Thursday, January 25, 2007

Devotion to God

In Growing Your Faith, Jerry Bridges writes, “Devotion to God is not an activity; it is an attitude toward God. God is the focal point of the godly person’s life. He or she seeks to practice the presence of God, to enjoy fellowship with God, to do all things to the glory of God, and to see God’s name hallowed or honored on earth as it is in heaven.” (p 131)

We do not do devotion to God; we have devotion to God. It is a quality within us, an attitude of our heart, a bent deep down within us.

What does it mean to be devoted to God? Bridges sums this up as God being “the focal point” or a person’s life. This means God is at the center of a person’s life, the most important thing. He is on our minds, on our lips, and in our actions.

Is God the focal point of your life? Do you understand your need for him in the tasks at hand and the decisions you need to make? Do you comprehend your need for direction from his Word? Do you think frequently about God? Do you speak of him? Do you consider his perspective on the simple and complex situations in your life? Do you have a healthy fear of him?

As you consider this topic, please understand that we can always grow in developing a more God-ward mindset. Due to our natural sinful nature, no one is perfectly devoted to God. But we can grow in this area. In fact, this is part of growing in our Christian faith.

Consider today your heart. How can you grow in your devotion to God?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Our View of the Word

In his book Growing Your Faith, Jerry Bridges states, “One who delights in the law of God sees the Bible not just as a book of rules that are difficult to live by but as the Word of his or her heavenly Father who is the God of all grace and deals with him or her in grace.”

The Bible contains many rules and instructions for life. Many of them are difficult to obey because of the world we live in and the natural bent of our hearts. But the Bible is much more than a rule book. It is the very words of our eternal, sovereign, loving God.

Consider what it would be like to know all of the rules of the game of basketball but never play it. You would know you have 10 seconds to bring the ball up over half court, 3 seconds in the offensive lain under the basket, 5 seconds to pass the ball in bounds, etc… What if this was all head knowledge, but you never played the game of basketball and experienced the excitement and thrill of the game? I think this would be lifeless and lacking true joy for the game.

Viewing the Bible as just a rule book would be much worse. The Christian life would be about following the rules, checking off items on a to-do list, and staying in line. It would lack life and meaning. It would be far from the genuine Christianity God wants for us.

God is full of grace and truth. He has bestowed on us undeserved kindness in many forms – sending his Son to die for us, calling us to be his son or daughter, continuing to conform us to the likeness of his Son. He does speak the truth to us, love the truth, and outline the truth in his Word. Our God is full of grace and truth, and we need to be too.

Commit today to view the Bible as words from your Heavenly Father. Seek a vivacious Christian faith and life that is motivated by love for God and views the Word as God’s grace to you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who's Following Who?

“I find, very often, that the God I’m looking for is the God who follows me…But I fear the God who becomes concretely personal in Jesus, who confronts me with a start command, barren of option: Follow Me.” Mark Buchanan Your God Is Too Safe.

Two young children play, one the lead and the other following. Maybe the oldest game known to man, with the exception of tag. It’s follow the leader. But both of them want to lead and neither wants to follow. Call them type A personality or Alpha kids. Call them whatever you want, but don’t say they are playing follow the leader.

Biblical Christianity is about following first. We follow the gospel call of our heavenly Father and we repent of our sins. We abandon our former ways and our worldly goals and follow His standard for living. We read and absorb the content of Scripture, seeking to grasp his design for our living. He leads, we follow.

But this goes against our natural tendencies. How many of our mothers said, “Follow the crowd”? How many of our fathers dreamed of us being a follower when we grew up? From a young age, we have been warned against the dangers of following peer pressure and the masses. We have been pushed to lead, prodded to step out and stand up for righteousness.

Christ beckoned the disciples to drop their nets and follow him, which they did immediately and with joy. They followed him for three key years of training and instructions. Then they became leaders of the early church, apostles of the Way.

Christ extends his arms to us. We are the ones standing at the shores of the Sea of Galilee holding the nets. We hold our toys, our goals, our possessions, our pride. And he urges us to throw them down and follow him.

How long with our three years of training be? We do not know, but as we follow him we will grow in our love for him and our convictions will strengthen. He will prepare us for the day we lead others.

Following Christ, never leading Christ. Preparing to lead and follow other believers.

Book Recommendation

Recently I’ve been reading Growing Your Faith by Jerry Bridges. I highly recommend anything by Mr. Bridges, and I have found this book to be inspiring. It is a collection of chapters from previous books. He has written a good deal about spiritual growth in his other works, and NavPress decided to bring them all together in this one title.

Are you interested in understanding grace, living according to the Word of God, balancing personal discipline and dependence on God, growing in holiness, and trusting God? Then pick up a copy and begin reading it.

Mr. Bridges writes in a clear and concise format, and he draws his points from Scripture. I recommend this for anyone who wants to strengthen their faith and walk.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Evidence of Salvation

In his book titled Assurance, J.C. Ryle discusses the ways we can identify if a person is genuinely saved.

He asks, "How are you to know whether you have the Holy Spirit? What are the evidences by which a man may discern of the grace of the Holy Spirit in his heart?"

He then gives the following five answers:

Where the Holy Ghost is, there will be...
1. Deep conviction of sin, and true repentance
2. Lively faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior
3. Holiness of life and conversation
4. The habit of earnest private prayer
5. Love and reverence for God's Word

Our salvation is the most important issue of our lives. Our eternal destination is a stake.

I bring these items to your attention and ask that you examine the fruit of your life today to determine if you are genuinely saved. Probe your heart, look at the evidence in your life, ask others what they see, and determine if you are truly saved.

If you are not, today may be the day God is drawing you to himself. Acknowledge your need for a Savior. Repent of your sin and place your faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ. Believe in him.

If you are saved, take time to praise and thank God for his work in your heart. This truly is a miracle from your Heavenly Father, and he is worthy of your adoration.