Sunday, January 29, 2017

Highlights 1.29.2017

Hebrews 4:14 - 16 (HCSB)

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Highlights 1.26.2017

Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Psalm 117

Praise the Lord, all nations!
     Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
     and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Highlights 1.25.2017

Matthew 20:25-28

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Psalms 119:176

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.

Matthew 18:10-14

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Highlights 1.24.2017

Matthew 13:44 

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

Psalm 119:162 

I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.

Matthew 19:23-30

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, x“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,2 when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold3 and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Heads Up: Bible Sale

If you are in the market for a nice new Bible, Westminster Bookstore has a 70% off sale for the "open box" premium Bibles.

See the advert below. If supplies are already out and you haven't already, sign up for their email list. They frequently have great sales on good books and Bibles.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Highlights 1.23.2017

Matthew 18:1-6

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Psalm 119:160

The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Family Worship: Selecting a Text

Let's say that you want to begin leading your family in consistent worship in the home. You recognize your responsibility to be the spiritual leader in the home. You want your children to know the Lord and His Word. You feel like church once a week is not a sufficient spiritual diet for your family. You are convinced that family worship should be a priority. Now what? Where do you begin? 

Perhaps you go online. You go to Amazon or and search something like "family devotions". What will you find? Options, hundreds of options, too many options. You also have to consider if this is from a reliable source. Is this a writer that you can trust and how much is this going to benefit your family? Is this just a collection of sentimental stories or will it actually help your family understand God's Word? 

I won't say there is necessarily anything wrong with using devotional materials written by others. But I will say that the best way to bring your children closer to the Lord and His Word, is to simply read them His Word. Read it to them. Read it aloud. Let them hear God speak. Why do I say this? Because as the Second Helvetic Confession states so clearly, "For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures" (emphasis mine). This is simply a doctrinal conviction borne out of submission to Scripture. How does the Bible describe it's own effectiveness? 

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Bible teaches. The Bible reproves and corrects. The Bible trains in righteousness. All the things you want to see happen in the life of your family are found in the Book. Take it up and read. 

This still leaves the question of what to read. You don't want to do the proverbial flip and dip where you let the Bible fall open where it may and read a couple of verses. How can you best serve your family through the reading of God's Word as a part of family worship? Here are five tips for selecting a text for family worship.

  1. Pick a translation that works for your family. Don't restrict your family to one translation necessarily. You may have a preferred translation for reading and study. Or maybe your church has a common translation for their pew Bible. Those are good, but pick something that is good for your family. If your children are older, go for a more literal translation like the ESV or NASB. If they are a little younger go for something like the NIV, NET, or HCSB. These are all good translations. Pick one that is good for your family. That said, set the bar high. Don't read them a children's Bible which is a paraphrase. Read them the actual words of God. They pick up more than you might think. 
  2. Start with narrative and work up to didactic. With kids it is good to spend the majority of your reading time in a narrative text. Pick something that tells a story. Something that has characters, a plot line, tension, and resolution. Go back to the beginning with the book of Genesis. Recount the great working of the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles. Or maybe take a desert tour in the book of Exodus. Start with narrative and you will hold your family's attention as they listen to the greatest story ever told; the story of God's redemptive work. As your kids grow older you can begin incorporating didactic texts; that is, texts that teach, books like the epistles. Having read through the historical accounts of God's redemptive work, they will be better suited to understand the theological implications and applications of that great redemption. 
  3. Alternate between Old  Testament and New Testament. Your goal is to expose your children to the breadth and depth of God's word. Read through a book in the Pentateuch. Then, read through one of the gospels. As you alternate between the two testaments, you maintain a healthy variety. At the same time, you also begin to show your family the vast panorama of Scripture. 
  4. Read a Psalm. Or two. After reading a chapter of narrative, end your reading with a psalm. Your kids might not grasp every poetic nuance. They might not identify with the voice of the psalmist. But they will begin to hear the glory of biblical praise to a wondrous God. You might have to read slowly and explain a few words, but it is worth it. 
  5. Read a proverb. Perhaps last night you read a psalm after your main narrative chapter. This evening, read a pithy wisdom statement from the book of Proverbs. That is all you need, one proverb, one verse. Then explain it to them. You can make a big impact in your children's lives by simply explaining in bite-size pieces how to skillfully live the godly life. 

Selecting a text is the first and foundational step to beginning family worship. The benefit of selecting Scripture is you can read, pray, and trust God to do His work in the hearts of your family. 

How about you? Do you have anything you have found helpful for selecting a text? Let me know in the comments. And come back next time as I discuss how to read.