Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

ISAIAH 1-24 REVIEW December 30, 2008

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Reading through the Bible systematically could be one of the most rewarding new year’s resolutions you make.  It has certainly been helpful to me.  For one thing, it confirmed for me the reformed Doctrines of Grace.  They really became “true for me” as well as “true” as I saw them every where I read.  My advice:  find a system and try to adapt it to what you’re living through right now.  Don’t make it a RULE, but try to be disciplined.  For more than ten years, I used M’Cheyne’s Calendar  from

 

Catching Your Balance December 23, 2008

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Let me introduce…Roy Hargrave.
Our cultural pressures this time of year can really take a spiritual toll. I just can’t seem to get those cards and pictures done!  And I really am bad at bows, papers, and ribbons, not to mention decorating cookies!!  But, I keep trying….

Cultural pressures should not be about “measuring up.” It is not even about feeling burdened or guilty. It is all about spiritual balance. Maintaining yours. It is achieving that balance between your responsibilities and God’s work in your life.

For example, we all should want to send our children into life equipped with useful life and Bible tools while looking to Jesus Christ as their only hope for righteousness and forgiveness. Yet, you can not even make him thirsty for the living God. You can attempt to put Bible skills in his hand. That’s about all.  Even that can become an overwhelming task in our culture and during this time of year. Any of this can cause you to slip.

If you start to turn examples of the “best” way to live the Christian life or to raise your kids (or celebrate Christmas) into a rule of life, breathe deeply, stretch, and meditate on how you have been favored with the Holy Spirit to guide you in these times and in this culture. That is the balance process. You do not have to be Abigail Adams, or Martha Washington, or Mary Lee or anyone else.   Rely on Jesus’s words,

‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said,

out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But

this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those

believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was

not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:38-39).


He has been given now.  To get back in balance, look to your own heart. Refresh your memory of the Ten Commandments in both outward acts and inward attitudes. Perhaps you need to look at the Shorter Catechism or Thomas Watson’s Ten Commandments or Roy Hargrave on the web (www.graceworx.com).

Wholeheartedly turn from the sins you see there and embrace your Savior’s own righteousness, knowing His perfect obedience has made you acceptable to God. Remember the ministry of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ and to enlighten the mind–even your teen’s. Then, rely on His grace anew for this overwhelming task of sticking by a teenager as they build their own spiritual house.

“HOPE IN GOD, FOR I SHALL YET PRAISE HIM FOR THE HELP OF HIS COUNTENANCE.”

True Christian balance is all about the help it gives us to really experience God shining His face upon us, giving grace and power..favor..the warmth of His presence.  No matter our cultural pressures.

It really doesn’t matter if my bows don’t turn out right.

 

PONDERING INSTEAD OF TELLING December 12, 2008

Mary had a lot to think about. She had spiritual experiences far deeper than most of us have had. Angels talking and singing. Wise men bringing valuable gifts. Prophecies made in the temple at the dedication of her baby. And she could have chosen to talk about them to everyone–exalting herself to a pinnacle of spiritual authority. She wisely chose to be quiet. It worked out for her own humility and for the good of those who might set her in a place she should not be.

John Newton, (one of my favorite dead preachers), warned us to be cautious in speaking of our spiritual experiences for the good of others and our own temptation to pride.

“…I would observe in general that there is a wisdom and caution to be used in speaking of our experiences–perhaps not all things, nor to all persons. We should endeavour to suit what we tell them of ourselves to what we judge is their state and attainment, lest we discourage when we would comfort and offend when we would instruct” (Mary Lynn Rouse, 365 Days with Newton, (Day One Publications, England), 10 December).

He adds, in the same sermon preached in 1770,

“It is right and our duty to declare upon proper occasions and within the bounds of prudence what God has done for our souls, but if he is pleased to lead us in an extraordinary way and to favour us with peculiar comforts, it is not always easy to preserve a right spirit where self is closely concerned.”

Sometimes it is just better to think about things, to be quiet.

Mary pondered all these things in her heart….What are you holding close?

 

Immanuel: Isaiah 7 December 10, 2008

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Mary was told by Gabriel she was blessed and highly favored. She wondered about that greeting.

“Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

He was telling her that her son would be the promised Savior and would be King forever. Notice she did not comment upon all that, but instead, asked how she could become pregnant:

“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Mary was a virgin. She had never had a sexual relationship with anyone. Not even with Joseph with whom she had made known a serious intent to marry. So how could she have a son, any son, much less the “promised one?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1: 30-35)

As myterious as this sounded, Mary evidently believed it. We’re not told if she knew when it happened, but by the time, she arrived to visit her relative, Elizabeth, she was pregnant. Her sexual purity was a big thing–the virgin birth of Jesus was a mark, a sign, of his being the promised Savior.

Isaiah’s prediction, in Isaiah 7:14, that a virgin would have a baby and would call him “God With Us”–Immanuel–had been a matter of debate and interpretation for 700 years. Now, in Matthew 1:23, the apostle applies that prophecy to Mary and Jesus specifically. This was the sign that set Jesus apart from all the rest: He was the child of a virgin, born like the rest of us. He was God With Us just as Isaiah had predicted.

It is so important to keep this all in your mind as you read about the judgments in Isaiah, and the Judgment Day to come so that you get the right picture of God. His judgment is real, but His compassion shines through in providing a Savior.

Mary pondered all these things–she kept them in her heart.