The Messenger

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 23 – 2015

. . . from the Pastor’s Desk

Someone has rightly said, “Life in community with others is the proving ground of life in Christ.” Over and over again God speaks in His Word to the responsibility we have, as professing Christians, to demonstrate the attitude of Christ toward others. The second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is to be lived out in our lives on a daily basis. Of course, “my neighbor,” includes my husband, my wife, my mother, my father, my son, my daughter, every member of the body of Christ I am part of (the person sitting next to me on Sunday morning), and every individual I come into contact with. Especially, my love toward the Body of Christ is to even exceed the love I give to others.

Anyway, this is why we have so many “one another “ passages in Scripture. I am sure if the Lord thought that this is something that you and I are constantly doing, He would not have put so many specific commands in His Word in regard to this. I am sure I have referred to these before, but I put them here again to remind us of what we are commanded to do. Please think on these things! Pray over them! Apply them to those who are closest to you! May you and I be committed to living out these “one another” commands:

LOVE one another John 13:34; 15:12,17

RECEIVE one another Romans 15:7

GREET one another Romans 16:16; I Peter 5:14

HAVE THE SAME CARE FOR one another I Corinthians 12:24

SUBMIT TO one another Ephesians 5:18-21

FORBEAR one another Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:13-14

CONFESS YOUR SINS TO one another James 5:16

FORGIVE one another Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:12

DO NOT JUDGE one another Romans 14:13

DO NOT SPEAK EVIL OF one another James 4:11

DO NOT MURMUR AGAINST one another James 5:9

DO NOT BITE AND DEVOUR one another James 5:9

DO NOT PROVOKE AND ENVY one another Galatians 5:26

DO NOT LIE TO one another Colossians 3:9

BUILD UP one another Romans 14:19

TEACH one another Colossians 3:16

ADMONISH one another Romans 15:14

SPEAK TO one another IN PSALMS Galatians 5:13

BE SERVANTS TO one another I Peter 4:7-10

PRAY FOR one another James 5:16

USE YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS FOR one another I Peter 4:7-10

BEAR one another’s BURDENS Galatians 6:2

DO NOT PREFER one another BEFORE ANOTHER I Timothy 5:21

EXHORT one another DAILY Hebrews 3:13

HAVE COMPASSION FOR one another I Peter 1:8

SHOW HOSPITALITY TO one another I Peter 4:9

MINISTER TO one another I Peter 4:10

ABOUND IN LOVE TOWARD one another I Thessalonians 3:12

COMFORT one another I Thessalonians 3:12

EDIFY one another I Thessalonians 5:11

Remember, we are to be demonstrating every one of these to each other. We are to be committed to building lives – each others’ lives.

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER #22 – 2015

. . . from the Pastor’s Desk

I am convinced that most Christians do not know the depth of their own sinfulness and, therefore, do not know who to pray a prayer of confession. This is why I began to quote Dr. Victor Matthews’ prayer in the last Messenger. I continue with this prayer as we are still under the section titled:

YOU ARE HOLY AND GOOD – AND ALL YOU DO IS GOODNESS

. . . What can I say about my sin, my unholiness, my sensuality, my anger, my subtle planning to cheat, to lie, to manipulate, to hurt, to gain revenge, to nurse my grudges, to transfer blame to others, to gain advantage, to use unsuspecting friends and enemies for my own sinful advantage? My jealousy, my envy, bigotry, fear, and anger overwhelm me. The heavy chains of my sin press me into the dust. Even as I confess before You, I think of some easy way out – some way of still keeping my indulgent, self-centered, and sensual life of pride and self-righteousness intact. Have mercy on me. Do what I cannot do. Convict and humble me. Do what You have to do to bring me into a true and thorough confession, repentance, and renunciation of my sin. I have opened the door to the evil one through my sin – come and rescue me from him – and from myself.

YOU ARE THE GOD OF UNLIMITED POWER – YET GENTLE AND HUMBLE.

I confess before You, Lord, how often I have arrogantly presumed on Your loving and gentle character. In moments of temptation and pressure, when I have indulged in rationalizing my choice to sin – and there have been many of them – I secretly told myself I got away with it before and I’ll take a chance again. Please help me see clearly the wicked nature of my sin. Deeply convict me of my conceited insolence. Break my proud and haughty spirit. Turn Your searchlight on me and enable me to understand the depths of my depravity.

YOU ARE THE GOD OF INFINITE KINDNESS AND GRACE.

As I consider the greatness of Your character and redeeming grace – my spirit is overwhelmed with deep sadness. All my thoughts and actions appear to violate, contradict, and oppose Your wonderful, loving, holy Person and Work. Have mercy on me.

You have unlimited wisdom – and yet I find myself trying to improve on Your will for my life and even more serious – to believe my will and plans are better than Yours. I confess such sin before You in shame and sorrow of Heart. Please forgive me.

You are unlimited love and holiness – and You have clearly invited me to come to You and receive Your joy, freedom, and fulfillment. With confusion of face and heart, I must confess before You that I have sought love and fulfillment in all the wrong places. I have not believed You nor have I sought fulfillment of Your promise with any shade of diligence. You have said to see You with all my heart – and I have perversely given my heart away to many things and people. Forgive my depravity, my deception, my ignorance, and my stubborn and willful ways. O God, forgive me and rescue me.

You are filled with unlimited grace and mercy – and have carefully warned me not to try to add to the work of the Lord Jesus. I do believe He is Your Son and the Messiah. And yet, in spite of my belief, I often find myself trying to gain merit by my works, which has always led me into bondage. Forgive me, cleanse me, open my spiritual understanding, and help me. I need You. Only You can help me. Come and rescue me.”

THIS IS A PRAYER OF CONFESSION! KEEP IT! PRAY IT!

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 21 – 2015
. . . from the Pastor’s Desk

In the last Messenger, I spoke about “brokenness.” You can’t speak of brokenness unless you also speak about “confession.” In Psalm 51, David gives us a great lesson in what it means to confess one’s sins before the living God. He declares that what God wants from us is “a broken and contrite heart” (v.17). On many occasions I have prayed through Psalm 51, in my own life, to be able to truly know how deep sin runs through my life. However, I am convinced that most of us really don’t know how to name our sins or to even know what they are. So, I am going to quote from Dr. Victor Matthews. I am going to let you hear his confession and how he seeks to name what is going on in his own heart and how deep he sees the deception that lies within.

“O Lord God Almighty – have mercy on me. I bow before You in shame and agony of heart. You alone are my only hope. I hold up these empty hands to You. I ask for Your humbling and deep conviction. Reveal to me my true condition – all these sinful and depraved motivations – that lie behind my thoughts, words, and actions. Do not allow me to continue as I am. Only You know my hidden sins that I excuse and rationalize away. Deal harshly with me, that I may make a true confession before You. Pierce my heart in Your lovingkindness and reveal my depravity in the light of Your truth. I bow in shame before You, Heavenly Father, before You, Lord Jesus, and before You, Blessed Holy Spirit of Truth. Please come and rescue me. Help me to confess and pray.”

YOU ARE THE ONE TRUE LIVING GOD.

I bow to confess before You that I have sinned against Your very Person. I have recognized Your existence and greatness in many flowery words – words only. Rarely have I given You Your rightful place as the One True and Living God. In practice I have taken Your place. And my thoughts and actions testify loudly to how idolatrous I have been in placing myself, and money, and entertainment, and food, and people, and things – many sinful things – before You. Please drag it all out into the open and humble me, so I may be through forever with that way of life. I want You, only You, to have first place in my life – all of my life.

YOU ARE THE SOVEREIGHN GOD WITH PLANS OF LOVINGKINDENSS.

In shame I acknowledge before You how I have chafed in the life You have given me. I have whined like the spoiled child I am, coveted what was not mine, and allowed irritation and bitterness to consume me. I confess, as I look back on my life, how perfect and fulfilling Your plan for my life has been. But even at this moment I still question why, when I appear to be working so hard for You, that You treat me so shabbily. I cry out for mercy. Open my blind eyes, shine Your truth into my stubborn, critical, and faultfinding way of life. Come to me, O God – break my willful and unthankful heart.

YOU ARE HOLY AND GOOD – AND ALL YOU DO IS GOODNESS.

How different You are from me! What an infinite gulf exists between Your Holy goodness and my “good works.” I confess before You that even in my “better moments” my thoughts and actions are defiled by hidden agendas of control, pride, fear, self-protection, and the desire to be praised. How many times I have stolen Your glory! I confess how I have embellished the truth, over and over again, to protect myself from criticism and to gain attention and prestige. My righteous acts are but filthy rags. Only You know the depths of my self-deception. I cry out for help.

TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,
Your Pastor/Teacher

 

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 20 – 2015

from the Pastor’s Desk

There is a legend that goes something like this: “For several centuries, down through the dynasties, a village was known for it exquisite and fragile porcelain. Especially striking were its urns; high as a table, wide as chairs, they were admired around the globe for their strong form and delicate beauty. When each urn was finished, there was one final step. The artist broke it – and then put it back together with gold filigree. An ordinary urn was then transformed into a priceless work of art. What seemed finished wasn’t… until it was broken.”

What a beautiful description of God’s work of grace in the heart and life of those whom He calls His adopted sons and daughters. When I think of this story, I immediately think of David, “a man after God’s own heart.” Yet, David committed adultery with Bathsheba and plotted the murder of her husband. It was the prophet Nathan’s task to bring to David, after a whole year had passed, the illustration that “broke” David’s heart and brought him to repentance. David’s response is seen in his great confession in Psalm 51. Study this Psalm! It is God’s man broken before the God he loves showing how utterly devoid of pride, self-centeredness, defensiveness, he is. He is a broken and humble man knowing that God is just in all that He does and will do in David’s life. He cries out, “ . . . I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge” (vv. 3, 4). No “buts,” or “You don’t understand,” or “she shouldn’t have been parading herself on the rooftop,” etc. There were no excuses. David is simply broken before the Lord God and declares, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (v. 17).

WHAT DOES BROKENNESS LOOK LIKE?

  • When God, through a painful time, in a series of events, disappointments, or broken relationships, reveals areas of self-sufficiency or idolatry and demands that those systems that compete with Him and His glory be destroyed.
  • Coming to the end of myself – being stripped of everything in which I take security, comfort, identity, or significance, in order that I might be challenged to find my sufficiency in God, and God might prove Himself to be my ALL.
  • Awareness that my fleshly desires cannot satisfy God’s righteous claims on my life, and grief at my failure to satisfy God’s rightful demands on my life.
  • When I see I have followed my own agenda, fall at the foot of the cross, and choose that anything and anyone not of God’s agenda must not rule.
  • When I make a choice and take action to dethrone myself and enthrone Jesus my Lord.
  • The painful, often humiliating, process of breaking my will to His, surrendering my rights, and counting my own glory as rubbish, that Jesus might be seen in all His glory.
  • Ceasing to strive to perfect my own righteousness – giving up hiding in my filthy rags of performance.
  • Recognition of my great spiritual need and confession of my failure and emptiness of heart – being willing to confront the whole truth about myself and give up my allusions of being spiritually “okay.”
  • When I acknowledge that I am a “valley of dry bones’ and by confession receive the breath of the life of the Spirit of His grace.
  • When I am willing to be known for who I really am and be seen in the naked light of His holiness, in order to exchange my pride for His grace.

There are other things that we could say here. We cannot, we must not walk through this world in our pride, self-assertiveness, selfishness and expect to be a transformed, beautiful image bearers of Christ. We must cry out, “IF IT AIN’T BROKE, BREAK IT!”

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 15 -2015

from the Pastor’s Desk

 

We are still talking about the “Discipline of Prayer.” In would be great if we all were committed “prayer warriors,” and if we all naturally and consistently had our time of prayer each day, as well as, our practice of “praying without ceasing.” The fact is, we all struggle in this area. When we do sit down to have a structured time of fellowship and communion with our heavenly Father, we often find that we are confronted with the difficulty of addressing our Great God with no more than a barrage of asking things for ourselves, and to a lesser degree, for others. Biblical concepts, phrases, truths about the character and nature of the Triune God do not readily come flowing into our minds and hearts. It’s okay! Every believer knows the he or she needs encouragement and help in this area. It is not wrong to look at a list of words and phrases to help you in your prayer life. Here is just a partial one, but may it bring you boldly into the throne-room of the Living God:

YOU ARE:

Able God who sees Perfect in all your ways

All-powerful Grace and Truth Protector

All-sufficient Guard Redeemer

All-wise Guide Refiner

Available Healer Refuge

Avenger Hiding Place Rescuer

Awesome God Holy Restorer

Before all things Hope Rewarder and Reward

Captain of heaven’s armies Immanuel God with us Righteous

Confidence Jehovah-Jireh, my Provider Salvation

Comforter Jehovah-Nissi, my Banner S`hepherd

Counselor Jesus of Nazareth Satisfaction

Courage Joy Security

Creator Judge of all the earth Shelter

Defender and Defense Keeper Shield

Dependable King of Glory Source

Deliverer King of kings Strength

Direction Lamb Source

Encourager Liberty Strong Deliverer

Ever present Life Stronghold

Exalted Lion of Judah Sun and Shield

Everlasting I AM Light Sustainer

Faithful and True Lord God Almighty Truth

Father Lord of my life Trustworthy

Fear-taker Magnificent and marvelous Unchanging

First Love Majesty Understanding

Forgiveness Mighty Warrior Very Present Help

Fortress Miracle-worker Victorious Warrior

Friend Most High God Vindicator

Generous Name above all names Wall of fire

Giver of every good gift Never-failing Way

Glorious Lord Over all Word of life

God of the impossible Overcomer Worthy of all praise

God who hears Peace

Let all of these lead you into the presence of your Glorious Lord and instruct you as you seek to live in intimate communion with Him.

TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 14 – 2015

from the Pastor’s Desk

 

One of the things that has helped me most in my prayer life is writing my prayers out in my Prayer Journal. Now this is my designated time set aside for my communion with the Lord and not the many times I am speaking to Him throughout the day seeking to fulfill Scripture’s directive to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Some years ago I realized that it is so easy for my thoughts to wonder, for my eyes to get droopy, and for the littlest thing to distract me when I sought to spend quality time in fellowship with the lover of my soul. I found that by writing out my prayers, I could actually spend a good amount of time in praise and thanksgiving as I prayed through a Psalm or some other portion of Scripture before I entered into the times of confession and intercession. I found that I could actually pray for an hour or more, whereas before I would finish and maybe ten minutes had passed. It has become one of the most important times of the day for me as I rise early in the morning and open my Bible and take my pen in hand and begin to actually think through the things I want to say to my Heavenly Father.

It is also very helpful to have some other things on hand to aid me in my prayer time. For instance, I have a list before me of things concerning the character God that I use to remind me of what I need to praise and thank Him for. Here is a partial list of who God is:

HE IS SELF-EXISTENT HE IS ETERNAL

HE IS UNCHANGING HE IS OMNISCIENT – He knows all things.

HE IS LOVE HE IS JUST

HE IS WISE HE IS ONMIPOTENT – He possesses all power.

HE IS HOLY HE IS INFINITE

HE IS FAITHFUL HE IS ONMIPRESENT – He is completely everywhere at All times.

HE IS GOOD HE IS MERCIFUL

HE IS GRACIOUS HE IS SOVEREIGN – He is in control of all things.

HE IS MAJESTIC HE IS TRANSCENDENT – He is above and separate from His creation.

These are things that I want to remind myself in regard to the God I worship and adore. He is totally unique and different from any other gods. There is no one like Him and no one can compare with Him. I seek to remind myself of this every morning when I rise to meet with Him. I use these characteristics to praise Him for them and thank Him for them, especially as they relate to my own life. It causes me to have a greater concept of the God whose presence I am entering. As I write these words down, it is amazing how it causes my heart and soul to leap for joy in reminding myself of how great my God is. Sometimes I will actually turn to Isaiah 40, and read this heart-pounding, incredible chapter that declares these very things that I have listed above. I hear Isaiah cry out: ‘Here is your God!’, and it causes me to bow before the one who has created me and redeemed me in wonder and worship. Or I will turn to Jeremiah 10, or Romans 8, and the same thing happens. Then it is amazing the things that come into my mind and that begin to spill out on the page before me and before I know it, time flies by and I realize that I have spent precious and wonderful moments with my Lord.

Again, I can’t tell you what a difference this has made in my devotional times. Nothing distracts me! Sleep does not overtake me! My mind and heart is fixed on Jesus and I am seeking Him with all of my heart. It is a “discipline,” but it becomes a “loving discipline,” of all that I am. May you come to know this in your own life!

 

TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER #13 – 2015

from the Pastor’s Desk

 

As we begin to answer the question: “What Is Prayer?” we notice two things: 1) PRAYER IS MY RESPONSE TO THE CHARACTER OF GOD; and 2) PRAYER IS MY RESPONSE TO THE WILL OF GOD. We continue our study in this Messenger:

3. PRAYER IS MY RESPONSE TO THE INVITATIONS OF GOD

Scripture abounds in invitations from God to pray, and in promises to those who will

respond:

 

  1. The Invitation Of God To Fellowship (Commune) With Him

One thing I have asked from the Lord that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His

temple . . . When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

Psalm 27:4, 8

 

  1. The Invitation Of God to Rest

Casting all your anxiety upon His, because He cares for you.”

I Peter 5:7

 

  1. The Invitation Of God To Find Strength and Wisdom

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.”

Isaiah 40:29

But if any of lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach.”

James 1:5

 

  1. The Invitation Of God To Give Me Protection and Help

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”

Psalm 40:1-2

 

  1. The Invitation Of God To Bear One Another’s Burdens, To be Intercessors

Through the privilege of prayer we are able to intercede on behalf of others and thus glorify God.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with al perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

Ephesians 6:18

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST LUKE MESSENGER # 12 – 2015

from the Pastor’s Desk

 

 

We continue our discussion of the “Discipline of Prayer.” Let us seek to answer the basic question: “What is Prayer?”

 

  1. PRAYER IS MY RESPONSE TO THE CHARACTER OF GOD.

PRAISE is my response to the person, presence, position, power, greatness majesty, and the love of God.

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.”

Psalm 145:3

THANKSGIVING is my response to the goodness and graciousness of God.

What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” “To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Psalm 116:12, 17a

CONFESSION is my response to the holiness of God.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.” Psalm 51:1

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

INTERCESSION is my response to the love of God for all people, especially those in His family.

So save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9

Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12

 

  1. PRAYER IS MY RESPONSE TO THE WILL OF GOD.

The will of God is not only the highest good, the greatest achievement and the best any person could hope for in this life, it is also the command of God. Therefore, because God is God, and God is our loving heavenly Father, prayer becomes that time when I seek Him, not to bring Him to my viewpoint, but to bring myself to His, by discovery of His will and way through His written Word.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10

Because my will and His will, my desires and His desires, will be one and the same (when I pray with the above attitude), Jesus says to me:

Truly, truly I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.” John 16:23, 24

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 11 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

 

We now come to the “Discipline of Prayer.”  Of course, the only way to pray is to pray.  I am simply going to give you some things that might help you in carrying this out in your own life on a daily basis.  First, I am going to give you a rather long quote from the autobiography of George Muller who was one of those great men who daily saw the Lord bring him great joy and peace and, in many instances, amazing answers to prayer:

 

“It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost for more than fourteen years.  The point is this:  I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord.  The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.

 

I saw the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God – not prayer, but the Word of God.  And here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God so that it only passes through my mind just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what I read, pondering over it, and applying it to my heart.  To meditate on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed.  And that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.

 

I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning early in the morning.  The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it.

 

When we pray, we speak to God.  Now, prayer in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire; and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectively performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us.

 

By the blessing of God, I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials, in various ways, then I had ever had before.

 

How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon me!”

 

                                                                From an entry in his Journal, May 9th 1841

 

It is very noteworthy to see how the disciplines that we have already mentioned, meditation, memorization, the reading of the Word of God, are all connected together and are necessary in order to gain the greatest good from each one.  Prayer cannot be separated from the reading of Scripture and meditating and memorizing and putting God’s Word in our hearts.  It is impossible for you and I to face the world, our own sinful flesh, and the devil himself without the power of prayer.  “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18)

 

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER #10 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

 

 

We have already seen that “Memorization Provides Spiritual Strength,” “Memorization Strengthens Your Faith,” “Memorization Empowers Witnessing and Counseling,” and :

Memorization Is A Means of God’s Guidance

The Psalmist wrote, “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Ps. 119:24).  Just as the Holy Spirit retrieves scriptural truth from our memory banks for use in counseling others, so also will He bring it to our minds in providing timely guidance in our lives.

There have been so many times when I am trying to decide what I should say in a particular situation when the Lord brings to my mind Ephesians 4:29:  “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  So often, this completely changes what I am about to say.

HOW DO WE DO IT?

There are certain things we must keep before our minds as basic principles in memorizing Scripture:

 

  1. You can memorize Scripture

Most people think they have a bad memory, but this is not true.  Most of the time memorization is a matter of motivation.  If you now your birthday, phone number, and address, and can remember the names of your friends, then you can memorize Scripture.  The question is whether you are willing to discipline yourself to do it.  When Dawson Trotman, the founder of The Navigators, was converted to faith in Christ in 1926, he began memorizing one Bible verse every day.  He was driving a truck for a lumberyard in Los Angeles at the time.  While driving around town he would work on his verse for that day.  During the first three years of his Christian life he memorized his first thousand verses.  If he could memorize over three hundred verses a year while driving, surely we can find ways to memorize even one a week.

 

  1. Have a plan
  2. Write them out
  3. Meditate on the verse and know what it means.
  4. Know it word-perfectly.
  5. Find a method of accountability
  6. Review! Review! Review!

Remember, the goal is not to see how many verses we can memorize.  The goal is godliness.  The goal is to memorize the Word of God so that it can transform our minds and our lives.

Let me give you two to start with.  These are from the New American Standard Bible:

1 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher  

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 9 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

Last time we began to discuss the Discipline of Memorization.  We were talking about the BENEFITS AND METHODS and we had just mentioned “Memorization Supplies Spiritual Power.”  The next benefit I want us to notice is:

Memorization Strengthens Your Faith

Look at Proverbs 22:17-19.  It says, “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.  So that your trust may be in the Lord, I have taught you today, even you.”  To “apply your mind” to the “words of the wise” spoken of here and to “keep them within you” certainly pertains to Scripture memory.  Notice the reason given here for keeping the wise words of Scripture within you and “ready on your lips.”  It is “so that your trust may be in the Lord.”  Memorizing Scripture strengthens your faith because it repeatedly reinforces the truth, often when you need to hear it again and again.

So often, in the midst of great trial and difficulty, it can be the Word of God breaking into your heart and mind, which will cause you to stand firm and lift up your countenance.  Think of all the great martyrs of the faith in the history of the church, especially those who this very day will be called upon to give their lives for Christ.  Do you not believe that the Lord is bringing them comfort and hope by bringing back to their mind the promises He has made to them in His Word?  How many times, in the course of your day or week, does the Lord refresh and revive your spirit by bringing to mind His promises?  The one that always seems to come flooding into my heart is Proverbs 3:5,6:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Or, Philippians 4:6,7:  “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 minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Would you have to look these passages up in your Bible, or would they just automatically fill your mind and heart with the truth contained in them?)

Memorization Empowers Witnessing and Counseling

On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter was suddenly inspired by God to stand and preach to the crowd about Jesus.  Much of what he said consisted in quotations from the Old Testament (see Acts 2:14-40).  We are instructed in I Peter 3:15 in this manner:  “…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”  In every situation, whether we are actually seeking to share the Gospel with someone or we have the opportunity to help individuals see things from God’s perspective as we desire to encourage and impart wisdom, we are to have God’s truth, as it is set forth to us in His Word, on our lips and ready to apply to hearts.  Hebrews 4:12, tells us that this is exactly what God’s Word is for:  “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

We do not understand the power that God has given us in His Word.  When we declare it, quote it, the Holy Spirit carries it forth and, depending upon His Will, actually uses it to regenerate dead hearts, changes a person’s thinking, causes a person to act differently, and it becomes the catalyst to conform men and women into the image of Christ.  KNOW IT!  USE IT!

MEDITATE ON THIS – TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher  

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 8 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

Two brothers were walking on their father’s extensive, wooded acreage, when they came upon a young tree heavy with fruit.  Both enjoyed as much of the delicious fruit as they wanted.  When they started back, one gathered all the remaining fruit and took it home with him.  His brother, however, took the tree itself and planted it on his own property.  The tree flourished and regularly produced a bountiful crop so that the second brother often had fruit when the first had none.

The Bible is like the fruit-bearing tree in this story.  Merely hearing the Word of God, or even reading it, is to be like the first brother.  You may gather much fruit from the encounter, but it doesn’t compare to possessing your own tree.  We really make the tree our own through the discipline of meditation and memorization.  We have already looked at meditation, and now we will look briefly at memorization, and as we do this we will see the close connection between the two.  In fact, we can’t really talk about one without talking about the other.  Remember, this is all about “making disciples.”  The “Discipline of Memorization” is a vital part of our growing in grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus.

BENEFITS AND METHODS

Many Christians look on the Spiritual Discipline of memorizing God’s Word as something tantamount to modern-day martyrdom.  Ask them to memorize Bible verses and they react with about as much eagerness as a request to be fed to the lions.  But what if you offered one thousand dollars for every verse one could memorize?  Do you think peoples’ attitudes toward Scripture memory would change?  Of course it would!  Why?  Because the value they place on it would change.  What is the value of benefit of memorizing Scripture?

Memorization Supplies Spiritual Power

When Scripture is stored in the mind, it is available for the Holy Spirit to take it and bring to your attention and apply it to life when you need it.  This is why the writer of Psalm 119 says:  “Your word I have treasured (hidden) in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (v. 11).  It is one thing, for instance, to be thinking about something when you shouldn’t, but there is added power against the temptation when a specific verse can be brought to mind, like II Corinthians 10:4,5:

“. . . for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

When the Holy Spirit brings a definite verse to mind like that, it is an illustration of what Ephesians 6:17 can mean when it refers to “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”  A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle. 

There is no better illustration than Jesus’ confrontation with Satan in the lonely Judean wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).  Every time the enemy attacked our Lord, He responded with the Word of God.  It was the sword that he wielded that day.  One of the ways we can experience more spiritual victories is to do as Jesus did – memorize Scripture so that it is available for the Holy Spirit to take and ignite within us when needed.  

MEDITATE ON THIS – TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

 

                 

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 7 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

 As we continue our thoughts on Meditation, I want you to know that you should not be discouraged if in the beginning your meditations are not all that you think they should be.  You are learning a “discipline” for which you have received no training.  There is progression in the spiritual life.  Meditation is not a single act, nor can it be completed the way one completes the building of a chair.  Meditation is a way of life.  The question is are you willing, at all costs, to begin using your mind “in a disciplined way” to feed on the Word of God “for the purpose of godliness?”

 

Now saying all that I have said in a different way in regard to “Biblical Meditation:”

 

  1. It’s Defintion

The activity of:

  • calling to mind

  • thinking over

  • dwelling on

     

                the various things that one knows about

  • the works

  • the ways

  • the purposes

  • the commandments

  • the promises of God

 

  1. It’s Performance

Consciously performed:

  • in the presence of God

  • under the eye of God

  • by the help of God

  • as a means of communion with God

 

  1. It’s Purpose

  • clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God

  • let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart

 

  1. It’s Effect

  • Humble us

  • Encourage us

  • Reassure us

  • Change our thinking

  • Change our behavior

  • Conform us to the image of Christ

 

Here is a final statement by J.I. Packer that I believe is crucial to understanding biblical meditation:  “It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and ourselves; arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of doubt, unbelief, faulty concepts and understanding into a clear apprehension (emphasis mine) of God’s grace and power.”

 

It is so important we realize “meditation” can change us and transform us and cause us to understand and see the world and relationships the way God wants us to see them.  Our lives become Christ centered when our hearts and minds become Bible centered.

 

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher  

                                                                              

 

                                                                                               ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 6 -2015
                                                                                                         …from the Pastor’s Desk

We come now to the seventh suggestion in carrying out the “Discipline of Meditation:”

7.  Meditate to Discern Application

     Expect to discover application.  Thomas Watson said:

        Take every word spoken to yourselves.  When the word thunders against sin, think thus:  “God means my sins;” when it presseth any duty, “God intends me in this.”  Many put off Scripture from themselves, as if it only concerned those who lived in the time when it was written; but if you intend to profit by the word, bring it home to yourselves; a medicine will do no good, unless it be applied.

8.  Respond Specifically

BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

William Bridge has this to say:

        It is an help to knowledge, thereby your knowledge is raised.  Thereby   your
memory is strengthened.  Thereby your hearts are warmed.  Thereby you
will be freed from sinful thoughts.  Thereby your hearts will be turned to
every duty.  Thereby you will grow in grace.  Thereby you will fill up all the
hinks and crevices in your lives, and know to spend spare time, and improve
that for God.  Thereby you will draw good out of evil.  And thereby you will
converse with God, have communion with God, and enjoy God.  And I pray,
is not here profit enough to sweeten the voyage of your thoughts in meditation?

Richard Baxter says this:

        If, by this means, thou dost not find an increase of all thy graces, and dost not grow
beyond the stature of common Christians, and art not made serviceable in thy place,
and more precious in the eyes of all discerning persons; if thy soul enjoy not more
communion with God, and thy life be not fuller of comfort, and hast it not readier by
thee at a dying hour; then cast away these directions, and exclaim against me for ever
as a deceiver.

J. I. Packer declares:

If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible.  Knowing that it is the Word of God, teaching men to know and love and serve the God of the Word, I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorn hedges, and man traps, to frighten people of . . . at all costs I should want to keep them from using their minds in a disciplined way to get the measure of its message.

I will say something in completion of this study in Meditation in my next Messenger.  I hope that you have kept the previous Messengers and that you have begun your journey in the process of biblical meditation.

MEDITATE ON THIS  – TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,
Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 5 – 2015
…from the Pastor’s Desk

In our last Messenger we were looking at the “Practice of Meditation,” and had just mentioned the third suggestion in carrying this out, which was “Rewrite It in Your Own Words.” Now for number four:

4. Look for Applications of the Text

Ask yourself application questions:
How should this truth affect my attitudes – what I think about God, other people, my circumstances, and about the way I look at my self in general?
How should this truth affect my knowledge of God?
How should this truth affect my behavior?
What habits should be changed?
What changes should I make in the way I speak to or about others?
Does this truth confirm something I am already doing right?
How should this truth affect my relationships with God and with others?
Do I need to forgive someone?
Do I need to seek forgiveness myself?
Should I encourage someone?
Do I need to lovingly rebuke someone?
Do I need to be more submissive?
How should this truth affect my motives in life?
Am I doing the right things but with the wrong motives?
How should this truth affect my values in life?
What is important to me now?
What should be important to me?
How should this truth affect my priorities in life?
Who or What really comes first in my life?
Who or What should come first?
How should this truth affect my character?
Am I self-centered, or do I demonstrate Christlikeness?

5. Pray Through the Text

This is the spirit of Ps. 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” The Holy Spirit is the Great Guide into all of God’s truth (John 14:26). Praying your way through a verse of Scripture submits the mind to the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the text and intensifies your spiritual perception. Meditation must always involve two people – the believer and the Holy Spirit.

6. Don’t Rush – Take Time!

It’s better to read a small amount of Scripture and meditate on it than to read an extensive section without meditation. Maurice Roberts wrote this from Scotland in 1990:

Our age has been sadly deficient in what may be termed spiritual greatness. At the
root of this is the modern disease of shallowness. We are all too impatient to
meditate on the faith we possess . . . It is not the busy skimming over religious
books or the careless hastening through religious duties which makes for strong
Christian faith. Rather, it is unhurried meditation on gospel truths and the
exposing of our minds to these truths that yields the fruit of sanctified character.

Read less (if necessary) in order to meditate more. Remember, the best meditation occurs when it is part of your main daily encounter with the Word of God.

MEDITATE ON THIS – TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,
Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 4 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

In our last Messenger, we were talking about the “Purpose of Meditation.”  We ended with a quote from Madame Guyon, who during the period of the Reformation, found herself in prison for a number of years because of her stand against the Roman Catholic Church.  Let me also quote Thomas a Kempis who spoke of meditation as growing into “a familiar friendship with Jesus.”

Meditation causes us to sink down into the light and life of our great Savior and becoming comfortable in that posture.  We are talking about experiencing an intense intimacy with Christ, as well as, an awesome reverence for Him.  This kind of intimate relationship transforms our inner man.  We cannot be in such a relationship and remain the same.  Our ever-present Teacher will always be leading us into “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).  Everything that is foreign to the way of Christ will have to be removed and thrown out.  No, not “have to” but “want to,” for our desires and aspirations will be more and more conformed to His way.  Increasingly, everything within us will be engulfed in His will.

PRACTICE OF MEDITATION

How do we meditate?  We don’t want to just talk about meditation and not give some practical direction in actually doing it.  So, what follows are some suggestions to help you in carrying out this discipline.

 

  1. Select an appropriate verse or passage. 

This can be done in the normal course of one’s daily time in the Word.  Our understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit causes us to believe that many times He, as Author of the Book, will impress us with a certain part of Scripture because this is the very part He wants us to meditate on.  Verses that specifically relate to your concerns and personal needs are clearly targets for meditation.

 

  1. Repeat it in Different Ways.

This method takes the verse or phrase of Scripture and turns it like a diamond to examine every facet.  Here is an example of meditating on Jesus’ words at the beginning of John 11:25. 

 

              I am the resurrection and the life.”

              “I am the resurrection and the life.”

              “I am the resurrection and the life.”

              “I am the resurrection and the life.”

              “I am the resurrection and the life.”

              “I am the resurrection and the life.”

              “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Of course, the point is not simply to repeat vainly each word of the verse.  The purpose is to think deeply upon the truth that flashes into your mind each time the verse is turned.

 

  1. Rewrite It in Your Own Words.

From his earliest days, Jonathan Edwards’ father taught him to do his thinking with pen in hand, a habit he retained throughout his life.  This helps you to focus your attention on what you are doing.  You should always have your journal at hand.

MEDITATE ON THIS – TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/ Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 3 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

 

In our last Messenger, on the subject of “meditation,” we were looking at Psalm 1:1-3.  We have already looked at the analogy of a cup of tea.  Here, the Psalmist gives us an analogy of a tree.  The tree is our spiritual life.  One’s spiritual life will thrive, it will constantly be nourished, and it will produce fruit when it is practicing meditating day and night upon God’s Word.  Meditation opens the soil of the soul and lets the water of God’s Word nourish and satisfy.  The result is an extraordinary fruitfulness and spiritual prosperity.

The author of Psalm 119 is confident that he is wiser than all his enemies (v. 98).  Moreover, he says, “I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditations’ (v. 99).  Is it because he heard or read or studied, or memorized God’s Word more than every one of his enemies and his teachers?  No!  The psalmist declares he is wiser, not because of more input, but because of more insight.  His explanation is that he meditates on God’s Word.  Meditation is absorption.

I believe, this is what distinguishes the men and women who lived hundreds of years ago from those of us who live today.  They did not have the technology we have to entertain ourselves and to take up hours of our time during the day.  Take Calvin’s Institutes.  At the age of 29 he wrote a masterful theological, devotional, evangelical work that is astounding to anyone who reads it.  It was written to the King of France as an evangelical treatise to defend the Christian faith and to encourage the King to embrace the truth.  Systematically, Calvin opens up what the Scriptures teach not only to bring about knowledge, but to also speak to the heart and conscience.  Richard Baxter, a Puritan pastor, wrote the Christian Directory, a practical guide relating to just about every imaginable aspect of the Christian life.  It consists of almost 1,000 pages of tiny print and contains one-and-a quarter-million words.  Baxter researched and wrote by hand most of this in less than two years (1664-1665).  He didn’t have the help of electric lights, much less electric typewriter or computer.  Then there is Jonathan Edwards, the greatest American theologian ever.  His works are unbelievable.  Elizabeth Dodds in her biography of Sara Edwards, Jonathan’s wife, says:

 

              When he was younger, Edwards had pondered how to make use of the time

              he had to spend on journeys.  After the move to North Hampton he worked

              out a plan for pinning a small piece of paper to a given spot on his coat,

              assigning the paper a number and charging his mind to associate a subject

              with that piece of paper.  After a ride as long as the three-day return from

              Boston he would be bristling with papers.  Back in his study, he would take

              off the papers methodically, and write down the train of thought each slip

              recalled to him.

We need to develop plans so that we can restore order to our thinking and recapture the ability to concentrate – especially on spiritual truth – through biblical meditation.

PURPOSE OF MEDITATION

Jesus Christ has not stopped acting and speaking through His Word.  He is alive and is working in our world.  He is not idle.  He is alive and among us as our Priest to forgive us, our Prophet to teach us, our King to rule us, and our Shepherd to guide us.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when asked why he meditated, replied, “Because I am a Christian.”  Madame Guyon said that meditation was for the purpose of experiencing “the depths of Jesus Christ.”

MEDITATE ON THIS – TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 2 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

We continue our study in what it means to meditate on the Word of God.  Last week we ended with looking at Joshua 1:8, in which the Lord instructs Joshua, in preparation for leading His people into the land of Canaan, to meditate on the Law of God day and night and that in this way all that he would do would prosper.  It is important that we understand that the success and prosperity God is talking about is always success and prosperity from His perspective and what form He wants it to take, not necessarily how the world perceives it.  From the New Testament we would understand the main application of this promise would be to the prosperity of the soul and spiritual success.  However, the point here is that there is no prosperity or success without meditation.

True success is promised to those who meditate on God’s Word, who think deeply on Scripture, not just one time each day, but at moments throughout the day and night.  They meditate so much that Scripture becomes a part of their thinking and behavior.  The fruit of their meditation is action.  They do what they find written in God’s Word and as a result God prospers their ways and grants success to them.  Again, from the New Testament perspective, what would be some of this success?  What about the fruit of the Spirit?  What about being a man or woman of God, a spiritual individual who is constantly demonstrating, in increasing degree, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?  What success!  What prosperity!

How does the “discipline” of meditation do this?  In Psalm 39:3, David says, “My heart was hot within me; while I was musing (meditating) the fire burned.”  David is saying as he meditated on the things of God, it was like a bellows upon what he had taken in.  As the fire blazes more brightly, it gives off more light (insight and understanding) and heat (passion for obedient action).  Then, as the Lord says, “then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

Why does the intake of God’s Word often leave us so cold, and why don’t we have more success in our spiritual lives?  Puritan pastor Thomas Watson said this:  “The reason we come away so cold from reading the word is, because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”

PSALM 1:1-3

Listen to what God says about meditation is this familiar passage:

 

              How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

              Nor stand in the path of sinners,

              Nor sit in the seat of scoffers,

              But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

              And in His law he meditates day and night.

              And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

              Which yields its fruit in its season,

              And its leaf does not wither,

              And in whatever he does, he prospers.

What do we “delight” in?  What fills our thoughts, our longings, our hopes, and our dreams?  God says if we are a righteous man or woman, a man of God or a woman of God, we will “delight” in His Word.  You see Psalm 1, is about contrast.  It is contrasting the godly individual with the wicked one.  They are not the same.  They are totally different.  The difference lies in what they “delight” in.  The difference lies in what influences their lives.

TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful

Your Pastor/Teacher      

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 1 – 2015

…from the Pastor’s Desk

As I promised, we continue our examination of the whole subject of “meditation.”  We were looking at the biblical witness to those in Scripture who actually were involved in meditation on the Word of God.  It is important to realize that even the Lord Jesus Christ made it a habit of withdrawing to “a lonely place apart” (Matthew 14:13).  See also Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 6:12, Matthew 1:35, Mark 6:31, Luke 5:16; Matthew 17:1-9, and Matthew 26:36-46.  Jesus did not do this just to get away from the crowd.  He did it so He could listen to the Father and to have communion with Him.  His example declares that we must do the same.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIBLICAL MEDITATION AND MODERN MEDITATION

What the Bible commands us to do in regard to meditation differs greatly from what the world says meditation is in several ways:

 

  1. Modern meditation asks you to empty your mind, while Christian meditation involves filling your mind with the character of God and His truth.
  2. Modern meditation is an attempt to achieve complete mental passivity, while biblical meditation requires constructive mental activity.
  3. Modern meditation employs visualization techniques intended to “create your own reality,” while Christian meditation focuses on those things which are real and the truth about those things as revealed in God’s Word.
  4. Modern meditation is done to make a person feel better or to make them feel one with the universe, while Christian meditation is concerned with actually listening to the Sovereign God of the universe and on the basis of His expressed and authoritative will to effect change in how a person thinks, loves, chooses, and acts.  (In reference to this see Philippians 4:8,9.)

DEFINITIN OF BIBLICAL MEDITATION

In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says, ‘Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.”  Someone else has said that meditation is “deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.”  Meditation goes beyond hearing, reading, studying, and even memorizing.  Maybe a helpful analogy would be that of a cup of tea.  You are the cup of hot water and the intake of Scripture is represented by the tea bag.  Hearing God’s Word is like one quick dip of the tea bag into the cup.  Some of the tea’s flavor is absorbed by the water.  Reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word are all dips of the tea bag into the water, and with each dip the water absorbs more of the tea.  However, meditation is the immersing of the bag completely and letting it sit there until the rich tea flavor has permeated the water and the water has taken on the color of the tea.

JOSHUA 1:8

In the first chapter of Joshua, God is charging Joshua with the responsibility of taking the people of Israel into the land of Canaan.  Joshua is now assuming the leadership role that had been Moses’.  Joshua is going to be the man of the hour, the captain of the army of Israel, the spokesman for the living God, the servant of God.  In the midst of this charge, God had a very specific command to give to Joshua.  Listen to it:  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall MEDITATE (emphasis mine) on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”  What a mandate!  In effect God is saying, “Joshua there is no way you can lead my people unless you become a man saturated in my Word.  Not only can it not depart from your mouth.  You must be declaring it to the people of Israel.  You must let it penetrate every fiber of your being.  You cannot forget it.  You must remember it.  It must be your constant companion.  You must think on it, mull over it, talk to yourself about it, make application of it to your live and the life of My people.  And then do it!  Only in this way will you know any success or prosperity.”

What is true for Joshua is also true for you and me.     TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher

ST. LUKE MESSENGER # 51 – 2014

…from the Pastor’s Desk

 

It seems I might have made a mistake, even though I know this is an improbable occurrence, in my declaring my previous article was the last Messenger of 2014.  Today, as I am typing this, it is still 2014, so I will go on record as saying, “This is the last Messenger of our present year.” I pray that the Lord has used these in your life to encourage you and establish you in the truth of the Gospel.

This past Sunday one of the points of my sermon focused on the subject of “meditation.”  I want to look at this subject with you over the next few weeks.  I believe that this is such an important aspect of our lives, as Christians, and one in which we have, sadly, lost the application of in our lives.  In contemporary society it seems our Adversary, the devil, majors in three things:  noise, hurry, and crowds.  If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness” he can rest satisfied.  Psychiatrist Carl Jung, once remarked, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.”  If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into times, silent times, of contemplation – the inner world of our thoughts, choices, and loves.  We need to become men and women who rediscover the lost art of Biblical meditation.

One sad feature of our modern culture is that meditation has become identified more with non-Christian systems of thought than with Biblical Christianity.  Even among believers, the practice of meditation is often more closely associated with yoga, transcendental meditation, relaxation therapy, or eastern mysticism.  Because meditation is so prominent in many spiritual counterfeit groups and movements, some Christians are even uncomfortable with the whole subject and suspicious of those who engage in it.  However, we must remember that meditation is both commanded by God and modeled by the godly in Scripture.

BIBLICAL WITNESS

The Bible uses two different words to convey the idea of meditation, and together they are used some fifty-eight times.  These words have various meanings:  listening to God’s word, reflecting on God’s word, rehearsing God’s deeds, thinking on God’s law, etc.  In each of these the stress is upon changed behavior as a result of our meeting with the living God.  Repentance and obedience are essential features in any biblical understanding of meditation.  The psalmist exclaims, “Oh, how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day . . . I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word.  I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me” (Psalm 119:97, 101, 102).

Those who walked through the pages of the Bible knew the ways of meditation.  “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening” (Genesis 24:63).  “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6).  The Psalms are full of the meditations of the people of God upon the law of God:  “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate upon Your promise” (Psalm 119:48).  Again, the psalm that introduces the entire book declares all those who are righteous as being “blessed” because their “delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

Eli knew how to listen to God.  He helped Samuel to listen to God and therefore come to a knowledge of God that Samuel did not possess before (I Samuel 3:1-8).  Elijah had to be brought to despair before he listened to the “still small voice of Yahweh” (I Kings 19:9-18).  Jeremiah discovered the word of God to be “a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jer. 20:9).

We could go on and on with illustrations of men and women of God in Scripture whom God used because they were willing to listen to God… 

TO BE CONTINUED

Forever Faithful,

Your Pastor/Teacher