If you are following the read-through-the-Bible plan with us, you have come to the end of Romans today.(or you will finish in the next five days of catch up time) John Piper closed his sermon series on Romans with a prayer.  Here is the conclusion of that prayer,  Jesus Christ in the Book of Romans,

But we turn now, Lord, from thanking you for your work to embrace afresh—perhaps some of us here for the first time—the benefits you obtained for us by your work. By faith we take them, receive them, embrace them, treasure them, knowing full well that this very gift-receiving faith is a gift (Romans 10:17).

  • We embrace the truth that we have died to sin and to the law and now belong to you alone, alive from the dead forever (Romans 6:2-5; 7:4-6).
  • We embrace afresh the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 4:6-7).
  • We embrace the reality that our condemnation is past (Romans 8:1).
  • We exult in the truth that our justifying righteousness is unshakable, because it is performed by you, not by us (Romans 5:17-19; 4:4-9).
  • We affirm with joy that you indwell us by your Spirit and are with us forever (Romans 8:10).
  • We embrace the truth that you unite us to each other in loving harmony (Romans 15:5; 12:16).
  • We hold fast the promise that we are being conformed to your image, and that your death and resurrection guarantees that this will be completed (Romans 8:28-30).
  • We receive the gift that you enable us to do significant work for the advance of your kingdom (Romans 15:18).
  • We glory in the truth that we are fellow heirs with you of all that God owns and all that God is (Romans 8:17; 4:13).
  • And we take heart that nothing can separate us from your invincible love or from the love of God the Father because of your work on our behalf (Romans 8:32-39).
  • And rooted in all of this, we receive afresh the promise of your everlasting joy. In Paul’s words, spoken to us on your behalf, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Rededication to Your Purpose for the World

And because of all this, O Lord, henceforth we dedicate ourselves again to your invincible purpose for the world. None of us knows if we will to see another Christmas Eve. That matters very little. What matters is the glory of your supreme worth, and the glory of your Father. And the upbuilding your church in unshakable faith. And the evangelization of the nations. And the salvation of perishing sinners. And to that end, we rededicate ourselves to your purpose—to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through you and the great salvation that you have accomplished. “To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ. Amen.”

In Romans 15:20-21 Paul states,

…thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,  but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

Vernacular Video Mission International (VVMI) is reaching out to those who have never been told of Jesus, who have never seen and have never heard.  VVMI partners with ethnic Christians around the globe,  who proclaim the Gospel through video in their heart language. They make Gospel videos and hike into remote areas, not where Christ has already been named, to SHOW Jesus to people who have never seen or heard!  Powerful and effective…Smart Missions!

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay……..And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:6,18-20

I have a tattered printout of an April 2000 sermon stuffed into my Bible, with these instructions scribbled in the margin, “Please preach this sermon at my funeral!” Why? None of us are guaranteed another breath, another day, another year, another decade. Some of us may die in a “tragic accident” or serving the Lord in a difficult or dangerous country. BUT…

  • If it is true that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead (verse 6),
  • and that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (verse 18),
  • and that he will be with his disciples to the end of the age (verse 20) ,
  • then nothing is more important in our lives. Nothing.

I would want everyone to hear that message and put their trust in the risen Savior, Jesus Christ.  And I would want them to know that I fully trusted in the promise that He indeed has ALL authority and was with me to the end, even if I died in some “tragic accident.”  (No accidents when Jesus has all authority!)

Here is a part of that sermon, “Jesus Christ: Alive and With Us To the End” by John Piper-

Here’s the practical value of this promise. You might take the truth of Christ’s authority over all things and just turn it into a theological problem. Well, if he has authority over the world, why is it in such a mess? Or: If he has authority over life and death, why did my child or wife or mother die?

But there is another way to respond to the power and authority of Jesus. If you will – and Jesus calls you to this – you can see it as the power and authority to free you from sin and fear and greed so that when you trust his promise to be with you, you are unstoppable in your love. If he is with you to the end, and if he has all authority in the universe, then you can love and serve and sacrifice, and never lose. This is the practical effect of the resurrection of Jesus when you experience it as powerful and personal.

2010 Mission Trip to the Northern Philippines

If you trust him to be powerful for you and personally there for you, no matter what, you will be able to live your life not just for your private interests, but, say, for the 1.5 million street children in the Philippines (Action International Ministries – http://www.actionintl.org), or for 16 million people in the horn of East Africa who are now threatened with starvation (Newsweek, April, 24, 2000), or for the 255 people groups in the world that no one has even planned yet to pursue with the love of the gospel of Jesus (Joshua Project – http://www.ad2000.org/peoples).

Trusting Jesus to Be All-Powerful and Personally with Us

If Jesus is not all-powerful and not personally with us to the end, and if we don’t trust him to be that for us, we will simply ignore the needs of others and live for our own private comfort. Let me give you two examples, and invite you to trust him in this way:

World Magazine last week reported that three children were killed in Bosnia when they wandered into a minefield. One of them, an 11-year-old girl, called for help for hours before she died, but no one would go into the minefield to help her. What would you have done? What would I have done? Could it be that this is why Jesus told us that all authority is his – not so that people would create a theological problem out of it, but so that some follower of Jesus would lift his heart and say: “Jesus, all authority over these mines is yours, and you are with me to the end; if you will, you can keep me from stepping on a mine; and if you will, you can take me to heaven; but this I know, you call me to love that little girl; so trusting your power and your personal presence, I go.” That is why Jesus tells us that all authority is his. This is the kind of love that will make many disciples (Matthew 28:19).

And then, as many of you know, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards died this week in Cameroon in a car accident – Ruby in her eighties and Laura in her seventies. Ruby gave all her life in medical missions among the poor. Laura, a doctor who practiced in India for many years and then here in the Cities, was giving her retirement for the bodies and the souls of the poor in Cameroon. Both died suddenly when their car went over a cliff.

Was that a tragedy? Well, in one sense all death is tragic. But consider this.

Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards, at their age, could have been taking it easy here in retirement. Think of tens of thousands of retired people spending their lives in one aimless leisure after another – that is a tragedy. The fact that Jesus Christ took authority to make Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards valiant for love and truth among the poor and lost and diseased of Cameroon when most Americans are playing their way into eternity – that is not tragedy. And that he took them suddenly to heaven in their old age in the very moment of their love and service and sacrifice, and without long, drawn-out illnesses and without protracted and oppressive feelings of uselessness – that is not a tragedy. Rather, I say, “Give me that death, O Jesus Christ, Lord of the universe, give me that life and that ministry and that death!”

Read or listen to the rest of the sermon:

In Psalm 71, we read the prayer of an older saint, presumably David.  He has had a long life, with remarkable experiences and opportunities for his faith to grow.  In this prayer, he affirms His trust in God as his refuge and strength. He recalls how God has been his Rock and his Refuge.  He pleads for rescue and deliverance, and also promises to joyfully praise God.

So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
Psalm 71:18-19 ESV

 

Spurgeon comments:

Adoration is a fit frame of mind for the believer. When he draws near to God, he enters into a region where everything is surpassingly sublime; miracles of love abound on every hand, and marvels of mingled justice and grace. A traveller among the high Alps often feels overwhelmed with awe, amid their amazing sublimities; much more is this the case when we survey the heights and depths of the mercy and holiness of the Lord. O God, who is like unto thee.

This reminds me of the thoughts that the aging Apostle Paul expressed in 2 Timothy 1:12, as he is looking back over 30 years of walking with God.  He says,“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

Lord, may my prayers in old age be as David and Paul, constantly trusting in You as my strength, my Fortress, my Rock, my Hope, even if all around me is sinking sand. O God, who is like you?

…as your days, so shall your strength be. “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
—Deuteronomy 33:25-26

As we end March’s designated Bible reading in Deuteronomy today, we come to Moses’ final blessing on the people of Israel before his death.  He speaks as a loving leader, reminding the people of God’s faithfulness and everlasting love and mercy. Here is a portion of Charles H. Spurgeon’s sermon on this passage, As Thy Days, So Shall Thy Strength Be, preached August 22, 1858:

My dear friends, if you and I had been without trouble, we never could have had such a promise as this given to us:—“As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” It is our weakness that has made room for God to give us such a promise as this.

  • Our sins make room for a Saviour;
  • our frailties make room for the Holy Spirit to correct them;
  • all our wanderings make room for the good Shepherd, that he may seek us and bring us back.

We do not love nights, but we do love stars; we do not love weakness, but we do bless God for the promise that is to sustain us in our weakness,we do not admire winter, but we do admire the glittering snow;

we must shudder at our own trembling weakness, but we still do bless God that we are weak because it makes room for the display of his own invincible strength in fulfilling such a promise as this.

WOW!  Indeed, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be;”—Deuteronomy 33:25

Read more of this sermon by Charles Spurgeon

We see the glorious truth of the resurrection of Jesus in March 24th’s reading from Matthew 28:1-10.  John Piper exults in our living Savior in a sermon, “Worship the Risen Christ”

The great tragedy of the human race is that we were made to find infinite joy by admiring God, but have become so blind and so foolish that we spend energy and time and money seeking out things in the world to satisfy our insatiable craving to admire greatness and beauty. The irony of our human condition (and nobody here is an exception) is that God put us within sight of the Himalayas, and we have chosen to pull down the blinds of our chalet and show slides of Buck Hill. But every single person here knows that it hasn’t worked. Our posters and post cards and rock stars and scenic tours and glossy books have never satisfied the deepest longings of our heart. They give some pleasure, and make the drudgery of life a little more livable. But they can never compare to the times when you walk to the window, raise the blinds, throw open the shutters, and see the Himalayan glory of the risen Christ.

If your life is flat, empty, without exhilaration, without significance, without a single and fulfilling orientation, it is because you do not see the risen Christ for who he really is. Some of you see him scarcely at all, perhaps. Others have such a pitifully small and sentimental picture of him on the wall of your mind that you are starving for the real thing. So what I want to do today is take you to the window of God’s Word and point to Christ. For if we could keep in view the risen Christ as he really is, our bottomless appetite for beauty and greatness and wonder would find satisfaction, and our lives would be unending worship and joyful obedience.

The last chapter of Matthew is a window that opens onto the sunrise glory of the risen Christ. Through it you can see at least three massive peaks in the mountain range of Christ’s character: the peak of his power; the peak of his kindness; and the peak of his purposefulness. And we all know in our hearts that if the risen Christ is going to satisfy our desire to admire greatness, that is the way he has to be. People who are too weak to accomplish their purposes can’t satisfy our desire to admire greatness. We admire people even less who have no purpose in life. And still less those whose purposes are merely selfish and unkind. What we long to see and know is a Person whose power is unlimited, whose kindness is tender, and whose purpose is single and unflinching. Novelists and poets and movie-makers and TV writers now and then create a shadow of this Person. But they can no more fill our longing to worship than this month’s National Geographic can satisfy my longing for the Chattooga River. We must have the real thing. We must see the Original of all power and kindness and purposefulness. We must see and worship the risen Christ.

Read, download or listen to the rest of the sermon

Psalm 70 is our read-through-the-Bible passage for March 24 (posted a day late).

 John Piper uses this Scripture in a Taste and See article:

God commands us to delight in him.

  • Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
  • Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”
  • Romans 5:2, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
  • Psalm 43:4, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.”
  • Psalm 70:4“May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’”
  • Psalm 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”

Note: Those last two texts show something crucial.

  • One says that when you love God’s salvation you don’t say mainly, “God’s salvation is great!” You say, “God is great!”
  • And when you experience the steadfast love of the Lord, you don’t mainly say, “My lips will praise your steadfast love.” You mainly say, “My lips will praise you!”

In other words, in all these texts the command is to delight in God himself, and all other blessings we enjoy should lead us to God himself as our final and fullest satisfaction.

To read the rest of the article, please click here:

In Deuteronomy 32:39, in our read-through-the-Bible plan for March 24 (sorry I’m posting a day late),  God declares, “See now that I myself am he; there is no God besides me.” One goal in reading the Bible should be to see and know God in all His awesome uniqueness.

P.G. Matthew of Grace Valley Christian Center, in a sermon, “The Lord Saves the Weak,”-

The word “See” commands us to apply our minds to reading, studying, and understanding God’s revelation so that we can grasp who God truly is. When we do this, we will realize that all idolatry is a lie and a waste. The Lord himself declares there is no God besides him. The true and living God is unique.

Our God is not just one in a pantheon of gods; he is the only sovereign  God and Savior and the God with whom we must all deal.  God himself speaks of his uniqueness in Isaiah 43:10-13:  

“’You are my witness,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.  Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.  I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.  I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you.  You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand.  When I act, who can reverse it?’”

There is no other God than the self-existing, self-sufficient One who revealed himself to Moses, saying, “I AM WHO I AM.” In Deuteronomy 32:39 he says, “I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal.” Here we see the sovereignty of our unique God. In justice he kills and in mercy he makes alive; in justice he wounds and in mercy he heals; in justice he metes out vengeance on his foes, and in mercy he vindicates his elect people, the remnant.

Look at verse 39 again:  “See now that I myself am he!” God is saying, “Open your mind! Expand your rational capabilities! Exercise your reasoning powers!  Read my revelation so you can understand who I am!”  We find this idea also in 1 Samuel 24:10-11, where David told Saul,

“This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave.  Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed.  See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand!  I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion.”

So I challenge you:  See! God in his great mercy has given us a Book wherein we see him as the unique, holy, mighty, compassionate One.  People are free to worship as many gods as they desire, but we must realize that such gods are lies, mere products of human imagination. Dumb, mute, and deaf, they can only be carried about by men. They are impotent to save anyone from his troubles. And because these gods are worthless, those who worship them become worthless.

The God of Israel is the only true God. He alone is the Judge who vindicates and shows compassion to his people (v. 36).   As we read in Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Only the true and living God can comfort us and save us from our sins. Verse 39 says that he alone is the Savior who makes us alive, and he alone is our healer. Verse 40 tells us that he alone makes and keeps his promises, and in verses 41-42 we read that he alone is the victorious warrior whose flashing sword kills and whose arrows are drunk with blood.   This is our unique God.

March 25

Romans 16 (ESV)

Personal Greetings

16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [1] of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert [2] to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, [3] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, [4] and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus.12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers [5] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

Final Instructions and Greetings

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, [6] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

22 I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.

23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you. [7]

Doxology

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

March 25

Matthew 28:11-20 (ESV)

The Report of the Guard

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in [1] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”