Serious Joy

I will again make you dwell in tents.— Hosea 12:9

Listen to this for a proud boast: “Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin” (Hos. 12:8). It was for such proud self-confidence that Israel would be once again removed from its land and suffer Egypt-like bondage. And yet, here Hosea holds out hope for an Egypt-like exodus by promising a new celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles which commemorated that event: “But I am the Lord your God, ever since the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the appointed feast.”

Israel’s festivals were all times of rejoicing, but the Feast of Tabernacles was especially marked by joy (Lev. 23:40; Deut. 16:15). This was partly because the feast celebrated the harvest of corn and grapes, but mainly because, by spending time in homemade tents in the desert, they were reminded of God’s miraculous provision for them when they lived as desert-nomads for forty years. What a comfort Hosea’s promise of restored festivals must have been to God’s people in exile. What hope this holds out to the repentant! God will restore our festivals and our joy if we repent.

Proud unbeliever, you have resisted God and rejected His mercy. You are self-confident and independent. You have no sense of your own sinfulness. But God is bringing you down. Your life has turned sour. You are not so sure of yourself as you once were, and you wonder if there is any hope for one who was so proud and defiant as you were. Be encouraged with this promise of mercy: “But I am the Lord your God, ever since the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the appointed feast.”

Perhaps you are a believer who has been walking in your own strength and at a proud self-sufficient distance from God. But now you are miserable. You wish you could experience total dependence on the Lord again. Listen to God’s gracious promise: “I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the appointed feast.” There is no frivolity or superficiality at the Lord’s feasts; this is serious and substantial joy.


Check out

Blogs 

Charges Dropped Against Planned Parenthood Whistleblower
Here’s some good news:

“Houston prosecutors dropped all charges against Planned Parenthood whistleblower David Daleiden and his partner on Tuesday. Daleiden was the force behind a series of undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood executives conspiring to traffic body parts harvested from aborted babies.”

5 Reasons Christians Neglect Beauty in Theology
“It’s no stretch to argue that the evangelical church has largely neglected theological inquiry into the nature of beauty and aesthetics. Most reflection and writing on these subjects come from professionals in philosophy and in the specialized field of aesthetics. Christians are largely on the sidelines. This should not be.”

14 Rules for Being a Godly Employee | The Cripplegate
“Every once in a while I run into an old paper from college or seminary. Not too long ago I found a little article a professor shared with us that was written by an old pastor. He offered 14 rules that he tried to live by in order to be the best pastor possible. As I looked through his “rules” it was obvious that this didn’t just apply to pastors, but rather it could be applied to any job anywhere.”

How My Special-Needs Sister Teaches Me to Trust God’s Heart | For The Church
“One of the most formidable things that shaped who I am today is my sister, Amanda. She is now 21 years old, reads more books than I do, just graduated high-school, and has Down’s Syndrome. ”

The Psalms in Worship – Place for Truth
“Too many churches never sing the psalms in public worship. Despite the fact the two direct injunctions that relate to singing in the New Testament place psalms at the head of the list of what Christians ought to sing as they ‘make music in [their] heart to the Lord’ (Eph 5.19; Col 3.16), these expressions of praise are strangely absent from many orders of service.”

Before You Post… – Reformation21 Blog

“Criticism is usually given much more freely on the internet than in person. It is one of the chief reasons why the internet seems to generate more heat than light. It is so easy to hit that “post” button when you don’t have to face that person’s reaction. In some ways, the internet can reveal our hearts better than personal interactions. This is why it is very important that we meditate on how to give and receive criticism. Proverbs tells us that the way we receive criticism marks us either as foolish or wise people.”

And another on a similar topic: How Would Jesus Respond Online? | Desiring God

If you find yourself enslaved to your next response, chained by the need to have the next and last word, join me in trying to focus our eyes on Christ who lived in the freedom to remain silent. As we do, perhaps we will be reminded again of who we are in him, and be free enough to invite others — even our accusers and our enemies — with our attitudes and words, to come and enjoy being found in him, too.

Kindle Books

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin  & Lindsay Holcomb $4.99.

The Tender Scar: Life After the Death of a Spouse by by Richard Mabry $1.99.

Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Faith, and Science $1.99.


Christian Worldview Conference at PRTS

Worldview

Today’s Christians live in a culture shaped by a worldview that values tolerance and denies absolute truth—a stark contrast to the biblical worldview. As pilgrims in this world, we face the challenge of living in a society that embraces wickedness more brazenly than ever before. In light of these threats, it is vital that the church bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), standing firm on the truths of God’s Word.

Please consider joining us, then, as we take up the important theme of the beauty and glory of the Christian worldview at the 2016 Puritan Reformed Conference, August 25–27. The church of Jesus Christ must remain steadfast in its conviction that the Lord has provided a better way for mankind, and that way starts and ends in Jesus Christ.

In addition to several PRTS faculty speakers, our guest speakers will include Dr. Derek Thomas, Dr. Brian Cosby, and Dr. Charles Barrett. 

More details and registration here.


Is that God’s roar in the distance?

I will place them in their houses. — Hosea 11:11

God’s judgment of foreign exile for Israel was intended to have the same effect as a lion’s roar. It was to restore the fear of the Lord in them, and then to restore them to their land. As Hosea puts it, “When he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, says the Lord” (Hosea 11:10 –11).

The people of Israel were exiled to Egypt and Assyria because of their spiritual deafness and insensitivity. God said, “I will place them in foreign lands.” There they would hear God’s roar in this painful providence and begin to tremble before Him again, as a dove would upon hearing a lion nearby. Trembling is mentioned twice (v. 10, 11) in order to emphasize the predominant characteristic of God’s repentant people. This double trembling at God’s word would hasten their flight from captivity. Having returned to God, He would again “place them in their houses,” the place of security, comfort, and rest.

Our churches and nations are ripe for God’s roar. We have covered our ears and hardened our hearts. The fear of God is not before our eyes. Sometimes we hear the divine roar in the distance through terrorist attacks, floods, tsunamis, or earthquakes. We stop for a moment, listen for a moment, fear for a moment, then get on with our lives. Gradually, we grow harder and harder. How near does the roar have to get before we tremble as a bird, until we fly to Him as a dove? Oh, for more trembling in God’s people!

God’s roars are not intended to frighten us away from Him but to draw us to Him. Perhaps God is roaring in your life and you are beginning to tremble before His omnipotence and your impotence. Your life is all upside down, and everything is falling apart. May your trembling draw you out of sin and its disordering consequences to Christ and His order-restoring salvation. He can make all things well again for you. Peace, harmony, safety, and a sense of belonging are restored. “I will place them in their houses.”


Check Out

Blogs

The Impassibility of God Podcast | Place for Truth
“This week on Theology on the Go the topic will be the impassibility of God.  This podcast is the third in a series focusing on the doctrine of the Trinity.  In light of the recent Trinitarian controversy, Theology on the Go believes that a series like this is an important service to the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So, grab that cup of coffee and meet us at the table!”

Pray for the Police | Jarvis Williams, Reformed African American Network
“Christians, don’t follow the ways of the world during these national times of civil unrest and racial division. Always act in ways that are in step with the whole gospel of Jesus Christ when correcting injustice and working for justice for all people.”

The 5 Truths Stay-at-Home and Working Moms Can Agree On | Katelyn Beaty, ChristianityToday.com
“If Christ has ‘made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ (Eph. 2), then surely he has united the breast-feeders and the bottle-feeders, the career professionals and the caretakers. So in the spirit of the unity that mothers already have in Christ, let’s remember what holds us together.”

Stop Trying to Make the Bible Relevant to Teenagers | Eric McKiddie, TGC
“So let us learn to wield this sword in such a way that our young people see it glimmer, hear it ring, and feel the healing that comes when it cuts. Then they will want to start swinging it, too.”

Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People | Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
Although it’s over-simplistic to trace Trump’s popularity solely to poor white people (there are many middle class people supporting him too), if you want to begin to understand Trump, you need to read this article.

Five Sources of Our Racial Shame | Kristin Tabb, Desiring God
“Whether our racism is directed toward whites, blacks, or other ethnicities, it flows from ignorance, apathy, fear, judgment, and self-righteousness.”

Doctors Live on the Brink of Death | Kathryn Butler, Desiring God
“The physician suicide rate is twice that of the general population. This is no surprise. Without Christ, the daily fodder of medicine crushes the heart. Medical training mandates practitioners witness sin in graphic detail, yet the textbooks, instruments, and decades of study offer no context for forgiveness. Joseph understood God’s will at work in the face of evil (Genesis 50:20); medical training demands its practitioners confront evil, yet heaves culpability upon them.”

7 Theological Issues Confronting the Local Church | Jason K. Allen, For The Church
“In the spirit of Luther, the church—and especially those who lead it—must continually ask itself, ‘where is the battle raging? Which truths are under assault? Against what attacks should Christians mobilize and engage?’ When considered in this light, seven theological challenges surface for the church to confront.”

Kindle Deals


What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung ($4.99)


The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1: Family Letters, 1905-1931 by C. S. Lewis ($1.99)


A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope by J. I. Packer ($2.99)


Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Jeannette Dewyze and Allan Mallinger ($1.99). Not a Christian book but gives important insight into a common problem, especially as a cause of depression.


Our Only Hope: God is Not Like Us

I will not execute the fierceness of my anger.— Hosea 11:9

What is your best hope of salvation? Some people hope that God will be just like them (Ps. 50:21). They hope that God is a compromiser like them, that He is a kind of changeable character, and they just hope that they will catch Him on a good day rather than a bad day.

But God says our hope should instead be based on His unlikeness to man. “I will not execute the fierceness of my anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of you: and I will not enter into the city.” It is God’s dissimilarity that is our best and only hope. “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6).

Do you really want someone like yourself to be your only hope? What are you like? Are you not unpredictable, capricious, and changeable? Do you not judge one way one day, and another the next? Have you ever been fiercely angry and yet possessed the self-control not to execute the fierceness of your anger? Have you ever found a technique to turn away and exhaust your anger? No, you haven’t; because you are man and not God. Too much weakness and too little wisdom means that you will usually execute the fierceness of your anger.

Only God has the power and the wisdom to find a way of not executing the fierceness of His anger upon you. His power and His wisdom is found in Christ crucified. He is the power and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). Having executed the fierceness of His anger upon Christ, God can then turn to you and say, “I will not execute the fierceness of my anger.”

And because He is God and not man, once He executes His anger, it is gone. He does not harbor a grudge or bear secret and bitter resentment against you. He is God and not man. Let God’s dissimilarity be your hope, your only hope of salvation.