He is not poor

I have been reading Job, Piper’s book of poetry inspired by the verses that tell his story. In light of what happened last week in Haiti, I wanted to share a piece that Piper wrote regarding Jesus and the weight of what He did. This is a great section with awe-inspiring truths about our savior:

And now come, broken, to the cross,

Where Christ embraced all human loss,

And let us bow before the throne

Of God, who gives and takes his own,

And promises – whatever toll

He takes – to satisfy our soul,

Come, learn the lesson of the rod:

The treasure that we have in God.

He is not poor nor much enticed

Who loses everything but Christ

(John Piper, Job p. 36)

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God’s Sovereignty over Car Accidents

Friday marked the end of my family’s trip to Vermont. It was a great journey that began with Emmalie and I surprising my parents by being there unexpectedly, and ended with a car accident.

What Happened

Emmalie and I were riding back to Maine in her car when I decided to pass the vehicle in front of us, which turned out to be a bad idea. The moment we merged into the left lane, I lost control. After fishtailing a little, and swerving a lot, we ended up on the roof in the ditch. The car settled and we worked to get out: I unbuckled and almost landed on my head, when we saw a man clear off Emmalie’s window and begin yelling to us. Then my sister’s boyfriend was at the window. I rolled it down and got her unbuckled. The guys (now four of them) heaved us out of the car and we proceeded to turn it over onto its wheels.

What didn’t happen

Emmalie and I got checked out by the EMTs and were completely fine. The car was pulled out and we only had to tighten the fan belt and replace some fluids. We didn’t have to leave the car in Vermont but made it home safely.

Living like I believe God

I am a believer; Christ has saved me. But in those tough situations where I am in danger, I have a hard time believing that I’ll be OK. When we were spinning out of control, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but God led the car to where he did. When we were sitting in the upside down car (and I was freaking out) he led the right people there to help us out. He prevented the car from damage and us from injury.

It is easy for me to preach about the goodness and sovereignty of God, but hard for me to live it out. When bad stuff happens, it is hard to believe that everything will be OK and just trust in God. Friday, Emmalie and I made it out of an accident with our lives intact. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did, only because God wanted it that way. Solo Deo Gloria.

Mercy and Generosity

By now, it should be painfully obvious that we should have an attitude of generosity with everything that we consider to be ours. Looking again at the unmerciful servant, we can see that whatever was his actually belonged to his master. For instance, when he loaned out the $80,000 to his fellow servant, it was his master’s money. This also should be reflective of our lives and others, but what does it look like?

Prayer

True prayer being spoken on behalf of others in need is great indeed. The problem is, some Christians leave their “help” at the prayer. If you pray for someone, help them out of the situation they are in. Let them see that God is holy and just and that he cares for their spiritual and physical needs. Then, you can help out even more.

Money and other stuff

It’s obvious that the unmerciful servant was not generous with “his” money. But it wasn’t his, it belonged to the master. In the same way, our money and possessions are “on loan” from our Father in heaven. Put more clearly, we are stewards of what God has given us, and we must use it for his purposes. These would include letting someone use your car even though he might not put gas in it and could possibly get into an accident; giving money faithfully to the Church that you belong to so that she can continue in her mission for God; donating food to a family in need this Christmas; not spending frivolously on things that will fade away, but actually investing in what is eternal.

Time

Many people would say that they don’t have money or possessions to give others. Why not give away time instead? There are people who are weak and weary in their faith who need help. Take them out for a coffee or dinner and get to know them and their struggles. Pray with them and speak the Gospel into their lives. We need to be generous with our time so that our friends and family can benefit from the community that we are a part of. Invest in people who others wouldn’t invest in. That is being generous with your time as you wont be repaid for it.

It is easy to be generous when you know your Father will take care of you.

Mercy and Forgiveness

In looking through Matthew 18 and the Unmerciful Servant, it’s important to realize that the servants are almost the same. Both are charged with a debt to pay, both plea for mercy, and both the master and the unmerciful servant have a choice to make. They can forgive the debt or make the other pay.

Math

What often gets lost in this passage is the amount that each servant owed. It says the one owed ten thousand talents and the other owed a hundred denarii. Most Bibles will tell you that one talent was worth about 20 years wages for a laborer and one denarius was worth about a day’s wage. In our day this means,

  • The unmerciful servant owed (ready for this?): $8,000,000,000 (eight billion dollars) to the master
  • The second servant owed: $80,000 (eighty thousand dollars) to the first servant.

All have sinned

How could the first guy, after being graciously relieved of such a great debt, not forgive the debt of the man who owed .001% of what he owed the master? Jesus asks the same of us: how can you not forgive your brother when I have forgiven you?

We all are sinners that have defaced the glory of a holy God. I think we as believers forget that. We have our slogan, “I’m not perfect, I’m forgiven”, but we don’t live as though we are. Forgiven people live differently than the world, and according to this parable, they forgive others.

But how?

How can we possibly forgive people who have hurt, betrayed and sinned against us? Look at the passage again.

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants…

If they were fellow servants, who did the second guy belong to? To the same master that forgave the first guy. So it is also possible that the 100 denarii that was owed was actually owed to the master anyway, it was forgiven with the other money that the first guy owed. The master had forgiven it by virtue of forgiving the eight billion, it was now in the first servant’s power and ability to forgive.

So…

It is in our power and ability to forgive people because a great and mighty savior forgave us when we trespassed against a holy God. The sins that others commit against us are nothing compared to the fact that we are sinners, indeed, they are actually sins against God and not just us (much like David’s sin against Bathsheeba being against God and God alone- 2 Samuel 11,12; esp. 12.13).

Forgiveness is something granted to us that we must learn from our savior in order to be the Church we must be.

Books of November

This month… TWO!

But they have been great!

First is Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan. Only read this book if you plan on doing something with it. Chan does not leave you with the option of floating by in you life as a Christian. We are in or out, hot or cold… there is a reason Jesus said he would spit out the lukewarm. This is Chan’s argument. Great theology, wonderful teaching, amazing application. It’s almost Christmas… buy this for everyone (and be sure to read it yourself).

Then I read a commentary (that I have been reading for the past few months and finally finished) on the book of James (Reformed Expository Commentary). This has been great as far as looking into the intent of the difficult passages in this book including the section on faith and deeds. I think Doriani did a great job of explaining what James meant and I look forward to more commentaries in this series. (my pastor, Josh Cousineau, used a similar Commentary for the Galatians series).

One month to go all! Thanks for hanging on!

All I have is Christ

As I was writing yesterday’s blog, I had my music playing and was brought to tears with one called All I have is Christ by Jordan Kauflin (Bob’s son). I want everyone to listen to it and buy it (here). (of course, were you to want the whole CD, you could go here)

It is a great thing to be redeemed, read through this and thank Jesus for his coming for us:

All I have is Christ by Jordan Kauflin

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

 

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Advent: Promises

Today marks the first day of Advent, the four-week waiting period that leads up to Christmas. As I came home from Atmosphere I noticed the Advent Star hanging in my window and remembered Jesus. I stood there and looked at the star and thought about how great it was to have the hope of Christ.

Time to Remember

Take time to remember why Christ came. Many times in the Old Testament, we see that God’s people are awaiting a savior, a great king who would come to come and save them. The kings of old had failed them. They had been cast into exile time and time again. They needed help. But God had greater things in store for them.

Faith in the promise

Many are familiar with the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. This chapter speaks of the many saints that came before the Church and how they looked forward to Christ and His work to bring them joy (see Heb. 11.26). But they were waiting for what they didn’t know. The author continues, “all these (the saints of old), though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11.39-40). That something is the fulfillment of all the promises; the kingdom of God reigning forever; Jesus being crowned as king. God has not allowed that to happen until His timing has been fulfilled.

In the meantime

Christ has done much for us, to name a few:

For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5.21)

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3.23-26)

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoptions as sons. (Gal. 4.4-5)

God has done great things and He is into fulfilling promises. This Advent and Christmas season, look past religious tradition and gaze at the cross. Find peace, joy, hope, and life in Christ.

[photo by professor megan]