Quotes Worth Pondering – Jerry Bridges (The Pursuit of Holiness)

QuotesWorthPondering

“We need to cultivate in our own hearts the same hatred of sin God has. Hatred of sin as sin, not just as something disquieting or defeating to ourselves, but as displeasing to God, lies at the root of all true holiness.”
“God wants us to walk in obedience—not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self.”
(Jerry Bridges – The Pursuit of Holiness)

Pop Pop Epistle #124 – About Hoshana Rabbah

Dear Grandkids,

Happy Hoshana Rabbah!

OK, let me explain. This is another lesson in your Jewish heritage.

Today is the last day of the Jewish Festival known as The Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot or The Feast of Ingathering.) It was one of the three festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform an annual pilgrimage to the Temple and it commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters.

It was a seven day festival. And there were several rituals that had become a part of the celebration. One involved building make shift tents to live in for the week. One involved the waving of palm branches. But another one has special significance in relation to Jesus.

By the time of the first century, a water pouring ceremony had become part of the tradition of the festival. The priests would go down to the pool of Siloam and they would fill a golden vessel with the water there. They would then go up to the temple, through the Water Gate, accompanied by the sound of the shofar, and would pour the water so that it flowed over the altar, along with wine from another bowl.

John 7:37-38 records…

“On the last day of the feast, the great day (Hoshana Rabbah), Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Jesus used the symbolism of this ritual at The Feast to identify Himself as the Messiah – the One whom the Jewish people were watching, waiting, and praying for. Some people believed. Some did not. (John 7:40-44) For those who did – it was indeed a “great day”! The Hebrew words Hoshana Rabbah literally mean “the great salvation.” And that is exactly what Jesus is.

There are many many people that you will see this week who are spiritually thirsty – whose soul’s are parched and are yearning to be refreshed. Perhaps the Lord will use you to offer them a drink of “living water.” Perhaps the Lord will use you to make it “a truly great day” for someone today.

Happy Hoshana Rabbah!

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Brick #62 – Ephesians 5:15-20

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I want to zero in on verses 15-17 from this passage.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Living with intentionality!  This is the point Paul is making. He uses the word “walk” in verse 15 as a metaphor for “live”. This has been a favorite theme of his in Ephesians…

  • “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…” (2:1-2)
  • “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (4:1)
  • “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (4:17)
  • “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (5:1-2)
  • “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (5:8)

Paul’s encouragement to the believers is to live intentionally and to do so wisely – not foolishly. Practically, how do we do this – how do we become more wise in the way that we live? Scripture gives us some tips: 1) Hang around people that are already wise in the way that they live (Proverbs 13:20). 2) Ask God to fuel us and fill us with His wisdom (James 1:5). 3) Pay attention to what God’s Word says and obey it (Matthew 7:24-27). 4) Get to know Jesus better and better (Colossians 2:2-3).

The other side of the same coin would be to answer the question “how do we not live like fools?” Again, Scripture gives us some tips: 1) Learn to hold your tongue and watch what you say (Proverbs 18:7). 2) Learn from your mistakes and failures (Proverbs 26:11). 3) Never stop learning (Proverbs 1:22). 4) Listen to people when they give you advice (Proverbs 12:15). 5) Receive instruction with humility (Proverbs 1:7).

Why does Paul say we need to take this to heart – why do we need to be very intentional in the way that we live? Because the days are evil. Because life is short. Because people need Jesus. Because we don’t want to waste our lives. Because the Lord is honored when we use our lives for His purposes. 

May this brick encourage your hearts and motivate you to take one more step toward living each of your days with intentionality.

Quotes Worth Pondering – Nancy Pearcey (Finding Truth)

QuotesWorthPondering

“When a worldview exchanges the Creator for something in creation, it will also exchange a high view of humans made in God’s image for a lower view of humans made in the image of something in creation. Humans are not self-existent, self-sufficient, or self-defining. They did not create themselves. They are finite, dependent, contingent beings. As a result, they will always look outside themselves for their ultimate identity and meaning. They will define human nature by its relationship to the divine—however they define divinity. Those who do not get their identity from a transcendent Creator will get it from something in creation.”
(Nancy Pearcey – Finding Truth)

Pop Pop Epistle #123 – About Protocols

Dear Grandkids,

In just a few minutes I am going to hit a button on my computer and this blog post is somehow going to be available for you to read almost immediately. There are no wires connecting our devices. You might be in the room upstairs or you might be on the other side of the world. It won’t matter – you will still have instant access to what I write.

I have absolutely no idea how this is even possible. It certainly was NOT possible when I was growing up. But technology has made the impossible possible.

I have read that in order for this communication to happen that there are “protocols” that have to be place – some of these include hypertext transfer protocol (http), transmission control protocol (TCP) and the Internet protocol (IP). Protocols are sets of rules that machines follow to complete tasks. Without a common set of protocols that all machines connected to the Internet must follow, communication between devices couldn’t happen. The various machines would be unable to understand one another or even send information in a meaningful way.

But again, I am clueless how this is even possible.

What I am not clueless about is that there are protocols that must be in place if communication is going to happen between us and God. These protocols are spelled out in Scripture. Here are a few for you to ponder:

  • Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. (John 8:47)
  • For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:12)
  • My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)
  • If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18)
  • We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. (John 9:31)
  • If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

God has made the impossible possible. We are able to communicate instantaneously with the Holy God of the universe. But we have to pay attention to the protocols that He has put in place. God does not answer the prayers of everyone. But His Word does tell us how we can be confident that He will hear our prayers. One more protocol to leave you with: And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5: 14-15)

When you read this, take a minute and pray a prayer of thanks to God for enabling us to communicate with Him. And ask the Father to give you a desire to always follow the prayer protocols so that you can be confident that He is not only listening but also ready to answer your prayers.

And never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Brick #61 – 2 Timothy 4:6-8

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“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 

Once saved, always saved. This is what Scripture indicates. The reason we have a problem with this is because we see people who claim that they are saved but who in no way act like they are saved. The doctrine is known as “perseverance of the saints.” And the best way to define this doctrine is to say that those who persevere ARE the true saints of God. Those who do not persevere, who do not continue to walk in the ways of the Lord, who are not offended by their own sinfulness – are NOT saints (sinners saved by grace).
 
This is what Paul is saying here in this passage. Despite the difficulties, the beatings, the slander, Paul has stayed true to the faith and maintained a rigorous love for God and His Word and His mission. Now, as he approaches the end of his life he is looking forward to That Day.

  • That Day when He will see his Lord and Savior.
  • That Day when He will be done with earthly travails.
  • That Day when he will enjoy the fruit of all his laboring for the gospel.
  • That Day when hope becomes reality.
  • That Day when eternal life takes on a whole new dimension.
  • That Day when heaven becomes his home.
  • That Day when victory over sin is celebrated.
  • That Day when God’s glory is revered.
  • That Day when grace and peace can be enjoyed.
  • That Day when he will receive his reward for faithfulness. 
Paul was able to live a faithful life despite all the hardships he endured because he kept the end in mind. And now with the end in sight he approaches it not with reluctance or with regret but with eager anticipation and joy.
 
May the Lord use this brick to fuel your anticipation of THAT DAY – and in the meantime to make the necessary changes so that you can say with Paul when that day comes that you have “fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith.”
 
(If you want an extra special “blessing” you can click HERE to listen to a song I wrote called “That Day.”
 

Quotes Worth Pondering – Tim Keller (Counterfeit Gods)

QuotesWorthPondering

“When people say, ‘I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself,’ they mean that they have failed an idol, whose approval is more important to them than God’s. Idols function like gods in our lives, and so if we make career or parental approval our god and we fail it, then the idol curses us in our hearts for the rest of our lives. We can’t shake the sense of failure.”
I am an idol worshipper. And so are you. John Calvin famously said “the human heart is a perpetual idol factory”. For this reason among many we must daily go to the cross, confess our waywardness, and seek the Lord’s approval rather than man’s. Don’t allow the idols in your life to keep you from knowing God. Put them to death as soon as they are produced by the factory of your heart.

Brick #60 – Romans 8:35-39

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35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This passage wraps up perhaps the greatest chapter in the New Testament. And Romans 8 is the high point of a book that has been called the pièce de résistance of Paul’s writings. 

The theme of these verses is the love of Christ. And his point is that NOTHING can separate those who are “in Christ” from enjoying and experiencing the love of Christ. Here are a few things that he points out…

1) Verses 35-36 – He reminds his readers that hardship has always been the experience of God’s faithful followers and not to be surprised when difficult times arise. As believers we are not promised that life will be easy – rather we are promised that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Count on it. Hard times are not an indication that God has withdrawn His love. He promises to hold us close when the hard times come and to walk with us through “the valley of the shadow of death.”

2) Verse 37 – He calls us “more than conquerors.” The love of Christ will not only enable us to gain victory over and through the tough times that life brings but will also enable us to point people to Jesus through the tough times. In other words, the Lord will use even the bad stuff that happens in our lives to bring glory and victory to the cause of Christ.

3) Verses 38-39 – Paul’s confidence in the unfailing love of Christ is rooted much deeper than “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” It is a confidence that has been tested in and triumphed through harder things than most of us will ever deal with. As he writes in Ephesians 3:19, he has come to know the love of Christ in a way “that surpasses knowledge.” It is a confidence that is grounded in the gospel and what Jesus did for him at the cross. This is where we will find the same kind of confidence and come to experience the deep deep love of Christ in a similar way. This in essence is what the book of Romans is all about.

May this brick fill you with a confidence in the love of Christ that will enable you to be a “more than conqueror” whenever the hard times of life come your way – which they will.

Pop Pop Epistle #122 – 100 Days Left In 2020

Dear Grandkids,

Most people cannot wait until 2020 is over. It has been a year that most people would just as soon forget. So let the countdown begin.

September 22, 1862. There were 3 million people in our country who could not wait for that year to be over and were literally counting down each day.

On that date, Abraham Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation which set a date (January 1, 1863) for the 3,000,000+ slaves in America to be freed. The proclamation officially recast the Civil War as a fight against slavery – a fight that many people would suggest is still going on 158 years later.

Even though slavery was officially abolished in principle it did not mean that it was abolished in practice. In fact, it did not become law for another 3 years with the passing of the 13th Amendment – but the Emancipation Proclamation was a very important first step towards ending slavery.

In Luke 4 Jesus applied an Isaiah 61 Scripture text to Himself when He said:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

His proclamation became “law” when He rose from the dead, amending the old covenant and providing a way for everyone enslaved to sin to be emancipated. Romans 8:1-2 puts it this way: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

A few other choice verses to ponder:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Freedom is a wonderful thing. And yet many people, even believers who have been liberated from bondage to sin, do not experience genuine freedom in their lives. They still live in many ways as if they had never been emancipated. Don’t live “as if” lives. Cling to the cross daily and let the power of the cross and the power of the resurrection enable you to live in the freedom that the Lord created you to experience. A freedom that allows you to enjoy walking in the newness of life and savoring each day as a gift from God.

And never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Quotes Worth Pondering – A.W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy)

QuotesWorthPondering

“Until we have seen ourselves as God see us, we are not likely to be much disturbed over conditions around us as long as they do not get so far out of hand as to threaten our comfortable way of life. We have learned to live with unholiness and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing.”
Unholiness in our culture does not bother us the way that it should nor does unholiness in our lives bother us as it should. It would be like looking at Michelangelo’s David and watching someone splash paint on it and not caring that this pièce de résistance is being marred. “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”
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