What A Marriage! What A Gracious God!

When someone tells me that I “need” to experience something… or I “must” do such and such… or I just “have to” go somewhere… I often turn them off right away. I’m sure it’s a pride issue that I have. But my usual and immediate thought is… “I “need” Jesus… I don’t “need” this (whatever “this” is). Again, this is not something I’m proud of… it’s more of a confession than anything else.

So with that very clear caveat let me declare as best I can, you really ought to take 8 or 9 minutes to watch the following video. I received the following email this morning from DesiringGod which sets up the video…

The Story of Ian and Larissa

Dear Friends,

Desiring God exists to help people everywhere understand and embrace the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. And I would add, especially in suffering.

Being satisfied in God (or anything) always seems easier when all is going well. But when things you love are being stripped out of your hands, then the test is real. If God remains precious in those moments, then his supreme worth shines more brightly. He is most glorified.

The most meaningful testimonies I receive are when people tell me that it was a vision of the sovereignty and goodness of God that got them through the most difficult times of their life.

Here is one of those testimonies. I tremble with the glad responsibility of introducing you to Ian & Larissa Murphy in this video. Tremble, because it is their story and so personal. So delicate. So easily abused. So unfinished. Glad, because Christ is exalted over all things.

We have a big vision at Desiring God: we want to reach as many people as possible with our message of Christian Hedonism—the gladness of God in being God and in making people glad in him. We have at our disposal the amazing power of the Web. That is our main way of spreading.

But internet statistics can conceal as well as reveal. These are people. Each Website visit represents a real person with an eternal soul. What a responsibility! Pray for us that we would steward our influence well. And thank you for your partnership to make this ministry possible.

Love Ian and Larissa as you watch this amazing story. Pray for them. And us.

Your partner in the greatest cause,

John Piper
With Josh Etter

Here’s the video…

Foolish Galatians!

Galatians 3:1-5

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. [2] I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? [3] Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? [4] Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? [5] Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

 If we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, why do we always seem to revert back to trying to earn God’s acceptance?

This sort of question perplexed Paul. It perplexes me. The Church at Galatia – home of those “foolish Galatians” – was clearly taught that Christ had been crucified for sinners (v. 1). They had heard the gospel rightly exposited by the Apostle. And yet, they seemed to be setting aside the grace of God. For if righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21)!

So, Paul asks them point blank: How did you receive the Spirit: By observing the law or by believing the gospel (v. 2)? I’ll let Paul speak for himself in verse 3…

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

 The answer to his questions was YES. They were indeed guilty as charged. But all too often…so are we.

How often do we try to earn God’s favor and become enslaved to performance-based living, thus rendering Christ’s sacrifice for sin as worthless? While we know – or ought to know – that we are justified (or saved) by faith, we somehow think that everything else is up to us.

The biblical truth is, however, that although we must certainly pursue godliness for all we are worth, it is only by the power of the Spirit that we will achieve our goal of Christlikeness. And we access that power only by faith. Trying to live by your own power is like trying to cut down a mighty redwood tree with a chain saw that you never turn on. You will fail miserably and look stupid doing so.

Instead, we are not only called to begin with the Spirit in our justification, but also to finish with him…and to walk every step with him between those two points as well. Only as the Spirit pulls us along the track of life will our efforts amount to anything for the Kingdom.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

God Will Provide

by Dale Tedder
Selected verses from Genesis 22

Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son – the son of promise – the dear child that Abraham and Sarah had waited a century to have. It was this very son, Isaac, whom Abraham was to take to the mountaintop and sacrifice – to kill.

Abraham obeyed.

As Abraham and Isaac approached the fateful place, Isaac looked around, saw the fire and wood, but no animal for the offering. “…Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Isaac asked his father.

“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide…’” And he did. We know this story well. As Abraham prepared to offer his son, the Lord stopped him, and provided a ram to take Isaac’s spot. God provided.

The Lord tested Abraham (verse 1). A test from God is designed to move you forward in faith. The purpose of Satan’s temptations is to trip you up so that you might fall backwards. This was a test. And Abraham passed. He was blessed accordingly (verses 15-18). Why the blessing? Because Abraham obeyed God (verse 18).

This is the nature of covenantal living. If you obey God and the conditions of his covenant, God promises blessings (because he graciously sets the terms of the covenant… not because he has to). If you disobey, he promises curses. What either of those  may look like is not so clear. That God promises to work this way is very clear.

I wonder what blessings God desires to pour out upon us for our obedience today…and for tomorrow. Deeper faith maybe? More influence for the Kingdom perhaps? Greater responsibility? God specifically said that Abraham’s descendents would be blessed through his faithfulness. Might our obedience now impact our children and our children’s children after them (for a thousand generations)? I believe the answer is yes to all of those questions.

If God chooses to bless us in material ways, that’s fine. (And we really ought to point out that he already has and then some.) But shouldn’t the blessings we desire be things like, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven”? And shouldn’t the provisions that we hope God will bestow upon us be along the lines of an ever-increasing knowledge of him (John 17:3), a growing conformity to him, an ever-expanding influence for his Kingdom, a radical extension of his Kingdom into every sphere of life – that everyone in our “territory” would bow before our King in willing and joyful submission?

Abraham was obedient and God blessed him. Will you be obedient too? How? How is God calling you to faithfully follow him today? Abraham was asked to sacrifice the whole world to him – his beloved son. What form of sacrificial living is God calling you to? Will you obey?

Grace and Truth,
Dale

God Even Uses Bad Theology

The video below highlights a song from the early 60s. In college I read a devotion that took a few of the lyrics from the song to make a point about grace. God never ceases to amaze me. He used some bad theology from pop culture (which, I suppose, is like shooting fish in a barrel) to teach me about the Gospel. I’m not advocating for bad theology, just celebrating the ability of God to work it for good and his kindness in doing so in my life.

Enjoy the song… but beware of the bad theology (it’s fairly obvious). And by all means, please let me know if you can’t figure it out. :-)
Dale

Warning: This fun little tune will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Christ’s Call

Powerful!!! Sobering!!! Convicting!!!

from Gospel for Asia