2015 … it was very good year.

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Click here to read the Holdridge 2015 Summary Newsletter.

May the Lord bless you this year, and may you bear fruit to the glory of God!

John 15:8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

Thanks for your prayers, support, and encouragement. It means so much to Sheri and me.

Love in Christ,

Bill Holdridge

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The Hearing Ear and the Seeing Eye


The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both. (Proverbs 20:12)

From the aspect of Divine Creation, this verse speaks of the ingenious and miraculous development of the human ear and the human eye. Both of these organs strongly testify to the existence of God.

But as we consider the context of the book of Proverbs, the verse relates to the topic of wisdom. It is wise to understand the role of the hearing ear; it is wise to understand the role of the seeing eye. That is, it is wise to use our ears for what God designed them for. Likewise, it’s wise to use our eyes for God’s intended purposes.

I quote the inimitable Yogi Berra on the subject of the seeing eye: “You can observe a lot just by watching.” So true … if we pay attention, we can see much more than most, and certainly much more that we’d seen before.

I was wondering what might be a similar kind of statement relating to the hearing ear. This is what I came up with: “You can hear a lot just by listening.”

Isn’t it interesting that the eye and the ear are receptive in nature? That is, they take in information rather than sending it out.

What that means practically is that we should use our ears for their intended purpose: to listen. It’s not easy to find a good listener. Does that correspond to the difficulty in finding a wise person? It’s not easy to find an observing person. Does that correspond to the difficulty in finding a wise person?

I think so. Whereas James tells us that we should all be swift to hear and slow to speak, oftentimes people are swift to speak and slow to hear. Again, a lack of wisdom.

Therefore:

“Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

Categories: Bible Study, Wisdom

Who Should Be Empowered to Lead the Church?

Categories: Uncategorized

God Is For Us

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

God-is-for-usWhat then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

How many ways can it be said?

  •  God is for (He is on our side, in our corner.) 
  • God is for us. (The all-powerful Creator of the universe is the one who is on our side.)
  • God is for us. (He is on the side of sinners saved by grace; of the believer in Jesus Christ, whom he has reconciled to Himself.)

 Since God is for us, we are assured of everything we need. After all, He did not spare Jesus in giving Him for us, so why would we ever conclude that He would withhold any legitimate need from our lives?

Since God has justified us, how could we ever think that an accusation or charge against us would hold any water with Him? Jesus died for us, rose from the dead for us, ascended and was exalted for us, and who is constantly praying for us. God has proven Himself; He will not bring charges against the believer.

Who or what could ever separate us from this kind of love … the love of our Lord Jesus Christ? The resounding answer is NO ONE can separate us from His love. NOTHING can separate us from His love.

Human beings cannot separate us. Extreme trials, persecution, or perils cannot separate us. Death cannot take us out of God’s deep love. Angels could not do it even if they wanted to. Demons or the devil cannot do it. Nothing created can ever separate the believer in Jesus Christ from God’s great and eternal love. Which means that nothing that exists… apart from God Himself … can ever separate us from God and His love for us. And we know that will not happen, because God sent His Son (John 3:16).

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of Your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Your glorious rest above

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Spread His praise from shore to shore
How He came to pay our ransom
Through the saving cross He bore
How He watches o’er His loved ones
Those He died to make His own
How for them He’s interceding
Pleading now before the throne

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Far surpassing all the rest
It’s an ocean full of blessing
In the midst of every test
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Mighty Savior, precious Friend
You will bring us home to glory
Where Your love will never end
1

For Further Review

1.  What kind of confidence is produced in the life of a person who is absolutely convinced that God is for him?

2.  In your own life, what have been some obstacles that have kept you from gaining solid confidence that God is for you? How can you move past those obstacles into confidence and assurance?

3.  God’s love demands worship. Why not express your heart of worship to God in any way that seems fitting (in writing, by song, or in prayer), as a response to His great love for you in Christ Jesus.

 1 Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (© 2008 Integrity’s Praise! Music/Sovereign Grace Praise)


Redemption’s Highest Heights

January 12, 2015 Leave a comment

The_Unbreakable_ChainAnd we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

How do we know that Romans 8:28 is true? The answer is grounded in the timeless truths of the gospel of God, described in Romans 8:29-30. 

Like the pinnacle of the highest mountain, this passage brings us to the highest of heights of God’s revelation. God has done awesome things … things so gracious and merciful they are hard to even fathom. The implications are for both time and eternity. 

He foreknew us. He knew what would happen before it even occurred. This speaks of His omniscience (of the fact that He knows everything). In fact, there is nothing that can be known that God does not know. He is infinite in His understanding (Acts 15:18; Psalm 147:5). 

He predestined us to be conformed into the image of Jesus. Those whom God saved have a certain destiny; He has one goal for each and every one of us. That goal is to become more and more like His eternal Son. This is His goal because He wants more sons and daughters, and thus more brothers and sisters for Jesus. In other words, God desires to always increase the size of His family. Eternally, He has the best possible Son, the perfect Son. He wants more that are like Him. This is that He might love them in His kingdom just as He loves Jesus. 

He called (invited) human beings to come to Christ, who is the firstborn—the preeminent One—of those who have come out of death and into life. The invitation was to believe the gospel … and for as many as do that, they become children of God (John 1:12-13). 

Those whom He called and who responded to the gospel, He also justified. He made a declaration that they are now righteous in His eyes, fully exonerated and wholly acceptable to Him. Just as Jesus is righteous, so the believer in Christ has been declared righteous (1 John 4:17). We have the same righteous standing as the Son of God. 

Those whom He justified, He also glorified. He made them full of glory. They look nothing like they did in their bodies of sin on earth. Rather, they are glorious as Jesus is glorious (1 John 3:2; compare Revelation 1:10-18). 

Note that each of these amazing declarations of redemption is revealed in the past tense. That means that in the mind of God, it is as though they have already happened. Seeing things from His eternal vantage point rather than from the limitations of time, God sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10), and therefore views all believers in Christ—past, present, or future—as already being in their gloried state … with Him in eternity. 

This is how we know Romans 8:28 is true … God does work all things together for good, for those who are the called according to His purpose. If God can bring the believer out of sin and into glory, then surely He is able to use everything that comes into our lives for His ultimate plan. God cannot be stifled or waylaid in His eternal purposes.

For Further Review

1.  What is the foundation of the truth of Romans 8:28? In your own words, describe what God has done for the believer.

2.  How has Romans 8:28 been misquoted? What is wrong with the various misquotations? How have they changed the intended meaning of the verse?

3.  What is God’s ultimate plan and purpose for every Christian? How does that purpose affect the way we live our lives in the here and now?

 

The Groaning of the Spirit

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment

gift_of_the_holy_spiritLikewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

It is not always easy to admit our weaknesses, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. It is only through the realization of our weakness that we are likely to rely on the Holy Spirt, who is the Divine Helper. It is true that weaknesses are the doorway to strength (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). 

Here we see a specific weakness that we all share, which is weakness in prayer. We are stumped concerning the how of prayer, and often about the content of our prayers. We even struggle with the motivation to pray. 

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is able and willing to give us what we need so our prayers will be heard, and thus be effective (1 John 5:14-15). 

His groanings (sighing) cannot be uttered; that is, they cannot be spoken in words that we understand. Our part is to believe God … to believe Him that the Spirit is praying this way as He intercedes for us. 

The Father is searching our hearts for the prayers of the Spirit, and He knows the Spirit’s purpose in His groanings. The Spirit’s prayers are always spot on. Our part is to just flow with it, to believe the Spirit is helping us, and to trust the outcome of the Spirit’s intercession. 

Through it all, we become better pray-ers as we trust God in our weaknesses.

For Further Review

1.  Think about some of the difficulties or struggles you have had in your own prayer life. How have you dealt with them? What have you learned?

2.  In your own words, describe the meaning and experience of the Holy Spirit making intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered.

3.  Take some time right now to ask God to help you in your weakness in prayer, and then make it a point to specifically trust the Holy Spirit to be the answer to that prayer.

 

From Guilt to Glory!

January 11, 2015 2 comments

WeNOCONDEMNATIONlcome to this devotional on the book of Romans, the book of the gospel of God. This guided study through Romans chapters 1-8 will help you to understand the universal human need for the gospel, the message of the gospel, and the practical implications of the gospel in the lives of true believers.

Every day or two, an attempt will be made to publish the next lesson. In all, there will be 35 individual studies. Feedback or questions are always welcomed.

Get ready … this could be a life changing experience for you!

HOW TO USE THIS DEVOTIONAL

First of all, in order to get a handle on the overall message of the book, read all of Romans.  Be sure to look at the big picture of Romans before you get into the specific passages. Take a moment and actually read through all 16 chapters, which is how the book was meant to be read! This will help you to frame the book and see the forest before you start examining the trees. 

Next, carefully read each day’s Bible passage, in its context. When a Biblical cross reference is given, take the time to turn to that passage and read it as well. Be sure to observe what the passage is saying (its details), to try to understand what a passage means (interpretation), and then to focus on how the passage might apply to your life. 

ABOUT THIS DEVOTIONAL 

This part devotional, part commentary on the book of Romans chapters 1-8 was written by Bill Holdridge, Pastor and Founder/Director of Poimen Ministries, a ministry focused on helping senior (or lead) pastors of churches. 1 

All scripture quoted in this book is from the New King James Version of the Bible. 2 

Some of the material contained in this introduction is from the excellent work by Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible. 3 

For Further Review questions at the end of each day’s lesson include all three elements of inductive Bible study (observation, interpretation, application). But the greatest focus is upon application. What does this passage have to do with our lives as believers? What does is speak into my life? This is the ultimate goal of all Bible study and devotions, to learn that we might grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Therefore it is important to take time to go over these reflection questions and apply them to your own life.     

KEY CONCEPTS IN ROMANS 

The epistles make up the third major section of the New Testament. The Gospels are the Proclamation of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts contains the Propagation of Jesus Christ. The Epistles are the Explanation of Jesus Christ, and the book of Revelation tells of the Consummation of Jesus Christ. 

From the perspective of its human authorship, the letter to the Romans is considered to Paul the apostle’s greatest work, his magnum opus. Its logic, flow of thought, depth of theology and doctrine, and thorough explanation of the meaning of the gospel of Jesus Christ make Romans the go-to book for discovering the implications of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. Once its message is learned, it provides the interpretive basis for understanding the rest of the New Testament letters. 

To quote author Bruce Wilkinson, “But Romans is more than a book of theology; it is also a book of practical exhortations. The good news of Jesus Christ is more than facts to be believed; it is also a life to be lived—a life of righteousness befitting the person ‘justified freely by His [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (3:24). 3 

The epistle to the Romans was written from the city of Corinth near end of Paul’s third missionary journey (55-56 A.D.). He wrote this epistle through an amanuensis (a dictation secretary) named Tertius (Romans 16:22). After it was written, the letter was carried to Rome by a woman named Phoebe, who was a servant in the church in Cenchrea, a city close to Corinth (Romans 16:1). 

The historical importance of the book of Romans cannot be overstated. The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther came to understand the gospel of grace and led Germany and other parts of Europe into true faith in Christ through studying Romans. John Wesley was converted to Christ after hearing a reading of the preface to Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans. 19th century Bible scholar Frédéric Louis Godet commented that “The probability is that every great spiritual revival in the church will be connected as effect and cause with a deeper understanding of this book.”

Paul’s purposes for writing Romans are evident from other places in the New Testament. Overall, the epistle served as a great preparation for his eventual coming to them.

We know from Acts 19:21 that he wanted very much to see this city, the greatest city in the Roman world.

Acts 19:21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

He also wanted to teach the church there and be encouraged by their faith (Romans 1:11). 

Romans 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established…

When in Rome, Paul wanted to win more people to Christ (1:13). 

Romans 1:13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 

He desired that the Roman church help by supported his intended travels to Spain (Romans 15:24). 

Romans 15:24 …whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.

From Romans 15:24 we also learned that his purpose was to enjoy the company of the Roman Christians, at least for a time (Romans 15:24). 

Overall, a main purpose of the book was for Paul to prepare the Roman Christians for his visit by laying out a systematic presentation of the gospel he had been preaching for over 20 years.

The theme of Romans is the gospel of God (Romans 1:16-17). After having studied the Psalms to discover how one could be saved, the reformer Martin Luther asked the question, “Is righteousness something I must strive for to gain it, or is it something I receive?” It was while pondering this question that Habakkuk 2:4 almost flew off the page at him: “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). This same O.T. verse was quoted by Paul in the key passage of the epistle:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. {17} For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

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1 “Poimen” (pronounced poy-main’) is the Greek word for pastor or shepherd. Poimen Ministries is featured at www.poimenministries.com

2 The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

3 Talk Thru the Bible by Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, © 1983 by Thomas Nelson Publishers.