Aches and Praise Three Hundred & Twenty One

Dear friends,  


For those of you who have been reading this blog for more than a few weeks, you probably noticed that I quote from several pastors, including Dr. David Jeremiah, Dr. Charles Stanley and Warren W. Wiersbe. Today I want to expand my sphere of reference to include a pastor who is very well-liked by many: Dr. John Piper. While visiting the saints in Fergus last month, Karen and I received several excellent books, including one by Dr. Piper. In looking at the table of contents, one chapter title caught my eye: “Discernment by Desire.” I spoke a little about discernment last Wednesday at the “Evergreens” meeting in Niagara Falls, so when I saw this title, my curiosity was aroused.

Dr. Piper writes: “Most of the choices we make in a day are not made after consciously weighing a list of criteria. We dress and eat and sit and walk and a hundred other things without consciously asking: Is this the will of God? I think this is inevitable and good. It reveals our true inner nature. If we are going to do what pleases God, most of the time it will be by reflex, not reflection.” This reminded me of when I learned to play the guitar. After learning a song, I found that I would be able to play it many years later, thanks to muscle memory.
Dr. Piper continues: “This means that one faculty of discernment is deeper than reflective reason. What faculty is that? Perhaps we should call it the discerning faculty of desire. If choices are being made, moment by moment, without reflection, then the faculty of desire is not merely following the dictates of reason; it is following its own nose. Desire, or something closely connected to it, ‘smells’ the preferred choice and embraces it before reflection.”
Toward the end of the chapter, Dr. Piper writes: “We are to let our Spirit-shaped desires be our guide. We are to discern by desire. In other words, when we have narrowed down the choices into a small circle enclosed by biblical principle and spiritual wisdom and careful observation, then inside that circle we prayerfully ask: In which choice do we delight? According to Psalm 1:1-2, the alternative to walking in the counsel of the ungodly is to ‘delight in the law of the Lord.’ Our faculty of delight is crucial in keeping us from folly.” The Bible teaches that those who say that there is no God are fools. The psalmist David goes on to say that “they are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds” (Psalm 14:1).
On the news last night, a man on trial for murdering his wife gave an “explanation” of his violent action by saying that he reacted to seeing her pointing a knife in his direction and that he didn’t have time to think before stabbing her. My first thought upon hearing this was that he did have time to think before he flew into a rage.
The first murder in history is recorded in the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis. After God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s, the latter killed his brother. I’ve heard different viewpoints as to why God chose Abel’s offering. It is my understanding that Abel was favoured by God because he brought an offering that involved the shedding of blood. In Genesis 3:21, we read that God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve after they sinned. I believe that God’s approval of Abel’s offering reflects the link between the shedding of blood and atonement and forgiveness, as recorded in Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:22. Proper worship requires obedience to God’s directives, which is what Abel demonstrated.
Karen and I received some sad news today: Ernie Presseau, the brother of a Christian friend, passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. Ernie was very involved in community life in Châteauguay, organizing St. Patrick’s Day parades and other events for many years. We offer our sincere sympathy to Bob and all of Ernie’s family.
Scripture for the weekend: “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment; so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, not to bear sin, to those who eagerly await Him for salvation.” Hebrews 9:27-28 (NASB) 
Thought for the weekend: “We have the juice of grapes only because somebody has crushed the grapes. We have bread only because somebody has crushed the grain into flour. We have fully productive and useful lives only because God has crushed our self-will.” – Dr. Charles Stanley (from his book “The Blessings of Brokenness”)

By His grace,