Posted in bible, scripture, word

Favorite scriptures

I’m home with a high fever today and all that comes with it. I think it’s time to post something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Scripture, just scripture. What are some of your favorites? Here are a few of mine, and why.

These verses from the opening of John’s Gospel move me every time I read them. I don’t know why. They just do.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,a and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5).

Beginnings and endings, Genesis and Revelation, my two favorite books. How can one not love the majestic sweep of the opening lines of all of human history?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)

This verse is devastating to me. So much wasted flesh, so many to mourn. Such a holy God to worship. It’s a crushing yet wondrous verse that to me, dramatically shows the ease with which God moves within His plan to bring all enemies under His submission. For all the thousands of years of struggle, in but one moment, the angel finishes it with four devastating words; the earth was reaped.

So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:16)

And I’ll finish with something a bit more upbeat. I love this from Revelation because it is Jesus-centered.

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:2-5)

How about you? Post your favorite verses here. Let’s bask in the word and praise and worship the Spirit who inspired them, the God-Man who conquered and saves, and the God who is eternally holy.

Posted in discernment, expository preaching, Jesus preaching, word

Why emergent/liberal churches will never have the power of the first century church they want

“I want our church to be like an Acts 2 church.”
“Oh, Holy Spirit, come down in power and presence to us today.”
“The original church was the best, we should be like them. We can be like them.”

I hear and read comments like those a lot today. The liberal or emergent churches stand on stage with a fog machine and the praise band plays the same refrain over and over, millennials are swaying and hands are upstretched. They cry out for power and wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them in force. They crave ever more potent “experiences” and “power” and “anointing” as the early church seemed to have had.

And yet there is one critical ingredient that they lack, and in so lacking, they will NEVER have the power of the spirit that they crave. Can you guess what that ingredient is?

The word of God.

Preaching from the Bible.

Expository preaching in the power of the Spirit.

Teaching the people from God’s word.

Do you realize how much preaching from God’s word took place in the first century church? ALL OF IT. Jesus, (in Luke 24:13-35) Peter, Stephen, Paul…all preached the Old Testament and taught the new covenant as given to them by Jesus. Sermons, sermons, sermons. Expository preaching is what drove the first century church of Acts. Preaching. Much of Acts are recorded sermons preaching God’s word.

The book of Acts gives a unique glimpse into the life and practice of the early church. It describes the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2, the spread of the Gospel outside of Jerusalem in Acts 8 and to the Gentiles in Acts 10, how the church made decisions in regards to doctrine (Acts 15), and more.
The sermons recorded in Acts give us a window into the preaching ministries of Peter, Stephen, Philip, James, and Paul, along with the immediate impact those sermons had.
Below is a list of sermons preached in Acts along with a short description and reference for each are listed below. Not every passage below quotes the preacher’s sermon directly, but each passage will share something important about the content of the sermon or the response of the hearers. (source & chart below)

Many of these churches/preachers them tacitly or overtly declare expository preaching as old, dusty, and/or unnecessary. Or worse, some say it’s so easy it’s cheating. Yet such preaching is entirely necessary.

It is the preaching from God’s word that is the power. The liberal/emergent/millennials want power but they deny the vehicle that will bring them that power. They want wisdom but deny the only place where wisdom resides. They want Spirit power by bypass Jesus, who IS the Word.

From The Cripplegate, an excerpt from an interview with expositor Steven Lawson on the nature of expository preaching.

I believe that the Apostle Paul lays out the essentials of preaching in 1 Timothy 4:13 when he writes, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching.” 

In true expository preaching, there must be the reading of the text, the teaching of the text, and the exhorting with the text. Expository preaching informs the mind, ignites the heart, and impels the will. 

The supposed preaching that only instructs the mind is not a sermon, but a lecture. The supposed preaching that merely touches the heart is not a sermon, but a mere devotion. The supposed preaching that merely challenges the will is not a sermon, but a manipulation. True expository preaching must address all three aspects of the inner life of a person — mind, emotion, and will. Anything less, is not expository preaching.

Is your preacher more excited to read the announcements than to read the word of God? Or does he unashamedly proclaim the Word in power and truth?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

——————————

Further Reading

Six Characteristics of a Healthy Church

[hint: one of them is expository preaching]

Posted in bible, dunamis, state of the church, word

Jesus Vomits: State of the church 2015, Conclusion

State of the Church 2015, part 1
State of the Church 2015, part 2
State of the Church 2015, part 3

Four years ago I assessed the State of the American Church in a multi-part series, writing from my own perspective in my own opinion based on Bible prophesies and warnings. (The links are on the right sidebar, scroll down.) How is the American church doing now, four years later?

Four years is not a long time in an adult’s life. But in the church’s life, these past four years have been like dog years. According to this canine aging scale, a large dog’s age compared to a 4 year old human would be 34 years now since I wrote the last State of the Church essay.

It has been a whirlwind of satanic activity and visible decline since the last time I’ve had an opportunity to prayerfully discern the State of the Church.

What have we in America been doing these last decades? While some local churches remain true to the preaching and living out of the Word, in others, the organizations that call themselves church in America have even forgotten the Christian life is a battle! In other cases where there is a semi-real church, we’ve sent our saints to the equivalent of a tennis camp and think they are equipped for Godzilla!

Jesus had something to say about that:

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Japanese woodblock, 1890

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. (Rev 3:16, HCSB)

Well, we in America have to close up churches that are in reality just a tennis camp and we have to get real about the battle. We in America have to get into shape. Do we in America think that judgment does NOT begin in the House of God? Do we in the Bible Belt think that our suffering will be the lesser? Do we at whatever our location is believe that we can continue to coast along, carry debt, admire Rick Warren’s growth tactics, organize a ‘choose Jesus’ revival, and think we are doing something for God?

The battle in the church in America has passed a tipping point. Our battles are no longer Bunker Hill or Bull Run. They are Antietam. They are Iwo Jima. They are Pearl Harbor- with satan on the ‘winning’ spiritual side of each of those. For example, I have heard it explained that the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual marriage and considering it as a “right” was the equivalent to Roe V. Wade decision in 1973 legalizing abortion.

With that decision, Satan made a decisive military advance in polluting the culture. Yet always remember that God causes or allows everything to happen. Ultimately Jesus has won, but the battle rages in heaven and on earth between satan and God until The Day.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7), and

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17).

In the last essay I’d explored judgment beginning in the house of God. Now I’d like to look at “time”.

In verse 17 the word for time in Greek is kairos.

The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos was more linear and quantitative, and kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative. … Kairos is related to the Greek word kara (“head”). A kairos is a time when things “come to a head,” requiring decisive action. (GotQuestions)

IT’S TIME TO MAKE OUR STAND

What is the remedy for a weak and apathetic Laodicean church? For a weak and apathetic Christian? How do we make a stand? We need the dunamis power. This is a biblically important Greek word. It is used 120 times in the New Testament. Strong’s describes it as,

for the believer, power to achieve by applying the Lord’s inherent abilities. “Power through God’s ability” is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven (glorification). “Power through God’s ability” is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven (glorification).

In the Holman treasury of Key Bible words dunamis is further explained:

1890 ad for explosives company. Source: LOC

The Greek word for power is dunamis; it speaks of “potential power” and “actual power.” Our English word “dynamite” is a derivative. Everyone knows that dynamite is powerful, but God is more powerful. He can create things, while dynamite can only devastate.

Everything in creation has a certain amount of “power,” but God’s power is immutable. Animals have power. There is power in nature: the wind and storms, the thunder and lightning. People have the power to do good and evil. Rulers have God-given power and authority (Rom. 13:1). The Bible also speaks of the power of angels (2 Pet. 2:11) and of spiritual beings known as “principalities and powers.” Satan has also been given certain powers (Job 1:6–12; 2:1–6). But God is all-powerful (Eph. 1:19). In fact, “Power” is a name for God. Jesus said that the Son of man would be seen “seated at the right hand of Power” (Matt. 26:64, NASB).

God’s power was manifested in Jesus. This power was shown through Jesus’ miracles (Matt. 11:20; Acts 2:22); in His works of healing and exorcism (Luke 4:36; 5:17; 6:19; Acts 10:38). God’s power is shown supremely in His resurrection. Jesus speaks of His power to give up His life and the power to take it again (John 10:18), but the New Testament speaks most frequently of the power of God the Father shown in the raising of His Son from the dead (Rom. 1:4; Eph. 1:19–20). During the Second Coming, Jesus will be seen coming on the clouds of heaven with “power” and great glory (Matt. 24:30).

Meanwhile, Jesus is able to deliver people from the power of sin and death, from Satan, and from all the spiritual forces of evil (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10–18). Since the ruler of this world, Satan, had no power over Christ (John 14:30), he cannot have power over those who rely on Him. Those who believe in God receive power from the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:8), inner dynamo to live in His service (Eph. 3:16), power to be His witnesses (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8), and power to endure suffering (2 Tim. 1:8).

We also get our word dynamic from dunamis. The word always implies energy and power.

Some examples of the way this word was used in the bible are:

  • The Power that came and overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35)
  • The Power and authority with which Jesus dealt with the demons (Luke 4:36)
  • The Power given from on high to those told to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world. (Acts 1:8)
  • The Power in nature (Romans 1:20)
  • The All-surpassing Power that is in us (2 Cor 4:7, 2 Cor 12:9, Ephesians 3:20-21, 2 Timothy 1:7 &etc.)

John MacArthur explains the dunamis power in our lives:

You say, “Well, if we all have the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we have power in our lives? Shouldn’t we really move out in our lives?” That’s right, because Acts 1:8 says, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The word “power” is dunamis or dynamite. You should be literal dynamite. Most of us look at our lives and say, “I think I’m a dud. I keep lighting the fuse and nothing happens.

“Why, if I have the Holy Spirit, don’t I go anywhere?”
“Why, if I have all things that pertain to life and Godliness” 2 Peter 1:3
“Why, if I’m complete in Him” Colossians 2:10
“Why, if I have this power does nothing happen?”

And the question is simply answered because you’re not filled. It’s one thing to have the Spirit resident. It’s something else to have the Spirit dominant.

How does one get the Spirit to be the dominant factor in our lives? MacArthur explains some more. I won’t post all of it, you should read the transcript or listen to the sermon. But is it not a question of receiving some kind of Charismatic double dose of the Spirit to fill us. He continues by explaining from Peter’s life as revealed in the scriptures what it means to gain access to that Power. And then,

Being filled with the Spirit had the same result as standing in the presence of Jesus Christ. Do you know what it means to be filled with the Spirit? It means to live as if you’re in the presence of Jesus Christ. It is nothing different than a consuming and constant Christ consciousness. The mind that is centered on Him, the mind that gazes continually at His glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, will be changed into His image. That is why in Col. 3:16 it says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” You see? As the Word about Christ dwells in you richly, His presence becomes manifest in your conscious mind, and as His presence dominates your mind, the Spirit of God controls you.

The mind that is centered on Him, the mind that gazes continually at His glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, will be changed into His image. That is why in Colossians 3:16 it says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” You see? As the Word about Christ dwells in you richly, His presence becomes manifest in your conscious mind, and as His presence dominates your mind, the Spirit of God controls you. … It is simply Christ consciousness and, people, it comes from inputting the Word of God. It’s not a mystery. It’s not an emotion. It’s not an ecstatic experience. It is the feeding of the Word.

Once again the remedy turns out to be inputting the Word of God. This is where it always begins and ends. The stand we take in a darkening culture is having the sword of the Lord in our minds and hearts. The sword is the word of God. Dunamis/dynamite! Obedience, inputting the Word and prayer.As Dr MacArthur said,

the filling of the Spirit of God is connected with the Word of God.

We need it explosively, boldly, truthfully. Preachers and Teachers ignite this power by explaining what the Word means as the Spirit applies. We ignite it when we study.

Yet most Christians either lay people or teachers or preachers do not operate out of the power that they have accessible to them- the application of the Word via Holy Spirit which is dunamis. It’s why the American church is so weak. Or they operate out of a false understanding of the power available to them- like the Charismatics.

This clarion note is putting out a general call to every true American congregation to a higher understanding of the Word with more authority, seriousness, and boldness than the American church has seen in these last decades. But that general call does include us, every teacher at every local church and every preacher in our county, and every church in the state, and all the true denominations in the south…and…

Who do people say that I am? (Mark 8:27b)

We need the power of the Word for training up. We need to be strong just at a time when the American church is so weak. We need the dunamis power of the Holy Spirit working through the word to transform our minds. We need to see Jesus more clearly than ever for who He is. We need teachers and pastors who will explain the Word authoritatively and proclaim it unashamedly. We need Christians who will diligently and openly study the word in full submission to the Spirit. Anything less at this stage of history is sending Christians into battle with a tennis racket.

———————————

Further Reading

Answers in Genesis: Finding Our Way in Secular America

Secularization is proceeding quickly, and it’s not accidental. Strong forces are pushing it on us. As Union University professor Hunter Baker defines it, “Secularism means that religious considerations are excluded from civil affairs.”1 And as British writer Harry Blamires explains, that exclusion constitutes an “assault,” one which “takes the form of an attempt to relativize whatever is fixed, whatever is firm, whatever represents the absolute and the transcendent in the presuppositions on which Christian civilization has been built.”2

Masters Seminary Why I love the Church
In a short series of upcoming posts, I’m going to outline some biblical reasons I love the church. Let’s start with the first one today:
1. The Church Is Being Built by the Lord Himself



Posted in bible, illegal, tyndale, word

Memorizing Scripture: two systems to help you- ScriptureTyper and Scripture Memory System

Yesterday I wrote about an impact from the Supreme Court’s decision regarding homosexual marriage that has not been discussed much yet.

Why the SCOTUS decision means we must start memorizing our Bibles in earnest, NOW

The decision has already opened the floodgates of irrational hatred against Christians and anything related to Christianity, including Bibles and biblical material. People carrying or displaying Bibles, or holding Bible studies, are being challenged in schools, hotels, even private homes. The forces of this present darkness want to remove anything related to Jesus from public life, and eventually even from private life. Just ask anyone in China or North Korea. It will happen here, too.

Soon it will be either forbidden (like at work) or even outright made illegal to own a Bible. And yet we are living in a generation that despite having the greatest access to Bibles in any time in history, is the most biblically illiterate. Nowadays people don’t read their Bibles and don’t know what is in it. Soon it may be that they can’t read them.

OOPS! I accidentally dropped your bible in the mud! Scene from movie
Secrets of Jonathan Sperry where a teenaged boy is bullied for carrying his bible

How are we, or the next generation, going to witness to the truth if we don’t know it and have been denied access to it?

MEMORIZE IT.

I’d listed many verses which exhort us to know His word, have it hidden in our hearts and minds. Not only is the Word necessary for transforming us and in restraining us from sinning against Jesus, it is necessary to know so we can witness effectively.

I’d urged starting a Bible Drill in your church, homeschool group or afterschool club. I’d urged personal study directly of the bible and memorizing it diligently.

I’m the first to say that I’m lousy at memorizing bible verses. I barely remember my own life verses and favorites-

Life verse:

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

Life verse:

and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Favorite verse:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5, KJV)

I’d mentioned on Facebook about my #fail in memorizing verses. I do not want to be a hypocrite though, in exhorting for one thing on the blog and not doing it myself. I’m always conscious of doing myself what I call others to do. So a kind FB friend offered a valuable tip: she said she uses ScriptureTyper to memorize verses.

I do check out things before I offer them to you. I went to the ScriptureTyper site and created a free account and loaded 18 verses I want to memorize, and started. In addition to being totally free, it is pretty easy to use (I can’t speak to the download onto Kindle, Android, iPad or iPhone because I don’t own any of those). It is a good way to memorize verses and I like it very much. If you go to Amazon.com there are 65 reviews of it and they are uniformly good. Most of those are 5-star.

What you do is, simply load the verses you want to memorize onto My Verses page. Don’t know which verses you want to begin with? The site offers dozens of groupings such as verses on “Trust”, “Wisdom”, “Jesus” etc. They also offer a group of “Top 100 Verses.” It is a three-step method for memorizing, and once a verse is memorized the site keeps track for you of when you need to review a mastered verse in order to keep it fresh.

I like the advantage it gives busy moms and dads. You can use the App in car riders line, at the doctor’s office, at the ball field. Just take 5 minutes and practice one verse while you’re having those moments of time. I plan to use it during my lunch time. I eat at my desk where my computer is. At that time I usually pray and do a short devotional anyway. Folding verse memorization in for 5 minutes will be easy.

The saint who suggested the ScriptureTyper system testified to its ease and effectiveness of use. I do as well. Even given the limited time I’ve spent with it, I can see how this system can meld in easily to my lifestyle. I am never far from a device.

Another saint testified to a different system that does not use technology. It can be used in the family setting with children of any or all ages at once. It is Scripture Memory System at SimplyCharlotteMason.com. This memorization system uses a file folder and index cards, and is designed for best use with other people, such as parents with children, because it involves choral recitation.

‘The instructions and video at the site outline an easy-to-use system to help family members develop the habit of memorizing and remembering Scripture. By spending just five or ten minutes a day, you and your children can learn and retain hundreds of verses.’

Screen shot from Scripture Memory System instructional video

Either way, technology or index cards, alone or with family, the necessity of memorizing scripture has never been more important. During the first century church, the saints literally had no New Testament at their disposal. It wasn’t written yet. They had to wait for circular letters to be sent, read them in the assembly, and then pass them on. During the Dark Ages, scripture in the hands of the people was explicitly denied by the false Roman Catholic church. The Protestant Reformers gave their lives in many cases to write the holy scriptures in the people’s language and bring it to the masses. History records the travails of some of these men- John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Martin Luther, William Tyndale…men who brought the Bible to the people, at the expense of their lives in some cases.

The time is coming and may be now here, where Christians in America will have to make a stand for the Word of God. The time may be at the doorstep where possessing it in hard copy may mean we’ll be marginalized, bullied, persecuted, or killed. We have a hard copy now only because the aforementioned men stood for the Word of God. Will we make the same stand? William Tyndale did.

From Fox’s Book of Martyrs, the original language is so descriptive I’m quoting from it instead of the modern version-

Then Master Tyndale, as he was learned and well practiced in God’s matters, spared not to show unto them simply and plainly his judgment, and when they at any time did vary from Tyndale in opinions, he would show them in the Book, and lay plainly before them the open and manifest places of the Scriptures, to confute their errors, and confirm his sayings. And thus continued they for a certain season, reasoning and contending together divers times, until at length they waxed weary, and bare a secret grudge in their hearts against him.

Tyndale did not show them with his opinion or personal judgment, but from the scriptures. Isn’t that always the way, when you refute and confound the objectors with scripture, they become angry and bear a secret grudge.

As this grew on, the priests of the country, clustering together, began to grudge and storm against Tyndale, railing against him in alehouses and other places, affirming that his sayings were heresy; and accused him secretly to the chancellor, and others of the bishop’s officers. …

The bishops and prelates never rested before they had brought the king to their consent; by reason whereof, a proclamation in all haste was devised and set forth under public authority, that the Testament of Tyndale’s translation was inhibited-which was about A.D. 1537. And not content herewith, they proceeded further, how to entangle him in their nets, and to bereave him of his life; which how they brought to pass, now it remaineth to be declared.

William Tyndale is burned at the stake in Belgium in 1536,
from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

They “never rested” until the Bible was denied from the people and its bringer, Tyndale, was killed. Satan desperately wants us not to have it. This is why not only should we study it to show ourselves approved, but memorize for the day when satan temporarily wins his petty victory and removes it from our life.

At last, after much reasoning, when no reason would serve, although he deserved no death, he was condemned by virtue of the emperor’s decree, made in the assembly at Augsburg. Brought forth to the place of execution, he was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire, at the town of Vilvorde, A.D. 1536; crying at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice, “Lord! open the king of England’s eyes.”

Such was the power of his doctrine, and the sincerity of his life, that during the time of his imprisonment (which endured a year and a half), he converted, it is said, his keeper, the keeper’s daughter, and others of his household.

As touching his translation of the New Testament, because his enemies did so much carp at it, pretending it to be full of heresies, he wrote to John Frith, as followeth, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”

Geneva Bible, from Wikipedia

Tyndale’s plea to God to open the King’s eyes was heard. Two years after his death, King Henry VIII allowed the bible to be published and distributed widely. This was the Great Bible published in 1535. The Geneva Bible came next, had added verse addresses, and included study notes. The Geneva Bible was the version taken to America by the Puritans.

Wikipedia of the Geneva Bible: It was the primary Bible of 16th century Protestantism and was the Bible used by William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, John Donne, and John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. … Because the language of the Geneva Bible was more forceful and vigorous, most readers preferred this version strongly over the Great Bible. In the words of Cleland Boyd McAfee, “it drove the Great Bible off the field by sheer power of excellence”.

The King James version came in 1611. All thanks to a long line of men the Holy Spirit raised up who valued the Word and kept it primary in their lives, at the expense of their lives.

The Holy Spirit energizes each saint who absorbs the word. The Spirit of the sword of God which is the word of God is already implanted in us. Be ye transformed renewing of your mind! (Romans 12:2)

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Further reading

Timeline of English Bible History: 1400 AD onward

Fox’s Book of Martyrs (text online for free)

Posted in bible, encouragement, gideons, gideons international, word

Gideons hand out 2 BILLIONTH Bible!

Gideons International reports:

The Gideons International has just surpassed the two billion mark in distributing Bibles and New Testaments.

The distribution of the first one billion Bibles and New Testaments by Gideon members spanned 93 years (1908 to 2001). This second billion was attained in less than 14 years (2002 to 2015).

To celebrate what God has accomplished through this ministry, The Gideons are scheduling representatives of their membership to present a Two Billionth Commemorative Bible to as many of the leaders as possible in the countries in which they are organized.

The Gideons currently distribute over 80 million Scriptures annually, and the numbers are growing, especially in places like Brazil, India, and Asia. Through the efforts of over 300,000 members in 200 countries, territories, and possessions, The Gideons share more than two Scriptures every second of every day—in over 90 languages.

More Than Just A Number
As we rejoice in this two-billionth Scripture placement, we are mindful that the real significance is what the number represents.

“It is more than just a number,” says International President Dr. William E.G. Thomas. “We are placing Bibles because they save souls. Behind every number is a face, behind every face a story, behind every story a priceless soul that could live throughout eternity.”

The impact of these Scriptures can be seen through the many testimonies we’ve shared with you on this blog. These are real stories of souls saved and lives changed as a result of someone coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus through a copy of God’s Word provided through The Gideons International. And as the Lord is faithful to His promise in Isaiah 55:11, we can be assured that each Scripture placed touches a life, and often, many lives.

We Are So Grateful
We are also deeply grateful for the pastors, churches, and individual donors who support us through their prayers and gifts.

Most of all, we thank God, to Whom we give all the glory for each and every Scripture distributed, and for every soul saved as a result. Until He comes again, we will continue to seek His will in taking His Word to all the nations.

Please share this praise for our two billionth Scripture with your pastor, friends and family.

Would you like to make an impact right now? Click here to Give God’s Word.

Posted in bible, encouragement, refresh, word

And now a word from our sponsor: the Word of God

Saturday was a great morning and I’ll tell you why. Last week was the beginning of State Testing, it’s a demanding time for the kids and test administrators, proctors, and everyone else. Very stressful. On Friday I had a bad day after receving some news about a student. I arrived home Friday feeling beaten up, wrung out, run over, and cast off. I was wiped out.

Did you ever get home from a long week and your body just throbs? Pulses with stress and worldly pollution and reverberating with clanging and noise you just can’t seem to get out or clear your head? That was Friday night.
 
Satruday morning I slept late, always nice. (until 7:00 am!). I got my Bountiful Basket from a friend who who kindly picks it up for me in Athens when she goes to get hers, and we meet halfway between. I came home and roasted broccoli, butternut squash, orange peppers, and spaghetti squash. On BB weekends which occur every other Saturday, when I process the produce and cook, I listen to sermons. I enjoy Refnet, Reformation Network. It’s a 24-hour online radio station featuring expositional sermons, prayers from the Valley of Vision, music and hymns, devotionals, some talk on news issues from a Christian perspective, and plain old reading of the word, uninterrupted and unadulterated. It’s a great network. No ads, and it’s free.

So on Saturday morning while my hands worked, my mind was busy listening. I listened to three sermons on RefNet.fm while I cooked: Alistair Begg on David and Goliath (which is not about facing your giants but is about the might of God), RC Sproul on Mary’s Magnificat (brought me to tears), and John MacArthur on predestination in Romans 8, gorgeous.

Reformation Network: 24-Hour Internet Radio Committed To the Historic Christian Faith

As for the prayers, I heard one from the Valley of Vision that just about killed me, it was so beautifully written. Here is just part of it:

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be yours alone. Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in you, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of you as Savior, Master, Lord, and King. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in your Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from you. The Valley of Vision (Puritan Prayer)

When people are stressed or overwhelmed they do a lot of things. They work out. They go for a walk. They cook ;). They enjoy their hobby/game/movie. For the Christian, there is no better stress reliever than the Word. Read it or listen to it. I don’t know how to explain the supernatural advance of the Spirit in us, but when I listen to the reading of the word and sermons explaining the word and music that praises the Lord, it does something to me. It washes me from the inside. It restores me, cleans me, revives me.

After a few hours, my heart was expanded with love for Jesus, my head was full of scripture, and my belly was satisfied with food He had provided.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; (Psalm 19:7a)

he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Thy word. (Psalm 119:107)

for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29)

Power-
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Ephesians 1:19)

The reviving energy of the Word is part of the great power He bestows on us.

The word “power” (dynamis; cf. 3:20) means a spiritually dynamic and living force. This power of God is directed toward believers. Paul then used three additional words to describe God’s power. It is according to the working (energeian, “energetic power,” from which comes the Eng. “energy”) of the might (kratous, “power that overcomes resistance,” as in Christ’s miracles; this word is used only of God, never of believers) of God’s inherent strength (ischyos) which He provides (cf. 6:10; 1 Peter 4:11). This magnificent accumulation of words for power under scores the magnitude of God’s “great power” available to Christians.
Hoehner, H. W. (1985). Ephesians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 620). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

What a good and loving God we have. His word is eternal and strong, it refreshes, revives, strengthens, and enlivens. Don’t put off reading it or listening to it.

Before reading/listening to the Word

After reading/listening to the Word

Posted in discernment, truth, word

Discernment lesson: how satan twists the word

Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.” (source)

The word process is important. When you are justified (declared by God righteous at the moment of your salvation) you instantly become a new creature. Yet, you are also being transformed over your lifetime. The Holy Spirit grows you in this process, with your willing submission and partnership.

The part in the definition of sanctification about leading a holy life is important too. Part of that holy life includes wisdom and understanding of God’s word. Understanding His word is essential to growth because it is by studying it we come to know Christ. It is His revealed word to us, and it includes His character, His nature, and His will for us. Apostle Paul urges us to press toward the prize, the prize being Christ. How can we know who He is or how to press forward if we do not mature and understand His word?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

In researching the “Christian” mommy blogger Glennon Melton, I came across a longer quote of hers. She wrote a hypothetical letter to a hypothetical person explaining why homosexuality is OK now. How it is unloving to disagree with a homosexual lifestyle but mor emature CHrisitans evolve toward a more “loving”stance about it. Here is a shorter excerpt of that quote.

Your parents are Christians who believe that the Bible is inspired by God, just like people are. And since the Bible is a living thing, it is in its very nature to evolve toward becoming more loving.” ~Glennon Melton

I’m always amazed at the ways satan twists doctrines. Here, we see that the verse from Hebrews 4:12 has been masterfully twisted.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Let’s break it down. Satan is effective at melding a bit of truth to a lot of error or a lot of truth to a bit of error. Either way, the result is the same.

The word of God is living. We agree.
The word of God is active. We agree.
Active means change. The word of God, because it is active, must be changing (“evolving”). I disagree.
The evolving word of God must therefore be growing more loving, since the logical trajectory of evolution is from less to more. I disagree.

The fatal mistake here is that the word does not change. God does not change. WE change. His stance on sin has not changed from the first moments the bible was inspired and penned. Our understanding of His word changes as we grow. The writers of the books of the bible show us this in several places.

I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,” (1 Corinthians 3:2)

Here Paul is speaking to the Corinthians of their arrested development. Babies need milk because they are not ready for a steak until they have teeth, fine motor skills to cut and chew meat, and a digestive system able to handle the load.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,” (Hebrews 5:12).

Gill’s Exposition explains the above Hebrews verse–here it is used by way of reproach, and denotes levity and inconstancy, ignorance and non-proficiency, want of digestion of strong meat, and incapacity to take care of themselves, as standing in need of tutors and governors.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1)

So we see there is ample evidence that the living and active word causes a change in us, not the other way around.

It might be useful to take a look at the work of Jean Piaget, the Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher who worked with children. Glennon Melton’s view of scripture as evolving from less loving to more loving means that God changes. However the true view of scripture is that while it stays the same, our understanding of it grows as the Spirit grows us in sanctification. I know many of you have had the experience of having read a verse many times but then one day, in reading it again, suddenly all new insights flood your mind and you have at once a deeper understanding, Have the words themselves changed on the page? No. But our understanding of them has.

Jean Piaget worked with children for many years and created a theory of cognitive development. “Cognition is the process by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. In science, cognition is the mental processing that includes the attention of working memory, comprehending and producing language, calculating, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. In cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, cognition is typically assumed to be information processing in a participant’s or operator’s mind or brain. In cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, cognition is typically assumed to be information processing in a participant’s or operator’s mind or brain.

Piaget placed an order on a child’s cognitive development and structured them into age groupings. We all know children develop. We all know children’s brains become more able to handle greater and more complex functions as they grow. It is the same with us as Christians. We start our learning the elementary doctrines and have a more childish relationship with Jesus. As we mature, we deepen our understanding and add layers of experience and complexity to our relationship with the Father. Here is Piaget:

A Quick Summary of Cognitive Development

The Sensorimotor Stage: During this stage, infants and toddlers acquire knowledge through sensory experiences and manipulating objects.

The Preoperational Stage: At this stage, kids learn through pretend play but still struggle with logic and taking the point of view of other people.

The Concrete Operational Stage: Kids at this point of development begin to think more logically, but their thinking can also be very rigid. They tend to struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts.

The Formal Operational Stage: The final stage of Piaget’s theory involves an increase in logic, the ability to use deductive reasoning, and an understanding of abstract ideas.

It is important to note that Piaget did not view children’s intellectual development at a quantitative process; that is, kids do not just add more information and knowledge to their existing knowledge as they get older. Instead, Piaget suggested that there is a qualitative change in how children think as they gradually process through these four stages. A child at age 7 doesn’t just have more information about the world than he did at age 2; there is a fundamental change in how he thinks about the world. (source)

Can you see the parallels with how we interact with the doctrines of His word, with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and with each other? We don’t simply acquire more verses as we memorize, we develop in fundamental change in how we regard the Father as we experience His truths borne out in our Christian lives. This comparison is especially apt because we are children to the Father, no matter if we are 12 years old or 112 years old. He is renewing our minds, and we undergo fundamental change as the Spirit grows us into new creations. (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

I hope by now you can see two things:

1. How subtly satan takes a bible verse and twists it in the mind of an unsaved person such as Glennon Melton. It’s based on a truth and it sounds logical, but it isn’t either of those.

2. How God does not change but the Spirit changes us through the living and active word, with our partnership. It is a mystery on how we effect the changes or how far our efforts go in this glorious renewal, but we know we do have a part in it. We submit, we pray, we study, we appeal to the Father for wisdom. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Alongside within us, the Spirit is always working, to renew, transform, knit together a new creature whose finished product at the Marriage ceremony will be a glory unto Jesus.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, (Jude 1:20)

His living and active Word is evolving US into creations fit for heaven. Allow me to alter Mrs Melton’s lie into truth. A few well-chosen words here and there make such a difference. “You are Christians who believe that the Bible is inspired by God, just like people are when we submit to its precepts. And since the Bible is a living Word, it is in its very nature to evolve us toward becoming more loving.

None of our understanding of His word would be possible without our precious Savior descending from above to live with us, teach, be rejected, punished, scourged, die, and rise again. He is the supreme Person of the Universe, please give Him all praise and glory. Dedicate yourself to His words, live them, exclaim them, guard them.

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)

Posted in five solas, sola scriptura, word

How are we led by the Spirit? And how does that intersect with the Word?

There is a confusing position among some, that there is either obeying ‘only God’s word.’ Those who don’t are in effect ‘running around with a divining rod’ by listening to interior whispers, engaging in mystical practices, and elevating personal experience as equal to the word.

I agree that the holy word is the only benchmark by which we determine truth, walk in the world, and follow Christ. It is the sole inspiration for all we are and all we do.

Before I go on, I want to mention that I am fully aware that this kind of blog entry, an interior musing ripped open to the world, peppering myself with questions and meanderings, also exposes me to misunderstanding. So be it.

I’m puzzled by how far to take the strict stance of “only God’s word.” Stay with me.

Are we not convicted? Are we not led? Are we not burdened for people? I have pondered for a long time, the way that the Holy Spirit helps us. We know He indwells, and He is inside us. He is part of our biology. He transforms our mind and the mind is where the battle is. Many scriptures present these things as fact. So how does the Spirit transform us from craven, evil-thinking people into wholesome people with holy desires? Where does He begin and I leave off?

I am thinking of the how. I am strict on being in submission to the word, but then again, the word becomes absorbed in us and since it is living and active, we do have an inward experience. How does it all work?

In an example, there was a woman at church at Christmas, she was giving out five little bags of homemade jam to her friends and then she came over and gave me one also. I was amazed. I didn’t have any relationship with her to speak of. The small act of surprising generosity touched me deeply and kept her on my mind for 6 months. Our relationship didn’t really change but there was this jar of jam in my fridge and every time I used it I thought of her.

Well 6 months later we were talking about the jam. It came up because our relationship had blossomed by then in an unexpected way and for an unusual reason. I related to her how the gift affected me in such a good way. She said that it was funny, that when she had prayed, she felt strongly that she should give me one of the few jars, even though she didn’t know me really well either. We didn’t know that our relationship would turn to friendship months later, but the Spirit did. We both identified the jam as the beginning even though it took 6 months to start. Her gift was consistent with the bible, because we are supposed to give, but she had only five, so as to who to give her gift to, she felt led by the Spirit that it should be me. I believe that is where the intersection of the bible and the inward experience of the Spirit intersect.

I completely believe that the Spirit leads us in this way. Romans 8:14 says “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” So…HOW does He lead us? I believe He does this by putting thoughts into our mind, burdens on our heart … the fear of God into our knees.

Now, here is the difference, in my opinion, between ‘word of God only’ and ‘divining rod Christianity’.

First of all, I don’t wait for a sign. I do what the bible says to do: love my neighbor, give to widows and orphans, meet needs, help others. But in the specifics, when I ‘get a burden’ to do something to help a certain person, I pray and seek wisdom from the word. It could be a worthless personal desire, after all. For example some Sundays I get a strong feeling to stay home. I feel burdened that this is what I should do. But I don’t listen to that (most times, lol) because I know the bible says not to give up meeting regularly. The ‘burden’ or ‘thought laid on my heart’ was not consistent with the bible and would not be edifying to Jesus.

But if it is consistent with the word then I go forward. Our pastor who is also a counselor said last Sunday that there are couples who seek divorce for non-biblical reasons, and use the Spirit as their justification. “I felt the Spirit leading me into this divorce because He wants me to be happy.” Pastor said, “This is a lie. The Spirit does not lead you away from Christ and His commands but toward them.” So it is dangerous to be led by feelings.

The issue is, where does He begin and I leave off? He is inside me, after all, transforming my mind, instilling wholesome desires, and convicting me of my sins. This is an inward experience. It isn’t divining rod experience, but it is a legitimate inward experience that the Spirit is prompting me to help this person in particular. After all, I can’t help every widow in the county, it isn’t feasible.

But it’s important to check- is this act that I feel burdened to do, or say, or even think, consistent with the word? If no then it stops right there. If yes, then I go forward.

Now here is the intersection of Providence. I work in a fairly impoverished community in GA where there are many needy kids. Many are “orphans” in the sense that they are in foster care, or have only one parent due to illegitimacy or jail issues, abandoned and living with an exhausted grandma, or simply are in desperate need. There are 600 kids at our school and many thousands in the county. There are many single women here too, widows through death, abandonment (divorce) or simply are single and struggling. So the bible commands me to help orphans and widows. Can or should I help ALL of them? No, that’s impossible. Even Bill Gates with all his money can’t help every malaria patient in Africa, even though he is trying. That’s social justice.

The bible says to help. So how do I know who to help and when? The ones the Spirit leads me to. The ones where if I know of a need, I meet that need. If there is a widow in my sphere of church or work, the bible says to meet their needs. Same with orphans. If there is a widow or orphan within my reach that I don’t know about, I trust Providence to send people into her life to help her. Can I help every orphan in the school? No that is impossible. I help the ones whom the Spirit has sent me in the sphere in which He has planted me. I do my part to stay alert to needs and really listen and pray for opportunities. He makes me aware of them when they come along.

I have a range and a sphere and gifts. Thus equipped, I live out my faith. That’s it, it is simple. Just do what the bible says and listen for needs and act according to what the bible says we do. There is nothing mystical. Just Christian life. 🙂

This is kind of a crude visual but think of a dog chained to a stake. There is another dog chained other there. His leash is longer than mine, he has more range (more means, wider sphere). So the Spirit has planted me here, and sent people into my life and me into theirs. My job as a Christian is to be alert and aware of needs, listen for them, pray for opportunities to witness for Jesus through them. I can only submit, know that the Bible’s commands urge me to do, and listen to the leading of the Spirit as part of that living and active word to work out my salvation in fear and trembling within the range He has planted me and with the means He has sent me. For example, I don’t have a lot of money but He has given me a job where I have a lot of time. That is means. I can’t help everybody or interact with everybody or witness to everybody in the world or the nation or the county but the Spirit leads me within my sphere. Providence takes care of the rest.

Back to Romans 8:14 and being led by the Spirit. Pulpit Commentary remarks on the Christian’s ‘inward experience.’

In verse 14 is introduced a further ground for the assertion in ver. 13, the felt sonship to God of those who have so received his Spirit as to be led (i.e. practically actuated) by it. We say “felt” because, though in this verse the sonship is alleged as a fact, yet, in the following verses (15,16) the inward experience of true Christians is appealed to as evidence of such sonship.

I liked their phrase ‘practically actuated’. The actuation is my prayer and reading the word and submission. His is the enactment of ability and transformation of mind through knowledge of the word and practical actions with the word as the basis. I’ll never know where the two meet but I think it is important not to discount that there is the other half of the sanctification process where the word becomes actualized by an inward experience we can’t really explain.

I think the preachers we listen to who are so strict on this should be. It is charismania out there. People take this delicate balance of inward leading versus word of God to heretical extremes. Give them an inch and they take a mile. They wait to do anything at all because they ‘don’t feel led’. They proclaim private prophecies upon people. They use this inward leading or burden thing as an excuse to be busybodies, the opposite of the paralyzed Christian who fails to work out their salvation because they are still waiting to be led and too scared to make a move without a sign. Worse, they don’t do anything until they “feel a peace about it’ which is one of the stupider things I hear the people say.

Gill’s Exposition explains the Romans 8 verse this way

“the Spirit of God leads them from sin, and from a dependence on their own righteousness, in paths they formerly knew not, and in which they should go, in the paths of faith and truth, of righteousness and holiness, and in a right, though sometimes a rough way; he leads them to the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, and to the fulness of grace in him; into the presence of God, to the house and ordinances of God; into the truths of the Gospel, from one degree of grace to another, and at last to glory; which he does gradually, by little and little he leads them to see the iniquity of their hearts and natures, to lay hold on Christ and salvation by him, into the doctrines of grace, and the love and favour of God, and proportionally to the strength he gives:”

So it is ridiculous to deny that there is an inward experience. There is. But we needn’t worry if we are reading the word, desiring what God desires, and looking for opportunities in our lives to obey the commands of God. He does the rest. Like Nike says, Just Do It!

Posted in nerf, spiritual war, word

Playing nerf ball with the devil

I am old enough to remember when Nerf Ball was introduced to the world. Hasbro Toymakers had created a foam ball which soon was accompanied by a gun. When shot, Nerf guns emitted foam balls that hit a target but destroyed nothing. Millions of Huck Finns and Dennis the Menaces thanked Hasbro that no more windows and vases got broken. The foam ball would only bounce harmlessly off and nothing was destroyed inside the house or outside it.

It was 1970 and the Nerf ball was introduced as the “world’s first official indoor ball”. Marketing slogans promised that one can “Throw it indoors; you can’t damage lamps or break windows. You can’t hurt babies or old people.” By the end of the first year a million had been sold.

Hold that thought, about the Nerf ball.

We are under spiritual attack. Every Christian is a potential target for satan and his legion of minions. Satan lobs his own fiery darts at us. (Ephesians 6:16). He hates God and so he hates God in us. So he attacks. We are in a battle and cannot let down our guard for one moment. We have to “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” as 1 Peter 5:8 warns.

One of the ways we engage in the war is that when we are sober and watchful we guard our thought life. The weapons in our war are not physical. We don’t go forth with sword and shield like a gladiator and smite people.

In actuality WE are the weapon. If we remain vigilant and sober, stay in prayer, walk in His ways, and delve into the Word, we become sharp, internally. It is an internal thought-battle. We capture every thought—

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The main weapon we use against satan is God’s word (as a sword) and the main weapon satan uses against us is a twisted version of God’s word (as fiery darts). If we are internally honed as God’s weapon, when we speak of Him or share His word, being submitted to the indwelling Holy Spirit and being steadily regenerated in His image, then when we do speak Christ, the words are sharp.

The ultimate example of that, of course, is Jesus. Look what happened when He spoke:

“When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.” (Luke 4:30)

“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,” (Matthew 21:15). The word ‘indignant’ here in Greek means ‘to grieve much.’

“When the soldiers approached Jesus that night in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked if He was Jesus, Jesus answered “When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6).

And there are many other examples from the life of Jesus to illustrate the point. After His ascension, His word was powerful in the mouths of His disciples. Think of the wrath of the crowd when Stephen preached to the Pharisees and was killed. The wrath of the crowd at Iconium when Paul was stoned. The word of God is a sword that riles up wrath in the unrepentant.

But! It is also a sharp sword that pierces strongholds!

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).

Since the Christian life is a metaphor of an internal and unseen war, and the word of God is a metaphor for a sword as our weapon in that war (Ephesians 6:17), then here is a picture illustrating that.

When the Word goes out from a finely honed, disciplined, thought-guarded Christian warrior, the word will pierce the strongest armor, the meanest heart, the loftiest stronghold!

GraceLife Pastor Phil Johnson said in his sermon “Wisdom Guards the Heart,” to-
“control your thoughts. This is the whole point, and this is the area where the virtue of self-control is most important. This is the one area where your battle for self-control will be won or lost: your thought life. If you willingly and deliberately allow yourself to indulge in evil thoughts or wicked fantasies, what this verse says (Proverbs 4:23) is you’re filling the wellspring of your life with poison—and nothing is more self-destructive!”

Pastor Johnson continued, “One of the key verses in the New Testament is Mark 7:20-23, where Jesus said this, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man; for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.” Jesus said, “All these things come from within and defile the man.” He was answering people who had charged His disciples with eating with unwashed hands, and He was saying, you know, “It’s not what goes into you that defiles you, but what comes out of your heart.” You cannot entertain wicked thoughts without being utterly defiled by them. In fact, that is, is it not, the very principle our verse is teaching? “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit,” Matthew 7:18, “A contaminated well is unhealthy.” So, it’s vital to guard your heart and keep it from every kind of defilement.”

The more defiled you get, the less sharp the Word is from your mouth.

Just as the battle is internal, if you study up, guard up, pray up, and walk rightly, you will not be defiled. But if you’re polluted inside, what comes out of you will be ineffectual for God. Though you think you are holding a wicked crossbow and aiming squarely at satan, all satan sees is this:

He sees a child holding a Nerf gun. He says “Oh really?” and laughs because what comes out of the Nerf gun will only bounce harmlessly off him and roll away. Due to your polluted thoughts and defiled heart, your weapon has gone from this:

To this:

Except you didn’t realize how far you’d gone and how exposed you were when you waged into the battle. Guard your thought-life. Going from sharp word to harmless Nerf happens fast, my friends. Be vigilant, and repentant. Phil Johnson again,

“Scripture is full of this truth. God sees our hearts. If you would blush to have the secret thoughts of your heart made manifest for everyone in this room to see, you ought to tremble at the reality that God already sees those thoughts and knows them altogether. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Hebrews 12:14 adds this: “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” So, this is a vitally important matter. It underscores the desirability of guarding our hearts. An impure heart can ruin us for life and all eternity. There’s no advantage, frankly, to poisoning the wellspring of your heart. So, where do we go for a pure heart? I’ve already spoken of the utter impossibility of cleansing your own heart. What do we do with defiled hearts? Well, first and most obviously, we have to repent of the impurity…”

Repent. Guard. Resist. Flee. Because you don’t want to play Nerf ball with the devil.

Posted in bible, word

Verses that resonated with me this week. How about you?

I’m reading through Jeremiah right now. Well, ‘reading through’ is a bit of a misnomer. I intended to read through, but I can’t seem to get past Jeremiah 1 & 2 and I got stuck at one section in Jeremiah 23 for a bit. I keep getting stuck at the freshness of the verses and the application they make to my heart. I guess for a while I’ll be chewing on Jeremiah 1-2 as meat and not reading through in one swoop. I love meditating on Jeremiah as I ponder the truths there. The verses seem to applicable to today! There are three in particular that stopped me cold, and made me really think.

I don’t know if this happens to you, but I would be reading along and then I hit a brick wall at 60 mph. Even in trying to share how hard they hit me, words fail. The depth of spiritual application, the welling-up of personal emotion, and the hard mental stress I felt when the verses lit up my Spirit cannot be described. This is one verse that hit me:

#1– Thus says the Lord:

“What wrong did your fathers find in me
that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? (Jeremiah 2:5)

This verse is devastating when you think about it. God uses a rhetorical question to ask ‘what is the matter with me that you go after idols?’ It is rhetorical because, of course, there is nothing the matter with God. He is perfect. Therefore the answer should be clear. It is ridiculous to go away from God because there is no substitute. We know this in our heads, but the verse hit me in the heart. I prayed that I would not go away from Him in any way.

“for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.” 
(Jer 2:13) (source).
 Trying to carry water in a sieve…how sad to think of all the effort and work a non-believer would go through to attain a semblance of religious favor is pointless. The water will always run out. It does nothing except fall on  the ground, void. The point is stark: Jesus is the Living Water and His water refreshes and never runs out.

This next verse which gets me at the core of my Spirit is this one: the hammer–

“Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).

The Word has the power to shatter a hard heart. This truth both pierces me and sustains me. I hope that you have moments when you are reading the Word you come across a verse that really brings fresh illumination to its truths.

What has stopped you in your tracks lately?