Archive for March, 2009
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Today I sat at work, organizing someone’s account and the areas their limousine company services. I don’t know why, but I began to have all kinds of thoughts while reading through the names:
Ninevah… I wonder who decided on that name in the naming committee? Were they expecting the need to repent? Were they grateful for some graciousness they had experienced? Were they expecting to get whacked at any moment?
Moscow, NY… I wonder if there were any jokes thrown around at the height of the Cold War. Like, someone walking up in a Russian accent and saying: “Yes, I am from Moscow!” Or maybe the local police was nicknamed the KGB.
Maine, NY… I wonder if someone thought that they were being original? Or maybe it was founded before the colony of Maine.
Poughkeepsie… say what? Sounds like the pet name some woman gives the man that she’s totally infatuated with but knows nothing about. Or perhaps the name of a lap dog.
Shickshinny… not by the skin of my chinny chin chin?
Strange names. Names that have history and bring up memories and connotations in my mind. Some just by the way they sound cause my mind to wander. Maybe I just need to stop it. Or maybe redirect my mind. All these cities, all these histories. I wonder… will the New Jerusalem have a history? Or will it be a blank slate which its inhabitants and King will be able to write what they will?
Strange thoughts I have.
Instead of using all our powers to convict and change the sinner, while God stands back as a gentleman quietly waiting for the spiritual corpse, His declared spiritual enemy, to invite Him into his heart, let’s preach the Gospel like gentlemen, trying to persuade but knowing we can’t convert. Then let’s stand back while God uses all of His powers to convict and convert and change the sinner. Then we’ll see clearly just who has the power to call the dead to life.
– Mark Dever, The Deliberate Church
A profound thought. Augustine talks here about his mother’s intense, life-long prayer that he would be converted:
I see not then how she should have been healed, had such a death of mine stricken through the bowels of her love. And where would have been those her so strong and unceasing prayers, unintermitting to Thee alone? But wouldest Thou, God of mercies, despise the contrite and humbled heart of that chaste and sober widow, so frequent in almsdeeds, so full of duty and service to Thy saints, no day intermitting the oblation at Thine altar, twice a day, morning and evening, without any intermission, coming to Thy church, not for idle tattlings and old wives’ fables; but that she might hear Thee in Thy discourses, and Thou her in her prayers. Couldest Thou despise and reject from Thy aid the tears of such an one, wherewith she begged of Thee not gold or silver, nor any mutable or passing good, but the salvation of her son’s soul? Thou, by whose gift she was such? Never, Lord.
Yea, Thou wert at hand, and wert hearing and doing, in that order wherein Thou hadst determined before that it should be done. Far be it that Thou shouldest deceive her in Thy visions and answers, some whereof I have, some I have not mentioned, which she laid up in her faithful heart, and ever praying, urged upon Thee, as Thine own handwriting. For Thou, because Thy mercy endureth for ever, vouchsafest to those to whom Thou forgivest all of their debts, to become also a debtor by Thy promises.
– St. Augustine, The Confessions
A debtor to His promises. Think about it:
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…
– Hebrews 6:17-20a
What a promise. God became a debtor to Himself. To fulfill His promises to us. Thank God.
Just a couple thoughts while writing a survey exposition of 1 Peter, thinking about 5:5-9:
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
These verses have long been applied in sermons to individual Chrisitans. And I agree, each one of us should humble ourselves that we might receive grace. But I don’t think that’s merely what Peter has in mind here. He pictures a whole church of individuals, each one in humility receiving God’s grace… and what happens then? The whole congregation is able to resist the devil. There’s no chinks in the armor. Everyone is acting in humility. Everyone is seeking each other’s good.
How much glory would God receive from such a congregation?