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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Joy of Life)

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have JOY! (Part 7)

I don’t agree with Karl Barth on much, but his question — “Is it true? Is the Christian faith true?” is essential to biblical Christianity. We’ve seen that certain conclusions follow IF Christianity is true, for example, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. Second, we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. Third, if the gospel is true, we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. Fourth, we agreed that we desperately need the people of God, the church. Our fifth conclusion was that we can honestly face the suffering in the world without becoming cynical or callous. We have a theodicy which helps us understand evil and suffering.

Let’s look at a sixth conclusion and it is this —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We can be supernaturally joyful despite the challenges of this fallen universe. I love the statement by the preacher who said that Christians owe it to the world to be supernaturally JOYFUL! Yes, we do! And we owe it to the Lord of joy! The epistle of Philippians emphasizes the issue of JOY in spite of suffering.

2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Your present troubles may not see “light” and “momentary,” but they are compared to what our Savior suffered on our behalf. We are to be “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

The follower of Jesus recognizes the tragedy of sin, the effects of the cosmic fall, the sadness of unbelief, but he or she must keep in mind what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 14 — “for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17)

Today’s Challenge: Would you describe yourself as full of joy in the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? What are some joy-killers that can drag down the believer and keep him or her from saying “Whoopee!”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2021 in gospel

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 8

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

D. Growing in the knowledge of God (v. 10)

E. Being Strengthened with All Power to Endure! (v. 11)

Let’s notice a sixth request Paul makes for these believers —

F. Giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified us as holy people (v. 12)

Thankfulness. It seems to be a lost art or practice or orientation. But I need to pray for others that they would be marked by a joyful thanks! What other “thanks” could there be? Well, one might argue for reluctant thanks or conditional thanks or desperate thanks. But we should long for others to practice giving joyful thanks to the Father

Why? At the very least because He has qualified us as holy people! We didn’t qualify ourselves, did we?

Question: For whom are you praying that they will be marked by a JOYFUL THANKFULNESS, recognizing that God Himself has qualified them as holy people?

 

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #44 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 16

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, and to bless those who persecute them.

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 15.

The sixteenth critical imperative is —

16. Believers are to USE THEIR EMOTIONS FOR THE LORD . . . AND FOR EACH OTHER (v. 16)!

“Feelings, nothing  more than feelings . . .” A popular song reminds us that we are often victims of our own emotions. “You can’t help how you feel!”, I’ve heard Christians say. No? We can’t?

The emotional life of the believer is very important. The Lord Jesus displayed various emotions in His earthly life — and we are to model every aspect of our lives after Him. Perhaps we can’t help our initial emotional response to something, but we are to have control over continuing emotions.  And we can choose to identify with other believers in their joy and sorrow. This assumes that we are attentive to their emotional state and that we want to encourage them in their circumstance, whether that circumstance is joyful or mournful.

What control do we have over our emotions? From this critical imperative we must conclude that we can identify with those who are rejoicing — and join them in their pleasure. We can empathize with those who are grieving — and join them in their sorrow.

Today’s Challenge: Think of a specific believer that you know right now who is going through either joy or sorrow. How might you express your identification with that person?

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #38 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 10

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 11.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, and to keep one’s spiritual fervor!

The tenth critical imperative is —10. Believers are TO BE JOYFUL IN HOPE! (v. 12)

I don’t know about you, but a joyful Christian is an arresting advertisement for the gospel! And we are to be “joyful in hope.” What does that mean? Our present circumstances do not necessarily give us joy. Nor does thinking about our past, especially our failures, provide us happiness. Our JOY is in the Lord and in what He is going to do in the future! Ours is a hope-starved world. Although some may suffer from biological or chemical depression, the normal Christian life is to be one of JOY!

Today’s Challenge: Would you describe yourself as a JOYFUL follower of Jesus? What is producing JOY in you? Is it your JOY in the HOPE of God using you in this world?

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Happiness)

Happiness. It’s our “inalienable right,” right? I’ve been working on a study of the word “joy” in the book of Philippians — and will soon inflict it, I mean, share it on this blog. I pray that your joy will surpass any kind of shallow happiness this world can inflict on you today!

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2020 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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Why Shouldn’t the World Think Us WEIRD? (A Study of I Peter 1:8-9) Part 3

My friend Frank and I are now going through I Peter. This is our read-the-same-chapter-every-day-for-a-week online Bible study which I’ve described here. We’re making great progress going through the epistles of the New Testament. But the following passage from I Peter really got me thinking:

Please forgive my underlining and bolding and changing colors, but these two verses kind of hit me between the eyes. And they help me not to be so surprised when the world looks at me funny and thinks I need medication or a lengthy stay in a mental hospital. Let’s continue our study of these two verses:

I. We Love What We Do Not See!

In Part 1 we saw that believers presently do not see the Lord — but OTHERS have seen Him! And have testified (at the cost of their lives) of that fact. We looked briefly at I John 1 and noticed the empirical language John uses about having seen the Lord Jesus.

Let’s notice a second truth in this text and it is that —

II. We Believe in Him! (v. 8)

Belief is a big deal in the Bible! But BELIEF in the Bible is not gullibility! The evidentiary basis of the Christian faith is real. And we are not fools for BELIEVING in Him!

Let’s continue our study by noticing —

III. We Are Filled with an Inexpressible and Glorious Joy (v. 8)

Our world desperately needs joy-filled followers of Jesus! As a result of believing in Jesus, Peter tells us, “you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”! Is that true of you, my friend? Right now? This joy is described as (1) inexpressible (we can’t really put it into words) and (2) glorious (a joy reflecting the glory of our God). How often should the believer pray, “Lord, restore to me the joy of my salvation!”? As someone has said, “Christians owe it to the world to be supernaturally joyful!” (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2020 in I Peter 1

 

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Got . . . Comfort? (A Study of 2 Corinthians 7:5-7)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

Let us continue our study of several verses in chapter seven:

Got . . . Comfort? (A Study of 2 Corinthians 7:5-7)

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 7

 

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Boundless Joy! (A Study of 2 Corinthians 7:4-8)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now continuing our study of several verses in chapter seven:

Boundless Joy! (A Study of 2 Corinthians 7:4-8)

I. Joy Comes in the Midst of Troubles! (vv. 4-5)

>> no rest, harassed at every turn, conflicts on the outside, fears within

II. Joy Is Connected to Comfort! (v. 6)

III. Joy Is Communal! (v. 7)

IV. Joy Is Connected to the Spiritual Progress of Others! (v. 8)

V. Joy Can Grow! (v. 8)

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 7

 

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“Working for Your Joy” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 1:24)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter one:

“Working for Your Joy” (A Study of 2 Corinthians 1:24)

Notice the words “we work with you for your joy.” What a fascinating statement. Joy is WORK! And sometimes we need others to assist us in achieving that joy. The Darby translation renders this verse as “Not that we rule over your faith, but are fellow-workmen of your joy . . .” Fellow-workmen. We can join others and labor for their joy.

The Living Bible has the following translation: “I want to be able to do something about your joy: I want to make you happy, not sad.” Joy is deeper than happiness, isn’t it? Happiness often depends on happenings. Joy is much more solid, grounded, resistant to the joy-killers that surround us. [I’m working on a short book on the uses of “joy” in Philippians tentatively called “Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World”].

Please note Paul’s justification for his laboring for the joy of the Corinthians: “because it is by faith you stand firm.” When we waffle in our faith, when we collapse under the attacks of the world around us and the doubts within us, we lose our joy. But God wants His people — you and me! — to stand firm, to lean on our trust in Christ, to be people of contagious joy!

Today’s Challenge: Got anybody who is working for your joy? Are you laboring to help others re-discover and re-deploy their joy in knowing Christ? It’s time to get to work — and do so joyfully!

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2020 in joy

 

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