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Is it Any Wonder They Call it… Amazing Grace – a Ragamuffin Blog

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Not Because of Our Righteousness, But Because of Your Great Mercy

Read Daniel 9:1-19

Pray

The Story of Israel

Abraham – Isaac – Jacob

Moses – Exodus – Promised Land

Judges – United Kingdom – Divided Kingdom

Manasseh – He rebuilt worship centers to false gods His father had destroyed.  He burned his son as a human sacrifice to a false god.  His reign was full of brutality and bloodshed – and he led the people to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.

I know what you are thinking – it is hard to relate to

Story from Jeremiah 42FF

Jeremiah 42:1-16     Vote

Jeremiah 43:1-4

Sin says – I know what’s best for me  –  I will provide for my own needs – I cannot trust God’s provision – I will not trust God’s promises – I will trust what I know and can see and control –

This is represented in our sins – In our addictions we trust our own provision for our needs rather than God’s.  In our fear we doubt God.  In our lusts for entertainment and sex and money and power and esteem we doubt that God is enough to satisfy

At its root, Sin is not the surface actions of idol worship and pornography addiction – at its core the heart of sin is the same for every sinful action.  Namely It is the rejection of the person and provision of God.  Sin is the exaltation of self – and reliance on self (Pride) and the rejection of God himself because it does not believe that God is enough to satisfy our longings (Unbelief)

Pride and Unbelief – two sides of the same coin

Daniel is reflecting on the long history of his people and their unbelief that has led to this place.  And as he prays from his heart he expresses at least 3 truths – three realities – about himself and God. 

Now the people in the bible were not perfect people by any stretch but scripture says these things were written for our learning.  And I think we have some valuable awakening insights from Daniel’s prayer.

 

  1. He admits guilt
    1. Admit – Dan 9:5 – 7a (Though Open Shame)
      1. Pain of Hiding sin – Psalm 32:1-5 – My Story
        1. Quote: “Confession is like a boil finally bursting – painful and relieving.

Receiving forgiveness is like a first breath of fresh sea air for one who has always lived at a garbage dump.”

 

  1. Life of confession
    1. I John 1:8-9 – If we say we have no sin…
    2. James 5:16 – Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

 

  1. We, Our, Us – 34+ Times – VS 20 “My Sin”
    1. Ezekiel 14:14 – Noah, Job and Daniel Righteous guys
    2. No recorded sin
  • BUT he includes himself
    1. He recognizes himself in light of the righteousness of God
    2. He identifies with God’s people
      1. I Cor 12:26 – If one member suffers, all suffer together

 

  1. APP: In the battle against sin we need to
    1. Admit our own sin
    2. Fight for our brothers and sisters
  • Life at GHC – Excited – Culture of Confession – Turn faces to God – Mentor – Friend Protege

 

  1. He agrees that God’s actions against the nation are righteous – Dan 9:12, 14
    1. We live in a time when the culture and even the church at times does not appreciate nor believe in the idea of a God who causes calamity – CS Lewis Megaphone

 

  1. Not every calamity is judgement for sin (Job) but every calamity is superintended by God to accomplish what he desires – and for those who are his children every circumstance that you experience will be made to serve God’s good purposes for you and we are called to rejoice in our trials trusting that God is at work in them. Romans 8:28 and James 1

 

  1. Sometimes, as in this case, the calamity is due to sin.

 

  1. I believe if we lose the Holy, Awesome and fearsome righteousness of God – and take away the justice of his judgements we not only do damage to his holiness we destroy the meaning of Grace

 

  1. Daniel here agrees that the calamity is from the Lord and that the Lord is righteous to have brought it.

 

  1. The purpose of the Lord when he brings correction for sin – Amos 4:6-13

 

  1. We do well in the midst of calamity to turn our faces to Lord and say “Lord – what are you saying to me in this? – Lord – what are you teaching me? Lord – try me and see if there is any grievous way in my and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

  1. Daniel appeals to the mercy of God in light of his unrighteousness– Dan 9:17-18
    1. ILL: Proverbial hand in the cookie jar – Lord Paddles – Exiles – Try to put cookie back together

 

  1. We are NOT at any time from cradle to grave, from unbelieving to justified to glorified – at no time are we saved by works.

 

  1. We in the church get it at conversion —– BUT once believers we often revert back to works. 
    1. ILL: The enemy lands a haymaker and some sin you thought you were over levels you – How do you react?  I’ll fix it – Rocky  YOU CAN’T DO IT
    2. Paul Addresses this in Galatians 3:1-5

QUOTE:  Jerry Bridges Transforming Grace: So what kind of bankruptcy did we declare? To use the business analogy, did we file under chapter 7 or chapter 11? Was it permanent or temporary? I suspect most of us would say we declared permanent bankruptcy. Having trusted in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, we realized we could not add any measure of good works to what He has already done. We believe He completely paid our debt of sin and secured for us the gift of eternal life. There is nothing more we can do to earn our salvation, so using the business analogy, we would say we filed permanent bankruptcy.

However, I think most of us actually declared temporary bankruptcy. Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us to heaven, but we do think they earn God’s blessings in our daily lives.

After we become Christians we begin to put away our more obvious sins. We also start attending church, put money in the offering plate, and maybe join a small group Bible study. We see some positive change in our lifestyle, and we begin to feel pretty good about ourselves. We are now ready to emerge from bankruptcy and pay our own way in the Christian life.

Then the day comes when we fall on our face spiritually. We lapse back into an old sin, or we fail to do what we should have done. Because we think we are now on our own, paying our own way, we assume we have forfeited all blessings from God for some undetermined period of time. Our expectation of God’s blessing depends on how well we feel we are living the Christian life. We declared temporary bankruptcy to get into His kingdom, so now we think we can and must pay our own way with God. We were saved by grace, but we are living by performance.

  1. Daniel, of all people, could have said I come to you because I’ve got it together, but he doesn’t and he gets it right when he says “We don’t present our pleas to you because of our righteousness.” And then he adds “But because of your great mercy” Dan 9:18b

 

  1. Conclusion – 3 potential responses

 

  1. MERCY!! Daniel is in exile his homeland destroyed – Some of you are tempted to say with those who fled to Egypt – What Mercy?  God has allowed….  How can you say God is merciful? 
    1. Hasn’t the Lord be longsuffering towards you? Has not the Lord treated you better than you deserve?  Has not the Lord patiently pursued you and warned you and wooed you?  Why not surrender to His mercy right now?  Why not lay down your arms – acknowledge your guilt and run to his grace?

 

  1. Mercy… I’ve gone too far – I’ve failed too many times – I don’t deserve his mercy. I acknowledge my guilt but until I get it together I can’t look him in the face.
    1. Billy Graham and Tullian Picture
    2. True Repentance springs out of trusting His promises
      1. God loves to restore – Jeremiah 29:10-14 –
      2. Psalm 30:5 “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping my tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.   In His chastening he is treating us like beloved sons
      3. Psalm 103:10-12 “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
      4. HOW does he do this? By placing your sin – its curse – its condemnation – its judgement – its darkness – its defeat and despair through the hands and feet of the Lamb on the Cross – Jesus Christ.  “All we like sheep have gone astray we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
      5. Are you looking for hope? Are you looking to be restored?  Do you long for more transformation into the image of Jesus?  There is but one way and it is by faith in the grace, mercy and kindness of our Savior that he demonstrated so magnificently at the cross and that he shows you in his day by day mercy towards you.  Lift up your face to Him and in humility freely acknowledge your sin and in faith embrace HIM as life.  Humility and Faith two sides of the same coin.  Faith in His Grace is the only solution to sin.

 

  1. Last response – Billy Graham ended almost every sermon he preached with these words “Just as I am – without one Plea!! But that thy blood was shed for me and that you bid me come to thee – Oh Lamb of God I come.

 

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What is the Christian Gospel?

 

 

sunset.jpg

What is the Gospel?

“God is Holy” – God is perfect in all of his attributes – glorious in all that he does. He is set apart – unique – His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He dwells in pure radiant unapproachable light. Nothing and no one can stand in His presence.

“We are not Holy” – We are messed up people. We lie. We cheat. We lust. We steal. We are angry. We hold grudges. We are selfish. We are arrogant. We gossip. We do not honor God. We do not love God.

“The Penalty for Sin is Death” – That’s bad news for everyone reading this, because we are all sinners – God doesn’t weigh our “good” and our “bad.” He declares that if we have ever violated his holy law in one place we stand guilty of violating all of His law and are subject to condemnation. We have violated in many places and our just penalty is eternal death in hell. Don’t let yourself deny this reality. Acknowledge your guilt before an infinitely holy God.

“Jesus Died the Death We Deserve” – Jesus is God in human form. He came to the earth, born of the virgin Mary and lived a sinless life. Even though he was God he laid aside the splendors of heaven and became a man and dwelt among us. He humbled himself and died a torturous death on the cross though he himself was innocent. In his death he paid the penalty required for sin – he became our substitute. Though we are the sinful ones, He took our sins on himself. Though we deserve the sentence of death, he died our death in our place.

“God Gives Us Jesus’ Life by Faith and Not by Works” – Not only did Christ’s death pay our penalty, but for all those who receive Him, God gives them the righteousness (perfection) of Jesus. So when we give up trying to prove ourselves good to God and instead acknowledge that we are broken sinners in need of a dramatic rescue – there is hope. God Himself has died for us paying our penalty and by his grace through faith imparts to us his perfection. For all who believe in Jesus stand not condemned not because we are good but because He is and He has given his righteousness by faith.

“Faith is Casting Yourself on the Lord” – As you consider these things – God’s holiness, your sinfulness, sin’s penalty and Jesus’ payment – you will be tempted to think is that really true? Is it really enough that Christ died for me a sinner? I have to contribute something don’t I? I am still tempted by these thoughts even though I have been a Christian for many years. But the truth declared in Scripture stands that salvation comes not to the one who works or is good, but to sinners who cast themselves fully on the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ who died to take away the sin of the world!

Isaiah 53:4-6:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows
yet we esteemed him stricken
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.
and with his stripes we are healed
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on him
The iniquity of us all

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:4-5
Now to the one that works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

II Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

 

How to Love God – Part 2

canal

How to Love God Part 2

John Bunyan: “When God brings sinners into the covenant of grace, he doth first kill them with the covenant of works, which is the moral law, or ten commandments.”

To sum up yesterday’s post I argued that the main work of the law is to reveal God’s holiness and righteous standard and to then apply that standard of holiness to us in order to show our sinfulness. I proposed that even the command we think of us a softer New Testament command, namely to love, actually comes from the Old Testament and Jesus’ interpretation is even more difficult. I also said that the law of God is not able to change us by itself, but that its main job is to reveal to our hearts our sinfulness and push us to Christ for righteousness that comes through faith.  Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 2”

Sovereign God or Sovereign Me?

tall-trees

In Isaiah, Assyria is “the rod of God’s anger” against a godless nation. And God uses them to plunder and spoil the “people of his wrath.” And when God has completed his appointed purpose for the nation of Assyria,
Assyria says,

“By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.”

God says he will punish the arrogant heart of the King of Assyria and replies:

“Shall an axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!”

“Behold, the Lord God of Hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low.”

How often have you said, “by the strength of my hand or my wisdom I have done it?” God replies, “Oh really – you have done it? You are an instrument in my hand to do with what I please. Will you give me the glory due my name or continue to claim that you are the greatest “axe handle” in the history of the world?”

Who do you worship a Sovereign God or a Sovereign Me?

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Crying Out in the Darkness Psalm 107 – a Meditation

darkness
Life feels sometimes like I’m wandering in a vast desert with no place to rest.

Sometimes it feels like my life is ebbing way in a hopeless search for satisfaction.

Sometimes all seems dark and it seems I will never find the light. I keep on trying to find my own way out of the darkness because I feel there is no one else I can really trust.

But then I realize I can’t even trust myself because I pursue my own selfish and sinful ends. And though I know my sin harms me I follow it to the gates of death.

To add insult to injury life is so hard. Friends die. Sickness hits. Finances are always a struggle. Parenting. Marriage. I feel often at my wit’s end. Continue reading “Crying Out in the Darkness Psalm 107 – a Meditation”

Jesus VS The Olive Garden

italian

I’m sitting in an Olive Garden in Bloomington, IL. My thoughts of what heaven will be like do not much exceed this. Continue reading “Jesus VS The Olive Garden”

Is Transformation the Highest End for Which We Were Made?

flowers

If we shine the light too brightly that Christianity is mainly about personal transformation – we create a hierarchy that encourages people’s natural inclination to push their sin underground and pretend to be more than they are. If we, instead, shine the light brightly on the beauty of Jesus – His Holiness – His Compassion – His Glory – His Grace – His Work on the Cross – His Resurrection – His Rescue of Sinful People perhaps we in church would quit our introspective, self-focused, navel gazing, and our mask-wearing, self-deceptive posturing. We could lift our gaze outside of ourselves to worship and glory in a God who loves sinners. We could focus our energies on knowing Him and delivering the same good news we have received to our friends. And then perhaps true transformation would occur as well.

Come & Dine With Me

dark-forest

I had this picture come to mind on Sunday while in church.

You remember the scene in the movie Hook with Robin Williams where he has met the Lost Boys and he sits down at the end of a very long day to what he thinks is going to be a glorious meal, but when the lids come off there is nothing. Peter is starving – dying for something to eat, but he can’t see the food.  We are like this sometimes.

Continue reading “Come & Dine With Me”

Creation and The Fall – A Dramatic Reading

dark-and-light

Brilliant light – light so pure and piercing – light radiating in an incomprehensible spectrum – light so bright as to be unapproachable.

In the midst of the light, on a throne, high and lifted up – the God of gods and the King of kings – the Lord of all the hosts of heaven – the most high and glorious One sits in radiant splendor.

In complete harmony and joyful anticipation, the Father in His transcendence, the Son in His majesty and the Spirit in His unrestrained might stand to deliver the proclamation.

The mighty Seraphim’s chant of “Holy, Holy, Holy” crescendos in power and intensity. The surrounding angelic host have trumpets poised over trembling lips.

Then with a voice thunderous as the rush of thousands of crashing waves and raging rivers and so powerful that none of the angelic host remains standing, Jehovah speaks Continue reading “Creation and The Fall – A Dramatic Reading”

The Cross Speaks

bangkok-church

Dean Koontz: “Everyone talks about justice, but there can be no justice where there is no truth, and these are times when truth is seldom recognized and often despised.”

If you grew up in a conservative Christian culture like I did you probably feel as if the world is coming undone. Continue reading “The Cross Speaks”

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