God motivates us to feel and to do what we should by calling to our minds his past performances of love and his future promises of love—some near, some far.
Be sure that you are connected to the way God means to motivate you with the backward look and the distant forward look and the near forward look. For example:
Motivation by the backward look:
Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Motivation by the distant forward look:
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:12)
Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we s…
To lay a trap for an animal there has to be some truth to attract him. It must at least look like a meal even if the iron clamps lie just beneath. Mark says the Pharisees came “to trap" Jesus. So they put some truth over the trap. They said,
“Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.” (Mark 12:14)
This is amazing insight coming from those who do not live it. Appearances were everything to the Pharisees. “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matthew 23:5). It is frightening how much theological and moral wisdom can be spoken and not lived.
Twice they sa…
When we work as unto the Lord we serve others even more excellently than if serving them were our main goal. Working as unto the Lord does not mean serving God instead of other people.
Paul tells slaves to obey their masters—and not just to obey, but to obey in everything. It sounds absurd, but he explains:
Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men…. You are serving the Lord Christ.
So slaves should obey their masters completely (at least completely enough that Paul didn’t feel a need to qualify). Apparently complete obedience to their masters is a key part of how they really serve Jesus, not their masters.
They serve Jesus by working even …
I have suggested that we should dream of ways to make much of Christ in the way we use our economic stimulus checks that will be arriving soon. That raises the question how we do that if our generosity should be done in secret. “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6.3). Here’s what I think the Bible says about that.
Jesus warns of two dangers when it comes to what unbelievers think of us...
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Elder D. J. Ward, pastor of Lexington's Main Street Baptist Church for the past 19 years, died of complications from lung cancer Friday at Hospice Care Center at St. Joseph Hospital. What the Lexington Herald-Leader did not say about this amazing African-American is that he was a powerful spokesman for the glorious God worshiped through the wall-to-wall window called Calvinism.
I thank God for the one conference we had together. He invited me to the Lexington Pastors’ Conference at his church. I had no idea there was such a self-consciously reformed gathering of mainly African-American pastors almost totally distinct, as far as I could tell, from the resurgence of younger black Reforme…
For a moment, forget the political puzzle of getting money back when the country is nine trillion dollars in debt. The more immediate question is: How will you make much of Christ with your "economic stimulus payment"? The president says it will be in the mail in time for Cinco de Mayo.
Clue: Nobody in the world will see you spend your money on yourself and conclude that Christ is your treasure. They will assume you are just like them, no matter how loudly you thank God for this boon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend it on yourself (the way we do with most of what we earn). Not everything we do can look different from the world—eat, pay utilities, fill up the car, wear clothes (ev…
I am on writing leave. I hope you will pray for me. The first book I'm working on is one on marriage. This includes chapters on raising children. Here is a section I was working on yesterday:
The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation. The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in …
The first consequence of Adam’s and Eve’s sin mentioned in Genesis 3:7 is that “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
Suddenly they are self-conscious about their bodies. Before their rebellion against God, there was no shame. “The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). Now there is shame. Why?...
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If a twelve-year-old makes A’s in school and generally makes wise choices, how would you help her apply this verse to herself?
Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:16)
You might say:
- It means that you gladly admit that all true wisdom is from God. It is his, and not finally ours.
- It means that you recognize that any sense of superiority comes from comparing yourself only with your inferiors. But the most important person to compare yourself with is God, and he is infinitely wiser than you. Not only that, there are a lot of people in the world wiser than you.
- It means that you feel humbled by the fact that you are a sinner deserving of God’s wrath, and t…
There are saving works that God will only do through small churches and ordinary people, not through large churches and more sophisticated people.
The Lord said to Gideon, "The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2)
Beware of missing your appointed fruit by envying bigger trees.