The Discipline of Trials Part 2

Newton

I wrote recently the first post of what I am planning to be a short series of blog posts on the discipline of trials. I am drawing heavily from chapter 9 of Tony Reinke’s fantastic book on John Newton. In that chapter Reinke points us to various benefits of trials that John Newton gives to us. In the first post we saw that “trials drive Christians to pray.” In this post we will look at three more benefits of trials.

Trials Humble Proud Hearts

Reinke says that: “Trials are intended to humble us and launch a frontal assault on our pride.” Newton in one of his letters to another minister said: “It requires much discipline to keep pride down in us,…” It does indeed, because all of us as Christians are prone to be proud. Think about the apostle Paul and his thorn in the flesh in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12. Why did God give him this thorn in the flesh? Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians 12:7: “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” One author said: “How dangerous must self-exaltation be, when even the apostle required so much restraint.” God though in His goodness will send trials our way to humble us. As Reinke says, trials will set: “us free from the shackles of our own self-righteousness and self-importance.”

Trials Kill Worldliness

Reinke writes on this benefit of trials when he tells us:

“When rust and moth and robbers eliminate our securities, when cancer arrives, or when we find ourselves speechless in the company of a suffering friend, in this place we feel deep in our bones that this world cannot be the eternal rest our hearts long for. Trials remind us of the vanity of life, and the vanity reminds us that this world is fallen, and the fallenness reminds us that it is a deeply unsatisfying world…trials make us uneasy and set our hearts on things above, where Christ is (Col. 3:1-4).”

So, God in His goodness will sometimes bring trials into our lives to: “make us uneasy and set our hearts on things above,…” When this happens to us, we should see the goodness of God in these trials. Newton said: “Let us adore the grace that seeks to draw our hearts above!”

I remember a few years ago when Rachel Bowen almost died during one of our church services, but God miraculously saved her life. I remember that people in our church were greatly impacted by that serious trial that Rachel and Ben walked through and really our whole church walked through. Members in our church were thinking about eternity and the shortness of life. I know I was regularly thinking about death and eternity during those weeks after that happened.

Trials are Ice Water on Sleepy Souls

Reinke tells us that: “The Christian life is one of sobriety and wakefulness (1 Thess. 5:6). Drawing from Bunyan’s allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, Newton believed we walk this life in danger of spiritual laziness.” My guess is that all of us as Christians know about this danger of spiritual laziness in our lives. I am sure we have all faced the temptation to coast in the Christian life and to go on auto-pilot, or to simply be lazy spiritually. When we begin to be careless spiritually, we will find that we will begin to dry up spiritually. As Mark reminded us in a recent sermon that spiritual dryness is a common problem. When we are growing spiritually dry and beginning to take a spiritual nap, God in His goodness will sometimes send trials our way. Those trials will be like ice water to our sleepy souls, to snap us back awake.

Reinke reminds us that: “Trials are medicines measured out with care and prescribed by our wise and gracious Physician. He proportions the frequency and the weight of each dose exactly to what the case requires.”

 

The Discipline of Trials

Newton

Jerry Ediger asked me to post some of the tremendous wisdom that is found in the above book on John Newton that was written by Tony Reinke. Many people at North Avenue have already read through this book, but if you haven’t you can purchase it here. Jerry, Mark, Fred, and I were discussing Hebrews 12:1-17 recently on a Zoom call that Lord willing will be posted at some point in the future. During our discussion I mentioned chapter 9 of Tony Reinke’s book on John Newton called the discipline of trials. I pointed out how impactful that chapter has been in my life. Basically Newton gives us various benefits of trials, and he is helping us see the goodness of God during trials. So, on this post let me start by mentioning just one, and Lord willing in the future I will try and write some more post on other benefits of trials that Newton gives us. The first one I will mention is that: “Trials drive Christians to pray.”

Tony Reinke writes that: “Normally our prayer lives are unimpressive. Sin degenerates the beauty of prayer into a painful chore. The glorious privilege of prayer becomes for us a “mere task” we ignore at the slightest excuse…Instead of enjoying the blessed communion with the Almighty, we are dragged before God like a slave and we run away from prayer like a thief. Or we fall into the trap of mindless praying. We slip into rote prayers when life becomes comfortable.”

I think most of us know exactly what Reinke is describing in terms of our prayer lives somewhat drying up when life is comfortable. However, when God in His goodness brings various trials into our lives, our prayer lives tend to drastically change. Reinke says: “Mindless and habitual prayers are never less suited than when the circumstances of our lives crumble around us. Trials breathe new desperation–new life–into our prayers.” Then Reinke quotes John Newton who wrote: “Experience testifies, that a long course of ease and prosperity, without painful changes, has an unhappy tendency to make us cold and formal in our secret worship.” Then Newton gives us these powerful words: “Trials give new life to prayer, Trials lay us at his feet, Lay us low and keep us there.”

I love that last sentence from Newton. My guess is that all Christians who have walked through suffering would verify the validity of that Newton quote. As soon as we begin to walk through a trial the RPM gauge of our prayer lives revs up big time. I will just mentioned a few examples of this. Probably about a year ago a Christian coworker of mine got a call one morning while at work that his father had a stroke. He came over to my desk and told me the news and then asked me if I would go out in the hallway and pray for his dad. We walked into the hallway and I had the privilege to pray for the situation. It didn’t take long for this trial to begin to breathe new life into prayer.

I think my wife and I could both talk about praying for our son Michael during his suffering that he has walked through. On various occasions Michael has awakened crying and has been hard to console. Some of the sweetest moments with my son have been singing and praying with him when he has been crying in the night. God in His goodness has brought in these trials with my son that have breathed new life into my wife and my prayers.

The next story I will mention is a powerful story from the life of Charles Spurgeon, who went through a lot of suffering in his life. This story is from 1871 when he was enduring severe pain. Spurgeon writes: “When I was racked some months ago with pain, to an extreme degree, so that I could no longer bear it without crying out, I asked all to go from the room, and leave me alone; and then I had nothing I could say to God but this, ‘Thou are my Father, and I am thy child; and thou, as a Father art tender and full of mercy. I could not bear to see my child suffer as thou makest me suffer, and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could to help him, and put my arms under him to sustain him. Wilt thou hide thy face from me, my Father? Wilt thou still lay on a heavy hand, and not give me a smile from thy countenance?’

So, Spurgeon walked through this severe pain, and this trial laid Spurgeon low, and it breathed new life into his prayers as he poured out his heart to his heavenly Father. Spurgeon then concludes by saying: “I bless God that ease came and the racking pain never returned.” Which John Newton tells us that: “Trouble excites prayer, prayer brings deliverance, deliverance produces praise,…” So, trials drive us to pray, and then so often God is gracious and brings deliverance after we pray, and that then produces praise and thanksgiving in us.

The last story I will mention is one that Mark mentioned in one of his recent sermons. This comes from missionary John Paton. This has to be one of my favorite stories from his life. Paton who took the gospel to cannibals on the New Hebrides Islands, faced all kinds of opposition and his life was in danger many times. This particular story Paton was once again in a perilous situation. 100’s of angry natives were trying to find him to kill him. He went and hid in a chestnut tree. Here are Paton’s powerful words describing that night:

“I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush. The hours I spent there live all before me as if it were but of yesterday. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages. Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe as in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among those chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone! If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Savior’s spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship. If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?”

So, when God brings trials into our lives, let us be sure to remember that God in His goodness so often brings those trials to us, to drive us to pray. As John Newton wrote: “Trials give new life to prayer, Trials lay us at his feet, Lay us low and keep us there.”

 

 

SERMON NOTES: Understanding and Applying an Imprecatory Psalm | Psalm 69:19-36

May 3rd, 2020 | Mark McAndrew

1) David asks the Lord to bring the judgment. He does not take this into his own hands.

2) David held a position we don’t have. He was the anointed king of Israel. He was the king of the Jews. He was God’s anointed one. He was a type of Christ. So David is speaking from that vantage point not from the vantage point of personal, petty vindictiveness. He is writing in the vein of Psalm 2.

3) David lived in the Old Covenant era, where none of us live. The OT often emphasizes temporal judgments. The NT often emphasizes eternal judgments.

4) However, the New Testament is not only unembarrassed by these words but actually quotes from the judgment section of Psalm 69 not once but twice. Once regarding Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:20 and once regarding Israel generally in Romans 11:9-10Additionally, the New Testament has plenty of its own imprecations. For a partial list, see here.

5) These words of David are what all of us deserve because of our sins against Jesus, the true Son of David.

6) The judgments mentioned in this song are “A reliable expression of what happens to the adversaries of God’s Anointed” (quote from John Piper).

7) It is common in the OT for a word of judgment or warning to be conditional on the repentance of the listener. In the case of Jonah we see this in regards to Nineveh in Jonah 3 and Jeremiah 18:7-8For a NT example of a radical conversion of a persecutor of God’s anointed King see Paul’s own words about himself.

8) Romans 9, 10, 11, 12, & 15 wonderfully show us how Paul applied the imprecations of Psalm 69 to his New Testament context.

Behind the Scenes of Sermon Preparation

Behind the Scenes of Sermon Preparation
Updated on May 3, 2020 | Mark McAndrew
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I thought it might be helpful to write a blog post for those interested in the kind of resources that are used in private before a sermon is given. So below is a complete list (I think!) of resources I’ve had the privilege to use for my sermons on the Psalms. I also would like to briefly note how they influenced the messages on Psalm 22, Psalm 34Psalm 69 (Part 1) and Psalm 69 (Part 2).
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[The following list of names is a not an unqualified endorsement of the totality of each person’s writings.]
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Derek Kidner’s two volume commentary on the Psalms has been a great help. I’ve read and reread his comments before each message and they’ve influenced aspects of each sermon. He is the master of saying so much in so few words. His comments helped me see that all of Psalm 22 is Messianic, not just the parts concerning the sufferings. To mention one specific thing amongst many, he helped me with my comments that since the Garden of Eden we have been tempted to think that fearing God leads to misery rather than joy.
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Alec Motyer‘s commentary in the New Bible Commentary is both helpful and concise. I greatly enjoyed his commentary on Exodus this past year and have found his comments on the Psalms worthy of reading more than once. Among other things, he influenced my comment on Psalm 34:7 that the “angel of the Lord” is an indication of “diversity within the unity of the Godhead” and that David’s testimony in that chapter is valuable because it rests on the unchanging character of God.
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Spurgeon‘s massive multi-volume commentary on the Psalms called The Treasury of David has been a huge help (and is all free online). I read just about all of his commentary on Psalm 22, most on 34, and much on 69. As one example among many, Spurgeon’s comments on “I am a worm” (Psalm 22:6) helped contribute to my comments on that phrase. He gives explanatory notes on virtually every verse, sermon ideas, and quotes from others theologians.
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James Boice has a wonderful three volume commentary on the Psalms that I have found very helpful for getting sermon ideas. He is great at giving lists, such as the one on Psalm 69:1-18: “1) Enemies, 2) Brothers, 3) A Proverb, 4) Rulers, 5) Drunkards.” Boice influenced my comments that Christians today will be called “bywords” like “anti-science,” “anti-progress,” etc. However, Boice used the phrases “religious nuts,” “radical right,” and the “God squad” instead.
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Don Carson‘s commentary on The Gospel According to John (which Scott and I used constantly during the John series) helped inform my comments on Jesus saying, “I thirst” (John 19:28-29 which fulfilled Psalm 69:21).
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Carson’s comments on Psalm 69 in his devotional book called For the Love of God helped clarify some of my opening remarks about how the Psalm is about Jesus typologically. He also gave the most exhaustive list of places Psalm 69 is both quoted and possibly alluded to in the New Testament, including John 7:5.
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Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament is one of my favorite books. I use it constantly whenever the NT quotes an OT passage. I used it for Psalm 22, 34, & 69. In that book, Carson’s comments were especially helpful in understanding how 1 Peter makes use of Psalm 34. In the same book, Andreas Kostenberger was helpful regarding how John uses Psalm 69 in his gospel (especially in John 2:17; 15:25; & 19:28-29).
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I listened to Richard Phillipstwo sermons on Psalm 69, which were solid as usual. I listened to his first sermon on verses 1-18 repeatedly. It especially inspired my thinking about how the world hates Jesus and His followers and how we should respond. The fact that he preached the chapter in two messages split at the end of verse 18 influenced me to preach it that way. I was originally going to preach Psalm 69 as one sermon, but changed my mind because I couldn’t figure out how to fit all of it into one message.
Christopher Ash, Joe Morecraft, and Joe Carter all had helpful messages on Psalm 69 (see herehere, and here for audio). I listened to most of a Psalm 69 sermon from Mark Dever’s church preached by Zach Schlegel which helped me see how to preach this Psalm in a Jesus-centered way. What I mean is that he helped make it personal, emphasizing Christ’s sympathy and intercession for us.
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John Piper‘s message on Psalm 69 called Pour Out Your Indignation Upon Them was superb. If you have time to listen to only one other sermon on this passage, I recommend this one. As you listen you’ll likely hear aspects of his sermon that impacted my own. He influenced me both to include Romans 12:19-20 in my message and my comments on that passage. I used part of the following quote from this message as well: “In other words, the way Paul interprets the words of David is not as sinful personal vengeance but as a reliable expression of what happens to the adversaries of God’s anointed.
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Tim Keller has a devotional I have found useful called The Songs of Jesus. The idea to mention Jeremiah 9:23-24 (“boasting in the Lord”) while covering Psalm 34:2 came from that book (p. 64). Keller also helped me understand how Romans 12:19-20’s teaching on God’s future judgment frees us (perhaps surprisingly) to love others.
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I listened to Doug Wilson‘s message on Psalm 69 and found it helpful, especially regarding the typological aspect of the Psalm, even though the latter half of the sermon seemed to wander a bit off the main topic. Wilson, among others, helped me see that verse 5 is obviously not about Jesus, but that much (all?) of the rest of the Psalm is about David and Jesus.
I found Sinclair Ferguson helpful as always on both Psalm 22 and Psalm 34. Sinclair often stirs my affections although I have a hard time bringing ideas from his messages into my own. I listened to Dick Lucas, who I always enjoy, on one or more of the Psalms but don’t remember the messages well.
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I received clarity and help for the verse divisions for my Psalm 22 outline from James Boice, but the idea to preach it out of order came to me while talking to Scott on the phone on that Saturday night because I was stuck and did not know how to order the message in a way that was easy to follow. I received help in titling my outline for Psalm 34 from the MacArthur Study Bible and help for my outline and some sermon ideas on Psalm 69:1-18 from David Guzik. I got a helpful Spurgeon quote from him about our throats being parched more often by talking about frivolous rather than significant things. I also got the idea to mention that Jesus was mocked by the High Priest and the thief on the cross who represented the elites and dregs of society, respectively.
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Matthew Henry‘s whole Bible commentary is always good, especially in obscure parts of the Old Testament. He was helpful for me in confirming the David/Christ typology in his introductory remarks about Psalm 69.
I used various Romans commentaries regarding my comments on Romans 11, 12, & 15. These include Tom Schreiner‘s, Doug Moo‘s, and Mark Seifrid‘s excellent works and (although he is not a reliable commentator) James D.G. Dunn‘s.
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Before I preach on a passage (including these on the Psalms) I usually work through the study notes in most or all of the following Bibles: the ESV Study Bible, the Biblical Theology Study Bible, the Reformation Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible, and the Gospel Transformation Study Bible.
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These study Bibles just listed are superb. If a person had only five books they could own to better understand all of Scripture, these are hard to beat. It’s great to have them all so you can see where they agree/disagree and better weigh the evidence.
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[I semi-regularly use the NET Study Bible, which is especially good with issues of textual criticism. Less frequently, I use the NIV Cultural Background Study Bible (I’m not a huge fan of the two primary authors, especially John Walton who edited the OT notes), the NLT Life Application Study Bible (this one is flawed in some important theological ways, but sometimes helpful with practical issues), the HCSB Study Bibleand the ESV Archeology Study Bible (which is excellent on its subject matter).]
With today’s sermon I had a large imprecatory section (Psalm 69:22-28). I listened to Piper’s sermon on this repeatedly and found it quite helpful. I have read and reread Derek Kidner’s section on this kind of Psalm in his introduction to volume one (p. 25-32). While I doubt I agree with every sentence, much of what he said was very helpful. I’ve read the brief but helpful introductory section on imprecatory Psalms in the Reformation Study Bible. I also found a great extended study note in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible (now republished as the Biblical Theology Study Bible). It helped shape the eight points I gave regarding imprecatory Psalms.
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I watched two brief youtube clips about imprecatory Psalms. One was by John Piper and one by Robert Godfrey & Al Mohler (this one was especially good and encouraged me in the relevance of imprecatory Psalms for today and how the New Testament has its own form of imprecations). I also read part of an older sermon by John MacArthur on the topic as well.
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I also planned (but forgot) to use C.S. Lewis as a bad example of how to deal with imprecatory Psalms. Chapters 3 and 10 in his very flawed book Reflections on the Psalms are frankly two of the worst chapters I’ve ever read from Lewis. He actually goes so far as to say that the imprecations in these Psalms are “sin” and even “devilish.”
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[This reminds us that we must use discernment even while reading someone as well loved as C.S. Lewis. Even he gets it wrong (very wrong!) in significant ways sometimes. His view of Scripture (which he expresses in chapter 10) is sadly and simply unbiblical and harmful.]
Ok, thanks to anybody who read this far! You are both great people!
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I happily admit that I have few original ideas. Most of what I say (and perhaps this is true of all of us) comes from standing on the shoulders of others much wiser and more knowledgeable than myself. If I’m counting correctly, last Sunday’s sermon alone was influenced and shaped by about 23 different resources. Usually the closest I get to referencing them are when I say something like, “commentators point out [blank]” or “most commentators agree/disagree about [blank].” Well, it’s a blessing that we have all these resources and occasionally even get to cite them in detail!
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Thanks for reading!
-Mark
[One last comment: When you read and listen to a lot of different commentators and pastors you often begin to see a great similarity between their approaches to the passage, but you also get to see the differences; sometimes quite significant ones.
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So, for instance, the fact that the 1 Chronicles’ account of David’s preparation of the temple may be the background to Psalm 69 was referenced repeatedly in most sources I looked at. That Jesus’ brothers rejected Him in John and Mark, as mentioned in Psalm 69:8, was mentioned by many of the commentaries as well. That “those who sit in the gate” refer to the social elites and “the drunkards” to the societal dregs (69:12) was common among the commentators also.
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About half the sources I used last Sunday said that David’s own “folly” (in Psalm 69:5) was the occasion of his mockery by others. The other half said David’s folly had nothing to do with the mockery. I took the second position and did not get into the debate in that message. But it was due to being exposed to multiple sources that I was able to see that there even was a debate, who took what side and why, and finally come to my own conclusion.]

Three Reminders From the Book of Romans

 

 

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NAC Family!

Using an enormous understatement, we are living in amazing and extraordinary days. A week ago, only our Lord knew how the following week would unfold and the unprecedented trials and opportunities that would go with it.  

Let me throw out three reminders from Romans as we consider our God-given roles in this ever-changing world. Romans 1:14-16 stresses the urgency of the Gospel. It says, “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” 

In light of the  perilous days we live in, let’s remember our obligation and be eager and unashamed to share the Gospel continually with our family and those we have the chance to influence.

Secondly, Romans 5:3-5 reminds us of the tremendous benefits of trials. It says, Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” We all want and need more endurance, character and hope. Suffering puts us on the fast track to receive those attributes. Many of you can give countless example of how our Lord has used trials to sanctify you.

Finally, nothing beats the unshakeable promises of Romans 8 when walking through times of uncertainty. Consider these verses as you think of the current circumstances which have been perfectly ordained by our Lord for His glory.

Romans 8:17-18 

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Romans 8:26-28

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:31-32

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Romans 8:37-39

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Use these and your other favorite promises as an arsenal against the sins of fear, worry and complaining!

Thanks again for bringing our Lord glory through the ministries to your family and others he has entrusted to you!

Think Eternally!

Jerry

If You Used to go to Church

If You Used to go to Church
If you grew up in church and have since grown weary of ‘religion’ and the whole Christianity thing…I want to suggest something.
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It’s actually so simple it may seem pointless.
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Maybe you are sick of hypocritical church-going people who claim to follow Jesus. Maybe you are just confused or bored or offended by the teaching of Scripture. Maybe it just all seems too unreal and part of your childhood at this point that you could never ‘go back’ to those odd beliefs.
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Whatever it is that’s made you drift away (and we’ve all been there to varying degrees), here is a suggestion.
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Find an old Bible somewhere and sit down alone in your room. Open to the Gospel of John. Then close your eyes and pray from your heart, “God, I don’t even know if You’re real any more or if You are good or if You care, but I am committing to read through the Gospel of John over the next few days. If You are really out there and if this Book really is Your Word, please reveal Yourself to me as I read these old familiar pages.”
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Pray earnestly. Read. Focus on Jesus. Watch Him. Listen. And see if He is worthy of your trust.

BIBLE 2018 | Week 26 (last one!)

We’ve made it half way through the year! Due to the busyness of our schedules, this will be the last regular, weekly blog following the Bible reading schedule. We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring some of the less frequently read parts of Scripture!

Philippians 1-2 | Sunday: Philippians 2 shows us that the commands for unity, humility, service are root in the humble servant Jesus became in the gospel.

Leviticus 7-9 | Monday: For more on Leviticus, see here.

I Kings 19-22 | Tuesday: For an overview of 1-2 Kings, see here.

Psalms 75-77 | Wednesday: D.A. Carson gives us a reflection on Psalm 75: 

“One of the important functions of corporate worship is recital, that is, a “retelling” of the wonderful things that God has done. Hence Psalm 78:2-4: “I will utter hidden things, things from of old—what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Similarly, if more briefly, Psalm 75:1: “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.”…God’s “name” is part of his gracious self-disclosure. It is a revelation of who he is (Ex. 3:14; 34:5-7, 14). God’s “name,” then, is brought very near us in the story of his wonderful deeds: that is, who God is is disclosed in the accounts of what he has done. 
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Thus the recital of what God has done is a means of grace to bring God near to his people. Believers who spend no time reviewing and pondering in their minds what God has done, whether they are alone and reading their Bibles or joining with other believers in corporate adoration, should not be surprised if they rarely sense that God is near. 
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The emphasis this psalm makes regarding God is that he is the sovereign disposer, the “disposer supreme” (as one commentator puts it). It is wonderfully stabilizing to us to rest in such a God. He declares, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly” (75:2). It is hard to imagine a category more suggestive of God’s firm control than “the appointed time.” Yet mere control without justice would be fatalism. This God, however, not only sets the appointed times, but judges uprightly (75:2). Further, in this broken world there are cataclysmic events that seem to threaten the entire social order. Elsewhere David ponders, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (11:3). But here we are reassured, for God himself declares, “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm” (75:3). So the arrogant who may think themselves to be the pillars of society are duly warned: “Boast no more” (75:4). To the wicked, God says, “Do not lift your horns against heaven [like a ram tossing its head about in bold confidence]; do not speak with outstretched neck” (75:5). 
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Retell God’s wonderful deeds and bring near his name.” 

Proverbs 7 | Thursday: Jon Bloom gives us a warning about flattery and he ties it in to a portion of Proverbs 7:  

“But we are not only tempted to be manipulative flatterers; we also are pathetically vulnerable to being manipulated by flattery. This is due to the gargantuan pride in our sinful nature. 
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Our sin nature wants to be flattered because it loves to be admired. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter if we know the flattery is disingenuous, as long as it enhances our image in the eyes of others or simply gives us a buzz from the fact that someone thinks us important enough to flatter. 
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This, in fact, is the snare of much sexual sin. The real seductive power in much sexual lust is high-octane pride mixing with the sexual drive, fueling the intoxicating experience of being desired, even if it’s just fantasy. Flattery is what the adulterous in Proverbs 7 used to snare the young man and lead him away “as an ox goes to the slaughter” (Proverbs 7:21–22). The adulteress seduced him, but the man was “lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). 
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This is the way flattery works on us. It seduces us, but only because our pride finds it enticing. And if we take the bait, it wreaks destruction.” 

Ezekiel 13-18 | Friday: For an overview of Ezekiel, see here.

Luke 15-16 | Saturday: There is a previous in depth blog post on Luke 15 that can be found here: Prodigal Grace