Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Goal of Pride

The object or goal of pride is not a desire for excellency; a person cannot excessively desire to be excellent.  It is right to pursue qualities that other people will properly esteem.  Pursuing excellence in various fields of human endeavor, trying to achieve something of genuine value is good in God’s eyes.

The object or goal of pride is to be set above other people.  It is a craving to be exalted above others.  Proud people seek happiness in the praise of others.  The proud are always comparing themselves with other people.  The person who is dominated by this craving will not be able to see or appreciate God’s glory.  Pride makes faith impossible (John 5:44).  Proud people do not value those qualities in God that make Him trustworthy.  The proud are never satisfied.


Friday, October 30, 2009

A Proud Heart

Carefully consider John 5:41-44, especially verse 44.  Jesus phrases things in such a way that, the more you ponder them, the more meaning you take away.

How could people witness the miracles Jesus performed and still refuse to accept what He said?  The root, the nature, and the result of unbelief are laid bare in John 5.  The problem was not with the message, or with the evidence for the message, but with the hearts of those who heard the message and saw the miracles.   No evidence, no amount of teaching will produce faith in a proud heart.  The desire to find happiness in the praise of other people is deadly to all spiritual desires.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Restoring the Soul

Job said that he treasured God’s word more than the food that he needed to live (Job 23:12).  David preferred to rise at night and praise God rather than sleep (Psalm 119:62).  The point is that we should value spiritual things more than the natural refreshments of this life.  We live in a culture that believes hard work entitles us to a period of recreation.  Inactivity and leisure are thought to be indispensable to restore our capacity for further work.  While our bodies do need rest, it is a great error to think that recreation restores our souls.  Only the word of God can do that (Psalm 19:7).  The productivity of Christians in the past puts us to shame.       

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reverence for God

Reverence for God arises from three things: 1) contemplating the divine excellency and majesty of God, 2) knowing the infinite distance we stand from Him, and 3) realizing that, despite the difference between us, God is concerned with us.  It is an unspeakable wonder that this inconceivably glorious God is pleased, from His own mercy and grace, to care about poor sinners.  If you know only the first two, the result will be a fear of God that makes you want to hide from Him, rather than a loving reverence that draws you to Him.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Presence of God

Many Christians find it very difficult to focus their thoughts God and His various attributes.  To help you in this, try thinking about the effects of His attributes on your life.  For example, what affect does the omnipresence of God have on you?  Believing that God is always with you cannot fail to have a powerful impact on your daily life.  John Owen wrote that one thought of the actual presence of the holy God and His all-seeing eye will do more to restrain our lusts than any other consideration whatever.  We should live each day in the conviction that God is looking on us, deeply concerned in all our ways, and that He cares about everything that happens to us. Especially when we are facing great difficulties in life, and all help seems far away, the first thing we should do is fix our hearts on the presence of God.              

Monday, October 26, 2009

Genuine Experience

You cannot persuade a person who has tasted the sweetness of honey that honey is bitter.  No amount of arguments can convince a person of something they know by their own experience is not true.  In the same way, those who have tasted the goodness of the Lord in the Bible cannot be persuaded that God's word is false.  Once you have genuinely experienced the power of God's truth in your life, you will never give it up.  Those who do abandon the faith they once professed have never experienced its reality. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Strength to Obey

A Puritan prayer (from The Valley of Vision) expresses an important truth very well:  
Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in You.
We must endeavor to perform the greatest duties, being fully persuaded that in ourselves we have no strength for the least.  We must be ready to obey every command, no matter how difficult or how far beyond our own strength, looking to God for the necessary grace.  What God requires of us is not proportioned to the strength we possess, but to the power that is available to us in Christ.  What God commands us to do, He will give us the grace to do.   

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Principle of Obedience

In John 21:15-17, Jesus asked Peter three times "Do you love Me?" and three times Jesus commanded him "Feed My sheep."  Here the Lord had work for Peter to do, in  feeding Christ's sheep.  Jesus gauged Peter's heart to do so by his love for Him.  Love for God must be the principle of all our obedience.  It is love that makes obedience a joy and delight.  Without love, God's commandments will be a burden to us (1 John 5:3).  It is love that sets all the wheels of the soul a-going (from the third volume of Thomas Manton's wonderful exposition of Psalm 119).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Spiritual Mindedness

The following thoughts are inspired by John Owen, 17th century writer and teacher.  "Affections" is a term that includes more than our emotions, it is that part of us which loves and chooses.  In Romans 8 we are commanded to be spiritually minded.  The substance of this is having spiritual affections, i.e., a heart that finds such enjoyment in the things of God that we hold on to them with deep satisfaction and joy.  The great contest is between love for God versus the things of the world.
All of God's workings by grace in our lives are to secure our hearts to Himself.  God gave people the capacity to love to bind our hearts to Him, not in order that we could choose to pursue other things.  God asks for our affections, He commands us to use them to serve Him, and He lovingly draws us to Himself through them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Taste that the Lord is Good

The work of faith is to expect to receive from God a sense of His love and a supply of His grace. This glorifies Him as an all-sufficient source of good. We will never desire to read the Bible as we should until we have tasted God's goodness in it. Only faith can give us such a spiritual taste. Why does a baby crave milk? Because its very life cannot be sustained or nourished without it. We are able to discern if food is good or bad, not by looking at it or learning about it, but by tasting it. In the same way, true Christians have the ability to "taste" the goodness of God in biblical truth (1 Peter 2:2). This is one of the first things faith does.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christ Exalted by Life or Death

In Philippians 1:20 the apostle Paul wrote that the choice between his desire to keep on living and his desire to die and be with Christ was a difficult one.  The great Puritan writer Thomas Manton's comment on this verse is very thought-provoking.  Whichever occurred, he wrote, Paul's choice was not determined by a base or selfish motive.  He did not want to keep on living only to pursue his own pleasure or profit.  He did not want to die only to escape suffering.  Paul was influenced by one over-arching purpose: God's glory.  Whether he lived or died, his earnest expectation was that Christ would be exalted.  To merely go on living was not enough for him.  Life  for Paul was wasted apart from the great purpose of magnifying God.  In whatever happens to us, we should seek our happiness in the same goal.    

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Choose God today

After a very pain-filled night, James 4:1-6 helped me to focus my heart on God for another day. In that passage, loving the world more than God is portrayed as such a serious sin that the Holy Spirit calls it spiritual adultery. Whatever good the world offers us, God is the source of infinitely more. In fact, the primary act of grace is to move us to choose God as our highest good. We should love and desire things according to their true value. Therefore, every morning we should diligently choose God as the unrivaled object of our affection and desires.