Sunday, June 30, 2013

Know This Dreadful Deformity of Your Soul and Your Deliverance - John Piper

This is a lesson in self-knowledge for the sake of worship and righteousness.

Something terrible and profound happened to all humans when Adam sinned. All except Jesus, that is, “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Something came into the world that had not been there before — something very powerful and very deadly in everyone of us.
But it was not exactly a “thing.” Yet it was more than the bad things we do. Sin and sinning are not the same. We do sinful things because there is this something in us called “sin.” It is a dreadful and deadly deformity of every one of us.
Consider these amazing statements from the Bible about who you are before and after conversion to Christ.

The Reign of Sin

“All are under sin” (Romans 3:9). “I am sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). “You were onceslaves of sin” (Romans 6:17, 20). In other words, before the power of grace through Christ entered our lives, we were not just tempted by sin, we were ruled by it. Under it. Slaves to it.
So sin was not just what we did. It was the master that governed what we did. It was like a king over a territory. “Sin reigned” (Romans 5:21).
Not only is sin deeper than bad deeds, it is also deeper than bad desires. “Sin produced in me all kinds of covetousness” (Romans 7:8). Covetousness is wrong desire. And sin “produces covetousness.” So sin is something deeper than desire. It produces sinful desires. It has desires (Romans 6:12).
Sin is not just the bad deed and not just the bad desire, it is the doer and the desirer. So when Paul says he often does what he doesn’t want to do, he exclaims, “So it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (Romans 7:16–17). Sin is not just the bad deed or desire. It is the dreadfully deep, powerful doer of the deed and the desire.

What God Did

Yet Paul does not excuse himself. “Wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24). Which means that this dreadful, deep, destructive power is who we are apart from Christ. It is not like a virus in me. It is a profound defect of me. The dreadful nature of sin is not just that itindwells me but that it defines me. It is me.
Know this about yourself. Don’t be na├»ve. Don’t be ignorant of your very nature. How will you worship your Redeemer, if you do not know what he has done for you? How will you pursue righteousness, if you do not know the deepest obstacle?
“Christ has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21). And when he died, all those who are his died with him and — united to him. “We have been united with him in a death like his” (Romans 6:5). This is what happens through faith in Christ, expressed in baptism.
“Our old self was crucified . . . that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20). That dreadful, desire-producing, deed-producing, me-defining power died when I died with Christ.

Living in God’s Victory

What then shall we do? “You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). In Jesus Christ! “Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are . . .under grace” (Romans 6:14). Once “under sin” as king. Now “under grace” as king — “so that, as sin reigned, . . . grace also might reign” (Romans 5:21).
“Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are . . . under grace” (Romans 6:14). “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God” (Romans 6:22). And it was God himself who freed you. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17).
It was God who dealt with sin in the death of Christ. It was God who put the monster sin to death. It was God who freed you from sin’s dominion. It is God who reigns over you. And it will be God who daily, through your faith, goes on putting the crucified monster to death (Colossians 3:5). “By the Spirit” you put sin to death (Romans 8:13). We are powerless in ourselves. God is the great sin-destroyer.
Worship him. And in his once-for-all victory over this dreadful deformity of our souls (Hebrews 9:26), do not let the defeated foe reign in your body (Romans 6:12). “Exhort one another every day . . . that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). God has worked a great victory over a great enemy. Live in it.

June 30, 2013 - by John Piper @ Desiring God

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fallen Families and the Will of God


Genesis 26:1-27:46                   June 23, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

God’s sovereignty in fulfilling his purpose, plan and promise is never thwarted by our natural propensity to sin in just about everything we do. Our sin can never frustrate the will of God - but can in fact at times fulfill it While fallen families cannot change the will of God, the will of God can change fallen families. Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the World, came to through the fallen descendants of Abraham and Isaac. God can and will do great and glorious things in and through you and I and our families, when we give our hearts to Jesus.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lay Aside the Weight of Self-Preoccupation - Jon Bloom

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Want to refresh your soul? Want to run with more endurance today? Cease to be the focus of your attention.
The state of your soul depends on what occupies your mind. If your self is occupying your mind, forget peace and contentment. You don’t find those in a vacuum of needs and sinful cravings. And forget loving others. A self-preoccupied soul might like the idea of being viewed by others as loving, but ends up finding others obstacles that plug up its craving vacuum.
And forget joy. The soul does not find satisfaction in the self. It’s not designed to. It’s designed to find supreme satisfaction in Someone else (Psalm 107:9), and then to enjoy everything else because of that Someone else (1 Timothy 6:17).
The Self Will Never Satisfy the Soul
The soul is designed to worship, but not to worship our self. The self is not glorious enough to captivate the soul. We know this. Yet our fallen selves don’t want to believe it. We’re drawn again and again into the hopeless labyrinth of deception that is self-worship. We know we’re not worship-worthy—no matter how many self-affirming pop psychology mantras we chant. And yet we try over and over to satisfy our souls with other people’s praise—and if possible, worship—of our self. Our fallen natures seem to believe that if enough people admire us we just might believe we’re admirable.
Self-preoccupation is disorienting, because when we’re looking at ourselves we aren’t looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and we aren’t looking at the road we are running on (Hebrews 12:1). It’s disappointing because we never find in ourselves what we’re looking for. Therefore, it frequently leads to discouragement and despair. Ironically, we are then often lured into self-centered introspection, which leads us into a vicious cycle of self-improvement efforts, self-indulgence, self-disillusionment, new self-resolves, etc., etc.
How to Lay Aside the Old Self for the Sake of Joy
Self-preoccupation really is a sin that “clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). It’s hard to lay it aside. It’s so much a part of us that we can despair of ever really changing. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). The Bible tells us how to do this:
1. Deny yourself by getting your eyes off yourself. But remember, Christian self-denial is hedonistic because you’re denying yourself of what robs life in order to gain life.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24–25)
2. Look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and all that God promises to be and do for you through him. Only he will satisfy your soul (Psalm 63:1-3) and only he has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
3. Serve others. Strike a blow at self-preoccupation by focusing on others’ needs and concerns. Our Lord’s commands to love one another (John 13:34) and serve one another (John 13:14) have a double-edged benefit for us: they give us the blessing of giving and liberate us from the tyranny of self.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3–4)
Worldly hedonists believe that narcissism is the path to joy. That is a horrible lie. Christian Hedonists know that narcissism is the death of joy, because only God is our “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4, Psalm 16:11).
So join me today, for the sake of God’s joy, our joy, and others’ joy, in laying aside the weight of self-preoccupation by denying ourselves lifelessness, looking to Jesus who is our life (John 14:6), and giving life to others by serving them.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Heart of Man and the Purpose of God

Genesis 25:1-34                June 16, 2013                  Link for audio/video/document 

God’s promise to us through Jesus Christ is the inheritance we share with Abraham. But that was also the promise and the inheritance that was Esau’s – until he sold his “birthright” to Jacob. The heart of man and the purpose of God are more often than not opposed to each other. Those who cannot see beyond the moment forfeit their future. Esau’s failure is a reflection of our own failure when we live with the purpose of always satisfying our own physical and emotional appetites, which will always inevitably lead to a lack of hunger for spiritual things.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Submission to God's Sovereignty

Genesis 23:1-24:67             June 9, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

We are united back to back to God, through his Son, Jesus the Christ. He is our father and we are his children. We are “the church” – as believers who place their faith and trust in Christ’s work on the cross – we make us “the church.” We are the bride of Christ. The marriage union is meant to reflect the Gospel. Just as God sovereignly united Isaac and Rebekah, he sovereignly unites us to Christ

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Reason for Faith in Jesus Christ - Ron Block

Ron Block, one of the musicians with Union Station, speaks of how he came to faith in Jesus Christ and Alison Krauss sings a song written by Ron which reflects his own personal testimony.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Greatest Test of Faith

Genesis 22:1-19                  June 3, 2013          Link for audio/video/document

Abraham's faith and walk with God tells us that if God asks us to give something up, we will receive God’s blessings if we obey. Faith in God is not an acknowledgement of God’s existence. Faith in God is an obedient sacrificial love relationship with the sovereign God who created all existence and reigns over all that exists. Faith in God believes God gives and God takes away - and that God will give back with blessings beyond our expectations - even when His promises and His commands seem hopelessly at odds with one another.