Posts Tagged ‘Bible Study’

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QUOTE (C.H. Spurgeon) – Jan 6

January 6, 2015

Português: fotografia de Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“You know more about your magazines and novels than what God has written; many of you will read a novel from the beginning to the end, and what have you got? A mouthful of foam when you are done. But you cannot read the Bible; that solid, lasting, substantial, and satisfying food goes uneaten, locked up in the cupboard of neglect; while anything that a man writes, a best seller of the day, is greedily devoured.”
~ C.H. Spurgeon

“The Bible must be your chart, and you must exercise great watchfulness that your way may be according to its directions. You must take heed to your daily life, as well as study your Bible, and you must study your Bible that you may take heed to your daily life. With the greatest care a man will go astray if his map misleads him; but with the most accurate map he will still lose his road if he does not take heed to it. The narrow way was never hit upon by chance, neither did any heedless man ever lead a holy life. We can sin without thought, we have only to neglect the great salvation and ruin our souls; but to obey the Lord and walk uprightly will need all our heart and soul and mind. Let the careless remember this.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

In honor of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, an English Baptist preacher, who was converted to a living faith at age 16 on this day in 1850.

Resources:
January 6 – Today in Christian History
Quotes> C.H. Spurgeon

 

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“THE HOT WATER OF TEMPTATION” – Nov 13

November 13, 2013

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  Matthew 4:1

Tambako the Jaguar / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

“You’re not going to like it”, were the words we heard upon stepping into the unique blend of humidity and chlorine that greets visitors at the City pool.  The petite, teenage, lifeguard was standing behind the front counter with a look of someone who has a secret.  She quickly divulged the inspiration behind her prophecy of my pending dissatisfaction.  The thermostat that controls the boiler for the pool had malfunctioned and over-heated the water.  The pool water was at a steamy 94 degrees.  I have never swum in a hot tub so I figured I would give it a try.

All it took was a warm up lap to realize that I was not going to like this.

Swimming in hot water is a strange sensation.  You cannot cool down.  Normally, swimming provides the delightful experience of vigorous exercise without overheating and sweating.  I can reach the pool’s edge after a strenuous set, with my heart pounding and gasping for air, yet I am perfectly cool.  Water is an amazing heat sink.  All the heat created by my body from swimming can easily be removed by the water.  You can work incredibly hard but you only break into a flop sweat after you get out of the pool.

However, this phenomenon only occurs in a pool with a temperature in the eighties or below. When I tried to swim in 90 degree water, I could feel an accumulation of heat with ever lap.  By the fifth lap, I had to stop.  It almost became claustrophobic.  As I struggled to keep my eyes on the black line below me, I could feel this oppressive heat building around me and sapping all the strength from body.  By the time I got to the pool’s edge on my fifth lap, I had to get out.  I had to stand up and allow the air to cool me off.  I did not like that at all.  I ended up doing only three set of five laps before I had had enough.  My endurance succumbed to the hot water of the pool.

The Christian life takes us through a lot of different kinds of water.  There are some waters so hot with temptation that all we can focus on is the temperature on our flesh.  The temptations of other waters can be so minor that setting our minds on the things of the Spirit can be done without consideration to the heat on our flesh.

The temperature of the water is unique to each Christian. 

hidden side / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I have struggled with lust since my teenage years.  I cannot swim in those waters for any length of time.  I know that even a single lap of an extended ogle of cleavage, a click on the seductive, or the relishing of the sexual will not go well for me.  (THE PETRAEUS IN ALL OF US)  I have to get out of those waters.  I know many people for whom those waters are not hot.  They can swim for miles and miles in those waters and their minds easily stay fixed on the things of the Spirit.

It is not that way for me.  I am embarrassed by my continued weakness in this area; I hate it.  When I was in my teens, I never thought that lust would still be a temptation in my forties.  I have prayed many times for God to take this weakness away.  He can but He has not.  Therefore, I strive to live in a manner that God may be glorified in my weakness and I am careful of the waters that I swim in because I know myself.

Jimmy Morris / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I don’t have a huge problem with gossip.  However, I can get caught up in the web of gossipers after a few laps through those waters.  For me, swimming through the waters of gossip is an accumulation of heat.  The gossip’s entire conversational playlist often contains a relentless bombardment of opinions about other people.  Gossips normally find that I am not a very sympathetic ear.  I don’t suffer their negativism very well.  However, I do have to be careful because I can succumb to a bombardment of gossip if I am around it too much.  I need to punch out after a couple laps if a gossip will not be redirected.

I know some folks who have very sympathetic ears and seem to be honey in the attraction of gossips.  They cannot endure the hot water of gossips.  They don’t have the personality to shut a gossip down so they are immediately sucked into the conversation and succumb to the temptation.  The waters are too hot for them.  They have to get out of those waters.  They should not be around some of their “friends” due to the increased temperature of temptation that they bring.

SanforaQ8 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I don’t struggle with contentment.  I know that there are many who ride the spiritual roller coaster.  They are exuberant on the highs but fight the temptations of discontentment and discouragement on the lows.  For them, a spiritually dry season is a difficult swim through hot water that causes their faith to feel claustrophobic.  They have to seek respites from the temptations to discouragement and discontentment through the faith of others.

I am in a dry season that has lasted about 1-1/2 years.  I am not particularly excited about what is going on in my faith.  Most mornings, I don’t feel like getting out of bed to do my devotions of Bible reading and prayer.  However by God’s grace, I always get up, pour myself a cup of coffee and settle down for a time with my Lord … I am rarely disappointed.  My Lord always seems to give just the right amount of nourishment to cool my soul and prepare me for another day of swimming through this world.  Even though I am in a frustratingly dry season that I don’t like, I feel very content and satisfied.  I can eagerly join my voice to the chorus of “It is well with my soul”.  By God’s grace, He has enabled me to swim comfortably through waters that others might find too hot.

Every follower of Christ must know their soul and be able to gauge the temptation temperature of the water.  We all face temptations of various kinds and forms.  It is the work of the Spirit through our sanctification that enables us to find the way out in all circumstances.

We know that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13).  However, we also know that the waters we swim in have temptations that are included in His sovereign plan.  His plan is for our good and that includes temptations.  When we overcome temptation, we are strengthened; if we succumb, we are humbled and see our continued need of a Savior and the works of the Spirit for further sanctification and grace.  Our sanctification is a divine work of the Spirit in our lives.  He is living and active and is working all things for our good.  He loves us

We just need to learn how to cooperate with the Spirit to still our souls and glorify God in all circumstances.

PRAYER: O Father, you know me better than I know myself.  I know that I am in your hands.  Help me endure the temptations of this world.  Sanctify my heart.  Help me in my weaknesses.  May others be lifted up through my strengths.  May you be glorified in both.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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HOLD FAST – Jan. 15

January 15, 2013

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31-32

I don’t think that my adventurous spirit is sufficient enough to have sought to be a sailor in the era of the great sailing ships.   I am awed by those sailors who would leave the safety of land to venture into the unknown of the sea with only the sky as a guide and the wind to propel them.  My minimum requirements for such an adventure are engines, GPS and a satellite phone.

I fully respect the courage of those sailors.  They were on their own.  Their entire security was within the oak timbers and cloth sails of their vessel.  There was no rescue from the Coast Guard if you were washed over.  Their ship was their life.

I imagine that it did not take a lot of courage to sail through the doldrums.  The doldrums refer to those areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans affected by a low-pressure zone around the equator where the prevailing winds are very calm. (Intertropical Convergence Zone)  I think that I could easily handle sailing through the doldrums.

Sailing around Cape Horn is another matter.  “Rounding the Cape” takes courage.  Cape Horn is the sailing route around the southern tip of South America.  It is notorious for being one of the most dangerous ship passages in the world. The Cape is known for fierce winds, large waves, icebergs and as a sailors’ graveyard.  Sailing the Cape takes courage.

capehornStaying in the vessel is life or death when sailing the Cape.  In the doldrums, the risk of getting washed over is slight.  Therefore, I imagine that sailors are a bit lackadaisical in moving about the ship.  The risk of getting washed over “rounding the Cape” was likely if you were to miss-step.  “Holding fast” is paramount in rough seas.

I like the old sailor saying of “hold fast.” A rope on board a ship is called “fast” when it is firmly secured to the vessel.  To “hold fast”, is to cling to security.  It is to grasp onto your life line.  Death is what awaited a sailor who failed to “hold fast” in rough seas.   I imagine that there have been many a sailor “holding fast” as they braved the treacherous seas of Cape Horn.

Jesus gives a similar “hold fast” warning.  He tells us that “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”  God’s word is our line that secures us to Christ.  Our security lies in Christ alone.  We are to abide – remain in place – continue – dwell – endure – in His word.  Abide in His word proves that we are Christ’s disciples.  How are we supposed to do that?

Are we abiding in His word if we never read it?

Are we dwelling in His word if we never study it?

How can we continue in His word if we don’t recognize it?

There is a quote by C.H. Spurgeon, “Spurgeon’s Sermons, Vol. 1, that I fear is too true:

“There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.”

The truth of this quote lies in Jesus’ warning to “hold fast” to his word.  The act of having a Bible is similar to a sailor knowing where a secure line is on a ship while strolling the decks in the doldrums.  Reading your Bible is like a sailor clinging to a ship rope while being pulled to the rails by the crashing waves and biting winds of Cape Horn.

We are to “hold fast” to God’s word.  We are to cling to it – abide in it – like our lives depend upon it … because they do.  I guess this is one of my greatest concern for many of my professing brothers and sisters in Christ.  I see very little abiding in the word – I see very few who are dwelling in God’s word – I wonder how many are  “holding fast” or even know Jesus’ words.

This is why I write these blogs from my own daily Bible reading.  My hope is that all who read them will feel the Spirit’s tug on their hearts to wipe the dust off their own Bibles and start “holding fast” to the incredible words of our Lord and Savior.  Let’s “hold fast” together; let’s encourage one another to “hold fast”; let’s out do one another in “holding fast”; let’s “hold fast” to the glory of our Lord and Savior.

ships-cook-hold-fast.

PRAYER: Lord, my secure lies in you alone.  You are my safety in all times.  You are what I can trust in.  Your words are life to me. Father, write them on my heart – bring them to my mind – help me to meditate upon them day and night.  Father, teach me how to hold fast to them; to cling to them.  Give me an appetite for your word that surpasses my appetite for anything else of this world.  Amen

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THE OPIATE OF PRAISE – Dec. 10th

December 10, 2012

“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10

I guess it is time for a little transparency.  I have to periodically remind myself of why I am writing this blog.  My experience has been that a lot of people are struggling in the body of Christ; needlessly struggling.  Many people seem stuck on a perpetual spiritual roller coaster; up and down, up and down. However, you would never know it on a Sunday morning. We Christians learn very quickly how to look like we have it all together.  We can play that game for so long that eventually we begin to believe it.  However, that game is detrimental to ourselves and those who are watching us.

My reason for blogging meditations from my own daily Bible reading is to hopefully be an example. I don’t have it all together. I have walked with my Lord and Savior for over thirty years.  By His grace and mercy, I am still learning, still growing, still being molded, still being humbled, and I hope, still being useful. I don’t want a mask of religious perfection. I’ve tried that and it always falls off at the most inappropriate times.

Being fake is of no benefit to my sanctification or to my family and those who are traveling this narrow road with me. We need transparency among us, brothers and sisters, to encourage one another on to greater devotions and good works.

This passage goes straight to a heart condition that I don’t know of anyone who has mastered well. There are motivations behind what we do.  Many have not even asked the question or explored what those motivations are. They just keep doing what they do because of habit, obligation, or instinct.  However, wrong motivations can easily creep into our duties. We can fall into the extremes of slavishly fulfilling our duty because we have to or the other end of doing our duty in hopes of gaining a reward either from God or from people.

Our pride is such a cunning beast. John Piper once spoke of  how easily the pride of authoring a book and being a respected preacher can so easily creep into his attitude and motivations. Let’s face it, we all like being liked. I do not know a single person who does not like a complement, a pat on the back, an accolade or two.  The best will divert the praise to something like – “all glory goes to God”, which is very appropriate. However, it still feels good.

I like being liked. I like the opiate of men’s praise. I want others to think well of me.  It is very sly how a taste for that praise can creep into our motivations. I get encouraged when I receive praise and fight discouragement when it is lacking.

How foolish is that? We are not to live as praise addicts, constantly performing in hopes of obtaining our next fix.

I am just a servant that is following my calling – to glorify my King. You are just a servant.  Every Christian leader with thousands of followers is just a servant.  We are all responsible to our own duty whether that is in service of tens of thousands or one. There is only one “like” in our lives that should really matter – God’s opinion is the only praise that really matters for any of us.

He is the one and only motivation for doing what we do but here is the really good news. It is a duty unlike any other; it is a duty transformed into a desire.

“…but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.” Eph. 6:6b-7

 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 

 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:3

Our duty as servants is actually our pleasure. John Piper gives a wonderful example of how his wife would never want flowers from her husband given as an act of duty. She wants flowers that are an expression of the love of her husband. It is the same for us Christians. God changes our hearts so that we can see that our greatest pleasure and fulfillment comes when we respond to him in love.  Our duty is actually an opportunity to put our love of our Savior in action.

So, why are you doing your duty?  Is it because you have to, is it to get the praise of men, or is it because that is just what good servants do – an expression of their love?

PRAYER: Lord – Thank you for revealing in me those areas of my life where my motives are not right. Forgive me of my pride and desire for the praise of men. Father, wean me from wanting to hear the accolades of people I don’t even know more than pleasing you.  Focus my eyes on you and change my heart to desire only to do the duty that you have given me to do.    Amen

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