Running with the Gospel

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand

2 Peter 1:4 – “by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become par takers of the Divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

Recently I bought a new pair of running shoes, Hoka Stinsons, and I have to say they are perhaps the best shoes I have ever owned. They are extremely comfortable and stable, I am extremely flat footed so I need shoes that willpower recent me from rolling my feet in when I run. Most of the shoes that provide this type of protection are extremely rigid and they usually have some kind of plastic plate that prevents the foot from rolling in. The Hokas do not have that, and yet they are still very stable. Why? Because they have a larger platform. The soles of the shoes are actually about 30% larger than they are on regular shoes because of this they are very stable. They also have a tremendous amount of cushion to reduce the shock of running. They are amazing, yet because of the padding and the larger sole they look almost like clown shoes. So when I run in them I get some strange looks because they are different. Different but stable and able to stand up to shock and to stress.

That is a pretty good description of a Christian isn’t it? We are to be different than the world yet because of Jesus we have a stability and because of Him we are able to withstand the shocks and the stresses of life. Psalm 1:3 describes a person who follows Jesus as being like a “tree planted by streams of water.” In other words they are stable. Not in themselves but in Christ. Stable because of His “great and precious promises.” A person who follows Jesus isn’t immune from troubles (even though Joel Osteen, Job’s friends in the Old Testament, and many health and wealth teachers believe that we are), instead they have someone who carries them and who gives them stability in the times of trouble.

A tree planted by streams of water is stable but it isn’t immune from the storms. A Christian planted in Jesus is stable but isn’t immune from the hardships of life. Still we have a Savior who carries us through those times. We have a Savior who enables us to somehow get through the stress and the shock of life. How? Peter says through his great and precious promises. Promises such as “I will never leave you or forsake you,” “I will give you rest”‘ “I will renew your strength.” Promises that say we have the gift of eternal life and that we have heaven to look forward to. Promises that say that that place is a place of no weeping, crying, or pain. A place where death will be destroyed forever (Isaiah 25:8). A place of renewal and restoration. A place of joy. We have that to look forward to. That is our stability and it is our shock and stress absorption.

Some people would falsely say, “just have faith and everything will be ok.” That’s not all the way false because one day when we are with Jesus it will be okay, and yet this isn’t the sweet by and by, it is the sorry and sometimes bitter here and now. And in the here and now there is pain and sorrow and struggle. During those times okay doesn’t even apply, however the Gospel does as Jesus says, even when you are not okay my grace will carry you through and give you strength and stability. His grace will absorb the shocks and stresses of life through His great and precious promises, and through His grace they are there for us even when we aren’t ok. 

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PRAYING AND SATISFACTION

Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

We pray for many different things. We pray for healing for people who we love that are sick. We hopefully pray for people who are lost. We pray for comfort for those that are hurting and we may even pray for the church. More than likely we pray for help and for strength for ourselves. We pray for provision and for wisdom and we most definitely pray for our children. We probably don’t spend a lot of time praying for the church around the world, or for missionaries, or for our governmental leaders, yet the witness of Scripture is clear, we most assuredly should be praying for those things.

Prayer was very important to Jesus and because of that it should be important to us as well. If we are honest however prayer may be important to us but there isn’t a lot of depth to our prayers. We face prayer in much the same way as my 8 year old does, “I just don’t know what to say.”

Paul gives us some wisdom regarding this as he prays a beautiful prayer for the believers at Rome. He prays that because of their faith in Jesus (I.e. “believing”) that they would have joy, peace,  and hope.  He is praying in essence that those believers would realize that they have all they need in Christ.  He wants them to find their satisfaction in Christ alone.   Not in the world or its sins and pleasures,  not in their own accomplishments and successes but in Christ alone.  When that happens they would of course proceed to glorify God with their lives.   John Piper is surely right when he says,  “God is most glorified in us as we are most satisfied in Him. ”

That was Paul’s prayer for the church,  that they would find all they need in Jesus.  After all in Him all the “riches of God dwell bodily,” and that as they discover those riches their lives would glorify God.

I can think of no better prayer for us to pray today, in a world that offers temporary satisfaction and false security at every turn we all need to true satisfaction and that’s only found in Jesus.  So who do you need to pray this for?  Yourself?  A believer who has grown cold?  A friend? A family member?

How about a child? As a parent this is something we should definitely be praying for our children.  The world will offer them many tastes of false satisfaction, in response we should be praying that they would only find satisfaction in Jesus for He will never disappoint.

How about praying this for someone who is lost without Christ?  Pray that Jesus would touch them and that they would see that real peace, real joy, and real hope come from Christ alone.  The world will disappoint now and lead to hell eternally but Jesus gives real life now and eternal life in the future.   To God be the glory!

Sharing Jesus in the Storm

Recently I have been challenged with the question of how we as followers of Christ can make a difference in our culture that is growing hostile towards Christ and the things of the Kingdom of God.  This challenge has arisen in my own heart and has also come to me in conversations with other believers, in Bible study, and even in our church services.  How can we make a difference?  We know that Biblically the “cross and the preaching of Christ is a stumbling block to many and that it seems to be foolishness tp the world. ”  Yet we are still called to be salt and light,  still called by God Himself to make a difference,  and in reality the only way that can effectively be done is in one heart, one life at a time. 
We must influence people towards Jesus and His grace for that is the only difference that truly matters.  With that in mind I came upon a blog that discussed sharing Jesus and this blog quoted D.A. Carson and his writing on reasons and ways tonshare Jesus.  Even as I read it I was reminded of Paul’s calling to “be all things to all people so that some might be won.”  We can never water down or change the message, yet we may change the way in which we share Jesus so that the needs of peoples hearts may be met.

Here is what Carson had to say:

What are some biblical ways to persuade unbelievers to flee to Christ in faith?”

“1) Sometimes the appeal is to come to God out of fear of judgment and death.  Hebrews 2:14-18 speaks about Christ delivering us from the fear of bondage and death.  In Hebrews 10:31, we are told it is a terrible thing to fall under the judgment of the living God.

2) Sometimes the appeal is to come to God out of a desire for release from the burdens of guilt and shame.  Galatians 3:10-12 tells us we are under the curse of the law.  Guilt is not only objective; it can also be a subjective inner burden on our consciences (Ps. 51). …The Bible offers relief from these weights.

3) Sometimes the appeal is to come to God out of appreciation for the ‘attractiveness of truth.’ Carson writes: ‘The truth [of Scripture] can appear wonderful…[they can] see its beauty and its compelling nature….’

4) Sometimes the appeal is to come to God to satisfy unfulfilled existential longings.  To the woman at the well Jesus promised ‘living water’ (John 4).  This was obviously more than just eternal life – he was referring to an inner joy and satisfaction to be experienced now, something the woman had been seeking in men.

5) Sometimes the appeal is to come to God for help with a problem.  There are many forms of what Carson calls a ‘despairing sense of need.’  He points to the woman with the hemorrhage (Matt 9:20-21), and two men with blindness (Matt 9:27), and many others who go to Jesus first for help with practical, immediate needs.  …Their heart language is, ‘I’m stuck; I’m out of solutions for my problems.  I need help for this!’

6) Lastly, the appeal is to come to God simply out of a desire to be loved.  The person of Christ as depicted in the Gospels is a compellingly attractive person.  …There is an instinctive desire in all human beings to be loved.  A clear depiction of Christ’s love can attract people to want a relationship with him.”