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Can You Really “Just Do It”?

If you want to live productively in this fallen world, it’s absolutely critical that you humbly admit your limits as a human being, and then proceed to live within them.

You won’t get much encouragement from the surrounding culture. In fact, think about all the branded slogans, advertising campaigns, or inspirational Instagram quotes that encourage you to deny or even ignore your limits: Just Do It; If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It; Be All You Can Be; Impossible Is Nothing.

While the Bible is filled with verses about the importance of discipline and hard work, the limits on our abilities are extensive and profound. When we consider a typical day, we’re confronted with how little is actually under our control. When we reflect on our life, we see a trail of weakness and deficiency.

We can only be in one place at a time, no matter how hard we dream. We can’t tell gravity that impossible is nothing. We can’t just do it and be all we can be without oxygen, food and water. Which, by the way, we don’t supply for ourselves.

We can’t remove our words and actions from history or redo a situation. We can’t know the details of tomorrow, let alone know where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing in five years.

We can’t accurately read the desires or predict the actions of someone else, and certainly not control them. We can’t make our acquaintances respect us, and we can’t assure that our family members will treat us with love. We can’t change our spouse or force our children to have faith.

We can’t avoid natural disasters or protect ourselves from suffering. We can’t ward off disease and sickness or keep ourselves from aging. We can’t defy the mortality of our humanity.

Discouraged? Don’t be, and don’t panic; reality is a healthy place to be.

Think about this: only when I humbly embrace my weakness, humbly admit my limits, and humbly recognize how small I actually am, can I begin to reach out for the help of the loving, powerful, and gracious Redeemer who is the true source of my strength, wisdom, and hope.

Only then can I begin to function as an instrument in his powerful hands, rather than being in his way because, in forgetting who I am and who he is, I have been trying to do his job.

You don’t have to fear your limits. They were designed by the God who is the definition of everything that is knowledgeable, understanding, wise, and true. Your limits are not a flaw in his creative plan. They are the product of his wise choice and the fulfillment of his intentions. God made you limited, in exactly the way you are.

Your limits are meant to drive you in humble and worshipful need to your Lord, who has promised never to turn a deaf ear to the cry of his children (Psalm 34:15). He has welcomed you to cast your care on him (1 Peter 5:7). He has said that he will never leave you by yourself (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Admitting your limits is not a sign of weakness; it’s an essential ingredient of mature faith.

By Paul Tripp

The Spiritual Stream

Our family lives in the desert of Scottsdale, Arizona. The landscape is dry red clay with little vegetation beyond cacti in most places. All of that changes, however, where there is flowing water. Wherever there is a creek or fresh water well, there is lush green vegetation that grows up around that life-giving water source.

The same God who made the physical world also made the spiritual world, and the visible world helps us learn about the invisible world. For this reason, Jesus often used physical needs to teach us about deeper spiritual needs.

In John 4, Jesus sits at a well in a forsaken place called Samaria. He speaks to a woman who is an outcast – even among the nation of outcasts. Samaria was a town full of the sexual perversion and the occult, and this woman was apparently rejected even by her own people.

Sitting by the well where she came to draw water, Jesus used the metaphor of water to speak to the woman of salvation, or living water, that accompanies the Holy Spirit. Our soul is like a desert, while the Holy Spirit is like a limitless spring that nourishes and hydrates our soul. The Holy Spirit is like a stream that flows through God’s children, washing away all that is unclean and bringing life and health. Not understanding the metaphorical nature of Jesus’ speech, the woman asked Him for this ever-flowing water that would allow her to never return to the well to draw its water again.

Then, in a clever attempt to expose her sin and need for God’s forgiveness, Jesus requested that she first go home to get her husband before He would give her living water. She replied with a half-truth: that she had no husband. Jesus then named her sin, telling her that He knew that she had been married five times and was now living in sin with a man who was not her husband.

The woman then recognized Jesus as a prophet. This is not surprising since the Samaritans were not waiting for a Messiah, but instead for the promised prophet who would be like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:14–22). And, in referring to Jesus as “sir,” we see her respect for Him increase. The scene is slowly building and her life will soon change.

How is your soul? How can you invite the Holy Spirit to flow in your soul and bring His life (e.g., prayer, Bible reading, worship, killing a bad habit, etc.)?

By Mark Driscoll

The Boy Who is Lord: Worshiping Instead of Worrying

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
(Luke 1:46-56)

 

Unmarried. Poor. Young. Pregnant. Mary has a lot to worry about.

Rather than worrying, however, we find her worshiping in Luke 1:46–55. Mary belts out a beautiful, spontaneous, anointed, worshipful song in response to God’s goodness and long-awaited provision. Worship encompasses all of life, but it most assuredly includes singing. Mary sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

What she’s saying is that deep down, from a heart made new by the grace of God, she wants to worship the Lord. Her life may be uncertain, but she wants God to be honored and glorified because He is good even when times are hard. Her spirit and the Holy Spirit intersect to honor Jesus—the son in her womb—that God the Father might get praise.

Her song continues, and we see more of Mary’s heart. Like all of us, she is an image-bearer of God, made to mirror God. She reflects Him beautifully in her song, which highlights the love, truth, compassion, justice, selflessness, and humility of God.

Mary is a theologically astute teenage worshiper. Her lyrics are saturated with biblical language drawn from 1 and 2 Samuel, Deuteronomy, Job, the Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah—all of this despite the fact that it would have been very unusual for a woman of her age and upbringing to be formally educated. Perhaps she heard the Scriptures read to her in synagogue each Sabbath and committed them to memory. In any case, she has chosen to live her life top-down: She trusts the Scriptures, she understands who God is, and she lives her life in light of that reality in the most difficult of circumstances.

What worries or stresses do your mind drift toward throughout the day? How can you worship God and fight for joy in these moments?

Mark Driscoll

Lessons from the Desert

The Source of Wisdom

 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7, ESV et al.).

Everyone needs a new beginning with God. That is why we receive the gospel. We want what only God can do for us, and the fear of the Lord is how we receive it. The fear of the Lord is both a doorway and a pathway. It is a new beginning, and it never ends.

What then is the fear of the Lord? It is not a cringing dread before the Lord. The fear of the Lord is openness to him, eagerness to please him, humility to be instructed by him (Prov. 15:33). The fear of the Lord is a willingness to turn from evil and change (Job 28:28). The fear of the Lord is surrender to his will (Gen. 22:12). The fear of the Lord is one way we love him (Deut. 6:2, 5). Reverence toward God, perhaps surprisingly, builds our confidence and flows out as a “fountain of life” into everyone and everything we care about (Prov. 14:26, 27). It takes us to a place of maturity where no one has to follow us around with a tedious list of do’s and don’ts. We are motivated from deep within.

 

– Ray Ortlund Jr. in Proverbs