Friday, March 19, 2010

God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

II Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

How do you view the Bible? If you are like me you probably have ten or more Bibles in your house and have read through most of the Bible many different times. You know the layout of the Bible, the stories of the Bible, and the facts presented in it. You believe godly men penned the Bible, and you know God helped them write it. Yet knowing the content of the Bible is very different than letting God shape your heart, your thoughts, and your actions through the Word.

II Timothy 3:16-17 inspires me to more deeply treasure the Bible. It is very words of God. He truly inspired the 40 different men who wrote various books of the Bible. He placed the words into their minds as they sat down to write or dictate the pages of the Holy Scripture. When I view my Bible as “breathed out by God,” I approach it with reverent awe, expectancy, and humility.

The Word of God has a purpose for our lives. It isn’t a quaint book for decorating a bookshelf or coffee table. It is a guidebook for the Christian life. It navigates our motives and speaks to our hearts. It comforts and encourages us. It describes the world we live in and the temptations we will face. It outlines the laws of God, which protect us and hem us in. It describes our triune God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And in all of this, it teaches us, reproves us, corrects us, and trains us, making us more like Jesus Christ.

For what purpose? The verse ends by describing the man of God who is “competent, equipped for every good work.” The NIV version states it this way, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God has a calling for each of us. The Word of God makes us competent and thoroughly equipped for the calling.

Thank you Heavenly Father for providing Your Word for us!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Steadfast Trust (Isaiah 26:3-4)

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts is in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4

What a promise! The Lord promises perfect peace to those who steadfastly—unwaveringly, faithfully, consistently—trust in Him. Those who trust in the Lord and do not lean on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) will experience direction from above. Those who lift out their requests to God, trusting that He will listen and provide for our needs, will experience peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). Those who lack wisdom and cry out to God, believing that He is the source of all wisdom, will understand the source of grace our Heavenly Father is (James 1:5).

As we surrender and as we trust in the Lord, He acts by keeping us in perfect peace.

It can be hard to trust God, hard to surrender to Him.  Here are three challenges for me: 1) I tend to quickly trust myself—my knowledge, experience, and gifts—instead of God, 2) I tend to trust others (especially people I respect) instead of God, who is the source of their wisdom and gifts, and 3) I do not directly see God or hear God’s voice, like I do with other people in my life. Do you find it hard to trust God?

Despite our struggles, God never changes, and He is completely worthy of our trust. Have you ever thought about why can we trust God? Think about his attributes: He is all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, just, and loving. He has always existed, always will exist, and never changes. Think about his actions: He created the world, made a covenant with the nation of Israel, came in the flesh as Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead, sent the Holy Spirit as a guide for us, and much more.

God has given us Scripture to guide us, encourage us, exhort us, and inspire us to trust Him. Read the Old Testament stories, and watch for God’s faithfulness to countless individuals and to the nation of Israel. Read the gospels and see the amazing life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and see God’s love for each of us. Read the book of Acts to see God’s hand in the early church, especially in the life of Peter and Paul, and understand God’s faithfulness to Christians.

Feed your heart and mind with the promises of God, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust the Lord more. Think deeply about the character of God, and understand why He is worthy of our trust. In the end, you will experience the perfect peace that results from steadfast trust in God.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why Obey God? (Deuteronomy 28)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you knew what God wanted you to do, but it was hard to obey?  Maybe your heart longed for something else or everyone around you acted in a way you knew was contrary to God’s standards.

Obeying God is relatively simple, yet can be extremely difficult.  It is relatively simple to know God’s standards, but it is often extremely difficult to make the right decisions and hold fast to His guidelines day after day.  This is especially true when the world around us lives according to a totally different standard of right and wrong.

So why should we obey God and His ways?

The book of Deuteronomy outlines many of  God’s laws for the Israelites.  Rule after rule and standard after standard are listed throughout the book.  Then in chapter 28 we are reminded that there are blessings for obedience and consequences for disobedience.

If the Israelites obeyed the Lord they were promised the following blessings:
1.      God would set them high above all the nations of the earth (verse 1)
2.      God would bless them (verse 3)
3.      God would bless their children, crops, and animals would be blessed (verse 4)
4.      As they prepared their food, God would blessed them (verse 5)
5.      Wherever they went, God would bless them (verse 6)
6.      God will defeat their enemies (verse 7)
7.      God would bless their land and crops (verse 8)

We do not obey God just to get blessing from Him.  He is worthy of our obedience.  In response to His unfailing love to us, we should love Him and seek to live in a way that honors Him. 

Yet this passage does remind us that we will be rewarded for our obedience.  Like the Israelites, we can anticipate God’s blessings that come through obedience.  This doesn’t mean there will be only blessings and no trials in our life, but it remind us that God honors those who obey Him.  He will even use trials to perfect us (James 1:2-4) and work all for our good (Romans 8:28).

Consider today the blessings that come through obedience.  Maybe this will help us all honor Jesus Christ and obey Him this hour, this day, this month.