Monthly Archives: May 2013

Thirsty

 

 

Im so thirsty, I can feel it
Burning through the furthest corners of my soul
Deep desire, cant describe this
Nameless urge that drives me somewhere
Though I dont know where to go

Seems Ive heard about a River from someone whos been
And they tell me once you reach it, oh, youll never thirst again
So I have to find the River, somehow my life depends on the River
Holy River

Other waters Ive been drinkin
But they always leave me empty like before
Satisfaction, all Im askin
Could I really be this thirsty if there werent something more?

And Ive heard about a River from someone whos been
And they tell me once you reach it, oh, youll never thirst again
So I have to find the River,
Somehow my life depends on the River
Holy River, Im so thirsty

Im on the shore now of the wildest River
And I kneel and beg for mercy from the sky
But no one answers, Ive gotta take my chances
Cause something deep inside mes cryin
“This is why you are alive!”

So I plunge into the River with all that I am
Praying this will be the River where Ill never thirst again
Im abandoned to the River
And now my life depends on the River
Holy River, Im so thirsty

 

 


Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

 

by Mark Altrogge

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” MT 5:8

Once a father told his child to sit down. The child refused. Again the father told his child to sit down and again the child stubbornly refused. Finally the father said, “If you don’t sit down I’m going to give you a spanking.” The child sat down and said, “I’m sitting down on the outside but I’m still standing up on the inside!” Reminds me of what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders:

 

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…’ MT 15:7-8

Outwardly they honored God. They sang songs and prayed and tithed. But they had no love for God. Their hearts – their inner persons – were impure – they acted religious to be noticed by men, not to please God.  They were hypocrites.

The word hypocrite comes from a word meaning actor. A hypocrite’s an actor, a pretender. He professes some value or belief but his private life does not match it. He’s not pure in heart.  So to be pure in heart means our words match our thoughts. Our outer life matches our inner life.

 

When God saves us he gives us new hearts:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:26-27

God gives us new hearts that want to follow and obey him and pours his Holy Spirit into us who motivates us to sincere obedience.

A friend once requested I ask him about his TV watching every time he traveled for work.  This man sincerely wanted to please Jesus and didn’t want to sin when no one else was watching.

To be pure in heart doesn’t mean we never sin.  But it means that now we don’t want to.  We hate it when we do, and are grateful for Jesus’ constant cleansing (1 JN 1:9).

 

A few ways to cultivate purity of heart:

* Read your Bible regularly for it convicts, warns and encourages us.

* Ask God for inner purity. David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart.” Regularly ask God to deliver you from evil and temptation

* Be careful what you take in through your eyes and ears.  Flee temptation.  Thomas Watson said, “In a duel a man will chiefly guard and fence his heart, so a wise Christian should above all things keep his heart pure.” 

* Fellowship – confess your struggles and temptations and ask for prayer of one or a few wise, trustworthy believers. 

 

The reward for pursuing purity? “They shall see God.”

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3). 

Because of our glorious hope to see Jesus, the infinitely pure one, face to face, we purify ourselves now, by the power of the Spirit.

 

 


Always Enough

 


Come To The Well

 


You Never Let Go

 


Blessed Are The Hungry Ones

 

by Mark Altrogge

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6

There is a progression in the beatitudes. We acknowledge our spiritual poverty before God which leads us to mourn our sin which produces humility of heart. Then we begin to hunger and thirst for a righteousness outside ourselves – the very righteousness of God.

Righteousness has to do with relationship. God, in his relationship to us always does everything perfectly right: he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. PS 9:8

We’re not righteous in our relationship to God: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12. We may think we aren’t that bad, but in God’s sight, We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment… Isaiah 64:6

When we compare ourselves with others, we don’t seem that bad, but when we get a glimpse of God’s holiness we’re laid low like Isaiah: And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:6

One Halloween when I was a teenager, my neighbor answered the door in her costume wearing white pancake makeup. I’d always thought her teeth were white, but when she smiled, compared to the white makeup, her teeth were three shades of yellow! When we compare our righteousness to God’s, ours is filthy.

 

HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

Hunger and thirst are intense desires. When the Holy Spirit begins to work in us he causes us to hate sin and long to be pure in God’s sight. Years ago I went three days without food or drink. All I could think about was my thirst. I was consumed by it.  It was the most intense desire I’d ever had.

 

THEY SHALL BE SATISFIED

We receive God’s righteousness as a gift when we trust in Jesus, who lived his entire life perfectly obeying his Father. He never committed a single sin in thought, word, or deed, but on the cross, God clothed Jesus in our filthy rags of unrighteousness then crushed him so that when we turn to Jesus, God places his shining robes of righteousness on us. Not because of our work but as a gift!

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness Romans 4:4-5

What joy! What satisfaction! What rest! Like when you’re starving and you eat a great meal and you’re just stuffed. Satisfied!

 

ONGOING HUNGER AND THIRST

Yet there’s an ongoing hunger. Jesus didn’t say “Blessed are those who at one time hungered and thirsted,” He said blessed are those who hunger and thirst – present tense.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? Ps 42:1-2

The Christian life is a rhythm of being filled with the Spirit, then longing for more. Feasting on joy then asking for more. Drinking in God’s love, then waking the next morning thirsting for more. God will continue to satisfy us throughout our lives till drink in the sight of his glory in heaven.

 

Anybody thirsty?


Interpreting The Bible

 

by Stephen Altrogge

 

Interpreting the Bible literally can be a good thing. It probably means that you want to know exactly what God says and obey his words. It means you don’t want to play Bible roulette with which verses you obey. It means you’re willing to obey all the commands of the Bible, even the painful ones.

But, interpreting the Bible literally can also get you into a lot of trouble. Harold Camping thought he was interpreting the Bible literally, which in turn led him to mispredict the end of the world…twice. Pinstripe wearing prosperity preachers think they are interpreting the Bible literally, which leads them to teach that God never wills illness. Heck, the hellfire, hate-throwing folks at WestboroBaptistChurch probably think they are interpreting the Bible literally.

So what does it mean to truly interpet the Bible literally? How can we be sure that our “literal” interpretation of the Bible isn’t actually a theological hack job? Here are some simple questions to help you truly interpret the Bible literally.

 

What did the original author intend to convey to the original audience?

The first question to ask when reading the Bible should not be, “What does this mean to me?” The first question always must be, “What was the original author trying to say to the original audience?”

Ask questions like:

Was the author seeking to encourage the exiled people of Israel?

Was the author seeking to convince the Jewish people that Jesus was the Messiah?

Was the author seeking to correct theological error in the church?

Was the author seeking to encourage Christians in the midst of persecution?

Understanding the original intent of the passage guards us from reading a modern meaning back into scripture. Does it take work and study and thinking to wrestle the original meaning from the text? You bet. But it’s valuable, necessary work.

 

What writing style is used for this section of scripture?

The Psalms are primarily poetry, which means we should expect word pictures, similes, and metaphors. The epistles of Paul are letters, which means we should expect a relatively straightforward, logical progression. The gospels are narratives, which means we should expect all the elements of an eyewitness story to be in place. Revelation is apocalyptic in nature, which means we should expect highly symbolic language. We can’t interpret the Psalms in the same way we interpret the espistles of Paul. We can’t interpret the gospels in the same way we interpret Proverbs. Each scripture must interpreted in light of its literary genre. We get into trouble when we start mixing up our genres.

 

Where does this section of scripture fall in light of salvation history?

All of scripture must be interpreted through the lens of God’s plan of salvation. When reading the Old Testament, ask yourself, “How do these stories, commands, or prophecies point to Jesus, and how are they fulfilled by Jesus?” After all, Jesus said that all of the law and the prophets spoke about him. We get into theological trouble when we start applying Old Testament commands, stories, and prophecies without first looking at them through the lens of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return.

 

What is God’s intended outcome for this section of scripture?

In other words, how does God want me to respond to this command, promise, warning, or rebuke? Should I worship? Should I repent? Should I take courage? Should I marvel? God’s word is not meant to be read and dissected like a chemistry textbook. It is living and active. God speaks to us when we read his word. He wants us to respond to his word, to obey his word, to live by his word. We are to be doers of the word, not hearers only.

 

How does this passage line up with the rest of the Bible?

A general rule of thumb for Bible interpretation is that clear passages always interpret unclear passages. So, when James says that we are justified by our works, we interpret that passage in light of all the Bible says about justification by faith. When Paul says that women must stay silent in church, we interpret that in light of Paul’s teaching that both men and women can publicly prophecy in church. We get into trouble when we isolate passages of scriptures.

Massive books have been written on the subject of scripture interpretation. Obviously I can’t cover all my bases in one short blog post. These are general rules of thumb, and need to be applied with wisdom. If you’re looking for a good book on the subject, I recommend How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee.