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Archive | Scripture

STAR Bible Reading Program

Over the years I have used a number of Bible reading programs.  From choosing different books of interest to McCheyne’s classic plan to a consecutive Genesis-through-Revelation-in-a-year approach, when it comes to Bible reading plans I have either tried them or discussed them at length with those who have.

One of the struggles I have always had with reading programs is the guilty feeling that comes when inevitably a reading is missed.  Usually the first few times I try to make it up, but get distracted from enjoying the reading because I “have to” get caught up.  As my own personal reading rhythm is more inclined toward pausing and meditating on certain passages when I am touched by a truth, the need to check off a completed reading usually ends up frustrating me. Why does one of the sweetest means of grace have to have built-in legalism battles?

This struggle became especially acute a few years ago when I tried the 3650 Challenge (also known as Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Program).  This method has you read ten chapters from different places in the Bible per day (the 3650 obviously coming from the multiplication of the number of days in a year by ten).  At first I enjoyed reading from ten different places in the […]

Speaking to One Another in Song

If I’m honest, I think one of the downsides of being a pastor is that I don’t often get to sit in the pews. I know pews aren’t always the most comfortable and the sweat stains on the back of ours may cause some people to wonder why sitting in them would be such a blessing. But there’s something about standing side-by-side with the people of God as they worship. There’s a certain connection that can seem lacking when you’re standing alone at the pulpit.

I was thinking of this when I attended a funeral at our church a couple of weeks ago. I was able to sit in the pews; something I hadn’t done since becoming pastor. And it was a blessing. But what really left an indelible impression on me was the singing of the Psalms. The Apostle Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). The Puritan Thomas Manton observed that we sing Psalms primarily to glorify God, but also to mutually edify one another. He wrote, “It is not meant of teaching from the psalms, but teaching […]

A Sermon P.S.

This past Lord’s Day I preached from Psalm 51 on the subject of confession. The message was based on Psalm 51:16, “The sacrifices of God are a broken heart, a broken and contrite spirit, O God, you will not despise.”  My emphasis was how the Lord wants us to offer our broken hearts and sin to him as we worship, not as a precondition to worship.

Toward the end of the message, I was calling the congregation to look afresh at Christ’s work on the cross.  I urged them to see his love and mercy for them, and seek the deep heart washing David yearns for in the psalm.  At that moment I mentioned doing this with “besetting sins.”

Afterward, in the customary handshaking after the service, a wise, older gentleman greeted me.  He then expressed respectfully to me a desire.  He said he wished that I would have gone on to address the question as to what those with ongoing struggles with besetting sins should do.  My message could have been interpreted that there is an easy fix to a deeply-rooted problem.

I have been meditating on that wish further, as it was a good question.  How would I encourage the believer with a besetting sin?  Since I […]

How I Love Your Law!

Oh how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day!
Psalm 119:97

 

Let’s admit together that this isn’t easy. We are born with a predisposition against God’s law. To the natural man or woman, God’s law is like the brightness of the sun to eyes that have gotten used to the dark. We avoid it. Really, we hate it.

But it should be different now, right? For those who have been brought to new life through the Spirit of Christ, our attitude toward God’s law should be better than hatred and rebellion. And a lot of times it is: when we’re on top of our spiritual game, we really do love God’s law. But when we begin to slip in our spiritual disciplines, or when discouragement and depression come creeping, or when we refuse to deal forthrightly with our sins, or when we listen too much to the world’s hatred of God’s standard – this is when our love for God’s law wanes.

So here’s some help. Here are a couple more reasons to love God’s law that you might not think about all the time, a couple more arrows for your spiritual battle to hold onto that love. 

Westminster Conference 2014

Another post today to give you yet another conference series!  Listening to the messages in both of these posts could keep you busy for quite a while!

The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary hosted its eleventh annual Westminster Confession Conference this past weekend.  The subject this year was “The Law of God and Its Uses.”  The packed chapel at RPTS revealed a great deal of interest in this subject.

Below are the links to the messages.  Each session had a short question & answer period, so that link is included as well.

1. Conference Introduction by Jerry O’Neill

2. Not Under Law – Really?  The Law and Its Uses by Jack Kineer.  Q&A session.

3. The Law Leads Us to Christ: The Law and Its First Use by Barry York.  Q&A session.

4. The Law Restrains Evil: The Law and Its Second Use by Richard Gamble.  Q&A session.

5. The Law Guides Us in Gratitude: The Law and Its Third Use by John Tweeddale.  Q&A session.

6. The Heart of the Matter: Avoiding Legalism by C.J. Williams.  Q&A session.

This is My Father’s Word

Do you ever avoid certain passages of Scripture because they remind you so vividly of past sin?  You’ve confessed your sin, and you trust that God is faithful and just to forgive you of that sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). But still, certain Scriptures or sermons based upon them seem to reopen old wounds and to remind you anew of an old and deep pain.

We see something similar happening to Peter as he talks with Jesus following Christ’s resurrection.  Just prior to Jesus’s crucifixion, Peter faced three questions about his relationship to Jesus and he denied three times that he was the Lord’s disciple.  Jesus predicted that three-fold betrayal (Luke 22:34), and upon Peter’s final denial of his relationship to Jesus, the Lord looked at him knowingly (verse 61).  Peter saw the Savior’s stare and broke down, going out and weeping bitterly.

In John 21, the risen Jesus asks Peter his own series of questions about Peter’s relationship to him.  Several times in slightly nuanced ways, Jesus asks: “…do you love me?”  Though interesting, the questions’ nuances are not as important as their number:  three.  Clearly, Jesus wants Peter to recall his three failures to […]