Hope and Inheritance

I'll be preaching in the morning from 1 Peter 1:3-5. Since the text is fresh on my mind, I'll put forth a few thoughts:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (ESV)
First, I think it's important to note that Peter isn't an unemotional, detached lecturer when it comes to talking about God. He doesn't give us a dry or dispassionate speech. Instead, he begins with worship: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!" Peter has encountered Jesus. He has been a witness to Jesus' life, death, and resurrection; therefore, he must praise Him.

Second, the hope that comes through the resurrection of Jesus is not a flimsy type of hope. This isn't the type of hope that is uncertain like "I hope my Saturn doesn't stop working this year" or "I hope I get an good grade on my test." No, the hope we have in Christ is a living hope. This is a hope actual worth hoping in because it a certain hope. Just as Christ showed that death could not hold Him, so also death will not be the final word for those who have faith in Him--to those who have experienced the new birth.

Third, Peter describes our living hope in terms of inheritance. I find it interesting that he only talks about it in the negative: "never perish, never spoil, never fade" (or "imperishable, undefiled, unfading as in the ESV). Peter likely does this because it is hard for us to imagine a world where sin, death, pain, decay, etc. are not a normal occurance. But our inheritance is kept from all such things. It is "kept in heaven for you." (There's much more to be said about inheritance, especially the OT background...but this post is already getting longer than I expected! Read Revelation 21.)

Fourth, Peter says that by God's power we are "being guarded through faith." In Greek, this is a present participle which gives the sense of a continual action. God is presently and continually guarding us. God is for us. Just as He is keeping our inheritance secure, so also He is keeping us for "a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."


Noisy Inside: Anti-Psalm 131

Sometimes, it's helpful to think in opposites. In Psalm 131, we encounter someone who has found true peace: a quieted soul who hopes in the LORD. In the chapter "Peace, Be Still" in his book, Seeing With New Eyes, David Powlison shows what the opposite of this Psalm looks like:
my heart is proud (I'm absorbed in myself),
and my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people),
and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.
So of course I'm noisy and restless inside; it comes naturally,
like a hungry infant fussing on his mother's lap,
like a hungry infant, I'm restless with my demands and worries.
I scatter my hopes onto anything and everybody all the time.
If we're honest, we can find ourselves living out"anti-psalm 131" instead of Psalm 131. We become focused on ourselves instead of our God. Brothers and Sisters, let us instead find peace and rest in our God. Let us hope in the LORD, both now and forever.

O Lord,
my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. -Psalm 131 (ESV)

Strange Smells and Noises

I went into my office this morning in order to work on a sermon. Unfortunately, someone decided that today would be a good day to demolish the road beside my office building. Needless to say, the strange smells and loud noises that filled my office were not very conducive to prayer, study, and reflection.


In what book do you find the following quote? (Place your answers in the comment section.)

“Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,”
they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at the fords of the Jordan.

Bible Prophecy and Big Charts

Today, I received a flier in the mail that was advertising a Bible prophecy conference on "The Time of the Beast." Although I do not agree with the theology advocated in this Left Behind type of biblical interpretation, I do have to give them credit: they sure do know how to make some cool charts...and big ones too! This particular conference is going to be offering presentations that are "dynamically illustrated on a giant screen." Even if they get some things wrong, at least people will be able to see it.

Lunch Break Conversations

Today, I met Amy and the girls at the downtown library during my lunch break. After enjoying a picnic together, we spent some time reading books and playing with puzzles. As we were getting ready to leave, a young women stopped to look at Ann-Marie. The young mother had two children with her and she was about five months pregnant. Like us, her children were really close in ages. After talking with her for about 10 minutes, we learned that she had recently moved to the area in order to get away from an abusive boyfriend. Even before I had learned anything about her circumstances, I sensed a need to stop and talk with her. (Isn't it neat how the Lord often compels us to stop what we're doing in order to be a part of what He wants us to do?) Before we left, Amy exchanged numbers with her. I'm not sure if we'll hear from her again, but I know that we will be praying for her. There are no such things in life as mere coincidences. I believe in God's providence. God has a purpose and plan for all things that occur. And even small moments (like 10 minute conversations) are important parts of His plan.


Cell Phone Survival

On Thursday, Adalynne vomited on me. So, I tossed my pants into the dirty clothes to be washed. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my cell phone out of my pocket. Well, after going through the washing cycle, I was certain that my cell phone was destined for the trash can.


After prayer and a little help from the blow dryer, my cell phone still works!


Late Night Activities

Last night I had to stay up late in order to catch up on some school work. By the time I came downstairs it was 2am. Well, as soon as I reach the bottom of the stairs I heard my daughter Adalynne crying. The culprit: vomiting.

Of course, that wasn't the first or last time that she vomited yesterday. It began after dinner and continued all through the night. Needless to say, Amy and I didn't get very much sleep.

I'm getting ready to go downstairs in order to go to bed. Let's pray that there isn't any vomit waiting for me tonight.


Sovereignty, Responsibilty, and Humility

What is the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility?

This is a question that Christians have wrestled with throughout the history of the church. In this post, I'd like to briefly think about this question as it relates to God's providence and the problem of evil.

Let us begin by considering a question: Who sent Joseph to Egypt? On the one hand, we can say that his brothers sent him to Egypt by selling him to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:12ff). Yet, on the other hand, we can say that God sent Joseph to Egypt (Genesis 45:7-8).

Let us also consider another question: Who was responsible for Jesus death? On the one hand, it is clear that Jesus was crucified by the evil acts of lawless men such as Judas, Herod, Pontias Pilate, and the Jews (Acts 4:27). And it is equally clear that these people are held responsible for their actions (Luke 22:22). Yet, on the other hand, everything happened just as God had predestined for it to happen (Acts 2:23, 4:28).

I know that we have only begun to touch the surface of this discussion, but I believe that we can already draw some conclusions. First, God is sovereign over all things--even evil acts such as selling Joseph into slavery or crucifying Jesus. Yet, He never does evil and Scripture never blames God for evil (James 1:13). Second, man is always held accountable for his actions. Joseph's brothers sinned against him. Judas betrayed Jesus.

In response to this mystery, I believe that we should be humbled. Anytime we are confronted with mystery, we should be reminded that we creatures and not the Creator. Our knowledge is limited, while His knowledge is unlimited. We see things dimly, while He sees all things clearly. He is God and there is no other.


Finally Alive

I enjoy John Piper's books. For me, it all started with Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. Then, it was Desiring God. Later, it was The Supremacy of Christ in Preaching and Brothers, We're Not Professionals. And the list goes on.

Well, Piper's at it again.

"What does it mean to be born again?" That's the question that Piper takes up in his newest book
Finally Alive. Take a moment to read the introduction. Then, if you're so inclined, purchase the book for a great price here.