Daily Archives: February 28, 2020

Augustine and Christian Longing — The Master’s Seminary Blog

Many Christians recognize the name of Augustine of Hippo. He defended the biblical doctrine of divine sovereignty against the man-centered heresy of the British monk Pelagius. The Reformers made exceedingly frequent references to Augustine’s work as they fought against the man-centeredness of the Roman Catholic Church. But what many don’t know about Augustine was that he constantly emphasized the centrality of the affections—and particularly joy—in the believer’s life. He even defined love for God in terms of enjoying Him:

I call [love to God] the motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for his own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and of one’s neighbor for the sake of God.1

It was this pursuit of his own pleasure—indeed, his own pleasure in God Himself—that strengthened Augustine to engage in the many debates and altercations of the Pelagian controversy. When a friend asked him why he even bothered with the polemical disputes, he answered:

First and foremost because no subject gives me greater pleasure. For what ought to be more attractive to us sick men, than grace, grace by which we are healed; for us lazy men, than grace, grace by which we are stirred up; for us men longing to act, than grace, by which we are helped?2

For Augustine, there was no dichotomy of “enjoying sovereign grace” on the one hand and “fighting for sovereign grace” on the other. The latter was fueled by the former. The joy of the Lord was his strength (Neh 8:10).

Everyone Desires to Be Happy

At the heart of Augustine’s emphasis on joy lay a fundamental assumption about human nature:

Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy. There is no man who does not desire this, and each one desires it with such earnestness that he prefers it to all other things; whoever, in fact desires other things, desires them for this end alone.3

He would express this maxim in multiple ways:

What is a life of happiness? Surely [it is] what everyone wants, absolutely everyone without exception.… It is known to everyone, and if they could all be asked in some common tongue whether they wish to be happy, they would undoubtedly all reply that they do.… Thus all agree that they want to be happy, just as they would, if questioned, all agree that they want to enjoy life, and they think that a life of happiness consists of this enjoyment. One person pursues it in this way, another in that, but all are striving for the same goal, enjoyment.4

[The human soul] tends towards what it loves, so that attaining it, it may find rest.… Just as the body gravitates according to its weight, so also the soul, in whatever direction its movement tends, is carried along by love.5

Augustine understood that, invariably and without exception, life is about the affections. We are by nature designed to seek after joy, satisfaction, delight, and happiness.


Whatever we do, we do it because
we believe it will satisfy the very cravings of our soul


Happiness is Found Only in God

But as Augustine would learn all too painfully, true joy, satisfaction, delight, and happiness are found in God alone. Every human being seeks to satisfy the longings of his soul, but only he who comes to know and worship the true God through Jesus Christ is the one who will find such satisfaction.

In that famous opening paragraph of the Confessions, Augustine declares, “You have made us, O Lord, for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”


God has so designed human beings that the deep longings and desires
for happiness and joy that are built into the very fabric of our souls are only met and satisfied by Him


We, like Solomon, will pursue satisfaction in everything under the sun, but unless we recognize that true happiness is only found in God, we too will be striving after the wind.

A happy life is to be sought from the Lord our God. Many different people have given many different answers when discussing wherein true happiness resides. But why should we go to many teachers or consider many answers to this question? It has been briefly and truly stated in Holy Scripture: Happy the people whose God is the Lord (Psalm 144:15).6

You Yourself are their joy. This is the happy life, and this alone: to rejoice in You, about You and because of You. This is the life of happiness, and it is not to be found anywhere else.7

And so it is not uncommon for Augustine to refer to God as the treasure chest of his holy joy. In the Confessions, he called God “my holy sweetness,”8 “O God most beautiful,”9 and “O my joy.”10

He would go on to explain that the counterfeit beauty of sin pales in comparison to the true, authentic beauty that exists in God.


Sin never delivers the satisfaction we seek from it


That satisfaction is found only in God Himself:

For in vice there lurks a counterfeit beauty: pride, for instance—even pride apes sublimity, where as You are the only God, most high above all things. As for ambition, what does it crave but honors and glory, while You are worthy of honor beyond all others, and eternally glorious? The ferocity of powerful men aims to inspire fear; but who is to be feared except the one God? Can anything be snatched from His power or withdrawn from it—when or where or whither or by whom?

Flirtatiousness aims to arouse love by its charming wiles, but nothing can hold more charm than your charity, nor could anything be loved to greater profit than your truth, which outshines all else in its luminous beauty. Curiosity poses as pursuit of knowledge, whereas you know everything to a supreme degree. Even ignorance or stupidity masquerades as simplicity and innocence, but nothing that exists is simpler than Yourself; and what could be more innocent than You, who leave the wicked to be hounded by their own sins?

Sloth pretends to aspire to rest, but what sure rest is there save the Lord? Lush living likes to be taken for contented abundance, but You are the full and inexhaustible store of a sweetness that never grows stale. Extravagance is a bogus generosity, but You are the infinitely wealthy giver of all good things. Avarice strives to amass possessions, but You own everything. Envy is a contentious over rank accorded to another, but what ranks higher than You? Anger seeks revenge, but whoever exacts revenge with greater justice than Yourself? Timidity dreads any unforeseen or sudden threat to the things it loves, and takes precautions for their safety; but is anything sudden or unforeseen to You? Who can separate what You love from You? Where is their ultimate security to be found, except with You?11

Let us follow in the footsteps of Augustine—who followed Paul, who followed the Lord Jesus—and seek all our satisfaction in God Himself, for He is where it is to be found. He has made us for Himself. And our hearts are indeed restless till we rest in Him.

[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated.]


Notes:

[1] On Christian Doctrine, 3.10.16.

[2] Quoted in Brown, Augustine of Hippo, 355.

[3] Quoted in Hand, Augustine on Prayer, 13.

[4] Confessions, 10.20.29-21.31.

[5] Quoted in Hand, Augustine on Prayer, 14.

[6] Ibid., 24.

[7] Confessions, 10.22.32.

[8] Ibid., 1.4.4.

[9] Ibid., 1.12.

[10] Ibid., 2.2.2.

[11] Ibid., 2.13.

via Augustine and Christian Longing — The Master’s Seminary Blog

LIVE STREAM VIDEO: President Trump Holds Rally in Charleston, South Carolina on Eve of Primary Election — 13,000 Fill Venue — The Gateway Pundit

President Donald Trump is holding a “Keep America Great” rally in North Charleston, South Carolina Friday at the North Charleston Coliseum. Supporters started lining up at least 24 hours early to see the historic president.

Right Side Broadcasting has the video:

via LIVE STREAM VIDEO: President Trump Holds Rally in Charleston, South Carolina on Eve of Primary Election — 13,000 Fill Venue — The Gateway Pundit

President Trump Impromptu Presser Departing White House – Video and Transcript… — The Last Refuge

Chopper pressers are the best pressers.  Departing the White House for a rally in South Carolina, the president stopped to answer questions from the press pool.  [Video and Transcript below]

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[Transcript]

via President Trump Impromptu Presser Departing White House – Video and Transcript… — The Last Refuge

February 28 Life-Changing Moments With God

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God, You reconciled me to Yourself through Jesus Christ, and have given me the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that You were in Christ reconciling the world to Yourself, not imputing my trespasses to me, and have committed to me the word of reconciliation. Now then, I am an ambassador for Christ, as though You were pleading through me: “I implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God, You are love. In this Your love was manifested toward me, that You have sent Your only begotten Son into the world, that I might live through Him. In this is love, not that I loved You, but that You loved me and sent Your Son to be the propitiation for my sins. If God so loved me, I also ought to love others.

Lord God, help me to love others with your love—and then speak through me to them about Your loving plan of reconciliation.

John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:18–21; 1 John 4:8–11[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 69). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

February—28 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

Having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.—John 13:1.

Sweet thought, my soul, for thee everlastingly to cherish; thy Jesus is the same, and his love the same, amidst all thy changings: yet he abideth faithful. His love, and not thy merit, was the first cause of thy salvation; and the same love, and not thy deservings, is the final cause wherefore thou art not lost. But mark in this blessed scripture, how many sweet and lovely things are said. Jesus hath a people, and that people are in the world, and that people are his own. What! had he not a people in the other world? Yes! by creation all are his, in common with the Father. But by redemption he had none, until he had redeemed them from this present evil world. And observe how very graciously they are spoken of. They are his own, his peculiar people, his treasure, his Segullah, his jewels. And how dearly doth he prize them! They were first given to him by his Father—that made them dear. They are the purchase of his blood—this made them dear also. He hath conquered them by his grace—this endears them to himself as his own. And though they are in this world too much engaged in the affairs of the world, and too much in love with the world, yet Jesus’s love is not abated; their persons are still dear to Jesus, though their sins he hates. The same love which prompted his infinite mind to stand up for their redemption, the same love is going forth unceasingly, and without change or lessening, to accomplish and render effectual that redemption. Precious Lord Jesus! O for grace to love thee, who hast so loved us! And while thou condescendest to call such poor sinful worms thine own, and to love them as thine own, and to consider every thing done for them and done to them as to thyself, shall not a portion of such love be communicated to my poor heart, that I may love thee as my own and only Saviour, and learn to love thee to the end, as thou hast loved me and given thyself for me, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour?[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 63–64). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

Gaia Goes to Church: The Revival of an Ancient Pagan Goddess — Christian Research Network

“Lovelock’s new Gaia [Guy-uh], now dressed in the fashionable garb of scientific formulation, seeks to again have us believe that our planet Earth is a living creature—as the ancient Greeks believed. It is no longer just a mass of rock, water and air providing a home for billions of individual forms of life. Instead, the planet and all life upon it are to be understood as a single, interconnected whole: a living, breathing, and thinking organism.”

(Sarah Leslie – Herescope)  A new morality is forming based on an old spirituality. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders described the environmental crisis as a “moral imperative” during a Democrat Party presidential debate. The recent Amazon Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church invoked Pachamama, a “Mother Earth” goddess, as Pope Francis considers adding a new sin, an “ecological sin.” Gaia, an ancient fertility goddess, has provided a spiritual metaphor for climate change since the late 1980s. Climate change is a scientific issue. Climate change has also always been a political issue. The first generation of open advocates for a New World Order seized upon the climate as a perfect crisis to revolutionize the world’s governance systems. So how could masses of population be persuaded to radically transform their lives? An ancient spiritual myth was revived – Gaia. Gaia could function as a generic goddess, adaptable to major world religions as a “metaphor,” a “framing story” that could impel people to sacrifice freedom for a higher purpose — a religious cause — to save Gaia, the earth re-conceived as a sacred deity:

“…climate change is cynically used by a certain section of people to justify their political goals of steering the West away from its way of life, a way they perceive to be evil and harmful, hetero-patriarchal, and capitalist. How? Appealing to the faith-based part of human brains,…”[6]

The earth-mother Gaia is a an ancient fertility goddess, what Scripture calls an “idol,” and her association with mystery religions has not been cloaked since the rise of the New Age Movement.  View article →

Research

New Age Movement

Occult-Sorcery-Paganism

via Gaia Goes to Church: The Revival of an Ancient Pagan Goddess — Christian Research Network

February 28, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

33 In context, the “bread of God” is the bread supplied by God. Since the Greek word for “bread” (artos, GK 788) is masculine, it could be the bread of God that “comes down from heaven.” But since both the present and aorist forms of the participle are used throughout ch. 6 in reference to Jesus (vv. 33, 41, 50, 51, 58), it is better to read “he who comes down.” The predicate should be taken as personal rather than impersonal. He is the one who “gives life to the world.” The redemptive ministry of the Son was never intended to be limited to a chosen few but reaches out to the entire human race. Morris, 364, writes, “Here is no narrow particularism but a concern for all mankind.”[1]


33 This statement is explained a little further. The bread is now “the bread of God,” which fastens attention on another aspect of the gift. It originates with God, and is connected with him in a special way. It is his bread. “He who” might be understood as “that which” (as in NRSV).91 It is unlikely that Jesus’ hearers understood it as “he who” (they immediately say, “Sir, from now on give us this bread”). But Jesus did. He knew himself to be the bread of God, and in accordance with this he speaks of this bread not as sent, but as coming down. It has life. And it gives life. The present tense denotes continuing action, and “the world” indicates its scope. Here is no narrow particularism but a concern for the whole human race. This is to be interpreted against the background of the grossly materialistic way in which the messianic age was commonly understood.93 Jesus did not come to bring manna or satisfy any other materialistic expectation of the people. His discourse is a vigorous protest against unworthy views of messiahship and a strong affirmation of the essentially spiritual character of the life he came to bring.[2]


33 The phrase, “the true bread from heaven,” requires some further explanation, and Jesus supplies it: “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” By “the bread of God” Jesus means “the true bread” that “my Father” gives (v. 32), for to him “God” and “my Father” are synonymous (see v. 27b). The added comment (introduced by gar, “for”) again has the look of one of the Gospel writer’s narrative asides, like the earlier comment (introduced in the same way), “For he it is whom God the Father sealed” (v. 27). If it is read in this way, it is intended for the reader, not for the crowd to whom Jesus is speaking, and should therefore be translated differently: “For the Bread of God is he who [instead of “that which”] comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” This is a legitimate translation because the masculine participle, “who comes down from heaven,” can be read as implying a (male) person as the subject, and that person can only be Jesus (see 3:13, “he who came down from heaven, the Son of man”). On this reading, Jesus is already saying implicitly what he makes explicit two verses later: “I am the Bread of life” (v. 35). The alternative translation shows this by capitalizing “Bread,” and by using the pronoun “He” (whether capitalized or not).

The problem with this translation is that the noun “bread,” being masculine, requires the masculine participle anyway. The pronouncement is therefore ambiguous: either translation is possible. But if it is read not as a narrative aside, but as part of what Jesus was actually saying to the crowd, then our preferred translation—“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (my italics)—is by far the more likely. On this reading, Jesus is simply explaining to the crowd what he meant by “the true bread from heaven” (v. 32). “Bread” has not yet been personalized, but refers simply to God’s (as yet) unspecified gift of life to the world. Jesus is not yet making an overt christological claim, at least nothing beyond referring to God as “my Father” (v. 32), which, as we have seen, he has done three times before. He is simply promising “life,” just as he promised “eternal life” to the Samaritan woman (4:14), and to the Samaritans through the “harvest” carried out by his disciples (4:36). The end of that story was that the Samaritans confessed him as “truly the Savior of the world” (4:42), so that it comes as no surprise here that Jesus promises bread from God that “gives life to the world.”[3]


32, 33. Jesus said to them, I most solemnly assure you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread out of heaven, but it is my Father who is giving you the real bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.

After another solemn introduction (see on 1:51) Jesus in verses 32 and 33 annihilates the contrast which the Jews had drawn, and in its stead presents his own comparison. It is as follows:

1. Moses, as God’s agent, merely gave directions to the people regarding the manner in which manna was to be collected, Ex. 16. 1. The Father in heaven is ever the real Giver.
2. Even if Moses be considered the giver, it remains true that he did not give the real bread out of heaven. The manna was a type; it was not the Antitype. 2. The Father is giving the real bread out of heaven. That real bread is Jesus, the Antitype.
3. What the manna provided, as it descended from the visible heaven, was nourishment (τροφή). 3. What Jesus, the real bread of life, gives, is life (ζώη). (For meaning of the term life see on 1:4; 3:16.)[4]


[1] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 444). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (pp. 322–323). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Michaels, J. R. (2010). The Gospel of John (pp. 371–372). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 1, p. 233). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

FEAR FEST 2020: Democrats And The Liberal Media Need You To Be Terrified Of The Coronavirus So Trump Doesn’t Get Re-elected In November — Now The End Begins

Democrats and the fake news media are using the current coronavirus outbreak to make you so scared, so terrified, that you will vote a Democrat into office in November

The Democrats have been running scared for a long time now, they are out of tricks and nearly out of time before Donald Trump wins re-election in the coming #MAGA2020Landslide. They tried golden showers in the fake Russian Dossier, that didn’t work. They tried the Russian Collusion fantasy, that didn’t work. They put doddering, old and semi-senile Robert Mueller on the stand, that didn’t work. They tried to impeach him over non-impeachable offenses, that didn’t work. #AcquitedForever

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8 (KJB)

Now with only months till the election, they want you to think that Trump is causing the coronavirus to rain down on Americans, and the only remedy, of course, is to elect a Democrat or Communist in November. Believe it or not, the Associated Press, one of America’s oldest news outlets, is calling the Democrats on their overt distortions of the truth, calling them out in the article below. Yay! Finally someone in the main stream media who is not Fox News who is actually telling the truth. Let’s see how long it lasts. Trump closing borders with Mexico and cutting some trade ties in China have actually worked to keep the coronavirus out of much of America, so kudos to the president for his excellent prescient policy making.

People, listen to me, the coronavirus is real, and it is causing some deaths around the world, but it is no where near anything that could be called a pandemic or epidemic. In 2002, they said that the West Nile Virus would kill us all, in 2004, they said that SARS would kill us all, in 2005, they said that Bird Flu would kill us all, in 2009, they said that Swine Flu – H1N1 would kill us all, in 2014, they said that Ebola would kill us all, in 2016, they said that Zika would kill us all. Now, answer me this, did any of these previous “most-terrifyingly deadly diseases” cause anywhere near the damage they said it would cause? No, it did not.

The Spanish Flu Outbreak of 1918, now that was a pandemic, that was something to be afraid of, over 50,000,000 people died of influenza that year. The coronavirus is not remotely close to that on any level. Every year in America, tens of thousands of people die from the flu, the flu is no joke and guess what? It is more deadly that the coronavirus. Don’t believe the hype, don’t let the Democrats and the fake news media fake you out on this one.

If the coronavirus becomes a pandemic, it will be headlines news right here on NTEB. Until then, trust in the Lord, take your vitamins, get your rest, and drink plenty of pure water. If the Lord wants to send pestilence down on us, there will be nothing you could do about it anyway. So keep looking up!

AP FACT CHECK: Democrats distort coronavirus readiness

FROM THE AP: Democratic presidential contenders are describing the federal infectious-disease bureaucracy as rudderless and ill-prepared for the coronavirus threat because of budget cuts and ham-handed leadership by President Donald Trump. That’s a distorted picture. For starters, Trump hasn’t succeeded in cutting the budget.

He’s proposed cuts but Congress ignored him and increased financing instead. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t suffering from budget cuts that never took effect.

A look at some of the Democrats’ remarks:

MIKE BLOOMBERG: “There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing.” — debate Tuesday night.

JOE BIDEN, comparing the Obama-Biden administration with now: “We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. … He’s wiped all that out. … He cut the funding for the entire effort.”

THE FACTS: They’re both wrong to say the agencies have seen their money cut. Bloomberg is repeating the false allegation in a new ad that states the U.S. is unprepared for the virus because of “reckless cuts” to the CDC. Trump’s budgets have proposed cuts to public health, only to be overruled by Congress, where there’s strong bipartisan support for agencies such as the CDC and NIH. Instead, financing has increased.

Indeed, the money that government disease detectives first tapped to fight the latest outbreak was a congressional fund created for health emergencies.

Some public health experts say a bigger concern than White House budgets is the steady erosion of a CDC grant program for state and local public health emergency preparedness — the front lines in detecting and battling new disease. But that decline was set in motion by a congressional budget measure that predates Trump.

The broader point about there being “nobody here” to coordinate the response sells short what’s in place to handle an outbreak.

The public health system has a playbook to follow for pandemic preparation — regardless of who’s president or whether specific instructions are coming from the White House. Those plans were put into place in anticipation of another flu pandemic, but are designed to work for any respiratory-borne disease.

Among the health authorities overseeing the work are Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s principal deputy director and a veteran of previous outbreaks, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH’s infectious disease chief who has advised six presidents.

“The CDC’s response has been excellent, as it has been in the past,” said John Auerbach, president of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health, which works with government at all levels to improve the nation’s response to high-risk health crises. Some Democrats have charged that Trump decimated the nation’s public health leadership, but Auerbach said CDC’s top scientific ranks have remained stable during the past three years.

Will the preparations be enough?

One of the lessons learned in prior crises, such as the anthrax attacks, is not to offer false assurances when scientists have questions about the illness. The CDC, for example, can accurately test for the virus but has struggled to get working test kits to state health departments. That’s key if there’s a need to rapidly increase the number of tests being performed.

The U.S. closed borders to travelers from China to buy time as preparations began but, “classically that’s not the way you address an outbreak,” Fauci told The Associated Press this week. “If you do it for a very limited period of time, temporarily until you can get things in order in your own country, it could have some benefit. But in general, the concept of closing borders, you cannot do that for an extended period of time.”

But with infections now in much of the world, one of the questions for U.S. policymakers is whether it’s time to modify any of those border or travel restrictions. READ MORE

GOP Chair: Democrats are trying to stoke fears on coronavirus

GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel joins “Varney & Co.” to discuss the ongoing reactions to coronavirus from the White House and congressional Democrats.

‘Trump Fears The Coronavirus Crisis Will Spoil His Reelection Campaign’ Mocks Liberal Colbert

“President Trump, who initially brushed off fears of a Coronavirus pandemic in this country, is now attempting to blame Democrats and the media for inciting panic about the disease.” says ultra-Liberal Stephen Colbert.

Watch The Democrats Tell Lies About Trump And Coronavirus

“The 2020 Democratic candidates discussed their plans on dealing with the novel coronavirus, which is spreading throughout Asia and Europe. Amy Klobuchar directed viewers to the Centers for Disease Control’s website and Joe Biden laid a large amount of blame on China, where the outbreak began.” This video contains many lies refuted in the above article from the AP. 

Now

via FEAR FEST 2020: Democrats And The Liberal Media Need You To Be Terrified Of The Coronavirus So Trump Doesn’t Get Re-elected In November — Now The End Begins

February 28 Streams in the Desert

Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.” Heb. 13:15.)

ACITY missionary, stumbling through the dirt of a dark entry, heard a voice say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Striking a match, he caught a vision of earthly want and suffering, of saintly trust and peace, “cut in ebony”—calm, appealing eyes set amid the wrinkles of a pinched, black face that lay on a tattered bed. It was a bitter night in February, and she had no fire, no fuel, no light. She had had no supper, no dinner, no breakfast. She seemed to have nothing at all but rheumatism and faith in God. One could not well be more completely exiled from all pleasantness of circumstances, yet the favorite song of this old creature ran:

“Nobody knows de trouble I see,

Nobody knows but Jesus;

Nobody knows de trouble I see—

Sing Glory Hallelu!

“Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,

Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,

Sometimes the glory shines aroun’—

Sing Glory Hallelu!”

And so it went on: “Nobody knows de work I does, Nobody knows de griefs I has,” the constant refrain being the “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:

“Nobody knows de joys I has,

Nobody knows but Jesus!”

“Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” It takes great Bible words to tell the cheer of that old negro auntie.

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then. Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther, the old negro auntie—all of them human sun-flowers.—Wm. C. Garnett.[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (p. 66). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

The Blame Game — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”  Ezekiel 18:32 (NASB)

The metal door slammed shut, echoing its finality in the hallway of the prison. In his loneliness and despair, the man cried. “I didn’t deserve this. I didn’t have a fair chance at life!”

Many people, even if their own imprisonments are less extreme, live in a similar state of mind as this prisoner. Whether they are held captive by prison doors, their addictions, marriages, jobs, or financial situations, it’s difficult for us to play the role of judge. It’s not our job to try to weed out whose fault things are in most situations. Many times the seeds of hopelessness and despair are planted long before adulthood; this makes holding someone accountable for their actions murky at best.

God knows the truth about us all. He reminds us that He holds justice and mercy better than anyone. Therefore, we should leave the ultimate judging to Him. He doesn’t want anyone to feel the pang of death created by sin. Instead, He wants us to choose life. In our verse today, He has given us a task: live! We get to choose to walk away from the darkness and do our best with the choices before us. After we’ve done that, we are able live peaceably and with joy.

Dear Father, today I ask that You would take every dark corner of my mind and heart and purify me. Free me of the sin that so easily entangles me. Help me to remember that You, my maker and my redeemer, have given me permission to live well. I love you Lord, and I place every worry and judgment in Your capable hands. Guide me in the ways that lead to everlasting life with You! Amen.

Thought: Instead of licking our wounds or playing the blame game today, let’s put our situation in God’s capable hands and repent of anything we’ve done to contribute to the mess around us. Then, take a deep breath and live in the purity and freedom of mind to be who God has created you to be.

By Christa Hardin
Used by Permission

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via The Blame Game — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

In Distress — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

From inside the fish Jonah prayed …

“In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” — Jonah 2:1-2

Thought

Jonah was disobedient, rebellious, and selfish. He had run from the Lord. He had shunned the Lord’s command. He had endangered the lives of those on the ship where he had tried to hide. Yet even in the middle of his rebellion, God heard his cry and delivered him. If you are in rebellion, if you are seeking to hide some secret and all-consuming sin, please know the Lord wants to ransom and redeem you! Things won’t be easy, but coming back to the Lord means ultimate redemption and deliverance.

Prayer

Holy and righteous Father, please forgive me for the times that I am in rebellion to your will. Help me to recognize those times and give me the strength to avoid those temptations. In your grace, dear Father, please not only help me to live as you want me to live but also lead me to someone else who needs to know of your grace and redemption. Please use me to help them escape from their bondage to sin and shame. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

By Phil Ware
Used by Permission

From: Phil’s daily devotionals on http://www.verseoftheday.com

Comments: If you don’t see our response form, please go to https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/phil-ware_in-distress/

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via In Distress — Daily Devotionals by Thoughts about God

February 28th The D. L. Moody Year Book

Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.—Luke 13:24.

WHO are we to strive with? Not with the gate-keeper. The gate-keeper stands with the gate wide open, and he says, “Come in, come in!” All the striving is with the flesh; it is with this old carnal nature of ours.[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (p. 46). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

Spiritual Formation: What is it, and is it as innocent as it sounds?

The End Time

By Elizabeth Prata

It’s encouraging for me to hear from women who ask penetrating and insightful questions, and are training their discernment to detect truth from error. Ladies who adhere to sufficiency of scripture, who want to engage with people on the basis of the Rock, and not feelings. I’m so grateful for sisters in the faith.

I received a question about Spiritual Formation. What is spiritual formation, and how do I help a sister who is caught up in it?

Spiritual formation…it’s a New Age practice. The danger is that it sounds like something we should do. There IS such a thing as spiritual formation in the sense that the Holy Spirit in us forms us into His likeness and does so through the means of grace, our prayer, illuminating the scriptures to our mind, sanctifying us through worship and all the rest. But that is not the kind…

View original post 1,291 more words

New study: 70% of households headed by immigrants are collecting welfare

WINTERY KNIGHT

Net annual cost of illegal immigration Net annual cost of illegal immigration

The Washington Times reports on the latest numbers from the Census Bureau.

Excerpt:

The latest Census Bureau numbers find that more than seven of 10 households headed by immigrants in California, and nearly the same amount in Texas, are on the taxpayer dole.

[…]According to the latest numbers from 2014, fully 63 percent of non-citizens are living off at least one welfare program. That translates into 4.68 million households.

[…]“Concern over immigrant welfare use is justified, as households headed by non-citizens’ use means means-tested welfare at high rates,” said the Center for Immigration Studies, in its report on the numbers. “Non-citizens in the data include illegal immigrants, long-term temporary visitors like guest workers, and permanent residents who have not naturalized.”

What’s most troublesome about the Census findings is the fact that the 63 percent of non-citizens on welfare actually grows to 70 percent for those who…

View original post 559 more words

Financial Crisis Deja Vu: Home Construction Index Double Top? — Kimble Charting Solutions

Most of us remember the 2007-2009 financial crisis because of the collapse in home prices and its effect on the economy.

One key sector that tipped off that crisis was the home builders.

The home builders are an integral piece to our economy and often signal “all clears” or “short-term warnings” to investors based on their economic health and how the index trades.

In today’s chart, we highlight the Dow Jones Home Construction Index. It has climbed all the way back to its pre-crisis highs… BUT it immediately reversed lower from there.

This raises concerns about a double top.

This price reversal has the Index testing its steep rising up-trend support line at (1). If this important sector index breaks support at (1), it would send a negative message to the broad market. Stay tuned!

This chart was first written for See It Markets.com. To see the original post CLICK HERE.

 

via Financial Crisis Deja Vu: Home Construction Index Double Top? — Kimble Charting Solutions

Christians and Coronavirus — Gentle Reformation

Self-isolation; pandemic; super spreader; coronavirus; covid-19. Just a few of the words and phrases that have become part of everyday conversation in the weeks since the first outbreak of a novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China on 31 December 2019. As of today there are 83,650 confirmed cases and have been 2,858 deaths worldwide, although those statistics are changing constantly and the cases of infection are thought be experts to be much higher than have been reported. Of course there is reason for concern, but how should we as Christians respond to an event like this? How can we be salt and light?

1. We should bear witness to the peace of God

A national tabloid newspaper today bore the sensationalist, panic-inducing headline, ‘Killer Virus Comes Here’. By contrast, Christians are to be characterised by peace in the face of anxious circumstances. Isaiah 26.3 says, You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Where does the Christian’s peace come from? From staying our minds on God and trusting him. Whenever trouble threatens we need to stay our minds on the Lord. We need to remind ourselves of the many great truths about him that we have learnt through countless sermons and hours of Bible studies and reading.

We believe, for example, in the sovereignty of God. That’s something we need to stay our mind on as this virus spreads to every country and comes closer to our doors. We believe that the Lord is King over all the forces of nature. Psalm 29 tells us that the Lord sends forth his voice (as he did in the beginning at Creation) and nature obeys. Verse 10 says he sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king for ever. The word for flood is the word used of the great flood in Noah’s day – a fearful disaster that engulfed every nation and every creature with the breath of life in its nostrils. Yet the Lord was in control of that, bringing his good and righteous purposes to pass. As the Lord asked Job in Job 38.8-11 “…who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? God sets limits not just for the waves but for everything in the universe. The waters of the flood are often a symbol in Scripture for evil – but they are not outside of the Lord’s will. Viruses, no less than the waters, are subject to his mighty will. As R.C. Sproul used to say, there cannot be a single maverick molecule anywhere in the universe that is outside of God’s sovereignty.

Not only is the Lord sovereign, but he is infinitely wise. Rom 11.33: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! That means not only that he knows what is best, but that he knows the best way of bringing about what is best.

The Lord is also gracious. He is sovereignly working all things for the good of his people. Rom 8.28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. That’s something we need to stay our minds on, if we want to know perfect peace. God knows what he is doing – and what he is doing is working all things for his people’s good. We may not always understand the details of God’s plan, but we know that it is perfect. Who knows how the Lord will use this disease in China, for example, where the Christians of Wuhan and many other places have put themselves in harm’s way to show practical love and help to the people of their city. This comes at just the time when the Chinese authorities are cracking down on Christians; new regulations came into force on 1 February which ‘will require religious leaders and organisations to display complete devotion to the Chinese Communist Party.’

We know too that the Lord has ordained the exact number of our days. Ps 139.16: …in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Nothing in all creation can alter the time and the manner of our death—it will be whatever the Lord in his sovereign, wise and gracious will has ordained. It cannot be brought by ‘bad luck’ causing us to get infected and die ‘before our time’. We are immortal until our work is done. So Jesus tells us not to worry, because it will not add a single hour to our lifespan (Mt 6.27).

2. We should bear witness to the coming judgment of God

Pestilences are one of the ‘signs of the times’ Jesus mentions in Luke 21.10-11: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”These things will characterise the approach of the return of Christ. Of course these things have always been true of human history, but in the parallel passage in Matthew 24.8, Jesus describes these things as the beginning of the birth pains. As a birth approaches the contractions are closer together, more intense, more painful. Isn’t that the point about the signs of the times? As we draw closer to the Lord’s return, these things become more frequent, more intense, more painful? So we are kept alert, in a constant state of readiness for the Lord’s return, without ever being able to predict a specific date. It is always imminent, but never predictable. Every generation will think, with genuine cause, ‘It could happen in my lifetime’.

Every outbreak of pestilence, whether a localised epidemic or a global pandemic, should remind us of the Lord’s words, and force the question upon us, ‘Am I ready for Christ’s return? Have I bowed the knee to Jesus as Lord? Am I living the faithful, godly life he has called me to? Will I be put to shame at his appearing?’ The coronavirus should impress upon us afresh that this world is passing away, that history is not going round in circles but heading towards a great and terrible Day of judgment. It should drive us to pray and to witness to the lost around us with ever greater urgency.

It is striking how frightened so many people are by this virus. It has shaken the world, perhaps especially the economically developed nations of the world, where people feel immune and secure against so many dangers. But now they are confronted by a force that their wealth and medical advances cannot save them from; there is no vaccine at present, nor is there likely to be any time soon. This virus is no respecter of persons. It cannot be contained. The world is at its mercy. And yet the vast majority of people will not contract this disease, and the majority of those who do will not die from it. How much more terrified should people be of the judgment of God when it sweeps over them suddenly, unstoppably, affecting every person who has ever lived, no matter where in the world they are? This latest pandemic, and every pandemic, is a small, pale shadow of the ultimate judgment of God.

And yet there is a vaccine for God’s judgment. There is a cure. But it is only found in Jesus Christ, who bore the full effects of the virus of our sin to deliver that cure.

via Christians and Coronavirus — Gentle Reformation

Lauren “I Don’t Know if Homosexuality is a Sin” Daigle Dominates Christian Music Charts in 2019 — Christian Research Network

“The reason these groups — including Lauren Daigle — topped the “Christian” music charts in 2019 isn’t that this music is actually Christian, it’s that it is pleasing to the world. When you fill music with sound doctrine and God-honoring reverent lyrics, it simply isn’t going to get the votes.”

(Jeff Maples – Reformation Charlotte)  When the world is what you act like, then the world is what you will get….

You may remember from about this time last year when Lauren Daigle — the “Christian” worship artist who says she no longer identifies as a Christian musician — told lesbian talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, that she couldn’t say for sure one way or the other if homosexuality is a sin.

It wasn’t long before she won multiple Dove awards, the most prestigious Christian music awards that are essentially the Christian version of the Grammys. It should come as no surprise then that Daigle dominated the Christian music charts for 2019. View article →

Research

Lauren Daigle

Bethel Church, Redding CA

Hillsong

Steven Furtick, Elevation Church

via Lauren “I Don’t Know if Homosexuality is a Sin” Daigle Dominates Christian Music Charts in 2019 — Christian Research Network

As fear of the coronavirus abounds, where is your trust? — Denison Forum

Reports of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are plastered across media platforms. Everywhere we turn, we see and hear concerns and warnings regarding the respiratory illness it can cause, COVID-19.

How should we prepare? What do we need to know about the virus? Are we stocked up on the pharmaceuticals we regularly consume? How dangerous is the coronavirus to our health?

The internet is laden with tips to prepare for potential contact with the sickness. Infectious disease specialists now say that it’s not if, but when the virus begins circulating in the United States. The New York Times has created a newsletter dedicated entirely to daily reports surrounding the progression of the virus.

For the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, a greater number of new cases are being reported outside of China than within. Conspiracy theories are surfacing like wildfire. Just this week, a report of an infection in California—without link to foreign travel—raises possible confirmation that we already have undetected viral circulation, or community transmission, within the United States.

And despite our wildly equipped force of scientists, infectious disease specialists, and stout political authority, we remain generally mystified by the infection. There is still great uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus. Elements such as the virus’ incubation period, transmissibility, and mortality have yet to be fully determined.

What does the coronavirus expose about the times?

Peter Brooks, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, recommends our focus be geared toward the fundamentals: “Keeping the crisis in context, pushing for full transparency, seeking international coordination and cooperation, employing a ‘whole of government’ approach, enhancing epidemic indications and warning, prioritizing the development of treatments, and supporting all elements of the U.S. health care system.”

These points of attention are both valid and critical next steps in the days to come. But the coronavirus very clearly reveals that we are not in control.

Humankind is a self-reliant cohort. We engage in life with an aura of immortality—anything is achievable with enough grit, money, power, and knowledge.

But the truth is found in Christ alone. Our lives on earth are momentary, afflicted by the struggles of mortality and the frailty of our human existence.

Matthew 6:19–21 says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Are our hearts grounded in the fleeting promise of safety from outbreaks such as the coronavirus?

If so, we will be fearful, disappointed, and dismayed. In moments such as these, our temporal nature is grossly exposed. We are here today and gone tomorrow (2 Peter 3:11).

Natural disasters and threats to our health are two of the most evident depictions of our lack of worldly control.

Three lessons from the coronavirus outbreak

1. We are called to intercede.

If I am completely honest, while pondering the rapidly growing information surrounding the coronavirus, I was convicted.

I had been so wrapped up in concerns about the virus infiltrating the United States, my husband’s risk of exposure through air travel, and general anxieties surrounding my lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the virus, I had forgotten my call to intercession.

As Christians, we are commissioned to pray for our brothers and sisters. First Timothy 2:1 says: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”

The threat of the virus to our country, and, more personally, to my daily living, is a legitimate concern warranting prayer. But what about prayer for the lives who have been so deeply affected by the virus already? What about the families who have lost loved ones, have limited access to health care, and are currently battling the repercussions of the disease, whether in quarantine or otherwise?

The dangers of the virus may perhaps pose less risk than the influenza viruses we face yearly, yet the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus make it much more alarming.

And, beyond the lives already impacted by the malady itself, we must pray for the national and international political figures working tirelessly to contain and combat the illness and for the scientists striving to procure a vaccination and gain greater clarity surrounding the virus.

2. We must cling to God as our foundation.

God is our foundation. No other comfort in this world can sustain us. But God can and he does when we turn to him alone.

Isaiah 28:16 says: “Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold I am the one who has laid a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: “Whoever believes will not be in haste.”’”

Are you turning to God as your tested stone, your sure foundation? Or are you seeking comfort in the news, political announcements, and scientific advances surrounding this infection?

While science may seem a valid place to seek hope, answers that can soothe our souls and quiet our minds, it is in moments such as these that we realize the façade of human-determined certainty.

At present, there is no certainty. There is not one human being who can provide the answers we need to combat the coronavirus and prevent its continued spread.

But the redeeming truth is that God is our rock. He can and will provide the strength, courage, and bravery we need to navigate the uncertainties of this world. We must humbly sit at his feet and allow him to be our cornerstone.

3. Our trust is in the Lord.

Yesterday, I was speaking to a friend traveling on a business trip in Berlin. She is currently pregnant with her second child and anxious to return home.

When met with my immediate concern, she responded: “I am not so much worried about contracting the illness. The people it’s so bad for are people my parents age. But I don’t want to get stuck here.”

First of all, I am in awe of her strength.

Second, what ought to have been a routine work trip turned into a potential extended stay in a foreign country afflicted by an unknown infection.

Again, the world does not offer certainty. Like David in Psalm 56:3–4, we must declare: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”

Where is your trust?

Could the coronavirus be the glue that binds us together?

An election year has a way of highlighting our dissimilarities to a greater degree, further tearing our nation apart on the basis of political divides and divergent beliefs.

Perhaps the surfacing of the coronavirus was timely. It is plausible that the virus provides an opportunity for us all to ponder our lack of immortality and the need for our country, and the world, to put our differences aside and work toward combating the battles of the flesh together.

For there are very few things that craft such an urgent call to action as a worldwide pandemic. It is my hope that the coronavirus be a glue that binds us humbly together and reminds us that we are all working for the good of humankind as a team.

In this time of uncertainty, when the susceptibility of our human bodies to infection and disease is so evident, I invite you to join me in prayerfully seeking a solid foundation in Christ by placing our trust fully in him.

May we pray strength, courage, and discernment over the people who are diligently caring for and representing our country and the countries of others.

May we seek assurance in the solid foundation of Christ, with our feet firmly rooted to the truth of God’s word.

And may our trust be positioned wholly on God. The certainties of this world will leave us grasping for more—simply because they cannot be certain. But Christ offers truth that is assured, truth that will meet us in our weary struggles and breathe new life within our souls.

via As fear of the coronavirus abounds, where is your trust? — Denison Forum

What Lent Is Really about—and How We Miss the Point — Logos Bible Software Blog

By Steven Wedgeworth

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:15–17)

The Church season known as Lent is here again.

Many Christians who did not grow up practicing the liturgical calendar are now becoming very interested in it. Some are madly in love with all things liturgical, seeing Lent as one way to rediscover lost roots. Others are critical of it as faddishness, a sort of picking and choosing of one’s piety according to whatever seems interesting. And then there’s always the perpetual danger of subtle Romanizing.

Lent can be abused in a legalistic way, especially if it is formalized and made into a fixed rule. We should be on guard against this.

Lent is a waste of time and spiritual failure unless it points us to Jesus.

But the basic concept of Lent is repentance, and this is certainly a good thing and something the Church could talk about more.

Like everything connected with liturgy, repentance should be an aid in worship, a way of assisting our thoughts and devotions in focusing on God’s majesty, our sinfulness, and the salvation we have in Jesus Christ.

A proper focus for Lent—and response

What would you think if you saw a man staring at his own glasses? He might be adjusting them or fixing something that had broken. That would make sense. But what if he never seemed to finish? What if he just kept staring and commenting on his glasses, asking other folks to admire his glasses, but never got around to actually wearing them? You’d think he probably didn’t know what glasses were for in the first place or that he had some other serious disorder. You certainly wouldn’t be inspired by the wonderful blessing of cured vision! 

Liturgy works the same way as a pair of glasses. You are not supposed to look at it. Instead you are supposed to look through it to see something else—namely, Jesus. Lent is a waste of time and spiritual failure unless it points us to Jesus. How should it do that? When focusing on repentance, we ought to remember the significance of our sin, the guilt we bear before God, and the great price paid by Jesus on our behalf. We have no hope of atoning for our own sins. That would be insane, an impossibility that would only leave us in perpetual despair.

When personal happiness, the realization of life goals, and fulfillment become our chief goals, then they become replacements for the cross.

No, instead we remember the death of Christ and the curse he bore for us, and—in response to that saving act—we put to death the remaining sin within us to show our gratitude toward Jesus.

Psalm 51 is particularly fitting in this light. You will recall that it is King David’s prayer of repentance after Nathan the prophet convicted him of his sin with Bathsheba. It teaches us about true repentance and forgiveness. Notice that David does not believe that the offering of bulls and goats washes away sin. In fact, they are not even “true sacrifices.” They are only symbols of the sacrifice of praise coming from the human heart:

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. . . . For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. (vv. 6, 10, 16–17)

Those last lines about brokenness are what I wish to focus on. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. This is how we must approach God. And it might sound strange to you, but we have to learn how to be broken and contrite. It does not come naturally. We must cultivate a sense of brokenness in order to worship God in the only way he finds acceptable—with true sacrifices.

Lent and brokenness

The first thing we need to do is identify the broken heart and spirit. This is especially necessary because the modern Church has, in many ways, lost its brokenness. . . . When personal happiness, the realization of life goals, and fulfillment become our chief goals, then they become replacements for the cross. They become idols. And if a broken heart is necessary for offering true sacrifices to God, then any life philosophy that prevents brokenness prevents the true worship of God.

What is this brokenness we need? Psalm 51 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart.” Textually, there’s not much to it. It’s all quite plain. The words for “spirit” and “heart” are used interchangeably to signify the inner man. It all means to bring low and to crush. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and crushed heart.” Broken, broken, and crushed. The term for “contrite” is an amplification of the word “broken.” And so true sacrifices are broken and contrite people

We must be humble. We must think of ourselves as lowly and in need of help. We must be dependent. And during those times when we are none of these things—when we are proud, content with ourselves, independent, and carefree—during those times, God breaks us to bring us back to him. Brokenness produces the true sacrifices of God: the sacrificed person.

That the true man [or woman] of God must be broken is a teaching emphasized throughout both the Old and New Testament. Psalm 34:18 states, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Isaiah writes, “On this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa 66:2). Jesus himself says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . blessed are those who mourn” (Matt 5:3–4). It would be impossible for any sincere reading of the Scriptures to miss this point.

But we do miss it, and that is because we are often looking for something other than what God has to say on this matter. Jesus himself was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isa 53:3). When we seek a Christianity without these markers, we seek a Christianity without Christ.

. . .

Conclusion

Brokenness is a way for God to draw us to himself. He humbles us so that we can believe the truth about ourselves and about him: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom” (Psalm 51:5–6). God is peeling away the skin of our old Adam so that we can better see Jesus.

That’s what a continual broken heart understands. We are always breaking with our old self to be more at one with God in Christ. And we should take comfort in this. Sorrow over our sins is itself a gift of grace. The broken and contrite heart he does not despise. God restores our joy, but it is always the joy of salvation, the joy of being saved from our sins and our sorrows. And so when you bring your sacrifices, offer yourself to God in humility. Don’t make excuses or try to clean yourself up. Just bear your broken spirit. That is a true sacrifice and acceptable worship.

In the coming weeks, whether you formally practice Lent or not, take the opportunity to be broken. Remember your sins. Be honest with yourself. And then repent with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. These offerings are acceptable to God, and through the love of Christ, he will reveal his grace to you.

***

Scripture cited from the New King James Version.

This post is adapted from Wedgewords, “Lent and the Sacrifices of God,” by Steven Wedgeworth (Feb 22, 2015). 

The headings and title of this post are the additions of the editor. The author’s views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife.

Steven Wedgeworth (MDiv, Reformed Theological Seminary) is the Associate Pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is a board member for The Davenant Institute, the founder of The Calvinist International website, and has written for Mere Orthodoxy, The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, The Gospel Coalition Canada, and the Journal of Law and Religion. His most recent publication is an essay in The Lord Is One: Reclaiming Divine Simplicity ed. Minich and Kamel (The Davenant Press, 2019).

via What Lent Is Really about—and How We Miss the Point — Logos Bible Software Blog