Archive for November, 2012
Posted on November 29th, 2012 by David Burnette
Yesterday we posted a brief summary of what Advent is all about from Noel Piper. You can check that out here. Today we’re highlighting a few resources for Advent, including a couple of books and three Advent guides.
Our hope is that you will use these or other resources (most importantly God’s Word) as you reflect on God’s grace to us in Christ during this Christmas season. This upcoming Sunday – December 2nd – is the first Sunday of Advent. Enjoy:
1. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. This book is edited by Nancy Guthrie and includes readings for Advent from the present and the past. Contributors include: Alistair Begg, John Piper, Francis Schaeffer, George Whitfield, Joni Eareckson Tada, Tim Keller, Martin Luther, J.I. Packer, and Augustine. Now that’s some collected wisdom.
2. Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room. This is Nancy Guthrie’s Daily Family Devotions for Advent. Each day contains a reading, a prayer, and some discussion starters.
3. The Expected One from The Church at Brook Hills. “‘He’s coming!’ This shout of anticipation is the heart of Advent, a time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. These weeks leading up to Christmas day are a special time of reflection on God’s gift to us: the child Jesus…During Advent, as we celebrate the first coming of The Expected One, let’s also look forward in hopeful anticipation of his second coming. Let’s keep in mind the whole picture of who Jesus is, worshiping him as the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to us.”
4. Good News of Great Joy from Desiring God. “The team here at Desiring God did a deep dive into our thirty-plus-year reservoir of sermons and articles, and selected brief devotional readings for each day of Advent. Our hope is that God would use these readings to deepen and sweeten your adoration of Jesus this Advent.”
5. The Season of Advent from The Village Church. “The King is coming. Jesus Christ has come and will come again. This is the hope of the Church whom He purchased with His blood. It is the eager expectation and desire of His people. His coming is our joy, for He is our treasure, our greatest good.”
Posted on November 29th, 2012 by David Burnette
John Piper and David Platt at a Baptist 21 Panel on the topic of money, materialism, and missions. (HT: Andy Naselli)
Posted on November 28th, 2012 by David Burnette
I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace!
Sure as Jehovah’s Name;
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne,
Forevermore the same.
The clouds may come and go
And storms may sweep my sky;
This blood-sealed friendship changes not;
The cross is ever nigh.
My love is oft-times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows;
But peace with Him remains the same;
No change Jehovah knows.
I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.
–Horatius Bonar, “I Hear the Words of Love,” music by Henry Gauntlett (1858)
This and other hymns and songs (old and new) can be found on the new CD by Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace Music – Together for the Gospel Live II
Posted on November 28th, 2012 by David Burnette
What is Advent? Here’s Noel Piper’s brief but helpful summary posted on Desiring God a few years ago:
We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.
Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December.
1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we look back to during Advent.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12 )
For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. That’s what advent means—coming. Even God’s men who foretold the grace that was to come didn’t know “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating.” They were waiting, but they didn’t know what God’s salvation would look like.
In fact, God revealed to them that they were not the ones who would see the sufferings and glory of God’s Christ:
They were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
They were serving us. We Christians on this side of Jesus’ birth are a God-blessed, happy people because we know God’s plan. The ancient waiting is over. We have the greatest reason to celebrate.
— December 2nd is the first Sunday of Advent for 2012
Posted on November 27th, 2012 by Cory Varden
It is possible though by no means certain that Christianity may be more plausible to you now that you’ve read this book. You may have been personally moved by some of the descriptions of our world’s need, your own condition, and Christ’s mission in the world. What if you are ready to explore what it means to put your faith in Christ? Where do you go from here?
We usually begin the journey toward God thinking, “What do I have to do to get this or that from him?” but eventually we have to begin thinking, “What do I have to do to get him?” If you don’t make that transition, you will never actually meet the real God, but will only end up believing in some caricature version of him.
I invite you to take this journey toward God and let this resource help you overcome your skepticism in the journey towards repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Posted on November 26th, 2012 by David Burnette
Language: Thai, Northeastern
Religion: Buddhism (98.10%)
% Evangelical: 0.20%
What are their beliefs?
More than half of the Northeastern Tai are Theravada Buddhist. They follow the teachings of Buddha (the “enlightened one”) and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining merit in their present lives. Ultimately, they are in pursuit of nirvana, or perfect peace. They believe that merit can be acquired through feeding monks, donating to temples, and frequently worshipping in the temples. Traditionally, young men enter a Buddhist monastery once in their life as a short-term monk to make merit for their parents or family members.
Many of the Northeastern Tai continue to practice their traditional ethnic religions particularly for important rites of passage. They combine Buddhist teachings with folk religious practices, seeking help through the worship of spirits and venerated objects.
What are their needs?
Improved nutrition, improved infrastructure, improved industry, local micro-enterprise investments, educational opportunites beyond the primarily grades, appropriate technology and fair representation in the central government.
* Pray that Northeastern Tai believers will live out their decision to follow Christ in wholistic ways that speak to the Thai Isan worldview.
* Pray for those who will contribute to the production of culturally appropriate materials, art, music, and church forms that provide opportunites to which the the Isan may respond.
* Pray that God will call forth teams of long term missionaries and intercessors who will commit to partner with Isan Christian leaders in strategic ministry. Isan is the region with the fewest missionaries per capita in all of Thailand.
* Ask the Lord to raise up serving, missional local village churches among the Northeastern Tai.
* Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group’s primary language.
Posted on November 21st, 2012 by David Burnette
G.K. Chesterton once said, “The worst moment for an atheist is when he feels a profound sense of gratitude and has no one to thank.”
Chesterton’s comment reminds us that giving thanks is directly tied to how we view God. Gratitude implies that we have been dependent on something, or better yet, Someone else.
Yesterday we looked at how serious it is not to give thanks to God in light of what Paul says in Romans 1:21 (You can view that here). Today we’ll consider what it is that we’re saying when we express gratitude to God. This seems appropriate enough the day before Thanksgiving.
Even though we are commanded to give thanks throughout the Scriptures, the idea of being thankful can easily slide into the same category as being kind and sharing; you know, less important truths that seem appropriate for young children. These commands can start to sound more like good manners than the fruit of the Spirit. This is unfortunate.
Whether or not we are grateful to God says a lot about how we view Him and about how we view our circumstances. For instance, if we believe that God is sovereign over every detail of the universe, which includes every detail of our own lives, then we will not view the blessings in our lives as things that “just happen.” Worse yet, we won’t look at what we’ve attained and quietly congratulate ourselves in the recesses of our own hearts.
If we are thinking in biblical, God-centered categories, we’ll acknowledge that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17), that everything from our salvation to even the ability to think and breathe comes from God’s hand. Jesus memorably speaks of God’s all-encompassing sovereign care when He reminds His disciples that even sparrows falling to the ground do so because God wills it. In fact, the hairs of their heads were numbered (Matt 10:29-30). And so are ours.
When we are confident that this kind of sovereignty belongs to God, we will (or at least we should) give all the credit to Him for everything in our lives. We’ll acknowledge that we have not been the authors of our own fate. The charade of pretending as if we are in charge of our own lives will be seen for what it is. We’ll take to heart Paul’s question to the proud Corinthians: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7)
When we give thanks we are in essence declaring, “I am not God.” It’s an admission: “Someone else has provided for me, cared for me, sustained me, rescued me, forgiven me, and given me life.” This perspective helps explain why the failure to give thanks is such a big deal in Romans 1:21. To withhold praise and thanksgiving from God is to ignore the One from whom all blessings flow. It is to turn your nose up at Sovereign Majesty and declare yourself king. It is to declare yourself God.
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving, let’s be reminded that we are completely dependent on God. And as we reflect on His undeserved goodness, let’s not utter a forced “thank you.” Instead, let’s rejoice in a God who is lavish in His grace, abundant in His provision, and reliable in His faithfulness. Let’s acknowledge that He is God and we are not. For then we will find ourselves spontaneously obeying Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
You aren’t God. So give thanks.
Posted on November 20th, 2012 by Cory Varden
In our featured resource this month, The Reason for God by Tim Keller, science and its relation to belief in God is tackled. Has science essentially disproved Christian beliefs? Must we choose between thinking scientifically and belief in God? Keller begins by saying,
The first reason that many people think science has disproved traditional religion is that most of the major faiths believe in miracles, the intervention of God into the natural order.
It is common to believe today that there is a war going on between science and religion.
Keller doesn’t side step the fact that miracles are hard to believe in. Even the apostles struggled at times with what they experienced, but the miraculous is particularly important for Christian belief. We celebrate both the incarnation and the resurrection every year. The pages of the New Testament are filled with accounts of miracles.
His (Jesus) miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.
This is a difficult issue, especially in our day, that Christians need to be prepared for and Keller provides some intriguing insight into it.
Posted on November 20th, 2012 by David Burnette“Say ‘thank you’,” we constantly remind our children.
- Whether it’s an expensive Christmas present or simply having a door held open, we want our kids to express thanks when they are the recipient of something good. After all, few things are more off-putting than ingratitude.
When a musical artist receives an award, we expect him or her to come to the microphone and thank a long list of people. When the winning quarterback is interviewed after the game, we want to hear him say, “I just wanna thank my offensive line and our coaches. I couldn’t have done it without them.” We know instinctively that giving others credit is an appropriate response.
With Thanksgiving coming in a couple days, it’s a good time to reflect on the real significance of, well, giving thanks. There’s actually more at stake here than you might think, and I’m not just talking about thanking your mom for preparing a fabulous meal on Thursday afternoon (though you should definitely do that). Your gratitude, or lack thereof, is eternally significant.
Later this week, you are likely to hear news anchors, NFL analysts, and everyone else under the sun talking about how grateful they are for what they have. The cynical side of me takes this kind of talk as code for “I’m really glad I’ve got my stuff.” That’s not always a fair assessment, since even unbelievers have a sense of gratitude to God (however they define Him) for what they’ve been given.
Nevertheless, the fact that some level of gratitude is recognized by (almost) everybody as a good thing shouldn’t cause us to forget this important biblical truth: It is a serious thing not to give thanks to God.
In Romans 1:18-32 Paul is building his case that every human being stands under God’s judgment and is therefore in need of His saving righteousness in Jesus Christ, a gift that can only be received by faith (Rom 3:21-26). Paul tells us in Romans 1:21 why God’s wrath is unleashed against the Gentiles: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him…” Did you catch that last phrase?
The Gentiles stand under God’s wrath, and a part of the reason is that they don’t give Him thanks. God gives them life and sustains them at every moment, yet they refuse to acknowledge Him. That’s evil. That’s ingratitude.
The failure to give God thanks is far more than bad manners; it’s rebellion. It’s a refusal to acknowledge the authority and glory of our Creator. Instead of ascribing praise to God and submitting to His rightful rule, we turn to idols. We worship ourselves or some aspect of God’s created order other than the All-Glorious Creator Himself. We don’t acknowledge that everything we have comes from God. And to make things worse, we do all this willingly.
Someone may object, “Non-Christians don’t know God, so why should they give thanks?” But remember how Paul starts verse 21, “For although they knew God…” In other words, unbelievers are aware of their Creator, but they won’t give Him His due praise.
Knowing God as Paul talks about it in Romans 1:21 doesn’t mean having a saving relationship with Him; rather, it speaks of the knowledge that all people have of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Rom 1:20). Yet, despite this knowledge, unbelievers “suppress the truth” (Rom 1:19). That is, they seek to remove God from their mind, pushing aside what they know of His character and their obligation to obey Him. And the result of this rebellion is that such people become “futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom 1:21).
With these things in mind, we ought to be sobered at the prospect of not giving thanks to God. Only pagans live with such ingratitude. It is our duty, and it should be our delight, to give thanks to One who is so worthy. This is true on Thanksgiving and every other moment throughout the year.
Tomorrow we’ll consider more about the significance of our giving thanks to God. For now let’s remember this as Thanksgiving draws near: It is a serious thing not to give God thanks.
Posted on November 19th, 2012 by Jonathan
% Christian: 1.73%
Persecution Rank: 32
- Joshua Project has limited information on the Ilavan people. Pray that Christians will become increasingly interested in discovering who these people truly are and reaching them with the gospel.
- Pray for the small number of Ilavan people who profess Christianity. Pray that they will grow mature in the Lord and that they will reach the people around them with the hope of Christ. Ask God to make their light shine brightly in their community.
- Pray that God will shed His light on this largely Hindu people group so that they will turn from their dark ways and believe in Christ Jesus.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5
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