Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't Be a Fool

God’s word instructs us to get wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 4:5) and in the previous Proverbs post we looked at how to get wisdom. Of course, the opposite of being wise is being foolish, and Proverbs 22:15 says that “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” It is no tragedy, however, for children to be foolish for they are of a nature foolish and must be taught wisdom and understanding – “But the rod of correction shall drive it [foolishness] far from him.” The tragedy is when foolish children become foolish adults!

What does a fool look like? Here are five features of foolishness. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is adequate.

Careless Feet

Proverbs 14:16 "Rageth” means arrogant and hot-headed; “confident” is referring to carelessness, recklessness, a conceited self-confidence. The fool is the person who carelessly walks through life. He sets no course, and he bounces around from one thing to another. The fool never senses danger until he walks over the edge.

Everyone make mistakes, and making a mistake does not mean that you are a fool. However, not remembering, not learning from your mistake, and repeating the identical mistake is foolish; it’s careless feet. The person who says, “The last time I went over there I got hurt!” But then walks back over “there” again and again and again; that’s foolishness.

Remember, the Bible says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and we do not judge a child too harshly because there are some things the child has yet to learn. Becoming an adult means putting away childish (foolish) things, attitudes, and tendencies, and learning from our mistakes. Do you learn from your mistakes, or do you have careless feet, returning to the same folly? For example:

  • If I work/play too many hours and neglect my family, it leads to breakdown and heartache.

  • If I spend more money than I make, the resulting financial pressure will consume me.

  • If I don’t spend time in God’s Word and in prayer I spiritually dry up.

“Careless feet” is one feature of foolishness; a second feature is quick fists.

Quick Fists

Fools are quick to fight. Fools love to fight. Not all fights involve jabs and uppercuts. The person who desires to punch, kick, and inflict bodily damage because of some perceived, or even genuine, slight is a fool. However, most “quick fists” are evident in a verbal manner (Proverbs 18:6). The fool is quick to quarrel. The fool self destructs; bringing upon himself judgment and punishment.

A fool is not only quick to quarrel, but he is quick to instigate a quarrel (Proverbs 20:3).

Are you foolish in this regard; quick to quarrel and fight? It is foolish for a Christian to quick fisted! Is it east to set you off? Do you quarrel, are you quick fisted if someone…

  • Ignores you?

  • Insults you?

  • Inflicts pain on you?

It is foolish for a Christian to quarrel and fight for the above reasons. This does not mean that Christians are weak, or that Christian should not speak up. Believers should boldly proclaim the gospel truth. Believers should speak up and speak out when the truth is violated, but this is to be done with “spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1) not as a foolish, loud-mouthed quarreler. Sadly, many Christians are timid and close-mouthed about the truth, but brash and loud about personal injury.

Loose Lips

The third foolish feature is “loose lips”. The most obvious feature of foolishness is the stuff spilling forth from your mouth! Please understand that a difference exists between being funny and being foolish. That line is easily crossed, but the line does exist. It is good to have fun and say funny things, but care should be taken not to be foolish. It is not ungodly to laugh at yourself or others.

Loose lips are words that cause pain and injury. Words that were said but should never have been said (Proverbs 14:3). From the mouth of the fool come arrogant, conceited, self-important words that destroy him and others.

Loose lips do not only refer to gossip, or to people who cannot keep another’s confidence. Loose lips belong to people who, under stressful situations, cut others down with their words, or are vindictive with their words.

  • Proverbs 10:19, There is no lack of sin where there is an excess of words. Perhaps you have heard this one-liner before: “I am the master of my unspoken words, and a slave to those that should have remained unspoken.”

  • Proverbs 17:28, Sometimes the quickest way to wisdom is by keeping your mouth shut. A person is truly wise when he knows when to speak and when to stay silent.

Roaming Eyes

Another feature of foolishness is roaming eyes; eyes that are always looking for something, just not God. Proverbs 17:24, “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.” Wisdom is as near as the Word of God and the Spirit of God; James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” A fool looks everywhere else to find answers. Foolishness is evident today in the rejection of Biblical truth and the blind groping for answers from all sources other than scripture.

Psalm 14:1; 53:1, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘There is no God.’” The fool rejects, or stubbornly denies the existence of God and then wastes his life looking for meaning. The fool wastes his life looking to satisfy that need which only God can fill. The fool is always looking for something, but never sure what that something is, or that something is ever changing for the fool. This is particularly evident in some church leaders who are ever and always changing the direction and focus of their ministries: traditional, contemporary, seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, emergent church, etc. Nothing is so far off the path for the fool that it cannot draw his roaming eyes.

There are various roaming eye “types”:

  • Materialistic Eyes – New and more things, always eyeing possessions. This person says, “I’d be a lot happier driving that car…living in that house…watching HDTV on 60″ of viewing pleasure, etc.

  • Distracted Eyes – Moving from fad to fad; moving from meaningless ‘A’ to unfulfilled ‘B’. Everyone who knows this person asks, “What’s his new thing? What’s he into this year?”

  • Lustful Eyes – Women can struggle with this, but it is mostly a male problem. Men, you need to know that women know when you are not looking at their eyes.

Plugged Ears

The fifth feature of foolishness is plugged ears. The fool always wants to talk be he will not listen. The fool is not teachable. Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” The fool is cocksure of himself and never listens to advice. Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25).

This characteristic must be jettisoned if God is to build a wise heart. You must be willing to listen to the input Godly men and women because you will be unable to make wise and Godly decisions if your ears are plugged. Not listening to Godly, Biblical counsel, admonition, and rebuke is foolish. Purposefully avoiding counsel and instruction is unwise. To say, “Thanks” and then continue down the same path is also foolish. God speaks to us through His Word, and that message may be communicated through others: pastor, teacher, friend, spouse; someone who loves you enough to sit you down and say, “Listen up!” Unplug those ears and be teachable.

Proverbs 17:10, “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” More can be accomplished with a wise man through one gentle conversation than can be gained by whacking a fool across the back one hundred times!

The number one characteristic of foolishness id plugged ears. If a person is to be wise he must be teachable, and wisdom is stuff you “do” not stuff you “know”. The biggest fool of all is the person who “knows” everything but “does” very little with that knowledge.

Proverbs 8:11, “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” The poor man may spend his life worrying about the “things” he does not have; while the rich man spends his life worrying about the “things” he does have. “Things” are deceptive. Wisdom is better than wealth; nothing can be compared to it. Don’t be a fool. Get wisdom; get understanding!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Forbear & Forgive One Another

Colossians 3:13 – “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.”

Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Offenses are a reality of life. James stated the obvious when he wrote, “In many things we offend all” (James 3:2). Jesus Christ said as much in Matthew 18:7, “For it must needs be that offences come.” No one is beyond being offended by someone, and none of us is beyond offending someone else!

Types of Offenses

1) Innocent – By this I mean unintentional. Someone has given offense and/or been offended, but the offense was given unintentionally.

2) Imaginary – Some people, quite frankly, just dream up an offense. If you looking for one, you will usually be able to find one, even when it does not really exist!

3) Indirect – This is a “third-party” offense. You have not been personally offended, but you have taken up the offense of your friend.

4) Intended – Some offenses are intentional. Someone purposefully says or does something to offend.

Regardless of how you are offended, the fact is clear that you will be offended. You will be wronged, wounded, and hurt by the actions, attitudes, and/or words of others (and others will be offended by you also). It is inevitable.

How then should a believer respond toward the inevitable? You could try the nurse and rehearse tactic. This is when you hold tight to the offense and will not let it loose. You regularly replay the offensive action or words again and again in your mind. Simply put, this is holding a grudge.

God forbids this tactic. For the believer, holding grudges is not allowed.

  • James 5:9 – “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.”
  • Leviticus 19:18 – “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.”

You may think, as many people do, that the defense against an offense is to be offensive yourself! So, if you get hurt you hurl. As the old saying goes, “I don’t get mad. I get even.” That is not a Biblical viewpoint. In fact, it is a sinful attitude.

  • Romans 12:17, 19 – “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men…Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – “See that none render evil for evil unto any [man]; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all [men].”
  • 1 Peter 3:9 – “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”

The believer must respond to offenses in the following two ways.

Forbearance

  • Colossians 3:13a – “Forbearing one another”

The word simply means “to bear with.” Let’s face it; some people just do not change. For those who will not change their offensive ways, a believer must learn to put up with him/her in love and peace. Such patience is possible only because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Forbearance requires that you put away childish things and behave supernaturally.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:11 – “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The believers must respond to offenses with forbearance and with forgiveness.

Forgiveness

  • Colossians 3:13b – “forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.”
  • Ephesians 4:32 – “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Have you been forgiven? If you are saved then God has, in and through Christ, forgiven you. The same forgiveness that you have experienced must be extended to those who have offended you.

For 2,454 days – from March 16, 1985 until December 4, 1991 – Associated Press Bureau Chief terry Anderson was held captive in West Beirut, Lebanon by Islamic fundamentalists. This husband and father was starved, beaten, taunted, humiliated, threatened with death, falsely promised release, and had nearly seven years of his life stolen from him. In an interview with reporters, following his release, Mr. Anderson was asked, “Can you forgive your captors?”

He replied, “As a Christian, I have no choice.”

Terry Anderson was right. Christ requires Christians to forgive.

Forgiveness is a common theme in God’s Word. There are 75 verses in the Bible on the subject, and one entire book of the New Testament (Philemon) has forgiveness as its theme. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

  • Matthew 6:14-15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

A right relationship with God requires us to forgive others. Jesus indicated that we simply must keep on forgiving! Not just seven times, but seventy times seven, in a single day

  • Matthew 18:22 – “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
  • Luke 17:4 – “And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”

If you refuse to forgive you open up your life to bitterness and torment through which Satan can gain an advantage over you.

  • Hebrews 12:15 – “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled” (cf. Ephesians 4:31).
  • Matthew 18:21-35 – “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” (v. 34)
  • 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 – “To whom ye forgive any thing, I [forgive] also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave [it], for your sakes [forgave I it] in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

For Debbie Morris, forgiveness is more than just a Biblical concept. It is deeply personal. In 1980, at age 16, she was brutally abducted and repeatedly raped by two men. This woman has some deep personal insights into forgiveness which she shared in her book Forgiving the Dead Man Walking. Morris explained that forgiveness is more for the victim than the wrongdoer. In other words, the victim needs to forgive more than the wrongdoer needs forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not telling the wrongdoer that the past is no longer significant; not agreeing to become best buddies with the wrongdoer; not denying that there is still pain and anger with which the wronged must live. Forgiveness means that you will, consciously, no longer regard the wrongdoer as indebted to you; that you are more interested in moving ahead in your life than being controlled by the past; that you will let go any illusions that you can somehow control the wrongdoer’s life.

Using an acrostic for PEACE, Morris suggests five steps in the process of extending forgiveness to those who have deeply wronged and hurt you.

P – Pray for the person. As Luke 6:28 says, “Pray for them which despitefully use you.”

E – Empathize. View your enemy from a different perspective.

A – Act. Do specific good deeds to and for that person (those people). Jesus said in Matthew 5:44a, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”

C – Confess. Be honest enough with yourself to admit any and all responsibility that you may share in the evil.

E – Emulate Christ. What did Jesus do? He forgave! As they were driving nails into His hands and feet He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

So must you! Man is never more like God than when he forgives.

Proverbs 19:11 – “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and [it is] his glory to pass over a transgression.”


Based on the lessons Revolutionize Your Relationships written by D.W. Sparks, pastor of the Dearborn Baptist Church.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wise Up!

“Wise up!” Not a few people have thrown that phrase in my direction, and I am sure that I have not heard it for the last time. The question is how does one “Wise up”? A story is told of a young and newly anointed King who asked God, not for money, land, women, or wealth. Instead, this young King made only one request of God, “Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.” (1 Kings 3:9). That young king was Solomon, the son of David, and God answered his prayer by making him the wisest man to ever live: “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee” (1 Kings 3:12). Solomon’s God-given wisdom has been divinely inspired in the book of Proverbs. For anyone wanting to “wise up”, Proverbs is the place to go. Please take a moment and read Proverbs 4:1-13.

All people should seek to get wisdom. Are you wiser today than you were yesterday? Compared with last year? How does a person get wisdom? Some would say, “Through education. Get wisdom means to get a degree.”

Formal education is great. I wish I had more of it, but that is just one stage in the process of becoming a wise person. Too much of life has been professionalized and institutionalized; making it easy to believe that imparting wisdom is the job of some profession or institution. “Continuing education” has become synonymous with taking college/university courses, but it is a misnomer to believe that continuing education requires tuition and book fees. When Solomon says in Proverbs 4:5, “Get wisdom, get understanding” he does not mean “Go to school, take more courses!”

Not that education is wrong. What is wrong is the idea that wisdom only comes from the classroom. Wisdom...learning...continuing education are all a lifelong process of growth. "Wise up!" is also a command from God: get wisdom; get understanding.


The first characteristic of wisdom is found in Proverbs 9:10. The wisdom that leads to life and ultimate, eternal joy begins with knowing and fearing God. To fear God means to revere Him; to be in awe of God. It means fearing to run away from Him; fearing to seek refuge, joy, hope, purpose, and happiness anywhere but in God. It means keeping before our eyes what a fearful prospect it is to stop trusting and depending on God to meet our needs.

Therefore, in order to get wisdom and to get understanding one must “fear the Lord”, and this leads to the second characteristic of wisdom: humility(Proverbs 11:2). The wise person is characterized by humility. The humble man depends upon God and fears to take credit for what God has done. The proud person does not like to admit errors and his need for growth, but the humble person is open to counsel, will listen to reason, and is ready to take correction and follow truth.

Unlike pride, humility does not recoil when asked, or commanded, to do something. This is important because Moses said that wisdom consists in knowing and doing God’s commands (Deuteronomy 4:5-6). Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 7:24-29, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man.”

Consequently, a good definition for Godly wisdom is: hearing and doing God’s Word. The only people who will hear and do God’s Word are the ones who humbly rely on God for help, fearing to seek joy and fulfillment anywhere but in Him. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is the beginning and spring of all true wisdom.

However, it is not enough to say wisdom is a humble hearing and doing of God’s Word because the Bible does not specifically address every human situation or dilemma. An example from Solomon’s life illustrates this well. 1 Kings 3:16-28 is the record of two harlots who were quarreling over which one was the rightful mother of a baby boy. King Solomon heard their testimony, and their bickering. He called for a sword and then threatened to cut the baby into two equal parts. The true mother was revealed by her desire to spare the child even if she was not able to keep him. The story concludes with this observation: “And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared [stood in awe of] the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment” (verse 28).

Obviously, there was no Biblical command informing Solomon what to do when two harlots claimed the same child! Wisdom must include a sensitive, mature judgment/discernment of how the fear of the Lord should work itself out in all circumstances which are not specifically dealt with in the scriptures. Paul calls this the “renewing of your mind” in Romans 12:2 and “spiritual understanding” in Colossians 1:9.

Of course the wisdom which follows God’s word and the wisdom which discerns the way to act when there is no explicit command from God are not separate. It is precisely by saturating our minds and hearts with God’s word that we gain the spiritual wisdom to guide us in all situations. Such a person will be humbly obedient to the “thou shalts” and he will be filled with Godly wisdom when two harlots show up claiming the same baby!

Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord and consists in humbly hearing and doing God’s will as revealed in Holy Scripture. The person with such wisdom has life, joy, and ultimate and eternal happiness (Proverbs 3:13; 8:32-36; 24:13-14).

Here are five Biblical instructions for how to “wise up”

1. – Desire Wisdom. Proverbs 4:8 - “Exalt” and “embrace” are not cheap words; they are signs of intense desire and love. Wisdom must be valuable to you.

2. – Dig for Wisdom. Proverbs 2:4 and Psalm 19:7 - Since wisdom is found in the Bible, you need to apply yourself to study and meditation on the Bible if you are to hear so that you may do! Be a reader! Your mind will be stretched. Your heart enlarged. Your zeal more fervent and, above all, you will grow in wisdom!

3. – Pray for Wisdom. James 1:5; 1 Kings 3:11; Daniel 2:23; Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 1:17.

4. – Think Often of Your Dying. In other words, live with eternity in view. Moses’ prayer from Psalm 90:12 should be the prayer of all Christians. Think of the shortness of this life and of the infinite length of the next. No other thought will be so helpful in purging worldly perceptions and vain priorities. Death is imminent and eternity is forever!

5. – Come to Jesus! Matthew 12:42 is such an understatement from the lips of the Lord!

Solomon spoke God’s wisdom. Jesus IS God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). I preach the truth, but Christ IS the truth. That is why all true preaching exalts and proclaims Christ! Jesus Christ IS the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen" (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus bought our salvation by his death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, in Him are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

To know and love and follow this Jesus is to own the treasure of ultimate and eternal joy and happiness. Therefore, the command, “Get wisdom” means first and foremost “Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus!” in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Take in God's Word! pt. 2

“That is the way God speaks to us; not by visions and dreams, but by words. When a man gets to God, it is by the most simple way—words.” – Oswald Chambers

According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 the purpose of spiritual discipline is Godliness. The foundational spiritual discipline is the intake of Holy Scriptures. In the previous post on this topic (Click here to read the first post. Both of these posts are adapted from Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines.) we saw three ways by which one may take in God’s Word: hearing, reading, and studying. This post will discuss two more methods – memorization and meditation.

Scripture memorization is not the exclusive domain of children’s ministries, nor is it only for the intellectually gifted. All believers should be hiding God’s Word in their heart. CJ Mahaney says in his excellent book The Cross-Centered Life:

“You might not think you’re good at memorizing Scripture. That’s okay. Don’t give up. Work at it. God isn’t keeping score. Even if it takes you longer than someone else, it’s worth the effort.”

Do you think it’s even possible for you to memorize Scripture? I guarantee you it is possible! Memorization is more a matter of motivation than of mental ability. There is no question about ability. You can memorize Scripture. The question is about desire. Are you willing to discipline yourself to do it? Would your attitude and desire change if you were offered $1000 per verse memorized? Any financial reward would be minimal compared to the value of the treasure of God’s Word deposited within your mind.

The Benefits

Memorization Supplies Spiritual Power

  • Psalm 119:11
  • Colossians 3:2
  • Ephesians 6:17
  • Matthew 4:1-11

When Scripture is stored in the mind it is available for the Holy Spirit to take and bring to your attention when you need it most.

Memorization Strengthens Your Faith

  • Proverbs 22:17-19

Memorizing Scripture strengthens your faith because it repeatedly reinforces the truth, often just when you need to hear it.

Memorization Aids Witnessing and Counseling

  • 1 Peter 3:15
  • Acts 2:14-40
  • Lamentations 3:22-23

Remember, When Scripture is stored in the mind it is available for the Holy Spirit to take and bring to your attention when you need it most, but until the verses are hidden in your heart, they aren’t available to use with your mouth.

Memorization is a Means of God’s Guidance

  • Psalm 119:9; 15-16; 24; 27; 36-37; 50
  • Ephesians 4:29

Just as the Holy Spirit retrieves Scriptural truth from our memory banks for use in witnessing to and counseling others, so also will He bring it to our own minds in providing timely guidance for ourselves. It’s the result of disciplined Scripture memory!

Memorization Stimulates Meditation

  • Psalm 1:1-3; 63:5-6; 119:97; 143:5

A memorized passage may be meditated on anywhere anytime. You can benefit from the spiritual discipline of meditation if you have made the deposits of memorization.

The Methods

  1. Have a plan. One idea is to select passages on a particular topic with which you struggle. The founder of The Navigators was a man named Dawson Trotman. He memorized 1,000 verses during the first three years following his conversion; years in which he drove a truck for an LA lumber-yard. One man told Trotman that he was afraid that following his example of Scripture memory would make him prideful. Trotman replied: “Then make your first ten verses on humility.”
  2. Write out the verses. Nothing aids the memory like writing. Write out the passage(s) on index cards, or type them on the note ap on your iPhone. Write our the verses, however you do it.
  3. Memorize the verses word-perfectly. Don’t settle for getting close, discipline yourself to memorize each word of the passage, including the “address” – the actual Scripture reference. This is the best standard of measurement, and it will boost your confidence in witnessing and counseling when you’re not stammering over the passages.
  4. Be accountable. Have someone to whom you repeat the verses. This person doesn’t have to be memorizing the Scriptures with you, or even a believer for that matter.
  5. Review and meditate every day. This review can take place anywhere anytime. An especially good time for review is right before bed – not a good time for Bible reading, but a good time for memorization review!

The discipline of Scripture memory is not an end of itself. The goal is not to see how many verses we can memorize. The goal is Godliness! The goal is to memorize God’s Word so that it can transform our minds and lives.

Biblical meditation defined: deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer. In Joshua 1:8 we read:

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Understand that spiritual success is measured in faithfulness. Never forget the relationship between meditation on Scripture and success. God’s Word is like a fire—Psalm 39:3; Jeremiah 23:29; Luke 24:32—meditation will fan the flame. The Puritan Thomas Watson said,

“The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”

Christian Meditation

1. Select an appropriate passage and memorize it. We’ll use 1 John 1: 9 as an example:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

2. Repeat it, placing emphasis on different words.

  • If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

You get the idea. Emphasizing different words in the passage helps us to focus – to meditate on – the entire text and to understand it within its context.

3. Rewrite it in your own words.

  • “If Travis confess his sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

4. Pray through the passage. (Psalm 119:18; John 14:26) Meditation is more than just concentration. The Bible was written under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration; pray for illumination in your meditation.

5. Look for applications of the text. So what? That is the question you must answer. Meditation is incomplete without application. If you do not apply the truth the truth will do you no good. (James 1:22-25; John 13:17)

“To grow in your passion for what Jesus has done, increase your understanding of what He has done.” – CJ Mahaney

If you’re looking for some suggestions to get started I recommend memorizing passages of God’s saving work through the Cross. Here is a brief but exhilirating selection.

  • Isaiah 53:3-6
  • Romans 3:23-26
  • Romans 5:6-11
  • Romans 8:32-39
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
  • Galatians 2:20-21

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Make God Glad with Your Love

I like to read Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotional, and last night's was so good I have to share it. Click here to find where you may daily read this devotional for yourself. I hope you will. The devotional for the evening of February 15 is taken from Psalm 45:1-17. At the end of verse 8 we read:
“Whereby they have made thee glad.”
The question is then asked, "Who are those who enjoy the privilege of making the Savior glad?" Of course, the answer is the people of God, specifically Christ's churches.

What a joyous thought! How glorious is this, that we may make our Lord and King glad?! He has made us glad, and we may make Him glad with our love. Spurgeon quotes Song of Solomon 4:10a, “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine!”

With this majestic thought in mind the Prince of Preachers wrote:
See, loving heart, how he delights in you. When you lean your head on His bosom, you not only receive, but you give Him joy; when you gaze with love upon His all-glorious face, you not only obtain comfort, but impart delight. Our praise, too, gives Him joy—not the song of the lips alone, but the melody of the heart’s deep gratitude. Our gifts, too, are very pleasant to Him; He loves to see us lay our time, our talents, our substance upon the altar, not for the value of what we give, but for the sake of the motive from which the gift springs. To Him the lowly offerings of His saints are more acceptable than the thousands of gold and silver.

Holiness is like frankincense and myrrh to Him. Forgive your enemy, and you make Christ glad; distribute of your substance to the poor, and He rejoices; proclaim His Gospel, and you are a sweet savor unto Him; go among the ignorant and lift up the Cross, and you have given Him honor. It is in your power even now to break the alabaster box and pour the precious oil of joy upon His head, like the woman in the Bible, whose testimony is still remembered wherever the Gospel is preached.

I had to share that. Now I pray that I'll do that!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Biblical Love

What does it mean to love? No matter what your opinion of Valentine’s Day is, this time of year, in most of the world, love is either in the air or on the minds of many. It’s definitely all over the floral shops and department stores as retailers hope to rake in a huge profit from this so-called “holiday of love.” Except for retailers in Saudi Arabia, however, where the “muttawa” or religious police (that doesn’t sound good to me) have threatened to punish all businesses which do not comply with their “no Valentine’s Day” fatwa.

Red-colored or heart-shaped items are legal at other times of the year, but as Feb. 14 nears they become contraband in Saudi Arabia.

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day, but that news almost makes me change my mind.

Before I have all the ladies angry with me , let me say that there is nothing wrong with flowers, candies, and cards for your loved one on February 14th (or any other time for that matter). It is even fun, but on this day when nearly the entire world is “love” saturated, let’s take a moment to ask ourselves what real love is and how it behaves .

Because there is a difference between real love and phony love. Phony love is cheap, and by that I mean it doesn’t last. People may spend a fortune on phony love, so it is costly, but it doesn’t endure. That kind of love makes me think of Joe. He was an older man, well-to-do, a widower, and hard of hearing. He was often seen walking the streets in his small-town, but since the loss of his wife he always seemed a little down. Until the day his doctor saw Joe walking down Main St. with a gorgeous young woman on his arm. They briefly stopped to talk, and the doctor was amazed to see Joe in such good spirits. He said, “Joe, you look better than I’ve seen you in sometime.”

“Well, doc, I just took your advice” answered Joe. “You told me to get a hot mamma and be joyful. So that’s what I did!”

The doctor just shook his head. “Joe, I said you have a heart murmur. Be careful!”

Sometimes we only hear what we want to hear. That is often true when it comes to the matter of love. I believe we must have a good answer for the question, “What does it mean to love?” Of course, with this question, or any other, I think the place to turn is to the Bible. There we will find our answer in one of the most famous passages on love in all the NT – 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.

The first three verses are striking to me insofar that Paul clearly states that regardless of how gifted, knowledgeable, faithful, and charitable I am, if I’m not loving I gain nothing. Quite an introduction, but the revolutionary nature of his statement does not stop with the end of verse 3. Beginning in verse 4 the apostle defines what love is and is not; how it behaves and does not behave. Charity, which is not donating to a charity but “agape,” an “others’ first” kind of love. You see, love is not an abstract idea; not some vague feeling that comes and goes. Love is action! Love is Jesus Christ being made flesh, born in a manger, raised by poor Galileans, and, ultimately, nailed to the Cross in my place; the sacrificial substitute making atonement for all who believe. That is love! It is so much more than a second-hand emotion. Love is action. But how does it act in us?

For starters, it is long-suffering and kind, or to condense that into one word—loving-kindness. Paul couples patience—longsuffering– with kindness. These two belong together. It is one thing to suffer injury or the hostility of others for a long time, while simultaneously being bitter or even plotting your revenge, but Biblical long-suffering includes the virtue of kindness in response to the cause of that suffering. What is love? It is genuinely responding and behaving and thinking and speaking with Biblical kindness. And kind people are not rude. They are not severe or mean. A kind person has a generous heart; is sensitive to, concerned with, and considerate of others.

We should not think that kindness equals weakness. Generosity is not synonymous with foolishness. A gentle person is not a pushover. I say that because our culture does not exalt kind, generous, and gentle behavior; it wants to receive all that rather than give it. We must be on guard against that mindset seeping into our churches and homes.

How do you combine strength with kindness; power with gentleness? God does it! Only through His Spirit may we bear this fruit of loving-kindness. Think about it. The more powerful and strong person is able to demonstrate kindness not through retaliation but because he does not retaliate with meanness, harshness, or rudeness. Their power and strength is demonstrated in their kind manner.

Without exception, everyone wants to be treated with kindness. The problem is that many of us are not adept at displaying kindness. Oftentimes Christians can be as harsh, rude, or just plain mean with their attitudes, actions, words, and tone. But love is not unkind. We will be kind when we are longsuffering, suffering long with some offense, hurt, or rudeness pointed our direction. Love is not mean.

Sometimes (as a preacher I especially face this) I’ll be approached by someone who will say to me, “I want to tell you something in love.” However, what is said and the way it is said is unkindly communicated. Biblically speaking, that is not love! Love is kind. Always. We often hear statements like the above, or use them ourselves, to fool the listener, or ourselves, into thinking that we are bludgeoning them with love. You should not forget this: if it is unkind it is not love.

This in no way means we cannot communicate hard things. There is such a thing as an honest disagreement. Constructive criticism is not a myth, but those things that are said in love are said kindly or they are not said in love. Kindness is the opposite of meanness, and the last thing that Christians should be is mean.

Obviously, to take a Biblical stand on many issues, especially moral issues, will lead some to call you unkind. That is alright, “let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Ro. 3:4a) There is only one truth and that is God’s truth and we must not equivocate. Stand on and for the truth, but do so with longsuffering and kindness. Don’t imitate the conservative talking heads. Imitate Christ. Be a living illustration of what it means for love to suffer long and be kind; for love to not be envious, proud, arrogant, or rude; irritable and resentful. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing; even if it is done to wrongdoers. Biblical love rejoices with the truth. Biblical love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Biblical love never ends.

Our culture, communities, schools, families, and churches desperately need this kind of love. God has demonstrated this love through Christ on the cross. We may love like this through the empowering of His Spirit. Love is not just an emotion. It much more than a feeling. Love is not abstract. Love is action. Specifically long-suffering and kind.

One last thing; to stand for the Gospel will lead many to say that you are unloving; it will cause many to cry “foul” and seek your destruction. To stand for the Gospel in love will also be used of the Holy Spirit to cause some to cry out to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith! To be a Biblical Christian is not to be accommodating to sin in our own lives or in the lives of others. That is being hateful. Being a Biblical Christian is to consistently be kind, patient, and gracious as you say and live Biblical truth. It’s to truth God and His Word, and to demonstrate that trust by the joy with which you live.

This is love. It is possible only because of God’s grace. That is no surprise, because God is love and we love Him because He first loved us.

Friday, February 12, 2010

C U KY

Did a UK grad manufacture that jersey?


I loved this story from Yahoo! Sports. Someone at Nike made a serious mistake, and UK guard John Wall (#11) was wearing it. It would have really been funny if no one had caught the mistake before the photo shoot was finished. I’m just wondering if any UK fan would have noticed?!

Seriously though, the funniest aspect of this spelling error is the “CUKY” worn by Wall, who after this season will most likely say to Wildcat nation “See you, Kentucky!” It text speak I guess that would be “C U KY”.

UK won’t miss him, however, because Calipari will just recruit another one and done specialist, most likely under less than legal circumstances. That seems to be Smilin’ John’s modus operandi of late. I wonder if somewhere down the line UK will be forced to vacate any of this year’s wins?

Global What?!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Take in God's Word!

1 Timothy 4:7-8 reminds us that the purpose of spiritual discipline is Godliness. The foundational spiritual discipline is the daily intake of God’s Holy Word.

“The alternative to discipline is disaster.” – Vance Havner

No spiritual discipline is more important, more basic and more broad than the intake of God’s Word. (John17:17)

The Bible tells us about…

God:

  • His character
  • His nature
  • His law
  • His love

Yourself:

  • Why you sin
  • How you may be saved.

Life:

  • How to live in a way that glorifies God and satisfies yourself.

“God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him!” – John Piper

Therefore, if you are to know God, if you are to be Godly, you must learn and live the word of God! The easiest way to intake God’s Word is to hear it.

Hearing the Bible

  • Luke 11:28“Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”

The purpose is obedience and Christlikeness (which is godliness), but the method encouraged by Jesus is hearing His Word.

  • Romans 10:17“faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Initial faith in Christ comes from hearing the inspired Word about Jesus Christ, and much of the faith that believers need for day – to – day living comes from hearing the Bible’s message. Gifts of faith are often given to those who discipline themselves to hear the Word of God. There are many ways to hear God’s Word: radio programs, TV programs, podcasts, or CDs (Remember those?). But the best way for you to hear God’s Word is by faithfully attending a local, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church, and participating in that church as a member.

  • 1 Timothy 4:13“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

It was then, and is now, important for God’s people to hear God’s Word. The ongoing worship of God cannot be separated from God’s Word. We are to discipline ourselves to hear and obey the Word of God. Please note: hearing the Word of God is not merely passive listening, it is a discipline to be cultivated.

Reading the Bible

A second way in which to intake God Word is to read it. Jesus assumed that those who claimed to be the people of God would read the Word of God! Just as the following passages indicate.

  • Matthew 4:4
  • 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Revelation 1:3

Three practical suggestions for successful daily Bible reading.

(1) Find the time. This is primarily a matter of discipline and motivation.

(2) Find a Bible reading plan. A good plan will include variety. By that I mean daily reading from different sections of the Bible. Many who want to read through the Bible become confused in Leviticus, discouraged in Numbers, and quit by Deuteronomy. It is easier to maintain momentum—and build it up—by reading in more than one place each day.

(3) Meditate on at least one word, phrase, or verse of what you read. This aids application. The more you apply the truth of Scripture, the more you will become like Jesus Christ.

Studying the Bible

A third way to take in God’s Word is by studying it.

“Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” – Jerry Bridges

Some Biblical examples:

  • Ezra 7:10
  • John 17:17
  • Acts 17:11
  • 2 Timothy 2:15; 4:13

There are two general reasons why we do not study God’s Word:

  1. Laziness
  2. Insecurity

Many of us are too lazy to put in the effort of studying our Bibles. There are also many of us who are intimidated by the prospect. Let us be neither. The basic difference between Bible reading and Bible study is simply a pencil and a piece of paper.

“We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because its dull and boring, but because its work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or…passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” – R.C. Sproul

Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. If your Godliness was measured by the quality of your Bible intake habits, what would be the result?
  2. What is one thing you can do to improve your intake of God’s Word?

Admit to God that there has been a lack of this spiritual discipline in your life. Ask the Lord to give you the desire and the direction necessary to motivate you to the daily intake of God’s Word – hearing, reading, and studying.

Godliness is the goal of spiritual discipline. Remember this, and the disciplines will become a delight instead of a drudgery!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Love One Another

Life is filled with a variety of relationships. From the moment you are born until the day you die, you are constantly involved in relationships with other people. There are…

  • Family relationships – Regardless of our age we have family relationships. We either are parents or have parents or both. Aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and in-laws; these are all family relationships.
  • Professional relationships – Your doctor, dentist, pharmacist, lawyer, accountant, and realtor, mechanic, and delivery man fall into this category. There are certainly more options, but you get the idea!
  • Occupational relationships – Your boss, supervisor, co-worker, employer and employee, customers, and clients are in this group.
  • Neighborhood relationships – Down and across the hall, in the next building, around the corner, at the supermarket, gas station, auto parts store, department store, all of these are examples of neighborhood relationships.

We all have friends. No man is an island. (No woman either!) We cannot escape from nor totally eliminate relationships. For sure, not all of them are of equal importance, but to some degree, we are all involved in relationships with other people. Life on earth is largely about relationships.

Our relationships with other people either bring us pain or pleasure. They can make us better or they will make us bitter. They can bless us or bother us. The way we relate to other people can make us happy or sad or make us frustrated or excited. The potential of any number of emotions is right there in our relationships.

The most significant part of your life is often controlled by your relationship with those people with whom you are most connected. Think about it: a problem in just one relationship with one person can spoil every part of your life, ruin your mood, consume your mind, and control your emotions. Much of our lives are centered on our relationships, and that never changes, regardless of our age. This is because people were created for relationships – first with God and then with others. Relationships offer us the most intense pleasures in life and, at times, threaten us with the possibility of the most intense pain in life. The worst pain in life is not a broken body part; it is a broken heart. When we are rejected, betrayed, criticized, falsely accused, misunderstood, overlooked, ignored, unloved, underappreciated, distrusted, troubled and hated we feel the deepest hurt possible.

Relationship problems send people to the bookstore for “self-help” books, or to the counselor’s couch, or to the drug store for nerve pills. Relationship problems lead many people to search for relief in the bottom of a bottle, or to contemplate the unthinkable: suicide.

All of us genuinely need help in our relationships. I’ve got some good news! The Bible has the answers. God’s Word on relationships is “one another.” We would revolutionize our relationships if we would obey the “one anothers” of the Bible. There are 31 of them!

Love one another Be at peace with one another Wash one another’s feet
Edify one another Prefer one another Have the same mind toward one another
Judge not one another Receive one another Admonish one another
Greet one another Bear one another’s burdens Serve one another
Tarry one for another Be likeminded one with another Forbear one another
Forgive one another Be hospitable to one another Submit to one another
Confess to one another Pray for one another Care for one another
Esteem one another Don’t lie to one another Comfort one another
Consider one another Provoke one another Speak no evil of one another
Grudge not one another Fellowship with one another Teach one another
Restore one another

Love One Another

Luke 10:25-37:

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain [man] went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded [him], and departed, leaving [him] half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked [on him], and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion [on him], And went to [him], and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave [them] to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

According to Jesus, the greatest commandments are to love God with your whole being, and to love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. The two relationships Jesus described in the greatest commandment cannot be separated. May people are misled into believing they can be in fellowship with God when they are not getting along with each other. That is a lie; it is impossible to love God if you hate your brother. 1 John 4:20:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

The first and most obvious “one another” for us to consider is the statement to “love one another.” Looking at the Scriptures it is clear that we should love one another because of, at least, four reasons.

Because of God’s Commandment

  • John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
  • John 15:12 – “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
  • 1 John 3:23 – “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

Can love be commanded? Can a young man command a young lady to love him?! No! How then can God command us to love one another? The answer is that Christian love is not an emotional feeling that we “fall” into without trying. It is a matter of the will. One must decide to love others. That means we must decide to treat others as God treats us. God forgives us, so we must forgive others. God is kind to us, so we must be kind to others. Christ receives us, so we must receive others. In spite of personality clashes, different interests, and hurtful actions, you are commanded to love one another.

Because of God’s Law

  • Romans 13:8 – “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”

The Old Testament Jew had many laws and regulations to keep; everything from his land to his food, from his clothing to his worship. What does Paul mean when he writes “he that loveth one another hath fulfilled the law”? Paul is not saying that obeying one commandment takes care of all the other regulations. The moral law still stands. It is still sin to lie or steal or murder.

What Paul is saying is that love fulfills the law, because if I love you I won’t murder you, steal from you, lie to you, commit adultery with you, or covet what is yours. It means that we do not obey God’s moral law from external fear but from internal love; not by compulsion on the outside but by compassion on the inside. Love does not replace morality; it reinforces morality.

Because of God’s Example

  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all [men], even as we [do] toward you:”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:9 – “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”

The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8), and He teaches us by His own example to love another. God the Father loved us and gave us His only Son. God the Son loved us and gave Himself for us. God the Spirit lives within us and teaches us to love.

  • John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
  • Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • 1 John 4:11-12 – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
  • Romans 5:5 – “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Too often the world sees Christians and says, “Look how they fight! Look how they criticize and disagree!” What they should be saying is, “Look how they love one another!”

Because of God’s Nature

  • 1 John 4:7-8 – “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

When we are saved, we receive the nature of God. We are “born again.” The old nature does not treat others as God treats them. The old nature is full of revenge and hatred, but the new nature treats others as God would. Peter describes it this way:

  • 1 Peter 1:22-23 – “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

It is an “unfeigned” love. This means it is sincere, genuine, ad not at all phony. It is love with a “pure heart”, meaning there is no mixture of sin. This love is “fervent”, meaning energetic, giving fully to it.

  • 1 John 3:11 – “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
  • 2 John 5 – “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.”

From beginning to end, God wants us to love one another. Revolutionizing your relationships begins with love.

1 John 4:7 – “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Law, Liberty & Self-Discipline

In Paul’s day one ongoing battle within the churches was law over liberty (Galatians 5:13-18). Five key words that unlock Galatians 5:13-18.

  1. Liberty – v. 13
  2. Love – vv. 13-14
  3. Law – vv. 14, 18
  4. Lust – vv. 16-17
  5. Led – v. 18

Law

Law is an attempt to externally control the flesh.

What is the strength of the law?

  • It identifies right and wrong.
  • It punishes lawbreakers.

What is the weakness of the law?

  • It cannot change the heart.
  • It can only partially control the flesh.
  • It cannot make a person spiritual.

Liberty

The world (and many raised in “church-world”) thinks that Christianity is synonymous with slavery. Not true! The call of the Gospel is a call to freedom! Salvation is a summons to liberty. The following Scriptures tell us that believers have liberty in Christ.

What are the dangers of liberty?

  1. Liberty can be turned into license.
  2. Liberty can bring out your worst.
  3. Liberty can be lost.
  • Galatians 5:13b, “… only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
  • 1 Peter 2:16, “As free, and not using [your] liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”
  • 1 Corinthians 8:9, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”

Self-Discipline

Liberty must be tempered with self-discipline. Liberty is guided by your love, and directed under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Liberty reveals how strong or how weak are your:

  • Convictions
  • Conscience
  • Commitment

The spiritual disciplines place us in the path of the Holy Spirit and deepen our love for God. Discipline is the price of freedom, and freedom is the reward of discipline.

Donald Whitney (this series of posts is derived from his book Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life) writes:

“Discipline without direction is drudgery. But the Spiritual disciplines are never drudgery as long as we practice them with the goal of Godliness in mind. If your picture of a disciplined Christian is one of a grim, tight-lipped, joyless, half-robot, then you’ve missed the point. Jesus was the most disciplined Man who ever lived and yet the most joyful and passionately alive. He is our Example of discipline. Let us follow Him to joy through the spiritual disciplines.”

Identify your tendency…

  1. Do you tend toward legalism?
  2. Do you tend toward license?

Recognize that self-discipline will provide you with the proper balance. Ask God to help you achieve that balance.

Godliness is the goal of spiritual discipline. Remember this, and the disciplines will become a delight instead of a drudgery!

Monday, February 1, 2010

6 Important Questions (and Answers)

1. Why did Jesus have to die?

  • Romans 3:25“Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God”
  • Galatians 3:13“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree”
  • 1 John 4:10 – “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.”

If God were not just, there would be no demand for His Son to suffer and die. If God were not loving, there would be no willingness for His Son to suffer and die. But God is just AND loving. Therefore His love is willing to meet the demands of His justice. “Propitiation” refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute. Jesus Christ is the substitute

2. How can God love me?

  • Ephesians 1:7 – “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace”
  • John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
  • Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The measure of God’s love is shown by the degree of His sacrifice and by our unworthiness. There is only one explanation for God’s sacrifice for us, and it is not us. It is “the riches of his grace.” It is all free; not a response to our worth, but an overflow of His infinite worth!

3. What if I don’t love God?

  • John 3:36 – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
  • Matthew 25:46 – “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:9 – “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power”

Every human heart desires to live and be happy because God made us this way (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are made to live forever, and we will. Everyone will live somewhere forever; eternal life in glory or in hell. For those who trust Christ, the best is yet to come! The opposite is true for those who reject Jesus Christ. All one has to do to reject Christ is to do nothing.

4. What does all this mean for you?

  • 1 John 5:13 – “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
  • John 5:24 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
  • Acts 3:19 – “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
  1. God created you for His glory. Isaiah 43:6-7
  2. Every human should live for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31
  3. All have failed to glorify God as we should. Romans 3:23
  4. All are subject to God’s just condemnation. Romans 6:23
  5. God sent Jesus to provide eternal life and joy. 1 Timothy 1:15
  6. His death purchased benefits for those who repent and trust Him. Acts 16:31

5. What should you do?

  • Mark 10:17 – “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
  • Acts 16:29-30 – “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
  1. By God’s grace, call upon Jesus to save you.
  2. By God’s grace, turn from the deceitful promises of sin.
  3. Break the power of sin’s promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of God’s promises.
  4. Begin reading the Bible to find His “exceeding great and precious promises” which can, and will, set you free.
  5. Be involved in a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church; worship and grow together with other people who treasure Christ above all things .

6. Did you know that God wants and commands you to be joyful?!

  • Psalm 100:2 – “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”
  • Psalm 37:4 – “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”