WHY IS THE BIBLE THE MOST HATED BOOK IN HISTORY? – Philip Mauro
The Bible manifests the possession of inherent and imperishable life in that it survives all the attempts that have been made to destroy it. The Bible is the only book in the world that is truly hated. The hatred it arouses is bitter, persistent, murderous. From generation to generation this hatred has been kept alive. There is doubtless a supernatural explanation for this continuous display of hostility towards the Word of God, for that Word has a supernatural enemy who has personally experienced its power. (Matthew 4:1–10). But the natural explanation of this hatred is that the Bible differs notably from other books in that it gives no flattering picture of man and his world, but just the reverse. The Bible does not say that man is a noble being, ever aspiring towards the attainment of exalted ideals. It does not describe the career of humanity as “progress,” as the brave and successful struggle of man against the evils of his environment; but quite the contrary, declares it to be a career of disobedience and departure from God, a preference for darkness rather than for light, “because their deeds are evil.” The Bible does not represent man as having come, without any fault of his own, into adverse circumstances, and as being engaged in gradually overcoming these by the development and exercise of his inherent powers. It does not applaud his achievements, and extol his wonderful civilization. Quite the contrary. It records how God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5). It speaks of man as “being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, guile, evil dispositions; whisperers, slanderers, hateful to God, insolent, proud, vaunting, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, perfidious, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful” (Romans 1:29–31, Greek)… Again, the Bible is hated because it claims the right to exercise, and assumes to exercise, authority over man. It speaks as one having authority. It issues commands to all. It says, “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not.” It does not simply advise or commend one course of action rather than another, as one would address an equal, but it directs men imperatively what they shall do, and what they shall not do. In this manner it addresses all ranks and conditions of men — kings and governors, parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and servants, rich and poor, high and low, free and bond. In this, too, we have a characteristic of the Bible which distinguishes it from all other books. It is no respecter of persons.
PENNED BY GOD – C.H. Spurgeon
Here lies my Bible–who wrote it? I open it, and find it consists of a series of tracts. The first five tracts were written by a man called Moses; I turn on, and I find others. Sometimes I see David is the penman, at other times Solomon. Here I read Micah, then Amos, then Hosea. As I turn further on, to the more luminous pages of the New Testament, I see Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Paul, Peter, James, and others; but when I shut up the book; I ask myself, who is the author of it? Do these men jointly claim the authorship? Are they the compositors of this massive volume? Do they between themselves divide the honor? Our holy religion answers, No!
This volume is the writing of the living God; each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips; each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit. Albeit, that Moses was employed to write his histories with his fiery pen, God guided that pen. It may be that David touched his harp, and let sweet Psalms of melody drop from his fingers; but God moved his hands over the living strings of his golden harp. It may be that Solomon sang canticles of love, or gave forth words of consummate wisdom, but God directed his lips, and made the preacher eloquent. If I follow the thundering Nahum, when his horses plough the waters, or Habakkuk, when he sees the tents of Cushan in affliction; if I read Malachi, when the earth is burning like an oven; if I turn to the smooth page of John, who tells of love, or the rugged, fiery chapters of Peter, who speaks of fire devouring God’s enemies; if I turn to Jude, who launches forth anathemas upon the foes of God, everywhere I find God speaking; it is God’s voice, not man’s; the words are God’s words, the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty, the Jehovah of this earth. This Bible is God’s Bible, and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it, saying, “I am the book of God; man, read me. I am God’s writing; open my leaf, for I was penned by God; read it, for he is my author, and you will see him visible and manifest everywhere.”
BOU MET GOD SE MATERIAAL – Albert Theron
“Daarom, bemoedig mekaar en bou die een die ander op, soos julle ook doen.” 1 Thessalonicense 5:11
Alle mense het van tyd tot tyd bemoediging nodig. God het ons geskep as interafhanklike wesens wat mekaar moet ophelp, aanspoor en versterk. Jy sal nooit jou skeppingsdoel kan uitleef as jy nie mense rondom jou het wat jou bemoedig wanneer jy dit nodig het nie. Ons sien egter vandag dat mense toenemend meer venynig raak met mekaar en geoefen is daarin om ander af te breek in plaas daarvan om hulle op te bou. Dit is werklik tragies. Maar as ons bemoedig en opbou as dissipels van Jesus moet ons baie seker maak dat dit in waarheid is.
Ons moet bemoedig in die lig van die evangelie. Ons moet vir diegene wat ons bemoedig ‘n ware prentjie van hulle situasie gee. Ons moet met die Woord opbou. Ons moet in Christus bemoedig. Ons moet mekaar herinner aan die hoop wat die opstanding van Jesus gebring het en wat voltrek gaan word by Sy wederkoms. Sien 1 Thessalonicense 4 verse 14 tot 18. Ons moenie bemoedig soos die wêreld met hol motiveringsboodskappies wat eintlik maar net sielkundige “window dressing” is nie. Dan doen ons meer skade as goed, want een of ander tyd bars dáái ballon.
GOD PRESENT WITH MAN – Austin Sparks
What is this thought, then, this thing so near to the heart of God, with which all His interests are bound up? It is God present amongst men: God related to an organism, as the Inhabitant, the Occupier, the Indweller of that organism. The simple, plain meaning of a ‘house’ is, surely, something to be dwelt in, to be lived in; it has no meaning unless it is inhabited. God’s thought is to be there, present, indwelling with the object of making Himself known and understood, and with the object of having blessed fellowship with that which comprises the ‘house’. I have said that the Bible contains the history of that thought, that eternal and Divine concept through the ages. It begins with a very simple, primal expression of the thought: the man and the woman in the garden, and God present, walking in the garden, talking, communing, making His thoughts and intentions known. It is a picture of happy fellowship between God and man, man and God. Man is shown in relationship with God, in terms of friendship (if I may use that word), and on a basis of commission to be God’s regent here for the development and fulfilment of His purposes. Everything speaks of peace and order and beauty, and all that the human heart longs for. God has created for Himself a ‘house’, and is in it, and is walking in it, and talking in it. It is there in this simple first representation. From that point, the Divine intention has a long and chequered history. Remember that all the actions of God are related to that one ‘thing’, and all the reactions in history, recorded in the Bible, are against that thing – to drive God out, to exclude God, to bring about conditions in which God cannot be present, to which He cannot commit Himself. It focuses upon this one eternal desire of the heart of God.
VERSADIGDE LIGGAME, HONGER SIELE – Albert Theron
“Is die lewe nie meer as die voedsel en die liggaam as die klere nie?” Mattheüs 6:25b
God is die Gewer van reën en voedsel en Hy maak voorsiening in die natuur om fisiese lewe op ons planeet te onderhou. Maar mense het ook ‘n siel en gees wat gevoed moet word.
“Want Hy het die dorstige siel versadig en die hongerige siel met die goeie vervul.” Psalm 107:9
Jesus is die enigste “voedsel” wat mense se siele kan voed. Dit is net in ‘n lewende verhouding met Hom wat die diep honger van ons siele bevredig kan word.
“En Jesus sê vir hulle: Ek is die brood van die lewe; wie na My toe kom, sal nooit honger kry nie; en wie in My glo, sal nooit dors kry nie.” Johannes 6:35
God het in Christus oorvloedige voorsiening vir ons gemaak om gesonde en versadigde siele te hê sodat ons ook ander kan voed met die brood van die lewe. Maar waar les ons, ons dors en waar versadig ons, ons honger? Drink ons by die fonteine van die wêreld en eet ons by die wêreld se tafels? God nooi ons uit om te kom aansit by die geestelike tafel wat Hy voorberei het.
“U sal my die pad van die lewe bekend maak; versadiging van vreugde is voor u aangesig, lieflikhede in u regterhand, vir ewig.” Psalm 16:11
FOLLOW ME – Andrew Murray
“Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him, and said: ‘One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have, and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'” Mark 10:21.
When Christ spoke these words to the young ruler, he went away grieved. Jesus said: “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” The disciples were astonished at His words. When Christ repeated once again what He had said, they were astonished out of measure, “Who then can be saved?” “Jesus looking upon them said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.'” Christ had spoken about bearing the cross from the human side, as the one condition of discipleship. Here with the rich young ruler He reveals from the side of God what is needed to give men the will and the power thus to sacrifice all, if they are to enter the kingdom. He said to Peter, when he had confessed Him as Christ, the Son of God, that flesh and blood had not revealed it unto him, but His Father in heaven, to remind him and the other disciples that it was only by divine teaching that he could make the confession. So here with the ruler He unveils the great mystery that it is only by divine power that a man can take up his cross, can lose his life, can deny himself and hate the life to which he is by nature so attached. What multitudes have sought to follow Christ and obey His injunction — and have found that they have utterly failed! What multitudes have felt that Christ’s claims were beyond their reach and have sought to be Christians without any attempt at the whole-hearted devotion and the entire self-denial which Christ asks for! Let us in our study of what the fellowship of the cross means take today’s lesson to heart and believe that it is only by putting our trust in the living God, and in the mighty power with which He is willing to work in the heart, that we can attempt to be disciples who forsake all and follow Christ in the fellowship of His cross.
A WONDERFUL GUARANTEE – C.H. Spurgeon
“I will strengthen thee” Isaiah 41:10
When called to serve or to suffer, we take stock of our strength, and we find it to be less than we thought and less than we need. But let not our heart sink within us while we have such a word as this to fall back upon, for it guarantees us all that we can possibly need. God has strength omnipotent; that strength He can communicate to us; and His promise is that He will do so. He will be the food of our souls and the health of our hearts; and thus He will give us strength. There is no telling how much power God can put into a man. When divine strength comes, human weakness is no more a hindrance. Do we not remember seasons of labor and trial in which we received such special strength that we wondered at ourselves? In the midst of danger we were calm, under bereavement we were resigned, in slander we were self-contained, and in sickness we were patient. The fact is that God gives unexpected strength when unusual trials come upon us, We rise out of our feeble selves. Cowards play the man, foolish ones have wisdom given them, and the silent receive in the selfsame hour what they shall speak, My own weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave. LORD, strengthen me “according to thy word.”
TRANE WAT GENEES – Albert Theron
Die trane van ware berou en die trane van die dissipels van Jesus is baie kosbaar vir die Here en dit kan baie genesing bring .
“U het my omswerwinge getel; hou my trane in u kruik; is hulle nie in u boek nie?” Psalm 56:9
“Die offers van God is ‘n gebroke gees; ‘n gebroke en verslae hart sal U, o God, nie verag nie!” Psalm 51:19
Petrus se trane het vryelik geloop toe hy besef dat hy sy Heiland en Meester waarlik drie maal verloën het.
“En vir die tweede keer het die haan gekraai; en Petrus het die woord onthou wat Jesus vir hom gesê het: Voor die haan twee maal gekraai het, sal jy My drie maal verloën. En hy het in trane uitgebars.” Markus 14:72
Paulus se bediening was gekenmerk deur opregte trane en sorg vir die welsyn van dissipels van Jesus.
“Daarom moet julle waak en onthou dat ek drie jaar lank nag en dag nie opgehou het om elkeen met trane te vermaan nie.” Handelinge 20:31
Hier in 2 Timotheüs word trane en blydskap in dieselfde vers gebruik. Ons weet nie hoekom Timotheüs gehuil het nie, maar dit het waarskynlik te doen gehad met broederlike liefde in Christus. Dit was vir Paulus kosbaar, soos ook vir die Here.
“Terwyl ek verlang om jou te sien as ek aan jou trane dink, sodat ek met blydskap vervul kan word.” 2 Timotheüs 1:4
Behalwe in die geval van werklike smart is die trane van die wêreld gewoonlik die gevolg van self-bejammering en self-gerigtheid. Andersins is dit bloot oppervlakkige en misplaaste sentimentaliteit of dit is net aansit en aandag trek. Hierdie trane kan ongelukkig nooit ware genesing of verandering in mense se lewens bring nie al vloei dit soos riviere deur ons gemeenskappe.
Neem jou Bybelkonkordansie en soek die ander plekke op waar die Bybel praat van trane. Dit is ‘n wonderlike studie om te doen. Vra dan jouself af of ons vandag nog so geroer word deur ons geloof soos die gelowiges in die Bybel. Het ons geloof nie dalk te koud en klinies of bloot intellektueel geword nie?
ALWAYS BEING PREPARED – John Piper
“The word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” 1 John 2:14
The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures in the first century. Then in our century, he moves us to love, and read, and understand, and store up the Scriptures. He transforms us by it. And then, in the moment of need, he puts that biblical truth to work in an amazing way as he teaches us what to say. This is what Peter was getting at when he said,
If you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:14-15)
This is not a contradiction of Jesus’s instruction that we not “meditate beforehand how to answer” (Luke 21:14). Jesus is warning against fearful rehearsing. Peter is telling us to always be nurturing our hope by piling the kindling of biblical truth on the fires of confidence. If we feed the fires of our hope every day with reasons from God’s word, the Holy Spirit will take that fuel of “preparation” and “teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
MOET EK “WORRY”? – Albert Theron
Dit is darem vreemd hoe die dinge wat vir ons so belangrik is op aarde heel onder aan die hemel se prioriteitelys is. Vat nou maar die volgende teks in Filippense:
“Wees oor niks besorg nie, maar laat julle begeertes in alles deur gebed en smeking met danksegging bekend word by God.” Filippense 4:6
Oor niks? Regtig oor niks? Ja sowaar, alles wat jou ontstel en jou bekommer in hierdie lewe moet jy (mag jy!) net so en sonder versuim voor die Vader bring en dit dan by Hom los. Klink darem baie onverantwoordelik nê? Mens moet mos “worry”! Die Bybel leer egter konsekwent dat God ons aandag op Hom soek. Ons moet ons kragte, energie en fokus op Sy koninkryk kry.
Ja, natuurlik moet ons werk en ‘n tuiste skep vir ons gesinne, maar ons moet dit doen binne die ruimte en waardestelsel van die koninkryk van God wat alreeds vir dissipels van Jesus ‘n werklikheid is. As ons hele lewe en aandag 24/7 ingestel is op tydelike dinge is daar groot fout. Dan is ons waardestelsel nog nie ordentlik omgedop deur die Heilige Gees nie. Wat ontstel jou? Wat bekommer jou? Wat gee vir jou maagsere? God se oplossing is eenvoudig maar baie radikaal: “Wees oor niks besorg nie.” Gee dit oor in God se hande sodat jy besig kan raak met die waardes van die koninkryk.
THE EYE OF FAITH – A.W. Pink
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear—but now my eye sees You!” Job 42:5
What did Job signify by this expression? Obviously his words are not to be understood literally. No, by employing a common figure of speech, he meant that the mists of unbelief (occasioned by self-righteousness) had now been dispelled, and faith perceived the being of God as a glorious and living reality. (“My eyes are ever toward the Lord” Psalm 25:15), by which is meant that his faith was constantly in exercise. Of Moses it is said that “he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27); that is, his heart was sustained through faith’s being occupied with the mighty God.
Faith is frequently represented in Scripture under the metaphor of bodily sight. Our Lord said of the great patriarch, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day—and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56), meaning that his faith looked forward to the day of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation. Paul was commissioned unto the Gentiles to “open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18); or, in other words, to be the Divine instrument of their conversion through preaching to them the Word of Faith. To some of his erring children he wrote, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been plainly set forth, as crucified among you” (Galatians 3:1).
Now what we wish to point out in this article is, that when Scripture speaks of faith under the notion of bodily sight, its writers were doing something more than availing themselves of a pertinent and suitable figure of speech. The Author of Scripture is the One who first formed the eye, that marvelous organ of vision and without a shadow of doubt He so fashioned it as to strikingly adumbrate in the visible that which now plays so prominent a part in the Christian’s dealings with the invisible. Everything in the material world shadows forth some great reality in the spiritual realm, as we should perceive had we but sufficient wisdom to discern the fact.
THE CASE FOR BOREDOM – Kevin DeYoung
I don’t get bored as much as I should. Chances are neither do you. And the chances are exceedingly good that your children aren’t as bored as they should be.
What’s so good about being bored? Nothing intrinsically, but boredom provides the space for creativity, for mental wandering, for musings, ponderings, and a lifestyle of prayer.
Remember how boring life used to be. You’d wait in a line and just think, or sit on a plane and stare out the window, or relax on the couch and do nothing at all. I think of how much more my mind used to wander on walks and how I was better able to concentrate on books. I think of how bored I was on long car rides and at meals with adults and, yes, even in church. Of course, some boredom is just boring. But boredom also teaches us the discipline of sitting still and the invaluable lesson of being alone with our thoughts.
I’m no Luddite who rejects technological innovation and longs for the simple life when we walked to school in the snow uphill both ways. But there is no doubt that our phones—let’s be honest, my phone—has made us less attuned to the quiet moments of life.
For many people, they grab their phone first thing in the morning. They look at it last thing before bed. They check it at traffic lights and scroll through social media while waiting in line at the bank. They thumb through Facebook when they have 10 minutes to kill. They are tethered to their phone on the plane. They can’t go much more than 15 minutes in a meeting without swiping the screen. They eat with their phones, sleep with their phones, even go to the bathroom with their phones.
Much has been written about the harmful ubiquity of our devices. This post is late to that party. I’m only commenting on these things now because I know I’m not immune to the problem. I believe Twitter and Facebook and Instagram have their place. I’m thankful for all the work I can get done on my phone while traveling. I don’t know what I’d do without Google Maps. And yet, it’s hard to imagine scrolling through social media throughout the day and checking email almost constantly have made me wiser, holier, and godlier, let alone a better husband, a better father, a better thinker, and a better Christian.
In the coming months I am making it my goal to be bored more often. I want to force my kids to be bored too. I’m not throwing away my phone. I’m not quitting Twitter or the blogosphere. I just want more space to endure (enjoy?) life’s dull moments.
One of the things I love about running and swimming and cycling is that I never take my phone with me. I never listen to music in the pool or out on the road. I stare at the black line and breathe, or look at the path ahead and let my mind wander. Often I pray. It’s a sweet time. Try out silence in your life this week. Give aloneness a try. In our crazy busy, crazy connected, need-to-know-now! world, we need the sanity and sanctifying power of boredom every once in a while.
DIE LEIERSKAP WAT VRYHEID, VREUGDE EN VRUGBAARHEID BRING
– Albert Theron
“Want ek is jaloers oor julle met ‘n goddelike jaloersheid, want ek het julle aan een man verbind, om julle as ‘n reine maagd aan Christus voor te stel.” 2 Korinthiërs 11:2
Paulus het vurig geywer vir die gelowiges wat onder sy bediening gestaan het, maar sy ywer was om hulle aan Jesus te verbind, nie aan homself nie. Hierdie vers herinner ‘n mens dadelik aan Johannes die Doper se bedieningsfilosofie.
“Hy moet meer word, maar ek minder.” Johannes 3:30
So eenvoudig en verfrissend, is dit nie? Wat ‘n lafenis om mense net heeltyd te wys op die absolute gesag van Jesus deur Sy Woord en Gees! Ons kan voorbeelde wees van Jesus, maar nooit plaasvervangers nie. In ‘n sin kan ‘n mens sê ons kan Jesus wys vir mense, maar nooit Jesus wees vir mense nie. Ons het nie nodig om dit te doen nie, want Hy is teenwoordig deur Sy Gees. Ons moet Hóm bedien aan mense, nie onsself nie.
“Want ons verkondig nie onsself nie, maar Christus Jesus as Here, en onsself as julle diensknegte om Jesus wil.” 2 Korinthiërs 4:5
As jy ‘n leier is wat Jesus probeer wees vir mense, haal die las van jou skouers af en wys Hom liewer vir mense. Dit is baie meer effektief en nie naastenby so uitputtend nie. As jy leiers volg asof hulle Jesus is, staak dit en kry jou oë liewer op Jesus self. Hy is nie afwesig nie. Hy leef in jou.
WHERE WE FIND OURSELVES – Jon Bloom
A body is Paul’s favorite metaphor for the church because it so beautifully illustrates who we are in relation to God and one another. Jesus is our head (Ephesians 5:23), and we are all members or parts of his body.
It all begins with grace: “by the grace given to us” (Romans 12:3, 6). None of us deserves our “membership” in the body. It comes to us from God as an incredible gift of his grace through faith in Christ.
Neither do we choose what parts of Christ’s body we’ll be. God assigns us our roles (Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 12:18). He places us just where he wants us for the purposes he has planned. Therefore each of us is needed where God has placed us.
And “as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4–5). Just like a human body, no particular part of Christ’s body is more or less important based on how visibly prominent its role (1 Corinthians 12:22–24). None of us can do without the other (1 Corinthians 12:15–16). We are each very limited in what we can do and therefore beautifully interdependent upon each other.
That’s why, when trying to discern God’s will for our lives, we get confused if we look at ourselves in isolation. Just like a body part separated from the body looks strange, so do we out of the context of the church. It takes the body of Christ to understand the function of a part, and it takes all the parts working together to make the body function.
KAN LEIERSKAP ‘N VLOEK WORD? – Albert Theron
Jesus het nie gesê “Ek sal julle nie as wese agterlaat nie; Ek stuur vir julle apostels, pastore en dominees” nie, maar:
”Ek sal julle nie as wese agterlaat nie; Ek kom weer na julle toe.” Johannes 14:18
Na die uitstorting van die Heilige Gees op die dag van Pinkster ontvang elke ware dissipel van Jesus onmiddellik die Gees van Christus by die wedergeboorte. Ons verhouding met Jesus is van daardie oomblik af persoonlik en direk. Daarom is enige vorm van dissipelskap of leierskap wat mense nie toenemend bewus maak van hierdie direkte verhouding met Jesus nie totaal uit voeling met die hele gees van die Nuwe Verbond.
Ons hoor baie van bevryding vandag. Laat my toe om ‘n radikale stelling te maak. Die mees algemene bevryding wat die meeste mense in gemeentes vandag nodig het, is bevryding van die soort verhouding met gemeenteleiers wat net Jesus se prerogatief is! Hy alleen is die Middelaar, Verlosser en Hoof van Sy gemeente. Hy wil elkeen van Sy kinders persoonlik bedien en persoonlik ken in ‘n groeiende en lewende verhouding. As leierskap in gemeentes hierdie verhouding met Jesus belemmer in plaas van bevorder word dit ‘n vloek en nie ‘n seën nie.
EAT AND DRINK TO THE GLORY OF GOD – Marshall Segal
Paul makes it wonderfully clear: Once we are Christ’s, absolutely everything in the Christian life is meant to be worship, even our meals. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Genuine worship sounds like this: “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord” (Psalms 104:33–34). Rehearse who God is and what he has done, and then respond to him — rejoice in him again together.
As you praise God for forming mountains, and feeding tropical fish, and conducting the sun, spend even more time admiring Jesus. The mountains were made through him (John 1:3). Every ounce of food points to him, as the true bread of life (John 6:35). Our galaxy may revolve around the sun, but all of history and the entire universe revolve around the God-man (Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 1:2–3). And, of course, he is our only way to God, our only source of truth, and our only hope for real life and lasting joy (John 14:6; Psalm 16:11). Make every meal a fresh call to worship King Jesus (Philippians 2:9–11).
Maybe you don’t eat together as a family, at least not often. Psalm 104 could be a fresh reason to try again. Every time we surrender and go our separate ways at supper time, we sacrifice an opportunity to rehearse together the most important things in the world. God may mean for supper to be your Sunday morning of each day — a time to break bread and marvel at a God who is truly both good and great.
LET YOUR HEART BURN – Ryan Shelton
Pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards discussed the relationship between singing and love when he said,
The duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.
Some men may feel uncomfortable singing in corporate worship because they do not find in themselves the affections expressed in loving prayers of adoration or hymns of exhortation. But Edwards’s insight is instructive here. We don’t only sing because we feel. We also sing in order to feel.
Singing requires a great deal of physical involvement: demanding posture, deep breathing, vocal exertion, bodily energy. It has a unique capacity to take mental truths and involve our whole person in response. It can help fan sparks in our affections into flame.
Other times, men find singing with God’s people to be uncomfortable because they do not believe the emotional expression of singing to be appropriate for masculinity. This is the result of embracing a counterfeit definition of masculinity, rather than a biblical one. Manly men sing with passion and with love for God and their church family.
DIE DIOTREFES EPIDEMIE
– Albert Theron
Ware en geldige leierskap in gemeentes erken die Hoofskap van Christus en Sy gesag deur middel van die Bybel in die praktyk, nie net as ‘n teorie nie.
Enigiemand wat kriewelrig raak wanneer die fokus op Christus se absolute gesag in die gemeente geplaas word, wat gedurig hamer op gesag en onderwerping, wat tot vervelens toe praat van “covering” en wat begin om mense geestelik te intimideer en manipuleer wanneer hulle opstaan in hulle eie bedieninge en gawes is vanselfsprekend deurtrek met die gesindheid van ‘n Diótrefes:
“Ek het aan die gemeente geskrywe, maar Diótrefes, wat onder hulle die eerste wil wees, steur hom nie aan ons nie.” 3 Johannes vers 9
Diótrefes was ‘n leier in die gemeente wat die apostel Johannes aan skryf. Hy was waarskynlik ‘n dinamiese man met ‘n sterk persoonlikheid wat sy eie gesag opgestel het , onafhanklik van die apostels in die antieke kerk. Ons weet nie veel van hom nie, maar genoeg om sy gesindheid en benadering tot geestelike leierskap te identifiseer en te weerlê sou dit in ons gemeentes sy verskyning maak. Twee dinge is duidelik uit ons teks: Hy wou die kitaar slaan in die gemeente en hy het die instruksie en gesag van die apostels ignoreer.
Hoe moet ons dit interpreteer vir vandag? Eerstens moet ons sekerlik erken dat ons hele “clergy -laity” sisteem vandag homself wawyd oopstel vir die gees van Diotrefes. Diotrefes sou homself heerlik kon uitleef in ons hedendaagse gemeentes en ons sou waarskynlik nie eers gedink het daar is iets fout nie. Of dalk ís ons gemeentes werklik vol Diotrefese en ons identifiseer net nie die probleem nie?
Tweedens is die gesag van die apostels van die Nuwe Testament vandag net op een plek te vinde en dit is in die geskrewe Nuwe Testament. Enigiemand wat dus die reg van ander gelowiges in ‘n gemeente om ook vir hulleself die Skrif te ondersoek, ondermyn of wat die gesag van die Bybel ignoreer en homself as gesag aanstel oor die Bybel is ‘n moderne Diotrefes.
“Maar julle, laat jul nie Rabbi noem nie, want een is julle leermeester: Christus, en julle is almal broeders. En julle moet niemand op die aarde julle vader noem nie, want een is julle Vader, Hy wat in die hemele is. Julle moet julle ook nie leermeesters laat noem nie, want een is julle leermeester: Christus.” Mattheüs 23:8-10
Ongelukkig, as ons moet eerlik wees, is die meeste van ons leierskapstrukture vandag “Diotrefes strukture” wat die geestelike groei van die individuele dissipel van Jesus subtiel ondermyn. Dit nooi as’t ware hierdie dominerende gees uit om homself tuis te maak in ons gemeentes. Verder is die hele Nuwe Apostoliese Reformasie (die sogenaamde NAR) ‘n baie aggressiewe beweging wat ‘n heel nuwe dimensie gee aan die Diotrefes probleem in gemeentes. Dit promoveer skaamteloos die Diotrefes model van leierskap op ‘n streeksvlak (trans-lokaal) en die meeste gelowiges en selfs leiers in plaaslike gemeentes is salig onbewus van wat aan die gang is.
Die NAR is obsessief oor leierskap en dit verkondig en versprei “apostoliese gesag” deur die tekste oor apostels in die Nuwe Testament net so toe te pas op hedendaagse “apostels”. Die apostel se woord is dan wet en as’t ware gelykstaande aan die Bybel in die praktyk van hierdie gemeentes. Dit is niks anders as ‘n volskaalse Diotrefes epidemie nie en dit het die potensiaal om die persoonlike verhouding van dissipels met Jesus radikaal te ondermyn. Dit is in ‘n sin ‘n nuwe vorm van Rooms Katolieke leierskap en ons moet dit dringend afwys en verwerp op Bybelse gronde.
A CLOSED MOUTH AND A SILENT HEART – A.W. Tozer
My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue…. Psalm 39:3
Prayer among evangelical Christians is always in danger of degenerating into a glorified gold rush. Almost every book on prayer deals with the “get” element mainly. How to get things we want from God occupies most of the space. Now, we gladly admit that we may ask for and receive specific gifts and benefits in answer to prayer, but we must never forget that the highest kind of prayer is never the making of requests. Prayer at its holiest moment is the entering into God to a place of such blessed union as makes miracles seem tame and remarkable answers to prayer appear something very far short of wonderful by comparison.
Holy men of soberer and quieter times than ours knew well the power of silence. David said, “I was dumb with silence. I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned; then spake I with my tongue.” There is a tip here for God’s modern prophets. The heart seldom gets hot while the mouth is open. A closed mouth before God and silent heart are indispensable for the reception of certain kinds of truth. No man is qualified to speak who has not first listened.
DIE VOLGORDE IS KRITIES BELANGRIK! – Albert Theron
Soms hoor ons mense sê die Bybel is die “Handboek vir die lewe”; dit is die “Eienaar se Handleiding”. Dit leer ons m.a.w. hoe om te lewe volgens “die spesifikasies van die Skepper” wat ons gemaak het. Dit is baie kosbaar en waar, maar is die Bybel primêr ‘n boek wat ons leer hoe om te lewe? Ek dink nie so nie. Die Bybel is primêr ‘n boek wat ons leer wie God is en dan wie ons is in Hom. Dááruit vloei die praktyk van ons lewens.
Alles wat die Bybel ons leer oor ‘n wyse en waardige lewe op aarde is 100% gebaseer op ons identiteit in Christus. God vereis ‘n heilige, regverdige en liefdevolle lewe van Sy skepsels omdat dit is wie Hý is en ons is geskape na Sý beeld en gelykenis.
“En God het die mens geskape na sy beeld; na die beeld van God het Hy hom geskape; man en vrou het Hy hulle geskape.” Genesis 1:27
Die Sondeval het natuurlik die skakel tussen ons en God gebreek en van ons gemaak wie ons nie is nie. Wedergeboorte herstel die skakel en bring boonop die uiters belangrike ekstra dimensie van Christus wat in ons kom woon. Daarom moet al die opdragte en oproepe tot ‘n heilige lewe nou gelees word in die lig van wie God is en wie ons is in Hom.
“Omdat daar geskrywe is: Wees heilig, want Ek is heilig.” 1 Petrus 1:16
Die kruis van Jesus is daarom ook nie net die basis vir vergifnis van sondes nie, maar die “swaard” van God wat ons afsny van alles wat ons nie is nie, sodat ons kan wees wie ons wel is in Christus.
“Maar wat my betref, mag ek nooit roem nie, behalwe in die kruis van onse Here Jesus Christus, deur wie die wêreld vir my gekruisig is en ek vir die wêreld.” Galasiërs 6:14
As jy weer ‘n opdrag sien in die Bybel vra die vraag “wie is God en wie is ek”? Dit werp ‘n heel nuwe lig op die “spesifikasies van die Skepper”. ‘n Koning se seun of dogter verteenwoordig die Koning en moet optree soos Hy sou optree in elke situasie. Onthou wie jy is en ook wie jy nie is nie. Onthou veral Wie in jou leef!
MAKE THE BEST USE OF SPARE MOMENTS – Tabor Laughlin
If you think about it, the accumulation of spare moments in our days quickly adds up. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, waiting at the bus stop, walking to class, waiting for the start of a meeting — usually our minds are unemployed during these moments, or occupied by social media. But for those who are looking to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16), there is a means of grace perfectly suited to these short pockets of time: Bible memorization.
Ten years ago, when I worked as a teacher in China, I decided to take advantage of my free time throughout the day by memorizing Bible verses. I’d write a verse or a passage on an index card and pull it out throughout the day whenever I wasn’t doing anything else. In just a few years’ time, I had memorized over a thousand verses from God’s word — whole passages and even chapters from the Bible were locked in memory and doing their work in my heart.
To this day, I would count those stacks of Bible verse index cards among my most valuable possessions. I take them with me and still use them every day.
I’ve found that whether one spends lots of time in Scripture memory, or just a little time, it is always an incredibly valuable thing to do. It’s easy to consider our short breaks in the day to be “our own time” to relax or surf the internet or watch TV. While these are by no means bad things, we should weigh the value of these activities against the great gift of time to learn God’s word. I can assure you, whether you can invest ten or fifteen minutes each day into Scripture memory, or longer (or shorter) than that, any effort we make is time well spent.
For while rest and recreation have some value, memorizing Scripture has value in many ways.
YOU CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND THEOLOGY – Marshall Segal
What’s more dangerous to the human soul — money or theology?
Money is the easy answer. Paul warns us, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10). Treasure money, and what it can buy, more than God, and it will rob you of him and buy you terrifying, unending pain, apart from him.
Jesus himself says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24; see also Hebrews 13:5). The God of Christianity and the god of money are irreconcilably opposed. They cannot room together in the human heart. If you find yourself serving money — consuming yourself with earning, gathering, and spending — by definition you are not serving God.
But is money more spiritually dangerous than theology? The answer may be trickier than we think, especially within the numbing comfort of a proudly affluent and educated American church. Money is a tangible, countable, often visible god. Theology, on the other hand — if it is cut off from truly knowing and enjoying God himself — can be a soothing, subtle, superficially spiritual god. Both are deadly, but one lulls us into a proud, intellectual, and purely cosmetic confidence and rest before God. Theology will kill you if it does not kindle a deep and abiding love for the God of the Bible, and if it does not inspire a desire for his glory, and not ultimately our own.
AN APPOINTMENT IN YOUR HEART – Warren Wiersbe
Read Psalm 5:1-12
It’s imperative for us to meet God in the morning if we want to have a good day. Jesus got up early in the morning to pray, according to Mark 1:35. Here we find the psalmist saying, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up” (v. 3).
When I used to work the night shift, I would sleep in the morning. So when I got up in the afternoon, I would meet with the Lord. Meeting with God is not an appointment on a clock but an appointment in your heart. Does God hear your voice in the morning? When He looks on you at the beginning of your day, does He look on you as a priest who has come to offer Him sacrifices of praise? That’s what direct means (v. 3)–“to order my prayer.” It means to arrange the sacrifice on the altar.
When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself that you are one of God’s priests. How did you become a priest? Through faith in Jesus Christ. “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:5,6). You’re one of God’s priests. That means wherever you are is God’s temple, because your body is His temple.
The first thing we do in the morning is the first thing the high priest used to do every morning. He laid the burnt offering on the altar. The burnt offering is a picture of total dedication to God. If you want to have a good day, start by giving yourself to the Lord as a burnt offering, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). A good day begins in the morning, and it begins at the altar.
Does your day begin with God? If not, decide to start each morning by dedicating yourself to Him as a living sacrifice and ask His guidance for the day’s decisions and actions. He wants to direct your life. So view each day as a gift from God and determine to be a good steward of the day’s resources. Make your time with Him a daily appointment.
GOD RESTORES THE BRUISED REED AND THE FLICKERING LAMP – Oswald Chambers
Satan ever perverts what God says. Genesis 3:5 is one of the revelation facts concerning Satan (“For God knows that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”). Remember, the characteristics of man’s union with God are faith in God and love for Him. This union was the first thing Satan aimed at in Adam and Eve, and he did it by perverting what God had said.
In the case of Job, Satan goes the length of trying to pervert God’s idea of man. That is an amazing revelation of the power of Satan! He is represented as presenting himself with the sons of God in the very presence of God and trying to pervert God’s mind about Job. We might apply personally (not exegetically) this statement from Isaiah: “A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench.” Satan is called “the accuser of our brethren”; he not only slanders God to us, but accuses us to God.
It is as if he looked down and pointed out a handful of people and insinuated to God, “Now, that woman is a perfect disgrace to You, she has only one spark of grace amongst all the fibres of her life; I advise You to stamp out that spark.” What is the revelation? “He will raise it to a flame.” Or, he points out a man and says, “That man is a disgrace to You, he is a ‘bruised reed,’ I wonder You build any hope on him whatever, he is a hindrance and an upset to You, break him!” But no, the Lord will bind him up and make him into a wonderful instrument. The old reeds were used to make wonderful musical instruments, and instead of crushing out the life that is bruised and wrong, God heals it and discourses sweet music through it.
GOD WILL BE TO YOU WHAT YOU ARE TO HIM – Austin Sparks
Oh, how easily many lives are side-tracked, simply because they are not desperate enough! They are caught in things which limit – things which may be good, that may have something of God in them, but which none the less are limiting things, and do not represent a wide open way to all God’s purpose. The only way for us to come into all that the Lord means – not only into what we have seen but into all that He has purposed – is to be desperate, to be men of violence; to be men who say, ‘By God’s grace, nothing and no one, however good, is going to stand in my way; I am going on with God.’ Have that position with the Lord, and you will find that God meets you on that ground.
No men – not even Paul himself – knew all that they were going to know. Paul was constantly getting fuller unveilings of that unto which he was called. He received something fairly strong and rich at the beginning; then, later, he was shown unspeakable things (II Corinthians 12:4). He was growing in apprehension. But why? Because he was a man of violence. God meets us like that. “With the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.” (Psalm 18:26). That, in principle, means that God will be to you what you are to Him. He will mean business if you mean business. There is a vast amount in the Kingdom that we have never suspected. Do believe that.
HEMEL BEGIN IN JOU HART – Albert Theron
Dawid, die man na God se hart, het die helfte van die 150 Psalms geskryf. Hierdie Psalms maak dit baie duidelik dat hy ‘n diep verhouding met God gehad het. Wat was die geheim van sy kosbare en intieme verhouding met God? Ons sien in Psalm 16 dat hy in geloof gedurig in herinnering geroep het dat die Here by hom was.
“Ek stel die HERE altyddeur voor my; omdat Hy aan my regterhand is, sal ek nie wankel nie.” Psalms 16:8
God self sê vir Dawid se seun, Salomo, in 1 Konings 9 dat Dawid “voor sy aangesig” gewandel het.
“En wat jou betref, as jy wandel voor my aangesig soos jou vader Dawid gewandel het…” 1 Konings 9:4a
In die Nuwe Testament sien ons dat Paulus op grond van die verlossingswerklikhede van die evangelie dissipels van Jesus oproep om hulle hart en denke te rig op die Here.
“As julle dan saam met Christus opgewek is, soek die dinge daarbo waar Christus is en aan die regterhand van God sit.” Kolossense 3:1
Ons staan onder ‘n beter verbond as Dawid en het nog meer verlossingsvoorregte tot ons beskikking. Daarom het ons geen verskoning om nie ook in so ‘n intieme verhouding met God te wandel nie. Ons leef in werklikheid voor die aangesig van God, maar ons het nodig om onsself daagliks in geloof te herinner aan hierdie wonderlike waarheid. Op geen ander manier kan ons begin om hemel op aarde te beleef nie. Die hemel (Jesus) het aarde toe gekom om die aarde (gelowiges) hemel toe te neem sodat die mense op aarde nou-al hemel kan begin beleef op aarde. Glo dit. Dis waar.
RESENTMENT CANNOT DWELL IN A LOVING HEART – A.W. Tozer
I have been around religious circles quite a long time and I have never heard the word resent used by a victorious man. Or at least if he used the word it was not to express any feelings within his own heart. In the course of scores of conferences and hundreds of conversations, I have many times heard people say, “I resent that.” But I repeat: I have never heard the words used by a victorious man. Resentment simply cannot dwell in a loving heart. Before resentfulness can enter, love must take its flight and bitterness take over. The bitter soul will compile a list of slights at which it takes offense and will watch over itself like a mother bear over her cubs. And the figure is apt, for the resentful heart is always surly and suspicious like a she-bear.
Few sights are more depressing than that of a professed Christian defending his supposed rights and bitterly resisting any attempt to violate them. Such a Christian has never accepted the way of the cross. The sweet graces of meekness and humility are unknown to him. He grows every day harder and more acrimonious as he defends his reputation, his rights, his ministry, against his imagined foes. The only cure for this sort of thing is to die to self and rise with Christ into newness of life. The man who sets the will of God as his goal will reach that goal, not by self-defense but by self-abnegation. Then no matter what sort of treatment he receives from his fellow men he will be altogether at peace. The will of God has been done—whether by curses or compliments he cares not, for he seeks not one or the other but only to do the will of God at any cost. Then, whether riding the crest of public favor or dwelling in the shadow of obscurity, he will be content. If there are some who take pleasure in holding him down, still he will not resent them, for he seeks not advancement but the will of God.
‘N VADER EN SY FAMILIE
– Albert Theron
Deur die wedergeboorte het ons deel geword van God die Vader se familie en in hierdie familie het ons Vader een baie spesifieke oogmerk met sy kinders se lewens. In Romeine 8 maak Paulus dit baie duidelik wat hierdie oogmerk is.
“Want die wat Hy vantevore geken het, dié het Hy ook vantevore verordineer om gelykvormig te wees aan die beeld van sy Seun, sodat Hy die eersgeborene kan wees onder baie broeders.” Romeine 8:29
Die Vader se konsekwente oogmerk met alles in ons lewens is om ons te maak soos sy Seun Jesus. Alles wat ons sien van Jesus se karakter in die vier evangelies is bedoel om vir ons ‘n voorbeeld te wees van wat die Vader beoog met ons lewens. Alles wat ons leer van Jesus se verhouding met sy Vader (sien veral die evangelie van Johannes) is bedoel om ons op te roep tot ‘n soortgelyke verhouding met die Vader.
Wat is die hoë roeping van dissipelskap? Niks anders as om in jou karakter meer en meer soos Jesus te word nie. Dit gebeur deur ons eenheid met die lewe van Christus in ons en die lering en bediening van die Heilige Gees. Maar dit kan ook net gebeur as ons begin verstaan wat die Vader se doel en plan met ons is en begin identifiseer met die karakter van Jesus in die Skrif. Anders mik ons heeltyd vir die verkeerde dinge en met al ons godsdiens en aktiwiteite bly ons karakter basies onveranderd. Lees bietjie 1 Korinthiërs 13 verse 1 tot 3 in hierdie verband.
FOCUSING ON GOD’S HEART – Titus Chu
There is a great difference between being according to God’s heart and doing things for God. Doing things for God with no realization of God’s heart has little meaning. We should focus on what God is after. As we confront the practical realities of life, such as career and family, what is our focus? Too often, it is not the Lord. Even in our Christian service, we may do things without touching God’s heart. If we realize the importance of knowing God’s heart, our service will be healthy, and we will be blessed.
We all need to consider why we do what we do. For instance, if you are a student, why did you choose the college you attend? You may respond, “I want to have a good career.” Why? “So I can get married and raise a family.” Again, why? So you can have grandchildren? What is your goal?
Even in smaller matters we should ask ourselves this ques tion. Suppose you like to buy spiritual books. Ask yourself why. You may answer, “I am trying to acquire a good library.” Why? Perhaps you would eventually admit, “I want to be respected as a spiritual brother.” Dare we ask why one more time? Many faithful, zealous Christians live out their entire lives without ever answering the question, “Why am I doing this?” The Lord today is hard-pressed to find anyone who cares about what is on His heart. We may live our lives piously, admirably, and even faithfully, but unless our goal is the Lord’s profit, He will not find His satisfaction in us.
UNITY, DIVERSITY AND MATURITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST – Warren Wiersbe
One of the marks of an individual’s maturity is a growing understanding of, and appreciation for, his own body. There is a parallel in the spiritual life: as we mature in Christ, we gain a better understanding of the church, which is Christ’s body. The emphasis in recent years on “body life” has been a good one. It has helped to counteract the wrong emphasis on “individual Christianity” that can lead to isolation from the local church. Of course, the image of the “body” is not the only one Paul used in discussing the church, and we must be careful not to press it too far. The church is also a family, an army, a temple, and even a bride; and each image has important lessons to teach us.
However, in three of his letters, Paul gave emphasis to the church as a body; and, in each of these passages, he brought out the same three important truths: unity, diversity, and maturity. The chart below makes this clear. It is impossible to discuss the body without also discussing the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:1–13
1 Corinthians 12:14-31
1 Corinthians 13:1–13
It was the Spirit who gave birth to the body at Pentecost and who ministers in and through the body. In the Corinthian church, unfortunately, the members were grieving the Holy Spirit by the carnal ways in which they were using spiritual gifts. They were like children with toys instead of adults with valuable tools, and they needed to mature.