Saturday, December 31, 2005

Have You Not Read

Have You Not Read?


Six separate times in the book of Matthew our Lord Jesus Christ asks those around Him, “Have you not read…,� expecting the people questioning Him to have “read� the Scriptures. Their questions to Him revealed their ignorance, while they thought their questions were displaying their knowledge. They were the theological scholars of the day and had, of course, “read� the Scriptures. However, there was something missing in their reading. “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.� (Hebrews 4:2) Just reading, just studying, just memorizing, Scripture does not in itself result in a true knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is only through faith that such knowledge is received. That faith is a gift from Him, when we purposely enter into relationship with Him. (Romans 12:3c)

With that in mind, we need to understand something wonderful about “reading� the Word within the context of a personal relationship. Many in “relationship� never read the Bible through. We read favorite passages, or passages for comfort, or for a Bible study. However, we have a tendency to excuse ourselves on the basis of grace, and never love the Lord deeply enough to really find out what He has said. Our relationship with our Lord is directly related to our relationship with His Word. If there is little involvement with Word, then there is little involvement with the person we worship.

There are three disciplines we are told to have in reference to the Scriptures. They are: read, study, meditate.  These disciplines are distinct and we often try to roll them into one time period. This will not be effective. We are to read. We are to study. We are to meditate. This will take separate time periods, and separate types of mind discipline. All three of these disciplines in the life will produce the fruit of a life in Jesus.

We see this demonstrated in Proverbs 2:1-5: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.� The chapter continues to reveal what awaits those who are serious about the Word of their God.
You will notice in the passage above that understanding, the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God are all linked to our reading, studying, and meditating on the Word.
He awaits our serious and disciplined encounter with Him, in and through His Word. If we seek Him, He will answer. The depth of our seeking is directly related to our depth of trust in His Word. Reading the Bible through in a year is a good way to develop such a seeking heart. In a brief 15 minutes a day, the Word can be completely read. Then the matters of study and meditation come much more easily and the blessings of wisdom, knowledge and insight flow in the life. Such is the treasure awaiting all who seek.
If you would like a reading schedule that will help you read the entire Bible through in 2006, please send your request to us at psalm19ministries@psalm19ministries.org and a reading schedule will be sent to you free of any charge. We want to help you begin a disciplined and serious reading of His Word in His love. Then when He asks our heart, “Have you not read…� our answer will be “yes, my Lord, I have read.�
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.






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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Always the Same

Always the Same



“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.� Hebrews 13:8

This passage of Scripture is one of those used by us in the Charismatic segment of the Church to teach that healing is for today. Indeed, I believe healing is for today, and using this verse to support that understanding does not do violence to the text. It is acceptable, for the concept of “sameness� holds true in healing.

Yet, when it was spoken in the book of Hebrews, healing was not the context. As one studies the Scripture, we find that the statement is between an instruction to imitate Christ-like leaders, and one of the caution not to be led away by strange teachings. So this seems like a strange statement made in that context. Yet, we see that it fits very well.

Jesus Christ is always the same. He does not vary. He does not change. He is consistent. He is not in a good mood one day and a bad mood the next. His instructions are not one way this time, but in another situation, you will find them another. The leaders who follow the Lord in their teaching and in their life-style are always the ones the Lord will urge His people to imitate. The teachings of the word do not change.  All the truth contained in shadow (symbol) form in the Old Testament is found in the fulfillment of reality in Christ Jesus. He is YHWH – the One true God. He is the embodiment of all that is holy and righteous and just. He is the love, the truth, and the grace. He is the same. He does not change.

Inconsistency, manipulation, condemnation – all are ways of the world to seduce God’s people into thinking that the word of the Lord has changed.  It has not – He has not. We can, in His power and presence, learn to trust that “sameness.â€�

Although we might be storm tossed by our circumstances and by people who demonstrate a lack of integrity, let us remember that following in the footsteps of Jesus we can develop in our hearts the “sameness� that His nature demonstrates toward us. In our prayer closets we are able to allow Him to convict us and change our interior landscape to be a reflection of His own. He is the One. He is the same.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Draw Near Listen

Draw Near – Listen

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.� Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

These words seem strange to us in today’s church world. We have so much instruction that teaches us to “…pour out your heart to God� Psalm 62:8b, that the instruction to measure our words seems contradictory and out of place.

The word of God is balanced, completely. Never is it out of balance. The instruction to measure our words and the instruction to pour out our hearts are both valid and both important. However, when any one truth is over-stated in our thinking, then we get out of balance, and become unaware of the total picture.  

We must not only pour out our hearts in prayer, we must also come to a point when we realize out hearts have been poured out, and poured out, and poured out. Now comes the time to measure what we say in order to listen. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.� Proverbs 18:2 Again the passage is encouraging us not to make our heart needs the primary focus in our conversation with others or with our Heavenly Father.

He desires to share Himself with us. He can only pour out His heart as we are willing to listen. Part of that listening is done as we read His word. Some listening is in quiet and stillness as we simply share in His presence and His moment. Prayer is an experience between two. It is a dialogue between our Heavenly Father and us. A one sided conversation between friends means someone is left out. It is the same in prayer.

Lord Jesus, we long to listen and hear Your heart. We choose to be quiet and allow You to speak in Your word, and in the quiet of our stillness.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Come Away By Yoursel

Come Away By Yourselves


“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.� (Mark 6:31a) These words of Jesus are very challenging in today’s world. He said this to His apostles during His earthly ministry when the demands of the ministry were so great that the Scripture says, “For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.� (Mark 6:31b)

Can you imagine the emotional stall the apostles must have felt? In full run, taking care of all the coming and goings of those in need and the demands of the crowd, and in the middle of all of that, Jesus says to drop it all and come away. Reason does not work with this. It makes sense to take care of the crowd. It makes logical sense to “make haste while the sun shines,â€� so to speak and do what the people need. Yet, the word of the Lord was to leave it all and rest. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of a very prosperous and flowing ministry, to just drop it all and retreat to quiet and aloneness.  What a strange request. Such a request makes no logical, reasonable sense.

Yet, it is the way of the Kingdom of God. The very basis of all Jesus does is “rest.� Not hustle and bustle. He knew there would always be those who had needs, and they would outnumber His apostle’s ability or stamina to answer. “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.� These words reveal the key to how God works.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.� (Matthew 11:28-30) The very essence of following the Lord is rest. His instruction to His apostles on that day was to “come away and rest.� It was to give them the time with Him to breathe, eat, and relax.

Remember, He longs for you to come away with Him, to allow the hurriedness of the day to fade, and to take a few moments to allow Him to nourish your heart and soul. He is always present to us, and we can draw near for that refreshing in just a few short moments of reflective rest. I have found it is in those spaces of “awayâ€� time that He speaks and makes His Word real in my being. It is then I am able to allow my “beingâ€� to be infused with His likeness.  

May your day be filled with His “away� moments.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Tuesday, December 06, 2005

According to Your Word

According to Your Word

Our Heavenly Father, in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One, through the Holy Spirit, has given us His Word to teach us all things about Himself, and about our relationship with Him. He has spoken and that “spoken ness� is recorded in the Scriptures. We can know Him personally and know what He is like. As we learn through the Word what He is like, we find our own path in life. Our minds, our wills, our emotions are all addressed in reference to strength, healing, and wisdom.

The following listing is just some of the richness stored for us in one Psalm. It is only a partial listing, even of this one Psalm, yet will give an insight into the treasure of His Word. As you read through the listing, notice the words and phrases underlined. Make a list of them, and notice the abundance of help that is available to each believer in His Word. He is truly marvelous!

Psalm 119 “…according to your word…�

(9) “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.�
(25) “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!�
(28) “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!�
(41) “Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise;�
(58) “I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.�
(65) “You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word.�
(76) “Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.�
(107) “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!�
(116) “Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,�
(133) “Keep steady my steps according to your promise,�
(154) “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!�
(156) “Great is your mercy, O LORD, give me life according to your rules.�
(169) “Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word!�
(170) “Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.�

May it become our prayer to have our lives empowered by His action through His Word!

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 05, 2005

MannaWord

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." In Matthew 4:4 our Lord spoke these words, originally found in Deuteronomy 8:3, to reply to His enemy about the source of His nourishment. The enemy had encouraged, in fact, challenged the Lord to make the stones near-by into bread "If You are the Son of God!" The Lord understood that the challenge was not really about His hunger. It was about His identity. Hungery or not, self-fulfillment was not what He was about. It was better to go hungry than to satisfy Himself to prove something.

He would be proved to be "Son of God," and His very reply went a long way to satisfy that claim. But His hunger was not about eating some regular bread. His hunger was about allowing His Father, God Himself, to be the one who brought was needed. The Lord Jesus did not prove to His enemy that He was who He knew Himself to be -- He just let him know He was stedfast in following the principles of God -- don't satisfy yourself -- let the Lord of your life become your satisfaction.

There are many occasions in our lives when we have the same opportunity, to eat or not to eat, to prove or to just hold steady in the principles of the Word. The Word is what will feed and the Word is what will nourish. Nothing else.

Let Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, be what He is in your life -- The Word. He satisfies and makes whole. "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God." John 1:1