Thursday, May 29, 2008
In the opening message of the conference, Josh Harris spoke to us about three possible responses to God's Word.
1. Josiah (2 Kings 22)- "Ripping"
The Word of God had been lost for at least a generation from the people of God. They were worshipping idols, following their own selfish desires, and doing pretty much everything you'd expect from a people that didn't have scripture growing up. God in His grace moved Josiah to reopen the temple and directed men there to find God's word, preserved in a forgotten corner. When it was read before Josiah, he tore his robes for shame of how he and the people had gone against God. He literally wept in repentance.
How often do we respond this way? Do we weep after reading God's word and seeing how far short we've fallen or do we immediately point to others and rebuke them for their failings? Josh stated that true reformation comes from seeing God's Word and then changing our lives accordingly, as Josiah did with all of Israel. God's Word is powerful, and we must humble ourselves before it and be changed by it.
2. Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36)- "Burning"
This King was the grandson of Josiah and had a very different response to God's Word. When it was read before him, he tore it apart, a piece at a time, and burned it. He showed no fear of retribution; no fear of God. His heart was a cold piece of stone and his prideful heart though he was above such things as a Word from God.
We may read this passage and be shocked, but how often do we fall into the same trap. We burn God's Word in simple ways, like neglecting to read it, or making it a chore to be checked off our to-do list, or by reading it and ignoring the commands for life-change. We cannot blow off God's Word simply because we don't agree with it or it may be hard to obey. God's Word is God's Word, no matter where it comes from or how it feels confronting our hearts. Josh said that often how we listen is more about the man [preacher] than about the Word. We get excited for certain speakers, and tune out for others. This shows a lack of humility and trust that God can and will accomplish whatever He desires through His word, no matter what the vessel that carries it looks or sounds like.
3. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:16)- "Eating"
Jeremiah, in the midst of discouragement, takes up God's Word, eats it, and is delighted by it. Eating takes a great amount of trust in what you are eating. The food becomes a part of us and affects us. This was the reaction from Jeremiah, a reaction of delight and joy.
This delight isn't a reward for complaining to God about our problems. God offers hope to those who repent, not to whining babies that think they know better than God. The Word is what offers us hope in the midst of discouragement.
So, how do we react to God's Word? I hope that as you listen through these messages (linked above) God's Word will again become a delight to your heart and a satisfaction to your soul.
"An understanding of the gospel transforms our view of the Bible."
"The Bible isn't about all we need to do for God. It is about all that God has done for us through Christ."
Sunday, May 25, 2008
An example of this I experienced this weekend was the conversation in our car after a great message from Mark Dever on the Authority of Scripture. You would think that after being challenged by God's Word, the conversation would be reflective of that. Imagine eating a wonderful shrimp scampi with garlic and butter and lemon. You enjoyed it and now the taste lingers with you even after the meal. When you talk to your friends, they smell it on your breath. What you have eaten lasts longer than just the meal. Listening to a message should affect us the same way. Others should be able to tell by our countenance, our spiritual aroma if you will, what we just listened to and it should rub off. If you listen to a great message, or even just an adequate message that accurately reflects God's Word, you should have a desire to speak about that to others. If you quickly are involved in conversation about your favorite episode of the Office, or the latest contestant booted from your reality show, after hearing from God's Word, there is something wrong with your spiritual digestive system.
Our old pastor, Bob Whitney, called this parking lot vomit. He said that many people hear God's Word, eat of it in the service, then, like a bolemic that wants to appear healthy but doesn't want the implications of eating to affect them, they vomit what they have heard in the parking lot before they get in their cars and are soon talking excitedly about the big game coming up or the lunch that is cooking. What is wrong with us, and I include myself in this, when we hear the Word of the living God and remain unchanged? That is how a non-believer is described in James 1:22-25. They hear the Word of God, but it changes nothing about how they live. Where is the delight and the joy it brought the Psalmist of Psalm 119?
We need to return to a love of God's Word, whatever the source. We need to enjoy receiving the Word from sermons, worship songs, books, and most essentially, the Bible itself. If God's Word isn't transforming our conversations, which are small things, how can we expect it to change our lives. Matthew 12:25 tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. If you were to record all of your conversation for just one day, would you be proud of the kind of heart that is reflected in that? I'm not sure I would. We must cry out to God that He restore a love for His Word and that it becomes a treasure again to our souls.
I am so thankful that God is reawakening a love for Him and His Word in my heart through this weekend. I pray that the effects will be long lasting. How wonderful would it be if we were known for having profitable, uplifting, encouraging, challenging, and Biblical conversations. The things of this world that we get so caught up in are passing away. We get so invested in T.V. shows about people we don't know and lifestyles we will never have that those people become our focus. We must shift that focus to the eternal. Speech that is truly edifying is speech that focuses on the everlasting. I pray that for myself as I endeavor to love God more.
Grace and Peace...
Sessions: We've heard from Josh Harris, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler so far with C.J. Mahaney coming tonight. Josh's message was very challenging in terms of how we receive God's Word. He challenged us to listen, not to the man, but to the Word. It shouldn't matter how the message is being delivered. We should come into the time with a heart and mind focused to receive from God's word whatever He might have for us. I was challenged personally in that area as I was listening to Josh. I wasn't really engaged in his message until he talked about what I just mentioned. After that I took some great notes and really enjoyed what he had to say. Mark was also very encouraging. He spoke about the authority of God's word and spoke to both believers and non-believers, speaking about both the historical evidence for the authenticity of scripture as well as the evidence from the OT, NT, and Christ Himself. I could post all my notes, but I'll just encourage you to listen to the message when you have a chance. I'm sure they'll be available for free in a few days from the New Attitude website.
This morning most of us went down to the Ohio river and spent a good time in Psalm 119, both individually and corporately. Having a quality time in the Word has been something I've always wrestled with. This morning I had such a sweet time in the first three sections. I was really struck by the example of David from verse 20 where he says he is consumed by God's word and in verse 14 where God's words are more precious than riches. I am thankful that God is encouraging my heart to take rest in Him and not to delight in temporal things that are passing away.The worship has been excellent, and I'm looking forward to bringing back a few new songs. Here are the new ones I've loved so far:
-O Happy Day! by Tim hughes
-Psalm 19 by Terry Butler
-All I Have is Christ by Jordan Kauflin
Well, time to head off for some C.J. Mahaney tonight. I'll post more before bed. Later all, and remember to continue tasting and cherishing God's Word....