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Archive for January, 2013

The Beauty of His Word

January 30th, 2013

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:5-6

God has given us His written word that we might know what to believe, and faith is possible only because He has spoken to us. Faith must always rest upon His promises and not upon our whims or desires.

We have faith in other things, of course. Many a man believes in himself, or in fate, luck, chance, or science, the benefit of money, the importance of protecting one’s health, the rightness of numerous political causes, etc. But none of these are specifically given us by God to believe in, and neither would we say that “every word” spoken about these ideas is true, nor that we could not add to them.

God on the other hand as set a limit to what He has said. He still leads us in our hearts today. He still impresses upon us some actions we should take. His Spirit moves to convict and to assure, to lead and to guide us in our daily lives. But we would not take these impressions and try to set them down in print, saying that what I have understood God saying to me personally would comprise His authoritative Word.

But neither would I need to, nor would I impoverish the believing community by not doing so. Jude informs us that the knowledge of the gospel, of what comprises our faith, was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). One of the first heresies confronted by the early church was whether other writings should be added to the Bible after the close of the apostolic period, and it was decided by the community of faith that there was nothing more to be added. The so-called “prophecies” that were uttered by some lacked the power and anointed presence of the Spirit.

We are wise to take this agreed upon understanding by these early Christians to heart, that the Words of God have a limit to them in number. Yet in so doing we find an unlimited depth of meaning and application to the words that we have. His Spirit has given us enough information to show us the way of salvation, to build us upon in our faith, to assure us of His grace, to inspire us in our Christian walk, and to challenge and correct us when we are wrong. So, we dare not add to His words, for in so doing we would distract from the power of what is already written for our edification.

I never cease to marvel at the majestic power of His Word and of His words. The words of the Bible are like an inexhaustible source of knowledge and encouragement, like a lake that has no end to its resources. Each generation throws down its pails to draw up the truths for their day, and we wash them over the shores of our lives and of our times, yet the source is not depleted. The more we draw, the more there seems to be still there. They protect us in times of temptation and trouble, they strengthen us when we would be weak, they direct us when we would doubt, and they comfort us when we are lonely and afraid.

They do all of this not just because of their power but because they always point us to God Himself. Beyond the words we see Him, and they lead us to trust and believe in Him.

Thank You, Lord, for entrusting to us the power, beauty, and pleasure of Your Word. Teach us its importance and value for our lives. Give us the pleasure of comfort and assurance from knowledge more about Your love.

Evening Devotionals , ,

Faithful to Feed

January 29th, 2013

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

Matthew 24:45-46

A pastor cannot read this without some sense of conviction about our obligation to feed the flock of God with the Word of God. We will be evaluated by our Lord on the basis of how faithful we were to proclaim the whole counsel of God to His people, to nourish their souls, to increase their knowledge, to turn them to the right way and from the wrong way, and to enlighten their minds with an ever refreshing call to obedience.

But this is the obligation of all of God’s people - this is our common calling. If we do not preach we are to still share and support the preaching of the Word, and not distract from it. Nothing can substitute for God’s Word in our lives and God will judge us all as to how we supported the proclamation of the Word. He will also judge us on how we allowed it to be proclaimed to our hearts, and how we searched out its truth in our private lives, as well as how we meditated on it and how we obeyed it.

The phrase “proper time” is also instructive - en kairo in the Greek of the New Testament. Kairos means not just time as the clock ticks or as the calendar’s pages turn, but it stands for the strategic moment that rises suddenly. This means that the spiritual food we feed should be relevant for the times in which we live. We should proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), but we should also be aware of the needs of people’s hearts today.

When hearts are tired and minds are sleepy, when the world distracts us from His truth, and when society itself seems to be going in an entirely different way, then it is that we believers must speak the truth and speak up for the truth of God. Hearts are truly hungry for this every fresh message, for in Christ and in Christ alone is there true and lasting hope.

God notices us when we stop our busy lives long enough to consider His Word’s message, to listen to its wisdom, and to seek to align our lives with its message. When we share it with others we also offer cool spiritual water to dry and parched souls. They will drink and be refreshed, and even brought to new life. Faithful are those who always lift up and proclaim His Word, and God will notice our faith and obedience.

__________

Living Word,

Who quenches my soul’s thirst,

I come as a beggar to Your stream

I come as one with scraped feet from the rugged rocks

Of disbelief in an uncaring world,

With hands whose flesh is torn

From a rugged climb upward,

With knees and elbows

Ripped and bludgeoned in my

Attempted ascent into wisdom.

And now I stand on the precipice that

Learning has lifted me,

Trying to find the stream source

And find it a windy crag

A tiny, slippery ledge

Amid confusing clouds that clutter the view

And do not satisfy the soul.

But then my gaze falls below

And sees Your grace flowing

To the valleys of humiliation.

The refreshment I sought comes

Only through grace flowing downward.

Along with others I kneel with scooped hands

Lavishing in Your abundance.

Some others might think me wise when

They see my scrapes and scars,

But what a fool I had been to so impoverish my soul,

And how much higher could I have climbed

Were I supplied with Your life.

The wrong was not to have scaled

But to have climbed to find Your grace

That runs so freely in the valley.

Now I kneel and hear the gentle bubble

So profound to my soul echo in my ears,

“Jesus loves me, this I know…”

Evening Devotionals , ,