When really weak in ourselves

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9 “Christ says to those who seek deliverance from pain and sorrow, ‘It is enough that I love you.’ . . . Most Christians are satisfied in trying to be resigned under suffering.  They think it is a great thing if they can bring themselves to submit to be the dwelling-place of Christ’s power.  To rejoice in their afflictions because thereby Christ is glorified is more than they aspire to.  Paul’s experience was far above that standard. . . . When really weak in ourselves, and conscious of that weakness, we are in the state suited to the manifestation of the power of God.  When emptied of ourselves, we are filled with God.  Those who think they can change

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What preaching is meant to do

Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 “Paul knew he was clothed with power and authority. How does one know it? It gives clarity of thought, clarity of speech, ease of utterance, a great sense of authority and confidence as you are preaching, an awareness of a power not your own thrilling through the whole of your being, and an indescribable sense of joy. . . . What about the people? They sense it at once; they can tell the difference immediately. They are gripped, they become serious, they are convicted, they are moved, they are humbled. Some are convicted of sin, others are lifted up to the heavens, anything may happen to any one of them. They know at once that something quite unusual and exceptional is happening. . . . What then are we to do about this? There is

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This Is He Who Baptizes with the Holy Spirit

This week’s sermon from John Piper: “This Is He Who Baptizes with the Holy Spirit” John the Baptist is known for his baptizing. That’s how we distinguish him from other Johns. And it is John the Baptist himself who announces that Jesus does the real baptizing. Jesus does not merely baptize with water but with the Holy Spirit. This means at least 3 things: The Holy Spirit comes through Jesus. Jesus immerses people in the Spirit. Baptism signifies all that the Spirit does for us. John’s Gospel gives 4 effects of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He… …gives new life. …makes us not just life-getters, but also life-givers. …witnesses to Jesus. …glorifies Jesus. These last two points provide an answer to why baptism in the Spirit is a testimony mainly to Jesus, and not mainly to the Holy Spirit: Because the Holy Spirit is the most self-effacing, humble person of Trinity. When he comes, he comes to witness to

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Reasons Believers in Christ Need Not Be Afraid

Adrian Warnock pointed me in the direction of this encouraging piece from John Piper: 1. We will not die apart from God’s gracious decree for his children. James 4:14-15 “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” Matthew 10:29-30 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Deuteronomy 32:39 “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” (See Job 1:21;1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7) 2. Curses and divination do not hold sway against God’s people. Numbers 23:23 “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel.” 3. The plans

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Signs of Forgiveness

“Whenever God pardons sin, He subdues it, Micah 7:19. Then is the condemning power of sin taken away, when the commanding power of it is taken away. If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned; so, how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned.” -Thomas Watson (HT: Reformed Voices)

An Urgent Need

“There is an urgent need for courageous preachers in the pulpits of the world today, like the apostles in the early Church who ‘were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness’ (Acts 4:31). Neither men-pleasers not time-servers ever make good preachers. We are called to the sacred task of biblical exposition, and commissioned to proclaim what God has said, not what human beings want to hear. Many modern churchmen suffer from a malady called ‘itching ears’, which induces them to ‘accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings’ (2 Tim. 4:3). But we have no liberty to scratch their itch or pander to their likings. Rather are we to resemble Paul in Ephesus who resisted this very temptation and twice insisted that he ‘did not shrink from declaring’ to them what had to be declared, namely ‘the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:20, 27). We have to beware of selecting our texts

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The Advantages of Providence

Here is a sampling of God’s complete providence in governing the world from John Piper. “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” (1Kings 17:4) “The Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah” (Jonah 4:6). “God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered” (Jonah 4:7). “I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants” (Exodus 8:21). “He summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread” (Psalms 105:16). “He gave them hail for rain” (Psalms 105:32). “He spoke, and the locusts came” (Psalms 105:34). “The Lord will whistle for . . . the bee that is in the land of Assyria” (Isaiah 7:18). “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). “Even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:41). “He removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21). “Even the unclean spirits, and they

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Charles Wesley’s Radical, Fruitful Risk

I love this from John Piper: On July 18, 1738, two months after his conversion, Charles Wesley did an amazing thing. He had spent the week witnessing to inmates at the Newgate prison with a friend named “Bray,” who he described as “a poor ignorant mechanic.” One of the men they spoke to was “a black slave that had robbed his master.” He was sick with a fever and was condemned to die. Wesley and Bray asked if they could be locked in overnight with the prisoners who were to be executed the next day. That night they spoke the gospel. They told the men that “one came down from heaven to save lost sinners.” They described the sufferings of the Son of God, his sorrows, agony, and death. The next day, the men were loaded onto a cart and taken to Tyburn. Charles went with them. Ropes were fastened around their necks so that the cart could be driven

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The Cost of Knowing & Showing Christ

This piece from John Piper is worth bearing in mind when evaluating the claims of those who say they have been caught up to paradise and then tell of (who said sell?) their sensational experience. On a more positive note, however, should not this be our desire; seeing and savouring Jesus Christ, I mean, no matter what the personal cost. John Piper: I suspect Paul’s experience when he was caught up into paradise, while not absolutely normative, is at least a caution: Count the cost before you want to know Christ deeply or show him clearly. “He heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4). But there was a price to be paid for this extraordinary knowledge. “To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). The way this thorn worked was to “beat” Paul (hina me kolaphize).

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