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Spirit and Truth April 30, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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Lar,

That was a good, solid, ‘Tim Challies-like’ post brother! That may have been your longest ever. But I’m thankful for it b/c it was a good one. In light of that last post, I offer these quotes.

The first is from Ray Orlund Jr.’s book, “When God Comes to Church.” It is a must read on the topic of revival. He writes,

Contemporary evangelicalism tolerates an elusive but coercive antidoctrine atmosphere. It is everywhere but nowhere at the same time–just a vague mood in which one sense that requiring theological justification for our practices, especially when they appear to be working effectively, is rude or even Spirit-quenching. Most Christians would never come out and say that the Bible is a dead book, but too few rejoice in it as the living Word of God. Biblical teaching is dismissed as ‘mere doctrine.’ ‘Doctrine divides,’ we are told. ‘Not doctrine, but power’–that sort of thinking. But what is biblical doctrine? That is simply a formal term for the Bible’s vision of God, the glorious face of God in Christ unveiled before us by the Spirit wiht transforming power (Exod. 33:18 with 34:5-7; 2 Cor. 3:12-4:6). If we want true revival, we will stop disparaging the Word and start exploiting it.

In that quote he emphasizes the need for doctrine, but later on in that chapter (actually, almost immediately after the paragraph I just quoted), he begins to emphasize the great need for the Holy Spirit. He then says,

With the Apostle Paul, we must resolve to exercise fullly trinitarian ministries: not Father, Son, and Holy Scripture, but ‘the testimony about God,’ ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified,’ and ‘the Spirit’s power (1 Cor. 2:1-4). Both Old and New Testaments bear witness to this kind of ministry as God’s own strategy, filled with power for life.

When God attends the preaching of his Word with the powerful breathnings of his Spirit, a decrepit church stands to its feet like a mighty army. God’s Word can kill: ‘Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died’ (Ezek. 11:13). But the Word also enlivens, when accompanied by the Spirit. Weak preaching does not expose failure in the Word, The Word is powerful. Weak preachign only exposes the carnal, superficial undertanding of the preacher and his hearers. The Word is not hte problem; with the Spirit, it is the answer.

That is great stuff isn’t it Lar? I am hopeful it will whet your appetite to read more. For as you know, right doctrine is not enough. We are desperate for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray and preach and blog with that central need in mind!

Praying for the Spirit to come,
Joe

Doctrine, Gospel, Fruit and Apples April 30, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
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Joe,

Yesterday a friend of mine who I have deep respect for said something that concerned me. I know what he meant, and what he meant was true; but what actually came out of his mouth was potentially misleading. Here’s what he said: ‘Preaching doctrine only divides; we need to preach the Gospel.’

I asked him what he meant and he explained his statement. He was addressing a form of evangelism which he has seen which seems to worry more about doctrinal issues than about the receiving of Christ’s saving work on the Cross. In other words, he has seen people sharing with unbelievers who seem more concerned about whether that person speaks in tongues, or whether they are a Baptist or a Methodist or a Presbyterian. When these doctrinal differences take precedence over the Gospel then there is something deeply wrong. This is what my friend was referring to when he said that doctrine will only divide people, but the gospel is what we should focus on.

That being said, the statement ‘Doctrine divides; we must focus on preaching the Gospel’ is a common thing for people to say these days, and many people do not mean what my friend meant. They mean that people really should not worry about ‘doctrine’, but they should only concern themselves with the Gospel. They believe the Church would be a much better place if that’s what happened. There are some serious flaws in that way of thinking. Briefly I want to mention three such flaws:

1) The Gospel divides just as easily as doctrine.

The statement in question seems to imply that while doctrine tends to be divisive (and therefore harmful), the Gospel will unite people. But a look at the New Testament reveals that this is clearly not true. The proclamation of the Gospel will most certainly divide people: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). The word of the cross divides; some receive it as folly, while others receive it as the power and wisdom of God. Jesus Himself said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51). So let us not think that the simple preaching of the message of Jesus is the great unifier, and doctrine divides; Jesus came to bring division.

2) The Gospel can’t be preached without preaching doctrines.

The statement ‘Don’t preach doctrine, just preach the Gospel’ is like someone saying, ‘Don’t eat fruit; eat apples’ (Hence the title of this post). It’s no use telling someone not to eat fruit, but to eat apples, because apples are fruit. If a person eats apples, then he is eating fruit. Likewise, a person cannot preach the Gospel without preaching doctrines: the doctrine of God, and His holiness and righteousness; the doctrine of man as fallen and alienated from God; the doctrine of Christ and His atonement; the doctrine of justification by faith alone. These are all doctrines; and you can’t share the Gospel with someone unless you share doctrine with them. Just like you can’t eat apples without eating fruit. It makes no sense, and so it makes no sense to preach the Gospel without preaching certain doctrines.

3) To the degree that we ignore doctrine, we strive against the desire to save souls through the Gospel.

The person who says, ‘Don’t preach doctrine because it will divide, just preach the Gospel’ is saying this (likely) because of a genuine desire for the salvation of souls. He wants to see people saved, and he wants no unnecessary obstacles to stand in the way of people being saved. But if we ignore doctrine or pass it off as harmful and irrelevant, we destroy the hope of seeing people get saved. That seems to be the argument of Paul in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” This text says that if you want to save yourself and your hearers, do two things: pay close attention to your life, and to your doctrine. So if you don’t care about doctrine, you are manifesting indifference toward people’s salvation and therefore failing to love them.

My friend who made the statement understands these things; but sadly, an increasing number of people in the evangelical church do not understand them. They really believe that doctrine divides, while the Gospel unites, and therefore the pursuit and preaching of ‘doctrine’ (which really only means biblical truth) should be kept to a minimum.

The next time we talk to someone who holds to such an opinion, perhaps these points will help us explain why we cherish doctrine; not as an end in itself, but as a means toward the end of the worldwide hallowing of the name of Jesus through the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen for sinners. For without doctrine, the Church has absolutely nothing to contribute to the world. Again, not because doctrine is an end in itself, but because we cannot properly love people if we do not share the Truth with them.

Larry

Monday Morning Prayer April 30, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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“11For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)

We thank You, Father, for such an awesome promise.  Your name will be great among the nations; there is no question about it.  The knowledge of Your glory will fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea.  And by Your grace, You have created us and called us to take part in that glorious work; to be instruments through which Your glory would spread to the ends of the earth.  Help us, Father, to use our lives for what we were created for.  Forbid that we should go through life in pursuit of our own glory.  Set us free from the sinful absorption with self, and empower us to live today in such a way that Your name and renown would be shown to be great.

Sunday Sermon April 29, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

I know things have been busy for you, but if you have time I think you will enjoy this message from John Piper called, The Gospel for 11-year-olds Plus.  He preached it this past Thursday night at the Children’s Desiring God Conference.  I listened to the message the other day and found it to be a great communication of the Gospel, one of the best I’ve heard from Piper.

Have a good rest of your Sabbath,

Larry

Sunday Morning Prayer April 29, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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“He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Thank You for the reminder today, Father, that though we are great sinners, Christ is a great Savior.  He alone is able to save us to the uttermost, since He has triumphed over death and always lives to make intercession for us.  Consequently, we have freedom and confidence to draw near to You through His blood.  Help us, Father, not to neglect such a great salvation.  Grant us to draw near to You today, through the atoning blood of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pray Until you Pray April 28, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes.
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Lar,

You know I how I like to sound this note. Well, this is probably where I heard it first. Tozer writes,

Dr. Moody Stuart, a great praying man of a past generation, once drew up a set of rules to guide him in his prayers. Among these rules is this one: “Pray till you pray.”…

The habit of breaking off our prayers before we have truly prayed is as common as it is unfortunate. Often the last 10 minutes may mean more to us than the first half hour, because we must spend a long time getting into the proper mood to pray effectively. We may need to struggle with our thoughts to draw them in from where they have been scattered through the multitude of distractions that result from the task of living in a disordered world….

If when we come to prayer our hearts feel dull and unspiritual, we should not try to argue ourselves out of it. Rather, we should admit it frankly and pray our way through. Some Christians smile at the thought of “praying through,” but something of the same idea is found in the writings of practically every great praying saint from Daniel to the present day. We cannot afford to stop praying till we have actually prayed.

There is a great deal of wisdom here brother. I don’t know about you, but it is a rare day that I ‘feel’ like praying. Every morning is a battle, but as I fight–that is, as I pray–the Lord grants grace. May the Lord grant us grace to be men who pray with perseverance!

Praying until I pray,
Joe

Saturday Morning Prayer April 28, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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“1You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 17:1

In the New Testament, You call us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to You.  You do not ask for an ox or a sheep, but for our entire lives to be an act of worship.  Help us, Father, to obey this commandment even in the presentation of our bodies to You.  An animal with any defect or blemish was not acceptable, for You are worthy of only our best.  And so when it comes to our lives, may we give You the firstfruits of our lives, without any defect or blemish.  With our money, our time, our talents and gifts, help us to give You the best of all we have.  And help us to do so knowing that even the best of what we have is given by You.  We can present to You only what already belongs to You.  Make our lives instruments of worship, Father, today and every day.

Reminder April 27, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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From Voice of the Martyrs:

INDIA Christian Beaten, Arrested in Andra Pradesh- VOM Sources/ India Christian Council

  • CHITTOR DISTRICT – On April 11, several Christians were severely beaten by Hindu militants after an evangelistic team returned from distributing gospel tracts in the area. While they were fellowshipping with believers, more than 50 militants attacked them and burnt their literature.
  • HYDERABAD – On April 14, five Christians were arrested for distributing literature and praying for the sick at Gandhi Hospital. On April 15, twenty Christians were attacked by Hindu militants at Bethel Church in Borabanda. Four people were injured, including a three-year-old child. Pray for healing for the injured and ask God to comfort those in prison and their families. Pray Christians in India continue to share Christ with boldness despite their suffering. Acts 4:29

Thinking Hard about God April 27, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes, Random Musings.
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Joe,

One of the most enjoyable parts about our men’s retreat last weekend was the time to talk with brothers around the table at meals and during breaks. I was struck by, and deeply grateful for, how these men were asking tough questions of the Scriptures and seeking to press in deeply to know the Word of God. I was asked questions such as, ‘What is limited atonement?’ ‘In what way was Jesus made perfect in Hebrews 5:9?’ and ‘If God has planned all the details of the universe out so that none can thwart Him, how is He not the doer of evil?’ None of these are easy questions to answer, but I was so happy to hear people asking them.

Not all people think that asking such questions are a good thing. It seems that many people within the Church today are skeptical about pursuing answers to these tough questions. They say that God is infinite and there are mysteries that we just cannot and should not seek to know. They frequently appeal to Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” Or they point to Jesus’ words about becoming like children to enter the Kingdom, and say that theirs is a simple, childlike faith. This is the kind of faith that God values, not the kind that is always seeking to understand the deep and mysterious.

While there is a seed of truth in that thinking, I believe that people who press this image of ‘childlike’ faith are making a big mistake. When Jesus talks about becoming like children, He surely is not saying that we should be simple or naive in our thinking. We know this because Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20).

In the name of childlike simplicity, many people are robbing themselves of the precious joy of beholding more of the glory of our great God and Savior. John Piper describes this situation well with these words, which are more than thirty years old now:

“If we may compare God’s wisdom to a ragged mountain and our growing understanding of it to a slow assent, I do not have the slightest fear that during some midnight meditation I may (by the grace of God) attain some new ridge and all of a sudden find I am on the peak of the mountain with no more cliffs to climb. On the contrary, for every newly attained height of insight there stretches out an ever more glorious panorama of manifold wisdom. And one can only pity the poor souls who, for fear of finding out too much, never approach the sacred mountains but stand off and chirp ironically about how one should preserve and appreciate mystery.”

I especially like that last part: one can only pity the poor soul who, for fear of finding too much glory in the pursuit of God, never approaches His unsearchable riches, but stands far off and talks about the beauty of simplicity and appreciating mystery. There is certainly going to be mystery in the pursuit of God. He is infinitely wise and glorious, and we are not. But let us not, in the name of childlike faith, stand far off from God and never humbly come before Him seeking to search out the glorious mysteries of the Kingdom. For as the rest of Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “…but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Larry

Friday Morning Prayer April 27, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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“1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:1-3)

Father, You have called us to press on to maturity; to move on from being infants in Christ to mature manhood.  Yet without Your enabling power, we can do nothing.  Growth in holiness is something that we must strive for, yet it something that only You can give.  So help us on this day, Father, to be more conformed to the image of Your Son.  Grant us the grace to make tough choices, speak tough words, and crucify the indwelling corruption that remains within us, in order that Christ might be seen and glorified through our lives.

Sweet Providence April 26, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Random Musings.
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Joe,

I know you are on a road trip now and probably haven’t read the quote that I posted earlier today, but as I said I wanted to tell you what has been filling my mind about that quote since I read it.  It’s probably pretty obvious, but I find the providence of God in that whole event beautiful.

We know from Scripture that the lightning lands where God tells it to land: ” He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark” (Job 36:32).  So we know this lightning bolt, however close it actually landed to Luther, was sent by the Almighty.  And the fear that rose up in Luther’s heart in response to that lightning bolt caused him to become a Catholic monk.

And we know what happened in that monastery.  The protestant reformation was born.  It was as Luther studied Romans 1 in that monastery that his eyes were opened to the doctrine of justification by faith, the heartbeat of Christianity.  But had that lightning bolt never struck to scare Luther into the monastery, he wouldn’t have been studying Romans.  It is incredible how God uses the smallest of events to work out His eternal purposes.  Who would have thought that a twenty two year old getting scared into the monastery in 1505 would have such massive implications for the Church in the centuries that followed the event.

But such is the mysterious movement of the Lord.  It reminds me of the hymn by William Cowper:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

In awe of the One who governs the flight of the lightning bolt, the sparrow, and all else in the universe,

Larry

Lightning in Luther’s Life April 26, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes.
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Joe,

As you have been busy in Spain, so too have I been busy here; that accounts for my lack of posting yesterday. I have a break from preaching until the first Sunday in June, but that time is being put to use with a lot of other good things. So this morning I am going to share a quote I read in Sproul’s The Holiness of God, and then this afternoon I will, Lord willing, share why the quote has been meaningful to me over the past couple of days. It’s a quote from Roland Bainton, a church historian and biographer of Martin Luther:

“On a sultry day in July of the year 1505 a lonely traveler was trudging over a parched road on the outskirts of the Saxon village of Sotternheim. He was a young man, short but sturdy, and wore the dress of a university student. As he approached the village, the sky became overcast. Suddenly there was a shower, then a crashing storm. A bolt of lightning rived the gloom and knocked the man to the ground. Struggling to rise, he cried in terror, ‘St. Anne, help me! I will become a monk.’

The man who thus called upon a saint was later to repudiate the cult of saints. He who vowed to become a monk was later to renounce monasticism. A loyal son of the Catholic Church, he was later to shatter the structure of medieval catholicism. A devoted servant of the pope, he was later to identify the popes with Antichrist. For this young man was Martin Luther.”

Truly an amazing story, and one that I had not known until just the other day. I’ll try to get back to you in the afternoon to share with you what I have been thinking about since I read that quote. Until then, let the Blog Nation feel free to chime in with their comments!

Thankful for the cloud of witnesses that has gone before me,

Larry

Thursday Morning Prayer April 26, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge! [1]
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

Psalm 143:7-12

Good Quote April 25, 2007

Posted by Joe in Quotes, Random Musings.
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Lar,

Been a bit busy here the past few days, so blogging has been scarce–and will probably continue to be the rest of the week, b/c I am headed out of town until Saturday. But I did want to share this quote. It comes from the winter edition of “The Journal of Biblical Counseling.” I receive those now and would strongly suggest that you read through them after I am done. Of course, you will have to put up with a good amount of pen marks, because they are great articles! Anyhow, here is the quote.

“…all of us…think, interpret, and draw conclusions about life based on life experiences….we are interpreters. We try to make sense out of our world, ourselves, and our experiences. And we are meant to do so. But it is a second fundamental truth that we cannot accurately make sense of our world without reference to the One who made us and who correctly interprets our world for us. As human beings, we were created to understand life based on what God says about Himself, our world, and ourselves. Without that reference point, we draw faulty conclusions about ourselves, God, and our life experiences. We become the center of our own world and act accordingly.”

There is a great deal of wisdom in that quote. One of the first things that struck me is how this reality points to the great wisdom of how Bible reading actually changes us. That is, the Bible isn’t simply a rule book to follow. It isn’t a manual or book of good sayings. It is a worldview transforming book. That is, it teaches us how we ought to view the world. In the truest sense, it renews our minds. Thus, the most important thing about us is how well we understand the Scriptures. Not as an end in and of itself of course, but as a measuring stick. For our thoughts are only as clear (about everything in life) as they are informed by the Word of God.

Much more could be said. So go ahead and say it brother! I’ll come back with more as well. I also just read a great post that relates perfectly to this topic. I’ll post it sometime later. Until then…

Thankful for the Scriptures,
Joe

Wednesday Morning Prayer April 25, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Prayer.
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Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

The fellowship of Your people is a great blessing, Father, and one that brings You great glory.  This is what Jesus prayed for before His death, that we would be one, in order that you might be known for who You are.  Yet unity among Your people is a rare blessing.  Factions, quarrels, unforgiveness corrupt the bond that Your people ought to share.  Grant us peace, Father, and unity that bears witness to the unsearchable love of Christ.

His Forever April 24, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes.
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Joe,

Not much to write at this moment, and several things on my plate to take care of over the next couple of days, so here are some song lyrics that I’ve been pondering. They’re from a song called His Forever, put out by Sovereign Grace Ministries:

Jesus, friend of sinners
Loved me ’ere I knew Him
Drew me with His cords of love
Tightly bound me to Him
’Round my heart still closely twined
The ties that none can sever
For I am His and He is mine
Forever and forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
A crown of thorns You wore for me
Bruised for my transgressions
Pierced for my iniquities
The wrath of God that I deserved
Was poured out on the Innocent
He took my place, my soul to save
Now I am His forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
I love to tell the story
Redeeming love has been my theme
And will be when in glory
Not death nor life nor anything
Can ever separate me
O love that will not let me go
Yes, I am His forever

End of the Ordinary April 24, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links.
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Joe,

I think you will be blessed by this short article from the World Magazine website.

“The comfort of the ordinary lulls us to a mañana state of mind,” writes Andree Seu. “Then comes Columbine and we are shaken out of it for a week. Then comes Virginia Tech eight years later like the delayed aftershock of an earthquake. The Maker is breaking the beguilement of the ordinary and calling our attention upward.”

Our lives are a vapor, and we ought not to presume that we have another day. It is a sad commentary on my indwelling corruption that it takes the murder of 32 people on a college campus to realize that I ought to send my wife off to work each morning with a hug and a kiss that lets her know how deeply I love her, just in case it’s the last time I ever see her in this life.

May God help us to number our days rightly, that we might make the most of our ever-so-short time on this earth.

Larry

Tuesday Morning Prayer April 24, 2007

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For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:24)

What frightening words these ought to be, Father.  You are a consuming fire, and will destroy all adversaries who have not ascribed to You the glory that You are worthy of.  You are a jealous God, eager to get glory from all Your creatures, and warning us that eternal judgment is coming to all who love other things more than You.  Help us to feel the weight of our sin, Lord.  Open our eyes, that we might see how badly we have desecrated Your Law, and experience true brokenness over our sin.  And when we have seen how Your anger is aroused against us, help us to marvel afresh at the glorious cross of our Lord Jesus, where Your wrath was absorbed by Him who had no sin, so that in Him we might be clothed in His righteousness.  We praise You, that Your jealousy for Your glory is also accompanied by mercy toward those who have belittled Your glory.

New Stuff from DG April 23, 2007

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I am often thankful to God for the generosity of Desiring God in their commitment to not allow money to be an obstacle to accomplishing their mission of spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.

A couple of new ways in which DG has made that generosity evident:

The audio from the regional conference in Portland is now available for free at the DG site. The theme was Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.

The audio of every message from all twenty years of the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors is also available for free, a total of 137 messages by a variety of speakers on a variety of topics. What a wealth of spiritual food for pastors and leaders is to be found here!

Many thanks to DG for their sacrificial way of spreading their passion around the world.

Larry

Clay Pots in God’s Service April 23, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes, Random Musings.
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Joe,

Thanks for your short reflections on the quote from Wesley that I shared yesterday. I do think it was a record for you in terms of shortest post!

I was especially struck by your comments on the wonder of God’s using weak and fallible people like us to accomplish His sovereign purposes. That is something I was especially struck by over the weekend, especially on Saturday night. As I wrote yesterday, I cannot recall a time when I has as much joy in preaching as I did on Saturday night from 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. After the message we had a sweet time in worship through song for about an hour. I know that the impression that the Word of God made on people was a big catalyst in the passion and joy that we experienced in singing.

As the night ended and I went to sleep, I couldn’t help but think how the Lord had used me in stirring His people to a wonderful time of worship. And therein lies a great threat to pride. For if I had begun to think that it was because of my preaching that the night was blessed, I would be making a profound and arrogant mistake.

So when I got home yesterday, I was very refreshed to read this quote on Josh Harris’ blog. It is a quote from J.I. Packer in his book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God:

“…the Christian must never for one moment imagine himself to be indispensable to God, or allow himself to behave as if he were. The God who sent him, and is pleased to work with him, can do without him.”

Harris adds his thoughts:

“Let’s work as unto the Lord. But let’s not believe, even for a nanosecond, that the success and accomplishment of God’s agenda depends on us. He’s pleased to use us, and that is more than amazing. But…God’s plan is going to march forward even if you and I drop dead later today.”

Amen, Josh. It is a profound blessing to be used of God to stir His people into a greater enjoyment of His manifold perfections. But God forbid that we should ever think that we are indispensable in the fulfillment of God’s purposes. Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). And if I never preach a sermon again, God’s glory will be hindered in absolutely no way.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7