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Archive for May, 2008

“Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.”  Jeremiah 15:16

This was the theme verse for the New Attitude Conference in Louisville, KY over Memorial Day weekend–a gathering of hundreds of young adults who are pursuing humble orthodoxy!

Meditating on this verse and listening to the first message by Joshua Harris has challenged, rebuked and stirred my soul as I have pondered two questions:

  • Does the Word of God consume me?
  • Does the Word of God shape me? [my thinking, attitudes, views, life]

How would your soul answer these questions today? Oh, may we say anew and afresh, “Bring us the book! Give us the book!”

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Discernment is “the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong” (Tim Challies).

If the above definition is true (and I think it is), where should discernment start? I propose that it starts with how one thinks of God. A. W. Tozer wrote in The Knowledge of the Holy, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” He goes on to say,

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any given time may so or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. . . .Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightest word in any language is its word for God.

Trace any error in doctrine or religion and you will see that it began with some wrong view of God. Our thoughts about God shape everything else.

So discernment starts with your view of God. This is discernment 101. If you want to be able to discern between truth and error, you have to make sure you know God or else, in the words of J. I. Packer, “you sentences yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”

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I have been reading a chapter on the spiritual discipline of time and thinking about this issue with a group of encouraging men.  One of the truths that fascinates me is that Jesus never seemed emotionally or physically rushed.  He ministered long hours and frequently under circumstances that wrung a lot out of him, humanly speaking.   His ministry was spiritually demanding.

But Jesus was a man who cultivated relationships, rested and enjoyed moments of relaxation.  Jesus never wasted an hour of time but he never seemed rush.  At the end of his life, he could say, “Father, I have completed the work you sent Me to do” (John 17:4).

Jesus is our Model in the disciplined use of time. And what is amazing is that in the middle of everything, he was never too busy for people.  Oh, how convicted I felt after reading this article (highly recommended), realizing how often I think “I’m too busy!”

Amazing!  Jesus never was too busy! He always had time and He always will!

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Imagine for a moment:  what if God was not tenderhearted? What if he did not forgive all your sin? What if he didn’t forgive any sin?  How would that not only impact your relationship with God?  How would it impact your relationship with others? How would this world be different if God were not forgiving?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

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We have all heard this:  “It isn’t what you know but who you know.” That is true sometimes, isn’t it? Well, have you ever thought of that in light of your problems?

Mark Altrogge has and this post was so good I just had to pass it on!  It really encouraged me. Let me know if it encouraged you.

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John MacArthur answers two important questions in this quote: what is biblical discernment? and why is it important?

In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.

First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer-it is required.

The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living-a certain recipe for compromise.

Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word, and they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior. In short, they are not armed to take a decidedly biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them throughout their day.

Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God’s Word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue of life. According to Peter, God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). You see, it is through the “true knowledge of Him,” that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God’s granting “to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

Discernment-the ability to think biblically about all areas of life-is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon the Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth! Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

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“The Gospel does affect homes first. In Scotland it led to a type of home life and family religion fitted to produce young men and women whose great interest was the service of Christ…. [John Paton’s] autobiography provides an unforgettable account of the prayerfulness of his father…

The Lowland cotter’s lad cherished and guarded in his heart the spell of his father’s habit of communion with God, and the vision of his mother’s absorbed passion to win her children to see fear and love the Most High. These were his main equipment in life. No science can produce them; no money can purchase them.

One of the most remembered sounds of Patton’s childhood was his father’s voice, at family worship, as “he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the heathen world to the service of Jesus.” The thatched cottage of the Patons was only one of many such nurseries. Most of the Scottish missionaries came from homes and backgrounds where simple living, hard work, many sacrifices and earnest devotion were the every day experiences of youth.” (Iain Murray, A Scottish Christian Heritage, 222-223)

(HT: DG)

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