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Considering The Gospel Evidence (via Dale Ralph Davis)

The beginning of Gospel proclamation was not eye-witnesses trying to convince those who had not seen, but one group of eye-witnesses seeking to help other eye-witnesses understand what they all had seen. Even as Gospel proclamation continued on it was grounded in events that had happened and been seen and experienced.
From Dale Ralph Davis:

What does one make of all that? These were things that the early preachers of the gospel said and preached as eyewitnesses, as men who had been there. Here’s the crucial point: when they were preaching these things, they were preaching to other eyewitnesses, and they were often preaching to a lot of hostile eyewitnesses. If what the preachers were saying was not true, those hostile eyewitnesses would have exposed it as a fraud in the first century and you would never have heard of Christianity. Why didn’t that happen? Because even the hostile hearers could not dispute the truth and accuracy of what these original evangelists were proclaiming. When you preach in front of hostile hearers, you have to be careful with your facts. So, if you resist the gospel, do not claim that there is not enough evidence. There is evidence for you to deal with.

Dale Ralph Davis, True Words For Tough Times, EP Books, 2013, pg 69.


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The Christian Life: Balancing On A Paradox Of Delight And Distress (via Dale Ralph Davis)

A life that knows the power of the resurrection of Jesus will experience growth in character through both joy and pain according to Dale Ralph Davis:

You remember what Paul says in Philippians 3 in that marvellous verse, ‘That I may know him and the power of the resurrection’ (v. 10). What does that involve? To know Jesus is to know transformation of character, liberation from bandage, power through distress and difficulties; it is to know the power of his resurrection.
Some people today think that this is all that knowing Jesus involves, that it is just the hoopla of the power and the glory. But there is an ‘and’ in that sentence. What does knowing Jesus mean? ‘To know the power of his resurrection AND the fellowship of his sufferings, being shaped like him in his death.’ Paul is saying that if you are going to know Jesus, you are going to be balancing on a paradox. There is going to be a ‘both/and’: there is going to be a certain tension in God’s truth. So does God grant mighty deliverances and amazing providences and solid pleasures to those who serve him?
Yes, but faith does not guarantee immunity from terrible distress and need. If Jeremiah gives us any clue it is that in his mysterious mercy and in his strange kindness God may not bring us out of our miseries in our lifetime. It is balancing on a paradox of delight and distress.

Dale Ralph Davis, True Words For Tough Times, EP Books, 2013, pg 32-33.


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The Fire Of God’s Exclusive Love (via Dale Ralph Davis)

Dale Ralph Davis writes about the novel insistence of Yahweh that his people have no other gods, and what that reveals about Yahweh and the way he relates to his people.

Whoever heard of a god who demanded exclusive loyalty? There was no so-called god or goddess in the whole ancient near east who demanded exclusive devotion. Ishtar did not care if you worshipped Marduk part of the time. They did not care if you had a private shrine to some oak tree in your garden. It did not matter. It was OK. They were very tolerant. Why was this God utterly intolerant of any rivals?
It is because there was something in Israel called the covenant. That covenant was exclusive, like a marriage covenant, with Yahweh as the husband and Israel as his bride. It was to be an exclusive relationship. Any time, of course, that there is a breach in an exclusive relationship it ought to drive the one who is wronged into a fury. There is a proper kind of jealousy in love, and if it is not there, there is something wrong with the love. If the wife or the husband is being unfaithful, the other does not just say, ‘Well, you win some, you lose some.’ No, it should make you angry. It should infuriate you. It should stir up the proper jealousy of love. That is what you have in the fury of Yahweh, when he says, ‘they have forsaken me; they have burned incense to other gods; they have bowed down to the works of their hands.’ There ought to be a fire in love. And there is with Yahweh.
Of course, we are a little bit different from Judah. His problem with us is not some graven image as such. Our idols are a little more sophisticated. It might be fixation on our future. It might be security or comfort or addiction. It may be a little harder to detect. But Yahweh is simply fanatical in his Word about exclusive devotion to him.

Dale Ralph Davis, True Words For Tough Times, EP Books, 2013, pg 23.


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The Disappointment We Must Control (via Ralph Davis)

There is a form of remembering the goodness and grace of God that can kill faith in the present.
Ralph Davis, from a study on Ezra:

The Disappointment We Must Control – Ezra 3:12-13
What a mixed response! From Ezra 3:12b it looks like the memory of the first temple clouded the day for some (see 1 Kings 5-7on Solomon’s temple). The older folks could still recall that magnificence. And they could tell from the foundation of this projected temple that it would have none of the “pizzazz” of Solomon’s. There is no problem here with the candor of their weeping, but there is a danger in it – it could color the whole occasion. But you can understand them, can you not?
In 1953 my father purchased a new car, a 1953 Chevrolet. As usual, he selected the most basic, stripped-down, economical model. He bought the “150” model, which had black rubber instead of chrome trim on the back fender. There was no radio. It had only regular hubcaps, no wheel covers, and a standard transmission, no “Power Glide.” It was nothing like the fine looking “Bel Air” model. This second temple was a “150” model, and a major disappointment to those who had seen Solomon’s Bel Air style.
Sometimes nostalgia like this can kill a church. We can also have problems if a church does not meet our expectations in its ministry or fellowship. In our culture of hyped-expectations, we tend to think that what is low-key, ordinary, plain, simple and quiet must be rather worthless – and this attitude can infect God’s people. Sometimes we can be so caught up in desiring revival (not a series of meetings, but when God’s Spirit is poured out in a striking way) that we may forget that it’s possible to be faithful even when God doesn’t send revival. We can still engage in family worship, sincere public worship, loving intercessory prayer, consistent Christian living in school or workplace. Don’t despise the “day of small things” (Zech 4:10). What matters is not whether the church is grand, but whether she is genuine. The question is not “Is it jazzy here?” but “Is Jesus here?”
Can the people of God live through their gray days? Yes, by running with their fears to worship their Savior; by expecting that though God has dashed their hopes they will yet see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; and by being content when God prefers to work in plain, ordinary, non-sensational ways.

source


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Where Tears And Arguments Fall (via Dale Ralph Davis)

“…the Psalm implies that especially in prayer you must hold both emotion and reason together. In a true knowledge of God they combine. At the throne of grace, tears fall from your eyes and arguments from your lips.”
Psalm 13 – From Anguish To Assurance
Dale Ralph Davis, Slogging Along In The Paths Of Righteousness, Christian Focus, 2016, pg 20


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One Evidence That God Is With You (via Dale Ralph Davis)

“Sometimes the clearest evidence that God has not deserted you is not that you are successfully past your trial but that you are still on your feet in the middle of it.”
Dale Ralph Davis, 1 Samuel, 2010, p. 200


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Our Only Rational Activity

“Sometimes the Father may box us in, place us in a situation in which, one by one, all our secondary helps and supports are taken from us, in order that, defenseless, we may lean on His mercy alone – prayer. Once we see this, we will no longer regard prayer as a pious cop-out but as our only rational activity.”
Dale Ralph Davis. 1 Samuel.