The Gospel


By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
The Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. III:3

Those of mankind who are predestined unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.
The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, III:5

Jonathan Edwards

The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husband, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reality Of Personal Suffering

I will be reading the Book of Job the next few weeks. One lesson I learned from Job in my previous devotion was-- Human Suffering. The Reality of Personal suffering plays out in my own life and many of my friends. I am going through a personal study by Paul Tripp and David Powlison "Changing Hearts Changing Lives". It is a great study. I am looking forward to it. There are 5 things I have learned so far about the reality of suffering.

1. God Is Sovereign: This is not an easy doctrine to hold on to when one is going through a major crisis or any kind of suffering. One might tend to ask where is God or is God punishing me? But the Bible tells a different story. The Bible tells us that God holds everything together in perfect harmony.

1 Samuel 2:2-7
2 “There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.3 Talk no more so very proudly,let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.4 The bows of the mighty are broken,but the feeble bind on strength.5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.The barren has borne seven,but she who has many children is forlorn.6 The Lord kills and brings to life;he brings down to Sheol and raises up.7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;he brings low and he exalts.
Daniel 4:34-35
Nebuchadnezzar Restored
34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,and he does according to his will among the host of heavenand among the inhabitants of the earth;and none can stay his handor say to him, “What have you done?”
Proverbs 16:9
9 The heart of man plans his way,but the Lord establishes his steps.
Isaiah 45:7
7 I form light and create darkness,I make well-being and create calamity,I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Amos 3:6
6 Is a trumpet blown in a city,and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city,unless the Lord has done it?

Acts 4:27-28
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Ephesians 1:11
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

2. God Is Good: In the midst of suffering, I know God is still good because He has always sustained me and has never left me. His Words are my strength and assurance. I hold on to His promises. His ways are not my ways so by faith I study and meditate on His Word.

Psalm 25:7-8
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me,for the sake of your goodness, O Lord! 8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.

Psalm 34:8-10
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Psalm 33:5
5 He loves righteousness and justice;the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 100:5
5 For the Lord is good;his steadfast love endures forever,and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 136
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,for his steadfast love endures forever.2 Give thanks to the God of gods,for his steadfast love endures forever.3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,for his steadfast love endures forever; 4 to him who alone does great wonders,for his steadfast love endures forever;5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,for his steadfast love endures forever;6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,for his steadfast love endures forever;7 to him who made the great lights,for his steadfast love endures forever;8 the sun to rule over the day,for his steadfast love endures forever;9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,for his steadfast love endures forever; 10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,for his steadfast love endures forever;11 and brought Israel out from among them,for his steadfast love endures forever;12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,for his steadfast love endures forever;13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,for his steadfast love endures forever;14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,for his steadfast love endures forever;15 but overthrew [1] Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,for his steadfast love endures forever;16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,for his steadfast love endures forever; 17 to him who struck down great kings,for his steadfast love endures forever;18 and killed mighty kings,for his steadfast love endures forever;19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,for his steadfast love endures forever;20 and Og, king of Bashan,for his steadfast love endures forever;21 and gave their land as a heritage,for his steadfast love endures forever;22 a heritage to Israel his servant,for his steadfast love endures forever. 23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,for his steadfast love endures forever;24 and rescued us from our foes,for his steadfast love endures forever;25 he who gives food to all flesh,for his steadfast love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 145:4-9
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,and shall declare your mighty acts.5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,and I will declare your greatness.7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodnessand shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.9 The Lord is good to all,and his mercy is over all that he has made.

3. God Has A Purpose for Suffering: I dont always see the purpose for my suffering. If it is up to me, I am very sure that there is no reason why I had to suffered the things I did. Again, with a better understanding of God's Word, I understand the neccesity of suffering. So now, I am better equipped with a right attitude when I face trials and tribulations. That does not mean I like it. :) Here are some verses to think about.

Romans 8:17
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

2 Corinthians 1:3-6
God of All Comfort
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. [1] 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Philippians 2:5-9
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [2] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, [3] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

James 1:2-8
Testing of Your Faith
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, [4] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 5:10-11
10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Read entire 1 Peter

4. We suffer because we live in a fallen world.
We suffer because of our flesh.
We suffer because of God's purpose.
We suffer because others sin against us.

5. God's soveriegnty over suffering never:
-- means suffering is never real
-- excuses the evildoer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Together 4 Gospel 08

I cannot wait! 3 more weeks! 06 conference was an edifying and God glorifying event. It was encouraging and spiritually uplifting to be in the conference. Looking forward to it. For those of you who has not registered and would like to attend you can click here. You can download the 06 conference messages for free here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Via Dolorosa

This is a good article to remind us of what Easter is about.

Via Dolorosa --- Margaret Manning

His final hours were spent in prayer. Yet, the gospel of Luke tells us that there was nothing unusual about him being in prayer. “And he came out and proceeded as was his custom to the Mount of Olives...and when he arrived at the place...he withdrew from them...and knelt down and began to pray” (22:39-41). As was his custom, he would go to pray. We do not often hear the content of these prayer times, but in this case, in these final hours, we see him gripped with passion. Luke tells us that he was in such agony that his sweat “became like drops of blood” (22:44). Medical science tells us that under extreme conditions of duress, capillaries in the head burst forth drops of blood literally pouring out of the skin like perspiration. Whatever the case, Jesus had never been in this much distress before--even in his wilderness testing--we have no other portrait of such extreme anguish in prayer. “And being in agony he was praying very fervently,” writes Luke. I’ve often wondered about the nature of these agonized prayers. Was Jesus in agony over the physical torture and death he was about to endure? Was he in agony over the spiritual condition of his disciples, one who would betray him and the others who would all abandon him in his time of need? Certainly, the latter is a real possibility as he exhorts his disciples at least two times to “watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40; 46). Whatever the reason for his agony, Jesus’s humanity was on full display in his prayer. He did not want to walk the path that was unfolding before him, and he pleads with God to provide an alternative path, a “plan B” as it were. Matthew’s gospel reveals more of his struggle. He tells his disciples “I am deeply grieved, to the point of death” (26:38). Then he prays to his Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but your will be done” (Matthew 26:38-39). The via dolorosa, the way of suffering, unfolded before him and he would go to his death, despite his anguished prayers for another way. As I meditate on Jesus’s passionate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, his human agony and suffering on full display, I am reminded how often we followers of Jesus also long for God to provide another way in the face of our own suffering. We do not want to follow Jesus down the via dolorosa. We seek to follow the victorious entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem to be enthroned and crowned the king. We want that kind of victory borne out in our lives as the absence of difficulty. We want the glory and the grandeur of Palm Sunday as our entry into eternal life, with as little pain and suffering as possible. But as author Kim Reisman has noted, “That is not the Jesus way. God doesn’t dispense with death. God resurrects us from it. The truth is that the Jesus way isn’t about God taking pain away from God’s people; it’s about God providing us with strength, courage, and meaning, with abundant life, often in the midst of pain.”(1) I am always thankful then, for this very human portrait of Jesus’s own agonizing struggle with his own suffering. For I know he shares my own struggle. And while I often reluctantly say to God, “Not my will but yours be done,” I remember that God transforms the evil of suffering and affliction perpetrated against Jesus. God takes the very death of Jesus, and brings about resurrection. In my own prayers during this holiest of all weeks, I bow my head and my heart to the king who reigns not from a throne, but from the Cross. Margaret Manning is associate writer at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1)Kimberly Dunnam Reisman, Following At a Distance (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005), 75.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Words I Never Want To Hear!

Matthew 7:22-24
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

These are the words I never want to hear. How can you be sure to never hear these words from Jesus? Who was calling Jesus, "Lord, Lord"? In the Jewish tradition when a person name was used twice, it meant there was a deep level of intimacy between them. Can you imagine those who said "Lord Lord, I have done everything in Your name, I have preached Your Word, helped the poor, went to church every Sunday, never missed a Sunday School class, loved my family, how could You say You never knew me. I believe our churches today have many who thinks they know Christ but truth is they are far from Christ. (Mark 7:6 .... “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;)
In the book "What Jesus Demands From the World" -- John Piper listed 50 demands to live by. Here are the demands:

Demand #1: You Must Be Born Again Demand #2: Repent Demand #3: Come to Me Demand #4 Believe in Me Demand #5: Love Me Demand #6: Listen to Me Demand #7 Abide in Me Demand #8: Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me Demand #9 Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength Demand #10: Rejoice and Leap for Joy Demand #11 Fear Him Who Can Destroy Both Soul and Body in Hell Demand #12: Worship God in Spirit and Truth Demand #13: Always Pray and Do Not Lose Heart Demand #14: Do Not Be Anxious About the Necessities of Daily Life Demand #15: Do Not Be Anxious About the Threats of Man Demand #16: Humble Yourself by Making War on Pride Demand #17: Humble Yourself in Childlikeness, Servanthood,and Brokenhearted Boldness Demand #18: Do Not Be Angry—Trust God’s Providence Demand #19 Do Not Be Angry—Embrace Mercy and Forgiveness Demand #20 Do the Will of My Father Who Is in Heaven— Be Justified by Trusting Jesus Demand #21: Do the Will of My Father Who Is in Heaven— Be Transformed by Trusting Jesus Demand #22: Strive to Enter through the Narrow Door, for All of Life Is War Demand #23: Strive to Enter Through the Narrow Door, for Jesus Fulfills the New Covenant Demand #24: Strive to Enter through the Narrow Door, for You Are Already in the Kingdom’s Power Demand #25 Your Righteousness Must Exceed That of the Pharisees, for It Was Hypocritical and Ugly Demand #26: Your Righteousness Must Exceed That of the Pharisees—Clean the Inside of the Cup Demand #27: Your Righteousness Must Exceed That of the Pharisees, for Every Healthy Tree Bears Good Fruit Demand #28 Love Your Enemies—Lead Them to the Truth Demand #29:Love Your Enemies—Pray for Those Who Abuse You Demand #30: Love Your Enemies—Do Good to Those Who Hate You, Give to the One Who Asks Demand #31: Love Your Enemies to Show That You Are Children of God Demand #32 Love Your Neighbor as Yourself, for This Is the Law and the Prophets Demand #33: Love Your Neighbor with the Same Commitment You Have to Your Own Well-being Demand #34: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself and as Jesus Loved Us Demand #35: Lay Up for Yourselves Treasures in Heaven by Giving Sacrificially and Generously Demand #36: Lay Up for Yourselves Treasures in Heaven and Increase Your Joy in Jesus Demand #37: Lay Up for Yourselves Treasures in Heaven— “It Is Your Father’s Good Pleasure to Give You the Kingdom” Demand #38:Do Not Take an Oath—Cherish the Truth and Speak It Simply Demand #39: Do Not Take an Oath—Let What You Say Be Simply “Yes” or “No” Demand #40: What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Separate, for Marriage Mirrors God’s Covenant with Us Demand #41: What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Separate, for Whoever Divorces and Marries Another Commits Adultery Demand #42: What God Has Joined Together Let No Man Separate—One Man, One Woman, by Grace, Till Death Demand #43: Render to Caesar the Things That Are Caesar’s and to God the Things That Are God’s Demand #44: Render to Caesar the Things That Are Caesar’s as an Act of Rendering to God What Is God’s Demand #45: Do This in Remembrance of Me, for I Will Build My Church Demand #46: Do This in Remembrance of Me—Baptize Disciples and Eat the Lord’s Supper Demand #47: Let Your Light Shine Before Others That They May Glorify Your Father Who Is in Heaven Demand #48:Let Your Light Shine before Others—the Joyful Sacrifice of Love in Suffering Demand #49: Make Disciples of All Nations, for All Authority Belongs to Jesus Demand #50: Make Disciples of All Nations, for the Mission Cannot Fail

How do you know for sure you are His? Well Peter said in: 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.