Monday, March 29, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Challenge -- Follow Christ

Luke 9:23
Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

What a challenge! Easy to quote, but hard to do.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Jesus Paid it All

Jesus Paid it All by Elvina M. Hall
  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.
  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Raising Children Part 2

The last time I posed three questions about raising children in the training and admonition of the Lord. Last time I explained briefly why this is important to God. Today we want to look at what the training and admonition of the Lord means.

Specifically the verse says to “bring up” children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. What does it mean to “bring up”.

“Bring up” means “to nourish”. Think about plants. In order to nourish a plant we need to know the 1) Conditions for healthy growth; 2)Be familiar with that particular kind of plant; and 3) Provide what’s needed on a daily basis.

This responsibility with children is given by God to the Fathers. Fathers then delegate part of the responsibility to the mother. It is the father’s responsibility to know each child, what he/she needs and how he/she can best be nourished. He then prescribes the care that will be needed.

The Bible teaches us that the Word is nourishment. There is the milk of the Word and the meat of the Word. A father needs to know what each child needs from Scripture in order to meet the specific needs of the child at this particular stage of life. See Hebrews 5:12 and I Peter 2:2

Know your children, what they are thinking and where they are in their development. This takes insightful questions and thoughtful listening regularly. In order to be faithful men as dads we need to take this responsibility seriously. In order to do that we need to be men who know the Word, studying it and meditating on it so that we will be thoroughly equipped to spiritually nourish our children.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Biblical Manhood - Raising Children Part 1

In Ephesians 6:4 we read, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

I want to look at the last part of this verse and ask three questions:

Why is this important to God?

What does it mean, what’s involved, what does it look like?

What are the results?

First then, why is this important to God?

Look up Genesis 18:16-19. In verse 19, God says that He knew Abraham for a reason. What was the reason? That they may keep the way of the Lord and do righteousness and justice.

In Malachi 2:15 divorce is the topic. God states that he made the husband and wife one. Then he asks, “Why one?” The answer to that question is that God is seeking a godly seed or offspring.

God is not only interested in us, but he is interested in the children we will have. And as He looks forward into the future, He is interested that those children and our childrens’ children will keep on a godly path, live righteously and do justice. God desires that there be more and more people in the world who love Him and live righteously so that there will be many examples of God’s character reflected throughout the world.

So when you think about the children you have or those you hope to have some day, remember to see them as a heritage God has given you to be a light and a testimony to all that will ever come to know them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Love from a Good Conscience

According to I Timothy 1:5, true biblical love flows from a three-fold spring – a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. These three together are the essential work of God in salvation. God purifies hearts by faith (Acts 15:9); and those who have been born again have purified their souls in sincere love of the brethren. (I Peter 1:22, 23)

I think a pure heart is necessary because that way it is undivided and loyal and its motives are pure, giving rise to a pure love. A good conscience is necessary because it allows us to love without trying to compensate for a guilty conscience toward God or others. And a sincere faith is necessary because it keeps our love from being hypocritical and pretentious.

I’d like to focus on a good conscience in this article. If you have a Bible available, it would be helpful to turn to Hebrews chapter 10. How is a good conscience achieved when our lives have a lot of sin in them? Take some time to follow the logic that the writer of the book of Hebrews follows as he helps us understand how to have a good conscience.

In verse 1 (Hebrews 10) we find that the Old Testament sacrifices could not make the worshippers perfect. If they could have, two things would have happened according to verse 2. First, the sacrifices would have stopped because the people would be perfect and there would be no need of further sacrifices. Second, the worshippers would no longer have a conscience of sins.

In order to understand what this means, we need to look at verse 3 which tells us that instead of having a clear conscience, the opposite was the case. The sacrifices were a constant reminder of sins. Instead of being able to put the sins behind them and forget about them, the sacrifices kept reminding them of their sinfulness. If the sacrifices had worked, there would not be this constant reminder of sin and the worshippers’ conscience would not keep plaguing them with guilt.

Hebrews 9:9 basically says the same thing. The sacrifices could not make us perfect in conscience.

According to 10:9, God’s will though was to remove the first method of animal sacrifices in order to make way for the second, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Verse 10 tells us that through the will of God we have been sanctified once for all by Christ’s one-time sacrifice for us. Pay close attention to the words, “once for all”. Multiple sacrifices are no longer needed.

Every priest of the Old Testament stood daily ministering in their role as priests. But Christ (verse 12) offered one sacrifice for sins and sat down. The job is done. The sacrifice is done once, never to be repeated. That’s what sitting down signifies.

Verse 14 then gives us an important statement. It says that by one offering He perfected forever those who were sanctified. Put verse 10 and 14 together. Through the will of God we have been sanctified and having been sanctified we have been perfected forever. Now go back and think about the beginning of the chapter. If the sacrifices had made the people perfect, the sacrifices would have stopped and the conscience of sins would be ended. What the first system was not able to do, the sacrifice of Christ accomplished!

That seems like an amazing statement, but do we trust how we feel or what the Scripture says? I don’t know about you, but my conscience often blasts at me about my continual guiltiness. But that is similar to the Old Testament sacrificial system. There was a constant reminder of sins.

God promises us in verse 17 that God will remember our sins and iniquities no more!

Now let me clarify one point. Shouldn’t our conscience convict us when we sin? Yes it should, but I don’t think that is what’s being talked about here. It’s not a matter of being convicted of particular sins. The conscience is right in bringing those things to our attention. What this passage does to help me is to remind me that my conscience should not be allowed to continually beat me down and continually remind me that I am a sinner. God has dealt with that once and for all on the cross. The sacrifices have stopped and my conscience should not continue to afflict me. God will remember my sins no more; they are removed as far as the east is from the west; they have been thrown into the depths of the sea; though they are like a red stain, they have been made as white as snow.

As Hebrews 6:1 tells us, let us move on from the elementary principles and not lay again the foundation of repentance from dead works and faith toward God. We shouldn’t be continually revisiting this issue. We need to move forward and not allow our consciences to keep us bound and fruitless for Christ. A good conscience in turn allows us to love both God and others without the ulterior motive of trying to prove something or work off some guilt we might feel.

Here are some other verses that might be encouraging to you: Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Acts 13:38; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:19; I John 1:9

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prayer for a Clean Heart and Right Spirit

Every month I try to choose a verse or two of Scripture to meditate on and to use as my source of praying for various friends and family during that month. My focus this month is Psalm 51:10 which ways, “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

As we live our lives it seems as though we tend to get spattered by the world with its temptations and distractions. We need that clean heart that David is writing about here. And the thing which I noticed for the first time is that the clean heart is created by God. We know that God promises that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 But He is the one that creates the clean heart originally when we trust Him by faith and He continues to be the source of the cleansing as we walk through life confessing our sins along the way.

Also included in the verse is a request for the renewal of a right spirit. To me a right spirit speaks of the right attitude and frame of mind. We need a spirit of meekness and humility; a spirit of love and a sound mind; and a spirit of truth and justice. One could list many more. Here again, it’s God who renews as we humbly submit to His work in our lives.

May we be faithful in the way we request these inner changes that only God can accomplish.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings -- The Second Coming

I Thessalonians 4:16, 17
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where is Our Confidence?

While reading Scripture this morning, I came upon a very encouraging verse. Isaiah 51:12, 13 "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth."

Often times the people around us, people we work with, people in the neighborhood, or people in leadership bring fear to our lives. But this passage is encouraging us to remember that any other human being is a person who will die at some point; he is like the grass that is here today and gone tomorrow. Man's comfort is short lived. Our comfort and assurance should come from God who rules over all. He is the one who created heaven and earth. He is not here today and gone tomorrow. God does not change and His promises never fail.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings -- Second Coming

Titus 2:12, 13 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- The Spacious Firmament on High

The Spacious Firmament on High by Joseph Addison

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame
Their great Original proclaim.
Th’unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator’s powers display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
While all the stars that round her burn
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though in solemn silence all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though no real voice nor sound
Amid the radiant orbs be found?
In reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing as they shine,
“The hand that made us is divine.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Biblical Manhood Loving Your Wife - Part 4

The other issue is found in I Peter 3:7. We are told here to dwell with our wife in an understanding manner, giving her honor as the weaker vessel. There are a couple of things to think about here.

First, we are to live in an understanding manner. That takes initiative and effort. It also takes listening! We need to learn to understand the characteristics of women generally and our wife in particular. This takes careful listening and practice. We need to learn not to react, but to ask questions and probe, seeking to understand without making belittling comments. We aren’t right just because we are thinking like a man. Our wife wants to be thought of and understood as a person and not as merely an object of her husband’s sexual passion.

Second, we are to give honor to our wife. That is why we open the doors for her, wait for her to go first and serve her in any way we can. Maybe when you sit down to eat you could refrain yourself and your children from eating half of your food before she even gets to sit down. How’s that for a practical application?

Finally, the passage tells us the reason we should do these things is because she is the weaker vessel. This is not a slam against women. It is the truth from God. Many women seem to be confident, able to lead, and secure. In fact some men feel inadequate when comparing themselves with their wife. But the truth is that your wife is the weaker vessel. She often feels vulnerable and inadequate in ways you might not ever suspect. So learn to love her and respect her and honor her as the weaker vessel and she will be greatly encouraged and strengthened in her role as wife and mother.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Biblical Manhood Loving Your Wife - Part 3

There are two additional issues related to loving your wife in a biblical manner. In Colossians 3:19 we are told to love our wife and not to be bitter against her. Nowhere is the wife directly told not to be bitter against her husband. Obviously bitterness against others is not right, but I take it from this passage that men are more prone to bitterness than women in the marriage relationship.

There is a tendency for men to believe that women should think like they do. The reality is that men and women think differently about virtually everything. When a man doesn’t understand his wife’s thinking and behavior, he can become bitter. When she doesn’t adopt his frame of reference, he can misunderstand what’s going on and become bitter. This passage is a warning to make sure we are alert to the root of bitterness that may grow. Hebrews 12:14, 15 tells us to seek peace with everyone and to be careful about a root of bitterness growing. This would be especially true in the marriage relationship.

We’ll look at the second issue next time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Biblical Manhood Loving Your Wife - Part 2

According to Ephesians 5:27, Christ’s purpose in loving the church is to sanctify and cleanse her with the Word so that He might present her to himself a glorious bride without spot or wrinkle. I don’t mean to imply a wrong motive to Christ here, but it is clear from this passage that His work and ministry in His church is so that He will be able to present her to Himself. Not only does He want to present her to Himself, but He wants what He presents to Himself to be glorious and without spot or wrinkle. In order to do that He undertakes the ministry of cleansing and sanctification.

This is exactly what a man is supposed to do in loving his wife like Christ loved the church. A husband is to minister the principles of Scripture to his wife and serve His wife in a Godly way using the Word of God in such a way that his wife grows more beautiful, clean and holy as time goes by. And as a practical result, he reaps the benefit more and more as the years go by.

The bottom line is that he is to love his wife as he loves himself because in actuality, when he is loving her, he is loving himself because the two have become one. Many men, on the other hand, neglect their wife or don’t minister to them in a way that causes their beauty to increase. Instead they become hard, cold and cynical. When this happens, obviously the man hasn’t loved his wife the same way Christ does the church.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Biblical Manhood Loving Your Wife - Part 1

This is a very important study of Ephesians 5. I discovered these principles well into married life and I wish I had understood them much earlier. As we begin our study in verse 25, we find that a husband is supposed to love his wife in the same way that Christ loved the church. I used to think of this in terms of doing kind things for your wife or protecting her from danger, and so forth. However, there is much more to it than this. Verse 25 tells us that the way Christ loved the church is that He gave Himself for it so that he could sanctify and cleanse it through the Word. It’s important then to think about how we as husbands could love our wives in the same way.

Let’s look at it step by step. Christ’s purpose is to sanctify and cleanse the church using the Word. Our ministry to our wives should be to do the same thing, although not in the same way that only the Son of God could do. Sanctification means to set apart for a special purpose. We should sanctify our wife in such a way that she is a holy person, dedicated to God and to her husband. You should not look at your wife as one among many women, but as that special woman that God has brought into your life and to whom you have committed your life and devotion.

There is a special service we should be doing for our wife in the area of the Word of God. It is our responsibility as the husband to be a man of the Word and then to take that Word and use it in the life of our wife. The flow of spiritual life, teaching and application should be from the husband to the wife and not the other way around. It seems that most frequently the wife is more spiritually attuned than the husband is and this is a reversal of God’s plan.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Memorization Monday -- Promised Blessings -- Second Coming

John 14: 2, 3 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hymn of the Week -- Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.