The Gospel & Sanctification (Reading Notes)

“The gospel content is this: Christ saves sinners. The implications of the gospel include changed lives, lives lived in holiness unto God. The great news is that the gospel content powers what it implies! Grace is the power in which we stand and by which we are being saved (1 Cor. 15:1-2). Yes, we are to work out our own salvation, but the Spiritual reality is that it is God who is in us doing the work (Phil. 2:12-13). The gospel is not just power for regeneration; it is power for sanctification, and for glorification. It is eternal power; it is power enough for life that is eternal.” (Jared Wilson in Gospel Wakefulness)

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Good Works In The Christian Life (Reading Notes)

Worship is the glorifying of God, the making much of him, the magnifying of him so that he increases in coordination with our decrease.

Jesus tells his disciples that their good works should be lights shined on God (Matt. 5:16), meant to illuminate him for the benefit of those in the darkness, showing them the way out. The only way our good works will work this way – to repeat, the only way – is if our good works are acts of worship. This means our good works must be our response to the finished good work of Christ. If our good works are viewed as currency to exchange for the good work of Christ, they will be seen by the lost not as illuminating God’s goodness but illuminating ours.

Good works as worship are acts of thankfulness and joy. Good works as merit are acts of leverage and bribery. They do not magnify the God of free grace but make him appear like a loan officer. And God is not accepting applications for service; he is redeeming captives who then gratefully serve him of their own free(d) will. We invite the Spirit’s filling with our good works as we “sow to the Spirit” (Gal. 6:8), but we do not earn him with them. (Jared Wilson in Gospel Wakefulness)

How Should We Pray?

prayerHave you every wondered how you should pray. I mean we know we need to pray but how should we pray? I think Jesus’ prayer in Mark 14:36 gives us a great example to consider:

And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Jesus uttered this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before his crucifixion. The stakes could not have been higher. In fact, Luke tells us that Jesus was sweating drops of blood as he prayed this prayer. The cross loomed large in his mind. He would soon bear the weight of sin. But, his prayer was simple.

1. He acknowledged that his Heavenly Father was all powerful.

2. He requested that the cup be removed.

3. He submitted to his Father’s will.

Eugene Peterson summed it up this way in the Message: “Papa, Father, you can – can’t you? – get me out of this. Take this cup away from me. But please, not what I want – what do you want?”

Jesus prayed in intimate relationship with his Heavenly Father. He acknowledged the Father’s power to do “all things.” The thing, in this moment, he requested was that the cup of suffering would be taken away. Yet, he finished his prayer asking his Father to fulfill his plan. William Lane, in his commentary on Mark, wrote that Jesus demonstrated “obedient surrender and unconditional faith” in this prayer.

Are we willing to pray like this?

Do we really believe that God can do all things? Will we lay out our requests before him believing he wants to hear from us? Are we willing to submit to his plan?

The focus of prayer is not to get something we want from God. Prayer is primarily about spiritual formation. We pray in faith believing God can do all things. We pray transparently knowing God wants to hear our cares and concerns. We pray submitting to what God wants. Praying like this forms us and makes us useful in the hands of a good and sovereign Heavenly Father.

The Gospel Is The Key (Reading Notes)

“The gospel must be central to our Christian lives; it is not the ABC’s of spiritual growth, but the A to Z. The problem prior to gospel wakefulness is that we do not see how the gospel can sustain such energies, such longevity. We see it as an entry fee, an insurance certificate. But the gospel is daily bread. It is robust and resilient enough to sustain not just for all of life, but for all eternity. The gospel is the antidote for the human predicament, for all of humanity itself.” (Jared Wilson in Gospel Wakefulness)

From The Garden Of Eden To The Garden of Gethsemane (Reading Notes)

“While Jesus did not hesitate to speak openly of his betrayal, the reference to the betrayal and death of the Son of Man served to direct attention to the utter seriousness of the offense. Jesus’ apparent defenseless and humiliation in Gethsemane veiled his true dignity. Only after the resurrection did the significance of the transaction concluded there become clear. Just as rebellion in a garden brought Death’s reign over man (Gen. 3:1-19), submission in Gethsemane reversed that pattern of rebellion and sets in motion a sequence of events which defeated Death itself (Heb. 5:7-10).” (William Lane, The Gospel of Mark in The New International Commentary of the New Testament)

Get The Junk Out Of Your Life!

Room-full-of-clutter

I am beyond ready for this cold wintery weather to move out and spring to arrive! I’m ready to see the flowers bloom and spend time outside enjoying God’s beautiful creation as it comes alive again. Spring is my favorite time of year.

But, there is one thing about spring that I hate… spring-cleaning! That sigh you just let out tells me you hate it as much as I do. Isn’t it amazing how much junk can accumulate in our closets and garages from one year to the next. I will be perfectly honest, I think my junk has babies right around Christmas every year!

Our closets and garages are not the only things that accumulate junk. Often our lives become overloaded as well. We may be doing good things but there is no way possible to continue doing all that we are doing without burning out. Spring offers us a great opportunity to take inventory in our own lives and do some cleaning.

As we head into spring I want to encourage you to do these three things:

  1. Ask God to show you what needs to be “cleaned out” in your life. What priorities have gotten out of line over the last year? What can you let go of that will help you and your family grow closer to the Lord?
  1. Ask God to give you the strength to say “no.” It is not enough to clean things out if you put other things back in their place. Are you willing to say no to good things so that you can say yes to God’s best?
  1. Ask God to help you be content. I often find it hard to be content unless I am busy. I think is one of the greatest struggles in the American church today. Will you be still long enough to hear from the Lord? Will you be content just sitting in his presence?

I don’t know about you but I know that I need to do some spring-cleaning, both at my home and in my heart. Will you join me?