Tag Archives: devotional

JRF

JRF’s #11 – In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson

For the past few months I have been reading a few pages of this book every morning when I have extra quiet time. It has proven to be one of my favorite books of its type. Short chapters filled with truth. Each chapter can be read in 5 minutes or less, yet there is much to chew on and think about and apply.

Ferguson lays the book out in 6 parts:

I. The Word Became Flesh (Christology)
II. The Heart of the Matter (The Gospel)
III. The Spirit of Christ (Pneumatology)
IV. The Privileges of Grace (Sanctification)
V. A Life of Wisdom (Discipleship)
VI. Faithful to the End (Perseverance)

Although each of these sections has their own specific focus, they all flow out of the central theme of the sufficiency and glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Throughout the book I was impressed and helped by the way that Ferguson not only didn’t avoid, but embraced and applied difficult doctrines such as limited atonement, predestination, total depravity, suffering, and the perseverance of the saints in a pastoral, concise, and clear way.

I recommend this book for anyone wanting to be encouraged to grow in their love of Christ.

“Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been “good enough”…Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners.”

“There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It had to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin. He was not concieved in the womb of Mary for those who have done their best, but for those who know that their best is “like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6) – far from good enough – and that in their flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom 7:18). He was not sent to be the source of good experiences, but to suffer the pangs of hell in order to be our Savior.”

“Only a sinless Savior is able to die for our sins. He cannot die for our sins if He must die for His own.”

“Say this to yourself when you rise each day, when you struggle, or when you lay your head down sadly on your pillow at night: ‘Lord Jesus, You are still the same, and always will be.’”

JRF

JRF’s #10 and #32 – Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland

I reread this book with our community group and we just finished.  It was encouraging to see the group be refreshed, challenged, and refocused with the Christ exalting message that I had been blessed with when I first read the book.

Some books just come into your hands at the right season of your life and say exactly what needs to be said.  In “Uneclipsing the Son”, Rick Holland doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been already said, nor are the truths that he expounds truths that shouldn’t be heard and dwelt upon in any season of a Christ lover’s life.  Yet food is all the more tasty when one is especially hungry for it.  I  came upon this feast at a time of spiritual hunger.  It wasn’t until I started reading this book however that I realized just how hungry I really was.

Holland uses the metaphor of a solar eclipse to expose the fact that many of us (all of us at some point) who follow Christ often live in the “spiritual gloom” created when lesser bodies drift between us and the brilliance of Christ’s light.  We take our eyes off our Savior King and we become accustomed to the hollow shadow of a loveless faith.

The simple message of this book echoes Hebrews 12  ”…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

I commend it to all who feel stuck in the bog of spiritual apathy and the weariness of living outside of a clear vision of Christ’s brilliance.

“There is a grave danger of mistaking the shadowland of the eclipsed Son of God for the broad daylight that the redeemed were redeemed to enjoy, thinking all along that this treadmill of Christian engagements, polite Christian conversations, and good Christian behavior is the abundant life Jesus came to earth to deliver and declare.”

 

“We must learn to stare at the Son of God such that we are blinded to all the allurements of the world!”

 

 

JRF

JRF’s #16 – Jesus Himself by Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray was a pastor, author, and missions leader in South Africa around the turn of the 20th century.  In this collection of sermons Murray compels his hearers and readers to move beyond mere knowledge about Jesus to a heart satisfied with nothing less than the living and present Jesus Himself.

The first half focuses on the disciples’ encounter with the risen Jesus on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24).  Murray draws out four stages of the Christian life from this account.  The first stage is that of the sad and troubled heart.  This is the heart that sees Christ dead on the cross – and is rightly sorrowed at his death and our sinfulness that required that death – but fails to see that Christ is no longer hanging lifeless on the tree but is risen and living.  Next comes the heart that is slow to believe – those who have heard the Good News about Christ but think they still need to feel something or do something more to be able to fully commit to believing.  They have yet to realize that Christ can not be discovered, but must be revealed and simply believed.  Thirdly, the burning heart.  This is the person who has had one or multiple experiences or tastes of the living Christ, but is trusting and chasing after the experience and not Christ.  They have felt the glow and warmth of Christ’s light, but have yet to see Christ Himself.  Finally the true Christian comes to rest with a satisfied heart.  This is the point at which those who have been drawn to Christ finally see Him revealed as the risen Savior and King that He is and find his joy in His presence alone.

Part two exposits Christ’s promise to be with His followers “always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).  Murray declares that this promise “is the secret of the Christian’s strength and joy”.  He points out that by ascending to Heaven and sending the Holy Spirit, Christ is able to do what He was not able to do while on earth – be in intimate fellowship with every believer throughout the world.

This book makes a good companion to Rick Holland’s Uneclipsing the Son which I read earlier this year.  Both books have helped grow and spur on a deep, unshakable satisfaction in King Jesus.

“Oh, the difference between a burning heart, which becomes cold after a time, which comes by fits and starts, and the blessed revelation of Jesus Himself as my Saviour, taking charge of me and blessing me and keeping me every day!”

“Jesus, reveal Thyself that we may know Thee Thyself.  We ask not only to drink of the Living Water, we want the Fountain.”

 

 

 

You can get it free for the kindle here

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JRF’s #11 – The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn

Webster’s dictionary describes a paradox as “a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true”

The concept of boldly proclaiming truth all the while being gracious with those who reject it seems to fit that definition precisely.

Walk the path of following Christ for any length of time and you will experience the tension of the Grace and Truth Paradox.  Try to share the Gospel with an unbeliever or confront your believing friend about an unrepentant sin and you will feel the tug to either sugarcoat the truth or harshly hurl it down from your thundercloud.  Whole denominations and sub-denominations of Christianity have resulted from this tension and a failure to maintain Biblical balance.  But this is not a balance of 50/50 but 100/100.  Grace and Truth are not in competition with each other, but Biblically speaking, are in fact mutually dependent.

When we look at Christ we see Grace and Truth perfectly and harmoniously embodied (John 1:14,17).  In this short book Randy Alcorn explores some of the reasons why we so easily fail to maintain and show grace and truth simultationeously, warns us of the fallout caused by sacrificing one for the other, and points us to Jesus as the source, motivation, and power for faithfully living out both.

Alcorn has a way of making difficult concepts palatable, especially through real life examples of how the grace and truth paradox has played out in his own life.  I found myself convicted and encouraged many times while reading this.

I trust you will as well.

JRF

JRF’s #6 – To the Glory of God by James Montgomery Boice

 

I don’t think I need to tell you that Paul’s letter to the Romans is an important book.  It is also very intimidating – as God’s Word should be.

This 40 day devotional taken from sermons by the late James Montgomery Boice is a helpful tool to begin mining the countless jewels Romans has to offer.

We read through this together as a community group and it was exciting to see how every week our eyes were being opened to a new aspect of the amazing Good News of Christ, regardless of how familiar each person was with Paul’s letter.

This collection of excerpts from Boice’s sermon series, along with the acompanying Scripture passage and an application question was the perfect portion for a daily diet of meditating on God’s glorious Gospel and its implications for our daily life.

This is a flyover of the mountain range that is the book of Romans.  But the view of the majestic snow cap peaks is more than enough to lure this traveller into a lifetime of exploring the valleys, ravines and cliff faces of these Himalayas of Scripture.

“A reigning monarch is a triumphant monarch.  If grace is reinging in us, grace is advancing its conquest over sin.  Christians sin. But they are not defeated by sin, and they do not continue in it…The goal of grace is to destroy and vanquish sin.”

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