Friends: These are devotionals from a book I had published way back in 2002. DocDEVOS is out of print (although you can pick up a copy of it for a song on Amazon.com). I plan on reprinting these short articles on this blog. My dream is to produce a year-long DocDEVOS that covers all ten areas of Christian faith. And have publishers chase me down, throwing gobs of money at me (just kidding).
Section One: First Things First
“A Faith That Forms”
If “faith” refers to the content of truth which God has given us, then Christian growth comes as we learn — and put into practice — what His Word teaches
Faith is not something one “loses”; we merely cease to shape our lives by it. (George Bernanos)
The atheistic German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made the following surly remark to some Christians one day: “If you want me to believe in your Redeemer, then you’ve got to look a lot more redeemed.”
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
The Knowledge Nugget:
A pastor ran into a former church member on the street one day. “How are things going, Tom?”, the pastor asked. “Well, Reverend, things couldn’t be worse! I lost my job last week, the bank is repossessing my car, and my mother-in-law just moved into our basement. It’s enough to make a man lose his religion!” “Sorry to hear of your troubles, Tom,” said the pastor. “But it seems to me that it’s enough to make a man use his religion!”
It’s commonly said that “what you don’t know can’t hurt you — but is that really true? If we don’t know that God is everywhere, the resulting loneliness could cripple our Christian lives. If we know little about the doctrine of God’s goodness, then we may struggle for years, afraid to surrender ourselves completely to Him. The doctrines of the Christian faith should not only inform us of what we need to know, but should also form us into the people we should be.
Ignorance of the truths of biblical Christianity hinders growth in godliness. While it is quite possible to know the facts of the Christian faith but remain unchanged, the normal Christian life is one in which God uses His truth to transform us. What we believe should affect how we behave.
Real Life Says . . .
“Churches are full of hypocrites!” How many times have you heard someone say that? I know one pastor who responds, “I know exactly what you mean. But our church is big enough for one more! Why don’t you come join us?” That may not be the best way to attract seekers to Christ, but it illustrates the fact that all of us probably believe far more than we behave.
My parents came to know Christ through the ministry of evangelist Leighton Ford. He once stated, “God loves you enough to accept you the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.” The first half of his statement illustrates salvation: We do not clean up our lives to get saved; God takes us as we are. But the second half of Ford’s statement is talking about growth in the Christian life. God loves us too much to allow us to stay where we are spiritually.
But how does He shape and remold us into the image of Christ? Romans 12:2 tells us, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The mind is renewed by truth — and the Word of God, the Bible, is the truth we need if we want to be renewed. Whether we really believe the truths of God’s Word will be revealed by the Christlike changes that take place in our lives.
The story is told of a band of explorers in Africa who hired some villagers to help them in their journey through the jungle. The group set out and pushed on without stopping for several days. Finally the tribesmen sat down, refusing to go any further. When asked why they were stopping, the eldest among them said, “We’ve been going too fast. We must pause and wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies.” Perhaps we need to pause and wait for our behavior to catch up to our belief.
But Lord . . .
Lord, forgive my arrogance in thinking that I know all I need to know, believe all I need to believe and practice all I ought to practice. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
To Ponder . . .
“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” (Max De Pree)