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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

bible

Real change, and real growth in godliness, takes place as we read and respond to God’s Word. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Paul told the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God , what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

Scripture is absolutely vital to spiritual growth and change. Therefore, you’d think reading and obeying Scripture would be a regular part of our Christian life, right? Apparently not.

Lifeway conducted a survey regarding the Bible-reading habits (outside of church) of Protestant church-goers in the United States. Here’s what they found:

  • 19% read the Bible every day
  • 26% read the Bible a few times a week
  • 14% read the Bible once a week
  • 22% read the Bible at least once a month
  • 18% rarely or never read the Bible

How can we change, grow, and be conformed into the image of Christ if so little time is spent in God’s Word? We shouldn’t. Maybe it’s the reason we don’t see as much change as we’d like. God uses His Word to transform us, but we have to read it – He won’t do it for us.

One factor in the lack of Bible intake may be social media and television. Another survey came to these conclusions:

  • Adults (19 and above) spend 2 hours per day on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  • Those under 18 and under spend up to 9 hours per day on social media. (8-to-10 year olds spend 5.5 hours, 11-to-14 spend 8 hours, and 15-to-18 year olds spend 9 hours per day).
  • Adults watch 5 hours of television per day on average.
  • Teenagers and below watch anywhere from 3 to 7 hours of television per day on average.

How are we investing our time? To grow in sanctification, and to really change, redeeming the time (Eph. 5:15) is critical.

(Stuart Scott, author of From Pride to Humility and The Exemplary Husband spoke at church last Sunday and mentioned this in his sermon, which was excellent, by the way.)

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Psalm 130 is one of the songs the people of Israel would sing as they went up to Jerusalem to worship God in the three required festivals. Verses 3 and 4 say, If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You,
that You may be feared.”

When I read these two verses, I see…

God is absolutely holy. The Lord does indeed mark iniquities – He keeps an account of our sins. He is the only One who can both judge and remain standing. Why? He has no iniquities to mark. His holiness is absolute and perfect.

I am sinful. I know my sin and my sinfulness, saying with the apostle Paul that I am the chief of sinners. In the face of His absolute holiness, I know I cannot remain standing – only He can. No one will be able to survive the penetrating gaze of God’s perfect knowledge and judgment.

God forgives. By His sheer mercy and grace, God sovereignly chooses to forgive. He’s under no obligation to do so, but as the psalmist says, “there is forgiveness with You.” The foundation of God’s forgiveness, and what makes it possible, is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. He stood in our place and was judged for our sins and iniquities on the cross. Through faith in Christ alone, I know that my sins are forgiven.

God is to be feared. I know that the Lord’s forgiveness of my sins – which I do not deserve – should drive me to deeper reverence, greater awe, and a more holy dread of God. This is the holy One who lives in unapproachable light and who is more pure than I will ever comprehend, yet on the basis of Christ’s work on my behalf, forgives all of my iniquity! This is the One who is to be loved and feared!

That’s a beautiful song to sing.

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wisdom

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)

Wisdom can be defined as “knowing the best goal and the most effective way to achieve that goal” (hat tip to J.I. Packer). God is wise – the embodiment of wisdom. In fact, His wisdom is perfect, holy, and righteous. He knows which goals are best as well as the most effective ways to achieve them. We can absolutely count on that.

I’m convinced that we will fully appreciate the wisdom of God only when we are in His presence. Then, and only then, will we understand what God has done and why He has done it. Thankfully, we will see that everything God has done was wise – He knew the best goals for us and He knew the most effective ways to bring them about. We’ll say, with all praise to God, “Lord, You did what was best for me (even though I didn’t like it at the time and wanted You to take it away), and the way You did it was the most effective possible – it couldn’t have happened any other way! You knew exactly what You were doing, Lord!”

May we pray for wisdom from the God who is wisdom!

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 95. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Our worship should be joyful, thankful, centered on God, which results in a softened heart that believes and obeys God.

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This morning, I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 88. The following is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: God understands our discouragement – if you have any doubt, simply look to the sufferings of Christ on behalf of His people.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga and four other men preach a sermon called “Wisdom from the Aged.” Here is a summary of their sermon in one sentence: A commitment to God’s Word, His mercy and grace, discipline, and being a blessing will help you live for the Lord wherever He has placed you.

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table-in-the-wilderness

Then they spoke against God; they said, “Can God prepare a table the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:19).

Psalm 78, written by Asaph, is a record of Israel’s continued sin and God’s continued forgiveness and faithfulness. These were the generations that were delivered from Egypt,  spent forty years wandering in the wilderness, and were taken into the promised land. Each had seen God do miraculous things, but they continued to sin and disobey God, who in turn disciplined them.

At a certain point, in their sin, the Israelites asked if God could prepare a table in the wilderness. Let’s think about that. The God who created the universe out of nothing…created human beings out of the dust of the earth…made a nation with as many people as sand on the seashore through a very old man and a woman who was beyond her childbearing years…spoke through a burning bush…sent ten plagues on the nation of Egypt…split the Red Sea so that His people escaped and the Egyptian army drowned…provided manna to eat…provided water from a rock to drink…provided His people with meat to eat…led them with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day…provided for His people so that their shoes and clothes didn’t wear out…and drove out the enemies of Israel from the promised land. “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” Yes, I think He can!

Fast-forward about four thousand years and ask the same question: “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” Can He take my heart, which is a wilderness, and prepare a table there? Yes, because it’s exactly what He did in 1980 when He removed my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. He’s given me a new heart but not a perfect one, therefore He continues to work. Can God forgive sin that seems unforgivable…give love when there is only hatred…give hope when things seem hopeless…give overwhelming comfort in the midst of great pain…provide for your every need…sustain you at all times…give patience when it’s extremely hard…open spiritually and physically blind eyes…open spiritually and physically deaf ears…reform your, and your church’s, thinking according to God’s Word…revive your, and your church’s, love and zeal for the Him…save someone you’ve prayed for as long as you can remember…give courage and boldness just when you need it…give strength to the weary…and give you joy instead of mourning? Yes, I think He can! Not only that, but He’s also faithful to forgive us when we don’t believe He can.

 

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