Jesus said, “Unless…”.

God's Words

Childlikeness towards God, said Jesus – meaning simple trust, responsiveness, and dependence – is the spirit in which alone we enter the divine kingdom and live its life (Matthew 18:3 f.)” So says Dr. J. I. Packer commenting on the similarities between our physical life as newborns, and our spiritual life when we, by Grace, through faith, are born again. This final brief post on the theme signs of Life also comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

Dr Packer writes: “Third, the baby moves, turning its head, flexing its limbs, later on rolling, crawling, tottering, toddling, exploring; and similarly the born-again person moves in the spiritual realm into which he has now come, sorting out priorities, reshaping his life in the light of his new allegiance, exploring Christian relationships and ways of worship, using enterprise for the Lord in many kinds of work and witness. Constantly to be ‘zealous for good deeds’ (Titus 2:14) and to be wanting and trying to do more and more for God’s kingdom is thus a third sign of being regenerate.

“Fourth, the baby rests, relaxing completely and sleeping soundly in adult arms and wherever else feels firm; and in the same way the born-again person rests in the knowledge that God’s everlasting arms are underneath him (Deuteronomy 33:27) ‘I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast’ (Psalm 131:2). Constantly to rest in quiet contentment, concerned only to be faithful in obedience and leaving it to God to overrule the outcome, is thus a fourth sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

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Clouds? Of course!

 

Utmost

Farmers have a truer view of clouds than any city kid like me. They see the potential for fruit in a cloud; they see the life in a cloud, where I tend to see unwanted interruptions to my life. What if I am just as mistaken about other things? This second brief post on the theme of sorrow also comes from Oswald Chambers…

 

“Behold, He cometh with clouds.” Rev. 1:7 KJV

Oswald Chambers writes… In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God. It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. ‘The clouds are but the dust of our Father’s feet’. The clouds are a sign that He is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near without clouds, He does not come in clear shining….

There is a connection between the strange providences of God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know Him.”

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

 

 

 

What? Me (not) worry?

John Piper

I worried less when I was a child. Partly, my bliss was due to my ignorance; mostly it was due to my parents. Jesus, knowing my tendency to worry more now, says to me, “Rob… Do not be anxious, saying, “What shall (I) eat?” or “What shall (I) drink?” or “What shall (I) wear?” For… your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”  Matthew 6:31-32.
This third brief post on the theme of worry comes from John Piper…

John Piper writes….

“Jesus wants his followers to be free from worry. In Matthew 6:25-34, he gives at least seven arguments designed to take away our anxiety. One of them lists food and drink and clothing, and then says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” Matthew 6:32. Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than an earthly father. I have five children. I love to meet their needs. But my knowing falls short of God’s in at least three ways…

“First, right now I don’t know where any of them is. I could guess. They’re in their homes or at work or school, healthy and safe. But they might be lying on a sidewalk with a heart attack.

“Second, I don’t know what is in their heart at any given moment. I can guess from time to time. But they may be feeling some fear or hurt or anger or lust or greed or joy or hope. I can’t see their hearts.

“Third, I don’t know their future. Right now they may seem well and steady. But tomorrow some great sorrow may befall them.

“This means I can’t be for them a very strong reason for not worrying. There are things that may be happening to them now or may happen tomorrow that I do not even know about. But it is totally different with their Father in heaven. He knows everything about them now and tomorrow, inside and out. He sees every need.

“Add to that, his huge eagerness to meet their needs (the “much more” of Matthew 6:30).

“Add to that his complete ability to do what he is eager to do (he feeds billions of birds hourly, Matthew 6:26).

“So join me in trusting the promise of Jesus to meet our needs. That’s what Jesus is calling for when he says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.””

This devotional is written by John Piper. For more information about Piper’s ministry, writing, and books, visit DesiringGod.org.

Jesus, and the frosty sunrise?

Lewis Letters

Alright, yes, I am a worrier; a Christian who worries; but, honestly, at least that worries me too.   I was surprised that anyone might think there could be genuine merit in worrying, and even choose to make worry a part of their approach to life on a daily basis. C.S.Lewis, when he was met by the living Jesus, was surprised by the genuine joy that Jesus brought into his life; a joy that remained, even in sorrow. No wonder Lewis encouraged others also to forsake worry for joy, even in the worst of times. This first of three brief posts on the theme of worry comes from C.S.Lewis…

 

C S Lewis wrote… “A great many people (not you) do now seem to think that the mere state of being worried is in itself meritorious. I don’t think it is. We must, if it so happens, give our lives for others: but even while we’re doing it, I think we’re meant to enjoy Our Lord and, in Him, our friends, our food, our sleep, our jokes, and the birds’ song and the frosty sunrise.”

From The Collected Letters of C.S.Lewis, Volume II

Smelling invisible roses?

Lewis Letters


Patience in a string of interminable disasters may seem impossible. Patience in the flow of ordinary things may seem too boring for words, especially when we have dreams of the extra-ordinary. This third brief post on the theme of patience comes from C.S.Lewis.

‘For him who is haunted by the smell of invisible roses the cure is work’ (MacDonald). If we feel we have talents that don’t find expression in our ordinary duties and recreations, I think we must just go on doing the ordinary things as well as we can. If God wants to use these suspected talents, He will: in His own time and way. At all costs one must keep clear of all the witchdoctors and their patent cures—as you say yourself.’

From The Collected Letters of C.S.Lewis, Volume III. 
(To Edward Lofstrom: on the need to do one’s duty while having patience with God.)
16 January 1959

Patient faithfully?

Utmost
I imagine there are varieties of patience but not all of them are Godly. I imagine it’s possible, humanly speaking, to be patient cruelly, or greedily, or angrily. Godly patience is best revealed in Christ, ‘who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross’. The cross required more than an afternoon’s patience. This second brief post on the theme of  patience also comes from Oswald Chambers.

‘Because you have kept my word about patient endurance…’ Revelation 3:10 ESV

‘Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says-‘I cannot stand any more.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. For what have you need of patience just now? Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. “Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him.”

From Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest

Patient tenaciously?

Utmost
It’s the thing about a hero that they win in the end.
Having a trustworthy hero can change the way we
face the past, the present and the future if only we
are able to outwait the doubts about him that each
new peril we face creates in our minds and hearts.
This first of 3 brief posts on the theme of patience
comes from Oswald Chambers.

‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Psalm 46:10

‘Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered. The greatest fear a disciple has is not that he will be damned but that Jesus Christ will be worsted, that the things He stood for-love and justice and forgiveness and kindness among men-will not win out in the end; the things He stands for look like will-o’-the-wisps. Then comes the call to spiritual tenacity, not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted. If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God. Remain spiritually tenacious.’
‘Because you have kept my word about patient endurance…’ Revelation 3:10 ESV

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest