SCRIPTURE

MEDITATING ON SCRIPTURE

“…to pursue holiness with discipline, we must do more than hear, read, study or memorize Scripture.  We must meditate on it” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p99).

“One cannot stress too much the necessity of reading and meditating upon the Book…the Word of God is not like any merely human book.  There is a spiritual as well as an intellectual element in the apprehension of it….Therefore, we must always avoid mere knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but must allow the Spirit of God to make personal application of the Word to our own lives….God’s Word is intensely practical” Alfred Martin (ref#260, p123).

“Meditation of Scripture is a discipline” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p170).  “We must choose to meditate instead of thinking about other things, or listening to the radio, or watching television.  We simply have to decide which end of the influence continuum we want to live on and take steps accordingly” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p171).

“It is not necessary that we should discover new ideas in our meditation.  Often this only diverts us and feeds our vanity.  It is sufficient if the Word, as we read and understand it, penetrates and dwells within us” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#28, p83).

“Can we ever know positively that our understanding of Scripture is entirely correct?…we cannot.  But we can know positively whether we are seeking God’s truth in a manner that glorifies Him” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p132).

“’Lord, my sweetest privilege is obedience to Thee; my highest freedom is wearing Thy yoke; my greatest rest is bearing Thy burden…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 22nd).

SCRIPTURE

THE POWER OF SCRIPTURE

“…’the Book’…is a fountain for spiritual thirst, food for the soul, a revelation of God, a living power and a two-edged sword” John Piper (ref#220, p292).

FATHER, the more familiar I become with Your Bible the more I approach it with respect and fear.  One read through cements the fact that it is indeed a supernatural book.  Ordinary books inform or entertain; the Bible changes my very nature.  UTMOST LORD, I thank You for providing the SPIRIT who guides me as I read.

I can easily fall back into reading with the mind of my flesh, using my natural “sense and reason without the Holy Spirit…” (Rom 8:6 AMP).  But by reading this way I’m only looking for information to help me.  Without the SPIRIT to help, Your Word is external.  It does not change me inside.  It only gives me advice to act independently of You.

“…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12 ESV).

“…the ‘word’ is pictured as God’s personal utterance, living, active, sharp, piercing, and discerning…with eyesthat expose….The Word of God then acts as God himself, so that one’s innermost thoughts and intentions are exposed.  This happens constantly in Christians’ lives” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2367, [Heb 4:12-13]).

If the ESV translation is hard to understand, try the Message: God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Heb 4:12-13 MSG).

I praise You, LORD, that Your Word “is a sifter…of the reflections and conceptions of the heart” Kenneth S. Wuest (ref#37, p519, [Heb 4:12]).  Its energy seeks to get into and stay with me. It has the ability to stir me and work in me to a degree that I can’t get away from it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#28, p83)

“We are being drawn more and more under the transforming influence of Scripture, or we are being progressively drawn into the web of an ungodly society around us” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p171).

CONFESSION

PLACING MYSELF ABOVE OTHERS

“Anger is always an attack on the brother’s life, for it refuses to let him live and aims at his destruction….Every idle word which we think so little of betrays our lack of respect for our neighbour, and shows that we place ourselves on a pinnacle above him and value our own lives higher than his. The angry word is a blow struck at our brother, a stab at his heart: it seeks to hit, to hurt and to destroy….When a man gets angry with his brother…when he…insults or slanders him, he is guilty of murder…He erects a barrier not only between himself and his brother, but also between himself and God. He no longer has access to him: his sacrifice, worship and prayer are not acceptable in his sight. For the Christian, worship cannot be divorced from the service of the brethren,…God will not be separated from our brother: he wants no honour for himself so long as our brother is dishonoured….There is therefore only one way of following Jesus and of worshipping God, and that is to be reconciled with our brethren” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p127-129).

FATHER, Your love for everyone in Your creation is so great that You refuse to commune with me any further if I am the least bit critical of anyone. I cannot be as sweet water, worshipping You and, at the same time, bitter water and angry at my bother. If I’m not sweet to my brother, You will be bitter toward me. How greatly grieved You are when my words, even in jest, speak negatively of someone.

The Apostle Paul says, “…I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:27 ESV). Paul knows how easy it is to put himself above others with angry or idle words. He knows he must subdue his corrupt tendencies and thus warns himself (and me). (ref#16, [1 Cor 9:27]).

So, today, FATHER, I ask that You make me aware of how I dishonor people. I surely desire to not lose Your presence because of saying and thinking unkindness toward someone.

SUPPLICATION

CHRISTIAN

[Because we are Christians and live in the world we will always need prayer for our walk and for witnessing to others about CHRIST. Here’s an opportunity to pray for others or even ourselves. Fill their name or your name in the blanks.]

A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS

…FATHER, I pray for ____ that (he/she) obey Your calling to be a priestly intercessor. (All Christians are called to be a kingdom of priests [Ex 19:6]). Attune (him/her) to be mindful of ones caught in transgression (Gal 6:1) that (he/she) will seek to restore them “by affectionate admonition, by faithful instruction, and by prayer” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Gal 6:1]).

 Cause ____, FATHER, to live as a priest by fearing You and standing in awe of Your name (Mal 2:5). Keep true instruction in (his/her) mouth and assist (him/her) to walk with You in peace and uprightness. By such a walk (he/she) will turn many from iniquity (Mal 2:6). Impassion ____ to guard knowledge so that people should seek instruction from (him/her) (Mal 2:7).

Cause ____ to desire to labor to fill up that which is lacking in others (ref#67, [Gal 6:1]). Discharge (him/her) to offer up to You “spiritual sacrifices, not only of prayer and praise, but of devout affections and pious resolutions” which is the work of Your own SPIRIT in (him/her) (ref#18, [Ex 19:1-8]). Quicken (him/her) to offer up services acceptable to You through CHRIST (1 Pet 2:5).

“As Christ bears our burdens, so ought we to bear the burdens of our fellow-man. The law of Christ, which is our duty to fulfill, is the bearing of the cross. My brother’s burden which I must bear is not only his outward lot, his natural characteristics and gifts, but quite literally his sin. And the only way to bear that sin is by forgiving it in the power of the cross of Christ in which I now share. Thus the call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of forgiving men their sins. Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian duty to bear” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p90).

CONFESSION

OVERWHELMING CIRCUMSTANCES ARE OKAY

…FATHER, You have set me on a course of looking for people to minister to—and I HAVE FOUND THEM! My initial reaction is very much like the sluggard in Proverbs. He says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets” (Prov 22:13)! How can I minister successfully to all that clamor for my attention? “There are too many; I will exhaust myself.”

LORD, when You command, I must do it immediately. Questioning is not a prerogative. Oswald Chambers says, “When you know you should do a thing, and do it, immediately you know more” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 8th). FATHER, has not Your inspiration come in the past, and has it not come with such miraculous power in such a way that I am able to “arise from the dead and do the impossible thing” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Feb 16th)?

“Jesus is asking us to take one end of the yoke—‘My yoke is easy, get alongside Me and we will pull together’” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, April 14th).

Compel me, FATHER, to not be a sluggard. Continually remind me I am not responsible for Christian service (because You, Yourself do the work), but I am only responsible “to keep in living, constant, touch” with You (ref#7, April 23rd).

CHRIST says, “Follow me, run along behind Me! That is all” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p 58). Advise me to “see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for” me (ref#10, p88).

Remind me that “bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p93).

Oh soul, do not run ahead or lag behind paralyzed in fear. FATHER, I desire to wait for You then run with You—for Your closeness is the place of rest. Strengthen my trust in You—weaken my trust in myself. Empower me to put all my hope in You for You are all steadfast love (Ps 33:22).

CONFESSION

WHO IS DOING THE DOING?

“Not all deeds done for God are His deeds. Doing for Him is not enough; the question is, who is doing the doing? God will not recognize any labor as His if it simply reflects the believer’s activity and is carried out in his strength” Roy and Revel Hession (ref#101, p44).

When the Apostle Paul says I am to work out my own salvation (Phil 2:12-13), he is not saying to me to get busy and convince You, FATHER, that I love You. If I have any thought of impressing You it signals my activities are birthed from ruling myself. Working out my salvation is not choosing Christian activities that I want to do.

FATHER, instead of permitting my perverse nature to work out my salvation, bequeath me that I may, with concentration and care work out the nature You have put in me when You changed my nature (ref#7, June 6th). I want You to dominate more and more of my life (ref#7, June 7th); I want to be more and more acquainted with Your good work, not my own good work—Your rule, not my rule.

“The moment we begin to feel satisfied that we are making some progress along the road of sanctification, it is all the more necessary to repent and confess that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags….God alone knows our good works, all we know is his good work. We can do no more than…carry on and rely on his grace,…and—sin” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p297).

CONFESSION

IMITATING MY ELDER BROTHER, JESUS

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-4-20-18-pm…FATHER, in Your Word You command many things of me. But if I look at Your commands as just something I need to do I am in the wrong frame of mind. I do not say, “I believe in JESUS” and then add hard work to my faith.

“Martin Luther’s old formula still sums things up nicely: ‘We are saved by faith alone [not our works], but not by faith that remains alone.’ Nothing we do can merit God’s grace and favor, we can only believe that he has given it to us in Jesus Christ and receive it by faith. But if we truly believe and trust in the one who sacrificially served us, it changes us into people who sacrificially serve God and our neighbors” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p123-124).

“Desire without knowledge is not good,…” (Prov 19:2 NRSV). “Sincerity and energy by themselves miss the mark (Rom 10:2)” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p903 [Prov 19:2]).

“Religion operates on the principle of ‘I obey therefore I am accepted by God.’ The basic operating principle of the gospel is ‘I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ—therefore I obey’” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p114).

Religion is “the default mode of my heart.” I have to deliberately and repeatedly set my heart to gospel-mode (ref#123, p114-115). I do that not by willfully doing good works but by feeding on the Gospel, digesting it so it becomes my motivating energy.

When the Apostle Paul gives a command, he doesn’t pressure directly on the will or on emotions but draws his listeners back to CHRIST and the work He did. As the hours go by in the day, if I keep thinking about how CHRIST lived out His life, I will soon realize how much His sacrificial love did for me—I will soon want to similarly sacrifice for others—be a comparable “elder brother.” In this mind-set I will complete jobs not to get them “checked off” but to do them because it is a joy to “do” for the One I love.

“Our problems arise largely because we don’t continually return to the gospel to work it in and live it out” (ref#123, p119). Let me repeat that: “Our problems arise largely because we don’t continually return to the gospel to work it in and live it out” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p119).

Looking through the lens of the Gospel my responsibilities named in Scripture become not heavy burdens but privileges to enjoy. There is no higher privilege than to work and suffer for CHRIST (ref#10, p244). It doesn’t get any better than that.

PRELUDE TO PRAYER

 

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Prayer Facts:

“Intercession means no more than to bring our brother into the presence of God, to see him under the Cross of Jesus as a poor human being and sinner in need of grace” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#28, p86).

Reasons for Waiting for GOD:

Because Your greatness is so vast and deep it is unsearchable (Ps 145:3), I will wait for You.

Because You are mighty in power of understanding and heart (Job 36:5), I will wait for You.

Because honor and majesty are found in Your presence and strength and joy are found in Your sanctuary (1 Chron 16:27), I will wait for You.

Because You are near to all who call upon You in sincerity (Ps 145:18), I will wait for You.

Because You show Yourself strong for those whose hearts are completely Yours (2 Chron 16:9), I will wait for You.

Read Through the Bible in a Year: February 12th – 18th

Feb 12 Lev 18-19; Acts 9

Feb 13 Lev 20-22; Acts 10

Feb 14 Lev 23-24; Acts 11

Feb 15 Lev 25; Ps 25-26

Feb 16 Lev 26-27; Acts 12

Feb 17 Num 1-2; Acts 13

Feb 18 Num 3-4; Acts 14

PRELUDE TO PRAYER

 

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Prayer Facts:

“No sacrifice which a lover would make for his beloved is too great for us to make for our enemy….if we pray for them, we are taking their distress and poverty, their guilt and perdition upon ourselves, and pleading to God for them. We are doing vicariously for them what they cannot do for themselves” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p148-150).

 

Reasons for Waiting for GOD:

Because You formed my inward parts and knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Ps 139:13), I will wait for You.

Because You search me thoroughly and know me (Ps 139:1), I will wait for You.

Because You understand my thoughts and are acquainted with all my ways (Ps 139:2-3), I will wait for You.

Because You are upright and make my path level (Isa 26:7), I will wait for You.

Because You draw near on the day I call to You (Lam 3:57), I will wait for You.

Because You hear my voice and take up my cause (Lam 3:56,58), I will wait for You.

 

Read Through the Bible in a Year: January 29th – February 4th

Jan 29  Ex 23-24; Luke 22

Jan 30  Ex 25-27; Luke 23

Jan 31 Ex 28-29; Luke 24

Feb 1   Ex 30-32; Acts 1

Feb 2   Ex 33-34; Ps 10

Feb 3   Ex 35-36; Acts 2

Feb 4   Ex 37-38; Acts 3

CONFESSION

YOU GIVE, I ACCEPT WITH THANKS

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-11-40-00-am…FATHER, I thank You that You have caused me to believe so I am united to CHRIST in You, by the SPIRIT. But, my heart is not content to let just our union be the extent of my involvement. My heart longs for fellowship—You and I giving and receiving affections, delight, satisfaction… I don’t want to merely be a recipient of Your gifts, I want to interact with You (ref#35, p21).

And, not only this, LORD, but I want to be personal and emotional with You in every essence of Your Person so that I find obedience to You an honor (ref#35, p22).

“Christian obedience was of utmost importance, but it was always understood to flow out of this union and never seen as the ground for it” John Owen (ref#35, p22).

O LORD, such a desire I have to revel in the work I do because it pleases You. I want to experience Your consenting presence continually. Send Your SPIRIT to me so He might make me sensitive to when I revert back to making decisions on my own. Yes, I want my obedience to flow out of our communion. Never do I want to perform tasks to get me into communion with You. Oh, to understand and walk according to Your unilateral giving so that I am never inclined to impress You.

“We pay no attention to our own lives or the new image which we bear,…it is only to serve as a mirror for the image of Christ on whom our gaze is fixed” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (ref#10, p304).