Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday-- Standby

Due to technical difficulties, I will be posting my Thoughtful Thursday tomorrow (Lord-willing).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

John Piper - Why Memorize Scripture?

Scripture Saturday ; )

A friend of mine suggested I read this Psalm and it is indeed very beautiful.

Psalm 25 

Of David.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship(or secret counsel) of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.

A few things stood out to me. 

"For you I wait all the day long." I had to ask myself, "Do I wait for Him all the day long?" And in being totally honest with myself, I don't. It's more like I take the time to make my requests to Him, but I don't take any time to listen. That was convicting. I need to take the time to hear from the Lord. Listening is much more important than talking. Why else did God give us two ears and one mouth?
So, how am I going to make listening for Him a priority? Well, the obvious answer is to find time to be still. Where can I get some extra time alone? In the morning. Instead of sleeping 9+ hours at night, I can do with less.

"Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old." From of old. When I read the Old Testament and the New, God seems to be different. I don't picture Him being Merciful and full of steadfast love in the Old Testament. Oh, He is, but I guess how He had to deal with His people before Christ made the sacrifice makes it seem this way. God doesn't change and hasn't changed. Ever. And this statement made by David confirms it. God has always been how He is now. What a comfort.

"All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies." God has not made life complicated. It is not difficult to understand what God expects from us. Sometimes it can be difficult to surrender, but even that is made easier when one thinks about the alternative. I bless God because He desires our lives to be blessed and He has made the path to that blessing quite straightforward.

"Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
The friendship(or secret counsel) of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant." More about the blessing of following the Lord's path. "The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him". WOW! That just blows me away.

"May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you." And there it is again, waiting for the Lord. And I have heard that this is to be an active waiting. To be about the Lord's work that has been revealed in Scripture as you wait for another part of His will to be revealed to you. So often I just want to sit back and wait for God to do something. It doesn't *always* work that way. So much of His will has already been revealed. Do what you know to do. His will for your individual life will become apparent as you obey Him.

Well, friend, thanks for the suggestion. I haven't had such good Bible study in a while : )

PS "Scripture Saturday" is not necessarily a new fixture to my blog. Just for today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thoughtful God doesn't change

Or miss a deadline He made for Himself.


What I've been reading this week really answered my main questions about Prayer. "Does prayer really make a difference? Can I make God change His mind? Why pray if it doesn't change anything?"
The chapter I read is titled, "Sovereign: Does prayer change God's mind?". The author uses the example of when Moses intercedes for the Israelites and it appears that God 'repents'.

"And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people." Exodus 32:9-14

Read the story and it does sound like Moses had a lot of influence with the God of the universe. It's kinda scary. Just imagine, that if someone had enough faith, they would be able to stop God from doing something? Or make Him do something?

I never want to be able to do that with my prayers. I don't know what is the ultimate best for me. I can try to make wise decisions. But only someone who is omniscient (all-knowing) would know what the best course is.

The author goes on to say that he believes this is one of several examples of the Bible-writers using human figures of speech to try to describe God. One example being that God is a Spirit, but is said to have a hand, mouth, arm, heart and breath, all in Isaiah 40.

We see in the following verses...

God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” 1 Samuel 15:29

...that God does not change His mind, like a man.
So where does this leave us?

In "Drive-by Theology" with Todd Friel and Pastor R W Glenn, the topic of God's unchangeability  came up. I was very interested to hear how they explained it. 'Pastor Smarty-pants' (R W Glenn) shared his belief that God's nature does not change. Which leaves room for Him to change His mind, technically. Sounds alright. But we do have the two verses above saying that He doesn't even change His mind. So...

I'm sure I could study this for a very long time and not get to the bottom of it. It's one of those things like the Trinity and election/freewill. I'm not going to break my head over it.

God is omniscient (All-knowing), omnipotent (All-powerful), and sovereign (in control) over all things. Including our prayers. Could it be that, along with the decisions we make, the actions we take, our prayers are even directed by God? I like to say yes. If he is indeed sovereign, we do nothing apart from His directing it. Even our next heartbeat, our next blink is caused by Him. I know it's hard to believe that God causes all things when we think of all the bad things that happen in the world. I don't claim to like it or understand it. But I do take great comfort in the fact that Someone has control and that Someone is Good.

So what were the answers to my questions?

Does prayer really make a difference?
Prayer does make a difference. Even if I don't know how.

Can I make God change His mind?
No, I can't make God change His mind. And that's a good thing.

Why pray if it doesn't change anything?
Because God uses my prayers to make a difference in me.

I'm satisfied with those answers for now. And I'm experiencing a better prayer life because of it. : )

Fail Friday, indeed

Continuing with that theme...I didn't pass my road test. : (

He got me for going too fast and my lane usage. Things I know not to do, but I guess with my nerves, I just  didn't think. My nerves always made me play too fast for piano recitals too.


It wasn't as involved as I thought it would be (I'd rather do the road test than the written test) and I get to practice for 2 weeks and ace it on the 8th of July : )

Thanks for your prayers...The man who did the test was very nice and didn't add to my nerves. And we stayed safe on the road. So, even though I'm disappointed with myself (I knew better!), I am excited for a second (and last) try.

Got the tire fixed, by the way.

Fail Friday

Yeah, so I missed Thoughtful Thursday. I have something in the works and I hope to get it published today. More about Prayer.

It's been a busy week and today is a little wacky...My appointment for a driving test is at 2 today and Mom discovered one of our tires was as flat as could be when she went to leave for the grocery store this morning. Daddy came and got it and hopefully will be able to get it fixed. 

Will get back to you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This is War - Paul Washer

This is hard-hitting, but so, so needed.

Please listen to the whole thing. I was very challenged.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--The God Who Hears

Mom read the post I wrote last week and gave me a book to read. It was recommended to her when she was a new believer and was trying to understand more about prayer. The title is "The God Who Hears" and it was written by W. Bingham Hunter. I don't know anything about him, so if any of you know for sure that he is a heretic, let me know. So far, it's all been kosher.

I've only had time to read the first three chapters, but already have had some questions answered. And truly, like so many other things about God, we won't fully understand prayer in this life. But we can try.

This isn't a review about the book, but I must say I love how the author is approaching the concept of prayer. He is making the case that you must have a proper understanding of God before you can understand how to pray properly.

First, he talks about the Holiness of God. The Holiness of God is often symbolized as light. 

God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

God the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom on one has seen or can see... 1 Timothy 6:15-16

Our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29

If God's Holiness is light, just imagine what it does when it comes near us; it reveals our nastiness.
Darkness cannot comprehend light. 

The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome[understood, comprehended] it. John 1:5 (The Light being Christ)

Also, when the Light comes, darkness must flee. Hallelujah!

The author goes on to say that our idea of holiness, the culture's idea, is a negative one. Being Holy is viewed as not doing wrong, or not having fun, not enjoying anything. I know that's the first thing that pops in my head still when I hear the term 'holy'. I'm still working on that Biblical Worldview.

But that's not what holiness is. Holiness does mean "to be separate", but to be separate from evil and separate to good. When we are saved, our sin is removed from us, but God's holiness is also imputed to us. We take off the sinful robe of our father Adam and are given Christ's holiness to put on instead.

Holiness is not a lack of activity; it is living set apart to God.

It is when we begin to have a better, more biblical understanding of God's holiness, which we have been given (if we have been redeemed), that we understand 
how to approach Him, 
our position in relation to Him 
and our need for repentance and forgiveness.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

I think I'd like to continue with what I'm reading over the next few Thursday's, so stay tuned.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday-Prayer

Okay, so here it is 'Thoughtful Thursday' once again.

Well, this week I've been thinking a lot about prayer. What it is, how it's done and why it should be done.

It's always been hard for me to understand. I can remember thinking, "What good is prayer anyway, if God is sovereign and will do what He will do no matter?" But I know God wants us to be in communion with Him. That's what prayer is. The Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing". Must be pretty important. I've heard it attributed to C.S. Lewis, the saying, "Prayer doesn't change God, it changes us." But if we keep just asking God for things, how does this change us? That made me realize that prayer must be done along with a regular diet of bible-reading. We read the Bible to better understand God's heart and ways, and then we will know better how to pray.

I still have many questions and want to do more research before I write much about it. So, I shall do that this week, and hopefully be ready to share my conclusions by next 'Thoughtful Thursday'.

Any comments?