Christianity 201

August 18, 2020

A Famine of God’s Word | Lordship of Christ | God Owns it All

As we did one year ago, today we are presenting a trio of shorter devotionals for you from The Bare Soul Daily Devotional by Rick Roeber (aka The Barefoot Runner). Rick’s story is one of defeating addiction and he has been a guest on The 700 Club.

Spiritual Famine

Amos 8:11 – “’Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘When I will send a famine on the land. Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.'”

As it was in Amos’ day, so it is now. The context of the eighth chapter of Amos is one of great apostasy. The Nation of Israel had substituted greed for charity. They no longer sought the welfare of others, only what they could selfishly obtain. Therefore, the Lord told them He would send a famine of God’s word upon the land. No longer would there be dream or vision to instruct the nation in their wickedness. The silence of God would be their eventual downfall.

Today, we have silenced God by replacing Him with our selfish pursuits. Far be it from us to miss a weekend at the lake rather than serving God in our local church! Or, how about that weekly prayer meeting God has been prompting us for weeks to attend? The world is sleeping in the dark as the church sleeps and relaxes in God’s light. However, there is coming a day of reckoning when God will hold us accountable for how we have used our time. Beloved, the days are evil. Let us make the most of each day by including God in our plans. For a day is coming soon when our lives will be laid bare before His throne where we will all give an account.

Jesus’ Lordship

Psalm 16:2 – “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.’”

When we come to the place of David, confessing Christ’s Lordship and really believing it, then great things begin to happen. We recognize how His righteousness is the only thing that can ever be “good” in our lives. Religion is replaced by relationship and romance toward the Lover of our souls. Like David, our hearts will rise in praise and thanksgiving when we truly recognize He is Lord and Master of our surrendered hearts.

The Savior tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that many will say “Lord, Lord” on that final day. Jesus further explains how He will disown those who have practiced lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23). Christ is not talking necessarily about just the Ten Commandments. He is speaking about a love for living the character of God which is embodied in the law. The law of liberty has set us free from the bondage of the law, beloved (James 1:25). Jesus is truly our Lord when we instinctively live His commandments. This is true freedom that demonstrates itself in love for God and mankind.

God’s Ownership

Job 41:11 – “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.”

God Almighty, the one and true God, has never sought repayment for sending His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to die for the sin of mankind. This is what makes Him unique among all other religions. Every other belief in God, other than Christianity, demands repayment of some kind. These faiths conclude that we must be like God, so therefore we must work to attain to His character. Or, that we strive to recompense Him in some way for all of His benefits toward us.

Truly, the only thing we can give back to God is ourselves, which He already owns. One of the truest expressions of this is giving Him our time in worship. Devotion takes on many forms, but it should never be looked at as something that makes God like or love us more. It is impossible for Him to love us more than He already does, which is infinitely. All we can truly do as believers is accept His great gift and say thank you. When we expend time in this manner, we acknowledge we can do nothing further in the grand plan of redemption.

June 11, 2015

The Word in Song

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Col 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

While I also love the hymns, I am grateful for the new songs that God has birthed in the present generation of worship leaders. It was through the “choruses” that most of our churches started using in the 1980s that I committed a lot of scripture to memory, as well as through the music of the early Jesus Music pioneers such as Andrae Crouch.

But lately I haven’t been finding as many songs that have resonated with me as strongly (see the sidebar at right for some we’ve used here) and haven’t been posting as many with the devotions.

I once asked my kids, after a particularly long devotional time, if they could tell when it was the author speaking, and when it was a scripture quotation. They claimed they could. I think it’s a reasonable response, the scriptures speak with a greater authority. (Maybe there was something in my voice that would read them differently, too; I don’t know.)

This is probably true of worship songs as well. There is a greater authority when the lyrics draw directly from scripture (or parallel a scripture narrative as in this example). Plus, we gain a vehicle which makes memorization easier. The Scripture In Song movement, which originated in New Zealand, was a great example of this, and back in the day hundreds of songs copied that format.

(I think that modern worship music is suffering from a bit of lethargy right now, which is why we’re seeing so much lyrical borrowing from classic hymns, but we’ll save that for another time. They’re also being forced to survive commercially producing material that gets airplay on Christian radio.)

Today we crave teaching, sermons, books, podcasts, etc., but earlier generations of Christians didn’t have all these things; they simply craved the word. The imagery in Ezekiel 3 is a little hard to swallow (bad pun, as you’ll see) but we’re told,

2So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. 4Then He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.…”

One of Eugene Peterson’s titles is Eat This Book, and the picture of letting the Word fill us and nourish us and sustain us is something that should challenge us.

I wrote a few months ago how I struggle with this, how I need those sermons and podcasts to shove me off the dock into the water of God’s Word (see the indented section next to the picture). Those things are good, but only if they land somewhere connected to the Biblical texts.

If they only propel you into further consideration of some man’s ideas or agenda, they aren’t accomplishing anything; you would do best to immerse yourself in the text itself; to go to the source.


 

Read more: In a very short C201 post, I explored the four benefits that scripture promises us.