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Sep
4

Bible Study Struggles

By Paul David Tripp

I have a confession to make. It’s embarrassing and humbling, but I’m willing to make it publicly: I’m not always excited about reading and studying the Bible.

I go through periods of what I would call spiritual boredom, when the “old, old story” just isn’t very exciting to me. On my worst days, reading God’s Word feels burdensome to me, and my heart is motivated more by duty than worshipful joy.
When I hit these periods, there are 3 things I require myself to remember:

1. I Remember God’s Grace

One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is Isaiah 55. This chapter gives us visual picture after visual picture of God’s amazing grace, and because it does, it’s not surprising that the crescendo of this chapter is a visual picture of what the Bible is able to do in us and for us.

You’ll never find joy in Bible study until you understand that reading God’s Word is not first a call to duty, but an invitation to receive a wonderful gift. Your Bible is a gift of God’s grace that’s able to do what no other gift can do—change your heart and your life. Scripture really does have to power to turn thorn bushes into cypress trees!

2. I Remember Jesus

Reading God’s Word is much more than reading dusty, abstract theology, becoming familiar with ancient religious stories, or getting principles for daily living. You’ll never have joy in your Bible study unless you understand that it’s God’s invitation for you to commune with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In John 5, Jesus’ claims are questioned by people who are purported to be experts in Scripture. Christ says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).

Open your Bible and what do you encounter? Not a thing, but a Person, and His name is Jesus. Reading and meditating on your Bible is God’s means of welcoming you into daily fellowship with your Brother, Friend, Savior and King—Jesus.

3. I Remember To Remember

I’m so prone to forget God, forget his grace, forget my identity as his child, forget that he supplies all that I need, forget his unstoppable sovereign plan, and forget his eternal kingdom. When I forget God, I tend to put myself in his position and make my life all about me: my will, my feeling, my plan, my wants, and my needs.

Putting myself in God’s position always leads to spiritual dissatisfaction because the world was not created to do my bidding. So I need to be reminded every day of God’s awesome glory, his gracious presence in my life, and my special identity as his child. His Word was given so that day after day I would remember.

So, tomorrow, when you don’t feel like opening your Bible, remember God’s grace, remember your friend and brother, Jesus, and remember how quickly you forget. Pick God’s Word up not with the burden of guilt or as a call to duty, but because it’s a gift given to you by a God of amazingly tender mercy and grace.

 


This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

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Mar
13

One Another

By Jeffrey Krantz

“One another” is two words in English, but it’s only one word in Greek: ἀλλήλων (ah-LAY-loan). It’s used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses give instructions to the church, and 60% of those instructions come from Paul.

When you look at these verses, a few more common themes show up.
Unity. One third of the one-another commands deal with the unity of the church.

  1. Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
  2. Don’t grumble among one another (Jn 6:43)
  3. Be of the same mind with one another (Ro 12:16, 15:5)               
  4. Accept one another (Ro 15:7)
  5. Wait for one another before beginning the Eucharist (1 Co 11:33)
  6. Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another (Ga 5:15)
  7. Don’t boastfully challenge or envy one another (Ga 5:26).
  8. Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ep 4:2)
  9. Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Ep 4:32)
  10. Bear with and forgive one another (Co 3:13)
  11. Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil (1 Th 5:15)
  12. Don’t complain against one another (Jas 4:11, 5:9)
  13. Confess sins to one another (Jas 5:16)

Love. One third of them instruct Christians to love one another.

  1. Love one another (Jn 13:34, 15:12, 17; Ro 13:8; 1 Th 3:12, 4:9; 1 Pe 1:22; 1 Jn 3:11, 4:7, 11; 2 Jn 5)
  2. Through love, serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  3. Tolerate one another in love (Ep 4:2)
  4. Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Pe 5:14)
  5. Be devoted to one another in love (Ro 12:10)

Humility. About 15% stress an attitude of humility and deference among believers.

  1. Give preference to one another in honor (Ro 12:10)
  2. Regard one another as more important than yourselves(Php 2:3)
  3. Serve one another (Ga 5:13)
  4. Wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14)
  5. Don’t be haughty: be of the same mind (Ro 12:16)
  6. Be subject to one another (Ep 5:21)
  7. Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another (1 Pe 5:5)


Here’s the rest:

  1. Do not judge one another, and don’t put a stumbling block in     a brother’s way (Ro 14:13)
  2. Greet one another with a kiss (Ro 16:16; 1 Co 16:20; 2 Co 13:12)
  3. Husbands and wives: don’t deprive one another of physical     intimacy (1 Co 7:5)
  4. Bear one another’s burdens (Ga 6:2)
  5. Speak truth to one another (Ep 4:25)
  6. Don’t lie to one another (Co 3:9)
  7. Comfort one another concerning the resurrection(1 Th 4:18)
  8. Encourage and build up one another (1 Th 5:11)
  9. Stimulate one another to love and good deeds (He 10:24)
  10. Pray for one another (Jas 5:16)
  11. Be hospitable to one another (1 Pe 4:9)

Of course, Jesus and the apostles give many more instructions to the church; these “one another” passages are a good start, though.

Also: make sure you read these in context! These commands come from Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and James, and they’re scattered across the New Testament. Don’t just stop at this list: dig into these passages to see what the author was talking about.

One more note on the kissing: check out the cultural settings of these verses before planting one on your pastor’s cheek next weekend!


This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

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Feb
6

The Great Commission

The Great Commission accounts paint a complementary and fairly comprehensive picture of the mission of the first disciples. We can summarize this mission by answering seven questions:

Who?

Jesus gave this mission verbally to the first disciples, but it did not end with their deaths. As the Lord of the church, he expects his followers to carry out this mission “to the end of the age.” Their mission is our mission.

Why?

The authority for our mission comes from Christ. It is rooted in the Word of God and based on the Father’s sending of the Son. We are sent because Christ was sent, and we go in his name, under his authority.

What?

The mission consists of preaching and teaching, announcing and testifying, making disciples and bearing witness. The mission focuses on the initial and continuing verbal declaration of the gospel, the announcement of Christ’s death and resurrection and the life found in him when we repent and believe.

Where?

We are sent into the world. Our strategy is no longer “come and see” but “go and tell.” The message of salvation is for every people group—near, far, and everywhere in between.

How?

We go out in the power of the Holy Spirit and in submission to the Son just as he was obedient to and dependent upon the Father.

When?

The mission began at Pentecost when the disciples were clothed with power from on high with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The mission will last as long as the promise of Christ’s presence lasts; that is, to the end of the age.

To whom?

The church should make disciples of the nations. We must go to every people group, proclaiming the good news to the ends of the earth.


This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

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Feb
1

I Hate To Wait

by Paul Tripp

I hate to wait.
I have places to go
I have people to see
I have things to do.
I love me
and I have a wonderful plan
for my life.
I hate to wait.
I don’t like obstacles
in my way
or people that disagree
or processes that take too long.
I hate to wait.
I don’t like lines
or traffic
or delayed appointments
or tardy people.
I hate to wait. I wake up every day
with an agenda.
I know
what I want to accomplish.
I know
how I want it done.
I know
where I want it done.
I know
when I want it done.
I know
who I want to do it.
I know
why it has to be done this way.
I hate to wait
because
I’m the one having to wait.
I don't mind
that you have to wait
but I don’t want to have to
wait with you.
I hate to wait
because
I tend to put myself
in the one place
I am never supposed to be
and
I tend to want to be
the one thing
I should never crave to be.
I hate to wait because
I want to be
in the center of my universe
and I want to be
my own sovereign.
When I forget your plan
When I lose sight of your will
When I begin to think
that my life belongs to me
When I fall prey to
the delusion
that I’m wiser than you
and
my way is better than yours
Then I hate to wait
and
I curse the obstacles in my way.
But you are sovereign
and you are
Good
and loving
and gracious
and kind
and mighty,
filled with compassion
overflowing with mercy.
You bought me
with the price of your Son.
You forgave me
and the cost was his death.
For all my attempts
at independent wisdom
and self-sovereignty
the truth is
that my life doesn’t belong to me.
So
once more I fall to my knees.
Once more I open my hands
and
give my life back to you
and say
“You do in, with, and through me
what you think is best
and
I will follow
and when
your wisdom and grace
require it
I will be willing
to wait.”


This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

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Jan
29

Sunday School Begins!

This Sunday at 9:15am begins our 2014 Sunday School classes! Please meet in the new sanctuary where classes will go to their rooms together with their teachers.

This year we will live broadcast the adult Sunday School on Sermon Audio. Visit SermonAudio.com/grace at 9:15am if you are not able to make it out and watch the class live!
 

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Jan
24

"He has done all things well." Mark 7:37

by Octavius Winslow

Yes, from first to last, from our cradle to our grave, from the earliest pang of sin’s conviction to the last thrill of sin’s forgiveness, from earth to heaven; this will be our testimony in all the way the Lord our God has led us in the wilderness: “He has done all things well.”

In providence and in grace,

in every truth of His Word,

in every lesson of His love,

in every stroke of His rod,

in every sunbeam that has shone,

in every cloud that has shaded,

in every element that has sweetened,

in every ingredient that has embittered,

in all that has been mysterious, inscrutable, painful, and humiliating;

in all that He gave,

in all that He took away,

this testimony is His just due, and this our grateful acknowledgment through time and through eternity: “He has done all things well.”

Has He converted us through grace by a way we had thought the most improbable? Has He torn up all our earthly hopes by the roots?

Has He thwarted our schemes, frustrated our plans,disappointed our expectations?

Has He taught us in schools most trying, by a discipline most severe, and lessons most humbling to our nature?

Has He withered our strength by sickness, reduced us to poverty by loss, crushed our heart by bereavement?

And have we been tempted to exclaim, “All these things are against me?” Ah! no! faith will yet obtain the ascendancy, and sweetly sing:

“I know in all things that befell, My Jesus has done all things well.”

Beloved, it must be so, for Jesus can do nothing wrong. Study the way of His providence and grace with the microscopic eye of faith, view them in every light, examine them in their minutest detail, as you would the petal of a flower, or the wing of an insect; and, oh, what wonders, what beauty, what marvelous adaptation would you observe in all the varied dealings with you of your glorious Lord!


This post is part of our regular Think About It! series, where we bring you devotional thoughts from a range of authors.

Read post in blog section...

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