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Another Reminder November 30, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
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Joe,

Thanks for keeping the ball rolling today, brother.  I don’t have too much to say right now, but I think it is always beneficial to post these stories.  We forget so quickly what Christianity produces in the rest of the world:

INDIA Faithful Christian Worker Killed – Compass Direct
Two unidentified militants recently killed a Christian convert from Islam on a busy road in Mamoosa village in the terror-stricken state of Jammu and Kashmir. Bashir Ahmed Tantray, a 50-year-old engineer, was shot dead apparently by Islamist militants as he stood at a busy bus stand near his parents’ house. Tantray, who had accepted Christianity about a decade ago and had been an active Christian worker ever since, is survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons. A local Christian source said. “There is no doubt among the people, both Christian and Muslim, here that he was killed because of his identity as a Christian worker.” John 16:1-3

Larry

Thinking Deep to Love Deep November 30, 2006

Posted by Joe in Random Musings.
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Lar,

I definitely liked that comic. I didn’t know you were into the comics section of the newspaper. I am thinking you aren’t, but it’s all good. Although I did get a kick out of that short comic strip, a serious thought did cross my mind (serious dude that I am). The thought was simply that the comic strip represents many Christians–indeed, too many Christians.

The young man responds to the question by saying simply, “Too deep.” Now, that is funny for a comic strip, but in the real life it is by no means a good thing. We live in something of an anti-intellectual age today. And this anti-intellectualism has most surely invaded the church. People (sadly even leaders) try to say that we need more love rather than doctrine. The disturbing thing about such a comment is that it is misleading, for the reality is that you can’t separate the two. Love without accurate theological convictions regarding sin and the Savior (to name a central few) is mere surface benevolence. Without a desire to point people to Jesus, the true Jesus revealed in Scripture (which requires doctrine of course!), how can we do anyone any real good? Doctrinal convictions must serve to stir us to service–and not just any service, but service that points people to the Savior.

Anyhow, back to that question of free will and predestination. Some might ask: why does it matter? I could give many reasons, but I believe the central reason why such a huge question matters is because the tough answers to that huge question serve to reveal our Huge God. In particular the doctrine of election serves such an end. Indeed, it serves the end of love, but revealing more of the One we ought to love with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. When we begin to see and revere the God who holds every human destiny in His hand, our hearts should enlarge to the farthest reaches of the earth and break for all who do not know and love and enjoy Him through Jesus Christ. To miss out on the pleasure of admiring the free, sovereign, gracious, infinitely full God as revealed in the doctrine of election is to miss out on the power that comes from admiring such a One. Indeed, it is to miss out on the Source of all true love. For love to others apart from love to God is empty and shallow. True love does what is best for others. And if what is best for others is Jesus Christ, there must be an accurate knowledge and admiration for His Person. Such knowledge comes through sound doctrine.

I’m shooting from the hip here as you might be able to tell, but I am confident you know what I am trying to say (along with a few others who know me well). I hope the rest of our readers can understand me as well and most importantly, understand that my aim is not to lift up doctrine as an end, but an ordained means to the greatest end of loving and delighting in the Most High God. He is the One we live for brother. May we study with a view towards igniting the fires of our hearts. May the Spirit come and grant such mercies.

Thinking with a view towards overwhelming admiration of our great God,

Joe

Comic Relief November 30, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

I am a bit busy today so I’m not sure how much discussion there will be, but I thought you would get a kick out of this one!

Larry

Kicking Things off with A.W. November 30, 2006

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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Lar,
Here’s a Tozer quote that might help us kick off our discussion today.

“No sin is private. It may be secret but it is not private.

It is a great error to hold, as some do, that each man’s conduct is his own business unless his acts infringe on the rights of others. “My liberty ends where yours begins,” is true, but that is not all the truth. No one ever has the right to commit an evil act, no matter how secret. God wills that men should be free, but not that they be free to commit sin….

Coming still closer, we Christians should know that our unchristian conduct cannot be kept in our own back yard. The
evil birds of sin fly far and influence many to their everlasting loss. The sin committed in the privacy of the home
will have its effect in the assembly of the saints. The minister, the deacon, the teacher who yields to temptation in
secret becomes a carrier of moral disease whether he knows it or not. The church will be worse because one member sins. The polluted stream flows out and on, growing wider and darker as it affects more and more persons day after day and year after year.”

Amen and Amen.  Let us remember these words and fight for holiness by the grace of God, knowing that what is best for our own soul is also best for everyone else.  Holiness of life is a blessing to all.

Striving for holiness with you,

Joe

Thursday Morning Prayer November 30, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer, Quotes.
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You said, “ask and you will receive whatever you need.”
You said, “pray and I’ll hear from heaven,
and I’ll heal your land.”

You said Your glory will fill the earth
like water the sea.
You said, “lift up your eyes;
the harvest is here, the kingdom is near.”

You said, “ask and I’ll give the nations to you.”
oh Lord, that’s the cry of my heart.
distant shores and the islands will see

Lyrics from the song, “You Said.”  May these words truly express the desire of our souls!

Larry

The Truth Behind the Story November 29, 2006

Posted by Joe in Random Musings, Scripture Meditation.
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Lar,

That last link was definitely scary, but isn’t it simply an object lesson of what we already know from Scripture? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The news really does give us a plain picture of the human heart. It is ashame so few people really get the truth behind the news–that the human race is desperately in need of the Savior. Well, actually many probably read the news and think that ‘those people’ need a Savior. They fail to look at themselves and realize how the news reveals their own depravity.

I read Jesus’ comments in Luke 13 this morning. They seem fitting for this topic. You know the story, but it is worth retelling, of course.

“There were some present at that very time who told him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders that all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).

Imagine the people who brought the news to Jesus. They probably thought that Jesus would denounce Pilate, but Jesus turns around and calls them to account! What a way to talk! What a way to draw a crowd huh? And this wasn’t an isolate incident we know. Jesus hears the news and says, so what does this reveal about you? Look at yourselves. Get the right story behind the story. Repent before your day of judgment comes.

And isn’t the Lord still sending this message in almost every news story we read. Look at yourselves. Get the story behind the story. Repent before your day of judgment comes. May the Lord grant us eyes to see.

I am thankful that you see like this brother. Pray for me, that I might point the finger at myself before I do so at others (which also needs to be done, but that is for another post!).

Trying to read the news in a way that honors our great God and humbles my own arrogant soul,
Joe

Frightening Stuff November 29, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

Yesterday you posted a link to Between Two Worlds about the decreasing birth rate. In light of this story, maybe it would be better for people not to have children than to parent like this!

Larry

Seeking His Presence November 29, 2006

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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Lar,

Watching the sermon that I just mentioned in my last post reminded me of this quote by A.W. Tozer in his classic book The Pursuit of God.

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.”

I love that quote and I am praying for you brother, that you might be a man who carries out his exposition in such a way and with such a heart that your listeners might be stirred to seek and find God. And as you mentioned, the greatest thing you can do is to first possess that sweet knowledge of His Person for yourself. I trust the Lord is hearing and will continue to hear my requests.

Seeking the sweetness of soul that is found only in Christ,

Joe

“Every Day is 9/11” November 29, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes.
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Joe,

Thanks for posting that sermon from Paul David Washer; it is certainly a message that is well worth the hour to watch. As a man who God has called to preach the Word, seeing his heart for those young people was every bit as convicting to me as the words that came out of this mouth. As I watched the message, I couldn’t help but think of a quote that I also read on Anthony’s blog. If we live out what Paul David Washer calls Christians to in that message, then surely this will be the effect:

“In America, you had 9-11 once. For Christians, everyday is a 9-11.”

-Gataneh Gataneh, on the suffering church in parts of Africa. For them, everyday is tragic. For them,
everyday they see many deaths.

“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

Larry

A Prophetic Word November 29, 2006

Posted by Joe in Links, Random Musings.
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Lar,

I am hesitant to post after your last word, because I know how much everyone needs to hear that! The call to love Christ is sadly, so many times assumed that we forget all about its centrality and fail to experience it ourselves. The simple conviction behind much of Seek Him Ministries is simply that we cannot give what we do not possess ourselves. Sadly, too often we find Christians running around doing a thousand different religious things, with no real love for God, with no real passion for His Person. Many, in fact, might not be saved to begin with–which, of course, points to another problem relating to our understanding of the gospel and most importantly, what the Lord does in our lives when Christ is truly received.

I could say more, but the reason I have been a bit delayed in posting this morning is because I just viewed a message by a man named Paul Washer. I’m not sure if you have heard of him or not, but a mutual friend and brother of ours (thank you to Anthony) send me the link to this sermon. It is prophetic and another aspect of what I long to see Seek Him Ministries be about. Paul was speaking at a youth event. You can sense his burden for those to whom he spoke. He stood up and preached like one should preach, unashamed and accurate. His call is one that we all need to hear. And most importantly, his heart is one that we all need to have.

The message itself is an hour long. I don’t point people to listen to too many messages, but this is one that I would encourage everyone not simply to listen to, but to view. You need to see him weep in prayer. You need to see the heart from which this difficult (and prophetic) message was delivered. He is a burdened man. And O how we need more burdened preachers! May the Lord, in His mercy, make us such men and raise up many more!

Let me know your thoughts. No one will regret the hour. May the Lord grant us the mercy to receive such a message and repent for the ‘Christianity’ now in vogue. And may He send His Spirit to revive us again!

Longing for an outpouring from above,

Joe

To Will One Thing November 29, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Joe,

As you know, I preached this past Sunday on Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” What a rich promise this is, and how important it becomes then to know what is the purity of heart which Jesus says is prerequisite to seeing Him in glory.

In the words of Kent Hughes, it means “a heart that does not bring mixed motives and divided loyalties to its relationship with God. It is a heart of singleness in devotion to God – pure, unmixed devotion.” That means you do not use God to get something else that you really want. God is not first and foremost precious because He gives us the things we really want, like spouses and children and houses and cars; He is precious for who He is, and we approach Him and worship Him for that reason alone. Even if He should strip us of all our earthly goods, the one who is pure in heart still has cause to rejoice so long as he has God.

19th century philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard wrote a book called ‘Purity of heart is to Will One Thing’. When that ‘one thing’ is loving and delighting in Jesus Christ above all else, then we have pure hearts. I think that is what Jesus is talking about when He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). The greatest commandment is to be pure-hearted in your love for God. Love Him not with part of your heart. That would be impurity.

The same purity is described in Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. The pure in heart are the ones who pursue God with unmixed, single-minded, whole-hearted devotion. Those are the ones who will see God.

That is why Seek Him Ministries exists, does it not? To see the hearts of people become so ravished with the riches of Christ’s glory that He is the ‘One Thing’ that we want, and all else is rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Him. But we will not spread that passion brother, if it does not grip us!

Let us be people who will one thing!

“17Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Larry

Wednesday Morning Prayer November 29, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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“11God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” (Psalm 7:11)

You are righteous and holy, and Your eyes cannot even look upon impurity (Hab. 1:13).  Yet the world around us spirals downward to further and further godlessness with every passing day.  The name of Christ is reproached and belittled, and You patiently endure hundreds of millions of people who were created for Your glory yet who live in total rebellion against You.  Guard our hearts, Lord, from any thoughts, attitudes, or conduct that would bring You indignation.  May our lives be a fragrant aroma to You.  And grip us, Lord, to feel indignation over the things that bring You indignation.  As the psalmist wrote, “Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.” (Psalm 119:53).  Make our hearts so united to Yours that the very things which grieve You would grieve us as well.  Forbid that we should be apathetic toward those who slander and mock Your glory.

Larry

A Shocking ‘Job’ Description November 28, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Joe,

I’ll try to give that post from Between Two Worlds a look tomorrow.  But I was thinking of something else that sort of went along with the Bible memorization post from earlier today.

Whenever I look through the ads in the back of Christianity Today, I am struck by the churches who are seeking pastoral help. I wonder if a church ever advertised a leadership position with this job description:

“9For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13)

Don’t you think it should be required of all people graduating from seminaries with a Master’s in Divinity to have this chapter of Scripture memorized? How many churches there are who are floundering in liberalism and spiritual weakness, because pastors care more about being liked than they do about heralding the truth, no matter the consequences?

Pray for me, brother. I have tasted very little of what the Apostle experienced daily. But I long to be driven not by the opinion of man, but by the gospel of Christ. And when we do that, we may well become the scum of the world. I want to be so enthralled by the gospel that I am willing to bear anything for His sake. Yet I know my heart is still desperately weak. So pray for me, that my heart would be united to fear and treasure Him above all the comforts of this world.

Larry

Interesting Post November 28, 2006

Posted by Joe in Links.
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Lar,

Here’s a post over at Between Two Worlds that I found interesting.   As we know, the Lord is behind it working all things according to the counsel of His will.  The numbers he gives also speak volumes, in my opinion, about how self-centered we have become.  I know that isn’t the only reason why people don’t have children, but I do believe that it is a big one.  If you get a chance to check it out, I would appreciate your thoughts.

Peace,

Joe

Bible Memorization November 28, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Recommendations.
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Joe,

I know you will agree that one of the keys to deepening our pursuit of Jesus is Bible memorization. I don’t know of any discipline that has been more valuable to me in my years as a believer than the discipline of memorizing the Word of God. In this short audio clip, John Piper talks about a strategy for memorizing verses. In addition to the method that Piper explains, I would recommend reviewing the verse you memorize four or five times throughout your day. I find that no matter how many times I can recite the verse when I learn it, if I don’t run it through my mind a couple of times that day after I have learned it, then I am likely to forget a word here and there.

A couple of months ago I decided to incorporate 10-15 minutes of my morning devotions to memorizing Scripture and, by God’s grace, I recently finished memorizing the book of 2 Timothy. I believe these final words from Paul to a young pastor will bear fruit in my life and ministry for years to come.

So prayerfully consider what passages of Scripture need to be burned on your hearts, and start to discipline yourselves to get it done! I trust that for any who have the desire to do it, God will supply all the grace needed to hide the Word in your hearts.

Larry

Tuesday Morning Prayer November 28, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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“15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Father, daily our lives are filled with a busyness that makes seeking first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness a difficult reality.  Yet You call us to watch carefully how we spend our time, and to make the best use of it, knowing that the days are evil.  Every day thousands of people step into an eternity of everlasting joy or everlasting woe.  The stakes are high in how we live today.  And though our lives are often busy, we always make time for the things that are important to us.  We always find the time to eat; how much more then ought to we to find the time to labor for the bread that never perishes.  Help us, Lord, to see the unique opportunities that You set before us to shine Your light into a dark world.

Larry

Quick Reminder November 27, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

There have been a couple of heavy thoughts thrown out there today, so I thought I would give people a chance to catch up by posting this short article.  What has the world come to when a man is killed over a $20 bet on a college football game?

It was a reminder to me of the grace that has been shown to me, because apart from the grace of God, I know that I am no better than the murderer.   There was a time when my joy was found in a victory by my favorite sports team, and I praise God that He has given me something infinitely better to live for than a game.

I am grateful also for you, brother, and for those like you, who work hard to magnify the worth of God by playing ball.  You have always taken hoops seriously, but you have always (or maybe most of the time, you would say?) kept it in the proper perspective.  Whether you eat or drink (or play ball), do all for the glory of God!

Working with you for the bread that endures to eternal life,

Larry

A Lesson from Daniel November 27, 2006

Posted by Joe in Scripture Meditation.
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Lar,

Thanks for that short reflection in your last post. That is a very important truth to learn! I know that it was monumental in transforming my prayer life. I trust it will be the same in many others. In that same vein, I have pasted Daniel’s prayer to the Lord found in Daniel 9. This was during the captivity in Babylon. Verse 2 make it clear that Daniel had been reading Jeremiah and found there the prediction that the captivity would only last for 70 years. So David begins with that word from the Lord and petitions accordingly. But the most important thing to note–that you pointed us to–is the ultimate argument that David makes for why God should hear his prayer. And I would stress that word ultimate because it isn’t until we really begin to feel the weight of that ultimate truth, that our prayers begin to carry some serious weight to them.

I would also add that Daniel’s prayer here in Daniel 9 is a model for us to follow in praying for revival. You have confession of personal and corporate and a petition that is grounded on the ultimate end that God might make known His glory. David and the biblical writers knew that this was the only ultimate thing that carried weight before the Lord of glory, so they petitioned accordingly. The Lord won’t bring revival in our day until we are captured by the same–and thus, pray accordingly. May the Lord grant us such grace!

I know it’s a long passage, but hey, it’s Scripture! What better thing do you have to do than to read Scripture?! Listen and learn and pray for such a heart.

3Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us,[a] by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. 15And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

16″O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord,[b] make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”

For your name’s sake, O Lord, raise up men like Daniel, who intercede for Your people on their knees until you come and act! Make us such men for the sake of Your great name. Rejoice to bring Yourself great glory by using the weak and the foolish to accomplish the will of Your good pleasure. Bring us as Your church back from captivity. Deliver us from our slavery to the comforts of this life and set our mind’s eye on heaven for the sake of Your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen and Amen.

For His glory,

Joe

Lesson in Prayer from Spurgeon and King David November 27, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Charles Spurgeon once preached a sermon on Job 23:3,4 where Job says of God, “O that I knew where I might find Him! That I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before Him and fill my mouth with arguments.” Spurgeon said,

“the ancient saints were given with Job, to ordering their cause before God. As a petitioner coming into court does not come there without thought to state his case on the spur of the moment, but enters into the audience chamber with his suit well prepared, having also learned how he ought to behave himself in the presence of the great one to whom he is appealing, so it is well to approach the seat of the King of Kings as much as possible with premeditation and preparation, knowing what we are about, where we are standing, and what it is which we desire to obtain.”

I believe Spurgeon has something compelling to teach us here, and I had a great illustration of it this morning in my devotions.  Joe, you probably know where I am going with this one, but I think it would be beneficial for other readers of the site.  Today I read Psalm 6; here are the first few verses:

1O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. 2Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. 3My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long? 4Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. 5For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?

Sometimes we read the Bible so casually that we never think about what the Bible is actually saying.  So here are some questions to reflect on:

1. What is David asking God for?

2. What is the ‘argument’ that David makes for why God should answer his prayer?

3. Are there other places in Scripture where the biblical writers pray with this same kind of ground, or argument?

4. How often are your personal prayers grounded in the same argument that David’s is in Psalm 6?

I hope this short reflection is profitable!

Larry

A Good Word for Husbands November 27, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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John Piper wrote this poem for one of his sons on his wedding day. It is a great challenge to us who have been given the precious gift of a wife, to love her as Christ loves the Church. Check it out.

Larry