The Practice Of Solitude

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 27, 2009

“Even a casual look at the Gospels reveals that solitude was an indispensable practice in the life of the Lord Jesus (See Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; John 6:15), as it was in the lives of all the great saints who have preceded us. In the solitude of the wilderness Jesus prepared to inaugurate his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11); in the solitude of the mountain he prepared to select his disciples (Luke 6:12-13); and in the solitude of the garden he prepared to sacrifice his life for the sins of the world (Matthew 26:36-46). Solitude transcends loneliness; whenever Jesus sought solitude, it was to be in the presence of his Father. Solitude also transcends place, since Jesus practiced an inner solitude of heart and mind even when he was in the midst of people.
In solitude we remove ourselves from the siren calls and illusions of our society and wrestle with the need for ongoing transformation as we meet with the Lord.”
Kenneth Boa
Conformed To His Image, 86-87
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But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Luke 5:16 (NASB)
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“The flesh resists with its last breath anything that smacks of communion with God, because it suffocates in his presence. If you draw close to God in meditation and prayer, adoring God, getting to know him, and calling on him to search your heart, prepare to see the flesh scratch and claw like a wounded badger. It will do everything to stop you from meditation and prayer.”
Kris Lundgaard
The Enemy Within, 73




The Lord’s Discipline

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 24, 2009

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Hebrews 12: 5-6 (ESV)
~~~
“How could I have done such a thing?” pride asks. “I should be further along than to behave that way!” pride exclaims. “Will God forgive me again after so many failures when I resolved never to do it again?” unbelief questions.
The work of Christ is complete. God has forgiven you for all your sins, and He declared you righteous with His own Son’s righteousness. This is God’s gift of grace through your faith. Do you believe this glorious truth? Now with tender love your Father is training you to be like Jesus. It is a process, sometimes painful but always fruitful (Hebrews 12:11). In this ongoing process he arranges your circumstances, your trials, and your battles to expose your sin He wants you to deal with. He reveals your weakness so you will learn to live more dependently on your indwelling Lord. The disgust you sometimes feel about yourself He does not feel. The discouragement you sometimes experience He does not have about you. He will finish the work He has begun, and peace comes when you fully cooperate with Him in this endeavor.
~~~
“The assurance that God no longer counts my sin against me does two things. First it assures me that God is for me, not against me (see Romans 8:31). I am not alone in this battle with sin. God is not watching me from His heavenly throne saying, ‘When are you going to get your act together? When are you going to deal with that sin?’ Rather, He is, as it were, coming alongside me saying, ‘We are going to work on that sin, but meanwhile I want you to know that I no longer count it against you.’ God is no longer my Judge: He is now my heavenly Father, who loves me with a self-generated, infinite love, even in the face of my sin. That assurance greatly encourages me and motivates me to deal with the sin.”
Jerry Bridges
Respectable Sins, 35




Jesus’ Spiritual Growth

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 21, 2009

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2:52 (ESV)
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“Jesus did not possess special means of spiritual growth which are not available to us. It is essential to realize this if we are to understand Jesus. It is equally essential to appreciate it if we are to grow like him. Nowhere did Jesus explicitly tell his disciples the God-given means by which they would develop as his followers. But when we become familiar with the Gospel narratives, it becomes clear that he looked at three particular channels of help and blessing.
Jesus searched the Scriptures….It was through his understanding of God’s word that he grew in his appreciation of the will of God for his life….We too will find out God’s will for our lives and grow in the knowledge of it by searching the Scriptures….
Jesus found fellowship with God in prayer. His whole life was one of prayer. Throughout the story of the last three years of his life we are told of the regular periods of prayer Jesus had. They were times of intercession—there was so much for which he had to pray. But they were also times of fellowship and loving communion with his Father.
Jesus looked for fellowship with God’s people. Was that not what he was doing at the age of twelve in the Temple?…At the age of thirty he chose twelve disciples….Why did he go to Bethany, to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus? It was undoubtedly because he found in their spiritual fellowship and love an atmosphere which helped him in his spiritual pilgrimage.
Knowledge of God’s word; communion in God’s presence; fellowship with God’s people. These are the means by which Jesus grew in grace….If we are to grow; if we are to become increasingly like Christ, then we will need to follow the Master’s example.”
Sinclair Ferguson
Grow In Grace, 25-29
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So simple is sincere and pure devotion to Christ!




Prayer And The Spirit

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 17, 2009

“In the history of the Church two great truths stand out. Where there is much prayer, there will be much of the Spirit; where there is much of the Spirit, there will be ever-increasing prayer. When the Spirit is given in answer to prayer, it stimulates more prayer to prepare for a fuller revelation and communication of His divine power and grace. If prayer was the power by which the early Church flourished and triumphed, is it not the one need of the Church today?
Perhaps these should be considered axioms in our ministries:
1. Heaven is still as full of stores of spiritual blessing as it was then.
2. God still delights to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
3. Our life and work are still as dependent on the direct impartation of divine power as they were in Pentecostal times.
4. Prayer is still the appointed means for drawing down these heavenly blessings in power on ourselves and those around us.
5. God still seeks for men and women who will, with all their other work of ministering, specially give themselves to persevering prayer.”
Andrew Murray
Teach Me To Pray, February 26
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Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)
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Are we powerless in our lives and churches because of prayerlessness? The Spirit’s manifested power is dependent upon our earnest, persistent, and believing prayers (Luke 11:13). What changes must we individually make in order to pray like He wants us to pray so He can do what He wants to do? He waits on His people to ask in faith.




Posted in Prayer

Made to Enjoy God

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 14, 2009

“We were made to enjoy Him. Our minds were shaped and fashioned to think about God, to reflect and meditate on His majesty and beauty and to experience the intellectual thrill of theological discovery. Our emotions were made to feel His power, love, and longing for us. Our wills were made to choose His will and ways; our spirits were formed to experience the ecstasy of communion with Him; our bodies were fashioned to be the temple where He Himself would delight to dwell!”
Sam Storms
Pleasures Evermore, 50
~~~

When I was a young man in my first pastorate I had an insatiable desire to know how to walk with God. I had learned some basic principles for living the Christian life and I was pursuing with determination what I knew to do.
My wife and I had read a book that introduced us to the wonderful truth of the indwelling Christ living His life through our personality. The author of that book (from England) was scheduled to speak at a church in a nearby city. We wanted to hear him and if possible have some private time with him. We asked him if he could go with us for some refreshment afterwards and he graciously accepted. As we rode to the restaurant my wife asked him a simple question. I do not even remember her question, but I will never forget his response. He said to her gently and forthrightly, “Why don’t you just relax and enjoy the Lord and let Him enjoy you.” We had never thought of such a thing. Enjoy the Lord and let Him enjoy us? After these many years we know well that this is exactly what our Lord Jesus wants for us every day. He finds great pleasure when we enjoy Him and allow Him to enjoy us in a precious loving relationship.
~~~

He brings me to the banquet hall, so everyone can see how much he loves me. Oh, feed me with your love—your ‘raisins’ and your ‘apples’—for I am utterly lovesick!
Song of Solomon 2:4-5 (NLT)




Cost of Christlikeness

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 10, 2009

“Any movement that stresses Christlikeness comes with a cost. While we often laud Dietrich Bonhofffer’s classic The Cost of Discipleship, I sometimes wonder how many Christians still read it and, even more, how many truly believe it. What I’m about to say may sound like heresy, but I believe it will be truth medicine for Christ-followers: character transformation, though dependent on grace and God’s empowerment, requires a lot of hard work, vigilant oversight, rigorous thought, self-discipline, and a life marked by repentance. It also entails surrendering to a God who is more concerned with our character than with our comfort.”
Gary Thomas
The Beautiful Fight, 197
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Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:25, 27 (ESV)
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God’s desire and design is for you to become like the Lord Jesus. This is His ultimate goal and reason for your salvation. Is it your determined purpose to do all you must do to become like the Lord Jesus? Your transformation will only occur as you fully cooperate with Him. We are saved by grace through faith, and faith is the ongoing activity of the soul expressed by conscious inward dependence on the Lord Jesus for all that is needed. Of course, where there is true faith there will be obedience. Faith cannot exist without obedience (James 2:18). The apostle Paul called it “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). Obedience includes self-discipline. No progress in godliness will be made without self-discipline (1 Timothy 4:7).  Are you more concerned with your comfort and convenience than you are with transformation of your character into Christlikeness? Can you walk with God if your purpose does not match His? Two cannot walk together if they do not agree (Amos 3:3).




Yearning for Him

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 7, 2009

“I no longer want just to hear about you, beloved Lord, through messengers. I no longer want to hear doctrines about you, nor to have my emotions stirred by people speaking of you. I yearn for your presence.
These messengers simply frustrate and grieve me, because they remind me of how distant I am from you. They reopen wounds in my heart, and they seem to delay your coming to me. From this day onwards please send me no more messengers, no more doctrines, because they cannot satisfy my overwhelming desire for you.
I want to give myself completely to you.
And I want you to give yourself completely to me.
The love which you show in glimpses, reveal to me fully. The love which you convey through messengers, speak it to me directly. I sometimes think you are mocking me by hiding yourself from me. Come to me with the priceless jewel of your love.”
St. John of the Cross

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Love makes one’s heart long for the beloved’s presence. Remembering truth about a lover is wonderful to think about, and reading a letter from them when they are absent is a gift treasured. However, merely thinking about them, or reading what they have written, or talking with them by telephone does not satisfy one’s heart like being in their immediate presence where their fragrance, and sound, and touch, and embrace are experienced. What could be wrong with a professing lover of the Lord Jesus who is satisfied with merely knowing the doctrine about Him, or hearing messages about Him but not longing to know His nearness and touch and manifest presence? We were created for intimacy, and intimacy means nearness and personal sharing. Is it not astounding that our Sovereign Lord wants to experience our nearness because He loves us? Can we neglect to satisfy His desire and still say we love Him?
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I will seek him whom my soul loves. Song of Solomon 3:2 (ESV)




Posted in God Manifested

God Knows Me

Posted by Jerry White on Sep 3, 2009

“What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him, because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.
This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort — the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates —in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love, and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about my self, and quench His determination to bless me. There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow-men do not see (and am I glad!), and that He sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose.”
J. I. Packer
Knowing God, 37 (1973 edition)
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O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
Psalm 139:1 (ESV)
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jeremiah 31:3 (ESV)




Posted in God's Love