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Reflect On The Wonder Of The Cross

I haven’t posted anything in a long time, and have so much I could say. Unfortunately, I don’t have very much time, so I can’t quite update you all on what has occupied my summer yet, but I can give some quick encouragement. The easiest way to do this: quote someone who is more spiritually mature than I. Ironically, this man, C.J. Mahaney, also happens to be quoting others. I hope you find this as edifying as I did.

“Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote the following about the surest way to pursue humility:

There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross. 

When I survey the wondrous cross 

On which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss

And pour contempt on all my pride

Nothing else can do it. When I see that I am a sinner… that nothing but the Son of God on the cross can save me, I’m humbled to the dust… Nothing but the cross can give us this spirit of humility.

“John Stott helps us understand why the cross has this powerful effect:

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.

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Uncategorized

Have You Died?

I am a believer in Jesus Christ. A Christian. Not because I have done something special deserving of salvation; in fact, it is quite the opposite. I am saved for the reason that I believe that nothing I can possibly do, no task I can ever accomplish can make me worthy of salvation. Nothing can rescue my soul aside from the perfect sacrifice of Christ, a replacement for the wrath which I deserve. In that moment of repentance and faith in His divine interposition, something extraordinary happened. I died for the first time, and was born for the second. A part of me that was enslaved to self and sin died at that point, and something truly beautiful was birthed in its stead. I am now a slave of Christ after having been reborn. To get to this point, I had to experience death, in a spiritual sense. In fact, it could be called a spiritual suicide to self. Having died, I found life. The words of Jesus in Luke 9:23-24 are my basis for this word-picture:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

Anyone who is a true believer must experience this death. If one has not realized that salvation takes a life change, I would strongly urge him to question it. I, as a young child, was mistaken about my faith, not realizing that being a Christian means I have to kill myself(figuratively) and let Christ mold me into an image of Himself. I deceived myself and thought I could continue to live sinfully as long as I read my bible and attended church. I now see the truth, but I believe and know that many others share this misconception, especially those in the “Bible Belt”. Dear reader, please examine yourself. Have you fallen prey to this line of false thinking?

If one has examined himself and found true repentance, then this post serves as a challenge. Lately, I have found my love for Christ growing, as I see how undeserving and unworthy I am of His grace. The fact that He would still love me in spite of all I have done and continue to do causes me to love Him with a greater fervency. Coming right along with this growth, I am seeing sinful habits and patterns that have slipped into my speech and actions. Also, I am seeing how easy it is to forget my death to sin with friends who are fellow believers. Not necessarily because my friends and I are saying and doing things which are even widely considered wrong, but because of what we are not saying and doing. James 4:17 says,

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Many times, I will myself with my friends talking about things and doing things which are not only worthless, but stupid, for hours upon end. I am dead to sin and alive to Jesus Christ! Why would I allow these habits of sinfulness and times of worthlessness into my life? Paul said in Philippians 1,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.

To live is Christ! I am reborn; alive to Christ. If I claim Him, I must be an image of Him when I am with believers and unbelievers alike. So such foolishness must be eliminated, and replaced with a kind of fruitful labor, namely love. In every task I undertake, every interaction I have with others, and every thought that enters my mind, I must remember that I am spiritually dead to my selfish desires. If the reader is a believer, remember this fact in everything you do. If the reader has not died to self by repentance, he is lost unto himself, destined for hell. Please, examine yourself. Have you truly died to sin?

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Puritan Prayers - The Valley of Vision

The Love of Jesus – The Valley of Vision

I have recently begun to read Puritan prayers from the collection, The Valley of Vision, and I have been greatly encouraged by them.  The Puritans who truly believed in Christ, those who had truly repented, lived mildly ascetic lifestyles, dedicated to glorifying God in thoughts and actions. This prayer in particular shook me to the very core, as it illustrated the beautiful love relationship I have with my Savior.  I desire to love Him so much more, and this prayer words that desire in a completely elegant way.

The Love of Jesus

 

O Father of Jesus,

Help me to approach thee with deepest reverence,

not with presumption,

not with servile fear, but with holy boldness.

Thou art  beyond the grasp of my understanding,

but not beyond that of my love.

Thou knowest that I love thee supremely,

for thou art supremely adorable, good, perfect.

 

My heart melts at the love of Jesus,

my brother, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,

married to me, dead for me, risen for me;

He is mine and I am His,

given to me as well as for me;

I am never so much mine as when I am His,

or so much lost to myself until lost in Him;

then I find my true manhood.

 

But my love is frost and cold, ice and snow;

Let His love warm me,

lighten my burden,

be my heaven;

May it be more revealed to me in all its influences

that my love to Him may be more fervent

and glowing;

Let the mighty tide of His everlasting love

cover the rocks of my sin and care;

Then let my spirit float above those things

which had else wrecked my life.

 

Make me fruitful by living to that love,

my character becoming more beautiful every day.

If traces of Christ’s love-artistry be upon me,

me He work on with His divine brush

until the complete image be obtained

and I be made a perfect copy of Him,

my Master.

 

O Lord Jesus, come to me,

O Divine Spirit, rest upon me,

O Holy Father, look on me in mercy,

for the sake of the well-beloved.

Yes, Father, perfect me into a perfect copy of Him, my Master.

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Struggles, The Word

Love As He Loves You. Forgive As He Forgives You.

To all of you who were wondering, the reason I haven’t made a post in a while is because I have been struggling. I’ve been struggling against the sin of the flesh, and it’s been harder than anything I have ever dealt with aside from when I first believed. Praise be to God, for He is strong when we are weak! The only way I can overcome these sins that infect my thoughts and actions is through Christ, as Colossians 1:13 and 14 say:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Oh, His beloved, precious Son, how I long to look like Him! I thank and praise my Father for giving me such hard times, because when we suffer and overcome our sin through Him is when we tend to grow the most.

My struggle was with three sins in particular: jealousy, bitterness, and selfishness. It all starts with the way I view my friends. For the longest time, I have viewed the majority of my friends as the world views them: sources of pleasure, wanting all of their attention to feel good about myself, feeling important, or even loved, in an ungodly way. What was this view of my friends coming from? Selfishness. I did not pursue relationships with them so that they would be built up in Christ, or encouraged by me to follow Him with more of a passion. If I may pause from the story to challenge you. Examine your relationships, your friendships. Have you sought out friendships to encourage the other person in Christ? Or have you chased them because that other person made you feel good about yourself. What about your love relationships? Have you truly kept Christ at the center of that relationship, so that the one you love will look more like Christ in every aspect? Or have you pursued that person they made you feel loved, important, beautiful, or handsome, as the case may be. Please, examine closely. If looking more like Christ is not at the center of your relationship, and it’s goal is not the glory of God, then your friendship with that person at this moment has no eternal benefit. What matters in the end of all things? That, in your life, you glorified God in all things. So glorify Him in your friendships.

So, as an effect of me not having my friendships centered around the right thing, when someone else came along, who was another close friend of mine, and stole the spotlight from me, what do you think my reaction was? Jealousy. The point of my relationships with these people was my own pleasure, so when a friend came along who was more entertaining than me in almost every way, my reaction was jealousy. When he was there, my friends ignored me for him. He deprived me from feeling good about myself. I tried to change how I acted, so that I could get that prideful feeling from my friends again, but it didn’t work. I was still ignored, and that made me angry. I wasn’t content with Christ, with how He had made me, and I still desired that prideful feeling I got from my friends so much.

But, I was also committing another sin towards this person in response to past sins committed by him. Bitterness. I forgave him for what he did, with my lips, but hadn’t truly forgiven him in my heart. I felt a festering bitterness towards him for what he had done, and this made it hard for me to even be around him.

Through help from my parents and the careful examination of God’s Word, I saw my sin, and I saw what I needed to change in my actions and thoughts toward my friends. Love. I need to love them as Christ loves them. As Christ loves me. Forgiveness. I need to forgive them as Christ has forgiven me. If I am to be like Christ in everything, then I should not be hesitant to pour out forgiveness upon my friends. Christ forgave me of my vile sins against Him, an eternally holy God who loves me, by dying on a cross for my sins. So why should I be so hesitant to forgive a friend who has offended me? Here are some passages that have encouraged me, showed me my sin, and what I need to do to combat that sin. I have put off the sin, and now I put on Christ’s love, and forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8a: 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Colossians 3:12-14 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

I pray that you who are reading will examine yourself according to the Scripture here, and that you will be able to see through the Lord where you have failed, and where you have done well. If you have failed, repent, and pursue Christ’s righteousness, love, and forgiveness. If you have succeeded in these things, rejoice, give the glory to God, and continue to excel still more.

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The Word

Get Over Yourself

This weekend I was on a short summer vacation, and was able to see a younger friend whom I had not been with for about a year and a half.  Throughout the weekend, the boy would have a rebellious attitude toward the things his parents told him to do, responding to his parents’ commands with rejection.  My mother encouraged me to talk to him about it, and challenge him about whether it was right or wrong for him to do so.  I didn’t really desire to do so, I didn’t want to get in that situation, as it would be uncomfortable for us both.  The next morning in my devotions, I didn’t have my Bible available so I opened my Bible app on my phone.  The passage it was set on was this:

Titus 3:1,2

1  Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,2  to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

  I prayed that morning, before I read the Scripture, that I would take to heart what I read in His word that morning and practice it throughout the day.  And what do I find?  A passage that dealt with the very thing I was struggling with.  God used His Scripture to give me a kick in the boot. To say, “Noah, you need to do this.” I find it amazing how quickly and effectively God uses His Word to challenge us to do something.  That day I purposed to speak to the boy about his behavior. I mentioned things to him several times throughout the day and then that night, while talking about the church we were going to tomorrow, he asked me, “So how do you get to heaven?” and so I was able to share the gospel with him again, as he had already heard it, but I was able to stress repentance, which he hadn’t heard before.

You see, if we can(through the Lord’s help) get over ourselves, our own fear and pride about how situations where we talk about our faith with unbelievers make us look, then there is nothing holding us back from what we know we need to do as followers of Christ.  When we struggle with such sin, we should always pray and look to His Word, and God will show us what to do.

If you could keep the boy in your prayers, as he is not a believer but is interested. And interest is sometimes a sign of God calling someone. The boy’s name is Drew.

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