Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 14th September

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well, the rain also filleth the pools."
Psalm 84:6

This teaches us that the comfort obtained by a one may often prove serviceable to another; just as wells would be used by the company who came after. We read some book full of consolation, which is like Jonathan's rod, dropping with honey. Ah! we think our brother has been here before us, and digged this well for us as well as for himself. Many a "Night of Weeping," "Midnight Harmonies," an "Eternal Day," "A Crook in the Lot," a "Comfort for Mourners," has been a well digged by a pilgrim for himself, but has proved quite as useful to others. Specially we notice this in the Psalms, such as that beginning, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" Travellers have been delighted to see the footprint of man on a barren shore, and we love to see the waymarks of pilgrims while passing through the vale of tears.

The pilgrims dig the well, but, strange enough, it fills from the top instead of the bottom. We use the means, but the blessing does not spring from the means. We dig a well, but heaven fills it with rain. The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but safety is of the Lord. The means are connected with the end, but they do not of themselves produce it. See here the rain fills the pools, so that the wells become useful as reservoirs for the water; labour is not lost, but yet it does not supersede divine help.

Grace may well be compared to rain for its purity, for its refreshing and vivifying influence, for its coming alone from above, and for the sovereignty with which it is given or withheld. May our readers have showers of blessing, and may the wells they have digged be filled with water! Oh, what are means and ordinances without the smile of heaven! They are as clouds without rain, and pools without water. O God of love, open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing!

Evening

"This man receiveth sinners."
Luke 15:2

Observe the condescension of this fact. This Man, who towers above all other men, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners--this Man receiveth sinners. This Man, who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil their faces--this Man receiveth sinners. It needs an angel's tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love. That any of us should be willing to seek after the lost is nothing wonderful--they are of our own race; but that he, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon himself the form of a servant, and bear the sin of many, and should then be willing to receive the vilest of the vile, this is marvellous.

"This Man receiveth sinners"; not, however, that they may remain sinners, but he receives them that he may pardon their sins, justify their persons, cleanse their hearts by his purifying word, preserve their souls by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and enable them to serve him, to show forth his praise, and to have communion with him. Into his heart's love he receives sinners, takes them from the dunghill, and wears them as jewels in his crown; plucks them as brands from the burning, and preserves them as costly monuments of his mercy. None are so precious in Jesus' sight as the sinners for whom he died. When Jesus receives sinners, he has not some out-of-doors reception place, no casual ward where he charitably entertains them as men do passing beggars, but he opens the golden gates of his royal heart, and receives the sinner right into himself--yea, he admits the humble penitent into personal union and makes him a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. There was never such a reception as this! This fact is still most sure this evening, he is still receiving sinners: would to God sinners would receive him.

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Today's reading: Proverbs 16-18, 2 Corinthians 6 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Proverbs 16-18

1 To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

4 The LORD works out everything to its proper end—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided.

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 6

1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Paul’s Hardships

3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything....

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Joseph

[Jō'zeph] - may god add or increaser.

  1. Poetic description of the descendants of Joseph the son of Jacob (Deut. 33:13).
  2. The Father of Igal, one of the spies sent by Moses into Canaan (Num. 13:7).
  3. A son of Asaph (1 Chron. 25:2, 9).
  4. A man of the family of Bani who had taken a foreign wife ( Ezra 10:42).
  5. A priest of the family of Shebaniah in Joaakim's time (Neh. 12:14).
  6. Ancestor of Joseph, Mary's husband (Luke 3:24).
  7. Another ancestor of Joseph in the same line (Luke 3:26).
  8. A more remote ancestor of Joseph, Mary's husband (Luke 3:30).
  9. A disciple nominated with Matthias to take the place of Judas Iscariot among the disciples. Matthias was chosen (Acts 1:23). This Joseph must have been a commendable Christian since he was nominated as an apostle.
  10. The eleventh son of Jacob and first of Rachel, and one of the most outstanding men of the Bible, meriting honorable mention (Gen. 30:24, 25).

The Man Whose Dream Came True

The story of this young man who went from pit to palace and from rags to riches, never loses its charm for young and old alike. It would take a book itself to fully portray all the vicissitudes and virtues of Joseph, who kept his record clean. All that we can do in our treatment of him is to suggest a few aspects of his character for development.

Joseph was a youthful dreamer and his dream came true (Gen. 37:5-9; 41:42-44).

Joseph labored as a slave, but was faithful in hard places (Gen. 39:1-6, 20-23).

Joseph enjoyed the presence of God and won the confidence of his master (Gen. 39:2, 4).

Joseph had physical beauty, but it was never a snare to him (Gen. 39:6).

Joseph resisted temptation. His godless mistress could not seduce him. Grace was his to flee youthful lusts. Thus he did not commit a "great wickedness" (Gen. 39:7-13).

Joseph was silent amid foul accusations and the appearance of guilt and unjust punishment (Gen. 39:14-20 ).

Joseph was unspoiled by sudden prosperity. When days of honor followed days of humiliation, he did not yield to pride (Gen. 41:14-16).

Joseph the interpreter of dreams proved that "prison walls do not a prison make." He acknowledged his dependence upon God for illumination, proving that he was not a mere dreamer but an interpreter of dreams (Gen. 40).

Joseph manifested great wisdom, brotherly love, filial devotion and utter submission to God (Gen. 43:20; 45:8, 14, 23; 47:7 ). He knew how to return good for evil (Gen. 50:16-21). If we cannot have all the gifts of Joseph, who is a perfect type of Christ, we can certainly covet all his graces. If we cannot have his greatness, we can certainly emulate his goodness.

R. W. Moss says, "A very high place must be given Joseph among the early founders of his race. In strength of right purpose he was second to none, whilst in graces of reverence and kindness, of insight and assurance, he became the type of a faith that is at once personal and national (Heb. 11:22 ), and allows neither misery nor a career of triumph to eclipse the sense of Divine destiny."

11. The husband of Mary, and foster-father of our Lord (Matt. 1:16-24; 2:13; Luke 1:27; 2:4-43; 3:23; 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42).

The Man of Wood and Nails

It is somewhat unique that two Josephs were associated with Christ, one at His birth and the other at His death. Both of these godly men gave Jesus of their best. In this section we think of Joseph the carpenter, who was present at the manger when Jesus was born, even though he was not His father. While Christ came as the Son of Man, He was never a son of a man.

Joseph's presence at Christ's birth witnesses to a severe test that had emerged triumphant. Mary was the pure young woman he had fallen in love with, and was about to make his wife. Yet the Child she was about to bear would not be his. Seeing her "great with child," without fanfare Joseph was minded to put her away. He never acted rashly with his espoused, although he was baffled by her condition. This serves for all time as an example of godly wisdom and tender consideration for others.

Bitterly disappointed that Mary had apparently betrayed him, yet believing, he made no haste. As a praying man he waited upon God, and his love for and patience with Mary were rewarded. God understood his mental difficulties and rewarded Joseph's conscientious attitude toward Mary by revealing His redemptive plan. God never fails those who carry their anxieties to Him. Joseph received a direct and distinct revelation from God, and at once his fears were banished, and his line of duty made clear.

Tenderly he cared for his dear one as if the Child she was bearing were his own. Overawed by the mystery of it all, that his beloved Mary had been chosen as the mother of the Lord he as a devout Jew had eagerly anticipated, we can imagine how he would superintend every detail of the Nativity.

What holy thoughts must have filled the mind of Mary's guardian. Where suspicion regarding Mary's purity once lurked, strong faith now reigned as he looked into the lovely face of Mary's Child. At last God's promises had been fulfilled and before him was the Babe through whom God's covenants would be established.

When it became necessary because of Herod's hatred to flee into Egypt, Joseph cared for Mary and her first-born Son with reverent devotion until tidings came that Herod was dead, and that they could safely return to their own land. While a shroud of secrecy covers the thirty years Christ spent at home, we can be sure of this, that between Jesus and Joseph there was an affection strong and deep.

Briefly stated, we have these glimpses of Joseph:

I. He was "a son of David" and could claim royal or priestly descent (Matt. 1:20).

II. His family belonged to Bethlehem, David's city.

III. He followed the trade of carpenter, and doubtless taught Christ how to use wood and nails (Matt. 13:55).

IV. He was a pious Israelite, faithful in all the ordinances of the Temple (Luke 2:22-24, 41, 42).

V. He was a kindly, charitable man, treating Mary gently in her time of need (Matt. 1:19; Luke 2:1-7).

VI. He was faithful in his care of Christ, and deserved to be called His "father" (Luke 2:33. John 1:45; 6:42).

VII. He never appears in the Gospels after Christ was twelve years of age and became "a son of the Law" (Luke 2:41-51), which may suggest that he died during the interval. This would explain why Jesus at His death asked John to care for His mother.

VIII. He died, tradition says, at the age of 111 years, when Jesus was but eighteen years of age.

12. Joseph of Arimathaea, a secret disciple of Jesus, whose unused grave was surrendered to Jesus. Thus the One born in a virgin womb was buried in a virgin tomb ( Matt. 27:57-60; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50; John 19:38).

The Man Who Gave His Grave to Jesus

This wealthy and devout Israelite, a member of the Sanhedrin, lived in a city of Jews (Luke 23:51). It is to the provision he made for the body of Christ that Isaiah had reference when he said, "He made His grave with the rich" (Isa. 53:9). Of this renowned Joseph we discover:

1. He was an honorable counselor (Mark 15:43 ). Because of his adherence to the Law and integrity of life he was a member of the governing body known as the Sanhedrin.

II. He looked for the kingdom of God. Immersed in Old Testament Scriptures, he anticipated the reign of the promised Messiah.

III. He was "a good man and just" (Luke 23:50, 51). As the Bible never uses words unnecessarily, there must be a distinction between "good" and "just." As a "good man" we have his own internal disposition - what he was in himself. As a "just man" we have his external conduct - what he was towards others. His just dealings were the fruit of the root of his goodness. His was the belief that knew how to behave.

IV. He was a secret disciple (John 19:38). Joseph of Arimathaea was similar to Nicodemus in his respect for our Lord as a man, admiration for Him as a teacher, belief in Him as the Christ, and yet, till now, his lack of confessing Him before men. Dreading the hostility of his colleagues on the Sanhedrin, he kept his faith secret.

V. He begged the body of Jesus (Matt. 27:58 ). As soon as Jesus was dead, Joseph hastened to Pilate for permission to inter His body. David Smith observes that when the condemnation of Jesus was over - a condemnation in which Joseph took no part - he realized how cowardly a part he had played and, stricken with shame and remorse, plucked up courage and went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. It was common for friends of the crucified to purchase their bodies, which would otherwise have been cast out as refuse, and give them decent burial (Mark 15:45).

VI. He gave his grave to Christ ( Matt. 27:59, 60). With lingering reverence Joseph paid his last respects to the One he admired, and in the hour of sorrow helped the friends and not the foes of the righteous Sufferer. Joseph had a garden close to Calvary, where he had hewn a smoothed and polished tomb in the side of the rock as his own last resting place, in which, aided by Nicodemus, he buried the linencovered and perfumed body of Christ.

VII. Joseph, legend tells us, was sent to Britain by Philip the Apostle, and founded the Church of Glastonbury. Medieval chroniclers delighted to tell of the staff Joseph stuck into the ground. The staff supposedly took root, brought forth leaves and flowers and became the parent of all the Glastonbury thorns from that day to this.

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September 13, 2011

Sit Down and Be Quiet

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish" (John 6:11 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Have you ever noticed this pattern in the gospels - the disciples get in a bind and Jesus bails them out. It reminds me of the old fifties program, Father Knows Best. The kids got in trouble, the father solved the problem and then he taught us all an important life lesson at the end. Come to think of it, "Father Knows Best" would be a fabulous subtitle for the gospels!

In John 6:1-15 , we find the disciples in a precarious situation. Their lawn party had turned into quite a bash. The guests far exceeded their expectations, the disciples hadn't planned on providing dinner, and it appeared the crowd was expecting refreshments. But the disciples didn't have the funds or the food to feed them. All they could scrounge up were five loaves of bread and two dried fish. The crowd was getting restless, the disciples were getting nervous, and Jesus was getting ready. He took the five loaves and two fish and told the crowd to sit down - he told them to rest.

Then He lifted the food toward heaven, blessed it, and commanded the disciples to hand out the provisions to those who were seated. He didn't feed the people who were running around worrying - but the ones who were at rest. To those He gave "immeasurably more than they could ask or imagine" (seeEphesians 3:20), with twelve baskets left over.

When we believe God, we will have rest and peace in our lives. I want you to do something for me. Right now, I want you to use your imagination. The Bible tells us in Ephesians that we are "in Christ" and Christ is "in us." It also tells us that we are seated "in heavenly places" and "transferred to the kingdom of Christ." Picture yourself sitting right beside Jesus under a spreading oak tree. Perhaps His arm is around your shoulder and your head is resting on his chest. You can feel the beating of His heart against your cheek and your head moves with the rise and fall of His breathing. With His other hand, He strokes your head and immediately knows how many hairs are on your head. His breath warms your skin as it brushes past your face. Imagine Him looking into your eyes and knowing your innermost being and meeting your gaze with a warm, affirming smile reassuring you of His love and care.

Now tell me, as you imagine yourself in the presence of Jesus, how anxious do you feel? How rejected do you feel? How worried about tomorrow are you?

You may be thinking, "Yes, Sharon. I feel at peace in that scene. But that's not reality." Dear sister, that is the greater reality. No matter what you are going through today, Jesus is right there with you. So maybe you just need to sit down and be quiet for a while.

Let's Pray
Dear Father, I'll admit, sometimes I am so busy running around trying to solve my problems, I miss Your provision. Help me to listen to You more closely and see Your provision more clearly. I don't want to miss what You have for me today. Help me to sit down and be quiet - to rest in You.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Is it difficult for you to sit down and be quiet with Jesus?

What keeps you from taking time to be still before Him?

Today, take at least ten minutes to be still with Jesus. No multi-tasking. Don't do this while driving the car or washing the dishes. Just you and Jesus. Give Him your full attention.

If you did this today, I want to celebrate with you. Log ontowww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and tell me about it!

More from the Girlfriends
Women love the idea of going to a spa! I'd like to invite you to God's spa to experience the ultimate makeover. In Sharon's book, Becoming Spiritually Beautiful, you'll discover beauty secrets to give you the inner glow that only God can give. It also comes with a Bible study guide for those who want to dig deeper into God's transforming truths.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Glynnis Whitwer

September 13, 2011

I Would Have Made a Great Pharisee
Glynnis Whitwer

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence." Matthew 23:25 (NIV)

Give me a list of rules to follow and I'm happy. I can follow rules like nobody's business. My left-brain dominated thinking likes order and routine, blanketed with no surprises. There's some comfort, I guess, in being able to assess my performance according to a set standard. If I'm obeying the rules, I must be doing okay. Right?

There's one big problem with that line of thinking. It tends to redirect my focus from what really matters: the condition of my heart. Jesus identified this problem with a group of religious people back in the day called the Pharisees, and it didn't make Him happy. In fact, He reserved His harshest comments for those people whose insides didn't look anything like their outsides.

I wonder if the Pharisees were well-intentioned. Did they really want to serve God and thought they were by following the rules? Or was it more of a power play to gain respect? Either way, Jesus split open their pretty packaging and revealed the ugliness of their hearts. Just like He does with me.

It seems God continually brings me to the end of my endurance, both emotionally and physically, to reveal the truth about my heart. What's revealed in those moments of pressure is usually something that needs addressing, like selfishness, insecurity, jealousy or bitterness. Getting split apart isn't pleasant. In fact, it's often painful and embarrassing. Yet, it's required if I want to become a true follower of Christ.

The reality is I would have made a great Pharisee. But the truth is I'd rather be a great disciple. I'd rather be sitting at the feet of Jesus than teaching in the temple. I'd rather share a simple meal of bread with Jesus than a fancy feast elsewhere. And if that requires the ugliness in my heart gets spilled out, then so be it.

Because at the end of the day, I'd much rather hang out with Jesus who loves me in spite of all that junk. The other option is pretending it isn't there, but that's not fooling anyone. So, I'll welcome God's holy intrusion in my life, submit my need to rank my performance and spend more time attending to my heart. That's what really matters.

Dear Lord, You are holy and righteous, and yet You love me just as I am. Thank You for calling me to a higher level of obedience, one that requires I submit my heart and my life. I long to follow You more than anything. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
I Used to Be So Organized: Help for Reclaiming Order and Peace by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis' blog - Welcome Home...Where Your Heart Longs to be

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
Identify an area of your life where following the "rules" has taken priority over having a right heart. Submit that area of your life to God in prayer and ask Him to reveal anything in your heart that needs addressing.

Reflections:
How does a strict adherence to rule-following hinder us at times from obeying all of God's commands?

Read the key verse at the top of the devotion. Why is hypocrisy such a dangerous condition in our lives?

Power Verses:
Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NIV)

Matthew 23:23, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (NIV)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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LeeStrobel-Newsletter-Header-Final
Emerging from the cocoon

LeeheadshotAs a young Christian, I was forced to share Christ with a group of Hindus in India. Scared me to death! And it changed my life – just as the adventure of talking with others about Jesus can change yours.

The sun was scorching. I found a patch of shade under an expansive tree and sat cross-legged on the brown and brittle grass. I was visiting the predominantly Hindu province of Andhra Pradesh in Southeast India as a volunteer writer for an Indian ministry. My task was to produce articles about the thousands of people who were crowding into exciting nighttime rallies to hear the message of Jesus.

But today was something new: an American pastor was going to stop by and speak at a modest event in a sparsely populated farming community at noon, when it was hot and people were generally busy in the fields. Frankly, I was skeptical that anybody would show up.

Half a dozen Indian musicians began playing music to attract a crowd. I picked up a tambourine and tried to keep the beat of the syncopated tunes. (Thankfully, nobody captured this on video, and YouTube didn’t exist yet!) Soon some onlookers began to gather. Fifteen minutes later there were twenty-five people who were sitting on the grass, apparently curious why anyone would come to this remote and seemingly forgotten locale.

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Questions from readers:

  • Where can people view ancient manuscripts?
  • How many Greek New Testaments do we have?
  • How can I share Christ with a Bahá'í?

Q. Is there a place I can go to actually see some of the ancient manuscripts of the Bible? What's the best count of the number of handwritten Greek manuscripts we have today?

A. These questions actually came from two different readers of the newsletter, but they're both best answered by one expert: Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (www.csntm.org), whose mission is to make digital images of ancient biblical texts available online. In responding to the question about where people can go to view ancient texts of the New Testament, here's what Wallace told me:

"Do you mean Internet sites or physical sites? If the former, csntm.org has more digital images than anyone else - more than 350 manuscripts and more than 140,000 images online. In addition, we have another 650 manuscripts whose images we are not allowed to post, but people may come to our offices (2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 1043, Plano, TX 75075) to view all that they want." (Wow, that's what I call Southern hospitality!)

Read the rest of this answer and answers to the other questions!

Have a question? Drop me a line atAskLee@Leestrobel.com. We'll answer the ones with the broadest interest in upcoming newsletters. Thanks to Sam Wall, former chief researcher for the Bible Answer Man radio show, who heads the "Ask Lee" response team.

Lee's Notes

• Biblegateway.com has launched some inspiring and informational new newsletters, including Investigating the Bible, which is a weekly slice on the evidence for the reliability of Scripture drawn from The Case for Christ Study Bible, for which I served as general editor. Visit thewebsite's newsletter page to peruse topics and subscribe. There are also options to receive daily scripture in your inbox. I particularly like reading the email with the day's verse after I've completed my morning devotions - it's like an added bonus! Oh, and I hope you'll recommend to your friends to become subscribers of this newsletter,Investigating Faith.

• Dr. Craig Smith says our culture - driven by books, Hollywood and secular academia - has become increasingly skeptical about the reliability of the Bible. Yet there's an upside. "When Christians are prepared with credible answers to the questions our culture is asking, we find that there are many natural opportunities to speak the truth in the public arena," said Smith, author of The Word: Understanding the Trusting the Bible in an Age of Skepticism.


Read the rest of Lee's Notes!

Is Jesus a copycat?

Lee-913

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason discusses the common claim that Jesus is merely a story plagiarized from mythology. He takes less than six minutes to make salient points that dismantle this discredited theory. I was honored to write the foreword to Greg's very helpful book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, which is an excellent resource for learning how to approach skeptics and seekers about Jesus.

Lee's Links: Suggested articles from the web
Kids and apologetics
Apologetics - or defending Christianity - is making a comeback among young people hungry for reasons to believe.
Google dumps churches
Google used to offer churches the same price breaks as other non-profits - but all of that has now ended.
Anti-porn crusade
CNN examines the Christian campaign against pornography - asking whether it can really stem the epidemic.
Flaws with Zeitgeist film
Popular Zeitgeist movie tries to convince Internet visitors that stories about Jesus came from mythology. Wrong!
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How does a person meditate on God's Word?

This week's reading: Psalm 119:15

Meditation is a combination of reviewing, repeating, reflecting, thinking, analyzing, feeling and even enjoying. It is a physical, intellectual and emotional activity-it involves our whole being.

In some ways, meditation doesn't easily fit into Western culture. We value action and busyness more than stopping and considering. The author of this psalm was from another time and culture, one with a tradition that valued meditation. As a result, meditation came more naturally for him and others with his Middle Eastern background. We have to overcome some cultural obstacles to learn to meditate.

There are many ways to meditate on God's Word. Some possibilities include: (1) Take time to read a verse or passage over and over. (2) Begin to memorize all or part of it. (3) Listen-quiet your heart to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through God's Word. (4) Consider how it fits with the rest of the Bible and life in general. (5) Become emotionally involved-allow yourself to feel what God feels, his desires expressed through his words. (6) Move from meditation to application-connect your thoughts to action. Consider how the truth and power of the Word of God should affect your behavior.


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Today's reading is from the
NIV Quest Study Bible
by Zondervan


This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.


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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

HOW CAN WE KNOW GOD?

"When I was young, I said to God, God, tell me the mystery of the universe. But God answered, that knowledge is for me alone. So I said, God, tell me the mystery of the peanut. Then God said, well, George, that’s more nearly your size." -George Washington Carver

How can we mortals say we can know God? There is only one answer: revelation. Belief begins with unbelief (or spiritual ignorance), and then out of the darkness comes the light of God. Out of the silence, his Word. We can know God only because he wants to be known and makes himself known.

John Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion is a landmark work in the history of Christian thought, and it begins with these simple words: “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.” Calvin was saying that we have a drive to understand ourselves–our origins, our purpose, our physiology, our psychology, our spirituality–and this leads us to want to know God because we are made in his image. Then, as we try to know God, we are carried along to a deeper understanding of ourselves. This process leads to revelations such as “Oh, I am to be truthful like that, and faithful like that, merciful like that.” Understand God, and understand yourself. Understand yourself rightly, and better understand God. And so the cycle goes.

But how can we know God? Is it from earth up? Or from heaven down? Many honest truth seekers believe that the evidence we have about God and his whole realm of truth is written on the earthy tablets of nature and human experience. If you want to know what it means to be human, then study a multitude of samples of the creature, make observations about their customs and physiology and relationships, and draw your conclusions about what it means to be human. What you believe about humanity is the cumulative analysis of what you experience with a great many human beings. Collect your data; draw the inferences.

Do the same thing for God: look for the traces of his being, the signs of his character written in the stars and the patterns of nature and in human consciousness, and draw your conclusions about what God must be like.

This “earth-up” approach is the way we know about most ordinary things in life we are curious about. It is how scientists diagnose and treat disease and how mothers figure out if their babies have ear infections and how boyfriends learn to read the non-verbal signals sent from their girlfriends (for which there is no known reliable textbook). It is the way of knowing by generalizing from the particular. Theoretically, our knowing becomes clearer and more refined as we gather an ever-wider body of experience.

But there is an alternative way of knowing. The “heaven-down” approach is very different. This is the way of revelation. It does not negate the earth-up way of knowing, at least when it comes to knowing about very earthy kinds of things. But when it comes to knowing God, a different knowing is required. A dog can sniff around a person’s footprints left in the soil, but that doesn’t amount to any real knowledge of the person. We may be able to pick up certain generalities about God from our experience, but it takes the voice of God, the uncovering of himself, to really know God.

That is why we need God's Word–in Christ, and in the Scriptures.

Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Complimentary DVDavailable now.

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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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