For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. Luke 17:24
But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:2

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Galatians 6:14
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
Let the motto upon your whole ministry be - "Christ is All!" - Mather

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May Christ Satisfy Us With His Presence!

Thomas a Kempis prayed:
O Light everlasting, surpassing all created lights, dart down Thy ray from on high which shall pierce the inmost depths of my heart. Give purity, joy, clearness, life to my spirit that with all its powers it may cleave unto Thee with rapture passing man's understanding. Oh when shall that blessed and longed for time come when Thou shalt satisfy me with Thy presence, and be unto me All in all?

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation Of Christ

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Come Oh Sun Of Righteousness! Come Quickly!

Malachi 4:1-3: For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

Here's The Welcome Wagon version:

The Bible Is About Christ!

True & Better from Peter Artemenko on Vimeo.


Dr. Tim Keller says:
Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither He went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by His father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking His son up the mountain and sacrificing Him and say, “Now we know that You love us because You did not withhold Your son, Your only son, whom You love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold Him and uses His new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves His stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes His people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk His life, but gave His life to save His people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you - it’s about Him.

Christ is all!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Giving All Of Yourself To All Of God In The Face Of Rejection

Patricia Cornwell writes of Billy Graham's broken engagement and broken heart:
During his first year at Florida Bible Institute he fell in love with an attractive, dark-haired young woman. In 1938, he asked her to marry him. She accepted, only to reject him the following year because she was in love with someone else. It was a sharp blow, and Billy begged God to change what had happened, to somehow reverse the inclinations of her heart or of his.

But prayer, he discovered, was not a wish-book filled with slick promises of happiness and plenty; he learned that God often did not give him what he wanted because He'd rather give him what he should have.

In his greatest hour of dejection, he gave what was left of himself to all that he conceived of God.

Patricia Daniels Cornwell, A Time For Remembering: The Ruth Bell Graham Story (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983), 58.

The Mercy-Heart Of God Shall Stand!

A Hymn Called Mercy-Heart

(Song of Jonah)

To be sung to the tune of: “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less”

T’ward Nineveh God's anger rose
To plead with them Jonah He chose
But Jonah fled from God's command
No hope he wanted for that land

Refrain:
The mercy-heart of God shall stand
If we repent, He'll turn His hand
If we believe, He'll turn His hand
 
So on to Tarshish Jonah sails
But through a storm God's will prevails
To calm the storm, Jonah implored
The crew to throw him overboard
 
God's mercy-heart is true and free
Though Jonah's cast into the sea
He begs the LORD to save his soul
God sends a fish, he’s swallowed whole
 
Jonah is saved and thanks the LORD
By grace alone he is restored
Though from the ship Jonah is thrown
Salvation is from God alone
 
To Nineveh Jonah obeys
To preach whatever God portrays
His message speaks of judgment doom
And yet the king seeks mercy soon
 
All Nineveh indeed repents
God's mercy-heart of course relents
Gracious and merciful You are
Your love extends so deep and far
 
Oh be not angry, Jonah hear
God's grace is free to all who fear
Pity the nations; mercy run!
For God poured wrath on His own Son!

Christ Is The Most Beautiful!

"I am the Rose of Sharon." Song of Solomon 2:1

Charles Spurgeon commented on this verse:
Whatever there may be of beauty in the material world, Jesus Christ possesses all that in the spiritual world, in a tenfold degree. Among flowers, the rose is deemed the sweetest—but Jesus is infinitely more beautiful in the garden of the soul—than the rose can in the gardens of earth. He takes the first place as the fairest among ten thousand. He is the sun—and all others are the stars; the heavens and the day are dark—in comparison with Him, for the King in His beauty transcends all.

"I am the Rose of Sharon." This was the best and rarest of roses. Jesus is not "the rose" alone, He is "the Rose of Sharon." Just as He calls His righteousness "gold," and then adds, "the gold of Ophir" that is—the best of the best. He is positively lovely, and superlatively the loveliest.

There is variety in His charms. The rose is delightful to the eye, and its scent is pleasant and refreshing; so each of the senses of the soul, whether it be the taste or feeling, the hearing, the sight, or the spiritual smell—finds appropriate gratification in Jesus. Even the recollection of His love is sweet. Take the rose of Sharon, and pull it leaf from leaf, and lay the leaves in the jar of memory, and you shall find each leaf fragrant long afterwards, filling the house with perfume.

Christ satisfies the highest taste of the most educated spirit to the very full. The greatest amateur in perfumes is quite satisfied with the rose—and when the soul has arrived at her highest pitch of true taste, she shall still be content with Christ; nay, she shall be the better able to appreciate Him. Heaven itself possesses nothing which excels the Rose of Sharon. What emblem can fully set forth His beauty? Human speech and earth-born things, fail to describe Him. Earth's choicest charms added together, feebly picture His abounding preciousness. Blessed Rose, bloom in my heart forever! (Morning and Evening, May 1)

An All-Satisfying Portion In Him!

‎Charles Spurgeon wrote:
But when you have God for your portion, you have more than all else put together. In Him every need is met, whether in life or in death. With God for your portion, you are rich indeed; for He will supply your needs, comfort your heart, assuage your grief, guide your steps, be with you in the dark valley, and then take you home to enjoy Him forever. (Morning and Evening, May 13)

A Life Where Christ Was All

Randy Alcorn writes:
The streets of Cairo were hot and dusty. Pat and Rakel Thurman took us down an alley. We drove past Arabic signs to a gate that opened to a plot of overgrown grass. It was a graveyard for American missionaries.

As my family and I followed, Pat pointed to a sun-scorched tombstone that read: "William Borden, 1887–1913."

Borden, a Yale graduate and heir to great wealth, rejected a life of ease in order to bring the gospel to Muslims. Refusing even to buy himself a car, Borden gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions. After only four months of zealous ministry in Egypt, he con­tracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of twenty-five.

I dusted off the epitaph on Borden's grave. After describing his love and sacrifices for the kingdom of God and for Muslim people, the inscription ended with a phrase I've never forgotten: "Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life." (The Treasure Principle, 36-37).

May God grant us all unexplainable lives apart from faith in Christ - for our greatest, everlasting joy and for His greatest glory!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Prayers Of The Preacher That Christ Would Be All In All!

Oh Father please . . .

Help me come to the pulpit, not with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to Your people the testimony of God. Help me determine not to know anything among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Help my speech and my preaching not to be with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that Your people's faith would not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God! 1 Cor. 2:1-5

Help me to preach the Gospel and to present the Gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the Gospel! 1 Cor. 9:18

Help me not to preach Christ from envy, strife, or selfish ambition! Help me to preach Him from good will and out of love! Phil. 1:15-17

Help me to preach Christ, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that I may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus! Col. 1:28

Help me to preach the Word! Help me to be ready in season and out of season! Help me to convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching!
2 Tim. 4:2

Help me to preach the Gospel so that It does not come to Your people in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance!
1 Thess. 1:5

Help me to praise Your works and declare Your mighty acts from the pulpit! Help me to speak of the might of Your awesome acts and declare Your greatness! Help me to speak of the glory of Your kingdom and of Your power!
Ps. 145:5,6,11

Grant that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel! Eph. 6:19

Help me believe what I preach! Grip me with it and humble me with it, and help me exult in it until I am lost in wonder, love, and praise!
Adapted from Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Help me give Your people a sense of You and Your presence when I preach. Help me to give them a glimpse of Your glory and majesty, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel!
Adapted from Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Cut all the ribbons that tie me to the frowns and smiles of men and drive a steel beam down my backbone and free me to serve You for Your glory alone!
Adapted from Albert N. Martin

Please use me for Your glorious employ! Make me mighty in the Scriptures; make my life to be dominated by a sense of Your greatness, Your majesty, and Your holiness. Make my mind and heart aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. Help me learn what it is to die to self, to all human aims and personal ambitions; help me be willing to be a fool for Christ's sake. Help me be willing to bear reproach and falsehood for Your sake. Help me labor and suffer for Your sake. Please make my supreme desire not to be to gain earth's accolades, but to win Your approbation when I appear before Your awesome judgment seat. Help me preach with a broken heart and with tear-filled eyes! Please grant Your ministry through me an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and allow me to witness "signs and wonders following" in the transformation of multitudes of human lives!
Adapted from Arnold Dallimore

. . . for Jesus' sake – Amen!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Christ, All Things Sad Will Become Untrue!

I've been enjoying Dr. Tim Keller's new book, King's Cross, and there is a phrase repeated in the book that I love: "All things sad will become untrue." Speaking about the hope of the resurrection in Christ, Keller writes:
If you can't dance and you long to dance, in the resurrection you'll dance perfectly. If you're lonely, in the resurrection you will have perfect love. If you're empty, in the resurrection you will be fully satisfied. Ordinary life is what's going to be redeemed. There is nothing better than ordinary life, except that it's always going away and falling apart. Ordinary life is food and work and chairs by the fire and hugs and dancing and mountains - this world. God loves it so much that he gave his only Son so we - and the rest of this ordinary world - could be redeemed and made perfect. And that's what is in store for us.

And if you know that this is not the only world, the only body, the only life you are ever going to have - that you will someday have a perfect life - who cares what people do to you? You're free from ultimate anxieties in this life, so you can be brave and take risks. You can face the worst thing, even life in a wheelchair, with joy, with hope. The resurrection means we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be gone. But it even means that we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be glorious. When Jesus shows the disciples his hands and feet, he is showing them his scars. The last time the disciples saw Jesus, they thought those scars were ruining their lives. The disciples had thought they were on a presidential campaign. They thought their candidate was going to win and that they were going to be in the cabinet, and when they saw the nails going into the hands and feet and the spear going into the side, they believed those wounds had destroyed their lives. And now Jesus is showing them that in his resurrected body his scars are still there.

Why is this important? Because now that they understand the scars, the sight and memory of them will increase the glory and joy for the rest of their lives. Seeing Jesus Christ with his scars reminds them of what they did for them - that the scars they thought had ruined their lives actually saved their lives. Remembering those scars will help many of them endure their own crucifixions.

On the Day of the Lord - the day when God makes everything right, the day that everything sad comes untrue - on that day the same thing will happen to your own hurts and sadness. You will find that the worst things that have ever happened to you will in the end only enhance your eternal delight. On that day, all of it will be turned inside out and you will know joy beyond the walls of the world. The joy of your glory will be that much greater for every scar you bear.

So live in the light of the resurrection and renewal of this world, and of yourself, in a glorious, never-ending, joyful dance of grace. (Pages 223-225)

Keller's words hearken back to C. S. Lewis' words in The Great Divorce:
[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.

The opposite is true as well. For those who are in Christ Jesus by grace through faith, all things happy will become true! All the unfulfilled, intense longings and desires we experience in this life for joy, happiness, and satisfaction will be quenched beyond what we could ever ask or imagine in the life to come because we will be married to our great and glorious and perfect and most beautiful and most loving and most satisfying Spouse - The Lord Jesus Christ! This is good news indeed for the Christian!

John Piper confirms this truth with his comments on Romans 8:37: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

Explaining what it means to be more than a conqueror, Piper writes:
If you venture some act of obedience that magnifies the supreme value of Jesus Christ and get attacked by one of the enemies mentioned in verse 35, say, famine or sword, what must happen for you to be called simply “a conqueror”? Answer: You must not be separated from the love of Jesus Christ. The aim of the attacker is to destroy you, and cut you off from Christ, and bring you to final ruin without God. You are a conqueror if you defeat this aim and remain in the love of Christ. God has promised that this will happen. Trusting this, we risk.

But what must happen in this conflict with famine and sword if you are to be called more than a conqueror? One biblical answer is that a conqueror defeats his enemy, but one who is more than a conqueror subjugates his enemy. A conqueror nullifies the purpose of his enemy; one who is more than a conqueror makes the enemy serve his own purposes. A conqueror strikes down his foe; one who is more than a conqueror makes his foe his slave.

Practically what does this mean? Let’s use Paul’s own words in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “This slight momentary affliction is preparing [effecting, or working, or bringing about] for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Here we could say that “affliction” is one of the attacking enemies. What has happened in Paul’s conflict with it? It has certainly not separated him from the love of Christ. But even more, it has been taken captive, so to speak. It has been enslaved and made to serve Paul’s everlasting joy. “Affliction,” the former enemy, is now working for Paul. It is preparing for Paul “an eternal weight of glory.” His enemy is now his slave. He has not only conquered his enemy. He has more than conquered him.

Affliction raised his sword to cut off the head of Paul’s faith. But instead the hand of faith snatched the arm of affliction and forced it to cut off part of Paul’s worldliness. Affliction is made the servant of godliness and humility and love. Satan meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. The enemy became Paul’s slave and worked for him an even greater weight of glory than he would have ever had without the fight. In that way Paul—and every follower of Christ—is more than a conqueror.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), pp. 96-97.

Hear the good news from God Himself!

Isaiah 65:17-19: For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.

Romans 8:18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Revelation 21:3-6: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment."

ALL OF THIS IS TRUE ONLY BECAUSE ON THAT DREADED, GLORIOUS CROSS, EVERYTHING SAD BECAME TRUE FOR JESUS CHRIST, AND EVERYTHING HAPPY BECAME UNTRUE FOR HIM AS WELL - HE BORE THE WRATH OF HIS FATHER - GOD FORSAKEN BY GOD. BUT THE SADNESS WOULD NOT LAST, DEATH COULDN'T STOP HIM, AND THE GRAVE COULDN'T HOLD HIM! AND NOW, IN HIM, ALL SADNESS'S WILL BE GONE AND ALL HAPPINESS'S WILL BE TRUE FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER! PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Note: The phrase "everything sad becoming untrue" comes from the J.R.R. Tolkien book The Lord Of The Rings

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oh To Perfectly Enjoy God!

Thomas a Kempis wrote:
When a man hath come to this, that he seeketh comfort from no created thing, then doth he perfectly begin to enjoy God, then also will he be well contented with whatsoever shall happen unto him. Then will he neither rejoice for much nor be sorrowful for little, but he committeth himself altogether and with full trust unto God, who is all in all to him . . . .

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation Of Christ

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Great Mercy In Christ!

Psalm 119:17: Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.

Commenting on these words, Spurgeon wrote:
David's great needs required a bountiful provision, and his little desert could never give such a supply. Thus, he throws himself on God's grace and looks to the Lord and His great goodness for the great things he needs. He begs for heavy grace, like the one who prayed, "Oh, Lord, You must give me great mercy, or no mercy, for little mercy will not help me!"

Charles Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters, Ed. Roy H. Clarke (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 102.