“Be earnest and diligent in making sure to yourself your discharge from the sentence and penalty of the law. Sue out the great fact in the Lord’s own court by fervent prayer and simple faith. Your Surety has cancelled your debt, and purchased your exemption from death. Avail yourself of the comfort and the stimulus of the blessing. You may be certain, yes, quite certain, of its truth. No process is more easy. It is but to look from off yourself to Christ, and to believe with all your heart that he came into the world to save sinners, and assurance is yours. The order is, ‘We believe, and are sure.’ Oh, do not leave this matter to a bare peradventure. Make sure of your union with Christ, and you may be sure of no condemnation from Christ.”
- Octavius Winslow, from No Condemnation in Christ Jesus, p. 16-17
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“While it is true that Jesus is King according to our lips, in truth and in practice do we act in utter contradiction to Him? Do we acknowledge His right of sovereignty, Christian friends, but are not crowning Him in our lives? We say, ‘Thine is the kingdom'; we trust in Him and receive Him as our Saviour. We believe that He indwells our hearts by the Holy Spirit. In theory He is King, but let me ask you, in practice, who is running your life?”
- Alan Redpath, from Victorious Praying, p. 124
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Reading through the book of Proverbs this month and today’s reading brings me to Proverbs 5. I’m wondering if verse 21 brings comfort to us or convicts us. There is a shiny veneer we can put on our lives each day, aided by the fact that no one sees who we are or what we do when the eyes of the world are elsewhere. But verse 21 is a piercing reminder that no matter what we tell ourselves, we are never truly “alone”. God sees; our actions and even intentions are always before Him. Solomon has spent most of this chapter relating this specifically to adultery, but we’d be wise to carry his words into a broader context as well. Otherwise, we can ensure that Solomon’s words a few verses earlier in 5:11-12 will sadly be our own:
And you groan at your final end,
When your flesh and your body are consumed;
And you say, ” How I have hated instruction!
And my heart spurned reproof!”
“Moral reformation which leaves the heart untouched is about as useful as tying bunches of grapes on to a briar-bush. Jesus is inviting his hearers to a way of life which is so completely new that it will need a change of heart, a change deep down in the personality. There are many alternatives to Jesus’ invitation on the market today, just as there were in his time, but they don’t touch the real problem.”
- N.T. Wright, from Luke for Everyone, p. 77-78
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As I mentioned in a previous post, my plan this year is to focus on Luke and Acts in my Bible study. Going through these two books slowly has been on my mind for some time, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to do it. I’m just one month in and have only gotten through Luke 3. If you’re interested in studying Luke in this way, here are some of the resources I’ve been leaning on in my study so far. And if you know of any additional materials I’m missing, please let me know!
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“It is important for us to push through the pain barrier and proclaim our faith bravely. Perhaps our conversations can be helped by humbly pointing to our own experience – how Jesus has invaded our lives is a reality and also a mystery. He has become our Friend and Savior and has given us all we need to face life and death with confidence and joy. I believe that if we do this, the coming year will be better than the last.”
- Alistair Begg
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Well it’s New Year’s resolution time again. January is also the time when you see many articles and encouragements for read the Bible in a year plans. I’ve found these plans to be great helps to reading the entire Bible through in a year’s time and an excellent aid to keep that goal on track, and have read through the Bible several times with these. You can find many great plans listed here.
One thing that I’ve struggled with in these plans is the tendency to check off my reading for the day and never return to it for reflection or additional study. Sometimes I’d go through an entire book without pausing to consider how it fits into the Bible’s overall picture. So this year, Lord willing, I’m going to try something a little different. For whatever reason, I’ve focused more on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John in my previous studies than on Luke, and even less so on his follow-up writing of the book of Acts. So I’m planning on spending the year in Luke and Acts, reading and rereading the texts, and as much as I can of sermons, commentaries, and other background material on those two books. My guess is I’ll spend about 8 months in Luke and 4 months in Acts, but we’ll see. I’ll of course read other books of the Bible throughout the year, but I wanted to make sure I had enough time to fully focus on Luke’s writings without lapsing into a checklist mentality from a full Bible reading plan. I’ve tried a similar approach with smaller books such as 1 John, 1 Peter, and others, mainly through John MacArthur’s Bible study suggestions, and have found my understanding of these books was greatly helped. My Twitter friend Renee has been going through the Gospel of John for the past year or so, which encouraged me as well.
I’m excited to focus on studying Luke and Acts in this way and look forward to seeing where it leads. The main thing, I think, is spending time in God’s Word each day and learning to live more like Jesus. We’ll see how it goes!
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