Monthly Archives: November 2008

older posts about weakness

For those of you desirous of reading meditations on Scripture about weakness… consult older posts as the thoughts and book-reveiws used to be recorded DAILY!

genuine love… is there any other kind?

Just how weak are we?

This post is not a reflection on any personal or church experience – let that be noted. 

I have spent the last 2 mornings reading and meditating on Romans 12-14.  Last week, I attended a preaching workshop at Westminster Seminary and heard Bryan Chappell speak on Christ-centered preaching.  Among many things, he was emphatic on how the gospel must be the motivation for all holy living (from his book, Holiness By Grace).  Good stuff.  Romans 12:1-2 was a case in point.  The text says, in view of Christ’s mercy (because of your receiving it), present your bodies as a living sacrifice…  And yet, he unfortunately revealed how we often live our lives – or worse, preach from the pulpit – as if the text said, if you desire to receive Christ’s mercy, present your bodies as a living sacrifice.  May it never be said or implied so!!!  The entirety of the Christian life of sacrifice is in response to the perfect sacrifice of Christ’s life/death already having been received with pleasure by the Father on our account! 

So it sent me reading and reflecting on the latter chapters of Romans.  And once again, staring me in the face was the reality of the weakness over which Christ’s grace and mercy have covered – in my life and the lives of believers I know.  The text of Romans 12 moves past v.1-2, in my opinion, to show us that we are so weak that only Christ’s sacrifice unto death could free us to try to live as living sacrifices for the glory of God.  And its still not easy! Consider Romans 12:3 – for by the grace given me I say to everyone not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.  OK, we’ve heard that before – but Paul references grace again because Christ has laid down the perfect sacrifice for his prideful self, such that he can now seek to be a living sacrifice by soberly judging who he really is – weak and prideful and redeemed. 

Then in 12:9 – Let love be genuine.  Wait.  I must be reading too fast.  Let    love   be   genuine.   I have never noticed such an odd sentence!  Why does it even need to be written?  Is there any other kind of love than that which is genuine?  Woah.  Apparently this is but a glimpse into the difficulty of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice!  Our tendency in life is not to love.  When we love, we must be reminded by command to make it genuine!  What a weak people we are!  Thinking too highly of ourselves.  Loving, but not really.  How could we ever live as if our “living sacrifice” could perfectly please God and so move him to show us mercy!  We can’t.  Not genuinely at least.

Thanks be to God that our loving and living and sacrificing is in view of Christ’s already perfectly given mercy to cover an ungenuine lover like me!

O God, do the mighty work of transformation in your church that we might become genuine sacrificers of self in love toward You and others – and may we find it to be the most beautiful and freeing motivation to look upon the mercy and genuine eternal love with which you have ALREADY PERFECTLY moved toward us!  Amen.

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the most important day for Christians this week

On Sunday, prior to the prayer time at the worship service of West Valley PCA, I made the comment that I believe that Wednesday, not Tuesday is the most important day for gospel-centered Christians during an election week.  The day is upon us.  Has our hope, joy, confidence, graciousness, otherness changed?

O God, may your church be the salt and light of the gospel in how we speak, in how we depend on you alone as the King above all nations…  May your church speak graciously into one another’s lives, in our workplaces.  May we listen and love.  May we pray and share peace.  May we encourage and not slander. 

For your church, may the salvation of society and culture not be found in the election of a human leader and government.  Equally so, for your church, may discouragement not reign due to the election of a human leader and government!  Neither/nor.  O God, thank you that you have already revealed the hope of the  nations, the gospel of salvation – YOU ALONE CHANGE HEARTS and you have begun the advancement of the kingdom of full justice and mercy and truth among weak individuals, societies, cultures!

Today, may your church be prayerful for its elected leaders (Romans 13) – whom YOU have put in your place of leadership for your purposes!  May your church be the aroma of grace in how we show our true hope of Christ and his reign in our hearts above all things!  May we listen and learn and consider the interests of others (Philippians 2) that we might truly love, truly engage, and truly contextualize the hope of the world for people irregardless of their political hopes/fears.  Me what we believe MOST in – your gospel – be revealed today by our speech and conduct.  

May we not be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe and for the transformation of all things!  All things.  The only power. 

No matter what we hoped for yesterday – from left to right, from the cities to the farms, from North to South… this Wednesday, we still love our worldwide, eternal, timeless, unchanging Government.  Our King of kings and lord of Lords.  Come Lord Jesus Come!  Amen.

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