Some Practical Advice for Christians

Do you use or have you ever heard of D.A. Carson’s Bible devotional called, For the Love of God? If not, I strongly recommend it. It is very simple to use. It has daily Bible readings and some very practical insights from Bible scholar D.A. Carson on a portion of that day’s reading. It is designed to assist you in discovering the riches of God’s Word and thereby deepen your love of God. So you can get an idea of what it is like, I have copied and pasted today’s devotional below:

SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR Christians (Phil. 4:4-9):

(1) Always rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4). This command is so important that Paul repeats it. Our responsibility to obey it is independent of circumstances, for regardless of how utterly miserable our situation is, the Christian always has the most profound reasons for rejoicing in Christ Jesus: sins forgiven and the prospect of resurrection life in the new heaven and the new earth–not to mention the consolation of the Spirit even now, and much more. Practically speaking, Paul well knows that the believer who is truly rejoicing in the Lord cannot possibly be a back-biter, a cheat, a whiner, a thief, or lazy, bitter, and filled with hate.

(2) Be known for gentleness (Phil. 4:5). That is almost a delicious oxymoron. So much in our culture wants us to be known for aggressiveness, or for some intrinsic strength or superiority. The gentle person does not usually think in terms of being known. But Paul wants us so to focus on gentleness that eventually we become known for gentleness. The ground Paul offers is that the Lord is “near.” In this context, probably Paul does not mean that the Lord’s coming is near, but that the Lord himself is never far from his people: he is near, and is watching us, as he watches over us, all the time. That becomes our motivation for acting as he wishes us to act.

(3) Stop worrying (Phil. 4:6-7). Paul is not advocating irresponsible escapism, still less a Pollyanna-like optimism. Moreover, strictly speaking he is not telling us to stop worrying and nothing more, but rather he tells us how to stop worrying–by replacing this constant fretting with something else: “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving [there’s the praise theme again], present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). Paul does not deny the agony and sorrow of many human experiences. How could he? His letters show that he suffered his share of the worst. But he knows the solution. Either worrying drives out prayer, or prayer drives out worrying. Moreover, Paul insists, this disciplined, thankful, intercessory prayer brings with it “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).

(4) Think holy thoughts (Phil. 4:8-9). Garbage in, garbage out. We are renewed by the transforming of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). So watch what you feed your mind; watch what you think; determine to drive your mind into good and healthy channels, not those characterized by bitterness, resentments, lust, hate, or jealousy. Reflect on all the kinds of things Paul includes in his diverse list of verse 8. Moreover, here too Paul serves as an important example (Phil. 4:9): he is not telling us to do anything he does not practice himself.

Pretty good stuff, eh? You can buy it in book format (it is in 2 volumes) or you can just click here and read it for free in a blog/digital format!

John Calvin On The Christian Life

I just read this and had to share it. It resonates deeply with my soul. After quoting Romans 12:1-2, Calvin writes:

This is a marvelous thing – we are consecrated and dedicated to God to the end that we might not think, speak, meditate, or act unless it be to His glory. The sacred can’t be put to profane use without injustice to God. If we are not our own but the Lord’s, it’s clear what errors we must flee, and what we must direct our whole lives toward. We are not our own; therefore, neither our reason nor our will should dominate our plans and actions. We are not our own; therefore, let us not make the gratification of our flesh our end. We are not our own; therefore, let us forget ourselves and our own interests. Rather, we are God’s. Therefore, let us live and die to Him. We are God’s. Therefore, let His wisdom and His will govern all our actions. We are God’s. Therefore, let us – in every way in all our lives – run to Him as our only proper end. How far has he progressed who’s been taught that he is not his own – who’s taken rule and dominion away from his own reason and entrusted them to God. For the plague of submitting to our own rule leads us straight to ruin, but the surest way to safety is neither to know nor to want anything on our own, but simply to follow the leading of the Lord. – John Calvin, A Little Book On The Christian Life, pages 22-23.

Admittedly, some days my progress in the Christian life is little more than staggering, limping, and crawling but I press on and praise Him for any and all success!Let us all who name the name of the risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fix our eyes on the goal of being wholly and solely committed to God’s glory. May it be our sole pursuit!

Are You A Patient Person?

I will be honest. I am not. In fact, as God graciously and perfectly conforms me more into the image of Jesus, I am learning that impatience is probably my greatest weakness. I am not happy about this. Patience is required for godly leadership. “The Lord’s bond-servant” says Paul, “must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged” (2 Timothy 2:24). Those who preach God’s Word are to do “with great patience” (2 Timothy 4:2). Not surprisingly, this impatience leads to misunderstanding and confusion and frustration not only in my own life but in my family and ministry.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 rebukes my impatience:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

 

In this familiar passage, Solomon talks about times and seasons. He begins by stating a thesis, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (v. 1). He then proceeded to illustrate it and prove it to be true (verses 2-8). Clearly, God has a fitting time for each thing to be done. Timing is critical in everything. Timing is something that has to be God-directed. This is why I am more and more convinced that one of Satan’s greatest ploys is to rush us. Noise and haste are usually of the devil.

Added to this are a few more very fitting verses on waiting:

  • Psalm 25:21: “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You.”
  • Psalm 37:7: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…”
  • Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

God’s Word to you and me over and over is to wait on the Lord!

The supreme example of this is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who saw and understood his entire life was on God’s sovereign schedule (see John 12:23, 27; 17:1). There was no noise or haste in his life. He did not succumb to Satan’s ruse to rush him (see Matthew 4 and the wilderness temptation). Jesus perfect patience rebukes my impatience.

So here I am rebuked – graciously, lovingly, opportunely – rebuked. How about you? God’s timing is nothing like ours. W must learn to be still and quiet and to wait on him through prayer and study of God’s Word. This is not wasted time. There is no better way to determine God’s timing and grow in the perfect patience of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

9 Ways Satan Seeks Your Destruction

From Christianity.com: 

  1. He plants doubts and lies (Gen. 3)
  2. He fights against your faith (Eph. 6:12)
  3. He will tempt you with sexual immorality (1 Cor. 7:5)
  4. He will try to cause disunity amongst Christians (Mt. 13:38-39; 2 Cor. 11:13-15)
  5. He will slander you before God (Rev. 12:10)
  6. He will try to take you down through pride (1 Pet. 5:6-8)
  7. He will persecute you for your faith (Rev. 2:10)
  8. He will try to cripple your faith through fear (2 Cor. 4:8-9)
  9. He will try to sidetrack you with worldly things (1 John 2:15-16)

Click here for further explanation of each point. 

One of the Greatest Statements of Faith in All of Scripture

Satan is anything but inept at his work. He does not attack Job in stages allowing Job time to recover after each attack. Instantaneously, Satan destroyed all that Job and his wife possessed. Their pain was excruciating; their loss, unimaginable. Yet Job responds with one of the greatest statements of faith in all of Scripture:

  • “‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (Job 1:21).'”

Job recognizes that God gave him everything and that He was the source of all his blessing. He came into this world with nothing, and he would leave this world with nothing. Anything acquired during his life was by God’s blessing alone. Certainly, he was in great agony yet he acknowledged God’s goodness even in tragedy. Job’s thankfulness characterized his trust and reliance upon the Lord.

Later Job will gives us another gem of faith in response to his wife’s lapse of faith:

  • “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble (Job 2:10)?”

Job’s faith was not a fair weathered faith. He relied on God in good times and in bad times. His was a faith that endures to the end.

May God grant to each of us a faith like this that accepts what God wills as what is best. When He wills sickness, sickness is better than health When He wills weakness, weakness is better than strength. When He wills reproach, reproach is better than honor. When He wills poverty, poverty is better than wealth. When He wills persecution, persecution is better than peace. When He wills valleys, valleys are better than mountaintops. When He wills death, death is better than life. Do we struggle to believe and accept this? We must pray.

Fundamental

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.”

– Proverbs 13:1

Fundamental to all that Proverbs teaches is the notion that we do not in and of ourselves think correctly about life and that we each need the corrective instruction…

  • of God – “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke.” – Proverbs 3:11
  • of our parents – “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” – Proverbs 1:8
  • of God’s people – “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” – Proverbs 10:17

It should come as no surprise then that to reject the corrective instruction of God and others is to reject the fundamental principle of wisdom: the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).

Travailing in Birth for Souls

What contradictions meet
In ministers’ employ!
It is a bitter sweet,
A sorrow full of joy:
No other post affords a place
For equal honor, or disgrace!

Who can describe the pain
Which faithful preachers feel;
Constrained to speak, in vain,
To hearts as hard as steel?
Or who can tell the pleasures felt,

The Savior’s dying love,
The soul’s amazing worth;
Their utmost efforts move,
And draw their bowels forth:
212 They pray and strive, their rest departs,
Till CHRIST be formed in sinners hearts.

If some small hope appear,
They still are not content;
But, with a jealous fear,
They watch for the event:
Too oft they find their hopes deceived,
Then, how their inmost souls are grieved!

But when their pains succeed,
And from the tender blade
The rip’ning ears proceed,
Their toils are overpaid:
No harvest–joy can equal theirs,
To find the fruit of all their cares.

On what has now been sown
Thy blessing, LORD, bestow;
The pow’r is thine alone,
To make it spring and grow:
Do thou the gracious harvest raise,
And thou, alone, shalt have the praise.

– Olney Hymns, Book 2, Hymn 26 by John Newton