Through the Word in 2020 / Jan. 24

​We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/ Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 9:27-38; Acts 14; Psalm 22:12-31, Genesis 49. The healing of the 2 blind men in Matt. 9 provides crucial insight into how faith operates. Note first something in the blind men’s approach to Jesus. Faith is not a sense of confidence – at least not in oneself in any way. They cried for mercy. A cry for mercy is a cry that denotes no sense of deserving or right. They did not say to themselves “I’m believing for healing!” Their faith wasn’t a worked up sort of thing, it was exercised in helplessness, not confidence. It looks to the benefactor to act only according to the benefactor’s own largess. And it is this recognition for mercy which is so essential to our right understanding of saving faith. Jesus owes us nothing. We deserve only wrath. But recognizing He has both the power and the prerogative to show mercy, we appeal to Him only on that basis. And He is ever faithful to respond in kind. What a great Savior He is! Secondly, we see that some believed because they saw Jesus’ works. These, as blind, could only hear of His works. And yet, for them, that was enough. They believed having only heard. And so according to even that faith, a very slight, but still relying faith – they were healed. Note that v. 27 says they were following Him. They could only hear, and yet they followed. Oh that just hearing would always be enough for me. John 20:29 3rd, notice that it is not great faith that is needed. It is faith in a great Christ… Read More

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Through the Word in 2020 / Jan. 23

Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 9:14-26; Acts 13:26-52; Psalm 22:1-11, Genesis 48. The Disciples of John came to Jesus with a curious question about fasting. Fasting in Jesus day had taken on some aspects we see even today. Throughout the Old Testament fasting was always tied to some aspect of mourning. It expressed grief over war, famine, loss and especially in repentance after a spiritual decline. But it wasn’t long before fasting became somewhat superstitious – a means to somehow bend the arm of God to do something for us that He was reluctant to do. And it became a symbol of one’s personal piety.  Jesus in his answer to them, bids them to remember that fasting, like so many other things is tied instead to certain seasons. Seasons like I mentioned above. And thus, it would not be proper for Jesus’ disciples to be fasting right at this moment, for He, the Bridegroom was with them. It wasn’t the season for fasting but for rejoicing. Their days of mourning would come in time. But not now.  And this bids us all to remember that even in nature, God has built in the idea of seasons. As the Writer in Ecclesiates reminds us: Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 (ESV) — For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a… Read More

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David Murray on Teaching Hosea

Hosea tells a heartbreaking—and for many, a perplexing—story about a prophet told to marry a prostitute. This book is filled with cycle after cycle of promises of judgment. But according to David Murray, professor of Old Testament and practical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Hosea gives teachers the opportunity to present people with vivid pictures of God as a faithful husband intent on loving his unfaithful wife, a parent whose heart is twisted up inside him over the effect of his child’s sin, and so much more. In context of all of God’s uncomfortable promises to judge his people in heartbreaking ways, Murray points out God’s repeated promises throughout the book to live, to save, to redeem, and to restore his people to himself after they’ve wandered away from him. Listen to this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible. Mentioned in this episode Transcript The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.  David Murray: As long as people think of God as a fallacy, as a holier than thou, detached, looking down on, just condemning, criticizing and judging, there’s no pull, there’s no attraction, there’s no desire. But if we can show people the God of Hosea, the God of Gomer actually, then I think we begin to break down barriers and begin to give people hope that this God could be my God. Nancy Guthrie: Welcome to “Help Me Teach the Bible,” I’m Nancy Guthrie. Help Me Teach the Bible is a production of the gospel coalition sponsored by Crossway, a not for profit publisher of the ESV Bible, Christian books and tracks. Learn more at crossway.org. My guest today on Help Me Teach the Bible is one of my favorite Bible teachers,… Read More

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Through the Word in 2020 / Jan. 22

Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 9:1-13; Acts 13:1-25; Psalm 21, Genesis 46-47. And if you hadn’t noticed – you’ve already completed reading 5% of the entire Scripture with today’s portion.  As I write this today, I am reminded of a repeated motif in Scripture which gets repeatedly overlooked. As in the 10 plagues which will come when God is ready to liberate Israel from Egyptian bondage, so here: God’s people are most often KEPT in the World’s trials, not utterly exempted from them.  If our faith is always bound up with God keeping us from trial, temptation and trouble, we will find ourselves doubting God at every turn – every time something grievous or overwhelming enters our lives. But He has not promised to keep us from all these things, but to keep us in them!  So all of Egypt and Canaan were suffering under this famine. And God’s chosen race was not exempted from it. Instead, what they were to find out, is that God had made provision for them – well ahead. And that, by redeeming for their good the very sin they had committed in selling Joseph into slavery. That doesn’t mitigate their sin. Because God can and does bring good out of evil is no justification for evil. But it does show how in His faithfulness to His people and His promises, even in our failures – He has made provision for us.  We may well witness the collapse of Western Culture as we know it. I don’t know. We may well see our political system undo itself or face ecological, biological or economic disaster. Individually and as a people there may be hard and dark days ahead that we never imagined. Individually you or I may suffer all forms of physical maladies, weaknesses, doubts, fear,… Read More

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Through the Word in 2020 / Jan. 21

Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 8:23-34; Acts 12; Psalm 20, Genesis 44-45.  The Genesis account of Joseph being reunited with his brothers is powerful and moving. I cannot read it without thinking how we as the human race sold out Jesus, and how He is so full of forgiveness and grace that He falls upon our necks and weeps when we are brought back together. What a picture of salvation.  ​But I would call your attention to this morning is that easily passed-over verse quoting part of Pharaoh’s charge to Joseph regarding his family: “​Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours​.”​ (45:20)​ This simple word from Pharaoh as king, ought to echo in our ears as spoken by our King. Indeed, it is, in the Sermon on the Mount. If we know we are on our way to inherit the Kingdom of God, how much ought our minds to be at ease regarding the goods we have here. That is not a jab against good stewardship over what God has provided for us in the meantime, but it is a reshaping of the “big picture”. It is a reminder that any and all of what we have in this present life cannot hold a candle to awaits us. To truly set our own hearts free by hearing Jesus to not lay up “treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:20-21) Heavenly Father, grant me such a heart and mind. Make “the best of all the land” so… Read More

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1 Corinthians 13 – The More Excellent Way

Reid A Ferguson 1 Corinthians / 1 Corinthians 13; Romans 8:28–30; Ephesians 4:10–16 It was a great joy for me while away, to be able to tune in to the continuing study in 1 Corinthians on the web. It was fun to hear the different speakers, each with their own gifts opening Chapter 12 with so much continuity. It’s not like we all get together and compare notes ahead. We really trust that as each studies the Word and works through the text, we’ll end up with a shared core of doctrinal truth. That has proved to be the case. In addition, each brings their own flavor or nuance, and that proves to be a practical demonstration of the very passages before us. This is the nature of how spiritual gifts work in the Body of Christ as a whole. It is not an issue of everyone being in lockstep. It is unity without uniformity. This is a precious thing. This is the way of God in all creation. I’m not a scientist nor do I play one on TV, but I’ve been told the entire universe is comprised of the very same atomic and sub-atomic particles each with their properties, but arranged in endless combinations. This was the model when I was in school, before the discovery of even smaller particles like photons, bosons, neutrinos, gluons, and up, down, top, bottom, strange and charm quarks. In studying God’s Word in a team effort like we’ve been doing here, we are all working with and keeping to the same essentials, but arranging them with varying emphases and shades as the truth is refracted through each one. So I want to thank Ed, Daniel and Jim especially for managing Chapter 12 as they did together. They set the stage for this… Read More

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Through the Word in 2020 / Jan. 19

Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 8:1-13; Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 18:25-50, Genesis 41. This, from Matthew 8:1-3 When Jesus says “I will” No pow’r can intervene Even hopeless lepers Are instantly made clean The blind, the deaf, the lame In body, soul and mind In Christ the Son of God The fullest cure do find No remnants of The Fall Abide outside His pow’r Though poisoned by our sin He’ll cure us in His hour When Jesus says “I will” The heart may hope and rest That when we’ve sought Him out He’ll grant us Heaven’s best So seek in Him dear soul The cure for sin’s disease He loves to say “I will” To humble sinner’s pleas When Jesus says “I will” Because His blood was shed The Father joys to raise Foul sinners from the dead Don’t wait a moment more With all your guilty stain Cry out to Christ the Lord He’ll say “I will”, again. — Reid Ferguson / Kuyperian Abnormalist. Dulcius ex Asperis Share this: Like this: Like Loading… Visit ResponsiveReiding

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Through the Word in 2020 / Jan. 18

Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 7:15-29; Acts 10:24-48; Psalm 18:1-24, Genesis 39-40. Choosing which passage to dwell on today is a challenge. Every portion is so very rich. But we must choose, and I would call your attention to some familiar observations out of Acts 10. I find Peter’s discourse at Cornelius’ house so wonderfully organized, complete, clear and accessible, I pray it might be a great reminder to us of both the simplicity of the Gospel, and how wonderfully great swaths of Biblical truth can be condensed into such a brief space. Not my git for sure. Be assuredly Peter’s.  Note then these 10 things out of our text: 1. vss. 34 & 35 / The Gospel is of equal applicability to all. There are no special groups from whom the Gospel is to be withheld. ​Peter ​assures them they have an interest in ​it​.​ Some may think themselves too good to need the Gospel, too wicked to be beneficiaries of it, too religious to be drawn to the simplicity of trust Christ alone etc. But no matter who you are, where you are from or what your circumstances, if you are seeking God (and even if you are not!) the Gospel is for you. ​ 2. vs. 35 / God receives all who set themselves to seek Him. In this, we are brought to be reminded that the Spirit of God is at work in the world. It is true that no one seeks God AS God on their​​ own. Yet all sorts are aware that something is terribly wrong and are seeking for an answer on the level they understand it, and, the Spirit of God is creating in some a true hunger for God and salvation. It is not a product of their own making, but… Read More

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Through the Word in 2020 / Jan. 17

We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/ Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 7:1-14; Acts 10:1-23; Psalm 17, Genesis 37-38. There is a very timely lesson about Bible reading that emerges out of the reading in Acts today. It pops up in Acts 10:17 (ESV) — 17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate. Note first that even the great Apostle Peter, when confronted with this staggering vision – was perplexed about what it might mean. When we are handling the Word of God, we are being met by revelation that God has given to us, and sometimes, we don’t get what it means right off the bat. Don’t feel bad. Don’t be intimidated. It may take some thought, meditation, further study, prayer and consultation with other sources to get to the heart of a passage. You’re in good company. While the main message of the Bible is clear, and the chief facts accessible to most, there are parts and themes and connections that do not lie right on the surface and will require some significant digging to get to. Patient labor will yield rich rewards – but don’t think something is wrong if you have to work for it – we’re dealing with eternal and cosmic truths. In any other field of study, say engineering, mechanics, electronics, sales & marketing, history, mathematics, etc., each has its own unique vocabulary and structure. So does Bible study. Hand in there. You’ll get it. Note secondly how un-modern Peter is. And by his example exposes one… Read More

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Start the Year with Praise

1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen (CSB). At the conclusion of every year, most people conduct at least a casual evaluation of what kind of a year it was for them. Answers range across the whole spectrum from “horribly terrible” to “most excellent”. I can understand the reasons many say, “I’m glad this year is over! I hope the new year will be much better!” My wife and I went through a series of years (2010-2015) that we were glad to see end. Looking back now, I think we can see the hand of God’s blessing on us at all times during those years, even though we suffered. Our Sovereign God was very merciful when it was hard to discern his hand of blessing. And we’re thankful! Regardless of how you and I evaluated the past year, I know how we ought to begin 2020: with joyful praise to the Lord our God! If you had a difficult year, remember to keep the living God in your focus in the new year. If you think last year was great, don’t forget the Father in heaven who has loaded you with benefits. Wherever you are on this spectrum, a godly response will require ongoing repentance and faith. By this I mean that we will need to have our thoughts of the true and living God transformed by his word, and then to trust him each step of the way. It is important to both have our minds renewed (Rm 12:1-2) and to commit ourselves to the Lord. It doesn’t do any good and even is spiritually harmful to say, “I will trust God better this year,” if we have wrong ideas and thoughts about God. For example, can you trust God if… Read More

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Reactions to the Birth of Christ

Matthew 2:1-12 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2 NIV). During this Christmas season, our granddaughter, who is almost three, learned the first stanza of the Christmas hymn “We Three Kings”. I think we all rejoice when young children can use their voices to sing the praises of the King of kings. It is always good to sing praises to the Lord, especially when we sing about one of the important events in the history of redemption. When a child sings, it is interesting to listen carefully to their words, since they usually vary from the actual words of the song. When Elise sings this carol, she says, “We five kings….” We smile at her artistic license in departing from the traditional text. She makes no change to the Biblical texts in the number of kings (actually Magi), since Matthew only refers to them in the plural without counting them. Her devotion to singing to the Great King is an example to us all. So now let us turn our minds to worship and consider four reactions to Christ’s birth. One of the key words in our text is the word “worship”. Let’s look at the people mentioned in the text and see how many of them desired to worship Jesus Christ the Lord. Many people were disturbed (2:1-3). The source of much of this disruption came from King Herod. When an oppressive ruler is stirred up about something, others have reason for concern. King Herod had murdered his wife, three sons, a mother-in-law, a brother-in-law, an… Read More

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Isaiah’s Song: A Christmas Poem

At the behest of my dear wife – a poem for Christmas, 2019 – based upon Isa. 9:6-7. Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV) — 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. For unto us, a child is born In love, from Heaven’s throne was torn From angel’s praise to earthly scorn This child, ‘Tis Christ our Savior Yes unto us, God’s Son is giv’n His feet, His hands, His side be riv’n The piercing nails by hate be driv’n God’s Son, ‘Tis Christ our Savior The government shall rest on Him But first, the weight of human sin He’ll feel the Father’s gaze grow dim This King, ‘Tis Christ our Savior First Wonderful, shall be His name Eternal God, for e’re the same And yet as God in flesh He came ‘Tis Christ our Savior And Counselor His name is too He is the way, the life, the truth God’s highest wisdom, Love’s great proof ‘Tis Christ our Savior His name shall be The Mighty God The Worthy of all praise and laud He rules with God’s own iron rod ‘Tis Christ our Savior The Everlasting Father’s name He’ll wear as His, tho man became To die, and then His throne reclaim ‘Tis Christ our Savior And Prince of Peace His name shall be In reconciling Adam’s seed His blood,… Read More

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Margin notes: Buy yourself a tasty little Christmas Treat!

I love reading my Bible. The joy of finding more and more new connections between the books and the testaments – and the unending discovery of more profound love, mercy and grace in Jesus Christ, and revelations of the wonders of the triune God are a constant source of amazement. And by God’s grace, He has provided us with the gift of those who are able to help us grasp the Bible’s material in ways that help us access key facts and observations more quickly, so as to make our reading more fruitful. One of the tools I have found that fits a unique niche in this way is Keith L. Brooks’ “Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the New Testament.” If you have never stumbled on this gem, I would encourage you to check it out. If you are part of a Bible study, preparing to hear the sermon on the Lord’s Day and know the text ahead, or just as a companion to your daily reading – you will find this a wonderful aid. It can serve both as a primer for a passage before you read, or as a way of reviewing in compact form what you’ve just read for better comprehension and organization. It really is delightful. And for those who might ask, yes, he did it for the Old Testament as well! The book is organized around each chapter of the Bible, and takes no time at all to read for each chapter. Every one is organized exactly as the sample below, with sections labeled: Contents, Characters, Conclusion, Key Word, Strong verses and Striking Facts. It is not meant to replace your own meditation in the Word, but as an aid to help you organize your own thoughts as you consider a passage, and not just… Read More

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FMBRF: Tradition!

Colossians 2:8 (ESV) — 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. The reading in our Friday Morning Bible Reading Fellowship today took us to Matt. 15 and Mark 7. And in those parallel passages, Jesus confronts the Pharisees over their use of tradition. Notice I said “use” of tradition, and not tradition itself. The word tradition simply means that which is passed down or transmitted from one to another. There is nothing wrong with that concept alone. In fact, the Apostle Paul uses it approvingly in 1 Corinthians 11:2 and in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 where he writes: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” So what’s Jesus’problem with tradition? This: “Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9b). And then He expands on some dangers which accompany this practice. But the bottom line is, taking what might be good and well in and of itself, and though it may be neither forbidden in God’s Word nor commanded there – making it binding upon other’s consciences. Most traditions usually have their origin in something good. The Pharisees didn’t just materialize their views on various washings out of thin air. They took them from some Old Testament standards about washing cooking and eating vessels and just expanded on them. But once those expansions became imperatives so that if one did not follow them, then they were considered sinning – things had gone too far. Now, they had put themselves in the place of becoming lawgivers. In the place of God Himself. And that is always dangerous. For only… Read More

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