Monday, September 30, 2013

Skipping Chapters in the Bible

Do you ever skip chapters in the Bible? Do you ever feel "guilty" because you skipped some chapters? Well, there are time that I have skipped some chapters. I have to admit that it makes me feel a little "guilty." I try and tell myself that I might be missing something beneficial, but I find myself skipping over - 

...the people of Parosh, two thousand one hundred and seventy two; the people of Shephatiah, three hundred and seventy two, the people of...and so on and so on.

I am afraid that I found myself skipping  over some chapters in my daily reading just recently. I am reading the Old Testament on a two year plan. I have come to Ezra. I just couldn't force myself to read every word of chapters one and two.

I am truly interested in all of God's word including the Old Testament. I believe it also is valuable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction. I have read those "parts" before including the "begets" and the "begots." But I just couldn't force myself this time around.

So, I find myself feeling a little "guilty." I want to read my daily reading but you know how it is? Sometimes my mind doesn't want to stay awake long enough to work my way to the end those "not-so-interesting" chapters.

Do you ever skip those type of chapters? Does that ever make you feel guilty? Do you just "power-through" and "get r done?"

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Perfect Plan of Providence Part 3

The Perfect Plan of Providence
Part 3
Romans 1:16-17

1A  The Saving Power of God

       1B  Paul’s Extraordinary Statement  (VS-16)

              1C  The World Ridicules the gospel

              2C   The World Rejects the gospel

                       1D  Because of its message- man needs a savior
                       2D  Because of its meaning- it's a fact vs theory
                       3D  Because of its misalignment - opposite world
                       4D  Because of its mission - to redeem

       2B  Paul’s Explanatory Statement  (VSS 16-17)

              1C  The Gospel is good news

              2C  The Gospel references salvation

              3C  The Gospel is the way of salvation

              4C  The Gospel is a powerful gospel

              5C  The Gospel is for everyone

                      1D  The chronological element
                      2D  The Jews need of salvation
                      3D   The gospel is the hope of all

              6C  The Gospel reveals God’s power

              7C  The Gospel contents are extraordinary

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Things I Like About Friday

1.  Friday is my "short day" 

     I can leave the office at 1:00 PM if I want to!

2.  Friday is my day to clean off my desk

     Everything is nice and clean for Monday!

3.  Friday means the weeks' work is finally done

     I can look back instead of looking ahead!

4.  Friday is "free for all" day

      I can work on what I want instead of my pre-planed agenda and schedule

5.  Friday is the day before Saturday

     Saturday is one day I can just goof off!

So, tell me, why do you like Fridays?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Importance of Prayer

"Well, you may try to do without Prayer Meetings if you like, but my solemn conviction is that, as these decline, the Spirit of God will depart from you and the preaching of the gospel will be of small account. The Lord will have the prayers of His people to go with the proclamation of His gospel if it is to b the power of God unto salvation; and there is no change in this matter since Paul's day! Jesus Christ is 'the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8)

Charles H. Spurgeon
Sermon 2358, 1894

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Surgeon and the Patient

In Belfast was a Doctor who had a friend who was a leading surgeon. The Surgeon's custom was, before performing any operation, would say to his patient: "Take a good look at the wound, and then fix your eyes on me, and don't take them off till I get through the operation." 

I thought at the time that was a good illustration. Let me say, Sinner, take a good look of the wound of sin and then fix your eyes on Christ, and don't take them off. It is better to look at the remedy than at the wound.

Taken from Charles Spurgeon's Lectures to my Students, p. 466

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How To Read Your Bible Part 8

Seven Steps to Successful Study

Read Supplicantly

First, of all please refrain from any snide remarks or criticism. The onlinedictionary lists it as a word. It defines it and spells it. And yes, it does begin with an "S." You know that is why I used it.

Second, I quite possibly should have listed this word first rather than last. Prayer is the most important part of reading the Scripture. However, prayer is first, middle, and last. As a matter of fact we need to be reading Scripture prayerfully the entire time we are engaged with a passage of Scripture.

The reason I listed it in seventh position is simple. As we encounter and engage the text, we need to be praying for the Holy Spirit's illumination as to the meaning of the text.

David prayed, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law." (Psalm 119:8, NKJV) We need the Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes and allow us to see the mysterious and deep things of God.

Also, as you read, you need to be praying that the Holy Spirit will enable you to worship God. Prayerfully reflect on what you have just read in order to answer the following questions: 
  • What sin do you need to confess and forsake? 
  • What action step do you need to take?
  •  What attitude do you need to develop or destroy?
  •  What do you need to remember from the passage of Scripture you have just read?
  •  What can you thank God for?
The bible was designed by God to be the basis for our prayers. The Psalms for example are actually the prayers of various people who wrote them and they now serve as guidelines for us as we pray.

So, read slowly, read sedulously, read systematically, read strategically, read studiously, read submissively, and read supplicantly.

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Read Your Bible Part 7

Seven Steps to Successful Study

Read Submissively

The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message" "Alter your course 10 degrees south." 

Promptly a return message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north."

The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am the captain!" 

Soon another message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am Seaman third class Jones." 

Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am a battleship."

 Then the reply came "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am a lighthouse."

In the midst of our dark and foggy times, all sorts of voices are shouting orders into the night, telling us what to do, how to adjust our lives. Out of the darkness, one voice signals something quite opposite to the rest--something almost absurd. But the voice happens to be the Light of the World, and we ignore it at our our peril.

When you read and study the Scripture, remember it is not merely an academic exercise. You must study scripture with the intent of submitting your life to its principles. This is the only way to have a viable relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the only way to have a quality of life that is built on eternal values.

As you study remember you must yield to the principles that you have gleaned as the Holy Spirit enables your study. There will be times that the Holy Spirit reveals major impediments in your life that need to be removed. As you yield to these promptings you will be made more into the image of your dear Lord and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, read slowly, read sedulously, read systematically, read strategically, read studiously, and read submissively!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Sin and Grace

Title:  Sin and Grace, The Works of John Owen, Vol. 7
Author:  John Owen
Published in:  Carlisle, PA
Publisher:  The Banner of Truth Trust
Published:  1965
Pages:  560
Genre:  Non-Fiction - Theological/Doctrinal
Binding:  Hardback
Price:  $28.00
ISBN: 978-0-85151-127-6

This book is a collection of three works of John Owen which dealing extensively with the topics of sin and God's grace. Those topics are The Nature and Causes of Apostasy, Spiritual-Mindedness, and The Dominion of Sin and Grace.

The first topic is an exposition of Hebrews Six, verses four through six. Owen's examines the causes or the reasons for what he calls "the decay of the power of religion in the world." Owen was compelled to address what he saw was a diminishing appreciation for biblical truth, the holiness of God and even of the gospel itself.

The second topic exposits Romans Six and verse six. Owen then goes into great detail explaining what he considers the duty of those who claim to be spiritually minded. Owen deals with the responsibility of the mind as it takes in and relates to the truths of the Holy Spirit. This section is broken down into two parts. Part 1 deals with the character of spiritual thoughts. Part 2 deals with the means by which God weans our thoughts away from worldly things to spiritual things.

The third topic of sin. More specifically it deals with the arena of where sin does it work. It also deals with the people that sin affects. The good news is that Owen deals with how we are delivered from sin by grace.

I found this to be a valuable book, full of biblical information. However, having said this I also found this book to be difficult to read. The topics are challenging as it is and Owen's attention to the minutest detail can addled the brightest of minds, let alone mine. 

Owen uses both Latin and Greek extensively to establish or supplement many of his points. There are very few footnotes (no end notes) for the reader to turn to for explanation. The brilliance of the writer is not to be criticized or even shunned, it simply needs to be taken into consideration. This read took me longer than his previous volumes and was taxing.

Owen is consistent in his conclusions and applications. He is an accurate exegete. His topics were needed then and they are needed today. The reader must take  his or her time to read and re-read repeatedly the work in order to benefit from the work. It is well worth reading. I recommend this book for anyone who truly wants to understand sin and how God's grace overcomes sin in our lives as we are made into the image of Christ.

 John Owen was a noted pastor, lectured before English Parliament on a number of occasions, and Chaplain to Ireland and Scotland. He was an adviser to Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector of England)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Death of a Vision

God often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He brings a death upon our feelings, wishes, and prospects when He is about to give us the desire of our hearts. 

John Newton, Pastor, 
Author of Amazing Grace

Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Read Your Bible Part 6

Seven Steps to Successful Study!

Read Studiously
THIS BOOK 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 traveller'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 object, our good is its 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 in the judgement, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
— Anonymous   
Finding the meaning to a particular scripture or determining proper application is not easy. Proper study is not for the faint nor the lazy. Paul told Timothy:

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV)

The King James Version which many of us are familiar with begins with the word σπουδάζω (spoudazo ) which was translated as "Study."

The key is to be very diligent and studious as you examine your passage.
  • look for repeated words
  • study the pronouns
  • look up words you don't understand
  • consult an atlas/maps for geographical places
  • study/mull passage until you know its primary meaning
Take your time and work at determining the meaning of a Scriptural passage. Don't forget a passage of scripture can not mean anything today or to you that it did not mean to the original author and recipients of the writing at the time it was written.

The Apostle Peter was very clear when he wrote, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation," (2 Peter 1:20, NKJV)

Study with all diligence to come to know the intended interpretation.

So, read slowly, read sedulously, read systematically, read strategically, and read studiously!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How To Read Your Bible Part 5

Seven Steps to Successful Study!

Read Strategically

For several years a lawyer and a doctor had regularly played golf together. They were evenly matched, and there was a keen sense of rivalry. Then one spring the lawyer's game suddenly improved so much that the doctor was losing regularly. The doctor's efforts to improve his own game were unsuccessful, but finally he came up with [ a strategy] an idea. At a bookstore he picked out three how-to-play golf texts, and sent them to the lawyer for a birthday present. It wasn't long before they were evenly matched again.

Take your time to read and re-read your section until you are able to picture what the author is saying. Develop a strategy that will enable you to interrogate or interview the text. Ask the text questions such as:

  • What do I observe happening?

  • What did it mean when it was written?

  • What does it mean to me today
In addition to asking questions, develop a strategy for cross referencing your passage for additional insight or "light." Include our center margins or study bible notes as part of our study strategy. Just remember if your bible has notes always be sure to read your bible from the top of the page (text) down (notes.) Don't read from the notes up to the text.

Develop a strategy for obtaining the best "tools" to assist you in bible study. If you were placed on a deserted Island with only your bible, your bible would certainly be enough. However, I dare say, you are not isolated on a deserted Island right now. Therefore stand on the shoulders of those who went before you and take advantage of the gifted people God has raised up throughout the centuries.

So, read slowly, read sedulously, read systematically, and read strategically!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How To Read Your Bible Part 4

Seven Steps to Successful Study 

Read Systematically


1. Of, characterized by, based on, or constituting a system.

2. Carried on using step-by-step procedures.

3. Purposefully regular; methodical.

"It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work."

--Thomas A. Edison

The problem with many people who maintain that they tried to read scripture and that it did not work, did not read passages slowly or sedulously. I have also discovered that they did not read bible passages systematically. 

You cannot pick up your bible on intermittent mornings, allow it to randomly "flop open" and then begin to read where your eye falls on the page. Nor can you close your eyes, allow the bible to flop open and stab a place on the page with your eyes still closed and your extended finger.

In order to effectively read the Scripture you must have a plan. But don't become confused when I say a plan. Most of you know that I do not recommend that you use an "annual reading plan" during your morning devotions.

Reading plans come with an inherent danger, particularly to morning devotions. Most reading plans have large sections or multiple chapters to be read in order to complete within a year's time. This is too much material to effectively meditate through. You need to take 8-10 verses and certainly no more than a chapter at a single sitting.

When using a reading plan it is easy to fall behind and then read like "the dickens" to catch up. Also it is tempting to read without thinking or understanding in order to check off the box of the current day's assignment.

Reading plans are great at some other point in your day. They are not very good during morning devotions. Try to refrain from using an annual reading plan during your devotions or quiet time.

However, do develop a system. I advocate you take time to pray and ask God to lead you by His Holy Spirit in an orderly or systematic plan.

For example:
  • You can read chronologically through either the Old Testament or the New Testament. 
  • You may desire to begin in the gospels. 
  • Perhaps you wish you read about justification, sanctification, adoption, or the end times. 
  • Maybe you want to read one of Paul's letters. 

There are no wrong places to read. Just wrong ways!

They key is to choose a book of the bible and read through it systematically. 

Where ever you choose to read, take a small section and work through it until you have mined all of the golden nuggets and exhausted all of its valuable treasure.

So, read slowly, read sedulously, and read systematically!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to Read Your Bible Part 3

Seven Steps to Successful Study

Read Sedulously

Willie Mays once said, "In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard...without one-hundred percent dedication, you won't be able to do this." 

When you set down to read a passage of scripture you must sit down with an attitude of dedication and diligence. A necessary ingredient in reading and understanding the bible is rock-hard commitment.

You cannot read the bible willy-nilly. Reading cannot be without great effort. In order to understand the bible you must be absolutely, completely, and totally dedicated to the desire to extract meaning from the passage that you have chosen.

The bible is a living thing. Hebrews 4:12 reads:

"For the Word of God [the bible] is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart." (Hebrews 12:4, NKJV)

Also, the Holy Spirit is your partner in the understanding of the bible. J. P. Moreland wrote in his book, Love Your God with all Your Mind,

"Because of the Bible’s nature, serious study is needed to grasp what it says. Of course, the Scripture contains easily grasped portions that are fairly straightforward. But some of it is very difficult, intellectually speaking. In fact, Peter once said that some of Paul’s writings were intellectually challenging, hard to understand, and easily distorted by untaught (that is, uneducated in Christian theology) and unstable people (2 Peter 3:16). Anyone who has tried to grasp the theological depths of Romans or Ephesians will say “Amen!” to that. The more a person develops the mind and the understanding of hermeneutics (the science of interpreting the Scriptures), the more he or she will be able to understand the meaning and significance of the Scriptures.

Unfortunately, many today apparently think that hard intellectual work is not needed to understand God’s propositional revelation to us. Instead, they believe that the Holy Spirit will simply make known the meaning of a text if implored to do so. Tragically, this represents a misunderstanding of the Spirit’s role in understanding the Scriptures. In my view, the Spirit does not help the believer understand the meaning of Scripture. Rather, He speaks to the believer’s soul, convicting, comforting, opening up applications of His truth through His promptings"

Because the bible is a living thing and the Holy Spirit is your partner, you absolutely necessary partner, you must approach the reading of Scripture sedulously, or with great dedication and diligence.

Rarely will a miner or prospector walk across seemingly impossible ground and step on a valuable nugget of gold. The gold is usually found after hard, back-breaking and dedicated effort to find a nugget.

Rarely will one find a "nugget" of scripture on the surface. Most are buried deep in the passage. Dedication to the task of reading is necessary to endure the hard work required to extract the payoff of meaning.

So, read slowly, read sedulously!