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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Minimalist Guide to Evangelism

The pastor is riding on a bus in a far away city in a militantly Muslim country.  He has a Bible in his language open on his lap.  A man sits next to him.  The pastor turns to the man and says, “Good morning, do you know anything about this book?  Someone gave it to me, I am not sure what to make of it.   Would you look at this part of it an tell me what you think?”  The man reads the passage either then or later in the relationship he trusts Christ.  This has happened over 500 times.
Evangelism is no more complicated than getting someone to read the Bible...
A man in his 20s in a North African country, again Muslim, hears a broadcast from Monte Carlo.  He is intrigued by what he hears and contacts the station.  They send him a copy of the Gospel of John and a set of questions to work through.  For two years he reads John and works through the questions.  At the end of the two years he trusts Christ.  He seeks help from a itinerate undercover missionary, I do not know how they found each other, and in a while travels to South Korea and takes a MDiv at a seminary.  He is now leading several churches.

At Michigan State a group of guys are sitting on the floor in a dorm room passing out longnecks and talking about the gospel of John.  They are considering questions that I ask them about what they are reading.  A couple come to Christ.

At Duke two students with minimal to no exposure to the Bible are reading 2 Peter with a friend of mine.  Both are blown away by the fact that there is a problem that they have sin and they will be judged by it.  They commit to meet together each week to look at this more.

In an Asian country a man is walking around a track for exercise.  A native of the country begins to walk with him.  The first man mentions that he believes in Christ and the second man is interested.  The first man suggests he read a passage of the Bible.  The next week they talk about what the second man read.  Six months later the second man has entered the kingdom.

What is the common thread here?  We go to seminars, read books, and watch DVDs on how to do evangelism.  We may over complicate it a bit.  Like my friend at Duke said the other day, all we need to do is get people’s nose in the book.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Truth about Nothing

John 5:20 is a challenge to me.  If it is true that we are to follow Christ that we are to imitate Him, as Paul did and exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 11:1; then John 5:20 is my charge as well.  Further when we look at the familiar passage John 15:5 we see that apart from Christ we can do nothing.  We are commanded in John 15:5 to abide in Christ.  It looks to me, connecting the dots between, John 5:20 and John 15:5 that part of abiding must be to seek God’s will continually in all that I do as Christ did.
We do not want to accomplish nothing with our lives.  We do not want to leave a blank canvas...
We want our lives to count.  At least most of the folks I know want that.  What seems to be emerging here is a reality that says anything done apart from the will of God, apart from abiding in Christ, is essentially doing nothing.

I have done a lot of nothing in my life.  Even today.  Not interested in perpetuating that waste.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Priorities

Events have happened in the past week that have caused me to reflect on how we choose what is important.  I work with several men each week either in groups or individually; face to face and via conference calls or Skype.  I have noticed a pattern emerging.  All of them,, regardless of the roles they fill, the culture or country in which they live struggle with using their time effectively.
If we are going to live as believers, the Word of God has to be a priority in our life.  That means somethings may have to go...
At lunch today a friend outlined for me a system of prioritizing all of the roles that we fill.  He has just finished a book on the system so I will not give you details.  The short version is that one assigns priority and time to each role.  If you think this through it will become obvious that we have more roles than we have hours to assign.  Which means that we either have to find more than 168 hours in a week or eliminate some of those roles.  He shared that he eliminated roles.  I asked how he knew which roles he should eliminate based on how God had designed him.  He responded that I was the second or third person who had asked him that.

For those of us wishing to share our faith, and that should be all of us.  When we get busy, even with good things like leading Bible studies or teaching Sunday school, one of the first things to go is our time in the Word just for us.  We study to teach.  We study to share.  But the time to just study to be in the presence of God, just to bask in His glory, without the need to codify what we see there for other’s consumption slips away.

We need that.  Our ministry to our wife and kids demands it.  If we do not have that time, if it is not a priority, we will not be able to sustain godly relationships with them.

Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Effectively Deal with Evil People

Don’t.

Psalm 37:1 – 5 outlines the better course.  That course is for us to follow Christ, doing what He wants us to do.  Leave the evil folks for Him.
How do we Biblically deal with evil people?
If you are like me, we get drawn into battles that we probably should not fight.  We have limited resources, both in time and money.  The best use of the resources and gifts with which God has entrusted us is to use them for the purpose for which He entrusted them to us.  That suggests that we have determined what those gifts might be and have sought Him to find out how He wants us to use them.

Doing that is the real way to thwart evil.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Being Overflowed

There are passages of scripture that are really hard for me to understand.  It is clear what they are saying; I just cannot imagine people saying what is contained in the text.  The second half of 2 Corinthians 7:4 is an example of one of those verses: “I am filled with comfort (or encouragement).  I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction.”  Really?  Paul has been detailing a somewhat strained relationship with the Corinthian believers in his letter to them.  Further he has recounted to them a catalog of attacks on his message, integrity, demeanor, and body.  He is describing his ministry to them in terms of a tough, tough slog.  Yet he describes himself as filled with comfort and overflowing with joy.
How do we experience the same level of encouragement and comfort as Paul?  Or can we?
Something that we miss in our English translations is that both “filled” and “overflowing” are passive voice and “filled” is perfect tense.  That “filled” combination is really difficult to render in English.  Paul is literally saying something to the effect, “I was filled with encouragement in a way that I am still and will remain in a continual state of encouragement or comfort.  I am currently being overflowed with joy…”  I can relate to the last clause; there have been times when circumstances filled me with joy.  I struggle with being in a state of continual encouragement, especially in light of what we know about Paul’s life and ministry not only to the Corinthian church but also the rest of what we know about his life.

The thing that makes this even more overwhelming to me is that this is one of 24 times Paul has referenced “encouragement” or “comfort” in chapters 1 – 7.

As I am working through this book the pattern that seems to be emerging is one of Paul being encouraged or comforted in any and all of the circumstance he experiences.  Why?  The answer seems to be hanging at the front door in 2 Corinthians 1:3 – 4.  There was something about Paul’s relationship with Christ that filled Paul with encouragement and comfort in all that he did.  I do not share as complete an experience of encouragement and comfort as Paul.  I would like to.  I wonder how to tap into that? I wonder if we even can; or was Paul special?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Affliction

In the Wednesday morning group we have been in 2 Corinthians this year, in the last few weeks we have been in chapters 6 and 7.  If you take a couple of minutes to skim those chapters you will notice that Paul talks a bit about affliction and tribulation.  This morning Psalm 34:19 fairly jumped off of the page.  Normally it is the second half of that verse that grabs me, not this morning.  The first half of the verse is the context for the second half.
Contrary to some thought and teaching affliction is normative for those following Christ...
As believers there seems to be an undercurrent in our thinking, much teaching, and a lot of the songs we sing that if I follow Christ life somehow smooths out.  There is an expectation that if life has not been smooth sailing up to the point that we met Christ, trusting Him will calm the storm.  I have even heard messages using the gospel accounts of Christ calming the storm as validation of this notion (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:18, 23-27; Luke 8:22-25).  We focus on the calm with the result that when life gets rough something must be wrong.  That is even taken to the extreme that if one is in a prolonged season of affliction, there must be sin or one is not walking with Christ.

While it may be the case that one in prolonged affliction may need to assess their walk with God, Psalm 34 and 2 Corinthians 6 - 7 indicate that service to Christ is liberally seasoned with affliction and tribulation to the extent that if one is not experiencing that regularly one must wonder if one is on the right track.  Jesus warned us of this in Matthew 10:24ff.

Affliction for those following Christ is normative not exceptional.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Waiting

There have been a number of times in this blog that I have written on waiting, the word shows up about 42 times since we started.  This morning I was reading in Psalm 40:1 – 3, the waiting thing came up again.  I suppose that it grabs my attention because waiting is not something I do well.  I prefer to move, act, do, fix, engage… verbs that describe me are more action than state of being.  In Psalm 40:1, David made is worse for me.  He stated that he waited “patiently,”  Right.  One who has challenges waiting, is really going to respond well to waiting patiently…
Waiting is not my strong suit... especially waiting patiently...
There is much more in these three verses than we have room for here.  I commend them to you for your meditation, but a couple of thing – first, waiting patiently is an acknowledgement of my position before God.  He is the creator of the universe.  I am His servant, He is not mine.  It is contentment in my situation before Him.  It reminds me that I am a living sacrifice in worship of Him, Romans 12:1 -2.

Second, He does not answer for my benefit.  He answers so that others will be drawn to Him when they see His grace and mercy toward me, Psalm 40:3b.  Sometimes, no probably most times, I get that backwards.  My issues press in on me and I want results, move, act, fix… on my terms, when I “need” them fixed.  Waiting patiently reorients my heart to what is really important.

It is a real struggle, at least for me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Place of Idols

Yesterday Ezekiel 14:3 cycled through my reading program (for the past several years I have been using the Book of Common Prayer in my times with the Lord I use the Psalms and Lessons for the Christian Year, my version is old).  I was struck by what God told Ezekiel about those in captivity.  They had put idols in their hearts.
our heart is the place of worship.  Only God belongs there.
In the Scripture the heart is important to God; it shows up 627 times in the Old Testament.  It is the center of life for the Hebrew.  It is God’s place.  It is from where we seek Him.  The nation, His chosen people had replaced Him with idols.  They placed an abomination in a sacred place.

John picks up this theme in 1 John 2:15 – 17.  We are told, not to love, to put the idol of the world in our heart.  Why?  It is God’s place to do so is base blasphemy.

Which begs the question for me, what is in my heart?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teachers

A good friend and I exchanged a couple of e-mails and a short phone conversation in the past 24 hours.  I had suggested that it is the role of the gifts of the Spirit to equip the other members of the body.  He posed the question that if it is the case that all believers can and should come to the Word of God on their own and expect to understand the Scripture based on the promise of John 16:13, why do we need teachers?  He pointed to the gift passages (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4) noting that there does not seem to be an expectation that the gifts would equip others with their gifts at some level rather that they are to operate independently.
What is the real purpose of a Christian teacher?
My response to that is that Romans 12:4 and Ephesians 4:12 have in them the notion that those with gifts are given them to build up, equip, the rest of the body.  That would mean that at some level some of the abilities of the gifted are transferred.  Jesus and Paul modeled this in their ministries and codified it in Matthew 28:18 – 20, John 17:20, and 2 Timothy 2:2.

We are still talking through this.  Thinking through our conversation this morning it seems to me that a teacher has at least 4 roles and they are done concurrently:
  • Teach content
  • Teach in a manner that reveals or demonstrates the method utilized to obtain the content
  • Model the results of good study
  • Demonstrate the infinite depth of the Word, so to create healthy dissatisfaction in those being taught with their grasp of the Word of God, so they will emulate the Berean Christians, Acts 17:11
There may be more or this may need correcting, it is still a work in progress.  What do you think?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Solid Trust?

Lately I have said that the Word does not change, we do, and that is why we see more and more each time we open its pages.  It is also the case that we change by gaining more skill in observation.  Both were probably true for me this morning when I read Psalm 25:1 – 3.  I wrote about this passage twice last September here and here.  I saw something different this time.
Sometimes my trust in God is shaky, what gives me comfort is that I am in good company...
This is one of David’s Psalms, David described as the man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 13:14).  Note that in verse 1 and the first part of verse 2, David declares his dependence and trust in God in no uncertain terms.  I am not at all that certain.  I struggle with trust.  I struggle with being dependent, at times it scares me.  In this uncertainty I was greatly comforted by David’s next two phrases in verse 3:
  • Do not let me be ashamed
  • Do not let my enemies exult over me
It occurred to me that David did not say those things without having real concerns.  There seems to be an element of doubt in the outcome of his trust of God.  That comforts me.  Why, because if David, the man after God’s heart, was uncertain of the results of his trust in God, I am in good company.

It is not a problem to doubt, but we must do with our doubt what David did, admit it to God.  He knows already, He just wants us to acknowledge it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rabbit Trails

I do not know about you but there are times when I read passages of scripture that say things that I do not really understand.  Sometimes I stop and try to check out what the passage is saying other times I let it go.  Unfortunately there are times when I take the latter action more often than not.
One of the things we have to learn in Bible study is when to chase rabbits and when to let them go...
It may be impractical to chase down everything one does not understand, especially if one is just getting into studying the Bible.  We call that chasing rabbits.  But at some point avoiding bunnies becomes lazy study.  Not sure how to tell you how to know when to chase, but I do know that I found myself on the trail of one this morning that I need to follow through to its conclusion.

Probably the best measure of whether you need to give chase to the furry distraction is how much time you have for your study and whether you can complete it if you chase the hare.  One test may be to start briefly down the trail to see if it really ads to the study.  If it does not but seems promising make a note of it so you can come back and chase the trail when you have more time.

That is what I did this morning.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Commit

In Isaiah 45:11 we read, “…ask me about the things concerning my sons and you shall commit to me the work of My hands.”  Reading that just now I was reminded of the critical importance of prayer when it comes to the daunting task of rearing children in this age.  We face incredible pressures that are intentionally designed to thwart our efforts to raise children who love God’s Word and love the Lord.  Most media is negative to overtly hostile to Christianity.  We are compared to radicals of religions that do not follow God.  We are dismissed as uninformed and backward.  But we have a radical power, prayer.
As fathers when we pray we commit our children to the work of God's hands.

When you take some time to look at Isaiah 45:11 several key things come to light.  First, we are invited to come to God in prayer.  He commands us to ask Him.  Then look at the result of that query.  It commits to Him His work.  Think of that.  By the act of coming to Him and seeking His best for our children, it commits His work in them to Him.  That is powerful.

We should probably take Him up on that invitation.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Honor

Today we celebrated my father’s 90th birthday.  About 76 family and friends gathered at my dad’s country club to celebrate and honor his life.  Part of the time I shared a photo presentation of dad’s life.  In putting that presentation together my wife and I sifted through about 4000 pictures that my parents had collected over the span of their lives.  The pictures started before my dad’s birth and covered up to the past few weeks.
What will be the legacy you will leave your family?
 Assembling the presentation reinforced for me the legacy my dad has left.  It is much more valuable than money.  His life has been characterized by honor, faithfulness, loyalty, and the protection and promotion of those in need or encouragement.  He has maintained contact with people he has known for north or 60 years; more than that he has gone out of his way to serve them.

His service to our country in WWII was heroic.  His unit was part of the occupation of Germany post war and was responsible to find and recruit the German rocket scientists that formed the basis for our space program.  It has been and continues to be an exceptional life.

He is a great role model and a constant reminder of what is important for me as a father.  I am honored to be his son.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Like a Child

At supper this evening there was an aquarium.  While we were waiting for our food to come my granddaughter and I went to look at the fish.  I am not sure that she had ever seen an aquarium that size before.  But she was fascinated.  We talked about the fish; where they were going, what they were doing, that they were swimming, what different colors they were, and why they were hiding.  She was drinking it all in and would have stayed there much longer than we had time to spend.  She observed all like it was brand new and it was fascinating to her.
We are to view the Lord and His Word with the fascination of a child seeing an aquarium for the first time...
In Matthew 18:3 Christ tells us we have to be like children to be in His kingdom.  Thinking through that one of the ways that we can be like children is to drink in all of the wonder that is Christ like it is continually new and fresh.  One of the primary ways, of course, that we see our Lord is through His Word.  Dr. Hendricks continually exhorted us that we had to view the Bible with fresh eyes.  To see everything as new like the first time we saw an aquarium up close.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blood Warning

Last Saturday I spoke to a pastor in another country via Skype – that is mind blowing to me, we are meeting for the next few weeks talking about how to handle the Word of God.  This morning I got an email from another pastor in a different country about the same thing.  This ability to meet with people in other countries several time zones away is amazing…  The pastor and I were talking about his sermon for the next day.  He was speaking on Ezekiel 33:1 – 10.  The main thrust of the passage is the role of Ezekiel as a watchman.  He is to warn the people to turn to God, if he does not the Lord will require their blood on Ezekiel’s hands.  This is a direct quote of Ezekiel 3:18 – 21.  I have mentioned before that when something is repeated in Scripture it is a strong highlight.
As believers we are tasked to warn, beg others to be reconciled to God.
Paul reflects Ezekiel’s mission and heart in 2 Corinthians 5:14 – 21.  Paul’s passion leaks through in verse 20.  He begs all men to be reconciled to God.  It would be easy to categorize Paul and Ezekiel as special cases; after all one was a prophet and the other an apostle handpicked by Christ.  But Christ give us the same assignment and has the same expectation on all believers when He prays John 17:20 and Matthew 28:18 – 20.

Those around us need to be warned.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wisdom

The Wednesday morning group is studying 2 Corinthians.  This morning we were at the end of chapter 6.  We were working through 6:14 – 7:1 (it is a bad chapter division – but that is for another time).  If you take a minute to read the passage you will see it deals with being bound together with unbelievers, unequally yoked with unbelievers, or yoked together with unbelievers depending on which translation you use.  Regardless there is direction there that is not a suggestion, but a command.
When the Word challenges us we have to take stock and decide if we are going to submit to the Word or follow the world.
In the discussion this AM all readily agreed that this applied to marriage.  But then there was a discussion on how exactly this impacts our relationship with those who do not trust Christ.  One of the men pointed out that 1 Corinthians 5:9 – 13 tells us that we are to stay in the world and engage with unbelievers.  We tentatively decided that we are to not get into contractual relationships with non-believers when we have a choice.

At the end of the study one of the men said, “I have to think this through.”  The implication was that he had not before engaged with this passage at the level we did this morning.  He sat there deep in thought and repeated himself, then said, “I really need some time to process this.”

His response was dead on.  When we encounter something in Scripture that challenges the way we currently view our life or our world, his response should be ours.  We have to take our confusion or reaction to the Lord and ask Him how to respond.  That is one of the essences of following Christ, submitting our will, our world view, to His Lordship.

It is wise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Order of March

If you are a believer, your charge, my charge, is to share what we know about Christ to those in our sphere of influence.

There are a couple of caveats buried in there.  First is we share what we know, not what we do not know.  If in conversation you are asked about some aspect of Christ for which you do not have an answer, you actually do, it is, “I do not know, but I will find out and get back to you.”  John 9 is probably the greatest example of this in Scripture.
There is an order we are to follow in sharing our faith with others...
The second thing that is buried in there is that in order to know we have to be engaged with the Word of God.  I was reading this morning in Ezekiel 3:1 – 4 and was reminded of the right order of march.  God told Ezekiel to eat the scroll first then go share the words.  Jeremiah followed the same pattern in Jeremiah 15:16.  Ezra 7:10 tells us that Ezra followed the same pattern.  Christ followed the same pattern with His disciples in Mark 3:14.  We are to spend time with God in His Word before we speak to others.  It is from the overflow of our time with Him in His Word that we speak.

The idea here is not that this gives and excuse not to share; rather it is impetus to engage in the Word.  If we do not, I am not clear on what it is we would be sharing.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Different How?

We always ask, or should ask the same four questions when we come to the Word (follow the link for the questions).  So if we asked the questions before – as I asked yesterday – why do we see anew when we come to a familiar passage?
The Bible seems new every time I come to it because I am...
The Scripture has not changed.  God has not changed.  The intent of the Holy Spirit has not changed.  What has changed?  As Chuck stated in his comment yesterday, the only variable in the equation is me.  I have changed.  My life experience is different.  I may have studied other passages that add to my understanding of what I read.  I am different.

You may have heard it said that the Bible can be interpreted in many ways.  Nope.  It means what it means.  We may misunderstand it.  But the Bible is not open to multiple interpretations any more than one of your letters.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Unchanging but Different?

Everyone with whom I study the Bible over time will say something like, “I studied this passage (insert time frame here) and this time I am seeing totally different things than I did then.”
If the Bible is unchanging why does it seem new?
We read in Hebrews 13:8 that Christ does not change.  That is because He is part of the Godhead which is, in theological terms, immutable, unchanging.  We read in 2 Peter 1:4 that the scripture reflects the nature and character of God.

So if the Word of God reflects the unchanging nature of God, how is it that when I come to passages year after year I see more and different things there?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Limits

For the past couple of days I have met with a pastor in Pakistan.  Yesterday we spent time talking about 2 Peter, this morning we talked through Ezekiel 33:1 – 10.  On Tuesday mornings I am in a Bible study with three men; one in Colorado, one in North Carolina, one in Florida.  Skype is the vehicle that is used in all of this.  A couple of days ago I offered to meet with a pastor in Morocco using the same vehicle.  Other than working out the time differences it works exceedingly well.
Most of the limits on our ministry are self inflicted.
The point of all this is that there is no reason that we cannot meet with our kids regularly when they are away at college or working.  If we can do it with those 12 time zones away, we can probably do it with those who are in the same time zone.

We just have to make it a priority.  That is the only limit, the importance we place on meeting with our kids.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Guard Your Pastor

There are seasons when I find myself drawn to a passage of scripture again and again.  In this last year that passage has been Jeremiah 23.
Encourage your pastor in his time with God.  Work with him to guard and protect that time.
There have been a number of events that have driven me there.  Most have been in response to a Christian leader who either spoke without reference to Scripture or else badly mishandled the Word of God in their message.

Embedded in Jeremiah 23 are several significant warnings for those who would choose to share the Word of God.  They seem parallel to James 3:1.  A few years ago I was told by a church consultant that a significant percentage of pastors have begun to download sermons from the internet to preach rather than preparing their own messages.  Verse 30 seems to speak directly to that practice.

Pastors are under incredible pressure and in most cases unreasonable expectations.  The best way a pastor can serve you is to spend much time with his Lord in His Word.  Then to share with you not only what he has gleaned from His presence, but also how you can enter there with him.  Encourage those who have taken on this mantle.  Help them to guard their time in the study.  It is critical not only for them but for the health of your community.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Marinade

I was talking to a friend this morning who sustains a significant ministry.  My objective in talking to him was to affirm his strengths and encourage him in the constant battle that is ministry.  One element of our conversation was the crucial and central role the Word of God plays in any effort we make to impact others for Christ.  That is not just true of pros it is true for all of us.
The best expression of love to those around us is to soak our gifts and abilities in the Word of God.
Romans 12:3 – 8; Psalm 139:13 – 16; and Ephesians 2:10 remind us that we are personally, intentionally formed by God with gifts and abilities for a specific work.  That may be as critical as leading your family to a sincere faith in Christ, or as far reaching as winning a country for Him.

What we discussed is that our greatest act of love is to take our gifts, nature, and life to the Lord through marinating in His Word.  That time infuses your character with His.  As you are exposed to His majesty and glory through His Word and the Holy Spirit’s work of working that into your life, you are filled to overflowing with your experience of Him.  It is from that overflowing that we must engage with others.

The enemy does not want us to reach this point.  He will do all that he can – and that is a lot – to keep us out of the Word, away from the presence of the Lord.  It is a battle that regardless of the size or scope of your personal ministry – all of us in Him have a personal ministry – you will have to fight.

It is a battle worth fighting.  It is the best way we can love those around us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

S'More

Yesterday looking at Psalm 96:7 – 10 we noticed that the Lord asked us to “ascribe” to Him who He is with our family.  That expectation has been consistent throughout the arc of Bible history.
Family is central to God's plan of redemption.
He started with a family, Adam and Eve.
  • When He chose to start over He started with a family, Noah’s
  • When He began to build the nation of Israel He started with a family, Abram and Sarah.
  • It was His expectation that His story would be transmitted through family.  Deuteronomy 6: 6 – 7; 20; Psalm 78:4 – 8.
This has profound implications on our choices when it comes to rearing our children and how we handle our careers and other life choices.  Paul reinforces this in his exhortations on the family in Ephesians 5:16 – 6:4 and Colossians 3:18 – 4:1.

We do well to pay attention.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ascribe S'More

A couple of days ago I wrote about the command to “ascribe” or acknowledge the reality of who God is.  I ran into it again today with a slightly different emphasis.
Read Psalm 96:7 – 10.  Note the commands here:
  • Ascribe (again 3x)
  • Bring
  • Come
  • Worship (again)
  • Tremble
  • Say
There are similarities and differences between this passage and Psalm 29:1 – 2.  The interesting thing to me here s were the psalmist begins; with families.
We are to ascribe to the Lord who He is with our families.  How does that command impact our focus?
The command is for families to ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Think about the implications of that on how we approach worship.  How we approach rearing our children.  How we approach their education.

Think about the implications on our personal walk with God.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rejoice?

Read Psalm 97:1, Psalm 99:1, and Isaiah 43:13.  (You should be able to hover your mouse over the verse and it should pop up for you to read).

Whenever the topic of the Sovereignty of God comes up in a Bible study or a Sunday school class, there are some pretty consistent reactions.  One is denial.  Folks say that man is free and that God cannot force man to do anything.
How do you react to the idea that God is in sovereign control of your life?
Another reaction is confusion.  Folks do not understand or cannot fit what the Bible says about God’s control of the universe, like that of Isaiah 43:13, with their experience.

Sometimes the reaction is similar to Psalm 99:1, fear.

I do not remember anyone initially responding the way the Psalmist commands in 91:1, with rejoicing.  In my experience that is a learned response.  One has to come to grips with who God is and that the foundation of His rule, as it says in Psalm 97:2, is righteousness and justice.  Combine that with the certainty of His actions as depicted in Isaiah 43:13, and rejoicing in His irresistible righteousness and justice begins to make sense.

Regardless, He reigns.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Alone

A connection exists between Psalm 72:18 and John 15:5 that I had not seen before;
  • Psalm 72:18 – God alone works wonders
  • John 15:5 – Apart from me you can do nothing
Nothing happens unless God is involved.

That seems to reinforce the total dependency we have on our Lord.  What do you think?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ascribe

I have written a couple of times about Psalm 29, here and here.  The Lord captured me there again this morning.  I was struck by the imperatives in verses 1 and 2:
  • Ascribe 3 times
  • Worship once
The thing that struck me here is that these commands to ascribe and worship do not in any way change the nature of God or elevate Him in any way.  He is who He is.  My recognition of reality does not validate reality.  But there is more to the word.
Why bother to acknowledge reality when that reality is reality regardless of our response?
Looking at the definition of “ascribe” we find: “give, i.e., speak words which will communicate a response” (James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997)).  Think about that definition as you consider Psalm 29:1 – 2.  David’s choice of words here is more than just us crediting the Lord with who he is, acknowledging reality.  Ascribe has in it the expectation that our acknowledging reality is more than an intellectual exercise but is a committed response; a response that changes us.

We ascribe and then the actions of our lives are to follow; not to do so is base hypocrisy.  Jesus echoed this in Luke 6:46.  One cannot “ascribe” or call Christ Lord and not obey, that is not an available option.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Comprehensive Direction

Yesterday’s post ended asking, “What does it look like to seek the Lord?”  There may be the beginnings of an answer in Isaiah 66:2 – 3.  Take a moment to read those and note the central contrast.
What is one crucial way to seek God?
Here is the contrast I saw there:

The one to whom the Lord will look The one who is looking to their own ways
Humble VS Chosen their own ways
Contrite of Spirit Their Soul delights in their abominations
Trembles at God’s Word

It seems that there is a binary choice here. Either one chooses to follow God’s Word or they choose to follow their own way. So it seems that a key component to seeking the Lord is a commitment to humbly and contritely engage with the Word of God so that it creates a deep respect for Him. That seems to indicate a life pattern not something that is not one and done.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Universally Comprehensive

“All,” is a word that I tend to avoid.  In my experience nothing seems to happen all of the time.  In our marriage we do not say to one another that the other always does whatever.  It is not true and tends toward defensiveness and escalation of conflict.  Even positive “alls” are avoided.  They are typically not true either.  I do not do anything consistently, except perhaps sin.
Seeking God seems to be a priority with significant benefits...
So when I read Psalm 34:4 – 10, I am struck by the universal declarations about God’s provision that David makes:
  • Verse 4 – delivered from all my fears
  • Verse 6 – saved out of all troubles
  • Verse 10 – not in want of any good thing
Stunning.

What is the catch?  There is not one but there is a prerequisite:
  • Verse 4 – I sought the Lord…
  • Verse 6 – This poor man cried and the Lord heard…
  • Verse 10 – They who seek the Lord…
The message seems to be clear.  Seeking the Lord is important and results in deliverance, salvation, and provision.

That begs the question what does seeking the Lord look like.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Where to Start

You may be interested in starting a reading program for the year in the Bible.  Good Idea.  It is not a good idea to start at the beginning and work your way through, especially if you have not read through the Bible previously.  You will get stuck in Leviticus.  If somehow you make it through there Numbers will do you in.
If you are going to start reading the Bible this year, 1 John is a good place to dive in.
If you and your kids want to start reading together, might I suggest 1 John?  As you read through the book underline the word “know.”  Let me know what you see.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Beginnings

Yesterday one year ended.  Today one begins.  It is thought that we start over with a clean slate to make of the year what we will.  You and I both know that is not the case.  The challenges we faced yesterday are still with us.  But it is the case that times of transition are good times to reflect and move toward change in our lives.
Instead of resolutions, what new beginning can we make for this new year?
I am not a proponent of New Year’s resolutions.  They set us up for failure.  I am a proponent of new beginnings.  I might suggest one for you to consider.  Take a minute to read Revelation 19:11-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:13 – 18, and 2 Peter 3:8 – 13.

The key thought in those passages for me is 2 Peter 3:11.  The beginning I would suggest is to begin to live in light of the reality of Christ’s return.  To daily ask the question Peter suggests and Paul reinforces in Ephesians 4:1, Colossians 1:10, and 1 Thessalonians 2:12 that we walk worthy of our calling, our Lord, and our God.

That would be a good beginning.