Monday, November 16, 2009

Christian Manhood - God's Calling

Wow! Three weeks have gone by and I have not posted one thing on this blog. That’s hard to believe. As I have opportunity, I’m sharing with you some of the things that I am learning as I teach a class in God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood. The last post on this topic dealt with the idea that work is good. We are so used to the cultural tendency to think that free time is best and we do all we can to carve out as much as we can. But God’s ideal is that we keep busy with God-honoring, profitable work.

It used to be that rather than use the word “career” for a person’s job track, the word “vocation” was used. Vocation means “calling”. Work was thought of as a calling of God in a man’s life. Even if it wasn’t “full time Christian service”, it was still seen as a ministry of God’s hands in the world to accomplish good on the earth. But the question often arises as to how a man is to know God’s will. I would like to offer several components that need to be considered when determining God’s will.

First, it’s important to plan. So many men bounce around like the pinball in a pinball machine. They just react to each circumstance that comes up. Obviously there are many areas of life that are outside our control and therefore reacting is about all we can do, but there are also many areas where we can plan and the vocational decision is one of them. It is seldom God’s will to sit by and wait for something to happen.

Look at the following passages from the book of Proverbs: 16:3; 16:9; 20:18; and 21:5. All of these passages stress the importance of planning. God directs our steps when a man has planned his way.

It’s important to realize that God does not speak to us with a voice or emotional feelings. He speaks through His Word, through the working of His Spirit in our lives and through providence. We must plan according to the principles of Scripture and we must take hold of the opportunities that God providentially provides.

More on determining God’s will next time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hymn of the Week - Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am,
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Christian Manhood - Work is Good

We’ve been looking at the idea of work and vocation from the point of view of the Bible. Today we’re going to look at 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12.

In verse 6 Paul commands the people to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly. Now at first glance when we see and hear the word “disorderly” we might think of some kind of outburst which disrupts normal civil society.

In verse 7 he urges them that rather than be disorderly they should follow his example because, he says, he was not disorderly among them. So, what was that example.

In verse 8 he tells us that “we did not eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden”. That is the example he gave as to how not to live in a disorderly way. In order to press his point he reminds them in verse 10 that he had commanded them that if anyone does not work he should not eat.

The reason this is important, he says, is because “we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” He goes on to tell them that they need to work in quietness and eat their own bread.

So what was the disorderly behavior that we are to avoid? It is being idle and then becoming busybodies in other people’s business rather than taking care of ourselves and doing our own work.

Let’s make sure that as faithful men we are examples like Paul was. We need to demonstrate what it means to live an orderly Christian life and thereby bring glory to God.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Christian Manhood - Vocation

As we continue to consider God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood I would like to think through the idea of vocation as a calling rather than merely a job. As we do that it is important to remember that work was given before the fall. God has always intended that we should have something profitable to do. Genesis 2:5 and 2:15 speak of tilling, tending and keeping before sin entered the world. After the fall work was to become toil and sweat would be the norm as we labor to get enough to eat and support ourselves. Also after the fall, things began to decay and wear out. That means there would be continued work to restore, maintain and rebuild.

God is opposed to laziness and sloth. I was interested to see that Psalm 104:23 speaks of man going out to his work for the day when the sun comes up and returning home when the sun is going down. Where were the unions then? And then in Exodus 20:9 God tells the people that they were to do all their work and labor in six days and rest on the seventh. It is a blessing of grace that God commands that we set aside one day a week for rest and worship. But from His point of view He’s thinking that we will be working and laboring the other six.

Consider these passages from Proverbs
10:4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.
18:9 He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer
20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
26:16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.

It seems obvious to me that God is telling us that work is a good thing and we should be engaged in it regularly and faithfully.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christian Manhood - Spiritual Disciplines

Besides laying aside things which hinder us as we talked about last time, God has given us several spiritual disciplines on which we should focus so that our lives grow and develop into greater Christ-likeness for His glory. Often in my life I have looked for the secret of victory or the three or four steps to greater spirituality. But it always comes down to the same things. There are no secrets here.

The first area of importance in the Christian life is the Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness. If Scripture is profitable for these things then obviously we should be spending time reading and studying it, unless of course we are not interested in being taught or corrected.

Along with the reading and study of Scripture is memorization and meditation. Joshua 1:8 tells us that with constant meditation on the Word of God comes success and prosperity. Now he is not talking about worldly success and financial prosperity. He is speaking of spiritual success and prosperity, the kind that are ultimately more rewarding and satisfying than anything the world can provide. Psalm 1 speaks of the same thing. The man who spends time meditating on Scripture is compared to a tree planted where there is plenty of water. His leaf won’t wither and whatever he does, prospers. This is compared to the ungodly man who is more like chaff that is dry and lifeless and blown away by the wind. Which kind of man do you want to be?

Another important spiritual discipline is prayer. Men are not usually as consistent at this as women, and yet Paul told Timothy that he would have men (as distinct from women) pray. It’s a special challenge to us as men to be the leaders in prayer for our families and churches.

While I don’t understand all of the ins and outs of how prayer works and why God answers some the way we want and not others, there are several key passages of Scripture that give us a picture of what the conditions are for answered prayer.
Matthew 7:7 Pray persistently
Matthew 18:19 Pray in agreement with others
Matthew 21:22 Pray believing
John 15:7 Pray while abiding in Christ
John 16:24 Pray in Jesus’ Name
I John 5:14, 15 Pray in the will of God.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Peace

The first verse in a series of three on the promised blessing of peace:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hymn of the Week - Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
The King of creation
O my soul, praise Him
For He is thy health and salvation
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near
Praise Him in glad adoration

Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wonderfully reigneth
Shelters thee under His wings
Yea, so gladly sustaineth
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth

Praise to the Lord
Who doth prosper they work and defend thee
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him
All that hath life and breath
Come now with praises before Him
Let the 'amen' sound from His people again
Gladly for aye we adore Him

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Christian Manhood - Glorifying God

As we think about God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood we are thinking through how we can reflect the glory of God. We were made in His image and likeness and are to make Him look good. As Christian men we need to think seriously about this. Paul said that when he became a man he put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:11). We men tend to hang on to our childish ways. I’m sure most of us have seen the bumper sticker that says the only difference between the man and his boys is the price of the toys.

Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, has compiled a list of 13 marks that distinguish a boy from a man. I would strongly encourage you to read over that list and evaluate your progress by some of the markers he includes there.

Another thing the Bible tells us to do is to lay aside every weight and sin that hinders us in our race (Hebrews 12:1) The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:4 that a good soldier does not entangle himself with the affairs of everyday life so that he may please him who has called him to be a soldier. The point is that we as Christian men need to avoid those things which entangle us and hinder us from being everything God would have us be for His glory. As you look at your life, try to think through what those things are that might be a hindrance. Once you have identified them, take steps to reduce and eliminate them from your life so that you can run the race God has laid out for you.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Christian Manhood - Loving God

We were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). We were made out of mere dirt in a form that would reflect God’s likeness. Think about that! That is why He made us – to show forth His glory. The fall, of course, messed up that likeness. God’s image is still there but there are many blotches on the image and it’s our responsibility to pursue Godliness so that the world will see what He is like.

God also wanted a relationship with us. There had been a loving relationship among the members of the trinity in eternity past and that relationship and fellowship was intended to extend to mankind. After the fall, when God came to walk and talk with Adam as He normally did, Adam hid himself. Sin had put a separation between God and man. (Isaiah 59:2)

Our challenge as men is that in the middle of a world marred by sin and with personalities wounded by sin, we are still to reflect God’s glory and have a relationship with God and with other human beings.

What then does God want from me? In Deuteronomy 6:5 God says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus added “and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39. He goes on in Deuteronomy to say that these words are to be in our heart.

Loving God is a command. That means it’s not just an emotional warm feeling. It is something we are to do. It requires action. Loving God involves our whole being. If we are to love God with our heart, that implies the emotional side of our being. Loving with our soul implies the psychological side. Loving God with our strength means there is energy and power behind it. And if we are to love God with our mind, that means our focus and whole rational being is involved. The Scripture adds to the intensity of the command by using the word “all”. We are to love with all of our soul, all of our mind, all of our strength and all of our heart. That’s a tall order and one that should bring with it a great deal of humility as we realize how totally impossible it is to do this perfectly.

When we think about the chief ways to love God, we need to consider these passages: Deuteronomy 5:10; John 14:15; John 14:21 and Luke 6:46. I think if you read these verses carefully you will discover that loving God is closely associated with obedience. We can’t really say we love God and then refuse to do what He asks. So if we are to pursue loving God with our whole being, we are going to have to pursue obedience with our whole being as well.

Jesus said that the second commandment is to love our neighbor as our self. That too is a difficult assignment. Just think about the many ways we show love for ourselves. We make sure we are well fed and generally cared for. We make sure we have enough sleep and enough leisure. Jesus said that we are to look after our neighbor in the same way. Immediately when we hear that we begin to make excuses as to why He can’t really mean that since we do have to take care of our own job and our own home and that leaves very little time to focus on those same areas in the life of our neighbor. As I think about myself, I’m amazed that I have so little concern for those around me. It’s pretty convicting to think about, isn't it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening for Oct 2

This morning we read this evening's thoughts from Charles Spurgeon. What a tremendous encouragement this message is to us as God's children. I'm sharing it with you here. Remember, this was written a long time ago and so the English may be a little different, but don't let that stop you from receiving the encouragement.

"A man greatly beloved."—Daniel 10:11.
Child of God, do you hesitate to appropriate this title? Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly beloved too? Must you not have been greatly beloved, to have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot? When God smote His only begotten Son for you, what was this but being greatly beloved? You lived in sin, and rioted in it, must you not have been greatly beloved for God to have borne so patiently with you? You were called by grace and led to a Saviour, and made a child of God and an heir of heaven. All this proves, does it not, a very great and superabounding love? Since that time, whether your path has been rough with troubles, or smooth with mercies, it has been full of proofs that you are a man greatly beloved. If the Lord has chastened you, yet not in anger; if He has made you poor, yet in grace you have been rich. The more unworthy you feel yourself to be, the more evidence have you that nothing but unspeakable love could have led the Lord Jesus to save such a soul as yours. The more demerit you feel, the clearer is the display of the abounding love of God in having chosen you, and called you, and made you an heir of bliss. Now, if there be such love between God and us let us live in the influence and sweetness of it, and use the privilege of our position. Do not let us approach our Lord as though we were strangers, or as though He were unwilling to hear us—for we are greatly beloved by our loving Father. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of thine own heart, thou art greatly beloved. Meditate on the exceeding greatness and faithfulness of divine love this evening, and so go to thy bed in peace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Christian Manhood - Some thoughts

I got to thinking about the fact that God tells us that we were created in His image and likeness. I remembered that Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 11:7. He is talking about head coverings which I don’t want to get into right now, but he says, “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since (and here is the part I want to focus on) he is the image and glory of God.” Here God is basically saying that man is the image and glory of God. The word behind image is “icon” and the word behind glory is “doxa”. Most of us know what an icon is. It is a picture or representation of something. We are that image of God. We get the word doxology from doxa. A doxology is a word of praise. We are the glory or praise of God!

Most of us don’t feel like we do a very good job of representing God as His image and glory, but the Bible says that that is what we are. How can we improve? In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul writes that we, “with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

In that verse you see the same two words – image and glory. The key to showing that image and glory more clearly is to gaze on the glory of the Lord in His Word and as we do that more and more the Spirit of the Lord transforms us (the word is metamorphosis) into His image from one stage of glory to another.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Christian Manhood - Intro

When we read the first few chapters of the book of Genesis we discover something right away. That is that God created us for a purpose and yet Adam’s sin brought a curse upon us that changed everything.

First we learn in Genesis 1:26 that God created us in His image and in 2:7 we learn that we are made of the dust of the ground. First of all that is difficult to comprehend. How can God take the dust of the earth and create something that is in His image and likeness? Being in the image of God implies responsibility and requires obedience in order to display that likeness. After the fall, this became much more difficult and requires more diligence and discipline relying on the Spirit of God within us to provide what is needed to accomplish this.

Second we learn in 1:26-28 that we have been given dominion and are to subdue the earth. This means we are to have leadership and are accountable to manage what God has given us. The fall of course made this much more difficult since the creation resists our management of it. This shows up in the fact that weeds grow much more easily than the vegetables we’re trying to grow in our garden. It also shows up in the fact that things wear out, break down and in other ways cause us frustration and toil.

Finally, God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. Everything God had made He said was good except He said that it is not good that man should be alone. So we learn that marriage and family are part of God’s plan. In this area also the fall has taken its toll. It’s not easy to maintain the kind of marriage relationships and family relationships required to carry out God’s plan.

So, with these three areas we have the outline of where we are headed with the God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood study. We are going to look at what we must do to glorify God has we show forth His character and likeness. We are going to look at our dominion and leadership in the world which includes our vocation, money management and time management. And finally we are going to look at the need for moral purity and maintaining healthy and godly relationships in marriage and family.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Comfort

This is the third verse in the series on Promised Blessings - Comfort

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting

Jesus I am resting, resting
In the Joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power
Thou hast made me whole.


Jesus, I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

O how great Thy loving kindness.
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O how marvellous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.


Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings;
Thine is love indeed!


Ever lift Thy face upon me,
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting 'neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth's dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father's glory,
Sunshine of my Father's face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting;
Fill me with Thy grace.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

God's Pattern for Christian Manhood

Last Sunday my wife and I had the opportunity to begin a 13-week series of lessons in our church Sunday School. She is teaching the ladies and I am teaching the guys. The topic we are covering is “God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood/Womanhood”. I’m hoping to use this blog as an opportunity to share some of the things we are covering on the man’s side. We will provide a link where you can access notes and other resources from both of these classes. In the meantime, check back every so often to find out what we’re learning about. Feel free to post comments and thoughts so that the discussion can be broadened to include others outside the class. The next post on this subject will appear on Tuesday the 29th.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Sluggard by Isaac Watts

I saw this poem on a post by Joshua Harris the other day. I thought it is an important one for all of us men to ponder.

The Sluggard

from Divine Songs for Children by Isaac Watts

'Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain,
"You have wak'd me too soon, I must slumber again."
As the door on its hinges, so he on his bed,
Turns his sides and his shoulders and his heavy head.

"A little more sleep, and a little more slumber;"
Thus he wastes half his days, and his hours without number,
And when he gets up, he sits folding his hands,
Or walks about sauntering, or trifling he stands.

I pass'd by his garden, and saw the wild brier,
The thorn and the thistle grow broader and higher;
The clothes that hang on him are turning to rags;
And his money still wastes till he starves or he begs.

I made him a visit, still hoping to find
That he took better care for improving his mind:
He told me his dreams, talked of eating and drinking;
But scarce reads his Bible, and never loves thinking.

Said I then to my heart, "Here's a lesson for me,"
This man's but a picture of what I might be:
But thanks to my friends for their care in my breeding,
Who taught me betimes to love working and reading.

Isaac Watts

Joshua Harris preached a sermon on sloth which you listen to here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening for Sept 16

I thought this was a very interesting and challenging reading.

“Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?”
Job 7:12

This was a strange question for Job to ask of the Lord. He felt himself to be too insignificant to be so strictly watched and chastened, and he hoped that he was not so unruly as to need to be so restrained. The enquiry was natural from one surrounded with such insupportable miseries, but after all, it is capable of a very humbling answer. It is true man is not the sea, but he is even more troublesome and unruly. The sea obediently respects its boundary, and though it be but a belt of sand, it does not overleap the limit. Mighty as it is, it hears the divine hitherto, and when most raging with tempest it respects the word; but self-willed man defies heaven and oppresses earth, neither is there any end to this rebellious rage. The sea, obedient to the moon, ebbs and flows with ceaseless regularity, and thus renders an active as well as a passive obedience; but man, restless beyond his sphere, sleeps within the lines of duty, indolent where he should be active. He will neither come nor go at the divine command, but sullenly prefers to do what he should not, and to leave undone that which is required of him. Every drop in the ocean, every beaded bubble, and every yeasty foam-flake, every shell and pebble, feel the power of law, and yield or move at once. O that our nature were but one thousandth part as much conformed to the will of God! We call the sea fickle and false, but how constant it is! Since our fathers’ days, and the old time before them, the sea is where it was, beating on the same cliffs to the same tune; we know where to find it, it forsakes not its bed, and changes not in its ceaseless boom; but where is man-vain, fickle man? Can the wise man guess by what folly he will next be seduced from his obedience? We need more watching than the billowy sea, and are far more rebellious. Lord, rule us for thine own glory. Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Comfort

Here's a great verse to commit to memory. There is a purpose in the comfort we receive from God during our trials. It is so that we can help others. God's blessings are never given to us just for our own use. They are always provided for the good of others as well.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 2:3, 4

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hymn of the Week - And Can It Be

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?

’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.

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!

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.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do we deny God by our works?

I was reading Titus 1 this morning and verse 16 struck me. "They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works." The context is relating to false teachers, but the message struck me. These people profess to know God and yet the works they do deny God. I think it would be a good exercise for all of us to take a good look at our individual lives to see in what ways our works may be denying God.

It reminds me of Matthew 7:21 where Jesus says, "not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name , and done many wonders in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness!'"

My heart's been challenged by these thoughts, what about yours?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Comfort

It's important for every Faithful Christian man to have some sort of plan for memorizing and meditating on Scripture. We've been going over verses from the Navigators Topical Memory plan. I liked this approach because each verse is associated with a topic from a very helpful outline.

This week's verse is from the section Promised Blessings - Comfort

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your cares on Him for He cares for you.

Have a good week.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Forgiveness

This is the last of three passages to memorize which promise us the gift of forgiveness.

I John 2:1,2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Propitiation means to appease or satisfy the wrath of God with some sort of offering or sacrifice. Jesus Christ did just that for us on the cross.

Have a good week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spurgeon's Evening for July 27

Every now and then one of Spurgeon's devotionals really encourages me and today's was one of those.

"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"
Romans 8:33

Most blessed challenge! How unanswerable it is! Every sin of the elect was laid upon the great Champion of our salvation, and by the atonement carried away. There is no sin in God's book against his people: he seeth no sin in Jacob, neither iniquity in Israel; they are justified in Christ for ever. When the guilt of sin was taken away, the punishment of sin was removed. For the Christian there is no stroke from God's angry hand-nay, not so much as a single frown of punitive justice. The believer may be chastised by his Father, but God the Judge has nothing to say to the Christian, except "I have absolved thee: thou art acquitted." For the Christian there is no penal death in this world, much less any second death. He is completely freed from all the punishment as well as the guilt of sin, and the power of sin is removed too. It may stand in our way, and agitate us with perpetual warfare; but sin is a conquered foe to every soul in union with Jesus. There is no sin which a Christian cannot overcome if he will only rely upon his God to do it. They who wear the white robe in heaven overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and we may do the same. No lust is too mighty, no besetting sin too strongly entrenched; we can overcome through the power of Christ. Do believe it, Christian, that thy sin is a condemned thing. It may kick and struggle, but it is doomed to die. God has written condemnation across its brow. Christ has crucified it, "nailing it to his cross." Go now and mortify it, and the Lord help you to live to his praise, for sin with all its guilt, shame, and fear, is gone.

"Here's pardon for transgressions past,
It matters not how black their cast;
And, O my soul, with wonder view,
For sins to come here's pardon too."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Forgiveness

Our series of Scripture memory verses continues with this verse about forgiveness.

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (NKJV)

Have a good week.

Hymn of the Week -- All Because of God's Amazing Grace

Ruth and Erin are singing this song in church this morning. I love the words. Both words and music are by Stephen Adams

Amazing grace, oh how sweet the sound
that saved a poor sinner like me!
Though once I was lost, yet now I'm found,
Though I was blinded, now I see!

Through disappointment and danger, too,
through labors and sorrows we've come!
But God's grace has guided safely through,
And it will surely lead us home!

Then with the ransomed around God's throne
We'll praise our redeemer and King!
We'll tell how His mercy for sin did atone,
Through countless ages this song we'll sing!

It was all because of God's amazing grace!
Because on calv'ry's mountain He took my place!
And someday, some glorious morning
I shall see Him face to face,
All because of God's amazing grace!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings - Forgiveness

This week we begin a series of verses which help us focus on the promised blessings we have as Christians. Each blessing will be emphasized in three verses. The first blessing we want to memorize and meditate on is Forgiveness.

The verse for this week is 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Assurance

The third memory verse in the series on assurance is found in I John 5:13 "These things I have written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life."

Next week we start memorizing Scriptures that help us review the promised blessings we have as Christians.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Christianity and the Importance of Reading - Part 1

Reading is important because God has given us His Word in written form. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. The Greek word for scripture in this verse is “graphe” from which we get the words graph, graphite, etc. All of these words in English have the concept of writing associated with them. So Paul is telling Timothy that all of “The Writing” is given by inspiration of God. It is God breathed and is profitable.

In 2 Peter 1:21 we learn that holy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The Psalmist tells us that the Lord gave the word and great was the company of those that published it. Psalm 68:11

And finally in Hebrews 4:12 we learn that the Word of God is living and powerful and able to pierce down to distinguish between the soul and spirit and between the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So I maintain that reading is important because the God that exists has chosen to communicate with us through the medium of the written word. If we don’t know how to read or we don’t care to read then God’s Word will be closed to us unless we hear it read.

Next time we’ll look at how reading is commanded, encouraged and expected.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Assurance

This week’s verse is again under the topic of Assurance. The verse is John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

What a promise! Sometimes when I start to doubt my salvation, I go back and think about this verse. It’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thoughts on Contentment

I mentioned in a previous blog post that Tim Challies is encouraging us to read through the book “The Rare Jewel of Christian contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs. This book was first published in 1648 and so the perspective and vocabulary are a bit different than we are used to, but it gives some great thoughts on learning to be content. I’ll share some of them here from time to time in between my posts on reading and other things that I’m thinking about.

Burrough’s key verse for chapter 1 is Philippians 4:11: I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. This of course was written by the Apostle Paul. Burroughs points out that in verse 12 where Paul says, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed…” the word “instructed” means to learn the secret of something. Burroughs calls it a mystery. Contentment is something that can be learned and there is a secret to it, just as someone who is a cook might say, “I’ll show you the secret of making a great pie crust.” It isn’t really a mystery as in mysterious. There are just certain skills and attitudes that need to be developed to learn contentment.

Burroughs gives the following definition of contentment: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

A couple of points that really spoke to me were first of all that it is inward. Contentment can’t be forced from without. In fact the outward circumstances don’t matter much when it comes to contentment. Another point is that it is gracious. That is, it comes from the grace of God and it forms the entire frame of the spirit. It is not just something that is partially content. Everyone can be content at times or in various ways. This is contentment that forms the very frame of our spiritual being. Finally, the most difficult aspect for me is that of freely delighting in God’s handling of every situation. The key words there are freely, delighting and every.

I’m looking forward to working my way through the entire book and learning a great deal from it. If you’re interested in joining in, you can find Challie’s posts here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Assurance

The Bible specifically declares that we can know we have eternal life. This week’s verse speaks to that assurance. It is found in 1 John 5:11, 12; “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

If you read some of the other posts that will be coming in the next days and weeks, you will find a discussion on the importance of the written word in the Christian life. A big part of using that word appropriately is meditating on it. It’s hard to meditate on Scripture if you don’t know it. This would be a good verse to get started with and to spend time really thinking about.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Christianity and the Importance of Reading

Words and reading are at the very core of the Christian faith. There are cultural trends that are taking their toll on careful, thoughtful reading and this has implications for us as Christians.

There seems to be a fairly significant generational divide developing in this area with people 55 and older having one understanding and attitude toward reading and those under 25 having a completely different viewpoint.

My hope is that by raising awareness of this situation within the church, we might be able to turn things around for those younger people with whom we have influence.

I am in the process of preparing a couple of Sunday School sessions dealing with this important topic and I will post summaries of some of the key points here. This is something I have been becoming more concerned about as time goes by and an interesting book spurred me on to think more deeply about the current situation. The book is called "Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age" by Maggie Jackson. Although not a Christian book, it raises a number of issues that should be of significance to all of us who believe that God has communicated in the spoken and written word.

Watch for follow-up posts in the coming days.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Learning to be Content

Do you have difficulty being content? I would say that it is one of my most besetting sins. There doesn't seem to be any reason for it since God has fulfilled every promise He has made and yet there is a struggle.

Tim Challies, a hyper-blogger... (I don't think he's missed a day in many years), often calls for others to join him in reading a Christian classic together. The book he's proposing this time is "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" by Jeremiah Burroughs. I'm going to take this opportunity as a challenge for myself to learn more about this important topic and perhaps gain some much needed victory.

My encouragement to you would be to join me and other Challies' readers in this effort. You can find the information here. I think it would be great if my readers at Faithful Men could have our own mini-discussion as we work our way through this book.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spurgeon's Evening Reading for June 11

Read Spurgeon's devotional on Christ's victory over sin and Satan from this evening's reading. If this doesn't thrill your soul...nothing will.

"There brake He the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle." --Psalm 76:3

Our Redeemer's glorious cry of "It is finished," was the death-knell of all the adversaries of His people, the breaking of "the and the battle." Behold the hero of Golgotha using His cross as an anvil, and His woes as a hammer, dashing to shivers bundle after bundle of our sins, those poisoned "arrows of the bow"; trampling on every indictment, and destroying every accusation. What glorious blows the mighty Breaker gives with a hammer far more ponderous than the fabled weapon of Thor! How the diabolical darts fly to fragments, and the infernal bucklers are broken like potters' vessels! Behold, He draws from its sheath of hellish workmanship the dread sword of Satanic power! He snaps it across His knee, as a man breaks the dry wood of a fagot, and casts it into the fire. Beloved, no sin of a believer can now be an arrow mortally to wound him, no condemnation can now be a sword to kill him, for the punishment of our sin was borne by Christ, a full atonement was made for all our iniquities by our blessed Substitute and Surety. Who now accuseth? Who now condemneth? Christ hath died, yea rather, hath risen again. Jesus has emptied the quivers of hell, has quenched every fiery dart, and broken off the head of every arrow of wrath; the ground is strewn with the splinters and relics of the weapons of hell's warfare, which are only visible to us to remind us of our former danger, and of our great deliverance. Sin hath no more dominion over us. Jesus has made an end of it, and put it away for ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end. Talk ye of all the wondrous works of the Lord, ye who make mention of His name, keep not silence, neither by day, nor when the sun goeth to his rest. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Memorization Monday - Salvation Must be Personally Received

Salvation is a free gift, but it must be believed or received personally. Our verses for this week are Romans 10:9, 10: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Notice the focus on “you”. It’s often easy to listen to sermons and assume that just because we are hearing it we must be “in”. But these verses say that you must confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead in order for you to be saved. Are these things true of you?

Paul challenges us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. It never hurts to take that as a personal admonition. Jesus said there are many who will say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name?” and He will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Matt 7:22. It’s worth thinking about, isn’t it?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Salvation Must be Received

The next topic in our Scripture memory series is that the free gift of salvation must be received. This week’s verse is John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Hopefully most of you have already committed this verse to memory, but it’s worth a good review.

Have a good week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorization Monday - Salvation a Free Gift

For those of you who are trying to work along with me in reviewing or memorizing scripture based on a topical approach, here is the third verse under the heading of Salvation – A Free Gift

Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

If you want to see the complete list, you can find it here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Consider the Resurrection

Back in April as we were approaching Good Friday, I suggested that we take some time to consider the cross. At the time, I said that we would use the month of May to consider the implications of the resurrection of Christ in our lives. Well, I have just had four or five of the busiest weeks that I have had in a long time. It seems like so many important things have suffered because of the requirements of the urgent. I’m trying to refocus and get myself back on track.

So, I would like to move forward with the plan of thinking and writing about Christ’s resurrection during May and probably into June as well. The verse I would like us to think about and to launch our discussion is Philippians 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

I think we should ask ourselves if we have the same desire as Paul had? Do we want the power of the resurrection in our lives? How does it look to know Him and have the power of His resurrection?

Let’s talk about this a little bit. You can either respond on the Faithful Men blog or join the Facebook discussion group on this topic.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Memorization Monday - Salvation a Free Gift

I don’t know where the past two weeks have gone. I’m sorry for having missed last Monday. It’s time for me to get back on track.

This is the second verse under the heading, “Salvation – A Free Gift
Our verse is Romans 3:24 “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s never forget that our salvation is a free gift. Never ever add anything to the gospel. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Sin's Penalty Paid by Christ

Our verse for this week is found in Ephesians 2:8,9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

Let's never forget the word grace in this passage. There is no boasting. God's favor toward us was not earned in any way. In our natural state we did to seek after God nor understand anything of spiritual matters. If it were not for God's grace at work in us, we would be in the same position as countless others who do not know Christ.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- I Sought a Flag to Follow

I sought a flag to follow, a cause for which to stand,
I sought a valiant leader, Who could my love command;
I sought a stirring challenge, Some noble work to try,
To give my life fulfillment, my dreams to satisfy.

I sought a ringing answer for all my doubts inside,
A torch of truth uplifted, My searching steps to guide;
I sought a word of wisdom, A true authority,
I sought to know life's purpose, to solve it's mystery.

I sought for satisfaction, for yearnings deep within,
I sought for full deliverance, from chains of guilt and sin
I sought for peace and pardon, for freedom from my fears
I sought a hope to cling to beyond these passing years.

I found them all in Jesus, the Life, the Truth, the Way;
Beneath His flag I'll take my stand and follow Him today!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From Boy to Man

Albert Mohler had an interesting radio broadcast on the Eclipsing of Biblical Manhood. You can find the online version here. There is a serious erosion of manhood going on that partly displays itself in the extension of adolescence into a man's twenties and in some cases thirties. One of the interesting resources that Dr. Mohler included on the radio website is a list of 13 marks that indicate that a boy has moved on to manhood.

I am going to take some time personally to work through these things even though I'm 62 years old, I think there is much to learn and I would encourage all of you to take some to think about this as well. Those of you who are young men in your teens and twenties would do well to meditate on the concepts that Dr. Mohler is addressing and look for passages of Scripture that might go along with his insights. Perhaps there some areas where you would disagree. It would be interesting to talk about that as well.

So from time to time over the next few weeks look for this topic as we work through the 13 marks that he has given us.

Resources from Dr. Mohler

Albert Mohler Website

Albert Mohler Radio

From Boy to Man Part 1

From Boy to Man Part 2

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Cross - Further Considerations

Speaking of Christ, the author of Hebrews writes, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” Hebrews 9:27. Also in 10:13, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”

Several things are important to consider from these passages. First we can see that the words one and once are significant. The Old Testament High Priest had to offer sacrifices continually because those sacrifices never actually took care of the root problem. Christ’s sacrifice only needed to be offered once and in that one sacrifice there is sufficiency to put away sin. (9:26)

The second thing that strikes me here is that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God. In our reading from Spurgeon this morning, he emphasized the fact that we have a representative there at the right hand of God. Sometimes we’re impressed to have a personal representative at some level of government but here we have a man who lived a perfect life, took our sins upon himself and died as we all will and now sits in a position of victory as our forerunner and representative.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 29 Penalty Paid by Christ

Our third verse in the series based on the truth that Christ paid the penalty for our sins. What a thought that someone else would pay for the sins that I have committed!

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

I Corinthians 15:3, 4

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- In the Cross of Christ I Glory

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more luster to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meditating on the Cross of Christ

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

With these words, Paul lays out the fact that for him there was nothing more important than the cross. He says something similar in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

If the truth of Christ’s death on the cross was the very center of Paul’s life, faith and ministry, shouldn’t it be the center of our focus as well?

I would like to challenge myself along with all of you to spend a lot of our meditation time this month thinking about the meaning, purpose and glory of the Cross. Let’s see if we can really encourage one another with what God is teaching us about the cross. You can respond by placing comments on this or articles on this subject here on the Faithful Men Blog, or, if you are a Facebook user, you can join the discussion in the Faithful Men group there.

I’m looking forward to all that we can learn together.

Further Reflections on the Cross

Another interesting aspect of the death of Christ on the cross is that the Lord was pleased to bruise Him. Isaiah 53:10 tells us that God put Him to grief. After He made His soul and offering for sin He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied.

Some would claim that it was immoral for God to put His own son to grief. We must trust Scripture and not the values we learn from the world. For our sin God did this. He could see the many children He would have as a result of His Sacrifice. He saw His seed and was satisfied. Let your heart dwell on this amazing truth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Great Exchange

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

This is an amazing statement. The perfect Son of God who did not know sin at all was made sin. It isn’t that He just bore our sins, which he did, but He was made sin. Take a moment and think about what that is saying. Here’s a man who had lived a perfect life no feeling the full force of sinfulness and the resulting judgment of God. He was cursed by God.

Not only did He become sin, but He became sin FOR US. He was willing to go through this out of His love for us – ultimately that we might be part of His church, His bride.

Finally, and the most amazing part of the whole thing is that we, as part of this grand transaction, would be made the righteousness of God in Him. He took our sin that we might have God’s righteousness. How righteous is God? Think about it. If you have come to Christ in faith, you have been given the righteousness of God. When God looks at you, He sees His own righteousness reflected back at Him.

This is certainly completely undeserved and unearned. If you think you’ve been good enough to merit even a tiny bit of this, think again.

Take some time today to think over this grand and glorious exchange, conceived and executed by God Himself.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 28 Christ Paid the Penalty

When we really understand the gospel, we understand that the sins we have committed result in the death penalty for each one of us. The good news of course is that Christ paid that penalty on the cross.

This week's verse is I Peter 3:18
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- Ah Holy Jesus

Ah, Holy Jesus (Words by Johann Heerman

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended,
That man to judge Thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by Thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
’Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
I crucified Thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

For me, kind Jesus, was Thy incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and Thy life’s oblation;
Thy death of anguish and Thy bitter passion,
For my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay Thee,
I do adore Thee, and will ever pray Thee,
Think on Thy pity and Thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Scandal of the Cross

In I Corinthians 1:21-24, Paul tells us that God, in his wisdom, decided to use what man considers foolish to bring salvation. In other words, God’s wisdom purposely turns upside down the wisdom of men. He goes on to explain that gentiles seek for wisdom whereas Jews desire proof in the form of a sign. God’s message of the cross is foolishness to the gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews. He purposely turned both upside down so that the power and true wisdom might belong to God alone.

The word “stumbling block” that he uses here is the word “skandalon” from which we get the word scandal. A skandalon was something that trips people up and impedes their easy progress. In Galatians 5:11, Paul explains the same thing when he tells us that if we accept a legalistic approach to salvation, the skandalon of the cross would cease. In other words, God does not want anything to block the wisdom of His approach by causing the stumbling block to be removed.

So as you consider the cross and what it means, do not forget that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). God’s method of salvation is to have His only Son die a criminal’s death on a cross to take our punishment in order that He might set us free. This doesn’t make sense to the world and it causes God’s own people, the Jews, to stumble, but to us who are being saved it demonstrates both the power and wisdom of God.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- For All the Saints

1. For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed,
thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

2. Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
thou Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
thou in the darkness drear, their one true light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

3. O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

4. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

5. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

6. From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 27 Penalty of Sin

Here's the verse for this week. 

Sin came into the world through Adam. Not only do we sin because we're sinners, but we sinned in Adam. That means the moment we're born we're already guilty because Adam's sin was our sin because we were in him when he did it.

Rom 5:12
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- The Son of God Goes Forth to War

The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below,
He follows in His train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong:
Who follows in His train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came;
Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel,
The lion’s gory mane;
They bowed their heads the death to feel:
Who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of Heav’n,
Through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
To follow in their train.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Study With Me -- Acts Lesson 14

What are the purposes for gathering together as a church? Most of us would immediately say that we gather for worship, and certainly that is one of them. As I’ve been studying the book of Acts, I’ve taken a slight detour into I Corinthians 12-14. Even though the main emphasis in these chapters is on spiritual gifts, it’s interesting to pay attention to the principles that Paul lays out for the church. I think the principles he lays down for evaluating the use of tongues in the church can also be used to evaluate anything we do together.

Look at these phrases from verses in I Corinthians 14.
5: he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
6: …if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you…?
9: …unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand.
12: let it be for the edification of the church.
14: if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful
16: he does not understand what you say.
17: you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
19: I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also.

These are brief phrases taken from these verses so that you can focus on what is important. Several words keep coming up: edification, profit, understanding, teaching. My purpose right now is not to look at the issue of tongues but to point out that in Paul’s discussion of tongues he focuses on the purpose of their time together. He wants to be sure that everything provides edification of others, helps people learn and understand the truth for their spiritual profit.

Each of us who has any input into the events of a worship service should evaluate our contribution in terms of these characteristics. What about music for example. Is the music understandable? As a pianist, in the past I may have played an offertory that sounded beautiful, but was a song no one knew. How then could people say amen to that which had no meaning to them? (Verse 16)

Whether you are a leader or someone who participates in the pew, make sure your participation encourages understanding and edification of your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CAMPONTHIS: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? is the power of God unto salvation

One of the most important things we can do as faithful men is to meditate often on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. this after all is the good news that is the power of God unto salvation.

Steve Camp had a great article on this on Tuesday. I would encourage each of you to read and think about what God has provided in Christ.

CAMPONTHIS: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?<br> is the power of God unto salvation

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Giving Rights to Embryos

The incident of the woman giving birth to octuplets is providing pro-life people the opportunity to push for legislation that will define an embryo as a human being. The discussion surrounding this story and President Obama's approval of embryonic stem cell research provides the backdrop for us as Christians to discuss with our friends and neighbors a biblical approach to understanding what's at stake here.

Jill Stanek, in an article in USA Today, describes the common practice used by in vitro fertilization clinics:

"Usually 10 or fewer eggs are harvested and fertilized. The resulting unique human beings are grown in a petri dish and checked for defects. Suspected imperfect embryos are killed. Typically the doctor will implant one to five unflawed embryos. If multiples survive, selective reduction is recommended. Remaining embryos are frozen. Some die when thawed. Others are killed in the name of science."

See the entire article here.

Each of us needs to do what we can to let our representatives know how we stand on this practice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 26 The Penalty of Sin

Here’s the verse for this week.

This is a sobering thought, even for us as Christians. We don’t get two or more lives.

We get one life, we die once and then comes the judgment.

Heb 9:27
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spurgeon - Evening March 11

I was amazed again at the extent of God's effort and purpose to seek me and find me. As I read the following devotional from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening I was humbled by the thought that God was the seeker, not me.

Spurgeon’s Evening Devotional for March 11.

"Thou shalt be called, Sought out."
- Isaiah 62:12

The surpassing grace of God is seen very clearly in that we were not only sought, but sought out. Men seek for a thing which is lost upon the floor of the house, but in such a case there is only seeking, not seeking out. The loss is more perplexing and the search more persevering when a thing is sought out. We were mingled with the mire: we were as when some precious piece of gold falls into the sewer, and men gather out and carefully inspect a mass of abominable filth, and continue to stir and rake, and search among the heap until the treasure is found. Or, to use another figure, we were lost in a labyrinth; we wandered hither and thither, and when mercy came after us with the gospel, it did not find us at the first coming, it had to search for us and seek us out; for we as lost sheep were so desperately lost, and had wandered into such a strange country, that it did not seem possible that even the Good Shepherd should track our devious roamings. Glory be to unconquerable grace, we were sought out! No gloom could hide us, no filthiness could conceal us, we were found and brought home. Glory be to infinite love, God the Holy Spirit restored us!

The lives of some of God's people, if they could be written would fill us with holy astonishment. Strange and marvellous are the ways which God used in their case to find his own. Blessed be his name, he never relinquishes the search until the chosen are sought out effectually. They are not a people sought to-day and cast away to-morrow. Almightiness and wisdom combined will make no failures, they shall be called, "Sought out!" That any should be sought out is matchless grace, but that we should be sought out is grace beyond degree! We can find no reason for it but God's own sovereign love, and can only lift up our heart in wonder, and praise the Lord that this night we wear the name of "Sought out. "

Monday, March 16, 2009

President Approves More Killings

President Obama recently signed an executive order reversing President Bush’s ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This is a tragic mistake and great sin, for in doing so, the President is using your tax dollars and mine to murder thousands of human beings.

There was a very interesting discussion of what is at stake here on the Albert Mohler radio program in the last week or so. You can find the link here. (Just today he also discussed the fetus as an organ factory. I haven't heard this one yet, but you can find the link here.) I would strongly encourage every one of you to take the time to listen to these programs. It’s an hour’s commitment but worth it. It helped me to grasp in a much better way what is taking place on this issue. It’s time for us to learn as much as we can about this and take a stand as Christians against this barbarism.

I would also refer you to my son’s blog on this topic. He is a much better writer than I and helps us to put these things in better focus. You can find his article here.

Finally, I would recommend the book, “How to be a Christian in a Brave New World” by Joni Eareckson Tada & Nigel M. De S. Cameron. This book will help you understand some of the newer bio-medical technologies such as cloning from a biblical point of view. Buy it and read it.

As men who want to be faithful, let’s start taking a stand on this issue by praying fervently for our country and its leaders, by letting our voices be known to our representatives, and informing ourselves and then our friends and families as to why these practices must be stopped.

“O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.” Daniel 9:4-5

Memorization Monday -- Week 25 The Fact of Sin

This week’s verse continues with the truth of the Gospel – The Penalty for Sin

This verse is no doubt familiar to you, but what I want you to think about as you meditate on this verse is whether you believe it or nor. Really. We so easily say, “The wages of sin is death.” But do we really believe that the consequences of my impatience with my wife carries the death penalty with it? Do we really believe that not loving a neighbor with the same amount of love that I love myself carries the death penalty? Do I really believe that because I have only loved God with part of my strength rather than all of it, I am worthy of death? If so, consider how much forgiveness you and I have already received from the hand of God. Is it enough to cause me to love Him more?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- Come Thou Fount

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Study With Me -- Acts Lesson 13

We have seen from I Corinthians 13 that knowledge and prophecy would cease when something caused them to cease. But what is prophecy?

I Corinthians 14:1 tells us to pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. Often times we think of prophecy as telling the future. However in verse 3 we have a pretty good definition of New Testament prophecy. “He who prophecies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”

I think New Testament prophecy is more like we would think of preaching. It is speaking the Word of God in a way that builds up, exhorts and comforts us.

Take a look at 2 Peter 1:16-21. Peter is one of the apostles who was with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. Was that a real experience or just a feeling? It was a real experience and a grand one at that. Not many people have had that sort of experience.

Look at what Peter says in verse 16: “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” He goes on to describe a portion of his real experience there on the mountain including the fact that they heard the voice of God.

Then Peter makes an amazing statement in verse 19. He says, “We also have the more sure prophetic word.” What Peter? You have a more sure word than the experience you had up there on the mountain with Jesus? What is that more sure word?

He responds by telling us in verse 19 that it is not only a more sure word, but a word which we do well to take heed as a light that shines in a dark place. OK Peter, what is it?

Verse 20 has the answer. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation…” So the answer is that Scripture is a more sure word than what Peter experienced on the mountain and it is a more sure word than any experience we may ever have with God.

So many times people will tell me that what it says in Scripture is all well and good, but they had an experience that cannot be denied and go on to say something that is in direct contradiction to Scripture. Our attitude toward the Bible has to be such that we will measure every thought, every experience, every decision by what it says. Whatever doesn’t match must be thrown out no matter how deep or personal that experience may have been.

The gift of prophecy then is the gift of being able to speak the Word of God from Scripture in such a way that people are built up, exhorted and comforted with the truth from God.

I'd be interested to hear how the rest of you see it. What is biblical prophecy the way you understand it?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 24 The Fact of Sin

This week’s verse is the third in the series on the Gospel – The Fact of Sin

Rom 3:12
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Some thoughts on Forgiveness

I've been doing some thinking on the topic of forgiveness lately. In the study of Acts that I've been doing, it seems that forgiveness is the primary thing offered to people in the Gospel. It isn't eternal life that is mentioned or being with Jesus, even those are clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. I then got to thinking about why we don't appreciate forgiveness more. My son Tim told me about a book called Plague of Plagues written in 1669 by Ralph Venning. I'm going to take the liberty of quoting some sections from this book off and on over the next couple of weeks for your consideration. Even though the language is a little archaic, I found the things he had to say sobering and challenging and helped me to appreciate forgiveness all the more.

Here's today's installment--

If we consider man in a natural or physical state, we shall find sin to be (i) against the well-being, and (ii) against the very being of man. It will not suffer him to be well or long in the world, nor if possible to be at all.
(i) It is against man's well-being in this life. Well-being is the life of life, and sin bears us so much ill-will, that it deprives us of our livelihood, and of that which makes it worth our while to live. Man was born to a great estate, but by sin, which was and is treason against God, he forfeited all. Man came into the world as into a house ready furnished; he had all things prepared and ready to hand. All the creatures came to wait on him and pay him homage; but when man sinned, God turned him out of house and home, and all his lands, goods and chattels were taken from him. Paradise was man's inheritance, where he had everything pleasant to the eye and good for food (he needed no clothes while innocent). But when he sinned, God dispossessed him of all, and drove him out into the wide world, like a pilgrim or a beggar, to live by his own hands and to earn his meat by the sweat of his brow, as you may read at length in Genesis 3.

Thus, by sin, man, who was the Emperor of Eden, is banished from his native country, and must never see it again but in a new and living way; for the old is closed up, and besides that, it is kept against him with flaming swords. Ever since, it has been every man's lot to come into and go out of this world naked, to show that he has no right to anything, but lives on the alms of God's charity and grace. All we have or hold between our birth and death is clear gain and mere gift. God might choose whether he would allow us anything or not, and when he has given he may take back again, and none of us has cause to say anything but what Job did: 'Naked came I into the world, and naked shall I return; the Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord' (Job 1.21). All we have, our food and raiment, is only lent to us. We are only tenants at will, and therefore, seeing we deserve nothing, we should be content with, and thankful for anything (1 Timothy 6.7,8).

Monday, March 02, 2009

Memorization Monday

Here it is Monday again. Today’s verse is the second in the section on the Gospel – The Fact of Sin

John 3:19
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Have a good week.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

How Sweet and Awesome Is This Place

How sweet and awesome is this place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

Here every bowel of our God
With soft compassion rolls;
Here peace and pardon bought with blood
Is food for dying souls.

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Study With Me -- Acts Lesson 12

I ended the last post with the question as to what will cause knowledge and prophecy to cease and when will or did tongues cease in and of themselves.

I Corinthians 13:10 Tells us, “when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” Well, when is that? I think verse 12 has the answer for us. Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. What does that sound like to you? To me it sounds like knowledge and prophecy will be made to cease when Christ comes back and we see Him face to face. Neither gift will be needed after that.
The other half of the question though is more difficult. When did or will tongues cease in and of themselves? On this topic I think a great deal of humility is needed because there are a great many opinions on this topic and many books and sermons have been preached on it throughout the centuries. There is no way that I’m claiming to have the final answer which everyone must follow. However, I don’t think that means we should stop studying and trying to figure out what God is saying. Certainly as men who would be faithful, part of that faithfulness is in attempting to study the Word so that we can rightly divide it. So for whatever it’s worth here is my take.

Just as in chapter 13 Paul mentioned growing up and putting away childish things, he challenges us in chapter 14:20 to be grown up in our understanding. He then quotes from Isaiah 28:11, 12. “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear me,” says the Lord.

If you go back to Isaiah 28, the scenario is this. Isaiah has been preaching and the people basically say, “Who does he think he’s talking to? Babies?” “He keeps repeating things to us – line upon line, precept upon precept. He is treating us like little kids!”

Isaiah’s response to this basically is, “OK. If that’s they way you are going to be about what I’m teaching you then judgment is coming and I’m going to talk to you with people of other languages. You don’t like hearing this in your own language, then I’ll speak to you with men of other languages. That will be a sign to you that judgment is coming.”

Of course that was followed up in the Old Testament with the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of Israel in foreign countries.

What Paul is saying in chapter 14 of I Corinthians is that tongues are a sign to the Jews in that same way in His day. Of course we know that not many years later judgment came and the Jews were scattered from Jerusalem once again. So in verse 22 after he quotes Isaiah he says, “Therefore.” That is an important word. The “therefore” means he is connecting this verse to the quote from Isaiah. “Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.”

So we say to Paul, “What are tongues for?” His answer is that tongues are a sign. So we ask, “A sign? Who is the sign for?”

Paul says, “Tongues are a sign for unbelievers.”

I believe he means unbelieving Jews because he tied verse 22 with a “therefore” to verse 21. It is a sign for unbelieving Jews that God is again speaking and expecting a response from the Jewish nation. It’s a validating sign that God is working through Paul and the other apostles.

So when will they cease? I believe they ceased in and of themselves when Jerusalem fell and the judgment had come. After that, Jews were no longer in their land, Scripture had been written and validated by all of the previous signs and wonders and there is now no need for this sign gift to unbelieving Israel.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 22 The Fact of Sin

This week’s focus is on the Gospel. The first topic is the fact of sin.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hymn of the Week -- What Wondrous Love is This

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Study WIth Me - Acts Lesson 11

We’re continuing a short detour from the study of acts through a discussion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 12-14. God through the Apostle Paul has taught us in chapter 12 that there is one body but there is a diversity of gifts in that body. Just as the body would be a monstrosity if it were only an eye, so the body of Christ would be a monstrosity if it had only one functioning gift and therefore God has provided many members with differing gifts so that the body would be a functioning whole. This provides a unified body with no schism.

Paul ends chapter 12 with a lead in to a more excellent way. That way is love. If we use our various gifts without love, we are nothing more than a clanging, noisy cymbal. After a description of love he says in verse 8, “Love never fails.” He goes on to say in that verse, “whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

Let’s look at this passage a little bit. As faithful men, God wants us to dig into His word and learn what He has for us. We shouldn’t shy away from finding out what God is saying. On the first reading it sounds like Paul is talking about three things –prophecy, tongues and knowledge – all of which will pass away. It sounds like he is lumping them altogether into one category. However it is important to look a little deeper. I am not a Greek scholar and so I am indebted to others who have helped me learn a little bit about how language works. The verb used for failing for prophecies and knowledge is different from the verb used for tongues ceasing. In addition to that, the verb for what happens to prophecies and knowledge is in the passive voice and the verb for what happens to tongues is in the middle voice.

At this point some of you may be saying, “So, what.” Or “What does this have to do with me?” Well, if you want to understand what the Bible is saying, it’s important to know what it is saying. A passive verb means that something else is doing the action. You might say, “I was hit by the ball.” That is an example of passive. Something else, namely the ball, did the hitting. In the case of verse 8, knowledge and prophecy will cease or fail because something else acts upon them and causes them to cease. Tongues is different. The verb that describes tongues is in the middle voice. That means tongues ceases in and of itself. It is not caused to cease by something else. It just stops in and of itself.

My point in emphasizing this is that rather than tying the three things together, Paul is actually separating them into two categories: those that cease of themselves and those that are caused to cease by something else.

This is emphasized then in verses 9 and 10. He says, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” He focuses on knowledge and prophecy. Tongues is left out of this discussion. That’s because tongues will cease in and of itself whereas something else will cause the other two things to cease.

Now comes the difficult part. What does all of this mean? When will or did tongues cease in and of themselves, and what is the thing that is going to cause the other two to cease?

I’ve already written a lot today, so let’s pick up there next time.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 21 Review

This is week 21 of our discipline of scripture memorization. I think this would be a good time to do a little reviewing. I’ll give a topic and a reference and give you a couple of words of the verse. See if you can finish the verse.

Witnessing – Acts 1:8 But you shall….

Obedience – John 14:21 He who has…

Prayer – I John 5:14, 15 Now this is….

The Word – Acts 17:11 These were more…

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Study with Me - Acts Lesson 10

Again, we continue our study of the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 12-14. In verse 12 of chapter 12 we learn that the church is one body. That means all true believers no matter what church they physically attend are part of the same body. The members are placed and given functions as God directs. The purpose for this is that there would be no schism in the body.

The interesting thing to me is that often our differences seem to bring schism, but God gave different functions to prevent schism. How would that prevent schism? My interpretation of this is that we need each other because none of us is complete in our self. We need to learn to rely on one another more because by our self we are incomplete. We need the gifts of all the others around us to make a well-functioning body.

Paul concludes this section by telling us to desire the best gifts and yet there is a more excellent way. What way is that? …Love.

More next time.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Study With Me - Acts Lesson 9

There are so many different beliefs regarding the Holy Spirit and tongues that I thought it might be wise to look at I Corinthians 12-14 before we return to our Acts study.

One of the pages in the Acts study notes contains the guide to this study as well. You can find that here.

One of the main things we learn of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is that the Spirit has an impact on our speech. I Corinthians 12:3 tells us what we won’t say and what we will be able to say if we have the Spirit in us. No one can say Christ is accursed if the Spirit is in control. And no one can say “Jesus is Lord” unless he has the spirit. Obviously if you offered someone a thousand dollars they might say the words, but the point is that no one will say it from their heart unless the Spirit dwells in them.

Another thing we learn is that all three members of the trinity are involved in the gifts and their use. In verses 4 through 6 we learn that there are a variety of gifts, but it is the same Spirit that provides them. There are a variety of ways those gifts are used in ministry and service, but the same Lord that directs and oversees their use. And finally there are a variety of ways the gifts and ministries are energized but it is the one God that does the working.

One of the things that is alluded to in verses 4 – 6 and spelled out more clearly throughout the chapter is that not everyone has the same gifts. He gives to each one as He wills. (v.11) The members are placed in the body as He pleased. (v. 18) He says in verse 8, “for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, and to another faith…” So we see that He gives one gift to one person and a different gift to another person. Not all have all the gifts. In fact in verse 29 he asks, “Are all apostles? …” The implied answer to each of these questions is “no”.

So the Spirit gives gifts as directed by the Lord Jesus and energized by God the Father. These are assigned as it pleases Him with the purpose that all would be profited and the body would grow.

Memorization Monday -- Week 20 Witnessing

This is the third in the series on witnessing.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
I Peter 3:15

Next week we'll take a break to review some of the verses we've been learning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 19 Obedience

Our verse this week is the second in the series on witnessing

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Study With Me - Acts Lesson 8

I’m still working through some of the teachings regarding the Holy Spirit in the Epistles. This all started with a study of the book of Acts and I thought it important to investigate what the epistles teach.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. That is, the Holy Spirit sets us apart for God’s exclusive use. In the Old Testament, items that were going to be used for the service of God were dedicated and set apart for use in the temple. Once they were dedicated in this way, they were not supposed to be used for ordinary purposes. In our lives, the Holy Spirit is the one who sets us apart for God’s use. I Peter 1:2; 2 Thess 2:13 and Gal 5:22

The Holy Spirit prays for us. Romans 8:26 tells us that we don’t know what to pray for and so the Holy Spirit prays for us according to the will of God. I used to think the verse said that “when” we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays. But Scripture says that we definitely don’t know what to pray for and therefore the Spirit has the ministry of praying for us. He knows what the will of God is and He knows what our heart needs. That should be a great encouragement to us.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 18 Witnessing

Here it is week 18 of our Memorization Monday series and the topic for this and the next two weeks is witnessing.

Our verse today is I John 1:3 “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Am His and He Is Mine

Loved with everlasting love, Led by grace that love to know.
Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace, O this transport all divine
In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen!
Birds with gladder songs o’er flow, Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, Pillowed on the loving breast!
O to lie forever here, Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear – I am His and He is mine.

His forever, only His – Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heaven and earth may fade and flee, Firstborn light in gloom decline,
But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Memorization Monday -- Week 17 Obedience

Well, somehow memorization Monday slipped into Tuesday.

Here's the verse for this week based on the topic of obedience.

Hebrews 5:8 "Though He was a son, he learned obedience through the things which He suffered"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Study With Me - Acts Lesson 7

In my study of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, my thoughts turned to the epistles to learn some of the key teachings there. If you want the complete study guide that I prepared for my Sunday School class, you can find it here. This won’t be a complete discussion but rather some of the key points that stood out to me.

In Galatians 3:5, Paul tells us that the Spirit is received by faith. There are no works or human effort that will cause the Spirit indwell us, but rather it is through faith in the same way that salvation is through faith.

One of the things that we know with our mind, but is incredible to really think about is that the Holy Spirit indwells us as Christians. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Somehow the “spiritual” indwells the “physical”. It doesn’t make sense how that can be but it is clearly what scripture teaches in the following passages: I Cor 3:16; I Cor 6:19; Gal 4:6 and Romans 8:16.

A third truth that we’ll review today is that the Holy Spirit is a “down payment” on the rest of our salvation. He is a guarantee of what is to come. He seals and secures us for eternity. A person who gives a down payment has to be prepared to lose the down payment if he can’t follow through with the rest of the purchase. In the same way, God is so committed to our future salvation and glorification that He is willing to give us His Spirit as the down payment for that commitment.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This-N-That: New Year's Resolutions

An article by Henry Morris in Days of Praise brought up some interesting points about New Year’s Resolutions. He begins by connecting the making of New Year’s resolutions to a Babylonian custom. I don’t know enough about history to know if that is true or not, but he goes on to point out that after centuries of attempts by the church to fight against these pagan practices, they were eventually “Christianized” by the church. Or perhaps we should say the church was “paganized” by those customs.

While all of the above is probably true, I wonder why we sometimes go to lengths to put a negative spin on something that can be a positive thing. Perhaps resolutions did begin in Babylon, but on those occasions when I have made some New Year’s resolutions, it didn’t have anything to do with the pagan origins of the practice. In a similar way, when I put up a Christmas tree, I don’t do so with any thought of support to pagan background such a tree may have had. Didn’t Paul say to eat “whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; because the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness.” I Corinthians 10:25, 26

In Romans 14:5 Paul writes, “One person esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” He continues, “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.” In other words these things that are not clear cut should be left to individual consciences as we seek to glorify the Lord through our lives.

Morris mentions the fact that when we make resolutions we need to be careful that such promises must be genuine and from our hearts. We must also remember that when we vow, God expects us to follow through. In other words we should not make vows lightly.

These points are true except for the fact that in my mind a resolution is not a promise or a vow. A resolution is a decision. Perhaps we hear a sermon on prayer and are convicted of the fact that we need to pray more. We decide to take steps to do so. We may not make any promises or vows, we may just decide we are going to try to do better. That is a resolution. Why put fear in people’s hearts that they shouldn’t make a resolution because perhaps they may not keep it?

It seems to me that the beginning of a new year, whether it be January 1 or on our birthday is a perfect time to reflect on the past and make some necessary adjustments in our personal disciplines. Neither the fear of pagan history nor the fear of not being able to follow-through on our decision should keep us from making God-honoring adjustments in our life.