17 February 2017

This 'n' That

There cannot be a flock without a shepherd; neither is there a shepherd truly without a flock. The two must go together. They are the fullness of each other. As the church is the fullness of him that filleth all in all, so we rejoice to remember that "of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." That I am like a sheep is a sorry reflection; but that I have a shepherd charms away the sorrow and creates a new joy. It even becomes a gladsome thing to be weak, that I may rely on his strength; to be full of wants, that I may draw from his fullness; to be shallow and often at my wit's end, that I may be always regulated by his wisdom. Even so doth my shame redound to his praise. Not to you, ye great and mighty, who lift your heads high, and claim for yourselves honor: not for you is peace, not to you is rest; but unto you, ye lowly ones, who delight in the valley of humiliation, and feel yourselves to be taken down in your own esteem—to you it is that the Shepherd becomes dear; and to you will he give to lie down in green pastures beside the still waters. 
- Charles Spurgeon, "The Sheep and Their Shepherd"
How grateful we should be for our Good Shepherd! Scripture tells us that believers are His sheep and in fact, Jesus Himself calls us "My sheep." We are His! We are His because He has elected us from before the foundation of the world, and we are His because He purchased us with His own precious, unblemished blood.

We are His and because we are His, we can never be plucked from His hand. What a gracious picture this offers the weary and war-torn Christian. To know that we may rest in His palm even now...such a comfort is merely a foretaste of the eternal life that has been promised to us. It is no wonder that we love this Savior of our souls and yet we long to love Him more, we long to serve Him better, indeed, we long for eternity when we can sing more perfectly,
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
With that sweet hymn echoing through your mind, I hope you'll enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 February 2017

Equipping Eve: Have We Left Our First Love?



At one time, the church at Ephesus was a stalwart body, sound in doctrine and intolerant of sin and error. Yet, in a sobering letter to this first-century church, Jesus Christ said these gut-wrenching words: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Is it possible to be zealous for sound doctrine but lacking in love for Christ?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Resources
Rekindling Your Love for Christ
The Lord's Word to His Church: Ephesus
Ephesus: When Love Grows Cold

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: How Healthy Is the Women's Ministry in Your Church?
Equipping Eve: Stickers In My Bible
Equipping Eve: A Victim of Spontaneous Baptism

Sunday Morning Praise

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow)

10 February 2017

This 'n' That

I love waffles. I mean, who doesn't love waffles? If you don't love waffles, I have to seriously question your sanity.

So...waffle irons. They're fantastic because they make waffles, but they seem determined to do this under a complete cloak of secrecy. Oh, sure, that little green light on the top is supposed to blink or glow when the waffle is done, but let's be honest, that little light is useless. That little green light of mine, it does not shine. Or it does shine...all the time. Yeah, so that's not helpful at telling me when the batter has become waffley deliciousness.

I ask the question then: why not a window? Why not a little window on the top of the waffle iron so you can monitor the progress of your waffles? We are wearing computers on our wrists, for crying out loud, so why can't we develop a windowed waffle iron? And this one may claim to be "smart" and know the perfect cooking time for my preferred waffle color, but how does it know?

These are the things I ponder when I am trying to escape everything else that plagues my mind. What's the spiritual significance? Well...um...here you go: it doesn't matter if we think we've closed the blinds on the window of our soul, God still sees the thoughts of our mind and the true condition of our hearts. Now, if any of you pastors decide to use this for a sermon illustration on Sunday, I'll expect to receive my royalty check next week.

Well, it is Friday (hooray!). Why not whip up a batch of waffles, pour a cup of coffee, and sit down to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

03 February 2017

This 'n' That

I am thankful for the Lord's provision and equipping. I am thankful for circumstances that challenge me practically, mentally, and emotionally. I am thankful for opportunities, whether at work or elsewhere, that push me outside my comfort zone, because there are times when I discover that my comfort zone has expanded along the way without me realizing it.

Yes, I am amazed at God's equipping, kindness, and graciousness extended toward me in all things.

Even better than His provision for daily needs or practical equipping in daily life is His spiritual equipping of His saints through His Word. Sixty-six books; He has given us 66 books! They are His words, and, written by men carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), they are inspired, inerrant, and infallible in their original manuscripts. Each of these books, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, points to or reveals to us the only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How good of God to give us such a clear way to know His Son!

Do you treasure this word? Do you look to it for daily nourishment? Indeed, it is through this word that God has truly equipped us for everything pertaining to life and godliness. May we not disdain it by neglecting it.

If you haven't taken time to read the Bible yet today, stop reading this blog and go do that. When you're done, come back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

27 January 2017

This 'n' That

I love the story of Joseph in Genesis. Reading through these chapters again, I'm struck anew by God's sovereignty in all of our circumstances.

Fast-forward to our Lord Jesus Christ. He was God incarnate, with all the authority and sovereign power of His Father. He could have felled the soldiers who came to arrest Him in the garden. He could have walked away from the jeers and abuse at his mock trials. He could have, with just a word, destroyed the soldiers who beat Him. He could have come down from the cross.

But He didn't.

Why?

For the joy that was before Him, He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). For those sinners the Father had given Him, He died (Romans 5:8-10). Out of love and obedience to His Father, He humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

What a magnificent Christ we serve! May we fix our eyes firmly on Him, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and not grow weary in this life, but rather look to the next, when we will be with Him forever.

Of course, until that time, we still live on this earth, and so the close of another week means the opportunity for you to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

25 January 2017

Grace Upon Grace


For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

If I was to describe [a believer] from the Scripture character, I should say, he is one whose heart is athirst for God, for his glory, his image, his presence; his affections are fixed upon an unseen Savior; his treasures, and consequently his thoughts, are on high, beyond the bounds of sense. Having experienced much forgiveness, he is full of bowels of mercy to all around; and having been often deceived by his own heart, he dares trust it no more, but lives by faith in the Son of God, for wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and derives from him grace for grace; sensible that without him he has not sufficiency even to think a good thought.

But was I to describe him from experience, especially at some times, how different would the picture be? Though he knows that communion with God is his highest privilege, he too seldom finds it so...He takes up the Bible, conscious that it is the fountain of life and true comfort; yet perhaps, while he is making the reflection, he feeds a secret distaste, which prompts him to lay it down, and give his preference to a newspaper. He needs not to be told of the vanity and uncertainty of all beneath the sun; and yet is almost as much elated or cast down by a trifle, as those who have their portion in this world. He believes that all things shall work together for his good, and that the most high God appoints, adjusts, and overrules all his concerns; yet he feels the risings of fear, anxiety, and displeasure, as though the contrary was true.

How can these things be, or why are they permitted?...By these exercises he teaches us more truly to know and feel the utter depravity and corruption of our whole nature, that we are indeed defiled in every part. His method of salvation is likewise hereby exceedingly endeared to us: we see that it is and must be of grace, wholly of grace; and that the Lord Jesus Christ, and his perfect righteousness is and must be our all in all.

—John Newton