Are you getting the most benefit from your hearing, reading, and study of God’s Word? What does Matthew Henry mean when he talks about “profiting from the Bible”? And what might prevent us from doing so?
Also, what did Peter have to say to suffering Christians in the first century that flies in the face of our “don’t-step-on-my-toes-I-have-rights” generation?
Ezekiel 41 & 42
1 Peter 1.1-25
Are You Profiting from the Bible?
Ezekiel 41 & 42:
Profiting from the Bible
In chapter 40, Ezekiel said:
¹ In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the Lord was upon me; and He took me there. 2 In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.
From outside the city, God took him to the outside of the temple and into the courts (Ezek 40.6-49) and then into the temple itself (Ezek. 41).
Matthew Henry in his Complete Commentary on the Bible, says about chapter 41, “After the prophet had observed the courts, he was brought to the temple. If we attend to instructions in the plainer parts of religion, and profit by them, we shall be led further into an acquaintance with the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”
My paraphrase—if we are faithful to learn the basics of the Christian faith, God will take us deeper into the wonders of His Word.
But notice that second sentence in Henry’s comment, “If we attend to instruction … and profit by them …” If we are not applying what we already know, it is unlikely we will grow and understand more!
The writer of Hebrews said it this way:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5.12-14).
I want that solid food and more of it, how about you?
The problem is we’re often blinded to those areas where we’re responding like spiritual babies. That’s why we need godly friends who love us enough to speak truth into our lives and why it’s important to invite God to show us where we need to grow and change.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139.23-24).
Today’s Other Readings:
Living in Unity
This psalm talks about the goodness of brothers and sisters in the body of Christ living together in unity. It’s the Holy Spirit living in and through us who enables us to demonstrate His love and patience for one another.
Ensnared by Sin
“By transgression an evil man is snared …”
How often the sinful pleasures we lust for, believe we deserve and think we should have the freedom to enjoy, end up becoming a trap for us!
1 Peter 1.1-25:
Responding to Trials
John MacArthur in the end notes for his Daily Bible talks about Peter’s reason for writing this epistle. He explained that the believers in the Roman Empire had become Nero’s scapegoats by blaming them for burning Rome. Consequently, they had come under intense persecution. Many were even martyred for the faith.
Throughout this book, God through Peter instructs us as believers about how to respond to mistreatment and persecution … with rejoicing! Verses 6-9:
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
“… for a little while … grieved by various trials … that the genuineness of your faith … more precious than gold … though it is tested … may be found to praise, honor, and glory …”
He didn’t say “I know you are being deprived of your rights, tortured and killed. This is horrible!” Instead, he reminded them that God was using even this difficult trial caused by the lies of a wicked man for their good and His glory!
Rejoice and be thankful for whatever trial you are in right now. God is doing the same in your life and mine!
Whether you’re a newcomer to the study of God’s Word or a veteran, are you being faithful to learn and grow? Have you stopped to contemplate your response to the tests and trials in your life? Do you trust God to use them for your good and His glory? Are you seeking to respond as Christ would?
In the next few days, we’ll talk about how to respond to an unreasonable spouse and when we’re struggling to trust God. We’ll also discuss the question, “Is the Bible enough in a complex world?”
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One of the best teachings I’ve found on responding to tests and trials:
When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald
When life is hard, really hard, we often spend all our time pleading, begging, yelling, refusing, and questioning. While none of these things are necessarily unusual, they are missing the ultimate point. When life is hard, when things get ugly, when all hope seems to be lost… that is when we are able to display the superiority of the life lived in God. It is in those moments of despair when we question what is happening when we don’t know what to do when some trials never seem to end, that we can lean most heavily on God’s promises and truths.
Working his way through five questions we’ve all had run through our heads, trusted pastor James MacDonald helps us understand what we should do now. We begin the journey by looking at different types of “trials”, figuring out exactly what we’re dealing with, and recognizing that God certainly knows. Second, the obvious question: “Why?” God sees us going through trials and we long for two things: for them to be over and to know why they happened in the first place. Next, we need to know what to do with these trials when they come (and they will most certainly come). Fourth, we have all wondered it, can trials be refused? Are God’s purposes really being fulfilled in the midst of this trying time? And lastly, God reveals Himself to us through these trials. . . and sometimes, they just don’t ever end. Why doesn’t this trial go away?
God told us to expect trials. So, don’t be surprised when they come. Grow when they come. Find hope when they come.
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Getting ready for 2018
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.