Biblical Stargazing

Despite the column inches given to daily horoscopes, there’s only one example of stars ever being used to direct human lives and predict the future…and it’s in the Bible.

Yes, in Matthew 2, God sent a star to guide wise men and point them to the future plan of God for the salvation of sinners. As we gaze at this star with these wise men we learn six lessons:

  1. Jesus fulfills prophecy
  2. Jesus saves sinners
  3. Jesus gladdens the heart
  4. Jesus humbles the wise
  5. Jesus opens wallets
  6. Jesus arouses hatred

Read the rest of the post at Christianity.com


Check out

Re-engineer your morning ritual
I was thoroughly impressed with Michael Hyatt’s early morning ritual. I doubt any of us have the discipline to copy Michael, but I think we can all pick up some tips to getting a better start to our day.

Christian…and depressed
Why these words shouldn’t be surprising, and what we can do to help.

I am not a depressed person
Michael Patton writes honestly and helpfully about his own struggle with depression.

Move forward into hope
By way of contrast, Paul Tautges highlights a new book by Joni on Gaining a hopeful spirit.

Pre-marital counseling
Ron Edmondson prioritizes seven areas to cover in preparing for marriage.

If you’re serious about ideas, get serious about blogging
And if you need some help, here’s a great video from Michael Hyatt on how to set up a blog in 20 mins.


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.


Two (more) helps to believing the Gospel of Done

A couple of days a go we considered four hindrances to believing the Gospel of Done. Yesterday I suggested two helps, and today I’d like to propose another two.

Re-study Salvation

The Apostle Peter wrote that the angels desire to study salvation (1 Pet. 1:12). In his commentary, Grudem portrays these angels as standing on their tip-toes, craning their necks, trying to peer into the phenomenon of God’s saving sinners by grace. If angels who don’t need salvation have such a joy-filled interest in it, how much more should we, whose whole life and eternity depends on it?

Few of us can remember much of what we learned in High School. Some of us can hardly remember what we learned yesterday. However, it’s no big deal if I can’t remember the French for frog, or the number of ions in sodium phosphate. I can actually survive quite well without that knowledge. But I cannot survive or thrive if I forget the Gospel (Heb. 2:1-3).

That’s why we need to be constantly studying salvation. End-times prophecy, combatting the cults, church history, biblical languages, ethics, practical Christian living, etc, all have their place, but they must never displace salvation as our favorite topic of study.

It’s a vast subject with numerous ways of looking at it: justification, redemption, victory, reconciliation, atonement, adoption, etc. Perhaps you don’t recognize or understand some of these words, Yet if you’re a Christian you’ve experienced them! So why not take one of them every year, and explore it through sermons, books, articles, etc., and experience angelic delight as you expand your mind and heart with the joy of your salvation.

And don’t let the study of these salvation truths distract or divert you from Jesus. The great doctrines of the Bible are like majestic royal robes. But they must not be studied in the closet. Take them off the hangers and clothe Jesus with them. They fit Him perfectly and beautifully. It’s Jesus who justifies, it’s Jesus who redeems, it’s Jesus who reconciles, etc.

Repent immediately

So we believe in Jesus and rejoice in His salvation. Then we sin; again.

What now?

Obvious isn’t it, we need to do something good to make up for it and then bring it to the table to ensure our forgiveness. Or maybe we should just set a reasonable period of time, a healthy and respectful delay, before confessing. Or perhaps we manufacture some tears and some really deep guilt pangs in order to prove how genuinely sorry we are. We need to do some deed, do some delay, or do some guilt, don’t we?

Do we?

No!

We need Jesus’ DONE! again. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Don’t do anything. Don’t do a deed, don’t do a delay, don’t do a despair. Do nothing and turn to Christ’s Done! Confess your sin without delay. Don’t wait even a minute. Don’t carry one miserable sin for one miserable second. Immediate sin, immediate confession, immediate forgiveness, immediate joy.

Begin and end the day with “Done!”

“Beep, beep, beep, beep….thump!”

The day’s agenda floods your mind and twists your stomach. So much to do. Too much to do.

Whisper, “It is finished!”

Repeat. “It is finished!”

Louder. “It is finished!”

Whatever you will complete or not today, rest in the only work that will never need to be done again. Rest in the fact that Jesus has done the most impossible job in the world, done it perfectly, and made it available. Take it. Enjoy it. Build your life on it. Let it change your whole view of your life and work. Use His work to put your work into perspective. Believe His work is counted as yours. Despite all that you fear and dread about the next 10 hours – a critical boss, a vicious competitor, a looming deadline, a complaining customer, an impossible sales target, unrelenting children, monotonous drudge – you have Christ’s perfect work credited to your account. Yes, it’s counted as yours, as if you did it. Are you humble enough to receive it?

And as you re-set the alarm clock at the end of each day of incomplete lists and unfinished business, rest again in Christ’s “It is finished.” The most important work has been done and covers all our laziness, all our foolishness, all our time-wasting, all our bad decisions, all our temper tantrums, all our losses, all our everything.

Christ offers us His perfect C.V. and says “Take this and put your name on it. It’s yours. Let this satisfy you, let this fulfill you. Let this calm your mornings and soothe your evenings!” It is finished!


Check out

We’re facing a moral cliff
In more ways than one.

Pilgrim’s Progress for the iPad
Looks like a good use of a Sunday afternoon.

Lament
Worth a look for the graph comparing the content of the Psalms to hymnals.

Don’t despise the day of small things
Gloria Furman doing what she does best, bringing Gospel refreshment into the gritty realities of everyday life.

Six reasons why Tabletalk is a great gift
How would you like to bless someone every month in 2013?

Macworld: Annual Editor’s Choice
WARNING: Severe risk of smashing the 10th commandment in pieces.


Two Helps to Believing the Gospel of Done

Yesterday we looked at four hindrances to believing the Gospel of Done, hindrances that keep us in miserable fear and darkness, and away from the joyful rest and peace of Christ’s finished work. However, God has provided four helps to get us there and keep us there.  We’ll look at the first two today, and the remaining two tomorrow.

Re-believe the Gospel of Done.

The remedy for unbelief is belief. The Gospel of Done must be believed again, and again, and again.

And it must be preached again, and again, and again. Too often it is assumed. “Well, we all know that already.” But do we? Does the world?

Why don’t you take a survey, with a sample of unbelievers and believers, and ask them: “What is a Christian? What is the Christian faith? How does someone become a Christian?”

You’ll be stunned at how much misunderstanding and ignorance there is. The vast majority of people think that you become a Christian via do’s and don’ts, and you stay a Christian in a similar way. Little wonder that so few are attracted to our churches or that Christians experience so little joy and zest.

God’s Law and conviction of sin have an important place in our lives and ministries. They show us our desperate need of outside help. However, the greatest emphasis of our lives and churches must be the divine Done not the divine Demand. God’s deeds, God’s acts, must be kept ever in the foreground.

Our works are always waiting in the wings, looking for any opportunity to run onstage and replace “Done” with multiple do’s, don’ts, shoulds, oughts, and musts. Hogging the spotlight, their ugly costumes, stumbled lines, and ham acting changes the whole mood of the show, silencing the applause, emptying the theatre, arousing the ire of the critics, and bringing down the curtain on any hope of a long and prosperous run.

The most successful Christian lives are those that manage to keep the spotlight on Jesus Christ, the incarnation of the divine “Done!” But how do I get in to enjoy this show?

Faith.

Faith in Jesus is the entrance fee. Faith carpets the foyer. Faith unfolds the seat. Faith’s program notes list Him as the only actor in this one-man-show. Faith’s spotlight fixes on Him alone and refuses to allow anyone or anything else onstage. Faith’s ears hear the show’s final line, “It is finished” and says “Amen!” Faith’s hands clap, applaud, and praise Christ alone. The noisy and cantankerous old critic, Mr Conscience, is nowhere to be found in this scene of unmixed peace and joy. No encores are called for. None are required. It is done. It is finished. The End!

Re-focus your Bible Reading

Here’s another survey question for you: What’s the Bible all about?

Most popular answer: “How to help us live better lives.”

In other words, it’s all about ME. I am the main subject of the Bible. Hate to disillusion you – no, actually I’m glad to – but the Bible is all about God. He is the subject, and the object, and every other grammatical term in between. As a book about God, our first question when reading it is not, “How does this apply to me?” but “What does this reveal about God?”

Although I sometimes imagine that if only I can get the whole world, including God, to orbit around me as the center of the universe I will be happy, that’s the way to end up in a black hole.

By putting God’s Word and works at the center of our religious experience, especially of our personal Bible reading, we will begin to orbit around the heat and light of His divine Son.