Monday, July 28, 2014

THE BIBLE…

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

-- Unknown, found inside a Gideon's New Testament


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Friday, July 25, 2014

CREATED TO WORSHIP

It is easy to see that you and I have been created to worship. We’re flat-out desperate for it. From sports fanaticism to celebrity tabloids to all the other strange sorts of voyeurisms now normative in our culture, we evidence that we were created to look at something beyond ourselves and marvel at it, desire it, like it with zeal, and love it with affection. Our thoughts, our desires, and our behaviors are always oriented around something, which means we are always worshiping -- ascribing worth to -- something. If it’s not God, we are engaging in idolatry. But either way, there is no way to turn the worship switch in our hearts off.

-- Matt Chandler in The Explicit Gospel


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Thursday, July 24, 2014

LOOKING AT SIN

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…" (Romans 3:23 NKJV)

Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish for spiritual things then it is sin for you, however innocent it may be in itself.

-- Suzanna Wesley


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ALREADY, BUT NOT YET

Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  (Mark 1:14b-15)

When we think of kingdom, we often think of place, but the kingdom of God is not a place: it refers to the reign of God, or God's in-breaking, saving activity. Eschatological living means envisioning life in light of the saving activity of God in our midst -- not only what He has already done, but also what He promises to do in the future. God's kingdom is not fully manifest yet; we live between the beginning and the completion.

-- Ben Witherington III in Christianity Today, October 15, 2012


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SPILLING OUT

Philippians is Paul’s happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious. Before we’ve read a dozen lines, we begin to feel the joy ourselves -- the dance of words and the exclamations of delight have a way of getting inside us. But happiness is not a word we can understand by looking it up in the dictionary. In fact, none of the qualities of the Christian life can be learned out of a book. Something more like apprenticeship is required, being around someone who out of years of devoted discipline shows us, by his or her entire behavior, what it is. Moments of verbal instruction will certainly occur, but mostly an apprentice acquires skill by daily and intimate association with a ‘master,’ picking up subtle but absolutely essential things, such as timing and rhythm and ‘touch.’ When we read what Paul wrote to the Christian believers in the city of Philippi, we find ourselves in the company of just such a master. Paul doesn’t tell us that we can be happy, or how to be happy. He is simply and unmistakably happy. None of his circumstances contribute to his joy: He wrote from a jail cell, his work under attack by competitors, and after twenty years or so of hard travelling in the service of Jesus, he was tired and would have welcomed some relief. But circumstances are incidental compared to the life of Jesus, the Messiah, that Paul experiences from the inside. For it is a life that not only happened at a certain point in history, but continues to happen, spilling out into the lives of those who receive Him, and then continues to spill out all over the place. Christ is, among much else, the revelation that God cannot be contained or hoarded. It is this ‘spilling out’ quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person.

-- Eugene Peterson’s introduction to the book of Philippians in The Message


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