA, how officials view GA and how GA parents view the kids and faculty of GA.

Last night the girls lost and the boys won, but the actual score that counts is not on the score board. I believe that we should play to win, but not at the expense of our testimony. When our guys come off the floor and say that the other team was swearing the entire game, what do the officials think? Is this what Christianity is all about? If so, why would anyone be drawn to it? They already have that at every other school in the state, and public schools are "free."

Way to go GA students who are living for Christ in a very tough environment. Thanks be to God for students that He has changed to the likeness of His Son, and may He have the grace to change the lives of the students at the other school, so they can see what the real score.

New Jerusalem Trading

Eph. 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the 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— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Righteous man is of a more Excellent Spirit, Thomas Watson
"He is of a sublime spirit; he savors the things of God. A person sublimated by grace sets his feet where others set their hearts. He, being clothed with Christ the Son of righteousness and crowned with the graces as glittering stars, has the moon under him. The world may have his look but Christ has his love; he dwells below but trades in the Jerusalem above. A true saint is taken up about higher matters: getting the love and favor of God. He aspires after glory and immortality; he looks no lower than a crown; he feeds as the birds of paradise on the dew of heaven; he is employed about angels' work, lifting up God's name in the world; he is a living organ of God's praise."

I am challenged, yeah verily agitated and irritated Heb. 10:24, by those few around me who seem to really get this. These 2 paragraphs above have many provoking thoughts to ponder.
We were dead and followed our earthly passions, but God made us alive in Christ, by faith we can be made alive, so that we might show the riches of His grace by doing the work He has prepared work for us to do while we are here on earth. Even as we do those God ordained works we can have our eye on Heaven and be the organ of His praise.

Some questions;
Do I savor the things of God, or is my heart so inclined to the things of earth that higher things lose my attention?
Am I sublimated- or changed- by the grace that God has given me?
Is Christ the love of my life, even while I am living on earth?
Is my chief aim to get the love and favor of God?
Do I aspire after glory and immortality, or something much lower?
Is my main employment lifting up God's name in the world?
Am I a living organ for His praise?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Same strings, new tune

This first section is out of Thomas Watson's book "A Plea For the Godly

"There is a righteousness imparted, which is infusing the seed and habit of grace in the soul, making a person internally holy. And so he is said to be righteous who has a change of heart wrought in him and is transformed by the renewing of his mind, Romans 12:2. Such a one, though he is not another man, yet he is a new man, 2 Corinthians 5:17. The faculties are not new but the qualities are, as the strings of a violin are the same but the tune is altered."

2 Cor. 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What grace has been lavished on those who are saved. There is a double transfer that has taken place;
1.Christ, who was sinless, was made to be sin.
2.We, who were never righteous, were made to be righteous.

Paul encourages the readers to remember where this gift comes from, what the purpose of the gift is and then to whom the gift was given.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

So Christians are chosen, by God, to be messengers, to the world, that Christ has come to reconcile the world to Himself. But why would He choose us to be the messengers? When we are forgiven and made righteous there should be so much joy and gratitude in our hearts that it spills over into every part of our lives.

If you have just watched an amazing movie, eaten the best food you have ever tasted or whatever else you want to put into this category, you always want to tell someone else about it. The telling doesn't have to be forced on us, you want to share the good thing you have just experienced. Well, if we can get excited about a movie, good food or whatever else, should we not be infinitely more excited about Christ's ministry of reconciling us, who were once His enemies, to God? And if we are excited about the telling, this should be a great vehicle for the message to go out.

Even though we spend lots of money on advertising, at PG our greatest form of advertisement is through word of mouth; a referral from someone who has already seen how good of a job we have done and they are excited to share what they have found with others. Well, it seems like we should be the excited, "previous customers" that can't wait to tell others about what God has done for us, and wants to do for others. Why do we get more excited about the trivial things of this life then we do about the best gift that has ever been given?

I like the line at the end of the first quote from Thomas Watson, "The faculties are not new but the qualities are, as the strings of a violin are the same but the tune is altered." It reminds me that we are the strings that need to be tuned with a Heavenly tune and by the Heavenly Tuner. Without God granting an interest for us to be tuned to His Word and the eternal things, we will have no interest. We need to ask Him to tune our hearts to the things of Heaven and then to give us a love and excitement for eternal things, and to make "the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

A side note here; A fiddle and a violin are the exact same instrument but played totally different. Yet there are many who like fiddle music that don't enjoy the violin, and vice versa. This seems like a good analogy, that maybe we were once fiddles, but the orchestra of Heaven has violins, and so we are being "tuned" to different music.

I want to have my heart tuned to eternal, Heavenly music and to be singing the praises of the One who reconciled me to Himself, who took my sin that I might be righteous and who loves to hear the praises of the redeemed.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Can God Be Challenged?

Phil. 3: 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 1et those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Our God is the Creator and Sustainer of ALL things. He is the only One who brings light into darkness, refreshment from trials, rest to the weary, sorrow over sin, repentance and forgiveness, love for others, kindness from selfishness and joy in the struggle.

As I am thinking and praying about the up coming snow retreat I am struck by the fact that maybe I am praying too small; maybe God REALLY wants to be asked to do amazing things, not just good things.

If God can change my heart's desires, if He can make me want to read His Word and desire to be more like Him, then He certainly can do that for others, including our students. He can take the darkest soul and with a spark turn it into a bright light for the Kingdom of His marvelous light. He can turn a heart that is as hard as stone and transform it into the softest, kindest heart. The exciting part about this entire thing is that He would much rather give His mercy to His creation than demonstrate His strong arm of punishment.

I am going to start praying that God would want to show off His amazing power this year at the S/R by showing how many hearts HE can change in 5 days and how dramatically He can change them. God wants to work in the lives of His people, He wants us to be conformed to the image of His son, we wants us to love His Word and revel in His Goodness, He wants to bring His light to a dieing world and He chooses to do that through His chosen people. We need to pray that He would show just how strong He really is in our midst. It is His will that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. I don't want it to be because I have not labored for the students in prayer, and that I have not asked for all that God wants to do on our behalf that He does not work. It seems strange to say this, but I want to "challenge God to show off His power in the lives of our students.

Please pray for the staff and students of 128 as the S/R is now right around the corner.
Pray Sean would have rich, deep times in the Word and that he have clarity as he weeds things out and plants in other things.
Pray that the students would have their hearts softened to the Word and that those who are believers would be repenting even now.
Pray that we would love the students and that they would love and serve each other.
Pray that God would do an amazing work in the hearts and lives of the students, and staff, and that He would want to show off His power in the transforming work of regeneration and sanctification of all who are at the S/R. He can do this.

Pray, Pray, Pray.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tangible Goodness

This is some good stuff that I have been reading and thought you might gain some encouragement from a guy who was much further up the road from me.

Thomas Watson's instruction on the Goodness of God from "The Divine Cordial".
God's attributes work for good to the godly.

(1). God's power works for good. It is a glorious power (Col. 1:11), and it is engaged for the good of the elect.

God's power works for good, in supporting us in trouble. " Underneath are the everlasting arms " (Deut. 33:27). What upheld Daniel in the lion's den? Jonah in the whale's belly? The three Hebrews in the furnace? Only the power of God. Is it not strange to see a bruised reed grow and flourish? How is a weak Christian able, not only to endure affliction, but to rejoice in it? He is upheld by the arms of the Almighty. " My strength is made perfect in weakness " (2 Cor. 12:9).

The power of God works for us by supplying our wants. God creates comforts when means fail. He that brought food to the prophet Elijah by ravens, will bring sustenance to His people. God can preserve the " oil in the cruse " (I Kings 17:14). The Lord made the sun on Ahaz's dial go ten degrees backward: so when our outward comforts are declining, and the sun is almost setting, God often causes a revival, and brings the sun many degrees backward.

The power of God subdues our corruptions. " He will subdue our iniquities " (Micah 7:. 19). Is your sin strong? God is powerful, He will break the head of this leviathan. Is your heart hard? God will dissolve that stone in Christ's blood. " The Almighty maketh my heart soft " (Job 13:16). When we say as Jehoshaphat, " We have no might against this great army " ; the Lord goes up with us, and helps us to fight our battles. He strikes off the heads of those goliath lusts which are too strong for us.

The power of God conquers our enemies. He stains the pride, and breaks the confidence of adversaries. " Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron " (Psalm 2:9). There is rage in the enemy, malice in the devil, but power in God. How easily can He rout all the forces of the wicked! " It is nothing for thee, Lord, to help " (2 Chr. 14:11). God's power is on the side of His church. " Happy art thou, O Israel, O people saved by the Lord, who is the shield of thy help, and the sword of thy excellency " (Deut. 33:29).

(2). The wisdom of God works for good. God's wisdom is our oracle to instruct us. As He is the mighty God, so also the Counselor (Isa. 9:6). We are oftentimes in the dark, and, in matters intricate and doubtful know not which way to take; here God comes in with light. " I will guide thee with mine eye " (Psa. 32:8). " Eye, " there, is put for God's wisdom. Why is it the saints can see further than the most quick-sighted politicians? They foresee the evil, and hide themselves; they see Satan's sophisms. God's wisdom is the pillar of fire to go before, and guide them.

(3). The goodness of God works for good to the godly. God's goodness is a means to make us good. " The goodness of God leadeth to repentance " (Rom. 2:4). The goodness of God is a spiritual sunbeam to melt the heart into tears. Oh, says the soul, has God been so good to me? Has He reprieved me so long from hell, and shall I grieve His Spirit any more? Shall I sin against goodness?

The goodness of God works for good, as it ushers in all blessings. The favors we receive, are the silver streams which flow from the fountain of God's goodness. This divine attribute of goodness brings in two sorts of blessings. Common blessings: all partake of these, the bad as well as the good; this sweet dew falls upon the thistle as well as the rose. Crowning blessings: these only the godly partake of. " Who crowns us with loving-kindness " (Psalm 103:4). Thus the blessed attributes of God work for good to the saints.

How good it is of God to care for us in the many ways He does, some observed and others totally unnoticed, yet He is still working all things together for our good. As I look around me, here in Hawaii, I am reminded of all the beautiful things He has made just for us to see, smell, hear and taste of His goodness in a most tangible way.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kindness Leads to Repentance

Romans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

The 2009 snow retreat is right around the corner and yesterday in our staff meeting we talked about Repentance- the subject of the S/R.

It is ONLY by God's granting grace to us, and that through His kindness, that any are interested in, or come to, repentance. We are all in need of His grace to pour onto our hard hearts and cause them to become soft. Only then we can begin to show signs of repentance. Until He begins that work in us, we will have hearts of stone, we will love our sin and entice others to follow us in our destructive ways.

But why does He chose for some to repent and many others to reject? Why has He chosen some to be vessels of honor and some for destruction? It is His purpose, as He is the Potter and we are clay. But those who are chosen for honor should live like we have been chosen for honor.

When God chooses to take His "vessels chosen for honor" through testing we often complain. Do you know that the firing temperature for pottery is around 600F and for china appr. 2000F. So when God is choosing to take us through what seems to be more than we can bear remember that He is both sufficient for all our needs and He knows exactly what it will take to finish us.

This post is a little random, but we must remember that we can't bring ourselves or anyone else to repentance, we need to be thankful that He has brought us to repentance and thankful for the "firing" that He puts us through so we will be vessels for honor, rather than vessels for destruction and remember also that we who have been chosen for honor were chosen not because of anything is us, but that He chose us because for whatever strange reason He Loves us. We have as much to brag about that process as the pot does.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Starting at the Beginning- of 2009

Thomas a Kempis

"O Lord my God, You are all my good. And who am I that I should dare to speak to You? I am Your poorest and meanest servant, a vile worm, much more poor and contemptible than I know or dare to say. Yet remember me, Lord, because I am nothing, I have nothing, and I can do nothing. You alone are good, just, and holy. You can do all things, You give all things, You fill all things: only the sinner do You leave empty-handed. Remember Your tender mercies and fill my heart with Your grace, You Who will not allow Your works to be in vain. How can I bear this life of misery unless You comfort me with Your mercy and grace? Do not turn Your face from me. Do not delay Your visitation. Do not withdraw Your consolation, lest in Your sight my soul become as desert land. Teach me, Lord, to do Your will. Teach me to live worthily and humbly in Your sight, for You are my wisdom Who know me truly, and Who knew me even before the world was made and before I was born into it."

I know not what today, or tomorrow, holds only that I desire to do your will. I dare not trust my own selfish desires for they bring me only grief and pain. You alone are my good, You alone are life to me, You alone are the Giver, the Sustainer, the Fulfiller and my greatest Treasure. When I desire you above all earthly joys, You allow Yourself to be found and in finding there is great joy, as one finding a hidden treasure. I am slow in pursuing the Eternal, and quick to chase the fleeting. Continue your faithfulness to me, show Yourself tangibly to me, that I grow not weary in following You. Give me wisdom to understand things beyond my years. May I suffer long with others as You have with me. Give me strong convictions for Your purposes, grace in my preferences and clarity of distinction. May I live with others peacefully, in an understanding way, and yet fight for Your Word.

This prayer is too much for me to become, yet You will accomplish your purposes in those who humbly seek Your will. May this year be a year of growth, marked by humility, unity, sacrifice, steadfastness, prayer for Your will to be done in my life and in the lives of others and a clear focus on the Prize; The Prince of Life, my Ransom, The Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, The Great I Am, the Joy of Heaven. May I have my eyes and heart focused on You and my hands doing the work that You have ordained.

2 Puritan Prayers

The Deeps

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.

Plow deep in me, great Lord, Heavenly Husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.


God of my end, it is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with Thee and with my rational, immortal soul; it is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of Thee, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to Thee and the full enjoyment of Thee; no hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with Thee and with my heart.

O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life is a spirit of holy watchfulness and godly jealousy over myself when my soul is afraid of nothing except grieving and offending Thee, the blessed God, my Father and friend, whom I then love and long to please, rather than be happy in myself! Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper, worthy of the highest ambition, and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures and holy Christians, may my joy derive from glorifying and delighting Thee. I long to fill all my time for Thee, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in Thy hands; to be entirely at Thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own. Help me to live to Thee for ever, to make Thee my last and only end, so that I may never more in one instance love my sinful self.