Posts tagged ‘1 John’

December 6, 2013

843 Acres Advent: O Little Town of Bethlehem

by Bethany

843 Acres Advent: O Little Town of Bethlehem

The Text

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2 ESV, later quoted by Matthew)

The Story

Phillips Brooks was a Harvard graduate with a struggling career as a teacher. Although brilliant, he was frustrated with his students’ lack of ambition. After turning to pursue a career in ministry, he graduated from seminary in 1859. Two years later, he was called to lead the congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia, where he met Lewis Redner.

Together, Brooks and Redner became well known for their music and children’s programs. By 1863, the same year that President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, Brooks began to grow tired. In the midst of the Civil War, his congregation expected him to inspire them. They wanted peace and turned to him for assurance. As the war was drew to a close, Brooks was hopeful that things would settle down, but then the President was assassinated in April 1865. Although Brooks was not Lincoln’s pastor, he was asked to speak at the funeral because of his oratory skills.

Exhausted from the war, Brooks decided to take a sabbatical and set out for the Middle East. On Christmas Eve of 1865, he was in Jerusalem—far from his home in Philadelphia. That evening, he went to the fields outside of Bethlehem and meditated on the birth of the Messiah. He later told his family and friends that the experience was so overwhelming that it would forever be “singing in my soul.”

When he returned, he felt that he was at a loss of words to convey how meaningful his trip to the Holy Land was. He first wrote about it in his journal and then he wrote a poem in 1868. That year, on Christmas Eve, Redner composed music to accompany the poem. They shared the hymn with their friends in Philadelphia and, by 1874, it was published in The Church Porch music collection. 

The Lyrics 

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep the Angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His Heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee,
Son of the Mother mild;
Where Charity stands watching
And Faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:

Friday, December 6: 2 Chr 5-6:11 (text | audio, 3:53 min) & 1 Jn 4 (text | audio, 3:02 min)
Saturday, December 7: 2 Chr 6:12-42 (text | audio, 5:19 min) & 1 Jn 5 (text | audio, 2:53 min)
Sunday, December 8: 2 Chr 7 (text | audio, 4:52 min) & 2 Jn 1 (text | audio, 1:43 min)

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Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: As with any good music activity, we are taking requests. If you have a favorite song that you would like to see featured, email us at info@theparkforum.org.

___________________

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December 5, 2013

843 Acres Advent: Joy to the World

by Bethany

843 Acres Advent: Joy to the World

The Text

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity. (Psalm 98:4-9 ESV) 

The Story 

On July 17, 1674, when Isaac Watts was born in Southampton, England, his father was in jail for having been found guilty of teaching radical ideas against the Church of England. When Watts went away to school, he followed in his father’s nonconformist ways. He questioned everything, wanting to know why he or anyone should accept the way things were.

As a young adult, Watts found church music boring and uninspired. Although many of his peers agreed with him, they kept quiet. He, however, complained to his father, who challenged him to create something better. And he did—more than six hundred hymns and hundreds of poems. While studying Psalm 98, Watts wrote “Joy to the World” and set it to the tune “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” When he shared his music with the church, however, it was not well received. At the time, few English Christians felt comfortable with him having rewritten the Psalms. By 1719, he was able to publish the hymn in his new hymnbook, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and Applied to the Christian State and Worship, which also included “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “At the Cross,” and “This is the Day the Lord Has Made.”

Forty-four years later, Lowell Mason was born in Orange, New Jersey. In 1812, he moved to Macon, Georgia, to pursue a career as a banker and study Handel in his spare time. On weekends, he wrote music and arrangements. His musical creations were initially rejected, but he found a publisher in Massachusetts in 1827. He immediately left the South and moved to Boston. For the next twenty years, he was a prominent musician in New England—funding the first public school music program and writing more than six hundred hymns.

In 1836, Mason composed a new melody inspired by Handel’s Messiah. He called it “Antioch,” but he lacked words for it. Three years later, however, he linked Watts’s “Joy to the World” and his “Antioch.” Interestingly, it is unknown how “Joy to the World” became known as a Christmas carol. It is not inspired by the New Testament but the Old and it has no words that directly allude to the birth of the Messiah. In fact, “Joy to the World” could be a song for all seasons.

The Lyrics 

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let all their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love.

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:
2 Chr 3-4 (text | audio, 5:28 min)
1 Jn 3 (text | audio, 3:17 min)

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Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: As with any good music activity, we are taking requests. If you have a favorite song that you would like to see featured, email us at info@theparkforum.org.

___________________

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December 4, 2013

843 Acres: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

by Bethany

843 Acres: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

The Text 

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:9-12 ESV)

The Story

In the fifteenth century, church hymns for worship were usually written in Latin and set to somber melodies. Although few church members admitted that they disliked the tunes, the laymen of the time had no power to change them. The peasant class, however, developed an underground genre of worship music that was written in common language and set to lively melodies. This was their musical rebellion and it led to the foundation of our modern collection of Christmas carols.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen is an English Christmas carol that came out of this tradition. Although it was written as a direct reaction to the church music of the fifteenth century, it was not published until 1833. Ten years later, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens appeared with a quote from the hymn. Like the members of the old church order in the fifteenth century, Scrooge did not want to hear light and vigorous Christmas songs: “ … at the first sound of ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!’ Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.”

The Lyrics

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray. 

Chorus

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

In Bethlehem, in Israel, this blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this blessed morn;
The which His mother Mary did nothing take in scorn.

Chorus

From God our heavenly Father a blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.

Chorus

“Fear not, then,” said the angel, “Let nothing you afright
This day is born a Savior of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might.”

Chorus

The shepherds at those tidings rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethl’em straightaway this blessèd Babe to find. 

Chorus

But when to Bethlehem they came where our dear Savior lay,
They found Him in a manger where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling unto the Lord did pray.

Chorus

Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface. 

Chorus

God bless the ruler of this house, and send him long to reign,
And many a merry Christmas may live to see again;
Among your friends and kindred that live both far and near—

That God send you a happy new year, happy new year,
And God send you a happy new year.

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled: 
2 Chr 2 (text | audio, 3:09 min)
1 Jn 2 (text | audio, 4:02 min) 

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Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: As with any good music activity, we are taking requests. If you have a favorite song that you would like to see featured, email us at info@theparkforum.org.

___________________

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December 3, 2013

843 Acres Advent: We Three Kings of Orient Are

by Bethany

843 Acres Advent: We Three Kings of Orient Are

The Text

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)

The Story

Although John Henry Hopkins, Jr. was an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, he preferred the pen to the pulpit. Over the course of his life, he pursued a variety of occupations—law, journalism, illustration, and design. Even though he never married or had a family of his own, he loved children—especially his nieces and nephews.

In 1857, Hopkins decided to give his brother’s children a special gift for Epiphany, which is the last of the twelve days of Christmas (January 6). Also known as Three Kings’ Day, Epiphany marks the day that the wise men found Jesus and brought him gifts. In the 1880s, families celebrated Epiphany by taking down the Christmas tree and giving children the gifts and treats that had been hanging on it. Yet many children, including Hopkins’ nieces and nephews, had forgotten the meaning of the holiday. It had become commercialized.

Hopkins, therefore, decided to write a tribute to the wise men based on the gospel according to Matthew.  Recognizing that little was known about the wise men, he had to use his imagination. He gave the song a Middle Eastern feel and crafted lyrics that combined the biblical account with the legends that passed down for almost two thousand years. That year, he organized an elaborate holiday pageant (which featured his hymn) for the students of the General Theological Seminary in New York City. This was his gift to his nieces and nephews.

Hopkins later served as rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1885, Hopkins delivered the eulogy at the funeral of President Ulysses S. Grant. Six years later, in 1891, he died in Hudson, New York.

The Lyrics

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

Chorus

O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

Chorus

Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.

Chorus

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Chorus

Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.

Chorus

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled: 
2 Chr 1 (text | audio, 2:36 min)
1 Jn 1 (text | audio, 1:28 min) 

 

___________________

Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: As with any good music activity, we are taking requests. If you have a favorite song that you would like to see featured, email us at info@theparkforum.org.

___________________

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May 25, 2012

On Holding a Torch to a Glacier

by Bethany

Highlighted Verse: Isaiah 26:8
Full Reading: Isaiah 26; 1 John 4

Ultimate | There are many important things in this life, but there’s only one ultimate thing – the name of the Lord. His glory is the reason for which we were created [1], Israel was redeemed [2], and we will be glorified at the end of the age [3]. Our only appropriate response, therefore, is: “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” [4].

Same | There’s no conflict between God’s passion for His glory and our passion for our happiness. As John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” In other words, since He’s the ultimate treasure of the universe, the only place where we can find true happiness is in Him. If we find it in anything else, we won’t be satisfied.

Glacier | Piper has said, “I’m here to torch a glacier. I have in mind a picture … In Matthew 24:12, looking at the end of the age, Jesus says: ‘Lawlessness will be multiplied and the love of many will grow cold’ … I hate the thought that my love for God or my love for people would one day dry up or freeze up. Yet Jesus says, ‘It’s coming!’ It’s coming like a glacier across the world” [5]. Yet Jesus continues, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” [6].

Fire | Piper explains, “It’s not cold people who are going to get it to the unreached peoples of the world … It’s white-hot worshippers of King Jesus who will get that done. Therefore, what I see … is that, as the end of the age draws near, there are going to be people who are getting ice cold and there are going to be people who are white-hot enough to lay down their lives for Jesus among all the peoples of the world … If there are enough people with torches lit white-hot for God, torching the glacier, a big hole can be opened up over … your city. And that’s why I’m here. I want to lift my torch.”

Prayer | Lord, Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. Let our love for you not grow cold. Make us white-hot worshippers of your name, lifting up our torches to melt frozen hearts. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Isaiah 43:6  |  [2] Psalm 106:7  |  [3] 2 Thessalonians 1:9  |  [4] Isaiah 26:8  NIV  |  [5] John Piper. “Passion for the Supremacy of God, Part 1.” Passion 1997. 2 January 1997.  |  [6] Matthew 24:12-14 ESV

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May 24, 2012

On God’s Love for Cities

by Bethany

Highlighted Verse: Isaiah 25:6-8
Full Reading: Isaiah 25; 1 John 3

Urbanization | The nations are coming to the cities. According to the UN, about half of the world’s population lives in cities and, by 2050, that number will rise to 70 percent [1]. Kofi Annan has said, “We have entered the urban millennium. At their best, cities are engines of growth and incubators of civilization. They are crossroads of ideas, places of great intellectual ferment and innovation” [2]. Yet he also warns, “The very same cities can also be places of exploitation, disease, violent crime, unemployment, underemployment and extreme poverty.”

Judgment | Isaiah began his prophecy by bringing charges against cities, warning them of the Lord’s pending punishment. For example, he said, “Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins” [3]. Concerning Tyre, he prophesied, “They will be in anguish over the report about Tyre … Is this your exultant city … ?” [4]. What did they do that was so wrong? They didn’t trust God; instead, they trusted other kings, other gods, themselves and ungodly leaders [5]. Ultimately, Isaiah said, “The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered” [6].

Mercy | Yet God loves cities because, as Tim Keller has said, “in cities, you have more Image of God per square inch than anywhere else in the world” [7]. Therefore, the Lord longs to pour out His great mercy and love on cities [8]. As Isaiah continued, “The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine … and he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth” [9].

Prayer | Lord, We don’t love your infinite grace because it gives us license to sin. No! We love your grace because, when we fear your reproach, we are not afraid to come to you for salvation. For you have “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places … to the praise of your glorious grace, with which you have blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” [10]. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See United Nations. “World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision.” Economic & Social Affairs. Highlights. March 2012; Martin Roemers. “Living in the New Metropolis.” The New York Times. 4 May 2012. (Also note: The UN predicts that, by 2025, there will be 37 megacities – that is, cities with populations that exceed 10 million.)  |  [2] United Nations. Press Release for Kofi Annan’s inaugural address to Urban 21: “Secretary-General Calls for Practical, Achievable Programme to Make Globalization a Positive Force for All World’s People.” SG/SM/7479. 5 July 2000. Berlin.  |  [3] Isaiah 17:1 ESV  |  [4] Isaiah 23:5, 7 ESV  |  [5] See Dever, Mark (2006-04-10). The Message of The Old Testament (p. 571-574). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.  |  [6] Isaiah 24:3 ESV  |  [7] See Redeemer City to City (rotating image).  |  [8] Exodus 34:6-7 ESV  |  [9] Isaiah 25:6-8 ESV  |  [10] Ephesians 1:3, 6-8 ESV (changed “he” to “you” to accommodate the prayer).

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May 23, 2012

On the Opportunity of Love in an Age of Isolation

by Bethany

Highlighted Verse: 1 John 2:10-11
Full Text: Isaiah 24; 1 John 2

Lonely | This month, in The Atlantic, Stephen Marche asks, “Is Facebook making us lonely?” He writes, “Facebook arrived in the middle of a dramatic increase in the quantity and intensity of human loneliness … Americans are more solitary than ever before. In 1950, less than 10 percent of American households contained only one person. By 2010, nearly 27 percent of households had just one person … Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy. The decrease in confidants – that is, in quality social connections – has been dramatic over the past 25 years” [1].

Love | As we have seen this week, our Lord Jesus will return and, until that day, we are called to fight for holiness and godliness. Perhaps the greatest virtue for which we should fight is love. According to Jesus, love for God is the greatest commandment and love for others is the second greatest. Together they sum up the entire law [2]. John writes, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” [3].

Serve | In an age of social disintegration, isolation and loneliness, we – as Christians – have an incredible opportunity to love others. It is our greatest apologetic. At the Last Supper, after Jesus Christ knelt down to serve his disciples by washing their feet, he said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” [4]. Then he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” [5]. That is what the love of God looks like – serving others or, as Paul put it, considering others’ interests above our own [6].

Prayer | Lord, We are selfish people, but we long for your selfless love in our hearts. Open our eyes to the needs of others and help us, in Christ, to meet those needs. Help us seek out lonely and isolated people and love them.  Help us to think of ourselves less and others more so that your name would be made holy in our lives. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Stephen Marche. “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The Atlantic Magazine. May 2012  |  [2] See Matthew 22:40.  |  [3] 1 John 2:10-11 ESV  |  [4] John 13:14 ESV  |  [5] John 13:35 ESV  |  [6] See Philippians 2:3-4.

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May 22, 2012

On Confession and the Cross

by Bethany

Highlighted Verse: 1 John 1:9
Full Readings: Isaiah 23; 1 John 1

Lives | As we saw yesterday [1], although the Lord is patiently giving us time to turn to His glorious mercies, He will come again to end this age and that day “will come like a thief” in the night [2]. Knowing this, how are we supposed to live? Peter says that we should pursue “lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” [3].

Distinction | The distinctive mark of holiness and godliness, however, is not sinlessness. No one is sinless. As John writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” [4]. The unique mark of righteousness is the will to fight. Saving faith fights for joy in Christ and against things that threaten to take away that joy.

Confession | Confession is a key part of this. John continues, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [5]. Our sin was nailed to the cross when Christ’s body was crucified. That’s substitutionary atonement [6] – Jesus had no sin but became sin for us so that, in him, we might be righteous [7]. As a result, the evil powers of this world can attack Christians [8], but they can never wield “the weapon of unforgiven sin” at those who are in Christ [9]. Jesus finished that work on the cross [10]. Thus, our guilt may accuse, but it cannot condemn because only unforgiven sin can condemn and that was nailed to the cross.

Attack | Therefore, when guilt attacks us, we say the words of Micah: “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me” [11]. This is what victory over sin through confession looks like. This is how we fight for joy and evidence a saving faith that will carry us until the day of Christ’s return [12].

Prayer | Lord, We long for the return of Jesus – for now we see as in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see the glory of our risen King face to face [13]. Until that day comes, keep us fighting for holiness and godliness, as we confess our sins. Let us give no foothold to the lies of the evil one and, instead, cling to the Lord as our light and salvation. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 843 Acres. “On Whether God Keeps His Promises.” 21 May 2012.  |  [2] 2 Peter 3:10 ESV. See also 1 Thessalonians 5:2.  |  [3] 2 Peter 3:11-12 ESV  |  [4] 1 John 1:8 ESV  |  [5] 1 John 1:9 ESV  |  [6] Romans 8:3. See also Romans 4:4-6; 5:19; 5:1; 8:1; 10:4; Philippians 3:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21)  |  [7] See 2 Corinthians 5:21  |  [8] See Ephesians 6  |  [9] See Piper sermon below. See also Colossians 2:14-15; 1 Peter 5:8.  |  [10] Justification (Psalm 49:7-8; Romans 3:10).  |  [11] Micah 7:8 ESV.  |  [12] For an extended meditation on dealing with guilt from sin, see John Piper. “How to Deal with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause.” 4 January 2007.  |  [13] See 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

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