I finished reading J.I. Packer's book "A Quest for Godliness - The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life." I highly recommend this book to any one interested in developing a deeper spiritual life.
God calls His saints, us Christians, to serve Him in the arenas of family life, church life, and the world (work, the arts, volunteer work, etc.) He wants us to "walk through the wilderness of this world" (John Bunyan's phrase).
The Puritans showed four qualities in their Christian life.
The first is humility - "the cultivated lowliness of a sinful creature who is always in the presence of a great and holy God, and can only life before Him through being constantly pardoned."
The second quality is receptivity - an openness to being "taught, corrected, and directed by one's discoveries in Scripture; plus willingness to be disciplined by the darkness of disappointment and inward desertion, as well as encouraged by happy providences; plus readiness to believe that the good hand of a faithful and gracious God, who is ripening His children for future glory, shapes it all, the rough no less than the smooth."
The third quality is doxology - the passion to turn each moment of life into worship - to offer up thanksgiving in all things - to glorify God by all your words and deeds.
The fourth quality is energy - "the spiritual energy of the true Protestant worth ethic whereby laziness and passivity are damned as irreligious, just because so much remians to be done before God's name is hallowed in His world as it should be."
These four qualities constitute a mind- and heart-set which nothing can daunt or destroy.
Puritan spirituality was based on four realities -
1) the sovereignty and sanctity of God
2)the dignity and depravity of human beings, made for God but ruined by sin and now needing total renewal by grace
3) the love and Lordship of Christ, the Mediator, the Christian's Saviour-King
4 the light and power of the Holy Spirit, who convicts, quickens, regenerates, witnesses, leads, and sanctifies.
There is much more I could say about those four realities but will save that for another blog posting!
I have found, in the reading of this book, a deepening of my own faith, increasing disciplined habits of prayer, Bible study, journaling, etc., and mostly a renewed passion to incorporate my Christianity into every part of my life. I highly, highly recommend the reading of this book to all my fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. The Puritans have much to teach us!
(quotes in this blog taken from J.I. Packer's book "A Quest for Godliness", 1990, Crossway Publishing; pages 331-332)
Meditating on scripture helps us know Him and the power of His resurrection.
Before He died, Jesus was in agony, so much agony He was sweating drops of blood.
"And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly
His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down
to the ground" Luke 22:44
Isaiah had prophesied He'd die for our sins.
3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
His sacrifice, the final sacrifice, paid the price for our sins. Our Lamb of God, the perfect Passover Lamb came to take away our sins John 1:29
He entered once for all into the holy places, not by the means
of the blood of goats and calves, but by the means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption
He rose from the dead as He'd prophesied. The angels say that in Mark 16. Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene,
who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here!
God freely gave His gift of love for us to receive. 1 Corinthians 15, the "Resurrection Chapter" states
...Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures... and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain...
May we each come to know Him and the power of His resurrection - Philippians 3:10
Have a Blessed, reflective, full of Thanks Giving, Easter!
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
It is good to meditate on the promises of God in His Holy Word. I receive a scripture meditation from Ken Boa's ministry five times a week. Here are reflections on the promises of God in the book of James. from Kenboa.org
- The testing of our faith develops perseverance, and perseverance leads to maturity and completion - 1:3-4
- Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (1:17).
-The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this; not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does - 1:25
-Mercy triumphs over judgement 2:13
- The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (3:17).
- When we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us 4:7
- When we come near to God, he will come near to us (4:8).
-Whoever turns a sinner away from his error will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins (5:20).
I've been reading "A Quest for Godliness" by J.I. Packer. This book explores deeply the Puritan spiritual life. J.I. Packer introduces the teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathon Edwards.
He also looks at the Puritan view of the Bible, family life, the Sabbath, worship, etc.
This book has really piqued my interest in the reformation literature.
Some of the literature I am currently looking at are
Richard Baxter's Christian Directory, available at chrome://epubreader/content/reader.xul?id=11.
Westminster shorter catechism and sermons from reformed pastors. See http://www.westminsterconfession.org/literature/
and Thomas Chalmers "Self Examination" writing - see http://www.westminsterconfession.org/the-doctrines-of-grace/essay-on-guthries-the-christians-great-interest.php
I encourage you to read J.I.Packer's book and/or read the articles available at the above websites.
Friday April 11 was my birthday. I invited some women friends over in the morning for munchies and coffee. It was fun talking, laughing, and praying with friends.
That evening, Kirsten, James and I attended the sports award ceremony at school. All the athletes from the various sports teams receive a participation award with some also receiving a special award for most improved or most valuable player, etc.
Saturday, April 12 I attended a prayer and reflection women's retreat at a local garden. It was a nice day of worshipping with other women and having time to journal and pray alone. This was from 9a to 4p.
Ben attended the middle school banquet that evening. He enjoyed the event, which was themed around the movie "Frozen."