Monday, November 26, 2012

Kindest When We Are Weakest

I know, we may say that Christ is kindest in his love when we are at our weakest; and that, if Christ had not been in the fore, in our sad days, the waters had gone over our soul. - Samuel Rutherford

The quote is from the little book I often refer to, The Loveliness of Christ, a collection of excerpts from the letters of the Scottish pastor Samuel Rutherford. These short quotes have been a great blessing to me. (Maybe you’ll want to order a copy for yourself? Click here.)

Do you believe he’s right—that “Christ is kindest when we are weakest?” And what would that mean if it’s true? If you belong to Him, I think it means…
  • When you are most vulnerable to temptation, likely to stumble, rather than watching for you to fail and preparing to be disgusted, Christ looks upon you with compassion and love.
  • When you’re carrying burdens that have already bowed your back and nearly brought you to your knees, our kind Lord is not annoyed that you’ve tried to lift something that too heavy for you, but instead is all the more ready to carry the burden for you.
  • When you’re depressed and sad, His posture is not impatience but tenderness.
  • When you’re overwhelmed with circumstances where disaster seems inevitable, He will lead you through.
  • When someone you love is struggling and you are powerless to help them, Christ is listening to your prayers and is still mighty to save.
  • When you’ve done your best but it seems no good has come of it, Jesus still uses your feeble efforts in ways you’d never expect, with impact that only He could produce.
  • When you’re too weak to cling to Him, He’ll never lose His grip on you.

Rutherford is right. Jesus really is kindest when we are weakest.  Actually the Apostle Paul heard Christ promise this very thing when he was feeling particularly overwhelmed and broken. Paul begged Christ to take away a “thorn in the flesh” but instead, Jesus told him:  My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9a).

Which led Paul to declare, with joy, Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10).

I never get tired of saying this: we have a wonderful Savior.             

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What Jesus Taught About Heaven

The other night I dreamt I heard my father's voice in the next room. As we often do in dreams, I tried to understand how this could be true. Is Dad really just through that door? He's been gone over 45 years.

My dream was a little unsettling. I still miss my dad after all these years. Sometimes the hole in our heart never heals this side of heaven. But since I believe my father was a Christian, the hope of heaven is real. And maybe heaven is, in some sense, just through that door.

So a disturbing dream got me thinking of heaven once again. (I wrote about it earlier: Who Will Be Waiting for You in Heaven). And I decided to look again at what Jesus told His disciples in the Upper Room.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:1-6
Even though I've read these words many, many times over the years, I found fresh encouragement.
1. Jesus wants us to be comforted and not to live in fear about death. Let not your hearts be troubled...
2. Our convictions about heaven are based on our confidence in Christ. Believe in God, believe also in me. 
3. Jesus said heaven is a place. I go to prepare a place...(The Greek word, topos, gives us English words like topography and topographical maps.)
4. This place is my Father's house. For me this is a warm and inviting description.
5. This house is a place for us to live in; it has many rooms.
6. Jesus has prepared this place just for us. I go to prepare a place for you.
7. Christ will personally take His people to this place. I will come again and will take you...
8. He wants us with Him and personally assures us that we will be.  ...take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
9. The only way to get to the Father's house is Jesus. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I think it is true that my dad is just through that door. The door is Jesus. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9

By the way, if you'd like to know more about how to get to heaven by trusting Christ alone as Lord and Savior, click here. It's a little website called "Two Ways to Live."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Because of Him

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 
1 Corinthians 1:30-31

 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 
2 Corinthians 9:15


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Is Christ's Atonement Fair?

At the heart of our faith is the atoning death of Jesus. He said His mission on this planet was to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). For us sinners, the stakes could not be higher. God’s word says unredeemed souls will suffer in hell. Forever.

But have you ever wondered how Christ’s atonement for sins could be fair? How can the death of one man be a just substitute for the sins of a multitude of people throughout time? And how is it that Jesus suffered for only hours on the cross, when without Christ, the sinner is punished endlessly? How can this be fair?

The truth that emerges from these questions reaffirms our love and admiration for our Savior: His life is so worthy, so valuable, that His suffering on the cross was more than enough to pay the penalty for the sins of all God’s people throughout time. He is not just a good man, He is the God-man.

Divine justice is fully satisfied by Christ's sacrifice. The reason is not that the Father is a “pushover,” as if He is willing to accept a symbolic payment--a few hours on the cross by His Son. No, the reason God’s justice is fully satisfied is that the suffering of Jesus is infinitely precious. That's why Jesus could say It is finished (John 19:30) after His hours on the cross. That's the amount of time it took for the substitutionary atonement of the perfect God-man to be complete. 
A single drop of Christ's blood is more precious than the sacrifice of a million martyrs. A single second of His suffering carries with it more righteousness than the religious efforts of all of humanity for a hundred centuries.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) because Jesus completely and finally turned away God’s wrath. We who are “in Him” are granted eternal favor because the impact of His offering can never be undone. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).

It's no wonder that we think of the Savior as precious beyond words to explain. No wonder that He is described as the pearl of great price, whose overwhelming worth and beauty so captured the one who found it that he sold all he had to obtain it (Matthew 13:46).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"I Must Tell Jesus"

I learned a new song recently. Okay, it’s really an old song, a hymn written in 1893, but somehow I missed it when I was growing up. So it’s new to me.

We did a “hymn sing” in one of our church’s home groups, and a lady in her 80’s requested this song: “I Must Tell Jesus.” The sweetness of this old standard blessed me immediately.
  1. I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
    I cannot bear these burdens alone;
    In my distress He kindly will help me,
    He ever loves and cares for His own.
    • Refrain:
      I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
      I cannot bear my burdens alone;
      I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
      Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.
  2. I must tell Jesus all of my troubles,
    He is a kind, compassionate Friend;
    If I but ask Him He will deliver,
    Make of my troubles quickly an end.
  3. Tempted and tried I need a great Savior,
    One who can help my burdens to bear;
    I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus:
    He all my cares and sorrows will share.
  4. What must I do when worldliness calls me?
    What must I do when tempted to sin?
    I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
    Over the world the vict’ry to win.
Look, if you’ve ever had heartache, loneliness, fear, disappointment, suffering, or failure, the most precious thing in all the world is that you can come to Jesus and He will listen and comfort and help. 

I love and admire and depend upon the Savior's kindness. Of course He intends that we be purified from sin. Trials and suffering are part of His plan. But even His discipline is delivered with a compassionate hand.

We don't have to be afraid to come to Him. He's already proven that nothing can stop Him from loving us, redeeming us, and bringing us home. So, when our hearts are heavy or confused, fearful or defeated, we must tell Jesus.

Anyway, whether this is a new song to you or an old favorite, I hope it’s a blessing. You can listen (and sing along) by clicking here:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just Try Jesus?

The other night  I wrote in my journal, "I seem always to be struggling to explain the glorious and infinite value of Christ's substitutionary death." In my heart I believe that if we could just get a clearer, deeper, higher, wider view of Jesus' sacrifice for us, we would never be the same.

Sadly what is often taught about our redemption is not focused on Christ at all. We hear about how we made a choice, we decided, we prayed a prayer, we accepted Jesus. As if it were a matter of such small, self-contained importance that we could easily, on our lunch hour, change our basic nature and our eternal destiny.

And when you start believing that "the choice" is man's to make, you ignore Scripture's dismal portrait of lost humanity--universally dead to God and not only unwilling but unable to choose God. (Just look at Romans 3, for example).

You begin to think that human beings are not really hopelessly lost apart from Christ, but only a whim away from turning their lives around. Conversion to Christ becomes the spiritual equivalent of trying out a new cell phone plan. Come on, give it a try. It might work for you, What have you got to lose?

Well, what we really lose is the miracle of Christ's infinitely valuable sacrifice, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and the precious mystery of God's sovereign grace. Making Jesus and His atoning work a commodity we can acquire with a quick prayer or a raised hand is to lose the real Jesus, and thus real redemption.

Admiring Christ, making much of Him, meditating on His perfect obedience, infinitely valuable sacrifice, and all-victorious resurrection will change us forever. 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 3:18).

Instead of "giving Him a try," we'd better give Him our lives. We'll find that He is more wonderful than we ever imagined, worthy of our trust and obedience, and all-sufficient for time and eternity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Reelection of Obama and the Sovereign Rule of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ entered human history “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). From the divine vantage point, it was exactly the right time and place for God to become flesh and dwell among us.

But let’s remember that the Savior came to a land and a people ruled by a despotic, corrupt regime. Rome was an iron fist and Palestine was in its inflexible grip. Slavery, economic injustice, governmental malfeasance, and a society devoid of moral restraints were the order of the day.

Jesus Christ was part of an oppressed minority, many of whom longed for a political solution to their problems. They were hoping the Messiah would be a charismatic leader who would throw off Roman tyranny and restore Jewish dynasty.

That their hopes were dashed politically is putting it mildly. Jesus didn’t just fail to win the popular vote or the electoral college. They killed him.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

After the Election

If I hear about one more poll, or one more analysis of the swing states, or one more pundit pontificating on "what's at stake in this election," I think my head will explode.

Next Wednesday morning when we wake up, Jesus will still be in charge.

So I am trying to have a Christ-centered, Christ-admiring perspective, while at the same time knowing that this is an important election, and that your (my) vote definitely matters.

Last night my wife had me read Erick Erickson over at He said,
People on the left are convinced if Mitt Romney wins blacks will be put in chains out in cotton fields and uteruses will be locked up..
People on the right are convinced if Barack Obama wins the stars and stripes will come down, the red banner of communism will go up, and this American experiment will be promptly concluded.
My world view is pretty simple. I think this world is destined to go to hell in a hand basket by design. I think things are supposed to go to pot. So if Barack Obama wins, I won’t be upset. If Mitt Romney wins, I won’t be running through the streets cheering. I think, either way, it is all part of the design. The world is going down hill. Barack Obama re-elected just gets us down the slippery slope faster in my view. For others, it is Mitt Romney who does.
God is sovereign and He is in charge and He will return. That is my hope and my ever present expectation.
 You should read the whole thing. Click here.