Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

A couple of post ago, I mentioned that by focusing our lives on God, His Word and the souls of men, we invest in eternity.  Spiritual disciplines are a way of investing in eternity.  Many fear that if they practice the disciplines, the disciplines will become mere ritual or a form of legalism.  That is entirely possible.  There can be a very fine line between discipline and legalism.

If we are pursuing God’s favor by practicing the disciplines, we are falling to legalism.  However,  if we are pursuing God Himself and godliness through practicing them, we are making eternal investments.  In a future post, I will share some suggestions on how to practice some of the spiritual disciplines.


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I have to make a confession. In general, I don’t use my time well. I have those burst of organization and time well used that last a few weeks or perhaps a couple of months, but in general, the course of my life reveals a poor use of time. It would be easy to blame it on the overwhelming demands of a million calls on my attention, but it really comes down to this fact. I lack discipline, which I define as the ability to focus on the most important things needed to accomplish the most eternal objectives while avoiding distractions. The problem is that I enjoy the distractions and the escape. I am self-centered and in the guise of needing down time or time to recharge my batteries, I can escape into my own little world and do very little of eternal significance.

C.J. Mahaney has written a great series of post on his blog about redeeming the time. I found it very helpful and the links are below.

Are You Busy?
Confessions of a Busy Procrastinator
The Procrastinator Within
Just Do It
In All Thy Ways
The Sluggard
Time. Redeemed.
Roles, Goals, Scheduling
Roles (Part 1)
Roles (Part 2)

These posts have been very helpful in getting me pointed in the right direction. I hope they help anyone who sees this post as well.

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This quote from J.C. Ryle reminds us that Jesus is still very active at the right hand of God.

While I am not as big a fan of snow as I was as a child, Randy Alcorn apparently is. He reminds us to view things in this world with an eternal perspective.

Joshua Harris talks about the discipline of journaling which is something that I did more of last year and hope to make a stronger habit this year.

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J.I. Packer wrote the following in the introduction to In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement co-authored by him and Mark Dever. Just before these words he explained the atoning work of Christ as an act involving the entire God-head and then follows with this counter to those who criticize the idea of Jesus dying to receive the wrath of God in our place.

Since all this was planned by the holy Three in their eternal solidarity of mutual love, and since the Father’s central purpose in it all was and is to glorify the Son as Savior and Head of a new humanity, smartypants notions like “divine child abuse” as a comment on the cross are supremely silly and as irreverent and wrong as they could possibly be.

I am sure that some find this offensive, but before someone calls J.I. Packer unloving, it should be noted that he is attacking the idea and not the people who hold them. Also, can we argue with the logic? If Scripture teaches that Jesus atoned for God’s wrath, and I believe based on Scriptural evidence that it does, it follows that it is “silly” to disagree with God and say anything else. I would go beyond irreverent, and say it is close to blasphemous to call the greatest act of divine love ever expressed “divine child abuse.”

I have just started reading this book. It is has been very good thus far, and I am looking forward to reading the rest.

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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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“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
(Mat 7:7-8 NASB)

Andrew Murray wrote, “In the three words the Lord uses, ask, seek, knock, a difference in meaning has been sought. If such was indeed His purpose, then the first, ASK, refers to the gifts we pray for. But I may ask and receive the gift without the Giver. SEEK is the word Scripture uses of God Himself; Christ assures me that I can find Himself. But it is not enough to find God in time of need, without coming to abiding fellowship: KNOCK speaks of admission to dwell with Him and in Him. Asking and receiving the gift would thus lead to seeking and finding the Giver, and this again to the knocking and opening of the door of the Father’s home and love. One thing is sure: the Lord does want us to count most certainly on it that asking, seeking, knocking, cannot be in vain: receiving an answer, finding God, the opened heart and home of God, are the certain fruit of prayer.

“That the Lord should have thought it needful in so many forms to repeat the truth, is a lesson of deep import. It proves that He knows our heart, how doubt and distrust toward God are natural to us, and how easily we are inclined to rest in prayer as a religious work without an answer. He knows too how, even when we believe that God is the Hearer of prayer, believing prayer that lays hold of the promise, is something spiritual, too high and difficult for the half-hearted disciple. He therefore at the very outset of His instruction to those who would learn to pray, seeks to lodge this truth deep into their hearts: prayer does avail much; ask and ye shall receive; every one that asketh, receiveth. This is the fixed eternal law of the kingdom: if you ask and receive not, it must be because there is something amiss or wanting in the prayer. Hold on; let the Word and the Spirit teach you to pray aright, but do not let go the confidence He seeks to waken: Every one that asketh, receiveth.”

Once again, Andrew Murray brings us to the need of a God-focus in our prayers–to move from asking for the gift to seeking the Giver and entering to abide with Him. The purpose of prayer is not just to seek our needs or our wants but to enter into a closer, deeper relationship with God. If our prayers stop at the place of wanting or needing things and don’t move us to a greater desire for God, our prayers are too shallow. Murray also believed that God always gives an answer that is clear. His response is not silence. If the answer is no, God will reveal that and change our hearts to conform to His desires.

Murray also wrote, ” There may be cases in which the answer is a refusal, because the request is not according to God’s Word, as when Moses asked to enter Canaan. But still, there was an answer: God did not leave His servant in uncertainty as to His will. The gods of the heathen are dumb and cannot speak. Our Father lets His child know when He cannot give him what he asks, and he withdraws his petition, even as the Son did in Gethsemane. Both Moses the servant and Christ the Son knew that what they asked was not according to what the Lord had spoken: their prayer was the humble supplication whether it was not possible for the decision to be changed. God will teach those who are teachable and give Him time, by His Word and Spirit, whether their request be according to His will or not. Let us withdraw the request, if it be not according to God’s mind, or persevere till the answer come. Prayer is appointed to obtain the answer. It is in prayer and its answer that the interchange of love between the Father and His child takes place.”

Once again, as I learn to pray, I am driven to ask, “Am I teachable?  Is my heart sincere?”  If it is, it is only because God is shaping my heart.  God is all and everything that I need.  He is to be the focus of my seeking.  If so, than my prayers will conform to His will and the answers will come either with a God-glorifying “yes” or an equally God-glorifying change of my heart that draws me closer to Him.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.  Is this concept of praying new to you?  If not, what difference has it made in your life?

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