Category Archives: Meditations

Be a Source of Encouragement

In my reading through the Word, I saw some beneficial applications for us as a body. Also, any time I write an email I try to have this in mind (quoting Bruce Ware) “for all that misses the mark, I pray for his forgiveness and correction. God alone is worthy, and so to him be all praise and worship, both now and forevermore.”

When I read Number 13 and 14, I did not readily relate the result of the report of the spies as discouragement. I didn’t see this until Numbers 32 when Reuben and Gad want to settle in Gilead and Moses recounts what happened some 40 years prior to this event. Moses says, (Numbers 32:6-9) “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the LORD has given them? 8 Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the LORD had given them.”

As before, I did not relate this discouragement to unbelief as Moses does in Dt. 1:32. Moses recounts the story again but says, (Deuteronomy 1:25-33) 25 And they took in their hands some of the fruit of the land and brought it down to us, and brought us word again and said, ‘It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.’ 26 ¶ “Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. 27 And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the LORD hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28 Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”‘ 29 Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. 30 The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, 31 and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ 32 Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, 33 who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.”

The author of Hebrews writes concerning these events: Hebrews 3:19 – 4:2 9 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. ¶ Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
Hebrews 3:12-13 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

There are numerous things that could be pointed out but allow me to mention a few.
1. These things are written for our instruction. Rom. 15:4
2. They are written in the context of the community
3. We may be tempted to think discouragement as a small thing but it is not a small thing–especially within the common-unity
4. In the context of the story, the spies told the TRUTH about what they saw. It was their absence of faith that discouraged the people. Therefore, you can look truthfully at a situation and see the possible discouragement within the situation. However, you can acknowledge that and decide to trust Christ with the situation. We see from this text that He can be trusted and He will fight for us.
5. Discouragement can lead to rebellion and rebellion to unbelief which results in not entering His rest.
6. The leadership needs to be encouraged (Dt. 1:38) for they are susceptible to many more dangers (Mt 23) and stricter judgment (Jam 3)

Therefore, stop right now (if you are able) and pray to the Lord asking Him to guard our leaders from discouragement and think seriously how you might contact every member of our churches (and others too!) and encourage them in some way.This is not to say no one is encouraging one another. Nor do I mean for us to do it in some Pollyanna way. But may this become the norm with us all in Christ’s church–not just a challenge this week. I would also add that we try not to be easily discouraged ourselves. There are some things that ARE discouraging. And there are some things that we should not let discourage us. O LORD bear the fruit of encouragement in our lives through the Gospel! Romans 15:5-6 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saint Augustine’s Confessions

I (Kimberly) decided to begin reading our copy of Saint Augustine’s Confessions the other day. Over the last several months I have really dropped off on reading, outside of daily Bible reading. I have started two or three books and put them down. Anyway,  just a few pages into Confessions I am already encouraged. Of God he says on page 23,

“You are unchangeable and yet you change all things.”

Groaning For Our Hope!

Enduring life can become drudgery. We are often times so nearsighted in the present, that we are blinded to the hope of eternity. Paul has some encouraging words for us:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Here he describes this present body as a tent. Certainly the idea Paul is trying describe is that of temporary, fleeting, and transient maybe.
Our present body was fashioned by God to be temporary for our good! The everyday aches and pains can serve us by reminding us that our present TENT is temporary. This does not, however, relieve us of our present responsibilities. In fact, it is a fuel for us to endure the present as we groan for the hope of a glorified body.
The temporal state of our tent was designed by God to cause us to groan for the eternal dwelling, for we were made for eternity. Paul declares that this is the source of his renewal:

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

May we endure as we groan for the hope of a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!

Fickle Hearts

Moses is delayed forty days on the mountain in Exodus 32. It appears the people endured several days before making a god to go before them. Does it not seem odd that if someone must make something to go before them then it is not a god? They just witnessed the amazing parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, and water from a ROCK! You would think that after seeing such amazing things they would never disbelieve. O how fickle the heart can be.
Well if you like to one-up everything the people in John 11 move much quicker. John 11:45-46 says, “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” Of course, this is the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Can you imagine walking away from this scene to tell someone–not how amazing it was–but to build your case against him? This was not even a matter of days but possibly minutes.
Now before we throw these fickle-hearted people under the bus, observe your behavior after reading the very story yourself–encountering the resurrecting power of God before your eyes in this text. Beware! The heart is fickle

Acts 8

The Great Sower scatters His word:

“Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” Acts 8:4 ESV

Teaching My Children Mercy!

Recently I was preaching in our county jail and trying to explain the gospel and its various implications. I told them what Jesus did on the cross was “Substitutionary Atonement.” Of course, they were not familiar with this theological truth, nor did I expect them to understand it. That is why I was there explaining the gospel right?
You might be thinking, “I thought this post was about teaching his kids mercy.” Well, the following is how I taught my daughter mercy and the previous is the context to which I used the teaching of my daughter to explain the gospel. So, I have two agendas here. One, to help you teach your sons and daughters mercy (showing them the gospel) and proclaiming the gospel to others; whether that be through experiences at home or however.
Now, the teaching of mercy. The other day one of my daughters broke one of the rules in our home. The one who received the breaking of the rule came to me in order to inform me of this violation. So, I called the one who broke the rule to come and speak to me about it. She was quick to admit her wrong and I was thankful for that. Nevertheless, she was less reluctant to admit her need for punishment. I began to explain how God cannot look over sin. He is holy and just, therefore he must punish sin. So, I asked her, “If your brother hits you, do you think it is necessary that I punish him for hitting you?” And she replied, “Yes!” Again, I asked, “If your sister takes your toys away from you, should I punish her?” Again she emphatically replied, “Yes!!!” Now I turned the question to her, “Is it fair that I let you get away with no punishment for breaking the rule you have admitted to?” She then (with understanding) replied, “No, I do need to be punished.”
With that having been established, I then proceeded to teach her mercy. I explained to her that mercy is NOT getting what you DESERVE. But, in order to remain just (like God) someone must take the punishment for the crime. So I began drawing conclusions about this foundation. I indicated that she had admitted the breaking of our rules. She agreed that God is holy and just and cannot NOT punish sin. (I know I used a double negative but it was needed.) And she understood her need for punishment.
In light of this, I then moved to the substitute. I told her that I was going to take the punishment for her and that she would be the one who was to deliver the punishment. It broke her heart that I was to receive the punishment for her sin and that she had to do it. Human pride rose to the surface as she discovered my innocence and her guilt. She did not want to do it. She wept with tears as she lightly tapped me with our paddle. I then began to tell how Jesus Christ had done this for her sin and if she placed her trust in him, for her punishment, she would be saved.
As I shared this with the guys at the jail, they sat there with amazement and hopefully a clearer understanding that God had to punish sin and he did on his Son. But, it is not yours unless you repent and believe in Christ. We will see as I twice a month preach to these guys.
So, have you ever shown your children mercy (the gospel)? Do you now understand the gospel better…substitutionary atonement, propitiation? Maybe you yourself need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In him you will find mercy. In him you will have your sins forgiven and receive his righteousness. Praise be to God for reconciling himself to us!

What is Worldliness?

Greg Beale said in a sermon that I recently listened to that one of his friends describes worldliness as any attempt by the world to make sin comfortable and righteousness uncomfortable.

Opportunities to Share the Gospel

Luke writes, “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.'”
If we were diligent to seek out the poor and those we have defrauded we would be busy evangelists explaining why we were giving our goods to them.

Can God do this?

As we read the Scriptures, we miss things. There are multiple reasons why this happens. So, I want to take a moment to point out a jaw-dropping text from Ezekiel. I would encourage you to read the surrounding context so that the full meaning of the text lands on you. Here is only a brief excerpt from the text:

Therefore say to the to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn your faces from all your abominations. For any one of the house of Israel, or the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the Lord will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man; I will cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord. And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear their punishment–the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the iniquirer shall be alike–that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their trangressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 14:6-11)

I guess you can understand the question in the title. You be the judge. The humbling truth of this is God’s relentless pursuit of His people. Be encouraged brothers.

A Question Concerning Teaching

How are we to teach? I am troubled by the approach some take at teaching these days. The nature of teaching must fit the situation I suppose. So, what should the nature of teaching be at a seminary?

First, let me state briefly what type of teaching I am troubled by and what type of teaching I long for. Often times teaching is basically an unbiased or biased view of the historical views on a certain topic. This part is great. I hope all teachers attempt to do this in their teaching. However, the teachers seems to stop right there. Should this be the case?

I think they should present their position as well with clarity. I want to here how they have wrestled with the Scriptures and how they came to conclusions. I want them to articulate their position with great precision. Not only are we seeing how the process of wrestling with and concluding on the truth of Scripture came about but we are seeing the thoughful presentation of those conclusions.

This process teaches me more than doctrines. I learn that it is hard to understand some things. I learn what attitude to have in approaching the Scriptures. I learn how to articulate a view. I learn how to answer questions and remain compassionate. All of this is seemingly being left out. I long for my teachers to do this. May our teachers teach us well.