Posts tagged #Scripture

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

The Ready Children of God

1 John 2:28-29: And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. [1]

 John uses verse 28 to summarize chapter 2 and verse 29 to prepare us for chapter 3. [2] Verse 28 reminds believers that they long to see Jesus Christ’s physical return, and have assurance of salvation when He returns, because He has redeemed them from their sins. [3] True Christians respond to Jesus’ eminent return by obeying God’s Word and proclaiming the resurrected and returning Christ. [4] Verse 29 teaches that if people have been born of God they will “practice righteousness” because their heavenly Father is righteous. [5]

 These verses help us see two truths. As Dr. Lane Tipton teaches, “Saving faith rests [on Christ] and is restless [to serve Christ].” [6] Salvation is exclusively through Christ’s gracious redemptive work and the Holy Spirit producing faith in us. [7] The truth that Christ has earned our salvation is the motivation for biblical living. [8] While our actions do not earn salvation, faith in Christ leads to serving Him. [9] May the Holy Spirit give us grace to rest and be restless for our Lord.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 287.

[3] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 287-288.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 288.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 288-289.

[6] Lane Tipton. “Christ as life giving Spirit, the law gospel distinction, distinction between archetypal and ectypal communion bonds.” (Lecture: Westminster Theological Seminary. Glenside, PA, March 18, 2017).

[7] Ephesians 2:1-10.

[8] Philippians 2:1-11; Colossians 3:1-17; etc.

[9] James 2:14-26.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

Remain in Christ by the Holy Spirit [1]

1 John 2:26-27: I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. [2]

 Regrettably, some Christian can act as if they do not need instruction or guidance. 1 John 2:26-27 states the opposite. Contextually, John tells true believers to ignore heresy because the Holy Spirit grows true believers (not new and unbiblical teaching). [3] John’s instruction helps us see that the Christ—given gift of the Holy Spirit makes all Christians, congregants and pastors alike, stand on equal footing because they all learn with the Holy Spirit’s aid. [4] The central message is “in the last three words,” calling us to “abide in [Christ].” [5] When we “remain” in Christ’s teaching, found in Scripture, by the Holy Spirit’s power we persevere in the Trinity’s providence, growing in knowledge and godliness. [6]

 Saying one prayer is not enough. Occasional church attendance is insufficient. Rarely reading the Bible is inadequate. Christians need to hear Christ-centered, biblically faithful preaching and teaching. [7] Certainly, life circumstances affect church participation and devotional life. But believers miss opportunities to mature in Christ-likeness and make themselves easy prey for deception when devoutness is absent. [8] Yes, salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone. [9] But how healthy can faith be when we minimize growth? May the Holy Spirit empower His elect to grow in the Triune God’s ways, as He has promised. [10]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 286. Kistemaker uses “remain,” rather than the ESV’s “abide,” hence my citing of him here.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[3] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285-286.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 286.

[6] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 286.

[7] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285.-286.

[8] 1 Peter 5:8-9.

[9] Galatians 2:11-21.

[10] Philippians 1:6.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:25-25: Abide in Truth and Happiness

1 John 2:24-25: Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. [1]

 Based on the title, you might be cringing in fear that this is about to be a health and wealth devotional. But John’s message does not allow us to go that route. In fact, John’s message is much better than self-confidence, self-approval, and self-sufficiency. These verses remind Christians of the joys they will have from remaining faithful to the Gospel John taught them by the power of the Holy Spirit. [2] By continuing in a biblical understanding of the Gospel, believers have fellowship with the Triune God and enjoy “real happiness.” [3] This “real happiness” is not infatuation with whimsical desires, but rests on the tested, true, and tried Word of God that can weather any storm. [4]

 This is why good doctrine is so important. [5] When we are careless in understanding Scripture and get quickly attached to truths that seem biblical without examining them we rob ourselves of real happiness. [6] Are you struggling to understand the difficulties in your life? Are you itching for doctrines that promote yourself rather than the Gospel? Examine what you believe against the Bible so that lasting happiness can be yours. This happiness may not make you feel the way you think you should feel, but will free you from deception. Will you abide in truth and happiness that comes from God’s Word, pointing to Christ’s redemptive work on every page, or will lies consume you?


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2018), Logos Bible Software, 198-199.

[3] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 199.

[4] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198-199. See also Timothy Keller’s “Our Identity: The Christian Alternative to Late Modernity's Story” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehw87PqTwKw.

[5] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198.

[6] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:20-21: Christ’s Anointing

1 John 2: 20-21: But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. [1]

 After mentioning the antichrists who have left Christianity by denying Christ’s identity as God and Savior, John reminds believers of their God-given ability to detect deception. [2] Christians are able to tell truth from lies about the Gospel because God the Father through God the Son has anointed His elect. [3] This anointing is God the Holy Spirit abiding with God’s children because of “the Holy One[’s],” Jesus’, perfect work. [4] Because of the Holy Spirit’s presence with believers, John reminds Christians of the Gospel as they battle heresy. [5]

 As we apply this text to ourselves, believers must remember that the Holy Spirit’s presence does not mean they know everything about the Gospel. Christians should spend their lives learning and living the Gospel. [6] John means that the Holy Spirit directs us when someone lies about the Gospel, and helps us properly proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection as we are sanctified. [7] For those who deny Christ and His Word: you do not have His Holy Spirit to guide you in the truth and are lost in your sin. [8] If you confess your sin and need that only Jesus satisfies, you will receive God’s forgiveness, and have the Holy Spirit’s help for life. [9]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 280.

[3] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 278.

[4] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 279.

[5] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 279-280.

[6] Philippians 3:12-15; Hebrews 12:1-2.

[7] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 278.

[8] Romans 8:7-8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

[9] John 14:6; Acts 2:14; Romans 5:1-12; 8; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, Galatians 5:16-26; etc.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:14-15: Undivided Love

1     John 2:14-15: I write to you, fathers,

because you know him who is from the beginning.

       I write to you, young men,

because you are strong,

and the word of God abides in you,

and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [1]

 If a husband told his wife, “I love you and this person I met online” would you believe him? No! Similarly, you would not believe a Christian who said they loved the Trinity but lived like the world. That is John’s message in verses 14-15. [2] John’s repetition in verse 14 reinforces the importance for spiritual fathers to continuing growing in Christ, and that young Christians only conquer through devotion to God and His Word. [3] Verse 15 clarifies that if we live in the things the LORD hates we cannot please Him. [4]

 Do you view Jesus as so holy and worthy that you want to be more like Him? Everyone could grow in this area, but if it is not a concern to you then you should be worried about your soul. Claiming to love God while walking in darkness is a dangerous lie for your soul. [5] If you are a Christian struggling to love God, pray that He would renew your love and He will gladly send His Holy Spirit to help you. Speaking to your pastor can also help, especially if there are worldly loves pulling you from Christ. If you are not a Christian, know that your love for what God hates results in death. [6] You can have life by confessing your sinful loves and need for Christ’s perfect work. When you embrace Christ, your affections for the things that are killing you will decrease, and your love for the Triune God will increase.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. and ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 187.

[3] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 268.

[4] Calvin, Catholic Epistles, 187.

[5] 1 John 1:5-10.

[6] Romans 6:23.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:12-13: Poetic Reminder

1 John 2: 12-13: I am writing to you, little children,

because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

       I am writing to you, fathers,

because you know him who is from the beginning.

       I am writing to you, young men,

because you have overcome the evil one.

       I write to you, children,

because you know the Father. [1]

 In verses 12-14 John uses poetry to condense his thoughts, encouraging all Christians—including spiritual fathers and young men. [2] “Little children” is John’s way of addressing his readers as their pastor. [3] John reminds believers that their “[s]ins have been, are, and remain forever forgiven” because of Christ. [4] (We know John references Christ when he writes “name’s sake” because of how John uses “name” in 1 John 1:9; 2:1-2; 4:10.) [5] Next, John focuses on those who “have gained spiritual knowledge of and about Jesus Christ” (fathers), and those who have defeated Satan “and rejoice in their salvation” (young men). [6]

 Why does this matter? Have you considered the joy and calling you have if you have embraced salvation in Christ? Have you thought about the liberating news of knowing that your sins are removed as far as the east is from the west, enabling you to receive salvation and right standing before the Holy Triune God? [7] If you are a “father” in the faith, are you training the next generation for service to Christ? [8] If you are young in your faith, when was the last time you rejoiced in Jesus’ perfect work and shared it? These truths should change our lives. [9]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 265.

[3] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 265-266.

[4] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 266.

[5] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 266.

[6] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 267.

[7] Psalm 103:12; John 14:6; Romans 8; Ephesians 1-2; etc.

[8] Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 267.

[9] Philippians 3:1-10.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:9-11: Christians Loving Christians

1 John 2:9-11: Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 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. [1]

 Keeping up the discussion on darkness in verse 8, John teaches that when Christians fail to love each other they are in sin’s darkness. [2] One scholar explains, “Whoever hates a Christian brother breaks God’s commands, is devoid of truth, and lives in spiritual darkness.” [3] When Christians love one another in action, they are walking as Christ did (hence the analogy of light in verse 10). [4]

 Loving Christians can be trying. Many believers have been hurt by other Christians—perhaps you have been hurt. If this is true, please know that others’ sin against you breaks Jesus’ heart. Also, Christ has promised to be near you and comfort you in this season. [5] Further, in God’s providence, even in these trials the LORD is not defeated nor surprised. [6] He is so powerful and wise He can turn these sins into opportunities to grow in Him. [7] May the Triune God also guide you to a church with wise elders who can help you as much as possible. [8]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 263.

[3] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 263.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 263.

[5] Psalm 34:18.

[6] Herman Bavinck. Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2 & 3, ed. John Bolt. Trans. John Vriend. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2011), Vol. 2 God & Creation: 173, 191, & 253. Vol. 3: Sin & Salvation in Christ: 29.

[7] Romans 8:28; James 1:2-4; 1:12-15; and The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, & the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), The Confession of Faith, chapter V.

[8] Romans 12:18.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:7-8: Living Gospel

1 John 2:7-8: Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. [1]

 These verses may look like contradictions: how can John give an old and new commandment? Before we give up on the Bible, let’s consider what John was thinking when he wrote. When John mentions “the beginning” he is referencing the first time the readers “heard the gospel.” [2] John is reminding the people he loves of the Gospel that saved them from their sins. [3] But how is this commandment also new? Because the author understands that believing the Gospel means following Christ’s commandments, including the “ ‘new commandment’ ” to “ ‘Love one another’ ” from John 13:34. [4] Because John’s audience was living according to Christ’s commands, John is able to affirm that they are living less like the world (the darkness), and more like Christ (the true light). [5]

 This is the life transformation that comes with solely accepting Christ as your Savior. [6] This does not mean that you will be perfect, but that God will mature you and help you live less like the darkness and more like Christ. [7] Believers need to continue clinging to the Gospel to have the strength and hope needed to live this old and new commandment. If you do not believe in Christ, then you do not have the ability to love others. [8] Once you embrace Christ by confessing your sins and acknowledging your need for Christ’s blood bought forgiveness to God in prayer, you will be able to truly love, and will eternally by truly loved. [9]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Colin G. Kruse The Letters of John. General Editor: D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 82.

[3] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82.

[4] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82-83.

[5] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82-84.

[6] Philippians 1:6.

[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

[8] Galatians 6:22; 1 John 3:16, 4:7-11.

[9] John 10:27-30, 17; Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 4:9-11.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:3-4: Calling to Character and Christ

1 John 2:3-4: And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [1]

 In 1 John 1:1-2 we discussed how 1 John is written to prevent people from being deceived into leaving the church. [2] 1 John 2:3-11 proves that the deceivers do not know God because they lack the character to obey Him. [3] Character in accordance with God’s Word, though it cannot earn salvation, [4] is evidence of salvation—particularly when it leads to believing in Jesus and loving other Christians. [5] Although Christians do not live perfectly, if someone is “characterized by disobedience to [Christ’s] commands” she/he cannot claim to have “an authentic relationship with God.” [6]

 A calling to character this big should drive us to the Christ described in 1 John 2:1-2. Failure to know God in Christ and love His people results in death. [7] The way to avoid death is to confess your lack of character, and your need for Christ as your only righteousness before a holy God. If you have not received Christ, cling to Him today. You will be saved and given the Holy Spirit to start developing Christian character. [8] If you have received Christ, what ways can you believe in His goodness more, and love your siblings in Christ better? Again, such actions do not save, but they should be things you desire as a result of God’s work in your life. [9] Pray that God continues developing your Christian character so you may continue rejoicing in His work in your life. [10]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Seth Dunn, “For Real.” Proclamationpca.com. Accessed 27 June 2019. http://proclamationpca.com/blog/category/Devotions.

[3] Colin G. Kruse The Letters of John. General Editor: D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 77.

[4] Ephesians 2:8-10.

[5] Kruse, The Letters of John, 78-79.

[6] Kruse, The Letters of John, 79.

[7] Romans 6:23.

[8] 1 John 1:9; Romans 8:13.

[9] Psalm 37:4; The Reformation Study Bible. General Editor R.C. Sproul. (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1832.

[10] Philippians 1:3-6.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

Psalm 27:5-6: More Than Human Victory

Psalm 27:5-6: For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

       he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up

above my enemies all around me,

       and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

       I will sing and make melody to the Lord. [1]

 Those who do not believe in the Triune God of the Bible may look at these verses and think that David is deceiving himself—that the King of Israel was grasping at straws to endure suffering. Are these the words of someone pretending away pain, or looking to a greater strength than his own? The world cannot understand David’s joy because it is lost in darkness. [2] David’s hope comes from being in Christ, which allows him to “fearlessly disregard the darts of his enemies, which might have otherwise pierced him.” [3]

  Christian hope, like David’s, is insanity to unbelievers. [4] Those who are dead in their sins [5] cannot be expected to have the perseverance believers have in trials. [6] But disbelief is never a reason to lose delight in God. [7] When believers treasure their union with Christ, they have hope in suffering that goes beyond the grave. [8] Truly, when Jesus Christ is the exclusive rock of our salvation we have a more than human victory. [9]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016). All Scripture References will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Romans 3:9-23. See also John Calvin. Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. I. Trans. James Anderson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 456.

[3] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 1, 455-456.

[4] 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

[5] Ephesians 2:1-10.

[6] Romans 8; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 1:3-5.

[7] Psalm 14.

[8] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 1, 455. See also John 3:16, 36;

[9] Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2, 32; Psalm 18; 28:1; 62:7, 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Acts 4:10-12; Romans 9:33; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Revelation 19-22.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

Suffering in Hope

Psalm 63:5-6: My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,

and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

when I remember you upon my bed,

and meditate on you in the watches of the night. [1]

When we are anxious, two desires we may have are food and sleep. Both of these are desires David may have had, and both could be denied him because he was fleeing his conniving son. [2] Food can be hard to find when fleeing in the desert. Sleep can be illusive when life is in danger. Yet, David does not feast on worry but on God’s soul-satisfying favor that sustained him each moment. [3] When David knew he might struggle to sleep, he committed himself to thinking on Who the Triune LORD is rather than his circumstance. [4]

Please understand: David’s behavior is not escapism, and ours should not be either. David understood that “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” [5] The God Who created David sustained and suffered with David. This is especially true for the elect because of Christ’s earthly sufferings and crucifixion. [6] We as believers suffer with hope because Jesus has endured the greatest trials and has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort and sustain us. [7] If you suffer apart from Christ, there is every reason to fear because your hopes lack eternal benefit. [8] Turning to Christ as your only Savior from sin will not end suffering.[9] However Jesus gives you the hope of maturing and guarantees eternity without suffering. [10] Why suffer without hope?

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016). Logos Bible Software &. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin & J. Anderson. Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. 2. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software 7, 2010), 438-440.

[3] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 2, Logos Bible Software 7, 438-440.

[4] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 2, Logos Bible Software 7, 438-440.

[5] Psalm 34:18.

[6] Isaiah 53; Matthew 8:17; Romans 4:13-25; 1 Peter 2:18-25.

[7] John 14-17; Romans 8; Hebrews 4:14-16.

[8] Psalm 16:4, 118:8-9, 146:3; Jeremiah 17:5-6; Jonah 2:8; Micah 7:5; John 14:6; Acts 4:12, etc.

[9] Genesis 39-40; 2 Timothy 3:12-17.

[10] Romans 5:1-5, 15:1-7; Colossians 1:3-14; James 1:2-4; etc.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Help for All Times

Psalm 63:1-2: O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

         my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

       So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory. [1]

 

Imagine that a close relative tried to kill you and chase you from home? What would you be thinking? Where would your heart turn? What would drive your behavior and choices? Although most of us have never faced such a painful and intimate threat, this is what happened to the writer of Psalm 63, King David. [2] In fact, David had to leave everything and escape to the wilderness because his own son wanted to kill him and usurp the throne. [3] But look at the heart of David. What does David want as betrayal drives him from his home to the Judean desert? He longs for God and wants to worship the LORD in Jerusalem. [4] David so desperately desires to worship his Maker that he compares his longing for worship to someone in the desert looking for water. [5] Further, David uses this psalm to remember God’s past (verse 2), present (verses 3, 6-8), and future (verse 5) faithfulness. [6] In immense suffering, David remembers his God, he believes and trusts in the Lord.

What do you look at when you suffer? This Psalm, as well as other Scriptures, is a challenging reminder that only God sustains us through suffering. [7] When you trust in finances, people, human philosophy, politics, etc., you may find comfort (see below) for the moment, but you will not receive the enduring hope because true security is found in Christ. [8] Only by trusting Jesus as exclusive Savior and Restorer can people truly face and grow in trials, and enter eternal rest. [9] Those in Christ have a hope clearer than David did because they know Christ, and all who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness as David did are promised “they will be satisfied.” [10]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016). All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] James Montgomery Boice. Psalms, Vol. 2: Psalms 42-106. (Grand Rapids, MI: Bake Books a division of Baker Book House Co, 1996), 516. See also 2 Samuel 16:14, 17:2, 29.

[3] Boice, Psalms, Vol. 2, 516.

[4] Boice, Psalms, Vol. 2, 517.

[5] Boice, Psalms, Vol. 2, 517.

[6] Boice, Psalms, Vol. 2, 518.

[7] Boice, Psalms, Vol. 2, 518. See also Psalm 16:4, 130; 1 Peter 1:3-9, etc.

[8] John 14:6, Acts 4:12; Romans 8, Ephesians 1:3-23, 2:1-14; 1 Peter 1:13-25.

[9] James 1:2-4; Philippians 1:6; 1 John 3:1-10; Revelation 21:1-8.

[10] Matthew 5:6; Hebrews 11.

AgapeStorm

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The Calm, Crazy, Whirlwind of Love

Read 1 John 4:7-21 and John 3:16 3 times, slowly.

As soon as we say the word, love, we find ourselves, metaphorically, on a rickety rope bridge swinging and creaking wildly in a tempestuous wind, dangerously high above treacherous rocks of meaning. We all think we know where we are, and despite the danger, we feel that simple calm and confidence; love is so familiar. We all know what love is, surely. It is stamped into our DNA so securely that, when we were young, we would ask, “How do you know love when you see it?” The answer is always the same, “Oh, yoU’LL know…”

And we do, kinda. Love is a feeling and a commitment, a force and a goal. When we’re “in it,” love makes our knees weak, or strong, depending on the situation. We become heroic, or bashful; silly or serious or forgiving. Love somehow breaks us and re-makes us, wherever it takes us. It generates more poems and songs and purpose and confusion than even our pets or our cars. We know with confidence from some mystical feeling that the Beatles were right, love really is all we need, or, for a song reference with far too many artists to mention; love does make the world go round.

The irony of the lyrics to these sappy songs is that, for a Christian, these largely superficial sentiments ring true in Jesus Christ. Since God is Love, love truly is all we need, and since Jesus is God, love actually does make the world, indeed, the entire universe, go ‘round. The rest of the irony, however, is that apart from God, love is confusing and difficult to define and understand. Of course, confusion is not God’s purpose, because love is central to who he is and at the core of his plan.

So, it is no surprise that for something so critical, God has a lot to say. Love is at the very core of the eternal, triune relationship (More on that in a future blog), such that, when God decides, together, to create and sustain an entire history of the cosmos, love explodes from within the Godhead and washes over every aspect of that story. In many ways, love is the why of everything God does for us. (Footnote: His own glory could also be used as the why of everything he does.) How do we know this?

There are three ways that God reveals love to us.

First, God demonstrates love in all he does. When you open the Bible, you see what God does. Every action is that of a loving father with his treasured children. The list of ways that he does this is endless, because every action he takes is an act of love. He walked with Adam and Eve, then disciplined them, banishing them from the garden. He called and protected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their families, and their descendents; the judges, Saul, David, Solomon, and Ezekiel, Isaiah, Hosea - everyone of his children. He listens to prayers, delivers from distress; heals, guides, teaches. He also punishes, disciplines, reconciles and restores. Every single action of God is ultimately a model of what love looks like in action. There is no better way to see what love looks like than to see everything that God does.

Second, God defines love over and over in his word. The passages abound. He tells us the characteristics of love and how to recognize it clearly. He tells us what love is, and what it isn’t. In his word, we learn why love has power and how to wield it for the good of others. Stay tuned, we are going to wade into many passages that will threaten to drown us.

Third, God incarnates love in Jesus Christ. Although I mention this last, it is by far the first in priority. It is no stretch to say that Jesus is the perfect expression of love, because Christ’s incarnation is how God chose to show us his love; a love that for us in the loftiest, most profound, and most intimate possible expression. And wonder of wonders; the eternal, triune love that Jesus has for us is best experienced through personal relationship as we are united to God through faith in Jesus. This is why John 3:16 is so precious to the church, God so loved the world that he gave his son. Wow! Suddenly, Love makes sense, but when held in contrast, this true love of God demolishes every other lesser concept of love.

Our passage from first John is a warehouse of content regarding love, but for now, we need to cook up two concepts from the passage and season it with a few other familiar ideas. Verse 11: Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another, and verse 19, We love because he first loved us. These two verses simmer in the pot and we are led to two inescapable conclusions. First, God wants us to love others the way that HE loves others (and us, by the way.) Second, God is the source of that love. The seasonings for this verse-stew are the two Great Commandments and loving our enemies. We must love God first (heart, soul, mind, strength). We must love our neighbors as ourselves. We must love our enemies.

This is a high calling. Love everyone the way God does.

Let’s cut to the chase. What is Love? What is God’s Love? What characterizes the love that God demonstrates, defines, and incarnates? What is the nature of the love we need to hold for everyone?

Here goes: God’s love is fervent, sacrificial, purposeful, gracious, expressive, bold, and covenantal. That is AgapeStorm. That is the challenge. We will begin to tuck in to this feast in the next blog.

This blog was written by Charles Fox

Posted on January 25, 2019 and filed under Teaching.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Matthew 1:22-23: The Greatest Rescue

Matthew 1:22-23: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). [1]

Matthew 1:20-21 teaches that salvation in Christ brings God’s elect freedom from the darkest evil and makes them possessors “of the greatest good.” [2] How did the Lord make this great rescue possible? By becoming man—as the Old Testament promised. [3] The virgin birth shows that God keeps His promises, and that salvation needed to come through a sinless redeemer. [4]

The Gospel is the greatest rescue because our sins are so awful. [5] The reality that the Son of God had to become human to redeem humans shows how far we all are from perfection. [6] The marvel of Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1 is our sins had separated us from God, and the Triune God rescued us. [7]

So what does the Trinity’s redemption mean for us? Christ’s work demands that all people believe in Him exclusively for salvation from their sins, put sin to death, and live as God calls us to live. [8] Only in Jesus can we be forgiven and spared from God the Father’s wrath and have the Holy Spirit to live as Scripture calls us to live. [9] Cry out to the Triune God of Scripture, because He will hear and act. [10]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software 7. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] William Hendriksen. Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987), 133.

[3] Hendriksen, Matthew, 133 and 143-144.

[4] John Calvin. Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke Vol. 1. Trams. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984, 98-99.

[5] Romans 5:6-11. For background, please see Genesis 3:1-15; Romans 3:9-23; 8:7-8.

[6] Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, 98-99.

[7] Ephesians 2:1-10.

[8] Luke 13:1-5; Acts 2:14-40; Romans 6; Galatians 5:16-26.

[9] Ephesians 1:7; Romans 8:1-2, 9; Ephesians 1:17; Galatians 4:4-11.

[10] Psalm 116; 1 John 1:9-2:2.

Posted on December 27, 2018 and filed under Devotions.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 13:5-6: Faith’s Focus

Psalm 13:5-6:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me. [1]

When you are troubled, where do your thoughts go? Does your mind focus on the situation? In the first four verses, King David repeatedly questions and cries out for God’s help. He sees his situation and asks how long the LORD “will hide [his] face from [him]” while his enemies overpower him. [2]

But David chooses to take his thoughts off his situation. [3] Bible scholar Derek Kidner teaches, “So the psalmist entrusts himself to this pledged love, and turns his attention not to the quality of his faith but to its object and its outcome, which he has every intention of enjoying.” [4] Christians do not hope in their ability to endure suffering, but in the One has been forsaken that His children may never be completely. [5]

Let’s go back the opening question: where do your thoughts go when you are in pain? Without the Triune God of the Bible, our best attempts to swallow pain are optimistic hopes for improvement. [6] Only in trusting in Christ’s perfect work for our salvation and forgiveness can we begin to have real hope in trouble. [7]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Psalm 13:1-4.

[3] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. General Ed: D.J. Wiseman. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 78.

[4] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, Vol. 1, 78.

[5] Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46; Romans 8.

[6] Psalm 16:4; Proverbs 1:8-19; Ephesians 2:11-14.

[7] Hebrews 11:1; Romans 8:18-39, 15:13; 1 Peter 1:3

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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Lamentations 3:24-26: Stability

Lamentations 3:24-26

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

            The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul who seeks him.

            It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord. [1]

As we continue studying Lamentations, we continue seeing how to have true stability. Lamentations 3:24-26 teaches that when God is the object of our hope, we have a sure foundation for life. [2] When the Lord remains the focus and security for our lives, we have abiding hope. [3]

But setting our hope on God is an incredibly difficult thing. [4] I do not know about you, but red lights can be frustrating for me: I do not like waiting for something I did not plan on. How can I, or you, expect to put my hope in God when something so small can so easily derail our focus?

Sincerely thank God that in Christ we have the perfect sacrificial Lamb. [5] Jesus never misplaced His hope, even when facing the cross. [6] Because Jesus endured, we also have hope for enduring trials and growing to make God our hope. [7] As we mature in faithfulness to God, we will see more of how He gives us stability. [8] Refusing Christianity is to refuse the Almighty’s stability that produces endurance in all kinds of trials. [9] Christians: in your pursuit of faithfulness to grow in hope, do not take the world’s counterfeit hopes that lead away from true hope. [10] Non-Christians: please consider what you hold on to for stability—if it does not have the backing of the Triune God Who created you, how long will it keep you stable?

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software 7. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5. Trans. John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1981), 408-409.

[3] Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5, 409.

[4] Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5, 409.

[5] Hebrews 8-10.

[6] Luke 22:42.

[7] Hebrews 4:14-17.

[8] Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5, 410.

[9] James 1:2-5.

[10] Ephesians 2:11-13.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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Lamentations 3:21-23: When Grief Strikes

Lamentations 3:21-23:

But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

            The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

            they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness. [1]

You may know, or even be, someone who strikes at God when grief strikes. After all, God could have prevented your pain, right? Lamentations gives us a window into the Lord’s view of suffering. This poem is written with the destruction of Jerusalem in mind. [2] If you have ever lost everything you could empathize with Lamentation’s author. But when grief strikes the author, he healthily acknowledges it while bringing to memory the hope he has in God. [3] If the lamenter focuses on his situation, he will slip into despair and rage against his only hope: the Triune Lord. [4] The Father’s “incomprehensible and wonderful kindness” in ordaining our weaknesses and circumstances to develop love for Him is our hope in “despair.” [5]

 But there is more. Do you know that God laments over the world’s brokenness? [6] He lamented enough that He went to the cross to deal with it. Christ’s sufferings ensure that His children will not eternally suffer. [7] The Son’s sufferings rescue us from despair so that we can grieve realistically and healthily. Embracing the Trinity found in the Bible is embracing hope for all circumstances.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software 7. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] The Reformation Study Bible. General Editor R.C. Sproul. (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1131-1132.

[3] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5. Trans. John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1981),

[4] Calvin, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5., 406.

[5] Calvin, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5., 407.

[6] Ezekiel 18; 23 and 32; Psalm 34:18; John 11:35.

[7] Romans 8.

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Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 Thessalonians 2:13: Self Help Recovery

1 Thessalonians 2:13

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 

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If you prowl the aisles at Barnes and Noble, or, if you prefer virtual shopping, the pages of Amazon, or even if you watch day-time talk shows, you will be repeatedly confronted with our culture’s passion for “self-help” books and programs. The fact that everyone is sooooo aware they need help at all is indicative of the reality of sin in both individual lives and our culture. The cultural message, in contrast, is one of petulant independence and self-sufficiency, which we know is just wishful thinking. Self help appeals to us, we like it, it serves our pride. We want to do it all ourselves, because, as another blind cultural assertion asserts, rearing its ugly head, we want to believe that everything we need comes from within, and we can trust our own personal strength and moral compass. Human culture is committed (call it enslaved) to self-help, which is a story whose real title is, “Humanity Serves up its Own Demise.”

The fact is that “The <<human>> heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9.) If we select some “inner voice” as our authority, we will produce a life of utter selfishness and deceit. The best we can hope for is that somehow, if we’re lucky, we won’t hurt others in our pursuit of helping ourselves.

In contrast, however, Paul commends the believers at Thessalonica, thanking God, because of the voice they choose to follow. Paul is rightfully exultant because these faithful hearers of his message (the gospel) received the Truth “as it really is, the word of God.”

So, let’s go back to Barnes and Noble. We turn the corner into the Self-Help aisle, and the Bible is sitting on the shelf. We open it, and we realize that this isn’t just “Truth” as an abstraction. The words in this book are direct from the manufacturer, the Living Person who made you, and created the entire cosmos; the One who understands your real needs and failings. These words are not mere opinion, but God himself is speaking the words you need to hear because they are the words God wants you to hear. His words are deliberate, specific, personal and powerful. Paul makes it clear that this powerful word is “at work” in you. The help that comes from God is not from within you, but it is help from God himself. Instead of promoting change from somewhere within the heart of a sinner, God’s words transform us with a purpose. With his word, God himself uses his might and wisdom to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

This blog was written by Charles Fox

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 1:5-6: Consequences

Psalm 1:5-6:

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked will perish. [1]

The previous blogs on Psalm 1 have been aimed mostly at Christians—calling them to guard their minds and live consistently with their calling from Christ. Let’s play Devil’s advocate: what happens if people do not to train their minds to follow God’s Word and live fruitful lives? John Calvin argues that those who disregard Psalm 1’s instructions will lack happy lives and face destruction. [2] Calvin teaches clean consciences from Christ are the key to true and enduring happiness, despite life’s promised troubles. [3] Further, while the wicked may seem to escape God’s wrath, and succeed in subduing their consciences, they will face the Triune God’s judgment. [4]

Why would you not want true happiness and justification? If you are an unbeliever you can cry out to Christ as your only Savior and way to God. [5] By trusting Christ as your sole means of forgiveness you will grow in holiness, develop in seeing every trial as a joy, and have access to heaven. [6] Christians: when we fail to abide by Psalm 1 we are living as if we do not want the gifts Jesus bought us with His blood. Holy Trinity, in your mercy please help all of us grow in love for you.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software 7. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentary on the Book of Psalms: Translated from the Original Latin, and Collated with the Author’s French Version, Vol. 1. Trans. James Anderson. (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981), 7.

[3] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 1, 7.

[4] Calvin, Psalms, Vol. 1, 8.

[5] 1 John 1:9.

[6] James 1:1-5; Revelation 21:1-8.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Psalm 1:1-2: Guard Your Mind

Psalm 1:1-2: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. [1]

If you wanted to protect your house, one measure you might take is to hire a guard to stand outside your door. Psalm 1 functions as a guard at the front door of the Psalms, warning that we must embrace God’s truth or face “ultimate judgement.” [2] The three negatives in verse one warn against departing God’s ways, and verse two reflects the importance of absorbing “Scripture as a whole” to stay on the LORD’s path, off the way to destruction. [3]

Because Psalm 1 is God’s truth, ignoring its instructions leads to condemnation. [4] Minds that reject Scripture are doomed. [5] The “law” in verse two is the whole system of God’s teaching and faithful living. [6] The consequences for disregarding the Bible’s covenantal law by the power of the Holy Spirit are catastrophic for believer and unbeliever alike, though true Christians are spared from eternal damnation. [7] Therein is the issue: we all fail! Our only hope is to cling to the one who faithfully lived out Psalm 1: Jesus Christ. If we trust in Him as our only means of forgiveness from the Father’s just wrath, then we can grow in His counsel, maturing in His way, as we await the day when we will sit with Him in glory. [8]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. General Ed: D.J. Wiseman. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 47.

[3] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 48.

[4] Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 21:8, etc.

[5] Proverbs 1:1-7; John 14:6.

[6] J.E. Hartley. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Vol. 2. Eds: R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Logos Bible Software, 403-405.

[7] Matthew 7:21-23; Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:5-8; Matthew 12:33-37; Hebrews 3:12-19, etc.

[8] Philippians 1:6; Revelation 22:1-5.