Tag Archives: john macarthur

Secure in Christ

“Once Jesus entered the heavenly Holy of Holies, He did not leave, as did the Jewish high priests. Rather, ‘He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high’ (Heb. 1:3). And Jesus remains there forever as the guardian of our souls. Such absolute security is almost incomprehensible. Not only are our souls anchored within the impregnable, inviolable heavenly sanctuary, but our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, stands guard over them as well!”

– John MacArthur, from “Saved Without a Doubt”

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New Year’s Devotional – John MacArthur

“Enter the coming year with renewed hope in the power of God to do through you what you cannot, to surrender yourself fully to His lordship, and to so fully enjoy the freedom of forgiven sin that you forsake its allures completely, welcoming others to experience forgiveness as well.”

– John MacArthur, from Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Volume III, p. 374

Anxious For Nothing (Pt. 2)

I finished John MacArthur’s book Anxious For Nothing this week. In my last post, I talked about how Pastor John exhorts us to observe God’s care for us and weigh our anxiety against it. He then discusses how to attack anxiety in prayer and taking your cares and placing them with God (1 Peter 5). MacArthur also stresses the importance of Christian community in battling anxiety, with Martin Luther once alluded to with his famous quote, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” MacArthur then finishes the latter part of the book discussing how we can find peace in every circumstance, and the keys to Christian contentment. The book concludes with an appendix of Psalm selections that deal specifically with anxiety, along with a study guide with helpful, practical questions for yourself or group study.

Pastor John has an interesting chapter in the middle of the book titled, “Dealing with Problem People”. He puts these problem people under five basic headings: “the unruly”, “the fainthearted”, “the weak”, “the wearisome”, and the outright wicked. While MacArthur talks about how to identify and then deal with these groups as his focus, I found this to be a good spiritual exam for myself. Which of these tendencies do I have myself ? Do I increase the anxiety of others around me because I’m “spiritually AWOL”, as MacArthur says, with no interest in helping or serving others ? Am I apathetic to the needs of my local church ? I think MacArthur may have intended this chapter to guide our responses to so-called problem people, but I found it to be a good self-examination, maybe in a way that Paul intended in 2 Corinthians 13.

I’ve now read several of MacArthur’s books (you can click on Reading List at the top of the page to see which ones) and would have to say this one is my favorite. It’s much different in tone than many of his books – here he is a deeply concerned pastor helping others to remember God’s promises and commandments to us in Scripture about the dangers of anxiety. I’d recommend it highly to anyone. This quote (p. 29) was one of my favorites from the book:

“When you or I worry, we are choosing to be mastered by our circumstances instead of by the truth of God. The hardships and trials of life pale in comparison to the greatness of our salvation. Jesus wants us to realize it doesn’t make sense to believe God can save us from eternal hell but not help us in the practical matters of life…When you catch yourself worrying, go back to Scripture and have your eyes opened again.”

Anxious For Nothing (Pt. 1)

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:27 (ESV)

A few weeks ago I received a book from Grace To You called Anxious For Nothing, written by John MacArthur. I started reading it about ten days ago and thought I’d journal here about what I’m learning from this book.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you I’m a bit of a worrywart. It’s something I’ve carried with me from childhood. There are times that the anxiousness goes away and hides for a while, but the tendency to worry always lies somewhere under the surface. I know of course that this type of behavior is something we are directly commanded not to do in Scripture – the examples of Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:6-7 probably being the most well known. The circumstances of my life the last half of this year have heightened the worry it seems – losing my Dad, changing jobs and continually searching for a new one, family issues – all of these have made me feel a bit unsettled. My mind has trouble shutting off at night and I’m always thinking about what’s coming up, what’s next. I’m definitely not much of a “live in the moment” person these days.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

For these reasons I was especially looking forward to reading this book from John MacArthur. In the first chapter of this book, MacArthur relates a scene from Sherlock Holmes and a conversation between Holmes and Dr. Watson. Holmes asks Watson to recount how many steps there are leading from a hall to a certain room. Watson explains that he doesn’t know, even though he’s been up & down those stairs hundreds of times. Holmes responds, “You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.”

MacArthur asks us to identify with Holmes or Watson in this passage, with the implication that many of us lean towards Watson. How true this is. Each worry that we come across somehow seems different than one in the past. But yet, how graciously did God provide for us the last time we worried so ? Worry, as MacArthur explains, really signifies our lack of faith. I’d also suggest it may be an example of pride as well, thinking this issue or problem is even too big for God to handle – only our worry and anxiousness can help figure this one out.

Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Sometimes I wonder how much of the old has really passed away in my case. God created us in His own image – but how much of our life before Christ is still “hardwired” in, or how much of what makes you “you” is still there and will always be ? Is the fact that we worry less than in years past an example of the progression of our sanctification ? Or is worry in any degree a sin that shows how much we fail to trust God ?

In this first chapter, MacArthur asks us to observe a little more and not just see, and reflect more on the latter part of Matthew 6. Observe the lilies and the birds and see little they lack. Stop for a moment and think about these things. In our daily hustle and bustle, this type of observation often goes right out the window. But it’s crucial to cutting worry off at the pass, and meditating on how much God loves and cares for us.

In the second chapter of his book, MacArthur turns to “avoiding anxiety through prayer”. I’ll get to that next.

How’s The Weather ?

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
– Ephesians 1:1-2 (ESV)

Do you ever stop and think about what your daily conversations with others consist of ? I’ve been thinking about that lately and reflecting on what these interactions typically are like. If the person we’re interacting with is someone we don’t know all that well, I’ve noticed that there is one topic that by far is most discussed: the weather. “Hey how are you ? What a beautiful day, huh ?”“Boy I hope this rain lets up before the weekend !” For these acquaintances, co-workers, and others we don’t know all that well, this usually is the extent of our conversation, and then we each go on our way. I’m not sure if it’s just a society norm that talk about the weather is something that seems to unite all of us. In one of his sermons on Ephesians, John MacArthur discussed some of our other tried-and-true greetings:

“I mean, we go to somebody and we say ‘Hello’. What does ‘hello‘ mean? That’s really not very fulfilling or meaningful. Or else we say ‑ ‘How are you?’ How are I? I was because my mother and father were and then I was, that’s how I are, you know. Or else we say – ‘How do you feel?’ With my hands, what do you think?

I got a chuckle out of this when I heard this sermon, probably because it’s so true. And I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’ve never been one to enjoy big gatherings, where you’re greeting a bunch of people and the conversation never extends past the weather or highway construction or something else that we are all complaining about. I’d much rather connect with someone and have a meaningful conversation, although sometimes I realize that’s just not possible. I’m not advocating that we should greet others (Christians specifically) with a brief hello and then launch into a rundown of our sins for the week. But there does seem to be a distance that we keep others at, and it seems to flow from how superficial our greetings are with others.

The apostle Paul was not someone who was known for his superficial greetings. I’ve been reading Ephesians over and over again this month and have thought a bit about his greeting here, which is similar to many of his other letters. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Isn’t it strange how rarely we greet other Christians in this manner ? A few weeks ago at church, there was the usual greetings of others after the announcements and a woman said to me “May God bless you”. I thought for a second how odd that was among all the other “hellos” and “how’s it goings”. Paul is attempting to convey something significant here, above that superficiality. Albert Barnes, a 19th century theologian, explains that by mentioning grace in the first part of the greeting, “It is to be understood as connected with a word implying invocation. I pray, or I desire, that grace, etc. may be conferred on you.” By mentioning peace, Paul is wishing for “…not just the absence of conflict but echoes the OT concept of shalom, where a person’s life with God and with everything else is in ordered harmony, both physically and spiritually, and ‘all is well’.” (ESV Study Bible)

Think about those two terms – grace and peace. Don’t we wish for these to be extended to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ ? Aren’t these part of our prayers for them ? Then why don’t we greet others in this manner more often ? Wouldn’t that be more meaningful, and perhaps open the way for deeper conversation ?

New Year’s Wisdom from John MacArthur

“At the close of one year and the crisp edge of another, resolve that you will let Jesus take the center seat in your heart and life – loving others through you, serving others through you, exuding His righteousness through your mortal body, all for the praise of His name.”

– John MacArthur, from Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 2, p. 374

Grateful For The Word

John MacArthur

“I am grateful for the Word of God as a source of comfort, hope, joy, worship, and praise. I am also grateful for the Word of God as a penetrating, convicting, discerning sword that doesn’t let me get away with anything. As I expose my life to the Word of God, my sin is revealed. When sin is revealed it can be dealt with. It is that kind of cleansing that makes me able to bear more fruit, to my own joy and to the glory of God.”

– John MacArthur, from The Heart of The Bible, p. 15