Posted tagged ‘Faith’

Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done = Repent and Believe

December 13, 2011

At the very heart of the Lord’s Prayer is the petition, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Like so many other familiar passages of Scripture, I fear that there are myriads of truths that fail to be apprehended due to our contemptible satisfaction of superficial understanding.  Such has been the case for me regarding these petitions of our Lord.

One of the remarkable things I’ve been learning lately is how the gospel interconnects kingdom come and the Father’s will being done on earth.  The gospel intertwines this petition precisely because the response these realties demand are that of repentance and faith.

Whenever Jesus preaches about the kingdom, the action invariable associated with it is to repent.  The arrival of His kingdom means the removal of your kingdom.  The arrival of His reign means the surrender of your rights.  His position on the throne of your life necessitates the crushing of all idols and rivals to Him as Lord and King.  With the inauguration of the kingdom in the life of a believer, there is a corresponding denunciation of the kingdom we had built with ourselves at the center.   Simply put, when the King is present, our rights are absent.  We repent. We look away from ourselves.  We turn from our rebellious, treasonous ways. We renounce all our self-righteous deeds.  We gladly submit and surrender our lives to His sweet sovereignty as the one who alone has the right to govern our lives.

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Praying With My Eyes Wide Open

April 16, 2011

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2

I know that we are taught from childhood to pray with our eyes closed.  It is intended to be a sign of reverence, focus, and submission to God.  I understand that.  And while that should certainly be our posture, it should not be our practice.  Rather, we should pray continually with our eyes wide open.  What do I mean by that?

Paul exhorts the Colossian believers to “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it.”  Paul is telling us that we should be on the lookout when we are engaged in prayer.  Our eyes should be wide open to certain things.  But what are they?  Allow me to offer a few suggestions.

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We cannot ask too much!

January 15, 2011

Octavius Winslow nailed me hard October 12 in his Morning Thoughts.  He does this often, but given that this was the day I was coming back from Haiti, it came with particular force.  God has opened many doors and done many amazing things over the past six months.  It is as if he is giving far more than we are asking, and this to our shame.

Insert Winslow, commenting on Psalm 36:9 . . .

What stinted views, unjust conceptions, and wrong interpretations have we cherished of Him, simply because we overlook His character as the Fountain of living waters! We “limit the Holy One of Israel.” We judge of Him by our poor, narrow conception of things. We think that He is such a one as we ourselves are. We forget, in our approaches, that we are coming to an Infinite Fountain. That the heavier the demand we make upon God, the more we shall receive, and that the oftener we come, the more are we welcome. That we cannot ask too much. That our sin and His dishonor are, that we ask so little. We forget that He is glorified in giving; and that the more grace He metes out to His people, the richer the revenue of praise which He receives in return. How worthy of such an infinite Fountain of love and grace is His “unspeakable gift.” It came from a large heart; and the heart that gave Jesus will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly.

Father, forgive me for dishonoring you because of my unbelief. Enlarge my heart to believe your promises and fetch from your omnipotent hand the good that you are so readily desirous to impart.  Had I longed for your glory as I should, I would have asked for what only you can do.  But I have beckoned so seldom and have asked so little, and this to my shame.  Turn me into the kind of beggar who is familiar with riches flowing from your abundance, and never let me believe that you withhold any good thing because you have given me your Son.

Amen.

 

Francis Chan is not hugging the balance beam

April 19, 2010

I don’t know Francis Chan as well as I do other leaders among the younger evangelical movement, but what I do know, I really appreciate.  Belos is a video where he explains how God is leading him to the unknown from pastoring for 16 years at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA.  Lets pray for Chan and what God has in store for him, that he would attempt great things and expect great things from God.  And those who have sensed God’s call like Chan, may you go in faith in a similar fashion.

When I watched this, my mind when back to this YouTube clip.  Glad to know he is living where he is preaching . . .

His Joy in Us for the Race Before Us

January 12, 2010

For the past couple of weeks, I have been meditating on a familiar passage of Scripture as I have been preaching on gospel-driven endurance from Hebrews 12:1-3.  Sometimes the more familiar passage, the more we miss because of our assumption that we know all that the Spirit is teaching us on that particular verse.  At least that’s been a lesson I’ve learned in my study.

In Hebrews 12:1-3, there are two things that have been “set.”  There is a race “set before us” and there is the joy “set before Him (Jesus)”.  The way in which we are to run is by looking to Jesus–that is looking by faith in Him in all that He is for us as seen in the gospel.  After having explained the grand scope of salvation accomplished by all three persons in the Godhead, Paul prays that the Ephesian believers would have “the eyes of their hearts opened that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:18).

We do not see Jesus with the human eyes, but God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).  Therefore we see Jesus by faith through hearts that have been enlightened (cf. Eph. 1:18).  Believing is beholding, and through believing in Jesus, we “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).  This is no ordinary kind of joy.  It is glory-laced joy–the kind of joy that was set before Jesus that motivated Him to finish His race to die for sinners, endure the Father’s wrath, and drink the bitter cup that was reserved for us.

The joy of Jesus was the pleasures of His Father and bringing Him glory, revealing His character and accomplishing His mission of bringing redemption and salvation to everyone who puts their trust in Him.  We are the fruit of His mission, and it was the joy of Jesus that caused this seed to go into the ground and die (John 12:24).  One of the stunning reflections came when I saw the connection between our fruitfulness and His joy.  In the same way that by looking to Jesus we are able to run with endurance, it is by abiding in Jesus that we are able to bear much fruit, for “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Jesus explains this to us because (1) the Father is glorified in our fruit-bearing through faithful abiding, and (2) He intends that His joy may be in us, and our joy may be made full (John 15:11).  This is remarkable.  The joy that Jesus had in Him–the joy which was continually set before Him–is the joy that He would set in our hearts!  And this is not a joy that would be initially deposited in small measure, but Jesus gives it to us in full measure!

So when you run the race God has set before you, He not only wants you to obtain the prize (1 Cor. 9:24), but He also wants you to feel His pleasure as you look to Jesus.  As you believe in Him, the pace of our running should be propelled by the glory-laced joy in hearts, though inexpressible, is manifest in the way we pursue the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).  It is my prayer that as the eyes of faith behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, that glory will be shown as we endure with joy and bear abundant fruit in the satisfaction of Him who has given it in fullest measure.

Lord, increase my faith.

January 8, 2010

This Sunday, I’m preaching on “the sin” of unbelief which ensnares believers in the Christian race.  I have been meditating on this prayer from The Valley of Vision called “Faith and the World” as it has been very fruitful in my thinking.  Would that God increase our faith and cause us to run with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

O LORD,

The world is artful to entrap,
approaches in fascinating guise,
extends many a gilded bait,
presents many a charming face.

Let my faith scan every painted bauble,
and escape every bewitching snare
in a victory that overcomes all things.

In my duties give me firmness, energy, zeal,
devotion to thy cause,
courage in thy name,
love as a working grace,
and all commensurate with my trust.

Let faith stride forth in giant power,
and love respond with energy in every act.

I often mourn the absence of my beloved Lord
whose smile makes earth a paradise,
whose voice is sweetest music,
whose presence gives all graces strength.

But by unbelief I often keep him outside my door.
Let faith give entrance that he may abide with me forever.

Thy Word is full of promises,
flowers of sweetest fragrance,
fruit of refreshing flavour when culled by faith.

May I be made rich in its riches,
be strong in its power,
be happy in its joy,
abide in its sweetness,
feast on its preciousness,
draw vigour from its manna.

Lord, increase my faith.

Post-Christian Culture and False Conversion

April 3, 2009

There are things that can be mistaken that have little to no consequence, but conversion is not one of them.  You can be mistaken by the color of your socks while getting ready in the morning.  You can be mistaken by how well your digestive system can process “authentic” Chinese and Mexican food.  You be mistaken by the person you saw across the department store that looks exactly like an old friend but turns out to be a total stranger.  We make mistakes all the time, don’t we?

Yet, the greatest mistake carrying the greatest consequence comes down to our (1) understanding of the gospel and (2) knowing how sinners are to respond to the gospel call.  The most haunting words in all of the Bible come from the mouth of Jesus near the conclusion of the greatest sermon ever preached.  He said this:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

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Bunyan on Faith vs. Unbelief

May 25, 2008

John Bunyan, in his book Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, gives 25 particulars wherein he contrasts the qualities of faith and unbelief.  Consider the following:

1. Faith believes the Word of God; but unbelief questions the certainty of the same (Psa 106:24).

2. Faith believes the Word, because it is true; but unbelief doubts thereof, because it is true (1 Tim 4:3; John 8:45).

3. Faith sees more in a promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder; but unbelief, notwithstanding God’s promise, says, “How can these things be?” (Rom 4:19-21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11-12).

4. Faith will make you see love in the heart of Christ, when with his mouth he giveth reproofs; but unbelief will imagine wrath in his heart, when with his mouth and Word he says he loves us (Matt 15:22-28; Num 13; 2 Chron 14:3).

5. Faith will help the soul to wait, though God defers to give; but unbelief will take huff and throw up all, if God makes any tarrying (Psa 25:5; Isa 8:17; 2 Kings 6:33; Psa 106:13-14).

6. Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; but unbelief causeth fears in the midst of comfort (2 Chron 20:20-21; Matt 8:26; Luke 24:26-27).

7. Faith will suck sweetness out of God’s rod; but unbelief can find no comfort in his greatest mercies (Psa 23:4; Num 21).

8. Faith makes great burdens light; but unbelief makes light ones intolerably heavy (2 Cor 4:1; 14-18; Mal 1:12-13).

9. Faith helps us when we are down; but unbelief throws us down when we are up (Micah 7:8-10; Heb 4:11).

10. Faith brings us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him (Heb 10:22; 3:12-13).

11. Where faith reigns, it declares men to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declares them to be his enemies (John 3:23; Heb 3:18; Rev 21:8).

12. Faith puts a man under grace; but unbelief holds him under wrath (Rom 3:24-26; 14:6; Eph 2:8; John 3:36; 1 John 5:10; Heb 3:17; Mark 16:16).

13. Faith purifies the heart; but unbelief keeps it polluted and impure (Acts 15:9; Titus 1:15-16).

14. By faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; but by unbelief, we are shut up under the law to perish (Rom 4:23-24; 11:32; Gal 3:23).

15. Faith makes our work acceptable to God through Christ; but whatsoever is of unbelief is sin. For without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:4; Rom 14:23; Heb 6:6).

16. Faith gives us peace and comfort in our souls; but unbelief works trouble and tossings, like the restless waves of the sea (Rom 5:1; James 1:6).

17. Faith makes us to see preciousness in Christ; but unbelief sees no form, beauty, or comeliness in him (1 Peter 2:7; Isa 53:2-3).

18. By faith we have our life in Christ’s fullness; but by unbelief we starve and pine away (Gal 2:20).

19. Faith gives us the victory over the law, sin, death, the devil, and all evils; but unbelief lays us obnoxious to them all (1 John 5:4-5; Luke 12:46).

20. Faith will show us more excellency in things not seen, than in them that are; but unbelief sees more in things that are seen, than in things that will be hereafter (2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:24-27; 1 Cor 15:32).

21. Faith makes the ways of God pleasant and admirable; but unbelief makes them heavy and hard (Gal 5:6; 1 Cor 12:10, 11; John 6:60; Psa 2:3).

22. By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get thither (Heb 11:9; 3:19).

23. By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5).

24. By faith Gideon did more with three hundred men, and a few empty pitchers, than all the twelve tribes could do, because they believed not God (Judg 7:16-22; Num 14:11, 14).

25. By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:28-30).

John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2004), 202-05.