Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lenten Devotional – Day Two

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?

A. The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

“and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:15-17)

“The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” – Martin Luther

  In the Westminster Shorter Catechism each question and answer builds upon the previous question and answer, giving us a picture of how we are to understand and practice our faith as disciples of Jesus Christ. In sum, the first answer tells us that we are at our most human when we glorify and enjoy God, and the second answer informs us that we need the scriptures contained in the Old and New Testaments to know how to glorify and enjoy God.

lent-cross-2012  Dwight L. Moody, in his Edinburgh crusade, spoke to a large congregation of very young boys and girls. Moody began his sermon with a question: "What is prayer?"

  He wasn't expecting an answer, but the words were no sooner out of his mouth than hands raised all over the hall. The evangelist, stunned into departing from his script, asked one boy for his answer. The young child immediately said this: "Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies." Moody, recognizing that the words were from the Shorter Catechism, declared: "Thank God, my boy, that you were born in Scotland."

  Can anyone imagine such a thing occurring in morning worship today? If asked some question about your faith like "What is prayer," how many of us would have an answer? How many of us would slink down a little further in our pews, hoping that the person next to us would say something?

  Two things must work together within the body of Christ to keep it vital, growing, self-conscious yet selfless. First, we must know our tradition and learn from it. Second, we must know that all our most basic spiritual roots are nourished and strengthened at one source - Scripture. Living as a disciple requires our willingness to follow Jesus who is the living Word, in order, to understand the living word you need to commit yourself to understanding the written Word.

  Westminster Shorter Catechism makes clear from the outset that Scripture is God’s gift to fallen humanity; there is no better place to begin a conversation about God and our lives before God. If Scripture is to change us, if it is to call us into relationship with the God who loves us and forgives us, God himself must open us to its words.

  John Calvin reminds us of the testimony of scripture, “Hence, the highest proof of Scripture is uniformly taken from the character of him whose Word it is. The prophets and apostles boast not their own acuteness or any qualities which win credit to speakers, nor do they dwell on reasons; but they appeal to the sacred name of God, in order that the whole world may be compelled to submission. ....”

  “the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, First Book, Chap. 7, Sec. 4)

  A church that listens to Westminster’s internal conversation will refuse to argue about biblical authority and interpretation in the abstract. We will not use the Bible simply to score points for one church agenda or another, nor will we try to end debate with the words, “But the Bible says…” Rather, we will ask again and again how is God calling us in Scripture to glorify and enjoy him forever; we will let the Bible move us to worship and adoration. The Scriptures should guide the church’s life, and its confession of faith should flow from the biblical witness.

  Make the reading of scripture a daily spiritual practice and Lent is a good time to begin. Open yourself to the inward testimony of the Spirit, so God might speak to you within the Word of God.

Today’s Lectionary Readings
Morning Psalm: 119:97-120
Evening Psalm: 63, 99
Deuteronomy 7:6-11
Titus 1:1-16
John 1:29-34

NOTE: Each daily devotional has a list of Lectionary Readings for the day, but these scripture readings are not directly related to the subject of the daily devotional text.

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