Can You See Me Now? (Part 3)

Over the last few days we have seen how God reveals Himself through creation as well as through His Holy Word. Today, we are going to look at a few ways God not only revealed His personal nature to us but how He demonstrated it for all to see.

In Hebrews 1:1 we are told “God…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son [Jesus].” It is in the life of Jesus that we get a perfect picture of what God the Father is like. Colossians 1:3 says Jesus “is the image of the invisible God,” while Hebrews 1:3 tells us Jesus is the “brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of His person.” Jesus made it clear in John 14:9 that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father. Therefore, when reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus, we are getting a perfect representation of the Father in heaven.

When we examine the life of Jesus, we are immediately drawn to His concern for all people. It didn’t matter if He was approached by a Roman centurion, Samaritan, tax collector, lawyer, a rich or poor person, He always had time to answer their questions and share with them their deepest need. He didn’t let someone’s social standing or checkbook balance determine their importance. Every person counted regardless of their ethnic background.

He was also concerned for people who were considered dirty by first century standards. Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch a leper, heal those that were sick from various diseases, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to those who were mute, restore the strength of those who were crippled, provide food for the poor, and love those considered to be unlovely. He didn’t recoil from anyone regardless of their condition. He reached out past their affliction, all the way to their heart, and healed them from the inside out. After all, it is the sick who need a doctor, and Jesus came as the great Physician to heal the hearts of the spiritually sick.

Jesus also came to teach us God’s expectations. He taught us that all of life is to be lived by loving the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He set the example of loving others and putting them first.  He told us He did not come to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). We demonstrate our love for our Father in heaven, whom we have not seen, by loving our neighbor who we have seen. As we have already said, Jesus demonstrated this kind of love.

In Jesus we see the Father. We see His compassion, unconditional love, passion to know us and be known by us, forgiveness for even the most vile human being. In Jesus, God reveals His nature, character, integrity, righteousness, and holiness. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father in heaven.

For some, God seems like an uncaring creator who allows us to suffer way too often. For others, God is our grandfather in the sky who spoils us by giving us everything we want. Neither of these views of God are true. He loves you and came to earth in the form of Jesus so that we could know exactly what He is like. If you really want to know more about God, then start reading one chapter a day from the Gospels. Work your way through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament over the next ninety days. While you are reading, pay careful attention to Jesus. Ask Him to reveal His nature that you might know Him better.

“Can you See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 2

Can You See Me Now? (Part 2)

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It has been translated into more than 2,000 languages. You can find it on cell phones, computers, coffee tables, fireplace mantles, as well as a microfilm copy which was taken to the moon on Apollo 14. It has been carved in stone, written on animal hide, papyrus, paper, and I have even seen a chapter tattooed on someone’s back. Needless to say, the Bible is a very popular book to people all around the world.

Unlike other popular books, people do not purchase a Bible to be entertained. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. It is within the pages of the 66 books of the Bible that we find out about God–His love, mercy, compassion, patience, grace, forgiveness, power, beauty, majesty, and so much more. Page after page we see the Creator reaching out to draw His creation into a loving relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us the commands of God, not that we can live up to them, but that we might see His holiness and righteousness and realize our need for His forgiveness. We see His hand of provision, protection, and providence constantly before us tenderly caring for His precious children.

Too often in my life I have performed my daily Bible readings and crossed that off my list of things to do for that day.  I have been so busy reading the book of God that I have missed the God of the book. Through a series of events this became crystal clear to me, so I decided I needed to change. Now, before I begin reading the Bible I ask Jesus to reveal Himself to me in Scripture. As I read I want to see more of Christ that I might know Him more.

As you take time to read your Bible today, please ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you.  Ask to see His character, integrity, honesty, holiness, righteousness, mercy, compassion, grace and other attributes. Don’t read the Bible to see if you are measuring up. Read the Bible to see Christ and then worship Him!

“Can You See Me Now” Part 1

“Can You See Me Now” Part 3

A Renewed Resolution

We are now thirty-nine days into 2012. It has been just over a month since we sat down and made our resolutions for the new year. On January 2nd I posted an article by John Piper entitled, “Not By Bread Alone: Let’s Live on God’s Word in 2012.” In the article we were challenged to find a reading plan that allows us to spend more time in God’s Word, and then commit ourselves to living in the Bible in 2012.

In his post, “Investing Time in Reading God’s Word,” Randy Alcorn reminds us of the importance of keeping the Word of God at the forefront of our lives. This is a wonderful lesson on studying God’s Word. If you enjoy Randy Alcorn’s article be sure to send a link to this post to your friends and family.

Mr. Alcorn writes:

The fact is, you and I will become the product of what we choose to delight in and meditate upon. Psalm 1 says: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

We all meditate, and we’re all shaped by the object of our meditation. We take our attitudinal and behavioral cues from it. This week, will I be shaped by situation comedies, soap operas, and newspapers, or will I be shaped by Isaiah, Luke, A. W. Tozer, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon? It depends on how I choose to spend my time.

Psalm 1 says the one who continually meditates on God’s Word “is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” Trees don’t choose where to place themselves, but we do. We determine what our sources of nourishment will be, which in turn determine whether we bear fruit or wither.

The key to spirituality is the development of little habits, such as Bible reading and memorization and prayer. In putting one foot in front of the other day after day, we become the kind of person who grows and endures rather than withers and dies.

Consider again Psalm 1. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” In each case, there is a physical action— walk, stand, sit. To meditate on the Word involves opening it with our hands, looking at it with our eyes, or speaking it with our lips.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time” (Eph. 5:15–16). Why not redeem two hours of your day that you would have spent on television, newspaper, video games, phone, working overtime, or hobbies? Change your habits. Spend one hour meditating on and/or memorizing Scripture. Spend the other hour reading a great book. Share what you’re learning with your spouse and children, or a friend.

Listen to Scripture and audio books and praise music while you fold clothes, pull weeds, or drive. Say no to talk radio or sports radio, not because they’re bad but because you have something better to do. Fast from television, radio, and the Internet for a week. Discover how much more time you have. Redeem that time by establishing new habits of cultivating your inner life and learning to abide in Christ. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

As John Piper shared in this post challenging readers to dive into God’s word: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Those are the words of Jesus (Matthew 4:4). Let’s take them seriously and live on the word every day in 2012.”

Lord, take us deep into your Word. Let us not be content with empty entertainment and diversions to numb our pain. Your Word doesn’t numb us; instead it makes us alive, energizes us, strengthens and sustains us, and comforts us with truth. It confronts sin in our lives, encourages our obedience, and gives us delight in you. Who but the devil and sin itself would distract us from such treasure? Change our habits of leisure, Lord. Prompt us to abandon entertainment that scorns and violates your Word, to listen to music that celebrates your Word, and to embrace great Scripture-saturated books that lead us to you and your Word. Remind us that your Word is the source of correction, training, eternal perspective, and joyful rest from weariness and sorrow.

To read more by Randy Alcorn go to his site: Eternal Perspective Ministries

Not By Bread Alone: Let’s Live on God’s Word in 2012

by John Piper

At Bethlehem we close prayer week with a focus on the value of  reading and memorizing Scripture in the new year. I preach on the value  of God’s word and the importance of reading and memorizing the Scripture  every day.

Justin Taylor has pulled together a list of possible ways to read the Bible in this new year.

I encourage everyone to take the closing days of the year to plan how you are going to read the Bible in the new year. Don’t leave it to  chance. One of the main reasons we don’t read God’s word is that we  don’t plan to.

This past year I used the McCheyne reading plan, reading it with the Olive Tree Software on the iPad. McCheyne takes you through the whole Bible once, and the  Psalms and the New Testament twice. It was for me a rich daily feast.

We also love to recommend the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan for one main reason. Few things discourage us more from reading the  Bible in a year than falling behind. This plan gives five catch up days  every month. This is absolutely golden!

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Those are the words of Jesus (Matthew 4:4).  Let’s take them seriously and live on the word every day in 2012.

You can read more by John Piper by going to Desiring God.