Reformation Day: Do Not Squander

1521: A single German scholar, facing the assembled might of both church and state, is ordered to recant his positions against the many corruptions and false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Before the entire assembly, he replies that he cannot recant, as his conscience is held fast by God’s Word. He will be excommunicated, a hunted man, kidnapped by his own supporters, living in disguise for a year as a knight to avoid being caught and killed by those would see him and this growing movement crushed.

1536: Captured after years of smuggling his English Holy Bible translation into his native land, so that his countrymen could finally read God’s Word for themselves, just before being strangled to death and burnt, a man prays that the Lord will open the eyes of the King of England to God’s truth.

1555: A defiant leader of the English Reformation is about to be burnt at as part of “Bloody” Queen Mary’s purges. Disdaining the flames, he tells his fellow martyr, “We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

1660: A tinker, faced with the choice of either stopping his preaching of the gospel, or going to prison, tells a court he will not comply with their demands. He will spend over 12 years imprisoned, but in all that time, he never stops preaching or writing concerning God's Word and the Christian life, including a book that will become the best-selling book of all time next to the Bible itself.

1730: A young French woman, just recently married, is imprisoned for refusing to renounce her Protestant faith. She is only 19 years old, and will spend the next 38 years in prison. She will be released, finding that both her father and husband have died during her long sentence. Yet in all those years, she holds firm to her biblical faith, even writing and encouraging many others who find themselves similarly oppressed.

We have described the lives of five unique individuals above: Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, John Bunyan, and Marie Durand. Each of them were part of different circumstances and times, and each suffered in a unique way, but all of them did it for much the same reason: the idea that men and women would be free to know the truths of God’s Word, would be able to learn the Scriptures for themselves, and would be able to hear biblical teaching and preaching. Each of these individuals held tightly to this great, recovered, Scriptural truth of the Reformation: The just shall live by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, as related by Scripture alone. And this wonderful truth is fully worth living a life consciously dedicated in every season and adversity to the glory of God alone.

The truth that was fought and paid for so dearly by the saints and martyrs through the ages is eternal, as it is the truth as defined by our Lord and Creator. The ability to study and share God’s Word is never something that is to be taken for granted—a fact that one look at the persecuted church around the world today will readily tell us. Our generation of the church can look to these faithful witnesses to remind us the preciousness of being able to have God’s Word, and the urgency that the message of salvation be shared with a dying world.

The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is a good time to examine ourselves in relation to how we treat God’s Word and the gospel therein. Do our lives reflect a love for it? Is it compartmentalized to 90 minutes on Sunday, or is it something much more than that? Do we plead we “have no time for it”? Do we acknowledge that if it is worth dying for, it is beyond certainty worth living for? Let us study and share the Word, living it out daily, embracing our Savior’s call to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), and not squander the incredible freedom that God has graced us with by the willing sacrifice of so many valiant saints.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17

Marriage Maintenance | Day Two

 

HERE is the link to the marriage assessment survey. We want you to take some time alone and fill out and answer these questions. Record your answers somewhere so that you can review them with your spouse later this week. 

Assignment for the week: 
1. Fill out the assessment on your own. 
2. Sit down with your spouse to share answers. You're not looking to solve any problems right now, simply trying to get your bearings. 
3. Identify the areas of concern. Any area where there was a discrepancy in your answers or things that you rated lower than a "3" should get some special attention. 

*The next week's assignment will give you some direction on next steps towards dealing with these concern areas and putting them behind you. 

October Reading Plan

Goal for the month: Read through 1 and 2 Samuel in their entirety. 

October 1-7: Read “An Introduction to First Samuel” and 1 Samuel 1-15

October 8-14: Read 1 Samuel 16-31

October 15-21: Read “An Introduction to Second Samuel” and 2 Samuel 1-10 

October 22-31: Read 2 Samuel 11-24

"An Introduction to First Samuel"

First Samuel records the establishment of Israel’s monarchy, about 1085 BC. Samuel led Israel for many years in the combined roles of prophet, priest, and judge. After the people demanded a king like those of the other nations (ch. 8), God directed Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king. When Saul turned from God, David was anointed by Samuel to succeed him. After David killed the giant Goliath, he was brought to Saul’s court, eventually becoming the leader of Saul’s armies. Saul’s subsequent violent jealousy forced David to flee. The book closes with Saul’s death in battle, and looks forward to David’s reign. First Samuel’s author is unknown, but Samuel himself may have written portions of the book (1 Chronicles 29:29). 

"An Introduction to Second Samuel"

Second Samuel recounts David’s reign as king of Israel (about 1010-970 BC). As promised to Abraham, during David’s reign Israel’s borders were extended roughly from Egypt to the Euphrates. While David had many successes, after his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (ch. 11) both his kingdom and his own family fell into chaos. His son Absalom led a bloody rebellion against him. Nevertheless David, author of many of the Psalms, was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), a model of deep, heartfelt prayer and repentance. The Davidic covenant of chapter 7 establishes the eternal rule of David’s line, with its ultimate fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ. The author of 2 Samuel is unknown. 

 

September Reading Plan

Goal this month: Read through and study 1, 2, and 3 John.  

Week 1: Read 1, 2, and 3 John in their entirety and An Introduction to 1-3 John

Week 2: Read 1 John once a day

Week 3: Read 2&3 John once a day

Week 4: Read 1, 2, and 3 John in their entirety 

An Introduction to 1-3 John

John the son of Zebedee wrote these three letters, probably no later than the 90s A.D. He wrote from Ephesus (in present-day western Turkey), perhaps to church like those mentioned in Revelation 2:8-3:22. John also wrote the fourth gospel and the book of Revelation. 

The bulk of John’s first letter is taken up with three tests of genuine faith: (1) the moral test - do you obey God’s commands? (2) the doctrinal test - do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? (3) the love test - do you love God and His children?  Early in the letter these tests appear distinctly, but as John proceeds they are increasingly intertwined into a unified picture of the truly gospel-transformed life. 

In his second letter John reiterated the same themes of truth, obedience, and love. But now he especially addresses the church regarding the danger of false teaching, and in particular teaching that denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. From the opening verse, his emphasis in on the “truth”, and he clearly instructs the church to have nothing to do with those who have departed from the truth of the gospel. Agreement regarding Christ’s person and work is necessary for church fellowship. 

John’s third letter is, to a larger degree, addressing the opposite side of the issue raised in his second letter. Here the exhortation has to do with how to respond to faithful ministers of the gospel (as opposed to how to respond to the false teachers addressed in his second letter). John again emphasizes the priority of truth for the health of the church, but then proceeds to commend Gaius (and presumably those in fellowship with him) for actively supporting those in gospel ministry, and he encourages all believers to do the same.

*Introduction from the Gospel Transformation Bible

August Bible Reading Plan

The Bible reading plan for the month of August is selected Psalms and Proverbs. For this month, we have a daily schedule for you to follow. Each day you will read one chapter from Proverbs and 1-2 chapters from Psalms. 

August 1: Psalm 1 and Proverbs 1

August 2: Psalm 37 and Proverbs 2

August 3:  Psalm 8 and Proverbs 3

August 4:  Psalm 18 and Proverbs 4

August 5:  Psalm 19 and Proverbs 5

August 6:  Psalm 29 and Proverbs 6

August 7: Psalm 30 and Proverbs 7

August 8: Psalm 36 and Proverbs 8

August 9: Psalm 40 and Proverbs 9

August 10: Psalm 66 and Proverbs 10

August 11: Psalm 86 and Proverbs 11

August 12: Psalm 104 and Proverbs 12

August 13: Psalm 136 and Proverbs 13

August 14: Psalms 47&93 and Proverbs 14

August 15: Psalms 96&97 and Proverbs 15

August 16: Psalm 48 and Proverbs 16

August 17: Psalm 76 and Proverbs 17

August 18: Psalm 84 and Proverbs 18

August 19: Psalms 120-121 and Proverbs 19

August 20: Psalms 133-135 and Proverbs 20

August 21: Psalms 2 and Proverbs 21

August 22: Psalm 7 and Proverbs 22

August 23: Psalm 55 and Proverbs 23

August 24: Psalm 109 and Proverbs 24

August 25: Psalm 139 and Proverbs 25

August 26: Psalm 22 and Proverbs 26

August 27: Psalm 51 and Proverbs 27

August 28: Psalm 63 and Proverbs 28

August 29: Psalm 90 and Proverbs 29

August 30: Psalms 120&123 and Proverbs 30

August 31: Psalm 143 and Proverbs 31

Delight

I truly delight in teaching.  The saying goes that the best teachers must be even better students, so perhaps much of the pleasure I derive from teaching comes from learning the content itself.  I enjoy the learning process from start to finish, and love when a student experiences the same joy of learning.  But in teaching, I’ve had students fall asleep in class, neglect homework assignments, and fail seemingly easy tasks.  So the question is, how can there be such a disconnect between a teacher who delights in the content and study at hand and her somewhat disengaged students?  Could it be that at times students don’t derive the same pleasure from learning as does the teacher from teaching?  Why is that?

In an article by Professor Jill Riddell, she writes, “The importance of delight cannot be understated in the process of transformative teaching and learning. . . . We ask one another and ourselves how we know the world and how we can live delightfully, courageously, and responsibly within it.”  

And Yale professor and psychologist Paul Bloom states, “When we get pleasure from something, it's not merely based on what we see or what we hear or what we feel. Rather, it's based on what we believe that thing to be.”

Beliefs and Knowledge Matter

These authors seem to be implying that the missing link between an enthusiastic teacher and a disengaged student is delight.  And not only that what we’re studying makes us feel a certain way, but that we believe a certain way about it!  Therefore, a concerto violinist performing on stage in Carnegie Hall receives roaring applause from adoring fans but goes ignored when he appears in street clothes and plays at the subway (Joshua Bell).   Perceptions and beliefs matter.   If we believe we are the people of God and our identity is in Christ, why is it we so often find ourselves in the seats of the disengaged students?  If we believe God is who he says he is and that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, shouldn’t we find ourselves filled with delight in him?  Though we are called to delight ourselves in him and his word, we often find ourselves lacking joy and gratitude.  Why?

I agree with Bloom’s assertion that the more we know about something the more we value it.  In another interview, he claims the key to living with more pleasure is to study more. . . . the key to enjoying art isn’t to look at or buy a lot of art but to learn about it.  When one understands who created it, how it was created, the time invested, and the value assigned to a work, one treasures that piece much more than if he were to unknowingly stare at it on a museum wall.  So can the same be said about delighting in God and his word?  That by studying God’s word we will come to know he who created, how he has been faithful in his steadfast love to his people, and that he values us so much that he sent his son to die for us?  Can we, by studying, truly derive pleasure from his word, his commands, his decrees?  Do we lack joy and gratitude simply because we do not know well our Maker and his word?

Psalm 119 is exceptional in its praises of God’s word.  All but two of the 176 verses contain some sort of description of God’s word, and at least nine verses mention the psalmist’s delight in it.  

14     In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
15     I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16     I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

By delighting in God’s word, we begin to delight in him.  We learn who he is as we see his sovereignty, mercy, and steadfast love on display.  Over and over his song of redemption plays out through his word and culminates in the saving acts of his son.  And so, as God’s people, as Restoration women, we move forward into study of his word, we press into knowing him better and delighting in him,  praying together with the psalmist,

33     Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34     Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
35     Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
36     Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
37     Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Ladies, I hope you will join us in our upcoming study of Colossians, starting on July 19.  Come see how the superiority and sufficiency of Christ changes every aspect of how we live.  Come delight in learning more about our savior and king!

And don’t miss out on an outstanding opportunity this fall as we head to Country Lake Christian Retreat in southern Indiana for our first Restoration Women’s Retreat.   Wife, mom, and speaker Laura White will point us to the word as it reveals the hope God has given his people in the past, present, and future.  This will be a relaxing time to renew your spirit and experience authentic community with your Restoration sisters as we delight ourselves in who he is.  Click here to register today.  

- Morgan Zoeller - 


Click here to watch a brief promo video for the retreat. 

We Are Worshipers

What comes to your mind when you think of worship? I think this is an extremely important question to ponder. If I’m honest, when the word worship comes to my mind, it’s usually followed   by a picture of a “worship band” leading hundreds of people in singing songs about and to Jesus. I’m not sure what comes to your mind when you think of worship, but these are some popular phrases I have heard over the years growing up in the church:

“The worship was great this morning!”

“By the last song, I was really worshiping.”

“Bob sure is a real worshiper.”

With these comments, we live with the mindset that worship is something to be admired as if we are on the outside looking in. Or we assume that worship is generated and sustained by emotion. Or we assume that some people are just simply wired to worship “better” than we can, boiling worship down to external expression during the music portion of the Sunday morning gathering. The popular misconception of worship is what connects all of these ideas: worship happens when the guitars are strummed, the drum beat is loud and the voices rise as the church sings praises to our Savior. Singing and playing instruments in the context of the local church is a necessary part of worship. However, we do well to broaden our idea of worship instead of narrowing it to only music. When we have a narrow idea of worship, limiting it to the music portion of Sunday morning, we limit the God of the universe to one who is only worshiped when our favorite hymn is sung. God is worthy of our affectionate singing on Sunday mornings, yes. He is also worthy of the worship of our lives outside of Sunday mornings. In order for us to worship God well with our lives, we must realize that we are sinful worshippers who are in great need of God’s help to reorient our worship around Him—for His glory and our joy. 

We are worshippers. God created us to worship. Therefore, everything we do is an act of worship. This changes the question from“are you worshiping?” to “what are you worshiping?” So often we are guilty of separating our lives into spiritual activities and secular activities with “worship” being deemed as a spiritual activity. However, if we look through the lens of God’s Word, we see something different and very counter-cultural. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship.” If we have been restored by the grace of God through faith, it is our great joy to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. In other words, our lives should be as a continual offering to the One who has redeemed us and made us new. 

We live in a world full of idols that fight for our attention and affection. They fight for our worship—our time, energy, thoughts and longings. If we have been justified, we have One who is more satisfying than anything this world has to offer. He is worthy of our affection, attention and the reorientation of our lives around Him for His glory and our joy. As we look forward to corporately worshiping our Savior on Sundays, may we sing loudly, pray fervently and listen intently as an overflow of our worship of Christ throughout the previous week. May we be careful to not restrict our worship to one day a week. We have the glorious opportunity to joyfully worship Jesus every second of every day as we reorient our lives around Him for His glory and our joy. 

Let me leave you with this insightful definition of worship by William Temple. I hope it is helpful to you as it is to me…

“{Christian} Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin”.

 

Stephen Krumalis

July Bible Reading Plan

Here is the Restoration Church reading plan for July:

Goal for the month: Read and study through both Galatians and Colossians

Week 1: Read Galatians 2-3 times and “An Introduction to Galatians”

Week 2: Slow down and study one chapter of Galatians a day

Week 3: Read Colossians 2-3 times and “An Introduction to Colossians”

Week 4: Slow down and study one chapter of Colossians a day

"An Introduction to Galatians and Colossians" 

Galatians:

Paul’s letter to the Galatians was addressed to a group of churches in Galatia, a region of present-day Turkey. Paul had preached the gospel in these churches. He wrote to counter those who taught that Christians must be circumcised in order to be accepted by God. Paul began with a defense of his apostolic authority (chapters 1-2), then made it clear that all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, enjoy complete salvation in Christ (chapters 3-4). In chapters 5-6, Paul showed how the gospel of grace leads to true freedom and godly living. Perhaps the central message of Galatians is “a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:16). Paul wrote this letter sometime between A.D. 48-55. 

Colossians: 

Paul wrote to the church in Colossae to fortify it against false teachers who might try to impose strict rules about eating and drinking and religious festivals. Paul shows the superiority of Christ over all human philosophies and traditions. He writes of Christ’s deity (“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” [1:15]) and of the reconciliation He accomplished with His blood. He explains that the right way of living in this world is to focus on heavenly rather than earthly things. God’s chosen people must leave their sinful lives behind and live in a godly way, looking to Christ as the head of the church (1:18). Paul wrote while in prison, probably about the same time he wrote to the Ephesians. 

 

June Bible Reading Plan: Week 3

Here is the Restoration Church reading plan for the third week of June.... 

Goal for the Month: Read and study through the books of Jonah and Nahum

Goal for Week 3: Read through Nahum 3 times this week. As you read, walk through the "Bible Study Questions for Nahum" listed below. 

*Each week we will be posting a new goal for reading and studying through these two books*

Bible Study Questions for Nahum

Context Questions:

  • Are there any clues about the circumstances in which the prophecy was given or written?
  • Are any people or places mentioned that you aren’t familiar with?
  • Are other bits of the Old Testament mentioned or alluded to in the passage? What part do these ‘memories’ play in the text?

Observation Questions:

  • Paying attention to when the prophet is speaking and when God is speaking, what does the passage tell us about God’s plans? What does it tell us about God’s character?
  • What kind of human behavior, if any, is condemned or rewarded? What response is called for (if any)?
  • What is the main point or points?

Meaning Questions:

  • Are there specific instructions/commands given to the reader? Does this passage mention any consequences for not following God’d commands?
  • Does this text have a sense of expectation about something happening in the future? What is to be expected and when? How should this motivate action in the present?
  • Does this passage point forward to Jesus? Is the gospel anticipated or foreshadowed in some way?

Application Questions:

  • How is your own situation similar to or different from those being addresses?
  • How does this passage lead you to trust God and His promise in Jesus?
  • How does this passage call on you to change the way you live?

*Questions from "One to One Bible Reading" by David Helm