Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eschatology and Sanctification

In the next couple posts I would like to show how a good understanding of eschatology plays a part in our sanctification. I would like to answer the question, "why should someone put time into the study of eschatology." To begin, for those who have little idea of the meaning of eschatology, I will define the term. Eschatology is the study of last things. What things? Things like the resurrection of the dead, the return of Jesus Christ, the Antichrist, the events surrounding the end of this world, the judgement to come, hell and the new heavens and the new earth. These are some of what are the last things. God has revealed to us in the Bible the events that will come at the end of the this world. There is so much written in the Bible concerning the end times. In almost every book of the Bible there is something revealed to us concerning what will happen in the end. It is clear that God considers this to be important of us. 2 Tim 3:16 and 17 says, "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." This includes the scriptures that deal with future events. These are useful for our growth in Christ-likeness. In fact, the book of Revelation, which is primarily about the end times, is the only book that has a blessing attached to the reading, hearing and obeying of it. Rev 1:3. To not study eschatology is to say that what God says about the end times doesn't matter; that it is not worth even looking at it. Some may object to this study and say it is too hard. This is to put the blame on God. Yes, eschatology is difficult. Yes, there are many different view points. But it is worth the hard work. God will bless us when we carefully study future prophecy with a  honest heart that desires to know the truth. Not everything may became clear, but what God does reveal to us will benefit our souls much.  What God reveals to us in His word, must be seen with the eyes of faith to have any benefit. The greater our faith, the clearer views we will have of the glorious future that God has ordained. We must cry for faith, for all study is in vain with out faith to hold fast to the truth.
So I encourage you to not skip over the hard prophetic passages. Study carefully to see what God will do in the future. Study to see the glory of Jesus Christ and of our eternal home. Over the next couple posts I will try to show how eschatology will be used to sanctify us.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Heart of Prayer

When we grew up, we always had a prayer to say before and after meals. We were required to say these prayers till we were a certain age. So when we had children, we required each of them to pray before and after meals as well. But, a few weeks ago we decided that we would not require them to say their prayers. If they wanted to pray, we would of course encourage them to do so.  Why would we break with this old tradition?  It comes down to understanding what prayer is.
  Prayer is part of our worship. John 4:24 says, " God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Worship that pleases God comes from the right heart attitude and in conformity to the truth in God's word. We can't worship God simply as we please. True worship is not in outward actions only but with a heart that loves and fears God. This applies to prayer as well. The content of our prayer should agree with the Word of God. Our hearts need to be engaged when we pray. This means that quickly speeding though a prayer is wrong. Mindless praying the same old words is wrong. You can repeat the most beautiful prayer, but if you don't mean it, it isn't praying. The Heidelberg Catechism says this about a prayer that is heard by God; " We must from the heart call upon the one true God only, who has revealed Himself in His word for all that He has commanded us to pray." It goes on to say we must have a humble heart knowing our unworthiness and that God will hear us because of the worthiness of Christ. Praying without thought or out of mere habit dishonours God. Let me give an illustration to show this. Imagine that I came home from work and walked into the kitchen. My son comes up to be with a sullen look on his face and a piece of paper in his hands. Before he begins to read the paper, he looks up at his mother. She gives him the do-as-your-told-look. So he begins to read with a sigh. "Dad, I love you. You are a great Dad. Thanks for working so hard for us. Could you give me a new bike for my birthday? Oh and Dad, I am so sorry but I broke your favorite fishing rod today. Please forgive me." Then he walks away.  Is this love? Will I be impressed? Will I listen to his requests? No, we know this kind of communication is not right in our human relationships. So why would we communicate to God like this? We cannot make a person pray--we can only make them say prayers. True prayer flows out of a heart that has been born again. This is why we stopped requiring our children to say their prayers. They were not praying. They just said the words as fast as they could. We were not teaching them to pray, but only the habit of prayer.
  Our children will still learn what it is to pray. We will teach them from the Lord's prayer how and what they are to pray. As we read and explain the Bible to them, there will be times when we can teach them about prayer. Perhaps one of the best ways they can learn to pray is from our prayers. When they hear our prayers, they will see prayer in action. We have a great responsibility to pray with depth and passion. With God's grace they will learn these truths from us.
Lastly, I would say that if you want to teach your children to say prayers, you have the freedom to do so. Just remember what true prayer is. The heart of prayer is the heart. A heart redeemed and made new by Jesus. A heart where the desires, emotions, and thoughts are poured into our prayers.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dancing Before the Lord

I have been making my way through the Psalms in my morning devotions for about a year and a half. 
This morning I arrived at Psalm 149. In verse 3 it says, "Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to Him with tambourine and lyre." Praising the Lord with dancing was a curious thought to me. Now I am no dancer. I have two left feet when it comes to dancing. I feel rather uncomfortable when on the rare occasions I have danced. But here is a command to praise God with dancing. This is not the only time we are told this. In Psalm 150:4, it says, " Praise Him with tambourine and dance." There are two examples of praising God with dancing. In Exodus 15:20, Miriam and the women of Israel praised God with tambourine, dancing and singing for defeating the Egyptians and saving His people Israel through the Red Sea. In 2 Samuel 6:14, David "danced before the Lord with all his might' when the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem. On these two occasions, people danced because they were filled with joy and thankfulness due to God's love, mercy, faithfulness and saving power. Now to go back to Psalm 149 where we are told the reason we should praise God with dancing. "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people, He adorns the humble with salvation" verse 4. We should praise the Lord with music and dancing because in His love He has chosen to give us salvation. So in our lives of worship, there are times when praising God with dancing is good and proper. There should be times when we are so filled with adoration to our Savior and Lord that singing and music won't be enough. We'll need to express that joy with the entire body. Maybe it will be when we first find grace and forgiveness. Maybe it will be at the conversion of someone. Maybe it will be after an answer to prayer. Or maybe it will be after a fresh sight of the glory of God. Have you ever had times when you wanted to dance before the Lord or when you did?
Now this doesn't mean that all forms of dancing are good and to be used to worship. Many forms are to be avoided. But there is a form that is good and proper, otherwise God would not give a command to praise Him with dancing. I shouldn't be surprised to find that in the new heavens and earth, we will often praise God with dancing. God is worthy to be praised with every fiber of our being. So let's begin here on earth with singing, dancing, and making music, knowing we shall do this all the better in glory.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

With Thanksgiving

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:4-7
It is so easy to be anxious--to not think on the fact that God is our ever present help. He is the one through whom we can give grace and love to our children. There are many days where, as I'm struggling with impatience, frustration, and selfishness that I'm just breathing out prayers to God to give me strength--to give me the grace that I need. But, as the text says we're to make our requests through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Even in the difficult moments. Even when you can get nothing done because your child is clinging to you and whining because he or she is not feeling well. Even when you're trying to potty train and the puddles keep appearing--right after you've put him or her on the toilet and they 'were done.' Even when your child shows a lazy, rebellious attitude. Let us make those requests but let us also give thanks in those situations--that they are opportunities to serve. Opportunities to show love and grace. Opportunities to disciple a child and point them to Christ.


We thought it'd be good to share what we are learning as we study Scripture and as we live our daily lives, striving to serve God.

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." -1Thess. 5:11

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