Archive for June, 2008

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The Joy of Jesus

June 18, 2008

“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” – John 17:13

This is one of those things that I’ve read so many times. But if you asked me what the purpose of Jesus’ words were, I probably couldn’t tell you and would have said that it wasn’t it the Bible.

So, what is the purpose of Jesus’ words? He tells us here “that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves”. The purpose of Jesus speaking was for our joy. It wasn’t just for any joy. It’s Jesus’ own joy.

The verb tense of the Greek word telling us that believers “may have” Jesus’ joy tells us that it is a process we are continually going through. We should be increasing in joy, day by day. And that joy is not something that increases without our effort. We need to be familiar with all Jesus said to us. And we have a flawless record of all He has spoken and all He has intended for us in the Bible.

Want to grow in joy? If you’re a Christian you should be willing to grow and actually growing in joy. So read your Bible and become familiar with Jesus and the full joy, His joy, He has for you!

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Book Review – “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God” by D. A. Carson

June 12, 2008

This is an excellent book. I often struggle with cultivating love. So, it was very helpful to see the depth and differences in the love of God.

Carson explores 5 types of love existing in God: 1) love within the Trinity; 2) love for creation; 3) love for fallen humanity; 4) love for those who are/will-be saved; 5) love for those who are obedient. Carson also reflects on how God’s love interacts with the rest of God’s character. Each section is backed with Scripture and helpful for the cultivation of your own love, especially of God, your spouse, the church, the unsaved and creation.

I would recommend this book to everyone who is familiar with the Bible and seeking to discern what it says about the love of God.

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Morality of Dreams

June 6, 2008

Are we morally accountable for what we dream about? I’m pondering whether we are.

I don’t think there is specific mention of this in the Bible but I thought it would be good to ponder. I’ve had dreams where I’ve done some extremely gruesome things. I’ve also had dreams, one last night, where I shared the gospel with someone (the fact that I continued once they appeared to be an extension cord is unimportant).

I doubt a murder in a dream would be accounted as a real murder. But a murder you commit in a dream (dreaming that you yourself do it) is a thought of anger, which according to Matthew 5 makes you guilty of disobedience to the sixth commandment.

I bring this up because I have had an overwhelming feeling in dreams of being able to decide between doing something and not doing it. I’ve made decisions not to sin in dreams. If these were actual decisions then either I’ve found a place to enjoy sin or I’ve found another place to be cautious against sinning. My pondering: to the degree that I’m willing to sin in a dream is the degree to which I’m guilty of sinning in a dream; and the degree to which I willingly share the gospel in a dream is the degree to which I worship God by doing so.

Thoughts? Ideas? Other passages?

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Audio Review – Hebrews series by John Piper

June 5, 2008

I downloaded this series about two months ago. It is overwhelming to listen to almost 2 years of teaching in 2 months. John Piper does an exceptional job in Hebrews (as elsewhere).

The teaching is different than a word-by-word study. Piper takes the text in sections and draws out the overall teaching. It it not a series to answer every question you have about the book of Hebrews, through he does answer many (especially the hard ones). Instead, Piper acts as a pastor desiring to take his church through Hebrews, highlight the driving force of the book and encourage his congregation to read and study the book too.

The best parts, or the ones I remember most vividly, are chapter 6 (the difficult section), chapter 10’s section on the church and small groups, chapter 12’s discipline by God and chapter 13’s need to go outside the camp.

I would encourage you to listen to this series to take a mature look at some of the great themes of Scripture.

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The standard of history

June 5, 2008

I try to be optimistic. But this story struck me. An east coast lighthouse was lost. Historians assumed it was dismantled and destroyed. It was later found on the west coast.

Often when historians review the New Testament they use today’s standards to do so. If there is a quote in the New Testament then they assume the writer copied down word-for-word the contents of that quote. That wasn’t the standard in New Testament times. There weren’t even quotation marks in the Greek language.

Now I’m not saying that the Holy Spirit would not inspire direct quotes. But in an time when a lighthouse can be lost, it might not be feasible for historians reflecting on a 1900 year old history to hold it to a higher standard than what is held today.

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The unknown people

June 4, 2008

The longer I’m at seminary the more I wonder where all these men of God go once they graduate. The vast majority serve small churches where they do not receive recognition. I thought I’d read 2 Kings 5, a story where the unnamed are important.

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” (2 Kings 5:1-4, NASB)

There are three people, mostly unnoticed, that this story hinges on. The first two, above, are the wife of Naaman, a Syrian commander, and her Israelite servant. The faith of the servant appears when she mentions to her mistress the ability of the prophet (Elisha) who is in Samaria. The wife, then, must have mentioned to her husband the servant’s faith and her suggestion to visit the prophet in Samaria.

Naaman visits Elisha and is told just to go wash. Naaman gets angry and leaves because of the simple instructions,

Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:13-14)

Naaman’s servants offer wisdom at this point. They points out that it isn’t a hard thing that Naaman has to do. And if the task Elisha assigned was more difficult then Naaman probably would have gone more quickly to do it. But God heals through faith, not hard work. When Naaman does what Elisha told him, he is healed.

So Naaman’s servants, Naaman’s wife, and Naaman’s wife’s servant all serve God by directing Naaman toward salvation through faith (5:15-19).

May God be with those of us who are servants or wives of great men, may our faith and wisdom glorify God by advising and supporting the great men He has chosen.