Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Looking to Jesus

Looking to Jesus

This morning’s Morning and Evening reminds us that we are nothing and Christ is everything. We cannot afford to trade the sight of our Savior for a view of ourselves. Today’s passage is taken from Hebrews 12:2.

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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Looking to Jesus… — Hebrews 12:2

It is always the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus. But Satan’s work is just the opposite; he is constantly trying to make us look at ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you do not have the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold on Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we will never find comfort or assurance by looking within.

But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that Christ is everything. Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, although that is the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits.

Therefore, do not look so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ as to Christ; do not look to your hope but to Jesus, the source of your hope; do not look to your faith, but to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of your faith.

We will never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our deeds, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we are to overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking to Jesus.”

Keep your eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession be fresh upon your mind. When you waken in the morning look to Him; when you lie down at night look to Him. Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail you.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Devotional


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Sure of Birth

Sure of Birth

This morning’s Morning and Evening carries a gravitas of eternal significance. Few subjects demand our careful attention as much as spiritual regeneration.

New birth is a work of the Holy Spirit. We are not clever or strong enough to birth ourselves spiritually. A newborn baby is never delivered by their own desire or effort. Likewise, we all come to Christ naked with empty hands. Salvation belongs to the Lord. He works, calls, and regenerates. I love this line from the text below:

To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: Man can do the one—God alone can do the other.

Today’s devotional is full of imperatives, but begs the question: Have you truly been born again? If not, you must be! Your eternal destiny hangs upon this supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Beg Him for mercy, repent, and cry out to God this morning! Today is the day of salvation! Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8,

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

He gives to all who ask. He will not turn you away. Want the assurance of second birth? Ask, seek, and knock. Jesus rescues lost sinners. Deny yourself and the rebellious sin that blinds your eyes and strangles your senses before a perfect, loving, and holy God. What has sin ever brought you but death? Turn to the Giver of Life today! Pick up your cross and follow Him.

As for the redeemed, let’s never stray from the wise counsel found in 2 Corinthians 13:5:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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You must be born again. — John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject that lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to make sure that we really are “born again,” for there are many who imagine they are, who are not. Be assured that to be called a Christian is not the same nature as being a Christian, and that being born in a Christian country and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no significance at all unless there be something more added to it.

Being “born again” is a matter so mysterious that human words cannot describe it. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nevertheless, it is a change that is known and felt—known by works of holiness and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation that a man performs for himself: A new principle is infused that works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects his whole life.

It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: Man can do the one—God alone can do the other. If you have, then, been “born again,” your declaration will be, “O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, You are my spiritual Parent; if Your Spirit had not breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I would still be dead in trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is wholly derived from You; to You I ascribe it. My life is hidden with Christ in God.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

May the Lord grant us assurance on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.

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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Devotional


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Morning Coffee – 01/30/14

Here are the stories I put in my coffee this morning.

  • Don’t Miss the True Bread
  • Jesus promised eternal life not to those who eat and drink from His broken body, but to those who believe in why His body was broken — to pay in full the penalty for their sin and to freely give them His perfect righteousness in exchange for their unrighteousness.

  • Sola Scriptura
  • Contrary to common straw men erected by those opposed to this powerful doctrine, Sola Scriptura does not mean that there is no use for experience or tradition in the life of the church or believers.

  • A Catechism on the Heart
  • It is a truism to say that, in terms of our response to the gospel, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. But truism or not, it is true.

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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in Links


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Nunc Dimittis

Alistair Begg preaches an encouraging and educational sermon concerning the blessings of salvation. “Let’s do what God says, and we’ll see what God does.”

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Posted by on January 18, 2014 in Video


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Gardening Holiness

Gardening Holiness

Two Morning and Evening posts in a row! Today’s devotional is so good though, I feel obligated to share the wealth. Spurgeon touches on a universal conundrum that every believer experiences throughout their faithful journey… the motivations that drive our desires for holy living.

Spurgeon also has a talent for crafting pithy illustrations that stick. Today, he adds, “Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them.” And it’s true. We all wrestle with the pride and vanity that riddles our unseen bones. Self examination is humbling, but not crippling… thanks to the power of Christ’s sacrifice and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

I am thankful for passages such as Colossians 1:29, where Paul says,

For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.

Or 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, when he says,

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.

What was true for them is true for us. God has called us. He is faithful. He will surely do it. What a glorious God and Savior we serve!

Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

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…guilt from the holy things… — Exodus 28:38

What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart, and forgetfulness of God—what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief—what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity—what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully, we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight.

Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the improvement of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds, which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? So that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, so that my neighbors may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.”

So even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness, but His own holiness. O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Devotional


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Dr. StrangePunk: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bad Religion Christmas CD

Dr. StrangePunk: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bad Religion Christmas CD

***Warning: Discernment Required Ahead***

For all you aging hipsters out there who are weary of drowning your holiday cheer in Sufjan Stevens and Brighteyes Christmas music… an energetic alternative has emerged from an unlikely source. That’s right… Bad Religion has released a Christmas CD. Gasp!

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Here is the track listing:

  1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  2. O Come All Ye Faithful
  3. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  4. White Christmas
  5. Little Drummer Boy
  6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  7. What Child Is This?
  8. Angels We Have Heard On High
  9. American Jesus (Andy Wallace Mix)

Shocking? Yes. Let’s start with the obvious. Bad Religion has been an outspokenly anti-Christian band since 1979. For as long as I can remember, their logo has looked like this:

Glance at that track listing again. Why would this band choose these Christmas songs? All but two (White Christmas and American Jesus) are hymnal Christmas classics. This CD contains no snowmen, silver bells, hot cocoa, or Santa Claus. But it is replete with lyrics like…

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, and free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

The songs on this CD do not merely mention baby Jesus as a nativity centerpiece. These are Christocentric, Gospel-saturated Christmas songs! And Bad Religion remains true to the message without changing a word. So what gives? Either these guys have grown weary of suppressing the truth of God written on their hearts (Romans 1:18-20), or they believe the funniest way to offend Christians this year is to release a seasonal worship album with their name on it.

Interestingly enough, they recently shared a third reason for choosing these songs during an 8 minute interview on NPR. The audio and transcript can be found here. At one point, the interviewer observes:

And these are not secular songs, we should point out though. You could’ve done, you know, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” These are religious Christmas hymns.

To which, guitarist and songwriter Brett Gurewitz, responded:

I would disagree. I think that all of these songs are secular. Even though they have their roots in the pulpit or in the church setting, virtually everyone who celebrates Christmas has heard these songs. And so, it’s not Bad Religion that has made them ironic. It’s kind of a secular society that’s made Christmas ironic.

That sounds brilliant! My knee-jerk reaction to such an articulate paradigm shift is one of silent consideration. Does Brett Religion have a point? Are songs like “Angels We Have Heard On High” no longer powerful declarations of Christ’s deity because everyone has heard them? Has the fallen world’s popularization of what they lack in understanding truly made Christmas ironic? Let’s think about that for a moment.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). In other words, He authorized the eternal nature of His divine truth… not us. Gospel truth is tempered and timeless. It will be just as true two thousand years from now, as it was two thousand years ago… regardless of what we think about it. Words that convey His truth will always pack a wallop as the Holy Spirit uses them to soften or harden the hearts of those who hear them. God’s Word will never return to Him empty, but will always accomplish whatever He intends for it to do (Isaiah 55:11).

The guys in Bad Religion are lying to themselves if they truly believe the divine message is lost in these songs. Words matter. In fact, they matter more than the band’s intention behind singing them. Laughing at truth does not make it false. I agree with Brett that there is irony to be found here. It is truly ironic that God’s transforming truth of the Gospel would be proclaimed through such an unlikely source to one of the world’s most outspokenly rebellious people groups. Ironic and awesome. Many hearts will be hardened by this unintentional proclamation of Gospel truth. Let’s pray that a few are softened as well.

For the few of you out there who love Jesus, nineties style punk, and Christmas music… the million dollar question is this: should I purchase this record? Honestly, I can’t tell you what to do. However, I will strongly urge you to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading with regards to your own conscience.

The content is solid, but the delivery is certainly not for everyone. Many people will find the style of music itself to be vulgar because of its speed. That’s fine. Bing Crosby has a number of good Christmas renditions that ignite the senses at a slower pace.

The musicianship and vocal harmonies are excellent. As previously stated, the lyrics are Christocentric and Gospel-saturated songs of worship. There is no such thing as a “demon of atheism” or mystical quality that disintegrates everything Bad Religion touches. And for a band that has been around longer than I have walked the earth, I am not too worried about a six dollar download through eMusic sending a statement. If you acquire this CD and delete the last song, you will have the punk rock Christmas record you have always dreamed of. But if your conscience is unsettled in any way… do yourself a favor and obey the Spirit. His sanctifying work trumps all musical recommendations. There are plenty of good Christmas CDs out there.

So there you have it. Bad Religion has inadvertently released a seasonal worship album.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And Merry Christmas!

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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Article


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Knowing Jesus

Knowing Jesus

This month has provided exceptional devotionals in the book, Morning and Evening. Today’s musing centers around the knowledge of Christ.

It’s easy for us to divorce the heart from the head. Metaphorically, one is for warm feelings and the other is for cold knowledge. We often separate them as if man is composed of a three-part mixture instead of two. The Bible, however, uses the terms interchangeably. Genesis 6:5 says:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

That is an interesting way for God to describe the situation. The metaphorical heart doesn’t think, after all. How often has someone advised you to stop thinking about a certain situation in order to follow your heart? How did that work out? Why would we ever pursue one without the other? Instead of divorcing the two, what if we combined them (heart and head) into one concept and called it “the soul?” How would such a shift affect our considerations, emotions, and devotions?

When I was a kid, I thought you had to spend hours at the altars to steal glimpses of God’s glory. Emotions were high and knowledge was low. You can imagine the surprise when I discovered the joys of knowing Christ through His Word. There is nothing stale or stagnant about the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. His power continues beyond the conviction of sin and regeneration. He illumines the Scriptures, inflames our desires, and continually shapes us into the image of Christ. The more of my Savior I see, the greater He becomes to me.

The knowledge of Christ is personal, intelligent, affectionate, satisfying, exciting, and joyous. Growing in that knowledge is not an academic exercise. It is the key to life. Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

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I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
— Philippians 3:8

Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with Him. I must know Him myself; I must know Him on my own account.

It will be an intelligent knowledge—I must know Him not as in the visionary dreams of Him, but as the Word reveals Him. I must know His natures, divine and human. I must know His offices (Prophet, Priest and King)—His attributes—His works—His shame—His glory. I must meditate upon Him until I “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”1

It will be an affectionate knowledge of Him; indeed, if I know Him at all, I must love Him. An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning. Our knowledge of Him will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Savior, my mind will be full to the brim—I will feel that I have that which my spirit longs for. This is the bread that satisfies all hunger.

At the same time it will be an exciting knowledge; the more I know of my Beloved, the more I will want to know. The higher I climb, the loftier will be the summits that invite my eager footsteps. I shall want more as I get more. Like the miser’s treasure, my gold will make me covet more.

To conclude, this knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one; in fact, so elevating that sometimes it will completely lift me above all trials and doubts and sorrows; and it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than “Man . . . born of a woman . . . few of days and full of trouble,” for it will throw about me the immortality of the ever-living Savior and cover me with the golden cloak of His eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus’ feet, and learn of Him all this day.

1 Ephesians 3:18-19


Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Devotional


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