Sunday, July 29, 2012

War, then Peace

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~Romans 5:1

Why would we need peace with God?  I'll bet the vast majority of human beings on this planet are unaware that they are at war with the Ultimate Conqueror.  Hippies used to say, "Peace, man!" as a greeting.  One of the slogans of my teen years was "Make Love, Not War", and who doesn't remember the Beatles belting out, "All We Need is Love!"?  

The bad news is that God has declared Himself to be at war with every human being.  

Worse than that, it's a war He'll not lose.  It's a war we CANNOT WIN.  

Why, you may ask, is He at war with me?  I am not so bad.  I pay my taxes.  I've never killed anyone.  I'm a good person.  

Ahh, that's what you may think, but you've been deceived, my friend.

God is at war with every man because of man's sinful rebellion against Him and against His laws.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ~Romans 5:10
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. ~ Romans 1:18
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.~ Romans 8:7 

You're the Enemy

It doesn't matter how much you protest.  The truth is, you are an enemy of God in your natural state, and your mind is hostile to Him.  The wrath of God is against you because you do not obey Him or His law.   

and my wrath will burn ~ Exodus 22:24

They have made me jealous with what is no god;
they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
                           ~Deuteronomy 32:21-22

God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day. ~Psalm 7:11

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ~John 3:36

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ~Ephesians 5:6

The Good News

Justification is the good news.   It is a legal one-time act whereby God declares the sinner to be righteous on the basis of the work of His perfect Son, Jesus.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism explains...

Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 33

I, too, was at war with God.  I was in a battle that I could not win.  

Now, I have peace.

You can have this peace, too.  

Listen to a sermon: Peace with God or a Living Hell.

Read the Good News:  The good news of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Faithful Have Vanished!

If you have lived for any length of time on this planet, you'll realize that everyone utters lies.  Governments lie, students lie, teachers lie, big pharmaceutical companies lie.  

You've lied, too.  Admit it.

If you are a Christian, you seek to glorify God with your life.  That includes your words and deeds.  He who knows all things is well aware of those little white lies - they are worthy of damnation.

If you are a Christian, the pattern of your life is not that of continual falsehood.  The pattern of your life will be more and more truthful, as God works in you to will and to do His good pleasure.  He is conforming you to the image of His dear Son, who is Truth.

I've had a liar in my life for many, many years.  Psalm 12 gives me hope.

Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the LORD;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
You, O LORD, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

The Lord will cut off all flattering lips and tongues that make great boasts.  Those who steal from widows and orphans will be held accountable.  Those who buy houses and trucks and do not provide for their children will stand before God some day.  

God will take care of those who have been plundered.  

His words are pure.

He is to be praised.

He is to be trusted. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do you hope, or do you waver?

Abraham was old.  Really, really old.  His wife was almost as old, and as dry and barren as a desert.  They'd tried and tried and tried and tried to have kids.  Anyone who has ever gone through a few years of infertility and the accompanying medical intervention knows what it is like to wait and see, month after month after month, only to be disappointed.  Imagine doing that for 70 YEARS.  

No wonder they laughed.  (People often point to Sarah as a wife of little faith, as the one who laughed at the news that she would bear a son.  Abraham laughed, too.)

Genesis 17:17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
Genesis 18:12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
I wonder if God laughed with pleasure as He told Abraham the name of the son who would be born in a year's time.  I'm sure He smiled.

The point of this blog post is not the laughter
                             's the FAITH we see in Abraham.  

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.   Romans 4:18-21 ESV

In HOPE he believed against hope.  There was no hope for Abraham, humanly speaking, to have a child.  His wife was far past her time of bearing children.  She was OLD.  And dry.  And barren.

Yet NO UNBELIEF MADE HIM WAVER concerning the promise of God.

He GREW STRONG IN HIS FAITH as he gave glory to God.

He was FULLY CONVINCED that God was ABLE to do what He had promised.

How about you?  Are you wavering because of severe trials that have come into your life?  Are you shaken in your faith by the thoughtless words or deeds of another?  Has your beloved let you down, broken your heart so severely that your marriage is on the precipice of failure?  Are you facing loss - the loss of everything  for which you've laboured over the past few decades?

Are you broken, battered, bruised, and bent? Let these few poetic words from Jill Briscoe sink into your heart.

Bruised but never broken,Down but not destroyed,Battered by life's problems,Sick or unemployed:Struggling with a marriage -Rejected we might be -Bruised but never broken,His promise is for me.

Dim my wick is burning,Darkness all around:Few can see my life-light,Faith with doubt is drowned.May nail-pierced hands surround me,The breath of God breathe low -My little light flare upwardsAnd set my life aglow!

He heals the broken-hearted,He sets the prisoner free,Those desperate for forgiveness,For hope and empathy.He touches, strengthens, comforts,And turns their lives about,Bruised but never broken,Dim but never out!

~ Jill Briscoe, The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes, p.69, 70.

Amy Carmichael was a woman of great faith.  She penned the following:

If I cannot catch "the sound of noise of rain" long before the rain falls, and, going to some hilltop of the spirit, as near to my God as I can, have not faith to wait there with my face between my knees, though six times or sixty times I am told "there is nothing," till at last "There arises a little cloud out of the sea," then I know nothing of Calvary love. ~ Amy Carmichael, If, p. 16.


  • do not waver.  God keeps His promises.
  • do not doubt.  God is always faithful.
  • do not worry.  God is in control.
  • do not ever think God does not love you.  He showed His love at Calvary.
Press on!  Wait on Him.  Stand still, and you will see the salvation of God!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Peter Teaches that Trials are Temporary - Give Thanks!

He is not poor nor much enticed
Who loses everything but Christ.
It won’t be long before the rod
Becomes the tender kiss of God. 
~  John Piper

If I could only live with the faith of Peter, I would be happy. Peter reminds me of quick to act, so prone to put his foot in his mouth!  It's incredibly uplifting and comforting to notice how wise Peter was when he wrote the first letter in AD 64.  When Rome burned, the citizens lost everything.  They needed to blame someone, and Nero appeased them by persecuting Christians.  The purpose of Peter's letter was to teach the Christians how to live victoriously in the midst of hostility.  

  • without losing hope
  • without becoming bitter
  • while trusting the Lord
  • while looking for His return!
The Christian life is still a call to victory and glory through the path of suffering.  Joni Eareckson Tada knows this.  Elisabeth Elliot understands.  John Piper gets it.  Randy Alcorn has written about it. I add my voice to those who understand what it is to sit in a wheelchair for 4 decades, or lose a beloved spouse, or battle cancer, or watch a beloved daughter suffer.  I know something of pain, having suffered chronic pain for more than five years.  I know something of failed relationships, hopes dashed, dreams shattered.  I am learning that these trials are temporary, and are designed for good by a Beautiful, Loving Father.  

It is my heart to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called me out of darkness, into His marvelous light.

This is what I wrote the other day to some beloved friends:

Go and download Joni Eareckson Tada's book, A Place of Healing.  So good.  So insightful.  So helpful in thinking Biblically about the trials and stresses of life.  We are to give thanks in all things.

So, are your children rebellious?  God knows.  Give Thanks!  Thank Him, that He is in control, that He has redeemed you and saved you by His grace, so that you have a continuing relationship with the God of Glory, and can petition Him on behalf of your wayward children.  Thank Him for His comfort.  Thank Him for His ability to act.  Thank Him for sustaining you in the middle of your trial, and for comforting you in your grief.  He is able.  Give thanks!

Are your crops failing?  Is your business bankrupt?  Did your car break down?  Are you in financial straits?  Give thanks!  You know and serve Almighty God!  You are blessed beyond belief.  You are the redeemed child of the One Who sent His son to pay the price for all your sins, all your failings, all of  your ineptitude.  He is able!  Trust Him through this trial!  Look for heaven, hope in future things, for surely He will save you and keep you and take you to heaven and give you more than you can ask or think!  Thank Him!  Praise Him!  Glorify His beautiful name!  

Is your health failing?  Did you just get a diagnosis of a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad disease?  Are you nearing the end of your life?  Do you face pain, and sorrow, and debilitation?  Praise God!  Know that your new body in heaven will be one that will never have pain, or scars, or disease!  It will be lovely!  You will have health and strength that you have never experienced on this earth.  Trust that God will bring you through to the other side, and will give you a new body that is fit for eternity.  And praise Him for that!

Are your relationships hard?  Are you estranged from loved ones?  Do you feel the weight of sin that separates and misunderstands and causes strife and heartache and confusion?  Praise God!  He really is in control of everything, even the failed relationships and hard times you have experienced.  He is LOVE.  He knows your pain and sadness.  Take it to Him.  Leave it with Him.  Trust that He will make all things new, even these difficult relationships. 

God is good, all of the time, in every way.  He is good in the fires of Colorado.  He is good in the death of the kidnapped missionaries.  He is good in the life of those who suffer disease, or infertility, or bankruptcy, or abuse.  God is good, all of the time, in every way.

He deserves our praise.  

He deserves our gratitude.

He deserves our love.

We love Him, because He first loved us.

What grace!