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    Do It Yourself (2)

    . . . bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . . —2 Corinthians 10:5

    Determinedly Discipline Other Things. This is another difficult aspect of the strenuous nature of sainthood. Paul said, according to the Moffatt translation of this verse, “.…

    Brightly Shining

    In what’s considered one of the greatest Christian classics, Mere Christianity, British novelist, poet, academic, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis wrote: “There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus, if you have really handed yourself over to Him (Jesus), it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.”

    Do It Yourself (1)

    . . . casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God . . . —2 Corinthians 10:5

    Determinedly Demolish Some Things. Deliverance from sin is not the same as deliverance from human nature. There are things in human nature, such as prejudices, that…

    Where’s God?

    Since ancient times, faithful Christians have spoken about what John of the Cross called the “dark night of the soul”. This “dark night” descends upon even the most faithful believers, upon those who have walked with God for years. In this dark night, believers can feel spiritually dry for unusually long periods of time, as if they’re just going through the motions of discipleship. It can feel as if God has refused to show up, as if He’s missing in action.

    In Progress or Completed?

    It’s satisfying to finish a job. Each month, for instance, one of my job responsibilities gets moved from one category to another, from “In Progress” to “Completed.” I love clicking that “Completed” button. But last month when I clicked it, I thought, If only I could overcome rough spots in my faith so easily! It can seem like the Christian life is always in progress, never completed.

    Then I remembered Hebrews 10:14. It describes how Christ’s sacrifice redeems us totally. So in one important sense, that “completed button” has been pressed for us. Jesus’ death did for us what we couldn’t do for…

    Healing Flood

    I’ve always loved a good thunderstorm. As kids, whenever a storm was truly incredible—with booming thunder and buckets of heavy rain pounding down—my siblings and I would make a mad dash around the outside of our house, slipping and sliding along the way. When it was time to go back inside, we were soaked to the bone.

    It was an exhilarating taste—for just for a few minutes—of being immersed in something so powerful we couldn’t quite tell whether we were having fun or terrified.

    This picture comes to mind when, as in Psalm 107, Scripture compares God’s restoration to a barren wilderness…

    Becoming Entirely His

    Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing —James 1:4

    Many of us appear to be all right in general, but there are still some areas in which we are careless and lazy; it is not a matter of sin, but the remnants of our carnal life that tend to make us careless. Carelessness is an insult to the Holy Spirit. We should have no carelessness about us either in the way we worship God, or even in the way we eat and drink.

    Do You See Jesus in Your Clouds?

    In the Bible clouds are always associated with God. Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have no faith. “The clouds are the dust of His feet” (Nahum 1:3).

    God’s Purpose or Mine?

    He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side… —Mark 6:45

    We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the…

    Setting Our Children Free

    When I graduated from university, I enrolled at a Bible college that was considered unacceptable by pastors who were friends of my dad (also a pastor). Some of the leaders criticized me for my choice while others looked with disdain on my dad because of my decision. In that circle, there was pressure to conform to the group’s opinion (always cast as God’s opinion).

    Perfect Imperfection

    A college professor of mine, picking up on my perfectionism-induced procrastination, gave me some wise advice. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” he said, explaining that striving for perfect performance can prevent the risks necessary for growth. Accepting that my work would always be imperfect would give me the freedom to never stop growing.

    The apostle Paul explained an even more profound reason to let go of our own efforts to perfect ourselves: it can blind us to our need for Christ.

    Paul had learned this the hard way. After years striving to perfectly obey God’s law, encountering Jesus changed…

    His Nature and Our Motives

    The characteristic of a disciple is not that he does good things, but that he is good in his motives, having been made good by the supernatural grace of God. The only thing that exceeds right-doing is right-being. Jesus Christ came to place within anyone who would let Him a new heredity that would have a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees.

    Sanctification (2)

    The Life Side. The mystery of sanctification is that the perfect qualities of Jesus Christ are imparted as a gift to me, not gradually, but instantly once I enter by faith into the realization that He “became for [me] . . . sanctification . . . .” Sanctification means nothing less than the holiness of Jesus becoming mine and being exhibited in my life.

    Sanctification (1)

    The Death Side. In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Sanctification requires our coming to the place of death, but many of us spend so much time there that we become morbid. There is always a tremendous battle before sanctification is realized— something within us pushing with resentment against the demands of Christ.

    The Doorway to the Kingdom

    Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain. What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possibly come close to reaching it? I would be happier if I never knew it. What good is there in telling me to be what I can never be— to be “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8), to do more than my duty, or to be completely devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as my Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of a lofty ideal which only leads to despair.

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