Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…
Bible Reading

Grace falls - joy rises - love overflows

If you are going through the Bible Reading Plan for the year then today we come to 2 Corinthians 8. The apostle Paul is writing to Corinth regarding the Macedonians.

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Paul has already done in Macedonia what he is now doing in Corinth. He is taking up a collection for the relief of the saints, which we see in 2 Corinthians 8:4. This probably has to do with relief for the church in Jerusalem that was having some kind of crisis, and the other churches were helping them out. And Paul, while in Macedonia has something happen that just blows his mind. So in Chapter 8 we see that Paul is going to use the Macedonians and what happened as an example to the church in Corinth.

I am going to describe this in language that we have studied and I think to be consistent with the text in this chapter. We are being able to witness in these verses what happens when the seed of the gospel is planted in hearts that are fertile. Because we know that wherever Paul goes his message is the gospel. So now we are seeing what happens to a people when the gospel lands on them in the power of the Spirit.

The first thing we can observe is that what happened in Macedonia is due to the fact that GRACE came down.Continue reading…

Getting back to God's word

The name of our class is “learning and living the God-centered life.” One of the things I have consistently taught, going on three years is this, what we believe is manifested in how we behave. Therefore one of my main focuses in ministry over the past 13 years has been to ask "WHY" Christians don't read, study nor have devotions on a regular basis. As you read this email do a quick survey of your own Bible reading, study and devotion time in the last 3 years. Each of us has 10,080 minutes every week. Most Christians I have taught over the years understand the command that we are to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. However, when they do an honest review of minutes available as opposed to minutes actually committed to study, reading and devotion time, there seems to be a gap between what they know and what they do.

Therefore, one of the goals of this class is to get each of you into the word in order that the word can get into you! This point needs some further clarification. We live in the culture of America. Many live by a motto that goes something like this "if it's to be then it's up to me". Therefore when you tell an American Christian to get back to the Bible they think "I can do it, I will do and if you don't think I can then watch me". All that produces is a group of people that have a "DUTY" mentality and that is NOT my goal for you in our class this year. Instead my goal is that you would "DELIGHT" in picking up your Bibles each morning, to have a meeting with the living Lord Jesus as He explains His word to you.

I have found it helpful to look at several aspects of the "why" as it relates to Bible reading, study and devotion time. The first category I want to share with you are the main reasons I continue to hear as to "why" people don't study their Bibles. As you read would simply make a mental note if any of these reasons apply to you specifically. Now please don't be offended at my next statement. But Vance Havner, one of the great all time Baptist preachers, used to say "An excuse is the skin of a lie stuffed with a reason". So with all that said here we go.
1. The Bible doesn't seem relevant to my life
2. The Bible is confusing and hard to understand
3. I end up always feeling guilty when I read the Bible
4. I rely on my pastors and leadership to teach me what the Bible says
5. The Bible is boring to me
6. My life is hectic and I simply don't have time to read the Bible
7. The Bible is full of contradictions and therefore lacks credibility
8. I don't read period, not just the Bible but I don't read anything

From time to time I have dealt with each of these objections but let me go straight to the bottom line. ALL OF US MAKE TIME TO DO THAT WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO US, RIGHT? Therefore I am asking each of you to honestly evaluate what priority does God's word have in your life right now. This is one of the most, if not the most important question that you will every ask yourself. Because as we will see your answer to that very question will have eternal consequences. A pastor once said that when his mother gave him his first Bible she wrote on the inside cover "sin will keep you from this book or this book will keep you from sin". How true is that statement in light of Romans 6:23 that plainly tells us that the wages of sin is death. Continue reading…

The year 2011 - Comfortable or Convicted?

Normally I start out the first two weeks of January the same way every year. For lack of a better term you can call it "Bible 101." It simply exhorts the people of God back to the word of God, until the word of God gets back into the people of God. Therefore on Sunday I will cover two main components that I think are most needed for our community.

First, I am going to go over the Bible reading plan that we have in place for the 2011 year. As many of you may already know this is the Robert Murray M'Cheyne Plan. In this plan there are four chapters to be read daily. Two of the chapters are designed to be read and commented on as part of family devotions, while the other two chapters are designated for personal devotion time. At the beginning of my discipleship training in the late 90's I was introduced to Buck Hatch, a former professor at Columbia Bible College. This is what Hatch writes regarding the Bible;
What is more important to man than God? He is everything. To know God is the primary, pre‑eminent pursuit of any human. And how is he, man, to study, to know God? God has shut Himself up, as it were, or limited Himself in His revelation to mankind through the channel of the written Word of God ‑ The Bible. This is the only authentic, true text to which we may turn. Anything God has of Himself or His blessings comes from Himself immediately, directly, and only to a human being through this book, God's Word. Consequently, to know God is to know the Bible; to know the Bible is to know God. If God is all important, then His Word is all important. In other words, The Word of God is as important as God Himself. As far as mankind is concerned, this is true. A hunger for God will mean, must mean, a hunger for the Word of God. Therefore, one must immediately realize if God's Word is as important as God Himself (for by it we can know and understand God), then how we interpret God's Word is just as important as God's Word. We must know exactly what it says so that we may know exactly what God says!

My first Bible mentor pulled me aside on more than one occasion to remind me that a person can be no closer to Christ than they are to His word. We live in a very dangerous day in regard to the American Evangelical Church. The word of God in many churches gets only a topical or marginal treatment week in and week out. There is very little substantial feeding of the sheep and therefore the people of God are weak and malnourished. Let me use one small example among many that I have found in recent years.

In 2007 Granger Community Church lead by Pastor Mark Beeson reported that in a survey almost 60% of those attending thought there was more than one way to God other than Jesus.

Can you read John 14:6 (Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me) and interpret any other way to get to God? The point is the people of God have gotten away from the word of God. By the way in 2007 this was the 7th most influential in America with over 10,000 members. Even Bill Hybels the senior pastor at Willow Creek Community with 20,000 members agreed that after 30 years of ministry he had the biggest wake up call of his adult life. The wake up call was essentially that the Christians needing to grow and mature at Willow Creek, simply left the church do to a LACK OF BEING FED the word of God. Pastor Hybels solution, that he stated at their leadership conference was to get the people of God back to the Bible and prayer. Continue reading…