JESUS

THE SHEPHERD OF OUR SOULS

“God was so sure of the depth and expansiveness of your sin, of your inability to grasp how desperate your condition is (and, even if you were able, your complete inability to free yourself from it), that he was willing to harness the forces of nature and to carefully control the events of human history so that at a certain point Jesus would come to live the life you could not live, die the death that you should have died, and rise again, conquering death.  Why did God go to this elaborate and sacrificial extent?  There is only one answer to the question.  God the Father planned it, God the Son was willing to do it, and God the Holy Spirit applied this work to your heart and mine because there just was no other way” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 29th).

“…He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls”(1 Pet 2:21-25 MSG).

“…the guilty, trembling sinner may confidently and safely rest in the work of the Savior….Acts 2:32;…Rom 5:10;…Rom 4:25;…Rom 8:34;…John 14:19;…Heb 1:3;…1 Pet 3:22;…Jesus is at the right hand of God, and the principalities and powers of all worlds are subject to His authority….Your Head and Redeemer is alive to frustrate every purpose, resist every plot, and silence every tongue that would condemn you” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 15th).

“…our enemies…are…under the hand of God and can do no more than what he permits them to do. Furthermore, God can, whenever he pleases, render all their endeavors vain and ineffectual” John Calvin (ref#164, Jan 31st).

“…it’s the gospel that changes us….not only have our sins been forgiven, but our bondage to sin has been broken….in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21)” Bob Kauflin (ref#199, p132-133).

“Since your standing with God is based not on your righteousness but on Christ’s, in moments of failure, you can run to him and not from him” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 6th).

JESUS

SIN’S REMEDY

FATHER, You have put us all in the prison of sin.  We all start out in identical conditions (Rom 3:9).  Then You invite all to come to the cross of CHRIST.

“The cross of Christ triumphs only in the hearts of believers over the devil and the flesh, over sin and wickedness, when they lift their eyes to behold the power of the resurrection” John Calvin (ref#313, p82-83)

“…God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone”(Rom 11:32 NLT).

“Sin is every human being’s core disease.  It is completely beyond the power of any human being to escape it.  It separates you from God, for whom you were created. It damages every aspect of your personhood.  It makes it impossible for you to be what God created you to be and to do what God designed you to do.  It robs you of inner contentment and peace, and it puts you at war with other human beings. It renders you blind, weak, self-oriented, and rebellious.  It reduces all of us to fools, and ultimately it leads to death.  Sin is an unmitigated, almost incalculable disaster…you and I have no ability whatsoever to escape from the hold that sin has on us.  It is the moral Vice-Grip that has held the heart of every person who has ever lived” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 29th).

“It is the cross of Christ that brings us all down to the same place. ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ The differences between nations and groups within them and individuals are nothing when you look at the cross of Christ.  We are all miserable, helpless, hopeless sinners” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, April 15th).

“…the eternal Word Who became man, uniting a true human nature to his divine nature…the two natures joined in the one Person forever….if your personal problem of sin is ever to be remedied in a biblical way, it will be remedied only as you have personal dealings with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Such is the unique stand of the Christian faith: the sinner in all his need, united to the Savior in all the fullness of His grace; the sinner in his naked need, and the Savior in His almighty power, brought directly together in the gospel.  That reality is the glory of God’s good news to sinners” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p10-11)!

JESUS

JESUS LED BY THE SPIRIT

FATHER, the familiar and habitual life I lead humanly is that of selfish desire which leads to unholy action.  This is my born-with nature—a desire to do what I want to do.

“…the lie of autonomy…tells you that you are an independent human, that your life belongs to you, and that you have the right to live your life as you please” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Nov 30th).

But when I study the life of JESUS on earth, I do not see Him doing what He wants to do, even though He is the Son of GOD!  Instead, He emptied Himself to allow You, FATHER, to give Him the fullness of Your SPIRIT:

“Our Lord’s life was mapped out for Him.  He came to do the Father’s will, and that will was unfolded and interpreted to Him by the Holy Spirit….He was led of the Spirit, taught of the Spirit, and strengthened in the Spirit….He was constantly dependent upon the Spirit…” Samuel Chadwick (ref#195, p79).  “…he was anointed by the Spirit to be a herald and witness of his Father’s grace…” John Calvin (ref#113, p318).

“…the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.  He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge…” (Isa 11:2-4 ESV).

JESUS, the Son of GOD and also the Son of Man, belonged to GOD; I also belong to GOD. “We don’t own our mentality, our spirituality, our emotionality, our psychology, our personality, or our physicality.  We are not independent beings and we do not have a natural right to do with our physical and spiritual selves whatever we desire to do” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Nov 30th).

FATHER, I do not want to judge situations with my own eyes and ears but with the wisdom of the SPIRIT within me.

JESUS

THE DIVINE REMEDY FOR SIN

“A biblical Christian is one who has seriously considered the one divine remedy for sin….all of our true help comes down from above and meets us where we are” Albert N. Martin (ref#221, p9).

FATHER, I lose my way around the Bible if I take my eyes off JESUS (Alistair Begg). When GOD first spoke of evil in Gen 3:15, He announced His remedy to defeat the now prince of the power of earth’s air, satan.  A descendent of Adam would crush his head.  Throughout the Old Testament, I see glimpses of GOD working out His plan until finally JESUS, born of a woman (Adam’s descendent) comes to earth.  The entire Bible presents GOD’s plan to redeem men back to Him.  It portrays a loving GOD’s effort to save a people for Himself.

There are few passages that capture the disaster of sin and what it does to people made in God’s image better than Genesis 6:5-6:

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (ESV)

“Note two things from this passage.  First, the affect of sin on people was deep, heart deep.  Sin is not just a matter of bad behavior.  It is a condition of the heart.  That’s why you cannot free yourself from it.  Second, the effects of sin on you and me are comprehensive. Note the words ‘every intention’ coupled with the words ‘only evil continually.’  But the passage tells us more.  God was not satisfied leaving us in the disaster of sin.  The disease that infected the heart of every human being produced sorrow in his heart.  But his sorrow was not just the sorrow of remorse or the sorrow of judgment; it was the sorrow of grace.  The words of Genesis 6:8—‘But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD’—tell you that Genesis 6 is not the end of the story.  God would not just punish sin; he would raise up a nation out of which his Son would come to live and die to deliver us from it.  The cross of his Son stands as a lasting reminder of just how desperate our need is for the grace that that cross represents” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 29th).

“…’there is no condemnation’ to a poor soul that shelters itself beneath the cross of Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 5th).

CHRIST

DOOM ON THE WHOLE WORLD

“The cross does not only reveal sin for what it is…it pronounces doom on the whole world…The cross of Jesus Christ makes this great proclamation.  Unless I believe in Him, unless I believe that His death…is the only thing that reconciles me to God, I remain under the wrath of God.  If I do not see that the wrath of God against my sin has been borne there by the Son of God, then the alternative is that I must experience the wrath of God.  That is the essence of the Christian Gospel.  I either believe that my sins have been punished in the body of the Son of God, or else they will be punished in me.  It is the judgment of the world.  The world apart from Him is under the wrath of God, it is doomed, it is damned, and He alone can save it…There was no other way, for God would never have allowed His Son to endure all that if there had been another way” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Feb 21st).

“…the Lord Jesus Christ…gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” (Gal 1:3-4 ESV).

FATHER, I come humbly and with amazing fear—fear of Your wrath and amazed that You consider putting in the effort to save me from it.  I cannot save myself; it is beyond my abilities.  Without Your kind input I would not desire to be what You have created me to be.  I would fall completely under Your wrath (ref#190, Sept 30th).

“…we are all sinners. We are all in the same desperate condition.  None of us is better off than any other.  None of us is more righteous.  None of us is more deserving….We all need to be rescued from the dark rebellion of our own hearts” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Nov 28th).

“If you don’t understand and accept the gravity of your condition and your inability to alter it, the Bible, and particularly the work of Christ, will make no sense to you at all.  Why did God go to the history-shaping extent of sending his Son to earth?…Why was it vital for him to suffer and die?  Why did there absolutely have to be a resurrection?  Why?  The answers to these questions can be found by tracing a thread that runs throughout the Bible….We were not only hopelessly ensnared by sin and tragically guilty before God, but we were also completely unable to help ourselves” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Sept 30th).

FATHER, “There is only one hope for us all—the amazing, forgiving, rescuing, transforming, and delivering grace of Jesus” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Nov 28th).

GOD

SUMMARY OF GOD’S INTENTIONS

“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun” (Rom 8:29-30 MSG).

“…the biblical story is…the story of rebels who not only don’t desire a relationship with God, but who could not possibly earn it even if they did.  This is a story of divine intervention, of divine substitution, of divine sacrifice, and of divine grace.  It is a story of God sending his Son to live as we were meant to live, to die the death that each of us deserves, to satisfy God’s righteous requirement and placate his anger, and to rise out of the grave, conquering sin and death” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Dec 27th).

“There had to be a Savior because we have no ability whatsoever to save ourselves.  We can escape situations, locations, and relationships, but we cannot escape ourselves.  We cannot run from who we are, what we have done, and what we deserve. The only hope is that God in redeeming love and glorious grace will move toward us, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Sept 30th).

“But as amazing as the grace of forgiveness and the acceptance of God are, there is still more amazing grace…God knew…we would need daily help….He came to us and made us the place where he dwells…By grace, we are the temple of the Most High God” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Dec 27th).

“…And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, The one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent”(John 17:1-5 MSG).

FATHER, Your actions are all to the praise of Your glory!  How joyous is our praise!

ASSURANCES

A CHANGED LIFE IS OUR ASSURANCE

“When I am born again the Spirit of God takes me right out of myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Dec 21st).

“That grace which is but a persuasive offer and in our power to receive or refuse is not the grace which brings us to heaven.  But God’s people feel a powerful work of the Spirit, not only revealing to us our misery and deliverance through Christ, but emptying us of ourselves, as being redeemed from ourselves, and infusing new life into us, and afterwards strengthening us and quickening us…never leaving us till the conquest is perfect” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p117).

“This new being…is no outer thing, made up of showy moralities and benevolences…It is something deeper, and truer…It’s affinities are with the things above; its sympathies are divine; it sides with God in everything…The new man…produces righteousness and holiness through the power of the Holy Ghost…It is…a new standing or state, a new moral character, a new life, a new joy, a new work, a new hope…” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, p10-11).

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-16 ESV).

“…true Biblical holiness…that which must be based firmly on a personal experience of the saving work of Christ on the cross, and maintained through the work of the Holy Spirit living in the individual believer…is not simply a matter of outward observance but is rather the whole Christian life, and finds practical expression in every area of day-to-day living” Horatius Bonar (ref#326, back cover).

NOTE: This changed life may not immediately produce all that is mentioned above.  This new life is a “progressive sanctification…a process of change…a way of ongoing transformation, not yet perfect, still failing, but always growing in faith and obedience” Paul David Tripp (ref#5, p340).

“Salvation is unfolded throughout our entire sojourn here.  We continue to repent and to believe, and even the process of our salvation continues as we are changed more and more into the image of our Lord” Charles Spurgeon (ref#330, p88-89).

ASSURANCES

NO MORE FEAR OF GOD BEING AGAINST US

 …FATHER, Your “…work in our souls will be carried on until it ends in ultimate perfection and glory….’Whom he called, them he also justified; and whom’—you see the jump—‘he justified, them he also glorified.’  If He starts, He will finish; so if the life is in me, I can be certain of the glory” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 19th)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 6:27-28 ESV).

“If you’re God’s child, you can rest assured today that both your standing before God and his rule on your behalf are sure and secure….His love will never fail, and his rule on your behalf is eternal” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 5th).

“…if any man…be one of those whose names are written in the book of life, his enemies may contend, but they shall never prevail against him.  He muststand whom the Lord ordains to hold; and if God determines his salvation, neither mortal nor infernal power shall prevail to destroy him.  On this account, we may boldly say with the apostle, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’” Charles Spurgeon (ref#238, p 45).

We can be assured of our godliness if, “…a loss and absence of the sense that God is against us…”is present (ref#189, Nov 28th).

“He is for us…with all the omnipotence of His love…with all His boundless wisdom…He is for us—eternally and immutably for us(ref#238, p48)! “…a loss of the fear of God, while a sense of awe remains…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 28th)—this is one of our assurances.

ASSURANCES

FAITH AVOIDERS

Faith avoiders become “identity amnesias” David Paul Tripp (ref#190, Jan 31st). They have not explored the cliff where faith jumps, therefore they have no solid proof they are truly Christian.

“Will you live in timidity and fear or in the courage of hope? Will you avoid challenges of faith in fear or move toward them, resting not in your own ability but in the presence, power, and grace of the One who rules all and has become your Father” David Paul Tripp (ref#190, Jan 31st)?

“…there must be…faith…a belief that the law is answered and satisfied by Jesus Christ; and…such a sense of the way of salvation by Christ that…sin should not be punished in us…this…lightens the burden and creates hope. This is to have a sense of the sufficiency of salvation” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p99).

FATHER, You move me to ask myself if I am abiding in CHRIST – day to day trusting Him—regularly fellowshipping with Him in prayer and worship (John15:4,7)? Am I making JESUS my trust? Your SPIRIT challenges me to ask myself if I am abiding in CHRIST or simply acting like a Christian.

Can I give up all the good things about myself and let You make me good. I know it will mean stepping off the cliff to the unknown but I also know that You will bring me to trusting in that jump.

CONFESSION

THE NOTION OF DIVINE CONTROL

…FATHER. “The Bible declares that an infinitely good God is in the middle of our most painful experiences…” Paul David Tripp (ref#5, p143).

“…how astonished we would be to find that in the bitterest draught that ever touched our lips, the principal ingredient was love! That love saw the discipline needful, love selected the chastisement sent, love appointed the instrument by which it should come, love arranged the circumstances by which it should take place, love fixed the time when it should transpire, and love heard the sigh, and saw the tear, and marked the anguish, and never for one moment withdrew its beaming eye from the sufferer” Octavius Winslow (ref#61, Oct 7th).

FATHER, I long to stay in Your presence. How easy it is when the tribulations come to lean on my own resources. At the sign of tribulation my notion is to take action using my strength to remove myself from its grip as speedily as possible. I derive help from myself and from others forgetting You, FATHER; I not only forget Your strength to provide for me but also I never consider Your good purposes for the trial.

Aid me quickly so I gain a notion of Your divine control. When perplexities press make the realization come naturally: “God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, July 16th)? Allow me, FATHER, to rest in perfect confidence in You (ref#7, July 16th).