Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Study: Chapter 2

I appreciate all your comments on chapter one, I am sure there was a lot of iron sharpening iron going on with no comment posts at all. Maybe it is the busyness of the season, the bad writing of the blogger, or the timidity of the bloggee, whatever the case, let's try to encourage one another through this.

As you enter into chapter two you see that it is entitled, The People Who Know Their God. In Jeremiah 9:23-24 we read the following:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me..."

That is what this chapter, that is what this book, that is what this study is about, Knowing God. As you read through, I believe you saw a huge concern of Packer's and I believe of my own, do we know God or do we just know about Him.

There is a difference in the greek and hebrew concepts of knowledge. Greeks felt no obligation for what they knew, hebrews did. To know for a hebrew meant responsibility.
Knowledge for the sake of knowledge-and much of the basis for our current thinking in science and technology-is greek. The greek view avoids responsibility. The epitome of this is the tv cameraman who records an attrocity on film but does nothing about it. This is what we have been speaking of so often on Sunday evenings in the study of the book of James. It is not enough just to have knowledge, that knowledge should change the way that you live. My prayer is that I would change the more I grow into the likeness of Christ, not just my intellect would change, but my life.

As you read this chapter, Packer shows examples of those who know their God, answer the following questions about the text and grow in your knowledge of Him:

1. List the four characteristics that Packer says is common to those who know God. Are any of these areas of weakness or strength to you?
2. Why would knowing God create a great energy for Him? How does Daniel illustrate this fact?
3. Where does Packer argue that real energy to pray comes from? What is the test he says we can apply to our prayers to check out how well we know God?
4. Every journey has a starting point. Packer concludes this chapter with two things that are necessary for us to begin this journey. What are they? What can you do to keep these things with you for the whole voyage?

For Next Week
Please go ahead and read chapters 3 and 4. This will allow you to read the chapter on the incarnation next week during Christmas. We will never read more than two chapters at a time, so you will not fall too far behind if you miss a week. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make this more beneficial to you. Should I post questions? Should I just post my thoughts? Help me help you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Knowing God Book Study, Part I

Knowing God Book Study, Part I

I apologize for the tardiness of this post. I have been upgrading to satellite internet at the Blake house and I did not realize it was an all day ordeal to do that. I pray that you have found the reading assignment challenging and rewarding at the same time. Remember, anything worthwile for your growth as a believer will require a little work on your behalf.

1993 Preface
I know that you may usually skip the preface, but reading it is a great way to understand the heart of the writer. Packer tells us in the preface that the editor who commissioned the original articles that became Knowing God wanted something for, “readers who were fed up with facile Christian verbiage” (Simplistic or too simple explanations). In effect, Packer was told to write for people who wanted to dive below the surface and see the glories that resided in the deeper waters of the Christian faith. This approach is for people who take Hebrews 6:1 seriously (Go ahead and read that now if you would).

Some of the things he brought out in the preface were the difference in our Christian life of being a balconeer and a traveler. I wonder which group predominantly describes you. I would say I was mainly an observer early on in my faith, musing on questions of not great consequence, leaving the living out of the faith the more mature believers. I pray now that for the most part I am beyond that and am a traveler.

He says on p.12 of my copy that the conviction behind this book is that the ignorance of God lies at the root of much of the churches weakness today. This has happened for two reasons: 1) Christian minds have conformed to the modern Spirit.(What do you think the modern Spirit is?) 2) Christian minds have been confused by modern skepticism.

My prayer at the outset is that you would be challenged like never before and move beyond the elementary teachings of the faith out into the deeper waters.

Chapter One

What do you think, is the proper study of mankind man, or is it as Spurgeon asserts, God? I love Charles Spurgeon and the opening sermon snippet in this chapter is one that we should not read over quickly. What do we as believers think most often about? Ourselves. What should we think most often about?

Ask yourself the following questions to aid you along in your study of Chapter One. Please understand that the goal of chapter one is to help us understand why it is necessary to Study God (theology), not just what God asks us to do.

1. Why is it necessary to study God in order to understand ourselves?

2. Have you ever thought that God is hard or impossible to know? What is Packer’s solution to this problem?

3. Packer claims that Christians know five basic things about God and says these should guide our study. Do you understand these five foundational truths? Are there any of them that you have questions about? Which ones and why?

4. What are the three basic themes of God that Packer will explain throughout? Put these themes into your own words and explain what they mean to you?

5. Why are you studying this book? Why do you want to know God? According to Packer, what should be our motives and our goal? What are some dangers we face?

For Next Week
I am sure this has given you plenty to think about. Please post some of your responses and your questions here in the comments section. Trust me, it will get easier just stay with it and the reward will be great. For next week, read chapter two and be ready to respond to how God spoke to you in that chapter.

What a great weekend at Shiloh

Christmas Store
It is a blessing for me to study the word of God along with you. This past weekend was amazing as God really blessed us in his mercies and grace that He displayed in the Christmas store. It is great to see the church doing what the church is called to do. Not only did we provide Christmas gifts, food, and clothing to 160+ people, but we were able to share the great hope that we have in Jesus Christ with them, and saw two accept Christ as their Saviour.

Sunday Morning
The blessings did not end with the Christmas store, but continued on in our study of the book of Ephesians. We saw that God not only broke down the barrier of sin that separated us from Him by Jesus’ death, He also made Jew and Gentile, slave and free, into one new person. For you see, in the church, there is to be no respect of social status, ethnicity, or the power in one’s last name, in the Church we are one in the fact that we are all part of God’s family by the power of the cross. Do you ever look with disdain on someone and think they could not possibly be equal with you? Please realize that the ground at the foot of the cross is level and that there most be no favouritism(as we saw in James last week).

The study in Ephesians 2 continued in telling us we were made into citizens of heaven, members of God’s family, and Holy Temples unto the Lord. Have you thought of these blessings very much? We could spend all day basking in the glory of the great implications of these verses.

Sunday Night

As we looked together at James chapter 2 verse 14 and following Sunday evening we looked at a dead faith. How many times have you wondered how someone could claim to be a Christian and yet live like the rest of the world, not attending church, continually trapped in sin with their lives showing no fruit? James, and the rest of the NT writers say that this can’t happen. Saving faith will always be accompanied by changed life and works that point to the Father. Pray my friends, that peoples eyes will be opened to the truth of scripture and that they would no longer rest in a meaningless confession of faith, or church membership, or baptism to make them acceptable to God, pray that they would search their hearts and apply these tests presented throughout James to their life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Questions about Book Reading

I understand in reading your comments and hearing from you at church that the instructions for the book reading are lacking a little. Your assignment for this coming week is to get the book and read the first chapter. While you are reading please make notes of things God is revealing to you and also make note of any questions you have. Next Tuesday I will post a short review of the first chapter and some interactive questions for you to think about. I will also post the next weeks reading assignment. The goal is to interact with the book and with one another through the comments section on the blog posting response to my questions and questions and comments of your own. This alleviates the need of all gathering together at one time and allows us to sharpen one another without having to sit down in front of the other person. If you have any other questions, please let me know, otherwise I look forward to the first post this coming Tuesday morning. God bless.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Book Reading

I am excited that many of you have purchased Knowing God. My prayer is that this will be a special time of growth for you as we read through it together. One change, would you please read though chapter one by Monday the 8th. I know I said introduction, but I had forgotten how short the intro is, so this will not stretch you too bad. As you read, have a pencil in hand, underline statements, jot notes down in a notebook, write down the things you have learned or questions you might have. This will only be beneficial to us if there is dialogue about the book, so come ready with questions on Monday. This of course is not light reading and it may seem tedious to you at first, rest in this promise from me, anything worthwile will require discipline and hard work on your part. You are all a blessing to me.

From Death to Life

I was so blessed to see this sermon fleshed out in my family this week. With Ella's acceptance of Christ as her savior, I saw her move from death to life. The truth is, the message of the gospel is sometimes hard to apply to our young children. We see them as beautiful creations and could never imagine them having to spend eternity seperated from God in their sins, this is the truth of God's word. I am not speaking here of an age of accountability, only making a sweeping statement about the sinfulness of man. Even my amazing children, even your children that you may see as pretty near sinless, are sinners who would stand condemned if not for the grace of God. This week read back over the text in Ephesians and ask the following questions:

1. I shared how we need to be re-educated by God’s perspective on our sin in order to appreciate our need for mercy. How does Paul accomplish this in the first three verses?
2. In verse 4, Paul highlights a most amazing turn in Scripture. What has happened that Paul can so quickly turn from the wrath of God to the grace of God?
3.What does it mean that we are in union with Christ? Why is this union so amazing?
4. How can you seize an opportunity this week in your job or relationships to testify to the mercy and grace of God in your life?

Please be much in prayer for Mrs. McCullough, Evelyn Gilbert, Linda White, Mayford Johnson, and the ministry opportunities presented at the Christmas store. God bless, and have a great week.