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Archive for the ‘discipleship’ Category

Joshua Harris quotes G.K. Chesterton about having the wrong kind of humility.

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At Of First Importance there is a quote on how the Cross subverts evil.

Joshua shares Biblical truth for the financial crisis.

Christians in Mosul, Iraq, are being killed and forced to flee. The article alludes to the historical background of this but does not explain it fully. These believers are not likely Muslims who converted to Christianity but rather Christians from their family background or particular ethnic background. If they were converts, such radical groups would likely kill them for conversion. Historically, as Islam spread and conquered areas, Christians were allowed to live but had to pay a tax or be forced to convert. What is being seen in Mosul is a practice that dates to Islam’s earliest days. Let’s remember our persecuted brothers and sisters everywhere.

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Psalm 67 begins with a prayer for God’s blessings.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us

The prayer may seem self-centered to some, but for most of us such a prayer is natural. It is how we most often pray. We desire God’s blessings. We enjoy what He gives to us. However, the second and third verses to the Psalm gives us the proper reason for praying for God’s blessings.

that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
(The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001, S. Ps 67:1-3)

Prayers for God’s blessings must have God’s glory as their motive. His blessings are not for us alone, but for all humanity. We must share His blessings: especially, the spiritual blessings of the Gospel. Understanding this truth sheds light on a very familiar passage.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
(The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001, S. Jas 4:3)

When we ask for God’s blessings, we should take time to understand our motives. Are we asking for something for our own glory? Are we asking for something that we will be unwilling to share with others and use to bless others? Is God’s glory the purpose for which we pray?

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As I have been reading Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, my understanding of one key in overcoming sin has increased. Particularly in dealing with sins such as worry, anger, impatience and frustration, faith that God is in control of all details of our lives in invaluable. If I trust that God in His sovereignty allows all situations in my life, I will be less frustrated by them. I will be less likely to lash out in anger at anyone whose actions may interfere with my plans or goals. Daily contemplation of God’s goodness and sovereignty plus great faith in both are essential in the fight against sin.

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In my last post I shared my own cynicism regarding politics. It is not that I think it is wrong for Christians to be involved in politics. I also do not think that voting is pointless. My problem is when we put our hope in political solutions for spiritual problems. Humans are sinners who cannot be transformed from the outside. No amount of laws will change the human heart. No candidate will bring about perfect justice. Only the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life will transform a life. To put our hope in political change is a form of idolatry.

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Randy Alcorn has a useful post on suffering as an instrument God uses in the lives of believers to help us grow.

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I’ve been reading Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.  In it, he wrote a chapter about the sin of pride in which he pointed out the particular sins of pride that evangelical Christians are most likely to commit.  One was the sin of moral self-righteousness.  It seems that in an election year, many believers in the US risk falling into this trap.  Living overseas, it is easy to also fall into this sin as we observe various sins in the society and among the people where we live.

Jerry Bridges wrote, “I venture that of all the subtle sins we will address in this book, the pride of moral superiority may be the most common, second only to the sin of ungodliness.  But though it is so prevalent among us, it is difficult to recognize because we all practice it to some degree. In fact, we seem to get a perverse enjoyment out of discussing how awful society around us is becoming.  When we engage in this kind of thinking or conversation, we are guilty of the pride of moral superiority.”

We need to remember that only God’s grace separates us from society as a whole.  We are not saved because of our own righteousness but because of Jesus’ righteousness.  We should prophetically speak against sin in society, but only with humility that recognizes that we are made righteous by God’s action and not our own actions.  We should engage in social action, but recognize that the true transformation of people and society only comes about as people are changed by God’s power in their lives.  Therefore, the proclamation of the gospel and the making of disciples is the greatest act of social activism that we can do.

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