Preach the Gospel to Yourself – How?

How have believers in the past proclaimed the gospel to their own hearts?

Why not reflect on the examples below and then write out your own summary of the gospel? Then use it as a tool in spiritual battle when you are plagued with a sense of condemnation, shame, and guilt:

1. The Apostle Paul recounts the stunning grandeur of the gospel throughout his life like this:

  • Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
  • 1 Timothy 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

2. John Newton captures the simple beauty of the gospel when writing as an 82-year-old man: “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Jesus Christ is a great Savior of sinners like me.”

3. Bono: “Grace, she takes the blame; She covers the shame; removes the stain; Grace makes beauty out of ugly things!”

4. Jack Miller: “Cheer up and smile! You are more sinful and flawed that you ever dared imagine, yet at the same time you are more loved than you ever dared to dream because Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death for you.”

5. YOU: How about you?

J.C. Ryle on Christ in the Psalms

A Greater than David is here!

We have probably little idea how much deep truth is contained in the book of Psalms. No part of the Bible perhaps is better known in the letter, and none so little understood in the spirit. We err greatly if we suppose that it is nothing but a record of David’s feelings, of David’s experience, David’s praises, and David’s prayers. The hand that held the pen was generally David’s. But the subject matter was often something far deeper and higher than the history of the son of Jesse.

The book of Psalms, in a word, is a book full of Jesus Christ—Christ suffering—Christ in humiliation—Christ dying—rising again—Christ coming the second time—Christ reigning over all. Both the advents are here—advent in suffering to bear the cross—the advent in power to wear the crown. Both the kingdoms are here—kingdom of grace, during which the elect are gathered—the kingdom of glory, when every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. Let us always read the Psalms with a peculiar reverence. Let us say to ourselves as we read, “A greater than David is here.”

When the Spirit of God Descends Upon Your Heart

The lovely words of the Irish hymn-writer, George Croly
serve as a simple reminder of why we desperately need the Holy Spirit
poured out upon us:

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
and make me love Thee as I ought to love.

  • According to Romans 8, when the Spirit descends upon our hearts,
    He rivets our attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His work
    for us on the cross.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He produces in us the
    family trait of holiness by granting us the desire, determination and
    discipline to reject and kill sin.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He assures us of our sonship
    and of our permanent gift of eternal life.

Martin Luther explains:
The Law scolds us, sin screams at us,
death thunders at us, the devil roars at us.
In the midst of the clamor,
the Spirit of Christ cries in our hearts: ‘Abba, Father.’
This little cry of the Spirit transcends
the hullabaloo of the law, sin, death, and the devil
and finds a hearing with God.

  • Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

No wonder we call the Holy Spirit the “Lord and Giver of Life!”

A Prayer for My Son on His 12th and 21st Birthdays

The below is a part of a letter I wrote my son on his 12th birthday. His 21st birthday is coming soon. My prayers for him have not changed…

Son, you are beginning your journey towards manhood. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
According to this verse, becoming a man involves mental alertness, spiritual resolve, and strength of character. In light of this, I pray that you might become …

  1. A man in whose life Christ has the first place (Colossians 1:18)… that you would enthrone Him as King of your heart. I want you to love and treasure Him more than anything or anyone else. Also, I want you to marry a woman who loves Him more than she loves you. If that’s the case, your life will be greatly blessed.
  2. A man who listens to, delights in, and treasures God’s Word as a lamp for your feet and a light for your path (Psalm 119:105). May God’s Word and God’s holiness be the standard by which you evaluate your life and make your decisions. It will be easy to make what other people are doing the standard. You are going to experience temptations, trials, and joys. God’s Word will be a sure and reliable guide over the peaks and through the valleys!
  3. A man who wisely chooses friends who will sharpen you and not dull your sensitivity to the Lord and His leading in your life (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  4. A man who flees all forms of sexual immorality because you know that God’s Spirit inhabits your physical body. My prayer is that you please and glorify the Lord with your body by reserving the full expression of your sexuality for your wedding night (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  5. A man who intentionally honors God with your mind (Philippians 4:8; Psalm 119:37 – Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word).
  6. A man who is committed not to awaken love until it’s time (Song of Solomon 8:4)…that you will guard your heart in your relationships with young women (Proverbs 4:23)…that you will resolve to help your friends who are women to protect their hearts as well.
  7. A man whose life is marked by radical humility, sacrificial service, and bold risk taking in the service of your Lord (Philippians 2:3-4; 5-8; 21-30).

Do you feel yourself spiritually and physically weak today?

The prophet Isaiah describes people like us:
Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks.

Listen to how our Savior deals with people like us:
“A bruised reed he will not break, 
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory…” (Matthew 12:20)

What are we to understand by the bruised reed and smoldering wick ?

This language is no doubt figurative.
What is it that these two expressions mean?
The simplest explanation seems to be,
that the Holy Spirit is here describing persons
whose grace is at present weak, whose repentance is feeble,
and whose faith is small. Towards such persons the Lord Jesus Christ will be very tender and compassionate.
Weak as the bruised reed is, it shall not be broken;
small as the spark of fire may be within the smoldering wick,
it shall not be quenched.
– J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Down in the human heart, Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried, That grace can restore,
Touched by a loving heart, Wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken, Will vibrate once more.
– Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)

Jesus Christ the King does not merely tolerate weak believers,
but He is drawn to them, showing them special tenderness and compassion
in order to further them in sanctification.
– Richard Sibbes (1577 – 1635)

Why not take a few moments to cherish the special tenderness and compassion
of our Savior today by reflecting on the below prayer and making it your own!

God, our heavenly Father,
we are those who have been bruised and broken by sin and the fall.
We confess that we have bruised others
by our harsh and critical words,
our anger tempers, our betrayals,
and our failed attempts at loving others well.
The devil bruises us with his lies.
We also are bruised by others.
Thank you for dealing tenderly with “bruised reeds” and “smoldering wicks.”
We confess to you that our grasp of your grace is weak,
our repentance is feeble, and our faith is small.
Thank you Jesus that you were wounded for our transgressions
and you were bruised for our iniquities.
Pour out the healing balm of your grace
into our lives we pray for Jesus’ sake. Amen

Eternally and Completely Satisfied

Psalm 17:15 describes what theologians call the beatific vision… that moment in your future when you shall see God. It reads: “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”

Think about what you will be in eternity. When you see the King in all of His glory, you will be like Him.  You will be eternally and completely satisfied.

C.S. Lewis describes this beautifully in his book The Weight of Glory:

God “will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into …
a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through
with such energy and joy and wisdom and love
as we cannot now imagine,
a bright stainless mirror
which reflects back to God perfectly…
His own boundless power and delight and goodness” (p. 176).

There are no ordinary people. You’ve never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization, these are mortal and their life
is to ours as the life of a gnat.
It’s a serious thing to remember
that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to,
may one day be a creature which,
if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.

A Psalm Prayer for an Election Year

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-7-04-39-amPsalm 2 teaches believers how to counter the bullying world that intimidates them to retreat and hide.  We learn that the LORD’s Anointed One (Messiah) is personally and powerfully involved in this world, rescuing and ruling it for His glory and His people’s good.

How is Jesus Christ the LORD’s King? He is the Son who rules for his Father (2:7-8). There is a twofold kingdom of God committed to Jesus Christ: First, a spiritual kingdom by which he rules in the hearts of His people; and, second, a providential kingdom by which he rules the affairs of this world. During an election year, it is very important for us to remember His providential rule.

Psalm 2 paints an exalted picture of Jesus Christ. This heavenly prince rules all the kings of the earth, judges all the nations, crushes all of God’s enemies, defends and protects all of God’s people, marries His Bride – the Church, and fulfills the promised hope of David’s eternal throne. No wonder this Royal Psalm ends with the exclamation, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Ps. 2:12).

A Psalm Prayer:

Gracious Father, thank you for the future hope
that all the nations that rage against You
will become the inheritance of the Messiah.
You have given to Your Son our Savior
the ends of the earth as His possession.
He declares triumphantly
that all authority in heaven and on earth is rightfully His.
Based upon that authority,
we pray that you would supernaturally cause a massive ingathering of souls
who would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Have mercy upon them,
open blind eyes like you did long ago,
pour the wine of your love and Word on calloused, stony hearts.
Raise up a group of young people throughout the world
who devotedly kiss Your Son as Savior.
May they serve You with fear and rejoice with trembling
as they contemplate your loving reign in their hearts as King,
but also as a just judge who will come again with a rod of iron
to break all those who resist Your reign. AMEN.