Are You Wretched?

absolute-surrender“You will find that in this passage (Romans 7:6-25) the name of the Holy Spirit does not occur once, nor does the name of Christ occur. The man is wrestling and struggling to fulfill God’s law. Instead of the Holy Spirit and of Christ, the law is mentioned nearly twenty times. In this chapter, it shows a believer doing his very best to obey the law of God with his regenerate will. Not only this; but you will find the little words, I, me, my, occur more than forty times. This is the regenerate I in its impotence seeking to obey the law without being filled with the Spirit. This is the experience of almost every saint. …

“Blessed be God when a man learns to say: ‘O wretched man that I am!’ from the depth of his heart. He is on the way to the eighth chapter of Romans [Romans 8:1]. …

“God does not work by His spirit as He works by a blind force in nature. He leads His people as reasonable, intelligent beings, and therefore when He wants to give us that Holy Spirit Whom He has promised, He brings us first to the end of self, to the conviction that though we have been striving to obey the law, we have failed. When we come to the end of that, then He shows us that in the Holy Spirit we have the power of obedience, the power of victory, and the power of real holiness.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender

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Rewards And Consequences

Rewards and ConsequencesThe Bible consistently gives us—right up front—the rewards for right living, and the consequences for wrong living. No one ever has to be surprised. 

For example, take this message from Jesus in Luke 6.

  1. If you don’t want others to judge you, don’t be judgmental (v. 37).
  2. If you don’t want to be condemned by others, don’t condemn others (v. 37).
  3. If you want to be forgiven, forgive others first (v. 37).
  4. If you want to receive, be the first to give to others (v. 38).
  5. If you want to teach, find a good teacher and then be a good learner first (vv. 39-40).
  6. If you want to help others with their problems, first look in the mirror at yourself (vv. 41-42).
  7. If you want to speak good words, put good words inside yourself (vv. 43-45).
  8. If you want to stand strong through adversity, build on the right foundation (vv. 46-49).

God doesn’t miss a thing! He told us how to stay in the place where He can bless us, and how we can avoid life’s negative consequences.

We would all do well to hear these words and put them into practice (v. 47)!

Links & Quotes

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“Here’s an Advent illustration for kids—and those of us who used to be kids and remember what it was like. Suppose you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go, and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and it’s really her? That’s the way it is when Jesus comes to be our High Priest. That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing.” —John Piper (check out Hebrews 10:1-10)

“God desires to be remembered by man. He has taken unspeakable pains to keep Himself before His creatures, so as to make forgetfulness on their part the greatest of all impossibilities. In everything that God has set before our eyes or ears, He says, Remember Me. In every star, every flower, every mountain, every stream—in every joy, every comfort, every blessing of daily life—God says, Remember Me.” —Horatius Bonar

“God gives us a new revelation of His kindness in the valley of the shadow.” —Oswald Chambers

“Allow yourself one excess: be excessively obedient.” —Francois Fenelon

“satan’s ultimate weapon against us is our own sin. If the death of Jesus takes it away, the chief weapon of the devil is taken out of his hand. He cannot make a case for our death penalty, because the Judge has acquitted us by the death of His Son!” —John Piper

“Without Jesus, we’re trapped in the expectations of others. We’re trapped in living for the approval of our peers. We’re trapped in addictions. We’ve tried to change over and over again, but we don’t have the power needed to escape. Jesus came to give us that power.” —Rick Warren

“Holidays are about history, and if we fail to remember that history or to remind our contemporaries of it, then we will only be confirming their narrow and narcissistic view of ‘history’ as ‘my-story’ and my supposed right to make of my life whatever I will.” —T.M. Moore

John Stonestreet points out the power of hype in our modern culture—Ronda Rousey, Reality TV and Jesus.

Calvary Assembly of God helping the Cedar Springs community see the true meaning of Advent.

Is it really that big of a deal for a Christian to date a non-Christian?

Detroit Tigers fans and New York Yankees fans will enjoy this comparison of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.

Links & Quotes

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“The way to thwart the devil is to strengthen the very thing he is trying most to destroy—your faith.” —John Piper

“O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! … And now you have nothing but your God to trust to, what are you going to do? To fret? To whine? O, I pray you, do not thus dishonor your Lord and Master! Now, play the man, play the man of God. Show the world that your God is worth ten thousand worlds to you. Show rich men how rich you are in your poverty when the Lord God is your helper. Show the strong man how strong you are in your weakness when underneath you are the everlasting arms. Now man, now is your time to glorify God.” —Charles Spurgeon

“When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different [from asking God to forgive us]. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, ‘But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.’ Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.” ―C.S. Lewis, in Weight Of Glory

“Forgiveness is not foolishness. Forgiveness, at its core, is choosing to see your offender with different eyes. By the way, how can we grace-recipients do anything less? Dare we ask God for grace when we refuse to give it?” —Max Lucado

“Money is the currency of human resources. So the heart that loves money is a heart that pins its hopes, and pursues its pleasures, and puts its trust in what human resources can offer. So the love of money [1 Timothy 6:10] is virtually the same as faith in money—belief (trust, confidence, assurance) that money will meet your needs and make you happy.” —John Piper

“When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where He is, there shall I be also.’” ―Martin Luther

Really proud to see how my fellowship, The Assemblies of God, is helping those with mental diseases.

What emotions pop up when someone says to you, “Can we talk about this?” Seth Godin has some helpful thoughts on this.

In The Shadow Of The Cross

The Shadow Of The Old Rugged CrossSome people really know how to find the deals when they’re shopping. They know where to shop, when to shop, where to find the coupons, and how to find the rebates.

Rebates have always amazed me. I wondered how companies could give away money and still make a profit. Then I read that often up to 70 percent of rebates go unclaimed. Some people say it’s too much work to fill out all the correct forms, others say it takes too long to get their rebate, and still others think the amount they get back isn’t worth the effort.

I’m concerned about Christians who slip into a rebate mentality with God. It seems some Christians believe that they need to “fill out the right forms” in order to claim all that God has for them. They seem to think that salvation isn’t enough, and that they have to add church attendance, offerings, good works, Bible reading and other activities to make sure they don’t miss out.

Not that there’s anything wrong with those activities, but there is something wrong with thinking we have to do something to keep our salvation at its full effectiveness. 

If we have placed our faith in Christ’s work on an old rugged Cross, then all of our sins have been forgiven (see Psalm 103:1-5, 10-12 and Jeremiah 33:8). This is a gift that is available to everyone (Acts 10:43).

But here’s when I think satan steps in to deceive us―when we feel convicted by the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit is constantly refining us to make Christ’s image visible in us. But satan wants to twist and pervert this conviction into condemnation.

It’s only in the shadow of the old rugged Cross that I can see my sin correctly:

(1) The Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin tells me that He desires for me to be more like Jesus―John 14:25-27.

(2) Sin isn’t my master any longer―Romans 6:1-2, 8-11.

(3) My sin never diminishes God’s love for me―1 John 1:8-2:2.

(4) Sin cannot condemn me―Romans 8:1-2.

As we remember and celebrate what Jesus did on Calvary for us, let’s also remember to stay in the shadow of the Cross. It’s there we can see from Heaven’s point of view.

If you are in the area and don’t have a church home, I would love for you to celebrate Resurrection Sunday with us! We’ll continue our look at what happened on the old rugged Cross.

Poetry Saturday―And Can It Be Said That I Should Gain

Charles WesleyAnd can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain―
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace―
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray―
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own. —Charles Wesley

Links & Quotes

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“O that you and I might have this blessed combination in ourselves; to win the high opinion of others, so far as it can be gained by integrity, by uprightness, and by decision of character, and yet at the same time to walk humbly with our God!” —Charles Spurgeon

Hebrews infographicThe Overview Bible Project has another book study released on Hebrews. Read this and then please subscribe to have the latest studies sent right to your email. I love these!

David Wilkerson wrote, “All the mourning, brokenhearted men of God in the Bible had one thing in common….” Check out this short post to see what this powerful thing was.

“God uses appropriate doses of guilt to awaken us to sin. His guilt brings enough regret to change us. satan’s guilt, on the other hand, brings enough regret to enslave us. Don’t let him lock his shackles on you.” —Max Lucado

J. Warner Wallace is a Christian and a trained police detective. He does a great job helping evaluate the evidence for the claims of God. Check out this post: The Dangers Of “Scientism.”

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