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Showing posts from 2021

How Are We Partakers of His Divine Nature?

 One of the great passages of the Scriptures appears in Peter's second epistle and in a recent reading from Charles Spurgeon's writings, he speaks of how we are partakers in God's Divine nature - as he points out, not by being divine in our own nature, but by our relationship "in Christ".  2 Peter 1:3-4 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. To be a partaker of the divine nature is not, of course, to become God. That cannot be. The essence of Deity is not to be participated in by the creature. Between the creature and the Creator there will always be a fixed gulf in terms of essence; but as the first man Adam was made in the

The Promise in Times of Pain

  This next Sunday I will speak at New Life Fellowship - my home church in Randolph.  I am teaching a couple of times a month while the Pastoral search continues.  I told my friends there that I'm going to teach through the book of 1st Peter for as long as I have the opportunity to do so. The first part of Peter's letter is a grand doxology of Praise to God who has called us to himself, saved us by His grace through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and was resurrected from the grave, and who has given to us life.  We are "born again to a living hope," Peter writes in these first five verses.  1 Peter 1:1-5  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.  Blessed

The Bible and Election

 I have been teaching Scripture for almost 50 years now, and probably the two most difficult theological issues to understand - correctly - is what I posted last time concerning the Trinity, and today the doctrine of Election.  When Christians begin to realize that Salvation is a work of God's grace and mercy apart from any works on their part, they often become confused about what this means both personally and others.  One of the chief concerns is "if Election is completely God's will or choice, how do I know if I am elected by God?"  The question itself gives me insight into their heart - to want to know with assurance that they are saved!  I will allow Pastor Charles Spurgeon to fill in the details: Know Your Election For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you .  (I Thessalonians 1:4) Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but that is not possible; it is only to be discovered by “looking to Jesus.”1 If you desire t

The Persons of the Trinity

  One of the more difficult theological issues is understanding the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  They are not three God, but the persons of the Trinity.  How do we understand their relationship?  The early church spent years trying to sort through this issue and finally came to a resolution that still stands today.  The trinity of the Godhead is One in Essence (substance, from the Greek word " hypostasis "), but three in Persons.   Besides the theological orthodox understanding of the Trinity, there is also the personal implications for us as believers in Jesus Christ.  Here's a short Charles S Spurgeon note that will help us keep it straight in our head. " Beloved in God the Father... Sanctified in Christ Jesus... In the sanctification of the Spirit ."  (Jude 1:1) Consider the union of the Three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity, who think of Jesus

Keeping Christ the Main Focus

  1 Timothy 1:14-17   The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. In the 5

Looking at the Positives of what Christ has done for us

 I love reading Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  From my early days as a young believer, I came across Spurgeon - who pastored in London, England, in the mid to late 19th century.  His spiritual reflections were a significant part of my own young growth in Christ, and I have read his writings for these fifty years of my walk with Christ.  Here's an example of why I love him so much. Look at the Positives The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Psalm 126:3 Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, but with scarcely any reference to the mercy and help that God has provided them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state will come forward joyously and say, “I will not spea

Faith, Hope & Motherhood - a guest blog

  My daughter, Lindsay, is mother to four children - two sets of twins!  They are now ages 11 and 8.  She and her husband Peter are wonderful parents and yet we can all imagine what life would be like with two sets of twins still not yet teenage in years - for that matter, we can all wonder what it will be like when the two sets of twins are teenagers! Yikes.   As a grandparent, I'm incredibly proud of her, Pete, and my four grandchildren.  They are growing up and even though they live a long ways away, we get to see and participate in their lives in a very satisfying way... but, we don't have to raise them.   This is a blog Lindsay recently wrote for the National Parenting Initiative in the U.K.  I hope it encourages you, especially moms with young kids. Faith, Hope, and Motherhood Becoming a mum brings so many changes to your life: your time, priorities, expenses, energy, maybe even your work life, will change. My own children arrived in pairs: first one set of twins followed

I Have Had Enough

  There are times when life's assaults seem relentless.  Perhaps this last year, now plus three months, has shown that things can go from bad to worse to bad to worse, and somehow it never seems to end. I've had a bit of that this last year in multiple, and I mean multiple assaults in difficult, painful circumstances, emotions, and faith.  Yes, faith always gets connected to our circumstances.  It is easy to find ourselves in a place of "why Lord?" over and over again, and after a while, it becomes hard to even ask "why Lord?"  Some of you know what I mean. The end result is that we come to many places in our days and nights where a sense of despair can become the commonplace of rest.  Then, self-pity can replace real faith as the first object of our living.  It isn't a good place to be in, but honestly, I've been there...several times in the recent past.  When we cry out for mercy and feel nothing is answering, what do we do.  The words of Elijah in

The Essential Holy Spirit

 We often try to do the work of God in the energy of our own strength, mind, heart, even soul.  Yet, that is sure to leave us tired and frustrated.  It is not our own flesh that gives us the grace to do what God wants us to do.  I've learned over time that all the learning, practicing, and doing fall short when the Spirit of God is not driving me onward.  Think about this in this essay on: The Role of the Holy Spirit Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.   Ephesians 4:30 All that the believer has must come from Christ, but it comes solely through the channel of the Spirit of grace. Just as all blessings flow to you through the Holy Spirit, so also no good thing can come out of you in holy thought, devout worship, or gracious act apart from the sanctifying operation of the same Spirit. Even if the good seed is sown in you, it still lies dormant until He works in you to will and to do of His own good pleasure. Do you desire to speak for Jesus--how can you unless the Holy Spirit touc

Duty or Delight

  Just 10 days remain in Lent, and I am thinking about Jesus’ willingness to come for us. The Psalmist say in Psalm 40:   Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus came to change our lives from the slavery and penalty of our Sin, to one of love and faithfulness.   Today my prayers are going out to Tim and Kathy Keller.  Tim has been a faithful servant of Christ for many years and now he battles late-stage cancer. He reminded me this morning that David wrote this Psalm expressing his changed life where he no longer did things from duty, but for the pleasure of Joy to serve his Lord and Savior.   That’s how I want to live each day - grateful and joyfully giving thanks for all God has done and therefore acting from love, not duty.  The Puritan, John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress) said this way: “Our pleasure and our duty,  though opposite be

My Hope, My Friends, This Life

  The Second Sunday in Lent and as you probably know Sundays are days of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. During the forty days of Lent, Sundays are excluded from those days. We gather - whether in person or online - to worship our Savior - our resurrected Jesus Christ. This morning I'm thinking - afresh - of dear friends who have gone home to be with Lord. I have three close friends just in the last eighteen months. Wayne Pferdehirt was a man who knew how to be loving and kind while enjoying the company of whoever he was in. He took his relationships seriously, and yet kept everyone at ease around him. I miss him much. Milo Bishop's friendship goes all the way back to the early '70's in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A Seminary friend, we moved to different parts of the country. Thought about starting a church together, but lived at a distance. Still, over the years whenever we got together - whether in person or by phone - we picked up our conversations as i

Lenten Sacred Spaces

  'For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea. ' - Habakkuk 2:14 During Lent we have the opportunity to spend time in reflection and the wonder of the Cross. We realize that Jesus came to "live among us" - literally "tabernacle" - with us. God made his presence known to us in that "when you have seen me (Jesus), you have seen the Father". John 14:7   If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Is it possible to have that kind of experience where we spend time with God - in his presence - prayerfully and worshipfully entering into a quiet sacred space. I believe it is. The Celtic Monastics were a group of Christians who brought Christ to most of what we know as the United Kingdom - beginning in Ireland, then to Scotland, England, Wales, and even into Europe - these Christians practiced a spiritual work and worship rhythm for l

How Do We Pray

 With Lent just two days away, I want to preface today with a suggestion that you join me for the 40 days of Lent beginning Wednesday.  If you would like to you can buy my book on Amazon, "A Lenten Sojourn", which will aid in following along with a rhythm for thinking, musing, praying our way through the Lenten Season.  The link will be at the bottom.  The purpose of  Lent is to help us to pause and focus on the purpose of God in sending His Son, our Savior, Jesus, to this world that eventually he might die upon the cross.  Last week I posted about Prayer and God's hearing.  Today, a short reminder of praying Jesus' prayer for our own sake: How Do We Pray? Pray then like this: 'our Father in heaven. . .' Matthew 6:9 This prayer begins where all true prayer must start, with the spirit of  adoption : "Our Father." There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, "I will arise and go to my Father." This childlike spirit soon perceives the

He Remembers Our Prayers

Spurgeon's ability to look at a text and "see" behind the context to the special grace contained in God's word has always amazed me.  He sees what others pass over and shares what others do not comprehend.  This one is about "prayers". Acts 9:10-11  Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul began to pray, the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying soul. When our hearts are broken and we bow in prayer, we are often only able to employ the language of sighs and tears; still our groaning has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music. That tear has been caught by God and treasured in the receptacle of heaven. "Put my tea

Till now the Lord has helped us.

 From the Master Teacher C. H. Spurgeon Till now the Lord has helped us.  1 Samuel 7:12 The phrase "till now" is like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and still "till now the LORD has helped us." Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honor, in dishonor, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, "till now the LORD has helped us." We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves. In the same way look down the long aisles of your years at the green branches of mercy overhead and the strong pillars of loving-kindness and faithfulness that support your joys. Are there no birds singing in those branches? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received "till now.

What's your Motive?

  WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVE? I no longer have the card, but the question is now indelibly etched on my mind. I ask it almost every day of my life. It has proven to be an essential checkpoint I now apply on a regular basis: Why are you planning this? What’s the reason behind your doing that? Why did you say yes (or no)? What is the motive for writing that letter? Why are you excited over this opportunity? What causes you to bring up that subject? Why did you mention his or her name? What’s your motive, Pollasch? Searching, probing, penetrating questions. Because the path of servanthood is so perilous, we need to cultivate a sensitive walk with God marked by obedience.  

Why do my prayers go unanswered?

  From the Pen of C.H. Spurgeon: Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered? Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you.  Isaiah 30:18 God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in the Bible. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day--he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophoenicia received no answer for a long while. Paul asked the Lord three times for "a thorn . . . in the flesh" 1  to be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it would be removed, but instead a promise that God's grace would be sufficient for him. If you have been knocking at the gate of mercy and have received no answer, shall I tell you why the mighty Maker has not opened the door and let you in? Our Father has personal reasons for keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, so that we may learn that God has a right to give or to withhold. More often the delay is for our benef

God is with Us!

 This is a guest blog from a friend, Laura Novey.  It's an insightful picture from the Old Testament Prophet that has application to our own time. Isaiah 8—In the days of Isaiah, things were going downhill FAST. Doom was on the horizon. Things were in turmoil, infused with evil, spiraling in the wrong direction, terrifying, confusing, hopeless. And yet in the midst of all that, God promised to “take to [Himself] faithful witnesses for testimony.” He was STILL actively working amidst those dire circumstances through people He had called to be His.  …and He still does the same today with a believing remnant who walks in His ways.  Twice in this passage, even in the midst of prophecies about impending disaster, the word “Immanuel” is used which simply means “God is with us.”  We need to remember that. When presidential elections and social upheaval are chaotic, “Immanuel.”  When COVID wreaks its havoc, “Immanuel.” When life gets hard and it seems like all around us is darkness and evi

Pandemic Insights, a guest blog

 My friend Joel Alberti is a pastor in Madison, Wi.  He has written this to help us think our way through the Pandemic from a God-ward view.  He sent it out and I asked if he'd be ok to have me post it to my blog.  Its wisdom and sensible things to think. What is God teaching us in this season of life? In all my years I have never seen a year like 2020. With the ravages of a global pandemic which has killed nearly 2 million people; an economic depression that is second only to the Great Depression of the early 1930’s; racial tensions which have caused unprecedented civil unrest; and a divisive political landscape which has ripped our country in two; this has been chaotic, confusing, unsettling, frustrating (throw in your own adjective) and extremely challenging year for all of us. With all that is going on, there are many voices out there. Wherever you turn, there are strong opinions about why things are the way they are and what should be done about it. Dogma and intolerance a