MY UTMOST FOR HID HIGHEST

The Compelling Majesty of His Power The love of Christ compels us…  2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by “the love of Christ.” Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God. “The love of Christ compels us….” When you hear that coming from the life of a man or woman it is unmistakable. You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life. When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, “…you shall be witnesses to Me….” Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but “witnesses to Me….” We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward. No one is able to take this stand for Jesus Christ who is not totally compelled by the majesty of His power. It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize. Paul said that he was gripped by the love of God and that is why he acted as he did. People could perceive him as mad or sane— he did not care. There was only one thing he lived for— to persuade people of the coming judgment of God and to tell them of “the love of Christ.” This total surrender to “the love of Christ” is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God’s holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition Bible in One Year: Exodus 34-35; Matthew 22:23-46

Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

Duration: 365 days

INTERPRETING THE BIBLE

Any written document must be interpreted if it is to be understood. The United States of America has nine highly skilled individuals whose daily task is to interpret the Constitution. They compose the Supreme Court of the land. To interpret the Bible is a far more solemn task than to interpret the U.S. Constitution. It requires great care and diligence.

The Bible itself is its own Supreme Court. The chief rule of biblical interpretation is “sacred Scripture is its own interpreter.” This principle means that the Bible is to be interpreted by the Bible. What is obscure in one part of Scripture may be made clear in another. To interpret Scripture by Scripture means that we must not set one passage of Scripture against another passage. Each text must be understood not only in light of its immediate context but also in light of the context of the whole of Scripture.

In addition, properly understood, the only legitimate and valid method of interpreting the Bible is the method of literal interpretation. Yet there is much confusion about the idea of literal interpretation. Literal interpretation, strictly speaking, means that we are to interpret the Bible as it is written. A noun is treated as a noun and a verb as a verb. It means that all the forms that are used in the writing of the Bible are to be interpreted according to the normal rules governing those forms. Poetry is to be treated as poetry. Historical accounts are to be treated as history. Parables as parables, hyperbole as hyperbole, and so on.

In this regard, the Bible is to be interpreted according to the rules that govern the interpretation of any book. In some ways the Bible is unlike any other book ever written. However, in terms of its interpretation, it is to be treated as any other book.

The Bible is not to be interpreted according to our own desires and prejudices. We must seek to understand what it actually says and guard against forcing our own views upon it. It is the sport of heretics to seek support from Scripture for false doctrines that have no basis in the text. Satan himself quoted Scripture in an illegitimate way in an effort to seduce Christ to sin (Matthew 4:1-11).

The basic message of the Bible is simple enough and clear enough for a child to understand. Yet the meat of Scripture requires careful attention and study to understand it properly. Some matters treated by the Bible are so complex and profound that they keep the finest scholars perennially engaged in an effort to sort them out.

There are a few principles of interpretation that are basic for all sound study of the Bible. They include the following: (1) Narratives should be interpreted in light of “teaching” passages. For example, the story of Abraham offering Isaac on Mount Moriah might suggest that God didn’t know that Abraham had true faith. But the didactic portions of Scripture make it clear that God is omniscient. (2) The implicit must always be interpreted in light of the explicit; never the other way around. That is, if a particular text seems to imply something, we should not accept the implication as correct if it goes against something explicitly stated elsewhere in Scripture. (3) The laws of logic govern biblical interpretation. If, for example, we know that all cats have tails, we cannot then deduce that some cats do not have tails. If it is true that some cats do not have tails, then it cannot also be true that all cats have tails. This is not a matter merely of technical laws of inference; it is a matter of common sense. Yet the vast majority of erroneous interpretations of the Bible are caused by illegitimate deductions from the Scripture.

  1. The Bible is its own interpreter.
  2. We must interpret the Bible literally—as it is written.
  3. The Bible is to be interpreted like any other book.
  4. Obscure parts of the Bible are to be interpreted by the clearer parts.
  5. The implicit is to be interpreted in light of the explicit.
  6. The rules of logic govern what can reasonably be drawn or deduced from Scripture.

The Essential Truths of the Christian Faith devotional is excerpted from Essential Truths of the Christian Faith Copyright © 1992 by R. C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

Family Talk Night Light for Couples

Duration: 365 days

TOO MUCH HONESTY

“Let your conversation be always full of grace.” Colossians 4:6

Most marriage counselors emphasize communication as a foundation for a healthy relationship: Nothing should be withheld from the marital partner. There is wisdom in that advice, provided it’s applied with common sense. It may be honest for a man to tell his wife that he hates her fat legs, her varicose veins, or the way she cooks. It’s honest for a woman to dump her anger on her husband and constantly berate him for his shortcomings and failures. But honesty that does not have the best interest of the other person at heart is really a cruel form of selfishness.

Some couples, in their determination to share every thought and opinion, systematically destroy the sweet spark of romance that once drew them together. They’ve lost any sense of mystique in the relationship.

So how does one express intimate feelings while avoiding too much honesty? Paul’s advice to all Christians works especially well for married partners: “Let your conversation be always full of grace.”

JUST BETWEEN US…

  • Am I sometimes so honest with you that my words are hurtful?
  • Do you think there should be exceptions to telling “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in marriage?
  • We know that God honors truthfulness, so how do we apply this to marital communication?
  • In what areas could we use more honesty and in what areas, more grace?

Heavenly Father, we know that truthfulness is Your will for our lives—but please give us the wisdom to know when to speak the truth and when to keep it to ourselves. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Family Talk Night Light for Parents

Duration: 365 days

HOLD ON TIGHT

Those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2

A mother at a church where I (JCD) was a guest speaker told me tearfully that her husband had recently divorced her, devastating her two sons. “They miss their daddy every day,” she said. “They don’t understand why he doesn’t come to see them. The older boy, especially, wants a father so badly that he reaches for every man who comes into our lives.”

The next morning I spoke again at their church. The same mother and her boys greeted me after the service, and I shook the older boy’s hand. Then something happened that I was not fully aware of at the time—the boy did not let go of my hand! He gripped it tightly, preventing me from welcoming others around us. To my regret, I unconsciously grasped his arm with my other hand and pulled myself free. Only later did I remember and realize how desperately this lad needed a man in his life.

Dad, your sons and daughters will often reach for your hand in the years ahead. When they do, I urge you to hold on tight! This is doubly true if you are divorced or separated. Now more than ever, your children need assurance of a love that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”…and “never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8).

BEFORE YOU SAY GOOD NIGHT…

In what ways do your kids “reach” for you?

What are the biggest challenges of being a single dad?

What is toughest about being the child of a single dad?

What specific things can you do to reassure your kids that you’ll always be there for them?

Dear God, no matter what our family circumstances, let us never waver from our charge as parents! Please forgive us for so often failing our children and You. Help us to be worthy of Your trust in us to lead and love our kids. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.