Practical and Helpful Thoughts About Personal Devotions

George Müller, a man of deep and earnest prayer, gives some helpful advice on personal devotions and advice for time spent alone with God.

He found that “the most important thing was to concentrate on first reading the Bible [and] meditating on the chosen portion:

That thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by the means of the Word of God, whilst meditating upon it, my heart might be brought into [conscious or experienced] communion with the Lord….

The first thing I did (early in the morning), after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul.

The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer….

With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a while on little [benches], if I find it too much to walk all the time.

I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using up the time for that purpose, that when I get in the open air, I generally take out a New Testament of good-sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible: and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air, which formerly was not the case for want of habit….

The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time….

But what was the result?

I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc; and often, having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.

I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into [conscious or experienced] fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.

It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point.”

– George Müller, as recorded in Delighted in God by Roger Steer (Christian Focus Publications, 1997), 91-92.

10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam

Great post by Kevin De Young: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/02/07/reasons-to-believe-in-a-historical-adam/

“In recent years, several self-proclaimed evangelicals, or those associated with evangelical institutions, have called into question the historicity of Adam and Eve. It is said that because of genomic research we can no longer believe in a first man called Adam from whom the entire human race has descended.

I’ll point to some books at the end which deal with the science end of the question, but the most important question is what does the Bible teach. Without detailing a complete answer to that question, let me suggest ten reasons why we should believe that Adam was a true historical person and the first human being.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology.

Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that is far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them.

Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry.

Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

4. There is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12.

You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

 6. Paul believed in a historical Adam.

(Rom. 5:12-211 Cor. 15:21-2245-49). Even some revisionists are honest enough to admit this; they simply maintain that Paul (and Luke) were wrong.

7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam.

The literature of secondtempleJudaismaffirmed an historical Adam. The history of the church’s interpretation also assumes it.

8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.

9. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.

10. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.

Christians may disagree on the age of the earth, but whether Adam ever existed is a gospel issue. Tim Keller is right:

[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . . .If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work ‘covenantally’—falls apart. You can’t say that ‘Paul was a man of his time’ but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching. (Christianity Today June 2011)

If you want to read more about the historical Adam debate, check out Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins.”

-Kevin DeYoung, 02-07-2012

An Interview with Keith and Kristyn Getty: Part 3

Baptist Press: “What role do hymns play in teaching theology?”

Keith Getty: “We learn through many different things. Scripture is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, and 20 percent of it is poetry. So, immediately, you have to look at it and ask, “On what levels do we learn?” So if you’re asking us, should hymns be used as expositional Bible teaching? No, they shouldn’t be. They’re pieces of art. A song with a great lyric and a bad melody is an awful song. The point is that your soul and your emotions are engaged with others around you to sing. It is a piece of art like poetry is a piece of art. It’s creating a picture, it’s creating an illustration.”

Kristyn Getty: “And no song can tell the whole story. We try to structure a song in such a way that it tells a story or carries a thought in some sort of coherent pattern through a song, as opposed to several different phrases put together that are all true, and of course you can sing them in that way. But we enjoy being able to take a theme — like “Joy Has Dawned,” which tells the Christmas story — and follow that right through as to what it means. You can probably find many passages in Scripture which tie to the various lines in that song. One time we did the song called “By Faith,” and I tried to put an entire chapter of Hebrews 11 into the song. And they were saying, “You’re going to give the congregation a headache if you make them sing that. Let’s try to stand back from this a little. What’s the whole movement of the passage saying?” You only have three minutes to sing it, and it’s not necessarily the place for me to have people cite Hebrews 11. There’s more creative ways of getting the main points across. There will be points that we miss, but then we’ll write another song about it. There’s always something to write about.”

Interview by Michael Foust
Complements of: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=36478

An Interview with Keith and Kristyn Getty: Part 1

Baptist Press: “Why are you so passionate about hymns?”

Keith Getty: I think the things we are most passionate about are, first, making sure that congregations are able to sing together and, secondly, making sure that the Word of Christ dwells in us richly. When you look at the New Testament, the radical thing about the church wasn’t its performance capabilities, it wasn’t buildings, it wasn’t even artistry. It was the fact that these people from every background were coming together to sing. In other words, what congregational singing represents is actually what the church represents. The whole concept of congregational worship is to represent the church here on earth as to what it will one day be in heaven. So it is a unifying thing.

The second thing is, when we look at the models of hymns that we have in Scripture, we have all the Old Testament hymns — mostly hymns of faithfulness like the song of Moses and the song of Aaron, which go on for 30-40 verses. We have the Psalms, which is our Old Testament songbook. And then we have the early hymns of the New Testament, which take us through the central Gospel story in Philippians and Colossians. There is a strong sense of God’s faithfulness, but there’s just a much greater level of lyrical depth. Songs can be short, they can be long. They can be any structure. That’s not the issue. But we do have to write songs of substance, because there is a direct correlation with what we sing as to how we live our lives. In the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy, the people were told they had to learn the song. It was 20-30 verses of what God had done for His people. They were told to learn the song so it would be a witness against them if they ever fell away. That’s how important what we sing is to how we live our lives.”

Interview by Michael Foust
Part 2 here: https://modernpuritan.com/2011/11/09/getty-2/
Complements of: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=36478

Reformation Day

In honor of Reformation day, we present Luther’s defense at the Diet of Worms.

“O Lord, I am Thine, and the cause is Thine, give me the courage to stand.”

“Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason, I cannot recant, for my conscience is held captive by the Word of God, and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”

-Martin Luther, 1521