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DocDEVOS: Ten-Minute Devotionals on the Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith #2

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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.
Screenshot 2015-11-24 14.59.05My 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)

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2016 in doctrine

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 26)

Psalm 26

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Vindicate me, Lord,
    for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
    and have not faltered.
Test me, Lord, and try me,
    examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
    and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

I do not sit with the deceitful,
    nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
    and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,
    and go about your altar, Lord,
proclaiming aloud your praise
    and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

Lord, I love the house where you live,
    the place where your glory dwells.
Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
    my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.17.26 AM
    whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 I lead a blameless life;
    deliver me and be merciful to me.

12 My feet stand on level ground;
    in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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TEN STEPS TO SPIRITUALITY (Step 9)

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” KeynoteScreenSnapz018Dr. Allan McKechnie and I have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

The SECOND STEP we notice is:  TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)

The THIRD STEP we see is:  INVEST IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT (v. 8)

The FOURTH STEP here in this text is:  REST ON WHAT IS WORTHY OF YOUR TRUST (v. 9)

The FIFTH STEP we see in this passage is simply: WORK HARD IN YOUR LIFE OF FAITH IN THE LORD (v. 10)

The SIXTH STEP Paul gives us here is BOLDLY PROCLAIM THE TRUTH WITH YOUR WORDS AND LIFE (vv. 11-12)

The SEVENTH STEP which helps us to become spiritual is DEVOTE YOURSELF TO THE WORD OF GOD AND THE USE OF YOUR GIFT (vv. 13-14)

The EIGHTH STEP in moving on in our spirituality comes out of verse 15  where we are told to BE DILIGENT IN WHOLLY COMMITTING YOURSELF TO YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

The NINTH STEP in advancing in our spiritual growth comes out of verse 16 and it is simply:  DON’T DIVORCE WHAT YOU BELIEVE FROM HOW YOU BEHAVE!  We read in verse 16- ” Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Is it not the case that most of us BELIEVE far more than we BEHAVE?  Our life and our doctrine ought to match each other.  There should be a harmony between what we think and how we act.

When my family and I moved to Canada (where we lived for 9 years), we got skating and hockey lessons for our ten-year-old son before we moved there.  Someone has defined hockey as “a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept!”  People are keeping score on our lives — and we must behave ourselves for the sake of the gospel!

Questions:

1.  In what ways do we divorce what we believe from how we behave?  What verses do you find which teach that our behavior is critical to our witness?

2.  Have you recently found yourself apologizing for your failure in behavior before others?  Perhaps a big part of our apologetics ought to be our apologizing when our conduct does not match our creeds!

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in behavior

 

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