Thursday, April 10, 2014

How Paul Learned Contentment

Recently I finished reading Spiritual Depression: It's Causes & Cures by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. You'll hear more in my May Reading List post, but I wanted to share this particular part. He was talking about Philippians 4:11 where Paul says "for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content" and how Paul learned this contentment. Dr. Lloyd-Jones suggests that he reasoned it out like this: (see pg. 284-285)

  1. Conditions are always changing, therefore I must obviously not be dependent upon conditions.
  2. What matters supremely and vitally is my soul and my relationship to God – that is the first thing.
  3. God is concerned about me as my Father, and nothing happens to me apart from God. Even the very hairs of my head are all numbered. I must never forget that.
  4. God’s will and God’s ways are a great mystery, but I know that whatever He wills or permits is of necessity for my good.
  5. Every situation in life is the unfolding of some manifestation of God’s love and goodness. Therefore my business is to look for this peculiar manifestation of God’s goodness and kindness and be prepared for surprises and blessings because ‘His ways are not my ways, neither His thoughts my thoughts’. What, for example is the great lesson that Paul learned in the matter of the thorn in the flesh? It is that: ‘When I am weak then I am strong’. Paul was taught through physical weakness this manifestation of God’s grace.
  6. I must regard circumstances and conditions, not in and of themselves therefore, but as a part of God’s dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul and bringing me to final perfection.
  7. Whatever my conditions may be at this present moment they are only temporary, they are only passing, and they can never rob me of the joy and the glory that ultimately await me with Christ. 

Definitely some great reminders there! May we learn contentment as Paul did - looking to Christ and not being led or controlled by our circumstances.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When God says "Wait"

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried.
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, He replied.
I pleaded, and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, "Child, you must wait."

"Wait? Your say wait??" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why.
Is your hand shortened?  Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future, and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me 'wait'?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no', to which I can resign.

"And Lord, you have promised that if we believe, 
We need but ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
"I'm weary of asking: I need a reply!"

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, "You must wait."
So I slumped in my chair; defeated and taut
And grumbled to God; "So I'm waiting, for what?"

He seemed then to kneel and His eyes met with mine
And He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, darken the sun,
Raise the dead, cause the mountains to run.

"All you see I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust, just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me,
When darkness and silence was all you could see.

"You would never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of My comfort late in the night;
The faith that I give when you walk without sight;
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"And you never would know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that 'My grace is sufficient for thee.'
Yes, your dreams for that loved one o'ernight could come true,
But the loss! if you lost what I'm doing in you!

"So be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late, 
My most precious answer of still...wait." 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Themes & Key Verses of the BIBLE

Last month, I read through the whole Bible in a 31-day period. As I read, I tried to figure out the theme of each book, the character/attribute of God that was being portrayed and what the key passages/verses were (and no I didn't look at a commentary). This is what I found (books approximately in chronological order)…

Genesis – God as Creator and Sovereign Covenant Maker:
No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
- Gen 17:5-7

Job – God as the Infinite Almighty, Sovereign over suffering
"I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
 - Job 42:2-3

Exodus – God the Deliverer
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.     - Ex 20:2

Leviticus – the God who is Holy
And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.           - Lev 20:26

Numbers – God as Merciful Provider (21:8-9)
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.      - Num 21:8-9

Deuteronomy – the God who Loves
The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.    - Deut 7:7-8

Joshua – the God who is Faithful
Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.     - Josh 21:45

Judges – the God who is Judge (but merciful too!)
They forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.  
- Judges 2:13-16

Ruth – God as Redeemer
And he said, "Who are you?" So she answered, "I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative."       - Ruth 3:9

1 Samuel – God as rightful King
And the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day--with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also."    - 1 Sam 8:7-8

2 Samuel – God the Kingdom Builder (beginning with David’s reign over Israel)
“And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever."         - 2 Sam 7:16

1 Chronicles – the God who keeps His promises (David’s reign over Israel)
Then all Israel came together to David at Hebron, saying, "Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the Lord your God said to you, 'You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over My people Israel.' "    - 1 Chron 11:1-2

Psalms – the God who is our Refuge
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…           - Psalms 46:1-2

Proverbs – God as the Source of Wisdom
For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding…
- Prov 2:6

Ecclesiastes – God as the Source of Life’s Meaning
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all.              - Eccl 12:13

Song of Solomon – God as our Beloved
I am my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me.      
- Song 7:10

1 Kings – God’s Faithfulness to His Covenant
And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. Nevertheless for David's sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…            - 1 Kings 15:3-5

2 Chronicles – the God who hears prayer
"When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent… then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You.”           - 2 Chron 6:36-39
And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon.  Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.          - 2 Chron 33:10-13

2 Kings – God’s Longsuffering & Judgment
And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel…             - 2 Kings 17:7-8 (ESV)

Obadiah – God as Avenger of His people (against Edom)
 "For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.”
- Ob 1:15

Joel – the God who Restores
He will cause the rain to come down for you - the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.  “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…”         - Joel 2:23-25

Hosea – God as Faithful, Forgiving Husband
Then the Lord said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans."    - Hosea 3:1

Jonah – God the Compassionate One
“Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm…”
- Jonah 4:2

Amos – the God who Judges Sin
"You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."     - Amos 3:2

Micah – the God who Punishes and then Restores
I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.        - Micah 7:9

Isaiah – The God who brings Righteousness
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…
- Isaiah 61:10

Nahum – God as the enemy of Nineveh
The burden against Nineveh… God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; the Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies…            - Nahum 1:1-2

Habakkuk – The God who has the last word
But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him."
- Hab 2:20

Zephaniah – the God who lives among His people
The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save…
- Zeph 3:17

Jeremiah – the God of Vengeance
Shall I not punish them for these things?" says the Lord. "And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?              - Jer 5:9

Lamentations – the God who Weeps over Jerusalem
"For these things I weep; my eye, my eye overflows with water; Because the comforter, who should restore my life, Is far from me. My children are desolate because the enemy prevailed."           - Lam 1:16 (NKJV)

Ezekiel – the God who Warns His People
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me…”     - Ezek 3:17

Daniel – the God of Everlasting Rule
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end.
- Dan 6:26

Haggai – the God who has Zeal for His House
Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?"
- Hag 1:3-4

Zechariah – the God who Returns to His House (Jerusalem)
Thus says the Lord: 'I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.'   
            - Zech 8:3

Ezra – the God who Stirs Men’s Hearts
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom…
- Ezra 1:1

Esther – the God who Raises up Deliverance
“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
- Esth 4:14

Nehemiah – the God who Rebuilds
So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.
- Neh 6:15-16

Malachi – the God who is Worthy of Honor
For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations," says the Lord of hosts.
- Mal 1:11

Note: The first 3 Gospel’s were harder as they are very similar.

Matthew – Christ the foretold King
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.' "     - Matt 21:4-5

Mark – Christ, the suffering servant
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”     - Mark 10:45

Luke – Christ the promised Messiah
And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
- Luke 4:17-21

John – Jesus as God in the Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…        - John 1:1 &14

“I and My Father are one.”   - John 10:30

Acts – The God who Builds His Church
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.                - Acts 9:31

James – True Faith and the Christian Life
Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?     - James 2:22

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.     - James 3:13

Galatians – Salvation is through Faith alone (not by keeping the law)
…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
- Gal 2:16

1 Thessalonians – Encouragement to keep on living as to please the Lord
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God…
- 1 Thess 4:1

2 Thessalonians – Further encouragement to endure and walk worthy of the Christ
Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.       
- 2 Thess 1:11-12

1 Corinthians – The CHURCH: God’s Temple & Body
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?   - 1 Cor 3:16

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.       - 1 Cor 12:12

2 Corinthians – Our boast and hope is in Christ alone
But "he who glories, let him glory in the Lord."  - 2 Cor 10:17

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech…    - 2 Cor 3:12

Romans – The way from Death to the fullness of Life
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.               - Romans 6:4

Colossians – Christ, the fullness of God in us
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.           - Col 2:9-10

Philemon – Paul’s appeal on behalf of Onesiums (personal letter to Philemon)
I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains… I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart…   - Philemon 1:12

Ephesians – Believers are united with Christ by grace
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…           - Eph 2:4-6

Philippians – No matter what your circumstances, rejoice in the Lord
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!             - Phil 4:4

1 Timothy – Stay true, and encourage others keep the faith
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.        - 1 Tim 4:6

Titus – Trust in God, and do what’s right
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.       - Titus 3:8

1 Peter – Our unity in Christ through Suffering
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.      
        - 1 Peter 4:12-13

Jude – Defend the Faith!
…I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  - Jude 1:3

Hebrews – Jesus is Better!
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.      -Heb 8:6

2 Timothy – Paul’s last words to Timothy: Be strong, keep the faith to the end
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.     - 2 Tim 2:1-3

2 Peter – Warning to guard against false teaching
You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.       - 2 Peter 3:17-18

1 John – The evidence of true salvation
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.          - 1 John 5:13

2 John – Watch that you don’t wander from the truth
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
- 2 John 1:7-8

3 John – Don’t follow bad examples (a personal letter to Gaius)
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.            - 3 John 1:11

Revelation – The fulfillment of God’s Mysterious Plan
…there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.      - Rev 10:6-7

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reading List! (April 1, 2014)

“It is well to remember that reading books about the Bible is a very different thing to searching the Word for oneself.”   – Henry Ironside

Finished this month:

The Bible… yes, all 66 books!!!! It was a real commitment and a lot of reading every day, and sometimes I fell behind, but managed to find time to make it up. I followed the outline from The Reese Chronological Bible which is KJV, but except for some in the Gospels (because there it jumps around a lot) I pretty much read the section/chapters/books from the New Living Translation (NLT) (NOT to be confused with The Living Bible which is a paraphrase). The translation I actually prefer and normally use is NKJV, but I actually really enjoyed reading the through NLT; it gave some neat insight and it was kind of like reading through the Bible for the very first time. There are some spots of course that I didn’t think were translated well (no translation is perfect anyway!), but there were many where I thought it really helped the meaning/intent to come out. Oh, and the paragraph divisions are a lot better in certain spots than what I’ve seen elsewhere.

This of course was a really fast overview of the Bible, but it was really neat! I would recommend that everyone read through a chronological Bible at some point – it allows you to get a great perspective of the history of the Bible and what was going on at any one time. There were many connections I had not seen before. I will be posting something in the next few days of a summary of the books of the Bible – what I found to be the theme and key verse(s) of each book. I did my best to see the attributes, characteristics or intent of God in each book. I also highlighted passages in each of the Old Testament books that foretold or foreshadowed the Person and work of the Messiah. I posted that a week ago, but you can find it here. If you read the Bible and don’t find Jesus, you’re missing something!

And, as I mentioned last time, I hope this inspires you to be reading the Bible every day yourself… just start with one chapter a day. The Word of God really is life to our souls!

"You all have by you a large treasure of divine knowledge, in that you have the Bible in your hands; therefore be not contented in possessing but little of this treasure. God hath spoken much to you in the Scripture; labor to understand as much of what he saith as you can. God hath made you all reasonable creatures; therefore let not the noble faculty of reason or understanding lie neglected. Content not yourselves with having so much knowledge as is thrown in your way, and as you receive in some sense unavoidably by the frequent inculcation of divine truth in the preaching of the word, of which you are obliged to be hearers, or as you accidentally gain in conversation; but let it be very much your business to search for it, and that with the same diligence and labor with which men are wont to dig in mines of silver and gold."       
-   Jonathan Edwards

For my CCEF class I also read The Christian Life by Sinclair Ferguson.
This is a great and simple doctrinal introduction to what the Christian life is, and what it’s all about. It discusses new birth, grace, faith, repentance, justification, sanctification, our relationship with and fight against sin, adoption, union with Christ, perseverance in the faith, glorification and more! I love Sinclair Fergusons perspective and he has a great way of seeking to bring doctrine to meet our personal experience.

Favorite quote: “There is something seriously wrong with our understanding of Scripture if we regard [certain doctrines] primarily as a source of theological controversy.” (p. 19) The teachings in Scripture are there to bring us light and life!

Currently Reading:
Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes & Cures by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Additional books I want to read this month:
The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges
The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
And maybe start The Path of Loneliness by Elisabeth Elliot (it’ll be a busy month, so we’ll see!)