Christianity 201

September 13, 2014

Calvin on the Sufficiency of Christ

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
 ~ II Cor. 3:5

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
 ~II Peter 1:3

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother, cross-cultural worker, and the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full. Before we let her share today’s devotional, I want you to hear some of her story:

When my husband Dave and I got married in 2002, we knew that we wanted to serve in cross-cultural ministry. But we didn’t know any of the “w’s”—where, what, when. While we prepared for the “w’s” we completed seminary degrees and the details began to fall into place. A month before graduation our first child was born, and the next year the three of us stepped off the plane and onto the sizzling tarmac of an airport in the Middle East. In 2010, Redeemer Church of Dubai was planted. In our years here in the desert the Lord graciously blessed us with three more children. Life anywhere is a challenging, tremendous gift from God, and life in Arabia is no different.

To read more of her blog, start by clicking the title below to read today’s devotional at source.

Looking for bread in all the wrong places

Mindless snacking. Perhaps we all have a tendency to do this to some degree. I suppose it isn’t too harmful if you’re crunching on carrot sticks and not walnut brownie mix.

Sadly, we can even mindlessly feed junk food to our soul. A lot of times we hardly ever notice that we’re doing this until a friend mercifully points it out. Those can be awkward conversations, but we all need people in our life who are willing to step into the awkward fray and bring out Isaiah 55:2 for our consideration. Friend, why are you spending your money on things that aren’t bread, and working for things that don’t satisfy? Eat what is good instead!

When Jesus meets people who are looking for bread in all the wrong places, he consistently points thirsty and hungry people to himself. He is the one who gives water from the fountain of life (John 4:14, Rev. 21:6) and he is the one who gives the food that endures to eternal life (John 6:27). This is no mindless soul food snacking– Jesus is inviting us to a feast! The cost of bread in Jesus’ kingdom is simply to be hungry for him.

Isaiah 12:3 says, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Our faith does the work of dropping our bucket into the well of salvation, joyfully drawing upon Christ for everything we need.

I love how John Calvin has carefully parsed out the implications of Christ’s sufficiency in the packed-solid sentences below (I added some bullet points for fun). This quote from Institutes is worth a slow read.

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else.

  • If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of him.’
  • If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.
  • If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion;
  • if purity, in his conception;
  • if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain.
  • If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion;
  • if acquittal, in his condemnation;
  • if remission of the curse, in his cross;
  • if satisfaction, in his sacrifice;
  • if purification, in his blood;
  • if reconciliation, in his descent into hell;
  • if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb;
  • if newness of life, in his resurrection;
  • if immortality, in the same;
  • if inheritance of all blessings, in his Kingdom;
  • if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge.

In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.” (John Calvin, Institutes 2:16.19)

Perhaps eternity is an eternity long because we’ll need that much time to drink our fill of the infinite perfections of Jesus.


Some sidebar graphics at Thinking Out Loud and C201 periodically sourced from Maria’s Christian tumblr Blog.

March 9, 2012

The Best is Yet to Come

Today’s contribution is from Sheldon Bungay, who not only happens to be the Captain of a nearby Salvation Army Corps, but is also someone I’ve gotten to know personally.  It appeared first on his blog under the title, More Tomorrows! and you’re encouraged — you get pictures — to read it there.  NOTE: This was originally published on Valentine’s Day.

On Saturday evening of this past week, my wife and I were watching a TV show in which an elderly man had taken ill. He was sent to a local hospital and then chose to go ahead with an elective surgical procedure which his family was totally against. Just before the nurses wheeled him to the Operating Room, his son tried in vain one last time to convince his father to not go ahead with surgery. “Dad, you are being unreasonable!” was his last attempted effort before his father put up his hand for his son to stop talking and then entered into an emotional discourse that immediately not only challenged the son, but also me the viewer. His words were these:

“But one day, you’re gonna wake up, and all the big stuff, all the milestones you’ve been looking forward to – graduation, wedding, having kids, your grandkids – it’s all behind you. It’s all over. All you got is a bunch of yesterdays, and very few tomorrows.”

I have replayed these words in my mind over and over again during the last three days and I am troubled!

I am sure the author of these words was trying to get the point across that this man had very few days left on this earth, and his son should let his father live his last days however he wanted, with a sense of enjoyment, fulfillment, laughter, and fun. But I was left troubled, I was troubled because of the reality that so many people in this world today live their lives thinking the exact same way as this elderly hospital patient. They believe, I must live my life now to the fullest, because soon it will all end and everything I looked forward to will be over, and then what? Nothing!

I am troubled because this couldn’t be further from the truth in my life and in the lives of so many of my closest friends and family members. While we enjoy the events of our lives, and while we may experience a sense of disappointment or nostalgia for the past highlights of our lives, these things pale in comparison to the life that is still yet to come.

What I am referring to is the reward that is referenced by Paul in Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”

This is his goal in life, his one true aim is to have God smile at him upon their first encounter in Heaven. ”Whatever we consider to be a joy here on earth will be heightened millions of times beyond anything we can conceive when we get to heaven. The apostle Paul put it this way: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Today is Valentine’s Day, and my day started perfectly. I awoke to see three of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen in my life, that of my beautiful wife, my princess daughter, and my mini-me son all handing me chocolates, cards, and gifts that they had created. These three people have brought more joy into my life than I could have ever imagined. And It is because of this reality that I am absolutely pumped and can’t wait to get to heaven. Because if the joy that they bring me here on earth is heightened millions of times by God in heaven, then heaven is something I’m looking forward to.

Yes, my childhood, my high school graduation, my wedding day, my ordination, the birth of my children, are all things that are behind me and things that I cherish from my yesterdays, but I don’t just have a few tomorrows here on earth, I have many more in heaven, and I hope I’ll see all of you in those tomorrows!

“Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” John 14:19

~Sheldon Bungay

October 12, 2010

Righteous Desires

Today’s devotional, by Ferrum, VA pastor Terry Covey at the blog Seeds of Faith, reminded me that the Lord will give the righteous the desires of their heart because the desires of the righteous are righteous desires.

Devotional: ‘The Desires of Your Heart’

Psalm 37: Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Some interpret this passage to mean – “Show some affection to the LORD and He will reward you by giving you whatever you want.” But that is not at all what the Psalmist is saying. He is not suggesting that God can be tricked out of His blessings. No, not at all. Instead the Psalmist is saying – “Make your relationship with the LORD the delight of your heart, and He will share Himself with you to your heart’s content.”

Jesus said something very similar –

Luke 11:9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

13 If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Note – what we are to ask, seek, and knock for is not the riches of this world. Jesus is not saying – ‘Want something really bad and you’ll get it.’ Instead Jesus is referring to a deeper relationship with God. Note – ‘your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.’

The reason so many of us are so dissatisfied in life is because we are looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong pleasures. We believe that something new from this world will finally bring us satisfaction. Yet it never will. It may give some momentary pleasure, but as soon as the newness has worn off, the pleasure will be gone. Instead we should be searching for something deeper and more lasting. That is found in our relationship with the LORD. “Make your relationship with the LORD the delight of your heart, and He will share Himself with you to your heart’s content.”