Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

What the heart desires

Posted: May 3, 2016 in Faith
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“Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

When we delight ourselves in the Lord, we are desiring God above all. Then our desires will be His desires. He is pleased to give us Himself. And He is pleased and glorified when we are satisfied in Him.

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God of the small things

Posted: April 6, 2016 in Faith, Life
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Sleepyhead kid

Sometimes we think the Bible only speaks on the big issues. But scripture has very imminently practical instructions and advice in small matters as well. Take Proverbs 27:14 for example:

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
rising early in the morning,
will be counted as cursing.

(more…)

Bible Reading Pro-Tips

Posted: December 14, 2015 in Faith
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Desiring God has a great article title Three Tips for Better Bible Reading. This article isn’t about why one should read scripture regularly. Most Christians I’ve spoken with on the topic already know it’s important…and feel guilty for failing to do so. Many try but get bogged down for one reason or another. The article mentioned provides some thoughts on ways to do so effectively.

[Spoiler Alert: I’m going to tell you what they are, and my take on them, but I still recommend reading the primary article for yourself.]

1) Listen to audio Bibles

I’m a fan of this myself. That’s part of my regular routine. My mind tends to wander while reading anything. I found that listening while I read really helps me stay focused. The article suggested reading in one translation and listening to another. I’d not considered that before. I have a feeling that I would find it distracting (as I sometimes do in church when scripture is read aloud in a translation different from what I’m reading) but I’ll probably still give it a go and see what happens.

Personally I use YouVersion on my iPad (or bible.com on my laptop) both for my reading plan and listening pleasure, but there are other options out there and the article provides links to a few.

2) Read books of the Bible in one sitting. 

This is really effective at giving one a macro level view of a book. We usually break up readings into small chunks which can sometimes cause us to miss things only noticeable in the big picture.

I’ve done this with some of the shorter books or when studying in preparation of a new sermon series (I preach expositorily through books of the Bible).

3) Read without any chapters or verse references.

Have you ever noticed a paragraph or even a sentence broken up by a chapter mark? It happens. The chapter and verse divisions aren’t part of the original text. While these features help us locate specific places in scripture, they can also cause us to lose the meaning or emphasis of a passage. Just this week I discovered a sentence broken into three verses and discovered the emphasis of a passage completely changed when I ignored the verse divisions and read the sentence as a whole.

Bonus: Just keep reading

This is my own addition. One things which used to bog me down was allowing myself to get sidetracked by interesting things. Something would grab my attention and I’d start chasing it down, doing word studies, historical studies, etc. To combat this I started doing a quick underline or note in the margin and move on. Later that day I’ll come back to the passages I read and start looking more deeply into those things which grabbed my attention during reading time.

Well, there’s my two cents. I recommend reading the main article and finding the tools which work for you.

Jude

Posted: June 17, 2015 in Faith
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Jude, as a biblical author, impresses me. He impresses me for his humility. Jude was one of Jesus’ brothers…or rather half-brothers seeing as how Jesus father was God the Father and Jude’s father was Joseph. Even so, he was Jesus brother. Yet in his intro, he doesn’t claim brotherhood with Christ. Rather he says, “a servant of Jesu Christ”. That’s something. We know from the gospels that in the early part of Jesus’ ministry his family was concerned that he might be insane (Mark 3:21). Yet two of the epistles in the New Testament were written by Jesus own brother (the other being the book of James incase you missed that one). What caused these men who thought their brother was bonkers to fall as his feet and call him LORD? I really cannot fathom my own sister saying, “A servant of Jason.” Not in a million years.

No, Jude had a major conversion experience of some kind. As Christ said in Mark 6:4, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Yes this part of Jesus household came to honor him. Not just honor him, but service him. Jude’s conversion was so profound that he doesn’t even use that relationship to put forward his letter. “[A] servant of Jesus…” he says.

Humility is a lost art. In certain circles my grandfather’s name can take me quite far…and I’ve not been above dropping it from time to time in the right ears. Perhaps I should take a note from Jude.

SOAP: 1 Samuel 29:1 – 30:15

Scripture
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6 ESV)

Observation
David and his men had been put through the ringer. Living at the behest of King Achish of Gath in the city of Ziklag, David was expected to join his liege in the Philistine attack on Israel. David had been living a lie, raiding the Geshurites, Girzites, and Amalekites but telling Achish he’d been raiding Judean towns. In reality he was protecting these towns he was supposedly raiding. I’m sure as he and his men joined Achish to attach Israel he was praying for God to intervene. And God did. While Achish was completely fooled by David, the other Philistine kings were not happy about having the Hero of Israel, David who had slain his ten thousands, at their rear. They compelled Achish to send David back. David argued to keep up appearances, but “reluctantly” returned home.

One can imagine the great sense of relief which must have washed over David and his men on being sent back and not having to fight with the Philistines against their own people. One can almost hear the joy and elation, the sounds of praise and cheer which must have accompanied these men on their journey home. And then it was suddenly dashed. Joy was turned to mourning. Good feelings gone.

Upon returning to Ziklag they discovered that it had been sacked by the Amalekites. Their property had been stolen, their families taken captive.

And the people blamed David. In their distress they were ready to stone their lord, the Hero of Israel.

Scripture records that David was “greatly distressed”. Well who wouldn’t be. He’s been bankrupted. All he owns has been stolen. His very family has been enslaved. Then to add insult to injury, his people blame him and want to kill him.

David’s response is interesting. “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” When his world had fallen apart and all was lost, David turned to God. He felt distress, or great distress as scripture says, but he was not controlled or defined by his circumstances. As Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:12b, “… I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

Our strength fails, but God never does. We grow weary, but God is never tired. We become discouraged, but God is Sovereign. Again we are promised in scripture that “…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). Not that all things are good or pleasant or easy, but that for those who love God (notice the qualifier) and are called according to his purpose, they will work out for our good, and I dare add, for His glory.

Application
Focus. In Matthew 14 Peter walks on water. As long as his gaze, his focus, was on Christ he was able to do the impossible. The storm still raged but it affected not his ability to stand on aqua liquida as if it were terra firma. Until…he took his eyes off of Christ and focused instead on the storm.

The storms in my life are great and cover all major areas of my life: my relationship with God, my family, my ministry, my employment, my health. There is no area untouched by the storm at present. Where will I look?

Salvation from even these light momentary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) comes only from God via His Son, Jesus Christ.

Prayer
I lift my eyes up to the hills just outside my window. Does my help come from there? No. Not from the high places. Not from nature. Not from man.

My help comes from You, Oh my LORD, who made heaven and earth. Sovereign God, without variation or shifting shadow, from whom every good and perfect gift comes.

I am the desperate father crying out “I believe, help thou my unbelief!” I am undone. Pick me up and carry me through, oh my redeemer and provider.

The following is a modernization/paraphrase of Bounds of Charity from Some Fruits of Solitude by William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) with some particular application following.

Don’t lend more than you can afford to lose, and don’t refuse to lend money to someone if you can afford it; especially if it can help someone else more than it can hurt you.

If your debtor is honest and able, you will get your money back, if not with interest, then with thanks. If he cannot pay you back, don’t ruin him to regain that which will not ruin you to lose. Remember that you are merely a steward and someone else is your owner, master, and judge.

The more merciful acts you perform, the more mercy you will receive; and if, by using your earthly riches charitably, you gain eternal treasure, then your purchase is infinite: You will have discovered something even better than the key to winning at the stock market or beating the casino.

Applicable Thoughts
My daughter keeps lending out pencils at school. Lending and seldom getting them back. Her generosity has denuded our supply of the wood and graphite sticks. In frustration we told her to stop giving pencils away. This word from Mr. Penn has challenged me. We’re not rolling in dough. In fact right now things are particularly tight, but a box of pencils is nothing: As Christ has said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much…” (Luke 16:10a ESV). I think we need to give her the go-ahead to be generous.

Let This Cup Pass

Posted: June 20, 2009 in Faith
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And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Luke 22:41-44

A cup was often a symbol of suffering and divine anger (used also in Isaiah 51:17 & Ezekiel 23:33).