Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are some good Kindle deals today, including a new biography about the Spurgeons.
(Yesterday on the blog: God’s Pop-Up Book)
I expect you’ve been hearing about Netflix’s hit series Squid Game. This review from WORLD tells what it’s all about.
“While our culture continues to slip into chaotic depravity, more and more people are voicing their fears and frustrations. What will become of this country? What will become of the world? What challenges will our children face? The darkness seems to be overtaking the light.” But all is not lost.
John Stonestreet is clear that we should not mess with God’s pronouns. “God isn’t a force or an energy with no opinion of what we think about Him. God is a person, with specific characteristics. God is not a nebulous blob to be molded according to our wishes. God is infinite, but He is not indefinite.”
This is a needed reminder that good things often take plenty of time. “Yes, it often took hundreds of years for the momentum to grow strong and wide enough for large-scale change. But should that mean we don’t make the attempt? Not at all.”
“Someone once said that if the thing we worry about doesn’t happen, we’ve wasted all that angst and energy and head space. And if it does happen, we’ve doubled the toll it would have taken by worrying about it beforehand. That helps me put aside worried questions and supposing. But something else helps me even more.”
Here’s help for the preacher who feels like he’s in a rut. “Unfortunately, not all ruts are equal. Ruts on the farm can keep you from driving into a hole. But what about when you feel like you are in a rut when preaching?”
This is an inspiring account of the 1859 revival in the town of Coleraine, on the north coast of Ireland.
A shepherd doesn’t only lead his sheep to pasture and water, but also watches them to guard them from all harm.
Consider how precious a soul must be, when both God and the devil are after it. —Charles Spurgeon
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By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
We are all prone to idolatry. We may consider ourselves far too advanced to bow before an idol of wood or stone, to bend the knee to the image of an animal or man. But none of us is immune from bowing before the idols of our dreams and desires, before the idols of our wandering hearts. None of us can forever resist the allure of our illicit longings, of finding hope in mere riches, of finding meaning in mere accolades. In one way or another we are all prone to idolatry. And idolatry is futility.
In the prophecies of Isaiah we hear the voice of God as he rebukes the nation of Israel for its commitment to idols. He challenges the people to consider the cost of turning away from the God who called them, the God who saved them, the God who loves them. “When you cry out,” he says, “let your collection of idols deliver you!”
He knows the day will come when his people will face a great calamity. He knows the day will come when his people will understand that they cannot save themselves. And in that time, he tells them, they ought to be consistent and cry out to their idols for help, for deliverance, for satisfaction. Cry out to those pieces of wood, cry out to those blocks of stone, and let them come to your rescue!
And what will happen? “The wind will carry them all off, a breath will take them away.” In that day when they, in desperation, cry out for deliverance, they will see the futility of their idolatry, for their gods will be unable to stand before the smallest breeze, the merest breath, the tiniest puff of wind.
We may roll our eyes at the Israelites for being so easily swayed by Baal and Asherah and Molech. We may regard them with mockery for thinking these imaginary gods could ever have interceded on their behalf, could ever have come to their rescue, could ever have been worthy of their worship. But with a moment’s honesty we need to admit that we are just as easily swayed. With a moment’s introspection we need to consider the cost of our own idolatry.
“When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!” he said to Israel. And perhaps to us he says:
When you encounter times of deep grief and sore loss and long to be comforted, let the women of your pornography rush to your side. Let them minister to your sorrows.
When you are old and infirm and need someone to care for you or simply care about you, let your career come to your side and nurse you. Let it bring you comfort as you prepare to face eternity.
When you have sinned and transgressed and long for someone to love you and walk with you through repentance and restoration, let the characters in the books or movies or games that so consumed your time be with you. Let them be the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
When you have been treated unjustly, forsaken by those who ought to love you and care for you, let your money hasten to your side. Since you have prioritized wealth ahead of relationships, let your bank account and cars and holiday homes rush your cause and come to your rescue.
But God does not leave his people without hope. There is hope even for the idolater if only he is willing to repent, if only he is willing to turn to the God who saves. “But he who takes refuge in me,” says God, “shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain.” It is never too late to turn to God, never too late to cry out to him for help and deliverance, never too late to flee to the one who is—and will always be—our refuge.
By Tim Challies — 6 months ago
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you today.
What does it mean that God is “without parts”?
Sinclair Ferguson answers what is actually a rather complicated question.
Don’t Be a Missionary…
Jacob says that “while I pray for God to send out laborers into His harvest, I think a lot of people need someone to tell them, ‘Don’t be a missionary…’ There is so much good and godly zeal that is expressed in a desire to go to the mission field, and yet, ‘desire without knowledge is not good’ (Prov 19:2).” In other words, not everyone who feels called to be a missionary should actually be a missionary!
Why is the sky blue at midday, and red at dawn and dusk?
Ever wondered why the sky is blue at midday but tends to be red at dawn and dusk? CMI offers an explanation.
The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Leadership
“He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” —2 Samuel 2:23 (Sponsored Link)
Success looks like obedience
“We should cast our minds to the Old Testament Prophets who were called by God to preach that Israel and Judah repent so that they would not be taken into exile. Were they successful? I suspect they didn’t feel it at times, but of course they were. Why were they successful? Because they were obedient.”
When Father’s Day Is Hard, with Dan Doriani
Daniel Doriani considers some of the joys and sorrows that come with Father’s Day.
‘My Kingdom Is Not of This World’: The Lordship of Christ and the Limits of Civil Government
John Piper has written a long article about the relationship between church and government. “The thesis of this essay is that Jesus Christ, the absolutely supreme Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe, intends to accomplish his saving purposes in the world without reliance on the powers of civil government to teach, defend, or spread the Christian religion as such. Followers of Christ should not use the sword of civil government to enact, enforce, or spread any idea or behavior as explicitly Christian — as part of the Christian religion as such.”
Flashback: Fruitfulness and Usefulness
The Spirit does not cause us to bear fruit so we can look spiritually beautiful while keeping all the good of it to ourselves. He causes us to bear fruit so we have something to give to others, some way to bless them, some way to nourish them as they walk the weary road of life.
The minute I begin seeing God’s people as problems to be solved (or avoided) is the minute I’ve denied the heart of Christ. —Jared C. Wilson
By Tim Challies — 2 years ago
Every now and again I like to share one of the pastoral prayers from Grace Fellowship Church. This particular one was prayed by Paul Martin on a recent Sunday. The context, as is obvious from the prayer, is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and, perhaps more specifically, the vaccine mandates that are taking root in our city and country. This context provides many opportunities for Christians to disagree with one another and, therefore, to become disunited. This, then, is a prayer for unity in our local church.
O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our one true God, this is a prayer for unity, a prayer on behalf of Grace Fellowship Church of Toronto.Please hear our prayer and answer it.
We are aware of athletes who run hard for 25 miles, only to falter before the finish line. Jesus told of those who started to build towers, but only got part way done. We don’t want to get nearly through this pandemic, only to falter before the end. So, our triune God, make us one. Father, remember the prayer of your Son on our behalf, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11).
This season of life has shown us ways we are different from each other in categories we rarely considered before. Some of us think the government has acted in folly, others think it has done well. Some of us think vaccines are dangerous, others think they are a gift. Some of us fear coming to church, others wish we could sit shoulder to shoulder when we do. And these strong differences of opinion on important matters could lead us to grow suspicious of one another; to avoid fellow members we disagree with; or even to judge them in our hearts. O Lord, fill this church with people who value your Word over their opinions. Make it so the most important thing in the world to us is to do what we are certain is absolutely true. Settle our eyes on the simplest of your commands and send your Holy Spirit to empower our faithful obedience to them.
By your grace, let us: love one another with brotherly affection and outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10); keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8); live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16); agree with one another and live in peace so that the God of love and peace will be with us (2 Corinthians 13:11); greet one another with true love (2 Corinthians 13:12); welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us (Romans 15:7); bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2); behave with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2); be kind to one another and tenderhearted (Ephesians 4:32); encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11); submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21); if one has a complaint against another, forgive the other (Colossians 3:13); consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24); not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as we see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25); confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16); show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9); as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace (1 Peter 4:10); clothe ourselveswith humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5).
And as we do all these good things, Lord, keep us from doing some other awful things. Let us not: pass judgment on one another (Romans 14:13); become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:26); lie to one another, seeing that we have put off the old self with its practices (Colossians 3:9); speak evil against one another (James 4:11); bite and devour one another (Galatians 5:15).
These are good things we know we can do and bad things we know we must not do. The worst thing that could happen to us as a church is if we would let our circumstances provide us an excuse to disobey the clear commands of your Bible. O God, please forgive us for where we have failed to love and properly care for each other. Forgive us for wishing ill on people who see things differently from us. Forgive us for retreating into little like-minded cells where we can grumble about those we disagree with.
You hate those things. But you love unity without any forced uniformity. You love it when your people choose to be one. That is what Satan hates. He hates it when people show off your love and power by standing together in love even when they disagree. So we are sure that the Devil will continue to hound, hassle and harangue us in every way imaginable to get us to pull out of the marathon. To stop building the tower. O Lord, give us the strength of Samson to persevere in this battle.
I pray for every member of this church facing job loss or education disruptions due to vaccine requirements. O God, grant them the strength of their convictions and show them mercy. Help them to stand before you with honest hearts and to trust that you will carry them through. Help our church to be ready to help wherever we can, even if certain ones of us would make different decisions. And Lord, intervene on their behalf. Open up a new way for them.
I pray for every member of this church who feels quite fearful of attending a public worship service. O God, help them and grant them the courage of their convictions. And when they come and gather, let them do so in faith, not compulsion. May they do it with full confidence in you and your grace.
I pray for those who strongly believe our governing authorities are in error. O God, let them express their views carefully, always remembering to honor their leaders, just as much as they fear their God. I pray for those who think our governing authorities are doing an excellent job. O God, keep them from trusting in mere men and women, and help them to settle their greatest confidence on you alone. I pray for all those lost in the middle, those who have a hard time knowing what is best and what is folly. O God, help them to rest on you like a weaned child on her mother’s lap. If matters seem too complex to them, give them the faith of a child in you. You welcome all who come in humility and weakness.
O God, we would have no idea what to do in these days if we did not have our Bibles. And again, Lord, we ask that you would keep our eyes on the clearest and simplest parts of that Book. We will not live wrong if we do what we know is right. And you have given us such clear commands, the greatest of which is for us to love one another. “God is love.” And we are most like You when we are imitating your love. Therefore, may we “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” (Ephesians 5:1–2).
And may the unity that results from this mutual love make Grace Fellowship Church shine like the sun that breaks through the clouds on the most dismal of days, so that all who look over here and see the light will, in turn, worship the light, our thrice Holy God. To whom we pray, Amen.