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Psalms of Comfort, Part 6 - Psalm 42-43

April 23, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Do you ever talk to yourself? Some say this may be a sign of going crazy, right? In Psalm 42 & 43, however, we have an example of God-honoring self-talk, or, as some have called it, preaching to self. The psalmist asks himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” It’s almost like he steps away from his body and takes an outsider’s perspective, “Why are you discouraged and in despair?” He then turns to preaching to himself, “Hope in God!” ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort, Part 5 - Psalm 18

April 16, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 18 1 I love you, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. David writes this psalm as a celebration of the Lord’s deliverance from his enemies. It is broadly applicable because our enemies are anyone or anything that threatens our security in the covenant promises of God, that is, anything that would undermine our faith and reliance on God alone for our eternal well-being. Our enemy may be a disease, a besetting sin, a person who turns our attention from the Lord, financial distress, and more. Anything that may distract the gaze of our heart from the goodness of God is our enemy. Psalm 18 is a celebration that God can rescue us from all our enemies. Let me highlight some of what David celebrates. ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort, Part 4 - Psalm 139

April 9, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 139 1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Psalm 139 is a very personal and intimate psalm. There is great comfort in the intimacy with which God knows us and watches over every moment of our lives. Yet, there is a fearfulness of having no privacy before an all-knowing God. I had a Bible teacher in college say that Psalm 139 reads like a lament, a complaint that there is nowhere in all of creation where we can hide from God. There is more than a complaint in this psalm, however. There are praise and delight and comfort in God’s omniscience (all-knowing). Let’s consider the four movements of Psalm 139. ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort, Part 3 - Psalm 46

April 2, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 46 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort, Part 2 - Psalm 91

March 26, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 91 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” When Elisabeth Elliot wrote about her husband’s life and martyrdom, she selected Psalm 91:1 as the title: Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot. It’s a beautiful witness to the power of this psalm to sustain and comfort the people of God suffering under great trial. It also serves as a testimony to the providential care of God even in martyrdom. Jim Elliot abided in the shadow of the Almighty and continues to for eternity. ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort - Psalm 23

March 19, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 23 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (ESV)... Keep Reading

This is part five of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. Once again, in this series, we see that the name of a doctrine can mislead one’s understanding of the doctrine. The Perseverance of the Saints has often been confused as teaching something akin to “once saved, always saved… (so do whatever you want).” Even the wording of the name centers our attention on what “the saints” do, which also is misleading. So, let’s clear up the confusion first, and then consider why someone like me might love this doctrine. I like the name The Preservation of the Saints better than the perseverance of the saints. Not only is it more biblical (more on that in a moment), it also directs our attention on God’s gracious work. This doctrine teaches that those whom God has elected, called, and justified will surely be glorified in God’s presence for eternity (i.e. eternal salvation). The assurance of this is rooted in God’s work, not our ability to keep the faith. Consider this biblical support: ... Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace

March 5, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part four of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. Once again, we are confronted with the issue of unclear terminology. Total depravity is misunderstood as teaching humans are as sinful as they can be. Limited atonement is misunderstood as teaching that Christ’s death on the cross is limited in some way. And, irresistible grace is misunderstood as teaching that God will drag people into heaven kicking and screaming against their wills. God does not drag anyone to heaven against his or her will. We have already established that our wills are in the bondage and corruption of sin (total depravity). Without outside help, no one will ever choose God. Thankfully, God, in his mercy and grace, has chosen to help some to overcome their sin and respond in faith to the gospel (unconditional election). God’s choosing is never based upon our performance. Irresistible grace teaches that God’s initiative to save someone never fails. This is plainly taught in Scripture. ... Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Limited Atonement

February 27, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part three of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. Have you ever heard of a four-point Calvinist? It refers to a person who holds to or affirms four of the five points of the acronym TULIP. Typically, it is the middle letter “L” that creates this phenomenon. When I was in college and first introduced to TULIP, I initially called myself a four-point Calvinist. I believed the other four points were biblical, but this middle letter represented something not found in Scripture. The L stands for limited atonement. I argued that no one should “limit” God’s atoning work through Christ on the cross. The death of Christ is infinite, not limited. It turns out that my belief about limited atonement was rooted in a misunderstanding of the doctrine and the biblical teaching undergirding it. Let me unpack what this doctrine teaches and then I explain why I have come to love this doctrine. ... Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Unconditional Election

February 20, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part two of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. In my experience, it is easier for people to embrace the truth of total depravity than the truth of unconditional election. We encounter depravity on a daily basis. We are familiar with our hearts. We are broken, sinful people. But when it comes to our choice, we do not want to lose our freedom. The doctrine of unconditional election says that God chooses those who will be saved free of any condition in himself or in us. It says that there is nothing in us that warrants God choosing us. Paul argues for unconditional election in Romans 9:6-13, where he explains that God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau without regard to anything they had done. He anticipates the common objection, “Not fair!” in verse 14. Paul continues in building his case, stating that mercy is not mercy and grace is not grace unless God is free to give them to whomever he chooses.... Keep Reading

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