Monday, February 21, 2011

The Soul of Man Never Dies - Tony Rice & Ricky Skaggs

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
(Psalm 22:25-26)

The Soul of Man Never Dies

To Canaan's land, I'm on my way,
Where the soul of man never dies.
My darkest night will turn to day,
Where the soul of man never dies.

No sad farewells. (Dear friends there'll be no sad farewells.)
No tear dimmed eyes (There'll be no tear dimmed eyes.)
Where all is love, (Where all is peace and joy and love.)
And the soul never dies. (And the soul of man never dies.)

The love light beams across the foam,
Where the soul of man never dies.
It shines and lights the way to home,
Where the soul of man never dies.

The rose is blooming there for me,
Where the soul of man never dies.
And I will spend eternity,
Where the soul of man never dies.

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever."
(John 6:51)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Glory of God in the Purpose of the Church

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)

Excerpt from “The Glory of God in the Church: People of Grace” – 2011-02-20
The glory of God’s grace in the church is that the purpose of the church’s existence on this earth is the same purpose for which we were created. In Isaiah 43:7 God said: “Everyone who is called by my name . . . whom I formed and made . . . I created for my glory.” As the church is to be the living visible presence of Jesus Christ on earth, it also to reflect the living visible purpose for which Christ came into the world. A few hours before he was crucified Jesus looked up to the heavens and said: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (John 17:1). In our text for today Paul writes: "For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” We in the church are to live out the undeserved abundant, unending grace of God we received from our crucified Saviour. Paul clearly defines that purpose in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The purpose of the church is to glorify God. Period. The purpose of every individual Christian and every Christian church is to glorify God. Whether we are worshipping or teaching or serving or praying or eating or drinking or sending out missionaries – the ultimate purpose in all that we do is glorify God. As Paul wrote of the basics of the faith to the church in Rome he said: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6). When corresponding with the church in Ephesus he wrote: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

God is saying to the church, the people of God: “Glorify Me!” The purpose of our very existence, as individuals created in the image of God’s glory, is to live for God, and thereby reflecting His glory. What does the church look like when it is glorifying God? The church is to look like God. Too often we make the mistake of changing what we do and how we do it in the church in order to be more relevant to our culture and the world we live in. The reality is, we as the church will be most relevant to our culture and to the world we live in – when we not like our culture and the world we live in. Those in our culture and in the world we live in are in desperate need of God’s grace – and we will be most relevant to those in our culture and in the world we live in when we are most like God - by extending God’s grace to them by sharing Jesus Christ with them – “so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

What does a church that looks like God look like? Grace. A church that looks like God looks like the grace of God. The church that looks like the grace of God is an imperfect collection of fallen, humble, desperate, self-denying, passionate, Christ-dependent, God-centered, Holy Spirit empowered people gathered together around a bloody cross - whose joy is in an empty tomb and whose eyes are ever on the horizon as they live out their lives fully committed to the One who gave them life. Our common ground together as a church is not the lie that we are perfect or good, but that we would all be lost were it not for the grace of God that we have been given through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Glory Bound - The Wailin' Jennys

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Isaiah 58:8

"Glory Bound"

When I hear that trumpet sound
I will lay my burdens down
I will lay them deep into the ground
Then I'll know that I am glory bound

I'll be travelling far from home
But I won't be looking for to roam
I'll be crossing o'er the great divide
In a better home soon I will reside


When I'm in my resting place
I'll look on my mother's face
Never more will I have to know
All the loneliness that plagues me so

So I'm waiting for that train to come
And I know where she's coming from
Listen can you hear her on the track
When I board I won't be looking back


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Irresistible Grace Overcomes Desperate Depravity

You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Excerpt from “The Glory of God in Salvation: Grace Received” – 2011-02-13
Because of the fall - sinful humanity is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately corrupt. Our wills are not free; we are enslaved and in bondage to our fallen nature. Given the choice, will choose ourselves over God.

Humanity’s rebellion against God is total not in its depth but in rather in its width. Human beings are not entirely sinful, but sin has extended into our entire being. The effect of the fall is that sin has infected every fibre and part of our person – our physical body, our thinking, our emotions, our spirits and our will. Even when it appears that we are doing things which are morally good, the sin in our hearts and our souls warps our motives, thoughts, intents and agendas away from God and towards the fulfillment and satisfaction of self. This is what the Bible calls sin.

Romans 3:23 says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 then says: "The wages of sin is death.” Because of the fall, we are all helpless and dead in our sin. Because sin extends into every area of our lives, we are therefore totally deserving of the punishment of eternal death. Since we all are “dead” in our sins, it is impossible for us to desire to make the moral and spiritual choices which God requires, whether it be for salvation or for everyday life. This is our natural condition apart from God’s grace. Terrorism, racism, war, abortion, aberrant sexuality, political division, cultural immorality, and spiritual self-centeredness are all proof of this.

Because we are totally depraved and dead in our sins – we can only receive salvation by God’s grace. Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved.” Since we are dead in sin, we cannot respond to God unless He enables by His grace us to overcome our sinful rebellion. It is by the powerful intervention of the Holy Spirit that radically depraved sinful hearts are awakened and then respond to the call of salvation. In John 6:44 Jesus said: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”; John 11:12-13: "To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God"; Romans 9:16: "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." We respond to the grace that God extends us – even in our total depravity, when we dead in our sins – because God’s grace cannot be resisted. By His grace, His sovereign will is always sovereign over our fallen, sinful self-will.

When we finally understand the depth of our sinful, fallen nature – we then begin to understand the depth of God’s sovereign grace.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mercy Always Comes Running

Here's a recent posting by Tullian Tchividjian illustrating how God's Law leads us to God’s mercy.
A friend of mine recently told a silly story about a man standing at the gates of heaven waiting to be admitted. To the man’s utter shock, Peter said, “You have to have earned a thousands points to be admitted to heaven. What have you done to earn your points?”

“I’ve never heard that before: but I think I’ll do alright. I was raised in a Christian home and have always been a part of the church. I have Sunday school attendance pins that go down the floor. I went to a Christian college and graduate school and have probably led hundreds of people to Christ. I’m now an elder in my church and am quite supportive of what the people of God do. I have three children, two boys and a girl. My oldest boy is a pastor and the younger is a staff person with a ministry to the poor. My daughter and her husband are missionaries. I have always tithed and am now giving well over 30% of my income to God’s work. I’m a bank executive and work with the poor in our city trying to get low income mortgages.”

“How am I doing so far”, he asked Peter.

“That’s one point,” Peter said. “What else have you done?”

“Good Lord…have mercy!” the man said in frustration.

“That’s it!” Peter said. “Welcome home.”

My friend who used this silly illustration ended it by saying, “Teach the law. The Psalmist called it perfect. Teach it until people are sick of it and cry out for mercy…Mercy always comes running.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Glory of God in the Freedom of the Spirit

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

Excerpt from “The Glory of God in the Holy Spirit: Imparter of Grace” – 2011-02-06
The “freedom” we receive from “the Spirit of the Lord” is fully knowing that we can do nothing to gain God’s favour or earn God’s acceptance or fulfill God’s law except to fully surrender our hearts and our lives to Jesus Christ. The “freedom” we receive from “the Spirit of the Lord” is accepting the truth that because of our sinful nature - anything and everything we are or we do and we have that is of any value and of any worth comes to us only by the grace of God because we are not “sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” The “freedom” we receive from “the Spirit of the Lord” is embracing the joyful reality that the Holy Spirit lives within us - and as we surrender our hearts and lives to Jesus, and in humbly acknowledging the depravity of our sinful nature, and affirmed our absolute and total need for God’s grace – the veil begins to lift.