Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hymn of the Week - And Can it Be

 And Can it Be by Charles Wesley
 
 
1. And can it be that I should gain 
 an interest in the Savior's blood! 
 Died he for me? who caused his pain! 
 For me? who him to death pursued? 
 Amazing love! How can it be 
 that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 
 Amazing love! How can it be 
 that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? 

2. 'Tis mystery all: th' Immortal dies! 
 Who can explore his strange design? 
 In vain the firstborn seraph tries 
 to sound the depths of love divine. 
 'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; 
 let angel minds inquire no more. 
 'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; 
 let angel minds inquire no more. 

3. He left his Father's throne above 
 (so free, so infinite his grace!), 
 emptied himself of all but love, 
 and bled for Adam's helpless race. 
 'Tis mercy all, immense and free, 
 for O my God, it found out me! 
 'Tis mercy all, immense and free, 
 for O my God, it found out me! 

4. Long my imprisoned spirit lay, 
 fast bound in sin and nature's night; 
 thine eye diffused a quickening ray; 
 I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; 
 my chains fell off, my heart was free, 
 I rose, went forth, and followed thee. 
 My chains fell off, my heart was free, 
 I rose, went forth, and followed thee. 

5. No condemnation now I dread; 
 Jesus, and all in him, is mine; 
 alive in him, my living Head, 
 and clothed in righteousness divine, 
 bold I approach th' eternal throne, 
 and claim the crown, through Christ my own. 
 Bold I approach th' eternal throne, 
 and claim the crown, through Christ my own. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Great Christian Hymns

Here's a profitable project for you, especially my younger Christian friends. Tim Challies, on his blog the other day, posted what in his opinion are the 10 greatest hymns of all time. Obviously that is going to leave out a lot of really good hymns and so many, many people responded with their suggestions as to what should have been included. I was surprised at the number of different hymns represented and I know that almost all of them are tremendous hymns with scriptural lyrics.

So here's my assignment for you. Go to the link below where the hymn suggestions are located. Go through as many of the hymn titles as you can just reading the titles. Don't forget to look through as many of the comments as you can. Take 15 or 20 minutes to do this and see if you recognize most of them or not. Whether you know them or not, either make a list or keep track of where this link is found so that you can go back to it and as frequently as you can over the next several weeks, read the lyrics of one hymn at a time as part of your daily devotion time, either personally or with your family. If you can do this once a day, that would be great. If you can work through 3 or 4 in a week that would be good too. Maybe you can only read one a week. Then do that. If you don't have a hymnbook with the lyrics in it, use the Internet to find the lyrics. Read the lyrics slowly and carefully and think about what they are saying. If you are a husband and father do this with your wife and kids.

These hymns should be in the repertoire of every Christian in my opinion. To the degree we are not familiar with the great hymns of the faith, we are missing a whole segment of the Christian life. So make it a long term goal to become familiar with as many of these hymns as you can.

I'd like to hear how it goes. I think you will be a better man for it.

Here's the link: http://www.challies.com/articles/the-10-greatest-hymns-of-all-time

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Memorizing Long Passages of Scripture - Help from Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis has written a small book on how to memorize long passages of Scripture. I thought the technique was very helpful.

Here are some of his ideas. You can find the entire PDF here:


(Also I highly recommend another book by Andrew Davis entitled, "An Infinite Journey.)

Now some memorization thoughts from Pastor Davis:

Surveying the Terrain

 The next step is to survey the entire book for length, and decide how quickly you feel you can memorize it.  Perhaps you can start at one verse per day, six days per week.  I always recommend taking one day off per week so you don’t get burned out, or to take up the slack for days in which you are sick or exceptionally busy.
 The way you survey the terrain is this:
1)  Count the number of verses in the entire book.
2)  Divide that number by the number of verses you will memorize per week.  This is how many weeks the book should take you.
3)  Look at a calendar and determine a tentative finish date.
4)  Add 10% so as to not feel under tremendous pressure until you get used to this lifestyle (i.e. If you are doing Ephesians—155 verses—at the rate of 6 verses per week, it will take you 26 weeks, or exactly 6 months; add 10%--3 weeks—for a total of 29 weeks).
5)  Make a covenant before the Lord that, with his help, you will memorize this book by this date:
“Lord, having sought you in prayer, I believe that you have led me to memorize     (name of the book)   .  I now dedicate myself
to begin this task with your help and for your glory.  I commit myself to memorizing this by   (date).”  
Sign and date the covenant, and put it in a place where you can get to it regularly when the times get tough.  
 The purpose of surveying the terrain is to mark out a reasonable pace which will make achievement of your goal a probability.  It will teach you how much you need to do every day, and when you should finish.  The survey leads to a covenant that helps you keep persevering.

Daily Procedures

Priority of reviewing old verses:  Always give priority in your mind to the retaining of old verses even over the learning of new ones. 
What’s the point in going on to new ones if you don’t hold onto the old?  This doesn’t mean you should re-memorize the old  ones… just that you should begin every day’s work with review of old verses.  Look on that at what you need to do to earn the privilege of acquiring some precious new verses.  (Work before play!)  
Repetition over time:  Saying a verse 100 times in one day is not as helpful as saying it every day for 100 days.  The absolute key to successful Scripture memorization is repetition over a long time period.  This is how you retain old verses while learning new ones.
Memorizing the verse numbers:  An important note is that it is well-worth the extra effort to memorize the verse numbers as if they were part of each verse.  This will help prevent you from dropping out verses or even whole paragraphs when you’re reciting the book all the way through.  It will also help you in being able to pick individual verses out to quote to someone for ministry or evangelistic purposes.  Finally, it will help you to be able to recall the verses as you are reading Christian books that cite them… you won’t have to look them up!  Ephesians 1:1-3’s verse numbers would be said like this: “
One-one.  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus;
One-two Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  One-three  Praise be to the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” etc.  Longer verse numbers are no different… Ephesians 6:11 would be “
Six-eleven.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”   Acts 27:25-26 would be

Twenty-seven twenty-five.  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.
Twenty-seven twenty-six.  Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”  DON’T SHORT-CUT THIS DISCIPLINE!!  It actually makes memorization easier in the long run!
Photographing the verses with your eyes:  Memorization is partly visual.  This is not to say that blind people can’t memorize the Bible, but just that the memorization process is connected very closely to the eye.  Read each new verse ten times, covering each word as though photographing it with your eyes.  I can still remember where some particular verses were on the page of the Bible I first used to memorize them.  Burn each verse into your brain with your eyes.
Say it out loud:  Another help in memorizing is to say the verse out loud to yourself.  The additional sensory input to your brain helps the memorization process.  It doesn’t have to be very loud, just loud enough so you can hear it.  Also, try putting some feeling and interpretation into reciting the verses… this is actually a form of meditation on the verses as you
are learning them. Sample daily procedure :  The following is an example of how someone could go about memorizing Ephesians at the rate
of one verse per day:
1)  Day one
:  Read Ephesians 1:1 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes. 
Be sure to include the verse number.  Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.
2)  Day two
:  Yesterday’s verse first!!  Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:1 ten times, being sure to include the verse number.  Look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory.  Now, do your new verse.
Read Ephesians 1:2 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes.  Be sure to include the verse number.  Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.
3)  Day three
: Yesterday’s verse first!!  Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:2 ten times, being sure to include the verse number.  Again, you should look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory.  Old verses next, altogether:  Recite Ephesians 1:1-2 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers.
Now, do your new verse.  Read Ephesians 1:3 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes.  Be sure to include the verse number.  Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You're done for the day.
4)  Day four: Yesterday’s verse first!!  Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 1:3 ten times, being sure to include the verse number.  Again, you should look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory.  Old verses next, altogether:  Recite Ephesians 1:1-3 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers.  Now, do your new verse.  Read Ephesians 1:4 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes.  Be sure to include the verse number.  Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.
This cycle would continue through the entire book.  Obviously, the “old verses altogether” stage will soon swell to take the most time of all.  That’s exactly the way it should be.  The entire book of Ephesians can be read at a reasonable rate in less than fifteen minutes.  Therefore, the “old verses altogether” stage of your review should not take longer than that on any given day.  Do it with the Bible ready at hand, in case you draw a blank or get stuck… there’s no shame in looking, and it actually helps to nail
down troublesome verses so they will never be trouble again.  Therefore, your 60th day should look like this.
60)  Day sixty
: (eight days off in that span means you’re on your 52nd  new verse, which would be Ephesians 3:7)
Yesterday’s verse first!!  Recite yesterday’s verse, Ephesians 3:6 ten times, being sure to include the verse number.
Again, you should look in the Bible if you need to, just to refresh your memory.  Old verses next, altogether:  Recite
Ephesians 1:1-3:6 together once, being sure to include the verse numbers.  LOOK IN THE BIBLE IF YOU NEED
TO, SO THIS PROCESS WON’T TAKE TOO LONG!!!  Now, do your new verse.  Read Ephesians 3:7 out loud ten times, looking at each word as if photographing it with your eyes.  Be sure to include the verse number.  Then cover the page and recite it ten times. You’re done for the day.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Memorization Monday

After a long busy summer, I'm going to try to get back at the business of regularly sharing thoughts and biblical teaching that I have learned along the way. A couple of us are going to try to memorize Colossians over the next eleven months and every long trek has to begin with a few steps and so we begin with the first two verses:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Scripture memorization is an important discipline because it allows us to hold the Word of God in our minds and hearts and meditate on it frequently. It continues to work even in our subconscious once we have it stored away. God promises spiritual success if we meditate on his word.  Joshua 1:8 says,
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Because of the Truth, I'm Responsible to

Because of these truths, I am responsible to:
1. Reckon (count, act as though) yourself to be dead to sin and alive to God. (Romans 6:11)
2. Do not allow sin to reign because its reign has been terminated. (Romans 6:12)
3. Do not present the members of your body to sin as weapons of unrighteousness, but to God as weapons of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)
4. Serve God in the newness of the Spirit and not in the old way of the letter of the law. (Romans 7:6)
...because the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)
5. Walk according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
6. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit, things above. (Romans 8:5, Colossians 3:2)
7. Put to death your members (the deeds of the body) on the earth. (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5, 8)
8. Resist the devil and he will flee. (James 4:7 1 Peter 5:9)
9. Take the way of escape. (1 Cor 10:13)
10. Put off the old man (see #5 in the first section). (Ephesians 4:22)
11. Put on the new man. (Colossians 3:10; Eph 4:24)
See Ephesians 4:25- 5:21 and Colossians 3:5-24 for what to put off and put on.
Galatians 5:19-26 for the deeds of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit
Flesh
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, wrath, selfish ambition, dissension, heresy, envy, murder, drunkenness, revelry, passion, covetousness, malice,blasphemy, filthy language, lying, stealing, corrupt speech, bitterness, clamor, foolish talking, coarse jesting, pride, boaster, strife, whisperers, backbiting, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, disobedience to parents, violence
Spirit
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, tender mercies, humility, meekness, forbearance, forgiveness, thankfulness, truthfulness, work, edifying speech, grace, righteousness, redeeming time, spirit-filled, speaking/singing/teaching one another with various songs, submitting appropriately, obey and honor parents, prefer and honor others, selflessness, compassion
12. Lay aside every weight and the sin that easily trips me up. (Hebrews 12:1)
13. Be renewed in your minds. (Ephesians 4:23; Romans 2:2)
...by spending time memorizing and meditating on the Scriptures. (Psalm 1:1-3; Joshua 1:8)
14. Exercise and practice your powers of discernment. (Hebrews 5:14)
Train yourself in godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7)
Because breaking bad sinful habits requires the practice of new habits.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Truth to Know and Believe

 In summary from our study of victory in Christ here are --
Truths to Know and Believe:
1. While I was still a sinner Christ died in my place. (Romans 5:8)
2. Just as Adam's sin made me a sinner, Jesus' life and sacrifice made me righteous. (Romans 5:16, 19)
3. I died to sin when I died with Christ. (Romans 6:1-3)
4. I am crucified with Christ. (Galatians 2:20)
5. My old man was crucified with Him. (Romans 6:6)
6. The body of sin has been rendered inoperative. (Romans 6:6)
7. I've been freed from sin and its reign. (Romans 6:7)
8. Sin will not have dominion over me. (Romans 6:14)
9. I am not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:15)
10. I've been forgiven of all trespasses and the handwriting of ordinances that was against me has been taken out of the way and nailed to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)
11. I am a slave of whoever I obey – either sin leading to death, or obedience leading to righteousness, to holiness to eternal life. (Romans 6:16-23)
12. I have become dead to the law through the body of Christ. (Romans 7:4)
13. I am free to bear fruit to God and to serve in the newness of the Spirit. (Romans 7:4,6)
14. The law is holy, just and good. (Romans 7: 12)
15. The law is spiritual but I am fleshly. (Romans 7:14)
16. When I would do good, evil is present in me, that is in my flesh. (Romans 7:18, 21)
17. I am now not under any condemnation because I am in Christ. (Romans 8:1)
18. I am free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
19. The sin in me was condemned in the atonement of Christ. (Romans 8:3)
20. The righteous requirement of the law will be fulfilled in me as I walk according to the
Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
21. If I live according to the flesh, I'm embracing death, I'm an enemy of God, and I cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)
22. I have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
23. As a Christian, my body is dead because of sin, but my spirit is alive because of righteousness, and the Holy Spirit will also give life to my mortal body some day. (Romans 8:10, 11)
24. I am not a debtor to the flesh to follow it. I don't owe it anything! (Romans 8:12)
25. If I live according to the flesh, I will die, but if I put to death the deeds of the body by the power of the Spirit, I will live. (Romans 8:13)
26. The Spirit will be victorious over the flesh. (Galatians 5:17)
27. The one in me is greater than the one in the world. (1 John 4:4)
28. God will not allow me to be tempted or tested above what I am able. (1 Cor 10:13)
29. God will finish what he started and conform us to the image of Christ. This is a certainty. (Phil 1:6; Romans 8:29)
30. Under the New Covenant I've been given a new heart, new spirit, God's Spirit and motivation to do right. (Ezekiel 36:26)
31. God will discipline me as a loving Father so that I will share in His holiness. Without that holiness I won't see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:10, 14)
32. Having been sanctified and perfected, my conscience has been cleansed once for all. (Hebrews 9:9; 9:14; 10:2; 10:22; read all of chapter 10 carefully)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Final Victory

Last time we saw that the Bible describes sin as dwelling in our bodies. Our living spirit along with he power of the Holy Spirit are to put to death the deeds of the body and to set our minds on spiritual things. This is the method for gaining victory.

In this last post on this subject I want us to look at the promise of ultimate victory. In Romans 8:9-11, Paul writes these words, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

What he is saying here is that even though the body is dead and dying, the Spirit of God who lives in us will ultimately give life to our mortal body as well. The place where sin has found a refuge will be replaced by a new body where righteousness rather than sin will dwell. In the mean time, we groan, eagerly waiting for our adoption, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23).

It's interesting to see that the Bible calls our current physical body a “soulish” body (1 Corinthians 15:44). The word translated “natural” in most translations is the word pseuche which as we have seen before is the word for soul. So Adam was made a living soul and he possessed a soulish body. But there is also going to be a spiritual body. Christ was a life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). He tells us that both a soulish body and a spiritual body exist but the soulish comes first and then the spiritual. When our soulish body has been replaced by a spiritual body, then our redemption will be complete. Sin wil no longer have a foothold.

1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”