Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

Near the Cross

Posted: April 19, 2014 by philmartin4 in Book Recommendation, Book reviews, Gospel, Reading, Theology

“The whole value of the meditation of the suffering of Christ lies in this, that man should come to the knowledge of himself and sink and tremble.  If you are so hardened that you do not tremble, then you have reason to tremble.  Pray to God that he may soften your heart and make fruitful your meditation upon the suffering of Christ, for we of ourselves are incapable of proper reflection unless God instills it.” – Martin Luther, Adapted from his “Easter Book,” quoted from “Jesus, keep me near the Cross”


 

In the lead up to Easter, it is good to once again turn our gaze to the Cross and the empty tomb.  The whole event, however, has become so familiar that is easy to miss the richness, depth of beauty, and power of the cross.  I am thankful, therefore, for the small book edited by Nancy Guthrie.  “Jesus, Keep me near the Cross” is a collection of invaluable sermon and book excerpts written by 25 preachers from Saint Augustine to Tim Keller.  The short (max of 8 pages) messages each pack a powerful punch.  From the events leading to the Cross to the specific words Christ said while giving up his life, every aspect of this defining moment in history is dissected and preached piercingly right to the heart.

I am humbled to say that I’ve gone through many Easters since being a Christian without truly contemplating the Cross of Christ.  If there is any moment in our Savior’s life that we should seek to understand, it is this one moment.  I encourage you to buy this book and benefit from its boundless wisdom and insight.

 

Have you ever seen a video of someone working out and wish you could lift as much as they did? Have you ever watched a clip of someone playing an instrument and wishing that you had the ability to play that smoothly? I have. To be honest, I do that a lot. I watch videos of Navy Seals, boxers, Dave Matthews, vocalist on various shows and they all make me wish I was more like them. Sometimes I am encouraged to be disciplined in areas that I am strong in. Most of the time I end up seeing all the ways that I come up short, especially when it comes to being a Christian.

I have seen people who read their Bible with intensity. They spend hours and hours reading, meditating, memorizing, preaching, teaching, cross-referencing, praying, and so on. I know people who have done amazing things for God. Men who love their wives and children in ways I don’t. I have been on the receiving end of generosity, hospitality, and servanthood. These are all gifts. Gifts for which I am to be thankful and moved by.

The problem is that I do compare myself, as do others whom I have counseled, when other Christians seem to accomplish more for God than I. They sacrifice more nights, they give away more money, and they travel to nations that don’t know Jesus.

I have to remind myself, and others, that Jesus has not commissioned me to be a omni-compotent ambassador for His Name. He has sent me on a mission to make, mature, and mobilize disciples of all nations. He has gifted me, set me in a context, and provided for me a specific way of carrying out that commission. It will look different for every other person in my small group, my Bible study, and church. We are all sent to different work places, neighborhoods, and have burdens for different nations.

Some have the capability to give lavishly, while others give generously within their budget. Some go long-term, while others go for short-term; some can only give and pray. Some have the houses to host a lot of people. Others see the positive effects of building deep with a few.

If you, like me, struggle with the constant comparison…you might want to consider this- God has made you to be uniquely equipped to reach your co-workers, city, and build the church. You have different capacities. You have different burdens. You have ideas that work for you that wouldn’t work for anyone else. In the words of J.D Greear, “Do what you do well to the glory of God. Do what you do well strategically for the mission of God.”

Our salvation does not hinge on our works. Jesus has earned our standing before God based on His obedience to fulfill the perfect requirements of God.  The motivation to see others come to faith should not be motivated by a desire to perform works that make us acceptable to God. Instead, they should be motivated by the work of Jesus, who accepts us as we are, and empowered by the Spirit who sent us. Jesus saves us. Jesus sends us. Jesus sanctifies. Jesus solely gets the glory. Let’s rest in His finished work alone.

Jesus in my place

Posted: May 31, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Gospel
Tags: , ,

Sometimes, the best thing to do on a day when you are feeling the weight of guilt and shame is to remind yourself that Jesus lived a life that earns our righteousness, died a death that killed the power of sin in our lives, and rose again in victory securing our restoration.

When there are days that you feel proud and arrogant about success, accomplishments, and fruitfulness it is good to remind ourselves that there is nothing we have done that could gain God’s approval.

In Jesus, there is nothing we can do that would disqualify us from His love and there is nothing that we can do that would qualify us to receive more of God’s love. His love is unchanging and solidified in the person and work of Jesus.