Friday, March 31, 2017

10 Questions to Ask As You Study The Bible

This post is going to be a little different from the usual here. I realize I speak often about the importance of being in God's Word, but what if one is at loss for effective ways to study it? Recently I read through this quick, 26 page long book, "How Should Teens Read The Bible?" by Joel R. Beeke, and I am going to share an excerpt that I think is helpful no matter what age you are.

Things to ask yourself as you read the scriptures:  

1. What does this chapter teach me about God?
Look for teaching about His attributes, attitudes, and actions.

2. Specifically, what does this chapter reveal about Christ? 
Look for Christ in all the scriptures, including the Old Testament. He is the key to, and the message of the entire Bible.

3. What doctrines are taught in this chapter?
Make a list of them with relevant quotations from the chapter and any cross references you may know.

4. Who are the leading characters?

5. What are the main events?

6. What sins and follies are stated or implied?
Examine your heart in the light of this list. Which things in the list, or suggested by it, do you need to confess and forsake?

7. What are the virtues evidenced in this chapter that I should seek after and cultivate?

8. What new things have I seen and what old truth has the Lord brought with fresh blessing to my heart?

9. What are the key words and phrases that call for further study?

10. Which one thing may I remember this chapter by?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Branded for Christ

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called..."  "Be imitators of God, as beloved children." - Ephesians 4:1 and 5:1
Like the soda bottles above are branded with the name of their maker, so we who are in Christ are "branded" as children of God. Each type of soda also has it's own particular traits, causing it to stand out from the others. Even amongst a shelf full of knock-off flavors, everybody still notices the brand-name sodas, bold as ever. Could the same be said of us?
In a place filled with pleasant, decent, yet unbelieving people, do we still stand out as those who are adopted by God? Do we think about our heavenly Father enough to converse about him with our fellow believers and those who may happen to ask about our faith? Are we actively looking for the great things that He is doing in our lives and the lives of those around us? Do we know God well enough to be imitators of Him, or are we merely satisfied to follow our society's rules for being the same type of "good person" that everyone else is?
 We're bound to embrace our "brand". Consider which one you hold the hardest to.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trail of Danger

To one side of you there is a rock wall, to the other, a several hundred foot drop into a small, rocky river. One option will scratch you up, the other will likely end in many broken bones or even death. So, you keep to the skinny path that separates you from both fates, taking care to watch where your feet fall so that you do not slip. 

Hiking that trail felt like the perfect visual example of Proverbs 4:27, "Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil." Allowing yourself to fall to sin is as serious as careening down that trail in such a careless manner that you stumble over the edge. The only difference is that when you are swerving on the path of life, you often don't realize how close you are to falling until it is too late. 

How do we keep ourselves from harm? Let God's words in scripture guide our actions, illuminating where we ought to place our feet. How do your actions and lifestyle look in the light of scripture?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Burning the Idols

"The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God." - Deuteronomy 7:25

While we aren’t ancient Israel, the principal here is still an important one. It essentially breaks down to this: “Do not keep even little pieces of what is detestable to God in your life.” This can be easier said than done.

It is one thing to obliterate an idol made of wood or metal. Giving up an object like that can be done quickly, all at once. But what about the idols that we have in our lives? Our idols tend to reside in our hearts and minds- things such as obsessing over sports and celebrities, making money too high of a priority, or habitually lusting after someone or something. Anything that is either displeasing to God or elevated to a place in our life where we deep down want it more than we want Him is an idol.

False gods such as these are harder to rip from our lives. We can pray and confess to God the sins we’ve committed against Him, yet if we don't completely cease that action and destroy the idols, shards of them can remain in our lives and draw us away from the Lord and back to themselves.

Stop and think: are there parts of idols still tucked away in the corners of your heart?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Diligent or Slothful?

"Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth." - Proverbs 12:27

There are three big questions for us to ask ourselves as we ponder this little proverb:

  1. What are you doing diligently in your life?
  2. Is your diligent work in one area causing you to be slothful in other more important areas?
  3. What “precious wealth” will be gained from the activities we are most diligent in?

Upon first glancing at this passage, it is easy to let our minds go directly to the world of work and monetary gain. But there is another type of “precious wealth”; many times throughout scripture (particularly in Psalms and Proverbs) the love and knowledge of God is referred to in terms of wealth and treasure. In the end, that is the only type of “precious wealth” that will stay with us past the grave, and therefore, the most precious of all wealth we could gain.

Where does your relationship with God fall in the order of things you are most diligent in?

The Sunday-school answer we instinctually deliver is “God is at the top!” but take a closer look; is He really? Does He frequently occupy your thoughts? Does He take priority over everything else you need to spend time on in a day? Be honest. When I asked myself these questions, I had to admit, God often gets shoved to the “I’ll get to this later” list all too often.