Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Scripture (page 2 of 5)

Eight Reasons to Study the Bible

Most Christians inherently feel the need / desire / drive to study the Bible, but a lot of times we’re not too sure why. And sadly, not too many of us stop to think biblically about why we should study the Bible.

So, from the Bible itself, here are seven great reasons, plus one ultimate reason why we should all be quick to study the Bible.

1. We must study the Bible to grow in faith

Rom 10  17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

2. We must study the Bible to grow in joy

Ps 19  8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;  …  10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

3. We must study the Bible to grow in righteousness / good works

2Tim 3  16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

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A Cottage Meditation on Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God

Being at the cottage is good for me. I have found that usually I’m able to meet with God pretty quickly when I feel close to his creation.

This week has been special for me. It is the first time that I’ve been at the cottage and studying for a sermon at the same time. I’ve been able to enjoy God in creation and delight in him in his word. The comparison is worth thinking about.

I think sometimes we treat nature like the place we need to go to be near God. For example, when was the last time you saw a Christian retreat centre in an urban setting? And it’s not hard to see why. God is very present in the beauty and serenity of the water, the clouds, the open skies, the sunsets, the hills, and the beautiful vegetation. God is here.

Psalm 19 reminds us that ‘the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies above proclaim his handiwork.’ That’s true. In nature we see God. But we often stop reading (or at least remembering) the psalm there, even though it definitely doesn’t end there.

The second half of Psalm 19 goes on to recount just how amazing the revelation of God is in his Bible, over and above the revelation of God in creation. And David, who knew what it was to be ‘out in nature’, was writing that before most of your Bible was written.

From verses 7-11 the specific wonders of the Bible are made known:

  • It revives the soul
  • It makes wise the simple
  • It rejoices the heart
  • It enlightens the eyes
  • It endures forever
  • It is righteous altogether
  • It is more to be desired than sweet things or expensive things
  • It warns
  • It rewards

No glimpse of nature can cause me to discern my errors. No beautiful sunset can declare me innocent or keep me back from sin. No mountaintop experience could ever make my words and thoughts acceptable in the sight of God. Only God will do those things, as I meet with him in the Bible.

I’ve experienced that this week. God is good. I’ve met with him and enjoyed him in creation, but his word is better. It alone gives the pure joy of the knowledge of God. The place I need to go to meet with him is not some remote vacation spot, it is the book he has given me.

Am I thankful for sunsets? You bet! Am I more thankful for the word than ever before? Absolutely.

The Mind-Blowing, Soul-Saving Bible

Greek New Testament

Sometimes people train for a career for years only to get into it and discover it’s not what they want to do. The job which once looked so appealing has turned out to be something different; something not worth the pursuit.

Thankfully, I can say that I’ve never once felt that about pastoral ministry.

Every single week my calling is confirmed by this single fact: I have the privilege of studying the Bible in-depth. Every week I study it. Every week it blows my mind. It never gets old. It is never exhausted.

Paul wrote of the Scriptures:

from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3.15-17)

That means that the Scriptures (1) contain the necessary wisdom for your soul to be saved, and, (2) contain all that is necessary for Christians to live the lives that God calls them to. Scriptures show us how to be saved, and how to live as one who is saved. All-sufficient. We need nothing else.

I’ve sometimes met Christians who are newer to the faith, who talk about how amazing the Bible is as they are discovering it in all its richness. I smile and think to myself, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’ The Bible is an inexhaustible mine of all the riches and treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Search deep, search hard, search long, search in faith and it is certain you will find him on every page.

Sometimes I sit in my office and wonder how in the world it could possibly be that God has blessed me, of all people, with the profound pleasure and duty of studying this glorious book. Since planting GFC Don Mills nothing has impressed me more than the majesty of God’s wisdom and and the magnitude of his grace as I have seen them in the Bible. I feel that I am just beginning to taste the wondrous delights that the Psalmist wrote of in Psalm 119.

In this book, like nowhere else, do we see the over-arching purposes of God for creation, the exacting demands of his justice, the longsuffering nature of his patience and mercy, the unimaginable love of a Father willingly crushing his Son, his passion for the sanctification of his people, and the indescribable holiness that undergirds every thought, word, and action of God. Here is other-worldly wisdom on display in the unfolding narrative of the history of created, fallen, and finally redeemed humanity. Here is sovereignty and power like we could not imagine in the servant who shows his strength in his suffering. Here is our God.

Of course, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that God’s words amaze us. The first thing our God does in history is speak words. And when he sends his Son into the world as his most perfect revelation, he is known as the Word of God. So of course, the words which are breathed-out by the Spirit of God to testify to the revelation of the Father in the Son will be compelling like nothing else ever written. And that’s exactly what this book is.

I wish I had spent more of my first 30 years studying this book. If God grants me more years of life, I pray they will all be spent tenaciously pursuing him where he may be found: in this book.

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** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

Reading Leviticus

If you’re on my Bible reading plan (there are at least two of you that I know of :)) or any other similar plan, there’s a good chance you’re finding yourself smack-dab in the middle of Leviticus right now. That’s not an easy place to be.

For most Christians, the new year’s zeal and the intruiging narrative which kept us on schedule through Genesis and the first half of Exodus has lost its power. Somewhere around Exodus 25, when Moses was receiving the instructions for the building of the tabernacle, it became tough-sledding. 

Do we really need to read it all? What difference do all these laws make to us now? Was it really a temptation for them to boil a young goat in its mother’s milk? Why did God inspire this? These are all questions that plague us as many of us find it hard to make it through this section of Scripture.

Here are three things I’ve found helpful for getting through:

  1. Buy an ESV Study Bible. This is going to sound funny, but it’s not intended to be: There are pictures in this Bible. It seriously helps. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. I feel like I understand the layout of the tabernacle better now than after any other time making it through Exodus. 
  2. Look for Patterns. When going through a book like Leviticus, it is easy to get caught up in the details and miss the big point. For example, did you notice any recurring phrases as you read through the last 3/4 of Leviticus? From chapter 11 on the phrase ‘I am the Lord’ is repeated 49 times. That’s significant. You’ll want to read the book noticing those kinds of patterns and asking, ‘Why is this said so many times?’ That will help you understand the book as a whole.
  3. Read it as Literature. While there are so many lists of laws, they are not randomly strewn together. There are particular narrative incidents given in between particular laws and commands. Why? What’s the point in putting that particular story right where it is, after that particular event? Those are the types of questions that will help you benefit from Leviticus, because they’ll keep you focused on big picture issues, rather than particular case laws.

And don’t give up! Keep on going! Every single word that is there is God-breathed, and it is all useful. The soul who perseveres will be blessed!

Bible Reading Plan for 2009

Pretty much any Christian who has lived for a little while as a Christian can look back at their lives and recognize that the seasons of life when they’ve known the most blessing are those seasons when they’ve been most faithful to read through the Bible. That’s certainly been the case for me!

You look at life through an altogether different set of eyes when your mind is being renewed and transformed by the word of God.

I was somehwhat surprised to find out this past week that some of my friends were still looking for a suitable Bible reading plan for 2009. I was happy to print off for them my plan, when they asked. Since there were more than one or two interested, I thought that it might be helpful to some others, so I’m going to post it here. 

There are two versions, one for reading through the Bible on your own, and one for reading through the Bible with your spouse.

While there are certainly myriads of Bible reading plans out there, I’ve found this one pretty helpful. Here are some of the features of it.

  • You will find that you are reading through the OT on your own, and the NT together (if you do the couples plan)
  • OT prophets are placed in (roughly) where they would have ministered chronologically. This helps break up the monotony of reading through huge chunks of narrative and prophets, by intermixing the two. It also helps you realize the context for the prophets. 
  • The NT is organized into bodies of literature. Beginning with Luke-Acts, you read through material written for Gentile audiences. Then you read Matthew and the other books written particularly for Jews. Next there is Mark and Peter, and finally, the Johannine body of literature. 

Overall, the variety and structure helps to ‘change things up’ enough that it doesn’t feel like every other time you’ve tried to read through the Bible.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions / comments / suggestions for improving the plan for next year!

Preaching the Word and People’s Needs

This semester I was able to take Homiletics 2 at TBS. I have much to learn and much room to grow in the realm of preaching, so I was happy to take this course.

One of the great conversations we had in class this year was on the topic of the need to be preaching the Word of God rather than opinions or topics that may or may not relate to the revealed truth of the Word.

Over the course of the conversation, Dr Penhearow pointed out this pastoral bit of wisdom that I’ve thought about much ever since:

The needs of the congregation may in fact be different than even they think.

The point is this: Only God the Spirit, who searches hearts, knows our needs. Sometimes in the midst of our problems we think we know what we need; in reality, however, only God knows. If we, as pastors, try to interpret people’s lives so as to determine what they ‘need’ to hear, we’ll get it wrong.

If we can’t discern the needs of our own heart, how can we hope to do just that for the congregation we don’t know as well as ourselves?

If, however, we preach the God-inspired Word, then God will be faithful to address his people’s needs. He knows them already and he has given the Word precisely to meet those needs. When we preach the Word of God, the Spirit of God will accomplish all the purposes of God in the people of God. 

As preachers, all we need to do is ‘eat the scroll.’ God will apply according to his grace and the needs of his people. There is no promise in Scripture that God will work through my thoughts according to his will; there are plenty of promises in Scripture that God will work through his Word. 

That’s our hope as preachers–that God would work, because only he sees true needs.

Delight and the Word of God

Warning: If you look down at the text below, you may see sheer volume and be tempted to not bother reading this post. The point of blogs is to appeal to people with short attention spans–this I know. But, let me urge you to read on through the end of this post.

Any post I would write that’s this long probably isn’t worth your time. But this is merely a collection of verses from Psalm 119. These are words that God himself has spoken; they are worth your time.

In thinking about delight this week, I came to read Psalm 119, and was amazed by what I saw. 

Have you ever considered the relationship between the Word of God (your Bible) and delight? David did. At length.

Read the verses below and watch how his affections (his emotions, his passions) are stirred by the Scriptures. Does this reflect your heart? I know I’ve got a long way to go. But man, was this a blessing to think about!

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Ps 119 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.

Ps 119  16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Ps 119  20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.

Ps 119  24 Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.

Ps 119  35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.

Ps 119  40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Ps 119  43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.

Ps 119  46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame,  47 for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.  48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.

Ps 119  49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.  50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Ps 119  52 When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.

Ps 119  69 The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;  70 their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.  71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.  72 The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Ps 119  74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.

Ps 119  81 My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.  82 My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”

Ps 119  92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.  93 I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Ps 119  97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

Ps 119  103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Ps 119  111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.

Ps 119  113 I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.  114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.

Ps 119  119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies.

Ps 119  123 My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.

Ps 119  127 Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.

Ps 119  131 I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.

Ps 119  136 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

Ps 119  139 My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.  140 Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.

Ps 119  143 Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.

Ps 119  147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.  148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.

Ps 119  158 I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.

Ps 119  161 Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words.  162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.  163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.

Ps 119  165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.  166 I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments.  167 My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly.

Ps 119  171 My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.  172 My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.

Ps 119  174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.

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