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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

another superhero

How can we recognize pride in our lives? Dustin Benge gives us six signs:

~ You want to be well known or important (James 3:13-16).

~ You want to impress people (Luke 10:28-32).

~ You draw attention to yourself (Prov. 27:2).

~ You think you know it all (1 Cor. 8:1).

~ You desire recognition and praise (John 5:41-44).

~ You think you’re self-sufficient (Matt. 4:4).

Remember, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

 

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john-calvin-44

John Calvin wrote:

Men will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey Him with sufficient zeal, until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy.

Remember that as we gather together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to worship the Triune God.

 

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I enjoy hearing how other people read the Bible and study it. What do they do? How do they go about it? Greg Koukl, president and founder of Stand to Reason, gives three tips for Bible reading.

Prayer is hard. I’ve already told you this. Bible reading, on the other hand, is easier—at least for me—but that doesn’t mean it’s simple. This critical source of nourishment also needs a plan, along with a personal pledge to fulfill it. As with many things, a good plan abets the pledge. It helps me be consistent and effective. Here’s mine.

I face three challenges in being steady in the Word with reading, study, and reflection: first, what to read (which Bible); second, where to read (which passages); third, how to read (what method helps me best understand what God’s Word teaches).

First, which Bible? There are three options: 1) a word-for-word, literal approach like the NASB or ESV; a thought-for-thought translation (“dynamic equivalent”) like the NIV; or a “free” translation or paraphrase like the Living Bible.

Here’s my advice. As a rule, select a solid translation and use the same translation the rest of your life. That one step will help you remember verses—often word for word—even if you’re not actively trying to memorize them. As the years pass, the same specific words read over and over will slowly settle into your soul.

For most of my Bible reading I use a real, straightforward, word-for-word literal translation—in my case, the NASB. I cut my spiritual eyeteeth on it, and I’m not changing. No need to, either. My version has cross-reference notes in the margins. And I use them. They help me get a sense of the connectedness of Scripture. I also have other translations handy for comparison—easy to get on the cheap at thrift stores.

Now, where to read. I have recently recommitted myself to an old wisdom, a kind of first principle of spiritual growth: If I’m going to be a serious disciple, I need to read the entire Bible. All of it. Every word. Regularly. So I’ve renewed my goal of reading the Bible through in a year.

Truthfully, I’ve never actually finished in 12 months. Sometimes it takes me two years or even a bit more, but the Bible-in-a-year objective keeps me disciplined, organized, and moving steadily forward. When I finish, I’ll start again.

I need the whole counsel of God—and so do you—and the only way to get it is to read it all. There’s no way around it. There are different ways to do this, though. Don’t start in Genesis and try to plow your way through the Pentateuch by March. You won’t make it. If you Google “Bible in a year plans,” you’ll find manageable options. Right now I’m using the “Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan” from Discipleship Journal.

Start at the beginning of the plan (January) or start with the current date—or even jump around a bit if you like. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re working through entire books and checking them off until you complete the whole Book.

And don’t neglect regular “off schedule” reading in Proverbs and Psalms. They serve different purposes. Proverbs are for the mind—for judgment; Psalms are for the heart—for receiving comfort or expressing joy, sorrow or lament. We need them both, regularly, so don’t go long without dipping into these wonderful books. They refresh the soul in vital ways.

Finally, how I read. In brief, I read slowly and actively. I pay attention to the details and especially to the flow of thought. I circle repeated words, draw lines between related concepts, check cross references, jot brief thoughts or questions in the margin (in pencil). If my mind drifts while reading, I go back to where I drifted off and start again.

I also mix my reading with prayer. It’s hard not to. Sometimes I pray the prayers of the Bible as if they were my own. Other times I pray the content of a passage, for me or for others. I pray the words, express wonder, give thanks, offer praise, confess shortcomings, ask questions.

So, there’s my brief tutorial. Like many things important, but sometimes burdensome, consistency is key. So step up. Read regularly, read slowly, read thoughtfully, and read the full counsel of God. Again, action always beats intention.

There are some very good thoughts here. I hope they’re helpful for you!

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john-calvin-44

Prayer is one of the essential spiritual disciplines of the Christian and the church. Just how essential is explained by John Calvin as follows:

Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is, and in how many ways the exercise of prayer is profitable. Surely, with good reason the Heavenly Father affirms that the only stronghold of safety is in calling upon his name. By so doing we invoke the presence both of his providence, through which he watches over and guards our affairs, and of his power, through which he sustains us, weak as we are and well-nigh overcome, and of his goodness, through which he receives us, miserably burdened with sins, unto grace; and, in short, it is by prayer that we might call him to reveal himself as wholly present to us.

(Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, chapter XX, Sec. 2)

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Prosper and Have Good Success

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“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8)

A.W. Pink provides us with a very good explanation of what it means to be prosperous and have success. He writes,

“God tells us that if we give His Holy Word the first place in our thoughts and affections, and regulate both our inner and outer life by its teaching, then He will make our way “prosperous” and we shall have “good success.” This does not mean that we shall become millionaires, but that by heeding the rules of His Word, we shall escape those rocks upon which the vast majority of our fellows make shipwreck, and that the blessing of God will rest upon our lives in all their varied aspects and relations; an all-wise and sovereign God determining both the kind and measure of the “success” which will be most for His glory and our highest good.”

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Andre Seu Peterson, of WORLD, has some very good thoughts on optimism and thankfulness.

Your mother once told you about the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise won the race because he was an optimist. People say it’s because he was persistent, but he wouldn’t have been persistent if he hadn’t been optimistic first. Optimism precedes perseverance. The Apostle Paul observes that dynamic when saying that we have faith and love “because of the hope” (Colossians 1:5). No hope, no reason to get out of bed.

The pessimist’s problem is all in his eye. His eye is defective. He sees everything the same shade of blah, like the Dwarfs in The Last Battle. “Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs’ knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip.”

“The eye is the lamp of the body.” That is, all experience is filtered through it. “So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23).

Christians who are not by nature optimists may have to work a little at becoming so. Here is how you do that—by a conscious, constant cultivation of thanksgiving. This works magic in changing a bad “eye” to a clear eye, and you will be astounded at how much better the world looks. Try it and you will sit before a blank sheet of paper and complain that you have nothing good to put on your list, and then you will come up with 25.

When you get better at it, you will not only have the good things on your thanksgiving list but the bad things and disappointments too. For you will start to see how these bad things were the very ones God used to mature you. I hate to think of what my life would be now if I had been cursed with only pleasant things.

George Müller (1805-1898) is one of the biggest optimists I know of. That crazy guy decided to distribute tracts and to witness among the Jews in London, and he reports, “I had the honor of being reproached and ill-treated for the name of Jesus” (The Autobiography of George Müller). Must be a blessing in there somewhere, right? That’s like the Apostle Paul saying, “I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Come again? If there are “many adversaries,” how does he see it as a “wide door for effective work”?

That’s how an optimist sees.

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Repentance and faith are not the same thing, but they’re linked together and can’t be separated.

In Scripture, the gospel is the objective good news of salvation. It is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That message is declared to mankind in a way that summons us all to do two things—repent and believe. This repentance and belief are all the same fundamental and entirely fluid motion. Repentance is turning away from all that is not Christ, and belief is turning toward all that is. Repentance turns away from sin, and faith embraces Christ. This is the way it is by definition, and so it is not possible to turn to Christ actually without turning away from not Christ actually. This means true and real repentance.

To be given an opportunity to do this is good news indeed. However, there are two kinds of good news. One kind is the “out of the blue” sort. You get word that you have inherited millions from a distant relative you never even knew about. The other kind of good news is the kind that presupposes some awareness of antecedent bad news. The governor signed the pardon and you won’t be executed in the morning. A further review of the tests shows us that you do not have cancer. This is the kind of good news that shows us how turning away and turning toward can essentially be the same thing. This is good news that displaces the bad news.

Douglas Wilson, “Gospel for Snowflakes” blog post at Blog and Mablog (Dec. 20, 2017).

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