Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why Did Jesus Come?

For the Christmas season, I had the privilege of preaching four sermons on why Jesus came.
1. Jesus Came to Shepherd His Sheep
2. Jesus Came to Testify to the Truth
3. Jesus Came to Fulfill God's Word
4. Jesus Came to Glorify the Father
Click here to listen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Read a Whole Bible Book at One Sitting?

Have you ever read an entire book of the Bible in one sitting?
Now obviously I'm thinking of something slightly longer than Haggai (48 verses) or 2 John (13 verses!). More like Mark (16 chapters) or 1 Corinthians (16 chapters).
I admit that there are several reservations one might have to doing this: I don’t have the time, there’s no way that can really be done or even that it doesn’t seem very devotional or reverential. I would like to suggest brief responses to each reservation, and then exhort you to just do it!
I don’t have time: this might be true. Many of us are terribly busy (maybe too busy?). But if it were only an hour of your life, wouldn’t this be a really profitable way to spend an hour?
There’s no way it can really be done: this also might be true. The whole book of Psalms might require a full workday of sitting to complete! But the gospel of John can be done in about an hour, if you read at a fairly steady clip.
It doesn’t seem very reverential or devotional: this, too, might be true. It seems to me, though, that if you set out to read with a heart of faith, with joyful dependence on the Holy Spirit to guide your reading, that even a fast-paced read through of Romans (maybe 45 minutes?) or a quick flight through Deuteronomy (1.5 to 2 hours?) can be done with genuine devotion.
I just read through the gospel of John in about 55 minutes, reading very quickly. I wanted to get a good feel for the overall flow as I prepare to preach, Lord willing, from chapter 12 on Christmas Day. I definitely saw things in a different light by reading the whole thing in one sitting.
How about giving it a try? And for the really adventurous person, you could accompany such a reading with Mark Dever’s two books overviewing each book of the Bible. Tolle lege! (Take up and read!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Forbearance: a Neglected Act of Mercy

I thought this statement from Dave Harvey was insightful and helpful:
Maybe you didn’t know this, but the Bible gives you a special privilege in dealing with sin committed against you. It’s called forbearance. It means that you can bring love into play in such a way that you can cut someone free from their sin against you—without them even knowing or acknowledging what they’ve done! Forbearance is an expression of mercy that can cover both the big sins of marital strife and the small sins of marital tension. And let’s face it; small sins are the fuel for most marital blazes.
But he offers a word of caution, too:
Forbearance doesn’t mean we tuck sin away for another time…In forbearance, we know (or at least suspect) we have been sinned against, but we actually make a choice to overlook the offense and wipe the slate clean, extending a heart attitude of forgiveness and treating the (apparent) sin as if it never happened. Proverbs 19:11 tells us it is a “glory to overlook an offense.” Forbearance is preemptive forgiveness, freely and genuinely bestowed.
I highly recommend the book where this teaching resides, When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jesus in the Old Testament

In my study for my sermon on Psalm 24, I came across this very helpful principle for interpreting the Psalms (and really, all of the Old Testament). It comes from Derek Kidner’s commentary on the Psalms:
When ‘he opened their minds to understand the scriptures’ (Luke 24:45), it was with special reference to their Messianic content. ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.’ Although Luke 24 gives few details of this instruction, the rest of the New Testament shows how the apostles unanimously understood it.
So Jesus showed that every part of the Old Testament has “Messianic content.” In other words, every bit of it points to Jesus. That is how we read/interpret/teach/study the Old Testament: by looking for its Messianic content.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Got a Pure Heart?

Here is a link to my sermon today from Psalm 24. We must celebrate our risen King of Glory, Jesus!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Good Word for Leaders of Any Kind

Moses pleaded with God to go with the people of Israel (Ex. 33:15-16) even though they had sinned (Ex. 32). Douglas Stuart makes this very helpful note on God-centered leadership in his commentary on Exodus:
Moses showed himself once again the servant of God’s revealed, clearly established purposes rather than someone who just wanted to be in charge or someone who wanted his job for its inherent prestige.
This MUST be the attitude of any leader. But it is especially true for pastors.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Scripture is...

I am always helped by reminders of what the Bible actually is. This quote from Alec Motyer in The Message of Exodus is excellent:
Scripture is the Word of God in the words of God, accurately reflecting the mind of God and infallibly revealing the ways of God.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

To Live is Christ

From Frank Thielman's comments on Phillipians 1:21 in his commentary on Philippians in the NIVAC series:
Paul's relationship with Christ was so close that his entire existence derived its meaning from his Lord (emphasis added).
Lord Jesus, may I grow that close to you as well!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to Establish God's Kingdom on Earth

According to T. D. Alexander in the book From Eden to the New Jerusalem:
By living in obedience to Christ, his disciples participate in the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. This kingdom is not restricted by national boundaries, but is gradually expanding to fill the whole earth. Yet, although this divine kingdom continues to grow, with more and more people acknowledging the supreme sovereignty of God, many of the earth's inhabitants defiantly refuse to enthrone God as their Lord.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our #1 Problem

I thought this was a super helpful description of humanity's #1 problem: sin. From T.D. Alexander's book From Eden to the New Jerusalem:
To appreciate the necessity of atonement, we must grasp clearly that God is not indifferent to our moral thoughts and behaviour. On the contrary, his holy nature is deeply offended by such things. As a perfect God, he cannot ignore anything evil. The smallest lie is offensive to the One who is truth. The tiniest feeling of animosity towards another person is repulsive to the One who is love. Due to his holy and perfect nature God cannot turn a blind eye to perverse human behaviour as if it does not matter.
We also need to appreciate that due to our own perversity, we do not realize fully how objectionable our imperfections are to God. If we contemplate our shortcomings and failures at all, we merely dismiss them as something natural; this is part of our human nature--we are all like this.
Yet, in truth, our imperfections are anything but natural.
I realize that this is anything but "pleasant Saturday morning reading," but the truth isn't always smooth and sweet. But even as I say that, the gospel is sweet because in it we hear of the solution to our #1 problem: the atoning death of Jesus. Praise God for the good news that tells me I can be perfectly forgiven, and made perfectly clean because "Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Cor. 5:7).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hope for Years to Come

I was humbled to get to serve my church this morning by preaching 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. Click here for the audio.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Scripture: 100% Human + 100% Divine

This is a very instructive quote from Charles Hodge (1797-1878) when he explains why Paul's personality shines through in 2 Corinthians:
The grace of God in conversion does not change the natural character of its subjects, but accommodates itself to all their peculiarities of disposition and temperament. And the same is true with regard to the influence of the Spirit in inspiration.
It is an illuminating quote because many who doubt the trustworthiness of Scripture say that there is no way it can be God's words when there is so much "human-ness" all over it. Yet Hodge asserts that God uses the particular "disposition and temperament" of each author to say exactly what He wants to say.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Links for HBC students on money and time

I mentioned to HBC students a couple of helpful worksheets on budgeting your money, and managing your time. And I promised I would give a link to each. Here they are:

Money (make sure you add a giving/tithe category!)


As an FYI, the time worksheet called "Assessing my Priorities" is from the booklet called Priorities: Mastering Time Management by James C. Petty

They say Christianity is a crutch...

People often say that Christianity is a crutch. Their meaning is that only weak people embrace it, because they need it; they’re not strong enough.

This is false. But the reason it’s false is because it simply doesn’t go far enough! Jonathan Leeman says Christianity, true faith, is actually more like a defibrillator! You know what I’m talking about? Those things that doctors use when a patient’s heart stops beating? They hold them up in the air, wait till it’s charged, and shout, “Clear!”

Leeman says this in his great little book Reverberation. His point is that our hearts are far worse off than just needing a crutch. A crutch is for when you sprain your ankle roller-skating in P.E. But a defibrillator is for when your heart is not beating. It needs new life.

This is what we need more than anything: new hearts. Jesus said in Mark 7, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality” and a whole long list of other sins. My pastor, Tim White, preached a clear, helpful message on this text recently, which I highly recommend.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you give life to lifeless hearts through your precious blood.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Evangelical Superstitions?

I love how Carl Trueman writes and thinks.

I find him both helpfully provocative and solidly biblical in his writing. The provocative side of his writing often broaches topics that really need to be addressed, yet often go either neglected or ignored, largely because they are not all that pleasant to think about. In a new post at the Reformation 21 blog, he is at it again. Trueman points out some Roman Catholic religious practices that Protestants would scorn, and shows that there is a conceptual similarity to some evangelical practices that should receive equal scorn. Here is one example:
What I do now believe, however, is that evangelicalism has its own set of fetishes which are also superstitious and just as potentially harmful. Evangelicals too imbue objects with a power which they do not possess. Celebrity conference speakers would be one such category. Few conference speakers are actually any better than many unknown men who faithfully fill pulpits in unknown churches week by week; but the evangelical culture ascribes to them great power. That is why people pay to go and hear them and would often rather talk about hearing them than about the unknown local man who faithfully ministers to them every Sunday. Aesthetics is another. Some evangelicals seem to think that there is a peculiarly sanctifying, protective power involved in dressing their daughters in denim pinnies and their sons in plaid shirts; or, on the other side of the evangelical world, wearing black, having rather short haircuts and engaging in acts of body piercing.
I recommend the rest of the post, as well as many other things that Trueman writes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lost Our Grip?

Have you lost your grip on "justification by faith alone apart from any works of our own"? Thabiti suggests that we have done this when we pile guilt on ourselves for the lack of prayer in our lives. Wow.

Check it out.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Lord's Supper: How Could We?

Helpful thoughts on the Lord's Supper:
A quote from Calvin's Institutes, found in the December 2010 edition of the Banner of Truth magazine, on our worthiness to take the Lord's Supper:

Therefore, this is the worthiness – the best and only kind we can bring to God –
to offer our vileness (and so to speak) our unworthiness to him so that we might be lifted up by him; to accuse ourselves so that we may be justified by him;
moreover, to aspire to that unity which he commends to us in his Supper; and, as he makes all of us one in himself, to desire one soul, one heart, one tongue for all…
The key question:
How could we, needy and bare of all good, befouled with sins, half-dead, eat the Lord’s body worthily?
I love the answer:
Rather, we shall think that we, as being poor, come to a kindly giver; as sick, to a physician; as sinners, to the Author of righteousness; finally, as dead, to him who gives us life. We shall think that the worthiness, which is commended by God, consists chiefly in faith, which reposes all things in Christ, but nothing in ourselves.

HT: 9 Marks

Friday, February 4, 2011

Christ the Savior Takes on Depression

Tony Reinke posts each Friday on letters from John Newton. Today he tells about Newton's friend Joshua Symonds, who struggled daily with depression-like tendencies.

Newton told Symonds that he was thinking too little of Christ's power to save. Newton thus challenged Symonds and us to look to Christ, look to his gospel constantly. I like this quote:
You have not, you cannot have, anything in the sight of God, but what you derive from the righteousness and atonement of Jesus. If you could keep him more constantly in view, you would be more comfortable. He would be more honored.…Let us pray that we may be enabled to follow the apostle’s, or rather the Lord’s command by him, Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice [Philippians 4:4]. We have little to rejoice in ourselves, but we have right and reason to rejoice in him.

Click HERE to read the whole thing.