God Doesn’t Help Those Who Help Themselves

Today I’m sharing from Core Christianity

God Doesn’t Help Those
Help Themselves

By Michael Horton

According to a Barna survey, 87 percent of today’s Evangelical Christians (the heirs of the Reformation) affirm that medieval Roman Catholic conviction, that “God helps those who help themselves.” Two-thirds of the Evangelical Christians in America said that we all pray to the same God whether we’re Buddhists, Muslims, Jews or Christians.

Through the middle ages, Christianity became entangled with the vines of superstition, ignorance and spiritual lethargy that same thing we see all around us today. When Luther uncovered the theological scandal, the fragile Roman scaffolding began to creak. The essentials of the Reformation were doctrinal. It was part of the Renaissance to call for a return to the original sources, so it made sense that Christian scholars returned not only to the great classics of Western civilization and to the early fathers, but to the biblical text itself.

The Reformation was the greatest back to the Bible movement in the history of the church since the death of the apostles. But they went back to the Bible not simply as an end in itself, but in order to recover the essential truths that the Bible proclaimed and that the church had either forgotten or actually rejected. Those essentials were Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone and to God alone be the glory.

Why is the Reformation needed today?

What was so special about the Reformation in the first place that makes a second one so worthwhile? 

Well, do you believe that the Reformation got these doctrines out of balance with other doctrines as the Roman church believed? Or do you believe that the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone to the glory of God alone and that this is the Bible’s central message from Genesis to Revelation?

If it’s the Bible’s central message, then it must be essential for us as it was for the Reformation in the 16th century. The problem we’re facing as a church today is that our situation is even worse than it was for the medieval church. Now just look at each of those slogans in the light of today’s realities, first of all the so-called evangelical, Bible-believing Christians in America are supposedly the spiritual heirs of the Protestant Reformation, and yet according to their responses to recent surveys, their views are actually much closer to those of medieval people before the Reformation.

The battle cry, “Scripture alone,” is rarely heard even in these conservative Protestant churches today as pop psychology, marketing, and management principles, pragmatism, consumerism, sociological data and political crusades tend to have the greatest authority and weight in the churches. Christ alone is challenged by the voices of those who are following our culture of religious pluralism insist that Jesus is the best, but not the only way to the Father. In fact, two-thirds of the Evangelical Christians in America said that we all pray to the same God whether we’re Buddhists, Muslims, Jews or Christians, two-thirds. Grace alone has fallen prey once more to the moralism and self-confidence of the human heart.

Read the rest here.

A (Not So) Revolutionary Strategy for Great Quiet Times

Sharing today from The Gospel Coalition.

A (Not So) Revolutionary Strategy for
Great Quiet Times

By Heather Pace

Bible reading and prayer are undeniable staples in the Christian diet. Yet as universal as the daily “quiet time” is, it’s interesting to note how few people feel successful in the endeavor.

Just ask a room full of Christians how many minutes they spent in concentrated prayer last week—and listen to the room fall silent. Ask how engaged they were in Bible reading, Bible memorization, or any type of Bible study—and prepare to hear the crickets chirp.

So many Christians live with the nagging feeling that time with God doesn’t hold the priority it should in their lives. They want to make progress, but they just can’t seem to master the art of quality quiet times. Worse, many start to think of their quiet time as the enemy they can’t conquer, instead of the life-giving friend it is.

Real Struggle

Why are quiet times such war? Perhaps it’s because of unrealistic expectations or lack of diligence. Maybe it’s because the quiet times others post on social media make ours look subpar.

Or what if we’re making the whole thing more complicated than it needs to be?

Angst about quiet times is often connected to barely having them. Imagine how successful you’d feel if you spent a little time in God’s Word and prayer every day for the next year. What if you didn’t let the busyness of life undermine your time at Jesus’s feet (Luke 10:38–42)? Without even speaking of “quality time,” a legitimate quantity would make a massive difference.

Besides, merely “checking the box” quickly moves beyond that motivation. God’s Word is so good, and prayer is so profitable that if we just commit to these practices, results will follow. A momentum will develop. Faithfulness will lead not only to built-in routine, but also to life-changing habit.

Here are three reasons why mere faithfulness works.

1. God’s Word Will Change You

The Bible has a way of convicting our hearts, correcting our thoughts, awakening our spirits, and changing our lives (Heb. 4:12). Psalm 19 says God’s Word revives our soul, brings wisdom, rejoices our heart, enlightens our eyes, and, of course, keeps us from sin (Ps. 19:7–11).

Read the rest here.

Paying Attention to the Bible’s Important Messages

Sharing today from Bible Engager’s Blog

Paying Attention to the Bible’s Important Messages

How to identify qualifiers that give you pause
June 25th, 2018
MAnn-Margret Hovsepian

BIBLE ENGAGER’S BLOG

“To be honest with you…” 
“To tell you the truth…”
“As a matter of fact…” 
“Honestly…” 
“To be frank…” 

How often have you heard or uttered these words, or some similar phrase? Have you ever wondered why anyone would preface a statement with such a qualifier? After all, shouldn’t we always tell the truth? If you use one of these expressions in a given situation, does that mean you are dishonest the rest of the time?

While starting a sentence with “to be honest” may be a red flag in some situations—or simply a bad habit—there may be times when the speaker is trying to break the ice, command attention, or give the listener a heads-up that something direct or potentially unpleasant is about to be said. It can be a way of saying, “I’m about to say something important” or “listen up!”

Notice Important Qualifiers

Have you ever noticed that similar qualifiers appear in the Bible? Depending on which version you study, you will find phrases such as:

“Truly I tell you…” 
“I say to you very seriously…” 
“For I assure you…”
“I can guarantee this truth…”
“What I’m about to tell you is true…”

Zooming in on teachings prefaced by these qualifiers will help you get more out of your Bible reading. These markers help us identify truths that are vital to our understanding of God’s will for us and to our Christian growth. Like road signs that caution us to slow down or tell us where to turn, these clues in Scripture make Bible reading more than just an item to cross off our to-do lists.

Try Starting with Paul

Here’s a good place to start. In his letters to Timothy and Titus, the apostle Paul started or concluded five statements with “This is a true saying…” He was not implying that everything else he’d written was untrue, but he clearly wanted his readers to pay special attention to these teachings.

Let’s look at the five sayings Paul highlighted for his protégées:

Read the rest here.

What the Word of God Says About the Word of God, Book by Book

I love the way this great article from For the Church lays out the Bible, book by book, in an easy-to-read format.

What the Word of God Says
About the Word of God,
Book by Book

by Jared C. Wilson

What God says about his word is a deep, complex, and staggering thing. And each book of the written word testifies to the wonder of his revelation. I decided to take a look, book by book, selecting a representative passage from each to highlight many of the things God’s word says about God’s words.

The word of God is . . .

Effectual

Genesis 1:3 – And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Personal

Exodus 6:2 – God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord.”

Authoritative

Leviticus 20:22 – You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.

Exclusive

Numbers 15:31 – Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.

Necessary

Deuteronomy 8:3 – And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Rewarding

Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate 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 good success.

Singable(!)

Judges 5:11 – To the sound of musicians at the watering places,
    there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the Lord,
    the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel.

Redemptive

Ruth 4:14-15 – Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

Decisive

1 Samuel 15:23 – Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has also rejected you from being king.

Infallible

2 Samuel 22:31 – This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Read the rest here.

Why I Believe the Bible Is the Word of God

This is a wonderful article by Billy Graham that was featured in the September 2017 issue of Decision Magazine.

Billy Graham writes: “The Bible was written by 40 writers, over a period of 1,600 years, in 66 books. And the great theme from one end of the Bible to the other is redemption.”

Why I Believe the Bible
Is the Word of God

By Billy Graham

In the fourth chapter of Hebrews, verse 12, it says: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

It is the world’s best-seller. Yet this book, for the past 200 years, has been under increased attack. Many people, even within the church, have come to doubt whether the Bible is authoritative and trustworthy. When you talk about the Bible, someone will allege “Bibliolatry.” In other words, worshiping the Bible and not the Christ of the Bible. No, this is not Bibliolatry; the only knowledge we have of Jesus Christ is in the Bible.

Today there’s a growing movement to do away with the Bible. And if this movement succeeds, anarchy will rule. This generation must face the appalling fact that it’s either the Bible, or back to the jungles, because that’s exactly what will happen.

Today there’s a growing movement to do away with the Bible. And if this movement succeeds, anarchy will rule. This generation must face the appalling fact that it’s either the Bible, or back to the jungles, because that’s exactly what will happen.

Now the Bible teaches that God loves. All over the world men hunger to know God. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, all the religions of the world, arise from man’s searching for God. But God has already revealed Himself, and it’s reasonable for me to suppose that God, an intelligent Being, would somehow reveal Himself to us as a human race. Even our most atheistic scientists are beginning to say that something is behind the universe. There is some sort of order behind the universe and there must be some sort of intelligence. They may not say it’s God, but we call Him God. This Intelligence Who orders, and arranges, and creates, and makes us—down in our hearts we hunger to know Him.

Has God revealed Himself?

Read the rest here.

Memorizing Scripture: How to Make God’s Word Part of You

Sharing today from the Bible Engager’s Blog.

Memorizing Scripture: 
How to Make God’s Word Part of You

5 stages of internalizing the Bible 
By Peter Edman

BIBLE ENGAGER’S BLOG

Memorization has been on my mind and on my task list recently—including preparing a list of the top ten Bible passages everyone should memorize. One candidate for that top-ten list of memory verses is Paul’s reminder in Philippians 4:8 to “fill your mind with those things that are good.” We know that’s the point of memorization. We’re giving our minds something to chew on, and we’re giving God opportunities for God’s Word to come alive in us.

God’s Word Deep Inside You

Recently, I read the modern classic Hearing God, by Dallas Willard. One line particularly struck me: “It is better in one year to have ten good verses transferred into the substance of our lives than to have every word of the Bible flash before our eyes… We read to open ourselves to the Spirit.”

Now I am certainly not encouraging you to give up your daily Bible reading, and if you’re reading through the Bible this year, please keep going. But there is importance in not only reading, but also getting the Bible deep into you. Memorizing and meditating on Scripture is a great way to do this. You can make strides at both memorization and meditation if you copy out passages of Scripture by hand. The time you take gives you space to meditate on the words and reflect on their meaning, and the physical activity of writing seems to help your brain capture and make that content part of who you are. 

Read the rest here.

12 Biblical Facts about Daniel

From Overview Bible.

12 Biblical Facts about Daniel

By Jeffrey Kranz

Everyone knows Daniel was thrown into a lions’ den and went on some kind of fast. But there’s a lot more to this character than the Sunday school lessons let on!

Few Bible characters have the kind of status that Daniel does. He’s a righteous and wise hero of the Old Testament whose decisions save the lives of many.

You really ought to dig into Daniel with a Bible study and commentary to learn about this character for yourself, but for starters, here’s 12 biblical facts about Daniel that don’t get a lot of screen time in church. (And I may have used my favorite Bible software to make this list.)

1. Daniel is from David’s royal family

For hundreds of years, a descendant of David had been on the throne in Jerusalem—well, besides one imposter queen (2 Ki 11:1–3). In 605 B.C., the dynasty was in its twilight years. Nebuchadnezzar successfully besieges Jerusalem and carries off some of the treasure from the temple of God to Babylon.

Read the rest here.