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The Never-Ending Faithful Love Of The God Who Hates Divorce (via Sammy Rhodes)

Sammy Rhodes is writing about the way in which effects of his parent’s divorce ripple through his life and perceptions. He recounts the combination of cynicism and romanticism about marriage that the children of divorced parents have. One couple for whom he performed a marriage vowed ‘never to divorce’ one another, a promise that Rhodes felt was both arrogant, yet admirable. It causes him to think of the only one who can truly make that promise:

I think the best metaphor we have for the kind of love God has for us is that he is a God who marries us with eyes wide open and promises to never divorce us regardless of how unfaithful we turn out to be.

When God says he hates divorce, he doesn’t mean he hates the divorced. He means that the kind of love he has for his people is best captured by a one-sided marriage that he promises will never end in divorce. That’s the kind of love he’s come to create in his people. For him. For the church. And for husbands and wives.

God’s love is the only love that can sustain a marriage because it is the only love that can promise it’s never going anywhere. Our love is too frail, too fragile, to possibly sustain our marriages. German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that it is not our love that sustains our marriages; our marriage becomes the place to sustain our love.

The only way to “divorce-proof” your marriage is for God’s love to sustain your marriage so that, in turn, your marriage can sustain your love.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pg 43.

In this observation I think Rhodes makes a very important point, when God talks about hating divorce, he’s not telling us something directly about our marriages (though there is something there); he is telling us something about himself and his faithfulness.


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Not Letting ‘Awesome’ Define Your Life (via Chad Bird)

Chad Bird contends that God does not reveal himself on the mountaintops of life as consistently as he is found in the valleys.
He makes reference to what he describes as “one of the most in-American verses in the Bible,” truthfully one of the most counter-cultural verses of our age.

If I could rewind my life and go back twenty years, I would dream small and relish the joys of an unaccomplished life. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” Paul urges (l Thess. 4:11 NIV). This is arguably one of the most un-American verses in the Bible. Those words have become almost a mantra for me. I must say them over and over to silence the lifelong indoctrination I have received from a culture that idolizes those who do big things and urges us all to do likewise. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” In other words, make it your ambition not to let “awesome” define your life, dictate your relationships, weigh the importance of who you are, or guide you in discerning how and where God is found.
To lead a quiet life doesn’t mean that you lower your expectations as much as you lower your gaze. Instead of looking up to the next accomplishment, the next rung on the ladder, you look down at the daily life you live, the children God has given you, the spouse by your side, your aging parents, your dear friends, the poor and needy — all those “little things” you miss when you’re always looking up to the “next big thing” in your life.

Your God Is Too Glorious, Chad Bird, Baker, 2018, pg 14.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 36

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 36

99.
Q. What is required in the third commandment?
A. That we must not profane or abuse the name of God by cursing, by perjury, or by unnecessary oaths. Nor are we to participate in such horrible sins by keeping quiet and thus giving silent consent. In a word, we must not use the holy name of God except with fear and reverence so that he may be rightly confessed and addressed by us, and be glorified in all our words and works.

100.
Q. Is it, therefore, so great a sin to blaspheme God’s name by cursing and swearing that God is also angry with those who do not try to prevent and forbid it as much as they can?
A. Yes, indeed; for no sin is greater or provokes his wrath more than the profaning of his name. That is why he commanded it to be punished with death.


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Something Even Better Than The Good News (via Fred Sanders)

It’s a privilege and a blessing to worship with God’s people and celebrate the good news of the Gospel week by week.
But there’s something even better than the good news for us as we gather.
It’s God himself.

From Fred Sanders:

There is something even better than the good news, and that something is God. The good news of the gospel is that God has opened up the dynamics of his triune life and given us a share in that fellowship. But all of that good news only makes sense against the background of something even better than the good news: the goodness that is the perfection of God himself. The doctrine of the Trinity is first and foremost a teaching about who God is, and God the Trinity would have been God the Trinity whether he had revealed himself to us or not, whether he had redeemed us or not, whether he had created us or not.

Read the whole post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 1

The first Sunday of another new year.
In 2018 we return to the Heidelberg Catechism, last posted here back in 2014.

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 1

1.
Q. What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
A. That I belong – body and soul, in life and in death – not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

2.
Q. How many things must you know that you may live and die in the blessedness of this comfort?
A. Three. First, the greatness of my sin and wretchedness. Second, how I am freed from all my sins and their wretched consequences. Third, what gratitude I owe to God for such redemption.

Bonus song.


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The Reformation And The Enjoyment Of God

Gleaning through a plethora of posts about the Reformation, this point from Michael Reeves is one that stands out.
If you’re a Christian and your attitude toward God is not marked by fear, uncertainty or anxiety, that’s a fruit of the Reformation.

Consider these words, written by a team of scholars in Westminster, England, in the 1640s: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Those words capture the heart of the Reformation. For Luther’s discovery made abundantly clear that God is glorious: beautiful, good, kind, and generous. We can therefore actually enjoy God. Not hate. Not avoid. Not appease. Enjoy.
This was all quite different to what so many had known before. As a monk Luther had confessed he’d come to hate God; doubtful of whether he’d made himself worthy of heaven, he shook with fear at the thought of how God might judge him on the last day.
Yet armed with his new discovery, Luther realized he could face such fears like this:

When the Devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: “I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satis­faction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.”

And so the horrifying doomsday became for him “the most happy Last Day.” The gospel had so transformed Luther’s life that he was able to look to the future with unshakeable hope and assurance that he would enjoy the living God forever.

source


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 9

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 9

Chapter 5 – Of Providence cont. (Paragraphs 5-7)
V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, does often times leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, does blind and harden; from them he not only withholds his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings,and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had; and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.
VII. As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it takes care of his Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof.