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What If I Never Change? (via Stephanie Phillips at Mockingbird)

A reflective article about life with chronic illness and trust in God by Stephanie Phillips.
An excerpt:

I had the thought the other day: what if I never change? I don’t remember what I was doing: making yet another dinner, folding some more laundry, mediating another child-fight, battling another impulse to emit a primal scream. I felt hopeless: after all, shouldn’t I, as a Christian, believe in change? Shouldn’t I hold the promise of it close like a small kitten, relying on its surety to keep me warm at night and positive during the day? “Personal transformation!” shout the majority of preachers. NO! The cynic in me counters. Consider this: what if you NEVER change?
And almost as quickly, from outside of myself, came an answer, which I believe may be the answer: you’ll still be loved. I considered it. Really? I thought. I know I’m a student of grace and all, but surely there are limits? I mean, you’ve got to show at least some effort in this game, some evidence of achievement?
Sanctification has, to be honest, always left me mystified. What does it mean? It’s just a fancy word for change, right? Of what happens after we believe? Which, of course, is spirit-directed, but let’s be honest again, is aided by my spiritual disciplines? By my own commitment? There’s certainly a multi-billion dollar industry out there that says so.
But what if I never change?
You’ll still be loved.
Preposterous. Offensive. So not me-centric. The alliteratively-outlined sermons of my childhood would be horrified.
But you know what? Trying-to-prove-myself-me? “Hey-everyone-I’m-so-OK” me? Is the worst version of me.

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


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He Who Has Said, ‘It Is Finished,’ Will Never Leave Anything Undone (via Charles Spurgeon)

Tomorrow, for those of us who have not been called home, the work of our salvation will continue toward its completion:
From Charles Spurgeon, quoted at Tolle Lege:

If, when we were sinners, Christ loved us so as to die for us, now that He has redeemed us, and has already reconciled us to Himself, and made us His friends and His disciples, will He not finish the work that is necessary to make us fit to stand among the golden lamps of heaven, and to sing His praises in the country where nothing that defileth can even enter?
I believe it, my brethren. He who has said, ‘It is finished,’ will never leave anything undone. It shall never be said of Him, ‘This Man began, but was not able to finish.’

source


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Growth In Godliness Is Not Measured By What Already Comes Easily To You (via David Murray)

David Murray asks “Why do we take our individual, personality, character, gifts, or calling and make that the sum total of godliness for everyone else?”
After numerous examples of what he means, he sums up:
“Godliness should be measured not so much by what comes easiest to us but by the progress we’re making in areas we’re weakest in.”

Read the whole post here.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 26

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 26

Chapter 16 – Of Good Works (Cont.) (Paragraphs 1-4)
V. We can not, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, because of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God’s judgment.
VI. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and can not please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 21

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 21

Chapter 13 – Of Sanctification
I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
II. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abides still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
III. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


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A Fall Doesn’t Automatically Lead To Wisdom (via Zack Eswine)

Zack Eswine writes about the growth that can, but doesn’t always follow a burnout experience.
“Just because we fall, that doesn’t mean we are necessarily wise now. We have to be teachable to the thing that God’s doing.”
The lesson translates to other experiences.

Are You Teachable?
I don’t wish a breakdown or burnout on anybody. I’d rather none of us have to go through that. But it can be a turning point in our life. Sometimes we don’t see things we needed to, or there were warning signs, but we thought, “Well, that’s other people, not me.” If there’s a level of pride in our heart that won’t become teachable to the thing, then the Lord, because he loves and pursues us, will let us fall. And then he’ll pick us up again.
All isn’t lost. That’s not the last chapter or the last moment in our lives. But he’ll let us fall. Now, here’s the thing: Just because we fall, that doesn’t mean we are necessarily wise now. We have to be teachable to the thing that God’s doing. And that’s the issue all along, even before the burnout: we should be teachable to God.
After the burnout we should ask ourselves, Okay, am I going to be teachable now? The Lord loves humility, and he works it in us in this teachable posture of heart. When that reality starts to take hold of us, and he works it in us, even our darkest day, we can say with the psalmist, “is as light to him.”
Moral failure isn’t good. Burnout isn’t good. These things aren’t good. But God is good. He keeps his promise, he keeps his faithfulness, he keeps his word to us, even when we’ve let go of those things. Our great hope isn’t that we had a failure in our life. Our great hope is that God is with us no matter what.
So, by all means, avoid the failure. But if it finds you, let it teach you. Let the Lord show you himself in it, and he’ll see you through to the other side.

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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

Q & A 171
Q How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
A They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.

Q & A 172
Q May one who doubts of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord’s Supper?
A One who doubts of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God’s account has it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labor to have his doubts resolved; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord’s Supper, that he may be further strengthened.

Q & A 173
Q May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s Supper, be kept from it?
A Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s Supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ has left in his church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation.

Q & A 174
Q What is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in the time of the administration of it?
A It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord’s body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fulness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints.

Q & A 175
Q What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?
A The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, is seriously to consider: How they have behaved themselves therein, and with: What success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfil their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.