15 November, 2009

Our Thoughts Build Our Character

By J. R. Miller, "The Lesson of Love" 1903

"When, on my bed, I think of You, I meditate on You during the night watches." Psalm 63:6

It is a law of life--that our thoughts build our character.  If we meditate on the purity, the holiness, the goodness, the love, the righteousness, of Christ--these qualities will print themselves upon our own hearts.
Paul has given us an infallible direction for the best spiritual culture.
"Whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable--
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
think about such things!" Philippians 4:8

08 November, 2009

This Week's Memory Verse

So convinced am I that scripture memory is a vehicle by which the Holy Spirit is able to work in a person, that I am committing to post a memory verse each week, with the hope that you will be blessed, as I have, with how God will use it.  

His revelation to me through the writing of His word on my heart has strengthened my faith more than any other single thing.  I pray that it does the same for you.

"Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."  Isaiah 40:31

01 November, 2009

Thy Word

For those of you who may not know, we home school our children. And this past week’s memory verse was 2 Timothy 3:16-17…

“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

One of the reasons I am such a proponent of scripture memorization is because having the Word of God written on your heart enables you to meditate on it (because now it’s with you wherever you go; in the elevator, in the grocery line, in the doctor’s office, in the car…), which provides the Holy Spirit an opportunity to reveal some truth to you.

I’ve known of this verse, but memorizing it this past week and meditating on it, the Holy Spirit has had an opportunity to reveal some truth to me.

All scripture. All of it. There is none that is useless, or outdated, or otherwise not applicable to me… now… here.

Now, the bible is a book, which implies that we need to read it. I can’t know God without reading His Word. I can’t have a relationship without having conversation once in a while. This is how God speaks. John MacArthur (one of my favorite theologians) puts it this way: “So identified is God with His Word, that when scripture speaks, God speaks.” Whoa!

God does the equipping. God’s word provides the instruction, correction, reproof, training, etc. It’s the light unto my path! It’s how I know what to do, where I’m going, where I messed up and how to fix it, how to please Him, how stay on the righteous path, how to receive his blessing, ‘That I may be equipped for every good work’.

Not Me. Halleluiah! That’s what I wanted to yell out when I realized it’s not in my strength. I’m not the one having to equip myself somehow.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” Phil2:13.
(Ahh, the Holy Spirit was able to call that scripture to my attention with re: to this passage…because I had memorized it ;). God works in me through His Word.

All that from 2 verses and a week’s worth of memorizing and meditation. Hmm, I wonder what would happen if I memorized an entire chapter, or even a book of the bible? I’ll keep you posted.

For a great sermon on scripture memorization, listen to John Piper’s “If My Words Abide in You”.

25 October, 2009

Amazing Grace

Last week I experienced the tiniest bit of persecution from some people close to me. Seems they are offended by us and our desire to share the gospel. But this post isn’t about them. This is about one of the ways in which God spoke to me through it.

After the initial shock, trying to sort out the issues from the words that were said, and trying to discern where I might have done any wrong, Ephesians 2 just popped into my head during the middle of my sleepless night. I read it the next morning and decided that it really didn’t speak to my situation, and dismissed the thought. For, it didn’t speak to persecution, or false gospel, or how the gospel is divisive, etc.

A day or two later, I couldn’t seem to get Ephesians 2 out of my head, so I thought I’d give it another try and read it again. And there it was…verses 8-10, the ones we all know about the nature of salvation;

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

And it finally hit me. While I was busy justifying myself and providing myself assurance of no wrongdoing,  the Holy Spirit wanted to remind me that the only difference between me and them… was His grace.

My heart broke, my anger vanished, my hurt took a right turn and landed me at the cross, with a moment of clarity that I can’t describe with words. About the reality of sin, of hell; of the battle that goes on all around us all the time, for souls.

So, the next time a random chapter or verse pops into your head, read it, until you figure out what God is saying to you.  Because "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16-17

14 October, 2009

The best that most of us can do in this world

(by J. R. Miller, "Silent Times")

"Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27
"Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20

Christ within us will be made manifest. If we have this divine indwelling, we will also have an ever-increasing measure in all of our life--of the gentle and loving spirit of the Master. We should not claim to have Christ in us--if, in our conduct and speech, in our disposition and temper, and in our relations with our fellow-men, there is none of the mind and temper of Christ. If Christ truly is in us, He cannot long be hidden in our hearts, without manifestation. There will be a gradual transformation of our outer life--into Christ-likeness. As He lived--so we will live; as He ministered to others--so we will minister; as He was holy--so we will be holy; as He was patient, thoughtful, unselfish, gentle, and kind--so will we be.

Christ came to our world to pour divine kindness on weary, needy, perishing human lives. Christ truly in our hearts--would send us out on the same mission. The world today needs nothing more than true Christ-likeness, in those who bear Christ's name, and represent Him.If we truly have Christ in our hearts--it will work out in transformed life and in Christly ministry; it will lead to the brightening of one little spot, at least, on this big earth.

There are a few people whom God calls to do great things for Him. The best that most of us can do in this world--is just to live out a real, simple, consecrated, Christian life in our allotted place. Thus, in our little measure, we shall repeat the life of Christ Himself, showing others some feeble reflection of His sweet and loving face, and doing in our poor way--a few of the beautiful things He would do, if He were here Himself.

10 October, 2009

Why Share Your Faith?

Actually, Penn Jillette, magician and devout atheist, answers this question very well. Amazing how God can use an atheist to provide such a good argument for sharing your faith.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." Romans 1:16

09 October, 2009

I am an Alien

Have you ever felt like the odd man out in a social situation? Sort of the one who’s not like the others? Alienated, maybe even ostracized…because of your faith?
As He sanctifies me, I become less a part of or attached to the things of this world. And this renders an ever-evaporating reservoir of common subjects with which to converse. All I really want to talk about is Jesus. (Thanks be to God for this miraculous work in me.)

The god if this world is Satan (Mat.4:8-9, 2Cor 4:4, Eph 2:2). And as such, it is hostile to the gospel. Most people I run into do not want to talk about Jesus and find the mere mention of Him offensive. (Funny, I find most things they say offensive, too.) So, living as an alien takes some getting used to. Not surprisingly, God provides for this also.

I am reminded of Mary when she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She was with child, before being married, and Joseph wasn’t the dad! She was tainted goods, an adulterer, which was punishable by stoning to death! And after professing her pregnancy to be of the Holy Spirit, I’m quite confident she was also considered a liar, a blasphemer and probably a lunatic. Talk about feeling alienated!

But I realized, as I read through the story again this past Christmas, that God sent comfort and companionship to Mary during her time of alienation. She had Joseph, who had the Truth revealed to him by God’s angel. And she had her cousin, Elizabeth, who received the Truth from the Holy Spirit that Mary was the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:26-56). And she spent three months with her at her house.

So, God gives us the body of believers for comfort, companionship and so much more.
“Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Mat. 12:48-50.

In Romans chapter 15:28-33, Paul speaks about being able to come back from persecution in Judea and ‘find refreshing rest in their company’ (the company of fellow Christians).

How I cherish my fellow sojourners! You are an oasis, a sweet retreat for this road-weary traveler. My soul rejoices when I find someone who speaks my language…the Gospel Truth.