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Posts Tagged ‘desiring god’

This week: more grace than sin, dealing with mistreatment, the true testing ground for a wife, and glorifying God at work.

Jesus: More Full of Grace Than I of Sin (by Justin Taylor)

O Jesus, full of truth and grace

More full of grace than I of sin
Yet once again I seek Thy face:
Open Thine arms and take me in
And freely my backslidings heal
And love the faithless sinner still.

– Charles Wesley

When Others Mistreat You (by Nathan Busenitz, the Cripplegate)

For the truth is, if you are wronged by other men, you have the better of it, for it is better to bear wrong than to do wrong a great deal. If they wrong you, you are in a better condition than they, because it is better to bear, than to do wrong.

A Wife’s Testing Ground (by Jen Smidt, The Resurgence)

If our value is tied to his purity, we will be devastated. If our security is grounded in his job title, we will be shaken. If our faith rides the coattails of his, we will find ourselves drowning in unbelief.

If our husband is our rock, we may be crushed by him.

How to Glorify God at Work (by John Piper, Desiring God)

Go to work utterly dependent on God (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 15:5). Without him you can’t breathe, move, think, feel, or talk. Not to mention be spiritually influential. Get up in the morning and let God know your desperation for him. Pray for help.

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Jon Bloom is the President of Desiring God Ministries (only recently stepping out of the Executive Director position) and frequently writes for their blog. I was moved today and a bit redirected in my thoughts about Good Friday from his post, “Could My Tears Forever Flow?” 

One astonishing thing about the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus is that they include almost no detail. They all simply say some form of “they crucified him.”

I’ve thought about this before especially with respect to Jesus’ flogging and the heavy focus on what happened around him, especially given how much text we are given on Jesus’ final sequence. When they flog Jesus, it’s barely given a sentence. The only place where the Bible describes his appearance at this moment is the prophecy text from Isaiah 53. Mr. Bloom asks why we don’t have more detail on his physical suffering, on the shear brutality of the crucifixion, on how it was one of the worst ways to die ever devised. The first reason Mr. Bloom offers is this: because it was simply too hard to describe, too unbelievable that He would suffer like physically as well as spiritually and mentally taking on the sin of the world. But Mr. Bloom’s second reason almost completed redirected me:

But another reason is that it is not the Son’s suffering that Father wants us primarily to see. He wants us primarily to see what the Son’s suffering accomplishes: “in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

For this reason God is not impressed if we are deeply moved over Jesus’ torment. Unbelievers are moved to tears watching The Passion of the Christ. “Could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone.” He is impressed with whether or not we believe in the gospel Jesus preached.

It is true that God the Son suffered more than we’ll ever know. And it is right to pray for softer hearts and a more profound grasp of what Jesus endured to save us. But as we survey the wondrous cross today, remember that in our worship God will not be looking for tears, he will be looking for trust.

In all my thoughts about the Cross today, have I looked at what He accomplished? Surely, God desires for us to understand the extent that He went to redeem and adopt us but Good Friday does not need to be a day of forced tears and meditation on Jesus’ pain. I remember Good Friday as a kid growing up in a more traditional church. My mom would have us take an hour of silence and quiet during the middle of the day. I respected this time immensely but you know what? I thought about what Jesus did but I had no clue what He actually accomplished. I was moved and saddened and I may have even had an idea of my sin. But I had no idea what His words meant: “It is finished!” Don’t get me wrong, I still think back to that tradition of silence around noon every Good Friday, but now it’s hard for me to be saddened for too long because that is not where Jesus calls us to dwell! Don’t miss what Jesus accomplished! Don’t miss what is finished:

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.  
(Hebrews 10:11-14 ESV)

Once for all time! It is finished! Our sin is paid for! No more trying to fake our own goodness, hoping we’ve done just enough, wallowing in failure, or giving ourselves over to our desires because we think it’s too late anyway. No more of that. Just trust Him today. I don’t think that God is looking for an emotional display today on Good Friday but your love and trust as one of his sons and daughters. Rest in confidence today. Rest in full assurance that Jesus paid it all.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23 ESV)

Read the entire article from Mr. Bloom here: “Could My Tears Forever Flow?”

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I saw this post from Justin Taylor today and just had to draw more attention to Bob Kauflin’s story of his battle with darkness and depression. I remember being at this conference and hearing what Kauflin shared live, being in tears afterwards. It was definitely something that stuck with me and I have recounted it on more than one occasion to others. The thought that “you don’t feel hopeless enough” is such a powerful and profound application of the gospel and has given me pause many times to ask myself: “Am I hoping in myself here or in my Savior?”

The story was published in The Power of Words and the Wonder of God (pp. 149-151) but you can actually watch or listen to the full Q&A at Desiring God. Please read Bob’s story below or listen to it and let yourself be encouraged that though our sin is terrible, Jesus’ love goes deeper for us than we can imagine. The darkness will not last forever.

I helped plant a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1991. I began to feel increasing anxiety at different times when we first planted the church. Then in January of 1994 my wife and I were at a couple’s house for dinner, and I cracked. My life fell apart. Mentally I had no connection with what I was doing, no connection with the past, no connection with the future. I didn’t know why I existed. These were the thoughts that went through my brain. That began a period of maybe three years where I battled constant hopelessness. I would wake up each morning with this thought: “Your life is completely hopeless,” and then I would go from there. It was a struggle just to make it through to each step of the day. The way I made it through was just to think, What am I going to do next? What will I do? I can make it to there.

It was characterized by panic attacks. For the first six months I battled thoughts of death. I’d think about an event that was three months away: Why am I thinking about that? I’m going to be dead by then. I had feelings of tightness in my chest, buzzing and itching on my arms, buzzing on my face. It was a horrible time. And in the midst of that I cried out to God, and I certainly talked to the pastor that I served with and other pastors that I knew—good friends—trying to figure out what in the world was going on with my life.

Five or six children at that time, a fruitful life, a fruitful ministry. And this is what I discovered: although I’d been a Christian for twenty-two years (since 1972) I was driven by a desire to be praised by men. And I wasn’t succeeding. When you plant a church, you find out that there are a lot of people who don’t agree with you. People who came to plant the church left. All of that assaulted my craving to be admired and praised and loved and worshiped and adored and applauded. God, I believe, just took his hand from me and said, “Okay, you handle this your way.” I knew the gospel, but what I didn’t know was how great a sinner I was. I thought the gospel I needed was for pretty good people, and that wasn’t sufficient to spare me from the utter hopelessness I felt during that time.

I would read Scripture. It didn’t make sense to me. It didn’t affect me. I remember lying at bed at times just reciting the Lord’s Prayer to myself over and over and over, hoping that would help. I couldn’t sleep; then at times all I wanted to do was sleep. I remember saying this early on: “God, if you keep me like this for the rest of my life but it means that I will know you better, then keep me like this.” That was the hardest prayer I’ve ever prayed.

During that time I read an abridged version of John Owen’s Sin and Temptation and Jerry Bridges’ The Discipline of Grace.

About a year into the process I talked to a good friend, Gary Ricucci, whom I am now in a small group with at Covenant Life Church. I said, “Gary, I feel hopeless all the time.”

He said, “You know, Bob? I think your problem is that you don’t feel hopeless enough.”

I don’t know what I looked like on the outside, but on the inside I was saying, “You are crazy. You are crazy. I feel hopeless.”

He said, “No, if you were hopeless, you would stop trusting in yourself and rely completely on what Jesus Christ accomplished for you.”

That was the beginning of the way out. And I remember saying to myself literally hundreds of times—every time these feelings of hopelessness and panic and a desire to ball up in a fetal position would come on me—“I feel completely hopeless because I am hopeless, but Jesus Christ died for hopeless people, and I’m one of them.”

Over time I began to believe that. And today when I tell people that Jesus is a great Savior, I believe it, because I know that he saved me. That’s where my joy comes from. My joy comes from knowing that at the very bottom, at the very pit of who I am, it is blackness and sin, but the love and grace of Jesus goes deeper.

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If you have been following this blog for very long, you have likely figured at least one thing: I gravitate towards the Old Testament. From Jacob to Ahab to Job, I consistently get more encouragement from my time in the OT. I see real life there. I see the gospel and the foreshadowing of Jesus everywhere. I identify with sinners like Judah. I see hope for God to use me in the life of a man like Jonah. I grieve and learn with Job in his suffering and loss and wrestling with who this God really is. So when I saw this post from Tyler Kenney at Desiring God, I just had to highlight it and draw attention to it. Tyler’s thoughts:

It has been my experience, in talking with fellow evangelicals, that many of us are quick to equate the Old Testament to mean little more than what the Pharisees thought it meant in Jesus’ day. It is a book of Jewish religion, and if there is any Christian doctrine in its pages, it is veiled to the reader who hasn’t first become acquainted with the New Testament.

We tend the view the OT as outdated and not useful anymore. It’s too confusing; I don’t have to obey any of Leviticus anymore anyway, right? What relevance would 1st and 2nd Kings be to me? We’re not a nation anymore and besides, I would never do what those kings did and let all that happen. Ezekiel? Way too hard to understand.

So why not skip the OT altogether and just stick with the New?

That would make sense if mere doctrinal information is all we are after. If all we want from our Bibles is to learn Christian dogma in its most developed form, reading the NT alone would probably be sufficient. It practically teaches every doctrine covered by the OT, and then of course it adds some crucial material of its own.

But we want more from Scripture than just a systematic theology, don’t we? There’s a reason we don’t settle for catechisms and dissertations in our devotional lives. We want faith and hope and encouragement and love, not merely a catalogue of things we ought to believe. And how do we get those things?

How often is the Old Testament preached on in our churches? (The last 2 months, actually, in my church!) Most folks I know have not even read the entire OT and tend to avoid it. There’s definitely something to be said for understanding the New Testament and the gospel. But isn’t sin still sin? We tend to say that the God of the OT is different and harsher and more condemning? Really? Who talked more about hell and eternal punishment and gnashing of teeth? That’s right, Jesus, in the New Testament! The OT is full of seemingly harsh physical punishments and consequences but the NT highlights the even scarier doctrine of hell.

But there’s no grace in the Old Testament! Really? There’s no grace in how God blesses and pursues men like Jacob and Ahab? Take a closer look at Ahab’s life, a man proclaimed the most evil king ever. Take a look at Job’s life even and recognize how in the OT, God is still the same God who wants relationship with us, wants us to be satisfied in Him, and will eventually crush all sin by taking the punishment and guilt on Himself. Maybe His glorious grace is not completely or fully revealed there in the Old Testament, but it’s there. Look for it. The people of the OT were real. Those things actually happened. Read it that way.

The more I read the OT, the more I see how indispensable it is for fostering the encouragement and faith I need to thrive in my walk with God. And my challenge to you in writing this post is that you would approach the OT as a complete, competent, and relevant work for you in its own right.

The OT is not a deflated sail that needs NT air to get moving. Sure, there is more revelation beyond Malachi, and yes, we shouldn’t try to just forget the NT when reading the prophets. But let’s not use what we know from the apostles to reinterpret or silence what the prophets themselves have to say to us. They were writing for us in the first place, you know (1 Peter 1:12).

Don’t fear the Old Testament. Read it. Process it. See His steadfast love there. See people not that different from you and me there. Most of all see His glorious grace there.

Read Tyler Kenney’s full post here: “Thoughts on Evangelical Neglect of the Old Testament”

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I saw this posted today on the Desiring God blog and was so encouraged by what Paul Tripp had to say, I felt I needed to call special attention to it.

If you’re confused about what God’s agenda is in your life, or if it doesn’t always seem like his promises are being fulfilled, then this strange little prayer from Psalm 51 is helpful and clarifying. In his psalm of repentance after his sin against God, Bathsheba, and Uriah, David writes this provocative little prayer, “Let the bones that you have broken rejoice.” What in the world is he talking about and how in the world can it give perspective and hope to you and me?

Let me begin to answer with a personal confession. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I have a low tolerance for difficulty. I confess that I am a project-oriented person. I tend to have a specific agenda for each day. I awake knowing exactly what I want to accomplish and what a successful day will look like. I don’t want to have to deal with interruptions or obstacles. I want the people, circumstances and locations to willingly submit to my sovereignty and participate in my plan. All of this means that it’s counterintuitive for me to view difficulty as something beneficial. I have little time or tolerance for “broken bones.”

But I have a problem. My Redeemer is the redeemer of broken bones. Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Paul, what in the world are you talking about?” Well, here it is. “Broken bones” is a physical word picture for the pain of redemption.

I don’t like being uncomfortable and I certainly don’t view difficulty as a fantastic thing most of the time, seeing it as a benefit!

We very rapidly forget or ignore the powerfully addicting dangers of sin and think we can step over God’s boundaries without personal and moral cost. We think we are stronger than we really are and wiser than we actually prove to be. We assess that we have character, discipline and strength that we don’t really have. So God, in the beauty of his redeeming love, will “break our bones.” He will bring us through difficulty, suffering, want, sadness, loss and grief in order to ensure that we are living in pursuit of the one thing that each of us desperately needs—him.

God will not let us be satisfied with anything else but Him and because He is our loving, perfect, caring Father, He will shepherd us towards the right satisfaction, that is, in Him.

God hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t turned his back on you. He isn’t punishing you in anger. He surely isn’t withholding the grace that he has promised from you. No, you’re receiving grace, but it’s grace that is willing to break bones in order to capture and transform your heart. This grace is unrelenting. This grace has no intention of giving up. This grace will not be satisfied with the status quo. This grace does not get discouraged. It will never compromise. It will never become bitter or cynical. This is loving, patient, perseverant, powerful grace.

God does not forget us. He does not fall asleep and just let our lives turn to wreckage. He is always at work. He is always after your heart. His grace does not give up! Read the rest here.


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