All posts tagged: devotions

So I was talking with a friend of mine this morning for a second about something that I’m preparing for, and he said something like ‘what are you doing to prepare’, and I was like, oh I’m coming up with a plan. He typed back one word: pray. Uhhh, yeah… that stung.

I think those who consider themselves to be Christ followers can all agree that prayer is the highest priority in our lives. Our direct communication with God. Here’s what Paul (the first great missional leader of the church) said to a young pastor, Timothy:

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. (youversion)

I also imagine if you are a Christ follower, and we’re being honest here, (and you’re anything like me), that’s probably not our highest priority – if I weigh it in the scales of everything else I have going on in life. At least that’s what it seems like for me right now, in this season of my life. Read More

QuietTime.tv looks like a cool new use for web 2.0 & video. I know that I don’t get enough “quiet time” and when I’m in community with others, there’s cool things that come up that I would have never thought of. So I am excited about this. Go check it out today and here’s a little video explaining a little more in depth.

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Lots of us are struggling with this issue. There’s the “Fat Ragamuffintop Challenge“, there’s the weightwatchers, the nutrasystems, the “No More Fat Arse People in Ministry Weight Loss Challenge“, etc. There’s me – I’m trying to get back into shape, although my life has been crazy for the past month or so. I just thought I’d share some of what I read in Proverbs today. I love the simple truth’s of the Bible:

1 When you go out to eat with an influential person, mind your manners.

2 Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full.

3 And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite.

6 Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special.

20 Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat.

Just some “food” for thought. I love how the Bible can be so practical.

10:25am 06.01.08 (back on PST)

Church on the USS Germantown:

Well it’s Sunday morning, and for the first time in at least a year, I slept in. I wanted to go to the “Protestant Service” here on the ship, but it didn’t happen. Right now I am used to being busy making sure church is going off well, meeting new people, running around all over the campus but instead I am sitting in a little 2′ x 6′ floor space with my Bible next to me and the computer in my lap. Welcome to my church.

Proverbs 1 is the selection of the day (hey it’s June 1st). So here’s my thoughts:
– Purpose of Proverbs, to teach (wisdom & discipline, both of which I need).
– They will make the simple minded clever and give knowledge & purpose to the young. I’m fascinated by this because I do believe that I lean on the simple minded side. I’d like to think that I’m a deep thinker, and that I contemplate the social, theological and economical issues of the day, but in reality I don’t. I like things to be simple and to make sense – that doesn’t always work out though. I’m reminded of a quote by Einstein: “make everything as simple as possible, but no more”. I also love that the Proverbs are here to give us purpose and the author specifically calls out to the young, as if saying “if you are old and haven’t figured out your purpose – what’s wrong with you?”.
– Those who are wise? Proverbs will make you wiser if you only listen. Another huge one. If there’s anything I want to do as I get older and have more experiences and gain some sense of wisdom it’s to remain teachable.
– Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. How true. I’m afraid this is lost in the modern church. But surprisingly it’s not lost with modern people. I constantly hear people outside the church saying things like: “I hope God can forgive me for this”, or “God won’t forgive people like me”, etc. Even though that is far from true, I believe a healthy respect for the awesomeness and holiness that is God stems from a deep respect for who he is and and understanding of who we are (our depravity without him). Far too often inside the church we paint a picture of God, our best buddy, of God our big brother, of God our team coach, God Santa Clause, God the tooth fairy, God Mickey Mouse, God the genie in the bottle. We hardly hear of God the majestic, holy, righteous, divine, all powerful, all knowing, all present, who simply obliterates anything less than holy from his presence, surrounded by smoke and beasts and angels, worshiping him day and night forever and ever. Sometimes I think the modern church has neutered God, maybe I have. The point is, perception is reality in our minds – and a correct perception of God (a reality check) is the beginning of wisdom.

And that is enough for me to chew on today. As I look out on the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, just one of many, I am reminded of just how small I am, and just how big God is. I’m aboard a 600′ ship with 700 people. We’ve got guns & tanks, captains and seamen, the very highest and the very lowest – almost a little floating city. And yet we are a spec in the vastness of just this ocean, on a spec of dust (as Louie Giglio says) in the unmeasurable vastness of a universe that God created as a testament of who he is.

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing GodIndescribable, Chris Tomlin

Today has been a good reminder of who I am and who God is, and who I am not.

I got this article via email this morning. I used it as my personal devotion time. It springs from Jeremiah 9:23-24. I’m not sure if I’m breaking some kind of copyright infringement laws or what not, but I thought this was powerful stuff and worthy of your time, especially if you are a preaching/teaching pastor. I also went through and highlighted the parts that really speak to me.

Study to Show Yourself Faithful
Albert Mohler
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” ~~ Jeremiah 9:23-24
The life of the preacher is a life of study, and it has been so from the very beginning. The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to study so that he could present himself to God as an approved worker, “a worker who has no need to be ashamed” [2 Timothy 2:15]. This instruction came within the context of Timothy’s call as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word, and Paul’s instruction to Timothy is our Lord’s instruction to all who would preach and teach the Word of God.

A word of honesty is necessary at this point. Any honest assessment of the contemporary church would indicate that vast numbers of ministers serving Christ’s church are derelict in this duty. They are intellectually lazy, biblically illiterate, slothful in their study habits, and they often steal the learning of others in order to hide their own disobedience. This is a scandal that robs the congregation of the learned and faithful ministry the people of God so desperately need and deserve.

The preacher’s lifetime of study begins with the moment of his call and properly ends only when the preacher breathes his last breath. Between the call and the grave lies a long and rewarding journey of learning–learning that will be put at the disposal of the congregation until we see our Lord face to face. On that day, we dare not be ashamed of our lack of study.

Thomas Murphy, once of the great faithful pastors of the nineteenth century, described the minister’s calling of study with these words: “The pastor must study, study, study, or he will not grow, or even live, as a true workman for Christ.” The minister’s life is “one of incessant study,” Murphy explained, and “mere genius” will not suffice–this is a life of constant and rewarding study.

Knowing God

The preacher’s first task is to know God–personally. The Bible has no conception of an unconverted ministry. The preacher is first of all a man who has come to know God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who find his greatest fulfillment in knowing God personally and redemptively.

God told the prophet Jeremiah, “let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me” [Jeremiah 9:24]. Our fundamental knowledge is a knowledge of God, and this is the central goal of all true theological education and ministry preparation. The preacher must be one who sets his sight on a vibrant personal knowledge of God. Otherwise, theological knowledge becomes a ground for personal pride and intellectual pretentiousness.

As J. I. Packer reminds us, “To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception. We need to guard our hearts against such an attitude, and pray to be kept from it.”

Furthermore, Packer correctly reminds us that we are indeed to be urgently concerned for theological orthodoxy and biblical truth, but “not as ends in themselves, but as a means to the further ends of life and godliness.” In other words: “Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are.”

This approach to the minister’s life of study brings a godly sense of balance. Our central aim is to know God, and the aim of our ministry is to lead our people to know God also. The other aspects of knowledge are useful only in so far as they lead us into a deeper knowledge of God. A healthy theological education inculcates a deeper love for God, even as the minister grows in the knowledge of God’s Word and the comprehensiveness of God’s truth.

Studying God’s Word

Paul’s instruction to Timothy was very clear. The young minister was to study in order that he would be found “rightly handling the word of truth” [2 Timothy 2:15]. A deep and growing knowledge of God’s Word is the indispensable ground of all other true knowledge.

Put simply, the preacher is to be a devoted and skillful student of the Scriptures. This is the most important field of knowledge for the preacher, for his primary task is to preach the Word “in season and out of season,” [2 Timothy 4:2] and to teach God’s people from God’s Word.

Clearly, this strategic call represents a stewardship of truth, of souls, and of calling. Failure in this task is beyond tragedy, and the consequences are eternal. God has given us his Word and has commanded that we preach the Bible with skill, even as Ezra was “a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses” [Ezra 7:6].

This requires skill in the tasks of biblical interpretation, hermeneutics, exegesis, biblical languages, and the history of interpretation. This is a demanding calling, but nothing less than the most serious life of study will do. Those who can gain access to Bible colleges and theological seminaries that are biblically and theologically orthodox and faithful should take full advantage of these opportunities–knowing that this is a matter of faithfulness to our calling. At the same time, we must remember that many faithful preachers never had access to formal theological education. Yet, if they were faithful, they were no less studious or committed to a life of godly learning.

The centrality of the Bible is essential. As Charles Spurgeon encouraged his students: “Study the Bible, dear brethren, through and through, with all the helps that you can possibly obtain: remember that the appliances now within the reach of ordinary Christians are much more extensive than they were in our fathers’ days, and therefore you must be greater biblical scholars if you would keep in front of your hearers. Intermeddle with all knowledge, but above all things meditate day and night in the law of the Lord.”

If this was true in Spurgeon’s time, it is even more so in ours. The preacher must be more knowledgeable and more skilled than his congregation. Spurgeon’s other emphasis–that the knowledge of the Bible exceeds all other forms of knowledge in importance–also takes on a new urgency in our times. While there are many fields of knowledge and intellectual stimulation to which we could give our attention, we must keep ourselves first and foremost students of the Bible.

Learning God’s Truth

A true theological education stands on the unquestioned authority and truthfulness of the Bible and then moves to display that truth in all its comprehensiveness and to apply that truth to every dimension of life. Thus, the fields of systematic theology, historical theology, ethics, church history, and other theological disciplines all play their part in the preparation of the preacher.

A resistance to systematic theology reflects a lack of discipline or a lack of confidence in the consistency of God’s Word. We are to set out the great doctrines of the faith as revealed in the Bible–and do so in a way that helps to bring all of God’s truth into a comprehensive focus. The preacher must be ready to answer the great questions of his age from the authoritative treasury of God’s truth, and to teach, defend, and proclaim the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” [Jude 3].

Serving God’s People

Ultimately, the preacher’s calling is a call to serve the people of God. That’s why a consideration of the call should include a careful analysis of the man’s ability to preach, to teach, and to love the church for whom Christ died.

Once that is established, the preacher is set on a lifetime of studying in order to improve his preaching, to teach with even greater effectiveness, and to serve with even greater faithfulness.

This is no easy task. That’s surely why Paul used the metaphors of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer as he described this calling to Timothy [2 Timothy 2:3-7]. We are called to the obedience of the soldier, the discipline of the athlete, and the patient endurance of the farmer.

We should note carefully that Paul describes the ministry this way just before commanding Timothy to study in order to show himself faithful. May we, like Timothy, do our best to present ourselves to God as workers who have no need to be ashamed.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

How do you like them apples?