Man regarded but God despised

I am in the train right now so typing a long post on my phone will probably be hard to do, but I thought I would share a text by Robert Murray McCheyne, “man regarded but God despised” which was deeply convicting- I mean it. Here is the link.

Have a blessed week my dear friends !

Stressed Vines

The following text is simply the 6th “chapter” of Don’t Follow Your Heart, by Jon Bloom. I was really encouraged by the whole chapter so I had to share it here. Don’t forget you can find the full PDF  on Desiringgod.org and hey- like most if not all their books, its free !

grapes

Via Pinterest

” GOD LIKES USING WINES and vines in his miracles and parables. I thought of that a number of years ago when I read the following in an article: Great wines come from low-yielding vineyards planted in marginal climates on the poorest soils. Though hard on the vines, these tough conditions are good for the wine, because the vines that are stressed must work harder to produce fruit, which leads to fewer but more concentrated and flavorful grapes. By contrast, the vines used for bulk wines have it easy. They are planted in the fertile soils in ideal climates of regions such as California’s Central Valley. Such regions are great for producing tons of grapes to fill up the bulk fermentation tanks, but not at all great for producing the complex, intense flavors needed to make great wine, because the vines are not stressed and the yields are way too high.

*Ben Giliberti, “It’s Not the Box, It’s the Bulk,” Washington Post, July 20, 2005, accessed September 26, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/19/AR2005071900312.html.

Stressed vines produce good wines. This phenomenon of nature is also a parable for how God produces rich, complex, intense faith in his children. Because when it comes to faith, God loves good wine. All you have to do is read Hebrews 11 to see that the great wine of faith often “comes from . . . vineyards planted in marginal climates on the poorest soils.” And James 1:2 tells us plainly that “tough conditions (“various trials”) are good for the wine” of faith. That’s because faith-vines “must work harder to produce fruit” leading to “more concentrated and flavorful” wines. Now, as a faith vine striving to grow in a hard place, you might be tempted to wish you were a bulk-wine vine basking in the spiritual equivalent of California’s Central Valley. O, for that rich soil, bright sunshine, warm ocean air. Sigh. But here you are, stuck on some coldish, semi-arid hillside where the struggle is frequent and sometimes severe. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s not a mistake. It’s not a punishment. It’s not mean. It’s simply that tough conditions produce the best faith. Your vinedresser (John 15:1) has planted you in a unique vineyard with uniquely stressful conditions because he intends for you to produce a uniquely fine, flavorful faith wine. And he will tend to your every real need (Phil. 4:19). If you need some perspective today, review Hebrews 11 and the great faith-vine heroes of history. Remember what their vineyards were like and the rich faith wines that resulted. And then remember Jesus (Heb. 12:2) and the joy set before every vine that endures in faith. When God makes wine, he makes really good wine (John 2:7–10). And when it comes to your faith, he knows that really good wine is made in the vineyard.

Jon Bloom, Don’t Follow your Heart, chapter 6

He knows what He is doing

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Pinterest

“God’s will for you is your sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). He wants you to share his holiness (Heb. 12:10). And the kindness of God in pursuing this for you is incomprehensively wonderful, because without his holiness you will have no real and lasting happiness. Only in his presence is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11), and only the pure in heart will see him (Matt. 5:8).”

“The God who governs the visible and invisible worlds knows what he is doing in your life. The God who was brutally murdered on a Roman cross knows what it’s like to suffer and how to redeem it. Specifically how he will bring good out of your trials may be mysterious to you now, but that he will bring good out of them is not a mystery. It’s a promise.”

“The secret things are the Lord’s for a very good reason. Trust him with the mystery. But the revealed things are yours, and they are glorious. Believe them, and one day you’ll share God’s holiness and all the forevermore pleasures he has prepared for you (Ps. 16:11).”

Jon Bloom, Don’t Follow Your Heart

Why should I forgive ? Thankfulness, forgiveness and turkey

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So apparently, tomorrow in the USA, people celebrate Thanksgiving. To be honest, in France, we don’t officially celebrate it.

Some do, thought: I’ve seen students on TV once who,  attracted by this joyous tradition gathering friends and family together and, probably as well by the idea of having the oh-so-American pumpkin pie and a slice of turkey, attempted to celebrate this holiday.

Today, this post is not about celebrating myself or written in order to  bring attention to Stéphanie, but to share something that has happened to me lately and that gave me such a valuable lesson.

I once lost a friend. A dear friend of mine whom I loved dearly. We all make mistakes in relationships, but never would I have hurt her intentionally. Ever. That friend turned her back on me and walked out of my life, and girls know how devastating it can be to lose a good friend or a best friend. The friend who shared your dreams. Who knows your secrets. Who has seen you, sometimes, in your most vulnerable state. The friend you did so much for, listened to for countless hours- and after all you did for him/her, chooses to remember that one little mistake you did. Forgets all the good you’ve done. And walks away.

When friends become complete strangers.

But you fight. You fight to save your friendship. You apologize. Once. Twice. And nothing. Your kind words won’t stir up any reciprocate kindness. Your text messages are either left unanswered or, when an answer is absolutely needed, are replied with a cold, diplomatic “ok”, “yes” or “no”. Your attempts to “win the person back” are rewarded by a proud, I don’t care about you attitude.

It happened to me. And I was on the edge of looking down on that person for leaving me. I was tempted to think of myself highly, and to think that I was better than her: I’ve seen her flaws yet overlooked them. I do one mistake and she seems to hate me. The blame game is so easy.

But something happened. I realized that I was not better than her when it came to the most important relationship in my life, i.e, my relationship with God. God never wronged me. God has always been good. And with all the goodness He displayed in my life, and continues to display, how often have I answered Him with a cold, diplomatic reply ? Or answered Him at all ? Instead of being humbled by all the mercies in my life, I often take all the credit instead of being amazed at the goodness of God in spite of my shortcomings. My ungratefulness. My sins.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?“- Romans 2:4

What happened with my friend gave me a fresh, new perspective on forgiveness and the Cross. You see, Christ, unlike me, never wronged anybody. He is good. He is life. He is love ! In spite of this, though no fault could be found in Him, He was put to death. He was rejected, despised and killed. When I was younger, and I watched movies retracing the life of the Lord, I used to condemn proudly those who killed our Lord. They are bad people. We are good.

Yet what I failed to see is that by my life and affections, I was turning my back at Christ and hating Him as well. He was the Author of Life, and the Giver of good things, and I didn’t want Him to rule over me, though what I could not understand at this time is that He was and is Lord of everything even if I don’t wanted to.

It’s incredible what the Lord has done on the cross. He has done something that never someone in History was able or even willing to do. He died for His ennemies. The perfectly Just, the King, dying for such ungrateful little humans.

You see, it is after those considerations that I began to understand what that “love your ennemies” thing came down to. If Christ the Just forgave His ennemies, I, the unjust, the forgiven, has to forgive my ennemies. As C.S Lewis puts it,

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

So tomorrow, though there will probably be no turkey in my plate, and though I won’t bake a pumpkin pie, it will be Thanksgiving. And I hope that all the days of my life would be Thanksgivings. Never He wronged me. He has been and always been the incarnation of goodness, goodness itself. He died for me.

He lost everything and took my shame. And his reply is not a cold no, yes, maybe. He went to Heaven and said He would prepare a place for us. I never deserved such goodness. I pray, therefore, that I would be thankful for His gift, and that just as He forgave me, I would forgive others as well.

Forgiveness

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

(Romans 12:14-21)

How Involved Is God in the Details of Your Life? by Jon Bloom

“Joseph knew God’s nearness when he woke from his prophetic dreams and probably when he experienced remarkable favor. But how near did God feel to Joseph in the pit of his brothers’ betrayal, or shackled in the Ishmaelite caravan, or when falsely accused of attempted rape, or stuck for years in the king’s prison, forgotten? Yet we see that God was there all the time working all things together for good for Joseph and millions of others (Rom. 8:28).

Yes, God was even working the evil, heinous things people did to Joseph for good. We can say that, because that’s precisely what Joseph himself said to his brothers about their betrayal of him: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20).- Jon Bloom, Don’t Follow Your Heart, page 22-23

Picking my next book: “Don’t Follow Your Heart” by Jon Bloom

jon bloom

Desiring God was one of the first ressources I discovered when I became a Christian and it was through it I would later come to discover various authors and books such as Charles Spurgeon, Richard Baxter, David Brainerd, Mere Christianity, and others books by the founder of that ministry, Dr.John Piper, such as Don’t Waste Your Life- which was kind of a milestone in my Christian life

There is a tab on the website allowing you to download for free the books published by Pastor John, and I’ve read a few of them. Recently, Jon Bloom, co-founder of DG, published Don’t Follow Your Heart.

Here is the description of the book:

Follow your heart” is a creed embraced by billions of people. It’s a statement of faith in one of the great pop-cultural myths of our day — a gospel proclaimed in many of our stories, movies, and songs. It can sound so simple, beautiful, and liberating. It’s tempting to believe.

Until you consider that your heart has sociopathic tendencies. Our hearts were never designed to be followed, but to be led. Our hearts were never meant to be gods in whom we believe, but to believe in God.

This book contains 31 meditations for recalibrating your heart. It is a collection of helps for common heart problems. Because your biggest problems in life are heart problems.

Jon Bloom will help you follow Jesus by resisting your heart’s errant predilections and directing it to do all God’s will.“- Desiring God

I’m so excited to read something about the topic of heart issues… I think books like this one are more than needed in our culture where it all revolves around emotions, feelings and, as said above, the “follow your heart” creed.

Have a blessed Sunday,

 

Stéphanie

 

Diary thoughts: God’s love

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor 13:4-6)

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)… How can this be ?

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7).

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

On gratitude

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)

“But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

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“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor 15:42-44)

“But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away”blindly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”- C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity

Killing sin

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This very encouraging article on the topic of fighting sin was published on Desiring God.

We are commanded to constantly kill the sin that remains in our lives. This is not optional. This is mortal combat: Sin dies or we die. Not that we ever become perfect in this age, but we go on killing sins as they attack us daily. How do we kill sin? Here are thirteen tactical steps in the battle (…) – John Piper