Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lessons from 2007

Prayer is the primary means by which God conforms our hearts to His own; it is our primary work here in this world; it is how God has chosen to work in this world- by hearing and responding to the prayers of His people; to pray without ceasing effectively (i.e. as a "righteous man," whose prayers are always effective) one must continually be "made right" before the Lord, i.e. practice repentance.

The only way that a person becomes more like Christ (that is, his/her character more closely models that of Christ's) is through an active searching of the heart for sin (and being willing to pray until sin is revealed in the heart as sin, that is, something grievous and akin to treason before God, something deserving immediate and infinite punishment because it is an offense against someone infinitely worthy) and repentance thereof. If we are not repenting, we are certainly not growing.

Every moment of every day we are called to be ministers of His word. That is, when we don't want to let out lights shine brightly before all men, we need to repent and pray for God to change our sinful hearts because we are but vapors and these days are evil.

We serve a God who will one day make all things right. Even so, the heart of God cries out for us to plead and act on behalf of justice in this world.

Discipline is one of the man of God's best friends.

The Lord loves a humble, contrite spirit and hates American self-sufficiency. Oh how vital it is to remember how utterly dependent upon Him we are at all times for all things.

The only way that two sinners can exist in a relationship that is mutually encouraging and glorifies God is to found it solely upon grace and to practice honesty.

God is good; that is enough.

The Lord is trustworthy in all that He does.

A community of love and grace that is unafraid to practice discipline may be the greatest gift any believer could hope to receive.

I am but a small vessel- the Lord may use me as He wills, with or without my consent. How amazing it would be to never be remembered, but to have only left Christ's imprint upon the world, for the glory of His name.

I have re-learned how to use my gifts of "reading" people for good (that is, for spiritual encouragement) instead of using it for selfish gain. I have learned how to use it to motivate, how to use it to raise questions, and how to help people discover answers on their own.

I have learned that the Puritans were studs, and I pray that God, one day soon, gives me the desire to study the Word like Edwards.

God is at work in all people at all times everywhere to varying degrees, and my primary job in evangelism is to simply pray for discernment as to where the Spirit is already at work and to pray that the Spirit continues to work unto salvation, as only it can.

We can love each other because we were first loved. We can be Christ and the church only because He was Hosea while we were yet Gomer. We love because we were loved while were still unlovable.

If I do not love my brother or sister in Christ, I do not love Christ.

I may be called to preach- a call that I have passionately resisted for three years now.

I am just like Lazarus.

I am a sick man; I am a wretched man.

God does not need me for anything. He can accomplish (and WILL accomplish) His purposes with or without us. He never fails. It is my most awesome privilege to be used in the service of the King and to partake in His glory.

reflection on Isaiah 63

You said to us, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.” And You became our Savior. But we grieved Your Holy Spirit; we turned in sin against You towards other gods- believing that our joy was somehow to be found elsewhere, outside of Your presence, where there is the fullness of joy. You hardened our hearts, O Lord, so that we feared You not and could not follow in Your ways. Our eyes were blind so that we could not see the light of the glory of the gospel of Your truth. Our hearts were made dull, and we chased fleeting pleasures, filled our broken cisterns, and drank from wells certain to run dry.

We stood condemned before the Maker and Master of all the universe, who alone is to be praised and feared forever. He who made, governs, and has purposed all of creation for the glory of His name was not pleased with the creature that bore His image. His anger and wrath burned against them, against us. For the honor of His name and for the sake of His holiness, His wrath must be satisfied lest His justice be made cheap. And yet, seemingly, the apocalypse of His judgment was withheld, a common grace was bestowed upon all mankind, even those who sought Him not.

Man frivoled in their sin, content to ignore and spit in the face of the Lord, to commit treason against God Most High in the name of themselves, building a tower to commemorate their greatness and building doctrine to belittle the greatness of God.

Yet the signs were there. Signs and wonders and words of prophecy were spoken declaring that one day, all things would be set right. One day in Jerusalem the great and perfect plan of God Himself was revealed. Impossibly grievous and unforgivable sin met the glorious and indescribably righteous plan of God. What we had planned for evil, God intended for good, penultimate good. Good enough to redeem any man from His sins, to loose any woman from her chains.

And the unbelievable greatness and vastness of God was revealed (though we continue to see but through a glass darkly). From before the creation of the world, God had planned this moment- the crucifixion of His perfect Son, the God-man- to offer forgiveness to mankind and to reveal His attributes and glory all the more clearly to His most beloved creation. And in this substitutionary atonement, the atoning sacrifice of one man whose worthiness cannot be contained in words, showed that God had planned from the beginning- His unflinching, unfailing love for man and unchanging glory and righteousness in all His actions.

For now, He waits, not wanting that any should perish, but that all should come to redemptive faith in His son, until the day in which the moon shall turn to blood and His robe shall be tainted the same as He treads the winepress in wrath alone, setting all things right. He will trample down those who, even in the face of offered forgiveness, do not run to the cross in repentance. And the honor of His holiness shall be known in all the earth.

And there will be a new heavens and new earth, and the chosen, adopted sons and daughters of the King will sit with Him on His throne, having been made perfectly clean, having been given new names and glorified bodies, and each day shall be better than the last.