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Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 31-To Him Be The Glory

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 31-To Him Be The Glory

“To the praise of the glory of His grace…to the praise of His glory…to the praise of His glory.”159 These refrains fly as banners over the gospel truths parading through the early verses of Ephesians. They herald the ultimate motive of God in all His gospel acts on behalf of those whom He has saved. They also announce the effect which the gospel will most certainly wield upon those who experience its fullness. It is no surprise, then, that the apostle ends his gospel review in Ephesians 3 by bowing his knees in worship and ascribing all glory to God.160 “Unto Him be the glory,” Paul exclaims at the end of Ephesians 3. “To…Him be the glory,” he cries after his gospel meditations through Romans.161 “To the king…be glory,” he urges in 1 Timothy after speaking of God’s merciful saving of him.162 Clearly, the gospel generated in Paul an enormous passion for God’s glory, and the gospel does the same in me as I make as I make it the meditation of my heart each day.

Understanding that I am not the ultimate end of the gospel, but rather that God’s glory is, actually enables me to embrace my salvation more boldly than I would otherwise dare to do. For example, when my timid heart questions why God would want to love one so sinful as I, I read the answer, “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” I figure, then, that my unworthiness must actually be useful to God, because it magnifies the degree to which His grace might be glorified as He lavishes His saving kindness upon me. This line of reasoning makes perfect sense to me and convinces me to embrace the gospel with greater passion so that God might glorify Himself through me, an unworthy sinner.

Indeed, the more I embrace and experience the gospel, the more I delight in the worship of God, the more expressive my joy in Him becomes, and the more I yearn to glorify Him in all I say and do.163

159-Ephesians 1. “(5) He predestined us to adoption as sons…(6) to the praise of the glory of His grace…(10)…In Him (11) also we have obtained an inheritance…(12) to the end that we…would be to the praise of His glory. (13) In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit…, (14) who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

160-Ephesians 3. “(14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…(20) Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (21) to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

161-Romans 11. “(33) Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable are His ways! (34) For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? (35) Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? (36) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

162-1 Timothy 1. “(15)…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am the foremost of all. (16) Yet for this reason i found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (17) Now to the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

163-1 Peter 1. “(6) In this [salvation] you greatly rejoice…(8)…you greatly rejoice with a joy inexpressible and full of glory, (9) obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 30-My Manifesto

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 30-My Manifesto

Boldness is critical. Without boldness, my life story will be one of great deeds left undone, victories left unwon, petitions left unprayed, and timely words left unsaid. If I wish to live only a pathetically small portion of the life God has prepared for me, then I need no boldness. But if I want my life to bloom full and loom large for the glory of God, then I must have boldness-and nothing so nourishes boldness in me like the gospel!

The gospel gives me boldness first by banishing my greatest fear, the fear of God’s eternal wrath. Indeed, Christ bore God’s wrath upon Himself, not simply so I could escape that wrath on some future day, but also that I might be released from the daily fear of such wrath as I think ahead to judgment day. Because this fears hinders the ongoing work of God in me, the love of God continually expels this fear (whenever it appears) and nurtures within me a confident eagerness to face God on judgment day.151 Living in the daily relief of this frees me up to continue being perfected in confidence by the love of God, and it also serves to put all other fears, especially the fear of man, into perspective.152

Additionally, the more I experience the life-transforming power of the gospel, the more confident I am in speaking it to others, both saved and lost.153 I know what the gospel can do in people’s lives if they would believe the fullness of it, because I see what it is doing in me and in others. Therefore, I have increasing boldness to speak the whole gospel to others, 154 even amid opposition.155

Also, the more I comprehend what God has done for me through Christ, the more I find myself confidently coming before God in prayer,156 speaking to Him in situations in which I normally would have shrunk from Him, and offering requests that I normally would have been too timid to offer (due either to the largeness of the request or my own sinful unworthiness). With greater boldness in prayer comes an increased enjoyment of God and the bounty that He gives, due simply to the fact that I was daring enough to ask for what was needed.157

Preaching the gospel to myself each day nourishes within me a holy brazenness to believe what God says, enjoy what he offers, and do what He commands. Admittedly, I don’t deserve to be a child of God and I don’t deserve to be free of sin’s guilt and power. I don’t deserve the staggering privilege of intimacy with God, nor any other blessing that Christ has purchased for me with His blood. I don’t even deserve to be useful to God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and I have what I have, and I hereby resolve not to let any portion of God’s grace prove vain in me!158 And to the degree that I fail to live up to this resolve, I will boldly take for myself the forgiveness that God says is mine and continue walking in His grace. This is my manifesto, my daily resolve, and may God be glorified by this confidence that I place in Him.

151-1 John 4. “(17) By this love, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. (18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

152-Matthew 10:28. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

153-Romans 1. “(15) So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”1 Corinthians 1:18. “…to us who are being saved it [the word of the cross] is the power of God.”

154-Acts 20. “(26) Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. (27) For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”

155-Acts 4. “(29) And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence…(31) And when they had prayed…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

156-Hebrews 4:16. “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 10. “(19) Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, (20) by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh. (21) and since we have a great priest over the house of God, (22) let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…”

157-James 4:2. “…You do not have because you do not ask.”

158-1 Corinthians 15. “(9) For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (10) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”

 

 

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 29-The Ultimate Prize

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 29-The Ultimate Prize

In the New Testament, the gospel is several times referred to as “the gospel of God.”142 Such an expression should be understood in the fullest sense possible. The gospel is called “the gospel of God,” not simply because it is from God, nor merely because it is accomplished through God, but also because ultimately it leads me to God, who is Himself its greatest prize. Indeed, what makes the gospel such great news is God, who brings me to Himself 143 and then gives Himself so freely to me through Jesus Christ.144

The essence of eternal life is not found in having my sins forgiven, in possessing a mansion in heaven, or in having streets of gold on which to walk forever. Rather, the essence of eternal life is intimately knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.145 Everything else that God gives to me in the gospel serves merely to bring me to Himself so that this great end might be achieved. Christ died for the forgiveness of my sins so that I might be brought “to God.”146 Christ is preparing a place for me in heaven so that He might receive me “to [Him]self” and have me forever with Him where He is.147 And yes, there is a street of gold in heaven, but is there any doubt where the street leads? Unquestionably, it leads straight to the throne of God Himself,148 as do all of God’s gifts to me in the gospel.

As I meditate on the gospel each day, I find my thoughts inevitably traveling from the gifts I’ve received to the Giver of those gifts; and the more my thoughts are directed to Him, the more I experience the essence of eternal life. The “gospel of God” is from God, comes through God, and leads me to God;149 and it is in him that my soul finds its truest joy and rest.150

142-Romans 1:1; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 8, 9; 1 Peter 4:17.

143-Ephesians 1. “(4)…He chose us in Him…that we should be before Him…(5) He predestined us to adoption as sons…to Himself…”

144-Romans 5:5. “…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” John 14:21. “…he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

145-John 17:3. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

146-1 Peter 3:18. “For Christ also died for sins once for all…so that He might bring us to God…”

147-John 14. “(2) In My Father’s house are many dwelling places…I go to prepare a place for you. (3) If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, and there I am, there you may be also.”

148-Revelation. “(21:21)…And the street of the city was pure gold…(22:1) Then he showed me a river of the water of life…coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, (2) in the middle of its street…”

149-Romans 11:36. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

150-Psalm 16:11. “…in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 73. “(25)…besides You, I desire nothing on earth. (26)…God is…my portion forever…(28)…the nearness of God is my good…”

 

 

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 28-Thankfulness Enriched By Relief

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily

Day 28-Thankfulness Enriched By Relief

The more absorbed I am in the gospel, the more grateful I become in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be.

Viewing life’s blessings as water in a drinking cup, I know that I could discontentedly focus on the half of the cup that seems empty, or I could gratefully focus on the half that is full. Certainly the latter approach is the better of the two, yet the gospel cultivates with me a richer gratitude than this.

The gospel reminds me first that what I actually deserve from God is a full cup churning with the torments of His wrath.136 This is the cup that would be mine to drink if I were given what I deserve each day. With this understanding in mind, I see that to be handed a completely empty cup from God would be cause enough for infinite gratitude. If there were merely the tiniest drop of blessing contained in that otherwise empty cup, I should be blown away by the unbelievable kindness of God toward me. That God, in fact, has given me a cup 137 that is full of “every spiritual blessing in Christ,” 138 and this without the slightest admixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.

When I look at any circumstances that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in that moment (The empty part of the cup never looked so good!) Second, I am grateful for the blessings that are given to me instead of His wrath. (Life’s blessings, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve.) This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all things 139 and it also lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks. Such a gospel-generated gratitude glorifies God, contributes to peace of mind, 140 and keeps my foot from the path of foolishness and ruin.141

136-Revelation 14:10. “he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of his anger,” Psalm 75:8. “For a cup is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams; it is well mixed, and He pours out of this; surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.”

137-Psalm 116. “(12) What shall I render the the Lord for all his benefits toward me? (13) I shall life the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 23:5. “…My cup overflows.”

138-1 Thessalonians 5:18. “In everything give thanks, fort this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

140-Philippians 4. “(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

141-Romans 1. “(21) For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing to be wise, they became fools…(28) And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, (29) being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice…”

The Ecclesiastes Moment In The Movie “Boyhood”

movie boyhood
As soon as I saw the trailer for the movie “Boyhood” I wanted to watch it. I am a highly nostalgic person and look back on the days of my youth with a mixture of wonder and regret. If you want to know why the movie is Rated R you can take a look at Christianity Today’s review of the film. I enjoyed the movie but as a father with three young kids I fully realize that this film is not age-appropriate for them.

The movie, as far as I can tell, is one-of-a-kind in the sense that it is filmed over the course of 12 years. It is amazing to watch everyone in the movie grow old right before your eyes.
movie boyhood 1

If you are looking for explosions, car chase scenes, and lots of action you will be incredibly disappointed. The plot is very simply the day-to-day happenings of one family. The simplicity, to me, is the beauty of the film. When you think about it, each one of us has a pretty amazing story played out through everyday life. The film’s star and primary character is Mason played by Ellar Coltrane. The father is played by Ethan Hawke (Mason Sr), the mother (Olivia) by Patricia Arquette.

Throughout the movie you get to watch the highs and lows of Mason’s family. Mason’s mother has an uncanny knack for marrying men with anger issues and serious drinking problems. This leads Mason’s family to continually pack up, move on and keep looking for a better life. One of the things I keenly sensed in the movie is a restlessness. All of the characters seemed to be looking for fulfillment, meaning, a place where they belong. Because of the fact that Mason is such a free-spirited boy at one point in the movie one of his teachers asks him, “What do you want to be Mason? What do you want to do?” Important questions for all of us.

The Ecclesiastes Moment is towards the very end of the movie. Mason is about to head off to college and Olivia completely breaks down, cries, and makes the haunting statement (paraphrased), “I just thought there would be more to life.” Olivia has been through two terrible marriages, worked hard to get back on her feet, earned her Master’s degree and becomes a fairly successful college professor. Yet, as she sees her son head off to college she is left with a nagging feeling that there should be more to life. Life has happened and it was not what she had dreamed it would be. Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, worked harder than most people at finding fulfillment in knowledge, pleasure, wealth and at the end of it all he wrote this…

And what ever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure…Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:10, 11

I think it is fair to say that we all have a deep restlessness and we are longing to find purpose and fulfillment from the stories of our lives. Even as followers of Jesus Christ we can fall into the trap of thinking that we can find happiness in the stuff of this world.

The tragedy is that the ache we all live with can lead us to destroy ourselves as we recklessly pursue the next buzz that we hope will keep us going. Could it be that this ache is a good thing? Perhaps we should acknowledge this craving in our soul for what it truly is, a sacred gift* that has been given to us to point us towards the only one who can truly satisfy us. We find the only source of true fulfillment towards the end of Ecclesiastes…

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth… Ecclesiastes 12:1


*Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. -CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 27-Mortifying The Flesh With Fullness

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 27-Mortifying The Flesh With Fullness

Though saved, I am daily beset by a sinful flesh 127 that always craves those things that are contrary to the Spirit.128 These fleshly lusts are vicious enemies, constantly waging war against the good of my soul.129 Yet they promise me fullness, and their promises are so deliciously sweet that I often find myself giving into them as if they were friends that have my best interests at heart.

On the most basic of levels, I desire fullness and fleshly lusts seduce me by attaching themselves to this basic desire. They exploit the empty spaces in me, and they promise that fullness will be mine if I give into their demands. When my soul sits empty and is aching for something to fill it, such deceptive promises are extremely difficult to resist.

Consequently, the key to mortifying fleshly lusts is to eliminate the emptiness within me and replace it with fullness; and I accomplish this by feasting on the gospel. Indeed, it is in the gospel that I experience a God who glorifies Himself by filling me with Himself. He is the One, Paul says, “who fills all in all.”130 He is the One who “fill[s] all things”with the gifts He gives.131 and He lavishes gospel blessings upon me with the goal that I “be filled up to all the fullness of God.”132 This is the God of the gospel, a God who is satisfied with nothing less than my experience of fullness in Him! The first command God spoke in the Garden was, “eat freely.”133 And with similar insistence He says to me now, “be filled.”134

What happens to my appetites for sin when I am filled with the fullness of God in Christ? Jesus provides this answer: “He who continually comes to Me will never hunger or thirst again.”135 Indeed, as I perpetually feast on Christ and all of His blessings found in the gospel, I find that my hunger for sin diminishes and the lies of lust simply lose their appeal. Hence, to the degree that I am full, I am free. Eyes do not rove, nor do fleshly lusts rule, when the heart is fat with the love of Jesus

Preaching the gospel to myself each day keeps before me the startling advocacy of God for my fullness, and it also serves as a means by which I feast anew on the fullness of provision that God has given to me in Christ. “Eat[ing] freely” of such provision keeps me occupied with God’s blessings and also leaves me with a profoundly enjoyable sense of satisfaction in Jesus. And nothing so mortifies fleshly lusts like satisfaction in Him.

127-Galatians 5. “(19) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…”

128-Galatians 5:17. “For the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another…”

129-1 Peter 2:11. “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against your soul.”

130-Ephesians 1. “(22)…the church, (23) which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

131-Ephesians 4. “(7) But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (8) Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’…(10)…that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

132-Ephesians 3. “(14) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…(16) that he would grant you, according to the riches of His glory…(19)…that you may be filled up with all the fullness of God.”

133-Genesis 2:16. “The Lord commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;”

134-Ephesians 5:18. “…be being filled [present tense] by the Spirit.”

135-John 6:35. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who is coming [present tense] to Me will not hunger, and he who is believing [present tense] in Me will never thirst'” [literal translation]

 

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 26-The Hope Of Heaven

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 26-The Hope Of Heaven

The more I experience the riches of Christ in the gospel, the more there develops within me a yearning to be with Christ in heaven where I will experience His grace in unhindered fullness.118 The reason for this yearning is simple: however great may be the present blessings of salvation, they are but the “first fruits of the Spirit,” the first installments of an unimaginably great harvest of glory which I will reap forever in heaven.119

The Apostle Paul could not rehearse gospel blessings in Romans 5-8 without being reminded of his anxious longing for the future glories awaiting believers in heaven.120 Likewise, The Apostle John could not speak of his and his readers’ status as children of God without also relishing the beautification they will experience at the revelation of Jesus Christ.121 Neither will I be able to think long upon gospel blessings without thinking also of the infinite glories which will be mine to enjoy in heaven.

Such a gospel-generated heavenward focus yields enormous benefits to me while on earth. The more hope of seeing Christ in glory releases the purifying influence of heaven upon my life from day to day.122 Also, knowing of the future love that God will show me in glory enables me to love my fellow-saints with a heaven inspired love even now.123 I love others out of the greater fullness that will be given me in glory!

Hope of eternity with Christ in heaven also enables my heart to thrive during the most difficult and lengthy trials here on earth. When looking at the sheer weight of unseen glories to come, my troubles seem light by comparison; and when looking at the staggering length of eternity, my troubles seem fleeting by comparison.124 It is only against the backdrop of a glorious eternity that my circumstances can be seen in such a manner; and the promise of this glorious eternity is part and parcel of the gospel itself.125

Preaching the gospel to myself everyday is a great way to keep myself established in “the hope of the gospel,”126 so that I might experience the practical benefits that such hope is intended to bring here on earth.

118-Philippians 1:23. “But I…[have] the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better,” 1 Peter 1:13. “…fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Christ Jesus.”

119-Romans 8:23. “…we ourselves, having the first fruit of the Spirit…”

120-Romans 8. “(18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (19) for the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God…(23)…we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”

121-1 John 3 “(1) See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God, and such we are…(2) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

122-1 John 3:3. “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

123-Colossians 1. “(4)…we heard of…the love which you have for all the saints; (5) because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel…”

124-2 Corinthians 4. “(16) Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (17) For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, (18) while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

125-Colossians 1:5. “…the hope laid up for you in heaven of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel…”

126-Colossians 1:23. “…continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel…”

 

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