>Thursday Tozer Tidbit of Truth

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“The difficulty we modern Christians face is not misunderstanding the Bible, but persuading our untamed hearts to accept its plain instructions. Our problem is to get the consent of our world-loving minds to make Jesus Lord in fact as well as in word. For it is one thing to say, “Lord, Lord,” and quite another thing to obey the Lord’s commandments. We may sing, “Crown Him Lord of all,” and rejoice in the tones of the loud-sounding organ and the deep melody of harmonious voices, but still we have done nothing until we have left the world and set our faces toward the city of God in hard practical reality. When faith becomes obedience then it is true faith indeed.”
– A.W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest

>Permissible Versus Beneficial

>Here is great stuff from Mark Batterson:

Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.”

Your future is found in I Corinthians 10:23. It reveals two options: permissible or beneficial. And your destiny will be determined by which option you choose.

Who we become is determined by whether we settle for what is permissible or strive for what is beneficial. It’s so tempting to live down to what is required. It’s so tempting to live in our comfort zone. It’s so tempting to take the path of least resistance, but the path of least resistance never takes you where you really want to go!

What am I getting at? Well, are you setting for what is permissible? Or are you striving for what is beneficial? Are you giving God leftovers? Or are you seeking first the kingdom of God? Where are you compromising? Where have you become comfortable with what is permissible?

Don’t let short-term comfort short-circuit God’s long-terms plans for your life. Spiritual short-cuts always turn into detours! Take the hard way. Take the high road. Strive for what is beneficial.

>The Demand of Duty

>“God calls us to duty, and the only right answer is obedience. If it can be glad and willing and loving obedience, happy are we; but, in any case, whether we ourselves get enjoyment and blessing from the task or not, the call must be obeyed. The will of God must be done for the sake of God, not for the sake of ourselves. Undertake the duty, and step by step God will provide the disposition. We can at least obey. Ideal obedience includes the whole will and the whole heart. We cannot begin with that. But we can begin with what we have. God calls. It is better to obey blunderingly than not to obey at all”.

George Hodges

>"Puppy Love" for Jesus

>Last night, at teen camp, I showed a clip of the young Celtic Thunder guy singing “Puppy Love.”

I reminded the students that puppy love is simply being in love with the idea of love; not a person. I then suggested that there is a sort of “Jesus” puppy love; where one is in love with the idea of Jesus, the benefits of Jesus, the music of Jesus, but not in love with Jesus.

We talked about “you are My friends if you do whatever I command,” and, of course, John 14.21.

Then this afternoon I found this quote from John R. W. Stott:

John Stott in an appendix with the title, “Reflections of an Octogenarian, 27 April 2001”:

. . . Let me share with you a conviction about obedience. John 14:21 is one of my favorite verses. Here are the words of Jesus: “Whoever has my commandments and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

The verse ends with a particularly precious promise: “I will show myself to him (or her)”, or “I will manifest myself to him.” Is this just what we are longing for, namely a clearer vision of Christ? . . .

But this promise of Jesus is conditional. He reveals himself only to his lovers. And who are his lovers? Not those who make loud protestations of love, and then go out like Peter to deny him. Not those who sing rather sentimental songs “Jesus, I love you.” (It is all right to sing them too, but they do not prove anything.) No, those who truly love the Lord Jesus are those who obey his commandments.

To sum up, the test of love is obedience, and the reward of love is a self-manifestation of Christ.

– John Stott , The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor

I kinda wish I’d found the quote before I preached!

>Why Obey God?

>Okay, for most it is summer and vacation etc…and no one wants to think about ‘indicatives’ and ‘imperatives,’ but this is worth the time to carefully consider:

“In every other religion the indicative flows from the imperative. Which means, ‘because I do, therefore I am… because I do this, therefore I’m a child of God.’ But only in Christianity does the imperative flow from the indicative. ‘Because I am in Christ all these things, therefore I obey.’ Exactly the opposite.”

– Tim Keller, Led by the Spirit (message given at Redeemer Presbyterian Church)

>Why Obey God?

>“What God wants is not just behavioral compliance but loving service. The tree-command [in the garden] means: ‘Please do this commandment just because of who I am, just for me, not because it looks profitable to you. Obey me out of love.’ But we failed to love him because we believe the Lie that he doesn’t care. Here ‘the Lie’ of the serpent is not just the fount of sadness but of disobedience. We lack self-control not just because we are ‘bad’ in some general way but because we disbelieve in the love and goodness of God.

“How can our hearts be changed? [Jesus] obeyed the tree-command [at the Cross] simply because of his love for his Father and for us. He obeyed not because it profited him but because it profited us. Now love God for his own sake, for the sake of his beauty and worth–because he loved you for your own sakes in Jesus.”

Tim Keller, Preaching the Gospel in a Post-modern World (RTS Class Syllabus, Page 45)

>The Importance of Balance

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My reading took me into Psalm 119 this morning, and verse 156 spawned reflection:

“Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.”

Yes, thankfully God is full of mercy (which is new every morninga), but He is also a God of rules. Jesus was “filled with grace and truth.”

It’s too easy to claim God’s mercy and grace while ignoring His rules and truth.

And it is hard to balance! Alas, the only way to learn balance is to lose it, but I need to guard myself and ask the Spirit to help me be Biblically-balanced lest I slide into licentiousness or legalism…

Comment with any insights you have into this ongoing exercise of keeping balance!