This is an excerpt from The Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott:
…the cross enforces three truths—about ourselves, about God and about Jesus Christ.
First, our sin must be extremely horrible. Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgment and so put them away. It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die. They are seen for the tatty, poisonous things they are. For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed. It is only when we see this that, stripped of our self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior we urgently need.
Secondly, God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension. God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sin, guilt, judgment and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that. It is more than love. Its proper name is “grace”, which is love to the undeserving.
Thirdly, Christ’s salvation must be a free gift. He “purchased” it for us at the high price of his own life-blood. So what is there left for us to pay? Nothing! Since he claimed that all was now “finished”, there is nothing for us to contribute. Not of course that we now have a license to sin and can always count on God’s forgiveness. On the contrary, the same cross of Christ, which is the ground of a free salvation, is also the most powerful incentive to a holy life. Continue reading →
This is an excerpt from Morning and Evening, a new edition of the classic devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.
“I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 41:14)
This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help you.” “It is but a small thing for Me, your God, to help you. Consider what I have done already. What! Not help you? Why, I bought you with My blood. What! Not help you? I have died for you and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help you! It is the least thing I will ever do for you: I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose you. I made the covenant for you. I laid aside My glory and became a man for you: I gave up My life for you; and if I did all this, I will surely help you now. In helping you, I am giving you what I have bought for you already. If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to you; you require little compared with what I am ready to give. It is much for you to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. Help you? Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of your granary asking for help, it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat; and you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency. I will help you.”
O my soul, is this not enough? Do you need more strength than the omnipotence of the united Trinity? Do you want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring here your empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Hurry, gather up your wants, and bring them here—your emptiness, your woes, your needs. Behold, this river of God is full for your supply; what else can you desire? Go forth, my soul, in this your might. The Eternal God is your helper!
This is an excerpt from the message “Finding Blessings in Unlikely Places” by Rev. Buck Day from Dec 24, 2011:
Perry Bice turned off the engine, but sat behind the wheel in his car. Parked in his driveway in front of him was a brand new wheelchair-accessible van, with a big red and gold bow across the windshield. Bice began to sob.
”Why is Daddy crying?” asked nine-year-old Branson as he got out of the car—because he’d already spied the trampoline. And he passed the basketball goal as he ran by the wheelchair ramp that led up to the house. It was still early on Christmas Day, 2001. But already the Bice family had been blessed beyond their wildest dreams, thanks to a group of anonymous volunteers in the Kansas City area – the “Elves of Christmas Present.”
The Bice family had seen more than its share of sorrow. In just a few short years, the engine had gone out on Perry’s car and the family house that he shared with his wife Katherine and their children, had burned down. And not long after that, he lost his job.
But even deeper troubles were just around the corner. You see, Katherine’s mother died suddenly. Tests revealed that she had a rare condition that helped the family unlock their own medical mysteries that they were struggling with. They were now finally able to diagnose what was wrong with the Bice’s youngest daughter, Rishonn: She had a genetic disorder—mitochondrial disease, a condition that can lie dormant for years or take a life in weeks.
Before long, the Bices learned their oldest daughter, Chambris, also had the disease. And then Mishayla also had tested positive. Two other children, Branson and Talaessa, were healthy….For the months that followed, the couple lived in a daze of grief, denial and sleepless nights. Three-year-old Rishonn died not long after she was diagnosed in 1999.
At times, although Perry was a deeply religious man, he railed at God. But neither he nor his wife Katherine was ever bitter. In fact, Katherine says “We’ve found a God that cares for us tenderly.” They were grateful when about two weeks before Christmas they received an anonymous call from a man who would only identify himself as the “chief elf,” who asked if he could bring some gifts to the children. Perry and Katherine agreed; they thought it would be a nice surprise for the children. Continue reading →
This excerpt is from “What’s His Is Ours” by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, Christianity Today, September 2012:
Picture this: a bride and groom dashing out of the church, through the showers of birdseed and into the limo, all aglow with the light of love from the vows they’ve just taken. In the backseat of the car, en route to the reception, they embrace and kiss. Then the groom announces that he has something to say.
“Now you realize, my dear,” he begins, “that, as far as I’m concerned, we can’t really say we’re married, because I don’t know yet what kind of wife you’ll turn out to be. I hope for the best, of course. And I’ll help you all I can. But only at the end of our lives will I be able to tell if you’ve lived up to my expectations. If you have—then, and only then, I’ll agree that we truly got married today. But if you don’t, then as far as I’m concerned we were never married at all. After all, how can I call you my wife if you fail to be a wife to me?”…
But it would be just as awful a misunderstanding if the bride were to recite to her new husband the following speech: “I’m glad you married me. I’ve always wanted to be married. But mainly what I wanted was the status; I was tired of being a single girl. I’ll stick by you and never seek a divorce, so I can go on calling myself married, but don’t expect any closeness, friendship, or desire from me. I’ve already gotten everything I want out of you and I’ve already given everything I intend to give to you.”…
Comparing our relationship with God to a marriage is an age-old theological device. Hosea, the Gospels, Ephesians, and Revelation all use bride and bridegroom metaphors to illustrate divine-human relations…. Continue reading →
This is an excerpt from Knowing God by J.I. Packer:
In the ancient world, adoption was a practice ordinarily confined to the childless well-to-do. Its subjects…were not normally infants, as today, but young adults who had shown themselves fit and able to carry on a family name in a worthy way. In this case, however, God adopts us out of free love, not because our character and record show us worthy to bear his name, but despite the fact that they show the very opposite. We are not fit for a place in God’s family; the idea of his loving and exalting us sinners as he loves and has exalted the Lord Jesus sounds ludicrous and wild—yet that, and nothing less than that, is what our adoption means.
Adoption, by its very nature, is an act of free kindness to the person adopted. If you become a father by adopting a son or daughter, you do so because you choose to, not because you are bound to. Similarly, God adopts because he chooses to. He had no duty to do so. He need not have done anything about our sins except punish us as we deserved. But he loved us; so he redeemed us, forgave us, took us as his sons and daughters and gave himself to us as our Father. Continue reading →
Question 1: What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
Answer: That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
This is an excerpt from Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels:
The simplest illustration I’ve come across to articulate what sets Christianity apart from other religions is called “Do versus Done.” I tell people who are on the Earning-Grace Plan that “religion is spelled D-O. At the end of the day, it’s all about whether you do enough right things to earn God’s favor. To get in God’s good graces, the thinking goes, you have to do this and do that and strive and sacrifice and clean up your act and make all sorts of promises.”
“But Christianity, on the other hand,” I say to people, “is spelled D-O-N-E. The Bible says that what Christ did on the cross is enough. He did what you could never do—he uniquely satisfied God’s requirement for a perfect sacrifice to take care of our past, present, and future sin—and if you receive what he accomplished, then not only will you be ‘in God’s good graces’ but your life will be made brand new. Because of what Christ did on the cross, your sins can be forgiven and you can find favor in God’s eyes right here, right now.”
Writing those two little words on a slip of paper cements this powerful truth on a person’s heart and mind. Whether or not they make a decision for Christ at that moment, they will never forget what sets Christianity apart. The work that must occur to pay for sin and grant eternal access to God—it’s already been done.
This is an excerpt from The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses by C.S. Lewis:
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased
This is an excerpt from the message “It’s No Mistake” by Andy Stanley:
Sin. It’s such a pesky word. We don’t use it anymore….I mean, sin makes me think of God. Sin makes me think of judgment. Sin would mean there’s some giant moral absolute or absolutes out there, and I’m accountable and if I’ve broken those laws or those rules that God has set up, then I’m in big trouble and I’m accountable….. In fact, if I have sins, then after a while I think I’m kind of a bad person. So, we don’t use that word.
We like this word: “I didn’t sin. I just made a mistake. I made a mistake.” … See, this is a lot better word, because when you catch me, I can say, “Ah, my bad! My mistake.”… …You see, if everything I do wrong can kind of be dumbed down to where it’s just a mistake, then that makes me a mistaker, which means I don’t have sin. If I don’t have sin, I’m not a sinner. If I’m not a sinner, I don’t have any need for a Savior. You see, if you’re just a mistaker, then all you have to do is do better. Mistakers just have to try harder….
The problem is that we know ourselves. The problem is that we know better. Continue reading →
This is an excerpt from the message “Practice, practice, practice” by Rev. Buck Day, Feb 19, 2012:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
. . . Are your thoughts true? . . . If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, these things are true about you:
You are chosen.
You are an adopted son or daughter.
You are a saint.
You are a joint heir with Christ.
You are accepted.
You are redeemed and have been forgiven.
You are free from condemnation forever.
You are beloved.
You are the salt and the light of the earth.
You are God’s temple.
You are God’s workmanship.
(The word there actually means “poem.” You are God’s poem.)
You are safe in God’s grip. Continue reading →