Quips and Quotes
"We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Think On These Wondrous Things! And Have a Joyous Christmas!

"But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)



Mary Had a Mindset Beyond Her Difficulties

Regardless of the stigma society placed on Mary for having been pregnant out of wedlock, and the shame that others connected to her as the babe grew within her, regardless of the scorn she received from onlookers, she choose not to think on those things. 

Rather Mary treasured in her heart what was true - she had given birth to Messiah and was now seeing God confirm for her, through the shepherds, that it was indeed so. She was thrilled at what God was bringing to pass. She thought on these miraculous and marvelous happenings which were unfolding before her very eyes.


What About Me?


Should it be any different in my own life? Should I not ponder and treasure how God is at work within me to sanctify me, to change me daily into the image of His Beloved Son? Everyday, every moment, Christ is abiding in me. The Holy Spirit teaches me the things of God and comforts me in any affliction. Everyday, my Triune God speaks truth into my life. Everyday He walks with me and tells me that I am His own. He is actually my Father; Jesus is my friend, brother, Savior and Lord; the Holy Spirit dwells in me and reveals these glorious details to me. Everyday He is proving Himself to be more than I ever dreamed or imagined.

A Mindset That Leads to Worship


These are the things that I should be thinking on and when they are, worship just happens. With every thought that Mary treasured, her mind was taken upward to behold her amazing God. This is worship. This is adoration. This is pure delight in the Lord's presence!

A Mindset That Reveres Scripture


And this treasuring of the things of God as they unfold in my life is exactly what I am commanded to think on in Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Certainly we can say, "God is truth (John 14:6). He is just, Who died for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). He is right and righteous altogether (1 John 3:7). He is pure and holy without any taint of sin (Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Peter 1:15-16). He is the loveliest of ten thousand and more (Psalm 135:3). He is of the most glorious repute, having been bestowed with the Name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9). He is excellent in greatness (Psalm 150:2) and in name (Hebrews 1:4). And is there anyone or anything more worthy of praise than our gracious and kind God (Psalm 146:1)? Absolutely not!

A Mindset That Becomes a Way of Life


The command in Philippians tells us to dwell on these things, to let our minds be governed by what is true, etc. So when are we to think in this way? Is it to be just at Christmas time? We see Mary dwelling on these things at her Son and Savior's birth, but did that mindset change once Jesus was walking, growing older, becoming a man? 

In Luke 2:51-52 we see Jesus at the age of 12. He had grown and was now considered a man by Jewish culture. He had gone with His parents to Jerusalem for Passover. When they left to go back home to Nazareth, He stayed behind at the temple, unbeknownst to them. Luke 2:46 tells us, "...after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions." 

After finding their Son, they left with Him to travel back home. Once more in Luke we read, "And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

Twelve years after His birth, we find Mary still pondering on the wonderful workings of her God as they unfolded in her life. This mindset had become her habit. 

This mindset would be the very thing that would enable Mary to face the crucifixion of her Son and continue to trust God when her life would otherwise have fallen apart.

A Mindset That Speaks of the Very Heart Of Christmas


And so it should be for me and anyone else who knows the Savior. He is so very personal to His beloved ones, to those who trust and revere Him. How can we fail to let our minds think on those things He shows us? And then how can we not worship this precious One who came, as a lowly babe in human flesh, the Just One, Who died for the unjust so that we might know and love Him and be loved by Him?

Surely this is the true meaning, the very heart and essence of Christmas!

"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth." (Colossians 3:2

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

God is Not Only Able, He is Also Willing



"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness." 
A. W. Pink

Matthew 15:21-28, is an account of a woman who refused to give up asking Jesus to rescue her daughter, who suffered greatly. We read, "And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.' But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she is crying out after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'  But she came and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' And he answered, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.' She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed instantly."

Who was this woman?

This woman was not a Jew. In fact, she was a Canaanite, a people who, historically in the Old Testament, were bitter enemies with the Jews. These gentile people were idolaters, known, in the Old Testament, for sacrificing their children to their gods. But this woman was pleading for her child to be made whole.

How and what did she know about Jesus?

It is quite amazing then that she would even approach Jesus. In reading the story, Jesus seems to be very reluctant to respond favorably to her and her request. She seems to be a bother to Him, in fact. But this is simply not the case, as we shall see.

Somehow this woman knew some very basics facts about Jesus. She must have seen Him healing others and heard the many accounts about Him that swirled about the region - accounts of those who had not been refused by Him. 

She knew He was the "Son of David", a title that acknowledged Him as the Messiah, for she cried out to Him by that name. She also called Him "Lord" indicating that she regarded Him as her master. She implored Him for His mercy, knowing that she needed that for her soul and for her life. She knelt before Him in worship, recognizing Him as One who was sovereign over her.


What made this woman so confident in approaching Jesus?

This woman knew who Jesus was. And in knowing who He was, she also knew His character. She knew He never refused those who came to Him. She knew and believed that He would not refuse her either, even though she was a gentile of the most vile reputation (being a Canaanite) and even though she was a woman (regarded by men at this time as mere chattel with no rights whatsoever). Above all else, she knew and believed that Jesus delighted in giving to those who loved Him the deep longings of their hearts. She knew how very good and willing He was and so she approached Him with great confidence.

This Canaanite woman knew Christ was willing and therefore would not give up asking of Him even when it appeared that He was refusing her. She was not seeking to overcome His seeming reluctance, but was undertaking to lay hold of His gracious willingness. 

Am I as confident and persistent as the Canaanite woman?

Our understanding of the Lord's willingness is crucial to actually receiving what we ask for. In this story, it is a foregone conclusion that if this woman had not persisted in her asking, had she walked away dejected because of what seemed to be a refusal by Jesus, she would not have been commended for her faith, nor would her daughter have been healed. 

So, how willing are we to persist in prayer? Are we as determined as this woman, desperate for Christ? We must not give up asking what we know God is willing to give, which is just another way of thinking about what it means to pray according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). He is able and willing to give when we pray in this way. 



Moving Mountains

We don't believe You're able.
We don't believe You would.
We don't think You are willing.
Don't think that You're that good.
"All things are possible", said Christ.
"Through Me, so just believe."
"A mountain moves because you ask
And know that you'll receive."

So why do we not ask of You?
Your promise to fulfill;
We think, "Yes, God is able,
But is this thing His will?"
We might think You are able.
But we don't believe You would.
We don't think You are willing.
Don't think that You're that good.

Today, like every yesterday,
Lord Jesus, You're the same.
You preached Good News, healed all the sick
Who called upon Your name.
Of those who came and asked of You,
Not one was turned away.
Is mountain moving harder now"
Is God not good today?

Yes, we believe You're able.
We think You surely could.
But we don't think You are willing.
Don't know that You're that good.
Our God moves mountains with great ease.
He's done it from the start.
He moves a mountain every time
He tames a rebel heart.

No, mountain moving is not hard;
It causes God no grief.
The thing that's hard is my own heart.
Lord, help my unbelief!
O, I believe You're able.
And I want to know You would.
I want to know You're willing -
To know that You're that good.

O, move this mountain in my heart -
This mount of unbelief.
Through You all things are possible.
Please, Lord, help me believe.
O Savior, may I from this day,
Yes, from this very hour
Trust fully and completely in
Your mountain moving power.

O, yes, I know You're able.
And I know You surely would.
You are so very willing.
You are so very good.
If I could simply comprehend
The goodness of the Lord.
I'd understand His willingness
And prayer would be out-poured.

He'd answer each petition
For His glory, then I would
See that He is so willing,
That He is so very good!
It's not that You are willing, Lord;
Nor even that You would.
But that You do move mounts each day
For Your glory and my good.

SKK
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teach Me, My Lord, to Pray! Yes, Teach Me to Pray!

"And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:9-13)

What an invitation! What an opportunity!

And the book of James tells me, "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2b). There is far too much truth in that. So once again, this morning, I am asking of the Lord, as did the disciples, to teach me to pray (Luke 11:1). Notice that they did not ask Jesus to teach them "how to pray", but simply "to pray". I am asking Him to increase my faith so that in my asking, I know He will answer since He is not only able, but also so very willing because of His great goodness, mercy and love.

I am asking Him to burden me with His purposes and call me to pray for those very things that He has determined will be accomplished through prayer (Matthew 6:10). I am asking Him to call me to pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5:16-18) so that I may see Him and His answers also without ceasing and be filled with joy in glorifying Him in those prayers (John 16:24; John 14:13).

Yes, and I am asking Him to teach me to pray so that I may behold His beauty (Psalm 27:4). Sitting at my Savior's feet I am thereby made rich all the day with His presence and His unbounding joy. I am asking Him to teach me to pray so that, by beholding Him, I may become transformed into His likeness and be less like myself (2 Corinthians 3:18). I am asking Him to teach me to pray because, most of all, I want more of Christ, I want more of my kind Father and I want more of the sweet Spirit filling me with their fullness each and everyday.

I want more of this incomprehensible Triune God, who, out of His great heart of love, mercy and grace has poured out upon me such a kindness that can never be known apart from Him. It is not possible to describe the love I find in His presence when I commune with Him. He is love! So my heart swells with great waves of His affection heaped so generously within me and upon me that I am filled to overflowing with Him and all that He is.

But distractions abound when I ask Him to teach me to pray!

And yet, with this effusive beneficence found at my Savior's feet, I can actually get so distracted in the wee hours that I miss out on Him. I can listen to the demanding needs of the day and forsake time spent at the throne of grace for the sake of doing some menial task, which is soon undone, only to have to be done again. And can I not do that task after I meet with the Lord? Will it not be there for me then? Of course it will!

By neglecting time with my Lord, I remain in my poor, forgetful, drowsy state for the remainder of the day. I am not rich with His love or kindness toward others, especially in my thoughts. Since I have not partaken of His wisdom (James 1:5), I will be prone to my own discretion, which is simply moral and so ordinary and most of the time just plain wrong. Any ethical unredeemed man or woman could produce and does produce this lowly wisdom. But I want the wisdom from above that "is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17). This is not ordinary earthly wisdom, which is all I am capable of without having invited Wisdom Personified into my day.

And what else will I lack having had no time for my Lord? When temptation confronts me, I may not even be aware (sleepy, as were the disciples in the garden with Jesus) for I have not watched and prayed with Him. I will cave in or at best, I will crave that which is set before me (though I will probably say "no" to it), instead of possessing a passion and love so significant for my Savior that nothing touches my joy in Him. Temptations loose their power when I abide with Christ and He with me.

Of course joy will be absent, as will peace, contentment, patience, a soft answer, assuming the best of someone, thoughts that honor Christ. But most of all, I give up the sense of His sweet, empowering presence and my overarching love for Him.

So I continue to ask, "Lord, teach me to pray!"

Obviously, I must continue to ask Him and never cease to ask Him to teach me to pray (this is a request that can never end for me). And in my asking of Him, often that sounds like, "Dear Father, keep my heart focused on You. Help me to not be drawn away from You right now." 

And herein, I believe, is the key to learning to pray - to never come to a place in which I think I've learned to keep this divine and divinely appointed communion. For, reiterating, every morning, without exception, I am assaulted with the demands of the day, which, if I heed them, will rob me of the one essential thing - meeting with my God.

Father, how good You are! You give Your child Your ear so graciously and freely. You have nothing but good ordained for me. And as You said, Lord Jesus, as a parent, I delight to give my children what they ask for. How much more, then, do You delight in giving me that which I request, for You are completely free of any heart defect. You are perfect and holy and the very definition of LOVE. It is to You that I pray; it is to You that I come; it is in You that I trust; it is You that I want.

Teach me, my Lord, to pray! Yes, teach me to pray!

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