Life is But a Weaving

– Corrie Ten Boom

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Pre-Rose Parade Evangelism Report: Discussion with a Pantheist who attacked Christianity

Something to consider from a friend.

The Domain for Truth

pantheist-denying-jesus-is-god

I am all wired up from evangelizing on the Rose Parade route tonight, its something the folks at my church have been doing for almost 10 years now.  People camp outside and we just set up a table to engage in evangelistic conversation.  Believe it or not there are still people who are willing to stop and listen and hear the Gospel.  We need to pray for those opportunities and present the Gospel clearly and faithfully with both passion and compassion.

Contrary to the theme of the blog, in my evangelism these days I rarely go on apologetics’ rabbit trail when I share the Gospel.  Most of the time I focus on the Gospel being understood by the person I’m talking to.  I am a Presuppositionalist in my apologetics but I think even some within my own camp of apologetics can forget the self-evidencing power of the Gospel.

Tonight I…

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Does the Bible Teach ‘Learning’ to Pray in the Spirit?

What follows is the contents of a blog post that caught my attention. I have been conversing with the author now and again, partly because I think I know where he is going since there is a familiarity with a time in my life when I embraced the ‘something more’ teaching I see in these ‘teachings’. There are some good points and others that seem to me to be a bit off – using particular passages to support teaching points I do not l find in scripture. I am interested in others’ views concerning what is quoted below below.

Praying in the Spirit leads to the pouring out of the Spirit. If you want to preach in the Spirit, you must first pray in the Spirit. Let this be you: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

The power of a church is not how filled a building is with people, but how filled the people are with the Holy Spirit. There is not power in numbers but in the Holy Spirit.

Natural prayers move men, praying in the Spirit moves God.

Natural prayers only ask for natural things. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).

Natural prayers seek His approval of your will, praying in the Spirit places you into His.

“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). You know you are praying in the Spirit when even the building can’t sit still.

Whatever fills you defines you. If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, then you are just full of yourself. Beware the intellectually filled man who is empty of the Spirit of God.

Prayers without words speak the loudest. “…For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

In your prayers, don’t lower the Lord into your plans, but ask Him to raise you into His.

You know you are praying in the Spirit when you can hear the Spirit. “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2-3). Never underestimate the power gained through the discipline of fasting and prayer.

Fasting separates you from the natural such that you can step into the spiritual. Spiritual prayers never walk on natural grounds.

Natural prayers can touch the heart of man, but praying in the Spirit places you in the heart of God. “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God…” (Jude 20-21).

Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to pray in the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus taught, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…” (John 14:26).

I suggested to the author that I suspected  “scripture abuse” and I explained why I felt using passages to teach something not in the text was abusing scripture. My comment was more for the readers who  offered a chorus of ‘Amens’ to his teaching.

Was I wrong in saying something? Was I too harsh? Am I holding hands with the Devil, as the author has suggested to me?

“He will save his people from their sins.”

– This was first posted in December 2012

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 ESV)

I love these few words that the angel of the lord spoke to Joseph:

“for he will save his people from their sins.”

The grand announcement concerning Jesus’ birth, at least to Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, was that the purpose of this miraculous birth was that the Christ child was born to ‘save His people from their sins’.

We don’t often hear modern evangelical sermons in which salvation from sin was the reason for the birth of Jesus – at least I can’t remember a specific Christmas sermon that addressed that as its main point. But then again I’m old enough to have more frequent memory lapses than say 20 or so years ago. However, I could also offer that the subject and problem of sin itself is not seriously mentioned, if at all, in many mega-churches these days, on any given Sunday (or any other time)

I am not saying that we should overly emphasize the issue of sin as we celebrate the birth of Christ, but I do suggest that the angel’s words to Joseph at least remain in our hearts and minds in the midst of celebrating the birth of our Savior in all of our usual ways, and especially when we gaze upon a Nativity scene.

Admit it, we love Nativity scenes and the sight of Jesus in the manger, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, wise men, and often angels in the background. Thoughts of ‘peace on earth’, feelings of warmth, love and good cheer fill our minds and hearts – and rightly so.

But how many of us dare to dwell, even for a few moments, on the angel’s words to Joseph:

“for he will save his people from their sins.”

This year, I for one am dwelling on those words, perhaps more than anything else; not in a morbid way, with graphic pictures of Calvary and the Cross, but with a sense of wonder and awe. Jesus came, first and foremost, to save his people from their sins.

And while all those who witnessed the birth of Jesus so long ago might not have realized the full significance of His birth, God, His Father, knew exactly the course that was being set in motion on that day. The Father knew that one day His Son would be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, buried, and be raised up again – that The Father sent his Son to die for the sins of men.

So in the midst of all of the usual activity this season brings, I spend some time reflecting on the words of the angel to Joseph and their enormous significance as the greatest gift ever given to men – salvation from our sins. Unlike Joseph, who had no way of knowing all that those words meant, I peer into the pages of my Bible and reflect on a few of seemingly simple questions:

  • Who really are ‘His people’?
  • What does it mean that He would save them from their sins?
  • How does discovering answers to those questions impact how I celebrate this wondrous season of the year?

Dear reader, if you are reading the musings of this old soldier, my encouragement to you is to do the same. You will be tremendously blessed!

May you indeed have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Dan

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Far as the Curse is Found

Al Mohler, December 8, 2017

 

Many Christians would be surprised, and perhaps even disappointed, to learn that the song often cited as our favorite Christmas carol is not actually a Christmas carol at all. The famed hymn writer Isaac Watts published “Joy to the World” in 1719. Millions of Christians sing this great hymn at Christmas, celebrating the great news of the incarnation and declaring “let earth receive her king.”

“Let every heart, prepare him room, and heaven and angels sing.” At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of Christ, the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem. But “Joy to the World,” though sung rightly and triumphantly at Christmas, is really about the Second Coming of Christ.

Watts led in the development of hymns in the English tradition, drawing many of his hymn texts directly from the Psalms. “Joy to the World” is based upon Psalm 98, which declares creation’s joy when the Lord comes to rule and to judge. When we sing “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come,” it applies when we talk about Bethlehem and when we rejoice in the gift of the infant Christ. But the song also reminds us that Christmas isn’t over; the promises of Christmas are not yet fulfilled. Earth will fully receive her King when Christ comes again, to reign and to rule.

Think with me about verse three of the hymn, in which we read,

“No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.”

The reversal of the curse is promised in the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of his atoning work. Implicit in this third verse is the promise of the new creation. We live in light of that promise, even as we look back to Bethlehem and as we celebrate Christmas.

But look carefully at the reference to the curse. Christ’s victory over sin is declared to extend “far as the curse is found.” What curse? How far does it extend? Where is it found?

We find the curse in Genesis, chapter 3. After Eve has eaten of the forbidden tree, and then Adam also ate, and after they found themselves facing God in the reality of their sin, God first cursed the serpent:

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Then, God cursed the woman:

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

Then came to curse to Adam, and through Adam to all humanity:

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

By Adam, our federal head, the curse of sin came upon all humanity. We are dust, who must return to the dust, for the wages of sin is death. All creation is under the effects of the curse. “Cursed is the ground because of you,” Adam is told.

The curse is God’s righteous judgment of sin, and the effect of the curse is death. The curse has fallen upon all human beings, first because of Adam’s sin and then because of our own. In Adam, we all sinned. In Adam, we all died.

Where is the curse found? Everywhere we look, we see the curse and its malignant effects. How far does it extend? To every atom and molecule of creation — from coast to coast, shore to shore, sky to sky, and to every square inch of the planet. That’s how far the curse is found.

Most importantly, every single human being is found under this curse. “For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

So, how can we sing about joy to the world?

Look with me to Galatians 3:10-14:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Here is the gospel of Christ, the good news. But first, the bad news. All who rely on works of the law are under a curse. All humanity is born under this curse, and under the law. The congregation that originally received Paul’s letter would have understood immediately where Paul grounded his argument, in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. At the end of the series of curses God delivered from Mount Nebo, we find the most comprehensive of all: “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” [Paul in Galatians 3:10, citing Deuteronomy 27:26]

We are born under the curse, we are cursed by the curse, and the law offers no escape. We cannot work our way from under the curse.

So where is the good news? Where is joy to the world? Look at verses 13 and 14.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. What we sinners could not and cannot do for ourselves, Christ has done for us. He removes the curse and the power of the law to condemn us.

How? He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us. The sinless Son of God became incarnate as the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. That sinless Son of God became sin for us, in order that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became a curse for us, by hanging on a tree, in fulfillment of Scripture.

Christ died on the cross, in our place, bearing our shame and guilt, paying the full penalty for our sin, dying as our Substitute, in our place, by his shed blood. He redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us. He died our death, in our place, bearing our sins, redeeming us from the curse. And on the third day the Father raised him from the dead. The cursed and crucified Savior rose victorious from the grave.

Paul concludes that all this took place so that in Christ the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, and so that we, as Christians, might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.

Today we celebrate commencement, the graduation of ministers of Jesus Christ who now enter into a new season of service to the church and to the gospel. The main contours of the ceremony would be recognizable to almost anyone. Here you see graduates, diplomas, faculty, academic regalia, dignity, proud loved ones. But this is a distinctively Christian service. This is an academic ceremony, but it is a Christian service of worship.

These graduates are one of the most remarkable sights you will ever see. Who gets to observe such a moment as this, looking at newly minted ministers of Christ and knowing that they are soon to be deployed to the church and to the ends of the earth? No school is worthy of them, and not one of them is worthy of their calling. Everything you observe is by grace, and to the glory of God.

Graduates, you are wearing the gowns of academic and ministry preparation. You will soon hold diplomas as evidence of your seriousness of preparation and devotion to the ministry. You are surrounded by a host of friends and family and faculty. Their own hopes and dreams of ministry go with you and in you. This faculty has taught you with conviction and affection, and now you go to bear the gospel of Christ and to preach the Word.

Why? Because the world is full of sinners who live every day under the curse, and the penalty of the curse is death. You go to preach the gospel and to declare salvation to all who believe in Christ and repent of their sin. You go to feed Christ’s flock and to shepherd the church for whom Christ died.

How far does the gospel reach, and to what lengths must it be taken? Far as the curse is found. Go and preach. Go and tell. Teach the good news that Christ has redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.

And so, prayerfully and proudly,  we send you out — ministers of Christ, heralds of the gospel, far as the curse is found.

___________________

This is the text of the commencement address preached by President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. at the December 8, 2017 commencement ceremony at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The entire ceremony will be live-streamed by digital video broadcast beginning at 10:00 a.m. EST at www.sbts.edu/live

8 implications of calling Jesus “Lord” by Jesse Johnson

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I recently preached 2 Corinthians 4:5 (“We do not breach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord”), and in preparation I came across this powerful list of 8 implications of preaching Jesus as Lord. These are from Murray Harris’s New International Greek Testament Commentary (p 332), where he writes:

Whenever worshiping Christians repeat the church’s confession “Jesus is Lord,” they are:

1. Implying that the Christ of faith was none other than the Jesus of history (Acts 2:34–36),

2. acknowledging the deity of Christ (John 20:28; Phil. 2:6, 9–11),

3. admitting the Lord’s personal rights to absolute supremacy in the universe, the church, and individual lives (Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:12; 14:8; 1 Cor. 8:6; Jas. 4:15),

4. affirming the triumph of Christ over death and hostile cosmic powers when God raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9; 14:9; Eph. 1:20–22; Col. 2:10, 15) and therefore also the Christian’s hope of resurrection (1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14),

5. epitomizing the Christian message (Rom. 10:8–9; 2 Cor. 4:5) and defining the basis of Christian teaching ( Col. 2:6–7),

6. declaring everyone’s accountability to the Lord, the righteous judge (1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8),

7. making a personal and public declaration of faith (Rom. 10:9), which testifies to their being led by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3), and

8. repudiating their former allegiance to many pagan “lords” and reaffirming their loyalty to one Lord through and in whom they exist (1 Cor. 8:5–6; 1 Tim. 6:15).

It is good to be reminded that “Lord” is more than a title, and more than a name. It reveals the identity of Jesus, and compels a response from us that is more than simply a phrase we say–ie. there is more at stake here than saying “Jesus is Lord.” That phrase implies so much, that when rightly understood it alters our worldview.

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