My Most Important Resolution for 2012, Part 2

You can click here if you missed Part 1

What does any of what I shared in Part 1 have to do with what I regard as my most important resolution for this new year?

The answer was found in my Scripture reading Tuesday morning.

First of all, Psalm 29:1-2 reminded me that God is a God of glory, strength, and holiness. As I mentioned Tuesday, it is in both knowing about God, as well as knowing relationally the true and living God of Holy Scripture, that leads (or ought to lead) me to worship him.

Conversely, in Romans 1:18-20, the Apostle Paul warns us against suppressing the clear and knowable revelation of God through our wickedness. God, Paul teaches us, has made himself known to all people everywhere and it is only in rebellion that people falsely claim ignorance. Paul says that no one can legitimately make that excuse.

Jesus himself, in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9:18-20), asks those closest to him who other people believe he is. He then brings it closer to him by asking them who they believe he is. Knowing him clearly and truly mattered (and matters) to our Lord.

In Romans 1:1-4, the Apostle drives home a similar point by teaching us who Jesus is, both as fully human and fully divine. Just as Peter had declared, so Paul also reminds us… Jesus is the “Christ,” the “Messiah” of God and Lord. He is the Son of God and the very center of the gospel of God.

Knowing God and his Son, Jesus Christ, (as I mentioned last time, from John 17:3), is a big deal. One might make the case that it is the only deal that really matters. Whether or not we would want to take it that far, hopefully we would all agree that knowing God should be our greatest priority (In addition to John 17:3, there is also Philippians 3:7-11 and Luke 10:38-42.)

Tuesday morning I needed reminding of that because I all too often take my eyes off of God and turn toward idols of my making. Not only is that sin, in and of itself, (see the first two Commandments) but following after such idols leads me further and further away from God and closer and closer to destruction and despair (whether I realize it or not at the time).

Knowing God is the only thing that can save my eternal soul. It’s the only way to be saved from God’s wrath and for rest, peace, fulfilment, meaning, purpose, righteousness, joy, eternal life, and utimately, God himself. Idolatry leads me in the opposite direction.

Idolatry is a wide and comfortable road in which I will never be judged or condemned by the world around me. In fact, I may even be well thought of on that road. The road of idolatry, however, leads to destruction, regardless of how popular or how numerous the crowd is that walks it.

Knowing God (and seeking to know him better and better – in the fulness of all that that means) can be narrow, hard, trying, and certainly unpopular. Yet it is glorious and life-giving.

I resolve in 2012 to put my eyes back on God and his Son, Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. I want to truly know him. That’s what it means to really live. Other resolutions are fine… maybe even good. But I need to make sure that the “good” doesn’t become the enemy of the “best.”

Only one resolution comes with a guarantee… with a promise… and that is to know the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ, whom he sent.

Thanks be to God,
Dale

Tedder’s Top Ten: Prayer Websites

In his fantastic book on the spiritual disciplines, Donald Whitney makes the comment that the best way to learn how to pray is simply to start praying. It’s not that reading books about prayer is useless, but you can learn all kinds of things about prayer and never put it into practice. There’s something about going before the Lord in prayer that is the single best learning experience a person could ever have.

Having said that, there are many good resources available to aid us in our prayer life. In addition to Scripture, I have made much use of books of prayers, devotional works, prayer lists, pictures of loved ones, maps of persecuted Christians, etc. All of these and more have, I truly believe, enhanced my prayer life and made it a much richer and fruitful experience for me. They have helped to draw me closer to God. I’m indebted to the faithful saints who produce such resources for the rest of us.

There are also a great deal of helpful resources online. In fact, there are so many that I’m not sure how to divide up just the ones I know about so that there’s a nice round Top Ten list. Therefore, please know that the following list is an incomplete list on the subject of prayer. The following links will take you to websites that will provide resources about prayer, (and which will certainly help you in your prayer life), but will not necessarily include prayers and devotionals. I’ll share a list down the road that will include those things.

So, enjoy exploring the following websites about prayer. My prayer for you is that God will use the resources that you find at these websites and, through his Spirit, enable you to grow in your relationship and communion with our Lord.

Grace and Truth,
Dale

1.) Pray Magazine

2.) Prayer Today

3.) Prayer Closet Ministries (this site actually does have some great Scriptural prayers)

4.) Pray Big

5.) Harvest Prayer Ministries

6.) Prayer Transformation Ministries

7.) WayMakers

8.) Community Houses of Prayer

9.) Aldersgate Renewal Ministries

10.) Prayer Point Press Renewal Ministries

One to grow on.) Global Day of Prayer

Money, Sex, and Power: Part 2

Click here for Part 1

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. (2 Corinthians 5:9 NASB)

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians 5:9 NIV)

 What is your ambition? Your goal? Is it holy? Is it to glorify God? Is it to please God? Or is your ambition for money, sex, and power? That’s how Boa starts out this lesson… by talking about holy ambition.

Boa suggests that if the deepest and  most meaningful of our ambitions and life’s pursuits are not aimed at God, then they will be nothing more than the building up of ourselves. We need to channel our ambition in a godly way, always remembering that we play to an audience of One. Only by understanding and pursuing this will we ever achieve true and genuine satisfaction. We must first seek God and his righteousness.

The main idea of this lesson is that each man is wired differently. Even though there are temptations and sins that are common to all of us, no two men are tempted in exactly the same way. We each, as Boa puts it, have our own “flesh signature.” As Romans 7 suggests, the flesh is the power of sin in our members. Our bodies in and of themselves aren’t evil, but they can be energized for good or for ill – by the Spirit of God or by the flesh.

Our old capacities of the flesh are still around. They have not been completely eradicated. Thus, we still have the ability to displease God. The difference now from when we were unbelievers is that we now are able, in Christ’s power, to please God. We didn’t have that option before we came to know Christ. Galatians 5 bears this out. Until the final resurrection, we are able to sin. But when we stand before God, that ability to sin will be stripped away from us.

And yet, even now, our sin is not the deepest “us” because we are new creatures in Christ. This is why Christianity is not primarily about moral improvement. If that’s all it was, then our deepest selves would remain corrupted and sinful and fallen. But as new creatures in Christ, Christ himself is our deepest “us.” This is why our pursuit of pleasing God is a struggle as Paul suggests in Romans 7. The old man is still clinging on, trying to influence us.

This is not an excuse for sinning. But it is an understanding of why we do so. Richard Foster says that when an unbeliever sins, he is doing precisely what he wants to do. When a believer sins, he is doing what he doesn’t want to do.

Thus, if a person sins without any remorse whatsoever, we may well ask the question of whether or not that person is truly in Christ.

All this is to say that no two men are exactly the same. We each have those particular areas that tempt us more than other areas. One man may battle lust more than anger. Another man may wrestle with greed more than fear. We are each wired differently. Even within a particular area of temptation, there are different ways in which we will experience the temptation.

Regarding this, there are three things that happen when you become a believer.

  1. Some sins are quickly and immediately dealt with.
  2. Some sins are gradually dealt with.
  3. Some sins are besetting sins, by which Boa means fundamental flaws which never quite disappear entirely.

It’s that last category – that of besetting sins – that you need to be brutally honest about because you are going to regularly encounter them. You need to be prepared in advance to respond to the temptation that you know you will experience.

The reason you can be honest at this point is, again, because you know this besetting sin is not the deepest you. This is also why you need an accountability partner to whom you give permission to ask you from time to time about those very areas in your life. This reduces the temptation’s power because it loses its anonymity. That’s where its power is located.

The purpose in all of this is to encourage you to have a plan – a process of thinking – when you’re tempted… because you know you will be.

Stay tuned for Part 3.

Blessings,
Dale