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I find myself lacking when it comes to prayer. Maybe everyone can say the same thing. I think by looking to some of the heroes of my faith and taking what they have prayed, I can better learn how to truly pray. I know there is no one method to prayer and that no man has cornered the market on prayer. But, those who have come before me and have given sweet words like honey offered up to God, deserve my attention and yours.

Today is John Calvin…

I John Calvin, servant of the Word of God in the church of Geneva, weakened by many illnesses…thank God that he has not only shown mercy to me, his poor creature….and suffered me in all sins and weaknesses, but what is more than that, he has made me a partaker of his grace to serve him through my work…I confess to live and die in this faith which he has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than his predestination upon which my entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which he has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ, and accept the merits of his suffering and dying that through him all my sins are buried; and I humbly beg him to wash me and cleanse me with the blood of our great Redeemer, as it was shed for all poor sinners so that I, when I appear before his face, may bear his likeness.”
Calvin’s Last Will (April 25, 1564) Letters of John Calvin, 29

Amen and Amen,

KTG

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Okay, so normally I would not advocate using Tom Petty as a source for deep theological meaning, but I do believe God can use the most unlikely ways to make the world hear His message in new ways. One of the best ways has always been through music (at least in my opinion). Check out these lyrics by Petty. The song is called ” I won’t back down”.

Well I wont back down, no I wont back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I wont back down

Gonna stand my ground, wont be turned around
And Ill keep this world from draggin me down
Gonna stand my ground and I wont back down

Hey baby, there aint no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I wont back down.

Well I know whats right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin me around
But Ill stand my ground and I wont back down

Hey baby there aint no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I wont back down
No, I wont back down.

This sort of sounds like sanctification and perseverance of the saints to me.  How beautiful for the believer to echo the same thoughts in his own walk. I won’t back down even if the gates of hell are thrown open and every demon comes at me. I won’t back down and be turned around by a world that works so hard to drag the believer down. Drag him down through materialism, sin, idolatry, adultery, lies, cheating, lust, laziness, etc. (Romans 6:12-13)

Just like the lyrics say we have only one life and because of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, we know what’s right. We are to write God’s commands and precepts  on the doorposts of our life and meditate on them day and night. Teach them to others and live them out; even in the midst of a world that strives to demean and undermine them. We won’t back down. (Deut 6:6-9)

But we do back down all too often. Life ain’t easy as Petty says and we sacrifice God all too often at the pleasure of our own wants and needs. Is it wrong to want pleasure and joy? Absolutely not. If it was than Christianity would have no adherents and we would have no reason to rejoice over the salvation of Christ in our lives. It would not be good news but rather bad news! What is wrong is desiring our will more than God’s. What is wrong is desiring our pleasure more than God’s. Life ain’t easy and that is usually the biggest obstacle to persevering in the faith.

Lastly (or more correctly, firstly) we persevere because God enables us too. The song above is entirely man centered. Petty says he will make it because of what he can do and because of his willpower and his determination. The Christian is God centered. If we continue and work out our salvation it is because God is doing it for us and because God gives the willpower to us to do it and because God predestined us unto salvation. (2 Cor 3:18; John 6:38-40; Ephesians 1:4-6)

And in light of that wonderful, glorious truth we should all be bold in the Gospel and shout triumphantly “Hey I will stand my ground. And I wont back down.No, I wont back down.”

For Christ’s sake and His name,

KTG




I am reading through Grudem’s Systematic Theology. It is slow and systematic (no pun intended). I have found the key is not to ingest huge amounts at a time, otherwise spiritual indigestion sets in. Instead, reading slowly and deliberately have been crucial and the results have been mind blowing.

The existence of God seems to be something that has always been real to me. I can’t remember ever questioning whether God existed. The question was not whether I knew of God, but rather whether I knew God. And to be even more specific what was my concept of God. And even that sounds bad and horrendous, because it makes God out to be like some sort of car model or computer accessory. I knew of God but never thought and looked upon Him in a personal relational sense.

When I think about this, it really shouldn’t shock me. It shouldn’t shock anyone to say that God is made clear to anyone and everyone and yet at the same time is hidden from eyes that seem so wide open. Here is why I say this:

1. Because the Bible teaches God has made Himself clearly revealed through nature, the self and Scripture. Romans 1:18-20 states:

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

As much as we would like to say that God has stepped back, exited stage left and set the clock on the eternal countdown, He has not. Since the beginning, God has made Himself clear by our own consciences, inner selfs, whatever you want to call them, testifying about Him. What was the problem or what is the problem? S-I-N or as the above verse states wickedness. Grudem states that sin causes people to think irrationally about God and leads to them falling back on their own human wisdom which is naturally antagonistic of anything or anyone that contradicts it. Since we are born inherently evil, we are pitted against God in rebellion from day one. The thoughts of unbelievers are only toward sin and as John Piper says, “Sin is all unbelievers do”. This sin is the key force is suppressing what we know about God, whether revealed via inner self or through nature and Scripture.

Grudem also states that God is clearly revealed through nature and Scripture. Not partially or 9/10ths revealed, but clearly. This is not a dirty glass view but a crystal clear view. From the beginning verses of Genesis, we can see nature and Scripture testify of God’s existence. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, this one statement is two fold in bringing the reader to see that God is creator of nature and the natural realm and that His word, Scripture, testifies to that.

2. We should not be shocked by unbelief in God. 2 Cor 4:4 states:

4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Satan, the great deceiver, the Father of lies, blinds humankind from the revelation of God. But, if you notice this verse says unbelievers. Believers have had the spiritual scales taken from their eyes are now are able to see God’s glory and the light of the Gospel in every facet and dance of life. The glory of Christ shines forth in physical creation and spiritual creation when the regenerate soul can’t help but cry out in joy and praise and worship of the almighty God. The glory of Christ is the light of the Gospel. What flavor and aroma the Scriptures take on when one is born again. To who else can believers turn to and find such wonder and nourishment than from the very body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? There is none but Him, yet the very thing we find life in is the very stench of death and foolishness to the unbeliever. And as Grudem says, “We must remeber that in this sinful world God must enable us to be persuaded or we would never believe in Him.”

As I read this section, “Chapter 9 – The Existence of God”, I had one thought pass through my mind…I’ve missed so much. My eyes have been opened to God’s glory but how often have I left them looking down in despair rather than falling down in praise and worship of God? How often have I complained about God’s creations and passed by the majesty of His handiwork simply because I had errands to run? I have missed so much…

I have underlined and highlighted one passage from my reading that caught my soul and mind and slammed on the brakes. I read and reread this section and felt a new longing to know my Creator more intimately. Grudem states:

This wide variety of testimonies to God’s existence from various parts of the created world suggests to us that is one sense everything that exists gives evidence of God’s existence. For those who have eyes to see and evaluate the evidence correctly, every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass, every star in the sky, and every other part of creation all cry out continuosly, ” God made me! God made me! God made me!” If our hearts and minds were not so blinded by sin, it would be impossible for us to look closely at a leaf from any tree and say ‘No one created this: It just happened.’ The beauty of a snowflake, the majestic power of a thunderstorm, the skill of a honeybee, the refreshing taste of cold water, the incredibel abilities of the human hand – all these and thousands of other aspects of creation simply could not have come into existence apart from the activity of an all-powerful and all wise creator.

For Jesus name and sake,

KTG

What I’m Reading

The Jesus Way: Conversations on the way that Jesus is the Way ~~Eugene Peterson _________________________________________ Let the Nations be Glad ~~John Piper _________________________________________

In the “Q”

Francis Schaeffer - True Spiritually ______________________________________

Bible Study / Devotional

Romans 1 ___________________________________________