PRAYER

ABIDING IN CHRIST  I

“The great need of God is for intercessors” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p114).  “God looks for men who will stand in the gap (Ezek 22:30)” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p82).

“Because of what prayer really is, prayer is not natural for us.  It’s not natural for us to embrace our sin, weakness, and failure.  It’s not natural for us to be comfortable depending on the mercy of another.  It’s not natural for us to surrender our hope and dreams to the better vision of another.  It’s not natural for us to surrender our wisdom and control to someone greater than us.  It’s not natural for us to think that we need grace” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 3rd).

“And it is this the Father wills: He seeks daily intercourse with His children in listening to and granting their petitions.  He wills that I should come to Him day by day with distinct requests…” Andrew Murray (ref#19, FIFTH LESSON).

“The rightness of the asking goes down to the rightness of the asker….Patriarchs and Psalmists fall back on their integrity as an argument with God, and their plea is admitted….It is the praying of the righteous man that is of great force.  Faith is no substitute for right living….There is no condemnation, but an assurance in the will of God that gives ‘boldness toward God…” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p107).

“It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Aug 24th).

“If the name of Christ is to be wholly at my disposal, so that I may have the full command of it for all I will, it must be because I first put myself wholly at His disposal, so that He has free and full command of me.  It is the abiding in Christ that gives the right and power to use His name with confidence” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p138).  “…the abiding in Christ teaches the believer in prayer only to seek the glory of God” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p137).

PRAYER

SHORT PRAYERS ARE LONG ENOUGH

“…God is in heaven and you are on earth.  Therefore let your words be few” (Eccl 5:2 ESV).

“When you pray, rather let your heart be without words, than your words be without heart.” John Bunyan

“…prayer is fundamentally counterintuitive, we need grace to rescue us from our self-oriented religious meanderings so that, with humble hearts we may acknowledge God as the Redeemer-King and cast ourselves on his gracious care” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Mar 3rd).

“Begin in silence.  Speak with simplicity.  Listen in meekness.  Never leave without a conscious season of real communion” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p74).  “…silence is the best speech and listening is the best part of praying” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p38).

“Short prayers are long enough….Not length but strength is desirable.  A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity.  If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing, they would be all the better.  Verbiage is to devotion as chaff is to wheat” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 14th PM).

“…the prayer of the upright that delights God comes from a heart that at first feels precarious in the presence of God.  It trembles at the hearing of God’s Word, because it feels so far from God’s ideal and so vulnerable to his judgment and so helpless and so sorry for its failings….The first thing that makes a prayer acceptable to God is the brokenness and humility of the one who prays…what makes prayers pleasing to God is a felt awareness of our tremendous need for mercy….The other thing that marks the upright heart is trust in the willingness and power of God to give the mercy we need” John Piper (ref#220, p214).

SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

GOD’S DECREES OF LOVE

“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18 KJV).

“…prior to the creation and existence of the world, He ordained all the events that He would bring into existence, that is, the time and place, means of execution, individual activities, and the individual circumstances from beginning to end for each” Wilhelmus e Brakel (ref#232, p8).

“…I, the LORD, have spoken, and my words will come true” (Amos 9:12 CEV).

“God was alone when He made His decrees, and His determinations were influenced by no external cause.  He was free to decree or not to decree, and to decree one thing and not another.  This liberty we must ascribe to Him Who is supreme, independent, and sovereign in all His doings” A.W. Pink (ref#231, p3).

“…when I was still in my mother’s womb he chose and called me out of sheer generosity…” (Gal 1:13-16 MSG).

“…He chose us…before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love” (Eph 1:4 NASB).

You were hardwired for love, so everything you decide, desire, think, say, and do is an expression of love for someone or something….Your capacity to love was created for him.  Your desire to love was meant to draw you to him.  Your heart was designed to long for love, and that longing was meant to find its final and complete fulfillment in him” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Mar 28th).

FATHER, in Your “sheer generosity” Your have chosen me.  And by Your sovereign will You lead me circumstance by circumstance so I find my joy in You.  How You love is by doing everything You have to do to bring me to the place where I make much of You. “Love is when God gets you to God.” (John Piper)  You make all choices; may I learn to be humble and flexible and keep in step with what You choose for me so I might revel in Your magnificence.

2ND COVENANT

GOD’S SECOND COVENANT PROMISES

“Theology that isn’t zealous to promote forgiving and transforming grace, the kind of grace that changes your life, is simply bad theology” Paul David Tripp (ref#190 Oct 20th).

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.  For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more”  (Heb 8:10-12 ESV).

“All their affections, passions, and appetites, shall be purified and filled with holiness and love to God and man; so that they shall willingly obey and feel that love is the fulfilling of the law: instead of being written on tables of stone, they shall be written on the fleshly tables of their hearts” Adam Clarke (ref#289).

“God promiseth his true Israel his entering with them into a new testamental covenant; after the days that the covenant administration at Sinai was expired, then the Lord saith, Jeremiah 31:33, that he will renew minds and hearts by his Spirit, and conform them to his will, that they shall be living, walking examplars of his law…This work of sanctification of souls is properly inferred here, to prove that such as enjoy it are perfected by Christ, because the promise of holiness is joined with that of perfect righteousness” Matthew Poole (ref#290).

“And added to this will be the complete removal of their sinfulness. All their sins and iniquities, their outward failures (‘sins’) and their inward sinfulness (‘iniquities’), will be remembered no more. They will be deliberately obliterated from God’s memory. ‘Remembered no more’ is, of course, hyperbole to express the completeness of God’s forgiveness. Nothing that they have done or failed to do will be counted against them any longer” Peter Pett (ref#291).

“So His covenant offers a new freedom to obey God, and a dealing with the spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5), bondage (Mark 10:45; 1 Corinthians 6:20; John 8:34-36; Romans 6:6; Romans 6:14; Romans 6:17-18), indebtedness (Colossians 2:14) and alienation (Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 4:18) caused by sin” Peter Pett (ref#291).

REDEMPTION

REDEMPTION

“…the Bible is the story of a hero Redeemer who transforms weak and ordinary people by his powerful grace” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Aug 29th).

“God’s ultimate purpose in redemptive history is to create a people to dwell in his presence, glorifying him through numerous varied activities, and enjoying him forever.  The story begins with God in eternal glory and it ends with God and his people in eternal glory.  At the center stands the cross, where God revealed his glory through his Son.

The biblical story of redemption must be understood within the large story of creation.  First Adam, and later Israel, was placed in God’s sanctuary (the garden and the Promised Land, respectively), but both Adam and Israel failed to be a faithful, obedient steward, and both were expelled from the sanctuary God had created for them.  But Jesus Christ—the second Adam, the son of Abraham, the son of David—was faithful and obedient to God.  Though the world killed him, God raised him to life, which meant that death was defeated.  Through his Spirit, God pours into sinners the resurrection life of his Son, creating a new humanity “in Christ.”  Those who are “in Christ” move through death into new life and exaltation in God’s sanctuary, there to enjoy his presence forever.

The ‘bookends’ concept of biblical theology illustrates that in the third-to-last chapter of the Bible (Revelation 20) God removes his enemies—Satan, death, and evil—that entered the story line in the third chapter of the Bible (Genesis 3), thus completing the story of redemption.  The last two chapters (Revelation 21-22) don’t simply restore the first two chapters (Genesis 1-2); they go beyond them to a world that is fully ordered and holy, in which God is fully present with his people, completing the story of creation….” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2495, “The Bookends of Biblical Theology”).

“…the person who fears the Lord and attends to his commandments has God’s own moral traits reflected in his character.  This is the goal of redemption, to renew the image of God in human beings” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1085, “Psalm 111).

“…I’m no longer under God’s wrath.  I don’t have to live with the burden of low-grade guilt.  I’m completely and finally forgiven.  I have been declared righteous in the sight of God—not on the basis of my own works, but on the basis of Christ’s righteousness that has been imputed to me.  This is what it means to be justified.  There’s nothing more we can do to earn God’s forgiveness” Bob Kauflin (ref#199, p130-131).

FATHER, I bow in inexpressible admiration.

FAITH

WEAK FAITH

“Faith has its trials as well as its temptations….The faith of a child of God may not only be severely assailed, but there are times when that faith may waver greatly….Nothing but the divinity that dwells within that grace keeps it….David: in the strength of faith slaying Goliath, and in the weakness of faith fleeing from Saul!…Nothing but the power of God and its own incorruptible and imperishable nature preserve it” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 2nd).

“You don’t have to hide in guilt when weak faith gets you off the path, because your hope in life isn’t your faithfulness, but his.  You can run in weakness and once again seek his strength.  And you can know that in zealous grace he will not leave his craftwork until faith fully rules our heart unchallenged.  He always gives freely what we need in order to do what he has called us to do” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 12th).

“…this direct faith; it is simply resting upon Christ…realizing our utter weakness and helplessness and hopelessness….” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 10th).

FATHER, when I recognize weak faith my first reaction is to rely on myself to rise to the occasion.  Misguided, I think I own faith and it is my responsibility to make it better.  But, no; I own nothing; I have given my life to CHRIST.  Now that I know, continually remind me that my strength of faith comes from You.  If I dislike my weak faith let me turn to You and plead and not think twice of trying to raise faith myself.

FAITH

FROM FAITH TO FAITH

 “…the righteous will shall by his faith” (Hab 2:4 ESV).

“When faith and duty demand anything from us, we must close our eyes to all obstacles and go forward in our work; for all events are in God’s hands alone, and they will happen as he pleases.  Our duty is to proceed, even if we think our labors may be in vain and will not bear fruit” John Calvin (ref#164, April 28th).  FATHER, I desire help to possess the faith to allow the days to play out by Your hand.  May I find it not important whether I think I’m doing well or poorly.

“The grace you’ve been given is not just the grace of forgiveness and acceptance; it’s also the grace of empowerment.  So get up and follow….So here’s how this works.  God has promised to supply and empower; your joy is to follow him by faith where you live every day.  You don’t wait for the provision before you move.  God has not promised that you will see it beforehand.  You don’t try to figure out what God is going to do next and how he will meet your needs; you move forward in the certainty that he is with you, for you, and in you” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 6th).

“Would you have more faith?…Then take heed that you are diligent in the use of every means of grace,–diligent in your private communion with God,–diligent in your daily watchfulness over time, temper, and tongue,–diligent in your private Bible-reading,–diligent in your own private prayers” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p195).

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:17 NIV).

“Faith…teaches us to hope for and to desire every blessing from God” John Calvin (ref#164, March 1st).

FAITH

SUPERNATURAL FAITH

“I need emancipation; I need to be lifted to another realm; I need a force and a strength and a power that I do not have myself.  That is my need, and here is the answer: I am given faith—I am given an outlook and understanding—I am introduced to a source of power” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 7th).

“Faith means you take God at his word, you never let yourself think that you’re smarter than him, and you live inside his boundaries….We tend to live by sight, by personal experience, by collective research, or by good old intuition, but faith isn’t natural” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, April 17th).

“The highest rational knowledge of God cannot profit without the knowledge of faith….In the Scriptures, Christians are not called knowing persons, but believers” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p151).

“…trusting God to shape the right living in us…It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is…God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead….You’re not ‘doing’ anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation….” (Rom 10:4-10 MSG).

“The obedience that gives God pleasure is produced by the power of God’s grace through faith.  The same dynamic is at work at every stage of the Christian life.  The power of God’s grace that saves through faith (Eph 2:8) is the same power of God’s grace that sanctifies through faith” John Piper (ref#220, p245).

 “…God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power…” (1 Cor 2:4-5 MSG).

FAITH

UNBELIEF

“’…If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all’” (Isa 7:9 ESV).

There is a significant difference between amazement and faith.  God doesn’t just want to blow your mind; he wants to rule your heart….You can be amazed by the grand sweep of the redemptive story in Scripture and not be living by faith…You can be amazed by the great worship music you participate in every Sunday and not be living by faith….You can be amazed by the wonderful biblical preaching and teaching that you hear and not be living by faith” David Paul Tripp (ref#190, June 27th).

“There is nothing really mysterious and hard to understand about saving belief.  But the whole difficulty arises from man’s pride and self-righteousness….They cannot understand it because they will not stoop” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p182).

“’…my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him’” (Heb 10:38 ESV).

“…faith…the more it is exercised, the mightier it becomes…God never places His child in any difficulties or throws on him any cross except to call faith to exercise; and if the opportunity of its exercise passes away without improvement, the effect will be a weakening of the principle and a feeble exertion of power in the next trial” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 27th).

FATHER, what scary information—that the less faith I have the less faith I have.  This hits on the subject of obedience.  How many times does my memory tell me of my disobedience?  Please keep me in remembrance of these four words: “disobedience flows from unbelief” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2366, [Heb 3:15-19]).  My disobedience is caused by not trusting You fully.  Oh to have great faith!

“…the real trouble with most Christian people is not so much in the realm of their conduct and practise as in the realm of their belief” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p39-40).  “The commandments of God are only as hard to obey as the promises of God are hard to believe” John Piper (ref#220, p250).

“Nothing more effectually…obscures our view of Christ than the sin of unbelief.  Not fully believing His Word, not simply and implicitly relying on His work, not trusting His faithfulness and love…”  Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 1st).

“…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23 ESV).

SCRIPTURE

THE BIBLE, GOD’S GIFT TO ME

“God’s Word has a claim…upon your attention because of its majesty and its condescension” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p47).

“Every word that God has given us in this Book claims our attention because of the infinite majesty of Him that spake it…God’s claim to be heard lies also in the condescension that has led Him to speak to us….Thou art so full of lovingkindness and tenderness that Thou wilt stoop out of heaven to converse with Thy sinful creatures” Charles Spurgeon (ref#251, p46-47).

FATHER, You did not speak Your Word to me just to increase my knowledge but that it move me to change my conduct. Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p187)

“…to make progress in all the good things that he gives us, we must have his Word so we may be built upon it and grow more and more through it.  To bring this about, we must be teachable.  From day to day , we must labor to seek help in the Word to strengthen our faith…” John Calvin (ref#164, Oct 12th).

“We don’t see ourselves with clarity, but we think we do, and we don’t know ourselves with accuracy, but we are convinced we do….” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).  “…the mind was designed not to defend what we want, but to discover what is ultimately true….The purpose of the mind is not to rationalize subjective preferences, but to recognize objective reality and to help the heart revel in God” John Piper (ref#220, p261, underlining mine).  “Only when the Word of God is applied to a person’s life does he realize how deep and wide is his corruption” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 13th).

FATHER, I am reminded again what a great gift Your Word is as the SPIRIT convicts me of utilizing my mind all too often to “rationalize subjective preferences.”  How refreshing it is to follow “objective reality” reading Your Scriptures, instead.

“…we all need help.  It comes to us in the gift of God’s Word…” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 4th).