Saturday, April 30

Three Results of Unanswered Prayer

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.... --1 Peter 5:8-9

Most Christians know that they need to pray. We hear it (I hope) all the time. We even feel it to some degree when we don't. Many of us beat ourselves up over it (that may be good or bad . . . depending) But at least one thing is certain, we MUST pray! Therefore, it is important that we have reminders to continue in this most important and god-ward calling. A. W. Tozer deftly puts his finger on three of the inevitable results of unanswered prayer. [bold emphases mine]

If unanswered prayer continues in a congregation over an extended period of time, the chill of discouragement will settle over the praying people. If we continue to ask and ask and ask, like petulant children, never expecting to get what we ask for but continuing to whine for it, we will become chilled within our beings.

If we continue in our prayers and never get answers, the lack of results will tend to confirm the natural unbelief of our hearts. Remember this: the human heart by nature is filled with unbelief....

Perhaps worst of all is the fact that our failures in prayer leave the enemy in possession of the field. The worst part about the failure of a military drive is not the loss of men or the loss of face but the fact that the enemy is left in possession of the field. In the spiritual sense, this is both a tragedy and a disaster. The devil ought to be on the run, always fighting a rear guard action. Instead, this blasphemous enemy smugly and scornfully holds his position, and the people of God let him have it. No wonder the work of the Lord is greatly retarded. Little wonder the work of God stands still!

Faith Beyond Reason, pp. 36-37
We know Satan's modus operandi, thus we must ward him off by the power God has given us in prayer. Indeed, prayer is more than asking, it is communion with God. Thus, to be waylaid by the devil's deceptions is to be diverted from that sweet time we can have with our Lord. Let us resist such attacks in faith and find joy in the process!

One More from the "Doctor" - Defending the Faith!

I realize that I've quoted Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones several times this past week, but this quotation cuts to the heart of so much weakness arising from within evangelicalism. Remember as you read this that he delivered this address to a meeting of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Students way back in 1954!

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).
Here we are given a stirring call to the defense of the faith. Such a call is not popular today. It is not popular today even in some evangelical circles. People will tell you that it is all 'too negative'. They continually urge that we must keep on giving positive truth. They will tell us that we must not argue and we must never condemn. But we must ask, How can you fight if you are ever afraid of wounding the enemy? How can you rouse sleeping fellow warriors with smooth words? God forbid that we find ourselves at the bar of judgment and face the charge that we contracted out from love of ease or for fear of man, or that we failed to do our duty in the great fight of the faith. We must--we must fight for the faith in these momentous times.
Add to this the strains from the following hymn by Isaac Watts:

Am I a soldier of the cross,
a follower of the Lamb,
and shall I fear to own his cause,
or blush to speak his name?

Must I be carried to the skies
on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize,
and sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
to help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign;
increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
supported by thy word. [emphasis mine]

Friday, April 29

In the Wake of Universalism . . .

Some have wryly commented in the wake of the firestorm from Rob Bell's book Love Wins that at least one positive thing has issued from all the publicity, it has caused many to examine what they believe. That is true enough. All error or theological disagreement seems to tend toward this. And the church, generally speaking, can be guilty of resting on it's own laurels, especially when she's painfully ignorant of the battle that has been raging all around her. So, she could use a good 'shaking up'. It's not that there have not been many fighting the good fight of faith, but perhaps we could say unequivocally that not enough have "taken up the cudgels" as the Brits would put it, and stepped into the battle where all true men of God ought to be. 

Should Christians resist false teaching, exposing it? Many voices say it is intolerant to do so. But Scripture demonstrates that the answer is a clear and resounding "Yes!" My wife lists on her blog (Confessions of a Pastor's Wife) no less than twenty references which expose false teaching and/or call for the church to fight against error. The oddity about this is that it used to be thought a thing of virtue when a leader exercised his God-given responsibility to defend the flock from (as we so familiarly quote) "wolves in sheep's clothing" (Mt. 7:15). In truth, it seems we are more familiar with Matthew 7:15 than we are with the charge it elicits. In an address he gave in 1952, Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke prophetically to our day:
We are not to accept everything which even those who call themselves Christians may say. The church is warned to look for the true 'fruit of the Spirit'. In particular, those who claim to be God's spokesmen must be quite clear concerning the true nature of the person of Christ; the fact of His resurrection, the substitutionary character of His death, the way of salvation, and how the Christian life is to be lived. Anyone who is equivocal or misleading on such matter is to be avoided. The true Christian must not be misled by them [emphasis mine].
And against those who would charge any defender of the faith with wrongdoing, Lloyd-Jones warns:
There are not wanting today men in teaching and preaching positions who are advising us to walk in the 'broad way'; but our Lord and His apostles constantly affirmed that this is the opposite of God's will for us. We must not mind being thought 'narrow'. We must not be afraid of the charge that 'You think that you alone are right!' Yes, we do think that we are right; but we are not alone. The great stream of evangelical witness runs down through the centuries of church history. The gates of hell have not prevailed and will not finally prevail against it. We believe as our evangelical forefathers did, and we must be prepared for the reproaches of 'intolerance' and 'bigotry' which they also bore. St. Paul is in no doubt about the matter. He says: 'Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let hm be accursed' (Gal. 1:8). 
Then he draws a conclusion that it seems we have heard far too infrequently. 
This charge of intolerance is a compliment. For, surely, if our position is that in which God has ordained His elect should stand, we must necessarily be intolerant of all that would divert us from it. We believe and hold to it. We must be prepared to sacrifice everything for it. We must be like Martin Luther when he stood alone against the authority of the Roman Church, which had arrogated to itself such dictatorial power for so many long centuries. We must be like the Puritans, who were prepared to forsake their emoluments [income] rather than to compromise on such principles. We must be humbly aggressive in propagating the true faith, and patiently adamant in the true gospel's defense, if need be, to the utmost degrees of sacrifice [emphasis mine].
This is where we ought to be these days, not backing down in the face of a few false accusations. We must always be asking "What does the Bible teach?" Not, "What do I think?" Or, "What would I want the Bible to teach?" Rather, we are to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12).

(From Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times. The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. p. 43) 

Just the Right Touch

Christ healing the Woman with the Issue of Blood; Paolo VERONESE; 1565-70; oil on canvas; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

“Somebody has touched me.” Luke 8:46

This incident in Jesus' ministry always gives me pause to think and adds not a little humor. Humor in the form of the ironic proceeds from the obvious manner in which this young woman finds healing. 
Leading us to the cross, He would show us that as Christ died for sin, so we must die to sin- and by the self-same instrument too. One real, believing sight of the cross of Jesus!- oh, what a crucifying power it has! Paul, standing beneath its tremendous shadow, and gazing upon its divine victim, exclaimed, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Get near the Savior’s cross, if you would accomplish anything in this great and necessary work of mortification.

The Spirit effects it, but through the instrumentality of the Atonement. There must be a personal contact with Jesus. This only is it that draws forth His grace. When the poor woman in the Gospel touched the Savior, we are told that multitudes thronged Him. And yet, in all that crowd that pressed upon His steps, one only extracted the healing virtue. Thus do multitudes follow Christ externally; they attend His courts, and approach His ordinances, and speak well of His name, who know nothing by faith of personal transaction with the Lord. They crowd His path, and strew their branches in His way, and chant their hosannas; but of how few can Christ say, “Somebody has touched me”!

Oh, let us have more personal dealing with the Lord Jesus. He delights in this. It pleases, it glorifies Him. He bids us come and disclose every personal feeling, and make known every need, and unveil every grief, and confide to His bosom each secret of our own. The crowd cannot veil us from His eye. He sees the poor and contrite; He marks the trembling and the lowly; He meets the uplifted glance; He feels the thrill of the gentle, hesitating, yet believing touch.

“Somebody has touched me.” Who? Is it you, my reader? (from Octavius Winslow)

Thursday, April 28

What Is True Christianity?

“Do you believe on the Son of God?” John 9:35 

It is not enough to say that we believe in God, or even in Jesus Christ. It is true, isn't it, that the devils believe and they tremble! (James 2:19) We must go further than that. And eternity demands that we consider this seriously, more seriously than we would any other subject. Listen to how Octavius Winslow (19th C) writes of our faith:
Oh, look well to your faith! There must be, in true faith, not only an assent, but also a consent. In believing to the saving of the soul, we not only assent to the truth of the word, but we also consent to take Christ as He is there set forth- the sinner’s reconciliation with God. A mere intellectual illumination, or a historical belief of the facts of the Bible, will never place the soul beyond the reach of hell, nor within the region of heaven. There is a “form of knowledge,” as well as a “form of godliness;” and both existing apart from vital religion in the soul constitute a “vain religion.” Again we press upon you the important inquiry, Have you the “faith of God’s elect”?
He drives the point home by applying the truth to each of us personally:
Is it a faith that has stained the glory of self-merit, and laid the pride of intellect in the dust? Is it rooted in Christ? Has it transformed you, in some degree, into the opposite of what you once were? Are any of the “precious fruits” of the Spirit put forth in your life? Is Jesus precious to your soul? And to walk in all circumstances humbly with God- is it the earnest desire of your heart? If there is no sorrow for sin, no going out of yourself to Jesus, no fruits of holiness, in some degree, appearing, then is yours but a “dead faith,”- dead, because it is a part and parcel of a nature “dead in trespasses and in sins,”- dead, because it is not the fruit of the quickening Spirit- dead, because it is inoperative, even as the lifeless root transmits no vitality and moisture to the tree- dead, because it never can bring you to eternal life.
These questions force us each to ask how is it with my soul? So, how would you answer that question?

Wednesday, April 27

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Refutes Universalism

Once again Lloyd-Jones hits the nail on the head! Liberal ideas come and go, wax and wane in popularity but the gospel of Jesus Christ never fails!
Surely we cannot accept . . . Universalistic ideas, because, if we do so, it means that we find ourselves contradicting the plain teaching of Scripture in those places where there is a clear division between the saved and the unsaved, the good and the bad, the redeemed and the lost. In spite of the arguments based upon a philosophic idea of the love of God, the Scripture draws the ultimate distinction between eternal salvation and eternal destruction . . . There is only one salvation—by the blood of Christ—and no-one can enter the kingdom except by belief in Christ. Such is the Universal teaching of the Scripture . . .
The mystic secret which we as Christians are allowed to share is that God will ultimately restore the original harmony, and re-unite again all things in Christ. Christ is over all and the old harmony will be restored . . .these blessings only apply to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. No harmony is promised to others; they are sent to ‘everlasting destruction’; but they will be outside the cosmos, as it were; they will be out of harmony and will not disturb it eternally. As regards the fallen angels it is clear that there is no hope for them. They are ‘reserved in chains’ in the pit until their final damnation comes (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Satan also is to be cast into ‘the lake of fire’ where he and all his followers are to be tormented for ever (Revelation 20:10).
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose : An Exposition of Ephesians 1, 1 to 23 (Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1978), 202-07.
Thanks to Adrian Warnock's blog.

A Poem for Easter

John 14:6

"I am the way" he said
as he strode towards
the cross. The way
home would be hard
and deadly for him,
but life for us.

"I am the truth" claimed

the man who was
crucified as a liar.
"What is truth?" asked
his judge. Truth was pierced
for our transgressions.

"I am the life" spoke

he who was lifted up
for all to see as a corpse,
and then buried out of sight.
But what he laid down he
took again, and lived.

Way, Truth, Life.

He alone can bring
wasted sinners back
to the warm embrace
of the Father, whose omniscient eyes
look for the prodigal's return.

Borrowed from Exiled Preacher.

Monday, April 25

He Understands Our Infirmities

“This is my infirmity.” Psalm 77:10.

The infirmities of the believer are as varied as they are numerous. Some are weak in faith, and are always questioning their interest in Christ. Some, superficial in knowledge, and shallow in experience, are ever exposed to the crudities of error and to the assaults of temptation. Some are slow travelers in the divine life, and are always in the rear; while yet others are often ready to halt altogether.

Then there are others who groan beneath the burden of bodily infirmity, exerting a morbid influence upon their spiritual experience. A nervous temperament- a state of perpetual depression and despondency- the constant corrodings of mental disquietude- physical ailment- imaginary forebodings- a facile yielding to temptation- petulance of spirit- unguardedness of speech- gloomy interpretations of providence- an eye that only views the dark hues of the cloud, the somber shadings of the picture. Ah! from this dismal catalogue how many, making their selection, may exclaim, “This is my infirmity.”

But be that infirmity what it may, let it endear to our hearts the grace and sympathy of Him who for our sake was encompassed with infirmity, that He might have compassion upon those who are alike begirt [wrapped]. All the fulness of grace that is in Jesus is for that single infirmity over which you sigh.

Octavius Winslow

Thursday, April 21

Made One in Christ

Too seldom do believers meditate upon this grand and overarching truth, that Christ died and rose again in order to make of all mankind ONE PEOPLE. I mean by "all mankind" from all nations, not that everyone is one or will be one. That can only happen IN CHRIST, by faith (Eph. 2:8-9). But don't miss the beauty of oneness, this union of believers with their Lord that is most like heaven though begun on earth! Please read this beautifully written explanation of such a grand truth from Octavius Winslow:

“One Lord.” (Ephesians 4:5)

The Church is also one in the Son- “There is one Lord.” The Lord Jesus is the one Head, as He is the one Foundation, of the Church. All believers are chosen in Christ, blessed in Christ, saved in Christ, preserved in Christ, and in Christ will be glorified. The work of Christ is the one resting-place of their souls. They rely for pardon upon the same blood, for acceptance upon the same righteousness, and for sanctification upon the same grace.

One in Christ, all other differences and distinctions are merged and forgotten: “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Blessed truth! the “righteousness of God, which is unto all and upon all those who believe,” imparts the same completeness to all believers in Christ. Upon the breastplate of the great High Priest, now within the veil, every, name is alike written- not a sectarian appellation dims the luster of the “Urim and the Thummim,” in whose glowing light the names of all the saints are alike enshrined. What a uniting truth is this!

Jesus is the one Head of life, light, and love, to all His saints. He carried the transgression of all- He bore the curse of all- He endured the hell of all- He pardons the sin of all- He supplies the need of all- He soothes the sorrows of all, and He lives and intercedes for all. To Him all alike repair, it is true, with different degrees of knowledge and of faith, and from different points; yet, to Jesus, as to one Savior, one Brother, one Lord, they all alike come. Oh! what a cementing principle is this! The body of Christ- the purchase of the same blood, loved with the same affection, and in heaven represented by the same Advocate, and soon, oh, how soon, to be “gloried together” with Him.

What love, then, ought I to bear towards Him whom Jesus has so loved! How can I feel coldly, to, or look unkindly at, or speak uncharitably of, one whom Jesus has redeemed with the same precious blood, and whom He carries each moment in the same loving heart?

Sunday, April 10

A Poignant Reminder

 In the face of a glut of media options, one source of God's grace must never be neglected by believers nor rejected by the lost. Listen to this short video as just a little reminder of the vitality of this greatest of all books!

Tuesday, April 5

Confessing Christ Without Flinching

"We are not to be ashamed to confess Christ before men, and to let others know what He has done for our souls. If we have found peace through His blood and been renewed by His Spirit, we must not shrink from avowing it, on every proper occasion. It is not necessary to blow a trumpet in the streets, and force our experience on everybody’s notice.

All that is required is a willingness to acknowledge Christ as our Master, without flinching from the ridicule or persecution which by so doing we may bring on ourselves. More than this is not required; but less than this ought not to content us."

Monday, April 4

Happy 30th Anniversary, Phyllis!

We say we love Christ? That will become evident enough in time. True love cannot be restrained. It could be argued that a love that must be broadcast to be believed is not a very convincing love. Still, they who love will not hesitate to broadcast it. 

Today is my beloved wife's and my 30th anniversary. I couldn't have imagined being given a better gift than she--sagacious, peaceful, humorous, thoughtful, and fun! Truly, God is merciful to David. In God's providence, we have both grown stronger in our love for Jesus Christ, and thus, for one another. We have not reneged in telling our Youth and the Church, however, that our love for Christ supersedes our marital love. It is the way God ordained it a la the First and Great Commandment. It is the way we both want it as well. Those who insist upon being the center of their relationship force upon their love such a stifling constriction that it will eventually implode upon itself and one will be left holding only the remnants of a love that might have been. That God in Christ has provided that we enjoy the privilege of loving God at all sets our hearts to dancing! What greater gift could our Lord God have given than to know--intimately--the Creator of the universe?! And for two people to know Him unites them both to the Awesome as well as to one another. 

One Lord, one purpose, yes a single-minded pursuit of God's glory unites this happy couple in the only quest of a life-time we could never regret. Better, it is the pursuit that multiplies blessings on one another the longer we live because we serve the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15–16)

I cannot say I understand why many couples suffer so in their marriages when they claim to have married in faith. My heart goes out to them. We looked for (and God found) someone who honestly loved God when we married. Phyllis and I both urge singles, "Be satisfied to be single if God so orders it. And if you feel that that is not your gift, then look for and wait for someone who doesn't just say they love God; find one who demonstrates it!" God is not so weak that he cannot find that someone for you if you are only willing to marry the one of His choosing. The Omniscient knows where they are! But our first call, our greatest call is to know the Omniscient One! 

Phyllis and I not only have never regretted it, we celebrate such an exclusive love to Jesus. In that love we find a deeper and more satisfying love for one another than either of us could ever have imagined. 

And for this we praise God's glorious Name!

Happy Anniversary, my love!

Sunday, April 3

Seeking God: What’s In It for Christians? Part 2 of 2

What does a spiritual seeker do?              
(From Daniel Jarvis, Life Action)

Looks for God. Evidence for God is everywhere: His creation, His church, His work in the world, His Word. Serious seekers don't settle for hearing about other people's divine encounters or rest in the knowledge that historical figures have obtained. They look. They search. They give God the same attention we would our lost keys on a behind-schedule morning.

Uncovers Truth About God. Christians should be researchers of God. We should give concentrated attention to learning, knowing, understanding, and discussing the character of our Creator. Like 49ers sure they are about to strike gold in the next shovelful, we should dig deep into the Word and ways of our Lord.

Journeys to New Places. Seekers are going somewhere. They aren't content to settle down. If there is more to know and experience of God, they will be out there, predictably, at the edge. Safe Christianity is, to a seeker, the epitome of oxymorons. For the Apostle Paul, Jerusalem would not do. Neither would Antioch, or Achaia, or Macedonia. He was out there on the edge, seeking the glory of God all the way to Rome! But then, as he told the Romans, he wanted Spain as well. Who knows? Had he lived long enough, he might have ended up preaching in Times Square.

Focuses on the Objective. If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. Not so for a serious seeker of God. Seekers may not have all the details, but they do have an objective. They want God. They won't be content with mere talk of a "personal relationship with God." They want the real thing. They plan for it. They head for it. If they get off-track, they get back on.

Explores with Sacrificial Devotion. Seekers are willing to lay aside other things, even things that matter, for the sake of finding. As we seek God, we must not underestimate the level of sacrifice He will require. It will cost much. Much time. Much energy. Much money. Much reputation. Much self-indulgence. The price is denial of the secondary for the pursuit of the primary. What sacrifices he must make along the way, a seeker will not know ahead of time, but he will make them.

Expects to Find Something. May I remind us of that great word of truth from C. S. Lewis—
            If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he can not imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.             Weight of Glory

But we are held back from seeking. Why?

- Distractions. Seekers can be distracted by other things they find along the way to their objective, even good things. One reason I decided against having television in my home is not just the potential to see evil, but the potential to see so much good . I have enough things to do without 24-hour, surround-sound distractions. I could blow a whole Saturday afternoon watching news commentary or reruns of police shows. I can get plenty of entertainment via movies here and there, or heading for a friend's house, or something else. For you it may be something radically different. It may be something wonderful like a friendship, or a particular doctrinal position you enjoy studying, or (gasp) even participating in church activities. Be sure not to let temporary things rob you of a dynamic, contagious relationship with the Creator.

- Substitution. Could it be that seekers are often allured by the promise of other things? The siren songs of false satisfaction? We seek after God for spiritual intimacy, for the joy of Christ, for the purpose of life, and for so much more. But there are other, easier things that promise the same type of fulfillment. They don't deliver, but we have trouble remembering that. At least I know I do. Don't settle for a substitute, seeker! Look for the real thing, and don't give up until you find Him.

- Impatience. Sometimes we seekers don't lack desire, we lack patience. We want to know God, but only if it fits into our schedule. Don't lose the vision of what a life with God could be like. Be willing to put in the time and effort necessary to find it.

- Misconceptions. Sometimes we seek things that don't exist. We seek a god entirely different from the God of the Bible. When He doesn't meet our expectations, we stop seeking Him, or settle for deception. If your destination doesn't exist, no map, and no amount of honest seeking, can get you there.

- Weariness. It doesn't happen overnight. Finding God, that is. And it's not out of the question that you'll get tired along the road. You might encounter a long stretch, a time that some might call "dryness" and others might see as a valley between mountaintops. The daily spiritual exercises necessary to cultivate a deep relationship with God are just that—exercises.

Do you see the need to seek God? If you do not, will you pray to see it? You sacrifice everything great on the altar of lesser things.

If you’ve been seeking God (some of you all your lives), will this message urge you on?

Let us turn unfilled for the wonderful filling of God today. 


Saturday, April 2

Seeking God: What’s In It for Christians? Part 1 of 2

Christians need to return to the doctrine of seeking God. There has developed an attitude (most likely unintentionally) that imagines that once you have been saved you no longer need to seek God. And this makes sense IF you have the notion that at the new birth you’ve found Him! Way back in 1948, A. W. Tozer wrote about this in what has become a classic book entitled “The Pursuit of God.” In the chapter “Following Hard After God” Tozer writes:

How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.
This is perceptive. But Tozer goes on to make a point that sounds like he just wrote this yesterday! He says,

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.

I finish this quotation with a sentence he writes that wraps up this truth in dynamite: “When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God himself.”

Is it any wonder then, that complex but sweet lover of God, David, wrote: "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." (Psalm 27:4, ESV)

"You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”" (Psalm 27:8, ESV)

Do you see David’s emphasis? He was not yearning to be in church on Sunday. He was yearning to be in church, yes, but to do something else—namely “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” And we don’t need to limit the word “inquire” to prayer for something, unless that “something” includes above all the drinking in of the presence and power and beauty of God himself. That’s what we need today. We need God. Desperately. For an example of this, see Exodus 33:12 ff. 

John Piper states with great insight: “We are starved for the glory of God, not self.” And then he prays. . . “O Father of glory, this is the cry of our hearts—we want to see your glory as clearly as we see the sun, and to savor it as deeply as our most desired pleasure. Wean us from our obsession with trivial things. Open the eyes of our hearts and enlighten our minds to see the glory of your Son. Forgive the undue attention we give to lesser things. Have mercy on us for Christ’s sake, and fulfill in us your great design to display the glory of your grace.” 

Are there other Scriptures? 

After Israel sinned God said that he would come to them on this condition: "But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29)

"Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!" (Psalm 105:3-4) 

"Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart," (Psalm 119:2) 

"The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him." (Lamentations 3:25) 

"My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. .” (Isaiah 26:9) 

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you." (Hosea 10:12) 

Bear with me a little further as we see how the NT also urges seeking: 

And who among us has not heard "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) 

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1) 

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) 

Tomorrow: Part 2-What DOES a Spiritual Seeker Do?

Friday, April 1

George Whitefield on Philippians 3:10

Most who read my blog would be familiar with George Whitefield, the great 18th century English evangelist. I have long greatly appreciated Dallimore's biography of this true lover of Jesus Christ and dedicated preacher of the gospel on both sides of the Atlantic.

The resurrection of Christ's body would avail [the apostle] nothing, unless he experienced the power of it in raising his dead soul. ... This then is what the apostle means by the "Power of Christ's resurrection," and this is what we are as much concerned experimentally to know, as that He rose at all. Without this, though we may be moralists, though we may be civilized, good-natured people, yet we are no Christians. ... But he is a true Christian who is one inwardly; and then only can we be styled true believers, when we not only profess to believe, but have felt the power of our blessed Lord's rising from the dead, by being quickened and raised by his Spirit, when dead in trespasses and sins, to a thorough newness both of heart and life.
—From "The Power of Christ's Resurrection"
Read this classic at the CCEL

Weak Faith is Still REAL Faith!

We compare . . . too much! But there IS a comparison that aids our Christian growth--when we fail to exhibit proper faith in God and we see it. That is good. It is good even if it is at first hard on ourselves. I don't know how many believers have told me (even recently) how much they identify with the angst of the demon-possessed boy's father, "I believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:23). It was the Puritans from whom I remember first learning to find hope even in our weak faith. They taught that even if one's faith were weak, still it is real faith just the same. In that we take hope. Octavius Winslow also writes to this issue on the basis of this verse:
“O you of little faith, wherefore did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31.
Doubting faith is not doubtful faith. If the believer has not the faith of assurance, he may have the faith of reliance, and that will take him to heaven. All the doubts and fears that ever harassed a child of God cannot erase his name from the Lamb’s book of life, nor take him out of the heart of God, nor shut him out of glory. “Unbelief,” says Rutherford, “may perhaps tear the copies of the covenant which Christ has given you; but He still keeps the original in heaven with Himself. Your doubts and fears are no parts of the covenant; neither can they change Christ.”
So Christ has done everything that we need in order to find sweet rest in complete deliverance.

Grace Outstretches All Our Weaknesses
“The doubts and fears of the elect,” remarks another, “are overruled by almighty grace to their present and eternal good; as conducing to keep us humble at God’s footstool, to endear the merits of Jesus, and to make us feel our weakness and dependence, and to render us watchful unto prayer.” Did ever an unregenerate, lifeless soul entertain a doubt or fear of its spiritual condition? Never. Was it ever known anxiously and prayerfully to question or to reason about its eternal state? Never. Do I seek to strengthen your doubts? No; but I wish to strengthen your tried and doubting faith.
Now, a Word of Hope
I would tell you, for your encouragement, that the minutest particle of grace has eternal glory in it, even as the smallest seed virtually contains all that proceeds from it- the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear. Faint not, nor be discouraged in your trial of faith. There is not a sweeter way to heaven than along the path of free grace, paved with hard trials. It was the way which He trod who was “full of grace.” Rich though He was in grace, yet see how deeply He was tried. Think not, then, that your sore trials are signs of a graceless state. Oh no! The most gracious saints have been the most tried saints. (Emphasis mine)
Tell the Lord Your Weaknesses
But do not rest here. There is still richer, surer comfort for you- even the fulness of grace that is in Jesus- grace, ever flowing, and yet ever full. Disclose to Him your doubts and fears. Tell Him you desire Him above all good. Plunge into the sea of His fulness; and He, who has created in your soul a thirst for grace, will assuredly and bountifully give you the grace for which you thirst.
Ah, you may have a doubting faith, but it IS a REAL faith! Take hope in that and move forward in Christ's name!