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Friday, May 20, 2011

Bird nest (photo by Georgia)
My cousin Georgia took this photo of a nest built in the wreath on their front door. She observes "The door is glass, so we could watch the antics of the babies as they grew, but we didn't get to use the front door for a LONG time!"

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"Lack of Knowledge"

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). “'The days are coming,' declares the Sovereign LORD, 'when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD'" (Amos 8:11).

Haddon RobinsonYesterday I went to a preaching seminar and heard Haddon Robinson, who for many years has had an influence on those preparing for ministry and those in ministry, including me. Many of our readers have probably heard him on the Radio Bible Class or have read his devotionals in the "Our Daily Bread" series.

His main focus is teaching preachers (He is a professor of preaching at Gordon Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts) and his first message yesterday concerned five foundational commitments a preacher must make. He made the point that the preacher must have a commitment that the Bible, in its entirety, is the Word of God. 

We live in what has been called the information age and there is certainly no shortage of information available.  In fact, there are many who pursue worthless trivia day after day, but consider the dearth of Bible knowledge in our age. There is indeed a spiritual famine when it comes to hearing and learning the words of the Lord!

Our first daily verse is from the prophet Hosea who served God from about 755-725 BC.  His message was largely rejected, but he remained faithful and obedient to God in spite of some rather unusual commands.  The problem was not for lack of available knowledge but a rejection of truth (note the context if you have opportunity). 

Even the apostate Northern Kingdom under the very wicked Jeroboam 2 had a witness for truth and the knowledge of God through prophets like Hosea.  But they rejected it.  In our day a witness for God and His truth is proclaimed, but by and large this vitally important knowledge is being rejected. Thus we are seeing and will continue to see the consequences of this rejection.

There are those who are ignorant because of a lack of knowledge. They have not yet heard God's message of salvation. Then there are those who are ignorant because they choose to ignore or they have rejected knowledge that is available to them. That is the case with so many here in America and in other places here in the West.  Psalm 53:1 tells us that the fool has reasoned within himself that there is no God.

In my experience most of my knowledge of the Bible has been gleaned from many years of exposure to its truths through personal reading, study, devotionals, sermons, etc. Although I am very thankful for the "formal" education I received, I believe most of what I know was acquired incrementally through the choice to be regularly exposed to God's Word for over nearly 40 years now. We desire that these daily encouragement messages be one of these small incremental notches that God is using in your life to increase your knowledge of His Word.

I call this the exposure principle. Let me illustrate. Our daughter will watch the same movie or listen to the same song over and over and over (and over and over). After a while she can complete the lines to a script or song. Now she never purposefully memorized them but through constant exposure she learned them. This principle is expressed in Hebrews 5, "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."  The words "constant use" in this verse illustrate the exposure principle.

Hymn singing congregationLet me illustrate this exposure principle by using the hymnal. Now there are very few hymns I have ever set out to intentionally memorize, (in fact I am not sure there are any). But because I have regularly sung them through the years I have learned the words to many of them.

Consider the following several hymns and many of you will see that you can finish at least the line, if not the verse or even the entire hymn (with a few prompts) because you have sung it since childhood. Most certainly you can sing the chorus since it is repeated between each verse helping you to memorize it even more than the verses. *

"Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, …"
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, …"
"Great is Thy faithfulness, …"
"Then sings my soul, …"
"Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, ..."
"What a friend we have in Jesus...."

The same is true of God's Word.  Although I have purposefully sought to memorize many verses through the years, much of what I know is through habitual exposure.  Let us daily fill our lives with regular exposure to God's Word followed by application of its truths as we also receive assurance from its promises!  Then we can proclaim with the Psalmist,

"With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
that I might not sin against You."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.  I don't want to be destroyed for lack of knowledge nor do I want to be caught up in sin due to my disobedience to Your commands.  As I read the words of Scripture and hear them expounded upon by faithful expositors I am feasting daily on the spiritual manna (food) provided by You.  Where there is spiritual famine, even among those who believe, we pray for revival where men and women, boys and girls begin to hunger for that which is of eternal worth.  Stir us all into action as we are spurred on by Your directives in Scripture, and Your Spirit that is at work in us.  We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Personal Family Note:  Please remember Ester, our 22 year old daughter, in prayer.  She was admitted to Hershey Medical Center yesterday morning due to her coumadin (blood thinner) shooting through the roof following her blood work. Her numbers should be between 2 to 3 but they are presently over 16.23. There are no outward signs as to where the blood could be pooling (such as large bruises, no bleeding on the brain, etc.) so specialists will be consulted today and we pray for these numbers to decrease!

For all:  Here's an example of the power of exposure to God's Word for longtime students. Some of these verses we have purposefully memorized but in many cases we will know them because we have read them and heard them often.  See how many of these verses you can complete and extra credit if you know the reference!
  • For God so loved...
  • In the beginning...
  • For I know the plans...
  • The Lord is my shepherd...
  • I am the way...
  • But you shall receive power...
  • My God shall supply...
  • For by grace...
  • Enter into His gates...
  • Behold I stand at the door...
  • Behold what manner...
  • For all have sinned...
  • Thou art worthy...
  • Thou shalt have no...

For preachers: Here are the main points to the message yesterday by Haddon Robinson regarding foundational commitments a preacher must make:
1) Commitment that the Bible is the Word of God. It's alive!
Commitment that the entire Bible is the Word of God. Go after the deeper gems.
3) Commitment to the "Thus saith the Lord" view of preaching with authority.  "Let the one who has my word speak it faithfully" (Jeremiah 23:28).
4) Commitment to hard thinking. "Nothing significant will come out of your mouth unless something significant is placed in your head."
5) Commitment to being relevant. "Talking from, not about, the Bible."

* We are concerned that the decrease in singing hymns and use of the hymnal in many churches will change this exposure of knowledge using music as a worshipful medium. Our observation is that many praise and worship songs have a short life cycle, in part due to the desire to sing the newest or most popular song that is current. Christians aren't being exposed to these songs over a long enough period (with rare exceptions). It seems the new song from ten years ago gets a lot of "airplay" and is soon retired or is rarely sung.

Certainly we want to sing that which is written by artists today and we do so in our church for it represents what God is doing in the lives of believers in our time period, but we don't want to forsake songs that have been sung for hundreds of years; the songs that have shaped church history that are filled with rich doctrinal teaching. The continuity of connecting with the saints of all the ages is important and provides intergenerational blessing as the grandchildren relate to the same songs of their grandparents, etc.  Of course, these thoughts open up a "can of worms" for feedback, since there is much to be said about this subject along with many differing views.  But we do ask you to give this some thought and application as God speaks to your heart.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Ancient Words"  Video

"Thy Word"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"How Firm A Foundation"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"The BIBLE, Yes That's The Book For Me"  Video  I found this and it shows Lowell Lundstrom, the evangelist that preached the night I got saved in 1971! This video is very old. I suppose a lot of us remember singing this song when we were kids.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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