Links & Quotes

link quote

Some great reading I found today.

God has sought us out: let us have good hope for those who are laid upon our hearts in prayer, for He will find them out also. … It is a point of honor with Jesus to seek and to save all the flock, without a single exception. What a promise to plead!” —Charles Spurgeon

Where is the outrage?! Christian Girls Abducted & Raped In Egypt.

[INFOGRAPHI] Right on the heels of Easter, Bible Overview has a great infographic of everyone in the Bible who was raised from the dead.

The apostles had this instinct: When in trouble, pray. When intimidated, pray. When challenged, pray. When persecuted, pray!” —Jim Cymbala. Read more from Pastor Cymbala’s great post on prayer.

“Throughout our history Americans have put their faith in God and no one can doubt that we have been blessed for it. The earliest settlers of this land came in search of religious freedom. Landing on a desolate shoreline, they established a spiritual foundation that has served us ever since.” —Ronald Reagan

“Nobody ever got anything from God on the grounds that he deserved it. Having fallen, man deserves only punishment and death. So if God answers prayer it’s because God is good.” —A.W. Tozer

Sacrifice is not giving up things, but giving to God with joy the best we have.” —Oswald Chambers

Do You Smell Like Jesus?

Christ's aromaScientists tell us that the sense of smell contributes to more vivid and clear memory recall than any of the other human senses. Have you ever thought about the things Jesus smelled? Or about the memories others recalled about Jesus because of the way He smelled?

Less than a week before His crucifixion, Mary anointed Jesus with a highly-scented spice called spikenard (see John 12:1-8; Mark 14:3-9; and Matthew 26:6-13). Let me rephrase that: Mary didn’t just “anoint” Jesus as we think about that word today, she doused Him in a lifetime supply of this fragrance. Some people complained, but Jesus told those sour people that it was absolutely beautiful what she had done, as Jesus carried this aroma with Him to the Cross.

After He died on the Cross, Joseph and Nicodemus prepared Jesus for burial with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes (see John 19:38-40). Think about that: seventy-five pounds! In doing so they actually fulfilled a prophesy from the Old Testament about King Jesus’ triumphal return to life—

Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy. All Your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia… (Psalm 45:6-8).

Jesus carried a powerful aroma with Him all the way to the Cross, into the tomb, and when He burst forth alive from the tomb! 

Without Christ, our lives carry the stench of death. We cannot come into our Heavenly Father’s presence because of that putrid smell clinging to us. But when God forgives us of our sins as we place our faith in Jesus, we are wrapped in the robes of Christ: we smell like Him and are welcomed into the Father’s presence.

Easter is a reminder of how a forgiven Christian should now live—

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God (Ephesians 5:2).

…Now [God] uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

How do you smell? Do you smell like Jesus? Are others attracted to the aroma of Christ because of what they smell in you? Smelling good honors the work Jesus did on the Cross and in overcoming the grave.

Passion Week Infographic

Passion week infographicJosh Byers produced a great resource for the Passion Week. It lists chronologically all of the events recorded in the Gospels for the week from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day, along with each of the Scripture references for those events. This would be meaningful way to read your Bible this week.

You can click the image to the left to view it magnified on your screen, or you can download a PDF version by clicking here → Passion week infographic.

If you really love Josh’s work, click here to go to his site to purchase a physical print.

But whatever you do, let’s observe this Passion Week with Bible reading and prayer.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some great reading from today.

“What satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” —C.S. Lewis

“Leadership requires vision, and whence will vision come except from hours spent in the presence of God in humble and fervent prayer?” —A.W. Tozer

[INFOGRAPHIC] Christ’s activities during the Passion Week.

I am proud of my heritage in the Assemblies of God, which is celebrating its centennial this year. Read the history of the fellowship’s creation here and here.

[VIDEO] Logan finds out he’s going to be a big brother.

Astronomers may have found some dark matter at the center of our galaxy. That’s cool, but if we can accept this science by faith, why can’t we accept the biblical version by faith?

Research says forgiving yourself makes you healthier physically.

“When should a Christian, then, be like Jesus Christ? Is there a time when he may strip off his regimentals—when the warrior may unbuckle his armor, and become like other men? Oh! no; at all times, and in every place let the Christian be what he professes to be.” —Charles Spurgeon

Book Reviews From 2013

13 Quotes From “Dear Abba”

Dear AbbaDear Abba is an intimate book of prayer and personal reflection; it’s thought-provoking and emotionally-moving. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes and prayers I found especially meaningful.

“Dear Abba, I’ve come to the place where I’m letting You love me more each day, but I still struggle with letting You like me.” 

“It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad: all of our desires to make ourselves worthy of this world but unfit for the world to come.”

“Peace and joy go a-begging when the heart of a Christian pants for one sign after another of God’s merciful love. Nothing is taken for granted, and nothing is received with gratitude.”

“I feel like the psalmist tonight—downcast. I was upcast, bright, enjoying the warmth of the day and then suddenly my joy was pickpocketed. It was a small thing, a minor misunderstanding that I could have let roll off like water, but I held on to it and nursed it awhile, and like sin always does, it grew. Now I find my mind completely disturbed, anxious, angry, and my imagination is conjuring up all sorts of somebody-done-me-wrong songs. Why do I not trust You? After so many demonstrations of Your infinitely tender hand, why do I not trust You?”

“Sin does not magnify the suffering of man’s plight; instead, it mitigates it. When I sin, I seek an escape from my humanity. I used to say to myself, ‘Well, you’re only human!’ But sin does not make me human; it compromises my humanity. The philandering husband with his mistress on business trips, the chemically addicted, the thieves who build ivory towers out of stolen money, the sensation-seekers and power brokers who seek substitutes. They do not drink the poverty of the human situation down to the last drop. They dare not stare it full in the face.” 

Yet. Those three letters stop me in my rutted tracks of besetting sins. For You were tempted as I am, yet You did not sin. The humbling point is that on a scale from 1 to 10, I usually give in when the heat reaches 3 or 4, yet You experienced the 10—the full-in-the-face of temptation—and did not give in. You are the friend of sinners, yet You are also the Great High Priest who invites us to come with confidence to Your throne and receive both our daily bread and extra rations for emergencies.”

“To practice poverty of spirit calls us not to take offense or be supersensitive to criticism.

“When the gift of a humble heart is granted, we are more accepting of ourselves and less critical of others. … For the humble person there is a constant awareness of his or her own weakness, insufficiency, and desperate need for God.”

“My friends in Christ, the simple truth is that the Christian Church in America is divided by doctrine, history, and day-to-day living. We have come a long sad journey from the first century, when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, ‘See how these Christians love one another!’” 

“Christ’s breakthrough into new life on Easter morning unfettered Him from the space-time limitations of existence in the flesh and empowered Him to touch not only Nepal, but New Orleans, not only Matthew and Magdalene, but me. The Lion of Judah in His present risenness pursues, tracks, and stalks us here and now.”

“I realized today that there is a third character who goes up to the temple to pray: the pharisaic tax collector—a ragamuffin who knows she’s a ragamuffin and wants to make sure everyone else knows she’s a ragamuffin. So she ends up using her sinner status not to cry out for mercy to You, but rather to seek out the attention of others as one who is real and authentic, when in reality she is nothing more than hubris in thrift-shop fashions. I realized this today because I looked in the mirror. God, be merciful to me.” 

“The tendency to continually berate ourselves for real or imaginary failures, to belittle ourselves and underestimate our worth, to dwell exclusively on our dishonesty, self-centeredness, and lack of personal discipline, is the influence of our negative self-esteem. Reinforced by the critical feedback of our peers and the reproofs and humiliations of our community, we seem radically incapable of accepting, forgiving, or loving ourselves.”

“If nobody remembers my name or the works of my hands, if everything that I’ve worked so hard to build over the years crumbles into insignificance, if I lose my health and my wits and even, heaven forbid, my memory, You are still my refuge and strength.” 

So Blessed

BlessedTo think this is my “job” …

On Friday I had the privilege of sharing the message at our combined Good Friday service, where all the churches in Cedar Springs came together. I talked about the contrast Jesus presents to us from John 16:33. Quite simple it goes like this:

  • In the world = trouble
  • In Jesus = peace

This morning our Easter breakfast drama confronted (sometimes comically) the various conspiracy theories about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then I shared how the biblical account of Jesus’ resurrection is not only the most plausible, reasonable and logical of accounts, but it is also the only option which gives us lasting hope.

It’s amazing to think that my “job” allows me to speak the words of life, the hope of freedom, the promise of eternal life, the beauty of a relationship with Christ. I am truly blessed and humbled to do what God has called me to do.

Five Quotes From “Love To The Uttermost”

Love To The UttermostI suggested last week that John Piper’s book Love To The Uttermost is an excellent resource to help guide you through the Holy Week with some fresh insights (you can read my review of this book by clicking here). Here are a few of the fresh insights that stood out to me.

“Luke 12:32 is a verse about the nature of God. It’s a verse about what kind of heart God has. It’s a verse about what makes God glad—not merely about what God will do or what He has to do, but what He delights to do, what He loves to do, and what He takes pleasure in doing. ‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ …This is what the word means: God’s joy, His desire, His want and wish and hope and pleasure and gladness and delight, is to give the kingdom to His flock.”

“Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of His death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us, and He appointed a time. Jesus, who was the very embodiment of His Father’s love for sinners, saw that the time had come and set His face to fulfill His mission: to die in Jerusalem for our sake. ‘No one takes my life from Me,’ Jesus said, ‘I lay it down of my own accord’ (John 10:18).”

“First, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by what it costs him. Second, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by how little we deserve it. Third, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the greatness of the benefits we receive in being loved. Fourth, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the freedom with which they love us.”

“[God] does not need us. If we stay away He is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But He magnifies His mercy by giving us free access through His Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, Himself.”

“The resurrection of Jesus is given to us as the confirmation or evidence that He was indeed free in laying down His life. And so the resurrection is Christ’s testimony to the freedom of His love. …Of all the great things that Easter means, it also means this: it is a mighty ‘I meant it!’ behind Christ’s death. I meant it! I was free. You see how free I am? You see how much power and authority I have? I was able to avoid it. I have power to take up My life out of the grave. And could I not, then, have devastated My enemies and escaped the Cross? My resurrection is a shout over My love for My sheep: It was free! It was free! I chose it. I embraced it. I was not caught. I was not cornered. Nothing can constrain Me to do what I do not choose to do. I had power to take My life from death. And I have taken My life from death. How much more, then, could I have kept My life from death! I am alive to show you that I really loved you. I freely loved you. Nobody forced Me to it. And I am now alive to spend eternity loving you with omnipotent resurrection love forever and ever. Come to Me, all you sinners who need a Savior. And I will forgive you and accept you and love you with all My heart forevermore.”

Such Wondrous Love

CrossAs I am preparing both a Good Friday message and an Easter message, I am immersed in the details of Christ’s passion for us. There are so many thoughts swirling through my head about the amazing, unequaled, undeserved, overflowing love that Jesus has for us.

See from His head, His hands, His feet / Sorrow and love flow mingled down! / Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, / Or thorns compose so rich a crown? (Isaac Watts, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

That Christ should join so freely in the scheme / Although it meant His death on Calvary / Did ever human tongue find nobler theme / Than love divine that ransomed me?

Such love, such wondrous love / Such love, such wondrous love / That God should love a sinner such as I / How wonderful is love like this!

That for a willful outcast such as I / The Father planned, the Savior bled and died / Redemption for a worthless slave to buy / Who long had law and grace defied (C.Bishop, Such Love)

Because of the joy awaiting Him, Jesus endured the Cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2)

I hope this week you will reflect on God’s amazing grace, Christ’s great love, and the Holy Spirit’s persistent drawing of your heart. Jesus died for us so that we could be brought into a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father!

If you are in the Cedar Springs area, please join me in celebrating with our churches our combined Good Friday service, or our Easter morning breakfast drama called Conspiracy!

Love To The Uttermost (book review)

Love To The UttermostAs we approach Easter, we approach one of the most pivotal times in the greatest story ever told: They story of Jesus Christ’s victory over satan and death! Each year I look forward to allowing the Holy Spirit to show me something new about this amazing story. A great resource this year is going to be Love To The Uttermost by John Piper.

This is a FREE ebook from Desiring God which will guide you through Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. For each of the eight days of this week Pastor Piper gives us a new angle to explore in Christ’s love that led Him to the Cross, and overcame the grave. Each day’s reading will only take you a few minutes, but the central truth shared will give you something to meditate upon all day.

I read through this entire book quickly in order to write this review, but now I’m looking forward to re-reading it beginning on Palm Sunday!

You can download this FREE ebook by clicking here.

I promise you that you will discover something fresh and exciting about our Savior’s love each day that you read Love To The Uttermost.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,789 other followers

%d bloggers like this: