Saturday, 28 February 2009

Preach to Yourself

'I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing “ourselves” to talk to us! Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. Am I just trying to be deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you in the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s [David in Psalms 42:5, 11] treatment is this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.” Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have had but little experience.

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down” - what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God” - instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and What God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.

- Martyn Lloyd Jones, pg 20-21 of Spiritual Depression

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Cross Hurts Proud People

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? I think it means this: First, that the gruesome death of the all-glorious, innocent, loving Son of God for my sin is the most radical indictment of my hopeless condition imaginable. The crucifixion of Jesus is the open display of my hellish nature. And, second, when I see this and believe that he really died for me, then my old proud self which loves to display its power by climbing ladders of morality and intellect and beauty and daring dies. Self-reliance and self-confidence cannot live at the foot of the cross. Therefore, when Christ died, I died.'

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

What God's been saying to me

The biggest thing that God's been speaking to me about over the last month is summed up well by Calvin:

'The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but in that we want it too much'

I know it's not particularly profound but I need to be taught this lesson every day.

Peace and Truth

'Peace and friendship amongst men is a wonderful thing... At the same time however, God's truth ought to be so precious to us that even if we had to set the whole world on fire in order to promote it, we should be willing to do so!'
-John Calvin

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Sarah Edwards

'They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is beloved of that great Being who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him—that she expects after a while to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. There she is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight forever…. She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this great God has manifested himself to her mind…. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have someone invisible always conversing with her.'
-Jonathon Edwards on his wife Sarah

That's what I call a woman!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

How to be content without money

To be content without money you need to find something of greater value than money; you need to pursue a greater pleasure.

'Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?''

Hebrews 13:5-6
God doesn't ask Christians to stop loving money as an end in itself. He asks Christian to stop loving money by seeking greater contentment elsewhere. He commands Christians to seek Him as the root of all meaningful contentment. When God is your satisfaction money doesn't need to be. He is better than money. He will never leave us or abandon us. He will always be our guide and rock. Money provides a temporal basis for contentment. God provdies and offers Himself to humanity as the source of all deep life, joy and contentment.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Wisdom and Romance

'The problems we see in relationships today- the impatience, the lack of purpose, and the misguided emotions- are all expressions of foolishness. We need wisdom. Wisdom complements romance. Like the string attached to the kite, wisdom enables a romance to really soar. It anchors it, disciplines it, and brings it to its highest potential... When the emotional winds get dangerously strong, wisdom pulls the kite down to safety so it won't get destroyed... You're ready to start a courtship when you can match romance with wisdom.'
-Josh Harris, page 58 of Boy meets Girl

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Receiving Christ

Here are my notes from a devotion I gave at Olivet english language school last week...

'But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.'
John 1:12-13

1) Receiving Jesus requires:
a) Recognising who you are
i) Jesus is the light and we are the darkness-
We naturally hate the light:
‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it’ (1:5)
‘He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own but His own did not receive Him’ (1:10-11)

b) Recognising Him- you need to recognise Jesus
i) He’s God- Jesus is God (1v1)
ii) Everything was made by Him (1v3)
iii) In Him was life (1v4)- Life is all about Jesus- if you don’t know Jesus you don’t have life- you haven’t experienced beauty - He came to bring abundance of life (10:10)
iv) Jesus came to earth- the word became flesh (1v10)

You need to see that Jesus is valuable
You need to see that He is wonderful and worth following whatever happens to you!

c) Relying on Him
You need to trust who He is and what He says: He gives the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
Receiving Jesus is believing in Him

2) Receiving Jesus shows that God’s given birth to you. Receiving Jesus shows that God's given you life.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Were born = past tense
In these verse John makes a distinction between being 'born' and 'receiving Christ'
First: Born by the Spirit
Secondly: Receive Christ = Believe on Him

These two things might be very close together or years apart

a) Receiving Christ is your decision
This is why Peter preached at Pentecost: ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ (Acts 2:38)

When Jesus said ‘make disciples’ part of that = ‘Get people to receive me’

We’re called to gather people- people come to Jesus by hearing the gospel and being saved

b) Being born of God was God’s decision, not yours
When you were born naturally it wasn't your decision. You only responded to the act.
You then responded with trust and love towards your parent

V13: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
i) Not of the will of man= You didn’t decide =
Something happened that you didn’t ask for

ii) Not of the will of the flesh = This birth wasn't something that your sinful nature wanted.
The flesh loves sin not Jesus

iii) Not of blood = Doesn’t come through family
Just because you’re parents are born-again doesn’t mean that you will be

This birth is a re-orientation of who you are.
It’s a change of what you:
Crave for
Cling on to
Lust after

The Spirit gives birth to you and changes your desires

Once the Spirit’s done that you choose Christ because you finds Him attractive

3) Receiving Jesus gives you ‘God-rights’
We don’t deserve anything from God.
We've all sinned-
You might say: ‘But I’m a really good person, God will have to accept me’ = Your problem is pride

You are without hope if you like to yourself- you have no rights before God
I John 1:8 ‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.’
Why? Because God’s character is perfectly white meaning He can see how black you are.
We are dirty with sin- you like filthy to God until Jesus comes in

So we are without rights before God because of sin- we have nothing to claim off God
Society allows you to claim goodness from them – you have civil rights – you don’t before God
But God changes that- He offers us a right- something to claim off Him- access to His goodness- it only happens if you receive Jesus
What’s the right you receive? ‘He gave the right to become children of God’

4) Receiving Jesus makes you a Child of God

God says: I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” (2 Cor 16:8)

The God you’ve offended wants to be your Dad
You are His enemy and now He wants to be a good Father

All of Heaven praises Him, angels worship and say ‘Holy, holy, holy’…
And He chooses us to join them

Gal 4:3-7
‘Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.’

If you’re a son whatever you inherit what He has. We inherit God through Christ.

5) Receiving Jesus is the only way to become a Child of God
Some think that everyone is a child of God this is not true.
Everyone is an enemy of God not a child
To become a child we need to receive Jesus

Christianity teaches that Jesus exclusively saves
Islam doesn’t save- I need to say that because I care about Muslims

There are 2 ways to reject God:
Religion- doing the right thing, keeping the rules, getting proud and being damned for it in the name of God
Irreligion- rejection of God's standards

We need Jesus who kept the perfect standards of God for us. When we receive Him we receive His perfection (righteousness) this enables us to come to God and enjoy Him. The enjoyment of God is the worship that God demands from all of us forever.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

There's Hope- Jesus Died

I had a great time singing this hymn earlier:

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
shall never lose its power
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.

E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream
thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing thy power to save,
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave.

By William Cowper

It's a hymn filled with hope. Jesus died to wash away our filth! He did to cleanse us from everything that we naturally love. Through His death we are released from our enslavement to sin and into beautiful sonship. He's provided for us. There's more of Jesus' blood to wash away your sin than there is your sin to be washed away. God is more gracious than you are sinful! Guilty stains are replaced with pure white! Jesus takes away our disobedience and gives us His obedience The gospel is amazing!