Wednesday, January 28, 2009

From Charles Spurgeon:
The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive heat. What God's words are, the words of his children should be. If we would be Godlike in conversation, we must watch our language, and maintain the strictest purity of integrity and holiness in all our communication.

I'm preaching Psalm 12 tonight and this brought a great smile to my face from the prince of preachers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I take great comfort in the words of Rabbi Ishmael:

"My son, be careful, because your work is the work of heaven; should you omit (even) one letter or add (even) one letter, the whole world would be destroyed" (b. Sot. 20a).

Our Hebrew Bibles were copied with such care and precision that we can trust their reliability and the reality that they are virtually identical with the autographa (original manuscripts).
This week has been a preaching marathon for me and I've thoroughly enjoyed the hours I've spent with the Lord in His Word preparing these messages. Though I'm technically a full-time seminary student, I haven't devoted much time to my studies this week (which means double for this week!) but that's OK. Here's how my preaching schedule went last week:

Tuesday - I did OT Survey with the youth group (Yep, all of it in 1 hour!)
Wednesday - Psalm 11 at our Mid-Week Service
Friday - Isaiah 45 at WVCA Chapel
Saturday - History, Geography, Topography, and Climatology of Israel
Sunday AM - Acts 10-11 in CCC Morning Service
Sunday PM - Revelation 10 at the Rehabilitation center service.

Last night, as I preached from Revelation 10 to the guys at the Rehab. center, I concluded with vv.8-11 when the angel gives the Apostle John a book and tells him to "Take it and eat it..." I camped out on this for awhile. It proved to be one of those moments where I felt I was being confronted with God's Word from my own sermon in a powerful way.

Think about it. We are to take God's Word and eat it, digest it, consume it, and love it. This simply means that we are to take God's Word and internalize it--all of it! Listen to parallel verses throughout Scripture:

Ezekiel 3:1-4 Then He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." 2 So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3 And He said to me, "Son of man, feed your stomach, and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you." Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. 4 Then He said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.

Matthew 4:4 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"

Jeremiah 15:16 16 Thy words were found and I ate them, And Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts

John 4:32-34 32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." 33 The disciples therefore were saying to one another, "No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.

Let me ask you as I asked the guys last night at the Rehab center, do you feast on God's Word--Regularly? If Jesus, the God-Man, found his food and sustenance to "do the will of the Father" then how much more ought we to immerse ourselves and eat the Word?

In summary, David similarly writes:

Psalm 19:10 10 They [The Word of God] are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God knows what we need when we need it and God always provides what is best for us in His perfect time to bring Himself the greatest glory. (That's a mouthful.) At any rate, this morning, I received one of those emails from an individual in our church. The email expressed a sincere gratitude for Elizabeth and I and our service at the church.

Not that Elizabeth and I are anything special (and believe me, we're definitely not!), but the email was very timely, needed, and rejuvenating. It is amazing what a little note will do to your pastor. This is God's Word fleshed out:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

So, all this to say that (1) God is good; (2) I am encouraged, refreshed, and rejuvenated; (3) I exhort you to take some time today--or this week--to write a letter to your pastor(s) and express your gratitude for them, their faithfulness, their Christlikeness, and their pursuing holiness (as we all are!).

Praise God for His strength given to us in our times of weakness.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We're well under way in finalizing plans for our trip to the Holy Land in just a few weeks. If you're interested in keeping tabs with us while we're there, you can download and/or print this calendar which tells you where we'll be on what days. We also had a brief Old Testament history and theology crash course last week at church for our Israel travelers. Feel free to listen to the lecture here.

Also, if you're interested, we're already considering another trip in December of this year. We'd leave on Christmas Day and return near the end of the first week of January. The reason for going this time of year is for those who are in school and those who teach, for the trip would fall in their Christmas vacation period.

Email or call me with any questions.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In a conversation I had this week, the issue of the Christian's relationship to and love for the world surfaced again in my mind. I am convinced the Scriptures are clear in that the Christian life is not one of dichotomy or separationism for all life is to be devoted to Christ as "service of worship" (Rom 12:1-2). Nevertheless, the Bible abounds with references to abstain from the world and its manifold lusts:

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 1 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

John 15:19 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

What I find in these verses is a command from God written through His messengers for believers to abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. That is to say, a Christian cannot live both a life longing for, indulging in, or finding satisfaction in the world and what it has to offer. This is the epitome of a person who is worldly-minded and focused on earthly things rather than heavenly things (cp. Col 3:1ff). I am not one who promotes a sort of 'asceticism' from the world, but I do believe that we must be careful how we talk, how we live, how we think, and how we interact with the world.

Life is not about being "cool." It's not about being united with the "cool crowd." Rather, all of life is to be worshipping Jesus Christ and satisfied in Him and Him alone (1 Cor 10:31; Eph 5:18-20). May we be Christians who filter everything that confronts us in this world with what God has to say in and through His inspired, inerrant, and sufficient Word. May we exemplify the command to:

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

This is not to fulfill a sort-of legalistic rule, but it is to abstain from that which defiles the mind, heart, and body. Let us be wholly devoted to Christ this day and every day of our lives. That which you see, hear, think, and do ought to be mined through the Word of God. God help us.

Monday, January 12, 2009

This weekend was a much needed rest for me and Elizabeth. We traveled up to the mountains with her family and ate, played games, read Scripture, sledded, and skied down mountains I had no business being on (ha!).

Psalm 148:8-13 8 Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; 9 Mountains and all hills; Fruit trees and all cedars; 10 Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and winged fowl; 11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; 12 Both young men and virgins; Old men and children. 13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.

This is my view from the top of one of the mountains.

This is what my brother-in-law, David, and I did:

And this is a sign we saw as we approached the lift taking us up to the top of this steep slope. There was another sign which read: "Caution, NO easy way down!" (yikes!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Agape, the Christian word used most often in the NT, means unconquerable benevolence. It means that no matter what a man may do to us by way of insult or injury or humiliation we will never seek anything else but his highest good. It is therefore a feeling of the mind as much as of the heart; it concerns the will as much as the emotions. It describes the deliberate effort—which we can make only with the help of God—never to seek anything but the best even for those who seek the worst for us.

(Barclay, The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians. 2000).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Let us this day consider how we can be consecrated to Christ. This Lord's day--for it is, indeed, day--remember that He saved us not because of deeds we have accomplished in the flesh, but rather because of His free salvation freely given to us through Jesus Christ. As you sing, as you pray, as you hear God's Word read and proclaimed from the pulpit, and as you apply and implement what you hear to your own life to grow in Christian virtue, may you marvel at the grace of God. May the "name" of the LORD be your strong tower today.

May you consider who God is today. May He bring Scripture after Scripture to your mind as you fellowship, sing, pray, read, and listen. May you be saturated with God's Word today. May you pray in the Spirit and pray heartfelt and sincere prayers. May your listening to the sermon not be mere rote, but may it be a worshipful and joyful experience as God speaks to you through His messenger.

Let us consider, today, how we can be consecrated to Jesus Christ--not only because it's the first Sunday of 2009 but because every single day of our lives ought to be consecrated to the One who reconciled us with the Father (2 Cor 5:20). Be consecrated to Christ today!
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