Why Read the Bible Daily?

Believe it or not, everyone (even the most admirable Christians and Bible teachers) struggle to read the Bible daily. Desiring to read God’s Word does not come natural to anyone because desiring God is not in our nature. It is a desire we all have to battle daily to do. Reminding yourself why reading the Bible regularly is important is part of that battle. That’s why I found this article encouraging.

Five Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer

By Steve Fuller | Jan 14, 2013

Bible

Do you consistently seek God in the word and prayer? Or have you tried again and again, become discouraged, and given up? We are deep enough into January that this is the story for many us. Resolutions have began to stall. And even if you do get time with God, is it life-giving? Or is it just going through the motions, reading an assigned passage, praying through your list, and being relieved when it’s over?

It’s not too late to make some good changes. So if you are struggling to spend time with God, here are five promises that can help:

1. God Is My Exceeding Joy

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me … Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. (Psalm 43:3–4)

God promises to be your exceeding joy, not because of what he gives, but because of who he is. When we behold and worship him we have infinitely more joy than we have in anything else.

So why would we rather sleep in than seek God? It’s because we’re not trusting that God is our exceeding joy. So what can we do?

Don’t just grit your teeth and try harder. Do what the psalmist says — ask God to send you his light (the heart-enlightening work of the Spirit) and his truth (the Word of God). Then pray over promises describing God as your joy, like Psalm 43:3–4; Psalm 16:11; Matthew 13:44; and 1 Peter 1:8.

As you do, God will send his light and truth so you see and feel that he really is your exceeding joy. Then, when you see that infinite joy is found in him, you’ll want to spend time with him.

2. Hearing God’s Word Will Increase My Faith

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Many mornings I’m tempted not to seek God because my faith feels weak. But that’s like not going to the doctor because my body feels sick. Just like doctors heal sick bodies, so God strengthens weak faith, as we hear his word.

Weak faith is like a weak battery. But God’s word is a battery charger. So when your faith is weak, open his word, and plug in your weak faith. God promises that as you do that, he will recharge you.

3. God’s Word Is the Only Perfect Source of Guidance

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

The world is like a pitch-black cave in which we can’t see anything. But God has given us the high-powered flashlight of his word.

So if we head into our day without pondering God’s word, it’s like stumbling through a cave without turning on the flashlight.

But starting the day in God’s Word is like turning on the flashlight, so we can see the crevice to avoid, the rock to duck under, the turn we want to take. Don’t head into your day without turning on the flashlight.

4. When You Pray, God Will Answer

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

One reason we don’t pray is because we believe Satan’s lie that prayer does nothing. But that’s not what Jesus taught (Matthew 7:7).

Jesus promises that every time we pray, God will answer. He will either do exactly what we ask, or something even better, which he would not have done had we not prayed.

So if I start the day praying about my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry, then God will do things in my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry that he would not have done had I not prayed. Trust Jesus’ promise about prayer — and pray.

5. This Is the One Thing Which Will Not Be Taken Away

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)

Martha had busied herself in the kitchen, while Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word. And Jesus said Mary had made the right choice, because she had chosen the one thing which could not be taken from her.

Everything else can be taken from you. But time with Jesus will never be taken from you, because the heart you nurture for Jesus now will bring you increased joy in him forever. And ever. And ever.

So if you haven’t spent time with God, and you are tempted with the newspaper, Facebook, or a phone call, stop. Ask yourself: what will bring me joy that will never be taken away?

Then set everything else aside to join Mary at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word.

Tomorrow Morning

The alarm goes off.

I’m tired. Maybe just a little more sleep. But wait. . .

God is inviting me to exceeding joy.
His word will strengthen my weak faith.
His word will shine light on the darkness around me.
When I pray, God will work.
This is the one thing that can’t be taken from me.
I think I’ll get up.

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Gospel vs. Religion, part 3

Christianity without the compassion of Jesus is just empty religion. Mark 2:5-12 reveals that Jesus was concerned for people. This is one reason he healed. His compassion for others is a pillar of what real Christianity should be about. The gospel requires that we be concerned about helping people.

This passage says Jesus was home. I don’t know about you, but if someone busted a whole in my roof, I’m not sure I’d remain calm and help the. Even if you could tell me that the houses in 1st century Capernaum had roof access, like a sun roof or something, they still interrupted his sermon. The compassion Jesus had for others is striking. Without it, your religion is empty.

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Gospel vs. Religion, part 2

Christianity without faith alone in Jesus is just empty religion. In Mark 2, four men came to Jesus bringing to him a paralytic (3). That’s all we know. This man could not walk and his friend carried him on his bed to find Jesus. “And when they could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and…they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay” (v4). And Jesus saw something in these men…faith. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v5).

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TwoFour Meeting 4.14.2010

TwoFour Meeting
Wednesday night at 7:00pm Providence Church will meet for its first meeting in April 2010. We meet at the Buckingham Community Center off of Buckingham Road every 2nd and 4th Wednesday. We are beginning a series entitled “What is a Healthy Church?” The first topic: “A Christian and the Local Church: What Matters?” Hope you can come join us and bring a friend. Please be praying in advance as we seek to meet with God in prayer and the Word.

Heaven…Why It May Cost More Than You Think

It is common thought today, and has been ever since biblical times, that a man can earn or purchase heaven and its benefits. The most common expression of this idea is found in the notion that God grants access to heaven to those who earn it with good living. Behind this thinking is the belief that man is good enough to “deserve” or able to “earn” heaven.

This morning I read a vivid example of this in Acts 8 this morning. A man named Simon observed the gift of God being freely given to people who repented of sin and trusted in Christ. Simon saw the visible benefits these new believers in Jesus were given in God’s Holy Spirit. Seeing that Christians became beneficiaries of God’s presence and power through His Spirit when they believed, Simon offered the Apostles money in exchange for these benefits of God:

But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could ​​obtain the gift of God with money! “You have ​no part or portion in this ​matter, for your heart is not ​​right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, ​if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in ​the ​bondage of iniquity.” Acts 8:21-23

Today, as even then, people want to believe they can earn God’s gift (which ultimately is hope for eternal life in heaven). This gift comes with many benefits: forgiveness, wisdom for life, love for God and people, joy no matter life’s circumstance, peace, God’s presence in you. These benefits are the result of being made right with God. But most people who believe as Simon did, that this gift from God is earned, fail to see: God as perfect, themselves as sinners, Sin as worthy of everlasting punishment, and Jesus as the only sufficient remedy for a sinful person’s current standing before God (i.e. sin has ruined any good standing we had with God, so that without God’s gift, we are deserving of everlasting punishment.)

Consider the climax of the biblical story. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, is given by God in order to be killed in front of the entire on-looking world. The Bible says Jesus is by nature God (conceived in the womb by the Holy Spirit) and by nature Man (virgin born). He lived 30+ years without sinning even once. For these reasons, Christ is the only suitable payment to purchase the freedom of sinful people. This centerpiece of the Christian story, that God would sacrifice His Son to satisfy the debt caused by our sin, says everything about the seriousness of our sin debt and the price required.

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Books I’ve Read In 2009

In 2001 at the age of 25, I read my first legitimate book from cover to cover. I was not raised a reader. In fact, I hated reading! I only looked at books for pictures. However, things changed that year. That fall, I enrolled in school at a masters level for a seminary education at Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC.

Over time, with God’s help, I learned to become a reader. Then something happened. I learned to love reading. Today I sat down to reflect on what I have read this year, and plan on reading in 2010.

Right now I am reading…

The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
Bitesize Theology by Peter Jeffrey (This is a systematic theology book I am reading with my oldest child)
Hints for Parents by Gardner Spring with Tedd Tripp (Reading this with my wife Mary)
Souls in Transition by Christian Smith
A Church in the House by Matthew Henry edited by Scott Brown

Books I have read 2009…
Keep in mind I am reading motivated by a doctoral degree I am pursuing at Southeastern Seminary. I would much rather read fewer books that I spend more time digesting. Nevertheless, here are books I have read this year in two categories, Doctoral Studies and Personal Choice.

Read for Doctoral Studies in 2009:
The Forgotten Ways
by Alan Hirsch
Firefall
by Mcdow and Alvin Reid
Breaking the Missional Code
by Ed Stetzer and David Putman
Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age
by Ed Stetzer
The Present Future
by Reggie McNeal
Confessions of a Radical Reformission Rev
by Mark Driscoll
Total Church
by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
Rediscovering the Lost Treasure of Family Worship
by Jerry Marcellino
Thoughts on Family Worship by James W. Alexander
The Family at Church
by Joel Beeke
The Case for Family Worship by George Hammond
Your Family God’s Way
by Wayne Mack
Jonathon Edwards On Revival by Jonathon Edwards
The Spontaneous Spread of Home-Discipleship Christian by Henry Reyenga
The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball
Missionary Methods by Roland Allen
The Multiplying Church by Bob Roberts
Organic Church by Neil Cole
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
A Family Well-Ordered by Cotton Mather
The Strong Family by Church Swindoll
Parenting Isn’t for Cowards by James Dobson
Perspectives On Family Ministry by Timothy Paul Jones
Parent’s Concerns for their Unsaved Children by Edward Lawrence
Rite of Passage Parenting by Walker Moore
Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God with Your Children by John A. Younts
Teach Them Diligently by Lou Priolo
Raising Children God’s Way by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

Books Read by Choice in 2009:
Don’t get me wrong, the books above were books I wanted to read. The topic I chose for my doctoral research was my choice, but these books were read in addition to my studies…

Bible by God (finishing reading through it in a year for the 6th time)
What He Must Be by Voddie Baucham
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
Saved From What? by R.C. Sproul
Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism by Iain Murray
Why the Ten Commandments Matter by D. James Kennedy
Sticky Church by Larry Osborne
Young, Restless, Reformed by Collin Hansen
John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion Doctrine & Doxology edited by Burk Parsons
Dear Timothy edited by Thomas Ascol

Here is what I plan on reading in the beginning part of 2010:

Bible (starting a new “read the Bible in a year” plan)
The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul
The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever
The Shack by Wm. Paul Young
The Secret of Intercession by Andrew Murray
The Autobiography of George Muller

A good portion of my reading comes from recommendations from friends. What are you planning on reading? What could you recommend?

Are There Problems With Today’s Gospel? — Part 3

There is valid evidence suggesting reasons to doubt the life-changing effect the Gospel has in the evangelical church today, as I tried to note in Part One. Since I do not believe the problem is with the Gospel of the Bible, in Part Two I suggested the source of the problem may be with how we evangelize and disciple children today. Here, I will conclude with some thoughts on why our greatest problem may be with what we believe about, and how we communicated, the gospel.

I fear many people in America (in many cases with proper motives) have communicated the Gospel in a way that misrepresents the Gospel of the Bible. Because the church in America longs to everyone come to faith in Christ, Christians have attempted to make it easier to be identified with Jesus Christ, and in effect, created an unscriptural way to evangelize.

One example of an easy and unbiblical way to invite a person to Christ in our day is to present Christianity as a life enhancement. Today many  come to Christ because they were told they will have a fix to their  life’s problems or an improvement to life as they know it. Is the church right to present Christianity as a life enhancement?

Though to some extent true converts experience life benefits, never in the Bible are sinners invited to Christ by way of life enhancements. Fruits of the Spirit are indeed benefits to the believer. Yet, they only benefit us from a Godly perspective, not a sinful perspective (i.e. the perspective of the unconverted).

Some come to Christ believing “to be a Christian means life is better, more successful, and an answer to all life’s problems,” only to find in time that this is not true. Eventually they stop attending our churches, or they never really become more than an attendee, and they are eventually labeled “backsliders.”

Ken Keathley, professor of theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, believes salvation is offered as a commodity when evangelism methods use life-enhancement to draw people to Christ.[1] “Salvation is not a commodity,” explains Keathley.[2] He points to First John 5:11 as the basis for a biblical theology of salvation, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”[3] Keathley defines salvation as “the work of God that delivers us from sin and its penalty, restores us to a right relationship with Him, and imparts to us eternal life.”[4] Salvation is not a life enhancement; but a restoration with God through Christ.

The concept of salvation as a commodity reveals the motive of why people come to Christ. Under the commodity mentality of presenting the gospel, the chief motive behind a “decision for Christ” is because of some benefit or life enhancement added to the responder’s life through belief in God. Motive is paramount. If one comes to Jesus as the solution to all life’s problems, the need of restoration to Christ because of the penalty of sin is minimized, if existent at all.

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