Saturday, January 10, 2009

Words From '81 I Needed To Hear Today

This is such a great quote I hesitate to set apart any of it with italics or bold; it must be taken as a whole - a challenge to pastors and to the expectations of his people.

"The Word will not abide within us if we are in a hurry. We pastors deceive ourselves when we are so busy doing good things that we snatch a text and a prayer on the run and think that we will be mighty men of God and bear spiritual fruit. To be very specific, Glenn, so that you will remember it, almost no minister of the gospel will be a spiritually fruitful person if he is spending less that two hours a day in prayer and meditation in addition to his sermon preparation. Holy, powerful, life-changing spiritual men of God are not made on the run. There are so few people who believe that, Glen, that the expectations laid on you in the service will probably be a constant threat to your spiritual power and fruitfulness. But Christ has appointed you to go and bear fruit. So resist those expectations with boldness."

-John Piper, I Chose You to Bear Fruit (John 15), Ordination of Glen Bloomstrom, 1981

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Perpetual Love of God

"But a question is put, How did Christ die for friends since we 'were his enemies, before he reconciled us', (Romans 5:10) for, by expiating our sins through the sacrifice of his death, he destroyed the enmity that was between God and us? The answer to this question will be found under the third chapter [of John], where we said that, in reference to us, there is a state of variance between us and God, till our sins are blotted out by the death of Christ; but that the cause of this grace, which has been manifested in Christ, was the perpetual love of God, with which he loved even those who were his enemies."

- John Calvin, Commentary on John 15:13

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

God and Donkeys: Expanding Our View of God’s Providence in 2009

The man wiped his brow, weary from the journey of looking for his family’s lost donkeys. Both he and his servant were tired of looking and ready to return to their home. Surely they were both quite annoyed at this point and would rather have been doing something else. Perhaps they were mumbling under their breath about these donkeys that had wondered away. After all, they had other things they needed to be doing. This had been quite the interruption to their normal schedule.

These lost donkeys, however, were no accident. Their wanderings were not undirected. We find Saul the son of Kish, a Benjaminite, in 1 Samuel 9 being sent by his father to find their family’s donkeys. And, in verse 16 of that same chapter God tells Samuel, “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel.” The Benjaminite to whom the Lord is referring is Saul. And, what Saul thinks is a search for randomly wandering donkeys is in fact God’s providential leading of Saul to Samuel. It’s all a matter of perspective; what was wandering to Saul was being sent to Samuel.

God is a God of means. In this situation he chose to cause Kish’s donkeys to walk away. How often have we grumbled and complained when God is using means in our lives to accomplish his purposes? Of course, the difficult part of trusting God with the interruptions to our lives is that we don’t know the outcome. When we read 1 Samuel we have the advantage of knowing how the story ends. In our lives we may never know why things happen to us. And, it would often be a mistake to speculate. But, the one thing we must do is trust that God has his good purposes for all things that happen in our lives, even what we would call annoying interruptions (Rom. 8:28).

When our plans change by circumstances out of our control, God would call us to trust that they are perfectly in his control. The long line at the checkout, the fender bender on the way home, the lost keys that make you late for your appointment are all for the good. It could be that the house your car broke down in front of has been waiting for the gospel to reach their ears. It becomes difficult to think on such things if we’re kicking our tires and screaming on the telephone.

Instead, let us resolve to trust God’s providence in our lives in 2009. Let us trust that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” God’s goodness to us was bought on the cross. Let us look to the gospel in 2009.
God intends to teach us this and much more about himself as we look into 1 Samuel in Adult Bible Study on Sunday mornings. I am excited about what God will do in our lives together in 2009 through the teaching of his Word.