The Berean Call
Jun 30, 2015
Join T.A. McMahon as he answers the question, “What’s wrong with Biblical movies?”
Correction: the list of A.D.’s 32 characters who do not appear in the Bible’s Book of Acts mistakenly included Gamaliel.
Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you? Daniel 6:20
When educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, researching how to develop talent in young people, examined the childhoods of 120 elite performers—athletes, artists, scholars—he found that all of them had one thing in common: they had practiced intensively for long periods of time.
Bloom’s research suggests that growing in any area of our lives requires discipline. In our walk with God, too, cultivating the spiritual discipline of regularly spending time with Him is one way we can grow in our trust in Him.
Daniel is a good example of someone who prioritized a disciplined walk with God. As a young person, Daniel started making careful and wise decisions (1:8). He also was committed to praying regularly, “giving thanks to God” (6:10). His frequent seeking of God resulted in a life in which his faith was easily recognized by those around him. In fact, King Darius described Daniel as a “servant of the living God” (v. 20) and twice described him as a person who served God “continually” (vv. 16, 20).
Like Daniel, we desperately need God. How good to know that God works in us so that we long to spend time with Him! (Philippians 2:13). So let us come every day before God, trusting that our time with Him will result in a love that will overflow more and more and in a growing knowledge and understanding of our Savior (1:9–11).
Father, I thank You for the privilege of serving You. Help me to spend regular time with You in order to grow in my knowledge of You.
Time with God transforms us.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Early in my college days, I studied and worked excessively, as I wanted to offer the Lord my all. Eventually, I realized that neglecting my health could hinder my serving Him, so I therefore had a responsibility to take care of my physical body. Since then, I have tried to use wisdom with regard to health. I believe that includes having the proper motivation and a commitment to practice discipline.
When we understand our worth in the Father’s sight, we will be motivated to pursue good health. Our bodies are the temple of the living God (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit lives in us and carries out the Lord’s work through us. When we are taking care of our health, we position ourselves to be able to serve when God calls. Our heavenly Father knows many of us have infirmities, but He wants us to take care of ourselves so we do not make our condition worse.
Discipline is the other component of a health-conscious attitude. Many of us approach exercise and weight loss in a “fits and starts” manner. While that may offer some value at the time, a more lasting method is of greater benefit. We need to develop new routines, within the structure of our family and work, for our bodies to thrive. Consistency over the long term is necessary if we are to stay in good condition.
A desire to eat right and exercise regularly does not guarantee we’ll avoid disease or live a long life. But it does mean we will have done our part to keep God’s temple in good shape for Him. Our calling as God’s children is best fulfilled when we seek physical as well as spiritual vitality.
“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:19)
This final testimony and warning of Christ to those who profess to be His followers is a clear command not to either augment (Revelation 22:18) or dilute the inspired “words” (not just “thoughts”) of the Bible. There are many people in the various cults following some leader who thinks he or she has received some new inspired word from God. That is very unwise. But it is usually certain leaders in the mainline denominations who presumptuously either cull out or explain away those Bible verses they consider unscientific or offensive in some way. That is even more dangerous, for those whose names are not found “in the book of life” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
Whether men believe it or not, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. It is true that any two Christians may interpret certain passages in different ways. But they won’t be too far apart if they believe the Bible to be the inerrant, understandable, inspired Word of God, especially if they really believe that God is able to say what He means. The Bible authors do occasionally use figurative language, of course, in which case any symbols are usually explained in context. When the writer clearly intends to be understood literally, as in the first chapter of Genesis for example, it is dangerous to impose some metaphorical meaning on the passage because of outside considerations. This seems to be what Paul called “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2) and can become a very slippery slope for those who choose that broad and easy way. It will be easier at Christ’s judgment seat to explain why we believed God than why we believed men who questioned God. HMM
Acts 9:1, 2
His very breath was threatening; all Judea was not a large enough hunting ground for him. What a rebel he was! What a saint he became! How mighty is divine grace!
What surprise filled the soul of Saul when he perceived that the Nazarene whom he had hated was really divine. Little had he dreamed of persecuting the Son of God, he thought he was crushing out a troublesome imposture. O Lord, open the eyes of any other sincere bigot who may be persecuting thy cause without knowing it to be thine!
He rises a changed man, he has seen the Lord and is conquered; he has become the willing servant of Jesus whom he persecuted. His hectoring has ended, his submission is complete.
And no wonder. The light had blinded him, and the revelation from heaven so possessed him that he forgot everything else.
Do we wonder that the good man doubled? Should not we be slow to believe if we were told that a man of Rome had given up his superstition, and was humbly seeking a Saviour? Yet the case would not be more wonderful.
Acts 9:15, 16
Paul was not merely to be a saint, but an eminent one. Great sinners usually love much when they are forgiven.
Acts 9:17, 18
He did not neglect baptism, as some do. What the Lord ordains we must not despise.
Thus electing love chose a persecutor; almighty grace made him a penitent; the Holy Spirit made him a believer, and by divine authority he became a minister and an apostle. Grace works miracles.
Lo Satan trembles and gives place
Before the Spirit’s might!
The power of efficacious grace
Puts all his hosts to flight.
His kingdom falls, his spells and charms
By Jesus are o’erthrown,
The Spirit wields victorious arms,
And holds the field alone.
Ah, Grace! into unlikeliest hearts
It is thy boast to come;
The glory of thy light to find
In darkest spots a home.
Thy choice, O God of goodness! then
We lovingly adore;
Oh, give us grace to keep thy grace,
And grace to long for more!
They who feed thy sick and faint
For thyself a banquet find;
They who clothe the naked saint
Round thy loins the raiment bind.
Thou wilt deeds of love repay;
Grace shall gen’rous hearts reward
Here on earth, and in the day
When they meet their reigning Lord.
O Spirit of the Lord, prepare
All the round earth her God to meet;
Breathe thou abroad like morning air,
Till hearts of stone begin to beat.
Baptize the nations far and nigh;
The triumphs of the cross record:
The name of Jesus glorify,
Till every kindred call him Lord.
Come, guilty souls, and flee away
Like doves to Jesu’s wounds;
This is the welcome gospel-day,
Wherein free grace abounds.
God loved the church, and gave his Son
To drink the cup of wrath:
And Jesus says he’ll cast out none
That come to him by faith.
Fly abroad, thou mighty Gospel,
Win and conquer, never cease;
May thy lasting, wide dominion
Multiply, and still increase.
Sway thy sceptre,
Saviour, all the world around.
When he first the work begun,
Small and feeble was his day:
Now the word doth swiftly run,
Now it wins its widening way:
More and more it spreads and grows,
Ever mighty to prevail;
Sin’s strongholds it now o’erthrows,
Shakes the trembling gates of hell.
From Greenland’s icy mountains,
From India’s coral strand,
Where Afric’s sunny fountains
Roll down their golden sand;
From many an ancient river,
From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver
Their land from error’s chain.
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One God, whom we adore,
Be glory as it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.
The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. (1 Corinthians 3:13)
The indications are all around us in Christianity that we are greatly in need of worshipers.
We have a lot of men who are willing to sit on our church boards but have no desire for spiritual joy and radiance and who never show up for the church prayer meeting!
It has always seemed to me to be a frightful incongruity that men who do not pray and do not worship are nevertheless running many of the churches and ultimately determining the direction they will take.
It hits very close to our own situation, perhaps, but we should confess that in many “good churches,” we let the women do the praying and let the men do the voting!
God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are majoring in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theater. This is where we are, even in evangelical churches. Yet God’s first call to us is for the offering of true worship!
“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isa. 48:10
This has long been the motto fixed before our eye upon the wall of our bedroom, and in many ways it has also been written on our heart. It is no mean thing to be chosen of God. God’s choice makes chosen men choice men. Better to be the elect of God than the elect of a whole nation. So eminent is this privilege, that whatever drawback may be joined to it we very joyfully accept it, even as the Jew ate the bitter herbs for the sake of the Paschal Lamb. We choose the furnace, since God chooses us in it.
We are chosen as an afflicted people, and not as a prosperous people, chosen not in the palace, but in the furnace. In the furnace beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed, and yet here eternal love reveals its secrets, and declares its choice. So has it been in our case. In times of severest trial God has made to us our calling and election plain, and we have made it sure: then have we chosen the Lord to be our God, and He has shown that we are assuredly His chosen. Therefore, if today the furnace be heated seven times hotter, we will not dread it, for the glorious Son of God will walk with us amid the glowing coals.