Monday, January 13, 2020

A Reflection on Psalm 9:10

This morning I was reading Psalm 9, which is jam packed with amazing truths, but one in particular caught my attention. It is in verses 9-10..
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
  And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
For those of you who journeyed through the Old Testament with us in 2019, I hope it catches your attention too. It's the opening line of verse 10, "And those who know your name put their trust in you." His name? What does his name have to do with anything?

Well what is his name? If you go back to verse 9 it reads, "The LORD...". All caps means this is the personal name of the God of Israel - Yahweh. Now that we know the name let's plug it in: "And those who know your name - Yahweh - put their trust in you."

Here David reflects on the character (we might say the track record) of Yahweh. He has never once abandon his people or the promises he made to his people - think Joshua, Israel, the Judges, Ruth, Samuel, David, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.

So David declares those who know your name...those who know who you are...those who know what you have done...those who know how gracious and merciful you are...those who know how faithful you are...those are the people who put their trust in you.

Do you know him? If you do...if you really KNOW him...then you WILL trust him. And by the way we get to know him by digging in the Bible; by reflecting on Psalm 9; by reflecting on Mark 9 (both are our assigned reading for today).

Finally let me encourage you that whatever you face today YOU CAN TRUST HIM. He is faithful.

Monday, January 6, 2020

How Often Do You Need to Read the Bible?

Yesterday I issued a challenge to the Meadowview family to READ SCRIPTURE in 2020. We considered Psalm 1; Matthew 4:4; Job 23:12; Jeremiah 23:29; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:14-17. One quote that I intended to share was this one by John Blanchard:
Surely we only have to be realistic and honest with ourselves to know how regularly we need to turn to the Bible. How often do we face problems, temptation and pressure? Every day! Then how often do we need instruction, guidance and greater encouragement? Every day! To catch all these felt needs up into an even greater issue, how often do we need to see God's face, hear his voice, feel his touch, know his power? The answer to all these questions is the same: every day! As the American evangelist D.L. Moody put it, 'A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God's boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it. (Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 28)
This year - 2020 - focus on the God's Words. They are far more moving than anything you can watch on Netflix. They are far more encouraging and life-giving than anything you will find on Facebook or Instagram. Set aside the time, follow the plan (Mark 4; Psalm 4 today), pull out and focus on at least one truth from what you read, and finally create accountability - let's do this together.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Twelve Reasons Church Membership Matters

The following Twelve Reasons Church Membership Matters is taken from Jonathan Leeman's book Church Membership, which is part of the 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches series.

1. It's biblical. Jesus established the local church and all the apostles did their ministry through it. The Christian life in the New Testament is church life. Christians today should expect and desire the same.

2. The Church is its members. To be a church in the New Testament is to be one of its members (read through Acts). And you want to be part of the church because that's who Jesus came to rescue and reconcile to himself.

3. It's a prerequisite for the Lords Supper. The Lord's Supper is a meal for the gathered church, this is, for members (see 1 Corinthians 11:20-33). And you want to take the Lord's Supper. It's the team flag that makes the church team visible to the nations.

4. It's how you officially represent Jesus. Membership is the church's affirmation that you are a citizen of Christ's kingdom and therefore a passport-carrying Jesus representative before the nations. And you want your representation to be authorized. Closely related to this...

5. It's how you declare your highest allegiance. Your membership on the team, which becomes visible when you wave the flag of the Lord's supper is a public testimony that your highest allegiance belongs to Jesus. Trials and persecution may come, but your only words are, "I am a Christian."

6. It's how you embody and experience biblical images. It's within the accountability structures of the local church that Christians live and experience the inter connectivity of his body, the spiritual fullness of his temple, and the safety and intimacy and shared identity of his family.

7. It's how you serve other Christians. Membership helps you to know which Christians on planet Earth you are specifically responsible to love, serve, warn and encourage. It enables you to fulfill your biblical responsibilities to Christ's body (for example, see Eph. 4:11-16, 25-32)

8. It's how you follow Christian leaders. Membership helps you to know which Christian leaders on planet Earth you are called to obey and follow. Again, it allows you to fulfill your biblical responsibility to them (see Heb. 13:7, 17)

9. It helps Christian leaders lead. Membership lets Christians leaders know which Christians on planet Earth they will "give an account" for (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2)

10. It enables church discipline. It gives you the biblically prescribed place to participate in the work of church discipline responsibly, wisely, and lovingly (1 Cor. 5).

11. It gives structure to your Christian life. It places an individual Christian's claim to obey and follow Jesus into a real-life settling where authority is actually exercised over us (see John 14:15; 1 John 2:19; 4:20-21). It's God's discipling program.

12. It builds a witness and invites the nations. Membership puts the alternative rule of Christ on display for the watching universe (see Matt. 5:13; John 13:34-35; Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 2:9-12). The very boundaries, which are drawn around the membership of a church, yield a society of people that invites the nations to something better. It's God's evangelism program.

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, Jonathan Leeman, pg. 79-81.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Reading the Bible Obediently

Over the last couple of weeks I have posted some quotations, from Eugene Peterson's book A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, about reading the bible slowly. In this final post consider what he writes about reading the bible Obediently.
Obediently? We aren’t used to this. We have grown up in a culture that urges us to take charge of our own lives. We are introduced to thousands of books which we are trained to use – look up information, acquire skills, master knowledge, divert ourselves…whatever. But use? Well-meaning people have told us that the Bible is useful, and so we pick it up. We adapt, edit, sift, summarize. We then use whatever seems useful and apply it in our circumstances however we see fit. We take charge of the Bible, using it as a toolbox to repair our lives or as a guidebook for getting what we want or as an inspirational tract to enliven a dull day.
But we aren’t smart enough to do that; nor can we be trusted to do that. The Author of the book is writing us into his book, we aren’t writing him into ours. We find ourselves in the book as followers of Jesus. Jesus calls us to follow him and we obey – or we do not. This is an immense world of God’s salvation that we are entering; we don’t know enough to ‘apply’ anything. Our task is to obey, believingly, trustingly obey. Simply obey.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Reading the Bible Prayerfully

This is the third installment from Eugene Peterson's book A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, about reading the bible slowly. In this post consider what he writes about reading the bible prayerfully.
We are taught to read in order to gather information. Our schools train us to read books so that we can pass examinations. We’re good at looking for facts. ‘Knowledge is power,’ they tell us. Books contain stuff that we can use to get a degree, fix an engine, hold down a job, solve a mystery. But the Bible is not primarily a source of information; it is one of the primary ways that God uses to speak to us. ‘God’s Word’ we call it, which is to say, God’s voice – God speaking to us, inviting, promising, blessing, confronting, commanding, healing. The Bible is not so much God telling us some thing – some idea, some fact, some rule – as God speaking life into us. Are we listening? Are we answering? Bible reading is prayed reading. Long Obedience In the Same Direction, Eugene H. Peterson, 2000

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Reading the Bible Imaginatively

Last week I posted a lengthy quotation, from Eugene Peterson's book A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, about reading the bible slowly. In this post consider what he writes about reading the bible imaginatively.
Imaginatively. The Bible includes us, always. Our lives are implicitly involved in everything said and done in this book. In order to realize this we must enter the story imaginatively. We must let our conversations and experiences and thoughts be brought into the story so that we can observe what happens to us in this new context, through this story line, rubbing shoulders with these characters. We have picked up the bad habits of reducing what we find in the Bible to ideas or slogans or principles or out-of-context ‘verses.’ Forget the details; skip the mystery; we want a definition we can grasp and be comfortable with. We depersonalize the Bible into abstractions or ‘truths’ that we can reconfigure and then fit into the plots that we make up for our lives. But the Bible shows us God present and active in and among living, breathing human beings, the same kind and sort of men and women that we are. Imagination in the capacity we have of crossing boundaries of space and time, with all our senses intact, and entering into other God-revealed conversations and actions, finding ourselves at home in Bible country. (Long Obedience In the Same Direction, Eugene H. Peterson, 2000)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Introduction to Spiritual Gifts

On Sunday (April 8, 2018) we studied 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. In this passage Paul begins with a Spiritual Test. The Corinthians were gauging their "spirituality" on what gifts (abilities) they had received from the Holy Spirit (gifts like tongues, prophecy, mercy, etc.), and this was causing divisions in the church. So Paul offers this as a basis of spirituality: if a person confesses Jesus as Lord, they are spiritual. In other words any person who makes a profession of faith regarding the Lordship of Jesus, is "spiritual" because the Spirit of God indwells them and enabled them to make such a claim.

The second point Paul made was regarding the Spiritual Source. This was verses 4-7. But before we get to verse 7, which is the thesis of the chapter - we can't bypass verses 4-6 because they provide us with a beautiful Trinitarian statement that is full of truth.
Varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit
Varieties of ministry (service), but the same Lord
Varieties of activities (works), but the same God
The Greek term translated "gifts" is charisma, which means "grace-gift." These grace-gifts are what we call Spiritual Gifts. Grace-gifts are not something to brag about (part of the Corinthians problem), but rather something to be grateful for. The point we need to remember is we did nothing to deserve the gift in the first place, so where is boasting then?

Verse 7 teaches us that when we use our spiritual gifts we reveal the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches. They are supernatural abilities, with the ultimate aim of "building up the body." This phrase doesn't show up yet, but this is what Paul is getting at when he writes that our gifts are for the "common good." This comes with a couple of implications:
1. My gift is the churches gift. It is not for self indulgence. Following the service Nathan Piper suggested another way to consider this would be that my church family has a right to my gift.
2. Gifts are never meant to promote my own status or agenda. I am an empty glove, a tool, the Holy Spirit is the hand that accomplishes all the work. 
Finally in verses 8-10 we find Paul listing a sample of the Spiritual Gifts (also see 1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Romans 12, Ephesians 4), which we will discuss in detail in the coming weeks. Verse 11 offers the conclusion of this passage, by creating a bookend with verse 7. Both of these verses contain similar thoughts. Let me conclude by providing a few implications:
1. The Spirit is sovereign in distributing the gifts, therefore the recognition for the gifts belongs to Spirit.
2. No single person has all of the gifts, therefore we need each other.
3. The Spirit works in every Christian in the church, therefore no one is left with nothing to do. No member of the body is unnecessary or expendable.
In conclusion we (like the Corinthians) need to understand who we are as individuals and who we are as a group of believers - and these two things are interdependent upon each other. You cannot define yourself as an individual without including your membership with Meadowview Baptist Church. And Meadowview Baptist Church's description is not complete without describing the individual members that make it up.

I'm really looking forward to this study and as we continue forward would you join me in praying that you and the rest of our Meadowview family would come to know what it truly mean to "BELONG."