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Archive for January, 2010

Two caterpillars

Two caterpillars were crawling on the grass when a butterfly flew over them. They looked up, and one nudged the other and said, “You couldn’t get me up there like that for a million dollars.”

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David Powlison on New Year’s Resolutions

Source: Read the whole article here http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/12/31/david-powlison-on-new-years-resolutions/

 

  • Some resolutions are petty, but most resolutions make a profound statement. They express a sensed need for moral reformation. Gluttony, laziness, drunkenness, overspending and debt, loveless isolation from others, joyless workaholism, peaceless anxiety, restless entertainment, sexual self-indulgence, bitterness and estrangement from kith and kin, slovenly disorganization . . . these provide grist for resolutions to change. … I was struck by how significant the issues were. “Lose weight, quit drinking, smell the roses, and treat my family better” are not trivial matters – when properly framed.
  • That’s the rub: proper framing. Whether petty or profound, New Year’s resolutions as such merely express good intentions. They describe self-referential problems – “I find abc displeasing about myself.” They make no reckoning with the power of our passions, fears, habits . . . inner sinfulness, sin directly against God Himself . . . and with the power of outer evils (including enculturation) that allure and constrain us. They propose self-dependent solutions – “I resolve to do xyz to change myself.” Change depends on fickle will-power and on common-sense strategies for self-management (e.g., “set achievable goals that are personally meaningful, and take small steps”). So they fail in large measure. Or, even when they succeed, they create absolutely no reasons to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” They make no reckoning with either the chief end of man, or the madness in our hearts while we live, or the inexpressible gift of God to sinful, dying people. Self-referential resolutions function within a self-salvation project, however noble and desirable the proximate ends in view.
  • Furthermore, whether petty or profound, New Year’s resolutions express purely individualistic intentions. A self-improvement plan finds no corporate context for commitment, no reasons for joint effort and mutual accountability, and no participation in a common cause bigger than any and all of us.

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source: Jonathan Edwards sermon preached in 1753 to Stockbridge Indians "The Pure in Heart Blesssed" Edwards, Vol. 2 p. 905.

 

Spiritual Sight

The saints in heaven will behold an outward glory … and there will doubtless be appearances of a divine and inimitable glory and beauty in Christ’s glorified body, which it will indeed be a refreshing and blessed sight to see. …

So the sight that they will have in heaven will exclude all doubting. The knowledge of God which the saints have in this world, has certainty in it, but yet the certainty is liable to be interrupted with temptations, and some degree of doubtings, but there is no such thing in heaven. …

[The] sight which the saints will have of God will make them as sensible of his presence, and give them as great advantages for conversing with him, as the sight of the bodily eyes doth an earthly friend. Yea, and more too. For when we see our earthly friends with bodily eyes, we have not the most full and direct sight of their principal part, even their souls. We see the qualities, and dispositions, and acts of their minds, no otherwise than by outward signs of speech and behavior. Strictly speaking, we do not see the man, the soul, at all, but only its tabernacle or dwelling.

But their souls will have the most clear sight of the spiritual nature of God itself. They shall behold his attributes and disposition towards them more immediately, and therefore with greater certainty, than it is possible to see anything in the soul of an earthly friend by his speech and behavior. And therefore their spiritual sight will give them greater advantage for conversing with God, than the sight of earthly friends with bodily eyes, or hearing them with our ears, gives us for conversing with them.

God as the supreme object of one’s happiness

The love of God is also the most suitable entertainment of the soul of man, which naturally desires the happiness of society, or of union with some other being. The love of so glorious a being is infinitely valuable, and the discoveries of it are capable of ravishing the soul above all other love.

It is suitable to the nature of an intelligent being also, as it is that kind of delight that reason approves of. There are many other delights in which men indulge themselves, which, although they are pleasing to the senses and inferior powers, yet are contrary to reason. Reason opposes the enjoyment of them, so that unless reason be suppressed and stifled, they cannot be enjoyed without a war in the soul. Reason, the noblest faculty, resists the inferior rebellious powers. And the more reason is in exercise, the more will it resist, and the greater will be the inward war and opposition. …

The happiness of seeing God is a blessing without any mixture. That pleasure has the best claim to be called man’s true happiness, which comes unmixed, and without alloy. But so doth the joy of seeing God. It neither brings any bitterness, nor will it suffer any.

This pleasure brings no bitterness with it. That is not the case with other delights, in which natural men are wont to place their happiness. They are bitter sweets, yielding a kind of momentary pleasure in gratifying an appetite, but wormwood and gall are mingled in the cup. He who plucks these roses, finds that they grow on thorns. He who tastes of this honey is sure to find in it a sting. If men place their happiness in them, reason and conscience will certainly give them inward disturbance in their enjoyment. There will be the sting of continual disappointments, for carnal delights are of such a nature that they keep the soul, that places its happiness in them, always big with expectation and in eager pursuit, while they are evermore like shadows, and never yield what is hoped for. They who give themselves up to them, unavoidably bring upon themselves many heavy inconveniences. If they promote their pleasure in one way, they destroy their comforts in many other ways. And this sting ever accompanies them, that they are but short-lived, they will soon vanish, and be no more.

And as to the pleasure found in the enjoyment of earthly friends, there is a bitterness goes also with that. An intense love to any earthly object, though it may afford high enjoyment, yet greatly multiplies our cares and anxieties through the defects and blemishes, the instability and changeableness, of the object, the calamities to which it is exposed, and the short duration of all such friendships, and of the pleasures thence arising.

… Even the sight of God’s vindictive justice will add to their joy. This justice of God will appear glorious to them, and will make them prize his love. …

But the fountain that supplies that joy and delight, which the soul has in seeing God, is sufficient to fill the vessel. Because it is infinite. He that sees the glory of God, in his measure beholds that of which there is no end. The understanding may extend itself as far as it will. It doth but take its flight into an endless expanse and dive into a bottomless ocean. It may discover more and more of the beauty and loveliness of God, but it never will exhaust the fountain. …

A desire to be pure in heart

… To those animals which are of a filthy and impure nature, as swine and dogs, ravens and vermin, those things that are filthy and nauseous to mankind, do not seem at all disgusting. But on the contrary they love them, it is food that suits their appetites. It is because they are of an impure and filthy nature. The nature of the animal is agreeable to such things. So it is with men of impure hearts. They see no filthiness in sin, they do not nauseate it, it is in no way uncomfortable to them to have it hanging about them, they can wallow in it without any reluctance. Yea, they take pleasure in it, it is their meat and their drink, because they are of an impure nature. But he who has become pure in heart hates sin. He has antipathy to it. He does not love to be near it. If he sees any of it hanging about him, he abhors himself for it. He seems filthy to himself. He is a burden to himself. He abhors the very sight of it, and shuns the appearance of it. If he sees sin in others, it is a very unpleasant sight to him. As sin, and as committed against God, it is grievous and uncomfortable to him wherever he discovers it. It is because his heart is changed, and God has given him a pure nature. …

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(1 Kings 2:2-3) Strong manhood defined as keeping, walking God’s statutes, commands, rules, testimonies as they are written in God’s Word.

(1 Kings 2:27) Solomon expelled Abiathar fulfilling God’s God re: Eli’s house as spoken by Samuel so long ago.

(1 Kings 3:3,14) Solomon’s first compromise – high places – and a condition of obedience for a long life – he dies young at 60 years of age.

(1 Kings 4:20, 25) Judah and Israel as many as the sand by the sea – ate and drank and were happy. …every man under his own vine & figtree

(1 Kings 6) The temple is decorated with engravings of flowers and fruit trees throughout i.e. reflecting God’s presence in Garden of Eden.

(1 Kings 7:21) Temple pillars are not structural. Boaz = He strengthens & Jachin = He establishes.

(1 Kings 8:11) The cloud of the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. A very high point !!!

(1 Kings 8:24) God speaks with his mouth and with his hand he fulfills. (8:27) The temple is only a shadow, a condescension of God.

(1 Kings 8) Uses the covenant curses in Leviticus and Deuteronomy as the subjects of his prayer. This chapter is very very important.

(1 Kings 9:12) Giving away Promised Land (10:14) amassing gold (11:1) too many foreign wives (11:28) forced labor of northern tribes-no good

(1 Kings 10:19) Calf head for back of throne and lions as armrests – strength and royalty.

(1 Kings 12:15) … it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by his prophet.

(1 Kings 12:28,30) It is too much effort to go to Jerusalem … "the people went as far as Dan to the golden calf" – like Exod. golden calf.

(1 Kings 13:24) Disobedience to God’s word results in being killed by a lion.

(1 Kings 14:4,6) Ahijah’s eyes might be dim but he sees good – unlike Jeroboam.

(1 Kings 14:10) Jeroboam’s house burned up like dung.

(1 Kings 14:13) Dying young can be a sign of grace and God’s favour.

(1 Kings 14:21,31) Rehoboam did evil, twice told his mother was an Ammonite – what else could one expect.

(1 Kings 15:20) Some of the Promised Land is conquered including Dan, site of one of the golden calves. Sign of things to come.

(1Kings 16:31,34) Ahab married Jezebel and in his days Jericho was rebuilt – cannot be a good thing.

(1 Kings 18:21,26) Israel limps between two opinions and false prophets limp around the altar.

(1 Kings 18:27) Maybe Baal is on the toilet – Elijah uses humor to mock.

(1 Kings 18:38,45) Prayer without ritual, fire falls like tabernacle/temple, rain falls -sacrifice for sin accepted, covenant curse removed.

(1 Kings 19:7,9) God purposes for Elijah to go to the place where the now-broken covenant was first made – even to the cave.

(1 Kings 19:13) God’s presence is not in the theophanic signs but in his spoken word. Elijah is invited to prosecute Israel.

(1 Kings 19:17-18) God’s response – judgment and a remnant.

(1 Kings 20:33) Some people you should not call ‘brother’. Disobedience to God’s word = eaten by a lion like chapter 13.

(1 Kings 21:24) Ahab’s house = dogs and birds. Sold as slave to evil. Repentance has an effect even for this wicked man.

(1 Kings 22:23,34) God sends a lying spirit to enter the mouths of Ahab’s prophets. The arrow was not entirely random!

(2 Kings 1) Before Elijah had called fire from heaven in grace on the altar, now he calls fire from heaven in judgment.

(2 Kings 2:8) Elijah parts the waters and crosses on dry ground – a prophet like Moses.

(2 Kings 2:18,22) Elisha, name means ‘God saves’, reverses the curse on the waters of Jericho for the remnant.

(2 Kings 3:14-15) Elisha stands before the LORD and his hand comes upon him. God provides both water and wrath on Israel.

(2 Kings 4:42) First fruits brought to Elisha rather than Israel’s temple. Widow’s oil, deathly stew & loaves = life for sons of prophets.

(2 Kings 5:1) By Naaman the LORD had given victory to Syria over Israel. Who would have thought!?!

(2 Kings 5:12) Healing could not come from any river in Syria (or god of that land). Only from the Jordan (and the God of Israel).

(2 Kings 5:1,27) The Gentile has become clean and the Israelite has become unclean.

(2 Kings 6:17-18) A mountain full of horses & chariots of fire all around Elisha. Elisha asks for one man’s eyes to be opened-others closed.

(2 Kings 8:1) Now a famine of 7 years !! (8:10) A deceiving message from a true prophet. (8:11) Necessary judgment but still Elisha weeps.

(2 Kings 9) Jezebel paints her eyes and does her hair but the dogs eat her leaving skull and hands.

(2 Kings 10:28-33) Baal worship gone – his temple is a toilet – golden calf worship continues – Israel begins to lose her land inheritance.

(2 Kings 11:1) The House of David is almost wiped out. Jehoshaphat shouldn’t have made a marriage alliance with Ahab all those years ago.

(2 Kings 13:4-5,23) God hears the prayer of an evil king because he has compassion on his people and raises up a deliverer.

(2 Kings 13:14,21) Elisha dies from sickness but a man is raised from the dead by touching his bones.

(2 Kings 14:13-14) Jerusalem’s wall broken down, temple treasures carried off and taking away of people – foretaste of Babylonian conquest.

(2 Kings 15:29) The northern most tribes of the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel go into exile in Assyria. But there is still a northern kingdom.

(2 Kings 16:7) If only Ahaz had said these words to God rather than to the king of Assyria.

(2 Kings 17:18,20,23) God rejected Israel and removed them from his sight.They had rejected words of the prophets. A sad summary chapter.

(2 Kings 17:25) Lions are killing again. How could a Israelite priest teach? Samaritans do exactly same things as Israel-described same way.

(2 Kings 18:5) Hezekiah – unique among the kings of Judah for his trust in God. He held fast (cleaved i.e. a covenant word) to the LORD.

(2 Kings 18:31-32) God given vines, fig trees, cisterns to be replaced with a new Assyrian Promised Land !!

(2 Kings 19) Hezekiah prays 3 times. Spreads letter before God. Will be a remnant. 185 000 dead enemies. A high point in disappointing Kings

(2 Kings 19:36-37) Sennacherib said God couldn’t save praying Hezekiah but now Sennacherib is killed praying to his gods who didn’t save him

(2 Kings 20:17-19) Despite this high point with Hezekiah the coming judgment of exile will not be averted. Hezekiah trusts God even in this.

(2 Kings 21) Manasseh is really bad. Judah to be judged like a bowl being washed up and all ears will tingle.

(2 Kings 22:8,11,14) "I have found the book" .. tearing clothes seeking the word of a prophetess. Amazing that it had been lost!!

(2 Kings 23) A long list of spring cleaning – removing idolatry. Josiah even cleanses the old northern kingdom of Israel – fulfills prophecy

(2 Kings 23:33) The whole kingdom only has a single talent of gold. Solomon used to get 666 talents a year.

(2 Kings 24:2-3, 20) God sent bands against Judah to destroy the kingdom and remove it from his sight. "Cast out from his presence."

(2 Kings 25:13f) Details of temple furniture being taken away – same descriptions as from Solomon’s reign. Like bookends for 1-2Kings.

(2 Kings 25:21) So Judah was taken into exile out of its land … sad end to the story that began in Joshua.

(2 Kings 25:27-30) Kings ends miserably. The Exodus is undone! But is Jehoiachin’s release a sign of hope for the house of David and Israel?

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“Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin!” (Hebrews 3:13)

First sin startles him,
then it becomes pleasing,
then easy,
then delightful,
then frequent,
then habitual,
then confirmed!

Then the man is impenitent,
then obstinate,
then resolves never to repent,
and then he is damned!

Source: Jeremy Taylor, The Deceitfulness of Sin

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.

Where lies the only hope for such a person?

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.

Source: Psalm 36

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(1 Samuel 4:18) Eli’s neck is broken because he is heavy having eaten sacrificial fat from the offerings he shouldn’t have.

(1 Samuel 5:3) Dagon had fallen face down on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.

(1 Samuel 7:12) Then Samuel took a stone and set it up … and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, "Till now the LORD has helped us."

(1 Samuel 5:6,6:19) God afflicts the Philistines then strikes Israel. (1 Samuel 7:10, 12:18) God thunders against both Philistines & Israel.

(1 Samuel 9) Saul is introduced with LOST donkeys (unclean), David with KEPT sheep (clean).

(1 Samuel 10:9-10) The Spirit rushed upon Saul (like Samson), he prophesied and his heart was changed.

(1 Samuel 11:6) Again the Spirit rushes upon Saul making him angry and bold against the Ammonites.

(1 Samuel 12:17,19,21) Rain during harvest convinces Israel of sin and consequent death. Don’t trust empty things that can’t deliver.

(1 Samuel 14:45) Jonathan has worked great salvation in Israel … he has worked with God this day. So the people ransomed Jonathan …

(1 Samuel 15:11,29,35) Does God regret (repent)? (15:19) Saul did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

(1 Samuel 16:7) Eliab was another Saul!

(1 Samuel 16:13) And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David FROM THAT DAY FORWARD unlike Samson & Saul!

(1 Samuel 18:1) The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

(1 Samuel 18:10) A Harmful Spirit from God rushes on Saul this time.

(1 Samuel 22:19, 15:19) A sad end to the house of Eli. What Saul would not do to Amalek he does to Nob’s priests.

(1 Samuel 23:12,19-20;25:2) Keilah, Ziph, Maon/Carmel are towns in JUDAH that desire to surrender David to the power of Saul – discouraging.

(1 Samuel 23:16) Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God – last time they will see one another face to face as Jnthn’s days will soon end.

(1 Samuel 25:29) Wise Abigail – David will be kept by God in shepherd’s pouch while David’s enemies slung out from the hollow of a sling.

(1 Samuel 27:1) A crisis of faith for David. He decides to leave the land rather than trust God’s protection.

(1 Samuel 28) God does not speak to Saul via dreams, priests (killed) or prophets (rejected) …goes behind enemy lines to hear from Samuel.

(1 Samuel 30:7) Unlike Saul David has access to God’s Word before battle. Saul spared Amalekites, David defeats them.

(1 Samuel 30:26,31:8) David wins battle and sends plunder – Saul will lose battle and be plundered. David’s reign as king is about to start.

(1 Samuel 31:11) A sad reminder of Saul’s victory in God’s power at beginning of his reign in Jabesh Gilead when God was with him.

(2 Samuel 1:8) Ironic that Saul’s death is told by an Amalekite. The man doesn’t know about David’s recent Amalek experience.

(2 Samuel 1:26) Jonathan’s love was sweet, delightful and extraordinary and better than …

(2 Samuel 5:13) David took more wives and concubines. Why?

(2 Samuel 6) Uzzah of Judah is struck in relation to the ark. Obed is blessed in relation to the ark.

(2 Samuel 6:21) Further judgement on Saul’s house.Michal was David’s first wife, had loved him & saved his life. Over years embittered(3:15)

(2 Samuel 7:2-3,21,11) David’s heart desires to build God a house. God’s heart desires to build David a house-an heir of an eternal kingdom.

(2 Samuel 8:15) David is a true king because he exercises justice and righteousness to all his people.

(2 Samuel 9:8) David shows kindness(literal.covenant love) toJonathan’s son who calls himself a dead dog as David had called himself to Saul

(2 Samuel 11:2) David saw a very beautiful woman washing and this is his undoing. Lust will kill if it can. Uriah won’t do what D. is doing.

(2 Samuel 12:24-25) David comforted, went in, lay. Bathsheba bore, called. The LORD loved. Grace even in sin.

(2 Samuel 14:14) God does not take away life … he devises means so the banished will not remain outcasts.

(2 Samuel 15:12) Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather joined Absalom’s conspiracy against David.

(2 Samuel 15:18) Philistine groups that had left Philistia remain loyal to David while Judah does not.

(2 Samuel 15:30) David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. Reminds of Jesus.

(2 Samuel 17:14) For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom.

(2 Samuel 17:27f) The prince of Ammon etc. bring an interesting list of supplies.

(2 Samuel 18:9) Absalom lives but hangs from a tree between heaven and earth – whoever is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.

(2 Samuel 20:10) The words of Sheba will be repeated 50 years later to Rehoboam – some words linger for a long time.

(2 Samuel 21) Drought is a covenant curse resulting from God’s name having been taken in vain. Rizpah – the emotions, the actions, her life

(2 Samuel 22:1) The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock, my shield, my horn, my stronghold, my refuge, my savior

(2 Samuel 22:34) He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.

(2 Samuel 23:34,39) Both Bathsheba’s father and husband were among David’s mighty thirty men.

(2 Samuel 24:13) Deuteronomistic covenant curses – famine, fleeing from enemies, plague. Wise choice = judgement from God’s hands of mercy.

(2 Samuel 24:25) David built there an altar…so the LORD responded to the plea and the plague was averted from Israel – future temple site.

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“… in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

God “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Ephesians 1:11

“… he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Hebrews 1:3

The five quotes below can be read in their full context on the author’s blog http://www.challies.com/archives/christian-living/wowed-by-the-miraculous.php.

“A biblical understanding of God’s providence requires us to understand that God upholds the world from moment-to-moment. God’s creative activity did not end his involvement with the world; rather, God has been sustaining the world since the very moment he called it into existence.”

“God tends to govern the world in a way that is predictable. We often refer to the predictability of nature by discussing ‘laws of nature’.”

“We may feel that it is the laws of nature that keep the world running while God watches over it all, allowing the world to work like a machine. And we may feel that a miracle is an activity of God’s intervention in our lives, after which he retreats once more into being a bystander or member of a cosmic, divine audience. “

… we may come to believe … that God’s involvement in the world and in our lives is sporadic rather than consistent; exceptional rather than normative.”

“The alternative, I believe, is to understand “the laws of nature” as regularities rather than laws. … In this sense God did not violate laws of nature when he used Moses to hold back the waters of the Red Sea. Instead, God governed that part of His Creation just a little bit differently for just a little while. As an exception to the routine, God allowed waters to part and allowed water to defy gravity by rising into a wall on either side of a channel.”

In other words, what ‘laws of nature’ and miracles have in common is that they are both expressions of God’s providential activity – the one describing his regular predictable acts and the other his unusual acts.

Laws of nature and miracles are to be seen together as acts of God rather than one being in opposition to the  other. In this sense even laws of nature are miraculous and acts of power.

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