Saturday, November 28, 2009

Will no longer post this blog

I have created a new blog called "Jim's Devotional Blog". Only people close to me will be able to read this blog.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Keeping a thoughtful record of your spiritual journey can promote godliness. It can help us in our meditation and prayer. It can remind us of the Lord’s faithfulness and work. It can help us understand and evaluate ourselves. It can help us monitor our goals and priorities as well as maintain other spiritual disciplines. Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 1991

Here are some reasons for writing out our thoughts:

1. We more easily discipline our minds to sustain our thoughts without interruption.

2. If interrupted, because we have written our thoughts, we are able to return to them again for further contemplation and development.

3. We can also return to our reflections in the distant future, when otherwise they might have been totally forgotten.

4. Writing demands that we organize our thinking connectedly or cohesively on a subject.

5. We train our minds to express ourselves meaningfully and accurately.

6. We build a reserve of good thoughts for a time when our thinking is more vacuous, or our spirituality is in decline.

7. We teach ourselves the significance of learning by demonstrating to ourselves that cogent, biblical thinking is worth writing down.

8. We find that our developed thoughts sometimes emerge in our public speaking or private conversations, even though we did not prepare to use them.

9. We have a cache of mature thoughts to peruse as seed for public writing or speaking.

10. We leave our thoughts to future generations when normally the preponderance of them, if not every last one of them, would have vaporized upon our death or mental decline.

Jim Elliff
Writing Down Our Thoughts, Christian Communicators Worldwide

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quotes on Meditations

By meditating on Scripture you are transformed into the person God intends you to be. Meditation is a blend of your words to God and His Word to you; it is loving conversation between you and God through the pages of His Word. It is absorption of His words into your mind by prayerful contemplation and concentration.
Jim Elliff
Returning to Your First Love

Meditation is a help to knowledge; thereby your knowledge is raised. Thereby your memory is strengthened. Thereby your hearts are warmed. Thereby you will be freed from sinful thoughts. Thereby your hearts will be tuned to every duty. Thereby you will grow in grace. Thereby you will fill up all the chinks and crevices of your lives, and know how to spend your spare time, and improve that for God. Thereby you will draw good out of evil. And thereby you will converse with God, have communion with God, and enjoy God. And I pray, is not here profit enough to sweeten the voyage of your thoughts in meditation?
William Bridge
The Works of the Reverend William Bridge

The kind of meditation encouraged in the Bible differs from other kinds of meditation in several ways. While some advocate a kind of meditation in which you do your best to empty your mind, Christian meditation involves filling your mind with God and truth. For some, meditation is an attempt to achieve complete mental passivity, but biblical meditation requires constructive mental activity. Worldly meditation employs visualization techniques intended to “create your own reality.” And while Christian history has always had a place for the sanctified use of our God-given imagination in meditation, imagination is our servant to help us meditate on things that are true (Philippians 4:8). Furthermore, instead of “creating our own reality” through visualization, we link meditation with prayer to God and responsible, Spirit-filled human action to effect changes.
Donald Whitney
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

The challenge before us then is not merely to do what God says because He is God, but to desire what God says because He is good. The challenge is not merely to pursue righteousness, but to prefer righteousness. The challenge is to get up in the morning and prayerfully meditate on the Scriptures until we experience joy and peace in believing “the precious and very great promises” of God (Rom. 15:13; 2 Peter 1:4). With this joy set before us the commandments of God will not be burdensome (1 John 5:3) and the compensation of sin will appear too brief and too shallow to lure us.
John Piper
How Dead People Do Battle With Sin

My Personal Spiritual Meditation in my Christian Faith

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 49:3
My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

Psalm 104:34
May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.

Psalm 119:97
Mem Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

Colossians 4:2-4
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak

My Personal Meditation Thoughts
My heart is like a garden with beautiful flowers and plants. As with all gardens, the hearts must be kept free from weeds and insects. For me, both because I need to look at my whole being. I need to focus on God with all of my heart and mind. I am not a perfect Christian but I am a forgiven Christian who is still learning. I need to remind myself that God wants me to have free and responsive hearts, "Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God." In Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Sometimes I just feel a complete hypocrite in my Christian life. The book of Hebrews raises many questions in my mind. If it does not raise questions in my
mind, it is very likely that I have already grown dull of hearing and are in a serious spiritual condition. I stop growing spiritually. Drifting and coasting and inactivity in spiritual things is very dangerous by becoming hardened to spiritual convictions. If a Christian don't feel the conviction and didn't have the motivation to change from "within", then we should be concerned whether we are truly saved or not. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." The condition of the heart determines how receptive a person is to God's commandments.

Whether I am a new Christian or an old one (I am old Christian), I never stop the process of spiritual maturity. A Christian who is committed to Christ is going to grow. Growth will only take place when Christians are spiritual, not carnal, and when they are living for the glory of God, not for themselves. I have to understand my spiritual hindrances so that I can have spiritual growth because I am dealing with the thing that keeps me from growing. Carnal person is a Christian who still has self on the throne (selfishness). Christ is still in there somewhere, running around, but He is not in charge, and the life is still in chaos. There's no Lordship. For a Spiritual Christian, Self is off the throne (self-less), Christ is on it, and the life is all in order.

Sometimes I struggle to know the will of God for my life and often I try to have a conversation with myself (= meditation) along with God's Word. The word "meditation" in Hebrew means basically to speak or to mutter. When this is done in the heart it is called musing or meditation. So meditating on the Word of God day and night means to speak to myself the Word of God day and night and to speak to myself about it. A Christian must build into my life a regular encounter with God, personally and quietly over the Word. In John 15, Jesus was talking about "abiding" Him and His word. The word "abide" simply means "to remain." Jesus is saying, "Be for real, and give evidence that you're for real by remaining with Me." To abide as a believer simply means to stay close to Jesus. A branch is much better off if it's connected to the vine. Being only a half an inch away from the vine doesn't do a branch any good. To abide is to be totally connected to Jesus Christ. As the vine sends its energy through the branch to bear fruit, so Christ can send His energy through me. The word translated "abide" (Gk. meinete) is in the aorist tense and implies in this context a permanent fact. In 2 Timothy 2:15, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of truth." What is true in God's Word. Jesus said, "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth" (John 17:17; cf. Ps. 119:151). The truth is also in Christ: "You did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus" (Eph. 4:20-21). Dwelling on what is true necessitates meditating on God's Word.

I have to remind myself that by renewing my mind through regular meditating on God's Word. Doing so will bring into my mind what is spiritually healthy and lead me away from what is harmful. The Holy Spirit awakens my life and faith and personal transformation (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and more, Galatians 5:22). God the Holy Spirit does that. But Holy Spirit does it through the word of God (1 Peter 1:23; John 17:17). God gave me a conscious mind. He gave me volition and emotion. God gave us conscience. If the truth of God's Word opposes the world's wisdom on a certain issue, you must align yourself with God's Word. When a Christian who is saved by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, this Christian is living in a new Creature with holy conscience rather than sinful conscience. If we didn't feel the conviction and didn't have the motivation to change from "within", then we should be concerned whether we are truly saved or not. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." I know that progressing in my sanctification and my spiritual growth and it only happens as I live in the environment of the truth and respond to that truth, and obey that truth, and avoid anything that diminishes my understanding of that truth or perverts that truth.

The Holy Spirit makes the words of Jesus effective when they attach with understanding to my mind and then to my will and emotions. Christ is glorified when His word is heard and understood and affirmed and enjoyed. So that is how God has ordained for change to happen. My own spiritual level will always be different from others. Others may be more spiritually mature while others are not as matured. We are in different stages of life with different demands on our days. We are at different levels of spiritual maturity, and no one matures over night. I am always searching and identifying my strengths and weaknesses rather than dwell solely on the negative aspects of my weaknesses. I will have to remember that I will often fall short of God's holiness that the world will not come to an end it that happens. Failures are just lessons of bad habits that I keep bringing back. I just need to pick myself up and start again. Let the mistake be a lesson and learn to make adjustments as I go along. I know that God's love hopes all things (1 Corinth 13). I understand that God's Grace with love refuses to take human failure as final. With Christ in me, my human failures are never final. He is not finished with me yet.God gave me the grace to sanctify me. In sanctification God has to deal with me on the death side as well as on the life side. The struggle begins. "If any man come to Me and hate not his own life, he cannot be My disciple." Being sanctified means “to be separated from sin”. The key to sanctification then, is to know and obey the truth which is the Word of God in my heart. When I got saved, I am justified which is "declared righteous". Justification cannot be separated from sanctification. I am declared righteous in justification, and then the process of making me righteous begins to function in this sinful world. Sanctification is a progress towards holiness which is spiritual growth. God uses thorns to perfect His "power is perfected in weakness". Through GRACE, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:4). Grace of heart is a gift from God and this has nothing to do with the thorns because God change our circumstances by changing us internally, by allowing Him to lift us above our present thorn and He will lead us into His will. James says count it all joy when you fall into various trials cause trials have a perfecting work. Peter says after you've suffered a while the Lord will make you perfect.

Reading my BIBLE: The Bible illumines the dark corners of my heart and my mind by exposing sin but reveals the way towards His holiness. The Word of God (Bible) rebukes in order that I may see myh faults. God's Word (the Bible) sometimes wounds me deeply and it is imperative because through the Bible, God speaks loudly. I need to be convicted, respond in repentance and ask for forgiveness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

God is really teaching me lately.......

In relation to justification and sanctification, there is a substantial difference and that Luther did not protest in vain. Scripture teaches that justification is a declarative act of God, not a process. Jesus promised immediate salvation to believers: “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24). That verse clearly states that on the basis of faith alone, sinners pass out of death and into eternal life. Sanctification is a result, not a prerequisite.We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). As a part of His saving work, God will produce repentance, faith, sanctification, yieldedness, obedience, and ultimately glorification. Since He is not dependent on human effort in producing these elements, an experience that lacks any of them cannot be the saving work of God.

Those who have been born again are new creatures in Christ; they are the products of grace, not the achievers of it in any way, shape, or form. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, not by human works or human merit of any kind or to any degree (Eph. 2:8, 9). And yet, we are saved unto good works, as Ephesians 2:10 makes so abundantly clear. And the ability to do these good works is the result of the washing and renewing work of the Spirit within us (Titus 3:5). That cleansing work (called regeneration) is also a work of transformation. If we have been truly transformed on the inside, it will affect our outside lives as well.

John 10:26–27. Here, Jesus plainly says to his unbelieving listeners: “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

The word used here for “follow” is akoloutheo. Whenever it is used in a religious context in the New Testament, it refers to discipleship. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says this about the term:

The distinctive statistical evidence shows that the special [meaning religious] use of akolouthein is strictly limited to discipleship of Christ; apart from a single reference in Revelation it is found exclusively in the four Gospels. … The disciple leaves everything to go after Jesus (Mk. 10:28; cf. 1:18; Lk. 5:11). This implies, however, that akolouthein signifies self-commitment in a sense which breaks all other ties (Mt. 8:22; Lk. 9:61 f.). … The exclusiveness of the NT use arises from the fact that for primitive Christianity there is only one discipleship and therefore only one following, namely, the relationship to Jesus. The demand akolouthei moi in Mk. 2:14 and par. is a Messianic demand (–> sunakoloutheo). Because it signifies following the Messiah, this discipleship is essentially a religious gift. Akoulouthein means participation in the salvation offered in Jesus. (Gerhard Kittel, TDNT, vol. 1, pp. 213–14; Greek terms transliterated).

So Jesus’ Himself uses a term for discipleship to refer to the characteristics of His sheep (true believers). If I am truly born of God, I have a faith that cannot fail to overcome the world (1 John 5:4). Even though I may sin (1 John 2:1)—I will sin—but the process of sanctification can never stall completely. God is at work in me (Phil. 2:13), and He will continue to perfect me until the day of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23–24).

Justification is free (Jn. 4:1)
Sanctification is costly (Lk. 14:25-33)

Justification is instantaneous (Jn. 3:8)
Sanctification is a life-long process (Jn. 8:31)

Justification is by faith (Eph. 2:8)
Sanctification is by faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2)

Justification is not of works (Eph. 2:9)
Sanctification is of works (Eph. 2:10)

Justification involves Christ’s love for me (Jn. 3:16)
Sanctification involves my love for Christ (1 Jn. 4:19)

Justification concerns Christ’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)
Sanctification concerns my righteousness (Lk. 14:25-33)

Justification involves my position in Christ (Col. 2:11-14)
Sanctification involves my practice (Col. 3:1-11)

Justification considers what God has done (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Sanctification considers what I am doing (Lk. 14:25-33)

Justification is God’s commitment to me (1 Jn. 5:9-13)
Sanctification is my commitment to God (Jn. 14:15)

Justification requires obedience to one command: to believe the Gospel (Ac. 6:7)
Sanctification requires obedience to all of Christ’s commands (Matt. 28:19-20)

Justification focuses on the cross which Jesus took up once and for all (1 Cor. 1:18)
Sanctification focuses on the cross which I am to take up daily (Lk. 9:53)

Justification is finished at the moment of faith (Jn. 5:24)
Sanctification is not finished until I go to be with the Lord (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
Author Unknown

Quotes from theologians
You cannot take Christ for justification unless you take Him for sanctification. Think of the sinner coming to Christ and saying, “I do not want to be holy;” “I do not want to be saved from sin;” “I would like to be saved in my sins;” “Do not sanctify me now, but justify me now.” What would be the answer? Could he be accepted by God? You can no more separate justification from sanctification than you can separate the circulation of the blood from the inhalation of the air. Breathing and circulation are two different things, but you cannot have the one without the other; they go together, and they constitute one life. So you have justification and sanctification; they go together, and they constitute one life. If there was ever one who attempted to receive Christ with justification and not with sanctification, he missed it, thank God! He was no more justified than he was sanctified.
A.A. Hodge
Evangelical Theology.

If you do not put a difference between justification wrought by the Man Christ without, and sanctification wrought by the Spirit of Christ within…you are not able to divide the word aright; but contrariwise, you corrupt the word of God.
John Bunyan

My final thoughts:
I have to remember that its not the scriptures that are corrupted so before I blame, I am to lay blame where it is deserved. This is where I should have a serious responsibility in this matter to search in my heart about my motives when I try to glorify God. Paul said, "But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment" (1 Corinthians 11:31). I can learn from others who believe such doctrines and examine my own. I am to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me and convict me the truth. Often my flesh's desires gets in the way of spirit-lead truth. Spiritual truth is so necessary to understand God as who He is, not the way I want to think. I have been thinking, like most Christians,I often question myself about my own spiritual issues and motives. Is the whole of my thinking governed by Scripture, or do I come with my reason and pick and choose out of Scripture? Thinking theologically is a tough thing to do. It works against my human (sinner) and horizontal perspective on life. I will never forget C.S. Lewis' quote: "You never know how much you really believe anything until truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." I remember that it is not the scriptures that are corrupted. Its a man's heart (as in my own) that is corrupted in all areas such as in intelligence, reason, and choice. Even forgiven sinners who are not sanctified in the renewal by the Holy Spirit even though they are justified by faith. The Scriptures aim to affect my heart and change the way I feel about God and His will. It is the will of God that His Word crush my own feelings of arrogance and self-reliance and that it give hope to the poor in spirit. Christianity will always be running against the prevailing movement of society with individualistic doctrinal beliefs. I am in the world of self-deceit that sometimes I am too focused on myself to see the eternal truth.