Taking a closer look at verses 1-3, disciples are called to live in a way that reflects their new privileged calling by being, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” While disciples have received their calling by grace and not human merit, the command is to live in a way that corresponds with their calling. God has prepared His children for good works, “that we should walk in them” (2:10). Disciples have been given new life and placed in a new family. So, disciples are to evidence their new life by living in unity within their new family. Disciples do not make themselves worthy of redemption; however, they are called to live in a way that shows a fitness in how they live out their redemption. While disciples do not earn their redemption, they are to give evidence of it.
Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” The Word of God is vital to our sanctification or growth in Godliness. Therefore, we are considering ways to practice the Spiritual Discipline of Bible intake. Having given in our last post some of the advantages of memorizing Scripture, I now wish to turn to the practical consideration of how we can more effectively memorize Scripture. Remember, Scripture memory, for most of us, is not first and foremost about the sharpness of our memory-that is, our ability. It is about motivation-that is, how badly we want to memorize Scripture.
So, with the context for the second half of the book in mind, Ephesians 4:1-16 is a call to walk in unity. God’s will is for His followers to be: “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Being eager means making it a top priority, sparing no effort. But the appeal in 4:1-16 is not just to pursue unity, but also maturity. While the initial call is for unity, there is a direct linkage between unity and maturity: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Christian maturity and unity are inseparable: maturity is tied to unity while unity is tethered to maturity. True maturity occurs as believers strive together toward unity.
We are considering ways to practice the Spiritual Discipline of Bible intake. Having looked at the practices of hearing the Word as well as reading the Word, we will now consider the practice of memorizing the Word. Bible memorization is a wonderful tool, not only in our own hands for our own use, but even more importantly, in the hands of the Holy Spirit for His use in our lives. However, even though we might remember that the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and changes us in a likeness to the Son of God, many of us still flinch at the practice of Scripture memory.
Mark 15:42-16:8* is the final episode of Mark. Precise time stamps mark the two scenes that compose this final episode. Mark 15:42 notes the start of the Sabbath while Mark 16:1 notes the Sabbath’s conclusion. The first scene (15:42-47) reports Jesus’ burial and the second scene (16:1-8) records the discovery of a messenger in the empty tomb.
Therefore, reading God’s Word is of utmost importance for those of us who desire to behold and become like Christ. We must not leave this discipline to chance. We must be intentional about reading the Bible. Dr. Donald Whitney in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, gives three practical suggestions for consistent success in Bible reading. The first two suggestions are straightforward: find the time, and have a plan. We will need to discipline ourselves to find a time. Assistance in being disciplined to read can come from having a plan. There are many pre-arranged plans or you can develop you own. Select a plan that you can reasonably accomplish in the time frame that you have chosen to complete the plan.
Crucifixion was one of the cruelest forms of capital punishment ever devised. Today the cross has become a symbol of adornment. In Christ’s time, the cross was simply shocking, abhorrent, and grotesque. Crucifixion was utterly scandalous, reserved only for those deemed as the worst and lowliest. Yet, Mark’s account of the physical torture of Christ’s crucifixion is vivid but restrained. The physical torture was not sensationalized, but greater emphasis was placed on the overwhelming spiritual anguish that Jesus experienced. Crucifixion as a method of execution fit well with the imagery of experiencing God’s curse as described by Moses hundreds of years earlier, “for a hanged man is cursed by God” (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).
The past two posts we have been a look at the activity of hearing the Word. In this post we will take a look at the activity of reading the Word. As with hearing, reading the Word is a way in which we can practice the spiritual discipline of Bible intake. As a new year is upon us, I pray that the verse, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” (Matthew 4:4) would be used to prompt our hearts toward the activity of consistent Bible reading. Remember, the spiritual disciplines are, “those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth.”
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, […]
In the last post we began considering the activity of hearing the Word. Hearing the Word is the means that not only brings us to faith in Christ, initially it is the means that stimulates our faith to grow. If we do not hear the Word of God, there is no grace to grant us a faith that preserves and transforms us into Christ-likeness. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers,” (1 Timothy 4:13, 16). There is a facet of salvation tied to our hearing the Word of God read, exhorted and taught.
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