Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rooted In Good Soil: A Meditation on Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 ESV)

"Truth is a great fertilizer for the soul." - Stuart McAlpine

If a tree is not planted in good soil and well watered with the right nutrients, it will eventually wither and die. According to Stuart McAlpine the picture we see in Psalm 1 is probably of a tree planted near a irrigation channel in Babylon, while the Jews were living in captivity. This is an interesting observation because even if we are planted in enemy territory, we can still flourish spiritually if we seek the Lord.

We are God's trees and we must feed off the word of God if we are to prosper spiritually, like the man mentioned in Psalm 1. We must be intentional about our spiritual growth. This requires turning off the computer and television at times, and tuning out all other distractions.

 Eugene Peterson teaches that we must meditate on Scripture the same way a dog chews on a bone. This is a much more aggressive form of meditation than most of us have understood. This requires a day and night preoccupation with the truth. 

 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV) 

 ....that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love...  (Ephesians 3:16-17 ESV)  

Jesus Christ is the good soil that God has planted us in. - Bobby

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Source

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)

Disciples of Christ are God's fruit bearing branches to the world, and we are called to bear fruit that brings refreshment and healing to the Nations. God molds our lives through trials, into the likeness of his Son, by pruning us so that we might bear good fruit. Without God's keeping and sustaining power we wouldn't be able to walk in love, and would have nothing of eternal value to give to the world. Our lives should continually bring attention to the Source of our vitality...the Vine. 

We must make Christ our"magnificent obsession" and take hold of what some have called the 'beatific vision" This vision of the beauty and the majesty of Christ sustains us and empowers us for ministry to others. 

We can sometimes forget the Source of our life by trying to live  morally upright lives in our own strength. When we find ourselves in this place we must repent and return to Jesus the giver of life. Seeking to live a moral life in our own natural strength apart from the Holy Spirit is idolatry. To avoid this pitfall we must live in humble submission to the Father like Jesus did. - Bobby

Saturday, August 09, 2014

A Meditation on The Gospel

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:3-8 ESV)

The Gospel is life giving and life transforming truth. If spiritual transformation has not taken place in your life, you haven't experienced the truth of the Gospel. The hope of believing the Gospel is a slow but fruitful journey that conforms us into the image of Jesus. The word Gospel means "Good News." It is the proclamation of the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He paid the penalty for our sins so that we could become part of God's family. When this Gospel message is believed, it sets into motion a life that will be changed forever. Our initial response to this message is faith and repentance. This faith and repentance and trust in Jesus, changes our perspective on life and our worldview. 

When we receive this Gospel message we receive Jesus as Lord (God incarnate). We are now reconciled to God through his son, Jesus and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. At this point we desire to do good works for God such as, helping to alleviate suffering in all of its forms, and to seek justice in the earth. But it's important to know that these good works are not the Gospel, but are the fruit of the Gospel. In fact good works that are done apart from Jesus are only temporal and will ultimately have no eternal value. The world desperately needs to be reconciled to God through his son, Jesus. Society will never be effectively changed apart from receiving and believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. - Bobby

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Dying Daily By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"In life with Jesus Christ, death as a general fate approaching us from without is confronted by death from within, one’s own death, the free death of daily dying with Jesus Christ. Those who live with Christ die daily to their own will. Christ in us gives us over to death so that he can live within us. Thus our inner dying grows to meet that death from without. Christians receive their own death in this way and in this way our physical death very truly becomes not the end but rather the fulfillment of our life with Jesus Christ. Here we enter into community with the One who at his own death was able to say, ‘It is finished.’”  - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Resist The Devil — James 4:7 and Other Verses by Craig Keener

James contrasts the peaceful wisdom which is from God (3:13, 17-18; “from above” was a typical Jewish way of saying, “from God”) with the contentious wisdom which is from the devil (3:14-15). Then he warns his audience not to try to hold both perspectives as if they were compatible. Those who try to follow both God’s and the world’s wisdom at the same time are spiritual adulteresses (4:4).

Submitting to God and resisting the devil (4:7), then, is rejecting the world’s evil way of treating one another and preferring the gentle approach that comes from God. To adopt this new way of treating others requires repentance (4:8-10).

1 Peter refers to a situation in which Christians are being persecuted (1 Pet 4:12-16); in 1 Peter 5:8-9, the devil apparently seeks to crush believers by seeking to turn them from the faith. Resisting him therefore means withstanding the persecution.

In the context of Ephesians 4:27, one resists the devil by refusing to deceive or stay angry with one’s fellow-believers (4:25-26); in the whole context of Ephesians, this is part of “spiritual warfare” (6:11-14, 18).