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Predestination is the Heavenly Father's Shout of Eternal Love

 29.1.13

Monergism Books
It has been refreshing to read Bryan Chapell's commentary on Ephesians. The way he explains God's sovereign election emphasizing His grace is beautiful and encouraging. 

So here you are, friends, some borrowed words from this commentary to build your faith. But first, I would like to suggest that you first read Ephesians 1- 2:12, since it is from the commentary of these verses that the following quotes are taken.

"Paul uses the assurance of predestination to strengthen the church for her struggles against evil and discouragement. This perspective does not solve all our logical questions about predestination... Predestination was never meant to be a doctrinal club used to batter people into acknowledgments of God's sovereignty. Rather, the message of God's love preceding our accomplishments and outlasting our failures was meant to give us a profound sense of confidence and security in God's love so that we will not despair in situations of great difficulty, pain, and shame."  (See Eph. 1: 3-6)

"Paul is using the doctrine of predestination not to separate believers, not to instill pride in our being chosen, nor to vaunt any special knowledge of how God's works, but simply to assure hard-pressed believers that God has loved them and does love them apart from any merit of their own. In other words, predestination is meant to to bless believers' hearts. It is not meant for endless argument; it is not an excuse not to evangelize; it is our basis of comfort when we face limitations of our actions, will, and choices. We make mistakes at times by making predestination the source of our pride rather than the basis for assuring the beleaguered whoa re wrestling with their sin and the world's trials. To such God says, "I loved you before the world began, so don't doubt me know." Predestination is the Heavenly Father's shout of eternal love that echoes in our songs of thankful praise as our strength is renewed by the assurance of his care. When predestination is properly taught, it accomplishes what Paul says is his goal: praise to God for his glorious grace and peace to his people (vv. 3.6)"

"The concept of choosing, which sometimes raises questions about God's fairness, is actually being used here to comfort God's people [Eph.1:11-14]. Paul wants everyone to remember that we are loved not because of what is in us but because of what is in God. The loving faithfulness of God that is revealed in Christ is the cause of our being his. The locus, or cause, of the covenant people being God's is moved from them to him; thay are his because of what is in his heart." 

"Nothing convinces me more of the need for the sovereign initiative of a loving God in my salvation that this assessment in Scripture of my total inability to save myself. The dead cannot save themselves." (see Eph. 2:3)

"...I must remember to make sure what predestination is really about: the revelation of God's kindness. Angry arguments and insistent harangues miss the mark when their goal is promoting the doctrine of predestination rather than advancing understanding of divine kindness...

We are not saved by right thinking any more than we are saved by right actions. There is no cause for boasting among those who know that their salvation is a gift of God. Rather, greater humility, love for God, and love for his people flow from those who recognize that their daily existence and eternal destiny are entirely a gift of God." (see Eph. 2:1-10)

"Benjamin Warfield said that the heart of  Reformed Theology is not predestination but grace...God loving us entirely out of his mercy is the point we miss if we focus on the doctrine of his action rather than on the beauty of his kindness. We will never in this life fully understand the mysteries of his sovereignty, but we can grasp much of his love in his heart. Relishing the kindness of God is the goal that predestination rightly seeks and the emphasis that should remain our message. we will not in this life know why God chooses as he does, but we know enough of Him to rest assured that his choices are good, just, and loving."

Under His sun and by His grace,




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Praying the Sermon on the Mount -On Walking Two Miles and Loving Our Enemies-

 20.1.13



©Katie Lloyd Photography. Used with permission.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.



Matthew 5:38-45

Father, here I am before you, reading and meditating on the words of Jesus. Lord, forgive me for I have many times resisted the one who is evil, and have not offered my other cheek, or my cloak. I have not walked two miles with my enemies (and here I am thinking of those who are the enemies of the true gospel, those who teach false doctrines, and deceive many with arguments of men). I am so quick to judge and not quick to extend grace. Give me the same love that moved Jesus to pray for the redemption of his enemies on the cross. I so need it.

Lord, forgive me for I have not given myself to my brothers and sisters, to my neighbors. "There is always a limit," Isn't that what we have been hearing so many times? But in these words of my Jesus, in His life I see that Grace has no limits. Grace gives and gives and gives.

Father, help me to love by giving and praying. Help me to love with my heart and with my hands. Help me to rejoice when your rain falls on the dry land of the unjust. Help me to greet the one I don't like, the one with whom I don't like to share a table. Help me, Lord, to love like you have loved me.

Father, Oh Father, make me whole, make me complete in You. Make me perfect, lacking nothing; that your name may be glorified when others see my conduct not only toward those whom I naturally love but towards those that my heart wants to despise. I want to be known as your daughter and extend love and grace as You have clearly showed me in your Word to do.

In the Name of my loving Savior Jesus,

Amen



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Late-Mid-January Status - Or Something Like That-

 19.1.13



How does living a quiet life has been looking like? Well, it sure doesn't look like a still life. It looks bubbling, alive, productive, happy.

This is some sort of my late-mid-January status:

Blogging: I miss blogging (and reading blogs) on a regular basis, but I have learned that as much as it is important to understand that there are different seasons in our lives, it is also important to embrace those seasons with a grateful heart. So I am embracing this season of less blogging with a grateful and happy heart. Maybe, if you want to keep up with my blog, it would be a good idea if you subscribe to it by email, or become a "follower.¨ You can also like our Doctrines in the Kitchen Facebook page and keep up not only with my blog, but with many other articles that are carefully chosen for you.

Reading: I am currently reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky because it is a book that no matter where I looked to, it was always recommended as an important novel for Christians to read.

I just started a little booklet by Beeke entitle, Bringing the Gospel to Covenant Children. I am sure it will build up my faith.

The Family, a book by J.R. Miller deserved a second reading after being on a shelf since 2011. I love how he writes, even though he doesn't address the basic problem in every family: Sin. I will write a review on Goodreads soon.

This year I will be reading Ephesians once a week (every Lord's Day) and to study it in depth I am using this book,  Ephesians: Reformed Expository Commenatry by Bryan Chapell. I cannot begin to tell you what a great blessing it has been to my soul.

I am still memorizing The Sermon on the Mount, and for that I am reading (slowly) An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount by Pink and the commentary of Spurgeon on Matthew. Nothing like eating Heavenly bread every day.

I am reading some poetry from Madeleine L'Engle. I must admit that I just love her writing style even though it is important to practice discernment when reading her books.

Exercising: Yes, a quiet life is a life in which I am learning to MOVE in Him. I am doing Pilates at home and some cardio on my treadmill daily. I feel good and happy as I am a learning to become a responsible stewart of the health God has given me.

Learning: I am so blessed to have friends that encourage me to try new things, like making my own bread! That was a fun experience and my family loved it. I think it will become part of my weekly  routine (that is another reason I need to keep up with my daily workout!).

Grading: Mid-terms exams. What a joy it is to see the fruit of your labor and God's blessing over it.

Drinking: Coffee as always, but also coconut milk. OH.MY. It tastes so yummy! I love it!

Looking Forward: To a fun, fun trip in March with some girlfriends! Can't wait! (Plus, my sister will be there too!)

Creating: Still working on some pretty lettering projects. And I am thinking about giving away one here next month, so stay tuned if you are interested.

Holding: My oldest daughter and my son (shown in the picture) who are graduating together this summer. I love having long conversations with them and hugging them tight, and listening to their dreams. So much to treasure.

Counting my Blessings: Yes, I am still keeping track (as much as I can) of  the many, the endless blessings God bestows upon me; I am just doing it on my journal.

Pondering: On how much we need the Gospel to understand the world around us. If we don't start there we will not end there. We will end far away from it, in a land that knows nothing of the true meaning of hope.


Under His Sun and by His Grace,



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Praying the Psalms -Psalm 138-

 13.1.13


Psalm 138
Of David
 
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
    and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
    for you have exalted above all things
    your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
    my strength of soul you increased.
 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
    for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
    but the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

  Abba Father, I give you thanks with my whole heart. I give you thanks because out of love, you have given me so many wonderful things and have brought me through different situations in which I have learned how faithful you are and how much I need you.

Father, I give thanks not generally; I am not trying to be a grateful woman for the sake of being grateful. As your child I want to give thanks to you. Not to the gods of this world, not to fate, but you, Lord.

As I come to offer you a prayer of thanksgiving, remind me that bowing down is good for my soul. It reminds me that I am low, that I do not deserve anything and yet you bless me in so many ways. I am crowned with new mercies each morning and that is because it pleases you to do so.

Thank you for your steadfast love, your faithfulness. Thank you because you have exalted your Name and your Word above all things. Thank you because Your Name is powerful and your Word is a conquering sword. Thank you, Lord, because you promised that anything we ask so that the Father may be glorified in the Son, if we ask in your Name you will give it to us. Thank you, Lord.

Thank you for your Word, Father. It is there that we learn how to ask according to your will and not according to our selfish desires. Thank you for giving us your Word to show us the way, to live, to fight, to conquer over our enemies. Thank you, Father. Please, Oh please, may your Holy Spirit teach us to understand it and draw us to it every day.

Father, how many times I have called on you, and you have always answered me. How many times when I am weary or someone else in the body of Christ is weary and we pray you always answer us by giving us grace to endure the trials. You delight in increasing the strength of the soul of the weary ones. You always show strong when we are weak. You renew the strength of your people as the eagle's.

Lord, thank you for the hope we have in the days that are yet to come. Thank you because we will see one day all the kings of the earth giving you thanks and bowing down before you. They will all know that the words of your mouth are all true and wise. They will all sing of your ways for great is your glory.

Father, give me this day, this week, a humble and meek heart; give me a quiet heart that knows that you are Sovereign and merciful, and that in such a grand truth my heart may learn to rest and hold its peace. Deliver me from all haughtiness, from all pride, from all self-righteousness, and forgive me, O Lord, for the many times I have sinned in this. Renew me, cleanse me. Give me a humble heart, which is always a grateful heart.

Lord, I don't know what lies ahead of me this week, but I know that even if your will for me is that I may walk in the midst of trouble, you will most certainly preserve my life. You will stretch your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your hand will deliver me.

I know that you are faithful and you will fulfill your purpose for me, for my family, for my church because your steadfast love endures forever. Oh Father, do not forsake the work of your hands.

I pray this in the name that is above all names, the name of Jesus.

Amen




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Quiet Times in the Morning

 9.1.13

Still Life with Bible, Van Gogh


Reading books, listening to sermons, and having conversations that encourage us to grow in godliness is essential, and it is essential because sometimes the easiest thing is not getting up early to pray and read the Word of God. Many times our bodies win the battle, we stay in bed and then the rest of the day we feel like we are dragging our soul through the various circumstances and duties ahead of us.

I am now reading True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia by Jerry Bridges and in it I found great encouragement to keep on waking up early to have quiet times (praying and reading the Scriptures) with God.

Let me share a few quotes with you so that you may also be encouraged:

"Our communion should be more than just having a quiet time in the morning; it should be an all-day affair. In fact, Isaiah and David take us one step further. They talk about having communion with the Lord even in the night. Isaiah said, “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you” (Isaiah 26:9). David said, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (Psalm 63:6)." 

"The morning quiet time lays the foundation for our all-day communion with God because it tunes our hearts to commune with Him for the rest of the day. It is a time when we can concentrate all our faculties on worshiping Him in reverent adoration. It is a time when we can give undivided attention to His Word and talk to Him in prayer."

"We may have communion with God throughout the entire day, but seeking His face connotes an intensity of mind and heart that is usually possible only during our time alone with God." 

"Intense, organized prayer alone with God in the morning prepares us to breathe those quick, silent prayers that are needed so often throughout the day." 

"Matthew Henry says that to walk with God is “to set God always before us, and to act as those that are always under his eye. It is to live a life of communion with God both in ordinances and providences. It is to make God’s word our rule and his glory our end in all our actions.”
  
"How do we, then, practice communion with God throughout the day? If the morning quiet time is the foundation of that communion, Scripture meditation and prayer are the framework of it."

"We can meditate on Scripture — think about it and reflect on it — throughout the day only if we have it in our minds. And we have Scripture in our minds only if we have made the effort to just plain memorize it. There is no shortcut to meditation that bypasses Scripture memorization."

"Our emphasis today is on doing things for God, or on believing the right doctrines about Him. But few believers take time to commune with God simply for the sake of enjoying Him and adoring Him. In the church today, there seems to be very little of that thirst for God described in Psalm 42:1: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”


Under His sun and by His grace,
 


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One Thing

 8.1.13



In a year in which I aspire to live a quiet life, I want to keep in mind that there is one thing that should be at all times my motive, my motor, my life: to seek God.

Today I am sharing more about this at Desiring Virtue.

The New Year has begun and most likely you are now starting your daily routine filling in some lines on your planner. Some of my friends like to set new year’s resolutions, others (and this is me), like to have a New Year’s theme, but no matter what our plans or goals are for the days ahead, we should strive with all our heart and might for one thing.

One thing above all else. One thing before anything else. One thing from which all the rest derive: Seek God.

“One thing I ask from the Lord,
 this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4

                                                                   Continue reading here...



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2013 - Living Quietly-

 7.1.13

Geninne's Art


At the end of last year my friend Melissa wrote a series of posts that stroke down into my heart. She wrote about the importance of living a quiet life, about reducing the noises, the noises around us and the ones that we ourselves generate, which try to drown down the Word of God in our hearts.

The more I have been thinking on her words and the more I have considered the Scriptures on this matter, I have decided to name this new year “Living Quietly.”  
  
These two passages will be the foundation of my daily walk this year:

“But we urge you brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders…” (I Thessalonians 4: 11-12)

“[Wives] let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (I Peter 3:4)

It seems appropriate to me that in a year in which our family will be –for sure- experiencing lots of different and big changes, a year in which I know my heart will be easily drawn to be worried and feel uneasy, I will live reminding myself of the importance of living a quiet life before the Lord, a life in which like Aaron, I will learn to hold my peace.

What do I mean by “living a quiet life”? I am not referring to some ethereal state of the mind or of the soul. I am referring to something tangible and real. Living a quiet life means, first of all, that I will have to turn off the noises, the distractions that try hard to suffocate the Word of God in my heart. This means that I will have to be intentional and very careful on how I spend my time, and on what I read (specially on the web). It also means that I will have to continue being very careful on what I share in this space; it is my prayer that when you, dear friend, come here, you won’t find futile noises that will become a distraction to you, but that you will find wise words that will point you always to Jesus.

Living a quiet life also means that I will strive this year with all my heart for one thing, one thing above all the rest: to seek God –Psalm 27- (I will be sharing more about this in an upcoming post).

Living a quiet life means that I will aspire to mind my own affairs, to do the work that the Lord has placed before me each day with all joy and trusting in Him alone. Not worrying about the day after, but living in fullness the day in front of me is living a quiet life.

A quiet life is one that murmurs prayers all day, one that cooks yummy food and sets a pretty table. It is a life that looks for opportunities to serve others –starting with my husband and children-. A quiet life is the one that takes the time to listen attentively, that is slow to anger, to speak or judge. It is a life in which meekness can flourish.

Living a quiet life means resting on God’s promises and trusting that He is able to do what He wants to do in my life and the life of those I dearly love. Living a quiet life is a life that recognizes that God is sovereign and all mighty, that nothing can destroy His perfect plan.

A quiet life is lived under the mighty hand of a merciful God.


Because of His unfailing grace,



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 * A book that I will be reading more than once this year is: The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit by Matthew Henry 


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Who is Becky?

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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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