You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Scripture’ category.
Throughout church history, there have been those who set theology and Christian living in opposition to one another. Yet, this was not the way of Jesus or the Apostles. In this message, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson will affirm the value and importance not only of the study of theology but the application of what we study to our hearts. It will look to Paul as a model of one who combined profound theology and heartfelt doxology. Here is the message from Dr. Sinclair Ferguson.
I want to thank NASA personally for all it has done to underscore the truth of the Word of God. Like no other agency or organization, it offers constant photographic proof of the direct hand of God in creation.
Please take just a moment and see planet Earth from 11 billion miles away. That tiny dot is where we all live. Billions of us. NASA’s cameras provide something we arrogant humans desperately need—perspective! These verses came to mind when I saw the photos. King Nebuchadnezzar had spent years living like a wild beast as God’s judgment against him. Then, in Daniel 4:34-35, we see these words recorded:
“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”
God’s written revelation to us explains how his creation sings of his power.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
~ Psalm 19
Hope itself is sort of like this blog over the last year and a half. It is sometimes strong, sometimes flickering and sputtering, sometimes going out completely, sort of like those trick birthday candles that blow out and then come back.
It’s been a very complex time in our lives. Everything in this world has become very strange and confusing. Christians are not exempt from experiencing those things. Old landmarks, old trusted institutions, churches, people we admired or followed, all of the old is rocking and shaking and changing.
News last week of a big name pastor among far-right fundamental Baptists who got caught after sexual involvement with a 16-year-old girl he had been counseling really wasn’t much of a surprise. What would once have been shocking is almost not shocking anymore as the sad news that yet another big name has crashed and burned in the middle of a double life made headlines.
Christian rhetoric and high external “standards” can be the ultimate smokescreen for the reality of our lives. It is very easy to appear to have our spiritual lives together if we spout the right phrases, quote a few verses, stay clean cut in appearance and windex our “windows” that people see. But internal rot cannot be hidden forever. It will be revealed in time.
There is a passage of Scripture (Jesus’s words in Matthew 24:12) that talks about how in the last days of history, the love of many Christians will grow cold because sin is so rampant. It is happening before our eyes. These evil times have even the most devout Christians looking around, trying to make sense of the senseless ruin in so many lives of professing believers. I say senseless, because it is difficult to understand how we could hold the cure for it in our own hands or promote the cure to others while ignoring it in our own lives.
This is the time when hope can flicker in our own hearts and lives. The primary problem is that a relationship with a doctrinal position is not the same as a relationship with Jesus. Rectitude in your theological position is not the same thing as having the Spirit of God within, convicting of sin, creating new life in the old person.
We are told what the fruit of the Holy Spirit looks like. There is no mystery here. And there are no special exemptions for those who have done enough spiritual work to get a free pass on a fruit check.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…(Galatians 5:22-23)
The hallmark of believers is love for others. We are told in plain terms what that love looks like.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
~ I Corinthians 13
There is no way in ourselves that we can have that kind of love. Hurt creates resentment and bitterness. Hurt left unresolved for years can created a veritable tsunami of rage and un-forgiveness. It can wash away your very view of God. Only the work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts can change this, but if we are children of the Light, this is what must happen.
The world around us is only going to worsen as the natural consequences of our culture’s and much of the visible church’s anarchy against God grows worse. Only God at work in our hearts, through His Son, can keep us in times like this. Our prayer has to be, “Lord, heal us, and we shall be healed. Rescue us from the tidal wave of sin and wrong reactions to the filth and destruction around us. We can’t handle it on our own.”
There is another part to this, however. My favorite music is sacred music. The opening lines of Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn is the great chorus singing, “Help, Lord!” The idolatry of God’s people had brought them drought and ruin. God showed himself at Mt. Carmel in a powerful way, the prophets of Baal were destroyed, and God was returned to His rightful place in their hearts. This is the area God, I believe, wants his people to address. We have to tear down these high places of idolatry, and then our prayers for healing spiritually will be answered. The healing rains of God’s deliverance will come. Only each of us individually knows if or where we have these places, but I know this: If we ask, God will answer us and point them out.
No, the Hope Blog has not completely sputtered out. The hope in my heart that has flickered and sputtered at times over the last 18 months is still here, and for that I give the Lord Jesus Christ all of the credit. He alone is the answer to our broken state, no matter how much we may want to find the cure elsewhere, no matter how much we want to write off spiritual answers, or walk away from the faith in the face of so much treachery and ruin.
Men and women will fail us. We will fail completely in ourselves. But Jesus never fails. He shines as our ultimate hope. Brighter than the sun at noon. Take the scales from our eyes, God, so we can see Jesus in all His glory and fall at His feet and worship.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!
~ Psalm 84
Here is the setting of this Psalm composed by Johannes Brahms. How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings Fair.
O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious tob me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
~ Psalm 139
I am the demon named Pride. I am very, very old.
I am one of the most powerful demons in the hierarchy.
My dwelling place is the hearts of humans.
One of my chief methods of operation is to inflict blindness and deafness on all who will host me.
I remove compassion. I destroy consciences and convince millions of highly religious people that they are serving God while they have no clue who they are really serving. LOL!
You can always tell when I am present because those who will have me are highly defensive at the slightest suggestion that they have done anything wrong. Moi? The very idea!
I am particularly good at helping my hosts see the sins of others. In some cases, I can even convince these religious types to keep files on other people that document their shortcomings and failings. ROFL!
One of the great abilities I have is to infect entire families, generation after generation. Consider me the smallpox of spiritual influences. I can spread very quickly. Just one host in every bunch. That’s my motto.
Once I have rendered my hosts blind and deaf, no entreaties of any kind by a True Believer can reach them. True Believers, or TB’s as I call them, are a real pain in the behind. They come around with their humble little pinched faces, the crocodile tears just running down their cheeks, imploring my hosts to see the truth. As if!
When given enough latitude, I make sure that no host who ever welcomes me can possibly see the light. Once I spread, it’s over. The best part is, they don’t know it and remain convinced they are doing everything right.
I think I am more powerful than their so-called “God”, because I can run freely through the halls of their homes, religious buildings and media empires. I can set things up for a church split in a matter of days. Divorce, extended family bust-ups, random schisms, brawls, hatred, betrayal—they are my speciality! If enough hosts welcome me in any one locale, I can do anything. Watch as their Deity is rendered powerless. I only need one host in the bunch to get started.
I despise TB’s. True Believers are the primary obstacle to my work. Groveling, sniveling, self-effacing wimps are the number one thing I battle. You can see them sobbing into their hankies, talking about “re-con-cil-i-ation” and using the J word. I can’t even bring myself to type that name. He is my ultimate enemy. Disgusting. I almost finished him once. So close. The best I can do now is get J’s followers to give me a home so I can make their claims about an all-powerful God look silly.
The sight of people hugging and begging forgiveness is repellent. I can’t live around such gushing sentimentality. It’s like spiritual Raid. So I work especially on TB’s, because they don’t have to stay that way. If I can get a corner, nay, just a tiny spot in their hearts, who knows? There may come a day when they will fully welcome me as host. Then I will quickly go about my work of blinding and deafening them so that they never see the damage they cause. They will see themselves as martyrs, athletes of God, brilliant in their holiness and perfections, beyond fault in all situations. LOL! What fun!
I’m on the lookout today for some new hosts. I have already spotted a few who look particularly vulnerable. Off to work.
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
~ Matthew 18:1-4
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
~ James 4:6, 10
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~ James 4:7
For more Scripture verses on pride, click here.
This post is dedicated to all who are sad, exhausted, hurting, confused and grieving in what seems like an endless desert of pain.
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs
with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are
with young. (Isaiah 40:11)
Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and
He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He
is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Pastures Of Tender Grass And Waters Of Rest
By F.B. Meyer, from The Shepherd Psalm
“He maketh me to lie down
In green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.”
In this sweet pastoral symphony, the first verse gives the air, when it tells us that there is no want to the man who lives under the shepherd care of God. In the succeeding verses the harmony is worked out, and the music in all its completeness is rendered effectively.
The first want which, according to this verse, he who belongs to Christ shall never know, is the want of rest. This verse breathes the very spirit of rest, as is even more apparent in a more literal rendering of the words. It may be rendered thus: “He maketh me to lie down in pastures of tender grass: He leadeth me beside the waters of rest.”
What a delightful scene is thus conjured up before our fancy! It is the scorching hour of an Eastern noon. The air is stifling with fever-heat, and all the landscape is baking in the awful glare. The very stones upon the hills burn the feet that touch them. At such a time woe be to the flock without a shepherd; and to the shepherd who cannot find the blue shade of some great rock, the shelter of some bushy dell, or the rich and luscious pasturage of some lowland vale!
But there is no such failure here. See where the pellucid stream is rolling its tide through the level plain. Higher upward in its bed, when it was starting on its course, it foamed and fretted over its rocky channel, leaped from ledge to ledge, chafed against its restraining banks, and dashed itself into a mass of froth and foam. No sheep would have drank of it then; for the flocks will never drink of turbid or ruffled streams. But now it sweeps quietly onward, as if it were asleep, there is hardly a ripple on its face; every flower, and tree, and sedge, as well as the overhanging banks, is clearly mirrored on its surface, and every stone in its bed may be clearly seen; on its banks the pasture is always green and luxuriant, carpeted in spring by a thousand flowers; the very air is cooled by its refreshing presence, and the ear is charmed by the music of its purling waters. No drought can come where that river flows; and the flocks, satisfied by browsing on the tender grass, lie down satisfied and at rest.
We All Need Rest
There must be pauses and parentheses in all our lives. The hand cannot ever be plying its toils. The brain cannot always be elaborating trains of thought. The faculties and senses cannot always be on the strain. To work without rest is like over winding a watch; the mainspring snaps, and the machinery stands still. There must be a pause frequently interposed in life’s busy rush wherein we can recuperate exhausted nerves and lowered vitality. There is more permanence than many think in the commandment which bids us rest one day in seven.
But there is no part of our nature that cries more urgently for rest than our spiritual life. The spirit of man, like the dove, cannot always be wandering with unresting wing; it must alight. We cannot ever be travelling up the rugged mountain pass of difficulty, or traversing the burning marl of discontent. We must be able to lie down in green pastures, or to pass gently along the waters of rest. There are three things needed ere sheep or human spirits can rest. Read the rest of this entry »